A Way Out

by J.C. Piech

The corridor mimicked the Martian landscape; linoleum flecked with rusty reds and dusky pinks, and the color on the walls a dull yellow like the alien sky. Mikhail’s boots, gray like the studded metal doors flanking him on either side, sent echoes ahead of him as he marched.

Tiny green lights blinked at him from the security cameras in the ceiling, and his breathing shuddered loud in his ears. Beneath a wool jacket and nylon shirt, his back prickled with sweat. Not because of the ever-watchful green-eyed guardians; he was used to those. It was the uncertainty of whether or not they’d believe his performance.

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Flutter

by Gustuf Young

“Mommy?”

“Yes, my child?” Her back bristled with chitinous spines, gathering microscopic dew in the rapidly cooling eventide.

“I can’t sleep.”

“But you must sleep. A child grows faster when they rest. Besides, breakfast is being made.” The mother was bundling a parcel, spinning it into the loom of her abdomen as the toxins turned the victim to stone.

“But I can’t sleep,” the cotton orb stirred, a fluttering inside the pliable strands, woven tight.

“Are you hungry, child?”

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Frozen Heart

by Esther Davis

The snowfall muffled the distant highway, and frosted autumn leaves still clung to their branches. Cody perched on the bench’s edge. His pug flopped into the carpet of snow at his feet. He watched Rachel’s fingers molding the handful of snow—clumsy and awkward. So simple, so ordinary. Magicless.

It was beautiful.

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Sponsored

by T. Gene Davis

Brandon

If it’s sold, the Man chips it. HDTV? Chipped. Shoes? Chipped. Cats and dogs? Chipped. Underwear? Chipped.

That’s life. Who cares? Everything has chips.

When the student loan bubble burst, average folk like me needed new tuition sources. I decided to go with sponsorship. The Man pays my tuition, books, and rent until I get my diploma. In return, I became a walking chip-activated billboard. Continue reading


The Real Stuff

by Tara Campbell

I was headin’ out to feed the cows when I heard a zinnia ask, “You got a minute?”

I shoulda known.  When a flower asks you if you got a minute, it’s gonna take more’n a minute. But I didn’t think nothin’ of it at the time.  I looked down and all I saw was a few a my wife’s pink zinnias straggling up from a dusty patch a dirt.  Their heads were all turned in my direction, so I didn’t know at first which one had spoke to me.

“Excuse me?” I asked. Continue reading


The Commute

by Jenny Goss

I wanted to growl at the man boarding ahead of me—a real growl, like one of those extinct jungle cats projected at the zoo.  I bit my tongue, though, worried that mimicking extinct felines could potentially get me committed.  Instead, I protected my bulging belly from his wayward elbows as he fought through the small crowd for first place in line.  I didn’t want my little girl brain damaged because someone had hit the snooze button too many times.

I shivered.  The air this far below was so damp.  It seeped through my tunic and bored its way through my muscles until it reached my bones.  I hated the tube.

“Everybody’s in a hurry, huh?”  The woman beside me murmured.  She was also pregnant.  Of course. Continue reading


Night Market

by Justin Stewart

A few candles flickered in the room, casting shadows on the curved wall. A rabbit here, a house there, assorted flowers and even a wine glass. A thousand different shapes wandered the room. They were just pieces of paper suspended from string, mere ornaments guided by a mobile above, but the candlelight made them more. It brought the shapes to life.

It unnerved her.

“Take your time,” said the Whispering Woman. The words were no encouragement. You only came to the Whispering Woman if you were desperate. Desperation didn’t exactly breed patience. The girl wandered between shapes and string, chewing at her lip. None of them called to her. They all seemed random and unconnected, both to one another and her life. She thought about grabbing one at random and being done with the whole, terrible process, but then her future would be decided. Continue reading


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