by T. L. Sherwood

Mambo is outside, talking to my kids about going back to school or getting his GED. “I drop out, they gotta let me drop in.”

I nod at his reasoning and cut another slice of cheese. There’s a nick in the blade, each piece has a ragged line. Mambo won’t care. Last week he said, “Doesn’t affect the taste none.”

Tony Cypert via Creative Commons

Jonah, my youngest, tells a joke. I can tell because no one answers right and when he says the punchline, he is the only one laughing. Paula’s next words drip with sarcasm. I want to smack that mouth of hers sometimes. It sounds just like my own, and I know what pain it caused.

I toss some crackers on the plate and go out to the porch. They swoop in like bees to a bloom. Mambo, a bumblebee; mine hungry wasps.

“Damn, this is good, Missus J.” Mambo’s thanks is better than a cat call back in my tight ass high tit days.

“Glad you like it.” I look across the street, a similar after-school connection is being done over there, using Cheetos instead, the easy way.

I say, “You kids got homework?” They shift, moan, go upstairs.

I take Mambo back to my room. We start with orals; he earns his bachelor’s degree.

T. L. SherwoodT. L. Sherwood is the Assistant Editor of r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal. At Literary Orphans, she serves as a fiction reader, book reviewer, and interviewer. She is the 2015 Gover Prize winner and her blog can be found here:

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 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 or follow him on twitter @garpet011.

by Sean Mulroy

One night, when seas were high, a bright red crab was washed upon the shoreline of a giant city.

Ken-ichi Ueda via Creative Commons

At first the crab was angry at being swept from his home and friends, but then, whilst scuttling back into the surf, he looked above the tide and saw the moon. Awestruck the crab stayed onshore till morning when the pale orb was replaced by a garish sun. He wept.

The night after seas were high and again the crab was swept ashore. This time, however, he was not angry. On the morrow seas were calm but the crab found himself on the beach anyway.

Friends noticed his absence and pondered where he kept going every night. But the crab was a jealous fellow and kept his midnight wanderings secret.

Many tides and moons later, the crab being old and weak-sighted now, he snuck ashore. Having lost his once excellent sense of direction, for the first time, he accidentally faced east—not west—at the ocean. Startled he beheld many moons, countless bright lights, and what’s more they were low, within reach.

Immediately he scuttled sidewise towards them, uncertain whether he’d reach one, but thinking the risk worth it for a closer look at the unattainable.

Sean Mulroy lives in Newcastle, Australia. His short fiction has previously been published in Oblong, Every Day Fiction, and WitchWorks, among other venues.

by Charles Hayes

Plying the warm waters of a shadowed Sea, speckled with spits of froth and reflected starlight, we ride the ferry for the lost and found. Our crowded cots, tiered across an open deck, pitch and roll, lifting our smell as one, from stem to stern. Legs akimbo with slippered feet, grow across the tiny aisles, bodies hidden by the sacks that haul our life.

Edmonds Ferry at Sunset
Michael Matti via Creative Commons

On the move, going from crumb to crumb, visions of better fare, or to only home somewhere, our nods of passage show, as the knocking screw calls the tune. Sometimes we wander to the rail and stare beyond. If a light of life be seen, suspicions of how its table fairs, or what its bed beholds, float among our spray. Looking along the rail, another’s eye to see, table or bed is quick to know.

With dawn and a port that calls, we rise like Jack’s stalk, among the humps of baggage, mount our loads, as if super ants we be, and string along the plank, to melt into the life we know. Crumb by crumb, visions of a knocking lullaby safely tucked away.

Charles Hayes, a Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and others.

by Ahimaz Rajessh

{Fast Forward}

The great ephemeral skin lies splayed out inside the Psi Morgue. Black on the outside and likewise on the inside, not red or white. It must be burning degree six. I consider the minutes before burning degree zero: supple skin pressed against supple skin—warmth given and taken, adrenaline rushing, the moments spent caressing, kissing, suckling of pores, and the kindling of passion, rising and rising upward—the triggering of that unheard of sparkle from the base of spine.

{Fast Forward}

“Tox screen confirms hypercarbic vessels and high alcohol level in the system of the male victim. GI report confirms overly gaseous intestine.”

Guy Mayer via Creative Commons

{Fast Forward}

“Aided by ethyl alcohol and gasses of the male, passion lit up kundalini. Female victim, having sustained burns degree four, could’ve escaped from her lover’s embrace but for male’s upper limb burn contractures. A singular twin case of spontaneous combustion—male source of flame himself, female source of flame male.”


“Ephemeral skin lies…”

{Long Rewind}

“William Zahida. Paranormal Sleuthing, Inc. Case one.

“My olfaction traces no fuels of any kind, only the whiff of burnt fat. Suspect Kamadeva hypoxyphilia. No visual trace of cigarette butts or electric dildo. Suspect Libido-blocking Agents. I see lovers lying smoked up, Gods charred and embraced.”


Ahimaz RajesshAhimaz Rajessh has been published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Flapperhouse, The Fractured Nuance, 7×20, unFold, Pidgeonholes, and 200 CCs. His writing is forthcoming in Cuento, Milkfist, theEEEL, and Strange Horizons.

by Jena Krumrine

Pulling out my cell phone I checked the time to see how much longer I had. My mother required me to spend an hour a day with Grandma Thomas while she was visiting and I still had twenty-five minutes left. Once again she was talking to me about life and all I could think of was being old enough to do what I wanted.

“I can’t wait to grow up,” I sighed, feeling her leathery skin touch my hand.

“Don’t be in such a rush to grow up little Lizzy,” Grandma coughed. “Enjoy your childhood. Be free and wild, make mistakes, and have your heart broken a few times.”

“Grandma what are you talking about?” I rolled my eyes.

Old Working Hands
Carmen Zuniga via Creative Commons

“Life is short, you don’t usually realize it till you are older though,” she sighed, “when more years are behind you then ahead.”

“Grandma,” I began as concern over took me, “are you okay?”

“Oh little Lizzy,” she patted my hand, “I love you my dear child.”

“I love you too Grandma,” I threw my arms around her, “I really do.”

“I know you do, dear child. Now, go play I’ll tell your mother you put in your time.”

“Actually Grandma,” I took her hand in mine, “I’d like to hang with you a little longer.”

Jena KrumrineJena was born in Pennsylvania is now a resident of Oklahoma. A mother of two and Aunt to many, she holds an Associate Degree in Child Development as well as a Bachelor in English, emphases on writing. She is the founder and co-owner of Madd Dog Creations, a company that houses Crosshairs Photography, Mutts and Mics, among others. She is currently back in college to obtain another Bachelor in Art and hopes to open an animal shelter. She is the author of, where readers can get to know more about her.

by William Squirrell

It took three beers to smell the sweet grass burning in the pool room of the Pembina Motor Hotel, five to hear the murmur of Cree. One night in December a trucker from Trois-Rivières kept buying rounds. I got so shitfaced I finally saw the ghosts.

clod via Creative Commons

I looked up from my shot and a woman stood over the far pocket. She stared at me through the torn curtain of her wet hair; muddy water bubbled out of her mouth and trickled down her chin. At the table behind her, beneath the flickering Molson Canadian sign, an old man sat smoking Players Menthol. The pack lay in front of him, the foil quivering in the furnace breeze. There were no eyes in his gaping orbits. Sallow skin hung from his cheeks, stained as boarding house sheets.

“Come along with me, boy,” the trucker shouted. “You can see the world. We’ll stop in Thunder Bay. I know a whore there who can make her pussy talk: not whole sentences but words.”

Outside the traffic swept down the highway and through the dreaming suburbs. The dead woman began to sob.

“Are you man or maman? Come on!”

“I think I’ll stay,” I said.

William Squirrell is a Canadian writer living in western Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Monkeybicycle, Blue Monday Review, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review and other venues. More information can be found at