Blue Plate Special - PROMO Blitz
By Harold Kempka
Date Published: June 4, 2013
Hal takes you right to the action in the Blue Plate Special anthology. This compilation of horror flash fiction dips, loops, and twists to churn your gut and draw out your primal fear without lengthy descriptions and back story.
In the anthology’s namesake, “Blue Plate Special,” Billy stops at a roadside café on a lonely, foggy highway. The blue plate special on the menu sounds good and even comes with desert. Yum-yum.
An old woman matches wits with a burglar; while hitchhikers thumb rides and Good Samaritans pick them up. An office worker boards the last train home. Lonely singles, zombies, vampires, and dark sinister creatures bumping in the night further grace the pages, as do unruly children, psychos and the people who love them.
Blue Plate Special contains something for nearly every twisted mind, and in the span of a lunch hour you can read a tale or two. While you head back to work energized, you may even ponder an idea or two about retaliating against your heavy-handed boss.
Billy leaned against the steering wheel, his fatigued eyes trying to follow the white line separating the gravel shoulder from the deserted highway. The soupy fog, however, swallowed up his headlights a few feet past the bumper. Hunger ate at his stomach as he turned the radio dial scanning channels.
“Come on!” he grumbled, hearing only static.
He glanced back at the road. The hazy aura of flashing red lights lit up the darkness ahead. Billy slowed to a near crawl upon reaching the accident scene.
A state police officer stood beside a red flare, flashlight in hand ready to direct traffic. Emergency crews worked at a feverish pace, extricating victims from the smoldering, crumpled vehicles. A paramedic performed CPR on a bloodied, mangled victim thrown onto the road shoulder.
Visualizing the horror of the victim’s incineration, Billy shuddered and hoped they died first. As he drove past, the traffic officer’s deep set eyes bored through him with an indifferent gaze.
The last he heard was a paramedic shouting, “Come on, buddy, breathe!”
A few miles past the carnage, the fog thinned and he accelerated. Up ahead, Billy spotted a neon arrow on a sign pole that impaled a mangled Peterbilt. A placard on the truck’s grill read, Junkyard Café.
Anxious for a hot meal and a brief respite, Billy pulled in. A field littered with rusting, wrecked cars sat in the lot behind the cafe, no doubt the reason for its namesake. He parked alongside a gray Chevy Van in the otherwise empty lot, and walked toward the cafe entrance.
The aroma of hot coffee and greasy hamburgers swirled through the air as he stepped inside. The only other customer was a family hunched over a table tucked against the far wall.
They avoided eye contact as Billy slid into a booth and grabbed the menu off the table. A plump, tired-looking waitress stepped from the kitchen. After wiping her hands on a grease-stained apron, she waddled to his booth.
“It must be my lucky night,” she said. “Crappiest fog in years and I got customers. I’m Lorraine by the way, and not ‘hey you’ or ‘waitress’.”
“Yeah, well…uh, Lorraine I’m lost and hungry. I hope you can help me out on both counts.”
“Uh-huh,” she said poising her pencil over the order pad. “So, do you know what you want or do you need a minute?”
Billy glanced at the special on the menu jacket.
“I’ll have the hot beef sandwich and coffee.”
Lorraine turned toward the kitchen and hollered, “One Blue Plate Special!”
Billy heard muffled laughter in the kitchen. She returned a minute later with his coffee, but disappeared back into the kitchen. He stared through a window toward the junked cars. The bluish flashes of fireflies dotted the darkness.
An older, raggedly dressed couple stepped through the doors and Lorraine hollered, “Hi there! I haven’t seen you two in ages.”
They sat in a booth near Billy. “It’s always good to swing by and see you, Lorraine.”
As other customers straggled in, Louise greeted them in a similar fashion. She stayed busy chatting and filling coffee cups.
Finally, Lorraine returned with his meal. The tantalizing aroma fueled Billy’s hunger. He shoved a forkful of roast beef mixed into his mouth. His stomach welcomed the pleasant warmth.
After a few bites, however, the taste turned rancid. He glanced at his plate, where pile of maggots wriggled among slices of nearly raw flesh. Billy gagged and gulped at his coffee, but spit out the mouthful of warm, coagulating blood.
Billy gasped for air and broke into a sweat. He glanced at the family. Gaping wounds covered their charred and twisted bodies and a pool of dark crimson oozed from beneath their table.
A fetid odor filled the air. He slid from the booth and staggered toward the door. Lorraine and the others watched him through milky eyes set deep in their sockets.
Harold “Hal” Kempka is a former Marine combat veteran and resides in the Inland Empire of Southern California. His post military career revolved around sales and sales management in the graphic art industry, including fine printing paper and packaging. After courses in the creative writing program at UC Riverside he began writing short stories, eventually gravitating toward horror fiction. He has had over one hundred flash and short fiction stories published in magazines, ezines, and anthologies in the U.S. as well as the UK. Hal’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paperback copy of NTD