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.

The Pilot

by Damon M. Garn

Jeryd climbed into the Captain’s seat for the first time.

“Aren’t you just the man,” Flinn said, admiring Jeryd’s newest medal. “Imperium Order of Loyalty.”

“That’s me,” confirmed Jeryd to his co-pilot. “Brave and loyal.” Loyalty came naturally to those serving the Sovereign family directly.

“Or a buttkisser,” said Flinn.

“Just start pre-flight. Her Highness will be here shortly.”

Outside Jeryd’s viewport, the shuttle’s crew chief waved for his attention and pointed toward the engines. With his right hand he flashed Jeryd the rebel signal for a meeting.

“Chief wants me outside,” he grumbled. “Keep working through the checklist.”

“Will do, boss.”

“That’s Captain to you, Flinn.”

“Will do, Captain boss.”

Jeryd laughed and left the shuttle. The two pilots weren’t friends but had already flown a few missions together. The starship had FTL engines and comfortable living spaces for the Sovereign Princess as she traveled among the planets on her father’s business.

Jeryd met the chief near the engines.

“Yes, Chief?” They kept the conversation as normal as possible, minimizing any chance they might be exposed.

“Just checking to ensure the flight is a go.”

It was natural that the chief would ask about Jeryd’s mission but his real question was whether Jeryd would complete the rebel mission to assassinate the Sovereign Princess.

“Yes,” Jeryd assured his most trusted rebel contact. “It will go as planned.”

“Good luck, my friend.” The rebellion had already provided Jeryd with a full identity change. He’d never see the Chief again.

“You too, Chief.” Jeryd leaned forward and whispered the rebel motto. “Freedom Forever.”

Jeryd had been recruited to the rebellion seven years ago as a young Imperium pilot. His skill had brought him to the High Command’s attention, just as the rebels had hoped. He now had his first command. He’d been allowed to bring his crew chief with him to manage the shuttle.

It was ironic that he’d been given the Princess’s assassination orders at the celebration for his induction to the Imperium Order of Loyalty. He cooly considered the intelligence win it would be for the Imperium for a pilot to expose a rebel assassination attempt. Jeryd could envision the accolades that would come his way.

Jeryd returned to the shuttle. He was both a trusted Imperium officer and a heretical rebel. And to think he was actually living three lives.

Flinn reported the pre-flight checklist was complete and they could depart whenever the Sovereign Princess arrived just as two Imperium Guards moved up the ramp and took their positions. Two more watched everyone suspiciously at the bottom of the ramp.

Minutes later, the Princess’s entourage arrived. She was talking to Consul Teland, her most trusted advisor. More guards and servants followed.

The Consul nodded to Jeryd, acknowledging the shuttle captain. The Sovereign Princess, of course, did not look at him. A mere pilot was not worth her attention.

That will soon change.

Once everyone was on board, Jeryd returned to the cockpit and strapped in.

“Did the Princess notice your shiny new medal?” asked Flinn.

“Of course not. Her Highness has other things on her mind.”

“Still, it would be nice if she’d bat her eyes at us sometimes,” Flinn muttered.

“Watch your tone, Lieutenant! She’s a member of the Sovereign family and due our respect and loyalty.”

“All right, all right. Just sayin’.”

The radio squawked. “We are ready to depart, Captain,” the Guard Commander reported.

“Acknowledged,” Jeryd replied.

Her eyes really are beautiful.

The FTL engines took them far from of the Core Planets and the Imperium Fleet. Jeryd glanced at the chronometer.

Five minutes until I change the galaxy, he thought coldly.

When his chronometer finally chirped, Jeryd moved. Pretending to stretch, he jabbed down hard into Flinn’s neck with the syringe he’d secreted in his flight suit. He gently but firmly held his hand over the co-pilot’s mouth and made himself watch Flinn as he died. Flinn’s eyes searched his, asking why, then flashing hatred as he realized Jeryd must be a rebel, then finally, fear.

Your death is worth it to me, Flinn.

Jeryd entered the commands the crew chief had loaded into the life support computer, releasing poisonous gas into the ship’s atmosphere. He disabled all lights then snapped a breather over his face.

Did it occur to the chief that sabotaging my mask would leave no witnesses to the assassination? He tried not to think about it.

After giving the gas time to work, he drew his laser and unlocked the cockpit door. The gas was already being removed by the atmospheric scrubbers. Moving into the living quarters, he began to find the bodies. Three guards were dead in the galley. The Commander’s body slumped near the door to the Sovereign Princess’s private room. The other guards and servants were sprawled over a table.

The Princess’s door snapped open, cracking the silence.

“Computer, lights,” the Princess ordered. The room’s lights illuminated the death Jeryd had indifferently wrought. She held a laser pistol in one hand and removed the breather that had protected her from the gas with the other. She looked at the dead bodies before staring hard at Jeryd for a long moment. Her eyes drifted to the medal he’d been given for his loyalty.

“Somehow, that medal doesn’t seem appropriate now,” she said ironically.

He tore the medal from his uniform and threw it down.

The Princess raised her pistol until it was level with Jeryd’s head. They never took their eyes off each other, looking across the immense chasm between Sovereign Princess and shuttle captain.

Without a word, she ruthlessly squeezed the trigger.

The blast sizzled passed Jeryd’s ear and burned a hole through Consul Teland’s forehead as he stepped behind Jeryd with a laser in his hand. She pitilessly watched his body collapse before meeting Jeryd’s eyes again.

They rushed together, kissing deeply for the first time in weeks.

“We’re finally alone,” she said pulling at him with psychotic passion.

“Yes,” he hissed, kissing her violently. “Free.”

Damon Garn lives in Colorado Springs, CO with his wife and two children. He enjoys hiking, writing and annoying his neighbors with mediocre guitar playing. He writes in the fantasy/sci-fi realm experimenting in flash fiction, short stories and a novel. Follow him on Twitter @dmgwrites or at

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

There Was Time

by Mwangi Ichung’wa

The clock is loud in the small room. It sounds like a stopwatch – tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik – an infernal countdown to who knows what. The people who were to come here are late. The people waiting to meet them are getting anxious. They are a man and a woman, both tall and thin. The woman is lighting her third cigarette in ten minutes as she tells the man, her hands waving about, that this may not have been the best idea. Tendrils of grey cigarette smoke, wispy things, float about.

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik

There is a knock on the door. The man and woman who are not a couple exchange a glance. The cigarette hangs loose from the left corner of her mouth. The smoke curls straight up into the ceiling. The people they were to meet are here. The man heads for the door. The woman can hear her heartbeat over the clock. The sounds are not in time with each other. One beats too fast, she cannot tell which. She crushes the cigarette in a wooden ashtray.

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik

The silence is heavy as the parties mull over a slight change in plan. There are now six people in the room. Three of them are smoking and no one has thought of opening a window. There has been a problem. One of the things the four new people in the room were to bring wasn’t available. The man and the woman cannot leave this place without it. The four people cannot leave without what the man and the woman have brought themselves. They also have guns.

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik

The clock is loud in the small room; counting down the time it takes for breath to escape the crumpled bodies on the dusty carpet. Butts smoulder in the wooden ashtray, the upward spiraling tendrils growing less dense as fire slowly dies. There is a low sound, like a cough, as the last soul exits its host. Outside the light changes as the sun sets, lighting the room a fiery orange. Stark shadows of what was are drawn across the surfaces and in the stillness, disrespectful and insolent, the clock goes tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik.

Mwangi Ichung’wa is a Kenyan writer of “transgressive” fiction. Currently writing for an ad agency to pay the bills.