Friday, July 15, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

The black car approached the stop sign slowly and paused, but didn't stop. Folks used to call that a California stop. Maybe they still do. Folks say all kinds of shit, though. Sometimes it's hard to listen to. Anyway, the black car - it was a muscle car, maybe a new Charger - it just rolled through slow, right. Then, all hell broke loose. There were so many shots I couldn't even tell where they were coming from. 

Everybody on the street hit the deck quick. Folks might have been screaming, but it was so damn loud all you could hear was the bangs. Sounded like we were in a goddamn war zone. The action was aimed at the black car. The windows exploded. Then, you could see the bullets hitting the body of the car. Little holes popping up all over. Then, it stopped. 

My ears were ringing like crazy. I saw people talking, but I couldn't hear nothing, and I doubt they could neither. Now, this next part, I don't know how I noticed it, but I did. Across the street, in the first floor window there was an old woman just staring out the window with the strangest smile on her face. It was shocking. Like, everyone is freaking out, but she looks like she's watching the Macy parade...or like she was looking at her grandkid finger paint. Like, touched. Proud. It made my blood run cold.

Now, I don't want to make this next part seem like I was being brave. It wasn't bravery. I don't know what it was, but it sure wasn't bravery. So, anyway, I ... not decided, it wasn't a decision. I felt like I had to go look in the car. Maybe there was a woman in there. A young kid. Maybe they weren't dead. I've had a little medical training, and maybe I didn't want to live with the knowledge that some poor SOB bled out while the cops were on their way. 

I was scared shitless if you want to know the truth. Scared because I didn't want to see anything terrible and scared because I knew I was walking into a potential death trap. The shooting had stopped, but I doubted the guns had evaporated, you know? I didn't want to die. It was fucking stupid, truth be told, but I did what I was compelled to do. Like I said, it wasn't necessarily a choice. 

So, I'm walking up to the car, and I start getting this funny feeling. Like, uncomfortable. Squirmy. But I couldn't stop myself to think. It's like my brain wasn't mine anymore. I wasn't making the decisions. It's hard to explain. This next part you're not going to believe, but I swear it on a stack of whatever the fuck you find sacred. 

The car was empty. 

It was shot to hell, perforated, really. Holes in everything, but no blood. And there was nothing inside the car. No box of tissues. No trash. No smokes. No old cokes. If it wasn't for the holes, it would look showroom, see? No blood trail out of the car, either. And I was looking at it the whole time, minus the thirty seconds I saw that creepy old lady. 

I freaked out. I turned around and started running. Next thing I know, I'm pounding on the door of the old lady's apartment. The door opens and it's a goddamn supermodel. Most beautiful woman I ever saw. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to say. She just stares at me. So, finally, I say "the old lady. Where is she?" This woman looks at me like I'm crazy. No old woman lives there she says. 

Then, I heard the most terrible noise I ever heard in my life. Sounded like a rusty gate being torn off its hinges. It just keeps getting louder. Like it's coming from everywhere. If felt like it was tearing me apart. I covered my ears, but I swear I could hear it in my skull just as loud. I didn't even look at the supermodel. I just got out of there. 

Outside, everyone is covering their ears, same as me, and they all have this terrified expression on their faces. Just like I had, I figure. Then, like their heads were all on a string, they look up at the roof of the baptist church across the street. You're not going to believe me. I don't even believe it. Sitting right on top of the brass cross is a raven. Shining black. Screaming its head off. And ... shit if that raven wasn't six feet tall. 

I guess my mouth must have about hit the sidewalk. And just as fast as it started, the sound stopped. That raven looked up and down the street. I looked where he was looking and, when I looked back, he was gone. 

I figure you'll hear about the same thing from everyone. If they're honest. If they don't mind sounding crazy. I don't care if you think I'm crazy. 

It happened just like that. 


  1. I was sucked in. Great story. I didn't expect the car to be empty. Great build-up and scene building. Love the raven at the end. Very Poe and like Judgement rearing its head.

    1. I was riveted. At first I thought it was a self-driving car. Really loved it. And what Vickie said.

    2. The writing throughout this is so fluid and the storytelling is so engaging. I love the detail and the way you catch our attention and lead us along. It reminds me of Stephen King’s narrative style but it’s most definitely yours. I loved it – it’s fabulous.

      (Mark A Morris)


    You need it simple.
    Get up,
    eat breakfast,
    drink a cup of tea.

    Go to work,
    get it done,
    travel home safely.

    Prepare dinner,
    watch a movie,
    rest up,
    go to sleep,

    Break for the weekend.
    Get more sleep,
    chill out.
    See friends.
    Share some hugs,
    and some laughs,
    swap stories,
    maybe rock a little.

    Go home.
    Go to sleep.
    Feel safe.

    1. "Feel safe. Repeat." I love this.

    2. It's like a mantra. I'm 100% there. You must have hacked into my head. Nice work - I loved this too.

      (Mark A Morris)


    We walk on water only to
    sink inside,
    spirited down into the depths
    of silence.

    Liquid seeps between our toes,
    sucks us down,
    until we are one with silence.

    The depths echo our thoughts,
    transport us to a new world
    outside of time,
    our limbs no longer ours.

    Bodiless we hang,
    suspended. Only consciousness
    in blue.

    1. Beautiful. I could feel the weightlessness of the water.

  4. It takes a while to get your bearings in the Warsaw refugee center, but eventually you find two of your neighbors from Kyiv, an elderly couple, and over surprisingly good coffee you play asylum geography—who is where, who has taken them in, who has returned. The wife, Magdalena, says Renata is there, too, as is her family, but she rarely leaves her bed. They all worry for her, but there are so many to worry over. Magdalena leans closer. “Something bad happened, I think.” You nod, the words tightening your throat.

    Renata lived in your apartment building, on the third floor, with her grandparents and younger brothers and sisters. She was a beauty, a rosebud of a teenage girl. Amber-brown hair curled fashionably around her delicate jaw. Several times when the sirens went off, you sat together in the shelter whispering in the dark after the children had fallen asleep. Telling stories, keeping each other strong. Becoming friends.

    One night when the sirens sounded, Renata didn’t come to the shelter with her family. Her grandparents were despondent. She hadn’t come home for dinner.

    The next day there was a knock on your door. It was Renata, but a version you could never have expected. Her shoulders curled in and her eyes were lowered and there was an ugly, florid bruise blooming on her left cheekbone. You pulled her inside the door and held her in your arms. You didn’t have to ask what had happened. You knew. All women would know. You held her until she softened against you. You asked one thing: if she needed a doctor. She shook her head as if she could shake the memory out of it. You made tea. You pretended to drink it. The water cooled. The afternoon faded. You promised not to tell her grandparents. You gave her a phone number of a clinic that had helped many in such trouble without asking too many questions.

    It was the last you’d seen of Renata.

    You ask Magdalena to bring you to her, and she thinks it might be a fool’s errand, but she indulges you. Her grandmother sits stiffly at her bedside, in a giant room filled with army cots. When the older woman sees you, her eyes narrow. She rises like a cobra preparing to strike.

    “Please,” you say. “I’d just like a moment.”

    Her wariness softens and she moves a discreet distance away.

    But Renata doesn’t turn to greet you. Even when you sit, even when you set a hand on her thin shoulder. You whisper soft words. She shifts on the cot, and her eyes are hollow, red-rimmed. Her T-shirt drapes over a flat belly, and at least for this you are relieved. You want to ask things. You want to ask everything.

    “She found out,” Renata says, her voice a tiny creak. “About the doctor. About what I did. She thinks I’m going to hell.”

    You suck in a breath, lean over and pull her into your arms. “Oh, honey,” you murmur, as she grips you back fiercely and wets your clothing with her tears. “We’re already there.”

  5. Laurie, this brought me to tears. That so many suffer a like story at the hands of monsters leads me to plans of revenge. Intricate plans that are even more monstrous than what has already occurred.

    I take comfort from them...

  6. Hero

    We’re looking out for a hero,
    So the song goes.
    Someone who knows what
    You’re going through
    Trying to be you
    When others don’t approve
    Or judge for what isn’t you.
    These tales that make no sense.
    The things that aren’t true.
    You’re caught in the middle
    And it isn’t good to be a woman.
    You’re here, but you’re not

    Vickie Johnstone

  7. “And this one?” The Informator rapped on the screen, using his extendible claw. “Can anyone tell me what this one’s meant to be?”

    The class went quiet. Adams affected a cough, pretending he’d contracted pleurisy. The traditional ailments were making a resurgence, Lyme disease currently being the most common cause of fatalities in the Americas. It had been placed third in Eurasia, coming behind the Spanish Flu and Ebola. Housemaid’s Knee had re-emerged in Chad and Uganda, its victims requiring multiple amputations in the most severe cases.

    “Adams – you’re excused,” the automaton said. “Now, can anyone else tell me what the image represents?”

    “Is it a larch?” Tompkins said, half raising his hand. “Only my father used to say it was the best choice if you were unsure of the answer.”

    The Informator growled, grinding its gears. Tompkins had given the same answer for the previous three images, and it was becoming tired of leading this class. It was a far cry from being active on the front lines in Western Russia. And to think it had traded PTSD for a career in education.

    “Anybody else?” It scanned the rows again, looking for anyone showing an iota of interest. It was about to offer the answer itself when James raised her hand.

    “Is it a daisy?” she said. “Only it’s got petals and a stem. And the thing on the top’s a flower. Amirite?”

    “Close enough,” said the Informator. “And now for my next slide – 20th-century world leaders.”

    (Mark A Morris)


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