A Little Bit Toasty By Ben Gamblin

“Reload the story,” Harry said.

“Harry, I just—”

“Please?”

Kenneth sighed and clicked the arrow icon. Their network connection was slow in the mornings and the page reconfigured slowly. First came the bold, enlarged headline, followed by the ads. The smaller print loaded last. Kenneth and Harry skimmed the entire article again but it read the same as before, no updates or revisions of any kind. The suspect is in a blue Volkswagen Passat heading southbound on I-5. Police are urging other motorists to avoid—

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The Haunting of Miss Gwen Cooper by Leila Allison

4 A.M. New Town Cemetery, Charleston, Washington

******

Eternal Keeper reached into the sky and plucked threads of starshine. The sheared strands merged as a multi-colored lightning bolt which struck the only oak tree inside New Town Cemetery. Thunder failed to tattle on the bolt; no one saw it strike; nor were the plentiful, watchful, sensitive, nocturnal creatures in the graveyard aware of it; nor did it in the least disturb the slumbering daybreak birds, nor squirrels, nor even the insects that inhabit the lone graveyard oak. But something did happen within a set-aside dimension where Keeper and the spirit of the tree coexist. Come sunrise, the shape of a  ghost, whom Keeper had woven from the threads of plucked starshine, rose from his grave and proceeded to the power and safety of the enchanted tree.

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Kilted by Adam Lynch

‘The yung stag stood there wi blud on his muzzle. Prostrated before him wis the defeated challenger. They didnae fight for the right to a wuman, nor the right tae land but fae the sake of fighting’s sake. A hatred bore within both stag’s hearts exploded that misty mornin. For one had been taught to hate the other and the other tae hate the first. In truth the stags both looked the same and lived the same lives. Yet one lay deed and the other munched on his flesh. The ecstasy of hate well realised pumped thru the yung stag’s veins. He felt strong and mighty and the monarch of that moment. Whit did his violence gain besides this fleeting high? Fuck all. He sustained a wound to his left shooder and part of his earlier impressive crown was snapped aff and jammed in the deed stag’s neck. Blood soaked his soft brown coat and he looked altogether minging. The meat of the deed stag was tough and manky. The yung stag was close tae boaking so he left the quiet scene of quiet violence.’

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Lee by Cooper Woodham

Lee woke on a Monday. His hands shook while he tried brushing his teeth. He cursed silently and intellectually and sat. He cursed the thought of never being able to sit still for his constant hand-shaking. His heart could not rest, nor his mind. He sat and thought while he shook in silence with the sound of the shaking and the sound of his furious shaking-mind always turning and never resting. He thought about how he would shake all week and wake up the next Monday with the same pain-frustration and mind-shaking and unrelenting body-shaking. Thoughts of living another week in shaking and another week without stillness of body or mind or soul. Thoughts of another week of doctor visits and medication. Thoughts of careless curse-smiles and unanswered questions and unease. Lee despised the thought of next Monday.

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