The Sign - Short Story


I love a good ghost story, don't you? Shadow people, disembodied voices, apparitions, visions, unexplained noises, and out of body experiences...they all fascinate me. It's probably a reason why I enjoy writing about these experiences so much - after all, my first novel, Average Joe, is about a man that can see into the spirit world.

Today's prompt from the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallit writing group sparked the short story, The Sign. As usual, we had fifteen minutes to write and once the prompt (the first few sentences written below in bold) was provided, my fingers started to fly across the keyboard. It's a great feeling to have a story manifest itself so quickly...for a writer, there's no better feeling.

So here is The Sign...I hope you enjoy it.

The Sign

Dean traced a finger around the edge of his fourth Scotch. If only the universe would give him a sign. Something…anything that would let him know which path to take his life. Taking a sip, he looked across the restaurant and noticed he was completely alone. Even the bartender had stepped out—maybe to get more supplies from storage? He didn’t know.

What he did know was that, in a room that was full only minutes before, he was now its sole occupant. He downed the Scotch in one swift tilt of the head, slammed the glass onto the polished bar-top, and reached for the bottle.

That was strange. He didn’t think bartenders were in the habit of leaving open containers accessible to patrons. Suddenly, he jumps off the stool and backs away. Something happened when he reached for the bottle of Scotch—something that terrified him. He looks down at his hand, turns it, and then lifts it up to examine it closer to the ceiling lights. His heart pounds, knocking against the inside of his chest as if attempting to leap out of him. A whoosh of air springs from his lungs as he realizes he’d been holding his breath the entire time he’d been examining his hand.

He steps back toward the bar, eyes now locked on the bottle of Scotch. Slowly, he reaches forward, forward, forward—until his hand passes right through it.

Dean leaps away as if he’s just put his hand into a raging fire. A shout leaps from his throat—not of pain, but of surprise and shock. He stumbles to the front of the building, pushes against the front door, and almost slams into the rough wood. The door won’t open. Panic takes hold. His fist pounds against the door. He tries to scream for help but no words come. His voice is locked inside him just as his body is locked inside the bar.

Stepping away, he turns and sweeps the room again. Did someone just speak to him? He could have sworn he’d just heard a voice.

“Hey buddy…”

There it was again.

His eyes open. He’s face-down on the bar. Somebody shakes his shoulder.

The bartender says, “Hey buddy…it’s time to go.”

Dean lifts his head…see’s the fourth glass of Scotch—still sitting there, untouched.

“Okay, universe…I hear you.” He drops a fifty on the bar and stumbles outside, never to return again.

- CJT

October 9, 2019


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