Short Story

Featured image for “Traps”

Traps
by Randy Mackin

Coyotes dangled like Christmas ornaments from the tree. Coup D. Gracen closed the gate and stopped beside his pickup to admire his work. He didn’t take credit for inventing this trap—someone else somewhere must have tried it too—but he had perfected it: 150-pound test fishing line and 14 ought treble hooks triple-knotted and baited with pig liver. The limb would break before Coup’s tackle gave way. Read more.

Featured image for “The Cold Place”

The Cold Place
by Connor Fineran

When my parents disappeared, I didn’t understand at first. I always expected difficult things in my life to come later when I was prepared. But nothing could prepare me for what happened the day I found the hole under the couch.
It was September. I’d just started seventh grade. My parents were out running errands, so I did what anyone would do: I wandered around the house, bouncing a ball up and around everywhere that it could be bounced. Read more.

Featured image for “Canción de Fermín”

Canción de Fermín
by Marcia Calhoun Forecki

Fermín Calderón accepted that his actions caused his brother-in-law Tavito to die. Accepting responsibility was the first step toward being forgiven. As a child in a village outside of Acapulco, Fermín heard the priest explain repentance and forgiveness. “First you must admit what you have done. Confess your sins. Only then may you ask to be forgiven.” He buried the words in his heart. Read more.

Featured image for “The Fairy Statue”

The Fairy Statue
by Lisa Voorhees

The face of the fairy statue that sits in the middle of my overgrown garden is covered with moss. Her exquisite features appear altered. The fairy used to be joyful, her stone eyes etched full of delight, tilted up at the corners. They reflected the smile of her pretty, carved mouth. Now her eyes are downcast, that mouth pulled into a frown. She’s been laid to waste by the ravages of time, incessant dampness, and years of neglect. Read more.

Featured image for “The Narrow Path to Heaven”

The Narrow Path to Heaven
by Amy Monaghan

In the church-like silence of the Pennsylvania night, a clothesline of white nightdresses billowed like captured ghosts above the grass. Dark fields drenched in dew stretched out in all directions, the careful rows of tobacco plants and corn waiting for their time to come. At the edge of the farmland, on a small hill above the house, stood an imposing oak tree. It looked down at the property like a sentinel. Read more.

Featured image for “Love Among the Fever Bags”

Love Among the Fever Bags
by Michael Fontana

Mom lay on a cloud, wings spread, eating a piece of coconut cream pie with her bare hands. She was clad in a thin white robe, head adorned not with a halo but a tall, platinum blonde wig, her spectral body puny as a twig.
“How’s the weather up there, Ma?”
“Sweet as this pie,” she said, smiling, a dollop of whipped topping on her chin.
“I miss you,” I said. Read more.

Featured image for “Leopard Road”

Leopard Road
by Ethan Steers

There is a road that follows three miles along the banks of the Ganges, leading through the village of Chatwapipal and on to Tibet. From 1918 to 1920, a man-eater dubbed the Man-Eater of Garhwal devoured thirty-seven people on that road, plucked from their carts and pilgrimages like coconuts from a tree. The leopard ruled with an iron fist until being killed by the Anglo-Indian hunter Rao Whittaker with the help of his friend Sayyad. Read more.

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The Kid
by Michelle Spencer

The kid’s face is good and smashed up, his nose most certainly broken. Eddy has transferred enough prisoners to know these things. On the grand scale, these injuries don’t look too bad and the easy banter between the paramedics speaks to the lack of urgency.
“Nearly there, warden,” the medic closest to Eddy says. “We should get through quick. Mondays are usually quiet. You’ll be back in no time.” Read more.

Featured image for “The Dead Too Shall Rise”

The Dead Too Shall Rise
by Belle Kane

When Victoria summoned the dead, it was an accident. The power flickered out just as Victoria locked the front door and flipped over the “We’re Open” sign. She heard the AC’s guttural last attempts at blowing cold air as it died out. She sighed, looking up at the ceiling regretfully. She would have to make do with what she had at the store. Read more.

Featured image for “God’s Work”

God’s Work
by Stephen Elmer

With a whistle, and a little too much excitement, Randolph swiveled in his tall leather chair in the control room of the LifeSupply Spruce Grove store. He just turned thirty and was making good money, enough to afford a small house next year. Randolph wanted to move up, save, invest, have a kid, and retire with money—all while taking care of his mom who he had transferred to Spruce Grove to care for. Read more.

Featured image for “State of Affairs”

State of Affairs
by Thomas Weedman

I wake for work at three, dizzy drunk sidestep in the dark to the kitchen. Thank God for stippled walls, good as cool soothing braille. My head spins, trying to recall what led to this state of affairs. Nothing yet ghosts my foggy mind. And nothing makes a sound or moves in the usually creaky Victorian apartment. Not a window rattle or even a mousy stir. Read more.

Featured image for “Heading Home Again”

Heading Home Again
by Cory Essey

Ethan’s head was humming. A nest of bees could have taken up residence inside his brain, and he doubted that it would feel less uncomfortable. The constant buzzing, the absence of a peaceful mind, was the hardest part of his job – he had decided that long ago. It wasn’t the ungodly hours or the constant stress of working under strict time limits that could mean life or death. Read more.

Featured image for “Hourglass Hostel”

Hourglass Hostel
by Alana Hollenbaugh

In the few seconds it took for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of the unfamiliar room, the cloud of spiced-chai scent around me had already faded. I slowly turned, taking in the lobby where I had landed. A bar filled half of the room, with worn, dark wood chairs stacked on clean tables, and the only movement was the dust spiraling through a bit of sunlight that slanted across the room. Read more.

Featured image for “In the Pines”

In the Pines
by Stephen Coates

“Some said she was surrounded by a glow like pale fire. Some said she was wearing a tattered wedding gown, hair wild and bedraggled. Some—teenage boys, mostly—said that she was naked. But none of that was true. She was just ordinary.” “You saw her?” Read more.

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Uphill
by Pernille AEgidius Dake

You have to live somewhere. But the Woodhills Preservation Tract, a private homeowners association on the outskirt of Hopscotch Mills, N.Y., where every street ends in -wood: Beechwood, Pinewood, Ashwood, Alderwood, Oakwood, Wedgewood, Westwood, Sycamorewood, Hollywood, Gingkowood, and Cedarwood, is a far cry from where Eliza Volk used to live in Manhattan. Read more.

Featured image for “Brighton Beach”

Brighton Beach
by William Mager

Chrissie’s just leaving the office when she sees him standing at the 23rd St subway entrance, looking up at the sky. When his eyes drift down to meet hers, the jolt of sudden intimacy sends her walking in the opposite direction. She never took the New York City Subway. Read more.

Featured image for “Clouds”

Clouds
by Jan Jolly

McPherson Women’s Prison 2018: age 80
The clouds look higher than usual this morning, far above the razor wire and guard tower. The bored officer paces slowly, checking her watch every few seconds, sipping her tepid coffee at the start of the morning shift. My hour in the yard is early, right after shift change, morning haze still thick across the fields. Read more.

Featured image for “Flanked By These Heroes”

Flanked By These Heroes
by C.W. Bigelow

One hundred stitches winding like a leafy vine across his backside kept Dorrey on his stomach and abruptly delayed his induction into the army. The weapon that wielded the damage had been the sharp edge of a tin can top, just an innocent bystander minding its own business. The blame lay somewhere between Dorrey, a fifth of Jack and a group of our friends gathered at a going-away party. Read more.

Featured image for “The Black Rose”

The Black Rose
by Anthony Raymond

I turned the uncut stone three times over in my hand. It was rough and coarse, but he explained to me that it was imperative it wasn’t altered. He said the process stripped away at it, and if I wanted it to “harness the powers of the earth” as he said, I needed to keep it the way the earth made it. Or in this case, the moon. Read more.

Featured image for “Spine of Empire”

Spine of Empire
by Nicholas Maistros

Three days after the avalanche, Onderdonk arrived in his private car. “There she is,” Roscoe said, having let go his end of a plank, smiling a dirty, squinted smile. “Miss Eva, and ain’t she a bee-yute.”
Emil dropped his end and a flurry of snow clouded up. When the snow cleared, he saw the car. It looked more like an oversized trolley from his Barbary Coast days than a railcar. . . Read more.

Featured image for “Blue Moon On Riverside”

Blue Moon On Riverside
by Penny Jackson

At fifteen years old, I was a pyromaniac. I would try to set my hair on fire with the fancy matches my mother collected from Manhattan’s finest bars: Lutèce, The Carlyle and The Plaza. I would steal them from a back drawer in the kitchen and my mother never noticed. Read more.

Featured image for “Birds at Night”

Birds at Night
by Cory Essey

We could hear the music, muted out here on the balcony, but lovely and soft, and we swayed slowly all alone, a quiet world with no one else in it to burst the dream that we had carefully weaved and convinced ourselves was reality. Read more.

Featured image for “A Portrait of Winter”

A Portrait of Winter
by Marvin Cheiten

I have always loved snow scenes. I am not talking about snow: I find snow to be brutally cold and harsh. Even snow’s whiteness reminds me not of purity but of a world devoid of color and nuance, a world that has had the life bleached out of it. Read more.

Featured image for “A Train Whistle Blows”

A Train Whistle Blows
by Seth Foster

Sitting on the edge of her bed, early evening sunlight stretching narrow shadows across the polished wooden floor, Mama whispers with her hands folded, “Dear God please, please let things go right. Please God, oh please.” Read more.