A Little Bit Toasty By Ben Gamblin

“Reload the story,” Harry said.

“Harry, I just—”

“Please?”

Kenneth sighed and clicked the arrow icon. Their network connection was slow in the mornings and the page reconfigured slowly. First came the bold, enlarged headline, followed by the ads. The smaller print loaded last. Kenneth and Harry skimmed the entire article again but it read the same as before, no updates or revisions of any kind. The suspect is in a blue Volkswagen Passat heading southbound on I-5. Police are urging other motorists to avoid—

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Chess with Al by Harrison Kim

I’m watching Al’s fingers lift his chess knights in the day room of a maximum-security ward at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital for the criminally insane.  Al’s an older patient just out of seclusion.  Pasty white cheeks, grey stubble, slack mouth, intense brown eyes, with lids that drop unexpectedly, and flutter, and open once again. His fingers hold a castle’s head, then release it.  He moves to a pawn, lifts its top.

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 Bike Killer by Doug Hawley

I don’t drive.  Everywhere I need to go I can walk, bus or taxi.  I take a bus to my job at Hadleys Department Store in the Consumer Help Department.  You should know that I am a highly valued employee based on my ability to resolve customer problems while still maintaining company policy.  Trying to find a parent for a screaming child or dealing with someone whose credit card bounced without ruffling feathers or giving away the store is like walking a tightrope.  Someone who wasn’t both reasonable and sensitive couldn’t handle it, believe you me!

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Anna by David Douglas-Pennant

Anna was not one to look twice at anything or anyone. Everyone looked twice at her though. They couldn’t help it.

Most people don’t bother looking twice at insignificant details, so unsurprisingly she wasn’t particularly popular. People thought Anna was either arrogant, or stupid, or both. But I knew that when she did look twice at something, even more rarely someone, that look could take hours, it could take days. I’ve spent my whole life waiting for her to look at me like that.

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