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"What's the Shake?" By Amanda Sablak

The scent of lilac on the breeze when I left the house was my first hint. I’d never gotten over the illness that struck me at the age of twelve. It would take hold even during the slightest seasonal changes, ripping through my senses first, and then the shake. Five minutes after leaving the house the symptoms began. The inside of my nose burned, as though I'd been sniffing cayenne, and began to trickle blood toward my lips.

My eyes itched with a sandy irritation. Scalp tightening, my straight hair curled. The skin on my palms became slimy and tingled with pins and needles. Then the shake began at my feet causing my toes to curl and uncurl tightly. Moved its way up my legs, forcing hairs to protrude through once smooth pores. I felt it in my veins and arteries, each trembling and pulsating under my skin. My stomach was next, painful cramping sending me to my knees; and my lungs, tingling at first, but then trembling and forcing shallow breaths of hyperventilation. I knew my long battle would soon end.

I had remained in the backyard, far enough to make it impossible to return indoors if I chickened out. The shake took full hold as I lie on the grass, my body responding to harsh allergens. My unaffected eyes glared up toward the azure sky and cotton clouds. The shake died off as I drew a final serene breath.

"Naturally Decapitated" By John Stoner

Paul stood under the tree, his back to the wind. Light fluffy snow that transformed the forest into a beautiful winter scene. Paul wasn’t here for the vista; he was here for bear.

The snow proved beneficial and within the hour he had found tracks. The experienced hunter followed the tracks for some time; the woods grew denser. Daylight faded quickly as evening closed in and soon Paul could barely see the tracks anymore. He knew the situation was now dangerous. He turned back to head towards the remote hunting lodge. Paul felt that he was now the prey.

He scanned into the fading twilight straining to see any sign of wild creature. He began to slowly move, as silently as he could with his rifle, backpack and gear. Paul couldn’t tell what direction it came from, but he readied his weapon. The ferocity of the attack was only matched by the awesome strength of the bear. The rifle now lay unfired next to his corpse.

The bear separated torso and skull in one swipe with its massive claws. After a careful examination of the scene and an autopsy, the coroner’s official cause of death was natural decapitation.

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