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Now that All the Heroes are Dead by David Tallerman

May 4, 2017 Fantasy No Comments
Now that All the Heroes are Dead by David Tallerman

Now that All the Heroes are Dead
by David Tallerman

Ghest Untar shielded his eyes with one gauntleted hand and stared further up the flank of Shaelorn Mountain.

Though lower down there had remained some foliage, in the form of gaunt trees and browned grass, from here onward was only bare and blackened rock, as though a fire had raged. Yet there was no sign of any fire. There were only the ebon slopes and then, rising abrupt as a wall, a pillar of cloud that penetrated high into the heavens, farther than he could see.

Within that ethereal column, Ghest could make out slashes of lightning, vertical and horizontal, and if he really concentrated, something more: traces of a sky, but not the sky that lay beyond the cloud pillar. Here was early evening, the sun sinking red towards the horizon; there was darkest night. He glimpsed constellations he could make no sense of, spied slivers of one moon and another.

He would have found it easy, all too easy, to convince himself that there was the true sky of a true world and that this, here about him, was mere illusion. For when he looked behind him–his gaze roving across the lifeless mountainside and the long-abandoned villages at its base, all the way to the distant needle of the Spire Aspirant upon its rugged promontory–the scene seemed flimsy and insubstantial, like a tapestry coming loose at its seams.

Ghest looked away. He felt fear that he could not quite explain. Hadn’t he faced worse threats than this? He had, for he remembered them each distinctly. The Shifters of Starsang, that corroded city where men walked who were not and never had been men. The priests of the House Descending, who had dreamed their mad and blood-red dreams. And the thing in the Forests of Fossil, which his mind still trembled to consider. But he had won against it, though winning had seemed impossible; he had skewered its amorphous flesh, set light to the flaccid corpse, and for two whole days and nights had watched as it burned and squirmed, before finally it lay still.

He’d won. He had always won. Why then, this time, was he afraid? *** 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! ***

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!***

Bro by Matt Hoffman

Bro by Matt Hoffman

Bro
By Matt Hoffman

Will knew she was getting tired of him, as they usually did—tired of the repetitive, unimaginative movement of his jeans against hers, barely keeping in time with the rap beat bouncing off of the basement’s brick walls; tired of the way his hands hung limply on the front of her hips. She had accepted his invitation to dance with a shrug, and as far as he could tell, her interest hadn’t increased. He wasn’t surprised when, as the beat faded away to a second of interstitial crowd noise, she released herself from his grasp, turned, and said that she was going to go use the bathroom.

“Okay,” Will said.

The relative silence was broken by a new beat, distorted bass and snare over barely audible synths. She squeezed her way through the crowd of dancing couples, heading in the direction of the stairs, away from him. Will watched her go for a second, looked around at nothing in particular, and started making his way over to the bar, apologizing as he pushed dancers up against their partners in an attempt to clear a path.

Will waited behind a cluster of people until the bartender, a muscled guy in a frat T-shirt, handed him a half-empty red cup and turned away to the next customers. Some of Will’s beer sloshed onto his sleeves as he made his way to the wall, where he had a little space to stand.

Will sipped his beer and looked around. A few colored lights flashed intermittently over the makeshift dance floor, turning the dancers’ skin and clothes red, blue, yellow. A few strobe lights were blinking, indistinguishable from the occasional flash of a digital camera. At the far side of the room, it looked like some stragglers were still being let in, two or three at a time. Were Will’s floormates around? He scanned the crowd and spotted Ed from the quad, who was standing on the calmer side of the room talking with a short
girl in a red blouse. Will decided not to bother him.

Will sighed, leaned back against the rough brick, and decided he might as well wait around for—had she told him her name? Whoever. Bathroom girl. There was a chance she might actually return. Will glanced over at the dance floor to see if she had found a new partner yet.

That was when Will saw him: The guy was moderately tall, dressed in crisp off-white khakis and a neon orange polo, the collar popped to his jaw, aviator glasses gleaming beneath his brow. He was grinding authoritatively with a pretty girl who had a tight pink T-shirt, a denim skirt, and long, dark hair. Her eyes remained shut as she danced, her face set serenely into an expression of entranced satisfaction. The guy held a red cup in one hand and bore the hint of an apathetic half-smile.

But he was Will. ** Read On! **

Gibraltar by Mark Sutz

July 29, 2011 Fantasy, Mainstream 1 Comment
Gibraltar by Mark Sutz

Gibraltar
By Mark Sutz

Like most identical twins, my brother Oscar and I were indistinguishable from one another to most people. We weren’t the kinds of twins who harbored any unique moles or tics or cowlicks that would, to the discerning eye, separate us one from the other. On every square inch of our bodies, we were exactly alike, two people walking the earth who seemed in every hop, slurp, action or speech, to be the same. Even when we got into trouble, the harsh punishments were meted out in doubled, equal chunks. Our bar mitzvahs were even held in unison, our passage from boys to men held side-by-side, firmly cementing in our minds that we were going to travel through our lives closer to one another than most could imagine or desire.

The only thing different about us was the titanium rod that had been inserted into Oscar’s ankle when we were twelve. He’d sustained a nearly identical injury to me during a particularly vicious skiing accident, an impromptu downhill race we’d engaged in during a ski trip in Zermatt.

Even the scar left visible on his ankle we shared, but when the doctors had gone into my ankle they’d determined I wouldn’t need the permanent assistance of a metal rod to help strengthen my joint. The scar on the insides of our left ankles was shaped like a fingernail moon. Try as we might, we couldn’t ditch our identicalness.

That is, until we were eighteen and Oscar met Luisa. ** Read on! **

The Tale of Rauðúlfr by Lisa Farrell

February 18, 2010 Fantasy, Literary 3 Comments
The Tale of Rauðúlfr by Lisa Farrell

The Tale of Rauðúlfr
By Lisa Farrell

Hulda watched the flames dance until her dim eyes saw only light. She listened to the snapping and popping of the twigs, and ignored the sound of women’s voices through the wall. A bird was screeching outside, and she wondered how it could bear to open its beak and call out in such cold.

She had not thought she would survive this winter, but the children told her that the signs of Harpa-month were already here. Well, she could not yet feel it. Her bones still felt like the twigs in the fire, though under siege by ice rather than heat. She could barely move, but spent her hours trying to fold herself up small, keeping her face in the glow, until they teased her that the bristles on her chin would singe. They did not respect her, these young women whose bellies still waxed and waned like the moon. They had continually knocked into her as they prepared the day meal around her, as though she were an unwelcome guest. Yet this was her seat, her place, and she had earned her spot by the hearth-fire, having cooked on it for so many years. At least Rauðúlfr had made the women promise not to let the fire die. He was a good boy; he took care of his mother, as a son should. ** Read on! **

Ragnarok by Patrick Scalisi

January 28, 2010 Fantasy, Speculative 6 Comments
Ragnarok by Patrick Scalisi

Ragnarok

by Patrick Scalisi 

I didn’t mean to cause the end of the world. I suppose it’s just in my nature.

Plus, it wasn’t entirely my fault.

My roommate was such an asshole. If I didn’t need the cash, I would have kicked him out a long time ago. All his friends were always there, lording over the place as if they were gods, smoking, drinking, stinking up my apartment as if it were a crack den.

Bastards.

I got home around two last night after working second shift at the Gladsheim Diner. Odin was already there, half in the bag with his girlfriend Frigg. I think they were incapable of living their lives sober.

 “I asked you not to smoke in here,” I said as I watched the two of them roll a new joint. I tried to make my voice sound as weary as possible: not difficult, considering I had just worked a ten-hour shift.

“Relax, Loki,” Odin said, not looking up from the delicate task of stuffing and rolling, stuffing and rolling. “Have a hit. Have a beer for Christ sakes. You’re too wound up.”

“Too wound up,” Frigg agreed as she took the joint, unrolled it, and began the process again herself.

I ignored them, dumped my bag on the empty end of the couch and went to my room.  I thought about some of my stuff that had gone missing in the last few weeks, and I kept meaning to install a lock.

Who has time for that?

Adding it to my list of priorities, I opened the door and heard manic yowls that came from the chest at the foot of my bed. I threw it open and found Fenrir bound hand and foot with a bit of string, her cries and meows now deafening.

“What the hell—?”

Frigg appeared at the door faster than I would have thought possible, given her lack of brain cells.  “Cat kept climbing over everything,” she said. “Scattered the pot twice. Thing bit Tyr’s hand after you left.”

“Where’s your head?” I shouted. “You can do that to a cat!”

Frigg rolled her eyes and returned to the couch. “You’d think it was your kid or something.”

I stepped back into the living room, Fenrir nuzzled in the crook of my arm. “Odin, come on man.” ** Read on! **

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