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Flash Fantastic!

No. 12October 2004

By G. Allen Wilbanks

Detective Frank Antic locked the door to the mansion's main library and placed the key in his jacket pocket. He turned to face the three men and two women seated or standing in the room behind him.

Antic let his gaze travel from face to face as he evaluated the next step in his plan. Each of the unhappy suspects in the room with him came from different backgrounds, upbringings, and geographic locations. They each enjoyed different lifestyles, and in one particular case - Senior Sombrio - they spoke different languages. In fact, the only things these disparate figures had in common were great wealth, accumulated under questionable circumstances, and a great dislike of one another.

"Ladies and gentlemen. Shall we get to the point?" Antic stepped toward the middle of the room and gestured to the two men still standing that they should take a seat. "We have a killer in this house and it's time we all found out who he - or she - is."

Antic removed a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a gold lighter from his hip pocket. He tapped one cigarette out of the pack on the back of his left hand and placed it in his mouth. He lit it calmly, taking his time, then replaced the lighter and the now almost empty pack in his pocket. As he exhaled the first thin cloud of blue smoke, he saw that he had everyone's attention.

"When we arrived at this secluded little getaway two days ago, there were ten of us. Over the past forty-eight hours, someone has been picking us off, one by one. I brought us all together tonight to put an end to this sick little game."

Antic began to pace the room. He rolled the cigarette between his thumb and middle finger as he walked the length of the carpeted library, taking occasional drags from the unfiltered fag.

"It's no secret," he continued, "that everyone here has various ties to the underworld. It's also no secret that each of you has, at some point, benefited from the misfortunes of the others. Everyone here has the motive and the capability to be the killer."

"Perhaps there is more than one killer in this house, Detective," suggested a mousy, blonde woman, Anna Spector. She had draped herself across a lounge seat and, from her lower vantage, still managed to tilt her head back far enough to look down her nose at Antic.

"No," he said. "The killer acted alone. I'm positive of that."

Antic stopped once more in the middle of the room. He dropped the still burning cigarette to the floor and crushed it out into the carpet with the toe of his shoe. "It's time to reveal who the killer is." The detective reached under his coat and removed a nickel-plated, Colt semi-automatic pistol. "Because, quite frankly, I'm tired of killing you assholes one at a time."

by Mel Cartagena

“So tell me pops, does it make you bleed to take a single out of your twenties?”

He didn’t answer, just stared at me like a dumb mule. I had to keep my voice down. Too close to an intersection, someone might be awake in the house behind us. His sad grey eyes were on my hand, the one holding the .32. I decked him with the butt. Don’t know why. Maybe I was feeling mean.

The loose skin under his chin shook and jiggled, and he whimpered, crawling into himself. This was fun, but I had to get going; I could hear footsteps somewhere, crushing grit.

I gave him the butt again, this time letting go of his baby gray hair. He went backwards like a soggy board, making funny groaning noises. Then I got in his pockets; the Pierre Cardin foldout had sixty green and two plastic. The old bastard could have saved himself some pain if he’d given me a single, just a cup of coffee.

I thought about stripping him of his jacket. It was fleece, but it was getting late. I had to bogey. Whoever owned the lawn of the house where I left him would find him in the morning and give him some wet rags for his head. Hell of a lot better than what I get when The Man works me over for standing on a street corner too long.

I ran two blocks up the street and then I was on the path, what they call the “greenway” here, nice little lane for joggers. Three miles to the bunk and hungry like a mutha, but it’s cool. I can use the plastic to get some more cash. Old geezer wrote the PIN’s on the back of the cards, like I figured old fogies do. I was going to be okay for a while.

Every now and then I heard steps. The same kind of boots crunching on dirt sound I heard when I was beatin on the old man, and little puffs of breeze over my head, like something whizzing by me real fast. I don’t shoot up anymore, so I know I wasn’t tripping. It’s dark and quiet, but I ain’t scared. The .32 feels good in my pants.

Then something was on me, fast and strong, grabbed me when I passed the tall bush. I wasn’t scared, not right away. I was going to use the smart end of the gun, and then he bit me. No, it was more like a nick. He stuck to my neck like a leech. I twisted and tried to fight him off, but he stayed strong, and I got foggy and weak, and then I got scared. I couldn’t fight anymore. I just blanked out.

I came back and was in the same place, and weak. Weaker even than the time when I had nothing to eat for three days, when I used everything I had on me to get into a house, and scored me the .32 and some food.

He was kneeling next to me, but the light from the pole was in my face and he was just a black hump going through my pockets. He took my .32, and the cash and plastic I’d just boosted off the old guy. He turned from the light a little, and I saw his face. It was all sharp angles and pale, with stubble, but still clean-looking. I tried to say something; all I got out was a mumble. His eyes shifted to my face. They were green.

I tried to move, but I was so tired. When my head shifted I felt something on my neck. It was warm, wet stuff on my neck, and then I knew who he was, but I couldn’t believe it. I put everything I had into getting that cleared up.

“I thought…I thought you guys lived on blood.”

He looked down at me. He was tall, with an ankle-long coat. He grinned at me; his teeth were white and red with my blood.

“Times are tough. Gotta roll with the punches.”

Then he turned, his coat flapping like batwings, and left me there, weak and tired and wondering what the hell he wants with the plastic and cash. I hope he gets a junkie next, someone with pure dust running through his blood. Maybe it’s best this way for me. I’m tired of going hand to mouth.

By Sam Kenyon

Vleeter Dejecson casually entered the Office of Posthumous Career Counseling. The wallpaper was peeling, the ceiling tiles were stained and cracked, and the floors were rotten in the corners; but nobody cared, especially not Vleeter, who worked in the eternally back-logged accounting area of the next-door Customer Service Center.

He filled a dirty cup with yesterday morning’s coffee and let himself into John C. Spiggle’s large, disheveled cubicle.

Spiggle eyed him expectantly. The slovenly man parked himself in the dilapidated arm chair opposite Spiggle’s desk. The overhead light flickered.

Vleeeter slurped some of the cold black fluid, shuddered, then finally began his daily rant: “I need to get out of this stinking cesspool of a workplace.”

“_You_ need to get out of here?” retorted Spiggle. “I’ve been here for, gosh, seems like centuries!”

“Kind of funny how you are a career counselor, yet you don’t like your own--” Vleeter paused, suddenly fascinated by the crusty buildup on his coffee cup.

Spiggle was indignantly silent for a moment; he uselessly shuffled some papers around his desktop. “Well it is certainly better than crunching meaningless numbers, not that you actually ever do your job.”

“Oh come on, John. You’re just as slothful as me. We’re here for good. Or bad. Either way, permanently.”

“I’ll have you know I just sent an application a couple days ago to the big guy, you know, just for the heck of it.”

“Ha! You think you’re ready for the big times? As if they would hire you.”

A spark appeared in front of Spiggle’s face. It grew into a burning knot of fire and imploded, ejecting a slightly-wrinkled envelope onto his desk. He shooed away the smoke with his hand.

“What’s that?” Vleeter grinned nastily. “A ‘we’ll call you’ reply?”

Spiggle ignored him. “Damn it.” The envelope had stamped on it: “Return to sender: Address Unknown.” He chuckled. “Whoops. I wrote the wrong zip code.” He dipped his pen in the ink well and made some scratches on the third digit, changing it from a “7” to a “6.”

“It just ain’t written in the cards,” said Vleeter.

“Will you be quiet?” said Spiggle, pulling one of many ropes hanging next to him, causing a particular bell to ring.

Vleeter kept on, in an incomprehensible mumble: “We will be here when the fat cow comes around the mountain, and then we’ll still be here doing cleanup.”

“_What?_ Don’t you have work to do, you screwy sluggard?”

The mail imp stomped in. Spiggle gave it the envelope, opened one of his drawers, and fished out a bag of silverfish and earwigs for the postage. The imp greedily grabbed its dinner and started off to deliver the letter.

“And don’t let it get all crumpled and stained!” Spiggle added.

“Not like it’ll help.” said Vleeter.

They laughed at their misfortune.

THIS ISSUE OF FLASH FANTASTIC -- "An Impatient Killer" is ©2004 by G. Allen Wilbanks.  "Go For The Throat" is ©2004 by Mel Cartagena.  "Return To Sender" is ©2004 by Sam Kenyon.  All contents of Flash Fantastic edited by Patty G. Henderson.  Final formatting and additional graphics by Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Crazed Fanboy dotcom and Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.

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