by Liam Hogan

I force myself to meet the cleaning staff’s bemused gaze. “If I were you,” I say, “I’d go home, climb into bed, and not emerge for a week.”

I don’t tell them the banknotes I’ve handed out will have no value come dawn.

Picking up a half empty bottle from a confetti strewn table, I totter from the Ballroom, Mia following in my wake.

In the empty corridor, Mia wraps her arms around me as I shudder and quake, buffeted by memories of what is about to happen.

“Why do you stay with me?” I ask, “Why not try and change your fate?”

She kisses my forehead. “You are my fate,” she says. “You’ve convinced me of that much.” She glances towards the Ballroom, the scene of such recent joy, celebrations of a New Year. “Do you—does your advice—save any of them?”

Stale air claws at my throat. “I don’t know. After… there are no records, no traces.”

“Yet still you try,” she nods. “Where to now?”

I wish I could share her serenity, wish I didn’t know her future. “To Parliament Hill,” I say, “We watch it burn, you and I.”

“Come then.” She plucks the warm bottle from my grasp, takes a sip and grimaces. “But let’s leave this behind.”


Liam HoganLiam is a London based writer and host of the award winning monthly literary event, Liars’ League.
He was a finalist in Sci-Fest LA’s Roswell Award 2015 and has had work published at DailyScienceFiction and in Sci-Phi Journal. More via http://happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk/.

by Kathryn McBride

He caught up to her outside, lit her cigarette before his own. They stood close, silent at first, keeping warm beneath the glow of the marquee.

“Do you remember our first apartment?”

Waikiki Beach Silhouettes at Sunset

Andy via Creative Commons

She thought for a moment, “Of course. The tiny cottage by the beach.”

“It was tiny, wasn’t it? The kitchen was practically in our bedroom.”

“Didn’t matter to us then. Remember the smell of the ocean?”

“We’d leave the windows open every day, that salty breeze billowing through the sheers.”

“That’s how the stray cat got in.”

“But never left. Windows wide open, she chose to stay.”

“Tell me what else you remember.”

“Lazy nights tangled up in bed. Tasting moonlight on your shoulders. And you?”

“Waves crashing against the shore. Making love with the ebb and flow of the tide.”

“In time, the sea’s rhythm kept pace with the ebb and flow of us. Our love changed an ocean.”

Inside the lobby, the lights dimmed twice. She left their cottage first. At the bar, she took her husband’s arm and disappeared into the theatre. The stranger watched her go, fed the cat, closed the windows. Once inside, he returned to the stage, still brushing sand from his feet as the curtain parted.


Kathryn McBrideKathryn McBride is the author of an anthology of short stories currently featured in a boxed set (literally a set of boxes) under her bed. She is delighted to finally let them see the light of day. She welcomes feedback and craft beer suggestions @finishwhatyou.

by Christina Dalcher

Three weeks

Your last meal at the base camp was spaghetti, bread, carbs carbs carbs. You remember only names, not tastes. Your last meal ever is Bob, whose name you remember and whose taste you’d rather forget. Good old protein-rich Bob. He’s taken you this far. Wherever this far is.

Three days

Ice experimets

Michele Cannone via Creative Commons

Your last match flickers and sputters and…Shit. That was your last match. Necessary for melting all that gorgeous powder around you. Maybe not necessary. Do not eat the snow. Do not eat the snow. Repeat this until you no longer want to eat the snow, knowing you will end up eating the snow.

Three hours

Your last block breaks the shelter’s back and you start again on the walls with hands hard as shovel blades but not quite as useful. At nightfall, you settle for a trench. A shallow, icy cocoon that feels unpleasantly like a coffin. Or pleasantly. Hard to tell the difference.

Three minutes

Your last word (Mommy, not God) stifles itself under a heavy, sliding blanket. In your mind is a mountain, a camp, a friend, spaghetti. You recite the rule of three and think how lovely it is that you will only need to wait three minutes before all thinking stops.


Christina DalcherChristina Dalcher is a linguist, novelist, and flash fiction addict from The Land of Styron. She is currently matriculating at the Read Every Word Stephen King Wrote MFA program, which she invented. Find her at ChristinaDalcher.com or @CVDalcher. Or hiding in a cupboard above the stairs. Or read her short work in Zetetic, Pidgeonholes, and Syntax & Salt, among other corners of the literary ether.

by Alethea Eason

Kingsgate Arch

Graham Ó Síodhacháin via Creative Commons

An angel of light came to the night woods, searching for what was unobtainable in his Heaven. He had never ventured to my paradise before and arrived with guardians, though his brothers must have told him not to be afraid. His three holy wolves bared their alabaster fangs as I approached, my Nereid shell opening to woman form. But when I spread my own ribbed wings and beckoned, they whimpered and lay at my feet.

“You are far from home,” I whispered, and kissed his rigid jaw. “How sad there is no sex in your heaven, no fertile soil, no animal flesh.”

The wolves cried for they too were made of light. I sensed their sad longing for the pack, earthly memories of pups licking their faces and the taste of prey on their tongues.

My wings touched his and he sighed. We mated in the aqua sky; starlight shining upon virgin trees, amid a thousand fireflies burning through the ecstasy of their short lives. He now carries my child—angels are like seahorses that way—and has returned to his paradise. I descend to roots and the sweet decay of matter bearing life in a much different way.


Alethea EasonAlethea Eason is a writer, artist, and teacher who lives in Northern California. She has written the young-adult novels Hungry (HarperCollins) and Heron’s Path (Spectacle MPG).

by C.C. Russell

Snow Kiss

Claus Tom Christensen via Creative Commons

This is the moment I want to remember kissing you. We’re standing in the parking lot in the middle of an ice storm. You have on your Evil Dead sweatshirt with the hood up, your bangs struggling out of the pulled drawstring. We’re saying goodbye as things freeze around us and this is the moment I want to remember it happening.

Not after we’ve talked it over a thousand times. Not after we’ve decided that it is wrong but that it just might be worth it after all. Not after we’ve convinced ourselves that nothing will happen even though we already know that something unstoppable already has. Not after we’ve decided on any course of action.

I want to remember it happening now. You start to get into your car and stop, looking back up at me. It’s a purely filmic moment, a scripted event; framed and lit by the concentric glows of streetlights reflecting a sheen over everything, everything iced over. I want to remember it happening now because it has to happen. Now. Before everything changes. Before this moment passes into the next and we’re nothing but opposing glares of headlight over ice-glazed streets, two beacons leading away from each other. Before this moment is over. Now. Like this.


C.C. RussellC.C. Russell lives in Casper, Wyoming with his wife and daughter. His writing has recently appeared in such places as Tahoma Literary Review, Word Riot, Rattle, and The Colorado Review. His short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net. He has held jobs in a wide range of vocations—everything from graveyard shift convenience store clerk to retail management with stops along the way as dive bar dj and swimming pool maintenance. He has also lived in New York and Ohio. He can be found on Twitter @c_c_russell.

by Garth Pettersen

Elskar Fyr (High Tide)

Susanna Majuri with permission from the artist

Her hand dipped into the icy cold Atlantic. By reflex, she raised her arms above the surface, as the seawater rose higher up her legs—a form of escape, of avoiding—stupid, she thought, still not letting go, after all that has happened.

Her searching feet found the rocks that tried to trip her; had she not snatched up her track shoes at the last moment, the barnacles would have ripped her bare soles raw. The irritant sand between toes fell subordinate to the Atlantic cold.

The water licked her stomach, an invasion of modesty of her own choosing. The tide now surged between the soon-to-be-submerged rock islets, swinging her wet shift to one side, making the fabric cling form-fitting on the other.

Slow and careful stepping brought her closer to the small lighthouse. If he were there, she would survive this. The edifice of his will would be enough. And if the lighthouse lay empty, then at least she would be safe. For now.

Unless her father found a boat.


Garth Pettersen is a Canadian writer whose stories have been published or accepted for publication in Queen Anne’s Revenge, The Opening Line Literary ‘Zine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, and in anthologies published by Main Street Rag, Zimbell House, and Horrified Press. Read his blogs on writing at www.garthpettersen.com or follow him on twitter @garpet011.

by Jessica Walker

It's A New Day | Red Meets Blue

Ashley Adcox via Creative Commons

“Don’t leave.”

“Sweetie, I have to.” My daughter’s fingernails left crescent moons tattooed into my skin.

“Please.”

“We’ve talked about this. Why does Mommy have to go?”

“To protect me.”

“And all the other little children.”

“Like Maggie from kindergarten?” Ice tinkled inside her sippy cup. “But not Ellen. She hogs the crayons.”

“Even Ellen, honey.”

She seemed to weigh whether my departure was worth protecting her nemesis. “Will you bring me back a teddy bear?”

“I don’t think they have teddy bears there, but I’ll find something.”

“Christmas present!”

“Let’s make it a surprise. We don’t need a holiday to give a gift sometimes.”

A horn beeped outside. Cinderella’s carriage waited. If only a prince was the prize, and not another tour overseas in a desert far, far away. I slid my feet into my boots, and swung my bag over my shoulder. How long until my hands—which had softened from washing dishes and playing teatime—hugged a rifle’s trigger with ease?

“Be nice to Daddy, okay?” I kissed her, breathing in the aroma of baby powder and freshly cut grass.

She stood with her thumb in her mouth. No smile, no hug.

The taxi drove halfway down the street before the ice inside me cracked, and the tears poured.


Jessica WalkerJessica Walker is a writer who uses fiction to make sense of the world. She has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Eye Contact, and Corvus Review. Her best work happens with a cup of coffee in hand.

by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

Green Shades

Evelyn Berg via Creative Commons

When I saw you I saw you with laser-beam sight as I left Empenadas by Stella still singing; I sang my girl’s name and I knew all my light was projected in open-faced stance; as one sinning, her car coat swung in; I pushed open her door; my right hand slipped smoothly along her warm waist, unspooling her laughter, my hand finding more, I could sense my wife passing, my tongue knew her taste and I thought about standing and stammering saying but she is so warm and so firm and so willing – a true son of Belleville, a Belleville worth slaying, whose gold in the palm runs unmelted and chilling –  a moment a minute I feign an excuse, my tongue all a-tumble, unthreaded as Theseus now tired of treading a labyrinth life that reduced me to eyes seeing only the clew… in New York in your bed over more royal tread do I hear the train hear the train hear the train take you but trailing behind were those shining steel threads that were caught in the caught in the stairs’ endless climb; I will pin down your pines, then, Oh Minna: I’ll break you.


Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber has fiction in SmokeLong QuarterlyNew SouthThe Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Shotgun Honey, and she is a Best Small Fictions 2016 Finalist. She reads for Pithead Chapel, reviews for Change Seven Magazine, and is writing her first novel. Follow her @AEWeisgerber, or visit anneweisgerber.com

by m.nicole.r.wildhood

Balloons

Matthew Peoples via Creative Commons

The first week, my classmates brought their parents in to tell us about their jobs themselves. One girl’s mom is a cop who catches moms like mine wandering the streets in teetering heels and jewelry around their wrists and necks that clatters like teeth in cold. Ms. Shaeffer decorated with balloons and streamer paper that tasted like stale salt.

The second week was for the kids whose parents couldn’t come. Like me. We had to tell our peers about what are parents did to keep us fed. The red and blue and green streamers are still up, though they’re drooping like frowns, and the balloons are heavy looking. Ms. Shaeffer doesn’t understand why I don’t want to share and moves a bouquet of tired green and purple balloons next to me at the front of the room, smiling like my grandma before she forces a spoon of cod liver oil into my mouth every morning at breakfast.

In front of the class, I gag just like that, but as silently as I can. We have to talk for seven minutes. The only thing I can think to say is how my dad splits stones and digs ditches by the roads and how my mom loves any man who needs it.


m.nicole.r.wildhoodm.nicole.r.wildhood is a Colorado native who has been living in Seattle—and missing the sun—since 2006. She has been a saxophone player and registered scuba diver for over half her life.  In addition to blogging at http://megan.thewildhoods.com, she writes poetry, fiction and short nonfiction, which have appeared in The Atlantic, xoJane, The Atticus ReviewFive and elsewhere. She currently writes for Seattle’s street newspaper Real Change and is at work on a novel, two chapbooks (one in Spanish) and two full-length poetry volumes.

by Howard Rachen

It perched in the weeping willow like a vulture.

Moon Over Pamlico

Jim Liestman via Creative Commons

When the moon arched its highest, the house lay dark. An hour later clouds drifted across the bone-white crescent in the sky, plunging the yard into the deepest of shadows. Only then did it climbed free and prowl across the side yard.

In the back, just over the air conditioning unit, the creature sank claws into the outer wall. It scuttled like a lizard, the only sound the tiny crinkling squeaks of the aluminum siding rending beneath its nails. Small, agile digits scratched and worried at the window until with a shudder the unlocked glass slid up. The screen peeled away like a stubborn cobweb.

With a spider’s artful silence it slid through the window, avoiding toys on the floor as it settled into a crouch. The creature unfolded and crept to the bed.

It peeled back the covers and slinked inside.

Until the sky began to lighten in the east the creature lay curled around its teddy bear, surrounded by the toys it had once knew and the memories growing harder to hold each night.


Howard loves horror. When not writing spine-tingling tales, he sits as an Associate Editor for EMP Publishing. Aside from wringing words of wicked wrath, he writes fantasy under another name.