We’d been talking for not much more than ten minutes when he said it. For reasons which will soon become abundantly clear, I cannot remember what we were talking about exactly. I suppose when you get right down to it we had been talking about nothing, just one of those idle conversations that pop up between two people who happen to be sharing a park bench, which is how we met. But the topic of our conversation doesn’t matter, any more than it matters which of us spoke first. What does matter is that what he said did not in any way follow from what we were talking about. Out of the blue, and in the most matter-of-fact tone of voice imaginable, he up and says, “You know, I’d really like to have sex with you”.

He caught me totally unprepared. I didn’t know how to respond. It didn’t occur to me to punch him in the face; I’m not the kind of guy who goes around hitting people. My mind simply went blank.

He was pleasant enough and not at all bad looking, a few years older than I, but still... The park did not have a reputation for being a homosexual hangout. I had come there to read my newspaper. I had no clue what could have prompted his remark. He couldn’t have been reading my mind, since sex with anyone wasn’t something I had on it. And he put it so bluntly too, without the faintest trace of lust in his voice! It sounded more like an observation than a proposition, not at all your typical pick-up line.

I’m only speculating on how I would have assessed the situation. As I said, my mind went blank, and I just sat there.

“So? How about it?”

“Just give me a moment to collect my thoughts.”

“Take your time.”

He delivered his follow-up question in the same noncommittal fashion, as if it were all one to him. I detected nothing sinister in his manner. What do you make of a person like that?

“So what do you think?”

“I don’t think. I’m trying to collect my thoughts, but it’s as if I didn’t have a thought in my head.”

“That’s because I collected them for you.”

“You what?”

“Collected your thoughts. It’s sort of a hobby. I collect thoughts.”

“You collected my thoughts? You collected MY thoughts?”


“I want them back!”

“Sorry. Finders keeps, as they say. Besides, I can’t give them back. I threw them out. It was all a lot of rubbish anyway, a bunch of pseudo-intellectual gibberish that had nothing to do with me. It was very rude of you, letting your mind wander like that.”

“You go picking my brain – no, pick pocketing my brain – and then you accuse me of being rude!”

“Oh come now! Lots of people are willing to share their thoughts.”

“This isn’t sharing. This is theft!”

“Well, if that’s how you’re going to be about it. Here.” He reached into his pocket and handed me a coin.

“What’s that?”

“A penny. For your thoughts.”

“This is outrageous!”

“You’re not going to ask for more, are you? I already told you what I think they’re worth. And it’s just for your thoughts, mind you. I don’t pay for sex. Nor do I ask to be paid.”

“You take away my thoughts, rob me of the very essence of my personality, and on top of that you expect me to go to bed with you?”

“Yes. You’re in the perfect frame of mind for it. Not calm perhaps, but collected. And without a lot of trivial, self-indulgent thoughts to get in the way, you can become one with your body. It will be a tantric experience. For me, too. I haven’t a thought in my head. That’s why I have to collect them.”

“You mean you throw everybody’s thoughts away?”

“Yes. I have yet to come across a thought worth keeping. Unlike most collectors, I hate clutter. It’s amazing, the nonsense that goes through most people’s heads.”

“You... you’re nothing but a psychic voyeur!”

“Admit it. You’re intrigued.”

“I admit nothing of the sort!”

“There you go letting your intellect take over. You’re resisting me.”

“You’re damn straight I’m resisting you!”

“You shouldn’t, you know. Not if you want the sex to be good.”

“What sex?”

“The sex we’re going to have together.”

By now I did feel like punching him in the nose. But how would I defend myself against assault charges when my mind had gone blank?

I stared at him, but couldn’t stare him down. He just returned my gaze, not even blinking. I got up and walked away without a thought in my head.

"The Collector"
Copyright: © 2009 Anel Viz
Anel Viz turned to writing about four years ago. His stories, prose poems and opinion pieces have been published on line and in print.

Jon was starting to panic. The heat in the tiny room was rising gradually, and it was coming from a giant boiler in the center. Sweat poured down his face, and he beat furiously as the sliver of glass set high in the steel door.

“C’mon, damn it! It’s at least a hundred degrees in here, and it’s just getting hotter!”

He heard some muffled sobbing from the other side of the door.

Jon checked the digital thermostat and was alarmed to see it climbing at the rate of one degree every minute. He’d be toast within a half hour, maybe less.
* * *
Kristin was crying uncontrollably. Sure, she had been in yet another nasty argument with Jon hours before, but she had no intention of watching his blood boil.

She was hooked to a wicked looking contraption, one that depended on her flagging strength to keep her husband alive. She could only hold the bar up for so long without the need for a break. Her muscles ached, and she tried to give it all she had when she saw the thermostat on her side of the door climb whenever she let the bar droop low.

Time was extremely limited, now. If she was lucky, her tormentor would take pity on her and release them both. If not… well, she’d just have to listen to Jon die screaming.

* * *

“You stupid broad!” Jon shouted. “Turn the Goddamned boiler off! I’m burnin’ up in here!”

He was frustrated beyond belief. Sobbing was all he heard.

Hell, she had a right to feel the way she did, making him suffer like this.

Jon wondered who she was.

* * *

Kristin knew the end was near. Her arms were cramping up, and Jon had to have been dehydrating by this point. Was spontaneous combustion possible?

Furious with herself, she banished the thought from her mind and promised herself that she’d die first before watching – no, listening! – to her husband die.

“Jon! Hang on, Sweetie, I’m doing what I can!”

She burst into tears yet again.

* * *

Jesus, is that Kristin?

“If you’re behind this, Dear, I hope you never forget what’s about to happen!”

Jon was hissing the words out between his teeth, and he doubted that she heard them. However, he didn’t care at this point. She had gone too far. This was murder.

One hundred twenty-seven degrees and climbing.

* * *

Kristin did hear Jon’s words. The loudspeaker that the hooded stranger had put into the adjoining room made sure of that.

She knew Jon was suffering beyond belief, so she did the only thing that she could think of. She dropped the bar and backed away.

The digits started to climb faster on the thermostat’s readout. He was as good as dead, and God have mercy on her own soul for speeding up the process.

The window went bright for a split second, then all sound ceased.

Kristin imagined the ashes dropping.

"Spontaneous Combustion"
Copyright: © 2009 Christopher Jacobsmeyer
Christopher Jacobsmeyer is a self-styled fantasy author dabbling in the realms of sci-fi and horror. His tolerant wife and headstrong daughters humor him as long as it suits their needs. If that weren't enough, a trio of cats keeps him in check with their whispered designs of conquest at night.

“Zombie fingers. Get your ice-cold zombie fingers. Only five cents each,” yelled a push-cart vendor.

“Gimme one,” a kid said.

“On a roll or stick?”

“Roll. With lotsa mustard and onions.”

The vendor removed something that looked like a green hotdog from a large jar. Plopping it onto a roll, he smeared it with mustard and onions.

“Mmm,” the kid said. “I love zombie finger sandwiches.”

“How about you?” the vendor asked Jim.

“I’ll pass,” Jim said. “Are those green things really zombie fingers?”

“Yep. Direct from Haiti. This batch was chopped off and flash frozen just yesterday.”

“Do they come from dead zombies?”

“Nope. Dead zombie fingers taste lousy. These come from live ones.”

“They must be nuts to let somebody cut their fingers off.” Jim said.

“Look at it this way: they get a pound of fresh human brains for every finger chopped off. Plus, they get a gold star pasted in their finger amputation books. When the book’s full, they get a free trip to Disneyland. I’ve run into some of them in the Magic Kingdom. They’re smelly, obnoxious bastards.”

“I wonder how they get along without fingers?” Jim asked.

“No problem. Zombie fingers grow back in a day. Sure you don’t wanna try one? If you don’t like it, I’ll refund your money.”

“OK, gimme one on a stick.”

The vendor removed a finger from the jar and put it on a cutting board. When he jammed a sharpened lollypop stick into one end, the finger twitched violently.

“Good grief!” Jim said. “Looks like it’s in pain.”

“Nah. These are so fresh the sliced nerves ain’t settled down yet.”

The finger was still twitching when Jim took a bite. “Mmm. Delicious. It’s so crunchy.”

Before long, he gobbled six.

That night, Jim had a lucid dream in which his thumb turned green. An zombie appeared, lopped Jim’s thumb off with pruning shears, jammed a stick into one end, and ate it. Searing pain threw Jim out of bed. He screamed when he saw blood gushing from the spot where his thumb used to be.

Emergency room surgeons wanted to reconnect the thumb to Jim’s hand. But nobody could find it.

“What happened to your finger?” they asked.

“A zombie ate it.”

Figuring he was a self-mutilating, cannibalistic loon, they summoned a psychiatrist.

“Zombies don’t exist,” the psychiatrist said. “And even if they did, why would a zombie cut your thumb off and eat it?”

“Maybe to get revenge for all the zombie fingers I ate yesterday,” Jim said.

“You ate zombie fingers?”

“Yeah. Six. You hafta try them, Doctor. They’re fabulous. Wish I had one right now.”

The shrink transferred Jim to a padded cell.

The next morning when he woke up Jim found a green thumb had grown on his hand. An army of astonished doctors gathered to examine and photograph the greenish mass.

“You’ve made medical history,” a doctor said. “Hundreds of journalists are clamoring for photos and interviews. Schools want to arrange field trips so kids can see your thumb. It’s one of the wonders of the world.”

Enjoying his sudden fame, Jim welcomed visitors, especially when the hospital installed a coin-operated turnstile in the room’s doorway. Jim and the hospital agreed on a 50-50 split. The entire population of Phoenix paid a buck a head to view the thumb.

Now affluent, Jim ignored job offers that poured in from every circus and freak show in the world.

Soon Jim found himself craving zombie fingers. He asked friends to locate the vendor, and buy a dozen. Their search was unsuccessful.

Jim’s cravings grew so acute he began to nibble his own green thumb. Finding it tastier than zombie fingers, he ate the whole thing.

Miraculously, Jim’s thumb grew back in an hour. But, his hunger pains returned just as quickly. Consequently, Jim ate his new thumb as fast as he could chew. The faster he ate his thumb off, the faster it grew back, and the more his appetite increased for his own flesh.

After three hours of continuous thumb eating, Jim’s stomach exploded. Though he died, his thumb grew back as green and fresh as ever.

The coroner, who performed Jim’s autopsy, tasted Jim’s thumb out of morbid curiosity. Finding it exquisitely delicious, he became immediately addicted. Barricading himself and Jim’s corpse inside the morgue’s freezer room, he ate Jim’s regenerating thumb until his stomach exploded.

Doctors collected bits of Jim’s thumb, cloned them, and mass-produced green thumbs in secret laboratories. They announced a new, exciting snack food in spectacular ads during the Super Bowl.

The world was electrified, especially when learning the new snack was low-cal, fat free, and loaded with vitamins. Before long, American green thumb sandwiches became the snack choice of billions around the world.

The sudden drop in demand for authentic, freshly cut zombie fingers created severe economic problems on Haiti. Matters got worse when zombies realized they could no longer fill their finger amputation books with gold stars and win free trips to Disneyland. They declared war.

Meanwhile, the stomachs of three billion people around the globe exploded when snackers ignored the Surgeon General’s warnings about excessive ingestion of cloned green thumbs.

Unable to raise an army because of massive depopulation, all nations sued for peace.

The zombies demanded two concessions: the destruction of every American cloned green thumb, and the right to free trips to Disneyland, even if their finger amputation books contained only a single star.

They got what they wanted.

Soon afterward, red ears from werewolves began showing up on in major cities. They were so tasty, everyone quickly forgot all about zombie fingers.

Intense war still rages between zombies who supply green fingers and werewolves who provide red ears. Since blockades by the combatants have made both commodities unavailable, everyone on Earth has switched to potato chips.

So far, nobody’s stomachs have exploded from gorging on potato chips.

And for now, Disneyland is free of smelly, obnoxious, green-fingered zombies.

"Zombie Fingers"
Copyright: © 2009 Michael A. Kechula
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in eight contests and placed in seven others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 114 magazines and 30 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at www.BooksForABuck.com and www.fictionwise.com Paperback available at www.amazon.com.

The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

November 15th 1998

Dear Mr Monaghan

Thank you for submitting your article "The enslavement of ghosts for monetary gain", but we will not be able to use it in our journal. While the article was interesting and it's clear that you are a keen amateur, we are a research-based and peer-reviewed academic journal and your piece may be better suited to the popular press. We wish you luck with it elsewhere.


E.J. Hall



The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

January 28th 2000

Dear Mr Monaghan

Thank you for submitting your article "Entombed and reborn: a personal journey", but we will not be able to use it in our journal. While the article was interesting I would remind you that we are a research-based and peer-reviewed academic journal and your piece may be better suited elsewhere.


E.J. Hall



The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

October 14th 2000

Dear Mr Monaghan

Thank you for submitting your article "Venusians on Mars, Martians on Earth: evidence for extraterrestrial visits to the lower 48", but we will not be able use it in our journal. Again I would remind you that we are a research-based and peer-reviewed academic journal. Please do not send us any further articles of this type. If you wish to submit again, please query first and include your academic qualifications.


E.J. Hall


(ps. we deal in the paranormal not extraterrestrials, do you even read the journal?)


The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

November 21st 2004

Dear Mr Monaghan

Thank you for submitting your article "Addiction to Ouija: how spirit contact becomes like chocolate", but we will not be using it in our journal. I note that it has been some years since you sent us a piece and while your completion of a degree is useful, at this stage in your academic career it would be good to collaborate with post-graduate/post-doctoral researchers in the writing. This will give your pieces more credence with the committee and peer reviewers.


E.J. Hall


(Please note that this is my last year as editor, duties from next year will be taken over by Prof. Jim MacRuddy).


The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

January 7th 2006

Dear Mr Monaghan

Thank you for submitting your article "Extended sleep deprivation and spirit contact", but we will not be using it in our journal. The photographs, however do seem to be something worth pursuing. Perhaps if you developed that line of research, and, importantly, could verify the authenticity of the photographs with a co-researcher then I think that is an article we would be interested in. We note that you have very quickly completed your Masters degree - perhaps your supervisor(s) would be willing to work with you on the research and an article.


E. J. Hall


(I know I was telling everyone that I was ending my term as editor, but it turns out I love it too much to give it up).


The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

August 27th 2008

Dear Dr Monaghan and Dr Gilligan

Thank you for submitting your article "Insanity and possession: an evidence of a two-way street", but we will not be using it in our journal. We are glad that you have completed your PhD, and the topic area - possession -certainly seems the kind of thing that would interest us. However, of greater concern is our doubt about the veracity of Mr Gilligan's qualifications. We suspect that the name was just added to the manuscript to try to impress the review board that you have a collaborator. We were unable to locate any other publications by him in our databases, and the university named as awarding his doctorate was shut down in 1927, making him well over 100 years old, if he in fact exists. This is an abuse of our trust. Please cease sending articles.


E.J. Hall


(ps. actually I found the article entertaining and would like to see more, but please address anything "private and confidential" so that it comes directly to me).


The Journal of Paranormal and Supernatural Research

Highland Springs

Virginia 23075

September 25th 2009

Dear Dr Monaghan

Thank you for submitting your article "Possession and determination: how spirits manipulate through persistence". This is an excellent piece and we will be publishing it in the January 2010 issue. We look forward to future research from you (and some collaborators?)


E.J. Hall


(ps. I would be interested in collaborating with you personally - I remember some research you did on sleep deprivation some years back. I will be in your area on business next month and I'll drop by, if I may).

Copyright: © 2009 Sean Monaghan
Sean Monaghan loves the smell of forests and enjoys walks in the abandoned plantation pines disappearing into the expanding dunes at the beach near his hometown. Sean has recent stories in Static Movement and Flashes In The Dark. He tutors in creative writing and works in a busy public library. More information about Sean and his writing at his website – www.venusvulture.com.

Ambling along as I’m wont to do, knobby walkin stick juttin from my hand and the crisp mornin' sun warmin' my soul, a peculiar odor snatches up my senses.

“Why, that’s an altogether incongruent aroma pervadin the air on such a fine spring morn as this.”

Then I see him sittin in the park, back against a tree, head a-hangin low, ears a-flopped over and droopin betwixt his fluffy legs. Darned if this ain’t my lucky day. Why, I know right away what this here situation is.

“Say there young fella, what seems to be causin' you sucha great pain when the Lord Almighty has provided as fine a day as this to be celebratin' His glorious benevolence?”

“I’m finished,” says he all slow and doleful like. “Through. Done. Warshed up.”

“Say, if I didn’t know better, I’ve either stumbled upon the sulfurous rim of a burblin volcano, or you gotcher self a mess-a bad eggs in yonder colored baskets.”

Shakes his head and holds up his paws. Laments, he does, in a meanderin' sorta way like you’d suppose a gigantical speakin' rabbit would do. “Oh! It’s awful! Every egg in this year’s batch is ruined! Rotten, rancid rejects! Once that Cadbury bunny showed up with his chocolate eggs, I was on the outs with the kids, and every year since it’s gotten worse, but now this! I’ve had it for sure.”

“Well, now, hang on just a second there young fella,” I tell him. “As it turns out, this just so happens to be your lucky day.”

“Yeah, how’s that? You got about a million painted eggs hiding in your back pocket? I’m done and out of the Holiday business forever. You know of anybody hiring rabbits?”

“Why, friend, don’t tell me that you don’t recognize me.”

“Well, golly mister, I can’t say that I do.”

“Aloisius Cottonbottom, at your service.” I snatch up his paw and give a good, hearty shakin as I’m wont to do with folk.

“Uh, hi Mr. Cottonbottom, I’m the Eas–“

“No introductions necessary Mr. Bunny, of course I know who you are. I also know some of your friends as well. A mister Terry Fingerhut?”

“Uh… Fingerhut? I don’t think I know him.”

“Well sure you do, though he no longer lays claim to the Fingerhut moniker these days. Tooth Fairy ring a bell?”

“Oh yeah, I know the Tooth Fairy! He’s a really good guy.”

“He didn’t always go by the name Tooth Fairy, though. When he came to be in need of my services, he was Terry Fingerhut, and he was havin’ a Devil of a time. Facin' lawsuits and jail time and whatnot. Ain’t many parents out there very comfortable with a fella name of Terry Fingerhut sneakin' into their child’s room in the middle of the night and rootin around beneath their pillow so as to spirit away their dislodged ivories whilst they slumber. But that’s where I come in, ya see?”

“Uh… No. I guess I don’t see.”

“Image my friend. In your particular vocation, the name of the game is Image. That's what I give 'ol Terry Fingerhut. Took him from slinkin' creep to magical Fairy, and not only that, a magical Fairy with a sack of cold hard cash. Hush money if you like, but in the end, everybody's happy and the Tooth Fairy's every kid's hero, all because that's his new Image.”

“Image, huh? You suppose I should get some of that?”

I’m lookin at him a little crossways now. Poor fella musta been huffin too long on them putrefied pastel poultry embryos. “Sure, Image. You don’t rightly know what Image is, do ya there?”

“Uh… well, nope. I suppose I don’t.”

“Ya see,” I says a little bit slower, “Image is how the world looks upon you. It’s how the folks for whom you’re providin' this service see you. For instance, if you go about sendin’ out these here substandard delights, your Image forever more will be rotten eggs. When kids say ‘Easter Bunny’ moms and dads the world over will see rotten eggs. Why, you’ll surely be finished, just as you’re figurin'.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was figuring all right. I’m through.”

“Well now, not so fast. Like I said, this here’s your lucky day. What you need is Aloisius Cottonbottom’s Surefire Image Reconstruction Services.”

“Surefire Image…”

“…Reconstruction Services, that’s exactly right. Offered by yours truly, for a nominal fee, merely a pittance in comparison to the outstanding support, technical know-how, emotional aid, mechanical improvement, and financial guidance that this all-encompassing service will provide.”

“Wow, that’s sounds great. What’s the service again?”

“Image Reconstruction, E.B. A complete overhaul, from top to bottom. We’ll start today and on the third day, you shall rise again, a newer, more powerful Bunny that will have that ‘ol Cadbury feller droppin' something else outta his backside longside them chocolate dandies.”

“Yeah. That’s what I need. Image Redestruction Servicing. That’ll show that little Cadbury fucker. What did you say this will cost again?”

Ah, you’ve got to love the big guy, don’t ya? I toss an arm ‘round his downy shoulders and help him to his feet. Easter’s only three days off. We’ve got work to do.

“Walk with me young fella. I’ve got big plans for you. Do you by chance happen to play any musical instruments?”

"Aloisius Cottonbottom's Surefire Image Reconstruction Services"
Copyright: © 2009 Steve Lowe
Steve Lowe is a sports journalist and author residing in South Bend, Ind. with his wife and two sons. He writes for the South Bend Tribune, Irish Sports Report and Associated Press, and has been published in several national and regional newspapers and magazines. His fiction has appeared or will soon do so, in The Absent Willow Review, House of Horror, Allegory, and the Dead Bait and Creature Features anthologies. In his spare time, such as it is, Steve plays a serviceable shortstop for various slowpitch softball teams and enjoys writing autobiographical blurbs in the third person.

As Frank and Lisa came down the path in the most isolated section of the park, a man rose from a bench and disappeared in the surrounding bushes. The couple was so involved in discussing their failing finances, they didn’t notice the shopping bag he left behind until they sat on the bench.

“Looks like somebody forgot their stuff,” Frank said, pointing to the Barnes and Noble bag. He looked around, but didn’t see anybody. Opening the bag, he found a leather bound book. Attached to the cover was a bright-yellow sticky-note.

“What does the note say?” Lisa asked.

“Do not open this book under any circumstances—unless you believe,” Frank replied. “What the hell’s that supposed to mean? Believe in what? I swear, the world gets weirder every day.”

“Put it back and let’s get outta here.”

“Not until I open it.”

“Are you crazy? What if it’s cursed?”

“Geez, Lisa, stop being so superstitious. It’s only a book.”

Frank flipped through the pages. “Well if this ain’t the damndest thing. Every page is blank.”

“Let me see,” Lisa said.

When he gave her the book, she screamed and dropped it.

“What happened?” he asked.

“It burned my hands!”

Frank checked her skin for redness. “I don’t see a thing. You’ve been so jittery since you got laid off. I told you not to worry, we’ll find a way to pay the mortgage. We’ll start by having a garage sale. I’ll bet I can get five bucks for this book.”

He ignored Lisa’s pleas about not bringing the spooky book back to their house.

That evening, Frank watched a World War Two espionage movie on TV. A secret agent was stopped at the French-German border by Guards who quizzed him about a blank notebook in his attaché case. He told interrogators he’d brought it to record travel expenses. Finding nothing incriminating, the guards waved him on. Once the agent was in a safe house, he coated the notebook’s pages with chemicals. Words suddenly appeared that gave details on Nazi Germany’s progress in developing the world’s first nuclear bomb.

“Invisible ink!” Frank muttered. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Checking Google, he found information about invisible inks and how to make them visible. The easiest way was to pass the pages under black light.

Hurrying to Wal-Mart, he bought a black light. The moment he passed the first page of the book under the light, words appeared.

“Lisa! Look at this. You ain’t gonna believe your eyes! President John F. Kennedy’s name is printed on the first page.

“What does it say about him?” she asked.

“Nothing. Only his name appears. The rest is blank.”

“Please get rid of that thing. It gives me the creeps.”

Ignoring her, Frank turned to the next page. “This page has Amelia Earhart’s name. I remember reading about her in school. She was a famous woman pilot who disappeared while flying across the Pacific in the 1930s.”

The next page had Marilyn Monroe’s name, but nothing else.

“This page has Elvis Presley’s name,” he said. “And this one has Jimmy Hoffa’s. He was that union president who disappeared back in the ‘70s. They never found his body.”

“Did you check the cover?” Lisa asked.

“No. Didn’t think of it.”

When Frank passed the cover under black light, large, hand printed letters appeared that said, “PEOPLE I’VE KILLED.”

“What the hell’s going on?” Lisa asked.

“I don’t know.”

“I’m calling the police. This might be the work of a serial killer.” While she reached for the phone, he checked the back cover.

“Put the phone down,” he said. “They’ll never believe you.”


“Because of what the back cover says. He read aloud, “I warned them not to stop believing. But they didn’t listen. And to whoever finds this book and reads these names, I warn you---you better believe or your name will end up on these pages.”

“Believe in what?” Lisa asked.”

“The Boogie Man,” Frank said. “He signed his name under the warning.”

“That’s the craziest thing I ever heard. The Boogie Man can’t write. He’s a monster, for goodness sakes. Geez, the way I’m talking, you’d think he actually exists.”

“When did you find out he didn’t?”

“I never believed in a stupid thing called the Boogie Man who lurked in the dark waiting to pounce on disobedient children,” she said.

“I bought it all. The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, Boogie Man. I was devastated when I found out it was all just a big lie. Sometimes, for the fun of it, I wish I still believed.”

Lisa called her husband a jerk.

That night, Frank and Lisa were murdered.

Homicide investigators still wonder about the leather-bound book they found near the victims’ bodies and fingerprints on the book that the FBI, Scotland Yard, and Interpol couldn't identify.

Had detectives passed the book under black light, they would have noticed Frank and Lisa’s names on the page following Jimmy Hoffa’s, plus their murderer’s name on the back cover.

Copyright: © 2009 Michael A. Kechula
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in eight contests and placed in seven others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 114 magazines and 30 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at www.BooksForABuck.com and www.fictionwise.com Paperback available at www.amazon.com.

Penelope Aftergut had a taste for sweets and a penchant towards cruelty. She avoided doctors, believing from experience they were useless. Unfortunately, they were a necessary evil. Suffering from severe leg cramping during her more ambitious activities, she reluctantly made an appointment, deeming her high sugar intake the cause.

A fellow she met online, in a lesser known chat group for the cruel, and who she subsequently met in person along with others of like mind, agreed to accompany her to the doctor’s office. She was not the only one with little respect for physicians.

Exactly one hour after standing in her front yard, dressed in the customary suburban mom attire, waving to her children as they trotted up the school bus steps and grinning at the squirrel in her yard, she sat naked on the edge of the tub, water running warm washing the blood from her red stilettos. Her long blonde hair fell in her face as she worked lavender scented soap onto the spikes of her shoes. She pushed her hair back with the crook of her elbow and watched the water-downed blood stream and swirl down the drain.

After drying her shoes, she slipped her feet into them and faced the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. She turned around admiring the tattoos on each shoulder blade. They caused quite the stir at her club as she performed the activities with nothing on but her heels. A black thorny rose splashing three drops of blood, creating the words "Conquer me completely" puckered from her right shoulder blade. A raven with one eye hanging by a thick rope-like optic nerve oozing the words "Torture me so sweetly" on her left shoulder blade. These words she taught her pet raven, Pookie. It’s the only time she ever felt bad for her cruelty, as the raven on her shoulder with the missing eye resembled her dear pet.

She covered her ample breasts with her black lacey bra, slipped on a sheer, white, button up blouse and wiggled her black leather pencil skirt past her curvy hips. She wrapped her massive blonde locks to the back of her head and secured the loose bun with an ice pick.

The doorbell rang and Pookie spouted, “Torture me so sweetly…Torture me so sweetly…Torture me so sweetly.” Like any obsessive-compulsive raven he said everything in three’s. “Conquer me completely…Conquer me completely…Conquer me completely.”

“Ah Pookie. I do love you.” She said as she reached a red-painted fingernail inside the bars of the cage and caressed his head. “Love you…Love you…Love you.”

David stood at the door. Very few men made her female parts throb. David did. She believed lust to be a most wonderful and cruel feeling. She looked in his eyes and felt the warm, wet heat shudder from her.

“Hello David,” she said and gently and purposely rubbed her breasts on his chest as she stood on her tip-toes to kiss him on his cheek. He stepped away from her not completely comfortable with this moral dilemma.

“Ms. Aftergut,” he said. Penelope laughed. Then he laughed.

“Are you ready?”

“I am.” They walked to his car and he opened the door for her. They spoke of their mutual friends and activities on the thirty minute trip from suburbia to the medical center. He never mentioned his wife, though he did speak of his daughters. Penelope didn’t mind. They would take their game to the next level. The look passed between them. Words were not needed. They arrived in the multi-tiered parking garage and he opened the door for her and reached a hand out to help her out of the car.

Sitting in the doctor’s office together, they resembled any normal married couple, she leafed through House and Garden and he glanced through an old Field and Stream.

“Ms. Aftergut,” the nurse at the door, holding a chart in her hand said. Penelope shot a quick grin at David as they entered the office.

“Dr. Jacobs will be with you in a moment.”

Penelope took a seat in the examining room. ”Thank you.”

One hour later the door abruptly opened and there stood the good doctor.

“So you have leg pain,” he said without looking at Penelope.

“Yes, when I exert a great deal of force on my legs they cramp up terribly.”

“Mmmhmm,” he said and this time looked at her and then at David.

“What do you take for the pain?” He said with a slight irritated and bothered tone.

“Extra-strength Tylenol,” Penelope said, feeling herself growing agitated with his abrupt and careless manner.

She watched as he wrote out a prescription on his pad. He handed it to her. “Do you always wear shoes like that?”

Her eyes narrowed. “Yes but I thought it may be related to my addiction to sweets.”

“Try more sensible shoes and lay off the sugar. That should help.” He said, as he leered at her and licked his lips.

David got up and walked to the door, blocking the doctor’s exit.

“I have a better idea.” Penelope began to undress.

* * *

Penelope left tiny stiletto shaped blood prints on the tile as they left the doctor’s office and had a smidgen of blood on the bun at the back of her head. How odd that no one even peaked in the room with the good doctor carrying on the way he did.

Sore, bruised and battered she walked to her front door, turning to wave at David whose moral dilemma was vanquished on top of the good doctor’s body. She blew him a kiss and closed the door. Pookie was reciting his spiel as Penelope walked over to him.

“Mommy had a very good day, my pet,” she said as she caressed his head.

And exactly one hour before the children would arrive home from school Penelope stood in her kitchen in her suburban uniform, hair in a ponytail, baking cookies like any good, normal mother would do.

"Penelope's Good Day"
Copyright: © 2009 Suzie Bradshaw
Suzie Bradshaw loves speaking and writing about herself in the third person. She also doubts that light is really the fastest thing in the universe and in her next life she will prove Einstein wrong. But in this life all she wants to do is write. Is that a song? She's had stories published on Microhorror.com and SNMHorrormag.com. Suzie says thank you for reading!


The corner of Smith and North Hotel Streets in the dark heart of Honolulu’s Chinatown can be a frightening place. Just blocks from Maunakea Market, the sights, sounds and, yes, even the odors can be overwhelming. Sidewalk stalls feature a variety of exotic seafood and rare tropical flowers, each in varying degrees of freshness. Picture as well as a swarming mass of humanity (with questionable dentition) hailing from the far corners of Asia and the Pacific. It’s enough to intimidate even the most seasoned traveler.

Just imagine, however, that you're an anthropologist specializing in shamanism and ancient medicine. And maybe you're looking for just the right ingredients to cast a spell or craft a potion to, say, increase your husband’s flagging libido. In that case, Smith and North Hotel would be just the place.

Of course, you'd need to have a contact; much of what you'd be looking for is strictly black-market material, poached from the declining ranks of the world’s most endangered species. But you'd assuage your conscience with the thought that this was just a one-time thing, and since the stuff’s there anyhow what harm would you really be doing?

So you screw up your courage and negotiate the narrow streets amid the seedy bars. It’s early in the day and so you dodge the hardened hookers heading home after a rough night’s trade. You find the shop you're looking for. As you enter, a small bell nailed to the door jingles softly, welcomely. You mention a name and the old woman behind the counter smiles toothlessly in relief and recognition. The shop is redolent with smells you have no desire to identify. You procure bear paw, powdered rhinoceros horn, tiger penis as well as extracts from the organs of the pangolin and civet cat.

“T’ank you Ma’am, t’ank you,” the old woman bows as you turn to leave. “Dis just what you need … you no tell nobody …T’ank you.”

You tuck the expensive contraband into your shoulder bag and head for home. You try to look casual but, as you walk down Bethel Street toward Ala Moana Boulevard, you turn furtively and look over your shoulder. The beautiful blue sky and the already-fierce Hawaiian sun seem especially bright, especially revealing.

That very afternoon you prepare the philtre according to the traditional recipe in an old Taoist text and mix it into your husband’s wine. He downs the first glass so quickly he never notices the slightly pungent after-taste. Nor does he pay much attention to the strong smells lingering in the kitchen. After all, he’s accustomed to your rather outré culinary inclinations.

* * *

Three days pass in dizzying profusion; easily the most bizarre and nightmarish three days of your life. The results of your machinations have yielded powerful results that in no way correspond to your expectations. And there’s nothing you can do. No one’s likely to believe the story you have to tell. Your only option is to stand by your husband, a man arrested, vilified, held over for psychiatric evaluation … and banned from zoos worldwide for life!

"Love Potion No. 9"
Copyright: © 2009 James C. Clar
James C. Clar's work has been published in print as well as on the Internet. Recently he has placed short fiction in the Taj Mahal Review, Golden Visions Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Word Catalyst Magazine, Orchard Press Mysteries, 365 Tomorrows, Flashes in the Dark, Shine:The Journal of Flash, Everyday Fiction, Powder Burn Flash, Apollo's Lyre, Antipodean Sci-Fi and Flashshot. His story “Starbuck” was voted story of the year for 2008 by the editors of Long Story, Short. There's little he enjoys more than wandering the streets and alleys of Chinatown.

I do this crazy thing when I drive. I pretend whatever song I’m playing is part of the closing shot of a movie I’m in. My favorite is the Beatles’ “Two of Us,” with its refrain, “on our way home.”

In the movie I’m battered and dirty because I’ve just rescued my sixteen-year-old daughter from thugs who abused her after she ran away from home. She’s asleep next to me on the passenger seat and I sneak glances at her, my eyes misting.

I’d ridiculed her music—this song in particular—and so she bolted. The movie has this comforting irony because I’m taking her home with a renewed reverence for her music and her life. It’s just the two of us.

Sometimes I fantasize about being a superhero. I call myself The Fury, after the snaky-haired avengers from mythology who doled out murderous justice for those with no one to avenge them. In my fantasy, I scan the newspapers for crazy crimes, like moms who murder their own kids and pretend someone else did it, until the evidence piles up and they start blubbering about voices inside their heads.

Then The Fury swings into action. I jump into the Chariot o’ Fire and roar off. I abduct the guilty and convey them blindfolded to my lair where I duct-tape them to a chair. When they awake, I peel the tape off their eyes and confront them with clippings of their horrible crimes. I lay the instruments of justice on the table. Sharp and shiny, the knives are only for effect. Sure, I heft them against the necks of the accused. Sometimes I draw blood.

When they start choking on their own spit, I rip the tape off their mouths and let them squeal for mercy. It can get pretty intense before I let them go. It’s okay. It’s just the two of us.

The only thing I don’t like about driving is pulling into the garage of my ramshackle house. The movie’s over. I’m not an avenger. I’m just some middle-aged guy with financial problems and no social life.

I get out of the car and go into the house. In the kitchen, everything looks okay. But I left the basement door ajar. I hear scratching down there. It’s not rats.

I pluck a rusty carving knife from the sink and nudge open the door. I flip on the light.

He’s tipped the chair over and lies on his side squirming, struggling to break the tape on his wrists by rubbing it against the floor. He sees me and starts groaning. The little red ball in his mouth strains against the leather straps of the harness. His eyes bulge crazily. I focus on the dried blood stains on the back of his white briefs.

“Don’t fuss,” I say softly, starting down the stairs. “It’s just the two of us.”

"Two of Us"
Copyright: © 2009 Robert Meade
Robert Meade is a Boston native now transplanted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to a Healthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo’s Lyre.

Richard sat in his car, watching with pent-up anger as his co-workers stood in the parking lot, puffing on their cigarettes. Richard had nothing against smokers – if they wanted to kill themselves, that was their business – but he did have a problem with their second-hand smoke. It drifted past his window in great noxious clouds, forcing him to hold his breath while the poison floated by. He thought about rolling his window up, but it was nearly ninety degrees outside and his A/C was broken. He would bake.

The air inside the shop was thick with hazardous fumes that burned his nose and made him dizzy. The building’s ventilation system consisted of a single exhaust fan, its rusty blades so caked with grime they barely spun. And the company-issued particle masks were a joke. Richard’s ten-minute break was his only reprieve, his only chance to snatch a few token breaths of fresh air before heading back into the haze of acetone, paint thinner and mold release agents. And it had been enough until spring arrived and the jerks with the coffin nails climbed out of their cars and started polluting the air with carcinogens just as dangerous as the fumes he sought to escape.

Nearly as annoying as their smoke was the group’s conversations, which usually consisted of opinionated statements concerning the previous night’s football game (“The Lions need to fire Matt Millen.”), the war in Iraq (“We ought to just nuke them towel-headed fucks and get it over with.”), or – how profound – the weather (“Ain’t no such thing as global warming.”). But today, a new topic dominated their discussion – the recent disappearance of several female joggers. And even though the police suspected foul play, these morons were convinced they had it all figured out. According to them, the women (“bitches”), all of whom were married, had simply run away with other men.

As Richard watched the smoke and the ignorance spew from his co-workers’ mouths, he decided he’d had enough. It was time for the payback.

He started his car, the engine groaning and rattling in protest, and pulled out of his parking space. He drove past the small group of men to an empty spot on the other side of their vehicles, and then backed his car in and killed the engine. Now they were downwind of him. And it only took them a few moments to notice the smell. Richard giggled as he watched the men turn toward him, their faces contorted at the stench of what he had in the trunk.

Or, rather, who he had in the trunk.

And even though they all wore athletic pants, sports bras, and running shoes, it was rather obvious that they hadn’t exactly “run away” with him.

Copyright: © 2009 Chris Reed
Chris Reed lives in Davison , MI , with his wife and two children. His fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of small press publications including Black Ink Horror, Aberrant Dreams, and Killer-Works.com. Aside from writing, Chris enjoys frozen pizza, Seinfeld reruns, and hockey fights. He is also the artist/writer/creator of Used Addictions, a comic book about a cigarette butt, an empty wine bottle, and a used condom. Visit his website: http://www.chrisreedfiction.com/.

Danny rubbed his neck with his left hand while keeping his right hand on the steering wheel. Funny how he’d dreamed of owning his own truck, and thought it would mean freedom on the open roads. Instead he felt like he may as well been chained to the god damn thing, he had to drive so many hours to pay for it.

And now trying to keep Marcie off his back about not spending any time with her and the kids. Always something. Danny continued to massage his neck while he drove. There might as well be a balled up fist in there, his neck was so bloody tight.

Danny saw a small car coming up fast behind him. He could hear the pulsating music blaring from their stereo. Danny shook his head. Kids today. No respect for anything.

Danny thought back to when he was a teenager and his Dad beat the shit out of him every Saturday night. The old man would come crawlin’ in after the bar closed and start yelling about some thing. Any thing. No matter what Danny said or did, it’d always end up the same, with his Dad whalin’ on him like he was on fire, saying “That’ll teach ya, little punk bastard.”

The little Focus was passing him now, and Danny could see the car crammed full of teenagers, none wearing seat belts. The kid in the passenger seat had his window open wide and forced his upper body out the window. He hurled his large pop back toward Danny’s windshield.

In an instant Coke splashed all over Danny’s window. Danny instinctively pressed his foot to the brake and felt another car crash into the back of him.

Danny jumped out of his truck and rushed back to it. A young pregnant woman was crying. He motioned for her to roll down the window. “Jesus Christ, lady are you o.k.?”

She nodded. “I’m fine. I’m fine.”

She was a pretty little thing, reminded him of his mama. “I’ll get the little bastards, don’t you worry.”

“No, no. I don’t want any trouble. I’ll just call my husband.”

Danny was already running back to his truck. He felt weighed down by his heavy construction boots and flannel shirt. Danny hopped in the truck and pressed his foot down hard on the accelerator. He grabbed a blanket from the passenger side to wipe the sweat off his head.

Danny gritted his teeth and repeated his mantra. “I’ll get you, ya little bastards. I’ll get you, ya little bastards.”

Danny put his fist on his horn while car after car got out of his way to let him pass. Danny was so hot now he could hardly breathe. He spotted the Focus and drove up behind it and nudged it with his bumper. The kid on the passenger side leaned out and screamed at him. “You’re crazy!”

Danny took the large wrench beside him and hurled it out the window. It only dented the trunk. The car drove up the bridge that went over the Mack River. Danny took a deep breath and drove into the lane beside them. He swerved right into them and could hear screaming. One more time should do it. Danny ran them off the bridge into the river below.
Danny stopped his truck and ran to the edge of the river. The car was completely submerged.

Danny spit while he walked back to the truck. “That’ll teach ya, little punk bastards.”
Danny climbed back in the truck and drove on. Danny looked at his watch. He’d have to drive faster now, or he’d never meet his deadline.

"The Lesson"
Copyright: © 2009 Elizabeth Crocket
Elizabeth writes short fiction, poetry and haiku. She has been published or has work forthcoming in Spotlight on Recovery magazine, Horror Bound, Flashes in the Dark, Micro horror, Flashshot, Every Day Fiction, Every Day Poetry, Ascent Aspirations, RKVRY online journal, Midnight Times, Word Riot, Roadrunner online journal, Shamrock online journal and more.

Finally, after months of searching, It had found her. Her scent was unmistakable. After all that time, It still remembered her smell so very well. It followed the underground sewer lines leading up to Her house. Her scent permeated from the water that flowed through them. She must be taking a shower.

She will be surprised to see me, It thought. It felt a twinge of excitement. It remembered back when She used to play with It. They would play so many great games. She would disappear behind her hands and spring out and surprise It. It tried that once with the family cat, Muffins. Muffins scratched It, so It twisted Muffins’ head off.

It thought that game was hilarious, but She did not. It laughed, as red fur stuck to It’s fingers, but She screamed. It hated when She screamed, so It scratched Her face and bit Her. She had to wear white things on Her face that gradually turned red and had to be changed every few minutes. After that day She cried a lot and kept Her distance away from It.

She would stare at it for long periods of time, not holding It or loving It like She used to. Often She left It to fend for itself for days at a time. She would just stare, with tears on Her face as It cried for food. One day It was so hungry, It snatched up a mouse that scurried past Its cage and ate it whole. She threw up and ran from the house.

She brought a man home with her later that day. He wore black clothes and a shimmering gold cross. She told It to be good, and not to bother the man, but It did not listen. He wanted to flick his water on It and say those strange words. It became angry when the man started shouting words from his book. He came too close to the crate and It snatched out one of his eyes. It loved the taste of him and wanted more, but the man ran screaming from the house.

She cried a lot that night as She took It for a ride out in the country. It enjoyed the fresh air. She said that She was going to play a game with It. She threw It’s crate into a sewer drain and drove away.

For months all It had to live off of was rats and snakes. It loved the way they squirmed as they slid down It’s throat. Looking back, It enjoyed that game very much. Leaving It somewhere so that It could find its way home was fun. Now that It has found Her, the time has come to play another game.

It scratched at the front door but could not reach the doorknob. All the windows were too high to reach. There was only one other option.

It opened the back hatch of the minivan by balancing on the rear bumper. It crawled to the front of the van and climbed into the front seat. It pressed the trunk button allowing the hatch to close itself and then It slid out of the seat and into the floorboard behind the driver’s seat. It settled in for a short nap.

It remembered that playing peek-a-boo with Her was such a fun game before She was too afraid to play anymore. In the morning, It is going to surprise Her. It is going to grab Her around the neck with Its claws. In the morning, It is going to play a new game with Her.

"Fun and Games"
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky. To date, he has published over thirty-five stories since he began publishing in November 2008. He has been published by MicroHorror.com, Static Movement, The Monsters Next Door, Sonar4 Ezine, Blood Moon Rising, Flashshot, Flashes in the Dark, Dark Fire Fiction, Burst Fiction, The Daily Tourniquet, Yellow Mama, The Lesser Flamingo, and The Short Humour Site.

Ron’s cell phone rang, as he staggered from the bar.

“Ron Biggs?” asked an ethereal-sounding voice.

“Yeah. Who wants to know?”

“Greetings,” said the voice.

“Who the hell is this?”

“He who is feared by all.”

“Up your kazoo, you freakin’ jerk!” Ron yelled, then hung up.

His phone rang again.

“I will not be insulted or ignored,” said the voice. “Don’t hang up until you’re told, or a taxi will jump the curb and cut you in half. Understand?”

Ron saw an out-of-service taxi suddenly go out of control and swerve toward him. “I understand!” he screamed.

The driver regained control missing Ron by three feet.

“As you see, I mean what I say,” the voice said.

“What the hell’s going on? Who are you?”


The phone went silent. Realizing what’d just happened, Ron panicked and ran.

A cop stopped him. “What’s the problem?”

“Nothing, Officer. I’m in a hurry to get home.”

“You smell boozy. Better take a cab. It ain’t healthy to be walking around here at night when you’re drunk.”

“I’ll grab a cab soon as I can find one.”

“There’s plenty in the Theatre District.”

“I’ll go there right now,” Ron said.

As Ron hurried away, his phone rang again.

“Better make your last confession,” Destrudo said.

“I don’t believe in that. In fact, I don’t believe you exist.”

“You soon will,” said the voice. “I came to warn you… you’re going to die in ten hours.”


“Ask a priest about me. Tell him Destrudo sent you. Or don’t you dare?”

The line went dead.

St. Michael’s, where Ron used to attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, was a few blocks away. Ron arrived just as a meeting ended. Spotting a Roman collar, he called, “Hey, Father.”

“Can I help you?”

“I was told to find a priest.”

“Who told you?”


Ron heard a sharp intake of breath.

“I can’t help you,” the priest said.

“Can you tell me who Destrudo is?”

“The Angel of Death.”

“Aw c’mon,” Ron said, “there’s no such thing.”

“Wrong. Once his sword is raised, nobody can evade his vicious attack. The time, place, and date were ordained before your birth. Have you lived a good life?”

“Sure. It’s been real good grabbing anything I wanted before the other guy did.”

“Even if it meant stealing and killing?”


“Then you’ve lived an evil life.”

“What’s evil to you is ordinary to me.”

“There’s no reprieve,” said the priest. “Prepare to face your maker.”

“No!” Ron shouted. “I don’t believe any of your hokum.”

“You’ve been unreasonably privileged. Few have ever heard Destrudo’s voice. Perhaps he’ll grant the death you desire.”

“How about this: suppose I ask to be whacked right between the eyes by a flying saucer while I’m standing on top of the Empire State Building, giving Destrudo the finger? At least I’ll go out knowing for sure if flying saucers exist.”

“Foolish sacrilege,” said the priest.

When Ron hailed a cab, Destrudo called again. “You have nine hours.”

“Is that so? How’s it gonna happen?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Hey, why not wipe me out in style? Do something spectacular that’ll make the papers with headlines saying, “Destrudo Strikes Again.” I’ll go to the New York Times and tell a reporter what’s gonna happen. I’ll say that tomorrow morning, a flying saucer is gonna whack me while I’m standing on top of the Empire State Building.”

“Is that how you prefer to be dispatched at 8:45 tomorrow morning?”

“Yep. Might as well go out with a big bang. It’ll give people something to talk about for generations.”


The phone went dead.

Ron decided to go the Times Building and tell his story to a reporter. He figured they might even pay him a few dollars that he could use to buy whiskey.

“On top of the Empire State Building?” asked a reporter.


“Can’t happen there. The top floor’s closed to visitors for the next two months. They’re sandblasting the outside of the building to remove decades of soot. Why not go to the World Trade Center instead and wait on the observation tower? Let the flying saucer whomp you there.”

“Great idea,” Ron said.

The entire night crew of the Times was in stitches when the reporter told them about the zonked-out wacko and his impending death by flying saucer.

Next morning, as Ron rode the subway to the World Trade Center, Destrudo called and asked if he was ready to die.

“Yeah. But I changed my mind about the Empire State Building. The World Trade Center is higher and more spectacular. I’m going there now. I’ll be standing outside on the observation tower waiting for the flying saucer.”

“Wonderful choice,” Destrudo replied. “That’ll make it even easier for the saucer’s pilot to see you.”

Ron took the elevator to the World Trade Center’s observation tower. While standing outside on the 110th floor scanning the skies for flying saucers, his phone rang.

“There’s something I wanted to tell you before you die. Flying saucers don’t exist. But, I’ve found a suitable alternative. Look to your right. See that airliner heading your way?”

"No Reprieve"
Copyright: © 2009 Michael A. Kechula
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in eight contests and placed in seven others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 114 magazines and 30 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at http://www.booksforabuck.com/ and http://www.fictionwise.com/ Paperback available at http://www.amazon.com/.

The wind blew hard. It moaned and whistled as it wove its way through the park. All around them the trees bent nearly in half as the wind pushed on the branches. Sand and debris blew by with every gust. Sheila struggled to keep her hair from whipping her face, using her hat to hold it down.

The man’s white hair lay still on his head. His dark clothing hung loose on his scrawny body, yet unaffected by the wind. Sheila noticed her daughter’s hair flowing with the breeze, yet this character seemed frozen in time. His face showed no emotion as Sheila watched him. He just stood there, watching her daughter play. He never approached her, just watched.

Sheila felt a sense of unease watching this man stare at her only child. She stood up, ready to tell him to buzz off. She sat back down. She tried again, but her legs refused to obey. She cupped her hands around her mouth, ready to scold the stranger. No words came. She tried again, but her throat refused to release her protest. Sheila sat on the bench and just watched him. He never moved. He watched her daughter like a statue, towering over the sandbox.

Sheila directed her attention to her daughter. Jennifer sat in the box, filling her bucket with sand and turning it over. She appeared to be building a castle, which she loved to do. Sheila smiled at her daughter as she played. Jennifer didn’t seem to notice the motionless visitor beside her.



“It’s time to go home, honey.”

“But mom-”

“Come on, let’s get going.”

Jennifer stood up and dusted herself off. She giggled as she proceeded to destroy her castle, stomping on it like a giant. She laughed and growled, kicking sand in all directions.

The man turned and looked at Sheila. Her stomach dropped and she could feel every hair on her body stand up. She could do nothing but stare back. He smiled at her as he turned back around to watch Jennifer. Sheila wanted to leave. She needed to get her daughter back home to safety.

“Jennifer, that’s enough. Let’s go!”

“Okay, okay.”

The girl stepped from the sandbox, her auburn hair blowing in the wind. Sheila watched as her daughter approached the man, heading straight for him.

Sheila stood up, trying to shout to her daughter. The words again refused to leave her throat. The man stood his ground, waiting for Jennifer to come to him.

Sheila gasped as her daughter ran through the man, as if he was vapor. Jennifer giggled as she approached her mother, her plastic bucket swinging from her hand. The man turned, watching as Jennifer ran into the street. He began walking toward her, his arms stretched out as if to embrace her.

Sheila didn’t see the truck coming. All of her attention was on the white haired man, pursuing her daughter. She had always been such a careful mother. She made Jennifer check both ways before crossing the street, and still had to hold Sheila’s hand. The truck collided with her only child, splashing her life on the concrete.


The man looked directly at Sheila, that same smile spread across his face. He had his arms open as he continued forward.

Sheila ran to the street and cradled her child’s broken body. She felt warm blood soaking into her clothing. Rocking back and forth, she stroked the blood soaked hair. She looked into Jennifer’s face, the sightless eyes staring into the distance. How did this happen? How could she let her daughter be hurt this way?

“It’s okay, mommy. It doesn’t hurt.”

Sheila looked up to see Jennifer holding hands with the man. She looked beautiful. Sheila reached out to her, but the man led her away. She still held the motionless body of her daughter in her arms.

“Jennifer! Come back to mommy!”

“I already called an ambulance,” came a voice to Sheila’s side.

“He’s taking my baby away from me!”

“Help is on the way, ma’am.”

Sheila watched as the man led her daughter past the park before disappearing into the woods around them. They looked back in Sheila’s direction just before fading away. Jennifer smiled and waved.

“It’s time to go home, honey,” Sheila said, bending down to kiss her daughter’s cold forehead.

"Time To Go Home"
Copyright: © 2009 Shane McKenzie

Taylor’s Candy Shop would be an empty box in seven days.

“Not enough kids like candy anymore, I suppose,” Grandpa Herman lamented to Brandon after his mother dropped him off for the weekend. His parents were on vacation to somewhere he failed to recall — or forgot in the presence of free candy. “I’ve got a week to pack up, kiddo.”

Grandpa’s eyes looked over Brandon and his little sister, Angie. “I have no idea what to do with all this candy. You can’t just throw it away. I guess someone’s going to have to eat it, but I don’t know who? I wish I could think...”

Angie raised her voice: “What about us? — we can eat it, please Grandpa!”

“Calm down, Angie,” Brandon scolded. “He’s going to let us eat candy, you don’t have to beg. He’s putting us on.”

Grandpa Herman’s cane thumped against the floor. “I have some paperwork to finish in my office, kids. Brandon, you let your sister have what she wants — anything at all, and don’t be mean about it. You kids are welcome to anything in the store, really. Help yourself. Everything.”

Angie wrinkled her face at Brandon. She wanted licorice snaps last weekend — they visited every Saturday morning — and he ate as many as he could before she had a turn. Brandon underestimated her ability to cry. Her fits were a police siren, and like a police siren, it brought Grandpa out from his office. This was the first time Grandpa gave them full reign over the aisles and shelves stocked with glass bowls of penny candy.

“Take what you want kids,” he added before he closed the door. Brandon noticed him frown. “We’re closing it down for good.”

Brandon sprinted to the chocolate aisle. He stuffed his hands into the toffee and caramel covered truffles. Angie almost knocked the bowl from its perch when she gathered a handful of Pixie-sticks. She tore through them to coat her tongue in green sugar. “Good job, Angie. Why don’t you break everything?”

Angie groveled, but she was too engrossed in her take to throw a fit. “Meanie.”

The store was darkened, and he had trouble reading the labels. Grandpa’s office light was the only source spaced out across the store in a thin shaft. He stuffed jawbreakers into his coat pockets, gum balls into his jeans, and M&M’s inside his gloves. Brandon’s stride was a rub of candy shells.

“You’re stealing! Mom and Dad said you couldn’t do that. I’m telling.”

Brandon was frantic to quiet his sister: “Grandpa doesn’t care. Didn’t you see the out of business sign outside? It’s all for us, Angie.” Brandon realized what he should’ve done from the beginning and gathered plastic bags from the dispensers at the end of the aisles. “I’ll stock up with these.”

Angie pouted as he continued, this time taking from the boxes of Snickers, Butterfinger, and Hershey Bars. His sister moved on following his example and filling up a bag with gummy bears, but only the red ones. Grandma would’ve scolded them if she were still alive, even spanked them in front of customers: “That costs money, shame on you, shame on both of you! Your Grandpa works hard, and so do I, and we don’t need thieves to run us out of business, especially little thieves like you.”

Children stole from Taylor’s Candy Shop on a regular basis, but Grandpa didn’t have the heart to call their parents or the police. Grandma stayed at home, and Grandpa operated the shop six hours out of each day. Taylor’s Candy Shop became notorious for an easy steal, and Brandon heard the kids at school talk about it. If someone was caught pilfering from the aisles, an apology was enough for Grandpa to forgive them, Brandon learned. “Kids aren’t criminals, they just haven’t learned the right way of things. I can set them straight, even if it takes time and mistakes.”

Brandon discovered the soda fountain at the back of the store. He dropped his bag of candy in the aisle and raced to it. “Mom doesn’t let us drink soda, says it’s addictive, and it’ll rot our teeth out.”

Angie cried out: “Can I have a drink? I can’t reach.”

Brandon watched Grandpa’s office, the door still closed. He poured her a Dr. Pepper and a Coke for himself. As he slurped the fizz, Brandon marched to the office and checked on Grandpa. He didn’t stay inside long, maybe ten minutes to sign order forms and balance the register. Brandon looked at the door and discovered a slip of paper sticking out of the crack. He squinted to read the letters in the shadows: You kids can have anything in the store. I love you both very much. The place is yours.

Something crunched under his shoe. It was crushed into a powder, and he noticed yellow discs spread out on the tiles, what looked to be a sweet tart, except smaller. They came from the bottom of the office door. Brandon put one into his mouth, took a bite, and gagged at the offensive taste. It wasn’t candy. He spat it out and washed his mouth of the bitter taste with soda.

“Grandpa,” he yelled, hitting the door. “What are you doing in there? Are we going to the pet store across the street?”

Angie stepped behind him. “What’s Grandpa doing?”

“I don’t know,” Brandon answered. “Hey, get on my shoulders and look inside.”

Before she agreed, he lifted her up.

“What do you see?”

“The blinds are shut, but they’re open a little bit.”

She was fidgeting and about to fall backwards. Billy insisted: “Look harder, what is he doing?”

“He’s on the floor,” she finally answered. “Maybe he’s taking a nap. He’s not moving. He must be sleeping.”

Brandon let her back down. He read over the note again. “Yeah, Grandpa’s just taking a nap. We can have all the candy we want, and we won’t get in trouble.”

You kids can have anything in the store, the note’s message repeated to Brandon.

Angie crunched on a mouthful of Necco Wafers.

Brandon eyed the Fun-Dip at the register.

"Kids in a Candy Store"
Copyright: © 2009 Spencer Wendleton
Spencer Wendleton's work has appeared in the magazines Children, Churches, and Daddies, Camp Horror, Thirteen, Midnight Times, Blank Ink Horror, thaneros.com, necrology.com, Morpheus Tales #3, The Monsters Next Door #6, House of Horror Issue #3, and Sex and Murder Issue #2. My first novel, "The Body Cartel," will be released by Damnation Books next September under the penname "Alan Spencer."