Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 15 | A Very Bad Man

The kid was a fucking menace. Held an entire town hostage. Killing dogs and people—anything for thinking bad thoughts. Controlling what we watched, what we listened to. Forbidding us from singing. This is what happens when pacifists who don’t believe in spanking give birth.

I did what had to be done. Took that axe and shielded my mind—the way my late wife showed me just before she was wished into the cornfield—so that he couldn’t see me coming and ended it in a single clean stroke.

Little did I know that in that instant, things would go back to normal. That it wasn’t the rest of the world that had disappeared, but we who had been cut off, isolated in the bubble of his mind that was severed when I chopped off his head.

Unfortunately, I was the only one who retained any memory of the last six years. The others, who once cowered in fear of him, now looked at me in contempt.

“Child murder!” they called me.

“A cold-blooded killer.”

“A bad man. A very bad man!”

What I am is a monster slayer. I saved the world. And I’ll die in this electric chair with the acceptance that I’m the only one who knows.


I can’t be the only one thinking it while watching “It’s a Good Life,” right? In this continuation, our hero is able to rid the world of the little devil. Unfortunately for him, even when you think you’ve escaped the Twilight Zone, it never quite leaves you.

You might also note some similarities to the ending of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” in this story.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 14 | Thoughts and Prayers

After thoughts and prayers didn’t work, the state decreed the nonexistence of God. As proof, they declared terrorism no longer a threat. “For what god do you strap a bomb on your chest and take the lives of the innocent and able-bodied?” The Cross-bearing political zealots accepted this, not realizing their God too was rendered an anachronism, and they were swiftly liquidated for their attempts to merge church and state.

With the death of God went all morals. Mass shootings increased. Gun reform was abandoned. Immigration was outlawed, and anyone who couldn’t prove citizenship by birth or command of the English language was shipped to whatever shithole country their skin complexion or dialect most resembled. Public health was sacrificed for strategic business plans. It was decided that court hearings were a waste of time: if deemed of no use to the state, one was shot on the spot.

The faithful shifted underground. We prayed in silence, as God isn’t moved by babbling words. We committed the Word to memory, hid it on our hearts after the Bibles, Qurans, Torahs, and others were burned.

We became one body under one God, with one unified hope: salvation from this tyranny.

“These are signs of the end times,” the oldest and wisest of us speaks. “‘For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.'”

Outside the padlocked doors, the chants begin. “Obsolete! Obsolete!” The echo of marching boots growing louder. “Obsolete! Obsolete! Obsolete!”

“How did they find us?” one parishioner screams.

“Stand firm!” our orator shouts above the rain of bullets. “For we know our God is able to deliver us!”

We huddle in a circle and put the youngest and smallest in the center, shielding them with our bodies, and we pray.

We pray until the skies open and we feel nothing.


The Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man” presents to us a distant dystopian future that doesn’t feel quite so distant nowadays…

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 13 | Man of My Dreams

He brings me a single rose, the same deep red as my form-fitting dress with a slit that reaches the bottom hem of my panties.

“You look ravishing.”

He guides me by the hand to a table for two.

“What will you have?”

“Steak.”

“Rare, please,” he tells the waiter, returning the two menus.

He slides closer to me, drapes his arm over my shoulder. Nibbles on my neck as he pours the wine.

“I wish we could do this every night,” he whispers.

I stiffen as a feeling of déjà vu overcomes me. “What?”

“I said…” His voice drags in a deep drawl, as if in slow motion.

When I look at him again, his lips and nose and eyes all blend into a blank canvas. Everything around us melts away like layers of wet paint cascading down walls, and I am awake in a dark room, alone in my bed.

His words, “I wish we could do this every night,” taunt me.


Even the sweetest dreams, when recurring, can turn into nightmares when we find out they’re not real. This story was brought to you by Twilight Zone episode “Shadow Play.”

It’s noon, which means we’re half-way to the New Year! Let’s hope 2022 isn’t another recurring nightmare. If you missed any of the earlier episodes that came overnight, you can start here. The next few episodes will be micro fiction pieces while I recharge and refuel. Hey, I have been up all night!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 12 | Nicklaus

“They always assign the crazies to the newbies, huh?” the guard says.

“Crazies?” I ask as I sign into the visitor log. The case seemed to be your standard open and shut B&E. Nothing was taken, though, according to the police report. No one was hurt, apart from a scared shitless thirteen-year-old who had fallen asleep on the couch while watching TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon.

“Guy thinks he’s Santa Claus.”

“Well, it is that time of year.”

The buzzer rings, and the door to my right clicks open.

“You can go back.”

I walk down the end of the hall to the meeting room, where my client waits alone at a gray round table handcuffed to a hook in the center.

I’m immediately taken aback by how he looks. I’m not sure what I expected to see. Surely not a jolly old man with all white hair in a big red suit. But I don’t think I expected to see this guy either. He’s young and, well, hot. His skin is a deep tan, as if he spends his summers in Southern Italy when he’s not in the frigid North Pole. He has sandy brown hair and eyes the same color. His eyelashes are long and curl up as if he’s wearing mascara. His beard is trimmed short, and his lips are full and pink. He licks them right before he speaks.

“Hi there. You’re my lawyer?” His voice is deep and intimidating. I wonder how his “Ho, ho, ho” sounds. Thunderous, I imagine, it could shake this whole room.

I nod and sit across from him. “I’m Jenny.” I reach over and shake his hand. His grip is strong. “So, you’re supposed to be Santa?”

“Not quite what you expected, hmm?” He leans back and crosses he left leg over his right knee. “I’ve always been curious about how these myths start. For example, how does a morbidly obese old man who probably has a breathing problem squeeze down a smoky chimney?”

“Good question.” I click my pen and open my notepad to an empty page. “So why don’t you tell me how you got into the Wilkinson’s house.”

“Right to business, huh? Okay.” He clears his throat, uncrosses his leg, and sits straight. “I was invited in.”

“Invited.”

“That’s how I get into every house. As long as there is someone there who believes.”

“Is that your defense? The girl who called the cops on Santa Claus believes in Santa Claus?”

“Please, call me Nicklaus. Don’t know how ‘Saint’ became ‘Santa.’ It sounds like baby talk, doesn’t it?”

“I—”

“In any case, I’m no saint. Another common misconception. There was a Saint Nicholas. And he was a very charitable man, no doubt. But I was around long before him.”

I’m at a loss for words, but in an effort to turn the conversation back to the case before he tries to tell me he’s Jesus or something, I ask again, “Who invited you in?”

“She has a younger brother.”

I shuffle through my stack of papers. “The boy was sound asleep the whole time. You mean to tell me he got out of bed, opened the door to let you in, and then returned to bed, all without being noticed?”

He chuckles, “Of course not,” then taps the side of his head with his index finger. “In his dreams.”

“His dreams?”

“Yep, a Miles Morales Spiderman suit he was dreaming about, if I’m not mistaken. I was able to deliver it under the tree before they came and arrested me.”

“You’re serious?” The guard was right about the “crazies.” Even his good looks can’t save him. I straighten my papers and return them to the manilla folder and then into my briefcase as I get ready to leave, my visiting time almost over. I’ve stayed longer than I was supposed to anyway. The purpose of this meeting was simply to introduce myself and inform him we were pleading guilty. Like the guard said, the newbies get the crazies, and the crazies are always the easy cases. No need to waste taxpayer money on a lawyer who only passed the bar a month ago after six tries, were my boss’s words. Plead guilty, take the 90-day jail sentence and community service, move on to the next crazy.

“You stopped believing in me at a young age.”

I stop, mid stride to the door, and spin around to face him again. “What?”

“Single mom working double shifts as a waitress. Five other siblings in a two-bedroom apartment. You were forced to grow up quickly.”

“How did you—” I start, and then, almost defiantly, I slam my briefcase back down and lean over the table, beyond the center point and dangerously close enough for him to reach up and wrap the chain of his handcuffs around my neck and squeeze, if he were a violent criminal. The jury’s still out on that. Crazies tend to get physical when you don’t accept their absurd logic.

“It’s kind of hard to believe when Christmas has only every been what my mom’s wages could afford. And after bills, that wasn’t much.”

“Is that why you spend so many sleepless nights in the public defender’s office? The best years of your life wasted on this fruitless job?”

“It puts bacon on the table.”

“But does it keep your bed warm at night?”

“Listen old man,” I say, despite the fact that the only signs of age on him are a few strands of gray sprinkled in his beard. But you have to be close to him to see it, and I’m not really that close, although, I can feel his warm breath on my bottom lip. “If you’re trying to offer me your ‘services,’ my fee is covered already.”

“The service I want to give you is the Christmas you never had.”

“I’m a little past asking for toys, Santa.”

“Again, it’s Nicklaus. And what is your wish as an adult then?”

“Christmas is over.”

“Given that I’m the guy who invented it, I think I can decide when I can and can’t deliver presents.”

An army of church folk would beg to differ, but then the Christmas we celebrate today really isn’t all that Christ-centered either, so I play along.

“I’m sure you want to hear me say I want a husband who doesn’t disappoint. He’s fiercely loyal. Would do anything for me. Fulfills my every want and need. I would lack nothing because he’s a provider. His love is unconditional, and he supports me and my dreams, no matter how improbable. And we’ll have a couple kids, perfect little angels, and we’ll be one big happy family.”

“Sounds nice.”

“That’s not my wish.”

“Tell me.” He leans closer to me. “What do you want?”

His voice is barely above a whisper, almost seductive. Maybe that’s why I say, “To be naked on somebody’s beach.”

His eyes widen. “Oh, really?”

Not really, though it would be nice. What I really want is to be confident in my own skin. I don’t want to have to rely on what a job or a man can give me. I want to already have it myself. I want to make it. I want to live my own life, not what society has written out for me. I want to be independent. Free.

I feel myself lifting off the ground as I think about it, and when I look at him, he seems to be reading my mind. He smiles, and it feels as if every weight of the world has finally relinquished its pressure, but then the announcement that visitation is over echos from the speakers overhead, and everything comes crashing back down, and I backtrack and say, “I don’t know.”

Once again, I turn to leave, but he stops me with one word.

“Alright.”

“Alright?” I repeat.

“It’s done.”

“What’s done?”

He smirks. “You’ll see.”

When the door buzzer rings, I rush out, feeling flustered. I don’t make eye contact with the guard at the entrance as I exit. I don’t want him to think that the “crazy” has gotten to me, that even I’ve started to believe him. I’m supposed to meet with my boss back and the office to give a report, but the case is the furthest thing from my mind right now. I decide to go home for lunch instead. Maybe if I get something on my stomach, I can clear my head and get back to business before my boss starts to demand where I am.

When I walk through the front door, I can’t help but look at my pathetic attempt at a Christmas tree. It stands at only three feet tall, an artificial tree, and it hardly has any decorations, save for the ones I added last year and never bothered to put away, just like the tree, which has stood in that same corner between my patio door and the couch since last Christmas.

Santa, or, Nicklaus, or whatever his name is, was right. All those hours I spend at the office while my Christmas goes on unfulfilled. A whole year it stood and not a single present underneath—only, now I spot a red envelope caught in the branches.

“To: Jenny. From: N,” it reads.

“There’s no way,” I say, as I tear it open. Inside is a folded flyer that says “Fourteen-day all-inclusive stay at the Cap d’Agde resort on the French Mediterranean.” Could this be…

Before I can finish that thought, my phone rings. I fumble around in my briefcase for it and answer on the fifth ring.

“Jenny, where the hell are you?” It’s my boss.

“I uh—”

“Did you go see the Santa guy?”

“Yes. Actually, I just left.”

“What did you say to him?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean he’s gone. I just got the call.”

“That, that’s impossible!” I look down at my flyer, shaking in my hands.

“You need to get down here ASAP. We need to figure out what’s going on. And you may have to answer some questions since you were the last to see him.” He hangs up without getting a confirmation from me or even bothering to say bye. I stand frozen in the middle of my living room. My bewildered gaze shifting from my phone and its shocking news and my all-inclusive resort vacation, an apparent gift from Santa.

None of this can be real, can it?

Just then I hear what I can only describe as jingle bells jangling right outside my door. I swing it open, and there in my front yard is Nicklaus sitting in a reindeer-drawn sleigh.

I cautiously step toward him. “I must be dreaming.”

“I did say that’s when I appear.” His eyes lower to the envelope and flyer in my hand. “How do you like your gift?”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Well, I didn’t include plane tickets, so I figured you might need a ride.” He slides over, making room for me in the sleigh. “And maybe, if you were feeling generous, you could invite a tired old man who’s been hauling presents for good little boys and girls across the world all night, just spent the last twelve hours in jail, and could really use a vacation.”

“And what about Mrs. Claus?”

“Ah.” He turns ahead, leans back, and crosses one leg over the other as he did in the visitation room. “Also a myth. Contrary to popular belief, Santa Claus has been a bachelor for a very long time.”

“I thought you didn’t want to be called that.”

He shrugs. “It’s growing on me. So, are you coming?”

I stare at him, unsure of what my “yes” will mean. That my mind has finally cracked and this is all an elaborate hallucination? I don’t know, but as I drop my phone on the last step of my front porch and it splits in half, I wonder, what could possibly be worse?

He is grinning from ear to ear as I settle in next to him. He drapes his arm over my shoulder and pulls me even closer to him. I think for a second he’s going to kiss me. It seems weird, especially given that he’s apparently this ageless being who knew me as a child, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it if he made a move. Instead, he turns his head and takes the reins in both hands, preparing to mush the reindeer. I count only eight.

“Where’s Rudolph? Don’t tell me he’s a myth too.”

This time, he does kiss me, but it’s only on my ear, and really, it’s just a whisper for me to look up, his lips enunciating the words. Then he breaks away. “Clear skies,” he says. “Rudolph and his bright red nose had the night off.” And with that, he whips the reins.

“On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen…”


This hour’s story was inspired by the Twilight Zone episode “The Night of the Meek,” but you may notice some similarities with a certain Living Single episode too. Can you guess which one?

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 11 | Children’s Island

The storm and our mother shared the same name and were equally as cruel. When the mayor announced mandatory evacuations, she abandoned us to a leaky roof and an unstable foundation.

Upon hearing the tornado sirens, we tied bedsheets around our waists like rope. If the wind was to carry us away, at least we’d be together.

The roof blew off, and the funnel cloud swept us into the sky. I was sure we would die, but Johnny, who I called Little One, said the cloud was a bubble. It protected us from the hail and the rain. From flying debris in the midst of the storm.

And it would protect us from Mama’s fists too.

I don’t know when I fell asleep, but when I came to, we were on the ground again, lying on a sandy beach as waves pushed against us. Little One pointed to a gang of children running toward us, waving vigorously.

“Howdy! I’m Sudie! Welcome to Children’s Island!” the oldest, who might have been the leader, said.

I slowly stood to my feet and helped Little One to his. I smacked my ear to make sure I didn’t have any water or sand clogging it, because there was no way I heard her right.

“What’s a Children’s Island?” Little One asked.

“It’s the place where children can do anything they want!” all the kids said in unison.

“You can play whenever you want and have ice cream and cake for dinner,” Sudie continued.

“And what about the adults?” I asked.

Sudie frowned. “Who needs ‘em?”

“Not me!” Little One said defiantly. “You got some fried chicken? I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

“Sure!”

I cringed. Food like that was a luxury in our house. And asking for it meant no food at all. Little One’s rib cage, which showed through his wet t-shirt, was evidence of that. I looked back toward the ocean, toward the life we left behind, and wondered if Mama even cared enough to worry whether we were alive or dead.

“You comin’?” Sudie asked.

I shook my head to get Mama out of my mind. What’s the use in wondering now when she never showed she cared before? Sudie was right. Who needs her?

I turned to Sudie. “I could eat a whole bowl of macaroni and cheese.”

“You got it!” She took my hand and then Little One’s, and we skipped down the beach with the others in our welcoming party to a new beginning on Children’s Island.


“Children’s Island” was a story I originally wrote with my dad when I was around six or seven. This is obviously an updated version, but the premise is still the same—a group of kids get caught in a storm and are whisked away to a fantasy island inhabited only by children.

It’s only in my adulthood that I’ve come to realize the story sounds vaguely familiar to The Twilight Zone episode “The Bewitchin’ Pool.” Funny how those things work out, huh?

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 10 | Runaway

The last thing I remember is lying under his naked body as he does what he’s done every night for the last six months since he groped me that day on the auction block until he goes limp. When I’m sure he’s asleep, I slice his throat with a bowie knife and run for the woods, chased by screaming men and the booming echo of shotguns firing.

Tree bark splinters off and sprays out as the bullets whizz by. I keep running. Ducking and dodging. My feet sliding across the hard dirt, catching in vines, scraping against thorns hidden in shrubs and fallen branches. I bear the pain and keep running toward the clearing ahead—death or escape my only option. When I finally break, I’m met with two glaring oval lights and a blaring sound that knocks me off my feet.

***

Her eyes flutter open, then quickly she closes them again. “Please, the light.” She shields her face with her forearms, which are covered in cuts and bruises. “Where am I?” She attempts to sit up, but Dr. Johnson lightly nudges her shoulder to lay her back down on the hospital bed.

“Easy, easy,” he says softly. “You were hit by a rather large SUV.”

“A what?”

He takes his penlight out of his lab coat pocket and lifts her eyelids, examining each eye. Then he holds his finger in front of her. “Can you follow my finger for me?”

Her eyes comply, shifting from left to right along with his finger. “Good,” he says, and writes a note in her chart. “I’m Dr. Johnson. I’ll be taking care of you.”

“A negro doctor?”

He chuckles. “Negro? I haven’t heard that word in a while.”

“How you a doctor?”

Dr. Johnson does a double take at the girl. Despite the rugged skin and the heavy bags under her eyes, she can’t be older than eighteen, and yet she calls him negro and questions whether he’s a doctor?

“Years of medical training,” he finally answers.

“Your people let you?”

“My parents?”

“Your owners.”

He looks at her pensively, then steps closer to the bed and touches her hand. “Can you tell me the last thing you remember?”

Her eyes well with tears, but he squeezes her hand to assure her she’s in a safe space. When she finishes speaking, unsure how to respond, Dr. Johnson says, “You rest,” and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.

Outside in the hall the driver of the SUV and the responding officer are discussing the accident. “She just ran out into the road!” the driver says. “I thought she was a ghost or something.”

“From what she was wearing, I’m guessing she’s part of some Civil War reenactment.”

“If that’s the case,” Dr. Johnson chimes in, “I question that reenactment club’s ethics. She has these deep lashes all over her back, as if…as if she’s been whipped. Almost like—”

“Like, like she’s a…a…s-s-slave?” the driver stutters. It’s as he can’t even say the word for fear that it will offend Dr. Johnson, the only African American of the trio.

Accustomed to these kinds of awkward exchanges, Dr. Johnson ignores it and continues. “Yes, like a slave. The whip marks aren’t the only thing. She has bruises all over her body that aren’t consistent with getting hit by a car. She shows a history of abuse. And—”

“And what?” the officer asks.

Dr. Johnson swallows hard, his throat suddenly dry. He recalls all that she said. The man she killed. The hunting party after her. It sounded unfathomable, like something straight out of the movies. Oddly enough, he felt strongly protective of her. His eyes lowered to the gun on the officer’s hip. On the off chance that what she said is true, anyone white, especially a white man, especially a white man with a gun, would terrify her.

“Well, with all the scars, and then getting hit by a car. She’s suffered a great deal. And it appears to have led to a mental break. She’s not saying things that make sense. I’d like for our hospital psychiatrist to see her before you talk to her, officer. If that’s alright.”

“Sure.”

“There’s one other thing that puzzles me.”

“What is that?”

“The pellet we dug out of her calf. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t have to amputate her leg for infection. In all my years of working in the trauma ER, I’ve never seen a bullet that old.”

“You’re right about that.” A second officer returns from a phone call at the nurses station. “That was ballistics. They said the bullet is at least 165 years old.”

In unison, all heads turn slowly toward the hospital room where the girl sleeps.

Who is this girl? Where is she from?

And most importantly, when?


This hour’s Twilight Zone story was inspired by the episode “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim,” another time traveling tale that brings the past in confrontation with the present.

We’re almost half-way there! Do you have a favorite story yet? A favorite episode you want to see a story for?

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 9 | A Disease

Two splitting pops crack the air, pierce my thoughts, and rattle me out of my waking nightmare just in time to hear my roommate ask a second time, “If you could go back in time, would you stop 9/11 from happening?”

Of all the people sitting at this rinky-dink card table, he asks me.

“I was born here in the US, just like you.”

“Jesus, Samir, don’t make it political.”

“Why do I get the terrorist question?”

“I’m literally going down the list.” He taps his phone, and the Google search result for drinking game ideas lights up. “I could’ve asked anybody.”

“Then ask anybody.”

“Fine.” He turns to Sarah. “Well?”

She twists her mouth and shrugs. “I don’t know. I’d probably let it happen.”

Everyone but me takes a shot. I blank on what the rules are, but it doesn’t matter. Apart from the very real risk of getting caught underaged drinking on campus, consumption of alcohol is forbidden in my religion. And Rick, my roommate, knows this.

“Care to explain?” I ask her.

“Now you want to participate.”

“I can’t ask her a question?”

“I couldn’t ask you a question.”

“It’s okay, I’ll answer,” Sarah says, playing mediator. She and Rick have been going out since the beginning of the semester. Being the neutral party between our constant bickering is familiar territory for her by now.

“I guess,” she starts, “so much of American life and psyche today has been shaped by 9/11. Even if I could change it, what would I be coming back to? A completely different world. Unrecognizable.”

“But safer, no?” I interject.

“Debatable. Who’s to say it won’t result in another 9/11 somewhere else, and then that one’s catastrophically worse? Maybe they get the White House that time. Maybe they hijack Airforce One.”

“So, I’m guessing you would try to prevent it then?” Will asks me. He lives in the dorm three doors down. A classmate of mine and Rick’s in Poli Sci and Business Economics.

I nod.

“Of course you would.” Rick rolls his eyes. “Look, we don’t need no Muslim savior. Just tell your people to stop blowing shit up.”

“Rick!” Sarah shrieks.

“Uncalled for, bro.” Will chimes in.

“I have no interest in saving people like you anyway,” I say to Rick. People with the same ethnocentric judgement in their eyes, the same hateful speech, the same misplaced patriotism that only honors countrymen with the same shade of white skin.

“Don’t need it,” he says.

I pretend not to hear him. “I would only go back to change one thing.”

“And what’s that?” asks Masha, the quiet one with kind eyes, the only reason I’m here at this table when I should be studying for finals. She’s a Psychology major. An understanding soul. Even the most vicious of humans she desires to study, to comprehend how their minds work and what drives them to commit the sins they do.

There’s a recurring dream I wish she’d interpret for me and hopefully make it stop.

“Islamophobia,” I say. “It’s a disease in this country, and it killed my parents.”

It’s so quiet you can hear a pen drop. Rick doesn’t speak, I imagine, only because Sarah has her knee shove into his balls under the table. Successful buzzkill delivered, I excuse myself and make my way from the common area down the hall to my dorm, room 22. I twist the knob and pause, readying myself for what waits for me on the other side. The rerun of my parents’ murder that has plagued me since childhood. Every night it runs, like a flickering black and white film projection from my brain. The man with the shaggy ponytail, the American flag patched on the front of his leather jacket. My father finding a hidden inner strength, despite being skin and bones, to shield me behind him and keep me in place under the barrage of bullets, no matter how much I pushed and tugged. Even as my image ages with me from a scrawny, frightened eleven-year-old to the 6’5 200-pound athlete that I am today, the result is still the same. I can’t jump in front of them, I can’t protect them, I can’t save them.

I crack the door open and hear the first lines of that familiar script. “Go back to your own country!”

A tap on my shoulder brings me back to reality. I pull the door shut and turn.

“Hi.” I’m greeted by Masha’s warm welcoming eyes. “I think the Basement Cafe is still open in the library. Wanna grab a coffee?”

“Sure.”

She offers her arm, and I loop mine in hers. “By the way, I’ve been having this dream.”


Pick any Twilight Zone episode about time travel and haunting dreams. Pick any episode that covers the topics of hate, war, and racism. The above story pulls elements from all of them. The original series was full of social and political commentary, exposing some of the worst parts of humanity, often in the most horrifying and spine-chilling ways.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 7 | Regret

After the third miscarriage, John promises to get a vasectomy so I won’t feel like it’s my fault. The very words shift all the blame to me, and I regret telling him about my past abortions as a teenager. That I’d changed my mind about not wanting kids.

When the nurse calls him back, I slip out of the doctor’s office and wait in the elevator. As the steel doors slide closed, they show me the reflection of a freckled face I haven’t seen in nearly thirty years.

She cowers in the furthest corner, peers up at me, her eyes big and wide. When ours connect, she quickly faces the wall.

I feel the motherly urge to protect her, shield her from all the bad decisions she’ll inevitably make in the years to come.

“What floor?” I ask.

“First,” the mousy voice replies.

My finger hovers over the “1” on the keypad. Next to it, the tag “Family planning.”

When I turn around, she’s not there, but I still see her image in the doors.

“Are you sure?”

She shakes her head.

I punch “G” for the parking garage instead.

When the doors open again, a girl in an oversized sweatshirt runs out.


There are plenty of Twilight Zone episodes about having an encounter with one’s younger self, but I would say this story draws its inspiration from “Spur of the Moment.”

We’re going strong with our marathon! I’ll step away for some coffee and be back in an hour!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 6 | Consent

*Trigger Warning*

Prom night, and this time I know Alina will let me hit. I’ve got the liquid encouragement. It’s foolproof, a guarantee. “She’ll do whatever you say,” the salesman promised me, and it didn’t cost me a thing.

Only my soul.

But joke’s on the devil, because I don’t plan on dying soon.

Getting her to drink it is tricky. Girls these days are hesitant to take a drink from a guy unsolicited. So I spike the punch instead.

By the third slow jam, I’m hard as a rock and leading her out the back door of our school gymnasium to my car, and in the passenger seat, I’m on top of her with my togue half-way down her windpipe, one hand under her dress, and the other fumbling around in the glove compartment for the pack of Magnums. When I feel it, I temporarily break away and bite into the foil to rip the condom out.

“Wait,” she says, looking behind her.

I turn her chin. “Do whatever I say,” I repeat the words of my benefactor and hike up her dress.

There’s a knock on the window, and sudden panic at the thought that it could be a parent chaperone or an assistant principal forces me to stuff my dick back in my pants and roll down the window.

It’s just Tina, the beast of a volleyball captain, who could easily be a linebacker if the football team accepted girls.

“What do you want?”

She grabs me by the lapels and yanks me out of the car through the window like I’m a rag doll.

“The fuck, girl?” Goddamn, I didn’t know she was that strong.

“Russell, did I ever tell you how hot you look in a tux?”

“I—”

She rips open my shirt—buttons flying—and teeth first, dives straight for my chest…

***

When I wake in Hell, the devil says in a mocking voice, “Did I forget to mention?” His laugh starts low and guttural and slowly grows into a roaring cackle that echos through the caverns. “You only needed one drop. Use too much, and they’ll eat your heart out!”


Ever notice in the Twilight Zone episode “The Chaser” the alchemist that Roger buys the love potion from is named Professor A. Daemon? Subtle, Rod Serling, very subtle. Makes sense since the guy is robbing a woman of her consent.

Also, my inspiration for the devil character is the truly deceptive genie from “The Man in the Bottle.” Play this scene while you’re reading the final paragraph. Doesn’t he make the perfect devil?

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 5 | Fever Dream

I go to bed with a splitting headache, a cold sweat, and what feels like ten-pound weights on my chest, and in my dream is existential dread.

I see him through the darkness in the corner of my bedroom by the closed door—his silhouette much darker than everything around him.

I close my eyes and pray to heaven above for forgiveness.

“Please, God. Don’t let him take me.”

When I take a peek with one eye open, the shadow grows bigger as he draws nearer. I can’t determine whether it’s the fear or fever that escalate my shivers. I hide underneath the covers, my whispering frantic as I repeat again and again my prayer.

“Please, God. Don’t let him take me.”

“Please, God. Don’t let him take me.”

“Please, God. Don’t let him take me!”

A light tug on the sheets, and they slowly glide down. The blackness overwhelms me. Eyes open or closed makes no difference. This is what it’s like, I imagine, when you’ve reached the end and you realize you’ve had one stumble too many, that God has run out of second chances to gift you and has finally turned His back. And it’s not the fires of Hell that burn you, but the darkness. The unquenchable, unrelenting darkness. The never seeing the light of day. An ever-presence that looms over you, hovers, and seeks to swallow you whole.

But then a cool compress touches my forehead, and the soft hum of a melody I faintly know the words to float above my head, and I drift off to sleep.

***

When I open my eyes again, I see the sun, and my fever is broken, and I can smell for the first time in a month.

I go outside and fill my lungs with the fresh morning air. I relish in the coolness of the breeze, sweet relief. In the wind, in the ruffle of the leaves, I hear that tune again. From my peripheral vision, I see the familiar figure, darting between the trees, and I follow him, toward the lake that touches the backyards of each house on the cul-de-sac. He stops beneath the old willow tree at the edge of the water, and I pause just a few feet away.

“I’ve been waiting for you, love,” he says. He turns and outstretches his hand. “Come.”

“Where?”

“Does it matter?”

I gaze back to my home, a silent prison for the last three weeks. “I thought I was dying. I was all alone.”

“No, you weren’t.” He takes a step back, partially disappearing between the weeping leaves of the willow. “Do you trust me?”

He curls his fingers underneath mine, beckoning, and as he hums, I let him lead me deeper, behind the veil, until we both disappear.


This hour’s episode of the Twilight Zone blogging marathon is inspired by the sweet and haunting song of “Come Wonder with Me” as well as the encounter with Death in “Nothing in the Dark.”

And for a longer version with the humming…