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Better Than Nightmares-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Page One Four One-Fiction by A. F. Knott
The Devil You Know-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Cabin Fever-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ramona's House-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Visitation-Fiction by Henry Simpson
The Night Driver and the Injured Man-Fiction by Roy Dorman
They Both had Guns-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
The Earl of Redcrest-Fiction by Ashley Bailey
Black Cat-Fiction by Stephen Tillman
A Place for Grandpa-Fiction by Paul Smith
Away from Home-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Dolls-Fiction by R. Peralaz
Bright Eyes-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Heart Attack-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
A Turn for the Worse-Flash Fiction by Maria Espinosa
Rain-Flash Fiction by J. Brooke
Specter-Poem by Chad Haskins
Blue Ghost-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Unfathomable Rhapsody of Psychosis-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Late, Late-Poem by J. L. Hoy
One for the Road, I Guess-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
Edge of Nowhere-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Summit-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Three Tenses-Poem by Meg Baird
Caution-Poem by Meg Baird
Honeysuckle Breeze-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Old Crow and I-Peom by ayaz daryl nielsen
Moments-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Developing Land-Poem by Alan Catlin
Sideshow Freaks-Poem by Alan Catlin
Insomnia-Poem by Alan Catlin
Without-Poem by John Grey
Graveyard Stroll-Poem by John Grey
The Two of Us-Poem by John Grey
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

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Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2018

CABIN FEVER

 

1970

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

 

 “Camping?” Mom wailed. Mary shivered.

 “Stan!” Mom yelled after Pop, who walked faster. Lenny’s, he was headed, for more beer. “Stanley, come back!”

 “It’s not really camping,” Mary said. “We’ll be in Noreen’s folks’ cabin. Not out in a tent.”

 Noreen was her most genius friend, with the strictest dad. Mary hoped Mom pictured them reading by flashlight. Too into their books to get mauled by bears. 

 “Camping!” Mom sat down, lit a Virginia Slim. “In October! The woods, at night, with bugs. And wild animals.”

 “We’ll stay inside,” Mary said, “and read.”

 Her heart raced. Except for Christmas at her aunt’s, she never went away. Or even slept on a bed. Just that shabby, old couch. In the cabin there’d be cots.

 On The Brady Bunch, they had sleepovers. None of Mary’s friends even came over. Once Noreen tried, but Mom stopped her at the door. “Mary’s doing her homework,” Mom had lied. “Have you done yours?”

 Mary had the weirdest parents of any eighth grader at St. Peter’s. Maybe in the world.

 “Noreen Flynn?” Mom said, suddenly. “With frizzy red hair? The smart one?” Mary cringed. 

The door opened, and they heard Pop stumble in. 

“Her dad,” Mary whispered, “says whiskey’s the ‘devil’s lemonade.’”

***

It was chilly, up at the lake. Mary was so fat, she wore Pop’s bulky winter jacket. Old beer, it smelled like, from Lenny’s. 

“Years back, he drank,” Noreen said, about her dad. Over the firepit, they toasted marshmallows. “But not anymore.”

“How come?” Mary said.

Noreen peered nervously behind her, at the cabin. “Something bad happened.”

 The marshmallows smelled so good, Mary’s stomach growled. She shrugged off Pop’s jacket.

 “He hurt my mom. . . . And then me.” Noreen rubbed her arm, but it was too dark to see the scar. The fire’s glow made her hair even redder.

 “Wow,” Mary said.

“Now he’s into church. But not ours. The fire-and-brimstone kind.”

 In the window, Mr. Flynn sat, watching them eat marshmallows. Since they drove up that afternoon, he hadn’t smiled once. Or said much, not even to Noreen’s mom. Mrs. Flynn seemed scared of him. She looked like a grown-up, worn-out Noreen.

 At dinner, she’d served them hot dogs with fruit cups and string beans. Canned vegetables? Mary’s mom would’ve said.

 “Would you like some more?” Mrs. Flynn whispered. Mary was afraid to say yes.

 Now, from behind her, Mary heard a car coming. Loud voices. Music blaring: The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.”

 Behind the window, Mr. Flynn seemed to stiffen more.

 “Man!” one guy said, “This place is groovy.”

 “Watch out!” said a girl. “I’m spillin’ my beer.”

 Giggles, as the loudmouths got out of the car. Without turning around, Mary knew there were at least four. And, like Pop would’ve said, “shit-faced.” 

And not just from “Devil’s Lemonade.”

The smell made Mary’s head spin. Sweet smoke that tickled her nostrils. Hippies, she thought. Hippies smoked those druggie cigarettes.

Mr. Flynn burst out of the cabin. “Get inside!” he said.

Noreen scrambled to her feet. Mary turned and saw a dirty-haired girl stick her tongue out.

The girl wore a tie-dyed T-shirt, with no bra, so her nipples pointed right at Mr. Flynn. Laughing maniacally, she pulled up her shirt.

Mr. Flynn’s eyes narrowed.

Around them, the hippie guys laughed with the girl. One lit up a fresh joint, then held it out to Mr. Flynn.

“Mary!” Noreen yelled from the cabin door. Mary watched Mr. Flynn clench and unclench his fists.

When Noreen grabbed her, Mary was jolted back to life. They ran as fast as they could into the cabin.

Over the kitchen sink, Mrs. Flynn was crying. “Go to bed,” she said. “Just . . . go to bed.”

***

Mary couldn’t sleep. The cot was as hard as the couch, back home. She had to fold the thin pillow in two.

Noreen hadn’t spoken since they went to bed. Mary bet she knew something bad was coming. That even without drinking, Mr. Flynn was dangerous.

Would he hurt me, too? Mary shivered. Pop never hit her, no matter how drunk he got.

She’d just dozed off when the screams started.

Outside, the air was bright orange. The stench of burned flesh and hair made Mary gag. Noreen beat her to the window.

Inside the pit, the hippie girl was on fire. Her friends scuffled around; one grabbed a bucket, one tried beating off the flames with Mary’s Pop’s jacket. One pounded on the Flynn’s cabin. “Help!” he said, hoarsely. “Please! Help!”

“Noreen?” Mary begged. Noreen just shook her head.

Nobody answered the door.

Later, an ambulance and red-faced sheriff showed up. “We’re deep sleepers,” Mr. Flynn told the sheriff.  Mrs. Flynn looked away.

The foul stench was still in the air. Huddled together, the hippie guys watched them get in the Flynns’ car.

The drive home took way longer than the drive up. Without Pop’s jacket, Mary hugged herself for warmth. She felt hollow, soulless. Like she would never smile again.

But Mr. Flynn smiled, all the way home.

 

 

Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, and Twisted Sister. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights activist.

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Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2018

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018