Short Stories by Mel Shrum

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mel shrum
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Short Stories by Mel Shrum

Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:38

STRANGE SOUNDS IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT
by Mel Shrum

What has just awoken me, troubled, from my sleep? I thought I heard an unfamiliar noise, as if someone had been in the room. Not at all like the usual nightly barrage of noises, the familiar noises, like crickets (count the chirps and calculate the temperature), the wind sighing, the leaves rustling in the wind, wind chimes, the sound of the tree branches scraping across the roof from the wind, or the ticks of a settling foundation, or of water pipes cooling.
This noise was more the sound of someone trying very hard to be quiet, but failing just enough to awaken the dreamer. Shall I rise and investigate? But this thought had barley crossed my mind, when slumber overcame my consciousness like a tsunami of somnia.
There it was again, this time I am more than convinced of it's authenticity. Surely it was no figment of my subconscious mind, now I am determined to pursue this matter, never mind how foolish it seems, I will investigate the cause of the disturbance, which has unsettled my nocturnal repose.
For I shall not be able to return to sleep until the matter has been ascertained, whether it is a prowler, burglar, or a murderer who haunts my thoughts. What if my stirring should draw the intruder's attention? I must needs be even more stealthy than he, indeed even more cunning and clever by far.
I moved my arms ever so slowly, millimeter by millimeter, in between breaths, as my heart beat a staccato that must surely be loud enough to penetrate the silent blackness of the environs, which were illuminated solely by the meager moonlight which managed to find it's way between the blinds and the window frame. As swift as a glacier, I managed to free my limbs from the blankets and sheets embrace; then I lay still and listened for sounds that would signal I have made my presence known as surely as the intruder had informed me of his presence. After what seemed an eternity, I lifted my body as silent as a tomb, and edged myself out of bed, fearful and on trembling legs, I got into a crouching position, and slowly, methodically, began my search of the room, my eyes, which were already accustomed to the dimness may be my only advantage.
I pondered grabbing something for a weapon, but if I grabbed an object for bashing, would he have come prepared with a knife? Or worse yet, a gun? I decided to make my way stealth-fully as a cat creeping upon an unsuspecting bird, towards the darkness of the hallway, from there I had made up my mind to escape the environs of my home, and to use my cell phone to contact 911. I had made my way just into the hallway, when I remembered my cell phone was nestled in it's charging station by the bureau. (What would Homer Simpson say about now? Doh!) I waited and listened for any tell tale sign of the intruder, the only thing I could hear was the wind whistling outside, accompanied by my beating heart.
I crept, ever so slowly over and grabbed my cell phone, then retraced my steps back to the hallway, and inched my way over to the living room; pausing every third or fourth step to listen, shaking with trembling limbs. My throat was parched from fright and stress, as I inched towards the front door, I was quite shaken trying to undo the multiple locks and deadbolt without making a noise. (Well, the intruder certainly hadn't gained entry through the front door, I thought) I opened the door just enough to squeeze through, and then quietly but quickly secured it behind me, hoping against hope the moonlight hadn't alerted the intruder to my escape plan. I walked a bit brisker, and with a tad more confidence towards the concealment of the neighbor's hedge, then dialed 911. It seemed an eternity before a calm female voice said "911, what it your emergency?" I told her I believed there was a burglar, or prowler in my house, I had heard scuffling sounds. She wanted to know if I could describe the intruder, I replied, "No ma'am, I had stealth-fully made my way out of the house" to which she asked if I was sure there even was a burglar. She wanted me to look for any signs of a break in, then call her back if there was. I hung up surprised and very disappointed in the 911 system. I realized they were kept very busy with untold hundreds of calls nightly, but I had believed a prowler call would always be taken seriously, and given precedence over more mundane calls.
I had my cell phone flashlight app handy, so I turned it on, then partially covered it with my hand, like a shutter, to keep the light as dim as I could, and yet still be able to see, as I began my search for clues, and traces of a break-in. I had circumnavigated the house twice with no luck, and was starting to actually believe I had imagined the whole affair after all, when I spotted a shadowy figure emerging feet first through the spare bedroom window. (How had he opened that window? I'm positive it was locked and secured!) I quickly hid behind a tree trunk, feeling a bit foolish, because the tree was rather slim, and I was not; but it was the only cover within a hundred feet, and I didn't have time to choose another hiding location. I heard a piercing scream, of utter disbelief and horror, and it took me a second to understand it was coming from me, as I saw what had finally emerged from my window, the moon light was just bright enough to shine right through the shadowy figure with no face. He seemed to sense my presence and headed straight for me. How odd, even without a face, I could swear he had an expression of malevolent mirth.
Just as I was about to soil my trousers, the shadowy figure, in a very creepy voice, which sounded like a dried snake skin being pulled through sand, said quite clearly; “Happy Halloween!”

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mel shrum
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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:41

The Fish
by Mel Shrum

The traffic noise was deafening. The tire noise alone was overwhelming, but add to that the clack-clack of the tires going over the seam of the highway concrete sections, the thumping stereos, the horns, the louder than legal exhaust systems, and the diesel motors, and the cacophony was bad enough to cause permanent ear damage. The smell of exhaust, burning oil, and an unidentifiable stench from some local factory filled the summer baked air, shimmering with heat. The mirage of water in the distance was enticing, making you want to feel it's apparent coolness. Jim wiped the sweat from his brow, and glanced at his watch for the tenth time in as many seconds. This was not good. His Taurus was broken down along the busiest stretch of Hwy. 71, along the clover leaf of the intersection of Hwy. 183. He was going to be late for work, and on top of this, he had to wait for a tow truck. Jim glanced at his watch again, and he swore that time had stood still, but just for him. It was 3:45 pm., and the temperature was a stifling 98 degrees, with a humidity of 90% added on for your summer comfort. The tow truck driver had said that he would be here in an hour, give or take traffic conditions. Jim glanced over the clover leaf, and noticed a pool of water, a secluded portion of Honey creek that had been secluded from it's normal flow, and had been forgotten and hidden by the construction of the highway system. There was a slight oil slick floating on the still surface, and floating bits of garbage wind blown into the recessed area from passing motorist with bad habits of messing with Texas. Jim was about to turn away from the view when a ripple caught his eye. It was a rather large ripple, not something that could be attributed to an insect, and nothing had been tossed into the water from above, he would have surely seen that falling across his field of view. Jim had nothing to do but wait, killing time, and he had his "pocket fisherman" that he had stashed into his trunk all those years ago, just in case he came upon an unexpected opportunity to fish, and it had never even been used. What the hell, Jim thought, at the least I can climb down into some shade, and see how this pocket fishing rod thing feels, something made that ripple, maybe even a fish. Jim made his way down carefully, climbing over the side rail and down a very steep embankment to the water's edge. He started to cast his hook into the water, only he noticed that he had no bait. He glanced to his left and to his right, there in a tangle of weeds, lay an almost empty packet of gummy worms. Jim speared a gummy worm on his hook, and cast it into the water. This wasn't so bad, a little shade, a slight breeze coming from across the water, made the temperature almost bearable. The insects were a little bothersome, but that only added to the fishing experience, almost like a real fishing trip. Jim leaned back using his portable stadium cushion as a pillow, and was almost drifting asleep when he felt a definite tug on his line. The pocket fisherman came with a 20 lb. test line, Jim was sure that nothing in this small creek could be larger than a tadpole, if anything could survive here at all. Then it came again, another tug, more insistent, followed by another, and another. Jim had to hold on tight to the pocket fisherman with both hands, and all of his strength. He let the line slip away, then reeled it in a click or two at a time. This was going to be a real struggle, to see if the fish broke the line, or Jim reeled it in. He had definitely caught a fish, no doubt, and in the most unlikely fishing spot ever. It was impossible for a fish to survive here, and yet, here it was, enticed by a gummy worm. Jim fought the fish for what seemed an eternity, letting out some line, reeling it back in slowly, carefully so as not to snap the line. Jim hoped the fish was getting as tired as he was. Jim glanced at his watch, the tow-truck driver should be arriving any minuet, but Jim was not going to let this fish get away, it was too good of a fish story to be believed without proof. This got Jim thinking, he did have a Styrofoam cooler in his trunk, maybe he could talk the tow truck driver into stopping somewhere for some ice. The fish brought Jim out of his revelry, with a severe tug, almost enough to drag Jim into the water, or rip the pocket fisherman out of his hands. Jim slowly reeled the line in, a little at a time, his hands had
somehow gotten blistered from the hold on the little reel, a small painful interference with his sport at the moment. Then Jim saw a dorsal fin appear from the water, it seemed to be at least 4"long, so the monster fish must be about 12" long, Jim figured, quite a catch for such an unlikely place to find a fish, Jim wondered if the fish had somehow swam into the secluded area of the creek during construction, then had simply grown too large to return to the major course of the creek. It must have been feeding on insects and occasional food blown into the area from unsuspecting motorist contributors. The fish tugged again, but it was either weakening, or testing Jim, seeing if it could fake him out and escape the incessant fight for dominance between man and fish. A shout brought Jim's attention to the overpass, where a man in a Grey uniform was looking at him. It was a trooper, wearing dark sun glasses. Jim cursed under his breath, and waved at the officer, pointing at his reel, and shrugging. The officer made his way down to Jim and asked about the Taurus, Jim explained that yes, it was his, and yes it had broken down, and yes a tow truck had been called. Jim told the officer that he did indeed have a fishing permit, and would gladly show it to the officer, if the officer would mind holding the reel for a moment. Officer Chance, as his name tag proclaimed him to be, accepted the reel with a skeptical look, then a growing smile of surprise lit up his countenance, "You have caught a fish, a good sized one at that, who would believe a fish could be found in this God forsaken area?" Thank you Mr. Jim Spalding, here is your license back, there is no sign posted for no fishing, here, but after you catch your fish it would be a good idea to move along, the side of the highway is not a safe place to be. Jim assured the officer that he would move along, and soon. After a while, another man in uniform appeared above him, this time it was the tow truck driver. Jim motioned for the driver to come down and returned to reeling in the fish. The shocked look on the tow truck driver's face when the dorsal fin broke the surface again was priceless. The tow truck driver, who introduced himself as George, offered to help bring the monster in, together, they pulled in and reeled in the line. The fish that they hauled out of the water after a severe fight, was 24" long and weighed about 30 lbs. It was a catfish, and the fish story of a lifetime. No one would believe this if they didn't see it. Jim and George carried the fish up the steep embankment, and placed it into the Styrofoam cooler. George stopped at a seven-eleven where Jim purchased some ice, and a disposable camera, to photograph the monster. A short story appeared in the Austin Statesman, complete with photo, but everyone assumed it was a joke, when they read about where the fish had been caught. Everyone except a tow truck driver named George, and a state trooper named Officer Chance.

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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:44

One Last Offensive, Before I Die
by Mel Shrum

I hope that an American, or if not an American, at least an American sympathizer is the first to discover this letter. I have carried this blood and sweat stained paper with me for two weeks now, and I'm afraid that today will be the last chance I have to add to it.
My name is Sgt. Joel Espinoza, of the 23rd airborne special ops unit. My Huey went down with all hands fourteen days ago. I was the only survivor, 1rst Lieutenant Earl Jones was horribly wounded; and did not have long to live; I fulfilled 1rst Lieutenant Earl Jones' request to kill him before the hateful North Vietnamese found him and committed brutally efficient torture to make him tell all that he knew. Lieutenant Jones was my best friend, he would have done the same for me.
We were well behind enemy lines and our mission was for all intents and purposes was a ghost mission: no one was expected to return alive, and there would be no hope of a rescue if and when something went wrong. I concealed the remains of my fellow soldiers, as they would have done for me, but they were to rest without benefit of a marker, or a lengthy sermon; the enemy would have retrieved the remains for some twisted game of dismemberment and disrespect, displayed for pro-North Vietnam propaganda, or held for ransom. I tied a tourniquet around my right thigh to stop the bleeding from the shrapnel wound I had sustained as my initiation into this altered mission. I took a needle and some thread from my kit, bit down on a stick, and proceeded to sew my wound shut.
After a while when I felt strong enough, I gathered my gear together and started on my way through the dense jungle growth. I covered my tracks as I went, in the direction of the enemy outpost where My new mission would be completed, or I would die trying. My main expertise was marksmanship, I was a sharpshooter, otherwise know as a sniper. My weapon was my life, it never left my side, it remained well cleaned, well oiled, and very well protected from water, dirt, and abuse. My original mission was to destroy an enemy outpost. All of my explosives were detonated after our Huey hit the dirt, effectively altering my mission in the process. Now my main mission is to take out the North Vietnamese officer know only as "The Tiger", who is the brains behind many American casualties.
The Tiger is stationed at the outpost, our intended target, My hope was to take him out before I succumbed to blood loss, malaria, or infection. The jungles were teeming with deadly mosquitoes, the thick verdant foliage held concealment for numerous varieties of deadly serpents. The air was so saturated with humidity, and the air so oppressively hot that you could not stop wiping the sweat from your stinging eyes. As if that was not welcome enough, There were traps set everywhere, pungi sticks that would impale a careless foot, trip lines that would allow a stone laden sharpened spike to impale you from both sides simultaneously, and common land mines, welcome to Hell.
I heard the cry of a jungle cat, and I hoped that it would not smell the blood on my clothes. I had to travel very carefully, making sure to cover my tracks, as I limped along, also keeping an eye out for pungi sticks, trip lines, and mines. My journey was not a swift one. I figured that I made about ten to fifteen miles a day. I had only cold c-rations as food, I could not risk a fire. I buried my trash, and my waste as far down as I could, so that an animal would not dig it back up and reveal my presence to my enemy. I figured that I had about three days of travel to reach my objective. I could not risk sleeping, so I traveled during the night in order to move as silently and undetectable as possible, and I concealed myself in jungle compost during the day. I tried to hide the scent of my bloodied bandages and clothing by rubbing the feces of a jungle cat upon them. During the day was when I sharpened my Service knife, and readied my sniper rifle. I also applied jungle mud to my exposed skin, and
jungle leaves were sewn about my uniform , a makeshift Gillie suit, so that I would be less able to be spotted. My progress was slow but methodical. After three days, the objective was visible. I concealed myself well, sighted in my rifle scope, and waited for my mark to walk within range. I sat motionless for several hours, imagining the frantic searching for myself that would ensue after my target was assassinated. This would indeed be a ghost mission, with no heroes return home.
My mark finally walked within my range, but my vision had become blurred by loss of blood. The next thing I knew, I was coming too, and the sun was setting; how I made it through the day without being spotted, Ill never know. So I repeated my routine the next morning. My mark walked within rifle sight, and I made a perfect heart shot. The Tiger was eliminated, mission accomplished! Now I sat and waited for the search to begin. The camp erupted in motion like an ant hill that had been kicked. I can not begin to tell you my surprise as armed enemy soldiers walked past me in the thick brush within a yard away, and not one spotted me. I stayed put for another day, getting weaker from loss of blood and the beginnings of malaria as time went on. I came too again, and saw that a fuel tanker had arrived in camp, parked within mere yards from the ammunition bunker, with a steady shot I should be able to destroy the camp after all, courtesy of the enemies' stupidity. I aimed the rifle and held it steady as my eye sight went in and out of focus. I gently pulled the trigger and waited, moments later a huge explosion rocked the ground violently, a fraction of a second later it was followed by a second more extreme explosion that bounced me a foot and a half off of the ground. After the smoke cleared I could discern the body parts, and wreckage that had been the enemy base camp. Some agonized screams could be heard from those unfortunate enough to have survived the explosion. I then crawled out from the shrubbery and made my way towards the camp, taking slow deliberate shots to eliminate every survivor. I was searching for remnants of enemy intelligence that may have survived, when I heard the distinct sound of an American Huey approaching. Capt. Hughes landed the craft in a clearing twenty yards from the remnants of the base camp, he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. It was reported that my mission had failed, so a second team had been sent to destroy the camp, when the explosions had occurred, they had flown over to reconnoiter the area for details. I was evacuated to an American Mash unit, where my condition was stabilized, then I was flown to Washington D.C. where I was given a Purple Heart and Medal of Valor.

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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:45

A Regression Into Murder by Mel Shrum


Dr. Appice dropped his pen and stared at the subject reclined on the brown leather couch in disbelief. Had he heard what he thought he heard? He asked the slender young man with the days worth of beard to repeat what he had just said. The subject, Mr. Beck, calmly stated that he had buried the body in the garden, behind the house at 241 South Brisbane Ave.
Dr. Appice had done numerous regressions into past lives before, but this was certainly an unexpected turn of events! Mr. Beck, under hypnotic regression, had remembered more and more of a very recent past life. He remembered the name of a quiet neighborhood in Boston, the name of a street, a house address, a murder. If what he was hearing could be verified, this young man in his office was the reincarnation of the famed serial killer, known as the South side Slasher. The Slasher, as he was called for short, had been captured, convicted, and executed some twenty-two years ago in Boston. Of the twenty-nine bodies he claimed to have buried, only twenty were discovered. Dr. Appice now had the locations of nine more, if they could be verified. And then what? Notify the police? Notify the F.B.I.? Notify Oprah?
Dr. Appice canceled the appointments scheduled for the following Friday. He planned on doing some research into the patient, Mr. Beck, and to verify the nine burial locations. Dr. Appice learned to his dismay, that Mr. Beck had originally came from Boston. He noted also, rather queasily, that he had been born twenty-two years ago, to the minute, that the Slasher had been executed. Dr. Appice dug at the notated burial site given for the twenty-first victim, and shortly after, he discovered a human hand bone.
His following digs were met with equal success and grim rewards. Now that he had discovered all twenty-nine victims, he thought about how best to package this trove of knowledge for presentation to the F.B.I. He briefly thought about doctor-patient privilege, but after some serious consideration, soon laughed that thought away, who was he protecting? The Slasher was dead! Dr. Appice dropped the package of his findings, along with recorded sessions of his patient "X", (He would, after all, protect his living patient's confidentiality). The agent at the front desk seemed to regard him as in need of some therapy himself, when the Dr. reported what the package contained, but his curiosity could not allow him to refuse the gift.
The next week, the newspaper contained a small inserted byline about the Slasher, according to the paper, a local agent from the F.B.I. had discovered the remaining nine bodies, after opening up the cold case files and discovering some evidence that had gone overlooked on previous occasions. There would be no credit given to the good doctor, it seems. The week after that, the headline oddly enough was about a fresh series of murders, that seemed to be the work of the South side Slasher, or a gifted copy-cat killer. At first the news bothered me, of course. But the burning question remained: was it my patient picking up old habits, or a copy-cat killer? I hadn't thought of the third possibility presented to me the following day by the F.B.I., that I was the one that discovered the bodies, and therefore I was now their number one suspect! Try as I might to reason with the federal agent in the black suit, whose name tag proudly boasted "Agent Larson", he seemed to either not be listening, or not wanting to agree. I had solid alibis for my whereabouts during the timeliness of all the murders, but agent Larson was hot on the scent of a serial killer, a case that would make him famous, and quite possibly rich, and he had his sights on me. I even went so far as to inform agent Larson that I had a patient, that had undergone hypnotic regression, and who had informed me of the whereabouts of the nine missing victims of the South Side Slasher. After he had laughed at me, he left, but not before informing me that I would be watched closely, and that I had better not try to leave town. That was the moment that I decided that I would have to be the one to try to stop the killings. I knew the whereabouts of Mr. Beck while he was at my office, that was easy enough. From there, I determined that Mr. Beck could not be
discounted as the new Slasher, for his office visits allowed him plenty of time to have committed the crimes. I determined to follow Mr. Beck after his next visit, discreetly, and hopefully either have proof of his innocence, or guilt. After all, it was either his neck, or mine at this time. The session was pretty nondescript, after all, he had regressed as far into his former personae as he could. But he had paid for the entire hour, so we fell to talking.
Can you imagine how hard it was to be talking face to face with a serial killer, knowing that you were planning to turn him in, and yet trying very hard to not let him see the nervousness in your eyes? The hour seemed to be a month, of quick eye contact, followed by a convenient distraction by a passing vehicle, the time, or picking at a piece of lint on my trouser leg. I must have filled my glass with water eight times to quell my parched throat; I get thirsty when I'm nervous, I prayed frantically the killer did not catch on to this fact. By the time the session was over, I was a nervous wreck. I dropped my car keys three times before I could get my shaking hands to grasp them tightly enough to unlock the door to my Mercedes. I slowly followed Mr. Beck in his convertible Saab, allowing two or three vehicles between us, so that maybe he wouldn't notice the white Mercedes was tailing his tan Saab. I kept my miniature voice recorder rolling as I did a play by play of my "detective" work, noting specifically the time. I knew, from my records, that Mr. Beck resided at 2547 Brunswick court, oddly enough, in the South side, the same as the killer. However, he was proceeding westward on the I-70, I glanced at my fuel gauge, and to my horror, I only had a quarter tank of gas. I hoped that Mr. Beck would stop at a convenient stop near a fuel island, and soon. The tan Saab soon turned off onto a residential area exit, headed south. After a couple of close calls, where I just knew he had seen me following him, Mr. Beck stopped his car along the street, where it would be hidden in the shadows. My heart was pounding as I parked behind the hedges on the street perpendicular to Maple Dr., where Mr. Beck had parked. I wished that I had brought a pair of tennis shoes with me as I tried to bring a stealth mode to my polished black dress shoes; my steps seemed overly loud to my ears, as pebbles scraped and crunched under each step. I could see in my mind a vision of some cat or neighborhood dog running up to me just as I was nearing my subject, but I angrily pushed my own ghosts away, there was no sense in foretelling my own demise, it would occur in the time and manner of it's own choosing. But then I countered my thoughts with a wry observation: what manner of brave man has the complete lunacy to follow a serial killer, by himself, at night, unarmed and unprepared? I took a calming deep breath, and continued my slow stealthy pursuit through the shadows towards the back of the house at 2554 Maple Dr. I arrived at the window with the screen bent away from the bottom, apparently just after the Slasher had entered. Then I had to ask myself: dare you enter? I thought it better that I should wait concealed outside the window, and record if Mr. Beck had any blood upon his clothes upon his escape. I had concealed myself within a hedge, hidden in the shadows where the street light reached it's luminary limits. I hadn't been there for fifteen minutes, when I caught sight of a car idling down the street, with it's headlights off. The car pulled over behind my Mercedes and parked. A moment later I discerned the figure of agent Larson stealthily making his way in my direction in a crouched position, with his weapon drawn. "Now how do I get out of this predicament?" I asked myself rhetorically. I could make myself known to agent Larson, carefully, and try to explain my presence, but I knew from his eyes at our previous encounter, that agent Larson wanted my head on a silver platter, neatly presented as proof of his prowess at serial killer elimination. There was the possibility, also, that agent Larson would discover my patient, Mr. Beck, aka Mr. X in the aftermath of a very fresh and very bloody murder.
At that exact time, a small black cat came walking around from the back of the house and ambled in my direction, it got within arms reach of me. I tried to shoo it away as quietly as humanly possible, and yet remain a viable threat to it's curiosity. Time seemed to stand still as several things happened at once: the cat noticed me and meowed, agent Larson noticed the cat, and Mr. Beck exiting the house, noticed both the cat and agent Larson. I tried to shift my position and crawl through the hedge, at the same time the cat lost interest in me and started rubbing it's back upon the trouser leg of agent Larson, who had just noticed the screen falling to the ground from behind him. How I reached my Mercedes without alerting agent Larson, I'll never know. If I had taken my pulse then it would likely have broken the blood pressure gauge. I started the Mercedes, and idled away with the headlights off. I awaited the next morning's paper with extreme trepidation. Would there be an account of the newest victim? Would I be mentioned as the suspect? Would agent Larson show up at my door complete with backup agents and his knowing sneer? I was calmed somewhat by the absence of mention to last night's episode, and at the same time, I was disappointed that the tension was still so thick that you cut it with the proverbial knife. And then I remembered my appointment with Mr. Beck, alias Mr. X, at nine that morning. Would he know that I had followed him? Would he know that I knew that he was the Slasher reincarnate? When Mr. Beck didn't show up for our meeting, I didn't know whether to be elated or disappointed. I tried to call him at home, but there was no answer; so I left a message reminding him that he was still going to be charged for the hour, regardless of his no show.
After work, I found myself going back to the house where I had followed Mr. Beck to last night. I stayed parked for about a half an hour, wondering what had occurred inside, wondering why there was no yellow police tape surrounding the house, and why I hadn't heard from agent Larson. Then I found myself walking up to the front door, in spite of the goose bumps and raised hairs on the nape of my neck telling me to return to my Mercedes and get away from there as fast as I could. I knocked on the door. No one answered. I walked around to the back of the house, where the screen was still laying on the ground, in mute testimony to last nights occurrences. I stuck my head through the open window, and after my eyes were accustomed to the darkness of the interior, I perceived small drops of blood receding into the darkness. I searched through the grass and flowerbed, where I could just make out a trail leading to where Mr. Beck's car had been parked last night. It was then that I realized that my footprints were surely to be all over the crime scene! I frantically retraced my steps, shuffling my feet to erase my prints, and then I finally got sensible and got away from there. Should I report my suspicions to some authority? I decided to call Agent Larson's office, and that I would hang up if he answered. The phone rang for five rings, then the answering machine picked up, this was during prime business hours. I then decided to find Mr. Beck's car and examine it for evidence, I felt quite the CSI Agent. Mr. Beck's car was in back of his house, and there was what appeared to be blood stains on the edge of the trunk lid. I photographed this, and then returned to the crime scene and photographed that as well, being careful not to leave my footprints around. Now what should I do? I felt that a perusal of the crime scene house would be especially dangerous to me, already being a suspect. And besides a friend or relative should have called the authorities by now. I decided to lay low and wait for news, or if no news were forthcoming, I would revisit the house Friday.
Friday the news had finally broke; there had been another Slasher style slaying, and it was connected to the disappearance of a Federal Agent. The Agent, Agent Larson had been investigating the Slasher case, and had followed the lead suspect, Dr. Appice to the crime scene, where evidence of suspected foul play had occurred; the suspect was to be considered armed and extremely dangerous. As much as I disliked Agent Larson, I probably mourned his disappearance more than anyone else. From now on, I was a fugitive, not just a suspect. I drove to a used car lot and exchanged my Mercedes for an old Chevrolet Caprice Classic. I then started growing a beard, and wore non prescription glasses to alter my appearance. I then proceeded to visit Mr. Beck's residence to search for evidence. I found that Mr. Beck was not at home. I went around back where I placed a garbage can against the wall below the bathroom window, which I had noticed was left ajar. It was a tight squeeze, but I gained entrance. I stepped carefully off of the rim of the toilet onto the tiled floor and noticed the blood soaked towels by the rear wall of the shower stall. I photographed the evidence. I examined the rest of the house, but
could find no evidence of Agent Larson's body. I then decided to see if Agent Larson's car was at his home, or in the Police impound yard. I tried the home address first, no car. The police impound yard was also a dead end, pardon the pun. I then tried to think like the Slasher, where would I dispose of a highly noticeable vehicle, somewhere close by, somewhere discreet. I had my answer, there was an old abandoned quarry some thirty miles south of here, the bottom of the quarry was filled with water runoff, and local kids would swim in it. The car was probably at the bottom of the quarry. But how to find it, I could not scuba dive, but perhaps I could hire someone to do it for me. A quick reference into the local yellow pages provided me with a name and number for Bob O'Dell's Scuba supplies and tours. Bob was eager enough to make a profit and he didn't ask too many questions. I provided him with a check and a description of the car. He only took about fifteen minutes to give me a license plate that matched my missing car, the agents Caprice was at the bottom of the old quarry. The agents body was still in the car as well. Bob offered to notify the local authorities, the F.B.I. and the Coroner's office. At first I was going to pass on his offer, but then I got a brain storm; Bob could have been diving here as a recreational endeavor and had accidentally discovered the car and body, rather than as a paid dive by the leading suspect in the agent's murder and disappearance. I suggested that Bob claim the reward if any, and that he should claim he discovered the car and body by accident. Bob agreed. I started to leave, and had in fact gotten about a half mile down the road when to my horror I discovered that I still had the license plate, I flipped a u-turn and returned the plate to Bob who gladly accepted his finder's proof. The headlines of the next day's newspaper read that the missing Agent's body and car had been found by a local sport diver, and that the main suspect, Dr. Appice, was still at large. Dr, Appice was considered armed and dangerous.
I was now stumped as to what my next move should be. I decided to tail my main suspect, Mr. Beck alias Mr. X. I rented a travel RV and parked it down the road from Mr. Beck's house. I would watch Mr. Beck continuously until I finally had enough information and evidence to clear my name and put him away, or until I was tracked down and incarcerated myself, whichever event occurred first.

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mel shrum
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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:46

A Life-mare
by Mel Shrum

A scream awoke me with a start. I was drenched in cold sweat and completely tangled in the sheets. I squinted at the red luminescent numbers on the alarm clock through sleep blurred eyes; three thirty-one am. I rolled over and tried to return to sleep, but it was useless; images and sounds and terror kept bubbling to the surface of my consciousness, as if through molasses. I knew from past experience with dreams like this, that I couldn't fight it, so with a sigh of resolve, I lit a Marlboro and once again let my mind wander to the beginning of these dreams I've endured since childhood.
The earliest dream that I can recall occurred twenty-one years ago, when I was nine. That was back in Bakersfield, California. I've never tried to tell anyone of my dreams; mainly because I could never describe them accurately enough to impart the sheer terror that I've experienced. Secondly, simply because they would think I was either insane or having a joke on them. I wish it was so simple. In my mind they are very real. I'd been in the habit from the beginning of these dreams to write them down upon waking, to have a dream diary so to speak, that I might try to sort them out and make sense of them. My first recollected dream starts, as I've said, when I was nine.
My brother and I had gone to the County fair. It was the last of September, it was cool, but not yet cold, with just a hint of rain scent in the darkening overcast sky. As we walked taking in all the sights, from the multicolored tents to the flashing lights on the rides, we reveled in the smells of hay, diesel, and food, and the sounds of children screaming and giggling, accompanied by the hawkers, and diesel engines, as well as the grunts, neighs, and moos coming from the animal exhibits, all of which assailed our senses delightfully. After we had taken in all of the rides, from the Ferris wheel to the Mad Mouse roller coaster, and having seen all of the gift shops as well as all of the side shows and farm and art exhibits, we strolled through the darker more remote areas seeking to leave no ride or show untried. After stepping over electric cables, animal dung, litter, and mud puddles we came upon a clearing far from the main attractions, it seemed almost quiet. The full moon shone through the clouds; like a burlesque dancer removing veils, and there before us stood a small black tent with one flap held open by a stand with a small sign: welcome to Madam Balatsky, medium and fortune teller.
The tent was not lit, in fact it was inaccessible to all but the very determined, as were we, to seek out all areas of the fair. Curiosity drove our legs towards the dark recesses of the entrance, we lifted the veiled inner curtain and waited for our eyes to adjust to the darkened interior. A wooden bench was against the tent to our left, to the right was a round wooden table and chairs, a black tablecloth covered the table, and a single candle in a brass holder threw a feeble flickering light, which was reflected on the crystal globe centered upon the table. "Which of you shall be the first?" The deep female voice with the strong European accent startled us. It had come from a very beautiful dark haired, dark eyed woman who appeared suddenly from behind a curtain in the dark tent, as if from another dimension. She wore the colorful gypsy style dress in an ageless way. She grasped my brother Paul by his hand and led him to the table, his back towards me. She closed her eyes and seemed to go into a trance, swaying slightly side to side, her gold hoop earrings reflecting the candle light. She then told Paul that he would marry, after many girlfriends, and have three children; two girls and a boy. Paul gave her the $2.00 fee and sat on the bench nudging my side with his elbow, as if to say "top that!" I was laughing on the inside, it was all so "Hollywood" and predictable. I sat in the chair and waited to hear about marriage and children. What she said next felt like ice water trickling down my neck and back, as my hairs stood on end. She suddenly grabbed both of my wrists while her dark eyes seemed to stare into my soul. I was terrified! "You don't believe in fortunes; but you will! You will start having dreams. Exceptionally vivid dreams that will torment you the rest of your life!"
I had awoken immediately after, still shivering from my fright, as well as from the cold sweat dampened t shirt, and jotted down what was to be the first of many disturbing dreams. As I went to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face, I noticed that I could see on my wrists the reddened imprints of where her hands had gripped them! Can dreams become so vivid that they leave physical manifestations? Ever since that night my life has been punctuated by the spine-tingling shivers that de'ja'vu impart. I put out my cigarette, and went to get myself a glass of ice water, setting it on a coaster on the night stand, as I penned my most recent dream into my dream diary, I remembered another dream I had.
In this dream, I'm walking down a two lane road that is badly in need of repaving. The autumn sun is soothing, mingled with the cool north east breeze. The birds are singing happily, accompanied by the buzzing of insects. I walk over a rise to find a neighborhood, which is strangely quiet, deserted, and darkened. Thin white drifts of clouds float lazily across the sky, casting ethereal shadows that appeared then vanished across the fields of grass surrounding the road. I can't understand why I get a feeling like I'm coming home, I've never seen this place before! I see old houses boarded up in the distance. I advance with trepidation to the faded white structure on the south end of town. I slowly approach the crumbling concrete steps when the rusted screen door slams open from the wind. The interior is dark and has a dank, musty smell of disuse emanating from the cavernous depths as I open the front door, gently pushing open the stubborn rusted hinges, and brushing away cobwebs. The squeal of the protesting hinges echoes from the cavernous, dark interior. The musty, dank smell of disuse brings a choking cloud of dust swirling upon it. I see what appears to be small yellow lights, there in the back recesses of the room, atop the stair banister. I approach the lights, unable to stop or turn aside, led by some unknown will. My shaking legs drive me ever foreword on weakened knees. I take small, but determined steps carefully up the protesting, dust coated stairs, waving my arms to sweep away the hanging clumps of webs. At last, upon the top landing, I squint my eyes to focus upon the small yellow lights. Closer, I slowly step, and closer still; until I see that the 'lights' are in reality the eyes of a large owl; which screeches loudly and flies over my head, just missing my own eyes with it's talons as it takes flight. I turn and run until I have to rest. Once again I awoke, trembling and shaken. Once again I penned an entry into my dream diary.
Now I focused on the dream which had awoken me just a while ago, which has left me weak and shaken. I'm in a city. People are running frantically in all directions. Screams and car horns assault my ears. I see cars driven onto sidewalks and into crowds in the mindless panic gripping everyone in sight. I see a cabbie parting a crowd: like Moses parting the Red Sea. I hear people calling out names, like a roll call of the dead. One woman sobbing for her daughter April, another weeping over her pet dog "Mitzie". I see an officer in uniform Impotently shouting into a bullhorn. The blood of hundreds, from the human carpet of the fallen and trampled, staining the streets, and the pant legs of the more fortunate, up to their knees. The smell of blood, panic, and sweat mingles with the fumes of thousands of vehicles in this chaotic mass exodus. Suddenly a perverse quiet seems to envelope the city as a huge, sun bright flash, followed by an angry purple mushroom cloud appears downtown, blossoming in the setting sun as everything within eyesight is obliterated by a horrendous, explosive concussion. As I put my glass of water down, I can't help but stare at my bloodied pant legs, and wonder how much time is left, and if perhaps I can make it out of Houston in time.

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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:49

Doug Graves, Horror Novelist
by Mel Shrum

Doug Graves was popular, very popular indeed. His latest book "Nausaleum" had stayed on the New York Times best seller list for six weeks now. His previous books had also enjoyed longevity on the list. "Nausaleum" had been his sixth bestseller, his first five had been "Skull Dougary", A Graves Situation", Asses To Ashes And Busts To Dust", Hearse And His" and 6ft. Under Par"
But now Doug Graves was a worried man, he had succumbed to writer's block and feared that he had written his last best seller. He moped and worried for two days, and then had awoken with an inspiration; He would read police crime reports, case books, and diaries of victims as well as killers. He had successful books from this endeavor for "I Want A Ghoul, Just Like The Ghoul, That Unburied Dear Old Dad", and "A Little Sugar And Crematorium With Your Coffee?". Then his nemesis writer's block had struck again. Doug swept up in panic, went for a walk along the rugged cliffs high above the crashing surf on the California coast. He was mugged at knife point by a small Hispanic man about twenty five years old, who was wearing a dirty white t-shirt and faded torn blue jeans. Doug was now very angry as well as knotted up with worry. Doug spotted the Hispanic punk ten minutes later counting his new found fortune at the cliff edge. Doug saw red. Doug ran up to the youth and pushed him as hard as he could. The Punk's eyes looked as if they were going to pop right out of his head as he became airborne, one-thousand, seventy-five feet above the jagged rocks below, his smug grin had been permanently removed from his gloating face. Doug had still lost his wallet, money, watch, and credit cards, but Doug had gained inspiration for one more book. "I'll See Your Heart, And Raise You With My Spade" had been written a scant three months later. Again, Doug Graves was on the best seller list. When writer's block once again raised it's horrid head, Doug knew just what to do for inspiration. Doug couldn't wait to be mugged again, so he went for a drive in his restored 1959 Cadillac Hearse, it was gleaming with shiny black paint and chrome everywhere. A 1,000 watt sound system was wired into a customized casket in the rear area of the hearse. And 22" chrome custom spinning wheels had been fitted to his lowered ride. A 1970 Cadillac 500 cid/ 400 hp engine was fitted into the engine compartment. The sides of the sedan had gold antique style script proclaiming it to be the Grave Douger. The custom dark Grey leather interior had tombstone shaped seat backs with R.I.P. stitched into the headrests. Doug was looking for inspiration, and he was forming a vision of running his next victim over. He spotted a drunk vagrant staggering down a dimly lit deserted street in the bad part of town. Doug gunned his tweaked motor and over 400 horse power blasted his Cadillac towards his victim, striking him at over seventy miles per hour. The vagrant became a bloody smear in the road. Doug now faced the task of cleaning up all evidence of his exploit. He drove to the local automated car wash, the "Green Clean Machine" which offered undercarriage pressure washing as an option. Doug had the undercarriage service done three times, each time searching for evidence with his flashlight. Doug having become satisfied that no trace of vagrant residue resided under his car, had the entire car washed for good measure. Three months later his latest novel, "It's Not Over, Till The Fat Lady's Green" had made the best seller's list. Doug had another inspiration, and remarkably enough, it did not require a murder to inspire it.
Doug Graves would write about a successful macabre horror novelist, who writes a pseudopigraphical anecdote upon the insights of a horror fiction writer. He points out that a good novelist, in order to write a believable story, must use real life experiences to weave the story upon, in order to breathe life into the story. As the number of horror novels this writer wrote increased, so too, did his craving and need for real experiences to base his stories on: he needed fresh material. His hunger for new more interesting experience gravitated more and more to the truly macabre. It started innocently enough, reading stories, reading diaries of convicted killers, and the next logical step; murder. Doug wrote his latest book, and it did make the best seller list, but it also made waves at the local police constable's office. Doug had described the writer's murders with a lot of detail. Details that coincided very well with two local unsolved murders, a middle aged vagrant whose body had to sponged off of the street, and a young Hispanic man whose mangled body had been found below the rugged California coastal cliffs, with Doug Graves wallet found still clasped within his tightly clenched hand. Doug had made another list: the most wanted list.

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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:51

Ghost Of A Chance
by Mel Shrum

The sonar picked up a blip, laying three miles below the surface. We
held our elation in check, it could be anything, it might even be the
wreck of the “Caribbean Queen”, a turn of the century luxury liner that
we were searching for. It went down with all hands, save one; the
captain of the ship James Thornton II, who had escaped using the life
raft. There are still questions as to why he was the only survivor,
questions we would likely be able to answer, should we find our prize.
Aboard the search vessel “Sea Searcher I”, were myself; Isaac Winfried,
an arm chair sleuth, who discovered the possibility of the whereabouts
of the Caribbean Queen from sea charts, and ocean currents. Also aboard
were Jane Hilliard, a professor with the expertise of nautical
archaeology, James Thornton III, who was not only financing the
expedition, he wanted to clear up his father’s good name. George
Turnball was the ship’s cook, as well as a good diver. Gary
Freewill was about the best sonar operator that you could wish for.
Jason Argo was the lead diver, and an ex-Navy Seal. Tom Burlwood was
the ship’s medic, and also a diver of some renown.
The Sea Searcher I was outfitted with a crane with a capacity to lift
up to 8,000 lbs., a remote controlled unmanned submersible named “Sea
Urchin”, a three man submersible named the “Epic”, and the standard
diving gear.
I had contacted James Thornton III, with my theory on the whereabouts
of the liner, He suggested that We get together a search and salvage
expedition. Just two weeks later, here we were: in the sunny waters of
the Atlantic Ocean, in between the coast of Florida, Cuba, and
Bermuda. We were in the Bermuda Triangle, which earned a few nervous
chuckles.
Our blip seemed to be the right size and location, but it turned out to
be an old freighter, already discovered and picked clean.
We took turns watching the sonar screen, fishing or just relaxing. The
late summer sun, and the mist from the waves felt wonderful. The
seagulls lonely cries, along with the sound of the ocean breeze and the
surf splashing against our hull, made a lovely soundtrack to our voyage.
We would often dive in the clear, tropical waters, carefully watchful
for sharks, as we appreciated the wonders of this sub-surface paradise.
Our Captain had at first been sternly apposed to bringing alcohol
aboard, but a brief lecture on boredom soon had him in a more sociable
spirit. So our evenings were spent listening to the CD collection I had
recorded onto my Ipod, which was then piped through the ship’s radio.
We sipped our Margarita’s to the Rolling Stone’s “Beast of Burden”,
then we were treated to Argent’s “God Gave Rock And Roll To You”.
The next morning dawned a little cooler, which felt great on my head
that felt a little too big from too many Margarita’s. We were scanning
the ocean bottom in sector’s. I felt sure that the ship must lie in one
of four main sectors, so far, three of those sectors were barren. I felt
like Casey at the bat during the fourth sector search, I crossed my
fingers unconsciously, as I bit my bottom lip, gaze fixed upon the sonar
screen. There! I saw a blip, that could be a debris field. And then
another larger blip that could be the forward section of a liner,
followed by the remaining blip of the rearward section. Shouts of
jubilation erupted among st the crew, as we raced to ready “Sea
Urchin” for it’s sole purpose on this voyage: a fish eye view of our
target.
At first the “Sea Urchin” was seeing only the muddy, murky bottom of
the ocean, then slowly a grand site appeared in it’s foreword lights: a
debris field! Littered upon the ocean floor were indiscernible lumps of
objects that had been covered with silt for more than a hundred years.
The robotic arms of the “Sea Urchin” were employed to uncover what had
lain here unseen by human eyes in a century of silt. Jubilation turned
to humdrum's as at first nothing of importance was found, then things
started looking up, a plate was found, followed by another, a bowl, a
knife, a goblet! We eagerly awaited the reemergence of “Sea Urchin”
aboard our ship. Soon the submersible was loaded in it’s cradle and we
started the job of cleaning the barnacles and coral from our finds. Our
plates bore the watermark of the HMS “Caribbean Queen” , we had found
Our liner, and much celebration ensued.
That night I had a strange dream. In it I was aboard the “Caribbean
Queen” somehow it hadn’t sunk yet, it was there in all it’s glory. The
passengers aboard were all dressed in turn of the century clothing,
which oddly seemed perfectly normal to me. I tipped my hat to some young
ladies dressed primly in white lacey shirts who were talking by the
railing on the Port side. I then followed the sound of a harpsichord
which seemed to be coming from the ship’s dining room. I was stopped by
a ship’s officer, and asked for my papers. I saw myself reach into my
inner coat pocket, and draw forth a passport booklet. Just as I was
about to see the name upon the passport, there were screams coming from
the deck. Smoke was billowing up from the hatches on the stern end of
the ship. The Captain quickly ran to the bulkhead and rang the engineers
and the firemen. People were by this time in a blind panic, some were
running for the life boats, others were running to save their valuables.
I awoke with the dream still fresh in my memory, what a strange dream.
The “Sea Urchin” was employed again, this time we were to send it down
the foreword main staircase, to see if perhaps any thing remained in the
Captain’s lockup, where the ship’s most costly items were stored. As our
eyes adjusted to the darkness, we were slowly greeted by the sights of
lumps covered with sea sediments. We used the remote controls to have

“Sea Urchin” blow away some of the sediment with it’s propeller. Our
endeavor was rewarded with the site of gold, and jewels midst the lumps
of what were once money and papers. Then there was a misty apparition seen
darting across the lens. Everyone turned in unison to glance at their
neighbor, as if to ask, “Did you see that?”. It was a stingray, some
said. Others claimed it was an octopus, or a jelly fish of giant
proportions. The goose-flesh on the nape of my neck suggested another
possibility.
Tom Burlwood, Jane Hilliard, and I readied our diving gear. The water
was a cool 40 degrees, so we applied generous amounts of petroleum jelly
Before donning our suits, to help insulate against hypothermia. We spat
into our masks, to prevent the glass from fogging, then over the railing
we went. A basket had been lowered into the depths below, while we were
Getting prepared, and we followed the line attached to it. The wreckage
eventually became visible in the murky waters, 10 fathoms below the
surface. We entered the wreckage, carefully watching our tanks and
hoses, lest they become snagged upon some jutting points of wreckage.
Then we began picking up what gold and jewels we could find, placing
them into the basket. We managed two baskets that morning, then we
surfaced, changed our tanks, and went back down to see the rest of
the wreckage. I kept getting this eerie feeling of being watched and kept
looking around behind myself, but there was never anyone there. This feeling
was very strange under this deep of water. And then there were the objects that
appeared to have been moved, I would pass a piece of wreckage once, the second
time I passed, it would be in a different location or position. And then there
were the eerie sounds; static, creaks, and whispering noises; which seemed to
emanate from every where and no where. Sounds that manifested as if to separate
us from each other, to draw us apart from the safety of numbers. But without a doubt,
the worst of all were the shadows that were moving just at the corner of your field
of vision, making you wonder if you really saw what you think you saw. Shadows that looked
all too human in shape, 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, amid the wreckage of
the “Caribbean Queen”.

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Post by mel shrum » 10 Jun 2018, 22:53

The Waterfall
by Mel Shrum

The roar of the falls was deafening, the sound vibrating the ground, as well as my chest. As close as I was to Ben, walking side by side along the cliff trail, we could not hear each other, even shouting at the top of our lungs. This was just as I had planned it, and, being such a desolate area, there would be no witnesses either. Ben deserved no less a death than to be pushed over the falls, into the boiling flux of water 3,000 feet below, to be splattered among the rocks and eventually washed clean, like my memory of him will eventually be as well. Ben had stolen my idea and was given the credit for it, at work. I had worked very hard to come up with the idea, and I had proof of my design, but somehow Ben had convinced the boss that the idea was his. Talking Ben into coming to the falls to discuss work was easier than I had thought it would be, he jumped at the idea, as if it also was his idea. Panting, and leaning against a rock for support, I had barely time to register Ben was walking behind me before I was pushed out into the misty air that permeated the open expanse above the falls. Ben had betrayed me, once again. I had no chance of surviving the fall, but just in case, I set my mind to working out a plan as I fell screaming into the roaring vertigo of death. I am not sure if my memory of what happened next is a real memory, or an extremely life-like hallucination. I recall feeling no pain, no worry, ...just a calm, peaceful feeling such as I have never known before. I could not see or hear, in the natural sense, but there was a sense of color and depth, a different intensity of bright light. I could sense a Presence, (I emphasize the capital of Presence, because it seemed to be God, all knowing, all powerful, all composed of patience, understanding and love.) This Lord, asked me if I would return to Earth, He even showed me a vision of what life would be like if I acquiesced to His desire. I replied: "Lord, if it will make you happy, I will return" ( Of course, I really didn't want to leave this wonderful presence, and this wonderful place of peace and comfort, but I also very much wanted to please this Lord, so any sacrifice was worth the cost of loosing paradise.) I came too in a village hospital. I was covered in bandages, and bruises, and breathing too deeply sent tearing pain coursing through my lungs, as if they would burst. Dr. Munoz informed me that my recovery would take some time, but if I desired, I could be placed in a local hotel with a daily visit by my nurse, where the unsterilized atmosphere of freedom and would help in the healing process. I immediately accepted his proposal, and soon had a room with a view of the falls in the distant horizon. And I found that I had nothing but time; time to plot and plan for the vengeance I swore to take upon Ben, I would not think to kill him any more, that was unthinkable after my encounter with God, real or imagined as it may be. No, my vengeance would ensure that Ben was very much alive and able to live a long life with the knowledge that I had not only taken back what was rightfully mine, but that I had deprived him of a living also, at least in his field of study.

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Post by Noblepage » 11 Jun 2018, 23:47

:tiphat: awesome
mel shrum wrote: ↑
10 Jun 2018, 22:41
The Fish
by Mel Shrum

The traffic noise was deafening. The tire noise alone was overwhelming, but add to that the clack-clack of the tires going over the seam of the highway concrete sections, the thumping stereos, the horns, the louder than legal exhaust systems, and the diesel motors, and the cacophony was bad enough to cause permanent ear damage. The smell of exhaust, burning oil, and an unidentifiable stench from some local factory filled the summer baked air, shimmering with heat. The mirage of water in the distance was enticing, making you want to feel it's apparent coolness. Jim wiped the sweat from his brow, and glanced at his watch for the tenth time in as many seconds. This was not good. His Taurus was broken down along the busiest stretch of Hwy. 71, along the clover leaf of the intersection of Hwy. 183. He was going to be late for work, and on top of this, he had to wait for a tow truck. Jim glanced at his watch again, and he swore that time had stood still, but just for him. It was 3:45 pm., and the temperature was a stifling 98 degrees, with a humidity of 90% added on for your summer comfort. The tow truck driver had said that he would be here in an hour, give or take traffic conditions. Jim glanced over the clover leaf, and noticed a pool of water, a secluded portion of Honey creek that had been secluded from it's normal flow, and had been forgotten and hidden by the construction of the highway system. There was a slight oil slick floating on the still surface, and floating bits of garbage wind blown into the recessed area from passing motorist with bad habits of messing with Texas. Jim was about to turn away from the view when a ripple caught his eye. It was a rather large ripple, not something that could be attributed to an insect, and nothing had been tossed into the water from above, he would have surely seen that falling across his field of view. Jim had nothing to do but wait, killing time, and he had his "pocket fisherman" that he had stashed into his trunk all those years ago, just in case he came upon an unexpected opportunity to fish, and it had never even been used. What the hell, Jim thought, at the least I can climb down into some shade, and see how this pocket fishing rod thing feels, something made that ripple, maybe even a fish. Jim made his way down carefully, climbing over the side rail and down a very steep embankment to the water's edge. He started to cast his hook into the water, only he noticed that he had no bait. He glanced to his left and to his right, there in a tangle of weeds, lay an almost empty packet of gummy worms. Jim speared a gummy worm on his hook, and cast it into the water. This wasn't so bad, a little shade, a slight breeze coming from across the water, made the temperature almost bearable. The insects were a little bothersome, but that only added to the fishing experience, almost like a real fishing trip. Jim leaned back using his portable stadium cushion as a pillow, and was almost drifting asleep when he felt a definite tug on his line. The pocket fisherman came with a 20 lb. test line, Jim was sure that nothing in this small creek could be larger than a tadpole, if anything could survive here at all. Then it came again, another tug, more insistent, followed by another, and another. Jim had to hold on tight to the pocket fisherman with both hands, and all of his strength. He let the line slip away, then reeled it in a click or two at a time. This was going to be a real struggle, to see if the fish broke the line, or Jim reeled it in. He had definitely caught a fish, no doubt, and in the most unlikely fishing spot ever. It was impossible for a fish to survive here, and yet, here it was, enticed by a gummy worm. Jim fought the fish for what seemed an eternity, letting out some line, reeling it back in slowly, carefully so as not to snap the line. Jim hoped the fish was getting as tired as he was. Jim glanced at his watch, the tow-truck driver should be arriving any minuet, but Jim was not going to let this fish get away, it was too good of a fish story to be believed without proof. This got Jim thinking, he did have a Styrofoam cooler in his trunk, maybe he could talk the tow truck driver into stopping somewhere for some ice. The fish brought Jim out of his revelry, with a severe tug, almost enough to drag Jim into the water, or rip the pocket fisherman out of his hands. Jim slowly reeled the line in, a little at a time, his hands had
somehow gotten blistered from the hold on the little reel, a small painful interference with his sport at the moment. Then Jim saw a dorsal fin appear from the water, it seemed to be at least 4"long, so the monster fish must be about 12" long, Jim figured, quite a catch for such an unlikely place to find a fish, Jim wondered if the fish had somehow swam into the secluded area of the creek during construction, then had simply grown too large to return to the major course of the creek. It must have been feeding on insects and occasional food blown into the area from unsuspecting motorist contributors. The fish tugged again, but it was either weakening, or testing Jim, seeing if it could fake him out and escape the incessant fight for dominance between man and fish. A shout brought Jim's attention to the overpass, where a man in a Grey uniform was looking at him. It was a trooper, wearing dark sun glasses. Jim cursed under his breath, and waved at the officer, pointing at his reel, and shrugging. The officer made his way down to Jim and asked about the Taurus, Jim explained that yes, it was his, and yes it had broken down, and yes a tow truck had been called. Jim told the officer that he did indeed have a fishing permit, and would gladly show it to the officer, if the officer would mind holding the reel for a moment. Officer Chance, as his name tag proclaimed him to be, accepted the reel with a skeptical look, then a growing smile of surprise lit up his countenance, "You have caught a fish, a good sized one at that, who would believe a fish could be found in this God forsaken area?" Thank you Mr. Jim Spalding, here is your license back, there is no sign posted for no fishing, here, but after you catch your fish it would be a good idea to move along, the side of the highway is not a safe place to be. Jim assured the officer that he would move along, and soon. After a while, another man in uniform appeared above him, this time it was the tow truck driver. Jim motioned for the driver to come down and returned to reeling in the fish. The shocked look on the tow truck driver's face when the dorsal fin broke the surface again was priceless. The tow truck driver, who introduced himself as George, offered to help bring the monster in, together, they pulled in and reeled in the line. The fish that they hauled out of the water after a severe fight, was 24" long and weighed about 30 lbs. It was a catfish, and the fish story of a lifetime. No one would believe this if they didn't see it. Jim and George carried the fish up the steep embankment, and placed it into the Styrofoam cooler. George stopped at a seven-eleven where Jim purchased some ice, and a disposable camera, to photograph the monster. A short story appeared in the Austin Statesman, complete with photo, but everyone assumed it was a joke, when they read about where the fish had been caught. Everyone except a tow truck driver named George, and a state trooper named Officer Chance.

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