:: Fiction

Too Much of a Good Thing published 26/05/2020

Workers all over forgot to turn up. They lost all sense of time to searching for just the right words, the right image, the metaphor that could decode the moment and let everyone name what no one was talking about. It had been on the tips of all tongues for more than a year but no one had managed to swallow it yet.

A story by Steve Himmer.

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doppelgänger published 12/05/2020

I received a strange email a few days ago. Written in the body, it read, Alas, I lacked the will to be born…

There was no subject line. I didn’t know what it meant. There wasn’t even really a sender—just a string of numbers @ another string of numbers dot com. Spam, I thought, and moved to trash it, but something made me pause. “The will to be born”—it was such an awkward phrase! What did it even mean?

A short story by Rhian Sasseen.

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LOTE: an extract published 05/05/2020

What was beyond doubt by the time I got back was that a new Transfixion had arrived in the form of Hermia Druitt, the woman in this photograph. This was confirmed by the sensations: flashes from Arcadia. Moonlight, of a kind, sighed up and down the tube of my spine, but above all, that indescribable note which accompanied all my Transfixions was present: humming beneath the high fine rush—probably not dissimilar to holy rapture—was an almost violent familiarity.

An extract from the novel LOTE by Shola von Reinhold.

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Behavioural Competencies published 28/04/2020

You have a strong stomach. You do not have a phobia of dogs, of flying, of large or small spaces, of blood, of speed, of heights, of water. You are a strong swimmer, even when clothed. You are highly controlled, but you sometimes find it necessary, pleasant even, to be out of control. You are a competent and fast driver with no points on your license. You are not a high-sensation seeker, but you are unfazed by risk. You don’t ask unnecessary questions. You are not afraid of loud noises. You are a good climber and are able to hold your own in a fight. You can fire a gun.

A story by Ben Fergusson.

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Bleach published 31/03/2020

The killer awoke before dawn, the gray light entering the windows of an abandoned rest stop where he’d taken the life of the second and last night had finished the burning and grinding of his body so that what pieces remained in his possession might be scattered out the door of his car. This was Northern California and he’d come down through Oregon over the past several weeks. He’d lost time and perspective while within his state and this was part of it.

A short story by Grant Maierhofer.

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The Episode of the Stolen Trunks: An Extract from Sade’s Aline and Valcour published 24/03/2020

The Duke of Cortéreal has news and can provide sure and certain information concerning your stolen possessions. The same man who brought this note shall return with a carriage at sunset; he will drive you to a country estate several miles outside the suburb of Belem, owned by a lord who evinces interest in you. Once there, for the price of unlimited obedience, your trunks will be returned plus one-third of their value.

An extract from Marquis de Sade‘s novel Aline and Valcour.

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A Longer Trip Back Home published 11/02/2020

My mother spends all her wages on cigarettes. My mother, a waitress at a café in the center of a suburban residential area at the edge of the world. In the afternoon, the café is filled with ladies. They are housewives coming from elegant houses at the edge of the world, killing time. Mother and the ladies play mah-jongg every Wednesday at the café, in the center of the town, where the smoke of cigarettes wafts stronger than the scent of coffee.

A short story by Hiromi Suzuki.

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Low (Extract) published 22/01/2020

When the priests told him to push the button that would slide her into the electric furnace, he had worried that the absurd sari would burst into flame. He’d taken a last look at her slight figure dwarfed by piles of flowers and sundry low-priced objects, her face obscured by the sari’s pallu, artfully obscured so no viewer would remark at the blood vessels that had burst on her cheeks and forehead and neck like scarlet-brown buds that would never bloom. “Kar do,” the priest had said. Obediently Ullis slid her in, and some time later his mother-in-law divided his wife’s ashes into two boxes: “One for you and one for me.”

An extract from the opening chapter of Jeet Thayil‘s Low, out today!

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The Jungle Banshee published 16/12/2019

I don’t get depressed at home, I get depressed when I have to leave; when I have to go and sign on at the Job Centre or when I have to go and visit people. I mean, I don’t visit people that often but I do have to go to the Job Centre a bit and it’s a ball ache. It’s a waste of time, me going all the way up there for them to keep me waiting. If I’m ever late, that’s it: SANCTIONED. If they’re late then that’s fine; I have to wait.

A short story by Jim Gibson.

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Antarctica published 14/12/2019

After a few centuries of no emissions and a large reforestation programme, the ice returned and Antarctica was once again a freezing southern wasteland, which was bad news for most of the animals it had picked up on its unauthorised journey. Astonishingly, some of them adapted to deal with the conditions, and to scientists’ delight, several herds of elephants which had climbed aboard during the African leg of the trip eventually evolved into a modern strain of bad-tempered woolly mammoths. Enormous white giraffes and powerful ice-dwelling gorillas which fed on penguins and seals also emerged.

By Harry Cockburn.

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