Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 3 | Granddaddy’s Wives

“You remind me of someone.”

“Who?”

“Someone from another lifetime.”

“Was she pretty?”

“Oh, Laurette.” He squeezes my arms and pulls me to his lips. “I would get lost in the jade of her eyes. A luscious green paradise.”

“And mine?”

“The most beautiful I’ve ever seen.”

We spend the night together, and the next morning, still pressed against my body, he asks, “Is it weird to want to marry you after just one date?”

To any other person, it should be, but I’m not getting any younger—the ticking clock echos in my empty uterus—and pickings are slim, so I tell him, “I don’t want to wait.”

I know my mom will accuse me of settling if I tell her too soon, so I wait to the very last minute to call her, when we’re at the Justice of the Peace, and forth in line to be wed.

She rushes down to meet us but stops dead in her tracks upon seeing him.

“Mom, this is my fiancé—”

“Granddaddy?”

He clears his throat, adjusts his blazer across his broad shoulders. “Uh, it’s uh, Elijah.”

She points a shaky finger at the mole on his chin. “You look so much…”

But before she can finish that statement, our number is called, and we stand underneath the state seal on the wall behind us, and the officiant, who calls us his easy couple because we have no vows and no rings, simply asks us, “Do you want to be married?” We both say yes, and we share a kiss, and the officiant signs the document, along with Mom.

On the ride home, Mom tells us of her grandfather, who allegedly had the gift of eternal youth, until he mysteriously disappeared one afternoon when she was seven.

“Ma’am, I assure you!” His voice fills the car. “I may have salt and pepper hair, but I am not that old.”

“And not too old for me!” I add.

Not too old to fill my womb, and that’s just what he does.

But on the eve of Laura’s twelfth birthday, he vanishes into the night after an argument erupted when I compared my wrinkled hand to his unblemished skin, absent of any markings of our years spent together.

I browse through old photo albums Mom sent over years ago to pass the time as I wait for his return. And just like her the day of my wedding, I freeze in horror at the sight of the black and white photo. At the salt and pepper hair, the broad shoulders, the mole on the left side of his chin. And it’s then that I realize I am my great-grandmother, and my mother, my daughter.


You’re traveling in time, into hour three of our Twilight Zone blogging marathon. This story was brought to you by “Long Live Walter Jameson,” with easter eggs from “In His Image.”

Until we meet again, at the witching hour…

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 2 | Turbulence

It’s just a two-hour flight, and yes, looking down at my watch, we’ve only been in the air thirty minutes, but I swear it’s been longer. Much longer.

Maybe it’s my anxiety that has seemingly caused time to freeze. I haven’t seen Barry’s parents since our disaster of a wedding five years ago, when his mother nearly strangled me while putting on my “something borrowed” string of pearls and demanded I only give her grandsons, followed by the threat, “or else.” And at the reception, his father further emphasized that I had one purpose and one purpose only. Procreation. Only sons, as if I’m bearing the heir to a medieval empire and not a chain of cheap motels that’s one more bed bug outbreak from bankruptcy.

But did Barry believe me our wedding night, when we were alone in our honeymoon suite, when we should’ve been doing anything other than arguing about his overbearing parents? No. It was the beginning and end of our marriage.

And now we’re supposed to spend two weeks with them, Christmas and New Year’s, and fake it like we’re a happy couple. And I know I’ll be relentlessly asked, “Where are my grandsons?” Well, it’s kind of hard to get pregnant when your son doesn’t touch me. But of course I’ll be blamed for that too—if I hadn’t accepted that fancy professorship in Richmond, taken him away from his family, made him eternally resentful of me.

I wish we weren’t going. I wish this plane didn’t exist. I wish we never married, that we were still MFA candidates writing love poems to each other back and forth between classes.

But no, we’re here, on this godforsaken plane headed to the Christmas holiday from hell, and as the fifth episode of You starts on the screen on the back of the seat in front of me, I know for a fact it’s been longer than two hours.

“Will we be landing soon?” I ask Barry, who sits in the aisle seat.

He gives me this befuddled look. “Are you serious?”

“What?”

“We just took off.”

“No, no.” I turn and lift the shade to glance out the window, where I see nothing but clouds. No sky, no buildings below, only clouds. Clouds all around.

“We didn’t just take off. We’ve been on this flight at least five hours now.”

“Nell.” He touches my forehead with the back of his hand. “Are you feeling alright?” It’s the first time he’s ever shown any type of concern for me since before our wedding.

“I’m fine. I just don’t understand why—”

“Look, I know you’re not the biggest fan of my folks. But I told them to go easy on you, okay?”

“Go easy?”

“No baby stuff. No work stuff. No fighting. Let’s just do Christmas, okay?”

“Fake it till we make it?”

“Precisely.” He kisses my forehead.

I don’t know what’s more confusing. His sudden show of affection, or the fact that he thinks we just took off. Either way, I feel suffocated, and the last place I should be is in a barely three-foot wide airplane bathroom, but that’s where I go. I climb over his knees, side-shuffle down the narrow aisle, squeeze into the bathroom, and slam the folding door behind me.

I lean over the sink, turn on the faucet, and splash my face several times. I look at my reflection in the mirror, count the years lost in crow’s feet around my eyes. Suddenly the floor drops from under me, my knees buckle, and all around me the room shakes.

Could this flight get any worse?

I try to pull myself to my feet, but each time, the plane violently jerks and pushes me back down to the floor. Over the intercom, the bell chimes, indicating that everyone should put on their seatbelts.

How do you do that in a bathroom?

As much as I don’t want to, I grab onto the toilet, praying no one has recently shat in it, yank myself up, and sit down, holding onto the sides of the commode for dear life as the entire plane vibrates throughout my body. I breathe in through my noise audibly, barely getting enough air, but I refuse to open my mouth, afraid something could come out. Thankfully I didn’t eat while in the airport, but the way my stomach flips and twists in knots, anything could come out—from either end—and cover the walls of this lavatory.

Just as suddenly, the quaking stops. Cautiously, I release my hold of the toilet. I rise to my feet on spaghetti legs. The intercom chimes again, followed by our pilot’s muffled voice—his microphone obviously too close to his mouth.

“Uh…we had a brief wave of turbulence there…er…hopefully everyone’s alright. No one threw up their lunch, aha.” There’s static, a whistling echo, and then he comes back. “Uh, we’ll be beginning our descent into Hartsfield-Jackson shortly…er… current weather is fifty-two degrees, sunny, clear skies, zero chance of precipitation, beautiful day, huh?… We, er, hope you enjoyed your flight. We ask that you lift your tray tables, keep your seatbelts buckled until we touch down and come to a complete stop at the gate…we’ll be landing in about…er…twenty minutes. Welcome to Atlanta, and happy holidays!”

The microphone clicks as he signs off. I exhale a sigh of relief. The first hurdle is over. If Barry was being honest, maybe this will be my only hurdle. I check my wristwatch, and the time has jumped forty-five minutes. Have I been in the bathroom this long? Did the turbulence last nearly an hour? I massage my temples with both hands. I give up trying to understand the timeline of this flight. I just want to be safe on the ground. I know his parents promised to meet us at the airport. I just may be happy to see them, rush into my mother-in-law’s arms with a bear hug. Wouldn’t that surprise everyone?

I take another deep breath, fold back the door, and exit the tiny prison.

When I turn the corner all of the air is sucked from my lungs. I feel weightless, my stomach doing backflips again, the shaking beginning to return, because when I look into the cabin that I left God only knows how long ago for my husband’s face, he, the head stewardess and the rest of the crew, and all 188 passengers on this full flight are nowhere to be found.


You have just entered hour two of my Twilight Zone-inspired blogging marathon. This story was inspired by the Twilight Zone episode “The Arrival,” with a sprinkle of “The Odyssey of Flight 33.”

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!

Outbreak

There was an outbreak at the county prison farm. Inmates were dying violent deaths, their bodies splitting open, their innards ejecting into the atmosphere. Being new to the Department of Health and Human Services, I was assigned the gruesome task of finding a cause.

The prison doctor took me down to the infirmary to look at his latest admitted patient. A man in his late twenties serving fifteen years for armed robbery. He had watched his cellmate die before his eyes, and they had immediately taken him in, assuming he’d been infected. They’d tested his blood, urine, and saliva, and found no trace of the parasite responsible for killed nearly three dozen prisoners. Still, they kept him under observation for he had been suffering from intense abdominal pains, wrapping his arms around himself, curling into the fetal position, and screaming uncontrollably. It might have been just shock, but if he had been infected, they couldn’t risk spreading it to the remaining inmates.

“This is Daniel, Ms. Ryan,” the doctor said. “Daniel, do you think you can sit up for us?”

Holding his stomach, Daniel pushed himself up, sliding against the wall. His orange jumpsuit and the white bed sheets were drenched. Sweat dripped from his nose, and he breathed heavily as he stared into my eyes. I recognized him instantly.

“Daniel?”

“Sabrina?” His eyes widened. “Oh my god.”

I reached out to touch his soaking face, and he rested his head on my gloved hand. His breathing slowed.

“Do you two know each other?” the doctor asked.

“An old friend,” I said, but he was more than a friend. I was madly in love with him in highschool. And graduation night, as we lay together naked on the cold, wood floor of his stepfather’s work shed, he finally admitted he felt the same. I hadn’t seen him since the day I left for college. He’d told me that he didn’t get accepted into the university we’d been planning to attend together. He didn’t even apply. We’d promised each other to make the distance work, but D.C. had more promising men who lied much better. I broke it off two weeks into my first semester at Howard University.

“Doctor, do you think I can talk to the patient alone for a few minutes?” I asked.

“Certainly.” He nodded, and left the room. I shuffled my feet in my hazmat suit, unsure of where to start. Daniel started for me.

“You look nice. From what can see at least.”

I gave him a weak smile. “What happened to you? How’d you end up here?”

“You always said I hung out with the wrong kind of people. I should have listened to you. Maybe I wouldn’t be here. Maybe I’d still be alive.”

“What’s going on here? What is this thing?”

“I wish I knew,” he said, shaking his head. Tears started to stream down his face. I couldn’t remember a time I’d ever seen him cry. “Reggie,” he said between sobs. “One minute he’s fine, the next, he’s throwing up this huge, black worm, and it’s cutting him in half.” He started to scream, cradling his stomach and drawing up his knees. “I can’t! I can’t!”

I took his face in both of my hands. “Shhhh.”

“You have to get me out of here. I can’t die in here.”

“Daniel—”

“Promise me! Promise me you’ll do whatever you can to save my life.”

For the next two weeks, I tried to use all my contacts in the justice system to get him transferred to another prison, but no one would have him. Everyone on that prison farm were assumed to be infected. They needed to contain the parasite, ensure that it wouldn’t spread to the general population. A month after my visit to the prison farm, they set the entire facility on fire, incinerating its occupants, Daniel included, with it.

—Nortina


This is much darker, and more “science fictiony” that what you are used to reading from me. This story is actually a dream I had about an ex a couple of nights ago.