By Quenby Eisenacher
The Narrow Road
The road doesn’t run in a straight line, splitting the vast plain in half. It curves back and forth, winding around nothing, a ribbon of hard-packed dirt and stones that meanders toward the silvery haze of the horizon. There’s a cloud of dust thrown up behind the bus, the rear windows already coated with a layer of grime that even the daylight can’t penetrate. Every few minutes, one of the larger stones gets chucked up into the undercarriage, striking hard and fast, the sound too much like a gunshot. A few of the children wince at the noise, their eyes squeezing shut, scuffed skin pulled taut over their white knuckles. Karin glances at the boy beside her, the one with the mud caked into the ends of his straw-colored hair. She could speak to him, she thinks, just a few words to show that she doesn’t want to be a stranger. But the words fail to come, her tongue clinging to the roof of her mouth, swollen and thick, as if she’s forgotten how to make it work.
Over another bump and she closes her eyes, her toes curling inside the stiff brown shoes on her feet. Swinging her right leg, she taps the seat in front of her with the tip of her cracked toe, the edge of her blue sock just visible where the upper pulls away from the sole. The head in front of her doesn’t turn, black braids neatly parted and tied up at the bottom with little bits of red ribbon. Karin looks at the ribbon for a moment, at the dull film of dust hiding the shine of satin from view. Her eyes are still fixed on the vivid strips of cloth as her fingers find her own hair, loose and scraggly around her shoulders. She wishes she had ribbon like that, and swings her foot into the back of the seat one more time.
The window is on the other side of her, close enough that she can press her left shoulder against the glass and silence the rattle inside the frame. There’s not as much dust either, being only a few seats back from the driver. For a moment, she feels bad for the children in the rear, the ones next to the filthy windows, cut off from the light and the scenery trundling past them on all sides. Not that there’s much to see, but it’s better than staring at the floor. Crossing her arms until her hands are hidden inside her sleeves, she leans back, her chin tucking into her shoulder, one dirty lock of hair sliding out from behind her ear as she fixes her gaze on some imaginary spot far off in the distance.
By Pam Farley
Pamela Farley is an Australian author of dark fiction. She is a member of the Australian Horror Writer’s Association and has had more than a dozen of her short stories published in magazines in Australia and the UK. Pam lives in rural South Australia with family and assorted animals. She works in a country veterinary practice.
Today’s weird tale takes us to a remote farmhouse… at night. The power goes out… Where are the matches? Where’s the cat? What’s that glow through the trees?
Samantha had been away for the weekend with her girlfriends. The break had been fun and all the girls were still laughing raucously when they dropped her at the gate. Her small farm house was ten kilometers from town, and in the still rural-twilight the din the girls made seemed to linger in the air.
As she got out of the car Samantha could hear the telltale clinking of empty Cruiser bottles rolling around on the car’s floor. The girls were singing, loud and off key while she got her bag from the boot. When the tooting vehicle departed there were limbs flailing from all four windows. The car turned at the end of the road and disappeared. Darkness came on suddenly, accompanied by a cool wind. Samantha swayed and clutched the gate post. The three drinks she had gulped down in the last hour had gone to her head. She gave a giggle.
The sensor light failed to come on when Samantha walked to the porch. The area was in shadow and she couldn’t see a thing. She tripped on the metal boot scraper by the door and swore. It was sheer luck when the key in her hand found its way into the lock, and the back door sprung open.
It was darker in the house than it had been outside and Samantha’s hands fumbled along the walls from memory, but there was no response from any of the light switches. More obscenities sprang from her mouth as she realized that the problem was within the fuse box outside. By bumping and feeling her way to the laundry she located the torch on a shelf next to the clothes dryer.
‘At least this still works,’ she muttered to the night.
But the globe glowed dim and she knew it would not last for long. She rushed outside to check the fuses. Panic had rendered her sober and dexterous. A systematic check of the old porcelain plugs soon helped her to identify the blown one. She re-threaded it with the fine steel wire kept inside the power box. But when she replaced the plug and threw the switch there was a loud bang as it blew again.
By Bill Ectric
The House and the Baboon
a short story
A haunted house would make a good article, I thought. I called in sick on Tuesday, drank some coffee, and sat down to write. My wife went to work. Now it was 10:30 AM, which is like a magic hour when you call in sick because it’s not too late, plenty of possibility left in the day, and usually some good TV shows come on about this time. Old reruns, sensational talk shows, and Judge’s Court. But I’m not watching the judge today. I’ve got a story to write about the haunted house across the street.
It is not a traditional haunted house; it’s a Florida haunted house, meaning there is a window on the second floor shaped like a porthole that seems to scream shrilly at you when you walk past it at night. Then there’s the old dead coconut tree and the rusted anchor someone put in the yard years ago for decoration. The scarred up door that’s been broken into and patched up twice. Nobody has lived there for seven years, which is strange. There has never been a For Sale sign in the front yard. People say it’s haunted because of inexplicable incidents, like when some kids snuck in for kicks and came out all freaked about a “hairy legged” apparition they saw. I don’t know what the hell they saw.
By Bill Ectric
a short story
I don’t know if my nightmares are from fear or guilt. I should have done more for the child when he called on me for help. What would you do if this happened to you? On a deserted stretch of Arizona highway, a faded sign on a sun-parched cabin said, “Gifts, Souvenirs, Curios – Cold Drinks, Ice Cream, Snacks, Coffee.”
I steered the car into the unpaved parking area. A cold, quenching soft drink would hit the spot, I thought. Dust floated up around my car when I stopped a few feet from the entrance.
A little bell jingled over the door when I walked in.
By Bill Ectric
Miss Glenly’s Dreadful Room
a short story with the ghost of Jacques Derrida looming in the text
Wistful evenings sometimes begin with sunny afternoons and there is a certain part of me that likes being wistful. Miss Glenly understood that feeling more than anyone did when I was fourteen years old, walking home from school, stopping at her sunny house for a glass of iced tea and conversation during the prelude to sunset. She was cool for a sixty-seven year old woman, I thought. In the small town where we lived, Miss Glenly had knowledge of a wider world. Some of that knowledge turned out to be terrifying.She lived alone in a modest but nice, well-kept wooden house with a screened-in sun porch amid plants and books, some comfortable wicker chairs and a porch swing. Miss Glenly was a retired English teacher. Her husband had been Head of the Psychology Department at a nearby college before he died under vague circumstances.
“He was very ill, for quite some time,” is all Miss Glenly would say.
We sat in the wicker chairs and she brought out two glasses of delicious iced tea with orange slices instead of lemon wedges.
“What are you reading now?” she always asked. “Still into Double-O-Seven?”
By Heidi Logothetti
Heidi Logothetti was born in Northern California and attended Santa Clara University. She currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and works in Washington, DC. She is an omnivorous reader, enjoys hiking, and loves old movies and anime.
Today’s weird little tale concerns a woman and her television. What’s the TV saying? Listen. It has something on its mind. Through the chatter and between the channel surfs, is it trying to say more than you think?
Adult Themes – Not Intended for Young Children