Saturday, December 14, 2013

Flash Fiction by Diane Jackman


The autumn rains still lay across the moor, sheets of shining water under the moon.  For days the sky had been clear and the nights cold, until the flood froze and the skating began.
Newcomers to the village strapped on skates, whirled and tumbled in laughing family parties.  Excited children shrieked and mocked as their clumsy parents fell on the ice. There was no danger.  There was no depth to this winter lake.
If anyone had been looking, they might have noticed that the old families, those whose grandfathers and great grandfathers for countless generations had worked these fields, skated in groups of men or women.  Separate.  There were no couples.  And certainly no children.
Wordlessly they knelt beside the flood and tightened the thongs of their ancient bone skates. Only in a freezing year did they fetch these skates from their hidden place beside the chimney, rub them with a little goose fat, and carry them in silence to the icy moor.
If anyone had been looking, they might have noticed the figures cut in the ice by these skaters.  Circles, arabesques, stars, triangles.     The year the cobbler had tried to cut a pentangle in his scepticism, the ice cracked without warning.  He fell through and broke his ankle.  No one departed from the traditional figures again.
If anyone had been looking, they might have noticed the group of skating women fan out around a dejected young woman who stood in the centre of their circle.   She had unlaced her skates and they lay like two beef ribs on the ice.
Round and round the women skated, faster and faster.  The stars wheeled in their eyes and the cut ice swished under their feet.
With no signal, they stopped.  It was time for the lifting.
The women moved as one towards the girl, who stood motionless, head bowed, waiting.
Strong hands seized her, and lifted her to the cold moon.  Twice they raised her pliant body without effort, and spoke.   At Harvest.
They lowered her gently to the ice.  She strapped on her skates and rejoined the women in their silent circuit.
At Harvest, twins were born, and each child had a tiny sixth toe on the left foot.  They didn’t know why this should be. 
It always happened with children born from the lifting.
Diane Jackman's poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including The Rialto, Outposts and Words-Myth and a short story in “Story” ( Happenstance Press). She was winner of the Liverpool Poetry Festival competition 2006. She wrote the libretto for "Pinocchio", for the Kings' Singers/LSO performed at The Barbican, has published seven children's books and many stories. She lives in Norfolk.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Flash Fiction by Chris Redfern

Snipers in the Sun
            Wiping the sweat from my brow, I crouch lower behind the small, upturned car. My enemy’s out there somewhere, but where?  Slowly, very slowly, I edge forward to have a peak around the side of the car when… WHAP!  My back arches at the cold, shock of impact.  I’ve been hit!  I’ve been hit!  But how?  How did he get behind me?  Falling to my knees, I desperately try to return fire.  But nothing happens.  It won’t shoot.  I’m empty.
            ‘You win that one’ I shout with a grin before running to the tap for another refill.
Chris Redfern is a newcomer to the world of writing flash fiction.  He lives in England, is a middle aged father of three and can be found at

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flash Fiction by Daniel Clausen

T.E. Lawrence in Japan

Somehow, I’ve managed to conquer a part of my small cubicle. I have usurped the space under my desk. When I crawl under, I find my own fortress of solitude, constructed out of books. Stacked way in the back, they lie half hidden by the shadow of the desk. If any of my coworkers were to see me with my feet dangling out of the bottom of my desk, I could always say that I’m searching for the magic portal to former Prime Minister Koizumi’s head.
Among basic guides on financial analysis, here and there are the books that sustain me: a copy of Barbara Leaming’s biography of Orson Welles, here; the History of the Peloponnesian War, there; a few books by Haruki Murakami; and good ol’ Maniac Magee. And there, in the very back, is T.E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
I take it with me to lunch, in part to ward off the evil spirits and the office lady courting me as a suitor. In part I take it to help me remember.
I walk to a café located near the subway station, an old place with dimmed lights―someplace that seems so forgotten its existence is questionable. Smoke hangs like a fog as the old-timers sit around with their newspapers, cigarettes, and bitter coffee. The older men wear black suits and ties, but it’s impossible to tell what they do or even if they’re still employed. The older suits and I leave each other to ourselves.
I open the book and read some of my crude handwritten notes from college: ideas about essays, notes on bills I had to pay. All these things remind me of those haphazard, fast days that were finished before they ever began. Eventually, I focus on the words because I want to be sitting next to Lawrence. Not the real T.E. Lawrence, but the one that exists in my head.
My eyes go over the words, feeling his uneasiness, feeling the awkwardness of writing, the relief of expression/confession, and the frightening sensation when an expression catches the tail end of something hidden in truth’s basement.
“A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life.” In my buttoned-down suit, necktie choking my face red, my hair nicely trimmed, I can feel T.E. Lawrence’s cold, clammy sentiment on the back of my neck. Glancing over the pages, I’m reminded that I’m an Englishman in Arab garb. I am here, and cannot explain my own existence. My shoes, dress, tongue, and nationality clash beautifully with what is around me, and for a moment I’m sure I exist as unreal as mountain gods oppressing the lives of salarymen, the supernatural management of Japan waiting to weed out the malcontents.
Daniel Clausen’s fiction has been published in Slipstream Magazine, Zygote in my Coffee, Leading Edge Magazine, and Spindrift, among other places. You can learn more about his newest novel, The Ghosts of Nagasaki, at:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Flash Fiction by Linda M. Crate

Missing You

I miss you. It's been years since I've seen your smiling face. Years since I saw the sun dance through your crimson hair or laugh in your lovely blue bird's egg blue eyes.

I still love you, though, you've long since forgotten me. We haven't spent time together since twenty years ago!

I remember Cindy's party.

That's where we first met. You were radiant and dazzling in your favorite blue dress. The one that matched your eyes.

We became thick as thieves. We did everything together. I remember the time we spent  the day at the beach reading. You told me all your secrets, and all these years I've kept them.

I miss those days full of us.

We laughed together, cried together, raged together. Everything seemed to point to a forever love. Then one day you didn't need me anymore. I don't know why.

I still hung around, but you didn't talk to me anymore. I couldn't understand why. I couldn't recall saying or doing anything that would make you hate me, but you had new friends and decided to move on without me.

It's always hard when people move on without you. I remember that lesson well. You told me that when Jeffrey had rejected your advances when you were six or when Winifred decided to have a new best friend at age eight. They don't seem to realize or even care that they've hurt you or how deeply it impacts you.

Then you turned around and did the same thing to me.

I'm not writing this to call you a hypocrite or anything - just because I miss you.

I sit lonely in this cardboard box day after day. I just want for one day you to open this box, wondering of the contents, to see your smiling face again. To hear you cry 'Teddy' one last time before you pass me off to a child or a grandchild and tell them of all the wonderful times we shared. But maybe you forgot me completely. Maybe you'll never find me again.

I was always an optimist, so I'm going to keep hoping one day you need me again. Because I still need you.
Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh, but she was raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She attended and graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English-Literature in 2009. Her poetry, articles, reviews, and short stories have appeared in several journals online and in print. Her poetry chapbook A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn was recently published by Fowlpox Press. Her novel Amethyst Epiphany is forthcoming from Assent Publishing under their imprint Phantasm Books.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Flash Fiction by Rich Hartwell

The Brooch
I remember the brooch my grandmother gave me when I was about twelve, before she died. It had been given to her by her husband on their wedding day and obviously meant a great deal to her. It was of filigreed silver, about an inch and a half long and tapered to a point on each end, and maybe an eighth of an inch wide. There were minute vines and leaves and five small diamonds of greater worth than I will ever know. I was too young and she died too soon; so I carried this gift until I foolishly gave it away, along with my heart to a young girl, when I was sixteen. When that summer-love ended, that girl returned the brooch, but not my heart. I learned from that experience.
Three short years later I married, too young, too soon. It was the sixties and I designed a ring for my “natural” bride to display the diamonds plucked from my grandmother’s brooch. The filigree and the antiqued silver were lost, but not the memories. The story was passed on to my first wife.
When she and I passed away from each other and entered other lives, she kept this ring from our life together. She passed this on to our son along with the story that he verified with me. When he too married, he had the ring resized and bestowed it on his wife in turn. She also has been told the story, which has touched four generations now. He and his wife are now expecting their first child and I expect, as well, the story will be delivered to another generation waiting in the wings.
*   *   *
So much were my early thoughts, early in their disregard for earlier lives and changing times. My son’s wife, his first, had two children, both boys, and eventually she will be faced with a decision upon which son to bestow the ring. Perhaps she will have it dismantled, much as she did her marriage, and provide each child with a piece of her former love, her former life, and four generations of history.

Meanwhile the man who placed the ring upon her finger, my son, had met and wed another bride. If this were a jeweled life, his new bride would have received the ring and carried it forward, perhaps to a fifth generation, whole with love rather than halved with hate. But such was not to be and this is not a small gem of literary beauty, but rather a story of reality. This marriage, too, died when the new bride’s husband, my son, gave up his life to disease and despair and his bride was left to carry on, bereft of children, husband, ring, and history.
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Flash Fiction by Stephen V. Ramey

When I listen to him, all things are possible. His voice, so throaty-rich, so pure. I think of Jesus on the cross. Life becomes smeared light, death a dark-blink interlude. Dear God, I think. Dear, sweet God, make us better, make us free of the blame that holds us back, take from us the violence that squeezed us from the womb. Dear God, I think, dear sweet God.
A final strum on the battered guitar, and his song is finished. I reach out. Notes tremble on the breeze. I want to hold them to my face. I want to make them real. Dust falls from my fingers into the slanted light.
He picks up a beret holding a few dollars and coins. His skin is dusky. "You like?" he says. He jingles the hat. His fingers are callused, half-moon fingernails stained.
I turn my pockets out. Coins spill onto pavement, a key ring, a pack of gum. Quarters bounce and roll through tight spirals.
His expression does not change. I take my wallet out, and dump it too. Bills flutter down, credit cards and business cards. The sidewalk litters with my life.
Still, his face remains impassive.
Tears come into my eyes. "Is that not enough?"
He watches.
"It's all I have," I plead, "all that I have with me. Please, tell me it's enough."
He pulls a cigarette from his shirt pocket, and presses it to his mouth. "Do you have a match?"
I pat my shirt, squeeze the cloth ballooning from my pockets. "No, no I don't."
He leans the guitar against the building. "Come back when you do, okay? I play again."
"Yeah," I say. "Sure." It's never enough. I never have what I need. I start walking. A breeze pushes from the north. I shiver. I look back.
A crowd has gathered around him. They jostle for position. I want to understand that they're after the money, but in my heart I know it's more than that. They're cleaning the ground of my residue, preparing for someone more worthy.

Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania, which used to rival Pittsburgh in industry. His work has appeared in various places, most recently Cease, Cows, Lucid Play's Glass Eye Chandelier anthology, and the Catherine Refracted anthology from Pure Slush Books. His collection of very short fictions, Glass Animals, was published in January by Pure Slush. Find him at

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Flash Fiction by Jim Harrington

Waiting for the Storm to Pass

"What's that?"  Angle said, pointing at the man's arm.

"What's what?"

"That thing on your sleeve."

The man looked at his arm, a frown on his face. "My heart. What the hell do you think it is?"

"It's beating," Angle said.

"I sure as hell hope so. Wouldn't need to worry about the tornado if it wasn't, would I."

Angle looked around the storm shelter. None of the other fifty or so occupants seemed to notice anything unusual. Most were huddled with family members, keeping an eye on the stairs leading to the exit.

He stared at the beating appendage, as it's pulse quickened, and idly raked bony fingers through his beard, not sure what to say. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Harold, but most people call me Hank." A honed edge remained on the man's voice, like he didn't want to be bothered. "What's yours?  Not that it matters. I'll be continuing on my way to Kansas City once the storm passes. That's assuming the bus is still upright."

Angle thought about that, and decided the man was right—that it didn't matter. He told him his name anyway. "Angle."

"Angle?" Hank scratched his heart.

"That's my name."

"What the hell kind of name is that? You Greek or something? Shortening your name so people can say it?"

"The person who filled out my birth certificate misspelled angel. My dad was so pissed when he found out he went to a bar and drank an entire bottle of Jack Daniels."

"Can't blame him," Hank said. "I would'a been pissed, too."

Angle nodded and smiled. "I don't think I would've killed the parrot, though."

"He killed a parrot? Did the bird make some wisecrack about your name?" Hank put his fists in his pits and flapped his arms, the heart beat faster with each movement. "Polly wants an Angle. Polly wants an Angle. Waaak!" Hank laughed so hard he nearly fell off his chair.

Angle reached out to steady the old man but pulled his hand back, not wanting to touch the beating heart. "Some other drunk challenged him to a game of darts. Dad threw the first one about thirty feet right of the target into the bird's cage." A loud bang from outside the storm shelter interrupted his story. Everybody in the room jumped. A woman Angle couldn't see screamed and prayed to Jesus to save her. Just her. No one else. "The owner tried to have my dad charged with murder."

"This just keeps getting better," Hank said, as he started to cough.

Angle patted Hank on the back until the barking stopped and the heart slowed its pace.

"Hey, folks." It was a high-pitched male voice coming from across the room. "I think the storm's passed. We're going to open the door."

Angle and Hank and everyone else sat still while a large man in a Chicago Cubs t-shirt, his bloated belly uncovered, a tattoo of a hot dog in a bun with cole slaw under his belly button expanding and contracting with each breath, opened the hatch. Sunshine brightened the dim room. A breeze carried fresh air into the dank rectangle.

"Well," Hank said. "I don't know what we're going to find out there, but it was nice talking to you." Angle noticed Hank's voice had calmed to normal, so had his heartbeat.

"Same here," Angle said. "Hey, you going to get that fixed?" Angle asked, pointing at the man's heart.

"Not sure." Hank cupped it in his hand, like it was a baby's head. "It kinda fits there don't you think?"

Angle watched Hank's fingers caress the organ as they climbed the stairs. "Yea. I think it does."
Jim Harrington began writing fiction in 2007 and has agonized over the form ever since. Jim's Six Questions For . . . blog ( provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” You can read more of his stories at

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Flash Fiction by Rick Hartwell

For Whom the Ducks Call
(A Hymn on Hemingway)
Pullman let his eyes wander upward to the blue afternoon sky. His gaze caught the tightly held vee formation of the planes returning from the bomb-run against the pale indigo background and the glinting silver of the planes soon gave way to the pale belly feathers of the mallards swooping south over Venice. Oblivious to almost everything, Pullman slowly raised the barrel to the pale-silver, glinting feathers, inhaled and let out half a breath, and squeezed off a shot leading just enough to be certain not to ruin the meat. Nothing happened at first. The duck didn’t fall and the plane didn’t fall and even the sky didn’t fall.
Then Pullman began to be aware of the other hunters again. Faint shots echoed up to him on the rise, but still the vee continued unbroken towards the horizon.
When the second bullet slammed into Pressure Pullman, he swung to his left leaving ducks and Venice behind and further increasing the flow of blood from the first wound, the wound he had ignored at first. It had started as an almost orange trickle coursing down from his left shoulder and soaking across his chest to pool in the dirt by his right side. Now that he’d swung left, the trickle had reversed its course and changed to a deep scarlet. This scarlet flowed in a steady stream back across his chest, merging with a second big river pulsing a deep purple from a new spring near his heart where the second bullet had exited.
“I shouldn’t have turned my back on the bloody bastards, Grace. That’s my second mistake this year. I must be getting old. Besides, you can never trust another hunter in this damned country. It’s no good for hunting.”
Grace didn’t pay much attention. She’d heard this all before. Now, she knew, he’d say something about the other country where if you paid the hunters enough, they wouldn’t shoot you. Nobody would shoot you if you paid them enough. But in this country you couldn’t pay anyone not to shoot you. It didn’t matter that these weren’t hunters, not real hunters, and it didn’t matter that he hadn’t paid them and it didn’t matter that they didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
“Nothing. Nothing! Nothing matters!” Pullman finished.
Yes, she’d heard it all before he thought. Even before Venice. She didn’t understand it, of course. Not then and not now. She was female and couldn’t understand the joy of killing cleanly and being cleanly killed and of paying and being paid. Dumb broad, he thought.
He heard the hunters gathering for the final assault and he knew that this last defense was indefensible, but it was what he must do, had to do. He had no cover here, not even concealment, and he knew what he had to do about that too.
Pullman patted Grace affectionately on the rump and drew his Smith and Wesson .45 cleanly from the holster. He sighted at the intersection of an imaginary line drawn vertically from the part of her hair to the bridge of her nose, and one horizontally from one ear lobe to the other.
“You don’t really like women, do you Pressure?”
“That’s not true. It’s not pertinent either. This way we can finally be merged together and become one. You can become just as good as me, almost.”
He pulled the trigger smoothly and blew her brains out neatly, dropping her exactly where he had planned, forming a slight barricade against the approaching hunters.
He’d never had her. There hadn’t been enough time. But if he couldn’t have Grace under Pressure, he’d be damned if anyone else could. And besides, it had been a clean shot, bringing her down without bruising the meat. He pulled Grace closer, melting them together. He was remembering Venice and he could almost hear the call of the ducks.

Pullman didn’t notice the vee in the darkening sky overhead.
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flash Fiction by Bob Brill

Silence in the Woods

Brother Joseph sat quietly on a fallen log listening to the sound of the brook. He raised his bamboo flute to his lips, took a breath and set himself to blow. Just then he heard a violent snapping of twigs, and a boy, perhaps ten years old, came crashing out of the brush. He spied Brother Joseph and, veering from his course, ran up to him crying, "Help. Help me." He collapsed at Brother Joseph's feet, gasping for breath, "Man broke into house. Got my folks at gunpoint. Says he's gonna kill 'em. I got away. Need help."

"Did you call 911?"

"Got a phone?"

"No. Up at the abbey. Come with me. I'll show you the way."  Brother Joseph set down his flute, picked up his crutches, climbed to his feet, hobbled slowly up the trail.

"Can't you go any faster?" cried the boy.

"You go on ahead. It's just a hundred yards up this trail. Take the right hand fork. Big wooden building."

The boy said nothing, just dashed away, quickly disappearing from sight. Brother Joseph took a few more steps, then stopped. He'll b
e in good hands now, he thought. Nothing more I can do. He returned to his log. Sat down. Picked up his flute. His heart was pounding hard. He listened to the song of the brook as it coursed over the stones. He brought the flute to his lips. Someone was coming up the path with slow measured steps. A bolt of fear shot through Brother Joseph when he thought it might be the gunman.  His friend, the postman, emerged into the clearing with a sack of mail.

"Hi ho, Brother Joseph," he called. "A beautiful fine day it is to be carrying a sack full of bills to the abbey. Here is your Smithsonian Magazine."

"Oh, look at this," said Brother Joseph, taking the magazine.  "What is this strange bird on the cover? It's a hoatzin, whatever that is." He opened the magazine, searching for the cover article. His eyes fell on a photograph of a gigantic robot arm, so delicate, said the caption, that it could juggle three eggs without breaking them. Quickly he closed the magazine. "Please, my friend, take this up to the abbey. I'll look at it later."

"Busy?"  asked the postman.

"Busy trying to quiet my busy mind. Why, just now ... never mind.  I'll tell you later."

"I see how it is with you, my friend. I'll be on my way."

After the postman left, Brother Joseph tried to settle down, but he kept thinking about the boy. What was happening up at the
abbey? What about the boy's parents? An armed psychopath less than a mile away. Why hadn't he gone to a neighbor for help?  Probably one of those lone houses at the edge of the woods. The woods would be safest. Good instinct to run for cover in the woods. A robot juggling eggs. What for? Who would want to?

He couldn't silence the voices in his head. Then he realized that by trying to calm himself enough to play his flute he was doing it backward. The trick, he knew from long experience, was just to play the flute until the babbling voices stopped. He raised the flute to his lips and blew a note. A long wavering note that came from his busy mind, then a quick string of notes, still connected to his thoughts. As he played he again became aware of the brook singing among the stones and he answered the watery song with his own song, the notes now coming from deep within him, flowing harmoniously with the stream. He was focused now. The world narrowed to the water music mingling with the fluty wind music, no room for thoughts, no other being but here now.

Once more silence in the woods, except for the song of a bamboo flute, a running brook, a distant gunshot.

Bob Brill is a retired computer programmer and digital artist. He is now devoting his energies to writing fiction and poetry. His novellas, short stories and more than 100 poems have appeared in more than two dozen online magazines, print journals, and anthologies.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flash Fiction by Art Carey

A Wedding Gift to Remember

        Wind gusted off the ocean, sandpapering the weathered sides of the beach house and rattling the wood shutters.  Outside, a chair blew over with a bang.  November's storms had arrived.  Summer on the cape was delightful, but fall weather was iffy.

         Ellie took a sip of non-alcoholic wine, grimaced, and turned on a lamp by the couch.  Her parents had been wonderful about the pregnancy.  They were always just a telephone call and a hug away.

         The chick-lit novel she'd been reading didn't hold her attention.  Ellie shoved the book aside but not before removing the envelope serving as a bookmark.  She took out the embossed invitation inside and read it again:  Sen. and Mrs. John L. Fley and Mr. and Mrs. Mark F. Jones request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their children Shanon Ann Fley and Richard Malcolm Jones…
         She didn't bother to read about the wedding ceremony or the reception at the country club.  They were over and done, like her brief affair with the groom.
         Richard had breezed into his sales manager's job at the auto dealership with a smile, a ready
laugh, and the confidence that comes of graduating from Dartmouth and going to work at a business owned by his father.  He cast his eyes about the office and stopped with Ellie, slim and blonde.  Soon they were inseparable, attending summer stock productions, dining at seafood restaurants, and enjoying art house movies.
“This is wonderful,” he said one moonlit evening, “but I want more time with you alone.”  He gazed into her eyes as they walked barefoot on the beach, savoring the salty air. Waves lapped softly at the shoreline, and tendrils of foam collapsed and vanished into the sand.

“My parents have a beach house,” she said, mischievously. “We could be alone there.”

He paused. “Really?”

Ellie sighed and looked about the room, cluttered with seashells, polished glass and other treasures from beachcombing. It had been a weekend to remember.

And then Richard met Shannon. She was everything Ellie wasn’t: the graduate of a prestigious women’s college, a lawyer, and the daughter of a U.S. senator.

Richard dumped her. Ellie was shocked by his betrayal and his reaction to the news she was pregnant.

“Whose baby is it?” he demanded.

“Why yours of course,” she said, taken aback. “We can get a paternity test if…

“Forget it.” He licked his lips. “I can get some money if you…”

“No,” she said. “No!”

He turned away. “Then it would be better if we didn’t see each other any more.”

That got easier the next day when she was fired.

The wedding invitation came as a surprise. She hadn’t gone, of course. But she decided to send a wedding gift. What could she give Richard and his bride that would stand out among the other gifts? Ellie took another sip of tart wine, grimacing again. Boy, could she use a glass of real chardonnay. After thinking about an appropriate wedding present, she settled finally on glassware. But not just any glassware.

The newlyweds would be back from their honeymoon in the Bahamas now, ready to open presents. Hers would be a surprise. She could imagine Richard’s bride saying, “Well, here’s a weird gift from one of your old girlfriends. She sent an ordinary water glass. Why, there are even fingerprints on it.”

Ellie smiled. They’d have a laugh at her and then  notice the two pieces of paper under the glass. They’d read them. And then the laughing would stop.

The glass had come from a luncheon meeting at the auto agency on her last day of work. When everyone had left the room, Ellie had picked up a water glass where Richard had been sitting. The first piece of paper was a lab report detailing what the glass revealed — his DNA. The second was a note:

Hi, Dick. You can look forward to being a dad as soon as the baby is born and I find out its DNA and match it with yours. Better  get ready to break out your checkbook!

Love (not), Ellie.
Arthur Carey is a former newspaper reporter and journalism instructor who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. He is a member of the California Writers Club. His fiction has appeared in print and Internet publications, including Pedestal, Funny Times, Eclectic Flash, Writers’ Journal, and Still Crazy. He is the author of “The Gender War,” a humor novel available on Amazon.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Flash Fiction by Jim Meirose


Candy is sweet.  Lovingly he stripped the wrapper from the candy and let it waft to the floor.  The candy lay lightly in his hand.  He let the sweet candy caress his tongue and closed his eyes until it was fully dissolved; it was at this point that the bullet entered his brain.

Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards.  Two collections of his short work have been published and his novels, Claire and Monkey are available from Amazon.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flash Fiction by Abigail Wyatt

The Beachhead
    'Look,' you say, 'the May is coming out. Soon it will be summer.'
    You are staring out the window, your hands immersed in a bowl of cooling soapy water.  Something about the sag of your shoulders gnaws at my peace.
    'Are you alright?'
    It's a coded question. Your heart has been troubling you lately. You already have four stents. They want to make it six.
    'I'm fine,' you say. Your tone is cheery but you don't turn to look at me. 'Why don't we get out for a bit? A walk will do us good.'
    Today's fine weather has arrived like an unexpected holiday. It has comes in the wake of a winter not cold but grey and interminably wet. For months on end, we were shrouded in mists and pressed upon by skies that sought to stifle us. No relief, no respite. No surprise when our spirits gave way.
     Now, though, all the trees are in leaf and the earth wears green and yellow. The beech trees, visible from our bedroom window, are a glory of tender new growth. There is a breeze, sure enough, but the sky is painted blue, as blue as it might be in a picture book. It is pleasant to watch the tree tops stir and feel the sun's rays through the glass.
Our chosen destination is Crenver Grove, an expanse of ancient woodland. I put on my winter hat and my pink wellington boots. With so much rain over so many weeks the ground is sure to be sodden. You wear your scarf as well as your hat which you pull down over your ears.
    It was in Crenver Grove, before we met, that you went walking alone one winter's morning, encountering there, or so you like to tell me, the ghost of a great white dog. Now the woodland is properly 'managed'. You remark on its greatly altered character. Then you take my hand and, shouldering your camera, set off down a winding path. Beneath the soles of my candy pink boots the woodland floor is cushioned by leaf mould. The breeze nips at our noses and ears but the new season stirs us just the same.
'Here it is.'
    You hurry ahead, calling over your shoulder.  Your cheeks are flushed and your hat is on crooked, your blue-grey eyes are full of light. 
    'This is the trench I wanted to show you. Can you see how the earth falls away?'
    You trace the outline of what is, indeed, a trench by pacing its length. Your boots stir up the mush of twigs and dead leaves. I follow behind.
    'On this side, see, there's a gentle curve. That's where they would have approached it. On the other side, though, is steeper bank. That’s where they would have thrown themselves down.'
       I stand on the brink where the earth tips away and try to catch the echo of their footfall. I listen for their laughter, their youthful voices, perhaps the fading notes of a song. At times, no doubt, they brooded and complained as they sat with their backs against these tree trunks, smoking, talking, making plans, remembering their girls back home.
     'It was a practice trench.' Your words break my thoughts. 'Of course, they would have needed to practise. To be able to make a beachhead you need to dig pretty fast. They must have been here, face down in the soil, right on this spot where we are standing. It was probably a beautiful day, a day much like today.'
   'And then what?'
    I know the answer but I can't keep from asking the question.
   'And then they would have been loaded in trucks and taken to Trevebah to embark.  They would have been marched down to the water’s edge and then onto the boat. They next thing they would have known they would have been halfway to Omaha. It all started right here, a whole long lifetime ago.'
      I think about this, a whole lifetime lost, a whole, long lifetime: chances not taken, leaden skies, a woodland on the brink turning green. For them, a few minutes of ear-splitting noise, blood and flailing bodies.  A forest of saplings, of tall young men who will stay forever green.
    We are silent for a long time before you raise your camera. Your photograph bears witness to the beauty they lost. You take my hand. We walk on in silence.  My heart is full of gratitude for the fact that yours beats on.
Abigail Wyatt was born an Essex girl but has lived most of her adult life in Cornwall. Since 2008, her poetry and short fiction, have been published in more than seventy outlets including a number of poetry and prose anthologies. She is a founding member of the Red River Poetry Collective and one of the editors of Poetry24.  Once a teacher of English, Abigail now works part-time in a café and devotes as much time as possible to her writing. Her collection of short fiction, Old Soldiers, Old Bones and Other Stories, is available from here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Flash Fiction by David O'Neal

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

    Gone the bustling amusement park at Ocean Beach, gone Skateland and Playland, gone into burnt brick and ruined concrete walls are the once sprawling Sutro Baths, gone the Chateau-like Cliff House which exists only in old pictures and postcards.

    But the slow-sloping Beach at the edge of the infinite ocean is there in all its natural stolid solidity and aloneness: five miles of it from Lands End, where tourists gather for views of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands, south to the Fort Funston cliffs where moth-like hang gliders soar 500 feet over the wind-swept land, riding the ridge-lift, held aloft by the up-drafts. Tiny Bank Swallows nest in the cliffs there – their only known coastal nesting site. Ocean Beach, paralleled by the Great Highway, is two hundred yards wide all the way, its flatness modulated by occasional low sand dunes. 

    It’s wind, wind, wind at Ocean Beach: strong wind, whooshing wind, whipping wind, forever wind, cold, steady, unrelenting wind. Wind carves waves, froths the breakers, and forms white-caps in the distance. Wind drives the sea into the shore, and the constant sounds of wind and waves together seemingly radiate from far beyond the horizon of incoming swells; the crash, roar, dip and hush; the pulse, shape and duration of multiple sea and wind sounds; the rush, constant pounding and plangent resonance of ocean and air; the weight and power of the ocean tamed only in small measure by the Beach. And shrill calls of snowy plovers, gulls, geese, ravens, pelicans, cormorants.
The slippery visual wash of waves; the sight of their rhythmic rise, thrust, collapse and retreat; their differing motions; their curves, filigrees and lacey shapes; the ever changing dots, specks and lines, jagged and smooth, on the moody ever-changing sea surface; inlay of scintillating light; tankers diminished by distance to toy boats; the grainy sand underfoot and in the hand; the briny taste and smell; salt on the lips. Do onlookers not see inward and stare into the sea-tides of their souls?

    All San Francisco comes here. Waders like the gentle slope of the Beach and children play in the foamy spoor and backflow of the water; flyers of kites unloose their birds and dragons to the wind; surf-casters cast out; sand sculptors compete in the annual contest. Surfers love the heavy swells and miles of beach break: they mount the liquid planes below and above the rising waves and read the changes and shapes of the swells, then glide down cutting back and forth along the long spiral roll of falling wave crests. Kite-surfers, lift-pulled by the wind, slide and glide colorfully through the glassy shallows. Warming bonfires and barbeques glow on the beach day and night while runners and bikers flow on the sidewalks of the Great Highway.

    Yet swimmers beware! Lives have been lost from the achingly cold water, strong rip tides, currents and undertows, and fierce waves. Wind driven waves have grounded many ships and pounded them to pieces on Seal Rocks and against the jagged cliffs at either end of the Beach.  Once in a while, at low tide, the ghostly hull of the King Phillip, an old clipper ship wrecked in 1878, surfaces eerily through the sand at windswept Ocean Beach.
David O’Neal is a retired rare book dealer now enjoying a second career as a writer, especially of poetry. His recent creative work has been published in The Eclectic Muse, Vision Magazine, Mississippi Crow, Two Hawks Quarterly, The New York Times, The Lyric, Open Minds Quarterly, Bird Keeper, The Magazine of the Parrot Society U.K., etc. and in anthologies such as The Marin Poets Anthology, Voices of Bi-Polar Disorder, Nurturing Paws, and Science Poetry. He has also written several books and compiled and edited Babbling Birds: An Anthology of Poems about Parrots from Antiquity to the Present.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Flash Fiction by David MacPherson

How to be Calm
If anyone asked, Ray would say, “The most important part of getaway driving is looking calm while waiting for them to come back. When they do return all crazed and hopped up, that’s when you are your most calm. That’s when you just go with it, whatever it is.”
He remembered this as he waited down from the jewelry store. It was a big store. one of the biggest he’d seen. In his head, Ray began to list all the songs by the Rolling Stones that he could think of, which was his trick for looking relaxed and in his place.
The back door opened up and three people jumped in. They peeled off their masks and stored their guns and one of them barked, “Hit it.”
Ray looked in the rear view window and then turned all the way around. “Wait a minute, who are you guys?”
There were three men, all who were strangers. The guy in the middle, with the long stringy hair, “Damn, we went into the wrong getaway car again.” The other guys groaned.
Ray shouted, “What do you mean wrong getaway car? How many getaway cars do you think there are?”
The round guy on the left shrugged. ‘I think there were three robberies going on when we came in. So maybe four getaway cars probably. It’s a big store. It does a lot of volume.”
The tall guy on the right looked behind him, “Can we get going already?”
“I’m not your getaway driver. Find yours, I’m waiting for my crew,” Ray said.
The middle guy said, with a little panic in his voice, “I’m sure they’ll be fine. There’s always cars ready to book out of anywhere. Look around you, there’s a ton of cars. So now you are in our crew. Let’s go, you’ll get your cut.”
“But they are my bros, I’ve been with them for ever.”
The tall guy said, ‘Really your bros? They didn’t look down on you? They didn’t make fun of the guy with the car? They wouldn’t leave you here?”
Ray turned back to the wheel and thought. His crew had three guys. Frank threw cigarettes in his direction. Jimmy called him an idiot grease monkey and Mike never even looked at him. His crew, looking for any convenient getaway car.
Ray popped the clutch and shot the car into traffic, going wherever you go when you need to flee.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Flash Fiction by Adam Natali

The Mighty Eagle
The American Motors Corporation (AMC) was bought out by Chrysler in 1987, but during the three decades of their existence, they gave us such wonders of the modern roadway as the squat yet spacious Pacer, the sporty AMX, and the off-roading Wagoneer. But no vehicle in their fleet commanded as much respect as the four wheel drive Eagle station wagon.

When my grandfather was looking for a way to spend his hard earned horse track winnings, he considered the obvious choices: Buicks, Oldsmobiles, even Cadillacs. But gramps was a man in the classical sense of the word, and he didn’t have time for streamlined quality or aesthetic beauty. He wanted a machine that could burrow through the trenches of his trailer park when man-sized snow drifts would frighten lesser machines into dead batteries and frozen windshield wiper fluid.

The AMC Eagle wagon he purchased in 1985 had a tan, faux leather interior and a cream body complimented by coffee brown trim. It resembled a fossilized mushroom with an engine fused to the front of it, and after a few pumps of the gas pedal (but not too many, because the engine would flood) it would roar like a lion woken from a dream of drinking cocktails mixed with the organs of dead gazelles. 

And upon my sixteenth birthday, the beast became my own. My grandfather had passed a couple years before, and the Eagle spent those lonely 24 months majestically rusting and dripping transmission fluid in our driveway. As I slid across the faux leather driver’s seat, not as a child with a dream, but as a man with an ignition key, a bond was formed that would last through the remainder of my teen years. 

The Eagle and I spent our mornings transporting friends to school, and afternoons waving to one another as I swung at softballs during gym class on the fields just beyond the parking lot. At night we would claim the streets, lawns, and medians as our own. From off road jaunts through the goal posts at my old elementary school, to dust storms created along the rubble of road construction projects.

Then one evening, the mighty Eagle would conquer yet another frontier.

We sat grumbling at a stoplight at the intersection of Golf and Barrington Road. The golden arches of a McDonalds added a yellow light to the orange glow of sulfur street lamps. My best friend sat by my side with two more friends sharing the back seat.

Then a Mustang pulled up beside us. It had the classic nineties shape, little more than a Taurus with sharper contours, but it purred with a souped up engine, or at least a souped up muffler.

I turned and made eye contact with the car’s driver. A mocking smirk crept upon his lips. He seemed to find it amusing to be sharing the road with such an unorthodox creature as my Eagle. But I would have the last laugh.

I shifted my car into neutral and pressed the gas. Ancient elm trees knelt to the godlike rumble set forth by six cylinders of American made fury. 

The Mustang howled in return, but the slightest trace of fear could be detected in its neigh.

The light turned green. I slammed the Eagle into drive, but pressed the gas slowly to keep her from stalling. We crept over the line with the grace of an ostrich, but the Mustang hesitated. Apparently, its jockey was inept at driving a stick shift. We roared across the intersection, leaving the whimpering nag in our wake, and clutching our fists in victory.
Adam Natali is a freelancer who graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing. His fiction has appeared in The Cynic and Short Story Me, he's done articles for HD Living magazine, and he spent a year as a staff writer at Groupon ( composing daily deals, merchant profiles, and stupid jokes

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flash Fiction by Anna Zumbro

High Jump
Too slow for the relay team and too weak for shot put, Davey was sure as hell going to compete in high jump.
“Higher,” he insisted in practice, “taller than me.”
The captain snorted. “You’ll be eating asphalt.”
Davey ran, twisted, and dove upward, inverting gravity. He thought of the rhyme, hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon… He cleared the moon and was rounding its dark side.
Back on earth, sunlight forced open his eyes.
“Dude, you okay? Might have a concussion, angled a bit wide of the mat."
“Did I clear it?”
“Yeah, you did. Welcome to the team."
Anna Zumbro writes short fiction and lives in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Flash Fiction by Ken Seide

Memory Pillow
“Sleep well?” she asked.
“Yes, but strange dreams,” I said.
“How’d you like the memory pillow?” she asked.
“What? What’s that?” I said.
“It conforms to your head and neck,” she said. “It’s my daughter’s. I took it off her
“Has she been to Tzfat?”
“Yes, it’s one of her favorite places. Have you been?”
“No, but I remember it now.”
Ken Seide is the pen name of a resident of Newton, Mass. His short stories have appeared in Poetica and Cyclamens and Swords. His poems have appeared in Poetica, Kerem, Voices Israel, Muddy River Poetry Review, and other publications.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Flash Fiction by Leilanie Stewart

Twenty Questions

“I can’t get it. I give up!”

Andy stared at his wife. “After nineteen questions?”

“It’s impossible with you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Shirley smirked. “You should know.”

“Huh? How is 'belly button fluff' any harder than 'naked mole rat'?”

“See? It’s always a war with you – I’ll never win. You think of the most obscure topic.”

“You could’ve played along – for just one more question!”

“Played along? Forget nineteen questions; this was nineteen years – of hell!”

Shirley got up. Nineteen years. After nineteen years of marriage, a nineteen year old wisp of a girl had got between them. He didn’t know she knew. He liked to play games. He wouldn’t win this game. She wouldn’t let him.

Nineteen questions. Nineteen years of hell. A nineteen year old girl. Nineteen steps to the door.

“It was only one more question,” Andy yelled.

Only one more step. Shirley walked out the door. She shut it hard behind her.
Leilanie Stewart’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Carillon, Monomyth, Blood Moon Rising, Wufniks, The Crazy Oik, Sarasvati, The Pygmy Giant, Linguistic Erosion, Stanley the Whale, The Neglected Ratio, The Absinthe Literary Review, Ariadne’s Thread and Mad Swirl. By day she runs a creative writing workshop for teenagers, and by night she writes and promotes her work at spoken word events. She currently lives in London with her husband, writer and poet, Joseph Robert. More about her writing can be found at