by Madison Randolph
Pipe smoke swirled and tickled Tam’s nose as he puffed. The dirt path he walked undulated through the corn to a crossroads.
The smoke thickened two spirits appeared: a hooded figure stood to his left and, to his right, a veiled woman.
“You must choose,” they said in unison.
Tam turned, but the road had disappeared. Horrified, he fell to his knees before the veiled apparition.
It lowered the veil, rotting skeletal teeth smiled down.
The hooded figure sighed with a shake of his golden curls.
Life may be shadowed in mystery, but to some, death will always be inviting.
by G.J. Williams
The state he’s in, you can smell the rot. No question Big Aitch knows it. The aroma unmistakable. And where Big Aitch goes the rot goes. He tries to disguise it of course. Comes on all radio rental; rolls the eyeball, makes much of his fingers, puts on airs, pulls faces, has it out with his own shadow, calls a spade many things but never a spade. Makes up his mind so that his mind’s made up; tralala. Watch your words; watch his. There’s no telling. The state he’s in. You can smell the rot from here.
Switchbacks on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Ana Cotham
We’d heard a Trail Angel was four miles ahead, so we kept hiking. Shin splints knifed me with every step; Lisa gritted her teeth through blood blisters. We found the cabin, where a silver-haired woman greeted us with stew, coffee, hot showers.
Clean, fed, soothed with bandages, we shared stories over steaming mugs of cocoa. Sunset glowed, making a silhouette of trees, and she told us the storm had passed.
Lisa said uncertainly, “But—the weather’s been clear.”
“No, my love,” the woman said kindly. “The storm took you both by surprise. How else do you think you found me?”