All Stories, Horror

Thriller by Ed Kratz

So here you are, sitting on the train, reading this book, looking for excitement. The cover caught your attention: some sad hero, sweat pouring down his forehead, eyes desperate with fear. You love to read about poor souls in torment.

Well, chum, you’re not having adventures in books anymore. Before, the most excitement you got was when that attractive blonde who takes the train would sit next to you in her short skirt.

It’s fall now. She is two seats in front of you wearing a coat. No short skirt.

Welcome back. You took a look, didn’t you?

What the hell you are thinking? What kind of book is this?

It’s not a book, jerk, it’s your adventure.

You like to watch characters in books chased and getting shot at, scared for their lives. What is it they tell writers? Be cruel to your characters? The more problems you give your main character, the more your sadistic readers enjoy it. We’ve turned the tables on you.

The blonde is getting off the train. You know it’s not her stop. She’s holding a book, and she looks scared. Some women enjoy thrillers, too.

Your heart is pounding. You’re like one of your characters. An ordinary guy whose comfortable life is shattered.

You’re hoping it’s a joke. That’s all. An old friend setting you up. That has to be it. Someone made a fake book.

It has to be, doesn’t it? The book is just words on a page.  This can’t be happening to you.

You want to bet?

The train bumps and stops. You want to close the page now, don’t you? But you can’t. Because this is a thriller. One you can’t put down. One you better not put down if you know what’s good for you.

You’re resigned. The pretty blonde, she could be a joke, something fixed. You don’t know anybody powerful enough to stop a train, do you?

The train’s starting, and you almost wish it wouldn’t. Isn’t your human heart racing? Your pulse beating? Different now that it’s not vicarious. Now that it’s you.

We characters have been kicked and beaten and had our loved ones threatened for your amusement. Now it’s our turn for vicarious thrills.

That man next to you slams his book shut and jumps up. You know this isn’t his stop. He likes adventure, too. But he’s got a different book.

Don’t try to close your book and run away. We’re inside your head, and we know what you’re thinking. Writers call this close third person if you’re interested, but we don’t think you’re up for a writing seminar.

What’s the technique called? Up the ante. Answer the call from your wife.

What? It’s not ringing? For a moment you have hope. Maybe you’re lucky, and you’re just going crazy.

There it goes. It rings. Answer it. Fooled you, didn’t we? Just another plot twist. Be warned. We are twisting this plot like a kite string turning in the wind. Up will be down, and down will be lower than you’d ever thought possible.

You’re back. You spoke to your wife. Your daughter is sick. Your wife’s turn to take her to school, and she threw up. Just missed doing it in the car. But they’re safe at home now. You hope. Are they safe? We know where you live. We know your wife Susan never remembers to set the security alarm when they’re inside.

Stop that. Don’t call them. Keep reading. A man is coming toward you. He will give you a briefcase.  Take the briefcase he hands you and get off at the next stop. We know it’s not your stop. It is now.

Be careful when you open the briefcase after you leave the train. Sharp objects can cut. Don’t just reach in.

Get ready. Here comes your new stop.  How’s your heart? How’s your wife and daughter? Don’t call them.

Isn’t this exciting? You wanted adventure, and you’re getting it now you selfish son-of-a-bitch. Enjoy it.

Maybe it will end well. Maybe it won’t. But keep the book with you and don’t lose your place. This is going to be a real thriller.


Ed Kratz

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17 thoughts on “Thriller by Ed Kratz”

  1. Clever fun. You kept expecting Hitchcock to wander by. Author aware that fictional characters pretend to be at author’s mercy when it’s obviously the other way around.


  2. I never read anything like this before. It’s very clever and it drew me in and held me until the end. It makes me realise just what an art form flash fiction can be when it’s done well. Excellent.


  3. Hi Ed,
    The simplicity in this is unnerving.
    The premise makes you think about life and its ‘plan’.
    ‘You’re hoping it’s a joke’ whether it is manipulated, preordained or winged.
    This is a neat idea that makes you consider so much.
    All the very best my friend.


  4. Hugh,
    I am very gratified at your kind comments. It’s a great pleasure when you write something and fellow readers get it.


  5. Uh, what’s the title of this book? I want to make sure I avoid it. Very original and with a strong voice. Almost like the story was telling itself. Maybe it was.


  6. Ed! This is great! My favorite story of yours so far. I’ll be it was a blast to write (and lots of work as well!). Phebe


    1. Phebe,
      Thanks. When I still worked — retired 8 years now — I used to take something called the neo with me on the train. It was a pretty neat tool. Like a word processor with a tiny screen. I started this story on the train with the Neo, just as an aside.



  7. Great job Ed! I loved the voice in this one, it drew me in just like the main character. I could see sitting on that train trying to tear myself away from a book written about what was going on around me in the moment. Very engaging story, thanks!


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