Suspense Urban Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

       I don’t remember falling asleep. He supposed he was in the back of an Uber. That’s good, he thought, on my way home. He fell back asleep.

           Some amount of time passed, but Jake did not know how long. The car came to a slow stop, and footsteps were heard coming to the door. Jake tried lifting his head and, though it was just as difficult now as it was the last time, managed it and tried to focus on the car window next to him. He knew it was time to get out, thank the driver, and head upstairs to his small apartment for a long sleep.

           The driver of this car was none other than Sheriff Thornton. Jake’s door swung open, and the Sheriff’s stern eyes loomed down on him. “Let’s go, Jake,” he said softly, “this is our stop.”

           He blinked several times, making sure he read the large bold letters plastered on the front of the building correctly. “A goddamn rehab clinic?” Jake spat out. He tried telling himself he was reading this wrong; that the Sheriff just dropped him off at his apartment building which just happened to get a nice makeover while he was gone. He looked away, squeezing his eyes shut. He looked back, but the letters remained the same. “You gotta be shitting me, Thornton!”

           The Sheriff explained, “Believe it or not, but I’m doing this for you. I’m making a deal with you right now – you check yourself in, get better. Or I take you down to the station and we go through our same dance again.”

           Jake glared at him. “Who the hell says this works, anyway?” Jake mumbled. Thornton calmly replied, “It is if you do it for you, Jake. I’m giving you the push to go in there and get better, but I need you to go in there with an open mind and be willing. Do it for you, not anybody else.” Jake stood silent and looked down at his feet. “Okay… I’ll try.”

           “Say it, Jake. Say that you’ll do it for you.”

           Hesitantly Jake said, “I’ll do it for me…”


           Jake scowled, but again said, “I’ll do it for me.” Tears began to well in his eyes, but he held them back. He would not give Thornton the satisfaction of seeing him cry.

           This seemed good enough for the Sheriff and he nodded. “Come on,” and turned to walk towards the clinic.

           Jake’s ears were ringing, and his heart was pounding; he realized his drunken bliss was coming down, and his head started a rhythmic throb. Maybe I shoulda just went to jail, he thought glumly.

           Later that night after a brief “welcome aboard,” speech he was dressed in scrubs and sent to his room. It was late at night, and he was told his roommate was already asleep. To the best of his current ability, with his head throbbing like a continuously rung gong, Jake was quiet as he set the week’s scrubs down in a locker and moved to his bed. He glanced at his new roommate, a snoring man with thinning brown hair asleep on his side.

He laid down in his bed and felt the immediate relief of setting his head down on something soft and left out a satisfied but tired exhale of breath.


           “It’s not so bad here,” Dustin the roommate was saying as they stood in line at the cafeteria, “You got easy meals – better than street chow, I’ll tell ya that – and morning group can be something to look forward to if you let it. And ya got all kindsa stuff around here to do, to ‘get you into a healthy habit once you’re outta here’,” he said with finger quotes, “yoga, meditation, exercise… There’s even a prayer circle in here if that’s your thing.” Jake snorted at that, and said shortly, “No. No, it’s not my thing.”

           “Ya, mine neither,” Dustin said casually, “But it is some people’s thing here, and ya gotta respect that.” Jake nodded absently at him.

           Later in the morning group, Jake was obligated to introduce himself but would say nothing else for the rest of the meeting.


           “Jacob, do you have anything to say?” Ms. Willis said. She was a short woman with dark curly hair and was the therapist who led the morning group. Jake sat in his usual spot across from her next to Dustin, his arms crossed. He shook his head. Ms. Willis sighed disappointingly, saying, “Jacob, you’ve been here for two weeks now. We’ve been letting your silence slide as you adjust to life here, but now it’s time to step up. Talk to us, Jake – why are you here?” She leaned forward, and Jake could feel the eyes of everyone in the circle looking at him.

           Jake cleared his throat, sat up straight, and gave his testimony.

           “When I was five,” he began softly, “my mom took me to the beach. I was playing in the water near the shore when a rip current took me. My mom ran out into the water after me, but she was hardly better at swimming than I was.” He cleared his throat again uncomfortably, his eyes pointed at the floor. “She was pulled under over and over while she tried to hold me above the water. She eventually brought me to shore, but she… well, they call it ‘dry drowning’ – it’s when, even if you make it out of the water, you’ve taken in so much water through the nose or mouth, the muscles in your windpipe can get constricted, so… So, she died. My father, well, he never stopped blaming himself for her death, and he wasn’t the same after that. So, I guess it was just growing up with the guilt, knowing it was my fault she was dead, and my dad never forgetting to remind me.” He paused, looking up at Ms. Willis who was smiling sympathetically at him. “Anyway,” he breathed, “I eventually got her phone after my dad passed, and I keep it alive and charged; and now and then I call that phone, just so I can hear her voice from her voicemail. I just like to pretend she’s talking to me, I guess.” He realized this time tears were coming, and they flowed heavily and quickly down his cheeks. He wiped them away and finished with, “So, yeah. That’s why I drink.”

           Everyone around him clapped as Ms. Willis thanked him; he always thought when this part came, it would be the cheesiest thing; but it felt good. He felt accepted. Later that night he would be permitted for fifteen minutes with his phone, and just like he had every night when he was allowed thus far, he never used all fifteen minutes. He would hit the one speed-dial he had and listen to her voice. He gave his phone back and began his quiet walk back to his room, and a voice said behind him, “You use joy to escape the realization that you’re a depressed neurotic,” Jake spun around and was met with an empty hallway. There was a drawing of an eyeball, sketched with a green marker, on the wall looking at him.

           This was the precedent for a fitful night of sleep full of nightmares that he wouldn’t remember in the morning.


           “You stay good in there, alright brother?” Dustin said with a smile. He held a small bag in his hands, containing all his possessions which he came here with. Jake smiled, saying “You be good out there. We don’t want to see you back in here, okay?” Dustin guffawed, saying, “Not if I can help it! I’m sure gonna miss the chow though.”

           Jake smirked, saying, “You really are nuts if you think that.”

           They laughed together now. When it died down, Dustin clicked his tongue and said, “Well, I should get. I got a job interview tomorrow. Not that it’s a big deal – just a stocker in Kreuger’s.”

           “Hey, it’s a good start alright?” Jake said, “You keep at it, you’ll be manager in no time, man.”

           Dustin chuckled, then said with a rarely heard serious tone in his voice, “Hey man, listen… I want you to stay away from Mr. Green, alright? He likes to hang around places like this, with all the lost and broken souls about; but he’s nothin’ but bad news. If I could ignore him, then I know you can too.” Jake gave him a crooked, confused smirk before Dustin pointed at him with a snap, some of the enthusiasm back in his voice saying, “And don’t forget – excuses are excuses; you drink because you’re a drunk.”

           Jake said this last part with him, a mantra that is repeated often in this building. He had no clue who Mr. Green was; he figured that might just be a term that Dustin used to call an addict’s craving – maybe it was easier to deal with, personifying it?

           Later that night, he made his way to his bedroom.

           He opened the door and stepped inside, and there sitting on the couch was a man; he was dressed in a gray suit, with neatly combed hair, and two eyes that glittered like emeralds. In his hand was a glass of scotch which he had been nursing when Jake stepped in. The man smiled warmly at him.

           “Who are you?” Jake asked flatly, “And that better fucking not be alcohol – you probably know that’s not allowed in here, and I definitely won’t allow that anywhere in my room!”

           The man’s smile widened at Jake, and he set his drink down and stood up to face Jake. “I wouldn’t worry about that, Jacob – you won’t be here for much longer anyway.” Jake scoffed at the man and closed the door behind him. “Are you a new caseworker, or something?” he asked him. “Something like that,” the stranger replied coolly. “Sure, you could call me your new caseworker, Jacob.”

           “Well, I don’t need one, you’re a little late to that party, guy,” Jake replied. “And you still didn’t answer my question – who are you? What’s your name?” At this, the stranger extended a hand to shake while saying, “Call me Mr. Green, and I’ve got some good news for you, Jacob. I’m in the business of making dreams come true.” Jake looked at the hand, then up at Mr. Green; he kept his hands down by his side. “Wait,” he said, “You’re who Dustin warned me about?”

           Mr. Green laughed and waved his hand in a gesture as if he’d smelt something foul. “Oh, Dustin – you have to take what he says with a grain of salt. After all, didn’t he strike you as just a little mad?” Jake ignored the question, and instead asked him, “What are you doing in here? I’m assuming you want something – and if you’re talking about making my dreams come true then sorry, buddy, but I don’t swing that way.” Mr. Green’s smile faded somewhat, and he asked Jake, “When was the last time you called your mother, Jacob?”

           Jake gasped angrily at Mr. Green. “The hell did you just say?” Jake asked. “Who the hell do you think you are?” Now Mr. Green’s smile returned in full, and he exclaimed, “I told you, Jacob – I’m the one to make your dreams come true! I’m going to take a wild guess and say you wish your poor mother never died, don’t you?”

           Now Jake was trembling with anger at this man’s audacity. “Fuck you, man. I’m calling the cops!” Jake snarled at the man. He turned back to the door – and saw there was none. Where there once was his apartment's only door there was only a wall stretching from corner to corner. He dumbfoundedly ran his hands up the wall, “Hey…” he said. He started to tap on the wall, which led to furious banging. “Hey!” he yelled, hoping someone on the other side could hear him. He was now starting to feel frighteningly claustrophobic.

           “Now, are we going to talk business?” Mr. Green said behind him. Jake slowly turned, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead. “What the hell is this?” Jake asked wearily, “What did you do?”

           Mr. Green ignored his question, instead picking up the drink he had set down earlier. “Let’s discuss your current condition, Jacob – here you are in rehab, and you’ve made amazing strides towards getting well. But let’s face it; as soon as you’re out of here, all of that hard work goes down the drain.

           Jake’s mouth was dry, and he said, “That’s not true,” but had questioned how well he believed that. “You never came here of your own volition,” Mr. Green continued, “because you know you will continue to fall to the cannibal inside yourself – your own self-destruction. You don’t want the Band-Aids this place offers – you want a cure. So, I want to make a deal.”

           This was making Jake think of some twisted Twilight Zone episode, and he sarcastically said, “What do you want, my soul?” It didn’t feel that funny when he said it. But Mr. Green only shook his head, “All I want in return for this favor – for giving you your mother back – is a favor. I do this thing for you, and one day, at my discretion, I come to you for a favor.” Jake laughed humorously, saying, “What favor can I possibly do for someone who revives dead mothers and makes doorways disappear?” Another question that Mr. Green would dodge. “Do we have a deal, Jacob?” he said, extending his hand again.

           Jake would like to believe he resisted, that he at least tried to haggle; but the truth was, he barely hesitated at the thought. He grabbed the man’s hand and shook it eagerly, wanting to say, “It’s a deal!” but what instead came out of Jake’s mouth when he touched the man was, “I see you, Mr. Green.” And Mr. Green smiled.


           Today, Jake was clear to leave the facility in good faith, and after all this time that meeting with the so-called Mr. Green had become what Jake would believe to be another strange dream, several weeks had gone by and there was nothing about his mother coming back from the dead, nor any call for a favor from the strange man.

           He wanted to do something to celebrate his sobriety, and one of the orderlies told him that there was a beach not too far from here. Jake at first didn’t like the idea of seeing a beach but decided it might be good to finally complete the circle. To walk as a truly changed man and accept that the past was forever behind him. So, he agreed; he would go to the beach.

           Ms. Willis had called an Uber for the beach for Jake, and even paid for the ride – her congratulatory gift for Jake. As Jake rode in the car, he felt his cell phone ring in his pocket. I forgot what that felt like, Jake mused to himself. He looked at the caller ID and his blood froze; in plain bold letters, his phone screen read simply, ‘Mom.’

           His finger trembled anxiously as he accepted the call, saying, “H-hello…?”

           “Hello?” It was her voice, no doubt about it. He had listened to that voice almost nightly for the past three years, saying the same thing on her answering machine. “I’m sorry, I just noticed I missed your call!” Jake’s mouth felt like cotton, and he couldn’t believe what was now happening. “Hello?” She said again.

           “…Mom?” He whispered.

           “Excuse me?” She replied, confused. “I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong number.”

           “No, wait – mom!” Jake pleaded into the phone, but she hung up.


           The sound of lightly crashing waves gave Jake mixed feelings as he walked along the shoreline. He was lost in a sort of paranoia as he thought of that phone call. He had frantically called that number back over and over until she had blocked his number. Now, more than he had in a very long time, Jake felt lost.

           “HELP!” Jake’s concentration was broken by a shrill cry for help. He looked ahead and saw a woman flailing her arms wildly and pointing out into the water. He followed her direction and saw a small child being pulled away by the waves. He broke into a sprint into the water and dived in.

           He caught up to the child – a boy – and wrapped his arm around his abdomen. He aggressively paddled his way to shore, doing his best to hold the boy up while he was being rocked beneath the waves himself. Salt water rushed within and without him, as his throat ached, and his lungs burned. Finally, he reached the shore and dragged the boy away from the water. The mother ran up and cradled her son, comforting him. She then said to Jake, “Thank you so much, I can’t – are you okay?” Jake was having trouble rising; he was coughing weakly as he felt his throat closing up. “Hang on, I’m calling you an ambulance!” She cried.

           Jake rolled slowly on his back, feeling his vision fade. He then saw her face – it was her face; and that little boy… That was him. He smiled. He got it now. This is okay, he thought, She’s all better now, and he will have a chance to be a better me. His eyes closed as he drifted away.


           The phone buzzed loudly on his nightstand, and Jake opened his eyes, back in his bed. He looked at the time and said he had accidentally slept in. He picked up his phone and saw the caller ID simply saying ‘Mom.’ Wondering where I am, Jake thought. He answered the phone, saying. “Hey, mom. Yeah, I’m okay – I just had the weirdest dream.”

January 18, 2024 00:03

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Noah Thomas
02:37 Jan 18, 2024

A seemingly happy ending even with Mr. Green involved, but I wonder what favor he could want in return down the line?


Harry Barnack
19:23 Jan 19, 2024

I was thinking the same thing!


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Harry Barnack
19:22 Jan 19, 2024

Very excellent! A bit of a redemption arc, I love it!


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Emily Stoll
21:53 Jan 18, 2024

I can't get enough of your Mr. Green content.


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Catrina Thomas
04:40 Jan 18, 2024

Freaking fantastic!! 🎉🎉🎉 I wish that they didn't have the 3k word limit so that you could post the story in its entirety.


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