DOUG ROBBINS: Teddy Bear Blues

Emily’s crib remained empty, except for her teddy bear. I looked at it and tears filled my eyes. Its button eyes were filled with melancholy.

The divorce was finalized yesterday and Greta took Emily to Chicago.

I grabbed the teddy bear and smelled it. It smelled of baby shampoo: Emily’s.

Doug has contributed to the popular horror anthology Demonic Visions 50 Horror Tales. His poetry is also featured in Poetry Quarterly and was an editor’s choice in a New England poetry publication.

DOUG ROBBINS: Teddy Bear Blues 3.33/5 - 3 votes


Go on now,
purse your lips
to the only addiction
you’ve ever had.
The ashes of what was;
better than our
last breakfast shared
in silence.

Let it rain and
ruin your white flag
while on grass-stained knees
I cry and beg
to gods who are either deaf or dead.

​From the Midwest, Kacy Cunningham currently lives in San Francisco, where she is an MFA student in fiction at SF State.

KACY CUNNINGHAM: Grass Stains 4.20/5 - 10 votes


They arrive with crushed skulls, torn limbs, and bodies twisted beyond recognition. It is difficult to believe a few months ago they were posted all over the globe only to return broken.

Sad? Yes.

However, I love my position as doll doctor in the biggest toy store in the world.

John B. Sinclair is a much-travelled Scot who has now returned to Scotland, where he enjoys freelance writing on a variety of subjects.

JOHN B SINCLAIR: Broken 2.89/5 - 9 votes


Last week’s winning story is Paper Crosses by J Ian Manczur.

I chose this story because of its strong use of juxtaposition. On the one hand, we see the apparent emptiness of “an essay and a check” and some simple paper crosses. Who does this pastor think he is, playing around with these useless credentials and empty symbols? And then on the other hand, we have the pastor’s incredible willingness to “forgive what the dead never could”. That offer of forgiveness is truly noteworthy, and is way more meaningful than the paper crosses themselves.

And yet, naturally, perhaps, the prisoner is a skeptic.

Well done, Ian!

SYLVIA HEIKE: Collateral Damage

Luke fired. The redhead fell and twitched helplessly on the sidewalk, emitting sparks. One criminal android eliminated.

Now the male.

Luke’s finger trembled on the trigger. His face…

A perfect head shot. The android went down.

Luke fell on his knees, unscathed but damaged. He’d just shot… his other self.

Sylvia Heike lives in Finland and loves her rabbits even when they nibble on her books. She writes poetry and flash fiction and is working on her novel. Check out her website at

SYLVIA HEIKE: Collateral Damage 3.32/5 - 22 votes

PEGAH MEHDIZADEH: Tattoo Confessions

The smell of Zinfandel lingers on his lips. The television buzzes like a flowerbed of bees; its images flicker in his dark bedroom. We dance, since childhood waiting for this one perfect song to play.

He asks about my tattoo. I remember my husband.

We kiss before I can confess.

Pegah Mehdizadeh is a writer in Los Angeles and is currently working on her novel, Beneath the Shade of the Pomegranate Tree.

PEGAH MEHDIZADEH: Tattoo Confessions 4.37/5 - 60 votes

NATHAN HYSTAD: The Key to Life

The key hung around his neck. He’d tried every lock in the house.

Years passed and he forgot about it.

When he was eighty, his old eyes spotted the tiny door. He blew the cobwebs away, tried the key and the door opened.

Pain and breath left his body.


Nathan Hystad is a writer from Sherwood Park, Alberta. Sometimes he writes a lot of words and sometimes 50 is all that is needed for his story.

NATHAN HYSTAD: The Key to Life 3.83/5 - 23 votes


Call me Ishmael. Many years ago I sought adventure on the whaler, Pequod.

Captain Ahab was obsessed with the white whale, Moby Dick.

His vengeful pursuit of the whale cost him his ship, the lives of his crew, his own life, his soul.

I alone survived, clinging to Queequeg’s coffin.

Harry Demarest has retired after careers encompassing scientific research, teaching at a university, software development, web application development, and voter database compilation and distribution. He is now spending his time with his grandchildren and writing memoirs and short stories.

HARRY DEMAREST: Moby Dick 3.04/5 - 25 votes

TOM BARLOW: Disappointment

Downsizing after his death, she makes difficult decisions. Heirlooms, his suits, shoes, gone. The hardest? Her wedding gown, 50 years in its box. With parting tears she donates it, hoping another bride may enjoy her luck.

Halloween. The first child on her stoop, dressed for a wedding.

In her gown.

Tom Barlow is the author of Welcome to the Goat Rodeo and I’ll Meet You Yesterday.

TOM BARLOW: Disappointment 3.83/5 - 18 votes


Refusing would be antisocial. Plus, it’s his treat. I’m late for my meeting though. Still, I can have one drink with him and then be on my way. I’ll just make this call first and tell them I’m running late tonight.

I pulled out my phone and called my sponsor.

Lucy Q. Williams is a social worker from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. When she is not writing, she’s thinking about it. She is currently working on her first novel and tracks her progress on her blog at

LUCY Q WILLIAMS: One Drink 2.79/5 - 14 votes