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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
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Testing the Waters: Fiction by Rick McQuiston
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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
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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

Kurt Hohmann: Homecoming

100_ym_homecoming_cfawcett.jpg
Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2023

Homecoming

 

by Kurt Hohmann

 

 

Gail waits at the corner of Elm and Third. Her legs ache from two hours of waiting in the damp autumn air. Her spirit aches from a wait that's dragged on for an entire year.

The projector in her mind plays the year-old film in an endless loop.

Jimmy Dupotnik, star quarterback, smiles at her from across the cafeteria. Hundreds of adolescent voices fade into background buzz as he approaches. His eyes, exuding confidence beneath a mop of dark curls, call to her. She answers his call in kind, filled with her own confidence that he's about to ask her to the homecoming dance. Her plans are coming to fruition, dreams falling into place.

But then . . .

Jimmy's smiling face is eclipsed. A shadow falls across the sunshine of his perfect visage. His attention shifts. A moment passes. With it go Gail's chances for a lifetime of happiness.

The shadow is called Mary Fezwick. The pleats of her cheerleading skirt reveal long, tanned legs. Her big, phony smile and bigger, phony boobs consume Jimmy's vision.

Gail, forgotten, is once more consumed by the noise of the crowd.

Her mental film loop includes no footage of Jimmy and Mary being crowned homecoming king and queen. The night of the dance, Gail shrouded herself in the darkness of the woods, where crying coyotes muffled her own tortured sobs.

All of the classes she signed up for, the clubs she joined, the people she pretended to befriend; all of her careful plans became torture. Jimmy was unattainable, but also unavoidable. And his eyes called only to Mary.

The year passed. Summer provided some respite, and in September Gail made sure to avoid them both.

Until today. Today, she'll see them in full royal garb, king and queen of the bygone year. Taking their last ride together.

The parade turns the corner and begins to pass by. Gail ignores the marching band, the tykes on trikes, the clowns. She focuses on her goal, the only thing that matters.

It appears. The monstrous red and blue float, royal coach of the homecoming. They are up there, turning and waving at the crowd.

Gail slides her fingers along the cold steel. A year ago, she knew nothing of guns. Today, caressing its barrel is like greeting a dear friend. Hand firm on the grip, thumb sliding off the safety, she begins to slip it from beneath her coat.

She pauses. Jimmy's in his uniform, but it looks all wrong; it hangs on his frame. As for Mary, the royal robe she's wearing can't hide her protruding belly. Any more than makeup hides the bruises on her face.

They both smile, but without joy. They do it because it's what they're supposed to do.

Gail's own smile is genuine as she slides the gun back into its holster. After all, she still has a lifetime of happiness to pursue.

 

 

Kurt Hohmann (www.kurthohmann.com) tells stories, builds altars to ancient gods, and crafts mad culinary experiments. He and his wife share a home with two living cats, six feline ghosts, and one affectionate python. His tales have been featured in Schlock Webzine, Commuter Lit, Black Petals, Aphelion, Half Hour to Kill, Yellow Mama, Literally Stories, Dark Fire, Bookends Review, and Eternal Haunted Summer.

Cynthia Fawcett has been writing for fun or money since she was able to hold a pen. A Jersey Girl at heart, she got her journalism degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee and now writes mostly technical articles about hydraulics and an occasional short story or poem on any other subject.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023