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Hell in a Handbag

Reading Time: 4 minutes The earliest account is from our foremother, Rhoda. You know her better as Red Riding Hood. That’s right, she was a real person. Back then, the handbag was still a handbasket, but more on that later.

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Her Own Bones

Reading Time: 3 minutes Gwen examined the table so she didn’t have to meet the impatient eyes of the family members. Had one of these cups of tea held the poison responsible for the corpse lying beside an overturned chair at the head of the table?

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Seed Hunters

Reading Time: 4 minutes “I’ve heard it’s still contaminated,” Ollie says, a hint of a question in her voice. Her eyes shimmer, opalescent with reflected fog as she looks at me. A definite challenge. “I heard people were getting sick, some kind of virus.” I grit my teeth, realizing that Ollie is definitely more than she seems. But then, so am I.

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The Shipping Forecast

Reading Time: 4 minutes As the world untethers from reality, moderate to severe distortion in time, leading to invasions from Normans, Saxons, and Romans in Dover; possible Vikings in Thames. High likelihood of property damage and loss of prevailing cultural norms. Squally showers.

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Nightraven, Highway 9

Reading Time: 3 minutes When I get the call for a Code 43, I have to pull my truck over and consult my Codex of Supernatural Beasts and Cryptids to make sure I’m not mistaken. “Forty-three?” I ask over the walkie. Maybe Dispatch meant 42 (Mothman) or 44 (Batsquatch). “A Nightraven? You sure?”

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Death and the Doctor

Reading Time: 5 minutes I cut into the girl on the table before me, exposing her living viscera to air as biology never intended. I am committing a trespass of integument in order to heal, a perversion of the natural order in order to preserve what is natural. An apparition stands in the corner, watching with interest. Death says: “Your work continues to fascinate, Doctor.”

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Souls

Reading Time: 4 minutes We went to the funeral. It was a little awkward, since we hadn’t been around for a while. His parents were grateful to see us, though. In their grief, they seemed to take our presence as some sort of affirmation of their son’s life. We didn’t do anything to disillusion them.

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Best Friends Forever

Reading Time: 4 minutes Branch by flexing branch, Mike climbed higher. Powdery bark stained his fingers green. At the top, he laughed and drank in the view, from his family’s tiered concrete blockhouse to the river’s patrol boats. “Come on up here, Sim—” Mike almost fell when a freckled face appeared beside him. “This is dangerous,” Simon said. “We should go home.”

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The Songstress

Reading Time: 2 minutes In the small town of Nowhere, / on a swampy river shore, / appeared a young woman, / covered fully in gore. / She danced through the streets / with a twirling step, / blood dotting the ground / wherever she leapt.

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In the Fire of Her Eyes

Reading Time: 4 minutes She kept her eyes shut. She ran deep into the wilderness. And as the sun flickered out, and the sky went black, and she held all the light of the world behind her eyelids, she tried to pretend she could bury her pain, and she wouldn’t die alone in the cold of the mountains.

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Empty Sleeve

Reading Time: 4 minutes The vet said that my grief would modulate over time and eventually become a part of who I was, something I would cease to question, like the existence of my own arms.

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Um

Reading Time: 4 minutes She wondered if she should even say it. She didn’t even want to think it. But Wyx definitely had to know, had a right to know probably. “There’s someone else on board.”

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Mudpot

Reading Time: 4 minutes No magic in it. She didn’t need any. She just turned around looking some kind of way, and bung he went. Sometimes, a person sees their future in stark clarity and chooses to roll off the coil while the going’s good, and that’s the best thing that could be said about Amajane’s father.

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Dream Planet

Reading Time: 5 minutes Idyllic was the only word Brody could think to describe it. How had he missed this bit of paradise so close to camp?
“—ody?!” The static hiss of Control cut sharply through his helmet, killing the serenity settling upon him. Brody sighed. His last check-in couldn’t have been, what? Fifteen minutes ago? 

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Young Buck

Reading Time: 5 minutes The real crook is the Company and always has been. It’s them that got reaction drives outlawed when water’s free, dammit. They only done it so we’d have to buy fusion fuel at a thousand percent markup. Most of us so-called pirates were just freelance miners that couldn’t afford the new engines.

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Nothing About Owls

Reading Time: 2 minutes This has to be the year the bodies crest the top of the structure, because her parents are selling the cabin. They keep saying, It’s changed, it’s changed, it’s not the same. Even when she says she doesn’t care how it used to be, that she likes it now.

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A Gift in Ink

Reading Time: 4 minutes When a mysterious letter written in strange disappearing ink arrives from the daughter he banished long ago for dabbling in sorcery, a father must decipher her cryptic confession before the words and his memories fade into oblivion.

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DC

Reading Time: 11 minutes A higher power watches a small group of primitive humans in the far future try to understand the alarms triggered by their presence in a long-abandoned city.

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Rainbow Sprout

Reading Time: 4 minutes Stupid car accident. Stupid sister. Stupid globetrotting, summer-consuming, plant-feeding adventure.

That’s what Mother said. “Oh, it’ll be an adventure! Just think how happy your sister will be with her sprout! She needs this now.” I get it, I’m grateful to have a working spine, but that doesn’t mean I should have to waste months trudging around… where the hell am I now? Greece?

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Dragon Dancer

Reading Time: 4 minutes Every year as migrating dragons pass by from across the endless sea, tradition mandates one woman jump into the thunder and dance with the wild beasts as they pass overhead. This year’s Dancer is Lanitia’s sister. The Dancer must die or arrive at The Decent; this time, something new happens.

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A Sampling of Seven Dragons

Reading Time: 4 minutes Before any of the more artisanal offerings you’ll be tasting today, let us begin with a fairly traditional preparation. Yes, the one just before you, and then we’ll go round the plates widdershins from there. Anticlockwise, that is. As you take a bite, note the full-bodied ferocity, the natural balance between dread and might, that

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Send in the Clones

Reading Time: 4 minutes The victim’s head had been blown clean off, that much was obvious. The body lay on a table in the morgue, the harsh scent of antiseptic trying and failing to cover the rusty smell. I looked over at my partner, Wolf-776f6c66 and sighed. “Why am I here?”
There wasn’t much crime on Callisto Colony, and what there was tended to be pretty minor. Vandalism, drunk and disorderly, sometimes a domestic disturbance. All in a day’s work for me, the only full detective on the colony. A corpse was unusual, true, but this case? Open and shut.

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Night Eyes

Reading Time: 4 minutes Turner finds himself stranded in the middle of the highway late at night. As he waits for help to arrive, a strange girl appears at his car. Is she real or a ghost of his dark past?

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Swatted

Reading Time: 4 minutes Cara McHenry has only one chance to get a lead on her kidnapped sister, but the only ace up her sleeve is surprise . . . if she can hold her nerve.

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