Playing in the Dirt by Z.S. Diamanti

You must have spent a lot of time in the sun that your hair would copper so. When I was young, my Papa would bring friends home almost every day. Some were fat, some were skinny. Some were men and some were women. My favorites were the boys and girls about the same age as me. It didn’t matter who Papa brought home, I always loved meeting new friends. But none of them had such lovely auburn hair.

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The Last Gift by Simon McHardy

‘Turn off the light, Susan.’ It is early morning and the cold has crept into the room through an open window. Susan doesn’t reply and I watch the plumes of her breath as she sighs gently and turns the page of her book. I put my hand lightly on her arm, ‘You must be exhausted, you’ve been reading all night.’ She glances in my direction, a hint of a smile flickers across her face which then twists in confusion. Her mouth gapes and her eyes begin to well with tears that drip on to the book’s white pages.

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The Perfect Personification Of Religion by Hugh Cron

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“You expect me to speak to the Archbishop? Your ideas are somewhat radical Father. For you to get on in your career you need to know how to play the game.”

“Radical? I don’t see it that way Your Grace. I think we could do a lot of good. We would build bridges. We could now bring together two sides once and for all. We need to do this, not just with our religions but with them all! But we can start with what we know.”

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Merlot is a Monster by Ashlie Allen

There was water boiling over the pot on the stove the night my niece died. She told me she was craving wheat noodles, so I stopped everything I was doing to satisfy her. I heard the water sizzling as it leaked over the scalding edges of the pot, and immediately ran to turn off the flames. “I’m hungry!” she kept yelling. “Please tell me you did not ruin dinner!” “I’m sorry little love.” I chanted as I rushed the noodles to the sink. I let cold water run over them, but it was too late. The noodles had burnt up and were sticking to the steel. I could see the shadow of her bowing in the doorway, her tiny body shuddering with hysterical sobs. I scratched out the charred noodles and handed them to her. “Wipe your tears.” I whispered. I was crying too. She grabbed my leg and cuddled it when she noticed. I leaned against the wall like a ghost watching his loved ones play on without him, expression doleful and hateful at once.  I knew she was drying when I felt her grip loosen around my limb. “It’s okay dear. Go ahead, die. I cannot take care of you the way death can.” Her body dropped from me, carefully sprawling across the floor. I stared at her, face white with grief, eyes bulging as if I despised her, and kneeling at her side, I lifted her over my shoulder and carried her upstairs.

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Who Weeps for Cthulhu? by Douglas Rudoff

Concealed just beneath Pier 63 on the Seattle waterfront, Rob and Lonnie await in the open 16 foot aluminum boat. Between them face down on the boat’s floor is the mock bride, a mannequin wearing a white wedding dress slowly absorbing the moisture of the inch and half puddle it lies in. Lonnie looks at the mock bride, the veil and the blond wig fluttering in a cool breeze. A bouquet of spring flowers, freesias, peonies and daisies, is duct taped to her rigid right hand, the best they could do to make the flowers appear they are being held. She wears a pair of scuffed white leather pumps. Within the fiberglass body of the bride is a six -gallon polypropylene bladder full of Trader Joe’s brand tequila mixed with red dye and corn syrup, based on a recipe Lonnie used twenty-five years earlier for the blood needed for a community theatre production of Sweeny Todd. Three leftover bottles of tequila lie in the puddle beside the bride. Beneath the tequila-filled bladder, in the mannequin’s lower torso is a jumbled pile of twenty-one and a half pounds of turkey kielbasa, also bought at Trader Joe’s, a decent enough imitation of entrails for the Wedding.

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