Morning Coffee and Some Short Stories
by Shayna Roberts
Table of Contents
Jeff Myers, a journalist from Boston, trudged through the snow. The small town was quiet. Jeff pulled his jacket tighter and walked into a mom-and-pop coffee shop called “Sippin’ Hot.”
An elderly woman of sixty-eight years of age greeted Jeff. “Why hello, Mister, and welcome to Sippin’ Hot. What can I get you?”
“I’ll just have a cup of coffee.”
“Comin’ right up. It’ll be $1.97.”
An older gentleman brewed the coffee behind the woman. Jeff paid the woman. “So, what can you tell me about the cabin by the lake?”
The man and woman hesitated. “Why, young man, that place is haunted, it is.”
The man handed a to-go cup of coffee to Jeff. “Boy, we will have nothing to do with that satan-worshiping hell-hole. I don’t mean to be rude, but please get out.”
Jeff took the cup and walked out of the coffee house. The wind pierced through his jacket, sending a shiver down his spine. Another man walked out right behind him. He wore black shades and a walking stick.
“Don’t mind them,” the man with shades said. “Old folks, and well, everyone around here are superstitious about that cabin.”
Jeff faced the man. “Do you know any history about the cabin? Why do people believe it’s haunted?” Jeff pulled out a pen and pad.
“No one’s lived in that cabin for many, many years. Teenagers have stepped foot in there because of dares and boast about surviving the cabin. Cowards, I say. They go in during the day. At night is when things are chilling.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Terrifying to see a light coming from the house. Electric company doesn’t work in that house anymore. Not sure what it could be.”
Candles, thought Jeff.
“And what happens to people that go in when there is a light?”
“They die. Eyes are always gouged out. Freaks me out.” The man said. He tipped his hat and left Jeff in the cold.
The sun set, and Jeff made his way up the mountain until his phone dinged, “You have arrived.”
The snow was thicker on the mountain, and the night was colder, but something else sent a shiver down his spine: light came from one room in the cabin.
Jeff pulled out his night camera, and quietly made his way into the cabin. The inside was quaint and dusty, but at one point in history, it would have been called home. His eyes were focused on the cracked room. Opera music protruded from it. He inched forward and peeked inside.
A man stood erect with a giant grin on his face. His eyes were a piercing blue, and they focused clearly on Jeff. “I was hoping you’d come,” he said.
The man pounced on Jeff, astoundingly strong for his smaller frame. He dragged a reluctant Jeff to a table and forced him down as he tied his limbs. The man wore black gloves. A set of shaded glasses sat next to candles and a phone playing opera music.
In His Scope
He pulled the car to a stop. The man had black and white peppered hair with a thin beard. He turned off the engine and opened the door. The cold night air hit his face. He gave a shiver.
He wore an army uniform with matching cap. His nametag read Waters. His shoulder patch signified that he was a Sergeant First Class.
He exhaled, and his breath swirled in the air.
His house was similar to the others on the dark street. Red brick, two stories, and a long front porch. His lawn was over grown compared to the other houses. He passed by his mailbox. Mail poked out of the lid.
I’ll deal with it in the morning.
He unlocked the door and entered. It was cold inside as it was outside. He adjusted the thermostat first. IT glowed in the dark house and the numbers showed fifty-one degrees. Another shiver.
He put the heat all the way up to seventy, and made his way to the living room. He paused when a letter came into view. He picked it up and opened it.
I hope you can forgive me, but this is too hard. I’m taking Anna with me. I left the furniture, but took the kitchen appliances. It’s not like you ever cooked. I’m sorry. Don’t try to find us.
He glanced to a photograph in a frame. James stood next to a woman with redish-brown hair. She had a beautiful smile. A little girl of ten stood in front of them. Her fiery red hair was hard to miss. Freckles covered her exposed skin. She had a smile.
He rubbed his thumb, not over his wife, but over the image of the little girl. He flipped it face down, grabbed several throws off the couch, and went upstairs.
He lied down and slowly fell into a slumber.
James peered through his scope. He saw a grim, brown haired man talking above many dark skinned people.
We need him dead, Waters. It can save our country.
The man looked up into James’ scope. He pulled the trigger. Blood spewed. People gasped. Chaos enveloped the crowd.
James shot up out of bed with beads of sweat dripping down his brow. His heart beat out of control. His skin was boiling, but hands and feet felt cold. His breath was raspy, and his throat tightened. His hands trembled.
His breathing calmed and throat loosened. The cold air of the house cooled his body, but his hands still trembled.
He reached over the bed for his wife’s hand, but there was no one. He turned back over, curled his body close together, and pulled the blankets over him to block out the light of the moon.
The next morning, James looked at the various dogs. They were all German Shepherds but there was only one black one.
“I want him,” he said with a hoarse voice.
“Good choice, sir. His name’s Avik.” The man let the black dog out of his cage, and he immediately rubbed against James’ leg. James stiffened. “I’ll need you to fill out some paperwork in here.”
The man led James into another room with Avik trailing close behind him.
“How much is he?”
The man smiled. “Here at Dogs 4 Warriors, we believe our soldiers to have these dogs for free.”
James gave a grim smile. “Nothing is truly free.”
“Well, you’re right. Your cost was serving our country.”
James’ smile faltered.
James and the dog travelled back to his house, and James didn’t leave for several days.
He and Avik sat in a small coffee shop in the city. Avik was by James feet lying on the floor. His ears flicked around at the clinks in the shop.
James glanced up from his book.
A man sat across the shop with two cups. He kept glancing around to the door, but was disappointed each time.
Two girls sat to his left, a blonde and brunette. The brunette wore short shorts with leggings and a low top.
“Girl, what’s he like?” Asked the blonde.
“Smart and funny,” giggled the brunette. “We’re going on our third date tonight.”
James noticed the wedding band on her ring finger.
“You think John will find out?”
“Please,” scoffed the brunette, “he worships me pretty much. If he ever did, he’d ask for us to work it out. It’ll all be fine.” Another laugh.
A woman sat at the table right of James near the window. She had a book in her hand, and a coffee in the other.
He blinked out of his trance and focused on the woman in front of him. She was in her late teens, and wore an apron with the coffee shop’s logo.
“When did you get back?”
She beamed. “And who’s this?”
“He’s a service dog. Avik.” The dog perked up and looked at James.
“Did you finally go to Dogs 4 Warriors?”
He gave a smile. “Yeah.”
“And is he, y’know, helping?”
“Yeah,” said James weakly.
She nodded. “Good. That’s good. Are you wanting your regular?”
She walked behind the counter.
James looked to the Television. The news was on, but something about the reporter was different. His face meshed into a blob and took the form of a familiar face.
It was the grim, brown haired man.
We need him dead, Waters.
A scope encased the grim man’s face. His eyes were unmoving as he glared back at James. The face shifted to a new face that had a scar going down his eye.
James’ hand trembled. His breath changed, but no one in the café noticed how short and raspy it became. His body went hot, but hands cold. His mouth dried, and water filled his eyes.
Avik slipped his head under James’ trembling hand with a whimper. He licked the other hand.
James’ heart slowed and his breathing calmed. “Good boy.” He patted Avik’s head.
The day was cool against Ky’s skin. The sun set beyond the mountains, causing yellows and oranges to spread across the sky. Ren sat next to Ky. They were both fifteen, and their birthdays were merely one week apart.
Ky released a long sigh. “They’re going to notice we’ve been gone past curfew.”
“Just a few more minutes.”
Even with Ky’s birthday tomorrow, he frowned. “It can’t prevent the inevitable.”
“I know,” Ren said.
Ky had dark brown hair coupled with piercing blue eyes. Ren had black hair and brown eyes.
Ky stood off the ground and offered a hand to Ren. He took it, and they stole one last glance at the scenery. Shadows grew from the great oaks standing in the valley below. The leaves and grass blew gently in the wind.
Behind them, the city of Boston lied in ruins. Rubble lay everywhere on the street as the two past the entrance to the city. They walked around the perimeter until they found a large orphanage with the lights completely out.
“Think we’ll still find a bed?” asked Ren.
Ky shrugged. “We’re used to sleeping on the ground by now.”
They entered slowly and quietly. Everyone was asleep, and in fact, all the beds were occupied. Ky grabbed two spare blankets and offered one to Ren. They lied on the floor, and it took Ky almost an hour to fall asleep.
Ky felt a gentle nudge against his shoulder. “Come now, then. Wake up.” His eyes slowly opened to find an elderly woman, Naomi, shaking him tenderly. He sat up off the floor groggily. She brushed his hair without asking, and he didn’t object. He released a wide yawn.
“Happy birthday, dear.” She handed him a small portion of a birthday cake. He stared at it. He’d always wanted to know what cake tasted like, but he wasn’t happy about seeing it. “We’ll leave in about an hour for your Choosing Ceremony, dear. Go on, eat.”
She left his side to tend to the other children. Younger kids, between three and ten, lied on beds, while teenagers occupied the floor. Ren wiggled near Ky, finally waking up. Ren released a yawn and looked to his friend with a wide smile.
Ky smiled in return. Ren’s black hair poofed in every direction. After many years with the young man, Ky knew Ren’s mane wasn’t easy to tame.
“Happy birthday, man!” Ren slapped Ky on the back. “Why haven’t you tasted your little portion of heaven yet?”
Ky frowned. “Because I know what comes after.”
Ren cleared his throat. “Well… yeah, but enjoy it while you can, y’know?”
Ky smiled and broke his cake in half. He handed one half to Ren. “Thanks for everything.”
“Whatever, man. If you’re sure?” Ren offered to give it back to Ky, but Ky resisted. They both took giant bites out of the pieces. They both moaned over the flavors overtaking their mouths.
“Nothing’s ever tasted so good,” Ren said.
Ky showered and dressed after eating the cake. He hugged Ren and stepped outside with Naomi. They waited outside for five minutes, glaring into the rubble of Boston. Ky started as an emerald green vehicle drove up to the end of their road.
His heart beat loud within his ears. His palms felt sweaty. The emerald car stopped in front of the two. The back window rolled down to show a man in his fifties with white hair. He didn’t look to up to Ky or Naomi. He held up a clipboard.
“Let’s see… Ky McQuinn?” he asked. He looked out to the young boy standing before him. Ky nodded. “And your sixteenth birthday lands on September 18, 2044, today, correct?”
Ky nodded again.
“If you are found to be a substitution, you will both be hunted down and executed, due to the Registration Act. Shall we proceed?”
“Hold out your left arm.”
Ky did as he was told. The man took out a scanner and flashed it at his left arm. A tingly sensation spread through his arm as the man pulled the scanner away. The data downloaded to the scanner. With a satisfied nod, the man opened the door and scooted over to the other seat.
Ky got in the car. Naomi snuck a quick hug. He closed the door, and they drove off as Naomi waved at them. Ky’s attention flashed to the orphanage’s doors as Ren used both arms to wave goodbye to Ky.
The car took him past the green fields and flowing trees, until it finally stopped on the other side of Boston. A giant building stood before him. The man led Ky inside where a blonde woman was. There were two boys and one girl were with her, all sixteen.
“Ah, yes,” she said. “You must be Ky McQuinn?” She wore glasses and stood erect and poised.
“Yes,” he said.
“Then you are the last one. Thank you, Jeremy.” The man behind Ky nodded once and exited through a door. “Come, this way children.” She walked in high heels through another door.
Ky looked to the other children, who all looked awkwardly back. He followed after her first. They travelled through a long hall. The woman’s high heels echoed loudly through the hall. They reached a giant, dark room at the end of the hall.
They walked to the middle of the room. A spherical machine was in front of them. The woman looked to where they entered. There were four councilmen sitting in chairs and behind a glass barrier.
“Now is the time of the Choosing,” said the woman beside Ky. “You will each walk forward and be given your destination by the Council. Resistance will be met by execution as stated by the Registration Act of 2036. First is Biggins, Riley.”
The taller of the boys stood up straighter and took two steps forward. The Councilmen murmured among themselves for several seconds. Then, they all nodded inunison.
The only woman among the Council rose. She was plump and short. “The Council has decided that Riley Biggins will be relocated to the planet Xeron in the Second Quadrant.”
Riley gulped. A flash of light entered the room. They all turned to see the machine spinning. It slowed and revealed a portal. The image in the portal showed several men on the other side, awaiting the arrival of the boy.
“Well, go on,” the woman next to Ky said.
Riley passed through the portal with ease, and as quickly as the portal appeared, it vanished.
The girl in the group stepped forward. Ky now noticed the councilmen observing an electronic device. They studied her longer than Riley, but the plump woman rose again. “The Council has decided that Emily Kane will be relocated to the planet Weshab in the Third Quadrant.”
Again, the machine whirled, revealing another set of humans on the other side. She passed through the same as Riley, and the portal vanished.
Ky’s hands became sweaty.
Kas did the same as the previous two. He held himself higher with his chin held up. Even before Kas finished walking, the councilmen were nodding to one another with smiles. The plump woman didn’t stand this time. “The Council has decided that Kas Lile will be relocated to the planet Ryth in the First Quadrant.”
Kas walked to the machine as it whirled. He glanced at Ky and winked. Ky simply blinked. He passed through without difficulites.
Ky moved forward slowly. The Council observed for several seconds before conversing amongst themselves. They kept pointing at the monitor in front of them and casting weary glances at the young man.
Ky’s back felt sweaty. It had been much longer for him than it had been for the prior three. Nearly five minutes passed. The woman near him waited patiently with her hands behind her back.
The plump woman finally rose. She cleared her throat. “The Council has decided that Ky McQuinn will be relocated to the planet Valcray in the Tenth Quadrant.”
The woman next to him spoke, “Valcray, Council? But wasn’t the planet deemed uninhabitable due to the death toll.”
“It was never passed, and our orders are to send him to the Tenth Quadrant, Lila.” The portal whirled to life behind Ky. “Now, go ahead McQuinn.”
He turned. The portal was blurry compared to the others. He hesitantly made his way to it. He stole one glance back, and the woman who had a stern face before, appeared worried. He took a deep breath and passed through.
His stomach twisted as he lurched forward. He was in a dark room, but now, he was on his knees in the sand under a bright, harsh sun. He tried to stand, but his legs were jelly and he remained in the sand. Air wouldn’t go through his lungs. He gasped and gasped, but nothing.
A man of twenty rushed over to him holding a machine with a mask. He placed it over Ky’s mouth, and air passed through his lungs greedily.
“Deep breaths!” the man said as he mimicked deep breathing. “My name’s Jeff,” he said encouragingly. He took away the precious air, and Ky found himself struggling again. Air passed through his lungs at least. Jeff placed the mask over his mouth and nose again.
Ky’s breathing came easier. The man would give him the air from the mask and take away. Slowly, Ky’s lungs were handling the thin air of Valcray.
“So we got one this time around,” came a gruff voice behind Ky. Jeff jerked off the ground and saluted.
“New boy from planet Earth, sir.”
Ky stood up and faced the man. He frowned. The man before him was older, probably in his late fifties. He had toned muscles on his body coupled with two visible tattoos. His hair was shoulder length and pepper-gray.
“General Crimley,” he held out his hand to Ky.
“Ky McQuinn, sir.” He shook the General’s hand.
General Crimley smirked, “Welcome to hell.”
About the Author
When she first began my college education in film school, she had high hopes of becoming a cinematographer and editor. Nothing was going to get in her way. No one could tell her otherwise. She was her own person, making her own adult decisions. Four months passed and a screenwriting class popped in her schedule. Not even a year afterwards, she transferred schools and switched her major to Creative Writing.
Cold Cabin. Jeff hears of people disappearing in a small town and decides to investigate. All of his findings lead him to a cabin in the mountains. In His Scope. After returning from the war, James battles with depression, loneliness, and his PTSD. He finds himself adopting a furry friend trained to help with PTSD. Valcray. Set in the future, Ky and Ren spend their last day together while exploring the dying earth. On the day of Ky’s sixteenth birthday, he is placed in front of council members to determine his future.