A Night Out – A FREE FREE FREE Short Story by Derek Elkins

Rejoice, Friends! Week three of the Free Free Free Abosulutely Free Covid Chronicles Shorty Story Explode-A-Ganza is upon us! All of these stories are free to you with absolutely no obligation to purchase anything, sign up for a mailing list, or jump through a number of annoying hoops.

Just some fun fiction for your face. How d’you like that?

We’ve got an entirely new lineup for you, your faces, and you this week.

Going back to front, we’ve got Rob Cely, author of Beyond the Steel Wall and many other books on Saturday; Kathy Kexel, who’s just getting started and who’s stories have thus far intrigued and made us cry, goes Thursday; Joe Shaw (aka “me”) author of the aggressively mediocre play, Light and Song, as well as a recent TEDx Speaker, is Thursday; Jamie Greening, author of The Butch Gregory series and other stories, goes Wednesday; and “Doctor” Joe Courtemanche, author of Nicholas of Haiti and Assault on St Agnes, hits you on Tuesday.

But, today, we start it off strong with newcomer, Derek Elkins. Like most of the rest of us, Derek writes for Athanatos Publishing (as well as himself). He’s the author of the book Life Unworthy of Life as well as many other books and stories.

Today, Derek brings you a new short story about a Romantic Dinner, Interrupted, with his story “A Night Out.” Click on the happy couple to read more.

FREE STORY – The Effectives by Kathy Kexel

The Cavalcade of Covid Quarantine short stories continues!

On Tuesday, Joseph Courtemanche brought us Lavinia Did It. On Tuesday, Jamie Greening gave us The Last Message. Yesterday, I started off a serial short story with Two More (part 1).

Today, Kathy Kexel closes out our second week with her post-apocalyptic-ish story about a burgeoning underground movement rising in the wake of the Covid Crisis. Check out her new short story, “The Effectives” by clicking on the donation bag below.

Two More – Part 1 (of 4) – The Friendly Stop

Jim Becker spent the final moments of the second-to-last day of his life on a stool at The Friendly Stop Bar & Grille. He was drunk, and he spoke loud to no one in particular.

“The last thing I need,” he said, “is another woman.”

Sean, The Friendly Stop’s bartender, had already locked the door, wiped down the tables, and put up the chairs for the night. He looked at Jim and checked his watch. With anyone else, he’d have gone to his You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here routine, but Jim was a regular, and you don’t do that to regulars.

That was rule #1 in Sean’s Universal Bartender’s Guide to Making Money and Staying Employed. Rule #2 was “Don’t sleep with your customers, or you’ll lose all that money you just made.” Having made these rules part of his personal religion, Sean built quite a successful career over the years following it’s commandments.

“How’s about we call it a night?” Sean said. “Maybe pick up where we left off tomorrow?”

“Just one more?” Jim asked.  

“Come on, Jim. I gotta get home at some point. Plus, with these curfews in place for this COVID thing, it’s not a good idea to be out socializing.”

“Just one. I promise.”

They stared at each other, two nearly middle aged men with hints of grey peeking out at their temples. Neither wanted to budge.

Sean liked Jim. He never caused trouble, always tipped well and, most importantly, had an infectious humor that helped spread his proclivity for fiduciary friendliness to those around him.

Or anyway, he used to be that way until a few months ago when Jim’s wife, Emma, left him after ten years of a mostly-happy-but-sometimes-rocky marriage. Since then, Jim made a habit of telling everyone at The Friendly Stop how very happy he was to be single again. All that free time. No more rules.

“It’s the dream!” Jim would say with a wide smile.

But rule #3 in Sean’s book is “You see the truth in their eyes,” and Jim’s eyes told a different story. Jim’s eyes were anything but happy. In fact, by Sean’s estimation, Jim had spent nearly every night since the divorce right here on this stool, staring into his beer, hoping to forget, bit by bit, the woman who meant the world to him.

Sean lowered his head.

“Alright, Jim. One more. I have to go downstairs to get some more beer, anyway.” He tossed a dirty rag into the corner next to some boxes, put the last of the shot glasses into the disinfecting sink. “When I come back, it’s time to go. Got it?”

“Scout’s honor!” Jim made a three fingered Boy Scout salute, and affected a fake, cheesy smile. When Sean turned to leave, Jim’s smile faded. He tore at the edges of the label on his beer and closed his eyes.

**** **** **** ****

Jim Becker met Emma then-Ridenhour fifteen years ago on a random indie music night at The Friendly Stop. This was back when the previous owners still labored under the belief that theirs was an up and coming college spot, not just another random, suburban hole-in-the-wall.

A hippie chick with matted hair and an ancient acoustic guitar was halfway through a song about a girl named Rosie and her supposed True Love when Jim looked across the bar and saw a beautiful brunette dancing by herself: her eyes closed, arms raised to the sky, and a sundress that flowed with her hips like both were choreographed. She danced like she was the only one in the room.

The brunette opened her eyes, looked right at Jim and smiled. Jim walked over and was about to spout a one-liner his college roommate swore never failed (even though it had never worked for Jim) when she cut him off. “I don’t care. Just dance with me. Now.” From that moment on, Jim’s heart belonged only to her.


They danced without stopping for the next two hours. By then, they really were the only ones in the room. The hippie chick packed up to leave and they kept dancing. Sean turned up the chairs and wiped down the bar, and they kept dancing. They moved outside, alone together in the street, and kept dancing still.

Two months later, Jim proposed. Six months later, they were married.

Jim and Emma Becker danced with Rosie and Her True Love at their reception, on their honeymoon, and many early mornings before work that first year together.  They danced in the kitchen while washing dishes, they danced on the thick carpet of the office room in the back of the apartment where Jim did most of his work, and they danced barefoot with Rosie on the hardwood floors of their first house, always making sure to mind the spot near the window where Emma once got a splinter in her big toe.

They danced with Rosie when the pregnancy test came back positive, when they found out the baby would be a girl, and after they spent far too much money on that first set of baby clothes, as many expecting parents do.

Rosie was with them every step of the way as they made their way into the happily ever after as the story should have gone. But stories don’t always match the fantasies we lay out for them.

When the doctor said there was a malformation in the spine and their daughter likely wouldn’t live long, they went home in shock. The rest of the pregnancy was difficult, but they persevered in hope that their happily ever after could still come true.

A few months later, only a few hours after their daughter was born, Jim and Emma Becker held little body close and cried. The cried for a long time.

They held a small service, for family only, and when they finally made it back home, Jim and Emma returned to a house full of silence, and a hole in their lives neither of them knew how to fill.

For a while, Jim believed things would be okay, that they could weather any storm so long as they had each other. But time passes; life changes, almost imperceptibly; and the music of our youth sounds strange to old ears.

Jim and Emma Becker had gone to a place where they couldn’t seem to hear music that once brought them together. They slowly grew apart as the years passed until, finally, they called it a day and signed the papers to codify what had already been the status of their relationship for quite some time.

Jim hadn’t thought of Rose and Her True Love for several years as he sat, staring into his beer at the Friendly Stop. He laughed, told stories, and spoke of the joy and the freedom he felt, now that his marriage was over. But his eyes told the truth for those willing to look. The Gospel of Sean spoke true, and we all say thank you, good night, and amen.

**** **** **** ****

Jim thumbed the label on his beer in silence.

The Friendly Stop’s door swung open, banged into the opposite wall, and knocked a framed picture of Ted Kluszewski to the floor. In stepped an older gentleman with a bushy grey beard and a slick, white suit. He looked like Colonel Sanders if Colonel Sanders sold pharmaceuticals instead of fried chicken.

“Anyone here know how to make a good mint julep?” the man said. “I’d kill for one, but no one around here seems to know what they are.”

“’Fraid you’re outta luck, friend” Jim said. “All they got here is watered down beer.”

“The search continues,” the man said as he stepped all the way inside. “Mind if I join you?”

“I think they’re about to close.” Jim glanced at the previously locked door.

“Closing time is my favorite time,” the man in white said. “It’s when you get all the best deals. Nothing warms my heart like discount liquor. That, and a good Mint Julep.”

“Don’t expect any freebies here,” Jim said, returning to his beer. “Sean has a sixth sense about the value of things. ESPECIALLY booze.”

“Oh, I don’t know if he’s that good. He gave you that one for free, didn’t he, Jim?”

Jim set his beer down, and looked at the man in the white suit. The stranger looked right back, not moving an inch. His eyes focused intently on Jim. Jim leaned back as the man white stepped closer. The stranger never stopped smiling.

“Do I know you?”

“Where are my manners?” The man stood up straight, and stuck out his left hand. “Pleased to meet you, Jim. Hope you guess my name.”


“Lucifer. The name’s Lucifer. Sometimes I go by Beelzebub or ‘Old Scratch.’ But you might know me as Satan.” He paused. “The Devil?”

Jim was stone-faced. Then, he laughed out, loud and hard. Jim knew a good joke when he heard one. He couldn’t quite see the punchline yet, but he was sure it was out there in the ether somewhere, waiting for him. “Pleased to meet you, too” he said. “What can I do you for?”

“I’ve got a business proposition.”

“A business proposition, you say?” Jim put down his drink and gave the man his full, undivided, sarcastic, and inebriated attention. “Well you’re in luck. It just so happens I specialize in late night business propositions, especially those made during an international pandemic. Shoot.”

“I need you to kill someone. Three someones, actually.”

Jim stroked his chin and laughed again. “Go on.”

“I need it all to happen in the same day, tomorrow, and I need you to be the one to do it.”

“Sounds reasonable to me. Do you want me to shoot them or should I sneak up from behind and attack? Like a ninja!”

“Whatever works best for you,” The man in white said. “As long as they’re dead.”

“And what did these people do to deserve your wrath? Are they business associates of yours?”


“Annoying neighbors?”


“Former lovers?”

The man in white laughed out loud. “Nice! Good one!”

He sat on the stool closest to Jim. “You’re a funny guy, Jim. I’ve been watching you for a while, and you never fail to catch me off guard.”

“Glad I can be of service,” Jim said as he downed the rest of his beer. He had forgotten to look for the punchline. The man in white still smiled.

“Do we have a deal?” the man in white asked.

“Hold on, now,” Jim Said. “We’re still negotiating.”

“Of course we are.”

“What about compensation for facilitating these poor folks’ untimely demise? You don’t expect me to kill them for free, do you? I have my standards.”

“That’s the best part! You, good sir, will get none other than your heart’s deepest desire!”

Jim affected a serious tone. “I don’t know. I was hoping for a Mustang.  I’ve always wanted a Mustang. And maybe some donuts. I like donuts, too.”

“If that’s your heart’s deepest desire, sure.”

“So it could be … anything?”


“How can you make that happen?”

“I’m the Devil,” the man in white said. “I have my ways.”

“Right,” Jim said. “I forgot.”

The steps to the basement started creaking. Sean would be back soon.

Jim stared at the tattered label on his beer. “Heart’s desire, huh?”

“You got it.”

“And how do I know what that is? How do I know you’ll deliver?”

“You’ll have to get to the end to find out.” the man said, still smiling. “So do we have a deal?”

“Absolutely.” The door to the basement opened. Sean was back, carrying several cases of cheap beer. “Why don’t we drink to seal the deal?”

“I’ve had enough. You go ahead.”

“Suit Yourself.”

Jim turned, and was about to yell out for more drinks, when the man in white spoke again.

“This will be good for you, Jim,” he said “Emma would be proud.”

“What did you say?!”

Jim turned, ready for a fight, but no one was there.

****** ****** ****** ****

Check out Part 2: A Pool of Blood

FREE SHORT STORY TIME… Jamie Greening Brings you “The Last Message”

Good News, Everyone! Not only is the cavalcade of short stories moving forward, it’s expanding! We’re inviting several authors from our publisher, Athanatos Publishing (an ironic title, given that I killed everyone in my last story) to join us in the Covid Quarantine Chronicles. You should have more stories thrown directly at your face starting as soon as NEXT WEEK!

Lucky you!

Speaking of your luck, today, you have another story from the estimable Jamie Greening. He’s got a doozy of a story about loss and remembrance with his short story: “The Last Message.” Click on the cell phone to read it (FOR FREE!), then head over to Jamie’s Amazon page and buy a book if you’re willing.

Lavinia Did It – A Free Short Story by Joseph Courtemanche

The mind words in mysterious ways. Joseph Courtemanche kicks off week 2 of the Covid Chronciles, ABSOLUTELY FREE SHORT STORY EXPLODE-A-GANZA with his latest, Livinia Did It.

Click on the television below to read, then head on over to his author page and throw some dollars at him in exchange for some of his other material. You won’t be disappointed.

History – A Free Short Story by Kathy Kexel

The first week of the the comes to a close. Joseph Courtemanche shared his funny story, That’s the Name of the Game (read it) on Tuesday. Jamie Greening explored the beginnings of the crisis with his story, Patient Zero (read it). I shared my first offering, Bark, yesterday (read it).

Today, we have our last short story for the week. It’s from a late addition to the group, Kathy Kexel. Check out her story, History, here.

We look forward to seeing you next week!

Bark – A Free Story

We’re close to the end of the first week of our COVID-19 inspired free flash fiction giveaway. Tuesday, it was my good friend, Joe Courtemanche, with his story “That’s the Name of the Game.” Yesterday, another good friend, Jamie Greening, lit up the day with his short story, “Patient Zero.”

We have added a fourth to our mix, another writer who is as down with the sickness as the rest of us. Kathy Kexel will share one of her stories tomorrow, and next week we’ll start all over again.

I originally planned to share a short story I wrote almost twenty years ago but then, after having spent most of the last two weeks at home with everyone, I had another idea. So, today, I bring you.

BARK – By Joseph E Shaw

That dog. That damn DOG is barking again. Can you hear it?

I get it. I know. We’re all on lock down. We’re all on quarantine. We’re trapped in our houses with nothing to do but bounce off the walls and each other. We need to be patient, respectful, civilized – with ourselves and our neighbors – if we’re going to get through.

I get it. I do. But that dog. That DOG!

Here, friend. Step into my house. Let’s get away from the noise. I can hardly hear you with all the barking.

I’m a patient man. I can withstand all manner of offenses. I have five kids, remember? Five, rambunctious kids with boundless energy and a penchant for destruction. My whole world consists of regular offenses that would horrify a normal man. I’m used to it.

But that dog. That DOG! It just won’t STOP. Can’t you hear it? You HAVE to hear it. Doesn’t it drive you insane?

What? No, he’s always been that way. Ever since the Hopkins family and their raucous teenagers moved out last Fall. Sharon and I were glad to see them go, and were just as excited to see a quiet, older couple move in next door.

The Hansens moving in seemed like a dream. No more wild, late night parties in the backyard pool. No cars parked on the lawn. No garbage music blaring at full volume all hours of the night. Just peaceful, quiet, suburban life. As God intended.

But then: the dog. The DOG. Captain Sparkles, they called it. Have you ever heard such a stupid name? Right out the gate, he barked nonstop. I could hardly hear our new neighbors speak because of it.

“Oh, don’t worry about him,” they said. “He’ll adjust in a few days. Then he’ll calm down.”

They put it in the back yard that first night and it barked and barked and barked till the sun came up.

Bark Bark Bark. Bark Bark Bark.

A week passed. Two weeks. A month. The dog still barked. All night, all day, all the time. I hardly was able to sleep. The cruel thing was it would occasionally stop just long enough for me to start to fall asleep. Then, it would start again, and I’d be up for the day.

That stupid mutt. It never shut up. Never.

What? Yes, of course, I tried talking to The Hansens. I am a patient man, I told you. Respectful and civilized. Neighborly, even. I went next door. I begged. I PLEADED. They told me they kept it in a kennel in the basement at night, so there was no way I could hear him.

How could they not hear it? How could they not KNOW? HOW?

Sharon said she didn’t notice the barking, either. She said I was making it all up. And the kids! They actually played with the stupid mutt. The Hansens, my wife, my kids. They all seemed to like each other, and they absolutely LOVED that horrible dog.

So I made up my mind to let it go. I’m a patient man, after all. Respectful. I set my mind to ignore, to endure. That is what you do when you live with idiots. You endure. You act respectably. Civilized. It’s the only way. The RIGHT way.

Speaking of being respectful, where are my manners? Would you like a glass of water? Perhaps a cookie?

Here. Let me take your coat. It’s been so long since we’ve seen people. This quarantine has really made it hard to stay Don’t worry. I will keep a safe, social distance. I promise!

Where was I? Oh, yes: the mutt.

They told us to work from home once the virus started spreading, so I set up my desk in the back room where the kids screaming and my wife nagging could not bother me.

It’s right down that hallway, there. To the left. Come, have a look!

The only problem is the back room is close to the Hansen’s side of the house and, rather than keeping their stupid dog inside like other, more respectable people, those morons left him out all day.

It barked all day long. Without ceasing. A car passes? Bark Bark Bark. The mailman delivers a package? Bark. Bark. Bark. The wind blows a little stronger than usual or a far off car screeches is brakes? Bark Bark Bark. Barkm Bark Bark.

That dog. That DAMN STUPID DOG.

It drove me mad. I had to constantly apologize for it in work meetings and phone calls. My boss said he couldn’t hear anything, but he was just being polite. Just being respectful and civilized. But I knew the truth. Oh, yes, I KNEW. They all heard it. ALL OF THEM. They heard it and they were plotting against me because of it.

Look, I was fine enduring when it was just me. I could be respectful when that stupid hound only got on MY nerves. But this was my job, my livelihood! The lifeblood for my family. The economy was collapsing around us because of the quarantine and the Corona virus. Our lives were on the line! I couldn’t risk my job, let my family go hungry because of their stupid dog and its infernal, incessant barking!

So I made a decision. To be even more respectful. Even more civilized. I was never nicer – to either the Hansens or my own family – the entire day before I killed the stupid mutt.

I was patient – so very, very patient – waiting for the exact right moment to set my plans in motion. Having made up one’s mind to take action against such injustices relieves you of associated pressures. I had never felt so free. So powerful! So ready.

On the right day, when they least expected it, I struck. I sent Sharon to the local Publix grocery store to pick up some steaks and a few other side dishes. The children went with her. The lines were long. They would be gone quite a while. This gave me time to do the deed.

“I have a big project to finish,” I told her when she protested. “When I’m done, we’ll have a nice dinner, maybe invite the Hansens over. I’ll do all the cleanup.”

“Fine,” she said, and stormed out.

It was time. To avoid suspicion, I walked next door, full of joy and good humor. I rang the doorbell and, with a wide smile and ebullient gesticulations, invited the Hansens over for dinner.

“Uh … No, thank you,” Mr Hansen said. “We’re social distancing. Remember?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that, friend. We can keep a safe distance from each other and still enjoy a neighborly meal together. A respectful meal. A CIVILIZED meal. What do you say?”

“No. We like your wife and your kids. You’re a jerk.”

They shut the door. Disrespectful to the core, that family.

“No matter,” I told myself. It was all a ruse anyway. I returned to my house as jauntily as I had come, and snuck into the back yard with a shovel. The Hansen’s mutt greeted me from across the fence with his usual, maniacal outbursts.

Bark Bark Bark. Bark Bark Bark.

The wood planks in the fence separating our yard from theirs had loosened near the back. Come! See! Right back there in the corner. Don’t mind the mess here in the family room. I will ask the kids to clean these later. Those last two panels. See them? Yes!

Sharon has been nagging me to fix these panels for years. Thank God for my tendency toward procrastination, for it gave me an opportunity to silence the creature.

I removed the nails at the top and bottom of the two most remote panels, swung them open, and whistled. “Here boy! Come here!” The mutt happily obliged.

Bark Bark Bark. Bark Bark Bark.

The moment it was in our yard, I released the open panels, gently replacing them so as not to startle the dog or draw the attention of the Hansens. It was trapped. With my family gone and my neighbors safely ensconced in their home, I had all the time in the world. I could not be caught!

The dog, unaware of his impending fate, stood at my feet, head cocked sideways, as if questioning my existence. I stared back a moment, then raised the shovel high above my head and twisted my shoulders so as to gain momentum. The dog moved, suddenly realizing my intentions and tried to bark out a warning. I swung with all the force I could muster, striking the mongrel on the side of its head, caving it in. He fell to the ground, his head caved in at the side.

The dog fell silent. The barking stopped. Silence. Peace. As God intended.

I suddenly grew afraid. What if The Hansens had seen? What if my family came home earlier than expected and saw me? All would be lost!

I had to work fast. I used the shovel to dig a hole near the garden in the back, wrapped the dog’s body in plastic, and buried it next to the brick wall separating our yard from the street behind, not far from the wood planks that so recently spelled its doom.

Then, careful as I could and, under the pretense of watering the garden, washed away the blood on the grass and the instrument of death. I even nailed the two loose panels into place. Sharon would have no more reason to nag. I was so careful, so meticulous in my execution. You would have marveled to see! I am, after all a responsible and respectful citizen. We need more civilized people like me in these dark times. People who take care of the world’s problems when no one else will.

Sharon and the kids returned a few minutes later, and were surprised to find me in such high spirits.

“The Hansens will not be joining us,” I told them.

“Great,” Sharon said, tossing the food on the counter. “So I went to the store and bought all those steaks for no reason.” Some people just can’t be happy, no matter the circumstance.

We grilled the steaks anyway and were halfway through a family game of after-dinner Monopoly when the doorbell rang. It was the Hansens. They were worried.

“Have you seen Captain Sparkles?” they asked. “He seems to have got out of the yard. We’re so scared. We hope he’s okay.”

“Oh, no!” I said. “He’s not here, but we’ll let you know if we see him. I’m so so sorry.”

If only they knew the truth. They would be shocked at my cunning, my intelligence. They would marvel at how calmly I remained respectful and civilize even as they came begging to me for help after having called me such a vile name earlier.

They city announced a shelter-in-place quarantine, lasting indefinitely. Sharon and I went to bed early that night. I was full of lightness and joy. The dog was gone! The barking had stopped! The weight had been lifted! I would sleep a long and well-deserved sleep for the first time in months.

Bark Bark Bark. Bark Bark Bark.

The infernal sound of that cursed dog woke me in the middle of the night once again. Was this a dream? Was I imagining it? Or had the dog crawled out of its grave and returned to its master’s yard to torture me further?

Bark Bark Bark. Bark Bark Bark.

You know the truth as well as I do, friend. The Hansens were at fault. They did it to taunt me! They had given me a decoy when I first approached them about dinner. They knew my plans even before I did and were attempting to mock me. Did they think me stupid? Did they think me insane?

I would not fall for it, friend! They would pay the price for their lack of civility! For testing my patience! The world needs more people like ME; not the Hansens with their happy life and monster of a dog. In these sad days, where thousands are dying from unknown sicknesses, where businesses are shutting down, where people are losing their jobs and lives are being ruined, the world needs people who know how to handle problems, who can take care of disrespectful, moronic people who seek to ruin the lives of those around them and bring their communities, their entire WORLD down.

I grabbed my shovel, snuck out of the house, and headed next door.

The moment I was outside, the barking resumed; only now it was louder than before. MUCH MUCH louder. It beat into my head like a drum, pulsing against my eardrums, embedding itself in my brain. Can you imagine it! Can you FEEL it! OH, it was TORTURE. But I persisted. I am a patient man, a respectful man, a CIVILIZED man. There was word to do and, by God, I would do it!

Why do you back away, friend? You are safe here. You have no worries! I have taken care of the dog. It cannot hurt you. Please, take a seat on my back porch. Let us continue our conversation.

The Hansens left their front door unlocked, so I entered through the foyer, much like you entered in through my foyer a few moments ago, and made my way upstairs.


It was louder still! It emanated from the walls. The universe shouted at me in the voice of Captain Sparkles, willing me onward to silence the voices that had caused this mess we are all now caught in. I ran to the Hansen’s bedroom.

They were asleep, both of them. But the dog. The DOG. The Infernal hound sat between them at the head, barking its maddening bark, head cocked sideways, questioning my existence, my soul, everything. I HAD to silence it. I raised my shovel, twisted my shoulders to gain extra momentum, and brought it down again and again and again and again.

The barking stopped. The dog, along with its masters, had been silenced. The world was at peace. I breathed a sigh of relief.

It took me several hours to move the corpses of Mr. and Mrs. Hansen to our back yard garden. I worked tirelessly, silently through the darkness, digging another hole next the one I had dug earlier that day.

Right out there by the brick wall. Do you see it? Do you see the elevated earth in the corner? Right there. By God, isn’t it beautiful? So elegant. You would never know I had buried the bodies there if I hadn’t told you. It took me a long time to do, but I got it done. I am a patient man. A civilized man. A respectful man.

Am I not? Tell me, friend. I wish to know!

Sharon and the kids were dismayed to learn that, not only had The Hansens not found Captain Sparkles, they had decided to leave our little community to visit their children in North Carolina. Or so I told them. Sometimes, lying to your family is the only way to keep things civilized.

They pestered me all day long to organize a search parties for the mutt. I ranted and raved. I screamed and gesticulated wildly. I lectured them about the quarantine, how we could not leave even if wanted to, how the Hansens were morons to leave the state and DESERVED whatever they got, whatever the universe had given them, whatever tragedy might have befallen their stupid, flea-ridden mutt of theirs.

The kids hid from my outburst. Sharon grew wary of me, would not stay in a room with me by herself. It’s possible my uncharacteristic screaming had frightened them, especially in juxtaposition with the previous night’s joviality. But I knew the truth. Of course I knew.

I am no moron. I am no fool.

The answer was obvious. They had seen me burying the Hansens in our back garden the previous night. They had been in league with the Hansens all along! They were part of an international conspiracy to spread this cursed virus even further. They had killed thousands and would likely kill millions more if they were not stopped, and I would be the one to stop them.

It was the only way to protect our society. To keep us respectful and civilized. You know this is true, friend. You know.

That evening, as my family slept, the barking started again. Louder than before. So very much louder. I visited them, one by one, with my shovel, and buried their corpses in the back garden next to all the rest. It pained me to do it, but I HAD to do it. Lives were at stake. The fate of humanity hung in the balance. The dog. THAT DAMNED DOG taught me as much. It’s barking is an impetus for societal cleansing, for rebirth. It is a path to the future! The only path to the future! Once this quarantine is over, we will take our crusade to the ends of the Earth!

Why are you afraid, friend? Why do you tremble? Worry not. The dog has started barking again! Can you hear it! Can you feel it! Civilization is soon to return. A respectful, peaceful social order will one day be ours yet again because the work I have done. Because of the work I now do.

And you get to be a part of that. Rejoice! The dog is barking! Can you not see! He has chosen YOU to make the sacrifice! He has chosen YOU to bring forth a new world order.

Rejoice friend. I have my shovel at the ready. There is no one to hear you scream. There is nowhere to run. You will soon join the rest. Close your eyes! Accept the gift that has been given you.

Stop screaming. Close your eyes and rejoice as I raise the shovel high above my head and swing!

Bark Bark Bark. Bark Bark Bark.

Patient Zero by Jamie Greening

Hey there folks. How’s your COVID Quarantine going? Well, I hope. And, if not well, here’s hoping you at least haven’t had to go shopping for two week’s worth of liquor for the third time this week like I have.

Yesterday, we brought you a fresh, new, ABBA-inspired story of Coronapocalypse -fueled mental desperation from the man, the myth, the mentally desperate legend: Joseph Courtemanche. Did you like it? Let me know in the comments.

Taking a cue from “the Sound of Music” by going all the way back to the beginning (a very good place to start), today we delve into the possibilities of how this whole thing started with a brand new piece of flash fiction from the warped mind of Jamie D. Greening. Hot off the presses. Check out “Patient Zero”

I’ll be back tomorrow with yet another short story from YoursTruly to salve the soul and frighten the senses.

That’s the Name of the Game by Joseph Courtemanche

Laddies and Gentlepersons!

You may remember how I mentioned, previously, that a few good writers (and also: Me) planned to share some free content over the next weeks of CovidPalooza.

Well, Here we go again.

If you’ve got no place to go. If you’re feeling down. If you’d like to take a chance on us, here’s the first of those stories from Mr Joe Courtemanche (whose titles in publication will be listed in the comments). A little ditty about sickness in mind, body, and spirit in these trying times.

It’s called “That’s The Name of the Game.”

Give it a whirl and, if you change your mind on Joe’s stuff, Padre Jamie Greening will be here either later in the week with a new story, and Yours Truly will scrape the bottom of the barrel on Friday.