Guest Authors

‘The Portal’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Saturday, September 14th, 2013
Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

The ground was uneven and making my way along the last 100 feet took longer than I expected. It was twilight, if luck held out I would make it to the entrance unseen. I paused, gathering the strength I needed to continue this arduous journey. If I hoped to see my beloved Alistair again, I had to make it through the portal by the light of the blue moon. It was tonight, or… never.

* * *

“I hate it here.”

“Honey, give the place a chance. We just got here.”

“I’ll never like it here and I’ll never make any friends. I want to go home.”

“This is our home now.”

Mother wisely didn’t address the issue of friends. She knew I would either find one, or not. (more…)

‘Absolution’ by Guest Author Talley Burnside

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Talley-BurnsideThe guns fell silent.

Re’kah flattened herself against a charred cinder-block wall.  She hissed at Kohn, slinking along the ruins of a house across the way, but he wouldn’t make eye contact. He must be thinking the same thing. Where was their covering fire?  He motioned for her to come to him, and she ducked across the blood-splashed alley. She held her breath, visualizing a bubble of protection.

Kohn grabbed her hand and pulled her with him through a gaping hole that used to be a doorway.

“No snipers,” he said.  Re’kah closed her eyes, trying to adjust to the dim ambient light. The room reeked of blood and shit, charred flesh and diesel fuel — the smells she’d come to associate with death.

“Is it possible this sector’s secure?” she asked. They were the only two survivors of a threat eradication team, and they were still nearly an hour away from their home base.

Before he could answer there was a small movement in the corner.  They spun into position, back to back, with Kohn defending the entrance.

“It’s a baby,” Re’kah said. She lowered her gun and moved toward it. “I don’t think it’s injured.”

“Wait,” said Kohn. “Probably booby- trapped.”  (more…)

‘Masque’ by Guest Author RC Hutchins

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

RC-HutchinsFlashing colored lights, bursting sounds, flagrant odors; all flickering before her eyes, her mind reeling. The sounds hammer on her ears, the lights and colors burn her eyes, and the odors fill her nostrils. She can barely breathe, she cannot think, she can do nothing but turn in the circles as those around her dance, laugh, and make merry. Her eyes feel like they are being stabbed with a hot poker as the lights and colors fade from her sight. Her head feels a weight upon her shoulders, pulling her down into the dark. Her mind tumbles from the awareness of the world. As she falls, her mind registers a blue and black spot hitting the floor before she does.

Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees a masked woman teetering before those around her notice. He runs, aiming to catch her before she hits the ground, leaving behind another woman. Startled, she stares after him, and slowly follows. She watches as her date slips and slides on the wet stones in the square, until he finally reaches the masked woman, her blue-feathered mask falling from her face. The falling woman does not seem to register that she herself is falling, or that anyone has caught her. But under her, the man keeps her from the ground, dirtying his own costume. (more…)

Through the Eyes of Jenny Mae – by author Joseph J. O’Donnell

Friday, August 30th, 2013
Joseph O'Donnell

Joseph O’Donnell

( from his book ‘Tales for Late at Night’ – See our BOOK STORE to get more)

Al Corzone was standing quietly in the hallway. The sterile environment of this section of the hospitals’ west wing was evident everywhere. Nurses plodded past him occasionally, yet their footfalls were barely audible.

Al was a detective for the New York city Police Department. He hated this part of his work. Meeting the parents of a victim was always hard, and he never quite mastered in what he would say to them. His partner, Ernie Brown, was a little better at it then he was, and tended not to get so emotionally bound up during this part of the investigation.

The parents had arrived shortly before they did, and both officers waited patiently outside the room for them so that they could ask them some questions. The victim, a young teenage girl, had been raped and nearly beaten to death. (more…)

‘Where There’s Smoke’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

(An Anya Orlova short story)

“Tell us where the body is!” His fist pounded on the interrogation room table.
The paper cup bounced once and then tipped over; spewing its muddy contents all over the documents spread out in front of me. His look of bewilderment was comical and it was all I could do not to smirk.
“Look, we found your fingerprints at the crime scene. You might as well tell us what happened so that we can help you. Did he attack you? Was it self-defense? We all know Pedro was a worthless piece of shit that won’t be missed by anyone, probably not even by his widow, once we break the news.”
Good cop was trying to take the focus off of his partner whose bulging purple veins were an angry roadmap that led to no place I wanted to go.
I knew my fingerprints weren’t found at the scene; they have never been found anywhere and they do not exist in AFIS or any other database anywhere in the world. (more…)

‘Blood Ties’ by Guest Author Glenn James

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

 

Author Glenn James

Guest Author Glenn James

BLOOD-TIES”:  A Review of “Dracula: The Undead” By Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

With grateful thanks to Dacre Stoker for his insights and thoughts into the writing of the novel.

Sometimes you sit down to read a book quite happy to simply discover where the story is going to take you.  In the case of “The Undead”, if you are a fan of anything gothic, you would approach it with quite a degree of anticipation: metaphorically wanting to either ward it off, or embrace it, to either approach it with a crucifix stretched out before you in a trembling hand, or in the mood to rip a cross away to expose your neck.  For we are treading on hallowed ground, and the dead are restless in their tombs. (more…)

‘The Ordeal of the Semillante’ contributed by Guest Author Jim Gaines

Sunday, July 14th, 2013
Guest Author Jim Gaines

Guest Author Jim Gaines

The Ordeal of the Sémillante[1] -By Alphonse Daudet

-Translated by guest author James F. Gaines

          Since that northerly wind the other night blew us up onto the coast of Corsica, permit me to tell you the tale of a terrible maritime tragedy the fishermen down there mention often during the evenings and on which chance has furnished me with very interesting information. It was two or three years ago.

I was sailing the seas around Sardinia with a team of seven or eight customs officers.  Tough trip for a novice!  All through the month of March we didn’t have a single good day.  The easterly gale bore down on us and the waves would show us no mercy.

One night we were racing before the storm when our boat came to find shelter at the entrance to the Gulf of Bonifacio in the midst of a cluster of little islands.  Their appearance offered nothing encouraging; huge windswept boulders covered with seabirds, a few tufts of wormwood, stunted locust trees, and here and there in the mud, scraps of wood moldering away.  But by heaven, for a spot to spend the night, these hideous rocks were better than the broken keel of wrecked ship where the waves swept in and out as though they owned it, so we made the best of it. As soon as we had gone ashore, while the mates were putting together a fire to boil some chowder, the skipper called me over and showed me a little enclosure of white stones hiding in the broom at the end of the island.  (more…)

‘The Game’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Sunday, June 30th, 2013
Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

There is a saying most of us are familiar with, ‘never kid a kidder’ and when you play the game it becomes a commandment: ‘thou shall not con a con artist.’ There is another saying, ‘never give a sucker an even break’ and generally we don’t. These are the two rules we live by and as with all rules, there are exceptions. We also have a couple of unofficial rules and those who have been playing the game long enough know to abide by them. We never infringe on each other’s territory or game. Michael’s on the Mile is one of the bars in my territory and I have several games. Since I confine myself to the ‘mile’ and never venture out of it, there is never any conflict between any of the other players and me.

Today I am playing the grieving widow, running a con on a mark at the bar, when a familiar face starts crowding me. In seconds I realize he’s targeting me. Obviously he doesn’t recognize me as one of the players. Then I think about how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other; perhaps he doesn’t remember me. I brush him off; he’s slow on taking a hint but finally gives up. I turn my concentration back to my mark. (more…)

‘Reflexion Faite’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Saturday, May 25th, 2013
Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

I woke up at 2 AM and instinctively reached for you. Of course your side of the bed was empty; you’ve been dead for three months. I wondered when, if ever, I would stop reaching for you.

Sighing, I decided I might as well get up. I knew sleep would elude me just as it had every other night. How did other wives and girlfriends cope with the sudden void in their lives? Perhaps if we’d had children I wouldn’t feel so empty inside right now.

* * *

When I started waking up every night that first month, friends told me this was normal. I didn’t think so, but they all insisted it was part of the grieving process. I was urged to go to grief counseling and every one of our friends had a small nugget of wisdom to share. (more…)

‘House of Leftovers’ by guest author David Rhodes

Saturday, May 25th, 2013
Guest Author David Rhodes

Guest Author David Rhodes

Everyone in the House of Leftovers was dead, except for the two doctors standing in the middle of the room, wearing clean white smocks and black rubber gloves, leaning over the fresh corpse of a man. There was a huge, ugly stab wound in the dead man’s chest.

“God, I don’t know if I can handle this,” said Cranna, the younger of the two.

“It’s always like that the first time,” Jones said. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Besides, you’ll get to eat real food.”

“Remember when they used to be able to grow food?”

Jones smiled wanly. “Yeah, but I try not to think about it.” (more…)

‘Squandered on the Young’ By T.L. Messegee

Saturday, May 25th, 2013
Todd Messegee

Todd Messegee is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

No one would be so mad as to cut off their own thumb, not even him, not even Marco. Alone on that island that his grandfather had bought nearly a century ago, Marco did as he pleased. The rest of the family had died or moved away. As the last man standing, Marco was happily collecting dust among his dozens of buildings jam-packed with junk, antiques and cast offs, just like him. His only human contact was the young man, Davy, who would come across the bay in his little powerboat bringing groceries. It was from Davy – and bits of evidence found after the fact – that we were able to piece together this account.

Marco hardly spoke a word to anyone when he’d come ashore, and wouldn’t even return a wave to those he knew in town. He was happiest alone on his island. Still, when Marco accidentally mangled his thumb with a monstrous drill press, his screams of pain were heard by no one but his cats. As we all know, cats couldn’t care less if you cut off your head, let alone your thumb.

So Marco stood there, looking down at the mangled bit of meat where his thumb had been and apparently he calculated how long it would take for him to get the boat ready, then motor across the bay and then make his way by taxi to the hospital. He must have figured that the loss of blood and expenditure of energy would have made the journey too perilous, so in his own way, he took care of it. Suffice to say, he stopped the bleeding, but the thumb was gone. (more…)

‘Trick or Treat’ by Guest Author David Rhodes

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Guest Author David Rhodes

Guest Author David Rhodes

The trio ambled down the sidewalk, eyeing the other groups across the street carrying their flashlights to make sure no harm came to their little ones. These three were not little, but were dressed up for the occasion.  A witch, the Frankenstein monster, and the Mummy.

They came to a house void of any children, and the witch opened the gate. “Remember, it’s my turn this time,” she cackled.

“It’s always your turn,” the Frankenstein monster said.

The mummy only grunted, a plume of dust blowing from his mouth.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get your turns, I promise. Now let’s go up and take care of this so we can be on our way. (more…)

‘The News’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

The News

by Alex Knight

I carried the plates to the dining room table. Normally on Wednesdays we would have meatloaf and mashed potatoes but there was something in the air and I had felt defiant all day. I wondered if there would be a ripple affect for changing the pattern of our existence and then decided it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t divorce me for serving meals out of order, would he?

Arthur eyed his dinner suspiciously although he had eaten my tuna casserole once a week for the last thirty-seven years. He had just never eaten it on a Wednesday.

“It isn’t Friday,” he accused.

“No, it’s Wednesday,” my sigh betrayed my impatience. (more…)

‘The Lost Book’ by guest author Michael Shorde

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

240px-Oscar_Wilde_portraitI found the book in an old store on the south side of town. It was a book no one would even consider looking at, for it had no interest for most; but that did not include me. I immediately picked it up and brushed the dust from it.

David Rhodes. The Creatures Unseen.

My old friend, David, who had disappeared long ago after writing several books, the last being this one. I often wondered what had happened to my best friend – we spent many nights together in front of the fire talking over all things imaginable and unimaginable. He had a way with words that could oftentimes frighten even me.

I took the book to my flat and gently laid it on the mantle. (more…)

‘The Courage to Face the Sea’ by guest author T.L. Messegge

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
Todd Messegee

Todd Messegee

They should have been her last pictures. The weather was perfect. The light was perfect. Everything seemed right. She was standing among the gigantic, smooth rocks just above the shoreline, looking like a mermaid that had sprouted legs. I hadn’t asked her to take off her clothes. That was her idea. With the springtime sun shining on her pale winter-whitened skin, I would have been a fool to stop clicking the shutter. So I kept at it like a greedy voyeur.

We had just met a few days before. She had been standing next to me in my drawing class crafting renderings of the model that made my sketchy efforts look like stick figures. She had turned to me and asked to borrow my pencil sharpener. When she handed it back, she extended her hand and said, “Arianna.”

It was that very weekend when we had our one and only date. I took her to lunch, to a place that didn’t look like much, but made great tacos. While sitting there near the shore we talked about the old 35mm camera that I had recently acquired at a yard sale. I had worn it around my neck like a medal won in a war. (more…)

‘A Dish Best Served Cold’ by guest author David Rhodes

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
Guest Author David Rhodes

Guest Author David Rhodes

Dusk had fallen in the city, but that did not damper the nightlife; it if fact encouraged it, bringing it to life. Traffic retained its rhythm, and those on the street changed from the hurried business men and women to dealers and hookers. It was prime time for business.

A very handsome man, he was, as he strolled along the avenue in his overcoat, catching the attention of more than a few of the whores standing on the curb and leaning against buildings.

Fucking sluts, he thought.

He strolled along the sidewalk in the cool night air, and as he passed several women standing in a group, one of them called out to him.

“Hey, good lookin’. Lookin’ for a good time? I got what you need, baby.” (more…)

‘The Lighthouse on Bloody Shoals’ by Guest Author Alphonse Daudet

Friday, March 29th, 2013
Jim Gaines

Jim Gaines

The Lighthouse on Bloody Shoals

By Alphonse Daudet

Translated by James F. Gaines

            Last night I couldn’t sleep.  The north wind was angry and the bellows of its great voice kept me awake until dawn.  Roughly swinging its worn-out vanes that whistled in the breeze like the rigging of a ship, my old mill creaked all over.  Tiles from the roof crazily flew off.  In the distance, the clustered pines that covered the hillside waved around and rustled in the dark.  You would have thought you were on the high seas…

It reminded me perfectly of the persistent insomnia I had experienced three years earlier, when I lived at the lighthouse on Bloody Shoals, down on the Corsican coast, at the mouth of the Gulf of Ajaccio.

Another pretty spot that I had found to dream in and to be alone. (more…)

‘The Holy Man’ by Guest Author Paul DeThroe

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Guest Author Paul DeThroe

Guest Author Paul DeThroe

Stories began to surface about a strange holy man with incredible healing powers living on the streets in one of the poorest slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Being a well-to-do freelance journalist with several high profile magazines at my beck and call lent me wherewithal to travel anywhere in the world. Rio was beautiful, from what I’d been told, and even if the story didn’t pan out, as I expected it not to, I could call it a working vacation and drum up some sort of story.

We were in the middle of a slow news cycle in the States anyway. The President had just been sworn in for his second term, the economy was slowly inching back to life, and everyone was sick of reading about the dreadful wars we just couldn’t pull ourselves out of, as a country. I had made a living of putting myself in harm’s way to tell stories of our soldiers risking their lives to fight ambiguous enemies who seemed to increase three fold for with every new death count. To be honest, I was sick and tired of it. I wanted to do a feel good story. No, I needed to do a feel good story, just to keep my sanity. (more…)

‘The Drive was Murder’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

“Are you really going to meet him?” Monica was afraid her friend was in for a world of hurt, again.

“Of course, it’s what I’ve been hoping for.” Lisa was beaming.

“But how do you know it isn’t just a booty call because he’s horny again? Remember what happened last time?”

“I remember, but you should have heard him on the phone. He didn’t give me a chance to say or ask anything. A cabin is booked; he’ll be there waiting. If he is just jerking me around he’ll be sorry.” It was an unfortunate choice of words that would come back to haunt her. (more…)

‘Remains of The Storm’ by Guest Author T.L. Messegee

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Todd Messegee

Todd Messegee is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
NVCC-logo

Our house at the beach was a survivor. Twelve hurricanes had accosted the shore in the previous twenty years leaving parts of the island in shambles or worse. Through it all, our wooden lady stood strong. So, when the November winds had kicked up again I thought nothing of it. The storm would come, no doubt, to batter our windows. The sea would rise and smash against the deep-set posts that our house was built upon, but a survivor is a survivor for a reason. Our house was well made and all who saw her ride out these storms in the past knew that she would stand the test again.

The storm came at night, after the children had gone to bed. The warnings had gone out days before but the hurricane siren that would blast us from our sleep through even the most vicious gale had not blown. If that siren blew we knew it was time to flee. Mandatory evacuations were rare, but they did happen. People had left the island, that’s true, but we saw no need to pull up stakes. It was just supposed to be another storm. (more…)