Displaying items by tag: fiction

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?

Thanks,

Charisma

 

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!”

“What?”

“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
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
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