1
CONSTANCE’S MASK

CONSTANCE’S MASK

Constance hefted the axe and commanded Oscar to bow and extend his neck.

2
CALL ME TOM

CALL ME TOM

Dominic tried a neighborly smile. “Mr. Strudwick?”

3
AUTUMN’S NIGHT

AUTUMN’S NIGHT

The sparrow landed on the window ledge at 5:36 pm.

4
THE READING TEACHER

THE READING TEACHER

“What we’re looking for,” said Moira O’Donnell Royce, “is a natural storyteller.”

5
COFFEE IN THE AFTERNOON

COFFEE IN THE AFTERNOON

The blonde woman in the far corner of the café was not the reason he was here

6
PLAYING AGAINST THE ODDS

PLAYING AGAINST THE ODDS

“It’s my last day tomorrow,” Lalita says, playing with the free end of her sari.

7
MERCY

MERCY

They all deserved to die. They were cruel, ruthless, driven by greed...

8
MARGARET

MARGARET

There were advantages to being cremated.

9
FOR SHE’S A JOLLY GOODFELLOW

FOR SHE’S A JOLLY GOODFELLOW

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

1

CONSTANCE’S MASK

by Nick T. Chan

Constance hefted the axe and commanded Oscar to bow and extend his neck.

“Of course, my lady,” the golem said and obeyed. The wooden golem’s bronze joints squeaked as he bent at the waist.

“I wish to decapitate you, Oscar.”

3

CALL ME TOM

by Heather Boyd

The doorbell went bing-bong through the house when Dominic stabbed it with an index finger. He tried to peer around the shade drawn over the window of the front door, palm cupped over his eyes. He listened, stabbed the bell again, and waited, eyeing a pair of metallic “No Soliciting” signs on either side of the door.

The floorboards creaked, and a knobbly hand clawed the bottom of the shade. The spindle whirled, the shade snapped, and Mr. Strudwick squinted through the glass.

3

AUTUMN’S NIGHT

by l. a. James

The sparrow landed on the window ledge at 5:36 pm.

Cecil knew this because lying in bed, too weak to move, he had little to do but watch the ornate wall clock tick away the last minutes of his life.

0

THE READING TEACHER

by Nick Wolven

“What we’re looking for,” said Moira O’Donnell Royce, “is a natural storyteller.”

She was sitting at a folding table in the basement of Teachers College, and Frank Striggio was sitting across from her, wearing a friend’s dress shoes and holding the seat of his chair. He needed this job like a crab needs a shell.

0

COFFEE IN THE AFTERNOON

by Christopher Chinchilla

The blonde woman in the far corner of the café was not the reason he was here, but he wished she were. Her white button-up shirt was open wide at the collar and golden hair fell over her shoulders as she leaned forward, reading the books sprawled open on her table, holding a coffee in one hand and a pen in the other. A blonde curl dangled over her green eyes as she read. Johnny wished she was the reason he was here.

He hadn’t realized he’d been watching her, his thumb and fingers drumming absently on the café table at which he sat holding a mug of coffee.

1

PLAYING AGAINST THE ODDS

by Dolly Garland

“Do we really need to go through this?”

Lalita places her tea cup back with more force than she’d intended. “Yes, we do. You’ve avoided talking about this for years, Prem. I graduate tomorrow. I want to know what you feel.”

“I’m twenty years older than you.”

1

MERCY

by R. C. Capasso

Yet they fought death to the last, raining shells upon their attackers, setting the stores on fire, slicing at limbs with swords and scimitars, curved blades from the islands, rope or wire for a garrote. Blood everywhere. Screams, confusion, and the acrid smell of smoke.

1

MARGARET

by Max Detrano

There were advantages to being cremated. Lord knows the dead have enough time to think. An obvious advantage was being portable. An urn is easily moved about from house to house. Taken along when a relative moves. Less convenient, the dead wife buried under the apple tree.

0

FOR SHE’S A JOLLY GOODFELLOW

by Elizabeth Hopkinson

Lord, what fools these mortals be! They can’t even get a simple story straight.


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