The First 6S Mash-Up!

A Random Collaboration by Twenty-One 6S Authors

As I looked across the table at the perfectly manicured hairline (which I'm sure had to be a toupee) on the forehead of the cheap (non-tip giving) blind date who now made me question if I really wanted to enter the roller-coaster-ride of today’s dating scene, I reminded myself that I like frogs, especially the ones that turn into princes when you kiss them (at least I think I would like the prince-frogs better, but I’m not sure, because so far that hasn’t happened, even though I’ve kissed lots of frogs, and some of them croak right after I kiss them, which isn’t real good for my self-esteem), and then, as consolation, I reminded myself that the crema in a good espresso is reason enough to get out of bed every morning. Silenced, no, strangled by feeling insignificant, I thought I had nothing to say until I wrote my first “six,” and someone out there, surely someone of significance, wrote “nice job” and brought me to life (can I help it if people find me irresistible?) – I think this is what I want, because the more I chew this thing the bigger it gets, plus (please stay with me, I know I’m rambling), I baked these totally decadent chocolate chip cookies this morning that were so sinfully delicious I couldn't eat just one, and when I took them to a friend of mine, she swooned when she ate one; yes, she swooned... no joke (it's an unusual response, I know, but when the doctor gave me the sad news, I could have kissed him, and of all the things to happen on my birthday, I never expected the Plutonians to invade Madrid). Anyway, I couldn't believe that Hayley was drinking again (I waited in the dark for her to come home; up close, I was horrified to see that what I’d thought was an extension to the large tiger’s eye pendant she wore was actually a blob of oatmeal on her elegant bosom); she had six months clean - her longest stretch since we were thirteen and slamming screwdrivers out of Gatorade bottles on the swings in the park behind our houses (I love tequila, but when I drink it, I think you hate me, and then I hate you for hating me), yet there I was, sitting in all my glory on the john, when the window blind suddenly rolled up, giving both the landscaper (poor man) and me a start before I dropped to the floor in spasms of laughter, for there really was nothing else to do. I sent myself to you in what I hoped was inspiration, hoping you’d keep me like some little muse behind your ear, a breeze that brought a song reminding you of me – take a big glass of something dark and soothing; go down to the water by yourself and gaze up at the sky; lie out on the water on your back and let yourself be carried down the beach until you don’t know where you are; take the back road home and listen to your favorite music louder than you have in years – some of my best ideas came to me only to please you and keep me somewhere in your mind, amongst (and some shining times in front of) all those things that you had chosen before me; so, now that I am gone, do you imagine those ideas were yours, ponder how you used to take more time just for yourself, and miss the way you used to be, when I was sometimes there beside you, or at least within the sound of your voice? I have strange dreams at night, some fueled by too many strong margaritas at the neighborhood Mexican restaurant, the two of us sitting on the patio sharing a basket of tortilla chips, the hottest salsa they have between us because my lover is obsessed with all things dangerous, hot and spicy, me dipping carefully into the little white cup and eating slowly, sipping that grande with the salted rim every other bite so my tongue and the lining of my esophagus survive to receive the enchilada plate I ordered; the next morning I sit up in bed, too alert for the abuse I inflicted the night before, alone because it is mid-week and he returned to his wife, remembering the dream, the tequila nightmare: the world had changed (governments collapsed, population reduced by world bank-sponsored wars and epidemics started by virus-contaminated public drinking water and natural disasters made worse by research planes and computers adjusting the weather) and I stood alone in that nightmare, a resister who avoided the programming by surrounding myself with the light of love everyday, even when the world had gotten darker and more evil; leaving my bed I walk with a steady gait to the front door and open it, wondering what strange clouds would greet me this morning, and suddenly I am paralyzed, physically, mentally, more with disbelief than fear, as I lived by looking behind me for too long; a man in military greens, my lover, pokes a weapon at me, and I know I am the last to be taken because behind him the landscape is void of color and structure, the acrid air burning my eyes, the nightmare upon me – the world gone (yet you take my hand and promise to lead me to a place beyond my most secret desires: to a place I seek but cannot reach alone, somewhere that's deeper and darker than I can even comprehend, to a place you promise where lies the essence of my sweetest dreams and my worst nightmares; I ask you to take me there, I beg, even though I know I many never find my way back again). The dark and rain are lowering my spirits, bringing me near to tears as the summer ends without the hoped-for harvest, and then, just great... I felt my toes explode in pain as the car rolled over my foot – the chaos made me uncomfortable until I realized the one universal constant: everything is kinetic, in motion, transforming, expanding and contracting; change is the only thing that ever stays the same.


Twenty-One 6S Authors, promptly responding to a request in the 6S Newsletter, submitted one sentence each, written in the first person. The six sentences above are the amazingly coherent result. And now, without further adieu, let’s have a HUGE round of applause for each of the twenty-one authors! (Shaindel Beers, David J. Billings, Diane Brady, caccy46, Maura Campbell, Nancy Coleman, Chris Conroy, Sara Crowley, Hanita, Anita Hunt, Rebecca Jane, Peggy McFarland, T.J. McIntyre, mgirl, Deborah O’Neal, Gina Perry, Angela Pitt, Quin, Adam J. Whitlatch, writeorbust, and Madam Z) Bravo!

I Can't Stand Being Disappointed

by Jenn Ashworth

It's probably too late for me to be up drinking wine when I've got work tomorrow but it's a good job I am because around midnight the letter box clicks as if something's just been pushed through it. A letter! A love letter from you saying you didn't mean it, you're an idiot, you don't deserve me, you're sorry - and all other manner of nice things about my hair and my skin and my porcelain hips - a bouquet of compliments and maybe a drawing or a poem or a photograph or a lock of your hair or something like that. I tiptoe down the stairs, heart hammering, toes feeling for the way in the dark. It's on the doormat, it's white, it's yellow, it's got writing on it! It's glossy, it's crumpled, it's a flyer for free pizza.


Jenn Ashworth was born in 1982 in Preston, Lancashire. She tries to write autobiography but has a thin grasp of the facts. The memoir turns into short stories and novels, some of which you can read at her website.

Puff, the Magic Dragon

by Alana Wilson

Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived on a shelf. No one ever played with Puff, so Puff played with himself! I was about nine years old when my uncle recited this to my cousins and me. Of course, I laughed along with the rest of the kids, but I was feeling sad for Puff and his neglected, lonesome state. Over the years, I repeated the rhyme to my friends and we all laughed, not realizing the true meaning. Then, one day, I understood it and was sad in a new way for dear Puff, in a way that I related to all too well.


Alana Wilson, author of Seven Years of Marriage, is a full-time college student, mother, wife, caregiver and slave to her extended family. (Sometimes a girl has to write to get away from it all.)



by Bob Jacobs

Kiss kiss kiss; ooooh yeah. Kissy Kissy Kiss Kiss; Oh God Yes. KISS; Ouch. KISS BLOODY KISS; Stop it! KISS BLOODY KISS BLOODY KISS BLOODY KISS; SLAP! Slam.


Bob Jacobs, author of Repeal of Amendment Three, lives in the south-east of England with his wife and kids and Sony Vaio.

Not the Mom

by Peggy McFarland

Buddy cried when she placed him in the shopping cart. The inch of exposed skin between the top of his peaking diaper and the waistband of his winter coat rubbed against those steel bars. With a smirk tickling the corners of his mouth, a grandfatherly man pointed out her mistake. "I'm the aunt, not the mom," she rationalized as her cheeks burned red, though not from the cold. She lifted Buddy and felt his chubby arms wrap around her neck, his baby powder scented head snuggled against her shoulder. A warm toddler hug forgave the auntie goof.


Peggy McFarland, author of Letting Go, is an aunt and mother too. She bartends for a living until this writing thing catches on.


You Were a Champion in Her Eyes

by Don Pizarro

Her first IM to me wasn't "Hey KidCharlemagne1977, check out my webcam," it was "Cn I stop to stare at your technicolor motorhome?" I looked up her profile, gawked at her pic and typed, "Anytime you want, hon." I know I should've walked away when I read Class of '07, but reading on, we just had way too much in common. She was into Steely Dan, read Calvino, and loved a good smoked cheddar. Three hours and a few exchanged pics later, she told me she felt a real connection. I responded the only way that felt right...


Don Pizarro, driver of Bargains, categorically denies that this six is based on anything that ever happened in his own life (so you can just put that thought out of your head right now)! His writing has appeared online at McSweeney's, American Nerd, and Byzarium.

Hope Over Sludge

by Ethel

She awoke to another gray, uninspired day. It wasn't only a weather outlook, but a thought-depleting day, once again. The mental fog overwhelmed her mood and physical being, making it nearly impossible to come from beneath the covers into the dismal-feeling morning, yet again. As usual, her first cogent thought was perhaps today would begin a new thinking process. Possibly this would then be backed up by a doing of things differently, to change her ever-constant dark mood. She longed for this to be a day that would be full of warmth and light, even if it had to be generated by artificial means.


Ethel, who told The Lie, is hoping to recapture her creativity. It became misplaced while she was busy taking care of others. Now she is trying to take care of herself.

Blackberry a-buzz

by Virginia Backaitis

Baby, baby, baby, we're out of time... I keep telling myself that it’s just a song, and that it just happens to be playing while I’m here with you, while you’re holding me close, on the dance floor on our wedding day with everyone we love, everyone who loves us, watching. This is the happiest day of my life. You push your hips into mine; I can feel your blackberry vibrating. I wonder who it could be, isn’t everyone we care about, who cares about us, here? Baby, baby, baby we’re out of time, the song plays some more, my Manolo Blahniks too close to your polished Prada’s, scratching the leather, leaving my mark. Baby, baby, baby, we’re out of time... now I’m singing along, thinking about how I made the playlist and how I didn’t put this song on.


Virginia Backaitis, author of Is This Day Not Perfect?, writes fiction, personal essays and articles. If you're interested in reading more of her work, Google!


Ears (Un)plugged

by Rebecca Jane

Two prosperous businessmen boarded the number 3 subway train that was heading downtown — unfortunately, due to track repairs, this train that usually ran express was making all local stops which disappointed nearly everyone on board, making each one slightly irritable. To escape the discomfort of a slow train, every passenger, not including these two well-heeled gentlemen, plugged some kind of portable media device into their ears: a shaggy NYU literature student was absorbed in listening to Jim Dale narrate the latest Harry Potter book; a laid-off Con-Ed meter reader was idly fondling the central click wheel on his device, listening to some eccentric punk selection; a Yoga teacher was falling asleep to a fusion of Western club mix and Indian tabla; and a Big Nick's pizza pie man was bopping to the latest sounds of the urban underbelly. With all these transit passengers absorbed in their own separate worlds of audio indulgence, the two well-heeled gentlemen felt at ease discussing what many every-day music-burners might or might not identify as "suspicious activity," depending on their individual political leanings and private fetishes. The two men each carried a briefcase containing huge sums of money they'd made off a criminal Chinese Imports Ring that sold imitation Crest toothpaste and fake Viagra in the U.S. In tones that could only be described as far cries from "hushed," these two men openly discussed plans of how they were going to transport the money to friends of theirs who live in Pakistan. Now, anyone on that train who was even half listening to these guys' conversation might have jumped to the conclusion that these men were investing in some kind of terror plot, and the eavesdropper might have reported what they'd heard to local officials; however, no one heard a word, which leads to one big question: if a potentially criminal plot is discussed within ear's reach and no one hears it, will that plot, or any plot, inevitably succeed?


Rebecca Jane, author of Tourist Trap, writes fiction.


by Anton Crocek

My mother had always insisted that colds were caused by getting your feet wet, going without a scarf, and leaving the house with open pores after a shower. Even when I showed her my schoolbooks explaining it was all about virus particles sailing out of someone's nose and landing in yours, she brushed them aside. "Just look how those Kuchinsky kids all run around without galoshes, their coats unbuttoned, and each nose running with snot." To prove her scientifically and definitively wrong, I stood in a steaming shower till my pores were wide enough to stuff pimentos in, then set off around the block in the snow dressed only in damp pajamas. Halfway around the block I met one of the Kuchinsky kids, playing outside in his stocking feet and dripping nose, who asked what the heck I was doing. When I explained about my open pores, Kuchinsky the Snotty leaned in for a good look and blasted me square in the face with a sneeze.


Anton Crocek is the pen name of Ren Dexter who needs to remain anonymous.

The Horror

by Simon Stratton

He sits down at the campfire, and the babble of voices cease, as we feel united by the presence of a master storyteller. The bones of his face are thrown into sharp relief by the dancing light of the flames. A young couple hold hands in tense anticipation. I would not have brought my girlfriend to this event. There was this girl, right (no-one nods) and she went out one night and woke up the next day in a bath of ice, thinking, "why am I in a bath of ice," because she only went out to donate a kidney (he pauses and in the dark; someone whimpers) although, now I come to think of it, she went to a party, before donating a kidney, or maybe she was at THIS party, the night before she woke up in the bath, and they had kidneys in the buffet, which she missed because she was late, but they had ice for drinks, and she drank too much and woke up in the bath (he leans forward, with hollow eyes) but what I'm not telling you is that the buffet kidneys were actually human kidneys (he leans back) which, luckily, as it turned out, was ok because this girl was vegan and wouldn't've had any, but that's not the end of the story, because in actual fact, the kidneys they ate were hers all along. Everyone is speechless, and the young couple flee into the night, terrified.


Simon Stratton, author of It Could Happen to You, lost his MA in Creative Writing in a curry fight.


Repeal of Amendment Three

by Bob Jacobs

I caught an early train into London for the first public execution in Great Britain since 1868, after it was reintroduced under amendment three of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Trafalgar Square heaved with people, all desperate for a good view of Al-Muteri's beheading, but I managed to work my way almost to the front where I could see over the shoulders of those squashed against the barriers. Al-Muteri, head shaved, climbed the steps slowly in a long white robe looking relaxed, bored almost, and just before the blade fell - I'll never forget this - he smiled and said, "God is great." The crowd gasped and fell momentarily silent as the head dropped, and for those of us who were close enough, before the cheering started, Al-Muteri's severed head could clearly be heard to say, "God is great." Since then his head, in a protective glass case, has been smiling and reciting the Koran for more than three months. Of course, the beheadings have stopped.


Bob Jacobs, author of My Reflection is Killing Me, lives in the south-east of England with his wife and kids and Sony Vaio.

The Quiet Street

by T.J. McIntyre

Tom stepped out into the evening, leaving his lighted home behind. Steam rose in a humid wave off the heated asphalt as the stormy afternoon's rain rose from the earth to once again become a cloud. He looked down the quiet street and looked for her, but only felt a meaningful emptiness. He knew he was alone again. The monotonous drone of the interstate filled the air. The nymph had been washed away by the rain, and the magic was lost with her.


T.J. McIntyre, author of Under the Influence, is a writer of speculative and literary fiction from Alabaster, Alabama. His work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in such publications as The Swallow's Tail, 55 Words, and Escape Velocity. In addition to being a being a published author, Mr. McIntyre is currently collecting stories and editing a print anthology, Southern Fried Weirdness 2007: An Annual Anthology of Southern Speculative Fiction, and the e-zine, Southern Fried Weirdness Online.

Conceal the Face of Vulnerability

by Stephanie Burton

I was laying away from him, refusing to look in his direction. "Did I hurt you?" he asked softly, touching my shoulder. I shook my head, squeezing the tears into the corners of my eyes. The room was silent for a long time, but when I finally rolled over to face him, he lifted my chin to brush a tear from my cheek and pulled me closer to him. "Why are you crying?" he whispered. I kissed him instead of answering, because I didn't know how to explain that if the night meant nothing to him, I'd be forced to walk home empty again.


Stephanie Burton, author of Breakup, was trained as an investigative reporter, and has lived all over the world, including London and Australia. She currently resides in New York City with two fabulous roommates who politely deal with her assortment of male suitors. You can read more about the sagas of Stephanie's love life (and other adventures) at Spread Eagle in NYC.


Letting Go

by Peggy McFarland

They're happy tears, she told her youngest son as he tapped his foot. He refused to let her tears delay what took eighteen years, six months and seven days to arrive. Call me, she added, and raised her arms. She wasn't grandma, it wasn't Christmas, no one died... after several awkward moments he leaned in for her hug. I love you, she said, as he shut the dorm room door. Finally free, finally free he chanted in his head as he placed clothes in the bureau, books on the shelf and a framed photograph of mom on the nightstand.


Peggy McFarland loves writing six sentences and is still working on writing many, many sentences all in a row.

Rescue Me

by Katie Schwartz

Rescuers treat pure breed owners like it’s a crime to buy versus save. Hello — allergies, and fuck me for not wanting some neurotic, skittish, was tied to a tree for a month, canine that pees on you every time you pet him and shits on the floor when you make eye contact. “We don’t know how old she is, but she’s missing an eye and has cataracts in her good eye, the poor thing, she’s also deaf and she can’t bark because someone severed her vocal chords; isn’t that awful?” Just what I always wanted, the Helen Keller of Canines. It’s like rescuing the most impaled looking creature you can find has become a status symbol (what’s next - a black market for tethered and weathered canines?). Maybe some reproductive enthusiast will come up with a new breed, SNATS — Snakes breed with cats, or Alliots — Alligators breed with parrots; I ask you, IS there ANYTHING that could possibly top a flying, scaly loud mouth?!


Katie Schwartz, who asked if you had an Exiled Christian Kid to Spare, is a comedy writer and essayist. She's written for Ostrich Ink, Girlistic Magazine, Farmhouse Magazine, Tastes Like Chicken, and a host of other festive rags. She also has a blog, All the Way from Oy to Vey, filled with her OCD about the zealotinas of the world and rants about nothing in particular.


by A.J. Patrick Liszkiewicz

As in written beside. As in your grandfather's typewriter, which no longer works but which you keep on your desk for sentimental value. As in no value at all, since sentiment cannot be touched or tasted or rubbed onto a washcloth. As in the filthy cotton square hanging in your bathroom, as in the room where it happened. As in past tense, as in it's been six months, as in you must think of the children now, as in I know a nice guy who works in accounting, as in a sign for the start of a new section of discourse. As in to run apart.


A.J. Patrick Liszkiewicz lives and works in Buffalo, NY, where he is an MFA student in Digital and Independent Filmmaking at The University at Buffalo. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Cranky, The Eleventh Muse, The New Hampshire Review, and Word for/ Word. Please visit his blog.


Blind Date

by Quin Browne

They kill the sweet baby cows before their eyes turn brown, you know. Pale fleshed, silly creatures, blindly trusting, going into the dark place with the filtered light, the muffled voices, growing complacent, coaxed by soft hands that touch with gentle movements, moving forward from one place to the other, no stress, content with the attention received. Little innocents, who walk into a room to see what is there, sensing no danger, held down, forced into an uncomfortable and scary position, and then it's over. She was aware of all these facts before, but it never affected her ability to enjoy veal. Now, she hates the taste of veal. It was on his breath that night, when he raped her after dinner.


Quin Browne isn't the real name. But, it'll do. Born and raised in New Orleans; that place will always be home. Time spent in Denver and Utah, where theater became a passion. Children are loved always; a terrier travels New York City with her; life is still to be discovered in many ways. She is the author of T-Shirt.

Ashes to Ashes

by caccy46

It was her third seizure in as many months that sent us racing to the closest emergency clinic late at night, Millie bundled in a towel on my lap, deathly still with an occasional twitch of a leg, encouraging me that she was hanging on. In the examining room, I placed her on the floor, at the doctor's request; and we watched very quietly as she struggled to walk, her head listing to one side as though her vertebrae were melting, slowly she wobbled in several circles until I scooped her up to lay limply in my lap again. She was always comfortable curled in my lap, and that's how she remained as we watched her slip away. An extra $150 insured us she'd be cremated alone; and when the box arrived several weeks later, I chose not to question if these remains were in fact just Millie. I buried her ashes under the sweetest lily I could find; and now, a year later, I marvel at her newly found strength and beauty. My lovely, orange-speckled Millie Lily.


caccy46, author of I Call a Do-Over, is 60 years old, a mother of two, and has been married for 32 years.


by Tom Cruise

I've never agreed with psychiatry, ever. Before I was a Scientologist I never agreed with psychiatry. And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn't believe in psychology. And as far as the Brooke Shields thing... look, you gotta understand, I really care about Brooke Shields. I think here's a wonderful and talented woman, and I wanna see her do well. But I know that psychiatry is a pseudoscience.


Tom Cruise is one of the most financially successful actors in the history of show business. His six sentences are excerpted from his June 24th, 2005 Today Show interview with Matt Lauer.



by Madam Z

I often feel blue, but not always the same shade of blue. Sometimes it’s sky blue, and then I’m light and happy. Sometimes it’s turquoise, and I’m hot and sexy. When it’s royal blue, I’m calm and reflective, in control. Occasionally, but not very often anymore, it’s navy blue, and I think of Alvin, the sailor who was my first love, a long, long time ago. But tonight, it’s black-blue, and all I can think of is death.


Madam Z, author of Here's the Plan, loves six and isn't afraid to admit it. Do yourself a favor and check out her blog.

Exiled Christian Kid to Spare?

by Katie Schwartz

I wouldn’t mind a secondhand child, provided she was an exiled Zealot Christian. Someone fleeing from homemaking, cooking, cleaning, modest clothing, apron making, submitting to peens and indoctrination into the word. A girl who wanted to learn the art of freedom, feminism, humor, independence, autonomy, Judaism and the beauty of being able to do anything she wanted in life. After all of that if she still wanted to go back to homemaking and Christianity that wouldn’t be ok. I’d be saturated in guilt and cloaked in shame, eclipsed only by the fact that she’d have gained freewill. In the end, I wouldn’t accept her choice, but I would respect it and her enough.


Katie Schwartz, who is not a Bitch, is a comedy writer and essayist. She's written for Ostrich Ink, Girlistic Magazine, Farmhouse Magazine, Tastes Like Chicken, and a host of other festive rags. She also has a blog, All the Way from Oy to Vey, filled with her OCD about the zealotinas of the world and rants about nothing in particular.


Pac-Man of the Heart

by Mark Perry

A man lies dying on the operating table. Four ghosts patrol his heart: one in each atrium, one in each ventricle. His arteries are clogged with ectoplasm, and with no transplant organ available doctors are forced to inject Pac-Man into his heart. The critter does well at first but the ghosts swarm him and he’s cornered in the tricuspid valve. The patient flat-lines; all recovery attempts fail. The head surgeon is disappointed not to make the hi-score table.


Mark Perry lives and works in Manchester, England. Pac-Man of the Heart is his first published work.

It Could Happen to You

by Simon Stratton

A young girl is walking home along a road and it's night-time and it's raining. A car pulls up ahead of her. She opens the door and the driver looks friendly, so she gets in. Her wet clothes dull the leather of the passenger seat and the driver frowns. She says, "Thanks for giving me a lift home" and he says "You're lucky," she says, "Why?" and he says, "You were polite, the last person I gave a lift to was not so polite, so I had to kill them," and she laughs, but he says, "No seriously, their body's still in the boot," and this time she doesn't laugh, but he smiles and they spend the remainder of the drive home in silence. When he pulls up to her house she says, "Cheers dad, try not to be so late picking me up from hockey next time," and waves him goodbye.


Simon Stratton, author of More Childhood Memories, lost his MA in Creative Writing in a curry fight.


Most Disgust

by Sondra Harris

I find this new feature on the Six Sentences website, listing the "most discussed" posts, a bit elitist and demeaning. I worked hard on each piece I've ever submitted, because I am only a lowly blogger trying to become a better writer. My efforts have now become trivialized in comparison with other submissions that receive more comments. I don't deny these pieces are well-written and presented, but sometimes the reason they're "most discussed" has less to do with how good the work is than with the fact that its content is confrontational (to the point of being insulting), that the author responds to each comment, thus doubling the total, or that it was contributed by a celebrity. I used to glean some validation from the few constructively critical and occasional positive comments I would receive from a reader for one of my stories, but I guess we can't put as much stock into quality versus quantity anymore. And discuss... or not.


Sondra Harris is the author of Quest and the book Getting My Think On. More of her work may be found at her website. She's sufficiently immature, needy, and whiny, and has pretty much decided just to take her dollies and go home.

Sistine Chapel

by Ellen "EJ" Sackett

Attenzione! Silenzioso! Clap! Clap! Silenzioso! The command to "keep quiet" barked repeatedly in English and Italian through the crackling loudspeaker, drowning out the gentle murmur of every language combined, as the shuffling, endless line of tourists craned their necks up with sweat dripping down, immersed in the sanctity of Michelangelo's masterpiece.


Ellen "EJ" Sackett, creator of The "IT'S FOUR O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE" Club, writes "The World Around Us" for As We Are Magazine and "At Home with Ellen" for HOME. She wanted to be Oprah when she grew up, but since that job was taken, she decided to become a concert harpist instead. After a life of world travel, center stage, and harp schlepping, EJ is happiest at home, creating on her laptop. In Flames was her entry in the first 6S contest. Get to know Ellen better by visiting her website, or email her.


Here's the Plan:

by Madam Z

I’m going to start a new government, of which I will be the Absolute (but benevolent) Dictator. The first thing I’ll do is throw out the entire Internal Revenue Code and replace it with two one-page, double-spaced sets of rules, one for individuals (flat tax, with hefty personal exemptions, but no deductions) and one for business (details to be worked out later, but with no feedback from anyone but maybe Alan Greenspan). The next thing I’ll do is impose, by dictatorial fiat, term limits for all members of the Senate and House of Representatives and, while I’m at it, make the scoundrels take a pledge of fiscal responsibility, which means no deficit spending. Next, I will ban all bribe-carrying lobbyists from contacting any members of Congress and encourage the citizens of the country to make their wishes known in a non-compensatory manner. Then, I will round up as many certified geniuses as I can find, from all over the world, to dream up a plan for World Peace, giving them two years to complete it, and they must convince me of its plausibility. And finally, I will get our asses out of Iraq!


Madam Z, author of Felling Time, is confident she could do a better job than the Current Occupant or any of the Current Candidates. (And who can doubt Madam Z?) Do yourself a favor and check out her blog.


by Delia J. Fry

I tire of the words in my head that I cannot verbalize openly. To quench the need, I write of my love with black ink on precious parchment. Then I watch the gleaming ripples of water as the bottle sails off to find you. Desperately, I will the sea's currents to make a path straight to you. Do I dare to command all things heavenly to be perfectly aligned to help the sea? Yes, for my destiny rides with every wave.


Delia J. Fry, author of I Can, lives in O'Fallon, Missouri. She is an artist and poet, and plays the Clarinet and Eb Alto Saxophone with the O'Fallon Community Concert Band and the O'Fallon Jazz Band. Some of her poems have been published in local Missouri newspapers such as The Community News and The Scoop. Her poem "The Master" was a Notable Entry in the Saturday Writer’s One Page Poem Contest.



by Katie Schwartz

My neighbor is thin — BITCH. When she’s stressed out, she doesn’t eat. She forgets. Who the fuck forgets to eat? I don’t care how much stress you have in your life. There’s something wrong with you when you forget to stuff your face until your belly overflows with well managed, savory, no sweet, no savory, no sweet, no savory FAT-FAT-FAT.


Katie Schwartz, author of Handicapping Dating, is a comedy writer and essayist. She's written for Ostrich Ink, Girlistic Magazine, Farmhouse Magazine, Tastes Like Chicken, and a host of other festive rags. She also has a blog, All the Way from Oy to Vey, filled with her OCD about the zealotinas of the world and rants about nothing in particular.

Time to Fix the Faucet

by Melissa Burke

drip. drip. drip. drip. drip. drip.


Melissa Burke, author of Fairy Tales and Reason, is a student at the University of Texas.


Seven Years of Marriage

by Alana Wilson

You no longer stay awake just to watch me breathing, rather you sleep so you don’t have to hear me snoring. I have bags under my eyes and now, also, attached to my thighs. My breasts are flat; I breastfed too long, they used to find support in a bra, now they find support in my thong. I woke up this morning and found you sleeping on the floor, when I asked you why, you claimed I was a “bed whore.” I can carry more groceries in one load than anyone I know, but that’s because I am lazy and slow. You can try to bitch and complain about what I have become, but the truth is, you haven’t looked in a mirror lately either; have you my low-life scum?!?


Alana Wilson was very happily married for seven years and then year eight came, and... (no, she's kidding). She has a fantastic husband and two great kids. She's a full-time student, mother, wife, homemaker, and caretaker to her elderly great-grandmother with Alzheimers.


by James Murphy

The satyr had known she was important to the health and plenty provided to the fields and meadow where he'd romped in lusty glee with her. Entering the meadow and looking around he's saddened by the stubble where she and he once feasted in green fields. Brown ruin is taking over the lush abundance of the meadow where they skipped amid bird call. The wilt of the surrounding trees and the dust stirred by the hot wind on the dry slope just descended reminds him she's gone and taken bounty with her. Even the pool where she played and splashed with the likes of swan and hound and porcupine has dried up, its shimmering blessing replaced by a darker nature. The hungry satyr stands in this exhaustion and longs for her, the succulent flesh of tender sweet potato he can slowly pull apart and sink his lonely face into.


James Murphy, author of Heading South, is retired and loves to write engagingly, whether it's letters or journals or some riff playing in his head.


Resistance is Futile

by Cosmicrayola

We are the blog-borg-collective. We are black, white, yellow, American, Chinese, European, and a multitude of other colors, races, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We dare to share our words where no one has shared them before (the electronic age). We have opened new worlds to the hearing impaired, the shut-ins, the lonely, the bedridden, and the elderly that yesterday was out of reach so that they too can be heard, be involved and actively participate in the world. We have helped out new moms, we have made people laugh and we have offered support, entertainment and a place to blow off steam that may have saved someone from doing something they would regret. If Gene Roddenberry were alive and well, he would probably have a blog called Seven of 2,309,389,246 as we are many.


Cosmicrayola lives in RI with her hubby. She is the mom of two grown children and grandma to five. She just took early retirement and hopes to keep writing. Check out her online journal and her book - If You're Looking for Warm and Fuzzy, Buy a Dog!

A Far Away Place

by Joseph Grant

All the men went to war that fall, my brother Ryan among them. I remember the last Thanksgiving we had; he was full of youthful hubris, patriotism, Mom's turkey and more than a little bit of Dad's scotch. He joined up and after basic was shipped off to a far away place, a place of which none of us had ever heard. He was killed a day before his twenty-fifth birthday by an IED and I often wonder how he would look all these years later. I reflect back on that time as a turning point; as we would never be that young again; nor our family as whole or as cheerful. Now, when we get together during the holidays, his chair remains empty and self-consciously, we try not to stare at it too often, but we all do.


Joseph Grant, originally from New York City, currently resides in Los Angeles. His short stories have been published in over 40 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst. Upcoming pieces will soon be published in Literary Tonic. His work has also appeared in The New York Bar Guide (as a reviewer) and in various newspaper articles that have appeared in The Pasadena Star, Whittier News and the San Gabriel Tribune. "Indigo," a work of verse, was published by Alpha Beat Press, and he has recently completed his first novel.


White Collar

by Naomi Rochelle Garnice

The florescent lights in the building wash people out starchy and white like ghosts and the cubicles hold them frozen at their computers. You don't know names; you know the details that scatter and roll across their desks every day. A Styrofoam coffee cup with the shaky outline of red lipstick pressed firm like a post mark at the lip. A glossy picture of a girl who has stared out at you from a smooth magazine cover once, centered by a metal push pin she'll never see. A crushed cardboard pack of Marlboros and a photograph of two figures kissing held quiet and still behind a frame. The best workers always bring their dreams with them to work.


Naomi Rochelle Garnice, who made us Shiver, is the author of many other stories only slightly longer than this.

Long is the Winter of Our Discontent

by Victor S. Smith

"It's cold," she said; but she wasn't talking about the temperature. She was sitting on the end of the brown leather sofa, inviting me to sit next to her, but I couldn't. I was standing up, leaning against the walls of the small one bedroom we had shared for the last year and a half. "I don't know," my response lacked confidence, "I had a long day and I am just really... tired." She knew there was something else, but wouldn't bring it up; she let me drift aimlessly into the bedroom without following. She grabbed the blanket from the floor and pulled it tightly around her shoulders; it was going to be cold tonight.


Victor S. Smith, author of 45 Minutes in a Frenetic Imagination, has the fever for the flavor of a Pringle. He sporadically updates his blog Like Pollution and makes empty promises about posts relating to such outlandish topics as: Why "Big Trouble in Little China" is the best movie ever, and his 100 favorite songs of all time. He loves using two spaces after a period.


Going to Market

by Al Sensu

I'm thinking about going to the farmer's market. The peaches are coming in. I need some tomatoes as well. While I'm there, I might as well get some cucumbers for pickling. But I'm not certain I should go. Is today the day the market will be blown up by a car bomb?


Al Sensu is the author of two blogs, Erotischism and Hard & Fast. This piece is the first he's written that's not about sex. It was inspired by a typical week's news from Iraq.

Score One for the L Column

by Fritz

Don’t be fooled – there is such a thing as a dumb question. I know because I asked one during Mr. Reznor’s P&L presentation. “Any questions?” he said. “And remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question." I took the bait and asked, “What does P&L stand for?” After he laughed and said “very funny” and asked what my real question was, I panicked, couldn’t think, sat down, and quietly endured my reputation’s pummeling.


Fritz is on the fritz. Constantly.


Build Me Up

by Sara Crowley

She places a buttercup underneath his chin and watches the weed reflect its yellow glow. She leans closer, and inhales his clean, fresh scent. The sun is buttery too, mellow and low, casting shadows on the springy grass. “It’s all good,” she says, just to express it, the spread of happy, so rare. “Hmmm,” he replies, bored by her already, distractedly wondering what to put in the sandwich he is planning to go home and make. He has settled on tuna when she whispers her declaration of love.


Sara Crowley is (in no particular order) a mum, writer, daughter, bitch, sister, friend, bookseller, and wife. She has had stories published at Pulp.net and a couple of other online places. She has a blog, and appreciates you taking the time to read this.

Lesbians and Communists

by Katia Hetter

High school cheerleader Lois Lenz is torn between makeout sessions with her best friend and a future that includes the local junior college and marriage. Then her new guidance counselor sets her up with a job at a mysterious Bay City ad agency. In Nolan's send-up of 1950s lesbian pulp novels - there's even evil reefer! - Lois discovers lesbian secrets and Communist conspiracies. Will Lois succeed as a secretary and find true love? Or will Communists destroy her chances for happiness? Nolan squeezes her kicky premise for plenty of juice, leaving the pulp deliciously intact.


Katia Hetter is a book critic for Entertainment Weekly. Her six sentences - taken from the magazine's August 3rd, 2007 issue - are her word-for-word review of Monica Nolan's Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary.


The Toughest Job She Ever Loved

by Heather Leet

When she joined the Peace Corps she never guessed it would be the best and worst experience of her life. For two years she lived in that small village being both a foreigner and a native; her teaching job was both the hardest and easiest thing she had ever done. When she returned to the states her friends thought she had completely changed and not changed at all. At her first interview the interviewer was impressed with the exoticness of her experience and her normality. When she told people about her Peace Corps life they were both intrigued and put off. After awhile she stopped talking about it but she knew she would always be the girl with one foot here and one foot there.


Heather Leet, author of It Started with a Scab, is a modern day Robin Hood, but instead of stealing from the rich she cajoles them into giving her money to help fund programs that will hopefully one day make the world a better place. She spends not enough time writing on her blog, and hopes to one day publish her collection of Love Poems to Dictators.

I’ve Seen It All!

by Joe Julian

Lissen up, now! I've been to THREE county fairs, fought in a war, been immunized, been to a brandin', seen a human baby born, seen a naked woman besides my wife, been married only once, saw John F. Kennedy in person, been on trial once, drove over a hunnert miles an hour, stood atop a mountain, been in a car wreck, smoked cigarettes, had my appendix out and rode a boxcar all the way to Olympia, WA. I've attended an opera, rode a horse, drank whiskey straight from the bottle, swum nekkid in the river, been in a submarine, held a hummingbird in my hand, drove a truck, clumb a radio tower, flown a helicopter, had a boy and a girl child and sung on stage. But friends and neighbors, I ain't NEVER seen before what I'm about to tell you now. You know how youngsters today spray paint their initials on poles and buildings and bridges, called "Tagging”? Last Sattidy, (an' I swear it's true), I saw a "tagged" cow: spray painted initials right on her flank -- I can die knowing that now I've seen it all.


Joe Julian is a telecommunications equipment installer, an old geezer and a wanna-be writer.


Bitches in Flip-Flops

by Franklin Stone

Everywhere I look: bitches in flip-flops. Bouncing and flipping and flopping. Saying "oh my gooooood" into cell phones and sipping Starbucks and flipping and flopping. Flip. Flop. No doubt, my brother - it just wouldn't be summer without bitches in flip-flops.


Franklin Stone loves him some bitches in flip-flops.

Her Contradictions

by Reed Tangler

She golfs in bowling shoes. She loves gospel music but doesn’t believe in God. She loves farms and fields and wide open spaces but lives in a studio apartment in Queens. She loves Modigliani’s nudes but not Picasso’s. She loves conspiracy theories but feels Oswald acted alone. Those are hers; what are yours?


Reed Tangler gave us The Legend of Saint Lugo.



by Quin

He gave me the t-shirt, still damp from his body, wearing his scent, it was to tide me over until we saw each other again, he said. Letters filled with promises of phone calls that never materialized and the phrase "no time just now" answered my notes that fluctuated between chatty gossip and words of longing, and finally an admission of love, an admission met with a brief response, "you've put a burden on my shoulders." The t-shirt was washed, and became wrapped in my scent, covering the gaping hole in my being, an enormous wound that caused me to stop in the middle of the street, struggling to catch my breath, my bearing. Small steps taken, and a new lover, one I didn't think would be more than a breathing version of the shirt, one taken to ease the pain, rose from my bed and casually pulled it on, having left his fingerprints on my skin, proudly wearing mine on his own. Although physically it dwarfed him, I realized it was far too small for him after he turned to me, kissed me and asked what did I need, what did I want, and I knew his scent was the one that should be the one in the air around me. The man and his t-shirt are both in closets now of different kinds; both of them are dusty, sad, locked away, and longing for the sound of my laughter, the feel of my skin, the security of my love.


Quin isn't the real name. But, it'll do. Born and raised in New Orleans; that place will always be home. Time spent in Denver and Utah, where theater became a passion. Children are loved always; a terrier travels New York City with her; life is still to be discovered in many ways. She is the author of Love Letters.


by Kaydi Johnson

Better to be gutter-bound, cock-eyed and wasted, face to the firmament; or maybe face down, nose in a puddle; better in the gutter than in the shape of walking in any shape but this -- you can still walk. No you can't call it walking, if you can still walk, it's the stumble before your face hits the gutter -- the-four-drink-over-the-mark-limit might marry your nose to the curb. You always wanted to be married to something. Loneliness starves you -- four more cocktails are like new buddies on the block. If you’re still walking, you’ll search for a woman or man who understands you, maybe put your key into the ignition. A hooker on the corner winks if you're upright -- better to be in the gutter -- a drunk on his feet has a better chance of waking up lonely than the man who can't get home.


Kaydi Johnson is a songwriter, poet and novelist from Long Island, New York.


Chronicles of Deficiency

by Serena Spinello

Diaphoresis rouses me and I find myself surrounded by empty pill bottles. The scent of decay and rot revolts me and I am able to conclude that it is seeping out from both my pours and putrid soul. I stumble to the mirror to inspect my reflection; my skin is still pale, my shell is frail and my bones protrude, since they too are trying to abandon me. Running my worn fingers over my tragic arms I note my veins which are salient and ripe for entry. Searching for an antidote, I find, swig down, my trusty carafe of aqua vitae. There is no antidote that can extinguish the inferno that is ablaze in my core, so I venture back into the world, purposefully dressed in white to contract my impureness.


Serena Spinello is in the process of obtaining her M.A. in English. She enjoys writing, playing with her dog and making people feel awkward as often as possible.

How They Lost Their Hearing

by Dawn Corrigan

They’d huddle around the radio each evening, one of the older boys proudly in charge of twisting the dial away from commercials or songs that did not suit them, until he found one they liked. Then a joyous cry would ring out from whoever recognized the song first, hands would fly into the air, the boy stationed at the radio would turn the volume to 10 and they would all sing along in a cheerful croaking shout. Some of them danced a little, pairing up to do the Bump or the first few moves of the Lindy, but most were content to stand in place and stare at the radio or close their eyes as they sang all the words they knew by heart, and made them up when they didn’t. Several generations of the family grew up spending their childhood evenings this way. They became so accustomed to hearing music only through the distorted fuzz of a small radio played at top volume and the cacophony of their own voices that later, when some of them married and had a little money and went with their spouses to buy nice new stereo systems, they were astonished to hear the pristine sound quality that modern technology had made available, the perfect articulation of each voice and instrument, and disliked it. Over time they all became a little deaf.


Dawn Corrigan's fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at VerbSap, Pindeldyboz, Monkeybicycle, The Dream People, Rumble, 55 Words, Defenestration, and 3711 Atlantic. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown. (Radio as Random Fate is the previous piece in this series.)


The Tip

by Emily McPhillips

A man goes to the tip; in his car he has taken all his outlets of communication, a telephone, a mobile phone and a computer. He has covered them in a blanket; they sit in the back of his car looking very cared for. He then reaches in for these commodities of his and throws them into the tip, hurling them as far as he can, like a javelin thrower. He smiles at the sound of a gratifying crash as they hit the heap of broken beds, tables, busted television sets. He rests against the hood of his car and looks at the pile of rubbish rising high before him, watching as other cars park up and more objects begin to fly through the air. He leaves his car where it is parked and he walks home, his hands in his empty pockets.


Emily McPhillips was born in 1985. She lives in Manchester where she studies Journalism at Salford University. She has recently had her work published on 3am Magazine and Straight From The Fridge, and has work forthcoming for Dogmatika.

Lost Words

by mgirl

You were blinded by my tears. You couldn't hear my cries. You wouldn't listen when I told you enough, no more. You pushed me away day after day; I couldn't live with it anymore. Now I shut my door for the finale time and you say don't go, you can't go on without me, and that you finally realize what you have lost. Your words are lost, goodbye.


mgirl, author of I Want to Be Free, loves to read and write, is from Canada, is forty something and has just become a Grandma. Both of her children have moved out and she spends most of her time now reading, writing and in the garden.


The Girl Without a Beret

by Peter Wild

The first time I saw you, you reminded me of that painting by Lucien Freud, Girl With Beret. There was something flinty and quizzical in your eyes that just seemed to flip me over like a pancake in a skillet. Not that you were wearing a beret. You were wearing a scruffy little bobble hat, I think. A bobble hat and a parka. But, all the same, that first time I saw you, I knew it: you were a work of art.


Peter Wild, author of the 6S C1 Grand Prize Winning Hugger-Mugger, is the editor of The Flash & Perverted by Language: Fiction inspired by The Fall. You can read more here.

Love Letters

by Quin

When she made the decision to stop using electronic means to keep in touch, she went to a proper stationary store, and purchased rich, cotton paper that felt comfortable in her hands and retrieved her solid Waterman fountain pen from her desk, refilling the barrel from a bottle of black ink. It became an intense form of communication for her words, it was there she found her emotions, her tone sinking into the heavy paper with the ink, her very being absorbed as the pen moved while she wrote to her lover, her friends, and finally to her mother, the handwriting showing when her mind moved faster than she could write, tears staining the paper at times, bits of herself going into these missives of affection. Folded, sealed, addressed and stamped, she placed them into the mail to be sent off to those she cared for, knowing not all would write back, feeling better for having revived this all but lost art. They were received with appreciation for time spent; read, folded, some tied them up with a ribbon and put away, re-read later to hear her words sing from the paper. The mother took her letter from the postman's hand, weighing it in her own, knowing the distinct Catholic trained handwriting there on the square ivory envelope, a single piece of paper that held forgiveness and asked the same in return. Passing her precisely placed trashbasket, she crumpled it, tossing it in, muttering "two points" and it was lying there that the quality and breeding of the paper showed itself, slowly unfurling, releasing its creases so it was no longer as crushed as the receiver's soul.


Quin isn't the real name. But, it'll do. Born and raised in New Orleans; that place will always be home. Time spent in Denver and Utah, where theater became a passion. Children are loved always; a terrier travels New York City with her; life is still to be discovered in many ways. She is the author of Sex, Lies and Closed Captiona.


To Die Like a Man

by Leon Jackson Davenport

I can feel the sun's rays shining on my face as the commander stretches out his hands and ties the blindfold around my head. “Attention!” In these last few moments of life I’m gripped by the realization (fear) that my legacy will not be worth a passing thought; I who only wanted to be a farmer, to seed, nurture and harvest the crops that God so lovingly put in my charge; I who only wanted to take care of my family, help and respect my neighbors; (was) thrust into the path of history; (had to) stand up for myself; (demand) respect for being; fight back (win); all that matters now is the sun on my face telling me it will be a good day in the fields, plenty of work, luscious bounty from God; all that matters now is the blindfold on my face telling me I‘ve seen my last morning. “Parade ready, take aim!” Breathe, damn you, (in and out - one); I’ve failed my wife, my children, my people, (in and out - two); I’ll not cry or beg, because another everyman-hero shall be raised up and take the place I didn’t want, carry the mantle I couldn’t shoulder, stand and suffer until we win; all that is left for me is to die like a man. “Fire!”


Leon Jackson Davenport, an occasional short story writer, lives in New Jersey but enjoys thinking about being somewhere else. He is the author of R.L. Leonard, Deceased.

Radio as Random Fate

by Dawn Corrigan

Thereafter Mary was hooked, addicted to the opera. Wherever she lived from then on, she would find an opera house and attend almost every performance, a habit which her family found peculiar, since for them the opera was something foreign and therefore unpleasant. They explained her behavior away by saying to each other That’s what happens when you go to college, an explanation that seemed to account for all her differences from them. They had a ready explanation for Tommy’s obsession with his Irish heritage as well, assuring one another that it stemmed from the fact that Tommy’s father, Big Tommy, had died when Tommy was only six, at which time he, an only child, had been flung in to live amongst a swarming mass of Capuano cousins. His Irish music — and whiskey, and everything else — was an attempt, the Capuanos felt sure, to find a connection to his lost, beloved, Irish-surnamed father, and to recapture the relative quiet of his earliest childhood. But for the rest of the family their love affair with music was fueled by whatever happened to be playing on Top 40 radio at the time.


Dawn Corrigan's fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at VerbSap, Pindeldyboz, Monkeybicycle, The Dream People, Rumble, 55 Words, Defenestration, and 3711 Atlantic. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown. (Libiamo ne’lieti calici is the previous piece in this ongoing series.)


Long Way Home

by Shaindel Beers

Over the past month Paul had been saying things that appalled her, and she had started calling them “A-Paulings” to her friends. Today, on the bus, they had sat across from a woman in her early twenties who had two young children who giggled when Trina stuck her tongue out and made faces, but Paul seemed affronted. “She probably doesn’t know any better,” he whispered. “Know any better?” “Having two kids at her age when she obviously doesn’t have money; you shouldn’t encourage it - stop - now.” She reached up for the cord; this was her stop now.


Shaindel Beers's poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Most recently, her poem "Rewind" won first place in the general division of the Dylan Days poetry contest, honoring Bob Dylan, in his boyhood town of Hibbing, MN. Current work can be found online at The Apple Valley Review, Projected Letters, and Ignavia Press. Shaindel teaches at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, and is the Poetry Editor of Contrary.

The Big Scoop

by Rod Drake

It was the scoop that every reporter dreams of and schemes for; through lots of hard digging, following up on a million random tips, calling in every favor owed me and a few dirty deeds committed here and there, I finally had the interview of a lifetime: a one-on-one with God. Yes, the Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the King of the Universe, the Eternal Everlasting One, the Tetragrammaton, the Alpha and the Omega, the Big Guy Himself (or maybe Herself). I was to meet the Master of All Things, interestingly enough, in an anonymous dive in a rundown section of Brooklyn (after all, who could understand the Mind of God?). The bar, called the Afterlife, was pretty empty on a Tuesday afternoon, and as I searched out the dingy place, I had a feeling that I had been stood up, when I spied what had to be my interview Subject, but not at all what I had expected God to look like – Odin; one-eyed, ravens-sitting-on-his-shoulders, fully attired in Nordic battle armor, wearing furs, swords and a big red swirling cloak. He bid me a hearty welcome, and seeing my confusion, told me the Truth with a capital T – God, Yahweh, was indeed dead, having died back in 1966 when Time magazine announced it to everyone in their April 8 issue, cover headlined “Is God Dead?”, and since the universe hates a vacuum in its order, Odin was tapped to take over ruling the firmament, et al., in His place. A million questions shot frantically through my brain for a story that would stun the whole world, when Odin, omnipotent and all, winked his good eye at me and remarked, “No one will ever believe you, and I have no idea why things happen as they do in life either; no instruction manual came with the job,” and he laughed so hard and loud, that I couldn’t help but join in.


Rod Drake, author of In the Wall, believes that if wishes were indeed horses, he would have an awful lot of horses to corral. Check out his longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward and MicroHorror.)



by Stephanie Bee

In daylight it is unmentionable. At night, the memories disintegrate into a fine, black soot; a gritty blanket of powder that blurs the lines of history. Only in dreams will I allow myself to look back on it. I was the Little Boy on August 6th and he was a sleepy town. There was that terrible moment of silence both before and after. Out of love he never asked me to look at the damage I caused.


Stephanie Bee, author of I Loved Him Enough to Allow It, was trained as an investigative reporter, and has lived all over the world, including London and Australia. She currently resides in New York City with two fabulous roommates who politely deal with her assortment of male suitors. You can read more about the sagas of Stephanie's love life (and other adventures) at Spread Eagle in NYC.

Heading South

by James Murphy

All these years Gene has grown up in Tuscaloosa he's been aware of the flat landscape sloping, as he imagines it, all the way to the Gulf. That landscape never visited, like adulthood, seems exotic, colored more by legend and rumor than by reality. Part of this foreignness, he knows, is because the next town to the south is Demopolis, its name suggesting nothing of southern Alabama. Graduated now, Gene thnks of facing the uncharted days and years ahead with the same restless anxiety he views that unexplored area of the map, blank and unrecorded in his consciousness. To migrate south is to enter into an unknown unregulated as yet by years and events just as there are roads and towns he, Columbus-like, has yet to find. The northern way explored, Gene keeps his face toward the south as he steps forward, his thumb toward the highway and the cars barreling by with purpose.


James Murphy is retired and loves to write engagingly, whether it's letters or journals or some riff playing in his head.


Hog Tamer

by Adam J. Whitlatch

With a trembling hand, I opened the garage door and tore off the dirty blue tarp. For a moment I just stared at the beautiful cherry red Harley Davidson motorcycle shimmering in the morning sun. My poor father wasn't man enough for this bike. I warned him. I told him he would never tame it, but he just wouldn't listen. "I'll tame you," I said, raising the sledgehammer high above my head.


Adam J. Whitlatch, who gave us Save One For Yourself, is the author of numerous horror and science fiction short stories, as well as the novel The Blood Raven: Retribution. He lives on a small farm in southern Iowa with his wife, Jessica, and their two children, where he continues to write new short stories and novels.

The Long Box

by Alun Williams

I buried my dad in a graveyard filled with dead American heroes last week and felt guilty that he died at the age of eighty two. When I emptied his house out today, I found something that made me even more ashamed. It was a long metal box that had been hidden in the corner of the attic under an old Arapaoho blanket that my mom had brought twenty years ago. Inside the box was a telescopic rifle, a Bank of America deposit book that had four million dollars in the "deposited" column and a short note. The note said that he was sorry for what he did and that If I ever found this, I should throw it in the nearest lake. It went on to say what he did on that grassy knoll in Dallas all those years ago.


Alun Williams, ex-member of East of the Web and author of Walking the Dog, lives in Wales. He now writes in Critters Bar and Zoetrope under "maxie slim" and "Maxwell Allen." Several shorts by Alun have been published in Write Side Up, Cambrensis and Secret Attic.


Sex, Lies and Closed Captiona

by Quin

It took a multitude of dates, of fumbled gropings in her bed or theirs, of that uncomfortable dash for a taxi whose driver would glance at you knowingly before she realized she was happier with faux sex. She became an artiste, the phonefuck her canvas, something as unreal as the pleather that covered her furniture. The pleather soothed her vegetarian sensibilities because the material allowed her the look of leather without the guilt and the phonefuck allowed her to have sex under her control. It was on that pleather sofa that she reclined, a veritable Scheherazade, dressed not in silks, but in her sensible cotton pajamas, headset in place, weaving her tales of girls in school uniforms and dominatrix mistresses and women in rubber girdles for her select clientele who passed the rigorous selection process necessary to receive a call. She used her honey coated throaty voice to bring them to their moaning end, swearing they were with her in person, grateful to pay the exorbitant prices she charged, not knowing she watched her television with the sound off, cheating on occasion by stealing ideas from the multitude of porn channels there for one's viewing pleasure, allowing her to remain distanced from what she did or said. It was only when she was met by silence after passionately uttering the words "Fick me in my cubt!" that she realized spelling and accuracy in typing weren't necessary job requirements for the person who worked the closed caption desk.


Quin isn't the real name. But, it'll do. Born and raised in New Orleans; that place will always be home. Time spent in Denver and Utah, where theater became a passion. Children are loved always; a terrier travels New York City with her; life is still to be discovered in many ways. She is the author of The Golden Child.

Walking by the Lake

by Gillian L. Lockwood

We are walking by the lake, enveloped in the warm spring evening. A haze hovers over the water in an eerie stillness that spreads it's wings, bringing a hush upon the shore. We lower our voices in this misty light, that is neither day not night. It is as if we have entered another world, or strayed to the shore of the River Styx. We stand in silence, each of us letting our imaginations take us to a place that this scene before us conjures up. But in reality we know that we are stood watching the smog roll by, on the shores of Lake Ontario.


Gillian L. Lockwood, author of Sleepless in BC, lives in British Columbia. She enjoys reading and one day hopes to write reasonably well.


Let's Play Two

by Teresa Tumminello Brader

Flexing the ball in his hand toward us in our hitters' stance at home plate, Daddy instructs us to “keep your eye on the white potato.” Right before he pitches the ball, ignoring our impatience, he reminds us again to “keep your eye on the ball until it hits the bat.” He doesn’t call the ball a potato then. If we try to be fancy when a fly ball’s hit to us, thus dropping it or not even coming close to catching it, he admonishes us with “two hands while learning.” He uses a different tone of voice to us than when he barks that same command to the major leaguers on TV: we learn then that even the greatest players make mistakes. When we ask why he calls the baseball a potato, Daddy just smiles.


Teresa Tumminello Brader, author of Late Shift, was born in New Orleans and lives in the area still. Her short fiction can be found at Rumble, The Flask Review and in upcoming issues of Long Story Short and Brink.

Libiamo ne’lieti calici

by Dawn Corrigan

The only other member of the family to revisit its heritage in her music choices was Tommy and Shelly’s daughter Mary, who years later when she was away at college befriended a young woman who was an aspiring opera singer. When Doris secured a position in a small local opera company, Mary began to attend their performances, an act of loyalty that was tested not only by the performances themselves, which Mary, having no previous exposure to opera, found dull and incomprehensible, but by the food. The company performed at a dinner theatre, so each show was accompanied by a meal of soggy pasta, limp salad, and lumpy cheesecake. Mary sat through each one in a narcoleptic daze, the music an annoying distraction from her thoughts rather than serving as the heavenly accompaniment and source of them which is music’s purest role. Then the company performed La Traviata. Mary was swirling her spoon through a mass of rice pudding when they launched into “Libiamo ne’lieti calici” and suddenly she felt her own heartbeat like a knock upon her mind’s door.


Dawn Corrigan once had The Wrong Idea. Her fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at VerbSap, Pindeldyboz, Monkeybicycle, The Dream People, Rumble, 55 Words, Defenestration, and 3711 Atlantic. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown.



by Kimi Goodrich

Philematology is the technical name for the study of kissing, and the Romans even had the wherewithal to name 4 types of kisses. Osculum was a kiss on the cheek. Basium was a kiss on the lips. Savolium was a deep kiss. Osculum Pacis was a holy kiss. So I wonder... what would “kiss my ass” be called?


Kimi Goodrich, author of The Picture, has a confession to make. She is addicted to the website Penance 7 and is actively sinning in order to anonymously confess.

Insane Jealousy = Physical Pain

by Anonymous

I wanted him more than air which elicited all kinds of crazy emotions inside of me. When he introduced me to his girlfriend, I had the audacity to be insanely jealous, a feeling at once foreign and immediately right at home. My heart catapulted in my chest, threatening to choke my very life. My breath got this uneven keel, a half gulping, gasping that couldn't possibly be right, sending a flush through my chest which spread in both directions. I felt myself burning up all the way to my face, while a cool disbelieving sweat broke out on my upper lip and forehead. The green envy crept up my body, squeezing tighter than ivy, putting more itchy venom in me than its cousin poison – I was jealous of her... even though I was the one who was married.


Anonymous isn't really anonymous, but she doesn't feel like giving up her identity right now.


Save One For Yourself

by Adam J. Whitlatch

I can hear them outside the room; scratching, moaning, and gnawing at the door like mindless animals, but then that’s exactly what they are, aren’t they? Only the sound of their moaning and their incessant attempts to break down the door keep me company as my final candle burns low and begins to sputter out. I check the heavy revolver in my hand and frown at the single remaining bullet in the cylinder, wishing I hadn’t needed the other bullet to put down my friend when he began to come back. “Save one for yourself,” he told me as he handed me the revolver just before he died. As the first ghoul’s hand bursts through the splintered wood, I press the barrel against the bottom of my chin and whisper a prayer as I slowly squeeze the trigger, but my heart stops as the hammer clicks loudly against the dud bullet. Oh, shit.


Adam J. Whitlatch is the author of numerous horror and science fiction short stories, as well as the novel The Blood Raven: Retribution. He lives on a small farm in southern Iowa with his wife, Jessica, and their two children, where he continues to write new short stories and novels.

Frozen Diners

by Larry Tipton

The velociraptor awaited in his icy prison, his body still near stasis yet his mind as quick as ever. He could sense his whole pack, frozen nearby. It wouldn't be long now - the humans had seen to that with their selfish dumping of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. His former planet, his former life would soon thaw back into existence. And he would be back on top of the food chain once again. Soon.


Larry Tipton is a glorified underacheiver who still enjoys eating Crunch Berries for breakfast. He looks forward to the time when he is old and grumpy enough to be hired as a Marshall for a public golf course. He lives in the Midwest with his wife, two sons, and a cat that is not named "Gretzky."