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The Hunter-Fiction by Sebnem Sanders
Back in the Day-Fiction by A. F. Knott
Red Velvet, White Lies-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Headhunters-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Holiday Season-Fiction by Don Stoll
Milky Way Galaxy. Solar System. Earth.-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Angel-Fiction by Gary Clifton
Backpage Baby-Fiction by Robb White
Elegant on the Outside-Fiction by Bruce Costello
A Life Examined-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Run, Baby, Run-Fiction by J. Brooke
The Pursuit of Presley Penguin-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Neighbors-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Strange Attractors-Fiction by Jeff Houlahan
The Ghost of Christmas Never-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Best Enemies Forever-Flash Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Glitter in the Dark-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
Spirit Intoxicating Babe in the Woods-Flash Fiction by Monique Saier
My Only Christmas Story-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Ode to Old Brooklyn-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Bacardi Taillights Machine Gun Farewell-Poem by John Short
Pearl Diver-Poem by Wayne F. Burke
Abandoned Sofas-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Kafka Museum-Poem by Henry Bladon
Elegy for Frank-Poem by David Spicer
Schmoozy-Woozy-Poem by David Spicer
Dangerous-Poem by Marc Carver
Eternal-Poem by Marc Carver
The Race has Just Begun-Poem by J.J.Campbell
The Endless Nightmare-Poem by J. J. Campbell
The Last Word-Poem by Meg Baird
Vision of Steel-Poem by Meg Baird
Zen-Poem by Meg Baird
Estrangement-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
First World Herd-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Christmas Morning in an East Hollywood Hovel-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
A Season of Bailing Wire and Duct Tape-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
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 Hillary Lyon © 2019

Red Velvet, White Lies


Hillary Lyon




I cupped both of my ample breasts to adjust them in my new red velvet bikini bra. I turned sideways and grinned: I liked what I saw, and was certain my boyfriend of six months, Robbie, would like it even more. He was always so appreciative of my fun-time outfits; telling me on many occasions that being with me was “such a luxury”—words every new girlfriend loves to hear.

This is going to be the best Christmas Eve ever! I gleefully promised myself. I grabbed my hairbrush and ran it through my long wheat-blonde hair; hair so shiny it looked like satin, in the right light. And I always made sure the right lights are on whenever Robbie comes over.

When Robbie comes over, I mused, he’ll get two delightful Christmas presents. I opened the center drawer of my dresser and pulled out a flat box wrapped in jolly holiday paper. The lid was wrapped separately, for easy opening. I lifted off the top to admire the gift inside—a shiny switchblade, which opens with the press of a hidden button. He once mentioned how cool it would be to have one, but those knives were illegal to buy in this state. It so happened, though, that my Aunt Bertie lives in Arizona, where they are legal, and she was more than happy to buy one for me. I paid a little extra to get Robbie’s initials engraved in the handle.

And what would Robbie give me for Christmas? It was too soon—way too soon—for an engagement ring. But maybe something along the lines of a real gold bangle bracelet, or an eye-catching necklace—something that said, taken. I set the boxed gift aside. Now, to pick out just the right lipstick—

There came an insistent knock at my front door, interrupting my lipstick picking. Probably old Mrs. Grady from across the hall, I predicted. Always needs help with her TV settings, or wants to borrow some little something—

The knocking continued, more urgent now. I glanced at the clock on my nightstand. It wouldn’t be Robbie, he wouldn’t be here until 7, and it was only 6:30. He was never early. I snatched my chiffon kimono off the bed, threw it on over my sexy Santa suit, and clutching it together with one hand, opened the front door. It was Robbie.

“Well,” I said, surprised but happy. “Somebody couldn’t wait to see what Santa brought ‘em.” I smiled and ran my tongue across my lips. I let the kimono fall open. “Get your bad self in here, you naughty elf!” I stood aside, posing with a hand on my out-thrust hip, allowing him into my apartment. He pushed his way through without even looking at me. Puzzled, I closed the door and watched as he threw himself down on the sofa.

I sashayed around the sofa, positioning myself right in front of him. In a sultry, sing-song voice, I crooned, “Hey, handsome, time to open presents!” I let the kimono slide off my shoulders and land in a soft pile around my feet.

Robbie didn’t respond right away—but when he finally did, he hoarsely muttered, “We have to talk—” Not what a girl wants to hear on her first Christmas with her brand-spankin’ new boyfriend. I swallowed hard, but smiled brightly to cover my growing anxiety.

“Sure, honey,” I said warily, sitting down on the opposite end of the sofa.

“Thing is—I haven’t been honest with you. There’s something going on in my life—and I need to let you know about it.”

Robbie looked away from me and into some vague scene on the other side of the den. “You know, I’m fond of you—” here he sighed dramatically, “but—there’s someone else—who’s been in my life a long time—we have a history—our families have known each other since we were little kids, and—”

I crossed my arms defensively, and opening the calendar in my head, recalled all the days and nights he suddenly canceled our dates, or was inexplicably unavailable. Our get-togethers always revolved around his schedule, not mine. The color rose hotly in my cheeks; how could I have been so stupid?

“. . . hard enough for me to come over here—to tell you in person.” Before continuing, he straightened his back and thrust out his chin. “I made this mess, and I’m going to fix it.”

“What?” I hadn’t heard half of what he’d been saying, because I knew it wasn’t good—but I had the gist of it. Anyway, what was the point of hearing these poisonous details? On Christmas Eve, too, when we should’ve been drinking champagne, eating the little quiches I’d baked for the occasion, and romping—

After a long, nerve-deadening silence, Robbie finally turned to look me in the eye, and blurted out, “I’m engaged.” 

“Since when?” was all I could manage to mumble. I felt sick to my stomach.


“Since before I met you.” He turned away from my disbelieving stare. “I always meant to tell you, I really did, but things were so—so delirious with you. I couldn’t. Being with you was like being high—we were wild and uninhibited—”

I stared out the window of my small apartment as his words rushed out. The falling snow outside, I realized, looked very much like static falling across Mrs. Grady’s TV screen when the tuner was out of sync. It dawned on me that I would need to make a serious adjustment to right this situation. Like an unthinking automaton, I rose from the sofa and walked towards the bedroom, while Robbie prattled on. “. . . and being with my fiancé, with Denise, is—well, she’d seem plain and boring to you—but she grounds me.”

I stopped at the door, and looking over my shoulder, softly said, “We must exchange gifts. It’s Christmas Eve—didn’t you tell me it’s tradition in your family to open one special present on Christmas Eve?” As I disappeared through the shadowy doorway, Robbie called out.

“We don’t have to do that—it’s probably not a good idea.” He was determined not to follow me into the bedroom, because he was weak, and we knew what that would lead to. But, damn, I did look delicious in that freaky Santa bikini. He grabbed a throw pillow, and put it over his growing bulge. “Look, I didn’t get you anything, but maybe—” Maybe, I knew his hedonistic side urged, maybe just one more tumble between the sheets. A sort of carnal fare-thee-well; I’d heard of other guys doing that when breaking up—

I returned with that slim box wrapped in festive paper. “Here, this is for you.” I didn’t meet his eyes. He took the gift, opened the box, and I could tell by his expression he was thinking, was this some sort of joke? He picked up a silvery tube of lipstick nestled in the padding within. He tossed both the box and lipstick onto the floor. Before he could comment, I snuggled up next to Robbie, and held up the polished wooden handle of my Christmas surprise. He barely noticed; his mind now being on other things—mainly, getting me into bed one last time. He leaned in close to nuzzle my neck, smell my hair. He inhaled deeply, relaxed, and closed his eyes in anticipation. Before he could suggest what we both knew he would, I pushed the small button on the device in my hand. In the blink of an eye, a sharp, slender blade clicked open and I slipped that keen assassin between his fourth and fifth ribs, right underneath his sternum. I pulled it out just as quickly.

In a panic, Robbie stood up unsteadily, intent on making his escape out the front door. He failed and stumbled, crashed into my Christmas tree, and crushed some of the presents I’d placed beneath it. Furious at the mess he’d caused, and full of righteous indignation, I stood over him, baring my teeth. I looked down on Robbie as he rudely bled out all over my hand-crafted Christmas tree skirt and assorted presents for my nieces and nephews. I wiped the blood-smeared switchblade clean on my bikini bottom, then waved the knife like a fairy-godmother waves her wand, breaking the spell of intoxicating infatuation I’d been under, once and for all. I bent over, close to Robbie's blanching face, and said through a smile that was more of a sneer:

“Now it’s my turn to open up a present.” I ripped his shirt front open, popping all the buttons, baring his trembling, leaking torso. The switchblade in my hand glittered colorfully beneath the Christmas tree’s blinking lights. “Let’s see what Santa brought me—”

Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2019