Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Traffic Lights That Time Forgot by Michael McCarthy

Mike McCarthy's character has an intimate encounter whenever she stops for a particular red light.

She became aware of him when she was waiting at the traffic lights that time forgot, so called by her because of the endless wait for green.

Now the wait couldn't be long enough.

She'd experienced something she could only describe as a presence, a not unpleasant sensation, when s…
Sunday, December 28, 2014

Valentine's Day by Casey Robb

Trainee physical therapist Chuck Hunt needs to get to the airport in time for a romantic holiday with his fiancée, but one of his patients interferes; by Casey Robb.

"Let's take a break." Chuck jumped up to his feet, leaving Mandy, his young patient, lying on the red vinyl exercise mat in the Physical Therapy gym of the Austin State School. He stepped around the parallel bars, threw…
Friday, December 26, 2014

It Can Be Rough Out There by Harry Downey

An art dealer, formerly a struggling shopkeeper, visits an old friend's antiques store to give him some advice; by Harry Downey.

There wasn't much left he believed in these days, but Adrian Dunnett raised his eyes and thanked his guardian angel − whoever or whatever he was - every time he went through the door of 'Ben's Den.' He recalled the moves, the stages that had taken hi…

The Suitor by Beryl Ensor-Smith

A tiff between Rina and Frikkie van Wyk leads to unexpected consequences in the latest chapter of Beryl Ensor-Smith's delightful Prentburg stories.

Frikkie van Wyk was enjoying a breakfast of bacon and eggs when, with one sentence, his wife Rina killed his appetite.

"My mother's coming to visit, Frikkie."

Such was his dismay that he exclaimed, "No! Must she?"

Rina h…
Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Tiki Statue by Derek Muk

Two anthropology lecturers go on holiday in Hawaii and discover a statue with occult powers; by Derek Muk.

Avner was busy talking to a fellow passenger about meditation when Albert Taylor woke up from a deep, restful nap. He was surprised he was able to sleep at all considering the noisy engine of the plane. He checked the clock on his cell phone: Damn! Three more hours to go. His mouth was dry s…

The Wrong Parrot by Russ Bickerstaff

Russ Bickerstaff's surreal story about a six foot clairvoyant parrot.

At first I wondered whether or not I had the right apartment. I actually had to check to make my key actually fit the door it had been fitting every single day for the past couple of years. It wasn't the door that was throwing me off, though, it was the parrot. It was a huge thing, bigger than life and twice as ugly in …
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Good Life by Brooke Fieldhouse

Viv strikes up a relationship with an unlikely partner, but soon discovers that he's not being entirely honest with her; by Brooke Fieldhouse.

'Is that the Bridgend Hotel, Llangollen?'

'...'

'Is Mr Morgan there, Mr R Morgan - he's known as Radio?'

'...'

'He... uses other names - Mr Martin, or Ryan?'

'...'

Viv puts the phone down.

The …
Sunday, December 14, 2014

Am I Missing Something? by James McEwan

James McEwan's character is beset by doubts as he buys his girlfriend an engagement ring.

Malcolm handed five hundred pounds cash to the jeweller's assistant, it was the last of his savings.

'Am I missing something?' The assistant said and started to count the notes.

'What do you mean?' Malcolm fidgeted with his wallet and looked down at the builder's dust on his boo…

I'm Not The Same Man by William Quincy Belle

To meet his new grandson, Patrick Lindsey must travel far further than he ever has before; by William Quincy Belle.

Patrick blinked a few times and stared at the ceiling. It was well lit in a soft manner, not glaring. Was he supposed to do something? Or was he supposed to lie there until somebody came for him? He didn't recall that anybody had said one way or another. Those who had already do…

The Girl in the Cannery by M J Cleghorn

A hardworking girl who guts fish all day at the local cannery wonders how she will afford to bury her grandfather; by M J Cleghorn.

Forty dollars. A week's pay. That's what it will cost to bury the old Swede, the girl in the cannery thought to herself, picking the soft bones and skin from each shiny copper can as they spilled down the conveyer belt.

Forty dollars.

Every day - long into…

Inside Chaos by Brody Lane Gregg

Aron sits on a beach with his wife when his world suddenly ends, in Brody Lane Gregg's hellish vision.

They had the beach all to their own. It was one plot of sandy paradise nestled against the cool flow of crystalline water. Heaven on earth.

All he wanted was to hold her in his arms. He reached out and caressed her tan skin. It was as soft as anything he'd ever felt. She leaned against …

The Fourth Line by Bruce Costello

Miss Mehrtens visits the first resident of a new infirmary and homeless shelter to ask him about him about his experiences in the Great War; by Bruce Costello.

On the land between the church and the doctor's house is the former sexton's lodge, in the throes of being converted into an infirmary and shelter for the homeless. Its roof is rusty and the timbers are rotting but it has a pleasan…

Baby Dolls by Mathew Roach

When Mike goes to buy a present for Kayla, the decision forces insecurities to the surface; by Mathew Roach.

Mike loosens his tie and collar button with one hand as he crosses through the double doors of Wal-Mart. He walks into the cool air and pauses for a moment, taking in the calming breeze. For a second, the defeated the look on his face lifts. He closes his eyes. Then his iPhone rings. Mike …
Sunday, November 30, 2014

Redemption Song 1776 by Ceinwen Haydon

Ceinwen Haydon imagines an ancient tale of tragedy, loss and religious redemption.

I shut the front door quietly, hunching against the freezing rain. Snow would not be long in coming this night I'd wager. The shower glistened in the lamplight at the end of the garden path and I pulled up the hood of my cape. I walked passed the closed shops, still bright, redolent with the colours of the wint…

The Deception by Beryl Ensor-Smith

A bachelor moves into the quiet drop of Prentburg with the sole aim of capturing a rich wife; by Beryl Ensor-Smith.

Before Klaus van Dyk arrived in the dorp, he had done his homework carefully. It was by no means a random choice; he had given careful thought as to where he was most likely to find a rich widow or spinster who could keep him in the style to which he would like to become accustomed.…
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Tormentors by Stanley Wilkin

Stanley Wilkin's horrific glimpse into the inhuman violence of war.

The sun flashed into his eyes as he peered out of the foliage. He tightened his grip on his rifle. He moved his head back into the shadows sinking slowly once more into the copious fern. He was sick of war. His friends lay in the dust a mile down the road, their many wounds saturated with heaps of busy feeding flies. How many…
Sunday, November 23, 2014

Konichiwa, Mr. Miyashita by Gary Ives

An ungrateful Baby Boomer rants about his parents boring stories about their past; by Gary Ives.

I suppose just about everyone of my generation, that's us Boomers, would admit that his parents had it rougher. But so what? Mom and Dad both grew up on farms during the depression. Instead of heading to college after high school Dad was drafted two days after his wedding and sent off to the war s…

Ordinary Average Guy by Jim Bartlett

Jim Bartlett's character Lee makes small talk with a friend about a visiting politician, but he has something to hide.

Lee slips out of the car and stretches from the long ride under a sky that looks like rain. Finding a dry spot on the cracked asphalt, he leans his wrapped package against the back door of the car and works his hand trying to get some feeling back. He glances over at Frazier,…

Maintaining Appearances by Michael C. Keith

When Hank dreams his deceased friend is calling him from the grave, he decides to take action in Michael C. Keith's silly story.

 I wander in the ways of (dead) men, Alike unknown and unknowing. - Robert Burns
Like most everyone else, Hank Capron had an occasional nightmare. Lately, however, they had become more common and taken on a more personal and intense nature, as they centered on his l…
Sunday, November 16, 2014

Water Baby by Jane Percival

Jane Percival's creepy story of an orphan girl whose strange behaviour and affinity for water grow gradually more acute as she grows up.

Zoe was an odd little girl, there was no question of that. From the day that she first joined the family - a small scrap of a child with a shock of black hair - she was different. She had such a grave way of looking at the world. Her aunt, uncle and cousi…

The Sea of Trees by Greg Leader Cramer

Greg Leader Cramer's moving flash about a schoolboy trying to cope with the stigma of having a dead mother.

"Take it back." I've got Pank in a headlock, his head hovering over the cracked and dirty toilet bowl. Our faces are inches apart, which seems weirdly intimate. He's struggling now with everything he's got but he can't get free.

"She was a whore and you&#…

River Cats! by Jonathan Danielson

When the levee bursts and floods Jess and Scott's neighbourhood, they welcome the tragedy as an opportunity to be the centre of attention - but how much suffering is too much? By Jonathan Danielson.

When the levees for the Delta and American River burst that morning, Jess and Scott laughed. "At least they bought their house on short-sale," they said, before gathering everything they…

Finding Out by Ceinwen Haydon

Ceinwen Haydon's character looks forward to a lad's holiday in Spain with his housemate, but unexpected tensions roil under the surface.

I open one eye, squinting as the streams of sunlight flood through the gap between my curtains. I get up on autopilot, stretching exultantly before yanking them open. The warmth of the sun hits my sleep fuddled face, and I remember, today's the day. …

What the Creek Carries Away by Miranda Stone

Miranda Stone's powerful story about cousins who meet twenty years after a terrible misunderstanding changed the course of their lives.

I expected my grandfather's house to be empty a week after his funeral, but I spotted a figure sitting on the top porch step, and as I eased my car closer, a spasm seized my gut.

Twenty years, and my cousin still looked the same. Long brown hair that r…

Resurrection Hardware by Deb Smith

At her sister's funeral, Marion Ward reflects on their suffocatingly conservative family and prepares to deliver her sister's controversial last wishes; by Deb Smith.

After a few short readings and one soloist of average height, Reverend Summers introduced the next item on the funeral program. It was called "The Healing Miracles". The lights dimmed in the small chapel and we saw…

The Ladder of Success by William Ogden Haynes

Larry Leonard takes a break from University to visit Colorado, but his summer doesn't go as planned; by William Ogden Haynes.

It was the year that Larry Leonard was taking a break from Northern Michigan University for the summer semester. He had no classes to take for that term and he looked forward to seeing his parent's new home in Colorado. Larry Leonard's father was a Major recent…

Binary Code by Jim Bartlett

When Seymour Dunston rescues his old-school adding machine, the network conspires to reward him; by Jim Bartlett.

"Are you still using that confounded adding machine?"

Seymour Dunston glances up from his work coming nose to nose with his manager, Morris Fretterhorn, a younger fresh-face racing up the fast track of the executive ranks of Myes, Zerr, and Lee, a highly respected and long …

Reaching for the Sky by Mitchell Waldman

A guilt-ridden mother must face telling her paralysed son that his only brother is dead, but first she wants the truth about his past; by Mitchell Waldman.

She didn't know what to think anymore. The question went beyond whether her son had meant to rob the man, whether he had been harassing the man on the subway, whether he had just been going along with his friends, or whether he deserved wh…

Gluttonie by Tyler Tristao

Tyler Tristao's bizarre and gross story of a carer who feels guilty for enabling the extreme obesity of a 1000lb man.

I'm seeing the most atrocious and sickening event of my entire life. I feel the weight of dread in my gut, physically ill. How could this have happened?

"One thousand and two pounds," the doctor announced in a deadpan voice. "I'm concerned about massive…

Programmable Love by Bremer Acosta

Bremer Acosta's story about Gillen, a neuro-bot suffering an existential crisis, and her human boyfriend Jon, who must confront the prejudices of his friends.

Part 1

Gillen gazed into the plasma-mirrors coiled inside her dome apartment. They bent all the contours of her body, mirroring her flesh in crosshatchings of light. She stood in front of the mirror, naked, pale and veined in her legs an…

Women Are So Much More Interesting To Men (Than Men Are To Women) by Charlotte Hayden

Charlotte Hayden's stream of consciousness about being a woman and wanting - or perhaps wanting to be - a man.

When my Modernism and Modernity lecturer first stroked my leg I thought, I'll go with it. When my best friend Eloise told me he did the same with her I thought, are you kidding me? I had predicted a lengthy, passionate affair with a 40 year old married professor and instead, afte…

Girls - Beautiful - Girls by Arthur Davis

A New York City journalist reluctantly takes up a story about a seedy old dance hall and its nubile dancing girls; by Arthur Davis.

The Broadway bus pulled up at 48th Street across from the blinking yellow sign announcing, "Girls - Beautiful - Girls." I got off.

The Tango Palace, in the heart of a Times Square, swarming with platform-heeled hookers, Three-card Monty sharks, drug dealer…

Over But Not Out by Bruce Costello

A girl starts work in a care home and finds herself dreaming about the past life of one of the men in her care; by Bruce Costello.

Mr Smythe was a skeleton with staring eyes. Mumbled sounds came from his mouth, but no words. His right arm shook as he reached out to the caregiver. She took his hand and pressed his fingers, which were twisted into claws.

Mary was a petite woman, just out of her te…

The Rebellion by Beryl Ensor-Smith

When an overbearing city minister takes over the local church for three months in the quiet drop of Prentburg, Sarie rebels and decides to take a break from Christianity; by Beryl Ensor-Smith.

When the residents of Prentburg first heard of the Interfaith Initiative, some were supportive of the idea while others were dubious. Among those less enchanted was the Dominee's wife, Anna. The wording…

Strike Not by Scott Archer Jones

A crew of car crushers out by the Rio Grande witness a scene of domestic abuse; by Scott Archer Jones.

Las esperanzas engordan pero no maintienen. Hope fattens, but it doesn't keep you alive.

It turned noon as David Alvarez raised the roof of the crusher. With short little explosive sounds, the Rambler lying in the crusher's bed released tension from its new shape, as if it tried to pop it…
Friday, October 10, 2014

Secrets of the Night by Arthur Davis

A cleaner plagued by secrets from his past listens to the confessional radio show broadcast each night from the eighteenth floor of the building he cleans; by Arthur Davis.

Meyer Holbein pushed his broom down the partially lit corridor as he had done for the last dozen years. It was a simple task, something he was uniquely qualified to tend. He was a tall, stooped man in his early seventies whom …

The Levitation of Mrs. Caruso by Lyon Kennedy

After her husband's death, a lonely and crotchety old lady struggles to face her prejudices and rediscover her will to live; by Lyon Kennedy.

The shadow of approaching sunset lingered by the bay. It then slipped through the sliding door of 99 Battersea Avenue, crept over a stolid walnut buffet, muted a persnickety red Persian carpet and slid atop all four feet eleven inches and ninety-nine po…

Idle Feet Do the Devil's Work by Ray Charbonneau

A group of runners are in for a strange season when one of them makes a deal with a shoe company and starts winning every single race; by Ray Charbonneau.

I was hanging on the rear of the lead pack in fifth place and thinking about when to make my move as we passed the 9-mile mark of the Jones 10-Miler. It was the first race in this year's Grand Prix, and I wanted to get off to a good start, …

The Toontown Riots of 1949: A Critical and Historical Analysis by David Perlmutter

David Perlmutter's essay on how racial tension between humans and the "toon" community flared into violence in 1940s Hollywood.

Introduction

Though much has been written about inter-racial conflict in the United States, particularly that between Caucasians and African-Americans in urban areas, other areas, for a variety of complex and uncertain reasons, have never been nearly as well…

The Bad Positive by Feyisayo Anjorin

Banjo Johnson decides to end his promiscuity in favour of his dream woman Bukky Modele, but a former fling throws a spanner in the works; by Feyisayo Anjorin.

You loved your reputation as a ladies' man. Your lovers loved it too. They loved it for as long as your lies lasted. About a dozen girls had thought you were the only one for them, and they for you; until they came face to face with the…

My Love of the North Country by Ceinwen Haydon

Ceinwen Haydon's character gets a letter from an old boyfriend who broke her heart.

This beautiful summer's evening should wrap me in its arms and make me feel complete: starry sky, warm wind and gentle dunes. I should be happy to be here, away for several days with no obligations. Away in Northumberland, staying by the coast I love the best; lingering by the wild, unpeopled ocean's e…

No Good Deed by James Shaffer

Hank waits out a storm in his caravan and thinks back over his romantic life with Alice; by James Shaffer.

I put on my flashers and pulled the caravan over to the side of the road hoping to wait out the worst of the storm. I kept the engine running but silenced the wipers. Heavy raindrops pounded the cab's roof like a tenor drum chorus and rainwater zigzagged in rivulets down the windscreen. …

The Rooming House by Fred Skolnik

Fred Skolnik's character can't remember where he lives in this unsettling tale, with echoes of Kafka and Karinthy's Metropole (originally appeared in 34th Parallel, no. 4, Sept. 2008).

I got back late in the afternoon. Cars were double-parked in a roped-off area in front of the building but there were no cars parked at the curb, which I found odd. A teenage girl came by on a skateboar…
Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fifth Period Stats by Kaila Allison

Kaila Allison's frightening insight into the mind of a psychopathic schoolboy.

So, it's Eric here, duh, coming at you from fifth period Stats class where I am - you guessed it - bored as all Holy Hell. I don't get why people do this shit. Looking at the fat, broad back of Mr. L as he scribbles formulas on the chalkboard makes me sick. That globby fold of skin at his neck is not a pret…

Traditions by Kendra Beauchesne

Kendra Beauchesne's touching flash about a ten year old bonding with her mother while fixing a car.

I remember sitting and listening to my mom talk about that car. Her eyes would light up as she spoke. Her father was a television repairman, but he had an addiction to fixing cars. He bought it used. More like very damaged. She would talk about how she would spend hours in the yard with him. He…
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let America Happen by Feyisayo Anjorin

Feyisayo Anjorin's Nigerian character sees his girl stolen away by bald little Jassy Akanmi, and becomes convinced that he needs to visit America to win her back.

So your favourite girl did something that shocked you and surprised you. The girl you loved like a love song. There was a time when you thought of your future together; unbridled thoughts of a rosy future that made you heady. You di…

The Alexandrian Shift by Gary Ives

Gary Ives imagines a world in which Alexander the Great returns as an Olympic god in 1955 and uses television to spread tolerance and peace throughout the world.

As Alexander the Great lay dying in Babylon gods were summoned to Mt. Olympus by Zeus. "Well there you have it. We imbue this mortal with a healthy dollop of our better attributes: strength, wit, an array of intelligences, and this …
Friday, September 12, 2014

A Text Message by Kate Sprandio

Kate Sprandio narrates a wonderfully neurotic and misguided stream of consciousness about her character's new man.

"I'll text you tomorrow, gorgeous."

That's what he said last night, Saturday, when he dropped me off. I'm almost positive he called me gorgeous. If he didn't say gorgeous then he definitely said beautiful, one of the two. It doesn't really matter w…

After the Bombardment by Brooke Fieldhouse

Mefta, an Asian expelled from Uganda, battles his self-centred landlord to try and make ends meet as a pensioner in Scarborough; by Brooke Fieldhouse.

'...We expect the full report to be completed next week, but I thought you would be interested to know that the fragments of metal taken from the superstructure of your property came from a shell fired from a German warship on 16th December 1914…
Sunday, September 7, 2014

Free-Range by Anthony Merklinger

Anthony Merklinger imagines a bovine supermarket in this creepy flash.

It was eight o'clock on a Sunday morning, and the bovines began to assemble at the local supermarket.

"What are you making tonight, Ma?" the calf said, stretching its legs on the black pavement.

"I was thinking ribs or sirloin."

The cow removed a grocery list from her purse.

"What do you…