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Monday, May 29

Funeral Dirge

Funeral Dirge
Flash Fiction
by Sandra Seamans

John Carstairs sat quietly in the courtroom, wrapped in grief, as the witness testified.

Cheryl, his little girl, was gone. His golden angel, who smothered his face with kisses when he tucked her into bed at night, lost. No more smiles full of hope. No more sunshiny giggles.

"Of course I shot that stupid bitch," said the thirteen-year-old defendant. "She stole my boyfriend."

John stared at the girl on the witness stand. Piercings and tattoos blemished the pale skin that wasn't draped in black clothing. Black hair, black nail polish, black lipstick. The newspapers called it the Gothic look. John saw it for what it was...funeral attire. The death of his child.

John sobbed as Cheryl left the stand. What parenting rule had he missed? What had he done so wrong that his daughter could take a life without a second thought?


Sandra's fiction has been published in Crime and Suspense, A Cruel World, and Flashing in the Gutters.

Thursday, May 25

Would You Like Some Wine?

"Would You Like Some Wine?"
Short fiction - Crime
by Meleta McHarlin

"Mmm." My head rolled back and forth. Pain increased with each swing, sloshing brain against skull. "Mmm." Vibration on the raw, torn flesh of my throat brought the realization it was I who had groaned.

"Hey, I'll be right there." A voice floated somewhere in the darkness. "You're finally waking up, huh?"

Cold sucked my attention. Numbness veined its way from my finger tips and toes toward my core. Instinct instructed me to warm them, to cover or rub them, but my limbs would not respond. Gauzy hazes weaved through my mind.

The squeak of sneakers on tile, and the sweep of cloth, approached. Warmth shot through my wrist. "Your pulse is good. We took you off the ventilator this morning." Visions of large machines hooked up to dying people, the rhythmic rise and fall of their chests controlled by the flick of a switch, flashed in my mind

"Mmm," pushed through my bloated mouth, the metallic taste of bile blended with blood reached my lips.

"Yeah, I'd imagine you're hurting pretty good right now. The drugs are beginning to wear off. The doctors had to give you a medication that paralyzed your muscles so they could even get a tube down your throat. They tell me you were in pretty bad shape. They said you almost didn't make it, that you stopped breathing. They said..."

The voice faded behind the screams in my head. What are you talking about? This can't be happening! How did I get here?. What do you mean ventilator? You stuck a tube down my throat? You paralyzed me? Are you insane? Omigod, I stopped breathing! Do I have brain damage? Omigod, oh MY GOD, OH MY GOD.

"Open your eyes, sweetie, the doctors are here to check on you." The voice slapped me out of my mental hysteria. Alien and grainy objects blurred before my eyes. Blue and white light pounded my brain. Three fuzzy-edged figures entered and, as if they feared contagion, stopped on the far side of the room. Sunlight illuminated their white coats. Artificial auras engulfed the wanna-be-gods. I couldn't focus. Their faces were undefined--only dark holes where mouths and eyes should have been. Their condescending words and expensive colognes floated across the canyon between us. Without energy or the desire to fight, a drug induced indifference washed over me. The doctors continued to prattle. I fell asleep.

The musical blip of the heart monitor welcomed me back to consciousness. The doctors were gone. The quiet and darkness soothed my mind. Maybe now I could think. Maybe now I could remember.

Squinting into the dimness, I saw a familiar face. "You're awake," he whispered.

I tried to respond. Red-hot agony seared my throat. Only dry gasps of air came out.

"Don‚t try to talk." He hovered close. A hint of garlic and cigarettes. "In fact, the doctors say you may never be able to talk again. Attempting suicide by drinking acid. What were you thinking?" He pulled back. The heart monitor's digital green readout reflecting off his accusing eyes. Slowly, his index finger raised as a look of fake recollection crossed his now smiling features. "Oh. That's right. I put the acid in your wine." He playfully slapped my thigh. "Silly me. Now I remember."

Walking around the bed, his hand gliding down my leg to my foot and up to my other thigh. His gaze never left mine. My mind turned somersaults. Wine? I remember wine. I remember smiling and laughing then--I remember--pain!

"The doctors say I can take you home tomorrow." He bent close and rested his cheek against mine. His skin lay hot against my exposed flesh. Shivers radiated through my body. I wrenched my head away. Throbbing raced behind my eyes. I needed to hold my head. I needed to stop the pain. I needed to get away. My arms wouldn't move. Straps. Leather straps.

He whispered in my ear, "Won't that be fun?"

Monday, May 22

East

"East"
Short Fiction - Literary
by William Dollear

Sunrise approached. From his garden apartment, James watched without being seen. He was lucky her dorm room faced east and him.

The curtain opened. His heartbeat quickened.

She stood at the window wearing the purple camisole he sent her. He sent such apparel weekly along with perfume and poetry.

She stretched out her arms. Her first class, Introduction to Literature, was at 9:30. He taught that class. She was his star student. She was impressed with more than his Pulitzer Prize.
He watched her as she slowly undid the camisole, pulling in a virgin way the small silk strings at the top. Breasts revealed. She stepped out of her thong. Now completely naked. She had long brown hair. He longed to kiss each strand.

She could not see him. He knew, though, she was thinking of him. Her hand reached down in a slow, secret way. She reached down, until....

"Is that like, okay, Jim? I mean, I gotta go, unless you wanna pay for, like, another half an hour?"

"No, that was fine," he said.

Cathy, the table top titty dancer, replaced the young coed. She removed the brown wig, revealing bright painted white hair. This signaled it was over.

Jim was the only customer in the dark, beer drenched titty bar. He paid Cathy and returned to his janitor job in the girls' dormitory.

Thursday, May 18

The Velvet Box

"The Velvet Box"
Flash Fiction
by Kelli Pliner

The velvet box was coated with a thin layer of dust. Over time the particles had worked the way into the groves between the velvet fabric. The box had sat on that dresser for the days and weeks since he had bought it. Those weeks had quickly become months and now, every time Neil entered the room, the box would stare him down, not releasing itself from his knowledge.

This particular day, Neil had been sitting on the bed all morning, hoping to get up the courage, the courage that he has lacked since he first knew what was written in his heart.

His dark brown eyes focused intensely on the box, but his mind was elsewhere; floating in and out of memory. The room changed hues many times over as his mind flashed through its memories of the moments most precious to him. The images began to melt into each other and then, from nowhere, a soft hint of jasmine filled the air, shocking Neil to break his eyes away from the box and causing the room to return to its true state.

His eyes refocused themselves and for the first time, he saw what had been hidden from him for so long. He stood and with careful, tender steps, walked toward the dresser and the velvet box. As if it had a mind of its own, his hand reached out for the box. It hovered a moment, in uncertainty. Neil closed his eyes. His mind turned to her. Her face, her smile, her eyes. Those eyes…those beautiful dark eyes. The eyes that whenever you gazed into them, they read your very soul.

Neil felt his fingers close around the velvet box and lift it from the dresser. Eyes opened in a daze, Neil walked steadily down the hall, passed others who were there, and into the room where she lay, asleep. With the gentleness of love, he opened the velvet box, and placed the ring on her finger. When she awoke, she would know for certain, the love that he held for her. He tenderly kissed her hand, touched her hair, and without a sound, stood and closed the door.

Monday, May 15

The F-Word

"The F-Word"
Short Fiction - Humor
by Stacie Penney

"Mom, what does 'fuck' mean?"

My hands froze in the soapy water at Bryan's question. I dismissed my first thought, surely that isn't a spelling word, and forced myself to continue scrubbing the pan that I had used for cheesy hashbrowns. Bryan's favorite, in fact.

"Where did you see that word?" I thought my voice hit that right note of neutrality, but Bryan wasn't fooled.

"Is it a bad word?"

"Some people think it is."

"Do you think it is?"

Words have power, something that my eight-year-old had learned as a toddler. Was I ready for him to understand the power that "fuck" has over some people?

"Yes, I do. That's why you've never heard me say it. Have you heard Dad say it?" I kept washing the dishes and my back to him.

Bryan made a noise that might have been yes or no. Protecting his source was a habit he acquired after his class produced an edition of the school newspaper, The Eagle Gazette.

I shifted my weight from one side to the other. A chunk of cheese stuck to the bottom of the pan. I scrubbed, but without any conviction. My next words needed to be chosen carefully and I doubted that I'd get it right the first time.

"Moms and dads have a special relationship and they show that sometimes."

Bryan interrupted my plodding speech. "You mean sex."

My jaw dropped. I let the water drain from the sink and filled the stubborn pan with hot water. It could wait. Bryan couldn't.

"Where did you learn about sex?" I pulled out the chair next to his and sat down. He kept staring at his spelling words.

"I don't know. Around, I guess. It's like what happens after kissing and stuff, right?"

"But only between moms and dads. After they are married." I wasn't above lying to my kids when necessary.

"But why is it a bad word? Sex isn't a bad word. Or is it?"

Explaining good and bad wasn't any easier than explaining sex. I had a book that explained sex. Why couldn't the conversation have stuck with sex?

"Some people think that it's a bad word. Not sex, but the other one. The F-word." I practically saw the light bulb turn on above Bryan's head as he connected recent events.

"Moms and dads have special relationships. The f-word isn't a good way to think about that relationship so people say it's a bad word. That's why you never hear me or Dad use it."

Bryan snickered. Looks like his dad and I will be having a talk soon.

"Where did you hear it, Bryan?"

It was his turn to squirm. I must have told him enough that he realized that wasn't going to get in trouble, even if someone else had.

"Josh's brother said it. Josh said it to me. But I didn't know what it meant. I thought it was something that you said when you were mad, like how Dad says 'shit' when he drops one of his tools."

Definitely needed to talk to his father.

"It gets used for a lot of reasons by different people. In this house though, we don't use it."

"Better mention that to Dad."

I ruffled Bryan's hair. "How about those spelling words, pal?"

Crisis diverted.

Thursday, May 11

Dinner

"Dinner
Short Fiction - Humor
by Andre Benavidez

Wavy hair. Perky breasts. Glazed, tanned skin. Sweet, succulent sweat dripping down her brow. She's perfect--she's beautiful. My finest yet. Everything had to go right tonight. I checked the oven. Just a few more minutes until the timer was up. "I love you," I said as I set the utensils on the table. She didn't respond, but I knew her eyes were returning the favor.

Of course, it wasn't without months of courtship that I would have gotten to this point. She was, needless to say, a patron of the finer things in life. Took care of herself, worked out, bought herself nice things, you can understand--she was someone who was untouched by the working world, a classy gem who kept her hands clean of any kind of labor, making a career out of batted eyelashes. I bought her anything and everything she could ever dream of. Countless shopping sprees, extravagant dinners, days at the spa and in the tanning booths. I particularly liked the tanning booths. It was as if they'd make my job easier, I suppose.

So, to her I gave endless expenditures of material wealth, and I was blessed with her company. And that was all I needed. I couldn't get enough of her, her powerful legs supporting the slender curves of her hips joining her full breasts up to her chiseled clavicle all glorifying her beautiful face. Her face--I‚ll save that for last.

Tonight. Tonight's a special night. The night we finally come together, her into me, and I can finally taste the fruits of our relationship. Yes. 2002 Rosella Pinot Grigiot. It'll go perfect with dinner. I refuse to believe she would have wanted it any other way. To her, I may have been a bank account with no credit limit. The oven's ringing--supper's ready. To me, though, she is so much more. A beautiful work of art, a diamond in the rough, more importantly--very rare. Yes, to me, she's much more than a piece of ass--she's grade A, top choice meat. Bon Apetit.

Born in the mountains of Colorado and raised by wolves really isn't an accurate depiction of Andre Benavidez's youth and upbringing. Actually, he's a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently working towards his bachelor's in English.

Monday, May 8

First Day on the Job

"First Day on the Job"
Short Fiction - Literary
by Mike Miller

Pop.

"Throw that gum away."

"Why? It's going to be our house for the next four years. I'm not going to stop chewing gum for four years just because you got a stupid new job."

"Come on. I'm President now. It's not like I'm starting a new job at McDonalds."

"Holly, just listen to mom."

"Shut up, Beth. She's not my mom."

"Keep your gum. Your gum is the least of my concerns right now."

"That's the way to hold to your guns, Sue," Holly said. "Iran and China are just going to love you."

The limousine stopped in front of the white house. A million light bulbs flashed. The normal media and all of the tabloids fought for position. The men in black opened the car door while glaring at the crowd.

Sue exited first and walked with a practiced wave toward the podium. Holly and Beth followed. An old man with a few remaining grey hairs shook Sue's hand and pulled her close to whisper in her ear.

"Who is that?"

"That's Beth and Holly."

"We know your daughter. Who's the twit blowing bubbles? Please tell me it isn't true."

Sue had no answer. The old man stepped to the microphone and announced that the press conference would start in just a few more minutes. He dragged her into the White House and through the halls with several other men wearing nice suits in tow.

"I understand why you hid her. I don't know how you did it, but I understand. A secret like that would have kept you out of office. Now that you are in, we need to know everything."

"Well, Beth graduated from high school last summer."

"Not Beth. We know all about your daughter. The chick with the gum. Who is she?"

"Like I was saying, Beth graduated from high school last summer. We had a party for a bunch of her friends. Holly showed up and barely talked to anyone. I went over to see if she was okay and we started talking. We went on a couple of dates and just hit it off. So, if you're looking for a label, she's my girlfriend. Any more questions?"

The men had no reply. Sue turned her attention back.

"If you ever interrupt me like that again, Roger, I'm going to fire you. I'm the President. You are my advisor. If you'll excuse me, I have a press conference to attend."

Thursday, May 4

Rejected Openings of Mikey Spillane

"Rejected Openings of Mikey Spillane"
Flash Fiction
by William Dollear

"She had big breasts." No, that's not right. "Her breasts were bigger than Chryslers." Yeah. "Her breasts were bigger than Chryslers and drove better." No. I don't wanna lose a Chrysler endorsement. "Her breasts entered the room before she did." Hell, that isn't special. "Her breasts entered the room like Gabrielle's trumpets." Too Catholic. "If breasts could talk, hers would say, 'What the hell are you staring at?'" Breasts would never say that. "She had the kind of breasts that said, Come hither." Naaaaahh. Too fruity. "Her breasts beckoned me to thy knees." Too Shakespeare. "He looked up." Yeah, get the guy in there first. "He looked up and thought it was a solar eclipse because her breasts blocked out the sun." No, better to start with the boobs. "Her boobs..." oops, "Her breasts were like Kilimanjaro and Mt. Everest in need of a climber and I was wearing my climbing boots." Too much like that punk, whatshisname, Hemmingway. "Her breasts were like two Sherman tanks ready to fire, aimed right at me, and I was a willing victim." Already used. "Her bosoms reminded me of Sister Anna, my sixth grade teacher." No, that's sick. "Her breasts reminded me of Vegas. I'd sure like to play blackjack on her tables." Getting there. "Her breasts were like the Empire State Building and I was feeling like King Kong." Aw, the hell with it. "She had big tits."

William Dollear is a writer and teacher from Illinois. This story made the short list of 20 out of 1500 submissions to the Fish Publishing contest.

Tuesday, May 2

OL_NICK1066

"OL_NICK1066"
Flash Fiction
by lejnd

I chatted with the devil last night.

While I was waiting for an online friend to log on, an invitation popped up on my instant messenger to talk with somebody calling themselves “OL_NICK1066.” Thinking it was a joke from one of my friends, I accepted.

OL_NICK1066 immediately sent me a message: I hear you’ve been looking for me.

Me: I don’t even know who you are.

NICK: Look at my name and avatar. You know me.

His avatar was a classic picture of a red devil, complete with horns, pointy tail, and pitchfork.

Me: LOL. So you’re the devil?

NICK: ;-)

I decided to play along.

Me: You said I’d been looking for you?

NICK: You have, haven’t you?

Me: Why would I want to meet the devil?

NICK: The wish.

Suddenly the joke wasn’t funny anymore. “Who is this guy and how does he know?” I thought. For you see I have a wish; a desire that’s been consuming me for weeks. But desire isn’t the right word. Desire makes it sound frivolous; something I want but could live without. It’s deeper than that. It’s a yearning, a need; but an impossible one. Something that can never happen. Something for which I’d give my life if I could.

NICK: I can make it happen.

NICK: Are you willing to pay the price?

NICK: It’s not your life I want.

I’m meeting “OL_NICK1066” online tonight to give him my answer.

Check out the flash fiction contest going on now here. You have until midnight, May 3rd to enter.