Monthly Archives: November 2016

In the Crowd by Erika Lance

For Marius and feeding the birds…

“Well,” he said, seeming to mull over each word with some sense of caution, “That’s certainly a dead bird.”

Sanders paused,  then pulled out a cigarette and walked towards to gathered patrol cars.

The bird, was of course, sticking out of the chest of the dead woman in front of them.

The body was naked with the exception of a pair of pink satin gloves. Her make-up was perfect and still intact. The face was the only part of her devoid of even the slightest bit of blood spatter.

Her fingers were interlaced as her hands laid on her stomach; her legs were placed perfectly together. This body had been staged.

“Why the bird?” Jacobson asked. He was new.

Mirna looked at the scene. They couldn’t even get close enough to the body to determine cause of death, but the large amout of blood surrounding her gave at least an indication she most likely bled out from whatever that was and being impaled by a bird of course.

“Do you think it is a symbol?” Jacobson asked, looking towards her.

She glanced over at him and then back to the crowd that was now forming behind the yellow tape. It wasn’t smart to discuss points of the case in front of, well.. anyone.

“Later,” Mirna said and walked back towards her car.  They wouldn’t get a closer look until the body was in the morgue and since there were no witnesses, there was no point in remaining.

She took one last look around at the crowd. He or she was most likely out there, watching. Most killers liked to watch the discovery and clean-up of their crime scene. A small shiver went up her spine as she realized this may be only the beginning.

 

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Pom Poms by Erika Lance

For Mandi, for being inspiring since the day we met.

“That is seriously the 6th time that truck as slowly rolled past. Should we ask if they need help?”

Claire looked over at Marci who had been one looking out the window and scowled. Marci couldn’t see the scowl which was most likely a good thing. Claire often thought that she, and she alone would survive a horror movie type situation.

Claire had joined the cheer squad when she first arrived at Jeffery M. Whitmore High School because they had no other activities that related to dance or gymnastics. Claire also understood stature and how to navigate the high school experience so that she came out on top.

Unfortunately, this meant she was usually surrounded by a bunch of girls who talked about lipstick and shopping and so many other things Clair had zero interest in. She chalked it up to being the negative parts of popularity.

“Seriously, should we go out there? They are parked down the block. They may need help.” Marci was persistent. Chrissie, who happened to be the captain of the team looked out the window along with Heather and Tanya. They had all decided to have a “little” slumber party this weekend to discuss Nationals.

Claire knew it would look good on college transcripts, so she was on board for helping make sure this wasn’t embarrassing.

“I don’t know if it is safe. Claire, what do you think?” Tanya asked.

Tanya asked about everything. She couldn’t make a decision herself about anything. Claire smiled; it was the fake smile that said “I care what you are saying” but really didn’t. “I don’t think you should go out there. This town is full of weirdos.” She was sure the others wouldn’t listen to her, so she felt safe in saying what she did.

Almost on cue Chrissie looked over, “I think we should. After all, they may be some slightly lost college guys or something.” She managed to sound condescending when she even said that. “Tanya, let’s go help out the stranded stranger,” and she headed for the door.

It was in this moment Claire decided that the fate of these three meant nothing to her. She could be worried. She could warn them. Hell, she could even manipulate them into staying inside. However, in this moment she realized that the cheer team would go on, even if all three of these girls were no longer breathing.

So she smiled again, “I understand. You should help them out.”

Chrissie and Tanya checked themselves in the mirror and headed out. Claire looked at her watch: 10:35pm. She then picked back up the book she was reading and waited. Marci was switching between pacing and looking out the window. She suddenly burst out, “They are gone!”

Claire looked up from her book. “What?” she asked, sure of what the answer would be.

“They are gone.” Marci was staring to freak out. “Is the van still there?” Claire asked. She thought she should make her tone more concerned to make Marci feel better and then she shrugged. She didn’t actually care.

“Maybe you should check on them?” Claire finally said. Maybe she sounded like she cared. She didn’t.

“Will you come with me?” Marci asked.

“No,” Claire said. Maybe that was a little rough. “Umm… someone should be here if they come back.” She hoped that made her sound more caring or possibly a little scared.

“Oh,” Marci started, “That makes sense,” and she headed for the door. Claire shrugged and went back to reading.

Some time had passed before she checked her watch again; it had been an hour. She moved over and looked out the window. The van was gone. Claire pursed her lips. She knew Chrissie’s parents would at least be home by morning and wondering where their daughter was. She shook her head and pulled out her cell phone.

“911. What is your emergency?” the  concerned sounding voice answered.

“My… My… My … THEY ARE GONE!!!” The drama classes were paying off, Claire thought as she “sobbed” into the phone. The operator began to ask her questions and as she answered she wondered if being cheer captain was more work than she wanted to expend.

 

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Pit Bull Pen by Brandon Scott

For Jim, a fellow artist at arms.

I had three of the meanest pit bulls I had ever seen on my ass and all I could think about was that I had to go to the bathroom.

And the running was not helping the matter either. The harder I moved, the more my body wanted, no: pleaded for me to get to a place of relief. The pressure built around my waist and inside my organs. And still I made my legs push against the ground and propel.

The dogs barked loudly, so close to my heels, and though the action only made my insides squirm more, I reached in unseeing panic for the steak tied to my back. My fingers graced the slimy and cold meat, but I could not pry it off, and so I had to continue to run.

And run, and run, and run. The landscape broke to half-seen vague things as I kept looking backward, failing to regulate my breathing. My sides stung.

But I forced myself to go until the inevitable happened: my attention slipped. And so I did as well. My feet flew up underneath me, and I crashed to the ground with an instant pain shooting through my side.

The pit bulls came upon me, tugging at the steak and not caring what impeded their hunger. They damaged my arms via random bites and untrimmed nails.

I clutched my face, and it was at that moment that my body could not hold inside the buildup anymore, and a warmth leaked down the side of my leg. The dogs continued to tear away at the rib eye.

Finally, blissfully, they got off as the steak found its last section gulped down a gullet. They barked at me for a minute before wandering off in random directions.

I saw another person sprint by a moment later, a woman with what looked like a New York strip steak tied to the small of her back, and a few of my dogs flocked to her.

But that was none of my business anymore. I walked back to the main area, the liquid on my leg feeling caustic. The dome of the central monitoring building came into view, and yet another person sprinted out of the place chased by dogs.

The input lock was old, so it took a moment for it to scan my fingerprint and let me into the building. And once I was in, I tried to stay away from all the other runners. My stink of urine was so pungent and hovering that they could probably smell me well enough at the outskirts of the central room.

Still, I had to deal with one person: the receptionist. I handed her the card and smiled, an awkward, awkward smile, and she scanned the card.

“Not any records broken I’m afraid. Bottom fifty as well. Better luck next time.”

I nodded, disappointment spreading through my bones. I knew I should have used the toilet before the running began, but the world of Pit Bull Racing is fast-paced and competitive. And I didn’t want to potentially lose my spot because of a bathroom break.

But it all turned out wrong. I shook my head as I exited, wondering where I could find a towel to protect my car seat, and hoping that next year, after perhaps specialized muscle training, I could do decent in the Pit.

Next year, I thought to myself. I’ll do better next year.

 

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One Too Many by Erika Lance

To Lorin Oberweger, thank you for my starter, I hope you enjoy the story.

“The wheel never stopped burning…”

This was the last line of the song that she could remember. When she woke up, she was in more pain then she could even imagine was possible.

She cracked open her eyes and the room was dark and smelled of… wait, was that blood? She tried to sit up but her head swam and she had to lay back and breathe again for a minute.

She closed her eyes and tried to remember what had happened the night before. She had gone to The Wheelhouse bar to meet up with Mason. He said he had a lead.

Why The Wheelhouse? That place was a dive on the edge of nowhere and pathetic. It didn’t matter now.

She remembered there had been a band.  Her thoughts became fuzzy again as the lyric played through her mind again “The wheel never stopped burning….” What the hell did that mean?

Her hand throbbed and she held it up to her eyes. It was broken, or at least terribly damaged. She tried to move her fingers which shot pain all the way down her arm. Although, the pain was excruciating she remembered something. A man’s face. She had struck him. Taking a deep breath, she sat up, using her non-broken hand as leverage.

She looked around the room she was in. She was lying on the floor of what looked like a cheap motel. It had a terrible picture hanging above the bed that was of a bowl of fruit.

As she scanned the room, she could see there was someone on the bed. She could also see that there was blood on the bedspread.

She moved her knees under her, which also seemed a little scraped up and stood up. She almost fell as her head swam again and now there was a throbbing pain in her jaw.

There had to be a mirror in the bathroom and this would allow her to clean-up and assess the damage to her face.

Besides the assessment of damage to herself, the loss of memory she needed to regain her attention focused now on the person, or body on the bed.

It was a man, his face was bruised and he had two gunshots in chest. She peered a little closer and realized this was the man she had broken her hand on the night before.  Whoever he was, he was dead.

For a moment, she tried to register some emotion. Had she killed him? She looked around for a gun and didn’t see one easily. Instead of continuing to hunt for it, she made her way to the bathroom to see how bad off she was.

When she turned on the light and first looked, she almost gasped. Her left eye was bruised and bloodied. It was swollen and there was dried blood on her lips and nose.

She pulled a wash cloth from the towel rack and ran it under the cold water from the sink. She started to carefully wipe the blood away when she heard the lock from the door click and the door open.

She froze for a moment, instinctively looking around for a weapon of some kind. She wrapped the wet cloth around her fist since that was all she could find and looking at her hand, she wasn’t sure she could use it anyhow.

“Jess?” Was that Mason? she thought.

“Jess… Shit,” the voice continued. Whoever it was, was moving around the room.

Jess peered out from the bathroom. It was Mason. She opened the door and walked out.

Mason looked up. He had something in his hand. It was a gun. She opened her mouth to speak but before she could, he said, “We have to go now. They know where you are…” and grabbed her arm, pulling her from the room.

 

 

 

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