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Spook on Rye-Fiction by Will Bernardara, Jr.
A Study in Loss and Hunger-Fiction by T. N. Allan
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Uncle Harry-Fiction by Michael S. Stewart
Run, Robby, Run, Part 3-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
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The Retiree's Epiphany-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Reckoning-Fiction by Edward Francisco
Sarcasm's Dream-Fiction by Erin J, Jones
Dishes, Dishes, Dishes-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Angels in Vegas-Flash Fiction by Tom Darin Liskey
An Alto for the Choir-Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
A Splash of Red-Flash Fiction by Daniel Clausen
A Slight Disposition-Flash Fiction by James Coffey
Together Forever-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
Talky Tina-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Play Dead-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Boycott This Poem-Poem by Michael Marrotti
Monaco-Poem by John Doyle
He Dubbed Himself General Custer-Poem by David Spicer
Moment of Madness-Poem by Meg Baird
A Beautiful Chaos-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Phantom Voices Floating...Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Dirty White Girl-Poem by Ian Mullins
Don't Do It, It Ain't Worth It-Poem by Ian Mullins
Cursed-Poem by John Grey
Regarding the Coming of Man-Poem by John Grey
Threshold-Poem by Kenneth P. Gurney
Word Salad With Ranch-Poem by Kenneth P. Gurney
Turnabout-Poem by Kenneth P. Gurney
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Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
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No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

altochoir.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2017

An Alto for the Choir

 

by Hillary Lyon

 

 

          Somebody forgot to top off the oil in the car. So on that long trek back to the family homestead, on that long, lonely stretch of highway on a cloudless August afternoon, the engine of a beautiful and otherwise perfectly preserved 1978 sapphire-blue Camaro seized, and died.

 

          Cathi got out of the muscle car and kicked the front tire. “Stupid car,” she muttered, as she dug through her purse for her phone. She scrolled through her contacts, looking for the 1-800 number for AAA roadside service. Nada.

 

          “Excuse me, miss,” said a voice from out of nowhere. “Need some help?”

 

 She turned to find a cowboy-hatted, toothpick-chewing officer standing by the car. He adjusted his mirrored sunglasses and crossed his tanned arms.

 

          “I, uh, yeah,” she answered. He was a deputy or something, so of course he would help her. Or so Cathi assumed.

 

          “What a beauty!” The officer said, not waiting for her to elaborate further. He obviously referred to the car, not her, because he lovingly looked the Camaro up and down. “This your machine? Don’t usually see a gal driving something of this caliber.”

 

          “Ah, no, it belongs to my husband.” Cathi then scoffed, and said, “Ex-husband, actually.”

 

          “Uh huh,” the deputy replied thoughtfully. “You sing? Soprano, maybe?”

 

          “What?” Cathi was taken aback by this odd question. “Sorta, I mean, I sang alto in my high school choir, but what does that have to do with anything?”

 

          The deputy arched his shoulder and spit out the toothpick. “Ma’am, you’re not the legal owner of this vehicle. It’s been reported stolen, and that means you’re in a heap of trouble. Grand theft auto, in fact. That’s a felony.”

 

          “What? No! Derick wouldn’t do that to me!” Her voice rose with her panic.

 

          “Well, he would, and he did. Gonna have to take you in.” The deputy casually tipped his hat back. Cathi couldn’t read his expression.

 

          It was only now that she looked for the deputy’s car. There wasn’t one. “Where did you come from? I mean, where’s your car?” Cathi asked.

 

          “Don’t need a car out here.” The deputy replied, pulling out a new toothpick from his shirt pocket. He jammed it in his mouth and smiled. “But you need to get in line.” He pointed to a spot over Cathi’s right shoulder. She turned to find a line of dirty, jumpsuited convicts toiling away in the middle of the road.

 

          “Where did they—” Cathi began. The deputy roughly shoved her toward the group, who parted to make a place for her.

 

          “There you go, missy, a perfect fit next to the tenors.” The convicts began humming, and in spite of herself, Cathi joined them.

 

          On that particular stretch of highway in the back country, the one that the old folks called the “singing highway,” a new voice joined the chorus. The superstitious will tell you the humming you hear when you drive on a moonless night is the mournful moaning of convicts who worked the road—worked until they died. Though the more pragmatic will say the hum results from the grooved pavement, made so rainwater easily sloughs away, and shake their heads impatiently at the absurd idea of a ghost choir.

 

 

 

Hillary Lyon lives in southern Arizona, where she is the founder of and editor for Subsynchronous Press. She’s lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the U.S. Her stories have appeared recently in Theme of Absence, Black Petals, 365 Tomorrows, Night to Dawn, Eternal Haunted Summer, and numerous horror anthologies.  hillarylyon.wordpress.com

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017