Sentinel Species

By the time the team stops three klicks into the expedition for another atmospheric test, it’s out of both reagents and atropine. The group comprises thirteen experts critical to humanity’s survival and a 17-year-old kid named Todd, who is trying to remember—

(Pistol drawn, Meade tells Todd to remove his gas mask.)

—how it felt to be invited, his joy at being included.

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Road Mage

…. Hexed against right turns, they’d loop until they ran out of gas. Then they’d walk in circles. ….

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Constellations in Mourning

By Graham Robert Scott The morning after Sandy Hook, I drove my boy to a birthday party. He was seven, same as some Sandy Hook kids. “The flags aren’t up all the way,” he observed. Texas wears a lot of Old Glory, now a constellation in mourning, flag after flag bowing low. “It’s all the…

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Understudies

Carol’s husband leaves her for a theater usher just before her daughter goes to camp. “I’m okay,” Carol says to May. “I’ll be fine. Go have fun.”

But when May looks out the bus window, [….]

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Stan

As her key catches and turns the lock, she spots his face in a downlight, end of the hall.

Instant recognition. In a beat, she’s in. Throws the deadbolt, reviews decisions.

Fanfic about bad boys of crime? Okay. But next time? None about men still living. Men uncaught.

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Furbaby

Animatronic taxidermy. The new bougie thing to do with their beloved. God, Hector wanted out of door-to-door sales.

“Oh! Don’t mind him,” his host said. “Never met a lap he didn’t like.”

On his thighs, the thing rolled onto its back, waggled its paws: pet my belly.

Hector’s churned.

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The Beast of Hillfort

The Beast of Hillfort wasn’t, as generally assumed, a dragon, though it had a sharkworth of teeth and a murder of wings. It had no particular taste for virgins, though in droughts of its preferred game, if the village didn’t offer up easy snacks, it would get hangry.

Its preferred game, when available to hunt? Dragons.

The village learned this the hard way, after they found someone to kill it. 

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A Raging Fire

The library carries old rituals, shelved in wafer-thin booklets.

He checks out a pictorial history of London, the ritual to cure erectile dysfunction secreted within. Its magic doesn’t work, but the painting of the Great Fire of 1666 does.

Great. Another thing to be embarrassed about.

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Sigil

Taking the podium for her turn at the campus Big Read, fifty peers below, she spots the word debut two lines into her first page. Fear surges. She’s seen the word before, but has never heard it pronounced.

Then she recalls Matthew Mercer’s sigil: missteps don’t define you; strengths do.

Emboldened, fortified, she conjures her voice and speaks.

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