11th Issue

This is the line up for the eleventh issue.
48 pages containing 12 great stories and 2 poems plus some great artwork!

Contents shown in the approximate order they will appear in the finished zine.

Cover image by Daevid Ford

Issue Eleven is out on
Saturday 30th April



Old Red
by Jen White

My cloak, they said, the bright colour invoking uncontrollable passions. My lack of restraint, my foolhardiness, my poor judgment, my willingness to venture out without protection, to take risks. How arrogant of me, they said, how unwise. I deserved, they said, everything that came to me and more. If only I had remained at home, under my mother’s care, humble and quiet, like my sisters, like their friends, baking perhaps, or gardening or sewing. If only I had done that, none of the rest would have happened. No forest, no wolf, no attack. I would have been safe, and Gran would not be dead.
It did not matter that it had been my mother’s decision to send me to Gran with my basket of nourishes. And that it was my mother, also, who had made my cloak. They blamed me. They still do.



Act of God
An Inspector Venn Mystery
by Patrick Whittaker

Inspector Venn felt he was getting a foretaste of Hell. All but the most remote of the moorland fires had been extinguished, but the night remained steeped in smoke that seemed almost sentient as it writhed in the air and scratched at his lungs.
A network of light beams cut through the haze. Some were headlights of the many vehicles that had descended upon the crash scene. Others sprang from powerful torches wielded by grim-faced rescue workers who knew there was no rescuing to be done – only body parts to be collected and collated.
‘It blew up in mid-air,’ said Judd Crowther, the man from the Air Ministry. He played his torch over twisted metal lying on the scorched earth. ‘I shouldn’t think the poor buggers knew what hit them.’
‘And what did hit them?’ Venn asked.
‘We don’t know yet.’



Souls Divided
by Robert William Shmigelsky

The Shadow whispered under the guise of night.
The wayward slept ‘til sun rose and shone out the day.
The Light reminded of the goodness in life.



The Evening Paper
by Harry Downey

‘Depressing’ would have been as good a word as any to describe what Longton Road had become by this point. Whatever signs of prosperity there had been nearer the town centre were left behind and the increasing numbers of ‘To Let’ and ‘For Sale’ signs on the commercial properties told their own story. Boarded up shops and the number of unrepaired broken windows added to the overall look of neglect. Everywhere was drab and run-down and only the occasional freshly painted shop front showed where the owner was either new enough still to be hopeful or unwilling to accept what seemed inevitable.
The scene was a miserable backdrop to a mid-November morning that would have lowered the spirits of even the most cheerful. It was raining, that cold, horizontally wind-blown rain that always seems to defy the laws of Nature and be wetter than other rains. The weather forecast had predicted rain, some sleet and gusty winds. The locals always said they didn’t need a weather forecast for the town –’it’s usually windy and it rains a lot’ – or at least seemed to. The few people to be seen were scurrying to their next destinations, some fighting with umbrellas that were proving unmanageable in the wind that blew directly down the road from the hills above the town.
The woman was an exception in two ways. She was not hurrying, nor was she dressed for the conditions. Her red coat, faded and torn, was more appropriate for summer wear while her open-toed shoes matched the coat, making them completely unsuited to the day. She had no umbrella but was wearing a hat, small and rather attractive even though clearly not new, with an incongruous green feather that was somehow managing to stand pert despite the wind and rain. She was carrying a large, square, blue and white check bag made of some plastic material. The bag appeared almost empty.



Not a Swan
by Gary Budgen

Until she was six Eliza’s mother read her the Swan Princess. The wicked step-mother had turned all the princess’s brothers into swans.
“What is a swan?”
Her mother would smile and tell her of the beautiful white birds. There were no swans in this town, only darker birds.
Then the real time ended when her mother, inexplicably not wearing a seat belt, took flight through a car window-screen. Her father had broke too fast but he was wearing his belt. From the back she saw her mother penetrated by a jagged shard of glass as she lay on the ground in front of the car. The blood ran down her face like the traceries of a wedding veil. Once upon a time had begun.



The Greatest Storyteller
by Ashby McGowan

If you’ve ever sailed up the Lycian Peninsula in a two masted schooner, then I am sure you’ll remember the tall golden tower the tops the palace of King Drog. A tower of beauty rising out of the sea mists, and the fumes from the tanning factory. The golden tower, well it’s brass really, had seen better days, and so had King Drog. The King was of extensive build. Like a house! His three main loves in life were eating, eating, and storytelling.
But the King had become bored. Bored, bored, bored. His storytellers had told their last story. Every original story has been copied and rewritten a hundred times. All three Royal Storytellers could plagiarise no more.
Princess Drogalina came to the rescue, “Father, I have an idea. One that might remedy, your never-ending desire for fresh stories. And at the same time bring much needed tourism to this noble Land. Anything that makes people forget the Poll Tax is a good thing.



One Wish
by Heather Smith

He should have come back hours ago. I knew, and my mother knew. We were going to be married tomorrow, and he wanted one last night to go fishing with his best friend. It was completely harmless. But the brackish tributary in the midst of the wetlands had never seemed so expansive before. I stood on a crudely-made pier and gazed out over the water. My mother put her arm around my shoulders. It was dark; a half-moon reflected off the murky water. As if the cosmos could sense my anxiousness, the Fourth of July fireworks began.
“He’ll know we can see him now,” I said. “If he was going to try to signal somehow—to wave or something—he’d do it now, right, Mom?”
“I’m looking, honey.”
Her old eyes strained in the darkness, and my young ones couldn’t see any better. I sighed and looked down at the dark ripples of the water. My hair brushed my face gently as a breeze passed through. He was missing. But I felt strangely resigned to fate’s decision. A fallen sign floated to the leg of the pier and banged gently against it. I knelt down to pick it up. Swim at your own risk. I hugged the wet sign to my chest, enjoying the chill and the smell of sea salt.
“Is that it?” my mother broke the silence as another bright burst of fireworks briefly illuminated the water.



by Joan Conklin

He watched her smooth body below the waterfall, between the clear and breakable streams tumbling down the rocks. The way the water moved translucently over her in a thick layer made her look like a glass statue. Her fellow nymphs glanced toward him, giggling. She looked at him and ran away, splashing light-infused drops onto his coarse-haired goat legs.
This is how it was between Quercus and Amanita for years. Every day he would chase her, and every day she would run. At first he had been fun to tease, but he persisted. She would climb trees and swing from the vines, land in the water, swim across a wide river, run up a high hill and ten miles away, but Quercus would still find her. She would be hiding in a cave, and out of nowhere appeared his round face and jagged teeth, his green-coated tongue extending lecherously. She was running out of places to go. She had no choice but to beg the river god Diluvian for help, telling him that she just couldn’t run anymore.



The Night I met Lilith
by Fred Arcta

The good folks don't come out after sun down any more. Too many hard lessons have been learned. The otherwise abandoned streets swirl with the detritus of the night: hobos, hookers, dealers and a cornucopia of other dregs of dubious vocations less readily classifiable. It's hard to imagine them as children. These people don't bother me any more; too many hard lessons have been learned.



Curse of the Moon - Part Six
by Shelley



by Jessica McHugh

Most stories begin at the beginning. No surprise there; it’s the most logical place to start. But nothing about my life or my story is logical, so why should I tell it in a logical way? When you think about it, most elements of life are illogical. There are very few things that we do in life that make a whole lot of sense. The only thing that seems completely sensible is death. Death makes perfect sense, as unfair or untimely as it may be at times. Death is the only constant in life. It can't be controlled, and it can't be avoided. Many would say the same about love. And I say, sure, love is wild and uncontrollable and perhaps even unavoidable. The difference between love and death is that not everyone is touched by love, but sooner or later, everyone is touched by death. As least, as of now. Perhaps one day, humans will achieve immortality, but that day is long off, and as I live and breathe, it is impossible.
So, you've probably already begun to churn with theories about who I am, where I come from, and what this is all about. But whatever you're thinking, you're probably wrong. I was wrong for a long time too, and though I find it more logical to begin at the end, there is no end to this tale, so I'll conform and start at the beginning.



The Moirai in the 21st Century
by Paris Elisabeth Sea

Clotho left her spinning wheel
Upgraded to a gyroscope
She’ll track you by GPS
No thread to hand to Lachesis
Her strings are theory now
Vibrating with an appetite for fire
Pale mole upon the skin of the sun

The poem 'The Morai in the 21st Century' was the 3rd place winner in the CV2 2007 Two-Day Poem Contest,
and appeared in CV2 volume 30, issue/no. 2, autumn 2007.
(CV2 is also known as Contemporary Verse 2, a quarterly literary journal published in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)



Gabriel’s Mistake
by Anna Sykora

“You’re so ugly,” taunted the fawn. Away she skipped with her tittering friends, breaking small branches in their haste, and Gabriel hung his head. Twin tears rolled from his violet eyes, dripped down his velvety cheeks and dropped from his muzzle to the ground. Closing his eyes he wished he too could sink into the fragrant earth, never to be teased again by cruel deer.
They hated him because he was pale as snow and didn’t grow antlers like they did. Sighing he turned his hooves towards the marshiest corner of Fey Forest, where other large animals rarely ventured. The snakes and toads there left him alone.
The noon sun hung from tangled branches like a lantern. His hooves made sucking sounds in the water-logged earth. This was where he belonged. Carefully he stepped around a black pit of quicksand ringed by bristly cattails. What did it matter, anyway? Nobody would care if he never showed his face again.



How Their Revolution Began
by Josie Gowler

Just a little more kneading and the honeybread dough would be finished. Vannio thought that his efforts had a tang of bitterness, the bitterness of a coward. He knew he wasn’t as good a baker as his brother. Or his father. They’d known how to make honeybread that would melt in the mouth. Vannio had got up even earlier than usual – when the moon was still high in the darkened sky – to start the day’s baking. Last night’s events had not lent themselves to a good night’s rest. Last night… could an oathbreaker become brave once more? Was such a thing possible? Could he ever turn and fight again?



by Chris Castle

The same night Rudy committed his first murder he had the man’s last word tattooed on his bicep. Rudy had walked into the first parlour he could find; a dark, little shop, the sign barely lit by the nearby streetlamp. There were no pictures to show the man’s talent, no prices, or even opening hours. It was simply a doorway that led to a single chair, a galaxy of inks and needles.
The man himself was non-descript; if Rudy had to remember his face-which later he would-it would be a maddening, fruitless exercise. There was not enough weight for him to be heavy, not enough scars for him to be a monster. He was simply…there. Rudy told him what he wanted and the man nodded; he confirmed it by holding up a sketch of the letters. Even though it was barely more than a thumbnail scrawl, Rudy was impressed by the details, the skill of the work. Rudy rolled up his shirt sleeve as way of approval.
As the man began his work, Rudy closed his eyes and thought back to the moment his world had changed. For all his talk, Rudy’s hand had shaken when he had walked the stairs; his bladder was close to bursting. The money was in his pocket, the job taken but his heart still pounded as he edged up to the door. He took a breath, knocked on the door and drew up the weapon as he listened to the dull thud of footsteps, the small mutter of the dead man’s curses. Then the door opened.


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