you are a broken sink that nobody is going to fix,
your rusty faucet sputters

Natalie Jones

Natalie Jones is a student at Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently majoring in English Language and Literature. Her work has been published in Amoskeag Literature Journal and at Housefire Books

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Life in a nut’s shell

Wake up. Smoke spliff with (decaf) coffee. Read Google Finance. (Never know when you’ll suddenly get rich (or poor.)) Check Reddit for something to post to Twitter so maybe I’ll get a retweet. Then Facebook. I’m not one of those types. Y’know, the “like” everything, update everyone type. Takes five minutes, max. Then e-mail. That’s a few hours. Business stuff. 10mg Valium and a can of beer. Go to work. Pretend to work. Take break. Smoke cigarette although I don’t like them just so I can get outside. (Waiting for this State to legalize it, man. Can’t wait.) Clock back in. Sit down, shut up, type, wait, watch clock. Fuck it. “I quit.” Back home, sit down, fire it up, watch movie. What the fuck just happened? Girlfriend comes home. “Honey, we gotta move,” I say. “What the fuck are you talking about? You never move. You’ve been here all damn day.”

Daniel le Rue

Daniel le Rue is the author of three children's books, two young adult novels, a novella, and has written for the screen and stage. You shall le Rue the day you doubted his credentials.

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Like Some Orphaned Umbilical

Deb put down the knife she was using to peel potatoes and turned around to face her husband.

“This whole world is full of death. It’s the only thing that’s constant. And yet you can’t find work? You’re a ghost hunter for Christ’s sake!”

“I’m a paranormal investigator,” her husband said, “not some ghost hunter.”

Deb wiped her hands with the dishtowel and picked up a potato. “See this potato? Starchy, tuberous, whole. Pulsating. Even a potato has an afterlife.”

“And what’s your point?”

“That you have to stab an afterlife into it…like this,” Deb said as she grabbed the knife from the counter and stabbed the potato repeatedly. “You have to mash the ghosts into it. If you love me, you can do this for me.”

“Goddamn it! Have you gone crazy or something?”

“If you don’t love me, okay. But if you had a smidgen of chivalry in that heart of yours, you’d embrace death. No, no…not like that. A handshake perhaps. Hell, a high five would do! Maybe then you’d see some ghosts.”

“Are you drunk?”

“Eat me out,” Deb said and threw the potato against the wall.

Deb, half-naked, stood in the doorway of the bedroom. There were gnats on her husband’s shirt and they were copulating to the sweet sounds of rotting music. She was wearing Bose headphones. Plugged into nothing, the cord hung loosely at her side, like some orphaned umbilical.

Sometimes you have to mash the ghosts.

Justin Karcher

Justin Karcher is a poet and playwright living in Buffalo, NY. He is the co-artistic director of Theater Jugend as well as the playwright-in-residence.

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free at last

he let the newspaper, which had been open to the third page, slip from his hand and fall to the floor.

then he sat up.

he had read the story four times, to make sure he had it right.

it must be true.  it was right there in the paper.

after all these years.

he was free at last.

free from the fear which had haunted him and dogged him since he was a small child.

he looked out at the night.

there were only a few lights on in the distance – probably from bars – but they glowed more brightly than any lights he had ever seen.

free at last.

the headline of the story said it all -

“pope declares there is no hell”

he was free now, he could do anything he wanted.

he wondered which he should do first – hold up a gas station or strangle a hooker.

horace p sternwall

horace p sternwall was born in a log cabin in chicago illinois in 1919. his favorite authors are edgar guest, alfred noyes, erle stanley gardner, and margery allingham.

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What Happened Was Someone Got Shot

There was a small stain upon the wall. No one mentioned it. No one looked at it.

Bitten by Fate

It was the weirdest thing but when Karen looked in to Max’s eyes she felt like she was looking at someone else.  Max was Karen’s new dog and when she had picked him out at the dog’s home she had felt inextricably linked to him somehow.  It was an odd feeling; the connection between the two.  Within seconds it was obvious they would be going home together.  She needed the company since her partner had got a job on an oil refinery off the coast of Scotland which would see him away for ten months a year.

It wasn’t meant to be like this, Karen thought to herself on their first journey home together.  Why had she been left alone?  She thought that maybe Craig didn’t love her any more and had deliberately strived to get a job that would mean that they would be apart a great deal of time, maybe even in the hope of her finding some one else. Ten months earlier she had dumped the one man who had ever truly loved her and for what.  To be left alone with a dog for company, it wasn’t meant to be like that.

Ten months ago things had been very different.  Craig was the loving, dutiful boyfriend who behaved himself and knew his place.  He sure was different to Albert, Karen’s ex.  He had been difficult, messed up and occasionally viewed as just plain crazy but Karen loved him regardless of what people said to her about him.  It was then that it happened though.  Craig moved on to the scene and had, through sheer banality, won her affections away from Albert who was left heart-broken, distraught and without a friend in the world.  During the three years that they had been together Albert had devoted his entire life to making sure Karen was OK and had subsequently lost touch with his entire support structure from the days before Karen.

The three years had been a hell of a ride.  It felt like they hadn’t slept for the first year they had been together.  There had been a lot of amphetamine sulphate but slowly over the course of time this influence had been replaced with just weed and drink.  Albert was at his happiest sat indoors with nothing to do but smoke pot and talk with Karen until the early hours.  They both loved those evenings. The things they would talk about and some of the strange ideas they could discuss whilst high off the weed.  One night Albert theorized long and hard on the idea of reincarnation.  He had decided that when he died he would like to come back as a dog.  They had laughed but now when Karen would recall that night she would always feel strangely about Max.

Max had been a bad dog and his previous owner had grown tired of always having to explain away his actions to either the neighbours or the authorities who were sometimes called in when he had got really out of hand.  After only six short months they had had enough and decided to let the dog go to the home in Battersea.  His owners hoped that he would find a suitable family to go and live with but doubted it due to his strange and erratic behaviour.  However, from the day he arrived in the home it was as if his personality had shifted.  He became withdrawn and sorrowful and pretty much ignored every one who came in to look at him.  This could not be further from how he acted the day Karen came to visit.  She had arrived on a Saturday morning and he could almost smell her in the air and he immediately started in on his whole adorable puppy routine that he had been practicing behind closed doors for just this moment. As she walked into the area where he was kept he knew this was his time but still he remained unsure as to why he felt like he did.  After his last family he would have been just as happy to have been put-down rather than having to go and live with yet another group of humans who didn’t understand him or want any thing to do with him.  By lunch time it was done and she was walking him out the front gate and towards her home not too far away in Clapham.  That afternoon they frolicked together on the common and Max felt happy in human company for the first time ever.

It was around this time that Craig was becoming disheartened with his work and had decided to seek new employment.  He hadn’t told Karen of his decision but he knew their relationship would be fine for as long as he wanted it to be.  He had Karen in the perfect position.  She didn’t work as he had enough money coming in to support them both and it was very rare for her to go out of the house by herself unless it was to shop or take Max for a walk.  She had hardly any friends and they had all coupled off some years previously and it was rare for her to see any of them as they were dotted all over the greater London area.

Max and Karen became best friends very quickly and once Craig announced to her his new job it only strengthened their bond.  Karen would talk to Max all the time.  It was then it dawned on her.  Max was in fact Albert from beyond the grave.

When Craig returned for the first time six months later Max had grown and was now a little over three feet high and four feet long and all the instincts of his breed, German shepherd, had developed. Upon seeing Craig he immediately flew into a rage and attacked his want away master.  The headlines that followed mentioned nothing of the love Max and Karen had shared.

Bradford Middleton

Bradford Middleton was born in 1971 and is a writer of poetry and short fiction who currently resides in Brighton after coming of age in London and then being somewhat transient for a while. He recently won the inaugural Brighton Festival Twitter Fiction Competition and has been published widely online including at Ether Books, The Weekenders, Word Riot, Decades Review, Dead Beats and Down in the Dirt as well as many others. He is also a Contributing Poet at Mad Swirl. He is in the process of writing his first novel.

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Dress Rehearsal

everything you said seemed rehearsed,
endlessly practiced and prepared for an eager,
wide-eyed audience
devouring every moment of your performance.

I patiently awaited a round of applause
after every sentence you uttered.
you were intoxicated
as sounds and words
dripped from your parted lips.

Natalie Jones

Natalie Jones is a student at Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently majoring in English Language and Literature. Her work has been published in Amoskeag Literature Journal and at Housefire Books

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The Sting

When she heard the castle gate come down, the scientist scuttled down the four flights of stairs to her laboratory and darted inside, her white coat beating the air behind her like a wing. She slammed the heavy bolt of the door closed and slumped against it, and as the roar of the mob approached she drew a pistol from inside her coat and pulled the hammer back. She looked across the room, where a half-complete corpse lay stiff on its slab, its cold flesh peppered with electrodes.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered to it, pushing the barrel under her chin.

Jacob Steven Mohr

Jacob Steven Mohr was not raised by wolves—he just smells that way. His work has appeared in Outrageous Fortune Magazine and on the boards of the Browncoat Theater in downtown Wilmington.

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Pine trees passed by in a blurred hurry as I stared out the car window. I missed the blue skies that hung over the wheat pastures. It had been six months since the last time I indulged in this secluded countryside.

A lot of people my age dislike their hometowns, but not me. My hometown is a small country getaway destination, but not any ordinary getaway destination. Everything here is properly trimmed and appropriated, symmetrical, a true postcard classic. From the neatly cut yards to the endless square fields encased by rows of pines and hemlocks, it is the perfect mix of nature and mankind.

I pulled the car into the white paved driveway. Dahlias and tiger lilies greeted me as I stepped out of the car. The freshly bloomed flowers lined my path to the front door where my mother greeted me. She then told me of the farmers market that is being held downtown. Although, I am sure my mom wanted to catch up, I had never missed a farmers market and I wasn’t going to start.

It was a fairly short walk to town. Rustic brown fences kept me company as my feet knocked away the pebbles and twigs that scatter the sides of the road.  Finally I reached Main Street. The smell of cinnamon roasted almonds and funnel cakes filled my nostrils. The bright brick roads contrasted with the vendors’ stands, making them pop out and appear more interesting than they actually were. I walked over to a nearby woman holding a woven basket filled with apples. She offered me one and I graciously accepted. My teeth sunk into the apple as I leaned back and looked at the sky. Home.

Matthew Rochester

Matthew Rochester is a currently student at UNCW who is pursuing a double major in creative writing and film studies. He enjoys long walks on the beach and dabbles in the world of photography.

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Through the open window above the tub an outcry reaches us from the world. I sink my battleship but it pops right back up to the surface. More shouts follow.

“What’s wrong, I wonder.”

Scooping me from the water into a towel my mother carries me into the living room where in the strong breeze from the standing fan my father’s drawers are flapping on his backside. Behind him as he leans over the radio my brother in his soaked diaper is scattering the alphabet over the carpet.

“Japan surrendered.”

Of the five windows in our four rooms only one faces the street and he lifts me high up over its sill. Eight floors below people are scurrying to the curbs from all points of the compass. What they’re craning their heads toward I can’t see but I shrink from the drumming as it gets louder and louder. In the tall red buildings across from us hands are waving from every window. It’s snowing though it’s ninety degrees and there aren’t any clouds.

“Bring me some toilet paper.”

With my brother on her hip she comes back with a roll and he stuffs my fists with torn-off strips.

“Izzie, for God’s sake put him down.”

Ignoring her plea he thrusts me out over the neighborhood and I’m moved to make my first—and last—public address:

“Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your panties and slide on the—no that’s not what I wanted to say, what I wanted to say was, ladies and gentlemen, hobos and tramps! I come before you to stand behind you to tell you I can’t begin to tell you what an honor it is to join you today. When I think of the infinite number of moments contained in eternity how can I be otherwise than thrilled that the gods—supposing they’re shameless enough to remain in existence—have chosen this particular one for my debut? Oh it makes my heart thump louder than the Police Athletic League band! Rumpty-tump-tump-tump-tumpty! But please—don’t let me distract you from getting pie-eyed and groping each other over the happy conclusion of hostilities that have killed a hundred million of us, give or take twenty-five million. For my part in the glorious years to come I swear I’ll do my best to uphold the reputation of our species and in the meantime—on with the parade!”

Stephen Baily

Stephen Baily is the author of two novels and eight plays as well as of stories that have appeared in Blue Monday Review, Pavilion, Hack Writers, Atticus Review, Nib and other journals. His novel Markus Klyner, MD, FBI is available as a Kindle e-book.

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