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Edition 13: Keeping An Open Mind by Dan Rabarts

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When it comes to the question of what makes us individuals and where we can find that special spark, Josh thinks he has the answer. Dan Rabarts was third placed in the 2013 IFWG Publishing Australia Story Quest competition, winning the judges over with his clear style and dark storytelling. SY

Joshua knew he was guilty. He just didn’t know why.

There had been a time, before the accident, when it had all fitted together well enough. A time when things had made sense. There had been echoes of laughter and the glow that reminded him of late summer, good times remembered but fading. Sitting on the riverbank, sharing a durry, swigging from a glass flask, squeezing his eyes against the burn of cheap raw liquor—the best they could afford—and contemplating everything from the meaning of sunrise to whether or not there really was a Great Hereafter. They had reached an agreement, Joshua and those whom he had once called friends, that what lay beyond was whatever you believed it would be. He had, in the folly of his youth (not so long ago), believed that this husk of blood and bone and brain had the power to summon an afterlife of his choosing, simply by willing it so. He wished that he still held to such frivolous dreams. But he had seen what happens when a man is rent from jaw to spleen. There is blood, and bone, and the reek of copper and shit. He had seen the grey and brown that lurks within the skull, that frail temple that hides man’s concept of soul and lets him believe that after death there is anything more than dust or ash or the long devouring of worms.

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