March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results


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Post March 11, 2018, 12:16:12 PM

March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

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Portal To Hell - A Fantasy/Horror Story Contest - The Voting


General Thoughts:

This was a challenging premise that took thought and effort and I am proud of the writers who braved through the writing process to enter a story.

This segment of the contest is important first for the voters and commenters. Having opinions of other author's works is one thing, but to be able to communicate with thoughtful responses requires mental labor which develops skills of a person's writing and public discourse.

For the participating writers in this contest the voting is beneficial for the author while the comments are more about the stories themselves.

We need to help each other in this part of the site's services to writers who are perfecting their skills and writing interests.


Timeline:

Voting and commenting for The Portal To Hell contest begins now and will continue through Saturday March 17, 2018.


Commenting:

If you have something unfavorable to say about a story, make it constructive so the author can benefit from your viewpoint and insight.

Never say anything negative about the authors themselves.

Praise and encourage the authors with any element that is worthy of it. Let them know they did good. You would want it.


To Vote:

Send me a pm (private message) by clicking on my name on this post and then click the words private message on the following screen. Type in the name of the story you liked the best and click submit.


The Portal To Hell contest - voting and commenting begins...now.

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The titles of the 7 stories in this flash contest.

Jolene Wilkerson - Ivan and Zander
Jim Statton - The Really Evil Side of Satan
Sergio Palumbo - Voices from Hell, again...
Twilight Zee - Devil's Food
Robin B Lipinski - Thin Line
Megawatts - Ya’ll See the World Young Man
TaoPhoenix - Tiger, Tiger
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Ivan and Zander
by Jolene Wilkerson


A crowd gathered at the 20th Century History Museum. "During this turbulent time period," the tour guide said, "Children often went missing with no explanation or effective measure for recovering them." She pointed to a printed page, yellowed, tattered and mounted to the wall behind glass. "This is an actual document from the late 1900's. It is an account of a child who was lost in an area not too far from here.

The word "Missing" was printed in large bold type at the top of the page. Below was a picture of Ivan in an old t-shirt and an innocent smile. His name was listed as Ivan Labron James, Negro, 5 years old, last seen Capitol City.

The tour guide continued, "During this time, documents like this one could be found at local supermarkets, where the people bought food. However, they were so prevalent, most of these children were never found."

A young girl, Thalia, hung back as the crowd moved on. She looked hard at the picture of the little boy on the poster.


###


On the day that Ivan went missing, he walked home from school with his best friend Zander. They did everything together, in fact, they were practically inseparable. Zander was everything that Ivan wanted to be. Always so smart and care free it seemed nothing ever got to him. They played together for hours. Zander kept him company when he was bored and made him laugh by always pointing out funny things as he poked fun at everyone and everything. But Ivan usually chuckled very quietly because no one could see Zander but him.

But on that day, Ivan did not feel like playing. Ivan felt lonely and very worried. He was wearing a giant white envelope that his teacher pinned to his t-shirt with an oversized safety pin for him to give his grandmother. It stuck out like a sore thumb. He wanted to tear it up or accidentally loose it like Zander suggested. But Ivan walked slowly toward the housing projects just two blocks from his school. It felt like a badge of dishonor as he approached the house, where he stayed with his brother, grandmother and grandpa John.

Grandpa John was fixing himself a beer from the fridge when Ivan walked in with the note.

"Boy, I don't know what I'm going to do with you," he said reading the note and shaking his head.

"Teacher made me stand in the corner," exclaimed Ivan, whose heart was pounding. "It wasn't my fault."

"Says here you were disrupting class, again. You were laughing at the new teaching assistant."

"No, no, she had a big hairy mole on her face and Zander thought it was funny," Ivan said protesting.

"Uh huh, Zander did? Well sez here you've been distracted, not paying attention and talking to yourself. And she wants to see your grandmomma, which means she gots to get off work, again. Acting like a damn fool in class and the other kids, they be laughing at you talking to yourself, boy? No sir ree."

Ivan's heart was pounding so loud he felt it could be heard in the next room and his eyes were becoming fogged up as he held back the tears.

"We ain't gonna have this no more in my house. It has been Zander this and Zander that. He ain't real.... ya here? He is just pretend. Now, it was fine when you were little, but you're a big boy now. You can go next door and play with your ole friend, Clyde. But you aint gonna have nothing to do with Zander."

Ivan ran toward the door with tears streaming down his face.

"Now you be back in time for supper," Grandpa John yelled. "Or your grandmomma will kick my butt."

Ivan ran out the door and down the street crying. He could not imagine going a single day without his companion. The camaraderie they shared was like delicious candy to his mind, that always left him wanting more.

He ran past the corner market where the big kids were hanging out and smoking. They made fun of Ivan who was crying and flapping his arms as he ran. The world seemed so cold with no one to comfort him. He felt lost and devastated.

He ran past the school yard toward the concrete drainage ditch and into the long tunnel. He could hear street sounds of the harsh world above him as he kept running. He felt Zander telling him that they just don't understand him; they don't care. Then out of nowhere, he felt a presence with him that looked like Zander. But in the dark, he could not tell. The creature looked older than Zander and seemed to have an elongated face and horns protruding through his hair.

All of a sudden the tunnel came to an abrupt end and Ivan stood there with the creature on the edge of a huge cliff with jagged rocks below and water that steamed and leapt like fire.

The creature had a decrepit form and a rotten stench with a hideous, filthy grin. Ivan dried his tears and looked deep into the creature's eyes and asked, "Who are you?"

But the creature only smiled and put his long, claw like finger on the center of little Ivan's back and with a little push, down he went.

As Ivan fell, the creature answered, "I am whomever you want me to be."


###


The creature lurked through the halls of the history museum, unseen by the tour guide and the crowd that was gathered there. He raged despising everyone and everything he saw. He focused his attention on the young girl, Thalia, stood looking at the old photo. She wondered what had happened to the young boy so long ago. Cunningly, the creature slowly began whispering in her ear.

He remembered exactly what happened to little Ivan.

The End
___________________


The Really Evil Side of Satan
by Jim Statton


"You are so big and strong, let me see you without your shirt on, baby." The Bosom Latino babe ran her fingers across Paulie's hairy chest...his big, obese, disgusting sweaty chest. "I love your manly physique," her over flowing endowments accentuated his roving eyes.

She paused in admiration. "You are really hot!" Not an accurate observation, but what does a fantasy gal know. She does what she is told.

Step out of the inside of this fantasy and you'll see a fat man sprawled out in his easy chair, food stains on his T-shirt and drool slithering down his chin.

The TV set is on a sports channel, volume low. The living room is decorated with dingy furniture and carpet that has seen it’s better days forty years earlier. The walls looked faded. The house needed work…some day…one day when.

However, he was important in his dreams or more accurately, his fantasies. These imagined affairs had been going on for decades. He had a perfectly good wife. But a life haunted by his "fear of trying" sold himself to demon fantasy impersonators that performed every day in his thoughts.

Every man wanted to be mothered - adored, but most wanted to receive rather than give. Selfishness is the path to perdition.

And tonight was his night.

You can blame it on the cholesterol overdosing or his guzzling beer drinking or the popping of Valiums whenever he felt like it, but his vain imaginations sentenced his fate.

Without notice, his heart began to fibrillate wildly.

His blocked arteries were restricting blood flow, choking his heart and causing it to stop.

He gasps and sits up in his chair clutching his chest, eyes wide and full of fear.

The bosomy fantasy Latino babe morphed into a hideous fanged creature, a lower level demon who was assigned to tempt depressed people with an easily attained, more satisfying imaginary life. A swarm of demon creatures began latching their claws into Paulie's soul, pulling him into a temporary open portal into an aflame abyss.

The horror was happening too quick for him to respond. His childhood flashed before his eyes. He saw himself dating, studying, working and growing from a handsome teen into a fat, self consuming waste of life.

The screams he heard were his own. Flames licked his new body purposed for torment. Hideous creatures gnashed upon his legs. The pain was unbearable and yet the afflicted left no damage to his new body.

Everything happened in a instant of time. Paulie began to worry about Diedre his wife living without him. How could she make it? She's so depended on him emotionally. He was her rock.

He thought these things as he screamed in pain.

***

Late that night, the lock began to rustle as Deidre inserted the key. The room was dark. She saw Paulie's silhouette in the chair as always.

She turned on the light without looking at him and said, "I'm home." She didn't hear a reply. He never replied. For a long time, he only spoke to her when he needed something.

After taking a quick shower, Deidre began looking in the fridge figuring out what she could make for dinner.

"What do you want? Tell me. I don't want you yelling at me caused I fixed you the wrong thing." There was no sound.

She walked into the living room doorway. "Paulie?" No reply.

Walking over to the chair, she noticed her husband's face was a pale powder blue. She put her hand to his forehead. It was cold to the touch. She placed her fingers on the underside of his wrist. No pulse.

She looked at him and sighed.

Pulling out her cell phone she made a call. "Thad, I need you to come over right now. Paulie is dead. I don't know how, maybe he choked or something. I'm not ready to call 911 yet. Okay, I'll wait." She sat down on the couch and stared at him.

Twenty minutes later there was a knock at the door. She walked over and unlocked it. A tall chap who stood about six feet, lanky in posture, brown hair, brown eyes, nothing special to look at stood in the doorway. She took him by the arm, and guided him to the chair. They both looked down at Paulie, his arms draped over the sides as he slumped downward.

"Wow," he said as he began to look at Deidre. "What do you want to do now?"

About a minute past in melancholy remembrance, smiles began to appear on Deidre and Thad's face. They looked into each other’s eyes, she brushing the hair back from his forehead and he kissing her on the cheek.

She placed her hand on his chest and said with some remorse, "We shouldn't."

Then, she ripped his shirt open - buttons flew everywhere. He grabbed her shoulders and washed her face with his saliva. He never got the French kissing thing down. His tongue knew no boundaries.

"More...more," she cried as he kissed her neck hard, biting her ever so slightly. Clumsily she tried to get her pants off, but lost her balance and fell backward onto her dead husband’s lap, accidentally pulling Thad on top of her.

With her face just inches from Paulie’s ear, she whispered to him softly, "Well Paulie, you finally did something for me."

The End
_____________________


Voices from Hell, again...
by Sergio Palumbo


It was a dark, rainy afternoon, and Calunoth sat in the corner of his apartment, the one with the large window that, from the top of the skyscraper, overlooked the town that was wrapped in the ocean mist. It had been over two months since the weather had taken a turn for the worse, which was unprecedented for this area. Also power shortage had occurred several times. Even if the 30-year-old man enjoyed viewing the scenery outside, he had also become a bit afraid of that dim corner. His fears were due to the strange voices he had heard twice before right in that spot.

As he was tidying his long dark hair, he kept thinking that, sadly, it appeared that today would end without one ray of sunshine breaking through the thick mist.

Then, all in a sudden, the voices sounded and he heard them clearly.

“You must go through it all…come to your world! We can buy you some time more…”

It was exactly the same as the two previous times. The man gave a start, becoming fearful. What the hell were those voices? What were they trying to tell him?

Calunoth stood up at once and moved away from the corner. He had heard legends about people who had heard such strange voices and then disappeared forever…no one ever seeing them again.

The demons of the afterlife. This was what some people called them. He had never believed in such things, but he had started changing his mind since he had begun hearing those unknown voices.

Today those unearthly words came to him with a stronger appeal, in a more powerful tone. Which made him feel ill at ease…

“We can show you that what we say is true. We have the strength to tear down the barrier…to open a portal to us. We can bring you here…to the place you should be in!”

At that point, the walls themselves began to disappear, becoming almost invisible, as if they had never really been there.

Then the voices gained more strength.

“Here we are…now you can reach us…and everything will start again!”

“No, what do you mean? Go away! Leave me alone!” Calunoth cried out, but his request was of no use.

A brilliance burst out, and another confused scene appeared before the man’s blue eyes a moment later. He found his body lying on a straw mattress with his arms aching. One moment was all it took! His build was different; his arms didn’t look as he remembered them. There were strange wounds and pustules on his skin, and he felt sick.

“What happened…? Where am I?” he asked the two individuals he saw beside him wearing white coats. Strange to say, they too had pustules on their faces…

“You came back, you have returned to your real world!” the tallest of the two said.

“What are you…talking…about…?” Calunoth uttered, his voice fading.

“We know it’s difficult at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it…” added one of the figures.

“What…?”

“You know, having been in that virtual reality for about two hundred years leaves a person confused and a bit dejected. But now you’re alive again. Not only in your mind! You have a body again. That is why you feel strange at the moment," the attendant said.

“What…why…?” Calunoth didn’t seem to be capable of easily speaking.

“The virtual world you were in was collapsing. We had to get you out of there, the same as we have done with many and many others. But millions are still living that virtual life and we will try our best to bring them all back here.”

“Why here…? What is this place?”

“This is Earth, the place where you were born centuries ago, the world everyone was born into. Since the Great Disaster hit our planet and destroyed the seas and farms, the air outside of this sealed dome has been almost unbreathable. Many decided to have their mind downloaded into a virtual world so they could keep living, in a way. If you remember, our civilization was disappearing and we hadn’t gotten yet, in history, to the technology needed to travel to other worlds or moons, so our options were limited. Scientists had the means to build a virtual world and make it run for centuries, saving most minds, but our real world was almost lost…”

“What…why?” he repeated in a feeble tone.

“The reality is that Earth didn’t improve much after that, but our researchers found one day that the technology behind that virtual world was collapsing. We were able, however, to eventually clone new bodies from your previous cells, to give you all a real brain to come back to. Leaving behind that virtual reality might be bewildering at first, but it couldn’t be helped…”

“It couldn’t be helped?” the man uttered.

“Yes, if you had stayed there, that fictitious world would have been destroyed along with you all…”

“And here…Can I live here safely now?” Calunoth wondered aloud.

“Well, actually…you see…our Earth is doomed. In a matter of one or two years everything will be over, and our civilization will be gone forever. But we bought you some more time by bringing you back here! You are alive now, and you will for a few months more. Your body is not in good condition, just like ours, because of the consequences of the Great Disaster that still affects our tissues. But, maybe, if everyone works together in the real world, once more and more people come out from that virtual reality, we can talk to each other properly and think something up to prolong our life for a longer period!”

As the man heard that, and recognized the accent was the same of those voices he had heard in his apartment - okay, his fictitious virtual flat… - he felt deeply dejected. Damn’ you, he thought. Your voices just brought me into this Hell ! Again

The End
___________________


Devil's Food
by Twilight Zee


Benton Estates was a beautiful community, boasting some of the most lavish homes in the area. Doctors, lawyers and even several movie stars had taken up residence there. It's newest addition was a man by the name of Feldon Steele. It was said that Feldon had moved there from somewhere outside the state, but no one knew for sure, this information only coming from the real estate company who handled the purchase of his house.

As with most people, Feldon had slated a number of services and repairs to take place over the weeks prior to moving in, which was not uncommon. However, this time there was something different. Tools or items particular to each service or trade began turning up on his doorstep, but no one attached to them.

"Wow! What a place. Me and Alice would sure have a good time livin' in a place like this!" said Joe Sims, the milkman for that route. "Wouldn't be something not having to deal with the uproar that goes on in the place we live in now."

As Joe began to fantasize more about living there, he was startle by a voice behind him. "Good morning! My name is Feldon Steele, I'm the new owner. If you just leave you bottles here for a moment, I'll show you where you can drop them off this week."

Though his host was quite cordial on the outside, the feeling he got was one of fear and dread. Couldn't put a finger on it. Didn't make sense. ‘Nah,’ he said to himself. ‘Must have been a guilty conscience for standing around daydreaming.’

As they stepped through a side door around the corner of the main entrance, Joe followed Feldon into the most beautiful lavish kitchen he had ever seen with the dining area being off to the side. High ceiling with golden oak beams and the longest mahogany dinner table imaginable. It must have seated 20 people. He thought to himself, ‘Wow! The parties you could have in this place!’

"I’m afraid I didn't catch your name?" Feldon said. "Names Joe. I'll be your milkman on this route. Anything you need, I got. What can I do for you today.”

"Well Joe, I have no particular needs. I'm not in permanent residence yet, but I'd like to make future plans with you. I need to step out of the room for a moment and make a call. Would you care for a piece of cake and coffee while you wait? It's a special recipe that I baked myself, a sinfully delicious devil's food cake."

"Why thank you Mr. Steele. Don't mind if I do!"

As his host served up the cake and coffee, Joe once again began fantasizing about the rich, decadent life style he could lead if he lived in a place like this. He was so deep in thought, he hadn't notice that Steele disappeared.

"Boy, I could get use to this!" he said as he greedily wolfed down the cake and slurped the coffee from the fine bone china cup and saucer.

"I could live here forever!"

As the last fateful word spilled from his lips, Joe was brought back to reality by a loud crackly sound and intense heat. "What the...!!!???"

To his horror, Joe looked around him and saw that the lavish surroundings he had just been in moments before had disappeared. They had been replaced with dark, shadowy images and figures spilling over one another in one unending tortured mass. Screams of agony and wailing could be heard coming from every point around him in an unending maddening chorus.

With a start, Joe saw the face of a figure who resembled Feldon Steele. But now he was bathed in a red and black haze that caused Joe to shudder to the very core of his soul.

"Well Joe, I see you made up your mind. No more decisions. No more debate. No more early mornings, no more dogs biting at your heels. You're finally home. And yes, Joe. You WILL live here forever!"

The End
___________________


Thin Line
by Robin B. Lipinski


Molten magma stirred up for those so inclined to picture hot; extremely hot plasma stirring in a world where there was no gravity, no up, no down.

In this world of hellish heat, a heat to profound, so intense, no words could even come close to what it could do to flesh… Unless?

“YiiYiiYii, Eeee…” Screams of torment competed with the wavering wisps of ever-changing lava.

Peering closer, there was a red colored creature, a creature with long horns. It’s feet were cloven and it swung a pointed tail as it danced there in the clouds of sharp; razor sharp senses of that goddamned heat.

“YiiYiiYii, Eeee…” Screams of the demon continued non-stop, almost as if the creature was possessed.

*
Creatures of earth knew full well the power of possession; power over the horned devil beasts so commonly called, demons.

In that deep pit of screams, the kingdom of the dancing demons, the one demon you’ve heard scream, saw a clear picture of a man, a human man. This man was naked as he wall tall.

In it’s vision, the demon saw the hand of the man extend it’s arm toward its. With a flash of bright white light, the demon was yanked into another dimension.

In this new dimension, it was chilly. No, it was more than chilly, it was cold as the white frozen snow flakes fell and sizzled upon the demons flesh.

“Nooo! Nooo! Make it stop! Please! No more!

The demon’s screams had turned into the language of this new dimension, this new hell. In this dimension there was snow, ice, cold, and the custodians of this place were called humans. Humans: Demons and controllers of the true Hell.

For in the previous world of the demon, it was not hell at all. It was a warm comfortable place to live. The demon would have lived a very comfortable life and when it died it would have gone to heaven. A heaven so hot, so filled with sharp senses so intense, it could only be nirvana.

But the demon was seduced by the Demons from Hell as they had tempted him with the frozen fruit, the day hell froze over. Thus, as a result his lust for the passions of ice were claimed as it died of a heart attack while in the midst of sin.

For the rest of eternity, this demon would be tormented by the Demons of Earth. It would be made to work as a clown for charity and clean up after the Earth’s masters, the dogs who had conquered and tamed this Hell.

Above the screams of the demon, there sounded the voice of triumph as the Dog barked loudly.

The End
___________________


Ya’ll See the World Young Man
by Megawatts


How did I get here? Well the answer to that question is an easy one: I wanted to see things, yes far away places, foreign countries like Italy, Greece, Japan and walk down the champ de Mars in Paris and look up at the Eiffel Tower, and walk the great wall of China.

You see, it all started one day when I was passing the recruiter’s office for the navy. I thought it strange that the office was in a run-down section of town, in an old-drab red brick building, bums drinking wine in the alley at the back, and drug dealers walking around with the enthusiasm of used car salesmen up and down the street undeterred by the police. Oh, what the heck. Maybe it was a good place to recruit? Who knows, I thought. I told my sister to get an apartment in a better section of town, but she said the rents in other areas were too high.

I just graduated from high school, and Kayla, my sister, asked me to come live with her for a while before I started college in the fall. She already had a summer job for me with the city. She said the big city life would be good for me, since we both came from the farm community of rural Pennsylvania. Believe me, the first time I saw Pittsburgh I couldn’t believe the things to do. We only lived seventy-five miles from it, but this was the first time there. I wanted everything. To see everything and go everywhere and after finding my sister’s apartment that was in a building much better that I would have thought in this section of town, I told her about the recruiting office down the street.

“It wasn’t there last week,” Kayla said. “Are you sure?”

“It’s there now,” I answered.

“Uncle Sammy spent twenty-five years in the navy. He loved it.” Kayla said. “You should join. That’s it. I know you want to see the world. You always talked about traveling to Europe and Asia and places like that! If you join the navy, then you can . . . and they paid you to do it. Instead of going to college now, the navy will paid for it after you get out. I think it’s called the G.I. bill. Dave, the navy isn’t dangerous. They don’t carry guns and things like that.”

That made sense. I decided to look into the navy that night

The next day I entered the recruiter’s office and the first thing I notice were all the pictures of battleships and aircraft carriers on the wall. One ship had me baffle for it was a Russian destroyer. I knew that for I seen that same picture in a magazine back home not too long ago. It was Russian.

“Well, want to see the world,” Chief Carlson said. He was the recruiter.
“Yes,” I answered. “Why do you have a Russian destroyer on the wall?’

“Oh . . . you know----I like all warships . . . it’s a nice one don’t you think,” Chief Carlson said.

“Anyway, look at all the exotic places you will visit. How about a night in Italy? Italian girls are the best, unless you like Asians. Stops in Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam---- you name it. I’ve been almost everywhere and boy the places I seen. The fun! Need I say more?” Chief Carlson said.

He brought out brochures and one of the first things I noticed were that they weren’t really navy written. Strange I thought like the Russian Destroyer, but—well maybe some cost saying plan on paper or something.

“The food in the navy is the best and the living condition on board out aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers rival cruse ships today. And the pay----remember your room and board and meals are free!” Chief Carlson said.

He was right. The pay was great considering no rent and free meals.

A couple of other guys came in and looked around. Chief Carlson gave them the old ‘nothing beats the navy routine’ as I looked over the literature in front of me. The Polynesian girls looked beautiful in one picture as they flirted with some sailors on an dock. Boy did they look happy!

After few minute more of looking, I decided to join.

I joined that night. However, I asked Chief Carlson about a physical and he said that not to worry. I’ll get one before basic but he felt sure that I would make it. I wondered about that but decided that with the experience he could tell if someone was fit just by looking.

That night I told Kayla. She said I did the right thing. “Oh, well, I wanted you to help me paint this apartment, but I’m glad for you little brother. My brother the sailor.”

The next day I boarded a bus and before I knew it we were off. However, once when we entered a tunnel everything became a blur. Lights spun around, eerie laughter filled the air, and the tunnel never ended! I blacked out.

When I woke up, I was in a cell with about ten other guys.

“Were are we?” I asked.

“Don’t ask,” one of the guys said.

“Hey, they got another sucker last night,” a voice sounded.

“You’ll see, you’ll see,” another voice uttered.

“Like to shovel coal?” another voice.


I heard foot steps and there stood Chief Carlson but he looked different. He wasn’t in a uniform, and he had horns on his head! He as talking with another demon and I could hear them plainly.

“Boy it’s so hard to get victims anymore,” he said to the other demon. “But the old ‘see the world my boy worked,’ next time I’ll try ‘oversea employment–great pay-- tax free . . . .”

The End
____________________


Tiger, Tiger
by TaoPhoenix


Mudra Murawanathan ambled more slowly than usual after his weekly appointment at his new Muscles and Tendons doctor. A couple of falls nearly wiped out his shoulders, and while they were better now, it was still out of the cards to think of most active sports for a long time, if not ever.

The streets were often lined with small shops on the off-streets once you got out of the expensive areas of the office areas of Manhattan. Mudra lived by himself in a disheveled spare room behind some Spanish speaking restaurant-deli a few blocks from his doctor's office. The area remained vibrantly influenced by the Indian section of the population centered at the next train stop on the "7 Line International Express", but up near his doctor's office, the next set of influences held sway.

Glancing up, he noticed for the second time a shop with an ethnic sign indicating something along the lines of "artifacts religioso". It was simply a shop, but the curved street pattern had confused him and he only located it this time because he had stopped for a chicken sub on the way home.

A laminated Santa Marta Dominadora image of a woman shamanically wielding a snake caught his eye, so he bought one for a dollar. Then came the real mystery. The proprietress looked up and smiled.

"Hello, Senor. What can I get for you?"
Mudra shuffled a bit on his feet. "These playing cards, they say on the box they are something about fortune telling."

The shop owner fidgeted but replied. "Yes, but I was careless, they should have been in the Advanced section behind the counter. I was showing them earlier and neglected to put them away. But there they are. They are quite expensive: The pack looks like regular playing cards, But see, the royal cards are very special. And they are very dangerous. The price for the cards is Seventy Eight dollars, however, it includes a free two hour lesson how to use them."

Well, this was a surprise! "What does all that mean! And seventy eight dollars! Aren't they just plastic or something?"

"Well, in the box, yes. You know, how people, they go to those mind doctors? The ones they have in that book from the government?"

"Psychologists? Maybe Psychiatrists?"

"The ones who speak, not the ones with medicine. Which one is that?"

"The psychologists."

"Yes. So we have to do it our way, over on our block. The people do not trust them. They trust only the old ways."

"Okay, so what is this?" Mudra knew a bit of new age topics from his college days. The systems could get quite elaborate and there were certainly levels of skill involved. Not all of it was pure 'quackery', as it was often derided. Some of the Old Ways had power...

"Well, I will agree this one was done with a new artist, but he produced it under the training of an Old Master. Look, for free, here is the first principle. You can do it to any deck of playing cards. Free of Charge. Pull out the twelve face cards out of a special use deck. The King of Hearts is often called a "Pain King". Of course do not take that literally, but a very simple version of the system is that every twelve days, drawing one card per day, you will get the Pain King. To the limit of your schedule, attempt to have a good breakfast, then force yourself to do painful necessary things in your life."

"But Donya, what if I have a good life?"

"Then you must become a Brujo for a day and create pain to someone else!"

"Why would I do that?"

"Try it. Here is my card. Come back on the day after you have lived the Pain King, and the advanced deck will be only seventy dollars. But only on that day. Then it goes back to regular price."

"How will you know?" Mudra asked.

"I will see it in your face!"

...

Mudra walked back into the shop eight days later. His cousin was being more of an asshole all month anyway. So Mudra spiked his McDonald's milkshake with knockoff street Ritalin and sent him to an underground poker game. Vik won $300 but then got kicked off parole and had to serve the rest of his five month misdemeanor sentence. His cousin had given him the $70 to get the secret deck to "fix things" with.

"Okay, I will take that pack of cards now."

"Yes Senor. First, see how happy the King of Hearts is? Go take that to your cousin, have him give it to the parole officer, and his parole will be back."

"How do you know about that?"

The shop owner smiled a soul slicing smile. "See? The Jack of Clubs. The young man is in shock. When you get the news that your cousin's parole is reinstated, the officer will rip up the Happiness King and you will rip up the Jack of Shock. One event down. The pack of cards covers six events, one will be used up. You have five left."

The lesson was quite long, and quite complex. Mudra left, to begin his new life.

...

When he had left, the shop owner made a phone call. "Hello, Officer Lanta? This is Dinya from 103rd street. You will find a picture of a man on your phone shortly. He will likely be committing several crimes. He is not to be touched for five months, then you can investigate him as you like. My shop is closed now. The Tiger has been caught by the tail."

The End
____________________

This completes the story listing
Last edited by Jim Statton on March 18, 2018, 11:26:37 AM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post March 11, 2018, 06:18:59 PM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

We're off to a good start. 2 votes are in.

Let's get the party atmosphere going. Anyone want to discuss their stories (how they acquired their concepts or interesting writing nuances) or even writing topics in general?

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Post March 12, 2018, 12:34:26 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

two stories by two authors piqued my interest. found enjoyment of reading in both and since I know of no rules allowing a tie I voted equally for both.

fun contest and a great writing exercise.

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Post March 12, 2018, 12:40:12 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

Jim Statton wrote:We're off to a good start. 2 votes are in.

Let's get the party atmosphere going. Anyone want to discuss their stories (how they acquired their concepts or interesting writing nuances) or even writing topics in general?


I haven't done one of these in ages, and possibly 1-2 "leaders ago"!

So I think I noticed way at the end it's a single story vote, without a breakdown of components. I do remember some difficulties about the precision of those back when...

So lemme think a min, something else...

And it's "Open Names", so that's interesting too. Can a couple of people catch me up on the history of the change from "guess-voting!"?

Wasn't it that way for something like a decade?

That had a certain mystique to it to be sure, but I think it was creaking at the seams by the end!? We had at least two scenarios that I knew of, "X writes so distinctively it's This Story", "Hide Your True Voice for the Voting" is one I know I walked into!

And I think I also brought up "Blind Voting" killed WorldBuiding because you couldn't work on a single good idea because it was toast, never to be seen again.

So theoretically now the Flash entries could be chances to work on "components" possibly even of full 'Zine stories!

Jim, you and I talked a bit about speed of writing etc. One thing that "def" (definitely) messed me up is I often go for high concept, or at least Medium, and so I hate/hated having to smash out a story with the types of research I do (also coupled with Blind Voting!)

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Post March 12, 2018, 04:47:01 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

Lipinski wrote:two stories by two authors piqued my interest. found enjoyment of reading in both and since I know of no rules allowing a tie I voted equally for both.

fun contest and a great writing exercise.

There are no rules about stories tying. But, I don't emphasize ranking in the results, rather I just list the stories and the total vote tally beside each writer's stories.

How a story would rank here, might rank differently somewhere else. A writer must not hold too much importance on the perception of the public on their style and direction of their writing.

Here, just listen, learn and have fun.

As far as voting goes, a voter can cast only one vote for each contest. That point is emphasized in the section under, "To Vote". The word story is singular.


"To Vote:

...Type in the name of the story you liked the best and click submit...."


I'm glad you enjoy reading and writing.

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Post March 12, 2018, 05:13:08 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

TaoPhoenix wrote:And it's "Open Names", so that's interesting too. Can a couple of people catch me up on the history of the change from "guess-voting!"?

Wasn't it that way for something like a decade?

That had a certain mystique to it to be sure, but I think it was creaking at the seams by the end!? We had at least two scenarios that I knew of, "X writes so distinctively it's This Story", "Hide Your True Voice for the Voting" is one I know I walked into!

Nate set the template for the flash challenges which he created. He's done a lot of good for a lot of writers.

As for me, I just chose the elements I liked from the previous contests and implemented them. I enjoy simple and easy methods of doing things.

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Post March 12, 2018, 05:14:28 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

TaoPhoenix wrote:And I think I also brought up "Blind Voting" killed WorldBuiding because you couldn't work on a single good idea because it was toast, never to be seen again.

I'm not familiar with that term.

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Post March 12, 2018, 05:18:29 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

TaoPhoenix wrote:So theoretically now the Flash entries could be chances to work on "components" possibly even of full 'Zine stories!

Oh absolutely. These flash fiction contests are a great place for experimental writing.

I really want these contest to be a chance for writers to talk to one another about their own writing and writing topics in general. What a great place to learn and be encouraged.

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Post March 12, 2018, 09:29:15 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

Got my votes in. All of these stories were favorable to a flash fiction challenge, and I found it very difficult to choose a winner. I couldn't find anything to nitpick about with any of these stories.
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Post March 12, 2018, 12:55:08 PM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

Jim Statton wrote:
TaoPhoenix wrote:And I think I also brought up "Blind Voting" killed WorldBuiding because you couldn't work on a single good idea because it was toast, never to be seen again.

I'm not familiar with that term.


It means how before the authors per story were a "mystery to be revealed" at the end.

So it certainly had merits, but sometimes you could get on the wrong side of it.

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Post March 12, 2018, 09:24:53 PM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

TaoPhoenix wrote:
Jim Statton wrote:
TaoPhoenix wrote:And I think I also brought up "Blind Voting" killed WorldBuiding because you couldn't work on a single good idea because it was toast, never to be seen again.

I'm not familiar with that term.


It means how before the authors per story were a "mystery to be revealed" at the end.

So it certainly had merits, but sometimes you could get on the wrong side of it.

I've never heard of that before.

I think I prefer standalone stories, however I wouldn't care what previous original stories they were developed from.

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Post March 13, 2018, 12:47:06 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

My vote's in.

After having done a thorough read of all the stories I can't tell you how pleased I am to be a part of this writing experience. Though this is my first entry I count myself fortunate and look forward to participating in future contests.
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Post March 13, 2018, 03:47:13 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

My votes are in...eh,eh :D

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Post March 13, 2018, 02:15:36 PM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

Twilight Zee wrote:My vote's in.

After having done a thorough read of all the stories I can't tell you how pleased I am to be a part of this writing experience. Though this is my first entry I count myself fortunate and look forward to participating in future contests.


Me too!

Time Chance and Circumstance befell me lately, but I was never reliably quick on Challenges.

I think I picked the right one to join in with though, so a bit of fortune on the topic, I think I could see myself in other future years trying out psychological horror.

I also had some fortune with some props to work with. 40% of the story is real ... or is it 70%! ...

"I'll update you in five months!"

:shock:

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Post March 14, 2018, 10:05:17 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

4 days remaining to read some great stories and vote for your favorite. Give the writers value for their talent by reading, voting and commenting.

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Post March 16, 2018, 09:22:26 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Voting

2 full days remaining to read these hot off the keyboard stories and vote by sending me a pm with the title of your favorite story. Your votes and comments are the motivation for these talented writers to create for Aphelion.

Those who haven't read the stories and voted, please take the time to do so.

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Post March 18, 2018, 11:29:06 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

.

The Voting Results

There were 10 votes entered for this contest which included 6 by the contest writers and 4 members.


The votes received were as follows:

Jolene Wilkerson - Ivan and Zander - 1
Jim Statton - The Really Evil Side of Satan - 2
Sergio Palumbo - Voices from Hell, again... - 1
Twilight Zee - Devil's Food - 1
Robin B Lipinski - Thin Line - 1
Megawatts - Ya’ll See the World Young Man - 2
TaoPhoenix - Tiger, Tiger - 2


Thank you everyone for your time and talents. I hope you enjoyed and benefited from this contest.


The Commenting

There are many different styles of commenting.

There are those who seek to encourage the success that the writers accomplish in their writing like Megawatts and myself. We only mention things that we really did like so the writer has a baseline reference the next time they write.

There are others who are more instructors like Lester and Nate. This is beneficial also as a writing reference so writers will know what "not" to do in future stories.

And there are others who want to post opinions on how they feel which is also welcomed.

Remember, unfavorable type of comments should be instructive so the writers can learn and not become discouraged. And never speak anything negative about the writer themselves.

Let's comment and discuss.

.

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Post March 18, 2018, 11:33:04 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

.

Here are my comments for these stories.


Jolene Wilkerson - Ivan and Zander

This was a good story about a boy's imaginary friend who he is warned by his grandfather to stop imagining. The boy doesn't listen and finds his imaginary friend was a demonic presence that took him to hell.

Believable and satisfying.

________________

Jim Statton - The Really Evil Side of Satan

A man watches his life go by from a living room easy chair and finds fantasy an alternate reality.

I enjoyed writing this.

________________

Sergio Palumbo - Voices from Hell, again...

This writer has a seemingly unconstrained imagination.

A virtual life due to the planet's physical world being destroyed has the minds of it's residents contained in a virtual reality.

Wow!

_______________

Twilight Zee - Devil's Food

Tempting an average guy with wealth and then snatching him once he lays hold of it.

Great sinister host.

_______________

Robin B Lipinski - Thin Line

Swapping concepts of heaven and hell from the viewpoint of demons. This is a "Tales From the Crypt" story if I ever heard one.

A brilliant story and well executed.

_____________

Megawatts - Ya’ll See the World Young Man

Using a Navy recruitment installation as a demon come on to capture victims for a hellish holding tank. I didn't see that coming at the end of the story.

I enjoyed this.

_____________
TaoPhoenix - Tiger, Tiger

A shop selling religious artifacts becomes a gateway to hell. Stephen King would have been impressed with this story crafting.

I'd love to read a book version of this.

.

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Post March 18, 2018, 08:47:59 PM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

Good bunch of stories; I liked them all.
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:48:44 AM

Ivan and Zander by Jolene Wilkerson

A crowd gathered at the 20th Century History Museum. "During this turbulent time period," the tour guide said, "Children often went missing with no explanation or effective measure for recovering them." She pointed to a printed page, yellowed, tattered and mounted to the wall behind glass. "This is an actual document from the late 1900's. It is an account of a child who was lost in an area not too far from here.

The word "Missing" was printed in large bold type at the top of the page. Below was a picture of Ivan in an old t-shirt and an innocent smile. His name was listed as Ivan Labron James, Negro, 5 years old, last seen Capitol City.

The tour guide continued, "During this time, documents like this one could be found at local supermarkets, where the people bought food. However, they were so prevalent, most of these children were never found."

A young girl, Thalia, hung back as the crowd moved on. She looked hard at the picture of the little boy on the poster.


###


On the day that Ivan went missing, he walked home from school with his best friend Zander. They did everything together, in fact, they were practically inseparable. Zander was everything that Ivan wanted to be. Always so smart and care free it seemed nothing ever got to him. They played together for hours. Zander kept him company when he was bored and made him laugh by always pointing out funny things as he poked fun at everyone and everything. But Ivan usually chuckled very quietly because no one could see Zander but him.

But on that day, Ivan did not feel like playing. Ivan felt lonely and very worried. He was wearing a giant white envelope that his teacher pinned to his t-shirt with an oversized safety pin for him to give his grandmother. It stuck out like a sore thumb. He wanted to tear it up or accidentally loose it like Zander suggested. But Ivan walked slowly toward the housing projects just two blocks from his school. It felt like a badge of dishonor as he approached the house, where he stayed with his brother, grandmother and grandpa John.

Grandpa John was fixing himself a beer from the fridge when Ivan walked in with the note.

"Boy, I don't know what I'm going to do with you," he said reading the note and shaking his head.

"Teacher made me stand in the corner," exclaimed Ivan, whose heart was pounding. "It wasn't my fault."

"Says here you were disrupting class, again. You were laughing at the new teaching assistant."

"No, no, she had a big hairy mole on her face and Zander thought it was funny," Ivan said protesting.

"Uh huh, Zander did? Well sez here you've been distracted, not paying attention and talking to yourself. And she wants to see your grandmomma, which means she gots to get off work, again. Acting like a damn fool in class and the other kids, they be laughing at you talking to yourself, boy? No sir ree."

Ivan's heart was pounding so loud he felt it could be heard in the next room and his eyes were becoming fogged up as he held back the tears.

"We ain't gonna have this no more in my house. It has been Zander this and Zander that. He ain't real.... ya here? He is just pretend. Now, it was fine when you were little, but you're a big boy now. You can go next door and play with your ole friend, Clyde. But you aint gonna have nothing to do with Zander."

Ivan ran toward the door with tears streaming down his face.

"Now you be back in time for supper," Grandpa John yelled. "Or your grandmomma will kick my butt."

Ivan ran out the door and down the street crying. He could not imagine going a single day without his companion. The camaraderie they shared was like delicious candy to his mind, that always left him wanting more.

He ran past the corner market where the big kids were hanging out and smoking. They made fun of Ivan who was crying and flapping his arms as he ran. The world seemed so cold with no one to comfort him. He felt lost and devastated.

He ran past the school yard toward the concrete drainage ditch and into the long tunnel. He could hear street sounds of the harsh world above him as he kept running. He felt Zander telling him that they just don't understand him; they don't care. Then out of nowhere, he felt a presence with him that looked like Zander. But in the dark, he could not tell. The creature looked older than Zander and seemed to have an elongated face and horns protruding through his hair.

All of a sudden the tunnel came to an abrupt end and Ivan stood there with the creature on the edge of a huge cliff with jagged rocks below and water that steamed and leapt like fire.

The creature had a decrepit form and a rotten stench with a hideous, filthy grin. Ivan dried his tears and looked deep into the creature's eyes and asked, "Who are you?"

But the creature only smiled and put his long, claw like finger on the center of little Ivan's back and with a little push, down he went.

As Ivan fell, the creature answered, "I am whomever you want me to be."


###


The creature lurked through the halls of the history museum, unseen by the tour guide and the crowd that was gathered there. He raged despising everyone and everything he saw. He focused his attention on the young girl, Thalia, stood looking at the old photo. She wondered what had happened to the young boy so long ago. Cunningly, the creature slowly began whispering in her ear.

He remembered exactly what happened to little Ivan.

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:51:39 AM

The Really Evil Side of Satan by Jim Statton

"You are so big and strong, let me see you without your shirt on, baby." The Bosom Latino babe ran her fingers across Paulie's hairy chest...his big, obese, disgusting sweaty chest. "I love your manly physique," her over flowing endowments accentuated his roving eyes.

She paused in admiration. "You are really hot!" Not an accurate observation, but what does a fantasy gal know. She does what she is told.

Step out of the inside of this fantasy and you'll see a fat man sprawled out in his easy chair, food stains on his T-shirt and drool slithering down his chin.

The TV set is on a sports channel, volume low. The living room is decorated with dingy furniture and carpet that has seen it’s better days forty years earlier. The walls looked faded. The house needed work…some day…one day when.

However, he was important in his dreams or more accurately, his fantasies. These imagined affairs had been going on for decades. He had a perfectly good wife. But a life haunted by his "fear of trying" sold himself to demon fantasy impersonators that performed every day in his thoughts.

Every man wanted to be mothered - adored, but most wanted to receive rather than give. Selfishness is the path to perdition.

And tonight was his night.

You can blame it on the cholesterol overdosing or his guzzling beer drinking or the popping of Valiums whenever he felt like it, but his vain imaginations sentenced his fate.

Without notice, his heart began to fibrillate wildly.

His blocked arteries were restricting blood flow, choking his heart and causing it to stop.

He gasps and sits up in his chair clutching his chest, eyes wide and full of fear.

The bosomy fantasy Latino babe morphed into a hideous fanged creature, a lower level demon who was assigned to tempt depressed people with an easily attained, more satisfying imaginary life. A swarm of demon creatures began latching their claws into Paulie's soul, pulling him into a temporary open portal into an aflame abyss.

The horror was happening too quick for him to respond. His childhood flashed before his eyes. He saw himself dating, studying, working and growing from a handsome teen into a fat, self consuming waste of life.

The screams he heard were his own. Flames licked his new body purposed for torment. Hideous creatures gnashed upon his legs. The pain was unbearable and yet the afflicted left no damage to his new body.

Everything happened in a instant of time. Paulie began to worry about Diedre his wife living without him. How could she make it? She's so depended on him emotionally. He was her rock.

He thought these things as he screamed in pain.

***

Late that night, the lock began to rustle as Deidre inserted the key. The room was dark. She saw Paulie's silhouette in the chair as always.

She turned on the light without looking at him and said, "I'm home." She didn't hear a reply. He never replied. For a long time, he only spoke to her when he needed something.

After taking a quick shower, Deidre began looking in the fridge figuring out what she could make for dinner.

"What do you want? Tell me. I don't want you yelling at me caused I fixed you the wrong thing." There was no sound.

She walked into the living room doorway. "Paulie?" No reply.

Walking over to the chair, she noticed her husband's face was a pale powder blue. She put her hand to his forehead. It was cold to the touch. She placed her fingers on the underside of his wrist. No pulse.

She looked at him and sighed.

Pulling out her cell phone she made a call. "Thad, I need you to come over right now. Paulie is dead. I don't know how, maybe he choked or something. I'm not ready to call 911 yet. Okay, I'll wait." She sat down on the couch and stared at him.

Twenty minutes later there was a knock at the door. She walked over and unlocked it. A tall chap who stood about six feet, lanky in posture, brown hair, brown eyes, nothing special to look at stood in the doorway. She took him by the arm, and guided him to the chair. They both looked down at Paulie, his arms draped over the sides as he slumped downward.

"Wow," he said as he began to look at Deidre. "What do you want to do now?"

About a minute past in melancholy remembrance, smiles began to appear on Deidre and Thad's face. They looked into each other’s eyes, she brushing the hair back from his forehead and he kissing her on the cheek.

She placed her hand on his chest and said with some remorse, "We shouldn't."

Then, she ripped his shirt open - buttons flew everywhere. He grabbed her shoulders and washed her face with his saliva. He never got the French kissing thing down. His tongue knew no boundaries.

"More...more," she cried as he kissed her neck hard, biting her ever so slightly. Clumsily she tried to get her pants off, but lost her balance and fell backward onto her dead husband’s lap, accidentally pulling Thad on top of her.

With her face just inches from Paulie’s ear, she whispered to him softly, "Well Paulie, you finally did something for me."

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:52:55 AM

Voices from Hell, again... by Sergio Palumbo

It was a dark, rainy afternoon, and Calunoth sat in the corner of his apartment, the one with the large window that, from the top of the skyscraper, overlooked the town that was wrapped in the ocean mist. It had been over two months since the weather had taken a turn for the worse, which was unprecedented for this area. Also power shortage had occurred several times. Even if the 30-year-old man enjoyed viewing the scenery outside, he had also become a bit afraid of that dim corner. His fears were due to the strange voices he had heard twice before right in that spot.

As he was tidying his long dark hair, he kept thinking that, sadly, it appeared that today would end without one ray of sunshine breaking through the thick mist.

Then, all in a sudden, the voices sounded and he heard them clearly.

“You must go through it all…come to your world! We can buy you some time more…”

It was exactly the same as the two previous times. The man gave a start, becoming fearful. What the hell were those voices? What were they trying to tell him?

Calunoth stood up at once and moved away from the corner. He had heard legends about people who had heard such strange voices and then disappeared forever…no one ever seeing them again.

The demons of the afterlife. This was what some people called them. He had never believed in such things, but he had started changing his mind since he had begun hearing those unknown voices.

Today those unearthly words came to him with a stronger appeal, in a more powerful tone. Which made him feel ill at ease…

“We can show you that what we say is true. We have the strength to tear down the barrier…to open a portal to us. We can bring you here…to the place you should be in!”

At that point, the walls themselves began to disappear, becoming almost invisible, as if they had never really been there.

Then the voices gained more strength.

“Here we are…now you can reach us…and everything will start again!”

“No, what do you mean? Go away! Leave me alone!” Calunoth cried out, but his request was of no use.

A brilliance burst out, and another confused scene appeared before the man’s blue eyes a moment later. He found his body lying on a straw mattress with his arms aching. One moment was all it took! His build was different; his arms didn’t look as he remembered them. There were strange wounds and pustules on his skin, and he felt sick.

“What happened…? Where am I?” he asked the two individuals he saw beside him wearing white coats. Strange to say, they too had pustules on their faces…

“You came back, you have returned to your real world!” the tallest of the two said.

“What are you…talking…about…?” Calunoth uttered, his voice fading.

“We know it’s difficult at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it…” added one of the figures.

“What…?”

“You know, having been in that virtual reality for about two hundred years leaves a person confused and a bit dejected. But now you’re alive again. Not only in your mind! You have a body again. That is why you feel strange at the moment," the attendant said.

“What…why…?” Calunoth didn’t seem to be capable of easily speaking.

“The virtual world you were in was collapsing. We had to get you out of there, the same as we have done with many and many others. But millions are still living that virtual life and we will try our best to bring them all back here.”

“Why here…? What is this place?”

“This is Earth, the place where you were born centuries ago, the world everyone was born into. Since the Great Disaster hit our planet and destroyed the seas and farms, the air outside of this sealed dome has been almost unbreathable. Many decided to have their mind downloaded into a virtual world so they could keep living, in a way. If you remember, our civilization was disappearing and we hadn’t gotten yet, in history, to the technology needed to travel to other worlds or moons, so our options were limited. Scientists had the means to build a virtual world and make it run for centuries, saving most minds, but our real world was almost lost…”

“What…why?” he repeated in a feeble tone.

“The reality is that Earth didn’t improve much after that, but our researchers found one day that the technology behind that virtual world was collapsing. We were able, however, to eventually clone new bodies from your previous cells, to give you all a real brain to come back to. Leaving behind that virtual reality might be bewildering at first, but it couldn’t be helped…”

“It couldn’t be helped?” the man uttered.

“Yes, if you had stayed there, that fictitious world would have been destroyed along with you all…”

“And here…Can I live here safely now?” Calunoth wondered aloud.

“Well, actually…you see…our Earth is doomed. In a matter of one or two years everything will be over, and our civilization will be gone forever. But we bought you some more time by bringing you back here! You are alive now, and you will for a few months more. Your body is not in good condition, just like ours, because of the consequences of the Great Disaster that still affects our tissues. But, maybe, if everyone works together in the real world, once more and more people come out from that virtual reality, we can talk to each other properly and think something up to prolong our life for a longer period!”

As the man heard that, and recognized the accent was the same of those voices he had heard in his apartment - okay, his fictitious virtual flat… - he felt deeply dejected. Damn’ you, he thought. Your voices just brought me into this Hell ! Again…

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:54:02 AM

Devil's Food by Twilight Zee

Benton Estates was a beautiful community, boasting some of the most lavish homes in the area. Doctors, lawyers and even several movie stars had taken up residence there. It's newest addition was a man by the name of Feldon Steele. It was said that Feldon had moved there from somewhere outside the state, but no one knew for sure, this information only coming from the real estate company who handled the purchase of his house.

As with most people, Feldon had slated a number of services and repairs to take place over the weeks prior to moving in, which was not uncommon. However, this time there was something different. Tools or items particular to each service or trade began turning up on his doorstep, but no one attached to them.

"Wow! What a place. Me and Alice would sure have a good time livin' in a place like this!" said Joe Sims, the milkman for that route. "Wouldn't be something not having to deal with the uproar that goes on in the place we live in now."

As Joe began to fantasize more about living there, he was startle by a voice behind him. "Good morning! My name is Feldon Steele, I'm the new owner. If you just leave you bottles here for a moment, I'll show you where you can drop them off this week."

Though his host was quite cordial on the outside, the feeling he got was one of fear and dread. Couldn't put a finger on it. Didn't make sense. ‘Nah,’ he said to himself. ‘Must have been a guilty conscience for standing around daydreaming.’

As they stepped through a side door around the corner of the main entrance, Joe followed Feldon into the most beautiful lavish kitchen he had ever seen with the dining area being off to the side. High ceiling with golden oak beams and the longest mahogany dinner table imaginable. It must have seated 20 people. He thought to himself, ‘Wow! The parties you could have in this place!’

"I’m afraid I didn't catch your name?" Feldon said. "Names Joe. I'll be your milkman on this route. Anything you need, I got. What can I do for you today.”

"Well Joe, I have no particular needs. I'm not in permanent residence yet, but I'd like to make future plans with you. I need to step out of the room for a moment and make a call. Would you care for a piece of cake and coffee while you wait? It's a special recipe that I baked myself, a sinfully delicious devil's food cake."

"Why thank you Mr. Steele. Don't mind if I do!"

As his host served up the cake and coffee, Joe once again began fantasizing about the rich, decadent life style he could lead if he lived in a place like this. He was so deep in thought, he hadn't notice that Steele disappeared.

"Boy, I could get use to this!" he said as he greedily wolfed down the cake and slurped the coffee from the fine bone china cup and saucer.

"I could live here forever!"

As the last fateful word spilled from his lips, Joe was brought back to reality by a loud crackly sound and intense heat. "What the...!!!???"

To his horror, Joe looked around him and saw that the lavish surroundings he had just been in moments before had disappeared. They had been replaced with dark, shadowy images and figures spilling over one another in one unending tortured mass. Screams of agony and wailing could be heard coming from every point around him in an unending maddening chorus.

With a start, Joe saw the face of a figure who resembled Feldon Steele. But now he was bathed in a red and black haze that caused Joe to shudder to the very core of his soul.

"Well Joe, I see you made up your mind. No more decisions. No more debate. No more early mornings, no more dogs biting at your heels. You're finally home. And yes, Joe. You WILL live here forever!"

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:55:20 AM

Thin Line by Robin B. Lipinski

Molten magma stirred up for those so inclined to picture hot; extremely hot plasma stirring in a world where there was no gravity, no up, no down.

In this world of hellish heat, a heat to profound, so intense, no words could even come close to what it could do to flesh… Unless?

“YiiYiiYii, Eeee…” Screams of torment competed with the wavering wisps of ever-changing lava.

Peering closer, there was a red colored creature, a creature with long horns. It’s feet were cloven and it swung a pointed tail as it danced there in the clouds of sharp; razor sharp senses of that goddamned heat.

“YiiYiiYii, Eeee…” Screams of the demon continued non-stop, almost as if the creature was possessed.

*
Creatures of earth knew full well the power of possession; power over the horned devil beasts so commonly called, demons.

In that deep pit of screams, the kingdom of the dancing demons, the one demon you’ve heard scream, saw a clear picture of a man, a human man. This man was naked as he wall tall.

In it’s vision, the demon saw the hand of the man extend it’s arm toward its. With a flash of bright white light, the demon was yanked into another dimension.

In this new dimension, it was chilly. No, it was more than chilly, it was cold as the white frozen snow flakes fell and sizzled upon the demons flesh.

“Nooo! Nooo! Make it stop! Please! No more!

The demon’s screams had turned into the language of this new dimension, this new hell. In this dimension there was snow, ice, cold, and the custodians of this place were called humans. Humans: Demons and controllers of the true Hell.

For in the previous world of the demon, it was not hell at all. It was a warm comfortable place to live. The demon would have lived a very comfortable life and when it died it would have gone to heaven. A heaven so hot, so filled with sharp senses so intense, it could only be nirvana.

But the demon was seduced by the Demons from Hell as they had tempted him with the frozen fruit, the day hell froze over. Thus, as a result his lust for the passions of ice were claimed as it died of a heart attack while in the midst of sin.

For the rest of eternity, this demon would be tormented by the Demons of Earth. It would be made to work as a clown for charity and clean up after the Earth’s masters, the dogs who had conquered and tamed this Hell.

Above the screams of the demon, there sounded the voice of triumph as the Dog barked loudly.

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:55:24 AM

Thin Line by Robin B. Lipinski

Molten magma stirred up for those so inclined to picture hot; extremely hot plasma stirring in a world where there was no gravity, no up, no down.

In this world of hellish heat, a heat to profound, so intense, no words could even come close to what it could do to flesh… Unless?

“YiiYiiYii, Eeee…” Screams of torment competed with the wavering wisps of ever-changing lava.

Peering closer, there was a red colored creature, a creature with long horns. It’s feet were cloven and it swung a pointed tail as it danced there in the clouds of sharp; razor sharp senses of that goddamned heat.

“YiiYiiYii, Eeee…” Screams of the demon continued non-stop, almost as if the creature was possessed.

*
Creatures of earth knew full well the power of possession; power over the horned devil beasts so commonly called, demons.

In that deep pit of screams, the kingdom of the dancing demons, the one demon you’ve heard scream, saw a clear picture of a man, a human man. This man was naked as he wall tall.

In it’s vision, the demon saw the hand of the man extend it’s arm toward its. With a flash of bright white light, the demon was yanked into another dimension.

In this new dimension, it was chilly. No, it was more than chilly, it was cold as the white frozen snow flakes fell and sizzled upon the demons flesh.

“Nooo! Nooo! Make it stop! Please! No more!

The demon’s screams had turned into the language of this new dimension, this new hell. In this dimension there was snow, ice, cold, and the custodians of this place were called humans. Humans: Demons and controllers of the true Hell.

For in the previous world of the demon, it was not hell at all. It was a warm comfortable place to live. The demon would have lived a very comfortable life and when it died it would have gone to heaven. A heaven so hot, so filled with sharp senses so intense, it could only be nirvana.

But the demon was seduced by the Demons from Hell as they had tempted him with the frozen fruit, the day hell froze over. Thus, as a result his lust for the passions of ice were claimed as it died of a heart attack while in the midst of sin.

For the rest of eternity, this demon would be tormented by the Demons of Earth. It would be made to work as a clown for charity and clean up after the Earth’s masters, the dogs who had conquered and tamed this Hell.

Above the screams of the demon, there sounded the voice of triumph as the Dog barked loudly.

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:56:41 AM

Ya’ll See the World Young Man by Megawatts

How did I get here? Well the answer to that question is an easy one: I wanted to see things, yes far away places, foreign countries like Italy, Greece, Japan and walk down the champ de Mars in Paris and look up at the Eiffel Tower, and walk the great wall of China.

You see, it all started one day when I was passing the recruiter’s office for the navy. I thought it strange that the office was in a run-down section of town, in an old-drab red brick building, bums drinking wine in the alley at the back, and drug dealers walking around with the enthusiasm of used car salesmen up and down the street undeterred by the police. Oh, what the heck. Maybe it was a good place to recruit? Who knows, I thought. I told my sister to get an apartment in a better section of town, but she said the rents in other areas were too high.

I just graduated from high school, and Kayla, my sister, asked me to come live with her for a while before I started college in the fall. She already had a summer job for me with the city. She said the big city life would be good for me, since we both came from the farm community of rural Pennsylvania. Believe me, the first time I saw Pittsburgh I couldn’t believe the things to do. We only lived seventy-five miles from it, but this was the first time there. I wanted everything. To see everything and go everywhere and after finding my sister’s apartment that was in a building much better that I would have thought in this section of town, I told her about the recruiting office down the street.

“It wasn’t there last week,” Kayla said. “Are you sure?”

“It’s there now,” I answered.

“Uncle Sammy spent twenty-five years in the navy. He loved it.” Kayla said. “You should join. That’s it. I know you want to see the world. You always talked about traveling to Europe and Asia and places like that! If you join the navy, then you can . . . and they paid you to do it. Instead of going to college now, the navy will paid for it after you get out. I think it’s called the G.I. bill. Dave, the navy isn’t dangerous. They don’t carry guns and things like that.”

That made sense. I decided to look into the navy that night

The next day I entered the recruiter’s office and the first thing I notice were all the pictures of battleships and aircraft carriers on the wall. One ship had me baffle for it was a Russian destroyer. I knew that for I seen that same picture in a magazine back home not too long ago. It was Russian.

“Well, want to see the world,” Chief Carlson said. He was the recruiter.
“Yes,” I answered. “Why do you have a Russian destroyer on the wall?’

“Oh . . . you know----I like all warships . . . it’s a nice one don’t you think,” Chief Carlson said.

“Anyway, look at all the exotic places you will visit. How about a night in Italy? Italian girls are the best, unless you like Asians. Stops in Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam---- you name it. I’ve been almost everywhere and boy the places I seen. The fun! Need I say more?” Chief Carlson said.

He brought out brochures and one of the first things I noticed were that they weren’t really navy written. Strange I thought like the Russian Destroyer, but—well maybe some cost saying plan on paper or something.

“The food in the navy is the best and the living condition on board out aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers rival cruse ships today. And the pay----remember your room and board and meals are free!” Chief Carlson said.

He was right. The pay was great considering no rent and free meals.

A couple of other guys came in and looked around. Chief Carlson gave them the old ‘nothing beats the navy routine’ as I looked over the literature in front of me. The Polynesian girls looked beautiful in one picture as they flirted with some sailors on an dock. Boy did they look happy!

After few minute more of looking, I decided to join.

I joined that night. However, I asked Chief Carlson about a physical and he said that not to worry. I’ll get one before basic but he felt sure that I would make it. I wondered about that but decided that with the experience he could tell if someone was fit just by looking.

That night I told Kayla. She said I did the right thing. “Oh, well, I wanted you to help me paint this apartment, but I’m glad for you little brother. My brother the sailor.”

The next day I boarded a bus and before I knew it we were off. However, once when we entered a tunnel everything became a blur. Lights spun around, eerie laughter filled the air, and the tunnel never ended! I blacked out.

When I woke up, I was in a cell with about ten other guys.

“Were are we?” I asked.

“Don’t ask,” one of the guys said.

“Hey, they got another sucker last night,” a voice sounded.

“You’ll see, you’ll see,” another voice uttered.

“Like to shovel coal?” another voice.


I heard foot steps and there stood Chief Carlson but he looked different. He wasn’t in a uniform, and he had horns on his head! He as talking with another demon and I could hear them plainly.

“Boy it’s so hard to get victims anymore,” he said to the other demon. “But the old ‘see the world my boy worked,’ next time I’ll try ‘oversea employment–great pay-- tax free . . . .”

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 01:58:00 AM

Tiger, Tiger by TaoPhoenix

Mudra Murawanathan ambled more slowly than usual after his weekly appointment at his new Muscles and Tendons doctor. A couple of falls nearly wiped out his shoulders, and while they were better now, it was still out of the cards to think of most active sports for a long time, if not ever.

The streets were often lined with small shops on the off-streets once you got out of the expensive areas of the office areas of Manhattan. Mudra lived by himself in a disheveled spare room behind some Spanish speaking restaurant-deli a few blocks from his doctor's office. The area remained vibrantly influenced by the Indian section of the population centered at the next train stop on the "7 Line International Express", but up near his doctor's office, the next set of influences held sway.

Glancing up, he noticed for the second time a shop with an ethnic sign indicating something along the lines of "artifacts religioso". It was simply a shop, but the curved street pattern had confused him and he only located it this time because he had stopped for a chicken sub on the way home.

A laminated Santa Marta Dominadora image of a woman shamanically wielding a snake caught his eye, so he bought one for a dollar. Then came the real mystery. The proprietress looked up and smiled.

"Hello, Senor. What can I get for you?"
Mudra shuffled a bit on his feet. "These playing cards, they say on the box they are something about fortune telling."

The shop owner fidgeted but replied. "Yes, but I was careless, they should have been in the Advanced section behind the counter. I was showing them earlier and neglected to put them away. But there they are. They are quite expensive: The pack looks like regular playing cards, But see, the royal cards are very special. And they are very dangerous. The price for the cards is Seventy Eight dollars, however, it includes a free two hour lesson how to use them."

Well, this was a surprise! "What does all that mean! And seventy eight dollars! Aren't they just plastic or something?"

"Well, in the box, yes. You know, how people, they go to those mind doctors? The ones they have in that book from the government?"

"Psychologists? Maybe Psychiatrists?"

"The ones who speak, not the ones with medicine. Which one is that?"

"The psychologists."

"Yes. So we have to do it our way, over on our block. The people do not trust them. They trust only the old ways."

"Okay, so what is this?" Mudra knew a bit of new age topics from his college days. The systems could get quite elaborate and there were certainly levels of skill involved. Not all of it was pure 'quackery', as it was often derided. Some of the Old Ways had power...

"Well, I will agree this one was done with a new artist, but he produced it under the training of an Old Master. Look, for free, here is the first principle. You can do it to any deck of playing cards. Free of Charge. Pull out the twelve face cards out of a special use deck. The King of Hearts is often called a "Pain King". Of course do not take that literally, but a very simple version of the system is that every twelve days, drawing one card per day, you will get the Pain King. To the limit of your schedule, attempt to have a good breakfast, then force yourself to do painful necessary things in your life."

"But Donya, what if I have a good life?"

"Then you must become a Brujo for a day and create pain to someone else!"

"Why would I do that?"

"Try it. Here is my card. Come back on the day after you have lived the Pain King, and the advanced deck will be only seventy dollars. But only on that day. Then it goes back to regular price."

"How will you know?" Mudra asked.

"I will see it in your face!"

...

Mudra walked back into the shop eight days later. His cousin was being more of an asshole all month anyway. So Mudra spiked his McDonald's milkshake with knockoff street Ritalin and sent him to an underground poker game. Vik won $300 but then got kicked off parole and had to serve the rest of his five month misdemeanor sentence. His cousin had given him the $70 to get the secret deck to "fix things" with.

"Okay, I will take that pack of cards now."

"Yes Senor. First, see how happy the King of Hearts is? Go take that to your cousin, have him give it to the parole officer, and his parole will be back."

"How do you know about that?"

The shop owner smiled a soul slicing smile. "See? The Jack of Clubs. The young man is in shock. When you get the news that your cousin's parole is reinstated, the officer will rip up the Happiness King and you will rip up the Jack of Shock. One event down. The pack of cards covers six events, one will be used up. You have five left."

The lesson was quite long, and quite complex. Mudra left, to begin his new life.

...

When he had left, the shop owner made a phone call. "Hello, Officer Lanta? This is Dinya from 103rd street. You will find a picture of a man on your phone shortly. He will likely be committing several crimes. He is not to be touched for five months, then you can investigate him as you like. My shop is closed now. The Tiger has been caught by the tail."

The End
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Post March 19, 2018, 03:48:47 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

Many congratulations to the winners, indeed...eh,eh :D :D :D

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Post March 19, 2018, 08:01:39 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

Good bunch of stories.
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Post March 20, 2018, 12:10:21 AM

Re: March 2018 Flash Fiction Contest - The Results

Well ...

I'm just returning, and we've had discussions of Vote mechanics in the past, none of which I know where they stand now, so I didn't vote, either for mine or anyone else's .

I'm pleased I did well enough on my return to be "tied for the lead!" If I HAD voted for myself, I might have won... and that feels strange to me. I've been the type to underplay credentials and stuff.

Types of comments - my life has been turbulent for a while now, and so I am taking special care not to read the stories with people's dreams and emotions on the line when I'm wiped out!

I plan to dive in, in a few days.

And when I do, I have rolling thunder word counts!

So far the comments look a bit thin, so I'll start with my own story.

I caged whether "hell" is "literal", or jail! When I was writing it, I put a lot of room for the latter interpretation. There's also a lot of room in a longer story about the lures of temporary invincibility etc.

Jim, you weren't here for much of my previous explorations, and the Flash length is something I really do struggle with, so this one came off better than most! But it doesn't quite earn a "perfect A" in my own standards. I'd go for a solid B, but it shows. I'm tough on myself!

But it got there, and got votes, and I've been skunked before on bad days, so not bad for an Emergence!
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