Dream of Death, by Eric J. Smith

I know what it’s like to die. One way, at least, but not the best exit, for sure. Though tied in knots and screaming for forty-five seconds or who knows how long, this has to be the end; I can’t endure much more. I want either to jump off quick or to feel the knots loosen and hear the screaming stop so I can catch my breath. But neither happens as the pain and screaming—is that me?—continues. Finally, I wake up and everything has stopped. What have I experienced? Nothing? Something else? Maybe I died inside a dream.

Firing Squad, by Gordon Lawrie

Someone came for him just before midday. Alone in that small room, he’d been left to wonder what awaited him in the next world; now he would find out. He allowed himself to be led, petrified, inwardly screaming, towards his fate.

Passing through the doorway into the blinding light, he could just make out five silhouettes facing him. He prayed that his bladder wouldn’t let him down, but at least it would all be over quickly.

For some reason he was actually asked if he was ready. He nodded.

“Tell me, Mr. Conover, what made you apply for this position?”

The Suspect, by Russell Conover

I’m combining a couple themes from others this week. Thanks for the inspiration! (And I apologize if I’m ruining anyone’s childhood with this one.)

The Suspect, by Russell Conover

The cops were baffled about how Jones could’ve been so brutally murdered. His bloodstained body was found in the freezer, but without a trace of the killer.

“This murder couldn’t have happened here,” Cop A reasoned.
“But if not here, where? And by whom?” Cop B wondered.
“Got it!” Cop C proclaimed. “Waldo, in the library, with the globe.”

His companions looked at him. “Waldo? Have you gone mad?”
“Look! There’s a red and white striped hat, and rented books, and a portion of Australia. Still think I’m crazy?”

Waldo was located and arrested shortly thereafter.

An Unstable Personality, by Ann-Louise Truschel

“Has the patient improved, Doctor?”

“She’s still very unstable.”

There’s a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Dr. Wilton responds.

A small waiflike woman, eyes downcast, timidly shuffles into the room.

“Please sit, Ana. You remember me, don’t you?”

Silent, Ana timidly perches on the edge of her chair.

“Are you feeling safe and calm today?”

“I’m afraid; I want to leave.” Anna begins to tremble.

“Take deep breaths, Ana, and hold my hand.”

“Don’t touch me! I must go!“

“Ana. Don’t …!”

But it was too late. Ana’s outline began to fade. Her features fragmented and then … she disappeared.

Guilty or No, by Emma Baird

“It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the spanner!”
Colonel Mustard looked affronted. “It was not!” he blustered. “The cook can vouch for me. I was in the kitchen at the time.”
The cook coloured slightly. The Colonel was a demon for her scones. He’d eaten seven of them, stealing a few that were meant for other people.
She nodded. A man shouldn’t be blamed for something he hadn’t done.
Mrs Peacock looked at the others in turn.
She pointed at Reverend Green. “Guilty! You’re the one who wrenched ’50 Shades of Grey’ from the shelf, aren’t you?”

The Red Telephone Box, by Gordon Lawrie

The authorities simply didn’t understand; they never listen. The villagers said that without its traditional bright-red telephone kiosk, the village would slowly die off. But the authorities knew better, of course.

Everyone who’d ever lived in the village knew that the village population multiplied in that red phonebox. Couples wanting a child simply visited the box together and emerged ten minutes later with a newborn babe; normal village sex was purely for pleasure.

So, when the authorities replaced that old red phone box with a brand new shiny silver one, the village slowly died. But the authorities always know best.

Games People Play, by Ann-Louise Truschel

Jake was a mean S.O.B. who enjoyed tormenting his wife.

“It’s Russian roulette night.”

“Please, Jake.”

“Get the gun!”

Gloria got the revolver, spun the cylinder, put it to her head, and fired. She gasped when nothing happened and dropped the gun into the chair cushion.

Laughing, Jake said, “My turn.”

Gloria retrieved the revolver. Jake took it, repeated what Gloria had done, and fired. A bullet exploded into his brain.

Gloria picked up the weapon, removed five bullets from the cylinder, and called 911. She retrieved the other gun, holding one bullet, from the cushion and hid it away.

Entropy, by Amy Friedman

I know, it’s Thursday, but the muse was a-clamorin’. A not very liked ex-boss just published a thriller, and I made the mistake of reading the first chapter. I wanted to do better. Here’s what emerged.

Entropy, by Amy Friedman

Marnie bent over, wrapping her arms around her belly. Oh, it hurt … knowing her life would get a solid F if it were graded. Every decision – education, marriage, jobs, locations … all stupid, wrong, regrettable. Every mean remark directed her way – dumb, egomaniacal, oversensitive, hostile, peculiar – all were right. Right! And there was no time left to heal.
Joel hesitated at the door, hovering out of sight. He knew Marnie was beating on herself. Filling himself with love, his hands stretched forth to caress her shoulders.
“Joel?” Marnie said. He brushed her cheek with ghostly lips. “Here,” he said.

The Spirit of the Act, by Jo Oldani-Osborne

Lydia-My-Lovely was aghast. Waldo revealed that he was talking to dead soldiers during their benefit show. Spiritualism was an old act, but Waldo never claimed to have “abilities”.

“Waldo, you ain’t no charlatan?”

“Well, I’m in communication – think of the comfort to Mums and Dads.”

“You hear the dead?”

“I hear Jim—“

Waldo opened the closet and there sat a young man with wired pads on his ears and a wireless set.

“Not a bad chat with some heroes, eh, Mr. Waldo?” Jim grinned.

“Great Jim, but you gotta stay hidden.”

A con.

Lydia-My-Lovely would have preferred the dead.

Chaos and Reasonable Doubt, by Eric J. Smith

“I know someone who says he doesn’t believe in coincidences.”
“Who’s that?”
“The sheriff.”
“That’s because he’s a cop, sort of.”
“I don’t see your point.”
“See, cops don’t believe in coincidences because they deal mostly with liars and they think everyone is guilty. Lack of coincidence is a crutch they use so they won’t have to use their God-given imagination, peer into gray areas, or investigate reasonable doubt.”
“I almost understand what you mean.”
“Let me put this way. Cops avoid chaos and complication. Their approach to things simplifies the universe and enables them to fill out the paperwork.”