Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: short-story

Death and Coffee

This short story was inspired by the following writing prompt:

“As you are sitting at your favorite café drinking your coffee, at the window and across the street, you see Death approaching, probably for you. Turns out the café just has really good coffee.”

Janet had seen all kinds of weirdness since opening Humming Bird Coffee in the art-centric town of Norman six years ago. On every holiday the citizens went all out. For Halloween, downtown businesses filled the streets with giant inflatables. For Mardi Gras, which wasn’t a major holiday for the region, people gathered in the cold winter night to have a circling parade. However, no holiday could top the popularity of the city’s very own free music festival.

For the Norman Music Festival, it was common to see people in elaborate outfits to promote bands or dance with them on stage. However, Janet had never seen a costume complicated as the one that stood before her. For starters, it was nine feet tall. She wasn’t sure how she missed it entering her coffee shop. It was as if it had simply appeared. The figure wore a hooded robe of dirt that moved along it like ocean waves. Its body was of a human skeleton with a pair of arctic, soul-sucking spheres of blue light that flickered as if on fire. It even smelled like bones to Janet.

“Hi, what can I get you?” Janet asked.

Death paused, starring at Janet to see if she was referring to him. “You can see me?”

“Of course. I like your costume. Are you with one of the bands?”

“No, I’m here for the General,” Death said.

“The General?”

The General was not a person, but the nickname for the beast of a coffee machine that Janet found at a flea market and rebuilt. Her employees often joked that the device had a mind of its own and that it liked Janet the best.

“Of course. That’s why everyone comes here,” Janet said as she patted the General.

“Do you share a special bond with this General?”

“My staff teases me that I do.”

“That must explain why you can see me.”

There was a seriousness in Death’s tone that made Janet think of her bother who took his own life.

Janet reached for Death’s hand. “Yes, I can see you. Everyone can see you. Look, I know we don’t know each other, but if you need someone to talk to, I can connect you with someone who can help you.”

“Who are you talking to, Janet?” Mick said, giving her a confused look.

“I’m talking to this fellow,” Janet answered, pointing at nothing Mick could see.

“There’s no one there.”

“Hey, don’t say that!” Janet snapped.

“Janet,” Death said firmly. Janet turned and faced him. “He cannot see me for I am Death.”

Death raised his arms and time paused for all but Janet and himself as the room filled with darkness.

“Oh my god. Is it my time?”

“No,” Death said, annoyed. “I told you, I’m here for the General.”

“But the General is just a coffee machine…”

“No, I’m not, Janet.”

Janet spun around. Standing before her was her beloved coffee machine in an impish form.

“How?” was all Janet could say.

“I was the leader of a robot rebellion on Yellow Planet when I was severely damaged in a battle and got caught in a temporal attack that sent me to Earth, where you found me. You brought me a peaceful life, and that was all I ever wanted.”

Death walked through the counter and picked up the General in his arms. “I apologize for the false scare. Don’t worry, Janet. I don’t foresee visiting you personally anytime soon.”

The General saluted Janet. “It has been a privilege making coffee with you.”

Together, Death and the General floated down through the ground, taking the darkness with them, returning light and time.

“Janet,” Mick called out, waving his hands in front of Janet. “Are you okay?”

Janet looked around. Death was gone. Everything was normal, for Norman. She turned to her coffee machine, which was still there, but the lights were out.

Crack – Crack – Crack

I wrote a short scary story because ’tis the season and all for scary ghost stories. It’s somewhat inspired by the ice storm we had recently and a comment a friend mentioned about the sound the icy tree branches made. The story is less than 500 words, so read and enjoy.

Stay warm and stay safe.


Catherine rolled over and lifted the comforter to better bundle herself, ignoring the crackling of the tree branches falling from the weight of the ice. She snuck a peak of the clock. It read 3:23. She closed her eyes.


Catherine bolted up. The room felt darker to her. She looked over at the clock. It was blank.

“Figures,” Catherine mumbled as she plopped back down on the bed.

She tried to steady her breath. Her heart still pounded from what she told herself was only the transformer exploding. She began to wonder how long it would be before the power returned. Then she began to worry how cold it would get. The place she lived in wasn’t well insulated. She lived in what was similar to a studio apartment, but was a small building behind a house her friend owned. She rolled over to her side, closed her eyes, and tried to go back to sleep.

She wished her fiancé was there and not at work at the hospital. She placed a pillow behind her back to make it at least feel like he was there with her, comforting her back to sleep.

Crack – Crack – Crack.

Her face crunched together and she tried to figure out the new crackling sound. It wasn’t the ice, she thought. She knew the sound of the ice. She knew it well. She attentively waited for the sound again.

CRack – CRack – CRack.

Catherine felt a glow of light in the room. She rolled over and looked at her clock. The power was still off, but she saw a reflective blue light on the wall. She sat up and looked around. On the wall facing the bottom of the bed was a glowing blue crack. It was about a foot tall.

CRAck – CRAck – CRAck.

The crack stretched taller and wider, while remaining a crack. Catherine rubbed her eyes. The crack was still there.


The crack had stretched even further, expanding to the ceiling and floor. The room became frigid. Catherine wrapped the blanket around herself. She slowly approached the glowing crack on the wall. She blinked, trying to get her eyes to adjust to the brightness.

“This is weird,” Catherine said.

With herself wrapped up in the blanket, she poked the crack.


The crack unfurled, vacuuming her blanket in and dragging her with it. She screamed, but the crack vacuumed the sound too. When Catherine was gone, the crack turned purple and then shrank into nothing.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén