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Where Witches Drowned

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It made him feel uncomfortable from the moment it entered the house. The moment he saw it peeking out of its carrier bag as Layla rooted around for the receipt. It even made its way into his dreams. Dreams about a pretty little eleven year old girl lying face up in the water, her hair tangled in grasping tendrils of dark green weeds, the hideous contraption floating independently round her body.

And here it was splayed out like a gigantic dead spider in a contortion of spindly suspender legs and crumpled lace. He approached the bed as if it were an open coffin, a warm dribble beading, then darting down between his shoulder blades as he slid a forefinger under one of its metal adjusters.


Tail Lights

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A quick left off of Third Street and I'm right there.

An opening door surprises me, forcing a quick smile. The heavyset man wearing fruit of the loom underwear ratchets that shock up a notch, adding disgust. His beer-stained tank top is shriveled over his bubble stomach, exposing an unsightly amount of hair and skin. If the tip isn't at least three dollars, I think, I'll stop smiling and run him over with my Corolla.

"How are you," -- the dispatch sheet says -- "Jerry?"

"Fine," he says, lightly drumming against his junk like tito puente. "Just fine, my man. Jerry's my roomate. What do I need to sign for the card, guy?"


The Little Wig Factory

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I buried my brother on Black Friday.

People had stood in line for ungodly hours to take advantage of amazing discounts. What was the death of an old man to them? Nothing more than the unknown name listed in the obituary section of the newspaper they had brought to peruse while waiting for the store doors to open.

I didn’t resent the shoppers, though. Just the irony I found in the contrast of their apparent frenzy against my mournful state of mind. Deep inside, I rejoiced in the knowledge that some of those shoppers would be surprised next Halloween.


To Write and Forget

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Isaac Wasserkind you are a lousy writer”, she told him. “You connect the words yet you write nothing new. A real writer invents.”
He could not let his eyes off her even though other landsmen did the opposite. They said she was courted by Stanislaw, a fearsome landsman at the helm of the land guard.
“I write what I see. To write new, I need to see new. I need to see you” his voice fell deep.
It was pouring that day. In the time of quiet it rained a lot.


The Devil's Playground

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“If only...”

“‘If only,’ ‘if only,’” the stranger interrupted, mimicking a whining child before resuming his usual gravelly tone, “Nearly everyone starts with ‘if only.’ I’m sick of hearing it!”

“Can I just get this off my chest, please?” Nigel asked. “After everything that’s happened, I think I’m entitled to rant for a bit!”

The stranger nodded a begrudging assent and Nigel continued, “If only the weather had lasted one more day. It had been perfect all week; dry, cool, light breeze. But come the actual day of the race and the sun comes out blazing like a prize-fighter out of retirement. ‘Someone up there doesn’t like me,’ I thought.”


Once Upon a Lightyear

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“Notruhk, could you please come up here and read your son a bedtime story!” his wife shouted.

Her husband had fallen asleep with his head inside the holosphere entertainment unit again. “Yes, dear – coming,” he managed to blurt out in a groggy daze, not quite sure what was going on. Last he remembered, he was watching a sector level gnilruc game. No wonder he fell asleep. A gnilruc game is just a little more exciting than watching vegetation grow in slow motion.

He got up; shuffled his four feet up the white stone ramp and into his son’s nest chamber.

“Read me a story, daddy!” his son shouted gleefully as his antennae made little circular motions of excitement.

“OK, OK, calm down and let me think... What story haven’t I read you yet? Have I read you Golden mandibles and the three Xoak grubs?”


Perfect Young Couple

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Darlene noticed the couple as they entered.  They looked to be in their mid to late 20s, the better part of ten years younger than she herself.  What a perfect couple, she thought.

They looked like a perfect match.  The guy was handsome, with a powerful build and gorgeous, muscular face.  Must lift weights, she figured.

The girl was stunning — fine brunette hair, exquisitely layered with a slight inward flip just at shoulder length, and attractive bangs that accentuated the beauty of her face.  A perfect face and perfect body that made people think she must be some celebrity who'd come out of seclusion.  Covering this body was a strapless yellow body-wrap top, matching tight yellow shorts, and black stiletto heels. Wish I was a perfect doll like that, thought Darlene.


The Wake Up Call

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"A woman phoned at two this morning asking for Dennis," Tracy said to her friend.

"Dennis?" Laura's brow crinkled. "Who's that?"

"That's what I wanted to know, but she hung up." Fear hit Tracy once again. Lunch ruined, she pushed her Fajitas away and gulped water to quell quick tears.

Laura cocked her head. "Are you okay?"


Who's Afraid?

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Lexie finally wasn’t scared about being followed home by the Night Butcher, even during the solitary walk from the Woodlands Centre on campus after her evening class.  She had all but forgotten about waking up at 3a.m. to check the deadbolt, until she reached the door of her apartment and found that it was open.

The black line between the frame and the green door threatened of an intruder just beyond the threshold. 


The Dulcet Heart

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Sir Deucalion ascended the western stairs of the mountain to the massive central portal of the cathedral and gazed up at the tympanum, where the Lord sat in judgment of the souls of men and women. He had seen no one on the long way up but an old mystic making her way down to the city. He knelt between column statues depicting the ancient kings of the nation’s faith and removed his spurs.

The narthex was dark and silent, hermetic. He passed through another door and into the nave. The vaults high overhead rang with the sound of his boots on the marble floor as he walked down the central aisle toward the chancel. A single candle guttered somewhere in the shadows of the north transept. He was alone.


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