Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Just a Taste

Guest Post by Aubrie L. Nixon

The feeling the Iter gives me is unique. I have tried other drugs, of course, but the Iter is specific with its high. I see things that are unexplainable, things that any sane person would call disgusting. But since I am not sane, I continue to crave the dark and disturbing visions that the Iter gives me.

Some of us don’t survive the Iter. You die flying on a cloud of pure bliss as you fade into oblivion. Those of us who survive our first encounter are treated like kings and queens. We are rich beyond measure and could have anything we could dream of. Riches, cars, clothes, mansions, fame–anything we want, it is ours. It is the least they can offer us. But, after having the Iter, we want nothing but to feel the release and music it brings. We are the Iter’s muses, and we need it as much as it needs us. We are one.

I lie there with black leather pants and a dark lacy bra on. My hair is done in an elegant bun, and I have been painted with enough makeup that I might rival them for their beauty. I cannot feel anything from the neck down. All of the feeling in my body is gone. But for the time being, I can see things as they do. The world is brighter. The colors I can see are vast–more than any human brain can even begin to fathom. The first time I tried the Iter I wanted to cry at the beauty that surrounded me. But of course I couldn’t. I have no control of my body. I can do nothing but stare at the lovely room, and them.

The room is a garden in a large greenhouse near campus. The grassy ground is the most lovely shade of pure emerald green. I can see dew drops on the flower petals that surround me. I lie on a bed of fresh, blood-red roses on a table in the middle of the garden. The trees are of varying heights and colors. Pinks and reds, shades that I dream about when I am not here. The night sky is a dark purple, and the stars shine brighter than even the sun. Their beauty physically hurts.

The mirror on the ceiling shows me the scars on my pale skin. They are of varying colors and age. The ones that mark my stomach are many sizes for different organs. I watch as they place plates and trays around my body, filled with bloodied meats and liquids. I am the main event tonight, the center of everyone’s attention. Therefore, my table is the most exquisite. I watch as the masked ones bring in the guests. They are the Elite, the powerful ones. They have paid more money than I could ever accumulate in a lifetime to be here. They are here to see me, to be able to be next to me. It is the highest honor to be the main event.

The music starts as the Iter takes hold, and I become its puppet. I am surrounded by a dozen of them. They are dressed in finery and expensive jewels. They whisper excitedly as they take in the spread on of the table, and their eyes rake over me hungrily. The chef welcomes them and introduces me: Elana Arravey, 22, of Norse descent. Diet: Sparkling water, strawberries, pineapples, and low protein. The crowd applauds excitedly. The chef murmurs a few words in their language, and then she cuts into me. Blood trickles down my chest as she cuts open my skin. Servants catch my blood in champagne flutes, and pass it out to the ravenous crowd. I feel the chef’s hand inside of my chest, as she reaches inside me, through my sternum, and grabs my heart. I watch as she pulls it from my chest. It pulses with life, blood squirting from the valves, painting the chef’s pale, white hand like fondue. It’s beautiful. She places my heart in a bowl.

The bidding starts at 1 million. I watch in the mirror as the heart is bid on by the room. The pulsing never stops, filling the bowl with my blood. The crowd grows frenzied as the bidding war continues. 2 million, 3, 4, 5 million. We are down to three guests left bidding. 6, 7, 8 million. Two guests. 9, 9.5, 10 million. Going once, twice, three times, sold!

My heart, sold for 10 million dollars. A hush goes over the room. It is rare that a heart goes for 10 million dollars, but it is the first time this organ has been touched. It is a trophy to take someone’s heart for the first time. The one that gets to taste my heart comes to claim his prize. I wish I could see him. I hear the crowd murmur their excitement as the chef takes the bowl from the servers and places my heart on a silver platter. I can hear him lick his lips as he reaches for my heart. I smile as he licks it, the blood dripping from his mouth. Just a taste.

It is over in mere seconds, as the chef whispers words in their language again and places my heart back into my chest. She positions her fingers over my wound, and my flesh magically closes. She motions for the servers to carry me away, into the kitchens. I want to cry out because I know my time on the Iter is coming to an end. My legs start to tingle as it wears off, and before I can ask for more, my world goes dark.

I awake in my bedroom, the alarm blaring like a foghorn. I open my eyes, everything around me blurry from the sleep in my eyes. I sigh as I sit up slowly and place my feet on the cold floor. My body is numb except for the dull ache my chest. I smile at the pain, and start the shower.

aubreyAubrie is 24 years young. She plays mom to a cutest demon topside, and is married to the hottest man in the Air Force. When she isn’t writing she is daydreaming about hot brooding anti-heroes and sassy heroines. She loves Dragon Age, rewatching Game of Thrones and reading all things fantasy. She runs a local YA/NA bookclub with 3 chapters, and over 200 members. Her favorite thing to do is eat, and her thighs thank her graciously for it. If she could have dinner with anyone living or dead it would be Alan Rickman because his voice is the sexiest sound on earth. He could read the dictionary and she would be enthralled. Her current mission in life is to collect creepy taxidermy animals because she finds them cute and hilarious. She resides just outside of Washington DC.

Preorder Aubrie’s debut novel DARKNESS WHISPERS, here. 

A Passing Therapist

30484017-368-k42724“Martin,” I hear the voice say. “Martin.”

I raise my head from the desk.

“I’m here to help.” A man stands in my office doorway, but with my lights, off he’s just a backlit silhouette, his face shrouded in shadow.

“I came as quick as I could,” he says.

“Come in.” I blink hard to dismiss the blur in my eyes. “Turn on the light?”

With a flash my vision returns. I squint, allowing my eyes to adjust to the brightness. I see an older gentleman, dressed in a brilliant white suit.

“Please, take a seat,” I say.

He does.

He’s a slender man with glasses and a trimmed mustache; the only indication of his age is his grey hair. He tilts his head back and looks down his nose at me in an uncomfortable stare.

“What’s with the outfit?” I ask, trying to lighten the mood.

He offers a slight smile. “I just came from a funeral for one of my clients, a sweet gal—decided to take her life.” He shook his head unapprovingly.

“Aren’t you supposed to wear black to a funeral?”

“Most do.” He leans forward in his chair. “Well let’s get down to business, Martin. Tell me what’s troubling you?”

As if by command, I shift my gaze from his face to the papers on my mahogany desk. “What do you mean?”

“Obviously, something is bothering you. As a therapist, it’s my job to help with this sort of thing. Have you been depressed?”

I slouch in my chair, the leather’s high-pitch moan expressing resistance. “I guess so.”

“Good. Honesty is the first step, you know. Have you been stressed?”

Many thoughts are muddled in my mind; I try to dissect them, isolate them, but as I do they fade away. I look around my office at the stacks of files in disarray, strewn across my desk and on the floor. In the corner lay a hoard of fast-food wrappers, mingled with junk mail and empty beer cans—traces of my discretions discarded—or collected.

“Yeah. I’ve been stressed,” I admit.

“About what?”

“It’s this damn lawsuit.” Emotion swells in my gut. My jaw clenches and I look at the ground, at anything but him.

“Go on.”

“It’s not my fault,” I say, louder than I expected. “I was cheated, but I’m the one being sued. I’m on the hook for everything—for nothing.” My voice cracks a little.

“I’m not following you.”

I stand from my seat and slam my fist onto a stack of papers. “I didn’t do anything wrong, but they’re taking everything away from me.” In a burst of rage I fling the stack on my desk, scattering documents across the room, a blanket of white covering the office floor.

He looks away, ignoring my action. He waits a moment before returning his gaze into my eyes. “What do you mean by everything?”

“Everything, you moron. I’ve lost the house, the cars, the boat, the land, the business.” I raise a finger each time I name a possession. “I lost everything.”

“So now you have nothing?”

“Are you patronizing me?” I sit down and cross my arms.

“What about your family?”

I think for a moment, trying to summon their image from the back of my mind but it doesn’t come.

He points to a picture on the wall. “Where’s your wife?”

As I stare at the photograph, a longing grows within me. A youthful man embraces a pretty woman, sitting on a park bench, surrounded by fall foliage, while two small children smile and a dog sits guard. That isn’t me. Not anymore.

The therapist persists like a conscience, “where are your son and daughter?”

They’re usually in the house playing, being loud and bothering me but I hear nothing. I’ve been so busy, so engrossed in my task; for a moment I’ve forgotten. I focus on the faces in the photograph and I remember. “They’re out of town with my sister.”

“Did you lose them?”

“I just told you that they’re out of town with my sister?”

“I’m only referring to what you said about losing everything. Did you lose your family too?” He sits in his chair, almost expressionless, too calm, too peaceful, looking down on me, judging me.

“I don’t know, maybe.”

I wait for a reply but there is nothing, only silence—no sound of breathing, no clock ticking. I look at the timepiece; it is still. Batteries must’ve died. The therapist remains silent. I have to fill the void with something, anything.

“Cathy and I have been struggling for awhile now. It’s this lawsuit. It’s destroyed us; it’s destroyed me.” There. An admission, maybe he’ll ease up.

But he doesn’t. His eyes continue to peer, to condemn. So I let it out. “Okay. I’ve probably lost all of them, is that what you want to hear? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t care. She was probably only in it for the money and that’s all gone. And the kids never liked me anyways.” It’s his turn to talk.

“It sounds to me like you’re saddened because of your loss of everything, but everything to you means everything material. It appears you’re trying to minimize the pain of what you’ve really lost.”

“Now you’re not making sense.” I cross my arms.

“Perhaps not.” He leans forward in his chair, looking–peering–into my soul. “So what are you going to do about the depression?”

“Do? What can I do? Aren’t you here to help me? Give me some pills, some advice. Tell me what to do.”

“I don’t prescribe medicine. I’m only here to help you realize as gently as possible.”

“Realize what?” I ask but I don’t mean to. I’m not sure why I continue to play his games.

“You’ve lost everything.”

“I know!” I stand, slamming both hands down hard on the desktop. “Haven’t you been listening to me?”

He doesn’t flinch. “You’ve lost Cathy.”

It hits me like cold water. He’s not really a therapist. He’s here for something else.

“Are you her attorney? Does she want a divorce?”

“Martin, I’m a therapist but not the kind you might think. Cathy’s thought about a divorce, but that doesn’t really matter now.” His gaze shifts away from mine for the first time since we’ve been talking. He’s looking at my desk.

“Why?” I ask. “Because of the lawsuit? Am I going to prison? Are you with the FBI?”

He shakes his head, seemingly surprised with the inquisition. “Unfortunately Martin, your depression will be your prison.”

“If you’re really a therapist, then help me. Please, help me.” The emotion in my voice surprises me. I struggle to hold back tears. He was right. My depression has me bound.

“I’m trying to help you, son.” His eyes look at my desk again. I follow his gaze, looking at my side. Turning my head a little, wiping the tears from my eyes, I see a pistol resting on the desk. I look back at the therapist who offers a soft smile as he nods his head.

“You want to know what I’m going to do about my depression? Maybe I should kill myself and break free from the prison.” I reach for the gun, its handle moist. I look at my hand covered in blood and notice the crimson puddle on my desk, spilling onto the floor.

“Martin,” he says, “I’m trying to help you realize that you already did.”

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

Journeys

This is a short story which I’ve used in workshops to point out that one does not have to write blood-and-guts or pure horror to qualify as a dark tale. This was published in a literary journal many years ago, and it originally appeared in a shared writing project on Everything2.com where a new person would write the next chapter of The Walking Man.


It was a dark and stormy night…

The Walking Man found that the clouds from the south were outpacing him as he trekked over the narrow ribbon of fading asphalt through fields of corn. He pulled his jacket closer to his body, willing himself to build up body heat before the first tickles of water splashed on his thinning pate.

All hopes of a quick sprinkle evaporated when he heard the roaring of the downpour approaching, savagely tearing at the cornstalks and blasting them with gusts of freezing air. As far as the eye could see, the road obliviously stretched itself east and west. There was no shelter, and he knew he would be in for a miserable night.

The howling fury of a storm rocked him when it caught up with his plodding body. In seconds he was drenched and cold; the joints of his hands began to ache with the sudden temperature change. The wind whipped the pebbles and decaying vegetation from the last harvest into a stew of stinging projectiles. The Walking Man tried to shield his eyes, but the absolute darkness that had descended on him, combined with the airborne flotsam, made it impossible to see the road. Only the change between the asphalt and the soil kept him from wandering too far off his course.

He knew it was living when he tripped over the yielding body. It was some form of animal, and it made a small gurgling noise when he crawled back to it. His bruised knees protested painfully and his hands were further injured from pebbles burrowing into bloodied palms. He gingerly reached out and touched a broken cat, run down on the roadway hours or days before. He scooped the cat up as best he could, turned his back to the wind and opened up his jacket to shelter the animal, whose head lolled about from pain and lack of strength.

They bundled together against the shrieking gale, the man shivering from the cold and the wetness and the cat shaking from spasms of pain. The jacket made a decent shelter for the cat, and it stopped gurgling enough to look up and let out a stuttered mewling of thanks.

The Walking Man began to assess the cat and discovered it wasn’t alone. A dead bird had been hidden underneath the matted cat body. Perhaps the cat had been hit when it went after the starling, a bloody chain of events as the killer was himself the victim in one ironic fell swoop. The bird had died suddenly; the cat was paying for its salvation with suffering and time.

The storm kept battering the Walking Man for the better part of the night. The cat rarely made a sound – it was several hours before he realized the cat had died in his arms. Dragging himself to the stalks of corn creating a natural fenceline on both sides of the road, he used several flattened beer cans he found on the way to dig a small hole in the rich earth. He carefully placed the two bodies in the void and thought about erecting a temporary cross until he figured the cat and bird were atheists at best. He placed two flat rocks over the gravesite, wished them well on their journey as he soggily stood up to continue his own.

squish flop…
squish, flop…
squish, flop…

 


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Preserved Rituals

A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.

The stars align, again, an offered choice. In Bearer Thomas’s hands: a jar of strawberry jam and another of apricot.

The pitch portal coalesces over chalk symbols. Gangrenous tendrils burst forth. One preserve falls, the other leaves with Thomas into darkness.

Cultists scramble, inspecting portents divine. The creature beyond wonders why sacrifices are always fruit-flavored.

 


 

About Stephan McLeroy:

Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently working on a new novel when not bearing the burden of process management and implementation at a local cider house tasting room. If you’d like to hear more of his thoughts on things like writing and Elder Fashion Cocktails, check out his blog: http://stephanmcleroy.com/