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Coasting-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Death Orchid-Fiction by j. brooke
Orange Bikini-Fiction by Maria Espinosa
Sirens-Fiction by Jason Bougger
Death Takes a Snow Day-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Chill of a Lifetime-Fiction by Robert Aguon Perez
HIJAX-Fiction by Liz McAdams
Marriage-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Secrets-Fiction by Carole Sojka
The Ten Ten-Fiction by A. F. Knott
Losing Eileen-Fiction by Marci McKim
Snake Dog-Fiction by Catfish McDaris
My Heart Will Always Be Yours-Fiction by Jon Park
Unicorn-Fiction by Rob Dominelli
Call Girls-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Hollywood Harry's bar and Grill-Flash Fiction by Fred Zackel
Grandmother Nightmare-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Death Row-Flash Fiction by Luann Lewis
The Jarvis and Mae Team-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Flying Away-Flash Fiction by Jerry Vilhotti
A Note for Alex Gildzen-Poem by Mark Young
Spoiled-Poem by Chad Haskins
Recognized-Poem by Michael Keshigian
the only goodbye he deserved-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Dropping the Ball-Poem by Ian Mullins
A Song of Vengeance-Poem by Christopher Hivner
A Slip of the Tongue-Poem by Robert Halleck
Again the 11th Hour-Poem by Robert Halleck
Jack-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
singles ad Westwood Magazine-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Love is all-Poem by Meg Baird
Travelling-Poem by Meg Baird
Roxyanna-Poem by David Spicer
Wanted-Poem by David Spicer
Whataya Say?-Poem by David Spicer
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 John Lunar Richey 2018


By Jason Bougger


          Kurt tossed the shovel aside. He was finally finished. He hadn’t planned on being in the field all morning, but he couldn’t stop until the hole was at least four feet deep.

He climbed out and rolled over onto his back, completely out of breath. The trees may have blocked the road, but they provided little shelter from the sun. With no clouds in the sky, its blinding light had burned his skin. He didn’t care; he needed to rest, even if for just a few minutes.

          It was still sinking in. Ashley was dead.

And David...

David must have been in horrible pain, probably sitting in the attic smoking a cigarette hoping his parents wouldn’t notice. Maybe listening to some 90’s grunge music or 70’s acid rock. It didn’t matter. What was done was done.

Kurt sat up and reached into his pocket for his own pack of cigarettes, wondering if David could even appreciate the enormity of the favor he was doing for him.

He left the shovel lying and walked back to his car. He finished the cigarette and crushed it out on the ground as he took the keys out of his pocket. Fighting the trembling, he inserted the key into the lock.

The trunk popped open and Kurt looked at the burlap sack inside. He hesitated, hoping that he could talk himself out of uncovering her face, but he couldn’t avoid it. He uncovered just enough of Ashley to see her eyes; stopping before he could see the slit across her neck.

He could see her pleading for her life; crying and begging, unable to understand why she had to die.

He looked away, and then covered her back up. The knife was there too, in a plastic bag next to her body. He put it in his back pocket.

“One...two...three,” he lifted in one breath, trying his damnedest not to let her slip. He started down the hundred-yard trek to the hole, almost breaking out into a jog, afraid that if he stopped moving he wouldn’t be able start up again. He skidded to a halt as he reached the hole, allowing the momentum to take Ashley forward as he threw her in, almost falling in himself. He collapsed and launched a fit of coughing.

          If he was crying, he wouldn’t admit it to himself; there was too much work left to do. He picked up the shovel and started scooping dirt over her body. Not enough time had passed for the sun to start creeping behind the trees. The back of his neck started to blister and sweat dripped from every pore on his body. But he kept scooping the dirt.

          At some point, Kurt realized that he could no longer see the burlap sack. The realization of what he was doing was finally starting to sink in. Just a few hours ago, Ashley was alive. Probably laughing and watching reality shows on TLC. Now she was stuffed in burlap sack under four feet of dirt.

          After the dirt was back in the hole where it belonged, Kurt flattened as much as he could with the head of the shovel, and then found enough branches to cover up the mound.

          “What else is left?” he asked himself, picking up the knife. “The clothes.”

          Before walking back to the car to retrieve the clothing that was stained with Ashley’s blood, he walked over to a small pond not too far away from the grave. He aimed for the center of the pond and threw the knife. It made a perfect landing.

          Cursing himself for taking so long to finish and forgetting to grab the clothes earlier, he went back to the trunk of the car and took the duffle bag from the back seat. “Time for another smoke,” he said and lit one. He saw the cigarette butt left over from his previous one, picked it up, and put it in his pocket.

          He returned to the lake and opened the duffle bag. Inside with the bloody clothing was a bottle of lighter fluid. He lit it up and waited until the bag was sufficiently burnt, then tossed its remains into the lake.

          He walked back to the makeshift gravesite and said goodbye to Ashley one last time. “I’m sorry this had to happen, Ashley.” Bowing his head, he said a short prayer.


The front door to the house was unlocked. Kurt went in and then walked to David's room. "It's over."

"Good," David said, without looking up from his smartphone.

Kurt lingered at the doorway for moment, then asked, "Why did you kill her?"

That time David did look up from his phone. "Let me ask you something. Did you love her?"


David chucked. "It's okay. She's dead. No hard feelings."

"I don't under--"

"Serious. No hard feelings. Not anymore."


David waved him off. "Hey, let me ask you something else. When you were burying her, did you remember to turn off the deer cam?"

Kurt blinked. "What are you talking about?"

"You know, the motion sensor. Uh, yeah, maybe I forgot to tell you about that. I was probably too preoccupied with the fact that my best friend was fucking my girlfriend."

"You...you knew?" Kurt asked.

David held up his phone. "Check it out. There you are, burying her body. It was so easy to send the video to the police. They're actually on the way right now."

"You're joking."

David shrugged. "Sorry, dude. I forwarded the video and texted 911 when you got here. You probably don't have a lot of time."

Kurt turned to flee as he heard the sirens approaching.

Jason’s short stories have appeared in over twenty-five markets, including Devilfish Review and Mad Scientist Journal. His YA novel, Holy Fudgesicles, was published in 2015 by Wings ePress. In addition to his own writing, he is the owner and editor of Theme of Absence, an online magazine of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He also runs WriteGoodBooks.com, a blog and podcast for new and aspiring writers.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017