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A place to write my 52 short stories for this challenge.
My 52 Week Image Prompt Journal
September 18, 2015 at 1:12am
September 18, 2015 at 1:12am
#860320
Mark was taking his turn driving while I slept in the backseat. We were on our way back from visiting my family in Indiana, and had just hit the Jersey turnpike. I awoke just as we got onto George Washington bridge, on our way back home to Manhattan. I loved the view of the city at night.

As I sat in the backseat, my chin resting on the window ledge, I saw a sudden flash in the direction of Fort Lee Park.

"Hey, did you see that?" I asked Mark, jerking my head up and scanning the horizon.

"See what?"

"That flash near the park. Look! There it goes again!"

This time the flash was bigger, coming downward from the thick clouds that threatened to downpour at any minute.

"Ah, just lightning. It's been trying to storm for a couple hours now," Mark said, rubbing his eyes.

"Yeah, I guess. Striking the same spot is weird though. You ready for me to take over?"

"Sure. We're almost home anyway."

As Mark pulled into a nearby convenience store, we heard a huge explosion to our right, and as we stood beside the car, we were struck by the horror of what lit up the night sky.

Amid the thick, black smoke that was billowing out of one of the commercial buildings across the Hudson river, we saw a row of lights, alternating green and blue, in a synchronized pattern. The source of the lights became evident after the smoke began to clear- and it was nothing of this earth, at least that we had ever seen.

Enormous in size, the housing of the aircraft was the color of polished steel, with a sheen that would be considered beautiful in other circumstances. The lights, apparently completely encircling the oval-shaped behemoth, were like jewels, giving the overall appearance one of majesty.

Was this thing being piloted, or was this a huge drone, hell bent on destroying Manhattan and perhaps the world? Where did it come from?

So many questions were spiraling through my terrified mind. Mark and I were frozen in fear, unable to take our eyes off of this chariot of annihilation, as more and more beams shot forth from it's exterior, obliterating all that surrounded it.

People around us were screaming; running to their vehicles in hope of escape. But as we watched the goliath craft, in utter shock and amazement, we saw more UFOs, smaller in size, but identical in every way.

They began the same destruction as their massive counterpart, but because of their sheer volume, they caused monumental damage.

Mark and I looked at each other, and our eyes exchanged the same message. This is the end. There's no use trying to run.

We held each other, repeating declarations of love for one another. The convenience store exploded in a mass of flames, debris flying in every direction. From the corner of my right eye, I see a large piece of sheet metal hurtling toward us, and then, nothing.

As I leave my body, one thought lingers- at least they didn't have the chance to get us...


As I jolted awake, I found myself once again in the backseat of our SUV. I immediately looked out the window, scanning the sky for anything out of the ordinary. There was nothing. Just gorgeous Manhattan skyline, with stars twinkling above.

"Hey sleepyhead. You ready to take over the last little bit?"

"No," I said, just a twinge of tremor in my voice. "I think I'd like to just sit here and look at the stars." Ever watchful.

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September 7, 2015 at 10:24pm
September 7, 2015 at 10:24pm
#859482
I remember it like it was yesterday. I awoke to the phone ringing in the middle of the night.

"Hello?" I muttered, still half asleep.

"Jennifer? Jennifer, it's Hal. Something terrible has happened."

I bolted upright in my bed, scared fully awake by the sound of anguish in my best friend's father's voice.

"Hal, what's wrong? Where's Noel?" I tried to stay calm, but my voice was frantic.

"She- she's gone! My baby's gone! She was on her way home from college, and..." Hal broke into sobs. "They said she hit a patch of black ice. Her car spun out of control and was hit head-on by an eighteen-wheeler."

Hal's ragged sobs were barely heard as I felt my bed begin to spin. I couldn't breathe. My heart ached so badly it felt as if it were on fire.

"Noooo! No, no, no! This can't be happening!"

Hal and I poured out our grieving hearts, sobbing together over the phone.

The next days and weeks are still a blur. The wake, the funeral, everything was so unbearable. Any get-together or occasion would have Noel and I laughing and having a great time together. This time, however, I was all alone and missing my friend more than than I could ever imagine.

We had grown up together, gone through heart breaks and happy times. We thought nothing could separate us. We were so wrong.

One night not long after, as I was driving home from working the late shift as a hospital nurse, I stopped for a red light in a shady part of town. It was a shortcut home, and there was no one out that late at night.

As I sat there, rubbing my eyes and waiting for the light to change, a man suddenly ran up to my car, jerking open the driver's side door and pointing a gun in my face. He screamed at me to slide over to the passenger seat. In my panic, I realized that I was being carjacked.

I screamed and told him he could have my purse and my car, but to please just let me go.

He gave me a snide laugh and said, "Aw naw. I got plans for you."

I began to sob as the man tried forcing me to the passenger seat. Suddenly, the entire interior of my car became illuminated with a blinding light.

The carjacker, staring into the backseat, let out a scream of sheer terror, and took off running back into the shadows from which he came.

Not realizing what was going on, but knowing I needed to get out of there, I slammed the driver's door, locking it this time, and sped off down the street.

As I drove, I tried to piece together what had just happened. My breath was ragged and I was shaking all over. As I looked in my rear-view mirror to see if anyone was chasing after me, I gasped loudly.

In my backseat, not glowing as brilliantly as before, but still shining brightly, was an angel. She was dressed in beautiful a gold gown, and her wings were as white as snow. That angel was my dear, cherished friend, Noel.

"Noel!" I said, breathlessly. "I miss you so much!" I began to sob, overwhelmed at seeing my beloved friend again.

In a very quiet, almost whispering voice, Noel said, "I love you, and I'll be here for you."

And with that, she was gone. I wept all the way home. When I was finally spent, I had an amazing realization: God blessed me with Noel for a short time on this earth, but she had never truly left me.

Noel saved my life that night, and she will be in my heart forever.

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August 31, 2015 at 11:34am
August 31, 2015 at 11:34am
#858810
Lisa heard her mother calling her from where she stood in the backyard of the house they were looking to buy. Lisa had wandered around back while the grownups were ooohing and ahhhing, or complaining over this feature and that.

"I'm right here, Mommy," said Lisa. Even at six years old, she knew not to stray far from her mommy's sight.

"Lisa Preston, have you lost your mind? You scared me to death!" Lisa's mother, Cathy, said in a shrill voice.

"I was just right here, Mommy. I wasn't doing anything wrong," Lisa said, pouting a bit. It seemed to Lisa that she couldn't do anything to please her mommy anymore.

"I don't care! Don't you EVER leave my sight again! Do you understand?" Cathy took the tiny girl and gave her a great shake.

"Yes Mommy," Lisa said sadly. Why was Mommy always mad at her now? Ever since Lacy went away, it seemed all Mommy did was cry or yell at her and Daddy.

Poor Daddy, he really caught the brunt of Mommy's anger. He was the one with Lacy the day she disappeared, and Mommy never let him forget that. Each and every day since, Lisa had heard her mommy scream at her daddy about not watching her more closely.

"Let's go, young lady. You had better start listening to me better or else."

Lisa knew what the "or else," meant. Never before the "incident," as Daddy called it, had Mommy ever spanked her, or even threatened to. But in the months following the incident, she had done so, with a vengeance, it seemed to Lisa. For such a little girl, Lisa had a very grown-up mind.

She knew that the grown-ups thought some bad man took Lacy, but Lisa, her twin, wasn't so sure. In her mind, Lacy was off on some grand adventure, and would come home any time now, filled with stories of amazing things. She had said this to Daddy, but he said she absolutely must not say this sort of thing to Mommy, so she stopped thinking about it anymore, until today.

And so they left the Realtor with high hopes of getting the new house. Later that night, Lisa asked her daddy why it was so important to Mommy that they move. She didn't want to leave her friends and her school. She would miss the tree house that Daddy and Uncle David had made for she and Lacy. She would miss her room, with the view of the garden from her window. Lisa loved to watch the hummingbirds hover over Mommy's rose bushes. Lisa was fascinated with anything to do with nature.

"Mommy just has too many memories here, Sweetheart. She just needs a place to make a fresh start."

"So she wants to forget about Lacy?" asked Lisa.

"No, honey, it's not that. It just hurts her, that's all. All of the memories of Lacy being in this house, laughing and playing. It just makes her miss Lacy even more."

"I miss her too," Lisa said, starting to cry.

"I do too, baby," her daddy said, tears streaming down his cheeks, his unspoken guilt tearing him apart inside.

The next day, they got the word that they could buy the new house. Cathy was so happy and excited. Lisa had not seen her mommy this way for a long time. Mark Preston, Cathy's husband and Lisa's dad, tried to hug his wife in his extreme happiness that maybe, just maybe, things would be better in the new house. Cathy jerked away from him and went to start packing. This interaction was not unnoticed by Lisa, who hung her head in sadness, much the same as her father did.

Finally it was moving day. Lisa was sad to see her old house, the only home she would ever known, though the backseat window as the pulled out of the driveway for the final time.

How would Lacy ever find them when she came back from her adventure? Lisa thought sadly.

When they got to the new house, Lisa once again went to play in the back yard. This was their home now, so her mommy didn't see it as a threat.

As the days turned to weeks in their new place, Lisa noticed her Mommy start to change. She wasn't as angry as she was before. She even hugged Lisa from time to time - something that Lisa had missed very badly.

One day, when Lisa went to play in the back yard, Lisa noticed something different. A pair of red doors stood at the back of their garden, just beneath the Juniper tree. Lisa had ran over to them and tried to pull them open, but it was no use, they were locked tight. Just then Lisa heard her Mommy calling her, so she ran inside for dinner, not mentioning the red doors to her mommy, lest she bring on another of her bad moods.

Later that night, after her bath, as Lisa lay in her bed, trying to fall asleep, she suddenly heard someone calling her name.

"Liiisssaaa," the voice said in a sing/song kind of way.

"Who's there?" Lisa asked, her voice trembling.

"Come to the gaaarrrdennn," the voice said. Suddenly Lisa realized who's voice it was.

"Lacy! I'm coming, Lacy!" Lisa said, as she slid on her bedroom slippers and ran down the stairs.

Lisa stopped to look in the utility drawer and grab a flashlight before slipping quietly out the back door.

As Lisa entered the garden, she saw that the big red doors were still there, but this time they were ajar. As Lisa walked toward them, she saw a figure step from behind them. It was her twin sister, Lacy.

"Lacy!" Lisa squealed with delight. "I knew you would come back, I KNEW it!" she said, hugging her sister tightly.

"Of course I would, I had to come back for you, didn't I?" Lacy said in a soft voice, smiling at her twin. "But hurry, we must go now."

"Go? Go where?" Lisa asked, cocking her head to the side and looking at her sister with mild amusement.

"I want you to come be with me," Lacy said, beckoning her with her hand to follow her through the now open doors. Lisa could see a bright light shining from the other side.

But what about Mommy and Daddy?" Lisa asked, pouting. "They will be so worried."

"They don't even know that you're here most of the time, now do they? They are so caught up in what happened to ME, that they sometimes forget your very existence, is that not true?"

"Well...yes, but-"

"We were born together, so we should always BE together, isn't that so?" Lacy asked, pleading.

"Yes, you're right!" Lisa said, suddenly excited. "I want to see where your adventure has taken you!"

"Well then, let's go!" Lacy said, laughing happily.

So, hand in hand, the Preston twins walked through the big red doors, and into their new playground together.







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August 23, 2015 at 12:02am
August 23, 2015 at 12:02am
#858114
Many locals remember an old story told long ago about a ghostly "crew" who wandered the snowy mountainside, searching for lost hikers. It is said that to this day you can hear them calling out late at night, mistaking missing hikers and climbers for the lost crew-members of their single-engine airplane, which crashed in 1969, over the Big Belt mountains of Montana.

Lost hikers have reported hearing faint voices calling out in the distance, along with bright lights, which shimmered and glowed just past the treeline.

Although the voices were distinct enough to make out, the hikers say there was just something surreal and "off" about them. Somehow, they realized, these were not the voices of the living. One recovered hiker said he distinctly heard a male voice, calling out the name, "Frank!"

Frank Daniels was the name of the co-pilot in that fatal crash.



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August 9, 2015 at 1:20am
August 9, 2015 at 1:20am
#856880
Tommy decided to go try out his new .22 rifle in a deserted spot where he'd seen many prarie dogs coming in and out of their dens. The prospect of killing a prarie dog meant little to Tommy, a boy who was well known for his cruel nature and twisted sense of humor.

Riding his bike out to the spot that used to be an old homestead, rifle shoved into a knapsack which he had strapped across his back, Tommy grinned at the thought of causing pain and watching a prarie dog die.

Once he reached the location, Tommy ditched his bike and found a large rock on which to sit and await his prey. He didn't have to wait long, as a prarie dog soon peeked it's head out, looking around for predators such as coyotes...little did the small creature know that danger lurks in the two-legged species as well.

Taking careful aim, Tommy nailed the prarie dog just as it leapt from it's den; hitting it right square in the side, the bullet shredding muscle tissue and tearing through several organs.

The varmint took off, running until it couldn't make it any further, and fell dying as Tommy gave chase to finish him off. Near where the creature fell, there was a small sign, stating, "Danger." The sign was a warning that a well lay in that very spot upon the property.

Too late to stop, Tommy careened right onto the land where the sign resided, and being a heavy teenager, promptly fell through the thin earth that covered the underground well.

Screaming as he fell, Tommy hit the ground hard at the bottom of the well. There was no one for miles around; the isolation was why he chose to hunt here, as well as why the prarie dogs chose this as their home. And ironically for Tommy, there was no one around to hear his cries for help.

As Tommy sat in the knee deep water, whimpering from the pain of a fractured femur, he began to hear noises. Scampering noises. Growling noises.

When the legion of pissed off prarie dogs viciously descended upon Tommy, all he could do is scream - and bleed. Just as the innocent little prarie dog Tommy had killed for the sake of fun had died while providing sadistic pleasure, so did Tommy.

Just before losing consciousness for the final time, Tommy could have sworn he saw them grinning.

Karma, thou hast keenly sharp teeth...



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August 5, 2015 at 11:13pm
August 5, 2015 at 11:13pm
#856593
As I sat stirring my morning coffee, I let my mind wander to to the past.

The day I met Richard; how we dated all through college. Our wedding day, and the smile on Richard's face as my father walked me down the aisle; the tears in his eyes the day our firstborn, Noah, was born.

How our second-born, Stacy, had Richard wrapped around her finger, and was his little princess - and how he waited up for her to come home from her first date, jumping at every car approaching, then pretending he had fallen asleep on the sofa.

How he taught Noah how to drive, and how he feigned being traumatized by their first outing, and how Noah rolled his eyes and laughed.

Our thirtieth anniversary, surrounded by friends and family. We danced to the same song as our wedding day, and how Richard whispered into my ear that I was just as beautiful as the day we met.

Graduations, weddings and Grandbabies, we treasured them all. Such beautiful memories. So much love.

As I stare down at my coffee, I am brought out of my reverie by a kiss on the top of my head. I look up and smile at my dear Richard - love of my life.



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