Bike Trails and Ash Clouds By Contributing Editor Cheryl Anne Gardner

October 31, 2015 Comments Off on Bike Trails and Ash Clouds By Contributing Editor Cheryl Anne Gardner

You just have to let the hunger take what it needs and love what it loves.

I love you.

Simply.

I don’t even know what love means or how to do it. You robbed me of that.

I hear the sound of running water, or it might be the sound of blood running down the length of me.

How pretentious, you, offering me a light … a drink … and then a ride home.

Is it because I can’t dance?

How did you know I couldn’t dance? I’ve been sitting here all night, and yes, I’m an introvert; it’s obvious to me, but when you say it, it sounds so thin.

Pointless.

We’re both awkward, but even so, your advances are suspect. Lewd. Just the way I like them, but I don’t tell you that. You said, “Hey. Remember that fat girl from high school? The one they called miss kitty because she liked to finger herself in the shower after gym class?” and I said, “That was me.”

You’d taken her panties. Left her crying on the football field when you promised to kiss her and then didn’t. It was just a random moment in time. You told everyone you’d fucked her though, and that she liked it.

Everyone laughed.

At her.

Not you.

I used an alias on my name tag tonight. You couldn’t have known it was me. I’m thin, beautiful now, and you’re … not. I saw you slip that powder into my drink. A few minutes ago, when I went to freshen up. Some things never change, but I’m immune to your charms now. You couldn’t know that, either. I wasn’t then, so in the end, assumption would be your undoing. Not mine.

“Oh, how silly of me; now I’m being pretentious.”

That’s what I’ll say to you. Just before I shut the trunk so I won’t have to hear you begging. It’s the silence I’m after. I’ll seek comfort tonight, in the moon … and in the dream I once had of you screaming. I’ll smile. I’ll revel in the small comforts, offered, until now never taken. Just like I did all those years ago on that cold lonely football field where you and your scumbag friends scarred me for life.

You were the first, so how could I not still love you?

Look—

I’m a snow angel now. Thanks for lending me your skin to make my wings. I hope the thought of me doesn’t haunt you anymore.

© Cheryl Anne Gardner (2011, November/December Issue II). Stone Highway Review

When she isn’t writing, Cheryl Anne Gardner likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her writing has been described as “beautifully grotesque,” her characters “deliciously disturbed.” Her short fiction has been published in dozens of journals, and she is currently the head fiction editor at Apocrypha and Abstractions Literary Journal.

Lunch Hour By Robin Wyatt Dunn

October 30, 2015 Comments Off on Lunch Hour By Robin Wyatt Dunn

I find the right parts to eat: her urge to buy the extra lipstick, his fantasy about a black dwarf, the child’s anxiety about ice cream cones, and the dog’s dream of clouds. I gobble them up so that they never were.

All the things that could have been and are not fatten my gut.

I live in a tower, over 2nd Avenue. I watch you cross the street. I look into your eyes, with my sunglasses on, and my mind, like a tongue, flicks into your brain.

© 2015 Robin Wyatt Dunn

Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming during the Carter Administration. He lives in Los Angeles. He is a member of the intelligentsia. He holds three degrees, drinks coffee (lattes included), and thinks that being intelligent is a good thing and talking about ideas worthwhile. He is the kind of pinko egghead Joseph McCarthy wanted to flay alive and burn at the stake on the White House lawn. He knows that the McCarthys and the Pol Pots and the George W. Bushes of the world are always and forever eager and ready to slit his throat and dump him in a mass grave. This is why he has a wicked sense of humor.

Hoping for Gravy By Robin White

October 30, 2015 Comments Off on Hoping for Gravy By Robin White

Justin dropped his brother-in-law’s tongue into the road, knocked the dust off his boots, and stepped back into his car. Whistling through his teeth, he eyeballed his brother.

“Now,” said Justin. “We’re gonna wait for that son’bitch out there to bleed to death and then two things are gonna happen. An’ you listen good, now, a’right? I ain’t gonna untie you and I ain’t gonna un-gag you. What I’m thinkin’ to do is, I’m gonna kill you. An’ I’m gonna talk. Don’t squirm now, don’t squirm. Just stay the fuck still, little brother, or I’ll make it hurt like I did that little bitch out there.”

Justin leant over his brother and looked out the open passenger-side window. His brother-in-law, bleeding from his mouth onto the road, was squirming in the dust. Blood had pooled across the dying man’s shirt and the back of his jeans, and Justin grinned at the memory of the noises he’d made.

“I’m gonna kill you quick, cuz we’s family, and I love you. But you ain’t right is all. So I’m gonna shoot you, real quick, in the side o’ the head, and then I’ll go home and see the family. I’ll tell ‘em a real nice goodbye from ya’, and I’ll tell my boys that their uncle’s in heaven, where there ain’t no fuckin’ queers to turn them from the ri-chuss.”

Justin wiped his bloody knife across his brother’s jeans then freed his gun and rested it against his brother’s temple, forcing his head out the window. On the dash, the radio crackled into life, but he ignored the sound.

“I told you. I gave you chance. I said don’t be a cock sucker. I told you. A’right? Don’t be tellin’ Jesus and all ‘em apostles that I din’t give you no chance, cuz that dog ain’t gonna hunt. Man. You know what? I’m havin’ steak and eggs tonight.”

Justin pulled the trigger, opened the passenger side door, and rolled his brother into the dirt next to his brother-in-law who had long ago stopped moving. Satisfied and with ringing ears, Justin pulled the door shut, gunned the engine, and then headed back towards town. He was thinking about steak and eggs and hoping for gravy.

© 2015 Robin White

Robin White is a twenty-six year old writer and teacher from the United Kingdom. He’s been previously been published in Dogzplot and has pieces upcoming in Pidgeonholes and the Eunoia Review.

The Almost-Werewolf By Colin Rowe

October 29, 2015 Comments Off on The Almost-Werewolf By Colin Rowe

Having passed out naked in the forest, Dave had set himself up for a truly legendary prank. By covering him with blood and animal guts, I was sure I could convince him he was a werewolf. It had been a full moon that night, and Dave was prone to believing anything during his manic episodes. Unfortunately, the ground was uncomfortable, or the sun rose too soon. Catching the squirrel was noisy — perhaps that’s what woke him — but whatever the cause, Dave was awake too early, and there I was standing over him with a freshly-killed squirrel, looking like a fool.

“Fuck you, Dave,” I said.

I dropped the squirrel and walked home without explanation.

© 2015 Colin Rowe

Colin Rowe has been published by Cracked.com, Aurora Wolf Magazine, Danse Macabre, The Boston Literary Magazine, The Eunoia Review, and a dozen other flash fiction magazines. He lives in Santa Fe, NM and tweets under the handle @lowericon.

Sunday in the Truck with George By Jillian Rochelle Etheridge

October 29, 2015 Comments Off on Sunday in the Truck with George By Jillian Rochelle Etheridge

I had just fired up the chainsaw when something startled me. I turned, and everything became covered in red. I didn’t even notice Marla. I guess I sort of saw her when she fell down, but really, I didn’t notice her until I looked down to find the source of all the blood, and there she was, her mouth wide open, but I couldn’t hear her over the chainsaw in my hands, so I turned it off.

“Marla?” She didn’t say anything. I took off my gloves. The blood had stopped spewing but was still gurgling up through the slit in her neck. “I’m going to get you to the hospital,” I yelled down at her, emphasizing my words as if she had suddenly gone deaf. I ran the thirty yards to the house and pulled the truck around to where Marla had fallen.

“Don’t worry, honey. It’s going to be okay,” I said, reassuring her. “I’ll get you to the hospital.” I tried to pull her up, but she wasn’t much help, so I had to scoop her up into my arms. She was a lot heavier than she used to be. She had gotten quite a bit bigger, but I guess I’d gotten a little bit weaker than I used to be.

I slid her into the passenger’s seat and buckled her up.

“You’re going to be okay,” I told her as I pulled onto the road.

I patted her knee at a red light, but she didn’t pat mine back and hold it like she used to, and so I looked over at her. I knew she was dead. I hit the gas pedal, and the next thing I knew, there was a cop after me. I looked at Marla and looked in the rearview mirror. I was not ready to explain the situation, so I kept driving. I pushed on the emergency blinkers. The cop car pulled ahead, sirens wailing into the springtime sun. I held onto Marla’s knee the whole time, just in case she changed her mind.

I tried to stare straight ahead because blood was still coming out of her neck in little gasps, and I needed to figure out what to do once we got to the hospital.

“How am I supposed to explain this?” I asked Marla, but she was still pretty dead, and I’m grateful that she didn’t answer considering the state she was in, but I sure wished she could have. Blood was all over the truck, and on me, and layered thick on her Sunday dress, the one she bought last year for Easter. We’d fucked like rabbits that day, and the next morning she’d had to wear a scarf because of the hickey I had left on her neck. We were too old to be marking each other, and too young to be dead.

I realized I didn’t have my seat belt on. Marla did. Marla always wore a seatbelt.

© 2015 Jillian Rochelle Etheridge

Jillian Rochelle Etheridge received her BFA in performing arts from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is currently in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she is the PR representative for their in-house online journal Product.

Pavor Nocturnus By Kathryn Michael McMahon

October 28, 2015 Comments Off on Pavor Nocturnus By Kathryn Michael McMahon

I sit on chests night-dark or moon-pale. If they are gray, they are already rotting. I sit on their chests and I squeeze them awake with my hips.

Sometimes I stick my fingers inside their brains, bend things, bite.

They hate me, but I am here to save them. He is coming to eat, but he doesn’t take nibbles like I do.

Sometimes they cry when they fall asleep, praying for my sister with soft hands and no teeth. Sometimes their bodies change, fit into mine. Sometimes they open their eyes and stare, wild-up. They cannot move.

The children, I only whisper into.

I paste my face against their eyelids until they scream.

He is coming, but my wings beat faster than his bulky ones.

© 2015 Kathryn Michael McMahon

Kathryn Michael McMahon writes a variety of literary and speculative fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Subtopian and is forthcoming from A cappella Zoo’s queer issue this autumn. She is an American raised abroad and has found a home in Vietnam with her British wife. She has a phobia of stuffed animals, which being a preschool teacher has failed to cure.

The Bee-eater By E.N. Loizis

October 28, 2015 Comments Off on The Bee-eater By E.N. Loizis

Maya’s eyes glisten in the fading sunlight, her cheeks flushed from running around the playground in the heat.

“Can you keep a secret?” she asks.

I say, “Sure,” and so she moves in closer, whispers in my ear.

“I can read people’s minds.”

I look at her wide-eyed, and she nods earnestly.

“It’s true.” She smiles proudly, her hair in braids brushing the waistline of her dress. I’ve never seen hair so long.

“What am I thinking right now?” I ask.

She examines my face, a stern expression of contemplation on hers. She puts her hands on my temples and closes her eyes.

“You’re thinking it’s awful hot and you want an ice-cream.”

“Wow! You really can read minds.”

She opens her eyes and smiles again, a smile that lights up her entire face.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I say after taking a quick look around to see if there’s anyone nearby. The playground is empty apart from an old lady walking her dog in the distance. Maya sits down next to me on the bench, so I lean in and tell her that I ate a bee.

She gasps, covering her mouth with one hand.

“Cross my heart and hope to die. I was minding my own business when this little bee flew right into my mouth and pfft next thing I know it was gone.”

“No!”

“Yes! Ever since, there’s been a buzzing in my belly. It bounces around in there trying to find a way out, but it can’t.”

“I bet she feels scared and lonely.”

“Well, it did fly into my mouth.”

“I guess so. But she didn’t know what she was doing.”

Maya looks sad thinking about the bee, so I ask her, “What about that ice-cream?”

“I’m not supposed to eat sweets before dinner.”

“What’s one more secret to keep?” I ask her, and a mischievous grin appears on her face.

“Okay,” she says, and so I offer her my hand. The sun has disappeared, and we walk side-by-side hand-in-hand as darkness envelops us.

The ice-cream truck is parked right around the corner. I can feel the buzzing in my belly grow stronger as I lead her inside and close the door.

© 2015 E.N. Loizis

E.N. Loizis is a 32-year-old Greek writer who lives in Germany. She writes flash fiction, short stories, and poems while trying to conquer the ultimate beast: her first novel. She blogs at http://enloizis.wordpress.com

 

The Little Story of Our Kindness By Aria Riding

October 27, 2015 Comments Off on The Little Story of Our Kindness By Aria Riding

All of us ladies gave birth to monsters at the same time, which was not surprising since we were always getting our periods at the same time. Even so, we all hid it from each other because we all thought it should be kept a terrible secret, but you know, we can’t keep secrets. One day we all came together for tea without our four-day old babies, which was a pretty suspicious coincidence, and because we couldn’t keep our mouths shut, after a few extremely unconvincing lies, our pitches rising, beads of perspiration delicately trembling on the veins protruding from our anxious foreheads as we tried to out-banshee each other in shrill, overly loud, defensive voices, the jig was up. What a relief! There came a battery of hugging, nervous laughter, and expansive gesturing as we all empathized with each other, although each of us was secretly convinced that the calamity was probably the fault of whichever one of us we were biding resentment towards that afternoon. Even so, we worked through it and arranged a drowning party for everyone except E., who we sensed was presently the weakest among us. She could deal with her monstrous baby on her own. Three days later, an apparent fellowship of mutual sympathies met at the river under the moonlight — save one. In all and uncomfortable, we laughed over the cooing and gurgling sounds, which, coming from the deformed mouths of our children, seemed exaggerated and contorted. Not the sounds of human children, sounds that we would stifle when our hands laid their irregular little bodies in the river and submerged their enormous heads. We made sure to let each other see tears through trembling prayers until the resistance ceased. Until the ripples ceased. But M.’s swam away from her. Was seen arcing its briny back in the silver shimmers of the moon. Then it was gone. We felt a little nervous, as if we had ostracized the wrong person.

© 2015 Aria Riding

Aria Riding was once awarded China’s prestigious medal for “kindest little girl in the world.” She is seeking representation and publication for her dissident, experimental novel, The Exhibitionists. Riding was awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize for fiction while attending Bard College. She studied with Bradford Morrow (editor, Conjunctions), William Weaver (translator, Umberto Eco) and the poet Robert Kelly. She has been published in the Southern Voice Newspaper, YAWP, Lydia Lunch’s Widowspeak, and numerous small press journals. Riding is the co-founder of Lost Dance Project and Psychomachia Theater and member of Caligula Cartel.

Vanilla By Andy Tu

October 27, 2015 Comments Off on Vanilla By Andy Tu

Kila asks me which color of snow I chose today. “White is not a color,” she says when I tell her. “It must not have tasted good.” I tell her that I did not taste it.

“Then why did Madam bring you to Snowman’s house?”

I shrug my shoulders.

“Maybe Madam is preparing you for Ceremony,” she says, taking my hands into hers. “Remember Lala? The same thing happened to her before she left.”

Kila scrubs my back with the sponge. “I’ll clean you extra tonight,” she says, “just in case.”

***

Madam holds a candle as my sisters and I pull our blankets up to our chins.

“Ceremony will be a place of magic,” says Madam as she steps toward the door. “Many of your sisters are still there, waiting for you. In Ceremony, you have snow every day. There are colors that you have never seen, better than your favorites at Snowman’s house.” Madam raises the flame to her lips. “You girls are special, do you know that? You will help many people, and their lives will be forever changed because of you.”

“Why do these people need our help?” asks Kila.

Madam blows the candle out. “They are sick,” she says in the darkness. “Now please be quiet, and close your eyes until the light arrives.”

When I close my eyes, I see the face of a man with skin like the white snow. I wonder if he is the person I am going to help.

***

As I comb my hair, Madam enters and tells me to follow her.

“But I am not ready, Madam.”

Madam smiles the way she did yesterday, after I pointed to the white snow.

“Please Oni,” she says. “Hurry. There is not much time.” Madam brings her lips close to my ear and whispers, “It is your time, Oni. It is time for Ceremony.”

***

I did not get a chance to say goodbye to Kila, but I will wait for her to join me one day.

Madam holds my hand and guides me up moving stairs. We arrive at a place that looks like Snowman’s house, but bigger. I look through the foggy glass and see that what Madam says about Ceremony is true. There are many new colors. I want to taste them all.

Madam pulls me toward a man who’s holding a stick to help him stand. For a moment, I think that this is the man I saw when I closed my eyes, but no, it is not him.

“This is Mister,” says Madam. “He is the one who needs your help. Say Hi to Mister.”

I should listen to Madam, but my lips feel stuck, and my throat becomes dry. “Say Hi to Mister,” Madam says, squeezing my fingers.

***

I have helped many people and tasted many colors. When Kila comes to Ceremony, I will tell her that white is my favorite, and that it tastes like the clouds in the sky.

© 2015 Andy Tu

Andy Tu likes to talk about writing, life, death, shadows, mirrors, and original sin.

Customs By Clare Sabry

October 26, 2015 Comments Off on Customs By Clare Sabry

Most commonly, one would enter the Pond alone, or with a close friend, sibling, or lover. According to scripture, no more than two could enter the Pond at a time. It was a place to escape everyday pains and tribulations.

Parts of the Pond swarmed with fish, large ones with gray-blue scales and mustaches. Other areas were entirely silent.

The design of the Pond varied from family to family, region to region. Some of them were basked in sunlight, in backyards and in fields, others were hidden in caves or under large tree roots, and others overlooked the sea. None were uncomfortably cold or warm.

The Ponds were a popular place for suicide as well, as the center was more than fifteen feet deep. The water would never stain, even if the body, when found, was drained of blood.

© 2015 Clare Sabry

Clare Sabry studies creative writing at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. Her story Desert Stones was the 2014 recipient of the SFUSD Arts Festival 1st Place award. She loves writing fiction, playing bass guitar, and trying to tame her cloud of hair.

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