The Ubiquitous Man by Jake Kendall

1. Rob

Robert Coleman was a man. No one could take that away from him. Neither could they credit him with much more.

You’ve probably passed a face like his dozens of times today alone. It is without flaw or charm, symmetrical – set unremarkably against his shortly cut dark hair which is pushed up at the front.

Often when people met him they felt a strong sense of déjà vu. To the extent that some would swear blind they’d met before, if only they could place where. Rob inadvertently abetted that impression as he talked: a pure expression of the pop-culture hive mind, he spent social occasions discussing the same video games, superhero films and TV box sets with the nearest other Rob-types. Continue reading “The Ubiquitous Man by Jake Kendall”

Time of the Djinns by Salvatore Difalco

September had been a red month. The leaves were red, the sunsets. People were being systematically hacked down, blood ran in the streets. When they—the authorities, the media, the gossips—said the centre would not hold, they meant it. When they said things would never be the same, they were not kidding. When they said prepare for the worst, no one could have imagined what the worst could be.

Dr. Ram, living in an iron-barred flat in the middle of the troubles, had taken to wearing sunglasses even indoors. Seeing everything in the glare of daylight without prophylactic measures threatened what remained of one’s sanity. Dr. Ram, a chiropractor in his old life, got by scavenging these days. A dangerous living, of course. That said, his choices, naturally reduced by the atrophy of the state, were constrained. Continue reading “Time of the Djinns by Salvatore Difalco”

Something Strange by Micah Wendelborn

I loved you. I don’t quite know why after all you put me through. The ups and the downs were as they happened, and I cannot deny that I lost my temper on some occasions.

I’d always loved you for who you were, not what. I knew you felt the same way about me too. It made me happy to think about that, to know you were mine and I was yours. I did think that way, and I know if I tried I could do so again.

Now I’m beyond trying, and I can’t get back. Continue reading “Something Strange by Micah Wendelborn”

Forget-me-not by Jess Doyle

The little girl’s my favourite by a long way.  My mum would have said ‘she’s a bonny thing’ and she’d have been right.  She kneels in front of me and we talk about all sorts and her smile always cheers me up no matter what kind of day I’m having.  Last time she came she said that she wanted me to know that people suffer in life not in death.  It’s a funny thing for a little girl to say but my visitors do talk about some funny things.  I’ve thought about it a lot since she said it.  She offered me her hand too.  Her smile was so sweet and kind and I thought about saying yes, and I nearly did it.  I nearly took her hand.  Then I said no.  No, not yet.  And she was gone.

Continue reading “Forget-me-not by Jess Doyle”

Triptych by Max Dunbar

1. The Book Club

The famous crime writer met with his literary agent for help with a problem. It was strange, you wouldn’t think that this crime novelist, who was rich and successful, had any problems in his life at all. He was the author of the Inspector Tak mysteries – a series of police procedurals in which dour, working-class cop Ian Tak investigated serial killers (aided by DC Sarah Lombardi, a hot-headed half-Italian sidekick who wore expensive suits and had a habit of swearing in Italian). The books had been popular for many years but sales had begun to ebb. Feminists objected to the visceral rape-slaughters of the author’s anonymous fictional victims. Comments he had made on panels, at festivals, on his blog, and on Twitter, had been misinterpreted. It was time for a new direction.

‘Vampires,’ said the agent. ‘Vampires is it.’ Continue reading “Triptych by Max Dunbar”

Chef’s Privilege by D.S. Maolalaí

The publisher had sent my book covers that morning

by email. Final proofs. I sent back that they were good

and bragged about it on the internet. We were in Paris

in a flat on Rue de Belleville, the 11ieme aron and 6 floors walk

up. It was beautiful. From the window to the horizon there was nothing but roof. Fallon had to

spend the day working Continue reading “Chef’s Privilege by D.S. Maolalaí”