Displaying items by tag: fiction

Wednesday, 07 October 2020 17:01

Best Summer Ever by Curtis Bass

best summer ever-Robbie-

I’m drowning. The wave had smacked me down and rolled me. Now I don’t know which way is up. Forcing my eyes open in the stinging saltwater, I can detect a watery brightness in what I had thought was beneath me. I’m completely upside down. Eyes burning, lungs on fire, I struggle toward the light and air. I’ve swallowed so much saltwater I’m nauseous. I’m afraid I’ll puke underwater. The pull of the water is too strong. Where is Jeremy? Jeremy could save me. If he would. He was as likely to hold me under. But Jeremy hadn’t come to the beach this year. Pre-college courses and summer work gave him little free time. I’m on my own. And dying.

A soft click and hum jolted me. Cool air blew across my damp chest. I was lying in bed. It had been a dream. But my eyes still burned, and the nausea overwhelmed me. I cracked my eyes, and the light cut like knives going through my head. This isn’t my room. Where am I? I noticed a nearby ensuite bath. Good. I crawled out of the bed and monkey scrambled to it, reaching the toilet bowl just in time. I spewed the contents of my stomach, hot, acidic, and pink into the bowl. My entire body convulsed with the effort. The brief respite from the nausea only amplified the hot burning behind my eyes. And there seemed to be a spike bisecting my brain from side to side, a hammer pounding it in time with each heartbeat, like some sadistic Anvil Chorus. My body convulsed again, but there was little left to come up. I spat a bit of green bile into the bowl and flushed the evil smelling mess. I rested my forehead on the cool ceramic of the toilet. A chilling ache ran over me as I broke out in a cold sweat.

Where am I? My thoughts were fuzzy and slow, each produced in agony. Why don’t I remember anything? Am I sick? Maybe malaria or Ebola? Or maybe I have amnesia. No, I remember my name, Robbie, and I’m sixteen and live in Foxborough, Mass 02035. Unless that’s part of my delirium. I stood up like an old man. I looked down at my body. I’m in my Calvins, the way I always sleep, I think. My body looks young, though I feel ancient. I glanced in the mirror. Yes, I recognized the kid there, face bloated and creased from sleep, watery blue eyes red rimmed and bloodshot, unremarkable straight blond hair, currently sticking up. Your basic dork.

Published in Issue 89 Oct 2020
Thursday, 17 September 2020 11:34

Earth to Sky, Sky to Earth by Amanda Vincent

Earth to Sky, Sky to Earth by Amanda VincentWhen King Frederic passed, he left his eldest daughter an inheritance of death— the death of her nation and the death of her dreams. They say it always comes in threes, so Elyse was not surprised.

She would rule for less than a month, governing a wasteland populated by the gaunt and restless, as they waited to be consumed by the hungry lands to the north. Lands free from drought, buffered by springs that brought water from below, with no need to beg the heartless, empty skies for rain as her people did. A land eager to expand.

King Frederic’s final decree secured this expansion, saving the country as it shattered Elyse’s world. She was to marry King Geoffrey of the Northlands, and he would supply his new wife’s countrymen with all they needed. Once they were sworn and loyal subjects, of course. Once she was sworn and loyal.

That would be the hard part, she thought as she fled the stifling castle walls.  With every step she took, she felt more herself, and she wasn’t ready to give that up.  The yellowed thirsty grass crunched beneath her feet, reminding her of leaves in the fall.  It used to be a welcome sound, a sign of holidays to come.   Now, it was just a bitter reminder of all they had lost when the rain stopped falling.

Published in Issue 88 Sep 2020
Thursday, 17 September 2020 11:24

The Satirical Sense of Snow by Aaiman Amjad

I hate snow. I hate the way it falls unannounced and engulfs all that’s around without permission. I despise the way it shamelessly gives this dreary and sepulchral world the false illusion of a milky haven. The way kids squeal with joy makes my heart squeeze at the thought of the past I never had. I detest the sight of couples walking hand in hand and families leaving the comforts of their humble homes just to be greeted with the strong gusts of the cool air. I loathe this show I am unwilling to watch, yet everyone spectates with great interest. I hate snow. I hate snowy days.

I hate the man who made me hate snow.

I hate today.

‘Ma’am, what would you like to order?’ A soft, female voice sounded. It took me a moment to realize the question was directed towards me. I looked up and gazed at the beautiful, tall woman with a gentle smile. Her slender hands were soft and delicate with a sparkling diamond adorning her ring finger. The pink of her cheeks was filled with love and contentment. Her bright face was radiant and unscarred with a florid complexion contrary to my pallid skin, and her sparkling eyes had a twinkle of hope in them that I had now lost.

She had everything I could ever ask for.

Published in Issue 88 Sep 2020
Sunday, 16 August 2020 12:00

Queen and Pawn by Michael Morris

Kirsty slouched along the rest room corridor accompanied by the young nurse. Sucks, she thought. Life sucks.

She took in the sights of the old people, some sitting in wheelchairs, mouths open, staring into space. A few shuffled around on Zimmer frames. One of these reached out a hand to the nurse as the two passed by.

“Hello, Julie,” she muttered. “How’s cousin George?”

The nurse clasped the elderly woman’s hand in both of hers. “George is doing well, Elizabeth” she said, articulating each word slowly and clearly. “He sends his regards.”

“That’s good, that’s good.” The old lady’s gaping gaze fixed on Kirsty.

“Your daughter has grown,” she said.

“That’s right. This is my daughter, Anne. Say hello to Aunt Elizabeth, Anne.”

Kirsty glared alternately at the nurse and the old lady. “Hello, Aunt Elizabeth,” she muttered after a long pause.

“Well, good to see you both,” the old lady said. “Better be going now. I’m very busy, you know.”

“I’m sure you are,” said the nurse.

“Poor Elizabeth,” said the nurse as the old lady meandered off. “One of our worst dementia cases.”

You don’t say.

Published in Issue 87 Aug 2020
Sunday, 16 August 2020 11:52

I Hate Cassie Elizabeth Allen by Lyndee Johns

Cassie cries in the Marshall’s bathroom.

Her back is pressed against the porcelain toilet as she sits on the floor, her head buried in her arms. Her shoulders heave, thudding up-down, up-down.

I can’t see it, but I can imagine her cheap mascara running down her face, trickling over the acne spots on her cheeks that the concealer’s doing a very poor job of concealing.

I had expected wailing from her. Loud, noisy sobbing, with snot dripping onto the blue-and-black floor tiles. Messy, gross, disgusting crying.

But the sobs are quiet. Stilted, choked with irregular breaths.

Probably she doesn’t want anyone to hear.

Too bad I can.

Published in Issue 87 Aug 2020

they shoot unicornsParvati lined up the silvery neck of the unicorn in the telescopic sights of her specially adapted hunting rifle.

The creature’s hide glowed in the light of the full moon, making it an easy target to pick out among the shadows even from thirty metres away. It suspected something, though; there was a wariness in its stance as it bucked its head and sniffed the night air. The creatures were highly intelligent. This one exhaled a cloud of mist, green in her night sights. Beside her, Zack muttered the vowels of his Concealment spell a little faster, working to keep the two of them hidden from the unicorn’s senses. It was among the last of its kind in England. If it spooked and fled now it might be months before they could track it down again. Or they might never see it again.

Zack cast her a wide-eyed glance that said, Now. Shoot while you can. This was his first field operation. He hadn’t wanted to come along, happier among his books and his incantations, but there’d been no one else available at short notice.

Published in Issue 86 Jul 2020
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 11:55

Masked, Meal and Marooned by Aaiman Amjad

There was a glitch, a flaw, a mishap and my once ever so lovely world mutated. The thousands of voices that once spoke were now silenced, the thousands of hearts that once loved were now numbed, and the thousands of eyes that once saw were now closed…forever. The world was muted down and no one was willing to break this pact of eternal silence. So, everyone held their breath, as the curtains unfolded, to watch a show no one wanted to witness…

I nuzzled deeper into my warm blanket, my heart beating a strange rhythm while the wind sang a dark symphony. I glanced out the window, and sure enough, the clouds spoke of an imminent storm. I could make out the faint outline of my room with the closet overflowing with clothes and my eclectic bookshelf about to erupt. The slightly open door was accentuated by the light from the streetlamp that peeked through the shutters of the high, grubby window.

 I could not sleep.

Published in Issue 86 Jul 2020
Sunday, 14 June 2020 08:56

Something New by Morgan Horst

Something New by Morgan Horst

“What’s mine is yours,” Lila told me the day I moved into the 1050 square foot apartment; the one I shared with the girl who would soon prove to me that these first words were a life-altering lie.

My arms ached from carrying all my belongings up to the fourth floor earlier that afternoon. The sun had only been absent for maybe an hour, but my first class of the semester started early the next morning, and I just wanted to shower and crawl in bed. It was a relief to see the roommate I’d been assigned seemed nice, but her talkative nature was exhausting. Hoping she’d eventually take the hint, I stayed silent and nodded as she pointed out and asked my opinion on the decor she had accumulated in the week since she’d moved in.

“It’s not much, I know,” she chatted on with a wide white smile. Flipping her strawberry-blonde hair over a bony shoulder, she seemed completely comfortable sitting in her swimsuit in front of a stranger. She had come in from a welcome party at the campus pool when I was unpacking my last box; there was little doubt in my mind she had walked all the way back with nothing to cover up but her beach towel. I found this fascinating and slightly annoying. “I figured we could spice the place up together, right?”

Published in Issue 85 Jun 2020
Sunday, 14 June 2020 08:53

Foreign Language by Andrew George

Foreign Language by Andrew GeorgeIt’s your eighth day of football and your tenth day of grade nine.

You’re in the locker room. Everyone’s getting ready for practice. Your mouthguard is no longer attached to your helmet.  No mouthguard means you’re running laps. You don’t want to run laps.

You slink your way to the coach’s room. The coaches are meeting, speaking nonsensically.

“Let’s install Gooo principles today. We need to get our counter play in before next week. On ‘D’ we’ll put in Hawk formation, get the ‘Deebees’ learning their zone principles, linebackers flow and scrape — stress pursuit. We’ll script Chicago vs. Eagle, work trips into the package, see if the receivers know their waggle and motion.”

They notice you.

Published in Issue 85 Jun 2020

Mae had discovered why the wands didn’t work anymore. She found the answer in an old leather-bound book deep in the Wizard Tower’s library.

She had the book clutched to her chest and was on the way to the Master Mage’s study when she ran into Lenn and Morph in the west corridor. Lenn was a dark-haired girl with a narrow face and dull eyes. Morph was a sallow boy with a permanent frown. The sight of them made Mae’s stomach clench and her legs turn to jelly.

“It’s the bookworm,” said Lenn. “And look, she has a book. What’s in this one, then?”

Mae had never been able to think of anything to say to counter Lenn and Morph’s frequent taunts. Her mind froze as her muscles tensed. Flight, escape, had always been her only response.

Putting her head down, she tried to dart past, but Morph gave her a shove on the arm while shouting, “Where are you going with that?”

The shove was enough to drive Mae into the stone wall. Pain burst along her left arm as she recoiled and fell to the flagstone floor, the book slipping from her hands. Her wire spectacles slid down her nose, but she caught them just in time.

Published in Issue 84 May 2020
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