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”

Operation Loch Ness by C.R. Berry

August 14th 2164

No, please no.

The synthesiser toppled over the edge of the refreshment trolley. The secretary lunged to catch it, but gravity beat him and the machine met the floor with a crack.

Mark two synthesisers were known for being temperamental (and cheap), so he suspected he’d broken it. Picking it up, he placed a cup in the dispenser to test it: “Coffee, white.”

The synthesiser acknowledged his request with a beep and liquid flowed into the cup. He removed it, looked at the contents, smelled it. “Fan-bloody-tastic.” The device had given him hot cherryade—the coffee files were corrupted. Continue reading “Operation Loch Ness by C.R. Berry”

Mates Don’t Grass by Matt Hornsby

The office tea-point was a miserable space; a battered sink, whose hole emitted a cloacal smell, and a kettle thick with scale. A window looked out onto the building’s cavernous atrium. Tom gently swung it open and peered out. His gut untightened. Karen was still out there, thank God – talking to some clients in leather chairs, waving her hands around in histrionic gestures. Dampened by the acoustics of the hall, a few words and phrases echoed up; ‘New standards in lean product design’, ‘restructuring the client-customer interface’. The clients nodded sagely.

He could still feel the email, framed ominously in his ‘sent mail’ box: Continue reading “Mates Don’t Grass by Matt Hornsby”

Nobody’s Girl by Jennifer Howard

Hello from the coast, where we’ve settled into the prettiest little seaside inn. From our window you can see forever across the ocean, not a cloud in sight. It’s blue skies every day here, Daddy. Only the seagulls cry.

C., charming as always, sends his regards. He is the perfect gentleman. I don’t know what I did to deserve him. He’s out riding this morning – I told him last night I think he loves that horse more than he loves me – I’ve been idle here, watching the waves swell and the hummingbirds dart.

I’m a lady of leisure now. It takes some getting used to after all those years of staying busy. Continue reading “Nobody’s Girl by Jennifer Howard”

From the Collected Works of the Eighty-First Mother Superior of the Noble and Holy Order of Sacred Sisters of the Three-Eyed Outcast and His Eldritch Brethren by T. Rios

CHAPTER EIGHT-HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN

Concerning the communion of souls with the Forces Eldritch, and the means through which a Sister of the Three-Eyed Outcast can determine if a layperson has attained it—

 

In light of the apparitions that have begun proliferating in the bowels of our Western Abbey, it is only proper that we turn our attention towards the treatment of those unstuck from time, and the means through which their souls may be reunited with their bodies. But before we end our discussion of otherworldly communion, I would like to offer you an anecdote illustrating the capacity of laypeople to touch the Wild and Strange, and how it often amounts to more than clergy-members are apt to give it credit. Continue reading “From the Collected Works of the Eighty-First Mother Superior of the Noble and Holy Order of Sacred Sisters of the Three-Eyed Outcast and His Eldritch Brethren by T. Rios”

The Weight on Your Shoulder by Liz Xifaras

You are not afraid of spiders.

The one on the bathroom wall has a body as big as your thumbnail; glossy, iridescent. Legs stretching like black wire over white tile.

A bath of steaming clear water waits. Book lies on the side, pages curling in the heat. Mug of tea ready.

You are not afraid but you remove the spider all the same. Fetch a glass from the bedside table, a cardboard coaster. Blue with a silhouette of an orangutan printed on. Souvenir from that trip to the zoo when you held the hand of a love now lost, let yourself dream of returning one day in a wished-for future with your child. Smooth, stubby fingers held in yours. Round eyes staring at the animals. Blink that memory away now. Continue reading “The Weight on Your Shoulder by Liz Xifaras”