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Latest Stories

October 14, 2018
Crime Stories Julie Achilles

The Boy in a Hoodie

I am walking along the road, the road that leads to home and I see him. I do not know him but for some reason I know there is a significance. He is casually dressed and wearing a grey hoodie which is pulled up, yet, I can still see his face. I can see that he…
October 14, 2018
Fantasy Stories M.B.Manteufel

Two Heads are Better than One

He opened the jewelry box with one gloved hand, holding steady a slim flashlight with the other. He cursed under his breath. Empty. Again. Matt Sanders wasn’t used to bad luck. He had become one of the best in his profession because he refused to rely on…
October 14, 2018
General Stories Julie Harris

The Man Who Left His Wife With A Goat

The morning’s warm rain finally drizzled to a wind-blown spray before a strong sun blazed in the cloudless sky. Christine stood motionless at the kitchen sink staring beyond the teardrop stained window to where he stood watching from the summer house.…
October 14, 2018
Mystery Stories Salvatore Difalco

Vertigo

Juan rose to pee in pitch darkness, his eyes fluttering. He found the toilet, but peed all over the unraised seat, splashing his shins and toes. Catching jeweled glints of chrome and glass, his eyes oriented to the darkness. Incomprehensible, his next move—he…
September 09, 2018
Crime Stories Frankie Neptune

It's The End of The World as We Knew It

 Reggie Benangin had always been this way. He couldn’t do anything right. The following is true - Though not even Polish, he couldn’t screw in a light bulb. When growing up in Westfield, New Jersey, his father knew never to ask Reggie to cut the grass. Every…
September 09, 2018
Horror Stories Vidal Martinez

La Llorona

I almost slam my head on the dashboard when the car suddenly stops in the middle of the dirt road. “What are you doing?” He looks behind me. “Right there… those trees,” he says. “Are you serious?” I look out the passenger window, and in the dark distance is…
September 09, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

Curing Brian

The day started pleasantly enough, we’d met for our regular game of tennis, the old reliables, Chris, Marilyn, Malcolm and me. Then the man in the dirty suit appeared and everything changed. It was summer and the weather was warm, so we’d used the outside…
September 09, 2018
Romance Stories John L. Yelavich

Sunny Souls

I have fond recollections of my high school years roaming the hallways with my best pals and their gals. We all thought that we embodied the right stuff or whatever that mindset was. We were all proud, cocky and cool and never wanted to be labeled pretenders…
September 09, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Majoki

Snarge

What do you think we hit? Can’t say. We went through the critters pretty fast. I’ve never seen anything quite like that flock: multicolored, almost metallic-looking, circling in a protective formation. Very strange. We’ll have to wait until the techs evaluate…
August 21, 2018
Fantasy Stories Roger Ley

Making Babies

Martin Riley unlocked his front door, stepped over the threshold, and stopped dead. Everything was different: furniture, décor, layout, all changed. It didn’t look like his house anymore. A voice behind him said, “Hello Darling, I have some wonderful news.…
August 21, 2018
Science Fiction Stories R.Scott Venegas

How Far Back?

“The test subjects’ mental acuity, such as it is, and physiology are unaffected, the samples it obtained show little out of the ordinary, however it is quite agitated.” “Is it?” “Yes, seems it was spotted and chased.” “Did it do any damage during the…
August 21, 2018
Romance Stories Susan C. Nigra

A Lie is Born

Dec. 12, 2012 was a dreary uninspired winter day, and also the day I returned to relive the beginning of the lie. It was 43 years ago when I first came here at the tender age of 23 in high spirits... high on life, high on being young; and I have returned a…

 

 

1915...

They were all fed up with the war, the lives it had already claimed, the unburied dead, and the smell of them.

Oh, God the smell.

Life in the trenches of all sides was unbearable: cold, muddy, rife with vermin and parasites, sickness, and some men had gone insane. Often there were suicides.

Riley had been entrenched for a month and hadn't gone topside yet. He was twenty, still inexperienced to the horrors of war, and was dreading the day he was called to go over the top, into No Man's Land.

He had seen fear in others, before they climbed the ladders from the trenches, how they shook in their boots, soiled themselves, vomited bile from their empty stomachs, with tears rolling down their cheeks. Although the age of enlistment was nineteen, Riley could see that some of the soldiers were still boys, barely fifteen. Some would cry, “ I want go home! “ right before the whistle blew, and the order came, “ Over the top, boys! For victory! For England! 

Some of them never made it into No Man's Land, that deadly piece of earth between their rifles, and the Kaiser's army. They would be chopped down by machine guns, dropping back to the trench floor, brains spilled in the mud. If a man refused to go topside and fight he was shot. There were no alternatives.

Riley was seen by his superiors as valuable to the war effort, the same as others with his level of education. He could speak both German and French. He hoped this would save him from No Man's Land and he quietly prayed it would be radioed down that he was needed elsewhere. His prayers were never answered. The day came when Riley had to go topside.

He shook, like the others, his muddy fingers fumbling, as he loaded his rifle. A soldier named Thompson playfully slapped at Riley's helmet, chuckling, “ For victory! For England, lad! Put our heads between our legs and kiss our backsides goodbye, I say. “ Thompson kicked at a rat, “ And you, too, you little beast! “

“ It'll be quick, “ Riley said, warming his hands with his breath. “ That's all I can hope for now. “

Machine guns started barking in the distance, hot lead peppering the rim of the trench. They quickly got down, holding their helmets.

An officer was walking amongst them with a tin pail, shouting, “ Valuables and letters in the bucket, boys! Let your loved ones know! Remember, any refusal to fight, and I will shoot you myself! “

Riley placed an envelope in the pail. It was addressed to his father. The letter read: I love you, Dad. Tell June I am thinking of her.

If he survived the war he was going to marry that girl. Blue eyed June, hair all black and straight, who laughed with a squeak. They had whisked themselves from their homes to the countryside, to a guest house, and embraced for days, in the warmth of oncoming Summer. That was just before he enlisted. She never cried when he left, having faith he would return to her.

Thompson slapped Riley's helmet again, saying, “ Head out of the clouds, Will! We're going over! “

Whistles blew and there was an almighty roar as men clamoured to the top, climbing over each other. Riley watched Thompson disappear. Guns spat and cracked, bullets zipped in every direction, soil showered down from the explosions, and men were screaming for their mothers.

Then, all was quiet.

A ghostly mist slowly rolled over the top of the trench. He feared poison gas, but only realised he hadn't gone over the top. He was just shaking, holding his rifle, barely able to breathe. It was the wrong colour for poison gas.

“ You! “ someone snapped. “ You get up there! “

The officer who had held the pail was pointing a revolver at him. Riley tried to speak, but

TRENCH MOUTH/ Horror/ HENNESSY/ 1374

 

nothing came out. The officer was shaking, too, unable to keep a straight aim.

“ You puddle of piss, “ he said to Riley. “ I'm not wasting a single bullet on you. “

The officer climbed the ladder, quickly poked his head over, then down. Nothing happened. He went over. Riley heard the man shouting and counted four shots, then heard the crack discharge from a rifle. Again, all was quiet.

Riley took a deep breath, forcing courage into himself. He slowly climbed the ladder to take a peek through the mist into No Man's Land. There was no movement, except for the officer, now slumped to his knees. The man's breathing was slow. With all the energy he could muster, the officer upturned the revolver, and drew it to his head. He pulled the trigger and toppled backward as the side of his head blew apart.

That's what a forty-four does, Riley thought, shocked by it, yet having seen it before.

There was nothing out there now, but beyond the density of the mist he knew someone was watching, waiting, ready to commit to man's inhumanity to man.

He went over the top, ran and dived to his belly, raising his rifle, looking down the sights, making a rushed survey of No Man's Land.

Come on, you bastards! Where are you?

He got up and ran again, forward toward a crater, then front rolled into it, only to be confronted by three British soldiers, all dead, one with his face missing. From the youthfulness of the hands, Riley could tell that the faceless soldier had been a boy. Soon, maggots would corrupt these bodies.

He took their ammunition and a second rifle. It seemed the smart thing to do.

With every nerve on edge, he crawled from the crater, and further on to the next, only to be met with more death. He continued to move this way and day passed into dark. The mist was constant, the silence unending. He dared not call out in fear of compromising his position. It came as no surprise as to how this place had garnered its name. Nothing lived here; no birds, trees, no man, or beast.

Ahead of him, Riley noticed the dim light of a still burning lantern. He crawled toward it. He was close to the enemy.

It was quiet, lit enough for him to see that all the Germans were dead.

He climbed into the trench and backed against a wall. He wanted to call out and find who had done this, certain that British soldiers were hiding somewhere, but it was apparent that these men had died in peace.

Riley searched each bunker carefully, ready to fire on anyone who moved. He collected maps and letters, anything that may prove useful. His eyes searched for traps, but there was nothing.

In the next bunker a delicious soup was simmering. A dead soldier was slumped against the wall. Riley poked him with his rifle.

“ You won't mind if I feast on this, will you? “ Riley said, his hunger overpowering him.

He ladled some soup into a bowl and savoured each mouthful. It was good and it had been a long time since he had eaten meat and vegetables. Mostly he just ate oats, or oats with maggots. On occasion there was meat on offer, but the men knew it was rat meat, stripped from the already dead, or freshly killed animal.

By the end of his second bowl of soup, a sharp pain twisted through Riley's stomach and intestines. He wanted to vomit and was unable. His vision blurred, but not enough that he didn't notice the piece of paper poking from the dead soldier's pocket.

In pain, he crawled to the soldier, took the piece of paper, and unfolded it. It was a note. Riley understood what it read and sat there in disbelief.

It took him a moment, but he reached to the soldier's sidearm, and held it in his hand. He thought of his father and blue eyed June.

“ How's that for luck? “ Riley asked himself, placing the gun in his mouth. “ You always get us somehow. “

The note read: We poisoned the food.

BIO: I live in Orange, New South Wales, Australia. I have one child -a daughter. I was born in Sydney in 1977. My poetry has appeared in anthologies worldwide and my short stories have appeared in men's magazines. I have loved the macabre since I was old enough to read. I cite James Herbert, Tales from the Crypt, vintage Penny Dreadfuls, and Ripley's Believe It, or Not as an influence.

 

 

 

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