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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
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Pamela Ebel: Unclaimed Property!

Art by Hillary Lyon © 2023

Unclaimed Property!


Pamela Ebel


 “Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars!”

Angelica Barsini watched as a clerk for the State Treasurer’s Office placed the last stack of Bearer Bonds back into the steel bank box, locked it and smiled at her.

“An incredible find for our Unclaimed Property program. This is one of the largest monetary amounts we have returned to the rightful owners since the program was created. More incredible is that it sat in your attic for eighteen years with no one discovering it until last year.”

He pushed the box, the key, and the Claims Closure Form across the desk to Angelica. She signed the form and returned it to the clerk.

“Yes, it is quite amazing. We went back and tried to go through the house four weeks after Katrina. The water had finally returned to the Mr. Go but the mud, debris and the bodies that were still there were just too much for my mom. We took the few things she wanted and since the attic was basically on the ground after the house washed off the foundation, and considering the fact she never went up to store things, we saw no reason to search there.”

“Your father is, or was, the original owner of the bonds. Didn’t he tell your mom about them? Why wouldn’t he have taken them with him when the hurricane was sure to hit in the Ninth Ward?”

Angelica stared at the box.

“He was my stepfather and he refused to leave. He stayed and was washed away in the flood waters. We never found him and he never told us about the bonds.”

Angelica kept her composure as she silently remembered the bastard:

‘He would have never let mom know he had anything of value. He let her cover all of the bills for the house she had bought before he married her and moved in. Even after I begged her not to, she put him on the title and he still insisted it was her property, that he just ‘stayed’ there. He said odd jobs around the house paid for his ‘room and board.’ Where the SOB could have gotten his hands on those bonds is a mystery to me.”

She looked at the clerk and smiled.

“I really can’t imagine when or where he got those bonds. But I’ve been away at school for several years.”

“Well, water under the bridge, uh, sorry about that. It’s over now and as the only heir you’re entitled to everything.”

“Thank you for your time and assistance.”

She stood and picked up the bank box.

“Wait, you need to go retrieve the chest. We have some men who will help you take it to your car.”

“Chest? What Chest?”

“It was found under a pile of mud and rubble about three years after the flood. It had your dad’s name and Naval ID on the top, It’s still locked and in pretty good shape. It’s been sitting in storage all this time until we could set up this program. I am sure your dad would want you to have it.”

“He was my stepfather and I forgot about it. Where is it?”

“Just head over to the warehouse across the parking lot and show your claim form to them. Someone will get it for you.”

Walking across the lot Angelica remembered that chest well. Her stepfather would take her into the attic, starting when she was about five, while her mom was at work. He told her she could play in the chest while he did more than let her play.  Even that young she knew it was wrong. But he said if she told, something bad would happen to her mom.

For years the man molested her every chance he got. She always managed to prevent him from penetrating her body. Unfortunately, the penetration of her mind and soul were harder to prevent.

In her teens, Angelica made up her mind to tell what was going on but by then her mother was battling cancer.  

“Caro, I am so sorry you do not like your father. I don’t know why because he is such a good man. I need him now that I’m sick and you are going away to college soon. Please try for me.”

She couldn’t take away the man who had become the ‘rock and soul of her survival’ as her mom called him, so Angelica said nothing.

Graduating from high school at seventeen, she moved to California to stay with relatives and attend college. She visited as often as possible as her mother’s cancer grew. Finally, in her senior year the phone call came:

“Angelica, it’s Aunt Louise. Your beloved mother and my only sister, Francesca, passed last night. Father Corlini gave her the Last Rights and she cried out for you.”

“Where was he, aunt? Was he there?”

“He wasn’t there. He has a new, young woman over in the Garden District. He spends his time with her. Her father has a large corporation and the new woman lavishes gifts on him. We saw in the paper that there was a problem with some kind of bonds missing. We don’t have anything to do with that. Please come home!”

Angelica returned for the funeral as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the city. She went to her mother’s house the night before landfall to gather some personal mementos. Sitting at the bottom of the attic ladder was the chest.

Frozen with fear and shame Angelica stared at it. Then she walked over, turned the key in the lock and yanked the chest open. Inside lay several of his Navy service weapons and his discharge papers. There were also several of her childhood dresses and her Raggedy Ann doll. She had always taken it up with her and clung to it as he touched her, his breath smelling of cigarettes and booze. Picking up the doll she heard the front door open.

“Well, well. It’s my precious Angelica. And still holding the doll that gave you so much comfort while we played in that chest. I thought you would probably be at the funeral and come here. So, I thought we could play some games again without fear of your precious mom finding us! What do you say?”

He came up to her and Angelica could smell the cigarettes and booze on his breath.

Eighteen years later she stared at the chest in the back of her car.  After dark she returned to her family home, where much of the debris had been removed. But closer to the levee, bulldozers continued to clear the land for the new houses to come.

Parking near a pile of debris, Angelica pulled the chest out of the car and over to the levee. She took a chain from around her neck and removed the key she had worn for those eighteen years.

Fitting it in the lock she opened the chest. His perfect skeleton stared up at her. The WWII KA-Bar knife still protruded from where she had shoved it into his heart that night.

Angelica pushed the chest on its side and the skeleton rolled out in parts. She removed the knife and tossed it into the water. Then she picked up the bones in bunches and tossed them after it. The skull was last to go. It didn’t leer at her or smell of cigarettes and booze. With a great yell she released it into the swirling water knowing it and he would soon be out in the gulf sleeping with the sharks.

She replaced the chest in the car and returned to the city. Two weeks later the doorbell rang at her Napa, California home. The UPS truck unloaded a crate into Angelica’s backyard.

Opening it, she removed a small chair. Then what was left of the chest, now a pile of wood, was tossed piece by piece into the fire pit.

“Hello Angel. How’s my favorite fiancé? And what is this you’re burning?”

A man smiled down at her, offering a glass of champagne.

“Hello Jeff. Thanks for the drink and let’s toast to eliminating the last unclaimed property.”

From her seat in the chair made of reclaimed wood from the chest, Raggedy Ann’s button eyes gleamed as the flames rose and she smiled.

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, and the Assistant Art Director at Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine. 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/

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