Tag Archives: fantasy

Self Service

by Paul A. Hamilton

Before pregnancy became extinct and babies stopped being born, the greasing of death’s once firm grip caused a lot of worry about the potential of the revived. Would they turn vicious? Could they be restored to a responsive state? How much humanity do we ascribe to an animated cadaver?

I stayed apart from it all. I had my farm, my family. Cora was marrying age, but once it became clear there wouldn’t be any grandchildren forthcoming, Ma stopped needling her. When the corpses wandered through, stinking, twitching, chattering, Bub and I ushered them off our land, gently, respectfully. Then we went back to work. Outside, the world clashed and gnashed its collective teeth. I had less use for it than ever.

Cora got sick first. I drove her into the city, threading my way past thickening crowds of the dead. She wheezed from the passenger seat of my pickup; pressed her fingers against the side window as if she were reaching for those grim mannequins.

“When did there get to be so many of them?”

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Sidewalk Sorcery

by Rebecca Buchanan

“Stop it, TJ, you’re doin’ it wrong!”

“Shut up, Alex, I am not.” Chalk staining his fingers, TJ drew a double inverted arrow, piercing the center of the circle.

“Are, too!” Alex crouched beside his brother, careful not to smudge the lines. “That’s not the way Mom showed us—”

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The Old Man on the Green

by Philip Brian Hall

If it is true that the Devil makes work for idle hands, then the Devil never met Old Joe. For as long as anyone could remember, Old Joe had been well past working age; indeed no-one in Micklethwaite could really recall his former trade.

Mavis Claythorpe, who knew everyone’s business and could not bear to admit to ignorance of anything, claimed her grandfather had worked with Joe as a thatcher, but Janet Armstrong, the blacksmith’s widow, who had comfortably exceeded her biblical span, was prepared to swear Old Joe had already been ‘Old Joe’ when she was a little girl. To the best of her recollection, the fallen tree beside the duck pond on the green, into which a seat had been roughly hewn by the removal of a quarter-round section, had always been the vantage point for the graybeard’s observation of the slow rhythms of village life.

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New Growth

by Tara Campbell

Misty watched Joe pace the living room.  Things had been going missing—car keys, loose change, magazines, and now his cigarettes.

“That’s the second pack this week,” he growled, lifting a stack of papers off the coffee table.

“Sorry, Joe,” she said from the couch.

“How does this keep happening?”  He stomped into the kitchen and Misty heard drawers opening and banging shut.  The edge in his voice told her to stay on the couch, out of his way.

He stalked back out of the kitchen and stood in the living room, fists on hips.  Misty watched him take a deep breath in and out as he scanned shelves and windowsills.  She supposed he was counting to ten.  “Guess I need to get another pack,” he grumbled.

She had to get him out of this mood.  “Maybe Chelsea’s swiping them,” she said, reaching over to pet the small, rust-colored tabby curled up next to her.  “Maybe kitty doesn’t like smoking in the house.”  Chelsea purred and rolled over to expose her soft white belly.  Misty looked up at Joe with a tentative smile.

“The cat, eh?”  His face was unreadable.  Behind her smile, Misty clenched her teeth as he sat down next to her on the couch.

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His Father’s Eyes

by Scott Hughey

I wrote my first prophecy when I was seven. I filled a diary with short statements like, “Sister leaves forever at Christmas,” and “The robot sets the house on fire.”

At the time, everyone else thought the writings just fanciful imagination. I knew they were more. They resonated in my young mind like an aluminum bat does when it strikes a knee. Wasn’t until years later, after the gift left me, the prophecies started coming true. That Christmas, my robot butler malfunctioned and melted down. My sister visited us that year. She didn’t make it out.

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Not a Spade

by T. Gene Davis

Gusting face-freezing wind displaced Sister Wendy Riley’s bonnet, pushing it nearly off her dirty brown hair. No matter how many steps Wendy made toward Zion in the Great Salt Lake Valley, the wind seemed determine to blow her back to Liverpool. The annoying and ill timed gust that finally dislodged her bonnet came as she pulled her handcart up a rise. Releasing one hand from the crossbar to fix the errant bonnet meant losing the cart and her few belongings to the hill. With hair whipping her face, she prayed the tie string kept the bonnet around her neck until she reached flat ground ahead.

Wendy stood to one side while pulling the handcart, as though her husband still might join her on his side of the cart. She turned down offers, even from the Wilson boys, to help her pull the handcart. She did not want anyone in his spot. It was silly, but a week was still too soon.

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Ability

by Tegan Day

“Stop it.”

“Why?”

“Because you can’t set fire to water.”

“No, you can’t set fire to water.”

“Why would I want to set fire to water?”

“You wouldn’t, ’cause then I’d be right.”

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To: Grove Lake HOA

by Rebecca Buchanan

To: Grove Lake HOA

From: Katie Kennedy, Secretary

Re: Holiday Preparations

 

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Just Up the Beach

by Cory Cone

Donnie’s window muffled the clank of swords and the pop of rifles as if they were being played from an old radio. He hopped from his bed, walked over his array of toy soldiers on the floor, and watched the bright display along the shore.

When he woke the next morning his neck ached from sleeping with his head on the sill. The beach was calm and quiet in the dawning light.

“Just a dream, Donnie,” his dad said at breakfast, when Donnie told him of the battle on the beach. “This summer home is old and creaky. You’re just not used to it yet.”

“Eat up,” said his mom, pushing a plate of pancakes in front of his doubtful face.

When his parents settled into their Adirondack chairs on the porch with their coffee and their books, Donnie went down to the beach. An unusual rusty odor haunted the salty air as he walked along the edge of the water, letting the waves wash over his feet.

Something brushed against his ankle. Bending over, he plucked a small bullet casing from the water and rolled it his fingers, then he walked toward the fort.

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All Heaven in a Rage

by Elinor Caiman Sands

She’s evil, the witch next door, she and her feline fiends. She with her hooked beak, they with their killing claws and dagger teeth that take my darling pretty birds.

I grab my broom. I throw the back door wide as her cats come creeping and leaping down into my garden. Black cats with marble eyes, brown streaky ones, milk ones with sulfurous spots.

My robin lovebirds dance on the seed table, pecking together in the morning mist. My blessed ravens squabble below in the weeds over scraps. I keep one eye on the weathervane, perched high on my leaky roof. The wind comes from the east north east, it’s safe and true; one degree westwards and it’ll blow me a deadly note. But I shan’t be caught out; I won’t be distracted whilst tending my herb garden to perish the way my wicked-hearted mother went, felled by the cursed changing of the wind. No true witch can endure the faerie wind which blows from the west with all its pale magic. My mother was careless, the faerie wind won’t get me, the oldest witch of Suburbville.

The cats though, and she next door, they ooze constant sneakiness and cunning; my feathered ones always dine in mortal danger.

I rattle my broom in the air; the furred ones pause in their wickedness.

“Woman! Cats!” I screech, stumbling to the fence, swiping at stalking cats. I bang on the wooden slats until my crooked teeth jangle.

And at last she appears, the cantankerous one, all bone and pallid chops, draped in washed out cloths and feathers, feathers I say, the worm.

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Fiddler’s Tale

by T. Gene Davis

Ivy clung to thick stone walls surrounding the cottage entry. Shade from the castle’s high turreted tower gave some relief from the summer sun. An herb patch rested to the left of the entry providing a scent to the thick muggy air. Smoke curled from the cobblestone chimney defying the summer morning’s warmth.

Entertaining a fire in the cottage was unpleasant, but the baker lived in the castle. Letal and Mary lived outside the castle. Taking their cooking to the baker took a lot of time. On days when Letal entertained the king with his music, Mary took the bread out to the baker. However, with Letal home she chose to endure the heat of the fire. He was glad for it. They were still sappy newly weds, and felt near physical pain at separation.

“Letal,” Mary called from the fire’s hearth laying thick her best damsel in distress tone of voice.

“Yes, my wife?” Letal responded, enjoying the playful attitude of his wife.

“When are you going to stop adding, ‘my wife,’ to everything you say?”

“I like the sound of it. So, never, … my wife.” He smiled at her as he spoke, showing imperfect yellow teeth. However, he had all of his teeth and was proud of it. He showed his teeth whenever he smiled.

“Do you have a tune in that fiddle of yours for getting rid of flies from the kitchen?” She teased Letal, knowing he hated anyone calling his viola a fiddle.

“My viola? Yes, my wife.”

“Well play it, my husband.”

He pulled the bow across the finely tuned cords, playing a simple tune composed of three repeating notes. The tune did not sound like much. However, the flies fled for the window.

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I Had Enough Silver

by H. K. Marshall

I had enough silver to hire the turnip farmer as a guide, but did he speak the truth?  “You can believe it, Gregory.  It lives in the western wilderness, the most fearsome serpent I’ve ever seen.”  Mud from baiting a hook stained his hands but did not reach the sleeves of his yellow shirt.

No dragon had been seen in the region during the reigns of the last four kings, and most disappeared within a generation after the settlers drained the swamps.  “How many dragons have you seen?” I inquired.

He chuckled.  “Um, well, I’ve seen plenty of brown rock snakes.”

“You compare rock snakes to dragons?”

“I’m telling you it stood bigger than a bear.  Came upon my sister as she dug turnips.”

“She cried out?”

“No, my sister neither hears nor speaks, but you never met a kindlier girl.  She ran back to find me mending the plow.  Never too early to start preparing for sowing, you know.  Pale as a corpse, she moved her mouth in vain and pointed.”

“What did you do?”

“As soon as I saw it, I took my father’s spear from above the fireplace.  He served as a spearman, a great one, in the king’s army, and he taught me a little.”

A woman’s voice piped up from atop a small boulder that sat against the riverside.  “Ralph,  you’ve never seen a dragon, and I’ve never known you to miss a chance to back down from a fight.”  The voice belonged to a woman he called his twin cousin, maybe younger than Ralph and with a nose like the blade of my battle axe.  Her brown hair hung down in three braids.

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The Artist, Perfect in His Craft

by Alter S. Reiss

Artatra stormed down the five hundred black marble steps to his laboratories and warrens.  It was utterly intolerable, the restrictions under which he worked.  That a mind such as his should be yoked to an unimaginative, plodding, stupid . . . well, not stupid, exactly.  That was the problem!  If the Presence in the Throne was stupid, it could be worked around.  The mind behind that mask was sly, it was well-ordered, and it knew far more than it rightly ought.  It was unimaginably worse than stupid—it was a functioning mind that lacked vision.

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Erosion

by T. Gene Davis

Fred looked down on her burnt form. His squinting eyes bookmarked a crumpled expression and one twitching nostril that threatened to make his voluminous mustache crawl away to find a more appetizing site. Smokey smells replaced the expected morning scent of sagebrush after rain. Her right arm flung wildly above her reposed form, clawed at the scorched bark of an ancient pinyon destroyed by the previous night’s fire.

He scratched his back and rubbed his fingers through the mustache to calm its twitching, then cleared his throat. He looked at the late morning sun, as if to burn the image of her reddened flesh out of his mind.

She opened one eye slightly. Her voice rasped, “I must have slipped out. It won’t let me back in.” Her left fist unclenched, but the right hand kept rubbing raw burnt fingers against the remains of the pinyon.

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Frozen Heart

by Esther Davis

The snowfall muffled the distant highway, and frosted autumn leaves still clung to their branches. Cody perched on the bench’s edge. His pug flopped into the carpet of snow at his feet. He watched Rachel’s fingers molding the handful of snow—clumsy and awkward. So simple, so ordinary. Magicless.

It was beautiful.

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The Real Stuff

by Tara Campbell

I was headin’ out to feed the cows when I heard a zinnia ask, “You got a minute?”

I shoulda known.  When a flower asks you if you got a minute, it’s gonna take more’n a minute. But I didn’t think nothin’ of it at the time.  I looked down and all I saw was a few a my wife’s pink zinnias straggling up from a dusty patch a dirt.  Their heads were all turned in my direction, so I didn’t know at first which one had spoke to me.

“Excuse me?” I asked. Continue reading


Night Market

by Justin Stewart

A few candles flickered in the room, casting shadows on the curved wall. A rabbit here, a house there, assorted flowers and even a wine glass. A thousand different shapes wandered the room. They were just pieces of paper suspended from string, mere ornaments guided by a mobile above, but the candlelight made them more. It brought the shapes to life.

It unnerved her.

“Take your time,” said the Whispering Woman. The words were no encouragement. You only came to the Whispering Woman if you were desperate. Desperation didn’t exactly breed patience. The girl wandered between shapes and string, chewing at her lip. None of them called to her. They all seemed random and unconnected, both to one another and her life. She thought about grabbing one at random and being done with the whole, terrible process, but then her future would be decided. Continue reading


Don’t Open That Box

by T. Gene Davis

I’ve known Kimball since I was a kid. He lived in the abandoned space between my building and the red brick one on the left. Kimball slept under a mattress that he propped up against the alley’s old chain link fence that kept us kids from getting to school on time.

Kimball was harmless enough. He didn’t talk or scream at ghosts or people on fake cell phones. His arms were clean—no needle tracks. No one ever saw him even drink coffee. But, he was still a bum, and mom hated us talking to him. Continue reading


One Night in the Trench

by Jon Arthur Kitson

Gerald saw the shadowy figure twice before; drifting between corpses in no-man’s-land, wavering in the dark.  Nerves, he convinced himself. But this time, as it stood in the trench only feet away, there was no easy explanation.

His rifle leveled on the intruder.

“Identify yourself!”

Behind the folds of hood topping the black-robed figure, an even voice answered:

“So, you can see me.” Continue reading