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Factor-E

old factory

The rust-toothed hole in the factory wall smiled a tetanusy smile, hinting of adventure and rebellion.

“I’m going in.”

“Don’t do it, Mike,” Aaron said. “You can’t cuz—” Reasons escaped him, all but a lingering fear that showed as clear as neon on his face.

“I won’t be more than a minute. Relax.”

“There’s probably tramps in there,” Aaron said.

“Naw, this is the only way in, you know that. And grown-ups couldn’t squeeze in here.” They had spent the last forty-five minutes circling the ramshackle building, chucking rocks at the few remaining panes and beating sticks on rusty oil drums to hear the ghostly boom.

“Raccoons then. Maybe. Rats definitely. Definitely.”

Mike ignored him. Of course there’d be rats inside. He’d be disappointed if there weren’t. He squatted down and peered inside the holes, careful not to touch the tetanusy edge. He shucked off his pack filled with the last of the snacks his mom had packed for him when she thought he was going to Aaron’s to play down by his creek. Maybe he should bring that last apple and peanut butter sandwich in case he needed to distract any rats. He picked up a stick instead.

Aaron caught hold of Mike’s ankle just before he started into the hole. “Hey, careful!” Mike said. “I almost clipped my ear on the edge. You want me to get blood poisoning?”

“What if it’s haunted?” Aaron said. His face showed this was the ultimate terror, the one hiding behind all the excuses of tramps and raccoons and rats. Everybody knew this factory was haunted. That’s why the two boys had been drawn there, why they had spent forty-five minutes looking for a way in, even if neither said it out loud, even if Aaron had not admitted it to himself.

“It’s not haunted, stupid,” Mike said. He turned back to the hole and a small shiver went down his back. He hoped it was haunted.

Over twenty years before, when the factory had been recently abandoned, a girl named Katie had crawled inside, maybe through this very hole. There’d been witnesses. The other girls had waited for hours, crying and shouting Katie’s name into the hole over and over until they’d run and told their parents. The police had searched every inch of the factory, but no Katie. All the entrances had been sealed. Mike liked to think that even this hole had been welded shut, that it had opened up on its own after decades of slumber to show its rusted teeth once more.

“Look, I’m going in,” Mike said again. “Come if you want or stay here. I’ll be back in a second.” He ducked under the rusty teeth and eased his body inside.

“You’re stupid, Mike. Stupid!” Aaron smacked his stick off the side of the building, and the metal around Mike boomed and reverberated back and forth, fading off into eternity. Mike pushed forward, trying to ignore the damp mold that squished around his hand and knees.

He came out a moment later into the factory’s main room. Rays from the late afternoon sun invaded the room through the high western windows. The room was a gloomy graveyard of covered machinery and stacked crates. There was no sound from outside—Aaron had evidently stopped whacking on the sides of the building. Nothing moved inside the building. It was as if time had stopped.

There was a crash from nearby, and a stack of pallets fell over. Mike jumped. He took a step towards the hole when a flashlight beam fell on him.

“Who are you?” someone asked. Mike couldn’t see the speaker between the flashlight beam in his eyes and the cloud of dust that the falling pallets had kicked up. He put his hand up to shield his eyes and the beam dropped to the floor.

“Sorry.” It was a girl, Mike could tell. When his eyes recovered from being dazzled by the flashlight, he saw that she was about his age, with curly permed hair and a colorful jacket.

“Who are you?” she asked again.

“I’m Mike.”

“How’d you get in here? Through that hole?” She pointed to the small hole Mike had just come out of. “Are Tammy and Deborah still out there?”

A jolt of fear and exhilaration shot through Mike. He stepped back before he could stop himself. “Are you Katie?”

“Yeah, so?” Katie looked unimpressed. “Did they send you in to find me? I just got here, you know.”

He had found the ghost. She was standing right in front of him, and she didn’t even know she was a ghost.

“What year is it?” he asked.

“What?” She stared him down, then snorted in derision. “1993. Duh. Hey!” Mike had stepped forward and grabbed her hand. She jerked back, yanking her hand free and glaring. “What are you, some kind of pervert?”

She was solid. He had been expecting his hand to go right through her, but she was as solid as he was. He had smelled something from her when she moved back, fabric softener or shampoo or something flowery. Ghosts didn’t have smells, did they?

“We have to get out of here,” Mike said. A thought had struck him, a terrible, impossible thought more horrible than any he had ever had because unlike all his daydreams of monsters and ghosts and aliens, he had a feeling that this one was true. He scrambled into the opening and looked back. Katie hadn’t moved. “Come on!” he shouted and something in his voice made her move to follow him, grumbling a little.

“Keep going,” she said a moment later. “Why did you stop?”

“It’s blocked,” he said. Katie clicked on her flashlight and shone the beam past Mike’s shoulder. The exit was blocked with packed dirt.

“Those jerks!” she shouted. “I knew Tammy was mad at me, but this is too much!” She pushed past Mike to claw at the dirt.

Mike helped her dig, his heart pounding painfully in his chest. This was bad, really bad. A moment later, Katie’s hand broke through into open air. Five minutes later, she pushed herself out into the open and Mike followed, birthing himself out into a stand of ferns.

“What is this?” Katie asked. Her bluster had been left underground. Now she sounded like a scared little girl.

“It was 2017 when I went into the factory,” Mike said. He showed her his phone, and the date it displayed. There was no signal now, not even a single bar. He stood up and looked around. They were in an evergreen forest that stretched as far as they could see in all directions.

“We gotta go back!” Katie cried. “We need to fix this!” She rushed to the hole and stuck her feet in. A moment later, she pulled them out and started crying. Mike saw why; the hole was only two feet deep now.

“Time must have moved differently inside,” he said. “You disappeared ten years before I was born.”

“So what year is this?” Katie asked. She scrubbed her hands across her face, leaving dirt smeared on her cheeks like tribal warpaint.

“I have no idea,” Mike said.

*   *   *

I originally thought of this story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, but decided to do my own thing when I realized I couldn’t cram it into a 100 words. So what do you think happened? What do you think will happen to Mike and Katie? Should I continue it?

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Black Market Bacchanalia

FF172 Ted Strutz

copyright Ted Strutz

Down among the subway tunnels, past the sign of the pansy crapper is the lair where the Donkey-boys rave. Anyone’s welcome, but they have a trial—test magic, they say—a special stone passed across your forehead. If it turns blue, you’re free to party but if it’s red, you have to leave something behind.

I’ve gone twice: two reds and two terrible losses. The first time I hopped out; the second time hobos carried my legless body out.

Come back anytime, they said. If it’s blue, all is forgiven and all is returned. I just need a way back.


Dear Aunt Hattie…

Dear Aunt Hattie Letter

I refolded the yellowed paper and after slipping it back into its crinkled envelope, I set it back against the gravestone. As I stood up, I saw a chinchilla staring at me from the top of a gravestone twenty feet away. Its eyes seemed to glow in the dying twilight. I’d never seen one in the wild before.

The sun sunk below the hills and the cemetery was plunged into darkness. I bolted for my car, every second dreading to hear tiny, skittering footsteps on the path behind me.

 

 

 

 

 

chinchilla gif


Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

Disclaimer: this is fiction. This is not how I, David Stewart, met my wife.

That said, this is my 3rd anniversary of doing Friday Fictioneers stories every week, which means I have written 156 100-word stories thus far.

I was having trouble thinking of a good story for this one so I asked the students in my writing class. They told me to write “a funny, horror love story”. Thanks guys, eh?

I got my revenge though, by assigning them each to write a story for Friday Fictioneers. They have their own WordPress blogs as part of our curriculum, so they’re going to post them there. If you want to read them, the links are:

https://bobybangladesh.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/surprising-assets/

https://yuxianadventure.wordpress.com/

https://tmsamurai.wordpress.com/

The last two hadn’t posted their stories at the time I posted this. Keep in mind that they are still learning English and before these stories, they had each written one fiction piece in English.

Now, on to the story.

copyright Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

 

Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

I unearthed her while digging the foundation of a new office building. She lay there, dead but conscious, watching me.

It took me twenty minutes just to ask her name. I was so shy.

It was rough at first; all relationships are. I’m a vegetarian; she drinks the blood of the living. Well opposites attract, they say.

*

That was 6 years ago. We’ve both adjusted.

My phone buzzes. Honey, bring a ssssacrifice home for dinner. I hunger I thirst lol

“Hey Bill,” I say to my co-worker. “Wanna come home for supper? My wife will whip you up, something special.”

 


Grave Requests

I have fallen into the bad habit these past few weeks of writing my Friday Fictioneers stories on Tuesday, a full week almost after the picture was released. Last week I had the excuse that I was at a conference in Cancun for most of the week, but this week there is no excuse except the normal extreme busyness of life. Last week I made it into the InLinkz group literally 2 minutes before it closed. This week, for the second time in 3 years, I missed it altogether. Still, here is my story, for what it’s worth. I realize most people probably went for a Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day theme. I didn’t go that way at all. I wrote this story for someone specific. They know who they are. 🙂

copyright J Hardy Carroll

copyright J Hardy Carroll

I pressed my face to the freshly-dug earth. “Don’t leave me, Mom.”

“I didn’t.” The voice was distinct, and came from under the earth.

“You’re dead!”

“I’m chained down here. Dig me up, quick!”

I fled, and spent the evening throwing up.

 

Something dragged me back.

“You’re not my Mom.”

“You sure? Dig me up.”

“No.”

“Do it!”

Finally, I got a shovel.

 

There was no body, just a speaker. A man approached. Words like experiment, psychological, hypothesis buzzed through my brain.

The next night, the university’s psychology building mysteriously burned down. Wonder how that fit into their hypothesis.


Orca’s Den

I know I’ve said this before, but this story is a little weird. Let me know what you think.

copyright C.E. Ayr

copyright C.E. Ayr

Orca’s Den

Orca's Den 1

Orca's Den 2

Orca's Den 3

Orca's Den 4

Orca's Den 5

Orca's Den 6

Orca's Den 7

Orca's Den 8

Orca's Den 9


Shades in the Dark

As you may know, I am an English teacher. This last month, our university was host to a group of students and professional from Mexico, as part of the Proyecta 100,000 program. They are gone back home now, I am very sad to say, but while they were here, I was their writing teacher. Among the projects we did were short stories. I asked if I could post them on my blog and they agreed. So here is the first one, Shades in the Dark, written by Frank Soria and Jorge Montesinos.

Shades in the Dark

by Frank Soria and Jorge Montesinos

It was an October night full of stars, and the moon shone in the high clear sky. There was nobody but the wind blowing outside. Deserted streets seemed to be aware that something unexpected was coming up. Everything was quiet, warm, and cozy. Emily and Kevin had just gotten to their grandpa’s home. He was an old fashioned man, rough of character, but lovely deep in his heart.

The first days passed harmoniously, soft, and warm. One night after having dinner, Kevin heard a slight creaking noise coming from the corridor. Without notice he stood up and went through it to realize no one was there. He felt how the temperature in the room dropped drastically. His legs trembled as he walked away. He was almost voiceless, nobody seemed to be there, but the whisper of a strange entity surrounded his little body, taking him to his deepest scary feelings. The lamp in the corridor flickered, announcing the inevitable encounter with the paranormal event. His heart beat as fast as a horse in the wild field. Suddenly, he felt a hand grabbing his shoulder. His breath stopped for a moment. He turned around to realize that it was his grandpa looking at him. He told his grandpa about the noise, but he said nothing about it.

The following day his sister teased him about the ghost story, laughing at him. Kevin cried for her madness. Night came back. A storm was announced in the papers. The lights went off. It was windy and cold outside. Grandpa took some candles from an old drawer and met the boys for dinner. Kevin was afraid and asked grandpa to take him to bed. Emily stayed for a while in the kitchen. Suddenly, she heard somebody coming to her. She turned around. No one was there, but an empty room in the shadows. She never had felt so lonely and frightened. A gust of wind opened the window blowing the candle out, pulling everything in its path towards Kevin’s room. She ran to rescue her little brother, but she couldn’t open the door. She yelled at him desperately. There was no answer. Lightning lit her frightened face when her grandpa hugged her and calmed her down. They heard a horrible roar coming from the inside of the room, but the door remained sealed. After a few minutes they could open it and Kevin was not there. The room smelled like a rare fragrance. They had a terrible feeling, but they could do nothing.

The little boy had disappeared. Not a single roar, strange sound or shadow was seen from that day on. No one mentioned a word about that event. Emily grew up there with her grandfather and sometimes she woke up thinking that was a weird nightmare and looked for Kevin but he had gone.


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