Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #14 - Pearce Hansen

Blind Date

He slowly came back to himself, the pill fog gone for the first time in years it seemed. He looked slyly around at the dayroom, keeping his face as slack as it had been the moment before, looking at all the other medicated zombies he lived with. He didn’t bother trying to analyze why things were clear again, he was in the moment, assessing. Proud rage threatened to spill past his mask though: all the ward attendants appeared bored, they joked with each other as they wandered carelessly among all their dayroom charges. How dare they feel safe around him? Where were the restraints they’d honored him with when he first came here, the blood of his last victims still fresh on his hands?

He smelled Doctor Leeds approaching. He allowed his mouth to hang open, let his eyes go unfocused as his old nemesis studied him; there was a young woman next to him in a staff uniform.

“He’s still in there somewhere, I’m sure,” Doctor Leeds said, his voice deep and gloating. “Modern pharmacology has brought the old dragon low.”

“Yes father,” the uniformed girl said quietly, looking at the floor.

“Don’t ever call me that here,” Doctor Leeds hissed. Leeds's uniformed daughter winced, and then the two were gone.

He sat there patiently for the rest of the day, allowed himself to be herded along with the rest of the shamblers to the meds-locker just before lights out. Doctor Leeds daughter handed him his pills; the bored attendants made sure he swallowed the horse-pills, made sure he didn’t hide them under his tongue. He joined the parade to the dormitory, and climbed onto his cot, irritated that he wasn’t even confined to a padded cell. He waited for the pills to take effect, reflecting that his charade would become real soon enough, that this day’s lucidity would be gone soon enough. This latest dose of meds would take him away into the haze again, this time forever. No escape, after all.

But later he lay awake in the night, eyes closed as he listened to the mumbling dreamers surrounding him, studying his continued clarity. ‘Modern pharmacology,’ Leeds had said – how it must have pleased Leeds to disrespect him, to make light of him by using pills as a cage. What was happening here? Why wasn’t he doped up anymore? He was suspicious, this couldn’t possibly be to his benefit. Once could mean a weak batch of anti-psychotics, but this ongoing lucidity had to mean enemy action. The good Doctor’s “profiling” had put him in here in the first place. Perhaps Leeds was trying to trick him. But it didn’t matter, the old needs were back in full force now – even if he was serving another’s plan, he had no choice but to go forward.

He uncoiled from his cot, grateful that the long inactivity had not stunted his physicality. He floated though the dorm-room to the staff-office in the corner, mouth open to improve his hearing as he tried to psychically locate whoever was on night duty. He reached the office and snuck a peek around the half open door. The attendant lay there next to the desk, staring at the ceiling with dead eyes. A spilled cup of coffee next to the white clad corpse, the brown liquid still steaming and acrid smelling as it puddled on the linoleum. There was no blood, which was frustrating – but the door to the day room was open, and excitement overpowered his irritation as he glided through.

The main security office looked unmanned, and he hurried so as to overpower the security personnel that he knew would be there, gleeful to be in the zone again for the first time in ages. But both the rent-a-cops were dead too, some one had gotten to them before him and stolen all his fun. This time there was blood however: they both had extra mouths carved across their throats, those twin bloody smiles calling out to him in old bon homie. His nostrils flared at the delicious copper smell of their uncongealed blood, still spreading from the death wounds.

“Hah!” he sighed softly to himself as he picked up the bloody butcher knife from the desk, as convenient placed as if it had put there solely for his benefit.

Outside the main entrance, a car was waiting with the engine running. He was around to the driver’s side in a blur, the butcher knife poised to address the driver. As he readied to insert the blade, he reflected on just how fortunate the driver was – he wouldn’t be able to take as much time here as he liked.

The blade stopped as he recognized Doctor Leeds’ daughter. The girl acted as if she didn’t even notice the blade.

“You want to look in the trunk,” she said, as she pressed a dash button. There was blood on her hand

He moved to the open trunk. She was at his mercy, he could reach her before she could drive away – he was strong again. And now, looking down at Doctor Leeds hogtied in the trunk with his mouth duct-taped shut, he felt even stronger. Strong enough to kill God, strong enough to rape the Devil. It felt good.

Leeds's daughter was standing next to him now, looking down at her father. “After you’re done with Daddy, I’d like it if you come home and take care of my Mom before you decide what you’re going to do with me.”

He looked at the girl, and she looked right back, meeting his eyes without fear, as if they were family. He reflected that her being out of the car meant that he wouldn’t get any blood in the car’s interior – she’d deliberately made it easier for him.

He smiled down at her father, at her gift to him. “Deal,” he said.
Then, as she watched and as Leeds stared up at him with screaming eyes, he bent over and got to work.

Bio:Pearce Hansen is the author of STREET RAISED, available now at Amazon.com. He assures the reader that he's not the twisted mutant freak his writing would seem to indicate. Check out his MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/pearce_hansen

Friday, February 16, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #13 - Sandra Seamans

by Sandra Seamans

The door banged open, smacking the wall and nearly breaking the ancient frosted glass window with my name painted on it. I looked up and shook my head. Dames. They always have to make an entrance.

She stomped into my office, a Marilyn Monroe hairdo framing a face wrinkled by a lifetime of living, ready to pour out her sob story. Just once, I'd like to get through a Valentine's Day without an old broad on a crying jag.

"Can I help you, lady?"

"Are you Mr. Cupid? Horatio T. Cupid? Private eye?"

"That's what the name on my door says."

"And are you the Cupid who was working out of this office back in 1944?"

"That'd be me. Why?"

"You don't remember me, do you?"

"Lady, we're talking sixty plus years here. Between the turnover in this office and my age, I'm lucky to remember who I am. And I gotta trust that you didn't look like an AARP Marilyn Monroe back then. You were probably still in rompers and a bib."

"I was sixteen and in love with a soldier named Billy Sikes. He was stationed in France and I hired you to deliver my valentine to him. I just found out that he never got that valentine. He never knew how much I loved him, so he married some little French hussy."

"Look, Lady. There was a war going on and I was trying not to get my butt shot off. Between dodging grenades and gunfire, a few valentines were bound to get lost in the cracks. What do you want, a refund?"

"A refund? You destroyed my life and you think I've come here for a refund? Billy Sikes became one of the richest men in the world while I was sitting at home on my Daddy's porch waiting for him to come sweep me off my feet. You ruined my life."

"Jeez, Lady. I can't guarantee every romance is gonna work out. I ain't no miracle worker you know."

"That's not what you told me back in 1944. You promised me that Billy would love me forever, you swore on your mother's grave. Now, he's dead and I've wasted my entire life waiting for a man who forgot all about me."

"Well, that's the breaks, Lady."

"That's all you've got to say?"

"Yep, that'd be it."

I eased back in my chair and waited for the dame to break into the routine crying jag. Instead, she stands up, pulls a cupid's bow from her purse and shoots me through the heart with an arrow. The lady and me will be getting married this afternoon. She says she’ll be damned if she’s going to her grave an old maid.

From the case files of Horatio T. Cupid, private eye. Soon to be retired and living in sunny Florida with his new bride.


Bio: Sandra's stories can be found in "The Ex Factor Anthology", Mouth Full of Bullets, and Crime and Suspense.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Muzzle Flash Contest!!!!

Over at the excellent MUZZLE FLASH, DZ Allen is running a contest.

Here is your chance to get your material published in a print format in the new Out of The Gutter, which is debuting this month in print format.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #12 - Clair Dickson

A Bo Fexler Short Story
by Clair Dickson

"Don't I know you from some where? I said softly, forgoing my normal, careful enunciation that's the product of speech therapy.

"Excuse me?" asked the man I just sat next to at the bar, looking me over. I gripped a glass and offered a shaky smile.

"I know you from somewhere. I remember you," I pressed again. "Victor?"

"Yeah . . . I don't . . . remember you. I'd think I would." He stopped to linger on the view my deep V-neck shirt allows.

"Bonnie. You don't remember me?"

"No. I'm sorry. Maybe we can try again," he suggested. "Where do I know you from?"

"Weren't you at Jane Kelsey's wedding?"

"Yeah. My girlfriend was a friend of hers from work."


"We broke up. That's why I'm here." He put his arm around me.

I leaned in, breathing on his shoulder. "You're still hot," I told him.

"So are you."

I nodded to the bartender. "Could I get another?"

He set another glass of completely watered-down alcohol in front of me. I don't drink when I'm working. "So, Victor, what you been up to since I last saw you?"

"Working construction still. I'm a concrete worker." Our faces were less than an inch apart. For a moment, I held it there, our breath mingling before I pulled away and took another drink.

"What happened with the girlfriend? Marie, wasn't it?"

"Haven't seen much of her."

"Why'd you break up?" I asked, putting my hand on his thigh.

"Wasn't working out."

"That's too bad." I turned my face to his and he moved closer. He moved in for the kiss. We were both out of breath when I broke our lips apart.

"Wow." He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth.

I didn't give him the chance to catch his breath before I kissed him again fiercely.

"Come back to my place," he implored.

"Seems kind of fast."

He kissed my neck. "We don't have to move fast. We can take it real slow."

"All right," I breathed. "I'll follow you home." Though little lost puppy's are less dangerous.

"Are you sure you can drive?"

"I'm fine. I haven't had that much."

Victor paid our tabs. The night air had a chill to it, typical of early March. A short caravan later, Victor and I arrived at his apartment. I stopped him on the stairs for another kiss before we went inside.

Once the door was closed, I backed him up to the couch and sat him down simply by suggestion. Then, I knelt on the couch straddling him.

"Are you naughty?" I purred.

"Oh yeah," he breathed.

I touched my lips to his lower lip, but didn't kiss his mouth. "Yeah? Ever done something really bad? I mean-- like . . . real bad."

"You like that?"

I responded with another teasing kiss.

"Okay, um-- how bad?"

"You ever kicked someone's ass for your girlfriend?" I took off my shirt.

"Of course."

"Tell me about it." He hesitated until I placed his hands on my breasts.

"Ah-- how about this? When Marie and I were breaking up, I mean-- I knew it was coming-- I started seeing this new girl. Karen said she was afraid of her friend finding out because her friend would out her to Marie. She said she was meeting her friend for dinner that weekend. So, I waited for her friend and jumped her in the parking lot."

"When was this?"

"Huh? Oh, last month."

"Week of February sixth."

"Yeah . . . I think so. How--"

"Read it in the local paper." I took his wrists in a pincer-grip. "Tell me more. Tell me about how you jumped her," I continued in a soft, low purr.

He wet his lips. "All right-- she was leaving the restaurant. Her car was parked out back. I went between these two cars--"

"What kind of cars?"

"Uh, one was a red SUV. The other was a blue pick-up truck. When she passed the SUV, I grabbed her and pulled her behind it, so no one could see."

"Tell me what her face looked like?" I whispered into his ear.

"Couldn't really tell. She had a green and yellow striped scarf wrapped around her face. It was cold that night. Come on-- let me touch--"

"You pulled her behind the SUV, punched her in the head, threw her on the ground and kicked her in the head and chest until she blacked out-- and you never saw her face?"

The information had a sudden calming and sobering effect on him. "Yeah . . ."

"Well, here you go," I announced, taking a photo from my back pocket. "Now you can see her face."

"Marie? She said she got in a car wreck--"

"The only thing I don't get," I put in as I stood and shrugged back into my shirt, "is why she'd tell you that."

"I-- there's gotta be a mistake. I wouldn't have beaten Marie up."

"Victor. Why'd she say it was a car accident?"

His head snapped to a level position. "Because she was cheating on me. She said she was out of town visiting her sister. Maybe she lied because she was still here, just with someone else."

"You know there was someone else?"

"That's why we broke up."

"Not over your lover?"

"No. But what do you care?"

"My name is Bo Fexler. I'm a private investigator. Marie hired me to find out who beat her up that night in the parking lot," I explained simply.

"So, what made you think it was me?"

"It's always a lover-- current or former. And I already knew it wasn't her ex."

"You seduce him too?"

I gave him a flirty little smile as I let myself out of the apartment with a gust of cold air.

BIO: Clair has been delighted with her recent string of success that places her number of accepted stories at 15. She's been published in Mysterical-E, Powderburn, MuzzleFlash, Crime & Suspense, and Flashot. She writes in the free minutes she has as an alternative high school teacher.