This story was previously published in Sonar 4 Magazine in 2008
Facing foreclosure on their house, Jim and Lisa consulted a Spirits Know All Fortune Telling Board to see if their luck would change. When it said they’d win a million dollars in the lottery in three days, they were ecstatic.
“Is there anything else we should know?” asked Lisa, as their hands rested on the planchette.
The planchette spelled out: WARNING.
“What’s the warning?”
The planchette spelled out: WIN BIG LOSE BIG.
“Whadda ya think that means?” she asked Jim.
“Who cares? In three days we’re gonna be rich! Ya-hoo!”
“Do you believe everything it told us tonight?”
“Yep,” Jim said. “A guy at Smitty’s Bar uses this board all the time. The spirits said he’d win a red Lexus convertible in two weeks. And it happened.”
“Did he mention anything spooky?”
“Whadda ya mean?”
“Somebody said using this board let’s evil spirits in the house. And once they get in, it’s hard to get rid of them.”
“Superstitious nonsense!” Jim exclaimed.
Next morning at breakfast, Billy, their five year old asked, “Where’s Gitmo, Daddy?”
“Is that far away?”
“I was there last night,” Billy said.
“You mean you dreamed about being there,” Lisa said.
“No. I was really there.”
“Oh my, what an imagination. So what were you doing there?”
“Helping to water board some bad guys.”
Startled, Jim asked, “Why’d you do that?”
“Sergeant LeHate said it was the only way to get them to talk.”
“Pulling a three-inch, green plastic soldier from his pajama pocket, Billy added, “This is Sergeant LeHate.”
Jim and Lisa chuckled.
That afternoon, Billy’s kindergarten teacher called Lisa at work to relate a shocking incident. A box of crayons were missing from the classroom. When the teacher asked who took them, nobody answered. But Billy said he’d find out by water boarding everybody in the classroom.
Though deeply perplexed, Lisa and Jim figured if they ignored Billy’s fantasies, they’d quickly dissipate.
Next morning, Lisa and Jim were shocked to see scratches on Billy’s face.
“How’d that happen?” she asked.
“I fell during bayonet practice in Afghanistan.”
“I see,” said Jim. “And I suppose you and Sgt. LeHate were there last night.”
Jim, who’d served in the National Guard said, “Make believe this broom’s a rifle with a bayonet, and my easy chair’s a bad guy. Show me how you’d attack him.”
Jim was astounded when Billy assumed the correct posture, raced toward the chair, let out an ear-piercing yell, and thrust the broomstick deep into the upholstery. Unnerved by the demonstration, Jim called a psychiatrist.
“Sounds like a normal boy with a rich imagination,” the doctor said. “Don’t be so anxious. At his age, these things pass quickly.”
“But how could he know about water boarding and Afghanistan?”
Probably heard it on TV or a radio talk show. As for the bayonet, he probably saw how it’s done while watching war movies. However, if he starts to act out his fantasies bring him to my office.”
Next morning, Billy limped to the breakfast table. His mom shrieked when she saw his blistered, bleeding feet. They rushed him to a hospital emergency room.
“How’d this happen,” asked a doctor.
“Me and Sergeant LeHate were on a forced march last night,” Billy said. “It was worth it. We caught up to the enemy and killed them all.”
The doctor recommended a psychiatrist. Jim mentioned he’d already consulted one.
That night Jim and Lisa won a million dollars in the state lottery. To celebrate they ordered a super deluxe pizza and a six-pack of imported beer.
Filling Jim’s glass, she said, “Remember what the Spirits Know All Board told us?”
“Yep. It was right about us winning big time!” Jim replied.
“I was talking about the other thing it said. About winning big and losing big. Listen…I have a funny feeling. I want you to keep watch over Billy for a while. Then when you come to bed, we’ll really celebrate.”
Jim let himself into Billy’s room, and headed for the closet. Keeping the door slightly ajar, he sipped beer while his eyes adjusted to the dim glow of a night light.
Before long a glowing green mist entering Billy’s room. Out of the mist stepped a six-foot, plastic soldier in full combat gear, carrying two assault rifles.
Aghast, Jim saw Billy jump out of bed and snap to attention.
Handing Billy a rifle, the soldier said, “Here’s tonight’s orders: we’ll attack a stronghold north of Baghdad. But first we have to liquidate a spy.”
The soldier threw open the closet door, and pointed to Jim. “Shoot this rotten spy!”
“But that’s my dad.”
“Shoot him now!”
Billy raised his rifle.
“Don’t do it, Billy” Jim yelled.
“Kill him, or I’ll drop your ass in the middle of a terrorist camp without a weapon!” the soldier shouted.
When Billy hesitated, the soldier grabbed him and started to spin. Suddenly Billy and the soldier disappeared.
Frantic, Jim called 911. The police didn’t believe his story.
He called the FBI and Homeland Security hotlines. Both agencies warned him about harsh penalties for perpetrating hoaxes.
Next, he tried a radio talk show.
“Hear that, folks?” said the show’s host. “We got another alien abduction by a green meanie. But this one looks like a soldier and is made outta plastic. Sounds like this goofus forgot to take his meds.”
At her wits end, Lisa said, “Let’s ask the spirits. They’ll know what happened.”
Their hands shook as the planchette sped across the Spirits Know All Fortune Telling Board.
“Why is it spelling ISS?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
They asked again where Billy was. This time the answer was ISIS.
“Oh no!” Jim screamed. “ISIS is the most vicious terrorist group in the Middle East.”
While Jim was on the floor trying to revive Lisa, the planchette spelled out on its own: WIN BIG LOSE BIG.
Michael A. Kechula’s flash, micro-fiction, and short stories have appeared in 157 magazines and 56 anthologies in 8 countries. He’s won 20 writing contests: 1st prize in 12 and 2nd prize in 8 others. Five collections of his stories have been published as eBooks and Paperbacks. In addition, he’s written 2 self-study books that teach how to write flash and micro-fiction drabbles. Both are available as eBooks and paperbacks. To read a free story or chapter in any of the above books, go to the publisher’s site at: www.BooksForABuck.com Obtain eBook version from the same publisher. Obtain paperback versions from www.Amazon.com
For years Nana and Mother talked about our gifts. They spoke of how they were to be kept a closely guarded secret for there were those out there who would take our visions, our dreams and turn them against us. But oh, what a heavy burden that is to lay on a young child.
Yes. We believe you. But tell no one, because they might kill you—or worse.
Just what is a child to do with that?
Growing up in a big city, it was easy to get lost among the nameless faces. Exist in my own world. Walk down the street with my hood up, eyes forever watching for danger…and the others, but never making eye contact with anyone. The earbuds firmly in my ears blasting past the traffic and the incessant chatter, but still never quieting the voices. The voice always present and always whispering words of warning and prophecy.
The Bible itself said it. In the end-times we would see visions and dream dreams. The old would prophecy. But that book, along with many others with wisdom, had been thrown by the wayside in the pursuit of a logical, self-made future.
One Hell bent on destruction.
Mankind cannot live without war. I know I’ve seen the line in movies. Supposedly in times of old Utopias were said to exist. However, human nature being what it is—always outs. Someone wants more. The less need more but the more don’t want to give what they have. Someone wants power. Some want power to leave them to exist. Strife and confrontation are in the human genome it seems.
Why was that never modified? They have a pill or procedure for everything else. But I digress.
I have kept my silence on what I witness. But I no longer can. Besides. In a few days, it will no longer matter. We’ll all be dead. The Earth’s core has risen too high. In turn the temperature of the world has exponential grown. And in that heat so has mankind and their angers risen…inordinately.
Seven days. The number of competition.
Last Sunday the heat index had us over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Insufferable. The body count, in my town alone was four hundred and fifty seven dead. Those from exposure alone. This does not factor in the increase in crime—any crime. This does not factor in the increase in domestic altercations. As we all know temperatures soar, so do attitudes. Four hundred and fifty seven souls from my town dead due to the weather. Monday was worse.
Monday the Mayor announced we were in a state of emergency though no official status had yet been claimed. He said to stay indoors as much as possible, but save on power and electricity-only running the fans and air conditioner if absolutely necessary. Of course people thought this warning applied to everyone but themselves.
Tuesday we had a state-wide power outage. Only old school AM radio broadcast got through. It was a recording. It stated that the President had declared a National emergency. It was more than our town, our state. But, of course, I knew this. The voices grew louder and louder. They begged me to shout the end was coming. But who was I to shout it to? Who would hear me? Who would care? A solitary voice in the maelstrom of civil unrest, anger, and the beginning of full-blow terror. I would not be heard. I could have done it. I should have. That’s what Prophets do, right? But did I answer my calling? Did I herald the end?
Wednesday I huddled in my studio and listened to those who were lucky enough to have a roof over their heads. They still lived. If you called what was happening living. Some even tried to carry on. They went to work, vainly reaching for that last dollar. Others, feeling they were more practical in nature, turned to stocking their supplies. Another empty effort. I knew. I even gave several of my supplies to the single mother living next door. The voices thundered in my skull. They begged and they pleaded. Answered only by my silence.
Thursday was oppressive. All but minimal sound and the shouting voices in my head were heard. The crying, the begging God – the Universe – whomever to stop the heat – the anger – the pain, had died to a few pitiful whimpers.
Not much longer, I consoled myself. Even the voices had died down. They were abandoning me as I had forsaken them. As I had forsaken mankind to its fall. Had I said something, had they known, would anything be different? I could not wrap my mind around any form of miracle that could save us now.
Friday came bringing with it the stench of decay and loss of life. Had we fallen so fast? Tuesday public fighting and rioting in the streets and now Friday deafening silence? I can taste ash in the air though I know not caused such a fire to reach here. Though I am happy there is a thick haze over everything and it looks just like winter as the ash falls. Tomorrow is the endgame. Tomorrow the world will rest. We all will be gone. With raspy breath I try to call for the voices, for anyone, but there is nothing. We all die alone.
Kally Jo Surbeck is a multi-award-winning best-selling author of several genres. She has over thirteen books, including participation in several anthologies. A few of her accomplishments are Colorado Author of The Year, the EPPIE (Excellence in electronic publishing) Action category. She is also the winner of the Daphne duMaurier in thriller/suspense. Her poetry was her first writing sale. Her works are in several different anthologies, commemorative additions, and one is even in the Holocaust Museum. https://www.facebook.com/Kally.Surbeck.Owren
The debts. Jason shook his head, tossed the letter in the shredder and took a swig from an empty can.
He checked his pocket. He got little relief from the meagre coins. He needed air. He left his flat and entered the stiff night of a sleepy storm. He stumbled over a kerb. A voice from below called out.
“Yo, you want to watch where you’re going.”
He looked down. A scruffy man with an ill fitting pair of glasses, ferret moustache and machine oil hair glared up.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you. I’ve a few things on my mind.”
The man snorted and offered his hand. Jason helped the man to his feet.
“Try being in my position. I’ve got to sleep on the streets with no money and now no address.”
“I might be joining you soon. I got no income and bills, bills, bills to pay. I don’t read their letters anymore.”
“Well, that doesn’t work. Trust me I know. The names Bob by the way. I tell people’s fortunes. Shame I can’t help myself though but I’m sure I can help you.”
Jason inhaled sharp. The man reeked of soil and piss.
“Don’t you need a crystal ball for that?”
Bob snorted and his throat gurgled in a peculiar rasp. Jason guessed he was laughing.
“Crystal ball. You been watching too much nonsense. All I need for you to do is touch my hand and breathe a few times. I’ll do the rest. Come on, give me your hand.”
Jason took the man’s scruffy paw once more and Bob took a deep breath.
“Hmm, you got money in your family haven’t you? How come you’re so poor then?”
“My parents are always busy.”
Bob took another shaft of electric air. He indicated for Jason to follow his lead.
“You’re going to come into money real soon. I’m talking serious money that’ll help you sort out your financial problems for sure.”
“Old Bob is never wrong. You’re going to do just fine.”
Bob shook his head and withdrew his hand. He doubled over in a coughing fit and Jason asked if he was OK.
“No, I got lung cancer on top of all my other issues. Money don’t matter much to where I’m going.”
Jason offered Bob a few coins.
“Sorry I’ve got nothing more, Bob.”
Bob help up his hand.
“Keep your money son. Now get out of here and let me sleep.”
Bob shrunk down into a pile of rags. Jason went to the corner store and gathered a few cans before retreating back to his flat. Sadness gripped him when the spot where Bob sat was an empty space.
He paced to his flat, sat down and cracked open a can. He began to drift when an almighty crash rattled the door. He cursed and on his doorstep stood two grim faced officers of the law.
“Mr. Jason Pearce?”
“I’m dreadfully sorry Jason, but we need to come in. It’s about your parents.”
Diabolical understanding roared into Jason’s drunken brain. Bob told him he’d soon be wealthy.
Gary Hewitt is a raconteur who lives in a quaint little village in Kent. He has had over 70 short stories and poems published. He enjoys both writing prose and poetry. His style of writing tends to feature edgy characters and can be extremely dark. He is also a proud member of the Hazlitt Arts Centre Writers group in Maidstone. He has a website featuring his published works here: http://kingsraconteurswork.blogspot.co.uk/
Thanks to everyone, especially writers with stories in the slush pile, for your patience while I struggled to get through my final semester in my BA program. I’ve finished (for now) and have sort of just been lazy the last few months, laying around watching One Piece, and taking a break from all that essay writing!
The good news is that with the help of a comrade editor, I was able to start the slush process.
Responses to submissions are going out this weekend, and the issue should be up sometime soon afterward.
Thanks again for the patience while waiting for me to sort out my academic life!
The drabble issues are always popular with writers and readers alike. A drabble, a neatly-packed, concise but complete 100 word story is a challenge to authors. How do you tell a finished whopper of a tale in just 100 words?
No matter if it’s hard or not, it’s hella fun! And our authors have given it everything and told their stories. Gripping, funny, scary stories…
All in 100 words.
And of course, readers love drabbles because they are short, easy reads.
So… off you go.
Issue #17: Drabble Stories—100 Word Fiction
He was coming and this time was his time. No more naughty sins. He cloyed of the black mark that Death could smell for miles away and she was burning mad. He’d stole from her thirteen souls. No one fucked with Fate. As he skulked into the alley, her powerful hand snaked out to cover his mouth, as he had theirs. Then her cutting shears pierced slowly, layer by layer until at his heart. Her hand muffled his screams of pain. As she finished punching the shears into his heart, she whispered, “As you did, so is done to you.”
Kally Jo Surbeck is a multi-award-winning best-selling author of several genres. She has over thirteen books, including participation in several anthologies. A few of her accomplishments are Colorado Author of The Year, the EPPIE (Excellence in electronic publishing) Action category. Ms Surbeck, was, at that time, the first woman to have written and won in said category. She is also the winner of the Daphne duMaurier in thriller/suspense. Her poetry was her first writing sale at the tender age of twelve. Her works are in several different anthologies, commemorative additions, and one is even in the Holocaust Museum. https://www.facebook.com/Kally.Surbeck.Owren
Our cat, Puddles, never missed breakfast, until today. When I told my daughter, she said the dolls, which she tucked in their beds each night, were also missing. Puddles loved to play with them—carrying them by the hair, leaving a porcelain hand poking from under the couch or a tiny spikey shoe at the top of the steps. At last, we found them in the 1/12-scale gazebo, sipping plastic red wine. My daughter had forgotten she did not put them away, but that did not explain their sticky hands and faces or the shine in their open, painted eyes.
Karen Bovenmyer trains future professors for Iowa State University and occasionally teaches novel writing and speculative fiction honors seminars. Her dark fantasy and scifi horror stories have appeared in Erin Underwood’s Pop Fic Review, Paul Genesse’s The Crimson Pact series (volumes 3 & 5), Bonnie Stufflebeam’s Art & Words Show (2012 & 2013), The Red Rose Review, The Devilfish Review, Zingara Poet, Festival Writer, and Crossed Genres Magazine. She feels honored to have graduated from the Stonecoast MFA Popular Fiction program in July 2013. http://karenbovenmyer.com/
Mirg Repaer tapped her long red nails against the silver of her space suit. Those back at head office had sneered at her. She was a new generation of Reapers. None of that black cloak and scythe lark for her—so outmoded. Besides she was determined to win the Reaper of the Year contest and show those old fuddy duddys a thing or two. So what if she didn’t actually wait for her humans to die, they still died didn’t they? Just because she helped them on their way was a small technicality and space was the perfect hunting ground.
Helen is a fiction writer, who writes in various genres which include fantasy, noir, horror and humour. She has written several short stories, flash fictions and poems. Her work has appeared in both e-zines, anthologies and print publications. She has two novellas published, a Psychic Thriller and a Y/A Paranormal. You can find her flash fiction, serials and poems on her website http://writingmywords.com
I pulled Gramm’s old Ouija board from the closet. What better time to contact her? Tonight’s Halloween, when the veil between worlds is thinnest.
I convinced my boyfriend to help.
We created ambiance with candles and incense, and sat with the wooden board balanced between us. Our fingers rested expectantly on the heart-shaped plastic planchette.
Heart racing, I summoned Gramm.
The planchette replied, sliding from letter to letter, until horrified, I made sense of them.
I miss you, too, Julie. Join me.
An invisible cold hand clasped my wrist. As the air filled with Gramm’s perfume – Anaïs Anaïs – I screamed.
Since first sending my work out into the world in 2003, I have published well over one hundred fiction and non-fiction stories in a variety of Canadian and American magazines, including WHAT IF?, SUNDAY@SIX, THE CONQUEROR, MYSTERIES MAGAZINE, SPACEPORTS AND SPIDERSILK, HALLOWEENFOREVERMORE, and BEYOND CENTAURI. I am also a contributor to the recent anthologies DEATH AWAITS, IN SHAMBLES, SPOOKY HALLOWEEN DRABBLES 2014, SPECULATIVE VALENTINE DRABBLES 2015, and THE GRAYS. My previous drabble submission, “Guidance,” was recently accepted by THE WERE-TRAVELER. I spend most of my free time reading, writing, and doing research for current projects.
On the morning our father was due to arrive home from his two-year space flight, all my little sister could do was whine about her dress being itchy, and all my mother could do was holler for us girls to “Get ready quicker!” and all I could do was gape when Mission Control opened the hatch where our father and his comrades should be, only for the cameras and the families to discover all that was left were intestines draped from the white sterile walls like tinsel and a message carved into the ceiling that read, “Thanks for the appetizers.”
Gwendolyn Kiste is a horror and fantasy writer based in Pennsylvania. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies including Strangely Funny II and Whispers from the Past: Fright and Fear as well as online at Sirens Call Publications, Danse Macabre, and Sanitarium Magazine among others. You can find her at www.gwendolynkiste.com and on Twitter (@GwendolynKiste).