fiction, late night fiction, writing

Lucky Horseshoes

PART TWO.

“It’s time for bed you two.” Aurora shouted from the kitchen.

“Five more minutes.” Davey said, making a face as he pulled the covers up over his head. 

“Please mom,” Ethan pleaded, “Grandpa’s telling us a story.” 

Aurora was smiling at the doorway now, drying her hands and nodding permission.

“OK, but lights out after that.” 


That summer the old man never left my side. I don’t know if Murphy was his first name or his last name, or if it was his real name at all, but he said it’s what his friend’s called him, so I called him that too. 

We spent a week cleaning out the old shed in back, so I could have my own gym. Mom was happy that I finally moved my dad’s heavy punching bag out of the den. It had been sitting there collecting dust ever since he died, and it was always in her way when she tried to sew. 

My dad loved Rocky, I think that’s why he bought the bag. We saw that movie five times, and that’s about how many times he used it before he got sick. After what happened with Billy, I knew that I had to learn how to fight. He hit me so hard that I couldn’t even remember it! 

Murphy was there every day, watching me practice punches and giving me pointers. I figured he was pitching horseshoes when it happened, and he must have seen the whole thing, so one day I finally asked him about it. He just smiled and said it didn’t matter, that sometimes things aren’t what they seem. He was always talking in riddles like that, and it just burned me up. 

“I’m sick and tired of being small and afraid,” I yelled, hitting the bag hard, and as many times as I could. “If Billy tells the other kids, I’ll be the laughing stock too.”

“Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened,” he laughed. “Life’s too short. Besides, everything will work out in the end.”

Another stupid riddle, I thought to myself. I was too tired to argue, so I sat down on the floor to catch my breath. Murphy was sitting in front of the window, in my dad’s old recliner, and a gust of wind came up and sent his old fishing hat sailing across the shed. We both started laughing hysterically, and the smell of orange and vanilla filled the room. 

Murphy looked at me with a huge grin, and his eyes started to sparkle. 

“Let’s go play some horseshoes squirt.”

To Be Continued

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fiction, late night fiction, writing

Lucky Horseshoes

A SHORT STORY, PART ONE.

The old man started coming around the day that Billy Clyde knocked me out. It was the end of third grade, right before summer break. School let out early and it was too muggy to take the bus. Burt, the driver, always sweat real bad and on days like this, the stink was unbearable.

I was halfway up Third Street, in front of Cassiel Park, when I saw Billy catching up. I made a beeline for the gate, hoping I could lose him in there. There was a small hole in the fence, behind the horseshoe pits, and nobody else knew about it. Even if they did, most kids were too big to fit.

I thought that if Billy followed me there, I could sneak through the hole and get away. My plan didn’t work though, because he disappeared after I got past the magnolia tree. I didn’t see him again until I was at the east exit, and he was standing there, just waiting for me. I put my head down and raced toward him as fast as I could, but Billy was like a giant – and everything went black. 

Billy was gone when I woke up. My ears were ringing and my hair was full of dirt. I didn’t know how long I’d been out, but the sun was hot and it felt good on my skin. I laid there and let it soak into my face, and that’s when I first saw the old man.

His voice was loud, and it echoed in my head, “Let me help you son… sonson.” The smell of orange and vanilla filled the air, and all I could see when I looked up was his old red fishing hat, blocking out the sun. His wrinkled face was hidden behind a puffy white beard, and his blue eyes sparkled as he leaned down and put out his hand to help me up. 

Continued


I realize that I’ve left everyone hanging, with no ending to my previous short story—Franky with a “y”—but that’s probably a good thing. Final chapters take time!

Anyway, I wanted to get this second story going because, when I wrote it for class, I couldn’t figure out how to end it (seems to be a common theme). Well, I was finally able to come up with it!

So, Lucky Horseshoes, which was actually my very first attempt at writing a short story, EVER, has been pulled from the dusty old—soon to be burned folder—and is being given a new life.

I hope you enjoy it!

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late night fiction, writing

Late Night Fiction #5

The beginning of this short story, which spans across several posts, has now been pieced together on one page. Scenes One, Two and Three can be read HERE.

I’ll be adding the new scenes as well—once I’ve worked out any kinks—so by the time you read this the page may include this portion too. I realized why I like posting it in small increments like this. Well, for one because now I’m making major edits to the original, but the other reason—the bigger reason—is that each of these posts are the extent of my attention span when I’m reading.

That explains why it takes me so long to finish a book! Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one…


SCENE FOUR

Time stood still for Asher that evening. He didn’t notice the fiery red sky as the sun made its final descent into the horizon. He wasn’t even aware that it had vanished, and they were now sitting in darkness. His eyes remained fixed on Franky, his ears hanging on her every word. 

She told him about her younger brother Noah, and how the two of them had been inseparable until she went off to the University. They came from a family that was full of love, and her countenance beamed with joy when she told him stories about their childhood together. Their parents were killed in a tragic automobile accident not long after she left, and Noah had been with them. He survived the crash, but suffered tremendous brain damage. 

Franky was a brilliant student with a scholarship in computer science. Machine learning and artificial intelligence were her areas of expertise. Professor Hinkle, who was the head of the department, had taken her under his wing when he noticed her potential. She had experienced many successes with her experiments, and he assured her that her work far exceeded anything he had ever seen from a student.

They spent months discussing the possibilities of AI brain implants. The professor was much too cautious and conservative in his thinking though, and the two disagreed about many things. They just could not not see eye to eye, so Franky distanced herself from him. She built a makeshift lab in an abandoned wing of the university, and night after night she would work in secret. Finally, after weeks of very little sleep, she had made a significant discovery. She believed she had found the answer, something miraculous, and it wouldn’t just help Noah—it would bring hope, and new life to people everywhere.

“I made a horrible mistake.” Franky confessed. “I wasn’t thinking straight. I was tortured by grief. Noah was with me, but the brother that I knew and loved was gone. It was like watching him die, over and over again.” 

Her eyes welled with tears and one managed to escape. He watched it glisten as it slid down her cheek. She leaned back in the chair and stared upward. Asher followed her lead. The firmament resembled a black canvas, dotted with a billion radiant stars, and careful strokes of the artist’s brush had painted a delicate milky haze over them. Franky felt herself being swallowed up by a black hole, the infinite void that surrounded her in the moment.

Sitting there in the silence together, under the stars, Asher felt connected to her. They were kindred spirits, he thought. Each of them were so driven, but their hearts were filled with discontent. He tried to grasp his emotions as he stared into the black. He had never been romantically inclined, but he was drawn to her in the most indescribable way. Prepared to speak his mind, Asher looked over at Franky, only to find her sleeping. It was time to put her to bed.


To Be Continued

Good night everyone!


Photo by Bartosz Kwitkowski on Unsplash

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late night fiction, writing

Late Night Fiction #4

I’m including a table of links to hold this story together.



Continuing on from night #3

Asher turned to see the woman standing at the doorway, and then his eyes darted away. He couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. Her delicate frame was wrapped inside of his blanket, and the bottom swept across the floor like the cathedral train on a royal wedding gown. 

A braid of dark hair hung to her waist and her large hazel eyes seemed innocent, yet intoxicating. His mind conjured up the things that his sister would say if she were there. “Keep yourself together Asher! Make eye contact with the girl!”

“Have  I interrupted you?” she asked.

“No. My sister emailed me to ask if I’ve made any progress on my book,” he lied, rising to meet her at the door. “I thought I’d let her know how slowly it’s coming.” He grinned, hoping she would laugh at his gawky humor.

“I can’t thank you enough for taking me in,” she said, extending her hand out. “My name is Francesca, but my friends call me Franky.”

“I’m Asher,” he shrugged.

His mind churned, overwhelmed with nervous thoughts. Should he touch her hand? Were his hands too clammy? Surely she would sense his discomfort. With noticeable indecision, he clasped his hands around hers, shook with a quick spasm, and moved awkwardly around her to leave the office.

He showed her to the guest room that had the most splendid view, and the two walked out to the veranda. A baby blue sky faded into layers of yellow where the sun began to move behind the mountains, and scattered pink clouds hung in the air like cotton candy. Asher stood slightly behind her, watching her admire the nightly show that he’d gotten so used to on his own. He’d been longing to share it with someone, and he was happy that she was there to see it.

He noticed that there was a magnetism about her, he could feel its pull. Is that how she had ended up in the arms of this “thing” that had brought her there, he wondered. Did she remember what had happened? Surely not, he decided. She was too calm. Any person experiencing such trauma would be hysterical. 

“I’ve got to leave soon,” Franky said, interrupting him mid-thought.“My brother is in trouble and I’ve got to go find him.”

Asher had studied journalism in his university years, and he was always exploring eccentricities. Over the years he had developed a talent for conducting interviews and he was very good at it. The conversation made him think back to those days and the confidence that he had when he worked. He turned two chairs upright and brushed off the cobwebs and dust. 

“Let’s sit down,” he said, feeling oddly pleased with the situation. “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on and let me see if I can help.” 

“His name is Noah,” she began. 


To Be Continued

I had to pop in and add just a little to the story tonight. Hopefully the chunks will get longer so we can get to the end very soon. It’s all coming back to me, that class and the adventure of writing this story.

I remember spending SO much time on the beginning. By the end, it was a mad rush to finish it and turn it in. After that I didn’t even want to look at it! Re-reading it is like watching a movie in slow motion, and then hitting fast forward right when it gets to all of the action, and the ending. That poor, cheated ending. 😉

Anyway, that’s all for now. For anyone who’s reading… I hope you’re still enjoying the story!


Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

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late night fiction, writing

Late Night Fiction #3

Chapter One Continued

Asher stood frozen as questions flooded his mind. Was he going mad? Was it a dream? He pinched himself hard and yelped. Shards of glass crunched under his feet as his body shifted. With his eyes still glued to the window, he sidestepped to the broom closet. Suddenly something moved outside. It looked like an animal of some kind, sprawled out in the yard beyond the front steps. Perhaps it was a deer, he thought, they came around often.

The animal struggled to rise and collapsed again. He grabbed his flashlight and crept out to investigate. Its deliberate breaths grew louder and more strained as he approached it. Illuminating its form with the light, he learned that it wasn’t a deer at all. It was a young woman! Asher plucked her up and rushed inside, placing her body on the couch, near the fire. As he let go of her small body, her eyes opened wide and she clutched his arm.

“Please don’t say anything,” she pleaded.

Before he could respond, her eyes closed and her body withered into the cushion. What did she mean by that, he wondered. Surely she was delirious! He covered her with blankets, and sat nearby to observe, watching her sleep until the sun rose.

In the morning, as the light came in, the woman stirred. She looked around, moaned lightly, and then faded back to sleep. Asher left a glass of water on the table beside her, and retreated to his office. He slumped down in his chair, heart racing, his forehead covered in sweat. He was painfully uncomfortable around women, and now he had one in his home! What was he going to say to her? The computer lit up and a reply from his sister appeared. “Thank God,” he mumbled. 

Asher,

I can’t believe you! How can you unplug from the world like you do? I’ve been trying to call you. Please look at the news! Whatever it was that you saw, it is real. You’re not imagining things. Everyone is searching for him. They don’t know who he is, or WHAT he is, but they believe he’s dangerous. He was seen near Denver, carrying a woman. I’m having trouble believing it myself Asher, but it’s true!

I pray that you read this email, and stay safe until he’s found! If you have your phone, please answer it! Or call me!

—Emma

The cabin was secluded deep in the Rocky Mountains, nearly two hundred miles from Denver. Was this thing a man, or some kind of wild animal? Bigfoot perhaps? Had he carried the young woman all that way? Asher reached for a bead of sweat on his forehead, just before it reached his eye, and read the email again. Suddenly the floorboard creaked, and a shadow blocked the hall light. He fumbled for the power button, and the screen went black.


To be Continued

We’re getting to the parts that I want to rewrite, so the upcoming scenes will be coming in slowly. I’m not liking the fact that it feels drawn out. We had a page minimum on the assignment, so that’s exactly what I did at the time—draw it out. Ha-Ha! Anyway, I don’t like it. I think a short story should be just that: short. With my attention span, I don’t have the patience for a slow moving plot.

Also, I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but I felt pretty cruddy all day—and maybe feverish. I slept on and off for several hours, and am heading back there now. Let’s hope I sleep it off tonight!


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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