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Venom!: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
A Case of Paracosm: Fiction by Bruce Costello
There's More then One Way to Catch a Bank Robber: Fiction by Roy Dorman
My Addie: Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Trans/Figure: Fiction by Michael Steven
Secretary to a Serial Killer: Fiction by Robert Jeschonek
The Big Well: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Sooter: Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Heidi: Fiction by Tony Ayers
A Spider Among the Flies: Fiction by Gary Earl Ross
He Wore a Purple Heart Inside a Gray Uniform: Fiction by John C. Mannone
So Bright They Were, So Bright: Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Coyote-Murder-House: Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Spring Cleaning: Flash Fiction by Mikki Aronoff
Chuck Cody: Flash Fiction by Fred Zackel
While My Mother Dreams of Judge Judy: Flash Fiction by Tina Barry
Snoopy: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Afternoon on the Beach: Poem by Elizabeth Zelvin
crowbars and middle fingers: Poem by Rob Plath
Lavender: Poem by Cindy Rosmus
Insouciant: Poem by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Fire: Poem by Bernice Holtzman
7 ways of Seeing a Scar: Poem by Jack Garrett
Freddy on 14th Street: Poem by Jack Garrett
Peace, Baby: Poem by Meg Baird
The Light: Poem by Meg Baird
The lunatic equation and the lemon revolution: Poem by Partha Sarkar
A knife with three wheels: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Belle in the Bottom: Poem by g emil reutter
Glint: Poem by g emil reutter
Marathon Key: Poem by Damon Hubbs
Pretzels: Poem by Damon Hubbs
Times Argus: Poem by Damon Hubbs
Phillip: Poem by John Doyle
The Indiscretion: Poem by John Doyle
The Sadness and Beauty of Car Boot Sales: Poem by John Doyle
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Pamela Ebel: Venom!

Art by Hillary Lyon © 2023


Pamela Ebel


“You did what? John, how could you?”

“Why the big fuss, Jan? I ran into Bob Harris downtown yesterday and he mentioned he thought our wedding anniversary was coming up. Remembered being my Best Man and that wild Bachelor Bash, he gave me.  I told him about the party and gave him the date and time. So, he and Chris got a divorce. Half of our friends from the early days are divorced. This is my anniversary party too, and I don’t feel right about not having him come. I know it will be a bit difficult with Holly coming, but we’re adults Jan, not teenagers.”

“What do you mean ‘with Holly coming?’ Surely that asshole isn’t planning to drag that woman to our gathering. You should have asked me first. Christine is still coming to terms with Bob cheating on her, and with their son’s college professor! Bob even told her that he found someone more his ‘intellectual equal.’ Chris has always struggled with not getting her degree like the rest of us.”

“Well, if she hadn’t gotten herself pregnant in our freshman year…”

“I’m sorry, John. I thought it took two people to make a baby. I never heard Bob suggest Christine raped him!”

“God, I wish you hadn’t started taking that Feminist History course.  Just get a grip and plan the party. Bob is going to announce his engagement to Holly Sutter then! I am going to be late for work.”

An hour after her husband left, Jan called Christine.

“Hey Chris, how you doing this morning?”

“Pretty well today. Just got back in from my run and headed to the yoga class you recommended. I also need to go look for a dress for your party. I bet you’re getting excited.”

“Well, the party is the reason I’m calling. John invited Bob without telling me. He also said Bob wants to bring Holly Sutter and announce their engagement!”

There was total silence from Christine.

“Chris, are you all right? Are you still there? Say something, please!”

“Jan, I just can’t face him and that woman and our friends so soon. It has only been three months since the final decree. Everyone will know how long his relationship was going on and thinking how stupid I am. I can’t talk right now.”

After hanging up with Jan, Christine dialed a long-distance number.

“You have reached the home of Dr. Sue Richardson. Please leave your name, number and a brief message and I will return your call as soon as possible.”

“It’s your Sissy Chrissy, Suzie Q. I’m having a really bad day and I need to talk to you. Bob is going to marry that Sutter woman soon. Please call me!”

Two weeks later, when the research group she was leading in the Congo got back to cell reception, Sue Richardson heard the message. After several calls she reached her sister’s friend Jan, who shared the events of the day the message was left.

“I called her all day, Dr. Richardson. Finally, I asked her son to please go check on her. He found Chris in the bedroom with the empty sleeping pill bottle. We didn’t know how to reach you. The funeral was two weeks ago. I am so sorry.”

Six months later, Dr. Sue Richardson stood in the front yard of her new house, watching the moving truck depart.

“Hello there!”

She turned to see a petite, lithe woman approaching from the house next door.

“Hello! I wanted to be the first to welcome you to the neighborhood. I’m Professor Holly Sutter. I didn’t notice anyone else. Are you married?”

“I’m Dr. Sue Richardson, and no, I am not married.”

Sutter looked disappointed.

“You’re a doctor? What’s your specialty?”


“I beg your pardon? Did you say snakes?”

“Yes. I just took a position with the local zoo. I am a herpetologist and will be upgrading the reptile and amphibian exhibit and improving the local display.”

“We don’t have snakes in this area! I have lived here for five years and I have never seen a snake!” Sutter looked down at the ground as she spoke.

“Well, perhaps you haven’t seen any, but we are only a few miles from the Shell Bayou Wildlife Reserve that has a wonderful gathering of snakes.”

Sutter offered a brief welcome wish and left.

A month later, Professor George Bradley drove up to Sutter’s house. She had recently announced the end of her engagement to Bob Harris and her plan to marry Bradley after his divorce was final. Mrs. Crowley, who lived across the street, told Sue that Bradley was the fifth man in five years to leave his wife for Sutter, who dumped all the others after their divorces.

Bradley smiled broadly as he exited his car with a huge bouquet of red roses.

“Is this a special day, with roses, professor?”

“Extra-special. I moved up our marriage date to coincide with our Thanksgiving break. Holly has been procrastinating. But not anymore. Wish me luck.”

Sue nodded as he headed for the front door. Luck won’t help you, she thought and turned back to her Halloween decorations.

Shortly after, she heard yelling and watched as Bradley came out the front door, waving to an ambulance pulling up in Sutter’s driveway.

“Hurry, she’s in the jacuzzi in the back yard. I can’t get a pulse!”

Within minutes police cars and the coroner’s van filled the driveway. One officer was stationed outside to fend off the gathering neighbors. An hour later the ambulance attendants drove off alone. Then, a gurney appeared, rolling the covered body of Professor Holly Sutter to the van. A distraught George Bradley appeared next, surrounded by two police officers.

“I can’t understand how she could be dead from snake bites. There are no poisonous snakes in this area! I didn’t see a snake. Have any of you ever seen snakes roaming around here?” he shouted at the crowd, all of whom seemed stunned by the question.

Later Sue watched the noon news:

“The preliminary coroner’s report indicates that Professor Holly Sutter apparently entered the jacuzzi portion of her pool last evening and did not see, what was thought to be a water moccasin, in it. She had multiple bites, was unable to summon help and was found dead by her fiancé, Professor George Bradley, early this morning.”

In the late afternoon, Sue finished decorating and drove out of town to the Shell Bayou Wildlife Reserve. She carried a cardboard box to the edge of the water, set it down and opened it.

A four-foot-long water moccasin slithered out and headed to the bayou, disappearing into the muddy water.

Sue then walked a path that led from the reserve to the Green Hills Cemetery and stood before a headstone. The inscription was simple:

Christine Anna Harris

August, 1987 – June, 2021

Grant Her Peace!

“It’s over, Sissy. The Serial Seductress is done. You can Rest in Peace Now!”

Sue left one red rose on the grave and started to walk away.

Hearing a rustling noise, she turned back to see the moccasin curled at the top of the grave with the rose in its mouth.

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.

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 © 2023