by Laura J. Campbell

She wondered if – after you were dead – you ever dreamed of Earth?

scanner

Christopher Rohde via Creative Commons

Her papers whirled through the scanner, giving her a few moments to think. It was usually too hectic to think. But while the machine gave her the opportunity, she looked outside the big office window. It was 5 pm and the commuters were hurrying home. The sky was periwinkle, large cotton ball clouds assaulted by the heavy orange light of the setting sun.

There was a smell of autumn in the air, thick wet leaves falling from the oaks. She had been very upset recently, stress from work, from relationships, from impending holidays. And then she remembered: her father’s last consciousness had been in autumn. Before the cancer had claimed him. Mind, body, spirit.

She had dreamed the night before, her father appearing to her in the dream, speaking comfort and giving her the most reassuring hug she had in years. They say that when you dream of a dead loved one, they are in Heaven thinking about you.

She wondered if the dead remembered the smell of autumn, the wind brushing dead leaves from the trees, the autumn sky becoming heavy with the setting sun. Did the dead dream of the living?

The scanner stopped, its task complete. The world swallowed her again.


Laura J. CampbellLaura Campbell lives and writes in Houston, Texas. She is an internationally published author, with over two dozen short stories published in the dark fiction, horror, and science fiction genres. She also has two novels (Blue Team One and Five Houses) currently in publication. In 2008 she won the James Award for her short science fiction story 416175. Her husband, Patrick, and children, Alexander and Samantha, support and encourage her daily in her writing.

by Carrie Cuinn

The little tree sat out, overhead light reflecting off its shiny, plastic, needles. There were boxes packed full of dishes and clothes, being donated before their departure, but the fake tree didn’t have a destination. Jenny caught her wife looking at it and asked, again, if there was a reason it was still in the living room.

“It was ours,” Sarah said, again. “Everything else is just stuff, but Christmas was ours.” Jenny sat next to her, and put her arm around Sarah’s shoulders. “We can still have holidays in space, baby.” “If we’re assigned to the same ship. If we don’t blow up leaving orbit.”

Christmas Ornament

Gerd Altmann via Public Domain

“That’s the plan, Sarah. We’ll be together.”

“But we won’t have our tree.” Jenny smiled a little, and pulled Sarah into a hug. “I will find you a new tree.”

“You’re going to find me a Christmas tree. In space.”

“If that’s what you need to feel better about going, yes, yes I will.”

They both smiled at that, and Sarah relaxed, leaning in toward Jenny.

“We’re really doing this, aren’t we? Leaving everything behind.”

“Everything but each other.”

“Goodbye, Christmas tree,” Sarah said. “Take care of the Earth for us while we’re gone.”


Carrie CuinnCarrie Cuinn is an author, editor, college student, and geek. In her spare time she works toward a degree in Creative Writing, listens to music, watches indie films, cooks everything, reads voraciously, and sometimes gets enough sleep. Find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at http://carriecuinn.com.

by Sean Mulroy

One night, when seas were high, a bright red crab was washed upon the shoreline of a giant city.

Untitled

Ken-ichi Ueda via Creative Commons

At first the crab was angry at being swept from his home and friends, but then, whilst scuttling back into the surf, he looked above the tide and saw the moon. Awestruck the crab stayed onshore till morning when the pale orb was replaced by a garish sun. He wept.

The night after seas were high and again the crab was swept ashore. This time, however, he was not angry. On the morrow seas were calm but the crab found himself on the beach anyway.

Friends noticed his absence and pondered where he kept going every night. But the crab was a jealous fellow and kept his midnight wanderings secret.

Many tides and moons later, the crab being old and weak-sighted now, he snuck ashore. Having lost his once excellent sense of direction, for the first time, he accidentally faced east—not west—at the ocean. Startled he beheld many moons, countless bright lights, and what’s more they were low, within reach.

Immediately he scuttled sidewise towards them, uncertain whether he’d reach one, but thinking the risk worth it for a closer look at the unattainable.


Sean Mulroy lives in Newcastle, Australia. His short fiction has previously been published in Oblong, Every Day Fiction, and WitchWorks, among other venues.

by Charles Hayes

Plying the warm waters of a shadowed Sea, speckled with spits of froth and reflected starlight, we ride the ferry for the lost and found. Our crowded cots, tiered across an open deck, pitch and roll, lifting our smell as one, from stem to stern. Legs akimbo with slippered feet, grow across the tiny aisles, bodies hidden by the sacks that haul our life.

Edmonds Ferry at Sunset

Michael Matti via Creative Commons

On the move, going from crumb to crumb, visions of better fare, or to only home somewhere, our nods of passage show, as the knocking screw calls the tune. Sometimes we wander to the rail and stare beyond. If a light of life be seen, suspicions of how its table fairs, or what its bed beholds, float among our spray. Looking along the rail, another’s eye to see, table or bed is quick to know.

With dawn and a port that calls, we rise like Jack’s stalk, among the humps of baggage, mount our loads, as if super ants we be, and string along the plank, to melt into the life we know. Crumb by crumb, visions of a knocking lullaby safely tucked away.


Charles Hayes, a Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and others.

by Jena Krumrine

Pulling out my cell phone I checked the time to see how much longer I had. My mother required me to spend an hour a day with Grandma Thomas while she was visiting and I still had twenty-five minutes left. Once again she was talking to me about life and all I could think of was being old enough to do what I wanted.

“I can’t wait to grow up,” I sighed, feeling her leathery skin touch my hand.

“Don’t be in such a rush to grow up little Lizzy,” Grandma coughed. “Enjoy your childhood. Be free and wild, make mistakes, and have your heart broken a few times.”

“Grandma what are you talking about?” I rolled my eyes.

Old Working Hands

Carmen Zuniga via Creative Commons

“Life is short, you don’t usually realize it till you are older though,” she sighed, “when more years are behind you then ahead.”

“Grandma,” I began as concern over took me, “are you okay?”

“Oh little Lizzy,” she patted my hand, “I love you my dear child.”

“I love you too Grandma,” I threw my arms around her, “I really do.”

“I know you do, dear child. Now, go play I’ll tell your mother you put in your time.”

“Actually Grandma,” I took her hand in mine, “I’d like to hang with you a little longer.”


Jena KrumrineJena was born in Pennsylvania is now a resident of Oklahoma. A mother of two and Aunt to many, she holds an Associate Degree in Child Development as well as a Bachelor in English, emphases on writing. She is the founder and co-owner of Madd Dog Creations, a company that houses Crosshairs Photography, Mutts and Mics, among others. She is currently back in college to obtain another Bachelor in Art and hopes to open an animal shelter. She is the author of maddvillage.com, where readers can get to know more about her.

by Alyson Rhodes

Crow

katieb50 via Creative Commons

We were strolling around the cloisters when we first noticed the crow.

It was just perched on the stone wall with its head cocked. It seemed to be watching us.

A black garbed reminder of the legions of dead monks who’d prayed here.

“Shoo.” Mum flapped her hands at it.

Billy chucked a stone. Mum told him off. “Show some respect.”

Wherever we walked in the cathedral grounds the crow came with us. An avian shadow.

It made me feel goose bumpy and a bit sick. Billy of course made a game of it, talking about crow pie for tea.

We wandered inside to gaze at knights’ tombs and jewel like stained glass windows. Which was when I remembered Grandma telling me years ago, “The crows know.”

She’d been dead a little while by then. I had never really understood Gran’s sayings.

The memory grew and ripened though. That night while our little household slept I went to her wooden chest and unearthed her cloak of feathers. It was an heirloom; the birds’ plumages interwoven. Fabulously glossy light catchers.

The crow was waiting for me outside. I perched on the six foot garden wall, wrapped the feathery mantle around me and took flight towards the cathedral spire.

It’s a family tradition.


Alyson originally trained as a teacher/tutor who wrote children’s books/poetry as a hobby. Fast forward to 2016, she now lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire. She writes mainly noir Flash Fiction (some of it has been published on line) and spooky tales, and is also writing a Y.A. novel. She lives with her partner, teen son, and 3 rescue cats. Alyson is a confirmed chocoholic and still hopeless at maths.

Her work has appeared on Tubeflash; The Casket of Fictional Delights; Bunbury Press; 101words.org; United Jotters; Paragraph Planet; and won 2nd prize in an ‘On The Premises’ mini flash contest. Flash fiction story appearing in Raging Aardvark’s Twisted Tales anthology in November; winner of Daggerville games monthly FF comp and shortlisted in other comps. Alyson is publishing her children’s book ‘The Runaway Umbrella’ on Kindle in the autumn.

by Alice Pow

The ghost waltzed through the table, body passing through wood, leading a missing partner.

“I’ve tried speaking to her, but she only dances,” the elderly woman said, staring at the ghost. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

“Is it always the waltz?” Ellen held a digital camera, chrome red with yellow highlighting. The camera’s display showed the dining room: the table, bare; photographs, framed against the wall’s white paint; but no phantom.

music box

Lindley Ashline via Creative Commons

Overlooking the camera, Ellen watched the dancing woman step in time without music.

“Just the same at eight each morning for the past month,” Ellen’s client said. Eyeglasses hung round her neck by a thin chain. “Oh, but only on weekdays.”

Ellen arranged her camera on the dresser behind her. She pointed it towards the dancer and stepped away. The camera sat alongside an ornate box on the otherwise vacant surface. She opened the box and a melody drizzled out like soft rain. A waltz.

The dancer moved in time with the romantic tune.

“Mrs. Doe,” Ellen said, “where did you get this music box?”

Mrs. Doe did not answer immediately. Dancer and music had captivated her.

Eyes transfixed, she said, “I found that box with some of my wife’s things. It’s been so long. I didn’t realize. She was so much older when we met.”


Alice Pow

A creative writing major with a journalism minor at Bradley University, Alice loves linguistics, ukuleles, and long talks about humanity’s place in existence with relation to God, the universe, and the greater cosmos as a whole. More of her work can be found in Bradley University’s Broadside Magazine and on her blog: 50wordsaday.tumblr.com.

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 Isobel Horsburgh

A Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes

August Brill via Creative Commons

She only came back for funerals. This was worrying, as nobody was known to be dead or dying right now. There was a certain amount of looking sideways at the people on the shortlist, though.

She’d been seen at the station in a dark, tight-fitting suit, heels and a little pillbox hat with a veil. She never had any luggage, and nobody knew where she slept while she was in Cleaburn. She never stayed more than a single night, and though she appeared at the graveside, she never came back to the house. Some said you didn’t see her in the church either, though others said she sat at the back, alone, not singing.

She’d gone away as Judy and come back as Juniper. There were photos, village events at which she must have been present, but her face seemed always to be out of shot or out of focus, turning away from the lens. She was variously said to be a quiet girl running from a bad family, or the wild one from a respectable home.

 When the station closed, years ago, they thought she’d stop coming. She won’t, until everyone she knew here is put under the ground.


Isobel Horsburgh lives in North East England and used to be a long-term carer. She now does casual work in libraries. Her stories have appeared in SpaceSquid, Devilfish Review, The Drabble, The Casket and InkBlink.

by E.N. Loizis

Shattered

Jenny Hudson via Creative Commons

His words cut with blunt edges. The wounds were deep, infected by a poison she couldn’t describe. It lingered on the skin and burned its way through her flesh, until it reached bone and nested quietly.

She had known this kind of torture before. Her mother’s idea of playtime was testing how much Willow’s body could take. The secret was to inflict as much pain as possible without leaving traces for the nosy neighbours to talk about. The surface wounds left barely a mark but the memories simmered in the marrow, eating away at her slowly.

It was the same now. He didn’t use a plastic tube like her mother. His weapon of choice was skilfully chosen, sophisticated, the kind you bought with years of higher education, learning about art, history, philosophy and so many other things she couldn’t possibly comprehend. 

He spoke and his tongue cut her to pieces, fragments sent flying. She would chase after them, try to pick them up, save all she could. But somehow, something was always missing.

She never told him that though. She never did admit to being broken, held together by scotch tape and feeble hope. She never showed him her Frankenstein heart, always wanting more than it could get.


E.N. LoizisE.N. Loizis is a Greek writer trapped inside the body of a technical translator who lives in Germany with her husband und baby daughter. Her stories have appeared in Maudlin House, Apocrypha & Abstractions and Pidgeonholes. You can find her at enloizis.com and https://www.facebook.com/enloizis.