Fiction

Photo by Caren Sturmer

The Class of Amontillado

by Michael Covino

The judge apparently was unaware that my contract with the university had been terminated. Killed. Something about me and a thirteen-year-old girl. Oh dear. The same age as Poe’s cousin, Virginia Clemm, when they married in 1835. Yes, I was a child and she was a child, etc. Only, you see, Poe wasn’t a child but a 26-year-old man. I pointed this out at my faculty trial. They didn’t want to hear it. “A different time,” they said. “Not that different,” I replied. “Poe lied about her age on their marriage certificate, claiming she was 25. Look it up.” “Oh? Really?” A pause. “Well, Poe was a genius. Ciao!

~~~

The Society

by Courtney DePottey

The Yellow Wallpaper was going to be her first mission. As a brand new agent, she would be jumping into the story and changing the course of the story line. In the case of The Yellow Wallpaper, she would be escaping from her husband before succumbing to the delusions that the protagonist had faced. Jumping could be dangerous, of course. If an agent couldn’t complete their mission, they could get trapped in a story until a fellow agent staged their rescue. True, agents in trouble could flee to designated safe houses, but they were only meant to be used as a last resort.

~~~

Tiny Demon

by Julie Green

A white clapboard church surrounded by fields of corn and soy sat in the outskirts of a small city in the South. The congregation of this church believed in God and the Devil, demons, angels and open carry. When they sang in their church, they let their voices ring out, righteousness lifting up into the rafters year after year, collecting like a dangerous gas. People in churches like this were invigorated by tussling with a little bit of evil. It was a good arrangement. Good for the people and good for the evil.

Hunting Polar Bears

by Charles Heinemann

While I leapt to my feet with my heart battering at my chest, the hot chocolate in my veins transformed itself into Drano. What I saw wasn’t merely a trick of the light, the gunk in my eyes, or the lingering ghost of a dream. The man was real, and he lay on his back watching me through half-closed eyes. His head was nearly bald, with only a few white strands clinging to the dry, mole-encrusted skin. Several days’ growth of white whiskers bristled from his hollow cheeks, and he held a thin sheet over himself with knotted fingers.

~~~

Twenty Acres of Taylor Swift

by Andrew Lloyd-Jones

The girl who gives me my parking ticket says, did you see her yet, even though I’ve just arrived. The man behind the barbecue pit says, did you see her yet? as he loads my plate with ribs and slaw. A carpenter in the farmyard, in the middle of building what looks like a bandstand from boards bleached white by the sun, actually stops hammering for second when I walk past with my kill and says, did you see her yet? as he wipes the sweat from his brow. I reply, not yet! to each one, and they all smile, and say, don’t miss her! And I say, I won’t! By which I mean, I guess I better not.

~~~

Goose Shoot

by Jennifer Lee

“I didn’t make the world,” Papa Joe said with the patience of a man who had addressed this question many times, “I just live in it, okay? The mask is an extension of the gun, and the gun is an extension of who we are. If I had my way, tomorrow there’d be ten thousand people running naked through Central Park, throwing rocks and sticks at the Canada Geese. By the end of the day there’d be one dead goose, maybe two, and the rest would have flown off to the Bronx. No one likes the way they taste, oily and tough, all the bitterness of flesh manifest, but still we do it every year. It’s a tradition.”

~~~

Damage Control

by LeeAnn Olivier

They say our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode when stressed, but I am all flight, a creature of air, Libra ascendant. Even my appearance is bird-like—small-boned, sharp-nosed, thick hair like a cap of starling-colored feathers. So I find myself at Dallas Love Field on a Friday in late October, the airport glittering purple and black, orange and green. Witches’ hats, pumpkin earrings, stuffed black cats, and Frankenstein-monster dolls spill out of the gift shops. I have a four-hour flight delay, so I buy a magazine called “World’s Scariest Places: Haunted, Creepy, Abandoned” and scroll through it while nursing a $12 glass of Prosecco.

~~~

The Truth about Josh Enloe

by Nick Straatmann

When Josh Enloe died, word travelled in that electric way unique to small towns, and for the next two weeks he came up in every conversation; Some waiter talking to an old-timer as he frowned over a plate of fried eggs: “You know, Josh Enloe used to always make such a fuss if we got the yolks too firm.” Some lady talking to the supervisor in the self-checkout line: “You know, Josh and Mary Enloe never had any kids, but I imagine if they did they’d look just like the boy on this detergent label. Can’t you just see it?

~~~

One Night on the Island

by James Ulmer

Karl was nearly overwhelmed by the piercing smell of damp mold; he glanced over at Nikki, but she seemed not to notice. The bartender, a pale young woman with long dark hair, thin hair, stared at them with her black eyes from behind the expanse of a marble-topped wooden bar with a tarnished brass foot-rail. Four patrons, backs turned, occupied the barstools, contemplating their drinks. They looked to Karl like buzzards hunched over roadkill. No one moved. A candle gleamed on each of six empty tables.

~~~

The Accident Victim

By Colby Vargas

We covered his head in bandages until only his face showed. We wrapped the fake cast on his forearm and looped it around his neck to form a sling. Carlo had big features and his joints were knots that pushed at his skin, so you could tell he still had lots of growing to do. Lottie kept tousling his hair and grabbing at his chin, like she was bringing him back to life with her touch. Her cheeks were still flushed a deep red. I wondered if heat was still pulsing off her body. I wondered how much a kid that age understood about what we had been up to.

~~~