Yellow Mama Archives

Janet M. Aldrich
Adhikari, Sudeep
Ahern, Edward
Aldrich, Janet M.
Allan, T. N.
Allen, M. G.
Ammonds, Phillip J.
Anderson, Peter
Andreopoulos, Elliott
Arab, Bint
Augustyn, P. K.
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Bagwell, Dennis
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de Bruler, Connor
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Drake, Lena Judith
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Duy, Michelle
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Elliott, Garnett
Ellman, Neil
England, Kristina
Erianne, John
Espinosa, Maria
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Farren, Jim
Fenster, Timothy
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Filas, Cameron
Fillion, Tom
Fisher, Miles Ryan
Flanagan, Daniel N.
Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
Francisco, Edward
Funk, Matthew C.
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reutter, g emil
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Wilson, Tabitha
Woodland, Francis
Young, Mark
Yuan, Changming
Zackel, Fred
Zafiro, Frank
Zapata, Angel
Zee, Carly
Zimmerman, Thomas





Janet M. Aldrich



I lift my candle and begin the descent down the twisting staircase. In the limited light, it seems to go on forever, down and down and down and I move slowly, unsure of my footing.


The walls shift and flicker with the flame of the candle and the shadows are dance partners, moving with me as I continue this surreal journey. I’m not sure where I am, or where I’m going, only that down seems to be the only way to go. I cannot see walls beyond the circle of light and I’m not even sure what the staircase is made of—and I realize that wherever I am, my glasses are not here.


A final turn of the stairs and I am above a landing, brightly lit. I kill the candle, snuffing it with a quick pinch and peer around my new environment.  There appears to be no exit except another set of stairs, going down.


I sigh and relight my candle from a lantern, set on a pedestal in the center of the room, and begin again, down stairs that do not spiral but turn at right angles, five steps down and turn, five steps down . . .


Stumbling, I miss a step and stagger, plummeting ungracefully to the next turn—which isn’t there. I fall and fall—dropping the candle, grasping for a handhold that never comes. I jerk, I twitch . . .


. . . And I awake, in bed, but not my bed, in a cold, dark room.  Barely visible on the nightstand is a candle, with a single match. I light the candle and get out of bed. 


Opening the door, I am on a landing, at the top of a spiral staircase, and there is nowhere to go but down. . . .





An Absolute Doll


by Janet Aldrich


Just as the old lady snipped the last thread, the phone rang.

She reached around and lifted the old-fashioned handset. No modern inconveniences for Miss Evelyn. "Yes?"

"Mrs. Evelyn Thurgood? This is Lee, calling from ScreenerService. We need to verify someone who worked or works for you as a paid helper."

"Oh, of course." She held the phone between her jaw and shoulder as she held up two different shades of embroidery floss and contemplated them. Behind her, dolls sat on every available surface.

"Well, this person's name is Sheila Embry. She says she worked for you beginning in 2003 and is still working for you, now."

"Yes, yes! Sheila is a charming lady; you know, it's very hard to find good help, people who will stick around and be loyal and helpful." She decided on the floss she held in her left hand and laid the other one down. "But Sheila, well, she’s special. She's an absolute DOLL!"

"Would you recommend her for another position?"

"Now, perhaps I would, although I believe we've come to an agreement about her not leaving. Though . . ." Miss Evelyn's pauses were more eloquent than her speech. She threaded her needle as she waited for a response.

"Yes, ma'am. Though . . ."

"Oh, I shouldn't complain, I guess, but she did tend to get a leetle bit too caught up in that Hindernet thing, but I suppose that's something younger people do today. Why, she didn't even hear me when I would ask her for something! Can you imagine?"

"Well, ma'am . . ."

"Well, nothing. I cut off that Hindernet right away. She was a bit upset, but she calmed down when I expressed myself. Is that all you needed?"

"I don't suppose you can verify her Social Security Number?"

Miss Evelyn waved her hand in the air as if her caller could see her. "Laws, no! Why, I don't bother with such things. Either a person's right for the job or they're not."

"Yes, ma'am. Thank you for talking with me today. I guess that's all I need."

"Well, you're right welcome." She hung up the phone decisively.

Looking around the room, she thought that she'd answered the woman just right. I did cut off the Hindernet. Just not the usual way, I guess.

The severed computer cables still lay where they had fallen when she had chopped through them. A handmade Raggedy Ann doll stared blankly at the cables as she leaned against a priceless Madame Alexander collectable.

She spoke to her companion. "Now, stop those tears. You're going to make the colors on the floss run."

The other woman rocked back and forth slightly, the bright red embroidery that covered and sealed her lips was styled in a macabre smile that was contradicted by the pain and fear in her eyes. She shifted her feet, and the chain around her ankle jingled.

"You aren't going to try to leave me again, are you, Sheila?"

Mutely, the woman shook her head.

"That's good. Now let's try to put some roses in those cheeks, shall we?"

The elderly lady picked up some seamstress's chalk and drew a bright blue circle on her companion's face, picked up the threaded needle and began to sew.



Janet Aldrich has been writing since she was 6. She loves mysteries and horror and most of her work is in these two genres.  She was previously published here in Yellow Mama, with her story "Mobius." She lives in NE Ohio and is married, no kids.

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