Honest Job Ad

By Karen Southall Watts

Help wanted. Needed: someone with advanced degree who will take the same wages they earned flipping burgers in college. Also helpful: a lifetime of experience, but please be young and attractive. Bubbly and outgoing in the interview, but be willing to join a team of defeated people who hate this place. A master of empathy and soft skills to help us deal with customers, but don’t expect us to treat you like a human with value. Unwavering company loyalty a plus. Please upload your resume and then retype all the same information into our system. We might contact you.

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“I keep writing as a tonic to modern life.” – the writer

Give a Man a Chicken

By Lisa H. Owens

There’s a saying that goes something like this: Give a man an egg, and he’ll eat breakfast. Give a man a hen, and he’ll build a chicken-coop, nurture his hen’s hatchlings—fending off predators with his new shotgun. Incubate the baby chicks with heat lamps, ensuring they have high-end feed and spring-water. Repair the coop, keep the run spotless—naming the hens as they mature—the roosters becoming roasted Sunday Suppers. He’ll jump for joy once the hens start laying—rising early to gingerly collect the eggs. By then, he’ll be broke, exhausted—sick of eggs—choosing cereal for breakfast.

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“I write to fill in the gaps.” – the writer

Turning a Deaf Ear

By Peggy Gerber

His hearing faded like an old photograph, so slowly and imperceptibly he didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Little by little he began isolating, spending less time with family and friends, in complete denial of his affliction. When his children began begging him to get his hearing checked, he would shout, “Stop treating me like an old man. My hearing is just fine.”

Eventually, his family staged an intervention and he reluctantly went to his doctor to be fitted with hearing aids.

Next holiday dinner his grandchildren cheered, “Hooray, Grandpa’s back.”

Grandpa laughed, “Kids, please keep the volume down.”

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“I write for relaxation. It is the best therapy in the world.” – the writer

But Not a Good Fit

By Roberta Beary

Judy spent her days doing two things: arguing with the butcher over the best scraps of meat for Jim and writing her novel. At night she’d read Jim her latest chapter, sentence by sentence. He was her best critic. One bark = delete. Two barks = needs work. Three barks = great writing. With Jim’s critical insights, Judy had 300 pages. Till she hit her one bark slump. Judy couldn’t stand that. Jim, now listen good. I’m reading you the whole damn thing. 36 hours later, Judy had three pages of great writing. Finally, The New Yorker emailed Judy. Her story was exceptional.

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Roberta Beary identifies as gender-fluid. A survivor of trauma, they write for the silenced.

Amicable

By Phil Temples

The two Siamese twins lived amicably together until they learned the doctors could separate them. They quarreled about it; the sister stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife. She later died.

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“I write because I need more satisfaction in my life beyond what I get with the care and feeding of machines. (I’m a computer systems administrator.)” – the writer

The Very Short Poem

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By John L. Malone

I’ve got a poem for you, a very short one, he promised with a garrulous grin, and then, in a long-winded introduction in which all the masters of brevity were cited from Basho to Lydia Davis, he proceeded to demolish all notions of shortness. The poem took ten seconds, the intro five minutes.

         
John Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry.

The Sweet Crocodile

By Doug Jacquier

That skinny German tourist’s leg didn’t really agree with me yesterday. Mostly gristle and I’ve still got lederhosen stuck in my teeth. Parked the rest of him under a log for a few days to mature.

Still feeling a pit peckish. Saw a mother duck and brood floating past. I thought ‘Yum, baby ducks’. Ate my lunch and had a nap in the sun on the river bank. Later, mother duck came back searching for her ducklings. She looked so distressed I put her out of her misery.

Sentimental, I know, but that’s just the sweet guy I am.

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“I see my writing as sea shells which, when placed against the ear, whisper cryptic messages from an Other Place, just in case other people are in an Other Place, too.” – the writer

Darkness

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By G. Allen Wilbanks

“Why are you afraid of the dark? Darkness is the natural state of everything. It’s the light that’s unnatural. When God said, ‘Let there be light,’ he was imposing an artificial reality on a universe that had previously only know known total darkness and emptiness, and every force in nature is currently trying to drive us back to that original point of neutrality. Everything around us is temporary, and at some point in the future we will all return to that initial state of nothingness. It’s inevitable.”

“Maybe,” his wife admitted. “But, I still want you to replace the lightbulb.”

           
G. Allen Wilbanks is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and has published over 60 short stories in Deep Magic, Daily Science Fiction, The Talisman, and other venues. He has published two story collections, and the novel, When Darkness Comes.

Heads Up

By Lee Hammerschmidt

The executioner put me down on the chopping block, just short of where my neck was supposed to be. Another head still occupied the front.

“Listen,” he whispered. “You’re being spared. But the King is not to know. He’s super pissed about your dalliance with Queen Valerian. But she wants to continue your relationship. When I bring my axe down, the other head will fall into the basket. You will be whisked away and taken to her country hideaway.”

“Why are you doing this?” I asked.

“I am the Queen’s illegitimate son. My Momma told me I better chop around.”

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“(Writing is) my gift to the world.” – the writer