Friday, February 28, 2020

A Fine Piece of Silver by Kyle Brandon Lee

An arrogant and amoral hunter seeks a mythical lion that is not really a lion; by Kyle Brandon Lee.

"Many legends contain at least a single nugget of truth and in most legends, that nugget is dung."
Resian Proverb

Poking the dead beast elicited no response.

"No matter how many times you do that, it will not change," Arkus Roselek stated as he watched his younger partner continue to prod the deceased animal. Arkus removed a silver flask from his coat and unscrewed the cap to take a healthy drink. Still, Drobir used the blunt end of his spear to futile ends. "Are you expecting it to explode?"

"I've heard stories that some animals will play dead," Drobir answered.

"Yes, you heard them all from me. And I have no doubt it is dead. Otherwise, it would disembowel you in annoyance."

Arkus stood, replacing the flask in his coat and removed a small horn. Uncapping its large end, he blew into the smaller, blasting a bellowing sound through the forest.

"I hate that ugly noise," Drobir complained.

"But you shall never hear such a noise through the western islands." Arkus bragged. "No one but I have slain the Kreglian bull of Fal'shen."

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Luck of the Draw by Leona Upton Illig

Phoebe's grandfather has quit taking his prize dog Lucky to dog shows, but he has one last outing in store; by Leona Upton Illig.

"So... tell me again why your grandfather quit?"

She lifted the washcloth from her forehead and looked at him. He was settled down, deep in the faded paisley armchair, with his feet up. She could just make out his curly hair above the newspaper he held in front of his face.

It was just like Jack to change the subject. But she was in no mood to argue.

"He said that it'd become - oh, I don't know - a silly game, and that he was tired of it - tired of the pettiness and the underhanded tricks. But I think that it was Nana more than anything else. After she died, he lost interest in a lot of things. That's why Mom and Dad were so pleased when Pop Pop decided to visit Uncle in Edinburgh. They hoped it would... make him happy again, somehow."

"Huh."

Friday, February 21, 2020

Boiler Room by Gregory Patrick Travers

Stacey is bullied at school after having had an abortion - is there anyone she can trust? By Gregory Patrick Travers.

Slut. Whore. Baby killer. The horrible names they called her and their cold, piercing stares remained burned in her brain, playing over and over in her head on repeat. When she was in class, when she was at her locker, when she was in the bathroom - there was nowhere Stacey was safe.

Even the teachers at St. Mary's seem to follow her with their eyes when she was in the hallways, standing at the threshold of their classrooms with their arms crossed, looking down on her.

The librarian scanned her books a little slower than she did the rest of the students.

The lunch lady splattered her mash potatoes onto her tray with a little more apathy than she did the rest of the lunch line.

Even the creepy old janitor, who the children had given the nickname "Old Man Frankenstein", due to his limp leg that dragged behind him as he walked, seemed to stare at Stacey deeply whenever they crossed paths.

And she could read their thoughts. They were all the same. That's the girl who had an abortion.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Mummy Track by Rosemary Johnson

A young mother longs to make more of her career, but dare she ask her husband to make a sacrifice for her? By Rosemary Johnson.

Wake up, Rod. I have to talk to you, please. Now.

I know it's early, but listen to me, please. I've been meaning to say this for... you don't know how long... but, whenever I open my mouth to speak, something else happens, something more important, more urgent. Then another year passes and here I am in the same place, every autumn.

Such a little thing I'm asking for. Please don't make it into a big thing.

No, it's not what you think. I'd never do that. I love you very much and I always will, and our darlings, Gemma and Laura, but I can't carry on like this. My life is passing away.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Further Adventures of Corky the Killer by Kathleen R. Sands

A three-inch representation of the syphilis bacterium is chosen to run as the opposition party candidate for President of the USA; by Kathleen R. Sands.

Corky opened his eyes. Where was he? Everything here was fat, not flat. A bookcase hulked against a wall, a Sputnik light fixture loomed overhead, and a blue-suited hand puppet slumped on a desk. Corky blinked at the puppet's sulfur-yellow hair, which floated in the air like an abandoned cobweb. He seemed to be in Meatworld, the home of 3D humans.

Corky knew about humans. In Flatland, he'd devoted his entire career to invading their bodies. He was a spirochete, a bacterium shaped in a spiral twist, whose sole purpose was to infect humans with syphilis. He had the traits that all good spirochetes have: monomania, ruthlessness, anomie. He'd first seen daylight in the 1945 publication of a book called Corky the Killer: A Story of Syphilis by Harry A. Wilmer. Dr. Wilmer had created Corky and the rest of the spirochete army as a swarm of dark aliens who conquered humans by sneaking through the skin-border into the body, colonizing every nook and cranny, and reproducing into the billions. Dr. Wilmer's post-World War II xenophobic readers loved it.

As Corky adjusted to his new surroundings, a 3D human entered the room: a dame, one of those 1940s-looking babes with a wasp waist, big shoulders, and copper hair waving over one eye.

Monday, February 10, 2020

My Mother Sent Me a Parcel by Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin's character is sent an unexpected package by her overbearing mother.

My mother sent me a parcel. I must admit I was surprised. She'd never been one for spontaneous displays of affection, and it wasn't my birthday or Christmas. The postman must have been equally surprised to find me still in my pyjamas when he handed over the parcel at almost noon. He didn't show it though. Like window cleaners and refuse collectors, postal workers have a knack of affecting indifference to the mess glimpsed beyond our front doors.

At least my pyjamas were presentable, royal blue silk with white piping around the edges. The kind of pyjamas you might wear to park your SUV on double yellow lines while dropping off your darlings at school. If you had children, that is. Or an SUV. Or a motorised vehicle of any genre to your name. These were pyjamas worth maxing out your credit card for, nightwear to smooth your transition to sleeping alone. I like to think the postman respected that when he passed me the parcel from my mother.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Kitty Favor by Otto Burnwell

Eddie Berger suddenly gives up porn, and his colleagues want to know why; by Otto Burnwell.

For as long as Eddie Berger worked in the tool crib at Spring Ranch Manufactured Homes, he'd been the go-to guy for porno magazines and videos. He always had hard-core stuff stashed in his locker and under the workbench to pass around on breaks.

Then, out of nowhere, he cut the guys off without a word. One day he's passing it around, making jokes, and next day, nothing. Stopped bringing it in, didn't keep it in his locker anymore, even took down the pin-ups taped inside on his locker door. He didn't say why. It wasn't just about himself, either. If someone else brought stuff to pass around, Eddie waved his hand in their face, saying he didn't have time for that shit, and how he had work to do. He'd be out of the room quicker than a hot-buttered cat.

A couple of the guys joked Eddie must have got religion. Being a part-time churchgoer with his wife hadn't kept Eddie from sneaking out late at night to the one good strip club on County Line road. But he quit doing that, too.

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Story of Time by Yash Seyedbagheri

Yash Seyedbagheri's character spends the first 25 years of his life confined to an old passenger train, travelling back and forth through time.

People talk about chronology. Tell me about your life from beginning to present. The truth: I spent my life travelling through time. The first twenty-five years that is. A quarter of a century, which is something incredible and sad. Mama invented a time machine out of an old passenger train. This was in the year of my birth, 1887. The device suffered significant mishaps when she took me on the maiden voyage. Mechanical parts were lost, sending us forwards and backwards, at the machine's mercy.

She tried to repair the machine, adjusting dials and levers left, right, left, right. Time spiraled around us. We moved forward and backwards, spending months, days, sometimes hours in time periods, constrained to the train. We couldn't step foot outside, for fear of being left behind in any one period, strangers invading foreign periods. This was the only childhood I knew. I was told we'd lived in a great palatial mansion, with Mansard roofs and graceful arches, that Mama was an heiress. The home held much history. But this was all irrelevant, drifting through time.