by Lloyd Poast
Dan Reed hated the ocean. Always had.
He hated its mystery, its vastness, and he especially hated its romantic reputation. Since his divorce, there really wasn’t much in his life that he did like. He didn’t want to be in Italy, and the thought of investigating the disappearance of several tourists in an isolated, fishing village didn’t leave him wearing his best mood -- even if one of the victims was a fellow NYPD officer.
He kicked at the sand. “I can’t believe I got stuck with this,” he complained to his partner, Paul. “I wanna nail this cop killer, but does anyone here even speak English?”
“Probably, we’re not that far off the usual tourist path,” Paul replied, shining a flashlight on the blood splattered dock. “God, it looks like they exploded.”
Emma O’ The Gloamings
by Peter Simon
Emma had been driving aimlessly for hours. The events of the morning were still tormenting her mind. Even though she’d calmed down a bit now, she still cringed as she remembered her explosive argument with her boyfriend, those final bitter words indelibly etched in both their memories. There was no going back. Nor to her job: that office of stifling clones! She had never belonged there.
I’ve never belonged anywhere, she thought gloomily, and knew in her soul it was true.
A melancholy soprano lilted from the car speakers. Her city had been left far behind. Emma suddenly realised that, after hours of soothing, autumnal gold-greenery, she had no idea where she was. It was almost as if the car had been driving itself. Petrol was low and she was tired.
Valor – A Fable
by Jason V. Brock
“Still it rages…”
Weary, the King stood poised at the edge of his cot at the end of the world. In another time, he might have been declared an avenging angel -- perhaps even a savior. Not now…
Outside, the stalemate on the devastated heath held fast as the frenzied yelping of berserkers punctuated the insensible nattering of unexpected amputees.
“How has it all come down to this?”
He paced anxiously in the confined comfort of his tent, knowing this final skirmish would decide the future.
“If we fail now, there is nothing to be grateful for; my arrogance and covetousness would have derailed everything that I’ve worked for.” He sat on the tattered cot, knowing he should rest, but resisting the call of sleep. After a few more moments, he lay down at last and closed his burning eyes, visions painting the insides of his eyelids with gruesome tableaux.
“If we are vanquished, all will be lost forevermore…”
The City of Sarkomand,
A Guide for the Traveler, Chapter 32
by Alan Loewen
It started with the discovery of a new bookstore.
I’m not talking about one of the modern ones that have all the latest drivel from the major publishing houses; not the ones that publish books so banal you forget them seconds after reading the last page. I refer to the more uncommon type of bookstore that has its books stacked willy-nilly about the place pungent with that delightful aroma of old tomes, those small shops blessed with old histories and older personalities.
The proprietor was one of those elderly men so commonly found in those antiquated bookstores, owners not so much motivated by the bottom line of a financial statement, but by the passion of their first love. Their checkout counters groan under the weight of books stacked without evident order and they hover over their treasures like old dragons guarding ancient hordes.
The owner looked up at me as I entered. He smiled, nodded, and after a quick question as to whether I was looking for something specific he went immediately back to his own reading.
I had an hour before I had to be at my chosen destination, and for me, a bookstore served as the best diversion one could find.
by Brandon Ebinger
Amy always hated driving through The Barrens and avoided it as often as she could. Each time she was forced to, images from countless News shows invaded her mind. She was not overly sensitive or sentimental, but she didn’t understand how people could possibly conduct their normal, day to day lives in this area after the riots.
Nobody was sure what triggered the riots, but they were all pretty sure that it started in The Barrens, a poor, rundown section of the city where nobody walks anywhere alone or unarmed and the locals are like meerkats in their nervousness, sticking their heads out of rundown houses before quickly pulling back, door slamming. The Barrens was also where the riots were the most violent, and for days the television news was full of images of death. When the riot finally abated, it was days before people could return to their homes without stepping over wreckage, both manufactured and human.
Yet here Amy was, driving down Terrence Road (at night nonetheless) just to shave a few minutes off her travel time. Her alarm hadn’t gone off and she was already a few minutes late for her shift at The Raven, a small Goth club at the opposite edge of the Barrens from where she lived.
by Naomi Clark
A building burned on the edge of town, an empty warehouse set alight in the early hours of the morning. Scarlett was drawn like a moth to the blaze, her whole body overwhelmed by the desire to bask in the heat, feel the flickering flames against her skin.
The building was already ringed by rubber-neckers waiting for the fire fighters to arrive and she had to slip through the crowd to get close. Orange and gold tongues of fire licked at the old brickwork, through shattered windows and broken doors. Scarlett smelt the faint reek of gas in the air; something had exploded inside the warehouse. She edged closer, soaking in the light and fury of the fire.
Something inside the building was screaming.
by Glynn Barrass
The daylight’s termination,
Meets her at the grave,
Her hair is gold, her footsteps light,
Her eyes are blue and tearfully bright.
by Heather Kuehl
I grasped the amulet in my hands, trying to muster the courage to use it. My second in command, Irya DeLaska, stood to my right. Her lavender eyes analyzed the markings on the stone disc, trying to figure out their meaning.
“Are you sure this will work, Dyier?” she asked, her voice raspy from an old neck injury. The scar was a violent red slash across her milk-white throat. Usually she wore her black hair in a way that covered it, but today she had it pulled back in an intricate braid. She wore the emblem of the Unseelie Court on her bicep, the silver tracings in it marking her as royalty. If her husband, Fay-King Mika of the Unseelie Court, knew that she was a member of Dyier Shola we’d all pay with our lives for putting a member of the royal family in harm’s way.
Kiss Of The Angel
by Ana Héau
He was standing there, just staring in the nothingness, pure and beautiful. His skin was so white you would have thought it transparent.
He took a step towards me, his great white wings so huge they almost wiped the sky and the earth at the same time.
Such a delicate face, soft features, tender eyes and loving mouth...
Kiss of the Angel –Illustration
by Ana Héau
by Gary Budgen
The promotion had come suddenly when the old Head of Department had mysteriously disappeared and within two weeks Robinson was living in London. He didn’t know anyone and that was why he had accepted Vostock’s invitation to dinner.
Vostock was one of the programmers. He was a nearly bald middle-aged loser, with patches of greasy black hair above each ear who wore, every day, a fading charcoal suit. The only time they’d spoken was when Robinson approached him about the new Career Development Plans. Every employee should try and become rounded, developing a repertoire of skills, technical, communicative and interpersonal.
“Rubbish!” Vostock had blurted.
Robinson had been shocked, he didn’t want to antagonize anyone but this was a lack of respect.
By Kevin Sheehan
The man sitting opposite Josiah Wasserman;s desk appeared, under closer inspection, to have startling amphibian characteristics and mannerisms, enough so that Josiah readied his finger by the intercom should there be a need to summon security.
That the man’s name was Mr. Angel Fischbein made this meeting all the more odd. The peculiar aspects of this meeting were, putting it mildly, just beginning to swim upstream.
Mr. Angel Fischbein had a pair of large, dark, bulbous eyes with a razor thin bump for a nose. His red, moist lips were full and in a near constant state of puckering. It looked as if he rarely saw sunlight and the pale flesh of his face and hands had an unseemly oily sheen.
If a company was looking for a new, unique Halloweeen mask, Josiah thought, they’d have a winner in Mr. Fischbein.
He had to remind himself that looks weren’t important. This was market research after all. Yes, the products they tested had to look, smell, taste, feel and sound perfect. The people behind those products, well, that was another matter. One often wondered at the various market research conferences if this collection of non-appealing shapers of all that was consumed in America weren’t living vicariously through the sexy, popular commodities they helped create. It was like an origami rose made by the hands of a deformed hunchback.
We Shall Not Yield
Shattered Into Red
by Ellen Harvey
January 21, 2010 – 3:12pm
Humans can't see that world from outside the forest. The forest is dark and green and looming—tall, overpowering, menacing—at the edge of town, out the back of my house. It is a green curtain, hiding the other world from Boundary.
Underneath the leafed roof and a hundred meters behind the forest's border, the darkness disappears. The gloom lifts, leaving the world eerie and golden from the small amount of light that filters down to the leaf litter through the patchy green roof. A creek trickles across a bed of rocks. The trees grow so tall that the first eight metres of the tree trunks have almost no branches and no leaves. The musty air is held captive in the golden landscape.
Back To The Ruins
by Glynn Barrass
The whisper of footsteps across crisp grass informed him that he was no longer alone. It was a good job too: He had waited for his friend for all of twenty minutes. Justin Middleton was a man of extreme punctuality. His friend was not.
The other man was forty feet away, quickly growing nearer. Justin had exceptional hearing.
He was seated on a bench near the center of Albert Park. The bench was situated at the southern edge of a concrete covered circle; Justin sat facing the ornate stone fountain at the circle’s center. It had been switched off for the night.
Its basin held water though; he could hear its sluggish movement as a frog waded around on the hunt for sustenance.
The other man was barely twenty feet away now. Just pulled up the sleeve of his jacket to examine his watch. As the sky was turning from twilight to night, he had to squint a little to examine the hands.
He tutted, a loud noise that snapped and echoed throughout the open. “Twenty one minutes and thirty two seconds late, Simon,” he said without turning. “Not good at all… is it?”
Simon was almost upon him; his breathing turned heavy as he started to jog.
“I’m sorry, really, honestly.” A deep breath punctuated each word. Simon made his way around the bench. “It’s a long story.”
by Leon Atkinson
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