Short Fiction by Richard Caldwell

The Homecoming Dance

“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,–often the surfeit
of our own behavior,–we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star!”
– from King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2

We waited as long as we could.

Our town lost its power grid three months ago. The satellite signals were the first to go, so everyone freaked out over being shoved offline. But then the cable television, telephone landlines, all of the electricity- it all went down. There had been lots of news stories in the weeks running up to that day, of riots and lawsuits and politicians from different countries threatening to blow each other the hell up. It was a clusterfuck of angry voices, but I wish I had paid closer attention to the details. To the fine print, like Jacob would say. When mom and dad died a week after the blackout, that’s when I started listening more to Jacob. He’s my big brother.

I never really listened to anyone else before, not even the folks. I’d lost interest in school the year before I guess, around the time Jacob was sent off to Juvie for 9 months over assaulting the Vice Principal at our high school. Everyone thought he’d turn out like those Columbine shooters. But he was way smarter than that. I didn’t realize how much until the neighbors broke into our house in the middle of the night looking for food. They had guns. My dad tried to talk sense into them, but everyone panicked so much bullets went flying. Jacob had pulled me into the attic, which saved me from being another corpse like the rest of our family.

After a few days of camping out at home, laying low, we finally set off into the downtown district. Jacob said there’d be generators. All we saw were car wrecks along the way, and lots more dead bodies. Jacob said he had a plan for this sort of thing, that whenever the fit was hitting the shan, his boys were all supposed to meet up behind the school. Considering who his friends were, I was amazed they even knew how to find the school. Almost like a “who’s who” of every guy and girl who’d been expelled in the last 2 or 3 years, they were all there. Most of them anyhow. We’ve been staying here ever since, but tonight we are leaving town, for good. And these young rejects were going to throw a party at the school, the last homecoming, they called it.

I got drunk for the first time tonight. Jacob’s girlfriend Gwen and her brother Craig both showed me how to fire the guns they’d swiped from their uncle (and which had come in handy when bandits had tried to crash our safe zone of Daniel Boone High). Their family was dead too, but Gwen said her mom had killed herself months earlier, when the banks all collapsed and locked up shop. Everyone had a story to tell. Our party had wanted to wait til help arrived, but eventually we all had to accept the facts. Outside of the school grounds, the only life we saw were the sorts who deserved to be locked up in prison. And the strange ships flying ominously through the late night sky.

Jacob says that the world is different now. We won’t have to get jobs or go to school or anything like that, because now the human race is in full-on survival mode, and only the strong will survive. He pumps his fists a lot, and doesn’t seem to ever stand still anymore. I don’t know about tomorrow, but I think that the world is getting what it asked for. Or at least what it deserves. It’s not a politics thing or a religious thing or a culture thing. It’s not even a money thing, really. Everyone wanted to blame someone else for the state of the Fall. I don’t know the details, but I know the big picture. We did it to ourselves. We are the bad guys. And tonight, in celebration, my old school is on fire. We hiked out to the fields behind the school, watching as the flames take down the whole building, easing their flickering way on into the houses across the street. We turn to leave, knowing that eventually the rest of the town will burn as well. It is the last homecoming for this rat-hole, and the only thing dancing is the flames.

• • •

© 2014 Richard Caldwell. All rights reserved.

• • •

Read More

Illustration by Brock Hofer

September 12, 2014 • Artwork, Featured

Heavy Metal is excited to bring you some bloodcurdling images from rockin’ Brock Hofer! Check out his awesome work below and hit his site for more gut-wrenching art!

Short fiction by Konstantine Paradias

September 12, 2014 • Featured

“Shamgar Shroud and the Quasid Emperor” Bound by chains forged from the heart of a dwarf star, enclosed in an dis-entropic shell, contained within an orichalcum casing, held aloft by gravitron beams that reproduced the effects of Magamun’s crushing gravity, Shamgar Shroud was led

Burger King Goes Goth!

September 11, 2014 • Featured, News

Burger King goes ‘goth’ in Japan with their ‘Black Burger’ (and black cheese) Writing abysmal poetic laments, watching The Crow on endless loop, sleeping all day with your sunglasses on, and teasing your hair into a proper Robert Smith ape scrotum explosion can all add up to awfully hungry

"Anna's Grave"

“Anna’s Grave” by Matthew Farrell

September 10, 2014 • Featured, News, Short Stories

Most people believe graves are dug six feet deep, but the fact of the matter is their depth is only four feet, and has been for some time.  An outbreak of plague in 17th Century England set the original mandate of burial depth.   As disease covered the country, laws were passed regarding how to

Heavy Metal and Asylum Press join forces to create horror and sci-fi extravaganza

August 18, 2014 • Featured

Heavy Metal and Asylum Press join forces to create horror and sci-fi extravaganza for issue #271 of the World’s Greatest Illustrated magazine Frank Forte, Publisher at Asylum Press, named guest editor for Heavy Metal #271, gathers together a worldwide talent base to create this astounding issue

Slash and Dine – The Burning

August 13, 2014 • Featured, Videos

It will take you further than fear! Summer is coming to an end, but we can’t possibly let it slide by without talking about one of the best campfire stories out there, The Burning. Out at Camp Blackwood, a group of teenagers decide to play a prank on the camp’s caretaker, but it goes terribly

GWAR’s Brad Roberts on reinventing the band following Dave Brockie’s death

August 5, 2014 • Featured, Music

Metal Insider is your source for breaking metal music news, reviews, analysis and gossip. Starting on Friday, August 15th, GWAR and its fans will be going through something they’ve never done before. While the 5th Annual GWAR-B-Q will take place the following day, it’ll be the first one

Simon and Kirby’s Amazing Comic Book Science Fiction

August 4, 2014 • Artwork, Featured

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were most famous for their superhero comics, notably creating Captain America for Timely, but these two visionaries worked in every comics genre imaginable, including science fiction. Titan Books inaugurated the Simon & Kirby Library in 2009 with the full cooperation of

It’s a Facebook Contest!

July 23, 2014 • Featured, News

Simply scoot on over to Facebook, enter your name and email address to enter. Each week we’ll select one name at random for a FREE 6 month subscription (3 issues). We will not share your email address with anyone. Already a subscriber? No worries! If you win, we’ll add the 3 free issues