A little while ago I wrote a short story for the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future Contest". I did not win, and I know why, my story is really more horror than Science Fiction or Fantasy. But I decided that I will post each chapter here on my blog. There are 37 very short chapters, for a total of 15,000 words, about a fifth of a modern novel. Here is the start.
Ernie was not from town. He was there for no particular reason. Driving through because he decided not to go via highway or free way to his vacation spot (a bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere), he had decided at some point to stop, have some lunch, take in local color, and do very little. But for some reason this village seemed quieter than he was used to and, aside from watching a young woman getting loaded into an antique of an ambulance a few minutes ago, nothing had been anything other than a bore.
The village was quaint; a few stop lights, businesses and cafes built into ancient brick structures built to last in an area that didn't have weather powerful enough to force a renovation in local architecture, as it lacked tornadoes, hurricanes or even wildfires. All the store fronts seemed to denote themselves as the sort of stores he never visited and never heard of, nor seen anyone else visit, and couldn't figure out how they stayed open. He had wanted Taco Bell for lunch. Instead he got this empty diner.
Ernie liked remote places. He had his own cabin, he went boating in the Gulf of Mexico, hunting in Canada, and he did most of his business over the phone when he wasn't skiing by himself. But in this place, Ernie felt lonely.
Being unable to remember the last time he had seen the waitress, Ernie decided abruptly to leave, the empty coffee cup and plate signaling that he was done trying to get any local color and wanted to part ways with the place. “Check, please.” Ernie had decided he was getting the hell out of this town. But after several minutes of sitting and not seeing or hearing a waitress, his thoughts began to focus more on deducting money from the tip.
“I’m looking for a check here,” he was a little more aggressive now, being the only person in the restaurant he should be getting first class service, being rich he half expected the waitress to be hitting on him in hopes of him taking her away from it all. Nothing moved.
“I’m just going to leave some money on the table.” What’s a twenty, he thought. Then he heard something, a giggle, from the door leading to the kitchen, and decided to put on his angry you-treat-customers-with-such-little-respect face, and complain.
Ernie walked up to the door, puffed up his chest slightly, pushed the door open and then, not believing what he saw, let the door slowly close. He then pushed the door open again, saw again what he could not believe, and shut it anon. He shuddered, looked back on a life full of accomplishment in the field of business and travel, wished he hadn’t lost contact with his brother so many years ago, wished he hadn't signed away his son in the divorce, and tried to run as fast as he could out the diner.
Ernie never even made it to his third step.