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Black Roses and Hail Mary’s by Maria Alexander

As he awoke under the cement overpass, Jonathan heard the distant growl of cars, his own raspy breath, and the old woman’s gentle weeping. The last thing he remembered was Kiro and Sushime cackling over the squeal of tires, although those sounds had escaped into the smog hours ago. Wiping the long, grimy strands of his dyed dark brown hair from his face, Jonathan opened his eyes blearily, gravel biting his back through a beer-stained t-shirt. Steel-tipped black boots, leather pants ripped at the thigh – Fuck! – and a head full of heroin dreams, rolled by his best “friends”…

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Two Cents Worth by David J. Schow

GARAGE SALE, read the sign. I saw the chromium-yellow tagboard, with its big black cartoony arrow, on my way back from the bus stop, stapled to a much-stapled phone pole. The address on the sign was dead between my building and the phone pole. Ever since de-zoning, re-zoning, or whatever other catastrophe acceptable to the City Council’s bribed lackeys had befallen this former “neighborhood,” the residential blocks had been carved, sliced and diced to please the developers until some bloated fat cat with a cigar in his mush, incipient cancer and a string of embezzlement acquittals had pronounced it “good,” like Frankenstein’s Monster sucking watery soup.

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The King of Shadows by Maria Alexander

“Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.”
— Puck to Oberon,
A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Act III, ii

The funeral was today.

I wrote a film some years back about morgue workers. I watched tape after tape of interviews, the mortician’s assistants telling frightful tales about bodies unrecognizable from their wounds, which they dressed and coated with layers of cosmetics. They had learned to make Death rosy-cheeked and peaceful.

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Some New Kind of Kick by Clint Catalyst

The X begins to hit me, tingle in my groin, inner thighs.

Ten after eleven and I’m leaning against the sheetrock of my usual Saturday night spot, the righthand wall of Lillith’s dancefloor. Silhouettes of dark figures sway in the fog of the room, the features of nearby dancers discernible in the faint red overhead lights.

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When Gods Die by Maria Alexander

Titans and ambulances rage as they emerge from their caves, and sleep, twilight-bound and restless, when they return…

“Head injury, 15 minutes!”

The radio room PA system beeped frantically with the paramedic call for the latest trauma patient. Nine-year-old Rachel Anne Roberts tested at a “1” for every phase of the Glasgow Coma Test: unresponsive. Triage quickly ushered her gurney through the double-layers of automatic glass doors and into the trauma room. Blood draining from her right ear. Many cuts covering her frail body…

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Petition by David J. Schow

Abel Swift bandaged up his hand as best he could, given that there were no dressings or hydrogen peroxide in the apartment. To buy that kind of stuff from a bodega he would have to hump down six floors of stairs, and Abel hated exerting himself to waste money. He mummied up his hand with one of his wife’s halter tops tied in a knot, which gifted him with a bonus twinge of revenge. It served her right.

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Merry Christmas, Motherfucker by Thomas S. Roche

The fog was coming off the river and shrouding the town in winter magic. Vi slipped the 68 Caddy into low gear and came down the hill toward the housing development. Bruno reached out and touched her on the arm, a gesture of reassurance. She looked at him without smiling, but the warmth between them was obvious. They were two soldiers in combat.

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