“Two Beds, One Room” Dark Fiction by Angel Polanco

Liquid ambrosia in the form of a scorching cup of Cafe Bustelo is placed on the table. Outside the tiny one-bedroom with two-beds Washington Height apartment, the 1 train frivolously slithers from the tunnel. Violently shaking the timeline of picture frames that grace the antique dresser.

“This was the first thing I brought you. I was what? Fifth teen. I had that summer job at the sneaker store. Every time we walked past Rubio’s; you’d mention how you loved this dresser. You were so mad at me for spending my first check on it. But every time someone came by, you’d brag about it.” Henri said.

“How I slept through that raucous, I will never know,” Henri says, as she blissfully sleeps. There was a time when the wailing sirens, thundering trains, and medley of bachata, reggaeton and whatever the hip-hop track currently dominated the air waves, were lullabies.

“The Spanish translation for career is race. Isn’t that ironic?” Henri says, with his trademark devil-may-care smirk.

“I’ve been running non-stop. Chasing the dollar. The American Dream. What do I have to show for it?” He says, pausing to think.

“Honestly, I ran away. I ran from this one bedroom, two bed apartment. Trading the vibrancy of Little Quisqueya for the solitude of Long Island suburbia. I even shamefully clean in silence. I look in the mirror and I don’t know who I am. It’s not who you raised. You ran. You ran from traditional abusive parents and the drowning oppression of a third world country in the 80s. Arrived in New York at 16. A child with a child. How’d you do it all? Without losing yourself?”

A summer breeze gently enters through the open window. Carrying, with it the mouthwatering aromas of freshly baked pan Cubano from the corner bakery. Suddenly his stomach roars with the ferocity of a lion.

“I am craving your mangu and fried salami with the pickled red onions. I don’t remember the last time I had a plate,” Henri says.

Henri notices her hand hanging abnormally off the side of the bed. Carefully he moves towards that side of the bed. He closes his eyes savoring the scent of the boldly, rich chocolatey and nutty cup of hazel nectar. When he opens his eyes, his heart breaks. On the ground slightly out of her reach, is the 8×10 photograph, from the last time everyone was together.

Her birthday two years ago. Of course, he was late. Why? Now he couldn’t remember. Did he have a sales meeting that day? No, used work as an excuse hoping to avoid the event. She was changing. The poison of age began to grip her mind and body. Regardless he was late and worse, in bad spirits. Despite this she greeted him with love and a smile. It had been two years since she seen him. Her heart was always right even if her mind wasn’t.

“I remember this day. You called me William. Who is William? I don’t know. In the excitement of your birthday, Alyssa forgot to give you your pills and-,” he paused, fighting back regret. “I was so mad. I snapped at Alyssa. Who am I to snap at her? She’s been here, while like a little boy, I left. She dealt with the doctor visits, and I paid the bills. That was the deal, but she’s the one who bathed and fed you. She’s the one who changed your diapers.”

The venom that erupted from his mouth that caused ruined the festive night. Hateful words laced with pride. As he walked out the door, he saw his mother’s eyes. A look of confusion and sadness. He broke her heart, and she couldn’t even remember why. He didn’t even say good-bye.

He returns to his two beds, one room home much too late.

“Mommy I am so sorry. I was so stupid.  I should have been around. I’m sorry mommy. You needed me and I wasn’t there. I need you mommy.” Henri said, reaching to hold her hand. Tears flow from his eyes, uncontrollably. 

Her eyes open with the instinct of a mother who knows her child is in trouble. She screams, “HENRI!”

Alyssa rushes into the small room, embracing her… our distraught mother. “WHERE’S MY HENRI… WHERE’S MY HENRI…” His mother shouts weeping.

A gentle hand touches my shoulder. To Henri’s surprise, an ethereal, serene warmth surrounds him. Before he leaves, he looks at the picture one last time.


Angel is a Creative Writing Major at Full Sail University. After 15-years of training young sales professionals to communicate effectively through email and phone calls across various verticals. Angel has decided to leverage his talent for creative writing and storytelling to embark on a successful writing career.


“Flowers in the Woods” Dark Sudden Fiction by Anita Joy Balraj

“Forget-Me-Nots” Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

I went to the woods to meet Henry and Gertrude, then… Someone is at the door of my room. Mummy had painted flowers on the door to match with the floral pattern on the floor. I do love flowers, so pretty and delicate! Oh, it’s Mummy, she’s crying now on the floor. She is hugging my bridesmaid gown, how I love the way it glitters! I just wanted to see the pretty blue flowers deep in the woods and maybe see some birds, then… Daddy just ran in and held her, he seems to be crying too. Oh, he is so close to the jewelry box on my dresser! I do hope he doesn’t find the love letters from Henry, I have there. Rob just came in panting, with tears. He always makes me wonder if I really am the oldest. He is telling Daddy that they found me. I had finally found the blue flowers when someone called out my name, then… As soon as Rob spoke, Mummy fainted on my bed. He said I was found in the woods, at the bottom of the lake; I was dead.


Anita is a business analyst by profession and a poet by choice. She started writing when she was six, and has no plans to stop. 


“You Monster” Horror by Janelle Chambers

He paints over the blood on me again before she arrives. He makes my two beds. He vacuums and organizes the desk in my corner. He kicks a paint and blood splattered shirt under the bed and adjusts his tie. He opens my balcony door, but the miasma of copper and paint fumes only dance along the waves of air that rush in.

Maybe she wouldn’t notice.

I feel the clickety clack of six-inch pumps approach. Her tapping is a tickle just below my eye.

He turns up the music, filling me with the spirits of Louis Armstrong. “Come in,” he says, after opening me up.

“You alone?” Her voice is husky from too much smoking.

“I have Molly. And cash.”

She enters, pumps sinking into my softness.

“Sit,” he says.

“Cash first,” she says. She follows him to the balcony.

They light cigarettes and he holds out a baggy to her.

“Molly?”

“Cash first.”

“Relax,” he says.

She sighs, holds out her hand, her fingers wiggling.

He fumbles for his wallet. She snatches it, pulls out cash and stuffs it in the front pocket of her blouse.

“Molly?”

She puts out her cigarette and walks back inside. He follows, closing the balcony door behind him. Closing us all in together, before he strikes.

The bed groans, as if to say not again.

For a moment, Louis’ solo becomes an off-kilter duet, the cacophonous sounds of screaming, ripping fabric, the headboard against my stone body, and finally metal meeting flesh over and over. And over.  Two minutes tops; he’s getting better at this. My white is painted red again.

The music ends, the static of a record player pleading to be shut off. The souls of all the women he’s brought me slowly fill in the empty space.

He washes evidence of his masterpiece off his hands, down my drain, filling my veins. Her body lies on my bed, the only thing he won’t let me keep. He lies on the other bed, and faces her, watching.

Blood pools, the flowered quilt stealing color from her. She stares up at me, one pump hangs delicately from an unsupported foot. Any moment now.

The scratching of the record player mingles with the buzz of the bathroom’s fluorescent lights.

I wait for her to join me and mine, the meandering ghosts of women who close in to welcome her. But she doesn’t come.

She blinks, her ashen face coloring and I realize then, the red isn’t sticking to me like it had with the others. I feel my feast pulling away and I see her now. Like a flower, her smile grows, oh so slow. It stretches behind her ears, her lips thin and pale as her skin, until no lips remain, only a black curved line.

The shoe drops.

His head lifts, hair in his eyes.

Her hand moves to the knife in her gut. No nails, just skin.

I throb with the need for blood. My lights flicker. He can’t let her escape. I need her back. My reserves are dry, I feel the weight of me, the cold. But, she’s not…

He sits up, the bed groans as if to warn, don’t go there.

“What?”

“Bad boy,” she says.

He stands above her unblemished person. “No,” he says.

“Yes,” she says, and in one-two-three seconds she pulls the metal from her meat, jamming it into his hip. Out again, and then fun retribution to his stomach. Into his bicep.

The blood is there, out of my reach, until he hits the floor. She straddles his fallen form and who cares if he’s crying and pleading? My ladies’ faces contort in mocking horror and silent screams. They laugh at old phantasms of each perfect moment now gone horribly wrong.

And I? My carpet sponges up each red drop and it is good, and it is foul, but not enough.

She pulls the small bag of pills from his pocket.

“You’re a monster,” he rasps.

“And so are you,” she says. “Molly?” She dumps the pills down his throat, holding his lips closed. She carves a line that frames his face, and it is a great gift, a new masterpiece. I fill, and she stands, opening the balcony door for another smoke.


Janelle Chambers lives with her husband, two daughters, dog, ferret, and unknown number of fish. She is inspired by the works of Poe, the Grimm’s brothers and way too many fantasy writers to name. In addition to writing, she also hopes to successfully make it as a voice actress. 


“Piñata” Dark, Supernatural Flash Fiction by D.C. Marcus

As your daughter walks barefoot across the lawn toward the hanging piñata, her bright red toenails padding through the well-kept grass, there is no reason to feel trepidation.  These backyard parties are a Halloween tradition, Callie and her friends decked out in their costumes stuffing themselves with candy, the neighborhood parents loitering on the deck with their smart phones and red plastic cups of cheap white wine.    

     The piñata, a Halloween mainstay since Callie turned three; perhaps the tradition ends with this final smash.  She’s fifteen now, accent on teen, too old to be excited by an orange jack-o-lantern packed with candy and hanging from a tree.  Other things excite her now; ten minutes earlier you found her spooning cake to the seventeen-year-old football player next door, his long tongue licking the white frosting from your daughter’s delicate fingers.  Like always, she wears her princess costume, but this year’s outfit offers a different view.  The pink satin pants hug her newly rounded hips, the frilly blouse tied above her midriff revealing cream-white skin, her bra straps visible through the sheer fabric.  Your daughter is changing, but the piñata still hangs from the tree, waiting; a ritual you refuse to let go.  

     The other kids gather near the tree as your beloved Callie picks up the bat and steps up to the piñata, making a show of it with her shimmying hips, the seductress approaching the golden calf, shaking her butt to the hoots and cheers of the hormone-charged boys.  You hate it, but your daughter will soon be a woman; you see how the other boys look at her, a duplicate of your own former teenage gaze. Callie raises the bat and aims for the piñata, the grinning pumpkin face stuffed with Starburst and Skittles and rolled up dollar bills placed among the treats.  As she swings, you imprint the moment in your brain: her last backyard Halloween party, the last time your daughter will still be girl enough to dive into the grass hunting for candy.  Next Halloween your only role will be the chauffeur, driving her to the mall and handing over the cash, banished while she flirts with boys and laughs with her friends.  You sense it all changing, but you have no idea how muchuntil Callie drives the plastic yellow bat straight into the piñata—SMASH—and the ground suddenly begins to shake.   

     The piñata explodes into a spray of candy, kids diving and scrambling with grabby hands, the neighborhood parents snapping photos, but the ground won’t stop rumbling—and then someone starts screaming because …how is it possible?  The piñata has started bleeding.

     Callie looks up, and for a moment, she is happy.  Remember that moment: the innocent smile on your daughter’s face, a face suddenly streaked filthy with blood.  You struggle to reach her but the ground has shifted into a thick, viscous mud, and all the girls are screaming now as a brick-sized mass of pink flesh, sticky with blood and brown-green mucous, drops placenta-like from the stem of the piñata. From that pulsing mound It begins to grow, an amorphous tumor throbbing and beating, swarming with flies, its center a slashed orifice as the shape, the thing, whatever it is, expands and starts moving, slithering its way toward your daughter as a noxious fog descends upon the yard. 

     Something has come unleashed, growing ever larger as other shapes spew from the piñata and begin to attack, hungry pink tumors latching onto flesh, biting, tearing, ripping the skin from all those young bones. Callie crawls across the grass, her friends scattering, screaming.  The football player collapses to the ground, a round pulsing tumor attached to his chest, a tentacle snaking out of its orifice and wrapping around his neck, the boy’s face a ghastly blue as the tentacle begins squeezing.      

     Your legs sink deeper into a mud bog, the fog skewing your vision as the shape mounts your daughter’s leg and crawls up her thigh, the orifice oozing spores, the spores multiplying, spreading across the lawn.  “Daddy! Help!” your daughter cries, and you grab Callie’s hand and feel her fingers against your palm.  Remember how tiny they were the first time you held her in the hospital?  But your grip fails as she is torn away from you, the tumor, the throbbing mass crawling over her stomach, sucking her into its orifice.      You still hear Callie screaming as another tumor drops from the piñata, and another, and another…and all you can think is Abholos, eater of worlds.    


D.C. Marcus grew up in New Jersey reading Twilight Zone Magazine and the classic Shadows anthologies edited by Charles L. Grant.  


“The Orange Tree” Fiction by Molly Osborne

We told our friends we bought the house because of the neighborhood and the beautiful front porch, but really it was because of the orange tree in the backyard. I grew up where winter has a stranglehold on everything living for at least half the year. After moving to Southern California, I was struck by the lemons, limes, avocados, and oranges that peeked out on branches over fences seemingly all year round.

   We moved in while the tree was still blossoming. In a few months’ time we would have a bounty of fruit that would become juices, marmalades, tarts, or sliced up and eaten for breakfast.

   When the first green fruits emerged, I’d find they’d quickly disappear. Birds, I thought. I purchased an enormous net and with the help of my husband and a questionable ladder, draped it over the top of the tree. And yet, the fruit still disappeared, never able to grow larger than a ping pong ball.

   I took out my ladder, searching in the areas that were the hardest to access. A hard, pockmarked fruit managed to make it twice as large as any other I had found, but it was covered in tiny bites, that had eaten away thick chunks of its flesh. Rodents, for certain.

   I laid out traps of all kinds; ones that snapped, ones that were sticky, ones that shut a little door and trapped the bastards after they went inside. Nothing was working. My fruit would die as infants. I even lured the neighbor’s cat over with treats. We’ll brush your coat, give you tuna, even lay a warm bed out for you on the patio. If you happen to see a rat or two when you are here, well, it would be great if you could—

The cat made barely a dent in the rat population. My tree was practically bare and I was beginning to think I’d lose the whole season. Poison was still an option, but I had saved it for last on purpose. I knew that it was terrible for the environment in so many ways, but I justified it by only using half as much as the box suggested. It worked.

   My tree no longer looked mangy. I was winning the war, but after a week or so I started finding the bite marks again. Most of the fruit that was nearly ripe had disappeared entirely.

   I bought another box of the poison. It worked so well—how could I not?  I needed to knock out their army. No more warning shots. I poured out the entire box, using even more than I was instructed to. And this would be it. One heavy blow, and then no more poison. Maybe some traps for good measure, but no more poison.    One morning I found the cat. The sweet neighbor cat that was practically ours.  She had trusted us. She couldn’t have gotten into the poison. She was smarter than that. After the nets went up, she left the tree alone. But she hadn’t left the rats alone. Not far from her soft body was a limp, partially eaten rat. It’s innards more toxins than blood. I was able to get a decent crop of oranges, but all of the fruit was bitter. The next year, I let the rats have it.


Molly Osborne is a Portland, Oregon based writer. She has fiction in STORGY, Bewildering Stories, and Button Eyes Review. When she isn’t writing, she works in stop motion animation production. She is currently writing a speculative fiction novel for adults.


“On the Boardwalk” Dark Flash Fiction by Alan Catlin

From the boardwalk I can see the waves rolling toward the shore. Metal trash barrels stretch row on row in parallel lines as far as the eye can see.  All the broad, white painted backs of the lifeguard stands are empty now as night begins.  Out there, where the fishermen are casting their lines into the surf.  Out there where the waves breaking over the hard grey rocks of the jetties pointing out into the sea. 

Overhead, the squawk of the gulls that are circling above the beach, dipping toward the waves, hovering over an unseen spot.  Something is dead down there but, from here, it is impossible to discern exactly what it is.

Toy carnival rifles crack, a bell rings.  The voice of the barker intones: “Three shots for a quarter, win a kewpie doll, win a prize for that special gal, three shots for a quarter, fifteen for a buck, try your luck.” The Wonder Wheel cars slide on the ramp over the boardwalk.  For a moment they appear suspended in the air, held in place by invisible metal strings.  People inside scream.

I watch the children play tag as I walk.  Watch them running amidst the crowds darting in and out among the people walking in either direction down the boardwalk.  I wonder how long it will be before they run into someone.  How long before they fall to the well‑worn boards of the walk?  Would they be crushed after they fell, crushed into the splinters, by crowds walking?

As I walk, I smell the boiling water where the soggy ears of corn sit stewing, turning as they stew, a sick pale yellow.  I smell the thick griddle grease where the hamburgers sizzle and the hotdogs turn.  I smell the candied apples’ chocolate scorch­ing black as I watch stray dogs pick through the overflowing, rusting garbage cans, for food.  Walking here, as the night grows closer and the carnival lights glare.

Walking, I think of the short beach dunes looming like giant sea beasts.  The beach grass whipping my ankles as I run, the precipitous slide down, down toward the dune valley, the rusting steel girders, brought here for what unknown reason?  And every­where, broken beer bottles, rusting cans and bottle tops.  Every­where the distinct scent of urine; this death dune valley.

The seashore off‑season.  Cool breezes whipping in from the water.  The unclean beach- front strewn with all manner of debris: driftwood, cast‑off luggage and empty food containers washed in from the liners and cruise ships sailing for a port of call.

Walking, I remember riding the Wonder Wheel as a child, remember riding against my will, fearing, then, as now, anything free‑falling, anything rootless dropping through the air.  I feel the terrible spinning wheel on which I was trapped, hiding on the cage floor, quaking, sobbing, clutching my knees to my chest, rocking a crazed feral beast, as we slide over the concrete walks, out over the boardwalk.  I remember shivering while, inside me, a scream louder than all the carnival music ever played.

On the beach front, I remember the reinforced concrete observation towers built by the government during a world war. Deserted now.  Cluttered with refuse so thick with black flies in the heat of summer a man might not get inside even if he, for some dire reason, should have to.

Walking down the boardwalk.  The resort hotels overlooking the sea. Short sleeve‑shirted old men all balding, all over­weight, all smoking fat black cigars, all standing by the hotel entrances. All identical.  Watching the crowd file past.  So many arms and hands attached to a body.  All identical. Marching past this spot in time, disappearing thereafter forever, out into this harshly‑lighted, endless night.

Under the boardwalk a deep, mournful moan.  How many animals have come here to die, and for what reason?

As seen from the boardwalk, the city police jeep riding across the beach, slipping between the trash bins, digging in the sand, routing all but the deep‑sea fishers, is some kind of medieval beast, its white eyes shining in the dark.

A tall, gaunt drunk stumbling on the boardwalk, his dead eyes rolled back in his head.  His body moving without him, weaving in and out of the crowd. Walking onward, lurching, recovering his balance, only to lurch sideways once again.  Moving forward impelled by some inner need, moving forward as if he had some­where of vital importance to go.

Walking down the boardwalk, looking into hotels, the club bars.  Doors flung wide open, the ceiling fans spinning, circu­lating the heavy clouds of smoke.  The dull, gray light of the room.  The crowd of t‑shirted old men sitting, standing, leaning on the mahogany surface of the bar.  Drinking shots and beer, talking and smoking as they drink.  Frozen in the bar mirror. Frozen as the bar man cracks ice in his hands with a short wooden stick.  Frozen as he drops ice into a glass, pours in liquor and moves away.

Standing on the boardwalk staring out over the beach toward the sea.  The shining chrome‑plated heads of the observation scanners like a row of armor-plated, armless dead men impaled upon a metal pole.  Twenty-five cents to peek through a dead man’s eyes, to look directly into the heart of the night.

The red summer moon hanging in the sky, casting light on the white capped heads of the sea rolling, rushing forever onward.  Rushing over the black fingered jetties, smashing on the white- faced sand as it withdraws a handful of sand.  It will be ex­tremely hot for us, walking here tomorrow. Toy carnival rifles crack, a bell rings.  The voice of the barker intones: “Three shots for a quarter, win a kewpie doll, win a prize for that special gal, three shots for a quarter, fifteen for a buck, try your luck.” I watch as the Wonder Wheel spins in a mad terrifying circle. Hear the people screaming.


Alan Catlin is primarily known for poetry but that doesn’t prevent him for mixing and matching prose and poetry as the subject allows.  He has published dozens of full length book and chapbooks, mostly poetry, over the years. Although he is not a genre writer he has somehow managed three Rhysling Prize nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination He didn’t win either award.


“Final Trick” Flash Fiction by Young Tanoto

Magician’s boy, stuffed his mouth with nylon scarves. He stood in front of the bedroom mirror, a ten-piece beginner’s set strewn across his desk. Hat askew, fifty-cent bow tie cinched tight around his Adam’s apple, he sucked on what tasted like burnt plastic and whatever backwater oriental factory the kerchiefs were made in. He already felt like his body might pop from the starchiness of his shirt and the tourniquet around his neck. Then he felt a tickle rising in his throat and before he knew it he was retching, gagging on the fabric. And so he spit them back up.

He made a run for the sink. He stubbed his toe on the doorstep by accident, but he had more pressing concerns. Hunched over the counter, he pulled the line of handkerchiefs from his mouth one by one, like drawing  water from a well. Every knot scraped his front teeth. They felt slimy on his lips, the bright colors dampened by his spit.

Maybe he should have stuck to cards, he thought. His toe throbbed, alight with pain.

After a few more days of practice, his trick was ready for an audience. He called his brother to his room. They sat across from each other, a cardboard box in between them.

“I can’t watch another card trick,” his brother said. He’d seen him do the amazing aces, the pick-a-card, the blind three card monte, and seven types of coin flips. 

“I’m done with that kid stuff,” the boy said. He accidentally left his card deck in the pocket of his good trousers and they were ruined in the laundry. “I’ve moved on. I’m working on something else.”

“What happened to your toe?” His brother said, not hearing him.

The nail was jaundiced yellow, purple under the surface where new nail had begun to push through the bed like spring flowers. 

“Stubbed it,” the boy said. “Is it bad?”

“Pretty bad, man,” his brother said. The nail wiggled like a door on a hinge. “I think you’re gonna have to pull it.”

“No.”

“Just rip it off like a bandaid,” his brother said. “It’s dead, anyway.”

The boy paused. He leaned forward and pinched the tip of the nail between his fingers. It felt foreign. The nail lifted easily, barely connected to the cuticle. “Ow,” he said, though it didn’t really hurt much.

“Hurry up, dumbass.”

 He did, but it didn’t come loose. “Hey, does it look longer to you?” He tugged again, and this time felt a distinct sliding sensation within his foot.

The nail slid forward, revealing more dead nail that came out from under his cuticle. 

“How are you doing that?” His brother asked. “That’s amazing.”

 “I don’t know,” the boy said. He pulled harder, and the yellow, tough nail was extended by a foot then, appearing endless. He felt a tug in his navel like something grabbed his insides and yanked. He felt nauseous but reluctant to stop all the same. His brother came forward, then, and grabbed his hand.

“Bravo!” his brother said, and pulled with all his strength. The last of the nail was pried free, pooling along the floor in putrid coils. The plucked nail stem uprooted a white cottony protrusion from within his toe. The boy grabbed the thing by the ears—warm, pulsating with breath—and gingerly, gently unearthed a pristine white rabbit. 


Young is a 21-year-old undergraduate student that writes to satisfy his fascination with the bizarre and the uncanny. He currently studies English and Psychology at Tufts University. His short story, “When Words Fail”, received a gold medal in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.