Short Story Friday

Break Room 67


Christian Terry


Frank adjusted his cleaning cart making sure he had all of his supplies with him. He had his mop, broom, dustpan. Various disinfectant sprays. Wipes. He also had protective cover for his shoes. Frank knew he would need them. He was heading to the infamous break room which his coworkers called Lab Sixty seven. The cleaning staff that had worked there had warned him about lab sixty seven. Several employees had quit because the room was a complete nightmare to clean. “Just go in clean up, leave.” Frank said attempting to persuade himself down the dark and eerily quiet hallway. During the day the entire building was teeming with microbiologists. But not lab sixty seven. After fidgeting with his keys Frank pushed his cart through the lab room door. Inside, the entire room was impeccably clean. The desk which housed a telephone had a memo pad with a list of international numbers. Nothing out of the ordinary here. He expected petri dishes thrown about with used lab equipment everywhere. Frank then wandered the surprisingly compact room until he found a strangely drawn out trench that led from the dusty tile floor to a tiny hole in the wall. Before he could follow the trench to the wall, the wall folded revealing a hidden room with clothes strewn across the floor. Out walked a very short naked man in full stride. Frank stood as a horrified bystander as the naked man sauntered by in all of his glory. The short man then turned around now acknowledging a petrified Frank slowly eying him up and down.” I’m usually afraid of heights you know, but not today. Got any peanut butter fella?” The man said with a wink. Frank dashed out of the lab room so fast that he tripped on the floor. He had been running so fast that when he looked down at his legs they were still moving. The building would now need a new employee.


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Short Story Friday

A Family Mystery Uncovered


Vicky Holt


I loved to sit in the bay window of a Sunday afternoon, reading my favorite novelist, and occasionally jotting notes in the margins of a beloved book. My sister said I was a monster for writing inside the books, but they were mine to do with as I pleased. What she didn’t know was that my margin notes eventually became stories that I penned in my secret notebook. Women novelists were a bit of a curiosity in my country back then, and mother said I would never catch a husband if the men of our acquaintance knew I had such wild ideas as to write books.

That day, I chewed on the nib of my pen and stared at the peeling wallpaper at the corner where the bay window met the wall. I couldn’t resist the urge to pick at it until I had pulled a long section that abutted the molding. I stared at the curling paper in my hand until my sister came into the room and screamed at me. “What are you doing? Taking the house apart?”

Her yells brought our mother who entered the room panting as if she’d run a marathon. “Henrietta! What’s come over you?” She stomped over to me, her dress flouncing with every step. “I demand you drop that rubbish and go change at once! Mr. Pettigrew is coming to take you for a drive.”

I looked at her, my mouth agape. Mr. Pettigrew was a prattling idiot.

She sniffed at me. “I suggested a picnic at Hound Island. Dress appropriately.” She held her head high and turned on her heel, exiting with my sniggering sister behind her.

I let the brittle paper fall from my hands and withdrew the envelope I’d stuffed into my corset. The words hadn’t changed from the time I’d first opened the letter to now.

“We are pleased to inform you that your manuscript has been accepted for publication. We wish to thank you for your submission, Mr. Henry Pensworth. Enclosed please find your advance. We anticipate a wonderful future together.”

I covered my smile with a hand. I would swap a thousand picnics with Pettigrew to have this new life before me. I replaced the letter inside my corset and hopped off the window seat. I exited the front door, and walked away from my home, my stifling life, and my even more dismal future as the respectable Mrs. Pettigrew. I was Henry Pensworth now, and I was a writer.



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