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Written by Slade Stevens-Fiction by Chris Alleyne
Slaying the Siren-Fiction by Dionisio Traverso, Jr.
An Education-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Don't Move-Flash Fiction by Pam Ebel
Fashion Statement-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
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Hunter-Poem by Harris Coverly
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Matilda-Poem by John Grey
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The Head-Poem by John Grey
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

88_ym_dontmove_amr.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2021

Don’t Move

 

by Pamela Ebel

 

Fear has a distinct odor. Visceral. Invasive. That odor hung in the hot, humid, October air of the Spice Island Swamp Game Reserve. The animals there knew instinctively that in three weeks they would be hunted again by those carrying guns as the season opened, and that produced fear.

Angie walked gingerly through the dried leaves that covered the reserve’s floor. She could smell the fear, looked carefully for the source of it, but saw no animals. Steve moved quietly behind her. She stopped and turned around.

“Come up and walk with me. You said we’d have a nice trail walk. So far I’ve been alone up here.”

Steve stopped, the shotgun on his shoulder, and considered his wife. He offered her a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

“I’m here to scope out where the deer cross the stream. You just keep walking and if you see something interesting, let me know.”

The smell of fear grew stronger as Angie turned and started walking again. Their conversations had become increasingly tense since her oil paintings had found collectors who paid handsomely for her work. 

“Guess you don’t need my money anymore because some idiots are paying for paintings?” 

“That’s not true. You’re a successful architect and I have always appreciated your support. All of my earnings go into our joint account. It’s all ours.”

Still, he spoke less, sulked more, and bought more guns. Just a month before, they had taken a trip to a barrier reef in the gulf. She had waded in the cool water, enjoying the breeze.

Suddenly Steve had yelled, “Don’t move!”

He fired his rifle into the water, bullets just barely missing Angie.

“What are you doing?”

“Sharks! They’re all around you.”

He stopped when a boat with fishermen appeared. Neither Angie nor the fishermen saw sharks. Steve shrugged and smiled.

Now as she walked, with Steve still behind her, Angie realized that the odor of fear was coming from herself. She started to tell him she was going back to the car to get the picnic lunch ready.

“Plop!”

Something heavy fell from the tree behind her. Angie heard a rustling sound on the ground and then:

“Don’t move!”

The rustling grew closer, and the head of the water moccasin appeared two feet from her. It eyed her but kept moving toward the bank of the stream. She heard Steve behind her, closer now. The snake paused and then leapt in the air and cut in front of her.

“BOOM!”

The sound of the shotgun blast deafened her hearing. Dirt and buckshot swirled around and cut her skin. The odor of her fear made her nauseous. The moccasin raced to stream and disappeared in the dark water.

“What are you doing? You could have killed me! What were you thinking?” Fear turned to anger as she stared into Steve’s eyes. “That snake was headed for the water. He wasn’t any threat to me.”

“Only good snake is a dead snake. And if I had wanted to kill you . . .” He shrugged and smiled. “Come on, I think I see deer tracks on that bank where the snake went in.”

He walked by her and sniffed the air.

“Strong odor. That’s what hunted animals smell like, you know.”

Angie stayed rooted to the ground and watched as her husband walked to the bank, got down on all fours, laying the shotgun next to him, and looked for deer tracks.

A movement in the tree above him caught her eye. The moccasin was moving slowly and quietly down the trunk.

“When I come to kill that buck next month, I’m bringing you with me so you can paint something worthwhile. What do you think about that?”

The moccasin continued down the tree and onto a branch hanging directly over Steve’s neck. It turned to look at her, nodded, then turned back, opened its huge cotton mouth and let the fangs slip forward.

“Aren’t you going to say something?”

As the moccasin started to drop, Angie whispered,

“Don’t move.”

 

Pamela Ebel has been published in Shotgun Honey, The BOULD AWARDS 2020 Anthology, as well other venues. Her poetry has appeared in the Delta Poetry Review. A native of California, she now concentrates on tales from her original home state and tales from the highways of the South. She also knows, like the Ancient Greeks and the Irish, that as a southern writer you can’t outrun your blood.

She has turned to writing full time as of 2020, obviously either perfect or bizarre timing, and this will be her fifth career. She lives in Metairie, Louisiana, with her husband and two cats.


Ann Marie Rhiel is the Assistant Art Director for Yellow Mama Webzine. She was born and raised in Bronx, New York, presently living in New Jersey. She reconnected with her passion for art in 2016 and has had her work exhibited in art galleries around northern New Jersey ever since. She is a commissioned painting artist, who also enjoys photography. Her work has also appeared in Black Petals and Megazine Official.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021