“Foolishness” by Emma Power

Blurring the lines
of reality,
The lady in the lake
Called out to me,
With an odd,
Mermaid-like quality.
I waded in
Quickly, purposely,
With no thought
for my own mortality-
Or any fear
For my sanity.
A fatal error
Unfortunately,
For this eagerness, this foolishness
Was the end of me.
The Fool.jpg

Emma Power loves reading and writing poetry from her home in Manchester, England and has a little obsession with writing ‘Tweetlits’ on Twitter, which can be found on @epower05. Her poems have appeared previously in The Evening Theatre and she has many poems published online, under E Power, on Footballpoets.orgscriggler.com and poetryspace.co.uk. On poetrypulse.com, her poetry has been prize winning, commended or awarded an honourable mention. She also has work forthcoming on lightenup-online.co.uk.

“Pop” by S.S. Sanderson

Her children were elated to learn their mother was the new night manager at a candy factory. The operation was a new one in town, having refitted a shuttered brewery along the river to make gasified, sugary treats. This meant Stacy Jones would work while her children slept, but the opportunity to provide for her family was too great to pass.

Although ownership acquired the brewery and secondhand equipment rather cheap, Stacy was keenly aware that her employers desired to immediately return a profit from their meager investment. Her office was a mess of inventory forms and purchase orders. The main floor of the facility was a haphazard jumble of equipment, supplies, and completed confections.

While she expected a quiet night of paperwork inside her office, her first shift took an inauspicious turn. Just before midnight, an explosion of some short ruptured several pressurized tanks near the back of the facility. Stacy rushed from her office to assess the situation. She heard confused shouting as a sudden wave of flames jumped over stored sacks of sugar. 

Stacy mulled the possible sources of the calamity. As far as potential causes of the blaze and explosion were concerned, the gas canisters and human error topped her list. Unfortunately, she had little time to process her suspicions.

Alarms sounded as the antiquated sprinkler system sputtered to life. Stacy ran toward the back of the main floor, hoping to usher the other employees to safety. She stumbled over the form of Dennis Hosmer. Stacy regained her footing and pulled the man off the ground.

Dennis sported an impressive, purple knot on his forehead. He clumsily put one arm around Stacy. 

“Something caught me right in the head,” Dennis groaned. “A pipe or gauge.” 

Stacy struggled forward toward the emergency exit at the rear of the facility. The sprinkler system played out, and the flames appeared to race her toward the door. She punched the door open with all the strength she could muster. She and Dennis collapsed onto the ballast of the railroad track that ran directly between the factory and the Huxascotch River.

Stacy positioned Dennis off the rails and turned back toward the facility. Her eyes focused on the door just as another explosion blew out the three massive windows along the back wall of the factory. She shielded her face from a rain of glass shards as an entire vat of liquefied sugar and pallets of completed product tumbled through the new openings and onto the rails. The entire area outside the back of the factory was now peppered with sticky metallic equipment and entire crates of candy. She was grateful that Dennis was spared the brunt of this new blast. 

“What about the others?” Dennis asked over the roar of the newly ignited inferno inside. He tried to stand but collapsed backward.

Stacy didn’t have time to respond. She charged back into the building. Hissing gas and encroaching flames immediately greeted her. 

There were three other employees in the factory that night, and Stacy Jones rescued each one.

She pulled Bernie Davis, an elderly man well past the age of retirement, from under several sacks of sugar. Bernie had fallen and couldn’t get up. His age, weight, and the multiple sacks contributed to his inability to escape.

She supported Paula Hughes as both women hurried outside where Dennis and Bernie waited. Paula had serious burns and her uniform was coated in blue raspberry flavoring. Otherwise, Stacy could see that the woman was in no worse condition than the others.

Stacy dragged the unconscious Eunice Jacobs from the floor near a ruptured vat of boiling water. Eunice was in bad shape, but Stacy believed that proper medicinal care would afford Eunice a reasonable recovery.

Stacy lowered the unconscious woman onto the gravel next to Bernie and Paula. Stacy sighed as a new explosion rocketed piping from another vat, pallets of product, and entire cases of vinegar into the chilly night. The aroma of blue raspberry mixed with smoke and formed a scented haze over the group.

“Is everyone okay?” Stacy asked.

“Yes,” Paula said. “I’m burned, but I’ll be okay.”
“I’m fine,” Dennis replied. He had returned to his feet, but he rubbed the discolored mass on his forehead as he spoke.

“I think Eunice will be okay,” Stacy said. “She’s in bad shape, but I think she’ll be okay.”

Bernie didn’t say anything. He seemed distracted. His eyes searched the night along the river.

“I hope,” Dennis said. His voice was challenged by a distant sound. 

Stacy wondered if fire trucks were approaching to battle the flames. She heard the sound a second time. A light appeared in the darkness. As the sound emerged from the distance a third time, Stacy realized that the light and sound were connected.

A locomotive was approaching. Pools of light from a nearby glassworks illuminated the approaching freight train. <

“Come on,” Stacy said to Dennis. “We need to get everyone away from the tracks!”

Stacy helped Paula to her feet. Dennis slipped his arms under Eunice’s shoulders and lifted the unconscious woman off the gravel. Stacy was weary of getting too close to the candy factory, and there wasn’t much space between the tracks and the blown out windows of the rear wall. A blue, sugary mixture was seeping over the ruined window frames. 

“We just need to get out of the way,” Stacy said to Paula. The other woman seemed alarmed. Dennis lowered Eunice back to the ground. 

“I think we have bigger problems,” Dennis woefully observed. “Look at the debris on the tracks. The locomotive is going kick all of that up. We need to get farther away.”

Dennis made a good point. A loud burst from the horn of the lead locomotive seemed to affirm his statement. Bricks, crates, sacks, and scraps of equipment littered the rails. A few pieces of the shattered vats were quite large. 

“Carry Eunice,” Stacy directed. “I’ll get Paula and Bern. We need to get down to the river.”

Dennis scooped Eunice back into his arms. Eunice seemed to rouse with this new movement as Dennis crossed the tracks back toward the river. 

“What happened?” She stammered.

“You’re okay,” Dennis replied. “I’ll explain in a minute.”

Stacy followed close behind, guiding Paula over the gravel. 

Bernie hadn’t moved. He sat in the same spot near the rails. Stacy started to speak to him, but the shrill of the brakes from the locomotive canceled out her voice. 

“Pop,” Bernie muttered. He turned and looked back at Stacy. “That train is hauling pop.”

Although that specific term was falling out of use, Stacy understood what Bernie was saying. Stacy looked down the tracks, beyond the cone of light at the front of the freight train. A familiar red and white pattern appeared on several railcars.

“Oh my god!” Stacy gasped. The freight was hauling soft drinks from a nearby bottling plant. Thousands and thousands of gallons of soda were careening toward a ruined carbonated candy factory.

“Run!” Stacy shouted to Paula. The blue raspberry flavored woman stumbled forward, as Stacy turned to help Bernie. The old man moved slowly, even with the locomotive plainly visible.

Dennis had already managed to get Eunice a few yards out into the slowly flowing Huxascotch River. Paula set a foot into the cold water just as the locomotive struck the first piece of debris.

“Jump!” Stacy screamed. She pushed the old man forward and dove into the water. A deep percussion sound followed her. The slowing locomotive had struck one of the ruptured vats. Subsequent railcars skipped the tracks and ripped through the ballast toward the back of the factory. A fantastic, fizzing, popping, boiling explosion ensued.

Stacy poked her head above the water and rubbed her eyes clear of blue foam floating on the surface. Dennis, Paula, Eunice, and Bernie emerged soon after. 
“Unbelievable,” Stacy muttered. The fizzing foam covered everything in sight. She could hear members of the railroad crew shouting to each other in disbelief.

“You know what?” Dennis asked.

“What?” Stacy responded.

“When you were pulling me out of the factory, all I could think was that the explosion and fire were part one massive insurance scam.”

Stacy nodded.

“Someone is going to be in a lot of trouble,” he continued. “Especially the Food and Drug Administration. This isn’t supposed to actually happen.” Dennis whipped some of the blue foam around in the water.

“Definitely not,” Stacy said with a sigh of relief.

“I really hate blue raspberry candy,” Bernie offered. The old man spoke for everyone.
Train.jpg
S.S. Sanderson (@SSSanderson2) us an amateur author from that special place in America where Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all meet. Otherwise, he lives a life that looks better on paper.

“How to Dress for a Funeral” by Caleb Echterling

A man in a chicken suit staggered into baggage claim at LAX. A thumb and index finger pinched his beak and twisted his head down to sister level. “Couldn’t you dress appropriately for a funeral?” Chicken-man’s sister, in head-to-toe black, glared through narrowed eyelids.

“No can do, sis. I sold everything to follow my dream of being the first person to scale Mount Everest on a unicycle while dressed as a chicken. Which Dad always said he’d derail. Guess he finally kept a promise.” Chicken-man scooped a hard-edged garbage bag from the conga line of suitcases dancing down the conveyor belt.

A guttural growl vibrated from the sister’s larynx. “Too late now. Funeral’s in an hour. We can’t be late. Dad’s last wish was for you to give the eulogy.”

“But Dad hated me and everything I stand for.”

A hand slapped the back of the chicken head. “That’s horrible. Why would you think that?”

“That was the last thing Dad said before I left for Kathmandu.”

An hour later, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, a unicycle carrying a man in a chicken suit whizzed between pews of mourners. The wheel lurched sideways on slick carpet. A feathered bowling ball crashed into lily ten-pins. Chicken-man popped to his feet and spread his wings like Christ the Redeemer. The obligatory ‘ta-da’ went unsaid.

Chicken-man shook water from his feathers. A creased cocktail napkin topped the lectern. He plucked reading glasses from under a wing and wiggled his tail feathers. “All I can say about a man I haven’t spoken to in twenty years is to pass on the best advice he ever gave me. Don’t eat yellow snow.”

Chikcen.jpg

 

Caleb Echterling is a talent scout for the Intercontinental Dust Bunny Rodeo. He tweets funny fiction using the not at all clever handle @CalebEchterling. You can find more of his work at http://www.calebechterling.com.

“A Hunger Overwhelms Him” by Al Matheson

Moonlight full shines its discus sphere,
Upon a bloody boy sat astride the dark,
His naked lips smiling gruesome cheer,
As within a wasted frame jabs his heart.

Unblinking, he stares; he stares unblinking,
Becoming stilled as the shadows formed,
Whilst in mind raging a tempest storms
Cracks of lightning; flashing, thinking;

Thinking, slinking; drinking, sinking;
Like an anchor desperate not to move:
Oh I cannot, I cannot, he thinks thinking,
Yet ever in wanting his pain soothed –

Maybe just one, the little one to sate,
Now he thinks, and he likes the sound.
A guttural beast his stomach growls;
Eyeing up his hand, sealing pinkie’s fate.

Dangling closer the sacrificial limb,
He salivates like a dam burst, drooling;
Collecting a puddle at his toeless feet.
And he doesn’t hesitate, he never did:

Plugging the flow between his teeth,
At once biting down upon the joint;
Hearing the cracks of teeth and bone,
Grossly accompanied by his mewing moan;

Tasting the copper rich blood flow forth,
Gulping eagerly the body’s erotic juice,
Ripping away flesh and sinewy produce,
Until at last the garrotted digit loosed;

Where after a time chewing his prize,
He swallowed down his old snot-picker,
Awaiting then for tears to begin to cry,
Understanding he was getting ever sicker.

For already a new thought felt to arise:
Perhaps, perhaps he thought to himself.
This wouldn’t feel quite so good if next,
If next I chose to feast upon my eyes!

So thought he, sat astride an endless dark,
Where in his wasting frame jabbed a heart,
Gruesome lips smiled at with naked cheer,
Under spotlight of a full-moon’s spear.

Moon

Al Matheson (@AlMatheson_1) is a poet living and writing in the U.K. Who upon occasions, after some mild-combative internal discussions, is known to let his words escape into the wider world at large.

“Change”: Introduction to April Performance

April brings change to our world. Winter releases a seemingly impossible grip on our hemisphere. The winds become warmer. The days become longer. Nature bursts into life.

Change is often a mixed blessing – usually not fully positive or negative. Change can offer calamity or triumph. Change questions our resiliency and mettle. Change brings new opportunities to our doorstep.

Our April performance celebrates change in all possible forms. Change as transition. Change as transformation. Of course, response to change, as well as the occasional resistance, exists at the very heart of this performance. 

The Evening Theatre is proud to present a lineup for April that includes tremendous poetry and prose. Poetry pieces from Al Matheson (@AlMatheson_1) and Emma Power (@epower05) bookend the performance. S.S. Sanderson (@SSSanderson2) delivers a folksy tale with local flare and Caleb Echterling (@CalebEchterling) comically confronts that most morose of all changes – death. 

Amanda Bergloff (@AmandaBergloff) generously provided our feature image for this performance.

The performance lineup for April:

Opening Act – “A Hunger Overwhelms Him” by Al Matheson

The Jester – “How to Dress for a Funeral” by Caleb Echterling

Headliner – “Pop” by Shaw S. Sanderson

The Encore – “Foolishness” by Emma Power

CURTAIN CALL by Amanda Bergloff (1).jpg

“Curtain Call” by Amanda Bergloff

Amanda Bergloff is a surrealist artist whose work has been published in the e-zines, New Myths, The Horror Zine, 200CCs, Firefly Magazine, Enchanted Conversation, and Shotgun! Strange Stories.

March Debut: Introduction

Without further delay (there were more cobwebs to remove than anticipated), The Evening Theatre proudly introduces this debut performance! We have a wondrously superb – and gruesome – double bill slated for your enjoyment. Our contributors to this performance span two continents and multiple countries. Our lineup is bookended with poetry by Emma Power (@epower05) and includes a tremendously misdirecting comedic piece by Maria L. Berg (@authormariaberg). Analogue Robot (@contechnics) has gifted us with a marvelous exploration of automation, mind, and space in “Lone Space Traveller Logs”.

Our double bill features wonderfully crafted short stories by Ryan Sonneville (@r_sonneville) and Joseph S. Pete (@nwi_jsp). The twist of each tale will certainly encourage at least one reread. Our editors very much enjoyed both of these pieces.

Amanda Bergloff (@AmandaBergloff) was kind enough to provide samples of her inspired photography to lend a certain chilly quality to this collection. These images represent the stark contrasts between our individual selections for this performance.

Of course, there is one great truth found within our debut: The Evening Theatre desires to take you on the most unexpected journey possible.

The performance will begin promptly at 10:00pm (EST) this evening, according to the following lineup:

Opening Act – The Awards by Emma Power

First ActLone Space Traveller Logs by Analogue Robot

First Feature“The Accountant and the Polygraph” by Ryan Sonneville

The Jester – “When To Report A Co-Worker” by Maria L. Berg

Second Feature – “Sky King” by Joseph S. Pete

The Encore “Behind the Laughter” by Emma Power

DIMENSION OF SIGHT by Amanda Bergloff

“Dimension of Sight” by Amanda Bergloff  

Amanda Bergloff is a surrealist artist whose work has been published in the e-zines, New Myths, The Horror Zine, 200CCs, Firefly Magazine, Enchanted Conversation, and Shotgun! Strange Stories.

Welcome

cropped-evening-theatre.jpgWelcome to The Evening Theatre. Hold onto your ticket, and we’ll turn down the house lights. Don’t mind the threadbare conditions of this place. We aren’t much for bells and whistles. The balcony can be a bit drafty, that we’ll readily grant you. Just don’t let the chill keep you away. 

Falling somewhere between The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt (or any other number of similar anthologies), The Evening Theatre strives to bring you the scary, strange, and uncanny. We enjoy the occasional laugh and can be campy from time to time, but you’ll find our show is the best thrill you’ve ever had in the dark. 

Our purpose is to pay homage to the great American grindhouses of the past. Practically every town has that dilapidated, deplorable, seedy theater – the one that has long been shuttered to all but a few brazen locals. That’s us. 

Our debut isn’t until March, but feel free to submit to our editors at your convenience. 

So, dust off a chair, take a seat and relax. The curtain is still down, and the show is only just now about to start.