Aen crouched in the brush, surveying the path that curved between massive redwood trunks and lesser conifers. The young hunter, no longer a child but still absent a beard, concealed himself beside a rotten and shattered pine. Having been there since dawn, dusk now deepened the shadows that filtered down from the towering forest canopy above.
Green eyes still focused on the path, Aen’s finger touched the knapped flint head of his best throwing spear. He left the weapon on the ground beside his knee to glance at the ash wood shaft of his second javelin. It leaned upright against the stump, beside a stout fighting spear.
Aen heard a shift in the birdsongs around him, and turned a keen ear to listen as the calls fell silent one-by-one. His gaze returning to path and forest, the growing hush was interrupted by a chittering treetop squirrel. He saw it drop a pinecone to the ground before skittering branch to branch.
His tanned limbs and back moved with a controlled, lean strength. Shifting his squat in a buckskin loincloth, Aen licked a finger and tested the air. Confirming he was still downwind of the path, he crouched deeper in the leaves and took hold of the spear on the forest floor beside him.
Slow, padded footfalls barely disturbed the carpet of orange pine needles upon the animal path. Yet Aen heard their approach, and eyed the bend that disappeared around a great redwood trunk. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
“Jocelyn, is it really you?” Carol asked the white-coated woman up on the catwalk. “I am so…. muddled.” Carol ran her hands through her brown hair but the confusion remained. They were surrounded by buzzing machines, tubes and metal catwalks. “What is this place?”
Jocelyn laughed. “It’s definitely not the bank. The Jocelyn who works there with you is just one version of me. A sister, if you like.”
Carol pointed at one of the large glass tubes. It was filled with green liquid and an exact copy of Carol herself, floating languidly. Beside that there were more tubes and copies. Carol shook her head, unable to find words. Beside her, Gary shifted into a quivering red cylinder shape.
“I see you’ve met Gary. He’s a portal jumper. A creature that can transfer between dimensions without decomposing.”
“You make me sound so dull.” Gary complained and transformed into a star shape. “I’m actually a star.”
Everything seemed to be swirling in her head and Carol looked for a place to sit. She settled on the bottom step of a metal ladder that led to a catwalk above.
Gary changed into a rhombus. “There was a cloh enforcer right behind us.” Continue reading
Ben Van Dongen
Gary rolled into the portal and fell to the ground, landing with a splat. “Ahhh! Damn that hurts! Tanya? Where are you? That crazy thing threw acid or something at me!” Composing himself, he became a ball again.
The ground was a piece of land, ten metres around, floating in the ether. The bare earth beneath it bowed out, like the bottom of a bowl, but at a sharper angle and uneven.
A large tree sat in the middle, stretching up to the empty nothingness, its roots dangling below the platform. Shrubs and tall grasses sprouted all around, making it look like the tree was dug out of a forest, taking the ground coverage with it.
Hundreds of other platforms floated in the void, stretching out into blackness. Each of them had a single tree, roots dangling below the convex bottom, nothing tethering them, nothing holding them up.
“Tanya? Did you hear me?” Gary formed a cube, a tall cylinder, and went back to a ball. “Tanya!” Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
McKay came back the very next day. Hester was going out for breakfast, which today meant black coffee. There was a young man seated on a bench across from her building. He was wearing shiny black pants, a black shirt and black boots. His hair was dyed black. She could not see how tall he was because he was sitting.
“I took your advice,” he said to her as she passed. “Got some new clothes.”
He stood up then, painfully short McKay, all blacked out. It caught Hester by surprise and she almost said something but bit her tongue instead. They walked together in silence. Entered the coffee shop one after the other, sat at the counter on stools side by side. He ordered what she was having. The barista asked if they wanted separate bills. She said yes. He said no.
She turned to him. “Okay, let’s get through this. This isn’t going to work, you know? I don’t need a boyfriend. And I don’t want you.” Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
“I will slash my legs!” McKay shouted. He held a pathetically small pocketknife above his jeans. “I will slash them wide open!”
Hester sighed. “Go for it.” She pulled out her much more substantial switchblade and threw it at him. “This’ll do more damage. Go for it.”
It had been a torturous three days. McKay had first appeared at an art exhibition opening put on by an ex-boyfriend of Hester’s. She had come of course, because several of the paintings were nudes of her, but also because she wanted to see who he was dating . She hung on the edges of the chatting drinking crowd; a tall thin scarecrow girl dressed in black with stringy dyed black hair and rather nice black boots with silver buckles. McKay approached her, dressed in jeans, like he wore now, and a green plaid shirt. But it wasn’t just his clothing that marked him as out of place- or his short stature- or the no-nonsense cut of his boring brown hair -he seemed to be bouncing off things like a demented ping pong ball. Continue reading
The man in the long coat shuddered and his left arm fell off. The breeze was toying with his long black hair, pulling it off his head and whirling it away. His other arm detached and hit the ground with a dull thud.
“The hole in the wall,” he said. His teeth were drooling out of his mouth, and falling away. His nose slid off and his eyeballs rolled out and splatted to the ground. “Hole in the wall,” his bloody mouth said and then his legs crumpled and what was left of his body thumped to the ground.
His clothing seemed to unravel and the flesh began to slide off of the torso, leaving shiny white bones. The blood and flesh withered and vanished as the bones settled and then began to crumble. In just a few moments, all trace of him was gone.
Carol was rooted to the ground. At first she’d been afraid, then horrified, and now disbelieving. She took a few tentative steps towards the spot where the body had vanished. When ferns started sprouting before her eyes, she backed away, her thin legs shaking. She stumbled and had to grab on to a nearby wall to remain standing. Somehow she managed to find her way back to the bank. She tried telling Jocelyn, a fellow teller and her friend, but Jocelyn just laughed and accused Carol of drinking on her lunch.
The rest of the day played out like a parody of normal life. Customers came and went; the clock charted the extremely slow voyage of the afternoon. The people lined up to do their banking didn’t seem real. Carol felt they were robots, or paid actors. When it was finally time to go home she stood at the bus stop and shivered even though the breeze was warm. The same breeze that had torn away the man’s black hair. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
Sheila’s dead aunt had made a pile of tin cans in Sheila’s kitchen. The horrible shrunken head had respawned there and then rolled out smiling its sickly yellow gray smile.
“Wassup?” The head said. “I’m thirsty.”
Auntie turned to Sheila. “Do you have any Lime drinks?”
‘Something lime. He likes limes.”
“Not lemons.” The head shrieked. “I hate lemons!”
“No.” Sheila stammered. “No limes, sorry.”
Auntie turned and walked to the front door and went out. Apparently to get something lime.
“I think I’m losing my mind.” Sheila grumbled.
“Better than losing your body.” The head said and then cackled delightedly.
“Wait.” The head ordered when Sheila began to walk out of the kitchen. “I can make you live forever.”
“I’d like that.” She answered, and forced herself to look at the thing. It was shrivelled and brown but its eyes were bright and alive and staring back at her. She went over to her big flour bin- a plastic container only a third full of flour at the moment. She snapped off the lid and dumped the flour into the garbage can.
“Wassup?” the head said. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
Sheila found the shrunken head after her aunt passed away. The poor old woman had been a miserable crank pot. Even though Sheila was young, she had done her best to make Auntie comfortable in these last months, but the shrivelled old woman had only been angry and full of complaints. Her habits were extremely odd- she hoarded empty tin cans and set out hundreds and hundreds of unbaited but ready to snap mouse traps. As far as Sheila could tell there were no mice in the house.
When it was announced from the hospital that Auntie had passed, Sheila got to work. She’d bundled her short dark hair under a kerchief and rolled up her sleeves.
There had to be thousands of empty tin cans in the house and Auntie had removed all the labels. Sheila loaded them into boxes and dragged them outside. She didn’t know if the recycle truck would take so many. It would probably require more than one truck.
At first the cans had seemed fairly new- still shiny. But deeper into the piles and stacks the empty cans were rusted and discoloured. At the very centre the cans were blackened with mould or age or something. In the centre of the blackest cans she found the head. 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
Ben Van Dongen
The office was quiet. It was usually quiet, but after his first case, Thomas could feel it. He sat at his desk, thinking over the events at the school, looking for what he did wrong. Letting his target get away was eating at him, but not as much as Diaz not caring.
A knock at his inner office door made him jump. He saw the shadow of Rachel in the window before she walked in.
“I brought you a cup of coffee.” Rachel walked over to the desk and gingerly put down a brimming mug.
“Do I look that pathetic?”
She put her hands on her hips. “I just trying to do something nice.”
Thomas rubbed his chin. “Sorry. It’s that phone call. I can’t shake it.” He picked up the mug and sipped. “The only thing I can come up with is Diaz knew more than he was telling me.”
“Don’t tell me you’re shocked by that?”
He waved her off. “No. They’re a big company, bound to protect their interests. But if they already knew, why did they need me?” Continue reading