Outside The Chase

It starts with a heavy pinpoint, sharp, deep in the middle of Aaron’s heart. As he reads Megan’s letter, it swells and blooms, licks like fire through his veins.This feeling should be love. It is love underneath, but it’s wrapped in something hard and cold and perpetual.Death.Death’s followed Aaron for twenty years.Death came for Aaron’s…

Vet

The nightmare drifted at the girl’s shoulder as a dark, sinuous coil of mist. As I crossed the room, its eyes followed me, as red and changeable as coals glowing in a grate, and the sharp sting of its malice raked over my skin.“He won’t hurt you,” said the girl. She sat cross-legged at the…

Good As New

When his daughter came home with her first hole, Martin plugged it with gauze and said, “School can be cruel sometimes, darling.” After, they shared a pizza and watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which had long been her favorite.The next day Lauren came home with two more holes — one above her collarbone, another…

The Lie

The hours had passed with the miraculous rapidity which tinctures time when one is on the river, and now overhead the moon was a gorgeous yellow lantern in a greyish purple sky.The punt was moored at the lower end of Glover’s Island on the Middlesex side, and rose and fell gently on the ebbing tide.A…

The Running of the Robots

Sergeant Alberto S. Mendoza (U.S. Army, Retired) always stayed indoors during the Running of the Robots. The damned things were dangerous.In the early years, Homeland Security had advised everyone to stay in their basements until the bots had passed. But now the Running was almost a public holiday in Dallas, just as it was in…

Gathering Rosebuds of Rust

His reputation preceded him. Each letter of his name was a polished pearl upon a string, the tongue a pink, velvet pad beneath them. Fathers grew nervous, mothers swooned; the hair of young ladies sprung overnight into curls, the eyes of young gentlemen narrowed with suspicion.My mother rushed around the parlour, spraying herself with icy…

Resurrection

“You’re a fascinating person,” the girl said. “I’ve never met anyone like you before. Tell me your story again.”The man was short and stocky, with Asiatic features and a long, stringy mustache. “The whole story?” he asked. “It would take a lifetime to tell you.” He stared out the window at the yellow sun and…

A Place For Passions

Four. That’s how many suicide attempts it took to get me committed to Pleasant Gardens, where I scratched at my wrists and tried not to look at my older brother Pete standing a careful foot away. We walked along smooth stepping stones, my brother and I, trapped by walls of flowers.“Oh, look,” said Pete after…

The Mirror With Six Faces

Ruben felt different the moment he awoke, but wasn’t sure until he looked in the mirror. There was the confirmation. The eyes looking back weren’t his, yet he recognized them as he would his own. They belonged to the entity.He was only twelve or thirteen the first time it crawled into his skin, but he…

A Pretty Quarrel

On one of those unattained, and unattainable pinnacles that are known as the Bleaks of Eerie, an eagle was looking East with a hopeful presage of blood.For he knew, and rejoiced in the knowledge, that eastward over the dells the dwarfs were risen in Ulk, and gone to war with the demi-gods.The demi-gods are they…

Star Maven

Think you’re tough? The kind of hyperspace hero who calls a meteor storm “confetti?” I dare you to say “no” to my mother.Tell her something just can’t work that way, and she’ll start to wonder why not. She’s good at untangling things — my girls will swear to that. And then — eventually maternal cunning…

The Deep

The night the sea came in at the windows with a roar like a thousand drumbeats, I was abed and dreaming of my dead husband.Riauk had been gone nigh on two years, pitched over the side of our fishing boat, where he’d disappeared (I was told) with scarcely a splash. Punishment, the villagers said. The…

Mother’s Birthday Present

Lizzie was sitting in a corner counting her money. “Thirty-five, Kitty, thirty-five cents.” When Lizzie’s mother was away, washing, she made her kitten her confidant. “Talk about mamma’ll be surprised when she gets this birthday present, My-i! Third one I’m giving her — when I was five I gave her peanut candy; only she didn’t…

213 Myrtle Street

The house at 213 Myrtle Street wore an enchantment that could obscure it when it so desired. This was a handy skill, particularly when salesmen roved the streets or teenagers skulked about after dark, eggs in hand.Now there was a realtor at the gate. The smell of dozens of strange, foreign houses clung to her…

How We Met

Now come dessert and coffee and each couple telling the story of how they met. From across the table, you send a hint of a smile that is for me alone. We know how these stories go, and these couples keep to the conventions. “She was working at the bank, I knew from the first…

Seed

I remember how the sky looked, in the early days, when we called our time Austerity, not Collapse. I was eleven years old and Huntsville, Alabama was at the peak of the weather boom. Ninety-one degrees in January, everything turning brown, ice and snow a fairy story for every kid under the age of thirteen.The…

The Pony Spell

The Witch Kantrina turned my wife, Frieda, into a pony. Most people in the village are referring to it as an evil curse and I suppose it was meant to be just that. The truth is our three children have always wanted a pony, and to show their appreciation they’ve begun helping with the household…

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