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Transmissions of the Mind

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Exterminator - Editor

Transmissions of the Mind

by Joe Jablonski

They tell me the name of this planet is Omnithept.

After my drop craft hits the ground hard, I don’t hesitate getting out of the cramped vessel. I escape onto the firm soil with both feet running and suck in a deep breath of the only truly fresh air I have known in years with a feeling of relief to be liberated from that small metal coffin. It felt like I was in there for an eternity.

All around me is endless forest; a boreal paradise. It looks like every other forest on every other planet I’ve been as if all habitable planets were built from the some universal assembly line. A cold wind comes over me; dry and saturated with foreign particles. Bushes, vines, green leaves, brown trunks; all damp and unforgiving. All these things are surrounding me and I could pretend I’m anywhere.

Off in the distances, a primal scream cuts the air. It sounds like what four hundred years of science has told us the ancient dinosaurs sounded like. The reverberations of some kind of insect can be heard in a steady unrelenting monotone. I look up to see twin moons shinning like silver orbs in the night sky.

Standing in this Eden, I stretch muscle worn and cramped. Inside my veins, I can feel the reversed engineered bacteria the science team injected surging through my system. That tingle means it’s working. Theoretically, I am immune to the disease infesting this planet; the very thing that has turned all the colonists into mindless puppets, controlled by whatever consciousness is out there.

Think of said bacteria as working like anti-venom. The new strain kills the old while protecting the host. I hope it works.

Peeping Bomb

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It's always why - Editor

Peeping Bomb

by Erik Lambert

I didn’t want to blow up the hospital. It wasn’t like I was someone with a grudge who lost a son or wife or a nut job with a political agenda. I hate people. They bore me. I can find more interest in a cactus. Just let me have my shitty job in the cemetery and my shitty apartment where I eat my shitty food and I’m fine. Some people would not be satisfied with this life, but when you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you might change your tune. Regardless, the hospital never once crossed my mind, until they appeared outside my window.

If you’d see them you’d understand. When you’re a guy who has no friends, no family and a night of strolling through a graveyard in the pitch dark to look forward to, the little things make you happy. When I first saw them it was with a passing glance. As each day progressed, those glances turned to glares. At the time I had no idea why. I just felt compelled to know them. So I decided to try jogging. I got on the path at the same time as them, pumping my flabby legs and arms. The velour jogging suit would be swishing like a saw against the trunk of a tree. They would come up behind me and I would introduce myself and ask her name.

“Abigail Dresdan. This here’s Zeus,” she would say, ushering to the dog next to her in between measured breaths.

“Oh, nice to meet you, I’m…” I would start before my lungs began to claw for more oxygen and she would leave me behind. I could never match her pace. Perhaps the names were enough.

The Water Bearer

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Death by misadventure - Editor

The Water Bearer

by John F.D. Taff

Jim was the kind of neighbor who never said too much; a wave when he saw you outside, maybe a few polite, friendly words at the mailbox or when you caught him outdoors as he puttered in his well-kept yard, but little more.

The year is 1947, and Jim, oh, he must have been at least 80 years old. Never married, but in good health, his back slightly stooped, his legs bowed.

My wife and I live in a newly built suburban home, bought with money from a GI loan. This was supposed to pay me back for the year I'd spent tramping through the muddy fields of France and Germany, living with an ever-dwindling group of men, sleeping wherever I fell, and shooting at--and being shot at by--people I couldn't even understand.

Now here I was with three suits in my closet, a new Chevrolet in the garage, a kid born while I moved through the dark trees of the Ardennes, and young wife I barely knew. It was an adjustment for all concerned.

This spring, though, we had begun to settle in, to make our peace with our long separation. We had begun to find a rhythm.

On The Other Hand, Abomination

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Moral surety - Editor

On The Other Hand, Abomination

by Stephen V. Ramey

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed....
Revelation 12:17

Two women capered for the cameras below, two identical blondes in powder blue maternity suits, identically full-figured, identically pregnant. Trey pressed his cheek to the rifle stock and sited on the closest. The shot would be clean. Bless God the Almighty.

Providence had led him to this abandoned warehouse across the intersection south of the courthouse. He had slept behind a section of wallboard to avoid security and investigated a dozen vantage points, finally settling on this one, a boarded third story window high enough to provide the angle he required. It was not enough to destroy the woman; he must also destroy the abomination within the ocean swell of her pregnant belly.

The Brokenhearted Leper

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Are we not all lepers? - Editor

The Brokenhearted Leper

by William Knight

Froth was my cellmate. He was a leper. Not the contagious kind. The kind of man kept alive for the sport of nasty children, and dismissive nobles--who shunned his outstretched hand as if it brandished a dagger.

“She was a sight, my lad. A true beauty,” he said longingly.

I nodded, feigning interest in his oft-told tale.

“If it wasn’t for this accursed affliction.”

Light seeped through the bars, illuminated Froth’s deformity in a dazzling ochre haze. I tried not to flinch, but failed. Froth noticed and clammed up, his one good eye leaking betrayal.

Somewhere, in another cell, a woman cried. Her incessant wailing clamored off the moss-bitten stone walls. In reply, a heartless soul yelled for her to “pipe down.”

I hunkered down in the dirty straw and pulled the flea-riddled blanket tight around my shoulders.

A rat lazily tracked a course outside the bars, stopping to sniff in my direction, as if mocking my incapacitation. A pockmarked hand darted out of the shadows, snared the rat, and it disappeared in a fit of furious squealing to become a desperate prisoner’s meal.

A Hot Time in the Old Town

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Poison of the soul - Editor

A Hot Time in the Old Town

by Desmond Warzel

I had the park almost to myself, which is just how I like it on a Saturday.

The benches were all vacant except for mine. Across the way there was a guy consistently losing a perpetual tug-of-war with an overenthusiastic dog; there was an old-timer in a worn suit coming down the sidewalk toward me, snacking on peanuts. And that was it. Nice.

But as the old fellow drew closer, I tensed up.

And my instincts, as usual, were dead-on.

Twenty empty benches in the park and he sits down next to me.

I know there aren't many things worse than being old and lonely (except maybe being young and lonely), and I don't even mind a nice conversation with a stranger. But I have to be in the mood.

Besides, I already know how World War II came out.

We both stared ahead into the distance, watching the dog's antics. One minute, two. Very awkward. I was way beyond relieved when he finally broke the silence.

"I remember when this was all houses here," he said, indicating the park's vast expanse.

Yeah, I know. And Coke was a nickel, and there were no Japanese cars, and your movie came with a cartoon, a serial, and a newsreel.

"I used to live right around here," he continued.

"That so?"

Heavenly Scent of Strawberry

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Ain't love grand? - Editor

Heavenly Scent of Strawberry

by Christine C Terranova

Even under the artificial light of the bookstore her angelic glow radiated.  I had to force myself not to stare at her as she repeatedly pulled books down from the shelf, carefully ruffled through them with her long, delicate fingers, and then returned them to their initial location.

I pretended to be interested in a book so I could remain close to her without seeming suspicious.  A part of me hoped she would notice me and perhaps we could start up a conversation, but another part of me hoped she would leave the bookstore soon, so I could regain my bearings and leave as well.  Unfortunately, she noticed me.

“Turner, is that you?” she asked.  I removed my nose from the book I was holding and altered my countenance.  I wanted it to say, “I haven’t been stealing glances of you for the last seven minutes.”

“Hey, Anabelle, how are you doing?”  She walked up to me and for the first time I noticed that we were the same height.  Five feet and four inches is a fine height for a woman, but for a man, it’s about six inches too short.  And with that knowledge, my insecurities grew, making me even more nervous than I was before she began talking to me.

A Boy and His Goblin

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Foul, foul, foul - Editor

A Boy and His Goblin

by Ryan Griffith

I have a companion. He is a foul-smelling, foul-tempered, foul-mouthed creature. He lives in a sack that I carry by my side. He lives almost exclusively on a diet of salted jerky and onions. He rarely washes his clothes. I fear for the state of his toenails. He is about three feet tall and skinny, a runt of his kind. His eyes are rose red, and they glow crimson in the dark. His skin is dark green, like moss on the side of an knobby oak tree. I call him Creeper, because that's what he does. Figuratively and literally.

He is also the only friend I have. He's more loyal than any dog. He's saved my life more than once. He smells pretty funny.

It was years ago. I'd been bitten by wanderlust, the traveling bug. My desire to see new places and avoid several people who were trying to kill me spurred me to go much farther than I had ever been. I crossed the Giant's Plain and then the Hot Wind Desert, which was about as fun as it sounds, before reaching the Empire's land. Hamlets turned into villages which turned into towns. Finally, cresting a hill one day with sore feet and a nasty demeanor, I spied the tall towers of Cazendar, the fabled capital of the Empire. It was something out of myth and stories, and I had almost believed that I was on a wild goose chase.

The Nine Lives of Chairman Mao

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The apples felt good - Editor

The Nine Lives of Chairman Mao

by Craig Gehring

Chairman Mao sat at the command table. Truil brushed past a woman making her exit and took his seat.

Mao was in the nude. The sight was uncommon enough to make Truil raise an eyebrow.

“Nothing,” said Mao.

“You expected nothing,” said Truil. “Perhaps a pill.”

“I wasn’t talking about the woman. Nothing on either count, though,” said Mao.

Mao looked at the projector table.

“You needed my council?” asked Truil.

“Watch,” said Mao. He tapped his console.

What We Cannot Know

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I arrived to Ubahi - Editor

What We Cannot Know

by Iheoma Nwachukwu

When this story returns to me, this is how my memory opens - like a wound. In Enugu, after I told my story to two traders outside Achina village, a powerful Achina herbalist warned villagers to stop fetching water from Otalu stream; and to this day only white men with heavy cameras visit the stream.

It was not the dustiest February. Men did not go about looking like they had brown powder on beards and eyelashes. That day I went to the stream as soon as I arrived to Ubahi. The bicycle ride was a thigh-cramping distance from Akpodim village, where I attended school and lived with my mother’s elder brother. I could no longer attend the school in Ubahi, since I had been finally expelled for breaking a prefect’s head.

Days before I went to Ubahi, my friend Eugene told me that mermaids had invaded the stream in my village. We called him Sir Evil. Eugene and I had stolen cassava from the principal’s farm three times in the last term. We sat on someone’s desk watching football during break.

“Friend, mermaids have crammed your village stream,” he said, giggling. He had projecting front teeth which he tried to hide by shading his lips.

“It is so,” I answered, not believing him. I had visited home at Christmas: no such news. I twisted my lips, nodded mockingly and looked away.

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