We drank whiskey like sorrow were rare.
Dead’s dead, I muttered, bottle gone dry.
Hog stepped into the firelight, Colt drawn.
Wasn’t us, Billy blurted.
Hog shot him.
Wasn’t us my foot, I said, and drew.
I hadn’t a chance.
I knew it.
Hog knew it.
God hadn’t a clue.
Originally from the Midwest U.S., Justin Bendell lives and teaches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he edits the Manzano Mountain Review, co-hosts Point Blank—a podcast about noir, hardboiled, and detective fiction—and records music under various monikers including fuguers cove and Euthanized Horse. His stories and poems have appeared in Meridian, 3:AM Magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Thuglit, Washington Square Review, and more. He loves the desert. See more at justinbendell.com.
He crossed the finish line well ahead of the other athletes. The crowd cheered, a distant roar, but he didn’t stop.
In his mind, her voice was pleading, begging: “Don’t let me die here!”
Muscles pumping, heart racing, he sprinted on, the ghosts of his past hard on his heels.
Bill lives in Aberdeen, Scotland, which will become the capital of his world empire when he completes his anti-matter bomb. But first lunch.
Tears wanted to flow but nothing came. I wanted to cry but the guilt was too strong. In one fell swoop, my entire world crumbled before me, and I could not have done anything.
In that one moment, I understood what love and friendship meant because I had betrayed both.
Armaan is a bibliophile who listens to punk and alt rock, plays APRGs and likes to get serious sometimes. He started writing because his friends told him his English was better than theirs. His strong belief in friends has made him continue writing short fictional stories after high-school even though he currently pursues a degree in business management. He has recently entered the flash writing scene.
It was Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve (December 17th). Emily crossed the softball diamond in the snow, to where Sister Amy had had a tooth loosened by somebody’s loose ball in autumn.
“I’m fine!” she’d told them, face in hand.
Secretly Emily practiced alone until spring.
John Gabriel Adkins is a Pushcart-nominated writer of microfiction, anti-stories and other oddities, and is a member of the Still Eating Oranges arts collective. This year his work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Literary Orphans, SPANK the CARP, Five 2 One, Sick Lit Magazine, The Sleep Aquarium, and more.
Guilt burns my gut, only slightly sated by the whisky I sip.
The affair had been revenge for all the times his eyes had strayed. Joke was, I couldn’t tell him.
So my gut continues to burn as I take another sip and watch as his eyes stray once more.
Melissa is a writer, teacher, and dog lover in the Middle of Nowhere, Michigan.
I am a thief and a liar.
Forty years ago, when I was eight, I stole my cousin’s glow-in-the-dark super ball from his house on Thanksgiving morning. I told mom I found it in the park.
The ball was lost soon after, but not the shame. That I still have.
Kenneth Drexler is a short story writer located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. His most recent story will appear in the July/August issue of Bethesda Magazine.
There was a man at the corner with one third of a hat and half a pair of shoes. I offered him my boots. He sold them to a homeless guy for ten bucks and gave the money to a woman at a bus stop.
I really liked those boots…
He stood there on the corner, with tattered hat and coat. His backpack overflowed with toys that he was handing out.
His shoes were only halfers: they covered just his heels. I offered mine, but he declined, ungrateful little eel.
He made me feel guilty, and guilt is not genteel.
This story, and the supplementary poem, were inspired by a title suggested by @hexapodium.