Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
The Bleak Man
It was Canada’s holiday. The old girl was one hundred and fifty-five years old. Sort of a teenage country in some ways.
Still acting out.
And with an unsightly case of pimples.
Most people had the day off. I would have too if it hadn’t been for The Bleak Man. Sad little critter had called late the day before. “I need help, detective,” he’d whimpered.
“Don’t we all,” I’d commiserated.
“I mean it.”
Who was I to doubt him, so I’d said, “My office, tomorrow morning, nine sharp.”
He arrived on time. Dressed in red and white. Wearing a homburg with a small Canadian flag sticking out. All in all, he looked like a patriotic day-old cake.
He plopped down in the chair across from my desk, and I said, “spill!”
He blubbered away for over twenty minutes. Nothing I hadn’t heard before. Middle-aged guy. Followed all the rules. Kept his deviant thoughts to himself. Loved his country. Wanted it to be better. Couldn’t understand his country’s history of repression. The Orientals, the Ukrainians, The Indigenous peoples…it was all too much for him to bear sometimes…especially on Canada Day.
Finally, I had to break the record.
It was an old 78 anyway.
“So, what do you think a detective can do?” I asked.
That stymied him. He hadn’t thought it through. Finally, he said, “Find me proof that it will get better, that harmless jingoism, love of country, can fly proudly again. I’m in such pain.”
I decided to let him have it. “Grow a pair, friend. Nothing’s perfect. Wave your flag. Just don’t get carried away. It’ll only get better when everyone gets better. Could take a while.”
I charged him a c-note, wished him well, poured a brandy, toasted Canada, and went home to bed.300 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)
“The boy hasn’t spoken to anyone other than you,” Abbot Steele sighed across his polished desk. “Does he even want to be here?”
“I asked him to stay,” Isabella lowered her eyes.
The abbot massaged his face and jowls heavily. The sky outside his thick paned window was overcast, and Isabella could already smell the rain to come.
“I don’t feel we have the means to help him. Even if we did, we cannot keep him under duress.”
“I believe what he needs is a friend. And, as you say, he speaks to me.”
Abbot Steele folded his hands and rumbled gravely.
“I leave the boy’s care in your hands, for now. But think on what I have said.”
“I will. Thank you, Abbot Steele.”
Isabella excused herself. She found Oliver in the courtyard between the dormitories, watching the roiling sky from a stone rail perch. The young nun moved to stand at the other end of the rail from the teenager.
“How long have I been here?” Oliver broke the silence.
“About a week.”
Oliver hugged his knees to his chest.
“I can’t stay. It’s not safe.”
Isabella watched Oliver from the corner of her eye, careful not to look directly at or move toward him.
“What isn’t safe?”
“Being near me,” Oliver scowled.
Isabella meticulously moderated her tone, “Why isn’t it safe?”
“I’m cursed,” Oliver pressed his face into his knees.
Isabella took a slow breath.
“We might be able to help with that.”
“No one can help.”
“I would like to try. Could you tell me more about your curse?”
Oliver raised his hazel eyes to meet Isabella’s baby blue ones. Her heart broke to see such overwhelming pain in eyes not much younger than hers, but neither looked away.
“I hurt people.”298 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)
Something slammed into the side of my head. I yelled as I toppled off my bike, so disoriented that I couldn’t even catch myself from crashing to the ground. Whoever had hit me came at me again, but I rolled out of the way before their weapon landed.
Holy shit, the asshole is using a bat!
I staggered to my feet as someone else joined the fray. Laurie’s face held a scowl as he launched himself at me. The man had a paunch and moved more like a garbage truck than a stockcar, but he had plenty of rage behind his strike. I used his momentum to shove him past me but still had to duck away from his bat-wielding partner.
Fuck, is that Detective Martindale?
Guess we knew if Laurie had contact with Backlog now. The cop swung again and I dodged but my phone popped out of my pocket and skittered across the concrete to the edge of the parking lot. I didn’t get much time to worry about it because Laurie came at me again.
“What the fuck, Laurie? What’s your problem?”
“You’re the problem, you piece of shit. You stole my wife, you fucked up my deal, and now you’re gonna die.”
He came at me like a boxer, but telegraphed his punches and I was able to fend off most of them. But his rage made him pretty strong, and while I wasn’t a hand-to-hand specialist, I had been in enough fights to hold my own. I ducked out of the way and straight into Martindale’s bat.
It rung my bell so hard, my brain threw up the stars and stripes upside down in a signal of dire distress. Guess you could say I’m under duress. Then the world went black.296 words by Siobhan Muir (@SiobhanMuir)