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Fiction

Fiction

Bridge of Sighs

Terry needed a fresh ghost, so he dressed warmly and headed out, camera around his neck, syringes safely packed into the bag over his shoulder. There were many places to look. People committed suicide in surprising places sometimes, such as a change room in a large department store, or the car park at a primary school, or under the pier at the beach, but more often they jumped from the tops of buildings, from bridges, from dams.

Fiction

All the Hidden Places

“Can we stop?” asked Nikki, panting, her face tingling from the assault of the cold. Her fingers were numb, her nose running. Her lungs burned. “When we reach the trees,” her father said. He was a few feet in front of her, walking steadily against the wind. Ahead of them was an island of snow-capped pine trees. After hours of walking, the island—once just a small patch of green and white in the middle of the frozen lake—now loomed as an expanse of dense wilderness. The lake stretched behind them in every direction.

Fiction

The Glottal Stop

Dating cis was rough, no doubt. For any woman, but especially for Beatriz Almonte, a living meme who had several years ago made a mistake and gained the attention of a secret bulletin board full of trolls for whom harassing her was a vocation not dissimilar from the priesthood. She had no more free background checks left on Spinstr, but was bored and horny enough to do without just this once and press *sm00ch* on some guy’s face. Another mistake.

Fiction

58 Rules to Ensure Your Husband Loves You Forever

(23) No man jokes with food. Does your husband like a kind of food? Try to change your cooking. Rumour has it that in the early mornings, the expressways of Abuja are littered with dead bodies. Iman’s Toyota cut through the dusty fog of the early morning, the dark outside her windscreen occasionally broken by the few working streetlights. Never passing the forty km speed limit, Iman drove down Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway till it became Shehu Yar’Adua Way.

Fiction

We Are All Monsters Here

So disappointing. After decades of movies and TV shows and books filled with creatures by turns terrifying and tempting, it was a guarantee that the real thing could never live up to the hype. We knew that. Yet we were still disappointed. When the first stories hit the news—always from some distant place we’d never visited or planned to visit—the jokes followed. Late-night comedy routines, YouTube videos, Internet memes . . . people had a blast mocking the reality of vampires.

Fiction

Quiet the Dead

Stray spirits stirred in the dark. They lay like oil slicks across the asphalt, pulled their misty bodies in and out of the doors of Swine Hill’s pork processing plant, and drifted storm-like in Kay’s wake. Her every hot breath was full of the dead. The man had crossed her. Had shouldered into her on the crowded butchery floor where she leaned over a workstation and hacked through bone and bleeding pig meat. Had stolen knives and gloves from the locker that everyone knew was hers.

Fiction

Bitter Perfume

I kissed my great-grandmother on the top of her dusty black wig and asked what she would like for her birthday. I had already sewn her a jewelry roll and mixed her a new skin-softening oil—the best I could afford to do since I had lost my job—but you don’t turn a hundred and twenty-five every day. Abuelita turned her milky eyes to me and lifted a trembling, withered hand from her rosary to beckon me closer. “Quiero morir,” she whispered in my ear. I want to die.

Fiction

On the Origin of Specie

In the tower where the tax collectors go, I am taken blindfolded up steps and through passages and through interminable pauses in open spaces, myself stumbling and held upright through a firm grip on my upper arm. In those pauses, and sometimes in passing while we move, the master of that grip speaks to others, their fellow bailiffs. The content of these exchanges is indistinct to me, a mumbling burr that I can only distinguish from other noises as the recognizably unnatural rhythm of human speech. My other senses have muffled themselves in solidarity with my vision.

Fiction

Headstone in Your Pocket

The sun is high but it feels low, its heat close and heavy enough to push heads down and slump shoulders. Border Patrol Agent Joe Marquez runs his hand along the tractor-trailer, and chips of white paint break off and crumble to dust under his fingertips, like dried leaves from a dead houseplant. There are rustling noises inside the truck, trapped spirits, humanity in a tin can. He wonders if they’ll emerge in any better shape than the trailer’s paint job.

Fiction

What It Sounds Like When You Fall

It’s Uncle Pete’s funeral today, so he puts on his good brown suit with the brass buttons, and we all set out for the cemetery before the sun is up, because we don’t want to get too hot in our good clothes on our way there. Uncle Pete and Pa walk in front, me and Ma follow. When we get there, Uncle Pete’s grave is waiting, shallow and open, and the plaque has already been engraved with his name. Under it, there’s his date of birth and today’s date, even though we don’t know how long it’ll take him to really die.