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The Ruler of the Army

Issue 44 by André Fleuette

I woke in darkness and cold and listened to the keening of the wind as it tore at the walls of the staging building where we had taken shelter. It became known as Walaka. The Storm. The phrase, that word “storm” is inadequate.

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Dreams

Issue 44 by Tina Klimas

Everything about this day has felt different from the beginning. It all started when her mother made bacon and eggs for breakfast. They usually only have bacon on Sundays.

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Mr. Williams

Issue 43 by Ron Schafrick

When I was sixteen, I took organ lessons from a dour, quick-tempered, talented British man named Mr. Williams. No one else I’ve known, either before or since, was as self-sacrificing for his instrument. Nor as old-fashioned. In the nine or so months I was his student, I never saw him dressed in anything other than a three-piece suit that had long gone out of style, a tie with what appeared to be a school crest on it, and horn-rimmed glasses dating back to the Kennedy administration. A gold cross was invariably pinned to his lapel. He was the only man I knew who still used Brylcreem in his hair, so much so that it looked like a solid, shiny mass. Not that he was an especially old man. Rather, he seemed ageless somehow, as if caught outside of time, belonging neither to the present nor to some earlier era.

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Snakebit

Issue 43 by Francois Bereaud

As Zach flew over the handlebars of his mountain bike, his body a rigid missile parallel to the ground, he figured it’d be bad. He’d been going pretty fast. On the good luck side, nothing too serious broke save a couple of ribs – those hurt like a mother, though. On the bad luck side, he landed next to a rattler who promptly bit him in the shin. He hollered to holy hell, rousting a couple of homeless guys who had been squatting peacefully not ten yards from the trail. A small but vigorous debate ensued.

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The Writer

Issue 43 by Kacie Faith Kress

Once upon a time, I met a girl.
Now, you’re probably thinking two things. One: Jacob, for God’s sake, you’re a writer. You’re really going to begin the story with ‘once upon a time’? What is this, a Grimm fairytale? And two: a long, extended groan followed by, another story about a boy and a girl?
But it’s not like you think.
She’s not like you think.
I want to start from the beginning, but right now she’s next to me, and I’m reminded of why I haven’t been able to write a single thing for the last six months.

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The Hunchback of the Flatiron

Issue 42 by Tracy Daugherty

It didn’t look like a New York kitchen. It reminded Bern of a Cold War California ranch house, a long, slender space showcasing massive appliances (an old electric Kenmore sheathed in bacon grease), linoleum tile floor and Formica countertops, blind storage corners and a sink cabinet as big as a washtub. Tentatively, he tested the stiff buttons on the soap-encrusted old dishwasher.
Just a week ago, he’d rented this small apartment on Perry Street. The bulky kitchen overwhelmed the rest of the place (actually, a single open area partitioned by bamboo screens); poorly ventilated, it disseminated years of liver and onions, garlic, and black-eyed peas throughout the apartment; and the too-big window above the kitchen sink overlooked a grimy brick wall next door.

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Another Kind of Kindness

Issue 42 by Neil Randall

It was no secret that I hadn’t seen or spoken to my father for many years prior to his passing. A fact which fascinated a great number of people – literary aficionados, academics, biographers and journalists. You don’t achieve that level of professional success without your personal life coming under intense scrutiny. In that respect, I cannot even begin to recount the number of interviews I have declined over the last decade. But my desire to tell my story now has nothing to do with appeasement, or of trying to set the record straight. Nor will it be sensationalised nonsense penned purely for financial gain. I want to write about my father to try and understand our complex relationship and work out exactly how I feel about him today.

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After Skinny

Issue 42 by Maya Furukawa

The phone was vibrating, short spurts of three vibrations at a time accompanying Simple Plan’s “I Won’t Be There.” Kira reached blindly for her phone, face still pressed into her pillow, and succeeded only in knocking it off of her desk.
“Shit.” Kira groaned, lifting herself up from the bed just enough to feel around on the ground. Her fingers finally wrapped around the phone and she collapsed back onto bed, swiping right to answer the phone. “Hello.” Her voice came out scratchy, so she cleared her throat and repeated her “Hello” in the same monotone.
“Honey, you have to get up,” her mom chirped. “It’s after ten. If you were public schooled, you’d be three hours late already.”

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Peach Baskets

Issue 41 by Larry Sherman Rogers

One morning, when I was unhappy with my old man, a U.S. Army drill instructor, who often brought his instructional (bullying) tactics home, I followed a little path through morning dew to a tin-can town where a bale of terrapins idled in sunlight beside a brook that did not babble. I liked it there and decided to stay forever, but later that day I was found by a search party led by the drill sergeant himself. The local paper called it a rescue but the leader of that search party and I knew better.

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Star-Crossed

Issue 41 by Carolyn Flynn

That night after the opera in Barcelona, I think that was when. I suppose I’ll never really know. I was there with Rob, our last night before he went to Paris on the train. Walking out of the opera at the Liceu, my heart was bursting, too wild and too big for the crowded streets pouring into La Rambla. I still ached with Aida’s torn loyalty. The voice of the enslaved Nubian princess trembled near the back of my throat. I still wanted to understand why people fall in love and lose all reason.

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The Deceitful Doves

Issue 41 by Peter Prizel

The quintessential immigrant during the late 1800s and early 1900s usually tried to assimilate into American culture to a degree. If they did not, they were often destitute, which almost certainly led to their children’s assimilating. Harry Houdini was one of these children. Born in Budapest, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of a rabbi, Harry moved far away from his father’s rabbinical world of thought. Houdini was much happier hopping trains from metropolis to metropolis, performing his magic tricks rather than pursuing his studies and taking an interest in ancestral traditions

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Dream of the Shadows Darkly

Issue 40 by Lysabella Barrett

In the nighttime when most things are sleeping, the Fae murk about freely. Masking their true visage with glamour spells, humans often see them as fireflies, glittering and twinkling in shadowy areas at dusk. In the daytime they pretend to be hummingbirds, chipmunks, or dragonflies. It is through this deception they spy and when night falls, they steal away with your most fanciful dreams, your lover’s breath, and sleeping babies. You should never seek them out, call on them, or make any deals with them whatsoever.

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War Heroes

Issue 40 by Nick Gallup

Mamma owned a small grocery store on the corner of Keller and Howard. Howard was the main street and paved with asphalt. Kellar was just a side street and paved with crushed oyster shells. The smell lasted for about a year, gradually fading away. Or maybe we’d just grown used to it.

Kellar was all white folks until the railroad tracks; then it was all blacks until Division Street. After Division Street, it became white again. Division Street was aptly named.

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Doors

Issue 40 by Chapin Cimino

The door was locked. Or rather, Amelia’s key no longer worked. He must have changed the locks on her. It was dark and the porch light, though on, was dim. She could barely see. Yet it was clear that her key—the same one she’d always used—was powerless.
“Charles?” she called, stepping back down the front steps, so she could see up to the second story where dim light was visible in the otherwise dark old house. It was his room. Outside on this March night in Rocky Mountain, Colorado, Amelia was cold and starting to get impatient.

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Acqua Alta

Issue 39 by Sara Baker

Dear Suzanne,

How delighted I am, after all these years, to have reconnected. Thanks to you, that is. I—Luddite that I am—have only been vaguely aware of social media, consigning it, until now, to that circle of hell designated for all the mindless chatter that masquerades as communication these days.

The world has changed much since our happy days in Cambridge.

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Lookout Mountain

Issue 39 by M. F. Robinson

It was the third Sunday in September in the year of our lord eighteen hundred and sixty-three when Private Ephraim Prometheus Boone lost his left foot. His body had been found in the dim evening lying on the battlefield beside an injured dirt-coated bullmastiff that his company had named Abe and a wounded Confederate who was called Asher, and they each grunted and whimpered in the back of an ambulance wagon rolling twelve miles over dirt and gravel in the dark. The wagon parked outside the First Presbyterian Church made of brick where the wounded were carried inside to the pews serving as hospital cots for a haunted congregation exceeding one hundred men chanting and moaning demented hymns written by the Underworld.

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Shibboleth

Issue 39 by Mekiya Walters

I’d been hard at work eliminating redundancies in the latest antidepressant survey when my phone started buzzing, Zoë’s name on the screen. Laptop and binders all across the kitchen table, dirty dishes piling up, half-drunk bottle of cab on the counter, even though I don’t drink, not while I’m working, not usually. But this week wasn’t usually. The disappearances had me on edge, for one thing—at first just background noise, but then I heard a name on the radio, someone I used to know in grad school, and it had started seeming very real and very wrong.

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