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Hollywood Harry's bar and Grill-Flash Fiction by Fred Zackel
Grandmother Nightmare-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
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A Note for Alex Gildzen-Poem by Mark Young
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the only goodbye he deserved-Poem by J. J. Campbell
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Again the 11th Hour-Poem by Robert Halleck
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singles ad Westwood Magazine-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
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ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

grandnightmare.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2018

Grandmother Nightmare

 

Rick McQuiston

 

          The children huddled around the hunched-over figure in the rocking chair. The room danced with shadows from the crackling fire, amply lighting the small chamber and the group of characters within it. A somber and gloomy atmosphere hung over the scene.

          The old woman rocked back and forth with a steady, unnerving rhythm. The creaks and groans that her movements caused on the floorboards were occasionally accented with her own creaks and groans.

          "My children," she murmured through swollen gums and cracked teeth, "who would like to hear another story?"

          Her question was rhetorical. She wasn't asking for a response.

          One little girl, her pixie-like face weathered from far too many of the old woman's tales, feebly raised her hand. She was Hope, and wished for the strength to endure another story. 

          The old woman's eyes fixated on the girl. A deep-seated fire surged behind her gaze, sparked by the desire to unleash a barrage of cold words on the child.

          "Good, good. This one I call Hatred."

As the frigid words spewed across the room the children cowered against one another. They felt no warmth from the fire, and even less from the story assaulting their ears.

One boy dared to stir. He was Courage, and despite his diminutive size, had stood up against many an imposing adversary.

The old woman stared him down without pausing in her dark tale, biting words continuing to flow from her cracked mouth like so much fetid water.

The boy hesitated in his defiance, and then became still.

The girl sitting next to the boy reached over and wrapped an arm around him. She was Compassion, and sought to comfort her companion. She wore an expression befitting her benevolent stature.

The old woman snarled at her. "Be still, young fools!" she blurted out. Impatience stained the already dark visage she threw about the room like fire. "Be still until my tale is complete!" She then continued with the telling of her story, periodically stealing a glance at her captive listeners.

The girl promptly removed her arm from the boy's shoulder.

When her story was finished the old woman leaned back in her rocking chair. Her gaze roamed over the children's faces, pausing for a moment or two on each one.

She saw Friendship and Understanding. She saw Patience and Honesty. She saw Integrity and Caring. She saw Love. All of mankind's virtues were displayed before her in the form of the children trapped in her room.

A crooked smile creased her aged face. "I can see by your expressions that I've succeeded in taking away some of your influence." Her words were thick with venom. "One more nightmare for the world to digest, and with it a little less of each of you."

     Swelling to dream up a new nightmare for the world to hear.




Rick McQuiston is a forty-eight year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He’s had nearly 400 publications so far, and written five novels, nine anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors. He’s also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School.  Currently, he’s working on his sixth novel. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017