Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween Special – The Crying Boy by Anthony Cowin

scary-pumpkins

The fireman crashed onto the doorstep, head pushed against a charcoal baby cradled in his arms. Tears fell against the inside of his mask.

It was the fifth Crying Boy fire Lovell had attended that year. He hated the painting.

He remembered it hanging above his mother’s faux marble fireplace as a child. His father would never allow one in the house. But, two years after his father’s death, his mum had bought a copy in a second hand shop on a seaside trip.

It had been set in a gilded rococo frame – painted plaster, the man behind the counter had told her. The boy’s tears falling from his sapphire eyes looked almost real. He’d touched the painting, certain his fingers would be wet.

Lovell watched the coastline from the top deck of the bus on his way home. The North Sea crashed in, its wash hitting the dirty windows of the bus, rolling down like tears on the glass. Blue reflected eyes stared back at him.

Those blue eyes would follow him to bed every night. They blinked in the shadows of the flickering nightlight in his bedroom as he tried to sleep. But his mother saw hope reflected in the tears. A face captured in the moment of joy.

And now, as an adult, it was following him from house to house, fire to fire, death to death. It even followed him home after his mother passed away.

“You need some leave. You don’t want Emily to grow up without a dad,” his wife, Lauren, said.

Lovell had no memory of his own father, only the face in the silver framed wedding photograph on his mother’s fireplace.

Under the Crying Boy.

He promised his wife he’d ask the station manager that night.

* * *

Lauren put Emily to bed upstairs and switched on the baby monitor in the living room.

“Okay boxes, let’s see what you’ve got,” she said, pouring a glass of wine. She shuffled over to the open fire. A splash of red fell onto the carpet and smudged under her knees like a streak of blood.

The first box was packed with her late mother-in-law’s clothes. She taped it up, took the marker pen from between her teeth and wrote CHARITY across the side. She did the same for the next two boxes of bric-a-brac. The final box was marked ‘Pics and Photos’.

When her husband had seen it he’d walked out. He called half an hour later from the pub, already drunk in that short time. He was crying, telling her he couldn’t face what was in there. He asked her to sort through and give everything away except the photos.

She put the albums and loose photos to the side. She placed a wedding photo in a silver frame on the mantle. All that remained were a few old fashioned prints; nothing that could account for her husband’s terror. A faded blue woman and one with charging elephants, which she was certain had been an album cover. The final picture was heavy. She rested it on the mantle. It was a picture of a boy with haunting blue eyes, his cheeks wet with tears. She reached to touch it, sure the tears were real. She stopped short and laughed.

“It’s only a picture, you silly mare.”

The baby monitor crackled. Lauren stopped and listened. Silence. She decided to call it a night and left the living room. Behind her there was another crackle. An ember popped from the fire, rolled across the carpet and came to rest on the old photographs. It began to smoulder and before long the house began to fill with smoke, black smoke that crept under the gap of the bedroom doors. Lauren woke to black snakes squirming down her throat. The venom had bitten into her eyes, a searing pain that blinded her.

Her hands palmed along the scorching walls on the landing. An echo of Emily crackled in the monitor from her bedroom, the cries trapped in melting plastic. The floorboards cracked beneath her feet. She crashed into the hallway as the sirens wailed outside.

Lovell’s house was a pumpkin of orange flames; blackened windows taunted him from upstairs. He dragged Lauren into the street.

“Emily,” she whispered.

He knew even if they could reach the baby she’d be dead from smoke inhalation.

“Did you take out the painting?”

She looked confused.

He gripped her arms. “The boy, the crying boy.”

His wife nodded. He ran back into the house with a quick glance into the living room. No painting.

Lovell climbed the broken staircase, avoiding bursts of fire that descended as if trying to keep him out. He stepped over the hole in the floor on the landing and reached the nursery. Every wall was black. Stuffed bears with melted eyes looked down at the crib as he tried to prepare for something no father should have to do. He noticed a lump under the blanket through the scorched rails.

He lifted off a board that lay across the cot and stopped when he realised it was the painting. Something was wrong. The murky background was the same, but the boy was no longer there.

He threw the painting aside and pulled back the blanket. Emily was covered in water, enough to protect her but shallow enough to avoid her mouth. There was a crackle. The baby coughed. She looked up at her dad and smiled.

Lovell picked her up and ran to ladder at the window.

* * *

Lovell found his wife asleep with Emily in the children’s hospital.

“I don’t understand it,” she said.

“None of us do. The papers are calling it a miracle.”

She cried tears of hope, a face captured in a moment of joy.

Later, as he pressed buttons at the vending machine, he noticed a reflection of a boy with blue eyes between the chocolate bars and crisp packets.

Lovell turned to face him. The boy’s eyes were dry. He was all cried out. He faded into the rush of nurses dragging a trolley towards A&E. Lovell never saw the Crying Boy at a fire again.

Anthony CowinBio: Anthony’s stories have appeared in many collections, the most recent being ‘Thirty Minutes Or It’s Free’ in Jolly Minstrel’s ‘From Bitten to Braaaiiinnnsss…’ zombie anthology. His first stand alone release will be ‘The Brittle Birds’ from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s ‘One Night Stand’ series. Anthony is also the horror fiction reviewer at http://thehorrificallyhorrifyinghorrorblog.wordpress.com. Keep up to date at anthonycowin.com

18 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

Halloween Special – The Last Halloween by Shona Snowden

scary-pumpkins

Our neighbors, the Deshkus, never celebrated Halloween. When the first Halloween decoration appeared in early October, the Deshkus locked themselves into their house and didn’t emerge until the decorations were all gone by mid-November.

The rest of the year, they were like everybody else. They often asked my mom and me over for dinner. I didn’t like the strange spicy food they ate, but I loved their daughter Valerie. She was two years older than me.

One night, when I was in fourth grade, and we were in their kitchen, digesting one of Mrs. Deshsku’s spicy stews, I asked: “why don’t you celebrate Halloween?” Mom tapped the back of my hand, but Mr. Deshku didn’t mind.

“Where we come from it was war,” he said.

Mrs. Deshku clattered dishes in the sink. “And worse,” she said. “Too much death. How can we celebrate death?”

“They were so young,” said Mr. Deshku. ““Just boys. They didn’t know their own power.”

“We thought we had left it behind,” said Mrs. Deshku. “But at Halloween…it’s different.”

Valerie just looked at me with her wide dark eyes and shook her head.

Mom coughed. “Some Halloween decorations are in bad taste,” she said.  “Christmas is different. I have a wonderful nativity scene…” We didn’t talk any more about Halloween with the Deshkus.

The night of my last Halloween I was in eighth grade. Young enough to want candy, but too old to beg for it. Cole McKinnon and I helped ourselves, scurrying up and down porch stairs, stealing candy from the trick or treat honesty pots. When we got bored, we moved on to swapping pumpkins and decorations from one yard to another.

Then we came to the Deshku house, dark and still. Nothing to steal, nothing to swap.

Cole looked at me. “Party poopers,” he said. “They should celebrate.”

A memory of the conversation in the Deshkus’ kitchen four years ago prickled at the edges of my mind, but I pushed it away. Cole was the year above in school. Normally he didn’t deign to hang out with me.

I nodded. “It’s time for the Deshkus to party.”

We found decorations for the Deshkus all over the neighborhood. We stole gap-toothed pumpkins from almost every porch, lining the edges of the Deshkus’ yard with their uneven, serrated grins

Cole wound tattered scraps of web around the gate and attached a bulbous black spider, then perched red-eyed crows on the porch rail, one with a bloody eyeball hanging from his beak. I hung the skeleton we’d taken from the Johanssens, broken shackles dangling from its wrists and ankles, on the beams of the porch.

We heard nothing from the house. I wondered if the Deshkus were really in there and for some reason that set off a creeping feeling, crawling from the top of my spine right down to the bottom.

I stole a corpse from the Billings’ yard; a body with no head, just a bloody stump of neck. Cole dropped its legs as we were carrying it up the Deshkus’ porch stairs and got a fit of the giggles, but there was still no movement from inside. I laid the headless corpse across the Deshkus’ doormat.

At the top of the steps, we piled bones, pinched from the Corbetts and the Vukovics. I kept some aside for the lawn, my final touch. I had scattered gravestones and crosses across the grass, and in front of one of them, I laid bony legs, arms and a skull. I arched the legs and arms, so it looked as if the skeleton was clawing its way out of the ground, and opened the hinged jaw of the skull so it was screaming. I was kind of scared by my own handiwork. It looked as if the bones were animated, trying to scrape their way up from somewhere evil.

I wanted to move the bones, but Cole slapped me on the back in approval, so I left them.

Afterwards, we went back to stealing candy and swapping over decorations, but I kept thinking about the Deshku house. That night, I shivered in bed, despite warm covers and central heating.

The next day, when I looked out of my window, the Deshku house stood as silent and still as the night before, the displaced decorations plastic and tawdry in the morning light.

“Somebody did a terrible thing to the Deshkus,” said Mom over breakfast. “They took decorations from all over and put them in their yard.”

“I saw from my window,” I said. And then, because she looked at me like she expected something. “I think it’s kind of funny.”

She shook her head. “Not for the Deshkus.”

Again, that crawling feeling crept up my spine.  When Mom told me we should clean up the Deshkus’ yard, I didn’t complain.

We stacked the decorations in the back alley. The pumpkins we just threw out. I hadn’t noticed before, but some had red paint on them, like blood.

When we were done there was no sign that the Deshkus’ yard had been anything other than it always was at Halloween: empty.

Two days later, at six p.m. on Wednesday night, a persistent UPS man peered through a crack in the Deshkus’ curtains. We heard him screaming from our kitchen.

I read about it in the papers. The Halloween murders.

They found Mrs. Deshku hanging from the bedroom fan, broken shackles drooping from her wrists and ankles. Mr. Deshku was sprawled in the hallway, headless. Valerie lay on the living room floor, arms and legs arched, clawing at the ground, with her head flung back, mouth open in an endless, silent scream.

They never discovered who had killed them, or where the shackles on Mrs. Deshku’s wrists and ankles came from. They never found Mr. Deshku’s head. Or Valerie’s torso.

Even now, I still remember that conversation in the Deshkus’ kitchen. About war. And worse. About boys with power they didn’t understand.

I never celebrate Halloween now.

Shona SnowdenBio:  Despite her benign appearance, Shona Snowden’s imagination tends to run to the fantastic and the horrific, as stories published in ‘Silverthought’, ‘Midnight Echo’ and ‘Stupefying Stories’ attest. Her work has also appeared in anthologies. Originally from Scotland, Shona now lives in Denver.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

Halloween Special – Dripped With Blood by Dana C. Kabel

scary-pumpkins

Music thrummed in Kiki’s chest. Her blood pumped to the rhythm of the driving bass.

She gyrated to the center of the dance floor in a black sequin mini-skirt that barely covered her ass; losing herself in a sea of sexually charged writhing bodies.

Kiki would feel it when the right one entered the fray. He appeared across the room.

Tall as a skyscraper.

Pale skin with a pompadour.

Clad in black leather.

He came closer and she saw his angular jaw and wide mouth. Pictured it clamped around her neck; biting, sucking, drinking her. The beautiful creature flowed through the crowd to her, like poured liquid.

“Hey,” he said.

The music was too loud for talk. Kiki used her eyes.

He touched the small of her back; precisely where she wanted him to. They danced until everything around them dissolved except the beat of their hearts to the bottom heavy bass.

At closing time they went outside into the crisp, fall air, pushing their way through the crowd of drunken clubbers.

“I’m Marcus,” he said.

“Karsavina. Kiki for short.”

“That’s unusual.”

 “I’m named after Tamara Karsavina, the…”

“Famous Russian ballerina,” he said.

Delighted, Kiki pulled him away from the crowd.

The hour was late. They walked through sleeping neighborhoods and talked about their favorite subject.

 “I started with Rice’s Lestat,” Marcus said. “It was so deep and erotic. The writing really spoke to me.”

Kiki knew how he felt.

“When she stopped writing them, I was lost.”

She watched his beautiful mouth. The fangs weren’t long, but they were perfectly pointed. She imagined them piercing flesh.

The street was lined with off-campus rentals. Students stumbled home to pass out in their lofts.

Kiki steered towards the shadows. She didn’t want their conversation to be interrupted by some idiot puking on their shoes.

“My soul is ancient,” Marcus said. “I’ve lived this beautiful curse for like, centuries.”

Kiki took a deep breath. She was afraid to speak the words that were in her heart. Miraculously, he spoke them for her.

“Then the Twilight books came…”

She could hardly hold back.

“I want you,” Kiki said.

“Yesss…”

They devoured each other’s mouths until Kiki broke away panting and said, “I need to show you something.”

They ran like children of the night until they reached the locked cemetery gates.

“Come on,” Kiki climbed the iron bars.

Marcus vaulted the gate.

She led him through the boneyard to a huge oak tree that reached up to the stars. Kiki grabbed a lower branch and hoisted herself up. She pulled up to the next branch so that she was completely above him and paused, giving him a view of her bare sex beneath the mini-skirt.

Marcus parted his lips and ran his tongue along his teeth. Kiki climbed higher and he followed her up until they were nearly a hundred feet above the ground. Moonlight edged the tombstones below.

“You’re not afraid?”

“Not with you,” Kiki said.

 “Our souls journeyed o’er this hallowed ground many lives ago,” Marcus said.

She hungrily kissed his poetic mouth. Marcus slipped her right breast out and fondled the nipple. He ran his tongue down her neck, heading for the erect, pink nub between his fingers.

Kiki grasped his wrist and froze.  There were footsteps below.

“Shhh,” she whispered. “Look…”

Marcus followed her gaze to the couple ambling along the walkway. Students cut through the locked cemetery at night from the bar district.

Marcus didn’t care. He was so close to sucking her exposed nipple and running his hand under her skirt that he was ready to explode in his pants.

Kiki felt his tension.

“Soon,” she said, and moved his hand like a mother pulling her tot’s paw out of the cookie jar.

Then she let go. Marcus nearly fell from the branches himself when Kiki plummeted. Having never seen anyone jump to their death before, he anticipated her popping like a blood-filled water balloon.

Kiki didn’t explode when her feet hit the ground. She landed lithely, like a cat. It happened so fast that she appeared to materialize from thin air in front of the unsuspecting couple, who jumped in fright.

Before the girl could scream, Kiki bit into her throat and ripped a bloody chunk of meat away. The boy holding her hand was showered in blood. Kiki spit dead flesh out and snarled.

Marcus clung to the tree above, gripped in terror as his formerly inevitable conquest tore the throat out of her second victim and a fountain of blood painted the ground.

The phony fanpire shut his eyes. Somebody must have laced his drink at the club and this was a hallucinogenic nightmare. But he still heard the wet sounds of the ghastly feeding frenzy below. He whimpered and shook uncontrollably.

Kiki’s head snapped up and her nostrils flared. She sprang and clung to the side of the tree like a spider, then scurried up the trunk without the aid of branches.

“No!” Marcus cried, soaking his pants with hot piss. He reached up to climb away from the rapidly approaching demon, but became struck with vertigo.

Kiki stopped just below his feet. Her teeth dripped with blood and her eyes glowed.

Was everything he had read about vampires a sugar coated lie? The gothic immortals that he fantasized about were like superheroes; not psychotic bloodthirsty devils.

Kiki tilted her head and gently touched his leg. Marcus screamed and pushed away. His plunge was fast and the ground came up hard. There was a splattering sound and some parts inside of him did pop like blood-filled balloons.

Kiki dropped and landed nimbly next to the crimson pool that was growing under Marcus. The last thing he saw was her bloody face lit by the moon and filled with emotion.

“No,” she cried, clutching his broken form to her chest.

“You would have been my perfect eternal companion…now you’re ruined.”

Kiki slid to the ground, clutching the corpse in her arms as she wept blood tears.

Dana KabelBio:  Dana C. Kabel’s stories have appeared in Otto Penzler’s KWIK KRIMES, A Twist of Noir, Bareknuckles Pulp, Black Heart Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Muzzleflash, Mysterical-E, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, Thrillers, Killers ‘N Chillers and Yellow Mama, to mention a few.  He blogs at www.thenonstopbullet.blogspot.com

5 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

Halloween Special – Heartbreaker by Chris Allinotte

scary-pumpkins

Melinda walks away again. She’s crying, again. Bile gnaws at my gut. The floor is saturated with her blood. It’s deep enough that it splashes a little under her feet.

In an amazing trick of the acoustics in here that I can hear each individual footstep despite the too-loud music coming through the walls. The neighbours are playing Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” on repeat, and it always skips just as the song gets to the climax. Over and over Pat sings “Fire Awe-weh-weh-weh-weh.” Eventually the song starts over.

As soon as the door closes behind Melinda, the phone rings. I let it. It’s George. It’s always George.

Without picking up I go into the kitchen and open the fridge. Maybe this time will be different. I wonder for the hundredth time how long I was away. There’s no way to tell except for the puff of green, stinking rot that puffs out from the refrigerator. There is nothing inside but an oozing boil that used to be a cucumber and a sandwich too far on its way to being something else to be worth putting in my mouth.

For the thousandth time I try the front door. The shiny new keyhole stares mutely back at me. I don’t have the key. I feel sure that I’ve lost it somewhere. Then I wonder if I’m only wondering that because it will eventually drive me crazy – at which point I remember that I won’t go crazy. With a nub of pencil that is more chewed eraser and sharp metal than wood, I make a mark on the wall. There are some marks above it, and there are some below it. They fade.

The phone is ringing louder now, and Pat is singing about her “real tough cookie.” When I go back to the couch, my feet track crimson across the floor. I pick up the phone. If I don’t, it will get louder and louder until my ears start to bleed. And I’ll still have to answer it.

“Hi, George.”

“My God, Eddie. Thank God you’re home.”

“What’s wrong?” My voice is flat and hoarse in my ears. I can’t even pretend to care anymore. My body remembers though. I’m sweating and my breath is coming in short quick gasps.

“There’s been an accident, man.”

“What?” I say my lines. If I don’t, George will keep saying his last words until I reply; just the same as I replied the first time. Reply. Replay. Reply. Replay. Reply.

I put my hand to my chest and feel my heart pounding. Quit it, heart. This is old business.

“It’s… Oh God, Eddie, it’s Melinda… I’m so sorry.”

“George. Slow. Down. Man.” I wish I could tape myself and just play it back. This wastes energy I’m going to need in two minutes.

Three chords pound through the wall again. Hit me with your best shot! Why don’t you …

I can’t take it anymore. Fists flailing on the wall I scream, “SHUT THE FUCK UP, BENATAR!” A pause. “No, George. Not you.”

He didn’t really respond to my outburst, he’s already well into the details of the accident.

I wait until he’s done to recite, “Stay there, George. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

The call ends.

On cue, the doorknob turns. I can hear it even over the unholy caterwauling of the Queen of Pop Rock.

Melinda walks in and in the shadows of the doorway, I know that she is broken. She shambles down the hallway on shattered legs that shouldn’t support her weight.

“We need to talk, Eddie.”

Not “Hello.”

Not “How was your day?”

Not even “Guess what happened to me today.”

It’s the same as it was the night she left; except now she comes back to show me.

How long ago was it? How long?

“Where is she, Eddie? Is she here now?” Melinda’s words are slurred. After work that night, Melinda went out with some friends, and drank wine until she was good and ready to come home.

She starts staggering toward the bedroom.

“Melinda,” I say. “Sweetheart…” My calm is gone. There’s no way to play this by rote, not with her here. “Stop. Melly, please.”

She turns her smashed face to look at me, tears mingled with blood and vitreous. I wonder with a small, perverse curiosity if the tears make it sting more.

“Don’t fucking ‘Melly’ me!” she screams, spraying red all over the wall. “How could you, Eddie?”

This is where she breaks down into silent, whole body sobs.

Fire Aweh-weh-weh-weh-weh-weh-weh…

For the millionth time, I swallow the lump in my throat and walk over to her. She’ll stand there forever, leaking gore and misery onto the back of the sofa; until I say what I must; until I say what I said that night.

“Melinda,” I start, walking toward her “It was a horrible mistake.” I’ve tried different words, different tone, different gestures. Nothing changes.

Get away from me,” she shouts, still sobbing.

I want to take her in my arms and bury my face in her clotted hair. I want to brush it aside and smell her skin. Somewhere under the carnage is the woman I’ve spent the last dozen years of my life with. Everything is my fault; everything. My dead wife stands in the living room, and the bedroom sheets still smell like her best friend.

“I’m going, Eddie,” Melinda raises her head. She’s as composed as she can be. “Don’t call me.”

And that’s it.

I didn’t stop her. I didn’t leave her with the apartment. And I didn’t, didn’t, DIDN’T say “Don’t drive.”

It’s my fault. My legs go limp and I’m kneeling on the floor, watching. Sick as it is, I want a drink.

That is the only thing that is different from the way it happened the first time. Ever since I woke up on the couch to the ringing of the phone, and the screeching of the Benatar, the liquor bottles have been all empty, and there are no pills in the bathroom.

After all, I wouldn’t want to do anything rash. Not again.

I miss my Melly.

“You come on with a come on, you don’t fight fair…”

Melinda walks away again. She’s crying, again. Bile gnaws my guts. The floor is coated in her blood. It’s deep enough that it splashes a little under her feet.

Chris AllinotteBio:  Chris Allinotte lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where winters hit minus forty (Celsius) below zero. His next few stories will probably involve being very cold.

Catch up with Chris at facebook.com/Chris.Allinotte.Author, or get a huge dose of his short fiction in the collection “Gathering Darkness”, available wherever E-books are sold.

23 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

Chekhov’s Rule by Aj Hayes

ACT 1

Mummy and Daddy were strange ducks. I thought the things they did to me were normal. Our house was a museum. Relics from famous murderers were their passion. The center of their collection was Lizzie Borden’s ax. It hung, shining brightly, over the mantelpiece.  They also admired the fine collection of scars they placed on my body with their various instruments over the years.

When I finally escaped to college, I hid their scars under my clothing. I hid my screams within my mind.

ACT 2

When I returned, with a degree in drama, the first thing I saw when I walked through the door was the ax in its proper place over the fire. Later, after their twittering welcome home, I told them I was tired from the train ride and went upstairs. After the house grew quiet with sleep, I went to work with Chekhov’s Rule singing in my head.. I did change the script slightly. Mummy was much fatter than Daddy so she got the forty-one whacks and he the forty.

Act 3

There is no act three.

Aj HayesBio:

AJ Hayes lives in Southern California and finds it a fertile field

for all things weird, wonderful and just plain out WTF.

16 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

The Wisteria Don by James Zahardis

Carlo the Wisteria Don had an odd way, an odd way of severing ‘business’ relationships.

He would eat lunch on Wednesdays on a strip of smudgy green behind the Riverhead McDonalds; he liked this spot because it overlooked the Peconic River and was within earshot of the county jail (and he swore he could hear when snitches were talking about him in its rec’ yard).

He turned to Spartan. “Why the hell you start calling me the Wisteria Don, Spartan? Now all the boys are calling me that! It’s stupid-as-fuck!”

“It’s cuzza the flower–”

“–The flower?!”

“Yeah, ya know, Carlo, the wisteria. It’s like a vine with purple flowers, sorta looks like grapes–”

“–So you named me after a flower that looks like a bunch of grapes?!”

“No Carlo, not cuzza how it looks, but what it does. Yaya (God rest her soul) lived over on Sheep Pasture Road, over by the Greek Orthodox Church; she planted one by an oak tree in the front yard–little floppy thing–looked like a limp dick. A few years later–thicker than my motherfuckin’ arm–No! Fuckin’ thicker than a python–wrapped that oak up–like a fuckin’ yoke hold on the neck–squeezed it dry,” Spartan said, taking a bite of a Big Mac. “Last time I drived by it was still there, yokin’ the shit outta that tree, holdin’ it up, dead as a doornail.”

“So?”

“Don’t’cha get it, Carlo? You’re just like that vine: You worked for Flynn–sellin’ a little, runnin’ a little this ‘n’ that, but he never paid you no mind. The old man was gettin’ hazy–probably samplin’ the goods–not makin’ the right connects when the Latinos rolled in–losin’ much respect. So you stepped up and did what hadda be done. Did what everyone else was thinking about doin’, but didn’t have the cojones to do.”

***

Two weeks pass, the 4th of July weekend: The pungent odor of nitrate wafted in the air as green and gold fallout faded into a haze suspended over the Long Island Sound. Carlo and Spartan dangled barbed, squid-enshrouded hooks over the side of a yacht into thirty feet of tepid water, fishing for porgies and fluke. The crepuscular sky darkened, almost as a startled jolt, an unseemly seamless transition to night-proper as the nocturne breezes stirred and the intensity of the fireworks waxed.

Spartan lifted a ham-and-cheese on rye to his gaping maw; he tried to ignore the smell on his hand as he bit down. Fireworks resounded and reverberated, resounded and reverberated orgasmically. There was a crack and a thud, a wet/hot sensation that penetrated deeply into Spartan’s back, then another crack and thud, and another, another…

Spartan looked down, down at a tragicomic scene cast in sepia: he was a toddler, on his grandmother’s porch; she was crying out as he put a penny in his mouth, “Don’t eat that!” A taste of copper and salt on his tongue, filling his mouth with warmth…and copper, fadingly…

“A flower–A FLOWER?!” Carlo exclaimed.

***

Gina, former college cheerleader, turned coke-whore tried diligently not to slur her words as she spoke. “I know he keeps at least fifty large in the house and heard on the down-low that he’ll be in the city all weekend–for sure…but that fucking safe!”

Ray’s eyes devoured her body. “Still kinda hot, no wonder Carlo usta be hittin’ that ass,” he thought. “Look, doll, my boy Miami can crack any safe there is,” he said.

Miami smiled, his right gold canine tooth flashing. “Yeah, you just need to get us past them motherfuckin’ pit bulls,” he added.

Gina smiled her gummy, snaggled smile, “They know me, that wouldn’t be a problem if…if…”

“Cut the shit, bitch! Just say how fuckin’ much?!”

“Three G’s,” Gina responded coyly.

“Yeah, right. A half piece, good shit–and me and my boy here get to run a train on that fine ass,” Ray said.

“Bet that up!” Miami added. He and Ray fist bumped.

Gina smiled her gummy, snaggled smile.

***

Brilliant-liquid moonlight filtered through the bay window illuminating the pair of degenerate figures hunched in front of a wall safe. Miami’s left eye looked into a borescope, his right eye was fixed on the dial, the dial that he turned painstakingly.

Ray leaned forward and whispered, “Remind me never to give some sell-out bitch a copy of keys to my house.”

“You got that shit right, cuz. Feel almost bad for the man–almost…Hey, speakin’ of bitches…”

“Shouldn’t class the dogs with that whore. They were still on the patio last I checked–damn, bro, this shit is taking longer than usual,” Ray said nervously.

“I’m an artist–you wouldn’t rush Michael motherfuckin’ Angelo, would you?” Miami retorted.

There was a nearly imperceptible click. Miami cracked opened the door to the vault of the wall safe; his gold canine flashed, then faded. “Oh, that’s fucked up. That’s so fucked up!”

“Keep it down, man. What’s fucked up?” Ray whispered, leaning forward over his partner’s shoulder.

“Shit is empty, cuz. Dumbass bitch was seriously misinformed,” Miami concluded glumly. He descried a small, folded over piece of paper deep in the vault, which he reached for, unfolded, and read silently in the moonlight:

20 Large for your partner and the cunt

More jobs up your alley soon

Riverhead McD Weds 2

Carlo

PS. Touch the dogs I gut you myself

“What the fuck’s it say?” Ray asked.

Miami’s gold canine flashed; he felt the weight of his 9mm spanning his left hip and waist; he remembered its silencer.

Carlo the Wisteria Don had an odd way, an odd way of initiating ‘business’ relationships.

James ZBio: James Zahardis has recently begun to write genre fiction. His stories have been published in 365 Tomorrows and Flashes in the Dark.  He holds a PhD from the University of Vermont in Chemistry (2008) where he is currently employed as a research scientist and lecturer.

4 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

Updates…

Hello readers and writers.

The magazine has gone from strength to strength since it opened back in April/May.  In six months it has garnered many followers and over 8000 views, which I think is amazing for a new magazine.  So, it’s a huge thanks to you guys for supporting the mag during the past months.  Long may it continue.

As from today the magazine is going to be posting a new story every 3-4 days.  There are still a few stories awaiting publication so I’m hoping to clear that backlog ASAP.  Then *drum roll* submissions will be opening again.

scary-pumpkinsSpeaking of submissions, if anyone has a horror story within the 1000 word count, please feel free to send it over.  I’m looking at doing a Halloween special and posting a horror story every night for the week up until Halloween.  Send stories to tkncsubs@gmail.com with HALLOWEEN SUBMISSION in the subject line.

Gritty Santa.112I am also going to be looking for Christmas themed stories for the month of December.  Christmas isn’t always a joyous time of the year.  The badder the Santa the better.  All genres are encouraged.

 

So, if all the above goes to plan, I’ll be looking at opening submissions within the next 2 weeks.  Keep an eye on the SUBMISSIONS page.

There are also some great ideas for future projects, which will include competitions and (time permitting) an e-book or 2.  Those will all be for 2014 and more details will follow.

Thanks again for your continued support.

David.

Leave a comment

Filed under Information