Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Man in the Mirror

by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

My sleep had been dreamless, timeless blackness.

I don't remember waking up or how I got there, only squinting in the bathroom as the fluorescent tube blinked to life, flickering. I kept my tired eyes downcast, on the sink, my mouth feeling dry, like bones and ashes. I yawned and ran my fingers over my scalp, turned on the faucet, splashed icy water into my mouth and onto my face, swallowing and then letting the cold drops fall into the sink a while before toweling dry.

Suddenly I felt I was being watched and looked up to meet an unblinking stare.

My perfect, left-right reversed doppelganger looked back at me, mouth slightly open, breathing slowly, hands gripping the sides of the sink as he examined me like a stranger.

I found that I couldn't break his gaze.

Hypnotized, the man in the mirror used me like a puppet: preening, grinning, winking. Unconsciously I yawned and my eyes jammed shut, watering. I slowly cracked them open.

There he was, still locking my eyes with his stare. He looked tired.

"Good morning," he said without much enthusiasm, and I felt the same, crackled words escaping my lips. Standing straighter and smiling--I felt my spine jerk upright and my lips curl up in concert--he repeated the greeting, louder, more confident, as if to convince himself: "Good morning!"

When he finally frowned, sighed, and reached to turn off the light, my hand hit the frame and I realized the awful truth, a moment before returning to blackness:

I was the reflection.

Samuel Montgomery-Blinn is a software engineer by trade andwho lives, works, and writes in Durham, North Carolina with his wife,two kids, and three cats. The cats help out as they can with his newest vocation as managing editor of a small speculative shortfiction publisher, BULL SPEC, at

Sunday, May 23, 2010


by J. J. Steinfeld

During his retirement party, the math teacher was talking to the attractive science teacher, and she told him about her dream of having sex with an adorable visitor from a recently discovered planet. Drink in hand, he told her that two days after a Saturday double-feature matinee, enthralled by The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman and The Incredible Shrinking Man, he sat in elementary-school class and wondered aloud what would happen if the Amazing 50-Foot Woman went out on a date with the Incredible Shrinking Man but the teacher kicked him out as if he had drawn the Amazing Woman and the Incredible Man naked in his notebook, passing it on to every student in that long-ago class, completely warping their expectations of lovemaking for a lifetime to come. Then the science teacher, finishing her third drink, asked the math teacher, “If I were a sexy space alien, would you go to bed with me?" In his excitement, nostalgic film musings, and incipient drunkenness, the math teacher failed to notice the tiny tentacles that were emerging from the back of the science teacher’s long, lovely neck.


Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives hidden away on Prince Edward Island. He has published two novels, Our Hero in the Cradle of Confederation (Pottersfield Press) and Word Burials (Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink), nine short story collections, the previous three by Gaspereau Press — Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized?, Anton Chekhov Was Never in Charlottetown, and Would You Hide Me? — and two poetry collections, An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press) and Misshapenness (Ekstasis Editions). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals internationally, and over forty of his one-act and full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lock and Key

by L.R. Bonehill

I found the box on the day Richie Norton saved my life. I was just about lost to it; that sense of serenity that comes when you’re drowning, despite your body thrashing as it struggles against the end. I was ready to let it all slip away, to fade into silence when Richie dragged me up from the muck and grime of the water and pulled me away to the embankment. I’ve never forgiven him.

We both lay panting and exhausted on the damp grass. Cold shivers ran through us despite the heat of the afternoon sun. Brackish water stung my throat and my lungs burned as they clutched for air.

Richie’s yellow Spiderman t-shirt clung so tight I could see the rack of his ribs. The shirt was covered with algae and there was a ragged tear where it must have snagged on something in the water. He peeled it away from his chest and stuck his finger through the hole.

‘You ruined my best shirt,’ he said, scrabbling to his knees. He spat on the ground and ran a hand across his mouth, long fingers pulling at something on his tongue that wouldn’t quite come away. He spat again.

‘The hell you think you were doing?’ There was a venom in his voice that was rare to hear from Richie. His eyes narrowed and he shook his head. ‘Hope it was worth it.’ He nodded at the box that I still held in one hand.

To this day, I don’t know why I’d reached out for the box as it bobbed on the surface of the water, or how I’d managed to stumble in after it, or why I’d held it so firmly and wouldn’t let go even as the life began to seep away from me.

I looked down and saw my knuckles were white, pale as the cataracts that clouded Grandma’s vision.

The box wasn’t much to look at; about the size of a hip flask from an old film noir, dented and battered all over, rusted clasps at the sides and a scuffed lock at the front.

‘At least take a look inside, since you almost killed the two of us,’ Richie said.

I flicked at the clasps, each in turn, and found they wouldn’t budge. It felt light; I shook it and nothing seemed to move inside.

Richie snatched it away from me and dug his penknife out of his jeans pocket. It was the same knife his brother had used to carve three dots into his hand the year before. He’d promised he’d ink Richie with a crazy life tattoo just like it when he was older. Richie couldn’t wait.

He prised the clasps apart with the blade and quickly moved on to the lock. It seemed the knife would give before the lock did. I could see the strain on his face, the tension in his muscles.

‘That’s not meant to be opened, no way,’ he said and tossed the box back to me. ‘You should be dead, man, you should be gone. Your eyes were rolled way up.’ He mimicked the look and I shuddered as I saw the whites of his eyes.

He pointed at the box with his knife. ‘You look after that, keep it safe; your soul’s in there. Vida loca, my friend.’

Richie Norton was my best friend. Richie Norton saved my life. I never saw him again.

At school the next day Mrs Walker told us about the accident. Richie slipped in the bathroom and fell back into the tub unconscious. He drowned as the bathwater leaked away.

Crazy fucking life.


I’m cold all the time now; it’s as if the water saturated my bones. My palms and the tips of my fingers are still pale and wrinkled and there’s a sour, stagnant taste in my mouth. Some days my lips are blue as the veins on the back of my hand.

There are times I’m sure Richie was just the first; the first of many. That everyone I’ve ever lost is because of that damn box, because I didn’t die that day, because Richie was right.

Wait long enough though and answers always come. I found a key today, deep down in the mud by the embankment. It’s small and the colour of dried blood and it’s a perfect fit.

All I have to do is find the courage to turn it.


L.R. Bonehill never meant to hurt anyone all those years ago; he just wanted to play, that’s all. Forgive him online at

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thor's Hammer

by Alan W. Davidson

The three children floated on their raft in Diablo’s pond. Meaghan, usually boisterous, was quiet today. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and she stared into the murky water.

Luthor nudged her with his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

She shrugged in response.

“Holy crap! Did you see that trout jump?” Dickie shouted.

“Shut up, I’m talking to Megs,” Luthor shouted, swatting him with a rolled up horror magazine.

“Jeez, sor-ree!”

“We’re your friends, right?” Luthor continued. Meaghan stared ahead, nodding slightly. “Tell us. Maybe we can help.”

“It’s just…I’d really miss you guys if we moved.” she said.

“But you told us your mom wouldn’t move again until you finished school. That’s still four years away,” Dickie said.

“Yeah…,” Meaghan answered, tears tracked down her pale cheeks.
“…it’s really got to do with that man—“

“What man?” Luthor said.

“You’ve seen him around. That creepy, bald guy at the end of Cochrane Street?”

“I know him. He hardly ever goes out.”

“I’ve seen him too. He jogs every day. Just before dark,” Dickie added.

“Tell us…,” Luthor whispered.

“He’s talked rude to me. Dirty stuff. “He also touched me…,” she added, glancing at Luthor through reddened eyes.

Luthor grasped the edge of the raft, his knuckles white. “Did you tell your mom?”

“She wouldn’t do nothing. The same thing happened in Jersey three years ago.”

“What did she say then?” Dickie asked.

“She told me it was all a misunderstanding. A week later she had us packed and moved here.”

“I know you’re worried,” Luthor said. “But this is wrong and we’re going to fix it.” Dickie nodded in agreement.


“Don’t you worry about it, Megs.”


The boys had found a large, moss-covered boulder on a hillside far from the path. Luthor’s grandpa called it an erratic and said they were scattered all over New Hampshire during the last ice age. For three days they removed dirt from beneath the rock, propping it up with long bits of wood wedged into the dark soil.

On the Friday evening before Labor Day, Luthor stayed in the woods while Dickie waited near the jogging trail. As the bald man neared, the boy, frantically waving his arms, jumped into his path.

“Please help, mister—my friend’s hurt!”

“What happened?”

“I think he broke his leg. Come quick!” Dickie said, and dashed through the trees. The man hesitated for a moment and then followed the boy. They ran far into the woods, eventually stopping at the boulder.

Dickie was breathless. “Down there, mister,” he said, pointing under the erratic.

The man bent over the moaning boy. “Are you hurt?”

Dickie snatched the hammer that lay against the base of the rock and struck the man in the temple. Luthor scampered from the hole as his friend swung again, sinking the claw into the base of the man’s skull. He screamed, clutching at the hammer as Dickie shoved him into the void.

Luthor grabbed a shovel and rammed the blade into the man’s throat, unleashing a gush of blood. “That’s for Meaghan, you perv!” he hissed.

The boys removed the wooden supports, causing the boulder to list forward. They shoveled the excess dirt around the edges of the rock and covered the soil with moss, leaves and branches.


Luthor watched the grey clouds from his office; the rain pelted the window and wound down the glass in sparkling tears.

The intercom voice startled him. “Dr. Guttormson, your patient is in exam two.”

Luthor strode down the sterile hall, rapped the door and entered the exam room. A thin, vaguely familiar woman sat on the bench. She smiled and offered her hand. “I’m Meaghan King. You probably don’t remember me, but my name was Murphy when we were in junior high.”

Luthor chuckled and squeezed her hand.” Of course I remember you, Megs. How did you end up in sunny Seattle?”

“I’m in computer sales and my work transferred me here. Dickie Stein said I should look you up.”

“Dickie? We haven’t talked in years. When did you see him?”

“Years ago, after we moved back to New Hampshire. He showed up at my door one day selling life insurance. What a grand chat we had.”

“That’s great,” Luthor said. He swallowed and leaned closer to Meaghan. “Didn’t you and your mom leave town because of that bald guy…on Cochrane Street?”

She thought for a moment and laughed. “Oh that! Mom got another job in Boston and moved us away. Practically overnight. What I told you guys was a huge pile of crap. He never touched me—he never even talked to me.”


Alan is employed as a structural steel draftsman and lives, with his wife and son, on the continent's edge in the old city of St. John's. He is a member of the Writer's Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and is taking baby steps towards writing his first novel. You are invited to attend his ramblings at

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dangerous Premonitions

by Laura Eno

The first snowfall of the season dusted the ground in light powder, revealing small footprints that led to the cellar door. Jack shook his head in disbelief. What child would be wandering out here barefoot in the cold?

He scouted the area, not finding any other evidence before reluctantly coming back to the cellar, a place he’d avoided since moving in last month. One look into its dark, dank hold had been enough to dissuade him from further exploration. Who knows what lurked down there? Jack hadn’t been keen to find out.

Returning from the house with a flashlight, Jack swung the wooden door open and peered inside. The musty smell of damp earth assaulted him, whatever traces of potatoes or onions it might have once held no longer discernable. He shuddered at the thought of black widow spiders hunkered down to spend the winter in cozy comfort.

The light played across the small space, showing a fresh mound of disturbed earth in the center of the floor. Thoughts of spiders faded as a small hand pushed up through the dirt, tiny fingers curling once before hanging limp.

Jack bounded down the rickety stairs, tripping and landing in a heap in his rush. He dug furiously, having only his hands for tools. His skin cracked and bled from the effort. Within minutes, he’d unearthed a small girl, no more than three or four years old. Her blue eyes stared forever fixed at a point beyond his understanding. Her mouth had been filled with dirt as if buried alive. All she wore was a tiny pink nightgown.

Gagging, Jack retreated back up the stairs and into the house. He called the police to report his findings. When they arrived, they found nothing amiss: no body, no small footprints, no soft dirt. Although naturally suspicious of Jack’s story, there were no reports of a missing child. They labeled him a crank and warned him about making false calls.

Did he hallucinate the whole ordeal? Only his bloody hands told him no. When the footprints appeared again two day later with the next snowfall, Jack moved out, deciding the place was haunted.

One month later, three-year-old Abbie Tinsdale was reported missing by her mother, taken from the house sometime during the night. She mentioned the girl was wearing a pink nightgown. The police remembered Jack’s report and checked the root cellar of the house where he used to live. They found the girl too late. She’d been buried alive.

The police arrested Jack based on his detailed description of the crime scene, even though he’d reported it a month before it happened, and the DNA evidence. His blood was mixed in the soil where the girl was found. They were convinced that only the killer would know such details, even accused Jack of setting up an elaborate alibi for himself with his story. The small town jury placed their trust in the hands of the law, sentencing him to life for a murder he didn’t commit—but had the misfortune to predict.


Laura Eno ( has written two YA fantasy novels and a paranormal romance. Her flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Twisted Dreams, The Monsters Next Door, Flashes in the Dark, 10Flash, House of Horror, The New Flesh, Everyday Weirdness and MicroHorror.