Boots sank into the damp ground, charting his path through the mud. The long, gnarled wooden stick added its own accompanying impressions. Pulling the brim of his hat low to guard against the puddles of rain exploiting gaps in the trees, Vincent walked. Unconcerned about the trail he left, knowing nature would conceal it long before any of them rose. He’d dedicated his life to knowing their practices. A commitment borne of bloodline. They hunted. They executed. Without exception.Continue reading “Beasts by Claire Marsh”
Category: All Stories
Southbound Traveler by Mason Yates
Dereck Banks found himself alone on the desert highway, a single vehicle on the massive but narrow southbound scar—a blemish on the natural brown landscape, that is—made of asphalt and metal road signs. His windshield flickered in the vibrant sunlight, and his tires crunched tiny rocks and pebbles and specks of sand. He kept the windows rolled down and radio turned up (an oldie—“Kaw-Liga” by Hank Williams—happened to be on) and let his wispy hair blow in spring winds, the temperature outside (mid-seventies) perfect for spontaneous road trips to nowhere and everywhere all together.Continue reading “Southbound Traveler by Mason Yates”
The Glorious Both/And by Jane Houghton
She walked down a long street, new-build red-brick configurations either side of her. She didn’t rush, she had no need for rushing, her strides slow and steady. A slight thing, tiny, some might say delicate, but she wouldn’t be stopped. Couldn’t be stopped. A row of prop-forwards would struggle against her. A decision had been made, signed and sealed in her head. She was going to do it. SHE WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO DO IT. The joy that this yielded rendered her untouchable.Continue reading “The Glorious Both/And by Jane Houghton”
A Flowerbed of Lies by Steve Combs
There’s foolishness and then there’s sin. I’m talking breaking the big-ten sin. You ever did something stupid like drunk texted and thought you felt shame for it? Nah, that’s not good enough for regret! Good enough for regret is when you steal or kill.
Don’t know how I got in the park that night with my 9-millimeter. Told that fucking Puerta Rican, “don’t drag me to no gun range, I deal with depression.” He taught me to shoot, and that didn’t do me no favors. See, you own your weapon of choice and tell yourself you gotta protect your family, but the shit lays idle until it gets in the wrong hands, and in this case, it got in mine during one of my episodes.
Walking the park, don’t even know how I got there no more than how I got the gun, and I’m going down the sidewalk, you know all outta place. Got on a long black robe over striped pajama pants. Top hat going on, too. Real pajama gangster. Sign says not to step on the prairie. So, what’ I do? Step both feet on, after all I’m wearin’ a fuckin’ top hat.
What happened next, you aint gonna believe, but remember this aint makin’ me look good. I’m confessing sin. Good enough sin for regret. Them flowers on that prairie came to life. You say plant life is life too, but I’m saying they really came to life, here. Started singing so beautifully, I wept. The sunflower in the middle-had lady bugs crawling all over. Goes, “easy, ladies, I’m married.” He sang base. Most beautiful rendition of happy birthday I ever heard, and them ladybugs told me I was gorgeous.
What a flowerbed of lies. Fuck em! Fuck em’ for telling me life is sunshine and rainbows. Let me introduce you to me. I’m thorn. I pulled out the 9-millimeter and aimed it at that ol’ sunflower!
After all, it must be a hallucination, right? Right? But Mr. Sunflower in the stiff stems, squirting blood with his base range up to high pitch screams haunts the hell outta me. I can’t forget it. For the sake of Mary and all the saints—I can’t. Clovers and coneflowers and goldenrods rushed to him. That’s reds and violets and yellows or something like that. Doesn’t matter, cause even the bright colors are dull.
What matters is Mr. Sunflower in a huff says, “my last wishes are for my family to get the little house like Michael Landen’s that I promised, and that you forgive my assailant, for I too have a soiled and seedy past.” He’s a guy like me with his own rap, dying cause I popped him. And he’s praying for my forgiveness? Yeah. Hope his family gets the house so half his wishes come true.
Might of got outta that prairie without any detective looking for the pajama gangster, but neither God nor me will ever get over what I did to that sunflower.
Image by Pavel Durčák from Pixabay – flowerbed filled with mixed colourful blooms
Now a chance to get to know one of our wonderful authors in more depth.
This time it is the turn of Rachel Sievers who has been with us since 2021 and if you haven’t had a look at her stories, now is the time.Continue reading “Sunday Whoever”
Scoundrel Through the Ages by Dan Shpyra
It is common knowledge that a man of high status but of the lowest of incomes is in need of a wife with a hefty dowry. Edgar Brown was no exception to the rule.
Mr. Brown was pacing the parlor, anxiously checking the time on his golden watch. It was one out of two fortunes left to him by his late father, William Brown: An aristocrat with a pitiful love of horse racing. It was not, however, the fortune of the watch, but rather the fortune of his looks, that got him this most desirable appointment. He was handsome, indeed: A tall young man with broad shoulders and luxuriant dark hair. Those two gifts, the golden timepiece and his pleasant looks, often brought him numerous acquaintances with the most agreeable young ladies. Mr. Brown was agitated nonetheless, for this time, the match was not to merely secure his evening but his future in its entirety.Continue reading “Scoundrel Through the Ages by Dan Shpyra”
Girlfriends by Donna Tracy
Warning – References to suicide, bullying and self harm.
It is in the dead days between Christmas and New Year that Candy finally comes. The cat stands in the doorway, back arched, tail huge, hissing into the vacant space beside me and I know, even before I turn my head and see the pale shape in the tail of my eye, that it’s her. I am twenty-eight now, twice the age she will ever be. Perhaps I wanted to believe that she had forgotten.Continue reading “Girlfriends by Donna Tracy”
Cinema by Evelyn Voelter
I’m in our living room and the sun is hitting the couch in your spot just how you liked it. I always wanted to close the curtains so it wouldn’t fade the fabric, but today I leave them open, like you would’ve wanted. I suppose I’m daydreaming again because I swear I hear your voice. But when I turn to look at you, your spot is still empty.Continue reading “Cinema by Evelyn Voelter”
A Sign of the Times by Hugh Cron
She walked her dog, the same places, the same time at night and also first thing in the morning.
Those who knew her spoke, but the youngsters all had their heads down reading whatever pish was on their phones.
Garibaldi was a boxer and he wasn’t the brightest, but he made her laugh.
“Hi Ella, how’s it going?”Continue reading “A Sign of the Times by Hugh Cron”
The Year of 13 by Lisa Shimotakahara
When I was twelve I was cute. When I was thirteen I was ugly.
Acne whacked me. The cute me. The twelve me. It happened overnight. It happened so fast that inside I was still twelve. Still wide-eyed and twelve. Still wide-eyed and twelve and oh-so-underprepared.
My friends (friends!) called me Silly Putty. Me, with my shiny, bulbous, pink-colored face. Grinning like jackals, they called me Silly Putty.
How did this happen? Overnight! How did the canyon open? The open canyon. From twelve to thirteen. From cute at twelve to thirteen, bulbous.Continue reading “The Year of 13 by Lisa Shimotakahara”