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First Job

by Adam S. Furman

 

Today’s the first day of my career.

I drop my equipment and scramble to set up.  It’s hard, finding a paying job.  Damn near impossible with AI taking everything from trade and manufacturing to finance and retail.  Traditional entertainment is all but repetitive.  Stories and music have all been done ad nauseam.

Few jobs can earn you a living wage in this competitive market of robots and automatons.  Thank God for the Internet and streaming.  I set up my tripod and hop onto my bed.   I unzip my pants and remove my clothes.

Today’s the first day of my career.

 

Adam S. Furman

Adam S. Furman lives in rural Illinois with his family which includes a lot of kids (like…a lot). He generally writes science fiction.

Readers can connect with him on twitter @AdamSFurman.

 

Second Time’s the Charm

by Becky Benishek

 

He came to her when she had too much to lose.

Wrapped up in her loneliness and wistful fantasy self, she yearned for something to tell her that she was different from the others. Special.

She was old enough to know she’d grow out of it and young enough not to believe it.

Writing at her desk, house quiet, she felt warm eyes at her back, golden gaze offering her the chance to become everything she longed for: the magic, the invisibility, the flying. The recognition. The power.

For a price, of course.

But what matter a soul between friends?

 

Becky Benishek

Becky Benishek is the author of several children’s books, including “The Squeezor is Coming!”, “Dr. Guinea Pig George,” and “Hush, Mouse!” She loves to create stories that help children learn about empathy and believe in themselves. She has an extensive Lego collection, a Commodore 64, and sticks googly eyes on unlikely things. Becky is married with guinea pigs.

Website: beckybenishek.com

 

First Time

by Liam Hogan

 

The hunter waited, trembling. Across the glade, his younger sister whimpered into her gag.

It was worth the risk. Worth what his father would do if he found out. Jewels, gold, fame: all it took was the right bait.

There was a rustle in the undergrowth. Into the clearing stepped a unicorn, proud and snorting and priapic.

As he raised his crossbow he felt a horn snag his breeches. Felt it tear the worn fabric. Felt hot breath smelling of freshly cut grass. Heard a gentle snicker as the unicorn’s mate probed further. “First time for you too, farmer boy?”

 

Liam Hogan

Liam Hogan is an award-winning London based writer. His short story “Ana”, appeared in Best of British Science Fiction 2016 (NewCon Press) and “The Dance of a Thousand Cuts” appears in Best of British Fantasy, 2018. Http://happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk or tweet @LiamJHogan.

 

The Bell

by C.M. Saunders

 

Cancer.

The very word is enough to give you chills. It consumes you, and eats you from the inside out.

My mother was already widowed when the disease sank its claws into her.

I am an only child. I had to do the right thing, so I moved back into my old childhood home to look after her. I converted a downstairs room, put in a TV and some books, and gave her a bell to summon me.

I can hear the bell now, even above the constant din of the wind and the rain.

My mother died last week.

 

C.M. Saunders

Christian Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, is a freelance journalist and editor from south Wales. His work has appeared in over 80 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide and he has held staff positions at several leading UK magazines ranging from Staff Writer to Associate Editor. His books have been both traditionally and independently published, the latest release being a collection of short fiction called X: Omnibus.

Please visit my website for more information.

Awful Alphabet

by Evan Baughfman

 

“Daddy, they taught me my ABC’s!” my three-year-old, Lizzie, proudly declared. In her tiny hands, she held the spirit board I’d unearthed from behind the basement wall.

I snatched it away from her. “‘They’? ‘They’ who?”

I didn’t see the steak knife until she’d removed it from her pocket. Didn’t catch the crimson gleam in her eyes.

“D-I-E, Daddy!” she roared with voices not her own.

Growling, my little girl sprung on me with a bestial fury. The serrated blade slid between my ribs and twisted just beneath my heart.

“They” had come to teach me a lesson, as well.

 

Evan Baughfman

Evan Baughfman works in a very scary place: a middle school! He writes all genres, but horror is where he’s most comfortable. Much of his writing success has been as a playwright. He’s had many different plays produced across the globe. Heuer Publishing has published his Poe adaptation, “A Taste of Amontillado”.

Additionally, Evan has adapted a number of his short stories into screenplays, of which “The Emaciated Man” and “The Creaky Door” have won awards in various film festival competitions.

Evan’s “Ugly Sweater” was recently published in Grinning Skull Press’s 2018 Christmas horror anthology, O Unholy Night in Deathlehem.

 

The Glutton

by John A. DeMember

 

The infernal flames licked at his alabaster, gnarl-spined body.

Frail and naked, he wiped his vomit glazed chin and glanced up at the bone-house hordes crowded around the smoldering river’s edge.  Eternally famished, they covered the shattered landscape like a blanket of human sorrow.  On hands and knees, each cadaver feverishly clamored their way to the muck.

Somewhere hidden, dark sentries screeched while their piercing, stab-wound eyes scanned the fire ravaged expanse of the jagged, sulfuric wastes.

His memory again flooded by sin, he quickly plunged his gluttonous mouth back into the ghastly bile, and chugged, and chugged, and chugged.

 

John A. DeMember

John A. DeMember is a U.S. Army veteran and a high school English teacher with a passion for writing horror.   When John isn’t teaching, correcting, or writing, you might find him either at The Tower visiting Xur or somewhere in the wasteland battling bloatflies.

Stay up to date with John on Amazon: www.amazon.com/John-A.-DeMember/e/B00EWT35DE

 

Headmoths

by J. Motoki

 

His last words hiss under the pendulum of the lightbulb. Flash burns, sloughed flesh. He is an insect collapsing on itself, body rocked by spasms, arched back, feet drumming the basement floor.

Dad, attending to death, stumbles through the house at odd hours. His child sleeps with both arms wrapped around himself. Dad the County Coroner, searching for truth in flesh and fluids, doesn’t notice his child sleeps too long, too often.

The boy leaves clues in dust and shadows. He disintegrates into a thousand flying things in the white eye of the light.

How long until the Coroner comes?

 

J. Motoki

Motoki earned her BA in Literature at University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the Short Story Editor for Coffin Bell Journal and Assistant Editor for Rune Bear Magazine. Her works have been published in Nowhere.Ink, Rue Scribe, Blood Song Books, and Coffin Bell Journal, with one flash nominated for The Best Small Fictions 2019 (Braddock Avenue Books).

 

Your Ride Has Arrived

by Evan Baughfman

 

The hearse came to a silent stop alongside the curb. The driver asked through the open passenger-side window, “You remember what happened at the bar tonight?”

I’d gone into downtown, ordered a cocktail at O’Grady’s, and then…Then…?

The hearse’s rear door creaked open.

“Plenty of room in the back.”

I realized I was part of a small crowd, standing together in a blanket of fog. Nearly everyone looked as confused as me.

Nearly everyone was riddled with bullet holes.

I had a gaping cavity in my chest.

The driver said, “Come on in, everybody. You’ve all got the same destination.”

 

Evan Baughfman

Evan Baughfman works in a very scary place: a middle school! He writes all genres, but horror is where he’s most comfortable. Much of his writing success has been as a playwright. He’s had many different plays produced across the globe. Heuer Publishing has published his Poe adaptation, “A Taste of Amontillado”.

Additionally, Evan has adapted a number of his short stories into screenplays, of which “The Emaciated Man” and “The Creaky Door” have won awards in various film festival competitions.

Evan’s “Ugly Sweater” was recently published in Grinning Skull Press’s 2018 Christmas horror anthology, O Unholy Night in Deathlehem.

 

A Psi of Relief

by Shawn M. Klimek

 

Once the mushroom’s psychotropic effects kicked in, Philip and Janice realized they could read each other’s minds.  The thought stream which culminated in their copulation went as follows:  I sense we’re both horny. Horny, not desperate. Screw you, then. Sorry, that just came out. Don’t pity me. Your vulnerability is attractive. Your compassion is sexy. Oh, screw it, let’s do this.

It was during the post-coital denouement, a morphing, emotional stew of confused lust, self-loathing and disillusionment that the telekinetic effects kicked in, allowing Janice to satisfy herself and Philip to stack all the beer cans into an impressive tower.

 

Shawn M. Klimek

Shawn M. Klimek’s stories and poems have been published in scores of e-zines and anthologies, including “Grumpy Old Gods, Volume 1”, Zombie Pirate Publishing’s “World War Four”, and “Gold: The Best of Clarendon House Anthologies, Volume One, 2017/2018. Find more, including links to all his published works at A Jot In The Dark

 

Other Oceans

by Blair Frison

 

An epidemic of suicide and madness swept the planet as the Thing neared. Many believed it was God himself, bringing with him his promised purge.

As the shape in the sky grew more rapidly, Earth was unchained from her eternal path, succumbing to the immense gravitational pull. Soon, the Thing was so close, its face filled the spinning horizons. The sky was a fast-flowing sea of eyes and teeth, a sight that brought the remnants of humanity to their knees.

Titanic jaws chewed through continents ravenously while the beast continued on without pause, savouring its sustenance as Earth died screaming.

 

Blair Frison

Blair Frison lives with his family on the island of Cape Breton. He has written for various publications such as Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017, Fossil Lake IV: SHARKASAURUS!, The Edge: Infinite Darkness, Deadman’s Tome, Boxing 24/7, and Haunt of Horrors. Blair is currently working on a collection of  stories.