The Short Stories
The short stories of Judah Lamey,
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
Bad Luck in the Morning
by K. Daniels
The morning should have started off like any other morning for K Daniels.
But it didn’t.
K opened their front door to the sight of a dead black rabbit laying across their doormat.
K froze looking down at the poor creature. Sweat beaded up on K’s hands as they took in the glassy eyes. Air seemed to get trapped in their lungs the longer they stared down at the open mouth - a silent scream.
One thought consumed K: They've been found.
“K? Everything alright?” J’s voice echoed from the kitchen, forcing K back into action.
“Yeah babe, just taking in the view,” K lied, taking a quick peek to make sure J stayed in the kitchen. K didn’t want J to see the dead bunny. “Are you going to stop by the shop today?”
“Maybe,” J sighed, coming out of the kitchen. K subtly closed the door a fraction to keep the tragedy out of sight. “I was going to stop by the community center or something to see if they had job postings. Or you can ask Mayor Lombard if she stops in for coffee!”
“Perhaps, but she’s a bit of a night owl and she’s a very busy woman.”
“C’mon sweetheart, I would love to be the city historian! Or what about a history teacher! I would be a good teacher!”
A real smile was brought to K’s lips, “Yes, you’d be an excellent teacher. But the shop is doing well! You could actually start that alternative history novel you’ve been wanting to write…”
“Perhaps,” J mimicked in a playful tone.
“Think about it, and stop by later if you can. I love you.” With their goodbye out of the way, K backed out of the door to hide the macabre scene outside.
When the door was firmly shut, K silently swore as adrenaline started up again. K had to get rid of the rabbit and J must never know about it. J would think it was their fault and then try to fix the situation. But that’s how they ended up in Quillville.
K stooped down to pick up the animal but the sight of a red ribbon tied around it’s throat made them stop.
There were familiar symbols written on it.
K swore again.
Looking around, K saw the shovel from the garden leaning against the garage. Swiftly, K grabbed the shovel and tried to scooped up the rabbit. But, when the metal of the shovel came into contact with the fur, it sparked. The charge caused a buzzing heat to travel through the handle into K’s hands.
“You can’t be serious!” K growled, the shock made K drop the shovel and the rabbit into the grass. More angry than scared now, K jogged into the garage and grabbed rubber gloves from the messy work table.
Before attempting to pick up the shovel or the rabbit again, K put the gloves on. This time, K didn't feel the sharp shock when they picked up the shovel handle. A crackling sound still emitted from the rabbit as K moved quickly to the truck bed. Unceremoniously, K dumped the rabbit into the back of the truck and covered it with a moving blanket.
K peeled off the gloves as they hopped into the cab of the truck and backed out of the driveway.
K and J only moved to Quillville a couple of months ago but didn't waste time. In their first week, they set up The Good Ideas Bookstore and The Bad Decisions Coffee Bar. Both were surprised how well it was received by the community, but K couldn’t have been happier with the shop.
Half of the shop was a bookstore. They stocked the shelves with books written by the local and Indie authors. The other half of the shop was primarily a coffee bar. But they did serve a small menu of food items.
In the back of the shop was a small fenced in patio that was more like a jungle. It held private seating areas along the fence line - some of which were hammocks. In the center was a small round stage for readings, open mic nights, and live music. J found a clever way to hang fairy lights around and above the patio for a whimsical ambience. Both K and J were excited to see how it would look in the fast approaching fall.
But K couldn’t think about their wonderful little shop at the moment.
They had a dead, cursed, black rabbit in the back of their truck to worry about.
K’s drive into the city was a quick one. To save valuable parking spaces for coffee-loving and book-worshiping patrons, K parked the truck in the alley behind the patio.
After digging the keys out of their pocket, K unlocked the patio door, half hidden by ivy.
Many of the citizens were surprised by how well things grew around the shop and would ask
K what their secret was. K would always shrug and say “I have good plant juju.”
K made their way through the patio flora and unlocked the back door to the shop.
On any other morning, K would turn on the machines and lights and the stove as they walked through the shop. But this morning, K walked straight to the old school rotary phone hanging behind the counter. K pulled out the Quillville phone directory and found the number they needed.
K dialed the numbers slowing. With each round of numbers, the ancient phone emitted a heavy ticking sound. K would normally find that sound comforting. But the sound only delivered a growing sense of dream with each tick.
The phone rang twice before a gruff voice answered, “Glint,”
“Glint, it’s K from the Choices Shop, you know, Good Ideas Bookstore -”
“Bad Decisions Coffee, yeah K. Why are you calling? Shouldn’t you be open by now?” His voice was even, but didn’t quite hide the curiosity in it.
“Yeah, I’m opening in a moment. I was running late because a present was left on my doorstep this morning.”
“Doesn’t sound like a good present.”
“It wasn’t,” K pinched the bridge of their nose with a sudden exhaustion. “Could you stop by the shop this morning? Feel free to bring Monty.”
“I’ll see you soon, K.”
“Thanks Glint,” K hung up the phone.
K turned and looked around the shop, still dark. A new ticking caught their attention. K's eyes floated up to the giant clock across from the counter. It read 5:45.
K swore for a third time that day.
Like a whirlwind, K set to work getting the shop ready to open. First turning on all the coffee machines, espresso maker, the steamers, the stove. Then taking chairs down off tables and making sure the napkin dispensers were filled. It took some coaxing to get the computer and cash register awake. The last thing K did was say good morning to all the books.
When K flipped the sign on the glass door to open, there was a small line waiting - the 6am Writers Club. The writers tried to convince K to open the shop at 5am so they could be the 5am Writers Club. Yet, to everyone's surprise, K was not a morning person. J was the only reason K made it to work on time. J was the morning person in their relationship.
“Running late this morning?” they jested as they joined some of the tables together for their group.
K politely laughed, “Yeah, J made me breakfast in bed,” K gave them a hardy wink that sent them into giggles. “Do y’all want the usual? A kettle of green tea, two black coffees, and an Irish Coffee made with the good stuff.”
Irish Coffee was a lovely older woman with twinkly brown eyes, “Yes dear, that would be lovely.”
K nodded and set to work on their orders.
It was when K was filling up a tea strainer with a custom blend of green tea, did the chimes on the door rang their alert. K glanced up. A tall figure casually glided through the shop with a confidence you'd see in a Noir film.
“Good Morning, Deputy Mayor Glint,” K faked the brightness in their voice. “I’ll be right with you.”
"You don't need to call me by my title, K." Glint said as he strode the length of the counter and perched at one of the far bar stools.
K waved of the comment as they completed the orders and called the writers to enjoy their drinks.
Before going over to Glint, who was also a Private Investigator, K went to the rail display of alcohol. After a moment, K grabbed the same whiskey used for Irish Coffee's order.
What could K say? The woman had good taste.
Bottle in hand, K moved back to the other end of the counter where Glint waited. Along the way, K picked up two handmade mugs, a small espresso cup, and three small spice jars.
K placed one of the mugs and the espresso cup in front of Glint.
Uncorking the whiskey, K gestured to the cup in front of him.
Glint waved a declining hand.
"Don't mind if I do, then," K muttered and splashed a healthy pour of whiskey into the second mug.
K held up a finger before turning around to the wall of jars filled with various coffee beans. K settled on a strong but seasonal one. They scooped the beans into the grinder. Before hitting the blend button, K added a pinch from each of the spice jars: cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Satisfied with the custom blend, K hit the button.
With the noise as a cover up, K leaned over to Glint and quickly said, “I need your help. Someone left a dead rabbit on our doorstep this morning and the red ribbon around its neck has a curse on it.”
The grinder stopped and Glint stared at K. Unsure if he was in shock or completely unfazed by the situation, K went back to the grinder, put the grounds into a coffee maker, and jabbed the brew button. When K turned back to the PI, he said in a low voice, “Why don’t you start from the beginning,”
K nodded towards the 6am Writers Club.
Glint glanced over and saw that Black Coffee #2 and Kettle of Green tea were watching them.
"Follow my lead unless you want this conversation to be story fuel," K whispered.
Glint sat back and K took that as acceptance.
K called out to the writing group, “My lovely writers, can you man the fort for me? Just for a quick minute? Deputy Mayor Glint here wants to check out the patio. He’s thinking of renting
it out for a party.”
Black Coffee #1 saluted K. “Aye Aye Captain!”
“Thanks, it’ll just be a minute!”
K walked out from behind the bar and Glint followed.
When they were both in the safety of the patio, Glint coughed, “Nice lie,”
“Well you could rent the patio for a night,”
Glint ignored the statement. “So why would someone leave a dead rabbit on your doorstep?”
“How much do you know about J and I?”
K watched the gears turn behind Glint’s eyes. “Honestly not much. You two bought that quaint fixer upper on the edge of the city, opened this joint up fast, and you make a great cup of coffee. You have a good book selection too.”
K nodded and felt the frown deepening into their features. “Well to make a long story short, we had to leave our old town.”
“And why did you have to leave,” the tone of his voice indicated he didn’t like where this was going.
“We uncovered some shady business with a coven of witches while I was helping J research the town history. They didn’t like that we knew what they were up to and were afraid we’d publish our findings.”
“So you ducked out of town?”
“Pretty much, we left everything behind - our house, our jobs, our lives, even our names…”
Glint raised an eyebrow.
“Names have power,” K shrugged.
“So that’s why you go by K and J goes by J.”
“Yeah,” K nodded, “We made a deal with a powerful wizard to erase our names from history.”
“So the rabbit this morning…”
“A message from the coven. They found us and I don’t know how. I kept it from J, I didn’t want them to worry.” K paused and looked at the back gate, “It’s in the back of my truck bed if you want to check it out for yourself. Just don’t touch it, it’ll shock you.”
“Shock me because it’s so eviscerated?”
“No, it will actually shock you with an electrical charge. I do have rubber gloves in the cab if you want to pick it up. Do you think Blue over at the science museum would know who how discharge a rabbit?”
“I have to say K, this is one hell of a thing to drop on me this early in the morning.”
K twisted the simple silver band on their ring finger. They didn’t want to leave town again, they were building a home here, a future here. K looked up at Glint, determined. “I know, but I don't need much. If you could put me in contact with anyone that could help, the Red Quill or even a friendly werewolf, that would be fine. I know you are busy, especially with the
Animal Crackers suspect.”
"Right, I'll need more coffee for this. Also are we talking about, taking care of them." Glint gave a slow wink. "Or actually taking care of the situation and coming to some peaceful outcome? I'm down for both, just working out the bill in my head."
K managed a bark-like laugh. “Honestly I don’t know how I want this to end. But I know I want it to end and I will do whatever is necessary to protect my family and the life we are building here.”
“Whatever is necessary? You sure you want to go down that road?”
“C’mon Glint, let’s get you that coffee,” K turned and walked back into the shop.
Here you will find a growing collection of my Short Stories. From pieces I wrote for competitions, to some of my world building stories. Some of the longer ones, will be broken down and released as Chapters.