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    The Tale of the Carry-On Culprits by Jackie Fender

    I shuffled through the usual envelopes containing statements of financial obligation, fliers emblazoned with stellar deals at this or that establishment, more bills and then….what was this? A thick, white envelope with a blue border and my name and address scrawled in black ink on the front. There was no impending special occasion, no cause for a friend to send snail mail so the non-bill correspondence was unexpected. No name could be found with the return address and as I flipped the envelope over to open it, upon further examination I spied a thumb print, in what could have been blood?! My heartbeat quickened as I tore the paper open,…

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    Valhalla Falls by Martin Chase

    A clash of steel, of blade upon horned helm, And axe against mailed breast. Fiery darts Piercing inky skies and warriors’ hearts, As battle-spilt blood flows free through our realm.   Then we are routed, surrounded by foe, Us Hammer-Folk, fifty in all, trapped by Two-hundred, raiding Cross-Folk spear and bow. Their king Harald demands thus: kneel or die!   But to them, we swear by our war-gods nay! We would, in glorious sortie this day Fall! Buri our jarl strikes Harald’s shield-man, And with blood-lust, to fateful fight, we ran!.

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    Retreat by Lynn Savage

    Paula nibbled her right index fingernail and stifled a chuckle, a half-eaten Tupperware container of Fiddle Faddle shaking on her lap. Doug snorted beside her, not from amusement but sleep apnea. Their doctor suggested a CPAP, but somehow the money for such third-tier necessities was always a paycheck away. Either Hannah needed a dental retainer, Logan had Little League camp, or Paula’s aging Durango threw a rod on the 405. Doug hoped to take the kids down to San Diego this summer, see Shamu before the activists had SeaWorld shut down, but it’d take an economic miracle to make that happen. After another bite of caramel-coated relief, Paula resealed the…