The Garden Shop
by Vonnie Winslow Crist
Katy sang ballads to her children as she watered and groomed their small, green bodies. Her strong hands scooped up Snakeplant, and rocked the sansaveria while she crooned an alto rendition of Barb'ra Allen. Then, she tucked its roots into a new pot and covered their paleness with soil. Finally, she placed a freshly potted, watered, and fed Snakeplant back on its perch.
"Who be next?" A smile crinkled the shopkeeper's eyes as she scanned the rows of potting tables and plant shelves. "Katy's a-asking, who be next?"
Shamrock bent in the shopkeep's direction. Its many-leafed faces curved towards Katy's freckled arm. She clapped her hands, clucked at the boldness of her wine-flecked charge.
The Point of No Return
by John Ayliff
There can come a time when a priest has preached so often of Heaven that it loses its appeal, and he begins to desire a more Earthly immortality. To me this happened in the winter or 1940-41, when a shroud of purely human darkness covered Europe and leered at us across the suddenly narrow channel, and we huddled around our meagrely rationed comforts and cowered from the bombs that rained down on our cities and cathedrals. I was not warmed by the hymns and speeches that roused my flock to confidence, for I had studied enough public speaking to know how they worked and enough theology to see their flaws. For me there was only desolation and death from a seemingly unstoppable foe, and even as I affirmed from the pulpit that God was on our side I did not believe it. God seemed distant and uncaring, and although I had no firm evidence of His non-existence, no qualitative difference between the current suffering and those of history, I gradually realised that I had lost my faith.
By Black Poppy
I laugh at your pain,
It pleasures me to,
I know I’m perfectly insane,
Temptation to mess with your mind,
Isn’t far behind,
Waking from Nightmare
By Yolanda Sfetsos
Tess opened her eyes and sucked in a deep breath. The chill settled inside her lungs as she rolled onto her back.
She stared at the unfamiliar ceiling, disoriented for a few seconds. When she remembered the clawed hands that had grabbed her, she sat up. The automatic scream didn’t come, only a strangled moan. Neither did Martin’s soothing routine.
Pressing her hands against the mattress, she jumped off the bed and spun around in a circle. The cold and rough touch of scaly skin lingered on her arms.
I’m back in our bedroom. Martin lay on the bed, sleeping. Where’s that thing?
She extended a hand out to shake her husband awake but couldn’t reach him. She tried again but some sort of invisible barrier quivered between them like a wall of water. Martin’s side of the bed was separated from hers, his image hazy as the barrier wobbled every time she touched it.
“What’s going on?” Her breath misted in front of her, as did the window across the room.
“You’re in Nightmare.”
A Fairy Tale
By Alan Loewen
Glen Ryker sat back in his chair, watching the phone and daring it to ring with his first needy client. He chewed his lip as he mindlessly tapped a pencil on his desktop.
When it finally rang, he grabbed it only to hear his father on the line demanding Glen return to the accounting firm. The dream finally degenerated into endless days of Glen pouring over senseless strings of pointless figures and calculations in a constantly shrinking cubicle.
It would have gone on and on if Morgan hadn't tickled his ear in her usual way of getting him up in the morning. "Wake up, sleepyhead, the big one might be today."
Glen groaned and tried to roll over away from her, but he felt a gentle pull on his hair and knew she wasn't buying the charade.
"Get up," she said, half giggling, "or would you like a shower in bed?"
Glen knew she meant it. He rolled onto his back and opened his eyes to see Morgan floating just inches above his face, clothed only in her energy aura. The living light streamed around her six-inch tall body in unbelievable colors of mauve and ginger, creating rippling wing-like waves. Morgan and Glen had been business partners and roommates of convenience for almost a year, but he never stopped marveling at the little sprite's ever-changing light show.
By Lee Clark Zumpe
The razor penetrated the skin and called to the surface a single droplet of blood. She held the blade in her trembling hands, watching the blood bubble forth innocently and snake down the length of her forearm. She felt a tear race down her cheek in sympathy.
Gloria pressed hard, biting her lip, and the blade dug deep. The thin crimson ribbon traced only a moment earlier disappeared beneath a surging torrent of blood. Gloria cried out, horrified by the sight before her. All the fears that had driven her to this moment, all the torment that had climaxed in this act suddenly seemed meaningless.
The razor fell to the tile as Gloria staggered away from the mirror. She gazed at her reflection, and she saw the Black subsiding from her sad eyes.
by Jessy Marie Roberts
My life is a sham.
That is what I would say if I had a mouth to speak with, fingers to sign with or any other way to communicate. My step-father silenced me when he learned a bit of magic and turned me into a pillowcase. Instead of twenty and available, I am a floral pattern on my mother’s king-size bed. If I ever turn back in to a human, I will spend the rest of my life in therapy for all of the things I have seen on her marriage bed.
I am grateful pillows cannot vomit.
Only Boredom Lasts Forever
By Paul Newman
“That one’s mine”
“No it’s not! It’s mine see? It fits right here.” Ares struggled to wedge the large golden tooth into a gap that was obviously too small for it.
“Dammit Ares! You always try to steal my gold tooth. You know it’s mine. Why don’t you just get one of your own?” asked Thor. He clouted Ares over the top of the head and caught his tooth as it popped out.
By Robert William Shmigelsky
Fire rose and glowed red in bloom.
Thunderous beats rang up hollowed out caverns.
Above the ice glistened in the gloom.
Curse of the Moon - Part 4
A Pirate’s Life for Me
By Emma Kathryn
SOMEWHERE IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN
“Well, well, well,” the captain said, strolling along the deck. He looked the four prisoners up and down. Pitiful bunch. The summer sun beat down on the ship, turning the men brown – and some of the paler ones red. A seagull cried over head.
“Thought you could take our ship, eh lads?” the captain roared, with a wide grin on his face. His long black hair was tied in hundreds of thin braids, and then pulled away from his face. Resting on top of these braids was a weather-worn hat, which was torn in a few places. He was a surprisingly clean shaven for a sea-faring man. But Captain Lucius Benjamin was a proud man. Each day brought a new challenge, and for each he must be at his very finest, particularly in appearance. He played with one of the many earrings, which hung from his ears, toying with it was he thought about what to do with these men.
by Robert Essig
Raymond looked around the room cautiously, observing the seeds of his creation. They were everywhere, little clues as to his fabled beginning. Fabled? Is that the word for it? Most certainly, for only God is the creator and His human race can do no more than fable an existence.
That was what Raymond thought, what his tale spinner (creator) taught him, bred into him.
Bred into me!
How could it be he had memories that were nothing more that another man’s creative force? It seemed impossible, yet there was no denying the truth. Raymond’s whole existence was not that of God, but of a man named Spangler, Jared Spangler author of more than thirty books, many of them New York Times bestsellers.
The Man Whose Eyes Went For A Walk Without Him
By James Hayward
In his dream, Jerry was two centimetres tall. A Peterbuilt truck, massive as a skyscraper, was bearing down on him. The shock jolted him awake, only to bring him into a world where a Peterbuilt truck, massive as a skyscraper, was bearing down on him.
He did the only thing a sane person would or could do: He screamed and screamed and screamed, grabbing at his face, hiding his eyes; but it did no good.
He knew he was in his one room flat. Some quiet corner of his mind knew that there was a stack of old papers near the rubbish bin, and a green laminex table with shiny steel legs, and an old wood stove with a rattly fan offset above it, all within a few metres of him and his scratchy old bed.
But his eyes told him otherwise; his eyes told him about a Ford Falcon that silently charged up to and over him. His hands hooked into the wooden bed frame. It was there, in his hands. And still he screamed as a five metre terrier showed its teeth. Then, it was gone. To be replaced by a...
By J. N. Thorpe
Ellie shaded her eyes with her hand to stare up into the dazzlingly bright sky. Way above her a kestrel hung, gliding. Around her a sea of gently rippling corn whispered softly as Red Admirals flitted overhead. She skipped through the dusty corn that tickled her cheeks, her eyes darting, neck craning to see over stalks as golden as her hair.
She ducked down when she heard Ruth's sing-song call.
"Ready or not, here I come!"
It was a good hiding place – even if Daddy had told them not to play in the field. Tomorrow Mr. Wilkins would bring his combine harvester. Tomorrow was a world away, though, and their new home promised such adventures!
A Rose By Any Other Name
“So where did you find him?”
Sue glanced across at the marmalade cat. “I think it’s a her.”
“Well, where did you find her?”
“To be honest she’s a bit of a mystery. I came home one evening and she was sitting in that window, looking out at the house across the street. The only thing I can think of is that she got in through the bathroom window that we always leave open, though I don’t know how she managed that. I mean, it’s on the first floor and there’s no trees near it or anything.”
“How odd? Is she nice? I mean affectionate?”
By Black Poppy
I still remember those words you whispered to me so long ago. You told me our love was special and like a puppy I lapped up your lies as your lips stroked the base of my neck. I knew not of your past or what you really knew of mine.
The Butterfly on a Wheel – Part Two
By Andrew M Boylan
The Second Canto: Sloth
I awoke in the embrace of blackness.
The walls, floor and ceiling pressed in on me, claustrophobia clawed at my chest. I had to get out. The movement of my arms was limited but, with a little effort, I managed to press my palms against the slick, cool walls. I pushed.
My hearing was filled with the sound of splintering wood and suddenly the room exploded away from me.
I was in the crypt of the church; I recognised it from my infrequent visits. I realised that I was still in darkness, and yet I could see perfectly well. Strangest of all, this enhanced vision seemed perfectly natural to me
Looking around me, I saw the splintered remains of a coffin, which had been my room of awakening.
Was I dead then?
Illustration for 'Butterfly on the Wheel - Part 2'
by Mark Pexton
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