How the Scorpion Lost His Tail: A Fable by Megan Branning – A messenger encountered a scorpion on the road, while traveling one day to the capital. Having been warned not to trust these creatures, he attempted to walk by without meeting its eyes.
Red Touches Yellow by L.L. Madrid – Though lifeless, the onyx eye of the mourning dove reflects dawn’s sunburst. My sister Vera discovered the bird, and she wants to know what I think of it. We sip from mugs of instant Folgers and regard the dove.
The Dictation of Byron Dwyer by Daniel Isherwood – It was a black night in July, with a howling summer wind that roared a promise to keep sleep at bay. I laid awake in my bunk at the halfway house, cursing myself and the rotten luck that ruined me.
Canceling the Fireworks by Nathan Susnik – Nikki sniffled. Nikki snuffled. Her eyes watered and her head ached. A little French feather-duster maid had invaded her nasal cavity and now stood, stiletto heeled, on her sinuses: “Je suis allergies. Je suis comique.”
Bye, Odessy by Alex Olson – My best friend is Camaro. He lives on the fourth floor, parked near the bathroom. Camaro is pretty cool; he’s big and green, with a black stripe down his hood.
Jackpot Time by Amy Sisson – Cass stepped through the front door of the Lovelock Grand View Cafe, setting the bell jingling. She stopped just inside and rummaged through her purse, finally coming up with a crumpled dollar bill.
Illicit Alchemy by Eric Lewis – “Unfortunately, we’re unable to offer you a position at this time…” Emony stopped paying attention after that; she’d heard it a hundred times before. But the alchemist’s mouth just kept moving so she reached out, grabbed the glass retort off his desk and smashed it into his fat face.
Technical Thank You by Charlie Allison – Humboldt could tell the commander was displeased with his human passengers. It showed in every twitch of his arms, the flashing white and orange across his mantle. He clicked his beak in irritation around his synthesis tube, a few droplets of venom pooling around the edges.
The Hope and the Why by Elizabeth Cady – In high school, my senior history prof used to say that we don’t get good history written of a period until the grandchildren are dead. The idea is that good analysis requires distance that we simply can’t get while we retain emotional ties to the agents in an event.
Peppercorns & Prunes by John C. Mannone – Imagine the soft sweet flesh of plums/ air dried and concentrated to thick dark/ ambrosia, studded with peppercorns, but/ be not deceived
The Extraction by Caleb March – On velvet cloth, pale Child sank deep/ In cushioned seat of oak that creaked./ Mother sat stiff, Child unsightly,/ Grave in the waiting room, until finally:/ “Next,” came the nurse; small Child did weep.
Stumble Tumble Down This Animal Hole by Laura Madeline Wiseman and Andrea Blythe – My dress flip-flops over my head. Papa says, You’re naughty. I eat and drink, still/ hungry, unsatisfied by words on the page or pocket watches of time.
Courtesan by Deborah L. Davitt – Synthetic hair drifts over her pillow;/ pleated silk drapes softly over plastic flesh—/ glass eyes shine, following his every move,/ as the customer approaches her bed.
Russalka by Deborah L. Davitt – Rising up from the water where I drowned,/ remembering how my lungs burned as/ fluids forced themselves in,/ stole my breath—/ so unfair that cold should burn—
The Chicken Bone Woman by Alexandra Seidel – I have seen Baba Yaga crack the heads of/ chickens open;/ they were ghost chickens, never-really-had-a-life chickens./ Her fingers, gnarled as thirsty roots,/ made the skulls crumble/ like Morpheus’s dreams upon lightfall.
367943 Duende by Stuart Greenhouse – In 2013 over/ Chelyabinsk/ bright enough the whole world saw/ repeatedly on Youtube/ a shooting star bloomed/ boomed
Shadowfolk by John Philip Johnson – There was a castle and creatures inside/ who thought of themselves as human./ During the day, they pretended/ they had bodies, and at night they gasped/ for light in the flickering torches.