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Tartahyuga t1_it711h6 wrote

It wasn't real. I refused to believe that. No 5 year old should have blood on their fingers, and i refused to believe my daughter could have killed anyone. And yet, no matter how much i didn't want ut, the number was still there, floating above her forehead as if it was mocking me, daring me to do something about it.


I was devastated. I had left for just 3 days and THIS is what i found? What could have possibly?


My wife's voice shook me back to reality.

"Are you ok?"

I nodded. "Yeah, it's just... She looked different somehow. Can't quite understand... Did you cut her hair?" I looked at Sarah, my sister-in-law, who took care of my daughter for the past few days.

"Absolutely not. How could i ruin those lovely curls?"

I looked at my daughter again, hoping the number would have returned to zero. To my dismay, it was now an 18. I could feel shivers down my spine. Was i stating at a serial killer? How? "A light sunburn maybe? What did you during the weekend?"

"Well, friday we stayed in house and watched cartoons, yesterday we went to visit grandma and played at the park, and today rained so we stayed inside, played with dolls and made some homemade pasta for dinner."

"I see." Nothing weird, maybe she did something at the park? No, Sarah would have noticed.

"James, you're worrying over nothing. She looks perfectly fine to me."

I had to concede. Insisting more than that would only make me look like a madman. I thanked Sarah for her help and unpacked the bag before getting to bed. It took me forever to fall asleep, the image of my precious daughter smiling atop a mountain of corpses haunted me every tine i closed my eyes.

The following morning i looked like a zombie. I stumbled in the kitchen and made myself a coffee. Then another one. Then a third.

"Don't you think that's enough?" My wife kissed me on the cheek. "Bad dream?"

I chuckled. "You can say that."

She sighed and handed me the newspaper. "Take a day off. I'll call Bob and tell him you're sick."

"Thanks honey." I sat down and grabbed the news.

"You were right yesterday." I looked at her quizically. "Dana caught the flu. She's in bed with a fever."

I nodded. It wasn't exactly what i was referring to, bit at the very least i didn't look like a paranoid father in front of my sister-in-law. I opened up the newspaper and almost choked on the coffee.

Pneumonia outbreak at St. Jonathan's retirement home. 18 dead over the weekend


relddir123 t1_it77cww wrote

Pandemics should be interesting for our narrator here


Tartahyuga t1_it7bhdh wrote

If i was the patient 0 i'll feel a little bit guilty, ngl


pvaa t1_it7fkvv wrote

I think COVID has shown me that I need to be careful when I'm ill; people die of flu and similar quite often and its of course considered normal


atelopuslimosus t1_it7qm2x wrote

I never used to get my flu shot. The first time I got it was during the swine flu outbreak that was hitting younger people harder. After that, the thing that really solidified me as an annual flu shot person was that I worked with kids every day and my work provided flu shots for free. I thought, "How selfish do I have to be to refuse a free shot on my lunch break that could protect these kids I work with from a potentially deadly disease?".

Over the years, I've taken a harder and harder line with anti-vaxxers. I have landed on the opinion that an otherwise healthy person that refuses to fully vaccinate themselves or their children is a selfish conspiratorial freeloader. I treat them nicely in person, but otherwise avoid them like the plagues they carry.


julianradish t1_ita5i6u wrote

The worst vaccine I've had to get, ever, is the covid stuff, it makes my arm so sore and it makes me tired. That's it though. I can sacrifice 1 day of productivity to help the people around me


ballrus_walsack t1_itafnnf wrote

Clearly you have not gotten the shingrix (shingles) vaccine. It’s bad but only for a day. And actually getting shingles is 100x worse.


AdamantineCreature t1_itb6zq1 wrote

I had the shingles shot the same day I had my tetanus booster. If there was any side effect to shingrix it was lost under the fun of TDaP. Still better than covid.


julianradish t1_itam0e3 wrote

Omg, I don't remember if I've gotten it but im not even 25, might have when I was a baby.. I would just try to sleep through it lol. Worked for the covid booster


ballrus_walsack t1_itamxla wrote

If you are 25 you won’t have gotten the shingles vax shot. It’s primarily for older people.


atelopuslimosus t1_itblb80 wrote

Actually, if they're 25, they may never need the shingles vaccine. Depends if they had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.


AdamantineCreature t1_itb6va5 wrote

The covid shot makes me want to die for a couple of days. Still worth it to lower the risk of infecting my older relatives.


oscarcp t1_it7j40u wrote

That gave an idea to give a twist to this, how about, patient zero of COVID was the kid, and the full count of COVID deaths would be there? (not stating it's their fault, but it's interesting as a fictional take on it). Can you imagine? You see your kid and the number is rising hundreds of thousands by the second. That'd scare the shit out of me.


TreecrafterW t1_it7qbuh wrote

At that point I’d realize it was that sort of situation and I wouldn’t hold the kid responsible for that. It’s not her fault she’s not got a fully developed immune system yet, after all.


pvaa t1_it8jnc7 wrote

It does allow her to murder people without her father noticing though


TreecrafterW t1_it8m6t4 wrote

Very few people actually want to commit murder


pvaa t1_it90vmb wrote

Have you met his daughter though?


sonbarington t1_it7q9g8 wrote

Does the large number get so obtrusive that it’s annoying? Can we turn off the number? I can only imagine a person with a very very large hat.


alexanderpas t1_it9p91o wrote

IMHO, patient 0 should not get all the deaths accounted to them, but only the deaths that happen within the local community.

Anyone who introduces the disease in a new community gets all the deaths for that community.


My3rstAccount t1_ita4s4e wrote

What if they were invited in? But why should patient 0 be blamed for a disease she didn't consciously make anyways? Seems to me like we need more information to make sure she actually made the disease. Maybe she's a future victim and she dies when the counter reaches her number.

But you know what, nobody ever stops to think about why that dude can see numbers nobody else can.


Burakku-Ren t1_it7gqh4 wrote

Wow, that was a twist for sure, I got thrills while reading it. The newspaper was obviously gonna reveal what happened, but that was quite unexpected, it’s also well tied together with the kid being sick.


arawagco t1_it8zrhy wrote

I mean.... Pneumonia wouldn't kill that fast, but it's a neater ending than the dad going nuts for weeks before the outbreak made the news.


lindsaychild t1_it7zctq wrote

I suspected as soon as I read Grandma but great writing, enjoyable read.


Tartahyuga t1_it80azo wrote

i honestly tough it was obvious. not much else that can get that amount of people killed that fast coming from a 5y old (unless i were to supernatural but didn't feel like doing it)


TheGeckomancer t1_it9ewx8 wrote

I love the moral. Ignorantly killing people with a disease you didn't take precautions to avoid spreading IS still killing people.


MrRedoot55 t1_it8bkdi wrote

Well… at least she didn’t intend to kill so many people.

Good story.


baelrog t1_ita2mmj wrote

Haha, I knew it when the wife said they visited grandma.


ComebackWriter t1_it72lv7 wrote

It has been a beautiful day. A serene day in the apple orchard. It will be a good cider season. The sweetness of the apples swirl in the light breeze. Can’t get many better days than this you think. This is just one of those days.

In the distance you see your daughter skipping along toward you. Your heart melts. She is gorgeous in her little yellow sun dress. Even from a distance you can tell she has gotten it dirty. That’s character you say to yourself, kids are supposed to get a little dirty.

She calls out to you, ‘I’m going to catch your hug!’

‘Not if I catch yours first,’ you yell back.

You race toward her and she to you. All you want to do is embrace that delightful little angel with her own innocent little halo above her head.


Not 0.


You stumble in your run, trip and take a tumble into the dirt. Your daughter jumps on top of you and gives you a great big hug.


‘I got you, I catched your hug!’

‘You sure did,’ you stammer as you stand up, pick up your little angel and take a good hard look at her head.


It’s still there. Your mind races from corner to corner like a little mouse in a box threatened by the paw of a playful cat.

This can’t be, you think to yourself. Something must be wrong.

You kneel in front of the very thing you love the most, more than anyone in the world. Look deeply into her eyes. Nothing is different. Still the sweet innocent little girl you have known for five of your best years. It must be your gauge, you insist. It must be broken. It’s impossible. Or is it.


The question lingers.

‘What have you been up to my darling?’ you ask knowing only earlier she was with neighbours. A lovely couple and their two little boys.

‘Picking flowers! Lots and lots of flowers. Pink ones and, and blue ones. So pretty. Except the red one was ugly.’ She looked at you with a satisfied bright smile.

‘Oh lovely, lovely.’ You don’t know what to think. You decide to take her inside for a bath.

A couple hours later you sit alone in front of your mirror. Your daughter in bed. A zero on the reflection of your head. She sleeps peacefully a room away.


It is still there. It won’t go away. You decide tomorrow to go to the local pub. War veterans. If there is a problem, you will surely know if their numbers are off from the usual. Better to sleep it off and find out tomorrow.

Night passes.

Your daughter has jumped on you for sleeping in with a tiny slam to the guts. You open your puffy eyes from your poor nights sleep and look up into your daughters glowing face.

‘Wakey, wakey I need egg’n’bakey!’ she yells into your face.




You can’t believe what you are seeing. No longer is the number one but it is now two. That’s definitely impossible you think to yourself. My gauge is absolutely broken. A sigh of relief escapes your clenched teeth.

‘How was your sleep my little angle?’ you ask her with a relieved and very happy smile. You would rather your mediocre gift be broken than something worse.

‘It was fun! Very very very very very fun!’

‘Did you have a good dream?’

‘I picked flowers again. Except it was dark and all I could find was purple flowers. No pink. I like the pink ones.’

‘A good dream.’This made you happy.

‘But there was another red one. Yukky red. I scrunched it up and stomped on it. Yuk, Yuk Yukky Yuk. Red ones are yuk.’ She got off the bed and stomped her foot hard onto the ground. ‘Just like that.’

You found it strange about the red flower. You had never noticed she didn’t like red.

‘You should bring me a pink flower then my dear, since they are your favourite!’

‘No they are not my favourite. I just like them better than the other ones.’

‘Oh so what is your favourite?’ you begin to ask, but suddenly you are cut off as you phone rings. You pick it up. The caller ID shows your neighbour.

Sobbing fills the phone. A voice crackles with words, ‘sorry to call… son passed away… don’t know why.’

You can’t believe what you are hearing, ‘Sorry, what?’

‘He’s gone… forever. But my other son ran away, in the night. Just want to find him. So upset about his brother. I just want to know he is safe. It’s too much. Is he.’

‘I… no he is not here. I’m so sorry.’

‘Thank… I gotta go, Police are here.’

You slowly hang up the phone. You are dumbfounded.

‘I like shiny yellow,’ says your daughter.

‘Shiny yellow?’ you ask not grasping the previous topic of conversation.

‘Like you, shiny yellow. Me too.’


You notice it again.

‘Shiny yellow is gold,’ you slowly inform her.

‘Yes, gold. Only we have gold.’

‘Gold flowers?’

‘Yes, I can pick yours.’

Suddenly a wave of euphoria washes over you. Joy swallows you up. You have felt this before, many times. An intense emotional happiness.

‘See,’ she says. I pick your flower everyday.

You can’t stop smiling. But the thought is there.


‘Where is the red flower?’ you ask her.

‘Ewww. I stomped it because it is yukky.’

‘We have to put our rubbish in the bin,’ you insist.

‘Out there.’ She points out your window.

You look out but the sun is too direct and you can’t see out there properly. You run to the door and outside into the morning light of a beautiful day.

There on the lawn lay a figure of a what was a little boy. He was completely white, his eyes, hair, not even his lips had colour. He just lay there staring up into the sky. Motionless.

‘His flower was yukky,’ says a sweet little voice beside you. You turn to your darling angel. She is staring at a lizard bathing in sunlight. 'But here is a nice pink one,' she says gleefully.

Above her head reads:



Burakku-Ren t1_it7g2z0 wrote

So why does MC get happy? I get it that she has an ability to see the essence of people or sth like that, were the kids somehow evil?


xienwolf t1_it7gvdv wrote

Daughter could manipulate people’s “something” and picking it (what she did to mom) makes them euphoric. But squishing it (to the boys) kills them.


rusty_anvile t1_it7suxq wrote

I've read the post twice now, I don't think it ever genders the parent, always says "you." Just an interesting thing as I read it from the POV of a dad.


xienwolf t1_it7z55y wrote

That is wild. Never even occurred to me that the parent wasn't well defined and left open for the reader to translate. Makes sense as it was written in first person narrative.


RyjeeImages t1_italru4 wrote

Wasn't that second person?


xienwolf t1_italwjg wrote

It is indeed. Loved the story, but apparently I am absolutely shite for remembering any specific details about it.


freak-with-a-brain t1_it99rdy wrote

I got the few of a dad, and am a woman, which i think is interesting


Profession-Unable t1_it9e325 wrote

Same. It seemed obvious to me that this was the relationship of a daughter and her father. I wonder what it says about our own relationships with our mothers/fathers.


tinypurplepiggy t1_ita1w8z wrote

I had a terrible relationship with both of my parents but I also assumed the parent was a father, not mother


_Old_Greg t1_it8aij8 wrote

Haha same here. I'm a father myself so that maybe has something to do with it.


RdoNoob t1_it8mfsy wrote

She can see the zeros on their heads I think. Like her parent, but she has a slightly mutated ability.

Parent described the zero above the daughters head as a halo - golden/yellow. Daughter says "Yes, gold. Only we have gold."

Maybe other numbers or people without the ability are different colours. Lizard def has a kill count being a predator and is pink.

Maybe normal humans have purple ("it was dark and all I could find was purple flowers. No pink."). She was looking for animals at night? And found a kid killing animals - red for little serial killer in the making?

Who knows? Great story though!!


dirtycopgangsta t1_it74owj wrote

Damn, that would make for a chilling Black mirror episode.


superthrowguy t1_it7saul wrote

Bm is speculative fiction not really fantasy. Unless I missed something...


Alterus_UA t1_it9rpkr wrote

Well the borders of sci-fi and fantasy have historically often been very vague.


Naught t1_it9uy72 wrote

Black Mirror is speculative fiction dealing with ways technology may impact humanity in the future. This story, while entertaining, wouldn’t fit at all.


Kariomartking t1_itaqury wrote

honestly a fantasy genre black mirror episode could work if they do it right. It'd still be very different from all their other episodes but a Twilight Zone spin could be very cool.


superthrowguy t1_itayn5f wrote

Oh yeah I totally agree. It is just black mirror in particular was designed as something that is not just scifi fantasy, but something that is dangerously close to what we have IRL.

They did social credit apps before china did it for real. They had metalhead right before Boston dynamics spot got popularized. They have been right at the edge of what is possible and luckily nothing dystopian has happened.


nsjr t1_it7um9z wrote

Nice one. I thought that she was picking poisonous flowers and putting them in some place that would contaminate the water or something like that, killing people unintentionally


khang1411 t1_it7fnu1 wrote

Don't get me wrong, the plot and speech are nice, but that ending.....
Since the count was 2 from at least half the post , the ending is a bit convoluted.

Perhaps it would've been better if the count increased at the ending.


xienwolf t1_it7gptd wrote

Daughter killed the boy during the night. Mom finally discovered the body at the end. Wasn’t a new kill, wasn’t an increased number.


mrmoe198 t1_it7gvh1 wrote

When she picks flowers she makes living creatures happy. When she stops stomps them, she kills them. She only killed the two boys.


AJourneyer t1_it92zrb wrote

>‘Gold flowers?’
>‘Yes, I can pick yours.’
>Suddenly a wave of euphoria washes over you. Joy swallows you up. You have felt this before, many times. An intense emotional happiness.
>‘See,’ she says. I pick your flower everyday.

The references to "angel" and "halo" - delusion? Child died and this is a spirit? Parent died and this is an after life? Spirit child approves which gives parent much joy?

This was good, it's going to stick with me due to the mystery and the number of possibilities of reason.


Shadow_In_Light t1_it9mp7j wrote

I read it as the flower picking thing being the cause of the joy, not the fact that she has the ability but she uses it to cause the joy. Maybe how she interacts with the flowers can manipulate the owner?


fadinqlight_ t1_itaafqi wrote

This story is gold! Love how you wrote the MC and how it turns out the daughter has an ability as well. Maybe even everyone in this world?


Rupertfroggington t1_it7jcv2 wrote

My friend had this kid who had the number one dangling over his head like an exclamation mark. Like a warning. I didn't tell me friend about this for years. What do you say to someone whose kid has a one? Hey, you know your only child who you love dearly? Well, hate to be the bearer of bad news but he murdered someone. Nope, can't tell you who, just that he did. Well, cheers, let's get another round.

I'm not very smart but I'm smart enough to not say something so dumb as that.

He was a twitchy kid, pale, tall, spent too long indoors if you ask me. Had no friends. He was eleven when I first met him, when he came to the bar with his dad 'cause there was no one at home to look after him. Youngest kid I'd ever seen with a one hanging over them. It looked like a rope heading down to his neck, ready to curl around it.

I can't say I was ever nice to the boy. Why should I be? I was cruel instead, at least when I could get away with it. If I saw him running home from school in a storm, I'd drive straight past. Why would I give a murderer a lift, or shelter from the rain? It felt like he deserved my petty cruelties.

I tell you this because it seems somehow relevant. See, last night at dinner I see that same rope-like one hanging above my son's head. Above my own kid's head!

My kid is five. He was only over with me for the weekend and hadn't even out the house during the day so how the hell could he have a one above his head?

I questioned him. I'm not proud to say this but I questioned him until he cried and then until I cried. The numbers are never wrong -- everyone I've looked into, that I've been able to track down, has led to an old murder. You got a number over your head, you've killed another human.

I love my son. So what the hell had he done?

"You can tell me," I said, at the same time knowing how dumb it was to speak to a five year old like this. He couldn't have killed anyone. Right?

And yet he must have.


I told my friend about his son in the end -- or at least, I made my friend confess. His kid was sixteen then. Me and my friend were hitting it hard in an old English pub that sold ale fit for melting your heart. I wasn't in a good place at the time -- my wife had taken the kid and left recently. Her leaving was on me but what could I do apart from drink and feel sorry for myself? It felt like my only option. I still loved her and I loved my kid, I just hated myself.

My friend, on the other hand, was going toe-to-toe with me just because I needed a friend. He was a single father, like me, but he'd been in the situation for years longer. He was used to it, I guess. And he understood my pain.

The ale soon dissolved my inhibitions and I got to thinking about his kid. About the number hanging over the boy's head and how it came to be.

"What if your child turned out to be a murderer?" I said, as nonchalant as I was capable of being.

"What?" he said.

"Hypothetically I mean. If your kid murdered someone -- another kid, maybe, or anyone really -- would you stick by them? I'm not sure I'd defend my child if that happened."

He looked at me but said nothing, then got up and went to the bar to fetch another round.

A while later the thought crosses my mind again and I push the conversation where I really shouldn't. "Say," I say, "you didn't answer earlier. If your kid was responsible for a death, what you would do?"

And then he tells me everything. It pours out like the ale.

When his boy had been born there had been complications. Sometimes these complications take years to manifest, but sometimes, cruelly, they're quicker than consciousness. His mother hadn't even seen him before she passed away.

My friend didn't blame him one bit. In his son, he saw his wife. He loved his son more than anything.

So I sat there saying nothing for a long time, sipping my ale but suddenly only tasting the sourness.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"You weren't to know."



It wasn't until after dinner, after me and my boy had been crying, until after I put him in his bed, that the conversation with my friend came back to mind.

I called my estranged wife. Just to check on her. I'd make some excuse, tell her our son was missing her.

I called and the phone rang.

She was okay. I was sure of it.

But a thought kept tapping at my skull. About how complications can take years to manifest.

The phone kept on ringing.


Supersim54 t1_it7y0wu wrote

I’d like to know what happened I’d read another part


-EpicEv- t1_it7z13t wrote

I'd love to see another part. That was fantastic


RevenantBacon t1_itazizu wrote

I mean, is it really the kids fault though?


PuddleFarmer t1_itxd6fv wrote

If the kid didn't exist, would it have happened?


RevenantBacon t1_itzo7fx wrote

That's not how fault works. Fault requires deliberate action or careless lack of action that results in something happening. The kid didn't deliberately cause injure to the mother, nor did they carelessly avoid an action that would have prevented the mother from getting injured. Going by the logic of "it's the kids fault for existing," you could easily assign the blame to both the father and mother, since the kid wouldn't exist without them. With your logic of "it's the kids fault for existing," you could call it suicide by the mother.

Not the kids fault.


PuddleFarmer t1_iu1k9ig wrote

I am so glad that my uncle was raised that way.

His mom was diabetic. She was told that if she gets pregnant, she will most likely die. She really wanted a kid. When she got pregnant, she was told that if she has the kid (does not terminate the pregnancy), she will die. . . She died in childbirth, as expected. . . When he was in first grade, he got a step-mom who helped raise him.

Nicest guy ever. His favorite thing to do was to get babies to stop crying and either go to sleep or coo at him (he was a pediatrician). I miss him. (1937-2021)


FireflyArc t1_it808e9 wrote

A...awww....buddy...dead because had killed just was taking its time..


leave-me-alone-_- t1_it6zktz wrote

Light streamed in from the window as your eyes opened. Panicked filled you. “Fuck!” You searched frantically for your phone, for the stupid alarm that blares every weekday at 6am. It shouldn’t be bright enough for you to see the sun, oh you’ll really lose your job now.

You stepped out of the open door, and make your way to the kitchen. You planned on getting breakfast ready for Janie(she was always a bit of a fussy eater, so you needed quite a bit of time to prepare something she would eat), but she was already there, sitting at the kitchen table, her face buried in her arms as she mumbled quietly.

“Are you okay, Janie?”

She raised her head to look at you, looking somewhat terrified.

The kill count.

When you first had gained the ability to see people’s kill count, you were sometimes shocked by the kinds of people who had such high kill counts. Once, it was a sweet old lady with shaky walkers who had asked you for help crossing the road. Her kill count was 12. Sometimes, it was someone famous, but that wasn’t surprising. Politicians always had such high kill counts. But after a lifetime of this, nothing seemed to surprise you anymore. You learned to make peace with what you saw, you learnt to close your eyes and not think too much about it.

But this. This surprised you.

“Hey Janie? What did you do last night?”

Janie didn’t reply, but simply looked at you with a forlorn expression.

“Janie? Janie!”

You walk over to her, you try to touch her, to hug her, to comfort her, but you can’t. You can’t grab her, you can’t touch her. You just, pass through her.

Her face falls, her body curls into a little ball. “I’m so sorry! I- I’m so sorry!”

“What’s wrong Janie? Tell me what’s wrong I promise I won’t get mad!”

“I- You told me that you had an ability, you told me that you could see things that other people couldn’t.”

“That’s right.”

“I, I could see things people couldn’t too.”


“I see people, people who are sick, people who are so weak. I needed to see if it was real. I needed to see if I was seeing ghosts.”


“I’m so sorry mummy! Please forgive me! They told me you’d go to sleep if I gave you a lot of the sleeping medicine you had, I put it in your water, and-“


You’ll make peace with this. You know you will. Existing in odd circumstances is how you’ve always lived. But you can’t seem to believe that it was your daughter who sent you to this hell, to this purgatory.


bernice_hk t1_it7cp4x wrote

Holy Crap.

My daughter, Louise, had gained 1 count on her head.

And I knew what that meant.

──── ◉ ────

"Oh no..." I rubbed my face and went out to the garden. Seeing a yellow school bus approaching, I put my hands on the hips and waited.

"Maaaaaaaaami!!!" Lou jumped out of the door once it opened.

"Hey, sweetie. What did you do today?" I saw the new count number in terror.

"I talked with Kessi, Léa, Ms. Goldberg and.. what's wrong, mommy?"

"Did you touch anything sharp?"


"Did someone get hurt?"

She sealed her mouth.

I said in calmest tone as ever. "Tell me what happened."

"I...stepped on a bee." Her eyes watered. "Kessi was screaming, and everyone was scared. Ms. Goldberg wasn't with us, so..."

She went silent, my heart went lighter.

"I'm sorry, mami." She sobbed. Her noses and cheeks blushed and her mouth dragged down as a steep curve.

"It's okay, sweetie." I hugged her. "Did you bury it?"

"Yes, Ms. Goldberg put it outside the garden."

──── ◉ ────

"A life is a life, and shall be remembered, well-kept as a memory in our heart." Wrote this of thinking of something funny and also you guys will know the reference of stepping a bee (shrug) Hope this didn't offend anyone here.


TsarKobayashi t1_it7ku73 wrote

The power would be pretty useless in this scenario tho. Since most people would have stepped on hundreds of ants or smaller insects.


TheHecubank t1_it7m156 wrote

I mean, it could be that it counts it if the person counts it. The kid’s number goes up because she considers the bee situation to be killing someone.


ChristmasSlut t1_it7s81h wrote

That's what I was thinking. That or killing and then disposing of the body. I don't know about you but I don't bury the bugs I kill so most people would be at 0.


workphoneredditacct t1_it7l85r wrote

An exterminator would be like a McDonald’s sign. “We’ve stopped counting, but it’s in the many billions by now…”


MojoDragon365 t1_it985k4 wrote

Damnit, how do you type that circle? I need to know


bernice_hk t1_itacfv3 wrote

You mean this one ──── ◉ ──── ?

It may disappoint you coz it's not a very fancy trick.

I have an emoticon keyboard in phone, and simply search "circle" with it, it'll pop up. Used it as separate lines in my novel (ofc not as dumb as this little passage), so always kept in handy in my clipboards.


polopolo05 t1_itavqz2 wrote

then I got a kill count of at least a few hundred... 15 from rats in my house this month.


asolitarycandle t1_it7sj1k wrote

Thoughtless prayers.

That’s all Margot ever heard when the news said what they di. Parents lining up for blocks to say to the world that they were praying in a tragedy just seemed self-absorbed. Great, what were they actually going to do though? What’s the point of asking the lord for help if you aren’t going to step up yourself?

To Margot, her faith was private but her support was clear. For small things in town, she sent handmade cards or gift baskets that she made herself. Tea, candles, and soaps for those who have passed peacefully and food for those who hadn’t. It came with a small, handmade card with well wishes and hope for a brighter future.

Margot didn’t know what to get Abigail's family. Barely five years old, the little girl had been at the park and had fallen. Kids do such reckless things but they always get up afterwards like it was nothing. They were supposed to get up. She was a dancer. Margot had seen her fall so many times. Why didn’t she get up?

Abigail’s mother was there, screaming, as Margot phoned for an ambulance with her daughter held tightly to her chest. She kept asking why? Margot didn’t have an answer that she felt would make sense to a five-year-old. Why was Abby lying down like that? Would the Wee-Woo van help her? That was their job, right? The Wee-Woo van helped those who had fallen down.

How do you tell a child that young that their best friend was in trouble? What do you do when the crushing truth of mortality is on everyone’s mind? Faith. Margot had to have faith that there was something to this. There was a lesson that had to be learned from this. Maybe a reality check for everyone that life is sacred, that we are only here for a short time, or even that we aren’t valuing what we have until it’s too late. Abigail would pull through. This was just a test.

Breathing heavily as she sat quietly in her living room, Margot watched the pandemonium outside. The park was less than a block away. The Wee-Woo van was gone and her daughter was asleep but many of the policemen were still there. Camera vans, noisy neighbours, and a bunch of Ones had shown up.

Margot believed the little dots were a curse, a burden that she had to bear, and a gift from the lord above. Most people had nothing. Summerview, the neighbourhood she had scouted and settled on, didn’t have a single dot. Everyone here was a pure, virtuous person. None of them had ever been responsible for the death of another human being.

Now? Now wasn’t the case. Somehow the Ones always seemed to show up to these scenes, they always seemed to want to share some self-absorbed sense of grief for a girl they never knew existed before today. Their words were tragic but what are they doing to help?

Inside the gloom of her head, a light touched her hand and brought her out of the darkness. She never heard the creak of her daughter's bed or the light patter of feet on the linoleum. Lily was always her light. When things seemed hopeless, Lily was what pushed Margot into action.

The street lights were on and the wind had picked up. It was getting late. How long had she been staring at the park? She should be baking. Maybe a pie?

“Mom?” Lily asked quietly as she climbed into Margot’s lap. The usually joyful girl now sounded sullen and scared.

“It’s okay sweetie,” Margot whispered, closing her eyes and hugging her daughter tightly.

The light scent of lavender hand soap and freshly washed pyjamas filled Margot’s head as the two hugged each other tightly. Why was this happening? Margot held back tears. As much as she was hurting, she couldn’t imagine the pain that Lily was going through. To see her best friend like that. It strained Margot’s mind the pain that her daughter will have to endure the next little while.

“I’m scared,” Lily whimpered.

“It’s okay, it’s okay sweetie. Everything’s going to-“ Margot was losing it as she spoke but opening her eyes and seeing Lily's big brown eyes made it impossible not to. The pain. Tears welled up in both of them and fell, landing softly. Margot pushed Lily’s head into her neck as she swallowed hard. She needed to be strong. Her daughter needed her to be the rock that she had always been. Steading herself, Margot let out a long, calming breath and opened her eyes to the worst that had come so far.

A dot.

A chill ran from Margot’s forehead, back behind her ears, and then flowed out over her shoulder and down her back. Sadness left her. Panic set in. The grieving mother was set aside the moment she registered that dot in her mind and a guardian sat in her place. What needed to be done? How was she going to protect Lily? Swallowing, Margot blinked in what felt like a lifetime and set herself to task.

This was going to require more than a fucking pie.


stealthcake20 t1_it9hhyz wrote

I love the last line. The shift in character is fantastic.


asolitarycandle t1_itbmksy wrote

Thank you, I was trying to write in a different style with this prompt. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


cihomessodueore t1_itas6ah wrote

Holy cow that buildup climaxed soooooo well chef's kiss. Bravo wordsmith.


asolitarycandle t1_itbmo1o wrote

Thank you, that’s very kind. I was trying to work on a couple things I learned with this prompt so I’m glad it worked out.


MermaidsHaveWifi t1_it8dmzk wrote

Is it a curse? No, it is not a curse. The numbers above the heads of strangers, it’s a protection. It allows me a little bit of insight into their character. Who they are, what secrets they hold. I have always been somewhat thankful for this “gift” that was involuntary bestowed upon me.

It was a crisp October morning as I dropped my child off at Kindergarten, I waved him goodbye and told him to have a fantastic day. I went about my chores, grocery store, bank, and lunch. The numbers were everywhere, most were zero. Some were one. A few were more than I could bear to look at.

As I waited in the car line to pick up my innocent child, I see all the “zeros” piling out of the school, skipping and hopping. Then I see my wonderful “zero” himself. He hops into the car.

“Hey buddy how was your day?”

“Fun. I learned what sound M makes! Mmmmmmmm!”

“Good job buddy!”

We leave the line. As we are pulling out an ambulance pulls in, sirens wailing.

“Look mom! A bambulance! Weeeoo!” He giggles.

“I see, buckaroo. I hope everything is ok.”

We pull up to the stoplight, singing some Halloween sing-alongs. I glance in the mirror at my sweet boy, blonde curls falling into his face. I am stopped in my tracks. Above his mass of blonde hair I see it. “One” in red.


I am startled by the car behind me. I look up and see a “two” impatiently honking his horn. I had no idea the light had turned. I quickly make a u-turn at the light and head back to school.

“What’s wrong, mommy?”

I had tears down my face, white knuckles gripping the wheel.

“Mommy is fine, I am just worried about the ambulance at school.”

I whip into the parking lot. The ambulance is still there, cops are cordoning off the entrance. My mind races.

“What did he do?” I think to myself.

“Ma’am, we have to ask you to leave” spouted a gruff, portly man in a police uniform.

“I’m sorry, my son goes here. Can I ask what happened?”

“I’m sorry, we can’t give out any information, I would expect to hear from the school this evening”.

My son and I drive off. My mind in pieces. I glance in the mirror again. There he was, a massive red “one” still sticking out above his head. He is unwrapping a piece of candy.

“We had a Halloween party today. I got lots of candy!” He says through chocolate covered teeth.

“That’s cool buddy”

We pull into the driveway and I stare at the number.

“What are you looking at, mommy?” He says as he giggles.

“Nothing, hey bud, what did you do at the end of the day today?”

“We had a party, we ate some candy. I shared mine with my friend Dylan!”

“Is that all? Nothing else happened?”

“Ummm, I don’t know”

“Ok, buddy”

He gets out, his Spider-Man backpack unzipped and hanging from his shoulder. What could he have done? What life could he have taken?

I go through the motions. Laundry, after school snack. My boy is blissfully unaware of my concern and my pain.

Ring ring

The sound of my phone startled me.


“It is with heavy hearts that this announcement has to be made. School will be closed to all students and staff due to a medical emergency that took the life of one of our students this afternoon. Counselors will be on staff all next week for staff and students as we work together to process this tragic incident in our school and community. More information will be released as it becomes available. Rest assured your students are safe with us and there is no immediate harm to anyone in the schools at this time.”

The recorded call ends with a click. I put the phone down as tears stream from my face.

“A medical emergency? How the Hell was he responsible for a medical emergency?”

My hands shake as I make tomorrows lunch for him. I peek into his room as he is playing with his plastic dinosaurs.

“Boom!” He slams a triceratops into a T-Rex. I wince, imagining what is happening in his mind.

As I’m finishing up dinner, I check my emails. There’s a notice from the school.

As many of you received word of the incident at school today, the staff at Lebanon Elementary feel it is crucial to send out this notice. This school is a peanut-free school. We understand that with the excitement of Halloween, minor details can slip through the cracks, but peanut allergies are a serious condition. Although rare, the tragic passing of one of our Kindergartners should serve as a stark and grim reminder that all rules and policies must be adhered to for the safety of our students

The lump in my throat swells. Tears fall onto the screen like rain on a Spring day.

“What’s wrong, mommy?” His little voice cuts like a knife, the number “one” glows brighter than ever. He wraps his arms around my waist.

I kneel down and hug him.

“What candy did you share with your friend today?”

“I gave him one of my peanut butter cups that came in our spooky bags! He had never had one before! I shared just like you taught me mommy, aren’t you proud?”

::This is my first time ever writing one of these, so please don’t be too harsh. I have no formal training or any experience writing other than papers in college. I just thought of a scenario that could plausibly happen, and as the mother of a 5 year old, was fairly relatable and realistic. Thank you for reading!::


Laramila t1_it9fxqm wrote

I was wondering how long it would take before we'd see killed by peanut butter here


MermaidsHaveWifi t1_it9o02f wrote

That’s been one of the things with school that I have been SO careful with. So it’s literally like a horror story for me lol


LifeBegins50 t1_itbbztz wrote

I will admit that I guessed what had happened as soon as he said he had shared his candy with Daniel. That said this was well written!


MermaidsHaveWifi t1_itii3e3 wrote

Well thank you! I figured it may be predictable, but I just couldn’t get over the plausibility of it. My after thought was to, after he said “I shared just like you taught me” for the mom to see a “one” above her head. Maybe I’ll be a little more creative next time. Thank you for the kind feedback!


FroggySpirit t1_it8u1q6 wrote

“Hey kiddo, how’d your day go?”

“It was, I did, I think it was, uh, good.”

“That’s good to hear, buddy. So… did anything interesting happen?”

“I dunno. Mama picked me up from school, and she, and we walked down the bridge, and there—oh, and there was a man on the bridge!”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah daddy, but he was on the bridge. Like—“

He laid one of his hands flat, and then put two fingers on his opposite hand on top of it to mimic a person standing on top of something.

“Well that’s not how you’re supposed to walk on a bridge! Silly man… what happened when you saw him?”

“He was, uh, he was crying, and Mama told me to stay away, but I didn’t wanted to because he was sad. So I went up to him and I grabbed his leg, and I, and I said ‘why are you crying?’ because he was crying.”

“Yeah, I think you mentioned that he was crying. What did he do when you grabbed his leg?”

“He came down and, and he picked me up! Like this like big!” He stretched his arms high over his head, and then wrapped them around himself. “And then he hugged me, and then he said thank you, and then I saw a bird and—“

I sat there and kept a level smile as my son continued to tell me about his day. My gaze drifted once more to that number floating above his head, and I couldn’t help but feel a spike of tears in my eyes.



polopolo05 t1_itavl7x wrote

Wouldnt you see lots of negative numbers from people saving others. from doctors to emts and even life gaurds.


purduephotog t1_itqolxc wrote

>Wouldnt you see lots of negative numbers from people saving others. from doctors to emts and even life gaurds.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I like this idea though.


polopolo05 t1_itqtmbw wrote

Be warry of the doctor with a positive kill count


iwanttodiedotjpeg t1_it7yfor wrote

-- TW: Mentions of domestic abuse --


I was only 10 years old when it first happened. I sat on the floor in my room rocking my stuffed bear to sleep. If I couldn’t sleep from all the screaming, maybe he could. Poor Mr. Stuffington.

“You fucking bitch!” I hear my father’s voice boom from the hall.

“Please, Arthur,” My mom’s voice trembles as she tries to quell him. “Not in front of Alison.” Glass smashes, likely another picture frame. I rock harder.

“I’m gonna fucking kill you.” He rumbles.

Footsteps quickly pad down the hallway as my mother throws open my door and slams it shut. I don’t look up, I just keep rocking.

“Alison,” She whispers urgently. I don’t look. Keep rocking. Sleep Stuffington. “Alison!” She starts to cry as I look up. She mimes covering her ears and closing her eyes. “Whatever you do, don’t look.” I notice her hand is holding a piece of broken glass.

Bang bang bang! My door handle rattles and the frame creaks as he begins to force his way in. “Arthur, please! For the love of God!” She sobs as the door finally busts open.

He starts to reach for her throat as she quickly takes the shard of glass and shoves it deep into his throat. Blood sprays everywhere. Gurgling, choking, sobbing. If I only I had had time to follow her directions. Shh Mr. Stuffington, you’re okay.

I look to my mom as her breathing slows and she braces herself against the wall. What was my father laying on the floor. She turns to me now and slowly walks to me. She kneels down and takes my face in her hands.

“We’re safe now, honey.” She gives me a sad smile.

Suddenly a red number 1 appears above her head as my dad rattles out his last breath


Since that day I’ve seen many kill counts. Most people are zeros — obviously. I can see them in person or on screens. I tested it with famous serial killers several times by looking at their pictures.

Sometimes I think of it as a blessing, it keeps me safe. It keeps me away from those who could hurt me, or my family. I’m 28 now with a wonderful husband and 5 year old son. I like to think my kill count power brought me safely to them. Of course my husband is a 0.

“Richard! I’m home.” I come in from grocery shopping to see my husband waiting for me. He shifts his weight from side to side, avoiding my gaze. “Richard, is something wrong?” He looks up at me and gives me a sheepish smile.

"Um,” He stops for a minute and looks to the floor. “Alex wanted to go to a friend’s house today after school, so I let him.” He winces as my face flushes with heat.

“You what?!” I almost scream. My breathing catches in my throat as I brace myself against the counter. “Who? Who?”

“Alison, we can’t keep him sheltered forever. He needs to make friends, be his own kid. I met with the parents, they seemed like wonderful people. He will be back within the hour.”

He met them, but I didn’t. I need to see them, they could’ve murdered him already. Tears well up in my eyes as I picture burying my only child. I start to rock my arms as I feel Richard put his hands on my shoulders.

“Ali, look at me.” I slowly look up. “He will be fine.” I wish I could believe him. You don’t know how many murderers we all walk past everyday. Anyone, anywhere. This is why I made the rules. No going anywhere without me. I can keep him safe. And now, he doesn’t have me.

I don’t pick Alex up from school out of fear. I’d rather be blissfully ignorant most of the time. I don’t necessarily have a choice in sending him there. Richard just thinks I have social anxiety. I could never tell anyone about this power. One, because they wouldn’t believe me. And two, they might make me their next kill for knowing.

I rock, pace, and pray as the hour passes. Richard decided to let me decompress on my own. I don’t blame him, but he needs to understand my rules. The doorbell snaps me out of my daytime nightmares as I almost run to the door. My baby boy safe and… my breath hitches in my throat. I feel myself go numb. Richard thanks the family and ushers Alex back inside.

“See Ali? Perfectly fine." He ruffles Alex’s hair and walks away. I stare at my child. His counter. It should be a 0. It needs to be a 0. I blink so many times, I rub my eyes.

“Mommy? Are you okay?” His big blue eyes stare up at me.

“Uh, yeah, honey. Mommy just needs to lie down.” I practically run for the bedroom. I slam the door and lock it behind me. Mr. Stuffington looks at me from the headboard. I begin to rock.

Why does my baby boy have a 1 above his head?


Fatale-Noire t1_it83t7m wrote

It was strange and almost curious the way his eyes told a different story. He tumbled about, giggling and clapping about with the other children and I was sure that I could have been seeing things. Maybe it was an accident, like with an animal, maybe it was in a dream. Surely he couldn’t understand what that really meant, what it really felt like. I didn’t see it in his eyes. They didn’t look empty, but you can never know with them.

I’ve been able to see them for a long time, the numbers. Rising up and up nearly every day. People who sit in the streets, people who go to work, go to school, mothers, fathers, friends. One by one they display themselves to me and I keep it, their secrets, their kill counts. I have not seen any that surprise me anymore, even with those closest to me. What a great secret to hold, that you’ve killer someone and it makes me wonder how many people truly know the people around them.

As an adult, it’s no longer disheartening to see other adults with these numbers. It makes you wonder what their stories really are, but this one. This child. A perfect number one above his head as he plays pirates in the sand with his many friends on this quiet beach. I wonder what he could have been through at so young an age, but my thought does not stay for too long.

I am greeted with a smile by a woman I do not know who has been monitoring the children and I can see on her face that she is worn out. She sits relatively close and I do not make eye contact with her but I already see she is looking for some kind of conversation that does not include toys or snacks.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen him smile in a long time.” She was looking towards the boy and I came to a conclusion that he was hers.

“Your son?”

“Mm,” she nodded in agreement. “He’s much more lively now since our accident.”

“Accident?” I ask, wondering if this is the piece to the puzzle.

“My daughter recently passed, his little sister. She was only a few weeks old and,” her voice cracked, “he was the only one there to witness it.” I immediately turned around to look at her and I saw something that I felt was unfamiliar for mothers. Fear. Fear of her own child. Her eyes wandered back to her son as did mine and his eyes met ours.


danman296 t1_it7gar2 wrote

It took a while, a whole summer to be exact, but the story finally made its way to the light - light he worked so hard to deny to so many. You suppose you should recap the night’s events in your own mind.

The darkness of the parking lot is only impeded by the bright-burning victorian style lampposts that line the sidewalks. You’re sitting, quietly gleeful, in your carseat while your family is inside attending a town meeting. All of a sudden, in the distance, you see it: the decrepit silhouette of the most hated man in town.

“I feel like celebrating!” you hear him triumphantly proclaim while gallivanting toward your row of cars. After all, why wouldn’t he feel on top of the world after executing his master plan to create a monopolistic energy empire?

Your eyes meet from across the way, and you can tell he recognizes you. This fills you with icicles, which coincide with the molten orb of opportunity that burns inside your stomach.

“Oh it’s you, what are you so happy about?” he mutters, seemingly jolted awake from this waking dream he’s been indulging in.

The lollipop. You can tell from the lustful glint in his eye that it’s the one thing in this town he knows he can’t have, and the firm grip of desire has enfolded him. But, really, who’s going to stop him now?

“I see.”

You can tell you’re past the point of no return already. His insatiable instinct won’t allow this to end any other way. His lips confirm what his eyes have already said.

“I think you better drop it.”

Everything past this declaration of dominance becomes a blur. He reaches out to grab the forbidden fruit (this time, a green apple), and the struggle ends as quickly as it begins as his trusty Smith and Wesson revolver falls gracefully, as if guided by a divine power, into your toddling fingers. The bang hurts your ears, and the pistol falls to the floor.

He stumbles away, stricken, but you know whether he lives or dies, this is only the beginning.


IzDelP t1_it7hi26 wrote

Isn't that.. isn't that the Simpsons episode where Maggie shoots Burns ?


The5Virtues t1_it7lmis wrote

It sure is! As told from Maggie’s eyes; I love it!


The5Virtues t1_it7lqdx wrote

You magnificent fiend, my candle of nostalgia just flared so bright I was almost blinded!


cadecer t1_it8lcj0 wrote

They say when you take a life, you carry that life with you until the day you die.

I've read some interviews (watched Youtube videos) with murderers doing life in prison, and they all say the same thing. Some variation of, "whenever I close my eyes, I see my victim's face."

The thing about murderers is that, unless they're in an orange jumpsuit or on wanted posters, you don't know their secret—that they've killed. Imagine if you could know... Imagine if you could see a number floating above someone's head telling you exactly how many people they've killed. Your neighbors, your grocery clerks, your coworkers, your partner...

What would you do if there was a kill count floating above their head? If you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they've taken a life. Or more...

Me? I stay clear of them. What else can I do?

But sometimes, there is no staying clear.


"Are you sure you've got this?" Karla, my wife asked. She was standing in the front door of our house, rolling luggage at her feet, thermos of Brazilian Bold in her fist. She was—is the love of my life—and her knowing about my...ability, and accepting me nonetheless, is a big part of my loving her. She's also a total babe. And...the mother of our five-year-old, Jake. "It's not too late to call the babysitter. Please tell me you've got this."

"You know," I said, shoving my hands into my Jedi bathrobe pockets, "I think my feelings are starting to get hurt here, Karl. I'm not some complete idiot."

She smiled. "No, you're not. But how am I supposed to forget Orlando?"

"That was an isolated incident! Besides, we found him in like, ten minutes." I sighed. "Please, you can count on me."

She pressed her palm against my cheek and leaned in for a kiss, swerved from my puckered lips, and planted one on my forehead. "Play it by the book, okay?"

I nodded.

And with that, my wife left on a week long business trip, leaving me and Jake alone. Silence filled the house for a moment, the kind of silence between lightning and thunder, the kind of silence before the world shakes. The kind of silence before war.

"Okay!" I shouted, turning from the door. "Prepare for batt—"

A nerf bolt hit me right where Karla had kissed me. I grinned, pulled two Nerf pistols from my voluminous robe pockets, and struck a Gun-Fu pose. "You're going down, Jake-sama!"


In the end, both Jake and I ended up puking. Him from overstimulation, and me from eating a big breakfast before running all over the house like a madman while screaming and firing Nerf guns. We cleaned up the mess, had carrots and hummus for a snack, and plopped on the couch to watch Vicky the Brave Llama, Jake's favorite cartoon. It was about noon when Grover rang the bell.

I opened the door, and our mailman stood there holding a package. He was in his late fifties, black, and had a golden, spectral 1 floating above his company-issued bucket hat. I never asked about it and he never brought it up. So, we left it at that.

"Morning," I said, still tasting the hummus from earlier. I tried not to wipe my cheek pockets with my tongue. "Anything good today?"

"Shiiiiit," Grover said, stretching out the word into a sentence. "Not a damn thing." He handed me the certified envelop and a digital pad to sign. "Sorry bout this one, chief."

It was a jury duty notice. "Ah, dammit."

He handed me more mail, mostly Karla's, and peeked around me for a second. "Just you and the kid?"

"Yeah. Wife's out of town on business."

He nodded, as if I'd said I was going to war. "You'll be alright."

"I know," I said, totally not defensively. "You know, I am a capable father."

Grover eyed by bathrobe. I followed his eyes and found a little patch of semi-dried puke hanging on my collar. I smiled. "Puke. You know kids."

"You take care, chief."

"Yeah, you too," I said and closed the door.

I dropped the mail off on the kitchen counter, topped off my coffee mug, and padded back to the living room. Becky and her owner, a little mountain girl named Sora, were busy climbing treacherous mountain trails on the TV, and I plopped back down on the couch to watch.

There's a lot of reasons why I could have been a shit dad. First, I had a shit dad. That sort of sets you up for failure unless you do something about it. And I did. Second, I'm a recovering addict. Despite being eleven years clean and sober, there's always that trickle of doubt in my mind. Karla doesn't doubt me. She worries, she's cautious, she cares. But she doesn't doubt me. Sometimes, that's worse than if she did doubt me. At least that way, I can't disappoint her. But, here we are. And third, I can see numbers floating over people's head showing me how many people they've killed. What kind of dad can do that?


Yeah, I get a little distracted. Yeah, some days are tougher than others, but—

I turned and looked at where Jake should have been on the couch. He wasn't there.

"Jake?" I shouted. "You know you gotta tell me if we're playing hide and seek, right?"

No answer.

A stab of panic shot through my chest. He had to be hiding. He still asks me to help him go potty, so that can't be it—unless he's going on his own? First thing's first. I'll find him, and when I do, I'll remind him of letting daddy know when he goes off by himself.

"Okay!" I shouted, hiding the fear in my voice. "Ready or not; here I come!"

Two hours later, I had my phone in my hand, Karla's number on screen, my thumb hovering over the "CALL" button. I'd turned the entire house upside down.

I was not panicking. My body may have been freaking the hell out, but my mind was calm, zen even. It was the calm that always came when shit went sideways in my life. It scared me sometimes, but right now, it was the only thing keeping me from losing it.

Karla must still be at the airport. She's always hours early for her flights. If I call her now, she'd come back in a heartbeat. She'd help me keep my cool, and we'd search for Jake together. She'd also never trust me to watch our son alone again.

What kind of father would that make me? Can't even trust me to watch our kid for a couple of hours before losing him.

I crumpled to the living room carpet. The couch was overturned behind me. I stared at my phone.

"I'm such a piece of sh—"


I whipped around so fast my phone went flying out of my hand. Jake was standing by the glass doors leading out to the backyard. Of course! Why hadn't I checked there?

"Honey, where have you been! I was looking—"

Jake had his mother's dark, sleepy eyes and button nose. He had my dusty brown hair and lighter complexion. He was beautiful. Proof that something good can come from me—half of me. And floating above this living, breathing miracle, my precious baby boy, was a golden, spectral number 1.



[Part 2 to come?]


sehruncreative t1_itb6e41 wrote

Omg I'm invested. What did Jake do??? Why did he leave in the first place? I need to know what he did!


TruthIsALie94 t1_it8pwts wrote

“1,000? That can’t be right.” I thought to myself. My sister-in-law’a son was sitting playing video games on the couch, his little thumbs clacking away on his controller. The rules, as I have learned, are as such; the number of kills only counts intentional deaths and even then it doesn’t count self defense and yet, here was my five year old nephew with a massive “1,000” hanging over his head.

“Hey, bud. Whatcha been doin lately?” I asked nervously as he turned his attention towards me. With a smile he replied “Sending letters.” “To who?” I asked dumbly “People I hate.” He replied nonchalantly.

I spoke to my sister-in-law asking if I could look in nephews letter writing materials. “Why?” I honestly didn’t know how to answer. Her and my wife are the only two people I’ve told about my weird ability but I couldn’t imagine she would believe it if I told her that her son is a mass murderer. “I need an envelope.”

As I was searching I found masks, gloves and a small glass jar with a biohazard symbol on it. A small amount of white powder was left inside. As I stared in utter horror I saw an unfinished letter out of the corner of my eye… addressed to me.


Miltonaut t1_itg9wb2 wrote

This is an intriguing concept. I'd really like to see it fleshed out so I could enjoy it more.

You say the nephew is 5 years old... Does he have the rough handwriting of a young child? How did he acquire the toxin? Is he a human with powers? With connections? Possessed? Or just mentally advanced for his age?


Jealous_Bar17 t1_it8arvj wrote

The day had been no different than the others in the week.

Take my daughter to school, go back home to clean around the house, buy groceries so that cooking would be a breeze once dinner rolled around. The same routine as usual.

Only…something was very, very different from how it always was.

And that was because my sweetest, most precious daughter had the numbers 1 and 0 hovering above her head.

Ten. Ten people…she had killed? Impossible.

I stared at her in the rear view mirror as I drove us back home from school, trying my best not to lose my bearings as thoughts raced through my head.

How could this be…she was only five. There was no way she even knew what killing was, let alone how to do such a thing. No, no…this must have been a mistake.

I knew that my gift was never wrong though. It was always spot on when it came to murderers, serial killers and the like. I prayed that this was a fluke for the first time in my gift.

The gift in itself and why it was placed upon me was still a mystery, but I had a feeling it had something to do with the devil. No gift that involves death wouldn’t be associated with him - it just wouldn’t make sense.

But I could bear with the fact that this gift was flawed more than the thought of my sweet girl doing something so heinous. And ten…not even one, but ten? I felt nauseous at the thought.

I didn’t know what to do in that moment, as she stared out the window, humming what sounded like London Bridge is Falling Down. I didn’t know if I should bring it up or let it be but…something told me to ask, so I did.

“So sweetie, how was your day at school?”

I smiled warmly to her as I made a left turn, merging into the lane that connects to the highway.

“It was good. My teacher said I did good in art.” She smiled brightly as she said that.

“Wow! I’m so proud of you, that’s so great to hear. What did you make?”

She didn’t respond right away, and I took a moment to make sure it was safe to get on the road before looking back at her again. And that choice is something I would regret.

She was staring right at me with an expression I could only describe as wholly sinister. Her eyes held a coldness no five year old should ever have, and I was frozen in place, so terrified I couldn’t move.

“Well, there was a lot of things I made. You see mommy, skin is a really great material when you’re making things. It’s even prettier when decorated in red.”

The evil smile spread across her face as I gasped at her, still unable to move, my foot on the pedal of the gas only pushing down more in my frozen state.

50, 60, 70…

The speed climbed higher until the car in front of us started to inch closer and closer. I knew what was about to happen. I closed my eyes.

I heard my daughter’s voice for the last time, whispering softly to me in that moment.

“When you steal something, it’s only fair that the rightful owner takes it back. I did enjoy watching you struggle with something that belonged to me, but don’t worry, you won’t have to struggle for any longer.”

That wasn’t my daughter’s voice. But I couldn’t question it for long because the impact happened soon after.

Before I passed, I saw one thing flash across my vision.



Stoic-Dreamventurer t1_it9jgwo wrote

So.. I, uh…I can see the number of people a person has killed, floating above their head. If they haven’t killed anyone, that number is 0…Now, it doesn’t always have to be that they killed a person themselves, no…Um, for example: one time I witnessed a bus driver refuse to let a woman board because she didn’t have enough money. I couldn’t help, as I had left my money at home and purchased an E-ticket. When the doors slammed shut, she ran crying into traffic, screaming that her son had been left home in his crib, unattended, and she had to get to him to administer his medicine.

She got hit by a taxi. Dead on impact. I watched with the other bus goers, in pure horror. I felt terrible, and wish that I had been able to give her my E-ticket, but it was non-transferable. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw the numbers above 70% of the other bus riders heads go up 1, including the bus driver.

About an hour later, I saw most of their numbers increase by 1 again. My stomach twisted as I remembered what she had said about administering her baby’s medicine. She never made it back, and that child never got their medicine.

One day, years later I picked up my daughter from daycare. She was 5 years old, and as expected every day her number was 0. I was sure that I would die an old man and never see that number change. But today…Today I picked Ada up as usual, but instead of that pristine “0” floating above her head, I saw a number that simply defied all expectations. Numbers I’d only seen on politicians, Mafia leaders, and strangely enough, a few doctors.

I tried not to show her my spike in emotions, the panic that began to spread from my spine to the rest of my body. We went home, and talked instead about where we would go tomorrow, as it was a Sunday, and as such, I had the whole day free to spend time with her.

I planned a simple outing, just my child and their stuffed gorilla toy “Gogo”, intent on finding a way to get my daughter to tell me how she had managed to kill over 5,000,000 people.

Being a doctor and a licensed psychiatrist, I thought this would be a simple enough task. Though I’ve done riskier things to get confessions from folks in the past, this should be a simpler task. Most, if not all of the deaths I’d seen the number of were from accidental events, and the rest had been purely intentional.

My 5 year old daughter, my darling Ada, had somehow intentionally caused the deaths of over 5,000,000 people! But HOW!?!? Never-mind the why, as she’s only 5- just…Just HOW in the hell had Ada been responsible for the death of LITERAL MILLIONS!?

We were about one hour into playtime at the children’s fun park, when the answer to my question finally came to me.

Ada: “Daddy…?” Me: “Yes my darling Ada?” Ada: “I took the bad man’s candy, daddy.” Me: “Sweetheart, what? What bad man? What’s this candy look like?” Ada:“I…I saw him in your…office? He had funny eyes, but…like…Bad funny, daddy. And he had a vewy vewy big numbers over his head. They got bigger and bigger everwy that I saw him.”

My mind whirled, and I searched my memory to see if I could put a face to match Ada’s vague description. As a psychiatrist, I wasn’t sure I could describe ANY of my patients in particular as having “Bad funny” eyes… Unless…

Me: “Ada, baby, what day exactly did you take that man’s “Candy”, and where is it now?”

Wait, she can see the numbers too? She is my daughter, after all…

Ada:”…Pwomise not to get angery…I think he was the pwesmndewmp or something.”

Me: “The what? Ada, what day was it?”

Ada: “Satuwday.”

The realization rocked me to the core. Saturday, over 5 million deaths, the universe was…It was holding my little Ada responsible for the actions of one man, my most high-profile client of my career:

The president of the United States. She took his medicine intentionally, thinking it was candy, because she somehow knew that the numbers over his head were bad! But…But that medicine was his antipsychotic prescription…

That day, I learned that my daughter Ada was blamed by the universe for the psychotic break of the United States President, directly impacting his decision to bomb an entire country for their suspected involvement in terrorist events over the last several years.

She set Gogo the stuffed gorilla down and ran to the swings, shouting back to me:

“Daddy, Gogo is going to go play by himself, but I want you to push me on da swings! Haha, let’s go daddy!”

My face went white, and sweat began to bead on my forehead. When little Ada ran to the swings, her number stayed behind. As she reached the swing set, her numbers showed 0.

But Gogo, on the other hand?

“Over 5,000,000”.


blubearrry t1_it93qdr wrote

I had always had this strange ability. I thought about telling somebody or using it to get a great job but in the end I had decided the best thing was to keep it to myself and just live my life away from people higher than a 1. A 1 can be bad but also you don't know their stories... It could've been in self defense. And so that's what I did. Nobody knows.

I now have a wife with a 1. She killed her dad when she was 12 and he was beating her mom as he did often, he was a drunken and she panicked, grabbed his bottle and shattered it over his head... Cracked his skull and he died almost instantly.

My child Sam is 2 years old, obviously a 0 and hopefully it'll always stay that way. Looking back now i would've been happy if he'd grown up to be a regular serial killer compared to now. I had gone on a vacation to Paris for work and unfortunately had to leave them behind for a week. Well... I got home and

I look at Sam... 12. I blinked, 39. 75. 90. It continued rising all while he was just sitting there. I figured it couldn't be real- there was no way THERE WAS NO FUCKING WAY but... It was.. And he just.. Stared at me. With those complete black eyes. "Hello papa." He says in this dark raspy voice, the one you would hear from some dude living in the woods in a horror movie who turns out isn't a killer and saves the main character in the end.

He smiled at me... And I'll never forget the words he said. "150. 180. 200." All as the numbers hit there. After that he went limp and just fell backwards. 2 days later he woke up and his number was 0. It was just a hallucination or something is what I wish i could tell you but no. It happens every single FUCKING month. I saw on the news. 200 people every month die. His eyes are emerald green but during those times they're completely black. Look I could actually use some help here, please somebody help me. I.. My number when I look in the mirror is 0, but... As I held my hands around his neck... I watched it turn to 1... And then I felt as if I'd been shot in the head. I'm not typing this in the emergency room and... Now whenever I look at somebody... Their numbers are always 666



ThexLoneWolf t1_it90ne8 wrote

I called it a stand ability, because it felt like something out of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. I couldn't summon the ghost, if it even existed, but regardless, that's what it reminded me of. Being able to see how many lives are on someone's conscious, it felt like a blessing.

That is, until that one Monday morning.

I didn't want to believe it at first. When I saw that "one" printed on Susan's head, I desperately didn't want to believe it. It felt like something out of a dream. I didn't realize I was awake until I spilled my coffee on my other hand and burned myself. It was an accident, of course, but then I looked at Susan again, and that "one" was still there.

One life. On her conscious. It couldn't be real. Could it?

Susan had been spending the weekend at a friend's house, and I was away on a business trip over the weekend. My wife said nothing happened at the friend's house, and her number was still zero, so I figured whatever happened, she had nothing to do with it.

Amy was Susan's friend, so I decided to talk to her mother the next time I saw her. She denied anything happened, but one thing I noticed was that the titan of a man who was her husband wasn't in the same room, or constantly hovering near her like he usually was. A few days later, he was reported missing when he failed to show up for work.

It took a few years, but his body, or I guess I should say, bones turned up in a shallow grave in the woods not far from Amy's house. Her mom taken away to another city by then, so she was long gone. But I knew neither she nor her daughter was responsible. My stand ability confirmed it.

I don't know precisely what happened, I've never confronted Susan about it. If I had to guess, I'd say that the husband tried to pull something. Tried to do something inappropriate. Self-defense, most likely. I know that doesn't preclude the possibility of something else happening, but ignorance is bliss sometimes.

Funny. I say that ignorance is bliss, yet I have an ability that denies me that bliss.

Sucks to be me, I guess.


dennisbewriting t1_ita6izs wrote

It was never my strong suit, especially in high school. And it wasn’t much easier as a 32 year old man. Eventually, I started bringing a calculator to work for this very purpose.
Let me explain myself. To put it bluntly, I can see people’s kill counts. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how it happened either. Ever since I was born I could choose to see a floating number above a person’s head.
Usually it’s 0, in some form. My ability doesn’t like to make it easy. Typically I’ll see something like 3-3, or 5^x = 1. People with 0s tend to have it easy, and people with kills tend to be more complicated. It’s never fully consistant and varies both ways, but it’s a good indicator usually.
I work as a detective, helping the police in solving cold cases. Have you ever watched Dateline or Cold Justice? Thank me for solving such cases, because I bring 90% of them to light. I pride myself in my work, because it’s not all thanks to my ability. A lot of research, digging, hunting, driving, and anything else you can think of. You’d be surprised, trust me.
That’s enough background, I suppose. Let’s get into the present. Yesterday I got home from work to my apartment. It wasn’t much, but it’s better than being homeless. The stairs often creak, the windows whine every time I touch them, and don’t get me started on the doors. No amount of WD-40 can fix them. Sometimes I find it more mysterious than my own powers.
I walked in, kicking off my decrepit boots. The smell of pumpkin overwhelmed my senses as I walked into the living room to the unusual scent. My 5 year old son, Jackson, lay sleeping on the side of the couch. His babysitter, a family friend, sat idle, potentially sleeping, as a soap opera blared on the television. A candle lay burning on the table, illuminating the dark room. I’ve always loved the scent of pumpkin, it reminds me of fall. A beautiful time of the year, really. I figured the babysitter must have brought it. He always has a fun thing to share with Jackson. He’s a great person; I’m lucky to have him around. I spotted his backpack slumped up against the couch: a receipt, a couple notebooks, and an empty plastic baggie. He must have bought the candle then. I was going to ask, but I didn’t have the chance, because I heard soft snores from him. They were both asleep. it really brings It’s a shame I have to work so late sometimes, but I don’t have an option. I really would love to see my son more, but providing as a single father isn’t easy, you know.
It’s not often I use my power around my family, but it doesn’t hurt. Jackson always read a flat 0. Well today it changed. As I concentrated, a red equation appeared above his head. “lim x->10 | (x^2 + x - 90)/(x-10)”. I was confused, but I’ve seen them change in other people before, for no real reason. Usually the answer doesn’t change, so I figured as such. The denominator yielded a 0, so I figured nothing had changed. I set down my briefcase near the staircase, and walked into the kitchen to prepare myself supper.
About 30 minutes later that night, I was eating a slice of meatloaf on the couch. I changed the channel to a Bengals game, and tried to relax. There wasn’t much room due to the 2 sleeping people on each side of the couch, but I didn’t feel like waking them up. Jackson gets cranky when interrupted, and the babysitter deserves some sleep for dealing with the aforementioned little shit. I spaced out, drifting into a memory.
I was in my 9th grade classroom, sketching in my notebook. My Algebra II teacher rambled on, something about factoring. “And if you do this right, clever cancelling will occur. If clever cancelling does not occur, then you did something wrong.” I sighed at his remark; he was quite the eccentric teacher. He always had a corny remark or one of his many catchphrases for any given moment. Briefly after, I snapped back into reality.
The TV blared 43-7. Another embarrassing loss for the Cowboys. I thought back to my memory. Factoring, I pondered. It then clicked. When it did, I went and grabbed a notebook from my shelf. Doing some quick math, I came to a horrifying conclusion. When factored, the equation yields the answer 1.
I shot up, waking up the babysitter. He slowly stirred to life.
“Matthew, what the hell has Jackson been up to today?” I said, letting my emotions get the best of me. I felt bad yelling at the guy, but can you blame me?
“Just watched TV. Let him draw in my notebooks. Can you check if he put them back? I think I heard him rummaging through it earlier but I must’ve fallen asleep.”
Yea yea, lazy bastard, I thought, still worried but glad nothing seemed out of the ordinary so far. As I pulled up his backpack, I found the notebook in question. Just a little sketch of some pirates, nothing out of the ordinary for Jackson. He had quite the imagination, after all. As I set it down, the receipt fell from the top, fluttering down slowly. I caught it, and started to read;
So he bought it! As I was about to thank him, I read the second item.
“The hell you need that for? I told you I had Advil in the cabinets,” I inquired.
“For Jackson. He said his head was hurting, so I picked it up. Advil isn’t supposed to be used for young children. I put the rest in a bag; you’re free to take them for the future, grab ‘em out of my backpack.”
The gears started to turn in my head. I turned white.
“IT’S FUCKING EMPTY. DID YOU GIVE HIM THEM ALL?” I yelled in horror. And then it clicked.
When someone dies of natural causes, or any way that doesn’t involve being killed, their counter goes up. I’m not really sure why, but I guess it’s consistant. I dashed across the room, praying I was wrong. I grabbed Jackson’s hand, heart racing. It was cold.


Consistent-Appeal-52 t1_itadohc wrote

That is a really dumb babysitter! Or perhaps Jackson was given one, but he went back after the babysitter left and downed the entire bottle.


patentmom t1_itb9v1s wrote

More likely the kid got into it by himself, or the babysitter's number would have changed, too.

Edit: typo


dennisbewriting t1_itc07i7 wrote

This was what i tried to imply! I'm not an amazing writer so I'm not sure how i did, but I'm trying everyday to get better :)


ratusratus t1_it9zmre wrote


Here it's me,

looking at people's forehead,

to tell me how many are dead,

cos I got that power of a pillar,

To see who's a killer.

One day, I found the number non zero,

On the head of my son, my hero,

I asked him, who did you kill,

He told me to chill,

And have a burrito,

As I only killed a mosquito.


HarleyDFLSTC t1_itau3bh wrote

After much research, I decided on hill country. The numbers are a little more predictable. Sometimes I dip my head to not see someone’s number and take a guess. 45 years of practice has made me scary accurate.

It’s not as weird as you might think. There’s a gap between old and new war vets where the numbers are lower. I get to laugh at the occasional braggart who claims a false war record. Bright ass zero sitting above his head. The old ladies who’s husbands passed recently at home of “natural causes”. The moonshiners coming into town for supplies and the occasional ruckus.

It’s rare that a number surprises me anymore. Mostly because of where we live. In fact I haven’t seen a new one in a while. I think they stayed so consistent for so long I kind of had forgotten about them.

It was a Tuesday evening during summer break. Rod and Irving (his mother’s choice. Her grandfather) were coming home from playing in the woods with friends. Both seemed weird. Almost scared. I’m ashamed to admit it took me too long to notice. There, above Irving’s head. A number 1. My stomach churned and I quickly vomited into the sink. Rod instantly knew something was wrong and began crying. Irving shortly after. I instantly sat on the kitchen floor. They came down to my level and began profusely apologizing.

Rod is 12 and Irving, 5. Once Rod could talk more calmly he explained they were playing on the old railroad bridge with friends from school. Chad had dared Irving to push Mark off the bridge. The river below is usually filled with enough water that it’s not uncommon for folks to jump. The boys had seen this happen plenty of times before. I don’t think Irving understood. He gave Mark a shove. I can only imagine he screamed before his teenage body gave a sickening thud. Neither boy was being that descriptive.

As other kids started getting upset, Chad’s laughter turned to anger. He started threatening everyone that the same would happen to them if they told anyone. He yelled at them all to keep their mouths shut and stormed off.

Before I could make it to town the sirens and craziness had already started. Chad made it into town and told a story of everyone witnessing Mark kill himself by jumping. Said he started crying that his parents would never understand him and leapt. I give him credit for keeping the story short. An easier lie to maintain.

What was I to do?! No one knew what I could see. Not even my boys.

I was still a month into planning our exit when I saw it. I had been keeping a close eye on him ever since.

Chad had his 1.

His own little brother was found dead in his bed that morning. He faked sadness well enough but I could tell it wasn’t sincere. At least my ability made it seem I could tell. It was probably bias.

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve watched CSI. They’ll have this case nailed down in 48 hours or less.

There was a reason I picked this place. Nobody questioned much and mostly kept to themselves. The Sheriff was two towns over and most times couldn’t be bothered.

I don’t remember how long it had been. I was a week away from moving us away when I got a notification on the video doorbell. There in the video, Chad with a number 2. Angry with the world and demanding the boys come with him or he’ll tell everyone what Irving did. Joseph was with him, holding back tears and trying his best to act normal. I don’t blame Rod for grabbing Irving and going along. He probably thought it was the best way to protect his brother. The look into the camera let me know he was scared but confident. I don’t know how I was able to make out his lips over the grainy video but I know he mouthed one word.


I drove as fast as I could. No cops and no one caring made it easy. I made it to the pullout and am still not sure how the car came to a stop and into park. It felt like I jumped while it was still moving.

As I ran, I heard what I thought it sounded like for Mark. The scared scream followed by a gross thwack. My stomach churned like that night but I didn’t have time to puke.

He and Rod begin struggling for control of Irving. I got there in time. Time enough to break Chad off and with a fist full of shirt and the angriest growl I’ve ever made, I sent him flying off the bridge. I don’t know if he screamed and frankly… I don’t care. His body hitting the rocks below didn’t sound grotesque. It sounded… justified.

There we stood looking down for a moment. Both my boys grabbed me and started sobbing. I did too.

Every day I struggled. Knowing that leaving now would only draw attention. We were never questioned. The sheriff closed the case in a matter of days. Rambling writings of a deranged teenager led them to believe he was behind everything. Eventually taking his own life as well.

I’ve internally forgiven Irving. I probably did that day but now I barely notice his number. Just as I rarely notice any living in the Pacific Northwest. Surprisingly they’re fewer. I must’ve avoided this area to avoid the surprise of seeing someone with a number.

Mine still stares me in the face every morning in the mirror. I have some guilt here and there. Mostly from being among those with a number. It’s humbling though and helps me be objective.

I’m in my 80’s now. The world seems a little darker these days. Not metaphorically. Like, literally getting dim. My boys being here leads me to believe they’ve been told my time is short. The beeping machines are fading by the hour. Irving had just come back from getting some coffee. The hospital staff leave in a panic as an alarm down the hall blares. As my vision fades to black everything stops for one crystal clear moment. I look at Rod. He and his family still zeros and happy. I don’t know how I became so blind to it. How had it escaped me. When did it go up? When did it become a 3? As the alarm and all other sounds fade. My family’s sobs. The beeping machines. Rod notices I’m in pain and attempts to comfort me. Irving stands in the doorway. My last site. His number vanishes but quickly returns. A 4. Damn you Chad. I’ll see you soon.


legomommy04 t1_itbjrlh wrote

I sighed as I stepped into my white 2007 Honda Accord and started the engine to pick up my five-year-old daughter, Lupe, from kindergarten. As I pulled out of the parking lot of my workplace, I could feel my spirits begin to lift instantly at the thought of seeing my baby's cheeky smile and sparkling brown eyes.

I was a single mother. I'd always hated referring to myself as a single mom because of the stigma that surrounds single mothers. Young, poor, baby daddy either left to get milk or got locked up in prison. You know how it goes. I guess I just hated that my life wasn't too far off from the stereotype. I married Lupe's father when I was nineteen and he was twenty-two, and got pregnant with her not too long after. I took a break from school while I was pregnant, but returned shortly after she was born because my ex-husband didn't make a whole lot of money as an aspiring musician, and I knew I needed something more than just an entry-level job if our family was going to make it.

But after Lupe was born, I began to notice faint numbers above people's heads. I learned pretty quickly that only I could see it, and that it was the number of people a person had killed. I tried to ignore it for the most part, especially when I noticed numbers other than zeros on my peers. Life was peaceful for a while until I saw that my ex-husband's number went up after he came home late one night. Come to find out, he tried to seduce another woman after one of his gigs and my cousin happened to be out with her girlfriend and caught him red-handed. Things escalated and he ended up killing her (my cousin). That particular cousin was one of my closest friends, so I didn't take her murder very lightly. My ex was the only person I'd ever turned in because of my ability.

As I pulled into the parking lot of Lupe's school and headed in, I imagined what new things might've happened at school. What new things did she learn? Did she make any new friends? After signing her out, I walked into her classroom with a grin.

"Hi, Mommy!"

My heart instantly melted at the sound of her soft, cooing voice.

"Hi, Baby! How was school today?" I asked as she ran to me and gave me a big hug.

"It was fun!"

When she pulled away, however, my heart dropped. The number above her head was no longer zero.

It was six.

"Guess what!? At recess, me and my friends made leaf soup and flower petal tea! And we also got to watch a movie about fish! Also, Angel hit Ruby again today, and he went to the principal's office..."

I couldn't even listen to what she was saying. My head was spinning trying to think of what could've made her number go up so much in just a few hours.

It was hours later when I started making dinner. I still couldn't stop thinking about Lupe's six victims. Who were they? How could she have possibly killed them? Just then, I received a call from her school.

"Hello, parents. We've just received word that three of our kindergarteners checked into the hospital today and six have sadly passed. Our entire staff is mourning the loss of our little angels and praying for the three in the hospital to make a full recovery. Please keep the families in your prayers as well, as losing a child is never easy for anyone. The families have disclosed to us that the doctors confirmed the cause of death to be ingestion of poisonous plants, more specifically, oleanders. Parents, please sit down with your children tonight and have a conversation with them about our school's tragic incident. We will be removing all the oleander plants effective immediately. Thank you all, and have a good evening."

As I set out dinner and pondered how I would break the news of her friends' deaths to my five-year-old daughter, Lupe brought out two cups of strawberry lemonade and set them precariously onto the dinner table.

"Did you pour that yourself?" I asked.

She smiled proudly. "Yeah!"

"Good job! You didn't make any messes!" I praised.

We sat down and prayed and began to eat our dinner. As I ate, I looked up to see Lupe happily sipping her lemonade and smiled. Just then, I noticed that the number above her head had gone up to seven.

How that was possible, I didn't know; she had been with me the entire time, and I never let her leave my sight.

That's when it hit me.

The oleanders. The leaf soup. The flower petal tea.

Lupe accidentally poisoned her classmates.

The number going up from six to seven was most likely one of the unlucky children in the hospital passing away just minutes ago.

How could I tell my five-year-old daughter that she killed her own friends by accident? I'd have to tell her about how oleanders are poisonous to ensure she doesn't touch them again, and she deserves to know that her classmates passed away. She was a smart girl; she'd connect the dots sooner or later.

With an exasperated sigh, I picked up my cup and drank the cold, refreshing lemonade.

Only, it tasted nothing like lemonade.

I narrowed my eyes as I scrutinized my beverage. It was pink, but the small chunks in it definitely weren't strawberries or lemons. The realization slowly began to dawn on me, but I didn't want to believe it.

"Lupe, what is this?"

My heart dropped as I heard her shaky voice say weakly, "Fl-flower petal tea."

I looked up in horror at my daughter's pale, clammy face. My terror intensified as I looked up at her number and saw that it was now at eight.

"I don't feel... feel good... mommy," she murmured as she swayed in her seat.

Shoving the chair away from me and scrambling to Lupe, I caught her just in time before she fell over. As I held her in my arms, she began to seize. Her body twitched uncontrollably as vomit began to come up in sporadic spurts, her head nodding drowsily and her eyes half closed as if she were falling asleep. I screamed for her to stop while fumbling around for my phone to call an ambulance. I held my baby girl to my chest and desperately cried out to God, ignoring the vomit and foam dropping all over me.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"

"Please, my five-year-old daughter ingested oleander! She's dying! You have to save her! She's my baby!"

Her twitching and vomiting was gradually slowing, and I pulled her away from my body to get a better look at her. Her mouth hung open and her eyes rolled back as the twitching slowed even further. The number over her head was flickering and dimming, and I knew she was already almost gone.

Just then, it felt like everything was beginning to slow down with Lupe. My head pounded slowly and I could feel my body getting weaker by the second.

"Ma'am, can you tell me where you are? Ma'am?" the operator asked.

"I h-had it... too... I can't..." I slurred as my vision blurred.

"Don't worry, ma'am, we're gonna find you and send someone over to help you. Just hang on, okay?"

I lowered Lupe and I to lay on the ground. She had ceased her twitching and vomiting, and was instead staring back at me with dark, lifeless eyes and no number over her head. I could hear my own heartbeat getting slower and slower with each passing second and I knew I would soon be joining her. My stomach cramped painfully, but I was too sluggish to do anything about it. With a twitching hand, I wiped away some vomit that was still left on her face and smiled.

A life without Lupe wasn't a life worth living anyway.


mimickme t1_itco4f6 wrote

Deep breaths, deep breaths. Joanne took another peek at her daughter. The innocent girl who wore a darling yellow sunflower dress along with a pair of dainty sandals they'd bought her for her first vacation. Her auburn hair swayed in the wind, freshly cut just above her shoulders, adorned with a blue ribbon. That same daunting digit hovered a few inches on top of her head, coloured in a gruesome red.


Joanne felt her legs begin to quiver but drew upon that self same courage she'd developed over her teenage years. The worse she'd felt had been seeing a man with double digits order a burger from the Wendy's she worked at. She hadn't managed to keep herself together but was young enough at the time that it could've easily been chalked up to a teenager's nerves at their first job. She had spent what seemed like an eternity after that locked inside her room.

"Mommy?" Elizabeth asked.

Joanne snapped out of her trance, years of practice slid on like a mask, donning a smooth composure as she replied, "Just looking at my cute darling. Where should we go for lunch?"

Her daughter replied with something and a sort of second persona continued to play the role of Joanne. They paced towards Victor road, no doubt aiming for a spot of burgers and ice cream at a local fast food. Meanwhile Joanne's mind retreated into herself, seeking any plausible explanation she could find for her daughter's sudden change.

Between yesterday and now there had been twelve...maybe fourteen hours when her daughter had left her. A simple sleepover at Terisa's house. Nothing had seemed of any bother when Terisa's mother answered the door, followed by Terisa herself and then finally, Elizabeth tailing at the end. No screams, no horrors, no police, no midnight calls. Nothing except the scarlet marking that Joanne had relied upon her entire life.

Two impossible realities began to clash with each other in her mind, either her five year old daughter had managed to kill someone in the middle of night, with none the wiser or maybe Joanne had really just been on the edge of insanity for all these years, picturing some non-existent numeric floating on top of people's heads that counted the individuals they'd killed. The more she compared those options to herself the more she found solace in her head.

But... her mind whispered.

And it was a sizable 'but'. The most telling experiments she'd run in those teenage years had been following streaks of murderers / rapists / car chases on television. Cross checking the kill counts she saw against what the police would eventually uncover. The most chilling confirmation had been when a little town's butcher had been found guilty of five murders but she'd seen three times that number. The extra deaths were later confirmed in a manner that terrified anyone who heard the news. Though they came as little surprise to Joanne who had known the facts, there were only so many ways to hide a body if you knew how many there were.

"Is it not yummy?" Her daughter asked her as she rejoined reality. "Would you like some of mine?"

Ice cream. Caramel ice cream. Joanne confirmed looking at her own cone, the sticky sugar almost gagged her mouth and induced a momentary panic. She hated all things caramel.

"It's fine," she said, "How was your sleepover with Terisa?"

"It was ok," Elizabeth replied, her eyes sparkling, "We played house, and helped Mrs. Greyf make cookies and...Oh! We played video games with her brother"

"Sounds like fun"

And very normal, that was good.

The conversation continued over the hideous caramel ice cream. Joanne pried gently for details here and there, piecing together the missing hours as best as she could. Nothing seemed off in the slightest. Maybe she could be wrong. After all, she'd only ever confirmed her powers with serial killers and criminals on television. She couldn't very well walk to a random passerby in the city and ask whether they'd lopped off two or three heads over the years.

The human brain liked the answers that it wanted. And as she filled in more of the gaps of her daughter's evening she found she could relax a bit more. She was wrong, her powers could be wrong, her daughter was fine.

And then the 1 became a 2

She choked on the remainder of her ice cream and coughed. Chips of half chewed waffles spewed into the air, and somewhere in the background was the yelp of disgust as saliva and food landed on her daughter's face.

Joanne had less than half a mind to care though. She spun about, scouring everything in their surroundings. The closest individual to them was a solid twenty paces away and he was well and alive, ordering his second serving of fries. No one had dropped dead anywhere within sight.

Exhaustion and exhilaration caught up to her simultaneously as Joanne collapsed back to her seat, to the bewilderment of anyone close enough to see, including her own daughter.

But that was fine, she was wrong, her powers could be wrong, that was a relief beyond all else.

"Mom, what the heck," her daughter shouted, her hands swiping at her face, trying to wipe off the dots of brown and white. Joanne found some cheer in her heart as she chuckled gently, "Sorry sorry, I choked on the ice cream. Here let me help you with that."

She spent the next minute wiping clean her daughter's face. The crimson number above her daughter's head seemed to blur into the void. Some semblance of normalcy was restored back to her life and maybe even improved. Now she knew she could ignore what she saw. It could be right, but it could be wrong, and for her sweet darling precious daughter, it was wrong.

And then her phone rang. The white bold text spelled out Linda Greyf, Terisa's mother.


SaneMillennial t1_ital8il wrote

When I was 6 over half my 1st grade class spent Christmas break with chicken pox because a sick kid came back to school the last day before break so she wouldn't miss the "Christmas pageant," and her mom was there with a camcorder to record the memory that ruined 17 families' Christmas vacation plans. It was especially bad for my father, he hadn't ever contracted chicken pox as a kid and I passed it to him. It was so bad that even his gums and tongue had chicken pox bumps on them. He literally shared a bath with my younger brother just so he'd contract it as a child, and never have it as an adult. My old man was tempted to break that woman's camcorder during the spring pageant, lol. ;-)


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Winter_wrath t1_it7oul8 wrote

Ah, the floating numbers are back. Haven't seen these in days on my front page.


Go_easy_on_me_folks t1_it8bhin wrote

I actually see a number above the heads of everyone in real life. It represents the amount of number above the head writing prompts they've seen. I've yet to see one under a thousand.


ani3D t1_it8o8rq wrote

I don't have the energy or knowledge about children to write this myself, but someone should do a twist where the count goes to -1 because the child saved a life. All the prompt says is "not 0."


KingOfGimmicks t1_itb9zf1 wrote

Was just thinking that myself. How to discover your child has some kind of magical necromancy powers.


Halftone_Hare t1_it8o3cq wrote

And so that’s how you find out that the “kill count” on most people’s heads has to do with ANY action that could’ve even accidentally caused someone’s death. But is it like butterfly effect? Skip a damn rock on a pond and kill twelve people? Or is it more like let a dog get food aggressive and it mauls a persons face off..


linktothenow t1_it7auyq wrote

Plot twist, the baby killed the mother in childbirth


Tepigg4444 t1_it8hv8o wrote

but they're 5


Halftone_Hare t1_it8o9kr wrote

Yeah, the fact that they’re already much older suggests the kill count was 0 up until a recent point.


archpawn t1_it9vsdp wrote

When I first read the title I thought it just said a five-year-old kid.


MortLightstone t1_itanybh wrote

I once saw a movie with this exact same premise. Although the meaning of the numbers was a twist, so spoilers, I guess.

It was called Zero Man and the Half Virgin

Basically the premise was a shy cop wakes up seeing numbers on everyone's forehead. He has a zero and he notices everytime his philandering partner tells him about a new girl he went out with, his number goes up by one, so he assumes the numbers are the number of sexual partners you've had, since he's a virgin.

Then he meets a girl in need of assistance with 1/2 on her forehead and also a troubled kid with a ridiculously high number that goes up every time he sees him. He then decides he needs to solve both of these mysteries, especially the one of the girl he now calls the half virgin.

This movie was weird and freaking hilarious. The director was there and was hilarious too. And yeah, it's obviously Japanese.


[deleted] t1_itaqutt wrote



my_4_cents t1_itaqvbu wrote

I'm just gonna comment, taken the other way, this could be a sci-fi premise.

Instead of seeing your child go from 0 to 1 (was it murder? An accident, disease?

I'm thinking maybe the MC or a group can now see this number, and realise that all schoolchildren have a kill count, all people do, even little old ladies who bake cookies for the neighborhood. The number reduces in populations with less capitalist tendencies.

Sort of a ham-fisted metaphor about the modern world running on the misery of three quarters of its humans.


Fayneloves t1_iubfrs7 wrote

Over the dining counters, you called your son over for breakfast. When the 1 counter that hovered above your son’s head as red, you couldn’t help to wonder what has happened and who did he killed. The sudden tingling sensation of fear rumbled through every living nerve of your body as you poured his milk over the cereal.

“Son, how are you doing over school?” You asked casually, while chills went down the spine.

“Mom,” he called innocently, “I don’t know if school is for me,” he paused for a while, looking at his cereal, thinking deeply about what happened yesterday at the school backyard.

That interaction firmed up all the fears you had for your kid. A plateau of emotions came down gushing in your mind and you tried getting a grip of the positivity just so you could get your mind wrapped up as a role of a good mother. However, as you struggled for the positivity, you’re battling with the fears you had. Is he a psychopath who has recently learnt about killing? Would he be targeting me next if I don’t behave to how he wants? All these thoughts were never ending fears that you’ve tried to struggle to put it off at the back of your mind.

“Yesterday, police found a dead body in a preschool last night. There were multiple wounds on the body and police is seeking any witnesses around the area to assist in the investigation. Next up…” and the sounds from the television silenced in your mind.

Was that my son’s doing?