Thursday, July 31, 2014


I know he's a bit weird, but he's actually ok, you know when you get speaking to him. Just likes keeping himself to himself that's all. I told him we were the same and he sorta nodded. Anyway when I invited him he said he couldn't come cos he had something else on. I said to him that I hadn't said when the party was so how did he know he had something else on and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and said that I'd said it was on Saturday. He was right like, but I'm sure I never told him. Anyway he looked like he felt a bit awkward about it. Probably gutted cos he couldn't come. I think he'd have been a good laugh cos he's dead normal when you talk to him. I told him we're always doing stuff and we'll have him over when we do one of our barbies in the summer. He sorta smiled when I said it, like he'd be up for it, you know. 

Oh yeah, that was the other thing. He said he was a bit of a hermit. I think he was joking cos he was sorta laughing when he said it. I said I thought hermits lived in the woods or in caves or something and he said they did, but the really clever ones lived in cities. Then he did that thing where you tap yer nose, you know, like this. I suppose he is a bit weird but not really, not when you're talking to him.

Anyway, God, that must've been three weeks ago. We haven't seen him since, have we Cheryl? Dave Robbins took delivery of some mail for him the other day. He said it was a big parcel. I wonder what it was? Dave said it was heavy. None of our business I suppose but I bet Dave had a sneaky look. I'll ask him tonight. Dave doesn't like him, reckons he's some kinda drug dealer or something. Said he's always going out the house in the morning and not coming back til late. He's right. I think he is a bit weird. Anyone can be normal when you talk to them, but that means sod all doesn't it? Could be up to all sorts. We'll bring it up at the next neighbourhood watch. We should keep an eye on him. 

by Derek Dohren

Illustration by Derek Dohren

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Proud Serpent

They snapped it like a pencil. But the glossy vermin still darted toward them. With ruptured vertebrae, it made a perfect “L” as it lurched its body upward and stood tall. A Trojan, readied for a blitzkrieg. He flouted the boys with silver, soldered orbs then stormed the sweltering beach, hissing and rattling, and twitching his forked tongue… with contempt and anticipation. It didn’t start this fight but sure as shit wasn’t going down without a spar. 

Even its dead trunk couldn’t deter the scorned snake – he was resting in the cool shade of a neighboring meadow when they spotted him – now he looks like Satan. And the boys, roused by dominion and fear, hurled more rocks at the frantic reptile. Big ones, flat ones, smooth ones, pebbles, fistfuls from the shore.

They closed in... 
Crippled and bloody, the snake jerked left. And they poked with whittled sticks. He jerked right to retreat – and they slipped the box atop their prey. 

“Look at that son of a bitch wriggle!” 

“Slimy fucker!” 

Panic and regret gave way to furor. The savages were burning! Punting the cardboard – back and forth, and back. As the desperate snake thrashed against its confines, the boys shrieked with delight. Nefarious cackles bounced across the lake, denim blue, riotous amidst the calm. 

In a final surge, the wounded captive burst free, charged the closest boy and struck his naked shin. 

Stillness. For an instant, the lawlessness ceased. Nothing dared to stir. Even the summer winds held their breath. 

But as quickly as it came, the flash of balance was blown to hell again. The lustful serpent jack-hammered the boy’s leg. And bit, and bit and bit. 

“Get ‘em!” 

With their finely pointed weapons, the predators pierced and stabbed and tore. 

And, though ravaged and listless, he held his sheen – heather and crimson – loud against the cream colored sand.

by Chad Broughman

Thursday, July 10, 2014


“Push, now!”
The midwife’s voice grated Cassie’s ears. She counted the white spotlights on the ceiling. There were too many, and they were dancing too wildly for her to keep up. She couldn’t count. She couldn’t push.
“Water,” she gasped, “I need water.”
“Not now, darling. Breathe!” said her husband, massaging her scaly hands. Through his fingertips, she felt him shake and tremble; and she felt how he tried not to. She gaped at his face, his strong black eyebrows in a heap, his lips tight and blue.
She sucked in air, but it failed to go beyond her throat. She bent forward and spouted vomit, over her husband’s gown, the white bed, and her own naked, swollen legs, lifted and bent, as if she were a frog.
The monitor beeped itself into a frenzy. Cassie tried to push again, but she didn’t have a body. Her eyes stared at the screen, at the straight blue line, at where the waves had settled.
“Push!” yelled the midwife.
“Push!” yelled her husband.
She pushed with her legs, and suddenly there was no effort. She was floating in the ocean, with baby dolphins jumping about her, green fluorescent light dancing on their skins as they dipped in and out of water.
She dived and drank, and gazed towards the beach, where her body lay with a whale stuck between her legs. The whale winked at her and she winked back. Then she turned and swam.
They slit her open like a fish and ventoused the baby out. Glistening and silent he slithered, to be revived by midwives on adrenalin, and by the stale breath rattling from between his father’s lips.
As doctors tended to her, Cassie twitched on the bed, gushing blood and water, singing a song to the whale.

by Walburga Appleseed

Monday, July 7, 2014

Devil in the Deadlines

This deadline is harassing me, saying
You’re never going to make it
And then I don’t
Good intentions moved out before I could
Left me with rent unpaid and the lights turned off
I look in my pocket instead of at the deadline
I have a dollar left

I could use it to buy Ramen noodles
As many as it will get me, it’s just that
For one moment I want to be those other people
Who always meet their deadlines
Who always have a dollar in their pocket

Angelic light calls from the snack machine
A demon’s voice whispers that I can be like them
If just for a moment, so I push the buttons they do
I take Persphone’s snack cake back to my lair
Consume the guilt from the plastic wrapper
Consign myself to more time in Hades’ presence
And look to the next deadline.

 by Margaret Hicks