Tag: Phantom

PHANTOM: Phantom By Anne Nassar

Word Count 525
By Anne Nassar

He had four days off from school. He felt like an intruder at home, so he decided to go and stay with his sister in her dorm room. He knew that no matter what else she had going on, she would be happy to see him, and would make time to take him to the ocean. He walked downtown to the train station, which doubled as a bus terminal. From the pay phone, he called his father and asked him permission to go to Boston.

Sure thing, his father said, you need money?

Nope, Alek said proudly – he had money that he’d earned painting his grandmother’s garage.

Tell your sister to call me, his father said.

Sure thing, Alek said, though he knew his sister wouldn’t call. She was opposed to his father’s engagement.

At the window where you bought tickets for the Greyhound, there was a long line of people waiting, checking their watches and sighing. Whenever a new person approached the window, a huge doberman lunged up over the counter, snarling, straining to break the chain that held it back.The old woman behind the counter would admonish the dog, Phantom, quiet down, but she snickered whenever anyone flinched.
When it was finally Alek’s turn, she gave him a price. But he couldn’t hear her over the dog’s frenzied barking. He handed her what he thought a ticket ought to cost. She counted it and said, contemptuously, You don’t have enough.

He rummaged through his pockets and put some more bills on the counter.

If you don’t have the money, get out of the way. I’ve got paying customers behind you.

I have it, he said.

Four sixty, she demanded impatiently, I need four sixty.

Flustered, he drew out some change and pushed it towards her.

Jesus, she said,irritably, can’t you add?

The guy standing behind Alek silently handed him a quarter. She rolled her eyes and muttered, somewhere, a village is missing its idiot. He beaned her with the quarter, it struck her right between the eyes. She began to howl like he’d shot her. A security guard backed him into a wall and kept him cornered until the police arrived He was taken to jail and kept cuffed to a bench. When his father arrived to bail him out, he advised, you should attempt to embrace the absurdity of the situation.

On the way home in the car, Jeanette said, about Alek, as though he wasn’t in the back seat, what he needs is a firm hand.

How do you know what he needs? Alek’s father said.

Nobody in my family gets in trouble with the law.When a kid acts up, he gets punished!

Not the wooden spoon again, Jeanette.

The wooden spoon is for telling fibs. This is serious! If it were my son, I’d make him get a job and pay back the money you just spent.

He’s fourteen.

So what? He can get a job! My brother will give him a job digging graves! But you think he’s too good for manual labor.

Okay, Alek said, I’ll do it.

And so he spent the summer digging graves.

PHANTOM: Grounded By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 500
By Mike Cecconi

They said it was the most humane way they had to “deal” with us but some days, I’m not so sure. I mean, I’m glad they didn’t kill me. I’m glad I’m not a guinea pig locked up in some laboratory somewhere, I’m glad I’m not forced to be a black-ops government assassin. I am certainly glad there are no longer ridiculous superheroes running around trying to recruit me, saddle me with a jolly pirate nickname and then stuff me in a latex suit. And of course, it’s wonderful to no longer worry that an angry mob will try and kill me with Frankenstein villager torches if they glimpsed me in my glory, a death that would be as painful as it would be cliched. And yet.

I can still feel my wings sometimes. I can still feel the tips of my claws if I’m startled awake at the beginning of a dream. It feels like I can still grab at things with the three extra sets of hands that I would grow when I wanted to compete against myself in a video game. I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to have been able to be either gender or somewhere in-between upon a whim and then be locked into just one set of options. Being just one person, just one thing, just one check in every row of boxes, it’s so damn limiting that I have to say it hurts. It literally hurts.

After they held me down and gave me the injection, once I was just a “normal” person, all the persecution stopped. They were even nice about it, as long as they were full certain we were no longer special, shapeshifters like myself, psycho-kinetics, super-speedsters, the ones who could talk to horses, the ones who could shoot laser beams out their noses, they were so gosh damned nice to us it was almost condescending. They got us therapy. They put us in group counseling.

Myself, I meet with amputees, that’s a way of looking at it, sure. Mostly war disfigurements, a few farm accidents, some lost their parts to cancer or to frostbite. And I’m not taking away from their loss, I know they’re going through their own hells but when they’d talk about their phantom limbs, they’re talking about one or two, an arm, two legs, whatever. How could I explain what it was like to lose every limb ever at once and then after that, to lose fifteen million things a human being is never supposed to have? To have lost tentacles, mandibles, to have lost eight breasts, to have lost the ability to fly.

Don’t get me wrong, the old soldiers are very nice, and they listen close even if they don’t quite understand, it’s just… I can sometimes still feel my wings. The clouds in my eyes. The wind on my back. Even if it saved your life to do so, you don’t just forget that kind of thing. Ever.

PHANTOM: Phantom By Nan Ressue

Word Count 493
By Nan Ressue
“STOP IT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW, DAMN IT,” I yelled in my most intimidating voice. “How do you think I am going to sleep if you keep running up and down the stairs?”, addressing my question to thin air with a scowl on my face and a bad attitude. There was only one answer to the question posed; it was a WHAM as the door at the bottom of the stairs slammed shut.
You have probably guessed that a phantom has moved in with me for reasons unknown and the footsteps are only a part of it.
I got up in the morning with bags under my eyes and stumbled down the back stairs in order to bypass the spooked staircase. And whadda ya know… stretched out in the kitchen rocking chair was the source of my sleepless nights…There was Dad, grinning from ear to ear, just dropping by for a little chat.
“Dad! What are you doing here?”
Much to my astonishment, he looked really great; healthy, muscular, well dressed (at least for him) and he had all his hair, pretty good for somebody who had been dead for a year.
“I’m here to offer you a deal Son that I think you’ll like. I want you to learn a few ghost skills now so when it’s your turn to pass over, you’ll have a head start. “
“Ghost skills?” I asked intrigued. “What do you have in mind? Can we get started right away?”
“Whoa there! One at a time! These are worth practicing as they are useful in many situations. Are you willing? “
“Let ‘er rip, Dad”
“Let’s try levitation first. You need to get your body positioned correctly as the first step. Stand up, feet about a foot apart, relax your shoulders, arms held loosely at your sides. Try to get one or two inches off the floor. Relax …think of yourself rising up gently, gently… Well, no luck on that one. We can practice later.”
“Have you heard of teleportation? I used that one to get to your house. I want you to imagine yourself upstairs in bed. Breathe deeply, another deep breath, one more. Keep your bed in mind. Concentrate, concentrate. OK… You’re still here .That one is hard.”
Now the last one is a phantom’s signature move; passing through a wall. Get ready Son. You need to run as fast as you can at that bare wall in front of you and you’ll pass through into the dining room, smooth as a greased pig. You are really going to need to SPRINT. Get ready! On your mark, get set, GO!
I realized that it didn’t work that time either as I lay bloodied and battered on the kitchen floor. My father was bending over me, his face covered with a look of sweet success.
“Son, you never should have blown all the insurance money at the casino…”

PHANTOM: Phantom Shadow By Sharon Collins

Word: Phantom
Word Count 499

Phantom Shadow
By Sharon Collins

I wake sprawled on the ledge and damp with sea-spray. Struggling to stand, I discover I hurt and I think one of my teeth is loose. I probe with my finger. Yes, one of the grinders wiggles and it should not. I touch the throbbing spot on my head and feel the swelling beneath the sticky mat of my hair. I push gently; that hurts more. I see my yellow-brights and notice my fire has almost burned out. I cannot think why I did not tend the coals properly before I slept or why I slept so near the edge. Suddenly I remember and spin around in panic. The movement makes me gag with pain and the need to empty my stomach. On my hands and knees I stare out in wonder. In the glow of the rising sun, I see the sea has returned. Small waves foam far below; seagulls circle and call. All is as it should be. There is nothing to fear. Slowly this time with my hand to the wall, I manage to get back on my feet. “Where are you Sister? I need you!” I cry as the pain in my head pounds with each beat of my heart. For the first time in a many, many days, I wish not to be alone.

Thinking to make a bowl of pain-killing tea from the bark of the long-haired trees, I spread my soup-stones in the fire-pit and add wood to reawaken the flame. While the soup-stones heat. I gather my yellow-brights and then limp to the pool at the back of our cave The fresh-water is why I chose this cave even though it is so high and difficult to reach. Leaning over the edge, I am startled. Little sunlight reaches this far back, but enough lights the surface for me to see dark stain on the side of my face. As I fill my bowl, I notice something odd. The water-level is rising. The trickle that fills the pool has grown into a small stream. Before my eyes, the surface reaches the lower edge on the pool’s far side and spills away, deeper into the cave. I am grateful my bed-roll and fire-pit are on the high side.

Warmed soup-stones dropped into my bowl, heat the tea. Waiting for the bark to release its magic, I sing Sister’s name as she has taught me. Wolf-song carries far on the wind. I squeeze my eyes tight against the pain and howl her name until I am exhausted, opening them only when I feel a chill. The shadow of a wolf appears as Sister steps between the sunlight and me. Then another shadow, a much larger shadow, appears next to hers. I barely breathe as Sister sings the great, grey He-Wolf’s name for me… the eerie notes of Phantom’s name echo from the rock walls. Sister tells me I may call him Shadow and asks me to make him welcome.

PHANTOM: Down Draft By Sally Madison

Word: Phantom
Words: 476
Down Draft
By Sally Madison

Eleanor was frozen, awestruck, at the sound and fury coming from the west. Hurricanes were a whisper compared to the huge roaring phantom locomotive that was barreling across the plains. The thirty-foot wake of dirt, gradated from near-black at the ground to a tan in the giant curl of dirt and dust rolling across the fields, gobbling the sparse trees along the country lane.

The alarm in her soul finally awoke when the dust stung her eyes, and she quickly covered her mouth and nose with her apron, to block out the dirt as the dust storm ripped at her hair and skirt. Fear struck Eleanor’s heart as she quickly shepherded the children into the house. They each grabbed their favorite toy – a book of Robin Hood, a cornhusk doll and a little wooden tractor – and then hid under the bed. Eleanor grabbed her Bible and began to search. ‘Where in Genesis was it? No, Exodus. Moses told the pharaoh of the torments he would suffer when the sand turned to gnats. This certainly is the end of the world, why was she being tortured like this? Surely, God was not this angry with her.

She peaked out the door, wondering what was keeping Joseph so long. The chickens were scurrying to the coupe, she could see some were squawking while being lifted by the wind, but she couldn’t hear the squawking through the din of the phantom locomotive of wind. Terror struck her heart, as she saw the barn roof and wall crack, for fear that the barn would collapse on Joseph. She slammed the door shut at the possibility and turned her attention to the present.

Grabbing a piece of wood to stoke the stove, she opened the stove door just as the wind caught the chimney, forcing a downdraft. The flames burst out the opened stove door, Eleanor screamed, raising her arm quickly, as the flames attacked her, and she fell backward onto the floor.

In a flash, two pairs of feet dashed across the floor. James slammed the stove door shut, grabbed the braided rag rug and wrapped Eleanor in it, suffocating the flames. Olivia ran to the sink and started pumping for the water deep under the house. James placed Eleanor’s good arm around his neck and, with his arm around her waist, helped her to her feet and to the kitchen sink.

Tommy, not to be left behind, came toddling out from under the bed and grabbed his mother’s skirt. Olivia gently pulled Tommy away and hugged him, while coaxing him to the rocking chair. Tommy, confused by all the screaming, was hesitant until he was promised a story.

Just then, the door, caught by the wind, crashed open and Joseph struggled in and barred the door shut. He heard the crying, and was shocked that it was Eleanor crying, not the children.

PHANTOM: The Twilight Zone By Peg Scarano

Word: Phantom
Word Count: 498

The Twilight Zone
By Peg Scarano

When a first newborn arrives home, the life of the young family is forever changed. This fact cannot be fully comprehended until it happens. There are no words to explain it or any mental, physical and emotional preparation program. You just have to live it.

Little Henry Stone arrived home on a sunny afternoon – at a mere two days old. He was the best newborn. He slept through the Super Bowl, the clanging of pots and pans and even the shrill howl of the old, deaf and senile dog who barked at every shadow he saw – or thought he saw. The cradle was sniffed over and over by a wet nose and little Henry did not flinch even as the dog’s, far-from-pleasing breath, whispered sweet nothings in his tiny ear. The cat – well, he was still king of his castle – the sweet bundle in the cradle was just another pesky annoyance to be ignored.

The adults, on the other hand, had specific duties. The new mommy was concentrating on nutrition. The daddy was head of sanitation. Poppy had dog walking and garbage detail while Noni was chief cook, laundry woman, maid and nanny. There is always laundry with a newborn plus there were the new gifts celebrating his arrival that had to be washed before touching his delicate, soft skin.

A month earlier, Noni was responsible for laundering all of Henry’s new clothing. Somehow, somewhere a little sock and mitten disappeared from this earth forever. Noni was determined this would not happen this time as she placed four sets of newborn mittens into the washing machine. With that chore started, she was helping the new parents gather their belongings to take Henry for a check-up. Daddy was frantically looking for his sunglasses, running upstairs and down -twice. After the second trip, Noni casually handed him his sunglasses which were on the kitchen island in plain sight. “This happens,” she calmly explained.

Later, Noni was happily folding the laundry when she realized there were only two pairs of mittens, not four. Poppy went in the laundry room to check the washer and dryer. Nothing. Daddy suggested they might be under the agitator and went to examine it. Nothing. This was getting weird and gnawed at Noni’s tired mind.

Daddy and Noni were the last two upstairs that night as Noni needed a new light bulb for the bedroom. They were kept in the laundry room. Daddy opened the door with Noni at his heels and, lo and behold – the four phantom mittens were on the laundry room floor. They nearly stepped on them! They looked at each other, at the floor and at each other again and Noni eerily thought of Rod Serling – “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind – A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!” Welcome to parenthood.

PHANTOM: The Lucky One By Sam McManus

Word Count 500
The Lucky One
By Sam McManus
Ray rolled over in bed, restless, as he tossed, and turned, and tried to get back to sleep, but nothing seemed to work. The sheep danced above his head in what he could only describe as a tango, not remotely interested in jumping meekly over a fence. The warm milk on his nightstand stood sentinel to his languishing, but did nothing to calm his frayed nerves. And damn if his right foot wouldn’t stop itching. It was driving him insane. He reached down to scratch that insufferable itch, but his hand closed in on nothing, his fingers searching for purchase and finding only twisted sheets instead.
His eyes opened suddenly, like a shade rattling up after a quick tug, his mind kicked in, and he sighed. What would it finally take to ease the ache of his phantom limb? How long until his mind caught on to what his body had known the second he woke up in Manhattan General after the car wreck, after the Jaws of Life had to pry his broken body from the twisted metal?
Looking back, only the one amputation was a blessing, as he had suffered numerous breaks, cuts, and contusions from the accident. Shattered glass had lacerated his face, and he’d had to get several cosmetic surgeries, but he was lucky that only his right leg had been beyond salvaging. By the time he was revived after the medically induced coma, everything ached, including his right foot, but, when he looked down, it, and the rest of his leg, was gone. His sister, Winnie, had made the decision in order to save his life, and early returns were that it had worked, but oh how he grieved.
To take his mind off of the insane itching, for which he would never have true relief, he hummed a tune that had soothed him more often than not since childhood: “South Side,” by Moby. The song brought him back to his carefree youth, when a school free day brought with it improvised games of tackle football on the concrete sidewalk that skirted the nearby playground. He and Jeff had always set up the boombox on the short fringe of grass so they could hear the alternative station while they played. He missed Jeff almost as much as his right leg.
The ache returned, despite Ray’s best efforts to press it down deep, as he thought of the last time he had seen his best friend. It was all shadows, though, what happened, Jeff picking him up in the Corvette, obviously wasted, but that was his default setting. It never affected his ability to drive, so Ray hadn’t thought anything of it. If he had smelled the weed in the car, he couldn’t remember it as he climbed in and they took off down 495 headed to the beach. They never arrived. If he could trade his other leg for Jeff, he would.
But it was far too late. Maybe Jeff had been the lucky one.