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    Pike by Gregory Knight Miskin

    The curve of the claw arched from the boy’s sternum to his clavicle, pushing hard enough against his throat to choke without puncturing his skin. He gagged and coughed, from the claw, the weight mashing him into the mud, and the stench of rotting fish. The boy tried to push away the claw at his neck but had zero impact. He wiped away his tears with the sleeve of his jacket. “No, no, don’t. Please?” The beast huffed once, then again, then deeper until, unmistakably, it burst into a diesel-throated laugh. Three more creatures slipped into the boy’s view, their split tongues tasting the air, crouching ever closer. “Pojkar smakar…

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    Necking by Titus Burley

    Claire sought amidst the distraction of minted breath and soft kisses to remember the guy’s name. Guilt stabbed even as desire propelled. One should know the name of the dude with whom one was making out. But then, everything about the encounter felt off kilter – like a love song strummed on an out of tune guitar. She should never have let her office pal, Julie, talk her into this Halloween bar hopping escapade. Claire wasn’t twenty-one anymore. Bars were for kids on the make or forty somethings on the rebound. Respectable thirty-three year old, unattached, cat rescuing, career women didn’t costume up and grow progressively bleary as they wove…

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    Bevy of Beasts by Fairy Gothmother

    The Fairy Godmother is well aware that you’ve been bullied and teased. And she’s given you plenty of options for bringing those fiends to their knees.   There’s no escaping her murder of crows as their airship floats through the sky. Clouds of bats will blot out the sun as a wake of buzzards drops by.   Their autos, bikes and carriages might swarm with a nest of snakes. A quiver of cobras and rhumba of rattlers know how to dismantle the brakes.   Out on their ferry they’ll never be safe from her armies of frogs and toads. A cluster of spiders and mischief of mice will shadow nearby…

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    A Night in the Satyrtown by Cameron W. Kobes

    Matt came home from his insurance job at promptly six o’clock, as any respectable man would. He parked on the curb beside the carefully manicured grass and walked up the stone path to his white two-story house. His wife Judy greeted him with a kiss and told him dinner was almost ready. As he looked through the mail on the table, he saw little Tommy’s report card, and was pleased to see that the boy was earning As in all his classes. The family sat down to their dinner of mashed potatoes and steak, and Tommy asked if he could play with his friends when he finished. “Sure, just come…

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    Love & Monsters by Christina Butcher

    Hunter watched her pour hot water into the French Press. She pored it clockwise, slowly covering the coffee grounds while letting the steam rise up into her face. She wanted slow coffee, she had told him. Slow love. Everything slow, slow, slow. But he couldn’t stand it anymore. He wanted, and needed, more from her. She never let him kiss her lips, or hold her while they lied in bed. They seldom made love. Hunter stood behind Aurora. He drew his hand across her back, feeling the soft cotton of her t shirt as he let his hand tangle up in her long hair. He leaned in to kiss her…

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    The Vultures of The Westridge Apartments by Joshua Swainston

    On Thursday morning, Mr. Mitrovic’s body was found hanging in the stairwell. He secured one end of the blue half-inch polypropylene rope to an eighth floor banister post, and the other end around his neck. I’m not going to tell you he was a good man, because I don’t know if that was true. And I am not going to tell you I am sorry that he’s gone either. I never really liked him when he was alive, so why should I feel any different now. We lived across the hall from each other for six years, I in apartment 8A, and Mr. Mitrovic in apartment 8B. He made the…

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    Mother Night by Elizabeth Beck and Brandon Fritts

    Diana was completely out of ideas and Halloween Night was only hours away. She hated the mass-produced junk at the pop-up stores that took over empty buildings in her town. They were a reminder of all the small shops that had shuttered in the drawn-out death of economic downturn. She preferred to spend time finding all the perfect components for the perfect costume, even though usually nobody but she knew the attention to detail. This year had been a failure. Time and money had been stretched and her creative well was a couple drops from dry. With a sigh, she resigned herself to plastic and one-piece getups two feet too…

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    Confessions of a Killer by Jo-Ann Allan-Forbes

      Today, I was an accomplice to murder. I took not just one life, but three, all in a matter of minutes.  It started out like any other early January morning—black and cold with a cranky, relentless siren screaming at me from the nightstand.  I fumbled with the snooze button, but in the end, settled for knocking the meddling clock off the nightstand and falling out of bed onto a pile of dirty clothes.  I dodged stray toys on the way to the bathroom and barely made it there alive.  That was nothing.  The real trouble began just as I was getting out of the shower.  There I stood, shivering…