September 1, 2021

Xerophilous

by M. J. Pettit “Please stay.” Alaide starred at me unblinking and repeated her request. All night, she kept repeating those words like they offered me a choice I could make. I shook my head. “We cannot.” Alaide shrunk at the sharpness of my voice. I wanted to sound kind yet firm, but my voice sounded shrill. I carried no anger. Impatience maybe. I simply wanted her to understand. Already the city pulled me northward. “I need to speak with you,” the scrawny bird said, looking me in the eye when she spoke. I cast a glance at my daughter. The stranger carried no tribute. “There’s something you must see,”…

September 1, 2021

Three Layer Apple Pie

by Mephitis My tail thumped the ground. Oh, crap, I thought, I must have left my spell book at Cissy’s. Deep breath. It’s ok; the protection spells make it appear as a cookbook to non-brethren. “Hi Cissy, this is Naomi,” I said into my phone chewing on my lower lip. “Did I leave a large blue book at your house last night?” “Yeah, Namoi, you did. I was feeling domestic and thought I’d bake a pie from it. You can have a slice when you pick it up.” I gulped. “What are you baking?” Please, please, be making cookies. “The  three layer apple pie sounded interesting.” I collapsed onto my…

September 1, 2021

How We’re Made

by Christopher Zerby We had a fire going on the roof of the Museum, same as most nights, and I noticed him sitting on the edge of it, across from me. I’d never seen him before. He hunkered down in a big, black coat, holding out his pale, skeletal hands to grab a bit of warmth, laughing a little behind the rest, like he didn’t quite get the jokes. I figured someone must have brought him, but no one was talking with him. Bang was there of course. So was Chittle, and Peapod, and maybe a dozen others, the usual crew. We had some juice someone snatched, and I felt…

September 1, 2021

Eye of the Beholder

by Kara Hartz Katelyn’s hands shook, making the image through her scope jump and blur. She gave up trying to look. It couldn’t be what it looked like. Well, maybe it could be. This planet hadn’t had a full astrobiology research team here before. She was the first human to set eyes on these animals. But still… no, it couldn’t be. She’d been so determined not to harbor any preconceived notions about what alien life should look like. She’s wanted to be open to the most bizarre, the most alien beings possible, so she didn’t miss anything, that she’d been taken completely off guard by the so familiar, yet so…

September 1, 2021

Moonbow

by Jason Kocemba It was late in the afternoon when I stepped out of the loamy dimness beneath the trees and into the brightness of the low afternoon sun. It would soon be hidden behind the cliffs of the valley, creating a premature twilight. A large animal called out from the trees. I looked back into the gloom but could see nothing. What kind of wildlife lived in this valley, anyway? I considered going back to Carrie and Billy at the campsite, but it didn’t really matter if I went back now or later: it would still be dark when I got there. Perhaps if I returned later the noisy…

September 1, 2021

Moon-Eye

by Garick Cooke At six months, he ate his sister while they were both still inside their mother. On the eve of his birth, then, he emerged fat and one-eyed, with the scars of his first fight still on his hide. For the sun-loving draks, a night birth was ill-omened. They were a cruel people, but even among them, infant cannibalism was a thing of the dark past. Thus, doubly ill-omened, he was named Moon-Eye, and he became untouchable. * * * In deep time, the skies dimmed and the world cooled. The draks, creatures of light and heat, weakened and dwindled. For a thousand years the dragon’s children had…

September 1, 2021

Mama’s Nursery

by Gloria Carnevale Mama couldn’t afford to be careless this time. She needed to move them, and quickly. She had found the ultimate setting. There were small cabins scattered throughout the property, most hidden by tall pines. A building alongside of the creek was perfect for meetings and meals. But it was the abandoned infirmary, complete with an operating theatre, which convinced her. It was a pity that Monkey and Pug wouldn’t be joining them, for they had begun to show signs of maturing, and Mama couldn’t have that. Besides, she was certain that there would be some who had been left behind here, and Mama could give them life….

September 1, 2021

The Squirrelherd and the Sound

by Emmie Christie Catherine didn’t much care for her job. It wasn’t that the squirrels gave her any lip. They had dental plans, 401Ks, and the whole caboodle after all. The Sound, though, that gave her the shudders. The animals dug in the fenced-off area of the forest. A sign warned off any journalists or teenagers of biohazards. Not that any would come by. The government had everyone and their aunt training for evacuation. Catherine chewed a big wad of mint gum to keep herself focused.

June 1, 2021

Palmerino’s Dream

by Joanna Galbraith In the Florentine hills below Fiesole, where the land is quilted with olive groves and stitched with high stone walls, where every house has dark green shutters and facades of yellow yolk; there lives the rooster of Villa di Notte who crows throughout the day. Lustily squawking as he struts his stuff, no one understands him apart from the chickens. ‘Hush,’ they coo as he begins to crow. ‘Today he begins the Seventh Circle of Hell.’ It is the rooster’s dream to reach Paradiso; His father only made it as far as Purgatorio. Sometimes the villa dog comes down to listen; scratching his back on the dry…

June 1, 2021

Miss Smokey

by Diana A. Hart The squeals of the horde grew closer. I pulled in a breath, thick with wood and old newsprint, and reared onto my hind legs. My knees ached as I staggered to the center of the room. Standing upright was a breeze as a woman, but I was in bear-form, and grizzlies sure as hell aren’t meant to walk that way. My muzzle wrinkled as I pawed my wide-brimmed hat into place and braced for impact. A pack of first-graders rounded the corner, flapping coloring books and screeching like howler monkeys on espresso. I snorted. They made a beeline for the menagerie of stuffed wildlife that lined…