Terror Tonight

The Lady of Flies

My wife is the ruler of hell, but she thinks that I don’t know. It’s her little secret and I play along. My lovely Maria, for whom I will gladly die. We are waiting for those inside me to mature. Those dark things that she plants inside me as I sleep. Things that squirm beneath my skin if I am away from her for too long. They ache for their mother and scream for her using my mouth.


In the mornings we go our separate ways to work, she gives me a smile knowing that it will be a day of pain for me. But my pain is her pleasure, and her pleasure is my life. It will begin in my stomach, a small growling. It’s not my hunger but theirs. The things that Maria has put inside me demand to feed on the unclean. In my suit and tie, I take to the alleys at noon, hoping for something that they might enjoy. My Maria’s children have such a hunger that the moldy and dead can fill. If we are lucky, I can find the greatest of treats, a rat already bloated from the heat, or a cat crawling with life as it lays useless to anyone but the swarm and me.


After the children are fed it’s back to the cubicle for me. The little square that I fill during the day as the buzzing fills my head. I try not to scratch at them as they get loud enough to drown out the drone of my coworkers and their petty lives. They have nothing, but I am the bringer of the swarm. The ones who will feast on them all. However, sometimes the pain is too great and blood is under my fingernails before I know what I have done. I sit in in my car screaming at my laxness, hoping that I have not killed any of the tiny ones. Crying at the thought of failing in my duty. The children are all.


Today I have not failed, today I have kept my charges safe for their queen. We sing praises to the Dark Lady as I take the long freeway home. I scream hosannas in her name to quiet them. They scream through my head all wanting to be near her as always, their voices blend until no words can be found. Then as one, they silence themselves. A small voice tells me that it is time. I laugh because my Lady will be proud of her husband for giving her these fine children.


How shall I present the gift that she has waited for so long?

I shall give her the Valentine that she deserves.

She enters the house with a glow. Candles wait for her, and white wine to celebrate what she has waited for without complaint. I give her a kiss and my love as I set her at the table. She laughs at our largest bowl empty in front of her. Running my fingers through her hair, her eyes connect with mine just as they did on our first night. She smiles as I run the razor across my stomach to release her present into the china bowl.


I close my eyes from the pain, hearing nothing but the goodbyes of our young. I know my Maria is proud of me I don’t need to understand what she is saying to know of her love.


The end

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JD Hyde enjoys rocking back and forth in the shower rethinking his life decisions. Follow him on Twitter.

Android and Eve

Flash Fiction Friday is a series currently curated by Alanah Andrews. If you’d like to submit flash fiction for publication, please contact Introvert Press.

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Android and Eve

‘You know, I’m gettin’ real sick of these hunks of junk takin’ all our jobs.’

Steven glanced over his shoulder at the woman behind the bar, then looked at Roy with amusement. ‘You mean these hunks of highly intricate circuitry and flesh reproduction?’

Roy waved his hand in the air, as though fanning Steven’s words away, and took another long sip of his beer. ‘Don’t matter what pretty words ya use, Steve. We both know that they’re just flesh covered computers, walkin’ and talkin’ but you know what they ain’t doin?’

‘What’s that, Roy?’ asked Steven good-naturedly, tapping his finger lightly on the side of his own empty glass. He had heard the rants before, from others, but Roy had generally been, if not exactly an android-sympathiser, at least indifferent towards the AIs.

‘They ain’t thinkin’, Steve,’ announced Roy. ‘Not really. They just do what they’re programmed for. That one behind ya, pouring beer is prob’ly all it knows how to do. Just cogs and wheels turnin’ round tellin’ it to put the glass under the tap and pull the lever.’

‘So how’s she going to take your job?’

Roy sighed. ‘Not our jobs, Steven,’ said Roy. ‘We are artists. We are creative. Ya can’t program creativity.’ Steven thought that calling themselves artists was a bit of a stretch. Working in image manipulation for the local advertising agency was a job which required more patience than creativity.

‘How could you tell she was an AI?’ Steve asked with amusement. From their positioning at the table, the woman behind the bar looked completely human to him.

‘You can jus’ tell,’ said Roy, knowingly. ‘Plus, you can see the difference when ya look into their…’ he gestured towards his eyes. Steven nodded. It was a subtle difference, but if you knew what to look for you could tell older androids from humans by the thick ring around the pupil. Something to do with the optical zoom on older models. Newer androids, of course, with newer technology had no such flaws.

‘But if androids can only do menial tasks,’ said Steven, reasonably, ‘why are you so worried about them taking all the jobs?’

Roy drained his beer, slapping the glass down on the table with a loud clink. Then he leaned in close to Steven, one hand on his shoulder in confidence. ‘I said they can only do what they’re programmed to do.’ His voice was low. ‘Didya know there’s one in parliament now? Far out, we’ll have a robot prime minister in my lifetime if things don’t change.’

‘Roy,’ said Steven kindly. ‘You do realise AIs were granted citizenship before you were even born. It makes sense that some are slowly becoming represented in parliament.’

But Roy wasn’t listening. ‘It’s jus’ plain wrong,’ he said loudly, and Steve noticed with some embarrassment that the woman behind the bar was watching them. ‘They ain’t got no soul ya see. God made Adam and Eve not Android and Eve.’ Then he snorted. ‘Guess that means Mary-Anne’s gonna end up in hell with no-one there beside her.’

 Steven looked sadly at his colleague. Now it made sense. The rant, the anger. ‘She’s moved on then?’

Roy didn’t answer. Instead, he clicked his fingers at the bartender and gestured towards his glass. She nodded and started pouring another.

‘Moved on? Yeah, guess ya can call it that. I call it downgraded. Couldn’t get another living human to love her, see? So she had to go for a computer.’

‘I’m really sorry, Roy. But you have been divorced for a year. You must have been prepared for this.’

As they talked, the bartender came over with Roy’s beer and placed it on the table, collecting the empty glass. Up close, Steven could see the tell-tale ring around the android’s pupil – the clue that had tipped off Roy.  ‘Excuse me,’ said Steve suddenly to the woman. ‘I was just wondering if this is your fulltime job?’

Roy glared at Steve.

‘Oh no,’ said the bartender, smiling ruefully. ‘I’m actually studying medicine. I just work here to help pay the fees.’

Roy looked as though he was about to choke on his beer. Steven thanked the woman and turned back to Roy. ‘I guess they don’t just do what they’re programmed to do.’

Roy furiously chugged down his beer and wiped the froth off his moustache with the back of his hand. ‘It coulda at least had the decency to wear contacts,’ said Roy, gesturing towards the bartender. ‘Rather than flaunting its…’ he waved his arms around, searching for the right word.

‘Artificiality?’ suggested Steve.

‘Yeh, artificiality,’ repeated Roy. ‘Anyways, I’m gonna hit the hay. See ya at work.’

As Roy left the building, the bartender came back over to the table to pick up the empty glass.

‘Why haven’t you told him?’ she asked quietly.

Steven just shrugged. ‘I thought we lived in a world which wasn’t divided by race.’

‘We do. And you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.’ She gestured towards Steven’s face, towards the contacts that he always wore.

‘I’m not here for a lecture,’ said Steve, rising abruptly and heading towards the exit. The woman’s robotic eyes bored into his back all the way to the door.

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Alanah Andrews is an English teacher in Australia, who dreams of one day travelling the world in a bus. If you like her writing, check out her website: www.alanahandrews.com

A Life in Mexico: Being Dead

Banda music, the Latin-flavored polka music, played from the center of town.

Lupé was thinking about Maria. Maria lived down the path from Lupé. She walked by the lower part of his yard every morning about 7:00 AM. She worked at the small tortilla shop on the main block in town. Tortillas were one thing the little rancho made that could always be counted on to produce an income for those who worked there. It wasn’t a big income, but any income in this rancho was a good income. The money is why he thought of Maria. She hadn’t been going to work.

Lupé thought maybe her hours changed when he stopped seeing her walk to work. Lupé began to notice a few strangers walk from the main road down the path toward Maria’s house after a few weeks. By the time he identified the strangers as a doctor and a few family members the rumors about Maria had spread. Some said she had cancer. Others said she had fallen prey to demons. Others say a curse had been cast.

Whatever the story was about Maria’s illness, he was shocked to see the doctor and Maria’s husband help her out to the main road. She was so thin. Lupé didn’t recognize her. She’d always been a pudgy, matronly figure. Now her dress hung on her. There was a man on each of her arm directing her down the path to her husband’s truck. Finally, her husband had to pick her up and carry her the remaining distance to the truck. She placed her head against his chest and almost disappeared in his arms.

Even though he wasn’t religious, Lupé crossed himself. He heard his mother’s voice say a prayer as she too watched with concern as this shell of a woman walk down the path.

“She doesn’t look good,” Lupé said to his mother.

“She is dying,” his mother said.

“How do you know that mother?” Lupé asked.

“I just do,” she said. “Old women know these things. As you get close to death, you recognize your fellow travelers.”

“Mother,” he said. “Be quiet, you will live to be a hundred.”

“That is not far off my dear,” his mother said.

Lupé knew his mother was right about her age and time on this Earth. He shuddered at the thought of having to care for his brother alone.

“Are you scared of dying mother?” The question came as a shock to both of them. Lupé was not one to ask probing questions and his mother was not one to dwell on her own mortality, even though it consumed most of her thinking.

“I’m not scared of dying, mijo” she said with assurity. “Being dead will be good.”

“Good?” he asked with some alarm in his voice.

“Yes,” she said with simplicity. “I’m tired.”

Lupé ignored the response.

The truck with Maria and her husband sputtered to life. He heard it complain as it chugged uphill the two blocks until he could turn left and descend the long road down the mountain.

“We will not see Maria again,” his mother said.

“How do you know that?” Lupé snapped.

“She told me,” his mother said matter-of-factly.

“When did she tell you this?” he said slowly, watching his mother at the stove.

“Just now,” she said.

The hair on Lupé’s arms tingled. “What do you mean, ‘just now’?”

“Just now on the way down the road. In the truck,” she said softly.

Lupé didn’t know what to say.

“Being dead isn’t the end, mijo,” she said. “She’s free now. She’s home.”

“But how do you know?” Lupé asked a bit at a loss for words.

“My dear boy,” his mother said, still stirring the beans and lard. “I am near that occasion myself, and as you get closer you see things and hear things from beyond the veil.”

Lupé stood there consuming what his mother had said.

The banda music in town stopped, almost as if to give him time to digest what his mother had said. The silence rang through the streets in the absence of the music. The wind came down from the mountain, warm and humid. His mother turned her head into the breeze.

“Adios, Maria…mi amiga. Vaya con Dios,” his mother whispered to the wind.

Terror Tonight

Taking Out the Trash

They found him in an alley, covered in filth and reeking of old beer and piss. Waking him with a kick, the three boys laughed when he tried to crawl away. Their designer clothes and fashion magazine haircuts showed they drove in for a wild night. The smallest one giggled and said to the one with the most expensive shoes, “Hey Trent, have you ever seen a sack of trash run away before?”

By J.D. Hyde

Trent shook his head, and took a puff from his vape, “Nope, but I know how to get rid of trash. Do you know how to get rid of trash, Eddie?”

The third boy stared at the man they had circled, “Oh yes, I know how to get rid of the trash.” Eddie pulled a can of lighter fluid from his jacket pocket and said “Incineration.”

The man began to cry, and mumbling, “Please don’t, please don’t do this.”

The boys laughed as Eddie cover the man in lighter fluid, “Feel that old man, you won’t be littering our streets anymore.”

The small one began kicking him again, taking out the angst of being neither the richest nor the strongest of the group. He held a lot of anger, and the old man felt a rib break but he didn’t try to fight, he covered his head and begged, “Please don’t do it.”

Eddie pulled out a lighter and stared at the flame when he flicked it, “Old man, we are going to burn you. There’s no getting out of it.”

A wind came through the alley blowing out the flame, “I wasn’t talking to you,” the old man whispered.

Trent screamed as the boys who circled the man were circled themselves by rats. The vermin swarmed Eddie, covering him, and taking a bite with each step they took. It took less than a minute for Eddie to become bone and blood. The others didn’t try to help, they began running as soon as the rats made their move. However, Trent and Brent found that the entrance to the alley was gone. They found graffiti-covered walls were on all four sides of them, and then they began to beg.

“They are just boys,” the man said to the air. But the air didn’t listen.

Shadows that could have once been cast off, broke away from the corners grabbing the boys, pulling them into the darkness. The old man pleaded for their lives as the boys were sucked into a place darker than the night until only their screams were left. Then those faded away.

The wall that had blocked the boy’s way opened up again, with new graffiti that read, “I love you”

The old man whispered to the city, “I love you too”

End

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JD Hyde enjoys rocking back and forth in the shower rethinking his life decisions. Follow him on Twitter.

Dot of Blood

Alanah Andrews is an English teacher in Australia, who dreams of one day traveling the world in a bus. If you like her writing, check out her website: www.alanahandrews.com

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The light is piercing, even through his tightly clenched eyelids.

Odd.

Slowly opening his eyes against the glare, he notices the metal bed he is lying on, bathed in the brightness. Invisible bonds adhere him to the bed like a vice.

Panicked, he notices a shadow beside him.  A dark form, a  sliver of metal descending towards him…

He jolts awake.

A dream, just a dream.

Stumbling to the bathroom he splashes his face with icy water, washing away the remnants of the nightmare.

And, unknowingly, washing away the tiny dot of blood glistening in the centre of his forehead.

A Life in Mexico: Signs

Mom was in the doorway. It was Sunday. It was her big outing. Auntie Pia was coming to collect her to go to Sunday services. The church was only three blocks away, but the stones and the uphill path was too much for her old feet and bones. Pia was younger by twenty years and drove a blue pickup truck. During the week Pia hauled bananas and other fruit she grew to the markets nearby.

Mom always stood in the doorway a good hour before Pia arrived. She wore her almost white dress. It used to be white, but years and years of washing had faded it to more ivory. I never asked her why she stood so early in the doorway. Was she so eager to get out of the house? I wouldn’t blame her. All she did was cook for me and care for my brother who was plagued by the devil. All my brother did was lay twisted on his bed all day. His arms were contorted into odd angles and his left leg was stiff too, toes pointed and all. I thought it was ironic that his name was Angél. Mom’s life wasn’t a very good life, but that was what life was like for a poor, old lady in this part of the world: caretaker.

I’d gambled the money away Mom gave me to get eggs and potatoes so breakfast was beans, tortillas, and jalapeños- again.

I heard Pia’s truck pull up outside. She and Mom started talking loudly, Pia through her car window and Mom at the doorway. They would continue talking the entire trip to the church. They had known each other a lifetime yet still chatted as though they were school girls.

I heard their car doors slam shut, waited for the truck to pull away, and picked up my satchel. I left just a few minutes after mom and began walking down the central pathway of the rancho. The old adobe homes were painted all the colors of Easter. Some were newly painted, other were scarred with time and erosion. Skinny, feral dogs ran through the street in packs. From this vantage point, Lupé could see the Pacific Ocean. It was a good 10 km away, but it might as well be 1000 km for all the times he had gone to it.

Once he got to the edge of the rancho Lupé held back the jungle and walked down a small path. His machéte hacked at the encroaching foliage as he made his way down the path. It wasn’t long before he was wet with sweat from the humid air and physical activity. It took him an hour or so but he finally arrived at the Rio El Corte. It was summer so it was running full fueled by the regular monsoon rains they experienced every other day or so.

He had heard the rush of the river long before his eyes saw the river. He loved that sound.

Finally, he broke out of the jungle and his eyes took in the power of El Corte, water rushed dangerously from the mountain system behind him on its way to the Pacific. The river didn’t have beaches; rather, large boulders formed the banks. There was a large flat rock that he sat upon whenever he made the trek down to the river. He reached into his satchel and removed the home rolled joint and searched for the lighter with his other hand. His felt along the bottom of the satchel and searched again. He pulled his hand out and let his head drop. He’d forgotten his lighter. After a pause,  he thought he left it sitting on the concrete block beside his bed.

He swore under his breath.

He swore under his breath again.

He put his hands behind him, propping up his body. His fingers felt the rock below him and he turned to look at the engravings that covered most of the rocks. No one knew where the engravings came from, they’d been there longer than his town had been there, and that was a long time. Every once in awhile gringos would come to their rancho with new clothes and shiny cars. They’d pay someone in town to lead them to the engravings. Those were good days. They would sometimes pay 200 pesos, an entire days’ wage for the hour walk down to the river.

He looked at the carvings and wondered where they came from or what they meant. The gringos would talk about the carvings being called “hieroglyphs”. That was a word 

He looked at the carvings and wondered where they came from or what they meant. The gringos would talk about them being something called “hieroglyphs”. That was a word he’d heard and largely forgotten. To him, and the people in the rancho, they were just signs. The old people, higher up in the mountains, who called themselves The Cora, had said from time to time the carvings were signs.

Lupé wondered for a few seconds about what kind of signs these carvings were. Did they mean their town would be given gold from the gods? Did it mean they would be lifted up into the sky with aliens? Lupé laughed to himself and thought ‘maybe they could tell him where his fucking lighter was.’

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René Moreno, State of Nayarit, Mexico

The Good Girlfriend

Alanah Andrews is an English teacher in Australia, who dreams of one day traveling the world in a bus. If you like her writing, check out her website: www.alanahandrews.com

The Good Girlfriend

When we first started dating, I thought it was cute that he played video games. He would sit on the worn couch for hours, tongue stuck halfway out in concentration as he lined the head of an enemy up in the crosshairs of his sniper’s rifle.

I was always the good girlfriend, cheering him along as he jabbed the controls like an excited child.

Eventually, realising he paid more attention to the characters in his virtual world than to me, I gave him an ultimatum.

He didn’t even pause his game to say goodbye.

Shooting your enemies is surprisingly satisfying…