Monday, February 17, 2014


I'm so excited you're back for another week of fun and exciting writing! I can't wait to read what you all dream up for this prompt. I love how each of us take the same sentence in SO MANY different directions! Let me see those brains work! WooHoo! Go write!

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Karl A Russell also known as @Karl_A_Russell. Read his winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #33 is:

I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a countdown and/or a ticking clock.



  1. Escape From The Purge

    I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. I checked the security desk. the guard lay dead behind it. "Thirty minutes to level three purge." The computer coldly announced. lights flashed and alarms blared. I thought frantically. The main doors were locked down. The nearest emergency exit was one floor up at the other end of the building. I'd never make it in hugh heels. I kicked them off and raced down the hall, my lab coat flapping.

    "Twenty-five minute to level three purge." I cursed silently.My stocking clad feet were slipping on the polished hallway. I needed better traction! "Doctor Franks" the nameplate on a nearby door read. A fitness freak about my size, he might have some shoes I could wear. i debated for a moment. I wasn't even a third of the way to my goal, a few minutes delay would be worth it. I tried the handle. Unlocked, thank God for his carelessness. I darted inside. I opened the closet. The emergency lighting left the interior dim. i bent over, pawing desperately through the contents. Yes! I found a pair of sneakers. i exhaled in relief. I sat on the couch and crammed my feet into them.

    "Twenty minutes to level three purge." I finished lacing them and stood up. good enough I decided. I resumed my flight.

    "Fifteen minutes to level three purge." I stopped as I neared the stairwell and cautiously peeked around the corner. A pair of armed terrorists guarded it. My heart sank, now what?

    It came to me in a flash. The old dumb-waiter in nLab Seven-A washidden behind the new cabinetry, They might not know about it. it was the only chance I had. I back tracked and turned right.

    "Ten minutes to level three purge." There. I sidled forward and looked through the small window. No one visible. I crouched down, turned the doorknob, and gently nudged it open. Nothing. I crept into the room. Empty! i edged under the cabinet. There it was! I grabbed the handle and lifted.It resisted me. Please don't be stuck! I wrenched harder. Screeching protest, it reluctantly moved. I curled myself into the small space. I punched the down button and pulled the outer door shut. gears groaned in protest, but moved.

    "Five minutes to level three purge." I snuck into the laundry bay. the large truck sat in the shadows. I looked around carefully, but couldn't see anyone. I snatched the keys from their peg. I jumped into the truck and started it. I jammed it into gear and drove.

    "One minute to level three purge." A terrorists leapt in front of me. I stomped on the gas, gritted my teeth, and ran him down. I crashed through the security gates. A bare quarter of a mile down the driveway the lab erupted in a gout of fiery flames. The powerful explosion jolted me. Safe! I relaxed.

    Special challenge accepted
    491 Words

  2. The Newlyweds

    I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. Or had I misplaced them? After scouring my purse I looked under the weeks worth of mail.

    “Looking for these?”

    The smile was plastered on before I turned around. He wore nothing but black silk pajama bottoms; part of a matching set we received a month prior. His left hand was palm up, my keyring dangling from his pointer finger.

    “Thomas, you tease, give those back.” I sat the mail down and headed toward him. He raised his arm until the keys were a good five inches above my head hanging there like a piece of mistletoe. “I’m going to be late for work.”

    “You were gonna leave without saying goodbye.”

    “If you saw yourself sleeping you’d know why I didn’t wake you.”

    His right hand laced around my waist, pulling me closer.

    “It’s our first day apart,” he said.

    “And you think you’d be sick of me by now.”

    His voice was thick as he whispered. “After that Honeymoon the only thing I want is more of you.”

    His eyes were glazed over and I knew now was my moment. I gave him a kiss that lingered longer than necessary. He lowered his arm down to wrap around me but before he got too far I tugged the keys free from his grasp. I was going to be late.

    “I’ll see you soon.” One more quick kiss and he reluctantly let go.

    “Have a great day Mrs. Gentry.”

    I blew him a kiss at the door before leaving. My smile stayed frozen until the house was out of sight. Who knew smiling could hurt so much. I rummaged through my purse until I came out with my phone. I dialed my boss.

    “I’m running a few minutes late. Thomas held me hostage.”

    “Most husbands aren’t too eager to let their new brides go,” he said. “Change of plans anyway. The deadline moved. It needs to be done today.”

    After finding a parking lot to pull into I parked the car.

    “A month ahead of schedule?”

    “It happens. You shouldn’t sound so surprised,” he said. “Remove the target immediately.”

    “Yes sir.” I leaned forward and opened the glove box. A hidden compartment held my gun and silencer.

    “Report back when you’ve finished. I have a new assignment for you already.”

    “Let’s hope this one doesn’t involve a marriage,” I said as I assembled my weapon.

    “You needed the vacation. Something to loosen you up.”

    He was still laughing when I ended the call. I tucked the gun away and headed back to the house. Once inside I dropped the keys into the key dish, a wedding gift from his only living grandmother, and extracted the gun from my purse.

    Noise came from our bedroom, the TV was on. I slipped off my heels and padded through the house, gun at my side.

    “Honey,” I called. “I’m home.”

    488 words
    Special Challenge: Not Accepted

  3. Fate (452 words)

    I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. I could hear my own breathing, fast and noisy, it echoed around the small room, sounding like two big bruisers not one small old woman. I needed to be calm, think logically. Had I moved the keys and if I had where would I have put them? I felt in the pockets of my overall, just a used tissue and my pass key. I loved that bit of plastic, flashed it in front of a device on the wall and it opened doors, like magic. Why this door still needed old fashioned keys was anyone’s guess?

    Should I scream, attract someone’s attention. God what would happen if Marnie heard me? She was always implying in a subtle way that I was past it. Okay I was techno phobic when it came to computers although I ordered my groceries every Thursday online ready for delivery on Saturday. Len, the delivery man flashed into my mind. He was remarkably agile for an old bloke, ran up the front steps, put the bags in my kitchen and out the door in an Olympic time. Maybe next week I’ll offer him a cup of coffee and find out if he’s single, widowed or out of reach.

    I felt calmer; it helped by counting down from ten….. three, two, one. Hell what was I supposed to do now? Don’t panic had always been my motto, but my anxiety levels were going off the scale. I had to get through that door.

    They found me the next day, huddled up in the corner, fast asleep. I’d got paint under my finger nails where I’d tried to wretch the hinges off the door. I was a bit disorientated not having any fluids for over eighteen hours. Good job really, else I might have embarrassed myself.

    I spent a few days in hospital; the manager said I had to be checked out think she was worried I’d sue, fat chance of that, when everything worked out so well. Marnie lost her job as team leader, she should have checked on me before leaving at the end of the shift announced the manager. Len, clutching a huge bouquet of wild flowers, arrived the next Saturday with my groceries in his delivery van. He’d seen me on the local news, my fifteen minutes of fame, and was so impressed I’d kept a calm head. We’re courting now.

    Strange thing though, when I got home from hospital and was washing my work overall I found a set of keys in one of the pockets, buried them out in the garden under the rose bush. Don’t want anyone to think I’m past it.

    challenge accepted

  4. I ran for the door but someone had taken the keys. I had heard a noise but no-one was at the door. Outside no one was in sight. My keys were kept on a hook board but the board was empty. Why anyone would take my keys? I rarely locked the front door anyway. My car had a flat battery, so not much point trying to steal it. I called up the stairs in case someone had entered while I’d been in the kitchen; an ominous silence was all I got in return. My house is quite small so unless someone was hiding there was no-one else downstairs. I examined the floor by the hook boards and just inside the front room found a set of keys. A little further in on the settee were the second set.
    I searched all the rooms upstairs, hoping my grand-daughters had been dropped off, while their mother went shopping. Little Poppy could not reach the board but Charlotte could take them down, not that it was likely. Upstairs was as I left it before getting on with my day. I returned downstairs and replaced the two sets of keys on the hook board, only my car keys were still missing. I wondered about who had taken them. They could not move themselves. It was warm and the windows were open allowing fresh air to blast through to air the house. I sat and drank some squash, the radio playing as I turned back to my editing with my thoughts on the words of the pop song being belted out.
    I wrote a comment arguing with my editor over hyphenating words in my book. An argument I had had with previous editors and was getting tedious. I worked until I heard a noise over the rap being belted out. The sound came from the front room. I got up, changing to scuffling as I neared. I entered the room it went silent.
    My car keys were in the middle of the carpet. They were sticky and the fob looked chewed. I found a cloth to dry them returning them to the board. The grandfather clock on the other side of the party wall struck the hour; I loathed that clock, I could hear it ticking through the wall. I sought the culprit that had taken my keys. The fireplace looked like something had played there. Had a bird fallen down the chimney, the fire guard was up but a small bird could have got around it. I did not like having birds in the house. I opened the doors, hoping I could chase it out.
    I searched the room but could see no signs of a frightened bird. I was as frightened as the bird. I hated birds in close proximity since seeing Hitchcock, “the Birds.” I heard another slight noise coming from behind one of the sofas. I pulled it out gently and something skittered to one side. It was definitely not a bird, I caught a glimpse from the corner of my eye. Furry and moving fast. oo big for a ring-tail, my next fear, but I slid the window shut.
    It scampered behind the sofa but I saw the tip of a tail as it moved position. I backed to the door, slipped through and closed it tight, then closed the front door and dining room window for good measure. Whatever was in the front room could not get out up the chimney so I rang the commissioners.
    “Could you give me the number for the dog warden. Thank you I have that.”
    A friendly male voice picked up. “Havershaw Kennels, Harry Kendall speaking.”
    “Mr Kendall. I’ve an animal shut in my front room. It’s not a dog, cat or rodent. It might be a monkey. The NSPCA is across the island so will take an hour to get here, could you rescue me?”
    Mr Kendall was reassuring and within twenty minute was at my door with an animal carrying case and a net on a pole. We entered the front room quietly together and I shut the door behind us. But the animal was no longer hiding and was in fact sitting consuming an apple that had been left on the coffee table. Not quite a monkey and far prettier, sat on my coffee table delicately eating the apple between elongated fingers was an exquisite lemur. It did not seem worried about me or Mr Kendall until the net slid over it.
    @gisellemarks1 759 words Special Challenge accepted Reply

  5. I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. I paused, looking at the car. “Crap!” I pounded the roof, causing the metal to dent. I grabbed my phone, and punched speed dial for 6, my lawyer.

    “What is it now, Harry?”

    “The keys to my car are missing.”

    “They’re not missing, Harry. And they’re not your keys. They’re her keys.”

    “You mean…”

    “She got the car too.”

    I looked up at God, and the universe, and screamed.

    “Now, Harry. That’s no way to behave.”

    “No way to behave?” I stomped my feet. “No way to behave!” I held the phone out at arm’s length, and looked at it like it was stupid. “Really? Really?” I pulled the phone in, “She got MY car too?!”

    “What can I say? The judge agreed with her.”

    There were times I wanted to shoot that woman. Times I wish I had. Every time I reached that point, I suddenly calmed down. “Yeah. I can see that.”


    “Where you recommend I stay?”

    My lawyer was nothing, if not honest. “Skip town, Harry. Get a job somewhere. Making enough to live on. The judge will adjust how much you pay her.”

    “Skip town?”

    “Yeah. Start over.” There was a pause. “And, Harry? Don’t sleep around this time.”

    “Yeah. I know.” I paused, remembering the times I never went home at night. The times I woke up the next morning in some gals apartment, or home. And she was in the bed with me. Naked. And it was obvious what we’d done.

    “How many?” I asked.

    “Too many, Harry. Too many.” After a moment, he said, “Use your credit card, Harry. While you still can. Get a ticket on a plane. Go somewhere you can find a job.”


    “Anywhere.” He laughed. “You can even catch a taxi to the airport. And Harry.”


    “No screwing around.”

    He hung up. I stared at the phone. Then looked down at my crotch. “You know how much trouble you’ve aused?” Of course, it didn’t answer. Other than to send chemicals racing through my body. “And after all this, you still want to find a gal to bang?” I shook my head.

    I ordered plane tickets to Phoenix. The flight left the next afternoon. I flagged a taxi. When to a bar. Had a drink. Danced with a pretty girl. Woke up the next morning, naked, in her bed. With her. I didn’t even remember her name.

    I looked at my crotch. “Will you ever learn?”

    418 Words

  6. I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. I glanced at the grandfather clock in the hallway, noting the time. It was now almost one in the afternoon, about fifteen minutes since the power had gone out. About an hour after they had announced on the news that all the fictions about a zombie invasion were now true. True, except for the most frightening part. The infected people were still able to talk and reason, unlike in most of the fictions. They didn’t even look all that different, until they walked up to you, explained what they were about to do, and then proceeded to do so. They apparently were working together, finding one another and forming groups to track down those who weren’t infected. The newscasters had been showing a few blurry videos of small groups of people surrounding others and speaking with them. One person would be selected and the others held back, while the victim was bitten, and in some cases consumed. There was no sound on any of the videos, but the expressions on the faces of those that were trapped were not pleasant.

    The newscasters had been in the process of relaying information about where to go when the television had gone dark. I sat there for several minutes, stunned, unable to absorb what they were saying, then realized the house had gone quiet. No hum of the fridge, no soft sounds from the computer on my desk. I jumped to my feet and rushed for my keys, determined to get out of the house and head for shelter somewhere. Now my keys were gone. I stared at the peg where they usually hung, trying to think where they might be. Glanced at the clock again. Another five minutes gone. I clenched my fists, feeling my nails dig into my palms. Think!

    I suddenly remembered that I’d dropped my keys in my jacket pocket last night when I’d run out to the store. Dashing upstairs, I grabbed the jacket and felt in the pocket. A jingle greeted me. Sighing with relief I pulled them out, just in time to hear the front door open.


    I sighed with relief. It was Jennie, my best friend and next door neighbor.

    “Be right down.”

    I headed down the stairs, so glad to see her, I was at the bottom before I realized something was wrong. She was ghost pale. I took a step backward and stumbled over my own feet, falling. Her hand whipped out and caught my wrist in an iron grip, pulling me upright.

    “Jen?” My voice was high with fright.

    She looked at me with a strange smile, her once blue eyes now glowing silver.

    “I’m so glad that you never went on that diet. “ Her tongue slid out and wet her dry lips as she dragged me toward the door. “I get the first bite! Aren’t you happy for me?”

    My scream intertwined with the clock chiming the hour.

    500 words
    Challenge attempted!

  7. I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. The little red light on the touchpad registered a moment before my face registered the imprint of magnetically locked glass and chrome doors along its entire length. My hand, outstretched in the reflex that normally triggered the lock, encountered the chrome a moment later, my knuckles stinging.

    I bounced back, struggling to inhale, my stunned brain scrambling to process what, exactly, had just caused it to careen off the front of my skull. There was a dull ringing in my ears, and I shook my head to clear it, which was probably in retrospect the wrong movement to make and had far more effect on my vertigo than the sound. Despite my best efforts, it continued to warble, worming its way into a part of my brain indoctrinated in elementary school and triggering a reflexive understanding.


    I blinked blurred eyes and felt the sting of smoke against them for the first time, smelled the sharp tang of circuitry burning drilling into my nostrils. In front of me, the chrome reflected red-gold glints through the dull grey roiling up around me. My elementary brain stamped its foot and screamed at me.

    _Stop! Drop!_

    A moment shy of rolling backward into the flames, I pressed my face against the crack between the doorways and inhaled fresh air at knee level, fighting the urge to gasp and waste the little oxygen I had available to me. Through the glass, I could see clean white tiles and the green EXIT glowing above its white metal door. I imagined myself as thin as the stick man on the sign, papering through the gap in the magnet locked doors and scampering two-dimensionally away to freedom.

    The crackle and pop of the fire brought me back abruptly to reality. I turned, not really wanting to know how close it was, and wondering why the fire suppression systems hadn't kicked in. I wondered why the power was still on, why the magnetic locks hadn't failed, where the keys had gone to when we always kept them on a cable right by the pad, in case of emergencies. Emergencies just like this.

    And then, crouched on the floor watching two million dollars of research and development turn into greasy electrical smoke, I understood. The magnet locks weren't going to fail. The fire suppression systems weren't going to fire. And I wasn't going to turn into a two-dimensional stick figure and slide between the crack in the doors. I wasn't going to go anywhere. By the time anyone got to the lab and put out the fire -- if anyone came at all, before the flames choked themselves to death on their own oxidation -- there would be nothing left of me.

    Me. And my data. And the secrets I'd been so sure would be safe locked inside my own brain. Unhackable. Uncopyable.

    There were no backups of me.

    *491 words*
    Challenge accepted, if up to interpretation

    1. Seriously, I can't type my own Twitter handle: @erinvat :P

  8. The Ranch

    I ran for the door but someone had taken the keys already and locked it shut. I dragged a nearby table up against the door, it’d probably do no good but it wouldn’t hurt.

    ‘Padre!’ Abigail’s shriek cut through the stillness of the night, ‘I see something!’

    ‘Kill all the candles people, now!’ I leapt up the stairs three at a time, pistol drawn. Abigail was in the master bedroom, peering out into the yard. The grandfather clock in the corner tolling away the precious remnants of time we had left.

    ‘Where?’ Abigail’s shaking hand pointed past the fires that forced back the darkness towards the barn. Through the flames I could make out a number of lumbering silhouettes. I realised I was crossing myself, my heart in my mouth, there were so many.

    ‘What do we do Padre?’

    ‘Stay calm, I have an idea, get the others ready to leave out the back. Where’s Will?’

    ‘Mutton? Where d’ya think?’

    I left Abigail to gather the rest of our dwindling group perched at various vantage points on the top floor. Hopefully I could keep my promise I had made earlier over dinner.

    That None of them would die tonight.

    Mutton, whose parents had baptized as William Noble, was sat at the kitchen table picking with fat fingers at the remnants of dinner. One of Lil’ Jim’s more intriguing culinary creations, offal and beans. The look of guilt that shot across Mutton’s face dampened my rising frustration. Now was not the time.

    ‘Padre, I was just …’

    My placating hand interrupted his apology, ‘not now Will. Abigail’s seen them by the barn, do you have the key?’

    Mutton nodded, fumbling within his expanse for the latchkey. The others had bemoaned Mutton’s gluttony, resentment leading to some unknown person labeling him with his unfortunate moniker. He had been rightly hurt at such things. Yet I had counseled him, indeed encouraged him to eradicate his pain through his appetite.

    For as I have preached before, God provides the answer when you need it most.

    ‘Excellent, come Will we have God’s work to do’, I walked back to the front door, removing my barricade, motioning Mutton to stay behind me as I opened the door. The lumbering masses were some hundred yards or so away, enough time.


    Follow me Will, now!’

    I moved towards the centre of the yard into the light of the fires, closer to the Gorgers. Creatures raised by Satan himself, desirous of only one thing.

    I halted, Mutton’s breathing labored, beads of sweat running down his glistening jowls.

    ‘Do you know who christened you Mutton?’ Will didn’t hear my question, too focused on the shadows closing in, fingers fumbling at his holster.

    ‘It was me Will’, I unsheathed my blade as I moved behind him, the sharp edge glinting in the firelight, ‘for you are my sacrificial lamb.’

    479 words
    challenge accepted (kinda)

  9. Knock-Knock-Knockin' on Heaven's Door

    She ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys. They weren’t hiding in their spot under the welcome mat. Trying the door handle, she was troubled to find it locked. She pounded on the grungy, yellow, metal door. A window slid open as two dark eyes peered through.

    “Whaddya want?” a gruff voice slurred.
    “I-I want to come in,” she faltered.

    The eyes looked her over and shifted from the window, presumably to spit from the sound he made.

    “No can do, little missy.”

    She took a step back, alarmed. “Why not?”

    The eyes moved again, this time backing away from the door. The woman could just glimpse a long counter in the back of the dimly lit room. A man stood behind the counter polishing a glass. Her view was obstructed when a golden pocket watch grasped by a pudgy fist shot through the window.

    “Ya see this, lady?”came the muffled voice. She bent closer to see that the hands were ticking so slowly, she almost supposed them still. It looked oddly familiar, though she could swear she hadn’t seen it before.

    “Yer deceased. Dead. Kabutch.” The hand retreated and the eyes reappeared.

    “But I know your boss! He said I could come here!” she panicked.

    “Ya do, do ya? Hold on a sec.” The slider clanged back into place. The woman sighed, holding herself to keep from trembling, and hoped she would be remembered. The eyes soon came back with bad news.

    “He say he don’t know you, lady,” the gruff voice said. “Go down the hall. There’s a door at the other end. They’ll take ya.”

    “I-I don’t understand!” she cried, tears starting in her eyes. “I came to His house every week! I even called him sometimes, and once, he even said he’d like to dine with me!”

    “Did ya ever dine with him?”
    “No. I was always too busy.”

    “That’s why ya can’t come in, lady,” the voice explained. “He don’t know ya because you never invited him in. Now it’s too late. Capiche?”

    “Then how did I get in before?” she demanded to know, her eyes wet with anger now instead of fear.

    “Yer mammy brought you in when you was little, right? And the second time was when ya had no friends in school. But ya never came back after that. You lived yer own life, lady. You may have met the boss, but ya didn’t live like it. Ya never let ‘em in. Now he won’t let you in.”

    All during this speech, the woman began screaming for the man to let her in, slamming her body into the metal frame in a vain attempt to budge it.

    The man on the other side simply closed the latch and walked away, leaving the woman to her wailing and clawing at the door.

    “Another goat, Peter?” the bartender asked as he settled himself on a stool. He nodded sadly.

    “Poor kid. She just didn’t get it until it was too late.”
    Word Count: 500
    Special Challenge (barely) included!

  10. For the Grand Champion and Runner Up, everything I had to say was in the winners post, but here we go with a few thoughts on the rest of the stories I read this week. These are mostly just tidied up versions of the notes I made while judging, and as with the final decisions, it's all subjective, but I was very impressed with the quality of writing on display and wanted to say well done to everyone who posted.

    Escape From The Purge – Emily Karn
    This was non-stop from the off, no time for back story or settling in, just a relentless run for freedom. I would have liked a moment more spent on explaining the purge itself, why it was to be avoided at all costs, and maybe a little about the terrorists too, so that the tension and relief at the final escape would both be heightened, but the story’s momentum carries you on past all of that with breathless energy.

    Fate – Stella Kate
    As well as the unique take on the countdown, Stella also gives us a wonderful character moment here, when our unnamed narrator thinks about her lucky escape from embarrassment. The fact that she would rather go 18 hours without liquids rather than lose face in front of her rescuers paints her as a proud, proper lady, as does her reluctance to scream for help while her arch rival may be within earshot. Whether she consciously orchestrated her imprisonment or not, the way she hides the keys at the end of the story just confirms that it won’t rattle her, so long as she can keep up appearances.

    Giselle Marks
    A one-sided game of hide and seek is played out here by a surprisingly level headed narrator. Giselle ratchets up the tension for the reader with a series of scurrying, scuttling half glimpses and mysterious movements, but this is not carried over into her protagonist’s behaviour. The build up promises much more of a sinister shock, but the narrator’s businesslike handling of the situation undoes a little of the creepiness.

  11. Part 2 :

    Harry is locked out of his car, his life and most of the important decisions in his life by an errant biological urge, leaving him to rage impotently. Like his recurring desire to kill his wife, he knows that it will go nowhere, and he directs his frustrated screams to the heavens. In clever counterpoint, his lawyer is calm, controlled and realistic. He counsels Harry to change his ways, but he knows that he never will, and by the final line, both Harry and the reader know it too.

    Some startling imagery here – the scampering paperman, the narrator sucking precious oxygen through the crack in the door as the flames creep closer – which drives this tale of coldly calculated murder. Wisely avoiding any easy answers, the story leaves us to make assumptions at who the victim might be, and why someone would kill to destroy their work. In the end though, whether it’s industrial or international espionage, or even just a jealous colleague, the murderer is much less important than the victim, and their final realisation that they’ve been too smart for their own good.

    The Ranch – Image Ronin
    These zombies are based on the classic recipe, a shambling mass of unholy appetite, and that’s no bad thing. Ever since Romero, the walking dead have served as a dark mirror to reflect some of our own worst excess, and Image Ronin plays that card well. The relentless hunger is reflected in Mutton’s secret snacking on offal and beans, while his death is just a means to an end, a way for the padre to stave off disaster for one more day, in much the same way that the undead kill for food rather than any hatred of the living.

    Knock-Knock-Knockin' on Heaven's Door – JM MacF
    A unique take on the pearly gates rounds off our stories this week. As the gruff doorman advises our protagonist to head on down the hall, it becomes clear that this is a very exclusive club, and the realization dawns as the excluded woman grows ever more frantic to get in. While Peter is almost a cartoon of the wiseguy doorman – did anyone else hear him speaking with a Brooklyn accent? – JM wisely keeps the bartender in the shadows, except to deliver that single killer line.

    And that's it for me. Thanks again for letting me loose on your stories, and good luck for next week, when I hope to jump back across the fence and put my writing hat on. See you there!