“This is Not a Drill” By Robin Chappell

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Why couldn’t things ever remain the same? I’d take that, ya know? Everything being more predictable than the spurious situation we harbored each day…each day since, oh nevermind.

I exhaled a long and final puff of my cigarette, proceeding to walk through the doors of the sullen place we called “home”, but inside it felt the same as my heart…an empty below freezing vacuity which served no monumental purpose.

Those same cold brown eyes drilled a hollow hole into my hazel ones as I crossed the spacious living room in silence, barely looking your way and breaking contact. I pray you don’t utter a word…but I know better.

“You know what I had to do today??”

You break the quiet tension with an open ended question I did not expect, sarcasm dripping on your tone.

“No. But I’m sure you’re going to tell me anyway.” I mutter the statement before I could take it back.

I was shot down by a decrepit stare and it hurt worse than any excruciating damage a bullet would have done if it shattered through my left knee cap.

“I had that lunch today, remember? The one with Yvette that I told you about?”

I strolled to the bar next to the kitchen, slowly poured a small shot of brandy, then looked into the air as if searching for the conversation I guess we supposedly had about it.

“Yvette…yeah…yeah. How was it? How is she?

Why the fuck did I just ask that as if I truly cared? I hate Yvette.

“Oh, it was great, as always. Limited hints of girlishly unnecessary attitude with short discussions of never mentioning what actually matters in our lives. Small talk about the dubious effects of politics and how the country’s gone to shit.”

I released a small grunt of interest. Mainly for the reason of not seeming like I wasn’t listening.

She continues through the entire conversation, waving her slender freshly manicured hand in the air and recalling all of the details.

“The place she chose was charming. A quaint little French place surrounded by varieties of lilies, chrysanthemums, and a view that could cheer up the worst of us. She bragged about a husband she just couldn’t stop gushing about, flashing an ice capped mountain on her hand, a lavish vacation to Bora Bora they just traveled, and their perfect child that plays cello for the top musical institution in the city.”

“Hmm…”

“Then of course she looks at me, green eyes of amusing candor. That quizzical and judgmental look I cannot stand and with a flip of her hair she asks ‘So when are you going to get married Trinity? Are you still with that Trent guy?’

She giggles with a shameful shake of her head, curls fall into her eyes, which she swipes away with an annoyed gesture. She’d complain about how they needed to be clipped again later, but she continues to speak.

“And I, of course, after guzzling five swallows of the overpriced Moscato she just had to order; I respond with the tedious lie of ‘well, I’m still really focused on my career’ with a plastered smile of a circus clown…lying…for you as I do each and every time.”

I anxiously tapped my fingers against the tailored suit of my pants leg, rolling my eyes in frustration.

Here it comes.

I was not at all in the mood to hear about how she resented me for not proposing to her for six years or for absent mindedly copping out of our situation altogether. It ate her alive to the point she didn’t leave when she should have. She just…waited for me. She watched as everything great about us disintegrated without a fight…allowing the light to fade from our eyes when we stared at each other day after day. She wanted me to make moves I never had the energy for and just deemed her presence in my life tolerable enough to deal with.

“So, then she starts talking about this promotion at her journalism job and of course I’m looking at how amazing she still looks. I mean luminously glowing and basking in happiness, salon styled hair cascading around her face in tendrils of healthiness and no split ends to be seen.”

Tears began to stream from her face as she reflected on the unreachable perfection she felt Yvette possessed and this is why I hated Yvette. I knew…I knew everything and how her lavish lifestyle was only covering up the fact that her husband was actually living out of deep, dark closets, filled with the stench of men from the abundantly free lives of nightclubs…sneaking around at his job after hours. Bill covered himself in what he thought was a safety net of manliness, showering his wife with affectionate gifts, and forcing his seventeen year old daughter to be the absolute best at each endeavor she dared to explore.

I’d been friends with him for fifteen years and it was the one thing I dared not mention to anyone. It was his bed that he made to lay in…to hide in every other week.

I could not tell any of this. I did not tell Trinity any of this because she’d swear that I was the one deflecting our situation onto theirs…attempting to find something more worse than the shit I had done with women in the past.

I released a grunt once again and continued sipping from my glass, desperate to feel the relaxing waves of not giving a fuck.

It’s as if she came to an epiphany and figured that part out, because she quickly wiped her face and dried her tears as if she found a new strength inside or she ran out of fuel, but she never seemed to run out of words.

“As we sat there, in this fancy ass place…comparing lives and sharing stories…I look up and I see this handsome man, dressed for work as he is each morning…but he is not there today. He’s just happily…strolling by the restaurant without a care in the world. Hands in his brown coat pockets, paying no attention to what’s around him…or whom. Just walking down 5th Street with the confidence of a lion and the peace of someone who needs nothing and has…everything. I watched as his phone rang and…the smile that lit up his face was one that I wished I could have placed there many many days without success.”

I grew uncomfortable and shifted in my seat with the empty glass in my hand and casting spectrums of light across my face as she continued her story.

“For once…I just couldn’t ignore what was so obvious. I told Yvette I had an emergency…and that I needed to be excused and would plan and pay for the next lunch…which of course she tried to argue and say that she didn’t mind, but there was no time for that. With my hands shaking and my nerves breaking sweats across my brow even in the cool winter air…I followed that man…so slowly, but not necessarily indiscreet. He just still never looked around…nor tried to notice if anyone could be following him, or be curious of the whereabouts his happiness was leading him to.”

I chuckled and tried to steer the conversation…lighten her mood.

“Trinity…I really have some work to do and would love to stick around and listen to the details of your entire day of stalking or observing or whatever it is that you do…but-“

I began to rise from my reclining chair.

“I’m almost done. I’m sure you can find at least two more minutes to listen to me.”

She slowly pulled out the pearl handled pistol that I’d gotten her two birthdays ago and I instantly froze in place. Sweat forming across my forehead and trickling through the deodorant beneath my arms, then the long sleeves of my shirt…soaking my armpits in nervous perspiration.

“Um…Trinity look-“

“Sit the fuck down.” She stated through gritted teeth and an expression that made me feel like I was already dead.

I slowly eased back into the chair as she waved the pistol around and looked into the air dramatically.

“Where was I before being rudely interrupted?…Oh yeah…so I followed him down 5th Street just as he began to whistle a familiar song of comfort and prosperity. Then I continued to follow as he strolled into the lobby of a nearby hotel…a pretty nice one too…familiar with the staff as if he frequented there quite often. Pulling cash from his wallet, because of course he wouldn’t be stupid enough to have it on his credit card statements. He seemed like a smart man…too smart for his own good…but not smart enough…not this day.”

My breathing grew harsh and I exhaled. I continue to listen and try not to move an inch.

“I watch him through the window as he grabs his room key from the front desk with a smile and a nod….adjourning to the room they assigned. Never displaying a feeling of guilt or contemplation…just anxiousness…happiness…and excitement. So I start to ease behind him as he gets on the elevator, staying a few people behind, and I take a look at which floor he chooses without stepping on the elevator just yet. I just stare around at the beautiful arrangements of flowers…beautiful architecture of the high ceilings and wonder how someone could commit to something so ugly in a gorgeous place like this. And when I make it to the sixteenth floor on the next elevator…I contemplate whether the woman’s beauty was is as significant as this hotel….does her confidence match his…is she as cultured as the art surrounding me…more interesting maybe.”

My fingers tap against the glass in my hand, sweating profusely and moist with irritation.

“I wait…just to see what she’s like…and as I stood around a corner to get the perfect view of who would walk into Room 1609. I anxiously wait to hear the click of expensive stilettos lead to the door…maybe in a trench coat…a sexy dress…something I’d never wear just for the infinite…pleasure of this man because I just don’t know…what it could be…or what it couldn’t. But…”

She began to sob as she continued, but spoke between heavy breaths while clutching the pistol…slowly breaking down as the story came to an end.

“But imagine my surprise when…it’s not the click of heels that I had the pleasure of hearing. It’s not the hem of a dress swaying across long and beautifully waxed legs, nor was it long hair swaying around beautiful and pouty lips. Nope…instead it’s broad shoulders draped in a nice coat…a tailored suit with Stacy Adams to match…softy moving across the floor. Large sized hands…manicured and soft like a woman’s, but a neatly trimmed goatee. THAT is what confidently steps into Room 1609. THAT is what I had to watch stroll up to the door in indescribable horror as the same card you received is slowly inserted into the door and closed behind…him.

Her shoulders are shaking with pain and regret as I bring my large fist to my lips and stare out of the windows of our home, silently unable to breathe.

“Today…I had to recognize the familiar face of your best friend, Bill. I had to watch him bring that smile…that goofy ass grin that you once shared with me to my man’s face…the one that I’ve been trying to achieve again for years now…years. And then…I had to be angry enough to walk to the door just so I could confront him…only to be turned away with a stomach full of knots and expensive ass Moscato with garden salad bubbling to the surface of my throat once I heard the sounds. You didn’t even begin a conversation and went straight into it…in less than two minutes… it was like an itching and an ailing to have finally seen each other…to touch each other…So, it’s not the first time…nor the second…but it’s certainly the last.”

Her voice trailed off as she stared across the room, her eyes bloodshot red and fixated on a wall but not really focused on anything in particular.

“Trinity…I can-“

In one instant…the sound of a long BANG filled my ears and sharp pain shot through my chest where I sat. She stood over me with a face full of stone and the pistol pointed directly at me, smoke slowly curtailing in small puffs from the barrel. I could slowly feel my life fading, blood gurgling from my lips through the struggle of hanging on to a life I was ashamed of. She waltzed right over in silence and watched me desperately gasp for air, no care or show of emotion…except fury. I could see the devil in her eyes staring at me right through her…before he came for my soul and took me with him.

Trinity slowly walked away and grabbed her cell phone with the calm of someone that had been finally set free.

“Hey Yvette, yeah it’s finally done. Yours too? Ok…I’ll be over there to help you in a minute…then we’ll just circle back here to clean up this mess later… yep…and oh yeah…lunch is on me tomorrow.

“Clock Tower” By Robin Chappell

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When the shiny brand new clock appeared in our small town, they were proud.

Seeking the chance to watch it be assembled piece by piece and sound by sound.

Who questions the essence of a clock tower when it’s purpose is so obvious?

No one, but me, felt as though this clock was something so unnecessarily ominous?

It loomed above us all, reaching out its steely hands in taunting and controlled aggression

Did nobody realize it was controlling our time? Our lives?…Our indiscretions?…

Each time the gong of the bell sounded every hour, they gave it praise and scattered

Descending upon it an unrelenting power that left their moments shattered

How could they not see this clock tower provides no purpose of good?

Thinning the face and the morals of doing what our people should and usually would

How could they not fear its face peering down above us in horrid judgement?

Counting the adulterers, liars, and swindlers, politicians and solicitors needing repent

When the clock strikes you, you naturally do what’s in your nature readily

Reflecting on the pros and cons of it all, but never too heavily

So here I am trying to convince them. Who am I to convince them not?

The truths and horrors of why the lawyers and the mayor really wanted that damned clock

It looms above us in judgement, it knows every sin that we do

The clock is the one who told me. Who am I not to tell you?…

“Back in ’88” By Robin Chappell

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When we said that we’d come here, I didn’t think that she was really serious, but here we were standing five blocks down the street just to prove something to ourselves. Well, honestly for me to prove myself more than anything.

“Well, are you just going to stand there or are we really doing this?” Shannon chuckled at the hesitant look on my chubby perspiring face and looked as if she was already prepared to joke about me not being as brave as she was.

I took in a deep breath and didn’t say another word to her, boldly stepping forward into the darkness like I was Rambo and fully prepared for whatever came my way.

“You better be quick.” She urged playfully.

The things that we do to impress girls are the worst, but we were here now and there was no turning back. I stared up in awe at the Vincent family mansion, counting at least four floors. The pillars in the front hovered over our figures like they were the guards of this place. Darkness could be seen in the windows and it already felt like eyes were on us. They say no one even makes it to the third floor and that if you get to the second you’re practically insane by then.

My hands were sweating and I could hear my own breathing as I watched the puffs of smoke from the cold curtail from my dark shivering lips.

“You know Greg, this might not be for you. You already look like you’re having a heart attack.” Shannon giggled and continued to poke fun at me.

“I am fine, woman! This is…I can do this. No one’s scared. How can you be scared of a myth?” I shrugged my shoulders. “There’s not even any proof of the things they say about this place.” I didn’t sound very convincing and my voice had even gone up an octave.

Shannon stood there with her arms folded and a smirk on her face. She already knew what the case really was. How I was trying to convince myself that I was perfectly calm and would show her just what I meant.

She outstretched her slender arm, which was cloaked in a knitted fall sweater sewn with the color of bright fall leaves on a windy day. I stared into her beautiful face…it was the color of brand new shiny pennies my grandmother rolled in papers. I would take them apart when I was little and knew I’d be in trouble but I just had to touch one of those pennies and what I thought was the most beautiful color I’d ever seen…now here it was in front of me at the age of sixteen with curls around its face and a caramel apple sucker in its mouth. Close enough to touch and close enough to-

“GREG??!! Are you ok? I thought you were about to lead the way?”

She interrupted my thoughts with a pretty frown on her face. Her full lips in a pout. Eyeing me impatiently like I needed to come back down to earth while I took in the four interestingly placed beauty marks scattered across her skin.

I totally zoned out again.

That happens quite often around her, but I had to be in the moment. She could have been anywhere else…but here she was in the middle of the night…attempting to explore a historically haunted mansion with me. I huffed out my chest, put my right sneaker forward and ventured up the steps to the porch like I was ready for anything.

She scoffed but followed intently on the back of my heels.

Once we made it to the steps, we’d already jumped out of our skin just from the mere feel of spider webs on our faces and small field rats that were scurrying from beneath the leaves gathered around the large wrap around porch in the front of the house.

I took a deep breath and stepped forward towards the large door that seemed to leer at me for having the audacity to place myself in front of it. I shuddered.

I think they say you have to knock first.” She whispered from behind my solid frame.

Her voice sent tiny tingles down my spine.

And who the hell is supposed to answer?” I whispered back through gritted teeth. My chest began to tighten and I found myself still shaking my head and lifting my hand to knock three times in a row just to get this over with.

We both waited as if we knew someone was home and listened to the cold silence. The hairs on the back of my neck began to rise and I thought I could feel someone standing near…piercing our presence in the dark. Suddenly, I felt a strong breath down my neck and something squeezed my sides in one quick movement.

“BOO!!” Shannon shouted into my ear and nearly made me crawl back down the steps and into the front yard where we stood just moments ago contemplating this entire stupid thing.

She giggled and pointed at me hunched over on the lawn and attempting to catch my breath from being startled.

“The look…” She could hardly breathe from laughing so hard. “On your face!! OH MY GOD!” She squealed with laughter. Every muscle in her face could be seen from the kick she was getting out of it.

It wasn’t that damn funny.

I won’t lie I was a little pissed she got one over on me that quick.

“Alright, alright, it wasn’t that funny.” I finally stood up and regained my composure, dusting the dead leaves from my solid black N.W.A. hoodie.

I could still peep her little attitude with her arms folded in the dimness of the dark, the moonlight being our only guide. Her teased and curly hair cascaded around her face perfectly.

“Well obviously you were afraid the whole time and wouldn’t admit it anyway, Watson.” She stated with a neck and eye roll now that she’d called my bluff. She only playfully used my last name when she was trying to get a point across or trying to irritate me because she always said it with an English accent like she was Sherlock Holmes.

I shook my head. “Nothing is in there anyway. Your face is the scariest thing out here I guess.” I teased with a smirk.

Knowing damn well her face was PERFECT

Her mouth instantly dropped and she put her hand up, preparing to lay it on me heavy.

“Boy, shut up! I will-”

Just as she was about really get into her whole spill the door behind her froze her words…

The door swung open from the inside…slowly…and loudly creaking open, as if someone finally decided to answer my knocks.

Shannon froze in horror and the copper color in her face that looked like the pretty new pennies I loved so much suddenly turned the pale color of coffee with too much cream.

My mouth hung open in surprise and I saw a dark and extremely large figure silently standing in the doorway. The silence seemed to last for nearly minutes, when in reality it was only less than ten seconds of silence before a gigantic hand grabbed Shannon by her arm and violently tugged. I screamed when I spotted long dirty nails wrapped around her beautiful sweater….clawing at her and forcing her inside of the entrance.

…for five seconds Shannon screamed at the top of her lungs

…another long five seconds of her being dragged inside

Then merely three seconds for her to be forcefully pulled inside…

Five long trails where her nails desperately clung to the old wood of that porch

Chipping the shiny lavender color that adorned each finger…

Leaving their vibrant remains behind

“GREEEEEEEEEEEEEGGGGGG!!! HELP ME!!! HELP ME PLEASE!! GREEEEEEG!!!!

That was what really hit me in the softest part of my gut…

Finally in one tiny second, the door slammed and there was silence.

Just like that she was gone and I still stood there in that yard…stuck in the silence of not even hearing her shrill cries any longer after just seven seconds…only crickets.

She called out to me…and I did nothing about it because I didn’t even know who…or what exactly took her. I was so lost on what to do and whether I should even go inside or run and find help.

Oh shit…oh shit….oh shit…

Go in there after her man!

I’m not trying to die either.

I don’t even have a damn weapon! SMART!

Call the cops!

Before I knew it, my big ass feet made the decision for me and I raced home. I didn’t look back and I didn’t stop until I made it inside and rushed to a telephone.

I frantically told the police what I saw but that I never really got a good look at whomever pulled her inside of the house. So all that I could say that she was…taken. My hands were shaking and my dark skin was clammy as I went over every thought in my head. How we should have never gone in the first place and the worst thought I didn’t want to think….

is she DEAD?

My head was spinning in circles and I didn’t want to call my mother yet in all of the commotion. The only reason I was out in the first place was because I knew her job would have her working throughout the night and I planned to return before she even knew I ventured into something this dumb. And Shannon’s parents were barely ever home, it had been that way since childhood and it was practically like her grandmother raised her. See how that works out? The saying goes for everyone…

DO NOT GO INSIDE THE VINCENT FAMILY MANSION

There were stories…several stories about disappearances that obviously never scared us enough because we still decided to test our bravery. And that’s just the thing, I don’t know what happened.

Monday morning, I climbed out of bed feeling like a brick hit me in the face. I hadn’t slept a wink and out of everything that happened and Shannon still missing, my mother made me get up and prepare to go to school…to face everyone and everything like a man.

I dragged my body down the steps and to the kitchen table. My mother poured her coffee, shoulders tense and a tiredness in her eyes I knew coffee could never take away.

“Don’t look at me like that Greg. Nobody and I mean nobody told you to take ya ass down to that house.” She shook her head and sighed with a blueberry muffin in her hand.

I hung my head so low that I wished I could become a blob and sink into the kitchen floor.

She walked over to me and gently kissed the top of my head.

“That house has always been bad news baby, we can only pray that they find Shannon. The house is very old and she could have fallen through foundation or anything to where they have to search everywhere.”

“I haven’t even seen the police out here…searching for her…or even at the house trying to find her. Do you know…they can’t even get in touch with her parents because they’re in freaking Europe??!! EUROPE!? There’s nothing on the news! I mean what are they really doing??”

I slammed my fist on the table and broke down, finally releasing everything I’d held in the past 48 hours. The remainder of the weekend since Friday night’s tragedy was the longest I ever lived through and my dreams haunted me with the pure terror in her face each time I attempted to close my eyes and rest. I was exhausted and confused.

I felt nothing like a man. I sulked and slowly walked down the street to school, clutching my royal blue backpack. I didn’t go to school, and no matter how many times something in my conscience urged me to go back to that house to get her, just to see whether or not she was still inside, I instantly change my mind and told myself to allow the police to handle it. I wasn’t sure what their plan was at this point and everyone was being so nonchalant about it.

Even my mom…

she could be stuck inside of the foundation?

“it’s an old home?

No!! Nobody understood exactly what I saw. For the rest of my life, the vision of that hand and those dirty fingernails pulling her away from me would never exit the deepest folds of my mind.

“What’ll it be, love?”

I jerked my head towards a middle aged waitress with a name tag that said “Gloria” standing in front of me, I suddenly realized I had zoned out while walking and made the decision to venture into Fred’s Diner, practically everyone in town’s local eatery and “watering hole” where all of the town gossip could be heard. It was a comfortable safe space for me and I had nowhere else to go.

I sat alone in a corner and only the addition of an older man sat on the other side sipping a cup of coffee and writing inside of a notebook in deep concentration.

It was only around 8:30 a.m. and I’d obviously never skipped school to see Fred’s Diner this empty on a Monday morning.

“Uh…I’ll just take a sweet tea actually.”

My sweaty hands wrung together and I kept my eyes on the door.

She gently smiled, placing her pen and notepad into her apron.

“Well I’ll just let that one be on the house sweetie. You look like you’ve had a long day already and it’s barely started. Make yourself comfortable.” She shook her head and made her way to the back.

My leg anxiously shook and I watched local patrons and work trucks pass by the window outside without a care in the world. Happy and at peace, they were going about their lives and daily routine. Honestly, it was beginning to piss me off and I slammed my fists on the table.

You know what? Fuck this!

I immediately jumped up from the table, slinging my backpack over my shoulder.

“That’s it. I’m going in.” I stated to myself and to the house as if it could hear me. “I’m coming for you!”

Gloria quickly stepped from the back with a smile on her face, then eyed me in confusion.

“What about your sweet tea sweetie? Where are you rushing off to?”

She questioned me through lazy chews of gum and watched me walk to the EXIT.

“Thanks, but I changed my mind. I have somewhere I need to be.” I stated it confidently and as soon as I reached for the door my heart stopped in my chest.

Shannon in all of her glory walked right through the door, radiantly smiling, beaming, and alive as if nothing ever happened.

“What-w-…wait…what the hell??” I nearly fell back into the booth like I’d seen a ghost. Scrambling backwards from her presence.

The darkness in my face had drained and I was pale with fear and disbelief to see her standing in front of me with that goofy ass grin.

“Shannon…what? where? Oh my God! I didn’t know…”

I nearly broke into a sob and exhaled the longest breath of relief I ever had. She smiled and stared at me with her head cocked to side.

Her face, skin, everything was here in front of me. She had her hair up, showing her slender neck and glowing with excitement.

“Awww come on Watson, I know it hasn’t been that long since I’ve seen you. Man up! But I’m happy to see you too.”

She teased me and playfully punched me in my arm.

Our gaze locked for several moments.

She reached up and lovingly caressed my face with her right hand. I melted into it’s warmth.

“Oh Greg…I missed you.”

“What the hell…what happened to you?” I had so many questions and she was standing there like she was perfectly fine. Her nails were even intact and had changed to a deep blue. Not really her style but I guess it suited her.

“Shannon?” I stared into her face and made eye contact like I would get it to somehow click in her head if she looked at me long enough.

“Last time that I saw you…was at…you know…the Vincent Mansion. You disappeared and-“

She stopped and stared at me in awe and smiled.

“Oh my God, Greg…you know who I am? You remember now?”

I twisted my face into a sarcastic frown.

“The hell are you talking about Shannon? I’ve known you since we were little. What is going on?”

“Oh wow! Dr. Haynes, come quick!”

The man that had been sitting in the chair writing and drinking his coffee rose from the chair and strolled over to me with interest; removing his glasses and wiping the lenses with a handkerchief from his pocket.

He examined my face and looked into my eyes like I was some type of experiment.

I gently pushed him away.

“Do you mind?” I squared up and backed away.

He stared down at the notebook he’d been writing in.

“Hmmm…something could have triggered his long term memory or engaged some type of cognitive behavior. I mean it’s been years and the brain has many ways of slowly repairing itself. Things we can’t explain.” His voice drifted off and he removed a bright flashlight from the lapel of his jacket, flashing it back and forth in my eyes in front of the diner counter.

“Hello, Gregory. How’s everything going. Do you know who I am? Do you know what day it is?”

My anger was about to boil over. I was confused about the way Shannon was behaving and where she’d come from and now there’s this guy!

“Man it’s Monday! Will you please back out of my space. Shannon who is this?”

I looked back and forth between the both of them. I even looked at Gloria for some answers and she just lowered her head.

They looked at me with saddened expressions like I’d said something that made no sense.

“Someone better start answering me.” I stated through gritted teeth.

Silence.

“Forget this! I have to go to the cops and tell them you’ve been found Shannon! We’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

I grabbed her arm and led her towards the door and next thing I knew there was a sharp prick in the side of my neck and the entire diner instantly fell away like a mirage.

The tables disappeared and turned white. The diner booths turned into the the hard clinical chairs with uncomfortable cold metal. Everything became white and I discovered I was inside of an entirely white room with limited windows…with bars and now I was wearing white.

Gloria stood near and no longer wore a waitress apron, but a stark white nurse uniform, holding the very needle that was just pushed into my neck.

The other guy in the diner had on a white doctor’s coat and the only one with any color on was Shannon, standing in front of me adorning a blue dress and a saddened expression on her face.

What is going on??

She slowly stepped forward.

“Greg…do you remember anything?”

I shook my head and just wanted to get my thoughts together. Whatever “nurse” Gloria gave me made me feeling light headed and I squeezed my eyes shut trying to seriously remember how the hell I got here.

“I remember…I remember looking for you. They were supposed to look for you but…no one was doing anything about it.”

The doctor stepped forward with interest and spoke up.

Where were you going to look for her Gregory?”

I don’t really like this guy saying my entire name like that.

“The last place that I saw her. That damn mansion!” I answered irritably.

I turned away from him and fully turned my attention to Shannon.

“The last place that I saw you…was at that house…something…someone had pulled…you-“

“US…into that house.” She cut me off and replaced the word like it was me that actually was pulled into the house.

“Wait-what? No…no…no…it was YOU. You have been missing for two days and I was looking for you.”

Shannon crouched down in front of me. Her face suddenly looked different. Older.

“Greg, you don’t remember anything?”

“I just told you everything that I remember and now ya’ll got me in here like I did something wrong!” I shouted and jumped up from the table.

Shannon rushed in front of me and took my face into her hands. The look in her eyes stopped me dead in my tracks. It was pity and empathy.

“Greg…I’m found. I’m not missing anymore and neither are you.” She stated slowly then continued. “But your mom is gone…that night when you returned home…without me…you stabbed her to death….”

I doubled over in more pain. Tears streamed from my face and I shook my head, whimpering like a baby.”

This is impossible

“You did come back for me…days later…but at first…you just left me.”

Her eyes narrowed and I sensed a little resentment in them, like she was reminiscing about that night. I squeezed my eyes shut when I saw the disappointment flash in her face.

“You didn’t really look for me the way you’re saying until days later. I was never the same after…but obviously…neither were you. We never should have gone in that house.”

She rose to her feet and looked down on me in sadness.

“The house didn’t seem to like what you did very much…I was released, but you…you’ll never be free.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

I never even got a chance to get back to the house, when did I even go back?

“Wait, how could I-“

“Greg, look, it’s not even 1988 anymore, it’s 2020. And you’re not sixteen anymore, you’re 32. I’ve been visiting you this entire time…every week…up here at Pine Meadows Psychiatric Hospital. Today is the first day you’ve been this calm.

Hospital??

She showed me some thin black box she removed from her pocket with a glowing screen on it that displayed the time and date once she pressed a button on the side.

What the hell is that??

My body shook and my eyes shifted between them all. I backed away into a corner, whatever they gave me in that needle must have done this!

Shannon eased into my face with an expression of stone and we made direct eye contact.

“You better be quick.”

As soon as she said those words, just as quickly as I blinked, I was no longer in the room with them, but right back in that front of that house…in the yard, hoodie and all with Shannon standing in front of me, smirking once again in that same autumn colored sweater…head back in laughter at the fearful expression etched across my face…

My breathing intensified and I slowly backed away, darting from the scene once again only for it to bring me back each time in a never ending cycle of punishment and a merry-go-round of insanity…

“13B”

By Robin Chappell

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

“I’VE HAD IT!” I stated in bottled frustration through gritted teeth.

Flinging open my door I eyed the dark footsteps pacing the floor heavily

They were two shadows of anxiety moving left and right…reflectively and quietly

I’d been here for nearly two weeks and already had it out for whomever occupied 13B

I decided to give them unsettling pieces of my mind about the noise I constantly endured

Their loud jazz music, obvious shuffling, their sad ass weeping, plus more!

It was like an insane asylum across the hallway full of parties that I’d abhor

I pounded their door on a mission not caring if anyone within earshot listened

KNOCK…

KNOCK…

KNOCK

My anger boiled over like water. The perspiration on my forehead glistened

I continued to knock and knock some more.

KnockKnock…knock…knock

KNOCK…

KNOCK…

Knock….

A series of strong knocks matched mine on the other side of the door

The nerve of this bastard!! My knocks turned into heavy kicks at full force

Until my cultivating rage brought forth the burly property landlord

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!! Trying to wake the dead?”

She stood her ground, appearance looking as if she had just rolled out of bed

Large crossed arms with dark small hairs followed her confused and drowsy stare

“I’ve had it up to here!” Raising my large hand above my head.

With their unnecessary noise during my relaxing evenings!” I now calmly said

Realizing they’d yet to open the door I pounded my large fists once again

Two times. Five times. Eight times and then ten

She stared at me as if something was extremely amusing.

“Lloyd, I’m going to ask again…what the hell are you doing?

I’m not too sure what sounds that you hear…but no one’s lived in that unit for fifteen years.”

Stepping back slowly and releasing a gasp osurprise I could no longer contain

I abruptly stopped and looked at her as if she were insane

Once I averted my attention back to examining my neighbor’s door

It no longer had light flooding from beneath

The pacing footsteps I could no longer see

The door’s rotted wood and paint decomposed before my eyes

You would have sworn I was a ghost once my skin turned pale and white

CAUTION tape blocked it’s entrance displaying the tenant’s only remnants

With a shake of her head and a wave of her hand the landlord walked away

Fuzzy blue house shoes slapping the black bottoms of her feet incessantly

Leaving me standing there planted in confusion…literally sick from shock and sorrow

“To answer your question…THAT IS why people don’t stay in that unit for too one long

I’ll have your deposit ready when you turn in your keys tomorrow.”