Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 1 | Hell

I don’t remember how I got here. I don’t remember much of anything from last night. But despite how much I drank, the one thing I tried to forget still haunts my thoughts…

My best friend straddling my fiancé’s lap twelve hours before I was due to walk down the aisle. And to think, I was saving myself for him, by his request, until our wedding night.

I rise slowly. It doesn’t prevent the sudden onset of pounding in my brain. I look around the room. There’s nothing identifiable to tell me where I am. Just a bed, a closet, a chest of drawers with no mirror.

Oh god, please tell me I didn’t come home with some random from the bar. I deserve payback for the betrayal, yes, but not like this, not at the expensive of my own self-respect. Let Jess be the homewrecker whose man who will leave her just as he got her. As for me, I will remain pure.

I slip into my pumps only to discover the heel for one is broken and opt to go barefoot, bracing myself against the wall to tame the sudden-onset vertigo. Never again. Never again will I allow myself to fall this hard, to get so lost in a whirlwind romance that when it inevitably ends, I wake up in a place I don’t recognize with memories I can’t recall.

When I get to the end of the hall, I realize the pounding in my head is knocking on the front door. Crap. Just what I need is an angry girlfriend on the other side. Apart from the knocking, the house is still. I’m sure there’s no one here but me. It’s odd that my bar guy would leave me here alone. I could rob him blind—if there was anything to take.

The knocking continues, aggravating my migraine. Might as well tell her now. She’ll find out anyway when she sees me trying to sneak out. It’s best that she knows now. If not with me, it’ll be someone else. End it now, sweetie, before he really breaks your heart.

To my surprise, standing on the porch is a little man, barely taller than me, wearing pleated pants that look a size too large and holding a casserole dish of some sort of glop that looks like it could’ve been oatmeal in another life.

“Morning!” he says cheerily.

I shield my eyes from the brightness of the new day. “Uh, huh.”

“Welcome to Centerville!” He presents the dish to me, and I take it, not really knowing what else to do.

“I’m sure you must be hungry. I would’ve had your refrigerator ready sooner, but we don’t always know when someone new is, uh, moving in.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t—”

“It’s best you just accept it.” He shoves his hands into his pockets. “It’s easier that way.” Without saying anything further to explain what the hell that even means, he skips down the steps and trots across the yard to the house next door.

I slam the door, needing to be enclosed in darkness to give my headache relief. It’s only when I’m able to fully open my eyes again without squinting that I notice there’s not a single light on in this house. I can’t even find a light switch. Does anyone live here? They must. Why else the welcome wagon? Bar guy must have just moved in, and the neighbors think I’m his wife or something. That may help me when I try to make my exit. But where is he? And where on earth is Centerville? I’ve never heard of it, but the name sounds just as bland as this house.

I will say, the neighbor was right about one thing. My stomach growls in agony. I can barely stand I’m so hungry. I found Jess a Tom together just minutes before the rehearsal dinner was served. So of course I skipped it. Maybe I ate something at the bar. Home chips? Hot wings? Christ! Why can’t I remember?

I stumble into the kitchen and put the dish on the table. As disgusting as this goop looks, it’s all I’ve got. I’ll eat enough just to replenish my energy, then I’ll figure out how to get out of here and get home. I move to the cabinets, guessing which drawer might hold the silverware, but no matter which one I try, none will budge.

“Sheesh, are these glued shut or what?”

Fine, I’ll eat with my hands. I sit down, get ready to scoop a good handful, when I notice the refrigerator to my left. What did that guy say about the refrigerator? He needed to get it ready. Why is that the neighbor’s responsibility? I get up and open it. It’s completely empty, apart from one lone loaf of bread that’s not in any container or wrap or anything. It’s just sitting on the bottom rack totally naked.

I bend down to poke it. “The hell?” It’s plastic. Not only that—the refrigerator is completely warm. There’s no steady hum. It’s not on!

I look behind it to see if it’s even plugged into the wall, but when I press my face into the tiny space between the wall and back of the refrigerator, it moves. The fucking thing moves! Like an inch or more! There’s no way I’m able to move an entire refrigerator with just one nudge. Hungover and hangry? There’s no way. No way.

Stepping backward, I nearly fall over the chair behind me. I catch myself by planting a hand into the slimy “not quite oatmeal.”

“Ugh.” I look around, but there’s nothing to wipe my hands. Nothing in this kitchen. Nothing in this goddamn house at all. I have to get out.

I sprint for the front door. I ready my eyes for the light and haul ass out of there. I will go to the neighbor’s. I’ll demand he explain plainly where the hell I am. I’ll tell him I work for the state, and I know for a fact there’s no place anywhere on the map called Centerville. I’ll make him give me information on the guy who brought me here—where can I find him, how can he take me home.

Across the street, I notice a woman standing in her yard and staring right at me. I start for next door, but her staring unsettles me. Something about her eyes hints that maybe she’ll give it to me straight, so I run to her instead.

“Excuse me?” I say breathlessly. “Can you tell me where I am?”

“Hell.”

So much for not being cryptic. I glance behind at the house. I feel it watching me menacingly. Something’s off. Something’s very off.

I turn back to the woman. “Listen, I know this may sound weird, you seeing me come out of that house and all, but I don’t actually live here.”

“You do now.”

Does anyone in this town not speak in riddles?

“No I don’t! I’m from Atlanta! Can you tell me how to get back to Atlanta!”

“You were brought here. Like all the rest of us.”

“What?”

Her eyes shift to something behind me. I turn around and see the next-door neighbor standing in his doorway. “Hey!” I don’t know where I find the energy to run back across the street. But I muster enough without collapsing and reach him to painfully block the door with my bare foot before he can close it.

“You’re going to tell me what the fuck is going on, and you’re going to tell me right goddamn now.”

The cheerful look he had when I first met him is replaced with that of a frightened child. He has no reason to be scared in my opinion, but he can’t even look at me directly. Instead, he talks to my neck.

“You can’t go back. You can never go back. It’s impossible.”

“What does that mean!” I screech.

“It means. It means—”

God, why won’t he just say it? Why won’t anyone say it? I think back to what that woman said when I asked her what this place was.

Hell.

Hell?

“Oh my god. Oh…my…go—” I walk backward, breathing heavily, until my back hits the porch column. “Am I…am I dead?”

“Oh, no, no, no, no! Nothing like that.” He rushes out, takes my hand and helps me to stand straight. “It’s just— To those at home, you might as well be.”

I frown at him and shake my head. Nothing said to me since I woke up in a stranger’s bed has made sense, and I’m too tired, too hungry, too lost in my own heartbreak…

Seeming to notice my frustration, he helps me to sit down on the top step of the porch and pats my back. “There, there. It’s not as bad here. Maybe you’ll find you’ll like it better than your life before. Some do. God, she takes care of us. But you have to accept it. If you don’t…” he motions to the woman across the street. “You’ll be miserable. Always trying to escape. Always failing. And then you will die.”

“My life before? God? She? Die?” It sure does sound like hell.

He points toward the horizon, and I follow his finger, past the trees, past the tops of the houses, up into a cloudless sky, a blueless sky…

A sunless sky.

There’s only the face of a monstrous child looking down on us. And then everything goes black.


This story was inspired by the Twilight Zone episode “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” only, the quiet town is a little more populated these days…

Five Characters in Search of an Exit” served as inspiration as well.

This was your first hour in the Twilight Zone. I know I said I would keep these stories at 100 words—that was a lie! Haha! Some stories just have more to say. 😉 Come back in an hour to see where we go next!

I Know What You Did Last Halloween: Part 2

“Like, I Know What You Did Last Summer? Hmm, sounds original.” Mike crams the last Krispy Kreme donut into his mouth without offering me a single bite, but it’s probably better that I don’t start my morning with a pound of sugar on my stomach.

Especially after that email.

I need absolute clarity of mind to get through this day. And not only because of the tedious work I do as an Editorial Assistant—tracking submissions, ensuring that authors meet journal guidelines, pushing automated messages through the workflow, processing invoices, not nearly enough copyediting of manuscripts, which was what I was expecting when I initially went in for the interview, the impression I still had when I accepted the offer fourteen months ago. I should’ve quit then. After Sam, it’s a wonder I haven’t bailed before now.

I pour myself a mug of lukewarm coffee from the pot and try my best to refrain from gagging when I put it to my lips. It’s bad enough that Dana, the office assistant and someone else who apparently hates her job, still hasn’t restocked the sugar and cream in the breakroom—which were the two things that made the coffee somewhat bearable—but for God’s sake, when will we ever replace that aged coffee maker? It’s seen a better day, and I can’t afford to buy Starbucks every day just to keep my head on straight whenever I receive a cryptic message that makes my hairs stand on end.

Mike finishes his breakfast with a large, audible gulp and says, “I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s probably some internet troll too obsessed with the holiday. Can’t even come up with a better prank.”

“In any other situation, I’d agree with you, but—” I lower  my voice when our co-worker Trisha walks in. “I did do something last Halloween. We both did.”

“Can we not talk about this here?” Mike snaps under his breath.

“What are you two whispering about?” Trisha lifts the lid to the empty donut box, frowns, and immediately whips her head toward Mike.

“Early bird,” he says, smiling.

“I’m the one who bought the damn donuts,” she says, clearly unamused. She snatches the box off the counter, stomps onto the petal controlling the lid to the trash can so hard it cracks, and stuffs box inside.

I wait for her to leave, but she lingers, obviously more interested in our conversation than what to eat for breakfast. She reinserts herself into the space between me and Mike and reaches over his head for a bag of pretzels and a granola bar from the cabinet behind him, shooting me a death glare at the same time.

It’s no secret she has a thing for Mike and thinks I’m creeping in on her territory. Before me, it was Sam.

I guess she doesn’t have to worry about that competition any more. A year later, and the same flowers still enshrine Sam’s abandoned desk. Plastic—giving off the illusion of immortality. Too bad Sam wasn’t so lucky.

A part of me wonders why the company hasn’t hired a replacement yet, why, even though I push it in every afternoon at five before clocking out, her chair is still slightly pulled away from her desk every morning as if expectant of her return.

Every morning the same. This morning no different. In fact, this morning, the chair was pulled all the way out, and turned facing the aisle, as if someone had been sitting there and had briefly stepped away.

Which is why I’m currently hiding out in the breakroom with Mike, the only other person who—before the email—knows what really happened to Sam. The only other person who can assure me that it won’t be Sam who comes back to that chair.

I admit the breakroom, which is more like a breezeway that connects the office suite to the conference room next door, is the wrong place to be discussing our previous indiscretion. There’s too much foot traffic. Anyone can hear us. And since our current predicament is that someone else in fact did hear us, or saw us, or knows something about what we did, enough to send that email, I have to be careful with my words.

Everyone’s a suspect. Even—though I hate to think it—Mike.

When Trisha is gone, and I’m sure she’s out of earshot, I say, “So you didn’t get anything.”

“No.” He exhales loudly through his nostrils. “And I’m sure it’s nothing. You’re overeating to something that’s just a coincidence and nothing more.”

“Fine.” I swiftly leave before he can say anything else. Like I’m just being a woman. Curse our overeating, overemotional selves. Calm down. It’s only a coincidence, I repeat. It’s more settling on my stomach than the former, which causes the bad coffee to bubble and rise.

But I’m still not convinced, and when I return to my desk—directly across from Sam’s—I’m even less convinced. Propped on my keyboard, carefully balanced between the Q and A rows, is a handwritten note. I look to Trisha, who sits next to Sam. The chick is always scowling, but this time, it isn’t at me, because Mike, emerging from the breakroom, has the same look on his face. Four of us share one of five workstations in the suite—one that still has friendly reminders of different processes written on scattered Post-its by the fourth and only absent member of our group.

However, we all feel her presence now. Because those are Sam’s swirly squiggles on the folded sheet of copy paper in front of my computer. They form two words:

“I know.”

So much for coincidences.

I Know What You Did Last Halloween: Part 1 (Intro)

Fall—or for those who like to be fancy, autumn—the season most people look forward to. The cool, crisp breeze in the morning, yet the sun still warms you by the afternoon. Harvest colors and flavors. Cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, pumpkin. Boots, scarfs, and sweaters. Decorations beginning to crowd the store shelves. A pleasant reminder that the holidays are right around the corner.

It’s a season everyone loves. Everyone, that is, but me.

In fact, recently, I’ve come to dread it. I see it now only as the anniversary of what happened to Sam. Something I care not to remember, but as my luck would have it—it seems—fate has other plans.

It’s too early in the morning, and still much too dark in my room for me to be scrolling through emails on my phone. But one email in particular, from an address I don’t recognize, glares at me, and it has me freaked. The longer I stare, reading it over and over again, the brighter my phone’s backlight seems to become. Even when I dial it back to its lowest setting, it still pierces my retinas with seven simple words that, although  nonsuspicious on their own, when strung together, may potentially derail this fantasy of a life I’ve spent the last year concocting for myself…

“I know what you did last Halloween.”

#MicroMondays: Abducted

She shivers by the window. Breath settling to a decent rhythm.

“Drink.” His clammy hand on her shoulder.

Steam rising, she brings the mug to her lips, prays it’s poison.

word count: 30

—Nortina


Written for #MicroMondays. Click here for challenge details, and here to read more “rhythmic” horrors at 30 words.

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction: Week of October 30

Rise and shine! Time to get out your stop watches, exercise your typing fingers, and pick your brains for some quick creativity.

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a complete micro-fiction piece in, you guessed it, one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided! Of course, you can come back to edit for grammar & spelling, but the story itself must be written in a minute.

Your prompt may be a photo, or a word, or a sentence—whatever inspires me, and hopefully inspires you too.

All October long, I’m giving you Halloween-themed prompts, and with the night of horror quickly approaching, I thought I’d kick things off with this “witchy” photo prompt…

Now it’s time for the rules. I don’t have many, because we all know rules are no fun, but here are the basic logistics for each challenge:

  • Write your story in one minute. (Use a stop watch to keep yourself honest. 😉 )
  • Post it to your blog and tag it #1MinFiction.
  • Link it back to this prompt post.

And that’s it! Let’s get to writing, shall we? And…

Ready . . .

Set . . .

Write!

#1MinFiction: Precautionary Tale

I learn from the mistakes of murder victims in slasher movies.

I never baby sit the neighbors’ kids. I wouldn’t be caught dead near a campground or lake. I consume energy drinks to stay awake.

I wish I could move my washer and dryer out of the basement. The light flickers. The door slams whenever there’s a draft. The stairs creak . . .

Even when I’m not on them . . .

—Nortina


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. October will be full of terrifying Halloween-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is: slasher.

 

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction: Week of October 23

Rise and shine! Time to get out your stop watches, exercise your typing fingers, and pick your brains for creativity.

If you’re on the US east coast, it’s 9 AM, which means yet another Monday lost to eight dreadful hours spent in the office (unless you actually like your job . . . yeah, right).

I know everyone hates Mondays, but let’s start this Monday off right, with some quick thinking, some quick typing, and hopefully, lots of fun!

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a complete micro-fiction piece in, you guessed it, one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided! Of course, you can come back to edit for grammar & spelling, but the story itself must be written in a minute.

Your prompt may be a photo, or a word, or a sentence—whatever inspires me, and hopefully inspires you too.

All October long, I’m giving you Halloween-themed prompts! This week’s prompt is an homage to our favorite genre of Halloween horror movies…

slasher

Now it’s time for the rules. I don’t have many, because we all know rules are no fun, but here are the basic logistics for each challenge:

  • Write your story in one minute. (Use a stop watch to keep yourself honest. 😉 )
  • Post it to your blog and tag it #1MinFiction.
  • Link it back to this prompt post.

And that’s it! Let’s get to writing, shall we? And…

Ready . . .

Set . . .

Write!

1MinFiction: Suicide Forest

Part 1

“Have you considered your options?”

He speaks as if I’m changing careers, or switching insurance providers, not choosing to end my own life.

But then, I guess it’s a therapist’s job to remain calm. And he has been patient, followed me all the way to Japan, to Aokigahara, where the hopeless living disappear to join the forest’s ghosts . . .

Part 2

Look! There’s the back of one’s head, though her body is turned to me.

I tighten the noose around my neck. It’s so quiet, I can hear Dr. Bowman swallow.

I hesitate to jump right away, but a sudden gust of wind blows the figure’s hair forward, snatches the chair from under me, and the rope squeezes the scream from my throat when I see she has no face.

—Nortina


I tried, I really tried to squeeze all of this into one minute. Alas, my fingers don’t move that fast. But the story just wasn’t complete without a part two, so today I’m giving you two stories written in two minutes. Feel free to bend the rules this week for the sake of some scary good micro-fiction!

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction: Week of October 16

Rise and shine! Time to get out your stop watches, exercise your typing fingers, and pick your brains for creativity.

If you’re on the US east coast, it’s 9 AM, which means yet another Monday lost to eight dreadful hours spent in the office (unless you actually like your job . . . yeah, right).

I know everyone hates Mondays, but let’s start this Monday off right, with some quick thinking, some quick typing, and hopefully, lots of fun!

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a complete micro-fiction piece in, you guessed it, one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided! Of course, you can come back to edit for grammar & spelling, but the story itself must be written in a minute.

Your prompt may be a photo, or a word, or a sentence—whatever inspires me, and hopefully inspires you too.

All October long, I’m giving you Halloween-themed prompts! This week’s photo prompt may remind you of a certain circular horror movie…

Now it’s time for the rules. I don’t have many, because we all know rules are no fun, but here are the basic logistics for each challenge:

  • Write your story in one minute. (Use a stop watch to keep yourself honest. 😉 )
  • Post it to your blog and tag it #1MinFiction.
  • Link it back to this prompt post.

And that’s it! Let’s get to writing, shall we? And…

Ready . . .

Set . . .

Write!

Deflowered

It Follows me like a shadow,
clings to me like my own skin,
rides my back until I break in
two — I’m a mule to the shame.

In the shower, I scrub off the
film of his semen in scalding
water until my inner thighs
blister. I feel like Jell-O. Police

will know I orgasmed. He’ll say
I wanted it — maybe I did. I see
why tribal cultures circumcise
girls — to keep us from being

whores. Carve out my clitoris
with non-sterile obsidian blade.
Wrap me in gauze, loose enough
to conceal the curve of my hips.

–Nortina


frapalymo#frapalymo (the German version of NaPoWriMo) is hosted by FrauPaulchen and translated from German into English by Bee at Just Fooling Around With Bee. Today’s prompt is: “ film title.”