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FICTION / Redwood / Joseph Thwaites

As he stared out the window absent-mindedly taking in the scene, a single red balloon rose and ascended out of view. Then, a few seconds later, several more passed, this time of yellow, blue, and green. Robert stood, but his movement was interpreted as an effort to leave, and as he rose, so too did several of his family members, ready to amicably prolong his departure. He made a move for the window, but his mother was quick to obstruct the path. 

FICTION / CPA of the Sith / Mike Sweeney

It was a free trial of Star Wars Galaxies. He should’ve just waited till he got home. Instead he logged on to an external server from inside the Department of Justice and spent two hours roaming the Dantooine countryside as “Darth Laser.” It was the name Mark used when he played Star Wars as a kid and now it was going to be officially entered into his record.

FICTION / They Will Come For Us / Joel Mak

Our old pals lounged on the bench overlooking the water. It wasn’t hard to tell they were there. The air warped in striations where they were present, like looking at water boil up close. Sometimes, the air took on the colour of soap in a puddle, a psychedelic swirling rainbow. Staring at them for too long was like trying to keep an eyelid open in water. 

FICTION / Colin Winters / Z.Z. Boone

Colin Winters didn’t perform badly. This was my second section of composition, and he’d apparently taken in enough to repeat the lesson he’d sat through earlier. I watched from the back of the room as he repeated my words, my hand gestures, the notes I’d written on the board. When Lenin Diaz’s cellphone chirped, as it does at least a couple of times each class, Colin Winters lifted it out of his hand before the kid could answer. 

FICTION / Bite Marks / John Waterfall

“I don’t know. I’m not everyone.” She shifted and he realized his arm was asleep, tingling dully under her weight. He started to pull it out from under her and he saw the movement made her dissolve in places, gashes of ragged white static spreading across her thigh and shoulder, her neck, the bite marks where she’d been unmade. He resumed his grasp, hoping to undue the damage. 

FICTION / The Ice Unicorn / Fred White

“I hate this game.” But he stood up and headed for the dance floor anyway. Mercifully, Estelle was already dancing with William Waddell, the English Department’s most recent hire, a specialist in captivity narratives. He moved liquidly through some pelvis-writhing routine. Estelle, by contrast, seemed to be concentrating too hard on looking graceful: she was having difficulty moving her feet, manacled as they were by the stiletto heels.

FICTION / Harry's Bird / Sky O’Brien

Later, in bed, I think of Harry and the bird on the bluffs. The big creature rises out of its paint job and flies next to the river, casting its red eyes and deer horns over the earth. It follows me and Mitch and Harry and Jess like an officer, its uniform a skin of thick brown scales. A bird like that could swallow our car. It could swoop down and lift us with its talons and take us deep into its world.

FICTION / Old Dogs / Mike Sutton

The conversation carries on while Sue slips headphones over her ears and resumes typing Jim’s endless dictation. As crazy as Jim drives her, she’s half partial to him. Truth is, if Sue left, Jim would retire. She knows it. He does too, but won’t admit it. The man’s just shy of helpless. He’s a fine trial lawyer. Tried over a hundred cases in his time, but the world is changing, and old dogs don’t always follow smoothly.

FICTION / No Mercy, $ir / Ryan Shoemaker

Johnny canted his neck to the side, then flung his muscled shoulders back, his vertebrae crackling. A black bandana circled his mane of corn-silk hair. He turned to Daniel, a sly, lopsided grin tilting his thin lips. Daniel flinched, retreating a step. He couldn’t believe it. In thirty years, Johnny hadn’t changed, not a wrinkle creasing his boyish face, not a gray hair on his head.