I’ve refused jobs before. Sometimes it was because there was nothing I could do. Other times it was because my perspective employer wasn’t being totally honest with me. This time, it was a little of both.
Across the room from me, the man poured himself another drink before asking “Is it the money?”
“The money is fine but I can’t help you.”
For a moment, I was afraid he might hurl his drink across the study. Instead, he sat down at his desk. “But I’m haunted. You said as much.”
I nodded, choosing my words carefully. The last thing I wanted was a confrontation but he needed to know the danger he faced. “You’re not plagued by some ghost or spirit. You’re haunted by whatever it is that you’ve done.”
“But I can’t sleep. I see and hear things.”
“I’m not saying you’re crazy or imagining things. Magic has a way of giving life to thoughts and memory. Anything I could do would be temporary at best.”
“So what do I do?”
“You need to face what you’ve done. Own up to it. Talk to someone before it’s too late.”
“And if I can’t?” he asked, sounding like a man who had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
“You know the answer to that better than me. I’ll see myself out.”
With that said, I left him to his thoughts. Would he get the help he needed and accept the consequences for whatever it was he had done? Would he continue to be haunted by his deeds or would guilt drive him to do something irrevocable? Only time would tell.
Author’s Note: Although it might not be apparent, this is another Count Albritton story. Originally, this story was a bit longer with a few cliches and a darker ending. I changed it up a bit and this is the result. Enjoy.
He was more than a sailor. He was also a warrior, who had seen his fair share of battles, and most likely a fool. He didn’t fear the dangers of the sea. He even said as much on many a time. Did he really believe that? He knew the answer to the age old question every man or woman who made their living on the sea asked themselves. What is the greatest danger of the sea? When I first took to the sea, my captain gave me the answer.
“You can flow with the currents and bend with the wind. Storms can be weathered. Reefs and maelstroms can be avoided. Pirates can be fought or bargained with. The creatures lurking beneath the waves can be defeated. The greatest danger is getting lost.”
My captain wasn’t talking about not being able to find yourself on a map. He could use the stars as his guide or other tools of the trade to navigate. It was the lure of what lurked over each unknown horizon. There, one might find some new discovery, untold wealth, or adventure all at the risk of sailing for so long and far that you forgot why you had taken to the sea and those you left behind.
Years later and captain of my own ship, I understood the answer and how easy it was to fall prey to that danger without realizing it. At home, friends and family spoke fondly of you and awaited your return. In time, they gave up hope. Some cursed your name for abandoning them while others simply forgot you.
Aloud, I asked my reflection “Why doesn’t that scare you?” The answer was simple. I was already lost. So what do I do about it? That question also had a simple answer. It was another lesson the sea and my old captain had taught me. You can always change your course. With that in mind, I left my cabin to give new orders to the crew. I still didn’t fear the sea. I only feared that my homecoming might be too late.
Fall is my favorite time of year. The weather is comfortable. While everyone else fawns over Pumpkin Spice Latte, I enjoy my Carmel Spice Apple Cider and Salted Carmel Mochas. My favorite TV shows return with new episodes. There are new movies and games are released. All in all, there is plenty to distract me.
As part of the lead up to my birthday and Halloween, I decided to post a story from my contemporary fantasy series, featuring Count Albritton, that had been gathering dust on my hard drive. You might see another story involving the supernatural supernatural in addition to the flash fiction I’ve been posting. It helps that I have some of my favorite movies like Ghostbusters playing in the background.
Towards the end of this month, I’ll be more active on Instagram and doing a bit more gaming. No, I haven’t brought or pre-ordered any new games. Micro transactions and subpar releases are to blame for that. Instead, I’ll be playing old favorites like Witcher 3:Wild Hunt and starting Divinity: Original Sin 2 as well as Tom Clancy’s The Division during the next global event and Resistance update.
Other plans include, hanging out with friends in November. I’m also debating going to Rhode Island Comic and Super Mega Fest in Massachusetts. I’ll have another update after my birthday. Until then, take it easy.
It wasn’t my type of crowd or music. The Halloween themed decorations were at odds with the multicolored lights and vibrant colors. Even though I stood out in my dark clothing, no one seemed to care or look down on me for not fitting in. I nursed my drink until Jennifer arrived, all the while keeping an eye on my quarry.
Monsters came in all shapes and sizes. Though they are all different, there are hints and clues to their true nature. Some might pick up on these cues and avoid them. Others dismiss the warning signs or think them harmless. Most wouldn’t even notice, especially after a night of drinking. I waited for man’s drinking companion to leave before speaking.
“You know the problem with monsters?” Continue reading
Some traps and pitfalls are natural. Others are man made. The most difficult ones to avoid are the traps of our own making. Even the most vigilant can fall victim to them. Hemmed in by words and deeds, ensnared by promises, escape seems almost impossible. It’s easy to say or do the wrong thing. That’s the danger. Some would rather chew off their own arm to win free instead of admitting they were wrong or saying they were sorry.
I noticed that a number of short stories and flash fiction were missing from the Short Stories and Excerpts page. I spent Sunday adding links to those stories. With The Magic Jar, I updated and edited the story to match the version that appears in The Longest Road vol 1. I also found two stories that were mistakenly saved as drafts instead of being scheduled for posting. You’ll see them both in October.
In other news, I’m working against a self imposed deadline so I can publish another book in time for Christmas. I’ve also made tentative travel plans to visit Atlanta and spend a night in Boston. Other than that, not much is been going on.
Life offers few guarantees. People can fail you. Systems and institutions can break down. Governments and those in power can be corrupted. Even the gods can’t be depended on. Is it an act of bravery or an exercise in futility to believe in something or someone when the outcome is in doubt?
Looking at the gulf between where I am and where I want, I wonder if the distance is too great. Will I be able to make it on my own? Will those on the other side of the gap lend a helping hand? Falling, here and now, could be the end. Still, I make the leap. Every once in a while faith is rewarded and miracles happen. I just hope and pray this is one of those times.
Author’s Note: One of those inspirational photos finally did the trick. I originally planned to use a variation of this as the start of a short story. I decided to rework it into a stand along piece of flash fiction.