Flash Fiction: “An Episode Below” by Mel Staten
Her bare feet lightly touch down on the bed of coals, moving forward. They should stop in heated agony, but onwards they move despite burning soles as she counts steps toward blistering burns.
How oddly beautiful it is, a lake made of flames, so different from usual cool waters, so different from what she was used to but no less serene. Her feet move forward, toward the heat, not backwards away from it, and the flames lick the inky blackness all around them. Never had she imagined it would be like this, so oddly calming in all the oblivion.
Mel Staten is a storyteller born and raised in Massachusetts who peddles her art for a living. This story, which first appeared at Every Day Fiction on October 22, 2015, is her first short story publication. Armed with a degree in Studio Art, she accepts freelance work through her website melstaten.com, and is in the process of editing her first novel. She currently resides in Natick with her partner and three remarkably fluffy mammals. You can find her on Twitter: @melanixies.
“An Episode Below” originally appeared at Every Day Fiction on October 22, 2015.
Main Story: “The Magnificent Roadside Attraction” by Jack William Finley
Ancient ’Dora sat rocking in her chair by the window of DORA’s Emporium of Wonders and Mysteries and watched the trio of strangers approach: Shunned even in hell, they straggled along the sulfur yellow trail of Route 666.
One was Judas Iscariot, his hanging tree dragging behind him; the rope biting into the flesh of his throat; his thirty pieces of silver hung around his neck, making every step an agony. Beside him shuffled Pontius Pilate, his hands forever covered in blood no water could wash away; his soul forever tormented by ‘what ifs’ and ‘might have beens: if only he had known; if only he could go back, change things, make things right…. The third was Salome, daughter of Herodias, the head of John the Baptist hanging from her neck, endlessly preaching the ways of salvation and redemption eternally denied to the three of them. She traveled with those other two for they were the only ones who would have her.
’Dora studied them as they came down the road toward her, oblivious to all the tacky, ratty tourist crap that littered both sides of the infamous Route 666. Her own shop was perhaps the sturdiest and most welcoming, being made of whitewashed stone, but even it was tired and worn after all these long centuries. The biblical outcasts trudged onward, ever closer. She could see by their expressions they were overcome with hopelessness and despair, remarkable even in hell.
Jack William Finley has delivered pizza, stocked various shelves worked as an actor, a photographer, a stunt man, a short order cook, washed cars professionally, helped build computer hard drives, driven a forklift, and been a small arms repairman for the U.S. Army. He is a proud graduate of the Borderland Press Writers Boot Camp, which he enthusiastically recommends to anyone serious about writing stories for money, or just wants to be a lot better at it. He has lived in Indiana, California, Arizona, and Germany, and now he writes stories he hopes will entertain people. His fiction is available through Amazon.
“The Miraculous Roadside Attraction”, written by Jack William Finley; copyright (c) 2011, Janet Morris. Permission, Perseid Press.
About the Narrators:
Heidi Hotz is a voiceover artist with a range of personalities who has been in the industry for more than 10 years, and has worked on TV commercials, radio, documentaries, audio fiction, and narration in general. She resides online at HeidiHotz.com.
Eric Luke is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film Explorers, which is currently in development as a remake, the comic books Ghost and Wonder Woman, and wrote and directed the Not Quite Human films for Disney TV. His current project, Interference, a meta horror audiobook about an audiobook… that kills, is now available on Audible.com.