by Matthew P.S. Salinas
The water dropped in faint, arrhythmic clicks that pattered against the pavement. The cold winds had lessened for the foreseeable future. Leslie rolled over beneath the abundant cardboard mass allowing her to stay dry. There was a creak and a warping. She knew what came next. The box would cave in, and she’d be off to find another refrigerator box in another back alley.
The moist smell of the pavement and the coldness brought back warm memories, despite feeling unpleasant. There was something cathartic about it all. Leslie couldn’t quite explain it—she began remembering--
Suddenly, the roof caved in.
* * *
Matthew P.S. Salinas is an author from Illinois who writes short stories in all genres and poetry. He has two published works and is continuing to publish two more books by the end of the year. He lives with his wife Jordana and their two cats.
Magic Mirror Under the Water,
Who Shall I Sent to the Slaughter?
by Jason P. Burnham
Four kilometers beneath the Pacific, the asynchronous mirror swirled its impossible circle, static from beyond leaking into Jim’s headset. It almost sounded like a voice.
“Do you copy?” said a voice Jim recognized.
“Jim. We’ve got eyes on you, but you gotta speak; you can’t just nod. What’re you seeing?”
Jim vaguely recalled a mission, perhaps scientific? He was here to study… a gravitational anomaly?
The static grew louder, and when he closed his eyes, tendrils of blue caressed the backs of his eyelids.
But it was too late. Mirror Jim had other plans for him.
* * *
Jason P. Burnham is an infectious diseases physician and clinical researcher. He loves many things, among them sci-fi, his wife, sons, and dog, metal music, Rancho Gordo beans, and equality (not necessarily in that order).
The Darkness Has a Damp Bite
by Elizabeth Leyland
The mansion’s builders go home for the night. On the site, water starts to rise. Bubbles glint beneath my smiling face.
The surveyor said there’s no underground spring and the architect sees no need for pumps.
It’s difficult, I know. My system for oceans works well, but freshwater hydrology is tricky. Trickle-y.
And bless my elliptical path, next morning the site is dry.
The youngest labourer is nicknamed Junior, a wispy lad with one day’s work experience. Oops, he has tripped; his hard hat and ear bump the ground.
From his new position, Junior says water is gurgling under the expensive walls. It’s flowing.
Don’t be daft, everyone tells him.
* * *
Elizabeth Leyland writes long and short fiction and has been published by Fairfield Scribes in Issue # 9. She lives in the United Kingdom.
by Lee Hammerschmidt
I was just supposed to clean the pool.
But after three hours of mowing the gargantuan lawn, trimming and pruning the shrubberies, cleaning the gutters, and doing a bunch of other stoop labor on the estate in eighty-degree heat, I couldn’t help it.
I stripped off my shirt and shoes and dove into the water in my cargo shorts. I swam underwater the length of the pool and surfaced at the other end. Man, was that refreshing!
“Shed!” Simone Fontaine, the homeowner, yelled from the patio. “How many times do I have to tell you? No peon in the pool!”
* * *
Lee Hammerschmidt is a Visual Artist/Writer/Troubadour who lives in Oregon. He is the author of the short story collections, A Hole Of My Own and It’s Noir O’clock Somewhere. Check out his hit parade on YouTube!
by Gabriella Herkert
Yesterday’s coffee tasted acrid and unctuous. Reflexively, Ebony nuked it in the microwave. She knew better. She’d ingested twenty years of morning-afters.
Dawn’s sickly rays sliced through the living room curtains. Prodded the sleeping beast. Joe twisted. Sought comfort in a different position on the lumpy couch.
She swallowed. Blistering and bitter. Like last night’s words.
Ebony: Liar. Cheat.
Joe: Paranoid. Fantasist.
Perpetual processing. His muttered vow.
Her ground to dust.
Steeped in regret.
Crazy to order the same and expect a different flavor. She dumped the dregs. Scoured away the sediment of self-reproach.
Must. Brew. Anew.
* * *
Catnapped and Doggone, in Gabriella Herkert’s Animal Instinct mystery series, were published by Obsidian Press. She’s been a finalist for the Debut Dagger, the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin’s Press Best First Private Eye Novel, the Ray Bradbury Fellowship, the Daphne Du Maurier Award and the Maui Writer’s Conference Rupert Hughes Award.
A Brave, New World
by Maria Nestorides
The customer rep’s lipstick shimmers through her transparent mask. Her eyes widen as she scans the blood on my hands.
Dog eat dog.
My movements are slow, deliberate. No use wasting what little breath I have. I don’t have a mask, but soon I won’t need one.
I only have the necessary piece.
“One down payment.” I place the box on the counter.
She lifts the lid, picks up the severed finger, unfazed, and places it on the fingerprint scanner. The elevator door instantly swings open. Down I'm rocketed, far from the pollution, towards clean air, oxygen—and life.
* * *
Maria Nestorides lives in sunny Cyprus. She is married and has two adult children. She has an MA in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her short stories have appeared in Silver Birch Press, The Sunlight Press, and The Story Shack.
by Robert Runté
Proper nouns went first. I did not miss them, because context always carried us through. And pointing substitutes for common nouns and mime for verbs; and adjectives are but color commentary that one can do as easily without. You could lose all the words, and I would love you still.
I love our wordless dog.
It's the repetition. Having to answer the same question twelve times an hour. Worse: your questioning some ancient memory best forgotten, unrelenting.
No Extended Care Home for you. Some questions must not be asked in front of others.
Has to, then, be the pillow.
* * *
Robert Runté is Senior Editor with EssentialEdits.ca. A former professor, he has won three Aurora Awards for his literary criticism. His own fiction has been published in over forty venues; four of his short stories have been reprinted in “best of” collections, such as Canadian Shorts II.
by Alastair Millar
“Your skin tastes different,” he says, nuzzling.
“Not like last night.” His lips brush her earlobe. They’d met at Marvin’s, a respectably disreputable bar.
“No, really. Less… salty, I guess.”
“You made me sweat.” She smiles lazily.
He traces the lines on her face.
“When I first saw you, I couldn’t tell if these were tats or printed circuits. Still can’t.”
“Good. Take me for who I am, not what I am.”
“And... what are you?”
“Does it matter?”
“I guess… not really.”
He rolls over and takes her as she is.
* * *
Alastair Millar is an archaeologist by training, a translator by trade and a nerd by nature. Married with two adult children, he lives north of Prague, Czech Republic, and enjoys good books, bad puns and traveling. Links to his previously published short fiction can be found at https://linktr.ee/alastairmillar.
Far, Far Away
by Marisca Pichette
We took shots while the star exploded. Four’s had a perfect view, two long bars pressed against the reinforced windows. Themed cocktails echoed destruction, knocked back as we made our slow orbit around the dying star, chained to a moon we were assured drifted a safe distance away.
Jeel handed me her branded Four’s binos, which she’d purchased at the desk. “Crazy,” she said as I looked through, wincing at the brightness. Alcohol burned my throat. “That a galaxy can just… end.”
I watched fire expand, vanish into darkness. My eyes watered. I lowered the binos, picking up my drink.
* * *
Marisca Pichette's work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Magazine, Room Magazine, SNACK, and Plenitude Magazine, among others. She lives in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by bones and whispering trees. She is on Twitter as @MariscaPichette.
by Melissa Marie Keeping
Janie stood with her family, twinkling eyes gazing at the sky. Her big sister was gripping her hand, and above her in the crowd, she could see her little brother on her daddy's shoulders.
Around her, every family she could think of stood like hers: grabbing each other excitedly, little ones on shoulders, eyes reflecting the lights beginning to dance above them.
The crowd gasped as two lights turned to three and three to four. Anyone who didn't have a hand to hold started clapping.
The lights drew nearer. Janie had never been so excited.
The lights arrived, crashing into the earth. The crowd cheered until they couldn't any more.
* * *
Melissa Marie Keeping is a writer and mom from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the author of the children's book Griffin in the Spring, Creative Writer for Modded Misfits Magazine, and a regular contributor to Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok as @keepingwriting.
by Amita Basu
“How much longer?” Our children’s legs drum against our seatbacks.
The trees that remain blur past. The glamour of this life races through our veins, cocaine.
We wanted to get there quickly. That’s why we’re on this highway. They’re building it night and day. Last we heard, the road, elevated miles above the chasm, stops midway, dropping you to hell.
“Soon, sweethearts.” We smile at them in the rearview.
Let’s hope that before we’ve reached midway, they’ll have built the highway’s second half, taking us safely over the chasm.
See all these cars whizzing past? Everyone’s going the same way.
* * *
Amita Basu’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in many magazines and anthologies, including The Penn Review, Fairlight Shorts, Rollick, Bandit Fiction, and Gasher. She lives in Bangalore, likes Captain Planet, and blogs at http://amitabasu.com/.
A Teller of Tales
by Gene Goldfarb
I am the putative sire
of fantastic stories that issue
forth from the deep belly
of the eastern Mediterranean
where invention and whimsy
are the greasy wheels that
carry lie to belief to dream,
tongue to ear to tongue again
to gain their foothold in
the dusty marketplaces
of North Africa before heading
south beyond the great Sahara.
My last night in Izmir before
I start out will be with dates, figs,
a rich baba ganoush and
a courtesan at half my purse.
Then I must throw sand and
reinvent the tales learned as if new
with no loss in their vigor,
and play the true father spouting.
* * *
Gene Goldfarb lives in New York City. He writes both poetry and prose. His poems have appeared in Black Fox, Sheila-Na-Gig, Green Briar, Trouvaille, Heavy Feather and elsewhere.
The Spring Choir
by Mary Keating
Just before the sun cracks
open an eye toward day
sparrows warble then pipe
Lofty choirs perched on limbs
practice symphonic phrases
over and over and over—excitement
erupts, crescendoes, pauses
A lone cardinal croons
A tufted titmouse tweets tweaks
until the backyard barred owl hoots
with a fledgling song
Later, the moon will steal
her luminosity back
from the sun
Silence will drift
like fresh snow
as birds fall
back into dreams
until the sun brushes
the stars from its eyes
again and spins the world
into another day
* * *
Mary Keating is a disabled writer and lawyer with a solo practice in Darien, CT. Her writing appears in New Mobility magazine, Wordgathering, and Medium.com. Mary lives with her husband Dan in Connecticut.
The Poets' Salon
If you're looking for more poetry, including a place to read your work, receive critiques, and explore poetic forms, check out The Poets' Salon. Two editors of Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, Edward Ahern and Alison McBain, run this free poetry workshop.
Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon EST via Zoom. More info, including how to sign up for the poetry workshop, can be found on The Poets' Salon website or via Meetup.