By Eddie D. Moore
Arno heard the scraping of a blade against a whetstone while he toiled replacing wooden shingles. The old farmer, Mr. Kensett, had been sitting on the front porch sharpening his knife ever since his daughter had come outside and introduced herself. She had given Arno an appraising look with a smile that made Arno blush and the old farmer narrow his eyes. He resisted the urge to remove his shirt for fear that Lomi, the farmer’s daughter, might make another appearance. He did not want the farmer to grow suspicious or think that something uncouth might pass between him and the girl. It would not be the first time that he had been run off of a farm without being paid.
With the last broken shingle replaced, he climbed down the ladder. Lomi rushed out the front door just as he placed a foot on the ground. She carried a single cup and walked past her father without a glance. When she offered the cup, Arno glanced at her father and noted his irritation. He took the cup with a nod and quickly moved to stand directly in front of Mr. Kensett.
“I believe that completes the list you gave me this morning.”
Mr. Kensett put down his whetstone, wiped the dust from the blade on his pants and walked with Arno to inspect the day’s work. “You have an eye for detail. I would say it was worth every coin.”
Arno accepted the day’s wages with a hand shake and turned to go. Lomi ran from the front porch to Arno’s side and grabbed hold of his arm. Continue reading
Ben Van Dongen
The elevator doors opened onto a dim city street. Streetlights were on to compensate for the deep shadows and setting sun, which was almost gone over the horizon. Groups and couples walked down the sidewalks or hailed cabs. Thomas took a moment to look for a cab without a group of people standing around it, trying to make their claim, but they were all taken, leaving dozens of people waiting. He turn and ran, dodging pedestrians and excusing himself.
At the first intersection, he went right then darted across the street through a gap in the traffic. Horns honked at him, but he ducked left into an alley, leaving them behind.
Coming out at another street, he followed it to the next intersection, ran left through traffic again
Thomas ran along the street, next to parked cars, but he was tiring and slowed. Plodding down the sidewalk as quickly as he could, he ran into a woman who walked out of a store without looking. Continue reading
By Edle Winnie
She felt trapped. They sat at a beautiful table in an elegant dining room but she could feel the invisible bars around them. The supper was some fancy stuff but she could not taste it. Her boyfriend Morman the giraffe was a talkative animal and he and his mother kept the conversation light and constant. Oblivious. She sawed at everything with her table knife. Daddy scarface sat silent, smiling politely and staring at her. She glared back and sawed her potatoes into even smaller pebbles.
The rest of the evening was spent in banal conversation. As they were leaving Norman’s father managed to catch her alone, a strong hand on her thin arm.
“What are you going to do?” He hissed.
“What are you going to do?” She hissed back and twisted his grip away. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
She could not pinpoint the beginning of it. As a child she had been obsessed with knives. A cute little girl with a shining blade in her hand. Her parents, predictably, had scolded and slapped and shaken and hidden the knives until she learned to pretend that she was not interested in them. She was only nine when her mother found the first scars on her arms. That had been a freak out. She’d been hauled away to see doctors and therapists and she told them whatever she thought they wanted to hear. Now, as a woman in her twenties, she realized that those therapists had just nodded and collected their hourly fees. No one can care forever. No one can understand everyone. What if you were born not caring or not understandable?
She liked blades because they were powerful. They shined. They were hard, yet they could easily slip into a stuffed animal, or an armchair or a thigh. They could transcend barriers. They could take life. And sometimes when life was taken, it could give life. She didn’t believe in vampires but she knew that humans had always killed and eaten. And that was how she thought of herself. Huntress. Continue reading
Ben Van Dongen
Thomas rested his eyes. He pulled the authentic fedora down and put his feet up on his real wood desk. He hadn’t had a case in months, not that he expected any, but he was getting desperate. He didn’t need the money, the buyout he got when his tech start up was acquired gave him more than he could spend if he tried. His detective business was a dream that the extreme money and young retirement allowed him to fulfill. Thomas’ skills were with genetic programming, but his passion was detective novels.
The collection of folded and faded paperbacks was considered and eccentricity that kept other literary zealots away, but the genera fascinated Thomas. Using his time and wealth to recreate the office of his favourite detective and actually opening for business made him a kook, but he had the money to not care. Thomas even sprung for a human secretary. Big shots, like the CEO of Fresh Choppers, the top conglomerate in the world, didn’t hire humans, and Thomas’ did accents. He had insisted on having a woman, just like the books, but the old Bronx dialect was a bonus. He smiled thinking about it.
The afternoon quietly napped with Thomas. He considered heading down to the local watering hole to get the word on the street. The friendly neighbourhood bartender, paid by Thomas to play the part, kept his ear to the ground. The robotic ones never talked. He contentedly listened to the whir of the fan and the sound of his secretary randomly hitting keys on the typing machine. He swore it was called a typewriter, but she insisted it was a typerator.
Thomas decided to skip the trip to the bar and ride out the rest of the afternoon in the office. At five his secretary would come in and complain about how slow it was and about not getting paid. Thomas would assure her he would come up with the cash, though her fee was promptly transferred to her account weekly. The guys would be at his place for poker by the time he got there, then he would end the night by chronicling his adventure in his own detective novel.
With a stretch, Thomas sighed. It was in the slow afternoons that building and selling his company paid off.
“Mr. Holliday? Rachel, his secretary, called over the antique intercom. Her voice sounded tinny and hollow over the speaker, but the high-pitched nasal quality was all hers. Continue reading