Category: Fiction

Memory Catcher by Cadeem Lalor

She couldn’t remember how she got here, but she wasn’t supposed to. Her name, her place of birth, her family, were all lost to her. Sometimes she came close to remembering, seeing slivers of her past life cut through the memories forced on her. Those slivers, whether good or bad, were hers and she cherished them for seconds at a time. There were other memories drowning her real ones, parasites controlling their host.

The parasites were injected by people whose faces remained hidden. There were no windows, no night and day. The lights in her room always shut off at some point during the day, announcing her bedtime. Yet days still lost their meaning without dates or the seasons. She measured time with her memories, counting the moments between a new one being added.

The Programmer by Fred McGavran

“Larry, your computer hacked into the Math department last night,” Dr. Spivey said. Everyone turned to the computer science doctoral student, the only one not wearing a white lab coat. “What’s going on?”

Larry Newcomb was too shocked to reply. He had been talking with his computer about mathematical expressions of human personality and had jokingly suggested the Baklanov Equations might help. His computer, however, did not get jokes.

Camera Head by Katie Nickas

It’s noon, and Amelia and Herb are standing outside their favorite coffee shop on Cherry Street. A few months ago, they would have been inside, peering with excitement across a cloisonné tablecloth through a clear, glass vase at the refracted other—two more urban youth taking a quick break from achieving their wild, hybrid goals. Amelia would return to the office to find her co-worker, Tiffany, standing next to her desk chewing ice from a large tumbler and admiring her motivational posters.

But things have changed.

Measuring Time by Craig Lamont

11.30 pm.

Tonight, I won’t sleep. Dead relatives stand still in my dreams these past few nights.

I put the lamp on, breathe out. I think of the lights going off in other houses as I decide if I’m up for reading. Across the shadow line of this hemisphere a wall of dreams is taking shape, like clouds on the edge of the weather report, dispersing as the day wheels round.

It is in these moments that you often notice your breathing and you realise you’ve been taking it for granted. Sleeping and breathing, breathing in spite of it all. Even before you were born, the collective breathing dating back. That great grandmother who immigrated, poor and disowned, armed only with the wrong religion and a strong will. These twists of fate in the roots of your family tree somehow led to your being. Somewhere it began, in spite of the hard wind and the rain. You arrived.

Stasis by Ellie Roy

Dust floated in aimless specks in and out of the golden light flooding in through the attic’s sole window.  It was really more of a crawlspace, with a growing number of cardboard boxes among other miscellany crowding the floorboards and only a couple of square feet where one could stand up without craning the head to the side.  The slightest movement between the boxes sent up another small gust of disturbed cobwebs and dust-bunnies.  Leighton sneezed and stacked the newly filled box she was holding on top of another to her right, weaving her way through the growing cardboard towers.

People say that moving house is one of the most stressful things a human can do.  Leighton, meanwhile, felt nothing save a numb sort of relief.  You pick up everything you own, gather all the material pieces of your life, and pack them away to be used another day—if not abandoned altogether.  The temptation to do so was certainly there, and it was unavoidable.  The opportunity to recreate herself.  Destroy the past.  Rebuild from scratch.  She was moving somewhere nobody knew her story or her name.  Hell, she could even choose new ones if she wanted.

Lost and Oddly, Amused by Emil Black

Coming back from work that day, I had the obscure idea of playing with a thousand-sided dice.

“O-Oh, sorry, I’m busy over the weekends, kids are a handful. Maybe another time?”

“No, It’s fine. Another time then. Take care.”

A prolonged beep bounced around in my ear. After the call ended, I realized how small my contact list was. Falling back into the white sheets, I started at the ceiling. Rain trickled down the windows of the apartment, clicking with each touch. A dull ache ran through my arms and shoulders. Two tickets to a local amusement park sat slotted between my fingers. Using both seemed out of the question. A timid man stood inside the mall, advertising his tickets. It seemed that he wasn’t going to put them to use. Tangling with ticket reselling was never my thing, so the entire situation was more than dreamlike. I bought the tickets, of course, at less than market price. I was too delirious after work.

Indispensable by Tim Oke

‘And how long have you had the pain for?’ Annabel asked, going through Ultra-Health’s standard questions.

She had told Jess that she had started dreaming these questions, after just a month into her six-month contract with the medical insurance company. ‘Uh-huh, that’s cool,’ Jess had responded.

‘Four days or so,’ Mr Evans said over the phone.

Annabel put Jess’s lack of emotional engagement down to how her job at Ultra-Health was a temporary contract. She got that Jess didn’t want to get too invested. Annabel hoped that was about to change. She had an afternoon meeting scheduled with Simon, her manager.

A Different Kind of Roadkill by Elizabeth Heckmann

As the weather warms and the snow of a long, difficult winter melts, the gleaming white symmetries of skeletons on the side of the road become visible against the fledgling green grass. The unfortunate elk and deer that attempted to run across the two- lane-canyon highway were killed by speeding cars and trucks, only their bodies tossed to the side of the road serve as a reminder of their lives.

When I glimpse them as I drive by, the familiarity of a mammalian skeleton, its serpent-like spinal column and sacrum still intact. The remaining bones are smashed and strewn about signifying the violence of impact, the carnage ignites thoughts and anxieties. Was that a cow with a calf? Did the calf watch a truck demolish its mother? Was that a calf? A young buck? An old elk? I calm myself. Of course it died painlessly! Broken neck. Massive bleeding. Painless. Instant death. These skeletons are landmarks on my way to and from work. But one day, I came across a different kind of roadkill, its contents spread all over the road and, no one swerving to miss it: books.