The Letter in the Alley

Walking to catch the bus, you see a young boy look both ways before entering an alley. When you follow him into the alley, he has disappeared. Instead, there is a neatly folded note lying on the pavement. What does it say and how do you react?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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The Writer’s Book of Matches

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573 thoughts on “The Letter in the Alley

  1. rebekkalynn9800

    Hide-and-go-seek

    “Ugh, the bus is late, as usual.” I groan as I look at my watch. I felt like I had waited there forever! “Will ANYTHING exciting happen today?” I thought out loud. I looked down the street for the bus. But just as I was about to give up, I saw movement. It wasn’t the bus.
    There was a boy, maybe no older than 10 and he looked like he was trying to get my attention. He wore what looked like white sweatpants and a matching loose, white longsleeved shirt. He waved his arms around wildly and then ran down an alley.
    I glanced the other way and when I didn’t see my bus, I ran after the boy. “Finally! Something exciting might happen today!” I thought as I sped down the alleyway. I looked around and stopped short. I didn’t see the boy anywhere. To make matters worse, there was a fork in the alley.
    And I couldn’t go back.
    “Some adventure,” I mumbled, “I probably just imagined the boy and hoped that he would have some kind of-”
    I was cut short by a wailing sound coming from the left path.
    I froze in place. The wailing was suddenly silenced. I looked to the left and then to the right. The right certainly looked more inviting. But the left… Well, someone could be hurt. And if I went to the right, I might be putting someone in the very real position of certain death. With that in mind, I started to walk down the left path.
    At first, I was walking. Then jogging. Within a minute, I was running full stride. The wailing returned, but this time I wasn’t afraid of it. I finally found the source. There was the same boy as before, but he was on his knees, his face in his hands.
    “Are you okay?” I asked cautiously. He looked up at me and spoke,
    “Please find me.”
    His voice came out as a whisper and I almost didn’t hear him. I extended my hand to him, but he never took it.
    Because he vanished into thin air.
    Poof! Gone! I jumped back, unsure about what I saw. I scanned the area with my eyes, but found no trace of him. Finally, my eyes rested upon a nicely folded piece of paper in place of where the boy had been just moments earlier. I grabbed the paper and unfolded it. The last thing I expected to see was a map with very detailed directions on it.
    But that was what it was. Upon further investigation, I also saw the names of places not too far away from where I was standing. And so the adventure continued!
    I walked to each place until, finally, I got to the destination. Although, “Destination” might be too strong a word for where I now found myself. It was just a big ditch off the side of the road. When I looked into the ditch, I saw something I never expected to see.
    “Playground equipment?” I thought confused by the sight before me. I slid down the side of the ditch and now I saw something I hadn’t before. “Correction, Half-buried playground equipment.” I thought as I looked around.
    “Please find me.”
    The voice! Is the boy here?
    “I’m hiding.”
    The voice seemed to reach across this playground graveyard and it chilled me to the bone. I shivered as he spoke again.
    “Ready or not, here I come!”
    I saw him again, but this time he was wearing worn out jeans and a thin jacket over a tee-shirt. And he was hiding.
    Now the hiding was fine. But it was where he was hiding that I thought was incredible. He had found a tree that was slightly uprooted. So he could hide under the tree and no child would ever find him.
    My eyes widened as I thought those exact words.
    “Please find me,” I whispered, “All he ever wanted was to be found.” I suddenly realized where I was standing. This was the site of a massive sinkhole that occurred over 50 years ago. No one standing here survived. The boy manifested in front of me again and this time I was not afraid.
    I knelt down and told him, “I found you. You can go home now and see your momma.” The boy looked up at me and smiled through tears. “Thank you,” Was all he said before he disappeared. I walked over to the collapsed tree where the little boy once hid. “Ready or not,” I whispered,
    “Here I come.”

  2. Mossflower

    Hey everyone, this is my first post and I’m pretty proud of this little piece I quickly wrote up.

    I could’ve of sworn that I saw a little boy; no older than ten that day. I can remember what he was wearing, his hair colour, his face; not because he was extremely recognisable, but because of what he did. I was at the bus stop, when a flash of movement caught my eye. I saw a boy in a bright red Iron Man shirt and shorts dart into an alleyway, running fast, making me want to check whether he was injured, or being chased.

    I crept towards the alleyway, my eyes searching for him, expecting to find him straightaway; his shirt wasn’t exactly hard to miss, but as a looked, I couldn’t see anything except a folded piece of paper lying on the rain soaked ground. I picked it up, unfolding it cautiously: it could be a personal letter, such as a love letter that I shouldn’t pry into.

    I opened the letter, and I wish that I’d never looked at it. It was a simple handwritten note, but the handwriting scared me straightaway. It was the writing of my best friend, who I remembered had a son who loved superheroes. Horrified that I’d let the boy disappear, I didn’t even read the note, I just ran back to the bus stop and called her. That was the day that I learnt my best friend’s son had been kidnapped, and the note was the note he used to leave school early, the day of school he never came home from. This day haunts me; I could have found him alive and saved my dearest friend so much heartbreak. Even now, ten years later; that day is my biggest regret.

    1. taylersdgva

      What was I supposed to do? Let the innocent looking little boy get shot? My heart is racing a mile a minute, and the terror is written on my face.

      Before I get too far, let me explain. I saw the little boy, who couldn’t be older than five, running towards the alley screaming at the top of his lungs, “please don’t shoot me! No, please.”

      Instantly, I ran after him. I had no idea what was going on, but I was compelled to help. The most surprising thing was that nobody was behind him. But I went anyways. I followed him until I was forced to stop because a hearse pulled up in front of me. I ran around it, again confused. There was no driver.

      As I reached the alley it started to pour. And it was when I frowned down at my new white shoes that I saw the paper on the floor. I grabbed it, tucked it in my coat, and continued to run, but through the blur of the water, all I saw were garbage bins and cars. No little boy.

      I continued to pursue him anyways, thinking he fell, or was too far ahead of me to see. But finally, after who knows how many miles, I came to a dead end. It was a blocked of valley, and even as I stared down at it, all I saw was a lot of dirt, no little boy.

      So, I sat down under a cabana, and opened the note. Amazingly, the ink wasn’t runny and the words were clear. “TURN AROUND. DON’T PURSUE ME. I AM NOT WORTH IT. I WILL BE TAKEN NO MATTER WHERE YOU HIDE ME. I HAVE NO HOPE.” I turned the paper over and saw more writing. “You’ll want a better explanation, I’m Conner, a five year old boy stupid enough to point a gun at a criminal. The gun was in my back pocket, don’t ask me how it got there, I don’t know. The man had tried to take my best friend with him in his hears. Again, I don’t know why. I found the gun, aimed it at him, and pulled the trigger. It hit him alright, knocked him to the floor. Then something raised out from the ground, it looked just like him, looking back on it, perhaps it was his ghost. Anyways, it had a gun and it ran after me. I already knew it wasn’t just for killing him. I’m special. I can do things ordinary people can’t. I don’t know what things because I am only five. I know that he wanted me. He wanted me to go with him in his hears, and bury me alive. I could see what he wanted from me. He wanted me to be put in a grave and covered in dirt so that when I ran out of oxygen, I would no longer be his problem.”

      1. rebekkalynn9800

        This is really good! I’m not very good at writing short stories, (I’m more of a poetry type person, which I will give an example), but I can tell it’s a good story, short or not.
        Example of my original poetry:

        Monsters under my bed

        I always believed in the monsters under my bed.
        They were always there.
        never leaving.
        They filled my nightmares and brought torment to my sleep.
        never sleeping
        I never got up until the lights were on.
        The lights chased them back into the shadows.
        never failing.
        My parents said it was my imagination
        but I knew better.
        They exist.
        they were always there.
        never leaving.
        They might not live under my bed anymore
        but they still exist.
        They haunt the shadows in my mind
        tormenting me.
        never ceasing.
        I never thought that I would be free
        of their grasp.
        but then I found a light
        in the darkest places
        of my mind.
        Now they Scurry away and cower
        Never Staying.
        They shouldn’t exist.
        They shouldn’t be here.
        They need to leave.
        never welcome.

  3. Not A Hipster

    Comments welcome!
    —————-
    Dan walked in time to ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. The bus ride to Boston University was bearable if he had his iPod with him.
    ‘God, I hate Interpreting Literature classes,’ he thought. ‘Trying for an English major is NOT as easy as it looks.’
    Walking to the bus stop from his apartment, he saw a scrawny boy look around carefully, then dart into an alleyway. The boy looked underfed and homeless. Dan curiously peered around the corner into the narrow passageway, but he couldn’t see anything. He tentatively followed the boy. He walked for a solid 5 minutes before seeing a pinprick of light. Dan quickened his pace before bumping into a wire fence. Rubbing his nose, he looked down at his feet. There was a neatly folded piece of paper. Dan picked up the paper curiously, unfolded it, and began reading.
    “Daniel- Cooperate. -The Council,” he read aloud.
    “Well, what is that supposed to-” His voice was suddenly muffled by a gloved hand.
    A smooth and charming voice responded,”As we said, cooperate.”

  4. J.J.Hollis

    I have just registered with this site today. This is also the first time I have ever made my work public – little bit nervous! Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks

    A day’s fun activity

    I played with the straps of my backpack, trying to get it to sit comfortably as I walked to my bus stop. School put the bus on for those living on the outskirts of the city. There were not many, most were rich enough to live in the center of the city, close to the schools.
    Sat at the bus stop I tried to think up a new excuse for later for why I skipped school today. The bus would arrive in ten minutes and I needed to be gone before it did. Looking up the road my fun activity for the day was walking down the opposite side of the road, straight toward me. It wasn’t the excuse that I’d be telling my dad, but it would be such a fun way to start the day.
    Stan was seven years old. Only three years younger than me, but appeared to be closer in size to a five year old. I watched as he turned into the alley between The Golden Arms, my dad’s favourite pub and the boarded up electrical shop, which had been an awesomely easy place to shop lift from.
    I knew the alley was a dead end. I was the reason the owners of the electrical shop had built the ten-foot wall at the end of the alley. It had made robbing the shop from the back more difficult, but not impossible. That’s what nights and hammers were made for.
    Stan didn’t belong in this part of town. He had a rich mummy and daddy and his clothes screamed money as did the Bentley that dropped him off at school every morning. I was going to enjoy stealing his phone, tablet and whatever other devices or money he had on him. My mind had already gone to a darker place, I wanted to hit him in his tiny face, and laugh at him as he wet himself in fright as the big bully from school robbed him.
    I all but ran into the alley, skidding to a stop, ready to grab Stan by the throat.
    He wasn’t in the alley. It was a mess, but it was easy enough to see no one, not even a tiny child, hid among the littered garbage. I wanted to squeeze the little brat’s neck just for outwitting me.
    I walked to the end of the alley stupidly hoping to find an invisible ladder that would explain Stan’s escape. Instead, I found a folded note, I only picked it up because I recognised Stan’s self-important monogram. Inside the folded note there was one line of printed text: I own the world: I own you, Billy the bully you are going to die for your crimes.
    For a second I felt ill, until I remembered that it was Stan that I had seen coming into the alley. Turning to leave, laughing to myself, I was faced with six men and Stan. Stan! The little twerp had gotten himself bodyguards.
    “Good-bye Billy the bully” he said and then pointed a gun at me…

  5. Jacob T

    I’m late. My day has hardly begun and I’m already making it harder on myself. I race around my dirty apartment throwing on my one nice outfit as I try to think of a reason I’m late to tell my potential employer. “I over slept” is certainly honest. But, good first impressions aren’t about honesty, they’re about what I want them to see and, more importantly, what I choose to hide. Sitting at my computer with my wrinkled button-up half tucked into my slacks with only my left shoe on while I print a resume I fudged three minutes after the interview should have started is definitely one thing I want to keep to myself. I slip on my right shoe and finish making myself presentable just as the printer spits out the last word in my list of half-truths and accomplishments. I snatch the resume out of the printer tray and notice my pen sitting next to a half-empty mug of coffee. Well, it probably was coffee before it sat on my desk neglected for a week. Better take that pen. There’s nothing worse than looking unprepared to write something down at an interview. Well, except for being late. But you definitely don’t want to be late AND have to borrow a writing utensil. First impressions, after all. I slip the pen in my pocket, dump the once-coffee in the sink, and precariously perch the empty mug on a mountain of dirty dishes as I rush out the door.

    There’s that weird neighbor kid again. It’s 12:07 on a Tuesday and he’s just now leaving his apartment. Shouldn’t he be in school already? I guess with his mother working all day, she’s not in a position to be his truancy officer as well. I turn and lock my door behind me as he passes, head down, decked in the usual attire of dark ripped jeans, shades, and a long-sleeve jacket with the hood over his head. It’s July. Girls his age must still be into the mysterious, brooding, vampire-type. I say hello, as I usually do when I feel the pressure to be cordial to a stranger simply because we sleep with only a wall between us. Right on cue, he continues forward without even a turn of his head to acknowledge my existence. Teenagers.

    A quick power walk down the stairs and a forceful swing of the lobby door later, and I’m greeted with loud and bustling sounds of the city; people talking loudly on their cell phones to sound important, cars honking at time slipping away as they sit in traffic, sirens wailing as they chase death and danger, the bus pulling away from the stop down the street…

    THE BUS!

    I turn heel and sprint to the stop, only to get there and have a better view of the shuttle turning out of sight. Dammit.

    With a frustrated sigh, I flop down on the bench and look up at the smoggy sky through the smoked tinged plastic canopy of the bus stop gazebo. I reach into my pocket for my phone, but grab my pen instead, pulling it out to nervously click it in an impromptu rhythm to my internal monologue. There’s really no point in going now. The next bus isn’t for another hour and it’ll take longer than that to walk there. I set the manila folder housing my linen-paper dishonesty and stare blackly across the street.

    There’s that weird neighbor kid again. I watch from across the street as he looks turns toward an alley and disappears out of sight after glancing all around for followers. Kid’s been watch too many movies. Who follows a possibly mute teenager?

    Me.

    I slip my pen in my pocket, grab my resume and cross the street in pursuit, trying to turn my curiosity into concern. Maybe he’s trying to dodge some bullies? Or is slipping off to do drugs? I could get there just in time to save him or stop him and possibly give a little purpose to what is turning out to be a waste of a day.

    I turn 360 degree in the middle of the alley, peeking between every dumpster lining the buildings on either side, and the solid brick wall at the end. No trace of anyone other than a confused man turning in bewildered circles contemplating the idea of having stumbled upon the real-life Peter Parker. I walk to the dead-end wall at the end of the alley trying to find anyway out but up and almost step on something that catches my eye.

    A piece of folded paper. Normally such a thing would blend in with the rest of the alley trash, but this one is different. It’s still white, for one, and folded neatly as if it were on it’s way to an envelope addressed to an elderly woman in a nursing home wondering if her children would visit her this year. Once again my curiosity takes hold, and I open the note. I should call grandma this Thanksgiving.

    Blank. Completely blank. I flip it front to back several times hoping for writing to appear and give this oddity some purpose, and myself a reason for opening it. I take one last look at the blank page when I notice in my periphery the color of the bricks bleeding from the walls of the buildings like paint. Still clutching the paper, I glance around, confused and frightened as the color bleeds and fades from not only the buildings, but the street behind me, the shadows in the alley, and even the sky itself. My surroundings become a skeleton of lines in an unfinished sketch. Soon, even the lines fade until I’m left standing alone in empty white space.

    What the hell just happened? I look down at the paper, now depicting the alley where I once stood, and flip it front to back several times, hoping to reverse whatever I had just done. Nothing. Just before the panic sets in, I hear footsteps and voice behind me.

    There’s that weird neighbor kid again.

    “Welcome”, he says as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

    “What the…,” I don’t even have time to finish.

    “I’m not really sure how it works. I’ve only done a few times myself.”

    “A few times,” I parrot back in a near panic, “Then you know how to leave?! Great! Tell me how!”

    “Why would you want to go back?”

    A poignant and presumptuous question. Two can play at that game.

    “Well, you said you’ve gone back. Why do you?”, I quip smugly.

    “My mom would worry. I’m all she has since dad left too. But, I’ve seen you at your place. You never have company, don’t have a girlfriend that I’ve noticed, and I rarely see you leave.”

    This kid is way too observant. Normally when confronted with such harsh truth, I just lie and say I haven’t lived in the city very long. He knows I’ve lived here for at least three years now. Honesty it is then.

    “I don’t know what this place is, other than nothingness. Look around, kid. Frankly it’s a little creepy.”

    Without a word, he pulls a pen from his pocket a draws circle in front of him. He grabs it and gives it a firm shove. We both watch as it rolls off into the emptiness, becoming a dot before disappearing altogether.

    “This place isn’t nothing. It’s anything,” he says as he hands his pen to me.

    My thought returns briefly to reality as I remember the pen in my pocket. I’m prepared! Not exactly for what I had in mind, but prepared nonetheless. I pull it out and click it a few times to impress the kid with my forethought. It fails to dazzle as much as it did in my head.
    I stare at the blankness. This vast empty space is the only thing separating me from whatever I want. Well…that and my complete lack of artistic ability.

    “Well,” he says expectantly, “draw something.”

    “I can’t”

    ‘Why not? You have the tool you need.” he retorts in yet another shining moment of profound pragmatism.

    “I mean, I’m not very good at drawing” I snap, as if it were somehow his fault that I never practiced it enough to know.

    There’s a brief pause as my hatefulness diffuses into the air. Before I can take a breath to apologize, the kid continues

    “Well, what do you see?”

    “Nothing”. I respond, proud I finally had something smug to say again.

    “Then that’s your problem,” he says, both ignoring and trumping my response, “You’re focused on what’s there and not what could be there.”

    My silence allows his profound solution to resonate within me as I stare at my pen. The silence is broken with another gentle prod,

    “Just draw whatever you want.”

    “I don’t know what I want” I retort, growing more frustrated as I succumb to the analysis paralysis of possibilities.

    “That’s why you can’t draw well then. You have to figure out what you want to draw first”.

    I’m beginning to think this kid never says hello to me in the halls because it’s not possible to turn a greeting around and make me feel stupid.

    “You have the tool you need. Just draw something.”

    Again I freeze.

    “I don’t want to mess it up. This is a pen, you know. I can’t erase it.” I say, puffing up a bit with pride at the truth of my statement.

    “So, you’d rather have nothing than an imperfect something?”

    He’s good. He’d probably be a good student if he ever went to school. Unable to think of something clever, I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, it’s the truth.

    “Yes. I’d rather have the possibility of perfection, than to be stuck with imperfection.”

    Yet another brief pause. The kid shrugs his shoulders in defeat.

    “Then that’s why you can’t draw.”

    As if the ringing truth of his words willed it, the color begins to return to the vast emptiness. The kid fades away as the world did before. I close my eyes and let out a yell of fear.

    My scream echoes slightly in my empty, yet somehow still messy, bedroom. I look around as I sit up, trying to get my bearings. I rub my face with my hands as I attempt to piece together what must have been a crazy dream. Time passes as I attempt to recall what had just happened, but the events evade me, just out of reach of conscience mind as it fades out of memory. Out of habit, I turn to look at the clock on the grate beside the mattress on the floor I call a bed, unable to shake the feeling I had forgotten something important.

    I’m late.

  6. thewriteman16

    As I walk down the alley I notice the mysterious man has left me a note, as I walk closer I decide to take a look at the letter. The letter tells me that if I want to learn more to meet him at the old warehouse next to the river. I contemplate going to the warehouse or just ignoring the letter and going on with my daily life, but ultimately decide that I have had enough ordinary for a while and that I am going to meet the strange man and get to the bottom of things.
    As I step up to the doors of the warehouse I can’t help but wonder what I would be doing if I hadn’t picked up the letter in the alley. Most likely I would be sitting at home reading a book I had already read going on with my regular old boring life. In that moment I know I have made the right choice coming here tonight. I finally get up the nerve to open the door and see a single table with two chairs the mysterious man stands by the table waiting for me to sit down. Now that I see his face better I realize he is much older than I originally thought, appearing to be in his 60’s. Despite his age he was in remarkably good condition. He sits down offering the other chair. Once I have sat down he begins to explain why he has brought me here. He says that he has been following me. My first reaction is amazing anger, but I decide that I will let him finish before I let my anger known. He explains that he has been sent to recruit me for a job in the military, in a new type of squad. When I ask why I was chosen he explains that it is because he needs people of high intelligence with computer knowledge. He explains that if I would like to join the team I need to be at the airport with a packed bag tomorrow at 8:00 A.M.
    On the small plane I see 5 other people including the mysterious man who has introduced himself as Don. I have been informed that we will be landing in Colorado where we will begin training for the new squad. I could not be happier with the chain of events that has brought me to this new life. I am so happy that my new life is one of action and adventure for no longer will I sit around transferring information into computers. Now I will be programming and designing fighting machines that will aid the army and prevent the loss of life of U.S. soldiers around the world.

  7. embersofher

    I strode briskly along the desecrated road towards the last bus stop, wrapping my scarf around my face to act as a filter for the acrid mid-summer air. Suddenly there was a flash of red in the corner of my eye. I turned to see a boy, in his late teens like me, draped in a brilliant red coat. It was silken and flowed down his back like a cape, with a striking black hood that glittered in the sunlight. But the strangest thing wasn’t his gaudy clothing; it was the lack of an oxygen tank on his back. I opened my mouth to enquire but something made me hesitate. Perhaps it was the intensity of his gaze as he peered into the darkened alleyway before him, the alleyway I could’ve sworn wasn’t there a moment ago, or maybe it was the secretiveness with which he glanced around, as if checking for watchers, before striding purposely into the darkness.
    The screech of the bus pulling up beside me broke my trance and I squinted up at the bus driver as the doors wheezed open. He gestured impatiently, already late for his check-in with HQ. I glanced back at the alleyway, curiosity warring with duty inside me…
    “I’m sorry,” I said, smiling up at the driver sheepishly, “but there’s somewhere else I have to be today.”
    The old man scoffed in disbelief, pulling away from the curb as the doors hissed to a close.
    I bit my lip as the bus disappeared into the distance, rethinking the wisdom of my decision. Now here I was, stranded alone in the deserted countryside, my closest homestead a two hour walk away and not enough oxygen in my tank to last the trip. But I had to know.
    I ran into the alleyway after the boy.
    He was gone.
    There was no way out, the walls were smoothened concrete so he couldn’t have climbed, and the rest was sealed off. The only entrance or exit was the one I had come through, and I was standing next to it the entire time, I would’ve seen if he left. So where had he gone?
    I beat at the walls with my fists in frustration. He wasn’t wearing a tank, but he looked human. And humans need to breathe. I sank down to my knees, cradling my bleeding knuckles in my lap. And then I saw the note. It was written on a piece of paper. A real piece of paper like the ones we used to use in class when I was a kid. And he’d written me a message. It took me a minute to decipher his handwriting; it was like the beautiful loopy scrawl my mother use to write with, cursive, I think it was called. I re-read the note twice; sure that I’d misunderstood, because what he had written was impossible. But what if he was right? I reached up to the incision under my neck, my fingers deftly clutching the tube that carried oxygen into my body.
    And I tore it out.

  8. DeannaVM

    The sky was gloomy, covered with dark clouds and drizzling rain. I was on my way home in the city, standing under the cover of the bus stop waiting for the next bus to show up when I noticed a young boy walking into a dark, ominous alley. He appeared to be around the age of six or seven. He had dark hair that hung in his face and clothes that were stained and looked as if they hadn’t been washed in a while.
    I looked around to see if anyone else walking up and down the street had noticed. No one made a move to follow the boy into the alley, so I decided to follow him myself to make sure the boy was okay. I was appalled that such a young boy could look so grimy and shook my head in disapproval at a lack of supervision for such a young boy.
    I was making a mental list of the questions I would ask the boy and the actions I would take based on the outcomes out of the various answers he could give. I figured the questions I was going to ask him would point me in some kind of direction on what to do with him. I definitely could not just let him freeze out in the cold by himself. He didn’t have a jacket, his shirt was torn and nearly sleeveless and his pants were worn and torn. I don’t think I saw any socks or shoes on his feet either.
    But my mental lists did not prepare me for what I saw.
    There was nothing in the alley. Nothing. Not a dumpster; no fire escapes on the two buildings, no garages or doors, no windows. Nothing but brick wall by brick wall by brick wall. I was shocked. Had I imagined the little boy walking into the alley? No, I don’t think so. He seemed too real, too vivid to be a fragment of my imagination. I know I could be a little over imaginative sometimes, but I honestly didn’t believe this was one of those moments. I know what I saw.
    I stood at the start of the alley, staring into the dark space as I examined each wall of the alley, and I examined then the ground. Then I blinked a few times when I noticed a piece of paper on the floor. I walked deeper into the alley to pick it up. It was a regular lined piece of paper, folded as neatly as the script inside. It read:
    “I am the eye of the world. I see all and I know all. I know your deepest desires, so the question that remains is: will you risk everything to have your wishes satisfied?”
    My brow lifted and my face took on a confused expression. What is this? A joke? I strode across the alley, looking for a secret passage that may be hidden on one of the walls or on the floor with no success when a voice stopped me.
    “Am I the one you’re looking for, master?”

  9. morganalexis1990

    Okay. This one’s a little more than 500 words.

    If she hadn’t had to fill out so much paperwork at the eye doctor’s, time wouldn’t have been an issue. Just as Minerva turned the corner onto Chester Avenue, she noticed the bus’s tires spinning, its tailpipe breathing a farewell into the late November chill. She tried to chase after it, make sure the driver knew he was one passenger short, but her first step was too harsh. She felt that old, nagging pain slither from her lower back, down her right thigh, and coil multiple times around her knee.
    “Oh,” she grunted as she steadied herself. She clutched at her leg and then her back, trying to bully her sciatica into submission. By the time Minerva’s pain was fully soothed, the bus had long ago turned the corner onto North Trace Street. Had she been fifty years younger, she still wouldn’t have been able to catch up to it. She let out a frustrated huff. The next bus wasn’t due for another two hours. Minerva could wait. She brought her knitting for just such occasions.
    “Guess I should call Jennifer. Tell her I’ll be a bit late,” she thought as she shuffled towards the stop’s glass-encased bench. “Since I’ll be gone longer than usual, I’ll have to tell her to keep an extra-careful eye on Wallace.” In their sixty-two years together, Minerva and Wallace were rarely apart. As age progressed, Wallace became increasingly disoriented, especially whenever Minerva would leave the house to run errands.
    “He cries, constantly when you’re gone,” Jennifer, their Home Health Aid had once told Minerva. “He cries because he thinks his wife has left him for good. He talks about the baby too; how all three of you are going to the Adirondacks on Sunday. That always cheers him up.”
    “We’ve never gone to the Adirondacks,” was Minerva’s reply. It was true. They had never made it there. In 1958, they had plans to go one Sunday; Wallace, Minerva, and baby Christopher. Their car flipped along the way though. The baby was lost. Wallace doesn’t recall that part of the story anymore. Every now and again, he would still ask about Chris. At first Minerva would tell him the truth. Each time she would have to watch a newly grieving father be born again, again, again, and again. And she too would feel fresh mourning claw at her spirit. Finally, she learned to answer with, “He’s at the babysitter’s today, remember?” I want him to forget, she would tell herself. Forget everything. Me, the baby. He won’t have to cry over us anymore. It’ll be lonely for me, but in a lot of ways, I suppose it already is.
    A constricting in her leg pulled Minerva from her thoughts. She was sitting on the stop bench, still waiting on the bus. Fifteen minutes had passed and she still hadn’t called Jennifer. She paused as she was feeling around in her handbag for her cell phone. Just across the street stood a boy. This boy reminded her so much of Wallace when he was younger. The way the sun sat in his dark hair made it look almost white from where Minerva was. He carried with him a cheeky, checkerboard grin, much like the one Wallace used to give her when he would get caught dipping his finger in the cake batter. She wanted to tell this child how much he looked like her husband, so much so that it felt as if something was propelling her off the bench and across the street. The boy took no notice of her.
    He stopped abruptly in front of the alley between Dynasty Chinese Restaurant and Mickey’s Jewelry Shop. After looking around and noticing Minerva coming towards her, he gave a wink and ran off into the alley. “Boy! What are you doing back there,” She called. “That’s no place to play.” Her phone began to ring, but she had no time to stop and answer it. She had to get that boy out of the alley. He could get hurt. She was running as much as she was able, but the pain in her leg was becoming crippling. “Boy! Get on out of there! Go on home now, you hear? Don’t make people worry over you!” Finally, she was in the entrance of the alley, but the little boy had vanished. Out of breath, she stopped and sat against one of the walls to message her leg. The rustling of paper being scooted across the chilled pavement caught Minerva’s attention. Looking to her left, she saw a piece of notebook paper, folded carefully. It was marked “For You.” Before she could open it, Minerva’s phone began to ring again. This time, she answered. “Hello?”
    “Minerva? It’s Jen.” She sounded pained and exhausted. “I’ve been trying to call you!”

    Wallace’s funeral was small, and warm, and it left Minerva tired, almost world-weary. That night, she sat on his side of the bed and looked around the room. It was not the house she remembered. Her Wally wasn’t there. She reached with knotted fingers into the pocket of her night gown and pulled out the note that she had been wanting to read. She placed her head on her husband’s pillow and opened it. “Minerva, I won’t ever forget. I don’t want to. Again, again, and again, Your Wally.”

  10. Icyss

    Grey eyes caught the disappearing form of a familiar young boy through the heavy rain that clouded her vision. Something was off about this, something that kept her from walking away. It was a feeling of mystery that slowly consumed her, beginning at her fingertips and spreading onward until she couldn’t deny it. With a sigh, the woman looked both ways and followed the boy into the alley.
    When she arrived, the majority of rain was caught by the roofs of various houses. Scout had waited too long, and the boy had already vanished, but left in his wake a small white parchment. It was folded neatly, and still held some of it’s former crispness despite the humidity. Scout considered leaving it there. It was not her business to look at what he had left. But at the same time, she couldn’t resist. Excitedly lifting the note off of the dirty ground, she opened it it’s content.
    It was a neat hand written note, with various columns and sections, but the main point was conveyed directly at the top. Something was eerily familiar about the handwriting, but she ignored it and began reading.’ Dear reader. I know I am worth nothing to the world, but I just wanted to get a few things established. This is not the fault of anyone besides myself. Mom, you did a great job. I love the entire family even though we have our small fights on occasion, and Dad, you did fine. I suppose I was never considered a quitter, but there are a few things that simply become unbearable. I am sorry, so sorry, for this, but I can’t stand this any longer. No matter how you try to make me feel accepted, no matter how surrounded by people I am, I always feel alone. Please, don’t cry, though. Any of you, either friends or family. Love you. Hunter. P.S, this is for police evidence only, please do not read.’
    Scout shoved the note into her pocket, unable to stop the tears from cascading down her face as she ran, out into the street. She needed no words to know what was happening.
    “Hunter!” she yelled, voice cracking as the tears mixed with rain, but it was no use. She came to a stop, directly beside the body of her only child.
    “no…” the words took an effort to get out, and were strangled even when they came. She held his head in her lap, stroking the hair out of his eyes. The boy had apparently jumped from the building’s roof after dropping the note, enough to kill him, but just barely. She had just taken out her phone, to call an ambulance, or just someone, when his eyes clouded over and he was no more. A small wail escaped the woman’s throat, and she collapsed, next to her son, small sobs escaping her mouth through the steady streams of tears.

  11. K Lee

    I tilt my face up, resisting the urge to stick out my tongue. The first snowfall of the year has forced many inside, but I have nosy neighbors and you never know who is watching. The few people I do see outside are huddled in thick coats, slowly shuffling through the thick snow. I pull my hat down farther, trying to cover my ears, and smile brightly. I love snow. Suddenly a boy runs past. Startled, I almost don’t notice the glove he dropped beside me. I let out an exasperated sigh and pick it up.
    “Hey, you dropped this,” I yell, my voice shattering the wintry silence. The boy turns to glance at me and smiles. I hesitate, confused. People don’t usually smile at me. In the split second it takes for me to compose myself the boy darts into an ally. Intrigued beyond belief, I run after him. I enter the ally only to find it empty. I look to the end, which has been walled up since last summer. My eyes rove the walls for doors or windows within reach. There is no way he could have left the ally without me seeing. I stare down the vacant ally for a few more seconds, willing there to be something else there. Finally I turn to leave, my cheerful attitude completely ruined.
    Amid the falling snowflakes I see a slip of paper floating on the wind. I snatch it out of the air, my curiosity once again piqued. I look at the scribbled letters, trying to comprehend the tiny message. I look up in alarm and hear a voice as everything goes black.
    “Time to go”

  12. zanyrox

    I can’t see him clearly as he has a grey hoody that obscures most of his face, but I see him duck into my alley. I feel like he can’t be up to anything good at 6 in the morning. I’m debating if I should continue to the bus stop or see if I can maybe stop this kid from graffiti-ing Mrs. Randall’s fence, or whatever he’s up to. My sneakers squelch in the puddles from yesterday’s rain and I’m painfully aware of the sound and how weird I am for following someone who is probably just up to nothing. The indecision halts me and I wonder why I feel like I can stop him even if he is a criminal, and who exactly I think I am to go around watching people’s actions. It obviously has not been a good morning. I’m close to turning around and seeing if I can still make the bus when I see the kid dart out and run in the direction opposite me. Did he see me? I can’t tell. I decide to just peek in the alley and make sure nothing is too messed up before leaving. I don’t see any spray paint, and feeling foolish I start to turn when a bit of white against the wet gray of the alleyway strikes me. It’s an envelope, placed on the ground by the garage entrance of a neighbor who I don’t know. Realizing that I am a sick and terrible person, I slowly reach for it and see it hasn’t even been closed. In that case it wouldn’t hurt, too much, to glance at it, I tell myself. Ignoring the voice that’s telling me I’m a pile of shit, I pull the letter out. It’s short.

    “Mom,
    I’m alive. I don’t want to come home where he can hurt me. If you love me, just stop trying to find me and realize that I am safer where I am now.
    I’ll always love you and please stay safe. Please break free. Keep her safe too.
    Love,
    J”

    Oh my god, what have I just read. I slip the paper back in the envelope and prop the envelope against the door. My hand is shaking and I feel like shit. Did I expect to read a receipt or a rude note telling someone to learn to park? This is some serious private family shit that was none of my business. I start running and when I get to the bus stop, soggy leaves on the floor is all I find. The next bus is fifteen minutes away which means I am probably going to end up being half an hour late to work.
    I decide to just not think about the note since it isn’t meant for my eyes, but my mind has already gone ahead, wondering about this family. I figure the mom’s husband or boyfriend is the problem and that he must be abusive, but I definitely do not have enough information to come to that conclusion. The woman who lives there is short and quiet, brown haired maybe. I think about how she probably works nights since she’s come home in the morning whenever I have seen her in the past. I’ve never talked to her though. I clamor on the bus when it gets here, shoving the kid who sits near the front and who also usually rides the early bus with me. He is an asshole, but he’s 9 so I have to act like I don’t care. I always get a good “accidental shove” in when I can. I can see him glaring at me and plotting revenge as I put in my headphones and fade away. I think of a boyfriend in college, and I fear this note is taking me back to that dark place.

  13. Kylero

    The rain hadn’t stopped all day, plopping and tap-tap-tapping it’s way down as if the clouds were being twisted dry. People out on the streets were bundled up in their coats and scarfs, hiding their faces, from what little sun forced its way through the coal colored clouds, underneath their opened umbrellas.
    Days like today make it easy to see why zombies are everywhere. Television, movies, and books: the walking dead are more alive in the media than they were in anyone’s imagination in the 90’s. Blame it on technology, I guess, or society’s dependance on status updates and how many likes their posts garner. We’ve become more interested on making the next news clippings humorous than the actual information.
    I’m not saying I’m any better. In fact, I love zombie shows. But today, it all seemed overdone. As if I’d read this script already.
    Maybe that’s why I noticed the boy, running past me, through the dead sea. His face, red and damp under his thick black framed glasses, running across the street from the screeching of tires and honking of horns.
    “Watch out!” I yelled, but only the zombies looked back, scouring at me.
    I don’t know if it was embarrassment or concern for the kid that led me to follow him, but I did. Running through the traffic of cars and zombies like the boy, looking for his red-striped beanie.
    Reaching the street’s corner, I thought I’d lost him.
    “What a waste,” I thought, watching my bus drive past.
    I turned around and started back, when the kid poked his head out of an alley, peering around the corner to me, before sneaking his head back in.
    I ran until I reached the alley and turned the corner, gasping for breath as I entered the alley.
    Empty.
    “Hey.” I yelled, hoping he’d pop out from behind something. “Look, kid, I’m not going to hurt you. Which, now that I say that, I’m sure that’s exactly what someone who would hurt you would say, but trust me. I’m not like that.”
    I walked down the alley, looking for him instead of talking like an idiot, but there was nothing. No sign he’d been there. I turned around, confused and completely worried that I’d gone bat-shit crazy. I reached the alley’s exit and stopped. Closing my eyes, I sighed exasperatedly.
    “Relax. It’s all in your head,” I told myself. “Like usual.” I began doing the breathing technique my doctor taught me. I focused on being calm and when I opened my eyes, I was. Another deep breath and I readied myself to head back to the when I noticed a wrinkled piece of yellow paper on the ground. I bent down and picked it up off the pond-like pavement, careful to not tear the wet paper as I peeled away the edges from each other.
    There, in the middle of the page read:

    “Congratulations! You found me!”
    -Waldo

  14. P.S.

    “Oh no I’m late!” I said looking at the clock. “9 again. It’s always 9”. I jumped out of bed, tripping over the random cords other clutter that lies on my bedroom floor. Made my way into the bathroom, skipping a shower and halfway brushed my teeth before I rushed out. Slipped into my wrinkled suit that I wore yesterday and ran out of the door. “Why is he spiting me? Why me?” Running down the busy Apple streets. Acting out my rightful role as a worm as I burrow through the crowds making my way to the core, my bus stop. As I pushed through the blank faces that were in front of me, I noticed a small boy running towards into an alleyway between two apartments to my right. He seemed in a hurry as if he was delivering a letter to the queen of England. I decided to swamp roles and play the act of the knight. I was already late anyway and I don’t get paid enough for what I do. Dashing into the alleyway after the boy, I saw a dark cloth slip behind the brick wall at the end of the road ahead of me. Picking up my pace, I shot forward at full speed through the empty alley and wisped around the corner. My heart stopped as I laid eyes on a dead end. The boy was nowhere to be found. The black cloth was just a paper bag stuck on an exposed nail in the tagged wall. Leaning against the wall in front of me was a folded origami figure in the shape of a dog. Confused and curious, I stumped towards the paper dog and began to unfold it once I had my hands on its sharp paws. What was written inside brought even more confusing to my situation.

    “You are already late. You probably shouldn’t be reading this. Don’t worry who I am, just know that I am here to help break your curse”.

    I tossed the dissected dog with all my might before it was carried away by the wind. I watched it as it flew towards the wall tagged wall that help betrayed me seconds before. The paper guided my eyes to the words written on the red blocks.

    “We’re watching you”

    1. snuzcook

      Some nice images here, but (hate to say) the typos kept interrupting the flow so I had to reread and interpret. Would enjoy reading a proofed version…

      1. P.S.

        I apologize. It’s my first post and I typed this in a place where spellcheck wasn’t an option. I will try to post better quality writing next time. I just wanted to see how the community is around here. Thank you for the comment.

  15. BiancaB

    The day the slaughter of the adults started, I was cursing the bus for being so damn late.
    The revolt had started with clusters of boys and girls and teens, meeting at the corners of the streets and in playing fields. The addresses of some forums had been passed from hand to hand, hidden inside little scraps of paper to burn once read, and not on mobile phones where ‘adults’ could find them. Some assumed command; each captain chose his own men. This time, the weakest were called first, and for a long time spied their families to know when to leave the door of their homes open. That night parents woke up surrounded by their children’s friends, their sons and daughter in front of everybody. Richard must have been confused at seeing our little boy, Andy. Little Andy, who always tripped over his feet. Little Andy, who could never guess the accent of a word right.
    But I found out everything later, with alarms and people screaming all around me. For now, I knew only the touch of cold air on my nose, and the throbbing of the hangover threating to make me throw up at the bus stop under the eyes of the rich-looking woman waiting beside me.
    I stamped my boots. The snow crunched hard under my feet. The chick looked at me from her fur-rimmed coat and wrinkled her nose. I stopped, but the snow kept on crunching behind us.
    A boy had said goodbye to his friends and was running into an alley, the schoolbag bouncing off his shoulders. The keys hanging from the bag clinked, then fell down in the snow with a thump. “Ehi!” I cried, but he didn’t hear me. I picked the keys up, thankful for my gloves, and looked at his friends to see whether someone would have offered to take them. But they were all staring at me, huddled together in their scarfs, like a pack of wolves watching a deer from afar. “Your friend lost his keys,” I said. Nobody moved. “Won’t you take them?”
    The pack stayed still.
    I shrugged. I hated when children use silence against adults. Ignoring them, I turned and followed the boy’s steps up to the alley. The boy had disappeared from sight, but perhaps he would have noticed that there was no clinking behind him anymore, and would have come back to look for them. I walked past piles of hard snow and garbage. There was a spot of yellow not too far away. I picked it up too – a scrap of paper, this time. “Worser than Hansel and Gretel,” I muttered. Behind me, a distant bang echoed in the street. I turned, but heard nothing else. The paper had been folded four times, and I unfolded it again, deciphering the dribbled ink and the messy handwriting. “Team 19. Public garden near bus stop, Collins Street up to the pub.”
    The snow crunched behind me, at the end of the alley.

  16. BiancaB

    The day the slaughter of the adults started, I was cursing the bus for being so damn late.

    The revolt had started with clusters of boys and girls and teens, meeting at the corners of the streets and in playing fields. The addresses of some forums had been passed from hand to hand, hidden inside little scraps of paper to burn once read, and not on mobile phones where ‘adults’ could find them. Some assumed command; each captain chose his own men. This time, the weakest were called first, and for a long time spied their families to know when to leave the door of their homes open. That night parents woke up surrounded by their children’s friends, their sons and daughter in front of everybody. Richard must have been confused at seeing our little boy, Andy. Little Andy, who always tripped over his feet. Little Andy, who could never guess the accent of a word right.

    But I found out everything later, with alarms and people screaming all around me. For now, I knew only the touch of cold air on my nose, and the throbbing of the hangover threating to make me throw up at the bus stop under the eyes of the rich-looking woman waiting beside me.
    I stamped my boots. The snow crunched hard under my feet. The chick looked at me from her fur-rimmed coat and wrinkled her nose. I stopped, but the snow kept on crunching behind us.
    A boy had said goodbye to his friends and was running into an alley, the schoolbag bouncing off his shoulders. The keys hanging from the bag clinked, then fell down in the snow with a thump. “Ehi!” I cried, but he didn’t hear me. I picked the keys up, thankful for my gloves, and looked at his friends to see whether someone would have offered to take them. But they were all staring at me, huddled together in their scarfs, like a pack of wolves watching a deer from afar. “Your friend lost his keys,” I said. Nobody moved. “Won’t you take them?”
    The pack stayed still.
    I shrugged. I hated when children use silence against adults. Ignoring them, I turned and followed the boy’s steps up to the alley. The boy had disappeared from sight, but perhaps he would have noticed that there was no clinking behind him anymore, and would have come back to look for them. I walked past piles of hard snow and garbage. There was a spot of yellow not too far away. I picked it up too – a scrap of paper, this time. “Worser than Hansel and Gretel,” I muttered. Behind me, a distant bang echoed in the street. I turned, but heard nothing else. The paper had been folded four times, and I unfolded it again, deciphering the dribbled ink and the messy handwriting. “Team 19. Public garden near bus stop, Collins Street up to the pub.”

    The snow crunched behind me, at the end of the alley.

  17. artemis khan

    I picked up the origami rose with fingers that would rather be holding a drink, and unfolded the edges. My bloodshot eyes adjusted.

    Blue words read: I knew you’d follow me…let’s see if you’ll follow your heart back to life. Your wife loves you, Brekker. She came to me in a dream. Ghosts are fond of children, you know. Now go catch that bus to something beautiful.

    I left that alley, and my past…behind.

  18. Keith

    Hugh Nelson looked up just in time to see the boy walking toward the alley. The kid stopped, looked to his left—looked to his right then disappeared from sight. Something familiar about that boy, he thought…

    He opened his briefcase, removed his newspaper and tried to read the headlines. He couldn’t concentrate, though, the boy’s face—there was SOMETHING about that face. It’s no use, he thought, as he refolded the paper and placed it back into his briefcase. A quick glance at his watch told him the bus wouldn’t be here for awhile.

    Curious, he stood up and walked over to the alley’s entrance. The alley was deserted, the boy, nowhere to be seen. A closer look at the alley revealed an alley unlike any he’d ever seen in his 20 plus years in New York.

    The alley went straight back to a brick wall. It was no more than an entrance, with three walls four stories tall. Interestingly, this was the cleanest alley he’d ever seen. No trash cans, no litter, the usual piles of junk were glaringly absent. Most mysterious was the lack of doors, windows, or fire escapes. Since when does a New York alley look like this, he wondered? And where was the boy?

    Looking down at his watch Hugh realized he needed to get back to the bus stop. It was then he noticed the white square at his feet. Reaching down Hugh picked up the neatly folded piece of paper. He unfolded the note and read:

    Hugh, your life is in danger. You MUST do exactly what I tell you. DO NOT TAKE THE BUS TO WORK! Go home to your wife, Ellen. Do it NOW! DO NOT go into work today.

    Hugh read the note a second time. What the…is this a joke, he wondered? Suddenly feeling very self-conscious he turned and walked back to the bus stop.

    “Go home to Ellen,” he thought, what was this all about?

    Just then the bus arrived at his stop. Hugh stepped back and allowed his fellow passengers to board. When the last person cleared the steps he began to step up—then stopped. Something was holding him back. Was it the note? Was it the kid’s face?

    “Hey buddy, you coming on board or what,” the driver yelled down at him.

    Hugh looked up, paused, then shook his head slowly. “No…I, uh, I forgot something at home,” he mumbled.

    “Fine,” said the driver closing the door and pulling away from the curb.

    “So you had ME go through the portal because you new granddad would recognize me”?

    “Yes, son. You look so much like he did at your age. I knew he’d be curious and hopefully follow you into the alley.”

    “Well it worked, Pop.”

    “Yes it did, if it hadn’t you wouldn’t be here, son.”

    “So what WAS the date you sent me to so I could stop grandpa from going into work?”

    “It was September 11, 2001.”

    1. BezBawni

      Oh my, I almost cried out when I read the last line. You must have a great deal of courage to post something like this, I mean the subject is very delicate and painful for so many people. I don’t live in the US, but my heart is bleeding now at the memory of the awful event. I so wish your story were true and people could have been saved. Your story was a hard blow, I don’t know what to say.

      1. Keith

        BezBawni, thank you for reply. Yes, I was concerned about the sensitivities and wasn’t sure if I should go there. But felt after 10 plus years it was time, for me, to move forward.

  19. agnesjack

    O.K. Here’s my minimal word entry (29).
    _____________

    The boy beckoned me into the alley with a smile. When I got there he was gone. There was a note on the ground. It read:

    “Tag! You’re it!

  20. tanjacrouch@comcast.net

    I heard the bus door open and the faint clinking of coins dropped into the toll container followed by the contraction of the mechanical linkage that pulled the doors closed. The engine accelerated and it continued down the street without me. People rushed past, some exchanged muffled conversations. The “don’t walk” sign bleeped a warning. The world continued to move rapidly around me but I was a frozen statue in their midst, transfixed by the yellow paper folded into a tight little square lying on the ground before me.

    Deeply engraved into my memory were the words neatly handwritten across the page, “I’m sorry I didn’t call but I knew you would try to change my mind. Please keep Benjamin with you. It isn’t safe for him to return home right now. I trust you to make the right decision. Love, A.”

    If my ten-year-old adventurer had only obeyed the command to deliver it before I went to school and if I had not decided to use it as a free pass to skip out for the day I would not be stuck here reliving over and over again the final carefree moments of my life before they took me. The constant torment of regret forced me to relive this sliver of time again and again. I heard squeal of breaks from another buses arrival. The escape of air as the door broke the seal and extended open. I tried to communicate with my legs to turn around and start toward the bus but they refused me.

    “Please,” I prayed.

    The hand that grasped hold of mine was warm and strong.

    1. snuzcook

      Tanjacrouch,
      I really liked this post, and re-read it a number of times.
      I have not quite grasped if the MC is Benjamin or the intended recipient of the note.
      But that uncertainty did not inhibit my receiving the emotional impact.

  21. shaferkg

    Hugh looked up just in time to see the boy walking toward the alley. The kid stopped, looked to his left—looked to his right then disappeared from sight. Something familiar about that boy, he thought…

    Hugh Nelson opened his briefcase, removed his newspaper and tried to read the headlines. He couldn’t concentrate, though, the boy’s face—there was SOMETHING about that face. It’s no use, he thought, as he refolded the paper and placed it back into his briefcase. A quick glance at his watch told him the bus wouldn’t be here for awhile.

    Curious, he stood up and walked over to the alley’s entrance. The alley was deserted, the boy, nowhere to be seen. A closer look at the alley revealed an alley unlike any he’d ever seen in his 20 plus years in New York.

    The alley went straight back to a brick wall. It was no more than an entrance, with three walls four stories tall. Interestingly, this was the cleanest alley he’d ever seen. No trash cans, no litter, the usual piles of junk were glaringly absent. Most mysterious was the lack of doors, windows, or fire escapes. Since when does a New York alley look like this, he wondered? And where was the boy?

    Looking down at his watch Hugh realized he needed to get back to the bus stop. It was then he noticed the white square at his feet. Reaching down Hugh picked up the neatly folded piece of paper. He unfolded the note and read:

    Hugh, your life is in danger. You MUST do exactly what I tell you. DO NOT TAKE THE BUS TO WORK! Go home to your wife, Ellen. Do it NOW! DO NOT go into work today.

    Hugh read the note a second time. What the…is this a joke, he wondered? Suddenly feeling very self-conscious he turned and walked back to the bus stop.

    “Go home to Ellen,” he thought, what was this all about?

    Just then the bus arrived at his stop. Hugh stepped back and allowed his fellow passengers to board. When the last person cleared the steps he began to step up—then stopped. Something was holding him back. Was it the note? Was it the kid’s face?

    “Hey buddy, you coming on board or what,” the driver yelled down at him.

    Hugh looked up, paused, then shook his head slowly. “No…I, uh, I forgot something at home,” he mumbled.

    “Fine,” said the driver closing the door and pulling away from the curb.

    “So you had ME go through the portal because you new granddad would recognize me”?

    “Yes, son. You look so much like he did at your age. I knew he’d be curious and hopefully follow you into the alley.”

    “Well it worked, Pop.”

    “Yes it did, if it hadn’t you wouldn’t be here, son.”

    “So what WAS the date you sent me to so I could stop grandpa from going into work?”

    “It was September 11, 2001.”

  22. charlynchu

    There was a slight breeze as I bent down to pick up the note. There was no trace of the young boy anywhere. My hands slowly and gingerly opened up the note. “IT WORKS!!!!” I looked up into the air just in time to see the young boy’s ecstatic smile. “My father did it! He invented the flying potion! It really works on people!” He started doing loops in the air and shrieking excitedly.His infinity loops started to distorted before I realized that he was losing speed and altitude. Suddenly, he fell out of the sky. Instinctively, I ran towards his spot with my arms outstretched. His weight was unexpected, but I managed to maintain my balance. As I looked at him worriedly, he looked up and beamed brightly. “I could fly!”

  23. Wingless Illusion

    I end up walking to early to catch the bus, standing there I open the pocket watch that’ s hanging around my neck to do a time check. Suddenly a boy runs into me not paying attention but looking down at the same pocket watch as mine. I watched the boy turn down the alley and I just couldn’t get rid of the curiosity of the boy having the same watch as mine so i ran after him.

    When I reached the alley I peeked around the corner no ones there. I began to walk down the alley until I come to a dead end. When I turned around there’ s a brick wall a couple feet away from me and the alley way has disappeared. “What’ s going on?” I turn around and place my hands on the wall pushing. “It definitely is a real wall maybe the other one is just an illusion.” When I turn back around there is a girl standing there instead of the boy but she looks similar to the boy. She stares at me with the pocket watch in her hands then looks down at the pocket watch as her eyes become blank. Something makes me reach around my neck to open mine. My eyes go blank, when i come to its dark.

    “Where am I?” In front of me is a mirror, I look in it. Suddenly twin children appear pounding on the mirror. I fall back onto the ground. “Mom, you have to run away! Get out of here, he’ s coming! ” “What, Mom? I’ m not your mother. I don’ t have children.” “Mom, look you gave us your pocket watch.” “What? How do you have the same watch as mine?” “Mom, he’ s here. Close your eyes, don’ t look him in the eye.” For some reason I listen to the children and close my eyes tight. I feel a breath on my neck. “Who’ s there?” “Foolish woman, why did you follow those children here?” “Because they are my children and they came to me for help.” “So you admit they are yours?” “Well I don’ t know but I believe if they say I’ m there mother then I’ m sure I’ m their mother.” “Open your eyes and look at me. If you do, I will free you.” “Don’ t listen, Mom.” “I won’ t.” “The watch, quickly wind it!” I still keep my eyes shut as I wind the watch. When it doesn’ t wind anymore I open my eyes and stare into the watch. My eyes grow heavy and begin to shut.

    When I come to I’ m laying on the ground, next to my pocket watch and a letter. I push myself up onto my knees and open the letter.
    “Dear Mom, In the future you will have to make a complicated decision. This decision will change the future forever. You must select the right patg or even we will not exist. One more thing always remember the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” This simple saying may save you in the future. We love you mom. Please don’ t mess this up, we have faith in you.”
    My hands slant downward as the letter falls out of my hands and a tear slides down my cheek. “What should I do? Can’ t I go back and help them? Or do I have to just wait it out? What was that place anyways? What was that thing they did not want me to look into the eyes of? So many questions unanswered rushing through my head. Where do I begin to find the answers?”

    1. Amy

      … because he’s been abducted by aliens? Mauled by tigers? Slimed by giant slugs?
      No matter what Billy’s circumstances, I loved this little ditty. Its staccato approach left just enough of an impression.

  24. Doug Langille

    Melanie folded the paper and placed it reverently on the coffin. I hugged her tightly as she buried her face in my chest, hiding from the judgement of the dispersing crowd. The note was simple: ‘I’m sorry, Dad’

  25. op2myst

    It was hot, very hot and all I wanted to do was catch the bus. I had been walking for I don’t know how long and my shirt was sticking to my back. At least the bus had air conditioning. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young boy dart into an alley. He looked both ways and disappeared, but he didn’t see me watching him. Okay, what’s going on, I thought. He must be up to something. I followed him, but he had really disappeared. Just as I was about to turn and leave I saw a piece of paper. Slowly, I picked up the paper not knowing what I would find, but thinking it would probably be just a kid’s drawing or homework.

    I stared at it. “My father is abusing me. If he finds out I wrote this note he will kill me and my sister. Please help me. I live at the corner house. My mommy has been gone for a long time and she never came back. Please help.”

    Is this a joke? What if it isn’t? I had to do something, but I’m too scared to go to the house by myself. I call the police and wait in the humid heat. What if I have made a mistake and there is absolutely nothing wrong? As I stand there I begin to feel more and more uncomfortable. There was something about the boy….

    As the police pull up my heart is racing and I almost faint. I know now what happened. After all I’m mommy.

  26. BezBawni

    (I couldn’t stay away, this is just too good. Here’s my entry into the competition of shortest prompts. 28 for now, less to go!))

    ***
    “Game over,” the note reads. The boy starts cheering.

    James beams at me over his monitor.

    “Again!!!” I yell.

    “Enjoy losing?”

    “Again!!!”

    I push ‘start a New Game’.

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