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Edition 24: Broken Stars by Tang Fei (translator: Ken Liu)

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.

1.

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.

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Edition 24: Kai by Ellen Denton

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.

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Edition 23: Girls’ Gun by Clint Spivey

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?”

“Huh?”

“Go away.” She closed the door in my face.

Pranks are hard to avoid when denied even time to react.

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Edition 19: Night Blooming by Jason Nahrung

A teenager in love with the darker side of life has disappeared. Detective Shane Hall, struggling with her personal demon, follows the trail to parts of Brisbane’s seedier side, The Valley. She must keep control to find the missing young woman, and for her own self-preservation. SY


Deborah Brown—Jazmine Nocturna to her friends—had it bad for the unliving. Shane stood in the teenager’s bedroom, taking in the nu-vamp celeb posters, the black lace, the incense.

The girl’s mother stood at the bedroom door. Ms Brown wore a pencil skirt and heels, a crisp white blouse, but stray hairs were pulling free from her tight bun, and the shadows under her eyes showed through her makeup. Early to mid-forties. Gym toned, suntanned, a gold cross above her modest cleavage. No wedding ring, but a pale line where one had been. She radiated anxiety.

Join the club, sister.

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Edition 19: The Meet by Geoffrey Collins

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This is the place where it will go down. Where back-up is not a precaution; it’s a requirement. Lines are drawn in the sand, in the face of oncoming darkness and despair. SY


In every evening there is a time when the city takes a stops to take a breath. The five o’clock exodus is over and the workers are home deciding what to be instead. Shop doors are closed and locked, streetlights blink on. As the tide of the day runs out, in the ebb of its last waves, you can find things that are always there but usually hidden.

I had found a neon sign with a name in Bauhaus script that pulsed red in the puddles on the sidewalk below. The sign fronted a bar, a sub-street level affair with a grey-stone office block squatting on top of it, a narrow courtyard in front with dwarf hemlocks in terracotta pots and some wrought iron settings with the sunshades dropped, chairs resting against the tables.

For a week I had been watching the place like a hunter in a blind, subsisting on coffee and bagels from the kosher delicatessen on the corner, skulking back to a bolt-hole hotel room before dawn. People came, people went; I watched. After a few days I had called for back-up, hoping I wouldn’t be thought overly cautious. When I saw who had been sent, I knew I needn’t have worried.

“You’ve become soft,” said a voice in my ear. “I could never have come up on you before.”

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Edition 18: The Calling By John W. Oliver

flag USJosiah has struggled to keep his distance from his family for a long time. But when cousin Zeke abducts Josie’s son, and the woman he loves is on his doorstep begging for his help, he is drawn back in again. A dark and supernatural tale about the dark secrets families keep and what we do to protect those we love. This work has also previously received an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.  SY


“Josie! Zeke’s taken Sammy,” Connie banged the screen door of my trailer, just in case I hadn’t heard her.

I opened the inner door and squinted out into the bright Nevada sun. My nostrils flared at her scent. I shoved the roast beef sandwich into my mouth, took a big bite and chewed.

“What do you mean he’s taken the boy?” I asked through my mouthful.

“He said he’s taking him home for his second blooding. Whatever the hell that means.” Connie fought back a sob and gave me a look that demanded an answer. She was caught on the fine edge between breaking down and blowing up.

I swallowed and paused before taking another bite. The force of the calling throbbed through me. I hadn’t stopped eating all day. My mouth watered at the sight of Connie. The Calling always enhanced my hunger, and I did my damnedest not to succumb. I tightened my fist, bread oozing between my fingers, and willed myself to take slow even breaths.

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Edition 11: Serial Fiction: Intangible (Part 6 of 6) by A. A. Garrison

 

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The end has come. All Hack’s machinations hang on this moment. All Jeannie Tuttle can think about is her mother, dying in the sterile hospital bed. How will it all end? SY


Man – Energy Body – Aura (Copyright Deosum | Dreamstime.com)

IX. March, 1990

Hack hangs over the hospital bed, spectating, unseen. The subject’s mother lies motionless, her bleak aura reflecting her health. The subject herself kneels before the woman, that jade energy pulsing brilliantly. Her cries upset the nether, like cartoon lightning bolts rising from a wound.

Waiting patiently in his secret space, Hack studies her burning aura, the love pulsing there, ripe as a honeydew: she is ready for harvest. All that lies between him and the energy is a psychic barrier: Free Will, a wall impenetrable by even the mightiest magician. But that will soon be no more, and of her own volition.

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Edition 10: Serial Fiction: Intangible (Part 5 of 6) by A. A. Garrison

 

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Meet Marcy Dillsmore, and her strange relationship with the Utah Penny. GDH


Man – Energy Body – Aura (Copyright Deosum | Dreamstime.com)

Enter Marcy Dillsmore.

Born Marcy Darby in the faceless year of 1951, the woman lived a mundane childhood, completed a mundane education, and, at eighteen, married a young man by the name of Franklin Maurice Dillsmore III, who, despite his grandiloquent title, was, also, quite mundane. Her defining moment was placing second in the ’69 Miss Georgia pageant. She should have won, would have—the white tramp who took the trophy had hips like a bent trashcan—but the night before, she’d developed a grade-A case of bad hair. Terrible hair, in fact, bride-of-Frankenstein bad. But the woman refused to let it bitter her, even as she settled into a mundane middle-age. Marcy couldn’t complain. She may have put on a few pounds—twenty-two and three-quarters, but who’s counting?—and developed a pie-shaped office-butt, but she was still beautiful, and Frank did a fine job of reinforcing that fact. Her chestnut eyes, unblemished skin, and selfsame hair combined into a comely, uniform complexion; when in the nude, Frank often commented that she resembled a human chocolate bar (always followed by double entendres involving “eating” and “melting”). Her two children, Kyle and Tia, also helped her steer clear of the funks so common to midlife. Between a supportive husband, two wonderful children, and the uncommon extension of her beauty, Marcy Dillsmore found life full and rewarding, if as mundane as the preceding seasons of her existence. Like a certain motorcycle thief who had lived and died far outside her experience, she felt she couldn’t lose.

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Edition 9: Serial Fiction: Intangible (Part 4 of 6) by A. A. Garrison

 

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Hack’s machinations continue to influence Jeannie’s life. She seeks to help her mother’s failing health with her radio prize money. As an aside, we follow the strange existence of a Utah penny… GDH


Man – Energy Body – Aura (Copyright Deosum | Dreamstime.com)

VII. January, 1990

The hospital was in Pemberton, Ford’s sister town. The doctor dimpled in smile, and shook Jeannie’s hand.

“I’m Doctor Mills. How do you do, Miss Tuttle?” he asked robotically. He was middle-aged and small—not so much short, just insubstantial. Like a sandwich missing the meat, Jeannie thought.

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Edition 8: Serial Fiction: Intangible (Part 3 of 6) by A. A. Garrison

 

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Hack’s machinations are wrapping Jeannie in an ever-tighter net. Her nights and days are full of Lincoln. She recalls her ingracious return to North Carolina, and the slimy events that preceded it. With her mother sickening, surely she’s had enough bad luck, unless that shaman is involved. SY


Man – Energy Body – Aura (Copyright Deosum | Dreamstime.com)

V. November, 1989

Night in the Tuttle household.  

Hack hovers over the sleeping girl, impregnating her with a fresh dreamscape involving Abraham Lincoln. She stirs some as it finds purchase, but remains asleep, her aura pulsing as the dream unfolds, her face mutely quizzical in the way of the sleeping. The shaman leaves her for her mother.

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