Seven!

by Alexander Olson

I knew you’d come crawling back, bloodied, scabbed, torn skin peeling away from your fingernails. You’re a horror victim in reverse; instead of being dragged away, nails digging grooves into hardwood, you’re clawing your way back, leaving gashes in everything like some lovelorn Wolverine.

I cut you out of my life for a reason. You were so clingy, always grabbing, groping, gripping. Moving things without being told. Flipping light switches, locking doors, snapping your fingers together in rhythm to keep count… one-two, one-two. Once, you reached down and began pulling leg hairs out of me, because you saw an uneven number. I can’t wear shorts.

You taped over all the electrical outlets because you read about lightning sending sparks out of them.

Even when I started cutting with that cheap saw with the loose blade, you couldn’t stop. Counting cuts, begging me to make sure it was an even number. Seven cuts to remove a hand was unbearable, eight or ten perfectly okay.

I stopped at seven and broke it off, yet you crawl towards me across dirty linoleum, fingers twitching and writhing like those facehugger aliens. I can’t fight you off, but listen:

Seven is a prime number.


Alexander Olson is from Port Huron, MI. He writes horror and sci-fi about poor people trying to pay the bills. His first novel, “Erosion” is due out this spring. You can find more of his writing on squidthroatonline.com

Morning Devotion

by Nicole DeVincentis

When he woke in the morning, he ran his hands through his wavy blonde hair and turned toward the sleeping figure lying next to him. His clear blue eyes settled on her face, as the morning light caressed her cheek, finding the red in her dark hair. He shifted closer, curling on his left side, not wishing to wake her just yet.

Her hair was strewn across the pillow, and her face was turned toward him. One hand rested beside her head, and the other was lying lightly on her slender stomach. He rearranged the blankets, covering her up, and then settled back against his pillow. He exhaled gently and her thick, black lashes fluttered, though she remained asleep. Her white tank top contrasted sharply against her tanned skin, and her breathing was deep and even. One thought ran through his head, repeatedly: how lucky he was to wake up to her each morning.

He leaned forward to place a kiss on her nose, and felt her stir. As he leaned away, he noticed the smile on her face, and she opened her eyes. Her doe-like, brown eyes stared back at him in adoration. He held her gaze for a few seconds, before saying, “Good Morning.” He reached forward to tuck a strand of hair that had settled on her cheek, back behind her ear.

She stretched slowly against the pillow, “Is it morning already?” she asked, squinting into the sunlight playing across the sheets.

He smiled broadly, “Yes, it is.” He covered the hand that was placed over her stomach with his own. “Back to reality.”

“Reality?” she laughed. “Is this a dream?” She said, turning on her side and facing him. She curled her fingers with his and closed her eyes, relaxing to the feel of his thumb stroking her hand.

“If it is, I don’t ever want to wake up.” She kept her eyes closed, but a smile curved her lips upward. Her fingers squeezed his lightly in a loving gesture.

She lay listening to the sound of his gentle breathing, lulling her back to sleep. He was content to stay exactly as he was, admiring each of her features. She must have felt his eyes on her, because suddenly, she smiled. “Stop staring,” she said, keeping her eyes closed.

His hand moved to play with her long hair, running his fingers through the even strands. She snuggled closer, nestling her head against his shoulder and letting her hand rest on his bare chest. He rested his cheek on the top of her head and continued playing with her hair. It was a while before he spoke and when he did, it was almost too quiet for her to hear. “How did I get so lucky?”

Her eyes flicked open, and she inclined her head to look directly at him, stating in a sober tone. “I’m the lucky one.”

His face was mere inches from hers and he shook his head, “You’re perfect.” She started to say something, but he put a finger to her lips. “I love everything about you.”

She squinted her eyes at him. “Everything?” she asked, slightly teasing. But what he said next made her heart race, reminding her why she had fallen in love with him.

He brought her hand to his lips and kissed each of her fingers, ticking off the reasons for his devotion.

“You are the most precious thing in my life,” he said, with a kiss to her forefinger. “I love the way your eyes shine when you smile.” A kiss to her middle finger. “I love the sound of your laugh, and the way you snuggle with our children before bed.” Another two kisses.
At this point, he looked up from her fingers to see her staring intently at him. He released her hand and moved to hover over her. She lay back against the pillow while he looked down at her, resting his weight on his forearm.

“I love hearing you sing in the shower,” he kissed her forehead, and then added, “even when you’re off-key.” He said, laughing lightly. She playfully smacked his arm, laughing along with him. He pulled her close, and rolled them so that he was lying back on the bed, with her chest flush against his. Her hair fell like a dark curtain over her shoulder, tickling his bare arm.

He smiled and cupped her cheek, so that he could look directly into her eyes. “I love the way you look at me. The smile that stretches across your face every morning, when you open your eyes. I love the way you love our children. I love how you take care of us, and how gentle you are with my heart.”

Her lips parted and her eyes began to tear. His thumb stroked her cheek, “As yours is mine, my heart belongs to you and it always will.”

Tears started slipping down her cheeks, “I never imagined someone could love me like you do.”

“I do.” He curled his hand behind her head and brought her forehead to rest against his. “And if you let me, I will spend the rest of forever proving it to you.”

She lowered her lips to meet his, and kissed him sweetly, then nuzzled her head into the crook of his neck. Placing her palm against his chest, she felt his heartbeat and sighed contently. She was very aware of her own heartbeat, and how it had slightly accelerated when they kissed, and now, had settled to a steady pace, beating in rhythm with his.


Nicole DeVincentis is an aspiring editor and hopes to work in the publication industry soon. Reading and writing are her passions, among nature walks, workouts, music, and martial arts. Currently, her genres are fiction and fan fiction, but she’s also dabbled in poetry a bit, and continues to spread her wings.

The Surf Club

by Jennifer Irwin

The listing described the apartment as a railroad track layout which I found out meant; I had to walk through my roommate’s bedroom to get to the bathroom. It was a fourth-floor walk-up, but the Upper East Side was where we wanted to be—safe and swanky.

Mads and I had planned on rooming together after graduation. She touted a trust fund, and my bank account had sixty-seven dollars left after I paid the deposit. She contributed more rent to get the proper bedroom. My mattress laid on the floor in the dining area. I bought a folding screen at a swap meet for a makeshift wall.

I landed a job in the creative department of an ad agency making sixteen grand a year and worked weekends as a coat checker at an upscale restaurant called Sam’s Café owned by a supermodel turned actress who never came around. Her name gave the place panache and patrons came because they thought they might lay eyes on her. Mads got hired by a faux jewelry company called Monet as a sales rep. She’d bring home bags of jewels for me to forage through.

“Take whatever you want,” she said, while I dragged my hands through the chains.

“Hey,” I said. “It’s Monday, free spaghetti at The Stumble Inn. Feel like checking it out?”

“Yes,” Mads said, kicking off her sensible pumps.

“That’s a cute dress,” I said while clipping chunky earrings onto my lobes.

“You can borrow anytime.” Mads turned for me to unzip. Her back was white and doughy. “Want to go to the Surf Club Saturday? They have a guest list only event, and I got us on the list.”

“For sure but I’ll have to meet you after I get off of coat check duty.”

“Dammit. I hate that you have a job on the weekends. It ruins everything.” She stomped her foot for effect.

“I get out at ten; nothing happens in New York before then. Wait for me; we don’t want to be the first ones anyway.”

“Good plan,” Mads said. She changed into dark pants, and a striped blouse then eased a red, grosgrain ribbon hairband onto her head.

I felt underdressed in my faded jeans and converse sneakers. On the way out the door, I threw on my brother’s letter jacket which I stole without asking. It made me feel like I might have been popular in high school.

Since Mads parents paid her rent, she spent her earnings on maintaining her platinum hair, manicures, new clothes, and taking cabs whenever she woke up late for work. Mornings were hectic for me because my hair was wiry and wild which required a bit more time. Mads could get ready in a flash and always appeared pulled together. The only way to tell she was stressed was light beading of sweat that formed on the bridge of her nose.

As the neater person, I took on the role of the cleaning lady. Mads covered the sink in specks of eyeshadow, blush, and tons of blonde hair. The toilet often had remnants of either barf or shit up under the rim so I invested in rubber gloves to tackle that matter. Rumors had been going around school that Mads was bulimic and with the suspicious specs, I was beginning to believe they might be legit.

We rarely competed for male attention. If a guy was attracted to her, more times than not, he wouldn’t look twice at me. Mads was generous with lending stuff but once she asked me for the shirt off my back while I was walking out the door to work. Part of me figured it irritated her that her clothes fit me more loosely. But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t master the ethereal, helpless aura she exuded which guys seemed to love.

The bar was brimming with preppies wearing alligator shirts and faded khakis. I was adept at pretending to fit in but my last name, a solid giveaway that I wasn’t in the blueblood tribe. It screamed Italian with every imaginable vowel in the alphabet.

We found an open spot at the outer edge of the dimly lit bar. Mads had a twitch that crept up around guys. Her upper lip lifted on the right and made her smile crooked.

“Isn’t it your turn to buy?” Mads said, looking me up and down. She was a cheap one and damn that bugged me.

“Probably,” I said. Halfway to the bar, I remembered I’d bought the last beers on Saturday. I wedged between two people, leaned against the sticky, shellacked wood and attempted to command the bartender’s attention.

“How’s it going?” A dark-eyed guy with puffy lips and short black hair was on the barstool next to me. “Don’t I know you?” he asked.

“You do now,” I said. “I’m Alexandra; my friends call me Lexy.”

“Sexy, Lexy,” he said and laughed. “I’m Jamie.”

“Never heard that one before.” I turned toward the bartender and begged with my eyes.

“I’ll buy,” Jamie said. “I was a tool to say that.”

“Really?” I asked with too much enthusiasm. “Two Amstel Lights.” I swept my hand toward Mads who was chatting up a buff blonde.” My roommate is over there.”

“I’ll buy if you promise to come back after you give your friend her beer.” His smile nearly blinded me. I dragged my tongue over my teeth and prayed there weren’t any remnants of the popcorn I’d eaten at work. Jamie raised his arm and the bartender bee-lined. “Two Amstel Lights,” he said. “Put it on my tab.”

“Be right back.” I sashayed figuring he was checking out my ass. “Here,” I said handing the bottle over.

“Lexy, do you remember Ryan from the Hamptons this summer?” She loved playing the ‘do you know’ game. “Well, this is his cousin, Mike.”

“Cool,” I said. “Nice to meet you.” I shook his hand. I’d learned the hard way she freaked if you so much as smiled at a guy she was working over. “I’ll be at the bar if you need me.”

As I passed the red checkered, free pasta table, my stomach rumbled. I piled a plate with noodles with two garlic bread pieces teetering on the edge. As I eased onto the barstool, the bread bounced to the floor.

“Whoops,” I said. My face heated.

“I’ll grab more,” he said. “I was going to eat anyway.” He stood and turned. “I love a girl who can eat.”

Jamie returned with two plates. One for his pasta and one piled with bread.

“Are you from the city?” I asked, another beer miraculously appeared in front of me.

“I’m from Columbus,” he said. “Ohio.” He chewed with his mouth closed which I liked. His arm brushed against mine, and my stomach tingled. “I’m in a training program at Merrill Lynch.” He swept a napkin over his lips. “It’s a great opportunity but a real grind.”

After we finished eating, I glanced at my watch.

“I’m going to head home,” I said.

“Me too. Wall Street beckons early.” He smiled. An awkward moment dangled in the air.

“Can I get your number?” he asked as he signed the charge slip. I jotted my digits on a napkin which he slipped it in his pocket. We edged away from the bar and I headed toward Mads while he engaged in a few bro hugs and back slaps on his way out. “I’ll meet you at home,” I said in passing so not to give her a chance to beg. As I walked the few blocks home, a sense of hope tingled through my body.

The next morning, I tugged my underpants out from my butt cheek as I hovered over the coffee maker waiting for it to brew.

“Morning.”

I swung around. A guy approached from the bedroom. The exact guy Mads had been talking to at the bar. I yanked my shirt over my crotch and pressed against the edge of the Formica.

“Mike,” he said. “We met last night.” He started opening cabinets until he found a mug. “Is it brewed yet? I gotta roll.”

“Hey.” Miss ethereal floated in wearing a white satin negligée. I’d never seen anyone wear such fancy sleeping garments until I met Mads. As if there wasn’t a man lurking in our kitchen, she pulled a mug from the cabinet and poured herself some coffee. Mike wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

“Fun night,” he said. “Thanks for having me.” He took a swig of black coffee, dumped the rest in the sink and strolled out the door.

“What the hell?” I said with my mouth agape.

“That’s what happens when you leave me alone in a bar,” she said as though it was my fault. “He had the biggest sausage. I’m so sore.”


A native New Yorker and captivating storyteller with a flair for embellishment, Jennifer Irwin currently resides in Los Angeles with two cats, a dog, and her boyfriend. After earning her BA in Cinema from Denison University, she worked in advertising and marketing raised three boys, and ultimately became a certified Pilates instructor. While she has written screenplays and short stories since her college days, A Dress the Color of the Sky is her first novel.

The Promise

by Ariel Brinkley

One last sketch.
One last time.
It was a promise he’d made a thousand times but one he could never keep.

Charcoal dug beneath his fingernails, bits and pieces of it tumbling down from his artwork onto the steering wheel. Nightfall was upon them, the sun completely lost behind thick branches lining the clearing.

“I need light.” He flicked the headlights on, illuminating the area in a harsh white light. It created a halo effect around her golden locks, producing dark shadows behind her while highlighting her curvy figure. “No complaining now,” he smiled, dragging the charcoal along the length of the drawing’s hair. “I’m almost finished.”

His muse didn’t seem to mind. Instead she laid there in silence. No complaining, not even a blink of an eye. She was the perfect model, always had been. Which was why his car was littered with sketches of her, images drawn on 3×3 brightly colored sticky notes focusing on what he liked most about her. Like her eyes. Mouth. Even her unruly hair. He liked it all. The mere thought of her made his heart race.

With the finishing touches behind him, he collected each colorful masterpiece and brought it to her still body. Releasing them above her, each image tricked down mapping out the one sided journey they shared together. He knelt beside her, caressing her loose curls. “I promise.” He planted a kiss to her cold lips, her head rolling to an unnatural angle. She stared at him with bright blue eyes, dull and lifeless yet reflecting her fearful last moments.

Intrigued, he returned to her with his art supplies, sketching the look in her eyes. “One last sketch. One last time.” He whispered. So enveloped in his work, he paid no attention to the approaching flashing lights, to the sound of officer’s shoes splashing in the forest’s mud, secretly surrounding him with loaded guns. “I promise.”


Ariel Brinkley is a creator of many things and lover of everything creepy and cute. In her spare time, she enjoys writing novels, blogging, creating short films, and expanding her photography skills. Her hobbies include YouTubing, watching anime, playing video games, drawing wannabe anime characters, identifying voice actors, and consulting her friends through the art of comedic psychology.

Garage Flowers

by Helen Chambers

“Make a choice. Me or her.” So he left me, the bastard.

I couldn’t stand up straight for days, I was winded. Pains in my chest, my lungs wouldn’t work.

The next weekend he turned up with snapped stems in a plastic wrap for me, said it was all they had. I was sore: red-eyed and sleepless, but he looked fresh as a daisy. He watched while I tried to arrange them into something pretty, and he smiled, but he was all twitchy. He couldn’t sit still. I followed him outside and leaned against the tree trunk while he carefully cut each and every bloom in the garden, all my summer bulbs, not a thing left behind. He asked for ribbon and tissue paper and made them up into a massive bouquet. I laughed, thinking it was mine.

He told me we could be the best of friends but took it to her. The stench of my hatred overwhelmed me and I changed the locks.

A year later, he phoned me. Said he was lonely and missed me. I didn’t say, but I missed him too. We met for coffee, but when he said, ’I usually sit over there,’ I knew it was with her.

In the winter he tried again. We sipped the liquid warmth of mulled wine. Outside it snowed, and he slid his arm round my shoulders, fluid and smooth. ‘Stay,’ I murmured.


Helen Chambers previously won the Hysteria Flash Fiction prize and The Felixstowe Short Story prize, and has been shortlisted in a number of competitions. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Essex and blogs occasionally at wivenhoewriters.blogspot.co.uk

The Perfect Day

by John Taylor

The other day, I was invited to a very dear friend’s wedding. At 48, I don’t go to many weddings anymore, but seriously, I love weddings, and I don’t say that with any sense of irony or sarcasm or even humor. Weddings are awesome. Weddings are a terrific party. And more than that, weddings are one of the last bastions of ancient tradition in an American culture devoid of customs and a sense of connection to the past. I love the ceremony, the vows and the ritual that underlies every part of it. Weddings are the ultimate “uniter” (to get all George Bush on you) in a society that almost embraces its divisiveness; it uses traditions as old as human civilization to unite two different families, two sets of friends and two souls into one.

And you get to eat and drink on someone else’s dime.

It was, as all brides desire, The Perfect Day. The bridesmaids were perfectly beautiful in their perfectly tailored dresses. The Bride was perfectly gorgeous and glowed like a bride, while the groom, though admittedly bearing the pall of a man ready to blow chow, looked perfectly studly in his Ricky Ricardo tuxedo. The ceremony was perfect, as two people so obviously and madly in love with one another made their vows of devotion.

Love, you see, is a commitment to a person, while marriage is a commitment to a process. The promises we make in a wedding ceremony are our way of saying, “Look, I love you and you make me happy and I want to feel this way for the rest of my life, so here’s what I’m willing to do to make that happen.” So we make vows. We vow to honor, to cherish, to respect both our identities as individuals and as a couple. We commit not just to one another, but to a set of ideas that time has proven will help nurture a lasting relationship – one that prevails through sickness, poor times and the worst life has to offer, until freaking death.

And so, the perfect day continued. The food was perfect. The beef was perfectly beefy and the chicken was perfectly chickeny. The cake was perfectly delicious, the wine flowed perfectly and when “We Are Family” blared from the DJ’s speakers, everyone hit the dance floor in perfect unison. And when the bride and groom whisked away to their perfect honeymoon spot, they did so under a shower of perfectly spherical bubbles blown by the guests. It was…perfect.

I was solo that night, as my Beleaguered Wife drew the short straw when the babysitter flaked out an hour before the event. Though she left the porch light on, the inside was completely dark, so I stood at the entry and took off my shoes and socks so I would be quiet as I walked across the hardwood floors to the kitchen. No sooner had I started tip toeing than I stepped directly in a warm, mucoidal substance, the viscosity and soft-chunky texture of which could only be dog vomit. So as not to smear the Cocker Spaniel effluent all over the living room, I hopped on one foot across the floor towards the kitchen to get a rag. On my third hop, I landed directly on an up-turned 3×4 inch House Builder Barbie Block, shooting a searing, Roman crucifixion-style pain blast from my arch to my frontal lobe. In an effort not to wake the family, I lunged face-first into the couch and screamed into the pillow like the three-year-old girl who left the block so inopportunely placed in my path.

As my eyes started adjusting to the darkness, I could see that in fact the whole living room looked like Hurricane Katrina had landed at Toys r’ Us, so I decided not to risk the potential mine field to the kitchen. I took my shirt off, cleaned the bile and half-digested chunks of Hap-E-Hound Dog Food off my foot with it, and threw it in the general direction of the laundry room. Hey, that’s what washing machines are for.

I had taken a small, wrapped truffle from the wedding and was going to leave it on my three-year-old’s nightstand, because she just goes crazy-ass happy over that sort of thing, so I made my way down the hall to her room. The kids had been sick, because kids are sick EVERY DAY, so I could hear that the humidifier was running in their room. When I slowly opened the door, I was greeted by the putrescent smell of a diaper that my Beleaguered Wife had most probably forgotten to throw out in the sheer anarchy of trying to put two kids to bed. Combined with the warm, moist air of the humidifier, the smell showered on me like a fecal monsoon, and had I not developed an iron clad gag reflex through years of having a nurse as a wife (“You want to know the grossest thing I saw today??”), I would surely have joined the dog in downloading the entire contents of my stomach. Holding my breath, I quietly placed the truffle next to my daughter’s bed, grabbed the guilty diaper, threw it the hall bathroom and shut the door on it like so much radioactive waste. Note To Self: Take Morning Pee in Master Bath.

I opened the door to my room to find the wife dead asleep on the bed, the covers pulled over to her side. All the covers. My side was barren like the Sahara, her side was all cozy like..like..like when your wife takes all the damn covers. I slipped off my pants and crawled in, performing the timeless ritual of Repossessing My Fair Share of the Blankets Without Waking The Wife. Finally and safely ensconced, I curled up next to her and listened to her breathe for a while, my grown-up lullaby for the past ten years.

“I do,” I whispered, though I knew she was sleeping. “I do.”


John Taylor has been writing about wine since 2012, but his meanderings on life began way before that. Born and raised in San Diego, California, John moved to Los Angeles in 1982 to pursue dreams of screenwriting and filmmaking. John’s writing career started in earnest at this point with blogs, essays and short stories appearing in various publications. John began working full time in the wine industry in 2011, and is currently the Director of Consumer Sales for a winery based in Napa Valley. He’s a Certified Sommelier and WSET Level 2. In May of 2017, be completed his first full-length novel, The Flight of The Dolphin, and is currently at work on novel version of Pairs With: Life.

Thinking Of You Wherever You Are

by Tamera Patenaude

Thinking of you wherever you are,
That is what we have always said.
No matter how far away you are,
You are always in my head.

You asked me why I love you,
And I said I did not know.
But no matter what I say or do,
I could never let you go.

It has been eight and a half years now,
And you are still here by my side.
Over the years it has rung true,
You are my safest place to hide.

Whether you are right beside me,
Or sitting in the next room.
You brush away the tragedies,
And you always make me swoon.

Thinking of you wherever you are,
That is what we will always say.
But living in a world of depression,
We need to take this day by day.


Tamera Patenaude is a 25 year old Canadian writer, wife, student, artist, and volunteer. She recently joined a school choir and uses the arts as a coping mechanism to deal with her depression.

I’m Awake

by S. P. Carter

Where am I? Can’t see anything. Dark, but not completely. Eyes are closed. Why won’t they open? I try to reach for my face. Arms won’t move. Can’t feel them. Completely numb, paralyzed.

Something covering my mouth and nose, forcing air into my lungs, sucking it back out. That smell. Sterile, like plastic and rubber. How long have I been like this?

Hello? Is anyone there?

I scream in silence. Lips and tongue remain slack. Completely immobile, blind, helpless. Even as panic sets in, my heart rate remains fixed in a slow rhythm. Abdomen steadily rises and falls with each forced breath.

I hear air pushing and pulling. Electronic beeps and chirps. Mechanical humming. Fans, ventilation? What else? Focus. Muffled sounds, barely audible voices. The distinct click of a door opening.

Light brightens around me, shadows drift past. A door closes. Soft footsteps grow closer, then a brief silence. I feel eyes watching me.

“Can he hear me?”

Kate! I hear you! Help me!

“His brain scans show no response to sound, but there’s no way to know for sure.” A male voice speaks from direction of the door.

“I’d like a moment.” She’s close.

“Of course. Take all the time you need.” I hear the door gently open and close again.

“Hi Frank, it’s me,” she says in little more than a whisper. “How are you doing today? I got a call from a hotel this morning, confirming a reservation. You’ll be so mad they spoiled the surprise. I had no idea you planned our anniversary. ” She runs her hand through my hair. Her touch is soothing. Her voice is soothing.

“I didn’t cancel. It’s all still waiting for us. Palm trees, hammocks, sand. It’s all waiting for you to wake up.” Her lips gently kiss my forehead. A tear lands on my cheek and slowly rolls down to my ear.

I can picture her but I want to see her. I need to see her. I frantically strain to move my eyes. For a brief moment, my eyelids tighten then relax. It’s not enough.

“Colin’s home for winter break. He came back as soon as we heard about your second stroke. He was here earlier but they were running tests. He said he’ll be back tomorrow.”

Stroke. The word hangs in the air as she takes several slow, deliberate breaths. “He’s thinking of taking a semester off. He did his best through finals but, you know, it’s just been hard on him. He wants to be close.”

The bed shifts as Kate climbs in beside me. She rests her head on my chest. Her body presses against mine. I feel her leg cross over mine. I want to hold her. I want to wrap my arms around her, make her feel safe, protected.

For a long time we lay together in silence, our chests rise and fall in unison. She takes my hand, tenderly laces her fingers between mine. The tip of my index finger rests on her knuckle. I command it to move. I shout at my hand, move. Move! And then I feel movement. Just the faintest hint of a twitch, my finger taps her hand.

Kate freezes up, tightens against me. Did she notice?

“Frank.” She releases my hand, places her hand on my shoulder. “They’re asking about an advance directive. I can’t even think about that. We’ve worked so hard to get here. We’ve been through so much. This can’t be it. This can’t be it…” She begins sobbing into my chest.

Kate, stop. I’ll to be okay. Just take my hand, you’ll see. We’ll get through this. We’ll be back in the Caribbean getting drunk on the beach.

She gets up and places a kiss on my temple. “I’ll be back tomorrow. Please don’t leave me,” she breathes in my ear.

Kate, please don’t go. I am right here. To hell with their brain scans! I can hear you, every word.

My eyes flutter. My right eye opens slightly. Eyelashes stuck together. Through a haze I see her turn. I see her take steps toward the door. Exhausted, frustrated, my eye closes.

The door opens and closes. The room darkens. She’s gone.

I lay for what seems like hours, listening to the oscillating gasp and sigh of the breathing machine. I try not to think about what she’s going through. I debate cancelling the Caribbean trip. Maybe we’ll go skiing or white water rafting instead. The last place I want to be right now is a hammock.

I hear the door once more, followed by brisk footsteps and swift motions. Clicks and snaps. I feel a rush of cold within my arm.

“She’s a strong woman,” the doctor says. “She’s been here every day since your stroke. You’re a lucky man. Were a lucky man.”

What?

“For months now as your condition worsened. She’s holding onto hope, but you haven’t responded to any of my treatments. It’s time to let go.”

You’re giving up on me? Run another test! I’m right here!

“I know you can hear me, Frank. Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of her when you’re gone.”


S. P. Carter is a software engineer by day, writer by night. He has authored several short stories and is currently working on his first novel, ‘Unraveling’. His writing spans the horror, thriller, sci-fi and fantasy genres, with morally ambiguous characters and stories that challenge the standards of traditional fiction. When he’s not crafting psychological nightmares on paper, he’s reading, reviewing other writers, playing with his children, or on rare occasion, sleeping.

Green

by R.C. Peris

Like a beast from worn, ancient hills and hidden caves riddled with crevice worms

Eve was starved, wild – a thing so similar to the thundering lizards roaming sweltered plains

She was collapsing, inward, cheeks fallen in and separated bones poking thin skin

She had Adam’s magic rib so graciously given to her so she could have life – breath, form

In her knotted hair crinkled, cracking leave corpses cluttered reminding of winter future

Final death of universal autumn running to time’s end where winter guts all, the bitter mass

Adam preferred the high weeds, cracking neck bones of deep roaming mammals, flinging flints

He paid no attention to Eve withered from minus attention, her organs drying in curdled blood

She had his rib but he did not notice the vacancy, the hole blasted with God’s dynamite touch

Near a tree Eve’s gluey tears stuck to pale, yellow dried grasses for Eden was wasting in drought

The serpent was disturbed, upset in a mirror and only wanted the immediacy of misery to die

Eve gazed to the white sky for the sun was new and balmy glowing hues had yet to refine

The serpent chucked a book through the nearly juiceless air from the tall, blooming tree

It hit Eve on the neck and fell open, alien marks from an alien beast, she could not read

The serpent chucked a perfected fruit through the shriveled air from the eternal, flowering tree

Eve, ravished with hunger and raving in mind, bit the flesh candied and luscious, velvet soft

Knowledge trickles slow, drop, drop, beading like sweat on fine fevered skin in summer heights

Her sinews plumped, her cheeks expanded and fattened, her hips a maddening curve of song

Eve knew all, her purpose and her strength, and she went to the savannah to find oblivious Adam

She found him crouching by a beast with bristled hair and in his hand was a sharpened stick

Adam was callow, a He-child ready to kill the life, the animal he thought was given to him

God said dominion and Adam knotted rope and tethered all his gifts, interpreted subjugation

Eve handed the saccharine bitten core to Adam to eat, let the infinite light flood his nucleus

Adam was suspicious of Eve and her bizarre outline, without him she would have no life

She looked at him, feral and now soft, filled out and flooded with some heat he didn’t know

He was hungry so he consumed and took in all that nutritious fruit, the only thing forbidden

And when the knowledge came to him, not slow but a torrent, a waterfall in the hidden soul

He sat down the weapon and fell upon Eve, now familiar, no longer a child, and with his rib

Eve allowed him in, a hot smile and something more humanly primitive than the riches of Eden

There were no terrifying angels, fluttering wings or mountains to scale for the precipice plunge

There was green, varied, articulated, lustrous, dark and light, a billion hues as Adam moved

It rained in Eden but the water was home and it flooded the thirsty and graced the soil

The animals shivered, the serpent wetted and slick, and even God wept for Adam and Eve

For the love growing in the leafy, pliable kernel – the verdant abyss rising up in Eve

Crescendo thunder, blinding silver lightning, magma swelling beneath the rigid land

Eve screamed in the illumination and Adam quivered in the realization, sudden weighty love

She said to breathless Adam, “You gave me absorbing life, splash of seed, a dear libation.”

She said to sleepy Adam, “Thank you for the rib and the green sapling shooting in my soul.”

And Eve slept under a bower of crystal smeared stars and winked at the expanding time


R.C. Peris, when not writing, dreams of having a chicken sanctuary, a sloth as a walking partner, and a refrigerator full of cheesecake. She loves polka dots, mixing cocktails, and mysteries – from Sherlock Holmes to the quirkiness of quantum stuff. She has published three books and is feverishly at work on a few screenplays, when not writing short stories. She comes from a land that is occasionally full of fire, floods, rumbling earth, famous people, and with a tendency to riot – California.

Side Effects May Occur

by KS Avard

Jensen had barely gotten his pants back on when she returned, a thick sheaf of papers in her hands. “Well, I have good news for you, Mr. Howard! I think we can resolve a few of your symptoms.”

Jensen felt his breath leave in an explosive gasp of relief. For weeks he had been suffering from the severest paranoia, barely able to sleep, eat, or breathe knowing that someone was out to get him.

He had noticed the cars following him, the parade of new faces that watched his every move while they pretended to go about their own faked routines. “So you can give me something for my insomnia? And my indigestion? And my involuntary asphyxia?” He waited for her nod. “What the hell are you waiting for then?” he cried.

“Well, it’s an experimental procedure and cannot be reversed if you don’t like the result.” said his doctor. “There is evidence that it’s occasionally toxic,” she replied, chewing her lip. “In fact, there are a whole list of possible side effects.”

“I don’t care!” he bellowed. “I just want to sleep!”

His doctor smiled angelically. “Well, I think we can manage that. I will need you to sign this form here and then turn around so I can administer the shot.”

Jensen scribbled his name furiously on the sheet filled with legalese, not reading the fine print but knowing that, at last, he would finally be able to sleep. “That it?” he asked, smiling in relief as she, too, smiled nodded again. “Now the injection?” he asked.

“Yes, sir! Just turn around and I’ll handle the rest.” He began to unbuckle his pants again, his hands fumbling with the zipper when she cooed, “That won’t be necessary.”

“No?” he asked. Turning to face the wall, he heard a drawer slide open, a click or two as the doctor prepared the needle for his injection. Finally able to begin to relax, he examined the wall, for the first time seeing the most peculiar flecks of red among the whiteness of the wallpaper. A lump formed in his throat as he felt a most un-needle-like sensation. “Exactly what’s in this shot?” he asked, wincing as deathly-cold metal was pressed to the nape of his neck. “Acepromazine? Droperidol?”

She chuckled, the sound hideous and ugly. “No, Mr. Howard,” she said, pulling the trigger.

“Just a little bit of lead.”


An aficionado of the anachronistic, a baron of the bizarre, KS Avard first studied
politics at Rutgers University before discovering the tenets of morality and upright living. From there, he pursued higher education before realizing that his way with words was worth way more than a simple wending of his way through life. Though he has yet to find mass media publishing representation, he scribbles and writes day in and out, new tales delivered daily sometimes, weekly on others, a backpack of books and filled notebooks his company at cafes and coffeehouses. Follow him on Twitter @KS_Avard