An American Memoir

by Don Pizarro

I'm the son of immigrants, conditioned from birth to chase The American Dream, a great pursuit in theory. But I hit problems early on, having black-hair, brown-skin, and brown-eyes and not the All-American blonde-, white-, and blue-. So I learned to play the real American Way, but embracing Manifest Destiny turned me into something I didn't like. I made some bad choices, mostly related to American Excess and American Express. But with some American Ingenuity, I rode them out and reinvented myself like an ex-American President. And now I'm doing it my way like a certain blue-eyed American Idol, closer than ever to my own slice of American Pie.

6S - C1

Don Pizarro, author of The Right to Privacy, lives in upstate NY. His writing has appeared online at McSweeney's, American Nerd, and Byzarium.

Between Eves

by Quin

"Believe for once," you said, in hushed tones, your hand in my hair, twisting the curls on your finger. "Believe in us," your mouth moving over mine, still speaking as your lips slid to my jaw and down my throat. "Believe in what I'm telling you, in what our future will be, in all that I swear will happen." "Believe in me," you whispered, your face between my breasts, our bodies still wrapped around each other, skin touching, as we breathed in counter-point. "Believe when I tell you I cannot imagine life without you, that all I want on this earth is to be held in your arms, to hear your heart beat, to have your scent surround me." "Believe," you asked, and I answered with blind faith until she called to tell me of your betrayal, and it was then I noticed the core of the word believe is lie.

6S - C1

Quin is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.

Birthday Boy

by caccy46

Tomorrow is his 28th birthday; another sad year has passed and we will celebrate by having dinner at home, just the three of us - it will be like every other week of the year; I will prepare dinner, we will sit in front of the television to ease his discomfort of the silence of the dinner table; he'll do his laundry and will ask if it's okay if he leaves before the last load is dry because spending too much time even with us is too difficult for him. The difference tomorrow night will be the present we'll give him, that he will receive awkwardly with a forced smile and a sweet "thank you." Even his kisses have become awkward, as if he were afraid to really touch, our cheeks barely brush skin and his lips kiss the air, the hug has become a brief touch on my shoulder. It's hard to act present when you have disappeared and live in a world so small and isolated that eye contact no longer exists. It is easier for me to be angry at his illness so that I don't cry my life away; I am so angry that looking at pictures of him as a baby and young child (until his 10th birthday, when he started leaving us), I realize that I have been robbed of all the sweet moments - I feel no joy when I see him playing, dancing, laughing - knowing he would soon be swept into the maelstrom of his confounding illness. I ache to hold my sweet boy in my arms, cry on his massive shoulders, tell him how much I love him and miss him and how painful it has been learning to let go of all my hopes and dreams for his happiness; and my mind does all that while I sit next him, not close enough to touch him, and take the little I can get which is all he has to give.

6S - C1

caccy46, author of Joy #1, is 60 years old, a mother of two, and has been married for 32 years.

Dancing in the Dark

by Heather Leet

She danced in the middle of the dance floor flailing her arms and legs as if she was trying to dislodge a million little bugs from her body. As the disco ball whirled around, creating a blinding light as it bounced off of her sequined shirt, I worried that she would hurt someone with her flailing arms. Then as suddenly as she had started she stopped and glanced up at the disco ball as the music and other dancers swirled around her. That is when I noticed her eyes. They were both a cloudy white color and I wondered if she could see. As she made her way off the dance floor she brushed my arm as she passed and leaned in to whisper in my ear, “Everything is better in the dark.”

6S - C1

Heather Leet, author of It Started with a Scab, is a modern day Robin Hood, but instead of stealing from the rich she cajoles them into giving her money to help fund programs that will hopefully one day make the world a better place. She spends not enough time writing on her blog, and hopes to one day publish her collection of Love Poems to Dictators.

Ella McCann

by Krystal Christian

Ella McCann never thought of herself as suicidal, at least, not in the stereotypical sense: she didn’t cut herself or practice writing suicide notes or anything. It was more of a passing thought every once in awhile, like when she was driving down the freeway on her commute to work (if I just jerked the steering wheel right here…) or when she was taking pain medication after her root canal (if I took seven instead of two…) or looking out off the balcony of her apartment (if I accidentally fell over this railing…). Ella reasoned that these thoughts were normal, and ignored them as if they were simple wonderings about what she was going to eat for dinner. But, as it turned out, these thoughts were less trivial than they seemed, and only when they stopped occurring did she realize how much they had bothered her. By this time, though, she’d found something new to occupy her mind with: Jack Bellingham. Because now when she was in her car or standing out on her balcony or even taking pain medication, he was usually with her, and that made death look far less appealing than it used to.

6S - C1

Krystal Christian is a sixteen-year-old high school junior who finds writing far more appealing that the usual teenage activities.

Family Aerodynamics

by Erin McKnight

Here’s the deal, God: you make sure he gets home safely, and I swear I’ll start looking after him the way an older brother should. Bunching one end of a towel, I dip it into the sink of cold water, and then hold it to my reddened eyes and nose. Just after nine he saunters by, his bobbing head reflected in the bathroom mirror. He smells of grass, mud crusts his earlobe, and the tuft of hair on the crown of his head stirs in the air vent’s breeze. He’s oblivious to the labored inhalations and clenched jaws he left suspended in his wake. I run into the hallway and shove my elbow into his shoulder - pinning him against the wall like an insect to a windshield - cursing his selfishness as spindly limbs writhe against my center of pressure.

6S - C1

Erin McKnight is currently at work on her MFA in fiction. Her writing has been widely published, and she teaches an online class in flash fiction.

Five Days & Every Last Minute

by Melody

Your words stung like the whip of a stingray’s tail, leaving scars like invisible tattoos engraved on my skin. Our mother daughter relationship was filled with turmoil during that last year of your life, and we hadn't spoken in all that time. Something told me to call you with forgiveness, and that was when I learned how sick you were; your chances against the cancer were not good. You wanted me to come and put my name on all the special things that I would want when you were gone, but I couldn't do it because I didn't believe that it was true. You went back into the hospital, and I got the call from Dad, “You need to come right away, the doctors said Mom only has five days left to live.” That was all the time I had left with you, Mom, five days and every last minute to let you know how much I loved you for always and forever.

6S - C1

Melody is from British Columbia and enjoys reading, writing and gardening.


by Sandra Harrison

He sliced the knife through the hard flesh, nicking a bone with the stainless steel blade. Only on special occasions did he indulge in such a treat and tonight would be such a night. Three slender candles illuminated the table, lighting the center of the room as his wrist continued its carving. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth went the serrated instrument - and his tongue as it licked his lips in anticipation. The time was coming and he could barely contain his eagerness, but wished he could share it with the one he loved who passed in such a horrid fashion. After the last piece was cut, he took his seat at the head of the table and began his feast as he placed three slices of turkey upon the fine wedding china before him and wished himself a Happy Thanksgiving.

6S - C1

Sandra Harrison is a freelance writer living within the Pittsburgh area. Fiction writing is her first true love, but she loves to write just about anything as long as it tells a story that might impact the reader in some way. More of her writing can be viewed here.

45 Minutes in a Frenetic Imagination

by Victor S. Smith

Because I had always liked the movie Amelie, and because a foreign city with a river in it seemed appealing, I suggested we run away to Paris when the waitress with the eggplant colored streaks in her hair said she was having a bad day and just needed a change of scenery. Seriously, I remember saying as she brought me a black coffee, you can go to the Montemarte or the Sacre Couer (which overlooks the whole city), you can see the Seine while you sip wine and eat ham and cheese on a baguette; it is, quite possibly, the most beautiful city in the whole world — no, the universe. I placed my order thinking of the two of us walking down the Champs-Elysees towards the Jardin des Tuileires; the Indian summer sun would be nearing the western Horizon as a slight breeze carried the smell of the river up the crowded city street; she would be holding my hand and resting her head on my shoulder. I ate my lunch and waited awkwardly, and blissfully in love, for the waitress — whose name I didn't know — to come back over and fill up my empty ceramic coffee cup: I started to get the impression that she was avoiding me when the stunted male bus boy came over and topped me off. "This is the last chance," I said when I handed her the black folder that had my credit card and the bill in it, "if you aren't careful, I am going to pay my bill and walk out of here and we will never see Paris." Luckily she declined my offer; when she came back she handed me the receipt and said, without letting go, "It would never work out, we don't know each other; we would be happy for a while but then I would squeeze the toothpaste the wrong way, or you might meet another waitress and I would be lost in Paris;" she let go of the receipt, turned away, and walked back into the kitchen stopping at a table along the way to package up the remains of a Monte Cristo.

6S - C1

Victor S. Smith has the fever for the flavor of a Pringle. He sporadically updates his blog Like Pollution and makes empty promises about posts relating to such outlandish topics as: Why "Big Trouble in Little China" is the best movie ever, and his 100 favorite songs of all time. He loves using two spaces after a period.

How Women Make Fools Out of Men

by Bob Jacobs

Gloria and I were sitting in the Café des Amis on our third date tucking into chicken nachos when she put down her cutlery, leaned forward, and whispered for the very first time that she loved me. I told her that I was flattered, but it was too soon to speak of love, but she giggled and said, "I'll prove it." She slipped off her shoes, raised a stocking-clad leg, and ate her foot, her calf, her knee and then her thigh, until she'd devoured the whole frigging leg. I said, "Gloria, really, there's no need," but she laughed, ate the other leg, her left arm, her right arm, then paused briefly to look me in the eyes before craning her neck and eating her entire tender body, beating heart and all, so that only her head remained, surrounded by flowing red hair. "I love you," she croaked, through blood-soaked lips. I drove her back to my place where she fellated me right through till morning, when I sent her home in a taxi and told her I'd call, and I have done, many times, but has she ever once answered the frigging phone?

6S - C1

Bob Jacobs lives in the south-east of England with his wife and kids and Sony Vaio.


by Peter Wild

Hugger-Mugger, she says, Hugger-Mugger, Hugger-Mugger, Hugger-Mugger, over and over and over again, without breath and without interruption: hugger-mugger, hugger-mugger, hugger-mugger. I try to break the spell, say ssssssssh and baby and come on now, push the sweaty hair from out of her blank terrified eyes, tell her it's okay, daddy's here, hugger-mugger has gone now, hugger-mugger has gone, ssssssssssssh, but nothing I say and nothing I do seems to work. This goes on for the better part of an hour and, you know, my patience isn't limitless, I do have work in the morning, after all. So, listen, I say, raising my voice to get the kid's attention, you'd better be quiet, I say you'd better be quiet right now, because I think... yes... Hugger-Mugger's coming back, I can hear him on the gravel outside in the garden, he's... looking up at the window... and we both know... he has an especial fondness for children who won't shut up. Her eyes grow wide as she clamps both hands across her mouth to manually silence the pants and the gasps and the sobs. I pull her to me and hold her tight and think to myself: you have to be cruel to get what you want.

6S - C1

Peter Wild is the editor of The Flash & Perverted by Language: Fiction inspired by The Fall. You can read more here.


by Diane Sparks

Danica had experienced this sensation of her muscles and skeletal system trying to leap through her skin so many times in the past. Usually she was able to ignore it, but for some reason not today. Whether it created an impulse to grab a stranger on the bus or run down the aisles of the grocery stores screaming, she always managed to contain herself and quiet the jittering in her bones. Today, though, she walked past the glass case and simply couldn’t help herself. She smashed the glass with the metal hammer and as the alarms began roaring in her ears, she ran faster than she ever had in her life. For the first time, her muscles and bones were quiet as her legs turned to jelly.

6S - C1

Diane Sparks, author of 9-1-1, What Is Your Emergency?, is a born-again writer living in Chicago, with an M.A. in English and a day job in HR.

In Flames

by Ellen "EJ" Sackett

The candle’s flame taunts and teases, shifting back and forth in the quiet as if it were slow dancing without a partner. It silently laughs as I pass my fingers over it in a game of catch-me-if-you-can, and of course I can’t and it doesn’t. I try to stay there a second longer, just to see what it would feel like. I feel the angry sting of fire long after I shrink back, so intense that I can’t stand it an instant more. How could he go through with it, douse himself with gasoline, and then strike the match? I stare at the red-hot glow and shiver.

6S - C1

Ellen "EJ" Sackett, creator of The "IT'S FOUR O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE" Club, writes "The World Around Us" for As We Are Magazine and "At Home with Ellen" for HOME. She wanted to be Oprah when she grew up, but since that job was taken, she decided to become a concert harpist instead. After a life of world travel, center stage, and harp schlepping, EJ is happiest at home, creating on her laptop. Get to know Ellen better by visiting her website, or email her.

It's All Lies

by Michelle Vanstrom

I've decided to treat everyone the way they treat me. I'll lie. They'll question and wonder why I didn't do what they wanted, but I'll simply tell them I forgot, or I became busier than I expected, or something else demanded my attention, and I became distracted, even though I answered, sure I'll help you. I'll even lie to myself and forget about those morals I own, the ones I'm proud of, that personal code of contact I cherish, all buried under false words. I'll saunter under a mask of indifference pretending it doesn't matter, that incomplete actions and false words don't hurt. I wonder which of us will be more astonished.

6S - C1

Michelle Vanstrom has been published in The Writers' Review, Quadrangle, and the Buffalo News Poetry Page. She won first place in a ByLines Magazine contest. She is a founding member of the Niagara Falls Literary Society, and a member of both the International Women's Writing Guild and the Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Knew But Somehow Lost

by Amy Guth

He was someone she knew but somehow lost into the ether, long before she knew much about anything beyond blinking her eyelids and watching the world. She, in the colloquial super-ego sense of she wasn't she who knew, as the she who knew him was something larger and greater, reminiscent of deserts and ancient bricks, inviolable places and tiny gold lettered words of partition hidden on grains of spelt and wheat that fought their way to the light of day without knowing quite why they should. The she that knew him knew they were pieces of something wild, sacred and collective and veiled in Phoenician ghosts dyed from forgotten sources, invisible swirls furtively passing aching chests. These parts of being were splintered from opposite sides of a great cleave and lived aching too secretly, too mournfully of their separation all this time to even bother with the primitive electrical firing range of the brain's abilities. She and he were a halved metamorphosis, pieces wandering shiftlessly from consciousness to consciousness, life to life, until they opted, fought and unwittingly steered themselves into events and tracks and plans to brush past one other, feeling a strange quiet as eyes of dead ancestors smiled and danced a strange, slow macabre dance around them, as the two stepped back and looked at strangely familiar eyes and saw how together they'd always been, long before these paths ever crossed. Someone she knew but somehow lost.

6S - C1

Amy Guth, author of At Sevens, has written about blaxploitation, Judaism, feminism, media literacy, bandwagonism, art, cult films, racism, hate crime and social irritants for all sorts of places like The Believer, Monkeybicycle, blah blah blah. She's toodling around at the moment promoting her novel Three Fallen Women and having a very nice time, thanks. She blogs Bigmouth Indeed Strikes Again. Come say hi.

Lucid Moment

by Marie Mastracci

Dad walks into the kitchen and is surprised at my presence. “How long are you visiting?” he asks. I tell him I’m leaving tomorrow and tears leak from his cloudy blue eyes. “One minute I’m yelling and the next I’m crying,” he says. There is no time to remind him the yelling was many years ago. A shadow crosses his face as he asks, “Who are you?”

6S - C1

Marie Mastracci is a 52-year-old grandmother trying to write well.

The Marsh, The Man

by Rebecca Katherine Hirsch

So there I was. The night was dark, and so was I. I had just gotten back from a fresh dig in the neighborhood marsh where putrefying cranberries and mutilated crawdads had clutched at my tresses and poked at my kneecaps. Not that it bothered me; I've always been the kind of man to show up on a lady's doorstep covered in a thick sludge of mud and decomposing plants. Not that I mind. From the day of my birth back in 1923 to the day they took me to the neighborhood marsh, the marshing life was the only one for me.

6S - C1

Rebecca Katherine Hirsch is a marsh-reared lass from the Mississippi River delta. By day, she is a New York professional football player. By night, she is a bum.

Miller in Bathrooms

by Michael Wright

What am I like? Lost, useless, unfaithful, dick-driven, like, like... like the mass of some cast-off sainted statue thrown from his blue pontiac at eighty-five miles an hour maybe by some other drunk not me but yeah me, yeah, or maybe just in a giggle of precocious wildness as the girl wearing only black lace underwear in this blue streak of a car racing down a backwoods road, no lights, in a fit of crotch chaos knowing the driver is all talk and right now she wants it bad and there she is down to the last waltz and he's more into roaring over ticking macadam into the last faint sunglow with crickets locusts frogs mad in August heat nothing to breathe and she is ready for anything but this and the plaster icon goes rip bonk in one smooth motion from dashboard to road, one bounce, he throws it, belonged to the car's former owner and so what, and into the weeds in a little car-blown roadside shrine made of castaway beer bottles and dried-out condoms and somebody's book of jokes for the john (there to rest for years until a snowplow too wide smashes it all to ice powder bits, new guy on the plow and way early snow), but the driver is too terrified to care about the blue statue gone from the just-cleaned dash, he's got this girl in his car and she is wild free and more than he can handle, he just wanted to play a little with some female heart while Caitlin is away for the weekend, him with the diamond glowing in the change pocket of his jeans, saving himself for her like he promised, but before the kneel-down and the answer, why not check it out and see if he's still got anything going and now here's this one, almost naked, black lace and long tan thighs, hand on his crotch until he almost came and pushed the car into this long pour instead, blue smear on the long tan road, and now he's got to get rid of her or there'll be no way back, not from this not from wanting like this like he wants to so bad like he could lift the car off the highway just from manhood and the plaster saint is gone and the night hum is closing close in and she's singing something in her throat leaning into him, her bra now unhooked and he can't look. Can't not look as she shakes it slowly down off her shoulders. And this is what your stupid face looks like in this mirror right now back home finally... caught. Caitlin came back early and found out and there's nothing but the note on the table and he's caught, and the face in the mirror in the bathroom is all red and streaky, crying like a little girl, Miller, Christ, this is what your stupid face really looks like in this mirror right now. God damn you with all the fumes of the night's shall we say imbibing rising up around his head like the ghost of sanity the halo of all he used to know and there you are looking back at me, god damn you, sick pale busted face.

6S - C1

Michael Wright is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Creative Writing at the University of Tulsa, with joint appointments in Theatre and Film Studies. He is the founder and moderator of the Fictional Characters writers collective. His books include Playwriting at Work and Play: Developmental Programs and Their Processes, Playwriting Master Class, Playwriting in Process, and the Monologues for Men by Men series, co-edited with Gary Garrison. His plays, poems, fiction, and photography have appeared in The Elvis Monologues, Scenes and Monologues for Mature Actors, Monologues from the Road, Rio Grande Review, Voces Fronterizas and the Moondance Film Festival in 2004 and 2005. His short story "Twig" was published by 5th Story Review in September 2006. "Miller in Bathrooms" is a fragment of a story of the same title.

New Orleans Aftermath

by Teresa Tumminello Brader

The day was warm - much warmer than it should’ve been - even though the sky hung heavy with dark clouds. The downed trees, the gaps where they once were, the missing shade - she noticed these things after the shock of the other changes had worn off some. The massive roots of the surviving trees buckled the sidewalk, those knotty lumps existing for as long as she could remember. The sun emerged from behind the gray clouds, and she squinted. When the clouds slipped back into place, the momentary brilliance gone, she gazed up at the live oaks that had endured. She was reminded that leaves don't change colors here: they are green, and then they fall.

6S - C1

Teresa Tumminello Brader, author of Going Back to College, was born in New Orleans and lives in the area still. Her short fiction can be found at Rumble and The Flask Review.


by Jack Swenson

I am on Highway 50 just past The Summit, when I am forced off the winding road by an oncoming driver who has chosen to pass other cars that are climbing the grade. When my vehicle comes to a halt, it is hanging over the edge of a steep ravine; the car is teetering, about to lose its precarious moorings. I fling open the driver's side door and make a leap for the side of the mountain as the car topples into the abyss. I wake up on the floor by the side of the bed. I have a bump on my forehead and a cut inside my mouth; I can taste the blood. The following day I look at my reflection in the mirror and admire the rainbow of colors and wonder why they make beds that are so far off the ground.

6S - C1

Jack Swenson teaches creative writing at a Senior Center and spends most his spare time writing. His wife thinks he should be working in the yard. Check out his books at iUniverse and Amazon.

Nothing to Say

by Kellie Jo

I sit down to write something provocative by using only six sentences, but, alas, the blank page I've become screams nothing. Yet, I know some thing lurks, waiting to destroy, in the dark Technicolor flashes – possessed by a muffled voice and a faceless torso with large hands placed over my tiny mouth. Be quiet and listen. Ollie Ollie oxen free! No, it isn't safe yet. Simon says that it isn’t time.

6S - C1

Kellie Jo has been writing for a long time but has just started taking it seriously. She recently received an honorable mention in a flash fiction contest.

A Number of Senses

by Pat Tompkins

Latin sex and Greek hex are the parents of six. Sentence, cousin to sense, is not just a grammatical unit. Rooted in feeling and opinion is the sentence a judge pronounces to punish a criminal. Sentimental and sentient suggest a softer sentence. Mathematicians, logicians, and musicians compose sentences with numbers and symbols. In other words, six sentences contain paragraphs of possibilities.

6S - C1

Pat Tompkins is an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Mslexia, flashquake, Astropoetica, red lights, and other publications.

On the Bus

by Rod Drake

Climbing onto the Number 7 bus near Columbus in North Beach, I was surprised to see Jack Kerouac riding it, eating a greasy hamburger and humming contentedly to himself, sitting alone in the back, newspapers spread out all over his lap. I said surprised because Jack had been dead for 38 years now, yet he looked as fresh and full of energy as he must have in his prime, back in the early 1950s, when he was the voice of the beat generation. The bus took off with a jerk, and I wobbled my way through the bus, dropping down into a seat next to him. I pulled out a tattered, much-read copy of On the Road and flashed it at him; he spoke not a word, but grinned at me like a madman, and nodded, apparently acknowledging our brotherhood on the road, or on the bus as it where. I had a million questions to ask him, not the least of which was how he could possibly be here, alive, young again, riding the city bus like any regular San Francisco commuter. Just as I started to ask all those burning questions, Jack jumped up, swung down into the bus’s stairwell exit, turned back to wink knowingly at me and then got off at the intersection of Experience Avenue and Eternity Boulevard.

6S - C1

Rod Drake, author of Making a Point, has been a technical writer, a corporate communications writer, a copywriter, a website content writer, a documentation writer, but enjoys being a fiction writer the best. Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward and MicroHorror.

The Paris Hilton Conundrum

by Joseph Ridgwell

Whatever way Stevie looked at it, his friends imprisonment by the powers that be didn't make sense and wasn't fair. Bobby O had been sentenced to nine months for stealing a pair of jeans, and was now banged up for twenty-three hours a day in the countries most notorious young offenders institution. Just yesterday his old man had been moaning about a city whiz kid who had defrauded a bank out of millions, but got let off with a suspended jail sentence. His old man said that white-collar crime was never dealt with in the same way as blue-collar crime. Stevie had had to ask his old man to explain the white-collar blue-collar thing, but once he had grasped the concept he could see that his dad was dead right. Then his dad mentioned Bobby O and said a strange thing, he said that if Bobby O came from a rich, upper class, or well-to-do middle class family he wouldn't even be in prison.

6S - C1

Joseph Ridgwell, author of The Drifter, lives and writes in London.

The Princess and the Run-On Sentence

by Gerri Leen

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there was a princess who was not beautiful, graceful, or any of the good-fairy-inspired attributes so prized by charming princes or knights in shining armor (fortunately she didn't have any bad-fairy-inspired qualities, either, so she will not turn out to be the villain of this piece. To be honest, there is no villain of this piece, because villains are just a way out for a writer who doesn't want to do her job of making characters complex enough to sympathize/empathize with, while at the same time making us wince as they do bad things for good reasons, or good things but for the wrong reasons, or kind of good things for not very well defined reasons. Actually, a character should always be defined enough so we understand their motivations, unlike our princess here, who is burdened only with character traits she doesn't have, and is so bland she is boring the crap out of her author who runs off on these nonessential tangents and jumps the barrier between fiction and whining just so she doesn't have to write about her anymore. Right - so let's start over.) Once upon a time, in the city of Dubuque, there was this girl who could have been a princess if she'd been born royal and in a fairy tale, but she wasn't; so she was more the kind of girl who will graduate with great grades and elude the fast-food destiny of her peers by going to a very good school, earning many degrees, and getting a prestigious job with a nice retirement package in a company with a good record of promoting women. When the handsome non-princes show up, they will ask her how she likes her coffee, and she will tell them in the nicest way possible because she knows what it's like to be an administrative peon - or at least she's heard about it from her cousin back home - that she likes it with cream and a little sugar, and then one of the boys will ask her out (she will gently decline the offer, and he will go away and fall in love with a milkmaid or a goose girl or maybe the little match girl, but our non-princess will go right on upping her tax bracket and making sure she will live happily ever after).

6S - C1

Gerri Leen lives in Northern Virginia and originally hails from Seattle. Her stories have appeared in Fusion Fragment, Mytholog, The First Line, and three of the Strange New Worlds anthologies. Her work has also been accepted by the Sails & Sorcery anthology, Renard's Menagerie, Shred of Evidence, GrendelSong, and the Fantastical Visions V anthology.

Reach For It

by Harry B. Sanderford

Julie made her living getting shot three times a day at Six Gun Territory. Scooter always warned Sherriff Handsome just before Julie got the drop on him and the Sheriff would always wheel, firing up above the saloon where Julie would clutch her breast and stumble off the roof right into the horse trough. Julie understood folks expected to see the sheriff shoot the bad guy and taking a dive at a horse trough sure beat danglin' on the end of a rope. All in all Julie liked her job but like most folks, you could say she had some regrets. She never rode off into the sunset like a real cowpoke, never once got to leap her horse from a moving boxcar or pull her kerchief up over her face and pester the law abiding depositers of some unsuspecting First Bank and most of all, Julie never, ever, got to kiss Viola Softerkisses the resident rodeo sweetheart. She wasn't giving up entirely on being the one to get the girl though, at today's 3:00 show Julie was shooting that loud-mouth Scooter.

6S - C1

Harry B. Sanderford, author of Swine Actor's Guild, is a Central Florida surfing cowboy who'd sooner spin yarns than mend fences.

Shaping Atonement

by Ian Rochford

It’s interesting how the shape of a person’s life can begin in such a smooth curve and end in a jagged peak, a short gust of terror at gunpoint followed by the great plunge into oblivion. I had hunted him through the square, carved canyons of six cities, but it was on the backroads near my home that I found him, on the old roads running out into the ancient places. The roads here aren’t hacked into the land, they follow its contours - they are laid in place, like the towns and villages, and the few incisions made to accommodate them have long healed over, the scars smoothed by the obliterating flow of time. As he dug into that peaceful field where we boys had played together, he sobbed, saying he always knew I would find him, and he had come back to die in the only place where he had ever been loved. I told him the wrong that he had done should be expiated in the place where it was wrought; his grave would occupy the same soil that had absorbed my brother’s blood so many years ago, blood that was on his hands. Perhaps then the scar on my heart would also heal, though somehow I doubted it.

6S - C1

Ian Rochford is an unemployed Australian screenwriter (ostensibly of comedy) who recently rediscovered the pleasures of writing short stories. He is now plundering his fading memory for all the good ideas that came and went unrecorded, which probably accounts for the maddening inconsistency of his output.

The Shore

by Angela Theresa Pitt

The sun beats down, warming the sand oozing between my toes. The ocean advances and retreats in a timeless rhythm, taking as it gives. Gulls cry from on high, their wings spread against the wind, gliding gracefully in an age-old dance. Ocean sprays kiss my face, as gentle as a lover's breath and I close my eyes, giving myself up to it. Soft breezes caress me as I raise my arms as if to take flight. I look to the horizon and dream of possibilities.

6S - C1

Angela Theresa Pitt, who graduated magna cum laude from culinary school in 2000, has work posted on MyCookingBlog under the name "angelheart."

Small Family

by Chris Conroy

The bugs are biting my ankles and Paris Hilton is talking to Larry King. This is what he’s thinking when the phone rings. It’s his brother from Iraq asking how Mom is, how he can’t seem to get a hold of her. She’s good he tells his brother, she’s dating some big - wig and driving around with the top down, the radio on, revisiting her hippie days, Mom. He says goodbye to his brother - stay alive he says - and opens the blinds. It starts to rain.

6S - C1

Chris Conroy, author of Newton's Law, writes after breakfast and before lunch.

Stage One

by Dodge Reid

To stay the silence, I sing to my plants. I turn on the t.v. and leave the room. I listen to NPR. I don’t hang up on telemarketers. I open the windows to let in the sounds of the city. I keep my life loud, because when it is quiet my thoughts drift to you.

6S - C1

Dodge Reid enjoys writing. So she writes.


by Unknown User

The brilliant sunlight shone down and assaulted my senses with its golden, copper radiance. Everything stopped; the cars, the pedestrians; all human movement halted. People paused and watched as its intense glow spread across and conquered the sky. The sounds of sobbing and prayer increased and reverberated through the air. People said their goodbyes and clutched their loved ones tightly. The light increased to a blinding intensity and the end came.

6S - C1

Unknown User is a computer geek, science fiction writer and humorist. She has won college creative writing contests and has been published in college writing journals. A great deal of her humor is published on her website. Like many of her kind, her cat owns her soul.


by Cherry Homer

"Being bloody Superman ain't all it's cracked up to be, you know! The first ten years or so are ok, but then you're relegated to saving kittens from trees 'cause some new kid's out saving the damsels in distress. I mean, you'd think the humiliation of having to wear spandex would be enough, wouldn't you? But oh, no, the damned stuff chafes as well. And don't even get me started on prank call-outs. God, I hate my job!"

6S - C1

Cherry Homer has been writing since she was thirteen (so that's... six years now).


by Margery Daw

We were headed directly towards [ _ _ _ _ _ ] when we realized we needed not to be. We would have to divert not only ourselves, but also our [ _ _ _ _ _ ] - a force vastly more powerful. We were additionally hampered by our own [ _ _ _ _ _ ]. It was far too late to [ _ _ _ _ _ ]. We were about to find out: what were we made of? [the cliff / the iceberg / war / marriage / an affair • horse / ship / elected officials / society's expectations / attractive coworker • bad leg / bad arm / conflicted loyalties / emotionally deprived childhood / libido • jump / radio for help / recommend a diplomatic solution / call off the engagement / get out of the car]

6S - C1

Margery Daw, author of How to Not Get Killed, is a pseudonym and part of a nursery rhyme.

They Call Me Elijah

by T.J. McIntyre

They call me Elijah. Ravens flock around me like a writhing thunderhead, circling like a twister into the cloudy night sky. Their caws echo across the cavern; their beaks shine in the moonlight. They bring me food so that I might live and spread the Word. Although I have spent most of my life in solitude they say the masses will remember me. I stare up into the night sky looking for visions but get distracted by an airplane overhead.

6S - C1

T.J. McIntyre is an author of speculative and literary fiction from Alabaster, Alabama. An insurance agent by day, he spends his free time trying to capture imaginary worlds and daydreams in nets of words. His work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in such publications as The Swallow's Tail, 55 Words, and Escape Velocity. In addition to being a being a published author, Mr. McIntyre is currently collecting stories and editing the upcoming title, Southern Fried Weirdness 2007: An Annual Anthology of Southern Speculative Fiction. More information about him, his writings, and the anthology can be found at Southern Fried Weirdness.

3 Good Reasons to Lie to Children

by MK Laughlin

Benjamin Cottage, age eleven, lay dying in an oncology ward, surrounded by his family, who did not want to let him go. A millionaire scheduled for liposuction in the same hospital heard about Ben and offered to grant him a final wish. “His favorite movie is Jaws,” sobbed Mrs. Cottage, “and it’s always been his dream to meet a member of the cast — is this something you could arrange on short notice?” The millionaire made some calls but received no answer from Hollywood, so with time running out he improvised as best he could. “Look at this, Ben,” he said, guiding an elderly Little Person into Ben’s hospital room, “this guy right here was in the movie — he was the stunt double for Richard Dreyfuss during the shark cage scene... Spielberg was very sneaky don’t you see... he wanted the shark to look bigger, so he made the actor look smaller!” This lie had three results: 1) Ben Cottage died a happy little boy in the company of his family, his benefactor, and the kindly LP who worked in the hospital parking garage, 2) the millionaire felt so good about himself that he cancelled his liposuction, booked a cruise, and strutted around on deck with no shirt on, and 3) the Little Person, reminded of his own unfulfilled goals, decided to pursue a lifelong dream: scuba-diving in Australia, which he’d avoided up to that point due to an intense fear of Great White Sharks.

6S - C1

MK Laughlin, author of Zombies, spends too much time watching old movies.

Tourist Trap

by Rebecca Jane

Balthazar "Old Bull" Orfanelli, our quick-fisted leader, decided to abandon the usual tricks we play on tourists in favor of a sick joke whose punch line could incite either mass panic or mass laughter, depending on where the visitors come from. Our past swindles included picking pockets, running off with cameras when an unsuspecting couple asked us to help them shoot a photo, or giving Seniors' travel groups bum directions to Times Square. Now, Old Bull removes a smuggled stogie from his chops and releases a purple plume that sends us all into fits, coughing; furtively, Old Bull assures us that we're ready to pull off a high stakes confidence game, and so he instructs us to lure all the tourists who pass through Strawberry Fields by informing them of a trendy must-see spot — New York's secret Whip-Tease-Kissing-Booth-Cultural-Wonder-Booby-Trap Expo; however, only the boldest, most curious tourists can attend, and they must agree to be escorted to the site blindfolded. Just when we win these tourists' trust, we are to lead them on a walk uptown to an abandoned high school once open to pregnant teens until the state closed down all such schools because these Institutions for the Knocked-Up turned out students who performed far worse than their peers at regular high schools where the teachers say with pride, "our babies aren't expecting babies;" but, if you ask one favorite member of our task force, Marla Swarthmore Peabody — who is twenty seven weeks and pissed off because they'll give her plenty of vaginal exams but no Regents Exams, nor will any mainstream public school welcome a girl who's showing — she'll tell you she reads at the sixth grade level, "…which is more than they can say for most NYC P.S. grads!" Anyway, phase two of Old Bull's big con involves locking the blindfolded tourists in the former school building with all the Gray's Papaya they can eat and all the champagne they can drink and forcing them to listen to Paris Hilton's 2006 pop hit, "Stars are Blind" over and over on loudspeakers; we wait for the NYPD to declare a hostage crisis and then negotiate a deal in which we handover our bloated captives on the condition that the U.S. Congress agrees to pump more government money into a project to install a global positioning system between Paris Hilton's breasts so that we can all get our skewed bearings straight as they were back when Ralph Macchio was a teen idol (imagine where we would have installed a GPS on that beloved Karate Kid)! If the tourists-cum-hostages are from any place other than the American Midwest, they'll probably laugh the whole thing off when Congress approves our spending bill, and we set the poor bastards free; yes, this event promises to fly off the proverbial meat rack, so keep up with our intrigue by staying tuned to Fox News; it's Old Bull's hope we get our own HBO series and call it "Tours Gone Wild."

6S - C1

Rebecca Jane writes fiction.

The Vanished

by The Wandering Author

There was a famous colony in the old days on Earth that vanished. Their supply ship was late, and when it did return, no one was there, just one word no one could understand carved into a tree. So when our ship carried the first load of colonists out to settle the first inhabitable planet, everyone knew something like that could happen sooner or later. But, mysterious as the disappearance of that ancient colony must have been, our experience is worse than anything those sailors could have dreamed of, even while sleeping restlessly amidst the ruins of an abandoned colony. On our third trip out with more settlers and supplies, we had to stay in orbit while we made emergency repairs. We returned to Earth, just a few months late, and found the airwaves quiet, the great stations empty and silent, the lights of the huge cities below extinguished, and every outpost we could reach abandoned, all with no hint of what went wrong.

6S - C1

The Wandering Author has devoted most of his life to date to writing, printing, and publishing. His other interests are usually dictated by research for some story or other. Despite a truly notable lack of fame, money, or awards to show for his efforts, Wandering remains convinced he is a writer. He is so sure that, even if no publisher would ever consider his work and no other reader ever value it, he would keep writing for the joy of it. Despite this attitude, he does have devoted readers, all six of whom are sure his stuff is better than cereal boxes when they're desperate for reading matter. His true genius, of course, will only be recognised after his death, while his subtle humour may always elude most readers.

The Wrong Idea

by Dawn Corrigan

It seems a shame to go through life with a wrong idea, so I set about trying to correct them wherever I encountered them. No, surpressing your libido isn't the better part of morality. Goodness does too exist, and is worth fighting for. Carrying a torch for someone you can't have isn't romantic, it's a waste of your bloody time. Atheism leads more surely to a sense of sanctity than religion, because only if you imagine this as the last and only life we'll have do you begin to treat the breath of others with the tenderness it deserves. But then I remembered: no one likes a know-it-all.

6S - C1

Dawn Corrigan is the author of An Interrupted Meeting. Her fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at VerbSap, Pindeldyboz, Monkeybicycle, The Dream People, Rumble, 55 Words, Defenestration, and 3711 Atlantic. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown.