All Stories, Humour

Revamp by Peter O’Connor

“We all remember what this house was like just three long days ago, dim, dum and dire.  A space that forced the family apart instead of wrapping it in a comfortingly casual caress.  Let’s take a peek at what miracles our team have managed to accomplish. Come on in.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Skeleton Crew by R W Maxwell

All things are equal when a ship is a ship and her crew is a crew.

So I say, “This here ship ain’t a ship, ’cause her crew ain’t a crew. Not even a skeleton crew, like Bucktooth says. Though I admit, ye won’t find a skinnier bunch of skeletons than us.”

And the crew laughs.

Then I say, “’cept for Fat Norton.”

And the crew don’t laugh so hard.

They looks at Fat Norton, who’s stroking the handle of his flintlock, and he’s looking right scared ‘n’ red ‘n’ round ‘n’ ripe ‘n’ juicy ‘n’ plump —like a tomato what’s ready to burst— and the crew’s looking right hungry and he’s looking real afraid.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Arm Milk by Spencer Levy

Tin men play their kazoos too loud. Like having an annoying ass bee trying to drill into the deep part of your ear. It’s Sunday and it’s the boardwalk. Sea spray that you’re not supposed to touch or it’ll leave a nasty pollution rash. Gregg doesn’t care, though. His arm is messed up anyhow from all the lousy skateboarding.

Gregg rides and I walk and the waves shove against the wooden thing beneath our feet. Some people call it an embankment, but that sounds too much like a place where loose-tie fathers coax children into cashing checks in exchange for thin lollipops. Gregg grazes his lousy arm against the slippery arm rail, catches some sea spray in his mouth.

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All Stories, Fantasy

Beach Walk by Phoebe Mullen

He hears the call, a long, low wail like a loon calling across the grey water.

The Kelpie is restless. The Kelpie has sat with him on long nights, soothing his hot, teary face with its cool tendrils. Its dark form will creep up on the beach again today, because he has been neglecting it. He’s been with his girlfriend now almost two years to the day, and she’s been the one to sooth his tears, wrap her arms around him when his shoulders shake.

But the Kelpie has been there always. He owes it. It is restless and eternal, vast and unending, a constant low murmur in his ear, like the sea. It is lonely, hungry. So now it calls him back. Calls him to make his choice.

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All Stories, Literally Reruns

Literally Reruns—L’Erin Ogle—How to Raise a Monster – chosen by Shawn Eichman

Shaming works. I can no longer bear the terrible weight of Hugh pointing out every week how no one ever offers to take on the challenge of suggesting a story for Literally Reruns. I’m going to pull myself out of my narcissistic reverie on my own stories long enough to break the chain. And throw down the gauntlet to the next person. And any other hackneyed phrases that might offend all you literary readers enough to prove that you can do better.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction, Writing

WEEK 410: Will You Still Feed Me; A Brave New Year; Mistaken Identity

2023 looks more like an address number than a year to me. Yet when I see 1985 as an address, I think of the year. I liked 1985 for the most part, yet I have already developed a distrust of 2023, though we are just a few days into it.

Racehorses have New Year’s birthdays. As I have since childhood, I still imagine them wearing leftover New Year’s Eve party hats in the stable, eating birthday apples. I identify with the Horses because my birthday happens very close to the start of the year. But unlike a three-year-old Mare, I didn’t don a party hat because I am suspicious of 2023’s intent.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Iceberg by Paul Kimm

Saturday night. They were round at Robbie’s getting ready. Paul was doing Robbie’s hair. An hour offloading a full can of hairspray, backcombing his dyed-black mass of candy floss that increased his height six inches and was broader than his shoulders. Mel, sprawled back on the bed, was ready, and had been since Paul started Robbie’s hair. The television, on top of the chest of drawers where his mum kept her extra clothes, was switched on, the volume turned to zero. Mel had his green jeans on, a Bauhaus t-shirt with the arms sawn off and triple-buckled boots. The hour working on Robbie’s hair was double the time Robbie’s mum used to take, but she refused to do it anymore. Robbie had on his mandatory black suit and a purple paisley shirt. His mum was already out somewhere so they had the record playing close to full blast on the turntable. Paul was mid-backcomb on Robbie’s fringe when he jolted forward from him pointing at the television.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Climbing by Antony Osgood

For the fortieth memorial picnic, Egon Frankl had prepared ditalini with tomatoes smothered in oil. The food shimmered beneath an airless Viennese sun as he waited for his brother, who adored the dish. Not once did Egon sneak a bite. He’d long ago learned to go without so others might eat. Whilst his brother was normally late – Egon’s disappeared wife, Hilde, the person to whom the afternoon was supposedly devoted, once said being late was Ignaz’s chief characteristic – that day Ignaz excelled himself by failing to make any appearance whatsoever. Egon occupied himself by admiring the tattered life for which the city park was home. He ardently wished for his brother’s Copernicus moment, when it would dawn on Ignaz that the universe did not revolve about him. Younger brothers – even one aged eighty-two – seem duty bound, it seems, to disappoint.

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All Stories, Fantasy

A Hell of a Story Part Three by Frederick K Foote

“Handy, this is a pretty good turnout, isn’t it?”

“Oslo, man, how many people do you think are here? Maybe 200 or so? And people keep coming. I mean, a lot of these folks just invited themselves, I think.”

Handy and I are sitting on a slope overlooking the picnic grounds at Southside Park on a cool September afternoon. The sounds of the blues and the aroma from the bar b que are calling me back to the celebration. 

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Lone Inheritance by Tom Sheehan

Henry Searles, once an unknown character in this business, did not imagine what the insides of Ted Gentry’s house looked like because he had no idea where to begin his search for furniture, trinkets, odds and ends, lackluster fragments of Gentry’s past, lost articles in a blindly-kept closet holding piled up clues. It all appeared pointless and highly impractical, just a guy he met on the corner where the river slips under the bridge, had a drink with him at a bar, like they were old friends suddenly rejoined rather than new acquaintances, but Gentry, sort of mystically, left a note with the barkeep to deliver to Searles if anything ever happened to him, as though Doom itself had made the call.

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