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Far From Regis Station by Ilan Lerman

Far From Regis Station by Ilan Lerman

Far From Regis Station
by Ilan Lerman

It’s so peaceful at Regis Station. The only sounds are the wind whipping across the tundra and my own breathing.

I didn’t think I’d like it out here. The solitude. The lack of stimulus. Some people have to have another person around to keep them straight. For me, it’s another extreme experience, like bungy-jumping in Queenstown, or skydiving over Monterey Bay. Instead of the adrenaline rush of freefall, it’s an opportunity to confront the unknown.

Larry dropped me off here in the ATV three hours ago. He should be over halfway back to McKinlay Station by now. He was the only one of the Grise Fjord Inuit who would drive me out here. Not one of the McKinlay scientists would do it. Bloody cowards.

Larry’s a jovial sort. Always smiling with those splintered, yellow teeth of his. He likes to crack jokes and tell stories about his family, but he didn’t say a word for the entire three-hour drive out to Regis Station.

“Bye, Chris,” was all he managed after he helped lug the crate of supplies in and refuelled. Then he was gone, the rumble of his ATV quickly swallowed by the vast, mountainous landscape of Ellesmere Island. See you in a week, Larry.

As research stations go, Regis is pretty basic. They designed it for two, but I’m glad I’m on my own as the bunks are crammed together and the wash facilities are rudimentary. There is enough workbench space to carry out some simple research, but it was only ever meant to be a short-stay camp to visit the Regis-Bell locality. A low, meandering river cuts down from the plateau behind me through extensive patches of purple saxifrage.

The generator didn’t take long to fire up, considering the length of time since it was last used. There’s plenty of spare fuel, a rifle and my radio in case of emergencies. Pascal gave me the drill on polar bears for the third time before I left. Never startle a bear. No shit, Pascal.

There’s nothing to be afraid of. Bears are incredibly rare this far inland and, according to Pascal and the others, are the least of my worries. Despite having the licences sorted and the time booked far in advance, I practically had to beg to be allowed out here on my own. Pascal wouldn’t have it on his conscience, not after the history of this place. Nothing scares me, though. No amount of campfire ghost-story tactics are going to come between me and completing my damn PHD thesis. *** Read on! ***

What We Were by Gregory Leunig

What We Were by Gregory Leunig

What We Were
by Gregory Leunig

When the last ship vanished into the sky, afterburners flickering briefly in the dense black cloud ceiling that shrouded our world, there were fires. There were more of us then, and we poured angry through the streets, a human pyroclastic flow, burning indiscriminately. There were Molotov-on-car fires, one or two apartment buildings set fire, dumpster fires. One guy, someone’s kid brother, set fire to himself in the streets like that Buddhist monk so many years ago. The monk, if you believe the writers from back then, never made a sound while he burned. The kid brother screamed, long and loud.

It was a time of fires, when they left us, but there was never a fire like this.

We don’t know who began building the pyre. One day, one of us noticed an olive green sofa, the kind you buy because you know the color will conceal the mold when it eventually grows moldy. This one had journeyed well past that phase of its existence; it stank of ancient urine and beer. We found it in a field facing the city. Some of us sat in it and watched as the generators gradually died and the lights in the buildings that comprised our meager skyline went out by sections. The reality show of us, live broadcast.

Not too long after, there was an expensive-looking leather recliner, piled on top of the sofa, and a jug of gasoline sitting nearby. We found John, who always wore suit jackets and ties even after the last ship left, standing there and looking through the sofa and chair. His black blazer too clean for the end of the world, his arms folded, five years of beard growth obscuring his face and spilling over onto his tie. We never asked, but we knew the recliner was his, and the gasoline. *** Read on! ***

Denmark by Mitch Edgeworth

August 29, 2014 Science Fiction 6 Comments
Denmark by Mitch Edgeworth

Denmark
by Mitch Edgeworth

After Lisa died I left the city. Had to get out. Just sat in my car and drove. I was going to York where my mother and stepfather lived, almost subconsciously, but I realised just as I was clearing the outer suburbs that I’d only find more death and silence and that I didn’t really want to go to York at all. So I turned out on a side road and drove through the forest and the national park and found myself at Mundaring Weir. A caravan park, chalets and cottages scattered across a grassy slope leading down to the water where black swans waddled through the reeds. I’ve been here ever since. A roof over my head, plenty of drinking water, the Coles at Kalamunda not too far away for food. The basic needs of a human being are really very simple.

The view from the verandah is nice. The sweeping crescent of the lake, the gum trees pressing in on it from all sides, the purity and silence of the hills. There’s a swinging lawn chair on the verandah where I can sit and look out over the water. There were bodies in some of the chalets but I dragged them out and burned them in a pile. This one was empty so this is the one where I sleep.

In the first few weeks there were other people, or signs of people at least. A plane, a Lear jet, glinting in the sunlight as it banked out of the airport and flew east. A four-wheel drive on the road running past the lake. A sedan not long after. Nobody came out here.

Every single day I look at the knives in the kitchen drawer or the pills in the pharmacy next to Coles and I think about it. I would have done it by now if I was going to but I still can’t get it out of my head.

All of the cars have died as well – flat batteries, expired fuel – but I have a bicycle with a little trailer. It belonged to a Swiss couple in one of the other chalets who were cycling around Australia. I know that because I looked at their passports and flicked through her journal before putting their bodies on the pyre. They flew in to Perth from Dubai and were going to go counter-clockwise around the country. Barely even got started. I burned the journal along with their bodies. I can’t put millions of bodies to rest but I wasn’t going to let these ones sit around rotting next door to me.

I never went back for Lisa’s body. I can’t anymore obviously. *** Read on! ***

Jimmy by Renee Marie Philomena Therese Kray

June 30, 2014 Paranormal 5 Comments
Jimmy by Renee Marie Philomena Therese Kray

Jimmy
by Renee Marie Philomena Therese Kray

The moon shouldn’t be so bright when you’re dead.

I’ve been dead for thirty whole years, much longer than my entire life on earth. Throughout that time, I’ve found that almost nothing bothers me as much as the fact that the closest I can ever get to seeing the sun again is looking at the cold light of its opposite.

Before I died, my name had been Jimmy. It’s a name that many other people shared with me, but it had also been uniquely mine. No other name could have fit me so well; no other name could have described my sandy brown hair, big smile, and love of having fun. My name was me. Now my name is just five letters carved into a cold piece of stone, forgotten and uncared for in a corner of an overgrown garden.

The stone doesn’t even show where I really am, because my parents never found me. That’s ironic, considering how what’s left of my bones is actually buried right near the garden where my gravestone now is. They were put there, in that shallow hole in the forest ground, by the man who stole me from my world. I don’t even know why he did it, he just did. He viciously separated me from my life, attacking me with a huge knife that glinted in the moonlight as he raised it over my body again and again.

It’s still something that I don’t like to remember, even now.

My parents used to own this land, all twenty acres of it, and I lived there happily until that man pushed me away into this cold misty world, where I have been stuck ever since. Here there is no sense of feeling and there is no one to talk to. Everything is hazy, as if I’m stuck in a fog that will never lift. The only thing that can part the fog is the sun, but it is so bright that it blinds me and I have to hide. When the moon rises to once again mock me with its cold glow, the only light I can bear now, I rise with it. *** Read on! ***

Dark Refrain by Alexis A. Hunter

November 30, 2013 Paranormal 10 Comments
Dark Refrain by Alexis A. Hunter

Dark Refrain
by Alexis A. Hunter

I get a letter from my brother every day. He’s been dead for seventeen years.

The first one came the day after his funeral. A dozen pastel envelopes packed the mailbox — condolences from family and friends who couldn’t make it to the service. I clutched these piles of empty words and tucked my head down against the drizzling rain. It peppered the back of my neck, a cold kiss that made me hunch my shoulders up further.

As I stepped onto the porch, a gust of wind snatched away his letter and it stuck against the railing. A single white envelope. So plain. Abnormally small…

…and so achingly familiar.

The condolence cards flipped to the wet grass and lay forgotten. My fingers found the coarse white envelope and gripped it tight. I could not tear my gaze from his name in the upper left corner: PFC Michael E. Colt.

I fought to breathe. My world spun. I sank to the porch, my back pressed against the railing’s wet boards.

His last letter. His last words.

But the date on the envelope read September 5th. It had been mailed the day after the officers came in their dress uniforms to tell us the news.

Trembling fingers. Hunched over the letter to shelter it from the drizzle, I worked slowly to avoid tearing the rain-splotched paper. A furtive glance toward the front door. Mom was asleep. She’d been sleeping a lot since my brother died.

Thin sheet paper. I could still see the outlines of his scrawled handwriting tucked between the folds. I used to tease him — told him that he wrote like a five year old. I brought the paper to my nose and inhaled. Mildew and sand. Or maybe that’s just how I imagined it.

I unfolded the pages.

        Ann,
        Sorry I haven’t responded to your last letter…

I dragged my gaze from his words to the date he’d written near my name: September 4.
*** Read on! ***

Eudon by Sean Eads

October 22, 2013 Fantasy, Horror 2 Comments
Eudon by Sean Eads

Eudon
by Sean Eads

On a spring day in May of 1351, in the village of Castrum Saint Jean, two brothers named Adelard and Henriot saw a boy no older than twelve come from the woods that marked their farmland’s northern border. Henriot saw him first when he stood up to knock dirt clumps from his spade. He rubbed his eyes, because the boy was naked and appeared to be underfed and exhausted.

Such occurrences were not unknown in those hopeful months following the Black Death’s decline. Entire villages had disappeared. One might have encountered the sick, beggared orphan anywhere. Nevertheless Henriot was stunned by what he saw, and without a word he cast down his spade and ran.

Adelard looked up, saw his brother hurrying toward the boy, and followed. At twenty-three, Adelard was older by two years, though more often than not he bowed to Henriot’s judgment.

“You, boy!” Henriot said. “What is your name?”

The brothers stopped within a few feet of the lad, who teetered and fell to his knees. They bent over him in alarm and rested him on the ground. The boy’s breathing was very shallow and his shrunken stomach made a steep slope down from his prominent ribcage.

“He has not eaten in at least a week,” Adelard said.

“Let us bring him into the house.”

Adelard stripped his shirt and wrapped it about the boy, whom Henriot carefully managed over his broad right shoulder. They ran the quarter-mile to their farmhouse, which had belonged to their mother and father before the plague took them the previous year. The boy moaned as if very ill but he ate the bread they gave him and drank several glasses of water. Then he smiled and looked up at them. *** Read on! ***

Everything, All At Once, Forever by Michael Wehunt

June 30, 2013 Horror 13 Comments
Everything, All At Once, Forever by Michael Wehunt

Everything, All at Once, Forever
by Michael Wehunt

It seems to rain every time she visits David’s grave. Petra drips a trail from the bus stop into the house and stands in the kitchen, in those empty hours until dark. She picks at leftovers in front of the television until the gravy on the meatloaf thickens into jelly.

She has heard of people following their spouses into the earth. Dying from a broken heart after a lifetime of companionship seems so full of romance. But Petra just keeps going on, she doesn’t know why. She sits with eleven months of dust on her skin. Later, there is thin sleep, David’s smell a little fainter in his pillow each night. She has to breathe deep to get to it.

And waiting each morning is a new set of hours to fill. Her hands won’t allow her much gardening, but still some mornings she rakes them through the earth to collect clods of dirt beneath her nails. She’ll lay outfits across the bed, a dress for herself and one of David’s dark suits. She fusses over which of his ties to fold along the breast.

Through each piece of routine the hole in her life tiptoes behind like a shadow tapping her shoulder. Late in the morning she takes the bus into town and drifts through barnlike antique shops filled with things she can no longer adore. Even the joy of looking has left her and she is left with simply the familiar movement of her body.

At last the fourth in this cluster of shops is exhausted, and she along with it. She is about to pass back into the day, the clouds of minutes, when she sees her husband standing on a shelf behind the cash register, the suit she buried him in as sharp as it was the distant spring day he bought it in Essex. She stands frozen by the door until two women brush by and set her into motion.

Halfway there she can see it is not David, of course, but a doll. It stands not more than half her height, its polished Oxfords affixed to a wooden base with an inviting red button recessed between them. But it has his face. Petra was with David when the heart attack struck. She recognizes the wrenched-open mouth, the eyes that bulged in agony behind his spectacles. That very face has been captured in molded rubber. *** Read on! ***

Frost by William Meikle

April 15, 2013 Fantasy 2 Comments
Frost by William Meikle

Frost
By William Meikle

And don’t come out until I say so.

The cold emotionless voice spoke through the thin wood of the door which rattled on its hinges as it slammed. Billy Morrison was left in the cold and the dark and the quiet. Again.

He listened as his father stomped back downstairs, the steps vibrating through the floors, sending shock waves through Billy’s buttocks and thighs as he began to push himself off the floor.

I’ll bet he’s going to sit in front of the telly all night, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. That’s all he’s good for. I hate him.

He immediately covered his mouth with both hands. Even though it was the truth, he had no wish to be overheard. He’d made that mistake before, and that time he’d ended up having to be kept out of school for a week – “Suffering from a touch of flu” his mother, who had still been around at the time, had said. It was a funny sort of flu, which gave you black and blue bruises all over your body and made you pee blood for days afterwards.

He rubbed his upper arm, inspecting the large white finger imprints which blossomed there, now slowly filling up red. Using only his fingertips he pushed at the inflamed area, lightly, until the pain came. This time everything was okay. There was only a dull ache, not the bright pain of a broken bone.

Billy had just passed his ninth birthday and already had too much experience with hospitals and plaster casts. He had lost count of the number of times he had ‘fallen down stairs’ or ‘walked into doors’, or ‘slipped in the bath’. When the doctors, and then the social workers, and then the police had asked him about his accidents, he had gone along with his parents’ story. His friend Tommy had told him that you don’t get to heaven if you tell tales, and Billy would have dearly loved to go to heaven. ***Read on!***

Red Letter Day by Tim Reed

Red Letter Day by Tim Reed

Red Letter Day
by Tim Reed

Today will be a Red Letter day. After writing the title, John smiled grimly and added the following sentence: And that is a deliberate term—red denotes blood and we all know the power of letters, when put into words.

“And what dreadful words will bring on the apocalypse?” He chuckled—a touch madly—and looked at his surroundings, half-expecting a horror to enter at any moment. But he was alone in his shack, hiding in the darkness, back to the kitchen wall.

On his lap lay his diary. The diary—intended to document the past, present and possible future to anyone sane enough to find it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t think of anything positive to write—in other words, no lies—so he began with the truth, knowing time was running out on his Red Letter day. An hour or two and the tatters of the world would be fed to the wolves.

“And what awful wolves we have summoned.” John shuddered, cursing being privy to knowledge best left in the distant past. Now that the dim time was returning, coming full circle through the sludge of human achievement, part of him welcomed it—it would be a fitting end to humanity’s ignominious reign.

But first, his mind sought the past.

Throughout the twentieth century, and in the early years of the twenty-first, humans craved war…

John broke off, thinking he heard a noise from the study. Cautiously, he rose, holding his breath, but a peek through the door showed that he was alone. Or was he? *** Read on! ***

Baby Bird by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

September 3, 2012 Humor, Science Fiction 13 Comments
Baby Bird by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

Baby Bird
by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

I keep thinking we should have left it to die, you know, rather than do what we did. Seal it back up, let it go wherever it was going, let someone else find it, not us. What wouldn’t I give for it not to have been us. But there we were, limping back from a SNAFU’d mission that had almost bankrupted the government, when up pops ET in a leaky can that needs fixing. From global embarrassments to galactic heroes in one go; we could see the ticker tape and the medals, the books, the films of the books… oh yes, we thought there was a God that day—and that was before we’d even gotten the damn thing out!

Jack and me, we suited up and shimmied over on lines. I remember glancing back to check that Shaz had us covered in case it leapt out and tried to blast us with something. God knows what; the pod was little bigger than a coffin and we hadn’t detected any weaponry but then, what did we know? This thing could have been crammed with homicidal aliens the size of gnats, all tooled up with deadly devices. We chuckled about wrapping the whole thing up in a bin bag and squirting insecticide in there and Shaz mimed thrashing around with a fly swat—Whup! Wallop! Thwack!

But it wasn’t gnats. I got to the pod first, clipped on, braced for Jack’s impact. When he hit, I slid sideways and grabbed at a couple of small protrusions; instinct, you know? Well, it’s a good thing I was tethered, I can tell you, because I let go again pretty damn fast. Right up close to my visor was a viewing plate, and right up close to that was a face. Who knows what it was supposed to look like but it didn’t look good. Its mouth was open and twitching ever so slightly, there were skinny-looking fingers plucking at its throat, and its eyes kept flickering—three eyelids; top, bottom, and one inside the corners, like a cat. I couldn’t see teeth. It looked like it maybe ought to be kinda pink, but it was actually more kinda grey.

I yelled at Jack ‘Get over here!’

‘Oh Sweet Jeez!’ he said. *** Read on! ***

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