They glared at each other across the dining room table.

"Come on, Esmeralda, don't be stupid. You're ruining what was a nice romantic dinner."

She slammed down her wine glass. "You're the one who's stupid, Jesse. I know you've been dating another woman. Didn't you think I'd figure it out?"

"Your imagination is working over time again. I keep telling you, you're the only one I've been seeing the last two months."

She threw her glass of wine in his face. "Don't lie to me. I can always smell her scent on your clothes."

He wiped his face with his napkin. "All right, that's it, I can't handle your insane jealousy over the smell of my musk cologne. I'm out of here."

She shook her fist at him. "I curse you, Jesse Maelstrom. Tonight, you're going to pay for what you've done to me."

He laughed. "You're one crazy chick." He slammed the front door behind him.

As Jesse started down the mountain road, a strong wind shook his car from side to side.

Thunder rumbled in the distance and a heavy rain began to fall. Suddenly, hundreds of leaves seemed to appear out of nowhere and covered his entire his windshield. Jesse turned on his windshield wipers, but they broke off.

The leaves seem to stick like glue against the wind and rain. He tried rolling down the windows but they didn't budge. He hit the brakes over and over but they didn't respond. He pulled on the emergency brake and it snapped off in his hand. He turned the key to turn off the ignition but it broke off. The steering wheel locked up as he tried to pull the car on to the muddy shoulder. He frantically pulled on his door handle, but couldn't open it. He screamed as the car swerved off the road, into the forest and crashed into a pine tree.

The cops found the car a couple of hours later. The driver's side had hit the tree first, killing Jesse on impact.

"He must've fallen asleep at the wheel." said Officer Thompson.

Officer Peters pointed at the car. "Maybe not. Look at the windshield. He couldn't see the forest for the leaves."
"A Wicked Ride"
Copyright: © 2010 Linda Garnett
Linda Garnett is currently editing her first novel, a science fiction adventure. Her work has appeared in, Flashes In The Dark and Static Movement. When she’s not writing flash, she profiles up and coming musicians at

New wallpaper can usually lead to an amazing turnaround regarding life. Another day to focus, to just get through it all, Clarita thought to herself, stomping around the dinner table in her enormous feet; half complaining about the decorative placemats that she was damn picky about using.

Her husband Todd waited about twenty minutes before she shifted them all again, her feet not appearing to touch the earth directly but instead balanced precariously upon the dual realm of obsession and duty. But today was solace day, where a reconciliation of opposites would come together in the universal act of redemption.

The Major Arcana cards he was shuffling had predicted it and Todd had already regarded
Clarita’s own needs and unique personality as detrimental. He didn’t want to be defensive about his choice; he didn’t want to rationalize it without owning up to its own personal
meaning, acceptance was important.

“Did I tell you that Mary Fisher copied my cross-stitch design? Her workmanship isn’t as good as mine and neither is the wool she uses…”

"I've put up new wallpaper in the bedroom. You'll like it, it's earth tones, good for grounding..."

“Don’t you have anything to say, Todd? A cup of tea with you isn’t exactly one of the richest intellectual treats, now is it?”

His eyes were open but he wasn’t focusing on anything. They never spoke directly that afternoon; instead he sat and listened to her slap around useless words together, he, not interested in hearing them. Todd was a man of few words and when he spoke, they had meaning.

Dinner was just about to be a repeat performance of teatime. Clarita felt the distance spreading between them, and though she could not pinpoint its source, she knew she had somehow disappointed him throughout the years. Like a mannequin, her fingers nimbly passing over the placemat, smoothing out the surface, she replayed the ritual.

“Sometimes people make mistakes you know, there are misunderstandings,” she says.

His eyes watch her face, a juxtaposition of moods.

“I love from my heart, and love isn’t about sex and sex isn’t about love. But if I know anything at all, I know that men love with their dicks. Are you still fucking her?”

Todd, "Jesus, Clarita, are you going to bring this up again? We've been over this time and time again. We haven't slept in the same room in 4 years. Why do you even give a damned about her? She meant nothing...absolutely nothing to me. This isn't about cross-stitching. This isn't about 3 years ago, after the party when I made a huge lapse in judgment. It is about you, and I, and how we no longer work together."

”She took my husband, and then she tried to take my cross-stitch. She went over the line, way over the line. She never should have done that. The nerve of her, coming here, to my home, violating my sanctuary, thinking this would be smoothed over, that it would all go away, that she would have her victory...again. No way, never going to happen.”

”Clarita, what are you saying? Mary was here? Today? She swore she would not violate our home, or you. I told her I was wrong, it was wrong, that it would never happen again, could never happen again.”

”Don't worry. She will never again violate the sanctity of my home. We had it out, once and for all. She tried to weasel her way out of here, but I got the point across and drove it home. She won't be walking in and out of my home again.”

”Clarita, I don't know what you have said, or done, but she should never have come here. She was wrong. Let me take my shower, get ready to go, we'll deal with her and any ramifications later.”

”You mean sooner, rather than later Todd, Clarita said with a gleam in her eye, smirking as she walked back towards the kitchen, a spring in her step.”

”What the fu!!!!!” Todd screamed, as he drew back the curtains on the shower, and saw Mary's lifeless corpse staring back at him from the one eye that didn't have a sewing needle protruding from it.

Aside from the other needle piercing her larynx, passing neatly through her jugular vein, she almost looked wide awake; surprised, a small trickle of blood in the corner of her mouth.

”Clarita, what have you done?”

”Why, Todd, a stitch in time saves nine...”

"Life's Table"
Copyright: © 2010 Theresa C. Newbill and Harris Whitman

Theresa C. Newbill is a is a self described free spirit and former elementary school teacher turned writer. Her work has been widely published in various print and online magazines and she has received numerous awards for her writing.

The black, gnarled limbs that twist inside me distort and corrupt my
body, they are all that’s left of my bones. My blood has turned to a putrid slush, soured by regret and withering me from the inside out. Such is the demon who festers within me and hungers for you.

From across the street, I see that, yet again you’ve changed your
appearance in an attempt to hide from me. The long blonde curls that bounced at your shoulder have been chopped and cropped and painted a harsh red. Your chameleon tricks may fool my eyes, but our hearts beat the same rhythm, and my feet will never fail to dance along behind you.

Following at a distance, a red haze starts to veil my eyes, making it hard to see. Relying on other senses in my relentless pursuit, I brush past people, knocking them aside, caring nothing for the angry shouts as they turn and curse. A sudden strong wind carries your scent to me, and lifting my face I take you deep inside. I can taste you. The flavour of a vivacious and passionate woman mixed with that heady, distinctive perfume you wear. The one you wore on our very first date all that time ago. It’s the way I’ll always know you, no matter how much you change.

Watching you disappear into your new home, in this new town, I want to scream, ‘why must you always run from me?’ Don’t you know there’s no place I won’t follow? But my bitter frustrations start to rouse the demon and I feel his claws rise up under my skin as he strains to get to you, razor sharp talons, like scalpels beneath the surface threatening to shred me and make ribbons of my flesh. I calm him with promises of you folded in our embrace. I’ll be back for you, soon.


As I drag your lifeless body from the bottom of the stairs. Your head lolls back like a broken doll and those emerald eyes that I loved so much are wide open and glassy; staring at me still full of fear. And like a knife to my heart, I realise you’ll never see me again.

Shards of mirror cover the floor as my bare feet bleed rubies across
the cheap and dirty linoleum. Your heavy body drags on the floor and scarlet ribbons follow. Why did you fight, didn’t you recognise me, the one who loved you so much for so long? Am I so hideous now that you couldn’t see my devotion and adoration?

It’s all your fault, you stupid bitch; you bought the demon out, you
and your whore behaviour. Tonight was the night I was going to bring you home, we were going to celebrate, drink wine, laugh. But no, instead, arriving in your home I find you with some man. You and him.

In your bed. Together. Flesh on flesh and the animalistic sounds of carnality. You disgust me.

Waiting for him to leave, even the demon is quiet, in anticipation.
He seeks to mark you now, such is his ire. Then we’ll claim you, make you ours forever.

Entering your room, the smell, your scent, the delicious aroma that’s
always called to me, calmed me; it’s mingled with the smell of sex,fresh and raw, and another tarnish of your precious image. The demon breaks free as the red veil returns and an all consuming fury swallows rationality.

Want. Mine. Want. Mine. Want. Mine.

A thousand thoughts in my head, and they all come back to the same

place. Take. Mark. Claim.

A step closer and you open your eyes wide. “It’s not dream my love, we are here.“ You open your mouth to scream. The demon’s reflex is quick, his cruel hands cover you mouth and squeeze your throat to stifle your cries.“Please don’t hurt her.” He weakens at my plea, but when you hit us and try to run, stupid.

A darkened hallway

A door slammed
A Kick
A scream
Eye’s burning, the strong smell of mint assaults my nose
Rapid footsteps
Screaming, so much screaming


The bath water turns dark pink around us; I hold you against me in the dark and warm. Death comes slowly, as the red slick, poisoned for so long, starts to leave my body. Here, finally is the peace that’s been missing for so long. You’re mine and we’ll never be apart again.

Copyright: © 2010 Lorraine Sears

Lorraine Sears is a married, mother of two in her mid-thirties. She’s always had a love of creative writing and enjoys combing life observations with her imagination to create her short fiction.

She’s also written a fantasy fiction novel, as yet unpublished and she writes a ‘Wellbeing’ magazine for her employer, which is deployed to the 30,000 strong staff population in the UK.

I wait anxiously for the bus to arrive, it’s late and the sun is going down. I don’t want to be out here after dark. Hell, I don’t want to be outside anywhere after dark. No one does, unless they’re plain crazy or bug-eyed stupid. It’s the way of life since anyone can remember. For some it’s too much. They walk from the Compound when the sun is highest and don’t return. Sure, you’d see them three nights later at the wall, calling for their loved ones, but it’s not really them. Not anymore.

It was the same for Mikhail. He hated being caged. He used to dream about flying. Said he would spread his arms like wings and fly across the dunes. I would ask what was on the other side and he would respond, ‘Palladium’. It made me cry.

The bus is coming and the sun warms my back while setting fire to the sky. If I close my eyes I can see Mikhail as he was on that last day: pale and thin, his bald scalp dry and flaky, his hands shaking as he lifts a cup to bloodless lips. The memories return unbidden and I’m powerless to resist, swept up in their pull, a hapless passenger, adrift on the ramblings of my mind.

It’s Zero Hour. The bell chimes and it’s safe. We go to mum’s marker to lay flowers and in the brilliant sunlight Mikhail says he wants to die.

“It won’t be an end if I walk past Dead Man’s Trail.” Mikhail leans in close as he speaks; his voice barely above a whisper. “I saw a maple tree there once, split near clean in half by lightning. I could stand in its shadow. I wouldn’t have to wait long before they came. Then I’d be safe.”

“You’d be dead.”

He gives a small smile and kneels down to the marker. The act sends a flash of pain across his pale features. He no longer tries to hide his discomfort. He traces the inscription in the weathered stone with a long thin finger, the nail cracked and broken. His eyes are clear and focused as he speaks. “I can’t end up like mum; blinking out of existence, gone as if I never was. I won’t choose that fate.” He stands with difficulty; a smile lingers. “If you’re honest, you don’t want that either.”

“Don’t leave me, Mikhail. You’re all I have left.”

“If I stay, it won’t be for long. There’s nothing they can do. Don’t deny me the dignity of choice,” he places a finger to my lips.

“There’ll come a time when you’ll need this as well.”

“Never,” I push his hand away, desperate to make him understand, but he no longer listens.

I try to argue, to cajole, even bully, but his mind is made up. In the end, I have no choice but to kiss him upon the cheek and let him go. Mikhail walks out to the hills without a backwards glance; he disappears into shadow and is gone. I am alone.

Three nights later the border patrol informs me Mikhail was seen digging in the pits of Harmony Hill. My brother has got his wish. Does the thing that wears Mikhail’s face understand that? Do the memories of the man he was remain? Or is he a savage beast: immortal, immoral and uncaring?

The bus is coming. I can hear its engine; feel the vibration through the soft earth. The number 46 glows pink neon in the half–light. Up close I see its dented steel plating, the barrels of machine guns though the roof, the faded cross of Christ painted upon its side. Red stains that might be blood mar its surface. It rolls to a stop, its engine a deep murmur and the doors creak open. A priest in armour regards me, his face lost behind a dark visor.

“A new life waits,” he states mechanically. “You’ll work the caverns, it won’t be easy, but if you survive, you’ll be rewarded.”
I look down the bus at its passengers: men mostly, young boys desperate to get away or old men escaping the inevitable. They seem alone, lost in their troubles.

“Are they all like that?”

He grunts as if he’s heard it all before. “Son, they’re breathing. Isn’t that enough?”

I look away to the horizon; the sun is now a small slice of brilliant orange. “I heard they dig on Harmony Hill. Together in groups. That they talk and it isn’t all bad.”

The priest sighs. “Nothing living on that Hill. Or rather, nothing that has a right to life anymore. You’d best forget it. It isn’t good to think about them.” He jabs a thumb over his shoulder. “Take a seat, there’s a long way to go. It’s near dark and we can expect trouble before it’s over.”

I hesitate and catch the glance of a passenger. His eyes are pools of unfettered horror, his face a dark smudge. I wonder what he’s running from. Is it the same as me? Would I always be running?
“No. I’ve changed my mind,” I step away from the bus, aware the machine guns rotate to fix upon me.

“You’ll never make the compound wall before nightfall. They’ll find you,” the priest explains with a weary tone, as if he’s said the same thing a hundred times before.

“I know.”

“Let him go,” the priest shakes his head, “he’s no good to anyone, he wouldn’t last a day in the caverns anyhow.” The doors slam shut and the bus rolls away into the dark.

It’s night now. I wonder if I’ll find Mikhail on Harmony Hill or whether they’ll find me and I’ll serve another purpose. A breeze stirs the sand and I hear laughter, high pitched and child like.
In the end I don’t have to wait long. Mikhail stands by my side, his cold hands in mine and I am no longer alone.

"Waiting on the Road to Palladium"
Copyright: © 2010 Neil John Buchanan
Neil is an occasional writer who has an unhealthy fascination with the undead. He lives with a sympathetic wife and two manic children and spends his weekends thinking up inventive ways to describe dead folk.

The candles created a music that caused the shadows to dance. A finger pointed to a rickety chair. Harvey closed his coat, straightened his pants and sat. He sniffed, and said, “Your little den stinks.”

“How’d you find me?” The voice was ridden with disinterest.

“Wasn’t as easy as last time, but, you’re not as clever as you are fucked up,” Harvey replied, pulling out a smoke and sparking it up.

“The waitress, she gave me away.” Not a question.

“When I stumbled upon her staring at her feet even though they were on the other side of the room it made me think that it’s not the shenanigans of a normal fuck-up. It could only be the work of a special fuck-up, one like you,” Harvey said, taking another hit.

It nodded.

Harvey drew on his cigarette before letting free the smoke. He watched the freak through the rising blue tendrils. “Last time I took pity, this time...”

The thing cut him off. “This time no slap on the wrist.” It drew its legs up to its chest from its place in the corner.

Harvey nodded, and said, “Correct. This time I’m gonna do the job properly.” Harvey dropped the cigarette, leant forward and screwed it into the thick layer of dust on the floor.

The thing chuckled and then coughed.

Harvey knew why the sound was so odd. “Like a leech, gorged far past the point of satiation.”

The thing struck its bony chest and hacked up a quart’s worth of congealed blood and then laughed. “The overspill always ends up in my lungs. In '98 I forgot to purge and the blood scabbed.”

“That won’t happen again.” Harvey promised.

The thing ignored him and looked over to the stone coffin. “I sat with her for over a month after you’re father had slain her. I didn’t leave the mausoleum, not even to eat, imagine what I looked like then.”

Harvey looked over at long, cracked stone box, then back to the thing.

"Let's get this over with."

The thing managed another chuckle and another little cough as it spent the rest of the blood in its lungs. "I made you show yourself, you have no weapons. There is no way you can finish me. Not unless you've somehow earned a wooden leg and plan to dance upon my chest."

The thing laughed loud, and it laughed long.

Harvey shrugged and said, "You things are sly, so I need to be sharper, keener, and a little more thoughtful." He left the chair and headed over to the stone coffin. He ran a hand around the length of it before stopping. He looked over his shoulder. "You've become too comfortable with your skills and that's wrong, and it goes for any occupation.

"Please, entertain me, how do you plan on vanquishing me?"

Harvey turned around. His zipper was down, his penis was out and he had his dominant hand around it.

The thing cackled. "Hardly an apt weapon, though perhaps impressive to the ladies that enjoy a shallow ploughing."

Harvey strode forward and started to urinate in the direction of the thing. The first drop that touched brought forth a scream. The trickle a howl. The full flow a bestial shriek that threatened to crack the very stone around them.

His urine worked like the lash of a whip, stroking runs in the thing's skin, delving deep into the flesh. It cowered as it was wounded and wetted. "How?" Was its call.

Harvey pissed until he could piss no more. "Nobody said holy water needed to be carried within a vessel such as a flask, or a vial, did they?"

The thing grunted.

Harvey picked up the old chair and broke it. He grabbed one of the legs from the rubble and bore down upon the pitiful creature. "And now I have a stake. I knew the chair would be here. Do you know why I know? Because, like you I've sat on it before. I sat on it whilst my father purged this world of your mother. He cut her mother-fucking head clean off. Your turn." Harvey raised the stake and then crashed it down into the things chest. It hollered for a second and then gargled as its insides shuddered and faltered to a stop.

Harvey gave his penis a shake, only two though; his father had always said that anything more than two shakes can be construed as masturbation.

"Anything More Than Two"
Copyright: © 2010 Lee Hughes

Lee's writings can be found around most of the darkest haunts. You can find out more at

A large buck struts through the trees on the banks of Lagoon Drive.

Sparks spit from the business end of a flat iron shovel as it scrapes the pavement, spatulas the carcass of a raccoon – flat through the torso but preserved at the front and rear haunch, portrait ready, bar the blood and brain leaking from one nostril.

The scraper, clad in Carhartt body suit, is mute in the burgeoning daylight, lips pasted together with tacky saliva, thick salted slugs from Thursday night on the beer.

In the mindless cold he peels pelt and fur, gummed to the pavement with viscous innards. He scurries from his truck to his charge, tiptoeing the asphalt like the squirrels and rabbits and the cracked tortoise.

He never kills the engine, but flapjacks the meat into the bed of his truck, jumps in the warm cab and hustles to the next location. He rides a long, slicing tongue cut through dense, marshy forest: Lagoon Drive. And even now, when they are rumored to be dormant, he is constantly wary of the beasts lurking in the trees.

He believes that the corpses, these smashed skunks and bloated opossum, are no accident at all. These are no portraits of accidental death, rather traps, set by the city to lure the beasts from hiding. The fat cats are convinced they’d be able to capture the monsters, once lured into daylight, and purge them from the city – a misanthropic foible that rings of King Kong.

The monsters, in the eyes of the carcass shoveler, are better left in the dark woods. They aren’t monsters, truly, just the residual effects of governmental experimentation. As the shoveler explained in his final letter, the interbreeding of those cursed by being born on the site of an ancient nuclear explosion, and the depraved minds willing to mate with such abominations, that makes for monstrosities one can barely imagine.

And when those creatures breed with similar creatures, over hundreds of years they’ve gone plain crazy and stay to the forests, eating whatever flesh they can find. I’m telling you, they’re out there, I seen em. They got wild ape hair and crooked teeth and claws and oily discharge spraying like sea foam from flopping joules, like a rabid dog with red eyes and horns and swollen boils. Luckily, their multiple sex appendages/orifices make for labored jigsaw copulation, keeping their numbers in line. And those bodies I scrape off the Drive, they could just as well be ours, if those beasts ever ventured out in our direction.

He attempts to warn the rest of the barstools on a typical whiskey Friday. They listen for a bit, then laugh as bar banter returns. Soon they are hooting and hollering and slapping each other on the back and slamming wet glasses on the bar. He stares at the fluorescent woman on the wall, and renegotiates his drunk.

The pot on the stove boils over, he tends to it.

Newspapers clipped and collaged on the wall.

He sits to eat tears chunk of boiled rabbit and chews chases tough flesh with beer.

Cast in bug zapper blue he stares across iron rails through the inky abyss to an oil lamp on a street pole that spills flickering amber on two perching buzzards.

Before they can sink their talons into his fleshy pelt he escapes inside his home with a pull creak and moan, smack of the screen door.

From a crumb on a crumpled map, bulls eyed on the horizon, there comes a crack of thunder.

The thunder echoes, sends shock waves through the consciousness of a man and a country town.

A large buck, champion rack, framed in the second story window sill, cast in blue light refracting off shards of broken glass, stares down his pointed snout and mews a dirge from his rocking chair, when clearly comes crashing, as we all may have expected, a tidal wave of crimson death, flooding the streets and crumbling what little sense of structure this poor town ever had.

And splattered on the wall, gray consciousness and garnet gems, a Jackson Pollack painting of all the fear and loneliness spooled tight inside a day laborer, who tried to save a city, scraping road kill monster traps from the early morning pavement.

His stained letter reads, among three full pages of complaint: Those critters aint the monster traps. I am.

He is mistaken, of course – we snuffed out the mutants years ago.

"Road Kill"
Copyright: © 2010 Jim Davis

Jim Davis is a painter by trade,but poetry has developed into one of his greatest passions. His first collection of verse and prose, Groundhog Days, goes to print in June with Mi-te Press.
He has a B.A. in Studio Art from Knox College and is currently studying poetry through Yale University. In addition to the arts, he is also an international professional football player. His unique combination of interests continues to offer him opportunities worldwide: teaching art lessons in Limerick, Ireland; sketching the Dolomite Mountain landscape on the Austrian/Italian border; swimming in the Mediterranean Sea after football practice in Valencia, Spain.

I stand motionless behind the flimsy curtain and try to ignore the sounds of carnage on the other side.

God knows what it is or where it came from. Well, it looks like it came from the cargo hold at the front of the train – but before that? Fuck knows!

My fellow passengers on the Sydney to Buenos Aires Bullet Train are trying to force themselves through a doorway wide enough to accommodate two people at a time, away from the advancing mass of teeth and claws. This is not going well and fighting has started. No doubt similar scenes are starting to break out in the subsequent carriages as the panic spreads like a wave throughout the train.

Two men that appeared to be some sort of Government operatives have stood their ground and have opened fire on the creature. They might as well have been throwing confetti at it. I can’t see this of course, but given that one of their heads has just rolled past my feet I think it’s a fair assumption to make.

And then there is me. While the carriage is in chaos, I slowly step behind a privacy curtain into one of the video call booths and wait for the creature to pass. It seems like a safer bet to be behind whatever that is, than in front of it along with dozens of potential ready meals screaming, fighting and otherwise drawing attention to themselves.

The girl grips the back of my leg and looks up at me with tear brimmed eyes. She is around 8 years old and was already in the cubicle when I arrived. I pray that she is not about to burst into tears. I place a single finger in front on my lips and hope that it gets the message across. Shhhhhh!

The sounds of slaughter seem further away now. The creature, having finished off those in this carriage has headed into the next in search of more victims. I pull back the curtain, and immediately wish that I hadn’t.

The plastic sterility of the train carriage has been transformed into a vision of hell. Blood dripping from the walls and ceiling, and flayed strips of flesh dangling from light fittings and overhead luggage compartments. The floor is invisible under a carpet of entrails and severed limbs.

I begin to move from the compartment when I feel an insistent tugging on my trouser leg. It’s the child, looking up at me, her bottom lip quivering. Cursing to myself, I gather her up in my arms and tell her to close her eyes before picking my way through the abattoir, towards the front of the train.

The following carriages are not any better than ours. I don’t stop to count body parts, but they all seem to be sufficiently small that there is no chance of me finding any other survivors. I have to traverse three more carriages, carefully closing the doors behind me, before I come to the cargo hold. I am vaguely aware of the fact that I can't hear any more screaming.

The door to the first cargo compartment has been torn clean off. It lies in the aisle - a buckled metal sheet over a foot thick and I have to be careful not to loose my footing on the wet sticky surface as I climb over it.

The cargo hold is an improvement from the carriages, only in so much that there are only two eviscerated corpses in evidence here, both in what look like remains of Military uniforms. There are scorch marks on the wall from weapon discharges, and in the corner of the room stands a large crate.

One side of the crate has been shattered from within. Transparent ooze drips from the shards of wood and glass and somewhere inside a small red light is blinking. I assume that this is where the creature came from.

The train shakes and the muffled sounds of impact come from behind us. It seems like our new friend is objecting to the closed doors, and that means it is coming back this way.

The options are limited. Getting off the train was not one of them. In the middle of Antarctica we would last minutes before freezing solid. Staying on the train however, with the monster heading back towards us is also not an attractive option.

There is another door at the back of the cargo compartment - so far undamaged and intact with a scanner on the wall next to it. I put the child down on the floor and pick up one of the severed hands, pushing it against the scanner. A light goes green and the door slides open. Bingo!

The train shudders again and there is a sound of tearing metal as another door is torn from its hinges. We are running out of time. I turn to a computer console in the second compartment and use the hand of the unfortunate guard to gain access.

"Disengaging passenger modules in twenty seconds" a computerised voice informs me.

There is only one intact door left between the creature and us. Twenty seconds is just not going to be enough time. It will be on us in ten. As if to reinforce this, the train is rocked once more as it hurls itself at the last remaining door. I need to slow it down somehow.

I gently push the young girl back into the first cargo compartment.

"Pardre?" she whimpers as I close the cargo bay door.

I smile at her and make the sign of the cross through the plexiglass.

"Passenger compartments disengaged" the computer informs me. As I watch, the carriages begin to fall behind. The girls eyes are still on me until a large shadow falls over her. At this point I turn away.

As I say in my sermons...The Lord helps those who help themselves.

Copyright: © 2009 Graeme Reynolds
Graeme Reynolds has been called many things over the years, most of which are unprintable. By day, he breaks computer programs for a living, but when the sun goes down he hunches over a laptop and thinks of new and interesting ways to offend people with delicate sensibilities.

He lives somewhere in England with two cats, three delinquent chickens and a girlfriend that is beginning to suspect that there is something deeply wrong with him. Visit him at

*"Trans-Antarctica" first published at Flashes in the Dark

“She’s not here.” He stood, a burly bear of a man, on the porch of my friend’s home. I had stopped by hoping to pick up her research. We were taking a course at the local community college. Contemporary Issues: it had sounded like fun, a chance to make new friends, nothing too onerous. It had been an added benefit to find Rhonda in the class and a pleasure when she had agreed to be my project partner.
“When do you …?”
“Don’t know and don’t care. I’m not her keeper.”
“Now that you mention it …”
“I’m her brother.”
I couldn’t see much resemblance except, perhaps, the crystal-mint quality of his eyes. I really like Rhonda’s eyes.
But not wanting to pry,I just nodded my head.
“Can I leave a note?”
“Sure. Tape it to the door.”
“Do you have some paper, a pencil, some tape?” I was beginning to feel strange, half angry and half sort of immature, like I had somehow become a kid.
Maybe it was the way he was talking – almost sneering with his voice and not looking at me, as if I was beneath his busy notice.
“I have no time to look for that crap. Get it yourself.” He gestured toward the screen door.
I pulled it open and walked in. I’d never been inside Rhonda’s house. But over the months we’d been friends I’d developed some pretty clear expectations. She was such a well-ordered person, so painstaking. I wasn’t prepared for the mess or for the stench. It was the stench of something dead, of something long past decay. Yet, strangely, I found the smell reassuring. If this guy was a robber or something, he might have caused the disarray, but certainly not that odor.
He followed me indoors. “Something must have died.”
“What?” He snarled the word.
“The smell. It smells like something died.”
“Oh, yeah, Rhonda figures something must have died. In the walls. A rat or something.”
“Oh! That sucks.”
“You could say.”
“My name’s Walt.” I held out my hand, which he ignored.
“Yeah.” Whatever had impelled him to explain the odor it certainly wasn’t friendliness.
“What’s yours?” He ignored me.
I started looking for that paper and pencil.
“Lock the door when you leave,” he instructed.
“When you leave. Lock the door.”
“Aren’t you going to …?”
“Got to get back to work,” he interrupted. “Just lock the damn door, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. Any idea where?”
“Naw. Look around.”
It took a while. Eventually I found what I needed – except for the tape. I wrote a note and stuck it in the door as I was closing it. It wedged above the lock, tilted to one side.
Rhonda called that evening. “Sorry I wasn’t home.”
“Yeah, well your brother said you were out.”
There was a gulp on the other end of the line. “I don’t have a brother.”
“He said he was your brother.”
“I have no idea.”
“Was anything …?”
“No, nothing missing. Nothing messed up. Just normal.”
Nothing messed up? I wanted to ask about the smell, but didn’t know how to bring it up without insulting so I described the guy. “’bout three inches taller than me, heavier set, too. Five or six years younger. He was wearing jeans and a blue shirt, not a dress shirt, something more like it was for work, but not with any logo or anything. Hair, lots of it and real dark, and messy, un-groomed, almost like he’d never been to a barber or shaved or anything. In fact, the way he looked, I wondered about him saying he was your brother. But I didn’t know what to do.”
There was silence. Finally, “I have no idea who he was, but it doesn’t matter that much. Whoever he was … I mean nothing was taken or broken into or anything. Maybe you interrupted him. Good thing you came by.” I could hear her breathing. “It is a little creepy.”
“I guess.” I was uncomfortable – didn’t know what to say. Should I offer to go over? “You’re sure nothing was taken or …?”
“No nothing. Probably just … Hell, I don’t know.”
Another pause. I couldn’t let it go. “So what do you think died?” I asked abruptly.
“The smell. He said you thought something had died – something in the wall.”
“Are you nuts? There’s no smell in my place. How long have you known me?
“About five months.”
“Right.” Her voice went up in pitch. “Well, I’ve lived in this house my entire life. It’s my family home. I was born here. My mother died here. Do you think I’d live in a place that smelled of some dead animal or something? That I’d let that happen to my home? You’ve got to …”
“The whole place surprised me. It didn’t seem like you. So messy and all.”
“Walt, are you on something?”
“Of course not.”
“Joking? If you are, this isn’t funny.”
“No. I’m serious. Look, he let me in, I found the paper and pencil, I wrote you the note. You got the damn note, right?”
“Yes.” Her voice reflected the discomfort of our conversation. “But I have no brother, my place doesn’t smell, and it’s neat as I can get it. What the hell?”
“I’m sorry. It doesn’t make sense.” I didn’t want to upset her more. I wished that I hadn’t said anything – not about the smell, not about the mess. “Maybe it was your brother-in-law. Maybe I misheard him.”
“Not likely. I’m an only child.”
“My mother was pregnant one time. I was five. It was a boy. But my parents were fighting a lot. They broke up. She didn’t … She had an abortion. It really freaked her out.
“It freaked me out, too. I found her in the bedroom all cramped up on the bed and the mess. Not just the blood, but I guess she had tried to use some towels. I don’t know if she was trying to stop it or to clean up, but it was so …” Her voice trailed off.
After a minute she resumed, “I guess that was when I got to be so … What’s the word? Meticulous. A mess in my house? A smell? You’ve got to be kidding.” A pause. “I couldn’t stand it. I really …” Her voice, filled with pain, trailed off.
I had to change the subject, but knew I couldn’t really. So I asked, “Did you ever wonder?”
“What it would have been like if he had …”
“Of course, wouldn’t anybody?”
“I don’t know. Personally, I always wanted to be an only child. I wondered what that would have been like.”
“Well, I always wondered.” I could hear a little cough at her end. “You know what really bugs me? They never even gave him a name. It was like …”
“Like he died somewhere out of sight, like he was just a dead animal …”
“Yeah, a dead animal.”
Copyright: © 2010 Kenneth Weene

Kenneth Weene is a New Englander by birth and disposition and trained as a psychologist and minister, he has worked as an educator and psychotherapist.

Ken’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications – most recently featured in Sol and publication in Spirits. An anthology of his writings, Songs for my Father, was published by Inkwell Productions. His short stories have appeared in Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, and The Santa Fe Literary Review.

Ken’s novel, Widow’s Walk, has recently been published by All Things That Matter Press. A second novel, Memoirs From the Asylum, is scheduled for release May 20. To order Ken’s novels visit or order at Amazon.

Bill Finley was eating chips and watching football when a voice on the television said, “And now let’s pause for a molestation sentencing.”

Bill stopped chewing. Had he heard that right? Molestation? He’d seen programming interrupted for all types of crime, everything from petty larceny to murder, but this was something new.

“Did you hear that?” he asked Kathy. When his wife didn’t answer, he looked at the couch where she lay and realized her eyes were closed. She’d been so withdrawn lately. Bill tried to remember the last time they were intimate. Ever since Taylor was born, their relationship had gone quickly down hill. Now only his daughter gave him any attention. She lay curled up on his lap, face nestled in his chest, a miniature version of her mother.

Bill turned his attention back to the television. The screen turned bright yellow, then super-novad to white. Bill put up his hand to shield his eyes. The light dimmed. When he took his hand down, a man wearing a blue Party uniform and black sunglasses was staring at him. “This is Child Protective Services, responding to allegations of child molestation. How do you plead?”

Bill squinted his eyes, used his free hand to point to his own chest. “Me?”

“Yes you.”

Bill didn’t want to look guilty, but he was having a hard time breathing normally. A charge like this was serious, and often dealt with very harshly.

“I don’t understand what’s going on,” Bill said, shifting nervously in the metal viewing chair. “There must be a mistake.”

“We don’t make mistakes,” the man said firmly.


“Look at your left hand.”

Bill looked down and found his left hand resting on Taylor’s backside. He felt a flash of guilt, and moved his hand onto the arm of the chair. He looked back at the television, at the man on the screen. Although the glasses obscured his eyes, Bill knew there was evil in them. Could feel their stare boring a hole right through him.

“He touches her like that all the time,” Kathy said.

Bill turned to see her sitting up, and realized her sleeping had been an act.

Bill snapped his attention back to the Party member. “She’s lying! She’s just jealous because Taylor loves me more!”

“Taylor!” he said, shaking the child awake.

The girl looked up at him drowsily. “What?”

He pointed to the TV and said, “Tell the man I’ve never hurt you!”

The girl rubbed her eye with her little fist, looked at the man on the TV, then back to her father, confused.

“Hurry!” Bill pleaded. “There isn’t much time!”

“Let go of the girl, Mr. Finley,” the man said.

Instinctively, Bill pulled Taylor closer.

Kathy appeared beside him. She took hold of Taylor’s arm. “You heard him,” she said. “Let her go.”

He relinquished his hold, and looked into his wife’s eyes pleadingly. “Why, Kathy?”

“You’ve neglected me since she was born,” she whispered. Then to Taylor: “Come with Mommy.”

Bill watched as Kathy led their daughter out of the room. He looked back at the television.

“William Adam Finley,” the man said, “I charge you with first degree criminal sexual conduct, a crime punishable by death.”

Before Bill could blink, a surge of electricity shot from the television to the chair. Bill’s muscles tensed. His eyes bulged. His clothes began to smoke.

“You have the right to remain silent,” the main on the television said, as Bill’s hair burst into flame. “Anything you say can and will be used to defame your character after your death.”

The man paused, listening for something to document, but Bill’s charred lips produced no sound. His head was now just a black cinder, his body a smoldering shell of ash.

“The accused has declined to speak,” the man said.

The seat of the chair dropped open, and Bill’s remains tumbled down a long shaft, and disappeared into the darkness. The seat swung back on its hinges and clicked back into place.

Kathy led Taylor back into the room, brushed the residue of ash off the seat, and propped her up on the chair. “How about some cartoons?” she said.

“Where’s Daddy?”

Kathy ignored the question, and changed the channel to 100. A large, brown bear, with big blue eyes, dressed in pajamas and a nightcap was sitting on a bed. A window behind him revealed a black, star-filled sky. “Hi, Taylor,” he said.

“Hi,” the girl said shyly.

“Do you know what time it is, Taylor?”

Taylor shook her head.

“It’s sleeeeeepy time,” the bear said. He put the flat of his hand to his mouth and feigned a yawn. “And do you know what we do when it’s sleepy time?”

“Go to sleep?”

“That’s right. So close your little eyes and think about nice things.”

Taylor closed her eyes. The bear continued: “Things like ice cream… and cookies… and presents… and Mommy…”

“And Daddy,” Taylor said.

“No,” the bear said softly. “Not Daddy. There is no Daddy.”

Taylor’s eyes popped open. “But—”

“There never was any Daddy. There’s only Mommy, do you understand, Taylor? Only Mommy.”

Taylor was confused, but the bear’s soothing voice soon lulled her eyes shut again.

“Say it with me, Taylor: Only Mommy… only Mommy…”

“Only Mommy,” Taylor said, her voice barely audible.

“That’s right,” the bear said. “Only Mommy.”

Her lips parted to repeat the mantra, but she soon fell asleep as Mommy stroked her hair.

"The Accused"
Copyright: © 2010 Chris Reed
Chris Reed is the author of more than 60 stories. He lives in Davison, MI, where he enjoys browsing thrift stores, eating pizza, and waiting for hockey fights to break out, sometimes simultaneously. Visit his official web site:

“There, there…over there, get him!”

I’m sitting on the edge of the couch, frantically pointing my finger at the television. On the flatscreen a man wearing a long, dirty tunic and sandals is racing across a rubble-strewn field. A missile explodes thirty yards behind him, sending the remnants of a destroyed shack sailing through the air. The man dives over a rock wall and crawls behind a jumble of boulders.

“Crap…missed him.”

I look over at my fourteen year old son, who’s squeezing a joystick with both hands. Underneath the communication headset his face is crumpled with displeasure. I reach over and pat his shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” I say, “there’s always a next time.”

My son exhales and sulks for a moment. I can tell he’s dying to whip the controller across the room. He’s been at this all week, yet success remains elusive, a difficult thing at this age. But then he brightens suddenly. He flashes a grin and says, “Guess what…last week Billy took out a whole group of bad guys…it was awesome.”

I get up off the couch and head into the kitchen, thinking about how much fun these kids are having with Young Patriot. The “game” is pretty damn expensive, but parents are somehow finding the money as kids everywhere clamor for it. It’s a whole new concept for gaming that started when the Defense Department came up short in their funding last year. With budgets tightening, their solution was to turn real Predator drone attacks into a highly competitive online sport played by everyday private citizens. A few years ago this wouldn’t have been possible, but wireless technology and data packeting has come so far so fast that now it is.

Here’s how it works. Each family pays $500 per month to participate. For that, you get two guaranteed missions each day, and as your kill rate improves you get assigned more missions with increasingly difficult objectives. The kids that excel also see their monthly costs go down. Take out enough terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and pretty soon you’re playing for free. My son’s friend Billy is up to three missions per day and is only paying $250 per month now. It’s pretty ingenious, if you ask me – why pay some guy $60,000 plus benefits to do the work that a teenager can do just as well for free? And, the department gets to enjoy the windfall from a million other hopeful kids paying $6,000 a year for the same chance. Money like that can fund a lot of missions.

“Dad, I’m on again!”

I race back to the couch and drop into position. My son adjusts his headset and says, “This is Agent Orange, go ahead Command Center.” The flatscreen snaps to life with a real-time video showing two men sprinting away from a stone hut. My boy swivels his joystick and aligns the crosshairs on the back of the guy that’s falling behind. He thumbs the Fire button on his controller and we lean forward, holding our breath. A missile screams past the man’s head and slams into a pack of goats. A small puff of white appears on the screen. Then nothing.


My son rips off his headset and tosses it across the room. His face goes slack. Then it reddens in pure, adolescent frustration.

“I’m no good at this.”

I lean towards him and say, “Hey now, let’s think about this for a moment. The terrorists need to eat, right?

I’m surprised by how quickly I’m thinking on my feet here. Those parenting classes must really be paying off. My son looks at me through watery eyes.

“I guess.”

“And what do they eat.”

My son looks at the parched landscape on the TV, seeing nothing but red sand and bone-dry hills. He sighs and says, “I don’t know…goats?”

I smile and say, “Yup, that’s right. They can’t eat sand, that’s for sure. So you’re helping indirectly, on the starvation front.”

He wipes a hand under an eye and looks up at me with doubt.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get your kill soon enough.”

My son smiles and says, “Thanks dad, I think you’re right.”

I grin with relief and say, "Hey, wanna watch SAW again?"

Copyright: © 2010 Thomas Sullivan
Thomas Sullivan's writing has appeared in 3AM Magazine and Bad Idea Magazine, among others. He is the author of Life In The Slow Lane, a comic memoir about teaching drivers education (available from Uncial Press at To view more of Thomas’ writing please visit his author website at

The two brothers decided to kill Bernie because they were tired of him. He was a pest. Always knocking on the door Saturday mornings, wanting to know if they could come out.

They didn’t want to play with Bernie. Nobody did. But the looks their mother gave them! It was easier to go out and play than to fall under the lash of her tongue. Bernie was a nice boy. Bernie was new to the neighborhood. Bernie needed help fitting in. Bernie this. Bernie that. Bernie Bernie Bernie.

They planned to lure him into their father’s mint condition, ’55 Chevy two-door, the one they weren’t supposed to touch. Ever. They would play The Game. One person stayed inside the car while the others crouched outside, jumping up like jack-in-the boxes. If the spotter had his back to you when you jumped, you got a point. If not, he got the point. First to eleven wins.

Once they got Bernie inside, they would flip the external door locks and keep him in there until the air ran out.

“Do you think he’ll go for it?” said Sean, the nine-year-old.

“Does the Pope shit in the woods?” said Michael, the eleven-year-old.

“Does he?” asked Sean, his brow furrowed.

“Shut up, you moron,” said Michael, “and give me a cig.”

Saturday dawned, and Michael and Sean gathered their tools. Hammer? Check. Duct tape? Check. Lighter fluid? Check. Matches? Check. Pop Tarts?

“Pop Tarts?” said Michael. “What the hell? And are we feeding him too?”

“I get hungry!” said Sean. “You know I get hungry.” Michael looked at him.

“Eat this,” he said, punching him in the arm. But not very hard. He was saving his strength.

Bernie did not have to ring the bell that day. Sean and Michael were waiting for him on the front stoop, waved to him as he came by, told him to come on up, and sniggered as he jiggered up the driveway.

Just to show they were good sports, Sean and Michael took their turns inside the car. They let Bernie win both games. Then it was Bernie’s turn. In he went and they slammed the door behind him.

Sean and Michael flipped the locks and taped up the door seams. They scooted around the car, jumping up and down. But the worst that happened was that Bernie got red-faced and sweaty. Then he rolled down a window.

The two brothers stood off at a distance.

“It’s not working,” Sean said. “Pass me the hammer.” Sean peeled the tape and opened the door and handed Bernie a Pop Tart, which he munched gratefully. “Bernie?” said Sean. He turned, his face innocent and round, and Sean swung the hammer against his temple. The sound was like an orange being mashed by a baseball bat. Bernie crumpled onto his side in the back seat.

Sean unscrewed the lighter fluid and poured it over Bernie and onto the seat. He dropped a match. Flames whooshed up along Bernie’s face and clothes, melting his hair, spreading to the upholstery. Sean slammed the door shut.

But not before he rolled up the window, pushed off the parking brake, and put the car in neutral. The car sat perched at the top of the driveway, just at the incline, smoking and popping. Sean put his shoulder against the front bumper and pushed.

“Jesus,” said Michael, agog as the car rolled backwards down the driveway. “Jesus Christ.” The car picked up speed and bounced crazily into the street, the interior roaring with orange flames. Willy Anglin, who always rode his bike on Saturdays, saw the car coming and at the last second slammed on his brakes.

The car rolled over him, dragging him and his twisted bike across the street, where it crashed into the apartment building, pinning Willy against the stairs. Willy screamed and screamed until the fire ignited the leaking gas tank, blowing out the car windows and the doors and popping the hood. The car disappeared amid roiling tongues of fire like a dinosaur being consumed by lava.

“Jesus Christ Almighty,” Michael said. He turned to his brother. “You’re crazy. We weren’t supposed to really do it.”

“Go on,” said Sean. “Now you tell me.” The brothers gawked as the drama unfolded, the adults running about and yelling helplessly across the blazing wreck. The air hung heavy with the stench of burning rubber and plastic and—what was that?—flesh. In the distance wailed sirens, coming closer.

“Too bad about Willy,” said Michael. Sean shrugged.

“I never did like him much, neither,” he answered. Two crows flew by overhead. Sean held something white out to his brother. “Pop Tart?”

"Bye Bye Bernie"
Copyright: © 2010 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 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.

Dean was supposed to meet her at the abandoned abattoir.

“No later than nine,” Elisha had warned. “Or I might change my mind.”

He was careful to delete her number from his call-log. If his wife saw it she might ask questions.

Elisha wanted a ghost tour; he had other things in mind: “Only if you promise to come in that skimpy strapless you wore to the office Christmas party.”

On arrival, he found a blood-soaked gown on the floor.

His wife emerged from the shadows, pointing a .44 at him. She motioned toward a rusty, old meat-packing machine: “You're next."

"Meat Me at Nine"
Copyright: © 2010 Eugene Gramelis

Eugene Gramelis
is a barrister and dark fiction writer from Sydney, Australia where he lives with his beautiful wife and two gorgeous daughters. His fiction has appeared, or is scheduled to appear, in publications such as
MicroHorror, Crime and Suspense Magazine, Flashes in the Dark, The Daily Tourniquet, Midnight Echo, Afterburn SF and The New Flesh. Please feel free to visit Eugene's official webpage:

*"Meat Me at Nine" previously published at Flashshots.

My little Carnivorous Pony sits in the corner of the forest. She is troubled because she refuses to be My Little Vegetarian Pony. No one will play with her, and this is why she cries.

Down the forest trail, Two Horn Unicorn sniffs Blue Smurfs, and Pegasus plays leapfrog with Purple Polka Dotted Leprechauns. They are different, unique in their own special way, and everyone considers this fine and dandy. Fine and dandy is normal as a summer’s day in July.

My Little Carnivorous Pony is abnormal and strange. Abnormal and strange is awkward as a summer’s day in December.

It is simply not fair, but she decides this will not trouble her any longer.

My Little Carnivorous pony stands. When Leaping Zombie snarls and leaps by with a mug of hot cocoa and a sweater, she hisses and shows fangs.

Her stomach rumbles and My Little Carnivorous Pony turns her nose up at the grass, trots over to the Blue Smurfs, and much to Two Horn Unicorn’s dismay, fetches one up in her sharp teeth, and trots away to eat her dinner.

"Adventures of My Little Carnivorous Pony"
Copyright: © 2010 Jodi MacArthur

Jodi MacArthur lost her my little ponies after tying their tails together to form ropes to retrieve other lost toys out of her 2nd story apartment window. She imagines one day, the ponies will unite as one undead plastic creature and will hunt her down. She thinks this would be more fun than being ran over by a car. To read more of her writes visit