Pescal dangled a fishing line into one of the eddies that formed along the cobbled river edge. He breathed deeply, enjoying the smell of fish and the sharp taste of salt that came across the island of Lok-Altor from the sea. The ruined pillars of the ancient bridge seemed to shake in the sun-reflecting water. Here he could relax, forget about pretty girls named Sari—not that there could ever be more than one with that name, not for him—about a father losing himself in memories, about a sister who was convinced she would never marry.
The fish in these pools were strange creatures—unlike those caught in the nets—but they allowed his family occasional luxuries: a shark-tooth necklace for his sister, a drizzle of royal honey for his mother.
Javier Burtke, miner on a distant world stumbles on a discovery that may change how the world sees the ‘smokers’, the black fields of smoking crevices. This is one area in which he cannot fail again. Rachael Acks was runner-up for the Story Quest competition, and undoubtedly you will see why this great frontier science fiction caught our attention. SY
Video log: 04.10.52 1859
The room is plain and small, walls gunmetal gray but partially papered with safety notices, reminders about proper compression procedures, suit checks, what to do in case of hull breach. A man looks into the camera, one rough hand rasping at the black stubble on his square jaw. His hair is in damp, lank curls, glistening with something more viscous than water. The stained name tape over the left breast pocket of his rumpled lime green jumpsuit has ‘Javier Burtke’ stitched into it.
Delve into the mess that is Martin Serper’s mind. Having seen the creature pulled up from beneath Kingston, he finds himself slowly losing his sanity. How many legs? Why is it coming for him? Your skin will crawl. SY
He sees himself again.
Deep in the red shadows, and in the after-images of light, something is moving.
Shut up! Shut up!
He ignores the darker shapes. They are sidling, in the peripheries, through those coloured rags of illumination potent enough to seep through tight eyelids. They are easily ignored for now. And besides, he has promised forgetfulness to himself. Promised himself he won’t face what he encountered. Beneath the earth. Under the city. Not until he absolutely has to.
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
If you find it hard to believe nothing touches our universe at the dark and murky edges, or that the old world allure of England is not solely maintained by the diligent people of our historical societies, the third instalment of the Split Worlds will appeal to those always questioning what more is out there.
Barton looked at the scrap of parchment he held between his fingers: 2653 Arcturus Street. The clay numerals above the polished oak door matched the number that the Painter had written out for him. Beyond the door slept a family that had been torn apart by the loss of a child. He was about to shatter their peace and tear the scab from the wound. Would his heart, his conscience be able to withstand it?
This could so easily be my door. If collections don’t pick up it will be my door, my Lilly on the other side of it.
Barton shook his head to clear the image of his unsuspecting family sleeping in their beds. He jumped when his partner laid a hand on his shoulder.
Caruthers has worked the Moon Base for a long time, but a serial murderer is pushing the older administrator. The seemingly unrelated crimes suddenly have a pattern, but are they chasing dervishes in the moon dust? SY
“There’s a body outside Airlock Two.”
“Bloody hell. What happened this time? Bad suit?”
“No suit. Stark naked.”
“Great.” Director Caruthers sighed heavily, shoved his chair back from his desk, and offered his full attention to his visitor. What the hell was going on around here these days? Whatever had possessed him to come to the moon? “Some kid on a dare? Damn twenty-nine second morons. Awful lot of faith to put in a stopwatch.”
Reviewed by Damien Smith
Those who are familiar with Chuck Wendig’s blog will know he likes to set some bizarre writing challenges from time to time. A little while back, the challenge was set to come up with a thoroughly bizarre something-punk genre, on the premise that the ‘something’ is what essentially runs that world. For example steampunk and dieselpunk worlds essentially run on steam and diesel respectively.
One day, Iris thought, she might cross the bridge. She might find out what was on the other side. But she had a fear of the trolls that her parents told her lived beneath it, and a fear of the devils that they said lived across it, and so she stayed where she was. Safe on her side of the bridge.
But that didn’t mean she wasn’t curious about the world across the river. There was something there, there had to be, or the bridge would have no use. It must have been built for a reason.
Iris would spend hours simply sitting, staring at the narrow strip of moss covered wood that separated her from the other side with all of its seductive secrets. The greenery that grew up through the wooden planks was lush and plush and showed her that no one had crossed that bridge in a very, very long time.
Lee Murray was the winner of the 2013 Story Quest competition. Judges were impressed with her story of young women shunted into the system, and how reform fails the best of them. While not supernatural, she invokes true horror in the girls’ plight. SY
Ferndale Hostelry for Girls: a pretty name for a juvie detention centre, and a place I’d never heard of until I came up on the last charge. It was my third offence, this time for assault on a teacher, but the snotty cow deserved it, and everyone knows the law has no teeth when it comes to teens. So I was sitting in the courtroom not worrying, picking at the frayed knees of my jeans, waiting for my parents to arrive at the hearing. Only they never did. And when Judge Eastergard realized they weren’t going to show, he sent me to Ferndale. He said, if my parents weren’t willing to take on the job of straightening me out, the state would have to do it for them.
Eastergard may as well have sent me to prison. Hell, it was a prison. One for kids. There were no cigarettes. No alcohol. No TV after ten. At Ferndale, they told me when to wake up. When to eat. When to pee. And the good-cop bad-cop thing? They had it mastered. One minute, pursed-lipped guards were checking under the mattresses and rifling through drawers, and the next, sweet-voiced counselors offered milky smiles and stupid suggestions: “Come on, Storm, we’re here to help: a problem shared is a problem halved, after all.” Silly do-gooders. They didn’t know anything.
Happy New Year and welcome to our first edition for 2014!
As we leave the past year for the adventures of the new, reflecting back brings us here at the mag so much joy. Our first special edition, Women in Writing, allowed us to show you all some thrilling writers that you might not have known about. We thought it was fantastic and you responded enthusiastically to what was our proudest achievement to date. It was such a pleasure and privilege to be able to discuss writing triumphs and tribulations with those wonderful writers.