Monday, June 30, 2014

Flash Fiction by Janet Shell Anderson

“You keep the children.” Jason disposes of them just like that as the aurora burns over the Vermilion River. Witchlight. We’ve been married nine years. “I’ll keep the dog,” he adds.
Across the river, a wolf edges out of the forest to drink. Our sons, Jeremy, eight, and Kevin, six, sleep in our tent, unaware. Upriver, wolves cry, a pack. Jason doesn’t explain, but I know it’s Sharon, honey haired, golden, one of those twenty-somethings in the Montana Café in town, charming as otters, smooth and quick. Jason saw her, wants her. Her father’s rich.
In a sudden wolf silence, the river talks, chugs over hydraulic potholes. Our fire snaps. Jason’s throat works as he drinks cold beer, sits firelighted, honey gold as Sharon. I can almost hear the thunder of the falls, south of us. I can imagine the deep pool at the cliff foot, black water there, or maybe gilded by the streamers in the sky, running down the magnetic lines, like a script, like a written language of gods.
Ten miles north is the border. I’ve crossed it a hundred times. A lot of us from up here are very good at border crossings. Late at night. In any weather. Summer or winter. Private business. Nothing ever stops us. Jason has forgotten that. He’s from the Cities, from Minneapolis, not really like us.
The wolf drinks, looks at me, a knowing look. Wolves cry like humans sometimes, late, late at night on the Vermilion when the aurora shines. Things happen in the forests, at the border. The terrible witchlight of the aurora flickers green, white.
“So Medea,” Jason asks, “you gonna be all right with this?”
Janet Shell Anderson writes flash fiction, has published a "flash" novel, has been published by decomPVestal Review, FRIGG, Convergence, Grey Sparrow, Cease Cows and others and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for fiction. She is an attorney.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flash Fiction by Daniel Clausen

Mr. Brown Still Lives There
Early in the morning, he can shake the apathy off his shoulder. The calm dullness of the morning sunlight beaming down on him, the momentum of his body as his feet hit pavement, the feeling as his glasses bounce ever so slightly on his nose--it’s easy for it to fall off and die on the pavement. The apathy on his shoulder never stood two halves of a quarter of a chance in a lottery rigged so the mayor’s son would win, no sir. Apathy couldn’t really stand up to the power of morning sunlight, cool air, and the will to put feet into motion.
Mr. Brown can shake the apathy off his shoulder, but he can’t shake the apathy off the shoulder of that kid sitting silently in his classroom, looking down, not concentrating, carelessly careful to avoid achieving the slightest bit of momentum. Not there, no, not there.
When he runs, though, when the adrenaline is at full tilt, when his feet move so fast the cool air becomes cooler, and it’s that super-real thing called “will” pushing him forward, thoughts become power and defeatism loses to feetism (the power embodied in feet), then, maybe, maybe….
He wakes up at dawn in two places; two people. One place is the kind of nice neighborhood he lives in now, its occasional garden, occasional luxury car, and quietness. The other place is not so nice, with the occasional fight, the occasional drug dealer, occasional drug bust, and the ever-present noise. The calm dullness of the morning sunlight keeps him focused on his path and his goal: to shake the shadow behind him.
When he runs, he runs with his glasses on. His feet hit the pavement to the rhythm of his heart beat, faster than a sleeping heart beat. He takes pride counting them. Then, when the feet hurt and the will wavers, the screaming starts. He screams loud things in his head to frighten off the shadow of a man who would look with complacency at the comfort and old age education has brought him—more than he fears gangs, disease, and politicians, that shadow of a content man. Not a real man as far as that super-real thing the “will” is concerned. When he finishes the occasionally nice neighborhood is there, but the ghetto remains in his head.
He runs a mile, eats breakfast, and is fully dressed for work before the clock taps seven. He shows up to work an hour early and reviews his notes for the day. He reads newspapers, essays, and magazines. Debating in his head he thinks now he can make the words move and work for him.
When asked by his students why he became an English teacher, he replies that he believes there is no nobler profession than an educator—a potentate of potential, a facilitator of facilities, negotiator of knowledge, farming fragile faculties. He preaches the virtues of reading and rereading. He says it’s soul-inspiring, life-nourishing, life-saving. It’s the words that can do the work of saints and devils, and word-users anyway are paid more than mechanics.
He can shake the apathy off his shoulder, but he can’t shake it off the shoulder of a kid,
face-down, there and not there. But when he wakes up at dawn, runs, screams loud things in his head to scare off the shadow, comes to work early, does the debate in his head and then makes the words dance, he believes he can shake the apathy off the kid’s shoulder--hell, off anyone’s shoulder.
When he wakes up at dawn he thinks he can. If you can get a head start, if you can wake up when that alarm goes off, you can accomplish anything. You can shake off the disadvantages heaped on you for generations and accomplish those amazing feats that seem ordinary. If you can wake up before the sun you can wake up in the projects where you were born. Wake up, relive them, and run past them. You run past them so fast you run the next kid out of the ghetto with you.
He runs in a pretty average neighborhood, teaching and preaching to pretty average students, accomplishments so average you wouldn’t hang them on a wall anywhere except in the ghetto in your mind. Mr. Brown still lives there.
Mr. Brown thinks only of the ache in his feet, the debates in his head, and words moving like lightning.
Daniel Clausen’s fiction has been published in Slipstream Magazine, Zygote in my Coffee, Leading Edge Magazine, and Spindrift, among other literary journals. You can learn more about his newest novel, The Ghosts of Nagasaki, at:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Flash Fiction by Melissa Duclos

I Never Told Anyone About That Trip to Serendipity
            I was seven, and thought my father and I were going into the city for a special date. I’d gotten dressed up and had wanted only to order a fruit tart because it looked delicate and grown up inside the glass case. My father pushed for the hot fudge sundae, perhaps wanting something he knew would take me a long time to finish.
            He started up with his ums and ahs when I was just a few bites in, and as he continued talking I began shoveling larger and larger bites into my mouth, barely stopping to taste the ice cream or the chocolate sauce, feeling only the sticky film on my hand and the end of my spoon and around my mouth.
            When he finished talking, finally, we both sat staring at the cherry I’d left in the bowl, so red it was almost obscene, though that couldn’t have been what I thought at the time. He asked me then if I was going to eat it, as though it had been any other day and any other dessert and I leaned over and threw up beside the table. My vomit looked like some lunatic’s idea of happiness, just like my parents’ marriage.
Melissa Duclos received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and now works as a freelance writer and editor, and writing instructor. She is a regular contributor to the online magazine BookTrib, and the founder of The Clovers Project, which provides mentoring for writers at various stages in their careers. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Fiction Advocate, and Scéal literary journal Her first novel, Besotted, is a work of literary fiction set in Shanghai, for which she is seeking representation. She lives in Portland, OR, with her husband, two children, and Yorkshire Terrier, Saunders. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Flash Fiction by Mark Amidon

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
Perhaps she was inspired by the beautiful vista she could see from her ski chalet, the beautiful white snow coating the landscape, the crystalline beauty, the way everything looked like an iced cake, not an iced mountain range.  And when it occurred to Dr. Ingridsen that sugar was a simple hydrocarbon, C6H12O6, which was easily photosynthesized from carbon dioxide and water, she believed that she'd hit upon the cure for global warming.

When she returned to work, she got her team working on an airborne plankton, one which could take both carbon dioxide and water vapor from the air and excrete sugar.  Was it really as simple as it sounded?  Why hadn't the biosphere done it already?  The answer to that was that plants normally consumed the sugars they produced, but a few tweaks to the DNA put more emphasis on producing and excreting, with only a minor amount needing to be consumed.  The extra energy was sapped from the air's ambient temperature, as well as from sunlight.

Their first test was their last test, due to a broken seal in what was supposed to be an hermetic chamber.  At first, they were excited to see that CO2 and humidity levels in the chamber had dropped, and that a beautiful white precipitate was left on the floor.
But when they awoke the next morning, everything glittered.  Leaves of grass caught and turned the dawn's sunlight, refracting tiny rainbows, and making the whole area seem magical.  Everything, in every direction, was coated with an inviting frost.  Trees sparkled, their leaves iridesced, and children rapidly discovered that licking the bark was sweet.

Ants and bees and all manner of insects had also discovered this, and were swarming to get as much as possible back to their queens.  Many small birds delighted in this.
Roads proved to be a bit slick, but this was not discovered until after people had figured out that neither a simple pass of the windshield wipers nor a spritz of wiper fluid were sufficient to clear their views.  Worse, after an initial scrubbing, the non-vertical windows all became obstructed again when the vehicles weren't moving.

An early afternoon drizzle made the ground, the lawns, and the roads quite sticky.  Spray from passing tires soiled clothes and spattered spectacles.  Some noticed that their shoes would have to be gently pried from the sidewalk with each step after walking through any shallow puddle.  Some noticed the green haze in the puddles and the air above them.  Some noticed that the air was cleared by the rain, but that a green fog returned with the passing of the clouds.

Meteorologists began to notice as a front of frosting well above freezing was wending eastward from the town that held Dr. Ingridsen's laboratory.  Humidity levels were dropping, even as the sprinkling of sugar was falling.  Storms forecast for the afternoon proved to be nothing but showers, and showers forecast for the peripheries never happened.  Instead, the strangest form of snow, which wasn't snow, started to accumulate.
Some took advantage of this.  Annoyed that she had to bring her laundry from the clothesline and then wash it again, Mrs. Leigh suddenly stopped, snapped her fingers, then baked a pie and set it on the backyard picnic table to cool.  As she expected, the crust was delightfully glazed.
Of course, there were some grumblers.  Folks who were out for a hike noticed that the insects were abundant, and that they had to wash down their backpacks and hair.  The water from the ponds and streams was no good for this, as it was all sweet to the taste and didn't clean well at all.  They also saw that pine needles were sticking together in clumps.

As the day started winding down, Dr. Ingridsen had no choice but to report her team's accidental release of their noble experiment.  She initially spoke with her laboratory's administrator, and together they informed their funding board.  After a brief flirtation with the idea of covering up their involvement, everyone agreed that things were getting even further out of control, and that some form of disaster agency needed to be told.  More meteorologists were brought in, and many reported that the drop in humidity that accompanied the flurry of sugar also led to a thinning of the airborne plankton, and so the whole thing should reach a new equilibrium soon.  Everyone exhaled great relief.

Then the fires started.
Mark Amidon has too many things going on in his professional and family life to be sitting down and writing like this.  He has a wife, two teenage daughters, two cats, and a retired dog, not to mention an entire internet to correct.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Flash Fiction by Alan Catlin

Her motto was: "The other side of life."
In the eyes of a smiling death head tattoo; matching yellow butterflies.
Lying on the love seat, alone, caressing a wooden crucifix, she watches Kiss of a Vampire.
Reading Keats, she escapes The Chase of The Urn, becomes caught in Le Belle Dame Sans Merci.
In the night, parted ceiling tiles revealing worlds trapped inside.
Watermarks bleed through waxed papers when exposed to the burning light.
Cracked mirrors reveal nothing, shadows hide the emptiness, the soul.
She wakes in the morning wrapped in torn bed sheets whisper­ing of The Mummies Curse.
Broken stakes mark the receding staircase to the sun.
Steam escaping from frozen vent pipes fogs the textured bathroom glass, rasping the air.
Her skin slides from her bones like wax work.
A stopped pocket watch held in a flat palm, bent hands leaking time.
Kissing the lips of a Fata Morgana, sipping the breath of forgetfulness.
She comes in colors like a rainbow, etched in acid, strung out on radio waves.
Sitting  in darkness, watching candles light implode, tiny worlds, declining orbits around a flickering sun.
Crystallized light reflects in the broken prisms of her eyes.
Sipping red wine from the death head, stains leaking from the eye sockets like butterflies escaping.

In the palm, the lifeline extends, the future a thin fila­ment of sealing wax.
Her jagged teeth cuts lines of flesh on glass.
Dust devils touch the wings of yellow butterflies stretched taut as flexed muscles.
Her lips extend, a lamia kiss, a taste of bella donna, sweet as blood in the mouth of a dead poet.
Tiny diamond tongue studs are for traction touching skin.
Smoke hardens like wax skin on bones of flickering light.
A hot shower of quicksilver leaves puddles of pointillist light, carved images in the shape of a cross.
Standing silhouetted against an empty window, her body is a transparency veined by an absence of light.
Negative light at the center of light reveals yellow butter­flies poised for flight.
She whispers in the ear of the hourglass sifting time in­stead of sand.
Behind the silent television glass, the voices of dead poets crack against the unyielding surface.
All attempts at flying met with a sky like ice.
Glowing death heads impaled on poles like street lights illuminate electric butterflies.        Bodiless, she encounters sleep in the waxed eyes of butter­flies pinned to flesh.
"And this is why I sojourn here alone and palely loitering: though the Sedge  is withered from the Lake and no bird sing."
The moon is a field of death heads lit by butterflies.
The red wine of dreams puddles in palms of wax.
She sings  high c notes that crack like ice.

A puff adder in a dream of shallow waters stares through her eyes, splits the surface.
Snow falls inside broken glass, bleeding white hard blue lips, leaving a residue like ash.
Silence in polished stones inhabits the dark, casting melt­ing shadows that come in flocks like crows.
Through the wind screams of a sea of forgetfulness her hair is a kinetic, flashing fire.
The hand cupping a candle's flame feels the heat it cannot expire.
Her hands pressing against cold window glass feel the rain beading inside like wax, like blood.
The lifeline of yellow butterflies extends from the palm to the mind.
Her face painted for a masked ball is a yellow butterfly, each eye centers  an unfolding wing.
Pinned to a love seat cushion a specimen  sealed by wax.
Polishing her crystal ball, the glass becomes a glowing death head, yellow eyes forecasting the future.
Light skins a waxed skull held tightly for dreaming.
Her eyes are split movie screens, one side showing The Hun­ger, the other Bride of Frankenstein; her dreams caught in be­tween.
The full moon, eclipsed sinks in the desert melting like stones, like wax.
Her fingers are bones of butterflies tracing lines like veins on her cheeks, hollowing the bones of her face.
She sees herself framed in a mirror cracked by electricity, glowing, turning black and transparent like a waxed full moon.
She is she.
Alan Catlin has published in many forms and prose genres from flash fiction to novel length works, from surreal horrific fictions to gritty realistic.  A novella based on his bar work experiences is called “From the Waters of Oblivion”. Despite his adamant insistence people still refuse to believe it is fiction.  It most defiantly is": no one could be that obnoxious and tend bas as long as the main character did.