Displaying items by tag: fiction

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 13:31

The Meaning of Magic by Adare Elyse

The Meaning of Magic by Adare ElyseAt last, today’s the day I’ll learn about magic!

I straighten my jerkin with its runaway button now sewn back on. My father looks me over from head down to newly-shod toes, and his gaze lingers there a moment as if admiring his handiwork in the hand-burnished leather. “Now be very respectful and do everything your master says. He didn’t have to apprentice you, mind. You’ll have to earn his favor.”

“Yes, I know.” I feel like I’m made of squirrels about to jump apart and scamper in different directions. The alchemist chose me as his apprentice! And why shouldn’t he, since he has no family to take up his trade? Our little town needs only so many shoemakers like my father. For once, being the youngest of four brothers means I get first pick of what I want. And I want magic—to send miracle-making sparks out of my fingertips and harness the energy of the heavens. Assuming that’s how it works—but I’ll find out today.

Published in Issue 94 Mar 2021
Tuesday, 16 February 2021 16:09

Summer by Katie Kent

“So, how was your summer?” Lucy fixes her eyes upon me as we walk to school.

Butterflies flutter in my stomach and I resist the temptation to look down at the floor. “Fine, thanks.”

“Fine?!” She stops and whirls around, catching my arm with the strap of her rucksack.

 “Yeah.” I rub my arm. “What about yours?”

“It was boring without you to hang out with. But I’m not the one whose parents took her on a cruise around Europe! Come on, Vicky, you can’t just say ‘fine’. Give me something to go on.”

I take a deep breath. This was the conversation I had been dreading. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything! For a start, did you make any friends?”


“You can’t just stay in your room the whole time.” Mum frowned at me.

I shrugged. “Of course I can. I’ve got a TV in my room, music on my phone and loads of books on my Kindle. I’m all set.”

Published in Issue 93 Feb 2021
Tuesday, 16 February 2021 16:05

Bad Taste in Boys by Lauren Voeltz

The school smelled like waxed floors and bleach. None of my friends were in my classes. So far, eighth grade was a dud year.

I stood at the front of the class -- my back to my classmates. Picking up the black marker made me seethe. I hated math. Writing in front of everyone was like an appointment at the dentist. The marker in my hand tasted like the drill -- I imagined flecks of enamel flying into my throat. I suppressed a cough. My mouth salivated, and I swallowed. I glanced at the clock on the wall, one long minute until the bell, almost 10:00. Breathe.

“Okay, Tuesday, here’s your next question. What does x equal if seven x minus two x equals 25?”

Uh, what? I picked up the marker, tasted the metal again, and wrote the question out, my jaw clenched tight.

There should be a support group for people like me, people with my terrible curse…

I'd say, “Hi, I’m Tuesday, my parents named me after a Cheryl Crow song.”

“Hi, Tuesday,” all the others like me would reply.

“My taste buds are weird; I taste everything I touch.” I’d explain that to them, and that the couch tasted like soap.

They would nod; they’d believe me. It wouldn’t be a secret anymore.

The bell rang, pulling me out of my daydream.

I charged out the door, a smile on my face, freedom, and the taste of oranges dancing in my mouth as my hand pushed the wood open.

“Hi, Tuesday, how’s math?” Mika smiled at me, and then closed her locker.

Published in Issue 93 Feb 2021
Monday, 18 January 2021 17:57

Impact by Mrinal Pattanaik

Impact by Mrinal PattanaikThe walls are an irritating white and Eli hates them so much that he wants to tear away the paint to get at the harsh grey drywall underneath. He could rip that away, too — right down to the wooden support beams and the copper piping and the multi-coloured wires that run through the entire building.

He could, but he’s strapped down to the bed and his wrists aren’t strong enough to snap the padded restraints.

So he sits there, staring vehemently at the bright walls and the broken ceiling and his bag on the chair in the far corner, until the door flies open and his mother makes her entrance.

“Eli,” she sighs, half disappointed and half exhausted. Her hair is as much of a frazzled mess as her marriage, held together by a thin elastic precariously close to slipping off. Her clothes are loose, baggy, and Eli realizes belatedly that she’s still wearing the Pokémon pajama pants he got her for Christmas as a joke. The bags under her eyes are so prominent that he almost feels guilty for costing her even more sleep.


Published in Issue 92 Jan 2021
Monday, 18 January 2021 17:54

The Color of Hatred by Jennifer A. Doss

The Color of Hatred by Jennifer A. Doss“Stay safe and be good,” Andrea’s mom said as we hopped out of the black SUV.

“We always are.” I grinned back.

Andrea lingered for a moment, peering into the car.  I leaned down to hurry her along in time to see a serious look across her mother’s face.

“Yeah, I know,” Andrea said, slamming the door. She turned her back to the car and rolled her eyes.

“What was that all about?”

“You know. Mom stuff. Always worried I’m gonna get into trouble or somethin’.”

I nodded. Moms always assumed the worst the moment we left their sight. What could happen? I mean, we were both fifteen years old and had never been in any trouble at all. Well, except the one time in first grade when I shoved Billy Anderson to the ground for yanking on the new girl’s curly pigtails at recess. Which didn’t actually count. Even Mom wasn’t mad.

Published in Issue 92 Jan 2021
Friday, 18 December 2020 18:14

The First Frost by Nicholas Stillman

The First Frost by Nicholas Stillman“Oh jeez,” Court said with some feigned surprise. “We have to launch the junk heap right now.”

Court nearly trembled while gripping the tablet, but he held a half grin no problem. The screen between his sweaty thumbs showed that over 1600 people now watched the column of sky over his house. The chat room filled with more gawkers than the whole student body of his high school.

“Do we look ready to launch the junk heap?” Wally asked from the opposite end of the balcony.

Court shrugged. He certainly looked too short for anyone to take seriously, and Wally looked too thin. However, they both wore jogging pants greasier than what the jocks wore at school. They looked ready to run into the house should the quadcopter drone go berserk like it did yesterday. Furthermore, the plastic rotor guards hardly had any cracks at all.

“Ready enough, I guess,” Court said. “If it falls on my house, everyone in school will at least get a good laugh--probably. We have to launch before the first frost anyway because we don’t even know if the battery will work then.”

Published in Issue 91 Dec 2020
Friday, 18 December 2020 18:10

Glow in the Dark by Katie Waters

Glow in the Dark by Katie WatersAlex had left the party. She was in Mel’s garden, watching the ripples of orange in the dark water of the pond. Koi. It struck her how they were so bright yet so quiet at the same time.

She had come here for a distraction, but now she just wanted to be alone. From this spot on the patio, she could hear the thump-thump-thump of the stereo in Mel’s kitchen, accompanied by whoops and laughter. Then she could hear one of the voices from inside growing louder and clearer. Someone was coming.

Alex turned away from the pond to see a girl running through Mel’s shiny dining room, towards the double glass doors. She was lit up by the patio lights, and Alex saw that she had curly, black hair that brushed her shoulders. She wore a glittery, blue crop-top and a tight black skirt that stopped halfway down her thighs.

“Hey,” she said, grinning as she staggered over in her high heels.

“Hi.” Alex didn’t return the smile; if she looked hostile, perhaps this girl would go back inside.

But she made it to Alex and rested her arms on the bird table to her right.

Published in Issue 91 Dec 2020
Tuesday, 17 November 2020 12:02

Project Europa by Cathryn Free

project europa“There,” said Gabby, pointing at the enlarged touch screen hovering over the scaled model of Europa. “Our sensors picked up a surprising surge of energy, both electromagnetic and thermal.”

Professor Linx studied the location Gabby pointed out. Her eyes narrowed, thinking. “Any indication of movement? Patterns of migration?”

“Not that we recognized,” said Miles, the other intern on the Europa Project.

“In fact, I’d say they’re localized.” Gabby pressed her hands on the edge of the table that held the model to keep them from shaking. This discovery was enormous.

“Incredible.” Professor Linx took off her glasses--in a habit that Gabby now recognized-- and polished them on the corner of her linen shirt. She looked at the two interns. “Call Max and Isa. We’re suiting up.”

Gabby’s eyes lit up. “We’re going out?”

Published in Issue 90 Nov 2020
Tuesday, 17 November 2020 11:50

Essay Question #3 by David E. Poston

Mr. B,

Here’s the college application essay I need you to look over. You should be proud of me—it’s my third draft. I tried to use my unique voice that nobody else has, just like you taught us. And Langston said let the page come out of you and then it will be true, right? Well, this story IS true, and it’s my story—it’s really who I am. Although, I did throw in a few of those S.A.T. vocabulary words because I wanted them to know I could actually USE them, not just memorize them for a test. So, thumbs-up or thumbs-down?




In 600 words or fewer, tell how your family has helped you determine and/or achieve your goals.

When six police officers come to arrest my half-brother Trace, he tells them right off that his ball python has gotten loose in the house. They don’t know whether he’s prevaricating or not.

They throw him down on the rug and cuff him, and he’s yelling, “Apophis is loose!”


“My python! I just seen he was gone when y’all busted in here!”

Published in Issue 90 Nov 2020
Wednesday, 07 October 2020 17:05

Survival is, in Itself, a Victory by James Rumpel

survival is in itself a victoryFaster. Bela dug deep into his energy reserves, finding a way to ignore the pain and to accelerate his full-scale sprint slightly. Bullets pounded the dilapidated pavement all around him, each erupting a tiny geyser of dust and concrete. Only a few more strides and he would reach the presumed safety of an abandoned vehicle.

Dive. Off balance, his legs no longer able to match his desire for speed, Bela dove and performed an awkward forward roll to cover the final few meters. The maneuver earned him the protection provided by the burnt-out husk of a 2035 Ford. The battered rifle, he had been carrying, clattered as it fell to the cement near his tattered shoes.

The rain of gunfire ceased momentarily. Where had Inac gotten so much ammunition? Bela tried to slow his heart. Each breath fought furiously against his lungs. Eventually, enough oxygen found its way to his lungs that his breathing relaxed and returned to a near normal rate. The sixteen-year-old boy calmed enough to access his surroundings. The rifle appeared to be unbroken, but he was down to only two shells.

Inac, assuredly, was positioned to the south; his handgun trained on the automobile skeleton Bela currently hid behind. The open space west of him was clearly not an option. Attempting to cross that divide had, moments ago, nearly cost him his life.

To the east, ominously towering over the district stood the unscalable, impenetrable metal wall that divided the slums from the opulence that was Ariscity. Behind that wall, the privileged lived in luxury, not giving the suffering and violence that existed just outside of their domain a second thought. Sure, on rare occasions, some wealthy aristocrat would be overcome by guilt and send white-coated servants to their desolate neighbors to distribute food or administer medical inoculations. Beyond that, the residents on this side of the wall were left to fend for themselves.

Published in Issue 89 Oct 2020
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