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2013 Original Fiction


A Home in the Dark

We didn’t even notice the calamity and probably slept through it. If a luxury liner takes on a little water, that’s not news; if the ship keels over or sinks, that’s news. If a racecar driver whined to national media about a slight rear-end shimmy at 180mph, he’d be laughed out of the pit, whereas if he crashed and made a fireball, it would be noteworthy on the old daily feed. Most Southern California quakes are akin to one misstep while strolling.


57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides

1. Because it would take the patience of a saint or Dalai Lama to smilingly turn the other cheek to those six savage boys day after day, to emerge unembittered from each new round of psychological and physical assaults; whereas I, Jared Shumsky, aged sixteen, have many things, like pimples and the bottom bunk bed in a trailer, and clothes that smell like cherry car air fresheners, but no particular strength or patience.


Waiting for the Light

It had taken three days before the supervisor—“call me Marty”—asked Finn for the favour. He knew by the looks on the faces of the other staff—the little upturning of their heads that meant they were listening, but weren’t going to show it—that it wasn’t going to be a good favour.


The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men

The crew is drowned, the ship is flayed to ribbons and splinters, and her own arms are a-rotted down to yellowed bone and salt-cured jerky not even the gulls will touch. Cross-legged on her chunk of life-raft, staring at that familiar line of decaying blubber through the spyglass, all Captain Perth can think, over and over again, is: just a little further. Just a little further and things will right themselves, if only I am strong.


The Crowgirl

From the camp on the hill they could see everything, the river and the barn with its silos of molding grain, the hunting crows, and far to the west, in the square white farmhouse with its padlocked cellar door, the congregation of the Dead.


10/31: Bloody Mary

The boy isn’t very large. The way things are these days, he figures that’s a plus. He is less of a target at night, and for this reason he has come to trust the darkness. Strange to trust darkness in a world overrun with nightmares . . . but that’s the way it is.


The Nest

“Come in, come in!” the man said, sitting like a god in the middle of the room, grinning at me through broken teeth. He levered himself out of his chair, breathing heavily, and then tottered over to the wall and pressed hard against it. Under his hand, ants scurried frantically through their tunnels. “It’s quite safe. Two solid sheets of Perspex, each over an inch thick, layered over the original house’s walls. They’ve got a gap of about four inches between them, for the dirt, but the whole thing is completely sealed. There’s no chance of them escaping.”


Halfway Home

“Those diagrams are terribly optimistic,” the woman in the seat beside me said, eyeing the brochure as our plane climbed away from Manila. She spoke masterful English, clipped with a Filipino accent. “Let’s hope we never have to test that theory.”


All My Princes Are Gone

When the world was young, it was filled with monsters.


How Far to Englishman’s Bay

Max had made the decision that April morning to close up the bookshop and go away for once and for all, but he hadn’t told anyone yet, and he needed somebody to take the cat, so it was a good thing Jeffrey showed up an hour before closing.