by Russell Hemmell

Herrnhut, 1732. We’ve stayed up all night in the freezing Lusatian spring, the brothers and I. Easter lilies in our hands—pious offering to an already sated graveyard. The new plague arrived and struck like the old ones, like the ruthless hand of an angry deity, leaving behind lifeless bodies and despair. The poorest of the village have died first as they always do, and so did Eve.

karina y via Creative Commons

I stare in silence at the dark forest on my way to the God’s Acre, for an early-morning service and hymns to the Saviour. Today, I carry more than just rosary and torchlight.

“Eve will join us, Hermann.”

“Eve is dead.”

“Today is the day of the Resurrection. If your faith is strong, she’ll rise too. In spirit, brother.”

Or maybe you’ll follow her—in flesh, brother, I murmur, observing the congregation united in prayer. All of you, who had let her die.

Stepping away in silence—unseen in the crepuscular light, my feet on the frosted grass—I lock the cemetery’s gate, and unleash hell.

Fire creeps up, igniting the wood bundles that crown the burial ground like prayer beads, and suddenly spreads, fast and mortal. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, guilty to the innocent—and mercy for no one.


Alien from Mintaka snuggled into a (consenting) human host. Requests for contact and wormhole-powered space travels @SPBianchini.

by Katta Hules

with my heart on my sleeve

Wendy Brolga via Creative Commons

Bruises cover your arms like the smudges of red and purple lipstick around your mouth. Your fingers shake around the brown glass bottle. The Xs drawn on your hands washed off enough that the bartender didn’t even ask for ID. You’re glad, if there was ever a night you needed the alcohol, this is it.

No one knows who you are. You’re just another girl alone at the bar. The band plays behind you, some sort of caustic electropop. The volume makes the stool vibrate under you and another night you might find it pleasant. Tonight it makes you nauseous.

A man sits next to you. You cross your legs, the faint friction of your tights reminding you of the abrasions they hide. He looks at you, noticing the bruises even in the dim light of the bar.

“You okay?”

You shrug. “It’s done.”

He nods and pats your knee, ignoring your wince. “The first is always the worst.”

You take another swig and inspect the blood under your nails. Even your fingers feel sore. “It’s over. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

He grins and pulls you into a one armed hug. “That’s my girl.”

“Yeah, well.” Your lips twitch. “You should’ve seen the other guy.”


Katta HulesKatta Hules is an artist and a writer currently based in California. She is an Editor at TUBE. Magazine, and a freelance journalist for Arcadia Weekly. She is in the throes working on her first novel.

by Danielle Dreger

Lorelei (age 4)

Project 365

Alan Kleina Mendes via Creative Commons

  • Fix spaceship with Jenna
  • Run through sprinkler with Jenna
  • Dance party with Jenna

Lorelei (age 10)

  • Finish Jenna’s present
  • Buy backpack like Jenna’s
  • Take Babysitting course

Lorelei (age 13)

  • English essay on Romeo and Juliet
  • Kiss a boy — Adam? Marcus? Steven? Adam?
  • Buy jeans like Jenna’s

Lorelei (age 17)

  • Finish applications/essays
  • Lose virginity – Adam? Marcus? Steven? Marcus?
  • Get highlights like Jenna’s

Lorelei (age 21)

  • Internship at law firm
  • Break up with Marcus for Steven?
  • See psychic

Lorelei (age 26)

  • Pass Bar Exam
  • Forgive Jenna and Steve?

Lorelei (age 28)

  • Get fitted for dress
  • Write wedding toast for Jenna and Steve

Lorelei (age 35)

  • Apply for Brazil visa with Jenna
  • Get Brazilian wax

Lorelei (age 37)

  • Pay last student loan/quit job
  • Borrow boots from Jenna
  • Meet Adam for cocktails

Lorelei (age 38)

  • Buy prenatal vitamins
  • Finish writing vows (and Adam’s)
  • Present for Jenna

Lorelei (age 55)

  • Sign up for triathlon with Jenna
  • Add Adam Jr. to car insurance
  • Hire divorce attorney

Lorelei (age 67)

  • Travel to Nepal with Jenna
  • Book club pick
  • Plan Adam Jr.’s rehearsal dinner
  • Start chemo

Lorelei (age 89)

  • Eulogy at Jenna’s funeral
  • Miss Jenna terribly
  • Miss Jenna horribly
  • Miss Jenna dreadfully

Danielle Dreger-BabbittDanielle Dreger wears many (baseball) hats. By day she is a teen librarian north of Seattle and by night she is a YA writer of stories set in the humid hell of Central Florida. Danielle spent her formative years in the Tampa Bay area driving into neighborhood signs, breaking curfew, and writing bad poetry before moving to Boston to become a librarian. She now hangs her Tampa Bay Rays hat in Seattle. Her short stories have appeared in Stratus, Driftless Review and Fiction Fix. She can be found online at www.danielledreger.com and Twitter @danielledregerb.

by Davian Aw

100313TricycleGardens-11

Maggie McCain via Creative Commons

Tom finished the injection and watched her face with bated breath, searching Mara’s lifeless eyes for a flicker of awareness. He grasped her hand, hoping for warmth, but his wife’s body remained as cold and still as it had been since the day she died.

Five minutes passed. Ten. Thirty-five. Rain pattered on the tent of the makeshift laboratory standing stubbornly amidst the sleeping graves.

Tom pulled away with a wretched sob. Fifteen attempts. Fifteen failures. He let out a yell and swung his arm at all his useless, useless science. Test tubes and beakers crashed to the ground. Solutions bled into the soil. A year he had worked, since they’d got the diagnosis; a year, and all of it come to naught.

He collapsed by the coffin and gripped its edge in trembling desperation.

“Mara,” he begged. “Wake up. Please. Come back to me, Mara, please, please…”

She did not respond. Tom swallowed down tears. He touched her face in final caress and left a quavering kiss upon the cold skin.

He pulled the heavy lid back over the coffin and picked up the shovel to bury his wife.

Mara still did not move nor make a sound.

She couldn’t. But she was trying.

She was trying very, very, hard to scream.


Davian AwDavian Aw’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Stone Telling, Star*Line and Plasma Frequency. He lives in Singapore, and is the proud owner of a tomato plant with no tomatoes on it. Some of his published writing is linked over at https://davianaw.wordpress.com/writing/

by R. S. Pyne

Eva looked terrible.

morning

M&S Weiss via Creative Commons

“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked, looking at her puffy, red-rimmed eyes and haggard features. She had always been so beautiful, expertly made up and not a hair out of place. In the early days of friendship, I was jealous of her, envying the fact that she appeared to glide serenely though everyday life. She was the swan on the surface of the water, but I felt more like the legs paddling like hell beneath it.

Everything seemed so easy for her. When I got to know her better, she trusted me enough to let her guard down – to show the real Eva who had worked so hard to mask her insecurity. If anything, she had even less self confidence than I did but she did a better job of hiding it.

She muttered an excuse but I saw the thick bandages on both wrists – clear evidence she had tried to take the easy way out.

“Let me help,” I said. She stared out of the window as if expecting the Grim Reaper to make a house call.

She wanted oblivion but I refused to give it to her.


R. S. Pyne is a short story writer/research micropalaeontologist from West Wales. Previous credits include Bête Noire, Albedo One, Aurora Wolf, Neo-opsis, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Christmas is dead..Again – a Zombie Anthology and others.

by Monika McGreal Viola

Mad Hat Variation 6

Michelle Robinson via Creative Commons

The remembrance of time not yet passed pulls her under as she laments the loss of her youth. She picks at her cuticles and scrolls down her Twitter, keening for the moments in the days before. And the coldness of the people makes her angry, and she mouths mutely to those frosted life forms, Do You Not Know How You Behave, can you not melt out your hearts, please give back to the world the empathy it has lost… her hollow howl, again and again and againagainagain, hastening the thud and flickering the eyelid, and she’s swallowed whole, hole holee holeee, falling down into it, Alice before she’s met the Mad Hatter, the Mad Hatter before he’s accepted his bipolar disorder, sinking lower together, sipping their tea and eating their crumpets, all the time asking the world to find some balance, to breathe hard into the plastic tube while squeezing with thumb and index finger — please, follow the instructions — puffing and wheezing, each attempt sucking air out of the lukewarm night, driving her dizzy, dizzy like the lecherous lilt of the world as she slides sideways down her seat, lamenting the mornings where problems were contended, where the following of white rabbits ended in triumph over red queens.


Monika McGreal ViolaMonika McGreal Viola’s work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos, AZURE, Icarus, Thirteen Ways Magazine, PennUnion, and Common Ties. Her poetry also has been twice shortlisted for the Fish Anthology Poetry Prize. Find her at www.monikamcgrealviola.com

by Anne E. Johnson

N- ALGOMA WI.

James Stutzman via Creative Commons

Not a soul heard my mournful keening. As I swept across the foggy moors, the banshee’s cries swirled in my mouth. Her pitchless shrieks overpowered my own voice. I was merely silent wind, carrying another’s sound.

Moon after moon I labored, bearing the harbinger of death to huddled mortals. “Ayyyeee!” the banshee howled.

At last I could withstand this shame no more. “You are not my better,” I warned the noisy spirit. “My moans are as frightening as yours.”

“No,” she argued. “Wind is my servant. My shrieks foretell death. You carry me, nothing more.”

“Behold,” I said. I blew a roaring gale and cracked homes in half. Swinging off to sea, I pushed the swollen waves ashore, drowning a village. When my anger subsided, people wept and buried their unexpected dead.

“Where was your warning cry?” I asked the banshee. “All these deaths, and no sound from you.”

The banshee lowered her hell-black eyes. “You are right, wind,” she said. “I depend on you to be heard.”

Now we cry together, the banshee and I. When you walk the moors, you’ll hear our wails, high and low, twisting around each other. And you’ll know death is near.


Anne E. JohnsonAnne E. Johnson lives in Brooklyn. Her short speculative fiction has appeared in Alternate Hilarities, Urban Fantasy Magazine, FrostFire Worlds, Shelter of Daylight, The Future Fire, Liquid Imagination, and elsewhere. Her series of humorous science fiction novels, The Webrid Chronicles, has been described as a cross between Douglas Adams and Raymond Chandler. Her most recent books are the YA adventure novel, Space Surfers, and a collection of children’s stories, Things from Other Worlds. Learn more on her website, http://anneejohnson.com. Follow her on Twitter @AnneEJohnson.

by Steve Spalding

بسرعة! - 27

Abdulla Al Muhairi via Creative Commons

This is a piece of flash fiction written in an Indiana hotel room on 2 hours of sleep. 

In it there’s a protagonist – probably male, probably angry. Male because the author finds cheap, male rage easy to tap into. Angry because dramatic engines don’t grow on trees. 

He’s in hate with someone he loves, and flits between the axes with all the grace of a drunken gymnast with inner ear disease. Melodrama masquerades as conflict, every tear spilled in service of word count. 

The author holds back the target of our man’s love addled ravings, both because he’s convinced you’ll never see it coming, and because if he didn’t, he’d have dangerously little plot to pull a real ending out of. 

Not to worry, our hero says something edgy and becomes an anti-hero in the span of a paragraph – we love him even more now because he’s suddenly as complex as we’ve always believed we were. We pray that he can fix in 200 words what our lives haven’t in twenty years. 

It all ends with a lesson, something trite and universal that makes us feel literate, while at the same time giving lie to the fact that we’ve absorbed, into our immortal souls, the spiritual equivalent of a double cheeseburger. 

And in case you were wondering, our man was in love with a robot, and you never saw it coming.


Steve SpaldingWriter of words, lover of fiction, dabbler in data, builder of web things—Steve also helps companies sell stuff. At the beginning of 2016, he promised himself to write one short story every weekday for a year, we’ll see how that goes.

http://thecoldstorage.com/

https://twitter.com/sbspalding/

by James A. Miller

Commander Adams,

My time as Head Baker aboard Station Imperion has been enjoyable, so it is with heavy heart, I resign.

Flour

cbertel via Creative Commons

These are good! Probably the best Christmas cookies I’ve ever made.

December 21st, 2057 will be my final day. I leave the kitchen in the capable hands of Nicol Truefsky. His work as apprentice over the past two years is commendable.

Maybe just one more. So sweet and light, must be the Glutovian flour–wherever did Nicol find it?

While, in my option, Nicol lacks the prerequisite education to be Head Baker, his experience will allow him to temporarily fill the position until a suitable replacement is found.

I just can’t stop eating these. Down you go little gingerbread man. I can catch you, yes I can. And your brother and your cousin…

Sincerely,

Edwin Dorchester

I finished them. Need more.

As Edwin rose from the chair, Glutovian microbes hidden in the cookies’ flour reached their saturation point and instantly collapsed his ample body into a pile of fine white powder. Nicol entered moments later, sweeping what was left of his boss into flour sacks.

He edited Edwin’s resignation—ever so slightly—before hitting “send.”


James A. MillerDuring the day, James A. Miller works as an Electrical Engineer in Madison WI. At night, he spends time with his family and does his best to come up with fun and creative fiction. He is a first reader for Allegory e-zine and member of the Codex writer’s group. He also has two cats but will resist the urge to say anything cute or witty about them here. He blogs at https://breakingintothecraft.wordpress.com/.

Drink me

~Zoe~ via Creative Commons

by Anne Lawrence Bradshaw

In the evenings, the gin would have taken effect, and the barbed words drawling from your tongue sounded smooth from over-use. I was cursed for never being the shock of red you’d wanted to see. I was a monster, something you’d always longed to sluice away.

Your eyes would be glass when I tucked you under your blanket, your bruised legs purple, so cold. A thin trickle of saliva would dribble down your chin, marking your blouse. I would wipe your mouth with a tissue, throw it in the bin.

But the heavy scent of juniper lingered. Sometimes I would lift the near empty bottle, tipping the dregs into my mouth. I’d wait a few seconds for the familiar bitterness to coalesce. How it burnt, leaving nothing but the afterglow of a perfumed sigh.

One night, as the other kids played in the dusk outside, I sat in the half-light, felt myself change. It was a moment, a sordid understanding that I was just grit between your teeth. You would rather spit me out than make me into a pearl.

As the moon rose over the house, I felt myself drift, go with it. One by one, the stars pricked the underbelly of night, while I sat, listening to you breathe.


Anne Lawrwnce BradshawAnne Lawrence Bradshaw writes poems and short stories. She lives in a dilapidated cottage near Hadrian’s Wall, drinks too much tea and walks a lot. Tweet her @shrewdbanana.