by Gregg Chamberlain

Flip Phone

EightBitTony via Creative Commons

“Did your mother teach you that?”

The little girl gave a reluctant nod, looking down at her feet.

Her father frowned. “What have we told you about playing nice with your brother?”

“He asked me!” she retorted, with childish logic.

Her father sighed. “And you can’t fix it, I suppose?”

A defiant frown vanished. The little girl looked back down at the floor, one foot twisting back and forth as if trying to dig through the bedroom carpet. “I tried,” came a muttered frustrated reply.

Her father shook his head, sighed again, and took out a cellphone, flipping it open.

“Sam? It’s me, Phil. Call me back as soon as you can, please. We got a problem. And Sam, when you show AnneMarie how to do something, would you please make sure she knows how to undo it too?”

He snapped the phone shut and tucked it in a pocket. “It’ll be okay, champ,” he said, turning around. “Mom’ll be home soon and fix everything.”

A disgusted grunt was the only reply he got. Snout wrinkled with the effort to hold back tears, a sad-eyed little pig boy looked up at his father, then nodded with a soft snuffling sigh.


Gregg Chamberlain, a community newspaper reporter four decades in the trade, lives in rural Eastern Ontario with his missus and a clowder of four cats who allow their humans the run of the house. Past fiction credits, from microfic to novelette, include webzines like Daily Science Fiction, and NonBinary Review, anthologies like 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories (Asimov, Greenberg, and Carr, editors) and the Alternative Hilarities series from Strange Musings Press, and magazines like Apex and Weirdbook.

by J. Bradley

Fire Extinguisher

Jennifer Luis via Creative Commons

Helen stared at the smoke seeping through the seams of the closed oven door, the fire consuming last night’s pizza box. I opened the front door. The fire extinguisher case was bolted next to the apartment door across the hall. The landlords thought ahead. I freed the fire extinguisher, opened the oven. The kitchen didn’t give me enough space to aim properly. We stumbled through the mist of smoke and sodium bicarbonate, onto the balcony.

Before my father “rescued” us from my mother, he listed all the reasons why we were better off without her: listened to talk radio, sucked her teeth at the dinner table, stole the blanket while they slept, never voted in local elections, believed The Doors were better than Pink Floyd. He said the list gave him the conviction he needed to walk us out of her life.

I looked over at the refrigerator. The sonogram pinned to the freezer door looked like a black and yellow blotch from here.

“My hero,” Helen wrapped her arm around my waist.

When Neil is old enough, I’ll show him my list. He’ll see on the first line: doesn’t look in the oven first before turning it on.


J. BradleyJ. Bradley is the author of the forthcoming story collection, The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016). He lives at iheartfailure.net.