NIGHTHAWK by Zach VandeZande

There’s a yellowy light. It’s not fluorescent. This is not the IHOP. It’s the other one. The local diner. Yellowed sign, yellowed menus, yellow, yellowy light. _________ Nothing that happens here is important. Important is elsewhere is the point of a place like this. This place is meant for in-between. _________ She is at the hostess station looking lost. Looking like a customer who doesn’t know if she should seat herself. The post-bar rush is over. A last-call-at-2am town in a last-call-at-2am state. But: it’s later than all that. There seems to be no one in the restaurant at all….

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LEPIDOPTERA by Shelby Colburn

She told me she caught a moth in her throat. We sat in a roadhouse munching on fried pickles as snow fell past the window. She reached into her mouth with a finger and pulled her right cheek to the side like a hooked fish. I leaned closer to her face and peered down her mouth. There it was, a grey moth lodged in the opening of her throat. Its small wings fluttered behind her uvula and tonsils. She popped her finger away, closing the opening to the moth’s new home. “It chose me,” Priv said as she attempted to…

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D1NAH BREAKS THE SET LIST by Anna O’Brien

G1rl on the Road If, and this is an astronomically huge if, D1nah makes it through this song without her throaty howl cracking during the third refrain, Fage the drummer owes her $27.39. This is the cost of a soy caramel latte plus interest compounded weekly, the frequency of every gig the band now plays. So far, the wager has been compounded eight times. Fage is confidant that she’ll never have to pay up even if, on their five-hundredth gig twenty years from now, cynical, saggy, broken, and bionic, D1nah holds that “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh” in “G1rl on the Road” for its…

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PEOPLE I WISH I WAS by Socrates Adams

ONE He writes a song a day. He keeps a diary next to his bed and every night, without fail, using his guitar, he transcribes thoughts into the book. The tunes are repetitive folk melodies. They are circular, looping reminders of the pattern of his days, weeks, months. He works as an actor. He attends read-throughs of scripts he likes. The projects he really loves rarely get off the ground. He is a dreamer and dreams of affecting the lives of other people. He lives alone. He’s tried relationships but they don’t fit with the rest of his life. He…

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THE INENARRABLE HEAVINESS OF SEEMING by Will Bernardara Jr.

“Perception of a state is not the state.” M. John Harrison A teetering bulb of dread and dream referred to – sometimes, by some – as Wes Boolean walks into a hardware store, his/its synapses scintillating with composite images of saw-teeth and conceptions of disjoining girl-parts. (Interjection: The “bulb” of the foregone ‘graph isn’t a floating sci-fi brain. It [the bulb] is impounded in the standard ossein case of a bipedal primate “person” = Wes Boolean. Thing is, the lump of gray mind-goo is the person; i.e., the “person” is a pattern ejaculated out of cerebral media, and so it’s…

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HUSK by James Nulick

I like them really young. She’s out there scraping the sidewalk like an old idiot. She’s going to wake them up and that would be bad, the young ones like their sleep. I feed off them during sleep. She’s old and she has old ideas and I honestly don’t know why I keep her on. Maybe because she knows my real age, though she’d never say. If Esmeralda were asked by the press about my age she’d say she was born in when she was born, that’s all. ### My wiki page states I was born in 1968, but we…

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A BIRDWATCHER’S JOURNAL by Alexander Perez

Snowy egret overhead. First sighting of spring. A circular flight performed for a mate hidden deep in dead river reeds. He drops out of sight. Nothing except gray sky. (My script walks across the page like sandpiper prints in wet sand.) A fisherman floats by in his canoe, through the thin ice floes. (Floating mosaic of ice, geometry of winter’s disrepair.) He’s spectacled, black bearded. Mid-thirties? Despite the cool morning, he takes off his blue flannel overshirt. Strong arms. He casts a shining lure. A northern pike! The fisherman holds it up. I wave. We see a female mallard appear…

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PARLIAMENT OF DRUNKARDS by Mbizo Chirasha

In previous years, the Mandozas hosted the New Years’ parties. They reared sheep and goats, and they invited the whole village to enjoy roast mutton. There was beer for the elders, but the young ones were relegated to raspberry and fizzy beverages. I learned about balloons and tissues at the Mandoza household. Mandoza himself was once our Father Christmas, until time burned his years into old age. But to my surprise, the Mandoza homestead this New Year was quiet. It was as if somebody had poured a bucket of ice-water to wet the embers of life in their home. The…

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NILSSON SCHMILSSON by Anthony Sabourin

I was outside on my street watching an apartment building on fire. I was watching it with the people who lived in that building, the people who’d left it. At three floors, it wasn’t a big apartment building, but it was a big fire. It was crackling, and flames were shooting out of windows and smoke was filling the night sky. I looked at everybody. It was nighttime when the fire started, and so you could see these snapshots of how people were living inside their homes. A couple wore rumpled office clothes paired with sweatpants, caught between two routines….

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IN WHICH PHOEBE DOES NOT MAKE THINGS HARDER by Devan Collins Del Conte

Phoebe was practicing being blind. She was nine years old and alone in her hotel room. It was supposed to be fun, but it wasn’t. There was no under-the-bed in which to hide, in case of a knife-wielding intruder. The closet, too obvious. She squeezed her eyes closed and reached her arms in front of her, sweeping them to either side. If the lights blinked off, she’d remember this slope of chair-ridge, the whisper of the bedspread against her thigh. Here was the sharp edge of the wall where the room narrowed to what her mom would call a foyer,…

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