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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.



All sorts of monsters live here, from Vampires and Werewolves to Selkie and the ever popular Zombies.

by Alex Acks
Look at the parking lot behind the movie theater. Just look at it. So deserted. Yours is quite literally the only car, and you've managed to park it under the only lamp that's dead. There are just those three employees left in the theater, and they've locked the doors behind you, and I think either they're torturing the popcorn machine to death or maybe that's supposed to be some sort of "techno" music. They won't hear you scream, and I doubt they'd care even if they could. Who sees a midnight horror movie? In a deserted theater? On New Year's Eve? Honestly!
Published on Aug 4, 2015
by David Afsharirad
Catherine shifted in the silk nightgown, worried that it was too much, too over-the-top-Romantic with a capital R. Floor-length and sheer, it made her look like something out of an old-timey movie. But it was periwinkle blue and cornflower yellow, the same as their wedding colors, and if she was honest with herself, she loved it. And because she loved it, Jim would love it too. She wanted this night to be perfect. The past seven months had been difficult, with the time they'd been forced to spend apart after her accident. Now, they'd finally be together once again--and so of course he had to work late. Well, the anticipation would make tonight that much more special. She cast her mind back to that day, one year ago exactly, when they'd stood at the altar and exchanged the vows they'd each written. Hers had been corny--more jokey than anything. But Jim's...
Published on Mar 29, 2016
by Edoardo Albert
So you think the world's become prosaic and dull? There's no mystery any more, no magic? You want enchantment, adventure? You want... monsters? You dream of feeling the downrush of a dragon's wings, of hearing a distant, metallic rhythm and slowly realizing that it's the sound of dwarves, marching, I know you do.
Published on Jun 27, 2012
by Ken Altabef
Gazing at the midnight sky, the stars so far above, my thoughts turn to the possibility of space travel. How easy it would be if you didn't have to breathe. How easy it would be if you didn't have to eat, if you had a spaceship and all the time in the world. "Nice night," says George, a fellow stargazer. "Beautiful."
Published on Sep 1, 2016
by Stephanie Ascough
The thing about being a girl is this: you are far, far more likely to be chosen. Darius says the fates decide. But no one can ignore the fear in our leader's eyes on the day of choosing. No one can ignore his rabid relief when a girl's name is drawn for the yearly sacrifice. On the day I am chosen, I can only feel the dull weight of inevitability. No one in this village, even after I’m gone, will ever truly feel relief. Only numbness. I guess in this way the victim is linked to those left behind.
Published on Apr 6, 2021
by Patricia Ash
It was only a little one. It followed her home.
Published on Apr 28, 2016
by Dani Atkinson
From Janey Doherty, 212 First St. West, Claresbridge, AB, T7H 0T0 Phone: 403.555.0186 Email: jdoh@fauxmail.com
Published on Aug 11, 2014
by Matthew Bailey
I saw my first one in 'Nam after clearing an NVA machine gun nest near the Laotian border. We left the bodies where they'd fallen while we secured the area. By the time we returned, two of them were back on their feet, staring at us with heads cocked like we were an interesting, potentially delicious solipsistic problem to be solved. When they went for our throats, we explained that Cartesian philosophy had no place in the bush. I don't know if they ever bought our arguments, but the 5.56mm cartridges we used sure ended the discussion. After their bodies hit the ground for the second time, after Pvt. Higgs stopped saying, "What the fuck just happened?" over and over, after each of us had come to terms with the fact that apparently only taxes were a sure thing in life, we realized the third body, the one who'd originally gone for Connors with a knife, was nowhere to be seen. We looked and looked but never found him.
Published on May 31, 2016
by Elly Bangs
For a solid year I was riding high, getting my fix, partying all night and sleeping all day--just like Phinneas, cool and white as snow, who had mortals of all genders falling over themselves to be tasted; who had been twenty-something for centuries. I thought we'd surf that ruby-red high forever, me and him and the other Cool Kids, and I'd never have to suffer my own reflection again. But I woke up one night with an awful taste in my mouth, and when I brushed my teeth, there I was again in the silvered glass above the sink: hazy, translucent, but undeniably there. I almost screamed. "When's the last time you drank, Jason?" Phinneas muttered, stretching awake.
Published on Apr 9, 2018
by Anatoly Belilovsky
Behind her, she heard the rear door splinter. "You're back," she said. "Back from the grave to console the widow?" There were only shuffling noises in the darkness. "I wish I could say it's good to see you," she said. "But I can't. I can't see anything. As you darn well know." By touch she found the right kitchen drawer, reached for her husband's old revolver, and pulled back its hammer. "On the other hand, you know what they say about widows." The noises came closer. "A widow always knows where her husband is," she said, and shot the zombie.
Published on Oct 28, 2021
by Helena Bell
1. Hello, and thank you for tuning in to our 10-part series: Methods of Proving Neither You Nor your Loved Ones Are a Host of Demonly Creatures. If you have not done so already, please check to ensure that you are not attempting to write with a number 3 [Ed. -Bob] 2 pencil, as they have proven untrustworthy. For your convenience, a laminated printout of this update will be available for purchase at the following locations: a. Warehouse Liquor
Published on Nov 5, 2012
by Annie Bellet
To get: Bear mace (?) Dog food Garlic (40 cloves? check recipe) Lamb leg (enough to feed 5)
Published on Dec 28, 2011
by M. M. Bird
The warmest day of the year was shining upon us, all three of us giggling impetuously in the safe shadows of that building. It was one of our favorite games, daring each other to step out into that blinding daylight and stand for as long as we could endure. "Go on, get your pale ass out there," she wickedly taunted me, joined by the third, fat member of our group. Inundated by their callous cheers and provocations, in time I finally worked up the gumption to dash out of our shadowy refuge and immerse myself into those incendiary rays. Ever since the three of us were turned into vampires, our nocturnal proclivities have transformed days into a exhilarating pastime for us. The challenge was to stand out in the sun longer than the other two, my two comrades howling in adulation as I wavered and baked for an excruciating total of nine seconds. Blisters were already beginning to pop and sputter their gelatinous liquid all through my wheezing sores and down my clothes, legs snapping to thrust me back into the building's protective shadow. "Beat that," I was bombastic in the manner I challenged the woman of our party.
Published on Jun 3, 2019
by Laurence Raphael Brothers
The sorcerer stands in the center of a magic circle, a conservative gray business suit showing under his white ritual mantle, the traditional rod of blasting in his hand. I'm off to the side, in the triangle of summoning. "Come not in that form! I adjure thee. In the holy name of--"
Published on Jul 14, 2015
by Jen Brubacher
"You'll never believe what happened on the way over here." Bea fairly threw her bag down on the table as she arrived, throwing Gary's coffee mug into a spin. Brown droplets sprayed over his work shirt and dabbed the tabletop. Bea didn't notice and placed both arms right in the mess. "No, what did you see?"
Published on Feb 27, 2012
by Annie Bellet
***Editor's Note: This story includes mature and potentially disturbing themes. It is not for all readers*** Mai goes for her daily run, glad that spring has arrived and freed her from the treadmill. She usually makes a circuit down through the gardens but today she turns and runs uphill, toward the cherry orchard. At first, her calves feel like lumps of wood, but she warms up and finds her stride. When Love, who she has started to call Pembroke in her head as a tiny rebellion, told her to start running two years ago, she hated it. Now, this is her favorite time each day. This is also the only time she is allowed to wear pants.
Published on Aug 3, 2012
by Gina Burgess
"The zombie apocalypse won't ruin Christmas." My sister, Molly, flicked her pigtails as she decorated the tree. "The town is overrun with monsters, but Santa visits everyone, no matter where they live." "Grow up," I said. "Santa is pretend." I peeked between the curtains. Earlier, zombies had covered our lawn, but after turning off the Christmas lights, they'd disappeared into the night. "Even if Santa is real, he'd be a zombie now." Everyone was, except us.
Published on Dec 24, 2019
by Christopher J Burke
As the artist gave the canvas its final brush strokes, Lady Isabella sat frozen in the regal pose she wanted immortalized. She’d held that position since the Moon had risen into the night. Any discomfort would be worth it, though, if Genevieve could capture her essence. She wanted to be able to see herself the way the world saw her. Seeing oneself wasn't an easy task for a vampire.
Published on Jun 23, 2021
by Caroline Cantrell
The room at The Savoy had all the comforts of modernity: electric lights; a bottle of champagne sweating in a bucket of half-melted ice; and a vampire in the bath. The claw-foot tub was long enough to accommodate all six feet of her, and she lay perfectly still and completely submerged, clouds of dark curls floating around her face like seaweed. She looked like a sentimental portrait of a drowned woman. It was positively unnerving when she did that, Charlotte thought, wrapped in an old-fashioned velvet dressing gown. She'd fashioned a cold compress out of a thick linen napkin and ice from the champagne bucket and held it to the bite on her neck while Elena lay unmoving in her bath, steam curling above her. She barely disturbed the glassy surface as she climbed out, heedless of her nakedness and the water streaming onto the expensive rug as she walked across the room.
Published on Feb 28, 2020
by M.E. Castle
It never occurred to me to wonder why there are no more gods walking the earth. I've always known that there are. In the old days, gods were born to gods, and even when one was born of human parents, the adult gods took it and raised it as one of them. But the adult gods have disappeared. Now when gods are born--a rare event, else we'd be overrun--it is always to humans. If the young god is lucky and smart, it learns to curb its power and live among us. If it does not, then we puny humans must deal with it ourselves.
Published on Dec 20, 2010
by U. M. Celovska
I have a secret to tell. Normally, I run free with my pack, but I do not howl at the full moon like my brothers and sisters. Instead, I run deep into the forest, where no territory is marked. There, my coarse fur falls out, my teeth dull, and I am exposed as the soft, weak creature I am. For three days, I run on two legs, hiding in caves, up trees. I am cold and hungry and alone. This must be what prey feels like. This full moon, other men found me. They spoke and I understood them. They gave me food and clothes, so I thanked them. Their kindness made me feel less afraid, less vulnerable. Then they gave me a gun. The wolves in the woods were wild, feral creatures, they said, and a threat to their farms. I did not want to kill wolves, I said. But I had taken their generous gifts of food and clothes, they replied, and I owed my help to them. And so, I hunted with them for three days. I used my gun to kill two wolves; it was easy. They were too far away and my nose too weak to recognize. We did not even eat everything we killed. I returned to my pack and tried to warn them. The others would not be swayed. A few men with guns did not scare them. We started hunting later and later in the evening, when it would be harder to see down the barrel of a rifle. The next full moon, I met the men again. I told them we should not shoot the wolves. They told me I was right, so we spent three days setting traps. Some would bite a wolf’s leg and not let go until a man came along and shot you or you starved. Others were piles of meat laced with poison that made you shake and choke until you died. After setting the traps, we spent two days eating and drinking in warm, safe homes. When the third day came, we cleaned the traps. Never have I seen such death. Upon returning to my pack, there were fewer brothers and sisters. The remaining were furious at the humans. I begged them to leave the woods, but they wanted the humans to leave. Together we attacked their livestock, chased their young, and killed their dogs. I showed my pack the safe paths to avoid the traps. The third full moon, I tried to hide from the men, but they found me. They said I was lucky. That the wolves had started eating children. They showed me the carcasses of cattle, the fresh scars on their children, as proof. Proof that I had created. The men needed revenge, so they were resolved to burn the forest down. The trees would grow back but the wolves never would. They handed me a torch. I have a secret to tell: every night on the full moon, I turn into a monster.
Published on Jan 3, 2022
by Ann Chatham
"It's not my rule," said the sorceress, crossly. "It's a rule of magic, child. If you want a thing, you must be prepared to offer something you value as much in exchange. If you take my advice, you'll forget about this nonsense and speak to the young man on your own." She leaned on her hoe and watched the girl over her garden fence. "But, mistress," said the girl, and began to offer some excuse she passionately believed in. The old woman sighed; there was never a drop of sense in them when they were fifteen and in love, or thought they were. Of course, if she'd had any sense herself at that age she wouldn't be living in this little hut on the cliff's edge peddling simples, so she tried to be kind. This latest girl was very pretty, although perhaps she didn't know it, with her gray eyes and skin a good deal paler than most of the people along this coast. She had probably been sickly and sunburnt as a child, and showed no sign of knowing yet that she'd grown into herself and could likely catch the eye of whatever man she wished.
Published on Oct 21, 2011
by G. O. Clark
Each night, at 12:05 sharp, the train whistle repeatedly blows a kind of Morse code warning to anything on the tracks up ahead in the darkness. It's a well-known fact that evil things are attracted to the sound, and wander down the tracks towards it, the engine's light pinning them like stage actors in the spotlight just before the final curtain.
Published on Apr 11, 2019
by C. A. Collins
"Here is good. Pull over," he says as Fogerty's voice fades back into static. You pull the car off the just-barely-a-trail dirt road, just in case there might be traffic. Nothing but dust and rock out here; the only illumination is your Eldorado's headlights. Tonight's moon is still only a faint glimmer on the eastern horizon.
Published on Oct 31, 2018
by Adam Colston
"Where do you do it, young man?" Peter glanced up from his book at the middle-aged woman--the only other occupant in the train compartment--and smiled.
Published on Dec 13, 2011
by Donald S. Crankshaw
"What's my motivation?" George asked. "Your motivation?" Susan said. "Your motivation is that you don't want to be eaten." "It must be more complex than that!" George complained. He probably just didnt like the fact that he was running away in this scene. George made a peremptory gesture, and some young girl in his entourage rushed to bring him a bottle of expensive mineral water. He had at least twenty sycophants catering to his every whim when the camera wasn't actually rolling. "No it doesn't! Big scary monster!" Susan gestured to the dragon, who slavered obligingly. "Innocent victim!" She tried not to invest too much sarcasm in the word "innocent." The man had slept with half her interns, but she couldn't hold that against his character, could she? Nor could she hold it against the interns, not really. He was a good looking man, square-jawed, muscular--even dressed in rags, he looked like the champion his character would become. If they ever managed to film the damned movie. "Go!" "But a dragon is never _just_ a dragon," George insisted. "It must represent _something_." This dragon was just a dragon, and getting a real dragon out here cost more for each minute on set than George did. Why couldn't George have his motivation crisis when Susan wasn't paying more to listen to his feelings than Hollywood's most expensive therapist charged? It'd be cheaper to cover his therapy bills, no matter how high the tabloids claimed they were. Susan swallowed a sigh--his contract had a clause exacting a penalty for excessive sighing on her part. "I take it you're not going to run through this forest screaming until we resolve this?" She didn't wait for him to answer--he probably wouldn't notice, but the two lawyers in his entourage would be sure to invoke the rhetorical question penalty clause. "What do _you_ think the dragon represents?" "Well . . . in Medieval literature, the dragon represents the devil." The dragon snorted at this, but George ignored her. He probably loved the chance to show off his otherwise useless Literature degree. "But the modern audience no longer thinks of evil as something external. Instead, evil is internal, the struggle of the conscience. The dragon represents that part of a man which he most fears, the propensity for great evil, the lust for power, the monster within himself. He fears it and hates it, true, but he's also drawn to it, for in it is his capacity for greatness. He might flee from it, but I think at heart, he wants to be consumed, to become one with that power--" CHOMP "Millie!" Susan yelled. The dragon hastily swallowed her impromptu meal, while George's entourage fled in panic. "What are you complaining about? she said. He wanted to be eaten. You heard him." "Not literally!" Susan told her. Millicent just looked puzzled. They could grow a dragon intelligent enough to act, but the end result was still frustratingly literal minded. Susan groaned, wondering how much the studio would have to pay out for the "Eaten by Dragon" clause in George's contract.
Published on Jan 21, 2013
by Stephen Charles Curro
No one knew where the legend had come from; only that a beast called the Winged Terror would come one day, and on that day he would eat. No one took this old prophecy seriously. It was a story used primarily to frighten naughty children. That changed when a red comet streaked across the summer sky like a bleeding gash. As the red glow faded, people murmured that it was reminiscent of that old legend they'd all heard growing up.
Published on Aug 29, 2019
by Amanda C. Davis
The worst of it was, after long eons, I forgot my offense. I would creep through forests and hide in caves, moaning through my hideous lips and teeth, "Why?" I hunched in bogs sifting my gems of memory in search of the pitted stone of sin that might justify the pain. So few remained. A dress, a cat, a rose, a crown. Nothing to earn me the shape of a monster. I may have forgotten the sin, but the curse lived with me. Its scales on my skin. Its heart in my ribs. And its deep, wild hunger in my belly.
Published on Oct 12, 2018
by Amanda C. Davis
There were four men in the tintype studio, but only one was dead. The dead man sat propped in a wooden chair, strapped into place. A duvet across the room held the two "cousins" who had carried him in for his portrait. The older and smaller of them sat rigid as a poker. The younger, slouching beside him, said, "We ought to of put him in the ground straight away, Doctor Bern." "Phillip, your incuriosity is a constant astonishment to me," said the older one. He wore a neat tweed with just a few smears of blood and grave dirt on the cuffs. "I'd say you were entirely unsuited to this business if not for your talent with a hammer and stake."
Published on Sep 19, 2011
by Amanda C. Davis
"Never open the box," said Pappy, and since Pappy had been dead twenty years and no one ever came along to tell her otherwise, Dolly never did. She stood on the porch in her grandmother's dress, scowling at the sky. The clouds to the west had parted to show a gash of sunset pink. She'd been a little girl the last time the sky was anything but grey.
Published on Apr 25, 2012
by Gunnar De Winter
**********warning: Disturbing, ambiguous, adult story. violence.*********** I am a monster.
Published on Apr 9, 2021
by Kristi DeMeester
***Editor's Warning: Adult, disturbing, haunting tale. Please be advised***
Published on Mar 19, 2013
by Caroline Diorio
Ah, the Transformation. It's a different journey for every woman, but make no mistake, it's a journey we all must embark on, whether we're ready or not. One minute, you're fretting about the mundane trials of middle-age, trying to soften the marionette lines turning your smile upside-down and wondering when your breasts drifted so far away from your collarbone, the next you're plucking pellucid scales from behind your ears and craving a teatime treat of raw shark meat and panicked fisherman. The Transformation can be jarring for those of us with the strongest of stomachs, but fortunately, you don't have to go through this alone. I've compiled a brief list of tips for navigating your own unique journey through the terrifying, tempestuous, and yes, titillating world of the Transformation. Now let's get started, shall we?
Published on Sep 1, 2020
by Brian Dolton
There isn't room for us any more.
Published on Feb 28, 2011
by Sarina Dorie
No One Puts Baby in the Corner "I don't want a time out!" Josie screeched.
Published on Oct 16, 2017
by Sarina Dorie
I ran my tongue over my fangs, scanning the crowd, inhaling the scent of warm meat. The thumping of hearts around me drowned out the cheesy Dixie Chicks song. Then I saw her in vintage Gothic attire, her hair in a 20's bob. Crimson, horned-rimmed glasses sat on her nose as she sipped her Bloody Mary. With an outfit like that in a country bar, she was asking to be my dinner.
Published on Sep 6, 2011
by James S. Dorr
***Editor's Note: Adult Story, Mature Themes*** The last decision Ashleigh made under the influence of Rocky Road ice cream was to spike her hair and dye it bright blue. That and her turning to cannibalism. The combination seemed somehow right to her--people already thought her a freak, or at least a bit odd. And it solved the Rocky Road ice cream problem rather well too.
Published on Sep 1, 2014
by James S. Dorr
"There is only one solid truth in all that he has written, and for that I gave him the hint out of pure compassion for his absurdity." That was what Lo said, and so much for the notion I'd had that she and Valdemar might have been lovers. But I was interested, not so much in the fact that Ernest Valdemar had been considered a promising upcoming author by some whose tastes ran toward more outr subjects, but that I had known him years before when he had been a contributor to the Times-Picayune, the newspaper I work for as a reporter. And then Lo herself--I had only met her once before, at some charity event in the French Quarter--but it was Valdemar who had made the introductions. He and she had been at least on speaking terms then, which she did not deny, and possibly more although, as she insisted, nothing of a romantic nature. Yet, as a recent young widow, I could see that she possessed considerable charm as she still does now. In fact I remarked on it, "I met you, I think nearly ten years ago, and yet you look as youthful and beautiful as you did then."
Published on Apr 21, 2015
by James S. Dorr
Mignonette yawned and slowly pushed open the lid to her coffin, unsure what she would find. It was not her custom. But then her real name was not Mignonette either, not from her old life where she had had a name filled with consonants, hard for those in the West to pronounce, as in Paris where she lived now. But what was a name? She was what she was, and if she should call herself "Mignonette," the ones she consorted with seemed not to mind. "It fits you well, ma chrie," one had said to her only the past week. "Your delicate features. You say you had moved here from Eastern Europe. Does that make you a Communist?"
Published on Dec 21, 2011
by James Dorr
Manuel had to stop his truck for the sheer awe of it. He had never been this far north before--he had heard stories about it of course--but now he could see it with his own eyes! A gleaming line on the distant horizon, shimmering in the strong Mexican sunlight. Extending as far as the eye could see, to the left and the right, as he started his vehicle again, continuing north down the dusty highway. The American Wall!
Published on Dec 20, 2019
by Dana Dupont
"You must come," she says. "My son is sick." Her hands, worn and wrinkled, twist together in the dim light that filters into my room. "I'm not a doctor," I say.
Published on Jan 12, 2012
by Shannon Fay
Cara sits in the hotel restaurant, laptop open and back to the wall so that no one will see she is photoshopping scantily clad pictures of herself. She looks hot in all of them, but they still need some polish before she uploads them to her dating profile.

There is only one other customer in the bar, a twenty-something woman wearing hoop earnings and date-night makeup. From what Cara can tell, she is friends with the bartender.
Published on Aug 18, 2022
by Rebecca Fraimow
The monster slithered over the side of the ship when nobody else was looking. Hodel could have cried out, but she was more afraid of the other passengers than she was of the monster. It shivered and dripped water onto the deck from tattered seaweed fronds. It looked like an old peddler, stuffed with rags to keep warm. It looked like it might speak Yiddish. "You shouldn't be here," said Hodel. "You've got no ticket. And you might be sick."
Published on Aug 27, 2015
by Katina French
Dear Henry, I've been thinking things over since our argument, and I finally recognize the problem in our relationship. The problem is me. I know you've tried to deny it, tried hard to make things work, but it's time we admitted it's over.
Published on Dec 10, 2014
by Lyn C.A. Gardner
Lucy bent over the shoebox, sifting through curling paper and cracked photographs. So many secrets. She'd been too young when her mother died. All she had now were these scraps of life: birth certificates, faded letters, notes from her grandmother in French. Receipts for harpsichord supplies, though the harpsichord was long dead. Lucy's fingers stopped at the place she hated: her mother's death certificate.
Published on Feb 25, 2011
by Andrew Gilstrap
My shoe smudges the chalk markings and before I can lift my foot, it's over. The demon grabs Terrance Nygard, self-styled "Lord of Darkness and Master of the Damned," and devours him. Doesn't even chew; just pops open its toothy maw to a quadruple-jointed width that would make a Great White shark wince, and drops him down its gullet without a bite. Just as suddenly, the demon's in my face, pressing me against the wall. Somehow, the smell of Nygard's putrid cologne on the beast's brimstone breath makes the effect even more rancid.
Published on Oct 20, 2016
by Andrew Gilstrap
Mom snatches my notebook from my hands. "What the hell is this?" "It's a zombie story."
Published on Dec 1, 2016
by Elena Gleason
Karlen washed the flecks of blood from her face and patted it dry, and as she ran the towel under her chin, she realized she'd missed a spot again. The towel was already stained, covered in streaks and splotches from other evenings, and she knew the new red mark would darken to match soon enough. She never quite managed to get all the blood on the first try. Earlier that night, she'd left Peter with a kiss and a promise to be careful. Then she'd walked down to the park at the end of the block and sat under the big maple to wait, as she had every full moon for the past eleven months. Every full moon she would sit under the tree, take the folded snapshot out of her pocket, and remember the day the photo had been taken right in that spot. The tree had been bright orange with its fall foliage, and Wes had laughed as leaves were thrown into the air by sudden gusts of wind only to float gently down around them. He had been so happy that day. He had been happy, and so she and Peter had been happy too, all of them wearing silly grins with their hats and scarves, staring out of the photo with no clue that five months later Wes would be a monster. It was no wonder that Wes had been drawn to this place for his night of remembrance, the one night that he would recall who he had been. Remember his former life, and despise the memory.
Published on Jan 18, 2011
by Ari B Goelman
She wakes up scared in the morning. She wakes up scared almost every morning. Still, it's a nice day. Summer. Blue sky. She walks up the hill until she's downtown. It makes her feel better, having living people all around her.
Published on Nov 17, 2011
by Frances Silversmith
Laira stood in the damp cellar, stared at the narrow bed she had spent her days on for the last seven centuries. Seven hundred years, without once seeing the sun. "You'll get used to it," they'd said. "You'll love being a vampire."
Published on Sep 12, 2013
by Natalie Graham
I didn't know why it was only men who returned as zombies. Neither did anyone else. Scientists who studied the phenomenon (and weren't squeezed to death by zombies) were puzzled. Maybe DNA? said one. Duh, said widows collectively. And it was widows who said it, because only husbands came back, never boyfriends, or friends with benefits, or one-night stands.
Published on Aug 5, 2013
by Lynne Lumsden Green
There is one problem about being an immortal vampire that you never read about... you can't feed off your own descendants. I was turned when I was the father of seven healthy children, five of whom lived to marry and have children of their own. Back in the middle ages, people didn't travel far, and it wasn't long before I was the umpteenth-great grandfather to everyone in my village.
Published on Mar 29, 2021
by Michael J Greenhut
The sheriff asked me to believe that a telephone call turned Georgina Agravaine into a werewolf. Evidently, the caller suggested that she might be one, and that's when the trouble started. I sat in his office with my ankles crossed, sipping a triple tall latte. "What type of crime does a phone call like that fall under?" I asked.
Published on Mar 5, 2013
by Darrell Z. Grizzle
The passwords for my email and other accounts are in a little Moleskine notebook I keep in the center drawer of the desk in my home office. I also keep track of them in a Word file on my computer, titled "Passwords." My checkbooks and other financial papers are in the left-hand drawer.
Published on Mar 21, 2018
by Alexandra Grunberg
"Greg, we need to talk." "Oh jeez, listen Danny--"
Published on Mar 2, 2015
by Rachel Halpern
Aina watched the other humans crowd around the martyr's table. They pressed close to Evan as if they wanted to touch him, kept watching him even when they spoke to each other. Of course no one did actually touch him; the sacrifice had to be pure. The demon was going to eat him, after all, and its servants, their masters, would never give it sullied meat. The masters stood quietly lining the walls, dark robes and tall spears. Even now, after seventeen months of captivity, they looked to her almost like a clich from bad television, but without the comforting distance of black and white, which might have hidden the bloodstains on their clothes. Aina could see their eyes move, quick and deadly, saw one tense as little Martha who really knew better leaned slightly too close to the martyr when she passed him rice. Aina was more cautious, would keep her distance when she served the bowl of steaming broth that was her offering.
Published on Aug 28, 2012
by Michael Haynes
Star Wars XIII: Jar Jar's Redemption The latest entry in this shambling hulk of a franchise has the stench of decay around it. (Too soon?)
Published on Feb 23, 2015
by Kate Heartfield
It is 4:32 when Arabella's head smacks the top of the rocking chair and she wakes. She lets her facial muscles mimic a groan but risks no sound, nothing to disturb the warm weight in her arms. Gigi's face is a watercolor in pink and blue; her lashes sleep on her cheeks.
Published on Jul 3, 2015
by Chris Hobson
Dear Anna, This is the first letter I've ever written you, and it'll be my last. There's no other way of telling you what I have to say without endangering myself and my family. And anyway, I couldn't bear your look of revulsion if I told you in person.
Published on Jul 28, 2021
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Don't Answer Tonight is the night they come back. My parents locked me and my younger sister India in our room every year until this one. Now they say I'm old enough to sit in the living room, to hear the knock on the door, the cries and whispers at the windows. My sister is up in our bedroom all alone, with a plywood board nailed over the window for the night. She has her iPad with the wifi disabled, and a stockpile of snack foods and decaffeinated beverages. She's not allowed to look at news tonight. Dad put the camping toilet in our room, just like last year. Mom closed all the living room curtains, the gauze ones and the heavy winter curtains. Usually light leaks into the windows from the streetlight outside. Tonight the only light in the room is from the candles Mom lit on ceramic plates around the room. She put six on top of the piano and two on the coffee table. Everything's golden and grim. It's spookier than if she turned on the regular lights. Dad hands me a mug of hot chocolate. It has marshmallows in it. I sip. It's my favorite fall drink, and usually I only get it when I'm very good. I say, "Wait. I thought I was old enough for tonight. Isn't this a kid drink?" "Abida, you're a tweener now," says Mom. "What does that even mean?" A knock sounds on the door. "Shh," whispers Dad. I drink. The chocolate whispers warmth and comfort, spreading sweet and dark across my tongue. I savor it and wait for Dad to get the door. The knock sounds again, louder this time. I put down my mug and walk toward the door. "Don't answer," Mom whispers. "Is it Kevin?" I say that aloud, and then I hear, all along the walls, the whispers and murmurs of many people outside. "Mom, it's me," says Kevin's voice through the door. Kevin. My twin brother, who died last year. My left side is always cold because he's not there, where he belongs. "It's not," Mom whispers. "Abida. It's me. Let me in. I just want to see you again." "Kevin!" I run to the front door and grab the doorknob. Dad grasps my arm, but I unlock the deadbolt and turn the knob before he can stop me. The door eases open an inch, two inches, three, and I see Kevin. He's not solid, more a space outlined in blue light, but his face has the same half smile we turned on each other when we shared a joke without speaking it aloud. My whole body aches from missing him. I reach for the mental touch we used to have all the time, one of the other things I miss constantly. My mind touches something arctic cold. It hurts. I stick to it as though I licked a frozen flagpole. A tiny spiral of warmth, an orange fingerprint, is melting through the utter ice. The pattern and the color feel familiar, the cheery glow of my life before Kevin died. I reach out Dad slams the door and locks it. His arm wraps roughly around my shoulders. He jerks me back toward the living room. "Do you know what you just did?" he whispers. "Kevin," I whisper. "It's not Kevin." He sets me in front of him and shakes my shoulders. "Abida. It's not Kevin. Kevin's gone. You know that." I don't know that. I just saw him. Felt him. Not him. But a version of him. Better than nothing. Better than the last half-dead year, where I had zombied through my life, alive only in the art of remembering all the ways Kevin wasn't there anymore. The door rattles. The deadbolt turns. The door eases open a crack. One inch, two, three. Something green and eerie oozes in, spreads across the hardwood floor, rolling toward us on a low, bubbling, cloudy tide. "Too late," Mom whispers. She and Dad embrace. They close their eyes as the green touches their shoes and sizzles. I glance up and think of India, locked in the room upstairs, a blanket along the crack of the door to keep things out. Snacks. Beverages. A toilet. Maybe in the morning she'll be able to make enough noise to get someone to come and let her out. I kneel and reach toward the green with my hand, toward Kevin with my mind. I feel him. I'm sure. I'm not sure.
Published on Apr 13, 2015
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
After a long night of vampire slaying, Helen was looking forward to some team-building with her TV. She showered and changed into her comfy home clothes, pink sweats with cute animals on them. What should she binge-watch to settle herself down and get ready to sleep the day away? Something not job-related. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Yep, that would do it. She went in the kitchen and stuck a bag of Orville Redenbacher in the microwave and hit the popcorn button. The doorbell rang.
Published on Jul 2, 2021
by Liam Hogan
"You traveling the Arkhan road?" the giant crowding my table asks as I move aside to make way for his tree-trunk thighs. As big as he is, his clothes are bigger. They hang loose everywhere except his expanse of belly; clothes made for muscles once even more impressive. This is a brute of a man, getting smaller. Getting old.
Published on May 3, 2019
by Liam Hogan
I was in a social bubble with a vampire. His name was--is--William Sadler. No European Count, he. No ancestral castle lurking in the rain-shrouded mountains of Carpathia. Wills was an Essex vampire, though he'd moved away when the neighborhood got reputable, a century and a half ago. I tried to convince him it had become dis-reputable again, but he wasn't keen to see for himself. Bad memories, apparently.
Published on Aug 31, 2021
by Liam Hogan
We live in a time of Tricksters, both in our encounters with the fae, and in ill-advised deals with the devil. The wise should always guard against hidden terms and conditions. For a full and updated list of Trickster* Scams, follow the link to Witch? Below are the perennial cons, as seen most often by our readers.

Published on Jun 17, 2022
by Eric Horwitz
The Queen has an obsession with figs. She knew that wasps laid their eggs inside of them and that the hatchlings ate their way out. This gave her the idea for how to arrange the baby's nursery, in a way that her child could grow into the kind of creature she greatly admired.
Published on Nov 9, 2017
by Marissa James
Every year the Christmas Zombie came, bringing not just the seasonal scents of pine and cinnamon, but also the aroma of fresh meat. Grrg had waited and waited; finally, fresh meat! Christmas morning was still hours away but already he imagined the warm flesh on his tongue, the juices flowing between his teeth. Last Christmas, his first in undeath, he'd had no hopes whatsoever--there was nothing in the world that he wanted except brains, and Santa Claus seemed unlikely to bring those. But the Christmas Zombie had come instead, and so he and his parents had feasted on a sweet (though leathery) little old lady.
Published on Dec 25, 2013
by Holly Jennings
A cry echoed through the cemetery. The ghoul stood in the graveyard, working mechanically, like the crankshafts on a steam train. His shovel cut through soil, digging holes and filling them. So many dead. So very many dead.
Published on Dec 31, 2012
by K.G. Jewell
Tabbitha was out of town. I turned off the light and stretched out over the entire bed. Was this a guilty pleasure? Was my loneliness supposed to quench my enjoyment of such luxurious space? I closed my eyes and dreamt of the barren vastness of Wyoming. A yank of my pinkie toe awoke me. I sat up and scanned the dark room. There, at the foot of the bed--two bloodshot yellow eyes.
Published on May 3, 2012
by Tom Jolly
The two men walked slowly through the graveyard, glancing at the five-or-ten word death-tweets carved on the stones. Roger Hartley seemed agitated as they passed more and more of the worn and overgrown headstones. They all seemed too old, few showing terminus dates later than 1900. "It's buried here, with the humans?"
Published on Feb 27, 2014
by Carie Juettner
1. Their Instacart deliveries include unusual amounts of toilet paper. 2. All the stray cats in the neighborhood flock to their yard.
Published on Mar 16, 2022
by Robert E. Keller
When I was a young boy, we used to take Dad's rusty pickup out to find the perfect tree. Dad always brought ropes because the wretch pines usually put up one heck of a fight. One time, a flailing branch ripped my cheek open so badly Mom had to stitch it up. I still bear the scar. With pride, I should add. As I grew older, Dad let me swing Fungbrom's Axe. I chopped down my first wretch pine. My arms were torn and bloody, but once the wretches are free of their roots you can wrestle them onto a truck pretty easily. Dad was so proud he gave me a sip of whiskey, and I managed to keep it down.
Published on Dec 23, 2010
by Joy Kennedy-O'Neill
Stairs. I remember what they are, but I can't get up them. I shuffle in front of the library and moan. My hunger has shrunk through the years into a fist. There's only one thing I want to eat, that I've ever wanted to eat. Well, two, and they're inside the building. My husband and the little tramp who's sleeping with him. Two women pause on the sidewalk, watching me. "They really weren't that scary when it actually happened," one says.
Published on Jan 1, 2015
by Catherine Krahe
***Editor's Warning: Disturbing, adult tale*** The beekeeper Alsah has battlemagic. When he fights, and he does so only rarely, he breaks necks.
Published on Jan 4, 2013
by Jamie Lackey
The widow Anatolia stands in front of her stovetop, her bare feet cold against the tile floor. She splashes water into a small pot without measuring, then dumps half of it down the drain. She stands over it while it comes slowly to a boil, enjoying the heat that wafts up and caresses her cheeks.
Published on Aug 29, 2018
by A. E. Lanier
Two weeks into junior year, Caleb decided to confront Mary Cooper. Things had changed over the summer. School had always seemed like a tedious eternity stretched out before him. But now, it was basically over. When people asked what he was going to do next summer or after graduation, they wanted real answers. He wasn’t sure what to do about that, but at least he could do something about Mary Cooper. Was he being reckless? Sure. But his parents always said he was too cautious. And there had always been something odd about Mary. A kind of smoothness, even timelessness. It should have been weird, but she somehow always managed to fit in. Caleb caught her on the way to lunch after fourth period. He had class, but it was worth being late. “Hey, Mary, can I ask you something?” She paused and looked up at him. That was new. He’d grown over the summer. “What is it?” Caleb knew if he stopped to think, he would never get the words out. So he didn’t. “Why are you here?” She turned her head slightly, playing at confusion rather than meaning it. “Why did you bother coming back to high school?” She continued to stare at him, gray eyes blank. “I know what you are,” he continued, lamely. He’d hoped to avoid accusatory cliche, but could think of nothing else to say. Mary went still. Too still. He wondered if he was in danger. Wasn’t sure if he cared. “We’ll talk after school. Meet me in the English supply closet. Don’t be late.”
He was late, although not by much; Ms. Hernandez had kept them after the bell. Mary was waiting for him. She sat perched on a stack of printer paper, seemingly unconcerned. But then, time probably worked differently for her. Caleb paused in the doorway, fiddling with the straps on his backpack and wondering how old she was. “Close the door.” He obeyed. Let people think he was making out with Mary Cooper in the English supply closet. “Are you afraid of me?” Caleb nodded. “Then why did you come?” Caleb tried to respond, but nothing came out. He cleared his throat, tried again. “If you want me dead, you’ll kill me anyway. Avoiding you now won’t help.” She laughed, then stopped herself. “Risky, confronting me like that.” He shrugged, feigning nonchalance. Basically the same response he gave his parents when they asked about college apps. “Why did you do it?” Her voice was cool and poised. Not like a teenager’s at all. He stared at his newly too-small shoes, embarrassed. “I’ve been wondering about it for so long.... I just had to know.” If she was concerned that he’d known about her for years, she didn’t show it. “What did you want to ask?” Maybe it was a stupid question. He didn’t care. “Why would you spend immortality redoing high school?” She laughed fully this time, no longer worried she might scare him. “Some of it is personal. When I was your age, it was extraordinarily difficult for women to receive a proper education. A few of us managed it, but there was no future for us afterwards. In part, my work here is a fuck-you to a system that no longer exists.” “Couldn’t you at least go to college?” “As I said, some of my motivation is personal. Mostly, I’m here for research. Our kind have the unique ability to study minute changes over time in an intensely personal, detailed fashion.” “You’re studying high school by going to high school.” It was the stupidest thing Caleb had ever heard. “It’s not as absurd as it sounds. So much of history is lost or distorted due to poor documentation. The lives of most people are never studied in any sort of real depth. And young people such as yourself lack the knowledge to contextualize their experiences in meaningful ways. Through no fault of your own, of course.” She smiled in a way that was both welcoming and predatory. The cheap bulb overhead flickered. Caleb found himself fiddling with a stack of battered paperbacks. Stopped. “We’re not only here, of course. Our work extends throughout many contexts,” her tone was different this time, more deliberate. Something had changed, but he wasn’t sure what. “You, Caleb, are at a very particular age. Seventeen? Barely?” He nodded, trying not to think. “That’s about when I was turned. Did you know--in a pinch--you could pass as anything from 15 to mid-twenties? That’s a range that could get you into most rooms.” He was more intrigued than afraid now. Wasn’t sure when that had happened. “The council gives you your assignment of course, but they take your preferences into consideration.” Caleb was no longer sure if he was breathing. He found himself desperately eager for the question she was about to ask. But she didn’t ask him anything. Instead she paused and put her wrist to her mouth. It came away bloody, the bite marks small and neat. “I know that you want this Caleb. It’s why you’re here.” It was the kind of offer that required careful consideration. But it was already clear that junior year wasn’t about careful consideration, it was about decisions. And Mary was right. He wanted this. It was exciting and invigorating, and the council would tell him where to go next. Just this one choice, and then no more decisions. He stepped forward, offered Mary his wrist while taking hers, and began to drink.
Published on Mar 9, 2022
by Mary Soon Lee
I was five years old when I met the monster under my bed. First I heard a muffled shuffling, like the noise the neighbor's dog made turning in a tight tail-chasing circle before he settled down for a nap. But we didn't have a dog. I clutched my stuffed rabbit, Sister Resistance, and told myself there was only a mouse under the bed. A friendly talking mouse, like the ones in the books Mom read to me.
Published on Jun 24, 2021
by Nathaniel Matthews Lee
Robbie killed monsters. He used a baseball bat, because they didn't give better weapons to ten-year-olds. It worked well enough. He'd cleaned out his room first, the slithering whispering things under the bed and the Chatterer in the closet. Then the attic, full of Flappers and Flutterers, and one that was more like a fog or a mist than anything solid. He'd poked holes in it with the bat, then swirled the bat around until the drifting fog-thing shrieked and funneled up through a crack in the ceiling like a tornado in reverse. The last monster he killed was in the basement, where the strongest monsters always live, down near the earth and the dirt and the rot and the dark. The monster in Robbie's basement was a fetid, swollen worm of a creature, with a mouth of flat, grinding teeth. He'd hit it right between where the eyes would have been and kept hitting until it was a pulpy mass. It had taken him three days to finish breaking it into chunks and burying it in the backyard. Robbie's backyard was peppered with mounds of dirt, some overgrown now with grass, others still fresh. His neighbor Mrs. Cotterly thought Robbie was just a spectacularly bad goldfish-taker-care-of. Robbie patrolled the backyard nightly to make sure the monsters weren't coming back.
Published on Oct 28, 2011
by Kalisa Ann Lessnau
They call mile twenty the heartbreaker for a reason. You're too far to turn back and too stubborn to stop after going so far, but it still feels like an eternity until you finish your race. Out at mile twenty it's just you, your determination, and a barren landscape filled with roving packs of hungry undead beasts that hunt you relentlessly. It would be easy for the beasts to take a slow-moving caravan; their wagons are weighed down with supplies, they're forced to travel the unprotected roads between towns, and the people who make the trip couldn't jog a single mile, much less outrun apex pursuit predators, but they always go after the solo runners. There must be some lingering instinct that compels them to chase after the one bit of prey foolish enough to break from the pack.
Published on May 11, 2020
by Marissa Lingen & Alec Austin
University of Washington Supernatural Philosophy Dept., Therianthrope Research Team field notes. Principal Investigators: Dr. Yue and Dr. Bjornson. Interview #1 - Werewolf
Published on May 29, 2012
by Marissa Lingen
One year at Midsummer there was-- Oh, I beg your pardon. There is word from my great-aunt Margit that this was not just once, but every year at Midsummer. My apologies.
Published on May 14, 2013
by Brian K Lowe
"I guess it's true then, Santos. All things come to he who waits." I sniffed and wrapped a claw-like hand around my glass and took a healthy sip. It burned going down, and I inhaled in surprise.
Published on Jul 20, 2011
by Bruce McAllister
When there's a full moon, my girlfriend gets hairy, her teeth get longer, she grows a snout, and kissing is nearly impossible. Even though her hands haven't yet become paws, she drops to all fours and jumps around the apartment--sofa to coffee table to big padded chair to kitchen counter. She has to get outside. She doesn't say this exactly--her throat and tongue have changed and the words are garbled--but it's pretty clear. She runs at the front door, hits it at full speed, and, shaking her head to clear it, turns and races toward the sliding glass door onto the porch (which is three floors up). If she could talk, I know she'd say, "Why couldn’t you have rented a unit on the first floor?" and "You knew it would be like this. I told you!"
Published on Aug 16, 2021
by Sandra McDonald
My mother was the most beautiful werewolf in Brighton Beach. Four legs, sleek silver fur, and rows of well-brushed teeth that could rip your throat out. My father was a Russian immigrant who started a janitorial company that at one time serviced every public school and city building on Coney Island. As their only kid, I inherited the worst of both worlds: my mothers were-curse and my fathers ruthless passion for cleanliness. Every month I transform into a magical creature who slinks along the city streets carrying a bucket and a mop. Yes. Im a were-maid.
Published on Oct 29, 2010
by S A McKenzie
The 8.05 am train still had the sticky residue of its last victim plastered across the floor of the front carriage as it pulled into the station, exactly on time. Lucy stepped forward as the doors slid open, but hesitated as she detected a whiff of fresh brimstone. Pressure from commuters crowding in behind her forced her inside the carriage. She sidestepped a dubious-looking puddle near the door and found herself a window seat. The other passengers all gave the puddle a wide berth while at the same time pretending they hadn’t noticed it. Lucy watched a bloody smear on the window beside her shrink rapidly, briefly puffing out for a moment into the shape of a tiny screaming face before vanishing with an almost audible pop. There was a distant belch from somewhere up the front of the train. She shuddered, one hand stroking her pink angora scarf. Around her everyone else seemed to relax, letting out a collective breath and smiling sheepishly at each other. A tall man sat down next to her and gave her a concerned look. “That your first one, luv? You look a bit pale.” Lucy ducked her head, and looked away briefly. “I’m okay,” she said in a small voice. She took off her scarf and put it her and the wall. The middle-aged woman in front of Lucy turned around and said, “Don’t worry, dear. After they’ve taken one they’ll not be hungry again for a week. That’s what I heard.” “I hear they won’t take you if your socks don’t match,” the Goth girl in the tartan skirt across the aisle said with a grin, swinging her feet to display one red and one green sock. “It’s an aesthetic thing.” “Garlic,” the pimply-faced student across from her mumbled. “You gotta chew garlic.” The girl grinned at him. “I heard they won’t eat virgins, either,” she said. He reddened and looked away. A businessman down the aisle opened his newspaper and Lucy read the headlines over his shoulder: Prime Minister Devoured by Demons. Campaign Promises Breached. “My mother always says it’s polite to introduce yourself in a life-or-death situation,” Lucy’s seatmate said. He looked to be in his forties, well-dressed in a flashy sort of way. He stuck out his hand. “Hugo Morgan.” Lucy shook his hand. “Lucy Channing.” “Funny old world, innit? Thought we were all going to drown or cook from global warming, no oil left to speak of, and then they discover demonic energy to run everything. Problem solved.” “Except for the energy tax,” Lucy said. “One life for every 20,000 passengers.” “Scares you, yeah?” Lucy bit her lip, and looked away. He leaned over and lowered his voice. “There’s some would say there’s ways around that.” Lucy gazed up at him, wide-eyed. “It’d be a terrible shame if they taxed a pretty girl like you. Maybe I can help you out. We could discuss it over a drink. Tonight, perhaps?” “I’m not busy tonight,” Lucy said. “Brilliant,” Hugo said, showing crooked teeth as he smiled down at her. He fished a card out of his pocket. “Just give me a call when you get off.” Lucy turned the card over in her hands. “I don’t see how it could work,” she said. “How would you stop them from taking you?” Hugh tapped the side of his nose meaningfully. “Might be better to discuss that somewhere more private, luv,” he said. “Let’s just say that demons won’t touch someone who has a deal with another demon.” “That does sound intriguing,” Lucy said. She looked out the window as the train slowed. “Oh! This is my stop!” Hugo moved aside so she could get out of her seat. She stopped at the door and looked back. “My scarf! Could you--?” Smiling, Hugo stood up and leaned towards her, holding out the pink scarf. Lucy moved back, just out of reach. “Bene detentus,” she said. The scarf writhed out of Hugo’s hands and snaked downward to wrap itself tightly around his legs. “What the--?” he said, more startled than afraid. Lucy silently held up a silver-plated badge emblazoned with a six-pointed star inside a circle so that everyone in the carriage could see it. They all began to move to the next carriage, pushing and shoving in their haste to be gone. “Hugo Edward Morgan,” Lucy said loudly. “You have been found guilty of multiple counts of demonic tax evasion, and of inciting acts of tax evasion by others. By the powers vested in me by the Municipal Demonic Transport Authority, I hereby sentence you to immediate penalty. Manduca!” She stepped backwards off the carriage onto the platform. Hugo was trying to move his feet which appeared to have become stuck to the floor. No, not stuck. His feet were rapidly being absorbed by the floor of the carriage. He beat frantically at the closing doors. The train jerked forward and then pulled out of the station smoothly. Lucy watched it depart, Hugo’s screams quickly diminishing as the train sped into the tunnel. She checked her watch. Right on time, she thought.
Published on Jan 18, 2022
by Dafydd McKimm
"Why is your skirt wet?" The question never comes, though I often expect it.
Published on Jun 21, 2016
by Dafydd McKimm
At dawn on the first day of spring, I wake to the clamor of the gentlemen leaving the city on their horses, the morning sun glinting on the bright barbs of their hunting spears and the iron talons of their giant hawks. It is late afternoon by the time their triumphant bugles signal their return from the Waste. I open my workshop and prepare my tools--my scalpels, scissors, sewing palm, and stuffer. I will have a special commission this evening. Tomorrow, there will be a grand banquet to celebrate the slaying of a beast of the Waste and the lord who slew it. And, as has become the mode since the invention of the photographic technique, the lady of that manor will have her portrait taken with the creature before it's placed in an oak-paneled gallery to gather dust. To make the dead and eviscerated thing look alive again--that is my task, my craft. Some ladies like the beasts posed as loyal pets, the long, muscular bodies curling about their middles in a protective gesture. Others want them draped like babes so they may cradle the great horned heads in their doting arms. The beasts of the Waste are fierce creatures, with teeth the size of carving knives and clusters of spines as long and sharp as knitting needles bursting from their thick pelts, but the portraits always render them faintly ridiculous. A knock on the door of my workshop signals my commission has arrived. The messenger wears the livery of Lord Montgomery, and the instructions tell me that it is his youngest daughter, Clementia, not his wife who will be posing with the beast. She has requested the beast's horns be garlanded with flowers; it must be smiling, with its teeth pulled back from the gums and glossy with saliva; its lips must be red as a summer rose. She wants it to appear as her plaything--a grotesque teddy bear dolled up in bows and ribbons. If I had a moment to think, the request might turn my stomach. But I must get to work immediately if I'm to deliver the beast in time. I examine the damage carefully. This beast is a female. Blood cakes the coarse fur where the barbed spear found its mark and ragged gouges gape on her back where the iron talons took hold. A noble sport, the gentlemen call it. I am not wealthy or powerful enough to disagree, but I take a moment to place my hand on the beast's side, to honor the last of her warmth with a respectful touch. Beneath the fur, I feel something. A heartbeat. A tiny, faint pulse of life. With my sharpest scalpel, I make an incision in the abdomen, thrust my hands into the wound and pull out a pup. So close to being born. No wonder her wounds were so numerous. She must have fought fiercely, madly, to protect it, to the very end. I know what's expected of me. I should continue my work, throw the pup into the fire, but something in its blind whining gives me pause. It strikes me that I have only ever seen these beasts as corpses. This is the first time I have ever held one alive. My breath catches--rather than make something wretched and lifeless appear living, I could instead bring this tenuous life back from the brink of death. Failure to complete my charge will invoke intense displeasure from His Lordship and most likely be my ruin, but, to my surprise, the thought barely afflicts me. I rush to the linen closet for some blankets and set water to boil in the copper. I rummage through the pantry and find some thick cream I'm sure will nourish the poor thing. I return to the workshop ready to attend to my new task, but the pup's whines have stopped. I put down the blanket and the cream and rest my hand on its tiny body, feel its terrible stillness. Gently, I place it back inside its mother. To rob her of it now seems unthinkable. I sit for a long time. Until the candle gutters. Then I light another and resume my work. When I deliver the creature the next morning, the lords and ladies will applaud my craft, and Clementia will grin and giggle at just how well I have executed her instructions--no one will notice the difference, so subtle is it, between this beast and the others I have prepared in the past. But years from now, when she is grown, with her own circle of friends each as young and powerful and bold as she--when they look at her portrait, which she shows them passingly with mock embarrassment, they will not see the wild red eyes of a beast of the Waste, but the sad, desolate gaze of a mother who has lost her child. And perhaps that will be enough to spark something deep within them, to make them declare with clear voice and fervent conviction: No more of this. No more.
Published on Oct 18, 2021
by Amy McLane
***Editor's Warning: Disturbing, Adult Tale*** Nobody can do what I do. That's why they come to me. And I do what I do because I got to eat like everyone else. But I hate seeing one like her walking in here.
Published on Feb 26, 2013
by Garry McNulty
The hairy creature under Kevin's bed did not consider himself to be impatient. He knew how to lie in wait as well as the next monster. But, he grumbled to himself, this kid would not go to sleep! It was after ten o'clock, for crying out loud! The dust balls under Kevin's bed only added to the monster's aggravation. They were getting all over his hairy coat, and he was afraid he might sneeze. The monster despised a dirty bedroom floor and felt it showed a real lack of consideration for all under-the-bed creatures. Don't these people own a dust mop?
Published on Aug 3, 2021
by Melissa Mead
Over her years of guarding her unseen Mistress, the she-beast has learned many things: Strangers with swords are dangerous. Strangers with books are even more so. Books are inside things, Inside things belong to the Mistress, not to her guard-beast. Outside creatures should not think too much. It hurts. Perhaps thoughts are inside things too. The she-beast has tried for years to puzzle out the mystery of books. Intruders who carry them seldom blunder about the way the ones with swords do. Its as though the paper tells strangers the way through the maze, how to avoid all the traps, and even about the she-beast herself. The she-beast can read the clouds overhead and the tracks that smaller creatures leave in the sandy earth, but paper and ink refuse to speak to her. The she-beast has thought about asking the Mistress to unlock the magic symbols for her, but the Mistress stopped answering her silent questions long ago. The invisible perimeter confining the she-beast has contracted, taking away the slice of grassy meadow and scrap of shady woodland that used to be part of the she-beasts territory. The green land seems farther away each day. The she-beast fears she has angered the Mistress somehow. But she still wonders. Every day the she-beast prowls around the edge of her territory, sniffing for intruders. Intruders leave the smell of their wrongness on the dark stones and warm pale sand. Some of them get through the beginning of the maze and past the traps, into the she-beasts territory. They want to kill the Mistress and steal her treasures, but the she-beast kills them first. Even the ones with books. # From behind a pile of rocks, the she-beast watches this latest stranger. One of the ones with books, obviously. Hes bypassed the sunny meadow with flowers that absorb nutrients from human flesh. Hes ignored the fragrant, toxic fruits that grow all around the edge of the forest. Although he must be thirsty by now, he doesnt drink from the spring, with its icy waters that turn humans to stone- although he does pause before the petrified shapes ringing it as though guessing what they used to be. He stops at the edge of the perimeter, as though he could see it, or feel its burning cold touch, and shouts. She-beast! Are you there? See: Im not on your land. Come out and talk to me. Her ears shoot erect. An invader, calling to her? Perhaps hes gone insane from resisting the illusions that surround him. There are no illusions in the she-beasts territory. Sand is sand, stone is stone, bones are bones. The she-beast doesnt believe that this stranger has journeyed from the lands of men and struggled through the maze just to talk to her. But this is something new. Something to make this day different from all the others. The she-beast decides to prolong her treat. When the stranger calls again she slips out from behind the rocks, her venomous tail lying flat across her back, her ruff smooth, her teeth hidden. The stranger doesnt see her at first, and when he does, he smiles. His body says No-Fear. Not-Hostile. The strangers body says something else, too. Its female, and young. The she-beast has never had to deal with a female intruder before. She listens for commands from the Mistress, but hears only silence. The newcomer extends her hands toward the she-beast, stopping just short of the invisible barrier. She is dusty and battered from long travel, but a smile lights her dark eyes. Hello! I know the rules: Once I cross over I wont be able to get out alone. May I cross? The she-beast growls. The stranger takes a step backward. No? All right; I suppose that was a bit abrupt of me. My name is Suha. The stranger waits. The she-beast once saw two intruders meet at the edge of the maze, and she knows that Suha is waiting for her to speak her name. But names and speech are both inside things, and the she-beast has neither. Well, this is awkward. You see, Levasarion- he was my tutor, way back, and hes practically immortal and knows everything but common sense, my nurse used to say- he said to seek out the Guardian. According to everything Ive read, thats you, but we dont seem to be hitting it off. The she-beast watches while the intruder sits crosslegged on the sparse grass and takes out a book. Its a dusty, crackling, ancient thing, and the intruder handles it with care. Nope, nothing in here about your name. I didnt think so. Ive got most of the book up here. She taps her head with a finger. Its better not to have to open it too often, but I thought Id check, just to be certain. The she-beast ignores the chatter. Her attention is all on the book, lying tantalizingly open on the grass. You want to see? Here. She holds up the book. The she-beast brings her nose as close to the barrier as she dares, and yelps in surprise. One page is covered with the meaningless tracks of words, but the other has a picture of the she-beast herself. How wonderfully fierce she looks! Her teeth and claws shine bright, even on the yellowed page. Her ruff bristles, and her eyes glow green as the venom dripping from her tail. The Mistress would be so pleased with this picture of her servant, so brave and loyal. The girl, Suha, laughs. Look at you! All proud of yourself, are you? Youre wiggling like a happy dog. The she-beast freezes, and the girl turns solemn. But youre not a dog, and I wont forget that. Youre a Guardian. I know. Dont worry. Im not here to hurt the Lady of Promises. Im here to help her. Lady of Promises. The she-beast hasnt heard that name since long ago, before the maze, when the Mistress had a face, and a voice heard with the ears, not in the head, and gentle hands. The she-beast studies the girl more closely. The she-beast remembers the Mistress as tall and golden. Suha is small and dark. Behind her cheerful smile lies the solemnity of someone who has travelled for a long, long time in hard places and seen things that shatter less resilient hearts. Theyre calling her the Lady of Broken Promises now, because of the storms, says Suha. Theres been flooding and sickness. People are saying its because the Lady has abandoned the land, but Levasarion said its a sign that the Lady herself is in danger. The she-beasts hackles rise. The Mistress cant be in danger, not with her Guardian always here to protect her. Shes not in danger from me. Suhas voice is gentle, reassuring, the way the she-beast remembers the Mistress being. But maybe shes in danger from something like an illness. Something you cant see or fight. The book says shell need a well, helper was the best translation we could come up with. Inside things again. The she-beast stands trembling. Her duty is to keep the Mistress safe by killing intruders who make it this far, and she has never failed in that duty. This intruder has no black-glass sword. She wears no copper ring to protect her neck from the she-beasts teeth. The she-beast can kill her as soon as she crosses the barrier. But if she does, if the Mistress is truly in danger from some inside thing, the she-beast will have killed the only one who might save her. Suha packs up the book and studies the she-beast. She takes a deep breath and steps over the boundary. Fighting every Guardian instinct, the she-beast stills her teeth and claws, but her tail lashes out. The tip just grazes Suhas arm. Ow! She looks down at the green-coated scratch, then at the penitent she-beast. You didnt mean to do that, did you? If you wanted to kill me Id be dead now instead of later. Maybe its not deep enough to kill me at all, then. The she-beast knows better. There are no illusions in her territory. She licks Suhas wounded arm in apology. The poison burns her tongue. The she-beast doesnt care, as long as it keeps Suha alive long enough to save the Mistress. # Suha seems unchanged at first. Eyes wide, she follows the she-beast along the unseen path among the stones and bones. Her eyes get even wider when she rounds an outcropping and notices the she-beasts secret treasure. A pile of books? Whats a pile of books doing here? The she-beast means to growl, but whimpers instead. Are they yours? Can you read? Suha doesnt touch the pile the she-beast has so carefully collected, but she shakes her head. Nobody could read those. Theyre all crumbling and moldy. The she-beast hangs her head. Shes killed the books. Books are inside things, and she doesnt know how to guard them properly. Dont look so sad, she oh, this is ridiculous! I have to call you something more than Guardian. Havent you got a name at all? The she-beast shakes her head. Lets think of one. Something you can say. Something growly. Can you say Ru? She tries. Rooh. Close enough! Where I come from, that means Scholar. Someone who learns from books. Do you like it? The she-beast squirms. She tried to learn from the books, but now theyre dead. She killed them. She doesnt deserve this name. If you dont like it, thats all right. I can keep calling you Guardian. A name. An inside thing, freely given, just for her. No one will ever offer her such a thing again, not even the Mistress. Rooh! All right then. Lets go, Ru. No, wait. Suha takes a step. A mischievous smile crosses her face. She picks up a stick and carves lines in the sand. Can you copy that? The she-beast has clever paws, but the toes are too broad to make thin lines. She brings her tail forward. Suha only flinches a little. The venomous stinger traces shaky lines in the dirt. Two straight, one slanting across them. The she-beast looks at Suha, expectant. The girl breaks into a grin that almost hides her pallor. Very good! Thats the symbol for Ru. You just wrote your name. The world spins. She, the Mistress she-beast, has written her name. She has spoken it. These inside things are hers now. # Ru blinks. She doesnt remember walking the last few yards, but theyve reached the center of the maze: a pale, polished stone dome like an egg half-sunk into the earth, with the dark arch of a doorway facing them. Ru has never come this close to Inside before. She doesnt realize shes trembling until Suha lays a hand on her shoulder. Its all right, Ru. You dont have to come with me. Her voice is weary. The stung arm is swollen and mottled. The other hand, on Rus shoulder, is warm and comforting. The Mistress had gentle hands like that, long, long ago. Of course Ru is going with her. # The hallways glow pale blue from something growing on the walls. Ru hopes thats the only reason Suha looks so sickly. The girls hand is getting heavier on her shoulder. The book says the Lady of Promises possesses knowledge greater than any library. Suhas breathing is heavy in the near-dark. They say so many people came to her for help that her heart broke from pity, and she hid herself away at the ends of the earth. They take a few more heavy, dragging steps. I hope her knowledge includes healing, says Suha in a whisper. The air gets colder, and presses down on them like a weight. Ru doesnt realize shes been walking with her eyes closed until Suhas gasp makes her open them. They are Inside. They are at the very heart of Inside. The round, domed room glows with warm light, illuminating books and bottles, scrolls and skeletons. Dust dances around their feet. Even in this light, Suha looks wan and shadowed. My Guardian, says a voice as warm as the light. youve brought me a Holder. The Mistress! Rus ears perk up, and she looks around the room. Suha is looking around too. Ru cant tell if shes heard or not. But its too late. The voice laughs- a sad, brittle laugh. Oh, I got what I wanted! I wanted them all to leave me in peace, and they did. So completely. Im not certain I have the strength to make the transfer now. Ru knows outside things, like bones, and she finds the Mistress first. No kind smile, no gentle hands, just bones and a voice. Bones are bones. They should not have a voice. Ru whines. Suha comes to her side, holding on to furniture and shelves for balance. Oh my. Suha looks at things other than the bones- scraps of moldered cloth, a gold chain. This was her, wasnt it? Your Lady of Promises. Oh Ru, Im so sorry. Ru? says the Mistress voice. She sounds puzzled and amused, not angry. Ru wants to tell her everything- about her name, about writing, about Suha. Rooh! she says, and wishes that she had more words. She wishes that the Mistress was the way she was supposed to be. She wishes that she hadnt stung Suha, who is now sitting on the floor with her eyes closed. My she-beast, says the voice of the Mistress. Doesnt she understand? But names are inside things. The Mistress has to understand. Ru tries again, louder. Rooh! Yes, my good Guardian, I know. You brought the Holder to me. But shes dying. I doubt you meant to harm her, but if she cant hold onto her own spirit, how could she hold mine? Ru struggles to understand. Spirit must be the thing thats making the bones speak to her with the Mistress voice. The thing that leaves intruders when Ru kills them. The thing thats leaving Suha now. The Mistress sighs; a faint wisp of sound. I suppose theres only one alternative. Come here, my she-beast. Ru leaves off nosing Suha and crouches before the bones. The golden light wraps around her like a memory of caressing hands. It flows inside of Ru and shows her new things. Words. Thousands of words, like leaves on trees. The Mistress will share all these words with her. Shell know how to read, and how to study the stars, and how to work miracles on the most secret parts of the body. All she has to do is let this remnant of the Mistress inside her. It will have a body again. Rus body. Ru will have a glimpse of more inside things than she could ever imagine. The light hollows Ru out, illuminates her, leaves her empty and waiting. Ru feels like a cup waiting to be filled, and the Mistress is waiting to fill her. All it will take is a touch. But there are no illusions where Ru lives. Bones are bones. Bones are dead. Suha is alive, however little. One last time, Ru kills. She doesnt touch the bones of her Mistress. Instead, she turns away and goes to Suha. Something inside her stretches and breaks. My she-beast! the Mistress voice cries in dismay, and fades away. The bones are just bones now. A last trace of the golden light lingers within Ru. Ru lies next to Suha, pressing against her, letting the golden light embrace her. Ru? says Suhas voice inside her. Ru feels a moments violent shock, and then a busy whirring as Suha takes in her situation. Ru catches glimpses of the girls thoughts as they pick up scraps of ideas the Mistress has left behind. Oh, but Suha is clever! Ru tingles with joy as she feels the last golden motes blend with Suhas mind and all Suha has read from the book. Shes thinking of a way to revive that cooling body on the floor. It might even work. Ru doesnt understand, but she can feel that Suha does. Ru doesnt try to move, but one paw lifts, flexes like a human hand. Ru startles. Sorry, Ru. I suppose that was a bit abrupt of me, says Suhas voice inside her. Levasarion was right. I do need the Guardians help. Will you work with me? Please? Please. The old Mistress never said Please to her she-beast. Suha has given her another gift. Together, they walk to a nearby table and begin their work.
Published on Aug 26, 2011
by Melissa Mead
The Wardens claim it doesn't matter what Moonskin you wear, or which phase you're born under. They lie. A Full-phase Lion is respected even in their human skin. A descendant of the founding Lupines can eat someone's pet poodle while in wolfskin, and the Wardens will swear that a wild dog must've done it. They'd shoot anybody else. The Wardens claim to protect us from the Null world beyond our borders, where no one has a moonskin, everyone stays in human form from birth to death, and the Nulls can't tell the difference between an animal and a person in their 'skin. They start horror stories, like the one about the girl who crossed the border in rabbit 'skin and was trapped and stewed.
Published on Jan 4, 2019
by Lynette Mejia
***Editor's Note: Adult story, includes reference to domestic violence*** When you came back, they said it was a miracle. Dead three days like Jesus in the tomb, like Lazarus you rose and walked again among the living. Where you had been and what you had seen, that was between you and God, but it didn't stop the preacher from asking. I watched him look into your cold eyes, hard as blue marbles, and I saw what he saw: wherever you had been, it wasn't anything to share. The afterlife is best left to the imagination, I guess.
Published on Jul 14, 2021
by Linda Niehoff
A cropped band concert t-shirt. Sleeves torn off. Cut in half. Hair spiked up. Fish nets and a jean skirt.

She's hungry.
Published on Jun 6, 2022
by Wendy Nikel
People Face Trade-offs I face the PizzaPlace manager, Bennigan, who's pointing his instrument at my head. He pulls the trigger. It beeps.
Published on Mar 31, 2021
by Bridget Norquist
Dear Prudence, There's something going on with my daughter. I've found her bed empty and her window wide open every morning for the past few weeks. At first I thought she was just over at her boyfriend's, but then he asked me if I thought she might be "going through something." Well, obviously she is! My husband thinks it's drugs, but you should see the way this girl eats. The other night she stole my corned beef right off my plate and tore into it like a crocodile in a duck pond. And she's vegetarian! Or was. Now she has double portions, all meat--you should see my grocery bill! I don't know if it's the change in her diet, or what, but her hair used to be thin like mine and now it's super thick, as full as our Golden Retriever's but softer than alpaca. She also has a new obsession with nature videos and wild animals. Yesterday, she wallpapered her room with pictures torn out of old National Geographic magazines and Sierra Club calendars. You should see it, it's so eerie. All these animal eyes, staring at you from every direction. They look so... hungry.
Published on Feb 28, 2017
by Chris Ovenden
"I don't know that I'm comfortable with the whole zombie thing, you know." Sara laughs. "What, you scared they're going to eat you?" She's too busy counting out the exact change for her coffee to look at me.
Published on Sep 1, 2015
by Siri Paulson
Have you ever heard of an aquatic shapeshifter? Traditionally, we have preyed on divers, waiting in the guise of a clownfish or a piece of coral reef until they and their black clicking boxes come too close. Have you wondered how sharks can appear at swimming beaches out of nowhere, or why experienced divers sometimes fail to surface? Our talents go beyond shifting from one finned creature to another. We are the sudden riptide that draws you under and never lets you go, the rogue wave that sweeps you off the seawall or flips your boat. We follow lone yachters bent on circumnavigation, unwisely testing their will against the sea. We know why the Mary Celeste was empty and how Amelia Earhart screamed when she died. The monster shark you have only dreamed of, the creature of the deeps that will not come near the bathyscaphe's light--those were us.
Published on May 29, 2020
by Shannon Peavey
On a narrow highway in western Texas, an old Ford pickup hurtles through a curve at eighty-five miles per hour. It slips a little on bald tires, but recovers and swings out to the straightaway, accelerating. Two girls sit in the cab -- one in the driver's seat, one behind her in the back. The driver chews her lip until it bleeds. Her younger sister has a pair of dark glasses pushed up onto her forehead and her face pressed up to the glass until her nose squashes flat like a bulldog's. She's careful not to look up at her sister. Somewhere behind them, there are posters with their names and faces, policemen canvassing neighborhoods. But they are miles, miles away. "What the hell's with all these armadillos," Brynn says. "I mean, look at this road. It's a goddamned slaughterhouse." Sam glances back in the rearview mirror. Just a quick look, and then back to the road. The air stings her split lip. "Get your greasy face off my windows." "You think they'd learn," Brynn says, without peeling her face from the glass. "Isn't there some sort of instinct? Species memory?" "Their mamas didn't teach em right." "Maybe they think you're gonna stop for them. Maybe they think you're a merciful lady." "Nobody thinks that," Sam says, and eases off the gas. They don't see any live armadillos for the rest of the drive. Only dead ones, splayed carelessly along the fog line. So Sam's mercy isn't tested. When they stop for gas, Brynn stays in the truck and drops her sunglasses back over her eyes. She stares at her knees and imagines the scene -- the long-haul truckers in their cabs, maybe a family with kids on a roadtrip, harried mother telling them to _be quiet_ while she fills up the car. Though really she can't see a thing. The lenses of her glasses are smoked and neatly coated with black paint. Sam gasses up and then heads inside to buy corn nuts and Mountain Dew. She watches the cashier carefully as he rings her up, carefully enough that he stops smiling and ducks his head to hide his eyes behind the brim of his cap. Too late to save you, honey, Sam thinks with something like pity -- but all she says is thanks, and she takes the green bottles and the corn nuts back out to the truck and knocks on the window before she gets in. "Cashier was cute enough," she says as she does up her seatbelt. In the backseat, Brynn uncaps her Mountain Dew with a carbonated wheeze. "One of those sensitive artist types. Married, though." "Never stopped you from looking," Brynn says, and she laughs. It's an ugly sound. "Never has." Sam starts the truck and they pull out into the evening dim. A whisper of a breeze blows grit across the windshield. They drive until it's full dark, and then stop in some little shithole town with a motel right by the highway. Sam goes and gets the key, begs a lower rate off some girl wearing too much makeup and a bunch of jewelry in shiny red plastic. Even her shoes are red. Sam sees them because she kicks her feet under the desk like a child. Their room is on the second floor at the corner. Sam goes there first and gets it unlocked and then heads into the bathroom and stares at herself in the mirror while Brynn gets herself settled in. She doesn't look so good. Sallow-skinned, red-eyed. Bit nails and hair tied up with a broken rubber band. "Gotta find some place to hole up," she tells her reflection, looking herself squarely in the eyes across the bathroom sink. When she comes out, Brynn is already lying flat out on one of the beds with her boots still on her feet. Her black glasses folded neatly and resting on the Gideon Bible. "These ugly-ass bumpy ceilings," Brynn says. "Popcorn ceilings. Yeah." "I just keep trying to find pictures in them. You know? Like clouds, or like somebody wrote some code in there." "It'd be a stupid fuckin code." Sam had a house, once -- renovated it herself. She's scraped her share of popcorn off ceilings. It never came away clean. "Maybe something like the DaVinci Code. Some shit about Jesus." "I saw that movie," Sam says. "It was all right." Brynn snorts and closes her eyes. Sam finds the remote in the bedside table and flicks on the TV. She surfs channels until she finds a rerun of _Jaws_, and then settles back to watch a mechanical shark eat the shit out of some swimmers. "I love this movie," she says. "That shark. What a predator." Brynn twitches on the bed, but doesn't open her eyes. "You're gonna need a bigger boat," Sam says. "I'm going out for a smoke." Brynn swings up to a sit and her boots hit the thin carpet with a _clop_. "Watch yourself," Sam says. "And take your glasses." "I'll be careful." "Yeah," Sam says, and turns back to the TV. That shark -- what a predator. Just death in the water. # Brynn sucks smoke deep into her lungs and holds it there, looking fixedly across the highway. There's a cow pasture on the other side, fenced in with barbed wire. A pair of tan cows watch her with placid faces. It's okay, though. It doesn't affect animals. They've tested it. So she keeps her glasses in her pocket. She doesn't like to wear them more than she has to -- doesn't like to make herself blind. Sometimes she thinks she might like to have a dog. Someone she could really talk to, face to face. But they moved around too much; it wouldn't be fair to the dog. Sam says she wouldn't mind having a dog in her truck. But Sam says a lot of things that aren't really true. "You got a light?" It's a woman's voice, off to her right. Brynn fumbles in her pocket for her lighter, then holds it out to the side and flicks the spark wheel without ever glancing her way. "Thanks." The woman shifts around and takes a puff of her cigarette and her shoes make scuffing noises on the pavement. Red shoes with little peep-toes. Brynn can look at those; shoes are safe. "You sure seem interested in those cows," the woman says. She has a good voice. A little raspy around the edges. "They're nice cows." "They reek." She blows out a breath and her plume of smoke mixes with Brynn's. "Not their fault," Brynn says. For a while they stand there quietly, side by side, and smoke. Brynn's cigarette burns down to the filter and she drops it on the pavement and grinds it out with her toe. "What are you doing out here?" the woman says. "Just passing through?" Brynn ignores that and quirks her head to get a better look at the animals across the street. One of them has dropped away to find better grazing. The other still stands there, quiet alongside the barbed wire. She says, "Do you think cows think about their futures?" The woman laughs and then her laugh dies away and still Brynn says nothing more. The woman shifts uneasily. "No," she says. "I mean, they're cows." "Yeah," Brynn says, her voice light. "It's probably for the best. What do they have to look forward to?" She sees the woman move out of the corner of her eye and she flinches away. Her hand, snaking out toward Brynn's arm. Her fingers graze the edge of Brynn's sleeve. "Hey," the woman says. "Look at me while I'm talking to you, okay? It's only polite." Brynn swallows. The woman's cigarette is still burning and the smoke slides up her nose, into her eyes. It's a better brand than the one Brynn smokes, or maybe she's just better at savoring the taste. "Come on," the woman says. Her pretty voice, low and inviting. Her red shoes shifting on the pavement. "You should go," Brynn says. "Don't tell me what to do," the woman says, and then Brynn just can't stop herself anymore. She turns around and looks. She's the most beautiful girl Brynn's ever seen. # Sam wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that something's gone wrong. She rolls over and checks the digital clock on the bedside table. Two-thirty. She looks for the lump of her sister in the other bed. But she's not there. "Fuck," Sam says, and she tears out of bed. She doesn't bother to get dressed, just slams her feet into her boots and heads out the door with the room key curled in her fist. The night is cool and dry and sucks the breath right out of her. "Brynn," she says, trying to keep her voice low but carrying. "Where are you?" She walks the parking lot in circles, pausing in the patches of harsh light cast by the motel's neon sign or the caustic orange glow of a streetlamp. The truck still sits where she'd parked it, cold and motionless. Brynn wouldn't have gone far. Not by herself. She stops when she passes a low ditch by the edge of the parking lot. She can't see well, but someone is breathing roughly down there. Their breath catching like they're trying not to sob. "Brynn, it's me." She steps over the curb and skids down on her heels into the bottom of the ditch. It's dry all the way through, and sandy. No rain for weeks. Brynn is only a vague shape in the darkness, crouched over something that lies limp and broken in the bottom of the ditch. She shifts to the side and her foot comes down on a piece of red plastic jewelry and it cracks under her weight. "Oh, shit," Sam says, and she kneels down and runs her hand over the dead girl's cheek. The girl is cool under her hand and her makeup smears across the tips of Sam's fingers. "I didn't want to hurt her," Brynn says, her voice tight and strained. She's pressed against the side of the ditch, cowering like an animal. Her face turned down to the dirt and the darkness. "I know you didn't. It's okay." "I just wanted to see her face. She had such a nice voice." Red lipstick is spread across the corner of the girl's face, down to her chin. She looks like she's swallowed a mouthful of blood. "It doesn't matter," Sam says. "This doesn't change anything." "I can't stop it. Someone needs to stop me." "That's a lie," Sam says fiercely. "You're not doing nothing wrong. It's just the way you are. Nobody expects a shark not to kill. It's just following its instincts." Brynn says nothing. Sam gets up and holds out a hand to her sister, trusting that she'll keep her eyes averted. After a moment, Brynn takes it and Sam pulls her up. Sam kicks out, jars the dead girl's ankle with a booted foot. "It's not like anyone'll miss her, anyway. Look at these red shoes. Nobody but a dumb whore's gonna wear red shoes." "Yeah," Brynn says. "Right." "Okay," Sam says. There's a numb feeling in her gut, but it's easy to ignore. "Let's go take care of it, then." Sam drives the truck over close to the ditch so they won't have to walk so far carrying her. In case there are security cameras or something like that. She takes the girl by the shoulders and Brynn takes her ankles and they put her in the truckbed and wrap her in a tarp. "Don't suppose you know a quiet place around this town," Sam says. Brynn shakes her head, and Sam nods. Best they can hope for is to buy themselves a little time. "Get in the truck, then," she says, and they get in and the old thing starts up without a hitch. She leaves the truck running while she grabs their bags from the motel room and leaves the key on the bedside table. There are still traces of the dead girl's makeup crammed under her fingernails. She gets in the truck and puts it in drive. Doesn't think about where they're headed next. Sometimes it's all driving in circles, anyway -- going places they've already been and trying to be new people there. It never works that way, of course. No matter how hard they scrape at it, nothing ever comes off clean. So they just run. # Whenever they hear a siren, whenever they see a sudden flash of light -- Sam says, _down_, and they duck behind a wall or turn their faces away from the windows. They change the plates on the truck again, just in case. Sam chops her hair short, though she looks even more criminal with that wild bristle haloing her face. "This is too much," Brynn says. "I can't do it anymore." "Fine," Sam says, and shrugs. She forces her voice to be light. "We'll just let them find us. Not like we can't deal with them when they get here." Brynn flinches. She's thought about it. She's wondered how long it would take her to look one of the cops in the eye. Not very long, she thinks. "No," she says. "You're right. We'll keep going." "So get back in the truck." Sam turns them back to the road. The truck jolts in a pothole and her teeth click together. They're taking the back roads, now, trying to stay under the radar. "We're gonna run out of places to go," Brynn says. "Fuck that. Then we'll stand and fight them." Brynn says nothing. There's a tickle of unease in Sam's gut, but she says, "There ain't nobody who could beat us. You know that." "I know it." "So don't be such a chickenshit." "Get off my case," Brynn says sharply. "It's not important now. Nobody's found us." "Not yet," Sam says. The worst part is that Brynn can't really argue with her. Doesn't really want to. Because if Sam left her, where would she be? Can't drive -- might accidentally see other drivers through their windshields, or pedestrians by the side of the road. She might make it by in some halfway house, never taking her dark glasses off. If they had some pity to spare for a blind girl. She's mostly helpless, mostly useless -- save for that one talent. "I'll probably look at you one day," she says. "You won't," Sam says. "I'll gouge your eyes out first." "Okay." It makes her feel oddly better. Brynn hasn't seen her sister in years -- not since the start of this whole thing. But she can put together something of a picture from all the bits and pieces, the occasional glances. Sam has big feet, and her boots are worn. Underrun at the heels. She has long, thin fingers and she bites her nails. But her face -- that's three years out of date. They drive on. At midday, they stop at a deserted rest area and Sam slaps some ripped-up jerky and American cheese between slices of bread and wraps them in foil and puts them on the engine block to heat up while they drive. "Everything looks better with hot food in your stomach," she says, and pats the truck's hood affectionately. Forty minutes later, the sandwiches taste delicious. "Pull over there," Brynn says, wiping her fingers on her jacket. "What?" "I said, pull over. That driveway there." "The one that says _World's Biggest Battlefield in Miniature_?" "Yeah, there." Sam slants a look back in the rearview mirror. "Looks like a tourist trap." Brynn shrugs. "I want to see it." Sam tips her head to the side. The sign for the _World's Biggest Battlefield in Miniature_ gets bigger and bigger as they draw close, and at the last minute she rips the truck off the road, down the cutoff to the tourist trap. "Don't say I never did nothin for you." The place is almost deserted. Two other cars in the parking lot and a little house with an old man who takes money and stamps hands. They won't ask him, but that man can talk for hours about what made him start this place. He says it's an abiding love for history, but really, after his young son died, the old man just didn't know what to do with all of his action figures. Brynn follows mutely behind her sister, eyes flicking behind her glasses, catching little bits of scenery around the edges. She holds her hand out to be stamped and out of the corner of her eye she traces the pattern of brown and yellow twining up her boot laces. "She slow?" the old man says. "Nah, she's just shy," Sam says, and though her voice is easy there's a warning in it. The old man hears it, and says nothing more. Outside, Brynn hooks her elbows over the split-rail fence keeping them from the exhibit and takes her glasses off to look at it. It's okay, because the place is mostly deserted. Sam stands a pace back, shifting her weight from foot to foot. "This thing is fuckin huge," she says. "Wonder how long it took to make it." Little green army men crawl all over sand hillocks and sheets of AstroTurf. Impossible to tell what battle they're reenacting. Maybe something in Vietnam, from all the plastic jungle trees scattered around. The tableau stretches nearly the length of a football field. Plastic men pointing guns at each other. Some of them lie dead, their limbs chewed off or just quietly still, staring up at the sky. "Seems pretty goddamn pointless, to me," Sam says. "Waste of time," Brynn agrees. They stand there for a while more, looking out over the carnage. A crunch of gravel in the parking lot announces the arrival of another car. Sam glances over her shoulder and then freezes. "It's a cop." Something settles in Brynn's stomach, something heavy like inevitability. She flicks her glasses back over her eyes but isn't sure it'll make much difference. "How many?" "Just one, I think." "No lights. No siren." "No," Sam says. She nudges Brynn with her elbow and they edge around the fence to the far side of the exhibit. Hands-in-pockets casual. The cop gets out of her car. She's rake-thin, a little past middle-age. She vanishes into the little house to give the old man his money. While she's gone, Sam and Brynn scurry off toward the truck. Trying not to look like they are running from the law. The door opens. The cop steps back out. They freeze along the fence and duck their heads, like they're absorbed in the exhibit. The army men in front of them appear to be capturing a town made out of popsicle sticks. "You know, I see this place all the time when I'm driving, and I've never stopped before," she says back through the open door. The old man says something back to her, but they can't hear it. "What should we do?" Brynn's hands are whiteknuckled on the fence. "What if she knows our faces?" "Cool it," Sam says, under her breath. "She's off duty. She's not searching for us." But in truth, she wouldn't mind if the woman confronted them. She's not nervous. Just a stir of anticipation. After all, it's only natural. They shouldn't have to hide what Brynn is. The cop steps up to the fence. She scans the battlefield and lets out a low whistle through her teeth. "What a production," she says. "What should I do?" Little splinters of wood start to flake off under Brynn's hands. "Keep your fuckin head down." Sam keeps an eye on the woman as she starts to circle around the fence, coming their way. She nods hello to an elderly couple sitting on a bench in a splash of meager shade. Brynn swallows. Her face is bone white, her glasses utterly dark. The cop stops a few feet in front of them, eying a pair of green men scaling a plastic palm tree. "Hell of a setup, isn't it, girls?" Her voice is friendly. It takes Sam a moment to realize that she's talking to them. "Yes ma'am," she says. "Get vicious winds through here. I wonder if they're glued down." "Not sure," Sam says. There's a tiny quaver in her fingers, so she clenches them. "I'd imagine they are." "Have to be." The cop nods, and Sam can see that the skin of her throat is paper-thin. Riding loose over the column of her spine. She almost thinks she can see the thready pound of the woman's pulse. Sam says nothing and turns her face back to the exhibit. Hoping that she'll move on, that the conversation is done. But it's not. "So, what brings two young ladies such as yourselves to a place like this? You don't seem the type." "I'm very interested in history," Sam says. She inches her hand across the wood until it collides with Brynn's. Just a light bump. Saying, be ready. "That's great," the cop says. "My family's full of veterans. My brother went to Vietnam. I'm glad to see some young people still respect that contribution." "Try to," Sam says, and she gives a smile full of teeth. The elderly couple have gotten up and gone away. The contrail of their dust still fading in the parking lot. It's just the sisters and the cop, now. Sam's hand clenches in Brynn's sleeve. Brynn listens to the woman's voice as she talks, wondering what her face looks like. She has a dry voice, but it's kind. Brynn could kill her in an instant. Sam is getting tense. Brynn can feel it in the grip Sam has on her cuff, hear it in the scrape of her feet on the ground. The cop doesn't know. She doesn't know anything. So Brynn says, "We'd better get back on the road. Arent we supposed to meet Frank soon?" Sam jerks a little bit. She lets go of Brynn's sleeve. "Right," she says. The cop smiles at them and looks back to the battlefield. "You two have a nice evening." "You too, ma'am." "You too," Brynn echoes. They shuffle past her, both of them watching the dirt. As they go, the cop's hand darts out and closes on Brynn's wrist -- she didn't see it coming; she almost screams out loud. But all the cop says is, "It's quite the sight. I wish you could see it for yourself." Her voice is so kind. "Thank you, ma'am," Brynn says, and her face is trying to make some expression but she doesnt know which one, so she stops it. Just shuts everything down. They stay silent until they have the truck in drive, pulling out onto the backcountry road with the sign proclaiming the _World's Biggest Battlefield in Miniature_. Then Sam starts laughing, a helpless spasm of it, and after a moment Brynn joins in. They laugh without stopping. Sam curled over the steering wheel like it's the only thing holding her upright. Brynn bent over her knees, her knuckles dug so deep into her eyesockets she sees stars. "Jesus," Sam says, once her laughter's died away. "What a close shave." "Way too close." "Good thinking, little sister," Sam says, and she slaps the wheel for emphasis. "Really good." There's quiet in the truck for mile after mile. The landscape rips by dull and the same -- wastes of prairie tallgrass and stunted mesquite. Neat rows of cotton. The occasional clapboard house, shutters drawn tight so it's hard to tell if anyone lives there at all. The truck rounds a bend. Brynn says, "Were you gonna have me kill that lady?" Sam doesn't answer right away. She straightens out and squints into the low glow of the setting sun. "Would you have done it?" "Yes," Brynn says. Sam's mouth works. She rolls down the window and spits. "Well, you didn't," she says. "And look at us now. We're doing okay, right?" "Yeah. Just fine." They drive on. Brynn watches the side mirror, sure that she's going to see flashing lights and cop cars coming up behind them. She doesn't, though. Only dry road and the blur of cars passing in the opposite direction, beetle-bright in the glare. So she stares at herself in the mirror and meets her own gaze steadily. After a while, the slant of the sun grows low enough that it strikes off the mirror like a lance, right into her eyes -- it burns, makes her squint, makes her eyes water. But she won't close her eyes and she won't look away. "There's another fucking armadillo," Sam says, a twist in her voice. Brynn keeps watching her own face in the mirror, her mind moving slow. Dumb with the light and the thoughts of what's happened. She's remembering that girl, and how she moved her feet on the pavement. The calm faces of the cows in the pasture. She's wondering whether she or her sister will be first to know what it feels like to die.
Published on Oct 10, 2014
by M. J. Pettit
July 12, 1865 Dear Mister Barnum,
Published on Jul 28, 2017
by Greg Porter
The cavern reeked of brimstone, blood and magic. Artor the Sorcerer, stained with ichor and blood mostly not his own, limped past the sinuous corpse of the treasure's jealous guardian to claim his prize. Gold coins up to his ankles were just an impediment to walking, piles of jewels merely glittering distractions, neither of them more than trinkets to a master of the arcane arts. But there, in the back of the cavern, there was the true treasure. As Artor approached, he sensed something wrong. Hesitating, he peered closer. Not magic, not threat, not traps, but... disarray. There, Grimwold's Gruesome Grimoire, bereft of pages, nothing left but a spine and empty bindings. The Beastly Book of Brell, thought indestructible, was apparently only nigh-so. Terach's Terrible Tome was recognizable only by scattered page fragments that nipped at his heels, barely worth the thought it took to immolate them. Scores if not hundreds of lesser volumes, tattered. An empire's ransom of irreplaceable lore, gone. Ruined, all of them.
Published on Apr 19, 2012
by Cat Rambo
1. There are zombies. 2. Zombies can turn up anywhere. If your mom dies in her sleep, shell become a zombie that doesnt care whose brain shes (slowly) eating. 3. They are not particularly fast. Some people even poke fun at that. Theres a famous web comic called Late Zombies, but has the hero zombie always showing up too late to eat someone. 4. The comics readership has been declining lately. 5. The web comic creator, seeing the slipping numbers and worrying that her art was becoming stale, has decided to live with zombies for several weeks. She commissioned a plexiglass cage in which to do so, like a shark cage for divers. 6. Theres a WebCam in the corner of the cubicle, its red eye blinking. Sometimes it seems to blink in time with the zombie footsteps circling, circling, circling the cage. 7. Zombies are boring when theyre not chasing you. 8. Zombies can smell blood. 9. The web comic creator has decided to liven things up by letting the zombies around her smell blood. Shes cut herself, not too deep, with a pair of scissors she had handy and smeared it on the inside of the plexiglass. 10. Under enough pressure, plexiglass can break.
Published on Nov 6, 2013
by Jenny Rae Rappaport
The storm clouds are gathering, the sky is glittering, and still Della bakes. The folding of the dough as she shapes each bread loaf is familiar, the stretch and spring of it a comfort against her hands. The roar of the wind means that the others are battening down the hatches; the skimmers are parked underground and no one is foolish enough to attempt a shuttle run. Della does calculations in her head, while she rushes to finish: the speed of the storm over the plains, the spiraling winds, the violence of the lightning on this strange planet. That they'll ride tonight is a foregone conclusion, as inescapable as the moons rising. People will need the protection of flour and love, and it still may not be enough. She doesn't look up when the door opens and the shop bell rings, only says, "How many loaves for your family?" "Dell," he says, his voice hoarse, and now, she looks. The red dust ringing the neck of Kazu's jumpsuit is stained with blood, and dammit, there isn't going to be enough time to bake the bread. "Did they get you?" she asks, already knowing the answer. "Would you let me near, if they did?" Della doesn't answer, can't answer, because she knows what's right and what's wrong. It starts with the bites, with the young ones marking those who are too slow; it ends with the blood lust and the compulsion and the inescapable pull of the elders. "The dough will overproof," she says instead, sliding a tray of loaf pans into the fridge. They stand there, flour floating in the air between them, and Della feels him reach for her hand. But he doesn't kiss her, and that's as sure a sign as any that he's been bitten. "We need to go," she says, and starts throwing baked loaves into backpacks. She tosses one to Kazu, before pausing for one last look at the shop. "Now. Before it's too late." He says nothing, just stares at Della, so she does what she has to do--she grabs his hand, and they run together into the hungry, hungry night.
The dark sparkles come with the clouds, with the wind, with the blood lust upon the air. They are stirring and Della can feel it in her bones. All the good people are locked up in their homes, away from those that hunt them. They have their barricades and their doorsteps ringed with bread; all the precious prayers that protect them from those that they share the planet with. They do not talk about the price that they pay for this sanctuary in the starry sky. Lightning cracks through the storm, and Della feels Kazu's hand tighten on hers. They run because running is the only option. The rest of the Hunt will be out soon, and the rules for it have been learned the hard way--do not cross the ones who live here. Do not ever try.
Della runs until there is nowhere left to run; until the wind prevents them from taking another step, and the dark sparkles swirl around them. Kazu is half-crazed, straining against her hand as blood drips from his mouth; she doesn't know whether to cry or scream or shake with fright. They come on their beasts, creatures that are as inhuman as the Hunt themselves. Starlight and energy, crackling from the storm, and astride them they pulse with rage and hunger. There is nothing that can stand in their way--no machine made by man can contend with the power that they exude. Lightning flashes with their every movement. And Della sees it--all the futility, all the tiny human striving that has happened on this planet, all the pitiful whims that these creatures have allowed them--none of it real, none of it true. Flour and yeast mixed with love are no true protection against them; they have let them believe that handmade bread and prayer have been enough for all the years that they have lived here. But she tries anyway. She holds onto her man as he strains to join them. She holds him tight as he tries to run from her. As the wind batters her and their voices scream through her skull, she holds onto Kazu. Until the tears run from her eyes, and she wonders why they do not kill her where she stands. And then, she realizes, that they are laughing at her, as much as something like the Hunt can laugh, and that is one indignity too much to bear. So many lies; so many years, baking nothing but lies. The song in her bones gets louder, and it feels like her head will explode. Della clings to Kazu's hand and grabs his face, kissing his bloody mouth, infecting herself. Kazu laughs, as the blood dribbles down his neck, and for a second, they are both mad together under the raging sky. Then, a voice like a tornado: "I only wanted the boy," and a flash like lightning that goes through her body like fire. Della burns and is reborn, and when she opens her eyes, the bread from her backpack is gone, and the Hunt is in the distance. "Come home," Kazu says, and so she does. The wind stays quiet for the entire way.
Published on Mar 30, 2022
by Bonnie J Redding
Red: the hey-look-at-me color. Red is squirmy, breath-catching, unavoidable. It's the color of the roses the short-term boyfriends brought me. Not red: the blue tattered sailors by the side of the road that my husband loved to pick for me.
Published on Nov 6, 2014
by Jenn Reese
If you are brave enough to invite a dragon to tea, be warned: she might say yes. And now, instead of slicing cucumbers and cutting the crusts off bread, I'm roasting three sheep in an open pit and steeping nuggets of pure gold with the tea.
Published on Aug 6, 2020
by Luc Reid
Turning away my sister feels like stomping barefoot on a nail. When I was nineteen and the car she warned me about gave out near Denver, Alice drove out to get me and never said I told you. Alice was the one who hijacked me from my own bachelor party and made me promise not to marry the girl who later got arrested for throwing a brick at a two-year-old. Alice is the one who always looked out for me, but I can't return the favor. I can't. It's too much to ask.
Published on Apr 26, 2012
by Luc Reid
Dear Tim, Thank you for your application and for coming to interview with us this past Thursday midnight. While we appreciated your enthusiastic interest in vampirism, we regret that we cannot offer you an immortal existence as a cursed undead being at this time.
Published on Jun 29, 2016
by Luc Reid
* They have user names like Vlad1428 and IWontKillYouAndDrinkYourBloodNoSeriously
* Their Netflix binge-watching always stops at around 5 AM
Published on Jul 20, 2017
by Jen Rewell
I remember when they first appeared, they were horribly mistreated. Zombies had a bad reputation before they even existed, and it took a while for people to come to grips with the difference between the myth and the reality. See, too many people thought there'd be this fierce battle against the undead. That's why they got wiped out so quickly when they first started being Reborn--there was just this expectation of violence. But enough of them survived--s that even the right word? I'm still getting the hang of the PC lingo--so when the second wave started, more people stood up for what was right.
Published on Oct 30, 2017
by Rachel Rodman
1. "Brains!" he began--a low moan. "Brains!" "My name is Brianna," I corrected him.
Published on Jul 9, 2020
by Rebecca Roland
"Menopausal lycanthropy," the doctor said.

"What?" I asked, scratching at my armpit where my hair had grown nearly a centimeter since last night's shower. And let's not mention my legs. I had to change out of my favorite leggings this morning because it looked like I was walking around on two porcupines.
Published on Dec 6, 2022
by Chuck Rothman
Rose knew the signs of death better than most. The second she stepped in the hospice room, she knew it was not far off. The man on the bed was pale and thin, his skin like tissue paper, his hair a few wispy strands that made him look like an ogre. There was a well-worn bible on the bedstand next to him.
Published on May 2, 2011
by Peter A Schaefer
He climbed into bed and turned out the lights, then said, "Darkness becomes you." "That's either really rude, or terribly metaphorical."
Published on Apr 30, 2014
by Lawrence M. Schoen
The zombie apocalypse started and ended in Atlanta.

Most people blamed the outbreak on the CDC--an experimental pandemic drug gone wrong. But no one could have anticipated that a beverage company would save the day. That's where I worked, as a food sciences chemist in product development. When those first infected bastards started roaming up and down every Peach Street clamoring for brains, I was heading up one of the teams trying to find something they might settle for instead of snacking on frontal lobes and bits of brain stem. You know the old adage that when you and a friend are escaping a bear you don't need to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend. Now swap out mutant, cerebrally-peckish zombies for the bear and everyone else in Atlanta for the friend.
Published on Aug 22, 2022
by K.C. Shaw
Friedrich drew his knife over the block of chocolate. A thin strip formed behind the blade, curling like a dark rosebud. Perfect. He set the curl in the middle of the parfait glass, on top of the custard. It was beautiful but too studied, even with the ruby juice pooling around the edges. Friedrich opened a drawer and found the nutmeg grater.
Published on Sep 25, 2012
by Alex Shvartsman
It isn't easy being green, scaly, or abominable these days. Humanity turned the tables on the apex predators of the food chain, and has been exterminating us with extreme prejudice. We're still faster and stronger than they are, but we're prone to defeat by bad judgment. Heed the lessons of our vanquished brethren; learn from their mistakes and remain successful, extant, and satiated.
Published on Dec 22, 2014
by Stefan Slater
It's mutual when the werewolf and the moon break up. They box up the cabin they shared together. Pack their separate cars together.

Grey-haired with eyes gleaming silver, the moon is off to the city, because all light is welcome in the never-dark: she'll find a place among the sleepless traffic signals, humming neon signs, always-burning spotlights.
Published on Aug 24, 2022
by Indigo Smithson
"Mommy!" The bedroom door opens.
Published on May 21, 2020
by Eric James Stone
I finally pulled myself all the way through the apartment wall to find Dee had finished dressing in her Scarlett O'Hara dress. I always thought she was gorgeous even with her hair a mess and wearing that tatty robe Grandma Kinneson gave her, so seeing Dee dressed up like that would've taken my breath away, if I breathed anymore. Unfortunately, she wasn't dressed like that for me: it was for Raymond. He was Rhett to her Scarlett. But look how that turned out.
Published on Jan 6, 2011
by Patrick Sullivan
Amy finds a white suit in a jumble shop for her husband, Sam, principal of the local elementary.
Published on Jan 18, 2018
by Susan Taitel
1. You are not Closet Monster's first victim. Closet Monster has terrorized scores of other children before you. And will frighten many more after you. You are not special; Closet Monster will scare you too.
Published on Sep 10, 2020
by Leah Thomas
"Wait," Mother scolded. "We need to wind the bobbin first." Erin sat back from the sewing machine and crossed her arms over the seeping hole in her stomach. "Can't you do it for me?"
Published on Sep 10, 2012
by Lavie Tidhar
Published on Jul 23, 2012
by Lavie Tidhar
Published on Jul 24, 2012
by Lavie Tidhar
Published on Jul 25, 2012
by Lavie Tidhar
Published on Jul 26, 2012
by Lavie Tidhar
Published on Jul 27, 2012
by Lavie Tidhar
Susan don't like zombie. Susan don't like dead things. Susan likes sunlight and laughter and cream teas. She never asked for the job, she never wanted it. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.
Published on Jun 17, 2011
by Lavie Tidhar
"Ol Man Amerika oli gat sam problem naoia," Verity said. Brett said, "What do you mean the Americans are having problems now?"
Published on Aug 24, 2011
by Alisha Tyson
Once upon a time, when you were a little girl, your favorite monster was an ankle-grabber who lived beneath your bed. You met one night when your mother was too tired to escort you to your room. With a child's stumble you stepped toward the threshold before the darkness beneath your mattress. It is there that covers breathe. And you said to a sticky black hand by your toes, "Ha! I can see you, silly." The Ankle-Grabbing Monster revealed himself, so angry with you for messing up his act that he lectured you on unladylike behavior. He was a small monster with dark skin and an unkind spine that kept him perpetually bent and Sad.
Published on Sep 30, 2014
by Garth Upshaw
Zombies are stupid. Dumb as a box of rocks. Draw a line in the dirt and they'll go all glassy-eyed and follow it, shuffling along about two miles a day. "Gah, gah, gah." Mom says, Don't Make Fun. Says, It's Not Nice. Says, It Could happen to Anyone.
Published on Jan 17, 2012
by James Van Pelt
They came for me on a Monday morning when I was too exhausted to hear the backdoor caving in. Only when their hands were on me did I realize that all was lost, but the dead didn't consume me. They dragged me out of the house, shambled the three blocks to the school, holding me tight in their rotted hands, shuffling in that loose-limbed, broken way that they had, until they'd pulled me up the stairs, through the front doors with their glass knocked out, down the hall strewn with books and abandoned backpacks, until we came to my room. Here, too, windows were broken, and the Venetian blinds hung askew. Morning sun slanted through the uneven slats. They pushed me toward my podium. I clung to the top, sick with fear. When would they kill me? Would I become like them?
Published on Oct 31, 2011
by Marcus Vance
I left the bar when the sun started to dip under the horizon. The humidity hit me like a jealous lover, and threatened strangulation. My black oxfords clicked on the cobblestone roads of the French Quarter while warm beer moved my feet. I wandered like the wide Mississippi.
Published on Oct 10, 2019
by Sean Vivier
***Editor's Note: Adult language and situation. Be advised.*** "I'm sorry, sir, but you can't come inside."
Published on Feb 2, 2015
by Pam L. Wallace
After seven days and seven nights of fasting on a lonely moor, hunt during the dark of the moon in a secluded glade. Trapping a unicorn is an onerous and grueling task. It will lead you a merry chase; you must be motivated past weariness and self-defeat. Bring an image of your daughter to mind, when she was yet rosy-cheeked and full of giggles and verve. Do not be distracted by its dignified beauty. Harden your heart to the enormity of your crime. Do not consider whether it is the last of its kind. Pierce its eye with a silver javelin. Plug your ears so its scream will not shred your heart more than it already is. Ignore your soul.
Published on Aug 30, 2016
by Suvi Tausend
They bonded over zombies, while at a writers' convention. Perched on a settee near the hotel bar, she claimed legends of the undead spawned from historical fact, an ancient disease. He thought zombies would arise from hubris, like in a Stephen King novel. She was a biologist and amateur archaeologist, though, and he was a gentleman. He pretended to defer to her wisdom. But not until long after midnight, when everyone else had drifted off to bed. Are you wondering if they have names, he and she? Perhaps you want to confirm this story isn't about you or someone you know. Allow me the veil of anonymity. Names aren't important here. This isn't a love story.
Published on May 18, 2018
by Filip Wiltgren
The bravest thing my dad ever did for me was wave to me from the kitchen window. As a child, I didn't realize the courage it took for that heavy brown curtain to be pulled back, for that pale hand to wave even though the sun was already in the sky. If anything, I was annoyed by the flashes of fire when a stray ray of sunlight burrowed into my father's skin. Once, a car passed in the street, its flat windows reflecting the rising sun into our kitchen. There was a burst of light from our house that day and when I came home there smoke stains on the ceiling. Dad had tried to scrub them away with his red and blistered hands, but they hung there like a shameful reminder of how strange we were. It got worse when I became a teenager. Everything dad did was wrong. Mostly, I feared meeting my father when he was with his neighborhood watch buddies, feared my friends' snickers as they laughed at his orange day-glow vest and the seriousness on his pale face as he walked the empty street at the tail end of a group of senior citizens feeling brave by scaring away cats, dogs, and pranksters. I'd scream at him, cursing him for a blood-sucker, telling him to get the hell out of my life. Saying that I hated him, that he didn't understand what it was like to be alive. And then I'd slam the door to my bedroom ignoring the red trails of his tears as they flowed down his cheeks. Maybe it is the way with humans, that we do not appreciate what we have until we lose it. I know that I felt only relief when I finally moved away from home to study comparative religion at college. In the beginning, dad would call every night, asking about my classes, my professors, wanting to know if the food in the cafeteria was good, or if I'd found some boy or a girl that I liked. I'd give curt answers, then turn off the phone, glancing around furtively to see if anyone had heard. Still, I couldn't cut my bonds to him entirely. He was my father, the man who had raised me. I would come home for holidays and summer vacations, holding down summer jobs in the grocery store or the nursing home down the street. Ironically enough, I'd only get the graveyard shift, spending my nights calming the elderly who had lost their minds and their memories and were only alive because they were feared to die. Dad would wait for me those nights, to talk me through the difficult times when someone had yelled at me, or died on my shift. It helped, I think. We'd spend the mornings chatting over a cup of coffee and milk, about the frailty of life, about the willingness to survive at all costs and about what might come after. And I grew to appreciate him, to appreciate those heavy brown curtains moving as he would wait up for me past sunrise to so he could look for me and give me a hug after I shut the door. And we would talk a bit before we each went to our separate rest. I was coming home one day, my ears plugged by my headphones, oblivious to the world around me, and the car heading down the street. It's flat windows catching the sunlight, blinding the driver. Dad was waiting for me at the kitchen window, peeking past those heavy brown curtains. I didn't know he was there, didn't see the car until dad suddenly burst through the kitchen door, already on fire, the sunlight turning him into a magnesium flare that knocked me aside, inches from the car's fender. We landed in a heap, and by the time I fully realized what was happening, there was nothing left of him but a blackened skeleton, and the only thing truly his own were the fangs that slowly turned to dust in my arms. And sometimes, I wonder whether he knew that I'd come to appreciate his courage as a parent, and I look at the dark smudge left on the ceiling that I refuse to paint over, and I think that maybe he did.
Published on Sep 8, 2021
by Rodney Witherspoon
All five candles lining the pentagram went out at once as a sulfurous odor filled the room. A tall, cloaked figure slunk out from a corner where it hadn't previously been. "Well," said the demon, "you've got me. What do you want?"
Published on Oct 29, 2020
by Alan Wor
Pac draws the short stick. Pac goes out into the sideways ice. In a snowstorm, you lose your sense of direction. In an ice storm, you lose your sense of gravity. Everything is a razor rainbow about to shred your eyes or your tongue when you open your mouth to speak. Swirls of chewed diamond choke the air. Uneven shards of flying ice. We're out of masks. We're out of rope. Lost it in the last failure of an expedition to the main camp. 300 blind meters west. Compasses we have, but that's a false hope in the shifting world of ice. We're in a prep shed. Personal and equipment lockers, showers, and a tiny office with a broken radio. The whole place smells like old sweat and weak, Army surplus deodorant. The tunnel to main is gone, collapsed under the blast of ten sticks of industrial dynamite. I was proud of that one. I controlled the blast so it collapsed the tunnel and shot the excess force into main, with the crazies. Bloody mouthed and screaming God, a language none us can understand. Anyway, the tunnel's gone, and we keep the door closed cause it makes the place stink like sulfur otherwise, so someone has to walk it. Chase puts everything we've got into two piles on the floor. Extra parkas. Sleeping bags. First aid kits. Bottles of iodine. A hundred and one useless things. Photos of home and adventure journals and letters with faded ink and pay stubs and cash and everybody's ID cards. Smiling faces with names that are no longer familiar to me. Jason Fields. Mary Berch. Smile, click. Next.
Published on Dec 4, 2015
by Ed Wyrd
Doctor Victor Von Frankenstein entered his laboratory and froze. The lab was silent. The copper discharge spheres weren't sparking and the Jacob's Ladder was silent. The row of four glass tubes no longer bubbled. But what really caught his attention was the empty lab table. It still sat at its 45-degree angle, but the heavy duty leather straps were snapped and the monster gone. Was it terrorizing the villagers again? That's the last thing Victor needed. It had taken years to fix his reputation and get back his good name. A dim light flickered from his office. Quietly he entered. The monster was hunched over the doctor's desk.
Published on Mar 31, 2011
by Caroline M Yoachim
War came to my village uninvited. Demons who thought they were gods dropped a monster in our midst. The monster was Ao, a giant sloth of a beast with skin the color of carrots and eyes like rusted metal. My village chose me to lead the fight, though I was a farmer, not a warrior. There was no other choice. All of us were farmers. The road that wound among our homes was empty, and sunset painted the sky the color of mangoes and coral. Our fields, once green with tea and rice, were dead and dry, the entire countryside destroyed by Ao's wrath. In the window of my son's home, my granddaughter watched, her tiny three-fingered hands clinging to the sill. My son marched beside me. Born before the monster came, he held his axe with perfectly formed five-fingered hands. Time in our village was so clearly divided--there was life before Ao came, and life afterwards. Life, and death. We twenty who remained fought out of desperation.
Published on May 23, 2011