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Sibling Rivalry in a Zombie Apocalypse: Fiction by Jon Park
Dead is Dead: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Rooms: Fiction by Harris Coverley
Do You Know the Pizza Man?: Fiction by Beverle Graves Myers
Testing the Waters: Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Unclaimed Property!: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
The Causeway: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Witchy: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
An Assembly of Assassins: Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The White Nothing: Flash Fiction by Phil Temples
Carmelita: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
The Horror of Hidden Pond: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Kim Philby: Flash Fiction by Henry Simpson
Fear: Flash Fiction by Cheryl Snell
Homecoming: Flash Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Castle: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Head: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Something Wicked This Way Thumbs: Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
The Charcoal Man: Flash Fiction by Fred Zackel
Tarot Tara: Flash Fiction by Steve Cartwright
Mr. Bunny and $88.01: Flash Fiction by William Kitcher
Don't Think Twice: Flash Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
Teasing in the Light: Flash Fiction by Bradford Middleton
Spider: Flash Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Infirmities: Poem by David Galef
Dreaming a Little: Poem by Juan Mobili
The Dead Mingle with the Living: Poem by John Tustin
The Flower in Your Lapel: Poem by John Tustin
May Day: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Procession: Poem by Partha Sarkar
At the Funeral Lunch: Poem by Joan Leotta
Dreaming My Way Home: Poem by Joan Leotta
The Silence: Poem by John Grey
Pacing: Poem by John Grey
Elementary Classes: Poem by John C. Mannone
Rage: Poem by John C. Mannone
Comfort Zone: Poem by John C. Mannone
Serpentine Line: Poem by Charles Weld
William Calley's Apology: Poem by Charles Weld
Steve J: Poem by Charles Weld
Thief: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sweet Pleasure: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Courtship: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Again, A Bike Left: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Short Cuts to Madness: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Ingrid Leaves Vegas: Poem by Rp Verlaine
A Necessary Poem: Poem by Rob Plath
Last Gesture: Poem by Rob Plath
Carpe Sanguinem: Poem by Rob Plath
The Antitesis: Poem by Rob Plath
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Roy Dorman: Dead is Dead

100_ym_deadisdead_cartwright.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2023

DEAD IS DEAD

 

Roy Dorman

                                                                                                         

“I was in a neighborhood tavern with a tumbler of Irish whiskey and a Mickey Spillane paperback for company when the heart attack hit.  You?”

“In Folsom Prison doin’ life for murder when a dirtbag named Larry Sanders shivved me after he caught me cheatin’ at cards.”

“So, where the hell are we?”

“I’m thinkin’ you’re probably close with that thought, buddy.”

“Yeah? Ya think so?  Hey, I’m Richard Clarke.”

“Eddie Johnson.  Meetcha.”

“What say we look around a bit and see what’s up,” said Richard.

“I’m game, but I think we’re dead,” answered Eddie.  “And maybe it’s just the two of us.  If we’re lucky.”

It was close to pitch-black with just a faint light every fifteen or twenty seconds as something off in the distance flared.  The flaring coincided with a rumbling noise that was also in the distance.

There didn’t appear to be anything else at all in the near vicinity.

The two walked toward the light and noise.

In the brief flashes of light, Richard noticed they both had on matching t-shirts, jeans, work boots, and leather jackets.

“Odd,” he thought to himself.  “Who dressed us?  And why?”

He decided to let it go for now.

“That could be a volcano up ahead,” he speculated.

“What the hell do you know about volcanos?” Eddie snorted.

“Only what I saw in the movies when I was a kid.  You got any better ideas?”

“Yeah, we’re dead, that’s what.”

“You’re kinda stuck on that notion, aren’t ya,” said Richard.

Eddie stopped and stared at Richard.  “You sayin’ I’m some kinda nut-job?”

“No, no.  It’s just that….”

Eddie hit Richard in the nose with a sharp right jab causing blood to flow.

“Nut-job, huh?” said Eddie.  “Well, fuck you.  I say we’re dead.”

“You broke by dose,” Richard said holding his nose to try and stop the bleeding.  “What’s the matter with you?”

Eddie didn’t say anything as a look of puzzlement appeared on his rugged face.

“We’re not dead — ” he started to say.

“Oh, for chrissakes, knock it off with the dead business,” said Richard massaging his nose.  “And if ya hit me again, I’ll hit ya back.”

“No, listen,” said Eddie.  “Yer bleeding.  It hurt when I socked ya.  We ain’t dead.”

Just then a ring-tone went off in Richard’s jacket.

“You gotta phone?” asked Eddie with a look of suspicion.

“I guess I do,” said Richard, taking the phone from his pocket.

“Hello?”

A mechanical voice intoned:

Put this on speaker mode.

Richard shrugged and did as he was told.

“Done,” he said.  “Who’s this?”

Eddie still had a wary expression on his face.  He didn’t like this at all.

This is a recording that was activated from the future.  This is not a cell phone.  It’s a preset recording.  I won’t be replying to your comments or questions.  You are 45,000 years in the past in a territory that is now Southern France.  You will be given everything you need to help with a very complicated set of circumstances.

Richard and Eddie exchanged looks and shrugged.

You were chosen to be brought back to life because of your unique abilities.  Richard Clarke, you enjoy a good mystery and like to problem solve.  Eddie Johnson, you don’t care one way or another about mysteries, but enjoy solving a problem in more direct ways. 

You two are considered an assault team.  Eddie Johnson will be the leader of the assault team.  Richard Clarke will be his back-up and advisor in all things related to the assault. You are in a cave in a hillside close to a nearly inactive volcano.

Richard raised an eyebrow at Eddie and mouthed “see?”

Near the entrance of the cave there are supplies under a tarp.  Some of the supplies you will take with you, and some will remain under the tarp if you should need them later on.  There are two automatic pistols, both Glocks, and holsters for them for each of you.  Also, a sawed-off shotgun and hip holster for Eddie’s use.  There is more ammunition than you will need.  If you run out, it’s probably because the assault has failed. 

You may think you will be the only ones with that type of firepower in the time period of 45,000 years ago.  You are not.  As I will explain, there are others with weapons more advanced than simple spears and bows and arrows.

Richard and Eddie exchanged looks again.  Richard looked worried, but Eddie had a big grin on his face.  He was in charge of an assault team with more ammunition than he might need.  He was in heaven, not hell.

Cro-Magnon man has become a dominant species in this part of Europe.  and the Neanderthals, a dead-end offshoot of an earlier common ancestor, have been slowly dying out.  That is, until about a year ago when an extraterrestrial ship monitoring the Earth crashed in the vicinity you are in.  Of the sixteen crewmembers, eight females and eight males, ten survived the crash, and three of those were injured seriously.

“You believe this shit?” asked Eddie.

“I don’t know,” said Richard.  “Sounds pretty far-fetched.”

These alien visitors have taken it upon themselves to support the Neanderthals. It may be because they feel the less intelligent species of humans would be easier to control if their staying on Earth becomes long term.  Your mission is to capture these ten aliens and bring them back to this cave where they can be transported into the future. 

When the mission is completed, Richard, you will be returned to your time period and to a hospital where you will have recovered from your heart attack.  Eddie, you will also return to your time period, but will be given a new identity and be a free man.  That is the end of this message.  Good luck.

“Let’s go get the guns,” said Eddie.  “I’m ready to round up some aliens.”

“Remember, Eddie, the messenger said they’ll have weapons as good as ours.”

“Yeah, but they don’t have me,” said Eddie.

They found the tarp and gathered the weapons.  Eddie checked the guns out for both of them and declared them loaded and ready to use.

“Ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said with a big smile.

The two walked the few steps to the tunnel’s entrance and Eddie stopped Richard from going out.  It was nighttime and except for the occasional flare from the volcano, it was very dark.

“I’ll check to see if anybody’s waitin’ for us.  They may figure to ambush us.”

He cautiously stepped out and checked the immediate area.  Suddenly, a bright spotlight beamed onto the tunnel’s entrance and Eddie was blinded.  He drew the shotgun and fired it toward the spotlight as laser fire cut him in half.

Richard ran out from the cover of the cave entrance to help Eddie and was also cut down.

Eddie and Richard were dead.

Again.

***

Three Neanderthals stood with laser weapons in their hands.  There was some garbled vocalization and hopping around on their part signifying success.  They were led away by a tall, thin being who gave them pats on the back. 

It would have been helpful for Eddie and Richard to know that this was the fourth failed mission in the last three months.

Somebody far in the future needed to come up with a Plan B before this past became a part of their reality.

THE END

Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near to the Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, and a number of other online and print journals. Unweaving a Tangled Web, published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel. 

It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023