Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Will Wait For You

"I WILL WAIT FOR YOU" - Dorothy Davies

The City of London, ancient as the ground it stands on, modern as the towering strange buildings it has seemingly manufactured out of nothing, has more than its share of graveyards.

The worker and casual visitor to the Square Mile, where money changes hands at an alarming rate, where fortunes are made and lost, where the Bank of England sits like the old lady she has been likened to and holds on to the riches she has acquired over the countless years of being in the centre of the Square Mile of commerce, are not always aware of them.

Most cities never sleep, but this one does. This one closes down at night, leaving the rats and strays to haunt the narrow alleyways, the wide affluent streets, the banks of the great never sleeping river Thames. The vagrants shuffle into marked chosen doorways with their newspaper blankets and cardboard walls, which they zealously and jealously guard; newspapers, cardboard and doorways, that is, to settle down for the night; so much litter swept to one side, so much misery wrapped in paper and tied with string.

In Temple, haunt of barristers and clerks and worried litigants, the gas lamps sing their litany of warmth and light to nothing but empty courtyards and silent Chambers. The drinking place alongside the great City church lets its lamps invite in those who have money to buy their way to oblivion, if that be their wish, but who close early most nights for lack of custom.

Into that strange half-haunted world come the non-people.

The City, graveyards, buried rivers and deep sewers once worked in by men called toshers who searched the murky disgusting depths for money, rags, bones and any other treasures that could be found, is a natural place for the non-people to live. Their homes have long since been disturbed, their memorials left leaning against walls or built into the walls themselves, a token nod to their memory. They come seeking revenge and retribution and remembrance.

It is surprising how few know that the bodysnatchers plied their trade there, resurrecting corpses for the anatomists in the great City hospitals, especially Barts.

Few know that among those who called themselves non-people are those who live on blood. Non-people who take on the cloak of humans in order to get what they want and need. Humans that are mostly ignored or scorned.

Those who trespass into the City at night find this out at their cost – the ultimate cost, their lives.


The night was drawing in when Karl stumbled into the City from the West End, drunk, heartbroken and lost. He had one thing left in his pocket, the ring his bride-to-be had thrown in his face during a bitter argument in St. James’s Park. She had stormed off in one direction; he had stormed off in the other, and sought consolation for his sorrows in the nearest pub. He then ended up walking without realising or even caring where he went. The words they had thrown at one another over some stupid, infinitesimally small item were of such bitterness and ferocity it was clear they could never speak to one another again. Somewhere in his drunken stupor, Karl realised that it was not the item which had caused the row but long built up tensions which had finally exploded. Better before the wedding than after, he tried to console himself.

It didn’t work.

The City was quiet, only his heels disturbing the night as he stomped his way down Cheapside, heading for who knew where? Alone in a city of towering heartless buildings, shuttered and barred for the night, offices which held the secrets of millions of people in its archives and databases, vaults which held wealth beyond belief, especially those of the jewellers in Hatton Garden – ah, if he only had the skills to break in, to handle the beautiful gems and elegant pieces, if only, if only...

In a moment he was stone cold sober. The ring in his pocket seemed to be burning its way through the cloth, heating his skin. He pulled it out and went to throw it, but stopped. The diamond was worth something, the gold was worth something, why throw it away? Why not choose someone worthy of having it as a gift ... one of these vagrants, stinking and snoring in a doorway? Why not be truly magnanimous and give the gift of a lifetime to someone, change their future forever? Well, perhaps that was going a little too far but still...

He had no need of it. He could not bring himself to walk into a jeweller's and sell it, for they would know what had happened, and pride, that all enveloping sin, would not let him do that, not allow someone to smile sympathetically and wish him better luck next time. Best to give it away and start over again – if there was a next time.

But which one of the human flotsam could he give it to? Why was one more deserving than another?

Random luck, he told himself, like winning the lottery, sometimes they draw the lucky number, the rest of the time, for some, the rest of their lives, they don’t.

He stopped by a particularly savage looking drunk, long grey hair tied back with string, huge shaggy beard, incredibly lined face and gnarled twisted hands clutching the newspaper tightly to his body. The night was not cold, but habit dies hard.

‘Hey you!’ Karl nudged the sleeping man with his highly polished shoe, provoking a grunt that could have been ‘clearorff’ or something vulgar. He couldn’t quite make out the words. He tried again. ‘Look, I’ve got something for you.’

The eyes flicked open and for a moment Karl felt intense fear for they were black and soulless. Then the man blinked and the face changed.

‘What’d’r’yer want then? I was kipping.’

‘I want to give you something. I don’t want it any more, it’s worth a lot of money and I chose you to give it to.’

‘What is it?’


Karl held out the ring and the man took it, suspiciously turning it every way he could.

‘What’s the catch?’

‘No catch. I broke up with my fiancé and that’s it, end of relationship. I don’t want to sell the ring, I want to give it to someone else to sell.’

‘No one gives someone sommat for nuffink. What do you want me to do for it?’

‘Nothing.’ Karl was beginning to despair; the man was not grateful, just suspicious. ‘Look, it’s not stolen or anything, just take it and in the morning see if you can trade it for money to help you live.’

‘Now who’s gonna believe I got this legit?’

Karl was baffled. It was something he hadn’t thought of, not for a moment. Of course, how could someone looking and smelling like that walk into a jeweller’s and trade the ring for cash?

He made up his mind in that moment. ‘All right. I’ll remember you. I’ll be back in the morning. I’ll sell the ring myself and bring you the money.’

The teeth were stained and black but they still showed themselves in a grim smile. The vagrant grabbed Karl’s arm in a tight vicious grip. ‘I’ll wait for you.’

‘I will be back.’

‘Don’t you go ratting on me. You don’t promise me a lifeline and then rat on me. I’ll wait for you.’

Nodding, Karl stuffed the ring back in his pocket and walked swiftly away. He knew the doorway, he knew the man; he would return.

He thought.

Taxis disappear at night from the City, for there are no passengers to hail them and be taken to distant destinations. The taxi drivers can make a killing by driving by theatres and nightclubs instead. Karl knew he would have to get to the Underground to go home. Mansion House, perhaps? But his footsteps were not taking him to an Underground station. He didn’t quite know where he was going; it seemed drink and sorrow were combining to send him wandering aimlessly down narrow streets that held menace in every darkened window and doorway, taunting him with glimpses of civilisation, street lights and occasional cars, but he could not quite make his way to them.

He stumbled into what he thought was a small park, until he saw the gravestones around the walls. Oh what the hell, he thought, I’ll just...

The morning sun touched his red rimmed eyes and woke him. Dishevelled and hung over, he somehow staggered to his feet, trying to brush dirt and early morning dew from his once fine suit. His throat was raw and his stomach screamed for something, anything, to stop the sick feeling which was consuming him. Too late, it had to come out.

‘Sorry,’ he muttered to whoever the headstone commemorated. ‘You know how it is...’

He reached for a handkerchief and realised the pocket was empty. The ring had gone. Somewhere in the dark hours someone had robbed him; his wallet, his watch and the ring had gone.

‘NO!’ he roared into the silent morning, startling the birds into frantic squawking song in the trees. ‘NO!’ Fear gripped him, turning him to ice. He saw the soulless eyes of the vagrant, heard the menace in the voice, ‘I will wait for you.’ A voice that in that moment was not that of a vagrant drunk, but a cultured being, one with strength, one with purpose ... one who meant what he said.

I have to go and explain...

Was that not foolish? A sane voice in his head questioned the decision. The man knows not who you are. Go home. Walk if you must. Report the theft to the police at least, get them to take you home. Forget the vagrant.

‘I will wait for you.’

He couldn’t. Something was drawing him back to the doorway, to the man whose life he promised to change – and would dismally fail to do so.

Somehow he got himself moving; somehow he knew he had to find his way back. He had no idea where he was, but he thought if he let his subconscious work out the direction, he would be there in no time, not like the meandering aimless walk he had taken the night before. That was nothing but a jumbled memory anyway.

The sour taste of vomit in his mouth, hair awry and clothes wrecked, Karl staggered into the street and began to walk, letting his feet take him where they would.

And sure enough he was heading back to the building he remembered. And sure enough the vagrant was there, sitting up, alert, anticipating.

‘Too damn early for you to have sold the ring,’ he growled as Karl walked up to him. ‘And you look like sommat the dog brought in from the dump.’

‘I ... fell asleep in a graveyard last night and someone robbed me.’

‘Right. Good story. Some ghoul came out of his grave and took the ring, did he?’

‘Ring, wallet, watch, everything.’

The vagrant began to laugh. ‘Right, mister, like I believe that story. Going back on your promise, then, are you?’

‘I can’t – I need to go home. I can find money and bring it back to you. I promise!’

The man stood up, towering over Karl. He had not appreciated how tall the man was; curled up in the doorway he looked small, almost insignificant. Now he revealed himself as over six foot and broad with it. The fear Karl had experienced in the graveyard was nothing to what he felt in that moment.

‘You know what the old highwaymen used’ta say, dontcha? Your money or your life. You tell me you got no money, so – ’

Karl’s lifeless, bloodless body lay in the doorway for several hours before someone found him and reported the death to the police. The autopsy revealed not a drop of blood remained in his veins.

BIO: Dorothy Davies is a writer, medium and editor who lives on the delightful Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. There she writes her strange stories, usually with the help of spirit authors. This one, she says, was written with the help of Bela Lugosi who was not only a talented horror actor but also a very good writer with an infinite supply of strange and chilling tales. Dorothy is a full member of the Fictioneers and editor and contributor to many Static Movement anthologies. She loves to write. You can read more from Dorothy here: and here


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Asylums at Twilight

"ASYLUMS AT TWILIGHT" - Ron Koppelberger

In saucepans of magic and teaspoons of mystery,
The cauldron colored gray by a cloudy horizon in
Mixed mirrors of both reflected shadow and silver shine,
The puff of a dragons breath on the warm airs of a midnight breeze
And shaking oaken boughs of ancient
Sentinel, the mists of fear forsaken by the
Courage of spells caste and tender secret
Asylums at twilight.

BIO: Ron is aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. He has written 100 books of poetry over the past several years and 17 novels: He has been submitting his work for the past two years. He is thrilled by acceptance. He is always looking for an audience. He has published 450 poems, 270 short stories and 82 pieces of art in over 128 periodicals, books and anthologies. He has been accepted in England, Australia, Canada, Thailand and India. You can see some of Ron's other work here:


"REFLECTION" - Pixie J. King


That’s all he could see when he opened his eyes; a layered blackness, with an orange neon tint that crept in through the door – the streetlight, which blended in with the silver glow of the moon. He lay still in his bed, clutched the sheets and listened to the swelling shadows. He swallowed the tight ball forming in his throat, but all he could hear was the pulsing in his ears, his heart thumping against his ribcage, fuelled by a torrent of adrenaline. That; and the silent ringing in his ears.  

No, there it was again.

He shot up, stared into the shifting black murk of his room.

Small beads of perspiration formed on his brow and down his neck, the soft tiny hairs on his neck standing on end. He slowly peeled back the covers, stepped out of bed, still listening to the odd noises drifting in from the dark. He walked towards the bathroom, tentative.

It’s getting louder…

He entered the bathroom, switched on the light, saw his reflection in the bathroom mirror; a pale shadow that stared back at him.

Dark dreams, he thought, grabbing the flannel. He turned on the cold tap and soaked it, slapped the flannel over his face, felt it cool his clammy skin. He rubbed his eyes, forehead and then around his neck.

The water gradually drained and stopped flowing from the tap. He turned it, but no water came.

Icy tendrils, like thin, sinewy fingers, swept up his spine, made the hairs stand on end. He shuddered, felt the coldness flood his skin, seeping into his veins and numbing his senses. He felt faint, dropped the flannel and clutched onto the sink, momentarily struggling to stand upright.

The noise.

Shit, there it was again…only softer…almost like a whisper…

A stench.

He looked into the mirror, but his tired reflection had vanished; behind him, something moved.

His skin piqued; two topaz eyes stared back at him through the murk, and slowly a figure of a girl emerged, with long flaxen curls which fell from her scalp. Crimson streams dripped from deep lacerations in her neck, down her clothes and onto the lino floor.

He swallowed, hard. His mind flashed back to that night, quick and fast, and then gone. His eyes shuttered; he turned, his heart pumping hard, fear seeping from every fibre in his body. But the vision was gone. He peered around the bathroom, but the girl had disappeared. He sighed inwardly with relief.

Thank God…that bitch can’t hurt me…She’s dead…

He became rooted to the spot for a moment, slowly glanced down.

Blood on the floor.

What the...?

He grabbed some tissue paper and mopped up the blood, flushed the tissue down the toilet. He tried the taps, and water spilled out. Relieved, he swilled the blood from his hands, but when he turned around, the blood had re-emerged in front of him.


He heard the scratching noise again, the sound he’d heard all night, but it seemed to emanate from the living room. He noticed that more drops of blood had formed, almost like bloody footprints, gesturing him to follow.

He took a deep breath, edged closer towards the bathroom doorway and followed the footprints.

He stopped when he reached the living room, he saw the flaxen haired girl standing by the far wall. He seemed trapped in the spectre’s gaze, watched as it smeared his wall with blood. He glanced to his right; saw the other walls covered with the same bloodied message repeated over again.

My blood is on your hands; the devil will collect.

He could smell rotting flesh and stale blood.

He shuddered, tried to scream to wake his neighbours, but his larynx had tightened. He backed away, knew he had to find his phone, get out, get away...

The girl turned, her topaz eyes focussing on him. The irises swelled into two gleaming black pits; he was convinced he could see a raging fire in both eyes. His muscles trembled.

He felt as though the air was being sucked out of his lungs...could barely breathe...He glanced up at the girl, her rotten stench filling up his senses. He looked into her eyes as he drew his last breaths. ‘Please…’ he rasped. ‘I’m sorry for what I did…’

The girl just stared at him as he fell to his knees, then the floor. She edged forward, staring; the holes in her eyes grew wider, watched as he spluttered with blood.

She smiled as his neck tore open, blood gushing out onto the cream carpet. She wrote a sentence in his blood.

Your debt is paid. The devil will collect you now…

BIO: Pixie is an A level student who enjoys writing. She writes anything dark, from horror to fairies, and writes in any length. While completing college, she writes when she can, writing either short stories or lives in the world of her two protagonists as she completes two different novels. She dares you to enter her Realm at

Two Weirdos and a Briefcase

I searched through the pile of clean clothes for black socks. There were none.

I searched through the pile of dirty clothes for black socks. There was one black sock and there was one dark blue one. Nobody would be able to tell and whoever’s looking at my ankles underneath a desk is an asshole anyway. 

Another work day, another meeting that I had no idea what the point of was. There was no time for a shower and no time for a shave. I didn’t look homeless, I just didn’t look presentable to royalty. Robert F. Johnson and Sons Accounting wasn’t a castle and wasn’t run by royalty. It would be okay.

I pulled up to the office building and looked up. It was a quiet and sunny spring day in San Antonio. I sighed when I pushed the pull door. First mistake of many, I was sure.

The office building was quiet. Nobody was bustling from room to room. Nobody was waiting at the elevator. I dug in my pockets for the sheet of paper I scrawled the office number on. Suite 510. Fifth floor.

I pushed the up arrow.

As soon as I walked in two weirdos walked in behind me.

“Get on the floor,” a cold, mechanical female voice instructed me. I looked at her. She was an albino with jet black hair and old person sunglasses on. She was wearing a skin tight track suit made of aluminum foil. The man she was with was bald, albino, also wearing old person sunglasses with the same get up. His body was beginning to burst out of his aluminum foil.

“What’s this all about?” I asked.

“Shut up,” the man said. “Don’t ask questions. We ask the questions and we don’t have any.”

“Yes, yes,” the woman nodded her head. She pulled a briefcase out from behind her back.

“On your knees,” she instructed. I obeyed. She placed the briefcase on my head and began rubbing it. I looked at my reflection on the stainless steel elevator doors. Country muzak was playing.

She continued to rub the briefcase on my head. It started to feel like a drill headed for the center of my brain.

“What’s going on?” I asked. I suddenly could only see in black and white and things were getting fuzzy.

“You will wake up in your bed and everything will be normal like nothing ever happened,” the man said.

They both laughed in syncopated ha ha has in unison.

“Yes,” the lady said, “When you wake up, everything will be normal like nothing ever happened but we will control your mind.”

“Huh?” was the last thing I remembered saying before the static took over and everything faded to black.

When I woke up, holy shit, everything was normal.

BIO: Frank Greasestain was born. Someday will die. For now, he lives. Blog:

Monday, April 11, 2011


"COLD" - Patsy Collins

It’s cold. Not the sharp biting cold of an east wind,
Nor the tingling exhilarating cold of winters first snow.
This is the slow steady cold of January clinging to your flesh,
Mixing with your blood. Soaking into your soul.

This cold cannot be escaped; it’s within you now.
It drifts through your mind when you sleep and when you wake.
Too late now for the fire, a warm drink, soft blanket.
This is the cold of disappointments of loneliness.

The cold wraps around you, caressing as once the sun did.
Lost friends, forgotten hopes chill your dreams now.
The warmth of happiness, confidence, strength - all gone.
No spring will come, for the cold you feel is death.

BIO: Patsy Collins writes short stories for magazines including,
Woman's Weekly, Fiction Feast, Ireland's Own, My Weekly and That's
Life. To read more about her and her writing, please visit

Oh, The Living

"OH, THE LIVING" - George Wilhite

They never leave well enough alone
The Living
This place has been ours for decades
Renovation, they say
There is nothing wrong with it
Now it is a place of commerce
Not a home
Security systems, annoying gadgets
And their ill-mannered offspring
Create disharmony
Time to strike back
This house is ours
We can play the poltergeist if pushed
Create some real discord
These Living won’t forget
We died far too young
And plan to be here a long time
This rude interruption
Of our chosen Eternity
Shall not be tolerated
Our friends and neighbors
Will gladly join in
Though such mischief
Gives us a bad reputation
It is a necessary evil
For the Living
Never learn

BIO: George Wilhite is the author of the short fiction collection On the Verge of Madness. His work has also appeared in numerous print publications and online at Yesteryear Fiction, MicroHorror, Eschatology Journal and The Fringe.


Evening Whispers

"EVENING WHISPERS" - Ron Koppelberger

The heat in shallow flashes of twilight, a hairbreadth of
Orange akin to the ghosts of grieving suns and dawn’s
Battle, wrought unto the simmering tongue of a black eyed
Raven in curious foray between the place where
We were born to imagine and the place we were meant
To measure by the width of a bidden dream, of shadow and
Moon-glow reverie, a sound given the heartbeat
Of evening whispers, through the calm of a mystery
In fires of swamp morass and ancient
Sylvan egress, by the way of select
Silhouettes gone along the trail
Unto life and death.

BIO: Ron is aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. He has written 100 books of poetry over the past several years and 17 novels and has been submitting his work for the past two years. Ron is thrilled by acceptance and is always looking for an audience. He has published 450 poems, 270 short stories and 82 pieces of art in over 128 periodicals, books and anthologies. Ron has been accepted in England, Australia, Canada, Thailand and India.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Senyru #3

"SENYRU #3" - Marion Clarke

I enquired about
her favourite dish
'it's human soup' she said

BIO: Currently back living with her family in her native Northern Ireland after thirteen years studying and working in France and England, Marion has had poetry and fiction published online and in print and non-fiction published in the UK trade press. She began studying and writing senyru and haiku two years ago and has become passionate about the form.


Black Dress

"BLACK DRESS" - Valerie Collins

I’d never had a little black dress. Nor even a big one. Shapeless grey, that was me. But this, this was something different. It seemed to beckon to me from the shop window as I walked down the High Street. I stopped, and stood for a while, my gaze lost in the black silk. The dress seemed to whisper to me, promising me everything I had ever desired.

The following week I heard the dress murmuring, calling me softly as I turned into the High Street. It was still in its place in the centre of the window. So beautiful it was, and yet it had not been sold.

No. I’m waiting for you.

I stepped inside the shop. I did not even get to try the dress on. The assistant looked at me sneeringly. Up and down. As if I was a blot on the landscape. A monstrous carbuncle. Which I was. How presumptious of me for having a large body. A body which men like to touch and squeeze.

I want you to do something for me.

“Please let me see it!” I implored. The assistant pursed her lips and brought it from the window. She held it out for a moment and I caressed the silk. Waves of warm energy flowed to me. Warm loving energy.

Would you like to have me? What will you do for me?

Anything, I said. Anything.


It was a size 10. Yes, I sighed, anything. I love you. I want you.

I went to the supermarket and filled my bag with carrots and lettuces and low-fat yoghourts. I threw out all the foods that would prevent me from having my heart’s desire. Every week I went to the shop on the High Street to visit the dress. And every week it was still there, in the middle of the window.

I’m waiting for you.

There came the day when the assistant looked me up and down and measured me with her snooty eyes, and allowed me to take it to the cubicle and hold it, while she stood guard by the door, her arms folded. The dress shimmered and whispered close to me. It cleaved softly to my body, and soothed me.

Soon I’ll be yours. Very soon.

The hunger was difficult to bear, as I lay the night in my big black wooden bed, hearing the mice pattering and the cat scratching and the old house creaking, sensing the scowl of the big black spider in the corner. But whenever I thought I could bear it no longer, the dress stole into my mind and reminded me of my pledge.

Every week I went to the shop on the High Street and was allowed to hold the dress. It seemed the thinner I got, the smaller the dress got. It was a test of my devotion.

One day, after many weeks, as I held the dress hunger made me swoon, and for just an instant I hovered out of time in a swirl of silk.

And one day, as I reached out to touch the dress, my fingers shimmered, iridescent, merging with the silk.

And then came the day when I woke up in the morning, light as air. I knew today was the day. I called the cat, but she didn’t come. I floated out of the house. The bus conductor didn’t take my fare. I glided into the shop. This time the assistant didn’t stop me. Didn’t look me up and down. Didn’t sneer. She looked straight through me. I soared on a wave of light to the window and at long last I closed my arms around my dress. And a puff and a swish and we were one.

Now I see you coming along the High Street, your shopping bag filled with cakes and pastries. Would you like to have me? What will you do for me?

BIO: Valerie has published several prize-winning short stories and was the winner of the Jacqui Bennet Writers Bureau Competition in Autumn 1999 among others. She has written for magazines and guidebooks and is co-author of "In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain." Valerie lives in Barcelona where she gives creative writing workshops and is working on the final draft of a novel: a picaresque hero quest in a magical city, where, it is said, paths intertwine and dreams come true.
You can discover more about Valerie here and here


The Patience Factor


Everett Stones was a patient man. He wore the virtue like a coat, immersing himself in it, using it as a tool to deal with life’s unexpected and inevitable twists and turns. Whenever something would come his way, such as an illness or a car repair, he would simply deal with it in his own sweet time, allowing his patience to steer him through it.

Now he would be the first one to admit that his life was basically unscathed by any real tragedy. He’d never lost a loved one and his health for the most part remained stable despite a few maladies such as migraine headaches and minor backpain from time to time. But he always felt his patience was what would pull him through. His philosophy was to let time itself heal all wounds, whether they were physical or mental.

His successful book detailed many different forms of patience that he had developed over his life, each carefully tailored to specific situations that one might encounter.

Most psychiatrists and other professionals in the field dismissed him as a quack whose theories were only based on such practices as meditation or even religion. But the book sold well nonetheless. So well in fact that he could afford to retire early and live in relative comfort for the rest of his life.

If he actually believed in The Patience Factor, which was the title of his book, he himself sometimes doubted it. But such doubts would always be suppressed by referring to chapter nine:

Accessing diminishing beliefs in one’s beliefs.

His ego sometimes swelled beyond the boundaries of what most people would consider normal or even acceptable but he did not care. It deserved to roam as it wished, unhindered by other people’s perceptions. He, Everett Stones, had applied the patience factor to his life and ascended above all complications. He had conquered all of the difficulties that were slated to come his way and he had done it with his own methods. No amount of money or success could compare to finding a true path by one’s own means. The Patience Factor had worked for him and that was his true reward.

For the most part, he believed it had worked somewhat well for other people as well. He received numerous accolades regarding his work and he felt confident that he had helped many people. Perhaps not to the degree that he had himself but many people nonetheless.

So now here he was, Everett Stones, acclaimed author of The Patience Factor, sitting in his wheelchair covered with layers of wool blankets to keep Patience pneumonia at bay as the trees outside his library window swayed back and forth in the cold January air. They seemed to be beckoning him to his eternal rest. He knew fully that he didn’t have much time on Earth left. His one hundred and second birthday was only four days away and his body was slowly beginning to succumb to old age.

But it didn’t bother him, however. He was already a living example of his book. A shining advertisement for the effectiveness of his work. Very few people lived to be one-hundred and one and he had managed it due to his theories in the art of patience.

This fact had caused a surge in the popularity of his book. Fifty-seven years after it was first published it was still selling millions of copies and he had found himself to have become something of an icon.

The knowledge of this soothed his mind and relieved the aches and pains of age. He pulled the blankets up to his chin and gazed out at the grey scenery. His aged but still sharp mind jumped back to a young man he remembered from almost fifty years earlier. His name was Richard and he was a very emotional person prone to acting rashly. Everett recalled when he first met Richard; it was at a book signing. Richard had told him how he had lost the love of his life. How his beloved bride-to-be had cancelled the wedding a week before it was scheduled to take place. How he had utilized the methods in The Patience Factor and how his fiancé had committed suicide when she had not heard from him in weeks.

Tears welled in Everett’s eyes. Richard, stricken with unbearable grief, also had said that he had learned one thing from The Patience Factor… infinite patience, for better or for worse. Unfortunately in his case, it was for the worse.

The next day, Richard was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Everett felt bad, even somewhat responsible, but he quickly got over it. Chapter four of The Patience Factor helped him immensely.

He felt a sharp pain in his chest that radiated into his left arm, increasing in severity rapidly. His head grew light and breathing became very difficult. It felt like his chest was locked in a vice with death’s bony hand turning the rod.

The realization that he was dying settled on him like a cold, wet blanket. He struggled to maintain his composure, to assure that he would be found in a dignified manner befitting an icon such as himself.

Then just as the remaining breaths left to him were dwindling to nothing, a vision manifested itself in the window. A weak smile formed on his face.

“An angel,” he croaked. “An angel has come for me.”

“Yes, I have come for you Everett,” it said softly. “Although I am no angel. Nor do I come from where angels do…suicides are damned.”

It was Richard! The young man who had lost his fiancé all those years ago.

The figure quickly grew in size, blotting out the January sky with its dark form.

“I have waited nearly fifty years for you,” it said in an eager tone. “I do not think I could have done it were it not for your book.”

BIO:  Rick is a forty-three year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He's had nearly 250 publications so far, including ones in numerous anthologies, and a few contest placings as well. He's written five anthology books, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors (“Michigan Madman”). They are all available on Lulu and Amazon. Rick is also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School, and recently started work on his second novel (“Where Things Might Walk”).


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Flower Girl

"THE FLOWER GIRL" - Peter Emmett Naughton

Danielle hated her dress. 

She hated the bows, hated the way the lace at the bottom hung down and got stuck on the buckles of her patent-leather shoes and hated the color, a pastel shade of yellow that made her feel like an Easter egg. 

She didn’t understand why she had to get so fancied up for the wedding. The church was one thing, but after that she wanted to change into jeans and a t-shirt and didn’t think she should have to stay in the dress just to impress a bunch of people she didn’t even know.

“Are you almost ready in there sweetie?”  Danielle’s mother bellowed from the other side of her bedroom door.

 “Yeah Mom, just give me a sec.”

Danielle looked at herself in the mirror, scowling at her puffy sleeves and sighing as she grabbed the white gloves off her dresser and tucked them into the ribbon around her waist before heading out to join her mother in the living room. 

All she had to do was wait for the music to change and then head down the aisle dropping flower petals in front of her sister Stacey. A trained monkey could do it, but to hear the wedding coordinator talk you’d think it required a PhD in physics.  As the coordinator prattled on about pace and petal spacing, Danielle stared at the porcelain animals in her mother’s curio cabinet, envying the tiny hippos and giraffes who would never have to sit through a speech on the intricacies of putting one foot in front of the other.

She heard someone call her name and glanced over at her mother, expecting a scolding look and finding instead that her attention was firmly focused on the seating chart in her lap.  The voice came again, louder this time, and Danielle got up and followed the sound around the corner and into her sister’s room.

 “What do you think?” Stacey asked as she turned from the full-length mirror in front of her to face Danielle.

“It’s okay I guess.” 

“Just okay?”

“No, it’s really pretty it’s just that….”


“I don’t get why we have to dress up. I mean it’s just a party, right?”

“It’s a very special party, a celebration.”

 “Like Christmas?”

“Kind of, except without Santa.”

“Christmas without Santa?”

“I just meant that it’s exciting like that.”


“I’ll tell you what. You put up with the frilly clothes today and when Paul and I get back from our honeymoon we’ll take you to the zoo. Deal?”

“Can we see the new wolf enclosure?”



“Good. Now why don’t you go find Mom and see if she needs any help.”


The organist began to play the first strains of Pachelbel's “Canon in D” and Danielle looked over at her basket full of red and pink rose petals.  She peered down the length of the long, white runner to where the groomsmen and bridesmaids stood on either side of the pulpit.

‘Just put one foot in front of the other,’ she thought, but when she went to move she found herself rooted to the spot.

The crowds of people filling the pews were beginning to stare now. She could see their faces in her peripheral vision and wanted to close her eyes, but she couldn’t. A cold, tingling sensation started in her big toe and worked its way up her body until it felt like every molecule inside her was humming. Suddenly a wave of dizziness washed over her and the last thing she felt were her knees buckling as the world went black.

At first there was nothing, but then slowly she began to hear a voice. 

“…o…k….” the voice said.

“What?” Danielle replied, realizing that her own voice seemed to be coming from somewhere outside her body.


“Oh. Yeah, I’m okay; at least I think I am.”


“Where am I?”

“Tha butweeeen place.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It tha spot tween ware u wir an ware u goin.”

“I don’t want to go anywhere.”

“It nawt up ta u.”

“You were the one who called me before, weren’t you?”

“That muh job.”

“Won’t you just tell me how to get home?”



“It nawt up ta me eether.”

“What’s going to happen to me?”

“U watin ere for Big Cadu. It come an take u to da next place...tha after place.”

Danielle could sense the physical presence of something moving closer, though she still couldn’t see anything.

“Please...” she said, her voice quavering.  “I just want to go back....”

“It guna b alrite, u…c….” the voice said. “It all b dun sooooon.”

Suddenly a shaft of light appeared at the edge of the inky abyss and Danielle felt herself being pulled upward. Her head pulsed and spun as the black began to fade around her.

“Danielle? Can you hear me honey?”

“Mom?” Danielle said weakly as her vision slowly returned to her. “What happened?”

“Everything’s alright sweetie; you just fainted.” 

“...I have spread the flower petals....” Danielle murmured.

“Don’t worry about that now honey. We’re gonna get you home.”

Danielle laid her head against her mother’s shoulder as she was lifted up and carried out to the car. On the ride home she drifted in and out of a kind of dizzy consciousness, but was aware enough to tell when she was being picked up and brought into the house. 

There was something comforting about the creak of the wood steps as her mother brought her upstairs and tucked her into bed.

“You just rest now and I’ll be in to check on you in a little bit.”

Danielle nodded once in acknowledgement and watched as her mother exited, quietly shutting the door behind her. The room was still spinning and Danielle wanted to sleep so that it would stop, but every time she closed her eyes she heard the voice.

“Cadu waitin for u leetil wun....
 U just come on over and evereethin guna be alrite…u…c....”

BIO: Peter fell into fiction by writing stories to amuse his grammar school classmates, which helped him overcome his shyness, but led to very few completed homework assignments. He has an abiding love of cheese in all its gloriously stinky forms, horror movies with a sense of humor and trashy punk and garage-rock.  Peter was raised and currently resides in Chicago with his wife and cats. His writing has appeared in 'The Delinquent', 'Candlelight' and 'Black Words On White Paper'.