The first time the beast came to the village was by accident. He had simply lost his way.
However, once he learned the townspeople were willing to feed him one of their own each year, gradually incorporating more festivities and rituals into his visits, the beast vowed to keep returning.
Ran Walker is the award-winning author of seventeen books. He teaches creative writing at Hampton University in Virginia.
The students had dug a grave.
The children had sharpened their knives.
The cult had sacrificed a deer.
“Do you think bad luck will chase us?” someone asked Yanni, the leader.
“This isn’t Ancient Greek class.”
Something watched from the thicket, something of the woods, dark and ancient.
Avra Margariti is a Social Work undergrad from Greece. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Daily Science Fiction, The Forge Literary, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other venues. You can find her on Twitter at @avramargariti.
Hundreds of tiny bulrush baskets, aglow with tallow and bearing various gifts for Yemoja, the river goddess, bob towards the saturn sun halo of red and black velvety rings.
But later that night, all night, the darkness weeps for the three families echoing those tiny, thin cries beyond the reeds.
Folake lives and works in Nigeria and hopes to earn the title of “fiction writer” one day.
American Ballet Theatre. Lele auditions tomorrow. Toes blood-raw, shiny cut runs the length of her shin.
Jeté, changement, développé… Feet soaking in tepid water, eyes closed, mentally rehearsing: balance, hold, reach, stretch, point.
Lele wraps her stress fractured arch, traces the stinging laceration—she cut herself so they would see.
Z. Shuff has an M.D. and an M.F.A. She lives, works, and writes in beautiful West Virginia with her husband, their two kids, their dog, and their cat.
Last night, the Devil came knocking. I invited him in for a cup of coffee. He said he was looking for a soul to make his quota. I looked at him; he looked at me. I said, Take my wife. She’s all I got but she’s yours. He left happy.
Originally from Tennessee, Gail L. Winfree is a writer and author currently living in Germany. He has written and published two novels and a book of poems and short stories.
The incident had tremendous consequences for him.
Now he had just a few hours left and could barely talk. She was by his side until the end.
When she asked him the reason for his heroic action, he answered, amid long pauses: “Selfishness. I couldn’t have borne watching you suffer.”
José Jaime is from Spain and is studying at university. He had to do a project about reading one 50-word story aloud, and that encouraged him to create his own.
He put his hand in the fire for me. He was in the parlor with my father, his uncle.
“Let me see her for as long as my hand is in the flame!” he declared, making quite an impression. I heard him across the house.
But father sent him away.
Ciera Horton is a 20 year old writer and world traveler, a lover of old books and swing dancing, and a student at Wheaton College in Chicago. She shares her culturally-engaging outlook on literature and social hot topics on her blog, cierahorton.blogspot.com.
The key gleamed in his calloused hand. Behind him, a childhood of broken promises and long struggles echoed the hallway.
Marcus held his breath and faced the door. Years of backbreaking construction for Uncle, and turning cheek to easy money, led to this defining moment: a place of his own.
Before embracing her affinity for writing, Shermie Rayne had an indelible love of words. She likes to use written words to ponder, push back against, or relish in the journey of life. Currently, Rayne is editing the first draft of her first completed manuscript, SKY, an upper middle-grade, epistolary-journal novel that follows a tender-hearted soul, a seventh-grade girl, Sky Jeffers, as she contemplates the challenging burden of living.
“Death knocked on my door, asking for my mother, so I gave him my eyes and he left.
“A year later Death returned, asking for my mother, so I gave him my voice and he left.
“Today I heard myself calling from the doorstep. She ran out to greet me.”
Clio Velentza lives and invents stories in Athens, Greece. Her work has appeared in print in the anthology of short stories 21 New Voices and online in FractalArt, Literature.gr, and 25th Hour Project. Find her at @clio_v.