13DWF Day Nine: "Too Damned Hot" by John Paul Fitch

Our ninth story of The 13 Days of Weird Flash is John Paul Fitch's "Too Damned Hot" from our "Summer '23" release.

13DWF Day Nine: "Too Damned Hot" by John Paul Fitch
John Paul Fitch, author of "Too Damned Hot"

Quick announcement for our Southern California readers: Denise Dumars will be reading her story Čert for the upcoming Winter '24 edition at the Anaheim Central Library at 5pm on Thursday, December 7th:

She will be the featured reader, so don't miss it!

Apologies for the tardiness of today’s weird flash. I re-discovered the hard way that holiday chores have a tendency to multiply like Joe Dante’s gremlins and a simple task to retrieve some chocolates to send to some pals morphed onto trips to the crafts store (needed some creepy paper), the local liquor barn, and a few minutes on the couch absorbing a Lifetime Christmas movie while I tried to figure out what to do next.

(Sidebar: I believe that we need a version of “The Mist” for holiday films. You know, one where the evil developer succeeds in taking over the town, the protagonist returns to the high-paying job in the city, or where we find out that the local town hunk who stayed home is the same guy buying beer for minors. Because, without at least ONE film where it all goes wrong, why should we feel that characters in any other entry into the Daytime Christmas Movie Canon is actually experiencing anything resembling dramatic tension?)

So please forgive my tardiness today and please don’t send a Krampus (or a violent Santa) my way. I promise to do better tomorrow!

Now, with all of that out of the way, I’d like to introduce you to today’s author, John Paul Fitch. John comes to us from Western Australia where he lives with his wife and children. A cinephile, he is an avid fan of the films of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher and David Cronenberg (David’s are the best filmmakers apparently). Today he’s sharing his story “Too Damned Hot” from our Summer ’23 collection. 

Stick around for our Q&A after the story.

Too Damned Hot

John Paul Fitch

 ‘It’s too hot!’ Jethro whines, face flushed, and brow beaten with sweat. His cheeks are dappled with moisture, and it runs off his chin in fat droplets.

That’s the fifth time he’s said the same thing.

‘The less you talk,’ I say, puffing with effort, ‘the quicker we’ll be done.’

The room hoards heat like a crazy lady hoards cats. Sweat runs over my brow. I lay my hatchet on the dirty concrete floor and wipe my face with a latex-gloved hand. Briny moisture stings my eyes.

‘Too damn hot,’ he whines again.

‘Shut up and chop, will ya?’ I spit the words like a cobra. ‘Complaining won’t make this go any quicker. We have a job to do.’


Jethro grips the man’s boot and pulls. The foot comes away with a wet sound, like cloth tearing. He holds it up for me to see, cheeks puffing. His shirt sticks to his flabby chest. The white material shows Jethro’s chest hair underneath and a dark, oval-shaped nipple. He’s fat like a baby. He disgusts me.

The garage has no air-conditioning. Flies gather at the windows, drawn by the fresh scent of death and the spilling of blood. Damn summertime. I prefer winter with its rain and winds and dark afternoon skies.

I stand and lean back on the hood of the truck as Jethro looms over the body and slams the cleaver down onto the torso again. The job snafu’d. Went bad from the first minute. Not our fault but there will be hell to pay for it. Some kid caught a stray bullet. That’s on us, no matter what excuses we have.

Eye for an eye. Them’s the rules.

I move to the fly-furred window and slide it open. They hum in unison as they barrel past me and over me. Jethro waves the hatchet at them as they swirl around him. Droplets of blood spatter the ground. Jethro gasps as he stands, slashing at the black cloud. He doesn’t see me pull the pistol and his mouth O’s when I put the gun to his head.

Jethro was right. It is too damn hot for this kind of work. The target is easier to throw into THE VOID, the pieces of him I can carry in one hand. Jethro is altogether another story. I drag him by the feet and slide him over the edge and watch as the darkness gulps him down. The flies follow him into the blackness. They always do. I don’t even know where THE VOID leads to. Maybe nowhere. It spins in a circle like a hungry mouth. THE VOID tells me it’s been here forever. It eats people.

I strip off my overalls and toss them in. I mop the floor and toss the mop and pail over the edge. I kneel before THE VOID and clear my mind and listen for new orders. Archaic words fill my head.

All the while I can’t help but think:

It’s too damn hot.

Q&A with John Paul Fitch

WFQ: Why do you write weird fiction and when did you start?

JPF: I write Weird Fiction because it seems to be my default setting. It’s the place my work goes to. I’m not a fan of clear cut genre, in fact I feel that genre is redundant in the post-modern age. Stories should go wherever they need to in order to tell themselves and the nebulous nature of The Weird allows my work to do just that. I started writing very young, mostly small pieces to amuse myself, but I started to take it seriously sometime around 2008. I didn’t submit my first piece of work to any magazines until 2013. That story was shortlisted for the Australian Shadows Award the following year. That gave me the idea that maybe I wasn’t bad and maybe I should keep going with it.

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your contributions?

JPF: My literary inspirations are a melange of the usual suspects – Clive Barker, Stephen King, China Mieville, Paul Bowles. Throw in some William S. Burroughs and give it all a shake and pour it through the mesh of my own weird imagination.

WFQ: What do you like most about the 500-word format we use? What do you find most challenging with it?

JPF: I really enjoy the 500 word limit. There’s obviously a challenge of how to grasp a readers attention and hold it for the length of the story. There’s the challenge to build as vivid a world as you can in a short time. Ultimately I feel that flash fiction has made me a better writer. I’ve a tendency to be wordy or verbose in my work. Flash Fiction makes sure you get straight to the point.

WFQ:  If you were made editor for an issue, which theme would you choose to guide a whole WFQ installment?

JPF: If I was editor for an issue, I’d set the theme as ‘HELL’. I’d love to get multiple stories and visions of the place of the damned and the horrors that dwell there.

WFQ: Where else can we read more of your work? Where can we find out more about you?

JPF: Check out my debut short story collection Diabolique My latest novella appears in Occult Detective Magazine #10 and you can find me on Twitter/X as @johnybhoy or on BlueSky as @johnybhoy.bsky.social.

We'll be back tomorrow in a more timely manner. I've heard that if I goof up again, I'll be made into a Lunchable for THE VOID.

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