Archive for: May, 2013

Weather is a Zero-sum Game by Judith Field

May 26 2013 Published by under The WiFiles

Sam wheeled his new invention up the garden. It was a metal box about the size of a pillow, with an array of switches, instrument panels and levers down one side. At the top was a sort of axle attached to a horizontal row of plastic drainpipes of different widths and lengths, looking like a set of organ pipes on their sides. The box was mounted on the frame and wheels of an old-fashioned pram. This one would make his fortune. A thirty year old millionaire. Just like Bill Gates. Only more.

He unwound a cable as thick as his wrist from a bracket at the end of the box and plugged it into the extension lead running out of the back door of the house. Luke looked over the fence from the garden next door.

‘Hi, Mega-nerd,’ Luke said, ‘looks like rain. So much for my barbecue.’

‘It won’t rain,’ Sam said, ‘just wait and see.’ He looked up at the grey clouds that had been gathering all afternoon and tapped the side of his nose.

‘How do you know?’ Luke asked. ‘Can’t believe the forecasts. They make it up as they go along. Wanna come over?’

‘Will Cara be there?’

‘Said she might, if she finishes her revision. It’s this ‘Chemistry for a sustainable future’ thing she’s doing with the Open University. I think she’s off her head, doing exams when she doesn’t have to.’

‘No, you weren’t one for the academic stuff at school, I remember.’

‘I think she fancies you, God knows why, she must be off her head. Always asking about you.’

‘Really?’ asked Sam, ‘I don’t have time for relationships. I’m married to my job. Although I could use a bit of help with this project from a big, beautiful woman, that’d be sweet.’ He smiled and looked into the distance.

Luke leaned over the fence, his mouth set in a line. ‘Less of the letching, that’s my sister you’re talking about. Job? Don’t give me that. I’m not sure I want her going round with a beer-gutted layabout like you.’

‘Leave it out. I’m a freelance designer/inventor, me.’

‘Yeah, yeah, right.’

‘I shit you not. Who do you think dreams up all those things you never knew you needed, in the gift catalogues? Me. And I’m doing very nicely out of the last one I came up with. Combined golf ball holder with integral hip flask in a sumptuous leather case, lavishly personalised with up to three initials of your choice.’

Luke shrugged. ‘I never look at those things. I’d shove them straight in the bin if Cara didn’t insist on recycling everything.’

‘That’s like taking money out of my pocket, you tight sod. Anyway, talking of trees, now I’m branching out.’ Sam pointed at the wheeled contraption. ‘I call this the Cloudzapper. Plenty of people have tried to seed clouds to make it rain, but this does the opposite. Chases the clouds away.’

‘What happens? Does it suck them into those tubes? Don’t look long enough.’

‘No, no!’ Sam rolled his eyes upwards. ‘This is pure science. It sends a super-powered stream of ions into the atmosphere. To be precise, the bit called the tropopause…’ He could see Luke’s eyes glaze over in that way people’s so often did. He skipped to the end ‘…and the jetstream whips the clouds out of the way. Then there you are. For as long as it’s switched on,’ Sam started to sing, ‘the sun has got his hat on.’

He realised he didn’t know the words of the rest of it and substituted ‘ner, ner’ under his breath, in the manner of someone who realises they’re going on to the second verse of ‘God save the Queen.’

Sam turned a crank on the side of the Cloudzapper and the pipes swivelled from their horizontal position until they were pointing almost vertically towards the clouds, like a bundle of howitzers. He flicked a switch, a red light glowed on the control panel and the machine began to hum and pulse. He turned a knob and a lever flicked from ‘zero’ to ‘50%’.

Luke and Sam looked up. The clouds moved aside like a pair of curtains pulled back by a pair of giant hands, leaving clear blue sky. A blazing sun shone directly overhead. In the distance, all around this blue, sunny gap were rainclouds.

Sam went into his house to get changed. His switched on the radio. The local news reported a localised thunderstorm, which had flooded three streets in another part of town.

Cara wasn’t at the barbecue, but Sam hardly noticed. He lolled in a recliner in the corner of Luke’s garden, plate of food balanced on the curve of his stomach, scribbling in a notebook.

The next day, Sam turned the control knob to 75%. There was sun over the entire town, turning to rain as soon as you passed the sign thanking careful drivers. And blizzards in Scotland.

Sam decided to turn the control knob to 100%. The news said it was hotter in England than in Athens. The entire British Isles toasted under a week of sunshine. Sam wondered who he should contact in the government to pay him to keep the weather good for the Jubilee. Some money coming in would be good, the Cloudzapper ate electricity. Meanwhile, the French authorities warned that more bodies could still be found as they picked through debris swept away by flash floods, caused by torrential rain, above the Cote D’Azur.

At the end of that week, Sam went outside to check the machine. Cara was in the garden next door lying in the sun, looking like a giant perspiring humbug in the black and white striped swimsuit that cut into the flesh at the top of her legs. She sat up and rubbed oil into her dimpled knees.

‘Oo-oo! Sammy! Come over and put some of this on my back.’ She held out a bottle..

The fence creaked under Sam’s weight as he leaned on it.

‘Olive oil? You’ll fry like a piece of battered cod.’

Cara stood up, waddled over to the fence and tapped the back of his hand. ‘You saying I look like a fish? Cheeky.’

Her cleavage reminded Sam of two giant marshmallows pressed together. Sweet and soft. He coughed and looked away. ‘No. Like a mermaid.’

‘Get off! More like a manatee. They’re endangered, did you know that? But actually, this oil’s environmentally sound, not stiff with chemicals like that suncream you get in the shops.’

Sam forgot about being married to his project as, sweating and panting, he hauled himself over the fence.

‘Hot enough for you?’ he said with a smirk, rubbing oil further down Cara’s back than he’d been asked to. ‘You can thank me for it.’

Cara shook his hand off, rolled over and looked up at him. ‘Don’t be silly.’ A dimple formed in the corner of her mouth as she laughed, her chins blending into her neck.

Sam explained about the Cloudzapper. Cara sat up, her eyes wide and her mouth turned down. She grabbed Sam’s arm.

‘You can’t do that! Weather is a zero sum game.’

‘What?’

‘Think of a game with two people. If someone wins then the other one’s lost. If you force the clouds away from here, they go somewhere else. It’s like the Gaia theory.’

Sam shrugged. Cara tightened her grip on his arm.

‘Don’t you ever read anything but electronics mags? It’s the idea that everything on earth, alive or not, is part of a system that regulates itself to hold onto the conditions life needs.’

‘Sounds like more of that global warming malarkey to me, a bit of weather never hurt anyone. I’m going to get rich. After I’ve sorted out the Jubilee, I’m going to tell whoever runs Wimbledon that I’ll do it for them too, for a fee. It’ll work better than Cliff’s singing did.’

Cara shrugged her shoulders. ‘Well, Gaia will get her own back somehow. It’s like Le Chatelier’s principle.’

‘We had one of them but the wheels fell off.’ Sam said.

‘What are you on about?’

‘What are you on about? Go on, you’re obviously dying to tell me.’

Cara went red and looked away. ‘Well, I can’t actually remember. We haven’t done it yet. But I think it was something we did in school chemistry, to do with reactions trying to maintain the status quo.’

‘Now you’re talking. I like The Quo – you can’t beat the golden oldies. I didn’t have you down for a headbanger. Just shows you never can tell,’ Sam said. ‘You come round to my place, we’ll have a drink and listen to some music. Think I’ve got one of their CDs in the car, I’ll go and get it.’ He climbed back into his own garden.

‘That’s the lamest chat up line I’ve ever heard. You’re an idiot, you know that?’ Cara called to him, pulling on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. ‘You need to get out more, let’s go somewhere else for that drink. Hang on, I’m coming round – the civilised way’. She disappeared indoors.

Sam led Cara into his garden. ‘Come and help me put this away, before we go, it’s caning my electricity. I must owe them a fortune.’ He unplugged the Cloudzapper from the extension socket and they wheeled it into the shed.

Within minutes, grey clouds began massing. Cara shivered. ‘It’s getting really nippy, I’ve only got these shorts.’ She rubbed at her goosepimpled legs. ‘Maybe I should just get home.’

‘No! Don’t do that! I reckon we’re the same size, sort of – I’ll get you a pair of my jeans and a shirt. And some sandals.’

Cara looked at him, tilting her head from one side to the other. ‘Hmm, maybe. I don’t mind if they’re a bit big, though – makes me feel sort of enveloped, held, you know – like I’m being cradled by some big hunky man. But not leather sandals. Got any flip flops?’ They went into the house and Sam went upstairs.

‘The CD was up here.’ He came back in with clothes over one arm, carrying the CD in the other hand. ‘Digitally remastered! Better than those MP3s. We can listen to it while you put these on – I built a better hi-fi.’ Raindrops the size of olives blobbed against the window, lashing down the pane like glass rods.

Cara put her finger across Sam’s lips. ‘Stop wittering. And forget these. ’ She took the clothes and flung them onto the floor behind her. ‘I can think of another way of warming up.’ The CD joined the heap. ‘And we’ll be making our own music.’

Soon there was another pile of clothes. It had been a long time. They grabbed each other, their stomachs pressed together, arms and legs trying to reach round. Sam was reminded of a wildlife programme he’d once seen, showing two tortoises trying to mate. But suddenly it all seemed to fit together. Very well.

As they lay together, their breathing returning to normal, thunder crashed overhead and there was a flash in the sky.

‘I’ve heard of the earth moving,’ said Sam ‘but this is ridiculous.’

Another bright crack lit the garden up like a strobe light. Sam and Cara sat up and looked out of the window just in time to see a lightning bolt hit the end of Sam’s garden. The shed burst into flames, burning despite the driving rain.

Sam pulled his jeans on and rushed down the garden, but the heat of the fire beat him back. He stood with his hands dangling by his sides as the shed burnt to the ground. Cara came out, wearing his bathrobe. She put her arm round him and kissed his cheek.

‘Shame about your gadget. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.’

The next day, Sam stayed indoors. So did everyone else. During the two soggy weeks of Gaia’s revenge, the end of Sam’s garden flooded, as though something was trying to wash away all trace of the Cloudzapper. Sam and Cara found lots to do, including making plans to send a wind turbine into the atmosphere. After all, the jet stream was still up there, just waiting to be harnessed.

‘We can sell it back to the national grid. Forget pennies from heaven. When we get this jet stream generator working, it’ll be treasure from the tropopause,’ Sam said, sitting up in bed on the morning of the fourteenth rainy day. ‘What do you think, Sweet Cheeks?’

Cara stretched out an arm and pulled him towards her. ‘I think you should forget that for now. Come here and we’ll generate some electricity of our own. The natural way.’

And they did.

The end

Bio: Judith is a scientist, editor and writer who lives in London, England, with a husband, two children and a cat. She’s also got two grandchildren. Her work has previously appeared in The Lorelei Signal and Mystic Signals, among other places. Visit her online at www.millil.blogspot.com

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Sensitive But Unclassified by Sylvia James

May 19 2013 Published by under The WiFiles

The memo arrived on my desk Monday morning. It was enclosed in an unassuming white envelope with the characteristic SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED red type printed dead center.

I looked up to see my secretary, Ms. Walker, moving briskly away, her long black windbreaker consuming her thin frame. The faint scent of lilacs seemed to follow after her.

“Wait,” I called to her. Then, embarrassed by my firm tone, I smiled as she turned. “What is this?” I asked, holding up the envelope.

Ms. Walker shrugged. “I’m not sure.” The warden told me to deliver it to the supervising psychologist when I went by the psychology mailbox to get the mail. So I did.” She returned my smile and backed out of my office.

My attention returned to the envelope and I opened it. Probably just another employee assistance program referral. As much as I enjoyed working with inmates in a high security prison, my loyalty was and always would be to staff.

I ripped open the envelope and read the enclosed form. It had yesterday’s date on it. I was not at all prepared for what I would read:

January 17, 2012

To: Dr. Williams, Supervising Psychologist

From: Mr. McAdams, Facilities Supervisor

I am increasingly concerned with one of my employees, Mr. Richardson. I would like to refer him for employee assistance to address several recent behaviors which I believe warrant immediate attention. First, he is increasingly absent from work and does not always call to let me know he is taking the day off. Second, when he does come into work, he is often tardy. Third, his hygiene is poor and it is clear he often does not shower or brush his teeth. Finally, and the major source of concern, is his repeated allegations against female staff (I have submitted copies of his memos to Internal Affairs for their review). The content of his memos submitted to me in my role as his supervisor describe what appears to be delusional behavior. For instance, he describes the female staff in a multitude of departments going into the cafeteria at night at which time he describes seeing the growth of scales on their skin. He describes in curious detail the growth of claws from their fingers and the elongating of their teeth. He further reports that their hair grows longer at this time and their pupils dilate. He said they have red eyes. Beyond the absolute absurdity of his report, he is presumably not at the prison at night to observe such events and, if he is, he is further in violation of policy as he is not supposed to be at work at any time of night unless an emergency dictates his presence. But perhaps the most disturbing memo was one I received on January 15, 2012, which documented the murder of a corrections officer in the cafeteria at 1400 by female staff with the characteristics described above. The corrections officer mentioned in the memo is a Mr. Daniels, a probationary employee of six months. In this memo, Mr. Richardson details the cruel and gory execution performed reportedly by female staff. Mr. Richardson has not provided me with any names of the female workers.

I put the memo down, staring at the supervisor’s signature above his name without really seeing it. I was still sitting like that when my secretary returned, knocking on my open door.

I jumped and then attempted a smile, which I knew to look as false as it felt. “Hi, you scared me.” I said.

“Sorry, Dr. Williams. Do you need anything? Was everything okay with the mail?” Ms. Walker said, her jacket, with the name of the prison emblazoned on the front in gold, rustling as she lifted her arm to brush the dark hair out of her face.

“Oh my God,” I said, “are you okay?”

She looked confused so I clarified, only temporarily pushing the memo out of my mind. “Your hand. You have a pretty big bruise.”

“Oh,” Ms. Walker said, sighing, “The gym. I should really be more careful.”

I smiled back, “Well, everything’s fine here. I don’t need anything right now, but thanks.”

I looked down, returning my attention to the memo, knowing Ms. Walker had left only by the sound of rustling…

At noon, after I had completed staff supervision in addition to some inmate assessments, I decided to speak with Mr. McAdams directly. Lucky for me, I knew just where to find him.

The Officer’s Mess Hall was crowded at that hour. Staff in various roles lined up against the buffet-style table while inmates served hot food, piling it high on old, red trays held by impatient hands. I could find no empty seats anywhere, which is precisely why I avoided the Officer’s Mess. That and I was adamant in my idea that the inmates couldn’t be trusted not to adulterate staff food.

My eyes roved the room until they settled on a rather portly man of around forty years, wearing a beige suit and dark green tie. As if psychic, Mr. McAdams raised his eyes to mine and he smiled warmly as though expecting me. I made my way over to him. He was sitting at a table across from the Associate Warden.

“Hi,” I said to Mr. McAdams. I gave a brief nod in the direction of Associate Warden Henrick. I held a tremendous distaste for the latter man ever since he verbalized his opinion that women should not be working in a prison and should not be doctors.

Both men said hello in unison, but I focused solely on Mr. McAdams as I stood above their table. “Hi. I received your memo and would like to speak with you if you have a moment. I’ll just take a seat in the lieutenant’s office until you’re finished eating and wait for you there.” I said, eager to leave the crowd and the presence of Mr. Henrick, whose penetrating blue eyes I could feel on my ass.

I didn’t even wait for poor Mr. McAdams to answer. I just turned on my heels and practically raced out of the room. I traversed the corridor outside of the Officer’s Mess, now filled wall-to-wall with a throng of inmates. Moments later, I made my way into the quiet of the lieutenant’s office where I sat at a computer terminal facing the corridor.

I checked my email, pretending to look busy, until I saw Mr. McAdams in the corridor making his way over to me. He opened the door and smiled as he took a seat next to me, his face red and the breaths very audible as they gushed from his mouth. I hoped he hadn’t been rushing over to meet me, but I had feeling he had. He was a kind man and probably hadn’t wanted to keep me waiting.

“Sorry about interrupting your lunch. I was just concerned about this memo.” I said.

Mr. McAdams shook his head. “No, I’m actually really glad you wanted to speak with me so quickly about this matter. I’m…I’m a little nervous about Richardson. He’s usually a good worker, but I can’t lie. He’s, uh, had some problems getting along with co-workers in the past. He’s always been a little…eccentric, I guess you could say. Anyway, I’m very worried about his mental state. He just wasn’t making much sense.”

“I understand,” I said, “Is he here today?”

Mr. McAdams sighed and shook his head. “Nope. He called out. That’s the thing, too. He’s always calling out. Well, many times he doesn’t even call anymore. He called this time, though. I think he knows I’m concerned. And…Dr. Williams, that officer that Richardson mentioned, the one who he said was brutally murdered…he hasn’t been to work in three days.”

It was late in the afternoon. Most people had left work already, but I had set up a meeting with my friend in Human Resources who often worked well into the evenings.

I crossed into the administration building, brushing my auburn curls out of my face. It never looked good to run; it got people nervous. Running was reserved for emergencies. I should not have been in any particular hurry except that every hour that passed, I felt a sense of urgency and dread in the pit of my stomach.

I opened the single glass door to the Human Resources Department, which was devoid of any decoration with the exception of some posters sloppily taped to plain white walls advertising the importance of teamwork and pride. I took a left and entered the main corridor of the department, which was lined with small offices. I swung into the second one on the right and plopped in a chair, ugly and cushioned with thin green material.

Nancy sat in front of me. She and I had been friends for a long time. We didn’t often get together after work, but we had good conversations. I admired her work ethic and she was always kind to me.

“Hey,” she greeted me from behind the small wooden desk that looked like it had been a do-it-yourself project. It probably had been with the prison’s budget.

“Hi,” I said, practically breathless.

Nancy politely ignored my disheveled appearance from my rush over here. “So you had a question about a new officer, right?”

I nodded. “Yes, a concern actually.”

Nancy sat back in her black swivel chair. She rotated back and forth ever so slightly and drummed her red polished nails on the cheap desk. Her nails matched her rosy cheeks and her eyes were bright. Bright with excitement perhaps or intrigue. Nothing exciting happened in Human Resources so anything I brought to her, however small, was probably a step up.

“Candice, after you called, I checked with Lieutenant Howard. He said Officer Daniels missed three shifts in a row, including today, with no phone call or anything. Lieutenant Howard said he made an attempt to call Daniels each time, but received no answer on his cell phone. Finally, he called his home number and his girlfriend said she hasn’t heard from him. She lives with him, but apparently they had a fight so she assumed he hadn’t been coming home because he was still mad at her. She thought maybe he was staying somewhere else. Anyway, she got sufficiently nervous after Lieutenant Howard called her and so she filed a missing person’s report with the police. She called back over to Howard to tell him that she had done so after she called numerous friends and was not able to determine his whereabouts. She’s a wreck.”

I didn’t know what to say. My mind was racing. “So what do you do in a case like this? I guess he keeps his job here until we find out where he is?”

Nancy nodded slowly. “Yeah, I mean, he can’t be fired, even during his probationary year, if he’s missing, Candice.” She smiled slightly.

I didn’t smile. I couldn’t. I was scared.

When I didn’t say anything, she continued, “You called me to ask about this officer, but you never said why. What’s going on?”

“Unfortunately, I can’t say. Please know it’s an Employee Assistance issue.” I responded, wishing I could say more, but required to keep the issue confidential in my role as a psychologist.

“I completely understand. I hope everything works out. You know, you don’t look so good.”

I weakly waved my hand at her as if waving away the issue. “No, I’m fine. I’m just thinking, I guess.”

“Go home, Candice. In fact, I’m going to take my own advice. I’ll walk out with you,” Nancy said, moving her hand over to her computer, shutting it down.

She got up from her chair and grabbed her pale blue coat where it was slung over papers on a nearby table. She squeezed her slightly overweight frame between the desk and table, and stood over me expectantly as I got up from the chair. It had been nice to just sit down.

We walked out of the department and made our way past the front security desk, waving goodbye to the officer stationed there, before pushing open the double glass doors leading outside…leading right smack dab into a dead body.

“What the…” I said, looking at the mess in front of me. I heard Nancy gasp as I stared ahead at the blood—albeit not a tremendous amount—leading to the small road, practically a path, that circled the entire circumference of the prison. On that road, the mobile patrol car had come to a halt and Officer Preston, the officer manning it, stood directly in front of it, staring at what appeared to be human remains.

It was eerily silent. No one said anything. I looked at Nancy who stood still with her hand over her mouth, looking terrified. Suddenly, behind us, the door swung open, causing Nancy and me to jump. The front desk officer stood there, emulating our surprised and horrified expressions.

“What the fuck?” He said.

“I just…I just found this…whatever it is. Is it an animal?” Officer Preston asked, his voice shaking.

“No,” I said, “It’s human. When did you find…it?” I asked, finding my voice and contemplating the next step, but not knowing what the heck to do.

“I just…I was driving around. It wasn’t here just twenty minutes ago, on my last round. I stopped the car just before you ladies came out.” He grabbed his head in both his hands, looking like he wanted to rip it off. I could tell he was getting ready to become undone so I mustered whatever strength I had, went over to him, placed my hands gently around him to guide him away from the scene and back into the building. I had him take a seat inside. Then I fumbled my way through the longest night I had ever had.

It was five o’clock in the morning. I opened the door to my home, empty and dark. I was exhausted and tired from answering questions all night. Nothing happened in this town so, when something does happen, it’s surprising. But at least I felt it made things go quicker. In a town where nothing happens, everything is rushed and eager. Everyone wants answers and they want it five minutes ago. And that’s why they were able to determine the identity of the body so quickly. And that’s why we knew the body belonged to Officer Daniels. Despite the gore and despite the fact that much of the body appeared to be missing, there was still a set of teeth, which by some miracle of miracles, was mostly intact. Officer Daniels had been dead for a few days based on a report from forensics.

I closed the door behind me and leaned against it, wishing I could just collapse right there. Instead, I shook off my shoes, complete with the blood I hadn’t had the time to clean off and wandered up the carpeted staircase to my bedroom, knowing there was just one more thing I had to do before I could shut my eyes and reach sweet, sweet bliss brought on by sleep. I reached my bedroom, tore off my blouse and black pants, my underwear and bra, and replaced it all with a light pink tank top and sweatpants. I crawled into bed and grabbed the phone from my nightstand. This couldn’t wait.

“Hi, this is Dr. Williams…is this Mr. Richardson?”

I awoke at noon. I had no clue what had disrupted my slumber. At first, I just tried to go back to sleep, thinking Mr. Richardson’s account of a terrible murder was invading my thoughts, but then I heard a noise that seemed to come from downstairs. It sounded like a crash and then like plastic brushing against plastic or some other kind of fabric. I heard a screech from what sounded like an animal and my heart stilled. Then only seconds later I heard a window break. I gripped the bed and ever so slowly reached for my phone on the nightstand. Then Fuck that and grabbed my gun from the nightstand. Ever so slowly, I walked into the hallway and headed down the stairs. The first step creaked and I inwardly cringed. There was no other noise now. Just quiet.

I took a deep breath and continued. When I was mid-way down the stairs, I saw it. I screamed, gun in hand, and ran back up the stairs, grabbed my phone and called the police. I told them what was lying on my kitchen floor. No, who was lying on my kitchen floor.

“This is Candice Williams, Richmont Road. I have—I have a body in my house, on my floor. I know the victim. I have no idea what happened. Please…please come quickly.”

“Nancy, it’s Mr. Richardson. I saw him. I had just spoken with him when I got home from work. It was early. I woke at noon and he was on my floor, half eaten, but I could see his face and I knew it was him. I’m so scared.”

Nancy put her arm around me. She had just asked for the third time if I was sure it was Mr. Richardson despite the fact that she knew the body had been identified and despite the fact that I had told her seven thousand times that I had seen his face very, very clearly. I had told her the part that troubled me the most because I had to tell someone: I told her that I believed what Mr. Richardson had told me. It was crazy, but then the whole thing didn’t make any sense. And it couldn’t have been a coincidence that his body ended up on my floor after I spoke with him. He knew something. And now I knew something.

We were sitting on a bed in a hotel room, side by side. It was nearly midnight and I didn’t know how much more I could take. I knew I was at my limit. Too many bodies, too little time. I couldn’t go back home. Emotionally, I couldn’t stand to see the gore on my floor. I knew I couldn’t look at the broken kitchen window through which the perpetrator had likely escaped. I couldn’t handle anymore questions from the police. As paranoid as I was about it, the police clearly didn’t think I had anything to do with it. Maybe they figured no one can act as scared as I clearly was. I didn’t know. But they did ask me a ton of questions before allowing me to leave. My house was covered in crime scene tape and someone had been nice enough to board up my window. I briefly wondered if anyone had cleaned my kitchen…

“Do you want me to stay with you?” Nancy asked quietly.

I shook my head. “No, just coming here for a bit is good enough. Go home to your family. Your kids miss you and you’ve already been through enough, too.”

Nancy was quiet for a moment before replying. “You know, Candice, a day off might do you some good. I hope I don’t see you in work tomorrow.”

“I have to go in. There are a ton of staff who will be upset and who will want to talk to someone. I need to be able to speak with them. Plus, I’m sure administration will have a ton of questions of their own. I have to go.” I said.

Nancy just shook her head and, despite everything, smiled a little.

“What?” I asked.

Then she burst out laughing.

“What?” I said, looking at her with what must have been a confused or horrified—I didn’t know which—expression on my face.

“It’s just that—I always said that someone has to literally die before you’d take a day off…and now…” Nancy stopped talking so she could laugh in my face.

I rolled my eyes and before I knew it, I was smiling, too. It felt so good.

“And now, someone has died, and you still won’t miss work!” Nancy said, remaining in hysterics.

“That’s me,” I said, “I need a hobby, I guess. I mean, besides finding dead bodies.”

It was eleven in the morning the next day. I had slept until nine and then decided to drive to work. I sat in my office, staring vacantly, unable to do anything. It was quiet, but I could hear the rustle of plastic…on plastic…or something plastic-like. I froze. When I looked up, she was there, right in front of my desk, standing over me.

“Can I get you anything? You want coffee?” Ms. Walker asked.

“N-no, I just—I’ll just drink my water,” I stammered. I held up the bottle in front of me and mustered a smile. All the while, I thought I was going to pee my pants. Shit, I thought, as I felt urine trickle down my beige slacks. I stood abruptly, surprised by the warmth on my leg, but Ms. Walker, from her position in front of me, threw me back into my seat.

“Listen to me, BITCH!” Ms. Walker screamed, her voice taking on a demonic quality as her dark hair grew thicker and longer before my eyes. I was stunned by her strength, so much so that I had trouble focusing and could barely comprehend my situation.

When I looked at her, dazed, I could see the red eyes and the fangs…and there was a scent…lilacs. I recalled what Mr. Richardson, in his panicked and seemingly paranoid state, had told me. “I began following them at night. I watched them. The red eyes…oh my God, the red eyes…and their huge fucking teeth. There was a leader and she had a scent…like flowers maybe, like lilacs, but they all had them. All of them. They ate him, they ate him. They knelt by that guy and they literally just sunk those fangs into him. He was screaming! I know you don’t believe me. Who would? I won’t tell you who the women are. Why would I? So you could laugh at me? But I know what I saw and I know evil when I see it!”

From somewhere deep within myself, I knew this was fight or die. I just felt blessed to be in a place where there was hope because help was around the corner.

“HELP! HELP!” I hit my radio that I carried on the belt around my waist and an alarm activated throughout the building.

Ms. Walker came around the desk quickly and grabbed a clump of hair, throwing me against the wall. She was coming for me again and I could see her long claws, her wild eyes, and her grotesque scaly face. I dove right at her and took her to the ground. I could feel her claws as they slashed across my back as she tried to grab onto me. The desk was in front of me. I grabbed a pen and, as I was about to jam it into her eye, she managed to get me under her. She held down my arms so that they were pinned to my sides.

“I always liked you, Dr. Williams. I always thought we’d make an excellent team before you started asking questions. I was merely trying to get rid of the slime who preyed on us. Men like that never wanted us around here, walking around like they own the place. Fuck them. I’m stronger than they are, I’m smarter than they are.” Ms. Walker practically screamed, her foul-smelling breath hot on my face. I shrunk away as her fangs came toward my face.

Then I heard it. The most beautiful sound of all. Keys on belts accompanied by footsteps and yelling. Tears were streaming down my face as it took five strong men and one strong woman to lift Ms. Walker off of me. By my own account, I don’t know what happened after that. I passed out, letting the darkness envelope me.

Five days later, I sat in front of an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I had already been through several rounds of questioning. I knew this was it and I was relieved. They had detained Ms. Walker and she was now at a medical facility being treated for what they believed—but what I knew to be incorrect—was exposure to rabies. I tried to reason with everyone who disagreed, which was mostly the FBI agents who merely wanted to be done with this whole thing so they could go home to their families. I couldn’t blame them, but I had to try to speak my piece. After all, who were the other women who worked with Ms. Walker to complete the killing? I told them about the fangs and the claws. Some of them laughed at me even though the correctional officers who had responded to my emergency saw it, too. I had spoken with them and they all had the same confused, desperate expressions on their faces, even several days later. Aside from that, the only other person who believed me—or said she believed me—was Nancy. Everyone else, especially the warden, keeping in mind my good reputation and solid work ethic, believed that the assault following the discovery of the body on my floor had emotionally scarred me and driven me to hallucinate. How’s that for diagnosing the psychologist? “Dr. Williams, there’s nothing a good vacation can’t do for anyone! Take the next couple of weeks off, on us. You can have administrative leave; you don’t even have to use your own time! How does that sound? But we need you back once you’re rested.” [Wink]

I had seen enough to know I wasn’t psychotic or having some sort of “episode”. I sighed as my interview ended. I crossed the lobby to the front door, but I could feel someone’s eyes on me. I turned around to see Nancy standing beside the agent who had questioned me the other day and who had been interviewing another woman today…one of several agents who had laughed at my story.

Nancy smiled as she looked at me. I could see fangs. I could see the smile around her blood red eyes.

“NOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed as I tried to lunge at the agent to move him away from her. I didn’t get to him in time and I watched in horror as she sank her fangs into the poor agent’s right cheek…

Bio: I am currently a prison psychologist and my story is a fictitious account of the prison environment. The story’s protagonist, Dr. Williams, is also a prison psychologist who confronts the deaths of two correctional workers, leading her down a sinister path.

My professional career has allowed me the opportunity to publish academic material in the psychology literature. Writing works of fiction is a hobby of mine, something merely fed by my work. I have one other publication, Housing Unit Four, which was published in November of 2011 by Dark Moon Digest.

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A Wish for Mama by Julie Minicozzi

May 12 2013 Published by under The WiFiles

Now that she’s had them a long time, Mama appreciates her second set of eyes. But twenty years ago when it first happened, Mama didn’t like the new eyes in the back of her head, not one bit. She had always said she needed them, so I thought she’d be happy that I used my one-and-only wish for her. But, Mama never liked anything I did, even when I was trying to be good, trying to be nice.

Looking back as an adult, I suppose I can understand why she reacted the way she did. Having to get two sets of glasses, standing still as she tried to figure out if she was coming or going, seeing the previously obscured expressions of those behind her must have been initially disconcerting, to say the least. But that was no reason for her to stop functioning completely. Even as a four year old, I could see so many possibilities – driving the car in reverse without turning around, watching her daily soaps while ironing, standing in the middle of the super-market aisles and seeing all of the signs without turning around. But Mama was overwhelmed initially, unable to process what had happened. When they first grew, it was like she didn’t see at all. I can still picture her blank glare…

“Maaaaa-ma. Mama. Mom-mom. Mama! It’s me, Janie.”

I wave my hand at her face and then at the back of her head. She almost looks at me both times, but she doesn’t see me, I guess. “I wannet ta help, Mama,” I whisper, tugging on her shirt hem with one hand and running the other hand up my snotty button nose. My peach eyelet halter top is sweaty, the fabric by the armpits a brownish-gold color. The denim shorts I’m wearing are too small, and the waistband cuts into my tummy. My purple jelly sandals are caked with grime that matches the sludge under my toenails. The ponytail I wrestled my stringy blonde hair into this morning is falling out, as I can’t properly fasten a butterfly hair-tie.

I crane my neck to one side, then the other, trying to get her to notice me. But Mama won’t look at me – not with either set. She just stares into the dining room mirror and at the television in the family room. Doesn’t seem like she sees anything, though. She just sits and watches, not really watching. Her tulip house dress – the same one she’s worn all week –makes her collarbone look like a wire hanger. She has a moccasin on one foot and her other foot is bare, revealing chipping fuchsia paint on her toe nails. Her skin is grayish, and reminds me of a dolphin I saw last summer at the “quarum,” as I call it. Mama’s hair is dark and oily and matted to the sides of her head and face, with twisted tendrils running down her cheeks like party streamers.

Four days have passed already and she still won’t leave the kitchen barstool, other than to schlump over to the bathroom occasionally, or shuffle over to the sink for a sip of water. No food; just water. Pa is due back from his business trip any minute, and I can’t help but think he is going to be mad. Real mad.

The house is a mess, with bowls from the cereal I ate for the first couple days and cups from Mama’s slim-quick shakes that I’ve drank the last couple days piled in the sink. Two days ago, the bathroom toilet clogged and spilled over onto the floor, the water making a flowery stain on the hardwood outside the bathroom where I put Mama’s good towels down to sop it up. I always use too much paper to wipe, which Mama tells me not to do, but I don’t listen – and she isn’t reminding me now. Not knowing where to go, I’ve been doing numbers one and two in the bathtub. Mama has been, too, since she’s not thinking right. The living area smells like the bathrooms at the beach. It’s hot inside, too. A layer of dust that Mama has never before allowed coats her knickknacks, tables, and fixtures. The house looks like no one cares, no one tries. But I do care. I did try. I tried to help Mama.

The car engine sputters to silence in the garage and my stomach feels funny, achy and tickly all together. Mama stays put, still looking at the mirror and TV. I hear Pa singing a tune – Alexander’s Rag Time Band – and I suddenly can’t wait to give him a big hug; I’ve missed him so.

The kitchen door opens and Pa comes bounding through, briefcase in one hand, newspaper in the other, and his eyeglasses still dark from being in the sun. His wavy, sandy-colored hair has been mussed by the wind, his face is reddish and shiny, and his shirtsleeves are rolled up, revealing tan and hairy forearms. He sees me and flashes a sparkling smile.

“Hey Peanut,” he shouts, dropping his briefcase and the newspaper by the door and extending his arms to me.

I run toward him, but he pulls his arms to his chest and stands straight up.

Running into his legs, I grip and hug him, and clamp my eyes shut.

“Jesus Christ. Oh Jesus. Oh God, Annie,” he whimpers. I feel his legs shimmy.

I peek over at Mama. She doesn’t move; she doesn’t look at him – not with either set.

Pa pushes me to the side and walks up to Mama and stares at her head, looking into her eyes and then around and into her other eyes.

“What ha—,” Pa chokes and turns to me, kneeling down in front of me and grabbing my arms hard. His smoky glasses are beginning to fade clear. “How… what… how?”

The tears feel hot running down my cheeks, and my neck is on fire. Pa grips my arms so tight they felt tingly. The words burst out of me. “I din’t mean it, I wannet to help! The man say I get a wish!”

Pa rips his glasses off and throws them; they clack against the wall. “What? What man, what wish,” he growls, shaking me, hurting my arms.

“The big man,” I cry, afraid of Pa’s red eyes and hot breath. My words speed up as I go on, “He gave a wish for me, say I was good girl. I wish to give Mama somethin’ but I donno what. The man say, ‘what she say she aways need?’ I say, ‘eyes in the backa her head,’ an’ he say, ‘it done,’ an’ I hear Mama screamin’. I wanna help Mama. I trya be nice!”

Pa stands up and steps away, holding his forehead. He turns and wrestles the phone off its cradle.
“I need an ambulance. 251 Stratford Place, Mirror Lake. My wife. Her eyes… I … hurry. Please.” …

It was another week before Mama started seeing again, really seeing. The doctors didn’t say what made her fall into catatonia like that; no one had ever gotten a second set of eyes before, so they didn’t know how one should react. It took a long time for the doctors and head shrinkers to get Mama used to what they dubbed, “quatra-vision.”

The day Pa came home, I remember the police officer gave me a cola, which Mama never before let me have so I instantly felt naughty. He said it was okay, though, and then asked me all about the big man. But there wasn’t much to tell – he was big and tall with dark glasses and a hat. I did remember one more thing – he had a shiny, gold tooth, but I didn’t tell the police officer that, and I still don’t know why. The police looked for the big man, but they never did find him. I saw him a year ago when I got married, but I didn’t tell anyone. Mama saw him, too, but she didn’t know who he was. As I recited my vows, I noticed him standing in the back of the church, flashing his gold tooth at Mama’s back-eyes.

Bio: I am a graduate of William Paterson University, with a degree in English, writing concentration. I have had poetry published in The Zeitgeist, an on-campus literary journal at William Paterson University, and I have had several creative works and critical papers published in campus writing contest journals.

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The Door by Jennifer Cox

May 05 2013 Published by under The WiFiles

“Hey Michael, can you grab the other end of this?” Stanley says, attempting to lift the heavy antique dresser. It is the final piece of furniture that needs to be removed from the guest room. “Sure, you know you really should have taken this wallpaper down a long time ago.” says Michael grabbing the other end, “It was cruel to subject your guests to such a hideous design.” “Hmmf” a noise escapes Stanley’s mouth that’s simultaneously a grunt and a laugh. “Is that why it’s been so long since you came to visit?” “You guys getting any work done in there?” A female voice says from down the hall. “This baby can only wait so long.”

When they had found out that Lily was pregnant they were overjoyed, even though it hadn’t exactly been planned. Now, they were in the process of transforming the guest room into a nursery. Stanley’s brother Michael had come to help. Today they were planning to remove the wallpaper that had been there since they had moved into the house five years ago. Although it was truly hideous, they had never felt the need to remove it before. In fact they had grown to have a strange affection for it. Still, the idea of raising a child in that room without some serious changes was out of the question.

“Hey,” Michael says startling Stanley out of his day dream “Let’s get to work.” Stanley takes one last look around the room before sighing and saying, “Alright, let’s get started.” The two brothers began peeling off the aging wallpaper. When they completely clear the paper from the first wall, Stanley notices something strange peeking out from behind the paper on the next wall. “Michael check this out, I think there’s something under here.” Stanley says as he begins to pull away the paper. “It looks like a little door.” Michael kneels down next to Stanley and looks down at what he’s doing. What he sees is a door, but one which no human being could have ever fit through. It measures approximately one foot tall by eight inches wide, and appears to be made of wood painted a dark green color. There is a gold plated key hole, but no knob.

Millions of questions flood Stanley’s mind. Who put this door here? When? Why? Who, or what, could have possibly been using it? But only one comes out of his mouth “How do we open it?” Michael gives his brother a strange look “Open it? Why would we wanna do that? Besides who says it even opens? Why don’t we just get on with our work and forget about it.” Stanley flashes his brother an equally strange look. “Forget it? Come on, aren’t you even the least bit curious?”

“Curious about what?” They had both been so involved in what they were doing that neither of them had noticed Lily walk into the room. They look up at her in unison and say “That.” pointing towards the door. She leans in as best she can with her newly protruding belly and takes a closer look. “It looks like something out of a fairy tale.” Stanley leans back in next to his wife and gives the door a nudge. It doesn’t move. He pushes it harder and still it won’t budge. “I think you need the key.” Lily says simply.

Stanley lays down flat on his stomach and puts his face up against the door. “Well maybe I can see something through the keyhole.” Despite the dusty smell of age coming from the wood there are no visible signs of aging anywhere on the door. The paint looks fresh and the gold keyhole sparkles as if polished. When he looks through the keyhole what he sees is not just one thing. It is everything. “Well,” says Michael “What do you see in there?”

“Nothing,” Stanley says with a grunt as he returns to a standing position. “It must just be some sort of decoration. There’s nothing on the other side but more wall.”

“Really? You were looking through it for quite a while. It seemed like something was getting your attention.” Michael bends over to look through the hole. “Hmm” he says as he peers through the door, “I guess there really is nothing to it. Should we try to take it down?”

“No!” cries Stanley a little too passionately. “I mean I kind of like it. Let’s just leave it there for now and go back to work on the rest of the room.”

“That’s fine with me, as long as the room is ready to go before this baby is!” With that they leave the subject behind and get back to work,

It takes them just three days to completely transform the former guest room into a shining new nursery, and just a couple of days after that Michael is on his way home. In all the excitement the door is all but forgotten.

Until one night when Lily wakes up to use the bathroom and notices that Stanley isn’t in bed with her. She walks up to the bathroom door and knocks, “Stanley,” she says as she pushes on the door “I hate to hurry you, but I don’t think I can hold,,,:” She breaks off there when the door opens and she sees that the bathroom is in fact empty. Suddenly her urge to use the restroom is replaced by a strange shiver that starts at the base of her spine and works its way up to her brain. “Stanley?” she repeats with a lot less confidence. She turns away from the bathroom and a flash of light catches her eye from down the hall. She walks out into the hallway and notices that the light is coming from the nursery. “What are you doing in there?” she says as she turns the corner, but she is once again greeted by an empty room. There is nothing there but a fading light coming from the all but forgotten door. She can’t say why but this light fills her with a deep feeling of dread.

She makes her way slowly back to the bedroom. “Stanley?” she says yet again this time not expecting any sort of response. She doesn’t get one, but she notices a lump on Stanley’s side of the bed. She walks slowly towards the bed and lifts the sheet not knowing what she expects to find. What she sees there is the familiar form of Stanley’s sleeping body. Instead of feeling a sense of relief her dread only deepens. She is sure that he was not there when she left and there is no way he could have gotten back into the bedroom without passing her in the hall. She does her best to shake this feeling and crawls back into bed. It takes her almost 2 hours to fall back to sleep.

When she wakes up in the morning Stanley is once again not in bed, but this time the door to the bathroom is open and she can see him at the sink brushing his teeth. Stanley spits into the sink, “Good morning sleepyhead. I was trying not to wake you.” Lily sits up slowly and rubs her eyes, “You didn’t.” she says with a yawn. His face drops in concern. “Did you sleep okay?” he asks “You look a little off.” “Fine,” she says waving a hand dismissively before turning the question on him. “What about you?” “Actually I can’t remember the last time I had such a good night’s sleep.” he says turning off the bathroom light and joining Lily on the bed. “Although, I had a really weird dream.” “About what?” “That’s the thing, I can’t really remember.” He says with a distant look in his eyes. “I just have a vague sense of light and being surrounded by…” he breaks off and the look in his eyes grows even more distant. “Surrounded by what?’ Lily asks nervously. “Hmm” Stanley shakes his head as if to clear it, “Nothing, it was just a dream.” he says as he gets up and continues to get dressed. “Anyway, I’m gonna be late for work if I don’t get going soon.” He gives her a kiss on the forehead before heading out the bedroom door. “Maybe you should just stay in bed for a while. You look like you could use the rest.”

Lily is so lost in thought that she hardly even notices Stanley leaving the room. Her distraction is so complete that only in the back of her mind does the sound of Stanley’s car pulling out of the driveway even register. The strange light from that door mixed with that almost haunted look in Stanley’s eyes weighs on her mind. She decides to get up and investigate the door for herself.

She picks up her robe and makes her way down the hall, “Ok” she says to herself “There’s nothing to worry about.” She laughs, “Except of course that I’m talking to myself.” She opens the door and walks into the nursery, unconsciously placing her hand on her belly. The room is bathed in an eerie glow, but the only visible source of light is the large window directly opposite the door. Lily walks over to the little green door and pokes at it with her foot as if it might bite. When nothing happens she taps it once again before carefully crouching down to examine it more closely. She touches it gently with her fingertips as if she expects it to be hot. It isn’t. In fact it feels like perfectly normal wood. She runs her fingers down its smoothly polished surface. She looks through the hole and sees nothing but darkness.

Her sense of dread is slowly replaced by a feeling of embarrassment. She was being ridiculous. Of course there was nothing behind the door. How could there be? There were four inches at the most between the wall and the next room. She begins to stand up but is stopped by an intense pain in her abdomen. She once again moves her hand towards her stomach but the pain is gone almost as quickly as it had come. She continues to stand, more cautiously now. She manages to get all the way to her feet and there is still no sign of the pain. She takes two tentative steps before feeling a strange warm sensation covering her legs. She has to look down before she realizes that what she is feeling is in fact wetness. Her water has broken and she is going into labor. Almost a month early. She manages to remain calm long enough to reach the phone.

Sitting in the hospital 24 hours later holding her new baby, all thoughts of the door are distant and insignificant. Stanley is by her side and her new family is as it should be. Although the baby was born prematurely, she is in all other aspects perfectly healthy. Stanley kisses his wife and new baby. “I hate to leave, but Michael should be getting in soon and I wanted to meet him at the house.” “Oh..well, If you think you should…” Lily says weakly. “If you think I should stay…” Stanly begins but Lily interrupts “No, Stan, I’m just being selfish Go ahead and meet Michael at the house. I feel like taking a nap anyway.”

When Michael arrives at his brother’s house he is weary but filled with excitement. He rings the door bell but gets no response. He rings it again and still there is nothing. “Maybe they forgot about me” he thinks without any real bad feelings. After all it was understandable that they would have more important things on their minds. He tries the doorknob not really expecting any results, but to his surprise the door opens easily. “Hey Stanley.” he calls out. “Stan It’s me. Are you in there?” Still there is no response. Michael walks into the house and sets his luggage by the door. He tries calling for his brother one last time before looking though the house to make sure no one else had been in the house.

When he ascends the stairs and nears the door to the nursery he hears voices. He stops in his tracks afraid that someone nefarious may be in the house. He listens for a while, struggling to hear what is being said. Finally, he recognizes his brother’s voice and his paralysis is broken. “Hey Stan, you scared the hell out of…” his statement is cut short when he sees Stanley crouched down in front of the little door apparently talking to himself. “Who are you talking to.” Stanley turns around and says what sounds like “…found the key.” then appears to realize who he is talking to and says “Hey Michael I didn’t hear you come in. Glad you’re here.” He hugs his brother who only half heartedly throws his arms around him. “Who were you talking to Stan and what was that about a key?” “What? Oh nothing. Hey we should get to the hospital. Lily is waiting.” Stanley says as he pats his brother on the back and heads out the door. “Yeah but…” Michael tries to argue before simply following his brother out the door.

In the car on the way to the hospital Michael tries questioning his brother again. “So what were you talking about back there in the nursery?” With a laugh Stanley says, “Oh I don’t know. I just went in there to double check that everything was ready and then,,,” he trails off, “Well, I don’t really remember. I must have been daydreaming or something. The next thing I remember is you standing behind me. Why didn’t you ring the bell, I would have come down and let you in.” Michael gives his brother a strange look before saying. “ I rang the doorbell twice and no one responded. So, I tried the door and it opened.” “Hmm” Staley says with a shrug. “Must have been some day dream.” A distant look enters his eyes, “I thought I locked that door.”

They are quiet the rest of the way to the hospital. Once there, Michael is glad to see Lily and excited to meet his new niece. However he remains distracted, waiting for a moment to talk to Lily alone. The moment finally arrives when Stanley steps out to get coffee. “Hey Lily,” Michael begins “Have you noticed Stanley acting a little weird lately?” Lily’s stomach does a flip. “What do you mean?” she says, although she has a pretty good idea. “Well, today when I got to the house I found him in the nursery crouched in front of that little door talking to himself and when I asked him about it later he couldn’t quite remember what he’d been doing there.” he paused. “And he got this look in his eyes like. I don’t know..” “Like he was possessed” Lily finishes for him. “Exactly! So, you have noticed.” She sighs, “Yes,..” But before she can finish the thought Stanley comes back into the room. “Hey guys,” he hands Michael his coffee and takes a seat. “What are you talking about?”

After one night in the hospital, Lily and the baby are able to go home. Putting Susannah into her new crib for the first time, Lily is sure she will never be able to leave her side. However Susannah quickly falls asleep and Lily finds she is struggling to stay awake herself. Instead of fighting it, she heads to bed. With Stanley laying next to her, Susannah in the next room, and Michael downstairs on the couch, Lily feels a deep sense of belonging and drifts off to sleep easily. She is soon awoken by the wailing infant cry from the next room. She sits up so quickly she nearly falls out of bed, but Stanley is already on his feet and heading out the door. “Don’t get up honey. I’ll bring her in to you.” he says as he leaves the room. Lily lays back down feeling lucky to have such a caring husband. But the seconds pass and turn into minutes and there is still no sign of Stanley.

“Stanley?” Lily calls questioningly “Is everything okay in there?” When there is no response she tries again, “Stanley?” before getting up and heading to the nursery. As soon as she stands up the crying comes to a sudden, complete stop and in its absence the silence is deafening. She rushes into the nursery just in time to see a sudden brilliant flash of light showing the outline of Stanley’s body holding up their baby as if in offering. The shock of the flash leaves her momentarily blind, but when her vision clears she can see that the room is now empty. Acting on instinct she heads towards the door, but it too is gone. There is nothing but solid wall in its place. The silence is broken by a wordless cry of misery and slowly, she realizes that it is coming from her own lips.

Bio:
Jennifer Cox received her master’s degree in Library & Information Science from San Jose State University. She currently resides in Long Beach, CA. Her fiction has appeared in the online journals Static Movement, Postcard Shorts, and Death Head Grin.

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