Featured Contributor — Matt Duvall

Why did I choose to participate in this anthology? Donna was one of the first people I met when I started my master’s program at Seton Hill University. She is a good friend and a truly generous human being. While many writers (or maybe just I) can be cynical, Donna is always positive. She supports other writers in many ways: buying their books, giving feedback on a first draft, or just motivating them to write. She’s also a great writer herself. In short, this anthology seemed the perfect way to give back a little bit and let Donna know how much we care.

The following is an excerpt from Matt’s horror story “Happy Holidays”:

It was already getting dark when Bill Harrington left the office, a brisk October night. He hadn’t gotten much done. Every time the phone rang he jolted to attention, fighting back the urge to fling it against the wall. He could sense the people in the cubicles nearby talking about the conversation with Peterson concerning his tardiness that morning– a whole five minutes. The smokers wasted way more time than that on just one break. He sighed, thinking of the endless interviews he’d been on in the past few months, exercises in futility. He was too old to compete with the college kids, his skills obsolete. And no matter how bad he wanted to just leave, there was still the mortgage to pay, the car bill every month.

Bill slammed on the brakes at the stoplight, realizing at the last second it was red. He couldn’t get his mind off Peterson. He was afraid he would cry, like a schoolboy scolded by the teacher. He flicked on his blinker for a right turn, tires squealing as he went around the corner.

There was a flash of white bed sheet and then a frightened ghoul’s face ground across the windshield. He felt a sickening thud under the tires.

“Oh my God, no,” he whispered. He looked at his face in the rearview, terrified. It couldn’t have been… A Dum-Dum wrapper floated through the air. Dimly he remembered passing other children, dressed for the occasion – Halloween.

About Matt…

A former professional wrestler who appeared on national TV shows, he was included in Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine’s Top 500 wrestlers for 1996. He completed his MFA at Seton Hill University, which is also where he met his wife, Natalie. His short fiction has been published in a number of venues, including Chizine, The Ultimate Unknown, and Eye Contact. When he’s not teaching high school students, he practices Krav Maga, runs half marathons, and tries to avoid mowing the yard. You can follow his blog about parenting at reallycrankydad.wordpress.com.

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Featured Contributor — Tanya Twombly

Why did I choose to participate in this anthology? Because it’s for Donna. It’s as simple as that. Donna is kind, generous, fun, vivacious, full of spunk and energy, and just plain ol’ good people. If the situation were reversed, not only would she have contributed, she would have spearheaded the project. I’ve suffered several losses to cancer in the last few years. I would do anything I could to help someone else battling the beast. Turns out, this is what I can do.

The following excerpt is a snippet from Tanya’s horror flash fiction story “She Weeps”:

The child hangs limply from her arms.

She lays the child tenderly on the bed, curling her own body around the small form. She shoos away flies attempting to lay their maggot babies on her child’s lips. She holds the child’s tiny hand in hers. Outside the bedroom window, the world moves on. Cars pass. A lawnmower drones. Children on bikes hurl names at one another across the street.

No one knows how she weeps.

The tears slide from under her lids like infection from a wound. Pain sucks the breath from her chest. She presses the tiny fingers to her lips. Loose skin slips over miniscule bones. The sobs finally come, keeping time with her husband’s pounding on the door. The latch gives. The door flings open.

“Jesus Christ. What have you done, you stupid cow?”