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July 2019: “Represent & Sentiment” Call For Submissions

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
– E. L. Doctorow

Share your original flash fiction, non-fiction, or poetry piece that fits our theme by Sunday, July 28 for a chance to be included in our publications that following week.

Be sure to send in your work via our Submissions page!

Here’s a word list to prompt some inspiration – try writing a 400 word description or stream of consciousness for each one, then go back and expand on an idea that stands out to you the most:

The Feeling
The Idea
The Portrayal
The Sensation
The Symbol

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Beyond the Trees

by Benjamin Locke

‘Come on Alex, Final Departure!’ Seth’s voice came jumbled through the thicket.

‘Be right there Seth,’ returned Alex, pulling down the visor of his helmet and slamming it shut, taking a last long look at the planet he called home. The moment he and Seth had trained years for was finally upon them. The first men to step on to another planet, the new frontier of human exploration, XR019. They would be heroes here and they would be aliens there. He took a long deep breath through the assisted airway of the helmet and stepped off the platform, the adrenaline of reality finally beginning to course his veins.

‘All systems checked, ready for departure captain.’ Seth relayed followed by the scheerk of the intercom.

Captain Alex Montgomery took his seat at the head of the cockpit and fastened himself in, ‘Ready for liftoff Lieutenant.’

The men paused a moment and looked at each other, raising a fist before their faces. A symbol of solidarity, something only they understood between them. It said this is it friend. We’re in this together, let’s bring it home!

A sound like the earth itself was imploded roared through them as the rocket engines burst in to life and everything around them shook like a chandelier riding the waves of the San Andreas fault. The men finally retracted their hands and clung on for their lives as their ship propelled them toward the unknown.

The journey took only a few hours but when finally the ship hit XR019’s atmosphere, it lit up the turquoise sky in a shower of brilliant yellow. Creatures never seen before far below, looked on in awe and fear as their sky seemed to be ripped apart.

The landing was rough and when the craft eventually ground to a halt, they looked at each other with a shared expression of concern but also joy. They had made it yes but would the ship be able to carry them home or would they be trapped here until rescue could finally arrive?

The captain clawed at his harness and ripped himself free. ‘Lieutenant, see if you can get that door open, I want a full eval and status report as quick as you can.’

Seth, already free of his seat nodded to his captain and headed for the cabin door. Alex tried to contact mission control but was met only by static and clicking. No use. He tried throwing switches here and there. Lights lit up and went out, the console danced a brilliant dance but gave him nothing more.

‘Sir,’ Seth called from behind, ‘We’ve taken some damage to the rear of the ship. The hull has not been breached but comms are down.’ He took a breath and continued, ‘engines seem stable as far as I can tell but I’ll know more when we get outside.’

Alex nodded, ‘Thank you Lieutenant, let’s see if we can’t get out there then shall we?’ The men smiled slowly at each other. The joy of discovery seeming to bubble up over the fear of being stranded millions of miles from home.

They raised their fists once more in silent communication and Alex added, ‘Let’s get this mission done old friend.’ The mission being a recon. Life on earth had turned sour and the human race was looking for its new home. Their job on XR019 was basically to be Guinea Pigs. Test the atmosphere, look for signs of intelligent life however small and report home.

The airlock door between them hissed and a cloud of vapour shot around the edges. The door lifted free and the first light of XR019 hit them. Alex took a breath making sure his helmet was sealed and lead a first nervous step through the opening, his heavy boot crunching underfoot on the dense forest floor.

Outside their suits the air was close and full of moisture. The sounds of giant crickets and other alien insects rang through their helmets and for a moment it seemed like any other country walk back on Earth. Except it wasn’t. The chirping was so loud and fierce, like nothing you could hear back home and the trees, the trees where a sight to behold. Each of them taller and wider than General Sherman, the largest tree on earth. The men simply stood a while, mouths agape with awe.

‘Lieutenant, what do we know about the atmosphere?’

Seth was tapping away at small keyboard mounted to his left wrist. ‘Air seems stable, Oxygen levels high. Simulation reports a 99.19% chance of human survival.’
No sooner had he finished, Alex reached under his helmet and pulled at the release mechanism.

‘Sir, what if…’ Seth began but Alex cut him off with a raised palm.
The face of his helmet lifted free and he breathed the rich air for the first time. It was satisfying and somehow sweet. The air in the suit was good but had a tendency to dry out the throat like an over air-conditioned gift store on international drive.

Adrenaline overcame him again as his rationale realised there was a 0.81% chance he had just breathed poison but as the air rushed in and out, the pounding in his temples gave way to euphoria.

‘Come Seth, shall we embark on the greatest adventure in human history?’ Alex said, holding his hand out toward the great unknown, leading the way beyond the trees.
Then, the chirping stopped and gave way to a voice, a voice so very…Human.

‘Boys! Dinner’s ready!’

The men, no longer men but boys looked at each other frowning. Alex took off his tinfoil and cola bottle helmet and discarded it inside their scrap-wood and cardboard space craft.

’Scheerk…Lieutenant come in. Adventure awaits…after Cheeseburgers!

The boys laughed and smiled and ran through the scrub land until they found the back gate of the Captain’s house. The greatest discoveries of human history would have to wait until after dinner.


Benjamin is a fiction writer living in Yorkshire, England. He writes anything from High Fantasy to Supernatural Thrillers and is a big fan of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. Find free stories and more on his website, benjaminlockewriter.com

Inkling To A Stranger

by Heather Bellinger

Light curves like a question mark
as it enters a stranger’s mouth.

It dives, like a confident downstroke,
and commas to kiss the tongue.

It soothes the throat with assonance,
alliteration, drops ellipses of rhyme,
reminding him he’s more than a forlorn epithet.


Heather Bellinger is a recent Corban University graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in English. She enjoys writing poetry of all sorts, flash fiction, and plays, and can be found roaming around in bookstores, theatres, or her kitchen pantry as she attempts another British dessert. She plans to continue writing as she pursues teaching, graduate school, and theatre.

Before

by Sarah Bigham

Before
he was mine
sunshine boy
and running free
he lived
in surf
and sand
and pools
on skis
and boards
and towers
that glow

Before
he was mine
he burned their
eyes in Adonis
glory and ached
their throats
from laughing
and twitched
their lips in
effortless beaming
at the magic
he wrought

Before
he was mine
he was someone
else’s others’
centers and
the friends’
friend a blaze
for moths and
butterflies dowsed
out on a train
on the tarmac
on the ground

Now
he is mine
among the
stars and
clouds and
birds flying
across drenched
sheets on reddened
lazy mornings
as he lies
softly next
to me


Sarah Bigham writes from Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, several chronic pain conditions, and near-constant outrage at the general state of the world tempered with love for those doing their best to make a difference. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, Sarah’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of great places for readers, writers, and listeners. Find her at www.sgbigham.com

A Farmer’s Viewing Station

by John Grey

He once thought just land was beauty,
or a gold that moved in
whenever the topsoil was exposed

but the crop makes him think
of help that will never come,
dirt that nickels and dimes him to desperation,

and rocks, once necklace now headstone.
Who emptied the Earth, he wonders.
Who dressed the bones hot as a stove.

Everywhere he looks,
fastened to the windows,
stunted fields of corn.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.