by Michelle Tudor
He circles the forest of lights, broken down, wings unfurled. Evading the dawn, afraid to be seen. He tucks broken shards into the tiniest of pockets: gold and silver, flesh and moss. But memories of war lie behind his dark eyes, fading with years. He is cornered as he sleeps in the concrete heat. Is he dead? a voice caws. Through a shaking of heads and eyes turning away in disgust, he awakens. Leave me, he cries. Later, the traffic fumes encase him. The death-smell of the city akin only to the deepest woods.
The Literary Life
by Derek Parker
He had been going to the bookstore for years. When nobody was looking he would take a book from one section and place it in another. Now the plays of Beckett were in Romance, Cupcakes for Everyone was in Erotica, Catcher in the Rye was in Science Fiction, bodice-ripping novels three inches thick with lurid covers had found their way into Maths and Science. After decades, he realized that no one had noticed. I have wasted my life, he thought as he lay dying. And then God spoke to him, in his final moments, and said, “At last. Someone understood.”
Give Me a Sign
by Zacharias O’Bryan
Eighteen months in the dome. Alone. Five thousand meters beneath the waves.
Marietta would have abandoned sanity if it weren’t for… well, she called him Herbert. His single fleshy vacu-pod gripped the Plexiglas, and there he waited. Each morning when Marietta powered the LED lamps, soma opened along Herbert’s trans-ventral divide. Cilia emerged, stirring and filtering the sea. Skin hues iridesced and pulsed, a chorus throbbing to Marietta’s heartbeat.
“Herbert,” she mused, “do you suppose a mono-pod and a lonesome girl could…? Well, you know.” Colors dimmed. His cilia withdrew. The vacu-pod broke suction. Herbert drifted into the abyss.
by Makenzie Smith
We’re not dating but his snores vibrate my bones on the weekends. Wednesday nights we drive out by the lake and watch fish jump before our hands start working. Sometimes we kiss: soft, closed-mouthed. It’s romantic, in those cramped spaces; he buys me sweet tea to wash the taste out of my mouth. In February his fingers were ice bricks knotted in my hair so I brought them to my lips and breathed warm, deep-lung air on the tips. I become real then, he curls his fingers around my breath like he can hold it.
by L.A. Kurth
After the crash, everything changed. On the snowy mesa, I knelt with my arms around a woman seated on a stool, or was it the remains of an airplane seat? I pressed my head to her right shoulder, my pelvis to her back. She was warm and wide and soft-rolled. Nothing at all was awkward or amiss. She stroked my hand in an intimate, comforting way, and I said “This must be the new world” into her ear. Not food, nor work, nor return to the world was important. I felt understood, bathed in sex and closeness. That was all.
by McKenzie Johnston Winberry
Her shimmering lamp swung.
A corpse in the dense, mist-infested woods. He had been a man. So had his killer. Now murderer, and now corpse.
Muffled footsteps as she walked between the trees that her lamp almost brushed against.
From the corpse—somehow more alive than when it was—arose a glittering green, the same color as her lamp. It ascended up to the lamp, which now hung perfectly still over the corpse’s concave face. The lamp absorbed it.
She resumed her steps, the lamp its swinging, the corpse its deadness.