How Could You Do This To Us?

"Where the hell have you gone? We had a deal. A plan. You were supposed to be here, in the box, on the table, waiting for your turn to be locked into the puzzle."

"What's the problem?"

"What do you mean 'What's the Problem?' Do you not understand the pain you've caused us, buggering off like that. Not a word to anyone. No 'thanks and goodbye.' Nothing. You left us to do the whole thing only to end up one piece short."

"O-kaay. Sorry, I guess. I didn't realize it was that important to you?

"Didn't realize! How could you not realize? We spent over a week putting your puzzle together. We were careful. We kept things organized. We gave every piece a place to wait while we found their spot. We did everything we could to make this a good experience for you and for us and you screwed it up for everyone. 549 other pieces were able to follow the plan. But not you. No. You had to disappear on us. You had to let us all down. You had to waste all of our times.

"What's the big deal. It's just a stupid puzzle?"

"A stupid puzzle? Argh. Are you freaking kidding me? A stupid puzzle. Is the artist who created the image stupid? Are the factory workers who carefully cut you and your comrades into perfectly-coordinated shape stupid. Is the shopkeeper said who stocked you on their shelves stupid? And what about us? Are we stupid? Are we stupid for wanting to spend time together, to challenge ourselves, to do something other than stare at electronic screens while we're locked away in Coronavirus pandemic-induce home quarantine?

"Don't cry, for Christ's sake."

"I'm not crying. I'm. I'm. Okay, I'm crying a little. I'm just so frustrated. Do you even have an appreciation for how hard a puzzle is? It a laborious process to sort you all, to find the edges and the corners, to pull together sets of pieces that make up small parts of the whole puzzle. If you knew how many times we sat at the table scratching our heads trying to find that one piece that needs to fit in that one spot to finish that one section. Or how many nights we swore we were done for the evening only to have one more piece cry out to be placed. But you wouldn't understand, would you? You're a selfish, ungrateful little shit. You probably don't even appreciate the picture you're part of. You have no idea what you are."

"Wait a minute now. I don't appreciate you calling me dumb."

"Not dumb, per se. More like ignorant. I mean, what else could explain your insensitivity? Why would you abandon us, knowing you'd be leaving behind an unfinishable puzzle. Why? Why did you leave."

"I didn't mean to hurt you. Or the other pieces."

"Then why?"

"It just happened. I lay in the box, with all the other blue and white pieces. You left the lid off. I heard movement in the house, the sounds of life beyond the box. I felt the warmth from the sun through the window. A breeze blew through the screen door. A dog jumped onto the table and sniffed around us. I looked on your walls and saw that you had mounted a dozen finished puzzles. I could see the outlines of all the individual pieces that made up those puzzles. You had glued them together. And I felt overwhelmingly sad."

"So you just left? Without a word?"

"If you could see your future, and it looked like that, set and without your say, would you stay?"

"This isn't about me. It's about you?"

"Isn't it though? What does your future look like?"

"I have many possible futures."

"Do you see one where you're glued into the same spot forever, just one small piece imprisoned into someone else's picture?"

"This conversation took a turn in a direction I'm not entirely comfortable with."

"You do see it, right. You can visualize some version of your future where you played it safe, took no chances, ground it out working for others, pursuing safety and comfort and ended up unfulfilled. It's not pretty, is it?"

"That still doesn't excuse what you did. But I hear you. I can kind of see where you're coming from."

"I'm just trying to live my life. I don't want to have to follow someone else's pre-determined plan for my life. I want to create my own picture. Don't you want the same thing for yourself?"

"The dog ate you, didn't he?

(long silence, then...) "Yeah."


Short Stories – Release Two – For Family


Marsh and his team left Alpha for Delta Camp before sun-up. They hiked all morning without incident, but three hours after their lunch break, Garvin signaled danger and the three of them darted into the underbrush. From cover twenty yards off the trail Marsh, a three-share in the company, whispered, “What’s the problem?”

“Something is coming down the path,” Garvin said. “Right at us.” Garvin was a nine-share, a true executive, a member of the secretive board of directors. He was older than most people in the company, but still vital and strong. A leader. This was his mission.


“I heard voices. I can’t make out what they’re saying, but it was definitely voices.”

“Scaff?” Hatch, an edgy one-share and the youngest member of the team, said in a nervous whisper. “Oh man. I knew this would happen.”

Swirling gusts rustled the tree tops and made it hard for Marsh to hear. It took concentration, but he finally detected the voices; two men in casual conversation. As they grew closer, he picked up the stilted dialect of the company’s only competition for the resources on this planet.

Scaff was the slang term for the group, a name they used for themselves as well. Just like lower-level staff members referred to the company as a family because of the way the executive board exerted parental-style control over member’s lives. Meaning, you were asked to put the company first, above everything else in your life. Also because the company operated on insular networks that took loyalty and maneuvering to penetrate. Marsh had no taste for maneuvering. And the word family had too much meaning to him to use it so casually.

The scaff were really separatists. Mostly service staff - cleaning, kitchen, and maintenance crews - the scaff were a tight community of men, women, and their children who broke away from the company when they all became stranded on the planet. The scaff rebelled for the right to live free from company rule, a right they would never have earned on their shared home world. Marsh didn’t blame them, they were second-class citizens because they chose to work in service of the company class, marginalize and ill-treated.

The scaff were about to the section of trail where Garvin’s detail had jumped for cover. Their conversation seemed to be about a women they both knew. Intimately.

“They’ve been tracking us.” Hatch said, his body rigid with tension. He was propped over the top of a boulder. His rifle was aimed toward the trail.

“Shut the fuck up, or they’ll hear you,” Garvin hissed and yanked Hatch’s belt to pull him down. “Stay focused and let them pass.”

The conversation on the trail stopped. One voice asked clearly for the other to wait. Marsh listened as someone stumbled off trail in their direction. Then he heard the whoosh of urination. “Hurry the fuck up,” the other man said from the trail. Only when the first man finished, and his heavy footfalls began to recede, did Garvin relax his grip. “I am thinking of the mission,” Hatch hissed. The footsteps stopped. The two scaff exchanged words in a low and urgent tone. Garvin put a finger to his lips and shook his head slowly.

They listened for two minutes to wind noise and the scittering of wildlife. Then Garvin nodded at Marsh and Marsh unholstered his pistol. He cocked the trigger, muffling the sound with the palm of his hand. He edged to the corner of the boulder he had hidden behind. He peeked until he could see the trail. It was empty. He nudged forward. Still no scaff. He stood and leaned forward to get a better view. Satisfied, he turned back to his teammates. He got halfway through the phrase “All clear” when he was tackled from behind.

He hit the dirt with a slide, the weight of a large man furrowing him into the ground. A strong hand tattooed in an intricate pattern of whorls and dots trapped his wrist and hammered it against the ground until he released his pistol. He resisted as best as he could, but was immobilized by a thick forearm at the back of the neck.

“Relax, fuck face,” the man said, then started to rifle the pockets of Marsh’s jacket. Marsh thought of the satchel, which he wore under his long coat, and of what it contained. He wriggled to keep it trapped under his body and out of reach.

“Take what you want and be on your way,” he said to the man on his back.

“Shut your mouth,” the man barked. Then, to his companion, said. “Herc. Get those other packs.”

The second man, smaller than the the first, had Marsh’s teammates at rifle point. He ordered Garvin and Hatch to drop their packs. Like most scaff men, tattoos covered every exposed patch of skin.

“Where are you all going?” the man on Marsh’s back said.

Garvin started to answer but Marsh held up a hand. “Delta camp,” he said. “I’m a doctor. I’m needed there.”

“You from Alpha?”


“There are no medical provisions in your pack?” Marsh kept his mouth shut and his body against the satchel under his coat. The two men exchanged a look. “You look like an executive."

Marsh forced himself to not look in Garvin’s direction. “I’m just a medic. A member of staff.”

The bigger man narrowed his eyes. His hand hovered over the butt of his pistol. “What’s an executive doing traveling between camps with an armed escort?” Marsh focused on his breathing. He had sworn to protect the information in the satchel with his life if necessary. He didn’t want it to come to that.

“What do you think Herc? Is this the guy we’re looking for?”

Marsh formed his next sentence carefully, but then Hatch was already in motion, rolling toward his rifle. He came up in a crouch and got a shot off at one of the scaff. He missed, but not by much. The younger man sprinted for the nearest boulder. The man behind Marsh scrambled and started to bolt toward the trail. Hatch fired two more shots. One exploded a sapling just to the right of the running men. The second spat up a dramatic puff of dirt between the smaller man’s legs. The young scaff paused and returned fire. His shots pinged off the boulders and trees all around Hatch. Hatch retreated behind a rock, hugging his rifle.

“Stand down, dammit,” Garvin yelled.

Hatch took a deep breath, re-positioned his rifle stock against his shoulder, and steadied his aim against the rock face. He lined up on the running figures. Marsh hissed at him, “Boss says stand down, man. Don’t shoot.” Hatch calmly pulled the trigger twice.


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Short Stories – Release One – Christopher



by Steve Medcroft


Christopher knew they would be coming for him soon.

He sat on the wooden porch in front of the trailer with his back to the door. His head throbbed. He wore threadbare Ninja Turtles pajama bottoms and nothing else.

The television in the room behind him was left too loud as usual. It was tuned to a re-run of a five-year old episode of Saturday Night Live; two actors as mentally-challenged children annoyed a group of adults at a dinner party.

The trailer-park was dimly lit by the yellow light from the lamps out on the main road and the flashes of blue thrown through his trailer's doorway by the television. Christopher tapped the last Marlboro Lite out of a soft pack he had taken from Father's jacket pocket and fished a purple Bic lighter out of the front pocket of his pajamas. He held a flame to the tip of the cigarette. He lingered on the first draw and filled his lungs with the sweet smoke. He exhaled with a sigh. His head dropped with the weight of the past few moments. He noticed a three-dot spatter of blood just above the waistband of his pajamas, wiped it with his thumb, then put his thumb in his mouth. It tasted like a penny.

A car with an ill-tuned exhaust passed by on the street and he looked up again. Cool air tickled his skin. He shivered. He realized he hadn't felt anything in the last few minutes, like his mind was an appendage that had fallen asleep and it was just getting its feeling back.

Christopher knew his life had just changed in an irreversible way. He also knew that it was inevitable. His fourteen years of living led up to this one moment of fatal violence. He knew that from this moment forward, he would live a completely different life. A second life. He wasn't sad about this fact. He wasn't happy either. It just was. It couldn't have been avoided from the moment he awoke to who he who he really was, the day he figured out the difference between the existence he was living and the existence he was supposed to live.


"Hon, are you okay?"

Christopher recognized the voice. He'd seen and heard her through the kitchen window. She was a hunched, overweight, chain-smoker who always wore flowered housecoats and ran a daycare out of her trailer for the toddlers of park parents who worked during the week. Her trailer sat cat-corner to his. She stood in her doorway, lit harshly by her sharp porch light. He took another pull on the cigarette. His body started to vibrate, to buzz as she lumbered across the road. She hesitated at his bottom step and she looked him over. Her breathing was labored...


Read the entire story on STEVEMEDCROFT.COM...

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Succubus: a supernatural suspense thriller

Succubus: a supernatural suspense thriller

Logan Baker was just doing a favor for a dying relative, but when he enters a mysterious, fenced-off desert compound, he falls under the spell of an alluring but frightening entity calling itself Constance. Sick from her influence, his relative now missing, and with someone trying to burn his entire life to the ground, Logan's favor puts him in the fight of his life.

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