Three Weeks

by C. Joy

Teresa stumbled, the underbrush grasping her feet as she plunged towards the shore. The sound of breaking waves roared nearby. The island was caught in the last rays of daylight, and she quietly begged the sun to have mercy for a few minutes longer. A lone howl made her cast a fearful glance behind her. They were already looking.

Jerkily, she clambered over the slippery, moss covered rocks. Surviving on worms, beetles and little sleep made her muscles scream. Her breath was uneven, coming in short gasps and grunts. The sharp rocks cut her hands, but she ignored the pain, terror pressing her on. A misstep sent her sliding down a large boulder, leaving a crimson trail along the jagged surface and sea green moss. She screamed in frustration, climbing back up. The darkening night air filled with howls and moans, making her skin prickle. The last place she had found solace still lay a hundred yards away.

The yacht lay sideways in a shallow pool. It drifted lifeless, each wave mocking its inability to free itself. Finally, last of the sun disappeared, leaving her to blindly stumble across the uneven rocks. The air was thick, borderline electric. A distant rumble of thunder joined a brilliant burst of lightning.

A storm was coming. Even the stars had hid from the horrors to come.

He mentioned the island on their first date. His story fascinated her, but so had his bright blue eyes. The horrifying tale of an insane asylum on a deserted island, home to the worst and most terrifying , the blight of society. Church leaders and psychiatrist argued between mental illness or demonic possession, he scoffed. Fearing the latter, the Lady Sovereign of the Ursuline Convent was consulted. Soon, fourteen seasoned nuns arrived to manage and care for the asylum.

In theory, it was perfect. The ultimate humanitarians caring for the morally and mentally deranged. They were horribly wrong. Indiscernible scrawls and terrifying images covered every wall and ceiling. Notes were found, detailing futile exorcisms, patients vomiting nails, blood running down the walls, and concerns of a heavy presence of evil.

Nobody survived.

She had listened, scared and enthralled. A small graveyard bordered the convent and asylum, tombstones dated older than both. Years after they closed the asylum, it was there that they’d found the nuns bodies. Chained, nailed, and burned, they were found in various, ritualistic forms of torment, evidence of the evil residing within.

Three weeks ago. Their third date. Out of the blue, he’d suggested a quick sail. Once on the water, he asked if she wanted to see the island. She should have said no.

The sky lit with a deafening peal of thunder. In that brief second, glimpsing an incoming swell, she noticed the waves increasing size and intensity. Panic kicked her sleep deprived brain. Desperately, her round eyes picked a path to the yacht. Glancing behind her, she realized it was impossible to go back as the rocks had been swallowed by the growing waves. And the yacht was dancing in a deepening pool, threatened to break free. She could see a sliver of grass just beyond the yacht. Ribbons of a sand dune crest connecting the rocky shore and the island. The island she was running from.

The sky bellowed with another flash of lightning. In that second, everything changed. A wail escaped her, hope splintering around her. It was the flash of the emblem on the broken hull that caused her to cry out. She had hoped, prayed that he’d escaped. And would return to rescue her. That this was a different yacht she’d stumbled on three long days ago. Waves crashed around her, breaking her trance as the sinking realization overcame her. She would never leave this island. Sobbing, she debated letting go, letting the sea claim her.

But she didn’t.

Tired, weak, shoeless, with her shredded shirt and shorts barely covering the countless bloodied crosses she had cut onto her skin, she climbed past the broken yacht toward the grass and sand. Teresa de Meo, a forbidden descendant of Father Gabrielle de Meo, stood and faced the island of Evil.

Howling wind and sharp needles of rain began to sting her cheeks. Black, wet tendrils of hair whipped her face. Taking a long ragged breath, she began to grasp that this night had been set in motion an eternity before. Destiny had patiently waited, until a man with bright blue eyes and a story like a sirens song lulled her here. Her great-great-grandfather, Father de Meo was a powerful, righteous man. His blood, forged centuries before, was destined to war against the evil Blackness throughout the ages. This blood of triumph and loss mingled with the insatiable need for eternal vengeance, carried for centuries, now stirred within her.

The hair on the back of her neck rose in response to the howls and moans closing in. Her fingers, wet with blood, curled around the silver crucifix in her pocket. One night, as she scoured the island for relief from the night terrors, she had found the crucifix clutched in the hand of a nuns corpse, still chained upside down on the cemetery gate.

She’d been here three weeks. Twenty one days. She had lost four days of memory, and almost her mind to the taunting voices in the asylum. She’d fled to the abandoned convent seeking refuge. Instead, fourteen angry souls tormented her, their work interrupted and unfinished. She spent nights running and hiding in crags, holes and trees, caught in an ageless war between the righteous dead and spirits of darkness, a war no mortal could survive. She knew victory wasn’t promised, but neither was defeat. Gingerly, she made her way up the path.

He was waiting at the gate. She clasped her trembling hands, the crucifix tightly hid within. Small sobs of fear threatened to overtake her.

“Good Evening, Teresa. We’ve been waiting for you,” he whispered, his blue eyes dancing.


Living in the middle cornfields and an occasional burst of trees, C. Joy calls the Midwest home. Writing for fun, but dreaming to hit it big.

Lost Cassandra

by Holly Hearn

Cassandra waded through her malaise to the replicator. She ordered a chai latte, refusing to admit that this would be the most interesting thing she’d experience today. And the next day, and the day after, and the day after…

Mug in her thin hands, she shuffled over to the wall to wall glass windows. Outside, a white hot, tiny star was tethered to a spiral of plasma by its own life force, circling the drain and bleeding into an unknown.

Staring stoically into the abyss, she sipped her latte. There was no soundtrack for this spectacle, save the undercurrent hum of the generators, though she’d long since gotten used to those. The power for the station came from solar panels pointed at the lone star and its parasite; eventually it would run out.

Everything ran out in the end. It had been five years since her only companion died. Suicide, blew himself out of an airlock. She tried not to blame herself, but did wonder if he’d still be here if she’d been more accommodating.

No one else would be along. The slingshot trajectory from the next nearest base passed directly through the black hole’s event horizon, making any approach impossible. It also made transmissions back home impossible. Nobody knew she was still here. Cassandra would have normally retired by now from her position as the station’s chief astrophysicist, but as it was she’d given up collecting data ages ago, and now pottered about aimlessly in a desperate attempt to drown out the ticking of her life, slipping like so many grains of sand through her grasping fingers.

Suffering the silence no longer, she put on some music to fill the air around her. It would be another day of basic maintenance on the life support systems, followed by existential poetry. Until the music faded.

“Incoming transmission.”

“Don’t be silly,” she murmured. “Any transmission heading this way would get sucked in by that damned black hole.”

“Play incoming transmission?”

Cassandra halted, brushing a silver lock behind her ear. It was exactly this sort of interruption she’d longed for, and now feared. The moments slipped past. Her heart raced.

“Play incoming transmission?”

“…oh, fine, go ahead.”

Static filled the void she preferred to plaster with music, but eventually a voice struggled through.

“Cassandra! Cassandra…”

Her heart stopped, lodged in her throat. The voice belonged to a stranger. She’d never heard it before, but they knew her.

“Cassandra, I hope you’re listening. I’ll start with the most important part, in case I get cut off: I love you. With all my heart.”

The stranger was female. Cassandra wracked her brain, but could not think of anyone who would have such a deep connection to her. She never married, never loved anything but her work.

“I’ll never give up, I’ll never stop searching. You’re my everything.”

Cassandra felt herself relax, a tension she’d barely realized unknotting itself as she warmed to the genuine feeling in the woman’s voice. She stood frozen, drink forgotten in her trembling hands. She wouldn’t risk missing a single word, the first thing said to her in five years and the first thing ever said to her that moved her.

“I know you could be anywhere in time or space, or maybe you’re everywhere in time and space. I don’t know. But I know I still feel you beside me when I sleep at night, I know you’re somewhere waiting. I love you, and I’m coming for you, Cassandra. I’m coming.”

“End of transmission.”

Cassandra’s insides were tangled, emotions she didn’t realize she had swirling and constricting her. Above the din rose hope. Someone was looking for her. Someone who would devote their life to finding her. A shaking hand released its grip on the mug to reach up and brush away the foreign object that escaped from her eye and raced down her cheek.

“Computer,” she whispered. “where did this transmission come from?”

“Origin unknown.”

“At what point did you detect the transmission?”

“Within one astronomic unit.”

“What? There’s nothing that close by…”

Her eyes drifted to the window, watching the molten spiral spinning lethargically as it sucked the life from the nearby star. The appearance of the black hole had cut them off from any supplies or chance of returning home, but had also opened up the possibility of jumping across time and space. Several expeditions had departed for the singularity in the name of why not, she remained behind…just in case.

What if something finally escaped?

Cassandra spent the rest of the day playing the transmission over and over again. She fell in love with the voice, heart full of hope and head full of ideas about who this person could be. Each day she listened to the transmission. Each day could now be the day she was found.


Holly Hearn is a multi-genre fiction writer and budding poet. Her favourite genres are horror and sci-fi, and she enjoys writing flash fiction. She is also the founder of Itchen to Write, a group for Hampshire, UK writers. Follow her on Twitter @hearningcurve and read more of her work, including her book reviews, at ashandfeather.com

I’m Awake

by S. P. Carter

Where am I? Can’t see anything. Dark, but not completely. Eyes are closed. Why won’t they open? I try to reach for my face. Arms won’t move. Can’t feel them. Completely numb, paralyzed.

Something covering my mouth and nose, forcing air into my lungs, sucking it back out. That smell. Sterile, like plastic and rubber. How long have I been like this?

Hello? Is anyone there?

I scream in silence. Lips and tongue remain slack. Completely immobile, blind, helpless. Even as panic sets in, my heart rate remains fixed in a slow rhythm. Abdomen steadily rises and falls with each forced breath.

I hear air pushing and pulling. Electronic beeps and chirps. Mechanical humming. Fans, ventilation? What else? Focus. Muffled sounds, barely audible voices. The distinct click of a door opening.

Light brightens around me, shadows drift past. A door closes. Soft footsteps grow closer, then a brief silence. I feel eyes watching me.

“Can he hear me?”

Kate! I hear you! Help me!

“His brain scans show no response to sound, but there’s no way to know for sure.” A male voice speaks from direction of the door.

“I’d like a moment.” She’s close.

“Of course. Take all the time you need.” I hear the door gently open and close again.

“Hi Frank, it’s me,” she says in little more than a whisper. “How are you doing today? I got a call from a hotel this morning, confirming a reservation. You’ll be so mad they spoiled the surprise. I had no idea you planned our anniversary. ” She runs her hand through my hair. Her touch is soothing. Her voice is soothing.

“I didn’t cancel. It’s all still waiting for us. Palm trees, hammocks, sand. It’s all waiting for you to wake up.” Her lips gently kiss my forehead. A tear lands on my cheek and slowly rolls down to my ear.

I can picture her but I want to see her. I need to see her. I frantically strain to move my eyes. For a brief moment, my eyelids tighten then relax. It’s not enough.

“Colin’s home for winter break. He came back as soon as we heard about your second stroke. He was here earlier but they were running tests. He said he’ll be back tomorrow.”

Stroke. The word hangs in the air as she takes several slow, deliberate breaths. “He’s thinking of taking a semester off. He did his best through finals but, you know, it’s just been hard on him. He wants to be close.”

The bed shifts as Kate climbs in beside me. She rests her head on my chest. Her body presses against mine. I feel her leg cross over mine. I want to hold her. I want to wrap my arms around her, make her feel safe, protected.

For a long time we lay together in silence, our chests rise and fall in unison. She takes my hand, tenderly laces her fingers between mine. The tip of my index finger rests on her knuckle. I command it to move. I shout at my hand, move. Move! And then I feel movement. Just the faintest hint of a twitch, my finger taps her hand.

Kate freezes up, tightens against me. Did she notice?

“Frank.” She releases my hand, places her hand on my shoulder. “They’re asking about an advance directive. I can’t even think about that. We’ve worked so hard to get here. We’ve been through so much. This can’t be it. This can’t be it…” She begins sobbing into my chest.

Kate, stop. I’ll to be okay. Just take my hand, you’ll see. We’ll get through this. We’ll be back in the Caribbean getting drunk on the beach.

She gets up and places a kiss on my temple. “I’ll be back tomorrow. Please don’t leave me,” she breathes in my ear.

Kate, please don’t go. I am right here. To hell with their brain scans! I can hear you, every word.

My eyes flutter. My right eye opens slightly. Eyelashes stuck together. Through a haze I see her turn. I see her take steps toward the door. Exhausted, frustrated, my eye closes.

The door opens and closes. The room darkens. She’s gone.

I lay for what seems like hours, listening to the oscillating gasp and sigh of the breathing machine. I try not to think about what she’s going through. I debate cancelling the Caribbean trip. Maybe we’ll go skiing or white water rafting instead. The last place I want to be right now is a hammock.

I hear the door once more, followed by brisk footsteps and swift motions. Clicks and snaps. I feel a rush of cold within my arm.

“She’s a strong woman,” the doctor says. “She’s been here every day since your stroke. You’re a lucky man. Were a lucky man.”

What?

“For months now as your condition worsened. She’s holding onto hope, but you haven’t responded to any of my treatments. It’s time to let go.”

You’re giving up on me? Run another test! I’m right here!

“I know you can hear me, Frank. Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of her when you’re gone.”


S. P. Carter is a software engineer by day, writer by night. He has authored several short stories and is currently working on his first novel, ‘Unraveling’. His writing spans the horror, thriller, sci-fi and fantasy genres, with morally ambiguous characters and stories that challenge the standards of traditional fiction. When he’s not crafting psychological nightmares on paper, he’s reading, reviewing other writers, playing with his children, or on rare occasion, sleeping.

The Next Breath

by Dustin Pellegrini

Tonight, like too many other nights, there was the feel of his arm, long and heavy, pressed down over her hip and the wide berth of her thigh. His fingers, in their usual spot, chose not to move, which meant they chose not to let her move.

But then there was also the light in the corner. A tiny clown face with a red Rudolph nose. It sat on the floor, nearly swallowed up by his clothes, the rough pile he always left them in so close to the door. Shoes, then belt, then pants shirt underwear. His socks were down past her feet, hogging their own heat, too far for her to reach and get warm. She hated the AC when he came over, cranked up to where it spit out droplets that hit the hardwood and pooled there, turning it an uglier brown until she could finally get up in the morning, mop it up with his old t-shirt. The one he had forgotten and she had, months ago, hoarded.

She remembered holding it close to her the morning after he left it, crumpled between the bed and her head, his smell coming into her, staying inside. She shut her eyes thinking of it now, going red even in the cold of the room. She couldn’t wait to get up and wipe her floor with it. With him.

That would be all she could do, she knew. So it would have to be enough.

But there was the clown light in the corner that she could find, focus on, no matter what time it was when she woke up.

She remembered his voice biting into her, his fist against her kitchen counter, pounding like a train switching tracks. POOM POOM POOM POOM.

The cabinet swung like a shot put. The things smashed. Her shirt torn from her like a weak trash bag losing its handles in his grip.

But there was also her breath. Strong. So strong she could take in the World, fill herself up with it, and push his arm, heavy like an anchor, up and away.

She took big breaths all night just to feel it, feel it go away, feel her body working as one thing apart from him.

But there was only so high she could lift it, hold it, before she would deflate. Everything would come back down, forced by the impossible weight of his arm, and there she’d be, empty, covered by him. Wearing him. His weight. His words. The constant feeling of him in the room. Even when he’s showering, or on his way over there’s the thunderclap sound of the water splashing down him, his footsteps coming up the stairs. Even during the day, when he’s gone at work, there’s his moppy shirt, his crushed cans in her recycling bin, her dented kitchen counter and the cabinet door hanging limp from his grip.

But then there was also the next breath.


Dustin Pellegrini is a writer living in Chicago. He studied Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, has had his work read at Chicago’s Story Week Festival and currently works at a nonprofit. You can find more of his writing at dustinpellegrini.com

100 Angels

by J. Avarez

They came on January 10th, 2056. The sound of them ripping through the sky was the first signal for most. It was like hearing a blast of dynamite in my ear. It woke us all from our beds, and it scared the living shit out of me.

It didn’t take long for people to step out their homes and point toward the clouds. Littered across the orange dawn sky, we saw their ships for the first time. They looked like black, metallic crescent moons, with two massive white lights on the underside. Hundreds of them arrived and started to set our cities on fire. I’m from a small town in New Jersey, my fellow survivors say I’m lucky for that. The crescent airships seemed to target the major cities, they say New York City burned in fire for two fucking months!

There was no response from the government. I would have thought that’s what the Illuminati was for, surely some past president had captured a little grey alien already. I thought they’d communicate and tell them to leave. Then the power went out, after that the riots started. No cops meant the killers were free to do what they wanted. When I saw my father get shot in the head from my bedroom window, I knew the world was over.

It’s been four years since those ships came. I thought we’d be kissing their feet and calling them our supreme masters. But guess what? Those murderous bastards are still here. They came and demanded nothing. They destroyed our world just to watch us silently in the sky. I used to love a clear, sunny day, now I hate it with a passion. When the clouds go away is when you can spot them the best. Seeing their crescent shaped ships float perfectly in the sky was unnerving. Why the hell were they here? I just didn’t get it at all.

Who conquers a kingdom and doesn’t sit on the throne?


J. Avarez is a newbie Fantasy writer from New York City. He’s a huge lover of all things anime and fantasy. And yes, he too went nuts when he saw Marvel’s “Infinity War” trailer! Follow him on Twitter: @Avarezbooks