Son of Rock

Son of Rock

Son of Rock January 7, 2319: Old Rock Day by August Niehaus “I don’t understand why you choose to torment me like this,” Fred’s mother said, and Fred hung up and threw the phone across the room. He ground his teeth together. He had placed the long-distance call to StarChip III to wish her happy Mother’s Day, thinking—wishing? Dreaming? Naïvely believing?—she might have a normal conversation with him, just this once. No such dumb luck. She’d been in a foul mood; there were more of those than there used to be, or maybe Fred noticed them as an adult. As usual, Marjorie Hall had had something to say about her son’s cancer research career. You could have been an artist. A luthier, like your father, your grandmother, your great-grandfather before her. Yes, Mother, I could have, he’d said, the looming horizon of his 45th birthday stiffening his spine a bit,... Read More
Hilda’s Secret

Hilda’s Secret

Hilda's Secret by August Niehaus "Bye, Mama!" Hilda squealed as she pushed out the door. Ylsa clung to her like a furry shadow, ducking to Hilda's left side to avoid the satchel swinging at the girl's side. "Before dark, Hilda!" Even through the closed door, her mother's voice boomed hoarsely, a result of the projection spell she'd cast on herself the night before at the music festival. At age eleven, Hilda thought it was very improper for a mother to go make a fool of herself at the same parties as the rebellious kids from Hilda's school. She was glad for a reason to run out into the woods with Ylsa, the girl and the cat alone, to explore and escape to other worlds through the characters they became. Such freedom came at the cost of finding a few ingredients for her mother's latest brew. Hilda considered the price fair,... Read More
Felix and Stella

Felix and Stella

Felix and Stella by August Niehaus   Stella is a witch. She’s not the kind of girl Felix can bring home to his mother, but he doesn’t care. His mother hasn’t called him down to the docks for months, and he knows the Felicity pulled out of port a few days ago. Felix is just glad Stella lets him climb up through her window and curl up in her bed to fall asleep with her arms around him. It’s what he wants for the rest of his life. Stella wakes Felix up every morning by planting a kiss on his nose, and then he smiles and yawns and she tickles him until he rolls out of bed. While she makes her tea and reads the leaves, he watches her from the living room; it’s warmer there, in front of her fire that never goes out. Sometimes she reads to him... Read More

In The Beginning, There Was Love

In the Beginning, There Was Love by Jill Corddry     Niamh loved a bargain. Haggling with merchants along the dusty village square was her favorite weekly past time. Father feigned disapproval. Mother ducked her head in mock shame, muttering worthless apologies. In truth, they loved the coins Niamh saved them, the extra butter and eggs she acquired. It wasn’t easy being the plain, simpler older sister, but the occasional sweet or bundle of herbs she brought home especially for me softened the manner in which others scorned or outright overlooked me. “Betha! Oh, dearest sister! Look what I have for us!” I glanced up from the book in my lap. Niamh’s joy shone like dawn on the first day of summer. Her long braids, pale as that of the goddess she was named for, swung in time to the music of her voice. Even I could not deny the... Read More
Prometheus

Prometheus

Prometheus By Nicole Williams The ferrets had been the first to discover the Gift, when they stretched their long bodies to reach the sap off of the trees to mix it with their nimble paws - berries and melted spring water and tiny gruff mutterings. The word of the ferrets’ discovery had sent a ripple across the small-footed tribes of the Murai like a shiver across fur, and over moons and seasons and revolutions nearly all of the inhabitants of Blue Hollow had learned their own clever tricks: chants for abundant berries, conjurings to shield naked and whimpering young from prying noses, strange spells for lighting a nest through the bitter dark of a winter’s night. The forest became so thick with Gift-conjuring that it hung off of branches next to the vibrant moss. In the autumn, when the air was most alive, it dripped from whiskers and clung to... Read More
On A Wing and A Prayer

On A Wing and A Prayer

On A Wing & A Prayer by Jill Corddry   Most days the line at the downtown soup kitchen stretched around the block an hour before it even opened. Today–an unexpectedly windy, chilly day of the kind that usually drove those in need inside for more than mere sustenance–the line was a good three-quarters of what it should be. Angela would know. She’d been in charge of The Church of Mary’s soup kitchen for over three years. A glance at her best friend Lorna, slicing donated day-old bread, showed a mirrored surprise. Still, the huddled masses needed to be fed; her concerns would need to wait until later. Three-quarters of the expected people would still demand one hundred percent of her attention, so Angela returned her focus to the veggies on her chopping board. Lunch wasn’t for another three hours, but she had plenty to prep. Before long, the homey... Read More
Tea for Deux

Tea for Deux

Tea for Deux by August Niehaus   Not beloved, not reviled—just an essential color in the 1500-odd human tapestry of Willowglen, Minnesota: this was what Vivette and Shirley wanted to be, and had wanted to be for almost two decades now. That, and to finally host their grand tea party, once and for all. Here they were, in the perfect house for a sternly unsettling tea party for the retirees, farmers, and college students of Willowglen, whose faces were all lightened attractively by their phone screens. Here they were, an adorable, aloof, timeless middle-aged couple—the perfect anesthetic for the small Midwestern town nestled up to tiny Lake Serenity. They’d moved here in their 30s, melded into the sticky air and wispy clouds, and decided never to move again. Two women, two birds, one likely haunted shingle-style Victorian home on the outskirts of a three-block downtown. This was exactly what they... Read More

Drama in Exile

DRAMA IN EXILE BY JANICE LICHTENWALDT   Mirain roughly scraped her right cheek back and forth against a piece of blue mark-out tape on the main stage floor. The dried tears had started to itch where they had left salty streaks. The sensation pushed her past caring what he thought. The inflamed blood vessels crisscrossing the whites of her eyes aggravated her blue irises casting a lavender glow when caught by the spotlight. Black smudges of supposedly waterproof mascara veined down the sides of her face. A decent sized goose egg throbbed under her blonde hair just behind her right ear. Mirain’s head pounded out the matching beat of her racing heart. She was fuzzy on what had just happened and was unsure what was coming next. Cheap manila rope cut deeper into her wrists with each micro movement. The feeling in her fingers began to disappear. She would be... Read More
It’s Gonna Be A Lucky Day

It’s Gonna Be A Lucky Day

It's Gonna Be A Lucky Day by Jill Corddry   It all started way back when I was nothin’ but a toddler, maybe two or so. Mama has pictures of me holding whole bouquets of four-leaf clovers. Didn’t even know what they was way back then. Just liked ‘em, you know? Same way a lil one picks a whole buncha dandelions for their Mama.   Anyhow, there’s whole albums of me and my clovers, all the way ‘til I was round about tens or so and wouldn’t let her take ‘em no more. Figured a person only needed so many pictures of themselves holdin’ greenery.   Didn’t matter, cuz by then it was obvious there was something diff’rent about me. Like, I was just always finding stuff. Lucky stuff. Charms, clovers, and the like.   Lucky penny? Every penny I find has its head staring right on at me. I... Read More

FML

  FML by Janice Lichtenwaldt   FML.   This three-letter tweet to the world described Selena’s current state of mind to a T.   School had been a disaster and the subway ride home wasn’t improving the situation. Summer had come early to the city. Sweat rolled down her body and the stench of humanity permeated the train car. She jostled shoulder to shoulder with the other commuters. Side-mouth insults whispered throughout the crowd, everyone considering everyone else to be inconvenient, in the way, in their space.   Selena kept her gaze in a soft focus, being extra careful not to make eye contact with anyone lest she’d have to interact with one of the human sheep. This trip was the worst part of her day. People sucked and having to be packed in with them was her definition of hell. Selena prided herself in her ability to avoid human... Read More
Put A Flower In Your Rocket

Put A Flower In Your Rocket

Put A Flower In Your Rocket by Jill Corddry Asleen strolled the rows of floor-to-ceiling hydroponic containers, stroking the softness of the new leaves, drinking in the humid aroma of life. Her wristband vibrated, a startling reminder of her next commitment. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” she muttered unhappily, casting one last look of longing at the expanse of green. “Have. A. Good. Time. Dr. Juno,” the androgynous monotone vocalization of the garden’s system said as she headed for the sealed doors. “Thanks, DANA,” Leen said. “I’ll be back once the ceremony’s over. Still need to tend to the more mature plants.” “I. Look. Forward. To. Seeing. You. Soon,” the Digital Analyzing & Nurturing Assistant said. “As do I,” she replied as the doors slid shut, cutting off the lovely moisture-rich environment. How sad is that a bodiless voice might be one of my best friends? Dry air hit her lungs,... Read More
The Chessboard

The Chessboard

The Chessboard by August Niehaus   The Monday morning sunlight had already made it intolerable to sit in the Accord. Shaylea shielded her eyes from the light reflecting off passing semis and sighed as she locked her phone. Two minutes until opening. She might as well spend them walking across the parking lot. Shay pulled her bright red polo over her head and smoothed it down over her breasts and belly. The CoinNation uniform might as well have been designed to be unflattering, so well did it disguise Shay’s curves. That, at least, she was glad for; fending off Mack’s unwanted leering would have been much harder had he been able to admire more than just her face. Speak of the devil: he was lurking at the door to the pawn shop, ogling his watch. He flashed his too-white teeth as Shay neared. “One minute’s kinda pushing it, don’t you... Read More
Fordite

Fordite

Fordite   Empty   Marie never noticed the musty smell before now, but it was likely always there, hiding beneath the warm smell of roasted ham and marshmallowed yams.  The house became yellow and brittle in the months since Nana and Baba passed, only now being brought to life by her family scratching through it like carrion birds. “Marie?  Honey, could you hand me that pan?” “Sure, Dad.”  She answered as she maneuvered though the crowded dining room to the kitchen.  Her Dad’s legs splayed across the floor blocking the narrow kitchen as he worked on a troublesome and stinky drain trap. “Thanks, I’ve almost got this.”  He took the plastic pan and slid it under the drain just as putrid black water bubbled out of the elbow joint.  “There.  That should help.  Why don’t you see if there’s anything you want to stick your name on now?  J &... Read More

COPPERTONE® LEGS TASTE GOOD

COPPERTONE® LEGS TASTE GOOD Awake? I am…awake. How long has it been? Why is this happening? I’m warm. Something is wrong. What is that stench? Must move. Must escape this rotten odor. I carefully uncoil my massive serpentine body, each scale clicking and snapping as the stiff connective tissue learns to move again. My body scrapes the sides of the ancient cave, my home. I do not remember the walls being so smooth. They had once provided jagged relief as I eased by them, roughly caressing my muscular body. It is even warmer now. Much warmer. I glide up the midnight tubes created by the great mountain so many eons ago. Circling up, up, up. I twist and turn, flex and stretch, the feeling of movement foreign, but welcome. As I continue up, the foul metallic odor becomes deeper, denser. I consider going back to my dark home, but know I... Read More

Bound By Apathy

Bound By Apathy by Jill Corddry   My parents started to look at me askance on my fifth birthday. Most of us have found our affinity by then: the element or creature or life focus that will define who we are our place in society. It was always obvious. Always. No one, not since The Witch’s Curse, accidentally unleashed one hundred and sixty-three years ago, had gone past their sixth birthday without latching onto something.   Until me.   My sixth birthday came and went, as did seven, eight, and so on. Perhaps it could have been shrugged off and ignored for most anyone else. But not for the child of the town’s Dear Leader and Head Witch. My parents’ pedigree had promised their subjects a child that would guide our community into the future; had all but guaranteed that one of the most powerful witches or wizards ever seen... Read More

The Dog

The Dog by August Niehaus The seatbelt scratched Adi’s bare shoulder when he leaned forward to see over the Indica’s grimy red dash. Summer rays pelted him through the crack in the window, but he was not about to seal off his only relief from the stifling heat. The dusty road rolled out before them like an endless ribbon fluttering through the mountain. Pravin kept his eyes on the road, though he kept raising one hand off the steering wheel to stroke his scraggly stubble, as if it would disappear if he did not check on it constantly. Adi rolled his eyes and dragged his fingernails against the seatbelt fabric. “Stop fidgeting, Adi.” Pravin reached for the radio and filled the car with scratchy pop music. “The car does not go faster if you move more in your seat.” “So wise, brother,” Adi mumbled. “As wise as your beard is... Read More

A Much Better Way to Live Forever

A Much Better Way to Live Forever by Annika, age 9   If you ever find yourself in a situation where you must lie to get out of trouble, afterwards you normally feel guilty for what you did. But when you are a ninety-two-year-old woman or an eighty-nine-year-old man in a small jail cell for catnapping, then you don’t feel guilty, you feel exhilarated. Carla, a ninety-two-year-old woman was always the first one to break the silence when they were waiting in jail. “So daughter, have you read any good books lately?” “Mom! You have got to stop getting yourself into jail.” “Bu-” “No. No buts this time.” “Wait you haven’t heard what we did this time,” Timmy, an eighty-nine-year-old man snickered loudly then continued, “Well…we got a cat…took him inside…and gave him a bath,” he said “And how are you in trouble for that?” She put her hands on... Read More

Under Covers

Under Covers by Jill Corddry   The door closed with a not-slam, but the whoosh-snick might as well have been a thunderclap for all the emotion residing in it. Mara stood on one side, her parents on the other. Their voices were hushed, but not hushed enough. Not that it mattered. She knew what they were saying; the fight was on repeat a thousand times over.   Mother’s voice was flat, matter-of-fact. “It happened again. In front of several parents this time.”   “It was only a matter of time. Why are you even surprised anymore?” Father snapped, not bothering now to keep his voice to secretive levels. His footsteps creaked in the same old frantic pacing, the steps heavy with annoyance at yet another disruption to his desire for normal. When Mother paced, it carried a staccato of worry that even the threadbare carpet of the hasty rental couldn’t... Read More

The Reptile Man

The Reptile Man by August Niehaus   Candace sucked on her lips and stared at the foggy glass doors, willing them to open. She turned her glare on the woods, her puffy jacket rustling when she shivered. This high up in the mountains, the fog clung stubbornly to the tops of trees even well after sunrise, giving the tiny shack on the side of the freeway an air of extra creepiness. The flickering, droning sign with the alligator on it didn’t help. She’d been on some field trips in her life, and this was shaping up to be one of the stupidest. Candace pulled her phone out of her pocket again and sighed. 9:58 AM. The bus had dropped them off almost an hour ago; Ms. Rose hadn’t bothered to do her homework and find out what time the reptile zoo really opened. The owner clearly cared about sticking to... Read More

Eloise – by Penelope Wright

I spread my arms wide and smiled, twirling around. The air was sharp, but not with an edge that would cut me. My skin tingled, invigorated, and I soaked up most of the available energy, while being careful to leave a little behind to regenerate in the atmosphere. I watched it sparkle its crackling color, the one we called Ruby, with a capital R, like it was a name rather than a label. It was nothing like the color of the shiny ruby in Teresa’s necklace, the one she wore every day, which dangled pendulously between her large, squishy breasts. I don’t know why we called it Ruby, when it was so different from an actual ruby. But we all – well, most of us – knew what we were talking about. “Eloise!” Teresa’s voice startled me from my thoughts. Now that was sharp, and unlike the air, this razor... Read More

Fairly Bad Mother

                       "It's that time of year again, folks! Time to move your family away from that dinner table and dust off the dinner trays and watch as Gardenville's finest singers compete in the annual VOCE Idols competition. A three-hour showdown of talents hosted by last year's winner, Babby Winters. And just like last year, the committee has selected twenty contestants from your thousands of video auditions, and tonight, right here on channel three, those twenty contestants will battle it out for the chance to win the grand prize: a two-year record deal with Empress Records…" Goldie Drave mutes the television and swivels her hands back to the piano keys. If she's going to win, she needs to focus on nailing this song, not panicking over the fact that she's going to sing before a real-life, living and breathing audience of... Read More

The Space Between

The Space Between by Janice Lichtenwaldt   Cindy should have been suspicious when Ronnie stopped her before third period asking for help with a “personal issue.” Nobody ever came to Cindy with issues, personal or other. So when Ronnie asked for help Cindy jumped at the chance. They were to meet in the northeast girls restroom 10 minutes before the ending lunch bell rang. The location couldn’t have been more appropriate for the eventual utter humiliation the Honey Hive inflicted on Cindy; a run-down, rust encrusted little-used room of waste elimination. The actual event of shame was so run-of-the-mill. So ordinary. So basic.  She should have seen it coming, but Ronnie seemed so damn concerned. At the appointed hour, Cindy met Ronnie in the bathroom. Ronnie led her into the wheelchair stall and when she turned around her pupils where so big Cindy couldn’t tell the color of her eyes.... Read More

The Axedental Antecedent

The Axedental Antecendent by Jill Corddry     You know that saying, when you have a big decision to make, that an axe is hanging over you? I used to say it all the time. But you know what? That feeling is nothing like having a literal axe hanging over you. Trust me. Let me back up a little bit––or a lotta bit––while I can. See, about five years ago, something happened. No one ever fessed up to the hows or the whys. Or the whos. Names were bandied about. Blame was thrown at anyone who reeked of involvement. But in the end, it was done. Magic. Actual real magic. Not advanced science and technology that we simply couldn’t understand. The best minds got right on it and proclaimed it, definitively, NOT SCIENCE. Sounds pretty amazing, right? And maybe at first it was. But ultimately there was nothing amazing about it. Think of all the... Read More

Love Me Fender-Bender

Love Me Fender-Bender by August Niehaus Glida poked her Mazda Miata’s snout over the sidewalk and checked the oncoming traffic, a cheeseburger clutched in her mouth. While she waited for the city bus to roll past, she glowered at the gathering storm clouds. Just her luck—she’d put Betsy’s top down moments ago, so of course it was going to rain. Any tips she pocketed today would go to upholstery repairs—not culinary school. She rested her hand protectively on the bag in the passenger’s seat, which was labeled “The ‘Craft Store” with its distinct pentagram-of-wands logo. On second thought… Glida rested the bag in her lap instead. It was the second premium love potion order this week, a rare occurrence even when Tante Darya had a deal up on Groupon. Glida wasn’t about to screw up a premium delivery. Not again. Not with next quarter’s tuition on the line. The burger... Read More
Meanwhile in Florida

Meanwhile in Florida

Meanwhile in Florida By Amy King   Restarting in a moment “That’s nice. Except for the part where I didn’t ask you to restart. I asked you to print my spreadsheet.” Charlie’s left eye squints in disapproval as he watches the six white balls pull themselves around in a spinning circle on the screen. They dance around themselves, mocking his attempts to accomplish anything before the doors open and the inevitable sea of witches and wizards flood the waiting room of the Department of Reversals and Repairs of Palm Springs (DRRPS). Or, as Charlie likes to call it, “Derps”. It’s a sign. Coffee. Charlie grabs his mug and trudges toward the break room and straight to the coffeepot. He hears a light slish of liquid swirling the bottom of the metal pot. Empty…sigh. He unscrews the lid (the one meant to keep the liquids inside warm—all two teaspoons of it)... Read More

Blessed Be

Blessed Be by Janice Lichtenwaldt The old man’s classical flamenco guitar echoed off the walls of the ancient passageway, mixing with the sharp stench wafting up from the ground. The smooth cobblestones glistened red in the moonlight snaking into the narrow alley. Small chunks of pineapple and pear filled the crevices between the stones. Fighting back the urge to vomit herself, Allison listened to the scrape of chairs around the corner and pictured the bar patrons moving tables. “How the hell did we get here, Connie?” Connie answered with another round of purging, barely missing Allison’s new purple and green espadrilles purchased just that afternoon at La Manual Alpargatera. Allison didn’t flinch and continued her duty of holding back Connie’s silky blonde hair. “Estimat, puc ajudar-te?” came softly from the alley entrance. “Fuck off,” Connie answered from her bent position, dragging the back of her hand across her mouth, catching... Read More

I Wish Thee A Faerie Nice Day

I Wish Thee A Faerie Nice Day by Jill Corddry Ganna glanced down at her pointy purple nails and sighed. Why did this always take so long? She covered a second huff with a sugary smile, the one all wishers expected, full of curiosity and promise. Her eyes widened intentionally. She batted her green and purple eyelashes at the grotesque human quivering in front of her.   “Shall I ask again?” she purred, flying closer to his obnoxious face. She fluttered her long, thin wings faster, creating a hypnotic, prismatic effect that might hurry things along. “What wish may I have the honor of granting you?”   Their wishes were always the same: to be more attractive or richer, to find love, to have fast cars and big houses. Boring. Boring. Boring. But she was expected to wave her dumbass magic wand, fling a bunch of glitter around (that stuff... Read More
Wingman

Wingman

Wingman by August Niehaus   Savas doesn’t give the woman a second glance when she deposits herself and her oversized red handbag on the bar stool to his right. His attention is on his best friend, whose reaction to the story of Kimberleigh breaking up with him is distressingly underwhelming. “This was worse than anything Celia ever did to you,” Savas barks, slamming his whiskey down for emphasis. The bar’s other patrons twitch and subtly turn away from him, and the bartender sends a dark glower his way. Savas meekly raises the glass towards one and all, his eyebrow twitching, and continues speaking to Russell in a more level tone, “I might as well have been a tablecloth at a cheap restaurant: there by design, and still undesirable.” Russell might be hiding a smirk behind his beer glass. “For a second I thought you were gonna say ‘sticky and dirty.’”... Read More

Erased

Erased by Dylan Romero It started with my mom. Her memory would slip and she would mistake me for Dad, even though he had been gone for years. Or worse, she would forget altogether. One day the nurse at the home gave me a look—a weird combination of frustration and comfort—as I entered my mom’s room. Mom had been forgetting more and more, but was generally happy to see a familiar face, even if only vaguely so. But today was different. Not only did she look upset, she didn’t look herself at all. “Hi Mom! It’s me, your favorite son,” I said with forced cheer. I had been throwing in the “son” part for a few weeks now to help jog her memory. It seemed to work, or she would pretend like it did at least. I think she was just happy to have someone to talk to. Mom had... Read More

Imbolg

IMBOLG BY JANICE LICHTENWALDT “Genaine, thank you for doing this for me,” Weylin said. Genaine spat on the ground in front of him. “I’m not doin’ it for you, my lord. I’m doing it for Brigid,” growled the elder woman. “Someone needs to look after this child in the way she would have wanted.” Weylin stood calmly nodding his head in affirmation. Keitha thought she might have even seen a tug at the corner of his mouth. “Yes, of course. My mistake. Praise be to the goddess that you are here to serve.” Keitha thought she detected a slight lack of sincerity in her father but his reverence seemed to have placated the older woman. “Now, be off with you and let me see what I’ve got to work with here.” She dismissed Weylin and grabbed Keitha by the hand, pulling her into the recesses of her stone cottage. The... Read More

Working Title

Working Title by Jill Corddry It started small, as weird little annoyances. I couldn't find my keys anywhere. I looked under couch cushions, dared to stick a hand under the couch–and tried not to think about the crumbs and goo my fingers were crawling through. I searched in the laundry hamper and went through all the pockets of my jeans, then every jacket and hoodie I could find strewn about my studio apartment. I mean, the place is, like, minuscule. How many spots were there for keys to hide? Think, Emma! THINK! Where did you toss them last night? I was beginning to believe a ghost had made itself at home when I finally found them hanging on a little hook by the front door. Definitely not where I left them. Okay, probably not where I left them…I was pretty sure I didn't even know there was a hook by... Read More
If Wishes Were War Horses

If Wishes Were War Horses

If Wishes Were War Horses by August Niehaus   They say there’s a war horse that lives over in Hideaway, New Mexico, whose hooves throw sparks like hellfire and whose breath could move the moon. They say the horse is made of metal from a fallen star, forged and assembled by some automaton god. They say that horse grants wishes, if only you can gentle it long enough to straddle its shoulders. They say a lot of things.   It was only June, and Hideaway was already thirsty. The channels down the sides of Tenmile Mesa sat bone-dry and dusty. A few of old Gracie’s cows died of thirst that morning, just lay themselves down and stopped moving before the sun finished rising. A sudden clattering din around 9 a.m. drew me to my shop window, then to the porch, where I watched a gleaming horse thunder down Tenmile Mesa... Read More