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Monday, December 15


Short Fiction - Paranormal
by Rod Drake

A group of children, between 6 and 8 years old, gathered at the edge of the woods located far behind the housing development in which they lived. A pitiful little hole had been clumsily dug, and they stood in a loose circle around it.

Carl, a stringbean with a stubborn cow-lick, nudged one of the boys, muttering, “Say something.”

George, a chubby little boy, said, “Alright. Well, we’re here to bury Patches. Patches was a good cat and we all liked him, and . . . and . . .”

Billie, a sturdy red-haired girl of 7, whose cat it was, added, “And we will miss him. And he wouldn’t have gotten run over if Tommy’s stupid brother didn’t drive so fast!”

They all nodded in silence. Tommy’s face flushed red.

“Billie,” George broke the tension, “pick Patches up. Eugene, the box.” It was a shoe box for a pair of boots, now Patches’ eternal cardboard casket.

Patches’ body was definitely a car accident victim. They kids had tried to clean him up a little with the garden hose, but it didn’t help much.

Billie stood holding the stiff cat out in her hands gingerly while everyone else took their last looks at Patches. But Billie didn’t move, didn’t put the cat in the box that Eugene was so patiently holding. Billie was staring at something, so the kids all turned to see what it was.

It was Marley. She was standing 30 feet away, watching them silently.

Marley was an odd little girl, not one of the group, or anyone’s group for that matter. She kept to herself in her big old house outside the new development. At school kids avoided her, and she didn’t seem to mind. She had the palest skin, the darkest hair and large, inquiring green eyes that seem to bore into you. She was very thin, small for 8 and spoke little, usually on the strangest subjects.

“Come join us,” George said, trying to be friendly. Everyone else shot him daggers and hoped she would go away. She was spooky.

Marley walked quietly over to the circle. She studied the suspended cat for a moment then asked Billie, in a flat voice, “Did you kill it?”

“No!” Billie yelled, “I loved him.”

“Do you want him alive again?” Marley’s statement just hung there in the suddenly cold April air. No one moved or hardly even breathed.

Billie was taken aback. “Of course. But he’s dead. He’s gone to heaven.”

Marley looked slowly at each of the children in turn before Billie. “I can bring him back to life.”

“No you can’t,” replied Billie, and the other kids laughed uneasily.

Marley nodded, and the sun vanished behind a dark cloud. “I can. But if I do, his true feelings will come out. All the mistreatment he suffered in life will be remembered.”

“I never mistreated him. I just punished him when he was naughty.” The other kids looked away because they knew how Billie treated Patches, how she kept him tied up and how he was run over the one time he escaped. Patches was the latest in a long line of Billie’s pets.

When Billie saw how the others were acting, she yelled in anger, “Well then, do it, bring Patches back if you can, which you can’t, ‘cause you’re a big liar and a . . . freak!”

Marley extended her slender fingers, and everyone felt something like a low voltage of electricity sweep over their bodies while the area around them darkened and thickened in an odd, unsettling way. Marley’s eyes opened wide, and she froze eerily for a moment.

Patches wriggled to life, its fur standing up, hissing horribly and turned in Billie’s hands to slash at her face with its sharp claws. Billie screamed, dropping the cat. Patches ripped at Billie’s exposed legs in a frenzy of violence, while the other kids fell over themselves trying to get away. Then Patches took off, vanishing in the woods.

From the ground, the kids and Billie, who was moaning and bleeding profusely from deep gashes, looked up at Marley. She just smiled and walked back to her house, humming some ancient melody.

Rod Drake wonders what Stephen King is doing right now. Check out Rod's other stories posted in Six Sentences, Powder Burn Flash, Flashes of Speculation, Flash Forward, MicroHorror and AcmeShorts.

Retreat Rules

"Retreat Rules"
Flash Fiction
by Bill Dollear

Welcome to the Leadership/Coaching/Life Retreat. The following rules must be obeyed at all times:

Rule No. 1: No alcoholic beverages may be consumed on the retreat grounds.

Rule No. 2: No Michael Bolton nor Tony Orlando and Dawn songs may be played, sung, or hummed.

Rule No. 3: Do not rearrange the furniture as it has been played psychometrically in a fun fen shuy way.

Rule No. 4: Do not alter the climate control. It has been scientifically set to similar climate conditions of the world's greatest leaders: Julius Cesar, Abraham Lincoln, and Oprah Winfrey.

Rule No. 5: No intimate relations between retreat members will be allowed.

Rule No. 6: Ignore Rule No. 5.

Rule No. 7: Only kidding.

Rule No. 8: You must discover which rule we are kidding about: Rule No. 6 or Rule No. 7.

Rule No. 9: No one may use the washroom between the hours of 5AM and midnight.

Rule No. 10: No one may use the washroom between the hours of midnight and 5AM.

Rule No. 11: No television, cell phones, nor laptops nor any online services are permitted.

Rule No. 12: All announcements must be obeyed. Announcements will be sent via e-mail.

Rule No. 13: Proper attire must be worn at all times. Attendees are not permited to wear pasties, see through red silk lingerie, black silk fish net stockings, nore candy flavored panties. This applies to the female attendees also.

Rule No. 14: Shoes must be worn at all times. This applies to everyone, including those from Indiana.

Rule No. 15: Please take away from this experience a new heart, a new conscious, a new view, yet not the bathroom towels.

Another Slice

"Another Slice"
Short Fiction - Crime
by R.J. Mangahas

Jake turned up his collar as the red orbs of the bus's tail lights faded into the rainy night. Slinging his duffel over his shoulder, he entered the diner with the burned out 'n' in the neon sign. Inside a big bear of a man, probably a trucker, sat at the counter. A waitress was bringing a check to a couple sitting in one of the booths.

Jake set down his bag and sat at the counter. The big man at the other end gave him a polite nod. Jake returned it, flipped over the coffee cup in front of him and picked up a menu.

After a stop at the register, the waitress, whose tag read 'Sheri', came over to Jake, a pot of coffee in each hand.

"Fill ya up there?"

"Sure," Jake said.

"High test or decaf?"

"High test."

"Something nasty out there, huh?" Sheri said as she poured the coffee.

"What's that?"

"The weather. Pretty nasty."

"Sure is." It had been awhile since Jake had seen weather, or anything for that matter, from the outside world.

"Did you want something to eat? We have a great smoke house burger on special."

Jake eyed the menu. "I think I'll just have some scrambled eggs, ham and wheat toast."

"Sure thing." Sheri wrote down the order and passed through a small window to a short order cook. On her way back she picked up a plate heaped with eggs and sausages and another with a short stack and brought it over to the trucker at the other end of the counter.

Jake figured that she'd be the easiest so he'd save her for last. He wasn't too sure about the short order cook. The trucker would present a problem.

" 'Scuse me."

Jake looked over and saw that the trucker was talking to him.

"Think you can pass me that syrup next to you?"

"Sure," Jake said, sliding it down the counter.

"Thanks, pal."

Jake nodded at the big man and gave him another quick glance. The trucker was a big guy, but one well placed strike would---

"There you go," Sheri said, putting Jake's food down. "Can I get you anything else?"

"No, thanks."

While Sheri refilled the trucker's coffee, Jake took one more side glance at the trucker.

* * *

"How was everything?" Sheri asked when Jake finished.

"It was great thanks."

"Would you like to try some of our blueberry pie?"


Sheri opened a glass case that was sitting on the counter and sliced a piece for Jake. "You want some more coffee?"


Sheri refilled Jake's cup then went off to collect the money from the now empty-booth and the trucker who had just left.

Jake took a couple of bites then stared off into the rainy night.

"The pie okay?" Sheri asked.

"It's fine," Jake said. "Just thinking about stuff."

Sheri smiled. "I know how that can be."

"Is there a place I can freshen up a little?"

"Sure," Sheri said. "There's a bathroom down that hallway, past the kitchen on the left."

Jake finished his pie and went down the hallway.

Jake dried his hands and looked into the mirror, trying to find some resolve. Pulling a razor from his coat, he ran his finger along the edge. Still sharp. On his way back, Jake stopped at the kitchen where Sheri and the short order cook were talking.

After he was done, Jake went back out front, opened the glass case on the counter and helped himself to another slice of blueberry pie.

R.J. Mangahas is currently a walking cliche: He works in a bookstore while working on his novel. He also has had one play produced and lives somewhere in New England.