Twilight Of Consciousness

August 29th, 2013

Twilight Of Consciousness
By Bobbi Sinha-Morey


I hid in shadows
anchored to earth
by shallow roots,
waiting for the smile
of unexpected light,
hope inaudible as
dreams secreted away
from me, this sole
unquiet thing idling
in my quivering spirit
making a toy of any
thought. Like a candle
carved in the darkness
my mind is another
story, unhelped by any
wind. In the pause of
deepest silence I’ve
wrested with my emotion
and lain pressed against
the broken door of my
wintering soul. Only in
the greying light do I
see my final and brief
distinction, a death
certificate neatly penned.


Bobbi Sinha-Morey is a reviewer for the online magazine Specusphere and a poet. Her poetry can be seen in places such as Orbis, Gloom Cupboard, Falling Star Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, and Bellowing Ark, among others. Her latest book of poetry, Rain Song, is available at

Lost Star

August 28th, 2013

Lost Star
By Bobbi Sinha-Morey


What narrow yesterdays,
what stale and shriveled
years when all that is left
is the rear view mirror
of my broken dreams.
My heart folded like a
tent not long ago. At
this time words die
strangled on my lips
and sorrow I keep curled
in my fist. Despair is still
my star; it deepens the
grey and tears refuse to
clear away my eyes while
silence pushes me into
a box of its own. I look
for the cracks that have
riven my past and pierced
my memories, each one
a desert isle leaving me
so bare I’ve nowhere to go.


Bobbi Sinha-Morey is a reviewer for the online magazine Specusphere and a poet. Her poetry can be seen in places such as Orbis, Gloom Cupboard, Falling Star Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, and Bellowing Ark, among others. Her latest book of poetry, Rain Song, is available at

Other People

August 26th, 2013

Other People
By Chris Rhatigan


“I am no longer talking to other people.”

“What do you mean by ‘other people’? People who are not me?”

“No. You are included in ‘other people.’ You are not me. Therefore, you are ‘other people.’”

“But you are talking to me right now.”

“Yes, but soon I will not be.”

“So you are taking ‘a vow of silence.’”

“You could call it that.”

“I could?”


I walk away. I am a person of my word. This is something other people need to know about me. If I give my word, I do not go back on it. Unless I have a good reason to. Or I feel like it. Then I go back on my word very quickly.

I go to my job. One of the requirements of the job is to wear a uniform. The uniform is uncomfortable, although I am not sure why. It is not itchy. It is not green or red or even black. It fits me well. It is not orange, yet it is uncomfortable. I cannot stop moving when I am in the uniform. I always need to have at least one part of my body in motion.

I speak with no one at work. The customers do not speak to me either. We have an understanding, the customers and I. Our understanding is that I do not speak. In exchange, they will not comment on my constant movement. So far, this is going well.

My co-workers are on board for not talking, too. They do not know it, but they comply nicely. This guy, Sucker, used to nod at me once in a while, but then he stopped doing that. This is better.

My boss is not on board with not talking.

She says things to me, such as, “Why are you sitting in a dark corner reading the back of a bag of sugar?”

She also says, “I picked your name out of a hat. Then I vomited.”

And, “You are fired. Please remove your painfully uncomfortable uniform and get the fuck out of here.”

I decide to break my vow due to emergency circumstances. “Can I collect my last pay check?”

“No. It will be mailed to you in approximately 7-10 weeks.”

“I would like to say that it does not matter that I am being fired by a woman, that this would be the same if you were a man, but, clearly, it does matter and it would be different if you were a man.”


“I am going to keep the uniform. No one else is allowed to wear this uniform.”

I wonder if the picking a name out of a hat thing and the me being fired thing are related, but I do not ask her about this.

It is sunny and warm outside. I decide to walk home. Although I do not have any choice.

I see some people, but no one tries to talk to me. This is because I have a look on my face that says, “Do not try to talk to me. I have taken a ‘vow of silence.’ I have recently broken this vow, but now I am enforcing it again. It is not that I do not want to talk to you. You may have very interesting and important things to say. Nonetheless, this is something that we will both have to live with.”

On the way, I am distracted by a public execution. The execution is in a small park. I did not know this park hosted executions, but there are thousands of decapitated heads on the ground. All of the eyes stare at me, none of the mouths talk to me.

I recognize the executioner. His name is Question Mark.

The executee is a midget or a child. Either way, the little person smokes a cigar and surveys the carnage.

“So many heads, so little time, eh Question Mark?” He jabs Question Mark in the thigh with his elbow. They both laugh for a long time. Question Mark really gets into it, doubles over and guffaws like a peasant. Then the crowd starts laughing, too, and all the heads join in, and I feel a great deal of pressure to laugh along with everyone else, it would be so obvious if I didn’t, but I know that if I try to force a laugh, it will come out all wrong, like a high-pitched squeal, and then everyone will abruptly stop laughing, and I will need to come up with a reason for why my laugh was so weird—meaning that I would have to break my vow of silence again.

Instead, I shift my weight from one foot to the other, then back again. This uniform is fucking killing me, but I have no other choice. They should just get this execution over with so that everyone can go home. I am going to write my congressperson about this ineffective public administration. What do we pay taxes for?

I am being serious. I want to know.

Question Mark wipes the tears away from his face and slaps the little person on the back. He takes out what appears to be a long strand of dental floss, wraps it twice around the little person’s neck, and yanks on both ends. The head disengages from the neck and pops straight up into the air, like a champagne cork. Blood squirts out of the neck hole. The crowd hoots and hollers, but it seems they are doing it because someone expects them to.

The little person’s head lands on top of a clump of other heads, little person eyes staring at me. I wonder where that cigar went.

Back home, I find ten dollars under the sofa and order a pizza.

The delivery guy and I have a routine that limits our contact with each other. I slide the money under the door; he slides the pizza under the door.

Maybe we do not have a routine. I never see him, so it is possible that there is a different delivery guy every time who figures out the routine on his own. That would be something.

I eat the pizza in silence. At first, I do nothing while I eat the pizza.

Then I do nothing.



Chris Rhatigan is the editor of the crime fiction zine All Due Respect and the co-editor of the anthologies Pulp Ink and Pulp Ink 2. His work has been published in Needle, Beat to a Pulp, Pulp Modern, and elsewhere.He blogs about short fiction and eBooks at Death by Killing

A best friend is the hardest thing to come by.

November 6th, 2012

A best friend is the hardest thing to come by
By Ryan Sayles


Looking at Diesel, my aging bull mastiff, now there’s a best friend. Never judges, never gets all pissy when I come home drunk at three in the morning. Just waits like an old buddy, tail thumping and happy to see me.

Better than Diane, that’s for sure. I tried to give her the best of everything because she was the best of everything. Best cheerleader, best lay in the Ford’s back seat, best russet potato and cheddar casserole. Some things you just can’t touch. But Diane, she had a mean streak. Diesel, a dog bigger than some racing horses, he didn’t. Not a bad bone in his body and he had all the sharp teeth.
Now Diane, when we said we was getting married, she said she was my best friend. And for thirty years of hell, she was anything but. Diesel is the latest and last in a long line of dogs for me. I’ve hit my end, for sure. Stomach cancer. Diane always said it was too many beers, too many chasers, too many of whatever it was I did when she wasn’t looking.


Right before she left, she said all that fire and spit rising up from my gut was all them sins I committed. Nights I’d raise a hand to her, and some such. Sometimes the only way to get her to shut up was to show her my backhand.
Maybe a boot heel.

But you know, a man’s just a man and a man gets tired of hearing some broad talking shit for thirty years about how she had everything and she wasted it all on that man. I gave her the best. I swear it. Maybe my best wasn’t the same kind of best that Clarence could give, or Robbie or Alex. But fuck them. I won out with Diane. She just regretted it later.

Diesel, he don’t complain about nothing. Not the table scraps I fed him his whole life. Not about how sometimes I’d forget to fill the water bowl. Or how sometimes I’d give him beer instead. After a while you regret every accidental piece of onion he ate. Every nibble of chocolate. Both bad for dogs, you know. He deserves the best. He deserves probably better than I gave him.

Now, I already said Diane got up and left. Bitch. Talking about my death sentence like it was payment for her bullshit suffering all our lives. Like I was responsible for that. She went to her older sister’s house. I followed her.

That didn’t work out well, to say the least.

So I came home, knowing my life is over. Sit down at the dinner table, call Diesel over. Best friend, ever. Never complained when I showed him my backhand, neither. Diane said it made him mean, but I think she lied. I ask forgiveness for every accidental piece of onion he ate. Every nibble of chocolate. My stomach’s killing me. I’d hate for his to do the same.

I feed him strips of fresh meat, hoping that since it’s still warm and gooey, only the best will keep him around longer. He eagerly licks my fingers, doesn’t complain, and I give him another chunk of Diane.



Ryan Sayles’s novel The Subtle Art of Brutality is out through Snubnose Press. He is the editor of The Noir Affliction, a column at Out of the Gutter. His works appears at sites such as Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Beat to a Pulp and Crime Factory. He may be contacted at


November 5th, 2012

By Gary Hewitt


Moisture smoulders
Ultimate sleep
Sun blackens
Halo winking

Blueblood sky
Jungles quiver
Porous shelter
Demon star

Earth gasps
Oceans cry
Hurricanes quake
Tsunamis wither

Ziggurats blaze
Corpulent rivers
Satan’s steam
Angels choke

Life flies
Blasted rock


Gary Hewitt is a writer who lives in a small village in Kent in the UK. He has had several stories and poems published including editions of M-Brane and Morpheus Tales. His style does tend to be dark and is rather unique. He is a member of the Hazlitt Arts Writers’ Group.

I don’t know you

September 27th, 2012

By Janet Shell Anderson


I know they’re outside the house, Viktor, Leland, Finn, waiting in the black van. The moon’s a sickle, about to be eclipsed by storm. Viktor never remembers my cell number.

My father said I could walk through night and never be seen, could live forever, like him. He shot himself in Idaho when I was fifteen.

I know too much. I was at Salt Creek on the fifth of May. Two meth dealers from Beatrice, Nebraska, died. I never thought Leland would come here after that or Viktor either, but I was wrong. They’ve never been inside this house, my mother’s new house, my house now. It’s huge, beautiful. My mother’s dead. That’s another story.

Viktor waits in deep darkness under the hundred-year-old ash tree. If the storm comes, it’s a bad place to park. The limbs are two feet thick, could crush the van. Viktor’s afraid of nothing, except me. He says I make things that should not happen, happen. I’m afraid of everything.

He and Leland, Finn, they’re hunters now. They hunt people.

There’s a door in the basement under the porch. Viktor doesn’t know about the door. I go down the servants’ staircase as the landlines ring, crawl behind the basement shelving, try not to let it scrape as I move it. The door beneath the porch is only two feet high. What was it for? God knows. It’s a good thing I’m thin. I open the door, slide into the dirt underneath the porch, behind bridal-wreath spirea in full bloom, see eyes in the hedge, a cat. It skitters toward the van. As it moves, I move, slide under the hedge. Car lights probe the street, show the passage between my house and the neighbor’s. A cigarette glows in the van. I hear the voices.

“Man, go in, she’s there.”

“No car.”

“In the garage.”

“She parks out front.”

“This is just a bad idea, Viktor.”

“Call her again, Leland; she trusts you.”

I move; thin branches tear my hair. Viktor was my husband, Leland, Finn, my friends. From Park Middle School until now, we were Lincoln, Nebraska’s darkest, wildest children, always together. Until we weren’t.

I get past the open garden gate into the backyard, into darkness so thick I am afraid to stand up; I’ll fall. Then lights go on in the house behind the alley, and I can see too well. The landline rings. I go under three yew bushes, reach the back fence, crawl toward the gate, slip into the narrow passage between garage and wall, creep into the alley. The men argue in the van.

I married Viktor, had a son. He only lived a day. When I was pregnant, I called my mother from a payphone. She pretended not to know me, would not tell me where she lived. I found her. We are dysfunctional. When I think maybe life’s not real, I remember her saying, “I don’t know you.” I felt the baby kick that moment.

In the alley, the lights are murderous. I move shadow to shadow, edge by the neighbor’s house, cross Sixteenth Street. If Viktor starts the van, turns right, they’ll see me. I move quickly but don’t run. I parallel “A” Street, walk toward the sickle moon. I cross Seventeenth, no traffic, climb the steep alley between “A” and “B”. Gusts of wind circle. Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth, no more alleys, I chance walking straight down “C” Street, hear a car, find shadow.

It’s a van. My mouth is full of copper.

When my father died, my mother said, “I wish it had been you.” She never knew if I had a son or daughter. The baby kicked when I asked her how to find my way to her new house and she said “I don’t know you.” We’re dysfunctional.

The van goes by.

Viktor was sleek and beautiful and I loved him more than anyone I ever saw, would watch him sleeping, that beauty, the only one I ever wanted. Afraid of nothing, except me, he knows too much.

Twenty-seventh Street is four lanes wide. Cars rush past. Lightning flashes. I stand away from the streetlight. When the street’s empty, I run. The Lincoln Chidren’s Zoo, the bike trail, are both close. Viktor never biked. The trail cuts through yards and parks away from streets, follows an old railroad right of way.

“She’s just a dumb bitch,” Finn said when I was under the bridal-wreath spirea.

“You know what she can do.” Viktor.

“You think she’ll kill us. Some kind of spell or crap.” Leland.

“She set us up, you idiot. She killed those bastards herself at Salt Creek. She’s got the money and the meth.”

“Man, that’s just not possible.”

I pass behind a strip mall, cross a bike trail bridge over Highway 2. The wind’s coming up; the storm is near. Lethal weather.

“She killed her mother, right?”

My car waits in the parking lot where I left it near Salt Creek. I drive south and east and south below frantic skies, forked lightning, to Beatrice, then Blue Springs, then Wymore. Out of the storm. Into Kansas. Safe, the way I planned.

I picture it: at last Viktor remembers. My cell phone in my house rings. I left a message on it. Same as for my Mom.

“I don’t know you.”



Nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Janet Shell Anderson writes flash fiction and was published by Vestal Review, Grey Sparrow, Larks Fiction, The Scruffy Dog, Long Story Short, and others. She is an attorney.