A Stillborn Dream
by Matthew P.S. Salinas
Will I be very tall or rather short? Will I love the arts or care more for sports? Can I solve all the problems of the Earth? Can I expect peace and tranquility from birth? Will I get to meet all my heroes from when I’m young? Every day, will my heart have a song that demands to be sung? Will I be able to sing?
I know nothing of what I can or will amount to. And I know even less about you.
Will I ever matter? Or am I just fated to always seem to be a stillborn dream?
* * *
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.
by Amita Basu
Bottomless masala chai with flaked almonds kept the grownups warm. We ran around playing Lock-and-Key. Dinner was at twilight: slow-cooked mustard greens, butter chicken, paranthas swimming in ghee, and daal so thick the ladle chopped it up like a mountainside.
In winter in Ropar, we dined in our coats. The steam from the dishes mingled with the steam from grownups’ breaths.
I’d strip double-quick and jump into bed cold-toed with granny and Bhaiya. One comforter covered us all; we tucked it tight and got to work farting. Farts fuelled by thick daal are so hot, we never needed a heater.
* * *
Amita Basu’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in over forty magazines and anthologies including The Penn Review, The Dalhousie Review, Mid-Atlantic Review, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Gasher, and Fairfield Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. She lives in Bangalore, has a PhD in cognitive science, teaches undergraduate psychology, likes Captain Planet, and blogs at http://amitabasu.com/.
A Room Full of Monsters
by Scott Bogart
She pulled the blankets to her chin and let out a blood-curdling scream.
“Quick, hide under the bed,” she whispered.
Her bedroom door swung open.
“What’s wrong, honey? Is it the monsters again?”
“The boogeyman is under my bed!”
“Oh, honey. We’ve been through this before. The boogeyman isn’t real.”
She waited for things to settle.
“Okay, guys—you can come out now.”
Dracula, Slender Man, Bigfoot, a ghost, and a clown spilled out from the closet.
Dejected, Boogeyman slowly crawled from under the bed.
“See!” the other monsters happily jeered. “We told you you’re not real.”
* * *
Scott Bogart is a retired police detective. He lives along the South Carolina coast.
The Glass Eye
by Brian Beatty
Hurley found the glass eye on one of his merchandise tables when he was breaking down his tent after a flea market. The prosthetic was cold to the touch and heavier than it appeared. It was more oblong in shape than round. Where it had come from, Hurley had no idea. Likewise, what he would price it at the next weekend’s sale. The hippie junk man specialized in smalls, but he’d never bought or sold medical devices. For safe keeping, Hurley put the glass eye in an old-fashioned canning jar full of antique marbles then almost immediately forgot about it.
* * *
Brian Beatty is the author of five poetry collections: Magpies and Crows; Borrowed Trouble; Dust and Stars: Miniatures; Brazil, Indiana: A Folk Poem; and Coyotes I Couldn’t See. His jokes, poems and stories have appeared in numerous publications, including CutBank, Evergreen Review, Floyd County Moonshine, Gulf Coast, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Missouri Review, The Quarterly, Rattle, Seventeen and Sycamore Review. Hobo Radio, a spoken-word album of Beatty’s poems featuring original music by Charlie Parr, was released by Corrector Records in 2021.
The Choke's On You
by Lee Hammerschmidt
Detective Garnish looked at the corpse of the naked man on the bed, a sexy bustier wrapped tightly around his throat.
“Looks like another victim of the Veronique’s Mystiques killer,” Garnish said. “This makes five in the last three months. All killed with lingerie items bought from that store.”
“Are you sure?” Detective Parsley, Garnish’s new partner asked. “Maybe it was just rough sex that got out of control.”
“No, there was more of a struggle. Look at the way the hands are clenching the garment. The fingers are on the inside. He fought the bra and the bra won.”
* * *
Lee Hammerschmidt is a Visual Artist/Writer/Troubadour. He is the author of the short story collections, A Hole Of My Own, It’s Noir O’clock Somewhere and For Richer or Noirer. Check out his hit parade on YouTube!
The Frog Cemetery
and the Unwanted Brother
by D X Lewis
Soon after her brother was born, Alison tried flushing him down the toilet.
Mummy smacked her.
Alison went outside to sulk and poke about in the pond. She knew that was wrong. When Mummy called her in for tea, Alison stepped back and squished a baby frog. In horror, she stepped back again and squashed a second.
After toeing the corpses under a stone with her new red sandals, Alison ran inside for fish fingers and peas.
The frog cemetery was still there when her brother drowned in the pond two years later.
Alison never confessed to any murders.
* * *
D X Lewis has worked for Reuters, WHO, and the European Broadcasting Union. His flash fictions
have been published by 101 Words, Writers’ Forum, Bath Flash Fiction, Splonk, Planet Paragraph, and the 2022 Fish and Oxford anthologies. He won the 2021 Bangor 40-word competition and lives in France.
The Curse of the Boyfriend Jumper
by Samantha Carr
Knit one, pearl one.
Hilda showed me how to knit after finding me, after being dumped by Simon. I’m part of the gang now.
Brenda brings cake, Martha makes tea—in a proper teapot. And I bring the gossip.
They’ve heard everything about my dates with Mark, up to our first kiss. They all said I shouldn’t knit a jumper for Mark. It was a curse. But I took my time and told them all about Mark with each stitch. Perhaps the curse was a myth.
But Mark was never real. The jumper is threadbare now when I wear it to bed.
* * *
Samantha Carr is based in Plymouth, UK where she completed an MA in Creative Writing. Her fiction has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words and Fairfield Scribes.
The Ministry of Galaxy Conservation
by Laurie Swinarton
The Minister agreed to add the galaxy to his portfolio and delighted in tending to it. Each morning, he stirred the spiraling dust and gases; at night, the hanging planets and blinking stars performed for him.
But the job lost its freshness and, after millennia of neglect, the watery blue-green planet began to suppurate and stink up his home.
One day it growled, then pricked a hole in the tender spot between his thumb and forefinger. He hurled it toward his fireplace, then jabbed it with his cane and scowled.
“To hell with it,” he said and watched it burn.
* * *
Laurie Swinarton is a part-time writer and full-time tea addict who finds contentment buried in a book with a cup of lapsang souchong tea steeping nearby and Bach playing in the background. When not doing that, she can be found yelling out her window at loud cars. Please follow her on Twitter @laurieiswriting.
Any Way You Slice It
by Robin Blasberg
The blade sent red fluid oozing from the paralyzed specimen’s innards. Then the specimen was removed and a new immobilized sample was brought forth.
Again, the blade was maneuvered side to side. The process repeated once more and a new identifier displayed:
A quick slice prompted a river of red. A computer whirred. A siren sounded. The knife froze midair. There was no need to continue. The processing was complete. A final assessment had been drawn.
The various identifiers belied a commonality amongst the samples. Within, the specimens were all the same.
* * *
Robin Blasberg's stories often make connections in unanticipated ways. Expect the unexpected because clever twists and surprise endings are trademarks of her work. For more details, see her profile here: https://newplayexchange.org/users/74098/robin-blasberg.
by Thompson Emate
Tools of his trade. Tools of his labor. Kept in a box. My keepsakes.
He told me how he acquired them. Sometimes he paused in the middle of the story and shook his head. I knew he had so much to say but felt I wouldn’t comprehend.
“Life is a journey. Its chapters and verses no one knows,” he often said. He also frequently said, “Life is a voluminous book. No one has seen its end.”
Now I understand what those sayings meant. Now I can relate to those words hidden in his chambers.
His tool box. My treasure box.
* * *
Thompson Emate is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He has a deep love for nature and the arts. He spends his leisure time on creative writing, particularly poetry and prose. His poems are mostly themed on life's struggles and vicissitudes. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
by Raydon Barrow
Papa’s ship left one year ago. Mama stopped loving him three years ago. And I was five, sitting between them, feeling warm and safe as we watched emerald waves brush scum from the seawall. Papa said on days like those, if you squinted really hard, you might spot ghost ships as pale as my nightgowns, with tattered sails and sorrowful men longing to be part of the world again. I had shut my eyes and vowed never to squint at the sea.
Until today. Maybe they were only stories. Or maybe… Papa’s ship will sail by and I’ll see him one last time.
* * *
Raydon Barrow was born and raised in Guyana with dreams of becoming an artist, author, and filmmaker. He enjoys anything fantasy, with the occasional appetite for horror. Raydon hopes to someday travel the world, encountering new people, places, and things that inspire stories.
by Christopher C Tennant
An old room. Blue-grey wood. A hundred bottles haunting a mirrored wall.
He comes in. He sits. He lights a cigarette.
One man. Two men. They undo straps, unload a bag. Lots of counting, lots of cash. Divided into fours.
The counting slows. The counting stops. Each man looks at the other.
“Where’s the rest?”
More words, an argument. Angry. Guns.
Everywhere, the flinty chips of the bone-dry wood. Everywhere, the oily black, overtaking grayness. Stop.
Two men ride. Two men stay.
Bottles. Two more spirits line the haunted wall.
* * *
Christopher C Tennant is a Denver, Colorado native who mainly writes poetry, short stories, and literary or experimental works. He has previously published in Academy of the Heart and Mind, and Atlas Obscura among other places.
Self-Effacing New Year's Resolutions
by Mary Keating
Good intentions swirling in his mind, Sirius took his final drag. Wisps of smoke filtered out his mouth, accompanying the incantation guaranteeing a new him. He clinked his last glass to chime in 2023, stomach stuffed with third helpings.
As before, he made it to mid-January.
At the deli, a bag of chips grazed his jacket, crinkled, as he passed by. Cold beer next to bottled water enticed him.
Checking out, he added a pack of smokes.
Munching chips, beer popped open, he lit up. Exhaled smoke streamed out his mouth until a fully formed doppelgänger stood before him—snuffed out his cigarette, then him.
* * *
Mary Keating is one of Scribes*MICRO*Fiction’s featured authors (Issue 18). In addition to Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, her writing appears in New Mobility magazine, Wordgathering, Sante Fe Writer’s Project, Poetry for Ukraine and Medium.com. She is a Pushcart nominee. Mary practices law as a real estate and probate attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut where she lives with her husband Dan.
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If you've written a novel or memoir but are struggling with getting it published, how would you like to have a chat with our associate editor, Alison McBain? She's a freelance editor whose recent novel was published through When Words Count's Pitch Week, which you can read about in Medium's The Writing Cooperative: "How I Jumped the Line & Got a Book Deal."
Send an email to Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to her about nontraditional methods to get a traditional publishing deal, such as the contest that gave her a leg up in the field. If you also send her a 250-word (or less) query, she will weigh in on it free of charge.
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.