Novel Excerpts

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When soft voices die…
by Bromme Hampton Cole

Let me begin here.
I often thought, as a young man, how different my life would have been had they not been killed, but since I have come to believe it was inevitable, I’m also convinced it happened at the best possible time. They died when I was three, a toddler, unknowing and oblivious, as if they had never been my parents or even existed. Read more.

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Nursing Intuition: How to Trust Your Gut, Save Your Sanity and Survive Your Nursing Career
by Jenn Johnson

It was the height of the pandemic; our visits to the emergency room had declined significantly, but the acuity had gone up as people had put off coming into the hospital unless they were really very ill. This was the case as someone rang the call bell in room four, and I was the only one available to answer it. Read more.

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The Snitch: Javan
by M.D. Semel

Some say that Rikers Island is the largest penal colony in the world, and that contention is difficult to confirm or refute. The New York City jail complex may hold more prisoners than the gulags of the Soviet Union, but perhaps less than the re-education camps of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody has tried to count all the bodies. Read more.

Featured image for “The Snitch: Lonzo”

The Snitch: Lonzo
by M.D. Semel

The elevator doors were almost closed when Lonzo jammed his foot between them. He was late. The doors reversed themselves and slid back open. He squeezed in, compacted his body and side-eyed the crowd. It was like riding the subway at rush hour except all of the occupants were men and most of them were white. Read more.

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Glass Houses
by Victoria Costello

No one, not even Sunny Fox, knew that Sunday, December 22, 2019, marked the start of the final week of the before times. Leading astrologers around the world, Sunny included, had seen and discussed among themselves the fact that the planetary transits due in 2020 signified a terrible reckoning. They could not agree on the precise kind of comeuppance they expected to be visited upon humanity—just that it would be very, very bad. Read more.

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A Virtuous Man
by Joyce Myerson

I lied to her. Again. Will it be the last time? Can I go back and make it all right? I know, you’re always telling me to make up my mind before. Do I want to impress or do I really want to know someone for longer than a week? How come I haven’t learned? Read more.

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Signs of Amelia
by Kathleen Shemer

Great whooping sounds, a furious rattling, and a pounding like thunder spread through the lab. Brad felt the concrete building vibrate under him. The chimpanzees were banging and smashing on the steel slats of their cages, using their hands and feet. He dropped the bolt cutters he had used on the loading dock door and pushed into the sound. He had to find Amelia before someone found him. Read more.

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Seed of Doubt
by Stephen Newton

It was late afternoon, with the room temperature well over ninety degrees, before Prominence County Sheriff Eli Martin was called to the stand and sworn in to testify for the prosecution against Gerald Hartley. Hartley faced charges of vehicular manslaughter, but so much time had passed since his arrest, there was little public interest in the trial. Most people assumed Hartley was guilty as charged. Read more.

Featured image for “The Snitch: Hector”

The Snitch: Hector
by M.D. Semel

Someone yanked the watch cap off Hector’s head, and it took him a moment until his eyes adjusted to the light. His lids felt droopy, and his brain fogged in. With his head slumped down, he looked to his left, tried to orient himself and saw the jean clad legs of one of Tino’s cousins. He glanced right and saw Julio sitting next to him. Read more.

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A Gift of Fire
by Laura Walker

When you first drive into Riverside, it has as much distinction as any other town in this smear of Southern California cities—that is to say, virtually none. But if you look closer, through the haze of pollution that browns the summertime air, beyond the stark graffiti that coats the concrete surfaces, past the drooping palms and withered storefronts lining the freeways, you’ll start to see some character. Read more.

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Dogs, Post-Polio and the Poetry of Living and Dying
by Alpheus Williams

You have to wonder what it was like when the L’Esperance and La Recherche came into these uncharted waters. The young ensign Jacques-Bertrand Le Grand high in the rigging of the frigate’s mast, pitching and yawing precariously in big swells and rough seas, guiding ships and crews through the treacherous waters of the archipelago. Here they were thousands of miles from their homeland. Read more.

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The 23rd Hero
by Rebecca Anne Nguyen

Sloane Burrows was racing down the train station steps, holding her bicycle by the handlebars, trying to keep a birthday cake from flying out of the basket as the doors began to close on the northbound line to Downtown Vancouver. “Hold the doors!” she called as she reached the bottom of the steps. Of the ten or so passengers she could see through the glass, a few looked up, but nobody budged. Read more.

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19 Miles
by Darryl Lauster

It was a tougher slog than on most days. The spring had come early, and the rain hadn’t let up for three weeks. With every step, his boots sank an inch deep into the muck and released with a slurping sound. He was approaching a transition point in the woods, where the heavy canopy gave way to the wetlands that extended several miles to the abandoned northern train tracks. Read more.

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Peeling the Onion
by Sean McFadden

Kevin called Nolan to warn him that the clock was ticking, that if he wanted to see Dad before he died, Nolan had better go through Mimzy to schedule an appointment soon. The slots, Kevin said, were filling up. Mimzy and Oscar were allowing one family member visit per week, only over the weekend, then Oscar had to have the rest of the week to recuperate. Read more.

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A Civil War
by Faraaz Mahomed

The streets around here empty out in December, until there are just the lazy summertime sounds of a few people walking their dogs or hosing their plants. Neighbourhoods are blanketed under a mostly placid silence, but sometimes there’s also a pall that covers those of us that haven’t escaped to the seaside. Read more.

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by Linda Stein

Laurie arrived at work fifteen minutes early on her first day of work.
“We don’t want to overwork you on your first day,” Dan said. “C’mon across the street, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”
Charlie’s Coffee Shop was packed with men between the ages of about twenty and sixty. Read more.

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by Kayla Branstetter

A man gave me this knife for protection. The government is watching me. My every move is being watched. The CIA is watching me through my truck, my phone, my stove, my microwave, and probably this knife. I trust no one. Don’t be surprised if a government sniper shoots me dead—right through the head. Read more.

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Long Way From Home
by Seth Foster

The first time I feared my life would end at the hands of a white person was in late summer of the year of our lord nineteen hundred and fourteen.
I was fourteen, terrified, skinny, long-legged with brown skin, and curled up on the wooden floor of the hallway in building Number Four at an industrial boarding school for wayward girls. Read more.

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Freeze Frame
by Dawn-Michelle Baude

Laurent left me in a friend’s garret for the afternoon. We’d moved out of the hotel and into the garret for a few days while the friend vacationed in Normandy and Laurent searched for more stable digs. The friend, a thin man with a thin moustache, seemed nice but a bit odd—many years later there’d be rumors about things that I’d rather not share. Read more.

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Blood for Sail
by Diane Rosier Miles

While I stood in a wide-brim hat pondering the habits of Gladiolus “Kirov,” the call to a new life came. I was lost in gardener’s thoughts in the sunshine. As is often the case, I was busy feeling confronted by math as I guessed the number of inches between the “Stella de Oro” daylilies naturalized in my flowerbed. The “Kirovs” would nestle between them. Read more.

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A Very Innocent Man
by Edward Belfar

On Monday, at the end of his session with Boadecia, the doctor, leaning back in his chair with his hands crossed behind his head, inquired, with affected nonchalance, “So, you can bring me some business?”
Boadecia, springing from her chair, jumped six inches off the floor, clapped her hands three times, and grinned.
“I can bring more business than you’ll know what to do with.” Read more.

Featured image for “Like Snakes Among Vines”

Like Snakes Among Vines
by Brenna Hosman

In college, she learned about rape myths, the misconceptions and excuses created to downplay the crime and blame the victims. Dani saw the myths plastered on poster board and in the margins of flyers hanging on the walls of every campus building, myths that she didn’t even know she had believed until they were spelled out for her in words and, one by one, debunked. Read more.

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by RC Hopgood

Maria Collins used to be so childish, such a baby. Oh yeah, she was going to change the world, take down the man, destroy the machine, let freedom bells ring and then tra-la-la happily ever… never. Such kiddie fantasies. Juvenile righteousness… Right. Juvenile stupidity is more like it. She kicks off her worn-out blanket, sits up and adjusts the straps on the leg, and ties up her boots as tight as she can. Read more.

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The Outcast Land
by Francis Flavin

The old pickup sped through the night like a spaceship in the void. The only contact with reality was the faint whir of studs on frozen asphalt. Lake felt disembodied — a vagrant thought alone in the dark. He loved night travel when reality only occasionally interposed in the form of a long-haul trucker or startled moose.
The truck veered toward the shoulder as he passed through a dense bank of wind-swept snow. Read more.