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Latest Stories

June 19, 2024
Flash Fiction Nelly Shulman

Welcome, Comrade

“What exactly is the purpose of your visit to Petrograd, Mr. Connor?” The English of my interrogator was impeccable, and I immediately noticed the familiar inflections but decided to keep my mouth shut. Even if he also attended Eton, he was not likely to set…
June 19, 2024
Fantasy Stories Paweł Markiewicz

The Birdies Part V

Alpbach. July 2, 2014 Wednesday. Late afternoon Late in the afternoon, the friends left the dog at home and went to the central part of thevillage. The road there ran down the valley, among meadows. Time after time they passed lonelyhouses and farmsteads…
June 19, 2024
Crime Stories Robb White

Hog Trough Harry

Harold Markham told his cronies at his club that having a certificate from an online college was better than a Stanford business degree. “It’s like having a rocket strapped to my ass,” he claimed, laughing. “People keep promoting me. They think I’m poor but…
June 19, 2024
General Stories Jaimee Alonso-Lundheim

Ghost Light

Stories take shape in the shadows. They start as ideas, tiny seeds in the depths of human minds, quietly being written while life happens. Most of these stories mature with time, a string of moments repeated and passed on like a child’s game of telephone,…
June 16, 2024
Flash Fiction Benoit

Boat People

She suddenly stood and began yelling. Hysteria or planned distraction, was it? His eyes fixed on the folds in her tunic, where a bomb might be. Intelligence had warned to expect terrorists amongst the boat people. Peace sister he said in Arabic. James had…
June 16, 2024
Romance Stories Jim Harrington

Greetings From Spain

Hola de Madrid mi amiga Carla. Is that right? It's been a while since we sat next to each other in Spanish class. Can you believe we'll celebrate our twenty-fifth high school reunion next year at this time? Charlie and I spent our first day at the Parque del…
June 16, 2024
Horror Stories Marvel Chukwudi Pephel

Maria Vamos, Beverly's Vampite At Law

The pungent stench of formaldehyde permeates the air as I enter the candlelit basement. Shadows dance on the stone walls, cast by the flickering flames that provide the only light in this windowless chamber. Yusuf Furthermore sits hunched over a wooden table,…
June 16, 2024
Flash Fiction Chris Elliott

Shucking with Chuckie

Shucking with Chuckie sucked. First, he was left-handed. If you were to his left, he’d elbow your shucking hand. If you were to his right, he’d reach where you were already grabbing a scallop. And, he worked too hard. Everybody worked hard on the Granny…
June 16, 2024
General Stories Michael Barlett

To Have Or Have Not

‘His tears fell on the sidewalk as he stumbled in the street a dozen people stopped to stare but no one stopped to speak. For his castle was a hallway, and the bottle was his friend…’ Gordon Lightfoot CHAPTER ONE The cold wind blew through the canyons of the…
May 21, 2024
Mystery Stories Marvel Chukwudi Pephel

Plant Dreaming Of Sheep

Before I begin, let me set things straight. I'm the chord of delight in a vocal. My name is Lucy. I remember I was dead conflicted. I found myself screaming in a hotel room. What happened to Jon Watts in Nelson was my fault. My vision of life had changed,…
May 21, 2024
Fantasy Stories Paweł Markiewicz

The Birdies Part IV

Vienna. July 1, 2014 Tuesday. Afternoon At 3 p.m. the party ended. Mary quickly left the university building. The woman boarded a tram heading towards the Margareten district. The weather outside was truly summary. The July sun was shining. There wasn't a…
May 21, 2024
Flash Fiction Andre Gouyneau

The Cat's Pajamas

I like Kelvin, my master. He’s cool. I used to be a black and white kitten, but bit by bit my fur became multicoloured and my mind went a bit nuts. I’d consumed more of Kelvin’s leftovers that he’d dropped on the floor than organic cat biscuits. This diet…

I awoke with a strangled cry, startled to find him standing over me.

The Stalker, dressed all in black like always.

Sure, I’ve seen him before, but never up close. Watching me from a darkened doorway, peering through the slats of the dingy blinds in an abandoned house, sitting in the next car over on the subway, standing on the opposite curb as I waited for the Walk signal.

For the most part, I’ve gotten over being afraid. In the beginning, I was terrified. Double- and triple-bolting the doors, nailing the windows shut, willing to take my chances on burning up in a house fire as long as he couldn’t get me. I'd worry that he’d gotten in the house while I was out, check every nook and cranny, places he couldn’t possibly fit, my frenzied imagination granting him superhuman powers. Maybe he could shrink himself to the size of a mouse, wait for me to let my guard down, reassume his normal size and come after me as I soaked in the tub or watched TV.

I bought the gun a long time ago. I used to carry it everywhere, even around the house, but it’s lying in a drawer now, gathering dust. Who knows if it even works anymore? Do bullets have an expiration date like medicine and batteries? Guess it’s a little late to go Google it now.

You know what they say: after awhile you can get used to anything, even a hulking stranger all in black stalking your every move. Okay, nobody says the last part, but I’m saying it. I mean, I still have a life to live. Work, bills, parties, dates. Although my dating life’s not so great—it’s hard to be intimate with someone when there’s always someone else watching. I know people are into that, but for non-exhibitionist me, it puts a damper on things.

After awhile I started imagining that The Stalker was a guardian angel. On the whole, my life runs pretty smooth. Like even though I live in a not-so-great part of the city, I’ve never been mugged, not even in the dark subway tunnels late at night. Maybe The Stalker’s a good guy. Maybe everybody has one; they’re just too wrapped up in themselves to notice.

He isn’t looking so benevolent right about now, looming over me. How’d he even get in? Have I gotten so complacent that I forgot to bolt the door? Now I feel invincible, telling myself he’s protecting me? Does he stand watch every night, and I’ve just never woken up before?

In all these years, I’ve never seen his face. Even now, it’s too dark. He’s too dark. Maybe he doesn’t have a face, just blackness, like the Grim Reaper. I’ve never seen him with a sickle...surely that would’ve caught my eye. Maybe the sickle’s a myth, artistic license to make Death look more interesting. Maybe he hired some fancy advertising firm to spruce up his image.

I can just picture the brainstorming session for that gig.

It needs something. It’s so blah—I know! It needs some color.

But it’s Death. Death doesn’t do color.

I’ve got it! A sickle. He needs to have a sickle.

Then everyone else would just stare at each other, not knowing what a sickle was. Once they figured it out, the guy who came up with it would get huge kudos, a raise...wish I had something like that on my resume. Designed the official image of Death—that would have the job offers rolling in for sure.

Has he been watching me all this time, just waiting to punch my ticket? Surely Death has a pretty full schedule; he couldn’t afford to spend all his time on me, unless he has a staff of underlings on the payroll, like all the Santa Clauses at Christmas.

Maybe he pals around with Santa, picked up the idea over a round of golf. There is all that business about Santa being an anagram for Satan...maybe he’s part of the dark side, too.

I glanced over at the clock. 3:47. Time to get the show on the road or call it a night. Death or no Death, I’ve got work in a few hours.

“Get it over with, or let me go back to sleep already.” That didn’t come out nearly as forceful as I intended, voice hoarse and scratchy. Still, The Stalker turned and walked out with a rustling sound, like leaves scraping in the wind.

He closed the door behind him; I heard the sound of the lock sliding home.

I rolled over to go back to sleep, smiling, finally figuring it out:

All this time, he’s had the key.

 

END

 

 

Vela Damon grew up in the rural south and now resides in The Lone Star State. Her short stories and poems have appeared in 101 Words, Dark Dreams Podcast, Leaves of Ink, The Subterranean Quarterly and several other publications. She has work forthcoming in Hogglepot and Blackout City Podcast. Find her online at www.veladamon.com and www.facebook.com/veladamon

 

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