Stopping by a Bar by Roy Dorman

The garishly colored neon sign announcing “Bailey’s Come Back Inn” and the booming of the bass coming from the band inside could easily be seen and heard from the road.

The gravel parking lot was full, leaving patrons no choice but to park on the patchy snow on the lawn near the building.

Though it had started to snow and he was still miles from a warm bed, Alex Redford turned into the lot and parked up on the lawn.

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My Guns by Kika Dorsey

I have a lot of guns. Most of them people have given me, and one I stole. Adam bought me a shotgun to hunt grouse and ptarmigan in the mountains, and we would eat the meat carefully, picking out the pellets. The rifle I couldn’t resist taking from the old man who was an evicted hoarder, and I was hired to clean out his basement. It had been under a pile of new shirts with their tags still on them, and I stuffed it with the clothes in a trash bag, carried it out, and put it in my trunk. I never shot deer, so I would lend it to Adam, who sometimes brought home venison that I would cook with carrots and tomatoes in a stew. A friend had given me the handgun. I had been complaining to her about my current job weeding the landscaping for some man who worked for Google, wore silver chains and Hawaiian shirts, and kept trying to touch my shoulder when we talked.

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A Boy Before Dawn by Levi Eddie Aluede

The bus halts. I can feel the memory of my mother waft over me when the automatic doors swing open, the air pressure changes… I land on the wet floor, my boots squeak against the surface. The stop is empty and clean, freshly made like everything in Inner New Borough. Greeting me with the smell of metal. It permeates from recently finished buildings, it makes up most of what surrounds me. It smells harsh, makes me wanna spit. Each step I take towards Kusanagi’s building, I take with caution, though, it makes me wonder, how she ever got used to walking up and down these roads. It’s not classy or respectable, it just makes me sick to my stomach. But now she’s one of them, a child of Stalemate, living in a reflector. It sounds stupid the whole idea of it. But now I think on the concept, everything seems a little stupid since I came back from Holy Mountain, no doubt she’ll enquire about my findings, her lost brothers. Better smoke a little something before my nerves get the best of me before my eyes stare a little too long at her new plastic nose. I light my joint, look up at the bleak night sky, at least I see stars here, ain’t no stars in Stalemate, all you get is a blank sheet of dusty orange. It covers everything like a dirty blanket. They say the sight irritates the eyes, sure enough there’s a tendency for seemingly random periodic blindness but I can’t say nothing, as far as I’m concerned. I look at the orange sky all the time and, well, my eyes feel fine.

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