Free Fiction: “The C-Word” by Don Pizarro

It had been eleven months since I’d last called Anna. One day, she’d stopped answering her phone, and eventually I stopped trying to get through to her. I’d mostly stopped thinking about us until her corner of Massachusetts caught the edge of a hurricane. For three days, I resisted the urge to call.

I never thought she’d call me.

“I knew you’d be worried,” Anna had said.

“I was,” I said, shocked into honesty by the realization she’d actually given me a moment’s thought.

We spent most of the time talking about the storm’s aftermath. “Arkham’s flooded,” she said. “They canceled classes at Misk until further notice. Newburyport’s a mess….”

“How are you?” I asked.

“Innsmouth pretty much got through it unscathed,” she said.

Not the answer I was looking for. This didn’t surprise me. Neither did Innsmouth’s shelter from the storm, despite the town being situated right on the coast. After its revival in the nineties as a place where artists and hipster students with trust funds – like myself – could thrive, nothing could slow Innsmouth down. Not its own sordid history, nor the recession, not even the weather.

The tired old joke was always, “What did Innsmouth sell its soul to this time?”

We did some perfunctory catching up and had gotten to the part where we both mentioned about how little had changed in our lives over the past year, when I blurted out, “I want to see you.” I hung my head down between my knees and waited for another rejection.

“Eliot,” Anna said with a sigh.

I was mentally kicking myself, thinking stupid, stupid, stupid.

“One last visit,” she said. “One. For old time’s sake.”

Want to read the rest? Download the free PDF here!

Advertisements

Free Fiction: “Transfigured Night” by K. V. Taylor

1.

Always wondered what Jason was writing in this journal. All musicians are sensitive artistes, I guess, I just never knew he wrote poetry. Anyhow, I’m commandeering the thing since wherever the hell he is, he doesn’t need it any more.

Jesus, I can’t believe he’s gone. I wish I’d told him.

-Vic

2.

This is the kind of shit you see in movies. Guy goes out for a day-trip with his friend, storm picks up, beats the hell out of them, guy gets knocked out by a falling piece of the boat. Guy wakes up in open water, GPS fried, his friend staring blankly–like he’s the one with the head injury.

He kept talking about faces in the water. Jesus.

Goddammit, why did I go to sleep? Why didn’t I stay awake and watch him?

I’m probably going to burn this fucking diary when I get home – well, my parts at least. But I need something to do or I’ll go crazy. I’m washed up on this rock, Jason disappeared overboard (or into thin air, I guess) three days ago, and there’s still no rescue.

Weird, but that’s not a complaint. I don’t want one. Not after I let him down like that.

Ran around the edge of the island today–the thing is small as hell, and nothing in any direction.

Fuck, why can’t I cry?

-Vic

Want to read the rest? Download the free PDF here!

Free Fiction: “The Cry In The Darkness” by Richard Baron

Mamie Bishop and I had been courting for a number of years before I proposed. I think that we would still be courting now had it not been for the incident involving that local misfit, Wilbur Whateley. The details of which are too vast and unsettling to go into here – only have it known that following his disappearance, a gloom seemed to settle over the town. Inhabitants unwilling to discuss the event hid away behind closed doors, avoiding each other’s gaze for fear that mentioning “the unspeakable name” of Whateley would bring some unknown terror lumbering to their door.  For Mamie, who had visited their residence on past occasions, the effects were far more pronounced.

She became withdrawn, her skin affecting a sickly pallor. More than once she was found walking alone in the hills at night, her head tilted up to the sky as though she was searching for some sign or movement in the clouds. Naturally, I became concerned, and after ushering her back to her parents’ home following one of those midnight jaunts, I sat her down and poured out my heart. Racked as I was with worry, I would say, and do, anything in my power to help alleviate whatever concerns gave her cause to act in such a manner. Anything to have the Mamie I loved safe.

I will never forget the way she looked at me then.

Her face wet with tears, black hair raining down upon her brow, she raised her head and said, “A child, Earl. I want a child.”

Want to read the rest? Download the free PDF here!

Free Fiction: “Infernal Attractors” by Cody Goodfellow

“Turn it on,” she said.

When he didn’t move, she cocked the gun. Even so, Marc hesitated, his hand over the knife switch at the heart of the sprawling machine.

“It’s not safe,” he said, trying not to whine.

“I know,” she replied. The raw silk in her weary voice turning to rusted steel. “That’s why I need it.” She laid down the gun, certain of his obedience, and began to unbutton her long black dress. It slithered off her angular, hungry curves to pool round her feet. Her stockings were the color of smoke. She wore nothing else. The sheen of her perspiration made her pale body glimmer in the moonlight. Her long burgundy bangs hid her eyes. “Turn it on, and open it up all the way.”

He had built it for her, with the weird old components she always seemed to find just when they were needed, and the yellowing circuit diagrams stamped PROJECT BIFROST: ABOVE TOP SECRET. Whenever he asked her about it, she had fucked him until he forgot his questions. But this morning, he had done some digging and found out just enough about what he had built that he tried to destroy it.

Thus, the gun.

She’d told him some of it, when she had to. She didn’t have to spell it out. She had to be an idiot or crazy, not to realize how far out of his league she was. When they’d met on a makers’ message board thread about teledildonics and orgone generators, he’d played along with what he was sure was a joke. Something that’ll make Sex and Drugs obsolete, was all she had to say. Meeting her in person was a shock. Her picture didn’t begin to do her justice.

Like most girls who dyed their hair a new color every week and covered themselves in tattoos, there was damage behind her intriguing façade, desperation and despair between the whirlwind binges of thrill seeking. She warned him she was “a bit of a nymphomaniac,” and there was a sleepy confession that she’d been to rehab, been committed, experimented on. He didn’t care about her past, any more than he cared if she really loved him, or what the hell a Tillinghast resonator was, until it was too late.

Want to read the rest? Download the free PDF here!

Free Fiction: “Descent of the Wayward Sister” by Gabrielle Harbowy

It was an unfortunate and shameful predicament that led me to seek lodging with my estranged older brother. We were strangers raised by the same parents with more than a decade between us, like serial lodgers with only a house and a pair of kindly if distant landlords in common. I knew nothing of his secrets, nor he of mine.

His was a stately row house on a venerated downtown block. It was the sort of street along which young businessmen walk with ambitious longing, and ladies make a show of disembarking from their carriages so that other ladies might see them welcomed inside. I came to his doorstep in the evening, in the rain, with the glow of the streetlight forming a halo behind my bedraggled, dripping hair. My brother was a stern-looking man, but I was accustomed to charming my way into the hearts of stern-looking men. The words spilled past my lips: I confessed to him that a grave misunderstanding with a young gentleman had ruined my station, and that I had nowhere else to go. Upon my repeated apologies, sobbed between solemn assertions that I would not inconvenience him and only needed a safe place for my reputation to convalesce in privacy, he took me in with a nod and a long-suffering sigh.

At once, he arranged for me the sorts of diversions appropriate for a lady: music lessons, and embroidery, and dancing. It was an unexpected kindness, perhaps evidence of how deeply he had been moved my plea. Or perhaps to keep me occupied while he was away all day, toiling at whatever labor provided him the financial resources for such a well-situated home. He did not discuss his work with me, and I did not ask. When he returned home in the evening, we dined in formal silence at opposite ends of a long, impersonal table. After coffee, he received callers and retreated to his study, leaving me once again on my own.

I rarely saw him. Still, hints of his secrets soon began to make themselves apparent. The servants – for he had several – were not at sufficient ease with me to treat me as one of their number, as I would have preferred. However, they were unaccustomed to another presence pacing the halls by day, and forgot to guard their tongues. They whispered about him, about the house, about the visitors, about the need to keep a vigilant eye on me to prevent me from wandering where I shouldn’t. There were doors, I learned, that were perpetually locked. To these rooms the house servants were forbidden entry, and strict punishment might befall any well-meaning girl who rearranged his books, or so much as shifted his papers.

A locked door, however, had never been a match for my curiosity. Indeed, I had made my livelihood upon the riches and secrets they shielded. Willpower and gratitude held me back for a full two days, but on my third day in residence I claimed headache in the middle of my piano lesson and sent the tutor away. It was, I thought, something a spoiled lady might often do, and indeed the nice gentleman seemed willing enough to escape my dreadful playing while presumably keeping his full afternoon’s fee. With the servants distracted by the afternoon bustle as they prepared for their master’s return, my slender lock picks and I crept into every room on the upstairs floor, in search of a bit more background on my closest blood-relation.

Want to read the rest? Download the free PDF here!