Red Sky, Ghost Cries

Originally published August 18, 2017

I glance out the window at the red sky. It’s just the way the setting sun hits the cumulonimbus clouds, I tell myself. But when a sudden clap of thunder rattles the legs of my bed against the hardwood floor, I wait for it to rain blood.

Befitting for the time we live in. A live-action horror film. When cars speed through crowds and crush the skulls of babies, when antebellum monuments are brought down upon the heads of their worshipers.

I plug in my ear buds and play a track from my deceased father’s rock band. Lately I’ve had the desire to listen to his ghost. Sing to me about the power of love overcoming political corruption, separation by race, pointless fighting in streets. When the world will know peace.

I raise the volume over the thunder, nearly deaf after three replays. When the song ends, I turn everything off. The house is silent; the storm has passed. I hide under the covers, knowing I’m alone. But my bedroom door is slightly ajar, and after lying still for over an hour, unable to fall asleep, I hear a light tapping on the other side.

Now I know the dead have done more than turn over in their graves. Our callousness has brought them back, absorbing energy from the uncanny storm to manifest.

I only pray this one sings to me.

It’s been a minute

“It’s been a minute,” he starts after we’ve sat in silence in this busy cafe for nearly half an hour.

“It’s been two.” I pretend to wince at the coffee I sip from my mug. It’s long past scalding—not even lukewarm—but if that corny line wasn’t clear enough, the coffee solidifies it. I shouldn’t be here.

“How’ve you been?”

Well, I’d like to say I’ve been thriving since the divorce, but the truth is our daughter hates me and blames me for all her problems, I’m about to lose the house, and I haven’t been to work since Tuesday after rage emailing my micromanaging bitch boss, Sarah.

“Fine.”

“Mya says—”

“Mya doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“Helen.”

“Rick”

“Look.” He swallows hard, juts his jaw, and makes a chewing motion, though his scone sits untouched on the saucer in front of him. “I know what I did—”

“Just like a man.”

The shift in his demeanor is immediate. I’ve struck a nerve. “What does that mean?” he says, a little more bass in his voice now.

“To assume that you’re the reason. That it revolves around you. No matter what happens to me, good or bad, it’s all because I once loved you.”

“I never said that.”

“You didn’t have to.”

The idle chatter around us invades our atmosphere again. Despite what he might think, I have no desire to sit and stare at him in silence for another thirty minutes. I reach across that table and snatch up the blueberry scone, ignoring his protests as I shove as much as I can into my mouth in one giant bite without gagging. He curls his upper lip in disgust, which amuses me given that the last time I saw him he was balls deep in another woman’s mouth still wearing the tux from our anniversary dinner.

“I know you need money.”

“I told you I’m fine.”

“That’s not what Mya says.”

“Why don’t you let your daughter stay with you since you two are so close.”

“You know we don’t have room with the baby.”

“No. I don’t know that.” Because no one tells me anything, like when the new Mrs. apparently stopped swallowing. Good for her, I guess. God only knows who the hell else his dick’s been in. I’d hate to taste that every night.

“I’m willing to cover the mortgage for you this month. But we agreed, you should have sole custody.”

“I wish Mya could see how great a father you are when she’s not around.”

I can feel his hot breath touch my bottom lip as he sighs heavily, and instantly I want to vomit.

“It’s impossible talking to you.”

I shoulder my purse. “The bank appreciates you finally paying a bill for the house you chose and then willingly left.” Who’da thought he’d downsize in more than just women. I slide the unfinished scone across the table. The saucer screeches to a stop just as the edge grazes his shirt. I stand and turn for the exit. I don’t bother looking back to see if he’s willing to swap saliva with me one last time, pandemic be damned. I don’t care.

I really don’t.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 25 | Temptation

I like to cook breakfast at New Year’s. It symbolizes the start of a new day. The breaking away from the nightmares that held me down in sleep.

The last two years have been a nightmare.

He invites himself in a quarter to midnight.

I have the sausage links resting on the stove. The pancake batter is mixed. The grits bubble and pop in the pot on the back burner. I scramble the eggs.

“So much food,” he says.

“I want to enter the new year full.”

“I know a better way,” he whispers seductively.

I taste the grits, add more salt, then throw the entire pot over my shoulder.

He howls and writhes on the floor in agony.

“Not this year, Satan.”


Happy New Year! Eat breakfast. Stomp on the devil (or that toxic ex). Start your New Year positive. I’ll see you soon!

Our final story comes courtesy of “The Howling Man.”

I really hope you enjoyed my Twilight Zone marathon! It’s truly been a pleasure to write. Please tell me which stories were your favorite. I have a few. And if you missed any, you can read them all right here!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 24 | I’ll Stop the World for You

“When was the last time you prayed?”

I hesitate. I don’t want to be judged for my real answer. But I also don’t want to lie in church.

“I never have time.” His frown immediately makes me regret it. But it’s true. I work eight to twelve hours a day. By the time I get home, I’m dead tired. I barely have enough energy to cook something. And once I’ve had dinner, it’s time for bed. Time to call it a night and do it all over again the next day.

“God says…”

Internally, I groan. I’m so sick of getting God’s word secondhand from “connected” people, even if it’s my pastor. For once, I’d like to hear God say it Himself.

“Daughter, I’ll stop the world for you.”

“What?”

“That’s what He says.”

“But, but why did you change your voice?”

He tilts his head. “I didn’t.”

“You said it like, like—” The best way I can describe it is like thunder. Like a loud, sudden crack of thunder that comes right after that dreadful stillness that follows a bright flash of lightning.

“God is speaking to you. Listen.”

“But what does it mean?”

“No one can understand the mysteries of God.”

I go home unsatisfied. On the drive, I see the world still moves. Cars zoom by. Trucks honk their horns. When I put my key in my apartment door, I hear my neighbors fighting next door.

How will He stop it? Disable all machines and put us back in the dark ages? Get rid of all the people? The thought of being alone with Him frightens me. I’m really not great company. I’m terribly depressed most days.

When will He stop it? I wonder as I climb into bed and hear the hum of the highway through the window. Maybe there’s something I must do first.

I kick my feet over, get on my knees and clasp my hands in front of me.

This is where I always start and stop. Because I never know what to say, or how to say it. The prayer warriors make it seem so effortless in intercessory prayer. They sit in the sanctuary and on command are babbling in tongues. I can’t even start my own prayer because I’m distracted by them. Is it a true prayer? Is it in a language the someone somewhere understands? Does God move their lips like that? Or are they just making noise to sound holy.

I have to remind myself, there’s no one here to distract me now. That’s when I notice something else is different. It’s quiet. So quiet I can hear my own heart beating in my hears. Then the boom of thunder.

I quickly bow my head. “Father?”


While the original Twilight Zone series covered an array of topics ranging from science fiction, politics, social justice, to the downright creepy, one thing you were almost always guaranteed to get at the end of each episode was a moral. Similar to those fables we used to read in childhood. As we close out this year, let’s take a pause and reflect on what’s most important for us and take that into 2022.

Oh, and this story is a mashup of “Time Enough at Last” (next to “Willoughby,” one of my all-time favorites), “The Mind and the Matter,” and “A Kind of Stopwatch,” but it’s also something totally different and new.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 23 | One of Us Is an Alien

I’ve lived through 2020 and most of 2021—only hours left to go. I’ve seen it all. A global pandemic. Global apathy. The rise of the antichrist. The world stood still. Murder fucking hornets.

But I gotta admit, this one surprised me. Two disks reminiscent of the Seattle Space Needle, glowing brighter than the sun, light up the sky just before dawn.

Shortly after, the cops show.

“Mornin’, officers!” I wave them inside. “I’m assuming you’re not here for a room.”

“We’ve got reports of flying saucers. Did you happen to see?”

“Oh, couldn’t miss it! I was standing on my balcony. Flew right over my head!” I take a sip of my coffee. “Crazy things happening. Can’t help but wonder if this is the end.” The sizzle and pop of bacon comes from the kitchen. “Can I offer you gentlemen something? Guests will be coming down soon.”

“That’s actually what we’re here for. One of your guests.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“You see, those flying saucers landed right behind your little Bed and Breakfast here.”

“I didn’t—”

“And someone got out.”

“Well, I’ll be.” I gulp. “You mean to tell me one of my guests is an alien!”

Just then a stampede of feet descends the stairs. I do a roll call in my head. 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66. Six rooms in total—we have a thing for double numbers. The Mrs. says they’re lucky. I’ll hold my breath for 2022.

The occupants of each room offer bland greetings as they walk by on their way to the dining room. I scan each of their faces, all I recognize.

“Well?” one of the officers says.

“You sure you got the right Bed and Breakfast?”

The other, who seems to have a permanent grimace, says, “We really don’t know what we’re looking for.”

“A six-foot walking fly, I imagine. Ain’t that what aliens look like?” I guide them to the door, offer them a bite for the road so they don’t feel like the trip out here on New Year’s Eve was a total waste.

“If I see anything, I know who to call!”

When they’re gone, my wife peaks around the corner from the kitchen. “That was close!”

I nod and exhale. Then I ask, “Who did you bring in the other saucer?”


Inspired by the episode “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” That’s just what we need, right? An alien invasion. Though, zombie apocalypse seems more likely…

Two more stories left to go!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 22 | Fortune Cookie

I hate Chinese food. It gives me the runs. I only order it for the fortune cookies. Every good decision I’ve ever made has come from these all-knowing crescents of fried dough.

It’s only fitting that I take Monica to Golden Dragon Restaurant for our first meal together as man and wife.

I tear into my cookie first as my bride pushes rice across the plate with her fork.

“You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual,” I read.

“I wonder what that is,” she says nonchalantly with all the food in her mouth stuffed in one cheek.

“Don’t you know, beautiful?” I pull her chin for a kiss, and she burbs into my mouth.

“Excuse me,” she mumbles.

“You could fart and I wouldn’t care.”

She rolls her eyes. “Please.”

“Here.” I take the second cookie from the napkin holder. “Open yours.”

“Isn’t it tradition to finish your meal before your read your fortune?”

I look down at the plate of food she’s been picking at for the last 30 minutes. The food is most likely cold now.

“I think we’re both done.” I make a mental note of one more thing we have in common.

She huffs and takes the packet, opens it slowly as I squirm in anticipation. She crumbles the cookie in her fist and pulls the ribbon of paper from the rubble.

“There’s still time to change your mind.”

I scratch my beard. “Hmm, that’s a new one.” I take the paper from between her two hands, which stay in place, as if someone has hit a pause button.

I flip the paper over for the lucky numbers on the back. “3, 2, 1.” A countdown.

I look up, and Monica is on her feet.

“Where are you going?”

She shoulders her purse. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”

“Do what?”

She only shakes her head and rushes out of the door.

In the napkin holder I see another cookie that wasn’t there before. My mind begs me to go after her, but my hand reaches for the cookie.

“A clingy lover drives a wedge.”

I remain in the booth and write the lesson down on the back of a napkin, along with its lucky number: 0.


3-2-1. Only three hours left, and three stories left to go. This one came in the “Nick of Time.”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 21 | A Mile in Her Shoes

It was no secret my mom was walking the streets when I was little. One of five men could have been my father. But the man who raised me was my uncle. And he held firm to the belief that it wasn’t her, but her clothes that led her astray.

Despite this conviction, he kept all her things when she passed.

“Whenever you’re ready,” he said after the funeral. “They’re in the attic. But be careful. Remember what I told you.”

“Because if I dress like her, I’ll be asking for it, too?” I said sarcastically.

“You joke about it now…”

It took me another five years before I made it up to that attic. Although I tease, I’m not exactly proud to be the daughter of a whore.

In the first box I open, I find a pair of hot pink go-go boots.

“Yep, if this doesn’t scream 70s street walker.”

I try them on, and they’re a perfect fit, but as soon as I stand, I drop through the floor, floating in midair underneath my own body.

“Thanks, doll,” I hear myself say, but it isn’t my voice. She speaks through the nose. She bends over, arching her back, and retrieves the matching tube dress from the box.

“Good god,” I mouth, but no sound escapes.

She puckers her lips and with an index finger, lightly paints them with compact balm, also pink. I cringe at the tackiness of it all. She’s a hot mess of pink cotton candy. And she’s me.

“Now,” I say, “let’s see what the men of this decade have to offer.”

She marches out, in possession of my body, while I stay in place, underneath the floorboards.


Dead Man’s Shoes,” dead woman’s go-go boots. Best to keep these locked up, lest you end up in Jordan Peele’s sunken place. You never know who you might let out…

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 20 | A Devil in the House

Everyone knows the piano is haunted. So we don’t play it. It sits as decoration in our living room, where no one gathers.

“Maybe it’s time to sell it,” my husband suggests.

“It’s a family heirloom.”

“Didn’t it drive your dad insane?”

That’s what everyone says. A hunt for the devil, they called it. Truth is they never found him. They let my dad die believing he would grow horns and a tail with a spade-shaped end. But there wasn’t an evil bone in his body. True, he was a heckler, he teased my mom and me, until finally she got the last laugh. But deep down, my dad was a coward. And the devil…

I open the music book and thumb through the pages.

“What are you doing?”

“If we’re going to sell it, maybe one final play?”

“But what about it being haunted?” He shifts his weight from one foot to the other.

“Nervous?” I insert a new roll of sheet music into the piano. As the chords of Mozart’s “Confutatis” play, I watch my husband’s neck roll, his ears narrow to a point, and his face flush red.


From “A Piano in the House” to a devil in the house. Be careful who you invite in. Warnings from the Twilight Zone!

And so we begin the final countdown, the last five hours of 2021, and we are not bringing the devil with us into the New Year.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 19 | Mr. Right

It’s 3AM when I finish my character profile for Mr. Right. I’m terribly tired, can barely keep my eyes open. I’m three weeks behind, and my publisher’s already sent several emails about the status of the manuscript. I’m afraid to tell them I’ve barely got an outline formed.

The motivation just isn’t there. Once you’ve done one romance novel, you’ve written them all. Not much room for diversity in the plot, so the focus must be shifted to the characters.

Instead of tall, dark, and handsome, I write my Mr. Right as brown and exotic. He speaks with an accent whose origin you can’t quite identify. He has eyes the shape of Medjool dates and loosely curled hair the falls over his face. He’s not tall, but just tall enough to press his chin against his beloved’s forehead as he holds her and sways to the music he hums. And to kiss him, she must forage through the foliage of his beard to find his lips.

That is where I will pick up, after my nap. Just a quick one, three or four hours. I’ll start again with the sun—after, I hope, a story comes to me in a dream.

Instead arrives a mystery, because when the sun breaks through the blinds of my window and I roll over for an extra hour’s snooze, lying next to me in my bed is Mr. Right, staring at me with those intense deep brown eyes.

“No more procrastinating, dear.” His beard lifts to indicate a smile, though I can’t see his lips.

I try to scream, but he quickly covers my mouth. “Please, meri jaan. Not again.”

I slap his hand away. “You have five seconds to get out of my house, or I’m calling the cops.”

“Do you really not recognize me?”

“No!” Because that would mean admitting he’s a figment of my imagination. A manifestation of my broken mind, brought on by the unyielding symptoms of imposter syndrome, a diet of coffee and sugar, and a lack of sleep.

“You do this every time. You write me. And then you erase me. For once let me be permanent in your life.”

“You’re crazy!” I say. I dial 9-1-1 and lock myself in the bathroom.

When the police arrive, I point to my intruder. “I don’t know how he broke in. He won’t leave. Arrest him!”

They exchange looks at the door. Then one side-steps me and approaches him. “Everything alright here?”

“You’re asking the criminal!”

“I’m sorry, officers. She’s having another one of her episodes.”

Episodes! I could haul off and slap him if it didn’t mean I’d be put in handcuffs in my own house. First he breaks in. Then he makes me think I’m losing my mind. Now he’s stealing my agency! Oh, if he was afraid I would delete him before, just wait!

Even saying that sounds preposterous.

He comes up behind me, puts his arms around my shoulders, plants his chin on the crown of my head, and rocks me back and forth.

“Stop it.”

“Easy.” He nods to the officers for them to leave.

“Y’all try to have a nice day.”

“Wait! You’re not going to arrest him!”

“Shhh,” he coos. “Dekho. Look at the fireplace. Let it calm you.”

He turns my body, but instead my eyes are drawn to the mantel and the giant framed portrait that is atop it. The two of us, adorned in Eastern wedding attire—I’m in a red veil, gold bangles on my wrists, henna on my hands and feet. He holds me as he does his beloved in my profile.

“We’re…married?”

“Mmhmm. Now, do you really want to throw this away, hai na?”

I think I found my story.


Being an author is so cool! Look at what we bring to life! This story was brought to you by Twilight Zone episode “A World of His Own.”

The new year is quickly approaching! Only six more hours!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 18 | A Taste

“I want to eat you,” he says, then serves me fresh pineapples from his hand.

I part my lips, and legs, stick out my tongue, invite him for a taste.

“Patience,” he whispers, and plants a kiss, his mouth firm and moist. “All good things to those who wait.”

He invites me to his home. “Long drive ahead.”

 I remember his profile said, “In a galaxy far, far away.” We connected for our mutual love of Star Wars.

When I feel the car lift off the ground, I grab the door handle.

“Relax,” he purrs. “You will be a treat.”


Isn’t it obvious? This story was inspired by the fan-favorite, “To Serve Man.” And it’s our first 100-word story! I knew I would get there eventually. But I’m not tired. We still have seven more hours to go!