Nightmare

I can’t seem to break free. From these cuffs. From my nightmare…

In my dream I was running. Running from a man whose face I couldn’t see. I didn’t know why, or what he would do once he caught me. All I knew was to run. As fast as I could. As far as I could.

In the end, I ran straight into his arms…

I gave up trying to get out of the handcuffs. I never dialed 9-1-1. (My phone is still in my lap when he returns, a smirk on his face.)

Somehow, I think he knew I wouldn’t.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “nightmare.”

Read previous: “M” is for “murder cover-up

Read next: “O” is for “oral tradition.”

Murder Cover-up

Date from hell. Where r u? Call me.

Tied up. Literally. Talk 2 u soon.

I wonder if Mel will read my message between the lines or if she’ll stay stuck on herself until I call her…

If I call her.

It couldn’t have been that bad. And nothing can top witnessing a murder. Even worse, helping cover it up.

The question remains what he’ll do with me. He did let me keep my phone, so maybe he won’t kill me too.

That or he’s just plain stupid. No need to test it, though. Now, to get out of these handcuffs.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “murder cover up.”

Read previous: “L” is for “leftovers.”

Read next: “N” is for “nightmare.”

Leftovers

Mel

Something’s off about him. And I’m not just talking about his missing finger…

Part of his finger—the tip actually. A freak accident while chopping onions, he says.

“You know how they say onions make you cry…”

“Maybe you should stick to takeout and leftovers from now on.” I stare at his bandage, wonder if the red is from his cut bleeding through or the rare steak on his plate.

“Well done is overcooked in my book.”

“It still has a pulse.”

I’ve lost my appetite, watching him chomp on raw meat, lick his bleeding finger.

It all seems… off.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “leftovers.”

Read previous: “K” is for “Kansas.”

Read next: “M” is for “murder cover-up.”

Kansas

Was Oz a dream conjured by flying debris in a storm, or did Dorothy really leave Kansas?

I follow them out of the restaurant—too drunk to be discreet—toward the deserted back lot used for extra parking.

He yanks her elbow closer; she looks over her shoulder. They seem to be running from me, but I can’t lose him again, not before I know who he is.

When I turn the corner, he’s behind her, waiting, and I see her body shoot straight up, then stiffen like a board and collapse at his feet.

I’m not in Kansas anymore.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “Kansas.”

Read previous: “J” is for “jokes.”

Read next: “L” is for “leftovers.”

Jokes

Mel rolls her eyes when I ask our waiter about the drink menu. “You’ve got to be joking.”

“It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

“I’m not enabling your destructive habits.”

“You’re enabling them just by being here.”

“Fine.”

I know I’ve hurt her feelings. I’ll apologize later. Maybe.

But I’m relieved to see her go. Even though she’s left me to pay the bill—I’d guess to keep me from drinking too much, but two sips in to the featured strawberry-peach mixed drink, I order something stronger.

That’s when our eyes meet.

Why is that that he only notices me with alcohol?

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “jokes.”

Read previous: “I” is for “I don’t need a man.”

Read next: “K” is for “Kansas.”

I Don’t Need a Man

I don’t care that he’s walked past our table twice and hasn’t so much as glanced my way.

When he returns from the restroom, I drop my napkin onto the floor directly in his path. He steps over it without hesitation.

I feel invisible, questioning reality as I did at his doorstep.

“Don’t be so obvious,” Mel says. “It was a one-night stand. He’s found someone else, you should too.”

“I don’t need a man.”

“Right, so this awkward, putting-yourself-in-his-way routine isn’t because you’re desperate for attention.”

Now I wish I was drunk. I can’t stomach Mel’s voice another second.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “I don’t need a man.”

Read previous: “H” is for “hidden message.”

Read next: “J” is for “jokes.”

Hidden Message

“Maybe it was morse code.”

“What?”

“The knocking.”

“From the phantom prisoner in your imaginary boyfriend’s basement?”

It sounds worse coming from Mel, who half listens, typing away on her phone.

I wish I could text him. Not that I really want to, but it if meant having a semblance of truth…

“You should stop drinking.”

“This is water.”

“You were drunk that night.”

Because my best friend stood me up on my birthday. But I say, “Not that drunk.”

And with my hangover gone, there’s no denying what I see now. Him, at the hostess stand, with another woman.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “hidden message.”

Read previous: “G” is for “grace.”

Read next: “I” is for “I don’t need a man.”

Grace

I don’t remember his name, but I remember his house. Or, I thought I did. That was until Grace answered the door.

The old woman who’d lived there for decades.

So I tried next door, and a few doors down, even across the street.

But here’s the thing. I’m sure that’s his house. Despite being drunk that night, I remembered it distinctively, especially its Victorian architecture, much different from white picket fence homes surrounding it, and I wondered if he was a writer. Guy like that, living in a house like that. It only made sense.

Now nothing makes sense.

Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “Grace.”

Read previous: “F” is for “Friday the 13th.”

Read next: “H” is for “hidden message.”

Friday the 13th

“I think I’m cursed,” Mel says as she slips another form-fitting dress over her narrow hips. “Of all days, he picks Friday the 13th for our first date. I mean, what does that even mean?”

“That he wants to go out with you.” Which is more than I can say for myself. Hungover, still leery of tight spaces. The only reason I can think of for why she’s dragged me into this fitting room with her is to show off a body I’ve always been envious of.

Yet she says she’s cursed.

I don’t tell her about last night. I’d rather forget it ever happened. But the truth is… Even as I try to push it from my mind, I can’t help but get this sinking feeling…

That I left someone down there to die.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles or 100-word stories (this one went slightly over) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “Friday the 13th.”

Read previous: “E” is for “Edgar Allan Poe.”

Read next: “G” is for “grace.”

Edgar Allan Poe

I feel him behind me before I hear him. He seems bigger than I remember, like a wall that has been built up right where I stand. I can’t breathe. The air is heavy, dank. With every inhale, it’s as if mold sits on my tongue.

There’s something very “Cask of Amontillado” about this place. I want nothing more than to get out.

And he lets me, but not without intimidation.

Grabbing my neck with an almost seductive force, he asks, “What are you looking for?”

“I thought I heard something.”

“No you didn’t.”

I almost believe him, but the knocking starts again as I climb the stairs.

—Nortina


A to Z Challenge theme: A Drabble for a Tag

This year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (~100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “Edgar Allan Poe,” a writer whose influence bleeds through my own work.

Read previous: “D” is for “dream interpretation.”

Read next: “F” is for “Friday the 13th.”