Light Lines by Geoff Cohen

Thin, light-etched yellowish-orange lines where her eyelids met. Red Rothko squares stamped her eyelids. Bright white light framed Chuck’s goggled face the moment before Jen opened her eyes. She breathed in smoke, ash, particles, and dirt. It hurts to breathe: searing pain.  It was May 25, the start of a new year. The blanket wrapped around her quickly became too much, heat rising, sweat coming. She leaned forward. At her feet, an aerial photograph of Merriwether’s intaglio in all of its fluorescent fury. The ground: cracked concrete and Em’s chalk drawings. Next to the paint can kiln with three small-plugged…

The Laws Which Govern Chaos by Libby Cudmore

Gaz hadn’t told Claire about the dress yet. Better to wait until they were all at the hotel, when there was nothing she could do about it. No sense searching every bridal store in the state, only to come back with the exact same outcome—no dress. Her mother suggested she use the beaded scarf—that much she had—and match the eggplant color as close as she could to an overpriced sheath dress from the fancy mall. Keep the problem quiet until the last possible second. After three of Claire’s weddings, her mother knew the bridezilla’s triggers. The wedding was at the…

Eye to Eye by Moriah Hampton

[This piece contains violent content.] for EL On the morning Lora M. Berty broadcast Doug McKillan’s violent diatribe on the Uplifting Words for the Day program, the people of Merryville left their homes, impromptu, to congregate at the town square. In a mass, they stood before the 45-x-25-foot-tall screen, large enough to show a drive-in movie if the mass media hadn’t been banned twenty years prior “for the sake of public health.” Together, they watched their neighbor, Doug McKillan, shout vile, horrific words at them. “I want to bash in Jill Henderson’s head with a baseball bat. I want to…

Mina’s School for Fanged Girls by Melissa Darcey Hall

In her hundred years of teaching fanged girls, Mina has seen the rules for turning change twice. When she was a teenager, girls only turned if a vampire bit them. They were mostly safe if they stayed home after dark and didn’t fraternize with men. The rules changed in the 1930s, when unmarried women turned overnight on their thirtieth birthday. The newspapers said their spinsterhood turned them into feral man-eaters, desperate for male attention and comfort. This lasted through the 1960s, until the rules changed a second time and lost predictability. Both the quiet, dutiful housewives and openly lesbian shopkeepers…

It Was the Hipster Who Done It by Caleb Coy

  We didn’t want to go to the mystery dinner theater, but we kind of always wanted to, and so none of us knew which of the others would be the one to offer it as an option. It was Asa, Jude, myself, and our friend Raoul, who was a total hipster. Paint the town; that’s what we had in mind. We were general practitioners of the metropolitan class, and so having a night free meant we had to hang out downtown, but without going to any of the typical venues. We tried to figure out where to get a…

Distancing by Anna Shannon

I flick on the coffee machine and open the fridge. Oh, right. I finished all the wine, ‘coping.’ I rub my eyes and tighten the belt of my pink satin robe. It has a tendency to slip, putting my negligee on display.  Course that never bothers Lionel unless the drapes are open. As if anyone can even see my breasts from that far away, even if they were open. I close the fridge and look past the kitchen island, past the extra-long white leather couch and matching ottoman to his liquor cabinet. I loathe rustic design, but he had it…

How Zombie Learned the Difference Between Obsession and Love by Colton Merris

I left bits of body and micro-letters on strips of skin at her wedding. Some strips draped the backs of seats like coats. One note: To the bride: Some things are better left buried; does your husband know what you carry? I left every little bit about her. The outdoor wedding gave the guests a view of kayakers slicing rifts into the river. Their oars cut the blue water like scalpels. Caterers guarded hors d’oeuvres: pigs in blankets, cucumbers rolled into thin tortillas, and cream cheese and sliced meats, all delicacies in soft coffins. Everywhere, always, guests said how good…

Sprouted by Natalie Rogers

Mine sprouted right through the top of my head. Everyone told me I should feel lucky, there were worse places it could pop up. Imagine the belly button? Or that crease in between the pinky toe and the toe next to the pinky toe? I tried to see the deeper meaning in my sprouting spot, though after years of research by botanists, herbalists, pathologists, and dermatologists, no official cause as to why these plants emerge from the body parts they do had been determined. Why couldn’t it have taken a subtler route? Somewhere hidden, not drawing attention from the masses,…

Alpha by James Sie

burning The wind brings in the morning even sooner than the birds. It’s covered in smoke. One sniff— clean-moist-grass    dirt-tumbled-down-from-the-night-before peeling-eucalyptus    the-promise-of-heat —All the smells are smudged with ash. Fire. Not here, but close enough. There’s no direction it’s not. Enough reason for me to get back home, but I stand on the stone steps, motionless, as the darkness yields to shreds of new sky.  I wait, telling myself I’m not waiting.  The nests above on either side of the steps are quiet, and no signs of movement in those clustered below. That’s another reason I know it’s…

Cut Your Own by Scott Pedersen

Otto Graf, a stooped, straight-faced man of seventy-five, stood behind his house in the remote Ocooch Mountains. Wrapped in a gray wool coat, hand-knit scarlet scarf, and tattered tweed cap, he struggled to position the opening of an unwieldy bag of bird seed over a tube feeder held by his neighbor, Gene Kaplan. “Gene, hold it steady!” “Come on, Otto, just pour it already,” said Gene. Otto was about to unleash a torrent of tiny thistle seeds into the cylinder, when the air was ripped by a metallic shriek. Both men flinched. “Scheisse!” He spit out the word and paused…