#EVERyTuesdayWordplay Week 20 : Wait

“Don’t say a fucking word. Not one word. Don’t do anything. Wait. Just. Wait.” A thought learned from experience. From lost friendships, destroyed careers, and countless times I hadn’t waited. Where I’d paid for not waiting.

“Breathe.” Another bit of wisdom from my thoughts. A long, deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take a second. A third if needed. More if you have to. “Breathe. And Wait.”

I closed my eyes and took that deep breath. Then a second, third, and fourth.

“Music. Listen to the music in your memories.” A third bit of wisdom, learned from decades of emotional torture. “Just remember something.” Then, the words, and sounds came back from my memory.

I once had an understanding that everything would go my way
But now we’ve come too far along for me to hold on to my own beliefs
I’m not in it for the fun of it but for the pain
I’m not at all interested in your temporary fame
And the same old song we sing(1)

I wished I could leave. Walk out of the room. Out of the building. Go find a beach, stand on the sand, and watch the ocean. Just to escape the reality, the constant noise, the constant insanity of life.

Hell, I couldn’t even reach for my headphones, they weren’t allowed at work. And, no music in the workplace. Some people found it disruptive to their work processes. No pictures at your desk, no comic strips, nothing that was a form of self expression. No plants. Nothing.

A machine world. Filled with people. People who knew exactly how things were. I knew that. I saw them speak to each other. “Let’s make our appearance at Judy’s Birthday Celebration. They have cake.” I could almost see them wink at each other. Even if they didn’t want to go, they went. Because. It’s what you did. “How are you today?” And the answer was always, “Fine.”

“Wait. Just. Wait. Sit here. With your hands on the keyboard. And text windows all over the screen. And wait.” Noise. The noise of silence. Have you ever heard the overhead lights? The high pitched whine they make? The air being forced through the vents into the room. The same keyboard at everyone’s desk, attached to the same computer, making the same clicking sounds. With the same fans making the same racket in their computer cases. Endlessly.

The clock said 4:56. “Wait. Another 4 minutes. Wait. It’s almost over.” God, how I hated the lights. They drained the soul, the life, out of everything. “Only 4 minutes, and you can escape.”

Yes. Escape. To the car. To drive home. With a zillion other people I’d never met. To wonder if I’d make it home alive, or if someone would crush my car, with me in it, as I waited. In the traffic.

“Wait. Just. Wait. And don’t forget to breathe.”

480 Words (not counting footnote)

For week 20 of Ever Addams weekly #EVERyTuesdayWordplay Flash Fiction prompt. Sometimes, sensory overload triggers panic attacks. Life’s a headache sometimes, isnt’ it. Go read the other stories for prompt #20.

(1) – “Here Come The Vultures”
Songwriters: Guus Eikens / Martijn Westerholt / Johanna Wessels
© Robot Of The Century Songs, A・k Company Limited, Kobalt Music Netherlands International B.V.


#EVERyTuesdayWordplay Week 16 : Burn

My hand wouldn’t type. I tried several times, but my hand wouldn’t type, except maybe random shit that didn’t do anything. “Hold still, fingers, and do what I’m telling you to do!”

I was happy I didn’t say that out loud, everyone would have thought I was nuts, talking to my fingers. I tried several more times, before I realized my hand was warning me I was bordering on a panic attack, if not already in the midst of one.

“Step back, dude. Step back.” I stepped back from the computer on the workbench. Just one step, but it put it out of my reach, and left my hand hanging in air. “Breathe.” I took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Again.” I repeated the deep breath.

My hand was hanging in the air, still, its fingers visibly shaking, clearly not stable, and not calm. “I’ve got work to do, I can’t be dealing with this right now!”

Another deep breath, and I forced calmness from my shoulder, down the length of my arm to my wrist, and then my hand, and watched the shaking slowly stop. “Better.”

It was time to step back up to the workbench, and pick up where my fingers had stopped working.

That’s when the phone rang. Of course, that’s when it would ring. Me on the verge of coming apart at the seams was the perfect time for some helpless without their computer human to call and ask if it was ready yet, and plead for us to finish it so they could get their work done that night.

“Computer Repair Center, can I help you,” I answered the damn phone. It was frightening how calm my voice was, with a hint of glad to hear from you optimism in it.

Sure enough, it was one of the customers, begging us to fix their computer first, “I have a presentation at work tonight, at eight. It’s on that computer. I’m desperate.”

“I’ll do the best I can.” Nice, calm answer, that defused the anger on the other end of the line, and left me wondering how I to complete seven hours of work on a computer in under three hours.

That’s when the manager walked in, stopped in front of a particular computer, and gave this order, “The client just called me, wanting to know why their computer isn’t fixed. Told them I’d make sure it was the first one we got off the bench.” So, he looked right at me, “They approved a restore, and updates. That takes three hours. Get on it.”

My hand started shaking again, while I looked for the operating system installation media. Of course, I couldn’t find any. “If I find out who’s been walking off with the installation media, I’m gonna kill them!”

And that’s when everyone got as far away from me as they could. “He wants to burn the whole building down again, y’all. Such a short temper, that one.”

497 Words

For week 16 of Ever Addams weekly #EVERyTuesdayWordplay Flash Fiction prompt. Sometimes, sensory overload triggers panic attacks. Life’s a headache sometimes, isnt’ it. Go read the other stories for prompt #16.

#MenageMonday Week 03×05 : A Halloween Story

James sat at the bus stop, wishing its glaring lights were off, as they hurt his eyes. “Besides. They perfectly illuminate everyone here, making us perfect targets for some idiot with a gun. Target practice. And we’d be the targets. Never see them, ‘cause they’re in the dark.”

Worse, he was alone, the only person at the stop. Sophie’s Halloween Party had ended, right at 11:00 that night. James wound up having to catch the bus. Everyone else had cars to drive, or ride in. Not James. No one even offered.

Sophie shooed him out, and locked the door behind him. All he could do was catch the midnight bus home. The last bus. If he missed that, he got to walk, or sleep on the bench at the bus stop. That didn’t work for him. The walk was 12 miles. He wouldn’t get home until damn near dawn. Staying at the bus stop all night wouldn’t work either. He’d be awake the entire time, and watch the sun come up.

James wasn’t scared of the dark, really. He was scared of what was in the dark. The things, the people, he couldn’t see. They could be there, just outside the reach of the bus stop lights, watching him already. Waiting for him to drop his guard so he’d be easy pickings. Maybe someone would sneak up behind him, and bash him over the head. Or perhaps a couple of giant rats would come out of the dark, teeth gnashing, and chew him up.

“Sometimes, I swear,” he stood up, and walked around the bench a few times. “It’s like my brain cells laugh at me.”

He imagined his brain cells, pointing out an endless of possible disasters that could happen, doing their best to make him anxious, cause him to panic. He could almost hear their evil laughter as they brought up endless ideas and thoughts on how he could end up dead, waiting for the bus.

In desperation, he pulled out his phone, and checked the time. 12:31 AM, and the bus still hadn’t arrived. Perhaps it had broken down somewhere. Or been hijacked by some dude with a gun. Maybe the driver had a heart attack, and was dead, inside the bus, somewhere down the road, and would never arrive.

“Fricking brain cells.” James shook his head. “Shut up!”

He sat down on the bench, and waited, as his brain cells declared he should find a sheet of paper, draw a target on it, and stick it on his chest.

When the sun came up, James was still there. Waiting. He woke up when someone poked him, “Dude! Let the lady sit down!”

The lady had winked at him, and giggled, “Somebody had a long night.”

“The bus. It never came.”

The lady laughed. It was almost like that evil laughter his brain keep repeating that night. “The bus doesn’t run after dark on Halloween, silly.”

486 Words

It’s week 03×05 of Cara Michaels‘s #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. You can read about #MenageMonday here. Please, go read all the short tales from this week. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

#MonsterMash 2019 : We’ve Got To Hide All Of The Sharp Objects

Doctor Franklin called the office administrative team to his office, “In twenty minutes, Melvin will be here.” Each of them nodded. “We’ve got to hide all of the sharp objects.”

The team searched the office, looking for staplers, pencils, pens, thumbtacks, paperclips, paper knives, envelope openers. Any device with a point on the end, or a sharp edge. They knew how Melvin was in October.

After a thorough sweep of the office, Doctor Franklin looked at the box of items his office manager carried, “Thank you, Mary.” He nodded to everyone on the team. “Thank you.” They smiled, and quickly left.

It was five minutes until Melvin arrived. Doctor Franklin steeled himself, and marched to the check in desk, to wait for him. “Start his session immediately.” That was the best way to deal with Melvin in October. Don’t let him sit in the waiting room. Don’t let him have the chance to watch other people. Get him back, into his session, quickly.

It’s not that Melvin was dangerous. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. Wouldn’t stab anyone, or anything. Wouldn’t cut anything, or anyone. It was Melvin’s gift that was the problem. Even Melvin knew it. That’s why Melvin visited Doctor Franklin each week. To get help in living with his gift. To learn to use his gift for positive things.

When Melvin arrived, he got escorted straight to the office. He calmly sat on the sofa, and stared out the window. Doctor Franklin started with the safest words he knew. “How are you today, Melvin?”

Normally, the doctor used a pencil, or a pen, to write notes during sessions with clients. But, in October, with Melvin, he didn’t take notes at all. Even crayons were a problem. “Any concerning thoughts this week?”

“Just the usual Halloween thoughts, Doc.”

“It is that time of year.” He struggled with ways to say words that calmed Melvin’s inner chaos. “Like what?”

Melvin slowly let out a deep breath. “A guy at the store had an accident this week.”


“He was cutting open a shrink wrapped flash drive, with a knife he uses all the time.” Melvin stared at his hands, and Doctor Franklin knew what Melvin was seeing, what he remembered. “It’s just…” Doctor Franklin knew what was coming. “I had this thought, Doc. Just one thought.”

“Tell me about it, Melvin. Please. So we can learn from it. And understand it.”

“Doc, he cut the first customer that insulted him. Pulled out his knife, and cut them. They needed 38 stitches, Doc.” Melvin was shaking his head back and forth, “I didn’t want that to happen. It was just a thought, Doc. Just a thought.”

“I know, Melvin.” Doctor Franklin rested his hands on his lap, to hide any shudders, or shaking. “But, we’ve been through this before.”

Melvin nodded. “Every October.”

Doctor Franklin nodded too, and he wondered, “How do you teach a telepath it’s OK to have such seasonal thoughts, so long as you don’t inject them into the minds around you?” Then, he settled in for a long session with Melvin. “Everyone has these thoughts in October. It’s that season, you know.”

It was going to be a long session, and Doctor Franklin knew it.

537 Words

Wrote this one for the 2019 #MonsterMash blog hop. Please, go read all the stories in the blog hop. Enjoy your Halloween.

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#ThursThreads Week 384 : I See She Didn’t Overstate The Issue

I have a job that’s a 10 minute walk from our house. It’s perfect. No traffic to fight. No car to keep running. I get up, get dressed, put on my walking shoes, and walk to work. At night, I call her when I’m ready to walk home, so she will know I’m on the way.

Halloween is not a holiday. No one I know has that day off. Everyone goes to work. Schools have normal hours. It’s another day. Like any other day, I walked to work. At quitting time, I called her like I always did.

“I have to warn you, dear. There’s been a pumpkin massacre in the neighborhood. Be careful on your walk.”

I changed to my walking shoes, and tried to imagine a pumpkin massacre, “Teenagers, kids. Bashing Jack-o-lanterns. Bits of pumpkin here and there. Some on the sidewalk.” A normal thing for Halloween. Who hasn’t seen pumpkin bits in the road on that night?

I started home. After a couple of minutes, I smelled pumpkin. “Someone’s cooking?” But it didn’t smell like cooking. Five minutes in to my walk, I turned a corner, into our neighborhood. The sidewalk was orange. So was the road. And the curb had vanished. It was all under an ocean of pumpkin. Not smashed. Pureed.

“Well. I see she didn’t overstate the issue.” I had to walk home through the goo. “I’ll have to ask what happened when I get home.”

241 Words

It’s Week 384 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Given it’s October, I decided to try something Halloween. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up weekly.

#EVERyTuesdayWordplay (Week 12): Hands

Domino smiled as she watched him at his computer. She tapped her sister on the shoulder, “Watch. Watch him. See?”

“What? He’s at his computer. What is there to see?”

“You don’t see it, do you?” Domino couldn’t believe Shelly couldn’t see something so obvious. “His hands. Watch his hands.”

Shelly watched, briefly, then shook her head, “Boring. Boring, boring, boring.”

“Shelly! No. How can you not see it?”

“See what?”

Domino practically drug her sister to the kitchen, “See what? His hands, silly!”

“So, he has hands! So what! We all have hands!”

“Not like his, we don’t!” Domino looked through the doorway, back toward the computer, where he sat, typing away. “Not at all like his.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Shelly held up her own hands, “He’s got 10 fingers, two palms, and wrists, just like we do.”

Domino shook her head, “Yes, he has the same physical number of fingers, and palms. Yes, they are, mechanically, hands.” She waved her own hands, “Just like ours. But.”

“What. Tell me already.”

“His hands are who he is.”

The look on Shelly’s face said, “You are out of your mind.”

“No. Shelly. It’s true.” Domino let herself smile. She’d never known anyone whose hands were the doorways to his soul, to his heart. “Think about it. What does he do with his hands? What’s he doing right now.”

“Banging on his keyboard.”

“He’s writing.” Domino corrected her. “He’s writing. He’s not banging. He’s expressing himself. Through his hands.”

“So?” Shelly still had that “You’re out of your mind” look.

“Have you seen him wash the dishes?” The way his hands tried to avoid the yucky parts of the dishes, the things floating in the sink, the sharp edges everywhere. “Or folding the laundry?” How his hands were careful not to hurt the fabric, especially on delicate things. How they reacted to different textures, how they touched her clothing strikingly differently than his own. “How he holds them when he talks?”

Shelly sighed. “His hands show who he is? How he feels?”

“Yes! When he taps his fingers to the sound of the music. When his hands can’t stop moving during the scary parts, or the big fights, in a movie, or on TV. When his hands hold each other, when he’s nervous, or scared.”

Domino watched her sister think, watched as Shelly remembered all the things she’d watched him do. Driving, mowing the lawn, painting the walls, holding her niece, scratching the cat’s ears. It was like watching the sun rise at dawn, where the light starts to peek over the horizon, and the colors of everything start coming on.

“Oh, my.” Shelly looked toward him on his computer. “I never noticed.” She almost laughed, “I never noticed.”

Domino had, “It’s true. His hands show everything he is. Everything he feels.”

Shelly smiled, “How come I keep hearing that song, he’s a magic man, he’s got magic hands.”

“He does, Shelly. He really does.”

495 Words

Saw the word prompt of “Hands” for Ever Addams weekly #EVERyTuesdayWordplay Flash Fiction prompt, and I knew exactly what to write. The how required me to try something different. Go read the other stories for prompt #12.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/10/15 (Week 128)

Tundar waved his hands at the pile of rocks, “In a thousand years, this will drive them bonkers!”

I often wondered about Tundar, and I certainly did then. He’d gone to a lot of trouble to make a rock wall. He’d found hundreds of flat rocks, and stacked them, to make the wall. Walls were sensible enough. I could see him building one.

But this wall was in the middle of nowhere. It was a three day hike to reach it. And Tundar had hauled all those rocks that distance. To build a wall that had no purpose.

He laughed, “I think the triangle arrangment sitting on top of the doorway, with the two big balls, is the perfect touch.”

He wasn’t wrong. They did make the wall easier to look at. They gave it an air of purpose.

“I bet they’ll think it’s some kind of religious symbol. Or maybe a calendar, or some strange way to track the rise and fall of the moon, or the seasons.”

I had to interrupt him, “What? What are you talking about?”

“I bet, in a thousand or so years, they’ll find this, and they’ll wonder what it is, what it means, who made it, why they put it here.” Tundar laughed. “I can see them now, making up explanations. It will be hilarious!”

“Tundar, in a thousand years, you’ll have been dead for over 900 of them.”

“Of course. That’s what makes this so fun.”

“A joke you won’t see the end of, but this excites you?”

He laughed louder, “Oh! What if they think it was made by aliens! Or maybe we were trying to talk to our gods, or something!” He laughed so hard, he fell over. Then, he explained to me. “Sandar. You know those rocks we found, that stand on end. The big rocks, arranged in rows, like fence posts?”

I nodded. Everyone knew the legend of those rocks.

“What if whoever set them up did it, knowing someone would come along, eventually, long after they were dead, and gone, and turned back into dirt from whence we all came, and that someone would try to explain why the ancients made fence posts out of stupidly big rocks that took a dozen men to move.”

He grinned.

“The fence post rocks are a practical joke?”

He nodded, “Might as well be. We won’t ever figure out what they’re for, and the people that made them are long dead. Who knows. Maybe they were actually laundry line posts, and there used to be ropes between them to hang clothes on.”

“Well,” I had to nod too, “Maybe. That makes as much sense as anything else.”

“So, why not, long after we’re dead, and returned to dirt, let whoever finds this come up with all kinds of stupid ideas for why we did it.”

That’s when I realized what he was saying. “Hmm. Perhaps we can do a lot more things like this.”

“I know! Right! We could drive people nuts for centuries!” He waved at the rocks again. “Maybe. Maybe we can talk about this with the king, and see if he has any ideas. Or at least wants in on the joke.”

“Tundar. Do you have another idea already?”

“Yes. Yes I do. We can make huge drawings in the dirt. Where no one lives, They’d last for ever.”

I started laughing. “A giant spider, perhaps.”

“And so many others.”

I was laughing fully at that point, “I wonder what they’d call them.”

“Who knows?” He grinned. “Who cares?” He winked at me, “It will drive them nuts for centuries.

602 Words

It’s week 128 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I’m on the iPad Mini, which is ancient, so links are a headache, and I’ll stop at just the one link. Go there, and read the stories for week 128, including Miranda’s story. The stories are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.