Published

H__NGS

This story was prompted by my own neglect and/or stupidity. On my first night vacationing in Scotland, I looked the wrong direction (the right way in America), saw no cars and stepped into the street. Nothing happened, but when I looked the other way, a big double decker was halfway up the block. I stepped back before the driver could honk his horn.

The “what if” became H__NGS, published in September 2020 by Potato Soup Journal.

H__NGS

by DL Shirey

The American looked tired. The paper band of airport codes wrapped around the handle of his luggage told of boarding at La Guardia and deplaning in Edinburgh. He had caught the local rail here, to Waverley station. He was unfamiliar with the city in particular, Great Britain in general, and all of Europe, in fact. It was his very first business trip traveling abroad.

He exited the train. The only person on the platform was a young woman in a slicker, her blue hair plastered down from the rain. The American pulled out a phone and the directions to his hotel: cross the one-way street, left for two blocks and turn right. Hungry, he consulted Yelp, saw the sign for HONGS across the street and re-pocketed the phone. Looking left for oncoming cars he saw nothing, so he popped open his umbrella, regripped his rolling suitcase and stepped off the curb.

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Published

Sugaree

Back in the day I was a fan of the Grateful Dead and one of my favorite songs was (and is) Sugaree. There’s another tribute inasmuch as the title character wears a GD T-shirt, but that’s as far as the nostalgia goes. This story is about headaches and a cure that’s pure speculative fiction. Published in Issue One of the Australian journal Curiouser Magazine.

Published

Lump

Hypochondriac isn’t the proper description for the character in this story. He’s more an ignoraphobic when it comes to illness. 99 times out of 100, when he disregards an ache or pain, it will go away in a day or two. If it doesn’t, this fellow will ignore it and self-diagnose a likely, commonplace malady. Above all he voids websites such as WebMD like the plague.

Of course, every once in a while, if the symptoms get really bad, he is forced to go get it checked out. When that happens, the treatment can be far worse than if I had just gone to the doctor in the first place. I mean HE, the character in this story published by Flashes Lit Journal.

Published

Have A Nice Day

Welcome to 2037. The future is not some bleak, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Oh, contraire. The world is exceedingly happy. Everything is good. All needs are met. Everyone is going to have a nice day. Originally published in April 2020 by Freedom Fiction.

Have A Nice Day

by DL Shirey

The cavernous assembly area is far behind me, but I can still hear the pleasant lilt of the repeated message, “Please face forward. Remove your hats. Keep the line moving. Thank you for your patience.” The voice isn’t robotic nor is it a recording. A live human is speaking with an amiable drawl, her words reverberating enthusiasm.

She is obviously enjoying herself. We all strive to be like her. It’s what I want, too. I look forward to my morning placement because I can’t wait to find my perfect job.

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Published

Under the Avatars

Before she started proofreading this story, I remember cautioning my wife that this one was quite twisted. So when I saw that there was an anthology looking for “body horror,” to be named Twisted Anatomy, I had to submit. Please do not venture into this anthology unaware: there are more than two dozen stories, some of which should be labelled with warning stickers. My story, “Under the Avatars” is right at home among them. Available for purchase on Amazon.

And check out my author’s page for other publications in which my stories appear.

Published

Sunday Dress

Four or five years ago, on a trip to New Mexico, I went to a museum and saw an exhibit of paper clothing. Actually, there were more than clothes on display; many everyday objects were also represented—laptop, guitar, bicycle—all made from colorful crepe paper. They came from Vietnam, handmade in tribute to people for whom those objects held special significance. Now, I won’t reveal anything more, that would be spoiling the story.

Learning about this lovely tradition stayed with me and was the key to writing “Sunday Dress.” First published by the UK journal ink, sweat and tears in March of 2020.

Sunday Dress

by DL Shirey

Ileana loved to make clothes. Afternoons after school she sat at my worktable, arranging patterns like jigsaw pieces to fit a length of fabric. These skills I taught her, daughter of my daughter, because her mother was not around to do it. Ileana made better choices. Ileana was a good girl.

It pains me now to sew, my fingers stiff with age. I can abide with the ache for my granddaughter, imagining the light in her eyes when Ileana slips on the dress. Every year, come winter, I make her one for spring.

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Published, Shorties

Fingernails

If a road trip can be divided by the destinations visited then it can be further subdivided by those long stretches inbetween with nothing to do. Fingernails is a 50-word snippet from one such subdivision. Published by Vine Leaves Press in 50 Give or Take, available by email subscription.

Published, Shorties

Terminal

This piece was bare-bones from its inception. It started as a 50-word story for another publication and was rejected. So, I took a hard look at a revision, added a whopping 14 more words and voila. The good folks at dreams walking published it in their second issue, back in June 2020.

Terminal

by DL Shirey

The push of air caused litter to rustle. Brakes squawked, water splashed up the curb. I looked up and saw nothing, yet still stepped back from the sidewalk’s edge.

“Don’t you know the rules?” a foul breath voiced, “Make way for exiting passengers.”

I waited, then a cold grip cupped my shoulder and shoved me forward. “Well, what are you waiting for?” it said, “Get on the bus.”

END

Published

The Harv

As horror goes, this story is rather tame. There is no gore, there are no grisly monsters. There is the Harv itself, but it’s just barely hideous. The real horror comes when one realizes that a story like this is possible.

And then there was the writing of it. I first concocted the plot and submitted it to a few journals with no takers. The rejections were understandable, the creature was abhorrent in the abstract, but needed to become real. In a major rewrite, I objectified the Harv even further by giving it a number (H3JJDx617) while showing glimpses of the creature’s emotion, curiosity and love of mangoes. Published by Teleport Magazine.