The Sin Eater

Babe needs new boots. We’re down at the river on a market day. A hard sun is shining on the crowds, on the stalls, the polis, more people, parked vans, buskers, the glistening river. I count four Big Issue sellers in less than five...

Roommates

“Hannah, we’re going to be late,” her mother is saying, but not in the real pissed-off way she would have said it before the accident. Instead she’s tentative, careful, like she’s constantly disarming a bomb and isn’t sure what wires are safe to cut....

Ina & the Demon

A young boy and a slightly older girl are sitting on a burgandy shag carpet in a dim, fire lit room by it’s mantle. Behind each of them sits a brown leather chair, and outside it is dark and storming. The young boy had...

Crocodile Love Machine

Soon as Sobek walks into the laundromat he sees Bastet, flipping magazine pages beneath a “Nile Cruises” poster in the back with that creep, Apep. Motherfucker, Sobek thinks, scales starting to sweat at the sight of her. Really? Bastet doesn’t even look up from...

900 seconds

Fifteen minutes wasn’t enough time to cross the gulf. Technically, ten million years wasn’t enough time, but the heuristics they had nowadays made the odds of an impasse acceptably low. Still, nine hundred seconds; there was no way. This wasn’t intuition, it was twelve...

Phoenix, Fallen

The Phoenix Corporation complex perches atop a volcanic ridge overlooking the Pacific. Its vari-copper cladding catches the rising sun, turning the buildings to flame. I used to love watching the building burn like its namesake, but today can think of nothing but Kokua, plummeting...

Foxglove

As my body tossed and turned, my mind swirled with the usual dark thoughts that I let consume me nearly nightly now. Self hatred, hoplessness, and all of the horrid things I believed about myself. As I festered, my mind began to wander to...

Bury-Me-Not

We buried Mother in a tasteful rosewood cube. I couldn’t stop thinking that she looked like a paperweight. When I got home, I made an appointment for some movers to take Mother’s hospital bed out of her room. Really, it was my master bedroom,...

I’m Waiting For You

“Who’d slash a fifteenth-century Madonna?” That’s the question the robots at Zup’s grocery in the far, far north of Minnesota asked. They didn’t talk about Nils or the bear. I was accused. Last summer, up at the lake to buy Nils Andersson’s land, I...

Bad Blood

Sweating and panting, I skid to a stop in front of apartment 4-G. Old Haxalot might be losing his touch. He normally locates the newbies in half this time. The black SUVs are only three blocks away. On the other side of this door...

The Eye Eaters

When we find the old fruit seller sprawled on his back, face a livid gray, I’m all for following the proper rituals. But Ituani wants to eat his eyes. “That’s disgusting,” I say. Ituani has been my best friend since forever; her grandmother half-raised...

The Christian Dirce

“Listen to me closely, Commander, and form a visual. The beautiful naked Christian is lashed to the side of the mighty bull as it agitates in the stall beneath the arena. Hands scream for air as they are bound with braided leather to its...

The Story of Howard

In the skyscraper-laden landscape known as Tri, Howard lived and worked as a lecturer and a father. His students were the exciting sort, always full of surprises with their in-class antiques and colorful essays. His family was the loving sort, his wife and daughters...

SAFEFIELD

“How could this be happening?” “As I said, it’s a field, not a shield.” “But in the advertisements it looks like a shell of light around the guy’s house.” “Yes, I’m aware of the commercials, Mr. Alderson.” “The tree just disintegrates, doesn’t even touch...

CRICKET SONG

I keep a baseball bat under my bed. It’s not a genuine Louisville Slugger, carved from Northern white ash, but it’s polished smooth and when I crept across the outfield to claim it from the equipment shed last week, it fit handily in my...

Cerise Sky Memories

I remember a childhood that didn’t exist. Hot apple pies cooling on park benches. Small toes pressed into scorching white sand. Snowball fights leaving crisp, crunchy ice crusted in the collar of my coat. A tangle of neurological connections to construct a lifetime that...

Planets

Shadows dance across the wall as the spotlight swings from its broken mount. I see sparks in the darkness of the crack left by my blow. Too long looking! Its backhand catches me and I bounce off a wall. Getting my feet under me...

Portmanteau

Sanders’ trembling hand hovered over an ejection hatch separating him from interstellar vacuum. He paused, chest heaving, fighting his ending as if a stealthy gorilla was reaching through cage bars, catching him staring too closely. “Always heard suicides happened on port side. I thought...

Heretic 2.0

The chief of security removed the object archaically nailed to the briefing room door. There were gasps. It was paper. Forbidden by their protocols on the station. With a reverence and awe once held for holy relics, the chief delicately unscrolled the document and...

End Times

“God, not Apophis again,” Eddie said. He set the tray in the middle of the table. “‘fraid so,” Kathy sighed. “They started up as soon as you left. All the bars in town and we choose the space nerds hangout.” “I beg your pardon,”...

Another Cup of Tea

“I’m in a fowl mood,” Bryan said as he returned to the table in the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet with his plate filled with an assortment of chicken prepared in a variety of ways ranging from fried wings to Chinese chicken and broccoli. Linda laughed...

Travelling To Isfahan

These days visitors were few. The slim guidebook mentioned the Palace of the Red Emperors, famed once, but felled by an earthquake and never rebuilt; also the market, where travellers of discernment might purchase items from ages lost; a broken radio, wrist clocks, a...

The Face in the Window

The digital clock on the nightstand next to my bed was blinking 12:04 AM when it first happened. I woke up surrounded in darkness, drowning in panic. Rational thought left my brain, and instinct was in command. My only reaction was gasping for air...

ANGELS SING

Shortly after she turned 70, Celeste discovered that she was suddenly, remarkably, no longer allergic to cats. “This happens,” her allergist said without resentment or skepticism. “We can’t explain it. Probably has some relation to a change in hormones.” Her husband had been a...

The Hood Rat

The cliff face rises shear above the old skeleton. A tidal wave hewn in ancient granite, it crests high above the smoke that bleeds a bitter mist from the ruined city. A thin wisp that sweeps out upon the great lake that fans out...

No Need to Conceal

Tuesday night, post-shift beer in hand, prodding my phone with the other thumb to see what Alanna’s up to. Looking up, I see I’ve emerged from phone fog in time to take the shortcut I usually miss. The cut-through runs behind some empty shops....

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