A day at the…

Dark night
yellow squares flicker
through bare trees,
the sound of a tornado
on cold steel,
the scream from nowhere,
a flashing red bumblebee light moves across the sky,
flatlined—

Sunday matinee—
buttered popcorn &
an empty box of Milk Duds

Susan Beth Furst

A day at the…

The Doubt

Entering, I contemplate the horseshoes on the doors … and if he had invited me only to ward off the misfortune that brings with it being in thirteen at the table?

autumn wind –
we pronounce words
without weighing them

Antonietta Losito

The Doubt

Affascino

I’m in bed with migraine and my mother already thinks about the signs of the cross, the secret formulas, the Ave Maria, the saucer with water, oil and salt.

the first warm –
still problems
of sinusitis

Antonietta Losito

Note: The Affascino is a spell which an envious person casts upon his or her victim. Less serious effects are  headaches, drowsiness,apparently incomprehensible illnesses.The ritual (sfascinatura) to dissolve the evil eye ( il malocchio) is secret and can only be handed down to three people in the course of life. It  is different  according to the geographical area of south Italy (Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria…

Affascino

Ice Queen

Alice was always such a pleasant lady bringing in her baking efforts to please colleagues. The latest cupcakes were a summer special, delicately topped off with iced butterflies in vivid hues of scarlet and blue. But as Tom bit into his, the butterfly slid onto the carpet. Alice was crestfallen, a tear smearing her black eye shadow.

office laughter
the voices in her head
louder than before

Come Halloween, Alice brought in a new tray of cupcakes all decked with an intricately iced death’s head hawk-moth. The skull markings were unnervingly accurate, chocolate chips concealed deep within. Tom was the first to tuck in….

first mouthful
a sickly sweet smile
on her lips

 

Tim Gardiner

Ice Queen

The Skeleton Overlord

As the afternoon drags on, I turn to my choose your own adventure book to fill the hours. Nearing the end of my search for the skeleton overlord, Thorax, I find myself resuming the quest in a poorly lit cavern deep inside Skeleton Mountain. The imposing figure of Thorax inches forward from the shadows; his booming voice exclaiming “Choose your fate, warrior! Run away or stay and fight my skeleton army.” You hear the distant clattering of skeletal feet getting nearer; Thorax’s army is almost upon you from the dark tunnel to your right. Do you stay and fight the skeleton horde (entry 3), attack Thorax (entry 4) or run down the tunnel to the left (entry 9)?

1. Your energy slowly diminishes with each blow you receive. The skeletons are controlled by Thorax; the necromancer’s magic too powerful to break. Your last hope is the ashwood staff stolen from the warlock, Jorvik. In the throng of combat, you have forgotten whether the staff should be tapped once or twice on the rocks to unleash its power. Do you tap once (entry 10) or twice (entry 6)?

2. The skeletal opponents engage you in combat. They are many in number but quite weak individually so you manage to smash their bones easily with your sharp blade. However, as soon as you defeat one their bones rise from the ground, weave back together, and they attack once more. Go to entry 7.

3. You jump into position ready for the final duel with Thorax’s undead army. They funnel into the cavern, wave after wave, their animated bones hungry for hobgoblin flesh. As quick as you can defeat them, their smashed bones rise from the ground, stitch back together and they attack you again with renewed aggression. You will soon be overwhelmed. Turn to entry 1.

4. Leaping forward you draw your sword from its scabbard and engage Thorax in a duel. You score a few early blows but it’s soon clear that the overlord has superior strength, possessing a demonic fury. With considerable agility, he backs you into a corner. Do you surrender (entry 11) or continue to fight (entry 5)?

5. Your tired arms parry and thrust with the overlord, but his undead power is too much for you to resist any longer. Go to entry 12.

6. The staff doesn’t respond to your taps. It’s merely a worthless piece of ashwood you think as Thorax towers over you, his tall shadow masking your shaking limbs. Turn to entry 8.

7. The battle continues; the clink of swords resounds against the dripping walls of the tunnel. Vanquished skeletons continue to rise from the ground though, bones reforming ready for action. You are beginning to tire and will soon be defeated by the undead army. You have failed in your quest and Thorax will rule over the kingdom of Thalucia forever.

large or small…
childhood choices
don’t matter now

8. “I have a use for you as a slave on my battleship, Talus.” You will spend the rest of your days in the miserable conditions on board, travelling the ocean. Your adventure has reached a tragic conclusion.

captured by
the flickering light…
spider’s web

9. You dash into the tunnel entrance, closely pursued by the skeleton warriors. After running for a short while you reach a dead end; there is no escape from the chasing horde. Turning around, you have no choice but to fight. Go to entry 2.

10. The headpiece of Jorvik’s staff begins to glow brightly. Thorax scuttles towards you, eye sockets red with rage. Orange fire streaks from the staff into the overlord’s eyes, shattering his skull into a thousand shards. Thorax’s bones crash onto the cavern floor along with those of the skeleton army. Defeating the overlord has broken the spell he cast over the undead horde; their bones will not rise anymore. Go to entry 13.

11. You wave your hands in a gesture of surrender. “Do you think I will show mercy, pathetic warrior?” rasps Thorax. Upon his words the skeleton horde bursts into the cavern and quickly surrounds you. Go to entry 8.

12. With a fearsome swing of Thorax’s sword, your blade is sliced in two. You are now defenceless against the overlord who begins to chant some kind of spell. Your flesh begins to decay rapidly, exposing the bones beneath. You will soon be just another skeleton warrior in Thorax’s undead army, fighting to protect your master for eternity.

story’s end
even words
are not immortal

13. You have defeated the evil overlord and his undead army. The kingdom of Thalucia has been liberated from Thorax’s tyrannical reign and peace is restored to the land.

1 in 3 chance…
no way of knowing
the path to take

 

Tim Gardiner

The Skeleton Overlord

Well, Obviously

The answer is always “aliens.” Every question, every query, every pondering—”aliens.” He is a man obsessed. He watches “Ancient Aliens” every night, says it’s the best documentary series on television. He attends UFO conventions every month, armed with his double-sided lightsaber, ready to spread the logic of the Vulcans to nonbelievers. He even owns a blow-up doll of a green-skinned alien with bugged-out eyes and takes it to bed with him every night. Not that he does anything weird with it.

conspiracy theorist
why is his hair so messy
aliens

 

Elizabeth Alford

Well, Obviously

Buffalo Wallow

Swamp night in frowsty summer. At Kutsu’s house, his great-grand’s three-room prairie villa, smoke sleaves out our tight wet leers. Rosemary royals the hose harsh. Crozzled schwag ashes tongues tin-brined with near beer blech, ponged by blue Solo pyramids. In the morning, church, Welch’s communion to burn off the chaos spirit, the florid bloom of free defiance.

backyard
shadow clowns
mingling dust
Seth Copeland

 

Buffalo Wallow