From one of Paper Butterfly’s authors: Jill Hand

If you’ve had a chance to read Jill Hand’s fun and clever flash story “A Visit from Spring-heeled Jack” (find it on Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction here), you’ll more than likely have a hankering to check out more of her work….

Jill Hand’s novel, White Oaks, won first place in the 2019 PenCraft fiction awards in the thriller category. Reviewers have called it a wild ride as well as funny, fast-paced gonzo noir. Here’s a link to where to buy a copy on Amazon.

Jill is currently writing a sequel entitled Black Willows. It will be released in the spring of 2020.

Jill Hand – A Visit from Spring-heeled Jack

A Visit from Spring-heeled Jack

by

Jill Hand

It was me what answered the door the night the devil came. I’m Violet Twombey, ‘tween maid, sixteen years old come Saint Swithin’s Day. The butler, Mister Burdle, was usually the one who answers the front door, but he was visiting his brother in hospital, him what got knocked down in the street by an omnibus.

With Mister Burdle away, the hall boy, Jerry, should have went and seen who was a-banging away on the big brass door knocker like a smith at a forge but Jerry was asleep in the coal cellar, wrapped up in a bit of old carpet he keeps down there. Jerry is fond of beer and Mister Burdle not being there to stop him, he made liberal use of the keg. At first he grew merry and sang a number of songs, including one about a woman from the Sandwich Islands who wore nothing but a grass skirt that Cook said was not fit for Christian ears. Then he got quiet and said he was going to go down to the cellar and fill the coal scuttles.

When the knock came at the door, the housemaids, Alice and Susan, was playing beggar-my-neighbour in the servants’ hall. Susan pinched my arm and told me to go see who it was.

As I was rubbing my arm Alice gave me a sweet smile and said, “Won’t you please go, Violet?” Alice is not only nicer than Susan, she is prettier. She will have a husband and a home of her own one day while Susan will not, the mean old thing.

So it was me what went, me what worked in the house eight months, giving no trouble to a mortal soul, fetching and carrying and scrubbing and sweeping, polishing everything that needed polishing, including the brass door knocker that somebody was a-banging away on like to raise the dead. I opened the door and there stood the Devil.

He had a red face and horns like a goat’s and a pointed beard like a Spaniard’s. He wore tall black boots and a black cape. He leered at me most alarmingly with eyes as red as fire and did a capering dance.

“O help! It is the Devil!” I screamed.

Cook came running with Susan and Alice at her heels. The Devil breathed a jet of blue flame and stepped inside, causing them to run back downstairs to the kitchen, screeching like scalded cats.

The mistress came out onto the landing to see what the commotion was about. That’s when the Devil started flinging coloured balls of fire, causing the mistress to shriek and faint dead away.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Devil being so fiendishly cunning, that there was no men in the house to protect us? The master was at his club, as he is most every night. It being a Friday, Mister Ellis, the footman, was in Seven Dials, reading to the people in gin palaces from uplifting books and telling them not to be idle but instead to find honest employment.

At least that’s the story he told Mister Burdle when he asked to be given Friday evenings off. I suspect Mister Ellis was frequenting gin palaces for another reason, that reason being gin.

The Devil gave one last ear-splitting shriek before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. Then when the mistress woke up from her swoon she discovered her jools was missing! Diamond bracelets, emerald ear-bobs, the ruby brooch what the master brought back from India, all vanished. Cook said either the Devil must of took them, or else he had one of his imps do it.

“It must have been an imp, wouldn’t you say, Bert?” That was Alf, my young man. Him and me was strolling in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens the next night, along with Alf’s brother Bert and Bert’s sweetheart Nancy.

“Either an imp or a monkey that escaped from a zoo,” Bert replied, reaching into his pocket for coins to buy ice-creams. Bert’s pockets were heavy with coins for a change, as were Alf’s.

Alf and Bert work in a shop what sells theatrical costumes and magic tricks. Bert is small like an imp, and nimble-fingered like a monkey. He’s bold like a monkey, too, He’s just the fellow to scamper up the back stairs, nip into a lady’s boudoir and nick her jewels when she’s a-lying on the landing in a faint. I pointed to a spot below Alf’s ear, where he’d missed a bit of red greasepaint. “Ta, love,” he said, and wiped it away.

 

Jill Hand is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including, Mrs. Rochester’s Attic, Caravans Awry, and Postcards from the Void, among others.
Her Southern Gothic Thriller, White Oaks, was released May 30, 2019 by Black Rose Writing.

From one of Paper Butterfly’s authors: Scott Hughes.

I’m delighted to give a huge shout out to author Scott Hughes and his most recent work!  His story “The Goblin’s Lament” was featured in Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction in April 2018 (check it out here!).

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read
A mysterious book on your doorstep, a man trying to outrun an otherworldly horror, an elderly woman who creates strange concrete creatures, a computer that isn’t what it seems, an enigmatic nothingness closing in on someone’s house… The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is a collection of five macabre tales that you won’t soon forget. Available now from Weasel Press: https://www.amazon.com/dp/194871227X
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The Universe You Swallowed Whole
The poems in The Universe You Swallowed Whole fly from the microcosm of ripples in a lake to the macrocosm of light bending in a black hole, from math to jazz, from informal to formal, from the here-and-now to the hereafter. This short book contains an infinite universe—one that you will long to return to again and again. Available for pre-order now from Finishing Line Press: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/the-universe-you-swallowed-whole-by-scott-hughes/
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Renee Carter Hall – Penultimate

Penultimate

By

Renee Carter Hall

The room had crashed again. Instead of the rose-patterned wallpaper and the burlap-textured accent wall, the living room glowed fluorescent blue slashed with jagged red lines. She sighed and started the reset, waiting through the parade of logos and offers for upgrades, until the news feed finally came up, tastefully bordered in a gilt frame.

The headlines swept past, each lingering only as long as the room’s interface gauged her level of interest. Updates on the wars, a celebrity’s wedding, the latest public pleas for medical assistance, the new hors d’oeuvre everyone was making, the week’s political scandals ranked in a top-five format. She frowned at one item, and at her concentration it expanded into immersion, trading the walls around her for video and audio.

The last tiger had died, it said, in captivity at one of the western sanctuaries. It was a female, twenty-two years old, named Grace. The video of her caretaker finding the body was both distressing and compelling in its grief, and it played through twice until she closed her eyes. When she opened them, a wave of comments washed by, video and text, crying avatar faces and platitudes, each blending into the next. RIP Grace. Beautiful creature. So sad!!! Then a smattering of cat pictures shared for no apparent reason.

She wondered how many of the people mourning had ever seen a tiger other than in an immersion. The last zoos had become sanctuaries, closed to the public, when she was still a teenager. She had a vague childhood memory of a striped back pressed up against the glass, the tiger asleep on a summer afternoon, mixed in with the scent of popcorn and hot dogs.

The feed moved on, but sluggishly. She still scanned the headlines, but the interface could tell her attention was elsewhere. Finally a soft chime noted that it was her preferred bedtime, so she turned the feed back to the wallpaper and went to bed.

All night, her mind cycled back through photos, videos, a gallery of tigers, an endless parade, as if her own mental feed had gotten stuck on a single subject. Had it known, she wondered, that it was the last? How did anyone know, for certain, that it was the last? Had people so filled in every space, that there was no camouflage left?

She thought of old maps. Here there be dragons, or monsters. Or tigers. That time when there were still gaps big enough to hold entire creatures. That time where a person could not know something and have to live with not knowing it, unable to answer every question in an instant.

She dreamt of forests, of jungles, unmapped spaces where leaf and stone had never felt the sound of a human voice. She followed trails through a dense tangle of lush growth, and when the trail ended, she pulled vines and pushed brush aside with bare hands that ended in curving claws. She dropped to all fours and felt her spine flex. Colour became scent, and sound sharpened.

The next morning, she woke surprised to see her own hands. Her body felt clumsy and foreign. The news feed had long since moved on, and there was nothing else to say about the last tiger. The human community had noted the loss appropriately and grieved it appropriately, but now there was something new that required its due performance of sadness or anger or amusement. To linger too long was to risk being left behind.

She could not think of words to match what she still felt. Something had changed in the shape of the world, but she couldn’t define it, not even to mark it as a loss or a gain. It was something about being the last, though, and something about being alone, of having no one else’s opinions inside your head. It was something about having a pattern all your own, right down to the skin.

She knew, then, that the feed was wrong. If this wild solitude could linger in her, then wildness could always find a place to hide. The last tiger was not lying dead in a security video, caged in pixels of a news feed. It was out there, somewhere in the patches of forest that remained, always at the edges of vision, always a glimpse of pelt, a flash of eye. There would be rumours, but no one would ever find it. It would move through the city streets when everyone was asleep. It would slip through the feed, lurking in the spaces between words. It would live in the eternity between instants, and it would never have a name.

 

Renee Carter Hall’s short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Strange Horizons, Podcastle, and Daily Science Fiction. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, their cat, and more books than she will ever have time to read, and readers can find her online at www.reneecarterhall.com and on Twitter as @RCarterHall.

From one of Paper Butterfly’s authors: George Salis – Sea Above, Sun Below

In 2020, I am pleased to be publishing a story from George Salis in Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction. George’s first novel Sea Above, Sun Below is now available from River Boat Books – read on for more details!

George Salis’ debut novel, Sea Above, Sun Below, is available to order from River Boat Books here (the first 100 copies are signed limited editions): https://store11170962.ecwid.com/Sea-Above-Sun-Below-p156052…

For international orders, there is a special price that includes shipping here: https://store11170962.ecwid.com/Sea-Above-Sun-Below-Special…

Sea Above, Sun Below is a real treat, a feast for the mind and a dizzying rollercoaster of a read. It’s an example of magic realism at its best.”
– Erik Martiny, author of The Pleasures of Queuing

Upside-down lightning, a group of uncouth skydivers, resurrections, a mother’s body overtaken by a garden, aquatic telepathy, a peeling snake-priest, and more.

Sea Above, Sun Below is influenced by Western myths, some Greek, some with biblical overtones, resulting in a fusion of fantastic dreams, bizarre yet beautiful nightmares, and multiple narrative threads that form a tapestry which depicts the fragility of characters teetering on the brink of madness.

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New feature! Author promotion on Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction

I’m going to set up something new on Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction for authors whose stories have been published on the site: I am happy to help out with a bit of promotion of your current work.  If you have had a book, script, poem, or story published in the past year (or something upcoming in the next few months) and you’d like to share the news with PBFF’s readers, send me a message via the Contact form and I’ll arrange a post on this website.  You can definitely send me notifications of multiple works, it doesn’t have to be about just one.  You can request that I put up this promotional material on PBFF’s Facebook page as well as the website.

A couple of important notes: this will only be for authors who have been published in PBFF. If you are not an author with PBFF, I will delete your message without responding.  I also will not promote any work that does not fit the (for the most part) G-rated vibe we have going on here at PBFF. You know what that means.  

I wish you all much success with your writing!

Paper Butterfly update!

I have read a LOT of amazing stories these past few weeks! And – as an early holiday gift – I’m going to publish EIGHT stories for 2020 instead of the six I had originally planned on.  Believe me, it wasn’t easy narrowing the list to just eight, as I received over well over 200 submissions during both calls this year.

I’m just wrapping up all the notifications to authors regarding their October submissions to Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction; unfortunately, the email addresses of two of them appear to be invalid. If M. Tuggle and C. Anderson happen to see this message, please use the Contact form here on the website to send me your current email address. Many thanks!

A note to authors who received acceptances during the April call: I am a little late in sending out proofs and information about next year’s publishing schedule. You will receive an email from me very soon.

Watch for a brand new story here on the website on December 1!  And please spread the word about Paper Butterfly! Everyone could use a little more flash fiction in their lives, right?

 

Paper Butterfly is now open for story submissions – October 1 to 21, 2019!

Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction is now open to story submissions!  You’ve got until the 21 of October to send me your finest flash fiction!  If your story is selected, it will be published in 2020.

Please take a look at the following guidelines before pressing “send.”  I’m looking forward to reading your work!  

Sheryl 

SUBMISSIONS:  OPEN OCTOBER 1 to 21, 2019 ~  

YES, PLEASE:

Flash fiction stories only.  Word count: 1,000 or less.

English language only.

Original work only.

Genre: science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, humour, western, mystery, literary…and any variation or combination thereof.  If in doubt, send it along – you never know.

Multiple submissions:  feel free to send as many submissions as you wish to during the reading period.  Please send each submission in separate emails.

Simultaneous submissions: all good. If your story is selected for publication elsewhere, please contact me right away to withdraw it from my consideration.

NO, THANK YOU:

Word count over the limit.

Poetry, non-fiction, essays, children’s stories, anything other than flash fiction.

Erotica, excessive gore, abuse, or ‘isms such as racism, sexism, etc..

Overly saucy language.  I don’t mind swear words, I just would prefer to keep the content on the site closer to the PG side of things.

Reprints.

Stories sent outside of the reading period.

Artwork.

Queries. They’re not necessary.  Send me your work if you think there’s a chance I might like it.  Please don’t ask me about your submission after you’ve sent it. I will get back to you by November 30, 2019.

FORMATTING:

I’m not picky about fonts or font sizes or margins or paragraph indentations or anything of the sort.  I will format your work to fit the site if it is accepted for publication.  If your story has an experimental form and I accept it, we’ll work together to ensure it is posted properly.

Cover letters are not required.

Your contact information (name, email address) MUST be included somewhere in your submission.

Please watch your spelling and grammar – if your story is littered with errors, I am likely to give it less of a chance.  Don’t worry about American/Canadian/British spelling; I’ll sort it all out.

Submissions may be an attachment (.rtf, .docx., .doc) or pasted into the body of your email – it’s up to you.

If edits are required, I will make them and send you the proof for confirmation before publication on the website.

If your work is accepted, I will ask for a short bio.  This will be an opportunity to add a link to your author’s website or blog.

RENUMERATION:

If your story is accepted for publication, you will be paid $10.00 (Canadian funds).  Please note that if you live in countries outside of Canada, the exchange rate may mean you don’t quite make ten bucks from your story.  I’m sorry about that, but if it’s a problem, please don’t send me your work.  Payment will be issued via PayPal.  In order to receive payment, your PayPal email address must be provided to me.

  • If your story is selected for publication during the October reading period, payment will be issued on or before December 1, 2019.

PUBLICATION:

Authors retain all rights to their work.

Bear in mind that if your story is posted on Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction (or anywhere else on the Internet, for that matter), you may not be able to submit it to another publisher as it will be considered a “reprint.”

If, for some reason, you wish to withdraw your story from Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction’s website, please send me a message and I’ll remove it as quickly as I can.  Again, it will still count as a “reprint” in the view of a future publisher, even if it has only been posted for a short time.

If your story is accepted, I will let you know when I plan to post it on the website.  It will be posted on the first day of that month. Stories will be published in February, April, June, August, October, and December of 2020.

OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW:

In this fourth year of Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction’s existence, I will be accepting six (6) stories for publication.

I will send you a confirmation of receipt of your story within 48 hours of your submission.

I must apologize, but I cannot offer more than a form rejection letter at this time.

SEND SUBMISSIONS to shrob17(at)hotmail(dot)ca. I will not consider submissions sent outside of the reading period, so double check that it is open before sending me your work.

 

Steve Tem – The Family Man

The Family Man

By

Steve Tem

The suspect’s broad, pallid face betrayed no emotion, but the detective noticed a distinct twitch in the left eye. He was a large man, and held himself very still, only his eyes moving, and occasionally his lips, which he alternately stretched and pursed, as if exercising them in preparation for some sort of strenuous oral activity. The detective found this profoundly unsettling to watch. He sensed that this family man, seemingly devoid of emotion, actually possessed emotion in abundance. But it was deeply buried within that pale grave of flesh.

“Where is your family?” the detective asked again.

The suspect looked puzzled. “I already told you. They’re at home. Safe at home. When can I go back there? I’ve never been away from my family this long.”

“I doubt you’ll be going home at all. In fact, I’d bet on it.” The suspect, still calm, stared at him as if he were a curiosity. The detective, painfully uncomfortable with the man’s gaze and troubled by his complete lack of progress, left the station and drove to the suspect’s home. Two vans from forensics were parked out front. Several uniformed officers canvased the neighborhood. A team of investigators wearing white CSI coveralls, blue PVC overshoes, and nitrile gloves were digging up the front lawn. A large number of wooden crates had already been excavated. He let himself inside the house.

The living room was pristine and sparsely furnished. No magazines on the tables, or ash trays or knickknacks. One interior wall was roughly textured, embedded with sea shells, small stones, and other conglomerated materials. It was different, but oddly pleasing, a piece of the outdoors brought inside. The other walls were plaster-pale. The deep-pile carpeting was white and definitely not kid-friendly. The entire house was like that, more like a model home than where a family actually lived. The scene investigator was jotting down notes just inside the kitchen doorway. He looked up. “Hello, Lieutenant. I should get this guy to clean my house. This place is immaculate.”

“What did you find in the crates he buried?”

“Everything I’d expected to find in the house. Kids’ clothing, toys, a woman’s clothing, purse, make-up, personal items. None of it new. Lots of wear and tear, the toys a little on the shabby side. I don’t think they spent much money on the kids.”

“All the crates were full?”

“Most of them stuffed. Except for four larger crates buried in the side yard. Each was empty except for a single item.”

The detective walked around the room, stared at the conglomerate wall. “What were those single items?”

The investigator read from his clipboard. “Three contained a flannel blanket with cartoon characters on them: birds on one, fish on another, and something I couldn’t identify on the third. Looked like a pig, maybe. The fourth crate held a woman’s cotton robe. Pastel green, plain, no frills.”

“Any organic material?”

“I sent them all to the lab. They were pretty filthy. I’m guessing yes, fluids of some kind. No visible blood.”

“I want a catalog of everything you found in every crate. By tomorrow if possible.”

The investigator scratched his head, made a note. “Of course. But about those four big crates. All the others were near-perfect, smooth. But those four had lots of dings and scrapes across the tops and corners. The newer marks are a good match for that shovel he had in the garage. The older ones were made by something else.”

The detective stopped pacing and stared at him. “Older ones?”

“Yeah. Judging by the marks on the wood, and the condition of the soil, I’m pretty sure those four crates were dug up, pried open, and reburied again. Multiple times, over a period of years.”

The investigator returned to the excavation work outside. The detective got down on his knees and examined the carpet. It had been thoroughly combed, and the contents filed in envelopes. There hadn’t been much: a few hairs, foreign fibers, minute slivers of plastic, glass. The suspect was beyond fussy. The detective wondered how much time the large man had actually spent in this living room—it looked more for display than for living. He noticed four deep indentations in the carpet about two feet in front of the conglomerate wall. He brought in one of the kitchen chairs. The legs matched the indentations, but only with the chair facing the wall. He sat down and gazed forward. It was like staring at a cliff, at geographic strata. He imagined himself the suspect, that big pale face pushed forward, expressionless.

He thought about how deep the indentations in the carpet were. He thought of that large man sitting here for hours on end, his weight pushing the chair legs deeper and deeper into the carpet. He thought of the man exercising his mouth. A family man, thinking about his family. The detective had a family of his own, a beautiful wife and three rambunctious boys. Oh, the noise they made. The mess. But he adored those kids, how they jumped on him as soon as he walked through the door, consuming him.

He leaned closer. His breathing grew labored. There by one of the stones, a very small detached fingernail floated in the cement. And the stone itself was so white and smooth, and the way it was dimpled, it might have been bone.

 

Steve Rasnic Tem is a past winner of the Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy Awards. He’s published over 400 short stories. His most recent collections are The Harvest Child And Other Fantasies (Crossroads) and Everything Is Fine Now (Omnium Gatherum). His last novel Ubo (Solaris, February 2017) is a dark science fictional tale about violence and its origins, featuring such historical viewpoint characters as Jack the Ripper, Stalin, and Heinrich Himmler. Yours To Tell: Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing, written with his late wife Melanie, appeared from Apex Books in 2017. Last year Valancourt Books published Figures Unseen, a volume of his Selected Stories. The Mask Shop of Doctor Blaack, a middle grade novel about Halloween, also appeared from Hex Publishers.