Horror Suspense Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

The shorts and t-shirt clad exercisers of various shapes and fitness levels, sipping their beverages while panting, stretching, beads of sweat on their foreheads drying in the cool evening air, dark patches on their backs and stomachs glaring like mournful, weeping eyes, making you feel guilty about unused gym membership that's about to expire.

The tap-tap-tapping keyboard pounders, lost in worlds of their own creation, focused, on the words appearing on their screens, working or creating, for themselves or others, lidded containers over-seeing like proud agents by their sides, offering encouragement, support, reward in liquid form for their efforts, judging you for your collection of rejections.

The well-dressed dog lovers, their own drinks an afterthought as they busy themselves making sure their pets have enough water in their thoughtfully-provided bowls and are sitting obediently, earning treats by not making a racket, walker and walkee taking a well-earned rest before heading home, reminding you of haunted rooms you can no longer return to.

The lovers, the partners, the same-sex and opposite-sex couples, clutching hands across tables in one of three marquees around the hissing, steaming, hazelnut, caramel and vanilla-scented truck that has appeared in the park, paper-cup professors of caffeinated romance misting the air between glances with tendrils of tender-loving steam, taunting you with wafting depictions of what was, what would have been, what no more will.

The sights, the scents, the sounds of people alive, happy in this moment with their others or in their own skin, following their still unbeaten paths writing the lyrics of their songs, being, doing, loving with some kind of purpose. Forcing a lump to lodge in your throat when you question yours. A purpose you no longer have, and perhaps never did. 

The something you did have, the someone, who you loved and who loved you back, unconditionally, despite your flaws and transgressions. The someone who gave you reasons to get up, to self-motivate, who inspired you to be better, to try hard.

Reasons that no longer exist. 

The shame.

The warmth in your hand in the quickly cooling air as you accept what the man in the truck hands you, the thanks you offer insincere as you meet his crystalline gaze and sever it, burnt by eye contact, by those smiling irises, contentment radiating from them like accusatory lasers, making you feel ungrateful for the life you have squandered and the breath you have taken for granted.

The glitch-like, stuttering awkwardness with which you turn from that man in the pristine white apron and peculiar cocked red beret, refusing the lid and the napkins, head hung low as you seek out the most isolated table in the most empty marquee, ignoring all others as you move towards it. The laughs and snippets of conversation from people in person or on phones, chatting to family, friends, loved ones, giving household instructions, finalising meet-up plans, complaining about workloads that are stressful.

Making you wish you could call her about such things. 

Making you aware of how much you threw away.

The jerk of the head when you accidentally meet a woman’s eyes, the ignoring of her friendly nod and greeting, the severe swerve in another direction, to slink into a seat in a lonely corner. 

The escape.

The length of gauze wrapped around your knuckles, successfully preventing colour seeping through. The clean vinyl tablecloth on the rickety picnic table, the coarse wooden bench tucked beneath. The absence of someone taking a seat beside you, with their soy milk, gluten free latte and blueberry muffin.

The swaying attendee, dressed like the vendor in beret and apron but beyond that clad in denim head to toe, feet strapped into hobnail boots, meandering from table to table, marquee to marquee, like the needle in a broken compass that can’t find North. Cloth in one hand, multi-purpose cleaning spray in the other, squirting, wiping, cleaning in no rush, smiling to no one aa he ambles, a grateful glint in his green eyes.

The smooth, milky liquid in your mouth as you lift your uninjured hand and tilt your head back. The difficulty swallowing the lump, the warmth flowing into your chest, melting the frozen surface of your cracked, glacial heart.

The guilt. 

The thought of the note in one jacket pocket, the words for your mother, the apology. The weight of the newly-purchased boxcutter in the other, the shameful plan, this unexpected stop on the way to execute it.

The coffee truck and set-up that wasn’t there that morning or ever before. When things were normal, the same. When you tried and made an effort to be strong. When you were wanted, by someone better than you, though you had little to offer.

The rising, silvery disc squinting behind jostling clouds. The quieting day, the fading light, the blinding, screaming, retching recollections. Of champagne and cake and celebration, for a writer’s work selected for publication. The realisation of a long-held dream. The receipt of long-awaited recognition. The saccharine-sweet story of success.

But hers, not yours.

The act.

The other attendees, oozing out of the truck, also in aprons and berets, with eyes that stare and probe, smiling as they enter the marquees, nodding at patrons, pleasant, friendly, nice. Busying themselves loosening ties on poles that hold up side panels, letting white PVC barriers drop to the grass, shutting out the park, the trees, the darkening sky. The faint lunar reflection, broken and distorted in warped, uneven plastic windows. 

The people in your marquee and others finishing their drinks and standing up, prompted by this closing-up routine. The wooden panel in the truck’s vending window swinging shut. The shuffling of feet and yapping dogs.

The froth and bubbles in the golden brown liquid in your hand, spinning as you swirl it round and round. The lowering level of the fluid as you lift, tilt, gulp, watching it diminish like time. The last marquee side panel dropping, trapping you inside like another prison, beyond the ones of meat and bone and thought. Your cellmates making for the loose, hanging flap that is an out.

The man reading the newspaper. The woman nursing the baby. The teenager scrolling on phone. Standing up and striding from their tables, taking up position by the door.

The sudden screams from unseen marquees on either side, making you jump, spill your last precious ounces, knock the bench to the ground as you marionette up.

The utterances of shock and surprise, the disbelief and confusion.

The discarded newspaper, the baby-less bundle of dropped towels, the dark-screen phone cast aside. The side panels rising as bereted, aproned attendees duck under and in, silent, smiling, shifting like sidling snakes.

The flash of pointed teeth as their lips splay wide. 

The panic.

The joggers, the dog walkers, the writers and bound-in-love souls pounced on by newspaper reader, fake baby feeder, pretend phone scroller and others, knocked onto tables and to the ground, clawed and pawed, clothing torn, chests and necks exposed.

The yelping dogs that escape into the night as masters and mistresses shriek.

The box-cutter in your hand, your finger on the switch, the blade click–click-clicking forth. The fear, clutching your heart, like a pair of hands, throttling.

The image.

The hand on your forehead and the arm around your chest as you hold the blade out to defend. The unbalancing tug, the forced turn, the visage of evil, hovering close, like in a mirror. 

The beret. The crystal eyes, the gaping maw and teeth. The hypnotic stare that pulverises the fragments of your clay heart and causes your body to stiffen. The face craning close, the hot breath on your neck, the pop and puncture of flesh.

The memories. Broken glass, shouted insults, anger bloomed from the seeds of perceived failure.

Raised fists, temperatures, voices. Bruises and blood.

The teeth sinking in, cold, like daggers of ice. The frozen lips clamping to flesh with rubber-like suction. The precious source of life exsanguinating out.

Her face. Screaming her dismay. She gave you everything, all her trust and faith, her support. She believed in you, you let her down.

The death of love.

The box-cutter, propelled by instinct, blade slicing through tissue-thin flesh, serrated edge carving up gristle. The steaming, warm essence of all things that live washing over your hand, the gauze bandage stained red at last.

The chuckle in your throat as a monster drinks its fill. The realisation of futility as a monster surrenders. The smile on your lips, the roll of your eyes, the abandonment of hope and acceptance.

The curse of being a coward to the end.

The story, what was the story, what was it called.

The relief.

The story, the one that she wrote, the one about vampires.

The release.

The vampires who get their caffeine fix from blood.

The revulsion.

The blood that drains out of your veins now the story is yours.

September 22, 2023 23:52

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Belladona Vulpa
17:10 Sep 23, 2023

Quite descriptive! My assumption when reading it was the unreliable narrator trope, because I couldn't quite figure out all the facts. My guess is that most things following the conflict with his partner were in his imagination. We observe his perception of said disappointment or death of a relationship. People tend to attach meanings and interpretations like a filter, so it's interesting to see things from his filter, from his eyes into this world. I like the descriptions in the story!


18:24 Sep 24, 2023

Thanks Belladonna! I love your writing too so lovely to get a comment like this 😍


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Kevin Logue
09:03 Sep 23, 2023

Quite poetic Derrick, very visual with a deep sadness emanating from the MC. Unfortunately Poetics ain't my strong suit so let me know if I'm right here or way off the mark; Our MC has attempted suicide not too long ago after breaking up with his partner due to jealously over her success of his dream? Now that he is alone and miserable he is sitting watching all the things about life that he no longer feels are for him, friends, love, dreams, success? I'm a little mixed up on what happens next to be honest, does he attack the people in th...


09:06 Sep 23, 2023

Dude I don't even know myself 🤣 one of the prompts was to have an ambiguous ending so.... Also I've been sick all week and may have taken too much medication while writing this! I may revisit it today and maybe make things clearer. Did he accidentally kill his partner in a drunken rage? Is it really a pop up coffee joint run by some kind of vampires? Or is he imagining the story his partner wrote while he commits suicide?


Kevin Logue
09:35 Sep 23, 2023

Ha, well then if that's the case, it's perfect! I didn't even attempt one this week and I was perfectly healthy...to a degree of course.


09:38 Sep 23, 2023

It was a tough set of prompts. I wasn't going to either but missed last week too so felt I should give it a go. Haven't been having much inspiration of late maybe it's the change of season


Kevin Logue
11:05 Sep 23, 2023

It happens. I didn't even give them a second glance to be honest, was really pleased with last week's entry so decided this week will be for playing Fenyx Immortal Rising and reading the end of Red Country.


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08:55 Sep 23, 2023

Hmm. Don't know if this works. Wanted to try something different and snappy. Might continue to work on it though currently under the weather 😭


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Lauren Kawamoto
05:18 Sep 23, 2023

Wow, Derrick! Unbelievably descriptive and powerful. I love how you took a coffee shop scene and turned it into something else. The language is so complex and amazing. Keep it up, and can't wait to see the next one!


08:01 Sep 23, 2023

Thanks Lauren . So it reads ok then? Honestly I've been crazy busy at work all week and also sick so it was hard to concentrate. Really wasn't sure if this worked or not.


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