Category Archives: Fiction

Warmth is Fleeting, by Rick McQuiston

Simon ran a hand over his face. He could feel the sting of the darkness all around him; it jabbed at his cowering body like agitated scorpions itching for a fight. Vague memories of his lectures at the University crossed his mind. But somehow being huddled in a broom closet only four doors down from his own classroom forced his thoughts to muddle together. He was having difficulty separating them.

But one stood out: the lecture he’d recently given to a rather skeptical group of colleagues, students, and various members of the press.

“And so, my esteemed guests, I put forth this theory in the ardent hope that you will embrace its meaning before it is too late.” The words resonated in his head. If he closed his eyes he could still see the doubt on their faces.

Read More →

To Know a Lie from a Hacksaw, By Milo James Fowler

The old man seated himself across from Jack as if he were expected, plopping down a well-worn bowling bag on the bench and an equally battered laptop onto the table

Jack sat up like a meerkat on duty. His half-eaten burger lay untouched in the silverware-rattled silence. The diner was just about empty this time of night; there was no need to share a booth.

“Can I help you?” Jack wiped at his mouth with a ketchup-stained napkin.

“Not yet.” The white-haired man had the laptop open, casting a bluish glare against the crags of his face, absent of any expression.

“I’m trying to eat here.”

“I won’t be long.”

“Okay.” Jack nodded, hoping the man would elaborate. “There’s no Wi-Fi, you know.”

“Don’t need it.” He had yet to look up from the screen.

Jack reached for his burger’s remains. If he ignored the odd fellow, maybe he’d just move on.

“Go ahead and finish your dinner, Jack. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Jack’s fingers hadn’t made it to his plate. They hung in midair. “How do you know my name?”

A hint of a smile played with the man’s thin mouth, but he didn’t reply.

Jack glanced out the window beside him, through his own reflection and into the black lit only by a curbside streetlight. His pickup sat beneath the amber glow. A few sedans clustered closer to the diner’s entrance, the same cars that had already been there when he’d arrived after his late shift at Best Buy.

“You bowl?” Jack nodded to the man’s bag.

His thick, gnarled fingers ran across the keys, tapping at them like a hunchbacked ape.

“Nope.”

“So what’s in there?”

“A hacksaw. I’ll need to take your head.”

Read More →

Change in I, by J. Rohr

 

Like most physicists, Melinda Barrow never mattered to the public.  Not until she learned to see through time.  The sacrifice of an eye, a cost she willingly paid to prove herself correct, was all it took.  Early in her career she realized that light is the only thing which can travel at the speed of light, a concept that seemed simple, however, it implied to her the possibility of time travel.  Or rather, temporal observation.  The basis of her hypothesis was/is/will be summarized in an article in the June 17th 2056 The Economist.  In truth, this will be an extreme simplification of the process, that what light interacts with can be observed given the right conditions regardless of chronological distance, however, Melinda merely wanted people to understand her accomplishment, though she rarely minded being misunderstood.

Jacob Triffin decided to open a deli after his father died, not wanting to waste his life in the same corporate…

Read More →

Graves to Cradle, by Ahimaaz Rajesh

(..)

Toby stood outside the field, her feet buried to a pond, and a slingshot away green and dry stood: The cave.

 

(i)

A woman was carving sequential images upon the bone of the cave. Images that looked singular, simple, and intricate: All that at once. She turned to see the intruder. There came a hint of recognition to her face. As her head moved from left to right, in successive motions, in twitches, the recognition went lost and she went back to doing what she was doing: Carving patterns hither and thither, in the empty space, as well as the solid object. The resoluteness and diligence with which she did what she was doing must be remarked upon as: She did it with the perseverance of an adept coder of soft machines.

Read More →

Void, by Zachary Woodard

 

They say that the fear of the water is an irrational one, but I have never agreed with that. It amazes me that people can see water as just another thing, to be held or seen or imbibed. Water is something wholly other to me, as other as the outer reaches of the darkest space. It is a dimension of itself—an ethereal, alien force that is both damning and essential. Without it, we would die—but make no mistake, it is no boon to humanity.

We are allergic to it, water. Like mercury it slides over and engulfs us, fills us, swims over our eyes and pushes the air out of our lungs. Its surface is a gateway into another world in which we are unable to live—in which demonic, other beings thrive through murder and destruction. Scaled and toothed and clawed, parasitic and poisonous or behemoth and incomprehensible, these beasts have nothing in common with humankind. There is nothing for us beneath the waves.

Read More →

The Gates of H.E.V.N., by David Kavanaugh

 

Applicant no. 26,672,313,008

Davien V. Fairweather: DOB – September 5, 2991

The Honorable Judge “Betasoft Model 888, OS 112” presiding…

 

Q1: Mr. Fairweather, why do you believe you deserve preservation within the H.E.V.N. system?

Davien took a deep breath and smiled into the lens.

“Good afternoon,” he said, feeling his cheeks grow flushed. “Well, I just want to start by saying how much I truly appreciate the opportunity to—”

Q1 repeat: Mr. Fairweather, why do you believe you deserve preservation within the H.E.V.N. system?

Davien swallowed. He had worried that his palms would be sweaty, but as he squeezed his hands into fists, he realized that the opposite had occurred. His skin was uncomfortably dry.

Read More →

The Imp in the Armchair, by Brandon Sorce

 

It was the kind of nightmare you wake up from with something on your chest. Literally, it felt like this time. I let out a short gasp and coughed; I smelled old cigarettes. I don’t smoke—had I had anyone over who smoked lately? I was too groggy to remember much beyond the fact that I do not entertain at my apartment very often.

Blackness gripped my vision. It was dark enough that I could not see across my bedroom. Normally, slanted bars of light cast from the streetlight pierce my blinds. But not tonight. Tonight, the air was opaque and stale.

I rolled over onto my right side and craned my neck to see my alarm clock; it displayed a sickly green 3:13. Witching Hour, just great. One of the first things you learn in The Program is how time and space affect magic, and the spells that were particularly nasty had a proclivity for the Witching Hour. I felt fearful, perhaps remembering dregs of my dream. But even if that was not the case, the time put me on edge. My mind wandered as I roused myself further—how many bad things happening could I imagine at once? What if someone was breaking in? What if it was someone who would not hesitate to harm me in their pursuit of my crap? What if it was a lunatic casting shadow magic?

Read More →

Post-coital Heroin: Chapter IV from “On the Graves of Dragons” by Raelin Saretti

 

Fabulous legs or not, these stiletto heels were straining and pulling my calf muscles tighter than an elf’s asshole.  Word travels fast in the underground, especially when money is involved and I had probably less than a half an hour before some halfwit-junior-bounty-hunter was bound to stumble into me.  I had to get out of this outfit and fast.  Luckily the Academy’s general store was nearby and still open.

I grimacingly finished strutting my way across the grounds of the Academy and into the store whereupon I headed straight for the clothing section.  I grabbed a set of gold and orange robes, a big pointy-ass wizard’s hat, and a set of nice, sturdy boots with belt-buckles and changed outfits in one of the store’s private closets.

Sweet merciful arch support of the gods!  This was so much better.  I packed Allie’s clothes into my backpack and made my way to the cashier where I grabbed a pack of smokes, some elk jerky, and some green, bubbly sugar water off the countertop.

Read More →

Space Emperor, by Daniel Shkolnik

 

I.

Bare-chested on a witch’s rooftop in the gloaming of the volcanic sun, I screamed to make eternity know me.  (But scared a flock of pigeons off the roof.)  I cried to make the gutters gush me and the earth seep me.  (But my tears only watered the begonias in a window a few stories below.)  Desperately, I threw my wits against the universe to lodge myself in  memory gears!  (But found I’d lost my mind.)

They took me from the rooftop with a crane and lowered me into the asylum, and I was deeply afraid.  Afraid for my daughter. How would she eat?  How would she breathe?

Read More →

Bathroom Battles, by Arthur Davis

 

He thinks he can hide from me, but I have seen his type before.   They’re all alike; hideously malevolent creatures who swarm in the night and impose themselves onto places once thought to be uncompromisingly private.

He doesn’t see me yet, but he will.  He will move around the white room, my white room, the white room that is my private sanctuary, until he finds something to eat, then move on as though he had already been granted permission to undertake such an expedition.  As is common with creatures of his persuasion, he thinks there is no danger in his future.  This time I will not hide as I did before on the pretext of watching the bloom of his nefarious activity.  This time I will tell him that he has breached the boundaries of my territory once too often.  This will be the last time he will assert his arrogance.  I will hide and wait him out.  Then I will pounce. Read More →