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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-seven PROTRUSION



eople in the neighborhood were being murdered. With a piece of 2x4 with a rusty nail sticking out of it, apparently.

“Crazy,” John said.

When John went to work he forgot about it, and then at lunch people would be talking and he would remember and bring it up.

“With a rusty nail.”



“How many?”

“Two, I guess.”

One evening on the news it was three.

“Someone who was alone,” said Charlotte. “It’s always someone alone.”

So he was watching.

When you arrived home, or walked by a window, or stood in the back doorway looking out, someone could be watching you.

John went to work. It was three now. With a rusty nail.

A rusty nail was nasty. Sticking out of a board ninety percent submerged in half-stagnant water like in the canal that ran behind their house and all the houses on that side of the street; playing in and around the canal with no shoes and stepping on it. That’d get you an infection and a few days of soaking it in saltwater until both you and mom could see the red streak starting a slow ascent from the bottom of your foot and a trip to the hospital where the doctor doesn’t have a spray because it hasn’t been invented yet and your mother tells you to think of a soft, furry kitty and the doctor digs in the hole in your foot with metal tweezers and no anesthetic while you scream.

And there is no kitty.

A rusty nail could be bad.

Charlotte was a good one. He’d been lucky to find her. Damn lucky.

Women want to be men because men have the advantage until a situation arises where women have the advantage and then they want to be women again.

A rusty nail can be bad. Sticking out of a water-soaked board and stuck into a face and the whole thing hanging down like a picture on a wall or a potted plant from a hook.




Heath Callahan is an American author living in Southwest Florida. He is currently working towards an MA in Literary Linguistics by Web-based Distance Learning at the University of Nottingham. He writes both literary fiction and genre fiction, with a focus on horror and the experimental.

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