Many thanks to Connie Phlipot and Jonathan Pickering for their contributions this week. We hope you enjoy reading their creative writing that came out of the Sunday writing sessions. And you are very welcome to leave a comment or share.

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

Five things you didn’t know about autumn

By Connie Phlipot

Prompt: Five things you didn’t know about autumn (starting with a “fresh” opening).

Small words in whispered breathes, like tiny fairies babbling.  They talked, running about along the veins of the leaves until they disappeared, covered by an orange leaf and then a brown, red, gold one until the voices got quieter and quieter, then silent, completely smothered by the piles of leaves.

The school building took a step.  A small sideways movement away from the playground.  The approaching children didn’t notice.  They entered as usual, dragging muddy boots along the corridor.  Then the school took  a grand movement forward.  The children tumbled, heads hitting the hard surface of the black and white tiled floor.  They rolled out the front door, down the old granite steps and stopped at the sidewalk as the yellow school bus yawned to a stop.  The school building shifted its weight side to side, then slammed its doors.  The children remained, curled like hedgehogs along the sidewalk.

A white fluffy cumulus cloud and a dark, brooding cloud held hands tightly, puffs of gases mingling above them created a light grey halo.  They stepped onto the condensation trail of a jet.  It moved fast, faster than they had ever traveled, even during the most ferocious winter storms over the gulf. Tightly they held on to each other until their moisture became one — one huge, feathery cloud the color of life.  As one they rode along the tail of the jet to an unknown where.  Small, tiny puffs of clouds joined them, clambering on the back of the united cloud.

The king of the fungus, the prized boletus, slowly turned the pages of the book, each page of tiny coded script on leaf-green background.  At first he read to himself, then gaining confidence he began to read aloud.  The Avenging Angel turned her white bonnet up, exposing her darkly grimacing gills.  She laughed a wicked piercing laugh that quivered the cyprus trees’ feathering needles.  Boletus stopped, mid-leaf.  “Why? Why laugh?” The deadly beauty became quiet and tipped her bonnet downward.  Boletus resumed, reading in a a richly velvet voice like cream soup.  The trees began to sway and pulled the tiny ends of their roots toward their cores.  Their leaves faded into a dull nondescript color, drooped and fell, covering up the assembled mushrooms.  Boletus stopped, bowed forward and snuggled into the carpet of leaves.

The wind picked up a branch and raised it above his head; down and up, ten repetitions in all.  The rain squatted again and again — it was a champion at this — bending and straightening until the droplets became hard and turned to hail.  In its new form, the rain jumped, down, down, aiming at the houses and cars, improving its accuracy, breaking windshields.  Meanwhile, the lightening lay on its side, lifted its legs, sparks flying as it grunted with each exertion.  And the thunder ran in place, growling with the tedium of its repetition. 

About Connie Phlipot

Connie is a retired U.S. diplomat, who has recently completed a novel based on her grandparents emigration from what is now Belarus.  She is now working on a novel or linked short stories focused on her fascination with Central and Eastern Europe. 

Photo by Brandon Holmes on Unsplash

Night Shift

By Jonathan Pickering

Prompt: Secrets on the fifth.

The hospital was deserted each night during my shift, the staff and out-patients long gone after yet another grueling day. There was nothing more disturbing than empty hospital wards at night. And here I was, the only living soul left in the dark, shadowy place.

Working the night shift had its perks, to be sure; a few patrols of the building were spaced out by sitting in the staff lounge watching movies or reading to my heart’s content. Still, I deserved the perks for walking alone through this deserted house of pain.

While waiting as the lift ascended to the seventh floor, I stared at the control panel, as I did every shift. Three. Four. Six. It was always the same. There was a fifth floor – I passed its nondescript entrance as I made my way back down the stairwell during my patrols – but the lift did not stop there and the door was always locked.

When I started working here several months ago, my predecessor’s sudden resignation and subsequent disappearance causing the management a serious headache, I was told the fifth floor was private property and not part of the hospital at all, therefore it was not part of my rounds, nor was I permitted to go there. Not that I could because the door was always locked and my master key did not open it – I had tried, of course. And so the fifth floor remained a mystery to me. I hated mysteries.

My patrol of the upper floors had been uneventful, as it always was. The administration offices dominated those floors and administrators hated anything being out of place. They were obsessed with order, much to the annoyance of the senior medical staff who, quite frankly, thrived on chaos.

I slowly made my way back down the main stairs, whistling my favourite tune as I swung my torch back and forth. I stuttered to a halt and fell silent, however, when I reached the fifth-floor landing. The door, the always locked door, was open. It was never open!

Some foolish doctor, I thought. It always amazed me how careless doctors could be with security. It was an annoyance to them, something management created to make their lives more difficult. I could write a book on the things I had seen at this hospital.

Moving forward, I wrapped my torch against the metal framed door. “Hello?”, I called out as the knock echoed throughout the stairwell. There was no answer.

I was torn. Did I go in? Or did I just close the door and pretend nothing happened? Damn, I hated mysteries, they were my catnip! Frustrated that I could not just walk away, I pushed the heavy door open further and stepped into the unknown.

The lights blinded me for a moment as they burst into life, illuminating the corridor around me and causing searing pain behind my eyes. Stumbling forward, I lost my grip on the door and it swung closed with an ominous click. Spinning around, I grabbed the handle and pulled as hard as I could. Nothing happened. Fear and anxiety coursed through me as realisation struck; I could not open the door from this side. I was trapped.

Turning about, I studied my surroundings. Everything was white, sterile. There was nothing here except an empty corridor leading around a corner. With no other choice, I crept forward in trepidation, beads of sweat forming on my brow. My job, I thought, was toast. I would soon learn, however, my job would be the least of my fears.

A repetitive beeping noise grew louder as I moved forward. My own heartbeat increased as I drew nearer, echoing painfully in my ears. Around the corner the corridor ended abruptly, with only a single heavy iron door, bolted from the outside. The beeping came from within.

I didn’t know what to do. The door to the stairs was locked behind me and no other corridors or doors existed. There were no other choices. Anxious as hell, I took a deep breath and slid the bolts free with shaking hands and opened the door, the metal screeching loudly in protest.

There was a single hospital bed in the bright, white room. A heart monitor stood next to it, beeping away, almost in time with my own accelerated heartbeat. My mouth dry as ashes, I hesitantly approached the bed.

A man lay there, eyes closed as though sleeping. I stared at this man before me, horror and confusion seizing my mind in a vice-like grip. Dark curly hair, crooked nose, and a scar across the left cheek. Oh I knew those features well. They were my own.

As I stood frozen, staring at my truly unnerving doppelganger, his eyes opened. His black, hungry, hate-filled eyes. Bolting upright, he snarled at me, displaying jagged teeth and a forked, snakelike tongue.

Panic setting in, I turned and fled, running as fast as I could back through that barren, lifeless corridor. The lights went out, leaving me in total darkness. Fumbling with my torch, I stumbled desperately onward. Terror and hopelessness gripped me then. The door to the stairs was still locked. And someone was laughing.

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