These flash pieces by Mureall Hébert are finalists of the Furious Gazelle’s Halloween contest. The contest’s winner will be announced Friday. View the rest of the finalists here.

The Side of the Road

I drove by without stopping as you stumbled down the side of the road because the rust-colored stains on your yellow dress alarmed me, and the way your head cracked at an angle didn’t compute, and the tormented scream on your face chilled my spine. I ignored the cries that wrenched at my car, pretending I didn’t hear you plead for help, or salvation, or revenge. I nudged the gas pedal harder when I glanced into the rear-view mirror and discovered you’d vanished, like you’d never existed. I raced faster when the temperature in the car plunged and the door locks clicked into place. And I refused to look at the passenger seat because I didn’t want to see you there or admit to the rawboned hand along my arm and the musty breath on my neck.

Why I Had To Bite You

I didn’t rip the head from the corpse,

tuck it into a bowling bag, and drop

it in your swimming pool. That was Igor.

He escaped his bell tower, got into the cider,

and was up to no good. Nor did I hang

the body-less hand from your car door

and hide in the woods to watch you scream.

That wasn’t me. My alibi swears I’m clean.

Most likely Poe or Norman Bates. I hear

they’re into that kind of thing. The face

in the mirror? The one dripping blood

from her eye-sockets? Not yours truly.

Don’t blame Bloody Mary either.

She’s in Tijuana, last I heard.

I suspect the gremlin in the basement

or maybe Tonto—I spotted a black dress in his closet.

Yes, I’ll admit, those puncture wounds on your neck

are my fault. Dracula’s converted to pacifism

and what’s Halloween without vampires?

Don’t thank me, really. The wounds will heal

and you were a night person anyway.

Call it my civic duty—

although I have to admit you tasted pretty good

even though I prefer iced tea.

Mureall’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Suddenly Lost in Words, Lunch Ticket, Crack the Spine, Stone Crowns MagazineBartleby Snopes>kill author, Short, Fast & DeadlyBacopa Literary Review, The Citron ReviewStereoOpticon, and WhidbeyAIR. Mureall is an MFA graduate from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts and a former editor of Soundings Review.