Lock Rise – Phil Berry

Early on the morning of her seventieth birthday, Magden coiled the rope that moments before had tethered her canal boat to a mooring post, and said, to no-one, “How I ache!” The plan of the day’s cruise was clear in her mind, and would start with a right turn at the junction that lay half a kilometre away. She always turned right there. Right, to the periphery; left, to Lock Rise, to the city, to…

Keep reading

Beneath the Sea of Glass – Rob Francis

The sand slithered as if it were alive. Leos knew it was the wind, tugging rivulets of dust in its wake like whipping snakes, but even so. The land here was bad, hostile. They should never have come. “Aren’t you glad we came, Leos? Glad!” Agris plodded up the slope behind him, two heavy sacks atop his broad shoulders and a grin splayed across his battered face. “What a land… landscape.” The big man’s smile…

Keep reading

What the Darkness Is – Simon Kewin

The howls of the gore-hounds filled the night air. Vanda stopped to catch her breath. Sounds echoed off the trees, throwing noises at her from odd angles. Her pursuers were close. When they caught her it would be the end. She peeped at the precious cargo she carried, strapped across her chest in the sling she’d fashioned from an old shawl. The night was dark – of course – but there was just enough starlight…

Keep reading

Renewal – Michael Gardner

John waited for Holly, continually clenching and then unclenching clammy hands. He sat on the edge of the bed, his stomach roiling, his feet tapping the floor incessantly. It never got easier. He always dreaded the confirmation. It was inevitable and yet most of him wanted to delay. Another month, he thought, just one more. I’ll be better prepared then. There was a soft click from the ensuite door, and then it was opening. John…

Keep reading

A Conversion of Crows – B. Morris Allen

It moved forward in a crawl, jagged angles flowing over soil and stone alike, dawn shaping shadow and sun into beaks and talons that moved relentless toward her boot and over it. With a touch of her finger, the fern curled in on itself, withdrawing crags and fangs into a soft ribbon of green and grey whose silhouette curled round her foot like a friendly snake. “Sawtooth, my ass,” she murmured. “You could cut something…

Keep reading

Oven Game – Paul A. Hamilton

The oven door creaks open, revealing the grimy, sweat-tracked face of a girl just past her seventh birthday. Opening an oven from the inside is difficult for a child, but Drea Kane has had practice. She crawls into the unfamiliar house and dusts off her black knit dress. Her grease-caked tights are living up to their name, squeezing her calves. She rubs the underside of her nose with a wrist; the streak of wetness finds…

Keep reading