Short Fiction

Step 13 by Joe Jablonski

Marku 3 was a planet with a sun in eternal eclipse.

I landed there just over a week ago, careful to make camp within a small clearing in a forest full of pale, leafless trees. It was midday. It was brisk. There was a calming eeriness about the way the dim orange sunlight painted everything in shadows.

On that first night a group of the planet’s natives came to the camps’ perimeter and watched me in wonder. They were primitive with skinny inverted legs, bulbous heads covered in wire-like hairs, and a single eye embedded within the center.

They communicated amongst themselves with clicking noises made by tapping two bone plates on the inside of their knees together.

One came as an emissary, approaching within feet of me. As it stepped within the harsh glow of a floodlight behind me it suddenly froze.

It’s single eye dilated. Every hair was out like spikes.

It started with a low rumble in its chest. A soft frequency vibrated inside me, growing stronger by the second.

It was warm.

It was mesmerizing.

A dopamine rush flooded my system. Nothing else existed but ecstasy.

Continue reading “Step 13 by Joe Jablonski”
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.

Continue reading “Arm Milk by Spencer Levy”
All Stories, General Fiction

Liza, Like Lizard by Joy Florentine

She’s like a storm cloud drifting my way. The thick, grey coat and bright yellow rain boots are probably a choice she made herself, because the sun’s out and I’m sweating like a pig. I don’t understand why Lenny would let her go out like that, but I don’t have kids and won’t pretend to understand what it’s like. I guess my only comparison to dressing a child is when Roger, my Rottweiler, comes running to me with his lead between his teeth because he wants to go to the park, and he’s got only that one lead. I guess I shouldn’t call a dog my kid, but all he wants is to eat, play, sleep, and shit. Roger’s the closest thing I’ll ever have to a kid—which I’m perfectly fine with.

Continue reading “Liza, Like Lizard by Joy Florentine”
All Stories, General Fiction

These Hands by Rob Vogt

It doesn’t sound sexy at all, this medical condition that makes her fingers turn blue in cold weather. Dangerously blue. She worries constantly about frostbite and nerve damage, even amputation. Her fingers are long and slender, like twigs used to start a fire on a camping trip. Twigs do not sound sexy, either. But whenever Jennifer rubs her hands together, briskly, vigorously, you cannot help but think about the way her fingers would feel if they were wrapped around you. The palm of her hand feeling your heft, your warmth. Probably this should never happen because the two of you met in recovery and according to absolutely everyone you have ever spoken to, jumping into bed with a fellow alcoholic is a horrible idea. Still, you know that you will never forget the day Jennifer walked into the very same meeting that you were attending, snugged into a pair of hard rocker jeans and a scoop-necked t-shirt. Legs up to here, sun-kissed cleavage, eyes that were feline and feisty and hard. How in the hell were you supposed to concentrate on sobriety sitting across the table from all of that? Pretty soon both of you stopped going to meetings and started playing tennis on the local high school courts. Buying air mattresses at gravel-driveway rummage sales. Sitting on the couch watching movies from the 80’s, belly laughing at things that were funny at the time (and also at things that were not).

Continue reading “These Hands by Rob Vogt”
All Stories, General Fiction

End by  A. Elizabeth Herting

Sterling Redmond Calico lay sprawled out on his stain-covered recliner, his limbs heavy and lethargic. The poison was snaking its way through his body, he could see with an artist’s imagination its slow and determined march through his veins. Thick, black and ominous, destroying him cell by cell as Red caressed his cheek on the cool salvation of a half-empty beer can. He could see the snow falling fast through the single cracked window in his rent controlled, shitty third floor walk-up. The flakes made neon-white streaks, flying in rapid succession like a warp-speed trip on the Millennium Falcon.

Continue reading “End by  A. Elizabeth Herting”
Crime/Mystery/Thriller, General Fiction

To Anacortes by Susan DeFelice

Leena’s fingernails are thick as scallop shells, her case worker Victoria observes. Her clinical afterthought is shoe tying and sewing must be near impossible. They are driving to a campground outside of Anacortes where Leena will stay with friends. Borne from desperation and desolation the transitional housing definition has expanded to include camping. To pass the time as they drive Leena recounts traumas with her parents, ex-husband, kids – especially her youngest daughter who kicked her out.

Continue reading “To Anacortes by Susan DeFelice”