Paradise Forgiven by Leila Allison

Television News Items:

“Disturbing news out of South America. Columbian authorities are investigating reports of multiple public stonings. An unknown amount of ‘seer-children’ have allegedly been stoned to death at outlying villages in the Columbian countryside…These events are similar to those alleged to have occurred throughout the world in this past year–including one such occurrence in the United States…”

“NASA confirms that a six-kilometer wide asteroid named Tourmorlaine B will indeed pass between the Earth and Moon in 2027. However, NASA officials repudiate the findings of a group of independent astronomers who claim that the planetoid has a high probability of striking Earth on its return pass in 2029…”

“A panel of psychiatrists will gather next week at NYU to discuss the phenomena of ‘Animisitic Empathy’ as well as possible telepathy in autistic persons… This is seen as an abrupt about face on a subject which has been steadily gaining traction on social media…”

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Caught Wearing the Rags of War by Tom Sheehan

The day’d gone over hill, but light still remained, cut with a gray edge, catching rice paddy corners. In battle’s blue brilliance they’d become comrades, friends, Walko and Williamson and Sheehan, at night drinking beer cooled by Imjin River in August of ‘51 in Korea. Three men clad in rags of war. Stars hung pensive neon. Mountain-cool silences were earned, hungers absolved, ponderous God talked to. Above silence, that God’s weighty as clouds, elusive as windy soot, yields promises. They used church keys to tap cans, lapped up silence rich as missing salt, fused their backbones to good earth in rituals old as labor itself, men clad in rags of war. Such August night gives itself away, tells tales, slays the rose in reeling carnage, murders sleep, sucks moisture out of Mother Earth, fires hardpan, does not die before dawn, makes strangers in one’s selves, those caught wearing rags of war. They’d been strangers beside each other, caught in the crush of tracer nights and starred flanks, accidents of men drinking beer cooled by bloody waters where brothers roam, warriors come to that place by fantastic voyages, by generations of the persecuted or the adventurous, carried in sperm bodies, dropped in the spawning, fruiting womb of America, caught wearing rags of war.

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One Prisoner Too Many by Tom Sheehan

 The sound came once more. He stiffened. It was closer. His whole body knew it was closer. It was not just in the hearing. It approached. It made inroads. It said so. The metal toe. The kick. The slash. Ping Too smiling through his teeth. Oh, would Ping have a thirst for amontillado! Oh, were he himself the finest of stone masons, setting Ping Too up for the full sentence; to make an end of my labor, to force the last stone into place; to set the best of mortar, forever? 

Caught between the professor and the captain!

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Mean, Median, Mode by Dominic Dayta

It was the topic of discussion, the day he took me to sit in his Elementary Statistics class. He had on his signature look: slim-fit polos with elbow-length sleeves, jeans, and sneakers. He looked closer to a student than a lecturer. In his class, the boys yawned at the sky out the windows while the girls regarded him with glassy eyes and flushed cheeks, asking question after question, swooning at his careful answers. Everything about him was measured: how he smiled, how he modulated his voice, how he angled himself at the chalkboard. Whenever he went to the teacher’s table to check his notes, he would hold his hair at the forehead while he looked down. From the back of the room I watched him man his class like a blockbuster performance.

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Fancy Goodnight by Frederick K Foote

At the dinner table, Fancy Goodnight, my seventeen-year-old granddaughter, drops a bombshell, spills the beans, or lays an egg depending on your perspective.

“Hey, you guys, guess what?”

Lavender Green Goodnight, Fancy’s twelve-year-old sister, responds. “You’re pregnant with twins, and you don’t know who the father is. It—”

Topaz Goodnight their fifteen-year-old sister interrupts, “It could be any of twelve homeless, drug-addicted, ex-cons that—”

Mavis Goodnight, the girl’s forty-year-old mother attempts to put the conversation back on track, “Enough, don’t joke about that. Fancy, what do you want to tell us?”

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