The Dough Lady lived three doors down from us on the Cul-de-Sac. We would point and scream when we saw her, us on our bikes. She walked so funny, wobbling and slopping about like earthquake Jell-O, probably because she didn’t have any bones. We made fun of her all the time even though we felt bad about it. It was wrong, deep down we knew that perfectly well, but our moms and dads never said anything, they just kept reading their newspapers or watching the news so we kept on doing it. Continue reading
When Dean showed up for work dead, wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit, Vincenzo understood why he had been unable to get a hold of his ex-boyfriend.
“Left,” said Dean’s handler, tapping the zombie with a prod. A faint crackle cut through the air, followed by a blue flash. Dean shuffled past, staring blankly.
Vincenzo’s breath caught. His stomach churned and a chill went down his spine.
“Did you see Dean?” whispered a voice in the next cubicle.
“Zeed,” said Ray in a low voice. “Was he in debt?” Continue reading
“What would you like to see?” Nerissa’s gaze followed the languid path of the three bubbles as she read the iridescing futures.
The rangy man in old jeans and T-shirt sitting across from her, said, “What are my options?”
“You only get one.” The filmy spheres swirled and settled onto the pan of soapy water. In the first pearlescent orb he stood on the street begging for money. That could be a temporary problem or long term. She really had no way of determining length of time. In the next bubble, wearing a nice suit, hair well trimmed, he opened two briefcases filled with hundred-dollar bills, and the last did not have him in it. Or rather, Nerissa saw an arm and a knife. It looked like his hands; he was grabbing a scarf, the knife stabbing forward out of the bubble’s scope. Continue reading
Michael Corson wasn’t sure how long he’d been out when the sound of the old woman chanting awakened him. The last thing he remembered was getting swarmed by Sam Mansi and the rest of Mr. Abbatiello’s goons on his way home from the bar.
Once they surrounded him, Corson had figured that was it. They’d either whack him right there or take him to a more discreet location to do the deed. At the very least, he’d expected to find himself inside of a trunk or with a bag over his head.
Instead, he now found himself bound upright in the back of a large van. Next to him was an ancient looking woman dressed completely in red. Her head was adorned with something that appeared to be a shark skull and deer antlers. She was also murmuring the same phrase over and over again while rattling a small collection of bones inside her outstretched left hand. Continue reading
The prisoner in the metal box was screaming as his cell hurtled across the ground at high speed, throwing him from side to side within. Continue reading
Dr. Vandermeer woke up ponderously and unpleasantly, as if forcefully plucked out of a tar pit inside which he had just gotten comfortably numb and inert.
Lips shrunk from harsh dusty air; muscles wept flaccidly and emptily; head and neck complained of the fragility of fractured glass.
The manhandling wasn’t helping any.
This was no way to wake up after the tar pit. He should at least have had some time to recuperate on a lawn or a bed or a beach towel by the sea…yes, the sea…
“Wha…hey!” he mumbled as he was roughly hoisted upright. Water splashed his face. He finally forced his eyes open. Continue reading
People often speak of having butterflies in their stomach. It is a quaint figure of speech, aptly capturing the gut-fluttering nervousness can cause.
Unfortunately, in Kyla’s case, it was more than that. To her, gastric lepidoptera were not an odd cliché, but an all too literal, all too uncomfortable, reality.
It wasn’t a problem she’d been born with, or had as a child. It started when she turned thirteen. Kyla wasn’t superstitious, but for her it really was an unlucky year. Her birthday was in June, and by October she’d started experiencing the fluttering swell that would only continue to intensify throughout the following months. Continue reading
The ivory tower has no top. Not many people know this. Colin Frye didn’t until very late, not until he’d reached the heights where the Earth’s atmosphere thinned and life suffocated and burned. It was up here, when there was no going back down, and there was no peak in sight, that he began to wonder, that he began to realize. Even then, there were a couple of revelations yet in store. Continue reading
Isaac Clay hauled in a rattling, wheezy breath. His chest pouched jerkily beneath the bed-covers and his thin, tight flesh looked like wax paper in the lantern light. His eyes were closed and turned inward, lost in old times and foggy dreams. He hadn’t said nary a word in a week, and likely wouldn’t in what little time he had left. The breath he’d just dragged in slid out from between his thin lips in a shrill whistle, as if eager to escape the confines of his worn-out body. Continue reading
There’s something moving by the garden fence. Mice, again? Or worse, a rat? Debra puts the washing basket down and almost calls out for Stuart, but then she remembers.
She edges closer. Curled around the cracked base of her abandoned flower pot is a huge slug, sleek and iridescent in the patchy afternoon sun. Once, she would have worried about how to get rid of it, but there’s no point now.
“I wouldn’t stop here,” she tells it. “You’ll go hungry.”
Because there’s nothing for it to feed on in her blighted garden. Not unless it eats gravel and dry, yellowing grass. Continue reading