Thursday, October 6, 2016


Russell James
Copyright © 2016 by Russell James

Maurice bounced against the door as the subway hit the misaligned rails south of Charmatain station. He righted himself and hiked his messenger bag up on his shoulder. With a clumsy forefinger shove he pushed his heavy glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
He checked his watch. 5:55 PM. On schedule. The commute home across the city took 42 minutes, 49 if he had to wait at the transfer. Such precise measurements made him the butt of many jokes, but accountants lived for accuracy. Unaccounted minutes in his day were like cash missing from a register.
Maurice did not mind the commute. This was his time with the world, the hour and a half each day between his sterile loft in suburban Alcorcon and his quiet cubicle in downtown Madrid.
As always, he stood for the entire trip, partly because he had been sitting all day at work, but mostly because ladies should always be seated. Of course he could never stand and give his seat to a woman, afraid she might construe his chivalrous act as chauvinism. So he stood, even if seats were open, lest the surge of passengers in a station force him into the uncomfortable position of usurping a seat from the fairer sex.
The crowded subway rolled to a stop at the next station. Riders came and went like discards and draws in a round of passenger poker. A harried young mother slammed a baby stroller across the gap and into the car. The baby remained sound asleep. Overstuffed sacks of child paraphernalia hung from both handles like saddlebags. Two chattering toddlers trailed in her wake, fingers hooked in her belt loops. Stray strands of hair had escaped her pony tail and the summer heat had plastered them to her cheeks.
She took the open seat beside Maurice. The two eldest children gripped the outside edges of the stroller, their conversation about firemen uninterrupted.
Maurice thought the woman must have had a hard day. A mid-week recreational outing was unlikely for the family. It had probably been a day of errands, made more burdensome as a party of four. Trekking through the city in the cheap flip flops she wore couldn’t have the trip any better.
A baby bottle slipped from the stroller’s side pouch. It rolled past Maurice. The mother, head back against the window and eyes closed, hadn’t noticed.
Maurice stopped the bottle with the toe of his shoe. He turned his head in the opposite direction and then flipped the bottle against the feet of the child next to him.
“Mama, look!” the little boy cried. “Carla’s bottle got away.” He scooped up the bottle like it was found gold. “I saved it!”
“Thank you, Paulo,” she said without opening her eyes. “Put it in the sack.”
Paulo did and then shot his brother a self-satisfied smirk. His brother gave his head a sad shake.
The mother’s respite was only two stops long. At Los Banos she and her children left to complete her journey home. Another woman entered and took the open seat.
She carried herself like royalty. Her well-tailored tan suit bore a few creases from her day at work, but her makeup survived picture perfect. Her raven black hair curled around the back of her head like coiled silk. Her long black lashes framed the softest brown eyes Maurice had ever seen. She crossed one leg over the other and her skirt retreated to expose two shapely calves. His heart skipped into overdrive.
He turned away but scanned for details from the corner of his eye, lest he be caught staring. Her shoes and purse were an exact color match. The purse was high quality leather, but not a designer brand. She dressed well without following the crowd.
He liked her briefcase, mostly because it was a briefcase; solid, rectangular, professional. She wouldn’t have a backpack slung over her shoulder like some college student. She had tasks to complete that demanded the seal of quality that only a briefcase could stamp.
He chanced a quick glance at her hands. No wedding ring. No engagement ring. But she had rings on other fingers, so she wasn’t adverse to jewelry. Unmarried and unattached. Maurice figured that her success no doubt intimidated men.
She looked up at the metro map on the ceiling across from her. Maurice leaned back out of her field of view so he could take a long look at her face. Her profile was perfect; the nose of a Greek goddess statue, the hinted arch of her cheekbones.
His pulse raced. This woman beside him exuded magic. The metro car rocked around a curve and the hairs on his arm danced as he swayed closer to her.
Her life probably paralleled his with a professional job sandwiched between two long commutes. She had as little socializing time as he. How else could such a vision walk through life alone?
The subway slowed for the Aviacion Españiola station. Maurice’s stomach roiled as he dreaded her first movement, that twitch that telegraphed that she would rise and depart. The metro stopped and the doors slid open. To his relief she remained seated.
A preteen girl boarded the train. She wore the light blue blazer and plaid skirt of a private school. Her hair trailed down her back in a long braid and she carried a violin case. An afternoon lesson must have kept her so late in the day.
The woman saw the girl and smiled a vibrant smile bright enough to light up a room. Maurice rejoiced. The woman must like kids, or music, or both. It was a win either way.
He imagined the bliss of seeing that blazing smile when he came home each day, a smile for him. It would be perfect. This woman was The One.
The subway left the station. There were only a few more stops on the line. At Puerta Del Sur, the line ended. He would transfer to Line 12 and she would be gone. Forever. He’d never seen her before and would never see her again. Time broke into a sprint.
He shifted his weight from foot to foot. He wiped his sweating palm on his pants. Cuatro Vientos station approached. The woman uncrossed her legs.
No! Not so soon. He needed time. He didn’t know what to say, what to do. The connection was undeniable. If this chance slipped away he’d regret it, immediately and for the rest of his lonely life.
She got up and stood by the door. Her skirt caressed her calves with a curling sweep. Her hand hovered over the button to open the door.
In seconds it would be too late. He had to speak. He had to act.
His tongue stuck to the roof of his cotton dry mouth. His feet felt encased in cement. His hand froze in the car’s ceiling strap.
The subway slid to a stop at Cuatro Vientos. She pushed the button and the doors opened with a whoosh. The humid station air rushed in against Maurice’s face. She crossed to the station platform. The doors closed.
His paralysis broke. He rushed to the door as the subway took off. In abject misery, he watched the diminishing picture of his dream woman riding the escalator to the bright surface world. He rested his head against the cool glass and closed his eyes.
That night, thoughts of her enveloped him like a thick fog. His dinner had no taste, the television gave no diversion. He tossed in his sagging bed until well after midnight, plagued with visions of the rapturous beauty on the subway.
Maurice fueled up the next morning with the usual eight ounces of bran and a hard boiled egg at 7:13. He boarded the 8:03 at Puerta Del Sur. His eyes lit up as he spied the woman in the corner seat, an angelic vision in a white dress and black boots. He held his breath. Could she be The One?
This morning it was a blonde with green eyes.

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Two realities. One hope.
What if you lived in two worlds, and could die in either? Pete Holm can. He is a dreamwalker, able to travel to the realm of dreams, including the devastated world of Twin Moon City, where an evil voodoo spirit holds living souls in terror with his army of the walking dead.
In the waking world, drug lord Jean St. Croix knows only the power of the dreamwalker can stop him, so St. Croix vows Pete must die.
Pete is the only hope to rescue the lost souls in Twin Moon City…unless St. Croix kills him first. Can anyone survive when two realities collide?
Russell R. James was raised on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Dark Shadows, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers "Dark Inspiration","Sacrifice","Black Magic", "Dark Vengeance", the collections "Tales from Beyond", "Deeper into Darkness", "Outer Rim" and "Out of Time". His novels "Dreamwalker" and "Q Island" both release in 2015.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."

Visit his website at and read some free short stories.