Category: Fiction

Dish of the Day by Steven French

So. This is how the story was told to me by my sister-in-law who was friends with the daughter of Mrs O. Who together with her husband ran a Turkish restaurant just off Green Lanes. Well, they were Kurdish really, which matters a lot in some contexts but not so much in this one. Anyway, Mr O was in charge of the chefs’ station, while Mrs O supervised the service and also handled the accounts. Even though Mr O was referred to by all as ‘boss’, no one wanted to look Mrs O in the eye when she passed on a customer’s complaint or, heaven forbid, returned a plate of food. Not even Mr O. 

Idle Hands by Molly Andrea-Ryan

“This is not acceptable behavior,” she said as the cat pawed at the carefully painted skeleton. “That isn’t yours,” she said as the cat knocked the skeleton from the shelf, sending it skittering across the floor. She picked it up and put it back, shooing the cat away, knowing it was a game, knowing that playing the game once meant playing the game again.

His miniatures were part of a game he never played. Skeletons, goblins, witches, sirens, dragons. He bought the kits, built the models, painted them. He placed them on a crowded shelf, organized and reorganized by size, color, and assigned skill. “I’m sure the game is fun,” he said, “but it isn’t what interests me.”

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.”