The Martian in the Greenhouse – Geoffrey W. Cole

“Can you sit?” Honoré awoke to find herself lying on a cot in a little room full of mostly empty boxes of medicine and medical supplies. The woman who had asked the question loomed over Honoré. Pale, oily skin stretched tight over thick bones. Grey hair tied up in a bun. Ice-blue eyes set deep. “Shush,” the woman said. Honoré realized she’d been moaning in pain. It felt like she was steeping her extremities in …

The Lonely King – Gunnar De Winter

Once, he’d had loyal subjects. Now he only had bricks and sand. Immortality was not a blessing. He had dragged his throne to the highest tower of town. It had been an arduous task, but he’d had – quite literally – all the time in the world. The top of the tower had long since crumbled, exposing king and throne alike to the elements. Mocking desert winds threw hails of sand at the king’s weathered …

Fur and Feathers – Jess Koch

Dad was the first in our family to change. It was slow in the beginning: one morning he woke to find the skin on the back of his hand had hardened and darkened overnight. When I asked about it, he told me it was just dry skin, and I believed him because I was only twelve at the time and didn’t know what I know now. As weeks passed, the dark patch grew. It spread …

A Time for Understanding – Lisa Fox

I lay your bulky, yellow head on my lap, your labored breaths hot against my nightdress. Your massive Labrador paws thrash against an unrelenting hardwood floor, as if you’re trying to run to a place without pain. I press my cheek into your soft fur; it cushions the fear that strikes with each violent spasm that threatens to take you from me. I pull you close, wrapping myself around you until the yelps subside to …

Via Dolorosa – Christine Lucas

“Your father crapped himself,” croaks her aunt’s ghost. “Go clean him up!” “Yes, Aunt Katina.” Father craps himself every other hour; Maro needs to finish the bills first. But the numbers won’t add up. Father’s pension isn’t enough anymore. “Such a worthless daughter,” mutters the ghost. “I envy your mother, who’s not around to watch!” Of all the ghosts in this damned house, Aunt Katina had to be the talkative one. Maro shoves the bills …

Rooks on Sundays – Jack Neel Waddell

“You never liked to play chess with me,” she says. The board lies on a tray across her bed. Pillows prop her up slightly, just enough to see the pieces. She reaches out a wrinkled hand, skin both pale and blotched brown, like the flesh of an apple left out too long. She grabs a rook that she carved, perhaps twenty-five years ago, from purpleheart wood. Today she remembers how it moves. “I know how …