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Ferdie's Christmas-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Dead Meat-Fiction by Morgan Boyd
Twisted Love-Fiction by Mandi Rose
Run, Robby, Run, Part 4-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
All I Want for Christmas-Fiction by Carly Zee
Arterial Spray-Fiction by J. Brook
Murder Boots-Fiction by Jim Farren
The Blueberry Muffin Girl-Fiction by Michael Bauman
Standoff-Fiction by Lester L. Weil
Guns 'N Money-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fester-Fiction by Mark Renney
The Start of a Bitchin' Year-Fiction by Luke Walters
Reprisal_Fiction by John W. Dennehy
Elevator-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Jamie, with the Blue Eyes-Fiction by Betty J. Sayles
All for the Love of a Good Burger-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Multiple Choice-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
Karma-Flash Fiction by Dr. I. M. Irascible
That Poe Story-Flash Fiction by Chris McGinley
Nome-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Underestimated-Poem by Marci McKim
The Stream of Life-Poem by Aiki Mann
Christmas Tale-Poem by Joe Balaz
In Loving Memory Of-Poem by Michael Marrotti
The Tattooed Man-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
You Got a Friend-Poem by Jerry Vilhotti
70,000 Birds-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Migrations #1-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
at the crest-Poem by Meg Baird
Gottingen Street 1998-Poem by Meg Baird
a subtle karate pose-Poem by Mark Young
The chains coil up into helical structures-Poem by Mark Young
Dream I'd Like to Forget-Poem by Alan Britt
Near Dawn-Poem by Alan Britt
Mischievous Ghosts-Poem by Alan Britt
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Patty Mulligan 2017



Carly Zee


The house was quiet as Harold leaned against his computer desk, fingers flying over the keyboard.  Outside, it was a greyish night; snow spattered and drifted against the window, caught and blown haphazardly; it’d still be a while before it settled into a true nor’easter. Snug in his suburban den, Harold ignored the weather and smiled at his laptop. He was supposed to be finishing the last of his online shopping –  Christmas was only three days away, and he needed something for his wife and kids – but this was so much more interesting.

“I am now collecting Harolds,” Maude told him through email, smile faced wink conveying confidence he knew she did not feel.

“Harolds?” he replied. Harold – that was his name, and this was one of her many tricks, lure you in and –

He hit send anyway. She’d explain soon enough. Or not. That was Maude for you.

Her reply was near instantaneous.

“Oh yes, Harolds. I have a few of them now, but I’ve only been collecting for a while.” Another happy faced smile. “I seem to have developed a fondness for them.”


“Well, the name, at least. I find that’s what draws me to a person, in all the dating sites, and then I end up chatting with them. They seem to like me.”

“Uh huh. Sure.” He glanced over at her profile picture, scantily clad in cut off shorts and a tank top snugged against full curves, and added, “There’s a lot to like.”

“Do you like me?”

He avoided the question, and replied, “I’m sure they do.”

She ignored this. “Anyway, my latest Harold is a plumber, kind of reminds me of you. Game of Thrones guy, has a kid. Separated.”

He scrolled through the email, only half paying attention. This was another of her tricks, spark your interest, and then draw it around to herself.

She continued. “‘Course, I’m only chatting with him now, nice guy, just seems lonely.”

Harold flicked through the screens of his laptop, knowing where this was going. And he really should be shopping, but –

He kept reading.

“The last Harold, he looked so much like you, I couldn’t believe it. Thought it really was you, I kept looking at his pics. But this guy was nicer, he wanted to cook me dinner.”

“Lotta guys cook.” He hit reply.

“I know you do.” Her response was near instant.

Harold sat silent, staring at his laptop. Hadn’t he bragged this of himself? Trying to impress her, or something? But that was a long time ago… and look where it got him.

He shifted in his seat, ignoring her profile picture, and the screen flickered, for an instant it seemed that her eyes sought his. She brought a fury, an intensity that he had become afraid of. She saw his truth.

Maude knew more about him than most people, including his own wife. They shared the crappy details of each other’s day, past histories, and imagined sex scenes, all carried out through clandestine emails courtesy of a secret account that his wife had no knowledge of.

He smiled as she sent another photo of herself, wearing pink panties in a contorted pose captioned ‘bottom’s up.’ Typical Maude. He’d stare at that picture later; and probably find himself masturbating to it, a half-empty box of tissues sat on top of his desk, the near full wastepaper basket below.

Although his wife was never one to ask questions, Harold made sure he was the one who took out the trash.

Truth be told his wife wasn’t much for anything, other than grocery shopping, or bitching, or bridge. Sex, that was out of the question. She didn’t want it, and he didn’t either. At least not with her.

Not that he didn’t love her, somewhere, deep down, it was that she’d grown less appealing. With oversized nylon pants and heavy jowls, she wore her years with pride, and practicality. Nights were for sleeping in comfortable housedresses, soft flannel prints with an iron clad zipper straining over her bosom.

Harold felt he’d somehow grown old, aged before his time.

Maude changed all that.

Of course, they’d talked about meeting, and joked about how she should come up and see the snow at his place, and, ha ha, must be nice to have sex on the beach. XOs on both sides.

Half a continent separated the two of them, but through the wonders of email they spoke several times daily. His wife would have called it an emotional affair, while Harold would have preferred to call it physical, but for the distance that separated them both.

“Still there?” Maude’s email chirped.

“A plumber, eh?” he replied, in order to say something.

“I like a guy who works with his hands.”

He looked down again, cursing inwardly. He’d told her, quite early on, of his teamster days – a labour guy, that’s what he’d called himself.

And she’d loved him for it.

“Are you gonna meet this Harold?” he asked.

 “I dunno, just chatting with him now. He’s not quite like you, you know.”

“Most people aren’t.”

His laptop chirped as another email came through, a scantily clad picture of Maude, and an offer. “Cum down south for the holidays. I’ll make it worth your while.”

Harold sat back, and smiled at the picture. It was a body he’d become familiar with, through a scattering of intimate pictures sent over an electronic medium, and he knew how it would end up.

Maude had told him, repeatedly in fact, how her body would feel pressed against his own, her fingers trailing over his shoulders and across his chest; their clothing discarded in a heap; along with promises to dramatically improve his sex life. His thoughts derailed, momentarily slip-sliding into nothingness; no longer thinking about anything other than how her lips would taste.

His fingers moved as though on their own. “Or maybe you should come here, stay on the couch for a couple days.” Hit send.

“Your wife?”

“She won’t mind, much. Just say you’re visiting relatives nearby.” Harold honestly had no idea how his wife would react to Maude showing up, unplanned and unannounced, but he had a dim thought she wouldn’t approve.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

“A blow job.”

“Done. Nite.”

Harold smiled at his computer screen and opened up the window for Amazon, hoping that with rush shipping he could get something for his wife and kids – a couple video games, and maybe she’d like a watch, and oh look, it could be here in 24 hours. Or less, depending on the snowstorm.

Harold hit ‘buy.’




“What’re you doing here?” Half an hour later, Harold stood in the doorway of his living room, having just turned off his computer for the night; Christmas shopping lists and threats of winter storm now vanished from his mind. For, here she was.

Maude, for it was unmistakably Maude, said nothing, but continued to lay sprawled across his couch, barefoot and flat on her belly, her legs crossed lazily in mid-air, tanned thighs emerging from tight cut off shorts, and reading a novel. As he watched, she turned a page.

Harold stood staring at her, for a minute, or maybe only 30 seconds, trying to take the whole scene in. The Christmas tree flickered beside her, catching her body in a multicoloured glow. He stared at the way the skin on her shoulders was slightly peeled and too dark from the sun, and faded to paleness exposed when her tank top shifted across her back.

It was all too real.

He sagged against the archway of his living room, his hand no longer reaching for the light switch but now limp at his side. The whole thing was impossible, there was no way she could –

His thoughts broke into fragments, and he tried to seize control of the situation.

“I turned my computer off,” he said stupidly.

She said nothing.

“What’re you doing here?” he repeated.

She lay ignoring him, it seemed. Caught up in her novel.


 “H-h-how’d you get here?” His voice sounded scared. He actually didn’t know if he was scared, or turned on, or simply curious, his mind reeled as their online chats dissolved into something else. A stroke, a delusion, his mind seized on the idea. Why yes, here he was having a stroke, just a small one, the kind the old timers called ‘shocks’, and he was seeing things that weren’t there.

She was a figment of his imagination, no more, no less, and if it wasn’t a stroke, it was a simple hallucination, brought on by late nights and too much screen time.

“You’re not really there.”

Maude continued to say nothing, and licked her finger to turn the page; Harold stood watching her tongue flicker and the bead of moisture gleam in the lamplight. She had somehow turned on the table lamp, and was holding her book so the pages fell in the light.

“What’re you reading?”

She looked at him and smiled, and he suddenly felt chilled. She flashed the cover of a familiar title and set the book aside. His stomach churned as this became terrifyingly real.

“Why don’t you sit down?” she said. Her voice didn’t sound like he’d thought it would, but he’d never thought much about what she’d sound like, all their communication was –


Her voice echoed in his mind, and he realized he hadn’t heard her at all, just his own interpretation of what he thought she was like. Harold stood, now clinging to the doorway, with half a mind to turn and flee, to run to anywhere but inside his own house.


Maude sat up, and patted the couch beside herself, and his feet, with wills of their own, crossed the living room floor. He grimaced as he caught a squeaky floor board, and worried about waking the rest of the house, he tried to tiptoe around it, while the traitorous board groaned and protested beneath his weight.

Harold then sat down beside her. Waited expectantly.

She turned toward him, and smiled.

He felt both frightened, and deeply aroused.

Maude knew it too.

It began as he knew it would, with a slow lingering kiss, her mouth on his, her tongue flickering and tasting, he gasped as her teeth closed on his lower lip. As though on their own, his hands reached around her body, pulling her in, and he could feel the warmth of the sun still wrapped around her. His hands trailed over her tanned thighs, reveling in her softness and firm muscle.

She was just as he’d imagined her to be.

I knew you’d like it, her voice sounded husky in his mind.

Harold might have said something in reply, or not. He was far beyond thinking.

Maude tugged at his clothes, shoving his t-shirt aside, her fingers glided over his chest; her mouth soon followed.

He gasped as his nipples were seized and pinched and nibbled, and watched as her head dropped lower, her tongue leaving a shiny trail down his belly. As she pulled the waist band of his boxers down, his cock sprang into action, meeting her lips fully erect.

Harold sank back on the couch with a groan as she wrapped her lips around the head of his cock, her tongue toying with him and saliva dripping down. Again, as though on their own, his fingers wrapped themselves in her hair, whether guiding her or simply hanging on for dear life, Maude didn’t seem to mind. Her hands were busy cupping his balls, and gliding up and down his shaft, her mouth sucking and swallowing and consuming him whole – everything slippery and wet – just the way he’d always imagined.

You want me to? Her voice floated inside his head.

“Whaaat?” he drawled. He was half conscious, near orgasm, and desperately wanted her to continue and terribly frightened that she would.

Swallow? Maude looked up at him and smiled, only for an instant, her tongue flickered over her teeth. Gleaming, the word came to mind. He’d never noticed how white they looked, and sharp – and then she took him into her mouth again, hitting the back of her throat, he thought – and then nothing.

He came that instant, and she indeed swallowed, creating a warm suction that seemed to prolong the orgasm to eternal depths, drawing him in a way that his wife had never done. Too dirty she’d said, as she’d pulled her cotton nightgown over her knees.

Blindsided by orgasmic bliss, Harold groaned and his eyes fluttered and his body seemed to float in outer space. He didn’t know if he was even alive anymore, and he didn’t care, either. Maude simply smiled at him, and licked her lips.

When he eventually roused, Harold knew that beyond a doubt, he had received the best damned blow job of his entire life. He tried to tell Maude so, in a gentlemanly way of course. His words fumbled into pictures and feelings, with nothing articulated at all.

Maude only smiled. She understood.

She was always good like that. It was one of the many things he liked about her.

Harold sank into the sofa, his heart still pounding in his chest, and draped his arm over her shoulders, pulling her in. Her skin felt cool to the touch, but she would be, wearing just a tank top and shorts in this weather.

“Aren’t you cold?”

Maude shook her head, no and cuddled against him, smoothing his shirt and pulling his boxers back into place. Tidying him up.

She loved him. He knew that.

Harold sank back with a smile on his face and his arm still around her. Filled with contentment. The aftermath of orgasm still clung to him, his thoughts remained cloudy and shocks of tiny sparks filled his body. It was as he knew it would be.

The snow continued to blow outside, and he closed his eyes to the soft glow of the Christmas tree. Maude lay still beside him, trailing her fingers over his chest. He tightened his arm around her and nuzzled the top of her head. Kissed her.

Then was gone.


It was sometime in the early hours of the morning, alone in the den, that Harold’s computer mysteriously turned on, a grey screen flashed ominously, and thousands of email transmissions scrolled past, revealing pictures and mundane details of two lives intertwined, before settling back into darkness.

When Harold’s family came into the living room the next morning, their cries of anguish and panicked phone calls to 911 soon dissolved in the reassurance that no matter what, Harold had clearly died a happy man.


-- THE END--

Carly Zee is a poet and writer and lover of the fine things in life—like good wines, dark chocolate, and finer erotica. She finds herself seeking pleasure over reason on far too many occasions, and will in all likelihood continue to do so.

Of course, you're more than welcome to join her along for the ride.

Carly's work is scattered around the web in various forms, including at Sick Lit, Feminine Collective, Shot Glass Journal, and is up and sparkling at Twisted Sister lit mag. You can contact Carly Zee through https://carlyzee.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017