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Christmas with Stanley-Fiction by Robert Kokan
Gravedigger Sunrise-Fiction by Zach Wilhide
Billy at One O'clock-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Christine's Tune-Fiction by Andrew J. Kolarik
Paid in Full-Fiction by Bill Baber
Is Today the Day?-Fiction by Thomas X. Cross
Dead Bodies Everywhere-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Murphy's Law-Fiction by Edward Ahern
The Ghost in the Factory-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
Communication Breakdown-Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
So Long, and Thanks for All the Texts-Fiction by Jay Adair
Time-Share-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
It's Xmas and Maureen Feels Like Death Warmed Over-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Uncle Andrew-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
In a Nearby Church-Flash Fiction by Bethany Cody
What Happened after His Head Oozed-Flash Fiction by Michael Dioguardi
Prospero's Last Party-Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Doyle
Slick-Poem by David Spicer
Word Cruncher-Poem by David Spicer
The Life that Lives on Man-Poem by John Short
Pet Shop Story-Poem by John Short
dear tom-Poem by Meg Baird
the canvas-Poem by Meg Baird
A Killing-Poem by Ian C. Smith
Green Grass-Poem by Ian C. Smith
No Joke-Poem by Ian C. Smith
a soft landing-Poem by JJ Campbell
going through the motions-Poem by JJ Campbell
the shotgun still rests in the corner-Poem by JJ Campbell
an earthy affair-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
death loves the deep-space pirate-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
robotic mistress-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A November Morning-Poem by John D. Robinson
Hard & Heavy-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Storm-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Earth Keeps Sabbath-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Obituary-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Rock Whisperings-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Longing-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
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



Roy Dorman


The insistent knocking on the door continued. 

Or had it stopped and then started again?

“Just a minute,” Billy Fitzpatrick mumbled.  His head hurt and the dried blood in his eyes made seeing difficult. He rolled a body off him, somebody who was either unconscious or dead, and struggled to a shaky standing position.

He opened the door a crack to see his neighbor from across the hall, Candy something or other, standing there looking expectant and a little worried.

She was wearing a red Santa’s elf hat that complimented her pained expression.

“There’s blood on your face,” she said.

“Yeah, so what?” said Billy.  “Go away; I’m busy.”

“I bet you are,” said Candy.  “I could help.”

An hour ago, Billy had come in from Happy Hour at The Thirsty Troll and had been ambushed by someone who’d accessed his room. 

He was only in town for a week or two, and rented a place at a small rooming house off Kedzie in a residential neighborhood near Irving Park.

Billy was in The Windy City for a job.

The intruder had been behind his door and Billy somewhat dodged the first blow, taking it on the shoulder.  He managed to draw his .38 and get off two wild shots just as the second blow came down onto his forehead.

He’d awakened to the knocking on his door and what he now knew was a dead man lying across his legs.

“I don’t think you can help me with what I gotta do,” said Billy.

“Ya got a dead body in there, don’tcha,” said Candy.  “I can help ya with that.  I already did help ya some, ya know.”

“Oh, yeah?  And just how did ya already help me?”  Billy still hadn’t opened the door any further than a couple of inches.  He sensed his neighbor was the nosy type and possibly a little bit off.

“The landlord heard the shots and came upstairs to your door.  He knocked, but you didn’t answer.  I’d heard the shots too.  I came out and told him I’d used a hard cover book to try and kill a spider that was runnin’ across my floor.  I don’t think he bought it, but he left.”

“Why’d you do that?” asked Billy.  “You don’t even know me.”

“Then that nosy old Mrs. Evans poked her head out of her door and asked if somebody had been killed.”

“Ya tell her the spider story?” asked Billy, opening the door a little further.

“No, I just told her to mind her own beeswax,” said Candy with a smirk.

“Why do ya think ya could help me with a dead body?  Assuming there is a dead body, that is.  Maybe I was just killin’ spiders with a mystery novel.”

“I’m good with dead things,” said Candy.  “I’m tryin’ to learn how to bring the dead back to life.”

What a whacko, thought Billy.  And she knew too much.  He toyed with the idea of dragging her in, killing her, and dumping both bodies off the fire escape.

“….. and I’ve worked on a rat and a bunch of mice …,”

Billy really needed to sit down, have some coffee, and do something with the stiff on the floor behind him.  

Though Candy’s monologue was starting to wear on him, he was curious. 

“So, you’ve brought these animals back to life?”

“Nah.  I think they’d been dead for too long.  But that body in there has only been dead for about an hour.  I’ll give ya a hundred bucks for it; I’d like to see what I could do with a fresher body.”


According to the ID in his wallet, the deceased was one Arnie Weston from Trenton, New Jersey.  After wrapping the body in a sheet, he and Candy carried it across the hall to Candy’s room. 

“You can have the body,” said Billy.  “No charge for the first one.  Call it a Christmas present.”

“Thanks, yer a peach,” Candy grunted, struggling with her end of the bundle.

“Smells kinda funky in here,” said Billy.

“Yeah, I use air freshener, but the smell of death’s hard to get rid of.  Actually, I’ve gotten so I kinda like it.”

Billy raised his eyebrows at that.  “Well, I gotta get back and tidy up my place.  The landlord or that old biddy from down the hall might have decided to call the cops.  I’ve gotta make things presentable in case they stop by.”

“How ‘bout we have dinner tomorrow night?” asked Candy.

Billy wrinkled up his nose as he looked past her into the little kitchen.  He didn’t think he’d be able to eat anything in here with that awful smell and the new dead body now lying on a surgical table in the middle of the room.

Candy read his thoughts.  “Oh, we can go out to eat.  I’ll buy since you were nice enough to provide me with a body to mess around with.”

“I’m gonna clean up and get some sleep,” said Billy.  “I’ll stop over about 8:00 tomorrow night.”

“Cool, it’s a date,” gushed Candy.

“Candy, it is definitely not a date, okay?  We’re just having dinner.”

“Okay, but that sounds an awfully lot like a date to me,” said Candy with a playful smile.

“Women,” mumbled Billy as he went out the door.


Billy slept until noon.  There’d been no visit from the police and he was happy for that.  Of course, whoever sent Arnie Weston to kill him would probably send someone looking for his boy before too long.

He should probably do some research on his hit and get the job he was getting paid for done as soon as possible.


At 8:00 Billy opened his door to go over to Candy’s.  He still wasn’t sure about whether she was a witness he could afford to leave behind.   He stopped when he saw a big guy in a nicely tailored suit talking to her through the opening allowed by her door’s security chain.

Billy couldn’t hear what the guy was saying.  All of a sudden, the door was pushed open, tearing the cheap chain lock from the door jam.

Candy gave a shriek as her questioner barged in and closed the door after him.

Billy walked up to the door and listened.

“I want ya to go over there and, ya know, distract him for me,” said a male voice.

“Fuck you,” came Candy’s voice.  “I ain’t doin’ nothin’ for you.”

Billy pulled his .38 from his shoulder holster and quietly opened the door.

The thug’s back was to him and Billy saw that he had a sap in his hand, threatening Candy.

Candy saw Billy enter the room, but the expression on her face didn’t change one bit.  Billy was impressed with her ability to stay cool.

But then her eyes widened and she yelled, “Behind you!”

“What the —” started Billy.  Somebody used something hard on the back of his head and down he went.  As he was losing consciousness, he heard the “Pffft!, Pffft!, Pffft!” of a silencer and figured chances were he wasn’t going to wake up from this one.


Someone was gently slapping his face. 

Improbable, but true, for the second time in twenty-four hours there was what felt like a body lying on his legs.

“Wake up, Billy, we got stuff to do.”

“Who’s that?  What happened?” Billy asked without opening his eyes.  “Am I dead?”

“No, silly,” said Candy.  “Yer not dead and I’m not dead, but everybody else in here is.”

“Get this stiff off me, will ya?” groaned Billy, trying to sit up.  “Hey, did I hear gunshots before my lights went out?”

Candy rolled the body of the second wiseguy off Billy.  “That was me,” said Candy.  “You should really invest in a silencer.  It cuts down on visits from the landlord when ya have to off somebody.”

“And you ‘off somebody’ on a regular basis?”

“Nah, these are my first two.  But they say you’ll always remember your first, right?”  Candy said, waving the pistol at Billy.  “This used to belong to my old man.  He left it behind when he had to leave in the middle of the night a couple of years back —”

“Stop, already,” said Billy.  “We gotta get outta here.  Whoever sent these guys will be sending more.  That’s how it works.”

“We?” asked Candy.  “Are we a ‘we’ now?  We didn’t even have our date and now yer askin’ me to run away with you?”

“Focus, Candy,” said Billy. “My place is cleaned up.  You clean everything up in here except for the bodies.  I’m goin’ down to The Thirsty Troll and rent some muscle to help get rid of ‘em.  Then we’re gettin’ the hell outta Dodge.”

“Aye, aye, my Captain,” said Candy, giving Billy a jaunty salute.

Billy sighed and walked out.


Walking to the bar, Billy did some thinking.  Maybe instead of going to The Thirsty Troll he should just go to O’Hare and catch a flight to San Francisco.

But he still had to make his hit.  He had a reputation to maintain; he couldn’t leave a job unfinished.

He shook his head to clear it.  What had he been thinking?  Had he really thought he was going to take Candy with him?  Where in the hell had that idea come from?  Maybe he’d had too many hits to the head recently. 

She must have somehow bewitched him in his weakened state.

He’d clean up the mess, finish the job, and fly out of Chicago.  He’d let himself get distracted by Candy, but now he was back on track again.

“So you’ll get two thousand bucks for the two of ya to split,” said Billy to the hired help from The Thirsty Troll.  “There’s four bodies, all in one room, and they go to the landfill.  You said you’ve done this before and there better not be any slip-ups.  I don’t expect those bodies to ever be found.  Got it?”

The three took a cab to borrow a truck from a friend of one of the two and then headed back to Billy’s place.


Billy led Frank and Lester down the hall to Candy’s door.  He took his .38 from its holster.  He still had Candy to deal with.  He’d use her pistol.  She was right about the silencer; there’d already been enough loud gunshots in the building.

“I thought ya said there was four bodies,” said Frank.  “I only see three.”

“There’s a woman I gotta take care of; she’s the fourth,” said Billy.  “Maybe she went out for a minute.”

“Right behind you, Billy,” said Candy, stepping into the living room from the kitchen.  “Merry Christmas.”  Before he could get a shot off at her, she shot him in the forehead and he dropped to the floor.

Frank and Lester put their hands in the air.

“Okay, now we’ve got our four bodies,” said Candy.  “And guys, there’s been a change in management.”

Candy had already removed the wallets of the three dead guys she’d been left with, and now she took Billy’s.  She had plenty of cash.

“What was Billy gonna give ya?’ asked Candy.

“He said two thousand bucks,” said Lester. 

“Yer probably lyin’, but I’ll give ya twenty-five hundred.  Christmas bonus.  What’d he say to do with ‘em?”

“We got a truck outside and the bodies are goin’ to the landfill,” said Lester.

“Sounds good,” said Candy.  “Okay, get on with it. No screw-ups or I’ll come lookin’ for ya.  Do ya believe that?”

Lester and Frank looked at the four bodies, back at Candy, and then started getting things done.

They believed it.     


Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and is the submissions editor of Yahara Prairie Lights. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in One Sentence Poems, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Theme of Absence, Drunk Monkeys, The Flash Fiction Press, Black Petals, and a number of other online magazines.


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