All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

The Fall Guy by Marco Etheridge

Louis Pyne squats on his haunches beside the corpse. The boathouse is cold as a meat locker. A massive hangover is dancing a tarantella six-eight time inside his skull, and the two guys standing behind Lou are making him nervous. At least they’re hungover as well. Hell, even the corpse would be begging for aspirin if he wasn’t so dead. 

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All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Baptism by Fire by David Lohrey

Her husband wondered where she had gone. Bernadim could see his wife’s car clearly from the air. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong. He took a quick look as he passed over, spotting his wife’s Jag, a beautiful new sedan which she preferred to drive herself, often leaving her driver when she was certain to find parking. He hadn’t noticed before the beauty of the drive’s flowering canopy. Years ago, on a trip to Table Mountain and Cape Town, his grandfather had been inspired by the wide use of the jacaranda and, upon his return, had dozens of the flowering trees planted along the road leading to the family house. When in full bloom, which happened more or less all at once, the full-grown trees created what looked to be clouds of lavender and violet descended from the heavens, ready to carry away all those anxious to meet God.

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All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

In For a Penny, In For a Pound by David Thomas Peacock

You find meaning where you make it, I thought, polishing off my second bourbon and getting up to leave. I’d stopped by Puffy’s after an early piano gig, hoping to take the edge off before heading home. I couldn’t stop thinking about the old man —always worrying about him, continually reframing the narrative in my mind. I’m grateful for the time I have left with him was the best I could come up with.

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All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

One Treacherous Evening by Claire Deans

She shrieks, and the noise echoes through the vast space and up towards the high, glass roof. She is half running, half tottering through Glasgow Central Station wearing a pair of siren blue stilettos. They clatter. A huddle of lads, all pastel shirted up for a night in the town, look over and stare. She throws her arms around me as if it’s a feckin lover’s reunion. ‘Bernadette. Oh My God,’ she squeals. ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’ 

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All Stories, Fantasy

The Grim Morass by David Samuels

They say you’re a paladin, but all I see is a fool.

Look at you: armored like a crawdad with the brains to match. One wrong move on that poleboat and you’ll sink to the base of the swamp.

Gimme your hand. Let’s get you back on solid ground—if you can call this pier solid. The stilts wobble in the sludge, so watch your step.

Not a talker, clearly. Don’t bother unrolling that scroll. I know all about your oath of silence. Word travels fast among us Marshmen. As the village shaman, I was among the first to learn about your little quest. You seek redemption, yes?

Then go home. Adopt a war orphan and get on with your life. Truth be told, you’d have better luck floating in that platemail than slaying the Bogroth.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Transformation by Silke Katja Roch

It is early, the first cool, unflinching rays just touching the rocky outcrops above the house, damp drags of fog still clinging to the bottom of the little valley. The air is fresh and dewy, it smells of wet grass and earth and pines. Quite beautiful really, but also eerie and very still.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Not Criminally Responsible by Harrison Kim

You move into the world, a mind arrival, after a disturbing darkness.  First you perceive outside the body visual… another odd spot on the ceiling.  Peer at the shape, like an inner organ.  Not the spot itself, though it has a strange form, but what hides behind it, from the writing in your dream.   In this dream, you came walking through a heavy mist.  You perceived yourself moving in a swirling, grey white wash of cloud come to earth.  Then you entered the corporeal, inside a body walking from a car towards the front of a gated institution.  You understood that you possessed the persona of a staff member, approaching daily work at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital….the hospital for the criminally insane.  You walked in this persona, up a road which bridges over a dike built to repel high water, a barrier that separates the hospital from the surrounding farmland. You observed the man-made berm with the oak tree at its summit.  You stepped by the sixteen-foot-high fence and the wall cameras.  You pulled out an electronic fob and opened the blue iron gate, and entered the inner grounds. The pastel buildings lay about at diamond-shaped angles, over a small rise you perceived the Central Hall.   You looked past the staff person’s early morning bleariness and found your own motivation for walking in his shoes: the need to know the truth about yourself.  You possessed the staff’s body and followed his path, and his path led to the office of Poplar Central Ward.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Horror

Paraffin Lamp by Alex Sinclair – Warning – strong language and content that some readers will find upsetting

“Verminous dole scrounging deadbeats poetically whingeing that’s all it is, lamenting wistfully about the plight of their work-shy genes. The Celtic curse so it is, forever waxing philosophical about being a shite for brains’ pisshead.”

He stops. He has run away with himself and he can’t remember what he was talking about.

Packy is barely cognizant of where he is. He exists in half dream, half myth.

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All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Cheap Tricks by Alex Sinclair – Warning Adult Content

“Thanks love,” the red-faced punter wheezed, tossing over a tenner, as Charity Proudfoot wiped away the spunk he had dispensed on her lip with the back of a frayed coat sleeve.

She didn’t reciprocate with a banal pleasantry of her own, as per usual, she just took the dishonest twenty and climbed out the motor, which is how she knew a monster of a rattle was on the way if she didn’t hurry up and get her shit together. Normally you couldn’t shut her up.

Charity the chatterbox had been her school moniker, or as her mam preferred, a right mouthy little pain in the arse.

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