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Tell Her

Every time we post a story, we try to have a cute, clever, twisted intro, something to ingratiate, keep light, make it seem like fun, pique. Plus, yknow, the Twilight Zone.

This story doesnt need an introduction, other than: as powerful as words get.

Tell Her by Marietta Miles




Tell my mother I am safe. Tell her things are not how I wanted but as they simply turned out to be.

Let her know, at the end, I felt the press of her strong arms around me. Like when I was just a kid. She would say her goodbyes in front of the school or at the door to the bright yellow bus. And she would break a sad smile when I squirmed away because I was so ready to grow up. Tell her I remembered.

Tell her it was the warm, sugary smell of her hair and the familiar curve of her neck that I imagined while lying in the sticky dark—hollowed-out, afraid, alone. Tell her the memory of her ferocious hugs and even her frustrated scolds kept a tiny hole of hope open inside of me until the very end. Tell her that I dreamed of coming home to her.

Let her know, after a while, I barely felt his fingers, his hands or any of the rest of him. Behind my closed eyes I pictured her face. She looked through our kitchen window. She waved at me in the spotlight of a bright spring sun. It was his eyes, greedy and wide with the sight of my pain and my crying, I stared into during my long final hours. But let her know it was only her eyes that I could see.

And though there is nothing left for my mother to bury or inter, tell her, in some way, I will always be with her. Help her. End all her worry. Because what’s done is done and nothing worse can come. Tell her I miss her and I am so sorry I couldn’t stay. Tell her I love her and I will always be her baby.

Marietta Miles has published stories with Thrills, Kills and Chaos, Flash Fiction Offensive and Revolt Daily. Her writing can be found in anthologies available through Static Movement Publishing and Horrified Press. Marietta Miles is on Facebook. More stories can be found at www.mariettamiles.blogspot.com.

Toxic Soul

Like Mama used to always say: When you point a finger at someone else, just remember that you have two and a half more pointing back at you.

Mama had the diabetes.

Toxic Soul by Matt Mattila




Her presence was a gift. It didn’t matter that I had an office job that paid a quarter million a year, five days a week, at the largest investment firm in the country. It didn’t matter that I had money, a decent house, a nice car. You can have everything and still not be whole unless you’ve got a good-looking girl in your bed. That’s what I thought anyway.

Gabriella was perfect. She knew it. Beautiful girls always do. That’s the problem with them. The entire reason I worked all those hours to afford the house and the car was so I could have a girl like her. I was out of the house too much. She knew I wouldn’t dare cheat. I knew even with the house and the money I would never have a girl like her again—beautiful, sophisticated, intelligent.

Gabriella could have any man she wanted. She didn’t want me anymore. It didn’t matter that she lived in my house, wore the clothes I bought her, slept in my bed. Any man would be willing to do it just to have her.

Maybe that was why she cheated.

I didn’t follow her in the car to her lover’s house. I didn’t hire a private investigator, however much I thought about it. I didn’t raise a fuss when I heard her talking dirty into the phone at three in the morning, under the cover of the bathroom fan. I didn’t say anything when she sent me an accidental text saying she was glad I hadn’t found out about them, and would “I” like to meet her at the Pier at four in the afternoon for an early dinner. I said goodbye to her the next morning, said I’d see her in a bit, hoped she’d have fun out with the girls. I didn’t leave fifteen minutes later to follow her. I went out to buy a gun.

I knew I’d get away with killing her. I had enough to buy a juror off. Enough to make someone silent. Only one person out of twelve, and I’d be free. I love the American system.

I could always save my money (Market had been bad. Maybe that was why she cheated. She knew I couldn’t afford her anymore) and ask my father to pull strings, pollute the jury pool, get me a good lawyer, rub elbows with my judge. I could always say I was half-asleep and thought she was a burglar. Getting a gun was easy. Getting out would be easier. The hard part was doing it. I procrastinated. I waited nine days before I finally did it. I wouldn’t regret it. I kept switching the moment from the daytime, her walking in (“I thought she was burglar,” I would say, “and I panicked.”) to the middle of the night. The night would be perfect. I could tell them I was sleeping. I woke up, thought I saw/heard an intruder, picked my gun up, shot em.

I went to bed first that Thursday. She didn’t come in till midnight. She laid next to me without a word, in the millimeter-thin nightgown I’d bought her last week. She stayed silent. She did nothing. She drifted off to sleep. She wheezed out her nose. Maybe she had a cold.

I lay there with my eyes open, stabbing daggers at the soft skin on the back of her neck, the bulges of her vertebrae. I took a finger and poked her. She didn’t budge. She must’ve popped one of the sleeping pills I didn’t take tonight. She was passed out.

I swiveled my head around to look at the bedside table. The gun wasn’t behind the tissue box. It wasn’t under the lamp. It wasn’t near my glass of water on the edge, on the floor, under my pillow.

The gun wasn’t on my side. I peeked my head over her shoulder.

Then I saw it gleaming in the moonlight on top of her metal change basket. How did it get there? I didn’t remember leaving it there. Then again, I hadn’t been thinking clearly of late. Maybe she’d put it there, knew I was going to kill her, was testing me. Maybe the snore was fake and she was waiting for me to reach for it.

I didn’t care anymore. I had one chance at this. My arm trembled when I leaned over her, half my body twisting in something unhuman, my heart beating an inch from her warm skin. My shoulder almost scraped against her. My breath made her hair dance.

She might’ve been dead already. I couldn’t hear her breathe. Maybe my heart was beating too fast.

I had summoned the courage to reach an arm out. My hand landed on a pocket mirror. Her white teeth glistened in the darkness. She didn’t flinch when she slipped the gun from under her pillow and put cold metal on warm flesh and shot me.


Matt Mattila was published in Yellow Mama, Near to the Knuckle and Shotgun Honey before he turned 19. Moonlighting as a food runner, busboy and restaurant host, he spends his free time wishing he could come up with a pen name weirder than his real one. He lives on the wrong side of a Connecticut city. Find him on Facebook.

The Golden Rule

There are rules and laws and social contracts that govern our everyday lives, 

but there's one that supersedes them all: the law of the jungle. 

The Golden Rule by Paul Newman



“Shit!  Give me a hand up!”  Mickey was down, both hands clenched his knee.  He tried to straighten his leg and felt something grind and bite like stripped out gears.  He knew there was no way it would hold his weight.  He stretched out for his Remington to push himself up off the ground, but it was a few feet out of reach.

David walked back from where he was waiting at the next fence.  Mickey reached up to him.  “C’mon man, give me a hand up.  Those things are right behind us.”  

David ignored Mickey’s hand and grabbed the shotgun instead. He took a look down the way they had just come; nothing was moving, yet.  He looked down at Mickey and shook his head.  "Sorry, Mick.  Tough break.”  David reached into his waistband and pulled out his .38 then started taking cartridges out until there was only one loaded chamber left.  He flicked it shut with a flip of the wrist.

“C’mon dammit!  Quit jerkin’ around!  Give me a hand up!”  Mickey's arm shook as he strained to reach but David didn't move.

“Ya know, I don’t think I’m gonna do that.”

There was a splintering crash at the far end of the alley.

“You son of a bitch!”

“Sorry man, but by the time they’re done with you, I’ll be long gone and out of here.  I don’t have to outrun those things, I just have to outrun you.  It's Darwin, ya know?  The first rule is survival.”

David tossed the .38 down to Mickey.  “Here, there’s one left in there for you.  You won't have to feel a thing.”  He turned and ran back toward the far end of the alley.
David's left leg buckled and dropped him to the asphalt and then he felt the punch, like someone hit the back of his leg with a baseball bat.  The pain came at the same time as the sound, the booming roar of a gunshot.  David grabbed for his knee but it was gone, replaced by a wet useless lump of meat and shattered bone.  David heaved himself over on his back and saw Mickey on the ground a few yards away.  The .38 was still aimed at him and the barrel was still smoking from his one bullet. 

David reached for the shotgun but it had slid a few feet away under a dumpster.  Out of reach.  “You stupid bastard!  You were already dead, now we’re both fucked!”

Mickey lit up a smoke and took one long, deep drag.  “I don’t know anything about Darwin and survival and all that shit you were talking about but I got my own rules.  One of 'em is that you never turn your back on a loaded gun.  You broke that rule and now you're learnin' about another one.  Paybacks are a bitch, Davey Boy.  It's the golden rule: paybacks are a bitch!”

David tried to drag himself over to the Remington but it was too late; they were here.  All time became now and the world condensed to a single point that was filled with pain.  Each man heard the other die but that didn't make it any easier in the end. 

Paul Newman lives in Northern California with his wife, daughter, and a neurotic beagle. He sleeps with the closet light on and keeps a cricket bat next to the bed… just in case. He's on twitter as @logicalvoodoo.

Tribute

Stealing intimate pictures of woman has been in the news a lot lately.

Just dont try that shit down here. This is how we handle such problems in the Gutter.

Tribute by Grant Jerkins




She sat on the couch in the apartment thinking about all of this and realized that what bothered her most about the photographs was the memory of who she was when they were taken. When she allowed them to be taken. She had been in love with Jeremy. She trusted him. Completely. She trusted Jeremy so much that she gave herself to him, physically and emotionally. She gave all of herself to him. Like a child.

It was her smile—in the one photo—that disturbed her more than any other single detail. Not the exposed labia, or the way her fingers squeezed her erect nipples. Her smile told the viewer that she was comfortable and proud. Comfortable with herself and comfortable with her lover. He was the one who made her feel good about her body. So much so that she would reveal herself to him. And allow the photos to be taken. And pride. There was pride in that smile, because that was what she had been feeling. She had been proud that Jeremy was so aroused by her, that he wanted these photographs to admire, to get him through the times when they couldn’t be together.

And now, now those images of her were online for gross middle-age men to look at and masturbate to. Or worse.

One anonymous gentleman had printed her photo and ejaculated on her face. He put it in an envelope and mailed the repugnant results to her. He called it a “cum tribute.”

Jermy (that’s how she thought of him now—filth-ridden, disgusting, bacteria-laden) had posted her photos along with her email, phone number, and home address. Now, whenever her doorbell rang, she cowered in a back room, afraid of what sort of human mental-health-mishap might be waiting outside her door. Maybe just a horny guy looking to offer her a real-life tribute. Or maybe a darker sort, wanting to cut her up into a dozen pieces and take her home to meet his mother’s corpse.

Why was there so much hatred towards women? What was wrong with men?

She heard a cell phone ringing somewhere. A ringtone she didn’t recognize. It sounded faint but close. Like it was just outside (or possibly somewhere inside) the apartment. She knew what Jermy’s phone sounded like, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t change it.

The photos had been emailed to her employer—the board of education. Her career was over.

The landlord couldn’t evict her. That would be illegal. But she’d received notice he wasn’t going to renew her lease.

So she would be unemployed and homeless. She would have to move back home with her parents.

The pictures had been sent to them, too. Now she would have to see that knowledge in her father’s eyes.

There wasn’t anybody in her life who hadn’t viewed or heard about the photos. Jermy had seen to it.

She was an electronic-age Hester Prynne. She had allowed herself to be used. She was no longer pure. And now society was going about its age-old job of punishing her.

The phone was ringing again. It was definitely coming from inside the apartment. Maybe from the bedroom. She got up to investigate, but there was a knock at the door. An almost timid knock. She started to hide behind the couch, but decided to peek through the side curtain. A giant of a man stood out there. Darkness twisted his features.

It was Rodney. She opened the door.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I left my phone here earlier.” His voice was mellow and as deep as the Mariana Trench.

“Oh?”

“Yes’m, back in the bedroom most likely.”

“Oh.”

“May I?”

“Yes, of course.” She opened the door wider to let Rodney in and followed him back to the bedroom. He knew where it was.

The room smelled like springtime in prison: Strawberry Astroglide, blood and semen. Jermy—naked, spread eagle, and tied to the bedposts—was starting to regain a murky consciousness.

“There it is,” Rodney said and pointed under the tripod. He reached down and retrieved his phone, then leaned over Jermy like a doctor checking on a patient.

“How you doin’?”

Jermy looked up at the large man and said, “Wha?” That was all he could manage. Partly because he had been drugged with Rohypnol, and partly because there was something seriously wrong with his mouth.

She had cashed in her 401K to arrange for this.

Rodney smiled kindly at Jermy and patted his cheek.

“You a good fuck, boy. S’prised me. Took to it natural. Damn fine cocksucker too. Least once I got rid them front teeth.”

As if to prove his point, Rodney inserted a thick forefinger through Jermy’s lips, where it met no resistance whatsoever. He gave Jermy’s ear a rough, but playful tug. And then a little love bite on the lobe.

“Let me know soon’s them pictures is ready. I goan send you a tribute.”

Grant Jerkins is the author of the novels A Very Simple Crime, At the End of the Road, and The Ninth Step. His newest novel, Done in One (with co-writer Jan Thomas), will be published by St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books, January 2015