Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: flash fiction

Short story for Mrs. Mac

My daughter Hannah takes an Honors English class with a very cool teacher named “Mrs. Mac”.
Pamela and I met her a few months ago at ‘Parents Night’ and thought she was one seriously intelligent woman.
Make no bones about it, this woman doesn’t put up with mediocrity.
That said, Hannah showed me a short story she recently wrote for Mrs. Mac’s class.
She received a 96 and kudos from a brilliant teacher.
After reading it, I had to smile.
Not only can my Hannah bake some of the most wonderful creations you will ever eat, but she can write too.
Her imagination and creativity astounded me here.
No help from Dad, btw.
Now if she’d asked, I would have helped her with some of the grammatical errors in the story (which were minimal at best)
Just thought I’d give her a day in the sun and a bit of love for Christmas.
Enjoy Hannah’s imaginary fright night.


In the small town of Princeton, Ohio, one thing was branded into everyone’s mind:
Never Go to Lake Shawnee Amusement Part at Night or Alone!
Something about this run-down, screaming, metal death trap lures people in, especially those damn teenagers. Despite the rumors of ghosts and vengeance-filled poltergeists, not to mention the bogus folklore, one brave soul was bold enough to slip through those enormous, rusted gates and spend a night there, with a video camera. . .

Kelly Swan was your stereotypical popular girl in Princeton, Ohio.
She was tall, lean, blond, and tan.
She was head cheerleader, class president, and was dating the quarterback at Princeton Prep.
Everyday, Kelly would pull into the parking lot in her pink corvette.
She’d be blasting Chris Brown, T-Pain, and Weezy F; all heads turned when she arrived.
No, necks almost broke when Kelly made her entrance.
All the girls loved her, while secretly hating her for her long blond hair that blew in the daily zephyr, and her body of a Victoria’s Secret Model.

Kelly’s boyfriend, Jasper Montez, was your classic jock; tall, muscular, gorgeous, and always had a football with him. Kelly and Jasper were inseparable; nothing could split those two, except Mr. Qwatts, their history teacher. They were studying legends and folk-lore of old Native American tribes in Ohio.
Mr. Qwatts assigned a project on the subject, and partners.
Each pair was to research and prepare a presentation of either a video or lecture of factual information.
Kelly was paired with Gertrude Zinger, the class brainiac.
Kelly was not too keen on working with “Grease-Head Gertie” but Kelly knew this was an instant A+ with Gertrude as her partner, or so she thought.
Within the first five minutes of working with each other, Gertrude laid down the laws.

“No slacking off, or I’ll make sure we fail!” she barked. “I know your type.”

Gertrude hesitated and then began to say something, but held it back as if she was looking Kelly over and making assumptions.

“Pull your own weight or else!” Gertrude warned.

“Or else what?!” Kelly snapped. “Are you going to turn me into one of you?”

From then on, neither girl talked, unless it was directed toward the project.
This didn’t stop their minds from shouting rude and obnoxious comments.
“Why does Kelly have to get everything served to her on a 24 karat gold platter?!”
“Who does Good Ol’ Gertie this she is?! I rule the school! I could make her life. . .”
Kelly’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the constant vibration of her silver Blackberry Storm.
Gert rolled her eyes in disgust.
Kelly’s eyes grew wide with excitement and then shrunk in fear.
Apparently, Jasper couldn’t wait until after Gert & Kelly’s brainstorming session was over.
Kelly’s phone glowed as she gazed at the text she just received:

Hey Kel. So Listen, me and the crew
Were thinking of having a bonfire at
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park. You in?
Let me know. It will be Friday at 8pm.
Love ya!

As Kelly scrolled down, she saw it wasn’t Jasper’s number, and Kelly didn’t recognize the callback number. She thought it must have been Alice’s new number, and Jasper stole her phone to text her.
That assumption made perfect sense to Kelly; she let that consume her thoughts, until the little light bulb went off in her head. It hit Kelly like a snowball during an intense snowball fight, the project topic.

“How about I videotape a night at Lake Shawnee Amusement park and we can research that place!” Kelly shouted with the glee of a small child on Christmas morning.
“Umm, sure. Why not? It’s right in town, and I can do research the night you go there.” Gert offered kindly.
“I guess you’re not as dumb as I thought you were.”
“Thanks! I get that a lot.” Kelly expressed ruefully.

The time between Monday’s brainstorming session and Friday’s last period class flew by faster than Air Force 1. Kelly allowed her mind wander aimlessly during her English class.
She didn’t even pick up on anything her teacher was saying about Shakespeare.
All Kelly could think about was 8 o’clock and the bonfire. Kelly lived for bonfires.
Kelly’s eyes darted to the clock. One minute to go, the minute seemed like a century to Kelly.
Finally the 2pm bell rang at Princeton Prep, signaling the “Intelligent Thoughts” and “Common Sense” meters to shut down for the weekend.
When Kelly got home, she packed clothes, makeup, and her brother’s video camera to capture what would be, a night to remember.

The Swan’s grandfather clock struck 7 o’clock and Kelly’s heart skipped a beat.
She was getting more excited with each passing minute.
At 7:45 pm, Kelly left her colossal home on the hill to go to the bonfire at Lake Shawnee Amusement park. When she got to the gates, Kelly took out her camera and started filming her documentary.
The wind suddenly picked up a bit and died.
It seemed to know a secret that Kelly would soon find out, the hard way.
It was October and the air was warmer than usual but Kelly hadn’t noticed anything, since her excitement blinded her. The massive, iron gates had an eerie sense to them, and the “Danger! Unstable Structures DEAD Ahead” sign was practically invisible to Kelly.
As she hastened along the pebble-filled walkway that curved through the tall grass, Kelly saw that the bonfire had already started. She thought to herself,
“Its only 7:55. Why would they have already started without me? I am always the one to throw the first log in.”
While Kelly inched closer, she saw it wasn’t her friends at all.
There were no people there at all.
“They have to be playing a joke on me,” Kelly reassured herself.
She dropped her stuff off and started her portion of the history project.
Kelly filmed the giant Ferris wheel, and a couple of its carts swinging back and fourth with (oddly) little wind. She filmed the broken swings swaying in the non-existent wind and then her camera started going berserk. The buttons were not cooperating and the camera screen was getting very static with the power light flickering on and off.
Kelly was staring in amazement at the camera that was working fine five minutes ago.
She neglected to see the figure that was rising out of the water and approaching her in the darkness.
Kelly started to run to the gates and the safety of her car, when she tripped.
When Kelly looked to see what she had tripped over all she saw was that her new white capri’s were stained with grass and blood.
Kelly was really freaking out now.
She started whimpering like a baby when she tried to scurry away from this dreaded place.
Kelly felt something grab her ankle and try to yank her back.
The thing was like ice, it burned, it was so cold.
She fought against it with all the will and might she could gather up in those few seconds.
The mysterious thing was wrenching her back.
Kelly kicked and screamed as if she was a 4-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.
There was crack followed by a blood-curdling shriek. Kelly’s right leg and left arm were broken.
She tried with all her might to scurry away, but found herself staying stationary.
She kept on screaming in hopes of someone hearing her, but no one ever did.
Kelly inched towards highest place she could see, the Ferris wheel.
She got into a carriage and then what happened next is a mystery.
The final scream of pain from Kelly was followed by silence, a dead silence.

The next day there was no notification of Kelly being gone.
Her pink corvette was parked in her driveway.
Lake Shawnee Amusement park was clear of blood and her video camera.
The only remnant of the night of horror that led to Kelly’s death was her video camera.
But where was it?

Gertrude Zinger woke up at 8am on Saturday morning, eager to watch and analyze what Kelly found.
She poured some cereal into a bowl and saturated it with some milk.
Gertrude sat down on the couch eating her Captain Crunch and flicked on some Saturday morning cartoons. Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
“How odd. Its 8am on a Saturday morning in October. The girl scouts sure like to get up early to try and sell cookies.” Gert said to herself.
It wasn’t the girl scouts. Someone had left a video camera and a very long letter. Gert took these random objects inside, while trying to think why someone would have done this, and spread them out next to her cereal. She read the note first. It said:
“Dear Gertrude,
You are probably wondering why I have put a video camera, this note, and a box on your porch this morning. Last night, your friend Kelly Swan trespassed on my property. She got what she deserved. I suggest before you read the second half of this note, you watch the video tape in the video camera . . . “

She did as the note directed her.
Pushing her cereal aside, Gert hooked up the video camera to her computer and watched.
At first the video was normal, Kelly being her usual self, not noticing anything like the warning sign, or seeing a person in the bush.
Things started to get a little weird when the video switched to Kelly filming the Ferris wheel.
It moved by itself! And was that a person in the top most cart?
Gert jotted down every unusual sighting she saw.
She already had a page and a half.
The video was getting down right bizarre after the swings.
Everything was fuzzy and going haywire, but there was a man, a transparent man, with feathers jetting out of his balding head. He looked rather intimidating.
At this point in the video, Kelly’s breath had picked up, as did her walk, it was almost at a sprint.
You could see her pink corvette through the gates and then nothing but a very shabby-looking snack bar. Kelly had fallen in the video and the video camera was capturing her suffering.
Gertrude’s eyes were as huge as watermelons at this point.
What was going on?
Did Kelly die at Lake Shawnee Amusement Park?
Gertrude kept on watching and added another note to her five pages of unusual happenings.
The video turned to the point where it showed Kelly climbing into a Ferris wheel carriage, and rested her broken leg on the seat when the body of a Shawnee Indian appeared with a bloody tomahawk and swung at Kelly. He missed her by inches; she fell 30 feet, broke her neck and died instantly.
Gertrude stared blankly at her computer in disbelief, as she reached to read the rest of the note.

“Pretty poor way to go if you ask me. Like I said, she got what she deserved. I am guessing at this point you don’t believe what you just watched. I thought we might hit this little snag. This is where my little gift to you comes in handy. This little present is a reminder stay off my land, or you will end up like your friend.

Gertrude was dumbfounded.
There was no gift, what gift was this mysterious phantom speaking of?
Gertrude’s hands trembled as she reached for her vibrating phone on the table.
She got a text from an unknown number saying:

Go look on your porch.
There was a ragged looking box sitting there.
Who had sent it?
What was inside it?
The box smelled as if it had been in an old dresser for 20 years.
It was filled with a scent of musk and mothballs and the flies seemed to like it as well.
She hesitated, and looked around to see if she could see anyone who might have left it, before she picked it up and went inside. She set the box on the table and stared at it for a while.
The only thing that could be heard was the pitter-patter of water droplets striking the bottom of the sink. Then the vibrating of Gertrude’s phone broke the peculiar silence. It was another text from the same unknown number. It said:
Aren’t you going to open my gift?
It will help you think better.

Her hands started creeping towards the box.
Gert whipped the cover off to reveal a horrific sight.
A severed and horribly mutilated human arm was in the box.
Kelly’s severed arm was in the box.
Gert jumped back into the wall so bad that she accidentally knocked the shelf that held her family’s DVD’s onto the ground.
This sight would scar her for the rest of her life.

Over the following weeks, Kelly’s disappearance had been confirmed as a death.
Gertrude, was the only one who knew the whole story, and she cringed every time she thought about it.
When it came time to present her project on the legends of Lake Shawnee Amusement Park and the Shawnee Indians, immense amounts of guilt swarmed her as she walked to the front of the room.
Gert found hiding the secret of knowing how her partner had died while doing this project was easier than she thought. The hard part of this was living with the guilt and remorse she felt for her partner.
Gertrude wanted to show someone else the tape, but was afraid to how they would react.
She kept that secret to herself.
And to this day, all anyone knew about Kelly Swan’s death was how she went to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, and never came back.

Epilogue: 20 years later

“This is Gertrude Zinger reporting for Channel 6 News. I’m here in Princeton, Ohio investigating the bizarre stories behind these gates. (Points to big iron gates behind her)
Local legends say that kids, teens, adults, anybody really shouldn’t come here to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park alone at night, especially with a video camera.”  Gertrude walks along fence of Lake Shawnee Amusement Park.
“Twenty years ago, today a young girl named, Kel-Kelly S-Swan died. Now the question is how did she die? We are here today to try and figure that out. ”
Suddenly the tape stopped, and the old caretaker took the tape out of the video player and threw it on the shelf with the others and muttered under his breath,
“Rotten, good-for-nothin’newscasters!  Always messing around on my land. That’s now the 32nd story they’ve filmed on my property!”
He fiercely stomped to his desk, jerked open the draw and snatched his tomahawk and exclaimed as he walked out the door,
“Time to go teach another lesson to those good-for-nothin’ kids!”

(c) Hannah Murphy, 2008

911 Writers Block

An emergency service brought to you by me.
Stuck in your writing?
Of course you are.
Then again, aren’t we all?
Found this site and thought that it didn’t hold much promise for me.
I was wrong.
If your writing is as stale as a 7 day-old loaf of bread, click the picture above.
Problem solved. Kinda.


I can see her from my bedroom window on some of the warm and humid summer nights.
She stands motionless bathed in a slice of cobalt blue moonlight, staring up at me, waiting, wanting, needing something my lethargic mind can’t quite comprehend.
Whispers crawl around my bedroom floor rising to my waiting ears, words that have no form, no meaning.
Off in the distance, I hear the dissonant bells of a monument in a cemetery across the rippling pond.
The solitary whistle of a passing ghost train to nowhere only adds to the soundtrack of this surreal dream world I’m in, a maelstrom of stygian tones and swiftly passing night clouds.
But it’s her, always her; waiting, watching, wanting . . .
I rise from the comfort of my bed and walk downstairs, an endless descent accentuated by the numerous creaks of an old and dying staircase.
Suddenly, I’m standing in the kitchen staring at a backdoor with its shade drawn.
The outside porch light illuminates her silhouetted shape standing motionless behind the door.
My heart skips a beat and my breath quickens as my hand willingly reaches for the brass doorknob.
Although it’s summer, the brass knob feels like ice and I freeze as the door slowly opens.
She’s there in front of me, inches from the ground slowly rotating in space and time, like a maniacal second hand of a broken watch.
When the door fully opens, she stops and seems to glide towards me, raising the hair on my arms.
She’s buzzing like neon.
I take in her face, the colour of the full October moon, creviced like a web but somehow calm.
Her lips are of Jasper, her eyes like black opals with swirling clouds of candescent lace deep within, maybe her universe, maybe another world.

I search for something to say but I am (diametrically) frozen solid in the warm humid air.

“I know,” she whispers, “I know things. I know you.”

“What do you want?” I manage to mumble.

“The soul, your soul.”

Her hand reaches effortlessly inside my chest and withdraws a beam of white light which she gently places inside a black satchel, on it is written “acceptance” in small white letters.

I exhale a cloud of crystalline blue frost into the warm summer night that envelops her.
She nods almost respectfully and begins to drift carelessly away, almost satisfied.
I look at her so confused and ask, “Who are you?”
On the warm winds of a midnight past, I hear her whisper . . .
“Wysteria . . . ”

No yolk, Ms. Neidelson

Maureen at the Nook came up with the idea of doing a rolling post. Each person who has volunteered to participate gets to add 3-4 sentences as their contribution. The participants are:





Poseidons Muse

Writer Chick






Moe tagged the Muse and the Muse tagged WriterChick (Annie).

From Moe:

The curtains were drawn against the chill of an early winters evening. The only sound to be heard was a sigh as she poured over one of her interminable lists, this being for the coming weekends dinner party.

She was concerned how she would keep them apart after the recent unpleasantness.
It was unthinkable she not invite them both, but in doing the right thing by them, had created a problem for herself…..

From Poseidons Muse:

Drawing a soothing draught of red wine from her glass, she looked up from her list and stared across the room. A distant memory, like the transient flash of ‘his’ handsome smile, spurned her inner turmoil. She had developed feelings for Steven during her initial tenure at the University. Their first encounter seemed almost cliche. A fateful walk across an autumn campus, a stack of books falling upon golden autumn leaves, polite words spoken, lucid eyes meeting hungrily. Butterflies.

What had begun as an innocent friendship between colleagues (for Amy would later be introduced to Steven as a contemporary) later spurned into a brief, but torrid, romantic affair. When the couple resuscitated themselves from their grey moral vortex, they realised that they would make better friends than bed-fellows and had decided to remain in each other’s lives. Now, Amy had the task of playing chancellor and counsellor to her friend, as he struggled for a sense of equilibrium in his failing marriage. Once again, she sensed the butterflies.

From WriterChick:

Amy sealed both invitations, one for Steven and one for Margo, his estranged wife, and adhered a lovely tiffany art stamp to each. “I hope to God, they aren’t still arguing over custody of the dog or the chimp – helluva a dinner topic that will make.” She put the invitations aside for the post office run she would do in the morning and pondered the menu for the party. “Now what dish would both please Steven and compliment his lovely golden curls by candlelight – of course, curry!”

From Me:

Amy sat on the couch contemplating the difficult intricacies of the seating arrangement when the phone rang.


“Ms. Neidelson, thank God you’re home. This is Dr. Shotzendach. I hope I’m not catching you at a bad time.”

“No, doctor. I’m just sitting . . . Is everything okay?”

“Well, I do believe we’ve found the source of your equilibrium problem and I’m glad you’re sitting down. You’re two months pregnant. And here’s the best part: You’re having twins! Congratulations! Ms. Neidelson?”

“Uh . . . I don’t understand doctor . . . I mean, I understand but . . . how do you . . .”

“Your lab results and the CAT scan images told us all we needed to know. Ms. Neidelson? Ms. Neidelson, are you still there?!”

Amy began to laugh hysterically. A bit too hysterically . . .

Okay, so I’m tagging Evyl to pick up this little ditty where I am leaving off. An email will be off to him shortly to inform him of his duty. Let the xtra cheesiness continue!
(Annie, you introduced this so brilliantly I had to copy and paste!) 😉

BTW, if any of you would like to participate, just contact Moe at the Nook and she’ll add you.


Back Seat

I tried to write some “flash fiction” on the train today while limiting myself to less than 200 words but still telling a tidbit of a story story. {alright, actual count 202}
I’m posting it but still not sure if I actually like it.
You be the judge.
At any rate, it did make me write.
And sorry, it doesn’t end well.

Fingers of moonlight caressed the deserted roof parking lot as she hurried to her car, the clip-clop of her stiletto heels blending seamlessly with the hum of the city below.
She’d stayed late, perhaps too late; a vain attempt to alter her nightly routine.
He was mean and jealous these days and she had the cigarette burns and bruises
to prove it.
After he first saw her dance, he immediately called her over.

I want you, was all he said.
He always got what he wanted.

She fumbled with her keys, hands shaking and out of breath, the tip-off call to the police still fresh on her mind.
He would be looking for her soon . . .

Once inside the safety of her car she pushed the ‘lock‘ button and let out a brief sigh of relief.
Turning the key she heard the incessant whirr of an engine that would never start.

God damn it, she thought, what the fuck do I do now?

The last thing she heard was the metallic click of a Zippo lighter from the back seat.
And people on the street looked up . . . listening to the steady sound of some distant car horn.


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