Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork by Joseph Pravda.
The Night of a Thousand Heads
by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
The pileup of heads began at sunset. By midnight, the streets were full of them, silhouetted by moonlit shadows. We’d begged the narrator to stop it, but he couldn’t. He’d shed his trench coat and fedora, told us he was through with the job. He was sorry and tired. We gathered in droves, laughing spectators, without sympathy for the dead. That’s when we saw the narrator on the hillside, holding his wife’s head. He pulled back like an expert bowler, sending her flying, her dead momentum rushing past us, weighing us down in our laughter. “You fuckers,” he said.
by Callum Davies
No stubble. Four days have gone by now and still no stubble. Every time I look out of the window it’s the same clouds. The hot water isn’t working and there’s no food in the fridge. No cars ever come past. The birds don’t sing. I can’t leave. I don’t know what’s out there anymore. The belt is still tied to the doorknob where I left it. Perhaps I am, too.
The Royal Wedding
by Dan Campbell
Before the wedding, there were the usual preparations. The princess tried on wedding dresses and the royal maids dusted and mopped night and day. The royal secret service positioned snipers and checked for bombs in the church and mines in the street. The royal police trained in crowd control while the royal army stationed tanks in strategic locations and filled the sky with drones. Meanwhile the prince, who was just a frog the week before, remembered his friends who croaked in the night, and he wept when the princess ordered the royal environmental agency to drain his frog-days pond.
by Merrill Sunderland
She is the kind of bald skinheads only dream of. Her skin became pale after one night in the hospital. As a sheet. She wears a blue-speckled gown called a johnny that covers little and flails open without aid or consent. She can only sleep when she dreams of her two little boys, four and eight, thank god for small favors. Her arms grow tubes fastened in place by wads of tape that wrap and wrap around her. There’s no skin to be seen. When she’s finally unveiled, de-tubed and sent home, her boys will hug her nearly to death.
You’ll Thank Me Later
by Cerise S. Carter
Smile until it sticks, my girl. I made you breakfast in bed when you were sick, remember? That hole punched in the wall was a mistake. I cry tears of remorse for you. I tell you we should go camping, and it will be romantic. Share that Facebook status; tell your friends, dear. I only spent all of our money on guns because I need a collection to feel whole. I am an aficionado, remember? How could you love me and not want me whole? You are safe with me, love. I give you the world. The one I made.
Special Thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.
Gabriel, Oh, Gabriel
by Jonathan Oak
She lay on the insertion room table. Her DNA screening had gone well. The GBRL came alive, unfolding as it approached her, wings of light illuminating the workspace between her legs, its arm extending a gently curved duck-billed facilitator. It hummed like Sunday mornings; early, sleepy dawns when her mother moved like a half remembered song, making pancakes, listening to sermons. Then the miracle of modern science happened, the immaculately conceived child, not born of lust, or desire, but in the clean, comforting atmosphere of purpose. They were making the world a better place, one unblemished child at a time.
Without A Song
by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
The boy chases after the Chevrolet, rain falling from graying clouds. If he’s fast enough, he can stop Mother before she leaves him at Deerfield Academy. He doesn’t know anyone. Back home, he was Piano Boy, writing compositions about autumn and lonely kingdoms. It was hardly a compliment, but he knew where he fit. He remembers Mother smiling when he wrote his first composition. Rocking him to sleep after nightmares about dung-beetles. Dung-beetles who chased Mother across their favorite ice-skating rink.
The boy stumbles, the car fading into a pebble-sized speck. He cries into flickering shadows in the rainy, wind-swept street.
Every Time I Look
by James Croal Jackson
You sat alone in bed as the others filtered out. You did not inch away when I got close. You said “hey” so quietly I imagined it. Your head was on my shoulder like in a dream. I said, “I’m drunk.” You were, too. I felt the roughness of your jeans. Your fuzzy sweater clung to my arm. Your hairs brustled my cheek. I said, “I like you.” A chill inflicted the room when you told me I should have saved it for another time. From bed I watched the rest of the party dissipate into vast, empty space.
by Edward Palumbo
She was my Venus, and she had four limbs, although it was rumored that she was missing a toe. I never found out. “Make love to me in the dark” she would say, “and don’t look at my feet.” She painted in reds and umbers, odd, as she was a musician. “Someday I will be the greatest pianist in all Russia,” she promised, “if I ever get out of Milwaukee.” They came for her one spring evening. She called for my help, but I had a face full of shaving gel. Perhaps this is better.
by Marc D. Regan
Max decided a backdoor might be necessary. Like a dog door. Just in case. Because things don’t always work out. Divorce was huge in those days. The prospect of being left alone terrified him. Thus, without her knowledge, he devised a plan. A series of steps. He could go here or there. He would stash money. Just in case. Because people kept secrets. Media corrupted morals, bred fear. Friends modeled new possibilities. His wife had changed. She radiated independence. He needed a plan. Just in case. When he looked up from his scheming, she was grinning. Which meant what?