Country Whispers – Matthew Amundsen

Seeing the bodies of them girls hanging outside the town’s gates made me think coming here was a bad idea, but it was too late to go back now. The driver, Finnas, didn’t seem the type to turn these horses around no matter what I said, and Maw would send me right back even if he did. The kitties dangling alongside the girls made me feel worse. I didn’t know if the girls did anything …

The Memory Dresser – Nicholas M. Stillman

Our parlor is small—tucked in a corner of Helm, folded between an empty Gassa stall and the home of a half-deaf mystic. For this reason, discretion numbers as one of our services. Not even the moon bears full witness, as Illsea, the largest Tower on the hill, shades us from the first few hours of evening light. Under our lamps, we shape the memories of the people of Helm, our people. Unlike the royals in …

One for the Wounded – Phoenix Alexander

“Minutes… they are the easiest to kill,” he whispered. His voice was thick with the drowsiness of spent passion; I thought he had fallen asleep, and felt grateful that he was staying awake with me a little longer. “You need something sharp… Cut their throats. Hit them on the head. Hard and accurate. Break their necks.” I remember thinking that it was an odd thing for him to talk about, this killing. So I lay …

With Eyes Half Open – Frances Pauli

The circus smelled of magic, of popcorn, dung, and cotton candy. Miranda squinted as she entered, just like the book suggested. She followed the crowd through the gate, then slipped between the wagons, searching for something only half open eyes could see. Magic dwells in the halfway places, in the between times and the long shadows that cannot be perceived with the eyes wide. She’d borrowed the book without asking, the one with gold designs …

A Yellow Landscape – Sarah McGill

I dream of vast landscapes. The distance bends like cotton on a washing line or a rabbit vanishing down a hole. In my dream, women come, carrying brutally tined forks. Their hands crook around their bodies and somehow they are monstrous and too big. I walk, and I think I’m looking for a better landscape. Or only another landscape. This place is too wide and I pool borderless across it. A woman draws her fork …

L’Appel du Vide – Rajiv Moté

On Friday morning, the ambient heaviness in his boss’s tiny office threatened to bend Isaac double, and his ears ached from the pressure in the air. The dread hadn’t started with his boss’s unexpected meeting request, but coalesced around it, wrapping the 15-minute block on his calendar in layers of doubt and worry until it shone like a fat, anxious pearl. It had been gathering over weeks. Office doors that usually stayed open were shut. …