Michael D. Nye

The November Featured Writer is Michael D. Nye

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by Michael D. Nye

George Myers turned off Main Street, walked a few hesitant steps, then stopped. His heart racing, he used a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his brow.

He took several deep breaths, then began to slowly walk the final few blocks home past small suburban houses not unlike his own. As he drew near his modest house, he was heartened to note how his front yard stood out from all the others—brightened by the riot of colorful flowers his wife had planted with care last spring. An older Volvo sat in the driveway, meaning his wife was home from her errands. These otherwise bland details were like beacons, urging him to complete his short journey from work to home.

George stepped onto the gray flagstone path that led to his front door. Then he felt it…again.

He stopped before he reached the door. It was going to be all right; he just needed a moment. Rubbing the pins and needles in his left arm that had plagued him on and off during his walk home, he closed his eyes and took several deep breaths.

“You look like you’re gonna croak there, Georgie.”

He didn’t need to turn his head to recognize that the words were coming from his next door neighbor, Carl.

“I'm fine, Carl. Just catching my breath.”

“Saw Chloe playing outside earlier. Cute kid you got there, Georgie. She’s gonna be a looker, I can tell already.”

George’s usually pleasant demeanor was strained whenever he encountered Carl. The man was creepy. No, if George were honest, Carl was far worse than creepy. Whenever his six-year-old daughter Chloe was outside playing, there was Carl. Watching. Even when Chloe played in the backyard, Carl would find an excuse to be atop a foot ladder in order to peer over the fence.

Ignoring Carl, and taking another deep breath, George felt restored enough to continue to his front door. As he slipped his key into the lock, he willed good feelings to bubble to the surface. He loved bringing cheerfulness into the house after a day at work. It felt like he was giving a gift to his family for all they gave him.

As the front door swung open, a vibrating bundle of six-year-old cuteness and energy named Chloe, clothed half as a princess and half as Wonder Woman, wrapped herself around his leg.


“Well, if it isn’t my little…Who are you today?”

“I’m Princess Wonder, of course!”

“Oh, of course. I should have known. Well, My Lady, where might the Princess’s mother be?”

“Mommy’s in the kitchen.”

“Then to the kitchen we shall go!”

Chloe raced ahead as George felt the tingle in his arm return. He bent over and, placing hands on knees, breathed deeply. A few droplets of sweat that beaded on his forehead fell to the floor. After a moment he felt his breathing return to normal and the tingling subside.

“Where are you, Daddy?” Chloe called from the kitchen.

“I’m coming, my little one.” George stood up straight, took one more deep breath, and entered the kitchen where his wife, Melissa, her hands dusted with flour, greeted him with a smile.

“How’s my husband this evening?”

“He’s…” George knew that the truth would only worry her and so he replied, “He’s fine, Wife. And how is she of the flour-covered hands?”

Melissa let out the deep-throated laugh that had made him fall in love with her over a decade ago, when he thought a forty-five-year-old accountant might never find love. “Dinner’s in the oven and will be ready in about twenty minutes.”

“Then perhaps I’ll lie down for a bit.”

“Can we talk while you rest, Dear?” Melissa asked as she rinsed the flour off her hands.

“Of course.”

Chloe had parked herself at the kitchen table and was occupied coloring a picture of cows, crayon firmly in hand. The parents moved into the living room where George stretched out on the sofa, head propped on one of the arms.

Melissa perched on the edge of a cushion and brushed back a strand of hair that had fallen across her face. “It’s about Carl.”

George sensed a tightness constricting his upper body. He couldn’t escape the man even in his own home. “What about him?”

“He offered Chloe some cake this afternoon. Invited her into his house.”

George felt as if his heart was hanging suspended between beats as he prodded Melissa to go on. “She didn’t--?”

“No, she knows better.” Melissa gently laid her hand on George’s arm and continued, “But she confessed she thought about it. Said it was her favorite cake.”


“The question I have is how he knew that.”

George thought for a moment. “You think he’s still talking to her over the fence when she’s in her bedroom?”

“Yes, I do. Even after we told him to stop. George, we can’t wrap Chloe in a bubble. It’s bad enough we had to tell her that she needed to keep her curtains closed at all times. She doesn’t understand, and I don’t want to make her afraid to go into her own room or play outside. This makes the second time in a month he’s tried to lure her into his house.”

George tried to control his breathing as he listened to Melissa. They had discreetly talked to the police after Carl had asked Chloe if she wanted to see his kitty, and were informed that unless Carl did something overt, there was no law against a neighbor being friendly to a child. The officer had even checked to see if Carl had a record and had come up empty. A further inquiry had unearthed the fact that Carl had, when he lived in another town, been questioned in the disappearance of a young girl, but nothing had come of it.

Later that day George had asked Carl about his cat.

“What cat?” Carl had answered with a smirk.

When George explained that Chloe had told them that he had a kitten, Carl chuckled and said that she must have made it up. “You know kids. They make up stories all the time.” Then, winking, he shut the door in George’s face.

George shifted on the couch and, looking up at Melissa, saw the concern in her pale blue eyes. A rage he had never felt toward another human broke like a wave over him and he began to rise. “I'm going over there now and have it out once and for all.”

“I don’t think that’s wise, George. A man like that… well, he may be looking for a reason to turn it into a physical confrontation, and you’re a gentle man, George. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with you.”

Melissa was right, but it still hurt. He was well aware that he was in no shape, even at his best, to physically tangle with Carl if it came to that. A weight pressed on his chest as he felt hopelessness sink in.

Maybe the shortness of breath and the tingling in his arm was a good thing—a reminder to get to his doctor for a checkup. It had been… what? Seven, eight years, since his last physical? He’d call Dr. Evans tomorrow and make an appointment. Then maybe he would start exercising again.

From the kitchen Chloe’s voice rang out. “Mommy, the oven pinged.”

“We’ll figure something out,” Melissa said as she touched her husband’s cheek with the tips of her fingers. Giving him a quick, pensive smile, she rose from the couch and headed for the kitchen.

George lay there, staring at the ceiling. He had to protect Chloe, but how?

“Dinner’s on,” Melissa called.

George slowly got up from the couch, but after a couple of steps had to place his hand against the wall for support.

Chloe’s sing-song voice warbled from the kitchen. “Daddy, oh, Daddy of mine—it’s time for dinner!”

“Be there in a minute, sweetie,” George replied as a sob racked his body.


That night, George woke with a start. What had disturbed his sleep? Shifting slightly, he felt dampness. The sheets were soaked. What had happened? More to the point: how did he feel?

He allowed his awareness to travel the length of his body, searching for…what? Pain? Shortness of breath? There was nothing. In fact, he felt better than he had in a long time.

For a moment he simply listened to Melissa softly breathing next to him in the bed. Turning his head to glance at the clock, he saw it was three a.m. He knew he had to get up, because…

Because it was time.

Carefully pulling back the covers from his side of the bed so as not to wake Melissa, he swung his feet to the floor and stood.

Dressed in the striped pajamas Chloe had given him last Christmas, he quietly crossed to Melissa’s side of the bed and, bending down, gave her a light kiss on the cheek. After a decade together, he loved her as much as he had the first time he laid eyes on her. His fingers reached out and gently brushed aside a strand of hair that had fallen across her cheek.

With a sense of profound sorrow, George left the bedroom and, bare feet padding on the hall carpet, made his way to Chloe’s bedroom.

Entering the room, dimly lit by the glow of a “Frozen” nightlight, he saw his daughter’s long curly hair spread out on a pillowcase adorned with stars and planets. The covers lay bunched at the bottom of the bed. George approached the bed and pulled the covers back up, eliciting a contented mumble from his daughter. He sat down on the floor next to her bed and listened to Chloe’s soft breathing.

A small break in the curtains allowed a thin slice of moonlight to fall upon her cheek. George spent several minutes fascinated by how it made that one tiny spot on her skin glow, before leaning over and kissing her on the forehead. “I love you more than life itself, my Princess Wonder.”

It would be okay. He now knew with certainty what he had to do. And with that thought a feeling of peace washed over him. Bending close to her ear, he whispered, “You will be safe, I promise.”

Sighing deeply, George rose and left Chloe’s room. He walked back the way he had come, stopping at the open door to his own bedroom. He would do it. He had to.

A soft murmur—directed toward the bed—escaped his lips. The form on the bed stirred, then remained quiet. After a moment, satisfied his message had been received, George turned and continued through the house, taking a few seconds to stop and appreciate the memories in each room he passed.

Arriving at the front door George reached for the doorknob and, after a moment’s hesitation, opened the door and left the house.


The next morning, Melissa woke at her usual time. Donning her bathrobe, she performed her regular quick morning ritual. After washing her face and brushing her hair, she exited the bathroom and noticed that George had not gotten up. She gently shook his shoulder. “Time to rise and shine, Honey.”

George didn’t respond. She peered into his face, concern registering in her eyes. George just didn’t look well. His skin was pale and streaks of dried sweat had left salty trails down his cheeks and forehead. She shook him a little more firmly and his eyes slowly opened.

“Are you feeling okay, Hon?”

George stared at Melissa for a moment, then slowly nodded. Melissa hesitated. There was something wrong.

George’s eyes had a distant stare that she had not seen before, but the sounds of Chloe bustling about in the hallway and calling for her drew her attention. Melissa looked back as she left the bedroom and saw that George was climbing out of bed. Perhaps it was nothing more serious than the onset of a spring cold.

With some difficulty, George sluggishly put on the same brown suit he had worn the day before. Then, slipping his feet into a pair of loafers, he left the room.

As he passed the kitchen where Chloe was eating her favorite cereal—the one that Melissa worried contained too much sugar—his wife called out, “How about some coffee?”

With a slow shake of his head, George entered the kitchen. He appeared lost as he looked around the room. A glint of morning sunlight caught his eye and, spotting something on the counter near the sink, he slowly moved in that direction.


Chloe shrieked. “Mommy! I spilled it.”

“That’s okay, honey,” Melissa’s calm voice assured her daughter as she grabbed a handful of paper towels to sop up the orange juice that Chloe had spilled and that was now snaking its way across the top of the table.

She had just gotten most of the juice cleaned up when she heard the front door open and close. Worry creased her brow. It was unlike George not to have coffee and kiss them both goodbye for the day.

Something was definitely wrong.

She hoped that their talk last night had not overly upset him, but at the same time she wished that he would think of some solution to the Carl problem. This thought was lost as Chloe finished the last bite of cereal and clamored for her lunchbox and milk money.

George stood on the walkway outside his house. He knew that Carl would not be at home. He would be at his used car lot that abutted the southern edge of downtown, perhaps six or seven blocks away.

George turned at the sidewalk and, with great effort, began slowly walking into town.

He could make it. He had promised.


Carl’s Pristine Used Cars occupied a corner lot on Maple and First. George crossed Maple and shuffled toward the lot, his eyes never wavering from his destination: a small office at the rear.

He passed several older cars with cardboard signs tucked under their windshield wipers and made his way to the office. If there were other people nearby, George didn’t notice; the door to the office held his undivided attention. Reaching it, he turned the doorknob and entered.

The office was tiny and strewn with the remains of fast food lunches and nonstop coffee consumption. The air that permeated the confined space hung like a presence created from sweat, anxiety, and corruption.

As George stepped inside, Carl looked up and, after a second of registering surprise, smiled with greedy anticipation. “Georgie! What brings you down here to my little kingdom? You looking to trade in that piece of junk you own for something a bit sportier?”

When he didn’t answer, Carl rose from his cracked leather chair and walked around his desk to stand in front of George. “You should’ve brought Chloe with you. Bet she’d like to see my cars.”

This was the last thing Carl said… or would ever say. George raised his right hand, the one he had been holding at his side, the one that held the large kitchen knife.

His arm came down. Once. Twice.

George stared down at Carl’s body, crumpled on the dirty linoleum floor. A question materialized in George’s mind: Dead?

From somewhere came an answer: Yes. Really dead? Yes.

George turned and left the office as a small rivulet of red began to spread out from under the body, meandering toward the rusty metal legs of Carl’s desk.

He crossed the lot, passing the cars again, their signs still pleading for attention, and headed back toward Maple Street, although he no longer had a purpose or a destination. At the corner he stopped for a red light.

The light turned green.

George didn’t move.

You’re safe, Princess Wonder.

George smiled.

The light turned red.

George’s knees buckled and he crumpled to the sidewalk.


Carl’s body would not be found until several hours later. However, soon after George collapsed, someone in the morning rush of commuters had called 911, and told the operator that there was a man lying on the sidewalk at the corner of Maple and First.

And now a small crowd watched as the police finished their brief investigation and two EMTs slid the rolling stretcher into the rear of the ambulance.

One of the EMTs hopped inside the back. Closing the rear door, the other EMT walked to the front and climbed behind the wheel. He slowly pulled away from the curb and, knowing there was no rush, left the lights and siren turned off.

“Weird,” the one in back said to the driver as they got under way.

“What’s weird?”

“That nobody called it in sooner.”


The man in the back studied the body. “Well, the final determination’s up to the coroner, but from the state of this guy’s body I’d say he’s been dead for at least six or seven hours.”

The driver grunted as he turned the corner on Third Street and headed for the morgue.

Michael D. Nye is no stranger to horror and fantasy—as both an actor and writer/director.

Michael’s short story, “The Itch,” was published in the anthology, Cemetery Riots. (A 2016 finalist in the 13th annual Best Book Awards)

Michael wrote and directed the vampire feature film, Night Tour (in post-production), as well as the wrap-around segments for the horror anthology feature, Grave Images.

As an actor, Michael has had many principal roles in films and television shows, including: Priest, Heroes, Torchwood, Carnivale, Eagleheart, and Big Love. He has also played a zombie on several TV commercials.

In addition to his work in film and television, his play, The Big Farewell, (a spoof on the noir detective genre) was produced on stage in Los Angeles. Michael has also written three books on acting, including The Actor’s Guide to Auditioning.