• “Suerte” by Kirsten Schowalter

    “Now approaching platform 2.” “Fremont train now approaching platform 2.” “Fremont train platform 2.” Snap. Huh. I swing my North Face backpack over my right shoulder, stuff my Cal lanyard and student ID in my purse, and hoist my carry-on size luggage over the threshold and onto the train. I’m going to be sitting on a plane for the next several hours on my way to Tacoma, WA for the holidays. I briefly consider standing on the train, but the sea of empty seats and the aching between my shoulders makes me decide otherwise. I don’t like sitting in the seats near the door set aside for the elderly or…

  • “Fuel for Fire” by Ceci Omri

    I smelled cedarwood burning. The fire popped while I lay motionless, completely enamored with the very thing that could destroy me. The flame was strong.  Blazing red overtook the irises of my eyes. I knew I couldn’t stay here forever, though it was all I had begged for. I reached out — touched the flames. I flinched.  It burned, and I couldn’t help but make it kiss my fingertips again. It danced in response, but I heard no music. There was nothing in the background. Just darkness, silence and that one single flame. How I got there I don’t know, but leaving was not an option. The warmth drew me…

  • “Entropic June” by James Stuart

    In one of the spare seconds when the wind isn’t blowing and the train is miles off yet, Russ holds his breath and stands perfectly motionless atop a mountain of discarded kitchen tile. Focusing intently on the elimination of distraction and need, he pretends for a moment the entire world has frozen. He doesn’t blink, doesn’t scratch the itches which come from nowhere, tries even to slow the beating of his heart – although this proves useless, especially when his lungs begin to burn and his body panics instinctively. Nonetheless, he struggles in a desperate attempt to find even ten seconds of motionlessness – a momentary break in the perpetual…

  • “Working on the Waterfront” by Erik Carlsen

    Editor’s Note: Do not approach distressed seal pups. “If you believe a Harbor Seal pup or other marine mammal has been unattended by his mom for more than 48 hours, or is clearly in distress or injured, contact the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network Hotline at 1.866.767.6114.”   Every morning there are rats Passed out from drinking The leftover booze That pools underneath The restaurant’s dumpster.   Some of the men that arrive early in the morning to fish Kick the rats into the water. Some swim to the floating dock, And hold onto the rope that is tied to the floats. Others do not.   There are dogs that sleep in…

  • “The Seventh Swan” Excerpt by Bethany Maines

    Chapter 1 Keelia Black of the Swan Clan watched through the domed glass of the hanger deck as her ship, the Black Light, exploded in a fiery blossom, beautiful and silent against the inky blackness of space. In front of her, Easton, her second oldest brother, dropped to his knees and began the Prayers for the Damned. “You have just violated intergalactic law,” said Niall, the eldest, his voice hoarse with rage. Fang Nazari laughed. It wasn’t a mad laugh. Or even particularly evil. Fang was delighted, as if Niall had promised her double desserts after dinner. “I know!” She drew a deep breath, as if inhaling the smell of…

  • “The Glitter of Gold” Excerpt by J.M. Phillippe

    Chapter 3 – The Corporate Spy She was going to get caught. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. She’d played out every scenario she could as she hunched down below the smooth white counter, and not a single one was going to get her out of this mess. Aderyn Ryder’s original plan was to get in, get a copy of the data, and get out. But none of her research had indicated that the lead tech had a severe case of paranoia and a bio-locked workstation that was impossible to hack into with the genetic material Aderyn had on hand, which did include that of the lead tech,…

  • “The Little Nebula” Excerpt by Karen Harris Tully

    Chapter 1: Satellite Surfing “[T]he youngest was the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea; but, like all the others, she had no feet, and her body ended in a fish’s tail.” —Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid (1836)   Luminous was an energetic nebula, as far as nebulae go. Living in the cold, near-vacuum of space, made up of energy, gas, and dust, she refused to settle for the gravitational pull of any of the larger celestial bodies, like her siblings kept advising her. Why would she want that? Her surfing verged on…

  • “Knock-Knock” by Jackie Fender

    I half expect Will to pull up to my house with the words “Free Candy!” spray painted on the side one day. A large rectangular hooptie of a vehicle. Dusty ebony in color. One single window at the rear. My friend and I mount ourselves into his creeper van. Will agreed to join me on this journey. An adventure of sorts for a couple of teens. We have planned a drive, from Fife to Eatonville, to knock on what I suspected was my mother’s door. She isn’t expecting us. As a matter of fact, she hadn’t seen me in 11 years. Like many kids, my parents divorced when I was…

  • “The Crisp Crease in Her Book Corner” by Sasha Victor

    1. The crisp crease in her book corner Demarcates a ceasefire That she may rest for fresh wars to rage in her heart tomorrow.   2. She watches the tired pages, set standing sternly on the dreary shelf, As they look at her. She is sure they’re as jealous at being apart as she, yearning also to unfold themselves. Her weary eyes wrest sleep from her curious heart.   3. But only fleetingly. Before the mists can lift in the morning She un-creases the crisp corner, lifting the armistice momentarily. She gladly trudges back into the mire, Her anxious heart burning to unfold further, To demarcate, to lay claim to…

  • “Fotavtrykk” by Tyler Appleby

    It did happen again, but never this intensely.  I don’t know how or why it happened, just that it did.  It was strange to think about.  Why would God wish it upon a girl only twelve years old?  She was barely old enough to stay home alone, and yet, with everything that was going on, it sometimes seemed as if she was the wisest among them. Her relationship with God was what kept them hoping.  Without her constant, heartfelt prayers and confident reassurances that “Jesus is with us,” I don’t know how they would have overcome all that they did.  “Overcome” is a loose term, though.  Yes, it was over. …