Everything You Know is a Lie

You receive a mysterious email and the subject line reads “Everything you know is a lie.” You open the email and read further: “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

Get two weeks worth of writing prompts that will inspire you to write great stories.Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

Want more creative writing prompts? Download:

The Writing Prompt Boot Camp (Free Download)

 

 

You might also like:

390 thoughts on “Everything You Know is a Lie

  1. rebekkalynn9800

    It was a chilling Saturday night. Nothing had gone as planned. Well, I suppose that working as a murder investigator, we expect thing to go wrong. The day went on with no mistakes. That is, until we started examining a recent murder. The victim was a 32 year old man named Mark. He had been strangled, but the killer left no prints. In fact, There was almost no evidence that anyone had been there except Mark. We brought the body back to our HQ, but we had car trouble along the way. Then as we were unloading into another vehicle, one of the police men slipped and ended up with concussion. Basically, everything that could go wrong, did. I went home after an exhausting day of mishaps and mistakes, but before I got dressed, I plopped down on the couch, never wanting to get up. I must have dosed off, because I was startled awake by a buzzing sound. I looked over at my smartphone and saw that I had an Email. It didn’t say who sent it, but the title caught my eye. >EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS A LIE< I was scared, but curiosity got the best of me. I opened the Email and read it, my eyes growing wider with each word,
    "Act calm as not to alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark."
    I sat on the couch in stunned silence. None of this made sense… Or did it? I re-read the Email and I noticed things I didn't the first time. "Mark" I whispered under my breath. The pieces fell into place just as I heard a pounding fist on my door. I got up and bolted out my back door. I went straight to the scene of the most recent crime. It was an old house, but I remembered it well. I went inside the front door that hung loosely on its hinges. I walked inside. I began to recall the moment. Me and my friends, Amy and Mark, had a sleepover here. I stood on the balcony but it had rotted away over time and collapsed from under me. I was knocked unconscious by the fall. When I woke up, Mark was doing CPR and was trying to get me to breath again. I was rushed to the hospital and there he confessed that he loved me. He also told me that after I fell I had stopped breathing and that he had brought me back using mouth-to-mouth. That was the closest I had ever come to kissing somebody and I had never done it since. About a year after that happened he moved away and I never saw him again. I jolted out of thoughts when I heard a sound coming from my right. No, not the right. Up. I looked up at the balcony and saw… "No, No! This can't be real!" I saw myself falling off the broken railing and crash into the floor. I brought my trembling hands to my face and sobbed. "What's, what's happening to me?" I asked myself. To my surprise, I got a reply. "You are finally seeing what really happened that night." I looked back up and saw Mark. He was standing, no, floating in front of me. I was so shocked to see him there when there was no one there before. "What do you mean?" I asked through tears. He knelt down, looked me in the eyes, and spoke in a voice so gentle, I felt strangely peaceful, "That day, when you fell off the balcony, I wasn't able to revive you. You died that day in my arms."
    "But I don't understand! I don't look like a-" I held up my hand and realized that it was transparent, "Ghost." He helped me to my feet and hugged me close. "I've come to take you home." Mark said calmly, "You have been living a lie. You never got a job, you never got a house, you never got a chance." He gestured to a light and I looked inside. It showed me the truth. I looked him in the eyes and said, "I would like to go home now." And so we walked into the light… and never looked back again.

  2. The Underwood

    Back about ten years ago, I received lots of emails from individuals with wonderfully extravagant names. They were not real people, of course, but pseudonyms smashed together by enterprising spambots armed with a dictionary, a randomizer, and an unstoppable urge to get badly written commercial messages advertising porn sites, get-rich-quick schemes, and herbal Viagra into my inbox. Still, it makes me proud to think that I’ve received a personal correspondence from individuals calling themselves Nevadans E. Rhinos and Copperhead M. Deliriously. I’m only slightly saddened that I couldn’t, in good conscience, write them back. The subject lines of these emails were great, too: they always referred to secrets I had to learn, naked women I had to see, money I had to make, and erections I was guaranteed to get. Grandiose and unabashedly power-hungry, they skipped the pretense and spoke directly to my id. Sentiments like “Life is Better with Money!” were pretty typical, as was stuff like “Leave the Losers Behind!” and “Live the Life You Were Meant For!” At the time, I was still in school and working third shift, driving an eleven-year-old car, and sharing a soon-to-be-condemned house with a guy whose long-term career plans hinged on the success a thrash-metal band. Hey, how did these bots know so much about me, anyway?

    At some point, the gearheads at Google or someplace developed an industrial-strength spam filter. Spammers adapted by filling their emails with random chunks of literary prose. The mails themselves ran on to Talmudic lengths, while the messages they contained, included after they’d delivered their all-caps sales pitch, suggested a dada approach to the Best American series. Upon opening an email from a stranger whose name had never once appeared in any phone book, anywhere, you’d be confronted by an indecipherable tangle of love affairs, personal reminiscences, dialogue, and miscellaneous description. It was as if the digital intelligence that animated these spambots had resigned itself to never passing the Turing Test and concluded that there was there really was no rhyme or reason to the way that people operated. What could be more human, then, than pages and pages of vivid, emotionally saturated randomness? Why not send out a mess of prose that described life in all of its glorious disorder and see if it struck a chord somewhere? People have given up their credit card numbers for far less.

    My email inbox is a better-regulated, if somewhat sadder, place these days: most of what I receive has to do with work, or with this or that family crisis. But I felt a hit of cheerful nostalgia when I opened my email account the other day — using my smartphone, natch — and saw an email that had “everything you know is a lie” in the subject line. “Oh,” I thought, “the old days are back.”

    As it happens, the message was from June, my ex-wife, whom I married about the time that those glorious names flooded my inbox. We divorced three years later, but since we’d had no children and nobody got anybody’s name tattooed on anything, it really wasn’t much of a breakup. She got the dog, which she’d brought to the marriage anyway, the car, and a mortgage that was still in its infancy. I was left with half of a shared bank account, a sense of freedom, and a conviction that it was finally time for me to join the real world. At the time, I considered it a pretty fair deal.

    We didn’t break up for the usual reasons: nobody cheated on anyone, and nobody got addicted to drugs. No dishes were thrown, and I can only remember one or two instances where we might have raised our voices at each other. It was, I suppose, another dreary case of irreconcilable differences. Junie is, and will always be, an extraordinary person, an impressive woman, and a being of light. We broke up when I concluded that I was neither extraordinary nor impressive nor particularly luminous. I discovered that I wanted an altogether more earthbound existence. I wanted to live, to breathe, to work, to rest, and to die in the surrounded by familiar things and familiar faces. June’s life was a series of adventures, of projects, of self-assigned quests, after which she would presumably become who she was meant to be. After four years of life with her, I began to crave the security of objects, the consolations of a routine, and the reward of a steady paycheck. My life isn’t much to boast about these days, but I do have all of those things.

    Anyway, back to the email. It was written, coincidentally, in the verbose, heavily ornamented style of latter-day spam. “Tom,” it started out, “as I write, a storm’s blowing. The birds took shelter a few minutes ago, the air has that lightning smell, and the sky’s as dark as anything. It’s going to be a good one. The weather’s been changeable lately, like my own life, like everything. It’s been so many months since we laid eyes on each other, and I’ve been going through some life changes, real pull-up-the-roots stuff, and I hope to be able to plant myself in more fertile soil soon. I’ve been through some difficulties, some tough transits, but I’m feeling lighter and freer than ever now. I’ll be moving to Napa soon. My current partner knows some people there, and they’ve got something going in organics now. It’s not all wine tours and artisanal olive oil out there you know. I was out there three weeks ago to see their operation, and I think that it might really be the place. I felt so at peace there.

    But there is something that’s been holding me back, something from the past that I haven’t really let go, and you know that nothing steals today from us like thoughts of yesterday. I’ve lied to you so many times, mostly by omission, but I’ve forgiven myself for that. I’ve faced up to my own imperfections. But I’ve decided that I still owe you something, and so I’ve decided to come clean, to tell the truth, as I see it, to cleanse myself. Everything you know is a lie.

    I mean, I don’t know how you feel about me now, or if you think of me at all. But I heard, through some friends of ours that I still talk to, that some unkind things got said by some of the people we used to hang out with. Not by you, necessarily, but still. Those people didn’t know what they were talking about. They really didn’t. But I know how it looked, and I know how people can be. They don’t really see, or really search, and if they need an answer for something, they’ll just take whatever’s available. Those sorts of people make me so tired. Such awful vibes. They don’t have any fucking idea why I took off, though, why I left you. They don’t. And neither do you, really, though maybe you deserved to know.

    I left you because I lost a baby. I had a miscarriage, or a spontaneous termination, which was the way the doctors put it. It was in the summer before I left, like, seven or eight months before the end. It would have been — it was — a boy. I’d known that I was pregnant for six weeks, but I wanted to wait to be sure, because losing babies kind of runs in my family and I didn’t know if I could be a mom. Well, maybe I was right to wait, because I guess I wasn’t meant to do the mom thing. You were working nights then, I think, and were so busy, and it happened when you were out. I cleaned it up and went to the emergency room and then it was all just too hard to explain. I can’t remember some parts of the next few weeks all that well, but sometimes I dream of a face that might belong to our son. He seems happy, and has your eyes, and hair like my dad had in the old photos I’ve seen of him, but I don’t know. You can’t tell about dreams, really.

    After it happened, and after I left, I did a bunch of things to try to cope, to get some closure. Some of them were real mistakes, and some of them kinda helped. I don’t know. They tell me it’s a process. But I do sometimes think of what life with you and our son might have been like. I try imagining him at different ages, and try to imagine you growing older. That’s difficult, too. I gave him a name, because he was a little person and so I think he deserves a name. It’s Anthony, after my grandfather. I know that he needs a middle name, but I can’t really decide on one. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I go through combinations, trying to figure out what name should follow Anthony, trying to figure out how each combination of names might have affected his life. Some cultures put a lot of emphasis on names, you know. But nothing seems to fit. I can’t come up with a full name for him.

    And sometimes I try to measure the distance between the life I’m leading now and my life with you and Anthony. Sometimes I think that I’d be about the same person I am now, and sometimes I feel so far away from that person that we’re separated from each other by this immense distance, filled with water, or that we’re looking at each other across a big, flat field. I’m here and she’s just this little tiny speck, waving at me in the distance, and we’re somehow getting further and further away from each other. I keep waving to her, but you can only keep that up for so long.

    But I thought that you should know. You would have been Anthony’s dad. I want you to know that I’m sure that you would have been a good one. And now I guess you know it all. Well, there’s always more, right? More things that we could say. But I needed to tell you this, and maybe it’ll give you a little clarity. Maybe some peace. Write me back, Tom. Your now ex-wife, Junie.”

    I was actually sitting on the porch of the little two-room apartment that I live in now when I read June’s message, which looks out onto the apartment complex’s parking lot and probably doesn’t add too much to its property value. After I was done reading, I put down the phone for a minute and just looked at the cars shimmer in the afternoon heat, an angry sun glaring at me from every car window. I felt a twinge of nausea, as if my Adam’s apple was growing, getting too big for my throat. And then I felt a little wave of sweat break out across my shoulder blades, and the feeling passed. I looked at my phone’s screen again, at June’s sign-off. For a minute, the screen looked absurdly small, too tiny to contain the news it held.

    I went back into my apartment. There were some dishes to be washed and I decided, at that moment, to wash them. I did them automatically, and thought back to my time with June. Four years may not be much time in the grand scheme of things, but I’m still a young-enough man to think that it doesn’t seem so, and there were so many moments I could remember. I saw her chopping onions at our kitchen counter as she shouted along to an Otis Redding song. I saw her on a beach we visited during our big trip out West. She was smoking a joint, her skin lit up gold and her eyes liquid and heavy. I saw her in the supermarket, running her fingers expertly over the cantaloupes, determined to find a good one, her eyes flashing with mock-serious concentration. These were familiar memories, moments that I’d consciously rescued from a marriage not meant to be. They were souvenirs from a future that I’d once planned for myself, and for her, but my divorce had made them hard to relate to: they corresponded to absolutely nothing in my present existence. June’s memory could still stir up a curious sort of disinterested fondness in me, underneath which I sometimes sensed a little cavity, an unfillable space that her leaving had carved out in me. She had had to go. She could not have stayed. I knew that June was still a part of me, or rather that the lack of her was, but also she was gone forever, adrift on the swells of some barely manageable emotion: grief or loss or hope or need. I finished the dishes and experienced a ripple of pleasure when my fingertips skidded on the slippery surface of a perfectly washed glass as I moved it to the drying rack and then recovered their grip. I placed the glass carefully in the rack, suddenly conscious of its fragility.

    June was still out there. I imagined her walking the streets near the apartment we used to share. It was raining and night-time, and she was wrapped up in her heavy brown coat, her hair covered by a shawl but her face was exposed to a biting wind, and her cheeks wet with drizzle and tears, and her eyes blazed. The thousand impossible paths her life might have taken whipped around her, the whine of the wind tormented her ears. She could have been an artist. Or a chef. Or a designer, or, I suppose, a mother. And I could have been a father.

    A feeling of uneasiness crept over me again. I imagined that the loss of her baby, of our son, now left me a duty that would forever go unfulfilled. No one was asking me to go shopping for a stroller, or learn how to change a diaper, or to get up in the middle of the night to calm a crying baby. I might have done all of these things, perhaps even gladly, but the possibility that would have made all of those other possibilities into realities — that June and I might have had a son and named it Anthony — was gone now, taking with it millions of other possibilities. Those futures seemed wild and untethered now, bereft of frame or context, less substantial, even, than my jumbled-up memories of my ex-wife. They seemed frail and thin and chaotic, a glowing tangle of impossible moments spreading ceaselessly before me while I fought to anchor myself in the only reality in which I could be sure that I existed. Who the “I” I might have been in any one of these million potential futures seemed unfathomable to me at that moment. Perhaps if one of these future selves had been standing in my apartment’s kitchen with me, older, greyer, fatter, better established, exuding a paternal warmth and confidence, I would not have recognized him as myself, separated, as we would be, by the plain fact of not-being, the gaping, unbridgeable chasm that separated our lives.

    I thought again of the email she had sent me. “Everything you know is a lie.” How, I wondered, does one choose a subject line for an email like that? You can’t just put “hi there” or “whats up” in the subject line when you’re telling your ex-husband about a family that you almost had together, can you? But when your email contains news as momentous as June’s did, is anything really appropriate? And then I thought of the “love bug,” that virus that some Filipino teenager cooked up a few years back that wrecked a few million operating systems and put him on the cover of Time. That kid wasn’t just a computer genius, he also had a seducer’s grasp of human psychology. The bug-laden emails that he spread to every email network on earth had “i love you” in the subject line. I’d like to think that he left out the capitals for verisimilitude and to convey an air of emotional vulnerability. If that’s the case, his gambit succeeded, because thousands upon thousands of people opened his email only to have their hard drives wiped clean.

    That Filipino kid also kept his eye on his own bottom line. He didn’t write his virus for love, but for money. A couple of weeks after the cops raided his house and the computer security industry — the white hats — got his ingenious little valentine under control, I read that the kid had arranged for his program to send any credit card information that it found on the computers it infected back to an email address that he’d set up specifically for that purpose. Of course, that email address got shut down once the authorities had figured out what he had done. Apparently, though, even after the king of the teenage hackers got led out of his family’s house in handcuffs, the love bug caused thousands of computers to send emails to an address that no longer existed. Automatic responses to an expression of affection, an affirmation of human closeness, surged blindly through the world’s computer networks, unaware that their destination simply did not exist, and then bounced back to their recipients, or, more likely, simply blinked out of existence. For a few weeks, thousands of these emails circled the globe like one half of a doomed conversation. I can’t really believe that email servers experience the pain of rejection in the same way that people do, but something about this story made me feel a little forlorn. Maybe the same digital contraptions that desperately wanted to find their way into my inbox a few years ago had discovered that all they wanted was to tell somebody that they loved them and to get an appropriate response. But that response disappeared before it reached it found its recipient. Maybe it’s just as well.

    I never wrote my ex-wife back. To my knowledge, no message with the subject line “re: everything you know is wrong” has ever arrived in anyone’s inbox. This digital silence may have seemed cold to her, but it wasn’t without regret that I held my peace. I had to concede that I might have been Anthony’s father. But my life — anybody’s, really — is filled with so many other mights. I might have become a practicing Buddhist, or made my living growing organic sage, or teaching Milton. I might have vacationed in Canada’s polar northwest, or danced the night away on a beach in Bali. But I didn’t do any of these things, and I’ve concluded that the Anthony that my wife imagines isn’t much more plausible than any other one of these potential futures. He exists, I suppose, but in a way so remote that I feel powerless to honor his memory in any significant way. These days, I have a nine-to-five, and my time at work is spent mostly writing code and taking endless phone calls from aggravated customers. I read a bit, have a few friends, and live quietly. The days slide by, and I more or less let them. Somewhere else, in some sunny Californian field, my June meditates upon life’s myriad possibilities and the lives she might have lived unfold before her. She keeps herself, just barely, at the center of that whirling, glowing web of potential experience. Suffused with sadness, she is its dark center. But I can’t be there with her. I have an apartment, a few books, and a rack full of clean dishes.

    June sent me one more message, as blank and formless as all the lives we never had together. In the subject line, she wrote, “still waiting for a response.” And I suppose that she is, in more ways than one. But I’m not. I have the safety of objects, and I have time’s arrow, whose progress is true, infallible, and unyielding.

  3. Alexander Edmondson

    “Liars R’ Us”

    I looked down at the email message I had in my hand.
    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”
    I had no idea who this Mark was. I don’t have any friends or colleagues named Mark. For all I know, this could be some sort of sick, twisted joke to waste my time. However, for some reason I drove out to the lake house where I had my first kiss. Her name was Rebecca and I remember her well. She had the deepest red hair imaginable and she had these little freckles on her face. Her body was very curvy and I loved to put my hands around her waist hold her close to me. When I first kissed those lips of hers, I felt to myself that there was no better feeling in the world than what I was experiencing. Her lips were softer than anything I had ever felt in my life. I felt like this was the one person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. Life, however, had different plans. A year after that kiss, Rebecca died in a car accident and nothing felt right again after that.
    “Hello, James. I’m Mark.”
    “Who are you and why did you want me to come out here?”
    “You don’t remember me?”
    “I have no idea who you are.”
    “I’m Dr. Mark Richardson and you need to come with me.”
    “I’m not going anywhere with you. I don’t know you and I don’t trust you. I’m going home.”
    “Why did you come out here?”
    “What?”
    “You drove out all this way to tell me that? You could’ve done that in an email or just ignore it altogether.”
    “So?”
    “That tells me that you wanted to meet me. Face it, James. For your whole life, you never felt like you belonged. You felt like a round peg that wouldn’t fit into a square hole. You may not know what’s really going on but you felt like something was always off.
    “Maybe.”
    “I think it’s a little more than maybe.”
    “Why are you here?”
    “I’m here to tell you the truth, James. The truth about who you really are.”
    “Which is?”
    “The people that raised are not you’re real parents.”
    “What?”
    “There not your parents. There you’re handlers from the company. As for your deceased girlfriend, Rebecca, she was assigned to be your girlfriend.”
    “That’s not true. That’s not true. You’re lying.”
    “She was recruited to keep an eye on you and report back to them.”
    “Report back to them on what?”
    “You’re special, James. You’re more special than you could possible imagine.”
    “I know that I shouldn’t trust you but for some reason I do. Why do I trust you?”
    “There’s too much to explain. You have to come with me.”
    “Why?”
    “They have people in place to keep eyes on you. My people were able to keep them occupied for a while so that we could talk but time’s up. Once they find out about this, they’re going to do all they can to cover this up. That means covering you up too.”
    “Wait what?”
    “You know you can trust me. You don’t know why but you know that you just can. You have to make a choice. Go back to a false life that be erased in a second or come with me and have a chance for a real life. It’s your call.”
    “Let’s go.”

  4. Cookieinthekitchen

    My hands fumble through my navy blue, faux Louis Vuitton purse on the front porch of my studio apartment. A cylindrical, light pink bottle of lip gloss, a crumpled up five dollar bill, and an old chocolate chip Quaker granola bar wrapping spill out onto the floor.
    “Ugh,” I mumble, bending down to put my belongings back in the purse. I rise back up and take the ring of house keys that had been in my hand the whole time, sticking the left-most one in the door to unlock it. Duh. I took them out in the car on the way here. Once the door is open, I jiggle the key in the door, pull it out, and place it back in my purse.
    “Hey Julianne! I’m home!” I call out to my roommate.
    Julianne has only been my friend for a year or two since we met in Spain when I took my gap year, but now she’s one of my closest friends. Last summer she took me down to her ranch in Texas, and when school’s out in three months I’m planning to take her to my home in Virginia. I walk through the door and take off my purse, placing it on the vintage cedar wood table in the front hall. Looking around the room, I see her standing on a ladder, her blonde curly hair tied up in a bun painting our once-white ceiling fan to look like waves at the beach.
    “Hey Liv! Would you mind handing me that paint brush, please?” She asks, pointing at the paint-caked, wooden paint brush on the dining room table.
    “Um sure,” I respond. I amble over to the table covered in a white, translucent garbage bag and pick up the paintbrush. “Might I ask why you are painting our fan?”
    “Oh, I saw something on Pinterest and thought it would be a cool DIY to try, so I went to Home Depot after my business studies class and picked up this ladder and the paint. The man that helped me pick out the color thought I was crazy but whatever,” she laughs and places the paintbrush she was currently using in her mouth, as I reach up and hand her the brush. “Wt ew ew hink?” She mumbles incoherently, her southern accent still shining through.
    “English please?” I ask. She takes the paintbrush form her mouth, so she’s holding a brush in each hand.
    “Oops, sorry. I was just asking what you thought,” she reiterates.
    “Yeah, it’s really cool but I just don’t know how our landlord will feel about us painting the permanent installations in here,” I reply.
    “Oh it’s cool. I called him earlier and asked and he said it was fine,” she answers.
    “Then it’s cool with me,” I smile. “Well I have to get to work on my paper for English so I’ll talk to you later,” I say, walking up the metal, spiral staircase to my bedroom.
    “Oh by the way, some package came for you from your mom” she calls up the stairs. “I put it up in your room.”
    “Thanks!” I reply back. After walking up the stairs, I throw my phone and computer case over onto my bed in the center of the small room, the comforter covering the two objects under its white ruffles of fabric. I turn to my right and see a brown package sitting on my desk. I amble over to it, tripping on my computer cord that is stretched from the far wall to my bed in the process. Thankfully I catch myself, though the package fell off my desk and spilled its contents out all over my pink rug.
    “Oops,” I say with a laugh. By now Julianne rarely ever asks if I’m okay if she hears something fall; a side effect of my clumsiness I guess. I walk over to the box (this time dodging the cord) and start putting everything back in it. They’re all a bunch of letters my mom had sent me from Virginia that people had sent to her and dad instead of me, unaware of my new location in Chicago. One distinct letter catches my eye though, a brightly colored red envelope with the words “EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS A LIE” printed in messy black handwriting on the front. “What the heck?” I say, opening the letter. I rip the letter as I tore through the envelope. Though it’s still legible through the tears, the handwriting is another issue. It reads:
    Hello Olivia. I hope desperately that this letter comes to you in time, but I am sorry to inform you that everything you know is a lie. Everyone you know is not who they say who they are. You need to leave now. Do not mention this letter to anyone. Bring no one and nothing with you and act calmly as to not alert anyone. Meet me at the spot of your first kiss on March 10th at approximately eight o’clock pm. You know the place.
    -M
    I reread the letter over and over again until I could recite it from memory. What the heck is going on? My first kiss? Who would know about that? I pick up the envelope that the letter came from, unable to see a return address. Who would send this to me? Other than the guy I kissed, my mom, and my best friend in High School, Matt, no one knows where I had my first kiss. Wait a second. Matt. It makes sense. Well, some sense at least. I mean no one else comes to mind so he would be my best bet to be “M”. I check my watch so see the time: 7:37. Less than half an hour till I meet up with him or her if I decide to. Millions of thoughts run through my mind: What if it’s not Matt? What if it’s some crazy person trying to kill me? What do they mean? Everything I know is a lie? How is that possible? Why can’t I tell anyone? What if I go to the wrong place? Though I doubt that I could go to the wrong place. I remember my first kiss clear as day: It was the summer before 8th grade, June 2005. I was hanging out with a couple of friends, and my boyfriend Damien. We were going to see the movie Batman Begins, when out of the blue during the previews, he kissed me. It was really awkward and we bumped noses, but it was an good first kiss. We broke up a couple days later, but I didn’t really like him anyways.
    “Hey Julianne!” I call down the stairs.
    “Yeah!” She calls back.
    “I just remembered I made plans with Tucker to go see a movie tonight in like 20 minutes so I’m gonna go,” I walk down the stairs, the letter hidden in my back pocket.
    “Okay, cool,” she says. “Would you mind picking up some hot glue sticks on your way home?”
    The phrase “Everything you know is a lie” comes back to my mind.
    “Um…I…um.. I…got to go,” I run out the door, unable to hear her reply.
    I pull out the keys form my purse, jumping in my light blue VW Bug. By now, my clumsy, clunky hands are shaking, my whole body filled with a mix of nervousness and excitement. I drive down to the theater, unable to clear my mind of the letter. I finally arrive at the theater, with 3 minutes to spare. What if it’s not Matt? What if I go to the wrong movie? I push away the thoughts—or try at least, and enter into the theater. I scan my eyes over all of movies, trying to pick the one that “M” would choose, when I see the perfect one.
    “One adult ticket for the Dark Night Rises please,” I ask the woman in the booth. I hand her a ten dollar bill, and in return she hands me my ticket.
    “Here you go. Have a nice day,” she responds.
    I walk through the doors and the man at the front rips off half of my ticket on the perforated line, handing me the other half.
    “Third theater on your right,” he tells me, pointing his index finger to the hallway on his left.
    “Thanks,” I reply. I jog down to the theater, my feet stomping quickly to the beat of my heart. I run into the room at exactly 8:00. Expecting to see tons of people, I walk in and see only one, sitting all the way in the back on the top row. Though covered in the darkness of the room, I still make out his figure. He is large and burly, his knees squished between the seats, unlike Matt’s small, petit physique. What?! I start to hyperventilate, my heart rate increasing with every step I take up the carpet covered, popcorn stained stairs. It must not be Matt. But who is it? The man places the phone he had been looking at into his front coat pocket as I reach the top of the stairs.
    “You must be Olivia Scott,” he asks, standing up out of the chair and sticking out his hand for me to shake.
    “Liv actually,” I answer, placing my hand in his and shaking it.
    “Please, take a seat,” he pulls his arm out, gesturing for me to sit.
    “What’s going on? Who are you? How do you know about my first kiss?” I ask him.
    “Patience Oli-“
    “Liv.”
    “Sorry. Patience Liv. You need to understand that not all of your questions will be answered today. Or ever, for that matter. For the time being, I will try to answer as many questions as I can. But please know that for your safety I cannot tell you everything.”
    “For starters, will you at least tell me who you are? Or is that some deeply guarded secret I must not know?” I ask.
    “My name is M,” He responds, as if M is a normal everyday name.
    “That’s it?”
    “My name has been M for as long as I can remember.”
    “I guess I was right, that is some deeply guarded secret I must not know.”
    “Not necessarily. I can tell you a little more about myself,” he responds. “As you know, my name is M, and I work for the Secret Party of Investigation, or SPI for short.”
    “Do you work with the government, like with the FBI? I’ve never heard of you before.”
    “Not at all. The SPI is not in any way affiliated with the government. See, long ago, a man named Charles Scott was working at the FBI when he came across a case—“
    “And how is this relevant to my question?” I ask.
    “You’ll see.”
    “Fine then. Just continue on with your story.”
    “As I was saying, Charles Scott was working on the FBI when he came across a old closed case. He began to investigate the case more closely when he found an clerical error in the final proceedings. He brought the case to his boss, who then dismissed him, and told him he was wrong. The next day he was dismissed again, this time he not only had to leave his boss’ office, but leave his too.”
    “You mean he was fired?”
    “Yes. See, here at the SPI, we work with an alternative mindset in cases, and if need be, disregarding the law for the better of the case. Something the government doesn’t agree with.”
    “So you mean the whole difference between you and other organizations like the FBI and the CIA is that you break the law.”
    “In simpler terms, yes. We do more behind the scenes action. Looking at closed cases, staying out of the field, etc. We leave those things to the FBI. We believe that the FBI and CIA have unnecessary restrictions that keep them from truly getting to a case, so we work around that.”
    “Why are you telling me this?”
    “Did you notice anything in the story?”
    “Not really.”
    “Not even the fact that you have the same last name as the founder of SPI?”
    “What? My last name isn—. Oh. Wait does this mean—“
    “Your great grandfather founded SPI in 1915.”
    “So my grandfather—“
    “He was the heir of SPI after his father passed, and after he died, he passed it onto your father.
    “Wait! That doesn’t mean that my dad…”
    “No. But your father has gotten in some serious trouble and since you are his only child, we decided to come to you.”
    “What kind of trouble?!
    “I’m not at liberty to say.”
    “Ugh. Fine. So was my dad really a lawyer?”
    “No. He did earn a law degree from Harvard, but he stopped on his path to becoming one once his father died and SPI was passed onto him.”
    “So you weren’t kidding when you said that everything I know is a lie.”
    “Not necessarily everything. Your friends and life here is still as true as can be, but your life in Virginia is not.”
    “Is my mom still okay? Does she know?” I ask, nervous to hear the response.
    “Yes. But I need you to come with me to SPI HQ.” He stands up, gesturing me to leave. I stand up, shocked at the news. This is my life now. This is my reality.
    “So I guess I won’t be finishing my English paper after all…” I tell M.
    “Not exactly…”

  5. will_03626

    The email read: “Everything you know is a lie. Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to get quietly out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    I re-read the email slowly for a second time. A frisson of alarm brushed over me. Okay. Breathe. It’s a prank, has to be. Jake, you don’t know a Mark. I studied the tiny screen for a moment and the feeling slithered into my gut, dark and oily. I could feel panic rising. Breathe in 2,3, out 2,3. In 2, 3; out 2, 3. In 2,3 out 2,3. Still looking my phone, I pressed the button to blank the screen and stood. I took the stairs down, as was my habit, and waved my security card at the pad by employee entrance, and felt the lock disengage, and the door opened. I was free.

    My mind was racing, frantically turning over pieces and fragments. Snatches of conversation, flashes of images and bits of dreams, all of which had been telling me for some time that something was off. That something was out of place. I’d been shrugging it off for some time, but my mind had been quietly insisting.

    About 20 minutes later, I arrived at the site of my first kiss, and my quickly replayed that moment. The smell of loam, and cool of the night breeze rustling in the limbs overhead, and the taste of Liza’s lips pressed against mine.

    Standing under the tree in the dappled morning sun in was a stranger with his back to me.
    “Mark?” I asked as I approached.
    “You came,” he said as he turned, holding a pistol “That’s unfortunate.”

    Time began stretch, my blood pounding as my mind raced, trying to decide: Fight or Flight. From over my shoulder there was a loud pop, and before I could react, blood blossomed on his shirt as he slowly toppled to the ground. Flight won.

    Shift, pivot, run.

  6. Luvinia

    I couldn’t figure it out at the time but I think it was the sound the chair made that had clued me into the fact that I wasn’t alone. It should have made a hollow thunk. Everything else I could pinpoint, but in the end, I can only guess that it was the chair.

    It was the drive into work that had already set me in a bad mood for the day. I could swear the other drivers were glaring at me as I summoned every last ounce of patience I had and turned up my music to help distract me from the ridiculousness. By the time I drove up into the parking lot, I was already an hour late. An hour! To drive 10 miles! It was almost as if every single individual in the city had forgotten how to use a gas pedal! They couldn’t even blame the weather, it was bright and sunny out!

    My inner grumblings only contributed to my fury as I walked through the front doors of the small office building. The day hadn’t even begun and I knew to expect my manager hanging around my cubicle with nothing more to do than to berate me about one thing or another. Today, I knew, it would be my tardiness. I could just hear it now, his voice grating against my already thin nerves. Every day I had to deal with the self righteous prick doing nothing but hovering around my cubicle as if he was just waiting for me to make a single mistake. I had already determined long ago that he had been hired specifically to watch over me like a hawk and give me hell; almost as if to test me. I gave a heavy sigh as I dragged myself down the corridor dreading what the rest of the day had in store for me.

    Consisting of maybe 25 employees the place wasn’t huge, so when I was snapped out of my fuming stupor by a harsh bump against my shoulder, I looked up in time to catch a glimpse of a bald man practically jogging towards the door. No apology from him whatsoever. He didn’t even give me so much as a backwards glance!

    “In a hurry there, buddy?” I growled at him as the door shut. Through the glass I could see him only slightly turn his head as if to make sure he hadn’t bumped into someone of importance. Don’t worry there pal, just the low guy on the totem pole, the worst I can do is growl at you. Turning myself back towards the hall I fumed again. Of course! Physical abuse by strangers should only be expected on a day like today! Why wouldn’t it just keep adding up? I swear one of these days I’m just going to snap.

    Making my way through the maze of cubicles, I caught my first break. Manager Prick wasn’t already perched on my wall. I may be able to get some actual work done! Dropping my briefcase on the floor next to my chair, I sat down with a sigh, only allowing a sliver of hope that Prick was out sick today and I may be able to have a peaceful day. I reached for the power button on my computer but stopped short as my eyes caught the glow of the monitor. It was already on. Wait. I didn’t leave it on last night. I specifically remember shutting it down. My eyes scanned the screen as I saw a window minimized on the system tray. Someone has been in my email.

    I straightened in my chair to glance around above the walls of my cube hoping to spot the perpetrator, but everyone around me was already talking over the phone with customers. If it were any of them, they probably did it long before I got in. My anger forgotten, the monitor grabbed my full attention once again. I sat up in my seat and reached for the mouse, clicking on the email icon and maximizing the screen. It looked like someone had written an email but hadn’t sent it. There wasn’t even an address in the “To” box. I read the subject line: “Everything you know is a lie”. What the….?

    My eyes continued further down the screen: “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    I couldn’t help it, my anger flared anew and before I could stop myself, the words flew out of my mouth, “What the hell is this shit!?” The chair flew out from behind me and made an odd sound as I quickly stood up, determined to find out who was behind this. Before I was able to turn around, I knew someone was behind me. The aroma of Stetson cologne hit my nostrils as the blow against my head knocked me forward. The last thing I saw before everything went black was a blurry bald head leaning over me and whispering, “I told you to act calm…..”

  7. stuck2thesaddle

    Coffee sloshes around in his cup as he yanks the chair out from under the desk and swings his hips onto the smooth black leather. He sets his coffee cup down clumsily as his hands fly to his mouse and keyboard. “John! Hello, hello!” chimed his cheery desk mate as he strutted behind John’s chair to reach his own. John pulled up his email, scanning the list casually. An unfamiliar email address caught his eye… He scrolled back up, straightening in his seat and furrowing his brows.

    “Everything you know is a lie,” read the subject line.

    He opened the email and read on, “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    ~*~
    Mark sat silently under the shade of the trees. From here, he could see pregnant mothers being dragged along by dogs and toddlers alongside elderly couples strolling along the park path. He was hidden from view, but he was certain that the poignancy of John’s memories would lead him back to this place. After all, John’s real first kiss was merely five months ago…

    He was not certain that John would arrive, but if he had judged his character correctly, it was not unlikely that curiosity would get the better of him.

    Approximately twenty minutes had passed since Mark had arrived at “the spot” and sent John the email when he spotted a figure moving slowly towards him. The man moved awkwardly and kept glancing over both shoulders. The corners of Mark’s lips twisted upwards slyly.

    “…hi, are you Mark?” John stammered.
    “Yes, hello.” Mark replied, leaping to his feet and holding out his hand for John to shake.

    John didn’t notice the outstretched arm, his mind was buzzing… “This isn’t where I had my first kiss…”
    “Ah, but it’s the first kiss that counted. You must agree because you knew to meet me here.”
    “But, how could you know that?” John countered defensively. His uneasiness was increasing by the second.
    “I’ve been watching you for a long time. But the kiss is beside the point… I’ve been trying to help you, but they won’t permit me to see you… I had to sneak in… I have a lot to tell you, but I think it would be best that I show you…”
    Before John had time to arrange his thoughts, Mark pulled out an oddly shaped gun and aimed at the branches above. He pressed a button and a beam of light shot upward, hitting a sparrow. The bird hit the ground with a thud, tweeting mechanically. John crept closer. The bird’s belly was exposed, and underneath the layer of flesh and feathers John could see broken wires and burnt metal.

    John looked up at Mark slowly.
    “It’s not just the birds,” explained Mark, “it’s everyone.”

  8. Doug Langille

    LIES
    ====

    Hugh pressed the ‘check mail’ button again and the little closed envelop popped up, taunting him with its secrets. ‘Everything you know is a lie,’ read the subject line.

    He popped his head above the cube-farm wall and saw nothing but the tops of heads; the rats were all busy hitting the pellet bar just like him. No, not rats. Sheep. They were all sheep.

    “Huh,” he said and sat back down, pushing his glasses up his nose absently. Brow furrowed, he double-clicked and read.

    ‘Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.’

    Hugh’s first thought was ‘You mean, they’re not sheep?’ and smiled. Clearly someone was pulling a prank on him. He knew no one named Mark and suspected Becky wanted to get even for locking her in the copyroom last week.
    Of course, it was an accident. She kissed him and grabbed his ass, whispering “I’ve so wanted to do this, Hugh. I’ve seen you looking. Now’s your chance, stud.” He panicked, ran out of the room and fled the building. Maintenance let her out the next morning. She flipped him the bird as she walked by at every chance. Hugh figured she’d made extra trips.

    Now there was this email. How’d she know? Mother wouldn’t let him date and his experience with girls reflected it. Most of his coworkers thought him gay and Hugh was fine with that.

    Ambling toward the copyroom, Hugh half-whistled tunelessly. No one paid him any more attention than usual, which was none anyway. He opened the door and rough hands grabbed him, pulling him inside.

    Becky threw the inside lock and flipped on the light switch. The hands that assaulted him belonged indeed to a guy he recognized as Bill, the gas jockey from down the street.

    “What the hell is going on, Bill?”

    “My name’s not Bill. It’s Mark.”

    “And I’m not really Becky. It’s Gloria. Although I’ve been playing Rebecca for so long, I’ll answer to either just as likely.”

    “I know what you mean,” said Mark/Bill.

    Hugh grabbed Gloria by the arm and said “Becky, please tell me what’s going on?”

    “Gloria,” she said as she pulled her arm away and slapped him in the face. “That hurts, Hugh. Mind your manners.”

    Mark pulled him around to face him. “Look, Hugh, we’re actors. They’re all actors out there. None of this is real.”

    Hugh’s eyes bugged out and his mouth opened. It took a few seconds before he could speak. “But, I’m no actor.”

    “Of course not, silly,” said Gloria. “You’re the star.”

    “Think of it as the pinnacle of reality TV, Hugh,” said Mark. He glanced at his watch and looked up at Gloria. “Time’s up. The cameras will be back on in 30. Good luck, Hugh. We’ll be in touch. Go on.”

    Gloria kissed Hugh wetly on the lips and he blushed. “Remember, my name is Becky. Look for the cameras and the mics. They’re everywhere.” She looped her arm in his and continued. “Let’s go. We gotta show to do.”

  9. Tannai

    Men
    “Everything you know is a lie.” She opened the email and read further. “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”
    She read the statement once, and then its opening line once more before carrying her mouse over the create message icon in her email, and began to draft a letter in response.

    “To whom it may concern,
    Stating the obvious neither comes off as a threat or remotely entertaining. Everything I know is a lie, just as everything you and the forty billion inhabitants of this plant know is a lie. Not even in death do we finally embark upon honesty. We’re a world born dishonest, raised dishonest and decease dishonest. As to your futile attempt to remove me from my premises and off to a questionable memory, you’ve emailed the wrong person “Mark”. With all that being said I advice you to spend less time being a nuisance and find a more productive way to mask the deception and boredom this reality breeds.”

    Within minutes of her submission an email alert flashed her screen, this time from her husband of eleven years, Tim. “Well, I was under the impression that I’d been forgiven for my indiscretion last month… until now. I was just trying to spice things up a bit. See you at home.” A short chuckle surpassed the barrier of her thick skin as she came to realize he was the nuisance from the previous message.

  10. Noah

    Just another day at work. Same annoying people, same stupid boss. I was going on a date after work, but then a mysterious email popped up on my screen that said “ Everything you know is a lie. Now I was about seventeen at the time, and of course my curiosity got the best of me, so I read further. “Act calm as not to alarm anyone, but no one is who they say they are. Meet me at the place you had your first kiss.” So after I read this, my mind got thinking, “Who is this guy/girl? How does he/she know me? What if it’s a trap?” So I decided to take the risk and meet him/her at the skating rink, where I had my first kiss. When I got there, there were no cars there but both doors were open and there was someone standing in the doorway. She was wearing all black except for purple sneakers. The same ones I was wearing. I asked who she was and she said “I’m you.”
    ~FIN

  11. AmeliaPond

    “Everything you know is a lie?” Says my little sister leaning over my shoulder.

    “If you don’t leave, and I mean this instance I will kill you.” I said opening a new tab so she couldn’t see my emails.

    “But Shayna-”

    “NOW!” I said spinning my chair around. Annie sprinted out of my room. Curious myself I clicked on the email I read it quickly.

    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    For kicks I decided to look out the window, the kiss had been in that tree in the back yard, the one we always climbed. I wheeled my chair over and pulled the curtains open. A tall young man with short dark hair was standing below the very branch we had been on. His hands were thrust deep into the pockets of his long black coat, the color was turned up and he was stamping his feet in the thin layer of snow that covered the whole yard. As I watched him he turned and looked up, straight at me. Ducked down below the window, waited a moment then peeked back over the ledge. The Man was still staring at me, what surprised me was it wasn’t threatening, or creepy, he was just waiting.

    Behind me I heard the door open.

    “Shayna, what are you doing on the floor?” Said Annie.

    “I told you to go.” I hissed turning around and closing the curtains.

    “Yes, but mom and I are going out, she told me to tell you to stay here.”

    “Go, I don’t need to be told.”

    “She told me to make sure you stay here, don’t go out side and don’t open the door, answer the phone or look at any emails, also keep the dog with you.”

    “Fine, I will, now go.” I lied. As soon as I heard the door shut, then lock, I jumped up from the floor of the computer room and ran down stairs, I pulled on my coat. Unlocking the back door I peered around it. The man was still there, pacing out watching the door. I opened the door and went out.

    “Hello, Mark.” I said, surprised at my self for even talking to him. “Did you send me an email?” I asked my hand still on the door.

    “I did, I’m glad you acknowledge that.”

    “Why is my family being weird.?” I asked.

    “They’re doing a lot more then being weird. When she told you to keep the dog with you, I almost went in there to get you out.”

    “Was I in danger? I mean it’s a stupid lazy dog.”

    “You have no idea how ruthless your dog is?”

    “Why didn’t you tell me then?”

    “Because I heard the lie in your voice, I gathered that you’d be out. Fortunately Lilith didn’t hear your lie.”

    “No, Annie, didn’t here my lie.” The Man laughed.

    “Come with Me Diana.”

    “My name is Shayna.” The Man laughed again.

    “No it’s not.”

  12. A.E.Me

    Well, what of a load of bull.

    She deletes the email.

    It goes to show that if she ever has another five minutes to spare before going out, she should not check her mail. Weird things get through there.

    So with a resolute nod at her appropriate decision, she stands up from the desk and gathers her keys, handbag and mobile. There’s still some time left but it’s always good to be early than late she thinks, as she locks the front door. The park’s only a few minutes walk so she takes her time to stroll along the streets and browse through the stores for any interesting items. By the time she actually arrives at the park, she’s pretty much right on time.

    A quick scan of the area and she easily spots her companion sitting at the lake bench.

    “Hey!” she calls out.

    He turns to the sound of her voice and grins, standing up to greet her. To her utter delight, she sees that he’s brought her along too.

    “Oh, my gosh. Hello, my little Malamarcie,” she coos, scooping up the little Pomeranian from his hands. “How have you been, marshmellow? Has Wilson been treating you well? Look how big you’ve grown.” She practically ignores Wilson’s presence as she places loud smooches across the excited puppy’s muzzle.
    It goes on for awhile.

    Eventually though, she stops showering the dog with excessive gestures of affection and asks Wilson how he’s been doing (as she should have done in the first place). Her smile quickly drops off though when she sees him sigh, a grim expression set on his face.

    “…Amy. There’s something I have to tell you.”

    That’s not something anyone wants to hear.

    “It’s…it’s pretty big too,” he adds on, shifting uncomfortably.

    She feels her heart start to thump loudly against her ribcage in anxiety.

    “It’s…it’s all been a lie. Not everyone around you is who you thought they were.”

    She frowns. That…that sounds familiar.

    “Marcie…Marcie’s not a girl dog. She’s actually…a guy dog,” he says, as if it were a deep dark secret he’d unwillingly revealed.

    A few seconds pass in silence until everything really sinks in. When it does, Amy takes no moment to spare and soundly smacks Wilson’s shoulder.

    “Oh, my god! That’s it?” she shouts. “I thought it was something tragic but you got me here just to tell me little Marcie’s actually a Mark-”

    She freezes. Then gasps, fixing Wilson with an icy, accusatory glare.

    “It was you,” she hisses lowly. “I thought I got some sort of virus and weird things were getting sent to me. But that was you trying to be all creepy? The hell, Wilson?”

    But Wilson ignores her tirade, opting for bursting out in laughter while she continues to smack his arm. By the time he eventually settles, her anger has already died down. It takes another couple of moments though before she realises something else.

    “Wait, what did the kiss have to do with anything? I didn’t have my first kiss here.”

    “Pft. Amy, I’ve known you since we were kids. So I know your first was a fur-filled one with a little puppy we shall hereon name Mark.”

    She smacks him again.

    End.

    Well, this is first time I’m posting. So hopefully, this is acceptable (was it meant to be serious instead?) but I understand if it’s unacceptable grammar-wise, topic-wise, and the like.

  13. writernewbie7

    It was barely 7 PM, yet I was already exhausted, the day had been long and I was dreading completing my essay. Slowly typing up my essay I was relieved to hear the “whoosh” that signaled an email being received, phew, a distraction! I quickly moved my mouse towards me, clumsily bashing my elbow into my glass of water spilling the water over my desk and my math’s homework.

    “SUGAR, HONEY, ICED TEA!!!!” I yelled in frustration. Harshly picking up my glass to prevent more water from escaping onto my desk and homework. “Stupid glass, stupid water, stupid…” I mumbled as I got up from my desk chair, glaring at the mess as if it had caused all of the worlds problems. Turning, I slowly made my way to the bathroom to get some tissues to wipe up the spilt water.

    Once everything was cleaned up, I sat back down and was about to click the mail icon before a shiver went down my spine. Pausing for a second, as I thought of the suddenly dark atmosphere, I looked to the doorway of my room, half expecting a ghost to be standing in the entrance smiling creepily. There was no malicious spirit in my doorway, of course, so I shrugged the feeling off and opened my mail. The subject to the message said, “Everything you know is a lie.” I paused in my movement again; maybe opening this message was not such a good idea. I still checked under my bed for monsters every night I certainly did not need more paranoid ideas running rampant through my mind. Curiosity getting the better of me, I moved past my fears and opened the email.

    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    “Mark, Mark…Do I know a Mark? How would he know where my first kiss was?” I thought aloud, hushing quickly I looking around the room. It was a stupid idea but I am an incredibly curious person and I wanted to meet Mark to find out what this was about.

    My first kiss was at a park playground, near where I used to live and it was only a five-minute bike ride. Leaving immediately, telling my parents I was going to the mall, I zoomed to the park and put my worry to the back of my mind.

    Arriving at the park I looked around, heading towards the meeting place. Nobody was there. I looked to my phone looking at the message. I was suddenly hit by a…

    Huge wave of disappointment, the message was sent from my friend Henry.

  14. resolution

    My favourite way to start the weekend is with a cup of coffee at my neighbourhood cafe while checking my personal e-mail . It’s particularly fun as I use my Saturday morning to respond to select junk mail to see if they’ll play. This Saturday I got a doozy. With a title like Everything you know is a lie I had to open it. It didn’t disappoint. The text was:

    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    First kiss? An image of falling leaves and the feel of cold metal against my palms accosted me before I could reign it in.

    I hit reply and shot off: “Which one?”

    The response was immediate: ” The very first. The one you try to forget.”

    Good response but vague, don’t most people try to forget their first kiss? The first kiss is your first love and chances are good it didn’t work out.

    The smell of crisp autumn invaded my nostrils in spite of it being June. I wouldn’t think of him.

    “Jerry?” I sent

    “Wrong J – this isn’t a prank and I don’t have time for your games. Act calmly and come.”

    Josh, his name was Josh and no one knew he was my first kiss. Well, I hadn’t known that anyone else knew.

    I began packing my things.

    “Leaving early?” Mel, the barrista asked

    “Yeah, I promised my mum lunch and I need to get some stuff. I’ll see you later.” That was a plausible lie and I was pretty sure my voice wasn’t shaking.

    As I got in my car to drive to the park near my childhood home, I called my mum and left a message letting her know that I’ll bring lunch around 1. This way if this Marc guy was a psychopath my paranoid mother would be able to give the police a time that I disappeared.

    I thought of Josh as I drove. The fifteen year old who kissed me in the park near our homes when we were on the swings. Three hours after that kiss Josh had disappeared. It was bad enough that I was the one who saw him last, I wasn’t about to admit to the kiss and how I floated home.

    I pulled into the park and saw a man sitting on the swing. The same swing Josh had used ten years ago. I walked to him and was arrested by green cat eyes. The last time I had seen those eyes, the face was moving in to kiss me.

    “Who the hell are you?”

    ” You were such a sweet kid. Josh was too hasty but the time has come.”

    “Come for what? Who are you?

    “The question I’m about to answer, Georgie, is who are you?”

  15. KenyaHilton

    Alright Emily. Calm down. Take a deep breath. Count down from ten and refresh your email page. 10, 9, 8 . . . 3, 2, and 1. I hit the refresh button and the email was still there. I heard a knock on the door and froze. I composed myself before replying. “Come in.” My mother walked in. Her beauty graced the room and I watched her, smiling her Colgate-like smile. Immediately, I begin to compare and contrast our physical features. Even if she wasn’t my real mother, there was no way I would be able to tell by looking at her; we were basically clones of one another.
    “Hey honey, are you busy? I was heading out to the store, want to tag along?” My mom asked. Ohh no. I don’t think so. So you can get me alone and kill me? “Mother.” But of course I would never say that aloud.
    “Oh, it’s okay mom. You can go I’m heading out to meet Janie in a few.” I say with a forced smile, emphasis on mom. I think my mom may have noticed because she stared at me quizzically but didn’t let on her concern.
    “Okay sweetheart. Enjoy your day and send Janie my love,” she replied and walked out.
    I quickly dressed and headed to the spot where Mark instructed me to meet him. But halfway through the walk I paused as a thought dawned on me. Who the heck is Mark and how would he know where I had my first kiss? Before I could change my mind I was forcefully snatched up and a pillowcase covered my face. Then I cursed at my parents living in a remote area where the neighbors kept to themselves. I was thrown and I could feel the movement of a vehicle under me.
    The pillowcase was snatched off my face and I looked around my surroundings before my eyes landed on a Adonis look alike. He cleared his throat, shot a side way grin towards me and said, “Hello, I’m Mark.”

  16. resolution

    My favourite way to start the weekend is with a cup of coffee at my neighbourhood cafe while checking my personal e-mail . It’s particularly fun as I use my Saturday morning to respond to select junk mail to see if they’ll play. This Saturday I got a doozy. With a title like Everything you know is a lie I had to open it. It didn’t disappoint. The text was:

    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    First kiss? An image of falling leaves and the feel of cold metal against my palms accosted me before I could reign it in.

    I hit reply and shot off: “Which one?”

    The response was immediate: ” The very first. The one you try to forget.”

    Good response but vague, don’t most people try to forget their first kiss? The first kiss is your first love and chances are good it didn’t work out.

    The smell of crisp autumn invaded my nostrils in spite of it being June. I wouldn’t think of him.

    “Jerry?” I sent

    “Wrong J – this isn’t a prank and I don’t have time for your games. Act calmly and come.”

    Josh, his name was Josh, and no one knew he was my first kiss. Well, I hadn’t known that anyone else knew.

    I began packing my things.

    “Leaving early?” Mel, the barrista asked

    “Yeah, I promised my mum lunch and I need to get some stuff. I’ll see you later.” That was a plausible lie and I was pretty sure my voice wasn’t shaking.

    As I got in my car to drive to the park near my childhood home, I called my mum and left a message letting her know that I’ll bring lunch around 1. This way if this Marc guy was a psychopath my paranoid mother would be able to give the police a time that I disappeared.

    I thought of Josh as I drove. The fifteen year old who kissed me in the park near our homes when we were on the swings. Three hours after that kiss Josh had disappeared. It was bad enough that I was the one who saw him last, I wasn’t about to admit to the kiss and how I floated home.

    I pulled into the park and saw a man sitting on the swing. The same swing Josh had used ten years ago. I walked to him and was arrested by green cat eyes. The last time I had seen those eyes the face was moving in to kiss me.

    “Who the hell are you?”

    ” You were such a sweet kid. Josh was too hasty but the time has come.”

    “Come for what? Who are you?

    “The question I’m about to answer, Georgie, is who are you?”

  17. resolution

    My favourite way to start the weekend is with a cup of coffee at my neighbourhood cafe while checking my personal e-mail . It’s particularly fun as I use my Saturday morning to respond to select junk mail to see if they’ll play. This Saturday I got a doozy. With the title “Everything you know is a lie” I had to open it. It didn’t disappoint. The text was:

    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    First kiss? An image of falling leaves and the feel of cold metal against my palms accosted me before I could reign it in.

    I hit reply and shot off: “Which one?”

    The response was immediate: ” The very first. The one you try to forget.”

    Good response but vague, don’t most people try to forget their first kiss? The first kiss is your first love and chances are good it didn’t work out.

    The smell of crisp autumn invaded my nostrils in spite of it being June. I wouldn’t think of him.

    “Jerry?” I sent

    “Wrong J – this isn’t a prank and I don’t have time for your games. Act calmly and come.”

    Josh, his name was Josh and no one knew he was my first kiss. Well, I hadn’t known that anyone else knew.

    I began packing my things.

    “Leaving early?” Mel, the barrista asked

    “Yeah, I promised my mum lunch and I need to get some stuff. I’ll see you later.” That was a plausible lie and I was pretty sure my voice wasn’t shaking.

    As I got in my car to drive to the park near my childhood home, I called my mum and left a message letting her know that I’ll bring lunch around 1. This way if this Marc guy was a psychopath my paranoid mother would be able to give the police a time that I disappeared.

    I thought of Josh as I drove. The fifteen year old who kissed me in the park near our homes when we were on the swings. Three hours after that kiss Josh had disappeared. It was bad enough that I was the one who saw him last, I wasn’t about to admit to the kiss and how I floated home.

    I pulled into the park and saw a man sitting on the swing. The same swing Josh had used ten years ago. I walked to him and was arrested by green cat eyes. The last time I had seen those eyes the face was moving in to kiss me.

    “Who the hell are you?”

    ” You were such a sweet kid. Josh was too hasty but the time has come.”

    “Come for what? Who are you?

    “The question I’m about to answer, Georgie, is who are you?”

  18. KJ Russell

    “Everything you know is a lie”
    That was the confusing subject line on Tom’s email and he had no idea what to make of it. Tom sat alone at a wooden table in the far corner of Ellie’s Café, keeping his distance from the rowdy group of high school boys who had managed to ruin what was once a peaceful, quiet café for readers and writers alike seeking refuge from the noise of the outside world. He was greedily sipping on a delicious cappuccino from a plastic cup until it was completely empty and grimaced at the sight of the empty cup, mentally scolding himself for his lack of money to purchase another beverage. Still he savored the delectable taste on his tongue and drew his attention back to the email. He wondered about the strange email he had received only three minutes ago after leaving to retrieve his order. Reluctantly he eased his handy mouse onto the message and clicked to read it. After doing so, the succulent taste of the cappuccino went bitter in his mouth.
    The message read “Act calm as not to alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”
    His eyes widened in surprise as he finished the message. He slowly turned back in his seat to observe the group of teenagers at the other end of the café. Five of them sat crowded around a computer, laughing obnoxiously loud at a group of men in animal costumes dancing like fools in a dark, foggy forest. For a second he thought that maybe one of the kids had snuck over to his table, viewed his email address, and sent the message as a joke. But one of them would’ve had to work fast to pull that off and he doubted that they even had the ability to do so based on the large pile of hamburger wrappers and soda cans that littered their table.
    It was a total mystery to him. If not them then who, he wondered. Out of all the people he’d met in his life thus far he had no recollection of a man named Mark or what why he had any interest in meeting Tom. He sighed in frustration. He hated not knowing and knew he had to figure out what was going on, even if it was a joke that one of his friends might’ve planned. He quickly closed his laptop shut, slid it into his old, ratty laptop case and marched his way out of the café to meet the enigma known as Mark.

  19. stoked

    He wakes up in a cold sweat. It was the same nightmare he’s been having for months. The same car crash night after night. He is on his was home from work, taking the back road to avoid the hellish highway traffic. The road curves through the canyon and he pushes the car faster and faster through the bends. The thrill of reckless speed erasing all the stresses from work.

    As he excellerates out of a sharp right hand corner something flashes directly in front of him and by the time he realizes a car has pulled out into his lane it’s too late. The roar of smashing metal and shattering glass is the last thing he remembers before waking up.

    Wide awake, his adrenaline still pumping, he decides to get an early start on the day. Kissing his sleeping wife on the forehead, he slides out of bed and makes his way to the kitchen.

    While waiting for his coffee to brew, he flips open his laptop to check emails. Scrolling through the usual work related messages he notices an email with the subject line “Everything you know is a lie”, immediately curious he opens it.

    “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    Who is Mark? How could he possibly know where he had his first kiss? That was years ago and the only person who knew about it was Donna, the girl that had lived next door when he was a kid and also the recipient of that kiss. It happened at the park near his parents house which was only a few blocks from here.

    He wasn’t even given a time to meet. Was this guy planning on waiting around all day for him to show up? Was he watching him?

    He looks out the window but doesn’t see anything suspicious. The sun is starting to come up and he decides to head out for a morning jog hoping it will clear his mind.

    The air outside is brisk and the streets are silent and empty, the only noise is the sound of his sneakers striking the pavement. Instead of taking the usual left towards the main road he jogs straight though the intersection in the direction of the park.

    Aside from a couple of joggers making their way along the main running path the park looks empty. A quick run through the park just to check things out won’t hurt anything he thinks to himself.

    Halfway through the park he passes an older man sitting on a bench. The man looks familiar but he can’t quite place the face.

    “It’s good to see you Steve” the man says with a warm smile.

    “How do you know me? Did you send me that crazy email?” Steve asks.

    “It’s time to go Steven.”

    “Go where? You haven’t even explained how you know me.”

    “Steven I’ve guided you through hundreds of lives. The accident you’ve been dreaming about really happened, you died in that crash and have been clinging to the memory of that life ever since. Now we need to get going, your next life starts in twenty minutes”

  20. jamesroderick

    Thup…thup…thup… Becky tapped her index finger on her laptop touchpad. Thup…deleting email after email. “It’s all garbage, how heck did I get on so many email lists,” she thought to herself. “Employment Status.” Thup… she opens and reads the message from her employer.

    She hadn’t been to work in 4 weeks. No excuse, no communication from her as to why she decided to stop going. She figured who’d care? The thought of ringing up another lottery ticket, pack of cigarettes, beef jerky, canned tuna or milk just didn’t fit with her image of what her life was supposed to be. So, she stopped showing up to the Wawa.

    Becky scans the body of the email to the end, “You’re fired. Last check is in the mail.” Thup…delete. Just like that, deleted like spam.

    “Green smoothie revolution?” Becky looks at the desperately needing dusting wall mirror next to her desk. Sigh. She leans back, her stomach now has room to breathe.

    Becky opens her desk drawer, a slew of empty prescription bottles. She searches and searches, fishing for her meds. Ding. Her attention back on her monitor.

    “Everything you know is a lie.” She squints and leans forward. Thup. “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are.”

    Becky smiles, looks around her empty 300 sq ft studio apartment. Snort. Giggle. She grabs her laptop and jumps on her bed 3 feet a way. Pillows fly as her sleeping cat flees the scene. Rrrrowwww, her cat howls. “Shut up Oxford!”

    Crash. Oxford has knocked over a picture frame of Becky and her sister from the window sill. “Oxford, get away from there, we might be under surveillance.” She grabs him, looks out from her second story window. The boy selling Kit Kats for team uniforms on the corner for days sees her. She quickly draws the blinds.

    She reads more of the email. “You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.” Snort. Giggle. Snort.

    “I knew it!” she exclaimed. “I knew it!”. At that moment all the years of therapy that didn’t work have proven useless because she knew she was right. Her parents weren’t her parents. Damn Dr. Cox. Her friends weren’t her friends. This apartment, it’s not hers. Her weight, her body. “This isn’t mine either,” she says as she pinches a roll from her stomach.

    Ten years, ten years of weekly meetings, one month “away at a resort.” It was all for nought for all of Becky’s suspicions were proven real.

    Mark, the name she remembers… must be the orderly from the resort. “How did he find me?” Must be my blog she thought. “He must have found my blog.” In the address bar Becky types “IllusoryDays.blogger.com” She searches her posts and hones in on a cryptic comment left months ago on her post ‘The Mailman Reads Your Mail.’ Comment reads, “You’re closer than you think – M.”

    1. Love2Cook2

      I love Becky. She is a realist and I would love to see the rest of this story. She reacted differently to the email than anyone elses’ characters. Love it.

  21. PromptPrincess13

    Not everything’s what it seems

    I am a joke. I am a joke. I am a joke.

    That’s what kept running through Jane’s mind, an endless loop of self-deprecation that seemed to lengthen with every moment she sat under that stupid clock. She could hear its tick, a constant prick of sound in the otherwise silent zoo. Everyone else was gone, the animals asleep, and her only company were empty candy wrappers and kernels of popcorn on the floor, crushed and trampled. She knew how they felt. It’d been a dumb move paying any attention to the email she’d gotten that morning. But, even though she was beating herself up over that, she was secretly glad she’d opened it. At least, now she knew that it was over with Mark. Truly, totally, over.

    Still, that didn’t explain why her ex-boyfriend, (now co-worker, ugh), had sent such a cryptic email blabbering on about how everything she knew was a lie and how no one was who they said they were. Plus, why had he told her to go to the site of her first kiss? Of their first kiss? She was over it, over him. It was bad enough that he’d taken up a job as a zoo-keeper where she worked as one too, but now this? It was too much.

    Jane got up from the bench, it was 9:00pm, and she was tired, cold, and hungry. And really, really annoyed. She started on her way out, seriously considering looking for another zoo to work at. She was almost at the gates when she heard her name called.

    Jane stopped, tempted to walk straight out and back home. Mark wouldn’t come after her; she knew that from experience.

    “Jane, wait!” She heard running footsteps but didn’t turn around, not until she heard another pair of steps join Mark’s, heavier ones, and then another, and another, all of them different. She heard scrapes and uneven stomps upon the concrete, growing louder and louder with each additional sound. When she heard the slaps of wings upon air she knew something was up. Something very, very strange.

    When she finally turned to face the guy she’d waited a half-hour in 50 degree weather, she was struck dumb, her brain much too slow to comprehend what she saw. Lumbering, slithering, flying, and generally pawing their way behind Mark were the animals she took care of in the day. Ally the Orangutan, Berry the black-bear, Sylvia the snake, (not her favorite but whatever), and a whole gaggle of geese.

    Jane’s jaw sprung open in a gasp and she stood stock-still, not even breathing. Mark and his group reached where she was but all she could do was gape, utterly dumbfounded and robbed of words. Mark smiled. The geese honked.

    “So yeah, you’ve been lied to Jane. They guys…they’re not who you think they are. Not exactly.”

    At that, Jane found her voice again. “Mark, what the-“

    “Oh no, not in front of me, dearie. No cursing.” Jane stared at Berry, watching as the bear’s muzzle dipped and small bits of white peeked out from between her black lips. The only thing she could process was a single though, a short sentence that she couldn’t bring herself to believe.

    The. Bear. Had. Just. Talked.

  22. alexcristian20

    “Mark” –I said to myself.Who could that be?I don’t know any „Marks” ,but it’s a cool name, though.And how the hell does he know where I had my first kiss?Is he her boyfriend?She must’ve told him…
    I turned off my laptop and headed straight to the town’s park.It was a cloudy and peaceful evening, that reminded me of the time when I used to walk alone for hours, thinking about my hopes and dreams.God,how much I loved those days, when every single aspect of my colourless existence, every single thought was tangled in her shiny hair.I couldn’t find her.This time, she was too far away from me.
    A man was waiting on the bridge, alone.For a second, I felt quite strange, realising that there were absolutely no other people in the area.It was a sad picture.I knew it was Mark.
    I got closer to him, nervous about our meeting.He turned to me and smiled,as if he’d known me for a lifetime and as if we were buddies,going out for a walk.Mark was taller than me, and maybe a bit skinnier.My common hazel eyes were no match for his electrical blue iris, and so was my hair, compared to his brown curls.I looked like a sad and lonely being, whose appearence had no importance, sitting next to a handsome man.
    -I received your mail.Who are you,and what are you talking about?
    -She needs you,man.She really does.
    -Who needs me?
    -You know who.
    -No,I don’t.
    -Yes,you do.
    -What the hell does that mean?You told me everything is a lie!You told me that everyone around me isn’t who they say they are!
    -I said what you needed to hear, in order to get out of that sinkhole you call a house.
    -Why?!
    He took a cigarette out of his pocket and started smoking his brains out.He looked even cooler than before.
    -It’s not entirely a lie,you know?You do live in a place you hate from the very bottom of your guts and you still call it „home,sweet home”.You’re in a long-distance relationship with some girl and you keep lying to yourself that she loves you.She’s probably banging some dude right now,and you know it.Your life is a fiasco and nobody loves you.Besides all that,the memory of your ex still haunts you everyday,doesn’t it?
    I punched him in the face with all my strength.Instead of fighting back,he laughed at me,like the Devil itself.
    -That’s it,come on!Show me what you got!
    -Why are you doing this?!Why did she sent you?
    -Hahahaha!
    He didn’t seem to hear me.He kept laughing hard,with a mad look in his eyes.
    -Answer me,dammit!
    As I was going for another hit,I tripped on a rock and fell to the ground, unconscious.I woke up several minutes after,but Mark wasn’t there anymore.Nobody was.
    The terrible headache followed me home, like a woman with questionable morals.I killed her with random medicine,and then I burried myself alive,in the backyard of my mind.It was there,deep inside my shallowness,where I have finally found the truth.I stared at the mirror for hours.I knew who he was,I knew who had sent me that mail.

    Mark and I were the same person.

  23. rainyk

    The subject line read, “Everything you know is a lie.” I opened the email and read further:

    Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.

    I snorted. Probably a joke, or maybe some weird phishing thing. I rubbed my eyes, which burned from the strain of staring at the laptop screen for two hours straight. I glanced around the Mountain Mercantile, a coffee shop and grocery where I sometimes went to write. Although I didn’t believe a word of the email, I found my gaze drawn to the others in the shop: two high school girls making espresso behind the counter. A bleach-blonde mom waiting at the register with a stroller, a gray-haired man with a paunch seated across from a boy a couple tables away. A middle-aged woman with an oversized purse browsing the greeting card rack. I thought I recognized some of them from around town. In any case, nothing out of the ordinary for a cow town in Western Washington.

    I realized, though, as I observed each in turn, that I rarely looked at my fellow human beings—really looked. Most of the time they were blurs at the corners of my vision, smudges at the edge of my awareness. Despite my best efforts, when I wasn’t writing I was usually Googling or texting. Sometimes it was difficult to look away from a screen long enough to even talk to my boyfriend. No doubt my writing suffered, too, but old habits die hard.

    I was about to return to my inbox when the middle-aged gal glanced up and looked straight at me. For a brief moment, her eyes turned black, as deep and blank as a starless sky. Goose bumps erupted all over my body. Then she blinked, smiled politely, and turned away.

    My gaze slid to the boy who sat with his back to me. He raised his hand to scratch his head, and in that movement I saw a glint at his nape, just above his shirt collar. I sat up straighter and stared. It was a zipper, in his neck—the skin stitched together with gleaming metal teeth.

    The older man was staring at me. I closed my mouth and sank a little lower in the booth, returning my attention to the email.

    “Not who they say they are.” The words pulsed in my mind. I resisted the urge to look up again and examine my fellow patrons. “Meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss.” It was on a farm just a few miles down the road, beneath an apple tree at the edge of the pasture. But there was nobody on earth who knew about that other than me and Jeremy Godwin from Mrs. Bradbury’s fifth-grade class . . . and maybe a half-dozen of our closest friends. Mark. Mark Wolski? Couldn’t be. I hadn’t seen him in ten years.

    Unnerved, I began packing up my stuff and tossed my empty cup in the trash. I was swinging my computer bag over my shoulder when my phone vibrated with a message from an unknown number: Get out now. Urgent. Only a few of us left.

    “What the . . .” I muttered as I crossed the few paces to the door, eyes glued to the phone display. Then I ran headlong into one of the baristas, and my phone shot out of my hand and clattered to the floor. Where had she come from?

    “Oh, gosh!” she exclaimed with a giggle, brunette curls bouncing. “Sorry about that.” She placed her hands on my shoulders as if to steady me, but there was force behind the grip. Flustered, I started to respond but paused. Her face looked oddly plastic, too stretched at the corners of the mouth, eyes too wide, like a mask. The skin had an unnaturally dewy sheen. Was this the same girl who had made my Americano? How could I not have noticed? I made a silent vow to be more observant.

    When the barista didn’t move, I stepped to the side but stumbled into someone else—the gray-haired man. I spun around and stopped, clutching my bag awkwardly to my chest. Everyone in the place—baristas, mom with stroller, man and boy, middle-aged lady—had encircled me, all wearing odd-looking smiles.

    “What the hell—?” I blurted. Was I in trouble? Did they think I’d stolen something? “I, uh, need to leave.”

    “Sweetheart,” said the barista, her breath on my ear, “you’re not going anywhere. We need you.”

    My phone vibrated again on the tile floor somewhere behind me. “Need me? For what?” My eyes searched around frantically for an escape route.

    “We’ve run out of costumes,” she replied as their hands descended on me. “Such pretty hair, such nice skin,” she murmured, trailing a finger down my arm, as if examining a high-end handbag.

    A slender pink tentacle snaked from the mouth of the bleach-blonde mom, who tucked it back inside with a glossy red fingernail. I gawked, dropping my bag.

    I kicked and flailed, but the odds were against me. The last thing I saw before the pillowcase came down over my head was a figure of sorts gazing over the shoulders of my captors—gleaming and gelatinous, with a slash for a mouth, black holes for eyes, and a necklace of wriggling pink tentacles.

    1. rainyk

      I know this is a tired premise, but I’m writing creatively for the first time in decades so I’m just putting down whatever comes to mind as a way to break through the fear. Seems I have some cliches to get out of my system.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Rainyh, there is no fear on this forum. If you dusted off your fingers and started to write again, bravo to you. It’s like riding a bicycle, You never forget. You have quite an imaginate mind, that hasn’t forgotten how to tell a story, a creepy one at that. I’d say it was a good effort for your first splash. Come join us on the ‘word train’. I guarantee you will have fun with it. Remember, we’ll all here to learn from each other. Welcome.

  24. mimipii

    So some guy named Mark thinks he knows everything about me to know that it’s all a lie. I’d like to meet this Mark and give him a piece of my mind. First of all, there is no one around me to get wary of me. Second, I’ve never had a boyfriend in my entire 22 years of existence. I’m a full time college student with zero time for hanging out. Let alone time for a relationship—one that involves kisses anyway. The relationships I do retain are the standard: loving parents, aunts, uncles and a few close friends and study-buddies. And none are named Mark.

    I delete the email without a second glance only to have another one replace it the next day. This time “Mark” calls himself my “biological father”. Now, this has gone too far. But just to tell myself there is no credence behind all this nonsense, I call up Dave and Jane aka the parents I have known all my life. The conversation goes like this:

    “Mom, Dad. Am I adopted?” Yeah I get right to the point. That’s me. There is no beating around the bush.

    “Of course not, honey”, Mom says quickly, “where did that come from?”

    So I tell them all about the strange emails from Mark. There is silence on the other end of the line and I know I’ve hit a raw nerve.

    “Uh, Mom? Dad? Is there something you’re not telling me?” I question anxiously. Their silence is too prolonged.

    “Okay, sweetie”, Dad cooes, “don’t be upset with us. We just wanted to protect you. Your biological mother was killed so we adopted you. But it happened when you were a newborn so it’s almost like Jane gave birth to you.”

    “And this Mark is really who he says he is? He’s my dad?!” I ask incredulously. “Why did he first contact me now? Why have I never heard from him before? I mean I’m already 22!”

    There’s silence again and I wonder if we perhaps we got disconnected. “Hello? You still there?” I call.

    When mom finally answers it’s chilling, “He just got out of prison”.

    I’m not sure I want to know why he was incarcerated.

  25. frankd1100

    An email on his phone told him he was surrounded and instructed him to make his escape. He raised his eyes to hers as the porcelain mug shook in her hand dripping coffee onto their table.

    From his window seat he saw the telltale, dark blue van pull up to the curb at the end of the block on the other side of the street. He knew a second van would be in position at the opposite end waiting for a signal to rush the cafe.’ That the Council was forcing her to betray him was tearing Gladys apart. They were brilliantly unscrupulous in coercing one’s cooperation.

    He’d turned sixty-five six months before but the sophistication of the underground network had allowed him to run free for this long. Gladys had called and invited him to meet for ‘coffee’ at the Moon-Doe’s Cafe’ in the village. She knew he never drank Moon-Doe’s coffee. He appreciated the cryptic warning but decided to walk into the Council’s trap to protect her from being accused of collaboration.

    He slouched in his chair, seemingly unconcerned, and ‘chatted’ with Gladys about meaningless things. He spotted two security men, each seated conspicuously alone among the tables in the small shop.

    Experience had taught him not to enter a room unless he had a way out. He excused himself, leaving his Burberry raincoat over the back of his chair, and walked casually to the men’s room. As the door closed behind him, in one practiced motion, he threw on the lock, tipped over the trash container and used it as a platform to reach and unlock the window. Gaining the sidewalk he moved quickly into the maze of buildings across the square. He stripped off and tossed aside his Kelly green sweater, and set off to meet his underground handler, Lauren Mark, at ‘K’ Industries, State Street entrance.

    The population control classification system, (PCCS), had been fully implemented ten years before and everyone below a W1SO classification was to be relocated to custodial communities after their sixty-fifth birthday. China had squandered generations of intellectual power and created a lopsided culture by horrificly exterminating millions of females at birth. In this country, age and economic productivity determined classification, enabling the removal of less productive citizens while ‘optimizing’ a gender balanced population.

    An alluring ad campaign depicted scenes of warm weather and smiling seniors around shimmering swimming pools but the truth about the ‘camps’ leaked out. Callous treatment of the internees and the torture of abandonment were the reality in the Senior Relocation camps. Relatives and families quickly forgot their disappeared elders, allowing memories to dissipate like the mist under a morning sun.

    The Senior Relocation Program was lauded for it’s singular contribution of a top secret formula for a nutrient rich fertilizer. Rumors concerning the composition of the odorous ‘super’ fertilizer were ignored. Supplied at low cost, the new organic resource doubled food production and was widely celebrated by the youthful population.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a beautiful horror story, you’ve written, Frank. So realistic and terrifying to me especially, for I would have been someone’s garden fertilizer 12 years ago and I’m worried about my Socal Security collapsing? You’re at the top of your form with this story.

      The MC reminds me of an older Sean Connelly. I wouldn’t mess with him at any age.

      Terrific response to the prompt.

  26. NoMonsterHere

    It didn’t make sense.
    Everything I know is a lie? Did this person, whoever they were, actually expect me to believe this? That there are eight planets in the solar system, that money is made out of paper, that Canada is north of the United States, these were all lies?
    Honestly, I didn’t think that was what the sender meant. People tend to get a bit dramatic when they want someone’s attention.
    Then what was a lie? My life? My job? My friends? I had always been pretty sure that my friends were paid to hang out with me.
    The subject of this email didn’t seem plausible. It was probably a virus of some sort, relying on the human curiosity to plague an unsuspecting victim with computer error messages and crashes. I should probably not open it.
    Oh, but the human brain, though highly sophisticated and complicated, has two weaknesses. One is fear, and the other is curiosity. The voice, the one I and all other human beings know all too well, was calling me. Open it, Henry. Open it and see. It could be important. You could save someone’s life, or change your own. Open it, open it, open it, open it, open it, open it, open it, OPEN IT!!!
    I gave in. I had to know. I clicked on the email.

    Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.

    The sender had no email address.
    Well, that made about no sense.
    I could not bring myself to believe that everyone in my life was lying to me about their identity. Life wasn’t some sort of detective book. Things like that just didn’t happen. And also, that part about the kiss.
    The kiss.
    After much thinking and staring at the wall, I decided on two things:
    1) This was not real. It was some sort of teenage prank.
    2) This email was sent to the wrong address. It was not meant to be seen by me.
    How did I figure out the second thing? Well, it was simple actually, and a little embarrassing.
    I’ve never had a first kiss. I’ve never even had a girlfriend. I just wasn’t bold enough to ask any girl out. I was probably too nerdy anyway.
    I could’ve just deleted the email and gotten on with my life. Everything would have been normal. I could have had a decent life, lots of money, and happiness. I could have forgotten.
    But remember me mentioning the weaknesses of the human brain? Well, I became curious again. Something told me that this was more than a prank. I mean, how many stupid teenagers know how to send an email without an email address? I decided to find the intended recipient and figure this all out.
    That was my first bad decision.

    1. rainyk

      Good humor and narrative voice, and I love suspense you introduce with the last couple paragraphs and especially the last line. His “first” bad decision? I want to know about all the others.

  27. Masked_Mar

    Author’s Note: This is my second attempt to post, since the first time didn’t seem to work.

    * * *

    My fingers trembled on the keyboard. I glanced furtively around the room, looking for signs of some ghostly intruders. This was silly. There was no one here but the sound of peaceful solitude, and this email was nothing but a cruel prank.

    I slammed the laptop shut, rolling my seat away as though my whole desk was on fire.

    This was silly. And stupid. And I wasn’t going to spend one minute wasting my time. Milk. I needed milk. Milk in the grocery. The grocery where I….I was being stupid. But I needed milk. For my cereal. I could certainly not be expected to never go to the grocery store.

    Coats. Keys. Cars. Seat belt. Ignition. Wheels. Brakes. Traffic Lights. Red. Green. Green. Green. Red. A kid on a bike. Brakes. Mark. Mark. Mark.

    This was silly. Just a prank.

    My car was frozen in the store’s parking lot. I started at the bright red store sign. Get up. You need milk. Get up. You need milk. I stared.

    Slowly, my feet walked to the entrance. I didn’t move at all. My feet walked. Left. Right. Left. Right. Carried me to the entrance. Hands opened the door. Left. Right. Left. Right. Carried me to the back where the milk was. Not very romantic, having your first kiss in a grocery store.

    My hands reached for the carton.

    “I’m glad you came.” A man’s voice. Deep, yet gentle.

    My head turned to see where the voice was coming from. He stood besides me, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a basket of mundane items: milk, eggs, bread, cheese.

    “What do you want from me?”

    He placed his hands on my shoulder. I grimaced and stepped away from him. He placed his hands in the air as though surrendering to the police “I’m here to help.” That gentle voice again.

    My eyes studied him. Not bad looking. Attractive, even. But definitely too old. Perhaps this was how he picked up women.

    “Why should I believe you?”

    “Your name is Rachel Clancy. You’re 26 years old. Your father left when you were five. Your mother suffered a stroke ten years ago, leaving you to take care of your little brother. His name is Michael. You love classical music and dogs. Your goal is to teach English to students abroad, but you’re too afraid of leaving your mother and Michael behind. Am I close, Rachel?”

    This was insane. “Have you been spying on me?”

    He smiled. “I know everything about you. I made you. Created you. Formed your very essence with my hands.”

    “Like what. Are you God?”

    He laughed. “No, Rachel. That which you call God creates only that which is alive. And you, Rachel, are not alive.”

    This was really insane. “So, I’m dead?”

    His hands reached across my back, under my shirt.

    I shivered under his touch.

    “Shhh. You’re not dead” His fingers moved along my spine, as though he was dialing a phone number, “because you’re not hu…”

  28. thatbillguy

    From: noreply-3b97e24f@plus.tastee.com
    To: thatbillguy@gmail.com
    CC:
    Subject: Everything you know is a lie.

    Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.

    I stared at the blinking cursor. A layer of dust clung to the glowing monitor. The office AC had gone out during the night. Without its air filtering and dehumidifying effect on the office microclimate, it became a dust-covered, hot and sticky misery. The stale smell of mildew kicked my sinuses into a steady drip. I sniffed sharply as I considered the cryptic message.

    I sent a ‘Who is this?’ only to get the standard automated server response suggesting that if this had cost postage, I would be out forty-six cents.

    The place where I had my first kiss? Waynesboro, Mississippi. That’s over six hours away?
    Sad souls in the hot uncomfortable office continued to peck away at their computers.

    ‘They’re not who they say they are…’

    No one ever really says who they are around here, so that might be entirely true. The last pandemic, the Burn virus, had created boundaries that people just weren’t willing to cross.

    ‘…first kiss.’ Maybe I’m over thinking it. Keep It Simple, Stupid. In the basement, there was a sign.

    K.I.S.S.

    It was an old adage to remind us to not over complicate things.

    ‘My name is Mark.’ In the basement, they used to film a TV game show. Thought Process, I think it was called. On the floor of the stage, was a mark–an ‘X’ drawn in tape– where the host would stand and deliver his monologue to a canned audience.

    I stood up. Curiosity finally got the better of me. Faces looked up as I disturbed the mediocrity. I left the tight confines of the cubicle farm and headed for the elevator. I looked up and closed my eyes for a moment. The air was cool and dry. I pressed the ‘B’ button.

    The doors slid open with a weedy little ding. Dirty yellow light pushed its way in. In the remains of the barely illuminated soundstage, on the taped mark X, a man stood. He wore a shabby, stain covered canvas trench coat. Dirty hair stood out chaotically from his head.

    “You can’t trust anyone else.” He said.

    “Mark?” I asked.

    “You know I’m not.”

    I moved a little closer.

    “You,” he said absently kicking the tape, “are in danger.”

    “From?”

    “Everyone.”

    “Yeah?”

    “The world is a strange place, since Burn.” He said. “Clean food is a scarce resource.”

    I realized what was happening. While Burn was technically gone, all organic food sources had become poisonous… Some mammals had a natural immunity to the virus. I was one of those mammals.

    There was a sting at my neck. A warm rush in my head was followed by darkness.

  29. thatbillguy

    From: noreply
    To: thatbillguy
    CC:
    Subject: Everything you know is a lie.

    Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.

    I stared at the blinking cursor. A layer of dust clung to the glowing monitor. The office AC had gone out during the night. Without its air filtering and dehumidifying effect on the office microclimate, it became a dust-covered, hot and sticky misery. The stale smell of mildew kicked my sinuses into a steady drip. I sniffed sharply as I considered the cryptic message.

    I sent a ‘Who is this?’ only to get the standard automated server response suggesting that if this had cost postage, I would be out forty-six cents.

    The place where I had my first kiss? Waynesboro, Mississippi. That’s over six hours away?
    Sad souls in the hot uncomfortable office continued to peck away at their computers.

    ‘They’re not who they say they are…’

    No one ever really says who they are around here, so that might be entirely true. The last pandemic, the Burn virus, had created boundaries that people just weren’t willing to cross.

    ‘…first kiss.’ Maybe I’m over thinking it. Keep It Simple, Stupid. In the basement, there was a sign.

    K.I.S.S.

    It was an old adage to remind us to not over complicate things.

    ‘My name is Mark.’ In the basement, they used to film a TV game show. Thought Process, I think it was called. On the floor of the stage, was a mark–an ‘X’ drawn in tape– where the host would stand and deliver his monologue to a canned audience.

    I stood up. Curiosity finally got the better of me. Faces looked up as I disturbed the mediocrity. I left the tight confines of the cubicle farm and headed for the elevator. I looked up and closed my eyes for a moment. The air was cool and dry. I pressed the ‘B’ button.

    The doors slid open with a weedy little ding. Dirty yellow light pushed its way in. In the remains of the barely illuminated soundstage, on the taped mark X, a man stood. He wore a shabby, stain covered canvas trench coat. Dirty hair stood out chaotically from his head.

    “You can’t trust anyone else.” He said.

    “Mark?” I asked.

    “You know I’m not.”

    I moved a little closer.

    “You,” he said absently kicking the tape, “are in danger.”

    “From?”

    “Everyone.”

    “Yeah?”

    “The world is a strange place, since Burn.” He said. “Clean food is a scarce resource.”

    I realized what was happening. While Burn was technically gone, all organic food sources had become poisonous… Some mammals had a natural immunity to the virus. I was one of those mammals.

    There was a sting at my neck. A warm rush in my head was followed by darkness.

  30. ilovecupcakes

    This is my third comment and my first two didn’t get posted so…. Ya, this is my first short story, and I’m only 12, so don’t judge me, please.

    The phone buzzed on the table. “Hey, you got an email,” Alex said. I picked the phone up and opened the weirdest email I had ever received in my life. After I read it, an awkward silence filled the room- Alex and I were speechless. When I regained my senses, I sent back a reply. “Do I know you, b/c u r freaking me out.” All I got in response was “Just come. P.S- bring Alex with you.” That was it. I grabbed Alex’s hand and dragged him out the door. “I don’t know who the idiot is, and why he’s stalking me- us, but I feel like we need to go. We might as well bike there, rather than ask for a ride.” Alex just nodded. As we mounted our bikes and rode to the school, I dreamily recalled that night if the concert, the way Alex had held me close in the secret room. We parked our bikes on the curb, went into the school building, and ran to the backstage of the auditorium. Yanking open the trapdoor, we raced down the steps, and hastily pulled open the last door. There stood a man wearing classic office apparel, a sign on his suit reading “Mark”. Before I could say anything, he glanced at his watch and said, “I’ve got five minutes to talk before anyone suspects anything out if the ordinary.” He looked at Alex and me. “Now, where to start?”

    1. frankd1100

      Wow! If you are only 12, I sincerely hope you stick with and work hard at your gift. In a brief space you have established a rhythm for the arc of your story. More impressive to me are the nuanced points of feelings and character. Well established authors say the keys to good writing are, reading the great authors, write every day, and write, write, write… Good job on this one.

  31. AlaskasOwn

    I turned away from the computer screen and looked at the cream-filled doughnut I held aloft in my left hand. Everything I know is a lie, I wondered. Jacky had just promised me that she had saved the last cream-filled doughnut for me, setting it aside wrapped in a paper towel. What if she lied? I did not like jelly doughnuts. I looked at the pastry more dubiously. Somewhere in my mind, the thought occurred to me that whoever was joshing with me didn’t literally mean that “everything” was a lie and surely they were taking a bit of artistic license just to amp up the dire nature of their promise.
    Perhaps it has grown in me from the years of working in the office doldrums, or maybe I just have an everlasting childishness about me. I grabbed a pen from the cup on my desk. I brought the business end straight into the center of the doughnut and pulled out a core sample. It slid out, covered in delicious Bavarian cream. Already, the validity of the e-mail was in question. Even though no one could know my thoughts, I felt guilty for having doubted Jacky’s bakery offering.
    I looked at the stack of paper left on my desk to be entered into the computer system and then I read the e-mail again, this time looking beyond the first sentence. I didn’t know a Mark. I tried to look at the address from which the e-mail had originated. It was mine. Someone had hacked into my e-mail and left a warning for me. If that was the case, then who knows how long they had been poking around my past e-mails. It would not take them long to discover the e-mail diary I had been keeping since I was a teenager. Call it dorky if you like, keeping a diary, but no one was supposed to see it and we all do things that would be a little shameful of out of sight from others. At least I only had a diary and not a clandestine subscription to cartoon animal porn. If one was to read my diary, careful perusing would reveal another shameful fact, I had never actually had a kiss, thus another problem; I didn’t know where to go.
    I wheeled my office chair to the open wall of my cubicle and peeked into the hall. Most of my coworkers were still out to lunch. All clear. I drew back in, closed the e-mail, switched off the screen. I stood up, turned and crashed into Jacky.
    “Oh, I’m sorry Jacky. I didn’t see you there.”
    “It’s alright. Where are you off to in such a hurry?”
    “I well…”
    “Wherever it is I think you should stay right here.”
    I looked at her puzzled, “What do you mean?”
    She leaned forward and whispered, “I just wanted to tell you that no matter what anyone says, you are a really sweet guy,” she smiled, “Call me Mark.”
    She pressed her lips to mine. Being called Mark was kind of kinky, more than a little weird, but wow, what a kisser.

    1. Silver Sister

      You had me at doughnut! But seriously, I liked the story. I feel hopeful for this couple. He’s a little different and so is she. It could work. I liked your MC’s realization that good kissing makes up for a lot. Good way to end it.

  32. Masked_Mar

    My fingers trembled on the keyboard. I glanced furtively around the room, looking for signs of some ghostly intruders. This was silly. There was no one here but the sound of peaceful solitude, and this email was nothing but a cruel prank.

    I slammed the laptop shut, rolling my seat away as though my whole desk was on fire.

    This was silly. And stupid. And I wasn’t going to spend one minute wasting my time. Milk. I needed milk. Milk in the grocery. The grocery where I….I was being stupid. But I needed milk. For my cereal. I could certainly not be expected to never go to the grocery store.

    Coats. Keys. Cars. Seat belt. Ignition. Wheels. Brakes. Traffic Lights. Red. Green. Green. Green. Red. A kid on a bike. Brakes. Mark. Mark. Mark.

    This was silly. Just a prank.

    My car was frozen in the store’s parking lot. I started at the bright red store sign. Get up. You need milk. Get up. You need milk. I stared.

    Slowly, my feet walked to the entrance. I didn’t move at all. My feet walked. Left. Right. Left. Right. Carried me to the entrance. Hands opened the door. Left. Right. Left. Right. Carried me to the back where the milk was. Not very romantic, having your first kiss in a grocery store.

    My hands reached for the carton.

    “I’m glad you came.” A man’s voice. Deep, yet gentle.

    My head turned to see where the voice was coming from. He stood besides me, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a basket of mundane items: milk, eggs, bread, cheese.

    “What do you want from me?”

    He placed his hands on my shoulder. I grimaced and stepped away from him. He placed his hands in the air as though surrendering to the police “I’m here to help.” That gentle voice again.

    My eyes studied him. Not bad looking. Attractive, even. But definitely too old. Perhaps this was how he picked up women.

    “Why should I believe you?”

    “Your name is Rachel Clancy. You’re 26 years old. Your father left when you were five. Your mother suffered a stroke ten years ago, leaving you to take care of your little brother. His name is Michael. You love classical music and dogs. Your goal is to teach English to students abroad, but you’re too afraid of leaving your mother and Michael behind. Am I close, Rachel?”

    This was insane. “Have you been spying on me?”

    He smiled. “I know everything about you. I made you. Created you. Formed your very essence with my hands.”

    “Like what. Are you God?”

    He laughed. “No, Rachel. That which you call God creates only that which is alive. And you, Rachel, are not alive.”

    This was really insane. “So, I’m dead?”

    His hands reached across my back, under my shirt.

    I shivered under his touch.

    “Shhh. You’re not dead” His fingers moved along my spine, as though he was dialing a phone number, “because you’re not hu…”

  33. bilbobaggins321

    DESPERATE MEASURES- PART TWO

    The black cat slinked down from the curb to the road, its gentle paws padding silently across the grimy pavement without a single purr emanating from its whiskery mouth.

    It was virtually unnoticed by anyone. The street was empty at this hour, and nary but a gentle wind whispered through the lampposts, which were themselves flickering. It was as if some apocalypse had already happened, and these animals and buildings were the refuse of a long-gone empire.

    This silence was betrayed by the soft crunching of boots, swift and agile, only barely swiping on the pavement in their haste. These pairs of boots, regrettably, belonged to a certain General Horatio and his elite team of Jackers. They automatically halted at the corner, confident in their mission. The general, wiping his precious handlebar moustache, addressed the force.
    “64301 go around the back. 54679 and 43587, come with me.” His tone was low.

    The henchmen scurried to follow his orders. They split up into two parties, one swinging surreptitiously through a back alley to the rear door of the building. At this point there was no pretense of secrecy, and Horatio reached inside his pocket for his stunner. His assistants already had theirs at the ready.
    The door came down with one resounding bang. Their target, a woman sitting in a red chair directly in the middle of the living room, bounded to her feet with a yelp. She was halfway to the kitchen when the stunner beam hit her back, and she crumpled breathlessly to the carpet.

    “In the name of the Alliance and of the Chairman, we now take under our custody all in this house,” he announced, striding into the house like he owned it. Slowly taking off his green gloves, he moved to the chair. With a smug smile he looked over the paralyzed woman.
    “Ripple effect?” He said without looking to an assistant as they tore apart the house.
    “Ordinary. There’s no one within 500 feet,” a Jacker replied, checking the warp tablet.
    “Excellent. And is the message to Mr. Jones on its way?” A slight nod.

    “I hope he likes it,” his words drenched in contempt. His voice changed slightly to one of sarcasm.
    “And what have we here? Charlotte Grey herself. I’ve heard so much about you…”
    The lady struggled to move away, in rapid jerks, but it was a futile effort. Cabinets slammed closed, and after a few minutes the Jackers came back to their general with their spoils in a few boxes.

    “Good. Now let’s get out of here, before any agents arrive.”
    Two of the Jackers grabbed the lady by the arms, and they dragged her through the front door and into the dusty warehouse. The rusted bars creaked closed securely, the gloom dragging them all into mere shadows. The general turned on his heel as she was shoved inside the cell.

    “The zoning front door is one of my favorites,” he said nonchalantly, as if imprisoning Innocents in cyber-prisons forever and ever was what he did for a living, with no remorse. And it was.
    “Lock her up. Make sure to give her food and water every other hour.”
    He exited the room with 64301. The key locked into the gate behind him, seemingly sealing her fate. The other two Jackers stood menacingly in the room still, watching her every move under hooded eyebrows. In the dim-lit hallway outside, the duo walked a few steps more, and then zoned back into the control room of the Alliance.

    They sat down in the plush chairs in front of the touch monitors and screens, the general swiveling over to a small end table and sipping on a Coke. He would contact the Chairman within minutes to report of the success of the mission.
    “You do have to hand it to the Innocents for their drinks,” he continued. The lady was almost forgotten. The Jacker, in a husky voice, spoke up, looking at his boss with worry.
    “It isn’t my duty, sir, to be asking this, but why did we kidnap that lady specifically?”

    The general looked surprised that his dutiful assistant was even saying anything at all. “64301, it is not your duty, and normally you would stun without a whimper, but since this is a sensitive operation, I will indulge you.” He paused momentarily. “That woman is the key to unhinging Mr. Jones’s plan.”
    “How?” The Jacker leaned his elbow on his knee.
    “One word: romance. Any time a relationship is involved, it’s so perfectly easy to blackmail.”
    The Jacker seemed to understand.
    “What bad luck did he have, to fall in love with an Innocent?”
    A wicked smile curved the ends of his lips.
    “Very bad luck, indeed.”

    The general left the room to go visit the Chairman. The plan was wrapped up. No doubt the whole mission of the agents would be derailed, as Mr. Jones would abandon his target on the train to a lesser, minor agent to pursue after his first love. A smug grin continued on his face. They were done.

    Little did Horatio know that the same innocent-looking cat that had witnessed the whole scene was Marks’s highly updated AI surveillance, prowling the area. Comms had already sent a message to Jones, telling him of the whole thing. Mark would meet their chief agent at the place where the two had their first kiss, the Regent Park downtown, and, together, they would stitch together a heroic plan.

    (Sorry, it’s extremely long. I just preferred to finish it, as usual.)

    1. Observer Tim

      A satisfying finish to this chapter, Bilbobaggins. Now all we need to see is what happens when Mark comes back to kick butt and take names (assuming he remembered to bring a pen).

      Great story. Yeah, it’s long, but I for one don’t mind.

      1. bilbobaggins321

        Thanks again, Tim, for the words. Go hobbits! And, I think Mark would prefer more to take names with his warp tablet than his pen (less cumbersome). :D

  34. Critique

    Shelley laid the exacto knife beside the mountain of boxed books in receiving and read the
    email: “Everything you know is a lie. Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”

    She frowned in confusion. Who was Mark? And how did he know about that?

    Her face burned remembering the unexpected kiss from her manager by the fountain in Gallagher Park. He’d sucked her in with promises. Two days later he transferred to another bookstore. Three weeks now and not a word. Lesson learned: forget the jerk.

    Picking up the knife she reamed on it and watched the blade cut through the cardboard and then slice deep into the soft flesh of her left thumb. Blood welled splashing onto the worktable and inventory sheet. Shocked, she looked up when the receiving doors banged open and three store employees rushed in. Was someone snarling? Her world tilted – faded out.

    The new manager dashed in right behind them.

    “Everybody. Get back!” He caught her before she hit the floor.

    Later in emergency – her thumb sporting eight stitches, her arm encased in a sling – she learned the manager’s name was Mark.

    He offered her a ride home.

    Sitting in the front seat she rubbed the back of her hand to ease the throbbing and looked at him.

    “Mark, did you send me an email?” She asked.

    He took a deep breath. “I did. There’s something you should know.”

    “How do you know about…. that kiss?”

    “Clayton was my cousin.” Mark pulled unexpectedly into Gallagher park and shut the car off. “He was the first to die. He made me promise to warn you. Their mission is to infect everyone.”

    Shelley could only stare at him in disbelief. “What are you talking about?”

    “Haven’t you noticed anything odd – heard anything weird.” His teeth gleamed in an incredulous smile.

    “We think the entire staff are infected with a virus that eats the brain. When you cut your thumb? They could smell it.” Mark’s dark eyes were intense. “The only cure is blood from an uninfected person.”

    Shelley recalled strange snarling noises when the staff surrounded her earlier. She stared out the windshield at the full harvest moon peeking behind a cloud than at Mark dumbfounded. “I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. I don’t believe you.”

    “It’s also extremely contagious.” Mark’s voice dropped to a low growl. “We… you could be next.”

    His eyes glowed in the fading daylight. The park was deserted. She looked at her shirt covered in dried blood. Prickles swarmed like bees up the back of Shelley’s neck.

    1. abhijit jiwa

      Interesting. Questions arise; was Mark actually infected when he took Shelly for the ride. Did the story end in Shelly too becoming fully infected? Tight and compact story.
      Can’t wait till the zombies all coming rushing out into the streets.

    2. Critique

      Thank you everyone for the comments. Zombies aren’t really my thing ;) but letting imagination take flight with a prompt… that’s what makes it so fun.

  35. ilovecupcakes

    Ok so this is like my first time writing anything, and I’m 12, so don’t judge me! Please.

    The phone buzzed on the table. Alex picked it up and said, “look, you got an email,” I clicked on the app. I had just received the weirdest email in my life. I read it, and an awkward silence filled the room- Alex and I were speechless. When I regained some sense, I replied. “Ok- u r freaking me out. How do u know about my personal life?” All I got in reply was, ” just come- ps Alex should come 2″ That was it. I put the phone in my back pocket, grabbed Alex’s hand, and dragged him out the door. “Look, I don’t know who the idiot is, but I feel like we need to go. We might as well ride our bikes instead of ask for a ride.” As we mounted our bikes and rode to the school, I dreamily recalled the night of the concert, the way Alex held me in his secret room. We parked our bikes on the curb and ran into the building, into the auditorium, and yanked open the hidden door backstage. Racing down the stairs, I pulled the second door open. There stood a man writing classic office apparel, with a sign that read, ‘Mark’. Before I could say anything, he glanced at his watch and said, ” I have five minutes before anyone notices anything out of the ordinary.” He looked at the two of us. “Now, where to start?”

COMMENT