KIERAN SHEA’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, Word Riot, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Crimefactory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir well as in some beefy-looking anthologies most of which will make you question the tether of his shiny, red balloon. To his self-deprecating astonishment he's also been nominated for the Story South’s Million Writers Award twice without sending the judges so much as a thank you note. He co-edited the satiric transgressive fiction collection D*CKED: DARK FICTION INSPIRED BY DICK CHENEY and his debut novel KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY is out now from Titan Books. Kieran divides his time between 38°58′22.6″N- 76°30′4.17″W and 39.2775° N, 74.5750° W.


Patricia Abbott's Scarry Night Flash Challenge

A few weeks back Patti Abbott threw out the ol' flash fiction challenge. Yeah, it has been a while since one of these puppies was kicked about, but plenty answered Patti's call to arms. Ground rules: 800-900 word count, had to contain the phrase "I really don't mind the scars...." Like a few, I needed a break from all the long form weltered cotton in my head so here's my quick take.


-Yeah, how’s that for eye-full first thing in the morning?
-Swims every day.
-Like clockwork.

-Think he was in Afghanistan or something.

-I mean, the dude totally carries himself like military.
-Wonder why I’ve never seen him here before.
-Duh. Because you’ve never done the early shift before.
-The dude is a total dawn patrol, like those triathlon I’m-gonna-live-forever freakshows.

-Have you talked with him?
-Me? No way, bro. I just keep my eyes on the lanes. After a while he kind of just blends into the background. To be honest, it’s gotten to the point where I really don’t mind the scars.

-Afghanistan, huh?
-Maybe. Maybe Iraq. Shit, does make much of a difference at this point?

-I bet one of the regulars knows.
-Knows what? What happened to him? Doubt that.
-How come?
-‘Cause I’ve never seen him talk to anybody that’s why.
-How about—
-The boss? Yeah. Sure. You go ask her Miss Bitch-On-Wheels and see if she don’t rag all over you for prying into gym members’ privacy. Besides wait until you get a good look at the dude’s mouth. I swear, it’s like this weird—I don’t know—reptilian slit or something.

-Don’t look at me like that. I’m just being honest here is all. Go ahead. You try and look him in the eye. That shit is just plain work, man. Work. Swims a mile and then bails.
-His face is completely gone.
-That’s not all, wait until you see his flip turn.
-His flip turn?
-Just watch the wall. Okay, here he comes…

-Holy sh—
-See? Was I right or was I right? Like some kind of a flipper chewed down to the nub. Got to give the dude props though. Doesn’t use a cane or the handicap ramp or nothing. Just gimps his ass in here and does his thing.

-Maybe he got burned up in a tank or something.
-A tank?

-You don’t follow the current events much do you?
-Never mind.
-Oh, check it out, man, check it out…
-He’s getting out of the pool. Goddamn, look at that shit. So, um, you breaking me or what?
-Yeah. I’m breaking you. Go check the levels.
-What? Check the levels?
-Yeah, check the levels.
-I already checked the levels.
-Well, Ms. Bitch-On-Wheels told me she wants you to check the levels again. Both therapy pools too.
-Aw, man…

-Excuse me.

-Excuse me, guard?

-Yes, sir? Can I help you?

-You’re new here.
-Uh, not exactly. I just usually come in later in the day. I’m substituting for someone. Can I help you with something?

-You and your friend were staring at me.

-I beg your pardon?

- You and the other guard. You were staring at me.

-I’m not a freak, you know.

-So. You want to know?
-About the scars.
-Everybody wants to know.
-I didn’t, I mean, I didn’t—
-Just admit it.
-Sir, it’s really none of my business.
-What did your friend there say?
-Before. What did he say? That little stoner puke.

-Look, sir, if I’ve offended you in some way—
-My wife and child were in a fire. I ran into that fire to save them. I didn’t.

-I’m so sorry.
-This was four years ago out west. Los Angeles. We just bought a house in the valley after the bubble. Had a good job with the electrical union doing television work, events, stuff like that. Grew up down in Carlsbad. The police, the inspectors, they couldn’t figure out who had done it, but it turns out my next door neighbor who moved away before we moved in? He was in some bad shit with some Bloods. Of course the cops couldn’t find anyone. Whoever had done it had the wrong house, torched mine. Bad luck I guess, should have died in that fire too but I didn’t because I was crashed on the couch in the living room and they threw the gas bomb in the bedroom where my wife and daughter were sleeping. I’d more than a few watching the Angels game and didn’t wake up until they kept screaming. Didn’t know where I was. The ceiling was moving and it took a second to register that it was flames. Place went up like a torch. Bars on the bedroom windows, they’re supposed to keep you safe, right? Made to give way from the inside? But the previous owner installed them on the cheap and I okayed it after the inspection, thinking I’d fix them later. Bolted shut. I tried the bedroom door and when I opened it? That fire? It just ate the air. Fucking ate it. The last thing I heard besides their screams was my own flesh sizzling. A neighbor managed to pull me out by my belt and they found my wife and daughter in the closet fused together like a chunk of coal. The next time your buddy stares, tell him that.