Mr. Lonely

📅 Published on April 30, 2021

“Mr. Lonely”

Written by Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.60/10. From 5 votes.
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You could be forgiven for thinking the greeting card industry is dying.

You’d be wrong.

The invention of email promised to kill the postal industry in total, but it was an empty threat.  The personal touch of pen and ink is one that just can’t be replaced. Celebratory E-Cards and congratulatory comments on any given social media platform just feel…hollow.  Devoid of emotion.

They can be posted in an instant without so much as a thought.  As the old saying goes, it’s the thought that counts.

Women account for eighty percent of greeting card sales.  So, not surprisingly, the vast majority of day-to-day customers at the Mainstay Greeting Card Store in Dove Hills are female.

Julie was looking for a birthday card.

Her colorful, homemade jewelry jingled louder than the ringing bell above the front door as she passed rows of knick-knacks and ornaments.  The 20-something paid them no mind; the collectibles were always more for the little old ladies.

Little old ladies like her grandmother, who was celebrating her 74th year on the Earth.  The two had been very close while Julie was growing up.  The two would spend hours baking strange concoctions from recipes made up on the spot, and creating strange sewing patterns for imaginary friends.

As she fingered through the racks of cards, Jonah studied her closely.

She was 5’5” tall; maybe less, but definitely not more.  Her tousled, platinum blond hair refused to be controlled, and her icy blue eyes seemed to scrutinize the very molecular structure of each card before her.

“You look like you need help…” Jonah called from behind the counter.  He had been lazily leafing through a copy of “Wicked Licks” music magazine, shopping for guitars he couldn’t even play, much less afford.

Her eyes, those eyes that seemed like they saw through the multiverse, fixed on his magazine cover.  She squinted, a judgmental pout on her lips.

“Oh,” Jonah croaked awkwardly, throwing the magazine into a trash bin behind the counter, “It’s not porn.  I – don’t read porn.  Well, I mean, no one actually reads porn, they just look at the pictures.”

Her ruffled, pink dress over rose-print tights did little to take his mind off of the subject.

“I don’t look at pictures,” he continued on a self-destructive roll that couldn’t be stopped.  “Of naked women.  Ever.  Not that women aren’t free to dress, or undress, how they want…”

Seeming to pay the young man no attention at all, she plucked a card from the wall and turned with the flourish of a slight twirl.

Placing the card on the counter, and her finger to Jonah’s lips, she smirked and shook her head.

She repeated his own words back to him.  “You look like you need help.”

Silently, with a sharper mind and a gut full of conviction, Jonah looked down to the card.  In an instant, he mentally categorized it.

Cerebration.  Birthday.  Senior.

“I can’t wait to be old,” he mused.  “Maybe I’ll have life figured out by then.”

That was how it started.

Julie Sparks, the free spirit who spent one day a week feeding and naming parking lot seagulls.  Jonah Paul, the bored (and boring) cashier who took the job after being rejected by a vinyl record shop next door.

The two were inseparable for nearly three weeks.  During that time, Jonah thought he might actually be happy someday…however that felt.

Julie knew all the best pet shops, especially the ones that let you pet the animals.  She loved to laugh at things that weren’t funny, and she loved to sing and dance though she was terrible at both.  She didn’t mind, and neither did he.

Why does love never last?

Jonah didn’t even know what he had done wrong.  Some careless word, an inappropriate question, it was all the same.  He had made so many mistakes that they began to blur together.

“I thought what we found in each other was magical,” she had told him, tears in her eyes, “Like real magic.  Really real magic that’s so hard to find in this world.”

He didn’t believe in magic, but she did – and she believed hard.

Julie was in bed when she saw the headlights.  It was nothing unusual, another passing car illuminating the posters on her wall.  When the light stopped and hung there, however, she quickly found herself unable to sleep.

A shriek echoed through the night air outside.  It sounded like a woman, screaming bloody murder.  Always one to be concerned for the well-being of others, Julie rushed to the window and pushed it open.

On the sidewalk below was a solitary, motionless figure silhouetted by the opposing street lights.  He wore a hooded sweatshirt, obscuring the outline of his face.  The shape of the face inside that hood, however, looked wrong.  Deformed.

The figure stood, feet planted, with a boom box held above his head.  The horrid sound of another girl being slowly, tortuously murdered echoed from the speakers.

It wasn’t long before a passer-by, perhaps a neighbor, approached the figure.  The random interloper’s shouting was all but drowned out by the cries of pain.

Julie could feel the figure’s cold glare on her skin.  His face may have been washed in shadow, but she knew for a fact that he was looking at her.  Despite the chills running down her back, she could tell right away that there was no hatred in his eyes.

Maybe her magic was real, after all.

She jumped instinctively, then slammed the window shut as the figure outside brought the boom box down on the angry stranger’s head.  Right at the peak of a pre-recorded death scream, the plastic and metal opened the man’s head with a dim electrical pop.

As the victim fell to his knees and began to crawl away aimlessly, the figure drew a strange, thin blade and drew it across the fallen man’s throat.

A few doors down, someone shouted for everyone to shut up.

Julie screamed, then covered her mouth as the figure abruptly turned his gaze back at her.  She slammed the window shut and locked it, despite living on the second floor of the building.

Police arrived quickly, but not quickly enough.  Julie Sparks, age 22, was found in a closet where she had wrapped herself in a blanket covered in cartoon kittens.

It ended with a singular stab wound to her heart.

* * * * * *

August had to buy a condolence card.

She moved silently, and Jonah couldn’t decide if she reminded him more of a cat, or a ghost.  Maybe the ghost of a cat.  Clearly disinterested in the thrill of the hunt, she pulled down the first card that caught her eye and approached the counter.

August’s cousin had met a sudden and pointless end at the hands, and bumper, of a drunk driver.  The two had never been close, and August wasn’t even sure she’d actually even met her cousin.  If she had, it was when both would be too young to remember.  Her parents weren’t exactly the most caring people, often forgoing family holidays in favor of vacations.  Perhaps needless to say, she wasn’t as affected by the untimely death as her extended relatives expected her to be.

Jonah glanced at the card.

“Oh, damn!  Someone died,” Jonah reverently half-whispered, trying to find the girl’s eyes beneath her black bangs. “They’re in a better place, now…I mean, assuming you think so.  I’m not trying to push my beliefs on you or anything.  Actually, I don’t know what I believe, to be honest.”

“Ugh.  Whatever,” she mumbled.

He never found her eyes, but could easily assume that she rolled them.

August slid her money across the counter and tapped the bills with her black fingernails.  Jonah’s gaze moved from her hand, to the gray-striped sleeve, to the baggy black coat with silver studs.

Her stark, black-and-white make-up choice reminded him of a vampire.

The harsh daylight shining into the shop disproved that concept.

“Let me try again.” Jonah cleared his throat loudly.  “I’m sorry for your loss.”

That was how it started.

August Platt, the grim, dour young lady who only smiled when others were unhappy and stood in the freezing rain because it made her feel numb.  Jonah Paul, the misunderstood loner who desperately wanted to be understood and accepted by a world that made him feel less human by the day.

For nearly a month, they hung out together.  There was a certain comfort in her coldness, her tempered apathy.  Jonah didn’t have to try, and his failure was what made her happy.

August introduced him to hookah bars and poetry that didn’t rhyme.  All of her favorite songs made her cry.  She was convinced that no two people could ever truly love each other and seemed to defy Jonah to prove her wrong once and for all.

Then again, perhaps he misread the signals.

Had he not been exciting enough?  Interesting enough?  Maybe he was a little too exciting and/or interesting.  He was used to her dark moods and frigid demeanor, so when she began to act indecisive and unsure around him, it was obvious that something was up.

“It’s not your fault,” she sighed, as the two lay in a tranquil cemetery and stared up into the unfeeling void of the universe.  “It’s never anyone but me.  I’m just messed up.  Broken.  You can’t fix me, and trying will just make things worse.”

She left Jonah’s side and walked off into the night, just as calmly as she had crept into his life.  He didn’t watch her leave; he didn’t even sit up.  Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest and shut his eyes tightly.

August heard her mother calling from the living room just after sunset.  After a few angst-ridden groans and several more unanswered calls, she begrudgingly left her bedroom and descended the staircase.

“Like, whaaaat?” August moaned in annoyance as her feet reached the bottom step.

“Someone’s here for you, Augie!” cooed her mother, gesturing to a large, absurd stranger standing in the open front door.

The man, or rather, the over-stuffed, dopey-looking pink bear, was holding a bundle of balloons in one hand.  The furry, spotless animal suit wore a goofy smile, its eyes dotted with pupils in the shape of hearts.

“Ew.  What the hell do you want?” August wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Don’t be rude,” her mother snapped.  “It’s a singing telegram.  Someone must think the world of you…though I can’t imagine why.”

August’s revulsion at the flowery, completely cringe spectacle immediately turned to confusion as the bear simply opened his oversized paw, releasing the balloons into the night sky.

“Wow, nice one,” she commented, before turning to head back up the stairs.

A wet sound stopped her in her tracks, followed by the sound of her mother inhaling sharply.  With her lungs full, the woman let out a horrifying howl.

August looked back over her shoulder, a look of shock frozen on her already pale face.  Her mother crumpled, slumping out onto the doorstep as the bear stepped into the house with a single, confidant stomp.

Where he had once been grasping balloon strings, his paw now held a slender, blood-drenched blade.

A letter opener.

August fled upward, only to be tackled at the top of the stairs.  As she fought for her life, the bear’s head tumbled aside.  Beneath, she found herself staring into familiar, loving eyes set behind a misshapen mask. Its surface was covered in markings and symbols that she couldn’t quite make out in the moment.

A dogwalker found the bodies after noticing the first victim left under the front porch light.  August Platt, age 24, was laid out in bed upstairs.  The headphones she wore seemed to denote that her attacker allowed her one last request.  A mixtape was still playing.

It ended with one decisive, piercing wound to the heart.

* * * * * *

Juniper needed a graduation card.

The stern-looking red-head entered the store with all the self-assured confidence of an IRS agent come to audit the place.  Her rigid, uptight demeanor and nasty neat, turquoise skirt-suit spoke volumes.  She meant business, even if she was there for personal reasons.

Juniper was never a big fan of her little brother, despite everyone around her being an avid member of his fan club.  In fact, she tried selling him at a family yard sale when he was a newborn.  Now, her family was hell-bent on making his middle school graduation as much of a spectacle as was possible.  The fanfare had been notably missing from her own accomplishments, including her recent enrollment at a prestigious local university.

Moving from one row of cards to the next with meaningful side-steps, Juniper read through several cards before settling on two.  Holding a card in each hand, she almost seemed to physically weigh them like a scale, before placing one back where it had come from.  She then quickly adjusted the replaced card, making sure it sat perfectly.

Jonah saw his own face in Juniper’s thick, black glasses as she approached him.  He quickly diverted his eyes downward as she placed the card in front of him, straightened it, and deftly plucked a debit card from her absurdly large handbag.

“Con-Graduation,” Jonah stammered, immediately tying his own tongue in knots.  “I mean…congratulations.  On the graduation.”

Juniper didn’t reply, instead holding the debit card out to him silently.  She was so still, so bereft of emotion that she could’ve been a shop mannequin.  She stared him down harder than a disappointed school teacher, and if anyone knew what that looked like, it was Jonah.

“Is this for an…elderly student?” Jonah remarked.  He opened the card and read it out.  “To a senior super-student.  You’re never too old to succeed.”

“It’s for my younger brother, but he’s graduating TO high school, not FROM high school.  I don’t see why there should be any cause for celebration at all, yet here are.”

“Then this is appropriately inappropriate,” Jonah smiled, ringing up the sale.  Their hands brushed as he passed her the receipt.  “If you really want to show him how the world works, put a lottery ticket in it.”

That was how it started.

Juniper Tipton, the no-nonsense go-getter whose rivals always seemed to fall before her measured intellect and rabid determination.  Jonah, the parasitic cipher who latched onto anyone who would give him attention and molded his personality to mimic and supplement theirs.

Throughout the spring, their awkward courtship proceeded in fits and starts.  Jonah had never had trouble working his way into a girl’s life, but Juniper would always become hyper-focused on her achievements.

She took him to countless events.  Whether it was arguing in Debate Club or running track and field, she could not be stopped.  They took in gallery openings and performance art shows, neither of which Jonah understood – but then again, he understood few things as well as she did.

It was no surprise that she was moving too fast, and too far, for him to follow.

She was going off to another school, in another state, in another country.  One where she could study with the brightest students, under the most revered professors.  She already had an apartment and a job lined up before Jonah even knew she was planning to leave.

“It’s not that I don’t care about you,” Juniper remarked, her voice no more affected by emotion than it had been on any previous day.  “You’re a variable that I didn’t account for.  A wonderful, unexpected glitch in an otherwise elegant life plan.  If I could go back and remove you from the equation…I  wouldn’t.  Not for anything.”

He knew that she was rejecting him in the most courteous way she could manage, but it still stung just the same.

Juniper was doing some last-minute studying while waiting for the driver she had hired online.  She was never one to waste time, even if it was a spare moment.  Falling one step behind would mean risking her future and ending up right back in this small town where her talents were wasted.

The car outside honked its horn twice, and she rushed to grab her bags and say goodbye to the past that had, until that moment, held her back from greatness.  Her family would pack away the rest of her things and, not long after, they would convert the room she grew up in into a space for something more useful to them.

They hadn’t even stuck around to send her off…after all, her brother’s after-graduation party just so happened to be on the same night.

Looking out to the street below, however, Juniper found she was frozen in place.

It was the wrong car.  She had been very attentive to her planning, perhaps even a bit obsessive.  She had made sure to check and re-check the departure time, the arrival time, the meal preference, and even the make and model of the car coming to drive her to the airport.

“I’m not responsible for the mistakes of others,” Juniper reassured herself as she shook off the worry.

Below, the hooded man stepped from his car and held up a large white card that simply read “Juniper” in large, black letters.

She walked to the front door, pulling it open.

He was already standing at the open door, and thrust his foot onto the thresh hold, blocking it from closing.

She gasped.

The first thing she noticed was the mask…a papier maché face made of valentines.  Heart symbols and letters marked its surface, cut and patched together into sentence fragments.

The second thing to catch her eye was the next large white card held between his hands.

It read: “Don’t run.

“Who are you?” she demanded, backing away from the door.  “I should warn you, I know taekwondo.”

Juniper pointed, her hand trembling, at a martial arts trophy collecting dust on top of a nearby cabinet.

The card dropped from the man’s hands.  The next one flatly stated, “You’re going to die.

“I’m calling the police,” she said, moving to reach for the phone.  Before she could reach it, however, the man stepped in, shoving her to the floor with one gloved hand.

He dropped another card, revealing one which read: “Don’t try it.

The next card: “I love you.

The next: “You can’t leave.

Juniper crawled backward, away from the slow, methodical boot-steps of the man calmly following her.  The cards continued to fall aside in quick succession.

I need you.

I want you.

“I had you.”

I lost you.

You’re mine.

The final card was revealed. A crudely rendered heart shape, painted with blood-red smears, a gleaming, wicked sharp letter opener taped to the center.  He ripped it free with a rough, imposing swipe.

Soon, he was on top of her.  Just as quickly, she delivered a solid kick to his chest, knocking the wind out of him.

“Taekwondo, remember?” she snapped, climbing to her feet.  As the man all but crumpled to the floor to catch his breath, Juniper gave him a roundhouse kick that sent his mask flying.

“I knew it was you,” she remarked as Jonah stumbled and fell to the floor.

“I knew…that you’d know…it was me,” he stammered, rolling onto his side as he coughed out spots of blood.

“Yeah, well,” Juniper relaxed a bit and stood over him, “I know you’d know that I knew.  I’m going to miss my flight.  Now you’re really screwed.”

“I am?” Jonah asked, almost timidly.

“It never would’ve worked out,” Juniper sighed, placing her foot on Jonah’s hand as he reached for the blade.  “I’m always one step ahead.  I’m too smart, too quick, and too fed up for your games.”

With a simple turn of her ankle, she heard the wet popping sound of Jonah’s finger bones pulling from their sockets.  His scream of pain followed.

“I’ll level with you, Jonah.”  She allowed him to pull his hand away, which he cradled to his chest as he pushed himself away from her.  “I wasn’t actually the best at what I’ve accomplished.  There were…other girls.”

She seemed to consider reaching for the telephone again, instead electing to pick the letter opener up off of the floor.

“There were smarter girls.  There were prettier girls.  There were more athletic girls.”  She grabbed a fistful of his hair and held the point of the blade to his neck.  “I’ve always known just what to break – the exact thing to make sure someone never does what they love, ever again.  In your case, good luck jerking off.”

Suddenly, a loud bang echoed through the room.

Without turning to look, Juniper knew the front door had swung shut.  When she did turn to look, however, she saw that no one was there.  Quickly, she returned her attention to the man toppled before her.

Jonah smiled, looking directly into her eyes with a soft, loving expression.

“I knew we had something in common.”

The lights flickered, and all at once, Juniper found herself surrounded.

Iridescent shadows, half-visible silhouettes of girls.  Dozens of them.  All staring at her, and all with blazing green embers in place of their hearts.  The glow grew brighter as they manifested into view.

“You’ll never leave me,” Jonah grinned as Juniper backed away from him, dropping the blade once more.

She surveyed the horde of spectral women.  August, Julie, and many others who, in that moment, seemed as real and as material as any other person.

One girl emerged from the crowd and, with hands made of mist, lifted the letter opener.  She studied it with cold eyes, then angled it toward Juniper’s heaving, panic-gripped chest.

Jonah sat up, wiping the redness from his chin.

“You’ll always live on in my heart.  They all do.”

Juniper did indeed miss her flight.  When her driver, the real one, arrived in time to hear her final scream, he wasted no time dialing 911.  The town held a memorial, her school put up a plaque, her family spared no funeral expense, and her little brother’s graduation night was completely ruined.

She died at the age of 21, of a single stab wound…just like many others girls before.

Just like many others girls after.

Jonah hoped to someday know what it felt like to be happy…or sad…or proud.  With every girl he brought into his heart, he grew closer to that goal.  Closer to being complete.

Women account for 80% of greeting card sales.

Oddly enough, they account for the same percentage of unsolved murders in Dove Hills.

Rating: 9.60/10. From 5 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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