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Out of Time-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Hope-Flash Fiction by D. J. Tyrer
So Long, Sonny-Flash Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

D. J. Tyrer: Hope

ym_91_hope_s_okeefe.jpg
Art by Sean O'Keefe 2022

Hope

 

by DJ Tyrer

 

 

The weight of the soil seemed to constrict his lungs, despite the lid of the box that lay between him and it. Was he running out of air? How long had he been down here? How much oxygen could a coffin contain?

His fists slapped uselessly against the casket lid. It was nailed down tight. And the soil. . . .

The soil! He began to panic again, his screams echoing around him as the narrow space seemed to shrink in on him. Desperate, he lashed out, his feet striking the far end of the coffin. Was that movement?

He kicked again. Yes, it was loose!

The box was only simply constructed and, as he kicked, the end tore free. His feet touched nothing but air.

In the pitch blackness, he couldn’t see where it led, but he slowly wriggled his way down the length of the coffin and out into what had to be some sort of crawlspace beneath the cellar. He sobbed with relief: The idiot had buried him right up against it. There was a way out.

He rolled over onto his belly and began to crawl backwards along the low passage, feeling about himself for any way out. Then, his hands touched on a square of metal above him. He pushed up at it and it shifted free.

Slowly, awkwardly, he pulled himself up.

It was still dark, the merest hint of light diffused about him, but he recognised the smell of mould: he was in the madman’s cellar. He felt a surge of hope at the thought he’d soon make it out; he just needed to be careful, quiet. He didn’t want the man to hear him moving about below him.

Like a life-or-death game of blind-man’s bluff, he slowly fumbled his way forward in the direction he hoped the stairs lay.

Silently, he prayed he’d make it out alive.

If I do, I’ll never accept a stranger’s offer to see the John Wayne memorabilia they keep in their cellar again. Hell, not even that they keep in their front parlour.

 

#

 

In the darkness, his host watched and smiled, night-vision goggles enabling him to see his victim’s every move clearly. This one was smart, or maybe just lucky, having found his escape route. He liked to offer them that chance, allow them to feel that surge of hope before the end.

They never had a chance of winning the game; the cards were stacked against them from the start.

It was nearly time to act, bring the charade to its brutal end. He unhooked the knife from his belt and readied it for use.

 

#

 

He gave a sigh of relief. He’d found the stairs, could feel the rough wood of the steps beneath his fingers. All he had to do was climb them and slip out the rear door of the house and he was free.

He started to climb, looking forward to setting the police on the psycho.

 

 

 

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All the Petty Myths (18th Wall), and EOM: Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens CallHypnosparABnormal, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).

DJ Tyrer's website is at https://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

DJ Tyrer's Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/DJTyrerwriter/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at https://atlanteanpublishing.wordpress.com/


Sean O’Keefe is an artist and writer living in Roselle Park, NJ. Sean attended Syracuse University where he earned his BFA in Illustration. After graduation, Sean moved to New York City where he spent time working in restaurants and galleries while pursuing various artistic opportunities. After the birth of his children, Sean and family move to Roselle Park in 2015. He actively participates in exhibitions and art fairs around  New Jersey, and is continuing to develop his voice as a writer. His work can be found online at www.justseanart.com and @justseanart on Instagram.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022