Just a Bad Dream

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A six-pack of horror b Peggy McFarland

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A SIX-PACK OF HORROR BY PEGGY MCFARLANDJust a Bad DreamKnock Knock Whos There?Just a Bad DreamDEADLY ASSUMPTIONSThe skinny guy with the bed-head hair and bloodshot eyes was introduced to me as Roach, so I figured he'd accept my invitation to step outside. I watched a vein pulse beneath his pale temple as he inhaled deeply, then smiled and indicated for me to lead the way. In the alley, I smiled my most coquettish smile and asked how much he smoked to earn his nickname. His cool hands clasped my warm cheeks; I felt vulnerable, desired. "They call me Roach because I'll survive no matter what," he said and then grinned. His fangs gleamed in the moonlight. FOLLOWING ORDERSAl drove Spike to the abandoned cabin to shoot him; one less loose end. Following orders, Al dragged the body to the cellar. Blood seeped into the dirt floor, fed the forgotten. Rotting parts slithered, merged. Al fell as the ground shook, fell into the gaping chasm, felt something yank his legs, claw his stomach, rip out his intestines, feed on him. As his world blackened and his body went numb, the quiet part of his brain realized, this had nothing to do with loose ends.A NEW COOKBOOKPreheat oven to 375. Saut chopped onions, carrots and celery. Add balsamic reduction, a splash of Bordeaux , eggs and cracker crumbs and work into the ground meat. Form into a loaf and bake for one hour. What kind of ground meat? Where's my Joy of Cooking? she thought as she slammed shut Having Guests for Dinner by Jeffrey Dahmer. A Six-Pack of HorrorTHE INNER ANIMALFor the second month in a row, hundreds of dead bodies were discovered the morning after the full moon. Witnesses reported deadly attacks by snakes, lizards, leopards, eagles, scorpions and one bizarre nutcase implied a ravenous hula girl murdered his best friend. Rafe shut off the news, knew he was responsible because he accepted that stack of crisp Ben Franklins, opened shop for the biker gang and tattooed each one with their 'animal spirit' instead of escaping to his hide-away. Sure, he arrived at his cabin before dark, but he knew better. On the day of the full moon, even during daylight, his senses magnified and he couldn't concentrate with the allure of hearts beating and the heady smell of their blood. He should have controlled his impulse and stuck to needles, not his sharp, claw-like fingernails to carve those tattoos. YARD WORKShe scraped the dirt from under her nails, scrubbed her hands at her kitchen sink. She stared at her yard, admiring her handiwork. The row of new bushes was just the finishing touch her landscaped yard needed. Glad she had the foresight to start planting a week ago, she retrieved her phone to complete the last task. In a broken voice, she stammered, "He said he'd be ri-right back. He left for cigarettes yesterday."HEED THE WARNINGRay pounded against the splintered walls, his knuckles bloody. He screamed, not sure if it had been minutes or hours, but his voice only croaked out his pleas of, "I'M NOT HERE, PLEASE, NO -- RAY'S NOT HERE -- LET ME OUT!" He sobbed; wishing he'd never stumbled upon the urban legends website, or read the story about a quirky stone marker supposedly located about an hour north of his home. He had laughed at the warning: never recite the children's riddle with your own name or else you could disappear. Not believing it really existed, he made the pilgrimage, found the gravestone with the "Knock Knock Who's There" inscription and with reckless audacity, declared "Ray Michaels." The ground shook before fracturing, sucking him inside a coffin crowded with decomposing corpses.About Peggy McFarlandHER STORIESappear or will appear soon at Absent Willow Review, FlashShot, Everyday Weirdness, Long Story Short, Sonar 4 E-Zine, hoi polloi III, Harbinger*33, WordSlaw, 6SV1 and 6SV2. Follow twitter.com/peggywriter for a daily dose of nanofiction.