Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Black Lighthouse

****If you comment on my story, I promise I'll return the favor! Thanks!

Here's another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig's site. We had to pick one of the five titles (or use the words and mix them up to make a new title) and then make up a story based on the title we chose. I picked The Black Lighthouse and made a ghost story up, involving the Blackbeard the pirate. But get this, I actually did research on him! Okay, the whole two seconds on Wikipedia. But still, I researched! Anyway, enjoy the story...........

“Do you know why it’s called the Black Lighthouse?” Max asked his friends at lunch.

“Because it’s African American?” Keith drawled, playing with the gauges in his ears.

“Treasure!” Brittany exclaimed, bouncing in her seat and almost spilling her milk.

“No, Keith. And Brittany, you’re jumping ahead,” Max said impatiently.

“What does the Black Lighthouse have to do with treasure?” Keith asked, curious.

Max put up his hands to stop them from talking. “Okay, bad idea asking you both. I’ll just tell you. They say the Black Lighthouse doesn’t work anymore. That’s why it’s nicknamed, ‘Black.’ But its real name is Blackbeard Lighthouse. As in, the famous pirate.”

“I’m bored. Can we skip the history lesson, Mr. Max?” Keith snapped, biting into his greasy pizza.

“But, pirates have treasure!” Brittany protested. “That’s what he’s getting at!”

“He just said the lighthouse doesn’t work anymore, stupid.”

“Don’t call me stupid!”

“Shut up both of you!” Max yelled, exasperated. Keith crossed his arms defiantly and Brittany pouted, hurt.

“Holy shit, you two are impossible. Let me finish.” Max continued, “Blackbeard once raided along this coast here in South Carolina, so in later years, they called it Blackbeard Lighthouse.” Max held up his hand again before Keith could say anything. “But others say they call it Blackbeard Lighthouse because it shines a black light onto the water during the new moon at midnight. When it does, Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, appears to reveal where his treasure is.”

“What bunch of bullshit.” Keith rolled his eyes. “If it’s true, why hasn’t anyone found the treasure?”

“Because everyone thinks it’s bullshit,” Max shot back with a smile.

“Okay, so why are you all about this all of a sudden?” Keith asked while Brittany continued pouting over her peas.

“Because tonight is a new moon.”

Keith and Brittany both perked up.

“You’re not thinking about going out to the Black Lighthouse tonight, are you?” Brittany asked with wide eyes.

“Well, I want both of you to come, too,” Max replied hopefully.

“Why?” Brittany asked, slightly confused.

“Oh, so you don’t want treasure?” Max teased.

“How do we even know there is treasure?” Keith challenged.

“We won’t know unless we try.”

They decided to met up at eleven-thirty at the Black Lighthouse.

“This better be worth it,” Keith declared as he arrived. “I just got in a shit ton of trouble. I got caught sneaking out.”

“How did you get caught?” Brittany inquired as she parked her bike.

“I stepped on our cat’s tail. She screeched like a banshee and woke everyone up.”

“Your black cat?” Brittany asked nervously.

“It’s just a superstition, Brittany,” Max said, trying to calm her.

“Just like we’re here because of a ghost story?” Keith sarcastically asked.

Max glared at him.

“So, what are we suppose to do?” Brittany asked, peering into the darkness. “Do we have to go in the lighthouse?”

“No, we wait to see the ship,” Max said.

“I thought you said that it has to shine a black light over the water. How’s it going to do that without turning that on?”

Max tapped his chin, thinking. “Good point.”

“Okay, then,” Keith sighed. “So we need to get in.”
Keith found the aged wooden door leading into the lighthouse. He pulled at the handle. When nothing happened, he began frantically tugging at it for a few minutes before he gave up.

“It’s locked,” he panted.

Brittany stared at it for a moment and then gently gave it a push.

“What the fuck, Brittany? Do you really think that did anything?” Keith shouted but stopped when the door slowly opened with a sleepy groan.

Keith and Max both stared astonished at Brittany with open mouths.

She shrugged. “You were opening it the wrong way.”

Shaking their heads in disbelief, Max and Keith entered with Brittany at their heels.

“Hold on,” Max called in the darkness. He grabbed his phone and turned on his flashlight app. Instantly, the room was flooded with light. Everything was covered in dust and to their right, a stairway twisted up to the top. With Max leading with the flashlight, they all ascended to the top of the lighthouse.

The huge light in the center took up most of the room. They circled around it.

“How do you turn this thing on?” Keith asked, looking for a button.

Max moved his light around until he spotted a switch. He flipped it and waited.

“That didn’t do anything,” Keith stated pointlessly.

“Wait, you guys! I think I see something out in the water!” Brittany gasped.

“Is it a ship?” Max asked eagerly.

“I think!”

Max was already running down the stairs when he shouted, “Let’s go, then!”

They both hurried after him.

Once outside again, they peered out over the lake. A huge prow was emerging, poking a hole in the darkness as the whole ship gradually came into view. Its sails were flapping in an invisible wind as it shimmered a hazy white light. Closer and closer it came, until it banked on the shore.

Max, Keith, and Brittany watched breathlessly, captivated by what they were witnessing.

A plank came down and the ghost of Blackbeard himself appeared.

“I don’t believe it,” Keith whispered.

Blackbeard beckoned them to come aboard.

“I don’t know about this, guys,” Brittany whimpered.

“He’s going to show us the treasure,” Max said. “What is he going to do to us? He’s a ghost. He can’t hurt us!” And with that, Max walked up the plank. Keith and Brittany looked at each other.

“He’s got a point,” Keith shrugged and followed Max. Brittany could only watch as Keith joined Max.

Brittany wanted to go with her friends, but she couldn’t move. Her feet were rooted in place. So, there she stood as the ship drifted back into the night, and there she stayed until the sun’s rays spread across the sky and the water lapped at her feet.

She waited for her friends to return but they never did.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Joe's Diner

This is my story for this week's flash fiction challenge at Chuck Wendig's site. We had many options to choose from, but I finally settled on post-apocalyptic, heaven, and haunted by past. This story flowed from my thoughts to my hands easily and eagerly, so much so that it was hard to contain the story to exactly one thousand words. I would like to expand this story one day, but for now, here it is:


The sign for Joe’s Diner flickered so only the letters D, i, and e were lit.

I entered the diner through the shattered glass door, grunting as my shoes scraped against my heels.

“Coffee?” I groaned, leaning heavily on the grimy counter.

A wrinkled, puckered lipped woman stared back at me with red-rimmed eyes.

“There hasn’t been coffee since Day Zero,” she snapped.

“Tea?” I croaked. My shoes bit into my feet, begging me to sit down.

“None of that either.” Losing interest, she went back to wiping a cloudy glass with a dirty rag.

“Okay, what about a hard one, then?”

She glared at me again. “It’ll cost you, you know.”

“I know.” I slid a pack of cigarettes across the counter. She grabbed it and quickly tucked it in her stained apron, glancing around as she did so.

No one used money anymore. It was worthless, even as fuel for fire to keep warm. Currency was necessary and scarce items like bottled water, aspirin, toothpaste, cigarettes, and matches.

With a sigh, she set the cloudy glass on the counter with a clank and reached under the counter to get a bottle. She poured a dubious amber liquid in the glass and handed it to me with shriveled fingers.

“Thanks,” I breathed as I trudged over to an empty booth. A few people were scattered across the dingy diner, all staring blankly and in various stages of eating.

I grunted in pain as I finally took weight off my aching feet. Leaning back in the booth, I took a swig. The liquid burned all the way down my throat, leaving a fiery path in its wake. Surprisingly, this was good stuff. It was definitely worth the pack of cigarettes. Thinking of cigarettes, I felt my fingers twitch, wanting to grab at my second pack hidden in my torn windbreaker. No, I needed to save that for payment for a bed to sleep in tonight. Hopefully, it will be a bed without lice this time. Since Day Zero, I never stay in the same place or the same town.

Day Zero. I don’t know what happened that day. The sky torn apart and the earth shook. Millions of people died for what looked like no reason at all, just fell to the ground or slumped in their chairs. It was as if their souls flew away, abandoning the bodies. Millions died, leaving us behind, the last remaining. We don’t know how many of us are actually left. Communications are down, electricity comes in spurts, and all transportation has come to a screeching halt.

All I know about that day is that was the day I died. My heart may be pumping and my lungs may be taking in oxygen, but I am the living dead. Because on that day, Day Zero as it is coined, I made my choice to leave my family to go to a business meeting. I should have stayed at home with my wife and baby daughter. I don’t know if I could have saved them but coming back home and seeing their lifeless bodies slumped on the couch was more than I could bear.

The shoes that I wore to the meeting and the pair I walked in when I saw my dead family are the same ones I hobble in now. I could have changed shoes, probably should. Everyone walks since there is no more gasoline, at least, not easily acquired.

No, I have to walk in these shoes everyday, feeling the blisters, the sores, the scraping of shoes against my heels at every step. It is a constant reminder of that day when I could have been with my family, to have those last  precious moments together before they were gone forever. Who knows, maybe we could all be in heaven right now.

“Heaven is still in our reach! Repent now and save your souls!” A man shouted hoarsely, wearing a torn, aged robe that didn’t quite fit him around his midsection. He stood in the middle of the diner, proclaiming the Word of God as everyone around him stared like zombies.

“Goddammit,” I muttered as I took another gulp. These “reverends” come around and spread false hope wherever they go.

“We are not forgotten. God wants us to share in His everlasting glory and has given us a second chance for us to find Him,” the man continued, lies bursting out of his cracked lips into the desperate ears around him.

“Oh, shut the fuck up!” I sprung out of my seat. “We have been left to rot, cursed to live without life, existing in this Godforsaken hellhole. There is no heaven for us, only death and despair!” I shouted in such a furious rage that burned deeper and darker than the alcohol in my stomach.

In my fury, I punched him right in the jaw. He collapsed on the dusty floor, robe spilling out in folds.

“What did you do that for?” accused the puckered lipped waitress with a hand on her hip. “Hope is all we got left.”

“There is no hope.”

I choked down the last of my drink and slammed it down on the table. Everyone was quiet, watching me with dead eyes. No one rushed to check if the man was okay. It’s not like we could take him to a hospital.

I limped out of the diner, my feet waking up with pain.

This is my punishment for all those nights I stayed late at the office instead of being with my family for... I couldn’t think about all that right now. I shoved it out of my thoughts. Yes, I know why we were all here. We are the damned, the sinful, the ghosts that haunt the dead.

I walked with no place to go and no reason to live. I walked to feel the scraping of my shoes against my heels and the material biting into my feet.

I walked to my death.