Jiaming often dreams of the white woman, who predicts the future in her stars. School dominates her teenage life, and she seeks the attachment and happiness she doesn’t find at home with her distant father. Despite all other predictions, her life begins to spiral out of control. This dark, supernatural fantasy from Tang Fei captures the shallow and excruciating existence of the teenager, and their detachment from others. SY
If I really think about it, the stars did not arrange such a fate.
But the stars are broken, and so the definitive proof is gone. This moment is a vertex where time caves in: to the left is the past, to the right—
To the right should have been the future.
But the stars are broken.
Also, I met Zhang Xiaobo.
She didn’t bring an umbrella though the weather forecast said it was going to rain. After dinner, as she passed by the shoe rack, she missed the umbrella that had been specifically set out for her.
A few other students were scattered along the sidewalk, gradually gathering into a trickle of school uniforms that crossed the road and entered the school. Tang Jiaming entered the lecture hall from the back, at the top of the tiered seats, just as the first bell for evening study hall rang.
On the surface, life is crowded, chaotic and dangerous. Dallas is caught unluckily at the end of his shift with a delivery to the undesirable Ghost District. One unfortunate misstep and Dallas lands in real trouble, in the land of mechanical nightmares. Brennan Gilpatrick leads us into the horror of an overpopulated world and how the unethical choose to fix it. SY
Though he couldn’t hear her over the roaring crowd, Dallas knew the old woman was pissed. Her beet-red face and violent hand gestures made that very clear. He could only guess what obscenities passed through her grinding dentures as he ignored her. She was furious. Hell, she had every right to be. She’d probably been standing around for half an hour, waiting on an eggroll that took less than a minute to prepare. Hers were among several fists beating on the cashier counter, demanding their orders from Great City Wok. Dallas gazed across the restaurant; his coworkers scrambled like ants to appease the starving masses. He resigned to fiddling with the broken cash register, as the futile task would easily consume the remaining ten minutes of his shift.
“Can you even hear me?” the old woman screeched, leaning over the counter.
“I’m fixing the register, ma’am,” sighed Dallas. “Please take your order to another—”
“I just want my fortune cookie, asshole!”
He knew the kitchen’s cookie supply dried up an hour ago, but the task of searching gave him a place to hide.
“Of course.” He beamed. “I’ll go grab you one.”
Sometimes the dream feels so real. John is on his first adventure as a budding archeologist. Both he and the Professor dream of Native Americans, long gone. However, there’s a piece of the past that won’t rest until uncovered once more. Ellen Denton placed second in the Unlikely Partnerships Story Quest Competition with the unlikely partners of long-since gone spirits and a university student. SY
John woke up screaming out loud. In his nightmare, he was someone named Kai Longbow, and strips of flesh were being ripped from his body by the claws and teeth of a rampaging bear. Now, as he sat up wide-eyed in the darkness, he could still smell the pungent animal odor of the creature’s fur and its hot breath, and feel its saliva dripping against his face.
When the perceptions from the dream faded, he lay back down, but the bed sheet was damp with sweat; he would sleep no more this night.
Fifteen minutes later, he sat looking out the window with a mug of coffee warming his hands. He had an exam at the university today and needed to be at his best, but felt too distracted to focus on the notes spread out on the table before him.
Marina is the good girl, the prodigal daughter, but finds it hard to fit in. On a late night excursion she makes some older friends by an old war relic who aren’t quite sure why she’s there. A story mixing new world and the unsung heroines of the past. SY
Ghosts are like war, inviting curiosity until either is experienced. Then people realize why both are better avoided. I was twelve when I found one, and then the other.
The gun pointed right at us. Its long, slender barrel gaped open at the end, large enough to swallow my arm past the elbow, if I risked inserting it.
Our little group filed from the bus behind the teacher and toward the museum. Girls chatted. Boys punched or otherwise abused one another while rushing inside.
“Hey Marina,” one of my classmates said while holding open the door with three other girls. “Guess what?”
“Go away.” She closed the door in my face.
Pranks are hard to avoid when denied even time to react.
That big ol’ sun is so round and yellow and flat it looks like Mom’s hat the time she sat on it. Everyone had laughed, ’cept for her, but then after awhile she did too. That was a long time ago, over a year…
That big ol’ sun is right in front of us, filling the highway as if we’re driving right into it, though I know we’re not, unless Dad is tricking us again. Dad’s like that, saying one day we’re driving to China, the next day to Mars, the next day to home. We don’t go any of those places.
“Hanged Men,” Maddy announces.
Maddy’s my older brother and he’s buckled in next to me, smacking gum and blowing bubbles. One bursts every couple of minutes, sounding like a wet towel snapping your butt in gym class.
I’m going home and you won’t change my mind. Since Julia’s death, I hate London. Too many things remind me of her. I have to leave.
I guess you already know this. You’ve known for weeks, tried to stop me like a good friend should, but I’ve made my decision.
As far as business is concerned, I’ll sell you my shares. I need the money, Daryl. Restoring my old family home will take everything I own…I need to do this—Julia always wanted it.
Don’t be stubborn and refuse my offer because I’d prefer to sell my shares to you instead of an outsider.
You’ve been a friend and more. I’ll miss you.
Will call soon as I’ve settled in.
In one swift cull, Eve has lost her dream of a family. The only love left is her garden, and even that is out of control, overrun by a weed. If only she could harness its hardiness for herself. M.B.Vujačić nurtures a fantasy of loss into a transformation. SY
Eve stared at the cocaine on the coffee table.
She was sitting on the living room couch, her legs bent beneath her, her shoes lying forgotten on the carpet. Sunlight streamed through the patio doors, giving everything a shiny, dreamlike quality. Somewhere outside, birds were chirping.
Eve sucked in her lips. She still couldn’t shake the impression that something was wrong with the house. The TV was the problem: it wasn’t turned on. Back when Joe was here, the TV was always on. Sports, music, talk shows, newscasts, whatever; the house was always live with its chatter. The only times Joe ever turned it off was when they slept and when they made love. Now, with him gone, the only projection on its screen was her own muddled reflection. In the ensuing silence, the coke was the loudest thing in the room.
She lit another cigarette, took a deep drag, coughed a little. She had quit smoking four years ago. For the baby’s sake. Earlier today, driving home from work, she stopped at a supermarket and bought three packs. A few lungfuls later, she realized she didn’t like the taste anymore. She kept smoking anyway.
(Inspired in part by “The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead” by Consiglieri Pedroso)
In a locked bedroom, Marcella clutched her parents’ bones between shivering fingers, wishing for the day they would return to save her.
The orphan wept into her tangled raven locks, soaking the filthy bedding and nourishing the countless insects that called her bed home. She wanted to be dead, resting deep and cold beneath the earth alongside her mother and father. But her aunts weren’t ready to let her die just yet.
Hearing the key turn in the lock, Marcella sat up in fear. She secreted her parents’ bones beneath a pillow and put on the bravest face she could as her aunts bled into the room. Both were swathed in muck-soaked gowns of tattered lace. Vorrada wore a pointed cone the tint of a winter storm atop her haggard head, while her twin Eseina’s swollen visage was framed by a crooked Elizabethan collar. The pair drifted like smoke across the floor, their sunken eyes and indigo lips wide and wanton. Vorrada held a silver platter in her gnarled hand.
“Here child!” she said. “Here.”
There’s a unicorn tucked away in an old tin shed at the end of an alley. For Jessie and her brother it’s the little bit of magic in their troubled existence. Until they are not the only ones who’ve seen it… SY
It doesn’t really matter when I found the unicorn. I think it had always been in my life, waiting for me to notice it there: a tale waiting to be told, a mystery to be unravelled. Maybe it was hiding in the shadows, or perhaps I wasn’t able to see the animal until I reached a certain age, a specific point in my existence.
All I do know is that I found it there, near the old tin shed in the back lane, a few weeks after my twelfth birthday.
The following day I took my sister, Jessie, to see the unicorn. It was just after school. Not quite dark yet. She was excited when I told her that I had a secret, and that she couldn’t tell anybody what I was about to show her. In truth, I still wasn’t sure if I’d really seen it myself.
“Can Dolly come?” she asked, dragging her battered old Cabbage Patch doll along by one arm. I hated that doll—it was ugly.
“Sure,” I said. “I don’t see why not.”
We went out of the house, through the gap in the fence at the bottom of the back garden, and across the little area of waste ground to the cobbled alley. It was late in the year. The sun dipped behind the roofs of the old terraced houses at the edge of town and there was a chill in the air. Jessie held onto my hand. Her grip was surprisingly strong for one so young.
We are very happy to announce that Rhoads Brazos’ story, ‘Tread Upon The Brittle Shell‘, which appeared in our Australiana Edition, SQ Mag #14 (1 May 2014), has been selected for inclusion in the Year’s Best Horror Volume 7, edited by Ellen Datlow.
This is a great milestone for us, as well as a nod to Sophie Yorkston’s editing skills.
Well done to Rhoads, Sophie, and all the other contributors to the anthology!