By Luis Herrera
Copyright 2016 Luis Herrera
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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It was a simple mid-September day at a Massachusetts hospital; people being checked up on, surgeries being performed, nurses tending to their duties, and the Emergency Room being a little more hectic than usual, but there is a certain group of individuals walking the halls of this hospital for a more unsettling reason. Death. The members of this group are angels disguised as medical students lead by a Reaper named Felix, also in disguise as a doctor, who is teaching them the proper techniques of taking a soul into the afterlife. As Felix goes on and on about certain small things to remember they head up a flight of stairs to the next floor. As they walk around the second floor of the hospital they stop near a lobby as Felix checks to see if anyone is near.
“Alright, now can anyone here tell me why it is that we are in a hospital of all places?” Felix said to the group.
A hand is raised in the group.
Felix responds, “Yes, uh…Megan, is it?”
“Yes sir,” Megan replies nervously, “Are we here because a lot of people die in hospitals?”
“Well, yes and no,” Felix responds, “can anyone else answer the question, why are we in a hospital?”
Felix picks another raised hand from the crowd.
“Is it because hospitals are-seen-as preventers of death?” said the angel.
“No, not really, but good try.” Felix replies.
He keeps picking other angels in the group as they get close answers but not the one he’s expecting. That is until a female doctor approaches Felix and the group overhearing them down the hall.
“It’s because for you to take life from someone you must first bear witness to life itself,” the doctor continues as everyone starts at her, “that way you will gain a more appreciative respect for whoever’s soul you will be taking.”
“That is why you are all in a hospital,” Felix continues, “a place where a life is brought into this world on one floor and the death of one is mourned on another.”
The group starts to display a type of melancholy expression after hearing the real reason of their presence in a hospital. That’s when they immediately they start to wonder who is this doctor and how did she know what they were discussing.
“Um, excuse me doctor, but who are you and how do you know what we’re talking about?” said one of the angels.
Felix starts to chuckle under his breath as he realizes just who the doctor is, “Is it really not that obvious to all of you who she is?”
The group stands in confusion as another angle speaks up, “Is she an angel?”
“I guess you can say that,” Felix begins to clear his throat as if he were preparing for a grand introduction, “everyone, I would like you all to meet one of the most respected Angels of Death, my mentor, Rosalina Valentine.”
The group is in amazement as they meet someone who is to be considered a celebrity to them.
“Oh, why thank you, Felix,” Valentine says acting embarrassed, “you always know how to make this old crow smile with your grand introductions.”
“Well, why shouldn’t I, you were my mentor, after all, a little show of affection is expected every now and then,” Felix replies with grace.
“And it is appreciated as always Felix,” said Valentine.
Felix then grabs ahold of the group as they continue throughout the hospital accompanied by Dr. Valentine as they head to the third floor. Moments later, a man is seen walking up to the hospital wearing an all-black three-piece suit and holding a black wooden cane with a metal Crow as the hand grip. As he walks into the hospital a nurse at the counter grabs his attention gesturing to the hospital guest sign-in sheet. He walks over and reaches into his jacket and pulls out a black fountain pen as he scribbles on the sheet. He puts away his pen and begins to head towards the elevator. As soon as the elevator doors close, the ink disappears from the sheet as if it was never there in the first place.
He reaches the second floor and walks out of the elevator into the middle of an intersecting hallway as he stands there patiently as if he is waiting for a cue of some kind. As he stands there everyone around him seems to ignore his presence as they go on with their lives not paying any mind to him. As the environment begins to slowly quiet down into a soft whisper, he hears a strange noise and jolts his head slightly to the left staring down the hallway. After gazing down a hallway for a moment, he directs himself towards a specific door and looks through the window to see a man who appears to be in his late 50’s attached to multiple machines. As the elderly man grieves in pain, he looks at the window to see the mysterious man looking back at him. He stares at the man intensely as he suddenly appears next to his bed. Realizing who he is, the old man nods in acceptance and closes his eyes as the mysterious man disappears to the sound of a heart monitor flat-lining. As the nurses and doctors rush in to try and resuscitate the elderly man a single tear can be seen rolling down his face as he lies in his bed.
Several floors up Dr. Valentine gets a message that her patient Mr. Feldman, had suddenly passed away. Devastated by his loss, she still-remains with Felix and the group. They head to the fourth-floor Pediatrics department to the room of a young nine-year-old girl named Emily. As the group gathers around they look through the window to see Emily with all-of her hair gone and a strange I.V. bag attached to her. Dr. Valentine tells everyone to wait a moment as she walks into the room to change one of her I.V.’s and checks a small machine connected to a breathing mask attached to her face. As she walks back out into the hall minutes later, the group began to ask some questions.
“Dr. Valentine, what’s wrong with that girl, do you know her?” One angel asked.
“Well of course I know her, I’m her doctor,” Valentine replied in a silly tone, “everyone this is Emily, she’s nine years old, and I’m afraid to say that she has a rare form of lung cancer; without that small machine, there, she won’t be able to breathe on her own.”
As Felix, Valentine, and the group of angels walk further down the hallway to the other side of the building, the mysterious man reappears from an adjacent hall as he approaches the room where the Emily is in. He then walks in and sits down in a chair next to Emily’s bed as he looks at the IV with the words “CHEMOTHERAPY” on the label and the respirator machine beeping in a slow rhythm. As he stood in the quiet room, he heard another strange sound, he lifts his head to find that it’s coming from Emily and moves towards her as he reaches out to her.
While this was happening, the group reaches the sixth floor as Felix begins to discuss the reasoning why medicine both helped and worsened the tasks of a Reaper. As he continued speaking one of the angels in the group noticed in the corner of their eye the mysterious man down a hall walking into a marked hallway. The angel then interrupts Felix to ask a question.
“Um, excuse me, Dr. Valentine, ma’am!” asked the Angel.
“Yes dear, what is it?” Replied Valentine.
“Um…” she was nervous to speak, “I was wondering why does that hallway over there have red doors?”
“Well, I’m glad you asked because that’s where we are heading next,” Valentine said gesturing to the hallway, “that my dear is the Infectious Disease Ward, where all those contaminated or infected with dangerous viruses, diseases, or parasites are quarantined to prevent any spreading of said infections. Why do you ask dear?”
Just as the angel was about to speak again they heard someone down the hall yells out “We’ve got a code!” followed by a small alarm as nurses and doctors rush into the hallway. That’s when Valentine also rushes into the hallway followed by everyone else. She stopped at a room in the middle of the ward to see doctors and nurses in Hazmat suits as they try to resuscitate the man back to life. After minutes of pointless work one of the doctors stops and speaks up.
“Call it,” he looks around to see the other doctors and nurses not sure what to do, “I said call it!”
Valentine pushes a speaker button on the other side of the glass window, “Time of death…2:37pm.”
The group walks away into the other hallway as Felix suggests that they go get something to eat. As they head to the elevator the mysterious man is then seen standing outside the room of the patient who had just passed away staring at the doctors cleaning up the room from the mess that was made. But as soon as one of the nurses turned around to pick something up next to the window, the mysterious man disappeared again.
As the group was calming down in the cafeteria on the first floor, Felix and Valentine were in a very serious discussion about what had just happened.
“Something doesn’t feel right Felix.” Said Valentine.
“What?” Felix responded as he took a bite of his sandwich.
“Tell me you didn’t feel like something was off?” Responded Valentine.
“I don’t get what you mean Val,” Felix said, “a guy died in the infectious disease ward, I don’t get what’s off about that.”
“The fact that a man died Felix!” Valentine exclaimed.
“So what Val,” Felix replied, “people die all the time, we’re Reapers, we’re used to people dying out of nowhere.”
Just as Felix was about to take another bite of his sandwich a nurse approaches and whispers into Valentine’s ear. As the nurse left, Valentine was on the verge of tears.
“What’s wrong now?” Felix said as he continued to eat his sandwich.
“It’s Emily, Felix, she’s gone,” Valentine said in a depressed tone.
“What, when?” Asked Felix.
“Just a couple of minutes ago,” Valentine starts to sob, “Oh, she was such a brave little girl, Felix, you should have seen her before it was too late, you would have adored her.”
“Well what are you doing here then, shouldn’t you go collect her soul before it’s too late and goes to purgatory?” Felix recommended.
“Can you go do it for me, Felix, I don’t think I can right now?” Valentine asked.
“Can’t, I didn’t hear anything a couple of minutes ago so I guess Emily’s souls is one of those ‘only you can collect’ scenarios,” Felix replied.
“What do you mean you didn’t hear anything Felix, she’s not that type of soul I’m sure of it?” said Valentine.
“I’m mean I didn’t hear anything telling me to go collect her soul?” Felix remarked.
The two of them sat at the table trying to figure out what exactly to Emily’s soul until Felix brings up something from earlier in the day.
“Val what time did your patient die, the first one Mr. what’s his name?” Felix asked.
“Mr. Feldman, I was paged about him around 1:40pm. Why do you ask?” Valentine asked.
“And you didn’t hear anything or feel anything before he died?” Felix asked.
“No, why did you?” Valentine replied.
“Not a thing, I didn’t even get a small feeling from the guy in the Infectious Disease ward and we were on the same floor as him,” Felix said as he started to get a little disturbed.
At that exact moment, Felix and Valentine both hear a strange noise. As they rushed to grab the group of angels to find it so too did the mysterious man, but he was all the way on the 21st floor of the hospital and was further away than the others. After running up several flights of stairs to discover where they were supposed to be heading, they found themselves on the fifth floor, Maternity Ward. They stopped outside one of the patient’s rooms to discover the screams of a woman still in labor. Unable to enter they all stayed outside as Valentine and Felix were both unsure exactly who’s soul they feel is supposed to pass on, the mother, the unborn child or both. The sudden sound of monitors going off brought a terrifying sensation to the two of them as they both knew that sound meant that both the mother and child would most likely not make it soon.
As Felix and Valentine wait outside the room for the end to come, the mysterious man appears inside the room admits all the chaos, but cannot be seen by anyone inside. At that same moment, the group felt as slight chill coming from the room, that’s when Felix and Valentine both realize exactly who was in the patient’s room. Terrified of what was going to happen they prepared themselves for the inevitable. Meanwhile, in the patient’s room, the mysterious man watched over the woman suffering in pain from labor as her husband was by her side trying his best to soothe her, but the environment contained too much and was affecting everything. As the woman’s heart rate fell drastically the doctors ordered the husband out of the room in case things got worse. The Mysterious man continued to watch over the pain riddled mother as she cried and prayed to God for help.
As she prayed in pain, the Mysterious man just stood there staring at her with an emotionless blank expression on his face. Until out of nowhere she finally saw him just staring at her with no emotions whatsoever, and just like Mr. Feldman, she realized at that moment who he was. As her heart started to fail she was worried for her unborn baby, so she begged the mysterious man in absolute misery to please help her and her baby. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a strange looking pocket watch.
He opened the watch; it read 4:15pm, he looked at the clock in the room, it read 3:57pm. He took his other hand and adjusted the time, just before he closed it the watch now read 6:15pm. He closed the watch in his hands and as the watch disappeared, the woman thanked him as her heart rate went back up. Meanwhile, Felix and Valentine felt a strange sensation coming from the room.
“Did you feel that?” Felix asked.
“Yeah, I did.” She replies, “You don’t think?”
“I’m not sure.” Replied Felix.
Over an hour later, the woman’s screams were finally gone and instead replaced with the screams of a newborn baby boy. As the husband rushed into the room to meet his son, Felix and Valentine sobbed tears of joy that a new life was brought into the world. Until realizing one small thing. They still heard a strange sound coming from the room.
Some time passed by as the mother and father welcomed their new child into the world. That’s when the mother decided to lie her son next to her while her husband got some rest. She looked at the clock on the wall to check the time, it was 6:10 pm. That’s when the strange sound caught Felix and Valentine’s attention one more time. They walk to the patient window, now opened, to see the woman with her baby next to her. The group huddles behind them asking what happened, that’s when Felix explained that her life was extended so that she may successfully give birth and spend her final moments with her child. Another angel asks how that was possible. That’s when the mysterious man stands up from a chair and walks over to the woman, as Felix gestures slightly to him.
“Who is that?” asked one of the Angels.
“The only one who can alter life and death besides God and his Archangels,” Valentine remarked.
“That is the Grim Reaper himself,” Felix answered, “Death…The Fourth Horseman.”
As Felix spoke his name, Death turns to face them as they saw is true form, a skeleton in a hood with a scythe in hand. As death turns back around, he reaches for his pocket watch just as the woman kisses her child one last time whispering her final word to him as she closes her eyes. As soon as her eyes closed the unbearable sound of monitors beeping and flat lining returned as the husband woke up and broke down in tears realizing what is going on. As doctors came in to attempt to resuscitate the woman, it was silent. That was when a small orb of light appeared to come from the woman’s chest taking the shape of a little butterfly and floated off. Just as the woman’s soul flew off the doctors stopped and turned off the monitors leaving the room silent. That was when Death left the room, as he walked away that was when Felix began to tell to the group a very important thing to remember.
“As a Reaper, you are tasked with being the bringer of souls into the afterlife, and in doing so you will meet those who have done nothing but good, nothing but bad, and those that are in-between. There will be times where taking a soul seems challenging or impossible, and others where you can’t bring yourself to do it, but to everyone you are death. And as you have just witnessed before you, Death takes no pleasure in his job, but it is one that must be done.”
As Death is seen walking away from the hospital he notices a small butterfly floating around him. As it floats away into the sky, he gives a slight grin as he watches the butterfly while reminiscing on the compassion he witnessed from the young mother in the delivery room.
You’re probably wondering what’s going on here? Two odd looking guys in a car parked at the end of the road in the middle of the night. Well, it’s not what you think.
The thing is my buddy Sam and me, we’re detectives, with several other officers patrolling in different locations nearby. We’ve been put on security for a woman named Barbra Gordon. Yeah, I know what you’re going to say, “Isn’t she from the Batman comics?” Real funny, she’s actually-a star witness against her former boss, who’s aiding a drug cartel. For the time being, she’s been under police protection, but as it turns out, her boss worked really-close with this cartel. Which is why she will now be going into federal witness protection as of tomorrow.
“So Mikey, what type of action do you think we’ll see before she’s gone?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know Sam, maybe we’ll just keep sitting in the car and watching her house for a few more hours waiting for our replacements like we’ve been doing the past four days!” I said trying not to scream at Sam.
As Sam was going on about what kind of action he’ll see, I notice a light. Checking to see what was going on, I noticed it’s a car slowly creeping up the street. The thing that has me nervous the most about what is going on is that we didn’t hear anything on the radio about anything coming this way.
In a fit of panic, I get on the radio, “Attention all nearby units this is Guard Dog; spotted a suspicious vehicle slowly approaching the target, make and model unrecognizable. Over!” there is nothing.
“Who the hell are they?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know Sam, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the mailman.”
I try the radio again, “Attention all nearby units this is Guard Dog, I have eyes on a suspicious vehicle parked outside the target’s house; make and model unknown. The area is too dark, requesting immediate back-up to investigate. Over!” I try messing with the radio some more but all I get is static.
“Son of a bitch!” I toss the radio in the back of the car as I reach for my sidearm.
“What the hell Mike, why isn’t anyone responding?” Sam asked.
“The freaking radio’s jammed Sam,” I said.
“How the hell could the radio be jammed?” Sam asked as he reaches for his sidearm.
“I don’t know, but I have an idea who might be doing this,” I said pointing towards the house. At that moment, we see the car turn off with three men dressed in black coming out with rifles heading for the house. We check our weapons and get out of our car.
“So Mikey, what’s the plan here because from what I noticed, we’re shooting BB guns compared to their rifles?” Sam asked.
“Well, Sam, the radio’s jammed and I’m guessing cell phones are too, which means there’s no way to call for back-up, so I’m thinking we go and storm the place before they handle their business with Miss Gordon,” I said as we move towards the house.
“Mikey are you freaking nuts; they’ll overpower us easily!” Sam said as he tries to stop me.
“Well you’re the one who wanted some action Sam, so let’s go get some,” I said to Sam as we ready ourselves outside to kicked-in front door. “Alright Sam, when we go in you stay on my ass; got it.”
He gave me a thumbs-up, I count down, and we run in only to find ourselves in a fire fight with two of the three mysterious men. In the blink of an eye, everything’s over; we find Miss Gordon in the kitchen terrified and covered in blood. Wondering what happened to the third guy? We found him in the backyard; dead, after he tried to flee with a butcher’s knife in his chest. We take Miss Gordon straight to the hospital after that and into witness protection the next day. Just after she left I decide to take us back to the station.
“So Sam, how was it?” I asked.
“How was what?” Sam asked back.
“The action!” I said with exaggeration, “You’ve been going on about it, so what’d you think?
“What do you think?” Sam said as he shuts his eyes.
“Yeah, I feel you, buddy,” I said as he falls asleep.
You never really-know what you might experience in your life. Or how you’ll find love, like with me. Alexis Dorian, a 27-year-old who’s been working as a very successful producer at a California-based production company. It’s amazing what can happen to you when you work in the film industry.
For me it began around beginning of summer were the company I work for hires new college graduates into different departments. This year there was quite a lot of Fine Arts and Film graduates joining the company. Most of who are going into Film or Animation. Anyways, around the early part of June, my writing team and I were doing our usual meeting on a new project; when suddenly one of the new employees walked into the middle of the meeting thinking she was in the right place. We asked her what she was doing here and when she realized that she panicked and stumbled out the conference room and ran down the hall yelling sorry.
Out of curiosity I went after her and asked where she was heading, she told me she was heading to animation. That’s when I told her she was in the completely wrong building. It looked as if she was going to have a panic attack thinking she was going to be fired for being late again; so, I offered to help her get back to the animation department, it took a while, but we managed to get there. As soon as we did, however, her boss Mr. Lockwood; who’s an ass, by the way, started yelling at her for being late one too many times, because she was new to the company I felt a little sorry for her, so, I stepped in and lied to her boss for her.
“Look, Saul, it’s my fault,” I began explaining as I lied through my teeth, “I requested someone from the animation department because the writing team needed help with some stuff.” He immediately tried to call my lie, so I explained how she was sent by accident. He shrugged it off and told her to get to get to work. She thanked me in a shy behavior and shook my hand before heading to her station, that was when I left as quickly as I could and headed back to the meeting I abruptly ran out of.
Later that week I was sitting in my office with some of the project team. That was when we heard a knock on the door; the door opened to the girl from a few days ago, she walked up to me with an envelope in her hand. I asked what she wanted, “Well, hello again miss trouble maker, who do you need me to lie to this time?”
She walked up to me and quickly handed me the envelope, “This is for you, Ms. Dorian, ma’am.” I could clearly tell she was a nervous type of person simply by the way she walked, and by the way she gripped her bag close to her chest, as well as how she was too scared to keep eye contact with anyone; always looking slightly downwards. As I opened the letter read through it I started to understand why she was in my office.
“Do you know what this says?” I asked her.
“No ma’am, I was told to deliver the letter to you and to not look at it at all.”
“Uh-huh?” I handed her the paper, “here, why don’t you look for yourself?” As she started to read the letter; I signaled everyone to leave, as soon as she finished reading she looked up confused to see that everyone had left and I was sitting at my desk. “Do you know what the letter says, now?” I asked again.
That’s when she started to lose her composure, “Inter-view?” she shouted as she began to pace around, “I’m supposed to be working on my designs right now, I can’t be interviewing for you, not that I think you’re a bad person, I heard you’re a very respectable woman at the company and I like you because of that, but not in a romantic kind of way I mean we barely know each other, what I meant was-” I kept a straight face as she apologized and sat down, embarrassed and even more nervous than before. “May I ask something before we start, Ma’am?”
“You may?” I replied leaning back in my chair.
“What am I even interviewing for against my will?” She asked.
“According to this letter from your dick-head of a boss,” I said as I glanced at the paper for a quick look, “he recommended you to my boss to be my personal assistant and art liaison for the rest of my project.”
“What!” She screamed as she shot from her chair still holding her bag to her chest, “assistant! I’m your personal assistant now!” She began to yell out as she continued going on about the unsettling news, “I didn’t spend eight years of my life striving as an artist working my ass off through college getting an art degree just to be someone’s personal assistant!” She eventually calmed down again as we decided to go through with the interview knowing she couldn’t get out of it. It was there I found out quite a lot about her. Her name for starters, was Shelbie Leena Rose, she’s 24years old, graduated from the same college as me, has a degree in both Animation and Graphic Design, and she was very well qualified as an artist and was well respected in school.
After finally decided to submit to her unwilling temporary job change for the next six months as my assistant, we ended up working closely with each other, getting to know a little more about one another, personally. We became so close so quickly that we started going by first names not half way through the six months; instead of me addressing her as my assistant or as Ms. Rose, I started calling her Shelbie a lot more; and while she remained as her overly nervous self, she stopped calling me Ms. Dorian and Ma’am and started calling me Alex. It was weird at first, but it felt completely comfortable to the both of us soon enough.
Sadly, such as all good things, the time eventually came. By the middle of November, we wrapped on the whole project as Shelbie was getting ready to be relieved of her unwilling job transfer and head back to her real job in the animation department. But on the last day before she left completely I had a small talk with her, “So Shelbie, since this is all over and done with I have to ask. What did you think of everyone and everything, I mean besides being forced to work as my assistant even though I didn’t need one in the first place?”
“Oh, uh, well,” She seemed to be at a loss for words, “At first it was uncomfortable doing something I barely knew anything about, but as I watched you, I managed to pick things up pretty quickly, why?”
I was caught off guard with her question, “Oh uh, no reason at all, I-uh-I just wanted to make sure you never felt uncomfortable the whole time, that’s all.”
“Why’s that Alex?” She asked out of curiosity.
“Oh, well you know,” I began to speak without thinking clearly, “Since I’m your boss and kept an eye on you the whole time, I have yet to see you have any ‘interest’ in any of the men around here and after getting to know each other you’ve yet to mention any boyfriends, so I just got a little curious is all.”
“Oh, well the thing is,” She explained sounding even more nervous, “I not interested in them.”
“Well, I’m still looking for the right woman for me, it’s a shame it can’t be you; but you’re a very smart, attractive, young woman, I’m sure you’ll find the right man one day!” I replied.
“No, it’s not that,” She began to clarify, “I mean, I’m not ‘interested’ in men.”
“Oh?” I said to myself as I understood what she was getting at. As I looked at her I saw her face was red and she had an embarrassed look on her face. “Shelbie, is something wrong?”
She spoke softly, “Do you really think I’m attractive?”
I froze and blushed as red as can be after realizing what I said, “Uh, well I uh-” I tried to play it cool, but I clearly had no idea what I was doing so I decided to just come clean, “I do, I’ve thought that for a while Shelbie.” I could tell that she was not expecting that to come out my mouth at all, so she dropped her stuff in shock.
As I got down to pick it up, she was blushing even more. When I stood back up to give her back her stuff she stood there with her glasses half way down her nose and her eyes wide open. I tried asking her if she was ok, but in the middle of it all she interrupted me “Does that mean you ‘like’ me?” I froze, I was not expecting her to ask that.
We stood in the middle of my office, both of us too embarrassed to move. That was when one of the writers walked into the room to see me and Shelbie just staring at each other with our faces red with embarrassment. They coughed to draw attention from the awkwardness, “Uh, Alex, you alright?” We both snapped out of it to see they were in the room. Embarrassed, Shelbie panicked and grabbed her stuff and quickly rushed straight out the door.
“What’s wrong with her?” the writer asked.
“Nothing,” I replied standing in the middle of the room, “she just got some unexpected information is all.”
As the weeks went by I couldn’t stop thinking about Shelbie. I would try stopping by the animation department, but she was never around. I even tried having the animation department sent over someone to help with a project just to try and see her, but they would always send someone else, even if I requested her directly. I eventually saw her but she left before I could talk to her, it kept feeling like she was trying to avoid me because of what happened between us.
Eventually, months went by and I gave up on trying to see Shelbie again, so in order to move on, I started to focus more on my work. Then I decided to start interviewing for new assistants. Interview after interview, they were all the same, it was going nowhere and I started to feel like I was wasting my time. It all lead down to the end of February, and I’ve been interviewing for an assistant the whole week but got nowhere with any of them. Eventually, it was Friday and I was ready to head home, but I had to stay later than usual to finish up some work I’ve been putting off. That was when I heard a knock at my door.
“If you’re here to interview for the P.A. position it ended at four in the afternoon, you can leave your resume on the table and wait to receive a call asking for a date next week,” I spoke without even looking up.
Then I heard someone speak nervously, “I’m not sure if I would qualify to be your assistant, I’m just an artist, but I wouldn’t mind you asking me for a date?”
I immediately recognized their voice, I stopped working and looked up to see Shelbie standing in the doorway. I wasn’t sure what to do at that point. Without a thinking, I stood up and walked in front of my desk her as she walked closer towards me.
“Shelbie what are you doing here?” I asked her confused. “I thought you’ve been avoiding me since what I said to you?”
“I wasn’t avoiding you, Alex, I promise, it’s just that,” she replied refusing to make proper eye contact, “I wasn’t sure what to do after our little talk and needed time to think about things.”
“Well, 4 months sure is a long time to think,” I said sounding negative towards her, “Why are you here then?” I asked hastily.
“To talk in private,” She replied as she closed the door and moved closer to me, “I needed time to think, but every time I tried to focus on my work I couldn’t stop thinking about you and what we said to each other.” She said as she came even closer. “When you said that I needed to think about what I mean to you and what you mean to me, and while I was doing that I needed to catch up on a lot of work so I couldn’t just come see you even if I wanted too.”
“And now I take it you’re all caught up?” I asked reaching for her other hand.
“Why would you want to know?” She asked me gripping my hands tighter.
“So we can continue where we left off,” I replied.
“The last thing I remember was you saying that you thought I was attractive,” She said as she began moving even closer to me, “Then there was something else right before I left, what was it?”
I began to speak, choking on my own words, “I was going to say that I have feelings for you.”
“Well, I have feelings for you too, Alex.” She answered in a shy tone.
“There was one more thing I was going to ask you,” I mentioned as she began to make eye contact.
“What was it?” she asked patiently.
“I was going to ask you if you’d like to go out with me?” I asked suddenly. Shelbie was clearly taken by surprise, but eventually, she smiled and answered me with a yes.
One week passed it was our date night. That Friday evening as I’m driving to Shelbie’s house, my stomach was filled with butterflies, my palms were sweating like crazy. I managed to make to her apartment in time without completely ruining my makeup. I knocked and waited a little while to see the door open and turned around to discover Shelbie, wearing a gorgeous sundress with a flower pattern and her hair in a messy yet adorable ponytail. Everything looks amazing on her, but something seemed off, that was when I looked at her eyes closely and realized she was wearing contacts. I stood there awestruck by her appearance that I haven’t spoken to her yet.
“Alex, are you alright,” She asked tried getting my attention, “Is something wrong with my dress?”
“Huh, what,” I came back to reality, “sorry, no, it’s just you look gorgeous!”
She began to blush as she was checking herself. She thanked me, as she brushed a strand of her hair aside as she complimented me as well. We headed to the car and left. We spent the beginning of the evening having dinner; you could tell things were awkward between us, so we decided to share more stories about ourselves; she told me the story about how she got a scar on her pinky, and I told her why everyone at the company called me James as an intern. Eventually, we left the restraint went for a walk in the park close by as we waited for the movie’s show time to get closer. We spent so much time in the park that we forgot about the movie entirely and just sat in the park.
“The stars look incredible, don’t they?” She said looking up at the night sky.
“Yes, you do,” I spoke without thinking. I blushed while she giggled and thanked me.
We talked some more as the night went on just lying in the grass until I saw Shelbie doing something in the corner of my eye, I got up to see her taking out a pin and letting her ginger red hair bounce as it reached down gently covering her shoulders. I never saw Shelbie like this before, she looked so beautiful that it felt as if my heart skipped a beat when I saw her, she began to talk, but I wasn’t paying that much attention. That was when I started no notice more about her, and she then she noticed and stopped taking. As we leaned in closer; we could tell the other was nervous, her cheeks blushed; as they always do, and her eyes became larger the closer we got. I couldn’t stop staring at her lips. We were as still as can be staring into each other’s eyes.
“Alex are you alright-” as she spoke I went for a kiss. We held ourselves there for a moment before we separated. She was blushing even harder than I was.
I tried to apologize for myself, but she froze yet again, “Shelbie are you okay?” I asked to see if she was fine.
“Alex, did you just kiss me?” She asked in a quiet tone.
“I’m so sorry Shelbie, I couldn’t control myself, I-” She reached for my hand as I spoke.
“It’s fine Alex,” She giggled as she moved herself closer to me, “I just wasn’t expecting you to do that first.”
“What do you mean expecting that first?” I asked myself as she rested her head on my chest. Moments later I realized what she meant, “Shelbie” as I said her name, she slowly lifted her head up to mine as I spoke to her, “I love you.” Her face lit up with compassion as she whispered to me, “I love you.” We closed our eyes and at the same time kissed each other, embracing every single moment. And from that moment we knew the two of us would always remember our first date.
It was a normal Tuesday night as Brian was at his house, flipping through TV channels until he landed on a local news station. He noticed that they were talking about a local UFO sighting and decided to continue watching out of both, curiosity and because there was nothing else on to watch. The story continued for the next few days with interviews of a bunch of people from some random town in the middle of nowhere who were going on and on about a bright blue flashing orb high in the sky that flew by. Brian didn’t realize it then, but he was starting to become obsessed. Several days had passed and it was clear that Brian was caught up in the so-called conspiracy. That was until his older brother/roommate, Marcus, had just come home from a business trip. It wasn’t until the next week when his older brother and roommate Marcus came back from a business trip only to find out what his younger brother was up to.
“Brian I’m home, are you here?” said Marcus as he entered the house. He kept calling Brian’s name with no response, and after a quick search of the house downstairs he ended up at Brian’s room. He opened the door only to notice that his brother was sitting at his desk with the lights off not knowing he was researching UFO sightings on his computer while watching more of the news coverage of the UFO sightings. “Brian?” he kept trying to get his attention, but was getting more annoyed, “Brian!” With no response, he decided to flicker the lights to see if that would work.
Brian clearly noticed the lights as he turned around to see his older brother still in his work suit standing at the doorway with his right hand on the light switch, a smug look on his face. He gave Marcus a quick “Yeah?” but received an insulting “I’m home!” from Marcus in return. Marcus questioned Brian about why he was up so late, followed by his work schedule in the morning.
“What are you even doing up this late; you know it’s almost two in the morning, don’t you have work tomorrow?” Marcus asked in a frustrated tone.
Brian replies to his brother with a similar tone as he turns back to his computer screen, stating that he was given the week off. Curious to why Brian’s boss gave him a week off, Marcus asked him why but didn’t get an answer. Marcus decides to go ahead and ask Brian why he was up at two in the morning. He responds with a simple “research” and nothing else as he tries to put his headphones back on.
“What?” Brian said as he turned back to his computer screen. “No, my boss gave me the week off.”
“Well, then what are you up so late for?” asked Marcus, sounding like a broken record.
“I’m doing some research on something,” said Brian.
“You’re a forensic scientist, all you do is research for the police and Fed’s, you’re going to have to be more specific.” “Doesn’t a forensic scientist like you do enough research as it is?” asked Marcus, “What are you researching anyways?” Marcus asked as he took his headphones away from him and unplugged them from the computer.
Brian turned around letting out a sigh and rolling his eyes as he pointed at the TV before turning back to the computer as he continued looking at the computer screen. Marcus noticed the DVR recording of last weeks’ news coverage about the local UFO sightings. Dumbstruck, Marcus couldn’t believe what was going on. Furious at his brother’s excuse for a hobby he asks him why he’s doing it questioning his stupidity in
“Are you freaking kidding me, Brian!” Marcus asked, “Don’t tell me you’re caught up in all this ridiculous alien conspiracy bull crap like those crazy people in tinfoil hats camping out at crop circles.”
Brian took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, “I’m not Marcus, I’m just doing research.” he said in a low exhausted voice.
“Ok then, Brian, how long have you been at this ‘‘research’’ of yours?” Marcus asked frustrated at his brother.
“Ever since the story started,” Brian said answered.
“Which was when exactly?” Marcus asked again.
“Around the beginning of last week since the 19th?” Brian said replied unsure of how long he’s been occupied with it.
“The 19th, beginning of last week?” Marcus restated, “You’ve have been at this for almost two weeks!”
After realizing the amount of time his brother has been wasting away, Marcus started to lose his temper. Before his big brother Marcus lost it and started yelling at him, Brian tells Marcus to sit down on the bed while he tries to explain what it was he was doing.
As Brian began, he explained that as he started to watch more and more of the news story on the UFO sightings in that area of Washington, he started to get a little curious about those sightings. He explained that in other reported UFO sightings over the years everyone that was interviewed either said the same generic thing about the UFO or something farfetched just to get the attention of the news, but with this sighting something was odd. Everyone that was interviewed said the same type of thing about what they saw.
“I still don’t get it,” Marcus said still confused about all of this, Marcus asked Brian what he was going on about.
“What’s not to get?” asked Brian.
“Um, everything that just came out of your mouth!” Marcus answered in a facetious manner.
Disappointed in his older brother, Brian asked him if he was listening. Marcus gives him a “yes” but it’s clear he either still has no clue or doesn’t care. So, in order to try and help Marcus understand he tell him again.
“Okay?” Marcus said in confusion, “What are you getting at?”
“Were you even listening to me Marcus?” asked Brian in frustration.
“Yes I was Brian,” Marcus said, “But-”
“But?” Brian asked.
“I still don’t get it,” said Marcus in confusion.
“What’s not to get?” asked Brian.
Brian explains again once more that there was something odd about the interviews; about how that everyone gave the same type of description. “A bright blue flashing orb just flies by across the night sky, and everyone sees it clear as day. That can’t be right; it just seems too organized!”
“Okay, you know what Brian, now you’re starting to sound crazy.” said Marcus.
“In what way?” asked Brian frustrated at his older brother.
“Saying that this is all of this is just some big hoax and that the town it’s happening in is behind it.” said Marcus.
“But what if it is, none of this makes any sense, I mean how could a whole town see the same exact thing at the same time?” Brian asked in frustration.
“I don’t know, Brian?” said replied Marcus. As he got up to leave the room he looked back at Brian sitting at his desk, “Maybe it was aliens?”
The Big Cheese
August was probably the month nobody wished would arrive with it being the month dozens of new employees come in seeking good positions at Providence Inc., it puts everyone on edge, especially since it hasn’t been a great year for the company. With dozens of layoffs, it seemed like anyone who worked there for more than a few years; that didn’t have a corner office, was at risk of losing something, including me. My name is Daniel Martinez; I’ve been working for Providence Inc. for almost 15 years longer than everyone that’s in my department. Everyone else has either quit out of fear from being laid off or has been already.
However, today was not a great day for me, I was told the week before that I had a very important meeting with the board about my position at Providence, and after hearing that from my department head I was terrified. All my old co-workers were told the same thing before they were fired or quit. I was too nervous to tell my own wife because I was worried she’d panic, but today’s the day and I can’t help but worry for my own sake at the company.
The past week all I had running through my head was what the meeting was about. For hours, I sat in my office holding back the urge to break down out of fear of what’s really going to happen to me. I looked at my clock; it was 3:26pm, my meeting was at 4:00pm, I sat in my office for another half hour terrified of what was going to happen. As soon as the clock struck 3:50pm my desk phone rang, I was too distracted staring off into space from nerves that it rang for almost a minute until the employee sitting outside my office came in.
“Mr. Martinez, sir?” George said knocking on my door. I was still zoned out. That’s when George knocked again and spoke louder, “Mr. Martinez, sir, it’s me George!”
I eventually snapped out of my daze, “Terribly sorry son, I was distracted by something, what is it?” I said trying to hide my nervous behavior.
“Well, sir, I got a call from the board saying they’re waiting for you in the 12th-floor conference room.” He said stepping in the room a little bit.
I had a slight look of confusion, I looked at my clock and was shocked to find out it was 4:13pm, “Damn it, I’m late! Thank you, George.” As soon as I saw the time I rushed to the 5th-floor elevator and made my way up to the conference room.
Once I got to the conference room I told the secretary I had arrived and she led me to the room where all 10 board members were waiting at a long 20-person table. I was still nervous, but I wasn’t shaking for some reason. I sat down and we began after an hour of them discussing my work performance from the past 15 years I felt like they were congratulating me on making it so far. That was until the head of the company, Mr. Lockhart, stood up and walked straight to me. That was the moment I felt like he was going to say the words I’ve been terrified of, “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go.”
As he handed me a small pile of papers he spoke to me, “Daniel,” he said as he also took out a fountain pen that looked like it cost a fortune, “We need someone on the board who can take charge of projects and get shit done around here.”
I was confused as to what he was saying, so I politely asked what he was talking about.
“It’s simple son,” he replied as he handed me the pen, “we would like you to be on the board as our new head of foreign affairs.”
As he finished speaking it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
“Are you sure about this, sir?” I asked reassuring his choice.
“Of course we are Daniel, that’s why we asked you to come to this meeting.” He replied grabbing my shoulder trying to comfort me.
I stared at the papers in front of me as I looked back at the past week and what I went through. I had nothing to worry about this whole time.
Mr. Lockhart spoke to break the silence, “So son, what do you say?”
I sat still for a second as he moved the pen closer to me, that was when I picked it up and went through the papers signing and initialing. I put the pen down and stood up to shake Mr. Lockhart’s hand, “I say, it seems like you have a new board member, Jim.”
Luis Herrera currently lives in Texas as a Creative Writing student at Full Sail University. With many projects in the works, he is striving to find his own path in the Entertainment Industry. In his free time, he likes to take it easy and spend time with friends and family as much as he can or indulge in his many hobbies. Other known publications include “Tests Aren’t the Only Things with Difficult Choices” in Down in the Dirt Magazine.
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Acceptance: A Collection of Short Stories by Luis Herrera, is a compilation of five short stories/flash fiction pieces involving different themes and genres each from Slice of Life, to mythological, to Suspense. "Acceptance," tells the fictional story of a group of Reapers in their final lessons at a hospital before they are ready to go out into the world taking the souls of the deceased into the afterlife, but while things appear to be normal, a series of strange coincidences appear to be happening around them. Could something be following them, or perhaps it might be someone? "Stake Out" takes place one night outside a city were two undercover cops are watching over a safe house and a very important witness that could help bring down a dangerous crime mob. Will the night go smoothly, or will the two cops be in for a long night? "First Date" is a small telling of a young woman named Alex who made a name for herself while working in a Hollywood Production Company. After a new group of college graduates was brought into the company, one small misunderstanding later has the one of the new animator, Shelbie, working with Alex during a whole film project. After months growing closer and getting to know each other, the two begin to see each other in a new perspective. If you've ever wondered for the truth, then you've felt curious. "Curiosity," tells the short story of a young man pondering the existence of life beyond Earth, that is until his brother comes home and soon discovers what he's been up to for the past week. Will it go well, or will his brother tell mom? "The Big Cheese" puts you in the perspective of Daniel Martinez, a senior employee at a very large corporation, which had just laid off a large portion of its senior employees. While Daniel has already been stressed as it is losing his coworkers to new employees and being stuck with extra work, he's eventually told one day that he has a meeting with the company's board of directors. Could this be a life saver for Daniel's career, or could it be the end of everything?