Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Amy Canales.
Strangers in the Night
by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
Mama disappears into a Plymouth. This isn’t the first time. There was that time she left for three days. She’d come back, happy, singing to him at bedtime, making him cocoa. The world was his. He goes into her bedroom, with the scent of lavender, mixed with something skunk-like. It’s empty. The suitcase, Sinatra records, her Tolstoy. He doesn’t know where to go. He’s not sure if he should chase her, or wait. That’s when he sees the note, tucked behind her desk, where they used to hide secrets. Mama’s unhappy. She needs to find herself. Water the plants.
by Bart Van Goethem
They had assured him if you close a door behind you, another one will open. When he did so, nothing happened. In the pitch black he groped for a handle. None. He groped for a wall. None. After a while he screamed, and then he screamed some more. He started punching air. Until the black shifted to a shade of dark unfathomable to a living, breathing man. A split-second later, he opened his eyes, squinting against a white light. ‘Welcome,’ they said. ‘We are Soul Catchers.’ It wasn’t what he had expected, but at least they hadn’t lied to him.
Cat in a Box
by Shinea Brighton
I’m trying to decide if you love me. I take measurements: how often you call, how long we talk, how often you break dates. Two recently. You never say, “I’ll call you later.” or “We’ll reschedule for next week.” Instead it’s, “How about Wednesday?”
Sometimes you hold my hand. Sometimes you are distracted and lonely. You go days without kissing me then you won’t stop long enough for me to eat.
It’s complicated. Are you a wave or a particle? Are we decaying at a predictable rate? I’m hungry and I can’t tell if you are feeding or poisoning me.
by Jessica Standifird
He was an old house in need of a good contractor. Ever since she’d convinced him he was dilapidated, the ink from his tattoos had flecked, faded. His foundation had cracked and his gait was now unsteady. She would roll her eyes and accuse his front porch of sagging. And if eyes were windows to the soul, well, no wonder she complained. The glass was old and warped, the panes full of drafts. It was cold inside. Maybe all he needed was a real estate agent who could spot potential. He wondered if Carrie at Remax would be interested.
by Jonathan Oak
Normally I hear the engine halfway down the street as a subtle change in the background noise, but the sound was too loud. Normally I see a glint from your bumper or your windshield. I missed it this time. Sometimes you call ahead to says how good it’ll be to be home. When all this fails, the dog, keen senses attuned to your arrivals, perks up her ears, springs to attention, whines at the door, peeks through the curtains. She just laid there. So when you came through the front door… lesbians going at it on the computer screen.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.
Free at Last
by Marc D. Regan
Newman heard it again, the steady slap-slap-slapping footfalls that only stopped when his did. That bloodthirsty kid. Down sidewalks, corridors, inside Newman’s flat, this desperate young stalker followed—for years. The kid was forever eighteen, unkempt, angry. Newman had aged from thirty to forty.
“No,” Newman screamed. “It’s over!”
Hunting knife seized, he dashed outside. Footsteps echoed. Newman spun, blade slashing, gouging eyes, ears. Newman collapsed, blind and deaf. Alone. Hot blood pulsed onto the pavement. The kid was gone. At last.
Newman saw himself thirty again, stomping on the brakes too late as the kid crossed the street.
Girl’s Best Friend
by Eric Robert Nolan
I’ve been trying to kill that damn dog for over a week. It’s loyal to a fault. It digs.
It’s a mutt. A dumb one. Mid-sized, with mottled brown and white fur. Nothing to distinguish it except for an unusually vacant expression.
And it digs.
Fiona used to call it “Skipper.”
I was questioned in the disappearance of my eight-year-old daughter, but never really suspected in it.
It brought me Fiona’s femur yesterday, panting and wide-eyed. Right to the back door. My hammer missed its skull by inches.
It returns to that narrow space behind the shed. And it digs.
Discarded but Not Gone
by Peggy Christie
It had been months since they left her here to die. Did they think it would be that easy? The ceiling crumbled and drywall dust coated her porcelain face. Her glass eyes, unaffected by the swirling debris of the collapsing home, could see the bulldozer as it crawled toward the main support beam. When the entire structure finally fell, bringing two stories of mortar, brick, glass, and metal down on top of her, the doll body would shatter, and she would be free.
by Edward Vaughn
My sweet Jezebelle begins to cry as I lay her in the center of the pentagram. She knows what is happening, I think. From my underwear drawer I pull the knife I snuck from Grandmother’s kitchen. I kneel before my baby. She lay on her back, helpless. I cut her. I cut myself. The wood inside the pentagram drinks our blood. A crack in the air like thunder and I see him in the shadows. The horn-headed man. “Jezebelle,” I say. She stops crying and smiles. “Daddy’s home.”
by Jessica Standifird
“Bloody handprints are so cliché, you got anything better than that?” Tess smirked at the sticky handprint on her sheet.
There was a groan from the attic.
“Really?” she sighed, “You gonna’ rattle some chains, now, too?”
A chill shook her body. From the gelatinous mess pooled on the bed between her legs a child’s voice reached up, “No, Mommy, but you could have been less predictable, yourself.”
Her husband lifted her gently, whispered in her ear, “Come on, hon. I’m taking you to the hospital.”
Microfiction Monday Magazine is proud to bring you the first set of micros in our month-long horror series. We are still actively seeking more horror submissions and artwork as well. Just click the submissions tab above to send your work our way.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance.
by Jessica Shoemaker
Amongst the granite cliffs and redwoods, she was a tiny speck leaving tiny footprints on a path beside the river.
After three days, she was happy to spot another pair of prints. They sat and spoke of sunsets, stars, and solitude. She shared cashews. He offered her some tea.
While she gathered her gear, he pushed on ahead. She copied his gait along the trail, leaving tiny shoe prints inside of his until his tracks abruptly stopped. The feeling of being steeped in lead rapidly spread. Unable to move. Unable to scream. She watched him step slowly from the trees.
by Richard Jennis
The metal monster breathed poison. Slept in refuse, contended paws curling rhythmically, dagger-claws scraping the hard metal floor.
“It’s time, boy,” said the sad little man, nudging his favorite abomination lovingly and gesturing to the open door. The little metal man had himself been a hunter long ago, but grew disheartened from years of being eluded and dodged. His blade hand was slow, rusty like the underside of an old, cheap car. He was weak.
Now the metal monster did his bidding, dragged in rats and cats and street orphans. Lay panting excitedly, waiting for its loving master’s praise.
What Waits in the Shadows
by Joyce Frank
The candle burns low. The claw of the living dead scrapes the bowl, scooping a fun-sized Reese’s cup. Still they come, dragging their crosses and hatchets, adjusting their Hogwarts gowns.
Mom’s off for more candy.
“Leave the bowl and take the trash out back.”
In the amber fog of the floodlight, a shadow groans behind the dumpster, but Bobby won’t be frightened by a schoolmate.
“You don’t scare me Max,” he blusters, rushing the shadow. A wall of matted fur rears up on thick, muddy stumps. He inhales the fetid breath of a garbage-eating grizzly.
by Tyler Jones
When I fall asleep the walls of the house shift and change. When I wake up the rooms are different sizes. Framed pictures from the hallway now hang in the attic. The windows have all disappeared. Doors open up to other rooms but never lead outside. I’ve spent days wandering through this maze. Sometimes I can’t find a bed and I fall asleep on the floor. I hear the sound of an approaching storm. One hand on the wall, scraping my toes on the floor. I feel so weak each step leaves me exhausted. I still can’t find the kitchen.
A Thumping in the Night
by Marc D. Regan
Honey. Please get up. I need you. It’s too hard. Alone.
She stares at the ceiling. Two weeks. Catatonia, they say. Though you hate leaving her, when your baby’s been stolen, action is required. But you’re home.
And what’s banging?
You go to the basement door, hear a steady thumping. The dryer?
Baffled, cellar bulb burnt out, a flashlight finds the dryer. What’s in there, a basketball? Body tingling, you yank. A wretched stench gags you. No dryer light. Flashlight illuminating, you scream—because the sight is unimaginable, this horribly annihilated baby son.
And your wife stands behind you.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.
by Richard Jennis
Mr. Lemieux showed me a flimsy little photograph, black and white, stained with tear marks, crinkled into sixty-fourths from years of folding and unfolding into increasingly smaller wallets. “It just gets bigger,” he explained. “It can’t fit anywhere anymore, it simply consumes everything.” The first girl was soft and yellow like a balloon that might just float away, and the other was bright and musical like a walking serenade. “She died, her sister survived,” Mr. Lemieux explained. I held him for three hours and waited for him to tell me which one, but he only muttered, “My baby. My beautiful baby.”
by Tammy Lynne Stoner
Winter came quickly with a sudden frost. Electrical lines snapped. Olive trees died. And the albino alligators in the zoo froze. She watched them float down the river that curved through the zoo, wondering why their hard bodies didn’t sink. It wasn’t a bad way to go, she thought, they probably fell asleep first. Maybe that’s how I’ll do it. The woman tucked her chin into her scarf and looked down at the green water. The dead alligators drifted on top. She wanted to touch them but instead let them pass by, a parade of ghosts headed for the sun.
by Jessica Standifird
The dishes are growing in number, and there are whispered clinks and rattles every time I walk by the kitchen sink. I fear a coup if I am unable to meet their demands. “Would you want to be covered in three-day-old grease?” One plate spat at me this morning as I was on my way to shower. I waved my oily ponytail at him in response, my lips pulled tight and eyebrows raised. The plate spun around and settled deeper into the crowd of teacups and silverware with a grumble. I am afraid. The knives are in there.
by Tessa Mission
She replaced the sand in the hourglass with dried, dead spiders. Every time her mother made her stand in the corner for sulking, bad posture, or speaking out of turn, the spider bodies would sift through the narrow hole in the hourglass, breaking apart finer and finer as they measured her punishment. Soon they were nearly powder. In the middle of the night she snuck into the kitchen and poured them into the pepper shaker. The following evening over dinner as her parents berated her about her grades, they shook pepper onto their potatoes and ate them all up.
The Ewok and the Orc
by Anne Pem
The ewok was sobbing. Thick brown makeup ran down his face like a mudslide as he sat leaned against the wall at the comicon. Androids passed him, pretending not to notice. Pikachu pointed and whispered to Wonder Woman. Ultimately it was an orc who finally sat beside him.
“Mok’ra,” said the orc.
“Lurd,” the ewok patted his chest. “Lurdo.”
The orc tore a rag from his costume and offered it. The ewok wiped his face as the orc scratched him behind his brown ears and tried not to crush him with a hug.
I hope you enjoy the second edition of Microfiction Monday Magazine. Thanks once again to my assistant editors, Marc Corbier and Jessica Standifird.
Day of Fathers
by Suzy Vitello
That June day half my life ago, two fathers came to me. The first father, my father, pillowed me from shock. His strong arms, his fuzzy beard against my cheek, warm breath in my ear, “He’s gone.” The other father, my freshly dead husband’s father, stood apart from us, melded to the floorboards of our moist, fecund cabin. His empty hands grabbed for flesh, but could only find the tender skin of his baby grandson. A family, all of us. Sliced and erased of a husband. Of a father. A son. Spirit.
by Jessica Standifird
Always wanted to be a lawyer. We were poor, though. Mama’d point her knittin’ needle at me and say, “You got big dreams for such a little man. Ain’t never gonna’ see the lawyer’s side of a courthouse.” At school they said justice was blind. Ran home like I was on fire with the Lord. Busted through the door ‘n went straight to Mama’s sewin’ bag. Grabbed that knittin’ needle, plunged it deep into my eye, screamin’ victory. Should have heard the fuss Mama made. Doesn’t fuss about the house I got her in Henderson, though. Wrought-iron gate ‘n all.
by Bret Fowler
The mudslide took the yard, the porch, and more. I slip in the mud, filling my boots with brown water and soaking my dress. Another slide could wash me away in a second, but I can’t stop. Not until it’s whole. Until I’m safe. In the gray-brown muck there’s the shine of a garbage bag. A gray withered finger pokes through a hole. I reach for it and pull until it slurps free. I smile. Even after everything, his wedding ring still gleams. It’s the last piece of him. This time I’ll bury the bastard in the desert.
by Paul Beckman
On the porch of Harmony House rocking, and drinking iced tea, Bertram pointed to a shadow across the street and said, “Like clouds, you can see different things in shadows.
“Let’s try the shadow behind that man at the bus stop.”
I said, “Okay,” Mary said, “Kid’s game,” and Tess mocked, “How about hop scotch next?”
Bertram said, “You go first.”
I said, “It’s a man with an arrow in his neck carrying a box.”
Just then the man fell over, an arrow sticking out of his neck.
“Good guess,” Bertram said, backing into the house with his bow.
When Susan’s Daughter Sank
by Caleb J. Ross
When Susan’s daughter sank to the bottom of the swimming pool, she was supposed to stay. I reduced her to a drowned raccoon, like the ones always bobbing in Susan’s pool. But her eye followed me, so I hide. The daughter will be rescued, revived enough to finally kill her mother and me. She hated me for not being her real dad, the dad who taught her to burn and skin animals. She hated her mother, too, for sending him to prison after he tried his flames and flaying on Susan. We’re afraid together, Susan and me. Parenting leaves scars.