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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
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

M. L. Fortier: The Horror of Hidden Pond

Art by W. Jack Savage 2023

The Horror of Hidden Pond


by M. L. Fortier


          “Don’t go there!” This is what my mother had said. In this, she was repeating what all the local moms told their progeny. The “there” was a hidden pond in the middle of the woods, behind our house. At the edge of the forest stood a cemetery, by an old convent. No longer could we spy a sign of life at the convent; one by one, the nuns had mysteriously disappeared.

          The cemetery was reputed to be the haunt of druids or devil worshippers who called down evil spirits.

          For a ten-year-old boy (my name—Robert Helms), it was an irresistible attraction. Also, being rather slight, I was subjected to ridicule, called “chicken” and “scaredy-cat,” so that I knew I would have to confront my fears.

          A young girl I liked, Alice, was brave enough to risk it. So, one evening, we plotted to go to Hidden Pond, where a prehistoric monster was said to lurk out from the muck and devour young children.

          “Don’t go there!” Why didn’t Alice and I listen to our mothers’ advice?

          This was seventy years ago, and I have lived with this horror all this time. I have dwelled in my parents’ crumbling house as an old bachelor. I set down this account of these terrible events, so as to win some sort of redemption for my sad role in them.   

          Alice and I walked slowly through the creaking oaks and yews. I could tell she was every bit as scared as I was. In the warm, humid evening, the insects and birds were strangely silent.

          Finally, we reached the edge of Hidden Pond. No lights or movements could we detect in the ancient convent. We did not hear any chanting of devil worshippers, although my imagination conjured up scenes of druids in white robes processing with lit torches, chanting in a deep drone. Twilight purples descended quickly, and we knew we had little time before worried parents would come looking for us.

          The pond itself seemed calm and no breezes rippled the layer of smelly algae on the surface.

   Alice smiled. “See, it is a lot of bunk to frighten little children.”

          “That seems right, but don’t get too close,” I said.

          She gazed at me. “You’re not afraid now, are you?”

          “No,” I stammered.

          Alice eased to the edge of the pond. “See, no monster—nothing to worry about.”

          Suddenly, the swampy water roiled. A large alligator lunged out with unnatural speed, and locked its jaws on Alice’s leg, drawing her slowly, inexorably into the water.

          She screamed, “Help!”

          I froze.

           I should have grabbed a stone, a branch—anything—and attacked the beast.

          I’d turned to ice and could not move.

          Alice was dragged into the decaying reeds, and the churning waves turned blackish-red with blood.

          She was gone.

The next day, no one spoke of Alice, or of her disappearance. No one questioned me. There seemed to be a local conspiracy to hush the thing up.

          My parents looked at me with pity, and so did the other parents.

          Yet, I knew what had happened, and the memories of her screams and the blood-red water have haunted me all my life.

          In an instant, I branded myself a coward, unfit for Alice, or any woman’s love.

          I am a stooped and white-bearded man, now. With this account, I have brought back all the old horror. When I am done, I shall burn this journal. It is not for other eyes.

          “Don’t go there!” We never learn.



M. L. Fortier has over 25 stories in print: mainstream and genre. Black Petals has published a number of her horror stories. An award-winning author, she has also taught writing at various Chicagoland colleges.

W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of eight books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com).  To date, more than fifty of Jack’s short stories and over a thousand of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023