I am delighted to welcome John Howell to the festival with his short story The World Darkly.
Frank is cycling on the beach and sees something shining in the sand. He hopes it might be of value, but is disappointed since it is only a pair of sunglasses. He gets off the bike and picks them up. He turns them over and notices they are finely made not like the usual junk people throw away. He finally opens them and on the inside of one of the ear pieces are the words The World Darkly in gold. Must be the slogan, he thinks. Frank looks around to see if anyone has noticed him pick them off the beach. There is only an old couple pretty far away walking in his direction. He wonders if they are coming back to get them. Frank is worried. He stuffs them into his parka pocket and continues the ride. Before he gets home; he is having second thoughts, and maybe he should turn the glasses into the police. He decides against it. “Finder’s keeper’s loser’s weepers;” he tells himself.
After a hot dog dinner, Frank suddenly remembers the glasses in the pocket of his parka in the closet. He gets them and puts them on in front of his mirror in his bedroom. To his surprise, he cannot see himself through the lenses and whips them off to make sure it is not he who has disappeared. This is strange; he thinks and puts the glasses on again. Although he cannot see himself, he is able to see some unusual symbols crawling around the inside of the lens. They are moving quickly, and Frank touches the top of the frame since he thinks it might be a good idea to take these things off.
As his finger meets the frame, the symbols stop moving. Removing his finger causes the symbols to begin crawling again. “I can control them,” he says. Then he repeatedly touches the frame and then not. He is convinced this is the movement that controls the movement of the symbols. He also experiments and sees that a light touch slows the symbols and a heavy touch stops them. Frank does not know what the symbols mean, but he is glad that they are under his control.
Frank takes the glasses off and reaches for his phone. His parents gave him an iPhone, so he decides he is going to look up one of the symbols on Google to see if there is an answer. He touches Safari and types in the symbol that he remembers which is a T. The answer comes back quickly that T stands for AT&T and it is the symbol for the New York Stock exchange information on the company. He sees that the stock is priced at thirty-three dollars and twenty-one cents. He does not understand any more of the information but is satisfied that the found out what the symbols mean. He will test others later, but for now, he is satisfied he has broken the code.
Frank puts the glasses back on and sees that the symbols are crawling past again. He slows them down until he comes to T once more and stops. Underneath T, there is what looks like a price and a fraction. The price below T is thirty-five and seven eights. In high school, he learned that seven eights are almost one so he is assuming the stock is priced at almost thirty-six dollars. That can’t be right, he thinks. I just looked on Google, and the price was Thirty-three dollars and twenty-one cents. Maybe these numbers on the glasses aren’t prices.
He sees a day and date in the upper right-hand corner. The day is Thursday, and the date is February fourteenth, twenty-seventeen. Frank quickly removes the glasses. Today is Wednesday, February thirteenth and he suddenly realizes these glasses are telling him information about tomorrow. He puts them back on and finds T again. “Sure enough,” he says. “This number is the price tomorrow.” He scans for more information, and in addition to stock prices, he also sees there are news headlines.
The headline jumping out at him contains the information about one winning ticket sold for the Mega Millions jackpot. Further, the story identifies the prize as five hundred million dollars. He is able to scroll down like he did with the stock symbols and comes to the winning numbers. He picks up a pencil and writes the numbers on the back of a paper bag found on his dresser; 3-4-5-18-22-31. Frank is about ready to bust knowing these are the winning numbers for tonight’s drawing. Although he doesn’t know how he has the winning numbers. He looks at his watch and knows he must hurry in order to get to the convenience store to enter the drawing. He curses taking so long to look at the glasses until so late.
He jumps into his car and heads to the convenience store cursing the whole way at the slowness of other drivers. He finally slides to a stop at the store, rushes in and grabs a ticket to fill out. “Where’s a pencil?” he says. The girl behind the counter points to one on a chain. He writes the numbers and hands the slip and a dollar to the girl.
“It is after eight o’clock. Drawings close at eight.”
“Damn. Can’t you make an exception? I will make it worth your while.”
“I’m sorry the machine locks up at eight, and no more tickets can be issued.”
“Wait,” he thinks. I can still use the glasses to score some cheap stocks next week and the Texas Lotto on Tuesday. Frank tells the girl she will be sorry when she reads about him in the newspaper. She gives him a puzzled look, and he leaves the store deep in thought. Frank is not paying attention and steps in front of a car whose driver does not see him in the glare of the lights. He is hit and rolls into the bushes in front of the store and smashes his head on the brick facade. Frank is no longer of this world
After the police and EMS leave, a car pulls up to the front of the store. The driver gets out and sees something shining in the bushes. He goes to investigate and picks up a pair of sunglasses. He looks at them and runs his finger on the gold embossed words The World Darkly on the earpiece. He looks around to see if anyone is watching and then stuffs them into his jacket pocket. He wonders if he should turn them in, but decides he should not.
“Finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers,” he says. He thinks no one heard him.
About John W. Howell.
John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes thriller fiction novels and has a number of short stories published in various on-line magazines. One of his short stories has been recognized by Writers Digest in the Popular Fiction Writing contest.
His novel, My GRL published by Martin Sisters Publishing and is the first of many exciting adventures of the book’s central character John J. Cannon. The second, His Revenge published by Keewaydin Lane Books is now available in Paperback and Kindle formats. He has recently published the third book in the series, Our Justice.
John has a wonderful blog where he entertains with short stories and also shares the changing face of his world along the coast of Texas.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C
Read more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell
My thanks to John for contributing this great story to keep you entertained while I am away.
Connect with John.
Blog Fiction Favorites, http://www.johnhowell.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241
Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave
Authors db – http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/
Google + https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/
I would be grateful if you would share John’s short story on your own networks and thank you for dropping in today. Thanks Sally