By J.T. Morse
I knew what he’d become. But I didn’t care. To me, he was still Nick deep down. My Nick.
Crossing the trench into the Z-zone was tough. But I did it. For him anyway.
Fighting off the ravenous creatures, for days, sucked. But I had to reach him. To find my soulmate.
Seeing his rotting flesh and the carcass he’d become broke my heart. But I’d come this far. I couldn’t back out now.
Letting him sink his jagged teeth into my arm took guts that I didn’t know I possessed. But for him, my Nick, I did it anyway.
J.T. Morse writes to “explore the mysterious and empathetic connection to fellow humans.”
By Leigh Ward-Smith
None of us could stop Grandpa as he sprinted into the river.
How he saw that kid silently slipping beneath, I don’t know. I also wasn’t sure whether to believe his ranting about tentacles when he first hefted the child onto the riprap.
Still, Grandpa insisted on continuing the reunion picnic after the ambulance left.
But my curiosity wouldn’t let go. Later I raided his medicine cabinet and found the bottle labeled Fame Labs. In boldface, it read: Caution: active gut microbiota. Bacteroides fragilis, subspecies Ernesti Borgniniana.
For awhile after Grandpa’s new-found bravery, I pretended I’d never seen the pills.
By Goathead Buckley
She split down at the bottom of her flesh.
Strings of ichor hung for a moment in the air before snapping. An egg the size of a bowling ball shuttered beneath, steaming in the grass in which it lay. I had thrown my pack down and run to the creek for water. Lit a fire to boil it, but too late. She died as I knew she would.
The question: To let the abomination break free on its own or to forgive it its first moment of weakness?
Or to bring down the boot before things got out of hand?
By Emma Brown
He’d had a very busy day but had finally finished making the signs which proclaimed, “Trespassers WILL be Eaten.” He’d just made himself a nice cup of tea, and was settling down for a well-deserved snooze, when a tremendous noise shook the den; it felt like the roof was about to cave in.
“Those pesky beggars are back, making my life a misery,” he muttered as he heaved himself up. “Can’t they flippin’ read?” He lumbered towards the light, brushing dust off and clearing his throat as he went.
“Who’s that trip trapping on my bridge?” demanded the troll.
A mermaid had moved into the town. He’d met her on the beach and knew she was a mermaid because she’d told him so. She had no legs because at birth she’d left her tail in the sea. Long matted locks of hair dyed lilac purple, tiny shells tied into them.
A legend said that Melusine’s husband could not see her on a certain day, when her otherworldly tail grew back. Saturdays he would disappear, and she would clamber into her adapted bathtub and stay there ten hours, glittering, as the house breathed in the scent of salt and samphire.
By Susan Jordan
You can’t run away. Nobody can go out of doors or pull curtains back from shut windows. Walls block all roads, guards turn lay-bys into instant prisons.
What can you do, shut in your tiny caravan? Wait for night, for moon-shadow, for fading day. Don’t wait too long. Soon you must think of crawling out into light, facing what you most shrink from: rats scuttling, arachnid limbs, sounds of pain from dark yards. Or do you flinch away from iron-shod kicks, a stinging lash?
Go now. Night falls, its black prongs gashing ground. Go out. Push through that last boundary.
By Srijani Ganguly
“We’ve been roaming around in circles for the past one hour, Laeri. It’s best if you ask someone for directions.”
“There is no one to ask, Sounet. The whole way is deserted.”
“No, it’s not. Look to your right; there’s someone fixing their vehicle.”
“Fine. I’ll ask that person.”
Laeri rolls down the window.
“Excuse me, but would you know where the Galactic Group Getaway is happening?”
“I don’t think he can understand us, Laeri. He seems pretty spaced out.”
Laeri drives away, leaving the astronaut in a state of shock.
By Prospero Dae
He always considered himself lucky. So he coasted easily through life. He’d lose a job but soon after tumble onto another. One morning Felicity, in the ecstatic thrall of a messy nosebleed, spoke to him erratically: “Boniface, I’m sick of your moth-eaten coat. Take it and leave this bug-infested flat or I’ll trample all over you.”
Boniface took the hint and left. He soon fell on hard times. Years passed and the destitution grew. Now he was sixty and gaunt.
Then, looking for bread crumbs, he found a penny. He was still lucky. But he had wasted his life.
She sat staring at the screen. She had it all planned out, down to the ending. But now the characters had lives of their own, and they wanted to be heard. Her perfect storyline lay trampled.
“What’s wrong?” he asked from the door.
“My characters are rebelling.”
“Only you,” he sniggered. “Would have a character mutiny in your hands. What happened?”
“She fell in love with someone else.”
“Ugh, not the love triangle again!”
“It’s not! I just hope listening to her isn’t a mistake.”
“It won’t be. She will have her happy ending, you will make sure of it.”
By Prospero Dae
She insisted he never take her picture, and he acquiesced to her demand, even though he was a photographer by trade. She said it disrupted the fire she cradled within. “Wouldn’t you think it arrogant to take a picture of a ghost?” she would say, and he understood completely and no more words were spoken on the subject.
And even though she had now been dead for three interminably long years, she shadowed him passionately, and if he ever felt tempted to photograph his ardent angel, she would speak in a stillborn susurrus saying it disrupted her fragile fire within.