Published

What The Lord Giveth

giveth
image : romanlocks.com

They say “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” The hero in this horror story finds out that these words are more than an old saying when he discovers a mysterious object that grants wishes. My novella originally appeared in the debut edition of The Society of Misfit Stories Presents… along side more great speculative fiction.

What The Lord Giveth

by DL Shirey

A.D. 1988 – Brant Egan always tackled the worst job first when his shift started at eleven p.m. He ran the city’s incinerator, torching everything from hospital waste to old car batteries, but at the top of his list were the containers from Animal Control. According to policy, euthanized dogs and cats from the animal shelter were put in 50-pound bags, so Brant didn’t have to see the contents. He hefted the black bags by their handles and tossed them in the batch loader. The most unpleasant task came in barrels marked with biohazard labels. They contained road-kill that Brant was forced to unload with a pitchfork. The smell was bad and seemed to get worse with each raccoon, opossum or chunk of unidentifiable meat he pierced. There was the occasional deer carcass and when he struggled with its weight, Brant couldn’t help thinking of that old Bambi cartoon.

Although only 24, most of his muscle had gone to fat, but Brant was still quite strong. If only his stomach had the same strength. It was all he could do to push back against what threatened to rise in his throat when Brant recognized a clotted mound of fur as a house pet. He had to swallow hard with each dog and cat because Brant could not help but visualize them whole: fetching balls, romping and playing, dozing contentedly on a couch. He wished he could close his eyes to do this part of the job.

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Published

Nicole Kidman’s Shoes

Shoes
image : macys.com

The idea for this humorous short story was already in place. What was missing was the movie star; someone well known and famous. To be honest, I don’t know if Nicole Kidman is as temperamental as she comes across in the story. When writing it I had just watched one of her movies on Netflix and decided she would be perfect. I even make a cameo appearance as “the writer.” This story was originally published by CommuterLit in January 2019.

Nicole Kidman’s Shoes

by DL Shirey

The day of the screen test, Gary got up early. He was so excited, sleep had evaded him most of the night. It had been a good eighteen months since he had made the decision to take Hollywood by storm. The classes, the training and creating the perfect look, all of it was going to pay off today.

When Gary’s feet hit the upstairs floor Wanda barked. She was always excited to see Gary, no matter the day. She didn’t know this one was circled on the calendar. And Gary started the morning like any other, giving the dog a good brushing and a big bowl of kibble.

As he put on the florid purple jacket, Gary couldn’t decide if he felt a fool for agreeing to the attire or for his dreams of stardom. Either way, he was immediately bolstered by a happy bark.

“That’s my good Wanda. Who’s my best girl? What is it you want to do today my sweet, my bestest girl? Go for a ride?”

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Published

On the Flame of One Candle

hummingbird
image : amazon.com

Two vacations lent significant portions to this piece of fiction. The church came from Santa Fe, NM. The musicians came from Austin, TX. Together they formed the backbone of this tale. Although it strays from my usual speculative style, I think it’s one of my better stories. It was published in October 2018 by Wild Musette Journal for their “Vegetable Pulp” issue.

On the Flame of One Candle

by DL Shirey

Shrine. Perhaps too big a word for such a small saint, but people passing through Austin know where to find her. The table is wedged into a narrow notch at the dark end of the spare, little church, next to the storage closet.

As he does each morning before unlocking the doors, Carlo runs a feather duster along the wooden frame bolted to the wall above the table. It’s a reproduction of a fifteenth-century portrait: a woman finely dressed, hair pulled up and garnished with flowers. Dainty fingers lay on her viola strings, a look of serenity on her face as if she just heard something heavenly.

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Published

Assisi Terminal

assisi
image : unsplash.com

This is an essay wrapped in a short story, published in March 2019 by Moon Magazine. In my opinion, important life choices should not be determined by anyone except the person making the choice. Assisi Terminal was first formed way back when after seeing the movie Soylent Green. There’s this scene near the end with Edward G. Robinson and he decides to go to… Wait, that would be a spoiler. Read it and then go watch the movie.

Please help support Moon Magazine by buying their latest anthology: Out Of This World, best short stories 2013-2019 (Kindle and paperback versions are both available). You’ll find Assisi Terminal included in this collection.

Assisi Terminal

by DL Shirey

The hardest part was choosing the music, until this email, anyway. This isn’t a suicide note in the usual sense. Yes, I’m still going to kill myself, but it’s not like it will be a surprise to anyone, especially not you. Nothing’s changed since we said our goodbyes at the airport.

The reason I’m writing is because of this stick-thin young woman across from me. She’s a talker; comes on to anyone that takes a seat near her. Say hello back and it’s Welcome to Blabberfest. Doesn’t take long until she drives the person away with her incessant chatter. And because it’s such a small waiting room, there’s always another unlucky soul sitting down. More blah blah blah, leukemia this, weeks-to-live that. So I’m writing to you on my phone, because: A) nose-in-phone is the universal symbol for Don’t Bother Me; B) hopefully, Skinny will see I’m otherwise engaged and strike up conversations elsewhere; and C) a phone is the only thing you’re allowed to bring with you to Assisi Terminal.

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Published

All You Can Drink $5.00

all you can drink
image : twofivesix256.blogspot.com

According to the character in this story “if you can find a refuge away from the world, where people know you, where you feel comfortable enough to be yourself, that can be family enough.” For him that might be a comforting statement, but the place where he finds it is anything but comfortable.

A toast to Yellow Mama, the webzine that first published the tale back in December 2018.

All You Can Drink $5.00

by DL Shirey

I did a double-take at the sign on the door, to make certain I’d read it correctly. Who could blame me for checking, given my lousy day so far? I’d lost a good account, my phone died and I was stuck in a strange town overnight with nothing but a cut-rate motel room in my immediate future. Cheap drinks sounded like a good way to end a bad business trip.

I reached for the door handle when a man crashed through. Clearly drunk, he staggered forward, trying not to lose his footing. He was dressed as I was, in a blue suit and tie; but that’s where the similarities ended. He looked twenty years my senior and his suit had scuffs and stains, the sleeves and cuffs worn to frays. He hadn’t shaved in days.

Wild eyes met mine and his mouth unhinged to speak. Then a bull of a man shouldered through the door and grabbed the man by the collar.

“I’ll show you how to finish what you started,” Bull snorted.

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Published

Faithful

Faithful
image : slickwraps.com

Horror Tree is a valuable resource for authors of speculative fiction, with news and information about publishers and markets. They also post writers’ stories in the editor’s weekly column, Trembling With Fear. In December 2018 they published my short story “Faithful,” a tale of technology being used in the wrongest way possible. Also available in an anthology on Amazon US (Kindle or paperback) and Amazon UK (Kindle or paperback).

Faithful

by DL Shirey

The first blue of morning came before Lowell looked at the sky outside his window. The phone in his hand lit in azure, prompting the middle-aged man to get out of bed. His fingers were combing back the memory of hair when the white letters appeared on the blue background:

*faithful*

Lowell swept his legs out from under the sheet and placed his feet onto polished oak, feeling the cold wood floor. His new morning ritual was all about feeling, connecting to his emotions and embracing what the daily word truly meant. Be in the moment, the Master had said, feel this moment. But all Lowell could feel now was a scratching need for coffee and the chill of a bachelor’s bedroom before the heater kicked in.

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Published

Webs of Flesh

trailer
image : flickr.com kknox55

In this story, an intriguing character named Alice has a disturbingly peculiar talent. I always thought she might make an appearance in another story. If she does, remember, you saw her here first.

Webs of Flesh

by DL Shirey

The low winter sun burned a dull spot in the cloudy gray crust, the barest halo in search of an angel. She won’t be found by day, only at night below Kendall Bridge.

At noon I strolled above the same river as the night before. The water was high and muddy from runoff following heavy rains, the surface so thick with silt it didn’t reflect the city skyline to my left. To the right, warehouses stacked on end like fallen dominos. I retraced my steps down a narrow walkway of the train bridge to a stairwell caged in chicken wire.

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