Scrapple

by Warren Benedetto

 

“I’ll have the scrapple,” I said.

The waitress glanced at the fist-sized bruise on my arm, then at Mike. I nodded. She jotted on her pad.

“Coffee.” Mike thrust the menu at the waitress. “Black.”

The waitress disappeared into the kitchen. Through the swinging doors, I saw her hand my order to the cook. He read it, then looked out at me. Eye contact. A small nod.

“What’s even in scrapple?” Mike sneered.

“Pork bits,” I explained. “Lips, nips, and assholes.”

The cook emerged from the kitchen. He approached Mike from behind, meat cleaver in hand.

“Mostly assholes,” I added.

Warren Benedetto

Warren Benedetto writes short fiction about horrible people doing horrible things. He has a Master’s degree in Film/TV Writing from USC. He is also the developer of StayFocusd, the world’s most popular anti-procrastination app for writers. He built it while procrastinating. Visit www.warrenbenedetto.com or follow @warrenbenedetto on Twitter.

The Lay-By

by Liam Hogan

 

I don’t like to stop. The cab fulfils my needs, from somewhere to sleep, to food and drink: coffee and instant noodles, a travelling kettle serving for both.

But you can’t resist a call of nature forever.

No need for a truck stop or gas station, not when there’s woodland either side.

By day, the lay-by would be busy with dog walkers, in summer with hikers and family picnics. On a damp April night it’s utterly empty.

Not dark though; not with a full moon peeking between the clouds.

I unleash a howl even before my paws hit the ground.

Liam Hogan

Liam Hogan is an award winning short story writer, with stories in Best of British Science Fiction 2016 & 2019, and Best of British Fantasy 2018 (NewCon Press). He’s been published by Analog, Daily Science Fiction, and Flame Tree Press, among others. He helps host Liars’ League London, volunteers at the creative writing charity Ministry of Stories, and lives and avoids work in London. More details at happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk

Little Truck Stop on the Prairie

by Jameson Grey

 

Gunnars Diner [sic] reeked of rank meat—like the fridge was broken or the sous-chef hadn’t checked the expiry dates.

Sous-chef? Marilyn wondered. Did middle-of-nowhere greasy spoons even have them?

Her Freightliner was the only rig in the lot. Marilyn was beat, and hours from the next truck stop, but the smell convinced her groaning stomach it no longer wanted to eat.

“Coffee, please,” she said. “To go.”

The waitress smiled, yelling to the kitchen. “We got a lady trucker, Gunnar!”

Gunnar emerged, his apron stained blood-red.

His cleaver gleamed. Gunnar gleamed.

“Excellent, I ain’t cooked a lady in weeks.”

Jameson Grey

Jameson Grey is originally from England but now lives with his family in western Canada.  He also spent time in the Middle East as a child, which he understands makes him a third culture kid (TCK).  His story The Waiting Room was recently published in The Toilet Zone: Number Two.
jameson-grey.com

One More for the Road

by Blaise Langlois

 

Route 37 at night is a lonely stretch. My eyelids feel the weight of sleep, but the next exit promises 24-hour coffee.

The car lot, bathed in a sick, yellow light, is practically deserted. I order a coffee and venture round back to use the restroom, but a foul smell makes my eyes water, giving me second thoughts. Flies buzz, insistent, drawing my gaze to where a trailer stands, rear doors ajar. Something oily and slick in the moonlight, pools on the asphalt beneath. Heavy hands grasp my shoulders.

“Always room for one more,” a thick voice whispers from behind.

Blaise Langlois

Emerging author, Blaise Langlois, will never turn down the chance to tell a creepy story around the campfire. She has a penchant for horror, with published fiction and poetry through Eerie River Publishing, Pulp Factory E-zine, Ghost Orchid Press, Space and Time Magazine and Black Hare Press. Learn more at: www.ravenfictionca.wordpress.com

Glassman Had His Reasons

by C.L. Steele

 

Hunched over, his glass head slid across the ceiling tiles of her office. She cowered in the corner. She could see through his pristine cyan outline—a glass man. His protracted fingers extracted her with an ease that whispered experience. She trembled in the valley of his palm. He examined her with his laser-blue eyes, each pass a deepening CT Scan.

He whispered, “Globe.” Molten glass coagulated into a glass ball. Trembling, she found herself sealed inside the globe with sand and a towering willow tree. “Why?” she screamed as he tossed her into the Atlantic. “Because I must, dear.”

C.L. Steele

C.L. Steele is proud to be listed in the Who’s Who of Emerging Writers. She is an internationally published speculative-fiction author and enjoys creating worlds with complex characters and plots. C.L. holds numerous publishing credits including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and contributes to literary journals and Magazines. Follow her career at https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07S5YKBQM

Beware of the Talls

by John Lane

 

Born in a pan of green beef, seventy-five of us reached maturity in two to three days.

We laughed when Mom warned that “talls” wanted us dead. Our compound eyes and thin wings could evade them. Or so we thought.

The “talls” caught us while we rubbed our six legs on grooves of wood. They looked like their heads touched the white drywall sky.

Then… WHACK!

I watched the large flat plastic crush my brothers until mangled thoraxes littered the wood. Smell of pheromones lingered.

Only I survived.

I will never forget what the “talls” called their death weapon.

Flyswatter.

John Lane

John Lane’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Hare Press, Ghost Orchid Press, Rejected Manuscripts, Dark Dossier Magazine, Trembling with Fear, The Drabble and other venues.

John’s story, “Dimension Traveler,” tied for Rejected Manuscripts’ third most voted entry out of 130 stories in 2020.

Unclaimed and Quiet

by Miriam H. Harrison

 

They had warned us of giants, and so we watched for the swaying of trees, the sudden flight of birds. Yet all around us were silent forests and barren hills. From the highest of these summits we could see even more of this land, unclaimed and quiet.

“Have you ever seen a place so still?”

My captain snorted. “Better to face stillness than giants. Set the flag; we’ll make camp.”

The silence loomed large as I readied the flag. But as I pushed it into the ground and blood spurted up, the hill beneath us lurched and bellowed in rage.

Miriam H. Harrison

Miriam H. Harrison studies full time, works on the side, writes when she should be doing other things, and trains the dust bunnies to fend for themselves. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association, and you can look for any updates about her published works on Facebook: @miriam.h.harrison

Sacrifice

by Chris Bannor

 

They towered above us, blocking out the sun in their magnificence. We tried to fight, but how do you stop a creature so massive it engulfs your house with a single footstep?

The government made mechanical monstrosities to combat the invaders, but the damage grew worse. The aliens came to subjugate, not destroy, but in our fight for freedom, we destroyed ourselves far better than they.

Now it’s up to us. We have small teams ready with explosives. We have the will to survive.

But in a suicide mission to save the world, do we have the will to die?

Chris Bannor

Chris Bannor is a speculative fiction writer who lives in Southern California.  Chris learned her love of genre stories from her mother at an early age and has never veered far from that path.  You can chat with Chris on Facebook @chrisbannorauthor

Sleep Under the Stars

by Bernardo Villela

 

It was a marvellous night to sleep under the stars.

Soon, I awoke. The moonlight seemed wrong somehow. Rubbing sleep from my eyes, I saw massive branches asway. Not branches but antennae, leading to a gargantuan ovoid shadow blotting out the moon. I couldn’t be seeing what I thought I was seeing, could I? Moonlit mandibles confirmed my fears: It was a cockroach towering above the centuries-old oak I’d camped under.

I ran. The light changed. Glancing skyward, I saw an intrusion of flying cockroaches swooping down. I tripped, pain rose, I’d lost my foot. Maimed, they started feasting.

Bernardo Villela

Bernardo Villela has published a novella The Isle of Helyr, and three short story collections, The Bloodmaster Trilogy and Teenage Death Songs, Vols. 1 & 2; and has short fiction included in Coffin Bell Journal, The Dark Corner Zine, 101 Proof Horror, A Monster Told Me Bedtime Stories, Page & Spine and forthcoming in 42 Stories Anthology, Constraint 280 and Rivet. You can read more about these and various other pursuits at www.miller-villela.com

Intelligent Life

by N.E. Rule

 

Khiiki strokes the silky hair through the cage bars, pleading, “Dad, I can’t choose.”

“Darling, we can’t get both. They’re cute, but when they mature, they won’t like this handling.” Tsts nods at his spawn tickling the female’s belly. “This male will grow hair everywhere, it needs constant grooming.” What Tsts can’t mention is their mating; how it’s noisy and messy.

The male’s blue eyes peer up under long lashes. “Can it understand us?” She clicks.

“No,” Tsts clicks back. Then, he can’t resist extending his tentacle to pet the tiny human. He smiles as it curls into a ball.

N.E. Rule

N.E. Rule attended Ryerson University in Toronto for creative writing and business communications. Her corporate writing portfolio includes software specs, marketing copy, and training materials. However, her passion is creative writing. The characters in her head refuse to wait for her to find spare-time to come out and play.