Patterns

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By Scarlett Sauvage

The patterns on her skin disturb him. They might be scars. They might be moles. But he thinks he sees numbers. Sixes. Three of them.

She knows he sees them. She wants him to see them. She wants to plant a seed in his mind. Just the smallest suggestion.

She doesn’t want to scare him. Not yet. It’s too soon. He’s not ready. She’ll reveal herself slowly; shed her skin, one layer at a time.

Cornelius and the Machine

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By Ryan Stone

Click. Cornelius lay in bed. Clack. Unable to sleep. Click.

The infernal clickclack came from the billboard outside his window; neon winking on and off until midnight. After a month of broken sleep, Cornelius raised a petition. His movement gained momentum – Power to the People! A nationwide boycott sent the company broke.

The billboard came down. Cornelius slept well for the first time in weeks.

The following month, a new billboard went up. With its competitor gone, a rival company expanded its empire. Their profits paid for a billboard twice as large; one that never switched off.

ClickityClackity. ClickityClackity. Clickity.

The Small Sheep

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By Jane Berg

There was once a sheep so small it defied the laws of nature. People traveled from far and wide to say, “that is a small sheep.”

The creature was well treated yet for some reason it ailed and died.

The farmer didn’t know what to do. People would not pay to see a small, dead sheep, and he did not want to eat it.

They tried to donate the body to science, but science had other interests, and so it went into a crudely marked grave which was assumed by later generations to belong to a family ancestor.

Planet Nitrous Oxide

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By Michael Rivers

Reclining in the sterile chair
far from planet Earth
somewhere near planet nitrous oxide,
curved drills
burrow into my molar.

Pain echoes
in my tongue’s living half,
dying memories
screaming across time;
one last brilliant gasp for life.

In these death throes,
as the Endodontist
mines my jaw,
the assistant sings along
to Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl.”
“I always thought they were black …
Not saying white people don’t have soul.”

Excavating my tooth,
obliterating its nerves,
the Endodontist replies,
“No, I know what you mean.”

I am a million miles away in space and humming along with the tune.

Hunting Grounds

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By John Davis Frain

I was six when he ordered my “racially undesirable” family killed. Mother. Father. Emil. Sonia.

He put me to work. Said I was quick. The gall to compliment.

I’m a law-abiding citizen. Seven decades I’ve hunted. Vowed justice as he scurried around the globe. Tonight, we share the same hotel in Bucharest. It’s difficult remembering his face. He carries a new name. But that voice.

Herr Kaiser.

My plan is fuzzy. Add coolant to his drink? Inject him with ricin? My time on Earth is too short.

Acquiring the Glock was easy. I’d imagined pulling the trigger would’ve been harder.

Label

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By Connor Greenaway

The frayed afterglow of neon lights permeated through cheap drapes, diffusing colourful ambience into the gloomy motel room.

“What are you doing”? Karen asked, the red bead of her lit cigarette steady between her fingers.

“You know why I’m here,” Dan said, face fixed in a whiskey-leer that had become all too familiar.

She eyed him with a steely expression, not allowing her contempt overwhelm the situation. “I think I do,” she said. “You should leave.”

Dan’s face twisted. “Tease!” he spat viciously, and with the smile of a person whose careless enemy has undone themselves, Karen slammed the door.

The Professor

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By Susanne Swanson

“Do you know how many times you’ve said ‘okay’ in the last minute?” she blurted out.

(Twenty times by my reckoning. She was not the only one counting.) He stopped. Public speaking was not his forte, though economics may have been.

“Twenty-three times!” she announced.

“Sorry,’ he said. “Didn’t know I was doing it.”

The rest of us knew and thanked her. We were on edge waiting for the ‘okay’ and winced when it came. No sentence was immune.

“I’ll work on it, okay?” he promised. “But when it’s quiet you’ll know what I’m thinking, okay?”

Okaaaay! we shouted.