Writers reflected on blizzards and moons, third shifts and night guards, nightmares and daymares. Some writers captured the anxiety of wakefulness, insomnia and the revision process.
This week’s compilation is based on the January 21, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a 2 a.m. story.
Moon Walk by Phil Guida
It was late when we decided to walk the tree lined path between the corn and soy bean fields. What was once Tall Grass Prairie and Lakota legend, was now just southwestern Minnesota farm country.
The farm lay on the outer boundary of a wildlife refuge. As we reached the end of the path, the moon began rising from the flat earth, larger than I have ever witnessed. An enormous orange globe rising late in the July heat. There were stories told and songs enough to fill our small forest. Times of the past still alive at 2 a.m.
Francesco Speaks by Tally Pendargon
“What if the crucifixion and the resurrection were kidnapped and badly reworked fictions put about to control the world order?”
2am, and Mother Moon is perilously close to full point! But Francesco’s words make me look at him with eyes that burn; it’s as if the scales fall from them, and I’m seeing him for the first time.
“What if the crucifixion and resurrection were indeed events in a much greater plan, the details of which have long been lost to all but a select few … a Plan that’s in need of Someone able to reject the false creeds?”
Christmas Morning, Almost by Roger Shipp
“Shhh…” They cautiously rounded the corner together peeping.
“If you two are not in bed and asleep in the next thirty seconds, I will dial Santa’s Workshop. Rudolph will make a U-turn. All these presents will go right back to the North Pole.”
“No!” Both kids made a mad dash from the living room, back the hallway, and jumped into bed.
“Goodnight, Alisa,” clutched teddy bear in one arm and the pillow tightly over his head.
“Goodnight, Kyle.” carefully covering herself head to toe with the blankets and bedspread.
In moments, soft snuffles could be heard… until morning.
Wakefulness by Norah Colvin
One moment deep asleep. Next, upright; breath still; ears intent; staining to hear above her pounding heart.
Nothing. Just the familiar: fan whirring, palm frond swishing against the house.
Must investigate: bravely, fearfully.
With limbs trembling, palms sweating and mouth dry, she eases her legs out of the bed, puts her feet on the floor, pushes herself up and pads to the window.
Peeking out she scans the yard, illuminated by the full moon.
Nothing. A dream?
She pads back to bed. 2am.
“Ooh! Only three hours!” She closes her eyes, wishing hopelessly for sleep until morning’s liberation.
On the Ceiling by Pat Cummings
I use a dragon-writer, see, because these stories keep me awake at night. In the light, in the daytime, I can hold them at bay. But at night, they crowd so close! I set the mike on the pillow beside me, and when I wake in a sweat of words, it is ready, and I begin.
As I speak, the letters stream red across the ceiling, once-upon-a-time and Gerald-was-not-a-hero and I-remember-Manderley. Though the stories always seem to end with “2 a.m.”.
This is a better system than the keyboard. I can’t type so well anymore.
Not in the straight-jacket.
2 a.m. Cuts by Anne Goodwin
I crouch on the stairs, hunched over my laptop. My fingers fly across the keys, pausing intermittently to press the Stanley knife to my arm.
The scene refused to let me sleep. At two a.m., I got up and made coffee.
The blade glints, reflecting the streetlight. I picture a ruby spot cloning itself over and over, beads on a rosary spreading out to form a line. I imagine the brassy taste, the searing pain.
An owl hoots. I click save and shut down my computer. My sleeve is smeared with blood. In the real world, I call 999.
2AM by Ruchira Khanna
The clock struck 2AM
Took a big yawn as I dragged myself from the couch, after saving my work. Mind was still occupied by my character, Lennard, who was trying hard to cope with his wife’s demise.
I was taking baby steps towards my bedroom while trying to find a solution on how to help him cope, just then I heard a loud thumping and banging. I ducked and crawled towards the noise.
Peeped out the window to hear humming as loud as a bee. Confused, I focused on the noise, saw droplets of water sprinkling all over.
Deeper Than the Witching Hour by Geoff Le Pard
What woke her, she couldn’t say. Sitting on the toilet, peeing away her dreams, Mary sensed movement in the shadows from the street light. ‘Hallo?’ Who said that?
Some part of her fugged brain told her to be scared, but she wasn’t. Whoever spoke was friendly. How did she know the speaker was a she?
‘Hallo Mary. It’s Sharon.’
But you’re dead.
‘Not to you’
No. Where are you?
‘I’m here. I’ve always been here. That’s what twins do. Stay close.’
How did you die? How…?
‘Mary, Mary. Wake up. Why are you shouting? Who’s died?’
Daymare by Sanford Mulrune
The time in Freya’s field of vision persisted even after she figured out how to disable all other displays. It was 2 a.m. and the errant sun beamed down from the center of the sky.
Broken aspects of her interface were echoed by the inconsistencies in the ersatz world. She hoped her uncle would retrieve her from the emergency simulation.
Exit depended on her surgery’s success. She needed a body to return to. The longer she waited under the spinning sun, the more she realized her uncle would never come.
The simulation was a tomb for her disembodied consciousness.
Furry Dreams by Amber Prince
The fur lined blanket pressed against my face, blocking air flow. My mouth opened to scream but it felt as if it were filled with cotton balls. I was gouged in the eye by a small clumsy moving object only to have my nose flattened once again.
The sadistic bastard was going to kill me while my husband was snoring beside me, ignoring the battle of my demise.
There was a reprieve of pressure and I gasped for air, finally knocking the fat cat free from its resting spot. The clock read 2a.m., tomorrow night I was sleeping alone.
2am Flash Fiction by Irene Waters
Janice sat bolt upright, glancing at the clock. Two am. Quietly, to not wake her sleeping partner, she rose. It had come to her. Funny how that often happened. Sleeping freed her brain. Floating on air with happiness, she crept to the office to record her epiphany.
She stumbled over the sleeping dog but managed to steady herself, gaining bruises as she bumped her way through the dark house. Bang. Something hit her in the head before falling with a clatter to the ground.
“Your bloody golf club.”
She reached the computer. Now what was it?
Early Bird by Larry LaForge
Edna gets up, puts on her bathrobe, and heads to the kitchen. Not again, she thinks.
“Hey sleepyhead,” Ed says. “You almost slept through lunch.”
“Ed, it’s 7 AM.”
“That’s what I’m sayin’. You almost slept through lunch.”
Ed the insomniac rises daily at 2 AM, fixes himself breakfast, and hangs out in the garage with his various woodworking projects. He’s usually snoring away when the “late” news starts at 6 PM.
“You’re killing me, Ed.”
“That’s why we’re gonna have a nice romantic candlelight dinner.”
“Yup! Got us dinner reservations at Soby’s for 1 PM today.”
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Third Shift by Sarah Brentyn
Tangled in the sheets, he ran his fingers through her long, red hair. A car door slammed.
“Holy crap. My husband’s home!”
“He works third shift. I didn’t… You have to go. Now! Out the back.”
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”
“Right. Because you seem like the type who would have said ‘no’ if you knew.”
“Hmm. You’re right. I wouldn’t have cared that you’re married. But you should have told me. Have you told him?”
He glared at her.
“Have you?” She repeated, smirking. “What’s your hubbie going to think of me?”
Nightshift by Pete Fanning
The dancing lights filled his rearview mirror. Kent dragged his mustang to a stop, snatching his registration from the dashboard. A large figure emerged.
“Hey Carl, what was it, one or two miles an hour over?”
“License and registration please.”
Kent handed it over. “Look Carl, I really need to—“
Late again. The third time since his demotion to nightshift by his ex-father-in-law. Kent lit a smoke and spat.
Officer Gibbons returned. “Slow it down.”
“Gee, thanks Carl.”
The cop tipped his hat. Kent sped away, still cursing the day he ever met the cop’s sister.
Halloween Blizzard by Paula Moyer
Jean was a volunteer labor companion. The mom went into labor during the 1991 Halloween blizzard. Already at the hospital.
After taking her kids trick-or-treating in snowsuits, Jean picked up Grandma in the fishtailing rear-wheel-drive pickup.
Baby born right before midnight. Mom OK; grandmother babbling and OK, baby’s dad long gone.
The trip home commenced at bar time. Truck skidded through thick falling snow. Jean gripped the wheel to avoid drunk pedestrians.
2 a.m.: Grandma deposited back home in bad neighborhood. Pickup failed to start, then did. Slide, slide home.
3 a.m.: home.
8 a.m.: Snow Day.
The Night Guard by Charli Mills
Slim’s body slackened in the saddle. He jerked awake, hearing a voice in the darkness.
“Don’t fall asleep during the Dead Time, Slim. The Devil might scatter the herd.”
Slim stiffened. Not at the superstitious nonsense, but the fact Father McAdie caught him dozing on night guard.
“It’s a quiet night, Father. Cattle are bedded down easy as lambs beneath twinkling stars.”
“Tis for you to watch the cattle. For me to tend to Kincaid’s flock.”
Slim grimaced at the flash of flint. It was 2 a.m. and Father McAdie was launching into one of his long pipe-puffing sermons.
New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!