Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tourist Trap • 2


This week’s Pete Wood Challenge was pretty simple. In keeping with this being the first week of summer here in the northern hemisphere, and therefore of summer vacation season, the challenge was to write a 100-word story centered around the concept of “tourist trap” without resorting to any of the ideas that have become shopworn and threadbare horror movie clichés in the past 60 years. With that as preamble, here are the next two winners, by returning contributors Alicia Hilton and Roxana Arama



“Day Trips to Purgatory: Buy the Total Experience Package!” • by Alicia Hilton

The ticket agent had an axe stuck in her bloody shoulder, but her smile was radiant.

David said, “One total experience.” He pulled out his wallet.

“Pay when you leave.” She handed him a wristband.

David walked towards the River of Fire. The bubbling lava smelled like roofing tar.

He boarded the ferryboat and sat on a bench beside an elderly woman who was sobbing.

David said, “You okay?”

She wiped her tears. “My husband went to Hell. I’m lonely.”

David said, “Day trip? I heard it’s a tourist trap.”

The woman grabbed David and threw him into the lava.

¤     ¤     ¤


Alicia Hilton
is an author, law professor, arbitrator, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic and monsters. Alicia’s recent work has appeared in Akashic Books, Best Indie Speculative Fiction Volume 3, Daily Science Fiction, DreamForge, Litro, Sci Phi Journal, Space and Time, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4, 5 & 6, and elsewhere. She is a member of HWA and SFWA. Her website is https://aliciahilton.com. Follow her on Twitter @aliciahilton01.  



“History is Alive and Well” • by Roxana Arama

Roberto hit metal while digging the firepit for their romantic getaway in the Alps. The small object looked like a weapon, nails sticking out in odd directions.

“A caltrop.” Francesca showed him on her phone. “Lucky we didn’t step on it. The ancient Romans used them to slow the advance of enemy troops.”

“Watch out!” Roberto pulled her from the path of a hurtling boulder that tore through their tent.

Francesca recovered and checked her phone. “Hannibal clashed here with the locals… We’re setting off their old traps!”

Roberto ducked as something swished through the air. “Was that an—”

¤     ¤     ¤

Roxana Arama is a Romanian-American writer and a member of Codex Writers’ Group. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, her work has been acknowledged in several literary contests and magazines, and she maintains the website Rewriting History: How writers turn history into story, and story into history at www.roxanaarama.com. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter at @RoxanaArama.



stupefy (ˈstü-pə-ˌfī) to stun, astonish, or astound

Edited by award-winning author Bruce Bethke, STUPEFYING STORIES is a bold attempt to grow a new general-interest science fiction and fantasy magazine from the ground up. For the past ten years we've been a part-time purely-for-the-love-of-it affair publishing on a wildly erratic schedule, but our goal is to grow to become a regular monthly magazine that pays pro rates—

And here's the radical part: we want to do this not by chasing after foundation grants, asking people to contribute to our crowdfunding campaign, or begging passers-by for spare change, but by selling books and magazines that people LIKE TO READ!

Available on Kindle, in paperback, and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Why not take a minute now to check us out?