This is another short story that I am considering featuring in the anthology, but I would love to have some feedback. Please spread it around and post, comment, repost and reblog please. And thank you in advance for the support. It is a rough draft so please don’t be too harsh about grammatical or punctuation errors, but also please don’t hesitate to draw my attention to it.
Another Time, Another Place
“Dammit, Grayson! I trusted you!” Nomie screamed, throwing his phone across the room in a fit of rage after he screamed at her for invading his privacy when she insisted upon looking through his texts. It hit the wall and she hoped she’d broken it to smithereens. She wanted to throw the computer across the room after she’d found his email open but was hoping to have a civilized talk about it first.
“It’s not what you think! Tony has been the one talking to all those girls! I don’t know why you’re going through all my stuff, anyway. I have nothing to hide!”
“Using your email? Really? And how dare you accuse me of not trusting you; I did until I saw those messages, and it’s not like I deliberately went on the computer to look at your stuff! I’ve never questioned you about your privacy before, but if you have nothing to hide then why did you make such a big deal about it when I asked for your phone PIN? How stupid do you think I am?”
“I don’t!” Grayson protested. “I don’t think you’re stupid. If Tony’s wife would have found out she would have freaked! That’s why I gave him my email info so he can use it from his house.”
Nomie’s world spun and as he spoke, she started to believe his words. He was so warm, so convincing. She knew that he would never hurt her. But that night as he held her in bed, something inside her kept her awake as he held her. She cried silently to herself as he snored in a deep sleep, cutting through her eardrums.
She wriggled out of his tight grip and went to the bathroom to wipe her face. How could he do something like that to her? He wouldn’t. She knew that in her heart. It was stupid of her to read his emails even if he’d left it open. He was right when he accused her of not trusting him after she questioned him about cheating. She looked in the mirror at her puffy-eyed reflection and scolded herself for being so silly. Then she slipped back into bed to a troubled night of sleep.
The next day while Grayson was at work, Nomie tried to forget it all but she just couldn’t focus. She sat at the computer to get some work done for her boss, the invoices she had planned to have done the day before when she ran across the email that stared her in the face, telling Tony, or Grayson, as she didn’t know what to believe, how good he was in bed. But she didn’t get past typing the date. May 10, 2015. She started crying, remembering what she’d found the morning before. She remembered that the phone had hit the wall but wasn’t sure about the damage yet. She went to where it had hit but it was gone, so she walked into the kitchen to grab a soda and found the phone on the kitchen counter. It was banged up pretty good and didn’t seem to work. Curious, she tried to turn it on—Nothing. He probably left it knowing it was a goner. Or was it?
She plugged it into the charger and turned it on. There were signs of life in it! He’d never given her the passcode but she tried the PIN from their mutual bank account. It worked, but she wished it hadn’t. The text messages and voicemails she found were heartbreaking. She recognized a few of the girls’ names from his email account, and she knew from what was said that the messages were not intended for Tony as he’d claimed, but had to be for Grayson. The last one she read before breaking down was sent ten minutes ago. “Where r u? R we still on for lunch today?” It was from some girl named Chrissy, the girl he talked to most.
In a midst of a panic attack the size of Texas, Nomie slunk to the kitchen floor and sobbed uncontrollably, saying an unintelligible prayer that it would all go away and that things would be different. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to know about these things, but she wished he’d never betrayed her trust. She knew she had to leave him, but how could she? She hadn’t heard his side, so maybe there was an explanation like with the emails. And maybe he’d die in a horrible accident on the way home and she wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. She felt guilt at her hope for his demise.
A cold wind whooshed by her, but she was too busy to truly notice. A few minutes later, she felt a presence. There was a thing standing in her kitchen that looked like a shadow that had been burnt to a crisp, but there was something sympathetic in its blue eyes as it looked upon her. She felt a calm about this entity, as if he, or she or it, was going to make everything okay.
“I know what happened, you poor thing. And I can make it all go away.”
She was desperate but cautious as she stared at it for a moment, trying to take it all in. Maybe it was just a hallucination. “How?” she asked, drawing the word out with skeptical reservation.
“He betrayed you. I can take you back to another time, another place, before the betrayal began. I can make it so that it never happened.”
“You can take us back to before all of this even started?”
“Yes,” said the crispy creature. “But in exchange, you have to give me your soul. Fair deal?”
“What does that mean?” she asked hesitantly.
“It means you can have happiness with your beloved once again while you’re both here on Earth, but your soul will be mine for Eternity.”
Without putting any thought into anything else that the Shadow-Thing said except for “happiness with your beloved once again,” she sniffled and whispered a feeble, “Fair enough.”
“And one more thing. You won’t remember anything that happened these last few days. I wouldn’t want that interfering with your happiness. I’ll take you back to a time before the affairs began.”
“When was that?”
“Chrissy was the first. He started a friendship with her on February the fifteenth of 2013. Do you remember the day before? He took you out to a nice Valentine’s Day dinner. He even went into work earlier than he had to because he couldn’t bear being home without you. That morning, they both stopped in to get a cup of coffee at the convenience store and stood in line together. Every day after that, Chrissy stopped at the store hoping to catch him and even waited until she saw his car before she’d set foot in the store. It was around March that he started falling for her and took her up on a lunch date, and when he got away with seeing her, he started seeing the others. But I’m sure I’ve already told you more than you can handle in your delicate state. I can change all that; I can make it so that they never even cross paths.”
“That bastard!” Nomie screamed. She thought of how she and Grayson had a nice dinner and went home early since they both had to work the next day, but they made up for the early-night-in in bed. Afterwards, he spooned her and gave her small kisses along her shoulder, caressing her body gently with his fingertips as he whispered sweet words in her ear. “I love you, baby. I hope I made your Valentine’s Day as good as you’ve made mine,” he said as she drifted to sleep, still feeling his loving touch on her skin. It was so perfect. “And I’ll forget all of this?”
She sighed, desperate for relief from the pain in her mind, heart and body. “Yes.”
Suddenly everything went black. She woke up on February the Fourteenth, 2013. It was the same as it was two years ago, but she didn’t remember it. She had a sense of deja vu all day but couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. But she ignored it. She was just excited to get home from work after he’d sent her a text about how he had a special surprise for her.
That night she went to bed feeling the most love for him she’d ever known for anyone. From the Five-Star restaurant to the sex, everything was perfect as she curled up in his arms and fell asleep in a state of euphoric bliss under his touch.
The next morning she still felt that sense of deja vu, but was still high from the magic of the night before to think much of it. He sat on the bed buttoning his shirt with a sly smile, He motioned to her with a “come here” gesture and pulled her in, giving her a long, seductive kiss. “Too much of that and both of us will be late to work. If we make it in at all,” he laughed. “That would be fine by me,” she said, wishing she could just lay in bed with him all day. Then she looked at her watch. “Well I’d better get going, I think I’m going to be cutting it a bit short here.”
“All right, baby. I still have forty-five minutes, maybe an hour before I have to leave. Gonna be lonely here without you.” He gave her a sad puppy dog look and she smiled. Then he pulled her in for one final kiss before she left the room. He heard some noise from the kitchen before the front door closed and her car started up. He felt so much more love from him than ever, but couldn’t figure out why. Maybe it was last night’s escapade. And he also had a strange sense of deja vu.
He was going to leave early because the night before was so wonderful with Nomie that he was missing her like crazy, but something told him not to. It was a nagging feeling in his gut that if he left early, things wouldn’t pan out the way that Fate, or possibly some other Entity, had designed it to. Instead, he passed time by sending out a few emails. He didn’t realize that he’d let time slip away and then he headed out the door, knowing he would have to speed a little to get to work in time.
It was around 9:51 on the morning of February 15th that Nomie received the call that Grayson had been in a terrible accident. “Is he okay?” she asked with her heart pounding.
The officer on the other line hesitated before saying, “I’m sorry; Grayson didn’t make it.” He didn’t want to tell her that not only had his car been T-boned by a big rig, but it had pretty much crushed Grayson’s car with him in it. He had briefly rehearsed the right words to say to her before calling, but in a situation like this, he found it difficult.
A guy from the cleanup crew yelled, “We got another chunk of him over here!” as the officer grimaced at the lack of couth, hoping his voice hadn’t carried over the phone.
As the officer explained what had happened, Nomie crumpled to the floor, screaming as her co-workers ran to her to see what was wrong. her boss drove her home, promising that he would look after her car and told her to keep in touch and take a little time off if she needed to.
Grayson’s family was notified by police, which she was grateful for since she barely had the strength to relay it to her mother without choking up. Her mother called the rest of the family and ten minutes later showed up at her doorstep.
Nomie was quiet and could barely eat. She went into the corner of the living room where the computer was and noticed that Grayson hadn’t turned his computer off. Desperate to know what some of his last thoughts were, she sifted through his “sent” folder. Every message she came across mentioned her in some way, but the very last one was to his brother who was having girl troubles.
“If you ever find a girl like Nomie, don’t let her go. I hope someday you’re as lucky as I am.”
The tears began to flow in a neverending torrent. He was the most loving, caring, faithful and loyal husband any woman could ask for.
I’m compiling a bunch of short stories and would love to have some input on what everyone thinks of this one. It would be GREAT if you could like, share, comment, post and repost! This was longer than I wanted it to be but I think it’s still short enough to grab the attention of the reader, but I don’t know—You tell me 🙂
“You’re next,” Aunt Marie whispered to Bridgette as everyone cheered while the groom kissed the bride.
Bridgette resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. Aunt Marie could be so condescending and was always on her about not having kids or being married. What business was it of hers, anyway? She’d been with the man she thought she would marry, her high school sweetheart, for nearly nine years and didn’t want to go through that heartache again. It was only two years after she’d left the scumbag, not really time enough to mend the wound or learn to trust someone enough to have his children. Sometimes when she’d had enough of Aunt Marie, she would say, “I wish I’d had kids with Jake,” and then Aunt Marie would question why, reminding her of the scores of women he had cheated on her with. Aunt Marie just didn’t get it.
This was Bridgette’s cousin’s first marriage, Aunt Marie’s other niece, and when the date was finally set, it was all everyone talked about for the past few months, and not it was finally here. Bridgette sat through it with a mix of emotion: Boredom, frustration, envy, jealousy, and joy that since it would finally be over soon she wouldn’t have to hear about it as much. She hated all this wedding stuff but something inside her felt like she and Jake should have been the ones exchanging vows. She couldn’t decide whether she loved or hated the idea of being his wife. She’d just found out a few weeks ago through some mutual friends that he was getting married and while she didn’t care on one level, she was a bit resentful on another. And on yet another plane, she felt pity for the poor girl he was going to marry. From what little Bridgette knew of her, she could tell this girl deserved better.
Great, she thought as her cousin rounded up all the single women to catch the bouquet. And when the flowers were tossed, they went right toward Bridgette. Instinctually she raised her hands, and though she didn’t intend to catch it, she did.
“I told you that you were next!” cried Aunt Marie with a tone that Bridgette took as, “I told you so!” but could have just been excitement. It can be hard to tell the meaning behind the voice inflections of a bitch.
Desperate to get away from the fuss, Bridgette found a little table and flagged a caterer walking by with a tray of half-full wine glasses. She took two. One more comment about how she’d caught those damn flowers and was next in line to be married and she swore to everything holy that she would snap.
“Hey. I’m Jim,” said a guy she’d only known to be a friend-of-a-friend of her cousin’s boyfriend-now-husband. “Mind if I sit here?”
At a glance he wasn’t her type, but even so, she said, “Suuuure,” in a monotone lack of enthusiasm. And as they chatted, she soon she found the neverending supply of wine loosening her tongue as she complained of her ex-boyfriend and what he had put her through. But Jim was very sweet and understanding. And before she knew it, they were dancing and laughing.
A week later, she found that she had fallen hard for him despite herself. She’d forgotten her ex. She’d forgotten all the pain. And one year later, things still felt the same. They were married in a ceremony that made her cousin secretly jealous, and Aunt Marie was already asking when they were going to have kids.
Bridgette found herself pregnant three months after the wedding and was overjoyed. She’d planned to keep it a secret from Aunt Marie until the baby was born just for spite, but knew that she probably would slip up and she’d find out through the grapevine. However, she made sure that Aunt Marie was the last and least person she called. Bridgette and Jim couldn’t have been happier.
One morning, Bridgette got out of bed to answer a text on her cell phone. She was seven months along in her pregnancy and couldn’t wait until the baby was finally born. What a relief it would be on her body! And as she slowly got out of bed, she asked herself why she didn’t just put the stupid phone on the nightstand?
It was her ex-boyfriend. Jake. The last person she’d expected. He’d left a text message saying that his marriage was failing. She smiled to herself. She hadn’t talked to him in ages. The last time was two or three weeks after the breakup when he begged her to come back and she had said no, only with much more color. But now he was coming to her as a shoulder to cry on. He wanted to get together for coffee so he could talk. She was the only one that he’d ever really opened up to, and now that his marriage was in shambles and he could no longer talk to his wife, he must’ve realized how alone he truly was.
Bridgette responded to the coffee date offer with a “When and where,” and he replied back with a place, time and date. “C u there,” she replied. She had no intention of going because he scheduled the meet for Thursday afternoon, when she’d be at work, but it’s not like she would have gone if her life depended on it. She didn’t even find much joy in gloating over his marital misfortune because she’d moved on from the hurt he had caused, although she kind of wished she’d seen him get his dose of Karma when she actually cared instead of this feeling of indifference. But standing him up when he really needed someone would be her final act of “Screw you!” unless he didn’t get the picture and decided to text her back to ask why she didn’t show. Then she could tell him just that in a text, and that would be that.
She struggled to the kitchen to get a drink of water and then to the bathroom to prepare for a shower. Since she had a couple of days off from work, she was going to make the most of it and take it easy.
While she was in the shower, Jim came home early to surprise her with some gifts. Bridgette’s phone was on the bed as a sound went off indicating that she’d had a message. He picked it up thinking it would be from her mom or one of her friends; it wasn’t abnormal for either of them to use each other’s phone.
“C u then sweetie love Jake” the text read. Jim instantly recognized the name: Jake. He remembered that name from Bridgette’s drunken rant at the wedding, but he thought she loved him enough to forget Jake since he’d never heard her utter the name since. The pain stung him as he scrolled through their messages and he could feel his stomach flip. It felt like a hazy dream as his world crumbled. Like none of this was actually happening.
He dropped the bouquet he’d brought home for her. He walked over the flowers, crushing them into the carpet as he strolled to the kitchen and grabbed something from a drawer. For a moment he stopped dead in his tracks as tears began to stream down his face, then he wiped them away with his sleeve and composed himself before going back into the bedroom and taking a seat on the bed. Then he simply waited for her to finish her shower.
“You’re home early, Jim!” she said with surprised delight. Then she noticed the flowers on the floor. “Those for me?” she asked, screwing up her face and pointing toward them as she wrapped a towel around her head. “Wow, you’re awfully quiet. What’s up? Something wrong?”
Jim sat silently, cocking his head lovingly as he looked at her. He wanted to be able to remember her like this forever. Vibrant, beautiful, alive with that glow of an expecting mother.
She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him. “What’s wrong, baby? Can I make it better?”
He put his arm around her and pulled her in, holding her close. Then she felt several sharp pains slicing through her back and into her body. The light of life was barely visible in her eyes, but they still looked at him questioningly. She coughed, blood gurgling from her full lips as she barely clung to life by a thread. He kissed her gently, then laid her on the floor and picked up the crushed and blood-soaked flowers, laying them across her belly.
“It’s okay, baby. I love you. I love you,” he said softly moving his hand down to her tummy to see if he could feel the baby kicking. “Hey there, little one. You must be sleeping now, huh?” And then she took two short breaths as all signs of life—hers and the baby’s—left her body.
Both the tradition of catching the bouquet and Aunt Marie’s words were both proven to be premonitory. Bridgette had been next.
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Watchers is an excellent blend of gore, perfectly executed plot, likeable characters and laugh-out-loud humour. The zombies were not the Romero-esque style, but they were equally creepy if not moreso. And, as a zombie buff, I found P. A. Douglas’ brand of horror to be refreshingly original and stand-out in the mass wave of the undead genre. There was an obvious amount of time and thought put into this book, and he doesn’t merely follow the living dead trend, but makes it his own. His voice is one of few that shows us that not everything has been done already.
One thing that I feel is abosolutely necessary to a great plot is characters. There was not a single character that I didn’t like and their flaws made them endearing. I instantly fell in love, particularly with Mr. Hardy and Ben Love. Everyone had something unique to bring to the story. I was praying that they would all get out alive and unscathed, and even through the dramatic parts of the story, it’s so fast-paced that there’s no time to mourn (although I’m not going to say who makes it out alive and who doesn’t). The cast of players were painted with such detail and portrayed with all of the emotion and depicted with traits that make each of us out here in the real world human. Not only did that make the story enjoyable, but terrifying. Since the characters were so real, and because I can see people I know (including myself) in the characters, it was easy to envision myself in the book. Add to that a geographical location that mirrors Anytown, USA (even though it was set in a certain place), and you might find yourself anxiously scanning the horizon for the first sign that the Watchers are coming.
I was turning pages, squirming in my seat and yelling, “DON’T GO IN THERE! RUN!” There were even parts that had me laughing out loud! It was a combination of the unexpected coupled with comic timing and funny lines that provided a break in the tension.
This story was terrifying with some gore. And yes, I can actually say that I found it enjoyable and even delightful, something that is not often said about horror stories. For me, this book was about a group of people thrust into a horrific situation, whereas many horror writers focus on the horror first with the characters and plot feeling more like an afterthought of minor details. P. A. Douglas has conquered that by maintaining an even balance of plot, characters, and total gore!
I rarely read anything outside of the horror genre, but if P. A. Douglas had stripped away all of the scary parts, this book would still have captured my attention. That’s how much I loved it.
I started reading the other book I got by P. A. Douglas, and I can’t wait to see what surprises are held in RANCID.
Stay tuned for the RANCID review!