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Latest Stories

May 19, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jo Carroll

The Curl and Vampire

She was a pretty thing to be sure, the little girl with the curl. Her cheeks were as red as blood and her skin as smooth as porcelain. And yet there was something odd about her clear blue eyes—something empty and soulless. She sat atop her throne of building…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Nicole Robb

New Frontier

Still groggy from her hibernation chamber, Stacey checked the readings once again on the ship's control panel.She had read them right. "Tom! Something's wrong." "What is it?" Tom emerged from the back where he had been checking on the twelve hundred sleeping…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Laura Ellison

Remedy

The smell of death hung heavy and pungent in the air. Sickness touched the skin and covered it in a dewy glow that in any other situation could have been attractive. Castellan held a scented handkerchief over her nose as she walked through the village to the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Dylan Thomas Nichol

Forged in Shadows

Screaming was all that could be heard through the bone chilling halls of the dungeon. This was what the supposedly great nation of Hace really was. An ugly abomination lay underneath the stunning Admor Keep, and Caelin made the long journey through it, his…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Isabel Schwaak

Something Stronger

A thick grey stone wall separated the village of Telly Fenn from the wilderness. A narrow path led the way out of the village and melted into a crossroad, from which a crooked path strayed far into the dark forest. The inhabitants of Telly Fenn were content…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jade De-Terville

A Light Bulb Called Tink

“This is more than just a bloody mid life crisis,” Karen said clutching a tattered red book, until her knuckles started going white. She savagely threw the book onto the chequered dining cloth, and ran her hands through her untamed hair. “Oi, mind the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories April Winters

Area Twenty Four and a Half

I, Jim Roberts, got fired today. I didn’t realize Mr. Kerr, my boss, was standing behind me when I referred to him as Kerr-mitt. He failed to see the humor, and now I have no source of income. Looks like my journalistic aspirations are out the window. I…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jeremy Szal

Crimson Snow

16th Day of Regon, Year 455 of the First Dawn I could feel the cold as we climbed higher, the chill reaching into my bones. The wind whispered across the grassland, flapping my black hair over my face. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories B.J.Neblett

Forever

“Segue the next couple of records with a jingle then go into a stop set. I’m gonna get some air.” Hy Lit flashed his agreeable smile, adjusted his trade mark tinted glasses and winked. “You’re a natural, kid.” Then he disappeared out the studio door. The…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories BJ Neblett

Pockets Full Of Wishes

“Don’t put your hands in the pockets!” Jimmy looked at his sister. It was just a winter coat, a used one. It was all his parents could afford. But it was his. He picked it out. Now he stood proudly before the store mirror admiring the blue denim coat with the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Laura Ellison

Consumed

Arlia knelt down on a silk cushion in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath and centred herself. Gramps always told her to do this, sometimes he jabbed her in the sides with his walking stick if he thought she rushed meditation. In front of her the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Paul Magnan

Scorned

I grasped the rough edges of the tombstone and pulled it from the strands of thick, yellowed grass upon which it lay. I set it in an upright position. The words “Dear Love” were carved along the top of the stone. I had carved those words. For a few seconds…

 

 

I was ready to go back to bed or make a drink.  Poor choices, but grief does that.  It was 10 o’clock in the morning a month after Deirdre’s funeral.  I tackled the first problem on my list of chores and looked up landscapers in the Yellow Pages.

 

“I’ve got devils growing in my garden.  Can you get rid of them?”

 

“You talking crabgrass?  Moss?  Grubs?”

 

“No.  One.  A little….”  I didn’t want to use the D word again, worried the landscaper would hang up.  “I’m not a botanist.  You have to see it.”

 

I’d heard about devils growing in a rich guy’s lawn.  Rich people don’t have yards.  They have lawns.  This was some banker in Kansas — Wichita, I think.  The landscaper turned in the guy to the religious wing nuts who ran the town.  Self-styled evangelicals and the like.  They picketed his house, then they posted signs that it was okay to kill the banker because he consorted with the devil.

 

My wife, Deirdre, had told me to keep quiet about politics and religion.  “Just shut up about it,” she said.

 

“But, you can’t let this stuff get away from you,” I argued.  “Evangelist is an anagram for ‘evil’s agent.’”  Matter of fact, the rich guy was shot to death going to the drugstore to get the Sunday paper.  A 13-year-old did it.  A mental defect, yeah, but one with a fully licensed assault rifle.  That’s what happened to my wife last month.  A crazy guy in a 7-Eleven did it, and I keep asking why.  Why’s the world going crazy?

 

Larry’s Landscaping truck pulled up in front of my house.  Not in the driveway.  That was too close to indicating he’d take the job.

 

“Let’s check this out,” Larry said.  Judging by his truck and demeanor — maybe the cigar jammed in his mouth like a rotten fence pole — I believe he was more a yard maintenance guy than a landscaper.

 

I pointed to a patch of ground.  “Under that dirty elm.

 

“That’s not a dirty elm,” he challenged.

 

“It’s dirty to me.  The damn roots pop up yards away.  I have to cut the grass twice a week just to get rid of them.”  I pointed to the little spike sticking up near the surface roots.  “See the devil there?  Red spike with tiny horns.”

 

Larry peered at the thing, then stepped back.  “You should get some Roundup.  Kill the mother.”

 

“And everything else in the neighborhood?”  I’d had enough with death and dying.

 

“Cheaper than me doing it at 75 an hour.”  He turned and walked away.  Right over my petunia bed.

 

I was alone, except I wasn’t.  There was the devil in the garden.  The problem bedeviled a lot of people, like that guy in Kansas.  Or the legislator we once had for a couple of terms.  He found ground devils.  Soon afterwards, he turned liberal, denounced the Repubs and began sitting on the other side of the legislature in the State House.  Then he simply got up and walked away and was never seen again.

 

Back to the Yellow Pages, only to have three different companies hang up when I used the D word.  One even screamed, “Fag Commie pervert, you deserve what you get.”

 

Meantime, the devil had grown another foot taller, taking on a funny shape.

 

That night, sitting on my patio with a beer, I could hear the devil singing, maybe humming.  Hard to make out what it was, like a siren’s song.  Not a police siren.  Those Greek singers who lured sailors onto the rocks.  The song was louder than the night before.  I wished my wife was here to tell me what to think.

 

My neighbor, Morty, came over to sympathize.  “We live in a funny age,” he said.  Morty was a doleful person.  “Who knows what these devils are doing to people?  It’s like those Asians exporting invasive species.  Walking catfish.  Fire ants and killer bees.  Now we got aliens that attack our lawns.  Next thing, our schools and churches.  And don’t get me started about weird processed food, things that we least suspect.”

 

“Maybe it’s a sign.  Not really a plague.  Could even be a nice plague.”

 

“You know, miracles and signs are highly suspect.”  His elbow poked me for emphasis.  “It’s like those people who see an image of Jesus in the screen door.  Hey, woman in Florida sold her piece of toast with the image of the Virgin Mary.  Got twenty-eight thousand for it.”

 

“All I know is that the little bugger is growing fast.  Into a big devil.”

 

I was mystified when the doorbell rang.  Clock said midnight.  I expected Morty, but it was a tall woman with long wavy hair, a heart-shaped shaped face and a smile.  She was draped in a transparent white gown, but like some biblical prophet, she didn’t seem to have any possessions.  No car keys, purse, cell phone.  This was a woman without so much as the fig leaf I remember from my Illustrated Old Testament.

 

She stepped in and I watched her track dirt.  Garden dirt.  From my back yard.  Deirdre would’ve been pissed.  I began to suspect why the Kansas banker and the lawmaker who’d gone liberal got that way.  This wasn’t a devil.  It was an invasive species of angel come to distract me.  From what?  My grief?  The betrayal of love that my wife had taken with her?

 

This one with the muddy feet didn’t speak.  I did the only polite thing.  I invited her to sit down and put a beer in her hand.  Artisanal beer seemed okay to her.

 

She never said a word, just smiled with all the radiance of a sunrise.  I tried to find some way to communicate.  “Are…you…from…New Jersey?” I asked.  “You lost?”  English wasn’t working, so I put my hand on her arm.  Braille seemed to work better than English.  She reached out with two fingers and put them on my forehead.  Wow!

 

Those fingers worked like Walgreens’ best pain killer.  Stuff for spiritual pain.  She sat and smiled silently for the longest time while I sifted memories.  I thought she might be sleepy since it was since it was two in the morning.  I took her smile for a yes.

 

Angela — which is what I named my mute companion — stayed in the spare bedroom.  I was surprised she was still there when I peeked in the next morning.  Watching her sitting on the bed staring and smiling made me feel blessed.  I felt now I could manage the crap at home, the bills and taxes and stuff Deirdre used to handle that was making me crazy.  It was like I had renewed faith.  I could cope instead of going ballistic, even if Angela waved goodbye and went to the next suffering bastard.

 

Morty came to the hedge when I went out to get the mail.  “Still bedeviled?”  He winked, punched me in the shoulder.

 

“Not really a problem, Mort.  No devil to speak of.”

 

“Never know,” he said.  “We live in a funny age.  Miracles of all kinds are suspect.  Miracle workers may really be insane people.”  He gave me a funny look.

 

“Maybe we’re all going mad,” I told him.  “Look at those palookas in Washington, Congress and all.  But there’s a difference between madness and evil.  Between sanity and grace.  Perhaps there’s salvation in our self-destruction.”  I smiled and went back inside to see what Angela was doing.

 

But she was gone, like the dew in the morning sun.  I sat on the edge of the bed, on the impression she had made, and said, “Yes.”  I didn’t know what questions to ask about Angela.  Or Deirdre.  But I knew there were answers.

 

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Bio: Walt bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance.  His work has appeared in over a score of print and online publications.  Two volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online booksellers.  He's also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and a couple of Asian countries

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