An excerpt of my newly released short, "Dusk to Dawn" available at Smashwords and other retailers.
Dusk to Dawn
The diner sat on the edge of the woods along a highway, somewhere between Interstate 80 and 309. Every so often, the occasional local wandered in (typically after a heavy night of partying) but the main cliental consisted of travelers passing through. No one really knew how long it had been in existence, as it seemed to appear out of nowhere. But such details are typically of little importance to the weary all night traveler seeking temporary refuge from the open road.
The diner lived up to its name, open from dusk to dawn; a rather unusual business model, but Dusk to Dawn Diner managed to maintain enough cliental to not only remain in business, but even place a Help Wanted sign in one of the front windows. A sign three individuals responded to. Three individuals with no prior knowledge of the others’ existence until the night they started training together.
Trina, Lisa, and Kevin began their shifts, working the same three nights a week shortly after the spring equinox. All three were interviewed and hired by the owner, Hazel. The woman appeared around fifty years of age, and the new employees were far from blown away by her social skills (or lack of). But as long as Hazel did not prove difficult to work for, the three decided they could handle her aloofness. After all, each intended to only stay until the end of the summer.
Each new hire had a specific purpose for answering the Help Wanted ad. Kevin worked construction near Wilkes-Barre, and while it made him a pretty descent living, he had a goal of making the final payments on his motorcycle as quickly as possible in order to afford a down payment on a house. Lisa was a single mother in need of extra income. Her plan was to move herself and her young daughter out from her mother’s house and into an apartment complex in Mountaintop by the start of autumn. Then there was Trina, a History major at King’s College who intended to work a couple nights during the week while putting extra money away for after she graduated.
The three were introduced to one another on the night of their first shift. Kevin was trained in the kitchen by a middle aged man who called himself Derek, while a red haired girl by the name of Anna worked with Trina behind the bar and at the cash register. Lisa was trained as a server by a heavy-set woman named Amy.
They worked with their trainers for much of that first week, with Hazel and the assistant manager, Cheryl, popping in every so often. But once training was finished, Derek, Anna, and Amy were never seen by the other three again, save for their names being listed on the schedule. There was also no scheduling flexibility, and while Kevin, Lisa, and Trina didn’t mind always working the same hours with one another, they did find the lack of swing shifts--especially for a dining establishment--to be a little odd, even if it was never openly questioned. If it weren’t for seeing the other employee names on the schedule, one may have been left with the impression that none other than the three new hires and two managers existed.
On this Monday night, one week prior to the first day of summer, the three arrived for work at around seven in the evening to make preparations for opening the diner at 8:00. Hazel was already seated at her desk in the back office as Trina, Kevin, and Lisa punched in. The owner supposedly lived close by and therefore traveled on foot to work. As usual, she barely greeted her employees.
That previous weekend, Trina had attended the wedding of her college roommate, Jane, and was recounting details of the simple, but elegant, event to her two co-workers. “Her husband, Craig, took her to Venice on their honeymoon,” she said while preparing the first batches of coffee.
“Is she going to finish her last two years of school?” Kevin asked, peering out from the servers window.
Trina nodded. “Yeah, but she’ll be moving into his apartment, of course, so I’ve lost my roommate. I’m happy for her, though. It also isn’t like she’s moving across country since his apartment is so close to our campus. He is a great guy, and they were practically living together before, anyway.”
Lisa sighed and slid onto a barstool. “Must be nice. Craig wouldn’t happen to have a brother, would he?”
“Actually, he has two,” Trina replied. “And I do believe one is single. At least as of Jane and Craig’s wedding.”
Lisa tapped her waitress notepad on the bar’s surface. “Maybe put in a good word for me? Then after that, we should find Kevin a girl.”
“Hell no,” Kevin retorted. “I’m still getting over the last psycho!”
Trina grinned. “Come on, Kev. Just a date.”
The trio ceased their conversation as Hazel wordlessly hurried to unlock the front entrance, grim-faced as ever and hardly acknowledging anyone before retreating back into the office. Kevin, Trina, and Lisa exchanged glances as the bell on the door jingled at the entry of two customers.
Lisa spun off the barstool and went to greet the truck drivers while Trina finished making fresh decaf.
Kevin crossed over to the back freezer for hamburger meat. He retrieved the frozen animal flesh, pausing at the site of the storage room. The door was always padlocked and bore a sign stating that only management was permitted entry. It was said to be used for storing equipment and was never opened anytime Kevin, Trina, and Lisa worked. Normally, Kevin never gave it much thought, but tonight he felt compelled to giving it a longer glance. As he eyed the door, a soft thumping from inside the room jolted him backward. Chills rose up on his arms as he heard it a second time. Something probably just fell over…
He whirled around to see Hazel’s head sticking out from the office. Her dark eyes were on him, fixed and staring.
“Don’t you have customers out there?” she asked.
“Yeah…sorry,” he stammered. “Um, I think I heard something fall over in the storage room.”
There was a slight shift in the manager’s eyes before she said, “I’ll check it out. You go take care of your customers.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said dryly, and headed back to the kitchen.
The rest of the story is available at Smashwords and soon, other retailers.
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Dusk to Dawn (A Short Story- Stories from Colony Drive, #2)Horror
Along the side of a dark highway, the Dusk to Dawn Diner awaits your arrival. Somewhere between Interstate 80 and 309 in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Trina, Lisa, and Kevin respond to a Help Wanted sign on the door of the Dusk to Dawn Diner. The diner...