The Furry Black Plague

by Rod Drake

We panicked, thinking Swine Flu would be the planet-cleansing pandemic everyone secretly feared. But it wasn’t, we survived it, and then the Cow Flu came, a devastating and disgusting plague, but again, humanity somehow survived and thumbed its collective nose at Nature’s attempt to reduce the population and restore some balance to the globe. Nature, however, wasn’t through with us, and she likes to win; next came the Horse Flu, the Sheep Flu, the Duck Flu, but it was the last one, the current one, which has legs, albeit hairy ones, and looks like the real deal. The Donkey Flu. Oh, people don’t get flu symptoms from it like all the other types of ever-more-deadly flu viruses; no, this strange malady is a whole different kind of disease, one that appears to be sweeping the world, because I can already see its impact, to say nothing of vanishing people. Once inflected with the Donkey Flu (and there is no cure) one’s ears start growing and becoming furry, then the face elongates and buck teeth protrude, followed by hands and feet slowly devolving into hoofs, and before you know it, you’re transformed into a real donkey, a whole planet full of them, and my only hope is that I can ride this out before – HEEHAW HEEHAW.


Rod Drake is wearing a surgical mask, washing his hands frequently and staying safely isolated in his house.


My Friend Danny

by Xavier Toby

Now we're nearly thirty and still friends. He gives me drugs for free. That's not the only reason we're friends but without them, I wouldn't make the effort. When I'm high I promise to pay him, but later he never asks. We often plan to hang out during the day, without the drugs, but that never happens. Maybe we're terrified it won't be any fun.


Xavier Toby is a journalist for an Australian newspaper, but would much rather be a full time writer.


The Plagiarist

by Tim Woodall

I had a candle in my room and she would sit and mold the wax into strange shapes. All kinds of clich├ęs aside, I’m fairly sure it burned out a week after the ice finally splintered beneath us. A year later I wrote a story about us lying in bed on Bonfire Night, while fireworks hung like constellations outside the window. It was published, but then she started cropping up in other stories, with a different name or hair color and, although it happens less now, sometimes I feel guilty. One of these days she’ll realize all this and sue me. And I won’t have a leg to stand on.


Tim Woodall, from Chorlton, Manchester, is a tad Maladjusted.


The Impact of Everyday Decisions

by Natalie Sack

If the bullet had hit the fleshy part of his arm instead of his shoulder he would have enjoyed throwing baseballs with his future son and hearing his daughter giggle as he lifted her high overhead. Even things like painting the shutters once a year and weed whacking the chickweed/ragweed/poison oak tangle around the gazebo would have had an element of fun with the dull ache of a healed wound as a reminder of how lucky he was. But he’d been running before the shot, providing a constantly changing trajectory between peril and safety, the same way simple decisions do upon our everyday fates. And so the bullet went from his shoulder to his lung, shredding the delicate cells into lace before sightseeing its way to his liver. There’s no doubt the shot alone was incidental, no matter where it traveled, but the bullet’s coating — that damned silver, the mundane stuff of flatware and filigree — exacted it’s price. One more werewolf is subtracted from his American Dream.


Natalie Sack teaches yoga and writes short stories, novels and essays in a small, small suburb of Pittsburgh.


Second Hand

by Helen Dring

In the end, Hanne’s world crashed down around her quicker than she had expected. She could hear the thunder of the boots as they burst into the library, holding her breath from the small storeroom where she hid. Shivering from the barked orders and the crashing in the background, she remembered there had been no guarantees in hiding here. Even though her Father’s presence was stitched into the walls of the library, she had known it would not be safe forever. Outside the door she could hear the steps approaching, and she took enough to time to breathe in sharply, and run her fingers over the locket he had given her. The door burst open, and as she breathed out she let her eyes fix upon the uniformed man in front of her, ready for what was coming.


Helen Dring lives in Liverpool with her dog, Milly.


A Fairy's Funeral

by Robert Keal

Ahead, at the bottom of the garden, is a single blossoming rose bush. She'll rest happily there, I'm sure. All we have left are her wings, still sparkling with rainbow glitter even on this gloomy, grey afternoon. Nothing, nobody can take away her shine. Least of all that monster, chained up for his cruelty at last. A ribbon of sunlight streams through the clouds, and I smile slightly, imagining him rotting behind bars while she's flying high, filling the heavens with her love and laughter.


Robert Keal currently lives and writes in London.