Charles Delacroux was peeling rubber down the highway, his right foot nowhere near the brake
pedal, never once checking to see who else was in the road. Occasionally he would slam on the gas, flooring it, breaking the 100-MPH zone. He had yet to notice the sharp turn in the road, because he was leaning down to grab his soda. He completely missed the turn, veering off the road, his car spiraling in mid-air.
The front end came down and connected with the ground, and Charles Delacroux’s neck snapped with a sickening crunch. Blood sprayed from his mouth, and his whole upper half flew from the bucket seat in his ’84 Camero, his body smashing through the windshield. Broken glass sprayed in all directions. Just before he hit the ground, the car erupted into flames. Charles’ leg wrenched itself onto a piece of twisted metal. His head flew forward again, connecting with the headlight of the car and denting his skull.
Charles Delacroux was very dead.
“Jesus Mark, that’s pretty crazy,” said John.
John was visiting his friend Mark at the hospital. Mark had recently suffered an automobile accident. He sustained a concussion, seven broken ribs, and had to have his legs removed. He has a glass eye in his right eye, three missing fingers on his left hand and a huge gash across his forehead.
In short, he’s pretty screwed up.
When asked how he felt about the accident, Charles merely said, “I’m just glad to be alive”.
The accident occurred when he fell asleep at the wheel. His foot, by sheer coincidence, slammed down on the accelerator. He eventually neared a cliff, which he drove off. It was a twenty-foot drop. The nose of his car rammed into the ground, crushing the entire front half of the car. He nearly had to be scraped from the seat of his car.
“Yeah, well, I had a creative splurge after this accident,” replied Mark matter-of-factly.
“A violent creative splurge…” mumbled John. “Well, I’ve gotta get home to the wife. I’ll see ya later. Expand on that story there.”
“Alright. Nice seeing ya.”
“Get better,” said John.
Mark looked around at his surroundings. It was a pretty normal hospital bed. White walls, white sheets, the bedpan, tray for food, visitors chairs, and a TV above him.
“Let’s see what’s on the tube,” muttered Mark.
He grabbed the black and red remote and pressed power. The TV clicked on. It was currently set to the Discovery Channel, which he didn’t mind, except he wanted to watch a movie.
He flipped through the channels until he found AMC. It was late Friday night, and that meant a horror movie would be on. Hellraiser was this week’s movie.
Mark leaned back in his bed and watched. His back popped when he leaned forward again.
At around midnight, he found that he had trouble sleeping. He picked up the notepad he had begun to write the story on.
“Maybe this is the ending, and not the beginning…” He pondered this thought, decided he was right, tore that page out from the notebook, and started writing.
He finished the story at four a.m., and reread it. He thought it to be very satisfactory, and put his notepad down. The TV was still on, and The Wicker Man was playing.
“I hate this movie,” he said, but watched it anyway.
The movie ended at five-thirty a.m. He turned off the TV and faked sleep when he heard the nurse coming down the hall.
The nurse stepped into his room. Unbeknownst to Mark, she picked up the loose-leaf paper, folded it up, and put it in her pocket.
When Mark opened his eyes, the nurse was gone. He decided that he actually was tired, and fell asleep shortly after.
Mark woke around twelve p.m. He felt around for his story. He had a good part he wanted to add. He thought that the story was still too short, only thirty pages, and wanted to write more.
“Where the hell is it,” he asked himself, groping around his food tray where he had set the story.
He couldn’t find it. The story was missing.
A week later, John called the hospital, asking for Mark. Mark took the phone when the nurse redirected the line.
“Hello?” asked Mark.
“Mark, it’s John.” Said John.
“Hey John. ‘Sup?”
“Dude, your story is in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Did you let someone borrow it?”
“Hell no. I remember looking around for it. I lost it, but then it turned up again on my food tray.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not under your name. It’s written under Dr. Samson Rodriguez. Dude, that’s YOUR doctor.”
“Dammit!” screamed Mark. He pounded his fists on his tray. A nurse stepped into the room.
“Sir, you’re disturbing the other patients.”
“Screw the other patients! Someone plagiarized my story!”
“Sir, calm down. I’m sure the story’s just similar to yours.”
“The hell with that! It’s MY story! My friend John called me and told me all about it. Who took it? You? I’m pretty sure you did. I want to see Dr. Rodriguez, and I want him now!”
“Sir, calm down,”
“Don’t tell me to calm down!”
The nurse walked over, pulled out a needle, and gave him a high dose of strychnine. His vision went blurry, then blurry and red, then black.
Mark woke up in a different room. This one seemed more like an actual room, not a hospital room.
“Where am I?” Mark asked, dazed.
A man in a chair stood up.
“The high dosage of strychnine the nurse gave you put you in a coma. You’ve been transferred to a rehabilitation clinic until further notice.
“What about my-“
“Story?” finished the man. “It’s made loads of money. It was put into a short-story omnibus selection. It won an O. Henry Award, and has been nominated for numerous other awards. In short, it’s the most successful plagiarized short story even written. “
“Who are you?”
“Samuel Rodriguez. The man who plagiarized your story.”
Mark spat at the doctor. “You stole my story and didn’t give me any credit?”
“That’s not true. You have been given full credit. Guilt set in. But, you’re going to pay the price for your success.”
“You have to continue writing. Writing until the day you die. You can stay in this rehab center until you do just that-die. All your meals will be provided and you will have a bed to sleep in and a TV to watch, plus an endless supply of paper. All free of charge.”
“What’s the catch?”
“The catch is that there isn’t one.”
“Come on, there’s gotta be something.”
“Well, if you really WANT a catch, I guess I can isolate you from humanity.”
“Oh God, NO!”
“Just kidding.” The doctor laughed, menacingly.
“You son of a-“
“No need for swearing here Mark. Now, come on, I’ll give you the grand tour.”
The doctor led him around the center. He showed him the atrium, the lobby, the cafeteria, and, lastly, his own room. And what a room it was. It had a plasma screen TV, which was “88, and a king-size Temper-Pedic bed. The walls were painted with a mural of the ocean floor, and there was a fish tank with all sorts of exotic fish.
“Jeez…” said Mark, awed.
“It’s pretty incredible alright.” Said the doctor. “However, this is ONE of your rooms. I’ll show you your starting room,”
The doctor led him outside. Cold air nipped at Mark’s face. He figured it was winter. They eventually neared a shack, with no windows. The doctor pushed Mark inside.
“This is your room. Here’s how this works. You keep the money you earn. But for every ten grand you make, you get a new, nicer room than the one before.”
The doctor slammed the door. Mark looked around. There was a cot, a bucket that constituted for a bathroom, and open windows.
Mark noticed that there was a section of the wall, which was freshly coated with paint. He scratched at the paint, until he got the gist of the message. Four words were notched into the wall. They would haunt Mark for the next two weeks.
The words were:
“IT’S ALL A LIE”
Mark screamed, kicked the walls, sat down, and wrote while tears dripped from his face.
Two weeks later, after no food or water had been sent, Mike fell to the floor, dead from lack of water and starvation.
Doctor Rodriguez stepped into Mark’s room and picked up his finished novel, which was about 300 pages. There was some blood on it here and there, but it was finished.
Doctor Rodriguez walked up into the room with the ocean mural and plopped down on his bed. He read the novel in four hours. It was very good.
He x’d out the part that said, By Mark Johnson, and rewrote, By Samuel Rodriguez.
Samuel was a successful author alright…
Goodbye’s Last Forever
“Where are you going?” I shouted at her.
“Away from my nightmare.” She called back.
“I can help you!” I pleaded with her, desperately.
“No one can help me." And, with that, she was gone.
This was the last time I would ever see my best friend, the one who I had only known for a few hours, the one who had cared so deeply for me, the one who had helped me with all my problems…
I met her at a Starbucks Coffee shop. She was on her crappy computer, and she acknowledged this thoroughly. She would occasionally smack the computer in frustration. It really bothered her that Macintosh couldn’t build a better laptop.
As she swore at her computer, I figured I could help her out a little bit. I sauntered vaguely over to her, tapping her on the shoulder from behind.
“Do you need any help with that? Because you look like you’re struggling.” I said, grinning.
“Eh, why not? This piece of crap isn’t gonna fix itself, now is it?” she said. I had expected her to get angry that I had patronized her, but she showed no sign.
“So, what seems to be the problem with it?” I said. Being an amateur computer technician, I thought I knew quite a bit about computers.
“Well, the Internet’s running awfully slow, and I can’t get my start menu to come up. I keep scanning for viruses, but it’s not coming up with anything. And I haven’t downloaded anything lately.” She explained.
“Well, I might be able to help here,” I said, cracking my knuckles. “If I could use the chair…”
“Sure, no prob.”
I sat down in her chair. It was still warm from her sitting on it. I rebooted the computer manually, and then found the problem.
“Seems like your virus scanner isn’t up to date, because there is one on here. Some new knock-off of SpyWare.”
“I can get rid of it though. Do you have notepad on here?”
I opened notepad and then typed an enormous amount of code into the screen. He then saved it.
“Give the computer about a half-hour, and it should fix itself.”
“Thanks! Hey, I never got your name.” She said.
“Oh, uh, it’s Bill. Bill Krasinsky.”
“Well, Bill Krasinsky, you just made my day! How can I repay you?”
“Well, I could really use a coffee…” I said, grinning for the second time today.
“Alright then! What would you like?”
“Caramel Latte would be lovely.” I said.
“Decaf or regular?”
“Regular would be awesome.”
She stood up to get my coffee. I saw here walk into the line, her brown hair falling behind her.
She ordered the coffee and walked back to her table.
“Ah, thanks!” I said, gulping down ¼ of my coffee right there.
“Any time.” She said. “Hey, I don’t get the chance to talk to many people. Wanna talk for a little bit?”
I really had nothing better to do, so I said yes.
“Awesome! So, my first question is, what…”
We talked for a good three hours. I found out that her name was Jill, and that she was a training architect, waiting to get over stomach cancer. I also found out that her uncle had recently died, and that she currently had just been evicted from her apartment.
“You’ve had a lot happen in your life, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I sure have. Wanna go walk around the park?”
This made me slightly uneasy, but I said yes.
I noticed that she was holding something that I hadn’t noticed before-a bindle-stick, the kind that homeless people carry. I figured that she had someone she would live with, but I had no idea she had nowhere to live!
We walked down to Central Park, and walked the entire distance of the park twice without saying a thing.
I felt a sudden bond, a connection between us. I thought we would be friends.
“If you’re looking for a place to stay, I have some extra room at my house, if you wanted to stay there for a while…”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I think that my work here is done.”
“Yep, my work. Goodbye, Bill.”
“Where are you going?” I shouted at her.
“Away from my nightmare.” She called back.
“I can help you!” I pleaded with her, desperately.
“No one can help me,” she said…
Two men in the coffee shop that Bill and Jill had been in were discussing the abnormality of what they had just seen.
“I know, and he was just talking to nobody!”
“Crazy freak. I think he had some issues.”
“Now don’t go ‘round making jokes about a guy with serious issues.”
“Well, sorry, but it’s true!”
“And then he walked out all like he was holding someone’s hand!”
“I’m sorry, but he was bein’ a freak…”
“If you had problems like that guy, you wouldn’t be talking.”
“’Cause I’d be talking to invisible people!”
“Now that’s enough!”
“Hey, easy buddy.”
Bill stared at the mist where Jill had just stepped away from the universe. He realized he was in a graveyard. The mist guided him to some place in the graveyard.
He suddenly halted in one place, and couldn’t step further ahead. The mist parted, revealing a recently added, clean tombstone with a speck of bird crap on it.
The tombstone’s words haunted him for the rest of his life. They said, in a strangely ironic way:
Architectural student and daughter of
Bill nearly passed out, and he would never again be able to hear the name Jill Franksy without bursting into hot, erupting tears. She was his best friend, and he would never let his memory of her die.
He had thought he had seen Jill before. He suddenly remembered. He had had a childhood crush on her from third grade to eighth grade. She had moved to California in ninth grade, and he had not seen her since.
And with that, her slim figure dispersed into the cool night mist, with her bindle stick hanging limply over her shoulder. She was gone.
Summers. Summers only mean something when you’re a kid. Kids like the three of us. My name is Jake, and I am a schizophrenic. Sure, I’m on medication for it now, but back in the 60's when we were kids, the meds were really experimental.
There were three of us. Jess, Jeff, and of course me, Jake. We called ourselves the three J’s, and each of us had our own thing that was considered wrong with us. Jake was a hypochondriac, and Jeff was what we called at that time “retarded”. Of course, he really wasn’t, but he always seemed like he had Down’s Syndrome.
Anyway, we all stuck together when we met that one, fateful summer. Everything was peaceful, serene, if you subtracted the bullies from the equation.
The two bullies, (God, you don’t know how childish I feel when I say that), were named Frank and Al, and they annoyed the hell out of us. I couldn’t stand being near them, but when one whips out a switchblade and says they’re gonna kill you, what can you do but believe them? We talked about them behind their backs, sure, who the hell wouldn’t? But when they were around us, we went into what we called “minimal casualty mode”. We panicked. We did whatever they wanted us to.
Everyone in the group had a pretty normal home life-except Jeff. Jeff had a hell of a time surviving even at his own home. His dad beat him pretty bad, and we could only protect him from bullies, not from his own parents. He’d come to school with welts all over his arms and face. One time, his arm was so raw that when the teacher held out his arm, he started bleeding. You really felt bad for him, but, sadly, what could you do?
Jess was also was bullied pretty badly, but his parents didn’t beat him. He always wore gauze around his mouth and nose, leaving a small area so he could breathe and talk to us. He’d freak out if it fell off, so, the obvious thing for one of the bullies to do would be to take off the gauze and spit in his face. He’d sit in the bathroom, scrubbing his face raw-literally. He actually came to school one time with no skin on his left cheek. He used a brillo-pad. Can you imagine? A brillo pad.
I never knew what to do with myself. The voices wouldn’t shut up. They told me to do fairly reasonable stuff, like go buy a soda, or pinch my sister. If I did it, they’d quiet down. And then I’d be fine.
I kept it mostly to myself, until ’64, when one of the voices, (I had about 5 at that time, and it only got worse when I hit puberty), wouldn’t quiet down. I was, of course, at the local diner, the Burnt Toast Diner in Bangor, Maine, where we lived. I screamed bloody murder, and I got a hell of a whooping when we got home. This continued, and then my parents considered committing me. Instead, thinking better of it, they sent me to the Bangor County Psychiatric Hospital, where they tested me for all sorts of mental disabilities. Schizophrenia, bullseye. I was diagnosed with Disorganized Schizophrenia, which explained why I couldn't write very well. My letters were all scattered around, and I always had to stop and erase. My teachers couldn’t read my papers, so I had to read it to them, or in front of the class. That was hell.
Our gang had a clubhouse, deep in the middle of the forest, where no one (except Frank and Al, who followed us), could find. It was a little shack we built with my dad’s wood and Jeff’s dad’s saw and hammer. Jess provided nails.
None of our folks cared much. We’d stay out there for weeks at a time, just hanging out. We’d always bring food, and we always told them where we’d go and a rough estimate of how long we’d be there. Things were safer back then, and so they were fine with it.
Al and Frank always kicked it over, driving out the nails and breaking the boards. We’d just start over. Eventually they saw that we would just keep going, and they didn’t want to do it forever, so they just stopped. We finally finished it, and, with some barbed wire that Jeff swiped from his dad. We wrapped the wire around some stakes and pounded them into the ground. It was our fortress… We played poker, told stories, all sorts of stuff. It was great fun…
Then one day, Jess got into a car crash. His dad freaked out and drove off a bridge. Jess was in the car with him. His dad died, and Jess was left in critical condition, his neck broken. He was vomiting blood about every hour. We all thought he was going to die.
Then one day, his heart stopped. The doctors ran in with defribilators and shocked the life back into him. He kept throwing up blood after that, and his hypochondriac behavior only worsened. Life sucked for him.
For a while there, he didn’t come outside at all. He was always so concerned that some communicable disease was going to kill him that he didn’t even consider it.
We eventually had to sneak in through his window and drag him outside. Of course, we wrapped his mouth with the gauze he always used.
We went into the clubhouse and took out our ski masks that we had brought with us. We then took one of the chairs and tied him to it. We slapped him awake. We told him that he had better come outside, because, hell, it was summer, and that if he didn’t, then we would kill him. We also told him that, should he mention this to his parents, he would be in some deep crap with us. He complied. Then, we threw off our ski masks, laughing our asses off. God, that was hilarious. Jess knew how to take a joke, and he laughed with us. And then, he did something completely un-Jess like. He punched Jeff in the face. Jess laughed so hard, that he fell off his chair. He was crying! Oh God, I’ve never seen somebody laugh so hard!
Of course, Al and Frank had to ruin it. The summer would have been perfect, had it not been for them.
Here’s what happened…
We were in our clubhouse, playing a game of poker and talking about how much we hated school when Al and Frank kicked the door down.
“Well looky here! It’s the little sissies, playing cards!” taunted Frank.
“Should we kill ‘em? I think so. How about it Frank?” asked Al.
“Sure. Get their guts out. Beat the hell out of ‘em first.”
They went to Jess first. Frank then whipped out a switchblade and slashed his cheek open. Jess squealed in pain, and Frank punched him square in the gut to get him to be quiet.
“There’s pig’s blood on my knife, Al!” giggled Al.
“Let’s get another piggy with it!” squealed Frank. He sounded like a pig right then.
“GET HIM!” Screamed Frank.
They charged at me, Frank with his knife drawn, Al with his fist in front of him. The Fist from Hell we called it. Al socked me right in the face. And then, the most incredible thing happened. Frank took the 2 seconds it would take to clean his knife, pointing the knife towards him to get the tip clean, just about ready to cut me. I saw Jeff out of the corner of my eye. He was charging towards Frank.
Jeff jumped on Frank just as he polished the tip of his blade on his shirt. Frank fell down, and in that instant, the knife went through his stomach. Frank was scrawny for his age, yet tall. The tip of that huge switchblade protruded from his back.
Jeff pounced on Al, his fingers in the form of claws, tearing at Al’s eyes. Al screamed for mercy, but Jeff didn’t show mercy to all. He grabbed Al’s head and wrenched sideways. There was a sickening crack, and Al was dead…
Jeff fell to the floor, the blood of Frank and Al staining his shirt and hands. He started weeping, dry sobs at first, and then full-blown tears. Blood mixed with his Jeff’s tears. It looked like he was crying blood.
We were afraid to go near him. He had turned into some kind of animal from hell…
We told Jeff to get in the water, and swim around a little bit to get the blood off his clothes. And from then on, it wasn’t ever discussed. We hid the bodies in bushes near the clubhouse, leaving enough of the body out so somebody would notice it… And that was the end of it…
That was childhood. I met up with Jeff again, and we went out hiking in the woods. Just like we had always though, Jess was dead. He got lung cancer of all things, and died peacefully. He refused chemo. He didn’t want to go down that road.
So, Jeff and I were walking down the path, when we found what looked like a bone protruding from a bush. And then we noticed our old clubhouse. We pulled out the bone first, and to our horror, there was the skeleton of Frank, his clothes still on, however rotted, his switchblade still in his ribs. Jeff jumped back in horror. I just dragged it into the clubhouse.
I was utterly surprised that they hadn’t found the bodies. But, then again, we were deep in the forest. I guess we should have put them somewhere where someone would have noticed, but, then again, when your friend is responsible for murder, you don’t think about much but that.
After some searching, we found the corpse of Al too. I took that and threw it into the clubhouse too. Jeff was still sobbing. I told him to shut up and help me. He did. We positioned the skeletons in the chairs. I asked Jeff to get out the kerosene he had brought with him, which we had planned on using to make hot dogs. He handed it to me, and I poured kerosene all over that clubhouse. I grabbed my lighter from my pocket and threw it into the kerosene, flame exposed.
Jeff fell to the ground, sobbing like the day he had when he killed Frank and Al. And something else happened when he was crying there, as the clubhouse burned too. He cried blood. Just like in the 60s.
All our childhood memories now burned. Gone
Jeff is dead too. He fell from the window of his 85th floor office. When he went to open it, his secretary came in, inquiring him about some paper, and as it opened, he lurched forward and hit the ground. He died instantly.
I’m all that’s left now. And I like it that way. Someone has to tell people our stories.
And for some lighter reading...
“That is truly disgusting…” muttered Fred.
“Well, if you want to start feeling better, you’ve gotta take the recommended dosage,” replied Joe.
“Well, I mean really, it’s not helping much,”
“It helps more than you think. These Tums are what keep you from bein’ so gassy. And I can tell you, my friend, you are very, very gassy,”
“I can do without the smart comments, my friend.”
“Alright, fine, just take the Tums.”
Fred had always had a gas problem, and he constantly got gas pains, especially after eating a hardy meal. He always said that it ran in his family, but his friends think that that was a load of crap; he was a gassy individual, and that’s all there was to it.
“I think that they need to make these buggers taste better. I mean my God, they taste like chalk…” remarked Fred.
“I wish you would just take the antacids. You know we all hate being around you when you fart like that…”
“Alright fine. Give ‘em to me,”
So Joe handed him the antacids. He took the recommended amount.
“God, that’s horrible Joe.”
“Well, you could always go to the doctor like I told you.”
“Yeah, well, screw the doctor’s office. What have doctor’s ever done for me, huh?”
“They could, for one, give you some tasteless medication…”
“Don’t try to give me some smart comment, I’m tired of the farts!”
“Joe, I feel funny.”
“What are you talking about?”
“What do you think I’m talking about, I don’t feel so hot.”
Fred started to sweat. He was blinking rapidly.
“Jesus, Fred, how many did you take?”
“Are you allergic?”
Fred was too busy having a seizure to answer. He was convulsing rapidly on the floor; eyes rolled up into the back of his head, the whole nine yards. It would be considered a grand-mal seizure if there were a doctor there to tell you what it was.
Then Fred stopped moving altogether. He had sort of been foaming at the mouth, and his eyes were still rolled into the back of his head.
Joe knelt down beside his friend and started shaking him. When Fred didn’t get up, he grabbed the bottle of what he had thought were antacids.
He had apparently misread the label. Because it didn’t say Tums. It said:
D-Con Rat Poison. Kills Mice and Rats!