by Ahimaz Rajessh

shadow #4

Marilyn Maciel via Creative Commons

In Nazareth—that intricate yet simplified labyrinth—if you were of the kind that walks in twos, eight of its pathways led to the century-old church that Canon Arthur Margoschis (with the aid of hundreds of nameless, faceless coolies) built.

Nine of them, if you count the ten foot wall that divides the boys’ school campus from the church.

If you had been a lamb, or a child with rapacious craving for climbing, running and jumping, or of the kind that is arboreal, you would know a wall is as well a pathway.

After the scarcely attended English church service, out of pure habit or instinct or both, Yesu took the ninth pathway one Sunday night.

Vaulting it with his pole of a foof (a hoof that’s a foot) in a hole that Jebi carved out two decades ago, leaping upon it and landing as he did, ever so quietly (an inch shy of six foot) Yesu raced toward the southern exit, as the never-once-used, derelict basketball court (that marked the beginning of the slow demise of a once-remarkable, now fading institution) under a starlit sky, cast its shadow aslant.


Ahimaz RajesshAhimaz Rajessh has been lately published in Flapperhouse, The Fractured Nuance, 7×20, Cuento, unFold and Pidgeonholes. His writing is forthcoming in Milkfist, theEEEL, and Strange Horizons.

by Jake Walters

Face at the window

David Muir via Creative Commons

The frosted glass made my face a ghost’s, floating between worlds, eyes too wide. What I saw: a goddess in her ripening middle-age, full of love for me, her fingers laced together with an unfamiliar man’s. Seeing her smile, through the cold, a smile hesitant and fleeting. Like she was a free woman, her first day out of jail. If she glanced toward the window, I would step back a foot and disappear. Not completely, but the way a story does when the book is closed.

She never looked. Still I drifted backward, until the darkness swallowed me. Funny how it swallowed me, like sleep at an inappropriate time. You always awaken from such dozing embarrassed, not refreshed. I was embarrassed for her, for the man sitting across from her, for me. And for Dad, drinking his third or fourth Michelob already this evening, wondering where She was. Wondering when I would wander back from working on my Chemistry project at a pretend friend’s house.

As I walked home I tried not to imagine the next time I will be called upon to kiss her: at a bedtime, upon leaving for college, or perhaps only at her funeral. Tried not to imagine the labyrinthine nightmare memories that would conjure.


Jake WaltersJake Walters has been published in several journals. He teaches English in Transylvania.

by Holly Schofield

The familiar tingling began across Mara’s scalp. She grabbed her spacesuit and had both legs in by the time the space station’s klaxon sounded. She’d been preparing for this her whole life. Her father said her inherited precognitive powers would diminish as she matured, but today seemed evidence they were holding steady.

Misplaced Warning

David Goehring via Creative Commons

Suit, helmet, gloves, check.

The other crew members were just beginning to suit up.

The pressure was dropping fast: a hull breach two levels down. Seconds counted. She grabbed the patching kit.
She slammed the hatch shut behind her. No need for anyone else to die. Beside a view port, air screamed through the meteoroid’s thumbsized entry hole.

Sealant, a metal patch, and the shrieking stopped, along with her tingles.

“Just in time.” The captain caught up to her. “How’d you react so fast?”

“Good reflexes, ma’am.” She wasn’t about to reveal her abilities. They had always served her well—calling 911 at age seven before she smelled smoke, being the city’s best teenaged lifeguard, a dozen other averted disasters.

Including this one.

She hid her smile of satisfaction by looking out the viewport, just in time to see the second, much larger, meteoroid hit.

originally published in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, April 2014


Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her fiction has been published in Lightspeed’s “Women Destroy Science Fiction”, Crossed Genres, Tesseracts, and many other venues. Upcoming stories will soon appear in Unlikely Stories’ Coulrophobia anthology, Bundoran Press’s Second Contacts anthology, World Weaver Press’s Scarecrow anthology, and Metasaga’s Futuristica anthology. For more of her work, see http://hollyschofield.wordpress.com/.

by Alison McBain

II-ii

Jaan Altosaar via Creative Commons

I saw her hair first, the same color as the wind-blown clouds. She was wearing only a thin shift, and her skin glittered with a thousand liquid stars, as if she had just bathed in the lake behind her.

She smiled over her shoulder at me, but before I could accept her invitation, I noticed something that sent a sudden chill up my back. Her fingers dipped below the surface of the water, but they caused no ripples in the lake.

I’d never seen a kelpie before, but the villagers had piqued my curiosity with a warning about unexplained drownings—I’d not believed them until now.

Glancing one last time at the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, I forced myself to turn away, my heart singing in agony. Her banshee shriek followed me all the way home and echoed through the many seasons that followed.

Decades later, I still dream of her at night, even though I have never returned to the lake. I dream of her with regret, although it is not my only one.

Twice, she broke my heart.

I was born knowing the ways of the world, with a heart that could resist her malicious magic—an old man’s heart.

I had a son, once. But… his heart was young.


Alison McBainAlison McBain lives in Connecticut with her husband and three daughters. She has over thirty publications, including stories and poems in Flash Fiction Online, Abyss & Apex, and the anthology Frozen Fairy Tales. You can read her blog at alisonmcbain.com or chat with her on Twitter @AlisonMcBain.

by Sierra July

La semilla muere...al germinar

Annais Ferreira via Creative Commons

Mason pricked his finger on a rose and fell onto his back, panting. He was certain he’d enter into a coma like Sleeping Beauty. When sleep didn’t come, he studied his finger. Instead of a red blood pearl at its tip, there was a blue substance.

Without thinking, he licked it. Blackness fell.

It was Chloro who went in to dinner, sat with Mason’s parents, and chatted.

Mason’s parents had never seen their son so talkative and imaginative.

“What were you up to before dinner?” his mother asked. “I saw you playing in the garden.”

“I wasn’t up to anything. As soon as I arrived, I came inside to learn about humans. I’ve only seen your species from a distance.”

Mason’s father laughed. “Still in the middle of a game, huh? Sounds like you’re set for an Earth invasion.”

Chloro nodded and went on talking.

The parents laughed as he described dinosaurs and other extinct animals he’d seen since his birth. Detailed how he lived on soil, sun, and water. How he’d waited for a chance meeting with an organism with legs. The parents laughed on, not suspecting a thing.


Sierra July is a University of Florida graduate, writer, and poet. Her fiction has appeared in Robot and Raygun, T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog, and SpeckLit, among other places, and is forthcoming in Belladonna Publishing’s Strange Little Girls anthology. She blogs at talestotellinpassing.blogspot.com.

by Deborah Walker

Only astronauts from New State China will travel through the Ghost Rift. In the Ghost Rift sleeting particles of dust make the unseen visible. The Chinese have always known that spirits fill the air.

The crew of the Silver Nightingale laugh at the tortuous routes Westerners take to avoid the Rift. They’re surprised, but they’re relieved when quiet Sung Li, the newest recruit, volunteers to pilot the ship.

She watches the crew as they climb silently into the stasis pods. When they wake, they’ll imagine the feel of ghosts lingering on their skins. They will make loud, nervous jokes.

Sung Li dresses in the captain’s uniform. She has travelled far from the factory slums of Neo Shanghai. She has risen like a leaping salmon from the swarms of her contemporaries. Sung Li has travelled a thousand light years from her childhood, and from her mother’s incessant encouragement.

Sung Li watches the approaching Rift through the metal-glass window. She smoothes down the captain’s uniform, and she smiles. Sung Li has travelled far. She is looking forward to meeting the familiar look of her mother’s disapproval.

Milky Way - Full 180 Degree Panorama

inefekt69 via Creative Commons

A version of this story originally appeared in the Dark Stars anthology.


Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration. Her stories have appeared in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Nature’s Futures, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and The Year’s Best SF 18 and have been translated into over a dozen languages.

by Jinapher J. Hoffman

I wade into the water. The boat drifts out further—out of my reach—forever. It’s still on fire, the flames a beacon for lost hope. Ma grips my shoulder, pulling me back.

VikingFuneral8

David Power via Creative Commons

“But, where is he going?” I ask her.

She kneels down and pulls the tips of my fingers to her mouth and kisses them.

I wipe tears from her cheeks. “Don’t worry. Pa said he’d always come back.”

She pulls Pa’s tags from her pocket and puts them around my neck. “Not this time, baby.” She kisses my forehead. “Not this time.”

Her head nuzzles into my shoulder and I stare past her at the empty pasture.

“Ma, where is everyone? Aunt Linda? Cousin Tim?” I pull away from her. “They should be here. Shouldn’t they? They should see Pa off.”

Ma trembles. “Not every hero makes a crowd, baby.” She tugs on my hand. “Come on, let’s go back to the house.”

I shake my head. “I want to watch him go.”

She turns away. She always turns away.

Pa is a blazing dot against the horizon. I reach a hand out, grasping at the flames, but my palm is left empty and the boat is gone.


Jinapher HoffmanJinapher J. Hoffman is the Founder and Writer for her self-named blog, author of the YA Dystopian Thriller Twenty, Co-Founder of Incipient Productions, Scriptwriter, Director, and a current student in Orlando – obtaining a BA in Creative Writing for the Entertainment Business. She’s had some of her short fiction published with 101 Words, Slink Chunk Press, and Flash Fiction Magazine. In her spare time, she is a DH Designs model, cat lover, and attempting to consume less coffee.

by Clive Tern

Sienna’s boots left holes in the soot on the street of her childhood home. The smell of rot and decay wasn’t overpowering, but it was there.

Bootprint

Ron St. Amant via Creative Commons

Voices unheard for over two decades echoed in her ears; ‘Ma, he threw a rock at me!’ ‘Sienna, it’s tea time.’ ‘If you kiss me, you’ll see stars.’

While the voices played inside she looked at the devastation, and continued towards her destination.

Number sixty-seven used to have a blue door and white net curtains at every window. Now it was a ruin. The door and windows were broken through, the roof was tumbled down. Instead of bright cleanliness it wore a suit of grime.

“I’m home,” she thought. “For the first time in twenty years I’m home.”

Home. The word echoed through her, disrupting the memories by fragmenting them into shards which meant nothing, but cut her soul until it bled.

Coming here had been pointless, an exercise in whim to demonstrate power. Still, what was point of authority, if you didn’t abuse it a little?

She unclipped a beacon from her belt and tossed it through the broken doorway. This would be the epicentre of re-terraforming. Humanity could come home.


Clive lives by the sea in rural Cornwall, England, and writes short stories and poetry. He has been published by Zetetic, Pidgeonholes, & The Quarterday Review. Occasionally he blogs about finding writing tough at www.clivetern.com.

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.