by Dominic Daley

The Year I Made My Comeback

Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons

Eric gasped awake. He had been sleeping. Was it sleep? He remembered his arm sliding down the edge of his hospital bed sheets, the IV tugging at his wrist.

He was at the edge of a small blue room. In front of him, a staircase disappeared upwards, and a wooden table stood to his left. Eric gathered himself, got to his feet and saw that there was a sheet of paper on the tabletop, with words inscribed upon it in cursive and a ballpoint pen to one side. He looked closer.

Consider your life,

it read.

Ask yourself:

Did you do all you wanted?

Was there anything you would change?

Was it alright to have been you?

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Eric considered a moment. Then he crossed out the first and the last questions and wrote beneath the second:

A little less third-period maths. A few more friends.

Better brakes on mountain bikes.

And an easier way to shave without getting spots on your chin.

Then he took the stairs.

Dominic DaleyDominic Daley is a final year student from the U.K. His work has appeared in Songs of Eretz Poetry, Urban Fantasist – Grievous Angel, MicroHorror, Hellnotes, and 365tomorrows. He has a twitter (@APierAppears) and a WordPress.

by Anna Hawkins

“Long ago, mankind walked the earth beneath a young sun, and we prospered. But no more.” The Emperor stared into a holocorder, his face expressionless. His image was being projected to every receiver on the planet.

“Our transports will be leaving soon.” The Emperor took a deep breath. He was helpless to save these people. The Council’s breeding programs would not allow it. He turned away from the holocorder, listening to a voice muttering offscreen.

“My Lord Emperor,” the voice said, “Your transport is waiting.”

I’ve betrayed them, the Emperor thought as he turned back to the holocorder.

rno via Creative Commons

“I am so sorry,” he whispered. A tear traced its way down his cheek. “I would not have it be this way.” He balled his hands into fists to stop their shaking. “I would take you all with me.” His tears were flowing freely now. Men and women across the Earth cried with him, in sadness and in anger. The offscreen voice spoke again.

“My Lord! It’s time.”

The Emperor’s face hardened, but his eyes remained wet. People from Council-approved genetic lineages would flee aboard their interstellar transport, leaving billions behind. They might find a new planet to call home, but was it worth this?

The Emperor stood and saluted as the broadcast ended.

Anna Hawkins is a graduate student at the University of Houston working on a Ph.D. in plant community ecology. In her spare time, she likes to write science fiction, fill her walls with her own paintings, and take care of her collection of weird houseplants. She’s currently working on her first novel.

by Anne E. Johnson


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, Follow her on Twitter @AnneEJohnson.

by Vajra Chandrasekera

They (find you out and they) make you do it. You (have no option but to parley, to) put your cock in the wolf’s mouth one last time, to be dwarfed on the great tongue. The teeth prick. You grab handfuls of fur (as if) to fuck the mouth that will one day eat the sun but you (throw your head back because you) can’t meet his piss-yellow leer. Your balls are (cold and) burning tight, and whether (or not) you’re flaccid only you and the wolf know.

night wolf

Steve Loya via Creative Commons

They begin the rope bondage while you look the grinning wolf in the mouth, in the eye. (The rope chafes: the root and sinew pinch, the beard itches, the spit and silence irritates.) You’re waiting for that first gloaming of suspicion, the twilit moment when (it all goes sour and fast and hot, and) the war ends, peace in your time, ceasefire in yellow and red seeds seeping into the earth to be ploughed by downed swords. You’re waiting to be found out again.

Later, when they tell this story, they’ll (think they’re taking pity on you when they) say it was your right hand.


Vajra ChandrasekeraVajra Chandrasekera is from Colombo, Sri Lanka. If you liked this, you should also try his stories in Flapperhouse, Grievous Angel and Three-Lobed Burning Eye.