She takes her first tentative steps onto the runway, foreign territory after a year’s absence.
The crowd erupts in applause at her appearance. She can read their thoughts in their expressions.
She’s beautiful again.
You can’t even tell she was sick.
At the end of the runway she pauses. Reaching up, she pulls the wig from her head, her smooth scalp reflecting the harsh scrutiny of the spotlights.
The expressions change to shock. The applause falters.
Someone is still clapping. One little girl is applauding wildly, a grin on her pale face, a bright bandanna tied around her hairless head.
copyright Sarah Potter
Night of the Living Job Applicant, Jessica thought as the man shuffled in, clutching a scribbled resume. IT guys were scruffy, but not usually abandoned-corpse scruffy.
“Job.” The voice was like dusty silk.
Taking the crumpled resume, Jessica noticed a gap between the shirt and glove. There was no skin, just thick threads running next to white bone.
The eyes were glassy, unfocused. She got the feeling this was less a person than a machine, being controlled from the inside.
Still, they were an equal opportunity employer.
“Any experience in web design?”
The head jerked once. Up. Down. “Oh yes.”
Jeremy stared at the bread, horrorstruck. It was the fifth heart.
Maybe the sixth.
Last week, he’d gone to a fortuneteller and somehow a seven-of-hearts had gotten stuck in the tarot deck. The fortuneteller gamely forged ahead, declaring he would die after seeing seven hearts.
Now he’d seen five—maybe six: that cloud had either been a heart or a camel.
Jeremy finished making his sandwich and left for work. Stepping outside, he heard a screech of metal. He looked up just as the heart from a new erotic cake bakery sign bore down.
It wasn’t a camel, he thought.
A Date with Death
The moon was a milky corpse eye shining over the Lopinot Estate, Trinidad’s most haunted site. Inside, flashlights beams swept back and forth.
“Honey?” There was no answer. She listened. A scream came from out in the jungle. Just an animal. Probably.
Creak. She hid her light. Come on, she thought.
A light appeared in the next room. “Hey, I found the basement!” he said, poking his head out. “It looks like there’s a grave. Let’s go down and sit in the dark.”
“Awesome!” She kissed him hard. “I love you. This is the best anniversary ever.”
I wrote this story for my wife Leah. As of tomorrow we will have been married for sixteen years, and I’m sure one of our anniversaries in the future will be spent exploring a haunted house in the dead of night looking for ghosts.
Teddy Bear Brawl
Teddy bears’ picnic, my ass.
Those pretentious little Paddingtons thought they could leave us out, just because they sit on the bed and we live in the closet.
Baby-doll saw them sneaking out the window. We found them under a tree in the backyard.
“Let us join,” Baby-doll whined.
Somebody, probably I-Couldn’t-Give-A-Care Bear, sneers, “Back off vinyls. Plushies only.”
That’s when the Pooh hit the fan.
I beat the stuffing out of a few, and soon we were all muddy and ripped.
At least we cleaned up with some Windex. Those bloody bears got a trip to the washing machine.
The Forbidden Door
I made my way through the inky blackness, walking ninja-like towards the door. A thick chain barred my way. Just like the queen to take such extreme measures to protect her riches. But I knew that she kept the key under her pillow, and I had stolen it.
I unlocked the chain and lowered it silently to the floor. As I drew open the door, a hallowed light burst from the chamber within, revealing the treasure I so desperately sought.
The light snapped on. “Harold, are you getting into the Thanksgiving pies?”
I wiped meringue off my lips. “No, dear.”
copyright Janet Webb
The Old Man and the Seafood
Shoppers meandered around the store in hip waders, shopping carts half submerged.
“How did you come up with this idea?” the reporter asked.
Jeff grinned. “I thought it was about time someone applied the self-pick produce model to seafood. With seafood, freshness is everything. Here, everything is alive up until you buy it. No expiration dates needed.”
An old man shuffled up in oversized boots. “Excuse me, I just need a can of tuna.”
“No cans here, I’m afraid,” Jeff said, throwing the reporter another grin. “Everything’s fresh.” He handed the man a spear gun. “Bluefins are in aisle 30.”