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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


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…



Snuggled under the covers of her bed in the pre-dawn hours of that late October morning, Annie awoke to the sound of her daddy’s cry. The painful yell and loud thud of his feet as they hit the floor echoed through the long, narrow trailer. Her heart hammered. Filled with terror, she heard the unmistakable fear in her father’s words as he bellowed, “I feel like my head’s going to explode!”

Annie’s head jerked toward the shared room next to hers where her two brothers bound out of their bunk beds, stumbling over each other to get out the door. They hustled down the hallway. She followed close on their heels.

The family now gathered in her parents’ bedroom, fear clawed at her as she watched her daddy press both hands to his temples. She felt the blood drain from her face when soft whimpers escaped his throat. Her eyes darted from Daddy to Mommy’s tear-stained face then flitted over the terrified expressions of the boys; fear hung heavy in the room. The furthest thing from anyone’s mind was that this was the morning of Annie’s ninth birthday.

* * *

Her three-year-old daughter’s face lit up at the sound of the key in the lock. Annie watched Amanda run into her daddy’s arms, noticed smiles on both their faces, watched him lift the toddler into the air and press her little face to his. Heart warmed at the special bond between a father and daughter, Annie smiled.

Two years passed. Annie watched Amanda loop her arm through her daddy’s and smile up at him as if he were the love of her life. Annie’s eyes misted.

Three years later, eight-year-old Amanda enfolded her arms around her daddy’s waist, stepped on his shoes, and swayed as he danced her around the room. A distant memory stirred in Annie. Sadness enveloped her, and her eyes brimmed.

Alone that evening she yanked a notepad out of the desk drawer, face contorted with a rage that masked deep, deep hurt. Annie put pen to paper, hand energized as angry questions flowed. It didn’t matter that the questions were to a father who’d passed away five years ago, twenty years after the five the doctor predicted. What mattered was thirty years of bottled emotions spewed forth – emotions so raw that the angry words almost ripped through the page as she asked:

After you got well, why didn’t you dance with me and twirl me around the room to the records on our stereo the way you used to? Was I somehow to blame; did I cause your illness? Did I do something wrong to make you not want to be close to me anymore? Why did you keep a physical and emotional arm’s length from me during and after your illness? Did you know that your indifference made me feel unimportant, inadequate – invisible? Did you care?

Questions asked, Annie’s writing slowed as the anger and frustration ebbed. Her brow furrowed as memories surfaced, memories of how distant her father was after he came home from his long hospital stay. Memories of how anxious he became as each October rolled around. “Why?” Annie asked into the empty room.

As if she’d finally asked the right question, the answer came to her. His illness struck on her birthday, making her a constant reminder to her father of his imminent mortality. And each time her birthday rolled around, it meant he was one year closer to dying.

Her head spun at the revelation. Hot tears stung her eyes. She stared at the blurred paper as the insight gave her compassion for the man she’d grown to resent over the years. For the first time, she saw things from her father’s perspective. Annie thought about what must have gone through his mind when he’d heard the doctor’s words: did he wonder if he’d recuperate; wonder how his family would survive if he didn’t; wonder if he’d somehow let his family down?

She grabbed a tissue and dried her eyes, washed with a sense of understanding. At long last, the heart that was broken so long ago felt at peace. Her childish fear that she was to blame for her father’s illness and the misery her family endured afterward, she knew, would no longer haunt her. Instinctively, she now understood her Daddy never meant his aloofness to hurt any of them; he’d simply been afraid – afraid to leave his family alone, afraid to die. Detachment, both in the form of emotional distance and in alcohol, made it easier for him to face the inevitable.

Annie blew her nose as she pictured his face, smiling, loving – the way it looked before that fateful morning. She remembered the music from that old stereo and how she use to put her arms around his waist, step on his shoes, and sway as he danced her around the room. She remembered whispering, “I love you, Daddy” and his smiled response, “I love you, too, sweetheart.”

She wished things hadn’t changed.


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