Novel Excerpts

The Twelve-Year Chaqwa: A Time of Suffering and Chaos

Sandro F. Piedrahita

Like the original mother Mary, Mariá Elena Moyano – known affectionately as la negra by the masses – was considered a mother not just to her own two sons, whom she adored, but also to the thousands of children of Villa El Salvador, the largest shantytown in Lima. She had run hundreds of communal kitchens and the extensive Glass of Milk program since her days as president of the Women’s Federation of Villa El Salvador. By February of 1992, by which time she was vice-mayor of the town of three hundred thousand people, the program delivered a glass of milk each day to sixty thousand children and elderly who would otherwise succumb to malnutrition.

The Twelve-Year Chaqwa: A Time of Suffering and Chaos

Sandro F. Piedrahita

In France, I met Irving Rivera, a Puerto Rican born in New York City, about twenty years older than me. He lived on the same floor as I did in the Maison Américaine at the Cité Universitaire in Paris. I saw him often, since there was a cafeteria in the basement of the dorm room, where both he and I often ate. We gravitated toward a group of Spanish-speaking friends, some Latin American but mostly Spaniards, who also lived at the huge American dormitory. I would also regularly see Irving on a table in the plaza behind the Maison Américaine, with a sign saying, “Independence for Puerto Rico Now!” He requested donations, ostensibly to help rid Puerto Rico of its American colonial masters.

Her Eyes Reflected Oceans

Kathleen Zamora

At times it seems that just when life seems to be going your way, every little thing you could possibly imagine goes wrong. Everything you take for granted comes into view. The simple mornings, the perfect nights, the sleepy smiles, the warm dinners, the last hug you gave someone, the last words you said to another becomes permanent, fossilized in their memory, trapped in the coffin we call a body.

The Twelve-Year Chaqwa: A Time of Suffering and Chaos

Sandro F. Piedrahita

When Rómulo and Julissa met at the Salsodromo, not knowing that was the moment when the past and the future were forever riven asunder, they both blatantly lied to each other, knowing there was nothing else to do. Each of them had an inadmissible secret. Rómulo could not tell Julissa he was a lieutenant in the Peruvian military. The Shining Path had “a thousand eyes and ears,” and if he disclosed he was a soldier, his life would be in mortal danger.

Old Boyfriend

Madeleine Belden

Chase Richard Pitt–my first love–came back into my life at 3:57 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in October. Well, technically he walked into Paris Café, my modest thrift-store-decorated establishment, asking if he could get a bottle of water and a slice of quiche to go. I know the exact time because I close my café every day at four, and I was just heading toward the door.

On the Rocks

Ruth Hawley

I decide to get out of the house while I can.
Before I can consciously articulate my heading, I’ve arrived at the beach by the lighthouse. Here, in the imprints of ebbing tides, is where I like to treasure hunt. Caws of herring gulls reverberate off grayscale skies as I begin my search.
It doesn’t take long for me to lose the sense of time passing. Minutes or hours later, I’m surprised to see another hand reach for the same piece of sea glass I’ve spotted, cobalt poking out between shards of tumbled rock. A jolt runs through me when our fingers touch.

The Last Writer

Julia Otto

Eliot King, a senior high school athlete, is stuck picking up the pieces his sister left behind after her arrest and execution. In the year 2052, the New American Government (N.A.G) has forbidden practicing Dark Artists by penalty of rehabilitation, or in most cases, death. Two years after his sister’s death, Eliot discovers three illegal Artifacts, actual Writer’s notebooks, hidden in his sister’s old desk. “Nobody”, the mysterious Writer speaking through these pages, poses the question–who is the real author of this hidden work?

Run to Finish

Eric D. Johnson

Frederick Douglass High School was a few blocks from Fairmount Park’s Strawberry Mansion, the estate that gave the area its quaint sounding name. The neighborhood had once been home to legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, artist Henry O. Tanner, and Three Stooges alum Larry Fine. There was a time when fans could view Athletics and Phillies baseball games from the rooftops of row houses that ran adjacent to Shibe Park or Connie Mack stadium.

The Vanishing Point

Zach Wyner

Evan Reverie removes his Guiding Light™ earbud. It slips through his fingers and hits the cement floor with a crack. His stomach plummets. Despite having had it for a few years now, he still has a long way to go before it’s paid off.
He reaches down in the dark, his fingertips searching the cold cement until he feels the smooth, plastic-coated lithium bubble up from the floor. He caresses it, inspecting its surface, finds it intact and sighs in relief.

Dancing with Lightning: Chapter 22

Ran Diego Russell

After Dave had ghosted Big Al’s throughout the five-day Seattle trip, Tino’s heavily garnished cover story of food poisoning from a frisée and radish salad with hazelnut dressing at his grandmother’s funeral was ignored, and he was promptly fired Monday morning.

Aegolius Creek

Micah L. Thorp

Everything begins and ends in fire. That’s what Mrs. Green told me when I was eleven in her youth Bible study at the Aegolius Creek Community Church. God created the heavens and the earth from a great ball of flame. Which doesn’t seem much different than the Big Bang Theory, though Mrs. Green said it was blasphemous to suggest something other than God was responsible for creation.

Blue Park Lane

Jane McNulty

Maybe everyone is just being nice because it’s my birthday, but I didn’t think it’d be possible for us to get to this point again.
“Goodnight. Don’t forget to unplug the lights,” my dad says, closing the gate of the fence.
“Okay, I just want to lie here for a minute,” I say, flopping back on the couch.

Dancing with Lightning: Chapter 9

Ran Diego Russell

Mountains of cumulonimbus assembled in the high altitudes west of the city and scudded overhead as patiently as continental drift throughout the morning. The towering white masses augured heavy convection storms for Denver but ultimately held off losing their power till reaching the eastern plains. Once there, sixty miles off in the afternoon distance, the clouds were illuminated from within by constant electrical activity.


Wesley Kapp

I couldn’t sleep that night. I waited for the police to call or show up on our front porch, but they never did. I thought about calling Cecelia’s house, but I didn’t want them to connect me to her, which didn’t make any real sense because everyone knew we were best friends. I’d be one of the first people they’d come to. I watched the sunrise through my window and gave up trying to sleep.


Carol Jeffers

By the end of the third day, the house, so quiet, too quiet, understood it had been abandoned. Four more flies, proboscises quivering, investigated the garbage pail. Molly no longer controlled the kitchen, would not be wielding the swatter, and without a care in the world, the creatures flitted among the odiferous scraps. They would settle later, raise a family or two, and replace the human family now departed.

Dancing With Lightning: Chapter 3

Ran Diego Russell

The year men first set foot on the moon, the Copersmith family had not depended on field work alone to fill their stomachs and gas tanks for two summers running. The San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, the furrowed plains of eastern Oregon, Washington’s orchards telescoping their columned bounty in every direction—all that had provided work enough for the four, and later the five, of them to subsist on was abandoned overnight.

The British Way of Dying

Trevor Mitchell

Friday afternoon. Although the wind was whipping viciously up Baldwin Street, the sky was an agreeable shade of blue, the colour of infinity, and as I walked home from work, I sensed the subtle change of mood in the city. For forty-eight hours everyone could forget about their crummy jobs and dull, shitty lives. The quotidian nightmare was about to go on hold.

Dead Weight

Linda Boroff

Robinette Alcorn slept poorly at fourteen; her body did not seem designed for comfortable repose. When she lay on her side, her bony hips grew sore. The back of her head grew numb when she lay supine. Phantom itches sprang up on the backs of her thighs, the soles of her feet. She sweated or froze. Come morning, she left for school puffy and sullen, red creases in her face, her hair awry. Weekends, she slept until noon, waking ferocious and unrested.

Autobiography of the Bomb: Teller in His Own Mind

Jim Shankman

The magazines and newspapers were saying all kinds of provocative, beguiling things about the man. He was Prometheus who stole fire from the gods for the benefit of mankind. He was Aladdin who let the genie out of the bottle. To the naysayers, he was the Dr. Jekyll whose potion transformed us all into Mr. Hyde. The guy had press like nobody has ever had press. He was a warrior saint, a holy knight of the realm.

Dancing With Lightning: Chapter 1

Ran Diego Russell

Banged up but still breathing, the exhausted vagabond kept his eyes jammed shut. Whatever twisted coordinates his loose feet had landed him on this time, he wasn’t ready to face. The excuse for a mattress he lay on had corrugated his back muscles into a wreck of knots. The air in the room was musty and unseasonably warm. He could feel the claustrophobic lean of all four walls without looking. As usual, well shy of paradise.

The Page of Fiction

Alexander Verdoni

At least working at the Middle Rapids Library ain’t so bad. It’s one of those fancy Carnegie libraries with brass chandeliers and porcelain tile work and stained-glass windows — all misplaced decadence for this rust-belt town. It’s pretty much a gothic castle complete with ghosts, labyrinthine hallways, black walnut paneled doors, dusty portraits of old, rich dead men no one wants to look at, and, most mysteriously of all, a turret housing the town’s large, defunct clock.

Death & Love

Scott Lambridis

I was ten. My mother was in bed, rags over her head, buried among blankets. She’d been sweating for days, could barely turn her head without vomiting. I cleaned the ceramic dish we used as a bedpan. It wasn’t just her; everyone was sick.
Ten years ago, we’d relocated. I was just an infant. Neighboring warlords were having a dispute, and the Legion was called in to make peace.

Autobiography of the Bomb: Chapter Nineteen

Jim Shankman

July 16. Five o’clock in the morning. Teller is a groggy, irritable man. They are twenty miles away from the tower where the gadget has finally been hoisted into place with the plutonium core nestled inside the wired aluminum sphere. There is no hint of sun yet in the sky. He wants to get this over with.

Accept All Changes

Caroline Cooper

A few of Natasha Boginya’s friends started a regular tradition of dining on Monday nights at a fine restaurant in Greenwich Village. Here was a New York besotted with heavy linens, Italian marble, the generous pour. Truffled potatoes. Sautéed spinach. Roasted meats. A larder full of bottles. The light fixtures hung low, bemused.
The place was an old stalwart of Tzarist times that smiled from behind a display of unwavering conquest and success.