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A Bad Place to Be-Fiction by Lamont A. Turner
If the World Never Knows Our Names-Fiction by Craig Fishbane
I'm Not Antonio-Fiction by Garr Parks
George's Personal Big Bang-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
When the Omen Follows You Home-Fiction by Alyson Tait
The Pie Room-Fiction by Dave Kunz
On the Matter of Hennessey-Fiction by Ed Nobody
Proud to Be a Pig-Fiction by Bob Ritchie
Marmalade and Mayhem-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Check Out-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Stanton Harbor Grocery Massacre-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Seizing Power-Flash Fiction by Tim Frank
Frog Huntin'-Flash Fiction by Gary Clifton
Best Friend Forever-Flash Fiction by Serena Jayne
Bus Stop-Flash Fiction by Jonathan Woods
Doing Without-Poem by R. Gerry Fabian
Another Day-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Don't Say You'll Play the Game If You Don't Know the Rules-Poem by David Centorbi
Why I Stopped Being Me-Poem by John Sweet
Something About Her-Poem by Meg Baird
Only the Good-Poem by James Lilley
Bill's Otherworldly Cafe Across from Cafe Bizarro-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Eating Catfish on the Bank of the Sankuru River-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Post Mortem-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Deer in the Headlights-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
I, Cartographer-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
I'll Paint You a Picture-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
beside wild roses-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
sitting quietly-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
lifetimes-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
All the Way Home-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
like a poem written-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
So There-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Sugar Wolf-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 W. Jack Savage 2021

A Bad Place to Be

Lamont A. Turner


     Sometimes you get into trouble just by living. You haven’t done a damn thing wrong, you just happened to turn down the wrong street at the wrong time and end up with your head in a noose. That’s how it was for me last Wednesday when I went looking for a place to empty my bladder and stumbled into one of our “family values” state senators with his lips exploring the neck of a woman definitely not his wife. The two of them were rubbing all over each other in an alcove off a dimly lit part of the convention hall, usually used by caterers to haul trays from the kitchen to the convention floor. It was their fault for getting sloppy, but I’d stepped in it just the same. 

     It might not have been a big deal if Maggie Taft, one of Cincinnati’s top reporters hadn’t introduced me as her boyfriend to the Senator just an hour earlier. It also wouldn’t have mattered all that much, at least not to me, if the woman with the Senator hadn’t been a witch. Instead of him trying to buy me off, I ended up finding a bag of bones nailed to my apartment door the next morning.

     I’d dealt with this particular witch before when one of the guys she’d been stringing along hired me to check her out. I’d advised him to stay away from her, but the sap couldn’t help himself. When I tried to track him down because the check he’d written me had bounced, I found him in the city morgue with his head twisted around backwards. I was more concerned with the money I was losing than how he’d ended up that way, but I had my suspicions.

     In the olden days, just leaving a hex bag on someone’s doorstep would have done the trick, scaring the recipient into submission, but these days nobody believed in witches, making a lot more work for the witch, who actually had to follow through. I knew I could expect bad things to start happening at any minute, and they did. As soon as I stepped outside, I realized I was being followed by a man named Wilson who had a grudge against me for putting a bullet in him two years before. At least I assumed he held a grudge since that bullet had lodged in his head, killing him.

     There was no mistaking him. He even had a bandage stuck on his forehead, covering the hole I’d drilled into it. The guy had been a tough customer in life, and I had no reason to believe being a zombie had softened his disposition. It would have been easy to shake him under normal circumstances, but the witch had tethered him to me with her magic. He’d follow me to the bottom of the ocean and never lose my scent.

     I thought about going somewhere public where he couldn’t act, but I wasn’t dealing with a normal killer. This guy wasn’t worried about being caught. There was a good chance he’d shoot right through a crowd to get me, shuffling off to his grave afterward without a care in the world. Then it hit me. I knew where I had to go. I just had to keep enough distance between me and him on the way there.

     Judging by the smile that died on his face when I walked in, I suspected Senator Conway wasn’t too pleased to see me. I’d remembered he owned and operated a restaurant just a few blocks from my apartment, and I’d decided to invite my undead friend along to check out the lunch special. I walked right up to Conway and laid it out for him.

     “Right now, one of your girlfriend’s hexes is following me,” I told him. “I’m pretty sure he intends to start shooting as soon as I’m in range, and he isn’t going to be worried about collateral damage. In about ten minutes, this is going to be a very bad place to be.”

     “What do you expect me to do?” he said, looking around to make sure nobody else was listening.”

     “You can call your girl and have her call him off, for starters,” I said. “After that we’ll sit down and figure out a way we can all live together.”

     “I can’t,” he stammered. “I told her I couldn’t see her anymore last night after you caught us. I doubt she’ll even answer my call.”

     That threw me. I’d assumed I was going to be killed to protect Conway’s reputation. Now I knew it was revenge. The zombie was coming for Conway, and the hex on me was just to get me here so I could get killed along with him when the bullets started flying. She just cursed me with the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I got a laugh out of that.

     “It looks like I misunderstood,” I said. “You’re the one it’s after. You need to get as far away from here as fast as you can.”

     “Where should I go?” he said, grabbing me by the shoulders.  Normally I would have knocked him down for getting so familiar, but I needed him on his feet. It was clear he’d seen what the witch could do and had no doubt he was in dire circumstances. It made me wonder if there hadn’t been more than popular appeal behind his high poll numbers.

     “Go down the street about a block and cut down the alley between the hardware store and Don’s Pharmacy. Head for the church.” I said. “He won’t be able to get you there.”

     Conway thanked me and rushed off, not bothering to grab his coat. I stood in the parking lot, watching him run off, and then waited. Two cigarettes later I heard the shots. I’d played it just right, figuring Wilson would catch up to Conway in the alley where there wouldn’t be any innocent bystanders to get in his way. Wilson had emptied his gun into Conway and then dropped, his rotted body finally crumbling under the strain the witch’s magic had put on it. I left it to the cops to figure out how a state senator ended up getting murdered by a dead man.

                                                              The End

Lamont A. Turner’s work has appeared in numerous online and print venues, including The Half That You See, Horror For Hire, Death and Butterflies, and Scary Snippets anthologies, as well as Crimeucopia, Frontier Tales, Terror House, Lovecraftania, Abandoned Towers, JitterSerial, The Realm Beyond, and Dark Dossier magazines.

W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of eight books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com).  To date, more than fifty of Jack’s short stories and over a thousand of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021