Issue 125Short Fiction

The Rat

My mother looked nothing like this woman, but my mind is pulled back into the undertow of her anyway. I see her in the days before she died, her shrunken frame nearly swallowed by white bedding and overstuffed pillows. She sits up as if she’s just remembered something. “Pass me my lipstick,” she says. Cherries in the Snow. Even without a mirror, her hands are steady and she draws on the red pout, smooth and sure. She blots her lips together and says, “That’s better.” Says, “Take a photo to remember me by.”

Issue 125Short Fiction

Wake Up, I Miss You

The beetle-eyed man yanks me up a spiral staircase. The stairs wind up and up, getting narrower and narrower like a spindle until they’re as narrow as our feet.
The railing splinters. Rotting steps drop away under us.
We jump over the broken railing, paddling through empty air until we crash onto a huge, floating platform that’s part of a library. It shakes with the impact. Bookcases knock each other down like dominoes.
“The Queen is coming,” says a voice above me.

Issue 125Short Fiction

Candyland

When Tara awoke Thursday morning, her pillow had turned to marshmallow, gooey from the warmth of her head and the sunshine blazing through the window. Fruit rollup blankets slicked her legs with psychedelic slime. The mattress, now a soft-baked blondie with white chocolate chips, was permanently indented by her ass.

Issue 125Nonfiction

Flesh Eggs

Cruising through western Michigan toward the lake for a family outing, under flawless spring skies and passing the odd barn or silo, a sign catches my eye, half-obscured by a huge lilac bush: Flesh Eggs.

Issue 125Short Fiction

The Ever-Dreaming Verdict of Plagues

Crista nodded calmly but Red Day shrieked inside her, eager to enact its justice on this self-admitted killer. As Red Day’s anger exploded, the AI seized control of Crista’s right hand and grabbed one of her knives. With a shout of no, Crista ran up the stairs. After bolting the cellar door shut she stumbled to the porch and vomited.