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Making it Right

September 11, 2020

Short stories from writing prompts have made the 24 Hour Short Story Contest one of my favorite writing endeavors. I have two Honorable Mention stories which I will include in this category. I also will resurrect the other contest stories I’ve written along with the prompts, as long as I can find them. My filing system is somewhat less than systematic…

Here is the prompt and story for the Summer 2020 contest!

Prompt:

Their trips to the drive-in movie theater were always
the same. He would fall asleep and she would quietly
leave the vehicle to get popcorn, Milk Duds, and soda.
As she walked back with her goodies, the car-side
speakers stopped and the screen went black, throwing the
entire lot into darkness. She stopped, temporarily
blinded. Then, the screen lit back up again, showing…

 

Making it Right

Stars.

Ethereal, surreal moving stars. They whisked by, silent, like the starfield on Star Trek as the Enterprise sluiced through space.

Vertigo enveloped Jane once she muscled her gaze from where the screen once stood out. Now it enveloped her in a complete view. Her feet stumbled inch by inch as she turned underneath a canopy of moving stars.

She forced her eyes to take in her surroundings. The throwback drive-in’s outer periphery ceased at what once was the tree line. Each vehicle contained bodies, stiff as uncharged robots. Her hands flew to her face, Milk Duds and soda released without sound.

The nonexistent tree line now revealed how the theater grounds blew by stars. One glance at Harold revealed his open mouth, frozen in mid-snore. Panicked, she shot another quick look toward the Milk Duds. Along with the soda, they hung mid-air precisely where she let go of them.

A scream demanded release, but she found she was no longer breathing. Echoes of thousands of arguments against this reality exploded throughout her brain. Her heart should be pounding yet all within her remained calm, just as the moment before the lights flicked out.

Curiosity silenced the cacophony of voices once she reached for the Milk Duds and moved them. When she rescinded her grip, they remained hung, mid-air, as before.

Jane ventured one halting step toward the outer edge where trees once reigned. The movement, she realized, was completely effortless as though she did not need feet and legs. Another step revealed the same sensation. She stopped, turned, and stared directly at her body, statuesque like all the others.

Questions dazed her mind. She feared panic would overtake her. To the contrary, she found her mind handled the queries, mostly with the answer, “How the hell should I know?”

She glided to the drive-in’s horizon. Scraggly grass at the edge of the gravel road circumventing the theater ended in an abrupt view of stars whizzing by below. She controlled another bout of vertigo.

“What would happen if it poked a finger past the edge of the grass?” In her mind she voiced the question, but no sound sprang forth. In fact, she could hear nothing at all. With a tentative motion which she quickly remembered did not involve her body, she tested the illusionary finger experiment.

A sensation flowed through her unlike anything she’d ever known. The closest she could identify the sensation to be involved a “wrongness.”

Jane quickly skirted the outer reaches of her new world. She possessed a ghostly feel about how she could glide and pass through objects. In her first circuit of the grounds, she felt three twinges of “rightness.”

She set out on a second round, stopping at the first sensation. The lure of feeling something external drew her toward a car on the outer edge of the lot. The feeling of “rightness” intensified as she approached, but once at the car, immediate evil halted her forward progress.

She peered in the window of the car. In the back seat, a naked girl lay wide-eyed, duct tape over her mouth, with a knife an inch from her glistening chest. Jane felt a surge of anger, yet delicately she opened the door.

The girl’s head remained resting on the now nonexistent armrest. Jane slid her hands underneath the terrified young woman’s armpits and pulled her out with surprising ease. It appeared that once she concentrated on pulling the girl out, once she touched her, the potential victim’s body took on her own ghostliness.

With the body out of the car, Jane removed the duct tape, recovered a bra, blouse, panties, skirt, and heels. She dressed the mannequin. In an afterthought, Jane turned the attacker onto his back in the seat. She trained the descending knife an inch from his groin and closed the door.

Jane carried the girl to the concession stand. She placed her out of the direct line of sight of anyone yet still amid people. The motionless girl now stood next to the office. Inside, Jane could see a tired-faced woman on the phone.

Jane returned to her circumnavigation of the drive-in; this time more aware of the feeling of “rightness.” The second rightness felt just as the first. As she approached her destination, the sensation grew in strength.

Instead of the feeling evil, the rightness diminished, and a sense of loss overcame her. She again found herself at a car containing a couple, this time occupying the front seat. The man, posed in a beseeching manner, presented a ring to the woman. At first, Jane could not see anything wrong. The woman smiled lovingly, with excited eyes and a fresh tear of joy sneaking from one eye.

The woman’s eyes, however, were drawn to a text on her cell which read, “Dad just died.” Jane snatched the phone, searched through other texts, and found one apparently from her suitor. She typed the words, “Please marry me!” and replaced the phone in her hand.

Satisfied, she returned to her search. The third “rightness” led to another car. This one held a man mid-snore with a lovely, kind-hearted woman perched just outside in the process of dropping some Milk Duds and a soda. The woman, now committed to no more lackluster drive-in movies with someone who did not value her enough to stay awake stepped back into her body…

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