Tag Archives: death

Death of a Reader

I heard the scream at almost the same time I heard the crash. Joan, my next-door neighbor was unusually clumsy but I wasn’t surprised to hear my phone ring a moment later. I answered it, reluctantly.

“Get over here.” Joan’s voice was full of pain and panic. “There’s been a terrible accident.”

A moment later, I was in her apartment and we were both looking down at the recently deceased lying prone on the floor. Joan was sobbing.

“She had a good life,” I said. I bent and picked up the Kindle, which Joan had named Bethany. Its screen was cracked and a jagged circle like a bullet hole was bleeding out high-tech ink into the rest of the screen.

Joan buried her face in my shoulder and shook with a pathos that rivaled the ending of Old Yeller.

“You can get another one,” I said, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder.

“But it takes . . . two days to ship with . . . Amazon Prime,” she gasped between sobs.

Joan was a reader in the same way the sun was a tad warm. She told me once she usually read over 400 books a year. Looking around her living room, I saw only one bookshelf, mostly covered in knickknacks. Her whole library had been transferred years ago to the flatlining piece of tech in my hands.

“Maybe you can read on your phone until then.”

She wiped her eyes and looked at me morosely. “The screen’s too small. It hurts my eyes.”

“You could read on the computer,” I said. She wrinkled her nose with a look of such revulsion you would think that I had suggested pooping on the welcome mat.

I helped her order a new Kindle and offered to drive her to the library. Then I remembered that it was Sunday and it was closed. I didn’t really read myself and I didn’t think that inviting her up to play Fortnite would help much. I left her clutching a dictionary and rocking back and forth slowly.

Joan and I weren’t much more than acquaintances, but I felt I should check on her after supper, just to make sure she was okay. She didn’t answer her phone, so I went next door and knocked. There was no answer, but I saw that the lights were on. Finally, I tried the door. Thirty seconds later, I called 911.

“She was just lying on her couch, staring at the ceiling,” I told the doctor at the hospital. “Maybe I panicked.”

“No, it’s good you brought her in,” the doctor said, shining a light into her eyes. “Did she have any trauma or shocks recently?”

“She broke her Kindle today,” I said.

The doctor looked pensive and puckered his lips in a way I found disconcerting. “Let me run some tests,” he said.

He left me in the waiting room wishing, ironically, that I had something to read, but he was back in twenty minutes.

“It’s a rare condition called a bibliophilic comatose state,” he said. “It’s caused by a sudden lack of reading material. We’ll try to draw her out of it. We’ve got a medical grade e-reader set up, but we need to know what she usually reads.”

“History, I think?” I usually tuned Joan out if she started talking about what she was reading. “She likes British history. I think.” She had said something about British history, I remembered.

“Okay, we’ll start her out on a regimen of historical fiction. I’ll try twenty pages of Philippa Gregory and see how it goes.”

The doctor assumed that I wanted to see Joan, so he led the way back into the newly constructed Injuries of the Arts wing to her room. I looked through the window at her lying in bed, monitors strapped to her arms. Her eyes were open and an e-reader was set up in front of her. A little robotic finger flicked at the screen every ten seconds to flip the page, making a beeping noise as it did.

I woke up in a chair in the hallway of the hospital with a nurse leaning over me.

“I thought you’d want to know about your friend’s progress,” she said. “We’ve switched to Alison Weir. If that has no effect, we’ll have to try something harder, maybe even David Starkey.”

I didn’t know what that meant, but I left my number and went home to sleep. The next day as I was returning from work, I saw that Joan’s new Kindle had been delivered and was sitting outside her door with the usual lack of security that delivery companies reserved for expensive high-tech devices. I took it to the hospital to see if she was awake.

Joan seemed responsive when I got to her room. I knocked on the window and she looked my way. I pointed at the package and her face lit up with relief. I went into the room and gave it to her.

“Thanks,” she said, “and thank God it came so fast. I’ve been reading nothing but British history for the last day. I don’t know what idiot thought I liked that stuff.”

 


Carving at Hades’ Chains

FF198 J S Brand

copyright J.S. Brand

 

“It takes patience,” the lunatic had said. “A sledgehammer won’t work. Only beauty overcomes death.”

By the light of a bone-white moon, I felt my way to my mother’s grave, carrying a purloined hammer and chisel. I started carving swirls into the marble, then starbursts and graceful figures until I transformed that baleful guardian into revivifying craftsmanship. I prayed I would see her again—not some ghastly reanimation, but really her.

“There was a grave robbery,” my dad said at breakfast. “Someone destroyed a headstone. The body is missing.”

My soul leapt.

“It’s the one right next to your mother’s.”

 


Five, Maybe Six

Jeremy stared at the bread, horrorstruck. It was the fifth heart.

Maybe the sixth.

Last week, he’d gone to a fortuneteller and somehow a seven-of-hearts had gotten stuck in the tarot deck. The fortuneteller gamely forged ahead, declaring he would die after seeing seven hearts.

Now he’d seen five—maybe six: that cloud had either been a heart or a camel.

Jeremy finished making his sandwich and left for work. Stepping outside, he heard a screech of metal. He looked up just as the heart from a new erotic cake bakery sign bore down.

It wasn’t a camel, he thought.

 


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.”

 


Sapphire Eternity

FF155 Sandra Crook

Copyright Sandra Crook

The sea was calm and empty in the way a Twitter feed wasn’t.

Jake sat on the edge of the cliff, looking out into sapphire eternity.

He reached for his phone, realized he didn’t have it, realized that was the point.

What time was it?

The funeral was probably over.

They were probably furious with him.

How could he, of all people? they’d say.

He’d finally posted about her death, but couldn’t bear to change his relationship status.

He had to go back soon, he knew.

But for now he sat, letting it all drain out into that sapphire eternity.


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.


Signing off

copyright Connie Gayer

copyright Connie Gayer

 

The dark box lay in the hole, half covered by dirt. Soft weeping was the only sound to be heard.

“It was so sudden, right in the middle of the nightly news,” Jane said, wiping her eyes. “He got this blank look and there was no reviving him.”

“I remember the way his face glowed with life as we sat down to watch Jeopardy after supper,” Kane said. “Those were the days.”

Jane took a deep breath. “So, now what?”

Kane shrugged. “I guess we have to go shopping and buy another one. Let’s get a high-def one this time.”


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