The time had come to say goodbye, but Liam didn’t want to let go. Sixty-three years of marriage would do that to you. He looked down on his wife, her eyes closed, her hands across her chest. It almost brought tears to his eyes again. He reached out and brushed her cheek.
Her eyes fluttered open. She searched the room, but nope, her husband was still gone. She was absolutely sure she had felt him. She felt the tears well up again. When will they ever stop? She rolled over to cry silently into her pillow. Why did he have to leave her?
He saw her look straight through him, not seeing his ghostly spirit. He knew he should go on to whatever fate he had waiting, but well, sixty-three years of marriage. Instead, he blew her a kiss and contented himself with watching over her. Eternity could wait.
Jeremy felt a sharp stabbing pain in his big toe. “What the hell!” he exclaimed under his breath. That might have hurt, but his dad mode was turned up to eleven since he had finally gotten the kids to bed. They needed so much coddling and consoling to get them there. He knew he didn’t want to go through that again if he could help it.
He looked down to see what he had jammed his toe into and there was the stainless steel dog bowl.
“Damn it all. I thought I told the kids to pick that up.”
Then the realization hit him. He slumped to the floor next to the bowl and tears threatened to flow. He took out the Milk-Bones box from the cupboard next to him. He grabbed one out and looked at it. The tears were flowing freely, and he now allowed himself to grieve.
And then there were no more words. All writing stopped and the world took a pensive breath. Soon the accusations flew. The right, left, and center blamed each other on their frivolous use of such a precious commodity. Large documents were written by scholars about the lack of words and what that meant for society. Talking heads spewed countless hours of drivel about the cataclysmic problem. Entire books were devoted to finding the solution to this disaster.
All hope was lost. Shut off the lights, it was time to just give up. There was nothing left to see hear.
She threw her pen down in disgust and went to bed, frustrated beyond belief.
The next day when she picked back up her pen the words spring out, and the world was saved. Millions lived, some of them died, but the words went onward.
“But Mr. Perkins, my dog ate all my homework,” Johnny said as he wiped his nose. The constant sniffle the boy had was almost more annoying than the lie he was trying to tell me.
“That was an extremely old excuse even when my dad went to school,” I said.
“But it’s the truth,” Johnny pleaded. “Honest.”
“Don’t lie to me,” I replied. Johnny was about to say more, but I cut him off. “Go back to your table, or I will send you to the principal’s office.”
Johnny gave up and moped his way back to his assigned spot. I watched him put on the plastic gloves. Like I would believe a dog would want to eat bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers. One bite maybe, but the rest?
“Okay students. Pick up your knives. Today I’m going to show you how to properly clean the skin off a snapper fillet.”
Framing the new wall in his basement, Marcus was finally content with its positioning. It wasn’t his best work, but because of the urgency to get it done, he was happy with it.
He would have been even happier if Dave hadn’t messed up the old wall, making Marcus do this fix. If the man could have just controlled himself. But no, he had to keep one-upping Marcus. Marcus had warned him there would be consequences, but Dave didn’t care and kept pushing. Now he was gone and left Marcus to fix the problem.
Marcus picked up the first piece of drywall. He tried to wedge it into place, but Dave’s fingers were in the way. “Who knew dead bodies would be so uncooperative.” He chopped off the offending digits, hung the drywall, and chucked the fingers behind it. Good thing he had drained the body.
The simple sound of a baby crying pierced the night, causing Bob to bleed from his stubbed toe as he became the first responder. The little bundle of joy was empty of joy, and thus the alarm was going off, but Bob couldn’t find the off switch, even after changing the wet encasing. He tried moving it around to activate the snooze, but that didn’t work either. Soon he decided that the alarm was a low energy notice. He plugged the baby into the recharging device and watched the fluid level on the device drain to zero. The recharge worked, as the baby went back into low power sleep mode. Bob thought about putting the baby where it belonged but worried that the jostling alarm had been reset, and he was worried about setting it off. Instead, he closed his eyes and snuggled the sleeping baby close to his heart.
I stood in the middle of the ruined city and wondered if there were any survivors. I had been in the mountains when my cell phone suddenly didn’t have any signal. I didn’t care then. It was part of the reason I love hiking the Adirondacks.
I figured when I drove to the gas station after my hike that I would check in with my roommate, but there had been still no signal. The gas station had been empty. The place was open, but no one was home. Hell, the lights didn’t work.
I drove empty roads all the way back to my dorm, but I didn’t meet another moving car. Hell, I didn’t see another human.
Now I stand here and wonder if I was the last person here on Earth.
The barbershop smelled of talcum powder and yesteryear’s stale cigarettes. Dale closed his eyes and felt the gentle tugs of scissors cutting through his wispy graying hair. He remembered back to a time where he would be smoking one of those cigarettes as the barber struggled to tame his gorgeous mane. He had been king back then, and this place had been his private den. Now he was an aging male with a comb over and a paunch of too successful hunting.
The bell announced a new customer. Dale opened his eyes to see Charlie come in. Charlie rubbed what little stubble he had on the top of his noggin. “Got time to shave me?” Charlie asked. “My daughter is getting married this week.”
Dale smiled and closed his eyes. He may not have much, but he had more hair than Charlie, and that was good enough for this king.
The click of an empty chamber fell upon recently deafened ears. It was finally over, or at least Margret hoped so. Then there was the creak of a door opening downstairs. She dove under her bed. She had dropped a couple of rounds when loading last time. She just needed to find them.
The stairs creaked and groaned as the cause of the noise climbed to the second floor.
Margret’s searching hand slapped away a smooth metallic object. She stifled a curse and pulled herself further under the bed.
The door to the bedroom opened.
Margret felt tears fall from her chin. She closed her eyes and said a prayer. Her hand still searching, her fingers found the fallen round. She slowly opened the chamber and slid it in. She frantically tried to locate her assailant.
Nothing was left in the tank. The car had screamed at Greg miles ago that it needed sustenance, but Greg drove on anyway. Why should the car get what Greg could not?
It had been twenty days since she had left him. Now Ginny was on the west coast with her new job and new friends, and here he was in Cleveland, no money, no gas, and no chance of undoing any of his mistakes. To think at one time Greg was her bad boy. Now he was just being bad.
He left the keys inside the stolen car and began walking home. Sometimes you needed a long walk to clear your mind, but all the way to Atlantic City?
After two miles his feet were screaming. Okay, maybe this walk was a bit melodramatic, but it would be a great story to tell Ginny’s sister. She was hotter anyway.