Friday, November 15, 2013

The Paper - A Friday Flash Horror Story

Everybody dreaded getting the newspaper. But like a good little herd of sheep, every morning, everyone who was old enough to read, stood in line in the three places the paper was given out - the central grocery store, the post office on the other side of town, and the largest church, adjacent to the state park.
Everyone hesitated to look at the obituaries at the end of the publication, but they all ended up doing so, no matter which ritual they compiled to get there, or how many distractions where in their day.
They all looked, just like my parents did, everyday, waiting until we were home, where we sat around the table. My father overlooked the procedure, being the one who quietly read each name as it showed itself upon that dreadful page.
No one wanted to see their name there.
No one wanted to see the name of a loved one there.
Because the paper knew.
It knew when it was your time to die.

This morning, like any other, he was reading quietly, sipping the cup of coffee Mom provided for, each and every time, freshly brewed, moved into the fine china our Grandmother had brought from Germany. The delicate handles never hid the slight shaking of his hand, and the smile of relief he gave all of us, when none of our names where listed.
Another day living without the burden of death.
His expression on this morning was different.
He starred at me, a deep stare, one what questioned but one that also knew that I had been watching him. Closely.
He quickly rose up, leaving the paper behind, moving out of the room, as I grabbed it, frozen by the words in front of me, in the silence of dinning table.
“Dr. Wayne Duncan, 52, will be put to rest at the Cornerstone Baptist Church, together with his wife Sherry Duncan 43. The couple will be missed by their three children, Mary, Jennifer, and Jackson.”
In a move to keep the sight from my younger siblings, I pulled it closer and turned it, only to be shocked by its headline.
“Two dead in murder-suicide. Prominent West-End Doctor beats his wife to death, then shoot and kills himself.”


  1. Ouch, nothing like having your dark thoughts confirmed. I wonder if anyone tries to stop a murder. Of course, murder avoided wouldn't show up in the paper to announce it in the first place.

    Fun, I like time-twister stories.

    1. true - I am glad you enjoyed it - have a wonderful weekend, David!

  2. Nice concept a paper that tells you the future - the question that really lies in my mind is that if you knew that, would you read it? Good story with a chill to its edge.

    btw found a typo for you: ' name of a loved one their.' should be there yes?

    1. yes indeed it should be, thank you for catching that! Glad you liked the story. I pictured the reading as a compulsion, no one wanted to, but everyone did, and if one would not show up, everyone would be talking about them. Thanks for stopping by, Helen - have a great weekend!

  3. A great idea at work here Claudia, I don't envy these people their way of life though, it's better not to know when it's your turn, or how it's going to happen.

    1. thank you Steve - I don't envy them either. I am happy to not know some things, which is exactly the reason I explored the "what if".

  4. Oooh, I could see this being developed into something longer. And while the headline was horrifying, it somehow also rang false -- as if someone were going to fake the murder-suicide and frame the father/doctor. Which, of course, makes it just even more scary.

    1. I was actually considering to make it longer, Katherine, but I have a Dark Fantasy series I am working on right now, so any side project has to fit in a much shorter frame. Maybe one day. That the headline could be fake is good idea, thanks for stopping by!