Intros to the stories in Issue #4
Ask Not by Richard Farren Barber
Sheryl was crying as I left – she stood on the doorstep of our apartment, our three month old son, James, clamped to her chest.
“I’ve got to go, you saw the letter.”
The card had been propped up on the mantelpiece for months now: “Matthew Phillips, 24/2/79, donation date: 18th July” The ink was faded; they’d printed a lot of those cards. When the card arrived the date had seemed so far in the future and yet here it was. I struggled to pull free of Sheryl.
I looked away. Down the corridor Mike Levy stood in a similar conversation with his wife.
Black Fingers by Kevin R. Doyle
Jack’s stomach muscles began clenching even before the lake came into view. At the same time his breath quickened, and bloodless fingers clamped harder on the steering wheel. He wanted to reach up and wipe sudden perspiration from his forehead but didn’t dare take either hand off the wheel.
He had hoped that anticipating these reactions ahead of time would reduce their severity. If anything, the anticipation made things even worse.
An Intriguing Resignation Letter by Caitlin Hoffman
Dear Gentlemen and Esteemed Colleagues of the Board,
I am sad to extend my refusals in such a manner as written word, yet fear I could not handle myself with a face-to-face presentation. Regretfully, I must decline the new promotion you have recently offered me, for no reason other than the fact that I am dead.
Ghost Ball by David Massengill
Vera’s face brightened when she spotted the greeting card featuring an illustration of a log cabin. Framing the quaint structure were trees with intensely yellow, orange, and red foliage. A plume of smoke rose from the cabin’s chimney into the turquoise sky.
Vera imagined that was how the cabin at the Timberhaven Resort would have looked if she and Neil had gone to the Olympic Peninsula the September before this last one. But they never made the trip.
Some Change Will Do You Good by Ryan Kinkor
Report 543-1B: attached to Evidentiary Review of Incident 5421 in Zone 14 (the State of Arizona). Lieutenant Brooks submitting supplemental information for case file.
(Personal note – Brooks: Audio file recovered from Caldwell residence basement on 05-10-2015 after thorough search of premise. Ninety-five percent of the basement walls were lined with standard copper pennies of various styles, fastened with super glue and spaced out in half-inch intervals. All are American-based coins. Room had meager furnishings along with food wrappers piled in the corners. Corpse was extracted and taken to our mobile lab for analysis. Preliminary reports suggest a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Colt .45 pistol recovered along with one bullet casing.)
Kill Therapy by Holly Current
Tall, blond, still curvy in all the right places and none of the wrong ones, Nicola Sanford leaned against a road sign as she took an eager pull from her cigarette. She picked up the self-loathing habit for lack of anything better to do about her situation. Lately she’d been bedding boredom, misery, and an overwhelming sense of failure nightly. Why not smoke?
Nicola exhaled a cloud of smoke against the starless black sky. She briefly considered lifting her skirt and putting it out against her leg. A good burn would take her focus off the migraine starting at her temples. She managed to resist the urge and instead crushed the last burning ambers against the metal sign that announced Red River Gorge was two miles away. She flipped her dark hair and tied it in a ponytail. Nicola watched as the clouds above were pushed along by a stinging wind. Any moment, Mother Nature would pour down her vengeance.
Doorway by Nicole Wolverton
Medusa hair spit and hissed into the wind; Aina slumped against the sea wall, low and half hidden. I hunkered next to her, picking at strands of her corkscrews now trapped in my lip gloss, whipped there by the gale.
“Is the water still warm?”
The surf skated up the beach only three feet from our toes. A scythe blade moon hung high in the purple-black sky, casting only the dimmest of light to touch the luminescent crest of waves off shore. Something waited . . . something slick and stiff.