General Fiction, All Stories

The Wait by Lisa Toner

The child is painfully thin.  Her ribs poke against the taut skin of her back as she draws on the dusty floor with a stick.  She crouches on toothpick legs, supported by hardened feet which rarely see shoes.  The bottoms of her filthy white shorts graze the dirt floor.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Bund by Richard Yu

There were many things in life that Oscar did not comprehend. Miro, for one, totally baffled him. When it comes to abstract painting, he would readily relegate that area of expertise to his wife. Afterall, she had attended art school for a big part of her life, so she was supposedly an art connoisseur as well as an artist herself. What puzzled Oscar was why she bothered to learn all those advanced techniques just so to paint like a five-year-old. “You should find a job teaching kindergarteners how to paint,” Oscar would snipe. Naturally, his wife ignored his snide remarks. Just recently, she had bid on a sketch by Miro for as much as five years his salary, he being a CEO of a high-tech firm that supplied chips for the space shuttle. Had he run across such a sketch in a flea market, he wouldn’t have paid more than the price of a can of sardines for it, if only for the scrap value of the frame and mat.

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All Stories, General Fiction

From an Appalachian Peak, a Small Red Star for Me and My Father by Tom Sheehan

This appointment came when light tired, this arrangement, this syzygy of him and me and the still threat of a small red star standing some time away at my back, deeper than a grain of memory. I am a quarter mile from him, hard upward on this rugged rock he could look up to if only his eyes would agree once more, and it’s a trillion years behind my head or a parsec I can’t begin to imagine, they tell me even dead perhaps, that star. Can this be a true syzygy if one is dead, if one is leaning to leave this line of sight regardless of age or love or density or how the last piece of light might be reflected, or refused, if one leaves this imposition? The windows of his room defer no light to this night, for it is always night there, blood and chemicals at warfare, nerve gone, the main one providing mirror and lethal lens, back of the eyeball no different than out front, but I climb this rock to line up with another rock and him in the deep seizure of that stolen room, bare sepulcher, that grotto of mind.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Evaluation by Yash Seyedbagheri 

Nick needs his wine. Merlot, Malbec, good dark-colored wines, wines that have just that tinge of bitterness to them but aren’t completely devoid of sweetness. Every night, he pours a glass. Promises himself it’ll be just one glass. But he swigs it in ten minutes straight, feeling the rush of dreaminess, the sense of elegance. He inevitably goes for the second glass, turns on Tchaikovsky or Debussy. Clair De Lune is his go to piece on the most depressing of nights, piano chords that offer tinkling company, the nights after faculty offer unwarranted advice or another student doesn’t understand his comments on a story or another and needs explanation. How do you explain in plain English that a story simply isn’t good?

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All Stories, General Fiction

The IT Guy by Samantha Carr

Dave was convinced his PC was possessed. He’d gone to get a coffee at ten like usual. The earliest reasonable time he could slip away from his desk without looking like he wanted to slack off. Today was Gail’s birthday. Office rules meant she had bought cakes and he wasn’t going to let Sharon get the best. Dave put the muffin with two mini eggs on the desk to the left of his keyboard, and the coffee on top of his SeaWorld coaster and it was then that he saw it.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 341: Where Have All the Disposable Ensigns Gone and Results From the Great Cat Division of the Feline Olympics

Three or four years ago I gave up on network television for the sake of my safety. It doesn’t mean that I have departed from gazing glassy-eyed into a screen, but nowadays I feed the vacuum in my mind caused by a lifetime of watching TV with YouTube and NetFlix. The TV is still on, but in the other room, tuned to one of those retro-channels, to long since departed shows, which star dead actors who come back to life for twenty-three to forty-six minutes five days a week, in worlds where forever usually arrives no later than 1982.

The main reason for this involves the Discovery Channel and its spin-offs on basic cable. For years my general sense of fear and isolation was greatly enhanced by an endless succession of learned talking heads who glibly informed me what would happen to Earth if it wandered too close to a black hole or was bathed in a gamma ray burst or nailed by an asteroid the size of Cincinnati. And none of it was pretty. End of Days. Repent. I was more distrubed, however, by the smarmy attitude of the scientists who spoke of these possible calamities with twinkles in their eyes. Why were they so happy to suggest these things? Isn’t everyday living hard enough already? Are these people sociopaths? And how come they all wear khaki pants and blue shirts? Even Victor Frankenstien owned a tie.

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All Stories, General Fiction

 The Questing Knight by Michael Bloor

As a schoolboy, Sam Groat had played in the same boys teams as a previous captain of West Bromwich Albion; his teammates from back then had all agreed that Sam had been the better footballer. His mother was an anarchist refugee from the Spanish Civil War. His father was killed in his car by a drunken plastic surgeon attempting an emergency plane landing on the B5032 outside Kirk Ireton.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Pearl by Morgan Krueger

I thought it would be a relief to escape, to finally be free; free from the accusing eyes, the whispered comments, the scornful stares. And for me, it was. It was glorious freedom. I relished the human interaction that was suddenly possible. I was free to be me without being accused of being a witch or a devil’s child. But for mother it seemed to be a punishment, to be void of punishment. This puzzled me; indeed I was hard to understand my mother’s plight, why she spurned the friendly people of Austria, always polite and a willing confidant, but never inviting friendship. After a while the reason became apparent; it was the embroidered patch on her dress that still set her apart, not because others spurned her, but because mother chose to keep that scarlet token as a wall between herself and the Old World.  

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All Stories, General Fiction

Visiting Dr. Redd by Constance Woodring.

Everyone in this place talks about Dr. Redd. I had never wanted to talk to staff because (1) my spies would get wind of it, (2) Dr. Redd sounds crazier than the patients here and (3) he might get suspicious. Nurse Bealer, who looks like Charles Laughton on a bad day, convinced me to go. She just wanted me off the ward for an hour or so.

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