Encounter

By Elizabeth Bradley

Gravel skittered down the desolate road as Jenn kicked her feet, hypnotized by the crunch and scatter in the otherwise silent air. Fog had descended on the forest suddenly and caught her more than a mile out from camp. She hitched the leather strap on her shoulder, repositioning her rifle and tried to ignore the churning of her stomach. She wasn’t expected back for hours, but the fog had obliterated her chances of tracking anything in the woods. Her t-shirt clung to her slick skin underneath the thick canvas jacket. She shivered.

Trees towered over her, stark and menacing in the semi-darkness. They appeared from nothing and then receded behind her, back into the thickening fog.

Her breath rose in a mist. She gripped the leather rifle strap, her knuckles white. Quickening her pace she glanced around, trying to find something familiar. Had she passed the turnoff?

Two lights appeared, cutting through the fog. Jenn jumped to the side of the road and waved her arms, hoping that the passing motorist would see her. But the lights did not come any closer. She dropped her arms. Slipping its strap from her shoulder, she swung her gun to the ready.

“Hello?” Her words were swallowed by the dense mist. The ground was silent beneath her as she edged forward, years of stalking deer gave her a light foot. A tall figure emerged from the fog. Its back was to her and wrapped in a long coat.

“Hello?” she called again, lowering the rifle. The figure twitched. She pulled the gun up, trained on the stranger. “Can you hear me?”

She gripped the gun tighter trying to resist trembling, adrenaline coursing through her veins. The figure turned. Her stomach tightened and though she tried to speak, no words could escape. The creature standing in the middle of the road was shaped like a man, but there was something wrong. Its features were distorted and stretched. Dark black eyes bore holes into her.

It darted towards her and she pulled the trigger.

The bullet exploded from the end of her rifle in slow motion. A flash of fire. The acrid stench of gunpowder hit her nostrils. The figure raised its arms, pointing in her direction. The bullet swerved and headed straight for her. It slammed into her shoulder and pain blinded her as she fell.

Gasping for air, Jenn gaped at the figure who stood only a foot away. A loud whirring rang in her ears, and the lights ahead grew stronger, enveloping them both in light and sound. With a crack, the figure vanished, and as the light dissipated around her broken body, she disappeared in the darkness.


Author Bio: Elizabeth Bradley is a writer and mother living in the rural Alaskan bush. Her flash fiction has been published in StrippedLit500, and longlisted in AdHoc Fiction’s weekly competition. You can find her on Twitter at @LizjSmith7 She is working on her first novel, which will most certainly feature more aliens.

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Submissions Open for Issue 3, Spring 2017

From February 1st to 28th we are open for submissions for our Spring 2017 edition, Issue 3.

Send us your short fiction, of any length up to 500 words;  we want your stories, your cautionary tales, your glimpses into new, and familiar worlds.

The theme for our third issue is “Unseen.” That quiet colleague whom no one thinks about, that lurking fear of the basement, that health scare, that mystical experience, that unexplained sighting in the sky. What will you make of the theme?

 

What will be unseen in your story? Emotions, actions, people, events, consequences? Or will your tale revolve an actual, unseen phenomenon; what lies at the bottom of the Scottish loch, atop the rumour-muttered hills?

Or will your unseen be an activity, a thing that happened and must un-happen; are there things that must be unseen?

You don’t have to use the word “unseen” in either your title or the body of your story, but it must deal with something unseen.

Please read our full submission guidelines here.

Get writing, submit your short fiction and bring the force of your pen or mouse to that which is, which must be, or was, UNSEEN!

Them Boys

By Brian von Knoblauch

Them boys came buzzing out of the trailhead on their dirt bikes like a horde of angry bees. I heard ‘em comin’ through the woods, tearin’ up the trails. I was tendin’ to my hogs when they went rippin’ by on the main road, gettin’ ol’ Jerry all riled up. Jerry was my dog. He was a good boy and had just turned thirteen. He didn’t like the sound of them dirt bikes much and would snarl and bark at them when they went by, pullin’ ‘gainst his rope. Jerry wasn’ a fan of loud noises; thunderstorms and fireworks scared the shit outta him. I called the sheriff on them boys a few times, but he tol’ me that there’s nothin’ he can do, ‘less they drive on my private property. Didn’t surprise me much, seein’ how his nephew was one of ‘em.

One day them boys stopped coming around. The sheriff came by and he seemed upset, askin’ if I seen his sister’s boy ‘n’ his friends. I tol’ him the las’ time I saw that boy, he and his buddies we’re out on their bikes, headin’ towards the trails on the north end. The damn noise they made gave ol’ Jerry a heart attack and he died mid-snarl. Dropped dead, just like that.

The sheriff didn’t seem to care about ol’ Jer’ though. He thanked me an’ went on his way, headin’ towards the trails. I ‘spect he’ll be back though, soon as he finds the wire I put up ‘tween those trees an’ them boys’ heads underneath it.


Author Bio: I am an IT Manager currently enjoying life in Syracuse, NY.

Tongue-tied

By Shannon Bell

He is laid upon the altar. His heart beats. Fast and hard. Faster and harder. The more it accelerates, the quicker his time on this world draws to a close. He has seconds left. His lips part in a final whisper of farewell. He is no more.

My tongue touches the back of my lips. Eager. Questing. Demanding.

The pain and sadness of his death lingers in the air. I taste it. I breathe it in. The subtle power of it nourishes my soul and extends my life.

She is laid upon the altar. Her heart beats. Fast and hard. Faster and harder. The more it accelerates, the quicker her time on this world draws to a close. She has seconds left. Her chin lifts in defiance. Her eyes fill with anger. She is no more.

My tongue darts from my mouth. Arrogant. Disobedient. Stubborn.

The air around her crackles with the energy of her small defiance. It settles on my skin. The fierce power of it soothes me and energises me.

Hundreds of voices cry and beg. I look at them huddled in their holding pens. Their fate is sealed. When I consume their flesh, it will make me younger. They know what awaits them and their fear hangs thick in the room.

My tongue dances across the roof of my mouth. I clamp it firmly between my teeth. “Not yet my wayward friend. But soon. Very soon.”


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

COWardly

By Shannon Bell

The cow watched me and chewed its cud.

“Stupid fuckin’ animal.” I gave it the finger.

“You’re lumpy as fuck,” it said. “Tragically lost in the void between younger and older, yet to figure out which tribe owes you a badge.”

That’s not possible. A talking cow? And how could a creature renowned for been dumb see straight to my core, voicing feelings I kept hidden in the basement of my soul?

I stormed across the paddock. The cow laughed as I walked away.

###

I looked at the ‘Free Meat Tonight’ sign in the window, stepped into my restaurant, and checked that every person had a platter of thick, juicy steaks in front of them.

“I’m lumpy as fuck,” I said into the microphone. “Tragically lost in the void between younger and older, yet to figure out which tribe owes me a badge.” They all stared at me, confusion written on every face. “It’s ‘all the meat you can eat’ night, so dig in.”

The cow wasn’t laughing now. Oh no. Right now, most of the cow was steaming on plates in front of my diners.

I popped one of its eyes into my mouth and chewed with relish. Its heart and brain were placed before me, swimming in a rich sauce. Yes, it was rude to do it in a room full of customers, but I licked the bowl clean.

A long, low “moo” ripped up my throat, bolted past my lips and echoed through the restaurant. Heads turned, followed by gasps and screams.

Furry ears and blunt horns protruded from my head. A large, pendulous udder bulged out from my stomach and I felt my feet thickening into hooves. My nostrils flared, large and wet and dripping bovine snot onto the tablecloth.

The cow laughed, its mirth ringing through my mind.


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 three issues of Dark Edifice magazine, two Short & Twisted anthologies and three issues of 101 Fiction. You can follow Shannon at @ShannonBell1967.

Meat

By John Xero

In the end, aren’t we all just meat and bone and guts all piled into a greasy sack?

“You gonna eat that?” Benny asked through a mouthful of hash brown, waving his fork at the last sausage on Mitch’s plate.

Mitch looked blankly back at him.

There’s machinery in there as well. Bits of gristle and flesh that make things go up and down and wave around. Flapping things. Springy things.

“Earth to Mitch. You home, buddy?”

Bits of potato sprayed from Benny’s flapping mouth hole.
There is something else, call it a spirit or a spark. Hesitate, perhaps, to call it intelligence. Something that coordinates, and something that rises above even that, something that defines an individual.

Mitch shrugged loosely, “Sure. Have the sausage.”

Benny didn’t hesitate. His fork leapt the Formica tabletop
and speared the sausage. To his credit he did pause, a moment, before biting it in half.

Long enough to speak.

“You don’t look right. You’re thinking.”

Outside the café the world scrolled onwards. Meat sacks in their tin cans. Meat sacks taking smaller meat bags for walks on bits of string. Meat sacks hanging on to each other as if they might suddenly fall off, or fall apart.

Benny shoved the last piece of greasy breakfast into his toothy hole. The ground pork went round and round in his mouth, and his tongue flapped words at Mitch, meat in meat in meat in meat, “What’s up, buddy? The job getting to you? I seen it before, grave digging ain’t for everybody, most people don’t like to think too much about death, you know, about what happens to our bodies afterwards, just dropped in a hole. I mean, sure there’s all that serious business, pomp and whatchamacallit circumstance, but that’s more for the living, ain’t it? Or is it Jeanine again? It is, ain’t it? Jeanine. I thought we were over that. She’s old news, and we’re better off without her. She was never good enough for you, buddy.”

Bits of meat, doing meat things, making more meat to do meat things all over again.
Mitch sighed and focussed on Benny, “She was too good for me, Benny. We both know that.”

“Hey, I’m trying to cheer you up here. Besides, you’re a thinker, look at you, thinking away, and let’s face it, she… well, she wasn’t, was she?”

And inside the meat some brightness you might call a person. Some shine that makes them special. Except, get rid of all the flesh and guts and bones and bits and there is no spark, no spirit, there’s nothing, at all, just blood stains and scratch marks.
Time and bleach gets rid of even those.

“Listen, buddy, what say I fix you up on a date. There’s this friend of Sally’s; she’s not, well, she ain’t the prettiest, but she’s proper clever, and funny. You gotta get over Jeanine. She left you. Walked out of your life. Vanished. You gotta stop waiting on her to come back.”


Author Bio: John Xero has been publishing flash fiction on the internet for a decade and a half. Fiction of all lengths is the *legal* way you strip away all the fleshy bits and expose the monsters within.

He is the editor at 101fiction.com. He will almost definitely one day maybe tweet more @xeroverse