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8 Strange Stories

8 Strange Stories

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8 Strange Stories

103 Seiten
1 Stunde
Oct 6, 2015


8 Strange Stories explore the far fringes of outer space and the dark depths of the human soul, workplace terror and blasphemous horror, murderous cannibals and immaculate birth, vengeful robots and guardian angels. Includes a bonus story, “The Ballad of Smoke,” an excerpt from Rob Errera’s novel, Hangman’s Jam.

Oct 6, 2015

Über den Autor

Rob Errera is a writer, editor, musician, and literary critic. His fiction, non-fiction, and essays have earned numerous awards. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two kids, and a bunch of rescued dogs and cats. He blogs at, tweets @haikubob, and his work is available in both print and digital editions at all major online booksellers.

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8 Strange Stories - Rob Errera



Late, the 8:20 already rolling away from the curb, leaving a flatulent cloud of black diesel in its wake. It's raining, and the soles of Bill's shoes are slick as he trots the pavement. If he doesn't slow down, he'll fall on his ass. He already dropped a Danish in his lap this morning, and added a few new coffee stains to his tie. He looks like hell, and today is the big pitch meeting. Everybody will be there, all the bosses.

And he's late.

It takes forever for the 8:40. Bill gets on the bus, grateful to get out of the rain. Then he remembers he left his umbrella at home. It'll be a long, wet walk from the bus stop to the office.

He's drenched by the time he reaches the lobby of Adams Advertising, feet sliding on the marble tiles. Damn shoes! He makes his way toward the elevator bank, the doors sliding closed. Every second counts.

Wait! he calls. He doesn't see anybody in the elevator, but maybe there's a passenger obscured from view. If so, they ignore him. The doors continue to close. Bill mentally berates the imaginary passenger, and the elevator itself.

He lunges, sticks his arm between the closing doors. It's a long moment before the safety mechanism pulls the doors back. Bill panics, drops his briefcase. He bends to retrieve it, slips again, and stumble-staggers into the elevator, clutching the briefcase to his chest.

He is not alone .

Bill sees shoes first. Black boots, dried mud flaking from the wide tread. He looks up, past the green khakis, past the black jacket zipped up high under the neck, to the hard jaw set tight with tension, the angular cheekbones, the stone face.

Jerry! Bill's voice is tight with surprise. What brings you back here? Uh...leave something in your desk?

Hello, Bill, Jerry answers, eyes glassy, not right at all. I'm here on unfinished business.

You don't look so good, Jerry. You feelin' okay?

Fine, Jerry says. You?

I'm okay, Jerry. I'm good.  Bill hesitates. You know, Jerry, I don't think you're supposed to be here in the building. I thought you were supposed to turn in your access card.

Yeah, well, after today I won't need it.

A moment of uncomfortable silence.

Jerry, you look a little stressed out.

Cautious... cautious...Bill feels thin ice giving way beneath him.

Yeah, Jerry says. I am stressed out.

Are you sure you should go upstairs in this mood?  Bill says, laughing uneasily. It's a hollow, frightened sound in the confines of the elevator. Maybe you should cool down a bit.

I'm cool. Jerry's voice is even. I have unfinished business.

Jerry pulls up his jacket, enough to let the pistol grip peek over his waistband. Bill moans.

Oh, Christ, Jerry! You've flipped. You're going to shoot Adams! Probably McCrooger and Alps, too. Jesus!

Jesus is already dead, Jerry says. The others will be soon.

No, Jerry. You can't do this, Bill pleads.

Sure I can. Thirty seconds and we're on the eighth floor, Adams Advertising. Today's the big pitch meeting.  A smile plays on Jerry's lips. Your tie is stained, Bill. Hope you have a spare in your desk. You should make more of an effort to look better, Bill. A professional appearance  is  important. Ah, well, it won't matter after today anyway.

Bill reaches for the stop button, Emergency etched white on red beneath his fingertip.

Don't, Jerry says. I'll kill you now, and go up to the office anyway.

Please. Bill recoils as if burned. Jerry, I can't let you do this. I can't.

Why can't you? I'll get off on the eighth floor. You take the elevator back down. Jerry's eyes are murderous, but sincere. I have no problem with you, Bill. Let's keep it that way.

I can't let you kill my co-workers! My boss! Jerry, please...

I'm not going to kill everybody, Jerry says. Just a few. You know who.


I'm saving a bullet for myself.

Oh, God, Bill blubbers.

I was fired unjustly. Jerry's eyes are fixed on a vacant spot in front of him, watching a scene only he can see. It was a witchhunt. Everybody thinks I'm weird because I'm different.  His crazed eyes drift toward Bill. Do you know why they fired me?

Bill tries to shrug, but can only slump.

I heard you threatened one of the department managers, Bill says, adding,  But I didn't believe it. I never thought you were a threatening guy, Jer. I always thought you were okay.

Yes, Jerry says. That's why I'm letting you live. But the others must go.

Why? Because they weren't nice to you? Fear makes Bill's voice high, like he's pretending to be a girl. Because they wouldn't let you into their stupid circle? Is that really a reason to kill someone?

It's already decided. Jerry's voice is smooth, steady. Bill is lulled by it. Try to stop me, and I'll kill you. Let me go, and there'll probably be a nice promotion in it for you...once they clean up the mess.

Jerry, Christ, Bill murmurs. This is sick.

The world is sick. Justice is sick. I'm helping her get better. I'm doing my part. Jerry stares at the vacant spot again, apparently pleased by what he sees. Some individuals don't deserve to live. They've gotten the business of living all wrong. They must be fired. Myself included. Employment terminated.

Jerry... Bill begins, but the elevator stops. Eighth floor. Adams Advertising.

I'm out of here, Jerry says. Damn, this elevator is slow!

Steel doors slide open, and Jerry steps out. Beyond him, busy people work. The pitch meeting is already in progress in the conference room at the end of the hall. Everyone's there.

Jerry turns to Bill.

First floor. Push the button, Bill. Go down.

Bill reaches out and presses one until it lights, a little halo around his fingertip. The doors slide closed, taking Jerry and his co-workers away, invisible in a world of bad days and random chance.

Lord, help me. Bill's voice is barely a whisper.

The elevator is halfway down before the first shots ring out, a roar like brooding thunder, the gavel of a divine judge.

Descending, Bill considers a window office...maybe the big one in the corner.


I – Eve Takes A Bite

They say pregnant women glow, but I

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