It was early March when Father called — Mother had taken a turn for the worst.

I hopped in my jalopy that evening and started for Fort Wayne. It was a six-hour drive from Dayton in clear weather, with which the late Winter had blessed us, and I hoped the old girl could hold out.

I hadn’t driven 20 miles before the temperature dropped precipitously and snow began to fall. Within 30, the storm forced me to stop at the first inn I encountered.

The lobby was dark when I entered, lit by a single lantern and occupied by only the innkeeper and another unlucky soul caught out in the weather.

This latter was a gentleman of about 70, and we took to conversation at a big round table in the middle of the room. His eyes sparkled when I told him about Mother, and I fancied his eyes were wetted with tears.

For the next couple of hours, this chap regaled me with one card trick after another and then retrieved a box from a nearby shelf.

“What say we try our hand at this puzzle?” the stranger asked, twinkling at me again.

I was tired but drawn to the man, so we set about assembling the cruel scene: a bright Spring country day.

We retired to our rooms directly, me concerned that I may never again see my mother alive.

When I awoke early the next morning, however, I was astonished to see the sun shining and no trace of snow. The road was clear.

As I settled my account, I chanced a glance at the round table.

There on top was a sealed puzzle box, pieces evidently still inside. The scene was of a frosty winter’s night … with an old man waving from one corner.

(This post was written in response to a Daily Flash Fiction Challenge on


Bad news! There's more tiny terror just ahead, in Morbid Morsels, a collection of flash fiction nuggets guaranteed to make your nights a little ... darker. Get your free copy below.

Thank you for reading! Click here to download your free copy of "Morbid Morsels."

Want More? 

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this post.  Sign up below to read my FREE stories and to receive occasional free literary goodies.



Thank you for signing up! Please check your email for instructions about how to confirm your subscription. -- Adam