How Ashton Kutcher Destroyed the World by Joseph S. Klapach

This Morning

Harold Fribble was sitting dutifully behind his desk at the corporate headquarters of Occidental Peripherals in Snedekerville, Pennsylvania.  He had just finished reviewing some irregularities involving a shipment of mobile devices to a prominent California university when he was interrupted by a man who burst suddenly into his office. 

The man was breathing hard.

Lake by Phoebe T

Over on the other side of the lake there was a huge family celebrating. They had big rose-gold balloons saying 40!, and disposable barbecues. Their smoke floated over to us on the hot breeze. 

Rose led me and Hazel down towards the lake. Around us, children rushed around with an orange frisbee. Kids vaped in the shade and couples drank prosecco. Dragonflies were hooking up, green with blue, in the shallows. Ducks were leading their ducklings across the water.

The Spiteful Witch Fairies of Bayonne, New Jersey by Audacia Ray

What’s that saying? Hell hath no fury like a doña de fuera whose Tumblr has been deleted?

Feral is pissed off. She slouches morosely in the shade of a poorly maintained boxwood shrub. She absentmindedly stretches and contracts her claws in the dirt while she scrolls on her phone, pressing and double-tapping on the touch screen so hard that her pointer finger drums a soft, angry rhythm on the glass. She’d been preparing for this moment since Tumblr announced two weeks ago that they were banning sexual content starting December 17. There was some cruel commentary embedded in that message: dear sex workers and NSFW weirdos, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, you will cease to exist on our platform. So long, and thanks for all the clicks.  

Last Flight of the Passerine Brigade by Rick Hollon

I had just sunk at long last into my easy chair, pipe in hand, glass of palm toddy at my side, when my door fell victim to rapid-fire tap-tap-tapping.

I fluffed and sputtered but it did no good. The tapping came again, insistent as a woodpecker. I made a severe face at my pipe. “That’ll be those squirrels again, I expect. Tut! Still fixed on the idea that their grandmother left nuts here twenty winters back.” I tamped out the pipe and set it beside the toddy as the raps rattled through the tree once more.

Moving Paper by Tyler Plofker

My first day at the company was spent moving paper. One stack, about five inches thick. From my desk, to the table in the hall, to the floor near the table in the hall, and back. Over and over. The paper was to rest in each spot for five minutes and no more than five minutes. Nothing was printed on the pages.

I had interviewed the day before by accident. Intending to apply for an admin position at a nearby accounting office, I’d gotten the addresses mixed up.

The Last Page by Zachary Toombs

It’s three a.m. and as her child lays beside her, she writes. She writes in a notepad that isn’t a notepad. It’s the very last page in a bible that she found in the nightstand. What she writes with is no pen but an eyeliner pencil on its last legs. When she runs the tip across the paper it hardly gets the words out. But desperate are those words scrawled in cursive. And it’s desperation that muffles her sobs.

Digging It by Diana Devlin

My dad told me when I was, like, seven or eight that if I dug long enough I’d eventually reach Australia. And I believed him. I mean, why wouldn’t I? He’d worked on building sites all his life, knew about that kinda stuff. Ryan, he’d say, you dig hard, son and I tell you, you’ll strike gold one day but you gotta put the effort in. He was big on effort, my old man. Work ethic, he called it. Refused to accept that jobs weren’t as easy to come by nowadays, especially for people who came from shitholes like Dilly.

Last week of the summer holidays and the sun was still splitting the sky. Amos and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves it was so damn hot. None of the girls wanted to hang out – probably worried their make-up would melt or their hair would go frizzy – so we decided to head for the beach. May as well make the most of it before the big exams. We’d soon be locked in our rooms for the best years of our lives, extracted by our parents for dentist appointments or lectures on fuckin personal hygiene.