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Baked in the Cake-Fiction by Hilary Lyon
The Bridge is Over-Fiction by Tim Frank
Free to Leave-Fiction by Mickey J. Corrigan
Bruno-Fiction by Edward Francisco
The Sicilian Doctor's Tale-Fiction by Paul Smith
Money Heals All Wounds-Fiction by Chris Fortunato
Flag Day-Fiction by Paul Beckman
Dance Fever Part II, Fiction by Greg Smith
Black Fedoras, Fishnet Stockings and An Old Master-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Lunar Madness-Fiction by J. Brooke
Killing Chauncey-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Dee's Sentence-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Fire Man Sings the Blues-Fiction by Terry Butler
The Sequel: My First Novel_Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Switchbacks in the Forgotten Corner-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Carnival Days 1969-Flash Fiction by Robert Kokan
Break-Flash Fiction by Martin Zeigler
Isabelle-Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
All You Young Dudes-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Irony-Flash Fiction by Betty Reich
Even the Dead Need Somewhere to Live-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Boiled Like Lobster (Not Me)-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Black Summer-Poem by Wayne F. Burke
14 Days-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Lives Alone-Poem by Kenneth James Crist
My Palimpsest-Poem by Leon Fedolfi
I Lay with Tigers-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Rushing Slowly Through a Lucid Dream with Roberto Bolano-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Dive-Poem by John Sweet
The Poem as a Bouquet of Broken Glass-Poem by John Sweet
The Projector-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Boston Common-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Along the River-Poem by Holly Day
The Voyager-Poem by Holly Day
All Points from Zermatt-Poem by Henry Bladon
Lost Letters-Poem by Henry Bladon
Black Throat-Poem by John Tustin
Working It All Out-Poem by John Tustin
The Brutality and Terror-Poem by John Tustin
A Nice Poen for a Change-Poem by Marc Carver
The Lover-Poem by Marc Carver
Metier-Poem by Marc Carver
Strangers Keep Friending Me-Poem by David Spicer
True Love-Poem by David Spicer
Rita Hayworth and Me-Poem by David Spicer
Green Lasers-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Rodeo Clown-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
My Nightmare-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
The Joker-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Hillary Lyon 2020

Baked in the Cake

Hillary Lyon



Red Velvet Cake:

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 bottle (1 oz) red food color

1 cup granulated rat poison

2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa

1 tub store-bought frosting

 * * *

“Happy birthday, Momma,” I said in saccharine tones as I placed the sheet cake on the kitchen table before her. “I made your favorite,” I added, carving out a generous slice for her, and slid it onto a balloon-themed paper plate. She clapped her hands with glee. She speared a big chunk with her fork, and shoved it greedily into her mouth. “Aren’t you gonna have some?” She mumbled through a mouthful of cake, dropping crumbs form the corners of her lips.

“Nah, you know I don’t like the taste of red food coloring.”

“This was your Daddy’s favorite, too,” she informed me, as if I didn’t already know. “I always brought him a home-made red velvet cake when I’d go visit.”

“How’d you get it past the guards?”

“Well, of course, they’d get a slice first, to be sure I hadn’t included any ‘contraband’ like drugs or—“

“Or a giant file like they use is old cartoons,” I added. She laughed at that.

“So you brought a cake every time you visited, what, like once a month?”

“Uh huh.” She cut off another big chunk of cake. “And he ate it up like it was the best thing in the world.” She looked off into an undefined distance. “Well, almost the best thing.” She chuckled, remembering some private joke between her and Dad.

“Like conjugal visits?”

“Oh, hon, we weren’t allowed those!” She put the cake in her mouth. “But your Daddy was smart, oh! so smart—” she giggled like a wicked schoolgirl. “He figured out a way for us to—” Her eyes glistened with the memory. Glistened! I had to bite my lip to hide my revulsion.

“And thus, I was conceived.”

She laughed out loud at that, open-mouthed, showing all the world a wet mouthful of blood-brown red velvet cake. She slapped the table and began to cough. Guess a bit of cake went down the wrong pipe. I walked over to the fridge to get her a glass of milk.

“He was smart, I’ll grant you that,” I said putting the cold glass down in front of her. “But not so smart as to evade arrest.”

 * * *

Later that night, I heard her gagging and retching in our bathroom. We lived in a tiny, two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in a seedy part of town. So much for Dad’s notoriety bringing us fame and fortune. Not even any offers for book deals.

I watched from the doorway until finally she noticed me out of the corner of her eye. “Oh, honey, help me. I feel so awful.” She looked so pathetic, slumped on the dirty tile floor by the toilet. So thin and pale. Cadaverous. No wonder Dad thought she was hot.

“You likely picked up a bug doing your ‘good Samaritan’ gig teaching those felons how to read,” I suggested, helping her stand.

“But those poor young men need attention, and to feel like someone cares about them—” she countered, defensively. My God! She was a prison groupie. I always suspected Dad wasn’t her first. Or her last. I walked her back to her bed and tucked her in. “I’ll open up a can of chicken soup,” I said looking at her frail, helpless form—a predator’s dream.

 * * *

1 can chicken noodle soup

1 can water

2 heaping tablespoons granulated rat poison

1 teaspoon garlic salt

 * * *

“Here, now drink this all up, Momma,” I encouraged, handing her a mug of the chicken soup. “You need to stay hydrated.” I watched her take a sip. “I added garlic salt to give it some flavor. Plus, the salt will make you more thirsty, so you’ll drink more.” I pushed her elbow, so as to move the mug of soup closer to her mouth.

She looked at me with adoration. “Sometimes,” Momma whispered hoarsely, “when I look at you, at your eyes, I swear I see your Daddy staring back at me.”

“Drink up, Ma.” She slurped the broth and noodles. I stood beside her bed, arms crossed, until she was done. “Now, you get some sleep,” I said, taking the empty mug from her. I slapped off the bedroom's light-switch. “Go to sleep.”

 * * *

Next morning I went into check on Momma, like any dutiful daughter would. And there she lay, cold and gray and not moving, not an inch.

Now it was my turn to clap my hands with glee. I skipped out to the ratty old storage shed, grabbed the can of gasoline I kept in there, just waiting for the day. For today.

I splashed that pungent accelerant all through our shoddy shack of a house, starting with Ma’s bedroom. From the top drawer of my dresser—my underwear drawer, where I keep my trinkets, like my collection of men’s wedding rings (Mom calls them my ‘souvenirs’)—I pulled out a stale pack of 20 year-old cigarettes. A brand they don’t even make anymore, but it was my Dad’s favorite. This pack, in particular, was my Dad’s last pack; the one the prison warden gave him, so he could have one final earthly pleasure before he was marched off to meet Old Sparky.

I pulled out a cigarette, lit it with a match from the box of kitchen matches, and took a deep, nauseating drag. Nasty things, cigarettes; they’ll kill ya. I laughed out loud at that, and tossed the lit cigarette onto Mom’s gasoline-soaked bed.

Whoosh! I was out of there like a jackrabbit. Gear packed and already in the car, I was a block away when in my rear-view mirror, I saw the whole place go up in flames like a glorious funeral pyre. Our lousy wood-frame house turned out to be good for something, at last.

At the first stoplight, I dug through my coat pocket for the long list I’d spent years composing. The Internet is a wonderful thing, if you know how to use it. I’d collected the names and addresses of cops, detectives, witnesses, judges, jurors—a whole small town’s worth of complicit folks, folks who needed to be punished for what they did to my Dad, and by extension, to me. I had my work cut out for me, but that was okay, I love a challenge, and—I was my father’s daughter, after all.

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 2020