Friday, March 16, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 18 - Shannan A. Gros

Nighttime Intruders

My eyes slowly opened as I starred into the night. I was awoken by someone whispering from inside the room. When I sat up I realized what was happening.

“Who the hell are you?” I demanded. Brandee began screaming on the bed next to me.

The man standing at the foot of the bed did not respond, he just stood there with his pistol pointed at my head. There were two other men in the room; they were holding Brandee down on the bed. All three of them were wearing masks to cover there faces.

“Shut up bitch, before I kill you.” The smaller of the two men said as he covered Brandee’s mouth with his hand.

“Get up”, the man with the gun ordered of me. His voice sounded vaguely familiar.

I stood up next to the bed and began walking toward the man. “Do you know who I am? I will find out who you are, you bet you asses I will. And when I do, I am personally—“

“Shut up, all you do is talk shit. Now come here!”

Standing several feet in front of the man with the gun it finally hit me, “Jacob Bourgeois? What the hell are you doing, you’re like a brother to me?”

Jacob took off his mask, “yea, I was.”

As I lunged at Jacob, I was struck from behind and fell to the ground.

When I grabbed the back of my head I felt the warm blood begin to ooze through my fingers. I laid there for a second wondering what just happened. When I turned over, Brandee was standing next to Jacob.

“What the hell happened” Brandee asked looking at Jacob.

“I told you he would recognize my voice. I said I would do it if he did not know it was me. When he said my name I froze.”

“Just give me the gun; we need to hurry up.”

Jacob handed her the gun, and kissed her on the lips. She turned and looked down at me, the moonlight glistened across the bruise under her right eye.

“You’ll never beat another woman again.” She whispered as she pulled the trigger.


Bio: Shannan has several flash pieces awaiting publication with Flashshots e-zine and DZ Allen’s Muzzle Flash. He has been recently published in the Nefarious – tales of mystery e-zine. Shannan also enjoys spending time with his family and teaching himself to play guitar.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 17 - E. A. Cook

Shep's tracks were seeping, causing his left forearm to stick to the sleeve of the Member's Only jacket that he just scored from the Catholic Charities clothing room. Carefully, he rolled both sleeves up to his elbows, and checked the damage.

"Infected. Shit.," he mumbled, as he made his way down Rush street, looking for a restroom to clean his wounds. He cursed himself for picking a "cool" jacket over a warm one. November nights in Chicago held nothing but bone chilling cold for drugstore cowboys like Shep.

"But damn, I look good," he said to nobody.

A neon beer sign caught his eye a few yards up the sidewalk. As he twitched closer to the door of the bar, a meth-induced tremor hit his heart hard. He stumbled side-ways, reaching for the cold brick wall for support.

Shep bent over to catch his breath as a casually dressed couple stepped out of the bar, laughing at a private joke. Standing up straight, leaning against the wall, Shep tried to look casual as the couple turned in his direction, and passed him with barely a glance. He didn't know the bar. It was a few bocks from his usual stomping grounds, but in his jacket, and matching denim shirt and pants from the thrift store, Shep felt confident that he would blend in as he stepped though the door of the dimly lit lounge.

The door slapped shut behind him. Hard. Startled, Shep turned towards the sound, and a vessel blew in his brain. Blinded, he fell to his knees. His heart whacked his ribs double-time, and he screamed, "I'm the King motherfuckers!".

Stunned, everyone in the bar froze. Hands over his heart, he pitched forward on his face, breaking his nose and three teeth. "I'm the King! Kiss my ring bitches!" The words bubbling from a mouth filled with blood. As the bartender raced around the counter towards him, Shep suddenly, violently, convulsed. The stroke caused a siezure that made his feet , head and arms tap out a staccato beat on the floor.

Five seconds later the meth took his breath.

BIO: I'm a Private Investigator from a different background than most, ( which is to say I spent three years behind the walls. Youthfull indiscretions you know. My peers consider me a brother from another mother. I've posted almost thirty non-fiction autobiographical blogs, that read like fiction, on myspace. My url is

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #16 - Clair Dickson

A Bo Fexler Short Story
by Clair Dickson

"He moved out eight months ago. I've hardly seen him since," my client, Deanna Terp explained, pausing to sip her coffee.

My name is Bo Fexler; I'm tall, pretty and have a speech impairment. In spite of all that, I work as a private eye. A quiet private eye. I let other people do the talking.

She continued, "He did well enough in school. He got the factory job as soon as he turned eighteen. He makes decent money. He's never been in trouble."

"As far are you know," I commented, like holding a flame under kindling to see how dry it was.

The kindling-- client-- smoldered, but didn't ignite. "Maybe, but really Wayne didn't usually go out. Not with women, not even with other guys. He can't get in much trouble at home."

"What did he do with his time?"

"Played video games. Probably too much, to be honest."

"What makes you think he's in trouble?"

"His phone's busy all the time. When I get through, he doesn't want to talk. He won't tell me what's going on. When I go over, he doesn’t have time."

"Did he leave anything here when he moved?"

"Yeah. I'll show you his room."

She stood in the doorway while I sorted through papers, old notebooks, and homework assignments. I found several pages that were potentially useful and pocketed them. Then, as it was nearing nine that night, I shook hands with my client and went home.

Or rather, went to work. With the information I got from Wayne's room, I came up with the name of an online multiplayer game. There was one character he had the most notes, illustrations and stats of. I called my friend Axel for some help, and he set me up to join the online world where I hoped to find Wayne.

I wandered around at first, then, I started asking for Lord Xeon-- the character Wayne had seemed most interested in on paper. I found that Lord Xeon often hunted in a particular area of this online world, and marched my character off after him.

As I went, I continued to ask questions about this Lord Xeon character. How long was he usually on? How high of a character was he? Did people like him?

When I got my PI license, I never would have expected to conduct interviews online via video game. But, it was extraordinarily successful. People were very familiar with Lord Xeon. He was a top level character that many noobs would go to for extra items, spells, and advice. He was kind to most, but willing to take out anyone who gave him any crap.

As I waited for my character to ride a boat across some ocean, I flipped through the case file I was building. I stopped to linger on a photo of the short, pimple-faced, fat kid with glasses standing with his mother.

He logged on usually at 5:30pm . Barely a half hour after his shift at the plant would end. He logged off between one and two in the morning; however, he was still there when my character walked into the hut where he hung out.

I brought up my text menu. "Wayne Terp?" I asked in a private chat.

"I require the name of my inquisitor," he typed back, his font large and red.

"Bo Fexler. Private investigator."

"What can I do for you?"

"Are you really Wayne Terp?"

"I am."

"Birth date?"

" January 23, 1973 ."

"Your mother's worried about you."


"Could I get some kind of proof that you're okay? For your mother."

"More, I presume, than just my word."



"What about your game log. Print it off for me. I'll pick it up tomorrow afternoon when you get home."


"What's the problem, Wayne ?"

"She won't understand. She doesn't think I should spend so much time on the computer. That's why I moved out."

"You have your own place. What can she do?"



"I never thought about that. I'll print it out for you."

"Thank you."

Logging off, I checked the clock. Three in the morning. The next-- or rather-- later that morning, I called Axel and made a less-than-ethical request. I needed him to hack into game and email me Wayne's chat log.

The email didn't arrive until after I'd gone to Wayne's for the game log he'd printed off. Wayne put in hours and hours on the game. The chat log told a different story. A story that included many deals between Lord Xeon and other players. Deals that exchanged in game items and spells for cybersex.

I used the 'find' function to search for other references and instances of cybersex. Only, I found that it didn't always remain on the internet. There were half a dozen accounts in that many months of times that Wayne had driven to some hotel over the weekend in exchange for real-live sex. Didn't matter if they were men or women. I took out my highlighter and started marking the chat log.

Then, I wrote up the report and prepared to deliver it to my client. She took it about as well as she would have taken a prostitute's solicitation. Or if I was telling her that her son was a prostitute.

"You have to be mistaken! Not my son."

I tapped the thick binder with my report and the chat log. "Believe what you want, ma'am."

"I'm not paying."

"Then, I'll see you in court."

"I'm sure you're wrong."


"He's-- he's not like that. He's a quiet boy. Shy."

"But online, he can be whatever he wants. No body can see what he looks like. In real life he doesn't have the super model body. He's just average. When he's this Lord Xeon character he plays, he's important. He has power. He can get sex. He's got vast fortunes of virtual money. He works to pay the bills. He plays this game to live."


BIO: Clair spends her time writin short stories for bitter PI, Bo Fexler, when she's not teaching. Which isn't a lot of time, unless she skimps on sleep. And she does. Readers can now follow Bo Fexler across the dark alleys of the internet at

Monday, March 5, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #15 - JP Anderson

Mr. Right Now

The stranger hunched over a bowl of chili, watching the waitress who caught his eye when he walked in to the roadside diner. A bit of chili stuck to his lower lip and he quickly wiped it away. He worried that she might notice, but amidst the flannel-clad truckers, bearded transients, and other pinheads frequenting this shit stain, she would hardly notice a bit of chili on a stranger’s lip.

He studied her as she worked. She seemed to be on autopilot. She must have spent years walking the same dirty linoleum course. She shuffled from the cigarette stained bar to each torn red vinyl booth seat, then back. Hell, she could probably recite the whole menu from memory by now. But something in her eyes told him she did not belong here. Something told him that she was just surviving a job that barely paid her rent. She was waiting for Mr. Right to walk through the door, take her by the hand, and lead her off to a better place, just like in the movies. She had given up on her dream because Mr. Right never did walk through those dirty glass doors.

His stomach knotted at the idea and he gave up on his chili. Not today, he thought. Today, he will be her Mr. Right. He pushed the bowl away and stood up. The stranger pulled a black .45 from inside his coat, and racked the slide.

“Alright you motherfuckers, nobody move!” he yelled. Nobody moved. “This here is what we call ‘armed robbery.’ Everyone reach slowly for your wallets and just lay your cash on the tables.”

He remained by his stool and watched everyone laying out their cash. One particularly large trucker was moving more slowly than the others. Instead of a wallet, he produced a large revolver. Before he could get it leveled, the window behind him exploded in a shower of tinted glass.

“You can just put that piece down along with your cash, trucker. I’ll be taking that, too.” The trucker complied, laying the pistol on the table with a shaky hand and reaching for his wallet with the other. He looked like he might cry.

“Anyone else feeling stupid? I guarantee you, my dog barks louder than yours, ” he waited for a response, “that’s what I thought.”

He walked a circuit from the bar to each table, placing the money in his jacket pocket. He put the revolver in the back of his pants, and stopped at the cash register. A thin greasy-haired man in a shirt and tie stood motionless behind it. His hands were in the air and his mouth was slightly open. His nametag read, “Wade – Shift Manager.”

“Open...the fucking...register...Wade, ” he said, leaning in and almost fogging up the manager’s black-rimmed glasses. He felt like he was talking to a child.

Wade fumbled with it, his hands shaking, until finally the drawer opened with a satisfying ching! Wade stood back and put his hands back up.

“Wade, ” said the stranger, “will you please put the money on the counter? I really don’t want to have to shoot you in the face.” Wade nodded and began sliding the bills out of the drawer. “And don’t forget the fifties and hundreds under the drawer.”

As Wade continued stacking cash on the counter, the stranger turned his attention back to the waitress. Like everyone else, she had placed her cash on the counter and did not move. She was still holding a coffee pot and looking at the floor.

“You, ” he said to her as he swiped the untidy stack of bills from the counter. She looked at him tentatively, moving her eyes but keeping her head down. “You wanna spend the rest of your life holding a pot of coffee?”

She raised her head and looked around, first at the nameless rabble of regulars, then at Wade, then back at the stranger.

“Chance of a lifetime, ” he said, holding out his hand.

Her face went slack and she set the coffee pot on the counter. She didn’t say a word, just tossed her order book at Wade’s feet as she passed him.

She took the stranger's hand and they walked silently through the doors. He slammed the door of the 1972 Plymouth Barracuda and twisted the key in the ignition before she even got her seatbelt fastened.

“I may not be Mr. Right, ” he told her as the 426 Hemi thundered to life and he put it in gear, “But I’m Mr. Right Now.”

Bio: JP Anderson writes fiction and social commentary as an escape from his 6' by 6' modular prison cell. He has been banned from 8 shopping malls, 16 churches, and two small European nations for being offensive, immoral, and "posessing a rather offensive odour." Check out his myspace at