Mindy’s Coming Home Again – A Free Halloween Story from Joe Shaw

Mindy’s coming home again, and I’m excited!

Mindy is my twin sister, and my best friend in the whole world. We do everything together. We play together, dance together, and sometimes, when Mama and Daddy aren’t looking, we sneak down to the creek in the woods behind Grandpa’s house together to skip rocks on the water.

Mindy’s been gone for three whole months, now. An ETERNITY! I was so sad when they took her away. I begged and begged for Mama and Daddy to let her stay, but they said it was for her own good.

And my protection.

People used to tell us: “Mindy and Cindy go together like peas and carrots!” and we would laugh and smile and dance; Mindy swinging her dress in big circles, and Me stomping my feet and throwing my hands in the air like those crazy people at the weird church down the street. Daddy says to stay away from that church, but I like to peek through the windows in the back sometimes and watch them dance and sing. It makes me laugh.

Mindy and Me did go together, though. Better than stupid vegetables! We stuck to each other like glue. Leastwise until Old Mrs. Armitage’s cat came up missing.

Old Mrs. Armitage had lived in the brown house next door since forever. Uncle Jimmy said she was so old, when God made the world, he had to build it around her because she was already there. And he had to be careful, too, because the cat kept trying to get him with its claws whenever he got too close.

One day, Mrs. Armitage come over to talk to Mama and Daddy with tears in her eyes. Her stupid cat had snuck out the back door when she wasn’t looking and ran away. Mindy was upset. She kept saying things like “Poor Mrs. Armitage!” and “I feel bad for her” and “I hope he didn’t get run over by a car.”

Mindy was really worried.

Old Mrs. Armitage’s cat running away made perfect sense to me, though. Mrs. Armitage smelled like old medicine, covered her furniture in thick, dusty plastic, and she fell asleep in front of her tv every night, watching Wheel of Fortune at full volume. You could probably hear it from space! If I had to live with her, I’d have snuck out the back door, too.

But I didn’t say nothing to Mama and Daddy about it.

A little while later, they found the cat next to the brick wall just before the entrance to Beecher Street. Someone had cut its belly wide open, pulled out its insides, and spread it all over. The grass was all red like it was covered rose petals, the same colors as the ones Daddy gets Mama every year for their anniversary.

Mama thought it was a wild animal, but Daddy wasn’t so sure.

“Girls,” he asked us. “Do you know what happened to Mrs. Armitage’s cat?”

“No, Daddy,” I said, but Mindy got quiet.

“Mindy. Is there something you want to say?”

She crossed her arms and stuck out her lip.

“Mindy said she hated Old Mrs. Armitage’s cat,” I blurted. “She told me she’s glad it’s dead.”

My face got red as a beet after I spoke. Mindy punched me in the arm. Hard. Daddy stared at us for a long time, then left the room. The next day, Mama and Daddy took Mindy to see a doctor.

“They asked me all kinds of weird questions,” she told me.

“Like what?”

“They asked me about my feelings. They made me look at these blobs of ink and tell them what I saw.”

“Cool!” I said. “What did you see?”

“I don’t know. Blobs of ink.” She paused. “They asked if I ever wanted to hurt animals. Or people.”

“What did you tell them?” I asked.

“I told them I only ever wanted to hurt you!” she said, and we fell over giggling. We ran down to the creek again to skip rocks on the water. Mindy was different this time, though. She got quiet. She spent a lot of time staring at the birds in the trees. Robins.

It happened again a few days later.

Mama and Daddy had just started to relax a bit after the thing with Mrs. Armitage’s cat, when we woke up one morning to find a box full of robins, their heads cut off, their legs tied to their bodies so tight, they’d almost snapped in half.

Mama and Daddy went to the living room to talk. Mindy and Me listened from behind the kitchen door.

“What do we do?” Mama said, pacing around the room.

“I don’t know,” Daddy said, sitting on the couch with his head in his hands.

“We can’t just ignore it!”

“I know.”

“There’s something wrong with her.”

Daddy lifted his head. “We don’t know that. It could have been some teenagers pulling a prank.”

“This is not a prank,” Mama said, shoving the box of dead robins into Daddy’s face so hard, one of the heads fell out of the box and bounced to the floor. Sparkles, the cat, batted it a few times before Daddy picked it up again and put it back into the box.

“I know,” Daddy said.

“We have to do something.”

“I know,” Daddy said, “but what?”

A wave of pet murders crashed over the neighborhood that week. Mr. Bingham found his beagle dog, Butkis, dead in the backyard. Someone had fed him antifreeze. Mrs. Hinken awoke to find her chicken coop empty, the bodies of her chickens were stripped; the broken bones and wings organized to spell the phrase “No More Clucking” in her backyard. And poor Amy McCabe, who had lost her favorite cat, Patches, hung from a tree in the woods near the creek. One of its claws was caught in the bark of the trunk, as if it had tried to escape but couldn’t quite make it.

On and on the stories continued.

Mama and Daddy sat Mindy down in the living room and asked her questions.

“Why are you doing this, Mindy?” they asked.

“I’m not doing this,” she said.

Daddy raised his eyebrow.

“I’m not!”

“You hung that little McCabe girl’s cat from a tree!” Mama yelled.

“No I didn’t.”

“Why do you want to hurt animals, baby?” Daddy said. “Do you want to hurt people, too?”

“No. No, I don’t.”

“Yes she does,” I said from the back. “She told me all she really wanted was to hurt me.”

“I did not!” Mindy said, her face growing the same color as the flowers Daddy sometimes gets Mama; the same color Old Mrs. Armitage’s dog turned. The same color of all the animals.

“Yes you did! Back when we was skipping rocks in the creek behind Grandpa’s house, you said they made you look at blobs of ink and all you ever wanted to do was hurt me.”

Mindy leapt out of her seat like a crazed animal, tackled me, and started bashing my head against the floor. Daddy pulled her back and held her tight in his arms. Mama screamed. The next day, they took Mindy off to live at a hospital.

“To get her mind right,” Daddy said. I cried when they took her away. We all did.

The pet killing pretty much stopped after that.

We went to visit Mindy last weekend. Daddy said they gave her some medicine to calm her down, and I think it worked because she just stared at the wall the whole time.

Mama and Daddy don’t talk much anymore. They pretty much leave me alone, and that’s give me time to think. All these opportunities. I was just getting started when I snuck out in the middle of the night and used Daddy’s fishing knife to kill Mrs. Armitage’s cat. The chickens got on my nerves one night, so I sent a message with their bones. And Amy McCabe’s cat? That was just fun.

Mrs. Armitage got a new cat to replace the old one. A new family moved into the ranch house down the street. They have a Chihuahua. People up and down the street have all kinds of pets. One goes away, another one replaces it.

It doesn’t matter how many of them I kill, they keep bringing their pets back. Little kids, too. Teenagers. Adults. Nobody notices. Pets and people go missing all the time. And there are always other people to blame.

The Doctor’s say Mindy is doing much better now. Daddy says he thinks Mindy’s coming home again real soon.

I can’t wait. We’re going to have so much fun together!

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

Thanks for joining us with the Free Flash Fiction Halloween Spectacular from the Fondue Writer’s Club. That’s it for this Halloween season, but don’t worry. We’ll be back in a few weeks to share some Thanksgiving stories, and a few weeks after that to share some Christmas stories.

Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

If you like our stories, check out or COVID-19 themed short story collection, THE COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA, available now in Kindle and Print and soon in Audio.

The Tragedy of Fortunatus and Felix – A Free Halloween Poem from Jamie D. Greening

Poetry doesn’t make much sense to low brow folks like me. In the past, I’ve even gone to such lengths as writing programs to write poetry FOR me so I don’t have to deal with it. But when today’s Halloween author, Jamie D. Greening, comes with a poem as visceral as this? Well, it makes me wonder whether the algorithms I built are really a decent facsimile of the real thing.

Check out The Tragedy of Fortunatus and Felix.

Thanks for visiting. We’ve got a bunch of stories coming out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

If you like our stories, check out or COVID-19 themed short story collection, THE COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA, available now in Kindle and Print and soon in Audio.

The House on 159 Cedar Hill – A Free Halloween Story by Rob Cely

The twists and turns this week. It’s like we should name this round of Free Short stories “The M. Night Shyamalan Collection.” Today’s twists and turns are brought to you by Rob Cely with his latest, The House on 159 Cedar Hill, and it’s a great one.

Thanks for visiting. We’ve got a bunch of stories coming out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

If you like our stories, check out or COVID-19 themed short story collection, THE COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA, available now in Kindle and Print and soon in Audio.

The Covid Quarantine Cantina

The quarantines were tough. Still are for some folks. Our lives have all changed because of them. Despite all this difficulty, we can all be sure there is one, universal thing that helps us get through in tough times like these.

Alcohol.

But beyond that: Stories.

Sharing our stories of success, of failure, of fears, of hopes, and all manner of strange and comfortable things is what binds us together in difficult, dark, and disparate times. A few of us got together back in the beginning and started sharing some of our stories. Fiction, yes, but there are kernels of truth in all of the stories. We published them for free – just as we continue to publish free stories even today.

We gathered our COVID stories together into a book where you, Dear Reader, can share in our stories, see how naive we were in the beginning, how our moods changed throughout, and how we’ve come to some semblance of hope (or, in my case, a happy-go-lucky Nihilism!) as time passes.

It’s called “The Covid Quarantine Cantina,” and it’s available in Kindle, eBook, and (sooon) Audio (we hired Santa Claus to do the stories. Because that just makes sense). Check it out here. Buy a few copies for your friends. Buy some of the print copies so that, later, when your grandkids ask what the Covid Quarantines were like, you point at this collection of stories and say, “I don’t know, but these people are weird. Don’t end up like these folks. Whatever you do.”

And, if you are so inclined, please share YOUR stories with US. The Quarantine Cantina is open to everyone.

Always.

The Visitation – A Free Halloween Short Story by Paul Bennett

Halloween is full of stories, from the big city mega action thrillers to the small, pensive ruminations from small towns across the country. Today, Paul Bennett brings us a little of both with his Halloween Short Story: The Visitation.

Thanks for visiting. We’ve got a bunch of stories coming out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Today’s is the second of the Halloween bunch. Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

If you like our stories, check out or COVID-19 themed short story collection, THE COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA, available now in Kindle and Print and soon in Audio.

Little Ambassadors – A Free Halloween Short Story from Joseph Courtemanche

Sometimes Joe Courtemanche writes a straightforward story, and sometimes he adds a few twists and turns. But sometimes, he comes way out of left field. I’ll leave it to you, Dear Reader, to determine which is the case on this one.

Check out Little Ambassadors, by Joseph Courtemanche.

Thanks for visiting. We’ve got a bunch of stories coming out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Today’s is the second of the Halloween bunch. Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

And keep your eyes peeled at THIS SPACE for an announcement about our new book coming SOON.

1313 – A Free Halloween Short Story from Kathy Kexel

The Free Flash Fiction Halloween Spectacular continues unabated with a story from Kathy Kexel. Now, long time readers of the Fondue Writers club will know that Kathy isn’t exactly known for her spookiness and scare-i-tude. As fellow author, Jamie Greening, notes:

Creepy doesn’t come natural to Kathy Kexel the way it does to the rest of us in the little writer’s collaboration. She’s the Marsha Brady of the Fondue Writers Club. She is sweet, gentle, and innocent. Kind of the opposite of Joe Shaw.

But Kathy comes through in fine form with a creepy and always visually stunning short story called “1313.” Check it out for yourself.

Thanks for visiting. We’ve got a bunch of stories coming out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Today’s is the second of the Halloween bunch. Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

And keep your eyes peeled at THIS SPACE for an announcement about our new book coming SOON.

See y’all again on Monday. Don’t Break Anything.

Rest In Peace – A Free Short Story by Derek Alan Elkins

The Free Flash Fiction Machine returns from the dead with a wonderful short story by Mr. Elkins about what happens when a loved one is not properly laid to rest. Click on the grave below or visit Derek’s site to check it out

Thanks for visiting. We’ve got a bunch of stories coming out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Today’s is the first of the Halloween bunch. Check out some of the other authors in our tribe. Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett.

Come back tomorrow for yet another Halloween story.