If I Only Had A Rock

Being afraid of the dark is a common fear of most young children, and ten year old Billy Sampson was no exception. When the dreaded 9:00 p.m. bedtime arrived, he slipped into his bed, while leaving the overhead light on and the door shut. No sooner than he had closed his eyes, the door creaked open. He opened his eyes to see the figure of his father looming in the doorway.

“Damn it, Billy! How many times do I have to tell you to turn the light off? Electricity isn’t free you know.”

“I forgot,” the sleepy eyed Billy replied, not about to confess to his dad that he was afraid of the dark.

His dad quickly flipped off the switch. “Goodnight,” he said as he shut the door.

Now it would begin…another night of terror as Billy’s young imagination began to visualize the monster in his closet. It made no difference if the closet door was opened or closed, it would be there. Its glowing red eyes with black vertical slits pierced the darkness. The monster had drooling razor-sharp teeth that were yellowed with stain. Horrified, Billy clenched his eyelids shut until they hurt, because he was certain the creature would be there if he dared to open his eyes. He remained very still and thought to himself. If I only had a rock, I would smash his face in. The one time he did bring a rock into the room, his mom had found it and scolded him for bringing the dirty thing into the house. The nightmares of the closet creature raged on in his mind. Billy hid his face under the pillow and finally drifted off to sleep.

Fifteen years later, Billy now went by Bill. He had matured into a nice looking man of twenty-five. He was a college graduate and the same good-natured person he had always been. The one thing that remained constant was his secret fear of the dark, and the constant nightmares of the closet creature still pursued him. The fear was as strong as it had ever been, and he had put off getting therapy way too long. He had just married his fiancée, Deborah, and so far, had managed to keep his phobia a secret from her. It was a short, but romantic, engagement of the two, and I guess you could call it love at first sight. The two had met at work, a large insurance firm based in Boston. Unfortunately, due to the heavy workload at the office, their honeymoon to Jamaica had been postponed for a week.

The couple leased a new apartment and looked forward to their life together. The first night in their new surroundings flashed by as they unpacked boxes and nibbled on a delivery pizza. They discussed the upcoming honeymoon details until almost midnight, when the exhausted couple went to bed. Bill tossed and turned throughout the night with horrible dreams of the closet creature. When the alarm sounded at 6:00 a.m., he opened his eyes and reached to turn off the blaring alarm clock. There was something in his hand.

Bill stared at the bloody stone clasped in his hand. “What the hell?” he yelled. He let out a deafening scream as he looked at Deborah. Her face was a bloody mass of bone and flesh that was hardly recognizable as a human being.

Months later at Bill’s murder trial, his defense argued a plea of insanity. It was denied and the jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Billy arrived at the Massachusetts State Prison to serve his lifelong sentence. An important question loomed in the back of his mind as the prison guard led him to his cell. “Do you keep the lights on at night?” he asked.

Last Flight of Mary Sage

A fictional short story by Robert M. Roberts

Mary stood patiently in line waiting to check in. The terminal was a beehive of activity that Monday morning, as groggy travelers sipped on coffee and rolled their luggage a foot at a time toward the counter. Finally with boarding pass in hand she went through security and then headed to the boarding area.

This was the typical routine of the start of another work week on her commute from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. She couldn’t believe it was already July, 2012. Her new position as CEO at Five Star Records had been an exciting adventure thus far, and she was determined to turn the struggling recording company around. Mary’s partner and founder of Five Star, Barry Cronin, had died from a cocaine overdose four months earlier. His expertise for signing new talents to the label had evolved from looking for talent, to their ability to access narcotics for his uncontrollable addiction.

Now Mary was in charge, and her latest scouting auditions of new rock groups in California had produced a top ten hit on the Billboard charts. By doubling her efforts, she hoped to put the dying record label back on top.

Passengers crowded to the pedestal and handed their tickets to the agent as the door in the waiting area opened and it was time to board the plane. With only an average of four hours of sleep most nights, it was never a problem for her to sleep through the entire flight. The plane had barely become airborne when Mary drifted off to sleep. Five hours later she awoke just fifteen minutes before touchdown. Stretching her arms she felt refreshed from the much needed sleep. Now she had the energy and vitality to seek out the next big talent.

By the end of the week, she was certain she had succeeded by signing a new group from San Diego called Cloud Burst that specialized in a unique mix of southern rock and rhythm and blues.

She felt ecstatic as she boarded the plane from LAX for home, and was soon fast asleep as the plane ascended into the sky. Mid-flight, somewhere over the state of Iowa, she was suddenly aroused by the Captains loud, but calm voice coming over the cabin speaker. He was instructing the passengers and crew to prepare for crash landing. She was confused as she looked in terror around the cabin. Everything was different. The plane and the people looked different. She could smell cigarette smoke permeating the cabin.

“What’s going on?” she screamed, but none of the passengers looked up from their crouched positions.

Had everything before been just a dream, or did she have a glimpse into the future of what might have been? You see, Mary was not the CEO of a record company but instead was a college student on her way to visit friends. It was not 2012, but July 8, 1989, the day 198 people on Trans America Airlines flight 412 crashed in an Iowa cornfield. 102 people survived, while 96 perished. Mary Sage was listed among the dead.