Lavender by Amy Slack

Elise held a candle in one hand and a knife in the other. The panic that had simmered in her skin subsided, and she could breathe easily again.

The candle was one of Maxine’s. She collected them the way some women collected cats. When Jonathan first introduced Elise to his older sister, he brought up the candle thing within five minutes, as if it were a defining trait. Later, when he took Elise to Maxine’s flat for dinner, Elise noted the malformed skylines of half-melted candles on the mantelpiece and in the windowsills, the spaces where other people would display family photos. Teardrops of solid wax ran down their sides. Charred wicks bowed to the room. Elise pressed her fingers into the hollows the flames had left behind. Continue reading “Lavender by Amy Slack”

The Borinian Snapper by Miguel Guerreiro Lourenço

Eyes closed and a high beats-per-minute synth-wave track. That was how Yana meditated before a cage fight. Slowly inhaling through her nose, she would hum along the song and crack her knuckles. As soon as she felt the beat drop, Yana would snap out of her trance and stand; ready to entertain the crowd in the Guseks Arena.

Step by step, Yana – the Borinian Snapper – moved closer to the main floor, tightly wrapping her hands in red bandages. They contrasted the blue of her spandex pants and white yet sponsored sports crop-top. Yana never cared for fashion, and when her clothes ended up bloody from a cage fight; the way she looked mattered even less. The crowd cheered and hollered; screaming her name alongside many of Borinia’s Gladiators. Some had already fought; but now it was time for the main event: Yana, the Borinian Snapper versus Fett, the Furious. Continue reading “The Borinian Snapper by Miguel Guerreiro Lourenço”

BE QUIET by Dale McMullen

Man, I’ve messed up.

Two years in prison or a year here, that was my choice – and I’ve made the wrong one.  How hard could being a silent monk be I thought.  This is the government’s new thing, send criminals off to learn the values of inner peace, come back a year later a changed man.  It made sense on a lot of levels; it cost them pennies to run it, you get criminals shipped away (out of sight, out of mind), you run a success story on the news every now and again and everyone is happy.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think this works for the majority of people, I just hate it.  I was shipped to The Holy Isle just off Arran. Continue reading “BE QUIET by Dale McMullen”

My Daughter’s Wings by Jessica Patient

All I can hear is their laughter, in the next room, probably giggling with each other about something silly old mummy has done today. Turning up the television, trying to get the news programme to drown out their nattering. Those hiccups of giggles from Sophie make me smile – I haven’t heard her laugh for a long time. Only Frank knows how to make her laugh. I’m the one who dabs away the blood, soothe the tears, dashing between rooms with trays of food, deal with doctors. Simmer the tantrums.

Rising out of the chair, pulling the dressing gown’s tie tighter around my middle. The fluffy fabric matches the beige walls. Their laughter lures me away from the television. Continue reading “My Daughter’s Wings by Jessica Patient”

Ten Days Missing by Hannah Stevens

There was a song Ben heard once sung by a beautiful black woman whose name he couldn’t remember. She sang about strange fruit hanging from the branches of trees. He’d had that song in his head for weeks now.

 

Maybe the postman was new, maybe he wasn’t quite awake yet, but as Ben left for work there was a letter on the mat that didn’t belong to him. He picked up the envelope and closed the front door. He’d give it to Leon before he left for work. Continue reading “Ten Days Missing by Hannah Stevens”

The Ubiquitous Man by Jake Kendall

1. Rob

Robert Coleman was a man. No one could take that away from him. Neither could they credit him with much more.

You’ve probably passed a face like his dozens of times today alone. It is without flaw or charm, symmetrical – set unremarkably against his shortly cut dark hair which is pushed up at the front.

Often when people met him they felt a strong sense of déjà vu. To the extent that some would swear blind they’d met before, if only they could place where. Rob inadvertently abetted that impression as he talked: a pure expression of the pop-culture hive mind, he spent social occasions discussing the same video games, superhero films and TV box sets with the nearest other Rob-types. Continue reading “The Ubiquitous Man by Jake Kendall”

Time of the Djinns by Salvatore Difalco

September had been a red month. The leaves were red, the sunsets. People were being systematically hacked down, blood ran in the streets. When they—the authorities, the media, the gossips—said the centre would not hold, they meant it. When they said things would never be the same, they were not kidding. When they said prepare for the worst, no one could have imagined what the worst could be.

Dr. Ram, living in an iron-barred flat in the middle of the troubles, had taken to wearing sunglasses even indoors. Seeing everything in the glare of daylight without prophylactic measures threatened what remained of one’s sanity. Dr. Ram, a chiropractor in his old life, got by scavenging these days. A dangerous living, of course. That said, his choices, naturally reduced by the atrophy of the state, were constrained. Continue reading “Time of the Djinns by Salvatore Difalco”