Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Louis Staeble.
The Fear Bomb
by Jonathan Oak
When the fear bomb hit the city, everyone around Samuel was at first frozen with fear and then ecstatic with it, running blind with terror. But Samuel had been afraid for so long he hadn’t noticed a difference. He just continued taking calls. Though he did feel, unaccountably, less alone.
by Connor Powell
Poor boy. She’d caught him in her vegetable patch, kicking her prized pumpkins. She brought him in and made him stop moving. As each day passed he changed. Slowly, his head began to bloat. Finally the day came where she took him outside. It’d taken her three days to dig the hole, right in the centre of the vegetable patch. She dropped him in, and filled the hole with soil, leaving only his bulbous orange head above ground. Thick green vines spouted from the top of the child’s head, engorged by her tender care. She always grew the best pumpkins.
by John C. Mannone
Rain obscured the caution sign, but he kept speeding, maybe thinking about his girlfriend. He should’ve kept his eyes on the highway, not the box of roses on the seat for his date. Now, someone else’s red rose, stem and thorn, had been cut short. Her umbrella lay broken on the ground.
It’s Not Insomnia
by Anne Pem
Still scared in your boots there, kid? Wonderin’ why your fingers keep drippin’ red? Why you ain’t slept in days, Marty? It’s not insomnia. You wonderin’ why nothing seems real no more, boy? It’s cus it ain’t. No, you did not wrestle that gun from your daddy, hold it in your trembling hands, and point it right between his scared eyes like you planned. It was not your finger that pulled the trigger on him. You were too slow again. It ain’t daddy’s ghost keepin’ you up nights, kid. It’s you who’s haunting him.
I Bring Her Diamonds. My Hands are Full of Them
by Eric Robert Nolan
I bring her diamonds. My hands are full of them.
“Please,” she sobs heavily, “stop coming back.”
I had no money for diamonds, once.
When my car crashed, the exploding windshield sent diamonds rushing deep into me – my eyes, my throat – my hands – all shining in the moonlight. The pain was overwhelming. And then it stopped. And all I could think was I finally had something to give her.
Every full moon I come to her porch at midnight, to show her how they shine in my open hands. But every time she only holds her head and cries.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.
by Richard Jennis
Mr. Lemieux showed me a flimsy little photograph, black and white, stained with tear marks, crinkled into sixty-fourths from years of folding and unfolding into increasingly smaller wallets. “It just gets bigger,” he explained. “It can’t fit anywhere anymore, it simply consumes everything.” The first girl was soft and yellow like a balloon that might just float away, and the other was bright and musical like a walking serenade. “She died, her sister survived,” Mr. Lemieux explained. I held him for three hours and waited for him to tell me which one, but he only muttered, “My baby. My beautiful baby.”
by Tammy Lynne Stoner
Winter came quickly with a sudden frost. Electrical lines snapped. Olive trees died. And the albino alligators in the zoo froze. She watched them float down the river that curved through the zoo, wondering why their hard bodies didn’t sink. It wasn’t a bad way to go, she thought, they probably fell asleep first. Maybe that’s how I’ll do it. The woman tucked her chin into her scarf and looked down at the green water. The dead alligators drifted on top. She wanted to touch them but instead let them pass by, a parade of ghosts headed for the sun.
by Jessica Standifird
The dishes are growing in number, and there are whispered clinks and rattles every time I walk by the kitchen sink. I fear a coup if I am unable to meet their demands. “Would you want to be covered in three-day-old grease?” One plate spat at me this morning as I was on my way to shower. I waved my oily ponytail at him in response, my lips pulled tight and eyebrows raised. The plate spun around and settled deeper into the crowd of teacups and silverware with a grumble. I am afraid. The knives are in there.
by Tessa Mission
She replaced the sand in the hourglass with dried, dead spiders. Every time her mother made her stand in the corner for sulking, bad posture, or speaking out of turn, the spider bodies would sift through the narrow hole in the hourglass, breaking apart finer and finer as they measured her punishment. Soon they were nearly powder. In the middle of the night she snuck into the kitchen and poured them into the pepper shaker. The following evening over dinner as her parents berated her about her grades, they shook pepper onto their potatoes and ate them all up.
The Ewok and the Orc
by Anne Pem
The ewok was sobbing. Thick brown makeup ran down his face like a mudslide as he sat leaned against the wall at the comicon. Androids passed him, pretending not to notice. Pikachu pointed and whispered to Wonder Woman. Ultimately it was an orc who finally sat beside him.
“Mok’ra,” said the orc.
“Lurd,” the ewok patted his chest. “Lurdo.”
The orc tore a rag from his costume and offered it. The ewok wiped his face as the orc scratched him behind his brown ears and tried not to crush him with a hug.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Tobias Oggenfuss.
Can Anybody Here Juggle?
by Barry Basden
I hardly recognized that guy in last night’s movie. He looked weary, just hanging in. What was that film in the ’80s with him so cynical, so beautifully stoned? Stoned–a lovely way to endure these streets melting in the dark, empty but for the neighbor’s yowling cats. Not at all what I expected. Tonight’s late late movie: Busby Berkeley, colorized by Turner. Orchestra in tails. Syncopated ladies in drag. Acrobats. A magician perhaps, something new up his sleeve for a change.
by Robert Scotellaro
He was in there smoking pot again. Mixed with the deep, otherworldly sounds of his Tuvan throat singing. His fifteen-year-old peep-tone voice, plummeting. Like his CDs, which sounded like devils chanting with frogs in their throats. You hungry? she asked through the door. Her hands hungry to make something. His No! soaring back several octaves. She poured some coffee. There was sunlight on her azaleas, needing watering. There was the cat brushing her for food. There were still a few teen years left. She over-sprinkled fishy stars into a bowl. Some things were just easier to fix than others.
by Tony Lee Marman
“You told her?” I say.
He holds up his hands. They’re trembling.
At first the girls are impressed when he doesn’t try to get in their pants on the first date. Second date, the kissing goes okay, but it progresses no further. Soon after, they start to think it’s them. Finally, he admits he’s terrified of the sex act. They laugh before realizing he’s serious. (This realization can take a week or more.)
“She dumped me,” he says.
“So what now?”
“Live a long and lonely life. Nothing wrong with that.”
“The ‘lonely’ part?”
by Anne Pem
When I sit on the public restroom toilet, the cold presence of something wet is there. Someone else’s piss—or maybe just toilet water thrown on the seat in a violent flush—contaminates my skin. I wipe, but it remains throughout the day as a patch of nervous discomfort growing larger than the bounds of the initial contact. The contamination spreads with everything I touch. My husband grabs my naked ass before bed, and his hand becomes infected. Everything tainted until we’re all-over dirty with someone else.
by Clay Greysteel
New Mexico. They set up camp in abandoned city ruins. Groups were territorial, hoarding provisions, fighting.
Lars sat with Alaina in the shade after she’d become faint. Her belly grew larger every day. Lars suspected she’d been raped, but he never asked and she never told.
“We can’t keep fighting over leftovers,” he said, watching as the others prepared for a raid. “We need to become self-sustaining, or work together, or… something.”
“Belief is power,” Alaina said, patting her belly. Desperation within the group had led to rumor that she was Mary, and the baby, Jesus. “We use this.”