Merry Christmas Charleston CLAWS by Leila Allison

You can touch Shax, but only by “appointment.” First you have to establish eye contact with the old tom and at the same time make a “scratchies” gesture with your index finger. If you correctly spy permission in his imperious gold eyes, then, and only then, may you apply a “scratchie” to the surprisingly short distance between his ears. Any failure to comply with this procedure will result in a personal math system based on the number nine.

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West 86th Street Time Machine by Patrick M. Butler

Two days ago there were still those who went about saying that Peter was a false Tsar, perhaps the Anti-Christ himself.  But then, just as the hour of three was being struck, two long, thin clouds joined in the form of a cross above our village.  It was a Friday according to the new reckoning.  Marina, the serf girl, was the first to see it.  She fell to her knees and crossed herself, then ran to tell the priest, my father.  If he was drunk, as usual, he was nevertheless quick to realize how he could use this “sign”.  Were the rumblings of those who opposed the Tsar to go unchecked, the soldiers would soon be set upon our village to leave behind the smoldering remains of peasant huts and bodies swaying from scaffolds.  So I was ordered to toll the bell which summons the peasants to the village square where my father put them on their knees in witness to this miracle.  Such a voice he had!

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Memory Drive by L’Erin Ogle


I am a dutiful wife.

It’s Monday.  Every Monday and Thursday, I visit Lucas.  I always bring new flowers, and since it’s the summer they’re from my own garden.  There are daisies and tulips and baby’s breath.  It doesn’t matter what I add to the water, or how I snip them, they are always dead when I come the next time.  The staff will have ensured there are no dead leaves scattered around the vase on his windowsill, but the stems will remain, withered stalks decaying in their coffin.

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