A Short Survey by David Cook

A Short Survey

Thank you for booking a one-night stay through our website. Would you like to take a short survey about your experience of the site? Your feedback is very important to us.

  1. A) Yes
  2. B) No

We note that you have booked a double room with en-suite. Will you be sharing with:

  1. A) Your partner
  2. B) Someone else

Sorry! You may not close the window until the question has been answered.

We note that you have booked a double room. Will you be sharing with?

  1. A) Your partner
  2. B) Someone else

Liar! Please change your answer.

Sorry! You are unable to close the window until the question has been answered truthfully.

We note that you have booked a double room. Are you staying with your partner or someone else?

  1. A) Partner
  2. B) Someone else

Who is the other person? Is it:

  1. A) Sarah from the pub
  2. B) Melanie from over the road
  3. C) That bitch Jane from your office
  4. D) Someone else

Sorry! You are unable to close the browser window until the question has been answered.

Sorry! You are unable to shut down your laptop until the question has been answered. If you do not answer this question, you will not be able to turn off your laptop or look at other websites, including all those embarrassing ones in your browser history that you think no-one knows about. (Perhaps you should delete that next time?) Nor will you be able to turn off your screen. This situation will continue until Carrie – your girlfriend, remember her? The one who can do anything with computers, including yours? – comes home from work. By the way, the battery in your laptop isn’t going to run out any time soon, so don’t get your hopes up on that score.

Who is the other person? Is it:

  1. A) Sarah from the pub?
  2. B) Melanie from over the road?
  3. C) That bitch Jane from your office?
  4. D) Someone else

Is your stay for business purposes or pleasure?

  1. A) Business
  2. B) Pleasure

Liar! People don’t share a double bed on a business trip, you arse. Please answer truthfully, or that browser history mentioned earlier will be emailed to everyone you work with, including that bitch Jane.

Is your stay for business purposes or pleasure?

  1. A) Business
  2. B) Pleasure

When were you planning to tell Carrie about your grubby little affair?

  1. A) Tonight
  2. B) Soon
  3. C) Never

Liar! Your browser history has now been emailed to everyone you work with, including that bitch Jane.

Please change your answer.

When were you planning to tell Carrie about your grubby little affair?

  1. A) Tonight
  2. B) Soon
  3. C) Never

Are you going to pack your bags and bugger off before Carrie gets home, you pathetic little scrag-end?

  1. A) Yes
  2. B) No

Would you like to receive emails regarding other hotels offering cut-price deals for dirty weekends, you prick?

  1. A) Yes
  2. B) No

Thank you. The survey is now complete. Now piss off before I come home.

 

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David Cook lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife, daughter, cats and guinea pig, and writes as a way of filling in the time while waiting for the rain to stop. He has been published in Short Fiction Break, Flash Fiction Magazine, Sick Lit Magazine and Spelk Fiction, and was also featured in A Box Of Stars Beneath The Bed: The 2016 National Flash Fiction Anthology.

He also publishes work at www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com. You can find him on Twitter too – @davidcook100.

 

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Follow ‘Da’ Yellow Brick Road (Oh My) by Renee’ Drummond-Brown

 

 

Follow ‘Da’ Yellow Brick Road (Oh My)

Off to SEE a Wizard in Oz???

Hmm

Dorothy ‘wit’ friend’s like us

Who needs ‘luv’?

Friends

A state of mutual trust

Shared tween only us

What ‘kinda’ friends

Show

‘Dis’ love?

‘Wit’ friend’s like ‘deeze’

Again Dorothy

Who needs ‘luv’?

A lil’ bump on Ms. Dorothy’s head

‘An’ her

Storm clouds rise

Her

strong winds they blow

She can’t withstand

Being thrown to and fro

So…

She bails ship

From home

Yeah…

This kind of friend will leave you ‘fend’ in Kansas

ALL ALONE!!!

‘Da’ Scarecrow bums along

‘Freeloadin’ Freddie

Can’t stand on his own

You guessed right

Pick a straw

Short man out

Get him fired up

Yep

Yep

Yep

Up, up, up

‘An’ away…

He’s out!

Mr. Tin Man

Old man down

Rusty round ‘da’ edge

In ‘da’ club

Ol’ G’s

Known to thee

Corrupting minors

Game so weak

But…

You ‘da’ man

You ‘da’ man

Scraping oil from cans

Go sit down

‘An’ leave ‘da’ ‘youngins’ stand

Young men SEE visions

Old men

Dream dreams

Come out ‘dem’ clubs

‘Wit’ kids

‘An’

ACT..

Like your eighty-three

King of the jungle

Hmm

‘Hidin’ behind a lil’ girl

Instigator

Yeah ‘dat’ be you

‘Talkin’ trash

WRITING checks your hind can’t cash

All ‘da’ while expecting

‘Evr’ybody’ to jump in

Your mess

While you snake

Slither

‘Outta’ it

Leaving your friends to bite ‘da’ dust

‘An’ another one down

But to you

No big deal; what’s the fuss?

*FOLLOWING*

‘Da’ Yellow Brick Road

‘Wit’ friends like ‘dis’

‘Da’ blind shall lead ‘da’ blind

‘An’

Ev’rybody falls in ‘dat’ ditch

‘An’ you know THIS

If it weren’t true

I wouldn’t’ve told you it

Friends

A state of mutual trust

Shared tween only us!!!

What kind of friends

Show

‘Dis’ love?

‘Wit’ friend’s like ‘deeze’

Who needs ‘luv’?

 

Dedicated to: Make new friends but keep ‘da’ ol’ ‘SUM’ are for keeps; the others NEED TO GO!

 

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I, Renee’ B. Drummond-Brown, am the wife of Cardell Nino Brown Sr. and from our union came Cardell Jr., Renee and Raven Brown. I am the offspring of Mr. and Mrs. Peter C. Drummond of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My siblings are Delbert D. Drummond and the late Pastor Shawn C. Drummond. I was born in North Carolina, at Camp Lejeune US Naval Hospital. I am a graduate of Geneva College of Pennsylvania, and my love for creative writing is undoubtedly displayed through my very unique style of poetry, which is viewed globally. My poetry is inspired by God and Dr. Maya Angelou. Because of them I pledge this: “Still I write, I write, and I’ll write!”

“Renee’s Poems with Wings are Words in Flight” is flown across the seas by God’s raven. There are several Scriptures that I love; however, this one speaks volumes during this ‘season’: “And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” (Genesis 8:7 KJV)

The Colors of an Abnormal Brain/Corporeal Alchemy/I Am Two Poems by Amy Kotthaus

The Colors of an Abnormal Brain

Erratic heartbeats

jackhammer my chest at the

sight of white paper.

Green pills free me

to be the wife and mother,

but keep me up at

night. I need a new color.

Now I sleep, without nightmares.

White capsules chase them

off until garish morning comes.

Oval, pink tablets

lock my fears in a glass safe

to be seen, not felt.

I take the light blues with red

hands, cracked from washing,

to halt rituals, rituals, rituals-

to halt rituals.

Corporeal Alchemy

Such death is little more than passion realized.

Two conduits, one searching, one waiting,

are hurled together by mindless imperative.

Like Origen’s bird, ending, living embers,

they create anew.


 

So does cruel tradition, born from accident,

chain matter to form.

Form quickens to understanding.

Justifications of divine mandate and humanism

are two blind helmsmen guiding paper ships.

 

The primordial covenant of flesh is kept.

We engage in this perpetuation of possibility,

yearning to kill our bodies and our self

to create self; a memesis less and more.

This biological metronome, corporeal alchemy,

is the steady keeper of man’s time.

 

I Am

    Two Poems

 

The voice over CB radio, taking a rain check from someone’s husband;

                                                                                 It’s that time of the month.

 

The handwriting on backdated child support checks.

                                                                                 Call me mom.

 

The girl touched by her future husband at 12 years old.

                                                                                 It was consensual.

 

The eager nod when a man tells everyone he just can’t get rid of her.

                                                                                 Surely, he’s joking.

 

The awkward laugh when she says his other son is her favorite.

                                                                                 Old people say things.

 

I am all things save for whoever it is I am.

 

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Amy Kotthaus is a writer, painter, translator, and photographer. Her work includes poetry, Latin translation, abstract painting, and black and white photography. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Southern Maine, and she currently lives in Maine with her husband and children.

Sent from my iPhone

 

Forgotten God by Nicole Nevermore

Forgotten God

        I looked up from my omelet to see Osiris sitting a few booths away. He was unmistakably the Egyptian god, with his signature smooth head, kohl lined eyes, and inverted obelisk-shaped beard extending from his chin to his chest. Unlike the paintings that bear his likeness across Egypt and in museums world-wide, he wore a black leather biker jacket. Ink black tattoos snaked up his neck to his jawline and skull. But it was him, I was sure, and for the rest of my own breakfast-for-dinner, I tried to work up the courage to make eye contact with Osiris.

        Before I could act, he stood from his booth, brushed the remnants of his own meal, a cheeseburger, from his lap, and paid his check at the door. I silently cursed myself for allowing the opportunity to commune with divinity to pass me by, but was blessed with a second chance to get it right. Through the windows that lined the restaurant’s perimeter, my eyes followed him outside the building to the parking lot, and narrowed when he sat on the curb beside his Harley Davidson, fingers deftly lighting a cigarette.

        My attention turned back on my family. Across from me sat my daughters, eating pancakes and laughing over some joke I had missed. Both were young, with electric blue eyes and blond ringlets gathered into pigtails on either sides of their faces. They were everything good and pure in the world, unaware of what sort of evil lurks outside the walls of the suburban home they were raised. Sawing through his Belgian waffles was my husband. He had the same blue eyes as the girls, but with slightly darker sandy blonde hair, cut in a sensible corporate style to match his polo shirt and khaki pants. He was a mover and a shaker in the office and had been assured that he was in line for a promotion by his manager. He was a good, reliable man.

        I turned my mind’s eye then to my own appearance. Middle-aged housewife in a modest blue and white striped dress, red plastic jewelry, and red patent leather sandals. It was Independence Day, after all, and I was careful to dress the part, lest any of the Good People of the world, picking up a bite to eat on their way to watch the fireworks display, judge me any less patriotic than the next mini-van-driving soccer mom.

        My gaze settled back outside the restaurant to the Egyptian god who sat smoking on the curb beside his motorcycle. “Excuse me,” I said, I slowly raising from my seat. My feet moved faster than my brain could come up with reasons to stay, and so the world was a blur as I walked out the door and across the parking lot. The blast of heat from the summer sun bounced off the black asphalt, turning world outside of the lot into a wavy, dream-like river flowing away from the restaurant.

        “Excuse me,” I said again, only less calmly than when I had said it to my family. I had been so preoccupied with getting there that I forgot to figure out what to do when I was actually face to face with the god. “Osiris.”

        He turned to see me. His eyes were a golden pool of honey that made my brain sticky. “What?” he asked as his brow furrowed in confusion.

        “Not ‘what.’ Who. You,” I explained. “You’re Osiris.”

        He dismissed me with a shake of his head, “No, my name’s Randy.”

        A lie detector sounded off in my chest, bolstering my confidence and motivating me to keep going. “No, that’s not true. You’re Osiris, Egyptian god of the dead.”

        “Lady, you’ve got me confused with someone else.” He shook his head again, but remained seated on the curb. Several beads of sweat rolled down his neck into his jacket, causing the tattoos to ripple.

        We’re taught that ancient gods got their power from humans believing in them, worshipping them, and as I watched Osiris take a long drag of his cigarette, something bubbled up through the honey coating my mind. I was witnessing what happened to the old gods when humanity stop believing in them. The god in front of me had been reduced to myth, even in his own mind. The forgotten god had forgotten himself.

        I lowered myself to the curb beside him, not hesitating over the oil and grime that would get on my blue and white striped dress. “What are you doing here?” I pressed. Something had to explain the presence of divinity in Suburbia.

        Osiris exhaled a cloud of smoke in resignation and again locked his honey eyes to mine. “My grandma is dying,” he began. “She’s in a home up the road, and they called to let me know she didn’t have long. I’m not supposed to be there, but there’s no one else to go be with her. The people at the home don’t want me there because I keep taking her outside. I don’t want her last days to be spent stuck in that room. It’s not her house. It’s not her home where she raised her family. She’s stuck in some goddamn room and when she dies, that’s where she’ll be.” We sat quietly while he pulled from the cigarette and exhaled.

        “She had a bird, you know? Someone bought her a bird, and she kept it in her room in a cage. It was wrong. So I took the cage outside and let the damn bird go. And she’s in that room, dying, and when her soul’s free of her body, she’s just going to be stuck in the cage. She’s got to be outside so she can be free.” Osiris looked up at me, as if to gauge whether or not his talk of birds and souls and cages scared me off. I offered attentive silence in response. “You said ‘god of the dead’?”

        “Yeah,” I nodded. “You’re a pretty big deal.”

        A sly smile spread across Osiris’s face, revealing crooked and chipped teeth perfectly arranged. “When I was a kid, I used to take people’s souls. Like, not some kind of devil worship shit or whatever, I just collected them. I’d get bored and I’d take souls. Someone would piss me off and I’d take his soul. If I loved someone, I’d take her soul and protect it so nothing bad could happen to her. I can’t explain it. I just took souls.” He shrugged, taking a final hit of the cigarette before flicking the butt across the flowing parking lot. “You’ve gotta think I’m crazy. I’ve never told anyone this. I don’t know why I’m telling you.”

        “Because you know I believe you.”

        Though he had looked at me before, Osiris now looked into me, studying me. His honey eyes searched my face, my hair, my hands, my feet, and the now soiled blue and white stripped dress. “Who are you?”

        “I’m nobody,” I shrugged. “Just a regular person.”

        Osiris paused to consider this. “I don’t think so.”

        The door to the restaurant clanked open as my husband and two daughters walked out onto the sidewalk. The sun’s light hit their blond hair, casting golden haloes around their heads. Their blue eyes twinkled as they scanned the parking lot to find me. I stood and turned towards Osiris. “I have to go,” I said. “That’s my family.”

        He looked to them and looked back at me, with an eyebrow crooked. “I don’t think so.”

        I smiled. “It was nice meeting you, Osiris. I hope you remember yourself soon.”

        The Egyptian god of the dead stood, straddled his motorcycle and nodded. “You, too. Thanks for listening.”

        I turned away as the engine roared to life. I smiled and waved to my family, taking a few steps towards where my two little blond girls climbed into the mini-van. The question was clear on my husband’s face: “What is happening?” I turned again to Osiris. He was still looking deeply at me and I found myself wondering for the first time in our ten minutes of discussion what he saw. I turned back to look at my husband, realizing that after ten years of marriage, I didn’t know what he saw when he looked at me, either. Who am I?

        My red patent leather sandals clacked across the parking lot as I moved to rejoin my family. Behind me, Osiris’s motorcycle roared as he pulled away.

 

Forgotten God was previously published here: https://darkrunreview.org/2016/09/23/forgotten-god-nicole-nevermore/

 

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Nicole Nevermore’s love of writing began when the voices in her head grew quite entertaining and she decided to share them with others. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and two daughters, where she can often be found wandering forests and cemeteries looking for a good story to tell. Nicole is currently writing her first novel, a ghost story inspired by a peculiar headstone. She can be found at https://nicolenevermore.blogspot.com. She also wants you to know that that shirt looks great on you. Forgotten God was originally published in Darkrun Review.

 

War On Suicide By F. C. Brown Cloud

War On Suicide

I needed a break at work so popped by Alex’s cubicle to say, “I’ve decided an honorable suicide is where you flash your organ donor card and pop yourself in the head right there in the hospital. Nothing goes to waste.”

Alex didn’t even look up. “Only honorable suicide is where they bite off their own skin. Otherwise there’s more they could’ve took.” I snorted. Of course he’d say they. Alex always votes Republican.

We shouldn’t have had that conversation. Not at work. Not at all. But where I work, a bunch of white and Asian guys typing on computers, we’re not worried about enforcement.

The letter of the law is simple. Suicide is illegal. Attempt the crime, do the time. State provided you with opportunity, now it’s owed your contributions as a living taxpayer.

But then there’s the spirit of the law. Which is: our economy has always functioned best when we’ve had slaves. Some jobs not even Mexicans want, and they’d insist on being paid. Current system is better. For-profit prisons make a killing, corporations lease incarcerated manpower at bargain rates, everybody wins. Almost everybody. A black man buying rope might land his ass in jail. Slammed with five, maybe ten, maybe life with priors, for eyeing his own wrists with lascivious intent.

Some people think the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery. It didn’t. It outlawed chattel slavery, the idea you could be born into servitude with an unlucky draw in the parentage lottery. But not slavery itself. 13th Amendment simply requires a mockery of justice to accompany the condemned man’s branding.

So Congress outlawed self-harm. Sounded good at the time. War on Suicide! Our nation will keep its people safe. But instead of fighting that war with counseling and treatment, we lock people up. Culling from the populace those slaves we need. Get situations like a black man on prophylactic isosorbide mononitrate for his heart disease — food he loved never loved him back — slammed to the pharmacy wall and cuffed for trying to buy a vial of sildenafil — just in case — before a blind date. Dude was crying, said he had no idea, said staff at the clinic where he got the ED script should’ve warned him if the pills were dangerous together. Judge was unconvinced. Gave him a dime. But a white doctor can stand before that exact same judge and claim, “Your honor, it was an accident I took all those sleeping pills.” He walks with a fine.

Seventy percent of dudes doing time on the wrist-cutter’s rap are black. Ninety-some percent are poor. Which sounds unfair, but our Supreme Court gave it the okay. The NAACP thought they had an unassailable case. This black guy by the name of Lions was walking along the shoreline putting stones into the pocket of his overcoat. Police pounced, hauled him in, claimed he was trying to Woolf his way out of his obligation to the state. Judge struck from the record testimony corroborating Lions’s claim that he sold agate jewelry at Renaissance fairs. Then found him guilty, gave him ten.

Liberal newspapers were all over that case. One after another, rags like the New York Times were filling up with scathing editorials. Dude soon had this kick-ass pro-bono legal team working on his appeal. And the case made it all the way up. Lions’s lawyers presented all the numbers – percentage of offenders, percentage of those stopped by the police, percentage sentenced, percentage serving time – and argued that equal protection was being denied to African-Americans. A clear violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The crusties on the bench disagreed. Supreme Court dismissed the case outright. Declined to overturn. They reasoned that Lions did not have standing to introduce the aggregate statistics. After all, he was a unique individual, and all those numbers came from other people’s cases. In their eyes, only a statistically-averaged black man would have standing to contest the racial application of the law, and that “average black male” is nothing but a fleshless mathematical construct. Nobody has standing according to the majority, that lockstep quintet of hate machines.

The beautiful snowflakes melt away in jail.

Not that it affects me much. Yeah, I dabble, same as anybody. But look at me. No big risk. I get bored, take a break, shoot the shit, then get back to work. Guys like me get a pass. When I go, they’ll say it was an accident. My mom may cry, but she won’t be harried by the cops.

 

 

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F.C. Brown Cloud teaches creative writing at the Monroe County Jail and corresponds with inmates across the Midwest for his work with Pages to Prisoners and as director of the Indiana Prisoners’ Writing Workshop.  His publications include short fiction in the Vignette Review, Bartleby Snopes and Toasted Cheese; nonfiction in Literary Orphans and the Weeklings; and research articles in Molecular Membrane Biology and The Journal of Cell Biology. Brown Cloud received his B.A. from Northwestern and his Ph.D. from Stanford.  Find him in Bloomington, Indiana or at fcbrowncloud.com.

 

Nostalgia by Cristina Moroianu

Nostalgia

Inside The Beehive, it smelled like grilled cheese, strong black coffee, French onion soup and melted marshmallows dusted with cinnamon. What a strange mix, Alec thought. He let his eyes wander on the street, to the cars that flew by, to the people that rushed past the bistro, relentlessly reeling the unraveled threads of their lives. The sky was rapidly changing above and he told himself he should finish his coffee and head to the nearest underground station before the summer got too angry.

Watching the wind raising, he stood up from the table and lifted the mug to savour the last drops of his coffee. Suddenly, something caught his eye and the mug froze in the air, halfway to his mouth. A car had stopped on the other side of the road in front of a tall building and two people got out, hurrying to get to the shelter of the large archway entrance in the first heavy drops of warm summer rain. The man rushed to the other side of the car, fumbling to open up an umbrella to help his female companion. But that was not what had made Alec freeze with the coffee in his hand and his heart on his sleeve.

His eyes widened and the breath staggered to pass by a stubbornly tightened throat. He knew that woman. He could have recognised her in a crowd of thousands of people, even after not having seen her for years. How could he not, when the same crazy red hair he had once twisted between his fingers flew now rebel in the wind? He was amazed to see how much of her had remained the same. She was as tall as he remembered her, as graceful and as proud… and as unattainable too. He knew he now stared like a madman, wide-eyed and trembling, not believing that the one that had never left his mind all that time was right there, a heartbeat away.

Everything around him and in him unraveled in slow motion. His craving gaze followed her hurrying under the umbrella, lifting her purse higher on her shoulder, taking the arm of the man that covered her from the rain. Alec was right there with her when something the man said made the laughter reverberate through her like bells high in a church tower. He couldn’t hear it of course over the fumbling noise and music in the bistro and over the now heavy rain outside, but he saw it. And it poured itself inside of him like warm honey. He remembered how her laughter could move mountains and melt him like the torturous fire melts the sturdiest of metals, or how her flushed cheekbones and sparkling eyes could make the world roll to a stop. The strings of his heart hummed.

She rushed on the stairs of the building still keeping her hand in the crook of the man’s arm. The man looked at her, laughed along and as they turned their back to the bistro and the world outside, she cuddled closer to him. Suddenly, midway on the flight of stairs, she stopped. The man stopped too, curiosity painted on his face. She let go of his arm and her back straightened. Her crazy hair danced in the storm and she lifted her hand, in an unsuccessful attempt to tame it. For a moment, she seemed to have forgotten or remembered something, and she stood like that, unmoving in the never stopping world surrounding her, oblivious to the storm that chased her and to the stupor of the man. Slowly, with her fingers halted in her hair, she turned, following a feeling. Her eyes searched the street for something or someone lost. Her green gaze found the bistro, and beyond a wet glass panel, it sunk in Alec’s eyes. Time stopped. Years lifted from the air around as they looked at each other, not blinking, not moving, not breathing.

     Alec still found it hard to believe how beautiful she could be and how time hadn’t changed her appearance in the slightest. Fiery curls danced around the skin that he had once worshiped with his every breath and touch. He knew every freckle, he remembered the funnily shaped mole just under her right earlobe. He wondered, just like he had back then, if her husband could make her eyes shimmer emerald green like they did when they had been together.

The man next to her moved his lips and his brow furrowed more, his gaze searching for whatever made her halt in the middle of the unhappy nature. His hand met her shoulder and she started, like awaken from a dream. She turned to look at her companion and resumed walking up the stairs to seek shelter. But before she reached the top, she looked behind her one more time, a small secretive smile touching her lips for the memory staring at her behind a bistro window.

It took a couple of seconds for the doors under the wide archway to close. It took a couple of seconds for the world outside to start spinning again under the pouring rain, and for Alec to start breathing. He let out the air he didn’t know he had been holding, he blinked and moved his gaze from the now empty flight of stairs to the cup of coffee still frozen in his hand.

“Ready to go, honey?”

The voice behind him started him and he turned. Lara smiled, then her smile faltered.

“Are you okay? You seem… off somehow.”

He swallowed, slowly working some moisture in his dry mouth and let his lips tentatively curl upwards.

“Yeah… No, I’m okay. I was just thinking that we should’ve taken the car. So much for our walk… Did you get everything you wanted?”

Lara nodded and lifted higher the plastic bag she was holding, a question still digging a crease between her eyebrows. Alec smiled, slightly short of breath.

“Ready to go, then.”

He suddenly fumbled, not knowing what to do with his hands. He found himself searching for the sliver of magic he had felt mere moments before and came out sore and stray, not different from the strongly captivated reader whose book slams shut in his face from a gust of wind.

Lara got closer and took his hand. He noticed how her dark cherry painted fingernails looked like those hard candy coated almonds he couldn’t stand and how her caramel skin seemed almost too dark compared to his milky white one. They made a strange mix, he thought, just like the cinnamon flavoured marshmallows and the French onion soup.

He finished his coffee in a gulp, set the mug down, slipped on his jacket and picked up the folded umbrella, all that time not realising a single movement he made, set on auto-pilot. The small silver bell jingled when he pushed the door open for Lara. Before stepping out on the street he opened the umbrella and lifted it above his head in an attempt to shelter his wife from the pouring rain.

 

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Born in Romania and currently living in Canada, Cristina Iuliana Burlacu is an office worker, a wife and the proud mother of a six year old bundle of joy. From time to time, she writes. Her work has appeared in the Rusty Nail magazine, the Vine Leaves Literary Journal, the Vine Leaves Best of 2015 Anthology, on the Every Day Fiction, Wordhaus and Expresso literary sites.

Friday Night by Benjamin Finateri

Friday Night

In the dark, Billy sat in bed, eyes wide, wound up. He listened for the monster, the monster in the closet. The house stayed quiet.

Billy slid out of bed, crept across the room, out to the hall.

No light. He moved slowly, one hand for the wall. No stumbling or bumping or tripping, landing with a thud. No waking the monster.

Billy made it to his father’s room, the door open a crack. Billy pushed it only enough to peer in. He made out shapes in the dark. The bed, his father sleeping. Or was he dead? Had the monster already snuck out and killed him? No, the monster would’ve eaten him whole.

Billy stared through the dark and saw his father breathing steadily. He slid past the door into the room. Quiet, quiet, quiet. This close to his father, Billy couldn’t chance it. Silent to the bed, Billy put a hand on his father’s shoulder and gave a shake.

His father didn’t wake up.

Billy felt cold; his face was covered in sweat. He wiped it with his pajama top and shook his father harder.

His head shot up from the pillow, he said “Huh, wuh,” sort of shivered, found himself and said, “Bill, jeez, what time is it?”

“Shh.”

Billy’s father sat up. “What’s wrong?”

“The monster,” Billy whispered. “In the closet. We don’t want to wake it.”

His father collapsed onto the bed. “Bill, c’mon, what are you doing?”

“Please, Dad.”

Billy’s father turned his face into the sheets. “What? What do you want me to do?”

“We can leave, go to Mom’s.”

“Not happening.”

“Well, you and me then. If the monster finds us, we’ll fight it together.”

Billy’s father groaned into his pillow. He got out of bed, took Billy by the hand and led him back to his room. When he turned the light on, Billy said, “Dad, no.”

Billy’s father dropped his hand. “There isn’t any monster. Get back in bed.”

“Dad, please.”

“Now William.”

Billy felt the heat of his father’s eyes; he climbed into bed and threw the covers over his body.

His father said, “Bill look at me.”

Billy knew he shouldn’t raise his voice, but was desperate for his father to hear him. “We can stay together. Please.”

“William.”

Billy stuck his head out from the covers, but kept them at his chin, ready to hide again.

“Listen, son, I know you’re not thrilled about this weekend, but this monster nonsense won’t fly. I’m going back to bed, and you’re going to sleep. There’s no monster. Clear?”

“But Dad, it’ll eat us.”

His father’s voice got mean. “You want me to show you? Look in the closet and show you?”

“No.”

“Right. You know I won’t find anything because monsters don’t exist. Now go to sleep.”

“No, you won’t see it because it’s invisible until it leaves the closet.”

His father’s body sagged. He sighed and shook his head. “OK, OK. Listen, don’t move.” He put his hands up. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” He turned and left.

Should Billy follow? No. More noise, more chance to wake the monster. Billy listened. His father was going downstairs. What if the monster came now? Would his father hear him scream? Maybe he should follow. No, Billy heard his father coming back. A moment later, he reappeared, holding a wooden baseball bat.

He said, “You don’t need to stay with me.” He waved the bat at Billy. “The monster comes out of the closet, you whack him, OK? Then whack him again, until he leaves you alone. OK?” He swung the bat like he was hitting something over the head before tossing it on the bed next to Billy.

Billy wanted to ask his father if he had a plan to protect himself, but he was already turning off the light and leaving. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he said on the way out.

Billy snatched the bat, held it close. His father should’ve listened. Billy was sure. He sat up, laying the bat in his lap. What could’ve he said different to make his father listen? He thought about going back to his father’s room, begging, crying. But it wouldn’t work. His father would get angrier.

Billy sat, waiting, certain the monster would come, but the hours passed, the house stayed quiet, and Billy began to wonder if maybe he’d been wrong. At the very least, the sun would be up soon; they’d have the whole day to plan for the next night.

Billy’s eyes became heavy, his chin sank toward his chest; he began to drift. The screaming brought Billy back.

His father’s room. His father’s screams, cut off by a crushing, cracking, snapping, crunching. A wet slapping. Grunting. Snorting.

Silence.

Billy peed his pajamas, but didn’t move from the bed. He squeezed the bat, couldn’t hold it steady. Maybe the monster was full from its meal. Maybe it would go back to its closet. Maybe a neighbor heard the screams and called the police. Police have guns. Maybe the monster couldn’t stray too far from its home. Maybe the baseball bat would be enough to fight it off. Maybe it only liked the taste of adults.

So many maybes. In the dark, Billy sat in bed, eyes wide, wound up, waiting for the monster from his father’s closet.

 

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Ben’s stories have been published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Devolution Z, and Every Day Fiction. His poetry has appeared in sPARKLE & bLINK, the 2014 Poets 11 Anthology, and Clockwise Cat. Ben also reads his work throughout the Bay Area. When he’s not reading or writing, he teaches ESL at City College of San Francisco. Visit him at benfinateri.com

 

 

Bleak/Apparition by Broken Montague

BLEAK

It is bleak, and the sky above is dim.

Rain smoothly drops, I remember him.

He grasps gently in my heart’s chamber,

Can’t resist, I called his 11-digit number.

 

Then, I knew he is already happy.

With a girl he really loves, she’s pretty.

I called my best friends and got tipsy;

Weeping ‘coz I can’t move on, sadly.

 

I can’t quite conceal how heavy this feeling is.

Seeing her blushing and laughing when he teases.

The 3-month rule that he should have at least considered.

He recklessly wrecked my heart and murdered.

 

Our happy days and months were gone so fast,

Like the unconditional love we found, and trust.

They said I should’ve now forgotten about him,

Since it was already years and a half ago.

 

He left an indelible mark that changed my whole world,

By the most unlikely and unforgettable spoken words.

We will somehow meet someday in any interwoven road,

But soon I’ll find love again that I’ll forever hold.

 

Apparition

 

I dreamt of you last night,

You hugged me so tight.

An apparition of what should we be.

Mostly called it as a fantasy.

 

We laughed at certain things.

In my dream, so much joy you bring.

We kissed ourselves to bed,

But in reality, you’re unobtainable to heed.

 

I woke up from that sweetest nightmare,

I remember how my heart felt broken.

‘Coz you never ever seem to care

On I love you’s, to you,  I have spoken.

 

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Broken Montague is a complete novice in the field of poetry. He is an educator from the Philippines who dreamt to inspire so many people through his own words. His experiences in life and in love made him write his own masterpieces. He is deeply in the verge of happiness as these masterpieces come into reality.

 

Zero Plus One by Sebnem Sanders

Zero Plus One

Zero leaned against the wall, taking comfort from its resistance. He sipped his drink, as he watched a group of guests saunter by.

People laughed and joked. Some men eyed the females like prey, others, as though admiring cars in a motor show. They continued to meander across the hall, viewing their options among the women, some standing or comfortably settled on the chairs and settees scattered around the room. Concentrating on potential males, they ran their tongues along their lips, lowered their décolletés and hiked up their skirts as much as their sitting positions and postures allowed. Their eyes and gestures communicated in carnal language while they exchanged casual words in the spoken tongue.

The thrill of their own past escapades still vivid in their memories, married couples split up. Eager to share the excitement of mating overtures between the free males and females, they joined small groups.  

Zero eyed them with disdain. They were like animals in the jungle, searching for suitable sex partners. I see them, they don’t see me. Not knowing why he had agreed to attend another one of Sarah’s crazy parties, he wished he were one of those aliens who could melt into the wall and vanish. As he put down his glass and decided to leave, a tall slim girl with short hair approached him.

“You look bored, ” she said, “fancy going out for a smoke?”

“I don’t smoke.”

“Does passive smoking bother you?”

“I quite enjoy it, actually.”

“In that case, let’s get some refills and escape.”

She took his hand and led him to the bar. After a top-up of malt for him and champagne for her, they strolled through the French doors onto the veranda and down the steps into the vast grounds of the house.

She settled on a white, wrought-iron chair and put her glass on the table. He sat facing her as she fumbled in her bag and took out a pack and a lighter.

 

She lit the cigarette, took a deep drag and exhaled, turning her head aside. Picking up her glass, she said, “Cheers, I’m One.”

 

“I’m Zero,” he said shyly. “Zero plus One is One. You have confirmed my sentiments. I am invisible.”

 

“Who says so? Zero plus One is Zero plus One. You’re not invisible. I could see you from the other end of the lounge.”

 

“Really? That’s surprising. I thought I didn’t exist.”

“You do.” She held his hand. “You’re real, flesh and bone.”

He placed his other hand on top hers and squeezed it gently. “Thanks, my otherwise ethereal particles must have materialized in your presence.”

 

“Very much so. Why Zero?”

“It’s just a nickname from university years. I guess it’s because I’m not as flamboyant as the rest. The sort of guy who melts into the background.”

 

“I was always The One, then I became One.”

 

“A strong presence?”

 

“Not so. Just helping, sharing, tying up the ends.”

 

“Reliable?”

 

“Perhaps.”

 

“What a pair we’d make. Absent and present.” He chuckled and gazed into her eyes. Behind the clouds of smoke, shafts of moonlight danced across her face, making her mysterious and unearthly. A destination he wanted to explore.

 

“I’d like to read your story.”

“You already are. One plus Zero.”

 

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Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the Eastern shores of the Southern Aegean Sea where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have been published on the Authonomy Blog,  The Drabble, and  SickLit Magazine. More information on her work can be found at her website: https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/ where she publishes some of her work.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sebnemsanders

 

I Thought Death had Better Manners by Pleasant Street

A shadow fell across me

and the shelves of canned tomatoes

before me at the local market

someone breathing-heavy enough

close enough to feel it upon my neck.

I moved an obligatory two steps

toward the green beans

but the shadow moved with me

like the mouth-breathers from

middle school.

I made a quick move to leave the aisle

when a black-robed figure

skirted around me, knocking off

half a dozen cans

with a garden tool.

Finally in line, with my 2 cans

of pizza sauce and a rotisserie chicken

I saw the black robe putting groceries

on the conveyor, and when he turned

his head I saw it was the grim reaper.

I said, “Hey man- how come

you have 32 items in the express lane?”

Everything stopped. The store

was shrouded in silence. The cashier

looked at me in horror.

Death’s hand stopped in mid-air

holding a box of Corn Pops.

“You know,” I said

“That stuff’ll kill you.”

 

 

Pleasant Street is a mother, baker, and poet. She has been writing poetry since fourth grade. Now she is writing a series of neo-noir thrillers and a collection of short stories. She thinks too hard and feels too deeply, and appears to be stuck in 1948. She is still dreaming up a way to use baked goods as legal tender.
Pleasant lives on a tree-lined street where nothing seems to happen on the outside, but she is certain many thrillers are contained behind closed doors. She is often carried away by flights of fancy, but that suits her very well.