There’s dust on the ledges, but not on the tables, and definitely not on the gold dragon statue by the front door that almost no one remembers to rub for good luck.
And neither of them have ever put their hands on it. No, instead they come in even before the buffet is fully set, look the Dragon straight in its opal eye and grimace, their heads thinking “here’s another day yet!”
“Still giving us plates, heh?” they say to Meng, whose name I know but they do not. He will be back to fill their coffee twice, sometimes three times, but they won’t speak again. Some things do not change, even in 20 years.
No…it didn’t start here. Not with the pissed man clutching a crushed beer can in fear on his knees. Not with the other over the wall…somewhere…split.
After all, it’s only been how many hours?since I stopped staring at the blank wall of the TV. Only so many hours since I’d finally started listening to that other voice, like I should have been all along. I just walked out of the house and into the concrete cold, aiming for the usual trip to the WORLD’s BIGGEST MALL, or so it was once. That should have been the nothing of it.
And then the surprises came.
Nothing much else comes out of him, the beer-piss puddle beneath the man growing as grows the effects of the adrenaline I know I can’t let go of now, no, not now. Not ever. There wasn’t a “going back”. I’d already let go.
About this time last year, over 50 contestants braved their worst fears by entering them into my Face Your Fears Short Story Draw. Now you, just like Rob (last year’s winner), have the chance to win a short story that leaves you at the mercy of your worst fear. He was most scared of fungus…what are you afraid of?
Whether privately or publicly, submit your name and worst fear by commenting below, or messaging directly via email, instagram, or twitter. All entries received by midnight on October 9, 2019 will be collected in a hat and drawn at random, with results posted the morning of October 10th, 2019.
Competition Closed: This Year’s Short Story Coming Soon!
And we’d learned a few things about that old house, the tall thin one with too many stories it seemed. Like how we all felt safer in one room with all the doors closed, or that it was better to light three candles than one. Or that if me and Lita – but only us – sat in the two chairs by the indoor tree on the third floor with everyone around, noises would begin and we would all giggle and jump up and clap, happy that we’d scared everyone once again before we fell to bed, at least one of us up and watching the ceiling for spiders or rats or whatever anyone else was dreaming of that might come to life there. For everything felt possible, in the swirls of the wood grain, as the distorted faces of creatures leapt from one wall to another.
Slowly, to consciousness, come and find your face crushed on pavement viscous. Dirt falling from eyelashes, blinking it away, gradually bringing your mind around.
On a long-stretch of road, nose full of tar, all movement meagre, your energy’s long fallen from bones. Use your dwindling strength to bring back what happened. Raise hand to forehead and press down on the crumbling wound there.