by Laura Roberts

Dancing around the maypole, the elusive rantipole and his egregiously under-dressed trollop were eventually detained by police for public nudity and petty larceny. Shackled and shaking, Peter piped up with plaintive mews, reflecting hues of his twin brother’s trial for crying wolf, and persisting in his delusions of sanity—despite the fact that his hygiene (or lack thereof) suggested otherwise.

Devin at the fair 4

Crysco Photography via Creative Commons

The arresting officer demanded, “Well, young lady, have you anything to say for yourself?”
Peter’s petite accomplice merely sniffed, threw back her shoulders and ignored the porcine grin as the querulous copper manhandled her into the back of the cruiser.

“I’ll have your badge for breakfast!” Peter shouted, as a crowd gathered ’round the car.

“Along with the porridge you swiped from those poor, innocent bears, I’ll wager!” a nearby curmudgeon threw into the mix.

“Lies! Hearsay!” Peter pouted. “Peep, pipe up any time!”

The lovely lady simply smiled and adjusted her lipstick, wanting to make a good impression with her mug shot—sure to grace the morning papers.

The pickled peppers supposedly swiped were never located, thanks to Bo Peep’s strict Kegel regimen.


Laura RobertsLaura Roberts can leg-press an average-sized sumo wrestler, has nearly been drowned off the coast of Hawaii, and tells lies for a living. She is the founding editor of Black Heart Magazine, the San Diego Chapter Leader for the Nonfiction Authors Association, and publishes whatever strikes her fancy at Buttontapper Press. She currently lives in an Apocalypse-proof bunker in sunny SoCal with her artist husband and their literary kitties, and can be found on Twitter @originaloflaura.

by Natalia Theodoridou

It’s a small world, people used to say while I was growing up. It’s what they always say. The small world is made to look larger by the mirror at the end of it—the way you stick a large mirror on the wall of your tiny living room to make it look more comfortable, more spacious, more like you could actually live in it.

I never believed them. I knew that the world couldn’t be this small, that they only said that because it made them feel safe. So I set out to find the mirror at the end of the small world.

The beautiful north.

Runar Eilertsen via Creative Commons

I crossed the tiny cities, the tiny deserts, the tiny seas. I sailed through calm and waves until my boat was greeted by another boat, sailing towards me from the horizon.

We met in the middle of the world, the other man and I. We said hello with a wave of the hand and a nod of the head, a tight, identical smile. Then we turned around and went back where we came from.

Back home, everyone was eager to know the truth. “Well?” they asked. “What happened?”

“It’s a vast, endless world,” I told them. “You were wrong.”


Natalia TheodoridouNatalia Theodoridou is a UK-based media & cultural studies scholar and a writer of strange stories. Her fiction has appeared in KROnline, Clarkesworld, Interfictions, Litro, and elsewhere. Her website is www.natalia-theodoridou.com. Occasionally, she tweets @natalia_theodor.

 

 

by Kyle Hemmings

The boy named Mahlah came upon Alice White sitting alone in a ditch. There was a scattering of ruined barns, miles of hard clumps of dirt. “Why is it,” he asked, “that every time I find you, there is always that moldy grapefruit in your hand?”

Alice spoke without turning around. “It’s not just a moldy grapefruit,” said Alice. Mahlah sat next to her, offered her a carrot with brown spots. She refused.

The Ugli Fruit

Ariel Waldman via Creative Commons

“It’s what’s left of a boy who had beautiful green eyes.”

“Like that boy they once said had polio but had something else?” Mahlah asked.

“No,” said Alice, “It was from the last twister before your family moved into this area. The twister had an infectious pink eye. It spread through the lives of so many. My brother says it gave so many a disease of some kind.”

“No way,” said Malah.

“Yes. It made lives shorter,” said Alice, “mixed our souls with the dirt of the land, the fruits and flowers that will not bloom. All I have of him is this pink moldy grapefruit. At night, he sleeps next to me. I squeeze him and I hear him talk. He says, We all need love but none of us will be saved.”


Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest chapbook is Cat Woman Sexy at Underground Books.

counting III (cc)

Martin Fisch via Creative Commons

Word counts: a phrase that strikes utter apathy in the hearts of people everywhere. Well, most people. If you’re a writer or editor, you probably care (at least some) about word counts. They are a rough measure of the size of a piece of writing, and in shorter works (journal articles, short fiction, etc) they can be a measure of effort for use in paying writers. Typically book-length work is paid based on unit sales and/or other complicated algorithms so it matters less how many words something is once it reaches that scope. Now, determining what lengths qualify as “novel” versus, say, “novella” is a whole other discussion, but let’s focus on the fact that word counts are used to determine relative size and values for works that tend to be collected or anthologized.

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by Nolan Liebert

I had a phonograph once and just one record. It was a very important record. Nobody liked to listen to it except me. It was a shark.

“Listen to this,” I’d say to my friends. I’d put the record on and turn the crank. Out of the horn would come the wet crack and silence of a shark being harpooned. It was followed by a riotous cheer, the zip of the cross-cut saw, the wet flopping of the headless shark, and the helpless struggle suddenly stopping.

“Turn it off,” they’d say. “Nobody wants to hear that.” Or, “We can’t dance to that.”

They didn’t understand. I didn’t want them to dance. I wanted them to listen. Instead, they left and slammed the door.

Know where you're going

Aristocrats-hat via Creative Commons

The recording continued, seemingly forgotten, for some time—sailors shouting, the sound of wooden kegs being cracked, ale sloshing on the deck, laughter, singing. The shark was not in any of this, not from the beginning.
The sounds ended abruptly, much like the shark, but before the end, there were a few minutes of silence, like everyone had gone to bed. All you could hear was the ocean and the sound of the needle scratching the surface.


NolaNolan Liebert hails from the Black Hills where he lives with his wife and children in a house, not a covered wagon. His proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility feeds his obsession with dark matter, as his farmboy roots fed his obsession with plants, herbs, and alchemy. His literary experiments appear or are forthcoming in An Alphabet of Embers, Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, and elsewhere. You can find him editing Pidgeonholes or on Twitter @nliebert.

elmer.

Samantha Celera via Creative Commons

by R.L. Black

It was the last day of school before summer vacation and Ms. Sweet’s first grade class was missing twenty-two bottles of glue. Where had they gone? Had one of the children taken them? Another teacher, perhaps? Ms. Sweet pondered the puzzle but could not come up with a conclusion that made any reasonable sense. What in the world would anyone want with all that glue?

Seven year old Tabitha walked along the sidewalk toward her home with a bulging backpack, a breaking heart, and a plan.
No one had known she was outside the door yesterday afternoon when the family doctor delivered sad news to her parents. It was something a seven year old should not have heard.

“How much longer does my wife have?” Tabitha’s father had asked in a broken voice.

“When will I … when?” Her mother sobbed.

“In the autumn,” the doctor answered in a voice so quiet Tabitha barely heard.

She’d gone to school and asked her teacher when autumn would come.

“When the leaves fall from the trees,” Ms. Sweet said.

Tabitha stopped walking, looked up and around. When the leaves fall from the trees. There were a lot of trees. A lot of leaves. She was going to need more glue.


R. L. BlackR.L. Black is EIC of two online journals and her own writing has been published across the web and in print. Find her at rlblackauthor.tumblr.com where she blogs and reblogs about writing and LOST.