Fear Today, Gone Tomorrow – Matt Roberts

MattFor the first time in her life, Caitlin was spending time away from home. To spend less time traveling to school, she got herself an apartment near the university on the third floor in an old converted Victorian house.

Scott, one of the three guys living on the first floor, told her the landlord was typically “slow to get things done” and that he had been renovating the unoccupied, second floor, for well over a year.

Caitlin didn’t mind. The parts of the house she had seen were very nice and well kept. Her apartment was huge and at times felt like a little too much space for just her.

One night after a hectic week, Caitlin decided she was going to do a little relaxing, which wasn’t something she normally did. She wasn’t into parties or even really socializing. Focused on her grades, she always spent her time studying. The stack of school books on her dining room table, beside stacks of term papers and homework were proof of that.

She picked out a movie and went to the kitchen for a glass of wine. As she was putting the bottle back in the fridge, she heard a clatter behind her. Caitlin spun around and discovered the corkscrew, which she had placed on the counter, was now in the middle of the floor. She picked it up and put it back on the counter.

Ten minutes into the movie a sound from the kitchen caught her attention. She paused the movie and went into the kitchen to discover the corkscrew on the floor again. This time she put it in the drawer.

She sighed heavily and trotted back to the couch. She flopped down and pressed play on the remote. She flung her arm over the back of the couch, remote still in hand, and took a long drink from the wine.

Robert De Niro was begging Bradley Cooper to sit down and watch the game with him when Caitlin felt something grab her hand behind the couch. The shock made her drop the remote and she screamed, nearly spilling her wine as she leapt up.

Her heart pounded away in her chest, and she searched the large open room with her wide, staring eyes. The couch was placed in the middle of the room, sectioning half of it into a living room, while behind it was the dining room. Despite the entire room being well lit, she saw nothing. Whatever it was had to still be behind the couch.

Caitlin crept around it cautiously, and she leaned forward to get a view behind it. Nothing was there. Confused and terrified, she sped into the dining room and looked at the back of the couch again. Nothing was there, not even the remote. She glanced quickly down the hall toward the rest of the apartment and still saw nothing.

She flew down the stairs and nearly out the front door before being stopped by Mike, another of the guys living on the first floor.

“Woah, hey! What’s the hurry?” Getting a good look at the terror on her face and paleness of her skin he added, “Jesus, you look like you saw a ghost.”

Trembling, she responded, “Is that what it was?”

Mike took the wine glass from her hand, which she didn’t realize she was still clinging onto, and lead her to the couch in his living room where Scott and Kevin were both sitting and watching her. Scott jumped up and let her have his place.

She told them what happened and after a bit of laughing at how she probably had too much to drink, they calmed her down and recommended she stay with them until she felt able to go back upstairs, if she wanted to at all.

After watching a comedy about a guy living with his Grandma, Caitlin felt better and was ready to go back to her place. The three guys escorted her. When she opened her door she saw her apartment was a mess.

Her school books and papers were off of the table and all over the floor. The drawers in the kitchen were open, their contents all over the floor there. The fridge was standing open, the wine bottle sat alone inside it, everything else now lay on the floor with the silverware.

The screen on her TV was blue, and she noticed the movie was sitting in the DVD tray, ejected. She found her remote sitting on the couch.

Finding the rest of the apartment untouched, the guys helped her clean up the mess and went home.

A few uneventful nights later, Caitlin laid in bed and thought about an upcoming test. She had studied and felt ready for it, but she was still unsure. She sighed, opened her eyes, and noticed something out of the ordinary.

Coming in from under her closed bedroom door was a light. She sat up and wondered to herself if she had forgotten to turn off all of the lights before bed. That was impossible. She had a routine. She always turned lights off, it was how she was brought up.

Caitlin slid out of bed and opened her door slowly, peering out through the crack to see if anybody was in her apartment. Seeing nobody, she opened the door further and stepped out into the hall. The main light, the one over the living/dining room was on. She switched on the hall light with the switch next to her bedroom door, and made her way out to turn off the main light. She flipped the switch next to the front door and the entire apartment went dark.

Caitlin spun around and saw the hall light was off. “Dammit!” she yelled, trying to tell herself the bulb blew out, or the electric went out for whatever logical reason, but a look to the entertainment stand showed her the DVD player was still on. The time, 12:14 AM, was glowing brightly on its display. “Damn bulb!” she insisted.

She made her way back to her bedroom when she noticed the switch next to her door was off. She flipped it and the light came on. The hair on the back of her neck stood, and she felt the presence of something behind her. Caitlin turned and discovered the main room light was on again. “Stop messing with me!” she screamed, and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. She dove into bed and covered herself completely with the blankets.

She got very little sleep that night, and what sleep she did get was harassed by terrible dreams. The next morning she awoke and reluctantly left her bedroom. The lights were both off, but again her apartment was in shambles. Everything was all over the floor, and her couch was turned onto its back. Tears fell from her eyes as she went to find her phone.

Caitlin called her mom and asked if she could move back home. She wouldn’t say why, only that she would later. Her mom quickly agreed and said she would send her dad to get her immediately. Caitlin hung up the phone and went to the spare room to get empty boxes, which she placed on her bed in her bedroom.

She heard a scratch, and she froze, listening. The scratching grew louder as Caitlin slowly turned, to discover it was coming from inside her closet.

“Okay, I just need to get some clothes. Please.” A tear formed in her eye as fear gripped her body.

She placed a shaking hand on the doorknob. The scratching stopped. She slowly opened the door and looked in, seeing nothing. Suddenly a group of gnarled hands shot out, grabbed her, and pulled her into the closet. The door slammed shut behind her.


Matt Roberts writes creepy stuff year round. For more of his short stories, check out his site at officialmattroberts.com! You can also follow him on Twitter @MattRoberts29 or on Facebook – facebook.com/officialmattroberts

Get his zombie novel here –


Alone At The Lake – Becky Brewster

BeckyHe creaked as he softly guided his legs out of his truck, he stood… surveying the lake in front of him. Then he shut the door… it creaked as well, slowly folding into the truck until it latched.

He moved slowly to the small trailer attached to his truck and began un-fastening the ropes and lowering it to the ground. A small two person canoe was its cargo — blue, not old like I suspected but with a distinct newness to it. A new hobby I thought.

He stood back to look at the canoe and scanned the lake once again. He opened a backpack and started removing some carefully placed items — first out were two rubber ducks, one with a straw hat, one with a bonnet. He affixed them to the front of the canoe and gave them a long stare. Next out were a pair of water proof trousers, he leaned against his truck to put them on — one leg, so carefully creaking, at a time. He rested.

He reached deeper into his pack and pulled out a life-vest — he put it on, meticulously, checking all the straps, tugging at it to ensure a proper fit. He rested again. He stood silently beside the canoe still on the trailer and gazed at the lake as if to see if it was ready for him.

Once again he reached in to the pack and pulled out the last item — a book. He tucked the book inside the vest, bent down to grab the rope hanging from the trailer, and began the walk down the ramp towards the awaiting lake. At the edge of the water, he pushed the canoe off the trailer and settled it halfway in the lake — he was almost ready.

He walked from one side of the canoe to the other — deciding his best point of entry. He chose the right side and lifted, first his left leg then his right leg, hanging on to the sides of the canoe as he did — I heard a creak. He settled into position and let out a breath. He rested.

He grabbed the oar from the bottom of the canoe and paused only momentarily to look out over the tip of the canoe — he used the oar to push himself and the canoe away from shore — once… twice… three times and he was free from the sandy slope that led to the open water. He rested the oar across his lap as he gently floated away from shore. I heard his breath exhale again.

He floated farther and farther from shore without using the oar — the calm lake waves were carrying him out to the peaceful center of the open water. He reached deep into his vest and pulled out the book — he gazed at the ducks still affixed to the front of the two person canoe that only held him and he began to read, and he was gone.


No wake left in his absence.

No ripples where his canoe should still be.

He was gone.

I blinked, not knowing if he had ever been there.

But the ducks, the plastic ducks that had, only seconds earlier, been strapped to his canoe, were now floating where he once was… where he was supposed to be.

… and I watched them from the shore, floating away from me with his story.


I’m a single mother to three children and two dogs.
I’ve been working in public education for… well, way too long to count. I specialize in working with children with autism, that is my passion. I am one of those lucky few who love and are passionate about their jobs. And then, there’s writing… when I grow up, I want to be a writer.
I share my poems, prose, and stories on my blog, First Pages. Come visit!
Happy Halloween, y’all.

Saving Leila – Shannon Giglio

Shannon“Mom, there’s a man coming up our driveway,” Daniel said, peeking through the slit in the living room curtains. He held an old Daisy air rifle in his hands, and he had learned how to use it. When he’d been in school, before it had shut down, he hadn’t been much of a tough guy. In fact, there had been one boy—Zane—who had ragged on him mercilessly every day since the beginning of second grade. But, the sickness came and his upscale neighborhood was overrun with those seeking food and supplies kept in the garage refrigerators and basement storage rooms of the big houses.

“Does he look familiar?” Daniel’s mother asked in a raspy voice. She’d been looking a little gray lately, and Daniel and his little sister, Leila, worried about her. They worried about who would take care of them when she no longer could.

“Is she going to die?” Leila would ask her brother, as they sat in the dark dining room, eating sugar on crackers by candlelight as their mother’s muffled retching seeped from beneath the powder room door. Daniel didn’t want to think about that.

“No. I’ve never seen him before,” Daniel said, watching the man approach. “He’s got a bag with him. An old plastic Target bag.”

Daniel’s mother crossed the room and took Leila in her arms. Leila, her baby, her innocent one. Since Daniel’s father had disappeared, having gone out in search of gasoline for their generator, three weeks ago, Daniel had taken over as the man of the house. It was his duty to protect his dying mother and his baby sister. Serious work for a boy of eleven, but he did his best.

A knock on the door made them all jump. Daniel looked at his mother through the gloom. Her shoulder-length brown hair was a tangled mess and mascara trailed from the corners of her eyes in charcoal streaks, making her look like some kind of deranged mime. She put a hand over her mouth, stifling a cough.

“Who is it?” Daniel shouted through the heavy oak front door. Leila hissed at him. “I have to see what he wants,” he told her. “What if he has news?” Leila hugged her mom tight.

“Trick or treat,” came the stranger’s answer.

Daniel watched his mom break from Leila’s embrace and cross to the door. She looked at Daniel, putting her index finger to her lips.

“We haven’t got anything,” she shouted through the door, grabbing a fireplace tool from its rack.

“Oh, no, please,” the man said. “I’ve got something for you.”

Their supplies dwindling, they were desperate for news from the city. Television was no longer broadcast, the Internet was down, there was no electricity. The neighbors had left a week ago.

Daniel’s mother motioned for Daniel to step away from the door. He did, but he raised his air rifle, covering his mom as she opened it a crack.

The man’s large green eye filled the gap.

“Hello,” he said to Daniel’s mom. “I know you’ve got young ones in there. I live down the road, you see, and I’m so sorry for them to have to miss out on the seasonal festivities. I’ve brought them some candy.” He shook the Target bag, making it rustle.

“That’s very nice of you, but unnecessary.” Daniel’s mother kept her foot wedged tightly against the bottom of the door in case the man tried to push it open. Though he said he lived down the street, he did not look familiar. “Do you have any news? From the city?”

“News?” he said. “No, I’m sorry, no news. But if you’ll just take these treats for the little ones…” His lingering “s” sounds were like those issued by a snake.

“No, that’s okay,” Daniel’s mother said.

There was a long pause as the two sized each other up.

“Well, you know,” the man said, “it is trick or treat.” His great green eye fell on Daniel and his gun hovering in the middle of the living room. “If you don’t accept the treat, there may well be a trick.”

Daniel’s mother slammed the door.

They heard the man laughing on the front porch. After examining the house, walking around it, inspecting windows and doors, he made his way back down the driveway. “I will be back,” he shouted with a smile.


It was full dark, and Daniel’s mother had fallen asleep on the sofa. Leila, clutching the handle of a ceramic chef’s knife, slipped out the front door on her brother’s heels.

“Are you ready? He’s kind of a big one,” Daniel said, pumping his rifle.

Leila nodded and wiped her nose on the back of her hand. Daniel thought maybe she was getting sick, too. He needed to find her some nourishment.

The pair crept up the cracked concrete driveway and settled behind the boxwoods beneath a large bay window, squeezing in between a big boy with a hatchet (“Zane,” Daniel said, giving the boy a nod) and a girl armed with a grilling fork.

“Look,” Leila whispered, pointing at the driveway, stifling a giggle.

The man appeared at the end of the driveway and slowly approached his house. The moonlight glinted off of the top of his bald head and made his eyes sparkle.

Then, the children descended upon him.

They each took home a few pounds of meat, and Leila never got sick.

“Trick or treat,” they said, popping Skittles into their mouths as they walked home, laughing in the dark.


Shannon Giglio is a writer of dark fiction and a former acquisitions editor for Evil Jester Press. She lives on the Georgia coast with her husband, author Peter Giglio. She has worked for CBS, Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, dick clark productions, inc., and a couple of accounting firms. Her books, REVIVAL HOUSE and IDOLS & CONS, both written under the name S. S. Michaels, can be found on Amazon.com. Her third title, SHORT BUS HERO, will be available December 16, 2014 (Nightscape Press).

The Undead Have No Dignity – Jessica Nettles

JessicaLily stood at the weathered wooden door, smoothing her black dress, and adjusting her hat and veil. She closed her eyes, took a breath, and knocked. The door opened.

“Ah, Mrs. Smith, come in, please,” said The Coroner. He was wearing an immaculate suit, as was the custom.

She moved slowly. Her arthritis was acting up today. The Coroner took her arm and led her to an office. She sat down in a floral wing chair while he moved behind his shiny black desk.

“Would you care some coffee or tea?” he asked quietly after he was seated.

“Tea? Oh that would be lovely,” she answered.

The Coroner rang a tiny silver bell. A girl in a clean apron and a black dress brought in a tray with a delicate teapot and matching blue cup. She smelled of gardenia and walked with a small shuffle. Mrs. Smith looked at her face. Was she familiar? She might possibly know the girl, but perhaps not.

The lid of the teapot tinkled as The Coroner took the tray from the girl and nodded for her to leave. A soft hiss exited her lips and she stood, hands still extended. The Coroner frowned, and then snapped his fingers right at her nose. The hiss stopped short and the girl turned to leave, but almost ran into the doorframe before exiting.

“Rose is still…in training,” he said, setting the tray on a small table next to Lily’s seat. “Shall I pour?”

“Oh, yes. Please,” Lily replied, charmed that she could hear music in the background.

He poured the tea. First her cup. Then his. Once he sat the teapot on the desk, he sat down, folding his hands in front of him and ignoring the tea altogether.

“Mr. Smith…he’s passed,” she said as she dabbed her eyes with a lace handkerchief she pulled from her purse.

“Has he gone off yet?”

Lily looked at him for a moment.


The Coroner frowned. “We can’t take him if—“

She hung her head and said in a whisper, “if he hasn’t gone off…I know.”

“Mrs. Smith, you do you understand how our system works?”

She nodded, and said, “I just thought—this one time…”

He moved from behind the large, shiny desk and pulled a chair up next to her. Then he took her hand in his.

“We can’t make exceptions. There are considerations…for The Community,” he said.

She turned away from him and pulled her hand from his chilly grasp.

“Please…we’re old…” she whispered.

The Coroner did not respond.

“Can I keep him?” she asked.

“He is needed,” he said.

She wept into her handkerchief as her tea cooled.

“I just want him to have some dignity,” she whispered.

“And he will be treated with the utmost in dignity. He’ll be of service. Wouldn’t that be what…”

“Edwin,” said Mrs. Smith said.

“Edwin, wanted?”

Lily nodded.

“But he can’t be of service until he’s gone off, so you need to go home and relax,” said The Coroner. He glanced at the tablet on his desk. “I can see that Edwin is locked down. Very good work, Mrs. Smith. Now, you must go home. You wouldn’t want to miss the grand event.”

Lily looked at him, and frowned. Then asked, “Edwin will be better?”

“I promise.”

Lily almost said thank you, but that did not seem appropriate, and so she exited silently.

She arrived to a quiet house. Thankfully she’d had time to scrub the kitchen and bathroom with Pine Sol before she visited The Coroner. As she entered through the back patio, she touched a page posted at the kitchen door and thanked the Great Whosit (her name for God) that she’d done her best to follow the law posted there concerning the dead and gone off. She also gave thanks that Edwin had not tried to take a hunk out of her arm as she ritually bathed his body before she put him in Lock-Down.

She hated doing it. She wanted to remember all of Edwin’s kindness, but instead she would forever remember how cold his hands were as she pulled his body past the heavy steel door.

In earlier times, families would bring food, tell stories, and celebrate the loved one. Now, that wasn’t exactly practical. Death was no longer a sentimental moment. In spite of the struggle to maintain lifestyle, there were those who went off. The Council put up the fence and that helped people stay calm.

She poured a glass of tea, and then sat on the porch. In the gloaming, she saw a figure walking toward the house. It was Mary.

“I brought y’all a pie,” she called to Lily.

“Mary, he’s passed,” Lily said.

Mary paused halfway up the walk. “Oh my Lord, Lily! Did he cross over?”

“Not yet,” Lily said.

Mary stood momentarily, pie in hand. She set the pie down on the porch rail, and then sat next to Lily on the swing. There was nothing to be said, and so they sat side by side for a long time. A white truck marked with a large blue C rolled by. The back of the truck was filled with hoes and baskets of ripe tomatoes. Fred Whitmore, one of the Community farmers, waved from the driver’s seat. There was groaning coming from the trailer it pulled behind it. Both women waved at Fred, as was expected.

“Edwin’s going to a better place, Lil’,” Mary said.

“I want to believe that,” Lily said, trying not to cry.

“It’s better than turning him loose,” Mary said.

Lily patted Mary’s hand, “You mean turning him out.”
“They could have just shot him,” said Mary.

“Yes. They could have done just that,” said Lily.

When The Coroner offered to recycle the gone over instead of shooting them, The Council immediately approved The Law. The Law was interpreted as more dignified. Lily had been part of The Council then.
Now she questioned decision they’d made.

The green light next to the kitchen door began to flash. Lily looked over at Mary.

“Well, I guess it’s time.”
“Well, I guess it is.”

After just a few minutes, a white panel van bearing the familiar blue C arrived. Two men got out. One had a noose stick, and the other wore a shoulder holster.

Both said, “Evenin’, Mrs. Smith.”

“Mighty fine evening, Phillip,” she said.

“Mighty fine, Mrs. Smith,” the brawny man replied.

“You okay, Mrs. Smith?” asked his partner, who was younger and blond.

She nodded. Mary put her arm around Lily’s shoulders. The men entered the house. Lily could hear one of them unlock the metal door. All Pallbearers had master keys for Lock Downs. She heard loud snarling and she heard someone say, “Woah there!” Then there was a scuffle. Soon the young man led the gone over Edwin out onto the porch. Gone-Over-Edwin turned his head and snarled at Lily, reaching toward her. His face was gray.

“Oh God…”

Mary snatched her away quickly.

The second man came out of the house, and quickly put a snub-nosed shooter at Edwin’s back. There was a thwip followed by a groan.

“Dammit, Darrell! You weren’t supposed to bring him out here without the hood!” he yelled.

“Sorry, Phillip,” said Darrell.

Lily couldn’t stop staring. That…thing…wasn’t…couldn’t be…no…not Edwin…not…

“Mrs. Smith…” said Phillip.

“I’m…I’m fine. What—” said Lily.

“He’s going to a better place, Lil’,” said Mary.

“There is no better place than the farm,” said Phillip.

Edwin had become placid, his snarl replaced with a blank stare that went right through Lily.

Philip looked at Lily, tipped his hat, and stepped off the porch. Young Darrell led the slow-moving Edwin to the van, where he was loaded in the back. Phillip drove the van into the gloaming as Lily stood and watched silently. Mary stood with her.

“Mary, I think I’d like some pie about now,” said Lily.


Jessica Nettles is a native Georgian who grew up in Powder Springs and was raised by blue collar, Southern Baptist parents in a 1960s ranch home. She blames this raising for her continued fascination with all things supernatural and post-apocalyptic.

By day, she teaches English at Chattahoochee Technical College, and by night she writes, reads, plays tabletop and role playing games, and knits. Currently, she resides in Kennesaw, Georgia with her two black cats. Her children are grown and having their own adventures, and she is in the process of starting the next chapter of her life, whatever that may be.