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Playing Mother

Issue 17 by Laura Schmitt

They hired their au pair off a job posting website for the northeastern Wisconsin area. Mrs. Clara Bush had been specific about the language in the post, insisting on the term au pair because it conveyed a greater sense of class than babysitter or nanny, and she wanted to attract an elite applicant pool.

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The Lonely Stay At Home

Issue 15 by Maya Best

The house was never silent after I was born, but not because of baby wails or shrieks. It was because of the TV. TV whispers woke me every morning and swayed me to sleep. The flickering light filled the hallway in a comforting glow that made the dark seem less menacing in the midst of night. It cloaked the actual silence, the short but frequent absences. More so, I’d come to know the TV as my mother.

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A Greater Good

Issue 15 by Andrew MacQuarrie

Jurgen was skeptical. Cautiously, he tugged on the line to make sure the grappling hook had found its hold. It had. Stable as the cable seemed, though, it proved difficult for Jurgen to identify how, specifically, hijacking a 19th century galleon stranded in the gelid black waters of the Arctic Ocean might help him find a sense of purpose.

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Ethos Impact

Novel Excerpts / Novella Issue 12 by Abby Wasylean

He sat there on the edge of the pond, remembering the days before the edict was passed. He and the neighborhood kids used to sail boats on its still waters. Sometimes they would race their boats, and sometimes they would lazily let them float from shore to shore. Jack kept those moments locked away, trying not to think of the times where happiness thrived. By doing so, he missed it less, almost fooling himself into submission. Though, try as he might, he could never forget those days. With a sigh, he picked up his school bag from off the ground and headed towards his university.

After a full day of math and science—the arts forgotten in the aftermath of the edict—Jack began his journey home. Jack meandered down the side streets in no hurry to reach his destination when something caught his eye. There, on a gate he’d passed by at least a couple of times on days like today when he had nowhere to go but still didn’t want to go home, was a rainbow.

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The Ice Road

Novel Excerpts / Novella Issue 12 by Kevin Mohr

Of all the goddamned places to be stuck when World War III kicks off, I thought. The news on the old TV in the restaurant was Russian – Cyrillic script scrolling by beneath the newscaster reading the headlines – but Zhenya was translating for me, occasionally going silent for long moments, her fingers tapping her front teeth, her eyes fixed on the screen. This can’t be for real, my mind raced, cavitating. I tried texting Jason, the copilot, still back at the Malah, but there was no service showing on my phone. No texts. No email. No service. Jesus Christ.

Jason had stayed back at the squalid hovel that passed for an airport hotel. It was isolated, connected to town only by the ice road that crossed the frozen bay between Anadyr and the boneyard of crumbling Soviet Bloc tenements and the abandoned rusting equipment and gutted concrete bunkers that fringed the airport.

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The Message

Novel Excerpts / Novella Issue 11 by Richard Friedman

Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2025

“Mr. Bookman, time for dinner!”
Simon Bookman roused, groggily, and studied the nurse. He didn’t recognize the nurse that took care of him for the last two years. Josephine Lucas rolled Mr. Bookman in his wheelchair to the dining room for today’s feast consisting of a dry piece of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and a little cup of vanilla flavored ice cream.
If Simon Bookman could remember the old days, he’d recall the smell of baked apples wafting up the staircase and hypnotizing his three boys, Winston, seventeen, Sebastian, fourteen, and Wellington, age ten, respectively, dropped in the lap of Simon and his wife Margaret after Simon’s brother and sister-in-law died in 2000, courtesy of a drunk driver.
The older boys retreated into the safety net of their deceased father’s transportation company. Wellington chose the sciences and graduated from Stanford, and celebrated his thirty-fifth birthday, a shared celebration with his beloved uncle.

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