The park was silent, void of all its daytime glories. It almost seemed miserable, yearning for the intimate touch of lovers wrapped around the base of its oldest of trees. Its voice stripped of the innocent sounds of laughter, only to be replaced with the sound of crickets screaming out from the darkness. Each one of them begging for their song to be heard, but all of them romantics, too afraid to venture out into the night alone.

It was here that James found himself strolling on the edge of the shadows. The evening breeze swam through the autumn leaves at his feet. He moved slowly, head down, watching as one foot found its way in front of the other. The shadows at his side whispered the most horrific of secrets and promised the foulest of lies ever so sweetly into his ear. His response was a smile, because only here, in the dead of night, did he feel most alive.

He moved on alone, humming along to tune of the cricket masquerade. To himself, he could only wonder how people could fear the night like they do. Where others see emptiness, he sees salvation. He wears the darkness as a veil, covering his eyes from the world around him. Only in the daylight hours does he notice just how truly alone he really is. A world teeming with life, happiness and meaning only enrages the sadness that holds claim over his soul.

For twenty years he had wondered through this midnight Eden alone, although tonight a chill ran up his spine. Others may have taken this as a warning but he was just happy to be feeling anything at all. Suddenly, he was no longer in control of his own feet. The voices, secrets, and lies coming from the surrounding shadows seemed to be guiding him now.

He stopped, only momentarily, to light a cigarette when it caught his eye. The moon, seeing the horrors ahead, took refuge behind a passing cloud. The crickets and shadows fell silent to watch. James wasn’t alone.

Feet frozen to the ground, he tried to focus in on the silhouette floating ahead of him. Instead of walking away, he moved in closer. With each step, the air grew colder. The trees that lined the edge of the path felt like they were closing in on him, pushing him forward. Slowly, the silhouette began to come into focus.

His eyes fell onto the two pale, but beautifully shaped, legs suspended 3 feet off the ground. He moved up to her hourglass figure which was wrapped in a deep blue silk gown. The icy breeze swam through her gown causing it to ripple like the waves on an open sea. A sea that his eyes could stay adrift on forever. Yet despite his struggle against the current, his eyes moved upward. What breath he may have had was suddenly ripped way. Never before had he seen a face so beautiful; a beauty not even the deepest of darkness could hide.

Forsaken by the clouds, the moon was forced back into the night sky. The shadows fled back deeper into the darkness, revealing the horror that sat before him. Tears twenty years overdue found their way back to his face at the site of a rope wrapped tightly around her neck. With trembling hands he moved his cigarette back to his mouth. A single tear fell from his nose onto his hand. He quickly recoiled, as if it had been acid that touched his flesh. Confused by the sudden outburst of emotion, he retreated a few steps back. His beautiful Eden had now abandoned him.

The tree in which she swung tore up from the ground stretching, like a hand from hell, high into the night sky. It sat barren, naked, and alone. This skeleton hand tugged on the rope, causing the nameless beauty to dance like a puppet on a string with each passing breeze.

James fell to his knees as hundreds of questions ripped through his mind. Why would someone so beautiful take her own life? What horrors tormented her to such an end? Why was he crying? Why did he care? Question after question, he knew none could be answered.

After an episode of vomiting he managed to push himself back to his feet. Disgust was the first feeling he had, once the shock wore off. He had suffered with unspeakable pains for twenty years and yet still managed to find a way to get out of bed each morning. It hadn’t been easy. Every morning, when he opened his eyes, he was reminded just how alone he truly was. But honestly, was he much better then this swinging beauty? Was his drug abuse a better way to cope? That was a secret he had kept from many.

Slowly, his disgust moved to envy. She could have killed herself hidden away from the public eye, but instead she was here for everyone to see. He had spent his time hiding in the night’s shadows where he couldn’t be seen. Soon the sun will rise and the happiness of the world will be forced to bare witness to her. The image of her sadness will be burned into their memories forever. Tears began to fill his eyes again.

He imagined what the daylight would bring. All those faces and all those eyes pointed at her. The thoughts of the ridicule it would bring were almost too unbearable. It was in that moment he longed to be with her, to tell her that he understood. She was too young to be so alone. His body began to shake and the tears were now uncontrollable.

Again, the breeze cut deep into his ageing bones. He looked back up at her face and thought that she must be cold. Removing his jacket, he knew what he must do. He moved the bucket, which was lying on its side at the base of the tree, over so he could reach her. Steadying himself, he tied one sleeve to the same branch she swung from. After taking a moment to take in his old garden of Eden, he tied the other end tightly around his own neck. A smile crossed his face again as the beauty of his Eden returned to him. He took one last look at the angel swinging at his side. She won’t be alone anymore. And as the jacket pulled tight, the crickets began to sing.

"Midnight Stroll"
Copyright: © 2009 Joshua Day
Joshua Day is a writer living in Kentucky. He has previously been published on Flashes in the Dark and in the TOE TAGS anthology. Please visit his blog at:

It was just a lake. Nothing more. Nothing less. The water was dark but that was because it was a lake. Just across the water there was a large group of trees, some standing tall and alive, others hunched over preparing for death. A few already had succumbed to the water. Some were twisted and contorted and leaning into the next tree. It looked scary but that was because it was a lake.

That's what Janie kept telling herself as she touched the water with her toes. It was cold and dirty. But that's because it was -

"Come on! Run in!"

Janie turned and didn't see a thing. She thought the voice was inside her head. She scanned the entire area that surrounded her. There wasn't a single person around. Her boyfriend had just left for a minute to go pick up another one of their friends. Janie hoped that by the time he came back she could get rid of her fear of lakes. She didn't want to look silly in front of her friends and especially her boyfriend.

The first step was cold. The second was colder. By the time the water touched Janie's knees, she had her arms crossed, shivering. Up to her waist now. She could feel the rocky bottom of the lake on her feet. She felt tiny pebbles go in between her toes.

Up to her chest, the water finally seemed to warm up. It felt almost refreshing, just as long as Janie didn't look down and see that murky water she was submerged in.

Janie started to swim around a little bit. She smiled. She had made into the lake. No problems. No worries. She wished that her boyfriend would drive back right about now and see her in the lake alone. It would make her look so cool in front of him.

"Better get out now!" the same voice yelled.

Janie searched again and found nobody near. She thought then that maybe being in the lake alone wasn't a great idea. Something could happen. Janie lowered her legs but couldn't feel the ground. She lowered her body until the water almost touched her lips. Still no ground. She started to swim slowly towards the shore. Stopping every couple seconds, Janie tried to get her footing but there wasn't any. It was like the rocky ground had disappeared.

A large crack echoed through the whole lake. Janie turned and saw that one of the large branches on what looked like a healthy tree had broken off and splashed into the water. Small ripples pushed through the water.

She turned and started paddling her legs and arms. Then something touched her foot. She stopped. Her heart was jumping in her chest. She kicked her legs. Nothing.

She swam faster only this time using just her arms.

She felt something again touch her foot.

Just debris, she thought. Lake junk - like a lily pad or some leaves. That's it. It's because it's a lake. Lakes have that kind of stuff.

She felt something touch her again. This time it was around her foot and coming up her leg.

Janie had to tell herself it was nothing as she tried to swim faster to the shore. Something was moving up her leg.

Just a really big lily pad, she thought. That's it. It's because it's a lake.

She then heard the water ripple behind her.

Janie turned and saw the tips of fingers slowly rise out of the water. The fingers became a hand. A water logged, green looking hand. It was reaching towards her.

She then realized that it was another hand that was holding her leg. Before she could scream, the hand on her leg pulled her under and the hand that had surfaced was wrapped around her neck.

As tiny bubbles were coming out Janie's mouth, she tried to see what had her. She couldn't because the water was so dark and murky.

Because it was a lake.

Her underwater screams couldn't be heard, even by her boyfriend as he pulled back up. All he saw was her body floating on the surface. He stood on the shore yelling Janie's name, hoping it was a joke.

"Save her!" a voice cried out.

Janie's boyfriend turned and saw that his friend was on the phone, hopefully with police. He wasn't sure who yelled that, but he headed the advice.

"Hurry" the same voice cried.

With his shoes off, Janie's boyfriend stepped into the cold water.

"The Lake"
Copyright: © 2009 Jim Wisneski
Visit Jim's writers blog at - visit his personal blog at - and visit his podcasting blog to hear some of his storie, novellas, and novels at Jim writes short stories, novellas, novels, and poetry. When he isn't writing, he is thinking about writing.

Henry sat in the lobby awaiting his appointment with Bell, Booker, and Kandel. A young-looking attorney suddenly scurried out the door, his pale face etched in absolute terror.

“What happened to him?” Henry asked the receptionist.

She shrugged. “They fired him.”


“Because we, I mean the firm, will ALWAYS win in the end. They won’t tolerate anyone losing a case.”

The prestigious criminal law firm had a reputation for seldom losing a case. Henry ignored the admonitions of other firms that they had done so only because they’d made a pact with the devil. But, Bell, Booker, and Kandel were winners, and Henry was determined to work for winners.

She led Henry to an ornate conference room, where several partners sat around a massive conference table, awaiting him. They grilled him for hours, covering subjects from his childhood fears to his sex life. No need to discuss his legal expertise, they said. They knew all about him.

Three days later, Henry was hired and a welcoming reception was held in his honor. As he headed toward the bar that evening, Henry felt a slap on the shoulder.

“You must be Henry.”

“Yes, sir.” Henry replied, turning toward the voice with his hand extended. “And, you are?”

The man ignored Henry’s hand. “Gordon Alchemy, senior partner. Welcome aboard.”

“Thank you , sir.”

“I wasn’t at your interview, though I know all about you. Listen, I’d like a word with you, in private.”

“Absolutely sir.”

Henry followed Gordon to the firm’s legal library.

“Do I frighten you?” He asked, curling his lips in a sinister smile. “I’ve found most new hires are terrified of me.”

“Should I be?” Henry said, not wanting to sound as intimidated as he felt.

“It depends on how committed you are to winning.”

Henry’s intestines twisted tightly, and his smile disappeared.

“I’m very committed, sir.”

The library floor seemed to suddenly descend, but Gordon ignored it. “That’s an interview 101 answer. Let me ask again, how committed are you to winning?

“I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to win, sir.”

“Yes, whatever it takes. I trust you did your homework about the firm?”

“Most certainly; the firm’s success rate is nearly flawless.”

“Correct. We almost always win! Like a good shepherd, we keep a close eye on our flock. If an attorney loses his edge, we take immediate steps to rectify the situation.”

“I understand that, sir.”

“Don’t interrupt me,” he continued, “We’re highly specialized, and judges like us for our expediency in helping rid the city of crime.”

“But, how is consistently getting accused criminals off the hook stopping crime?”

“Because we ensure they never commit another one.”

The library floor jerked to a stop, and they stepped out the door into a dark, icy room that smelled of decay. Meat hooks wound their way along the ceiling on a conveyer chain leading to a steel freezer against the wall.

“What’s all this?” Henry asked.

Gordon slid open the freezer door. Frozen, gutted corpses hung on hooks. Henry, fought the urge to vomit, and wondered what the hell he’d gotten himself into.

“This is where we put the scum of the city on ice until they can be disposed of properly.”

After returning to the library, Gordon put his hand on Henry’s shoulder, and looked him in the eye. Henry winced as his fingernails dug through his suitcoat into the skin.

“Should you ever betray the firm or lose a case, let’s just say you’ll be put on ice as well.”

“I’ll do my best sir,” he said, trembling.

In the following months however, Henry developed a reputation as a hardnosed defender. Then, one day, a client accused of several grisly murders was found guilty of lesser charges, and sentenced to three years. With good behavior, the scum would be out on the streets within eighteen months.

Gordon sat in the rear of the courtroom, glaring at Henry contemptuously. As soon as court adjourned, he ran like hell to his car, and sped home. During the drive however, Henry heard the constant shriek of a banshee, and constant scratching on the car’s roof.

Once home, He locked the doors and windows, and crouched in a darkened corner with a loaded shotgun. The Banshee circled the house looking for an entrance. Then, Henry inhaled the stench of death, and realized he’d left the fireplace flue open.

He turned and the firm’s receptionist, who’d transformed into a banshee, pressed her rotting, snarling face up close to Henry’s. Her diaphanous, silk gown flowed behind her as she hovered before him. As she ripped into his flesh with her jagged teeth, and disemboweled him, Henry’s final thought was that she’d been right; the firm always won.

"The Winner"
Copyright: © 2009 Hal Kempka
Harold ‘Hal’ Kempka is a former Marine, and Vietnam Veteran. His poetry has appeared in Leatherneck Magazine, and short stories published in Many Midnights, Black Petals, Dark and Dreary, Microhorror, Long Story Short, The Shine Journal, and the Fiction Flyer, among others. He is a member of the FlashXer flash fiction workshop, and lives in Southern California with his wife, Celeste, and son Derek.

I’ve decided to stop using a knife to end an argument.

First of all, it’s in poor taste, and I’m a changed woman. I believe it was King Solomon himself who suggested cutting a baby in half when confronted by two women suing for custody of the child. Ultimately the real mother was willing to give up maternal rights in order for her baby to live. I admit I wanted to experience the feeling of so great a sacrifice; to cut loose of my own ungrateful children.

But that damn dog! He had me running all over town. He pretended to be dead, and then he mocked me with his squealing, heathen laughter. Everyone thinks I went to the cupboard to fix him a sandwich or something, but it’s simply where I kept the old coffee can with about seventy-five dollars in cash. I spent it all on a coffin too. Well, all of it except for the quarters I used at the alehouse. All that shopping made me terribly thirsty.

And my kids; there’s no mention of them. I am a mother after all, and by the way, thirty-nine isn’t very old. Try telling that to your husband’s nineteen year-old secretary. She’s the real bitch in this tale.

My therapist has advised me to avoid flourishing my stories with absurd fanfare, but I bet he’s never seen a goat riding on the back of a Golden Retriever.

Honestly, after the alehouse, I spent maybe another ten dollars on wine, not including the tip. I was feeling pretty good when I stepped out of the dark tavern. The idea to murder my husband and his lover was an act of madness perpetuated by random happenstance and years of emotional abuse.

I only stopped in on the barber shop to purchase a wig when my eyes paused upon the straight razor resting on the worn leather chair. That’s when I thought, it’s such a perfect way to end a rather stressful afternoon.

Premeditation is too harsh a word. Suffice to say, that stupid dog ate his meat rare that day.

I offer no defense as for the current whereabouts of the children. Let the record show that they are not of my own biological birthing, although I did experience an uncharacteristic love for them. I am unfortunately barren, and they were my husband’s children from a previous marriage. Over the years my husband felt it necessary to present me with pets as substitute babies. I would advise you not to go digging around for answers in the moors behind our home.

As for the question presented, the dog was barking rather loudly for hours. The neighbors reported the noise violation to the local authorities, which subsequently, led to my ill-fated arrest. I did eventually get that filthy cur to cease his incessant whining.

And yes, I do find it most peculiar that no one has ever thought to ask me where I got the bone that shut him up once and for all.

"Old Mother Hubbard Goes
Before the Parole Board"
Copyright: © 2009 Angel Zapata
Angel Zapata was born in NYC, but currently resides just outside of Augusta, Georgia. His flash fiction and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming on Morpheus Tales, Flashes in the Dark, The New Flesh, Twisted Tongue, The Absent Willow Review, House of Horror, and Flashshot. He is husband to his blond goddess and father of four boys obsessed with all things ninja. Visit his blog:

Josh Benton loved speeding down Turtle Pond Parkway at three in the morning. He had the convertible top down and drove with one hand on the wheel and the other curled around the handle of a baseball bat. He stared down the road where his headlights pushed back the dark.

He was looking for Zoombies.

Nobody was really sure where they’d come from, these creatures who jerked people out of their cars. They ran around oozing brown puss from every opening in their bodies. They were lanky and smelled like horse droppings.

Usually you thought of your average zombie as slow and slobbering. But not these babies. They came in gangs and ran up to your car as you slowed for a turn. They ripped open the door and pulled you out. Or they peeled your roof and reached inside. They threw you onto the road and started biting until you passed out. When you woke up, Presto! You’re a Zoombie too.

Josh tightened his grip on the bat. He saw some kind of white smudge moving down the road ahead of his lights. He sped up.

Everyone figured that Armageddon would bring mushroom clouds and nuclear winter. No one imagined a weapon that toppled buildings but left cars and roads intact. No one was prepared for that kind of attack, or the armies of flesh-hungry ghouls roaming the streets in the aftermath. Some hunted them down like the animals they were. Others, too broken by the attack, let the Zoombies take them.

It was all about the oil companies, Veronica told him. Disaster was good for business. It drove up gas prices. That’s the only reason there was any gas left, she said. Somewhere, someone was making a killing.

Josh grimaced. Make love to a chick once and she wants to explain the whole world to you. Whoever was making a killing, he thought, it wasn’t him.

Josh hugged the curves and let the engine’s torque pull him along. He was trying to keep up with whatever was moving beyond him down the road.

Veronica had a lot to say about a lot of things. First it was solving the problems of the world. Then it was her family and how her mother was driving her crazy. She eventually got around to Josh. She never tired of that subject. It exhausted him, all her constructive criticism about how he should do this or do that, how he needed to open up to her, how she wasn’t trying to tell him what to do. She never shut up.

Josh slowed the car. The white mist beyond his headlights grew brighter, moving back toward him. It broke into the glow of his high beams in a lanky, stinking mass of churning arms and legs.

Zoombies. He hit the brakes and fishtailed the car so he was facing the way he came. He popped the trunk and hopped out, bat in hand, scampering around to the rear. He put down the bat and reached into the trunk and hoisted hog-tied Veronica out. He dropped her to the ground and put a knee to her back and pulled on the knot at her wrist. Her legs fell back and her arms came free. He pulled the handkerchief gag off her head and stood back, picking up the bat. She sputtered into action, scrambling to her feet and taking a swing at him.

“You crazy…” she said, missing badly. He swung the bat and hit her on the knee and she gasped and crumpled to the asphalt.

Josh vaulted over her and into the car. The Zoombies were close, very close. He could taste the sour stink of horse manure. He slammed the car into drive and stomped on the accelerator. A hand grabbed at his neck and he swung the bat blindly. Turning, he saw Veronica, bleeding, tumbling off the car like a drunken gymnast, landing with her legs splayed, bouncing on the road once, twice.

Then they were on her, a swarming white mass engulfing her like a collective blob. In the rearview Josh saw her eyes, wide and accusing, and her mouth open in a silent scream. Then she was gone. Josh sped on, driving back to the dilapidated shelter he used as a home. He checked himself over for scratches and bites. Nothing. He double-checked the door and windows, then climbed into bed and fell quickly into a deep, untroubled sleep.

A month later, Josh Benton was driving down Turtle Pond Parkway again. Life had taken a predictable turn since the night Veronica disappeared. He’d met a new girl. She would be good for him, she said. Everybody needed somebody. Besides, she teased him, he was such a sad sack. He must have a lot of sad stories to tell. She would coax them out of him. She would get him to open up.

Josh Benton loved driving down Turtle Pond Parkway in the early morning. Something about the moonlight made all things seem possible. He drove with one hand on the wheel and tried tuning in a station with his free hand. Nothing, of course. There hadn’t been anything since the attack. Josh chuckled. She was a real winner, all right, this new girl. If anyone could straighten him out, it’d be her. Or so she said.

A dull thump came from the rear tire well. Could be the road, Josh thought. But then a series of thumps erupted, each louder than the next. Josh grabbed the baseball bat on the seat beside him.

Soon, he thought, soon he would open up the trunk. For now he was content to zoom along, staring down the dark road for the first sign of the white smudge that would be his deliverance.

Copyright: © 2009 Robert Meade
Robert Meade is a transplanted Bostonian now firmly rooted 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 aHealthier 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.

Gerald pushes glasses up his long nose. It makes him look distinguished. Bushy uni-brows complete the look. So what if he is bald? Isn't bald sexy these days anyway? He'd read it on the cover of Red Book magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store the other day. It is respectable at the very least.

Respect. Where is the respect these days? The grocer had handed him the little piece of paper with DECLINED written on it when he tried to buy a loaf of bread, bologna, and a quart of milk. Just cause a guy is down on luck and a couple bucks doesn’t grant the grocer the right to snicker and exchange Ain’t this guy a loser look with the next person in line. Yes, he’d almost squeezed the trigger.

He keeps the nice little pistol in his pocket, just in case. Never know when one might need a gun. It is the answer to all his problems. It is.

Your boss fires you? Bam you shoot him.

Your banker says your money's flushed down the john? Bam you shoot him.

The grocer refuses your credit card? Bam you shoot him.

Gerald had never so much as flashed his gun at anyone before. But he thought about it. He daydreamed about it. No one truly understood who he was, what he could do, including the hooker he picked up and brought home this evening. She demanded her money before the service. I mean, come on now, Gerald had read up on what’s hot and what’s not. Bald is sexy, remember? he’d asked Blondie Hooker as he kicked her stomach over and over again. Distinguished glasses are sexy, right? Another kick to the ribs. Gerald knew Blondie Hooker had read all this in Red Book magazine. That’s what those kind of girls do. They knew all about sexy. If you’re sexy you get it for free. Remember? He’d asked her, you give it for free.

Before Blondie Hooker passed out she’d screamed too much. Police were called. Now. Tonight. He’d get what was due him. Respect. Respect is what he wants. You can’t buy that with a twenty, but Blondie Hooker could have offered it with a free blowjob. Aretha. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. She knew how to get respect and it is damn well time he got his slice of the cake. Gerald doesn't care the price.

The police bang on the door asking him to open up. Gerald giggles, pushes his glasses up again, and gives a thumbs up to waking Blondie Hooker. She is duct-taped to the folding chair. Pointing at her blonde head is the barrel of a rifle. The trigger is rigged to twine rigged to the door. The second police ram through – Bam! That’ll be last the time someone says no to him.

Blondie Hooker struggles and makes muffled noises. Gerald isn’t sure, but she sounds like she is throwing up. A piece of gray tape seals her mouth, a dribble of orange creeps from the corner. Serves her right for turning him down. What is the world coming to? You bring a hooker home – you expect some action.

“Right?” he asks puking Blondie hooker. He watches her bruised adam’s apple rise and fall. He knew what she was swallowing. It made for a good enough answer.

He cocks his pistol. “Right.”

“Open up. Police!” Another hard knock on the door.

Gerald crouches behind the piano. Waiting.

The knocking stops. Silence.

He’s waiting for the door to break in. The twine pulls the trigger, puking Blondie Hooker is dead –he’ll get his respect when the police realize what they’ve done. They’ve done mind you. They’ve killed an innocent victim. Oh, the irony. Who will be the respectable authority now?

R-e-s-p-e-c-t, Aretha Franklin knew what she was talking about. The song plays over and over in his head. He wished he hadn’t smashed the radio in the other night when it wouldn’t stop playing Ghost Riders In The Sky. He hated that song. There are no Ghost riders in the sky or anywhere else. Everyone knows that. Even the stupid hooker.

He waits. The silence carries on longer than it should. Blondie Hooker keeps making muffled noises, which makes it hard to hear their footsteps.

Gerald stands and points the pistol at her head. “Shut up. Just shut up. You’ll ruin everything.” More orange leaks from under the tape, only it’s looking reddish now, like blood. He squints to get a better look.

Something smashes through the window. A slight pop - hiss. Gerald’s eyes begin to sting. Loud shouts. He can’t breathe. It stings. He points the pistol everywhere, first at her, then at them, then at her.

“Police. Drop the weapon.”

How’d they do that? How’d they get in? It isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair. “All I want is some respect! That’s all I want.”

“Drop the weapon.”

Gerald opens his eyes against the sting. Points at Blondie Hooker. Shoots.

Pain erupts in his leg. Police shout. Another pain in chest. Gerald falls to the floor, but not before opening his eyes and looking at Blondie Hooker. Red dribbles from her slouching cheek, down the length of her arm, down her fingertips to the hardwood floor.

There. Now. Finally. R-e-s-p-e-

One last bang interrupts Aretha’s song.

Copyright: © 2009 Jodi MacArthur
Jodi MacArthur serves imagination raw on an open flame. Her work is influenced by all things Grimm and carnival. To learn more, please visit her website at:

Thunder and lightning storms are rare on Oahu; the temperature seldom varies enough, or quickly enough, to create the conditions that produce them. When they do occasionally occur they tend to be prodigious. Those visiting for only a few days often fail to recognize the special nature of such storms. They're too concerned to make every moment of sun, sand and surf count… and who can blame them? A thunder storm is disruptive, intrusive, an annoyance. And, “hey,” they complain, “we get weather like this at home – we came to Hawaii for the sun.”

Those who have lived in the islands for even a short while, on the other hand, tend to revel in the sudden downpour and the loud crack of thunder that reverberates as it rides the trades. Most to be savored, however, is the jagged bolt of lightning that re-illuminates however briefly the usually azure skies that have gone unaccustomedly black.

Late in the afternoon during one such storm – and sensing something portentous in the unusual weather – I decided to go for a walk. Living alone and having no real attachments to speak of, I could engage in such absurd behavior. The streets of Waikiki were awash with water and, uncharacteristically, empty of pedestrians. The Ala Wai Canal off to my right was lost in a wall of rain. The palm trees that grew along the sidewalks shook like mad dogs shedding water after a swim. The normally dry rustle of their fronds had been replaced by the sound of a swarm of hungry locusts. I turned to the left. Up ahead I could just make out the wane lights from the upper floors of the hotels and condos along Kuhio and, just beyond that, Kalakaua Avenue. The entire scene reminded me of something from the palate of a Dadaist or Surrealist painter.

Needless to say, I was soaking wet before I had taken three steps. I wandered for fifteen minutes with no purpose or destination. Up one and down another I traced and retraced the mandala-like network of streets that ran between Ala Wai Boulevard to the north and Kuhio Avenue to the south. The thunder continued to roll overhead and in the flash from one particularly spectacular jolt of lightning I understood what I needed to do.

One after another I began entering the foyers of the apartment buildings and condos that were found in such profusion here. I'd stand, puddles of water forming at my feet, and press a button selected at random from the bank of intercoms that could usually be found in such establishments. Not too long ago, in many of these same buildings, you could gain admittance only from a doorman. I wondered what I might have done back then.

Karen, is that you?” I'd say into the little grill above the occupant’s last name.

No one named ‘Karen’ here, Brah. You must have the wrong apartment,” was the usual response. “Mahalo.”

Sometimes the reaction was far less polite. “Take a hike, asshole. I don't know anybody named ‘Karen’. You'll have to do better than that!” So much for Polynesian hospitality; the weather, obviously, was taking a toll on everyone’s nerves.

Ten minutes or so later, I slogged my way up the white coral walkway and entered an elegant little place on Kanekapolei with wind-whipped royal palms in front and a porte cochère that must have dated from the sixties. I jabbed a button with urgency and intent.

Aloha, Karen, are you home?

Yes,” a disembodied voice answered with a tinny, distorted electronic accent. “Who’s there?

It’s me, Steve…

‘Steve’… I don't know anyone named ‘Steve’.

That’s OK,” I replied. “I don't know anyone named ‘Karen’, either, but I’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

A drop of water from my hair beaded and rolled down my forehead onto the bridge of my nose where it followed the contour of my cheek before she answered.

I guess I've been looking for you, too. Come on up. I'm in Number 225.

I heard the metallic ‘click’ of a bolt being withdrawn electronically. Before I entered I looked outside. The rain had stopped and the sky had begun to clear. The lingering scent of ozone was strong as too were the rain washed fragrances of ginger and plumeria. People were out and about again. The streets sparkled as all manner of debris was being washed inexorably into the storm drains where, eventually, it merged with the warm, life-giving waters of the Pacific.

"In Search Of"
Copyright: © 2009 James C. Clar
James C. Clar's work has been published in print as well as on the Internet. Most recently his short fiction has found a home in the Taj Mahal Review, Shine: A Journal of Flash, Bewildering Stories, Apollo's Lyre, Flashshot, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Everyday Fiction, Golden Visions Magazine, The Magazine of Crime and Suspense, Antipodean Sci-Fi, 365 Tomorrows and Static Movement. His story "Starbuck" was voted story-of-the-year by the editors of Long Story, Short for 2008.

Lance hated to hold hands in public. Yet, for some reason he was compelled to. His various girlfriends’ hands were always so dainty, so beautiful - that it was a crime not to hold them.

Invariably, he would be fine with holding their hands until he made it to Lakeview Park. He always felt so awkward there. There were so many gawking faces, so many people judging him.

One day he will build enough courage to tell them what for. But not today. Today, like all other days in the past, he’ll drop the hands into the nearest trashcan and run.

"The Man Who Held Hands"
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.

To date, he has published over forty-five stories since he began publishing in November 2008. He has been published by, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, The New Flesh Blogzine, Midnight Screaming Magazine, The Monsters Next Door, Sonar4 Ezine, Blood Moon Rising, Flashshot, Black Lantern Blogzine, Dark Fire Fiction, Burst Fiction, The Daily Tourniquet, Yellow Mama, The Lesser Flamingo, and The Short Humour Site.

He was co-editor the anthology “Toe Tags: 21 Spine-Tingling Tales from the Best New Authors of Horror” with William Pauley III.

A new video game has appeared on the market. It’s called ‘Just Say No’, its purpose is to teach young people to save themselves for marriage. The idea is to keep your virginity as you pass through a series of adventures, each level more challenging than the last. The first hurdles include a teenage crush, peer pressure, curiosity and such. If you stick to your guns and say no, you find yourself having to deal with pleading, arguments, persuasion, threats and seduction. Holding out when he gives you a diamond engagement ring poses an insurmountable problem for many players. At the highest levels, obstacles like barbiturates slipped into your soft drink and attempted rape stand in your way. One false step, give him just one inch or allow yourself to be overpowered, and you’re fucked.

If you come through them all intacta, your reward is a dream marriage. You see yourself in a white wedding gown. Your father escorts you down the aisle to where the perfect husband waits for you in front of the altar with a gold ring. The organist is playing the Wedding March from Lohengrin. Wedding bells peal.

I am told the game ends there. I have yet to make it that far; I don’t even get close. In that, at least, the game resembles real life.

“That’s all there is to it?” I asked. “No consummation?”


“They make you go through all that frustration, and what do you get for it? When I play, my only reason for not giving in is that I had sex with that one the last time I played, and I want to see who’s next in line.”

“So tell me, Lizzie, is the sex good?”

“You mean in the game? What sex? All you get is flashing lights saying you lost followed my an on-screen moral lecture. What a waste of time and money!”

“But the game is very popular. Kids say they can relate to it, that it’s exactly like what they go through every day.”

“That’s because they’re young, and the game ends when you get married. What do they know about marriage? Less than nothing. Happily ever after. No hostile in-laws, no screaming infants, no dwindling sex life, no infidelities, no ...”

“None of that should happen. You’ve won the perfect husband.”

“But how can you be sure that among all the men you’ve put off you’ve chosen the right one?”

“Because he’s a Christian.”

“What if it turns out he’s gay?”

“He won’t be. I told you: he’s a Christian.”

There’s no denying that ‘Just Say No’ is all the rage. It has proved a gold mine for the company that patented it. At the urging of an overwhelming majority of their State legislators, the game is now available on all public high school computers in Texas, Kansas and Florida, and a number of other states are expected to follow suit within the next few months. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of families who used to look on video games as the work of Satan have bought PlayStation consoles for their children. Of course the youngsters immediately go and purchase other games without their parents’ knowledge. The exact statistics have yet to be calculated, but there’s little doubt that the industry as a whole has benefitted immeasurably.

Not everyone is pleased with the game, however. Public health workers, school guidance counselors, Planned Parenthood and feminist organizations have attacked it as unrealistic (tell me about it!) and downright dangerous because it doesn’t deal with the consequences of having sex before you’re ready for it. The makers of the game say they’re working on it, and are even considering including a virtual abortion in ‘Just Say No II’. (Why would I want to terminate a virtual pregnancy? A virtual baby I can deal with.) To objections that they completely ignore safe sex practices and birth control, they reply that since the object of the game is not to have sex, such issues are irrelevant. According to them, the only safe sex is abstinence, which makes the heart grow fonder.

Some detractors point out that somewhere around eighty-five percent of kids who play the game are having real life sex already, and that for them the game is little more than an escapist mechanism to make them feel good about themselves. The makers of the game argue that it will convince that if they stop having sex it will make them feel better, to which the detractors reply, “All the more reason to make safe sex and birth control part of the game.”

So the arguments, counter-arguments and mutual accusations go on. They probably will indefinitely. The game has not been out long enough to determine if the teenage pregnancy rate has decreased, and professional ethicists unaffiliated with any religious group remind us that if it does, an argument built on the post hoc, propter hoc fallacy proves nothing. In the meantime I continue to play the game, getting a little further each time, while I wait for a rival company to come out with ‘Just Say Yes’ so I can find out how it feels to have a virtual orgasm.

"Virtual Virtue"
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.

When Allen’s phone rang and “Blocked Call” showed on his caller I.D., he almost didn’t pick up the call. Almost.

“Hello?” he said.

“I’m going to die,” a hushed voice whispered.

“I’m sorry, who is this?”

“I’m going to die,” the voice, which sounded male, said again.

“Is this a joke?” Allen asked, trying to rid himself of the chills that tingled his spine.


“Who is this?” The call confused Allen. He didn’t know whether to laugh or curse the caller out.

“I need someone to talk to.”

“What’s your name?” Allen shouted into the receiver.

“What’s it matter? I’ve never mattered to anyone.”

“What do you mean you’re going to die?”

“I’ve got a gun… and I’m going to use it.”

Allen choked back the lump in his throat. “How did you get this number?”

“I just dialed.”

“If you need help you should call the police.”

“They can’t help me.”

“I’m not sure that I can either. What do you want?”


“Reason?” Allan echoed.

“A reason to live,” the caller explained.

“I…I don’t even know you,” Allen spluttered.

“Does that mean I should pull the trigger?”

“No. Don’t. There must be something good in your life?”

“Like what?”

Allen threw his hands in the air. He paced. “Listen,” he said, “I’m not the right person to talk to about this -”

“I’m not calling the police,” the caller interjected.

“What about your family and friends? Your parents?” Allen stared at a framed picture of his wife and his son as he questioned the caller. His wife was having a girls’ night out. His son, Max, was looking at Internet porn or whatever it is that teenage boys do behind closed bedroom doors.

“They don’t want to be bothered.”

“I’m sure they’d talk to you.”

“I’m talking to you,” the caller said. “You’re the one I called.”

Allen dropped into his favorite armchair. “I’m really sorry, but I can’t help you. I’m gonna hang up now.”

“If you hang up I’m going to do it. I’m going to shoot myself.”

Allen ran his fingers through his hair. The caller made him want to pull out what little he had left. “I don’t understand. I don’t know what you expect me to do.”

“Just give me one good reason to stay.”

“How can I give you a reason if I don’t know anything about you?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Tell me why you want to die.”

“I’m so alone.”

“Where are you?”

“In a very cold and lonely place.”

“Maybe you just need to get out for a while.”

“I get out plenty.”

“How old are you?” Allen asked.

“Old enough to know that things won’t get better.”

“Well they can’t get any worse? What do you have to lose by living?”


“So put down the gun.”

“I may not have anything left to lose,” the caller explained, “but I’ve already lost the will to live.”

“So you’re saying that you’re going to pull the trigger no matter what I say?”

“Yes…unless you can give me one good reason.”

“If you could have anything in the world what would it be?”


“What would take for you to be happy?”

“Wasn’t it the Beatles that said ‘happiness is a warm gun’?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“I guess I agree with them.”

“You’re not making any sort of sense. You want me to stay on the line or else you’re going to kill yourself, but you say the one thing that will make you happy is killing yourself...”


“I don’t understand why you called.”

“I guess I just wanted to give you a chance to stop me.”

“You know what I think? I don’t think you’re looking for someone to stop you. I think you’re lonely and you haven’t had anyone to talk to in so long that you think you have to do something as extreme as threatening to commit suicide in order to get attention. Am I right?”

“Not even close.”

Allen kind of chuckled. “You’re not going to kill yourself.”

“Are you sure about that?”


“Then hang up.”

“How will I know if you go through with it or not?” Allen could almost hear the caller shrug. “You’ll never hear from me again.”

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Allen argued. “It just means that you couldn’t remember the number you dialed to get a hold of me in the first place.”

“There’s something called redial.”

“If I hang up, you’re not going to hit redial any more than you’re going to pull the trigger on the gun you probably don’t even have.”

In response, the caller cocked the gun. Allen heard it.

“Why do I feel like you’re daring me?” Allen asked.

“I suppose it’s the same reason I feel like you don’t care whether I live or die.”

“No offense, but why should I?”

“Some people care about the wellbeing of others.”

“Yeah, well I care about me,” Allen said.

“I know.”

Allen pried himself out of the armchair. He paced some more. “Listen,” he said, relenting, “I tried giving you my advice. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but if you’re not going to listen to me then there’s not much I can do for you.”

“Just try one more time,” the caller urged. “Give me one good reason to stick around.”

Allen took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He paused in front of the large picture window that looked out onto the still blackness outside. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I’m busy,” he lied. “I have to go. Good luck.”

Allen hung up the phone and stared at the nothingness of the silent night beyond his window, wondering if the caller still had a pulse. He half expected the phone to ring again at any second. But the phone didn’t ring. Instead, a gunshot rang out. It came from Max’s bedroom down the hall.

"One Good Reason"
Copyright: © 2009 Nick Medina

Nick Medina is a young author from Chicago, Illinois. To contact him with questions or comments, or to read more of his work, visit:

“Right, I’ll get our after dinner entertainment,” Liam announced, jumping up from the table.

“God, what’s he got planned,” Chris said.

Dan shot him a “look” but Chris ignored him. This evening was for George and he didn’t want Chris going off in one of his moods, his lover had been in entertaining form so far. The four of them (Dan, Chris, George and their host Liam) had enjoyed a meal in Liam’s comfortable home.

The evening had been Liam’s idea; he’d said they needed to do it for George. Dan had been so concerned about George. It was barely four weeks since Mickey, George’s lover, died.

Mickey had cancer, which had slowly eaten away at him. He’d lived through five years of treatments but all they did was make him weaker. When he died he’d looked like a wasted, old man, far older than his forty-five years.

Dan had watched Mickey’s illness take its toll on George. He’d seemed helpless in the face of Mickey’s decline, yet George took it all silently. He’d never discussed his emotions, keeping his feelings silent. Even when Mickey died, George had stayed quiet, barely shedding a tear at Mickey’s funeral, and they’d been lovers nearly twenty years.

It was Mickey’s death that had disturbed Dan. Mickey had been sleeping on the sofa, he’d been having a restless night, but the next morning George had found him dead. Dan had a shudder when he heard this; if he’d lost Chris like that he didn’t think he could have coped. George, though, had said nothing about it.

Liam came back, carrying an elaborate wooden board; which he set down in the middle of the dining table.

“Here it is!” He said.

Dan felt his stomach sink when he saw what it.

“It’s an Ouija Bored,” Chris said.

“Yes,” Liam said. “I thought we could have a go with it.”

“I don’t think so,” George said.

“Come on this will be interesting,” Liam said.

“Why?” Chris asked.

But Dan realised what Liam was up to and his stomach tied itself into a tight knot.

“So George can speak to Mickey,” Liam said.

“No,” George said.

“Come on, just give it ago,” Liam said.

“I don’t know,” George said.

“It’s harmless,” Liam said.

“Yeah, we used to do it when we were kids,” Chris said. “Nothing really happened.”

“Are you sure,” George said.

“Yeah,” Chris said.

“Okay, but no messing about and faking you’re the devil or someone else,” George said.

“No one would do that,” Liam said.

“Okay, then,” George said.

“Right, the lets go ahead,” Liam said.

Liam placed an upturn wineglass in the centre of the Ouija Board and the four of them placed their fingers on it.

They sat there for an awkward moment before Liam spoke: “Is anyone here?”


“This is stupid,” George said.

“Give it chance,” Liam said. “Answer us, if you can hear us,” Liam said, again to the wineglass.

The glass gave a shudder and slid across the board to the “Yes” symbol.

“Who is it?” Liam asked.

The glass slid across the board and stopped over to the M, then it slid to the I. In seconds it spelt out “Mickey”.

“This is a fucking joke,” George hissed.

“No it isn’t,” Liam said.

Dan glanced at Chris but he was staring at the glass.

“Is there’s someone you want to talk to?” Liam asked the glass.

The class quickly spelt out “George”. Dan could feel the glass moving under his finger, but it felt as if the class was moving all by itself.

“Do you want George to say goodbye?” Liam asked.
The glass shot across to the “No”.

“What you want to say?” Liam asked.

The glass now rushed round the Ouija Board, spelling out “why… did… you…” but it didn’t finish. George jumped up from the table and shouted: “This is crap!”

Then the room’s lights went out.

Dan jumped up as he heard Chris shout: “What’s happening?”

The next moment the room’s lights came back on. Dan looked around. Chris was still sat at the table but Liam was now stood over George and staring down at him.

The expression on Liam’s face, one that Dan had never seen before, was of pure anger. Liam’s expression reminded him of something.

“Liam, what’s going on?” Dan said.

“Liam? Is that little whore here?” Liam snapped his voice deep with a completely different accent, a voice that sounded like Mickey’s.

“Who are you?” Dan asked.

“Don’t you recognise your old mate?” that voice came from Liam’s mouth. Mickey’s voice. It was Mickey’s expression on Liam’s face.

“It’s me, Mickey,” he snarled.

Dan felt light-headed, this couldn’t be true, Liam couldn’t be possessed by Mickey spirit?

“You’re dead,” George said.

“Don’t you know it!” Liam/Mickey turned on him. “You only smothered me with a fucking pillow!”

“You had cancer, you were in pain, and I couldn’t cope!” George shouted back.

“I could have lived for months but you killed me. You suffocated me in my sleep because you’re so fucking weak!”

Liam/Mickey jumped forward, snatched hold of George’s head and began to repeatedly smacked George’s head against the table. Dan was too shocked to move.

“Stop them!” Chris shouted, snapping Dan out of it.

He rushed forward and grabbed hold of Liam/Mickey, pulling him off George. He struggled for a moment then he stopped, standing passively in Dan’s hold.

Chris took hold of George and lifted up his lifeless body but it was too late. George’s eyes were open but un-moving.

“He’s dead,” Chris said.

“Who’s dead?” Liam said, in his normal voice.

“Oh God, who’s going to believe this?” Dan replied as he let go of Liam.

"Saying Goodbye to Mickey"
Copyright: © 2009 Drew Payne

The boxer danced from side-to-side, bobbing and weaving as she jabbed at the shadow on the wall. Her success allowed her to have the most hi-tech gym equipment money could buy, yet she rarely used it; she found shadow boxing to be the best form of training, even more effective than a traditional sparring partner. She was good, and her record proved it. Her possessions also proved it. The six-bedroom house, the cars, the jewelry. She had it all. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to take it.

She was about to reach for her towel when a voice behind her said, “Don’t move.”

Against the stranger’s command, she turned around.

“I said don’t move, are you deaf?”

The man in the ski mask and black jacket was not tall, and not very big, but he had a gun. In his other hand was a pillow case full of her belongings.

“Where’s the loot?” the man said.

“I don’t have any,” the boxer told him.

The man scoffed. “Yeah, right. Rich broad like you? You probably got a safe around here somewhere loaded with cash, and I want it. Now!”

He thrust the gun towards her, but the boxer didn’t flinch. Instead, she smiled.

“You’ve made a big mistake,” she said.

“Yeah? Why’s that?”

“Because I’m not alone.”

The man watched as the boxer’s shadow grew larger behind her, so large it filled the eight-foot-high wall. Then it peeled itself off the bricks and stepped onto the floor.

“Jesus!” the man gasped as the shadow moved toward him.

He raised the gun and fired, but the faceless, featureless thing kept coming. He backed up against the opposite wall, and unloaded the clip, putting all six bullets into the gut of the monster’s body. He thought he heard it laugh as its long arms reached for him and grabbed him by the neck. The burglar dropped the gun and the bag, grabbed the pitch black wrists and tried to pry them off. But the thing was too strong, solid as the brick that spawned it.

It wrapped its fingers around his throat, and squeezed.

The boxer wiped the sweat from her face and flung the towel over her shoulder. She opened a bottle of water and took a drink as she watched her partner choke the last breaths of life from the intruder’s limp body. “Don’t wear yourself out,” she said. “We still have one more round of sparring left.”

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 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:

Phillip went about his duties with a fastidiousness appreciated by Carl, his boss. He changed oil, checked tires, lubed up chasses, added fluids and a host of other duties quickly and efficiently. When asked, Carl would happily say that Phil was one of his “best guys” and could always be relied upon to be at work, and to do his job.

But Carl could not see the dark fantasies unfolding in Phillip’s mind. Nor did he realize the inspiration driving Phil to greater perfection at work was provided by fantasies of harming his customers in the most gruesome manner. One day Phil would think about how neat it would be to leave out a couple of bolts on a large SUV. He would visualize the big thing losing an axle while going down the freeway. He would see the looks of horror on the passengers faces, hear the screeching of metal and tires, hear the booming crash as the careening vehicle crossed the median and smashed head-on into an oncoming 18-wheeler. A smile would creep onto his pale features, and he would brush his greasy hair out of his eyes and say to a nearby customer, "There you go, Sir. Have a wonderful day."

The customers would be delighted with his work, of course, and give him compliments. Once in awhile, a tip was offered, and politely refused. “Just doing my job. Thank you anyways.”

At the end of the day Carl would go home to his small apartment, and relax, get a bite of dinner. Then, he would engage in one of his favorite hobbies. Reading horror novels. Drawing pictures of people being cut up, tortured or murdered an every conceivable way. Sometimes he would masturbate while fantasizing how he would torture a lover, and murder them afterwards. Phillip lived a simple, if unconventional, life.

One week in particular was rather difficult on poor Phil. At the Shop, they had seemed to be more busy than usual. Every customer wanted their vehicle “ASAP.” Weird, niggling problems. Bad valves in newer cars, things they had to explain to irate customers they just were not equipped to repair at the simple Tire & Lube shop they worked at. And he had to listen to repeated “This place is a piece of crap! I might just report you to the BBB.” and the like. Towards the end of the long week, when Phil had completed a five-hour stretch without a break, one customer sent him over the edge, pushing him over that fine line between sanity and chaos.

“Hey you! Yeah, you moron, I’m talking to you. Walk your slow ass over here, willya?” The customer said, and then proceeded to chew Phil out. Phil couldn’t even get a word in, and finally just let the guy finish. His boss finally came over, barking “What’s going on here!” Phil just walked away. His mind had been set in a new direction, however. Carl, Phil and another employee talked over the situation later, at closing time. Phil played along like all was well. But inside, he plotted.

The next day was Friday. Morning, and the cars began coming in. A couple were left over from yesterday. Phil started on those. Loosen a bolt here. A tranny plug there. Just enough that they would get a distance away before disaster struck. Phil worked like a man possessed. Carl, not realizing what was going on, shrugged it off as him wanting to make amends for yesterday. Thinking, ‘It was not even the poor bastards fault, and look at him. Oh well, we will get more people through today, I guess.’

Around 4PM, the phone rang. Tom, the front desk service guy, picked it up. Phil heard a “Your tire came off? But sir, now wait. WE do guarantee… excuse me, sir…” That would be the car he worked on first thing in the morning. It was time for Phillip to leave. He picked up a large wrench from the toolbox in the back. Walked up to Carl, who was working on a vehicle, and brought down the wrench on his head with all his strength. Carl crumpled down, unconscious. A co-worker looked over, yelled “Hey? What are you doing?”

Phil walked swiftly over, and with the strength of an ox, hit the co-worker before he had a chance to react. His hands came up, deflecting the blow some. Phil hit him two more times on the forehead. He would not be a problem any more. Tom was still in the opposite room, behind some heavy glass, talking on the phone, writing notes. Unaware of what had just taken place. The calls were coming in heavy now. A drained transmission, drained oil, steering fluid. Phil slowly walked out the back door, and threw the wrench in the bushes. He calmly walked over to where his car was parked, and drove out of the parking lot. The first police car arrived soon afterwards.

Phil hummed to himself. That was fun. But he wanted to kill some people a different Italicway this evening. The world spread out before him gloriously as he drove back to his apartment. He was a happy man.

"Quotidian Furies"
Copyright: © 2009 Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson has been writing poetry and short fiction for several years now, and has been published in various small-press publications. He has a short story coming out in this winters edition of Tales of the Talisman periodical. He is also a member of the Iowa Poetry Association. He lives and writes in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

The Eskimo stares at his bleeding, hunted prey and wonders. He ponders, as he always does after a successful kill, if the animal was aware of its own destiny, or perhaps the seal just lived blindly through life, unaware of its own fate. He approaches the dead, bloated seal with care because of the blinding darkness around him. The yellow flashlight he carries isn’t strong enough for such a black morning.

He begins skinning the gray animal corpse with the knife his grandfather gave him when he was just a boy. He listens to the silent ocean sway; the white slabs of ice floating in its ancient seas. Even through the shadowed sky, he can see the mammoth pieces of icebergs floating along the black waters, looking like hovering ghosts, watching him as he does his work. A sorrow swells inside of him like an ocean tide as a gnawing hunger forces him to kill such a beautiful living thing in order to survive, but still thankful for its brave sacrifice.

It's then, when the darkness is at its highest peak, as if the land is in a tender sleep, that the sun begins to rise over the horizon like a beacon of the unfamiliar, growing in size and wonder in contrast to the retreating night sky. The Eskimo doesn’t understand. ‘Why is sun rising three months early?’ He asks himself. The searing, burning sun climbs against the stars like a hungry bear rising out of its sleep. The Eskimo begins to feel uneasy. His thick heart starts to pound. A feeling of terror sweeps through his body like tiny pinprick earthquakes trembling along the indented creases of his spine.

“The sun, it’s too hot!” The Eskimo shouts as he chides the land as a parent scolding a rebellious child. The Eskimo is right though, the bright, boiling light is too hot. He can see, with warming eyes, the snow and ice around him dissolving like a red carpet threading apart at the seams. All he can do is to be still and shiver from an aching fear at the disastrous reality that his ground, his home, in a few short minutes will be a wasteland of water. The Eskimo is frantic to understand and too panicked to realize that understanding doesn’t matter.

The ground begins to feel weak under his feet. The heat from the blazing sun burns his clothes into bleeding a white smoke like a pack of lit menthols on a cold day. In the distance, the Eskimo can see holes forming on the arctic floor the size of small houses and spreading wider as each sweltering moment passes. He tries to roll in the snow for shelter from the sun, only to find the snow is inexorably gone, leaving only ice breaching into hairline fractures like weak bones.

The Eskimo has only one choice. Rather than allow the ice to break under him, and send him beneath the remaining ice slabs like a drowning penguin, he jumps into the bitter waters and feels the fast moving freeze crawling its way into his old flesh, as if his body is breaking-up from the inside out. His thoughts grow jumbled and panicked. He tries to breathe, to think, but all he can do is feel the shattering pain across his body as his blood thickens and his fleshy tissue turns blue like the daylight sky above him.

The Eskimo knows that his final moments tweak upon him. He views, with dimming eyes, the exhaustive melting of his empty homeland and the destruction of the mighty Arctic Circle as the icebergs drip away into worthless memory. It’s then when his final thoughts dwell upon his beloved wife and three infant children that he descends into the warming waters and on down into the lonely, black depths as an anchor cut from its ship.

"The Blaze"
Copyright: © 2009 Michael Kane
Michael Kane has been immersing himself in the art of the gothic and the macabre for the better part of a decade and seeks to truly capture what it means to fashion this delicate craft onto paper. He has a short story entitled “The Island” set to be released on in Jan. 2010 and "Black Rising" being released in April 2010. There's also a short story called "Elevator Culture" coming out on in the Fall 2009.