Reality Check

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By D.A. Donaldson

A snicker emanates from across the room, soft and malevolent. That’s Mark, one of our regulars. I don’t know his diagnosis, but his illness is more subdued than most of the others. A small crowd shuffles in just before Noon; twentysomethings living at the encampment in the woods along the river, about two miles down the road. A fight breaks out. Jessica’s pock-marked boyfriend looks desperate as they troll Facebook, wanting to score some tar from their dealer.

“Get a job at the library,” they said. “You get to read books all day!”

They have no idea.

        
D.A. Donaldson maintains a short-fiction blog whilst clerking at the local public library.

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Brachylogy*

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By Carolyn Martin

A rose is.
Nothing else need apply.

We never cease.
Eternity lasts a long time.

Confirm: some things
are better left.

Wildness wants out
but laws hold it in.

Once hope dies,
illusions disappear.

Ignore unpredictables.
Love to do what’s now.

After great pain,
small cuts hurt most.

Love is many-splendored
until it isn’t.

My God, what waste!
Space needs filling up.

* Conciseness of expression

        
Carolyn Martin’s fourth poetry collection, A Penchant for Masquerades, is scheduled for a 2019 release from Unsolicited Press. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly.

Entry Exam

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By Brenda Anderson

To be accepted as Master Magicians, we have to create a boiled egg from trees, in an hour. No tricks. We agree on a plan and taxi to the magic part of town. The Bottomless Pity sells us a basilisk and camouflage wood, stuff that grows like skin around any object. Thirty minutes.

For yolk, we boil tree roots, cool and pour into a balloon. The basilisk turns a dollop to stone. We add it, carefully. Fifteen minutes.

The camouflage wood layers itself round our stone-centered liquid. We wait.

Soon, magical chicks hatch. Everyone bows low before us. Win win!

        
Brenda Anderson’s fiction has previously appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online.

Good Idea

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By Paul Bluestein

For weeks, I’ve waited for him to pay attention to me, but my patience is wearing thin. I’m tired of being ignored day after day. I try enticing him, but nothing I do seems to work. If things don’t change soon, I’m leaving, and when I’m gone, I won’t be coming back! He’ll be sorry when he finds out it’s not every day that a good idea for a story comes along, but by then it’ll be too late. I think I’ll enjoy watching him try to find some hot plot line that will put up with his writer’s block.

The Day My Plumbing Was Repaired—

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By ajwal328

—a subway strike. Everyone wheeling to the City, and damn early: work, matinees, Christmas blooming. Ken arrived 4 a.m. in his old Elantra, acquired from Korean Rex: bad brakes, bald tires, balky wipers, freezing rain and perched on the edge of despair and divorce. I’d die at his—Hands on the wheel! Asshole—not etherized upon a table. Close, he hit the brakes, slowed to fifteen. I stumbled into a puddle, rediscovering living’s unbearable when your feet’re wet. Happy now for a dry gown, ass exposed; happy for a warm, welcome blanket; happy for dry paper booties. Happy even here.

       
Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual and teaches at Manhattanville College. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is in its second printing.

Laughter

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By Belinda Brady

All I’d hear was laughter. Laughter as I crossed the playground, laughter when I tried to join in and make friends, laughter as I walked away rejected. I wasn’t invited to the sleepover, but I heard them talking about it in class, the laughter as I looked their way ever present.

Arriving uninvited, they laugh as they tell me to leave, the laughter quickly turning to screams as I change in front of them, muscles tearing through my skin, sharp fangs dripping.

In a matter of seconds, the only laughter I can hear is my own.

One Hit Wonder

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By Serena Jayne

Sebastian rubbed the shiny lamp.
Genie appeared. “Last wish.”
“Immortality,” Sebastian said. “’Sunshine Serenade’ went platinum in ’65, but the dawn of disco doomed my song to obscurity. Success doesn’t last forever, but I can.”
“Granted,” Genie dissipated into blue mist.
Sebastian’s mouth ached. “How very underwhelming.” Newly pointed teeth sliced his tongue.
His late night snack of garlic-heavy pasta burned his belly. He craved blood.
The sunrise lit up his panoramic million-dollar view. On cue, ‘Sunshine Serenade’ played in surround sound.
He yelped, skin smoking. Darted away from the sunlight.
Lack of specificity would be the death of him.