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I Am Not Brad Pitt: Chapter One

by Ross Dreiblatt

Even though I’m not actually guilty, I know many of you think that I got what I deserved. You probably think people like me get by on their looks and coast through life without breaking a sweat. Well, in my case, coast through someone else’s life. I know for a fact, from the “fan mail” I get here, that there are lots of you out there that think I’m just a crazy man spinning a conspiracy theory. I’m used to that kind of judgement, it doesn’t bother me.

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Sugar and Dust: Chapter One

by Ella Kerr

This is what I knew of tragedy: run as far and as fast as you possibly can. The plane touched down on red African dust exactly five months and two weeks after the death of my mother. My shoulders were sore from hunching under the weight of her loss, and my legs burned with the fire of the restless. My heart slowed down the longer I stayed on that plane.

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The Wedding Bell: Chapter One

by Roxana Arama

First century CE. Rome is marching. Cities and temples are falling. In a fictitious kingdom by the Black Sea named Dhawosia, Princess Andrada, sole heir to the throne, wants to help her father unite his infighting chieftains against the growing Roman threat. But when she fails the trials they demanded of her, her father marries her off to a neighboring king

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Personal Time: Chapter One

by J. M. Jones

This morning, someone shit on our lawn. Not something, as I’ll tell my wife. But someone. I’m sure of it. I’d gone to pull the car out of the garage, and when I stepped from the driver’s side, I saw it near the hedges, a brown smear. It might have been a dog. That was my first thought. But then I spotted the soiled paper towel tangled in the branches and thought, Son of a bitch, and turned to get the hose to wash it into the lawn, spread it out, dilute it. A couple flies darted off when I hit it with the spray, but they returned, taking up trace amounts I couldn’t clean off. As for the towel, I went inside for a pair of plastic gloves to pick it up. Then I took it to the trashcan, folded the band of latex over it, and dropped the whole thing in.

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Don’t Hang Your Soul On That: Chapter One

by Robert Hilles

By the time she selects a third papaya, he’s already certain that it’s no coincidence that she’s across the street from him right now. Even from here, he feels an instant connection. This means that they have known each other in a past life. His father has said that: The full influence of karma is only understood through dedicated, daily meditation.

He ignores those words and watches as she hands a papaya to the vendor who wraps it in newspaper and hands it back to her. She lowers it into a wicker basket and then turns slightly away from Tuum to pay. With her back to him, he notices that her skirt nearly touches the ground. She wears flat sandals and her hair is gathered in a single knot at the back.

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All in My Blood: Chapter One

by Melissa Allison

I tugged on my red hoodie, unable to stop myself from sticking my tongue out at Phoenix when she gave me a look. She might think it was cliché that a Flannery wore red, but I just liked spiting her. Besides I wasn’t the one that had put red in her hair — and my choice had nothing to do with spilled blood, like she claimed. I doubted her hair was red because it was drenched in blood from battle. It would totally have been in a splatter pattern if that was the case and not happen in one night to just her.

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Land of the Free: Part Two

by Peter Hoppock

A young man, unsure of his Welsh ancestry—confused by his parent’s evasiveness, and his grandmother’s refusal to share anything personal about her reasons for coming to America—visits Wales and discovers the deceits that formed the foundations of his life. Read Land of the Free: Part 2.


The sun was setting as they rode back up the entrance road to the farmhouse. Douglas breathed in the pungency of the newly turned soil as if it were a harbinger of what was to come. There was now a small sports car parked behind the Toyota; the crate, minus one of its sides, sat empty between the house and the corrugated shed. Emrys greeted them at the front door, holding it open. Squinting against the raw light, and before inviting them in, he gestured with one arm towards the sky behind Gwen and Douglas. The dogs barked, again and again, out of sight.

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Root That Mountain Down: Chapter One

by Evan Balkan

It’s an unspeakable smell. The smell of death. The ripping open of animal to let out the demons, loosing the jumble of organ and bone and tissue and exposing it to open air where microbe and maggot and mosquito can do their work.
Black piles of waste swarming with insects fill clearings in the woods, just beyond the demarcated perimeter where decrepit buildings totter in the heat. Two scraggly roosters barely muster up the energy to chase each other in languid circles amidst food wrappers and beer cans. Muddy men wearing flip-flops cradle tattered playing cards and AK-47s.
A voice booms from inside the long, flat building: “Hey! Hey! Hey!” over and over like a wicked hymn. A shirtless man emerges. Stretching from his right shoulder to his belly button is a long purple scar. The belly button protrudes like a tiny appendage. His arms are outstretched, and unlike the other men, he has a nice potbelly.

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Land of the Free

by Peter Hoppock

For the first 20 years of Douglas Williams’ life, his grandmother Mary had been tightlipped about her past—what had brought her to America, what and who she had left behind. During the last week of his last semester of college, Douglas’ father Llewelyn Williams Jr., fearing a downturn in Mary’s health, insisted Douglas join the family at the nursing home that had housed her for the last five years. That evening, after a short visit from a priest during which she insisted she was healthy as ever, she asked about Douglas’ upcoming Army service and if he still expected to be stationed in Europe for a time. When Douglas answered yes, she made this request of him: Please look up my brother-in-law Joseph, who might or might not still be living in Wales. She gave Douglas a photograph of her long-dead husband Llewelyn Williams Sr., noting that she had none of Joseph, but that the two brothers, born a few years apart in age, shared enough features for the photo to be useful. Promise you will do this for me, she insisted. Douglas kissed her on the forehead and promised he would. Mary’s request took everyone by surprise, especially Douglas’ father, himself equally tightlipped about his origins—as if it were a family obligation to bury the past.

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Too Much Information: Chapter Three

by K. Alan Leitch

K. Alan Leitch introduces us to a modern-day Nancy Drew in his novel “Too Much Information.” Teenager Jessica awakens from a coma with a special ability – she can see in a person’s eyes the evil they have done, but not the act itself, just a word. By Chapter 3, Jessica has seen the word “murderer” in the eyes of her psychiatrist and with the help of her friend Marnie, they are on a mission to discover who, when, and why.

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The Perfect Beauty: Chapter One

by Darlow Safley

Mariela writes for the Stockholm Free Press, stories with click-bait headlines and gulp worthy details. But as she laments to her copy editor Torsten, she needs a change — “I need to see how the insect and lizard sees. I need to witness the little things and feel big things about little things. Right?” And as we discover in Chapter 1 of Darlow Safley’s novel “The Perfect Beauty,” she also needs to find her father.

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Life Sentence: Chapter One

by Barry Potyondi

Read the first chapter of Barry Potyondi’s novel Life Sentence before reading the preface. This is merely a suggestion, but it allows you to read Chapter 1 without presumption or judgment. Thus unfettered, you will be struck by the raw emotion that builds from the first sentence to the last, and, so engaged, anticipate the consequence of rejection and hardship in a combustible mix. Then, return to the preface. It will open your eyes to the eugenics movement during the 20th century in Alberta, Canada, that destroyed thousands of individual lives.

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Tadhg and the Seven Dragons: Story Three

by Michael Radcliffe

The third story in Michael Radcliff’s series Tadhg and the Seven Dragons takes us to the island of Hawaii where Tadhg must stop Duana, his young friend who has been possesed by the “Other”, and find Greatwing’s relatives. Braving molten lava, Merlin’s traps, and dark tunnels, Tadhg journeys into the depths of the volcano to face the unknown and save his friend.

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Strangers You Know: Chapter One

by Vanessa Christie

Vanessa Christie introduces us to her noir mystery novel, Strangers You Know, and what an introduction it is. The story opens forcefully as we are introduced to the criminal and the cop; the details of the crime; and what we anticipate will be an intricate and fast-paced plot. You anticipate these characters facing difficult decisions as they track each other down—and consequences that will upend both of their lives.

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