Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.
by Brenda Anderson
Prydyl’s one remaining doctor had seen mushrooms growing from the eye sockets of the plague victims, but kept trying to save lives. When tiny spots appeared on his own hands, he whispered, “Find food elsewhere. Leave this place,” and stumbled home to die.
Next morning, another sufferer dragged himself to the doctor’s door only to find his skeleton lying in bed. Starving, he picked the mushrooms growing from the doctor’s eye sockets and ate them, raw.
Now a monster taps his way through the streets of Prydyl, white stick for guide and mushrooms for eyes. Hungry, he searches for food.
Thick and Thin
by Van G. Garrett
Trees punched like we slept with their wives and girlfriends.
“I’ve never tried so hard in the dark,” Elmore use to say.
We’d laugh, knowing we’d had women scattered like thorns on vines. Loving them in Buicks. Alleys. Motels. We never worked hard to get them; should’ve worked harder to keep them. Coons—another story, hard to find. Harder to keep.
Elmore’s jokes lightened the dark.
“There’s only three times you’ll find me on my knees. Two of ’em are chasin’ the invisible.”
We chased the invisible. Blood and burlap cut us at the knees.
Lights On, Nobody Home
by Aline Carriere
Knock. No response. She shuffles in her slippers from one foot to another, watching the light under the bathroom door.
“Anyone in there?” she asks in a harsh whisper trying not to wake her sleeping roommates.
She turns the knob, and pushes the door open a sliver, the light slashing across the hallway. Hearing no objection, she enters the empty room. She shuts the door and sighs at the mirror.
“Creeping myself out,” she says, but the lips of her reflection don’t move. When she wipes the glass with her sleeve her image disappears.
Then, she hears a knock.
by Kate Ryan
We ushered through the fair gates quickly. The stalker pursuing, only few steps behind. Reminiscent of a police sketch, no definitive features- only a hoody, sunglasses, and transfixed. My breaths increase, and deepen. Flashing glances into the distance, with accompanying hair tosses over the shoulders, checking his presence. Visually consuming the children, I try to divert him. He is always behind, children in front, unaware, and safe. Fourth check forward, children are gone. Standing in front, the stalker, removes his sunglasses, revealing his bright blue eyes. Presses an invitation into my hand, “Ma’am, wouldn’t want to miss this.” He vanishes.
The Tiniest Bit
by Rachel Ambrose
The monster plucked my brain right off its stem, like it was picking a ripe raspberry. The world went white for a moment, then green, purple, black. I could see no more, taste no more, touch no more. Except for that tiny beating part of myself which breathed in its own time to its own music, the part that watches from above and knows all, God-like, star-like, as we are all made of stardust. It knew. Its knowledge frightened the monster in its rubbery soul. And it screamed, deep into the crushing black, knowing its cries would not go unheard.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Steve Cartwright
by Jonathan Lyons
All afternoon, Marissa shaped sand into towers, turrets, a moat. She avoided broken bottles near the trashcan. “Marissa,” mother called, “dinner.” Marissa returned to the beach house. Later, summer sun still high, others’ footprints cratered her castle. Marissa rebuilt, gathered shards, and slipped them into castle walls. Smiling, she skipped home.
by Aline Carriere
“I dare you to do it,” Sandra teased.
Eager to take the challenge, Jen ran up the stone staircase. Legend declared that at night, when shadows conquered the twisting rocks, a weeping Madonna appeared at the top to reveal the saddest moment of a person’s life, past or future.
“Behold, my destiny,” Jen announced giggling. Dramatically circling her arm, she settled her hand on the apparition, closed her eyes and screamed.
Sandra laughed at the pantomime until Jen began to tumble down the unforgiving steps. Jen’s lifeless body splayed beside her, Sandra watched the spider skitter from a bloodied sleeve.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
by Clay Greysteel
Officer says, “This time we caught him breaking into the prison.”
Brian flips me off as blood drips from between his fingers.
“Can you get him a towel?”
Officer nods to his partner. Partner steps out. “Ten times we’ve picked him up in the last six months.
“He broke into the prison?”
“Attempted. Cut his hand on razor wire.”
Partner returns, hands Brian a towel.
“You charging him?”
Officer sighs. “Your brother needs help.”
“So that’s a no?” I nod toward Brian, “Let’s go.”
As we leave, Brian wipes the bloodied towel along the wall.
by Tessa Mission
Lana drew fractal designs all over her arms with a green ink pen. Like maybe she wanted to be a tree. Without looking at me, she said, “I want to kiss him underwater. I think that would be fun.”
“Wouldn’t your mouths fill with water when you opened them?”
“Exactly,” she smiled, cap back on the pen. She looked out over the lake. “No, really the trick is to make a good seal. You have to press your mouths together hard enough. Then your tongues can go back and forth doing whatever.”
“But how do you breathe?”
by Seth Oden
She photoshopped his picture, giving him absurdly large muscles, and emailed it to him.
He responded with a picture of her, photoshopped so that a finger went up a nostril and poked out her eye.
She aged him in return, made him a hundred and two.
He photographed himself on one knee, holding a box with a ring in it, and shopped it into a picture of her smiling with surprise.
She messaged him back: You’re funny.