Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Depletion Depression by Luke Schamer

In a time when Earth's surface has become too hot to be habitable, a lowly underground construction worker misses his family and dreams of seeing the sun; by Luke Schamer.

Felix was awoken by simulated sunrays beaming through his artificial skylight. His implantation device, inserted into his neck at birth, recognized activity and began the live stream through his cornea.

He grasped for a pillow, covering his face. The continuous flow of visuals and coinciding audio left him paralyzed:

Good waking, chosen America! It is day 223 of year 2051. Earth's surface temperature remains at a high of 170 degrees. The ultraviolet radiation index remains at a 15 out of 15. Today's ozone depletion rate is eighty-nine percent, a one percent increase from day 217. Expect minor delays on the high-speed rails, as construction for our new underground transportation system continues. And remember: if you're not living underground, well, you're not living! Now, a quick message from our sponsors.

Felix rubbed his palms over his eyelids, the morning bulletin piercing his vision and hearing.

Drone-acquired images of earth's surface were projected into Felix's implantation device. A desolate wasteland, a far cry from the surface he once knew.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Someone Else's Field by Billie Pritchett

Two cops talk about their lives while staking out a storage facility that may or may not be the site of a colossal drug deal; by Billie Pritchett.

The old detective Scarsdale had been waiting in the car for a very long time. When Rossi came out, the detective was eyeing the brown-brick facade of the apartment building. Scarsdale looked surprised when Rossi's knuckles tapped against the driver's side window. He looked up with a start. Rossi stood there smiling. Scarsdale rolled down the window and Rossi extended a hand.

"I'm Rossi," he said.

"Peter Scarsdale," Scarsdale said. "How did you know it was me?"

"Please," Rossi said. "1996 green Ford Taurus. I knew you must be on a cop's salary."

"Well, are you going to stand out there all night or get in?"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Café Los Cuiles by Tony Press

Tony Press's short flash about a Mexican café.

Her dimples arrived almost before the little girl herself and when she came in through the front door, the beads clicking to announce her arrival, her smile and eyes lit up the dark café.

Open the curtains, we called, Luis and Ita and Lety and I, from our usual corner, and it was done. The new waiter, whose name we did not yet know, did the deed, and we thanked him as he passed us on his way back to the kitchen.

This Oaxacan morning, the day after Christmas, was growing sunny, and the rays painted thin lines on the walls. I thought of walking up the steps to Cerro Fortin and the viewpoint near the Benito Juarez statue. I hadn't been there in months and it would be a good day to go.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Exchange Student by Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste's comic short about a young man who asks an extraterrestrial exchange student on a date.

She had big, beautiful eyes: two blue and one green. At first, the grotesque features perturbed me. But after half a semester across the lecture hall from her, I found myself staring at human girls and thinking their faces looked incomplete. Once I fell for three eyes, going back to two would be downgrading.

The blue eye on the left was my favorite. It moved independently from the other pair as though it alone was in the throes of concocting a devious plot. Sometimes, right in the middle of Calculus II, as I imagined what grand collusion that eye could be contemplating, I'd glance up from my digital notebook and it would be looking straight at me. As soon as I returned the gaze, that furtive blue imp would join its brethren and pretend to watch the instructor lumber across the front of the classroom. But I knew better. She was interested in me. Or at least her left eye was.

"Are you serious about going out with that exchange student?" My roommate sat in a puddle of filth that consisted mostly of used food containers and soiled laundry.

"Of course I'm serious." I couldn't believe she'd said yes, especially after I sputtered out the first date proposition in a series of 'ums' and 'wells'.

My roommate smirked. "In that case, I've got the perfect thing for you to wear tonight."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Time When Time Went Backwards by David Pring-Mill

David Pring-Mill's quirky tale of two friends looking for love while time collapses around them.

The buildings of downtown Vancouver were mostly made of glass, with bluish and green tints. New buildings were springing up all the time, and there was an Ikea-esque quality to their clean, modern style. Two young people wandered around beneath the towers. Emma had a wide smile and milky white skin. Pete was a tall man who was determined to grow a goatee, although the reddish follicles on his chin could not be persuaded. He kissed Emma goodbye at the steam clock in Gastown.

Pete had been raised in South Florida, in an area overtaken by gated communities and McMansions. Existence down there was lonely, and everyone was in denial. He often thought: We tell ourselves we want spacious homes. Then we create more space between us, in order to have more space for ourselves. Wanting a home... leads to alienation. And indeed, as a teenager, he had sat in one of the McMansions of his friends, and watched his friend's parents call out to one another across needlessly large living rooms and patios, and the echoes confirmed the emptiness.

Pete didn't miss Florida. Recently, he had seen a Brazilian friend's status update on Facebook, which read: "Saudades, Rio de Janeiro." When he Googled it, Wikipedia informed him: "Saudade is a Portuguese and Galician word that has no direct translation in English." It went on further to state: "Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Deal by Doug Hawley

When Duke's wife leaves him for a younger model, he tries to get back into the dating game; by Doug Hawley.

On Duke's birthday, Sally bought him cooking lessons. Duke had no interest in cooking, but thought he would go along with it, because they might need some changes. They had been married a long time and had fallen into a routine. So Duke dutifully went to the classes. He learned his way around eggs, and a lot of Thai, Mexican and Italian dishes. He was greatly surprised to learn that he enjoyed cooking and started to prepare half of their meals.

After a month or so of this, he woke up one morning and Sally was gone. She left him a note:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In or Out? by Ceinwen Haydon

After parting for many decades, two old friends meet in an encounter that is not as coincidental as it first seems; by Ceinwen Haydon.

Jane Cherry sat in the cinema, early for the matinee showing of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. She'd almost finished her bag of popcorn before the ads began, let alone the trailers. She was always prompt and often premature, and life seemed to hurtle past her making her feel left out. When Jack was alive he used to laugh at her, but leaving late for an appointment always made her anxious.

The cinema was fairly empty and she was surprised when a hand tapped her on the shoulder from the raised row behind. She twisted around in her seat and looking up, met the gaze of a woman of about her own age. The features whispered familiarity but she could not be sure.

"Jane Bonford isn't it? You don't remember me do you? I'm Genevieve, Genny, LaCroix. We were in the sixth form together, St Dunstan's, what fifty years ago?"

"My God, Genny, of course. Fancy me meeting you here. It's a long way from the London. Do you live in Newcastle now?"

"In a manner of speaking; can I join you or are you waiting for someone?"

Sunday, March 15, 2015

V for Victor by Tom Sheehan

Tom Sheehan writes about his tone-deaf schoolfriend who, once every five years, is possessed by a miraculous singing voice.

I saw it all, from the very beginning, heard it all, too, every word rising on the air... in our first classroom, in church, everywhere it happened, you name the place and I was there. Unannounced it came. From the heavens it must have come, taking over his soul, his body, his mind for a few bare minutes of magic. Once, and once only, every five years like clockwork, it came on him, as if grabbed by the heavenly spheres or ignition itself lighting up his lungs from the inside. My pal Victor, classmate for sixteen years of schooling, teammate for eight years, inseparable companion, fifth year custodian of miracles that made him, for the nonce, an extraordinary singer without explanation, an indescribable tenor so gifted I have to place the cause on an element beyond us mere men.

V for Victor, dit dit dit dah, dit dit dit dah, dit dit dit dah.

I never saw the miracle coming, in any of the situations. Neither did he, but it took hold of him and wouldn't let go until the last word fell from his lips, from his throat, from his lungs, and to depart then forever from him. No song was ever repeated, making the miracle even more mysterious, as he could not even recall the scenario within a half hour of its happening.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Affair by Beryl Ensor-Smith

A rumour takes on a life of its own and threatens the relationship of Bennie and Elaine Ferreira; by Beryl Ensor-Smith.

When Miems Gouws came out of the local supermarket, she literally bumped into Elaine Ferreira who walked straight into her. She just managed to save the contents of one of her bags from scattering, while Elaine apologised profusely.

"I'm so sorry, Miems," she gasped. "My mind was miles away. I was thinking of Bennie."

Bennie, Elaine's husband, was a nice enough chap but Miems couldn't imagine why thoughts of him should have distracted Elaine to the point of carelessness. She placed her shopping bags on the ground and took a good look at the woman in front of her.

"What's the matter, Elaine? Is something wrong with Bennie?"

"Nooo. Not really." Elaine sighed. "I just wish, sometimes, that he wasn't so... predictable! It would be nice if, now and again, he would surprise me, but he's so set in his ways I can set my watch by him." She shook her head sadly. "Husbands are not what they're portrayed to be in the movies!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Portal by William Quincy Belle

A coffee-obsessed journalist with a magical teleportation device reports on the growing threat of civil war in a fictional African nation; by William Quincy Belle.

The three men held their Uzis close to their chests as they ran across the darkened square. The lighted offices of the rival political candidate, the newly elected president of the country, shone in the twilight. Several people were taking down posters, gathering up brochures, and packing boxes with various items from the election campaign.

The doors burst open and the trio of men took up positions to cover the entire room. They opened fire with machine guns, spraying bullets in all directions. The volunteer workers were caught unaware and had no time to duck for cover. The noisy ratatat of the Uzis lasted less than five seconds but left seven people dead from multiple bullet wounds.

One of the gunmen walked throughout the room and poked each of the bodies to ensure the people were in fact dead. He nodded to his accomplices. The three of them left the building and ran back across the square.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Finding Father by Bruce Costello

Anne dreams of her father and becomes determined to find him; by Bruce Costello.

Anne opened her eyes and groaned. Saturday. The spring sun was streaming through the curtains.

What on earth have I been dreaming about? she thought, as a scene from childhood sprang into her mind.

'Wakey wakey, Darling. Out of beddy-byes. Breakfast! Remember, you're helping me plant the garden today!'

'Daddy, can I plant the sunflowers, like I did last year?'

'Course you can! You were so good at it.'

'Yeh!' She jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen.

Anne brushed aside the twenty year old memory and the feelings that surrounded it. She pulled the bedclothes around her head.

"I've no idea where your father is," her mother had said the day before when they met for coffee. "Why this sudden urge to see him?"

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Crystal Poodle Barrette by Andrew J. Hogan

Andrew J. Hogan's glimpse into the mind of a kleptomaniac dentist.

"I steal."

Lindsay's brain froze. Why would her dentist steal a barrette from Gleason's Gift Shop jewelry counter? "Why didn't you just pay for it; it's only $9.50?"

"I have no use for it," Dr. Pendergast said.

"That doesn't make any sense."

"It doesn't make sense to me either. I just had to steal it."

"What for?" Lindsay said.

"Not what for, but why. I steal, it doesn't matter what."

"And Mr. Gleason lets you?" Lindsay said.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Love is a Heavy Thing by Jen Basch

Jen Basch's character has a severe panic attack while there is an intruder in her house - and the criminal is the only one who can help her.

I am twenty-four years old and I have forgotten how to breathe. I hear them slam the door open to my house. They're rummaging around in Marisa's room across the hall - moving things around, heavy breathing, heavy footsteps. I'm wheezing, dizzy. Goddamn these panic attacks. They're walking down the hall now. Getting closer. I'm going to die, they're going to kill me. I need to keep quiet or they're going to find me. I'm choking. I need help.

I can either a) stay quiet in here and hyperventilate or b) get their attention, hope they'll help me, and risk getting stabbed.

Fuck it.

I pound on the floor with sweaty palms in between the gasps. Shit. I see the white dots in my vision, I'm going to pass out. I bang harder and harder. I hear my door fling open and all at once I am relieved and terrified. They see me. I see that They is a Him. A big guy. He's holding Serena's pillowcase over his shoulder. His eyes are dark. He's chilling. Jesus Christ, what did I just do? I need to call 911. I picture my phone beside my bed but I know I can't get to it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Choking Smoke By Jon Beight

In a future where Earth is sinking towards the sun, two men formulate a plan to use the might of Mother Nature to help preserve humanity; by Jon Beight.

It began like this:

A massive asteroid found itself helplessly heading towards the center of the earth's solar system as the sun exerted its relentless grip. The six outer planets were out of harm's way as the object passed by. The earth was not so lucky.

About one-third the size of earth's moon, astronomers had been watching and studying it for decades. A special team was drawn from the senior members of the commission originally set up to monitor near earth objects traveling through space. They calculated the earth was not on a collision course, but they knew it would be close. The team discussed at length on what actions should, or even could be taken to protect the earth. In the end, being completely frustrated that this was something beyond their control, they conceded they were powerless to do anything.

Finally after years of waiting, it passed by earth. Trailing after it was a wake of energy that buffeted the earth, and left behind a devastated planet whose orbit was now in decay, and a moon that was collapsing in on itself from a violent rebirth in volcanic and seismic activity.

Little by little, the earth was drawing closer to the sun. Little by little, the surface temperatures were rising, the polar caps were shrinking, climates were shifting, and ecosystems were dying.

For planet earth, time was running out.