Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Greatest Disciple

by Jonathan Pinnock
The crypt was cold and damp, and the stairs leading down to it were slippery. Father Pietro led the way with a burning torch.

“Don’t you have any fucking lights down here?” said the journalist.

“No,” said Father Pietro, “We feel that electricity would destroy the atmosphere that our pilgrims find so special about this place.”

“Well, as far as I’m concerned, it’s got about as much atmosphere as a dead dog’s armpit. Can we just see the relics and piss off back into the real world?”

“Patience, Mr Armitage, patience. You will have your story all in good time.” He held the torch in front of his face and smiled. “Excuse me for asking, but I can’t help feeling that you are a little–how do you say–cynical?”

“Listen, mate, I didn’t pick this story. Just my editor back in London told me his readers wanted to know more. As if a fucking miracle could happen in this day and age.”

“Ah, you sadden me. How can you be so sure?”

“Look, can we just get to the fucking relics?”

“We are there already. They are in this cabinet. See here: one of the largest fragments of the True Cross in the whole of Christendom!”

“Yeah, right. If I got together all the fragments of the True Cross that I’d seen in my time, you’d be able to build a fucking housing estate out of them.”

“Then perhaps you will be more impressed in the holy bones that cured that child?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. Just let me take a pic, and I’ll be off.”

Father Pietro lifted out part of a skeleton. “But perhaps you would first like to touch the bones of the greatest of all the disciples?” He held it out. “Go on!” he said, “Go on!”

Armitage reached out and touched the bones. Immediately a look of agony shot through his face, and he ran off screaming into the darkness, scrabbling around and trying to find the way out.

Good old Judas, thought Father Pietro. You could always rely on him to put the wind up an unbeliever.

Jonathan Pinnock was born in Bedfordshire, England, and--despite having so far visited over forty other countries--has failed to relocate any further away than the next-door county of Hertfordshire. He is married with two children, several cats and a 1961 Ami Continental jukebox. His work has won several prizes, shortlistings and longlistings, and he has been published in such diverse publications as Smokebox, Every Day Fiction and Necrotic Tissue. His unimaginatively-titled yet moderately interesting website may be found at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Bump in the Night

by Bill West

Footsteps on the staircase woke Timmy. Light flickered under his bedroom door and the 'clonk' of something heavy that bumped against each step grew louder.

Wide-eyed, Timmy sat up in bed, clutched his teddy bear tight, and whimpered. By the dim glow of his snowman lamp he could see the door handle turn and the door swing wide. An arm holding a lantern extended into the room.

Icicles dripped from Santa's nose. His beard and bushy eyebrows glinted in the lantern light.

Timmy saw the meat cleaver tucked into the broad belt. Rolled up sleeves revealed matted hairy arms and Santa's fist held a big red sack which bulged with the dismembered bodies of all of the naughty children.

Well, nearly all of them.


Bill West always wanted to be a mortuary technician but when he failed the interview he took a job in IT instead. He's met a lot of odd people working in IT.Bill lives in a remote part of rural Shropshire, UK. He likes to explore ancient ruins, which is where he found his wife. He has two sons who tell him they are a) a Rock Star and b) an Avant-garde Film Maker. He suspects they may be either confused or exagerating as he has never heard of them.Over the past five years Bill's Flash Fictions have been published in a wide variety of print and on-line e-zines and been included in a number of anthologies. See further details of his work at his website,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Homeless Situation

by Felicity Dowker

Tyler grimaced, pretty pink lips drawn into an ugly bundle of disgust.

“God, these people,” she hissed, stepping wide to avoid the beggar propped against the wall. The man’s head was bowed under the weight of the yoke he bore on his stooped shoulders, his grimy hands dangling limp from the contraption. Melinda’s belly churned with the agonizing pity and shame she felt each time she came across one of the city’s many unfortunates. She knelt down before the man, pinching her nose against his stench as she read the cardboard sign that rested against his twisted legs.

They took family and put me here. It hurts.
Please help.
It could happen to you.

“Here,” she mumbled, stuffing five dollars in his tattered pocket. His eyes widened in surprise and gratitude, and a tear traced its way through the ragged beard and accumulated muck on his cheek.

“Thank you,” he whispered, his lower lip trembling. “You’re kind. There’s so few like you left.”
She was already walking away, cheeks flaming, head tucked into her shoulders in defence against the stares of her fellow commuters. She caught up to Tyler, who strode in silent fury on her towering heels.

“Honestly, Melinda. Why would you go and do a thing like that? He’ll only spend it on drugs. Everyone saw you, hunkered down in front of that filthy thing, encouraging him.”

“He’s in pain, Ty. Of course he’ll spend the money on painkillers. What else can he do?”

“He got himself into that mess. Whatever he did, he must have deserved what he got. Why else would the government make him Homeless? Wise up.”

Tyler stomped right over the top of a woman who lay hogtied on the ground, whimpering into the asphalt with bleeding lips, a cardboard sign with her own short tale of horror tied to her neck. Tyler’s six inch heel plunged into the woman’s right eye, popping it like a blister before wrenching free with a loud sucking sound. The woman screeched as pinkish liquid bubbled out of the wet mess in her socket, dripping on the pavement.

Melinda felt the stares of those around her like blades laid in threat against her skin, and forced herself to shut her ears to the Homeless woman’s cries and walk on.

The office was cool and quiet. Melinda looked around, fingers moving furtively across the keyboard, typing in the web address she knew by heart. Nobody looked up from their cubicles as she focused on the screen.

- what did you do today to help, M20996?

She squirmed. Five bucks to one Homeless was hardly an admirable resistance effort.

- $5. Man in yoke at Flagstaff Station.

She paused, the lump in her throat burning, before continuing.

- don’t think he’s got long left. He used to work here. Everyone pretends not to remember.

Her anonymous ally went silent for a moment. It was dangerous to say too much, but her emotions overpowered her better judgment.

(it hurts…it could happen to you)

She gulped down the scream that was always eager to erupt from her throat.

Come on, she begged the unmoving screen. Talk to me. I’ll do better. I’ll help more. Just don’t leave me alone in this madness. There has to be hope.

- every bit helps, M20996. Keep going.

- I’ll try.

“Coming to lunch?” Tyler materialised at her elbow, and Melinda yelped. She fumbled with her monitor, flicking it off, trying to hide her shaking. Had Tyler seen the words on the screen? God, would she tell? Would they put Melinda out on the streets, a display of agony for the world to ignore?

Tyler smiled at her. Her teeth were very white and her eyes were dead and flat. Melinda stretched her own lips in response, bile rising in her throat.


“What do you feel like?”

“I…don’t care.”

But she did, and that had always been her problem.

Tyler kept smiling, not moving away from the desk. She held onto the edge of the cubicle, and Melinda noticed her knuckles were white. Too late, she also noticed the men in purple Government suits walking towards them across the office, their faces dark.

“Tyler,” she whispered. “Please.”

“You people,” Tyler said, her cheek twitching. “You deserve what you get.”


Felicity Dowker is a 28 year old Australian writer with a husband, two young children, and a not-so-hidden feminist and atheist critique nestled in much of her work--especially the flash pieces, for some reason. Quite a few people have been foolhardy enough to publish her short stories, and she has one limited edition chapbook. For ramblings, news and a bibliography, go to but enter, stranger, at your riske; here there be Tygers.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Confession

by Jameson T. Caine

“You’re late,” Father Rivera called out from the confessional when he heard footsteps in the empty church.

“Couldn’t be helped,” replied a deep voice, echoing in the dark. “It isn’t like this place is easy to get to at night.”

“That’s what you said the last three times,” Rivera said, agitation evident in his words. “God’s patience may be infinite but mine is not. I suggest you try harder to be more punctual, Mr. Jonas.”

The door to the confessional eased open and closed. “Why? What else have ya got to do?” Jonas asked from within the adjoining booth. “It’s not like there’s a lot to do in this town.”

Rivera leaned closer to the screen that separated them. He spied the faint silhouette of the larger man and was suddenly aware of the stale smell of sweat that filled the air. Jonas had once again chosen to wear a T-shirt to his debriefing, despite the chill permeating the church this time of night, and was busy scratching his bare arms.

“Is there a problem?” Rivera asked.


“Then I suggest you get on with your report.”

Jonas took a deep breath and was silent for a few seconds before speaking. “We followed up that intel you provided. Sure as hell, that town your boys scouted out was filled with bloodsuckers.

“We ran our usual game, acting out the parts of lost travelers and what not until we located their nest. Then we followed SOP and hit them midday.”

“How did that go?” Rivera asked.

“You’ll be glad to hear that I didn’t lose a single person to a vampire.”

“Well, that’s good news,” Rivera said. “I presume that as we speak, your crew is at the local watering hole imbibing themselves into unconsciousness?”

“Nope,” Jonas said. Again he began to scratch his arms.

“Then where are they?”

“They’re dead. All of them.”

Rivera frowned. “But you just said no one died.”

“I said that I didn’t lose anyone to a vampire, because what we found waiting for us in that nest wasn’t just a bunch of soulless undead.”

“I don’t understand,” Rivera said.

Jonas sighed. “Werewolves,” he spat. “Those bastards had a group of werewolves guarding their nest. We were taken by surprise and before I knew it, half my team was in pieces on the floor.”

“Preposterous,” Rivera scoffed. “Where is your team?” he asked again.

“I told you, they’re dead. Some got torn to shreds right off the bat. The ones that made it out, well…” His voice trailed off.

“What became of them?” Rivera prompted.

“I shot them.”

“What? Why?”

“Because they had been bitten by werewolves and lived. They were doomed to become the same.”

“Mr. Jonas,” Rivera began harshly. “I will not accept this ridiculous tale. Werewolves do not exist. Don’t let the fact that Satan’s minions walk this earth in the guise of vampires lead you to believe that every mythological creature ever invented truly exists. They do not. Now, what happened to your team?!”

Jonas stopped scratching himself and was now very still. “I told you, I killed them,” he said solemnly, and for some strange reason Rivera believed him. His instinct told him that this man was responsible for the deaths of some, if not all, of his team.

Muttering now in a low voice, Jonas continued, oblivious to Rivera’s presence. “I killed them all. I should have seen it coming. I should have seen it. It’s all my fault.” There was no doubt that his days as a field agent were over.

“Pray for me, father,” Jonas whispered, almost to himself.

Feeling tired, Rivera simply nodded and said, “Of course I will pray for you, my son.” It was going to take a lot of hard work in order to help Jonas find redemption.

“Pray for me, father,” Jonas repeated, this time his voice sounding heavier. Rivera noticed that his breathing had changed as well, becoming more labored.

“Yes, Mr. Jonas. I will pray for as I just said.”

Jonas began to fidget. “No father!” He suddenly howled. “Prey for me! YOU ARE PREY FOR ME!”

Father Rivera looked up just in time to see two tremendous hands, taloned and bristling with dark hair, tear through the flimsy screen to grab him by the throat.


Jameson T. Caine has at one time or another worked as a carpenter, meat cutter, shipping clerk, forklift operator, assembly line worker, long haul truck driver and ordained minister. Currently he drives a tanker truck by day and calls himself a writer by night, the latter fueled by a steady diet of soda and cheese puffs. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two dogs. Visit him online at