Issue Fifty-four, May 2014

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The Many Incarnations of Blazer Chief, Elise Matthews
“The town council banned snakes as pets next, though most owners had already killed their pet snakes. The Pentecostal church also killed their snakes — something the council had been trying to get them to do for years. All the churches in town drove the snake massacre. Snakes were Satan incarnate. Our bloodlust was insatiable. Armed with shovels and shotguns, we spent full days combing the fields outside of town. We forgot about our jobs and other responsibilities.”

How to Wash a Magic Carpet, Lauren O’Donnell
“The secret was in the pattern of the rug itself, in its vibrant geometry of reds and blues and greens and lines and triangles and flourishes. The rug’s soft fibers stood erect but were pressed and angled subtly by her bare toes and the vacuum, creating highlights and shadows when sunlight hit. Often she lay on it, stretching. She never suspected a thing, not since her mother gave her the rug twenty years ago.”

With Spider, Kelly Magee and Carol Guess
“Ella knew it was early to adopt another child, but Spidie reached out to her. At first she was afraid she was unfit. If she couldn’t keep a human child alive, how could she protect a spider? But Spidie was alone, and so was she. They stared at each other from across the room until finally Ella held out her sleeve. Spidie crawled onto it. They watched each other silently for a while, arachnid to person. They could be alone together, Ella thought. It was a perfect fit.”

Relics, Valya Dudycz Lupescu
“I wasn’t in a hurry to die, but neither was I afraid of death. I grew up with death. He tucked me in at night, dared me to pocket sweets from the Superette, and poured my mom cocktails. Since my teenage years, I had been looking for death on every thrill ride and in every risky decision, waiting to find death on the face of each anonymous lover.”

The Dog with the Rhinestone Eyes, Mary Renzi
“Many creatures came and went from the river, but they never saw the old woman unless she wanted them to. She could materialize her desire into stone, dirt and bone through a catastrophic alignment of will and inertia. The old woman was a sorceress, and understood invisibility.”

Cover art: Reading Between the Lines, Morgan Carver

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