Devil’s Alley

A narrow alleyway, generally known as Devil’s Alley, separated the business block and housing development. On one end of the alley an artist had built a fancy arched entrance between the brick side of a store and a high wall around the housing area. It was called the Devil’s Doorway; not because it was particularly ugly, but because of the infamous reputation of the street it guarded. There were bright lights on either end of Devil’s Alley, but the narrow strip of paving stones was dark and dingy. It was a favorite spot of gangs, muggers, and murderers, and as soon as one group was cleared out a new band of rebels would take their place.

Residents of the area knew better than to enter Devil’s Alley, but luckily for the gangs that populated it, there were abundant tourists. A few blocks away from the Alley was a strip of bars, restaurants, and shops that were frequented by out of town guests, and a large parking lot at the other end of Devil’s Alley. Instead of walking an extra two blocks to go around the business sector many an unsuspecting (and often drunk) visitor would take the shortcut through the Alley to reach their car, and straight into the claws of the resident gang.

A gang called the Hangman’s Five was the current resident of Devil’s Alley. Leaning back against the stone wall of Devil’s Alley, Ricki, ringleader of the group, blew out a sigh. It was a warm night with a waxing moon overhead; the perfect night for a catch. The Hangman’s Five hadn’t been out for a while, keeping a low profile because of the police cruiser that had been parked near one end of the Alley for the last two weeks. Four nights ago the cop had finally given up, and Ricki had decided it was safe to haunt the Alley tonight.

(more…)

Bubblegum and Mud

My porch lights were off. A sure sign that I wasn’t handing out candy. That I wasn’t participating in the candy shop propaganda sponsored by parents who were too cheap to buy treats for their own kids. Though with the prices of costumes these days, they could have skipped the costume and bought the candy themselves.

But apparently, the car in my drive partnered with the dining room light shining through the blinds was enough of a sign to signify that someone was home. The upbeat trill of the doorbell sat at jarring odds with my mood. “I don’t have candy,” I yelled. The doorbell sounded again and my teacup clattered as I slammed it down onto the saucer. It was more whiskey than tea.

By the time I made it to the door, they’d rung the bell twice more. I flipped the deadbolt as it sounded off yet again. “What do you want?” The words began as a snarl and faltered, dying on my lips. “You.”

He didn’t say anything, simply stared at me from beneath his hood. His bony fingers wrapped around a scythe. (more…)

Me, Myself, & I

Knock knock. Knock.

I opened the door.

“’Hey.” The man at the door was barely an adult. He wore baggy jeans and a t-shirt, a pair of glasses sitting on a pimply face under a shaggy mess of hair. He slouched confidently, if such a thing was possible, thumbs hooked in his belt, looking at me expectantly like he expected to be invited in.

I didn’t respond to him. Something wasn’t right. He wasn’t right. Everything about him bothered me. His slouch. His clothes. His glasses. His hair. He chewed on his lip as he waited for me to say anything.

“Aw shit,” I said.

 A familiar smirk crossed his face. “Yep,” he said. “You gonna let me in?” I stood aside and he walked past me. There wasn’t really any other choice. He looked around, feigning disinterest but paying attention to everything about my small apartment. I knew what he was seeing. The dripping faucet, scuffed walls, dusty shelves, and dirty carpet. I closed the front door and followed him.  “This is where you live?” he asked.

“Yep.”

“It’s kind of a shithole.”

I wouldn’t let most people get away with saying something like that, but I didn’t have a lot of options here. He looked out the window, and his face on the glass reflected next to mine. A slightly different haircut. A few less pimples. Other than that…. “How old are you?” I asked. (more…)

August Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Welcome back to the Cafe. We have another month full of fresh, new, free fiction for your enjoyment. This month’s prompt: the worst person to come through someone’s door.

Please join us every Wednesday this month for a new story. Here’s the August lineup:

Wednesday, August 2: “Me, Myself, & I” by August Baker
Wednesday, August 9: “Bubblegum and Mud” by Eliza Jaquays
Wednesday, August 16: “Devil’s Alley” by Isabel Nee
Wednesday, August 23: “The Next Step” by Jack Campbell, Jr.
Wednesday, August 29: “Nephilim” by James Young

 

The Tower Princess

Prompt: I survived the war between the kingdoms by hiding in a tower.

 

I was the last to arrive at my own palace when they returned my father’s body from the kingdom to the north, wrapped in a white shroud.

Peace. It was a word that held no meaning for me anymore. It was all that the kingdom could talk about, but it didn’t live inside of me anymore.

They fussed over me on my way down to the throne room. I’d chosen a dress of the darkest emerald, almost black but with the barest hint of life beneath. It was an unlucky color for a wedding. It was the wrong color for mourning. It was the right color for me, today.

My father’s throne room. My mother’s throne room when he went to the border forts to fight. By rights, it should be my throne room but the crown prince from the north sat on the throne as I entered. My betrothed. I would be permitted to take the chair beside him once our two kingdoms were bound in holy matrimony, where I would be decorative rather than effective. A pact made long before the war started. A white silk cord wrapped around my wrist heavy with charms the prince had sent before the war. Childhood things. Old things worn smooth by my fingers over the years.

As the queen, I had the right to revoke that betrothal. (more…)