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An anthology published by Soft Whispers Magazine

2/14/2010

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Table of Contents:

Laura Eno (FOREVER MINE)...............................................................................4 Anne Tyler Lord (Menage a Trois Avant-garde).....................................................6 Carrie Clevenger (The Wedding Gift) ....................................................................9 David G Shrock (Memor Mora) .............................................................................11 Martin A. Ramos (Zombie Love, or Necrophilia as Romance) ...............................14 Annie Evett (In Pursuit of Perfection) ....................................................................16 Dan Powell (Love is….).........................................................................................19 Eric Krause (Between the Strobes) .........................................................................20 Jodi Milner (Love You to Pieces) ...........................................................................23 BD Hudison (Ode to Love) ....................................................................................27 Angie Capozello (Death Wore Velvet) ...................................................................28 Jim Wisneski (Me too, You)...................................................................................29 Jim Wisneski (The BrokenHeart Tree) ...................................................................30

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FOREVER MINE by Laura Eno

In a few hours it would be Valentine’s Day. Albert needed to choose the perfect gift for his
beloved Lydia, one that she would finally accept. She’d rejected the others in the past. Ever hopeful, Albert determined that this year would be different. It must be. He strode down the main street, lost in thought. The chill air held the promise of snow but Albert didn’t notice. His thoughts centered on the first time he’d seen her, that Valentine’s Day three years ago. The room had sparkled with soft lighting, but the radiance from her burst forth like a ray of sunshine. All eyes were upon her as men vied for dances throughout the evening. Albert didn’t dare approach this goddess of light. He, a mere mortal, wasn’t worthy of her look, her touch. Albert followed her through the streets when she left with one of the men later on. Her exotic perfume drifted through the night air, as did her sultry laughter. He watched her long, dark locks sway gently against the back of her emerald gown, thinking she was the finest creature to walk the face of the earth. Annoyance struck him as the unidentified man wrapped his arm around the goddess. She, in turn, rested her head against his shoulder. Albert dared to move closer to the two in hopes of overhearing their conversation. What he heard displeased him greatly and, he imagined, upset the goddess as well. It was crude, rough talk – not the sort of conversation one would have with a proper lady. Once they turned the corner, Albert withdrew the knife he carried in his waistband. One swift jab through the back and his opponent went down without a sound. For a moment Albert thought his goddess might scream, but she relaxed into his arms instead. He took her home with him, where he’d worshiped her ever since. She refused to give her name so he named her Lydia, after his mother. Despite her reticence to talk to him, he could see that she and his mother got along well, spending their days sitting in the parlor together. The next Valentine’s Day Albert brought Lydia a very special gift, one intended to win her affection as they marked their one-year anniversary together. She refused it, wouldn’t even open the box that he’d lovingly tied with a large red bow. The gift on their second anniversary had produced the same reaction. Albert thought about where he might have gone wrong before, on this, their third anniversary. He was desperate to see the sparkle in her eyes turned on him, to see the warmth of her smile that she’d shown that other man so long ago. Was it too much to ask that she extend him the same courtesy?

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His walk took him down by the riverbank, a place that belonged to the seedier side of life. A woman approached, bundled in a coat that had seen better days. Her neckline dripped with jewels – perhaps in gratitude for favors, perhaps stolen. It didn’t matter to Albert. He knew he’d found his gift for Lydia. *** “I’m home.” No reply, but then he hadn’t expected one. Albert couldn’t remember the last time his mother had spoken to him, either. He wrapped the box with Lydia’s present in a red bow, feeling certain that this year she would accept it. Entering the parlor, he knelt on one knee in front of her. When she declined to take it, Albert opened the box for her, lifting the lid with great suspense. “I’m sure you’ll like this one, my darling. I brought it to replace yours, since I damaged it. Won’t you accept it, please?” Albert lifted the heart out of the box, placing it in Lydia’s skeletal hand, drops of fresh blood adding to the older stains on her emerald gown. He thought his mother might have nodded in approval. He was sure that Lydia was pleased. It was only a matter of time before she told him so.
©2010 Laura Eno

Laura Eno lets the stories decide how long they’ll be. Some are flash and some are novels. Various online publications include 10Flash, Everyday Weirdness, The New Flesh, MicroHorror, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, House of Horror. To learn more about her, please visit http://lauraeno.blogspot.com

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Ménage à Trois Avant-garde by Anne Tyler Lord

The fierce February wind grabbed his beloved journal and blew it violently to the pavement.
Jack lunged in horror thrusting desperate hands to save it from harm. He cursed himself for his carelessness, how stupid was he for reading Jenny’s words while walking in this wicked wind? After removing the offending slush Jack caressed the worn leather cover and looked for a safe place to inspect the pages for damage. A coffeehouse seemed like the perfect place to hide from the winds tormenting this bleak Paris street. He slammed inside out of the wind, stamping the slush from his shoes. Jack saw a young woman behind the counter peering intently at him. She had deep purple eyes, long black hair, and an unusually pointed chin. “I’ll take, ah…” Jack felt himself falling into her gaze somehow and never completed his order. She stood holding a black cup and saucer in her hands, but as he spoke turned to add one more ingredient. “Just a moment, your coffee is almost ready.” Jack pulled his attention back to his journal to make sure the slush had not invaded the inside, smudging his words or drawings. He didn’t notice the woman stirring his coffee with a copper spoon or the blue vapors that rose ever so gently from the hot liquid. “Here’s my own special blend, sir, on the house.” “Gee, thanks.” Jack’s spirits lifted. He carefully chose a table for himself and his sweetheart. He was madly in love with Jenny, and she was totally devoted to him. In 1950, Jack first imagined Jenny and since then he had lived out their relationship in the pages of his journals. He had brought her to Paris to celebrate their tenth anniversary. This morning, he lovingly chose Jenny’s words to him; I love you and only you. No one will ever come between us. He ran his fingers across the words to feel her presence. She became more real to Jack with each passing year. After reassuring himself of Jenny’s undying devotion, Jack placed the journal inside his breast pocket and pushed it nearer his heart. Jack breathed the intoxicating aroma of his free coffee as he brought the cup close to his lips. The strangely delicious taste permeated and overwhelmed his senses; as soon as he swallowed he slumped into total darkness.

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Liniket had been watching Jack from behind the counter. “Girls, come on out and help me, he’s ready.” Her two sisters emerged from behind a thick woven curtain that veiled the doorway to a back room. “Oh Lini, he’s divine!” Liniket’s sister whispered. Without much notice from the other patrons, the three sisters carried Jack to the back room and placed him on a massage table. “Have a great time, dear.” The sisters giggled and left Liniket alone with Jack. Liniket lovingly removed Jack’s clothing and covered him with herb-infused oil. She sang softly as she rubbed the oil over every inch of his body. She yearned to have him inside of her to experience his throbbing life force. She prepared her surgical tray of syringes for the extractions. She cut off Jack’s hair and gently stuffed it inside one of her handmade embroidered pillows. She removed his finger and toenails to decorate later for jewelry. She shivered as each needle slowly penetrated Jack’s flesh. She moaned in ecstasy as she carefully drew his fluids. She walked back and forth to the canning jars lining the shelves all along the walls. Each jar had a label written in Liniket’s unusual handwriting; Morris 1945 – brain fluid, Gerald 1922 - blood, Henry 1865 – semen, Rupert 1825 – spinal fluid, George, 1771 – urine. There were hundreds of jars filled with the essence of her past loves. She prepared several jars for Jack. She couldn’t wait to experience him. Each morning for the last two centuries Liniket had carefully chosen a small amount of one of her loves to add to her food. She was a sensitive woman who could feel the ecstasy of their passion hidden deep within their DNA. She celebrated this evolved intimacy, becoming immersed in their energy and by extension becoming one with the bodies of the human species.

Tonight, Liniket planned to experience a new depth of intimacy. She could feel the desperately hungry passion locked deep inside of Jack and was determined to release it to become one with him like never before. Liniket’s orgasmic energy was at a climax as she raised a cleaver above Jack’s chest to crack him open. She could not wait to reveal his heart, still beating, so soft and full of blood. An iridescent hand suddenly grabbed her wrist to stop the assault. Liniket scowled at the trail of light emanating from the very center of Jack’s journal where it lay on a table next to him. Liniket pulled with all her might to break free from the force holding her prisoner. “You will not take Jack from me!” A strong female voice pronounced from the journal.

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“No! Jack is mine now! Liniket cried as she intensified her struggle. Jack began to wake and overheard the argument. In his half-dream state he smiled at the thought of two women fighting over him. “Girls, there’s enough of ‘ol Jack to go around…” He slurred before blacking out again. “You know, he’s right,” said Liniket as she calmed down. She stood lost in thought and after a moment the glowing hand released her. The two seemed to come to some wordless understanding. Liniket picked up the cleaver once again and cracked open Jack’s chest to reveal her treasure. The iridescent hand of Jenny, whom Jack had both created and imprisoned, grabbed Jack by the neck, swiftly taking his soul back with her into his beloved journal. Later that evening, Liniket thought, who says two women can’t share the same man, as she celebrated with a deliciously intimate dinner of braised heart pasta with spinal fluid Marsala followed by a lovely semen sorbet.

Anne Tyler Lord writes several genres of fiction. Anne is writing a romantic suspense novel, REvolutionary Nights, started during the 2009 NaNoWriMo, which she won. She is currently writing serial flash fiction on her blog and is featured on the serial fiction website The Penny Dreadful. She also writes poetry and short stories. Anne writes a regular feature on her blog, The Writer’s Life, that discusses the wild and wacky life of being a writer and what inspires creativity. When not writing, she spends most of her days playing with her twins and parenting her cats. She is a psychotherapist who enjoys working with children and families. She also writes nonfiction self-help about parenting and educating gifted children and presents at conferences. Anne lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and boy/girl twins. You can visit her website at Don’t Fence Me In and follow Anne on Twitter @AnneTylerLord

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The Wedding Gift by Carrie Clevenger

I wiggle my toes in my socks and swallow hard on a sudden revelation. Can it possibly be
called love, this thing we share? Enough to take her by the hand, get on one bended knee and profess eternity? “Michael,” Allison comes in, closing the door with a smart snap behind her, “They're coming. They've figured out that the bodies out front are a decoy.” I snatch my boots from beside the little fire and stomp my feet into them. “Pack what you can into that big bag, and I'll go have a look—“ “No, Michael,” she says, slapping a hand over my arm. Her eyes are intense. “They're too close. If you go outside, they'll smell you in a heartbeat.” She and I met by chance while cowering in the same destitute FedEx truck almost a year ago. She carried a rifle and walked with such a purpose, I was hooked. Every so often she or I would run across another Normal, and we'd invite them back. The last Normal swung from the eaves as a warning to any new thieves, and a reminder to us that not everyone could be trusted. In his knapsack—a ring. I pocketed it before Allison saw it. We made a barricade a few months earlier, cultivating a virtual maze around the Victorian-style three-bedroom house. I know whose house it was, but my old fifth-grade teacher wouldn't need it now. She's probably still out there somewhere, chewing on the principal's face. She hasn't been in the population we've already taken down. The Others, as we've taken to calling them, lap like dogs at oil-slicked puddles and meander off in packs of a dozen or more, one always assuming the alpha position of each little pod. Ali and I were the last of the group of nine. Some shot themselves, wasting precious bullets, others were caught out after sunset gathering supplies. The sun slowed The Others down considerably, but heat infuriated them. “I was about to ask you something,” I say, snapping myself from reverie. She frowns at me, that delicate cleft in her sweet little chin deepening as her bottom lip rolls out and her cerulean eyes question me. I take her hand in mine, slipping the ring on just as smooth as I've rehearsed it in my head, over and over. She snatches her hand away.

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“What's this?” “Be my wife,” I whisper. “Michael—“ “Before you object, keep in mind that I'm all you've got now. Unless there are more out there, somewhere.” I pant, the asthma kicking in. “Michael, of course I will, but right now? You really want to think about marriage right now?” I hand her a shotgun; together we load our weapons in silence. I pull her close, and her hand goes to my hair. We gaze into one another's eyes. The door blows inward in a starburst radius of splinters. We don't look. We can't look. It's too hard to see the faces of those you used to know—faces half eaten with decay—come at you as mindless beasts. Not taking my eyes from hers, I position my shotgun under her chin, and hers under mine. Our lips meet tenderly, hesitantly, then fully as the dozens of the Others file into the room. Hairless and some missing limbs, eyes, noses and parts of ears, they sniff the air and lick their teeth in anticipation of something not dead. “Now,” I say, breaking the kiss to pull the trigger, hoping she does the sa—

Carrie Clevenger, (also known as Carrie Cleaver) worships Maynard and dreams of cephalopods on trains and other oddities in Austin, Texas. She doesn’t have to write the next great novel, but it’d be nice to at least leave a bloody print on her way down.

The hub of her evil network can be found at http://shadowsinstone.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter as @shadowsinstone.

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Memor Mora by David G Shrock

She reminds him of Mora. Fanned out over purple pillow, dark hair glistens in sunlight.
Powders color serene face. Black dress, snug in the middle, flows in folded waves meeting toes. Something Mora might wear dancing barefoot in a moonlit meadow. Lost to shadows, Mora is a shifting haze crawling from the depths taking on the details of the woman resting on purple enclosed within the glass casket. A purple procession enters the stone chamber. Memor glides before them, but their eyes ignore him. They watch the glass casket. None ever remember his passing, forgetting him in an instant if they notice him at all. A young man speaks silent words. An older woman bows her head. Approaching the man, Memor reaches out tasting a memory. Sounds come alive, water dripping, voices murmuring. He feels the warm dank air, a castle, the linking memory tells him. The man is a prince. Memor drinks in a memory finding more. Kira sleeps within the glass casket. “My dear son,” says the queen. “The girl is a doll.” “Kira will make a wonderful bride,” says the prince. Searching for the clue, Memor consumes memory. Shooting up from the abyss, a bubble spears into another, memories transforming. Caught within the flow, Memor rises. Birds chirp. Leaves rustle. In a breath, the world falls silent. Memor stands at the edge of shadows between his world and the other. Clouds float in pale blue, sky dimmed by the shadow-side. On a nearby tree, leaves wriggle dancing to a spectral breeze. Others stand beside him on either side, all apparitions. Memor is barely a shadow in their world, and they are phantoms on the shadow-side. The prince bows his head. Memor watches the casket lower into the ground, shade eating away at the glare on the glass. Kira rests on purple, arms over chest. Black dress, serene face, midnight hair remind him of Mora. Body lowers, dress blending into darkness, but the face brightens, and Memor sees it, a trickle within.

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Memory. “She's alive,” says Memor. Nobody hears him. He shouts again. Stepping into the grave, Memor peers into the casket. He imagines Mora lost within overcome by sensory bliss. The dead harbor no memory. Kira is alive. The trickle of memory drifts within beauty, subconscious thought. Eager for a taste, he reaches out. The stream is so calm. Peering at the serene face, he sees the gleaming smile of Mora, her dress flowing as she dances in the meadow. The moon floats in the sky. Frost speckles the fir trees circling the meadow. From within the waving grass, snow rises into mounds, winter eating autumn. Frost kisses the dark dress and flowing hair. Mora dances kicking up snow. Lunging, Memor bites into Kira. He takes it all inside, filling himself with frosty air soaked in warm blood. A linking memory carries him to a forest, a cottage covered in snow. Silence cracks. Standing before the cottage, Kira holds a broom. Her hair waves in the breeze, but she is a statue. Slanted eyes peer at Memor. Memor glides over snow, untouched. Kira shrinks back, expression slamming through uncertainty, fear, surprise. Memor locks his gaze with hers. Kira swings the broom. “Keep back, wraith!” Her voice sounds distant. “You see me,” says Memor. “Yes, I see you!” Lunging, Kira swipes the broom passing through Memor. “Thief.” “I seek another,” says Memor. “She is Mora.” He considers describing his love, but stumbles realizing he has no idea how Mora might appear to Kira. Another taste, he considers. Lashing out, Memor grabs hold. He drinks. Chills scramble down. A tree groans. Standing in snow, a shadow defies the light nearly like a reflection. The slender wraith reaches out, smoky wisps trailing in the wake. Within the hazy edges, shapes rise from the darkness forming a cloaked man with face full of sadness. Kira recalls the shadowy creature. A memory wraith she calls him. Fear crawls deep inside. Memor drinks it in.

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A torrent rises, memories splashing together. A sensory explosion floods over: chilly air, sweet flowers, singing birds. Following the storm, he passes memories so vivid, so delicious, he samples each one tasting fear, surprise, love. Floating on euphoria, he rides the wave splashing in on itself diving deeper into bliss. Mora! He tastes her, the rhapsody to his melody. Memor consumes memory. Frost bites flesh. The memory wraith, Memor, stands in the snow with his arm reaching, claws digging. Like peering into a mirror, he sees Kira. Frost weighs down her dark hair, blood trickles from her mouth, face frozen in fright. Her eyes stare like death. Within the memory mirror, he sees another. A wraith stands in place of Memor. Long smoky hair floats defying breeze. From his side of the shadows, Memor sees Mora reaching into Kira reflecting his own touch, both consuming memory. Kira falls back, snow puffing. Warmth wraps around. Gray sky turns blue. Memor claws for freedom. “She's not dead,” a voice says. Memor releases hold crashing into silence. Standing half in the grave, Memor watches men pull on ropes. The prince falls to his knees. The glass casket rises into sunlight, reflection blazing. Memor drops back stumbling on the shadowside. Wrapped in the arms of the prince, Kira awakens. Peering back, her gaze finds Memor. The fierce eyes tell him to stay away, forget. The crowd falls in around the couple, sweeping them across the graveyard. Memor watches them take his sweet Mora away, a memory within a memory. Departing apparitions, each one fades until Kira walks alone. Then she too fades away, forgotten. Memor remembers the meadow, moon floating in the sky, and falling in love. Mora is his memory.

David G Shrock enjoys riding bicycles in the Pacific Northwest. You may find his stories and other adventures at www.dracotorre.com or @dracotorre on Twitter.

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Zombie Love, Or Necrophilia as Romance by Martin A. Ramos

In the necropolis
I found My zombie love Waltzing around. It’s midnight And the hue Is not mauve pink But black and blue. Your carapace My love Was striking When it was alive. Now that it’s Dead and overdone The stench is Ne’er much fun. I could but love You even more But Death hangs Primly at your door. Your hair Worn in a bun Would shame a Reggae Rasta man. Your lips, A rich vermillion, Have feasted on One million. Your eyes, Once flames of fire, Now lust

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Dead with desire.

If only It were true That I could make Sweet love to you. If such Would be my fate, That I could love The ones I ate, Then take me To my zombie grave. And I will be Your zombie slave.

Martin A. Ramos is a writer of short stories and poetry from Hormigueros, PR. He has been published in places such as Rattle, Dragonfly, Latino Stuff Review and Writer's Digest, and online in Red River Review, The Cortland Review and Gold Dust Magazine. His fiction as appeared in a recent collection, "One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories" published by New Internationalist.

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In Pursuit of Perfection. by Annie Evett

Edgar stared, from beneath cumbersome eyelids at the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen in
his short and unremarkable life. With hands clasping his cleft chin and knobbed elbows perched on the delicate lace table cloth, his face set into an Jokeresque grin enraptured with Clarises chatter.. A thin trail of drool snaked from his slack mouth, travelled over his fingers and slid its way between the shirt sleeves and his hairy arms; a dark wet patch spreading where the shirt met the inside his elbow.. Smiling, Clarise stopped mid sentence and with a flick of her white wrist, snapped open her napkin and bent forward to dab the errant flow from Edgar’s chin. “Finish your dessert, Edgar. Don’t let it go to waste.” Edgar could hardly breathe; she was so close, much less eat. Her sweet scent, like a fine pashmina, wrapped itself around his face, smothering his senses and ability to think “You’re so beautiful, Clarise.” She pressed one alabaster finger to his lips. The icy touch sent shivers through Edgar. He pulled her finger away. With his clumsy, shaking fingers he traced the contours of her hand, marvelling at the smooth skin and flawless nails. “Such a perfect hand.” He glanced up at her. “Whose are they?” Clarise’s coy smile electrified his synapses. “Eat up. The staff are waiting for us to leave.” “I don’t want tonight to end. I can’t believe…” Edgar flushed and struggled to remember the speech he’d had help to prepare. “Your lips are like petals with dewdrops. Who’d you get them from?” “My grandmother.” Clarise pouted theatrically and motioned for him to continue. “Your eyes are like shining beads, your hair so silky I can’t imagine how long it took to thread it all on your head. You know, make it all pretty like you do...” Edgar’s fringe flopped into his eyes, sodden with sweat. “I mean you’re so perfect, I can hardly see any marks or lines on your face and I know how old you must be.”

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Clarise’s rosebud lips pursed as her dark brows wrinkled slightly and the temperature dropped. “Thank-you, Edgar.” I’m going to freshen up.” She rose, folding the napkin, and moved off, between the empty chairs with angelic grace. With Clarise gone, thoughts began to return. He’d made it to dessert without her running screaming from the restaurant. That made him grin so hard his face hurt. Grasping the spoon like a weapon, he began shovelling the remains on his (what dessert?) into his maw. Cursed with two left hands, as opposed to two left feet, Edgar found it impossible to eat with grace or decorum, making him an embarrassing dinner companion. Clarise hadn’t seemed to notice or mind He looked about the classy interior, glad for the extra notes he’d popped into his wallet. This was his first time he’d dared to eat on this side of town. It would be expensive, but worth it. “Best we go now?” Clarise’s cool hands lay on his shoulders momentarily as she swept past him. His mouth stuffed to near exploding; Edgar could only nod when the Maitre de enquired if he would like the bill brought to the table. Frantically searching his pockets for his wallet, Edgar realised with a sinking dread it was missing. He stood, taking the table cloth with him; “Everything in order, Sir?” Edgar patted his pockets helplessly, “ I… I - seem to have misplaced my wallet. It must have fallen to the floor.” The Maitre de’s stony face betrayed none of his thoughts. “Indeed, sir. I’ll allow you a moment,.” Waitresses desperate to go home after a long shift descended on the broken glass, wine spreading in red patches across their cleaning rags. Clarise bent down to pick up one of the glass shakers, delicately licking salt from her fingertips. She eyed him hungrily. A cold chill beset Edgar and he choked on a new realisation of how the evening was going to end. “I knew you were too good to be true. That hair, your wrists with no lines in ‘em. Ordering rock salt encrusted snapper and salty liquorice icecream. Your one of them, aren’t you? A body Swapper.” Respectable zombies and animated corpses were happy with the parts they were gifted or sewn with; but not so with thieves like Clarise. Her delicate fingers paused and shot over to cover his quivering lips.

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“Shhhhh. I’m not after much. Something you will hardly miss.” Nodding two waiters materialised behind him, pushing him roughly into his seat. Clairse smoothed the sodden hair away from his forehead, then traced around his ears, her fingers lingering on his earlobe “Such delicate, perfect ears. A waste on an oaf like you.” Edgar writhed in panic; thrashing unsuccessfully against his captors. “Not the ears! They were my mothers. The only thing I have of hers; please. Take anything else.” The icy hand silenced him again. “Shhhh…” She then swept her long hair away to display misshapen thick ears. “You said yourself, I was perfect. And I will be once I have your beautiful ears. Thank-you Edgar.” Clarise nodded again at her silent henchmen stepping back as the remaining staff abandoned the restaurant,..Edgar’s arms were tied behind him and his head pinned to the table. With eyes bulging, he saw an array of knives and needles rolled out inches from his nose. Clarise’s sickly sweet scent attacked him as he felt her hovering behind him. “Nothing personal, Edgar.” Her scarlet nails raked over his shoulders. “In fact, you were such a charming dinner partner, I’ll let you have my cast offs.” Clarise kissed one of the knives and handed it to a waiter who had stripped down to his black trousers. “The boys will take care of things from here.” With a kiss blown from perfect finger tips she slid out of sight. The service door swung back and forth in her wake and Edgar screamed.

Annie co-authors “The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan”, a historical fictional ongoing online adventure series, is Wednesdays weekly columnist at Write Anything , co-authored “Reclaim” a survival guide for couples and is Type A Moms columnist Suburban Mom. Most recently, she has been involved with the exciting collaborative short story anthology Chinese Whisperings and juggles motherhood and workshop facilitation with her growing number of characters who demand their share of the limelight in her weekly flash fiction. Continue your adventure with her writing on http://annieevett.com.

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Love is..... by Dan Powell

We don't get out of the car, we never do. Beryl passes me the thermos and I pour us both a tea.
My plastic plate balances on the dash loaded with sandwiches and cherry tomatoes from the Tupperware boxes she packed for our lunch. We eat and drink in silence, staring out the windscreen of our old Austin Allegro. Woodland and moor spreads out around us, carpeting miles and miles before hitting town or village. A couple of hikers, young and firm legged, approach along the footpath. They stare for a moment, nudge each other, tip their heads in our direction. We are the funny old couple, parked in the lay-by, eating a picnic in their car on a hot summer day. With the windows wound down we hear their whispers. Sad old dears, they say, shoot me if we get like that. Beryl and I stare back from within our out of date car, our out of date overcoats, from behind out of date glasses. 'They'll be old one day,' I say, 'and they won't have the memories we have.' I look to Beryl and she is smiling. She takes my hand and kisses the back of it. I know she is thinking of when we were young and what we got up to out here under cover of night. Too old for that sort of thing these days but it is enough to drive here and look out upon the countryside that hides so much of our past. I return Beryl's kiss and think of where we buried all the bodies. None of them were found. Either of us could tell you exactly where to find them though. Even now, so many years later. We wouldn't need to get out of the car to remember, we never do. The hikers disappear around a bend in the road. 'If we were twenty years younger, eh love,' I say to Beryl and she smiles.

Dan Powell (almost exclusively) writes fiction of all shapes and sizes while working his way through a number of creative writing courses. When not writing, he looks after his two young sons as a homedad. His blog appears as if by magic when you type in www.danpowellfiction.com.

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Between the Strobes by Eric J. Krause

The loud music bleeds out onto the street as you walk up to the Kappa Delta Pi house.
Tonight will be epic. You pat the card in your pocket to make sure it hasn't fallen out. Mandy from Econ 101 promised she'd be here, and what better way to hook up than hand her a Valentine? Not that you were dumb enough to put her name on the envelope. She's a fine piece of ass, so someone else might have already staked their claim. It'd be a disappointment, but plenty of hot honeys could take her place. A Be-Mine card is the perfect pick-up line. You greet two of the brothers at the door, one with a high-five and the other with a bro-hug. You're not a frat guy, but they respect how you bring the party. Not three steps in you see Mandy talking to one of her friends. After a quick detour for a beer, you saddle up next to her. "How sweet," she says as you hand her the card. She reads it, and then gives you a big hug and kiss. You taste whiskey on her tongue. This'll be too easy. "Come on, I want to dance." She pulls you into the next room where it's obvious the brothers pulled out all the stops--professional DJ, laser and fog machines, and a strobe light. Dancing isn't your thing, but you can pull it together enough to keep the ladies happy. And Mandy certainly seems pleased. She bumps and grinds all over you, and you put in enough moves to prove you're not just groping, even though that's all you want to do. Two songs pass, and you're about to offer to go grab a couple drinks, when she stops and frowns. You turn to see what she's staring at, fearful it's an old boyfriend or something. There's nothing there. "This isn't a costume party, is it?" You shake your head. "I saw some girl over on the other side of the room, between blinks of the strobe light." She clenches her eyes shut and looks back. "I could've sworn she had torn clothes with blood all over her." There's nothing besides other dancers. You let the strobe overtake your senses, but still don't see anything. She whimpers beside you.

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"You don't see her?" Was this girl tripping on something before you got here? Whatever it was, she got a bad dose. She's too tense, too rigid, to even pull off the dance floor. No one notices until she screams. "Oh god, she's dead! She's dead!" She turns to bolt but trips over your feet, knocking you both to the ground. The song ends, but the DJ doesn't spin the next one as everyone looks at Mandy, watches her freak. You slither to her side and she stops screaming. It's not alright, though, as she's gone pale. Shock? As you're about to yell for someone to call 9-1-1, you see it. Between the strobes, just as she said. It's a girl about your age, but like Mandy said, she's dead. She's covered in blood and it takes a few blinks for you to realize why. Her throat is slit from ear to ear, but not only that, she has chunks bitten out of her flesh. You can see the teeth marks around the wounds. A few look like something was pushed into them, tearing the flesh around the bites. She has bits of clothes still covering her in strategic spots, which is good because the fabrics are soaked through with her blood. As bad as the rest of her looks, you don't want to imagine what those parts look like. She moves through the blinking light towards you, her vacant eyes locked on yours. Her hands push through your shoulders, and you know what it's like to be locked outside without a coat during a blizzard. Maybe you scream, maybe you don't. But you do black out. You're in the same room, but all the dance equipment is gone. You look around to get your bearings, but everything more than a few feet away is blurred. Until a piercing scream shows a group of a dozen or so guys in the middle of the room. Some have on the Kappa Delta Pi ceremonial robes, while others are naked. A guy crawls out of the circle and spits something from his mouth. Blood pours down his chin. "Plenty of holes for everyone, boys," he says. Now you know where those bites came from. It can only end badly, but you ball your fists and wade in to save the girl. You float right through everyone, and they have no idea you're there. You're the ghost in this scene. Everything starts to spin, but before you go, you find her. She stares up to the ceiling with those same vacant eyes. Thank god for that. She's already dead. A dozen or more voices ask if you're okay. You are and they step back to let you breathe. There's no sign of Mandy, but who cares? A quick scan of the room brings something that punches you in the gut. Hanging just above your head is a picture of the brothers of 1990. They're the same guys you just saw kill that girl.

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Eric J. Krause pens stories from Orange County, California, just minutes away from Disneyland. He has a number of stories published online. When he is not hard at work writing, he substitute teaches in elementary and middle schools. He lives with his wife, Amber, and their dog, Spike. You can visit his blog on writing at http://ejkwritingspot.blogspot.com.

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Love You to Pieces by Jodi Milner

Nancy fretted about which dress to wear all afternoon. The red low-backed number
showcased her slender figure. The white, her dark eyes and hair. There was no time left to change her mind, she put on the red. Any minute Dan was coming to take her on a special Valentine's Day outing. He had given her the red dress last year and adored how it hugged her curves. A knock at the door pulled her away from the mirror, it must be him. Before she could answer, a motherly woman wearing glasses on a beaded chain entered the room. “Who are you?” She drew back from the door, startled. “I'm Ruth, honey. Your day nurse for the last two years.” She answered matter of fact. “Nurse? Is this some kind of joke?” She must have been lost, Nancy had lived in this apartment for years. Although she didn't remember putting in linoleum flooring. Or florescent lighting. Or a wall mounted TV. A strange panic rose threatening to choke her. “Wait … where am I?” “Calm down, you're in a care center. You were in a serious car accident two years ago with your husband and hurt your head. Your short term memory hasn't worked right ever since.” Ruth's tone sounded practiced, as if she had told her this several times before. “Is Dan coming tonight?” “Yes, tonight he actually is. I came to check if you were ready; he should be here soon.” As if on cue there was another tap at the door and a thankfully familiar face peeked in. Dan Peterson was not the most handsome fellow in the city, he was a bit stocky in the midsection and wore tragically unfashionable shoes, but he was hers and that made him beautiful. “Hey Angel, I hope I didn't keep you waiting.” He said, whipping out a bouquet of daisies. “I am so happy to see you, this lady is telling me the craziest things.” Ruth handed him a card key and Nancy's wool coat off the hook on the back of the door. “Be back before ten o' clock or the card won't work.” “Thank you Ruth, I know the drill. I'll be good.” “You better.” She playfully punched at his arm as she walked past.

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Nancy hooked her arm in Dan's and pulled him close to her. “So, where are we going?” “How about watching the sun set over the ocean at Raoul's?” “That sounds fabulous.” She pulled him closer and breathed him in, placing her head on his shoulder. As they walked to the car Nancy noticed that Dan was limping. “What happened to your leg, sweetie?” “Oh, this? Had it since the accident.” “What accident?” She asked, shocked. “What happened?” “The roads were slick. We lost control and smashed into a bridge. Don't worry about it, let's enjoy tonight.” “Where are we going?” “Raoul's,” he said quietly and turned on the radio. In the restaurant Dan led her to their special table overlooking the water. Nancy gazed out, watching the sun dip into the ocean. “Didn't you pitch a big game the other day? I've been meaning to ask how it went.” “Nancy, I don't play baseball anymore, haven't since the accident.” “What accident? It must have been serious to stop you from playing. You'll go back when you recover, right?” “No Nancy, I won't. The accident severed the lower part of my right leg. Now I work in the corporate office.” She recoiled in horror. “What happened?” “The roads were slick and you were on the phone while driving, the car lost control.” “I caused it.” She whispered to herself. “I'm so sorry, Dan. How can you ever forgive me?” She closed her eyes, trying to find the right words to say and fighting back tears. Even as she searched the memory slipped away. Her face was wet, had she been crying? “Wine, dearest?” Dan held up a glass of sparkling white. There was a curious glint to his eyes. “Thank you, I don't know what came over me.” She sipped and nodded, it was one of her favorites. “Say, how was that big game?”

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“It was fine.” He said reaching into his pocket. He pulled out two small white pills. “I promised Ruth I'd give you these at dinner.” “Who's Ruth?” After dinner Nancy felt drowsy and was glad to have Dan to lean on as they walked to the car. She had that giddy tiredness that usually only happened when she drank. Had she been drinking? Blink. Dan helped her into bed and removed her shoes, she was shocked to see that there were no toes on her right foot. She tried to ask him why, but her mouth refused to form the words. Blink. He was pushing a washcloth into her mouth and tying it around her head with his necktie. Whatever kinky thing he wanted to do he'd best be quick, she could barely keep her eyes open. Blink. Her arms were fastened to the bed with soft cuffs and Dan pulled a pair of wire cutters from his jacket pocket. She screamed into the gag as he opened the cutters and put them around her little toe. Blink. The room was dark except for the bathroom light, she heard the sink running. Dan must be leaving early for a meeting. The ball of her left foot ached fiercely, she must have slept on it wrong. Blink. “Until next year. Sweet dreams.” He whispered in her ear as he left. Blink. A motherly woman shook her shoulder hard. She sounded frantic, “Wake up Nancy. it's Ruth. Where are you hurt honey?” Nancy opened her eyes a slit, irritated at being woken, “Ruth who?”

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Jodi Milner was born and currently lives in Utah. She's a writer in the early hours and late at night and a full time mom during the day. Before parenthood she finished a BS in Animal Science and worked as a Veterinary Nurse. She has also studied karate, violin performance, and operatic soprano. When not being attacked by children or writing she enjoys working in her garden and researching new ways to "get fit fast." She is currently working on her first book.

Blog: http://myliteraryquest.wordpress.com

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Ode to Love by BD Hudison

I can tie your heart to a string. I can dangle it in front your face – and wait for your eyes to
focus and follow. They don’t. They can’t. They stay shut. . . like your heart. But I can have it all. . . remember, I have the knife.

BD Hudison writes poetry and very short fiction. He lives Seattle.

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Death Wore Velvet (story AND picture) by Angie Capozello

She had an hourglass figure to die for. I ran my eyes
over the voluptuous curves, the slender waist, all wrapped in black velvet and touched with scarlet. I let my eyes slide upward to her throat, paused at the fangs – and fought down a shudder. What sick biological urge sends the prey in search of the predator? But it is too late, I have looked into those dark eyes, and I am lost. They talk about women like her. No man ever comes back from a visit to the woman we call ‘the Goddess.” She is stronger than us, faster, she will live longer than 20 men put together. Still, we come here anyway, we have heard the rumors. One night, one scorching moment of ecstasy that is worth dying for. She smiles, and waves me inside. Her boudoir is draped in white silk, she is the only spot of color in the room. I cannot help but look at her. Then she kneels down, prepared to serve me. A goddess lies at my feet, wanting to be ruled by a man, and a primal fire burns through my body. There are no pretenses here, no words of love or fumbling foreplay. Our bodies clash violently, limbs tangled and straining until we scream out our release. I want to stay here forever. And then reality sinks in, right alongside the fangs in my neck. Her eight legs wrap around me, her thorax presses close and everything goes dark. We are all just food for the gods, and my goddess is hungry. But still, for one glorious moment she knelt before me, and I was her king.

Angie Capozello is an aspiring writer and poet, with far too many hobbies (gardening,
blacksmithing, archery...) She has been working as a web design and marketing professional for 15 years. You can find her serial Flash Fiction stories, and articles on the business of writing, at http://techtigger.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on twitter at @techtigger. 28

Me too, You by Jim Wisneski

When hearts collide
a lifetime explosion hands shake, eyes blur it’s love. Love for one. for two. To dream in February To dream the frozen earth crack its shell, I will find you.

Jim Wisneski is the mastermind behind Soft Whispers, the 12 Days 2009 anthology (it’s on Amazon!), and countless short stories, flash stories, novellas, and novels. He doesn’t sleep, drinks coffee, and listen to Guns n’ Roses. He’s married with two kids and has a poster of Slash and the Ultimate Warrior next to his bed. Read his stories at www.jimwisneski.wordpress.com.

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The BrokenHeart Tree art by Jim Wisneski

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ALL clipart and artwork (except where noted) has been provided by Jenna Luckenbach.
Jenna Luckenbach is a graphic designed living in Boyertown, PA with family and pets. She loves the man in her life more than anything, his name is Brodie – a four year old Lhasa Apso! She specializes in creating logo’s and company branding – but she LOVES to do anything design related. She is always up for new projects and can be reached at FORTUNATECREATIONS@yahoo.com.

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Thank you for reading Soft Whispers DEADLY LOVE, BE MINE anthology!

This is our first anthology and the response has been terrific! We plan on having MANY more anthologies in the future. Please don’t forget to check our site at www.softwhisp.blogspot.com for updates, open submissions, and our daily posts. A big thanks to all those who have submitted, to Laura Eno for putting the bug in my ear about this anthology and of course the greatest graphic designer in the world, Jenna, for helping out like she always does!

-Jim-

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