By James Formosa
I pinched the cigarette filter between my fingers and held the burning embers inward. They taught me to do that for two reasons. First: the tiny flame heats up your palm a little. Second: the enemy can’t see the light from the trenches.
We’d been digging now for three days. Three days of shovels and pickaxes denting and cracking into frozen clay. The trenches filled up with ground water as fast as we dug them.
The glowing cherry in my hand dies, and the last bit of warmth leaves me with it.
In this new darkness, rain began to fall.
By Sandra Arnold
It’s time to face the truth. Your story is abysmal. It’s trite. Overblown. It’s full of mixed metaphors and sloppy syntax. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot’s missing. There’s no beginning. No middle. No proper ending. Who on earth would publish it? It will never win awards. Bookshops won’t stock it. The critics will crucify you. They will say it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. Take our advice and burn it. Think of the pain you’ll be spared. No need to thank us. This is the whole point of our Writers’ Support Group. Who’s next?
Sandra Arnold is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her third novel, Ash, will be published by Mākaro Press (NZ) in 2019.
By Alfredo Macapanas Jr.
One day, an old scientist announced his break through to his wife.
“My loving wife, I’ve found the secret of immortality.” He showed her the vial filled with liquid.
“The potion of anti-aging,” he said. “It’s like the fountain of youth. We’ll be young forever.”
“I prefer my current state,” said his wife.
“Don’t you want to live forever?”
“We’re not meant to live forever, you know that.”
“Then I’ll drink this alone.”
“Let’s take first our supper.”
The scientist agreed. His wife dropped something on their food. The scientist never got to drink the potion.
By Chip Houser
A year after the explosion, the shell fragments pushing through Hobson’s skin are slow torture. At least they distract him from thinking about his future. He’ll take the itching, the future terrifies him. He can’t see, he can’t hear, and he can’t feel his body. But sometimes his mind fills with a warmth like sunlight and the itching stops. When that happens, Hobson screams at his fear. Screaming distracts him, just like itching. He screams because a year after the explosion is just his best guess. He has no idea how long it’s been, or how long it will be.
Chip Houser’s fiction has appeared in Every Day Fiction, Rosebud Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and elsewhere.
By Paula Jay
In my dream
I had you pinned,
Sitting on you, pummeling your face
With my balled up fist.
Your ‘loved ones’ stood behind me
Saying, “Stop” and “Don’t do that” and “Oh, no,”
Lacking any conviction in their muttered words
While you uttered tiny hisses
But never resisted my sharp knuckles,
You knew you deserved it.
In my dream
It felt so good.
By S. M. Saves
Within these walls
reside broken gods
cast from their pedestals
left to ruin
all who practice
within their dreamscape.
Awash in Viking’s blood
candy painted foxes
frolic upon waves of peacock feathers
who fall from the starless sky.
How far you float
depends on the tea you drink
from ritual writing
to cultivating the ingredients.
Blink and become the sacrifice
to the bewilderment
of all chemical-based things
that crumble into atoms
at the base of rusted pedestals
to the broken gods.
By Kevin Berg
Of course we played. Craved the euphoria, hated answering all the questions afterward.
Learned a lot in sixth grade: snow skitching, shoplifting, french kissing, Nintendo and Apple IIe. And the cheapest high.
She’s bent at the waist, own palms pressed into her throat, forced hyperventilation heats the air around us. A dizzy stumble as she jerks upright, my hand on her back and one pressed into her chest like a preacher, a half smile before she’s unconscious and over the railing.
So I ran.
When the police questioned me about her death, it wasn’t just a game.
It was manslaughter.
Kevin Berg’s dark fiction can be found at Pulp Metal Magazine, Near to the Knuckle, The Blood Red Experiment, Horror Sleaze Trash, Trembling With Fear, and Underbelly Magazine, among others.