Sample of Gramps, A Short Story

Sample from Gramps, a short story, by Ernie Howard

“I’m not asleep, boy. Just resting my eyes,” Gramps said.

Gramps had said this since Tate was little. It was like his grandpa thought taking naps were a sign of weakness.

“I didn’t think you were, Gramps, just had a catch in my throat,” Tate said. He was trying to hide the mischievous smile that was threatening to show itself.

“Ya, sure. And I’m a springy young boy, prancing through a meadow of flowers,” Gramps said.

Same old Gramps. The man was on death’s door and still, the sarcasm flowed out of his mouth like honey on a warm summer day. “How are you feeling, Gramps?”

“You know, that’s the problem with your generation. Always wanting to know how everyone feels. Well, Tate my boy.” Gramps paused and smiled a mischievous smile that looked very similar to Tate’s a moment ago. “I feel like shit. I happen to be dying.” Gramps let out with a raspy laugh that turned into a coughing fit. Tate looked around for a Kleenex or cloth but couldn’t find one in the vicinity. Gramps was shooing him away with his left hand and wiping his mouth with his sheet with his right hand. Tate sat back into his chair and waited for his grandpa to settle before he started up the conversation again.

“You know what I meant, Gramps,” Tate said.

Gramps put his hand up to stop him. “I know Tate, just giving you some grief. Enough with the pleasantries, son. Let’s get to the point, why I wanted to see you before I die.”

         Tate looked at his grandpa’s wrinkled face. The general facial features said old, but Gramps’ eyes danced and were full of fire that his own had never held. The man had something important to say. “I’m here Gramps.” He reached out for his Grandpa’s hand. Gramps grabbed Tate’s hand and squeezed. He was surprised at the strength his Grandfather still possessed. The old man sighed and patted Tate’s hand, his smile left.

I need you to believe everything I am about to say. It’s not going to be a long spiel, just a declaration, and some instructions. All I ask is that you believe it because I have never lied to you. Can you do that for me?”

This short story was originally published in Tales from the Canyons of the Damned #16

Sample of Nurse Doe, A Night portals Short Story

Sample from Nurse Doe, A Night Portals Short Story

“They won’t be back for…” She stopped and looked at her wrist. A digital clock appeared on her skin, making Jeff intake a sharp breath. He’d never seen anything like it before. It pulsed the time just under her skin. “Exactly one hour and twelve minutes and nineteen seconds from now.” The nurse looked up at Jeff and smiled making him feel soft all over his body.

“Who are you? What did you do to Steven?”

The nurse put her hand up as if she were warding off bad spells. “I’m Madison.” She said. 

The woman had stopped Jeff in his tracks, and it made him fall even more madly in love with her. “My names…”

“Jeff Proctor. You are thirty-seven years old. You used to be a carpenter, but you got sick. You enjoy good books and your dog, and both of your parents passed away two years ago. Your mom two months after your dad. Your sister is your best friend, and if you don’t close your mouth right now your tongue is going to get really dry.” Madison laughed.

Jeff closed his mouth and smiled. “Wow. How do you know all of that?” Normally he would have been creeped out, but he liked that she knew all those things about him.

“I know many more things about you, Jeff. The other thing I know is that you have Pancreatic Cancer. And that it is basically uncurable in this time and place. That’s why the next thing I’m going to tell you is going to hurt so much.” Madison looked sad and she averted her eyes from Jeff’s. “I mean if you were on the list…” She patted the bed next to Jeff’s knee.