fiction03 Jan 2011 04:38 pm

The woman snapped upright from her bent over position.  The hot pie she had just taken out of the oven slipped from the mitts covering her suddenly limp hands.  Slowly she turned…

“Ms. Herron…Ms. Herron…Alexandra, are you all right?”

Alexandra Herron blinked rapidly to erase the nightmarish memory.  Looking up from her desk, she smiled weakly at her secretary. “Yes, I’m fine, Cindy.  Just lost in thought.”

Why can’t I ever forget, she wondered. Why can’t that bitch just die and leave me to my own life?

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fiction06 Dec 2010 09:22 am



Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Sam couldn’t leave the house. The cars were angry at him. He whispered it to his brother, whispered it so that the cars wouldn’t hear him, wouldn’t find him. Jonathan was sitting in his living room with the CD player on, nodding to the beat of the music while he read the evening paper and pretended not to notice the cars.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Jonathan told Sam. He didn’t whisper. “Those people don’t even know you.”

“Not the people. The cars! Listen to them!” Their angry voices pierced Sam’s mind, drowning out Jonathan’s music. He ran his fingers through his hair.

“It’s just rush hour,” Jonathan said. “You always think that at rush hour, Sam. It’s time for you to go home. Go on back to your apartment. You’ll be fine.” He went back to his paper.

But Sam knew it wasn’t just rush hour. The cars were angry at him, Sam. You’re trash, they whined at him. You’ve let everyone down. You don’t deserve to live. Come out here, and we’ll do to you what someone should have done a long time ago. Come on out, Sam. We’ll get you. Jonathan had to hear them. He had to know. Unless . . . maybe not. The cars weren’t angry at Jonathan. If Sam was the only one who could hear them, Jonathan would never understand. He’d never believe his brother. Sam wished Jonathan could hear them. Then he’d understand.
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fiction15 Dec 2008 09:00 am

Carl backed away and the growling intensified.  The male wolf lunged at him but the she-wolf jumped between them, knocking her mate to the side.  Carl jerked himself back, yowling as he whacked his head on the cage door.  The door slid down with a crash and Tammy grabbed the pin off the floor to lock it down.

“What the hell were you doing?”

Carl looked into the cage.  The she-wolf stood inside, looking out at them, while the male paced back and forth in front of her, still growling.  Carl looked back at Tammy.  His mouth opened but as usual, words eluded him.  His breathing was erratic and tears flowed down over his cheeks.

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fiction17 Nov 2008 09:00 am

The last installment…

They stopped to eat and sleep, when the crescent of the sun came to barely skim the horizon. The Northern sun never truly rose or set, knew Iliss, but in her wildness of heart, she had not kept proper track of the seasons, and was not sure if it was true Summer or Winter. It mattered little to her single-minded purpose.

“Who follows us?” Waevan said, as he fed the dog pack. “I don’t understand.”

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fiction03 Nov 2008 09:00 am

continued from part II…

Iliss awoke to cold. It cut her like a bared nerve, the sense of weakling dawn, freezing cold in her nostrils, and a haunting monochrome whiteness that seeped in slowly from the outside. She lay in the pile of furs, unrestrained, and still nude, lay against another cold body, which she recognized as the man Waevan.

White skin, large rough features, carved like fjords of ice. And yet, he was like a young boy, a child asleep before her. And he had not touched her. She remembered vaguely how he had come in the night, silent, and bedded next to her in the furs as though she herself was but a dead animal skin.

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fiction20 Oct 2008 09:00 am

Clenching the reins and the girg with stiff fingers, Iliss was carried farther and farther along the barely perceptible trail. There were adequate supplies of grain and dried meat in the back of the sled, and extra warm blankets. The grain was for her own consumption — for since that dark day she had stopped eating flesh — while the meat was for the dogs.

One last point of honor Iliss refused to part with at the shelter-station. A long knife of finely honed iron she had kept close to her body, tied around her left upper thigh. This knife she had used when fighting for her life.

Her knife, first taken from her and plunged into beloved flesh, brother’s guts spewing… Her knife, regained too late while Naiass was broken — little smiling Naiass — her soft eyes agonized, then glassy… Screams, crackle of fire, her mother’s hands charred… Smoke, and Northerners with long pale hair, rose-skinned, shrieking, clawing at her, Trei, Trei, Trei, then bleeding, limbs severed under her slashing knife….

Her knife.

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fiction06 Oct 2008 09:00 am

Vera Nazarian immigrated to the USA from the former USSR as a kid, sold her first story at the age of 17, and since then has published numerous works in anthologies and magazines, and has seen her fiction translated into eight languages. She made her novelist debut with the critically acclaimed Dreams of the Compass Rose, followed by epic fantasy about a world without color, Lords of Rainbow. Her novella The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass from PS Publishing with an introduction by Charles de Lint made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2005. Her collection Salt of the Air with an introduction by Gene Wolfe contains the 2007 Nebula Award-nominated “The Story of Love.” Recent work includes the baroque illustrated fantasy novella The Duke In His Castle, released in June 2008. In addition to being a writer and award-winning artist she is also the publisher of Norilana Books. This story was originally published in 2005 in the anthology Lords of Swords by Pitch-Black Books.
Official website:

Iliss moved through a dead world.

Snowflakes finer than dandelion seed floated down gently, sparsely, brushing against her face with feather lightness, while the tundra around whirled by. A solitary bird soared overhead — a Northern bird — and trained a strange look of its sharp eagle-eye on the being below.

Iliss huddled in the voluminous fur garment which she had bought back at the old roadside shelter-station. This peculiar cumbersome thing she wore as a beast wears its own skin came with a hood that left only her eyes and a slit of her face exposed, and it was unbelievably warm.

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fiction29 Sep 2008 08:45 am

(continued from last week. This week, the warning about language is joined by one for over the top violence, pardon the spoiler if it is one.)

“Stephen, you promised you’d be quiet.” Wounded voice.

I’m starting to hyperventilate.


Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, I’m going over!


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fiction29 Sep 2008 08:40 am

The day that I lost my funding for my solar observation project was the same day I first noticed that the universe had begun to contract.

The director of the observatory, Dr. Patricia Remini, came into my office herself to break the news to me about my National Science Foundation application. The letter from Washington, D.C., had finally crossed the Pacific to Hawaii, and the news was not good.

“They said that your proposal just wasn’t significant enough to warrant funding, especially given all the cutbacks in science. I’m sorry.”

I sat there for a minute, just staring into space. It was difficult for me to accept that this was happening.

“Look, Jack,” she continued. “The observatory can still afford to pay your way for at least another year. You’re doing fine work on classifying new binaries with that team from Georgia State, and you’re good with the graduate students.”

“What happens if I can’t come up with alternate funding for next year?” I asked.

“We’ll worry about that then. In the meantime, why don’t you forget about your own work for a while? Go home early; spend some time with your wife and kid. Or help out Daniel Kelly. What was that you got him working on?”

“Spectral analysis,” I replied. “He’s been practicing techniques by taking the spectra of galaxies. You know, checking the Hubble constant.”

She nodded. “Good. It’s especially important given the recent results from the Hubble Space Telescope. If the universe really is younger than we thought, perhaps you might find a clue in his data.”

She walked to the door, and then took one last look back at me. “You okay?”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

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fiction15 Sep 2008 08:03 pm

Adam Rurik is a Canadian author and serial procrastinator with a fascination for the dark side of human nature, as he shows in this story. When I first read this story, I felt guilty that I liked it. But, er, like it I did. Maybe this means I’m a bad person.

You’re not going to have a heart attack, you’re not gonna have a stroke, you’re not gonna have a heart attack, you’re not g—

Bang! The bus hits a pothole which is, if the force of the jolt is any indication, roughly the size of Meteor Crater in Arizona. My mantra is cut off in mid-though, and this plus the adrenal rush from the unexpected, badly-absorbed shock/noise of our encounter with the pothole raises my heart rate to about ten thousand beats per minute from its previous leisurely pace of around 7,500. I’m already having my worst anxiety attack in three months, and the little Demon inside my head is carrying me off toward full-blown panic much faster than this damn bus is carrying me home.

You’re not gonna have a heart attack, you’re not gonna have —

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