Conflict (ineligible) by Wakefield Mahon
Afterlife (ineligible) by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Untitled by Ryan Strohman
Untitled by Rafe B
Untitled by Charles W Jones
*The Price of Failure by Bronwyn Sciance
The Spider Jeopardy by S Jayanth
Curl Up and Dye by Robin Abess
Untitled by Chessny Silth
*My Silver Lining by Graeme Clark
Fever Dream by David A Ludwig
Untitled by Cara Michaels
Untitled by Mark Etheridge
Badges and Burdens by Jeffrey Hollar
Rob’s Train of Thought by Khurshid Khatib
* Debut entry
Read all of the stories
by Robin Abess
Robin’s ending to this story had me cracking up. I wondered when I was reading it, if they dye job was over jealousy, but I wasn’t expecting the payback.
by David A Ludwig
It’s the last line that did it for me. So much went through my mind when I read that. If David were to decide to extend the story, I am sure it would be truly chilling.
By Ryan Strohman
“How did you expect her to react, Mom?”
The elderly woman was silent, watching her youngest daughter doubled over, retching in the driveway. Patricia knew this wasn’t going to be easy on any of them, including her mother and her younger sister, Erin, but it had to be done.
The city had called Patricia earlier in the week saying the house would be condemned unless immediate action was taken. And she was surprised that it had taken them this long. The house, from the outside, appeared mostly normal save for the numerous plastic containers on the front porch and a few bad spots in the front and back yards.
But inside was a completely different story.
Her mother’s downward spiral of self-loathing and guilt, piled on by years of failed relationships and marriages, were most likely to blame. Mom had become a hoarder, refusing to let go of anything that she acquired. She also, apparently, hadn’t paid for or used a garbage man in quite some time as well. Garbage littered the floor from one end of the house to the other and, in certain spots, rose to over three or four feet high.
It hadn’t helped that both Patricia and Erin lived several states away. And Mom would always visit them, always saying her house was a mess and that she’d feel more comfortable traveling. Patricia hadn’t actually seen her childhood home for five or six years, and Erin even longer. They had no idea it had come to this.
Aside from years of trash, the noxious smell of garbage and rot and death of one unfortunate animal or another was completely overwhelming. And the house was filled with cockroaches and rats. When Erin had attempted passage into the kitchen, climbing over refuse and risking her life, at least a handful of the disgusting, disease-spreading bugs crawled onto her hand, sending her reeling back and out the door. Patricia thought her sister was acting a bit overdramatic, but then again, this was all so emotional.
How had her mother allowed herself to slip so low? Patricia just hoped the therapist would be able to help. They could clean it up, sure, but without treating whatever disease her mom had, it’d just end up that way again.
Erin was crying, and Patricia walked over to console her. Her younger sister just stared back at her mother with anger and contempt.
“Erin, it will be OK. We’ll get it cleaned up, and we’ll get Mom help.”
“You don’t understand, Patricia. The mess, the bugs, the rats—none of that matters.”
“I know,” replied Patricia, rubbing her sister’s back.
“No you don’t! You don't! Did you even go into the kitchen? You have no idea!”
“I didn’t, no, but I figured it was just as bad as the other rooms.”
“Patricia! They are in there! Bill, Greg, Richard. Dad! They didn’t leave her! Dad didn’t abandon us! Their mummified bodies are all in there, sitting in chairs at the kitchen table!”