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A quick story replay - The Setting Sun

Replay from March of 2021 ...

I had an incredible run of stories accepted by Black Hare Press for their 500-word anthologies. I'm thinking the volumes will be released at various times this year. I'll let you know as soon as I do...

That being said, the story I submitted for the 500-word Hell anthology was passed on. So I thought what better place to share it on than here. Let me know what you think...


The Setting Sun

By Eric Butler

Daniel sat at the red light, his fingers tapping the steering wheel in time with the

song playing on the radio. His gaze moved past the traffic light to focus on the setting

sun. His breath caught as the once blue sky transformed into a burst of colors before

fading into darkness. Unease settled over him for a moment. His stomach tightened as

his bowels turned to water.

A car horn blared from behind, giving Daniel a start before he offered a wave

and accelerated through the light. What was I thinking about? He struggled to remember

as he made his way through the neighborhood until he finally pulled into his driveway.

He grabbed the grocery bag and slipped out.

Daniel froze on the top step. The front door sat open, the frame splintered and

broken near the deadbolt strike. A chill settled over him as he stepped forward, pushing

the door open. Clutter littered the hallway as the table for mail lay on its side and

blocked the way.

"Kate?" he called out as he placed the table back against the wall. Daniel stood

still, straining to hear anything. The house stayed quiet, giving off an impression of

complete stillness that reinforced the déjà vu from earlier. "Kate?"

His heart pounded as he advanced down the hall, each step reinforcing his

unease. The house hadn't been this quiet since we brought Natalie home. It was part of

the reason Daniel volunteered to run to the store for formula. A little peace and quiet

was hard to come by. A weak moan sounded from deeper in the house. Daniel rushed

forward, calling his wife's name once again. As he approached their bedroom door, a

weak cry sounded and he burst into the room.

His wife laid on the floor, curled in a ball, her blood slowly pooling around her.

He slipped to her side, his hand hovering over her arm as he studied the damage to her

naked flesh. Is she dead? Daniel's breath caught as he moved her dark hair away from

her face. Her unblinking eye stared blankly ahead.

Whimpers issued from her center, and he pushed past her limp arms to find his

daughter struggling to move. A loud cry sprang past her lips as he pulled the babe away

from her mother. So beautiful...always so beautiful...

Pain bloomed in his back, cutting off his breath. His daughter turned to ash,

slipping through his fingers as tears ran down his cheeks. He studied the three prongs

sticking through his chest as hot breath caressed his neck before a deep voice spoke.

"You know when you offered your soul to see them one more time, I thought

this would grow old. But these tears only get sweeter." A tongue snaked out and licked

Daniel's cheek. "Let's go again..."

Daniel sat at the red light his fingers tapping the steering wheel in time with the

song playing from the radio. Man, they sure are playing this song a lot.

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