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Monday, January 28

How the Curse Was Broken

"How the Curse Was Broken"
Short Fiction - Contemporary Fantasy
By Michael Frissore

March 2004
Newton Highlands, MA

When Tim entered the apartment, he smelled smoke and heard bizarre chanting. Not that any chanting isn’t bizarre.

“Oh, my God!” Tim screamed. Pat, his roommate, was putting Tim’s cat into a giant, smoking bowl. The kind a witch would use.

“What the hell are you doing?” Tim shouted.

“Oh, hey, Tim,” Pat said. “Yeah, I’m just making a sacrifice.”

“Oh, well, okay, then,” Tim said, walking away. “Wait a minute,” he stopped and rushed to grab the cat before it was too late. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“It’s a sacrifice to the gods of the game.”

“Uh-huh, which game? Sorry? Candyland? Chinese Checkers?”

“Baseball,” he said as he began chanting.

“What, again?” Tim said. “Will you please stop with this?”

Tim had been through this many times with his roomy. Pat was one of those strange Boston sports fans, especially of the Red Sox. He would chant, “Yankees suck” in his sleep. It bothered Tim that you couldn’t go to any event in New England, sporting or not, and not have this chant start. When they built the Leonard Zakim Bridge, Pat wrote letters requesting that they call it “The Yankees Suck and Derek Jeter Swallows Memorial Bridge.”

Pat had gone through ridiculous lengths to break what Tim believed was a fictitious curse, the Curse of the Bambino, including actually traveling to Hawthorne, NY, where Babe Ruth is buried, to dig him up in order the break this curse. For weeks Tim had been trying to tell him that there is no curse, and that this could be the year. They got Curt Shilling, after all.

“This sacrifice,” Pat said. “Is in order to break the Curse of the Bambino. It’s gonna be wicked pissa.”

“Dude,” Tim said. “We’ve been over this. There is no curse.”

“Eighty-six years!” Pat chanted. “Harry Frazee! Bill Buckner!”

“Listen, Patrick,” Tim said. “Babe Ruth was a drunk. He couldn’t put on his own pants half of the time, let alone a hex on an entire baseball franchise. And, if he could, the only recipients would be the bars that closed after 2 a.m. And even if there was a curse, didn’t his niece or someone officially lift the curse a few years ago?”

“She doesn’t have that power.”

“Oh, I see. But a fat, dead, drunk guy who can hit a baseball does. Well, maybe you’re right. The curse of Susan Lucci was lifted. Hey, when you’re done, do you think you could break the curse of the Cat People for me?”

Suddenly, a large puff of smoke erupted and Tim thought he could see the ghost of Babe Ruth coming out of it. There were voices as Tim and Pat stood in amazement. Then it all stopped, and there were just little smoke clouds left.

“Wait,” Pat said. “Who’s Susan Lucci?”

“Not important. Holy shit. You’re a witch.”

“A warlock, thank you.”

“So, you’re like Paul Lynde in Bewitched.”

“Hey!”

“I don’t mean that way. Why didn’t you tell me this?”

“They burn witches in this town, Timmy.”

“In the seventeenth century. Not now.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, they never burned Elizabeth Montgomery. Hey, can you grant me three wishes?”

“I’m not a genie, you ass.”

“Okay, I just…”

“That’s a far inferior show.”

“I agree, but…”

Just then a gang of unruly Puritans busted the door down, poured gasoline all over Pat, and lit him on fire. All Tim could do was stand and watch. They chanted and danced around Pat’s flaming body and left. Tim then ran to get the fire extinguisher until he realized they didn’t have one. When the flame died out, Tim stood before his friend’s charred body.

Seven months later, when the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918, Tim tried to spread the word about Pat being the one who broke the curse. But no one would listen. So he just got wicked hammered for his old pal and chanted, “Yankees suck!”

Michael Frissore's short prose has appeared in The Cerebral Catalyst, LitBits, Fictionville, Triptych and elsewhere. He's even landed a little poetry in Clockwise Cat, Red Fez and Right Hand Pointing. He was born in Massachusetts and now lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife.

Thursday, January 24

Fighting the Good Fight

"Fighting the Good Fight"
Short Fiction - Fantasy
by Rod Drake

The old windmill loomed in the rapidly falling dusk, the only structure on the red-streaked horizon. We were speeding our way towards it through the endless ranks of demon warriors running towards it, this impromptu Armageddon. Tension was so thick in our battered van that it could be cut with a knife, or more accurately, a demon’s razor claw.

The four of us had been through heaven and hell, to coin a phrase, in our pursuit of the weapons that we needed to stop the great dark evil from this infernal purpose. That windmill we were getting close to was going to be the site of a battle between the forces of Good and Evil not unlike the one in heaven when Lucifer was cast out.

But this time it’s we mere mortals against an immortal and limitless dark army. Somehow it has fallen to us to make the stand, to hold the line, to save the world (just as long as there is no pressure). Hopefully we can beat the demons to the windmill.

The windmill was closer now, and my team was as ready as they would ever be. Father Merrin had blessed weapons of antiquity strapped and belted all over him like some Christian commando, intoning a litany to calm himself. Gabriel gripped the Sword of Azrael so tightly that his hands were white, but his smile was full of youthful confidence and “game on.” Beth trying to figure out how this suit of holy armor that can shine with the Light of Divine Retribution in the heat of battle, fit her so perfectly like a second skin; He moves in mysterious ways, I tell her with an ironic smile.

She would laugh, but I can see that the endless rows of demons we are driving ahead of have taken her sense of humor away. But she and her armor will be ready when we make our stand. She gives me a crooked half-grin. I can see the barely controlled panic in her blue eyes.

Of course, it all comes down to me in the end. I possess the secret weapon, the trump card. More on that later.

We are still ahead, but barely, of the running demons-beyond-number, who are restless for this confrontation, to tip the balance for evil incarnate. We can see in their burning eyes the presence of their dark lord, and the desire to shred our soft bodies into so much chaff in the wind.

Our van skids to a stop, reaching the foot of the windmill first, its blades slowly spinning in the gentle breeze. We jump out, facing an advancing multitude of inhuman hate and rage. They raise their weapons over their horned heads and yell their war cry. The ground shakes from the sound. They are maybe 200 feet away.

It has come down to this. What we do here and now in the next few minutes could save the world. We’re its only chance.

We make a line of defense, weapons ready, the windmill under our protection, even though we don’t know what Divine Instrument resides within. But then that’s His Way, so we just focus on our task.

I can feel my team’s resolve as insurmountable odds rush toward us. They have played their part, played it well and with courage in previous skirmishes, but this final battle belongs to me.

I am calm and ready now. The first wave of demons is within 100 feet of us now. I possess the secret weapon. I know and can speak the One True Name of God. Nothing evil can hear it and live. Nothing. That is the ancient belief. I hope it’s true.

The demons are here, so I throw back my head and shout the Name.

Rod Drake lives, observes, thinks and writes in the neon capital known as Las Vegas. Check out Rod's longer stories posted in Six Sentences, Flashes of Speculation, Flash Forward, MicroHorror and AcmeShorts.