Table of Contents Archive
The Adventures of Space Death, the Worst Band in the Galaxy by David White
"Hey, what's our situation?" Balstok, the lead vocalist, grumbled as he sat in front of a bunch of the ship's instruments, none of which he had the faintest understanding of.
Balstok looked more like a manager than what one would normally expect from a lead singer for an infamous rock act. He wore a cheap, galactic business suit, with various stains on a neo-artistic tie. He developed this somewhat unorthodox look while majoring in economics at the University of Fiscal Fidelity, located on the near spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. One night, while working out an equation for determining which combinations of plaids and pastels allowed for the maximum of phone numbers from females at the end of the night, he accidentally stumbled upon a theorem that would predict the effect of a large number of convenience stores on any planet's economy.
Losing by Jeremy C. Shipp
The world wanted Greg to be a child, so he stacked his liquor bottles into a pyramid, and through the glass he watched his wife approach, in all the different colors, but none of which could hide the pale of her face.
"Come to bed, Greg."
"You can't tell me what to do. You're not my mom."
She grabbed his arm and he pushed her away.
"Fine, Greg. Just fine. You want to stay here and rot away, you go ahead and rot."
Greg watched her leave through his portals of multi-colored dimensions. Even if he wanted to go after her, he wouldn't know which colored Jennys were real, and which were just illusions.
Bounty by Trent Jamieson
Night, and the birds were falling, again. Eagles and sparrows, doves and geese, starlings and crows, an avian rain. Pin could hear the dead creatures smacking onto rooftops. No one was outside tonight; a few people had died, brained in the previous evening's downpour. It was not as loud a rain this time, but after last night there could be few birds left, surely.
Pin trained his telescope on the craggy old moonhis eye pressed hard against the ocularthen the greater constellations. For all he knew they would be the next things to fall out of the sky.
Someone chuckled behind him.
Six To Go by J.E. Deegan
The moon hung at a quarter-crescent through the single, curtainless window. The window was opened, as it had to be.
It was time, again.
Toys by John Kilgore
My day is going okay this time, until I bump into Jimmy Abatzaglou. There's the usual fabulous weather, clean comfortable clothes on my back, no hunger or thirst, a busy crowd of Toys flowing past on either side. Their faces, once I get to noticing, are mainly Korean, soft and flat with that secret look to the eyes, but every once in a while there's an American tourist, a GI. Way back I was in the service-it's one of the things I'm clear about-and ended up in Seoul for eighteen months. A dull country, a lonely time, long duty hours and nothing to do otherwise. But the one thing I liked was going out on those incredibly crowded streets and just walking, with all those little people streaming by me. What got me was the way they would head straight at me and swerve aside at the last possible instant, without ever changing expression; or how they'd come up behind and press tight on either side, even give me a polite little shove, without meaning the slightest offense. It was all, I don't know, so cute somehow, like they'd made me a member of their club, but without ever really noticing me.
Fred by Jow Lindsay
I had a fling with Carla. I was with Carla for about seventy-six years. The problem was that scientists kept inventing new ways for us to be in love.
Carla once explained to me that exclusive sex was just often one of many ways of being in love. She told me that during our first big fight, when we had been together for about seventy-six hours.
The Perils of Artificial Passion by H. H. Morris
"I think. . . ." began Peewee.
Laughter drowned out the hollow voice. Kreuzer checked the digital readout: 9.4697. A response over 8.15 usually meant consideration for prime time on MMI.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Peewee said, "thank you for proving that robot jokes work."
Dr. Glenda Jacques, psychometrist to the stars for Multicultural Megamedia, Incorporated, said, "They had a brief run during the late 20th century. Why predict that they'll work a hundred years later?"
"We no longer pose a threat to labor," Peewee said. "We've turned everyone into management."
Just One Memory by Paul E. Martens
"Just one memory. That's all I'm asking." Janna spoke to the figure swathed in white. The technician, or doctor or whoever it was, continued to check the monitors as if Janna hadn't spoken.
"I understand you have a job to do. I know I could never fit in down here if I remembered everything about going out and back. So chop it out. Erase it. Take the last six years away from me. Just leave me something. A picture. A feeling. Maybe just the ghost of the girl I was, to drift through my thoughts sometimes and make me smile without knowing why."
The Dead Wife by Joel Best
I notice her at the opening of my one-woman show in Berlin, the exhibition that marks my acceptance as an important emerging voice in the art world. Five years I've labored towards this day, this show. I'm drunk on rare wine. One of Germany's most influential critics has publicly praised my work, causing a surge of 'sold' markers tagged to the paintings on the walls. Ingenues have been hovering around me like puppies, asking my advice on how to succeed as artists. "You think of paint as though it were oxygen," I've been telling them, and they've said yesyes sagely, pretending to understand. They're wannabes, all of them. You find their type haunting galleries with battered portfolios and attending openings such as this because they secretly believe fame is something that can be absorbed, like sunlight, like heat.
The dead wife stands at the wine table, sipping sherry, the same delicate smile curling her lips that I remember from the old man's estate.
Here. Now. My God.
If Women Do Fall They Lie by Kameron Hurley
They told me the vessel could dream. I told them that was no concern of mine because vessels are of the dirt and of the desert and live only to sweat and breed and die, and I am a teacher of men and androgynies and Kell progeny. I am a man of wisdom and reason and worth. Vessels are no longer my concern.
"But Kadru," they said, "she can dream."
Anything by J.E. Deegan
Sounds echoed down the hallway, from the other bedroom. Sharp, suffering, full-of-anguish sounds followed by soft, supplicating sounds. Terrifying yet familiar sounds her mother often made. Sounds Mitchy often made, too, most recently just a few minutes earlier when the man who had been living with them for the past four months had beaten her for reasons she no longer tried to understand.
He simply liked to.
The Shopping Mall Killer by John Broussard
Today was going to be a good one, he assured himself. The pressure had built up since the last time, three weeks ago. Tall, clean-shaven, a rather boyish face and an athletic, muscular build obscured by a loose fitting shirt and pants; these made for an unthreatening appearance. The sling for his left arm gave him the exact aura of helplessness, which almost always paid off. And the sling was a handy place to hide the straightedge razor. He had six of the burnished lengths of steel, always treated gently, carefully honed and oiled. His favorite with the carved ivory eagle head for a handle was the one he'd decided to use today. It had splendid memories attached to it, and he'd spent almost an hour stropping it before coming out to the mall. Just a touch with it would break the flesh.
The Newsmoth by John G. Bentley
Deep in the wildest, most forsaken suburbs was a lively little house, all pea green with purple squiggles. Its windows blinked briskly awake and its door yawned, and a long pink welcome mat rolled out. A little boy named Derek stepped out on the porch and flapped his arms and crowed "Cocka-doodle-do!"
Bleeding West by Tim Pratt
Kentucky Tom Granger stood in the dust-beaten main street of a town called Tolerance and faced the Spirit of the bleeding west. Wooden buildings lined the hardpacked street, discolored to gray uniformity by the sand-laden desert winds. Tom had crossed the Arizona border to reach the town, but Tolerance was not in Arizona, or any other state, either. Tolerance was simply in the west.
Miles Away by Paul E. Martens
It took such effort for him to be human. So many things, large and small, that Miles Parker had to remember. Things that came to others without thinking. Nothing came naturally to him. He had to follow the instructions, step by step. A to B. B to C. C to D.
He sat in a room, his body quivering with the struggle to stay in control, avoid mistakes. He had to breathe. People noticed if you didn't breathe.
In Briscoe County by Dennis Latham
"Mr. Jennings, there are brains on the passenger seat and window of your Lincoln," Detective William Roberts repeated again, after six hours under bright lights in what Sam Jennings had been told was a Kansas State Police interrogation room.
Sam massaged his right eyebrow. Thirty-five years ago, at age twenty, he had ended a pro boxing career with a nose punched flat and scar tissue around both eyes. The right eyebrow always tingled under stress.
"Where's the body, Mr. Jennings?"
Wishes by Pat York
Harry's Harbor Inn wasn't all that much, as bars go. But it had a vaguely nautical feel, lots of noisy, middle-aged customers, and a bartender who mixed strong Margaritas. Company and a couple of drinks; that was about all Elaine Bishop needed any more to take her mental state from a persistent, resigned misery to something approaching vague good humor.
She ordered her third after-school drink and began to think out loud. "Y'know, Mark, all this place needs is one of those piano bars to make it just about perfect."
The Works by Jeffrey Whitmore
Nathan Crane enjoyed a close shave. As with any of his pleasures, it was not a luxury; a legacy of blue-chip stocks provided him a tidy income.
Nathan traveled the world, but not as a sightseer. He roamed as a man misplaced, a man who wished to be elsewhere. He'd been shaved in such far-flung locales as Cairo, London, Asuncion, and Beijing. At home now in New York City and just a three-minute walk from his apartment he stood before a barber shop he'd never noticed before. Its entrance was at basement level, under the front steps of a residence hotel. A red-white-and-blue striped barber pole was barely visible from the sidewalk.
Papa Rat by Brian Plante
This story has been retired at the request of the author - September 2004.
Ygor's Dream by William Laughlin
They're all gone now. And despite the others' far more Gothic talents for resurrection, it is deliciously ironic that I alone have survived. Not completely "monstrous" enough to notice, yet, all too obviously not "normal," the villagers, with their pitchforks and hounds, torches and crosses, invariably passed me by on those apocalyptic nights to pursue the Creature-- leaving mad Old Ygor, as ever, to skulk away, as he'd done so many times before, a mute witness to the destruction hidden atop the Carpathian hillside. The ancient castle, the windmill, the laboratory, all reduced to wet soot and rubble within a few savage hours.
(Even we "monsters," at our most bloodthirsty, weren't able to wreak such havoc in so short a span, eh Master?).
Gray Soil by Robert Dunbar
They advanced and receded like the eternal tides, Turk and Cossack, Hun and Mongolian. Wave after wave, they starved and shivered and struggled with their crude weapons, until their blood soaked this ground between so many hungry empires. Sons dropped where fathers had fallen, where grandfathers had squirmed their last. Through generations, they burned and slaughtered across the frozen earth until the terrain became a bleak and twisted wasteland.
Yet things inhabited this landscape, things suited to it. Armies of rodents sometimes carpeted the low hills; hordes of crows could settle like oily smoke.
And other things scavenged here as well.
The Dog Boys by Tim Pratt
The next morning Michael saw them, on the side of the road halfway between his house and bus stop. The three wore shorts and t-shirts despite the autumn chill. One had blond hair cut raggedly in a short coxcomb, and pointy, foxlike features. His whole posture spoke of tension, and he seemed on the edge of manic movement. The other two were twins, with dark hair and equally dark eyes. All three crouched around something in the road, Michael drew hesitantly closer to see.
The boys prodded at the body of a long-eared hound, its belly smashed and caked with guts, the same dog Mr. Fraenkel had run down the day before. Michael's stomach did a slow somersault. Suddenly all three boys plunged their faces into the dog's corpse, like hyenas in a nature video.
The Dragon Pearl by Magee Gilks
I remember the day Yeshi brought the dragon pearl home.
I remember, not because I knew then what thing of wonder and power he carried in his hands, but because he came home empty-handed; home to our house with no food to lay upon the table. Again.
Shrieks by Dennis Latham
If the young man in a wrinkled black suit had waited another hour that summer morning, I would have probably missed his dive off the Park Office Tower outdoor patio. I've always avoided the noon business lunch crowd and the line at the deli just inside the double doors leading to the fifteenth floor patio. I didn't fit the suit and tie crowd. I wore jeans at work and kept to myself. After a nasty divorce last year, my social self-confidence had taken a beating.
But at eleven o'clock, I was smoking at a shaded umbrella table with the only other person on the patio, the gorgeous Jenna Sparks, an advertising firm secretary, who had a lover named Mary.
The Extinction of Ursus Theodorus by Ted Kosmatka
From behind chromed bars I watch her enter the lab. She is so beautiful to me. Tall, fair skinned, and bipedal, she is everything that I am not, but still she loves me.
Unnatural Aptitude by John Kirkpatrick
The world was a blur of rooftops, a slow-motion rush of fire escapes and hard brick angles. In his ears, the rasping of his breath competed with his heartbeat for the only sound. It had become the pursuit. Keeping the death-grip on his sidearm, he hurtled another low wall, straining himself into the thick, late-night darkness. And of course it was starting to rain.
King of the Sacred Lagoon by Gene Stewart
Lassiter leaned on the scarred rail and looked out at the sea. Tall and strong, he wore a white linen suit and a Panama hat somewhat battered by the weather it had faced the past few months. When he was joined by Compton, shorter and darker in a more formal suit of clothes with no hat, Lassiter asked, "How many more days of this?"
The Witch and Her Children by Margaret Dockry
Through the chill October mist, they are coming up my lane - I sense it. I shall stand, as I always do, in my shadowed vestibule to watch them walk by. Are they aware that I observe them? Who can say? They are careful not to stare rudely into the windows of this solitary man. Politeness, perhaps; however, Consuelo is a witch. She must take heed where her glances fall.
At the third stroke, it will be... forever. by Malcom Twigg
"And not before time!" Great-great-grandad Moses shuffled back to his slab, myopically holding up an official-looking form to his eyeless sockets.
"What's that, then?" mumbled a head, inching itself along the dusty floor.
Into Holy Hands by Gay Partington Terry
Let us begin with the hands, for they are what first engaged me. The skin was aging, wrinkled, loose. The veins protruded, like wire casing, some of them blue-green on yellowish-gray skin. The palms were delicate. The fingers long and thin. The nails, soft enough to have been peeled short, were almost imperceptible, the cuticle chewed off leaving amber rings. The wrist bone protruded dangerously from dry, flaking skin. On the inside of the wrists, scars, a last attempt at control over destiny. Perhaps I should have recognized the coarse athetosis suggested in their movements, a symptom of their consumptive heresies, but I was spellbound. The otherworldliness of those hands fascinated and bewitched me.
Rhapsody in Wood by Joe Murphy
Rhapsody moans with a hundred voices as Charles carves the date into her heel. Ten years, ten years to the day. The Santa Ana winds slip beneath her reed fingernails, whirling through the grooves in her joints. The hot wind, filled with the stink of L.A., penetrates pinprick irises and parted lips, becoming a moan that careens into a warble as air resonates through a hundred carefully sized internal chambers. Charles sets the thin-bladed knife with the ebony handle aside. He touches the lustrous cherry wood of her cheek.
The Psychic Magic Show by Melanie Tem
He awoke, and his dream was gone. He'd been tricked again.
A Predatory Nature by Randy D. Ashburn
Thomas Alexander wakes up dazed, held hostage by a psychologist and a criminal. The surprises come fast in this suspenseful tale of displaced identities by Randy D. Ashburn.
Pasta Reale by Vince Cusumano
The assassin Artie Renna travels to Sicily to reclaim his family home, where he finds that the lines of loyalty transcend not only the ties of blood, but also the boundaries of death. This is a chilling tale of mystery, horror, and great beauty from a newcomer in the field.
Inertial Rangers by Steven M. Schmidt
The mysterious appearance of a severed hand in Link and Skyler's apartment is weird enough. Weirder still is the discovery that it is an exact replica of Link's own hand. The revelations that unfold, in this story by Steven M. Schmidt, take the reader on a journey of personal chaos through the emotions of loss and to the boundaries of Quantum physics.
Jumpers by Dennis Latham
Dennis Latham presents a chilling story that blurs the line between which is more dangerous to take the final leap, or one fateful step Outside.
Payday by Bryce Stevens
"It was Thursday so Fritch had every reason to feel scared...." It's payday in this tale by Bryce Stevens, which shreds the veil separating ordinary crime from the unimaginable in the shadows beyond good and evil.
Issue 2 - October 1998
March 11 1936, 5:30 AM by A.L. Sirois
A.L. Sirois opens a window into the darkness of a man's heart in this quiet tale of a morning stroll, under damp evergreens, and an otherworldly encounter outside the world that we know.
At Helsonor's Grave by Joe Murphy
Three men remember the lover they had in common, at her graveside. This is a spooky, and sometimes funny, tale about the hold a dead woman has over her past.
Three Pounds of Garlic in a Dead Man's Hand by John B. Rosenman
Returning home after a weekend of fishing, J.C. narrowly avoids a family relaxing in the right hand lane of Route 29. A "warp" has scrambled the reality matrix, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Issue 1 - April 1998
Dead Air by Jonathan Bond and Jak Koke
Jonathan Bond and Jak Koke explore the exhilarating world of a future death sport, where players maddened on FIM scream along the very edge of suicide in a game of love, loss, and revenge. The short story served as inspiration for Jak to write a novel by the same name, later published by FASA as part of its Shadowrun series.
As Bad As It Gets by Al Sirois
A.L. Sirois reveals a vividly dark future city where crime and law enforcement grapple in a deadly embrace, blurring the distinctions between right and wrong. Boz Parker and Stephani Johnson, sharp-edged characters on either side of the law, peel the truth between them like the layers of an onion.
Morphosis by Jak Koke
Jak Koke, author of numerous novels and short stories including Beyond the Pale and Stranger Souls, serves up a sizzling bar scene gone meta. In an elusive world of smoke, dim lights, and crystalline rain, lovers find and take each other while losing themselves. This jazzy riff plays in your soul long after you finish reading the story. It was originally published in the Buried Treasures limited edition anthology in 1996.