Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Flash Fiction by Linda M. Crate


The real monsters aren't vampires, werewolves, things that go bump in the night, or things with claws--the real monsters are like you and me.  Sometimes they are you and me.

I don't think anyone really plans on becoming a murderer.  It isn't something that you discuss over cornflakes with your parents or something that you think about when you're pouring yourself a glass of orange juice.  At least, not if you're me.

For me, it was an impulse.  Once I couldn't ignore.

I was a chimera so I knew that I wouldn't easily be caught.  Chimeras are rare, if you have any idea what I'm talking about.  You probably don't so let me enlighten you--I have two different sets of DNA coursing through my veins.  It makes getting away with murder all the more easier.  Especially when your DNA doesn't match what they have at the crime scene.

I think my parents knew--how could they not?  But they didn't say anything.  Almost as if it were an unspoken agreement between the three of us.  It wasn't something to be conversed about.  I can't exactly think of a good way to bring about the topic:  "Hey, son, did you kill that girl on the subway yesterday?  Oh, by the way you have a message on the answering machine."  Yes, that was never going to happen and we all knew it.

Yet one day our unspoken agreement was broken.

"You can't keep going on like this."

"Like what, dad?"

"You think we don't know?"

"I never said that you didn't."

"You do know what I'm talking about don't you?"

"Of course, I do.  I thought we had an agreement.  Not to talk about it."

"We did, of course, but you've taken it too far.  We never should have let it get to this point."

Let it?  He thought that he had any control over me, at all?  Now that was funny.  "I'm not going to stop. I can't."

"Then let me help you."

"You can't."  Yet he wouldn't relent.  Finally, I sliced through his abdomen.  I watched with relish as the blood spilled all over the floor like red wine.  The acrid taste of salt filled my mouth when I licked the knife clean.  "I told you that you couldn't help me.  But, no, you had to insist.  See what good that did?"

Then, of course, my mother threatening to call the cops on me was another brilliant idea.  So I had to kill her as well.  She went down a lot harder than dad, ended up scratching me several times.  I slapped her hard across the face, broke her nose and her ribs, and then I stabbed her forty seven times.  Yes, I kept track.  I'm neurotic like that.

I incinerated the bodies in my parents creator so no one would come sniffing around for them, cleaned up the blood and went to school like any other day.  You may call me a monster, and you would be right.  I'm a chimera.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flash Fiction by Jim Meirose

Time Passes; Time Goes

The small frame house set in the edge of a development of identical houses two miles over the hill from the Rocky Hill Quarry.  The sound of the blasting from the quarry went on all day, all night, all year, every day and the sound swept across the development seeping into the kitchens and dining rooms and bedrooms of all the houses, including the small frame house where Tom sat at the head of the kitchen table eating his breakfast before leaving to catch the banged-up yellow bus at the corner for school.  His Mother bustled in a flowered apron putting away dishes and pots and pans she was retrieving from the dishwasher.  It being spring, the windows were open and through the screens came the distant rumbling of the blasting that punctuated the entire breakfast, indeed, that punctuated their very lives.  They were having a conversation about a question Tom had asked about the ocean.

Why doesn't the ocean water just soak into the ground and go away like it does when I dig a hole and fill it from the house and it just soaks away into the ground?  And the lakes and rivers--and all that?

I don't know, said Mother, struggling to put a glass pot onto a top shelf.  The glass rattled and clattered making shards of sharp sound in the air like it was breaking but it wasn't breaking.

Do you think Dad would know?

Rumbling rolled in from the direction of the quarry through the yielding rusty screen but they weren't hearing it anymore; it was real as the walls and floors and ceiling were real; the kind of real that isn't noticed any more.

Dad, yes, she said, closing the cabinet--Dad would know the answer to that.

She stopped short of saying but Dad is because in her mind Dad was not and the rumbling blasts went off in a sudden string, and Dad would be home later to answer the question but too late to see Tom they worked very late at the quarry that was what she said--

I can ask Dad when he comes home tonight, she told Tom.

But why can't I stay up and ask Dad?

Dad will be home very late again.  They work late at the quarry--

The distant rumbling crackled hard fading all around them.

Tom sat back holding up a fork of eggs.

Yes because I'm a little afraid Mom--I'm afraid the Ocean will someday be like the little holes I did.  All empty and then we won't be able to go there anymore.

Oh no, she said--that won't happen--oh, and oh yes I need to tell you.  Dad will be staying at the men's quarters at the quarry this weekend--he called.  He told me.  They got a lot of work to do over there so he needs to stay over and work the weekend and there's no point in driving back and forth when he can just stay there.  They're working double shifts.

None of this meant anything to Tom except he would not see his Dad for even longer and the explosions in the distance continued--strings of explosives were being set off.  They must be bringing down whole walls; whole walls of stone.

So when will I see Dad?

Oh, she said, pulling back her hair--next week probably--no not probably.  For sure.  For sure.

Why is he working so much?

The money is tremendous, she exclaimed.  That's why he's doing it.  For the money--but now you never mind Tom.  Eat your eggs.  The bus will come soon.

She put her hand to her forehead and a thought crossed her mind.

--everything passes; time passes until buses come; water passes away into the ground; next week will come because time passes what will I do next week after that time passes what will I tell him then--and will the oceans really empty in that time in that time--

Oh if everything would just stand still stand still--

Distant crackling rumble; then a great blast.  Echo, fade, silence.

Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Blueline, Ohio Edit, Bartleby Snopes, Innocate, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards.  Two collections of his short work and three novels have been published.  Two new novels will be released in 2015 and 2016 by Montag Press.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Flash Fiction by Paul Smith

Shine a Light

"She's been missing since Friday and you're not worried?"

"Of course I'm worried."

"You don't act worried."

"She's our daughter.  She's done this before."

"Not a whole weekend.  I think you are the problem, you and your male indifference.  You are why she did this."

"It's not me."

"Who is it, then?"

"It's Heisenberg."

"Who?  Who's Heisenberg?  The football guy or the guy in the band?"

"A scientist."

"Now she's hooking up with a scientist?"

"No.  Heisenberg had a theory about atoms.  When you shine a light on them, their electrons react to the light.  So you can't predict their behavior.  His theory is called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Theory.  It applies to teenagers too.  The more scrutiny you put on a teenager, the more he or she will avoid your scrutiny.  And that's our daughter Kate -- the avoider of our scrutiny.  So I say we go to bed, and she'll show up."

"When?  When will she show up?"

"When she feels no scrutiny."

"How is that?"

"Turn out the lights."

"I'm worried about her."

"Me too, but this lamp in the living room is emitting millions of electrons that are laughing at us.  We'll go to bed and turn off their laughter."

"You are impossible!  Alright, the lights are out.  Now what?"


"I'm not good at patience."

"You would make a terrible neutron or proton.  All we do is sit around the nucleus and watch electrons."

"My husband -- the proton."

"Hear that?"

"Yes, the back door."


"Mom?  Dad?  Why are the lights out?  It's only nine o'clock."

"We were going to bed."

"Me too. Good night."


"Don't mom.  Don't."

"I'm just going to turn on the lights."

"See?  It's me."

"I know dear.  I just wanted to be certain."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Flash Fiction by Duane L. Herrmann

A Good Night to Burn

As the sun set and the air cooled, the wind stopped. A rainstorm was coming.  I could burn tonight and the rain would cancel any remains of the fire.  I had cleared brush, cut down a few small trees that were growing too close together and collected wind-fallen branches to get them out of the way of the mower.  This work is my exercise, much cheaper than a gym and more interesting than repetitive exercises.  I have enough to do that will last me the rest of my life, even if I live to be a hundred!

I had invited some friends to share the fire with their children to make the evening more interesting, and they did.  While there was still daylight, I invited the children to hunt for bones in the recently burned meadows.  The grass had been burned a few weeks before to remove the dead grass from last year so only new grass will be present for mowing this year.

The boys delighted in finding bones, most were leg bones, some ribs and a jaw, with teeth.  They were trophies of the hunt!

The bones were the remains of a deer killed by unknown causes, but not atypical, just part of the natural cycle of life.  The number of deer had risen over my lifetime.  When I was a child the sighting of a deer was extremely rare.  Now there are small herds all throughout the neighborhood and many people have had the experience of hitting a deer.  I have, my son has; it is now a fairly common occurrence.  Drivers have had to become much more cautious.

Live animals were also exciting.  One large, flat rock I had picked up to move, only to find a nest of baby snakes underneath.  I quickly replaced the rock in hopes that I had not disturbed the snakes or crushed any in replacing the rock.  I asked the children what they thought might be living under the rock and they had no clue.  When I raised the rock, they squalled and jumped in surprise.  I was able to catch one of the snakes and held it so they could touch it, but none wanted to do that.  The experience must have given them courage though, they went on to catch their own wild life.

There is a creek at the bottom of the hill and playing in the water led to seeing the small frogs out early in the spring.  Tiny jumping frogs were too much of a temptation to resist.  Eventually one of the children managed to catch one of the frogs, which had to be brought to the adults to see.  Unexpectedly, the only way the frog could be seen was to open the hands holding it, and the frog, desperate to escape, jumped!  That led to a merry chase, which the frog eventually lost.  The children, though, were persuaded to return the frog to the creek where it had the water it needed to survive and live.  The children understood the reasonableness of that, and returned it home.

I started the fire and when it had burned down, we began to cook food:  sausages, hot dogs, peppers in a variety of colors and, finally, marshmallows for dessert.  Instead of the traditional graham crackers and chocolate bars, we used chocolate coated cookies!

Periodically, as the fire died down, I would add more burnables from another pile.  The most exciting were cedar trees whose resin is flammable.  They grow like weeds, so there were many to cut and burn.  The fire would blaze up, exciting the children.  As a treat, I would let them, one at a time, throw another small tree on the fire.  One said it was as exciting as fireworks on the Forth of July.

As the night wore on, I added the contents of at least eight piles I had gathered in as many places I had cleared nearby.  This was all done in darkness.

I am eager to see what the area looks like when I return again in daylight, to see the newly cleared spaces as truly empty.

Duane L. Herrmann is a survivor who writes so that he can breathe and prefers to be out in the country under the trees with a breeze.  And he likes to burn!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Flash Fiction by Stephen V. Ramey

A Moment When I Was Young

Lisa was my roommate's girlfriend.  Pretty, perky, quick to quip, she would have been perfect for me.  But, of course, we would never have met if not for Felix.  And Felix was my friend.

I ran into her at a Kappa Sigma party, a start-of-Fall mixer where would-be pledges drool over the seeming ease with which members take down their drunken prey.  She stood by the wall, swaying to the flow of some mysterious melody hidden within the pounding percussion coming from oversized speakers at the other end of the room.  Drunk freshmen gathered around a keg on ice awaiting their turn to show off.  I had my own buzz on, but nothing like theirs.

"Hey," I said, and Lisa's gaze pulled into focus.

"Jeffrey!" she said with a grin.  She was the only person who called me that, and it connected us somehow.

"Where's Fel--"

"Studying.  I didn't want to distract him."  She lifted a plastic glass, nearly empty.

"Want me to get you another beer?"  I said.

That crooked smile.  "Always the gentleman."

"That's me," I said.  "Gentleman Jeff."  I reached for her glass, but she pulled it back and slipped her other arm around my waist.

"Dance with me."  She leaned until my arm went around her, hand pressed flat to her back.  I felt the delicious curve of her spine, the movement of her hips, that deep softness in her soul.  It was too much, too fast.

"I don't dance."  I stepped back; she came with me.

"You're dancing now."

I glanced at my feet trying to escape.  That's not dancing, I started to say.  Our eyes met.  I wanted to look away.  I wanted to kiss her.

And then she was laughing again.  Her arm dropped, and we stood in place, alone in the cacophony.

"Unknown forces," she said, and the smile faded.  "Vast, unknowable forces at work in the world."

"What do you --"

"Do you want to know how Jesus walked on water?  Would you like to understand that miracle?"

I nodded, too perplexed not to.

Lisa tipped her glass until beer trickled.  There wasn't much, but enough to make a splatter.  She stepped onto the puddle and an image flashed through me of Jesus -- the long-haired Caucasian Jesus of my childhood indoctrination -- stepping from the boat, Peter watching with such wonderful wonder that I felt it seeping into me too.

"See?" Lisa said.  She dropped the cup and gazed into my eyes.  "Sometimes we make it too complicated."

Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania.  His work has appeared in many places, including prior Kind of a Hurricane Press anthologies, and his first collection of (very) short fiction, Glass Animals, is available where fine books are e-sold.  For more literary adventure, see www.stephenvramey.com

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flash Fiction from April Salzano

Merry Maids

I remember singing a jingle I made up for whatever cleaning product I was using, something about hard water being no match for me.  Hard water, hard water, hard water, was the refrain.  I don't recall the rest.  I was eleven, the same age one of my boys is now.  It seemed old at the time.  Maybe in the 80's we were more mature than kids are today.  I scrubbed my father's bathroom till it sparkled.

It was the first time he had invited us over since the divorce.  My mom dropped my two sisters and me off without breaking the new barrier of the front door.  That must have been weird since she used to live there.  I am divorced myself and setting up boundaries was no easy task.  My ex would come over to visit the boys and walk back to the bathroom, or open the refrigerator like he owned the place and it would always make me feel uneasy.  I never did figure out a good way to tell him he should ask first.

Dad asked me what we wanted to clean and I think bathroom was my first choice, but I don't remember for sure.  I may have just as easily said vacuum or kitchen floor.  Thinking back, I can't come up with a reason I would want to clean his toilet.  I was still working on that rust-colored streak from the tub when Dad asked did I want something to drink.

"Yeah, I'll have a beer," I said.  I didn't think he'd say yes, so when he did I had no choice but to feign indifference, which at eleven isn't easy to do.  I worked on the beer while I touched up the fixtures, watching myself drink it in the mirror, considering what kind of commercial I could make for drinking and cleaning before I started on the linoleum.  Dad said he had to go meet his new girlfriend.  He said he wouldn't leave if she didn't have such a sweet ass.  She was nineteen and had gotten him a kitten so I imagined he felt indebted.  He said we could have one more beer before Mom cane to pick us up.  When implicated, he later said he meant one more total, to split between the three of us, but I'm pretty sure he would have known that would never work out.

We were totally shitfaced at 5 p.m. when Mom arrived to take us to grandma's for Christmas Eve dinner.  Just before dinner she noticed we were not acting stupid in our usual way, but on a whole new level of stupid.  "You're drunk!" she said, more revelation than accusation.

I lifted my grandma's burning cigarette from its resting place in the ashtray, tapped off the long, lacy ash and put it to my lips.  "We were cleaning for Dad and he said we could have a beer," I said with my newfound maturity.  "No biggie."

My mom called my father.  I don't remember what happened beyond that.  I may have passed out or thrown up.  Or both.  But since that Christmas, I have never cleaned my bathroom without cracking open a cold one and singing a hard water jingle to pass the time.

April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons.  She is currently working on a memoir on raising a child with autism and several collections of poetry.  Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in journals such as Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, DeadSnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle.  Her first chapbook, The Girl of My Dreams, is forthcoming in spring, 2015 from Dancing Girl Press.  The author serves as co-editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press (www.kindofahurricanepress.com).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Flash Fiction by Lorette C. Luzajic

August, and Everything Before

"Dad might love mushrooms, you never know," you said.  We'd been talking about psilocybin.  "We could just lay in the canoe or something and talk about the Psalms."

I had missed you so much until this moment.  For now, the chasm seemed far away.  I carried this empty weight of missing you with nonchalance, but it was a fumbling performance.

"Well?" you asked.  "What do you think?"  One of your gifts was to create ridiculous juxtapositions.  You paired unexpected elements together, and you saw possibilities.  These were mischievous, exuberant moments when random ideas flashed through your mind.  This picture of our father tripping on psychedelics was unforgettable.  We hadn't spoken this freely to one another for a long time.

When I was small and you were still in the bassinet, I had night terrors where you would be decapitated or suspended by quivering arrows to a tree or smothered in a spider's web.  They were gruesome tableaus.  I was choked by panic.  The ferocity of my fear of losing you was disturbing.  I was too small to analyze my primitive fears, to see how I saw that you would be swallowed and taken from me.  I would find out later that losing someone sometimes happens in increments.

"Awake, harp and lyre!" you said.  Then, "I will awaken the dark . . . Do you think Jim Morrison was referencing this Psalm in her song?"

Awake . . . shake the dreams . . . my pretty child . . . choose the day . . . I knew instantly what you meant; thought of how we sailed across the desert in our pick-up years ago.  How we almost got away.

I was about to say I doubted it, but wondered whether I was underestimating the rock star.  Jim.  With age I had become repulsed by details about pony leather and pissing on stage.  Once a god, now dust.  Still, his poetry did have something of the Old Testament in it, after all.

"And you?" I said.  "Where do you stand?"

"I stand on a house of sand," you said and shrugged.  You smiled that broken smile.

You went over to your turntable and flipped a record into place.  The Stones.

"I don't know," you said.  "Dad would have to give up his assumptions and prepare himself for the trip, you know?"  It took me a moment to remember what we were talking about.  "The trip couldn't be spontaneous if it was going to work.  He'd have to go about it carefully and read up and stuff.  But I really think once he wrapped his mind around the idea, he could really do it, he could go inside."

"He'd have to pray about it first," I said, and we both laughed.  The moment was easygoing and I tried to cling to it, fearing slippery hands.

All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll . . . 

I picture you and our father in the dark, paddles sluicing deep water, the psilocybin swirling through you like stars.

And so I asked, since tonight we weren't quite the hesitant strangers time had made us.  I asked about our mother.  You seized up a bit, you started to turn back inward.

"She's okay," you said finally, and something dark and oily flickered in your eyes.  But then it was gone.

Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men.  For you alone have been my hope, O my God, my confidence since my youth.

"Forget it," I said then.  There wasn't really much to say.  I've forgiven her and moved on.  You haven't moved on, and have not forgiven her.  You cannot.  One can only forgive things that are past.

To change the topic, I went back to where we'd started.  "So what do you believe now?" I asked.

"Oh, I still believe," you said, and you didn't hesitate.  I'd always admired your certainty.  "It's different from how church described it, but it's powerful stuff."

I picture the two of us drifting through the dark, tossed by choppy waters.  I pictured how it was, you the only one who could calm her, and how she used that like a leash.

It was amazing, really, how the storm of her, so intense, would abate whenever you came when she called.

Look, I remember thinking, with bitterness and a little envy, look, even the wind and the waves obey him.

Lorette C. Luzajic is a writer, artist and photographer living in Toronto, Ontario.  Her poetry and fiction has been published in over 100 journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Modern Poetry, Poetry Canada, Every Day Fiction, Grain, Rattle, the Fiddlehead, Quarry Magazine, and more.  She is the author of several books of poetry, fiction and essays, including The Astronaut's Wife:  Poems of Eros and Thanatos, Solace Funny Stories bout Depression, and Fascinating People.  For more information, and to see her mixed media collage paintings and photos, visit her at www.ideafountain.ca.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Flash Fiction by Emma Whitehall

Midnight on the Pier

Emily would have recognized Beth's silhouette anywhere.  Even bundled up in her thick trench coat, it was obvious.  The way she stood--her weight on one hip, hands stuffed into her pockets.  Emily's heart thudded in her chest as Beth turned.  Suddenly, she was very aware that she was being seen, and who was seeing her.  Her steps faltered, ever so slightly.

They'd met by the sea, on a night a lot like this one.  The moon was a silver coin, sitting just under the waves.  Far out, tidal rocks looked like a rip in the water.  There was a moment when their eyes met; They almost ran to each other, grabbed each other, kissed until they thought they'd die.  Emily knew how Beth would taste; like cool water and salt.  But they didn't.  They looked at the sea, at the sky, at the wooden slats of the pier; anywhere but at each other.

It has been six months.

"I got your text."

"Yeah.  How you been?"

"Yeah, ok.  Got a new job.  You?"

"Not so good."

They paused. Their hands nearly touched.

". . . so . . . "

"I can't take it anymore, Em.  It's too loud, too dry.  And I'm lonely."

"I thought you were happy here?"

Beth turned.  Her eyes caught the moonlight.  Her eyes had always made the breath hitch in Emily's chest.  They were so brown, the pupils were almost lost.  She was used to those eyes being lit up--with wonder, with curiosity, with laughter and with love.  A thousand "first times" flooded through Emily's head.  But now, those eyes shimmered with tears and confusion.

"I was happy with you."

With a glance at the sea, Beth pulled the coat tighter around herself.

"Is there any way . . . ?"

". . . I don't know."

A sad smirk.

"That means no.  You forget I know you, babe."

That word hung like a noose around their necks.  Emily wanted to grab Beth by the lapels.  Beg her to stay.  Tell her all the things that had been flooding her mind since her phone had flashed "New Message from Beth" that morning.  Tell her things would change, that she would change.

But instead, she said "If you ever come back . . . "

Beth kissed her.  Just once; chaste, on the lips.  Pulled the hood over her sleek hair.

Then, she jumped.

Emily stood for a long time.  Long after the seagulls had stopped screaming, after the waves had calmed.  After Beth's tail had disappeared under the waves.  All there was to show she was ever there was a wisp of sea foam, wrapping itself around the supports of the pier.  Beth hadn't looked back.  Emily turned for home.  As she walked, she heard seals baying.

Emma Whitehall is a writer and spoken-word performer based in the North East of England.  She specializes in Flash Fiction and poetry, focusing around horror and dark fantasy themes.  Her work has been featured in literary and genre magazines on both sides of the Atlantic; her paranormal love story "Waiting" has been translated into Spanish, and her short story "Shed" was featured in a charity anthology for the American independent publishing company, Hazardous Press.  She has released two self-published collection of stories and poetry--"Kallisto's Tale" in 2012, and "Dust Motes and Faded Green Velvet" in 2014.  Both can be purcahsed in Paperback and eBook format from lulu.com or amazon.co.uk

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Flash Fiction by Alan Catlin

TV Junkies

A plaster cast drawn over the tightened skin forming a mask.  A hollow place inside the head, images of death are reflected on.  The end of what was known flashing by on radar screening.  A patterned scream, horrific yelling.  Inside the trapezoid night, waxed faces of the fetishist:  limbless wax dummies cast on iron racks, toys for iron maidens, hard rock cafes on the edge of the mind, the edge of dreaming here, plugged into this visceral space.  A spliced heart wired to convex mirrors, diamond pointed scrolls upon which a tabula rasa is erased.  A clean slate made delirious by its lack of vision, clarity barred by text of off-centered light, of off-putting lecturing voices, each equal in inanity, in intensity:  insanity a delirium tremens of the senses withdrawing into the ovoid, the electronic night.

Plugged in is a reason for living.  Heaven helps those who tune in.  Drop out, withdraw, or are withdrawn, out here in sub-context land, where all the wax figures are the enlivened, emboldened, with a slimiy substance like flesh, cool to the touch as a cavern wall.

Inside, a hecatomb of buzzing symbols, electric like neon birds, insects from an awakening into a world of pure sensation; cloned to death and mindless ministrations, wired your whole brain like a cathode tube ligation substituting image for the word, the text, the spinal drip of a prolegomena of pure unreason filtered directly through a drawn screen to the brain.  Everything reduced to images on waxed paper, a thing that adheres to fly paper, a thing that sticks and holds but cannot retain.

Inside the image is of the clipped wings of flightless birds, leaning into nothing, an utterance, obscene as a chorale of the damned, a new year's eve of banshees wailing their greatest hits coming right at you baby:  "Carpe diem, carpe diem, sing children sing well it's an old cliche but you'd better make your love today . . ."

"This way to the monkey house of hell, come see the exeunt, one way only no exit, no return, there's one born every minute baby, that's what cable TV is for get hooked up today . . ."

"Monday nothing, Tuesday nothing, Wednesday lots more nothing, Thursday for a change a little more nothing Friday once more nothing . . ."

Brains waved here, waved into another millennium, a factory for the foolhardy on the burning boats up and down the lazy rivers of hell.  Loss of sensation the price you pay for going through all these things twice . . . 

johnny walker wisdom from the red waters of oblivion . . . 

TV junkies plugged into remote wires, cable ready, accessible as another hookup another line, sensaround inside a human head as the last unconquered space, a black hole, an event horizon of the pupil, the dying light of eyes crushed into marble, a supernova sun going out, a test pattern for the final apocalyptic glow, the test patterned end . . . "do not adjust your set, this is not a test . . ." this is reality baby, the outer  limits is happneing here, in your head, and for an extra fifteen dollar a cellular minute, you too can have it all, every one of those lost horizon dreams, a mona lisaed overdrive, straight down into the old blood stream, that old glory yeah! let it wave, "at half mast for the ones who died, for the matadors who turn to the crowd, but all cheers were for the bull . . ." armchair length, extended as magic fingers reaching out into the carbolic night, the new Valhalla hall for the indentured heroes, indebted for life and afterlife, no glory in that, is there muchacho?  It's too late baby, no looking back now, "forget the dead they will not follow you, the carpet too is moving under you oh it's all over now baby blue . . ." you're plugged in the world as an unstable isotope, a hallelujah, happy birthday of death hit parade, a flashman flicker of final image just before the end of broadcasting, the darkness at the end of the tunnel, the burning glitch in the programming no one has learned yet to correct, yes language really is a virus, Virginia and it's coming to a brain near you, that's what death really is here plugged in, unplugged---------------------------

Alan Catlin has published in many forms and many genres.  His last collection of short stories is Death Angels (Four-Sep Press).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Flash Fiction by James G. Piatt

An Erroneous Conclusion

He noticed a cigar stub in an ashtray when he entered the living room.  His anger flared, and he threw the ashtray against the wall.

His wife ran into the room.  "What happened, Dan?"

"I saw the cigar stub, damn it, who is he?"

"Who is who?  That was a stupid question.  There is no he, I . . . "

She never had the chance to explain anything; a knife went deep into her breast.

The telephone rang.  He grabbed it.

"Is Mrs. Long there?"

"No, why?  Who the hell are you?"

"I'm Harvey at the tobacco store.  Her favorite Cuban cigars just arrived.  She asked me to call her when they arrived.  It's funny how many women love cigars now, don't you think?"

James G. Piatt earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.  His Science Fiction novel, "The Ideal Society," was published in 2012.  His dark thriller, "The Monk," was published in May of 2013.  His third novel, "The Nostradamus Conspiracy," will be released in 2015.  He has also had 34 short stories, and 7 essays published.  His books can be found on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Flash Fiction by Joan McNerney

Celestial Garden

Winds rocked the sycamore tree.  Had the same God who formed this sycamore created that cancer her mother died of?  It had been one year . . . a year to this date when Gloria became trapped within the sharp jaws of grief.  Mother died her swollen eyes closed forever.  Just a memory now memories touching her face her hair.  So good, kind . . . what was the use of being wise and tender when all die?

Gloria lived alone in the desolate apartment.  "Pearl Court" incised in capital letters over the buildings front door.  She had been there for so long listening to cries and laughter.  Intimate murmurs, sighs of dejection sounding through hallways.  Her neighbors bound together by bricks but living separate lives.  Their days chains of orderly minutes as night follows noon seasons grow from each other.

They lived without distinction having no hand to record their strong feelings.  Only Pearl Court on Benson Avenue made record of them.  Its stained walls held their marks.  Some would say they needed little attention for playing such a miniature role in the greater theater of life.  In a trance they rushed back and forth with laundry newspapers food.  And the children kept singing . . . songs taught from one child to another.  Handballs pounding against court yard walls skipping and jumping up down stairs hop scotch hide and go seek.

Everybody agreed Gloria had done everything for her.  Perhaps too much especially towards the end . . . always working helping her mother.  She hurried home with medicine, carrying heavy bags of groceries, rushing to cook some nourishing food.  Endless cleaning tidying piles of laundry to wash.  She arranged medical appointments wrote checks handled mail balanced accounts.  Then there were all the little things.  Turn up the radio.  Turn it down.  Run out for candy.  See what would be on television.  Pick up newspapers.  Find something cool to drink.  Make something hot.  Finally there was nothing to do but light candles of remembrance.

Long branches crisscrossed skies.  Newspapers scrapped along sidewalks.  Cats howled in the cold night.  Small pools of light shining from street lamps while raindrops fell like black ink.  Cars barely paused at stop signs.  A few passersby straggled along bending their separate ways against the cold.  Heads dropped in collars, hands clutching coats close . . . all were intent on ending this day.

She couldn't stop thinking of him.  No way no matter how hard she tried.  Gloria kept retracing that afternoon.  Was it so long ago?  Wandering the bay together passing streets trimmed with trees.  Surrendering to his strong arms listening to waves splash against rocks.  It was not so long ago.  Sunset colored water . . . pink red violet.  They watched gulls fly in circles as light caught their wing tips.  Around around in circles over clouds . . . sea gulls flying . . . white sprays in an ocean of blue.

They kissed fervently.  The train took them to his place, to a room without time.  She recalled every second.  How he caressed her face while touching her breasts.  Him so hungry devouring every crease of her body.  So thirsty drinking from her breasts and vulva.  Her covering him with kisses tasting his semen.  The thumbing and the gathering of them again and again.  He watched her climb a staircase back to the station.  Like a butterfly hidden within a soft flower, she waved goodbye.  With her scent all over his clothes, he saw her board the next train.  Gone.

Gloria had little experience with romance.  Not fast like some girls, her quiet manner left neighborhood boys perplexed.  They expected to show her off and find their way to her bed.  Why should she share intimacy with someone she hardly knew and barely liked?  Let this be a lesson to her what must have been a one night stand for him.

Now she was alone struggling within herself.  Time and memory of their time filtered through her mind.  Spellbound she was awake alive in love for a few minutes and then once again submerged . . . eyes veiled head lowered as if in a fog.  An unrelieved landscape of cement stretching before her.

Stretching now both arms finding the comforter, big yawns collapsing her body curled up like a question mark.  Adjusting her pillow and blanket she relaxed in bed . . . gathered calmness around her, holding a few kind memories to press within her.  Entering ebony night, she came upon a dreamscape of hills full of heather fragrant pink heather.  Who was that standing waiting on the top peak?  Whose arms were tossing star seeds into heaven . . . planting empty fields of night with rows of light?

Joan McNerney's poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Camel Saloon, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Spectrum, and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of a Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Anthologies.  She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net, Poet and Geek Recognized her work as their best poem of 2013.  Four of her books have been published by fine small literary presses and she has four ebook titles.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Flash Fiction by George Welling

The Killing Fields

The view from the cockpit of the Messerschmitt BF-109 had to be amazing, not because the view of Belgium is particularly nice in the winter or something that you would want to write home about, but his view would almost certainly be more appealing than mine.  At least he has the small villages and patterns of the countryside to break up his thoughts.  He was probably thinking how he would have a cot to flop onto for a couple of hours when his patrol ended, and if luck remained at his side, maybe, just maybe, if luck is still on his side, a cup of coffee as well.  What I would do for a cup of warm coffee right now, even if it was horrible.  Thinking about what the Luftwaffe airman's future would or wouldn't hold as he flew overhead, kept me distracted for what seemed like hours, but I know in reality it is only for a few minutes.  I find it easier, if I daydream a little here, a little there.  It beats the alternative, staring at the back of the head of one of the other 83 poor souls marching with me.  Staring at the helmet made me wonder what its owner is thinking.  I wonder what he thought war would be like when he signed his enlistment papers.  I am sure he too was drunk on the romance of war, the battles, and the brotherhood.  It really doesn't matter because, like me, he too thought he would be fighting the German's rather than being their prisoner of war.

It seems like days have passed since we were caught off guard, but it had only been a few hours.  Looking back on it, we all thought the war was going to be over soon.  Caught off guard, the constant falling snow, and Christmas a little over a week away had taken its toll on our unit's morale.  The orders we had been given were simple.  Join up with the 7th Armored Division to reinforce the town of St. Vith from the German advance.  Simple.

Our convoy consisted of close to 30 trucks.  Troops were in about half of the trucks and the rest were carrying supplies.  Fuel, food, and some ammunition.  I sat in the back of the second truck next to Duck.  Duck grew up on a farm from Illinois and he got his name, not because he was always crouching down with his head down low, but because of how the top of his jawline stuck out from his face due to his buckteet.  You couldn't look at him without immediately thinking of a duck's bill.  He enlisted because he didn't want to die on a farm his family had owned for the past several generations.  Instead, he wanted to see the world, and he had hopes of one day going to college to learn about business and open a small feed store back home.  

There is a saying we all know:  you don't really get to know someone until you have shared a foxhole.  If I wanted to or not, I got to know Duck over the two years we spent digging foxholes all over Europe.

Most of the guys will tell you in the theater of operation no one is looking for friends.  You have the guys you went through basic training with, but as they get picked off one by one, you aren't really looking for replacement buddies.  Sometimes in small talk or mail call you might find someone from the same state you came from.  Even if it is on the other side of the state, an instant bond is formed.  Almost as if they were your neighbor, but that's about it.  That was the case with Hershel.  Hershel came from the same state as me.  Montana.  Think about it, what are the chances that someone else from Montana of all places would be assigned to the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion in Europe in 1944?  Chances are not very high.  Hershel was a few inches taller than me, clocking it at just over 6 feet, skinny as a rail, but strong as an ox.  He never said much, but was always someone you could count on in a firefight and that said a lot.  One time in southern France, our unit was sent in to sweep a nameless village on the map for German troops.

I drew point.  Point, the unlucky bastard who gets to lead the patrol.  He has one job, to try and find out where the enemy is, by quietly sneaking around, or more times than not, becoming a human target for snipers.  I had a bad feeling about being on point, but there is nothing you can do.  I drew the shortest straw.  As I rounded a cobbler shop, I heard a loud crack, only to turn my head around to see Hershel grinning from ear to ear as he had just picked off a sniper who had me in his sights from the top of a bell tower.  I don't know what scared me more, the sound of the lone shot echoing off the walls of the shops, or the sound of the dead kraut made when he hit the ground.  It was a sound that I will never shake.  I knew from that moment on, that Hershel was someone who had my back, literally.  I remember that night after we settled in at what was left of an inn in the center of town.  Hershel and I talked.  As darkness took over and the shadows came out to play, Hershel told me tales about when he was a boy and going hunting with his dad for rabbits at dusk on their farm.  He talked about how the rabbits would pop up their heads along the tree line, and you could pick them off one by one.  The sound of the rifle's recoil didn't scare them off, like you would think.  Hershel told me his father said, "It's as if the rabbits knew they couldn't outrun the speed of the bullets."  I wonder if that was true for the German that Hershel killed earlier.

After a long march our German captors gave us a signal we could take a break.  We came to a stop by a massive farm field.  Almost immediately we started to walk a few yards from the road as we broke formation.  Guys from our unit started to gather in small groups in the empty farmer's field.  Some who had dry Lucky Strike cigarettes lit them.  You know the saying "Smoke 'em if you got them."  Others sat on cold, dry patches of dead vegetation.  Hershel, Duck, and I started to make small talk about our dreams and plans we had for when we returned home after the war was over.  As we began to relax, the SS started to line up along the road.  Within seconds, a military vehicle approached.  The driver got out and opened the back door.  Out came a man dressed in black, almost like a widow attending a funeral except the dress and veil had been replaced with a leather trench coat and an officer's hat with the silver skull and cross bones known as the "death head" pin.  As his coat danced in the breeze as if it were a child at play, the last breaths of a dying sun reflected off the skull emblem.  Another German officer ran up and they started to talk.  Their conversation sounded to me like two men barking orders.

It was then I turned around as the sun was getting close to setting.  I was just about to drift off into another daydream to pass the time when in the distance I saw a couple of rabbits pop their heads up along the tree line.  I continued to watch them when I was suddenly interrupted by a rustling of weaponry.

Then the German officer yelled, "Feuen."


Monday, March 23, 2015

Flash Fiction by Rob Sobel

Based on Gogol's "The Nose," Kafka's The Metamorphosis, re-told in Philip Roth's The Breast

It began one day.  Larry Nezberger, ex-stockbroker, current bagel aficionado, self-described Jungian scholar, was in the middle of writing a piece for The Daily Bagel--an entirely fanboy article in regard to the underrated, however vogue, multi-grain--when he felt a pang amid his already unhealthy middle-aged body.

It began uncomfortably, this pang, somewhere around, though not directly on, his penis.  This faint stirring shivered up through him after a few moments and towards the nose--that nose of his, that nose Larry Nezberger could never run away from, that nose just there his whole life, the Ashkenazi nose of such length and point, now finding a tickling spark on its tip.  He sneezed uncontrollably for twenty minutes with the intent on calling some line of emergency, if he were able to get control of his body.

When it finally did stop, he felt immediately better and decided not to turn himself into the hospital.  Still worried, however, he entered his symptoms into a search bar, receiving only allergy information, which somehow added to his worry.  He sensed, especially since he had been so unhealthy in his adult life, that the issue went somewhere beyond the allergic.

He tried getting back to work, but couldn't, and instead sat idly with an iced Fanta wondering if such a convulsion would occur again, periodically.  For hours nothing seemed to happen, though he did spill the Fanta onto his rug, which proved to be an isolated event, one he smartly dismissed as clumsiness unrelated to that shocking twang at the tip of his nose.  As he bent to wipe the Fanta on the floor, the pang presented itself again around his penis, and with great memory for what had occurred only hours before, he braced himself for a tickling upon the nose and a sneezing fit to match.  At this time, a line of what some may call electricity shot through him, landing on the tip of his nose, and without a moment in between he fell into the only somewhat drying orange puddle and began to sneeze uncontrollably, throwing the phone that he was holding into the wall with potentially the fastest miles per hour reading in his life, creating a hole the shape of a telephone.  But this he wouldn't notice, for he remained rolling around sneezing in the orange.

The days passed eventfully.  Things had never happened with such gusto in Larry's entire life.  With no phone, he sent out entirely unreadable emails of an S.O.S. nature to whomever he could think of in these brief one-moments in between spasms.  He grew hungry and thirsty and found that these needs were in no possible way going to be quenched, though when the convulsing did prove to stop for good and he still couldn't stand up from the now completely dry orange puddle, he sensed that there was a second, potentially more complicated issue at hand.  He figured some paralysis had taken charge of his body and he would lie here in this spot and die an awful death.  He began coming to terms with this when his ex-wife and disgruntled ten-year-old, Jacoby, entered the home and screamed at what probably would be considered the top of their lungs.

"You're orange!" Jacoby yelled.

"You're a nose!" exclaimed his ex-wife, more importantly.

He spoke, but they did not answer.  What he said and did not say was, "Well, the orange I believe to know . . . that Fanta bottle over there . . . ?"

But his wife walked into the kitchen and stood with her back to him and the adjacent living room where everything had transpired, and she would remain in just about this position for potentially the end of time.  His boy, Jacoby, one can say "picked him" interesteldy, maybe even scientifically, saying, "whoa . . ." and then looked at his finger slicked with slime.  Larry did, by all means, have a comically abhorrent cold.

"What has happened to me, Jake . . .?"  Larry Nezberger said and did not say to his boy he was supposed to watch for the next two days.  "What happened to me, Jake . . . ?" he repeated to the intrigued son who was evidently not yet thinking on genetics.  But Larry's words were not making any sound.  He was reduced to thoughts.  He was his nose as a blown-up remake.

"Hey, mom?" Jacoby said, "How do we know it's dad . . .?"

The nose was unmistakable.

Rob Sobel is a graduate of James Madison University with a degree in English.  He is currently working on his MFA, in fiction, at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  His short story "Palsied" was published in the Lunch Ticket literary magazine, and his story "The Old Familiar Roar" is in Cigale literary magazine's current issue at http://cigalelitmag.com/robert-sobel--the-old-familiar-roar.html

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flash Fiction by M.V. Montgomery

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was making an unscheduled appearance on campus. I happened to be in the auditorium with my daughter at just the right time. Spectators started entering en masse and the DL’s staff stepped forward and began arranging them around the area where the leader would stand. Even though my daughter was no longer a child, the handlers must’ve liked the idea of filling in the crowd with young people—so there we were, stationed near the head of the line like solemn attendants at a wedding. Our college provost led the procession, offering me a limp handshake while dropping a catty comment about being surprised to see me there. Then the DL came out, pausing to smile and nod to my daughter and ask how I was doing. For some reason, I panicked and made an idle remark about meditating regularly. He continued down the line quickly, as if able to trace this falsehood on my face.
It was the Blessed One’s funeral. Two ornate horse-pulled coaches waited on a side street near my apartment building followed by a line of buses. Each carriage had been fitted with a decorative pagoda turret. A man emerged and announced over a bullhorn to pilgrims that buses would leave in five minutes. Until then, I hadn’t considered attending this event myself. But I was too casually dressed and wished to retrieve my camera. To save time, I climbed the fire escape. Pressing my back against the building, I balanced along the ledge to my window, but found it locked. Below, the little caravan was just leaving.
Before me on a table were placed four objects. An old pair of wire-frame glasses, a worn prayer book, a wooden begging bowl, and a comic book. Select! I was instructed by a brusque-mannered junior monk. So I picked up the comic book and began reading. You clearly aren’t the Buddha of Compassion, he snorted. Just what sort of Buddha are you? He made a gesture with his arm as if to dismiss me. Wait, said the senior monk, stepping forward and grasping the junior one’s sleeve. That actually was one of His.  
M.V. Montgomery's book Speculations will be released next month by Winter Goose Publishing in Sacramento. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Flash Fiction by Alan Dartnall

Looking Out of My Window


Fire and brimstone pours from the sky coating the skyscrapers in a molten glow. Everyone is eerily silent. Blink. Brilliant sunshine perforates the paper that I had placed against the pain before creeping behind a cloud shrouding the open streets in gloom. Multi-coloured umbrellas rise in unison to shield from the expected downpour. Blink. The ground tremors as cracks appear in the street. An abandoned car slides across the melting tarmac as a penguin would on a tipping iceberg. A building across from me groans unbearable as the foundations liquefy. It creaks. Cement crumbles. Slabs break and glass shatters. It tilts, leans, leans towards my cramped apartment. Blink. I step back in surprise, squinting as the sun peeks out from the cloud. The umbrellas drop. Blink. I can hear screams now. No, it’s my scream; the tower is racing to me. Blink.  A cat wonders across the window sill outside. I stare at it, watching every minuscule detail in its matted fur, even the fleas crawling on its flesh. Don’t Blink. I watched as it rears onto its hind legs slightly and licks its belly with its rough tongue. Don’t blink. My eyes begin to water as the cat sits back down and the scratches at its neck with its hind paw, trying to dislodge the insects that were gnawing on its skin. Don’t blink!

​​​Alan Dartnall is a 2nd year university student studying Creative Writing at Winchester University. He has been writing for most of his life and tended to stay in the realms of higher fantasy. Lately, he has been attempting other parts of writing to explore new avenues and new ideas.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flash Fiction by A.J. Huffman

The Phone Call

An 800 number had been blowing up my niece's phone for almost ten minutes.  Unable to handle the constant ringing, she finally answered.  It was a bill collector calling regarding an unpaid balance on a Capital One credit card.

My niece, working in the telemarketing industry for years, tried to be nice to the caller, explained she had not had a Capital One credit card in over ten years.

"Fourteen years, ma'am," the woman on the phone corrected her.

"So let me get this straight," my niece, still maintaining her composure said, attempted to gain clarity on the situation.  "You are calling me about a debt from fourteen years ago?"

"That's correct, ma'am."

"You do realize that there is a statute of limitations on debts over seven years old?" my niece incredulously explained.  "You no longer have any legal standing to sue me regarding this debt."

"We have no intentions of suing you, ma'am."

"Then why are you calling me about it after fourteen years?"

"Well, ma'am, you still owe the debt."

"I see."

"And our records show that you paid on this debt in a timely manner for several years before defaulting on it."

By this time, my niece's patience was wearing thin.  "I'm aware of that," she said.  "What's your point?"

"We thought you might be interested in re-engaging such timely payments on the account now."

"After fourteen years?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"You've got to be kidding me?"

"No, ma'am, I'm very serious."

At this, my niece burst out laughing into the phone receiver.  It took her several moments to regain her composure.  "I'm sorry," she said to the caller.  "I know you're just trying to do your job, but seriously?  This is the most ridiculous conversation I've ever had."  Stifling another laugh, she added, "What is it you want from me?"

"We want to know your intentions regarding this outstanding debt, ma'am," the lady on the phone explained.

"Well, that's easy," my niece responded.  "What are your intentions regarding this outstanding debt?"

"I don't understand, ma'am?"

"Are you going to pay this unrecoverable debt for me?"

"Of course not, ma'am.  That's ridiculous," the woman on the phone actually sounded offended.

"Well, neither am I," my niece laughed again.  "Have a nice day," she added before clicking the phone dead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flash Fiction from Linda Casper

The Unknown

It was inevitable that they would come but not when that time would be.  She no longer listened out for footsteps or voices.  She wasn't afraid.  There was little to live for after they had murdered her husband of nearly forty years.  For the first time in her life she was thankful that she was unable to bear children.  Her death would upset no one.  She and Raf had lived a solitary life on the smallholding.  They were content to survive on whatever they had grown and sold.  The livestock had been slaughtered long ago.  Having to kill the dog was the hardest; Raf had taken care of that, for which she was grateful.

Not knowing when her next meal would be, she forced herself to eat something.  On the heavy, wooden table she placed a tray with rye bread, olives and cheese with a glass of red wine to wash it down.  It could be her last supper.  As she sat, a wry smile appeared on her face.  What did it matter if she ate or not, it was only delaying her fate.

She had considered taking her own life or even attempting to escape, but they would certainly find her, knowing the area as they did.  It was like a knife twisting inside her that her neighbors, people amongst whom they had lived amongst for years, could behave like a pack of wild dogs.  As a young girl she had never heeded her father's warnings.  He would tell her repeatedly that, as soon as hardship reared its head, their neighbors would turn on them and make them their scapegoat.

She considered taking something from her home.  A memento, like a brook or a photograph.  She opened the solid oak dresser door whose creaking usually reminded her it needed an application of oil.  From the back of the shelf she extracted her diary.  When her hand felt the tablet of chocolate, she extracted that too.  That will keep the wolf from the door, she thought as she slipped it in the pocket of her dress.

She froze then turned around to face the door from where she had heard a gentle tapping.  So, it was time.  She calmly packed the diary and chocolate into the canvas bag, picked up her coat from the chair and opened the door.

"It's you," she murmured, as she recognized Janek, the firstborn of her neighbor who she herself had delivered into this world.

"Come quickly babka.  We promised Raf to take care of you before he was taken."

Linda Casper hails from Yorkshire and, after a long career as a high school teacher, she has recently begun to write and has had many short stories, poems and travel articles published.  Linda has a keen interest in gardening and is a judge for Yorkshire in Bloom.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flash Fiction from Felino A. Soriano

Extrapolation’s hazy clarity 
This young morning I deciphered several altering footsteps claiming needed space across the too-close sidewalk near my bedroom window.  Annoyed/intrigued I unraveled from the wrinkled hobby of my bed and looked between the horizontal fingers covering my window’s aging vision. 
Strange and perhaps the strangeness of hallway-width hearing tricked my mind into an uncertain belief. The steps weren’t that of rapid moving men or even of the neighbor’s children who’ve awakened me many times in the past.  No, it was rain; an overwhelming style of rain—the formations angled like new-silver nails into strength of wood holding together a weekend pastime.
Cars, too.  Yes, various tonal blurs amid a map of asphalt sameness.  Interesting how the wet serial cycles arise from the black-gray mood of 1st street’s incorporated usage.
Tangled, surprised, abstract I now needed removal from this awakened aspect of sedentary watching.  My wife, explicit in the observation of early-style haze, portends a subjective subsequent answer:
Her eye a verbal query at my standing—I was unaware.
“Sure.”  An empty bowl called toward my own effort.
My voice, an indifferent tool conducting appositional space/confusion.  She abandoned my achromatic communication, bequeathing concrete warmth upon my right cheek, a scented fabricated fruit stayed from the kiss I needn’t imagine.
Within the wholeness of isolated comprehension, I gazed near the counter where her shape stirred.  A silvery silhouette gazed at mine, incorporating taunts of mystic reproach toward my unnatural imagination.
Vaguely, I memorized her smile, hand stitched into my favorite photograph of her open-door silhouette. 
“Your attention is laughable” I heard from the nuanced insulter.  Outside’s rain I can now hear atop the home I’ve conceptualized into a mirage of safety and concern.  Simultaneous sounds—the angled wetness above collocated with the silhouette’s believable brand of flat but intuitive realness.  Apparent was the resemblance, though faint this message had with my wife whose leaving confounded my ability to reclaim purposeful meaning.
I spoke but said only with my sitting body.
“Limp.”  “Afraid?”  “Comparing.”
I tried to imagine circumstances of consequences—the noble ability to alter movement when the conscience pilots my mind’s incorporating losing.  Strange because the whiskey on my last night’s tongue had fully dissipated; the taste now a memory of shouldn’t.  Strange because the late start of my late night had controlled into pause—for the morning had perused, began, extended.
Exacerbation became the soliloquy.  Feeling as two closed eyes would heal the source of aggravation, I depended on a brand of diagonal sleep to become a cure for dormant exclamation.  In an apparent dexterity of wrongdoing, my wife arrived home to her yelling at my soggy cereal neighboring the curled slobber I’ve created atop our dinner table. 
My attempt at an altered reflection was unsuccessful.
An apology requested my mouth to move quickly.  “Sorry”, the quickness was inexistent.  Upset, she removed herself again from my presence, this time sans the warming kiss containing a fabricated scent of fruit. 
Alone, squared.
This patterned method of my living required devotional conviction of apparent but unanswered queries.  I needed detoxification, an agile rendition. 
From the family room I could hear a rhythm of sighs, cries.  My wife became a reinvention, an angered ideology.  I approached, she faded.  Her personable momentum of earlier’s visit, vanished.  There, my favorite photograph—the memorized smile; adjacent, a recollection indicating intent to store various celebrations.  The glass of the frame, cracked, restructuring function’s elation into jagged metaphor.
I sat within a favorite chair’s embrace. Involving wholeness was the enveloping reactionary focus.  Irony was impulsive, explosive: thoughtful intent to intertwine with the moment’s context of my truant aim.  Altered thought moved into correct direction.  To myself I whispered the calming chant “change, change.”  To enact this pebble of momentum I required faith from the forgotten aspect of my failing diligence. 
Once more, the favorite photograph facilitated a final memory; within the silence a derivative of desire relaxed into a stance of altruistic scold.  My listening ensured tomorrow, one of inspired music akin to the rain outside serenading abstractions into the clarity of before’s meaningful invention.

Felino A. Soriano edits Of/with: journal of immanent renditions.  More information can be found at felinoasoriano.info

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flash Fiction by Lana Bella

She could not say with any conviction what had turned her love affair into something altogether else, and so gravely out of reach in its current state of ruin. Those sweet bygone days tore alongside her as she broke away, from what she did not know, but whatever it was, it had chased her out alone into the desolate grounds of fate; tumbling and half-falling, retracing memories of and plunging back into the forgotten years. In the recent days, it seemed she could always make out unmistakably the memories of bliss in naiveté, and anguish in wisdom, all engraved upon her waning spirit. The wretched self and her other more able-bodied being, both past and present, were slight in their bearing, and yet, the faint mingling of whispering, sighing and weeping, became the constant noise which accompanied her as they rattled upon the fragile hinges on her soul. 
The familiar arrival of the after light fluttered by, trailed inward from under the entryway like the rattling tail of autumn smoke, made ominously bright by the hanging kerosene lamp burning ever so softly beside the dusty wooden chair left on to light its way. She breathed in the crisp November dusk, mixed with the sharp pain of the unforgiving tides from the hovering affairs of her recent life. Her glove-less fingers had grown numbed with cold, smoothed along the aged writing chair set away from the curved stairway; the lustrous inky strands had since came loose of the ivory comb and tousled down upon her shoulders in disarray; those amber eyes have lost their dazzling brilliance, now flashed instead of anger and pain, then all at once hurled themselves across the stained teal tiles and directed up, brought to a standstill by the steadfast gaze which reflected back from the looking glass on the dressing vanity against the corner wall, and under the gold-colored lamp they appeared unflinchingly bright with unshed tears.
It felt like the whole world had moved on, herself breathed still but not living, abandoning her in a nostalgic and derelict past she'd never again visit. Just as suddenly, a startling sob escaped her lips, conceding that any consoling word of insight already came too late, as if out of whimsy, each and every crafted word had wittingly lodged themselves deep within her catatonic consciousness, idled away under its dark recess while slithered to the bottom-most among the overlays of time, where they at long last, mingled with the other muffled and unspoken thoughts which had lain dormant in hush suspension. The artless illusion of her innocence, made haste by the weight of neglect, had her swiftly sped downward to a maddening void of guilt and torment; and there, was where she stood at sea, on the verge of coming to be a lost beauty, no longer a misspent and simple youth yet holding on to traces of the girl she had been. How hauntingly sad and mad and bad it was, but then how it was sweet, this gravity of regret. And how utterly sad to realize it's too good to leave, and sadder still, too bad to stay.
**Robert Browning was written with his famous quote in mind: How sad and bad and mad it was. But then, how it was sweet.
Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction published and forthcoming with Anak Sastra, Atlas Poetica, Bewildering Stories, Buck-Off Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Eunoia Review, Cecil's Writers' Magazine, Deltona Howl, Earl of Plaid Lit, Family Travel Haiku, First Literary Review-East, Foliate Oak Literary, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Global Poetry, Ken*Again, Marco Polo Arts Literary, Nature Writing, New Plains Review, The Commonline Journal, The Higgs Weldon, The Voices Project, War Anthology: We Go On, Thought Notebook, Undertow Tanka Review, Wordpool Press, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Featured Artist with Quail Bell Magazine. She resides on some distant isle with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps.