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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

March 2011: The Ides

March 2011: The Ides

Welcome to the latest installment of Thunderdome! Be careful with these stories...they're circling around you, concealing things sharp and deadly. The theme this month revovled around the Ides of March, and homicide seems to be the favored son among these Ides. This is an array of strange tales that would make Rod Serling proud, so without further ado, we give you:

Short Stories

The Sadness of Two People Meeting in a Bar - author Stephen Graham Jones (whose story collection THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY has recently been nominated for a Bram Stoker award alongside Stephen King and other horror luminaries for Superior Achievement in a Collection) opens the issue with a fast-paced, two-fisted tale of scheming and betrayal.

La Amante - Frank Reyes brings a taste of Old West Justice to modern day, tracing the roots of the Mistress you don't want to cross...

Vanity  - Victor Bengtsson gives you a short, sharp and harrowing moment in a hospital emergency room

Moaning Blades - Chris Deal follows two unfortunate souls scavenging for a supplies in a plague-ridden world. Grudges aren't the only things that won't stay dead.

Teetotaler - Amanda Gowin takes you to a seedy bar for one last dance

Persephone Smiled - Beth Maloney weaves a dark tale of a child's fondest wish coming true

Upon the Sons  - edward j rathke drops you into the middle of a fevered conversation and the watchful eyes of ghosts from the past

Fifty Bucks - Charles King gives you a double-barreled tale of robbery gone wrong

The Rooster - Bob Pastorella knows you don't see the Rooster and live to tell about it. Feeling lucky?

The Placebo Effect - Doc O'Donnell presents a story of what can happen if you want something badly enough

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:42

The Placebo Effect

Written by

She doesn’t care about leaving me behind. She believes in reincarnation.

I’ll meet you in the next life, she says. This one has nothing left for me.

She’s gone to buy champagne.

She wants to celebrate her death.

I empty all the pills into the toilet and replace them with placebos. What I replace them with varies. Technically, they’re not placebos because they don’t have nothing in them.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:41

The Rooster

Written by

Bartel slid an unopened pack of Marlboro Lights across his desk. “I know you’re pissed. I’d be pissed too. Go on, take one. I might even join you.”

Conner stared at the cigarettes. Finally he grabbed the pack, slapped the top across his palm four times.  Four was his lucky number. Four months trying to get in, and now he was there. “What about the No Smoking signs in the hall?”

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:40

Fifty Bucks

Written by

Fifty Bucks. He says. Fifty fucking dollars, Man. Didn't your fucking mother teach you to read. There is no more than fifty god-damned dollars in here. Not counting the penny cup, there. He points at the gun. Put that shit down. You won't kill me for a fucking video game and some fucking pennies.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:39

Upon the Sons

Written by


'I think I'm being followed.'

'. . . Mark?'

'The weird thing, though, is that they're little girls. All these little girls everywhere I look and they're all looking at me, just, like, staring, comatose like, flat affect, just eyes trailing me.'

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:36

Moaning Blades

Written by

The wind blew through the trees, over the frozen landscape, holding in its ethereal grasp smoke and rot the two men tried to ignore. The stench had held dominion over the world in the weeks since life broke down. Alberto spat to the ground while Ben remembered for a moment the first day, the way he fell to his knees and retched continuously, in sickness and in grief, until he was fully empty. A fortnight had gone by and he felt like a lifetime had been lost.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:33

Persephone Smiled

Written by

Tracy Riordan was twelve years old when she died. Her father had seen to that. All that was left now was a hollow shell that went through the motions of being alive. There was no texture or context to anything. People didn’t seem real; a mindless string of compassionate, well-meaning nobodies who could never understand what she was feeling. Shadows on the wall, that’s what people were to her now. Where the hell had all this compassion been when he was doing it to her?

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:32


Written by

Kathy’s jaw clicks with each clench on her nicotine gum - a rapid double barrel noise.
Squish-snap. Squish-snap. Squish-snap.
Add the erratic flicker of an overhead fluorescent on the fritz and you've got the saddest nightclub simulation Nathan has ever experienced. He's on day four hundred and forty-one. His fingers lock on a dangerously full Styrofoam cup, he manages not to crush it and spill lukewarm sludge all over his hands and the sad linoleum. To do so would be to interrupt, to trivialize the words that spill from the current sharer’s tearstained face.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:29


Written by

In the emergency room, I spilled my heart while hers was about to stop. Bright lights like angels should arrive, but I knew my wife and god weren't on speaking terms.
Maybe it was for the better.
She told me, not my wife, the woman sitting next to me –  that it was vanity, vanity that made her wipe the blood away from the floor, she knew how much Veronica loved those floorboards.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:26

La Amante

Written by

La Amante has hung shimmering above the mantle since I was a toddler. The glimmer of the chrome was what first attracted me to it. I was told very early that I was never to touch it. After all, it was Grandpa Antonio’s gun. A revolver he had gotten from his father Papa Julio, who grew up in the Wild, Wild West. Well, not so much the Wild, Wild, West, but what was the equivalent in northern Mexico. It was a beautiful six-shooter that was nicknamed, “La Amante”,  “The Mistress”. It was named so because it was the only other woman my great-grandfather ever did such wicked things with. Grandpa Antonio got it when Papa Julio died and then passed it down to my father right before he perished. I am heir to the gun once Pops is gone.

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:22

The Sadness of Two People Meeting in a Bar

Written by

For a moment the crowd parts and they see each other, him at the bar, her on the wall, but it’s not long enough to tell if they’re attached. She gets a cigarette going, he orders another beer, the pads of his fingers leaving smears on his frosted mug, and they watch each other, and let each other look—him standing once, pretending to try to see the game on the television better, her in turn angling herself sideways, as if she’s just seen a friend through the plate glass. Twenty minutes later they’ve sidled into their places beside each other, and the bartender knows what to do, and her friend knows what not to do, and the only two people in the whole place suddenly unable to open their mouths, form the right words right then, are him and her, because they’re seeing it like a movie already: