10 Short Stories in 10 Weeks

Victim

by Nicole

by Nicole Guerrero

A soft breeze billowed the filmy white curtains on the bedroom windows. The girl on the bed turned over onto her back, staring up at the alarm clock reflection on her ceiling – 3:37 in giant red numerals. She lifted her fist and let it drop listlessly onto the coverlet. Then she sighed in frustration and sat up, running her hands through her hair.

Serina washed her face with cool water, then pulled on the previous day’s clothes, crumpled in a heap on the chair. She pocketed her keys and shut her apartment door securely behind her. Her sneakers vibrated on the metal stairs as she descended to the street,. Somewhere, a dog was barking. She found her car and sank into the cool leather seat.

Serina headed for the freeway, enjoying the dearth of cars on the road. She rolled her windows down, letting the air swirl gently through the car; it tickled the hairs on the back of her neck. She reached across the seat for her pack of cigarettes; the brilliant green of the dashboard clock played over her hand as she pulled one out of the pack and lit it before bringing it to her mouth. She sighed a stream of smoke out the window, and tried to forget the day’s events. She had been late to work . . . again. Attempting to sneak into her cubicle ran her directly into her supervisor, Gloria. A mountainous woman, she towered over Serina, a sneer curling one corner of her rubbery, lipsticked mouth.

 “Well, well, well, look who decided to join us today!”

 “I can explain,” Serina stammered. “I -”

 “I am really tired of your excuses, young lady. You have been late at least once a week since you started. Warnings and write-ups have no effect. I have no choice but to fire you.”

 Serina could feel her face warming with embarrassment; tears threatened in the corners of her eyes. Gloria straightened to her full height and sniffed. “I don’t want to hear any blubbering. Clean out your desk immediately.” Serina’s meagre box of belongings still bounced around in the back seat as she continued her late-night drive. No one had said goodbye.

She flicked the half-smoked cigarette out of the car as she crested a hill. Something was fluttering down below, a large, white object. Serina squinted, but she couldn’t figure it out.

She coasted downhill; it became clearer as her headlights swept the ground. A man in white was standing in the road, arms outstretched, head thrown back. Standing in the middle of her lane. Read the rest of this entry »

The Traveler of Hickory Hills

by Ryan Olsen

“This is the best day ever!” Herb exclaimed as he threw his hands into the air with triumph.

Herb arrived back at home as he parked his Studebaker in the freshly paved driveway. He was just promoted at work and couldn’t wait to tell the world. Not only that, his lawn needed a mow with the brand new gas powered lawnmower he received from his doting wife for his birthday last week.

“Dear! Honey! I’ve got swell news to tell you,” started the increasingly enthusiastic Herb. “Mr. Humphrey pulled me into his office after my big meeting and offered me a promotion! I’ll be the VP in no time!”

“Let’s celebrate tonight,” said his wife Haley with a giant smile. “We’ll go to your favorite restaurant and make our way over to the soda fountain for a banana split.” Read the rest of this entry »

Spinning In Daffodils

by Johnny Firecloud

Rachel’s last words. I still can’t make them out, between the tortured screams. The sounds don’t make sense, and it’s keeping me awake.

Sleep doesn’t come easy for most anyone anymore. Not in nearly five years – since the impact, or the hysteria that followed. Then the nuclear volleys of cataclysmic devastation, nations plunged into paranoid chaos and leaders pointing warhead-tipped fingers for the population-decimating calamity, desperate to lay blame and focus fury for a rock hurtling through space that our planet happened to be in the way of. Communications went out at 5:19pm on December 6th, 2012, six hours and change after the meteor hit, obliterating Honduras with an interstellar stone the size of Los Angeles.

We don’t know if it was the bombing that took down the national power grid, or a deliberate act from within. It doesn’t matter. What good are conspiracy theories when starvation and murder surround us all? When the sky has been choked to a constant brownish grey, and the sun was, at best, a glare in the haze. When next to nothing grows, and even the most prepared have long since run through their survival supplies, a desperation rises that’s simply inconceivable to the sane. Any faint trace of food ignites a survival battle to obtain.

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The Hunt

by Joey Esposito

He sat in the tire swing that overlooked the River. Jesse had strung it up for him two summers back, so he’d be able to sit and gaze out at the landscape beyond the water. Two summers ago he was only eight, but he’d grown so much since then. At ten, he’d already gained an extra four inches and even hunted his first meal without Jesse’s help. Looking back on it now, after what he’d accomplished since, it wasn’t much. But it was more than the other boys his age had done, and for that he was proud.

He recalled the hunt; he had been on patrol with Jesse months ago when the promise of a buck was so alluring that it caused his guardian a lapse in judgment. Leaving the boy alone, Jesse had dashed off into the deep woods after a meal that could feed the village for the better part of a month, if portioned reasonably. It was his first time alone in the woods. Though he had lived there all his life, few ventured into the woods beyond the road by themselves until they were of a certain age. Despite the dangers that the adults assured him lurked within, the woods felt peaceful and secure.

As Jesse’s footsteps padded off into the distance, he stood still until the crunching of dry leaves and crackling of twigs was no longer audible. Only then did he take his first step forward, a first step toward an all new life. He was on his own now, he had thought, and he’d never take a step back. There was a certain wave of adrenaline that filled his bones with each additional step, and he could feel the blade that swung from his belt grow in size. It was heavier now. Though he had used it many times before, he was hunting on his own, as a man, creeping through the woods with only his wits and a weapon.

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Performance Review Of The Damned

by Matthew Green

It was an easy question to answer.  “I spend a lot of time thinking about zombies, actually.”

“Then tell me about your accomplishments for the year.  How many traps have you completed?”

“About seven dozen, give or take.”

“And how many of those were deployed?”

“All of them.”  A moment, then “Can you tell me how many of my traps caught a zombie?”

The supervisor shifted in place.  “That’s secured information.”

“Well, I think it’s relevant.  I keep building traps, and they keep being sent out, but I never hear that we’ve caught any.”

“You don’t have to worry about that.”

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Night Terrors

by Brad Hilderbrand

“I can’t feel my arm.”

The woman’s eyes were glazed, and she was convulsing in shock. Her left arm was gone, nothing left but some jagged bone near her shoulder and the pool of blood that had convalesced around where the limb once was. Every time her heart beat more of her life trickled out onto the pavement, and she would likely be dead from blood loss in a few minutes. Even if the bleeding at her shoulder could be staunched, she was also missing a large chunk of her abdomen, as well as her right leg below the knee.

“Shhh. Don’t worry, help will be here soon. You’re going to be fine.” Derrick knew it was a lie, but he wanted to try and keep the woman calm and relatively comfortable in her final moments. As horrific as her injuries were, she would pass away before she ever felt a thing. A special enzyme in the chilanders’ saliva anesthetized the bites instantly, much in the same way humans don’t know they’ve been bitten by a mosquito until the bug is long gone and the affected area begins to itch. However, now that the creatures were gone the numbness would wear off rather quickly, and if the blood loss didn’t take the woman soon the shock surely would.

Of course, while mosquitos draw a bit of blood and may leave behind malaria, the chilanders devoured entire bodies and the only remnants of their prey were typically a pile of bones. Derrick didn’t used to believe any creature could be so horrific but that had all changed. He heard the stories, saw the videos and now he had seen their handiwork firsthand. He knew now that the only thing these creatures lived for was torment and suffering.

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The Sculptors

by Ryan Olsen

The sun was shining through the makeshift window I made from duct-taping broken bits of bottles and shards of larger windows. The green, blue and clear tints cast dim rays of light on the dirt floor next to the dusty bucket I now call a sink, shower and dishwasher. If you squint, it is as close to stained glass as you can now get. My friend James calls it a “work of art” with his sarcasm he picked up from me that masks his pain.

James used to be a happy-go-lucky fella that could find joy in most things. The son-of-a-bitch would whistle a silly tune as he walked the three miles to get his daily allotment of water. As I grumbled when the shambles of a government we have left decided to horde and ration water, James was enthusiastic we commoners could even get some. Until his kid became a victim of The Sculptors, you couldn’t meet a more genuinely happy person.

The Sculptors are something we have to deal with. And that is the cold, hard truth. Unlike the mythological boogeymen in classic tales like Werewolves or Vampires, The Sculptors are normal people driven mad by the horrors they saw after a few nations thought it would be a great idea to use their Ion Cannons on each other like using a magnifying glass to fry some ants. The resulting damage from the Earth destroying weapons and manmade chaos that erupted even faster than the cannons could reload created the conditions that put some people over the mental edge, the rest of us found our own coping mechanism.

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Working Hour

by Tom Sanford V

It had grown increasingly difficult for him to wake up without having to wipe any sulfur from the sides of his face. He had never figured out exactly where it would come from, though he wasn’t above an educated guess. His shack was only about seven or eight square feet in size and most of his belongings, what little of them existed, hadn’t been tainted. Those that had, like clothing, he brought to the river and rinsed each and every time it became very bad, but that could have been in vain. His drinking water came from a self charging dehumidifier and tasted like rust and popping candy. In his mind it could only be something his body was producing with restful thought. He sat up, reached for his rag and wiped anyway, just in case the usually numb areas on his face were playing tricks. No stains, though. That was enough for a smirk, the first in a long, dry period of little to no facial expression. He knew because he remembered being told by a teacher that his face would freeze if it stayed silly for too long. What if it had only stayed vacant? Living proof! Your clichés were useless, Mrs. Appleby. Please know everyone always hated you.

Inside the shack it was always moderately clean, certainly as clean as was maintainable and he would reach the pique moment of his modern life daily upon that first glance around when waking up. Despite the uncomfortable and often painful process of cleaning the excretions of sleep, that visualization of the room around him was always satisfying. Then he would place his glasses on to his face, the blurred vision would clear and he would remember.

He swung his feet over the cot and slid them into his feet protectors. Shoe was not an adequate term for what were basically soles and velcro. Sandals might have worked, but sandals reminded him of Jesus. Jesus was busy having tea with Mrs. Appleby.

Funny enough he was beginning to look a bit like the son of God. It had been a very, very long time since his last shave and while his beard couldn’t have been tugged on at Macy’s, he may have been stopped at airport security sporting the look. He hadn’t been in an airport in as many as 14 months but based on his last trip, which was solely for a feeling of familiarity, no one would be bothering him. He got up, unlocked the door, skipped the thought of why he was still locking it and stepped outside.

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Chaos Overcome Us

by Erik Norris

“Ain’t it funny how they continue to fight over the bones we throw ‘em? The world has gone to total shit and these pooches continue to act like nothing’s changed, like this ain’t the end of days. It’s just another god damn day for ‘em,” said the man wearing tattered clothing and huddled as close as he possibly could be to the camp fire to siphon every morsel of warmth from it.

“There ain’t nothing funny about it, Hilary,” uttered another man sitting across the camp site, his face illuminated by the flames, but the blanket of darkness obstructing the rest of his features. “What’s funny is that they haven’t yet realized that they could stop fighting over scraps and get a full meal out of each other. As the saying goes, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. And that saying couldn’t be more fitting than right now…”

“Now why the hell would you say such a damned thing, Winston?! You know the shit I’ve been through. I know I’ve told you. It’s that kind of talk that gets me easily fuckin’ riled up.”

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Farm House

by Brad Fawcett

Hank pulled into the gas station and drove up to the hatches for the underground tanks. In the passenger seat, his son Josh slept on a pillow pushed against the door. Hank popped the trunk and quietly exited the car.

Hank pulled a siphon from the trunk. On the end of the siphon, a garden hose was attached with duct tape. The hose was necessary to reach the last bits of fuel that could be found in the tanks.

Hank let out a huff as he turned the cap on the ground. These caps became more and more difficult to remove as the years passed. As he screwed it off, there was a small pop and the cap came loose, followed by a rush of foul odor.

Dammit, it’s gas.

An orange cap sat a few yards away. It probably contained the diesel fuel that Hank needed. Hank had switch to a diesel car two summers ago. Gas was becoming scares and he quickly discovered that the diesel reserves were practically untapped. Hank gathered his supplies and moved to the orange cap. A few quick turns, another pop, and he was met with a smell similar to paint fumes.

That’s better.

Hank lowered the hose into the hold. He could hear the end of the hose scraping the bottom of the tank. There wasn’t much left, but it should be enough reach the next stop. Hank walked back to the car and slid the siphon into the fuel tank. After a couple of pumps on the siphon, diesel started flowing up the hose.

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