Dead Eyes Open

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When Norah opened her eyes there was no sign of her precious pup. She tried to call her name, but her mouth wouldn’t work. She pushed herself into a sitting position and immediately felt nauseous.
Lacie? Where are you?
Blue light still spilled through a gap in the curtains from her house, but other than that, she was surrounded by darkness. Thankfully the oppressive sickening buzz had disappeared. Norah lay still on the cold wet grass, praying her nausea would subside. Her head spun as though she were on a fairground ride.
What was that?
A nebulous light flitted just within her range of vision. She turned her head slightly to follow it and immediately threw up again.
I have to beat this, I just have to.
Above her the curtains opened. Her husband held their lifeless dog in his arms. He Chewed hungrily on its ear, blood dribbling down his chin. He looked down in the grass and saw Nora lying there, easy prey. Food to feed his hunger.

Norah looked up to the sky. The light had steadied now, hovering above her.
What the hell is that?
The dizziness eased and she stood up, unsteady on her feet, but she managed to remain upright.
“Lacie, Lacie, come on girl, where are you?”
With her back to the house, she looked into the darkness.
Why is it so dark? Where did you go Lacie, you could barely walk, where did you go?
She turned around and looked towards the house again. John stood in the window. He smiled and waved at her. Lacie was in his arms.
How did she get in the house? Has this all been a dream?
Norah hurried to the front door, which opened as she approached. John opened both arms to greet her, dropping the lifeless bundle of fur to the ground as he did so. Lacie bounced down the porch steps, blood dripping from her head where her ear should have been. Norah stopped in her tracks.
What the hell!
“John what’s wrong with you? Lacie!”
The furry lifeless bundle rested on the bottom step, eyes wide open. Norah picked her up. Sobbing she hugged her.
What happened to you Lacie. Was it a coyote? A rabid dog?
Norah looked up at her husband, hoping for answers. His lips were smeared with blood. He picked a dog hair from between his front teeth and lurched towards her.

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TV Zombie

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Norah whispered softly to her pup as she carried her home.
“Please don’t die on me. You’re my baby, you got me through college, and law school. I need you.”
Lacie’s breathing was shallow, she no longer whimpered, and her little body was limp.
“Almost home baby, almost safe.”
Why aren’t the lights on along the driveway?
She thought of calling John again, but changed her mind. As she stepped onto the asphalt driveway, the lights came back on, dimly at first, slowly growing brighter.
Must have been a power cut.
Then lights became abnormally bright and one by one, as she passed them, the bulbs exploded. Holding Lacie close, she continued slowly towards the house.
Somethings wrong here, very wrong.
A strange blue light spilled from the open drapes in the living room window. She left the path and walked across the lawn to see what it was. Peering into her own house she saw the silhouette of her husband John. He was standing in front of the television, staring at a screen that showed nothing but blue static. Norah watched him for thirty seconds or more. He began to speak, but not in his normal voice. The words were monotone and in a language she’d never heard.
What the hell is going on here?
Her husband turned around and walked towards the window. Nora held
her breath.
Don’t let him see me!
Why was she suddenly afraid of her husband? His face was blank, expressionless.
Did he see me?
He closed the drapes, shutting her out. The static grew louder, it surrounded her. Norah became dizzy, she wanted to throw up.
I have to get Lacie to the vet.
A loud pulsing buzz erupted from Norah’s hom. It made the air feel heavy and oppresive.
Lacie whimpered weakly, spurring Norah to take action, but two steps were all she managed before her legs gave way. Norah’s brain switched off moments before her body made contact with the soft wet grass.

Lost Dog

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“Lacie, come on, Lacie. Here girl, where are you?”
Norah shouted in vain, there was no sign or sound of her puppy. She took out her cell phone.
“No signal, Damn”
Then she heard something, a slight rustling in the bushes ahead. “Lacie?”
A whimper.
“I’m coming!”
Nora ran forward, grazing her legs as she almost tripped over a tree stump. Then she stopped and listened.
Silence.
“Lacie?”
The moonlight cast a shadow, a long thin shadow. Thats not my dog!
Norah was nervous and prepared to turn and run, but the owner of the shadow appeared from behind a three. It was a young boy, he was hugging a small white dog close to his chest.
“Is this what you’re looking for?”
She ran forward and took the limp white bundle of fur into her arms, tears running down her cheeks. “Lacie, what happened?”
She buried her face in the familiar fuzzy mop of fur that was her beloved dog and smothered her with kisses. Lacie whimpered weakly, but didn’t move.
“What happened?” she asked the boy. There was no answer. When she looked up she was alone in the darkness.
“Come on pup, let’s get you home.”
Nora checked her cell phone again. She had a signal now and hit speed dial. After several rings she almost hung up, then she heard her husband’s voice. He sounded distant, distracted. Was someone there with him? No time to worry about that now.
“John, I’ve found Lacie, but she’s hurt.”
No response.
“John, did you hear me?”
The line went dead!

 

 

 

Happy New Year

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The party was in full swing and the bar was in front of her. Live music, dancing and chatter made the atmosphere intoxicating. She was pretty sure she’d be able to find a replacement for James. Monica didn’t see who took her coat, she barely felt it slide from her shoulders. Her eyes were fixed on the handsome young man with a cocktail shaker in his hand. He poured something orange and fruity into a champagne glass.
“Happy New Year,” he said as slid the champagne glass across the bar, “I made this for you.”
“Thank you, what is it?”
“Taste it, maybe I’ll name it after you if you like it.”
Monica found a stool and sat down, looking at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar as she did so. She adjusted her dress to show even more of her expensive cleavage.
“How do you like the cocktail. I can make you another if you like it.”
Monica took a sip. “Mmm, its heavenly.”
It really was, she’d never tasted anything like it before. It popped and fizzed in her mouth, a little like champagne, but better. She emptied the glass in no time.
The creator of the drink leaned towards her, so close she could feel his breath face.
“Whats your name sweet lady?”
“It’s Monica,” she whispered, “I’d love another drink.”
She watched him make the cocktail, his eyes were fixed on her the whole time, she liked the way he looked at her. He was handsome, somehow exotic. Oh I’m so glad I found this place, she thought. He slid the second drink across the counter, his fingers brushing the silk of her dress just below her nipples, as he released his grip on the glass. She shuddered with pleasure.
“Who’s party is this?” she asked.
“It’s mine.” he answered as he sat on the bar stool next to her. He saw the surprise on her face.
“What, did you thing I was the cocktail waiter?”
Monica took a sip of her drink, she was already feeling tipsy. The night had turned around, it was going to be the best New Years Eve ever.
“Lets dance.”
Monica emptied her glass, almost spilling it down her front when his hand rested on her knee and moved up her leg a little. Her whole body tingled with excitement. He slid off his chair. Monica looked for his reflection in the mirror, wanting to drink in his handsome face and body without being too obvious. That’s funny, he has no reflection, I must be really drunk. She felt his breath on her ear.
“Come, lets dance.”
He led her to the dance floor, his arm around her bare shoulders. The band played a slow song. He pulled her close.
“Whats your name?” Monica whispered, her voice husky with passion.
“Troy,”
Troy was built like a god. Their eyes met and she felt him look into her soul.
Can this be really happening? He’s gorgeous, and obviously rich if this is his party. I wonder if he’s married. Who cares anyway, I’m going to . make him mine. I can tell he likes me.
He pulled her closer, she could feel every move he made. Troy kissed her, the tip of his tongue finding its way into her mouth, she melted into his arms, moaning with pleasure. The music stopped, but they continued to dance. Slowly, barely moving! Troy looked into her eyes.
“I want you.” he said.
“Is there somewhere we can go?” she groaned.
“No, I’m going to take you here, right now.”
She felt his tongue in her ear, then he kissed her lips. He pushed her back and kissed her perfect breasts, his lips resting on her nipples. Her eyes were closed, ecstatic she gave himself to her.
“Don’t stop, please don’t stop,” she muttered.
His hand pressed on the small of her back, pushing her closer. He was kissing her neck, he moved her hair, so he could see her prefect white skin and the vein that throbbed beneath it. He was hungry.
“Oh, yes, I’m yours, don’t stop.”
He sunk his teeth deep until he found warm liquid. She didn’t struggle, just collapsed into his arms. He carried Monica to a huge oak table, still feasting on her blood.
A small group of hungry vampires surrounded him, his inner circle. Troy looked up, blood dripping from his chin.
“Come join me, there’ plenty to go around.”

Eventually

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Monica stomped along the road in her expensive Italian boots. The evening hadn’t turned out as she planned.
“It’s New Years Eve and I was supposed to be enjoying myself with James. Dinner, Dancing and then…”
Things catch up with you eventually
She stopped and turned around “Who said that?”
Silence, nothing moved. “God I’m talking to myself AND hearing things. Someone is going to pay for this.”
Someone always pays eventually
“OK, not funny. I know you’re out there. Did James’s wife put you up to this? He was going to leave her anyway, nothing to do with me. He told me the marriage was over. He’d be with someone else if it wasn’t me.”

The frigid night air was still and silent. “Where the hell am I?” Nothing along the dark misty lane looked familiar.

Monica had been at the Royal Charles hotel, waiting in reception for James, her lover. A handsome and very rich business man who’d made his money in the fashion world, backing and funding new designers. She’d been seeing him for almost six months. Her goal was to entice away from his shrew of a wife and snotty nosed kids by the end of the year. It seemed to be working until tonight. Monica waited for him for over an hour. He wasn’t answering his phone so she decided to just check into the room and wait for him there.

“I’m sorry, but there must be some mistake, there isn’t a reservation under that name.”
“Alright, I’d like to reserve a room now please.” Monica said, trying not to be annoyed.
The receptionist didn’t even bother to check availability. She just shook her head. “We’ve been fully booked for months. New Years Eve is popular here. I’m sorry.”
“I’m in the middle of nowhere, what am I supposed to do?”
“If you drive down to the main road, and then head towards town, there’s a B&B on the right, just before the farm. It’s called the Charles Inn, sometimes people get the two places mixed up. Maybe your reservation is.”
“Seriously? A B&B? I highly doubt it. I didn’t drive, I took a taxi!”
The receptionist looked nervous, she didn’t want a scene on New Years Eve while dinner guests arrived. “Let me call you a taxi now.” She frowned as she dialed different cab firms.
“I can’t get anyone here until 8:30” She said apologetically.
Monica looked at her watch. “What, it’s only six o clock!”
“You could always sit in our lounge and enjoy a cocktail while you wait.”
“I don’t drink alone,” she snarled.

Monica picked up her Gucci overnight bag and headed out into the darkness. A five-minute brisk walk put her in on a narrow dark. The only thing that moved in the darkness was a damp luminous mist!

“I wish I’d had that drink now.” She said softly to herself. There was no sign of civilization along the dark country road, but Monica kept walking, what choice did she have. Taking her cell phone out of her pocket, she tried to call James again. “No signal, great!”
She saw headlights approaching and hoped it was him. No luck, the approaching car was battered red Nissan. James drove a silver Maserati. In the distance Monica saw lights, they were smudged by the mist, but she could make out a large dimly lit building. “At last, maybe this is the B&B, if it has a bar I’m going inside. To hell with everything, a drink or two would be wonderful.”

She paused for a moment when she reached the gate. There was nothing indicating this was a B&B. Music and laughter floated temptingly from the open door. Live jazz, lazy, lovely and full of promise. She was mesmerized!

“Sounds like a classy place, maybe I’ll spend the night.”
She took a compact from her purse and re-applied her lipstick. “This face needs a man to appreciate it, a man with deep pockets. I was bored with James anyway.”
Monica took a deep breath, puffed out her chest, opened her coat to show her perfect (implanted) breasts and walked to the front door.
The scene in front of her was warm, exciting, and full of promise.

A Christmas Renuion

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Ian stepped away from his desk at noon, he was tired, his head ached and he wanted be with his family. He stood by the window and looked across the park, wondering about the young homeless girl he’s seen that morning and hoping she’d found somewhere warm to spend the day. A limo pulled up to the front door.
“Hey Gina,” he called over his shoulder, “come look, maybe this is Valerie.”
The both pressed their faces against the window, hoping to see the person who could make or break their Christmas. All they saw was the top of her head! The limo was followed by several white vans.
“Oh no, maybe she’s closing the place down and the vans are here to take away the furniture.”
“No, it wouldn’t happen that quickly. Look they’re bringing boxes in, not taking them away.”
Ian was right. A team of folks worked diligently unloading the vans.
“Come on, we’d better keep working or Madame Scrooge will be screeching at us again.”
No one could concentrate. What if the mysterious Valerie was coming to close the place down? The idea of starting a new year looking for a job wasn’t appealing.
At 1:30 Lucy, the office manager came into the room and clapped her hands loudly.
“Listen up, as some of you may have heard, Valerie Street is here. She wants to talk to us all in the conference room at 2:00. Don’t be late!
Ian and Gina looked at each other. “I guess we won’t be wondering much longer”

There was a line by the window in the hallway when Ian and Gina arrived for the meeting. Fred was at the back of it.
“We tried to get in, but the door is locked, there was a lot of activity in there a few minutes ago. Sounded like Desiree was shouting at someone, but not any more.”
The buzz of anticipation was catching. Was it dread or excitement?
“Look!”
Felicity from marketing was pointing out of the window to where Desiree was striding across the car park. No longer wearing her dangerous spikes, instead she had tennis shoes on her feet. Her expensive leather brief case was full to bursting and she carried a box. There was a chirp as she unlocked the door of her black Audit TT. She opened the boot and she placed her briefcase, and the box, inside. She sensed she was being watched and turned around. With a flourish she gave the double two-fingered salute to one and all. Then she jumped into her car and with a screech of tyres, she left the car park. The applause started slowly and quietly and then escalated. Fred clapped louder than anyone. Ian and Gina looked at each other puzzled.

The double doors to the conference room opened and Christmas music filtered out. The bewildered employees made their way into the beautifully decorated conference room. It was a Christmas wonderland. Catering staff filled glasses with champagne, but everyone was too stunned to drink.
“What do you think we’re celebrating?” Ian asked.
Fred picked up his glass and held it high. “Desiree’s departure is good enough for me”

The lights dimmed. The music stopped and a solitary figure appeared at the front of the room.

“Merry Christmas everyone, I’m Valerie Street, some of you may remember me, but no doubt I’ve changed since we last met. I’m here to run the company the way my father used to and I want to start with a celebration to thank you all for your hard work.”

Cheering and applause was long and loud. Gina and Ian looked at each other in utter amazement. The young lady standing at the front of the room caught their eye and raised her glass.

Ian raised his glass and mouthed. “Well played!”
“What’s going on?” Fred asked. “Do you know her”
“She’s been around for a week or so.” Ian replied, “Sitting under the bridge.”
Fred laughed. “George used to play that trick too! Pretended he was homeless. Said it was the best way to test people. Fired many folks because of the way they treated the less fortunate. She’s her fathers girl alright. I knew she’d be back.”

Merry Christmas

Office Scrooge

 

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Ian and Gina met in the break room around ten o clock! It has been a rough morning and coffee was needed. The talk around the coffee machine was animated. The room was buzzing with excitement. Gina inserted herself into the group.
“What’s going on?”
Fred, the droll accountant looked at her, a smile on his usually serious face.
“Didn’t you check your emails, we’re getting a visitor today.”
“A visitor, who’s coming Santa Claus?” Gina laughed at her own joke.
“No Valerie is paying us a visit.”
“Valerie Street? No way! Have you met her before?”
Fred’s eyes filled with tears, “Not since before George and Ethel died. She used to play with my kids at the company picnic.”
Ian joined them, “What do you think she wants?”
“Maybe she’s going to sell the Company?”
“Maybe she will,” Fred replied
The noise in the break room escalated as folks talked about the purpose of the long overdue visit.
“Don’t you have anything to do?” The piercing voice was that of the Desiree, the CFO. It commanded instant silence.
“I don’t want to ask anyone to work over Christmas, but I will if I have to.”
Fred spoke up. “We’re excited to see Valerie this afternoon. She’s been away too long.”
Desiree rolled her eyes, “For goodness sake, do you really think she want’s to talk to you folks. She’ll be coming to check on the company profits. I’ve arranged a meeting with leadership, headed by me. You won’t see her. Now get back to work, I want her to see a well run ship, not a gossip shop.”
“We would all like to…”
Desiree held her hand up. “I believe I said get back to work, now do it!”
Ian, Fred and Gina walked along the hallway together. A miserable silence replaced the excited buzz.
“She’s unbelievable!” Ian said. “A real life Scrooge!”

Street Talk – A Christmas Story

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The office of Street Talk Magazine sat on the edge of George Street Memorial Park in a small town in Northern England. The Park was named after George Street, founder of Street Talk Magazine. It was dedicated to him in 2001 after he and his wife were killed in a car crash. The drunk driver, who hit them head on escaped unhurt, so did Valerie, the Street’s ten-year old daughter.

George and Ethel Street had only one child and thankfully they’d left a very detailed will to make sure she was taken care of. All profits from the thriving magazine went into to a trust until she was old enough to make decisions. The Magazine was run by a trusted team of long time employees in the meantime and continued to be successful. After the tragedy, Valerie fell off the face of the earth. Local media were interested in her for a while, and tried to track her down, but they soon lost moved on to other stories.

*************

It was a cold December morning. Small particles of ice fell from clouds that looked so full they wanted to burst.
“Snows coming!”
“What, oh Morning Ian, I thought you were on vacation this week.”
“Should be, but our new CFO needed me here to go over some figures for last year.”
The two Street Talk employees hurried through the park, clouds of breath escaped their mouthes as the talked.
“Jesus its cold!” Gina said “Look, that homeless woman is under the bridge. Surely she’ll die out here.”
At the edge of the park, on the cold stone ground, sat the solitary figure of a woman. Her hood was pulled over her face. Neither Ian nor Gina knew what she looked like. They knew she was female because of her voice.
“I’m going to give her enough money to go and buy breakfast somewhere, she needs to get out of this cold.”
Gina took a ten pound note from her wallet. Crouching down she handed it to the pitiful figure. A grateful voice floated from the hood of the old coat she wore. “Thank you and God bless you”
“Here, take my coffee, I haven’t touched it” Ian said as he gave her his Starbucks.”
The woman looked up at them and for the first time they saw her face. It was grimy and tired looking, but it was young. They were both taken aback.
“Merry Christmas!” She said.
Neither of them spoke until they were out of earshot.
“She’s our age, ” Ian said. “I wonder what happened to her.”
A voice from behind interrupted them, loud and thoughtless
“You shouldn’t give money to street people, they’re likely to have all sorts of diseases. I’m going to call the Tim in Security and see about getting here removed. She has no right being here. It’s a disgrace. They should find a place to put people like her.”
It was Desiree, the new CFO. She bulldozed past them, her expensive high-heeled boots piercing the morning silence as they stabbed the ground.
“Bitch!” Gina whispered as the followed her into the building.
“Careful, she’ll hear you, she already fired her analyst for less.”

The Engineer

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The Engineer lived just outside a small village in Lombardy, Northern Italy. He’d lived there all of his life. In fact, he’d lived there as long as anyone could remember. He never seemed to age.

“Dye’s his hair of course” my mum said.

“But he hasn’t aged, Phoebe, no wrinkles, no liver spots. He still looks the same as he did when I was a little girl”

Mum and Betsy sipped their tea silently. I was only seven and didn’t know the Engineer very well. He scared me a little bit. He was very nice enough, gave me sweets sometimes, but his eyes were dark and cold. His jet black hair and mustache showed no signs of grey. I guessed his height to be a little under six feet because he was a little shorter than my brother, and my brother was six foot two. Words weren’t his thing and he used them as little as possible. A tight smile was his only humorous expression, but the smile didn’t touch his eyes.

“Has he ever been married?” Betsy asked mum.

“Not that I know of, I think he dated once, for a year or so, but the she disappeared. Never saw her again.”

“Maybe its a good thing, not sure he’s make a good dad if kids came along. I wonder if he wears make-up. His eyebrows are perfect.”

“Could be gay! That would explain the marriage thing!”

A loud rapping on the door startled us all.

“Its him!” Mum said.

“Don’t be silly Phoebe. Why would he be knocking at your front door?”

“My boiler is playing up. Sometimes we have no hot water.”

“Did you call him” Betsy asked.

“No! I never call him, he just seems to know when something needs fixing.”

Mum’s voice was quiet, she sounded scared. Her hand shook slightly as she put her tea-cup down. “Betsy, come to the door with me.”

I watched as they opened the door. The engineer stood on the step, a tight-lipped smile on his face. He wore jeans, perfectly pressed with a crease down the front and a blue denim shirt. His fashionable shoes were highly polished. A draft blew in from behind him, or perhaps it came from him. I shivered.

“Good Morning Ladies, Phoebe I understand you have a faulty boiler.”