Stories

Lycaon, Part One, by Garret Schuelke

#action #adventure #fiction #flashfiction #lycaon #scifi #shortstories #werewolf

Banner knew that he should have never got a can opener from Goodwill. Even if they did give it to him for free, it still refused to properly open the can of beans that he needed to complete his chili.

He heard a train coming. He pledged that if he couldn’t get the can open by the time the train appeared, he would whip the can opener underneath the wheels.

On top of the train, Gareth woke up. He looked out at the Thunder Bay River. He sat up and stretched out. Being away for this long still hasn’t changed anything, he thought, scanning the streets. Same businesses, no new attractions, not even any kind of construction going on.

Gareth put on his backpack. “Chicago, babe, expect me back ASAP. Once I save this hole, I’ll be back home to stay.” He jumped off the train as it started to slow down. “For some time, anyway.”

Banner cursed the can opener. He threw it towards the tracks. Gareth felt something hit his leg as he landed. He looked down to see the can opener tumbling down the gravel.

“Oh Jesus, I’m sorry, man,” Banner yelled, running towards Gareth. “I swear, I didn’t mean to hit you!”

“Can’t get the can open?” Gareth asked, pointing at the can of beans Banner was holding.

“Yeah, and I got my chili cookin’ right now. It wouldn’t be the same without these beans.”

“I got a can opener that’ll work,” Gareth said, putting his arm around Banners shoulders. “Let’s go to your pad and I’ll dig it out.”

Gareth put his backpack down when they got inside the dilapidated train shack. He dug the can opener out of one of the side compartments. Making sure that Banner was still stirring his chili, Gareth concentrated on transforming his right hand. His hand tightened, and his fingernails grew into claws. He stuck a finger into the can, and circled the top until the lid came completely off. He relaxed his hand, reverting it back to its normal state.

“Here’s your beans,” Gareth said, dumping them into the chili. “You can take my can opener too. I’m not going to need it anymore.”

“Thanks much, man. You sure don’t you need it, though?” Banner asked.

Gareth shook his head, put on his backpack and headed out the door.  “There are a lot of things I don’t need anymore.”

Gareth searched through the shelves where the Alpena News and other Michigan newspapers were for stories on the wolf attacks that occurred in Alpena County over the last month. He copied the articles, and snuck out of the library to avoid paying the copy fees.

He headed over to Save-A-Lot. He scoped out the front entrance in the alley across from the store. After thinking over what he remembered of the store’s layout, he tied his grey mask over his eyes. He transformed, stretched his legs, and ran into the store.

He swiped some hamburger patties, barbecue sauce, and a package of white bread. Running out the store, he nearly ran into a girl who was texting.

His last stop was Tarters Party Store.  He planned to swipe a bottle of red wine, but then he saw the 24 packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon that were right next to the entrance. Aw yeah, he thought. Using his super speed, he darted across the street, swiped one of the packs, and sped down Chisholm towards downtown.

Read part two.

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Peru Unknown, by Shannon Ferretti

#flashfiction #peru

You walk to the edge of a ravine. You look down, but all you can see is sharp rocks for hundreds of feet down and twisted vines crossing to the other side. You hear the sound of rushing water, but aren’t sure just how far down it is sounding from. You knew the indigenous child ran this way and you saw it go down, but where? It didn’t shriek or scream or scramble like the way you would think a child falling to its death would have done. You must be missing something.

You stand as close to the edge as you can. You’re shaking and your stomach feels as hollow as the never ending chasm in front of you. You saw the child run this way, you knew you did. You kick some loose rocks over the edge and watch them bounce off the razored edges and quickly fall out of sight. You kick again, harder, and watch the rocks ping to the other side before falling to their own pointless doom.

The ping echoes through the sound of the rushing water and as you slump down in defeat, an idea strikes you. Images of Tarzan and Jane fly through your head as you shake it. You hear your graduate professor laughing at you when you explained you could find the last indigenous tribe of Peru on your own and have them let you study them. You think back to that night last week, when your tour guides found where you sewed the last of your cash into your sleeping bag while you bathed in the river. You take a deep sigh and stand up again.

Your sense of defeat transforms into a sense of grim determination. You start grabbing the sturdier looking vines from the trees over your head and yanking them purposefully. The first one falls on your head with a tumble of small leaves and what you’re sure are deadly insects. You yank another, but it looks too short. Third time’s the charm, you think as you gaze up. You size up a long vine as thick as your wrist. You give it a strong tug and it bounces back vibrantly. You wrap the vine around your forearms and take a running start.

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Wired Phoenix by Gary Hewitt

#creepy #fiction #flashfiction #halloween #phoenix #short stories

The evisceration was almost complete. Samways pointed to the corpse. Two employees hastened towards the cadaver.

“He’ll do. Bring it back to the lab.”

* * * *

John Fernandez enjoyed the warmth of the light. The previous agony had long vanished. He remembered his team never had a chance. The ambush was brief and savage. His last memory was of a bullet shattering his skull.

The worst thing was waiting for death. The torment knowing you’ll never see your family and friends and the fear of what comes next.

This was nice, peaceful and so many old faces from his past. Sylvie. He remembered falling in love when he was eight. She looked the same now as back then. He remembered how she fell ill when she reached nine.

Poppy. His first dog. How he cried when he passed. The canine hurtled towards him, yelping after a long delayed reunion. The light was his. The feeling was beyond bliss.

The image disintegrated into painful pixels. His vision changed into ones and zeroes. His thoughts turned to binary and paradise darkened.

Impossible. He was dead. His brain cells decorated the crust of the desert. He wanted to go back to the light.

* * * *

Brilliant. The process connecting the new hardware to the host was messy, yet had been an outstanding success. Inserting the necessary wires to recover the neural pathways had been tricky. They were almost ready.

“Simon, run the program.”

He pressed Enter yet the cadaver remained lifeless.

“Shit. We should have had something happen.”

Samways was interrupted by a dreadful scream. His glass of water fell and shards splattered onto the parquet floor. His team looked for guidance. He thanked God he insisted on restraints.

“It’s fine, just residual feedback. He should calm down once we’ve got him accustomed properly.”

The screaming stopped. John Fernandez began to breathe.

Samways flipped open his notepad and began to write. He had stepped beyond genetic engineering. John was the world’s first android and his property.

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A ’40s Detective Sells His Story to the Movies by Robert King

#action #dark and stormy night #detective #fiction #flashfiction #noir #thriller

Untitled

Meanwhile, on a dark and stormy night that soaked the homicide report I carried, I went for the second time seeking clues in the room of the mysterious murdered heiress. Needless to say she wasn’t home.

Or was she? Her perfume still smelled like trouble. As soon as I closed the door behind me and before I found the light switch, a shapely shadow, dressed in the color of night, emerged from a dark corner and crossed the dim light of the window.

The way everything was flickering, I thought someone had left a projector running, but it was a lady dressed in black doing the running. I couldn’t see her face, but she had to be the most beautiful babe in the world.

“Stick ‘em up!” she commanded. I thought she pulled her piece to shoot me down, but at gunpoint she slammed my raised hands into the bedpost and locked the cuffs. No, my dear reader, you don’t know how it ends.

Getting her kicks, I guess, she forced half a bottle of Kentucky bourbon down my throat, lit a Camel, took a puff, and blew smoke in my face. “Was it good for you?” she purred. Pretty smart cookie.

Whether it was the booze or the smoke, I passed out like technicolor into black and white
as all the power went off in the building, the only light a sputtering bar sign and swords of lightning outside. When I came almost to, all I could see of her was a glowing coal about lip high.

Then I heard Tootsie (as I like to call her) chugging the bottom half of the bottle, opening another―gin this time, I detected, by the smell of pine needles―and pouring it all over me. Cuffed helpless I was no match for her, so she struck her own, lit a new Camel, and threw the burning match down on my booze-soaked chest. The cheap gin wouldn’t burn. It just sneezed a few times, then flamed out. Still, I was so tanked up with 90 proof that I was afraid to breathe.

Confused by the homicide report and the way this story was going, when I cooled down I asked her if she was alive or dead. She said she wasn’t that kind of girl. She never said anything more. During the power outage, the Camel burned down to her classy lips.

Or did it? In the light of day, she had vanished like a bad habit, leaving the .22 caliber pistol with a cigarette stub in the lips of its barrel, the hair on my chest singed, and this case still wide open. Only the scent of her perfume, like a drifting clue to follow, stayed in the room. It smelled like gasoline.

Some dames like it hot.

Robert’s website is http://robertsking.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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Science fiction, Stories

“Dust” by James Smith

#contemplative #dust #flashfiction #scifi #shortstories

There is a man downtown who swears he’s seen the end of the world.

And where he lives – downtown – being a naysayer, prophet of one god or another or a doombringer with a sign proclaiming ‘The end is nigh!’ is about as common an occupation as a plumber or shopkeeper. But the man downtown is different.

For one thing, he sits in a café all day, reading the newspaper, only getting up to relieve his bladder or tip the waitress enough they don’t kick him out.

For another, he won’t say a word about it – not even a hint unless he has to. You sit opposite ehim. He welcomes visitors especially. He puts up two fingers at the waitress he smiles so sincerely to, and then makes a ‘T’ shape with his palm resting horizontally across his fingertips. ‘2 T’.

You talk. About the weather, the rain and the fog, how this football team or that is destined to win one league or another, what his friends used to say during the ‘olden days’. It doesn’t matter. And when the conversation lulls – when neither you nor he has anything else to say – he leans backwards, takes a drag on his cuppa and whispers:

“I’ve seen the end, you know.”

You lean forward too. His breath stinks but is not rank – leafy and milky, exotic yet homely. The man downtown wears a tweed jacket every day. The sewed-on brown patches over his elbows are genuine.

“How does it go?” you ask.

He pauses. The tea returns to his coaster. At first, he ducks the question.

“Heat and energy and light.  In some corner, beyond the touch of light, hidden among clouds of ash and in a deep and mineral stew, a spark ignites. A cell smaller than a single strand of DNA replicates and divides. Rising, gaining consciousness. This is dust. The dust was formed and made. The dust awakened. And the dust began to think.”

Then the man’s eyes glaze over, as they have so many times before. This is just an iteration –a phase, something passing. The traveler to whom he departs the most  blessed and beatifying knowledge is different, yet so much is the same. You read this from the w-crease on his forehead.

“First the stars go out. Light—traveling millions of light years across existence to reach our blue marble will be gone. Suns and stars will supernova, and the matter that gave them birth will be gone. Then the planets follow suit. Galaxies and nebulae and brilliant, bright things will vanish. All that was, all that is, all there has ever been. This they call the dying of Light, friend.

“And slowly, everything will recede to a single point, and when we are alone in the void, when the sky is black, unsullied velvet, unmarked with anything we ever saw before, there will be anarchy and discord.

People slaying other people – breaking up instead of uniting. Some will be hurt. Many will die.

“Eventually, we will be like a bubble on the edge of a lake, heaving ourselves further into the briny depths of the bygone. It will be gone. All the teetering works of art and culture and all that came before and after. Kings fail, dynasties rise and fall, and men die. And, perhaps, come of those man will climb the slipping sandy shore, and look out into the depths. They will think, they will question and, eventually, protest. “I am important,” this wise one might scream. “I matter. It’s not fair!” It doesn’t matter.
The page turns.”

He sips, and you want to copy except you cannot because you are full of sound and fury. Anger builds within you, like the burning bricks of a wall. You shout at him: “Then why? Why tell me this? Why bother when everything’s going anyway?”

The man downtown doesn’t answer. You storm out of the café.

“Wait,” he says. “Wait.”

You slink back in. “What?”

“An answer, sir. I’ll give you one to any question.”

“Fine,” you say. Nothing can be worse. “What happens after everything recedes? What happens to the point?”

He stops.  Breathe out.

“Heat and energy and light.  In some corner, beyond the touch of light, hidden among clouds of ash and in a deep and mineral stew, a spark ignites. A cell smaller than a single strand of DNA replicates and divides. Rising, gaining consciousness. This is dust. The dust was formed and made. The dust awakened. And the dust began to think.”

Dedicated to Leo.

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Colette’s Feet, by Scott Topping

#colette #feet #flashfiction #literary #quirky #shortstories

feet

by Scott Topping

Last week, Colette’s feet ran away. Since their departure, she has been following their indolent so-called adventures on TV.

Her friends told her she should have expected her feet to leave her as much as she ignored them.

“You watch too much TV,” they tell her. And they spit out other clichéd criticisms—enough to form a spray, like a warm, wet shield to protect themselves from deserved insults that should be coming their way. “You’re getting fat and lazy,” her sister said. Can you believe someone actually said that? Especially her. Sad, lonely woman. She’s always on the go, but where the hell does she go? To the same places, meeting the same man different body over and over again, some of them not even courteous enough to have a different name than the one they replace.

Movement is overrated.

But not for feet. Frankly, Colette didn’t even notice at first that her feet were missing. If she didn’t have to get to work and to the bathroom, she wouldn’t even mind. Colette’s stubs are cold. She lies on the couch in a flattened j shape, held partially upright by her left elbow, and covered like a banana with an afghan peel. The afghan is black like the one on Roseanne. The afghan has also been off the air for years. She watches her feet on TV signing autographs in Tucson. She’s to blame for that one. After seeing a show about an artist who had lost her arms, she practiced writing with her feet for a week or so. The experiment lasted longer than her forays into juggling, sign language, crochet, and sword eating, mostly because she seemed to have a knack for foot writing. Now her feet are taking all the glory. Feet are so vain. Colette is angry at her feet for embarrassing her on TV, more than for leaving her. The phone rings. It is her mother. “Do you see your feet on the TV?” “Yes, Ma.” “They look so pretty. Much better than when they were with you.” “Yes, Ma.” “You know what people are saying.” “What people?” Colette suspects that “people” is her mother. “They say that if you would have used them more, you know, paid a little attention to them, they wouldn’t have left.” “I’m fat and lazy.” “I didn’t say that. Why do you always have to be so sarcastic.” Her mother inhales and exhales loudly, as if trying to calm herself down, or as if trying to ignite an entire cigarette in one breath. “All I’m saying, I mean, is . . .” “I told you so?” “You should really get out more. Now your feet are doing it themselves.” Colette thinks about how her mother watches at least 15 hours of TV a day and never goes anywhere. She also thinks that only her mother would take her feet’s side over hers. Her whole body is tense. Had she been the Hulk, her thigh muscles would have ripped through the afghan. “Yes, Ma. It’s kinda hard now. With no feet.” “Did you hear about your sister’s new car?” The foot topic is gone. The channel in her mother’s head had been changed by god’s clicker. The next several minutes are spent explaining the beauty and wisdom of her sister’s latest purchases and decisions. Colette flicks through the channels herself, but on an actual TV, remembering to make a noise every so often when her mother’s voice rises or stops.

The next day Colette’s feet are in Idaho promoting potato appreciation week. They are dirty this time and seem proud of being dirty (as much as one can tell from a foot’s posture). The TV announcer says that the feet are heading further west and should be in California by week’s end. Rumors of a movie deal float about like a dog-shaped cloud about to rain. A tabloid reports that her feet are planning to divorce her. Celebrity lawyers debate the ramifications of such a precedent for twenty-four hours on the twenty-four hour news channels.

“What if my head wanted to get up and leave?” one of them asks rhetorically.

Colette wonders as she watches if she should have gone more places. She scripts an O. Henry scenario in her head about getting active now, stomping from place to place with her two pegs like a twice unfortunate pirate. Maybe she would get on TV. But the twist ending, the satisfying irony of a woman who loses her feet and then begins to travel, is not to be. Simple couch reverie and nothing more.

In a moment of self-pity, she decides that everyone is right about her: she is lazy, and her life has been wasted. These are her falling asleep thoughts that fortunately begin to speak less clearly and audibly than the voices on her TV, programmed to run for an hour after she goes to bed. Her anxiety turns to a peaceful laugh track. “If your life is a waste, what isn’t a waste?” the laughs tell her in their secret language. By morning, she rationalizes that her way of life is satisfying. To hell with others. She will do what she does and nothing more. She has always felt some guilt, she thinks, because of the urge to go someplace; not having the feet around will leave her less conflicted, more peaceful. Besides, doing nothing in one place is certainly more efficient than doing nothing in many places. Movement, as they say (or at least I said earlier), is overrated. I repeat the expression now simply to inform you that Colette shares my opinion.

She fantasizes about her feet coming home, knocking, kicking at the door, and how she will turn them away. “Find a new body,” she would say. “You’re not welcome here.” And she knows they will come home. They always do. She smiles when she thinks about the expression “getting a foot in the door,” then she makes herself comfortable on the couch.

On the TV, her feet have suffered a rusty nail injury in Washington and have been rushed to the hospital. The announcer urges viewers to pray for the feet. “They are in our prayers,” says a woman in pink, holding vigil outside the hospital. “God bless those feet. They are living all of our dreams.” “That’s what you get for walking,” Colette says to the TV. She turns the channel and ignores the ringing phone. Her stubs are quite comfy, tucked firmly in the black afghan.

Scott Topping’s website, uglycousin.com, is on hiatus until his hands return. Until then, you can find him on Facebook.

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Zero Monsters by Kaitlin Wickstrom

#beauty #fiction #flashfiction #food #poetic #sex #womenauthors

zm

We all thought Natalie was the most beautiful, besides Marigold, whom everyone knew believed she was the most beautiful. Secretly, everyone thought that they were the most beautiful, except for Marigold, who thought it out loud. Leanna thought Kim was the second most beautiful, next to Natalie. Natalie thought Marigold was the most beautiful and then herself. I thought Marigold was the most beautiful and then Natalie.

Natalie was the most beautiful because we all decided that we liked her lips and thighs, which were thick and smooth. Walking and talking, she looked like she was inviting you to some spectacular event. We kept quiet, but stared, as she mowed her lawn in her bathing suit in the summer. Her legs sweating with effort, the grass cutting at her skin. She smiled at our husbands and was sweet to the touch as well.

At our barbeque she wore he mother’s white lace dress. She greeted us enormously and kissed us each on the cheek with her warm meat lips, and lingered for a second, on our backs, with her warm heat hands.

Marigold too, looked exceptionally beautiful at the barbeque. She pinned her hair back, so we could cut our steaks on her cheekbones. We wouldn’t feel weird about it either, because her skin was browned and rosy in the center parts. Her husband wouldn’t mind at all, because he liked to cut his tension on her ass.

Carmon showed up late, reminding everyone that Natalie was the most beautiful. Her hair was pulled up in an ugly bun, just in case she had to run away, or stop her children from sticking their fingers in unfit holes, or consuming things that weren’t meant for their mouths. She smiled to compensate for her lateness, her ugliness, tiredness, and her husband. She smiled to compensate for her husband who was smile -compensating for his ugly wife. We all then talk-compensated for Carmon’s ugliness, her husband’s rudeness, our acknowledgment, and Natalie and Marigold’s beauty. Today, Marigold might have been the most beautiful, but it’s hard to tell with these sorts of things.

The table was set lavishly with almost everything we wanted. Potato salad, baked beans, corn bread, strawberries, corn on the cob, fried brussels sprouts, fruited Jello, and so much more.  Marilee and Janet brought dessert. Ferra, like Carmon, came empty handed, reminding us all to look at Natalie, who brought three side dishes and sangria.

We hesitated longer this time than usual, it seemed, because I think we all really liked Natalie. She was so lovely after all. Strong, too, like a leader, and we were proud of her.

But eventually, inevitably, we all became too hungry. Natalie was far too beautiful, and it had become too much for us, before we were even friends.  So Leanna, Carmon, and I invited Natalie into Leanna’s kitchen to pick out her very own knife. Smiling, Natalie picked out the loveliest, sharpest, tiniest knife in the kitchen and handed it to Leanna to rinse in the sink. Natalie’s little fingers reminded us in private that she was in fact the most beautiful, and by far the best decision. We apologized to Natalie profusely, explaining to her that everyone would be so upset and would be starving if we were to continue the way things were.  Knife in hand, Leanna, Carmon, and I looked at one another and agreed: monsters are one of a kind.

Leanna, Carmon, and I carved everyone a serving of Natalie’s meat. There was so much to go around, which was appealing and promising. Marigold, pinning her hair back up, carved her husband’s piece on her cheekbone. The juice dripped down her chin and then her bosom. We all laughed to compensate the plentiful meat and our insatiable hunger. Then we devoured her, ravenously, ripping every piece away.

After we were finished, we drank wine slowly. We were much too full for the dessert Natalie had prepared. Marigold sat outside of our circle, smoking a cigarette, worrying. I was worried too, it was obvious, Marigold was next. I looked at her for a long moment, trying to apologize.

“I think we can all agree now,” Leanna said to all of us, initiating a toast.

We all agreed, and raised our glasses to Marigold, our most beautiful friend.

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