Novel Excerpts

Featured image for “Signs of Amelia”

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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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.

Featured image for “Seed of Doubt”

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 “A Gift of Fire”

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.

Featured image for “Dogs, Post-Polio and the Poetry of Living and Dying”

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.

Featured image for “The 23rd Hero”

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.

Featured image for “Peeling the Onion”

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.

Featured image for “Lifelines”

Lifelines
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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Carter
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.

Featured image for “Long Way From Home”

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.

Featured image for “Freeze Frame”

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.

Featured image for “Blood for Sail”

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.

Featured image for “A Very Innocent Man”

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.

Featured image for “Querida:”

Querida:
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.

Featured image for “Ithaca”

Ithaca
by Mathias Dubilier

The mere thought of a huge sailboat on land, propped up on stilts, was so unnatural that as hard as Felix tried to suppress revulsion, he couldn’t help but feel it rise.
He was fourteen and the only times he had seen sailboats were years earlier when they lived in America and he was in the backseat as his parents drove along the Hudson or within glimpsing distance of Long Island Sound. They were birds, that’s what sailboats were. Birds skimming the ripples of water. Complete unto themselves. Untethered. Free. Read more.

Featured image for “The Outcast Land”

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.

Featured image for “Uncle Joe’s Muse”

Uncle Joe’s Muse
by Micah L. Thorp

Despite many legal infractions, Uncle Joe had only been arrested once. In the summer of 1987, Joe traveled to Eugene, parked his van in the middle of Autzen Stadium’s parking lot, laid out a large blanket and spent a couple hours fixated on a dragonfly that kept buzzing around his vehicle. The Grateful Dead were to play the next day, the weather was hot, and the stadium was the largest venue in the area. Read more.

Featured image for “The Serpent Papers: Nietzsche, Supermen & the Death of God”

The Serpent Papers: Nietzsche, Supermen & the Death of God
by Jeff Schnader

The next day, Gilly and I were sitting in The Gold Rail Tavern when the front door swung open admitting the figure of a slender man blown in like a leaf by a bolt of cold air. He stepped into the dimness of the tavern limping in pain, clothes hanging on his bones like a coat rack. Read more.

Featured image for “Jude”

Jude
by Lydia Landrum

I always hated driving. More than that, I always hated the backseat, and I always hated riding shotgun, even. I hated it back when I was a little girl in the backseat of my daddy’s Ford Super Deluxe. I don’t know why, really, maybe it’s because someone always lights up a cigarette and chokes up everyone in the car, or maybe it’s the way I get carsick if the windows ain’t up. I don’t know, I just don’t like it. Read more.

Featured image for “Under the Microscope”

Under the Microscope
by Joanell Serra

Deep down, I will always be the pastor’s daughter. While Inspector Corrick has come to Keystone School as a private investigator, my roiling stomach imagines he is a messenger from God, a toad-like minion in the army of St. Peter. Is he here to decide whether there has been a crime committed, and if so, my part in it, or to ascertain whether there has been a moral failure? Read more.

Featured image for “Iben… I’ve Been Through Some Sh#@!: Unbroken”

Iben… I’ve Been Through Some Sh#@!: Unbroken
by K.E. Mullins

I looked at myself in the rearview mirror one last time before entering the building. The gym was packed. As I took the podium, one young man, then another, clapped. “Thank you,” I said before beginning. “I’m Iben Okafor and it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you today. Before I get started, how many of you have brothers and sisters?” Read more.