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Latest Stories

July 28, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

The Wheel Fiddle

The melody drifted across the garden as she was picking fruit to make a summer pudding. She put down her basket, wiped the sweat from her forehead and walked around to the front of the cottage. The man stood waiting at her garden gate, he raised his cap. He…
July 28, 2018
Flash Fiction Rekha Viswanathan

Pills and Capsules

I wake up to a crisp, clear and sunny morning. The fresh coffee smell beside my bed tempts me. One long sip of the coffee and my senses kick in! I have a long day ahead. At least that's what the papers at the foot of my bed say. Glancing at the paper I see…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Stephen A Murray

Russia,Russia,Russia.

There existed in Russia a small group of intelligence operatives left over from the KGB. They are known as Sputniks. From Wikipedia: "Sputnik was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on October…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Paul Anobile

A Portrait of Slam Bang City

I was hired to paint the portrait of a billionaire who founded a small city twenty years ago in a ghost town he purchased in Arizona. Danny O’Keefe, professional wrestling promoter and executive, convinced a number of investors to build a fourteen-thousand…
July 28, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Majoki

The Deadest Generation

Sergeant Taylor always checked us thoroughly before sending us in: regulation uniform, backpacks, anti-ballistic helmets, Kevlar vests, and, of course, your gun. You couldn’t go anywhere in this place and be safe without your gun. Sergeant Taylor was strict…
July 28, 2018
General Stories J.B.Stevens

Dead Camel

The improvised explosive popped off to the convoy’s left. The armored black Suburban Neil drove muffled the sound to a dull thud. The blast seemed smaller than normal. “Anyone hurt?” the medic, Luiz, called across the radio. The team members, in four matching…
July 28, 2018
Romance Stories Jerry Hogan

He'll Ask Me To Dance Again

Jay I’m Jay, and I have never been to the My Time Dance Studio before tonight. As I entered, the interior projected a garish 1930s Art Deco motif. Greenish, glow-in-the-dark, semilucent plastic tubing wrapped around the hand railings separating one sitting…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Jim Bartlett

The Comebacker

Cornstalk stretches forward, the look almost as if he’s about to fall headfirst off the mound, saved only by the slapping of his left hand to his knee. He locks eyes with his catcher, then lets his gaze wander down just below his glove for the sign. Uncle…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Susan C. Nigra

Never Kill The Author

Oh My God! What’s happening? This has never happened before. I am cornered, trapped, boxed in with no safe way out. There has always been a way out before, miraculous last minute saves. I think back to how I got here and I remember I was assigned this case as…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Thomas Schmidt

The Streets of Camden

Saturday night was cold and wet. Mike Joseph walked cautiously down Norris Street on his way to the Whitman Park Field, a large green space inside the depressed neighborhood. Propositioned twice by street walkers, he kept moving while shifting his head from…
July 13, 2018
Mystery Stories Rekha Viswanathan

The Enchanted Woods

The boys are on a trip. A trip into the woods. Accompanied by their family they trudge along a narrow path, a route that had obviously been traced by human footsteps, a trail that had been trodden many a time. They walk cautiously, startled by the snap of a…
July 13, 2018
Flash Fiction Carl Perrin

What Could go Wrong

If you plan every detail carefully, nothing can go wrong. I believed that when I was a teenager. Like the time Billy Long and I decided to make our own beer. Once in a while we used to steal a couple of Billy’s father’s beers, but we were always afraid we…

 

 

“Stupid piece of crap!” Fists clenched, I scream, and kick the flat Michelin so hard that pain shoots through my foot. Whimpering, I pull the cell phone from my pocket. No reception. My jaw clenches, but before I verbalize my colorful thoughts, my father’s voice whispers in my ear: “You’re stranded two hours on a deserted highway and you wonder why your cell phone still doesn’t work. How stupid can you get?”

I whirl, breath caught in my throat. He’s not there. Nothing is—just giant cactus, sand, and miles and miles of empty road. All I see in either direction are heat waves shimmering above the asphalt. My eyes dart to the trunk … closed. “Get a grip, girl,” I tell myself then fold my hands to calm their shake.

Fear takes the form of a pounding heart and an acrid taste in my mouth when I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye. It’s just a lizard skittering across the sand. I pick up a rock and throw it at the damned thing, but I miss. I hate things that skitter.

Wiping perspiration from my lip, I'm careful not to snag the fresh piercing. Wait. Do I hear a car?

Moments later an old, dust-covered station wagon pulls up beside me. The female who rides shotgun wears a bitter, down-in-the-mouth expression. It suits her. Dark eyes widen as they travel from my dyed black hair to the pierced eyebrows, over my nose ring, and across the three studs in my lips. No, lady, I'm NOT dressed for Halloween I think, but I keep quiet. The woman’s mouth has fallen open. Her eyes continue downward to my white blouse and plaid-skirted uniform that I hate with a passion. They come to rest on my right leg – the one with the sacrilegious tattoo. The air she sucks in hisses over her teeth. She turns away, mutters something then stares straight ahead.

It’s an interesting reaction, although tame compared to my father’s. A glance down at my wrists reveals lingering bruises, reminders of Dad's response to the blasphemous artwork. The memory of his offended rage brings an inward smile.

The driver grunts then reaches over the woman to crank the window the rest of the way down. His blue eyes seem kind. He looks nothing like the person the Bible says I’m supposed to honor . . . yet something about the blonde man is unpleasantly paternal. Unseen fingers tap at the base of my neck and traipse down my spine.

When the man offers me a lift, I hesitate then refuse with a shake of my head. “Are you sure?” His expression is concerned, but his next words make me feel stupid—a thing dear old Dad accomplished daily. “It’s a good thirty miles in either direction to the next town; it wouldn’t be wise for you to stay out here all alone.”

What business is it of his? There’s no way I’m getting in a car with this jackass! I pull out my cell phone and wave it in the stifling air. “Thanks anyway, but I just talked to my father. He’ll be here any minute.”

Two hours later I’m startled out of a fitful sleep when a car horn blasts behind me. Damp hair matted to my forehead, I get out of the front seat wearing a scowl. Arms spread, I yell, “What?”

A stocky man with a poor excuse for a mustache exits the Escalade. The shape of his face reminds me of Casper the Friendly Ghost, only this guy has hair. His eyes are drawn to my flat tire. “Um, sorry," he says as he rubs sweat off his thick neck. "I just thought maybe you needed help.”

He’s got chubby cheeks, just like Dad’s.

“I’m alone,” the man says as he puts his hands in front of his chest, palms out. “But don’t worry; you’re completely safe. I stopped because I hate to see a lady in trouble, especially one so young. You don’t even look old enough to drive.”

I’m not; I turned fifteen last week, but that’s none of his damned business. Staring at his odd face, I think If Dad were here, he’d ask this goofy-looking guy how stupid could he be for driving a big SUV when a sedan is so much smarter. My father used to tell anyone who'd listen that if he had his way, SUVs would be outlawed. Yeah, if he ruled the world, I wouldn’t have been the only one who got screwed.

“If you want me to change that flat for you, you’d better let me know quick,” Casper says, arms folded across his chest. He's tapping his foot. “I have to get back on the road soon; I still have a lot of driving ahead of me.”

This time, I don't hesitate; I wave my cell and say my father is on his way.

It’s late afternoon now and the lack of food and water is making me loopy. My throat’s dry, and I’m quite possibly on the brink of dehydration. “How long am I going to be stuck in this particular hell,” I say into the motionless air. My voice is gravelly which tells me I’ve been screaming again, although I don’t remember. I hope I can dial it down.

A glance in the rearview mirror reveals a car in the distance. I get out of my father’s sedan, open the hood then stand next to the driver’s side door. A slight breeze comes from nowhere, and I catch the stench from the trunk, thanks to this ridiculous heat and my rotten father. A black sedan, empty except for the driver, slows as it passes. For an instant I think it’s not going to stop, but the guy pulls over and backs up. He gets out of his car – tall, redheaded and covered in freckles. He looks to be in his early thirties, so why does he remind me of Dad?

“You’re alone – on this stretch of road?” the man asks. “How stupid can you get?”

My fists clench. Hatred pulses through my veins. Something inside me shifts; and my mouth falls open, yet I can’t breathe. Paralyzed, I watch as the man’s red hair turns to a grayish brown, and I see his dark green eyes fade to blue. Then the freckles on his face disappear only to be replaced by creases and lines. He reaches into my car and removes the keys from the ignition then shuffles toward me just like my father’s done every night since I hit puberty. My limbs unlock. Each step the man takes toward me, I’m propelled one back. The blood pumps through my ears so loud that his words are unintelligible. All I see is my hypocritical, bible-thumping father heading in my direction to force himself on me . . . again! He rounds the car toward the trunk, keys poised and ready for insertion. The lock sticks. Dad crouches and wiggles the key.

Sun glints off the knife as I pull it from the sheath on my thigh. The weapon feels good in my hand; its weight calms me. Head cocked, all my senses are alive as I once again quietly approach the man who's made my life a living hell. A sense of release washes over me at the sound of blood gurgling in his throat; the blade's made a clean slice through my tormentor's wrinkled skin. Eyes closed, I savor the blessed moment.

Then I look down.

What I see before me, crumpled in a heap, is the body of a tall, redheaded man covered in freckles. And blood. Oh God, there's so much blood! Voices reverberate in my skull. It takes all I have to fight the urge to scream again. Dazed, I blink until my father’s license plate comes into focus.

But that can't be! We never lived in Nevada.

Stumbling back, I fall then scoot several feet away from the redhead’s inert body. Questions tumble through my mind: Whose car is this … and who’s that guy in the trunk? Or is there a guy in the trunk?

Lifeless faces of my father and six other men flash in front of my eyes. The voices in my head start again. Then, as if I'm looking at a movie screen, the blur in my mind sharpens, and I watch myself struggle to lift dead weight into the trunks of different colored sedans. The vision changes; it's like someone pressed the fast forward button, and I'm driving, driving, driving until the sedans run out of gas or break down alongside the road. Each time I'm stranded, my father appears and each time I rake the knife across his throat.

Am I insane?

The moment that question becomes a thought, a shaft of light flashes behind my eyes. Stark fear grips me, but I force myself to get the keys from the redhead’s lifeless hand and open the trunk.

I don’t recognize the man inside.

My father’s laughter rings in my ear as he repeats his question about my intelligence. "You bastard,” I scream. “How many times do I have to kill you before you stay dead?"

 

Bio: C.F. Ciccozzi's goal is to entertain readers, one story at a time. "The Mayan Calendar" will be published at Apollo's Lyre this March

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