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Five Sentence Fiction – The List

Five Sentence Fiction – The List, or, “Horizon”

The List

Buy a pack of squares on my way to the apartment.
Execute the agreements.
Close blinds, tape mouth, handcuff.
Shoot him once; remember gloves.
Kill the dog.


Author’s Notes

My train of thought… horizons are a visual anomaly, something that’s not real, an illusion. People buy into illusions, and then I came up with all sorts of ideas and started about 5 small stories but nothing grabbed my attention. Then I thought that money is really just an illusion, fiat currency, that has no value of its own, which led me to Ponzi schemes and a well-known case from the 1980’s called the BBC, or Billionaire Boys Club.

The BBC had cons inside of cons, and, at the trial, this list of things to do came out – the leader of the BBC had decided to murder someone and had seven frickin’ pages of things to do.

Big Black, a little known noise-rock band from Chicago (and also one of my favorite Steve Albini bands), wrote a song about it called, “Things To Do Today” that added the “buy a pack of squares” line. Being pretty naive, I had to look up what that meant (it’s old slang for cigarettes).

This five sentence fiction is based on that court trial and that list of things to do.

Blue Light Special [Flash Fiction]

Blue Light Special



“I missed you today.” He said. To himself. To nobody, really, and laughed.

Bobby wasn’t kidding any more. He knew that he had to go. He knew that the blue lights were for him.

And they weren’t. All at the same time.

Bobby was going to go there and Bobby was going to do what he had to do. Bobby was going to be Bobby.



And it wasn’t going to be easy.

“That’s okay,” Bobby thought, “because I am me and who are you to tell me that what’s right or what’s wrong? Who are you to tell ME? I’ll show you. I’ll show ALL of you…”

Bobby went away that day. He went away to the morgue. He did what he thought he must. The voices in his head were louder and louder. Only he wasn’t really doing it for him. he was doing it for them. Bobby wasn’t crazy, the voices in his head were *real.* Real as you and me. And that’s where things went wrong for Bobby.




When the nice man at the funeral home, “Mr. Montgomery but everyone calls me Monty,” sawed open Bobby’s head, Monty got a surprise. Only he didn’t know it. He had let out the thing, let’s call it a demon, and it got into him.

It needs a host, see.

Monty’s business went gangbusters for a while. He saw blue lights everywhere, and they were for him. They showed him the way. Well, *a* way, and Monty decided that this way was a good way.

Monty had to be Monty, to do what Monties do best! And business was booming for the funeral home. Until it wasn’t. Because, while Monty had to be Monty and do what Monties do best, the blue lights started to go away and Monty tried to get back the mojo. Monty tried to get it back by being Monty and following the bright blue light.

The one he knew would get him in trouble, but the voices, they were so *real* and they wouldn’t stop. Soon, Monty couldn’t sleep, Monty couldn’t be Monty if this kept up, so Monty had to take action.

Monty was the last customer for the family business.




The demon found a home in Monty’s son, Burl. Burl was, by all accounts, decidedly NOT burly. There’s an irony to names, like naming your sons winner and loser, and, wouldn’t you know it, Lou ends up being successful and Winn ends up in and out of jail.

Burl decided that enough was enough, and the family business had done so well that he could sell it off to a big company that would keep the name so the townsfolk would keep coming.

Burl had problems. Burl wasn’t right in the head. And now that the demon force found fresh meat, he was even less right in the head.

Today, Burl would drive away from that small town in a Corvette. A 1991 C4, painted Competition Yellow. Bought it from his buddy, Easton, who had it in storage while he was off to college.

Funny thing about addiction, you give in to the demon and it lets you overindulge. Compels you to, really. Burl liked his liquor brown and expensive. With the funeral parlor money, a shiny Corvette, and nobody telling him, “Burl, put down the bottle,” or, “Burl, don’t you think you’ve had enough?” Burl was happy to indulge.

Then the blue lights came. Just a spec of blue, just for a moment. Then the moments got longer. Then Burl had to see what they were.

That’s when the voices got louder. “Burl, it’s just one drink. And she’s so pretty, you won’t have the courage otherwise.”

Burl didn’t have the courage otherwise, and he knew it. Burl was a bad boy, and the brown liquor made him *cool.*




The paramedic that cut Burl out of his Corvette couldn’t have known that Burl’s head wounds were leaking more than brains and blood, couldn’t have known about the demon, couldn’t have known about the horrors that lay in wait.

Jack always hit her where there wouldn’t be any marks. Jen knew that she really WAS lucky to have him. Nobody else would want her. He really loves her. He needs her.

But, lately, she’s feeling a twinge. She’s feeling unsatisfied. Lately, Jack’s left temple is sparkling with little blue dots. She can’t tell him about it, but she has an urge. A feeling.

A compulsion.

“No, I love him,” she mutters.

“What did you say? Who are you talking to?” Jack was still panting and wiped the corner of his mouth with the back of his wrist.

“He means it this time,” she said, quieter.

“You’d better tell–”

They all give in, eventually. They give in to themselves. They embrace the demon. They change. The do what they must. They become more themselves than they ever had been in their entire lives. The voices, the lights, the coaxing reach a crescendo.

Jen landed the Louisville Slugger to Jack’s left temple.


Author’s Notes

Everyone struggles with something. Usually, we can keep our inner demons in check. But what if you can’t? What if there’s an invisible force that infects you and brings out the bad… with a vengeance?

Did you ever wonder why some people snap? They have their problems, their little demons, and maybe they’re really good at hiding it until one day. That one day. The snap. And it goes horribly wrong.

Glitch [flash fiction]

The screen glitches.

The set looks like scrambled 1980’s porn, you cuddled up to the screen, volume off, watchful that your parents aren’t coming. You reach into your pants.

The screen glitches.

Static flares and the patterns swirl and taunt. Your monkey brain makes faces in the hash and you tilt your head like a dog. You begin to imagine – no, believe – you are in the scene in Poltergeist. Carrie-Anne…

The screen glitches.

The light in the house is on and the blinds are pulled. There’s music, and what appears to be dancing. A police car pulls up, leaves the lights on, and two cops get out. Their breath floats in the air as they check their holsters, look at each other, and walk up to the door.

They knock and nobody answers. One backs away and covers one ear, picks up his radio and you can see his mouth moving as his partner pulls on his belt and kicks the door just on the other side of the handle.

They walk inside.

The screen glitches.

The high-pitched groan screeches and you fumble for the volume, but it’s already down all the way. You twist it up and back again, but nothing changes.

The screen glitches.

You touch the screen and it glows around your finger and begins to hum. Laughter.

A woman with too-bright red lipstick is coming down the stairs on a cruise ship. She looks at no one. Which is to say she looks at everyone. Secretly.

She passes and you smell her perfume. You’re instantly transported to your second grade classroom and the schoolmarm’s smell as she walked past you.

You look down and see a trail of urine.

The screen glitches.

The cops are now inside the house, and there’s a long hallway that faces the street. The house smells… wrong. The rooms are lined up along the hall and each has its blinds closed.

There’s splashing and laughter and loud music, lights flashing. The cop knocks.


The cop calls out.


He opens the door.

Inside is a large hot tub. Six or eight people are in it, splashing around.

Something’s wrong. Terribly wrong. The second cop pukes as he holds onto the door frame and bends over. “God in heaven,” the first cop mumbles and reaches for switch.

The people in the hot tub are all dead, naked, propped up, puppets on sticks attached to a motor. They motor winds down and the dance of the dead stops. Their eyes are gouged out and their heads are fixed in place, staring at the door.

The screen glitches.

“This isn’t a dream. This isn’t a dream. This isn’t a dream.” The voice chants. Becomes almost musical. A high-pitched squeal starts up again. A shiver goes up your spine and you slowly look behind you.

The screen glitches.

Screaming from the alley and a man running, his zippered hoodie billowing behind him. This is too surreal, you think, and you start to believe that it must be a dream. You stand and watch horrors, hoping that it is a dream. Oh, God, please let it be a dream. It’s a dream, right? Right? Help?

The screen glitches.

Two women sit on a bench and look at each other. “One of These Nights” by the Eagles is playing in the background. The lights are low.

There’s a shadow creeping up behind them, and you shake your head and think, “No, no, no! Run!” It’s too late. The great American horror story unfolds in front of you and you just stare.

The killer looks at you. “This is good,” you think as the adrenaline fades, excited that you lost yourself in it for a moment. The killer’s hand reaches out and begins to press on the television screen. You fall back and the hand grabs your ankle and digs its fingernails into your flesh.

You kick at the hand and it lets go. You turn off the TV and the arm severs and wilts in front of you, leaving a black, powdery mess on the floor.

The screen glitches and turns back on.


Author’s notes

Everyone says that you should never write in the second person. It’s awful and nobody likes it.

Challenge accepted.

I don’t think it actually came out badly, but I do see where people wouldn’t like it. I’ve never written this way before, but I’m stretching myself after not having written in over a month.

The screen glitching, in my mind, is like a channel changing to a channel that’s just static for a moment, like on old TVs where it would go all haywire for a fraction of a second. In that second, sometimes you could swear you saw something. Perhaps, in the wee morning hours, you DID see something, and you lost control of it…

Sketchbook – flash fiction



“See, right there, she just winces and grabs her side,” he said, touching the screen with his finger. The camera was zoomed out, it was an old security film, the black and white kind that hardly has any details at all.

“Wait, back it out,” said Amber, as she was pushing his hands away from the controls. As the zoom receded , there was a man. A man outside the window. He was looking in with a crazed determination that you see in movies, the kind where the bad guy has red rungs under his eyes, his hair is sweaty, and he is tilting his head slightly down do that he has to look up to see you straight on. That creepy kind of stare. It sent chills down Amber’s spine.

“We need to talk with him. Find out who that is.”


Fred hadn’t known what happened, only that it worked. After the accident down at the nuclear plant, he stayed home and just sat around, the thoughts burning in his head, his mind, the disaster, the radiation. He didn’t want it to ruin him, but that voice was now small and quaint, in deference to the other voice in his head.

“DRAW THEM,” it commanded, and he grabbed a flimsy kids’ sketchbook and began to doodle. The sketches were terrible.


“The accident down at Indian Creek? That was three years ago,” she pursed her lips and took some notes.

“Yup. I tried to find him but his house is abandoned. Along with half the town.”


“Down on First and Oak, corner lot, dollhouse-lookin’ place. Can’t miss it.”


The blue dollhouse with purple trim *was* hard to miss. The boarded-up windows and eviction note on the door weren’t exactly hard to miss, either.

The door was open and the house smelled like a mid-century house. The squeak of the door startled her as the wind blew it shut. She looked around the debris – someone had wrecked the place. “Hmph. Hobos,” she thought as she scattered some papers with her foot. She found a door leading downstairs, a dim light glowing. She closed her eyes, whispered a prayer and fumbled for the light switch.

The basement of her mom’s house always freaked her out as a kid. Her mom kept the garbage down in the basement; when a bag filled up, you had to take it down. She always held her breath and ran, stopping on the bottom stair, never brave enough to step onto the cold concrete.

Making her way down the creaking, groaning steps, she felt her grip tightening on the rail as she bent over to see into the basement.

The room was lit by a single bulb, dim and swaying. She saw the small, rectangular window open and took another few steps. The room overflowed with sketchbooks. Everywhere, books piled on books. She picked up the closest one and carefully thumbed through it.


Faces of people. With names on them. Faces that she recognized as towns folk.

Some of the sketches were terrible, and dated from three years ago. The more recent they got, the better the drawings were. She jumped at the date of one picture: two weeks ago. She looked up and scanned the dark corners, holding her breath and listening. She scolded herself for being that same scaredy-cat girl and picked up the next sketchbook.

The pictures in this book were torn about 3/4 through. the pictures were’t bad, but they were torn nonetheless. No eraser marks, just tears. Tears right through the face.

In the corner was a desk with a small reading lamp and another pile of sketchbooks and an old coffee can full of pencils and pens. She carefully made her way across the room, stepping over piles of sketchbooks and catching her balance on the back of the chair. The creak of the chair shattered the silence and spooked her again.

“Get a hold of yourself, Amber,” she said to herself. “It’s just a basement. A spooky basement, but a basement.”

The cover of the sketchbook had “rebma” inscribed in jagged letters. Opening the cover, she stood up in a panic as the sketch on the first page was her. And the next page. And the next, on through the entire sketchbook. She dropped the book and tried to shake the creepy off of her hands, then wiped them on her pants.

The laughter started from under the stairs, as she whipped around she caught a glint of light in his eyes. She looked around her, desperately looking for a second exit, eyeing the narrow basement window and clambering onto the desk.

Fred crept out of the shadow of the staircase, dirty, unkempt, the missing teeth made him look even crazier. He had a piece of paper in his hands. A drawing. A portrait.

A sharp pain in her side stopped her climb, the horror in her eyes as she fell pleased Fred as he finished tearing the picture in half.



Author’s notes

I’ve always been an artist in addition to being a writer. I was in honors English classes in high school, the editor of the high school’s literary magazine, and I was also the class artist.

I was in the Navy’s nuclear power program for 8 years. I was always fascinated that people thought that radiation could make you into the Incredible Hulk or magically bestow some paranormal power.

I combined these things in this flash fiction.

My middle name is Fredrick.

Mutagen Experiments

“Don’t go lookin’ down in there,” she said and raised a brow. Just one brow. I can’t raise just one brow, but she can. She can do lots of things that I can’t.

That look, though, that look was for me and I knew that I couldn’t look. Which is why I had to.

Down by the fence post there’s a gutter. down in the gutter, there are things that crawl inside. I saw a rat go in there, and I saw a little chipmunk go in there once, too. Never did see them come out.

Today, though, I thought I saw something in there. I though I saw it and I looked because, well, you know that I had to because she told me not to.

There were eyes in there. The light from the sewer shone in a rectangular shaft and just highlighted eyes with frizzy hair coming down into her face. The eyes were yellow and rimmed with red, like perhaps death warmed over. I couldn’t stop looking.

She moved out of the light and I had to get another look. I got my huge flashlight, the really big on that I use when I go camping, that one, and I lit it up and looked down in there again. I found that girl still lookin’ up out at me, and behind her was a man, strapped to a chair, with a fierce fury brewing behind those eyes. He looked even more tired than her and was also looking right at me. I stepped back and yelled for Sherrie.

“Hey! Sherrie! Get over here!” I said as I flashed the light back and forth between the two characters in the sewer.

“Wha- oh, goddamnit,” she said and put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I TOLD YOU NOT TO. LOOK. IN. THERE.” She tapped her toe and and stared at me.

“I- I didn’t-” I stammered, looking down at them and then up back at Sherrie. “I thought you- well, I thought you’d want to see them. It’s freakin’ me out!”

“I don’t need to see them. I put them there.” She pulled her hands off her hips and turned around, pulling a small steno book from her bag. “See the big one there, the one that’s tied up?” She pointed at him and he didn’t break his gaze at me. “Him? He’s too far gone. All zombie now. I tied him up a week ago.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You’re shitting me.” I said, trying for a laugh.

“I ain’t shittin’ ya, boy!” She yelled at me. She never yells at me. Except when I do what she told me not to do because that’s what I do. So I guess she does yell at me. But she knows I’m going to do it, so why the pretense?

“The OTHER one, the girl, she’s about 2 days into it. She’s still thinkin’, that one, she’s still there in her head but I can’t let her out or she’ll turn other folks into zombies. Can’t have that, nope.” She shook her head and looked down in the dungeon, then held out the steno by the corner and moved it up and down a couple of times. I took it.

The book was a diary of sorts, filled with pages of zombie hunting, zombie experimentation, and she was building a zombie catalog, all the folks that were turned into zombies, starting from the back page and working backwards.

My name was on the list.

“Hey – why’s my name here? I’m not a zombie! I didn’t even know zombies were real until 10 seconds ago.” I said and started towards her. She had turned her back to me and was rifling through her bag again. I came up behind her, “Sher… hey, why am I-”

She turned and stuck me with a needle in my shoulder.

“OW!” I jumped back and she smiled.

“You are now,” she said. “That was a mutagen with an accelerator.” She went back to the bag, pushing things aside, looking for something. “Ah, here it is,” she said and held up a little black box. “And here’s the antidote.” She smiled again, walked over to the hole, and tossed the black box into the room with the 2 zombies.

I backed up away from her, over towards her bag.

“Now, one of them’s tied up, the other’s not,” said to me as I rubbed my arm. “You’ve got about 45 minutes to figure out how to get your antidote. You’ve been a great experiment, Rudy, faithful but stupi-”

I stabbed the needle into her arm.



Author’s notes

This was actually a dream I had last night – it was very real, but I suppose I should have known it was a dream while I was in it, but there weren’t the normal cues, so my subconscious went along with it.

My dream actually progressed across several dreams, at one point I was¬†nonchalantly¬†carrying a bloody zombie head in a burlap sack, going about my business. Figured I’d keep the reader in suspense, though, and not let on that I won out and claimed a decapitated zombie head as my prize.

I’m trying desperately to write quickly and to make few edits. I am trying to keep the writing simple, small words, things I would actually say in an average conversation, and avoid adverbs. I think I’m getting better all the time, though the stories don’t always lend themselves to the flash fiction style of writing. Even so, I adapt them, as I’ve done here, so the writing tells the story quickly and let’s the reader get on with her day.

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