Swimming Lessons

By Liam Hogan in Issue Six, September 2022

She came to me on the high tide of a spring storm. I was embarrassed that my uncle's cottage, quivering in the bared teeth of the gale, was not as tidy as perhaps it could have been, nor as homely. And I had nothing to share except half of yesterday's loaf and the better part of a bottle of cheap wine, drunk from a pair of mismatched tankards.

She seemed content enough, sitting before the roaring fire that every so often twirled and fluttered in time to a low moan from the stout chimney, out of the rain that drummed in waves on the slate roof. I'd asked her if she wanted to take off the grey, fur coat that cloaked her from neck to foot, but she demurred. “Not yet, Patrick,” she said. “Perhaps when I am warmer?”

You Hope, Through Shivers and Sweat

By Elou Carroll in Issue Five, July 2022

Come, come, say his hands as he leads you through the foyer, nothing to light his way but a dusting of blinking ghost lamps. His coat, a long affair with too many pockets, pirouettes about his legs as he twists and turns. Come and see what I have just for you.

And here in the dark with shining eyes and his grin reflected in your spectacles, you believe him. You’ve read about him: a connoisseur of oddities, a collector of dreams and nightmares...

We, Downtown

By D.K. Lawhorn in Issue Five, July 2022

Conquest rides into our neighborhood on the supple leather seat of a block-long limousine that his driver parks next to a mostly dead jalopy. The seams of his finely tailored suit are close to bursting, his massive frame fighting hard to break free of its cloth restraints. The cigar resting in the corner of his mouth never grows any shorter or longer, but remains an eternal, slobber-covered nub. In his hand he clutches the deed to the factory that has been boarded up for longer than any of us downtowners have been alive. He promises us jobs through pearly white teeth and a millionaire’s sneer. And when the factory is billowing black smoke and filling the river with sludge once more, we flood through the doors and take what little he offers us.

Vinyl Wisdom

By P.A. Cornell in Issue Five, July 2022

Whenever I’d ask John how old he was, he’d tell me he was “born in ’75, same year as the Sex Pistols.” Not that this answered my question since I wasn’t sure what year it was and the old-timers didn’t seem interested in stuff like that. All I knew is he was old. Old as fuck, probably. And I guessed I was somewhere in my twenties, though I couldn’t be sure since John was my only family and he didn’t know when I’d been born.

Whatever age he was, it hadn’t slowed him down. He still got up every day to scavenge the old town with me in search of stuff we could use back at the trailer park. Cans of food maybe, medication, and of course, the odd punk album. Not that we’d had much luck today, I thought, staring at the handful of disposable razors and single jar of pickled beets we’d come back with.

The Book Club at the End of the World

By Elizabeth Zuckerman in Issue Five, July 2022

“What was it like to come back?” you ask at book club, almost three months since regular meetings started. You’re not quite sure if you’re ready to talk about this; you are sure that if you don’t, you’ll explode. Still, it’s very personal, or at least it was for you: coming out of the weightless, thoughtless lack of self to a withered meadow full of red poppies and crumbled stones, how old your hands looked and how young they felt, turning your head and seeing your husband asleep in the dead grass next to you. He’s younger than you this time; girls in their twenties side-eye the two of you on date nights. Ereshkigal snorts when you mention that, but you recognize it as the friendly snort and don’t choke off your words like you used to before you went away, before any of you knew there would be a coming back.


By Brandon Crilly in Issue Five, July 2022

Spotting a seven-foot-tall construct in an open-air market should have been easy.

Kenli scurried between stone workshops and rattling wind towers, hoping not to draw the attention of his fellow crafters. Most hadn’t risen yet, even on the morning of Reconnection, but lights shone through the occasional curtain. If anyone noticed him out in his bedclothes and sandals, he’d find out how little patience they had left.

Especially since they had been right all along: finding that intact construct had been too lucky. It had wandered off twice already, thankfully without damaging anything. Tweaking its sigils after hadn’t helped either, though there was a lot about the old magics Kenli didn’t know. He must have missed some hairline scratch, or maybe one of the sigils he couldn’t decipher was at fault. With Reconnection looming he’d spent more time preparing his wares, and now that would cost him.

Heart of My Heart, Soul of My Soul

By Jelena Dunato in Issue Four, May 2022

When Maryeta and the baby died, I thought I’d never love again. The world was a thick grey haze through which I moved with effort. I performed my duties, but I watched myself as if from outside, a pale stranger with a golden crown receiving foreign emissaries, hunting in the woods, dancing with pretty daughters of ambitious nobles.

I wasn’t old, but I felt like it. The whole weight of the world on my shoulders and no one to share it with. My advisors nudged me to marry again: after all, a king needs heirs. But I had Steffon, my golden-haired boy, with his mother’s hazel eyes and shy smile. He was enough.


By Rebecca Angelo in Issue Four, May 2022

“My name is Clark, and I am a recovering criminal,” I say to my support officer, whom I report to every quarter here on the station near Proxima Centauri. My job in communications at the terraforming office is supposed to make me regret ever dealing in the black market back on Gaia-canth. It's not having that effect.

My subordinate, Dyann, arrives early to offer their report. I think they actually enjoy their life out here in the middle of nowhere. They’re so passionate about everything—prisoner rights, human rights, rehabilitation—it's close to infuriating. I'm just here to do my stupid job, do my stupid time, and get back to Earth.


By Atreyee Gupta in Issue Four, May 2022

I eat silence. It tastes lonely and bitter alongside ma’s watery yam casserole as it serrates speech from my tongue. In thirty years I haven’t learned how to digest this aching abyss. I turtle into my eight-year-old self, wondering: what aren’t ma and baba saying? Is the silence punishment for my inadequacy? No matter how I iterate myself, the recipe fails. Untethering from home, I’ve discarded my native language, abandoned the gods, adopted cutlery. Yet the minute I cross their threshold, artifice, concealment, and placation cloak my intentions.

Focal Point

By Elise Stephens in Issue Four, May 2022

Her world was gone, like a night sky stripped of moon and stars.

“They told me you fell,” Hilf whispered from the bedside. “That you tripped down the stairs from your studio and after that you didn’t look into their eyes.” His voice deepened. “Why didn’t you let them fetch a doctor?”

Her husband hadn’t removed his riding coat in his rush to see her, and she could smell the wet wool as she sat up and opened her eyes. As before, the darkness remained. Blind. Had she seen Hilf’s kind green eyes for the final time?