Category: Fiction

Marrow by T.G. Hyndewood

It was an in-between sort of creature. If nothing else, they could agree on that. And as they waited for the others in the last light of the frozen hills, Flanagan was beginning to wish they hadn’t caught it. When he’d first glimpsed it writhing in the snare, he’d mistaken it for a child; it was only after Miller had seen it too that he’d accepted it as real and not a fiction of his senses. They’d been staring at the snow-sealed landscape for so long now that no one trusted their eyes. The sea of white was hypnotic, with a lurid, febrile quality that the hunger played with in unsettling ways.

Tugging on the rope, Flanagan heard a stumbling of hooves and the same whimper he’d first mistaken for an infant’s.

Bone Apple Teeth by Mason Yates

Although she had been feeling nervous—a horrid anxiety had infested and made itself a home in her gut—for the past few days, Kate Knight (her last name had been Rains less than five days ago) felt it even more when she stepped off the crowded Tokyo street and into the dark alley that reeked of urine, cigarettes, and burned food.  For some unknown reason, her legs shook with a strange violence, sweat beaded her pale forehead, and every particle of blood bubbled inside her veins.  Because of her shaking—not to mention the slippery cobblestone ground, too—she kept a slow pace as she wandered into the darkness, the radiant neon signs behind her starting to fade, as well as the energetic voices of the touristy road that simmered into susurrations.  Kate clung to her husband as they descended into the black.  Brick buildings enclosed themselves around them, chunky rats scuttled next to the walls and squeaked every so often, and above them, a black night sky, one where no stars resided, seemed to weigh heavy upon them.

Kickstand by Patrick R. Wilson

Erica fingered the wooden splinters of the food truck court picnic table and stared out at the water till she spotted Ryan rolling up on the fire-red Cannondale he bought on credit. He didn’t stop to park the bike before entering the dining area, but jostled his way through the lunchtime customers like an entitled eel in a koi pond. If anyone protested, or pointed out the PARK YOUR BIKE sign, or looked at him wrong, Ryan would explain he’d been sick. Thankfully, no one complained.

Crooker by Alex Bestwick

Water curls over the lip of the cave like curtains. I shiver back into the curve of earth and damp soil patters around me. The shelter protects me from the elements a little, but I am already sodden. I am lost. I am ten. I am terrified. The last thing I am is protected.

Far below, the river sings a war cry, laughing and lapping at its embankments. The trees scream and creak under the brutal bend of the wind. Lightning veins across the sky and turns the clouds momentarily to purple slate. Thunder shakes the world.

Dead Language by Colin Wolcott

Ninety-nine point nine percent of all species which have existed on Earth are now extinct. And although species die off every year, extinctions are concentrated in six major episodes throughout the planet’s history. The most significant of these was the Permian-Triassic event, wherein greater than 90% of all diversity on Earth was lost. By contrast, the most recent and well-known mass extinction, the Cretaceous-Paleogene event, in which the non-avian dinosaurs perished, was comparatively mild, eliminating roughly 75% of extant species. And while the very episode that wiped out the dinosaurs also created the conditions leading to our existence, the next mass extinction is likely to call that existence into question.

Man Of The Oak by Kevin M. Casin

Into the scarlet acorn Sam had plucked from the boughs he whispered, “I wish for love, beloved. I’m tired of the heartbreak. Please help me.”

As the ancestral tomes had instructed, Sam kneeled before the oak and he laid the offering on the fluffed earth. Gray tendrils broke the soil, buried the seed. Throbbing cracks of black earth laced over the auburn bark. Mud- and gold sap-coated roots twisted into legs, engorged into a torso and arms, then curled into a head. Liquid moothed into flesh and earth congealed into loose, black hair. A man appeared and the seed charred black as the moon.

“From the branches, I often watched you speak with my father and care for him,” said the man. “I’ve waited a long time to meet you.”

The Funeral by Ecem Yucel

My mother was born into a family that believed in all kinds of superstitions. Growing up, whenever we were alone, I’d watch her pray to her Gods and perform small rituals to be protected from evil. She would never place two mirrors facing each other for instance, believing that the infinite reflections in each mirror would open a gateway for the devil. If she accidentally spilled some salt, she’d take a pinch of it and throw it over her left shoulder to undo the bad luck and repel the devil. She would change her way if she saw a black cat on the street and knock on wood every time she or someone else mentioned something unfortunate, such as accidents, illnesses, or bad fortune.

“It wasn’t just my family,” she told me once. “Everyone in my village believed in them. They lived their lives accordingly.”

A Spaceman Came Travelling by Matthew J. Richardson

Jude Parker’s head is poking out from beneath the fly sheet. Grass rustles around his jug ears but through the noise he can hear muttering. The two brothers in the tent do not like him. They have mocked him for the way he speaks, for taking his tea onto the sofa rather than into the dining room, and for the dogeared sleeping bag he has brought. None of this concerns Jude now, though. Where he has grown up a person doesn’t see the night sky, not like this.

If Jude knew what the word ‘festoon’ meant he would use it, because stars and planets and space dust festoon the sky above the suburban garden. Jude does not, so he simply stares. His foster parents have arranged this sleepover so that he can make friends at his new school (and – whispered for some reason – so that they can get a break). Their reasoning doesn’t bother Jude, just as the reasoning of his next foster parents won’t either. What will bother him is if he falls asleep out here and gives the lads another reason to rip the piss out of him. It is time to retreat inside and get some sleep.