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 Ville Meriläinen

Ladder

David Alliet via Creative Commons

It was the end of the world as we knew it, but some things never changed. You were always a hopeless romantic, and I hated to let you down. When I said we should start thinking of tying the knot, you thought I meant something sweet, so instead of a noose I got you that ring you were eyeing before all this shit went down.

I took you to the old church and we sat on the roof watching stars and the city teeming with the dead and listening to their growls and the song of nightingales in the park. It was then I realised I hadn’t thought this through. We exchanged vows with no way out.

You asked, “Does it count as consummation if zombies climb ladders and we’re royally screwed?” I’d never seen them do much anything than shamble on without purpose, but I guess we’d find out in time. We were supposed to be home by now. I hadn’t brought any food or water, just some rope.

I wrapped my arm around you and told you, “If zombies climb ladders and death tries to do us apart, we’ll tie our hands together and walk as one forever.”


Ville Meriläinen is a Finnish twenty-something student and a miscreant of the arts, with a penchant for bittersweet stories and a passion for death metal. His noir fantasy novella, Spider Mafia, is available at amazon.com for the perusal of anyone who ever wondered what might happen if cats in suits had to save the world from spider wizards.

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 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.

 

 

 

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 Georgene Smith Goodin

Cupid's Span

darwin Bell via Creative Commons

I’m on Fourth Street when the radio cackles. Active shooter at the middle school. My heart boings. The wife and I made Jimmy go to the Valentine’s dance.

I throw on my siren and flip a bitch. Cop’s prerogative. A perimeter’s being established when I screech into the parking lot.

“What’ve we got?” I ask the captain.

“Whack job with a crossbow.” He motions the SWAT team into place. “Jimmy in there?”

“Yeah. Violet?”

“Yep.”

A succession of clicks, guns being cocked.

The hostage negotiator uses a bullhorn. “Lay down your weapon and come out with your hands up.”

The gym door creaks open. Out comes a guy sporting a diaper. His chubby cheeks rival Jimmy’s baby pics. His curls are angelic.

“You’ve got this all wrong,” he says.

The SWAT team hauls him off while the rest of us clear the building. All we find is a toy bow and arrow.

The kids slink out in a disorderly line, sulking instead of relieved.

I run to Jimmy. “Glad you’re okay,” I say. “Anybody hurt?”

He nods at Violet clinging to his arm. “I think she needs a doctor.”

“I’m fine,” she says, starry-eyed, and strokes his face.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Georgene Smith Goodin’s work has appeared in numerous publications, and has won the “Mash Stories” flash fiction competition. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the cartoonist Robert Goodin. When not writing, she is restoring a 1909 Craftsman bungalow with obsessive attention to historic detail. Visit her blog, or follow her on Twitter, @gsmithgoodin.

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.