A Little Crisis

“Um… Jingledeep?” said the barista. She was a tawny-skinned woman, scrunching a beautifully bejeweled nose as she scrutinized the name on the cup. She looked at the man next in line at the counter. He was middle-aged with a hairline that was losing both ground and color. He wore a perfectly pressed gray suit and black leather loafers that he probably paid someone to polish. He was looking up at her from his phone with a whole-body frown.

“I have a coffee for…Jingledeep?” she read, half an invitation, half a question.

Skin Deep

It was a strange spring, the spring the bimbos appeared in Magnolia Close. The magnolia outside number six had been nothing but a whitish, ashy looking stump for years. But this spring a living crown of thin, whippy green branches burst out of the dead tree. It was as incongruous as a withered old man suddenly putting on a luxuriant blonde wig. The blossoms soon followed, fist-sized and creamy, giving off great wafts of scent. All the trees on the Close were laden with blooms; the branches sagged under the weight of them. Barbara said I was exaggerating, but it was true.

Organic Materials

Keith left the community centre early, since his talk on the history of housing development in East Anglia had attracted an audience of just two people — and they turned out to have got lost on their way to the Mature Ladies’ Erotica Reading Group.

Arriving home to find Chet waiting on the doorstep did not make him feel any better.

The Tlochkl Harvesters

Taril felt a sneeze coming at the worst possible time.


The target saw him, jumped up and screamed. Bloody mould, he thought, pulling away from the pink-infested wall.

The floating ball of light, which he had been about to swipe from the air near her shoulder, returned to her body and was reabsorbed.

The girl scowled. She was about his own age with a cloud of black hair around her sharp face. Her right hand was still on her inner left forearm, a pinch-mark raging red and hurt.


First off, she wasn’t exactly my grandma. Everyone in town called her that, a term of respect for those fortunate enough to survive to middle age. Though perhaps, given the realities of my youth, the word ‘fortunate’ does little justice to the everyday brutality of our lives. ‘Hardy enough’ is possibly more accurate. We killed what we had to, ate when we could, and survived the vagaries of our environment to the best of our ability. Most folks were ready to die when their time came.

Beneath the Linden Tree

What sounded like the burners firing from a hot air balloon roared overhead. Melia ran out into the yard, hoping to see it up close. She loved the balloons. On pleasant summer days like this one, they gave rides over the river valley to tourists. The balloons hardly ever came in this far, and when they did were so high up as to be dots against the sky. This one, however, sounded low to the ground. She imagined it a kaleidoscope of color, its basket skimming the trees, almost within reach. She needed some joy about now, even if it was fleeting.

Your Futures

Tomorrow you will wake to a new galaxy humming pleasant sounds that make you smile, plush planets orbiting concentric circles around a clicking sun. You will spend your days reaching for them, never catching them, but you will not yet understand the frustrations of failure so you will keep trying; until one day you learn how to make yourself taller, and you will reach into that galaxy, grab that sun, and it will burn, but you will be happy, having made yourself the center of a little universe.

The Yawning Tree

Frothing bubbles of frustration, grief, and rage formed in Stacy Roger’s throat as well-wishers kept approaching her, all wanting to extend their unnecessary condolences. She’d always said she had no interest in attending her dad’s funeral, but now here she was, surrounded by neighbors she’d grown up with, uncomfortable with how familiar it felt to walk amongst them after so long.

The Giant in the Village

We called him the giant, for he gave no name to call him by. And a giant he was--tall as an elm tree, he loomed over us like a cliff face, with his hunched shoulders and black matted hair. We'd never seen him before, nor did we ever dream that such a thing as he was even possible, not until the day he strode into the village and sat himself down by the tavern doors.