Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Category: Imaginary Page 1 of 6

The Stranger in the Dark Suit

The man that has been haunting Tyler’s nightmares for the past several days takes the same bus as him. Inspired by current events from COVID-19 and a writing prompt. 

Tyler jolted awake, with sweat on his chest. The breeze from the overhead fan barely cooled him down. It was that weird time in March where the weather couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to be hot or cold, so Tyler simply slept with only the fan. 

“Fucking stranger again,” Tyler whispered, keeping his voice low as not to disturb his lover.

Tyler placed his arm around his partner, falling into a calming embrace to ease his mind away from the recurring nightmare. It was always the same theme. Tyler would be running away from a tall man in a dark suit, like something from the 1920s, and every time, this stranger would catch him and graphically kill him. The locations and deaths would vary, but the figure was persistent. Tyler’s partner had shrugged it off as him playing too many video games, but Tyler felt there was something more to the cause. He thought it might be a result of anxiety from his new job and the world crisis. 

The next morning, Tyler got on his regular bus to work at the downtown luxury hotel. The day had an eerie vibe, but the past several days had felt ominous. He figured he would eventually become accustomed to the new reality of living during a pandemic virus outbreak. On the positive side, he was grateful his work got deemed essential, although he couldn’t work from home.

The bus was empty save for one man near the back dressed in a black suit with a matching fedora. Tyler froze in the aisle when he saw him. He couldn’t help but stare. It was the stranger from his nightmares.

“Take a seat,” bus driver ordered. 

Tyler snapped back to the present. “Sorry.”

As Tyler took a seat, he could’ve sworn the man winked at him, like he was trying to say, “Yes, it’s me.” Tyler faced the front of the bus and browsed his social media feeds to forget. The news was the same – doom, gloom, and blame. He switched over to his camera to spy on the stranger in the back who was starring soullessly ahead.

The bus announced Tyler’s stop. It was a few blocks away from the hotel, but he was at his favorite coffee shop. He wanted to help keep them in business. As Tyler got off, so did the stranger.

“Be cool,” Tyler told himself. “He’s not following you.”

Tyler stepped inside Clarity Coffee while the stranger walked by. He let out a sigh of relief. Tyler kept his social distance, got his to-go-coffee, and made the journey to work.

Downtown was quiet. Most everyone was working from home after all. As he crossed a street, he got a feeling he wasn’t alone. He looked behind him and saw the stranger in the dark suit.

“It’s just a coincidence,” Tyler assured himself, “but to be sure…”

Tyler turned the corner down an alleyway. He looked behind but didn’t see the stranger. Tyler turned back forward. The nightmare stood in the center of the alley with his arms crossed, and his eyes fixated on him. Tyler turned around and ran, but he ran right into the stranger.

The stranger lifted Tyler from the throat. Tyler screamed, but everyone was hiding from the invisible threat terrorizing the world.

“I’m only going to warn you once,” the stranger spoke with military firmness. “Tell anyone that the hotel you work at is haunted–especially reporters–and I’ll make your nightmares of me a reality.”

The stranger dropped Tyler, who collapsed to the pavement with fear. When he looked up, the man had vanished.

This short story was inspired by current events and the following writing prompt: “You have a recurring dream of being chased by a mysterious man in a dark suit almost every other night. This morning when getting on the bus to work, you see him sitting in the back and make eye contact. He winks at you.”

The Case of Statue Trail

A freelance private investigator is hired to figure out why a client’s wife was transformed into a statue.

Much to the detective’s displeasure, the sun was out in full song and dance without a cloud in the sky. It’s not like he couldn’t work in the sun, but he had to take precautions to ensure his safety, which slowed him down. The client insisted on a rush job and offered to pay extra to start investigating now. He protected his skin with a refined black and gray suit with a subtle gothic flare of gargoyles on the jacket.

With one hand holding his enormous umbrella, Psychon glided his fingers over the face of a statue of a surprised young woman. The detective looked down the urban wilderness trail, making a note of the other sculptures decorated along the path. There were various species and genders depicted with nothing in common other than they had a scared look on their faces.

Psychon turned to his client. Her outfit was the opposite of his in every way – bright, floral patterned shorts, a matching sports bra, and running shoes. Psychon understood her blue skin wouldn’t catch fire like his under the sun.

“Are you positive this is your wife?” the detective inquired.

“Absolutely,” the client responded with firm calmness. “She’s punctual to the second, and when she didn’t return home from her morning jog, I retraced her usual route and found her here.”

Psychon pulled off his pointy black hat with an eclectic assortment of patches sew on it. He dug around inside and pulled out a black tube the size of his hand. He returned his hat to his head, pressed the device against the statue’s neck, and tapped the red button on the other end. The device emitted three, quick high-pitched beeps.

“Looks like your suspicions were correct. Your wife was turned into stone. Does she have any enemies, Karviná?”

The client scoffed. “How much time do you got? Being a corporate leader gets you a few.”

“I change by the hour, but how about you share me the short version of who can transform her into stone.”

Karviná crossed her arms and thought for a moment. “I can’t think of any.”

Psychon glanced around the trail, looking at the other statues. “Do you, by any chance, recognize any of these other statues?”

“Can’t say I do.”

The detective went up to the nearest statue and tested it with his analyzer. It emitted the same three beeps. “This person suffered the same fate.” He checked another—the same result.

“What are you thinking?” Karviná asked. 

“This may not have been a personal attack, or it could’ve been personal, and these people were bystanders. Not enough clues.” He kneed down for a close inspection of the ground, being mindful of the umbrella’s location as not to damage the statue or get himself roasted. “Interesting.”

“What’s interesting?”

The detective searched the ground for the same clue on the surrounding statues. “They were all turned to stone where they stood. There’s nothing to indicate someone moved them. Do you know when these statues first start to appear?”

“Come to think of it, she sent me a photo of one of the sculptures commenting on how it was new. My wife takes this route every day.”

“We should get the protectors out here to get everyone to a hospital to be healed. Once they’re restored, they should be able to tell us what happened.”

“But that process takes time, and whoever did this is still out there.”

“Very well. I have a theory, but I’ll need your help.”

Karviná jogged along the paved trail as it came out along a river. She hadn’t seen anyone for several minutes. She was doing her best to follow the detective’s instructions to be natural. It was challenging to resist constantly look over her shoulders, and with the upcoming stretch having no statues, she was on high alert. 

She turned her focus to the flow of the river, hoping the sight would relax her like the waterfall white-nose she listened to at night. She took a deep breath to center her mind when a woman jumped out in front of her.

“Hello, there!” the stranger greeted with an extensively cheerful smile. Paint splatter covered her long-sleeve shirt and well-worn white jeans. Only her rainbow pattern beanie cap was free of paint. “Would you like to make some art with me?”

“I’m just out here enjoying a jog,” Karviná stumbled to explain.

The artist pulled out a large knife from her belt holster. “But my project needs more volunteers.” 

The artist’s beanie flicked off her head as several gorgon snakes hissed to life. Karviná screamed, prompting Psychon to jump down from the treetops. While floating underneath his umbrella, he landed directly on the artist, knocking her down. He immediately handcuffed her, which neutralized the snakes.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Karviná said, coming down for an adrenaline rush.

“I already called the protectors to treat those transformed and to make an arrest.”

“Why?” the artist cried. “All those people with increasing terror on the faces as they got closer to the big corporate complexes. It was going to be beautiful.”

A pair of uniformed protectors spotted them and rushed their way.

Psychon gently forced the artist up. “Maybe next time, don’t build statues out of people.”

This story was somewhat inspired by the following writing prompt: “A man discovers that a statue in a public square has something strange. She seems way too real. He discovers that there is a corpse inside it. A detective is called to see this, and he figures out that every single statue in this square hides a corpse.”

The Spiral Staircase in the Woods

During a morning jog, two friends take a detour to explore a mysterious spiral staircase that leads to a trap.

Sydney had long since accepted Chloe’s need to pause, change course, and explore during their weekly jog together. In the beginning, Sydney was annoyed by her friend’s curiosity as she preferred to keep a steady pace, but she grew to love the detours as they added a sense of adventure. It wasn’t uncommon for Sydney to jog a bit before she realized Chloe wasn’t by her side, but this time, Chloe put her arm in front of Sydney to stop themselves.

“Look at that,” Chloe said, pointing out toward the woods.

Sydney scanned the scene. Behind a battered and boarded manufactured house stood a spiral metal staircase that reached up into the treetops. 

“That’s weird,” Sydney commented. “It reminds me that suspended staircase public art piece in Automobile Alley.”

“We should climb it!”

“I don’t know if that’s safe.”

“I bet it was put there on purpose so you can see the birds. Don’t you want to see the birds, Syd?”

Sydney sighed. “I’ll do it for the birds.”

“Yay!” Chloe cheered as she jogged to the staircase. 

Sydney followed. Without a second thought, Chloe ran up several steps while Sydney stopped to inspect the staircase for safety. The staircase didn’t fall with Chloe on it, but Sydney wasn’t sure how exactly it was standing as she couldn’t see any wires or beams holding it in place.

Chloe ran up several more stairs. “Come on. It’s safe.”

Sydney chased after her friend, who ran up higher, giggling. They reached the top, which led to a metal-enclosed balcony capable of holding a small group of visitors. The sun started to rise off in the distance as Sydney stood next to Chloe.

They soaked in the warmth of the sunrise as it painted the sky a vibrant orange. Neither of them said anything to each other. Sydney glanced over at Chloe, watching the sunlight glide over her freckled face. She turned back to the sky, searching for any birds. 

After a moment, Sydney could sense Chloe’s restlessness. “Ready to head down?”

Chloe bolted. “Last one down has to buy brunch!”


Chloe only managed to stay a few steps ahead. Sydney knew she could beat her, but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t seem to get past her. She kept running and running and running, never gaining on her. 

Sydney stopped to catch her breath, and so did Chloe. “Shouldn’t we be down by now?”

“Yeah, going downstairs is always easier and faster.”

“I see the bottom.”

“Me too. Let’s keep going.”

The two walked down the stairs, keeping an eye on the grassy floor. Neither of them could explain the phenomenon, but the more they went down, the more they didn’t get any closer to the bottom.

“I’m starting to freak out a bit now,” Chloe confessed.

Sydney looked over the rail. It was too far to jump safely. Out of a sense of placement, she looked up. There were two people on the balcony. 

“There are people up there.”

Chloe looked up. “How did they get there?”

“Let’s go find out.”

In the balcony viewing area stood a tall, slender man in a pink suit with a woman of a similar build, but a little shorter and in a red dress holding a tablet device. Behind them was a door the same color as the man’s suit.

“Looks like they found us, Raven,” the man said as Sydney and Chloe reached the top.

“Indeed they have, Loki,” the woman said.

“Do you think they know what’s wrong, Raven?”

“I think they suspect something, Loki.”

“I think you are correct, Raven.”

“Okay, what’s going on?” Sydney demanded. 

“Shall we tell her, Raven?” Loki asked.

“I think you should tell her, Loki,” Raven responded.

“But you have a way with the words, Raven.”

“As do you, Loki.”

“Would one of you explain what’s going on?” Sydney interrupted. “I don’t care who. Take turns if you must.”

“This staircase is a construct of your fears, Sydney,” Loki explained.

Raven tapped on her tablet. “Like any fear, the only way to break free is to confess your truth.”

Loki opened the door. On the other side was an impossible night scene of a series of office cubicles. Raven stepped inside, followed by Loki. “Good luck.”

Loki closed the door behind him. It disappeared in a blink the moment the door shut.

“What truth do you need to confess?” Chloe asked, visibly freaked out. 

Sydney looked into Chloe’s eyes. Actions are more powerful than words, she thought to herself right before she kissed Chloe. Chloe returned the embrace. When they parted, they discovered they were on the ground where the staircase once stood. 

“Been waiting for that,” Chloe admitted. 

Sydney smiled. “So, who has to buy brunch?”

“I think we’ll count that one as a tie.”

Out of sight in the abandoned home, Loki and Raven watched as Chloe and Sydney jogged off together. Loki tossed Raven a golden coin, which she caught and put in her dress pocket.

“You won that one,” Loki admitted. “I thought it would’ve taken them much longer to escape.”

“Don’t worry. You got more opportunities.” 

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You’re walking home and you see a solitary staircase in the woods behind an abandoned house. They go up into the treeline. Out of curiosity you start walking up them. After walking up for awhile you decide to go back but never reach the bottom. When you look back up again you see the top.”

Lost Angel

While preparing for game night, an angel crashes in Hades’ library, bringing a mystery.

“Hades, can we keep him?”

“Persephone, it’s not a small pigeon to nurse back to health, it’s an angel.”

A chihuahua bolted between Hades’ feet to sniff the slightly crumpled angel lying on the white-marble floor in front of them. Several more of Hades’ dogs popped their heads out from around the library to investigate the commotion.

Hades looked at the pieces of the stained glass window scattered around the library. At least the angel didn’t crash through my favorite window, Hades thought on the positive side although the angel did leave a streak of blood on his clean floors. Hades suspected some of the blood that covered the angel came from whatever he fought before the fall.

“He’s so precious,” Persephone whispered as she glided her fingers over the angel’s smooth, youthful face. “I wonder where he came from?”

“I’m sure someone will be here shortly to collect him,” Hades assured as he picked up his chihuahua. “Leave him be. Our guests are about to arrive for game night, and I, for one, would like a break.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” a joyous voice announced.

The chihuahua barked and jumped out of Hades’ hands. The tiny dog ran to a white-bearded man dressed in red shorts and a topical button-up t-shirt while carrying a large red sack. Dogs of various sizes and breeds rushed to the newcomer with their tags wagging. The man opened up his bag and tossed out dog cookies.

“Santa, you jolly bastard,” Hades greeted with excitement. “What games did you bring for us today?”

“Depends on who ends up joining us,” Santa replied while petting all the dogs. “I got Ticket to Ride, Cards Against Humanity, Catan, Midnight Zombie Sabotage, and a bunch more. I left Pandemic at the workshop. Seemed a bit too real given current events.”

All the lights and flames in the library flickered off then returned with a gradual spread away from a midnight-skinned goddess with a glittery dress.

“You’re here, [Goddess of Shadows*]!” Persephone shouted with glee as she ran over and hugged her friend. (*Persephone called the goddess by her true name, but her name becomes her title for those not allowed to know it.) 

As the two embraced, the Shadow Goddess caught sight of the fallen angel. “Are we doing a murder mystery game tonight?”

“Ooh! Yes! Let’s solve the mystery of who killed the angel,” Persephone encouraged. She put on a gray deerstalker cap that she conjured from her purple dress pockets. “The game is afoot.”

“I told you,” Hades spoke in a calm tone, “someone will be here for him any—”

Flying down from the hole the angel made, a green dragon landed next to the injured angel. The dragon morphed into a humanoid form.

“Neon!” Persephone cheered. “I thought you were working?”

“I’m technically here for him,” Neon said as he lifted the angel. “This human wished to be an angelic warrior. Obviously, that had consequences. Thank you for not tossing him aside.”

“I knew someone would be here to collect him,” Hades said with a modest tone. “Wasn’t expecting it to be you. The kid made a wish, huh?”

“Yeah, around Volo Grant.”

“I’m sure Volo feels awful,” Santa commented. “That kid tries so hard, but he can’t control the wishes.”

Neon stretched out his wings. “Thank you again for watching him. I’d better get back to Earth.”

Dionysus joyfully strolled in the library with a case of wine as he watched Neon fly away through the ceiling with an angel in his arms. “Did I miss anything?”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “Hades can we keep him?” “Persephone, it’s not a small pigeon to nurse back to health, it’s an angel,” the discussion goes as they look at the slightly crumpled figure laying in front of them.

The New Windows at The Last House

Gia is brought back to the end of time by a friend to investigate the new windows at The Last House.

“I think we should kill it.”

Gia crossed her arms and rolled her eyes at Slayer. “That’s your solution to everything.”

Slayer floated in front of Gia. Slayer’s ghostly, black-draped crystalline form would’ve given anyone the chills from its presence. However, being a fellow end-timer herself, Gia was able to turn that feeling off. In contrast to Slayer’s form, Gia took the appearance of a human with the charming beauty of an actress dressed in a black cocktail dress with matching stockings, a short leather jacket, a jade bracelet, and red sneakers. She also only had two arms compared to Slayer’s four.

“Why are we here?” Gia inquisitively asked. “There’s nothing left for us here.”

There was almost nothing left. All the stars had burnt out. All the planets had been destroyed or withered away ages ago. All the end-timers born on this rock floating through an endless black swamp of rolling midnight had all scattered back in time to periods where there was still life. What did remain was a structure they referred to as The Last House, which stood before the two end-timers.

The Last House was a dilapidated three-story mansion. Gia was always impressed that the building had managed to be still standing and retained its purple exterior paint. As Gia looked at the house, she had a feeling the structure had changed since her last visit.

“Do you notice it?” Slayer asked.

“I’m not sure,” Gia replied. “Is there something different about it?”

“The windows. They’re solid red now.”

“They are. How’d you notice this?”

“I like to come back here from time to time to see if anything is different – if any one of us had managed to change the end.”

Gia always liked to think of endings as the start of a new act, a new story, but being here, Gia felt the true grim weight of the end. She shifted the subject. “Why bring me?”

“You’re the most creative of us,” Slayer unashamedly admitted. “If I investigate The Last House with anyone, I want it to be with you because if something does go awry, you’ll find a solution.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet of you, Slayer.”

“Don’t make me regret this,” Slayer said as they led the way to the front door with Gia following beside him. “When was the last time you were here?”

Gia sighed. “It would’ve been lifetimes ago.”

Gia stepped on the wooden porch. The porch responded with a creaky hollow that she ignored as she opened the eggplant-colored door. To Gia’s surprise, the golden door handle had a pristine shine. The inside was a chaotic collage of architectural styles from various time-periods from numerous planets. Her eyes darted all over the place, trying to make sense of the building. She ran her finger on the red glass windows. The color wiped away with her stoke, leaving a tacky reside on her fingertip.

Slayer did the same with one of their hands. “This is blood. Fresh blood.”

“How is that possible? Are there any other end-timers around?”

“No, we’re the only ones here.”

Gia flicked the blood off her finger. “I don’t think we’re alone.”

The ceiling began to pour down with blood. It washed over every surface of the walls, reaching the Milky Way color marbled floor. It drifted around them, as if it was sentient, and pooled together in the center of the room. From the ground, the blood stood up, taking a humanoid form with dragon-like wings.

“Freedom is mine,” the blood creator roared as it bolted out the open front door.

Gia and Slayer looked at each and shrugged.

“Not very many places for it to go,” Slayer commented, unworried.

“Yeah, you said it,” Gia added. “The question remains, which one of us locked it up here and why?”

“It could even have been us, but it hasn’t happened in our timeline yet.”

“That’s true.”

Gia and Slayer casually strolled out of The Last House, with Gia closing the door behind. In the foggy field before them stood two free-standing doors. One was green and the other red, with the green one being Gia’s time machine and the other belonging to Slayer. The blood creature was nowhere in sight.

Slayer opened his door. On the other side was a sunny, sandy desert. “Until our paths cross again.”

Gia nodded goodbye as Slayer went through their door. The moment the door closed, it blinked out of existence as if it was never there. Gia opened her door, leading to a theatre stage. As Gia closed her door, a small puddle of blood slipped its way through.

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “Creation is no more. What remains is an endless black swamp of rolling midnight. Terrible and boundless. The only thing that persists, that continues on into the darkness, is the Last House, an old construct that harbors all those that are left from the feast of Night.”

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