The Thirteenth Hole
by James McCormick
I was on my thirteenth hole and well ahead when I hit
my ball into the wooded area in a desperate attempt to avoid the bunker
just ahead of me. I cursed my bad luck; not only had I been forced into
playing this game by Mr. Daniels, my bullying, overweening boss, he
had also insisted that a very large round of drinks should be the wager
for losing. Usually it was the winner who paid, but my corpulent employer,
who always insisted on winning, had other ideas. It wasn’t enough
that he paid me a pittance and drove round in a Rolls Royce, he wanted
his drinks paid for too.
But the irritation soon disappeared. I’d spent about ten minutes
looking for the lost ball when I realised I was lost.
But that description didn’t really do justice to my current predicament.
It wasn’t that I’d simply wandered too far into the trees
and lost my bearings. As crazy as it sounded I was in a totally new
landscape, one of dense forest and ancient, giant trees that towered
up into the heavens.
La Luna Del Cacciatore – The Hunter’s
by Kirstyanne Ross
Let’s play a game,
guess my name and live.
yet I remained.
by MJ Wesolowski
Greg and I were born within a few seconds of each other.
Greg was first and it was obvious, even then, that we weren’t
identical. I looked like any other baby but Greg was different. His
forehead already a blank slope, underneath which, two empty, watery
eyes stared into nowhere. His mouth hung open, always, with a permanent
trail of drool down his chin, staining whatever he was wearing. I have
a photo of Greg in my wallet, taken from when we were both about three.
It was on holiday, in Majorca, the sun beaming down on us between the
leaves of a palm tree. We’re both in the same clothes, red adidas
T-shirts and white, plastic baseball caps. I’m skinny, with a
mop of blonde hair next to Greg, his belly spilling over the top of
his shorts, mouth open and those eyes that stare out in wonder at the
world. This is when everything was ok, when everything was normal.
Greg never really got past the age of three. His body grew, as did mine,
but his brain slumped at that age and gave up, like an empty car engine,
spluttering and hissing before grinding to a halt. That’s kind
of how mum and dad explained it, that Greg was different to other boys,
that he needed a bit more help. He’s still a person, still your
brother, still our son, they said; I knew it, I loved my brother, I
loved him a long time ago.
by Chris Castle
If she had woken during the night, as she had done
every other night since her husband died, she would have heard it. What
started as a whisper, a bang, that grew and grew until, finally, it
was a commotion. But instead, Sandra woke and smiled, looked at the
clock and slapped it down a minute before the alarm was set to explode
and could only think of one thing: Pancakes.
She showered and dressed, and walked down the stairs, humming a song
so bad that she made her way over to the CD player and switched it on;
no sound. She tried the switches; no light. The TV was dead too. She
made her way into the kitchen and started up the pancake mix and it
was only when she idly pulled the phone out of the re-charger did she
see the five messages and six missed calls.
“Penny? Is everything okay?” She readied the mix and boiled
water off the camp stove.
“My God! Sandy, are you okay? I was so worried about you!”
Her friend’s voice was off the radar; she wondered if the messages
all sounded the same. This was bad. Penny was calm, steady.
“Pen, what’s the matter? Tell me what’s wrong.”
Sandy gripped the phone a little tighter. Now John was gone, nothing
could scare her, nothing could worry her, but all the same she was determined
to look out for her friends. She waited as her friend seemed to gasp
on the other end of the phone.
“What’s wrong? Damn it, Sandy, look out of your window!”
by Christine E. Schulze
As soon as she entered the Vale of the Mira, she felt
it. Death clung to the air like a foreshadowing hand just waiting to
take hold of its victims. Autumn knew that their time—that Andy's
time—was short indeed.
Not even the slightest breeze stirred as Autumn made her way to the
palace. Mira lay strewn all over the ground where they fell unconscious
as the disease struck them.
Autumn carried Andy to his room in the palace, laying a cold cloth on
his feverish forehead and situating the soft pillows and blankets around
him. She carried as many others as she could into the room as well,
trying to calm their fevers and tending to them the best she could,
but all to no avail. This was no ordinary plague. This was black magic,
the work of her sister. This was her sister's reply to her wedding invitation.
Autumn sunk to her knees and sobbed. How helpless she felt, how it pained
her to see them all lying there, miserable and suffering, on the brink
of death, and there was nothing she could do for them.
No, wait. There was something she could do. She must go see her sister.
The sister who despised Autumn’s betrothal to the Mira king, Andy;
the sister who loathed Autumn’s own Mira lineage. The sister whose
mother, also Autumn’s stepmother, was a Scintillate who taught
her Scintillate daughter to view the Mira as inferior and to hate them.
Though Autumn loathed the thought, there must be some way she could
change her sister’s cruel heart; there must be some way she could
spare the Mira’s lives...
by Andrew Stockton
I first felt uneasy about the whole thing when I drove
through the gates and along the drive toward the distant building. The
gently undulating fields on either side of the driveway wore a white
early morning mist that swirled and rose, reminiscent of many hackneyed
post-war horror films. Images of Vincent Price or Peter Cushing appearing
as a black silhouette in the distance flashed through my mind. Yet it
was something more than this that provoked this feeling of foreboding.
No, not foreboding. That would be too strong. Disquiet.
Of course, I put it down to the fact that I had been driving all night:
over-tiredness and perhaps an over active imagination. I had driven
up from London, after all, with only a couple of brief stops and while
I was used to driving long distances, this was a long journey even for
me. I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself have I? Anthony
Kerslake, born in Surrey, travelled a bit, did a bit of book dealing
as a hobby which slowly turned into a living after setting up a second
hand bookshop in Oxford, single, forty odd, and here to - well, originally
invited to meet an old acquaintance again and check out buying some
old books, but now not really sure of whether I want to be here or not.
The old house disappeared as I drove down a small incline into a corridor
of trees and through a carpeting layer of even thicker mist, which gave
an eerie impression of unreal trees growing above a cloud of shimmering
white. At the bottom of the incline thick branches intertwined overhead,
gnarled hands grasping each other over the roadway, supporting each
other as if holding up the insubstantial caricatures of decaying life.
I was startled to find I had slowed right down, almost to a crawl as
I stared ahead at some sort of grotesque death masque: the thicker branches
of some of the trees had intertwined overhead and were reaching down
in such a way as to produce the shape of a hanged corpse, arms reaching
to the throat as if in some vain attempt at release, head lolling to
one side and legs and body jerked together in a hideous danse macabre.
by Trisha Wolfe
I gripped the letter in my hands not wanting to let
it go. All I had to do was place it under the rock and walk away. But
the task was more daunting than just releasing the small envelope, it
was releasing him.
Lucas, I thought. How had things become this complicated? After tonight
it would all be over, and I could go back to my world, and he had to
return to his.
I sensed him in the forest. Even over the cascading fall I heard his
footsteps coming closer. I tucked the letter under the rock and spread
my wings hurriedly gliding to the top of a tree where I hid.
He stopped only a few feet away from the rock and began looking around
like he was some kind of secret agent on a mission. I held my hands
over my mouth trying to keep a giggle from escaping. Everything he did
brought a smile to my face.
Satisfied that there was no one around he lifted the rock and found
my note. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach as I watched his
face light up and he tore into the envelope. For him he was getting
the best news, I would meet him here tonight like he had requested.
Of course I would, I met him every night. For me however, I knew this
would be our last encounter together.
The Shadows Inside
by Peter Simon
George Carter was still tapping away, staring at his
computer screen as the darkness grew around him. The rows of figures
and names were blurring into fuzzy streaks before his tired eyes.
“Why bother with names and addresses?” he hissed to himself.
“All you need is a national insurance number! Would make processing
these people a heck of a lot easier.”
“Bye, George,” said Lesley, one of the late shift workers,
as she disappeared through the door. George just grunted ungraciously.
Like so many people, Lesley found the sharp new office oppressive. She
always seemed relieved to get out of there. George didn’t understand
what panicked people about the place.
Mrs Baylis he read on the screen. Idiot! She’d given him a hard
time on the phone earlier. Objected to being a mere number! OK, he would
send her a curt tax reminder in the post.
Satisfied with that little act of retribution, George wiped his eyes
with a grey pinstriped sleeve.
Lain in the Ground
by Anna Sykora
Beneath this cross,
Beneath its mound
Lies what has long
Lain in the ground:
The Feathered Winds
by Maria Mitchell
I don't think much about apples, but when I do, I always
think of unicorns. I think of how wonderful it would be to rest with
such a gentle, white creature under the apple tree out in my yard. I
gaze out the window and I can see myself sitting under the tree laced
with burgeoning blooms. There are no apples yet. The unicorn at my side
neighs weakly. While still healthy and muscular at the moment, he won't
be for long because he's getting hungry. His hibernation through a long
and arduous winter has left him lean and weak. I cannot help him. I
can't speed up the fragile blossoms over our heads to ripen into juicy,
nurturing fruit. He must continue to go hungry for at least another
month. It's been a sluggish spring and it promises to be a bitterly
short summer. It is not hopeful. It's sad that even in a fantasy; all
must be rife with hungry uncertainty gnawing at bony ribs.
by Clarise Samuels
As the well-dressed gentleman strolled down the city streets of Manhattan
among blaring horns and yellow cabbies, he did not look a day over thirty-five,
and a rather youthful thirty-five at that. Like most vampires, he was
exceedingly handsome, with a lush head of thick, dark hair, and the
most soulful brown eyes any woman had ever seen. The texture of his
skin had an eternal youthfulness, and his condition caused his skin
to faintly glow with an ethereal quality and a pallor resulting from
his advanced years. Indeed, he was 250 years old.
His name was Frederick, and modern Manhattan was now his home. Being
physically beautiful was, like being a vampire, both a blessing and
a curse. Frederick could have any woman he desired, and they all flocked
to him like disciples with offerings to place on the alter of his love.
Frederick ignored them, avoided them, sniffed imperviously, and treated
them with contempt. Had they known the truth, they would have been grateful
for his disdain.
He had started out as an ordinary human in Vienna, Austria, having been
born in the year 1756, the same year as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart
was his best friend starting from boyhood. Frederick’s chosen
profession was originally that of composer and violinist, and Mozart,
the renowned child prodigy of Frederick’s day, had taken Frederick
on as his very first student.
The Vampire And The Witch
by Sally Startup
Deep in the winter, vampires had gathered in the old
hall. Damp soot and ancient candle grease blackened the walls. In the
long fireplace, a great fire spat blue and orange sparks.
Sluggish elder vampires sat replete and silent. Plump-bosomed female
vampires frolicked on animal-skin rugs, caressing each other with playful
licks. They were watched by lean, poetic male vampires in blousy shirts,
who lounged on couches with wine-red cushions. Thin-lipped mistresses
in tight-waisted satin gowns glowered hungrily from behind the crumbling
gilt chairs of their vampire masters. The newly-formed were lusty, and
bounded about, like puppies.
“Be still!” cried out one silver-haired vampire, who wore
an elegant suit of deepest midnight blue. “Shall I calm you with
a story, before we retire to earth?”
“Yes, tell us a story!” the lusty ones cried.
“Tell us a human story.”
The Angel in a Box
by Emma Kathryn
There, in the corner of that horrible little square room, she sat, slowly
banging her blonde head against the solitary sheet of heavy-duty Perspex
that they had been watching her through. She was curled up tightly;
arms wrapped around her knees, pulling them in even closer against her
chest. A pair of great wings remained folded against her back. She thumped
her head against the hard plastic, like a pulse. Thud, thud, thud.
The Butterfly on a Wheel – Part Three
by Andrew M. Boylan
The fifth Canto: Envy
“You okay, sweet heart?”
The voice belonged to her father. Christ, he must know something has
happened, I thought, the aroma of sex was overpowering, even in the
closet. But no, he wouldn’t be able to smell it, his human senses
“I’m fine.” Josephine’s voice sounded drowsy,
as though she had just woken up.
“It’s just that you left the lights on downstairs…”
“No problem, you sleep tight.”
I heard him enter the room, the sound of his lips lightly brushing her
forehead, the door closing as he left.
I opened the closet.
“We must keep quiet,” Josephine’s voice was barely
a whisper, “Come into bed and hold me.”
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