Issue #2
June 21, 2013

   This week in SHOWCASE
Featured Stories
   Elves Are Douchebags
   by Robert Lowell Russell
   The Millionth Soul by Franziska Louise
   Muscle the Menhir by Robert Bagnall
   The Key by Joy Bernardo
Columns, Cruft, and Filler
   Badger & Vole Review:
   Man of Steel
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by Joy Bernardo


“It’s just one of those random keys that you find laying around your house,” I explained to Rachel. The cop walked slowly to my driver’s door. I looked up into his aviator’s. My reflection sneered back at me.

“Just keep it under sixty,” he said into my cleavage, as he handed back my license and registration.

“It doesn’t look familiar?” Rachel asked me, turning the key over and over in her hand.

“No, it’s been here since I bought the car from Mrs. Steadman a couple of months ago.” I rolled up my window, took a deep breath, and handed Rachel my registration.

“That creepy old lady that lived down the block? The one with the cat that used to poop in your front yard?” Rachel asked.

“Yeah, she sold me this car before she moved. I just haven’t gotten around to cleaning out the glove box yet.”

“Isn’t that house still vacant?” Rachel looked at me. Then, without waiting for my answer, “Let’s go see what it opens! I bet we can sneak in and find out what this key is for.” I looked at her in disapproval. “Aren’t you curious?” she asked.

“Let’s just go home and watch the movie,” I said pulling into the road.

“All right,” Rachel said, putting the key and registration back in the glove box.

When we got back to my house, I made a bee line for the phone. “What kind of pizza do you want?” I asked.

“What if it opens a trunk with buried treasure in it?” Rachel squealed.

I laughed. “No, really, what kind of pizza do you want?”

“What if it opens…a door to a different dimension?”

“What if…we get pepperoni?” I smiled.

“It could open up a mystery like maybe she’s trapped in the attic.”

“She can’t be trapped in the attic if I saw her before she moved away. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Come on! It’ll be fun. I’ll call Ramsay and we can—”

“Fine,” I interrupted. “We’ll go to the house after dinner,” I snapped. “Now, what kind of pizza do you want?”


The front door to Mrs. Steadman’s house was unlocked.

“Well isn’t that convenient,” Rachel giggled. She tiptoed through the hallway, sneaking a peak in every room as she passed it. “All of her stuff is still here. I thought you said that she moved away.” she turned to me. I shrugged. We continued poking around downstairs.

“Mrs. Steadman?” I called up the stairs.

“Oh my God, what’s that smell?” Rachel began to gag. Her hand instantly covered her mouth.

“It’s getting stronger,” I said, walking up the stairwell.

“Ugh,” she gagged again. We made our way onto the landing of the second story. There were three closed doors to greet us. Oh, and Mrs. Steadman’s dead cat.

“Gross,” I said, stepping over the poor animal. We tiptoed to the first door.

The room sat empty, except for a closet set into the wall adjacent to the door. In it sat a big wooden trunk with a padlock on it. We looked at each other. Rachel took the key out of her pocket and made her way to the closet. With a click and a creek, the trunk lid flew open.

“Oh my God…”

She backpedaled away from the trunk, falling over herself.

“What is it?” I asked. Sweat began to form on my temples. I stepped towards the trunk. Mrs. Steadman looked up at me from inside. The side of her head looked like Gallagher had gone after it with the Sledge-O-Matic.

“I thought…you said…but how…Oh my God.” Rachel scurried to the other side of the room and promptly threw up the pepperoni pizza.

I huddled next to her. “What do we do?” I asked.

“We have to call the cops,” Rachel spurted out, as she regained her composure.

“I don’t get it. How did I get the key? I mean, if she’s in there, how’d she put the key in my glove box?”

“Maybe she sent it to you from the grave…”

Rachel looked up at me.

“Oh yeah,” I laughed. “Because that’s completely rational.” I smiled.

“What other explanation do you have?” she said, peering into the box.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, walking towards the closet. My hand wrapped around the baseball bat that I had tucked away behind the closet door.  Mrs. Steadman’s blood was still crusted on the end of it.

I guess I’d never gotten around to cleaning that, either…




JoyBernardo is a writer, student for life, daughter, friend, artist, nerd, movie-lover, avid coffee drinker, obsessive reader, professional freelance writer, and girl. She is still learning how to use a semicolon properly and frequently likes to break the rules for sentence fragments. Cause they're awesome. And short. Just like her.

You can reach her on her blog (, on tumblr (, or on facebook ( If you can’t reach her at any of those places, she’s probably out in the middle of the a tent...talking to little, furry woodland creatures.