Category: Fiction

Collapses of the Night Sky by Laysha Ostrow

3:33 a.m. Every night for the past six weeks. In the long moments before dawn, far away but imminent. The sleeplessness wasn’t just annoying, it was persecutory. Waking in a pool of her own sweat, blazing like she was running in her dreams, chased by demons. Quickly falling into sleep only to be woken with a start.

And why 3:33? Or was it sometimes 3:23, or 3:43, or even 4:33?

Clothes Make the Man by Tom Barlow

Sybil had known her brother Wyatt was gay since he was 14 and sold his BMX bike to pay for a ticket to a Madonna concert. However, in the 15 years since he ran away from home, they had avoided the subject during their infrequent phone conversations, he in San Francisco, she back in Columbus.

Although she and her husband Ian worked hard to show no prejudices in that direction, she’d been just as glad to avoid sharing her brother’s orientation with their children rather than try to explain it to Xavier and Bailey. At eight it might just confuse the boy, and Bailey, now a teenager, had reached the point where anything having to do with her family, from her father’s bicycle commute to Sybil’s hand-knit Christmas sweaters, was deeply humiliating.

Undying Love by Kip Knott

I suppose the last straw was when I asked Ophelia to lay on the floor so I could trace her body to make sure the coffin would cradle her perfectly.

My father was a carpenter, and his father before him, and Jesus before that. From the time I could hold a saw and heft a hammer, I had been able to make anything out of wood. I thought of myself as a kind of alchemist who could turn a piece of knotty pine into cash with nothing more than a few simple tools and some linseed oil.

The Wedding Invitation by D S Powell

The invitation came from Mortimer. We’d been close at school and for a bit after university. Now we only kept in touch via Facebook. He’d gone into venture capital, I’d gone into the services.

Traditional church service (very nice) then, after photographs, on to the reception at this big country place and more photos by the lake with champagne served in plastic glasses (a bit tacky, I thought). After an hour of this we were called in to lunch (which was just as well as I had reached, and then surpassed my optimum booze intake and could hear myself becoming over-friendly and loud).

The Dendrophobe by Martin Agee

The ground begins to shake beneath me. I stumble to the nearest park bench and sit down hard. The cobblestones in front of me crumble; the branches of the oak tree above me vibrate and tremble. My heart skips a beat as I look to my left and some guy with a grey beard three benches down is flattened by a large falling branch. Further down, tree limbs are being flung like pick-up-stix, and to my horror the largest one takes out a pair of joggers. The couple are crushed in an instant. I blink. To my right, a towering ash is uprooting as pedestrians and dog walkers scramble toward the street. The giant trunk teeters for a moment in slow motion, and then in a split second crashes to the pavement, squashing the horde like so many mutant cockroaches.

Tesla and the Pigeon by Ryan Davies

I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them, for years. But there was one, a beautiful bird – pure white with light grey tips on her wings. She was different. I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.

I was always too afraid to marry. An inventor should have a wife, they told me, but they didn’t understand that I was already married to my work. I could never be worthy enough for a woman, who were superior to me in every single way. My heroes, Isaac Newton and Immanuel Kant also never married and their genius was a testament to that. My chastity was the key to my own scientific abilities, but as I near the end of my life, I sometimes doubt if the sacrifice was worth it.

India Incomplete by Anthony St. George

A tangle of black comms lines, like a clustered neuron, hung dead on a wooden telephone pole. It was a web ready to burst into flame at the first signal surge. This was the first image Zed saw as he exited the Vijayawada air terminal. Wired lines at the end of the 21st Century? I have to rely on these to carry my “all safe” message home.

Zed had come to give a lecture at a new university, an up-and-coming institution in this Indian Capital of Learning. Twenty-four hours of planes through Singapore and Chennai, a slight kerfuffle at customs (he’d misspelled the address of his destination), happily countered by a warm greeting by his host and friend, Prof. Srinu.

“You’re going to be a big hit,” Srinu said, taking Zed’s bags. “Our design students can’t wait to hear from a top typographer like you.”

The Timekeeper by Chelsea Thornton

The hour struck midnight. Everyone in the sleepy town of Everstead could hear the chimes and gongs and bells of clocks. They all resonated from the same gloomy, eldritch manor at the west outskirts of the borough. The residents had heard stories about its solitary inhabitant. The legend went that Horatio Ward had one day awoke to the deafening toll of an enigmatic, hidden clock that only he could hear. It never ceased and pushed him to the brink of madness. His manor was now full of an omnium gatherum of clocks as he searched far and wide for the one that incessantly drove him out of his mind.

None of the townsfolk wanted anything to do with Horatio Ward or his clocks. The haunting sounds of time that drifted over their homes at each hour were enough of a reminder. However, there was one man daring enough to venture to the timekeeper’s manor.