It is 1949, and I have now seen the world. I’ve seen Germany on its knees, its people both horrified and grief-stricken for the soldiers they lost and the crimes they committed before dying. It seems it really was true that most people had no idea of the atrocities that the Nationalist Socialists had carried in the name of ‘strengthening Germany’, even though many claimed to be devoted followers. I saw Dachau and Auschwitz in front of me on their worst days of cruelty, and there were many of them. Had to see it from a distance, because I neither look German nor speak any. If I’d been seen, they would’ve probably thought I was a gypsy and matters would get complicated.I was in Hiroshima on D-Day.
Yes, I am once again opening up The Chamber Magazine. Click on the photo or the link to go to its revamped homepage. Check out the submissions page … The Chamber Magazine Rises Again
I met the world-weary expatriate American at a garden party in Egypt in ’89, several months after he had left the Somali oilfields. He remembered that outside his barracks near Mogadishu there had been warehouses full of rice donated by foreign charities to combat the perpetual famine.
They both looked wearily at each other, soon deciding to get back to work.
Oktavia inhibited Elizabet by pulling her close, the depth of her scent inhaled like a coiling python ready to eat their prey. Her eyes, draping ice.
Marion steadily drummed her fingers on the metal desktop. It was a trick that she had picked up many years ago, something that kept her grounded and relaxed in tense situations. Marion had always found rhythms and patterns to be calming. Of course, some people around her found it a little annoying.
It certainly seemed to be annoying Colonel Blythe. He shot her a stern glance, which she of course ignored. She decided that it served him right, for taking such a deliberately long time to read through the documents she’d brought.
He was clearly unhappy about the whole situation. For a man like him, handing over control of such a delicate military situation to anyone else would be unthinkable. Being forced to hand over to a female civilian, on the wrong side of forty-five, with a name like Marion would be particularly insufferable.
But he couldn’t, and wouldn’t, defy the orders written in that beige dossier.
Then I went to this historic cafe, a fine edifice jutting into the sidewalks, with prominent pillars of azure blue and pink, and amber coloured glass panes and leaf motifs on primal walls, a few hundred yards away from city enceinte. Two hundred years might have passed since its birth, and once it was the château of the gentry and later converted to a garrison and then a cafe. Old honchos gave way to new ones. The cafe was thronged by silk-stockings and the au courant and mixed populace lending it cosmopolitan aureole… It was still morning and the sun was young and the guests went to and fro, some getting down from limousines and others leaving the quarter. Here in this swank bistro on that December morning, I met the old gentleman, quiet and doddery in demeanour.
He might have been in his late sixties, with hair partly white and partly cinereous. He sat in the bistro for an hour or more languishing and now and then, fiddling the little cigarette lighter he kept in his palm. He carried a Dobermann of rare Isabella fawn hue with him. He grinned at the watchman and attempted to enter decisively because it was where pooches were permitted entry. At that point, the gatekeeper objected and so did the administrator and there was a tussle between the portcullis and the counter. The supervisor argued that a significant number of visitors were kids underneath the age ten and the Dobermann might scare them. And the supervisor’s words prevailed. This was the moment he chose to sit opposite me.
Through years of comments, sneers, good meaning, she developed a sense of people’s true selves. Sticks and stones may break her bones, but words gnawed.
She was sitting on a train one night. A man was sitting opposite, smiling at her – incessantly. He wore purple crocodile cowboy boots and a Stetson – conspicuous.
The alcohol had exceeded its peak and left a sludge of sleepiness, as the train rocked, her head dropped. Every jolt woke her, ahead and unmistakable, the man never ceasing to show those pearly whites, a crocodile smile. The end of the line – ‘howdy ma’am’ a Texas twang as he helped her to her feet.
Tony was seated at a bar with a group of unfamiliar faces and the only reason he was there in the first place was that his roommate, Bradley had dragged him out of the confines of the small, dingy hostel room they shared. Unlike his roommate and the people he was surrounded with, Tony wasn’t a talker and didn’t enjoy divulging information about himself to others.
The little girl rattled off an impressive order, mostly bread and pies, things that every household would need. With a guilty flicker of her eyes, the little girl also requested a few cakes. The Baker suppressed a smile and said nothing. She had a feeling those cakes would be gone by the time the girl returned home.
‘I don’t recognize you from the village. Does your family live out in the woods?’ The Baker asked, neatly piling the pastries into the little girl’s basket.
‘Yes. We’re hunters.’
‘Goodness, all of you?’
‘Yes. We only hunt wolves, though. We move around a lot, you see. That’s why you don’t know me.’
The Baker smiled to herself at the little girl’s bravado.
‘I think you must be very brave, to hunt wolves.’
The little girl beamed. ‘My name’s Rosie. Your pies smell lovely.’
‘Thank you. They’re famous around here. Or at least, they were.’ The Baker tucked the cloth over the top of the basket. She eyed the girl thoughtfully. The child couldn’t be more than ten years old, rather young to be wandering around alone. It was common practice for parents to give their children brightly coloured cloaks, to make them easier to spot. Red was a popular colour, but this little girl wore a vivid blue cloak, with a sunflower embroidered on the back. The ribbon threaded through her black curls matched the cloak perfectly.
‘Are you going home by yourself?’
He didn’t know why she’d asked to meet at the old cottage. It had been years since his wife had even mentioned this property. She greeted him at the door with a smile, vastly different from the weird behaviour exhibited by her since the last two weeks. “Come in,” she ushered him towards the living room. “Let’s sit and talk for a little while before dinner.”
Here are the rest of the entries for last week’s Horror House Wednesday prompt in the order received
Here are the rest of the flash fiction entries in the order received
All the entries received were excellent to read, each one detailing their own individual spin of loss, discovery, dark humor and tad bits of horror. Don’t believe me? You can read them in the separate post designated for all other entries received for this contest.
Now onto the winner…
I chose Locusts by Michael Raven.
It was an abandoned garden at the end of the creekside. And like a dense forest, the flowers withered already and the grass grew similar to the movie of Stephen King “The Grass”. It’s a path to perdition. Local people said that you can never go back once you go there.
I turn and proceed to the next one, a small two-story house on the corner. The rich forest-green walls are caked with grimy mud at the bottom. I move forward dexterously, and soon I am through the door, my gun held up in front of me. “Team 294 present. By the New Law, you must show yourself,” I recite, scanning the room for signs of life.
“This friendship will self-destruct when you open that box”
Cecilia paused. She could never remember their names. Perhaps she is never told; perhaps she is made to forget. Briefly wondering how many have come and gone, she then decides that names are ultimately inconsequential, before lamenting sotto voce, “What’s in a name…”
His eyes flickered helplessly at the waters. It was no dream. On his right side, he positioned his arm back, catching the waves as they curled, and he felt his shoulders spasm—the push and pull through the cold. Elliot looked over at the sullen, beaten yellows of the bridge.