The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Category: Fiction (page 1 of 14)

2020 Halloween Contest Winner: “Rot” by Sadie Kraus

The teeth were too big for Maggie. The wax gums slipped along her molars and stabbed her flesh until she couldn’t bear it and took them out. 

“Why’d you go and do that?” Brother Daniel asked. “No one’ll know what you’re s’posed to be.” 

“They hurt.” she said, dropping the little rubber fangs into her pillow case candy sack. Her mouth relaxed. She was glad to get the things out. Other than the pain, the foamy spit that stuck inside the rubber fangs moved in and out with each breath and made her feel like the rabid dog that had been on tv last night. But altogether, Dan was right. Without the fangs, her basilisk costume fell into a well of scaly obscurity. Even with the teeth in, she’d had to explain to both Missus Dodson and dim little Craig Elner from next door that she was absolutely not a dragon to go along with her brother’s knight getup. 

“I guess it doesn’t matter anyhow. We ought to head back soon.” Daniel fidgeted with his wrist watch. It had been a present for his birthday earlier that month and he had not stopped setting alarms and timing mundane activities – eating cereal, practicing times tables, using the bathroom. Maggie hated it, for it was a traitor and blared out the exact second their nightly hour of television was over. Mother sometimes forgot her rule about the tv and, on those occasions, Maggie could catch another episode of Dateline. 

Dan’s watch, on the other hand, never forgot the hour tv rule.  Continue reading

2020 Halloween Finalist: “The Law of Indifference” by Daniel Olivieri

Hardly anyone paid much attention to me until my execution. Or, that isn’t entirely true. I had an incredible amount of attention paid to me when I was a baby. But that attention wasn’t any fun at all. I don’t remember it, but I can be pretty sure. It can’t have been much fun to be the damning piece of evidence in my parent’s trial.

 

A little after I was born, people started wondering how I’d come to be. My parents couldn’t claim that they’d adopted me because they didn’t have any paperwork to prove it. They also couldn’t claim to have given birth to me—they were both men. And so how had they come into possession of such an adorable little baby girl? Had they summoned her out of thin air with a cauldron and some magic stones?

 

Yes. Yes they had. That’s exactly what they’d done.

 

For proof, the accusing lawyer showed the court my belly button, or rather my lack of one. I had no belly button, she argued, because I’d never needed an umbilical cord. Or so I’m told. I didn’t have much patience for legal proceedings when I was eight months old. From what I understand I spent most of the trial trying to fit my foot into my mouth. In any case, the jury found the belly button argument convincing enough that my parents were convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death.

 

It’s not easy growing up knowing that you were the piece of evidence that got your parents executed. Especially when your foster parents remind you of this just about every morning. “Strayala,” they would say, “You should scrub the floor harder. You have much to atone for. Don’t you know that you were the reason your parents were executed?” Even before I was old enough to know what “executed” meant, I didn’t like to hear that. When I finally did find out what the word meant, I liked it even less.

 

That said, I hear that my parents held themselves a marvelous execution. They were known for throwing the most fun parties. Their execution was no exception. They began planning it on the very day they were convicted. They hired an up-and-coming executionist, had a jazz band play, a few minor celebrities even attended. It was a huge success. The ticket sales from the execution were enough to cover my college tuition.

 

When it came time to plan my own execution, I tried to make them proud. Nasha and Oliver helped me plan it. They’re less than half my age, Nasha and Oliver, but we still spend all our weekends together. Sometimes the weekdays too. We do witch things together: binding up spells and practicing cantrips and cackling very loud. Though, the cackling has very little to do with us being witches and very much to do with Oliver being hilarious. He can play the trumpet and the accordion at the same time. He bugs his eyes out when he does it and he gets this crazy expression—but I guess you’d have to see it to understand.

Continue reading

“The Pelican,” a short story by Tom Gartner

Ever since I was small, I’ve always imagined myself somewhere else when I go to sleep.  Someplace outdoors, usually, someplace wild, a rainforest or a mountainside or an island off a rocky coast.  I’ll be traveling, escaping something maybe, and I’ll have found or made some kind of shelter.  Rain or snow or wind will be battering it, but I’ll be warm and protected.  

Of course, I knew when I ran away from home that it wouldn’t be like that, and it wasn’t.  I slept in a tent pitched under a leaning redwood stump in a canyon north of Mendocino, less than twenty-five miles from home.  It was summer, so there was no snow or rain, but every morning and most afternoons there was cold fog that couldn’t be kept out.  My feet felt like blocks of wood.  Banana slugs clung to the outside of the tent.  Spiders found their way into my sleeping bag.  I was living on apple juice, peanut butter, and raisin bread.

I spent too much time thinking.  About my mother’s suicide, about who should or shouldn’t have done or said what, about how it played out in parallel universes.  We’d all seen it coming, my father and my brother and I.  She’d been depressed, delusional, obsessive for years.  But (as I saw it that summer, anyhow) I was the only one who felt guilty about it, who thought there was something more we could have done.  My father seemed fatalistic about it, my brother downright nonchalant.  That was what had driven me out of the house, that one last feeble protest I felt I had to make. Continue reading

“The Strange Hallway, by Mark Tulin

There was nothing more distressing for Lucas than walking the halls of the hospital. He shuffled his slippers in agonizing slowness while pulling an IV cart by his side as if it were an annoying friend that couldn’t take no for an answer.

He dreamt of being with Diane, walking along the Mesa of Santa Barbara that overlooked the beautiful ocean vista. They loved to lean against the wooden fence at the edge of the cliff and watch the speed boats cut across the Pacific, the hang gliders soaring so effortlessly in the sky, and the surfers balancing on their boards while riding the cresting waves.

Lucas labored alone down the hallway of the Pulmonary Care Unit with two defective lungs, a heart that was barely beating, and an IV cart joined at the hip. Continue reading

“Weekly,” by Jonathan Kravetz

Matt pushes open the rear door to the office and creeps across the floor in torn jeans and a flannel shirt.  He wipes his nose on his sleeve and peers through the square hole separating the front office from editorial.  He clenches his teeth against the bitter air, but can’t discern any sounds except the light tapping of a keyboard and the radiator clicking.  Then a woman’s voice and then another buzzes like a radio going in and out of tune.  Leaning closer, he attempts to translate the sounds into language, but can only make out hard k’s and soft s’s.  One of them is Jean, his editor, and the other is Mary Ellen, the 25-year old receptionist.  His girlfriend.  Maybe they’re talking about the weather or the details for an important delivery, but Mary Ellen’s face, when he saw her a moment earlier through the front glass window, had the look of someone sharing important secrets.  A chair scrapes against wood and Matt abruptly steps backwards, careens over Jean’s desk, and crashes into her chair, spilling it on its side.  He rushes to his own desk and turns on his computer.  It’s just coming to life when he feels a tap on his shoulder.

“When’d you get in?”  Jean comes around to the front of his desk.

“A few minutes ago.” Continue reading

“The Days Are Long” by Katie Borders

Has anyone actually died of boredom playing trains with their toddler? Marty pushed Thomas around the track, followed by too many cars. He took a tight turn and the last five cars slipped from the grooves, flopping limply to the side. Being a master engineer, Marty was no stranger to this, and calmly filed the trains back where they belonged. Continue reading

“The Pa-hay-Okee” by J L Higgs

Photo by Brian Michael Barbeito

Photo by Brian Michael Barbeito

The wooden dock’s planks groaned beneath the blazing Florida sun.  Neal adjusted his sunglasses. He watched as a snowy egret took a step with one of its long twig-thin black legs.  It paused, then stretched its swan-like neck and body with the precision of a ballet dancer. Neal tucked a pinch of tobacco between his lower lip and gum.  As he folded his sun-freckled arms, the bird took a few quick steps, then lumbered skyward. Continue reading

Halloween Finalist: “Hallowe’en, 1933” by Tylor James

Gordo, Alabama, USA. 

October 31st, 1933.

Charlie Wannemaker and Eddie Brackett spent the afternoon making the exemplary scarecrow. First they’d dragged the ragged old scarecrow off its stake down on ol’ Henderson’s corn field. They folded its straw-filled limbs up nice and tight and toted him in a red wagon all the way to Charlie’s barn. Henderson’s scarecrow was okay, but it wouldn’t do for the great stunt they had in mind for the night. Not without a touch of restoration.

“If we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it right,” Charlie instructed. Continue reading

2019 Spring Writing Contest Winner: Incensed by Alison Theresa Gibson

My sister was the only person I knew who took photos at funerals. The snap and whir of her SLR was hard to ignore as it echoed up the aisle from the back of the church. There was never a flash, only the windows offered light to the mourners, but that sound – I’ll never forget it.

She started with strangers, the white-haired shadows we saw shuffling to the church across the road from our house on Sundays. When a hearse crawled along the street and into the carpark, the driver’s face a sombre mask behind the window, she would throw on the black graduation gown that slid easily over anything she was wearing, and grab the camera. An hour later she would return, sighing with relief, like a burden had been lifted. Continue reading

“White Rabbit,” a short story by Katie Nickas

It occurred to me at some point during our second date that Mike might not exist in real time.

When we first met, he seemed friendly—cruelty-free, like a human-sized rabbit. We ate at Lenny’s Subs off I-35. On the way, he wheeled his big, white Texas truck backwards through the drive-thru of a shuttered restaurant. It seemed like the perfect accident—a ploy to make me accept his wonky habits.

Waiting in line at the shop, he cracked jokes that made me roll with laughter. I told him I used to work there—that I was once a struggling sandwich artist who was so busy fixing cold cuts and meatball marinara, I hardly had time to sit down and eat them. Continue reading

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