by Barbara Eliasson
I feel like a fool, but wherever I go now, I glance over my shoulder and check: Is anyone–or anything–following me? It’s irrational, I know, but the whole thing was irrational. And what I find hardest is that I can’t decide whether I imagined it all…but then my body remembers and chills, my chest tightens, and once again, panicked, I’m struggling for breath–and I know I imagined nothing.
by A.B Emrys
All day he watched his neighbor pack her car. From his second-floor deck, he’d spotted her carrying out a box and then a suitcase. She looked hung-over. Then she came back lugging a printer box. He used his binoculars. Not a cheap printer. The car itself wasn’t that old. You could get maybe ten grand for it. She brought down another suitcase and rearranged cargo space again.
by Guy Belleranti
Vicki Brockton sucked in a quick breath when she opened the front door and saw Sheriff Clay standing on the doorstep.
“Sorry to disturb you, ma’am, but….” Clay mopped beads of perspiration off his high forehead with a handkerchief and then craned his head around to look at the neighboring rundown homes, “Do you suppose we could talk inside, Ms. Brockton?”
by Gary Hoffman
Maggie turned to see Richard’s expression as they approached the falls. She felt him pressing up against her just seconds before, but now he wasn’t there. She turned and looked the other way. “Richie?” A few people around her looked her direction, but Richie did not answer.
by C.A. Fehmel
I wake disoriented. As consciousness smoothes the wrinkles of my sleep, I remember who I’m with. We’re naked and entangled. Like all fantasies come true, this is more awkward than I imagined. My chin is hooked over Keith’s left shoulder, which probably means my long hair is in his face. Our legs are sandwiched together. We must’ve slept this way for awhile, but now it’s uncomfortable. Some of my hair is caught in my eyelashes and keeps tickling my cheekbone. There’s this itch on the back of my thigh.
by Anita Page
“You don’t have to be afraid of me,” the man said. He had hold of the woman’s elbow as they worked their way west on 21st Street. A wet night, but it was mild. She didn’t seem to mind the rain. He didn’t either.
by Ron Van Sweringen
Agnes Valentine dipped her jelly donut into the coffee cup, and then bit down on the soggy delight. A glob of raspberry filling oozed out, traveling slowly down the front of her white blouse.
by Rekha Ambardar
“Who’d be in such a hurry that they’d neglect to put the cap back properly on a bottle of Digitoxin pills?”
Detective Delaney poked his head into the medicine cabinet in the bathroom of The Kavanaugh residence, where old Andrew Cavanaugh was found dead that morning. Time of death was set at between seven-thirty and eight last night.
by J.R. Lindermuth
“I’m warning you,” Snyder snarled, “keep that dog quiet–or I will.”
Leaning in the doorway, head cocked to one side, arms folded across his chest, Elliott gave him one of those infuriating smiles. “Calm down,” he said, “it’s nothing to get so upset about.”
by Edith Maxwell
She hadn’t planned on killing Johnny Sorbetto that winter. He had promised her so much.
“Baby, everybody’s going to buy your book. All my authors make the bestseller list, they get reviews in the New Yorker,” he’d said in the sexiest Italian accent she’d ever heard. “You won’t believe it. They’re going to beat down your door.”
by Barbara Ross
Young Officer Cable drove slowly down Route 9, alert for any motorist who might have skidded in the rapidly accumulating snow. Despite the holiday, at 8:30 in the evening traffic was light, as if New Derby’s citizens had taken stock of the weather and sensibly got where they were going, or even more wisely, stayed home.
by Paula Gail Benson
“Remember, to be an Eve on New Year’s Eve is truly special. Even if you don’t have a date for my party.”
Eve had been listening to Charlotte on her hands-free phone as she drove to the spa. She made a mental note: in the future only take Charlotte’s calls on a land line, one equipped with a heavy receiver Eve could slam into its base.
by Andrew MacRae
It was Saturday morning at the Evans house. Mom was making bread in the kitchen; twelve-year-old Paul sat at the table with her and worked on the comic book he was drawing.
by Carole Sojka
“Where the hell is Santa?”
“Shh! There’s a line of kids out there.” Maris adjusted her elf costume.
“What am I supposed to do?” Todd, the manager, asked.
by Elaine Faber
Once, in a faraway land on a crisp winter afternoon, Kitty strode across a hillside, contented as only a cat can be, her tummy full and her breath pungent with the after-flavor of mouse?that morning’s breakfast. She jumped to the top of a warm rock, stretched out and prepared for a snooze in the sunshine. Nearby, a group of shepherds tended their sheep. The bleating of lambs faded as the flock moved on down the hillside. Kitty curled her tail around her nose and fell asleep.
by Margaret Mendel
Arlene won’t be spending Christmas in our apartment building, as of this morning. And you wouldn’t exactly say she moved out. Our nemesis of so many years went feet first and in a body bag.
by Gary Hoffman
As Susan was struggling to open her front door, she thought of her Uncle Theodore. He always had some cute little saying or adage from somewhere else. One of them he said came from Germany and translated into English as, “A lazy man will carry himself to death.” She was beginning to believe it as she tried to carry three bags of groceries, two more of Christmas presents, and another of wrapping paper and bows, just to save two trips to the car.
by Paula Gail Benson
I had put it off as long as I could. To finish my retirement paperwork required either my Social Security card, which was packed away somewhere, probably in a box in the attic, or evidence I had applied for a replacement. When I was employed thirty years ago, I didn’t have to show the card, but now, after all that time working and paying taxes with the number, my employer needed proof it belonged to me.