Out in the Turkey Pen By Leila Allison

Reader Advisory:

The Union of Pennames, Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters (UPIFFC) now requires the anonymous employer of an associate penname to give the latter a yearly performance review. This event usually occurs in the sort of establishment where the wait staff all have the personalities of unpurged butter clams. As it goes with PR’s throughout the observable universe, the employer typically leads off with the employee’s strong points as a method of Trojan-horsing in darker observations. Sadly, for the employer, the penname has access to each and every of the former’s thoughts while the employer remains as clueless about the penname’s wicked ways as ever. To put it plainly, the whole thing goes to hell from the get go, and the only thing that I as Leila Allison’s employer get from our conversation is a tingling headache and bewilderment over the fact that my alias has the social graces of an irked thirteen-year-old child.

However, I may have gained something useful from this year’s face-to-face. I now present the missive that my penname scrawled on a stack of cocktail napkins not long after she dropped the pretense of pretending to listen to me—But I’ll give her this much: she writes awfully damn fast. Unfortunately, my headache has prevented me from reading it; and it may also be true that I only wish for it to be known that I have had nothing to do with its construction, just in case it too goes to hell from the get go.

Respectfully,

Ms. Allison’s Employer

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Get Away by GJ Hart

In the kitchen of a cottage nestled among oak trees they waited – for neighbour, for colleague; for broken doors and strangers with zip-lock bags. Jay was long gone, whipping across fields, toward the blockhouse he’d carved with nails and fire. He crawled into peace and wished he could stay, wished he could curl up on the soft, wet earth and sleep. But if he did they would find him, find him without looking and he wasn’t ready for that medicine, for any medicine – just now his liberty was a sickness he refused to cure. He dug up his plane ticket, kicked things quiet and headed toward the airport.

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Car Crash Television by Nik Eveleigh

…you can actually taste the friction Dimitri.

Stu shook his head and stared, unnoticed at his iPad surfing wife. “Did you hear that Jen? They can actually taste the friction.”

“Hmm…that’s nice love.”

“I suppose they’d know that sort of thing what with it being a cooking show and all, but actually tasting friction? I can’t even begin to contemplate what friction would taste like. OK that’s not true, I imagine it tastes pretty similar to sticking one of those nine volt Duracells on your tongue when you were nine and stupid but that isn’t the point.”

“I expect so love.”

“You’re not even listening to me are you? I could say whatever I wanted right now and you wouldn’t hear a word of…come to think of it it’s probably more like sucking on wet wool.”

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And A Crow In A Pear Tree by Nik Eveleigh

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And in the alehouse below
A creature was stirring
A miserable old crow…

“Stirring’s a bit strong a word for it to be fair Nug, but I admire your cheery optimism.”

Nugget shook his lumpy, misshapen and somewhat yellow head. “You know me Bresst. Ever cheery.”

“Been meaning to ask you something though, Nug. What’s this Christmas thing you keep singing about?”

“That? The celebration of Christopher Thomas?”

“Eh?”

“Christopher Thomas? You’ve heard the tale of Old Chris surely?” Nugget laughed goldenly as Bresst shook his head. “In that case I propose the same again to lubricate the tale. And,” he continued, poking the form slumped over the table beneath a black feathered cloak, “We’d better get another ale into him if we’ve got any chance of him functioning. Now where’s my favourite…ah! There she is! Menna! Three ales please darlin’. And a couple of those otters on a stick if you’d be so kind.”

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