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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…

 

 

Bathing in the light of magnesium, the shrine resembled a giant lamp drawing moths from the darkness, glowing brighter for the poorest of moths like Daniel standing by the gate.  He looked at the buildings behind him as if he could see his father in their hovel, sleeping away his latest binge drinking.  Then he remembered that he was in a city away from his father and his belt and broom.  He looked behind him one last time before walking inside on his good leg.

 

Dan, get dressed. His mother used to whisper to him.  We’re going to Baclaran.  Daniel would immediately abandon his toys and playmates for the shrine that her mother and other people called Baclaran.  He had asked his mother if it was Sunday because all that he could see from the shrine’s gate were people.  Wednesday was her reply.

After cutting through the thicket of worshippers that stood between the gate and the church, she would unravel her chaplet at the narthex and kneel, approaching the altar on her knees.  He would walk behind her, sometimes cheering her when she was faltering, oftentimes hopping on the aisle’s beige and green tiles.

Sometimes they would reach Baclaran close to suppertime and she would finish her weekly devotion late at night. Those were the nights when he would see the ragamuffins and homeless elderly retaking the shrine like natives reoccupying their land after the invaders’ departure.  He heard the children laugh more than talk, and their laughter could jolt the bereaved back to living.  They called playfully to him more than once.  His mother’s chastising look burned each invitation.

Daniel and his mother had witnessed the shrine’s Liguorian Congregation rolling out casseroles of soup and watched the elderly queuing serenely while the snickering children would push one another off the line.

Just one bowl, mama. The aroma of the soup was so thick and inviting.  They’re so excited to eat it.

I’ll tell your papa.

After Daniel’s mother had left her mortal shell, many Wednesdays passed without him straying to within sight of Baclaran.

It was not a Wednesday, so Daniel could see the church from the gate.  Baclaran was wearing the same beige paint and none of the outlying buildings looked new.  Children were frolicking in the courtyard but they had adults hovering nearby.  He looked deeper, sighing from not finding a ragamuffin.  He strode inside on his good leg, the left leg unmolested by his father’s belt.  His right limb was leathery from the welts that ranged from his knee to his ankle, with some old and fresh welts forming hazy boundaries.  Ridges of skin thickened by the belt also crisscrossed his upper limbs and torso.

Daniel limped around the church, checking every pew where soiled blankets covered snoring bodies.  He looked closer and saw that they were the homeless elderly.  He saw children in the church, but they were clean and escorted by an adult.  Where are you? He sat on a pew and scratched a fresh welt on his right knee, his father’s reward to him for leaving their supper’s dishes on the sink.  Beside it was skin broken by his belt when Daniel did not wash the laundry.  His calf was tender where his father had pummeled him with a broom for feeling dust biting at his bare soles after ordering Daniel to sweep the floor.  Yet he was not a total beast to Daniel.

A boy and girl were playing on the chancel, waving at the altar and the portrait of a woman above the tabernacle his mother called Mama Mary.  Daniel thought of joining the children, but a man called them.  The boy genuflected while the girl blew a kiss to the altar before jumping off the chancel.  One by one, the washed children were heading to their clean homes and beds.

Daniel circled the courtyard.  It was free of the playing children and the spot where the Liguorians served soup was clean.  Where are you? He whimpered.  He thought of screaming to attract them but his mother’s screams in her battles with his father had brought half of their shantytown to their doorstep.

With his eyelids coming together more frequently and sticking together longer, he returned to the pew and stretched on the varnished plank.  Baclaran never closes its doors.  His mother had said when he asked her where the homeless go at midnight.

The wild children could frolic around him, but he would not run and play with them tonight.  He would seek them in the morning.  Perhaps they would remember him as the boy with the woman in the sweater.  Many devotees had sinned from taking humorously at his mother’s wearing a sweatshirt in summer.  If only they knew of the bruises and welts beneath the warm fabric.  If only.

 

END

 

BIONOTE: Prospero is from the Philippines where he works at home and tries to write fiction when he can. His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online local and foreign publications.

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