The Only Reason We Were Drinking Mellow Yellow in the First Place Was Because it Was Only 49 Cents | by David S. Atkinson

And it was the morning after a big party but we hadn’t come down completely yet, much less gone to sleep, so Doug and me and a couple girls went to hang out on the abandoned highway bridges. We were going to go to the Amoco for sodas but weren’t coherent enough to talk to sober people yet, so we were just up there. I saw these big piles of dirt mixed with gravel and called out to Doug that we should dig for dead bodies.

He ran over all excited, waving that weird black umbrella cane he always carried whether it was going to rain or not, something about the Penguin from the comics, but then he sagged all disappointed. Said he thought I told him I found one and he was almost kid-happy to see it. Continue reading “The Only Reason We Were Drinking Mellow Yellow in the First Place Was Because it Was Only 49 Cents | by David S. Atkinson”

Open Palm of Night | by Brendan Adams

My dad’s name is John Josephs Jr. and he’s a ghost, and what he misses most about being human is: SUPERFOOD SMOOTHIES.

On his plane of existence, they taste like cigarettes and feel like razorblades going down.

I know this, because Father still speaks to me, even after death. I mean really talks, which is the way it always was, and the way it seems its always going to stay.

His voice in my head, blabbing about outsourcing production and quality inspections and liability risk and my failures as a daughter. It’s torture.

‘Torture you deserve,’ is what he says.

Debatable, really. If he hadn’t been such a dick father, maybe things might have turned out better. No response to that one.

All he can talk about is how pissed off he is to be dead, trapped with all the other Astral Bodies I’m carrying around in my head. Like I can do something about it, like I’m something more than a vessel – a Life Raft stuck in the Not Quite Afterlife. Continue reading “Open Palm of Night | by Brendan Adams”

The Medium’s Daughter | by Jan Stinchcomb

     They call your mother a witch, a prostitute, a con artist. The kids at school have a lot of questions for you. At recess there is no shortage of palms to read and even the teachers think you have something valuable to tell them. Your sister, skinny and dark-eyed like you, is your only friend. Those years when she moves ahead to another campus without you are torture.

     You don’t like lying to people or stealing their money, but that doesn’t stop the steady stream of spirits from entering your life. Dead siblings and lost pets flock to you. You are at your most vulnerable whenever intimacy is possible. A cold breeze blows up your skirt at a family barbecue. A ghost boy, his tux bloody, begs for a dance at the prom. A cat slides its claws through that liminal space where she can’t scratch but can still make you cry with her silent meow.

     Your sister laughs when you say you just want to be normal. What do you mean?, she asks. Would you like to shake off unbidden spirits or would you rather evade Child Protective Services? The questions pile up over the years. Can you have an affair with someone from beyond the grave? Can a ghost be prosecuted? Is there a statute of limitations on emotional manipulation?
Continue reading “The Medium’s Daughter | by Jan Stinchcomb”

They all dance under the full moon | by Joyce Chng

They all dance under the full moon.

All of them, the freaks, the mutants, the outcasts, the exiles, all dancing under the bright circle of light. With limbs, without limbs, with wings, without wings, furred, unfurred, skins of different colors, even skinless, cilia and feelers, claws and hands.

Their music is from the moon – they feel her on them, they hear her, they taste her. They dance to her tunes – each to xe interpretation. It is a quiet dance, like interpretative dance. There is a strange beauty to it, these people with their flaws, under the satellite that is not a real moon. Continue reading “They all dance under the full moon | by Joyce Chng”

The Lost City of What | by Joe Milazzo

The sides of the volcano poured themselves upon us.

The sky, every shade of tumescence. It began with our looking at pictures, one thrown up after the other but in no discernible sequence, with no lucidity. Everything slid like the dusty melt of August (if only we had known that incalescence thus then) streets, our fair traffic overcome. Flanks of pumice, ash, great fissured slurries of acacia and other, even more ravishing names. Because their heads were covered, the women were the first to feel the rain, spotting, arrow-tipped.

 

In the augury of one picture, a serpent wound about itself yet stretched as long still as a century. Continue reading “The Lost City of What | by Joe Milazzo”

The Bone Queen | by Donna Greenwood

Dust and rot fill her mouth as she eats.  The food is cloying.  It does not sit well.  She is mostly alone but for the sycophantic phantasma who surround her, constantly back-combing her nerves.  

In her palace of filthy black, her bony fingers strain the muck, searching for someone who will not cower when she smiles.  Her hands bring back nothing but detritus and her heart remains parched and un-whole.

“It has to be a prince,” she tells the fades as they clown and cartwheel around her. Continue reading “The Bone Queen | by Donna Greenwood”

Half a heart on a smoked glass | by Philip Berry

When we were 11 I held a fragment of smoked glass up to the eclipsed Sun. The moon moved, and the sun’s bright edge was revealed.

Light burned through a scratch in the sooty film and coagulated my retina. I didn’t look away immediately because I thought the glare was normal, what we were meant to see.

I was fascinated by the shape, the curve, the intensity. The pain came later. I didn’t tell my parents at first, because we had been told not to look. On no account should you look. But a group of us, an informal gang of boys and girls, snuck out to a crop field.

Then my eye swelled.
Continue reading “Half a heart on a smoked glass | by Philip Berry”