Hauntr

It started with the little things.

None of them realized how bad it would get. None of them understood the gravity of their offence. But that wasn’t because they weren’t smart.

On the contrary, every employee at the mobile app startup known as Jumpr was very smart. There were six members of the team in all, typically hunched in front of one or more computer monitors typing on wireless keypads. These were the technological elite, coding away in a Gastown brick building with hardwood floors, a meeting room with a donated leather couch and an unimpressive if functional kitchen island. Continue reading

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And We Dance

In 1985, my first girlfriend Cara died down at Bascombe Park in the old gazebo.  Then, almost thirty years later, I walked down there again. And there Cara was, smiling at me as if nothing had happened.

The haunted gazebo

adapted from an original image by brep

We were sixteen when we first met at a dance that they threw at the community center downtown. It was like something clicked inside my head when I first saw her. That was it. It was love. And everyone knew it, too. We were one of those couples. Near the end of high school we were still together, still in love in a way that only people that young can be.

It was the night before our school formal, with graduation looming, Cara had been accepted into Harvard, I got into MIT and we were both going to move to Boston. There’d been a party, and we slipped out. We fled to Bascombe Park and to our favourite place, the old gazebo. That’s where it all ended. And where it all began again years later. Continue reading

Drowning In Metaphor

Assignment: “Against All Odds”

 Now, this is a theme to be found in a lot of heroic tales from Beowulf to The Expendables.  But, I wondered about how this theme plays out in the life of someone who only thinks he’s a hero, but who is actually a self-mythologizing egotist.  What would be the most unlikely thing someone like that might face and triumph (wait for it) against all odds?

 Well, I thought that it might be this: self-awareness, and the ability and willingness to change his ways. And being a self-mythologizing egotist, I figured his revelations would be steeped in metaphor. Of course, the fact that it takes place under a river with his lungs filling up with water might make things interesting where the odds are concerned, too … 

***

When Jane left, I took the car, drove it to the Gateway Bridge just outside of downtown Oakview, got out, and threw myself over the side into the Spencer River.

I went a little bit crazy, I guess. But, as I felt the wind rushing upward at me as I fell, a spark lit up from somewhere inside, up from the inky darkness of my mind, or my heart. I found that in spite of it all, I wanted to live.

So, I had something of a problem to solve. By the time I hit the icy churning waters, I was only just beginning to think about the fact that I didn’t even know where to start.

baby in the womb

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Lucky Ticket

newsagent's arch

An exquisite stench of body odour burnt itself into the nostrils of the Lotto kiosk clerk before the poor man ever saw Stubby Pete lurching towards the counter. The clerk glanced up fearfully at the shambling bum, whose fashion was made complete with ancient overcoat stuffed with newspapers and a wool toque that had weathered countless nights on soggy streets.

A mask of dirt and grime half an inch thick in spots hung from Stubby Pete’s grizzled face. His mouth was mercifully closed for the moment, disguising graying teeth bathed in tobacco oils and baked beans and a tongue that lolled about inside like a lazy seal. Continue reading

Waiting

Hat

Lester McNab stepped out into the dirty sunshine through the blurry glass doors of the UpTown Mall. After his weekend shift, he smelled of fat from the fryer, which  he’d stooped over for the past seven hours at the local ChickenLicken outlet. Still, it was money, although not much. Once Steve got there in the car to pick him up, they’d swing past Daryl’s house and buy a baggie, then go back to Steve’s, get baked, and watch UFC. Then, Lester would watch Steve play X-Box for the rest of the night.

It was Saturday.

He’d got the job at ChickenLicken just after he dropped out of high school a year before. School just wasn’t for him. He just didn’t get the point of all those books, the math, the science. He couldn’t figure out how it applied to him, or to life in Oakview. That’s what really counted, right? What else was there?

Lester didn’t consider himself to be very smart. But, he was smart enough to know that he’d do just like his parents had done. They grew up here. He was growing up here. They’d got long-term jobs here, with benefits and everything. So would he, although since the plant shut down, that wasn’t a sure thing. But what was sure to Lester is that he would die here.

That is, unless something like a miracle happened.

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Bad Deal

Berlin: Former Stasi PrisonEddie Irvine wasn’t the first serial killer that David Keller had ever met. Far from it; still, the forensic psychologist thought this one might just be the creepiest.

A lot of psychopaths had mastered the art of human interaction. Some were real charmers, with good grooming and a winning smile – at least superficially. It let them get close to their victims.

Sometimes, even untrained folks could detect the evil lying underneath, but it took time. They didn’t always have time to find it out before the killer struck. Continue reading