Tag Archives: Short Story

Saving Humanity One Death at a Time

“Just so you know, I’m not apologizing. I simply figured that you’d want an explaination,” I say while I put on my purple latex gloves.

“In the United States alone, 5.3 million people suffer from paralysis. Doctors have ways to help once the stroke hits or therapy after the spinal cord injury, but nothing to prevent it. Hopefully that statement won’t be true after you.” I smile at him.

“What are you going to do?” Zenith asks, pretending to hide his nerves.

“Oh, you are such a good audience; you knew exactly what to do, Zenith! Hmm, that just sounds wrong to call you Zenith. What’s your name?” I ask getting out my checklist of procedures.

Silence is my only answer.

“Don’t worry, doctor-patient confidentiality.”

Begrudgingly, “Derek Cromwell.”

“Well, Derek, do you have any familial medical history, especially paralysis that I should know about? Or any current medical issues you have?

“No. And unless if you count superhuman abilities as a medical issue, no.” I would have thought Zenith would have more quips like he does when he is out catching crooks and stopping robbers.

“You mean, your enhanced strength, stamina, and speed? That shouldn’t affect the results too much. But what can you do, never can find the perfect test subject,” I wave my hand as if dismissing the thought. “So you asked how the procedure is going to be done. I’m going to place these electrodes on you-”

“Are you going to stun me with that gun of yours, Stunner?” Derek sneers.

“I built the gun with the technology I am about to perform, yes. And my name is not that blasted ‘Stunner’ as the newspapers boldly dramatizes in the headlines. I am Dr. Erika Quint.” I stand a little taller proclaiming my name. Everyone else will hear my name in the coming months.

“Wait, you’re an actual doctor? That’s why you wear the lab coat? You’re not just a crazy mad scientist?” Derek struggles against his restraints to look at me better.

“Well, technically, almost doctor. My university decided it would be better if I continued my research on my own. I don’t have an angry vengeance thing going on; I understand sometimes people are afraid of genius and the following success.”

“No lust for revenge, huh. In all of my crime fighting, I thought revenge was a number one must on the villain checklist,” Derek says puzzled.

“Ug, I’m not a villain! I’m just ahead of my time,” I finish my checklist. “After the university set me free, other research facilities thought my cause was worth donating their equipment for.”

“You mean you stole millions of dollars in medical equipment and stunned anyone with your gun if they got in your way,” Derek hisses.

“We scientist have to do a lot to fund our research. Sometimes that is wearing a fancy dress and wine and dine the potential sponsors. Or sometimes you have to wear a ski mask and lab goggles and learn how to disarm security systems,” I say while putting the nodes on his bare skin.

“You’re a menace to society.”

“I am saving humanity.”

He barks something that someone might mistake for a laugh, “By stealing, putting countless in the hospital, and experimenting on me?”

“It’s always confused me how most people think that the few currently living outweigh the billions yet to be born. Sure, I take full responsibility for harming a handful of individuals, but it is an easy price to pay for saving millions.” I place the final node on his upper thigh.

“Wow, your deranged conviction. There is no way I can convince you not to do this?” I see, not for the first time, fear flicker in his eyes. But this time it stays there.

“Am I really that deranged? I mean, I really want to know. I am not experimenting on little children, the helpless elderly, or mothers and fathers who would leave orphans. It’s just you, Derek. No girlfriend, mother passed when you were a junior in high school, father estranged. A few close friends, but you always happen to be fighting Empress Entropy and miss hanging out with them. I don’t even think they’ll notice. The thing is, I didn’t pick you because you’re Zenith but because if my procedure happens to not be successful, you, Derek Cromwell, won’t leave a vast gaping hole in the universe,” I say sincerely.

“But . . . I -um . . . Zenith, I mean, I am saving people. This city needs me.”

“Honestly, this city is overcrowded with Heroes. Who needs you when there’s Spider-man or Daredevil? Or the freakin’ Avengers?” I position the lights at the perfect angle.

“Hey I helped the Avengers out once,” Derek says proudly, almost forgetting what is about to happen.

“You filled in for The Thing at poker night. And you lost almost all of your money to Hawkeye. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been planning this for a long time.” I start flipping switches on my machine.

“I’m twenty-three, I have a whole life ahead of me. I can save so many more people,” Derek pleads.

“You will save more people by taking part in this procedure, than you could in a lifetime.” Derek begins to protest, but I put in his mouth guard.

“I’m not going to sugar coat this. It will probably hurt. But you are saving humanity.”

I push the button.

Advertisements

Minty Memories

 

Isn’t it funny how just a taste, smell, or song can bring back a flood of precious memories that somehow you hadn’t thought about in years.

Spearmint mouthwash reminded me of being six years old again. My twin sister, my cousin and I would act like the three spare bedrooms in my Grandma’s house were our apartments where we lived on our own.

My cousin was a spy, my sister was an accountant, and I was teacher. We would come home from “work” and promptly check our mailbox. (We actually had a little red play-mailbox with a flimsy yellow flag.) It didn’t matter that I couldn’t read or write more than my name and “I saw the dog run”, we would just tell each other what the scribbles meant.

After we read our mail, we would go over to my cousin’s “apartment” and she would make us Spearmint Gum Tea. We didn’t have any of those little girl tea cups, so we just used some of our Grandma’s little glasses that always felt like they had been washed in too hot of water. The gum itself was too “spicy” for me and that’s why it became tea. One third of a stick of Extra Spearmint Gum mixed with water was perfect. We laughed and giggled because we could and that’s what little girls do.

We would finish our “tea” and go back to our “apartments” and go to “sleep”. Then a few minutes later and one of us would cock-a-doodle-doo like a roster and we would “wake up” and “go to work”.

We would play this game of “life” until Grandma would zip up the stairs in her pure white blouse and gold rimmed buttons and tell us that it was time for lunch: chicken noodle soup, peach slices with the skins off and Italian bread with Meijer brand raspberry jam.

I hadn’t thought about that in ages, but each tiny detail came back with just a little taste of spearmint mouthwash.

spearmint

Tarnished

Inspired by a line in a letter from a friend, “But I must add, my dear, how very cynical.”


He sighs, “But I must add, my dear,” his eyes glance over my fine features only for a moment not wanting to truly see me, “how very cynical.”

I dare a smile knowing he will not look back, “What would you rather me be?”

He paces the room, just like always. “Don’t play coy with me. Of course you know.”

It is the same dance every few weeks but with different sheet music. We cannot refuse but to have our words take hold and waltz through the night, without the going to the theater that I was so much looking forward to. And 1,2,3, “Remind me, please.”

He rubs his temples, “I understand what you went through was hard, an extremely tough situation that no one should have to go through. But you aren’t the same girl that I fell in love with anymore.”

I cannot help but laugh, a howl rather more, “How could I be?” I tug my sweater off, suddenly the room too hot for the comforts of cashmere. “I became someone so much stronger! You were in love with my weakness.”

“No, I was in love with your softness, your gentleness, your kindness. But now -” he sputters “now you are all sharp edges and I am afraid if I even touch you, I’ll be cut.”

“You always did have a way with words,” I sneer. Can’t he see how much better I am now than that puny, little girl he dazzled in that forever long Starbucks line? Can’t he see that this me is the only way I can cope what happened? Can’t he see I like myself better this way?

I guess he can’t. Or maybe he won’t.

I take control of my life now, say what I want, when I want. I live life how I want. I have learned to appreciate life the hard way. Back when I first met him, life was a never ending theme park roller coaster ride like on our third date to Six Flags. There was ups and downs but it would keep on going. Or so I thought.

He stops pacing and memorizes the plain, ordinary, egg shell white wall. “You were my shiny penny. I didn’t have much, but I had you. Now I have plenty, but I don’t have you.”

I break up the staring contest between him and the wall. He was going to lose anyways. No matter how furious I am at him, I still am startled at how dashing he looks in his tux. It reminds me of our wedding, happy smiles sparkled even more than the drinks did. “But I am standing right in front of you.”

“But you are a tarnish penny.” He pivots away from me in his Westwoods and paces once more. “This you, right now, is tarnishing the memories of the girl I loved. All the mean and hurtful words you spew tarnish the memories of telling your mom that we would clean up the kitchen just for an excuse to have some alone time for secret kisses. Your pessimism -”

I cut him off, “I’m being realistic.”

Louder this time, “Your pessimism about the very tilt of the earth allows you to fester your cynicism. What ever happened to the girl who dreamed of opening her own art gallery?”

“She died along with the baby,” I say, my voice taking on almost a visceral tone as it rightfully should. My breathes come shallow now.

He rushes to me now, his arms encompassing my thin form. If he embraced me like this when I first started dating him, I would have melted at his mere touch. My confidence was so delicate that I needed tactile reminders that he cared for me. But now, he fingers feel like tightening tentacles. This time, he looks me in the eye. “But I was there with you the whole time. We went through it together. I never abandoned you.” He wipes away my tear. I fight the urge to stiffen.  He then adds, “But why do I feel like you abandoned us?”

I pull away, hard and harsh, “You will never get it, you’ll never understand if you haven’t by now.”

I don’t need to see him to know he is crying. I memorized those shoulder shakes a long time ago.”Sometimes, I wonder if we would be better off if you would just leave. You tarnish everything good I ever had. My friends, my family, my love for you. Every fight like this, every cruel word tarnishes the happy memories I savor of the girl I fell in love with.”

I sigh, “But I must add, my dear,” if looks could kill, he would be dead on the marble floor, “how very cynical.”

penny

Flickr/DanielOines

Living My Own Legend

I recently found a short story that I meant to continue on with but never did. The story does end quite abruptly because it was never finished, but overall I am pretty happy with the writing considering how inexperienced I was when I first began writing it. Enjoy!


 

“Why did you change your name, Maurice?” My school counselor, Mr. Stephen, asked again.

“Okay, listen to me this time. Maurice Orca, verses Erik Quint. Which do you like better?” I say with a fatigued look on my face.

“Are you sure it’s not because of denial of your past, Maurice – “

“It’s Erik.”

“Erik, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” said Mr. Stephen, doing a terrible impression of Kelly Clarkson.
You see, my name used to be Maurice Orca, until I changed it to Erik Quint in seventh grade. One of the reasons why I did was because my parents were villains who got in a fight with The Man. Look, my parents were bad guys, and they robbed banks and did, well, bad stuff. They were doing one of their heists and were beaten by The Man, and three days later, I visited the morgue.  I have found that in this world you will do better if your last name isn’t the same as big time bad guys.

Continue reading

A Dying Stranger

I’m going to die.

I know that will die eventually, but that eventually came too soon. 60 years too soon. The fact of death doesn’t scare me. The pain of death, kind of does. What scares me is the fact that I had a life. And now it is over. Went through elementary school to get to middle school to get to high school to get to collage to have a nice job to have a nice family to have a nice life to have a nice retirement to have a nice death.

Death arrived early to the party. And death brought a friend, Cancer.

The fact that I built up my life and all I got was school, I didn’t even get as far as the nice job part, it seems like I wasted 20 years. I was so sure that I was going to get to that nice job, family, retirement part that I only focused on that. With my nose to the grind, my eyes on the prize, and my heart in a box. I spent 20 pushing people away.

And now I have no one left, except my friends Cancer and Death.

I look around at my alumni – the ones who could have been my friends – who have their whole life ahead of them. They have girlfriends and boyfriends to smile with and laugh with and hold hands with. They have parents to get guidance from and to get love from and to get encouragement from.

They lived.

I existed, waiting to live, so that eventually I could die.

I thought that I had so much potential that I had so much to live for, that I could spend 20 years to get ready. I thought that I had my whole lifetime ahead of me to make relationships.

They have love in their eyes and that makes the loneliness all the more prominent in mine. Their hearts are full of verve and zeal and that makes the enervation and depletion all the more evident in mine. They always have a tint of a smile on their face and that makes the stoic unbelief radiate from mine.

The world is ending. Except only mine is. Their worlds will go on forever. My apocalypse is coming and I don’t even get last moments to panic with the rest of the world. In all the science-fiction movies when the world is ending, everyone looks up at the sky, all huddled together. They get to see the world end. They get to have others with the same fate as them.

Their world will go on and mine will halt, crash, and burn. Their world will keep on spinning like nothing ever happened. Their world will not even flick off the ash of my smoldering, dead world.

Their potential, their future, their lives, mock, haunt, taunt me.

This is the bitterest kind of envy. I am jealous for what they do not appreciate. I long for what they do not know they have. Potential for moments.

Yes, I will have many more moments, but those moments will be spent in sterile hospital rooms in a thin paper gown on crinkly white medical paper surrounded by unknown people with over-glorified pity for college kid they know will be six feet under soon enough. I will spend my last moments surrounded by sick and dying people, surrounded by others trying to cover it up. I will be surrounded by people faking optimism, people telling me that I can fight the death warrant that  has been signed in my cells.

Those people who are lying to me, they seem to be my best chance. I desperately want to cling to the hope they have spread out before me.  I let hope and possibility and chance hold me in their hands, trying to soothe my aching soul. I let them tell me that tomorrow I will be okay, I let them tell me that the day after tomorrow I will be okay, I let them tell me that five years from now I will be okay.  I’m starving for some assurance that I will get through this. I’m going through hunger pangs yearning for something to believe in. My growling stomach calls out for a promise, a promise that I didn’t waste my life, that I will have the potential for moments other than in a sterile hospital. In my delirium, I begin to trust in the comforting hands of hope and possibility and chance.

I don’t know which is worse: knowing I’m going to die alone or hoping that I might not. Hoping that I might have someone by my side when the reaper comes. Hoping that the reaper might not come at all. Hoping that cancer might change its mind and come back when I’m old and gray, instead.

But when I have hope then that is one more thing that death can take from me. By losing hope I feel the pain of losing everything all over again. Because all I have left is hope. Hope in something that will never happen.

I am going to die. Cancer is going to make its last attack. My world is going to end. My hope is going to be taken from me. And there is nothing I can do to stop it.

 

 

room-928653_960_720

Pixabay/user:cor125

He Brought Her Roses

Every day he would bring her roses. He would set his alarm for 3:30 AM to get to her cello practice room before she did. She was dedicated, two and a half hour practices before school. Those hours of practice were what life should be all about. Life should be struggles to hit the right cord, but the happiness that follows when your part of the symphony is perfect. She was what life should be.

He would slip into her soundproof room and carefully place a single rose on her sheet music. The roses would differ every time, but without fail there would always be a fragile flower waiting when the elegant cellist would come to make the world a little bit better, a little bit brighter. The roses would be passionate dark red like the dress she wore when he first saw her at her symphony. Or the rose would be white as the snow on her birthday in January. He would always feel elated when he dropped the pink rose on her stand because it was soft and sweet like he imagined her lips to be. The yellow rose would remind him of couples walking in the summer time and the girls wearing their sundresses and how he wanted that to be him and the cellist. The peachy-orange was like the sunrise he watched as she played.

He must have spent thousands on roses for a girl he never dared talk to. He must have lost countless hours of sleep thinking about the one smile she had ever cast on him. He must have gone crazy for the girl to stop his college education so he could watch her every move. He must have.

She would laugh when ice cream dribbled down her chin in the hot hot summer time. He wanted to be the one to make her laugh like that. She would dance like no one was watching at the clubs. He wanted to dance with her like that. She would care enough to help the homeless person outside her daily coffee shop to buy them a warm drink. He wanted that caring towards him.

He fell in love with the girl who never knew his name.

One day she never came to practice. He still dropped off her rose like he always did and waited. The rose was still there when he came to give the rose of next day. She had never missed two days of practice in a row. Music was her life; her music was his life. He continued with his normal routine and went to her apartment. She was not home, but her car was still in the parking lot.

He had never gone into her apartment before, but he had to find out what was wrong. He had to find out what had made life wrong. He slowly turned her doorknob like so many times he wanted to, but could not put his courage where his heart was. Unlocked. She should not leave her door unlocked in a city like this, who knows what kind of creepers could break in. The door swung open and her apartment was just like he imagined. Nothing out of place. Bright colors. Modern furniture. Photos of friends on the fridge. A worn looking copy of The Great Gatsby opened to page 95 was in her chair.

“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

Her bed looked just like her personality with a yellow sunflower comforter. So welcoming. Except for what lay on it. Towards the upper-middle was a rather large crimson stain. A fresh crimson stain. With eyes open to see the stars twinkle happily at her music laid the cellist with a bullet to her brunette head. Gun in her right hand and her left pointing to a note. Of course. Always leave a note.

They said I was not talented enough. They said I was not good enough. They said to move on and live a real life. If someone is reading this, then that means I chose a real death. I was actually cut from the program months ago, but they let me still use their practice rooms until I moved. Music was my life, my whole life and I do not know what that means without Juilliard giving me a chance. I think I would have ended it right there if not for the roses. Ever since I came to the school there has been roses on my stand each morning, but I came to value them more and more when no one seemed to value me. They would remind me of better times, brighter times. These past few months, I saved each and every one. But roses are not enough. Life got too disappointing and roses could not fill that void.

He walked out. He left everything the way it was for the police and her family. Except for the note. The note was for him. The note was because of him.

He continued to bring roses. He brought roses for months afterwards. A new rose was placed at her forgotten stand even when her apartment was cleaned out. Even though years went by as did the people who used that room, no one disturbed the stand with thousands of roses left in the corner. On the day of his retirement party for working at the school as a janitor for forty years, he placed her last rose.

The cellist had stolen his heart as she had stolen her life.

 

 

sheet-music-944796_960_720

Inspired by the image Pixabay/user:Fotocitizen

 

A Storm

Above the world is water dancing in the sky. The humidity rises and water vapor can waltz and flow across the sky. The wind pushes and pulls the water from one end of the heavens to the other. The water dances in the sky.

It collects and combines into clouds, some puffy white others dark and stormy. The clouds eat each other up to form massive congregations of water. Each with its curves and edges and corners and boundaries. Each with its shapes that people transform in their minds. Each with a tummy darker than the rest of it, no matter if it is puffy white or dark and stormy.

The air is heavy with water, and not just the air up in the sky. In through the nose it is heavy and moist, almost tangible to the taste. It is the smell of new leaves and wet paper and fresh skin and cooked greens and clean glass. The skin gets a little cooler and the wind gives it a little kiss. The air is heavy and cool with water giving sign to a storm.

The clouds hover over the earth, waiting and watching. Waiting to collect enough water to drop on the earth below. Watching over everything, but seeing nothing. The clouds above the world, in the midst of dancing water, only waiting to drop what they have collected. Waiting and watching.

And they wait no more.

Down they let their precious cargo, down they let their treasure, down they let their trash, down they let themselves. The rain pours. Each drop sways in the wind, but with a final destination. The water does not dance in the wind anymore. It does not have time to frolic in the sky, but must get to the grass, pond, rooftop, hair, log, leaf, clothing. The rain has a destination, with no mind of its own. And so the wind still tries to get the raindrops to dance.

Off in the distance is a wonderful strike of brilliant light, here one moment and gone another. The lightning shines and shows off its beauty, silently calling to it lover. Waiting for the response back.

One second away

Two seconds away

Three seconds away

Thunder makes itself known, thunder bellows its response to its darling. Thunder yells to all the world that lightning is its mate. Thunder calls to its heart that he will be with her once again. Thunder tells lightning that he will come closer, try harder, be nicer, be softer, be faithful, be kinder, be there. But thunder is known for being rough and far away and being loud and being strong and being free, not a lover. Of breaking promises.

Lightning flashes and dances and spins and twirls and does everything it can to be the best. To be the most beautiful, to be the most stunning, to be the most daring, to be the most of everything. Lightning tries to the win the heart of her lover. Lightning tries and tries.

One second away

Two seconds away

Thunder is enticed and comes closer, wowed by the majesty and splendor of the show lightning put on for him. He wants to use her, he wants to watch her out do herself in competing for his heart. Competing only with her former performance. Thunder watches her dance and dance and try and try. Thunder watches. Waiting for her to fail, for him to find something better.

Lightning breaking trees and sets fire to them, trying to impress thunder. Lightning makes the stars look dim compared to her radiance, trying to impress thunder. Lightning makes the sun look pale, trying to impress thunder. Lightning makes the night sky light up like day, trying to impress thunder. Lightning tries to impress thunder.

One second away

Thunder slowly, sarcastically claps, seeing if he can make lightning try harder to impress him. He wants a show, he wants beauty at its finest or none at all. Thunder waits for more.

Lightning is tired of giving thunder her all. She wants him to love her for who she is – a force of nature meant to be. Not meant to impress because is not she already impressive enough for just being? Lightning wants to see if she won her lover’s heart, not his eyes. Lightning stops trying to impress. Lightning stops. Lightning waits.

Nothing.

Thunder is not there to be impressed. Thunder is only an effect of lightning. Thunder cannot be won because he is only a reflection of lightning. Thunder is nothing without lightning.

Lightning has stopped dancing and so has water. But wind still tries to make the raindrops dance.

Oh, the magnificent science behind a storm, behind clouds, behind the sky. How everything is just right for the water to collect, for the water to fall. For the sky to be illuminated with lightning and to make its presence known with thunder. The science and precision in its own right is a glorious beauty. To be seen with eyes, to be heard with the ears, to be felt with the skin, to be smelled with the nose, to tasted with the mouth; that is another miracle. For one event to bring in all the senses and equally electrify them, is an effect few events have.

 

lightning-399853_960_720

Pixabay/user:sethink