Guilty conscience

“Guilty!” the judge declares.

I lose all feeling in my legs.

My sister helps me up, and I watch, through tears, the bailiff handcuff Michael and guide him to the door left of the defendant’s bench.

He doesn’t take one glace back at me.

“This can’t be happening,” I say breathlessly. “I can’t let him go to prison for something I did.”

“Shut up!” she snaps. “What’s done is done. Let’s go.”

But I can’t move. Because the man in my freezer isn’t the first. And with Michael locked away, what will happen to me when the next one dies?

© Nortina Simmons

Desperate housewife

Woman in Red Dress Leaning on the Wall

Waiting outside his hotel room, I feel desperate. This defeats the whole purpose of a one-night stand.

“No strings,” I told him with slurred speech.

But I’m sober now.

My husband is dead.

And I need an alibi.

Like I said, I’m desperate.

When the door opens, I straighten against the wall. He jumps when he sees me.

“Oh, it’s you.”

I should be relieved he remembers me.

“I need you to say you were with me last night.”

He scoffs. “I’m late for a conference.” He puts on his blazer and sidesteps me. But I’m desperate, so I follow.

© Nortina Simmons

A longer fleshed-out version of this story (or maybe even a serial) could be in the works. 😉 Let me know what you think.

Death in Death Valley

I’m not imagining the man in black. He’s wearing a long coat and wide brim hat, entirely too hot for a walk in Death Valley.

When Brian tells me there’s nothing there, at risk of looking crazy, I approach the man that only I can see. His face is hidden in shadow.

He tells me his name is Death.

“Will you kill me, Mr. Death?”

He shakes his head. “I only deliver souls.”

“Then who?” But before he can answer, I feel Brians fingers around my neck.

The man lifts his hat, and I see the face of my dad.

© Nortina Simmons


“Do you remember what happened?” the officer pressed.

It was their wedding anniversary. He’d worked late the night before and overslept. She spent the day seething while he lay in bed blissfully asleep.

The knife was already in his heart when the doorbell rang, the delivery boy apologizing profusely for being late.

“The flower food will bring them right back, promise,” he said, flapping the square packet.

When the police arrived, the vase the bouquet came in was shattered on the floor. The roses were as dead as he was.

The officer placed her in handcuffs. “Guess you should’ve waited.”

© Nortina Simmons 

Insane asylum patient #13

She liked to set things on fire. The final victim, a young poet, secret admirer.

He wrote her a poem on parchment, slipped it under her door.

roses are red, like
the polish on your nails, like
the blood in my veins—
my heart beats for you as I
muster the courage to say...

“I love you,” he finished. He couldn’t help it, had to invite himself in to see her reaction.

“Would you like to burn?” she asked.

His pulse quickened. “Yes!”

She crumpled the paper, stuffed it in his mouth, struck a match, watched him light with passion.

© Nortina Simmons

Duplicitous lover

I lie back and sprinkle tiny flower petals on my neck and shoulder.

I tell him they are edible. “Come have a taste.”

He licks them off of me, planting a trail of quick wet kisses until he reaches my mouth. I bite down on my bottom lip.

“Don’t stop,” I say, but he’s convulsing, his eyes bulging, veins in his neck popping. He stumbles backward, gasping for air, and then I remember.

Aren’t oleanders poisonous?”

I’m laughing as his mouth struggles to form an answer. I close it, and his eyes too, as his body starts to go still.

© Nortina Simmons 


Detective Maye has seen it dozens of times before. Stockholm syndrome. When the victim develops an affection for her captor.

He holds his hand out for the feral child hiding under the kitchen sink. If not for her wide marble eyes, glowing like orbs in the darkness, he would think no one is there.

He shines his flashlight inside. Compared to the photo he keeps in his chest pocket, she is unrecognizable. Gone is the fair-skinned angel with the free-flowing blond hair. Her skin is caked in dirt, hair a dingy orange collected in one unkempt knot atop her head. The t-shirt she wears barely covers her. She folds herself like an accordion amongst the kitchen chemicals, no bigger than a bottle of bleach.

Maye curls his fingers into his palm to draw her out. “Come on. He can’t hurt you anymore.” But then he wonders how many times this man has promised not to hurt her.

He stuffs his hands in his pockets, and child psychologist, Dr. Pridget, steps in front of him, opens her arms like a doting mother.

“You’re safe now.”

Maye thinks it’s working. The child emerges. All skin and bones, falling hair and ripped fabric. She shields her eyes to the flashing of CSI cameras. Pridget moves to hug her, but the girl drops her shoulder. On hands and knees, she crawls across the floor, between Maye and Pridget’s feet, exposing everything the shirt doesn’t conceal to everyone in the room.

A sickness in Maye’s gut tells him she’s used to being naked around men, she’s used to the heaviness of their hands, the tightness of their beer guts pressed hard against her fragile body.

They watch as she does what she’s had to do to survive for the last six months—curl herself underneath the sinking chest of the now dead man who killed her childhood, t-shirt soaked in both of their bloods.

© Nortina Simmons

This flash piece was originally published September 15, 2017, and features Detective Frank Maye, a character from my Lost Boy work in progress.

Something about the bride…

The wedding was perfect. Her dress fit perfectly. Her mascara didn’t run when she cried reading her vows. There were no objections—she feared there might be at least one—and the caterer was on time.

Now as they waltz their first dance together as man and wife in the center of the reception hall, surrounded by adoring family and loving friends, she whispers in his ear, “I’m gonna eat you up.”

He chuckles. He doesn’t know.

 Later that night, in their honeymoon suite, she mounts him and bares her fangs, drawing first blood with a nibble on the neck.

© Nortina Simmons

Murder in the basement

I haven’t slept in days. I keep thinking about what he said.

“If you love me, you’ll accept this part of me.”

Mama warned me about men who begin sentences with “If you love me…”

If Mama were here, she would’ve never let me marry him. Mama had this sixth sense about her. She could smell the evil on people.

I unluckily inherited my father’s desperation to appease. It’s why I lie in this bed alone, unable to ignore the screams from the basement below.

“Just hurry up and finish,” I find myself saying, “so I can get some rest.”

© Nortina Simmons 

A familiar motel

Bates Motel "Vacancy" neon sign

If not for the echo of pelting rain on the metal roof, I wouldn’t have heard her knocking. When I open the door, I first see the bright red umbrella. She slowly raises it to reveal lips just as red.

Do you have a vacancy?” She speaks softly, seductively.

“Oh, we have 12 vacancies—12 cabins, 12 vacancies,” I say, but given that she’s a woman alone and I do run this motel with my mother, she may not find that humorous.

“Norman, who’s at the door?” my mother calls from the office.

“Just a customer.” I guide her inside.


Does this scene sound familiar?