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Submissions Open for Issue 4, Summer 2017

***DEADLINE EXTENDED AS REQUESTED TO 21ST AUGUST ***

From July 13th to August 12th we are open for submissions for our Summer 2017 edition, Issue 4. Take up your mouse and send us your short fiction, up to 500 words in length.

The theme for our fourth issue, which will see Strippedlit500 complete one cycle around the sun, is “Lovecraftian.” Your editor is an HPL fanatic; feed my appetite for elder gods, non-Euclidian angles, and the lurking horrors and whispered madness that lies, ancient and waiting, in your large metropolis.

You don’t have to use the words “Lovecraft” or “Lovecraftian” in either your title or the body of your story, but your story must deal with something related to the HPL mythos.

Please read our full submission guidelines here.

Bring cosmic weirdness, lurking horror, and unnameable depravity; summon the spirit of shadow covered, muttering Arkham – summon the ancient chaos that is the LOVECRAFTIAN!

For those readers who aren’t familiar with the man and his mythos, here are a couple of links to whet your appetite; what a treat awaits you!

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Don’t Pet The Bunny Rabbit

By Jim Freeze

I have many memories, mostly good and from childhood. You may not agree with my assessment but my memories, however, may be different than yours on the same occasion. That is the memory holder’s prerogative. For example, I thought the possibility of going to hell was something to worry about.

I have a special uncle who went out of his way to make sure my birthdays were unforgettable. He said since my birthday fell on October 31, Halloween, he wanted to separate it from all the chaos of that day. My tenth birthday stands out particularly.

The autumn’s quiet arrival seemed to deceive that year. But as I remember when I looked closely I could see a bit of orange on the Maple leaves, a touch of red on the Oak and the Poplars were turning more and more golden by the day.

I remember expressing to my uncle that year and hoping that he would come up with some ideas that would go beyond the common celebration. He told me that nothing he and I could do would be considered common by the people around me.

There were always fireworks on my birthday but this time with a proud, yet melancholy fervor, my uncle almost cried out loud that this year would be the best yet.

I remember trembling like a leaf as the appointed hour drew near. It seemed the hours dragged by slowly. A murmur ran through the crowd as all the children made ready to trick or treat. My uncle made a special point to tell me not to pet the bunny rabbit. I had learned not to question him so I just made sure to do as he requested.

My first stop was at the house occupied by what was known as the Rose lady who now and then added a touch of home- grown tomatoes to her rose garden. I rung the doorbell and she opened the door.

“My, you are a cute little devil,” she said with a smile. I responded with, “Trick or Treat?”

She looked at me with her wandering blue eyes which were miraculously darkened, and there appeared in them a murderous fire.

“Remember,’ she said, ‘don’t pet the bunny rabbit,”as she handed me a chocolate covered stick of licorice.

As I was leaving the Rose lady, a kid was coming up the walkway and had stopped to pet the cute little bunny rabbit. I thought to myself, this can’t be good. Just then, the sky lit up over the city about 20 miles east of our bedroom community. A missile had hit directly in the center of the town. The shock wave rolled in all directions. We had been warned, but there is always someone who ignores the warnings.

I called my uncle, Lucifer, and told him I believed he may have gone too far with the fireworks this year. My uncle responded, “The happy birthday is over and the sinner takes all.”


Author Bio: Jim Freeze is seventy- one years old and retired. He has been happily married for fifty-two years and has two grown sons along with two grandchildren. He began writing in early 2012 to have something to do or to fool his wife into thinking he’s too busy to help her. His short stories have been featured in several publications including Brilliant Flash Fiction, Calliope Magazine, and The Original Writer.

The Lurker

By Megambiguous

It lurked.

It lurked like it always did, in the desolate, depths of the darkness, just paces away from the triumphant path, observing all who passed in good confidence. So effortlessly did it remain hidden, invisible to the usual bystander, like a ghost sent to haunt those who routinely passed by, just waiting, waiting until their backs were exposed, just waiting to sink its teeth in.

That was its favorite. That’s when it liked to feed; when the threat was not perceived, when the prey felt safest, secure, all guards down, all trust and faith in their physical senses- No, the coast is clear they thought, I can move on. That’s when it would attack, when it would strike its deceptive claws into their backs, instantly returning to its den, only to observe the residual effect of its subject’s confusion.

Its favorite part was when its prey would swivel around to be met with nothing, nothing at all, minds betraying them, longing to identify the threat, longing but finding no evidence to validate their perception. Distrust, they began to feel, distrust in their own cognition, their own senses; now that was its goal, that was what it fed on.

Doubt.

Time would pass, and again it would wait for its prey to pass too, internally cackling at their fear, their concern, their anticipation of attack, fueling him further, as he remained hidden and situated, not today it thought, not today, better when they least expect it, better when their focus is upon greater things, when their desires grow stronger than I, and when they forget I exist; that’s when they are most vulnerable.

The distrust of themselves would grow, as would its power over them. That’s how it kept them there. They could go nowhere else really, how could they? How could they trust themselves to such a thing?

Stay with me my pretty, it thought, stay with me and you’ll never have to rely on yourself too much, not too much at all; your existence will be limited but at least you won’t risk losing more, but at least you won’t risk gaining more.

You belong to me my beloved, it cooed, as it returned to its den, scuttling in reverse to its empty nothingness, its lurking hollow. Yes, I will be here it thought, I will always be here.

They remained. They remained like they always did.


Author Bio: Just a 23-year-old girl, totally on her own, with a passion for writing. Literature has given me the opportunity to live various lives, and I wish to provide others with unique experiences that can only be obtained through living vicariously through another character or story. Life has left me with lots of bumps and bruises, much more than the average girl my age, but I long to provide others with perspectives for their current circumstances, and potentially even connect with the reader, to remind them that we’re not all alone after all- we fight the same demons, we wage war with the same inner conflicts, and despite what we might believe, there’s hope. Though our settings and circumstances may vary, we are indeed still the very same; we are wired for affirmation and we are crippled by our insecurities. That is what I long to portray. I hope to inspire, move, stir, and motivate the reader. I’m just a 23-year-old girl who wants to leave her mark on the world.

I have a personal blog with pieces which genres vary greatly, but I do write to share them nonetheless: megambiguous.wordpress.com

Vivisepulture

By Shannon Bell

I’m not allowed control or choices. You buy my clothes and food. I wear what you want, when you want and I eat what you want when you tell me to. I have nothing and I’m not allowed to go anywhere. You remind me that I’m lower than an animal and don’t need rights or freedom, that the only privilege I need in life is being with you.

“Congratulations. Your ability to inflict pain is remarkable. But I wonder, what is your tolerance for receiving it? Well, my love, tonight we’ll know.”

I smooth your jacket and straighten your tie.

My friends don’t bother with me anymore. You embarrassed and humiliated and threatened them. At first, they were uncomfortable, then insulted, and finally afraid for their safety. I have no one. You tell me that’s the way it should be because I’m a worthless, useless piece of shit.

“Most of my suffering was physical. Yours will be emotional. I lived through mine. You won’t survive yours.”

I tighten the ropes and remove the gag.

When we have sex, it’s rough and painful and borders on rape. I learnt the hard way never to say no. You tell me I deserve it because I’m a dirty whore, a filthy slut who fucks everything she sees, someone who can’t be trusted with anyone or anything.

“Your agony won’t be as long as mine, but my pleasure at being the cause of your anguish will be as intense as yours.”

I stroke your trembling hand and kiss your quivering lips.

It’s hard to clean away the blood and dress your wounds when your bones are broken. I gave up trying to hide the bruises and injuries. I gave up making excuses. Everyone knows, but no one helps me. They all turn a blind eye and pretend they don’t see. Who can blame them?  I’m scared to get anyone else involved. Who knows what you’d do to them.

“No one will hear you. No one will find you. No one will miss you. No one will care.”

I close the lid, climb out of the hole and grab the shovel. I smile, enjoying the sound of your screams, enjoying the sound of the dirt hitting your coffin.


Author Bio: Shannon Bell is addicted to words. You will find him madly writing away in the spare time he has available between holding down a full-time job, being part of a dysfunctional family and looking after his attention seeking dog. His stories have been published in Dark Edifice, Short & Twisted, 101 Fiction and strippedlit500. You can follow Shannon at @ShannonBell1967.

Featured

Issue 3 Is Here (Spring 2017)

See the unseen… we have fantastic, horrific, amusing and tragic tales for you in this issue of our simultaneous blog and PDF edition of Issue 3; we will publish the stories simultaneously on our Twitter page; please do have a read of them, we are proud to present more great new short fiction.

Our theme for this issue was “unseen”; the quality of the writing and storytelling is once again very high.

Scroll down from this post to read the issue 3 stories individually. You can also search for stories by category in the sidebar. The stories are also collected under the Issue 3 Category

Issue 3 is also available in a free PDF file for you to download or read online.

Happy reading, and enormous thanks to all our contributors.

Margaret

Absolution

By Trinity

Miss Tedder’s arm ached. But she bore it with a mixture of stoicism and grim satisfaction; the girl had deserved a slippering, and Miss Tedder had administered a thorough punishment. With a faint nostalgia for the days when children could be struck with impunity before the local education authority poked its nose into the affairs of religious schools, Miss Tedder crossed the path that led from the schoolyard to the church next door.

It was a beautiful building, served faithfully by brothers from the Franciscan order, but Miss Tedder was blind to earthly aesthetics; she sought the comfort and justification of the confessional box, and this morning she had felt that need keenly.

The curtain to the confessional was drawn back; she had timed it right, then! She could unburden herself right away, and be back before the lunch break was over. Settling into place with a grunt, she glanced through the ornate metal grill that separated her from the brother hearing her confession. The church was dimly lit, and her eyes weren’t what they once were, but Miss Tedder had no preferred confessor. Absolution was what she sought.

She murmured the confessional words rapidly, in a perfunctory tone that betrayed no thought for their meaning; “Forgive me father, for I have sinned.” They were a formula, an incantation that was necessary to sanction her actions and bring self-justification.

She shared what she had come to say, confident that the brother would agree with her, and enable the hatred that flowed through Miss Tedder, the absence of compassion that she miscalled discipline.

“She is a difficult child. Quiet, always watching me. Most insolent!”

She continued her tirade against the twelve-year-old girl she had just beaten, for having the temerity to attend school with a button missing from her blouse. The child was slovenly, a reflection of her dissolute family. Her father wasn’t even a Catholic! Miss Tedder had dug out all tough roots remaining from the place where her heart should be and felt no hypocrisy when she lied to herself that her hatred of the child had no sectarian basis.

The child was always watching from her large dark eyes. Plain spinsterish Miss Tedder felt the sting of judgement. She had dragged the girl to the toilets once, ordering her to wash the disgusting eye makeup from her face. The child had obeyed, crying that she didn’t have any makeup. The dark ring around her lashes could not be scrubbed away. Miss Tedder thought of this but said nothing. She waited, impatient for absolution, but her confessor was silent.

From across the courtyard, Miss Tedder heard the school bell herald the end of lunch; she had tarried too long, and her need was met. Perhaps confession hadn’t been necessary; the brother had given her no penance, no act of contrition. He understood and approved her actions!  Miss Tedder rose from the wooden bench, polished by generations of sinful backsides, and hurried back towards the school, where no doubt the children were making the most of her absence.

As she opened the door to leave the church, a sombre-habited figure emerged from a side door. Brother Everard returned to the confessional box, tea in hand. He called to Miss Tedder but she had already left the church. Perhaps it was a sin, but Brother Everard smiled and allowed himself a quiet sigh of relief.


Author Bio: Trinity has no social media presence but is grateful for the opportunity to share stories online.

The Unimagined

By Margaret McGoverne

Meghan was five, and she was cross. Mummy and daddy wouldn’t play with her as much as they used to, and she was in her playroom alone for longer and longer. Mummy and daddy shouted a lot, and mummy often cried.  She had crept downstairs yesterday to see them, but daddy saw the door move and pounced on Meghan, smacking her legs and sending her upstairs. “Only naughty girls spy on their parents!” he said.

Meghan’s playroom was in the attic; it was light and bright, but apart from her dolls and books it wasn’t really a playroom. There was a big brass bed for their occasional visitors but it was Meghan’s retreat now, her haven from her parents’ disputes.

She sat on the rug in front of the cold fireplace; her dolls were asleep, their long-lashed plastic eyes closed. The afternoon sun streamed through the windows, bathing Meghan in warmth. Her parents’ voices were a dull muffle that made her sleepy; she lay down on the rug and slept, thumb in mouth, although mummy said she shouldn’t.

Her nap was short, for the sun still warmed her when she awoke. She rubbed her eyes and pulled her thumb from her mouth – sitting on the bed were two figures Meghan had never seen before.

“Who are you?” she asked, and they smiled at her, although not at each other.

Their names were Tulpa and Enty, and they were here to make friends with Meghan. They were all three about the same size. They looked funny, but Meghan didn’t feel alone anymore. They chatted about her dolls and books, and they played games.

“Did mummy bring you here?” Meghan asked.

Enty smiled slyly, but Tulpa looked sad.

“No, you wanted us to come.”

“I did?” Meghan was mystified, but she was having fun. She had forgotten to be lonely.

Tulpa and Enty came to the playroom every day, and at first, they all played nicely. But one day they couldn’t agree which game to play, and they wouldn’t stop arguing, even when Meghan asked them politely.

“I’ll tell mummy!” she warned. But Enty just slapped at Tulpa and they rolled together, a mass of grabbing hands and pulled hair.

Meghan ran downstairs. Mummy was in the kitchen, Daddy smoked a cigarette at the table.

“Mummy, my friends won’t stop fighting!”

“What friends?” her mother asked, with a guilty start. Maybe she’d forgotten about Meghan.

“Tulpa and Enty, the friends that appeared in my room.”

Her mother’s frown changed into a slow smile.

“I’m sure they’ll stop soon Meghan.”

“But mummy, won’t you come and tell them off?”

An impatient tutting from her father made her mother stiffen. The warm smile died in her eyes.

“Not now Meghan. I’ll bring you some toast soon.”

“Mummy…”

“Please, Meghan!”

She paced dejected back to the playroom. There was an ominous scuffling sound behind the closed door; Meghan was scared, but her mother had told her to go to her room. She peered gingerly round the door: Tulpa lay in the fireplace, her eyes closed just like Meghan’s dolls. Her legs were pointing up the chimney, and as Meghan watched she saw a tiny pair of hands reach down and grab Tulpa’s ankles. Slowly, slowly, Tulpa disappeared up the chimney. She never opened her eyes.

When Tulpa had completely disappeared, Enty’s voice came down the chimney, with a small fall of soot.

“I’ll be back soon Meghan. You had better play nicely…”

Meghan sucked on her thumb and waited on the rug.


Author Bio: Margaret McGoverne is currently writing her first full-length novel while being distracted by short stories, flash fiction and her blog about all things writing.