THE COLLECTOR by James Merritt

THE COLLECTOR by James Merritt

Long after the apocalypse, the pandemics and zombies had come and gone; the nuclear bombs detonating in their bunkers poisoning the ground and water…humankind survived.

Fifteen years after the last piece of toilet paper went extinct in the deep woods on a dark night, an old man walked into a decaying department store. This was a rare occasion as the human population had dwindled to a mere 42,000 worldwide, and a mere six hundred in the United States…or what it was formerly known as.

The store being raided by both mice and men was a mere shell. Bones of humans and animals alike littered the store from front to back from the battles and the struggles to survive all lost within these walls.

The old man chuckled at the stupidity of it all as the skulls crunched under his feet. He imagined he could tell the difference between the bones of the dead, the undead, and the animal inhabitants of the great walmartian graveyard. Being alone so long, his audible hallucinations made him hear the angry cries of the mad shoppers trying to buy the meaningless trinkets for the pointless holidays.

Climbing over a pile of carts that once held TVS, Furbees, and Tickle Me Elmos, he spotted his prey. The reason he had traveled the wastelands. The speck of humanity no one cared to raid, or horde…the phone cards and gift cards. These were his dearest prizes. He filled his semi- quickly with all the store had. While the sun was visible through the toxic clouds, before the creatures came hunting for him. He shoveled a few bodies into the flames on his steam engine and went off to the next place. Year after year, store after store. Across the country, he collected the plastic prizes. He drove on the power of flame and death until he had fulfilled his quota. A mountain of plastic cards once worth billions, now worthless to all life, save his own. When not on a GC expedition, he build himself a home with real plastic walls.

One night after too much wine drank out of a fairly putrid skull, the formula came to him as if completed by the gods, his eureka moment, given to him during a sex dream. The thing he had been pondering since the troll took office.

The way to escape. He immediately began and finished twelve years later on his eighty-second birthday a ship powered by the greed of man. A ship powered by GCs would take him beyond the stars. Sadly, he died of exhaustion once the shuttle left the atmosphere. But the auto pilot took over, launching itself outside the Milky Way, past the viewable galaxies and to the very edge of space itself. The last GC breaking down into molecular power as the ship crashed into the barrier of flat space into whatever lies beneath and beyond.

[James Merritt writes short material bordering on science fiction–futuristic and the macabre. He lives in Maryland. James is a teacher, caretaker, adventurer and writer. A published collection of his work can be ordered from]



Mr. Christian woke up, thanked God for the air, his wife, and the Republican party. He told his stupid kids to hurry the hell up as they were leaving for church; he told his wife to wash off her make up as she looked like a whore, then told her to put it back on when he realized she was covering her bruises.

On the way to church he stopped by McDonalds to get coffee and tell the sinners they shouldn’t work on the Lord’s day. Then, he told them to get real jobs and stop living off his taxes.

When the Christian family got to church they hugged, shook hands and sat together in the third pew back, left side. They sat rigid unmoving smiles on and sang the required songs. They stood and sat when told to–doing just enough without making a fuss of an amen or a testimony as that took up too much lunch time before the Sunday afternoon game.

They thanked the Pastor and paid their tithe. Mr. Christian signed his wife up to teach Sunday school, teach Vacation Bible School, and lead the bake sales for the next quarter. She worked full time as he did, but he knew she’d figure it out, and if she got stressed, no problem. He’d yell at her, telling her not to sign up for so much stuff.

Mr. Christian got home and sat in his favorite chair while wife and kids fixed dinner. When he got up to move to the table and sit down, everything wasn’t ready, so he yelled at his wife “Why won’t you just sit down already so I can ‘say grace’ and start eating.

Then she had to get back up and finish her work (hopefully before he wanted what she was getting ready) or he would yell, “Oh, I guess we don’t have any…. Honey, why did you let us run out of…. Then, he would shovel a few plates full down his gullet before getting up complaining of being exhausted and sit down to watch TV. Of course, he wouldn’t help clean up lunch. That wasn’t his job. He worked!

The fact that she worked full time as well did not even register with him. If the kids ever followed him into the living room, he would smack them and tell them to go help their mother. Yes, God was good. His team was winning. He was a white man in White America. The new president promised to get rid of non-whites, Muslims and queers. Things were looking up for Mr. Christian.



[James Merritt is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. His satirical and short, macabre vignettes illustrate views that are often overlooked. He lives in Maryland.]

VIGNETTES by James Merritt

VIGNETTES by James Merritt

A man of thought and wit trudged ponderous halls. Every step lead him closer to finality; every movement made for those he loved, and those he hoped to save. Alas, he was only human. Thus he was forced to deny his inner peace for the cursedness of dealing with common man.

A quiet girl, with long-flowing hair whistled as she walked beside the creek. The monster did not know her true nature as it stalked her. Jovial and kind was she, until the beast showed its face. At that instant her kindness fled; her sword drawn, she sliced off its head…incapacitating it while she diced and chopped it to oblivion. Afterwards she sang while anonymously she left beast steaks around the kingdom. She fed all the poor children of the kingdom. Riches a great person does not make, but her heart and being were more precious than any stone the earth could ever give up.


Stacy was a happy child, loved; and though her parents were not rich, she wanted for nothing. As a teenager she struggled through, as all teenagers do. She never dated because she was preoccupied with being happy.

The years quickly passed and Stacy watched her friends date and marry and begin to raise families. Every guy and girl she dated ended things by telling her it wouldn’t work as she was too happy. She begin to wonder if she should try to be unhappy so she might not be so lonely. Finally, she gave up and embraced her happy loneliness.

Everything changed when she met Danger. Blonde hair, green eyes, and the magical ability to make her happy, sad, angry, and adored all at the same time. Danger dazzled her with praises, but Danger’s nature could not feel love. Stacy chose to love enough for both of them. Yearning for the day Danger returned her deeply-felt emotions. The days turned to weeks, to months, then years. She ignored her soulmate as she was strung along by the dazzling blindness of Danger. One day Danger disappeared. He left behind their twins–Regret and Loneliness. The day Danger disappeared their daughter Satisfaction disappeared as well. Stacy embraced her twins Regret and Loneliness and for the rest of her life searched for, but never found, her daughter Satisfaction.

At the end of Stacy’s life Danger, bringing their daughter, reappeared. Satisfaction was all grown up. At the last hour of her life Danger, Satisfaction, Regret, and Loneliness watched as Stacy took her final breath. Only then did she meet her life’s final companion, the one who had just been beyond her reach her whole life…Peace. Peace looked a lot like Danger, but took Stacy’s hand and brought her to the next adventure after this life.


The dead rise, the leaves fall, autumn on call

When life is about to end for all of mankind the minds of the billions are none to mind.

Work in the shops never end, not with a war, but with a bang.

A desolate rock is all that is left.

No one to bereave the dead. Humanities’ virus at an end. Everyone dead

No friend to lend a spade, or trowel the dead left unburied.

No wolf left to howl.

A coffee to blame just a tad bit much caffeine and the button pressed a nuclear war disarmed.

No hope for the billions; just a few left in space. All that is left of the human race.

The pachyderms, cats and kangaroos not but burned bones, and cooked animals in zoos.

The seeds in the poles all that is left, but no farmer to sow them,

so rot is all that is left.

Not enough time to evolve a new kangaroo, for the sun shall burn up the planet before life can renew.

All that shall happen I prophesied here.

All that I prophesy is down to a beer.




He met her at a party. She was so outstanding, many guys were chasing after her; while he was so normal, nobody paid attention to him. At the end of the party, he invited her to have coffee with him. She was surprised, but being polite, she promised.

 They sat in a nice coffee shop. He was too nervous to say anything. She felt uncomfortable. She thought, “Please let me go home.” Suddenly, he asked the waiter “Would you please give me some salt? I’d like to put it in my coffee.”

Everybody stared at him…so strange! His face turned red but, still, he put the salt in his coffee and drank it. She asked him curiously “Why do you have this habit?” He replied, “When I was a little boy, I was living near the sea. I like playing in the sea. I could feel the taste of the sea, just like the taste of the salty coffee. Now, every time I have the salty coffee, I always think of my childhood, think of my hometown. I miss my hometown so much, I miss my parents who are still living there.” While saying that, tears filled his eyes. She was deeply touched.

That’s his true feeling from the bottom of his heart. A man who can tell out his homesickness, he must be a man who loves home, cares about home, has responsibility of home. Then she also started to speak, spoke about her far away hometown, her childhood, her family. That was a really nice talk; also, a beautiful beginning of their story.

They continued to date. She found that actually he was a man who met all her demands; he had tolerance, was kind-hearted, warm, careful, He was such a good person, but she almost missed him! Thanks to his salty coffee!


Then the story was just like every beautiful love story…the princess married the prince, then they were living the happy life….

And, every time she made coffee for him, she put some salt in the coffee, as she knew that’s the way he liked it. After forty years, he passed away. He left her a letter which said, “My dearest, please forgive me, forgive my whole life lie. This was the only lie I said to you–the salty coffee. Remember the first time we dated? I was so nervous at that time, actually, I wanted some sugar, but I said salt and it was hard for me to change, so I just went ahead. I never thought that could be the start of our communication!

I tried to tell you the truth many times in my life, but I was too afraid to do that as I have promised not to lie to you for anything. Now I’m dying. I am afraid of nothing, so I can tell you the truth:  I don’t like the salty coffee. What a strange bad taste, but I have had the salty coffee for my whole life! Since I knew you, I never feel sorry for anything I do for you. Having you with me is my biggest happiness for my whole life. If I can live for a second time, still want to know you and have you for my whole life, even though I have to drink the salty coffee again.” Her tears made the letter totally wet.

One day, someone asked her, “What’s the taste of salty coffee?” “It’s sweet,” she replied.

[Kiran Kumar Roy is a freelance writer. His touching, salty coffee story first appeared in INTERESTING STORIES.]




[James Merritt lives in Maryland. He is a teacher, actor and writer of short fiction. His writing can be seen in “Interesting Stories” and a collection has been published by CreateSpace and can be seen at We are delighted to have introduced James Merritt to a worldwide audience. This collection is a look at death from the macabre perspective.]


James Merritt



Eyes, eyes everywhere watching me. Even as I sleep. No where safe from their prying sight; as long as I am stuck in this meat. The long dead missing me, waiting for my sleep, when once more I will join the eyes that pierce, and shriek.

Eyes in the fields watching me; where most only see ears of corn, fields of eyes from their graves, in my truck, draining me, making me feel weak. Eyes in my head, they call hallucinations, green, brown, blue, and sometimes red. Eyes of the dead watching me. Perhaps they are only in my head.



Fred was a mutt born in a litter of twelve. He was brown and had no remarkable features, except for a single white spot in the shape of Texas on his rump. Born in a shelter, he did not know true human kindness. At the age of six weeks he was adopted by George’s parents.

George and Fred were born at the exact same time, on the exact same day. From the time George’s parents brought Fred home they were inseparable. George had Asperger’s and no discerning marks, except a birthmark matching Fred’s on his butt. Due to George’s social handicap his mom home-schooled him. Fred was George’s one friend, companion. They spent every second together. Fred even followed George in the bathroom and sat perplexed at the human’s daily baths and the strange seat he sat on and marked his territory.

On their eleventh birthday Fred ran off after a bitch. Her owner had treats! Fred loved treats and though he loved George, he did not comprehend the fact that running away would be so permanent.

George longed for Fred…crying constantly and inconsolable for weeks. He stopped eating and his parents took him to doctors, shrinks doing everything they could, but George had simply given up.

One day while George was being pushed in his new wheelchair through the park, looking half-dead, George saw Fred. He saw a future where they could be back together, spending the rest of their lives laughing and playing. So George called to Fred, but Fred refused to come, as he now had a mate, puppies of his own and a new owner with better treats.

George changed that day. He darkened. Out of anger and resentment he swore revenge on every dog owner. He began to eat again, but only foods he disliked. He would live, but he chose to never let himself be happy again. His parents were both relieved and saddened at their only child’s new outlook. Glad that he would survive, but saddened that he never smiled or laughed again.

George grew up to be a dog catcher, sometime snatching dogs from people’s yards–making sure the world felt his pain, and spreading the darkness forth on the world.

On George’s 45th birthday, shriveled and old from despair he decided to end his life. Many believe this would cause him eternal damnation, but instead he found himself in a dog park with Fred. There they are to this day, and forevermore will stay.



The fly found its soul mate from its previous life and buzzed around his head. Landing on the human, sharing his coffee, lightly caressing his hand.

The fly was driving the man nuts! It was buzzing around his head, landing on his coffee cup, and crawling up and down his arm.

The man picked up the bright green tool of death and swatted the fly, not quite killing it with the first blow. Realizing only after the first attack of his loves true form. So he hit it again and again destroying his love in hopes of it coming back in a more pleasant form. Perhaps they could be together in another life. Huzzah! One less fly in the world.



Poor Geoff was such a fool he believed what they taught in school. He worked hard every day and never once played. One step he took in front of the other, something he learned from his father and mother. Always expecting the ground to catch him each step he would take. After twenty years accounting, never missing a day, his boss told him he must take a vacation. So Geoff, always following the rules, went away to Rehobeth Beach to stay for one night and one day. The very first night on a walk down the shore, after the clerk called him a bore, he took a step as people are wont to do, always assuming the earth beneath their feet will catch them. The sand fleas chewed his legs. His 599th step would be his last on that fateful May day. He was swallowed up, right up to his chin. The earth seemed to laugh. The fates knew he could not swim. The waves crashed closer as the tide came in. He didn’t care as he knew he could not win. He didn’t call out or even struggle as there was no way out of his trouble. The first wave hit him and went right up his nose, soaking his face, but not his buried clothes. The second wave hit and he coughed and sputtered.  The ocean was soon above his head and that was the end of gullible Geoff.  

(c) 2017, James Merritt






On the far side of the multiverse, near the living lava balloons and the carrot water bottle world, on the far side of another galaxy on the edge of space with positive matter lies a black and white world quite like our own. The aliens are controlled by the rich. Starvation, disease, and planetary warming is killing off the people of Sparklevania. Within the city lies two separate warring species, the worshipers of GOLD, and the worshipers of PURPLE. They bombard each other with glitter day and night. Drive by glittering, ruining their otherwise black and white world.

In the center of it all lives an earthling who escaped our universe for their’s. Shawn despised glitter so much that he decided to leave the human race completely for the all-male world, but he didn’t expect to be stranded on THIS world. Everyday he awakened, ate, talked to men from both sects on his communication device and then cleaned the sparkles from his surroundings–vacuuming them up so that his black and white plants could thrive.

He lived out his life loving and being loved by many, and having even more lovers. As Shawn aged he fought more and more for peace. He designed great machines to bring more colors to the world, and by the time he died, the rainbow spectrum existed on their world. On his death bed glitter bombs were launched and everyone suffocated from the beautiful sparkles they unleashed.

After this, peace reigned for 300 years before war once again broke out.



Little Jane Sanders is a wonderful witch. She was born with grey hair, marble white skin, and freckles covered her nose. Her eyes split into threes: red, blue, and green. She needed not friends, as the ghosts, spirits and animals would speak to her. At school she would often find herself in trouble when she saved the frogs from being dissected and turned her teacher into a toad for a week to teach him a lesson. Once, she had her ghost friend Seymour possess the gelatin in the lunch room so everyone’s jello danced away from the children’s forks.

Of course being human they all denied and refused to see the magic happening all around them. The other children refused to play on the playground with Little Jane Sanders and her spider pals, who discussed with her the best ways to catch flies. On Sundays when other boys and girls would go to Sunday school, Little Jane Sanders would study her herbs and potions, learning how to heal and help those who mistreated and mistrusted her. many of them would die younger than they should have as they refused to accept her help.

Little Jane’s Guardian was Mr. Guiermo, a most grotesque funeral home director who was secretly a poltergeist with magical powers to hold a corporeal form. He would feed off the grief of the living, making them lose their grief whether they wanted to hold onto it or not.

Guiermo took Little Jane in as an infant when, after her mother’s funeral, she was deserted. Oh, actually, her family brought her to the funeral but forgot her because they wanted to hurry home to watch television. They meant to go back for her but just never did.

Little Jane’s homeroom teacher, Mrs. Bea Elgavitch, was half blind and three-quarters deaf; so when her lights flickered, her desks walked around and the boys and girls hair would stand on end, changing to blue and green. Of course when they went home their parents would never believe their audacious tales. They spanked their children, put them early and hungry to bed, after which they would call Mr. Guiermo to complain. He would feed on their grief and anger and soon they would only have their happy feelings left, forgetting why they had called in the first place.

Little Jane Sanders was a brilliant child, and I cannot wait to share with you more about her. Be wary, though, that you not mistreat or feel ill of her because he or she who mocks a witch, treats them as if they and their magics are fiction, or treats them as a lesser person for their beliefs will be accursed.

Such people have been known to find themselves without a voice to spread their poison!



His mother told him since he was young that he was unlovable. In college he sought therapy and found love for himself. Finishing college, and his dreams, he sought love in a woman’s arms. Sadly, he chose wrongly. He got a step-daughter a wife, and a shitload of debt all in the name of love.

When his step-daughter grew up she got married, took her step-father’s money and treated him like garbage…as did her mother.

Tired of heartache and pain, he sought a companion he could never love…a woman named Juliet who was one of the most ghastly humans alive with a height of 4’10”, a weight of 414 lbs, and an eyebrow that reached across her forehead and around her mouth. He remarried and lived in a cabin with her writing for the rest of his days. Neither loved each other; neither ever felt pain again.

[James Merritt is a companion, raconteur, writer and teacher who lives in Maryland. He has a vivid imagination and is a master at short, short fiction, crafting stories often highlighted with the macabre.  Merritt’s well-received work has appeared several times in our webzine.]