Heirs of the Sun

Heirs of the Sun

by Eddie D. Moore

Alex studied data on the small display before him and then checked the final output of the solar farm. Satisfied, he closed the access panel, smiled, and took a step back to admire his work. Years of experimentation had finally paid off, and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment washed over him. The photovoltaic paint that he had worked so long and hard to develop worked better than expected, and soon, it would change the world. The one hundred panels comprising the solar array formed a perfect square and were evenly spaced in ten rows. Just behind the solar array, five rows of tall wind turbines caught the breeze to help maintain the charge on the batteries at night. The wind turbines cases, blades, and even the support poles were all painted with the black photovoltaic paint, and at this moment, they provided electricity from the sun and wind as they whirled in near silence.

Alex was jarred from his thoughts as his thirteen year old daughter, Kira, spoke behind him. “I wish we could use a different color; black feels a little,” Kira paused searching for the right word, “menacing to me.”

Alex shrugged. “Black is the most efficient color.” Alex’s eyebrows drew closer together. “Wait a minute. Shouldn’t you be doing your school work? Surely, I gave you enough to keep you busy.”

Kira rolled her eyes. “What is the purpose of the school work anyway? Is it to keep me busy or teach me?”

“How many times are you going to use that argument to get out of doing your assignments?”

Kira grinned mischievously. “Just give me the test already. You know I will pass it. Besides, I learn more out here working with you, rather than reviewing stuff I already know.”

Alex sighed and a hint of a smile touched his face. “I’m sure you would, but you have to complete a certain number of academic hours every week to satisfy the home school requirements.”

“What’s the big deal? They wouldn’t know how many hours I actually spent with my nose in a book.”

Alex raised an eyebrow and looked his daughter in the eyes. “I would.”

Kira looked toward the solar array and released a long breath. “Okay, I will finish up after dinner tonight. I’d just rather be working with you.” Her enthusiasm grew as she asked, “Have you checked the batteries yet?”

Alex smiled and shook his head. “That’s where I was heading. Come on, it would be a waste of time and breath arguing with you.”

They walked toward what appeared to be a small storage shed; however, the small building just covered a stairwell that led into the underground battery storage bunker. As they got closer to the entrance, the hum of charging batteries grew louder. When Alex unlocked and opened the door, the air vibrated with energy, and Kira thought she could feel electrically charged air flow over her like water.

Alex reached in and flipped a switch. The lights below flickered to life, and a moment later, a light illuminated the stairwell. With the wave of a hand, he motioned for Kira to start walking down the stairs. “Ladies first.”

Kira stepped inside, and when her father followed she asked suspiciously, “Why do you really want me to go first?”

Her father chuckled. “This way, if I fall, I will have something soft to land on.”

Kira jogged the last few steps two at a time and then turned smiling up the stairwell. “Nah. I can run down them faster than you can fall.”

When Alex stepped onto the bunker room floor, he ran his eyes down row after row of green lights. He spotted a single flashing red light on the back wall a moment before Kira pointed and said, “There’s one.”

Kira reached the battery first and read the error code. “It’s just an E02 code, dad. Do you want me to reset it?”

Alex removed a small log book from a pouch on the front of the battery and handed it to Kira. “You log the error; I will reset it.”

Kira’s bottom lip grew a little in size. “But I’ve done it a thousand times before, and now you have extra insulators on all the connections.”

Alex sighed and disconnected the battery. “I’m sorry, baby girl. But that federal inspector made it very clear that no one under eighteen was allowed to perform maintenance routines, and by the way, my design was completely safe without the extra insulators. The government doesn’t like the fact that our entire subdivision is now off the grid. They are nitpicking everything I do, hoping to shut this array down.”

“They did shut us down for a week while you worked your way through the non-compliance list the inspector noted.” Kira’s eyebrows drew closer together as she logged the error. “They want to shut down the array. Is that why Children’s Protective Services showed up after you passed the last inspection?”

Alex reconnected the battery, paused and nodded curtly. “I have no doubt about it. We have to be very careful right now.” He shook his head sadly. “I probably shouldn’t even let you down here. I suspect, the only reason the inspector didn’t insist on us hanging a restricted sign on this room was that he hoped we would slip up.”

Kira handed her father the log book. “Wow. I thought the CPS visit was random; I can’t believe that I missed the connection.”

Alex pressed the clear button on the battery charger, and a moment later, the green light lit up. “People don’t like it when you do something that affects their wallets, and this leap in solar efficiency threatens the financial solvency of some major corporations, as well as many powerful people. They will fight its development every step of the way. We just have to stay a step ahead of them.”

Kira cocked her head to the side in thought for a moment. “What do you think they will try next?”

Her father shrugged. “I really don’t know. We just have to try and stay prepared for anything. The publicity campaign has been going well, and the more people that know of our work, the less likely they are to shut us down over a technicality.”

As Kira and her father stepped outside, they saw two sheriff cars, and a black SUV pull into their driveway in the distance. Alex let out a long sigh. “Well, I guess we will not have to wait very long to find out what they will try next.” Alex rested a hand on Kira’s shoulder. “Run through the neighborhood and let everyone know that they’re back. We need as many witnesses as we can get.”

Alex paced himself as he walked toward the house to give Kira time to alert the subdivision. He smiled to himself as he saw his wife, Sara, step outside. A man in a suit handed her some papers, and she leaned against the house while she read. He knew that she would take the time to read each word of the paperwork before allowing them to continue, and he chuckled to himself when he got close enough to see the annoyance on the face of man who had handed her the papers.

As Alex approached the gathering, he caught sight of several of his neighbors walking towards his house. Sheriff Johnson and his deputy, Officer Jordan, waited patiently behind the annoyed man wearing dark blue suit. Sheriff Johnson nodded as Alex joined the group.

“Back again, Sheriff?”

Sheriff Johnson shrugged and nodded toward the suited man. “I’m just doing my job, Alex.”

Alex’s lips thinned, and he returned the sheriff’s nod. “You always do. I wouldn’t expect anything else.”

The man in the suit turned around and looked Alex over from head to toe. “Are you Mr. Alex Banneson?”

Alex extended a hand toward the man. “That would be me.”

The man in the suit glanced at Alex’s hand and ignored it. Alex let his hand fall as the man displayed his credentials. “I’m Agent Harrison. As you can see, I am a field agent for the IRS.” Sara handed Alex the paperwork as she stepped up beside him. “It has come to our attention that your neighbors have paid you directly for the maintenance and usage of your solar farm.” The IRS agent stood tall and looked down his nose at Alex and Sara. “If this is true, I’m afraid the tax penalties could be quite severe, and I fear that it is likely the IRS will file criminal charges for tax evasion.”

Alex thumbed his way through the paperwork and smiled when he got to the last page. He leaned over and whispered into his wife’s ear. Sara nodded, smiled, and walked quickly into the house. Alex glanced behind him. The entire neighborhood had gathered silently together.

When Sara came back out of the house, she was carrying two large manila envelopes. Alex offered Agent Harrison back the paperwork that he brought, but the agent shook his head rejecting the papers.

“Mr. Banneson, those are your copies of the paperwork notifying you of our intent to prosecute the infractions listed.”

Alex traded the paperwork for the envelopes that Sara carried, and he opened an envelope labeled receipts. “Ah, I have some paperwork for you as well. I noticed that the papers you brought are dated the twenty-first of this month.” Alex handed the agent the contents of the envelope. “These are copies of the receipts I gave my neighbors for the operation of the solar array. If you will, please flip to the last receipt.” The agent’s lips thinned as he looked at the last receipt. “As you can see, the last receipt is from the local IRS office and dated the twentieth. I have paid all the past due taxes.”

Agent Harrison’s eye narrowed and his cheeks reddened as he looked up. “I’m glad to see that you have taken care of the issue.” His words came slower and more pointed. “I will personally request that I get to review your tax statements each quarter to ensure there are no more oversights.”

Alex nodded and opened the second manila envelope. “That’s mighty nice of you Agent Harrison, but…” He pulled out the paperwork and handed it to the agent. “After I paid the taxes, I filed the required paperwork to form a 501(c)3.” Alex motioned at the crowd behind him. “We are the Heirs of the Sun.” Alex pointed toward a large gazebo overlooking the solar array. “We meet once a month on the hill for a morning sunrise service followed by a large breakfast. Sun worship is one of Mankind’s oldest religions, and I believe in the coming months you will see many more of our little communities popping up thanks to my photovoltaic paint.”

Agent Harrison’s neck began to redden, and the veins on his forehead began to stand out. He looked over the crowd and raised his voice. “I will accept your invitation.” Agent Harrison began to walk toward his SUV, and he continued to speak as he walked. “I would hate to discover that any of you had lied about your religious affiliations.”

Just as Agent Harrison was about to close his door, Alex shouted out, “Oh, Agent Harrison!”

One side of Agent Harrison’s mouth drew closer to his ear while he held the door open and waited to see what Alex had to say. After a short pause, he said irritably, “What?”

Alex smiled kindly while he held hands with Kira and put his arm around Sara. “How do you like your eggs?”

Agent Harrison slammed the door shut and backed out of the driveway. Sheriff Johnson and Officer Jordan walked to their cars. Sheriff Johnson opened the door on his patrol car and rested his right arm on the top. “Well Alex, when is the next sunrise service?”

“The first Sunday of the month. How do you like your eggs?”

The sheriff smiled and tipped his hat. “Sunny side up, of course.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Eddie D. Moore
Eddie D. Moore travels extensively for work, and he spends much of that time listening to audio books. The rest of the time is spent dreaming of stories to write and he spends the weekends writing them. His stories have been published by Jouth Webzine, The Flash Fiction Press, Every Day Fiction, Theme of Absence, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Adventure Worlds. Find more on his blog: https://eddiedmoore.wordpress.com/.

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The Ending

The Ending

by Jean Blasiar

“I didn’t think it would end this way.” She was close to ninety, still with beautiful features such as snow white hair framing her lovely face, deep blue eyes.

“I know,” he admitted. “But I thought of something.” He was late eighties, but mentally alert, still handsome, bald as a billiard ball which the barber in the facility shaved for him every other week.  She called him Daddy after Daddy Warbucks. He called her his Princess. “I heard about this woman who lived on a cruise ship,” he was saying, “going from one ship to the other, following the sun.” He picked up her hand off her lap. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Princess. You’re always cold.”

“It’s a lovely dream, Daddy.”

“Not a dream. We can do it. We each have some savings, social security.”

“It’s lovely to talk about and dream about,” she said, patting his hand with her other free hand.  Lovely.”

“We’ll do it.  We’ll tell ‘em we’re married.”

She laughed softly. “You scoundrel!”

“I’d marry you tomorrow, Princess. Right now if you’d say ‘yes’, but…”

“I know, dear. It’s complicated, wills and trusts and heirs and children—grandchildren, great grandchildren. My word. We couldn’t do it to them, daddy. Our savings would go to the lawyers sorting it all out.”

“We don’t need to be married to travel together. Who’s going to stop us?”

“You want me to go through the list again? Children and grandchildren…”

“We’ll elope.”

Another soft, giddy laugh. She loved it when he schemed. “Daddy.”

“Shuffleboard, Princess. A pool on the top deck. Suntanned bodies. Bathing beauties.”

“Oh, go on with you.”

“All we can eat or drink. Ice cream any time, day or night. Cigars in a smoking lounge.

“Daddy!”

“What? I should worry about cancer?” His turn to laugh.

“Tell me more,” Princess said, picturing their lovely cruise through time.

“A martini bar. Glenn Miller’s ‘It Had To Be You’. All the men on the floor jealous of me.”

“Go on!”

“I have the prettiest girl on the ship in my arms and we’re dancing till the sun comes up.”

He looks down at his Princess in the wheelchair. “You’re glowing, Princess,” he says.

“Yes,” she admits. “I’m glowing.”

“What shall I tell the D.J. to play next?”

She smiles, kisses his hand. “’At Last’,” she says.

◊ ◊ ◊

Jean Blasiar
Jean Blasiar is a published author with 12 books for middle grades, playwright (one of her plays was optioned by 20th Century Fox for a pilot), and theatrical producer.  Please visit her website, www.jeanblasiar.com, for a complete listing of her books, plays and productions.

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The Activist

The Activist

by Ed Nichols

She had sad eyes. That’s what I remember when I think of her. I don’t know why, because otherwise, she was very pretty. She was tall, with short red hair. I remember everything else about her, too—even how her fingers looked. She always dressed very nice. Always laughed a lot, at times she would narrow her eyelids and then her eyes didn’t look so sad. I told her once they looked devious when she half closed them. She laughed it off. Sometimes when she laughed, she would throw her head back and look toward the sky, or the ceiling if we were inside. I also remember how she looked in her two piece bathing suit—especially her long legs. They were perfectly proportioned and when guys would walk by us on the beach she would draw their stares. I would cut my eyes to them behind my sunglasses to see how they reacted. She was something. I loved her.

We lived together my senior year at the university in a little apartment off Milledge Avenue. I was majoring in journalism, and she was studying art, abstract painting, and she took some sculpturing classes. I would kid her, saying things like, “Your art is just an escape from reality—it doesn’t make sense.” And she’d come back with, “You’ve got to look at the form, the lines, the color! You’ve got to open your mind, Charlie.” We’d kid awhile, and then we’d go to the bedroom and make love. I believe talking about her art sometimes brought her sexual desires to a heightened state. I never mentioned that to her, but it seemed like it to me. We talked about marriage, occasionally. Maybe we would after I graduated and got a job. She was a year behind me. I remember thinking that I would like to have children with her, and I visualized how our life together might come about.

That year was the height of the Vietnam War—1968. I had had to take a physical for the draft and was classified 4-F because my left knee was weak from playing high school football, and I had to have fluid drained out of it every couple of months. It didn’t particularly bother me, but I remember having a secret desire to be drafted. I figured I might be able to go to Vietnam as a journalist. I made some inquires, sent my resume to news bureaus, and some large newspapers. But I didn’t get any interviews or even a phone call. The idea, and desire, faded slowly.

I had a light schedule my last quarter, and I spent many afternoons at Allen’s Bar and Grill on Prince Avenue. At a corner table, with five or six of my journalism buddies. We would drink beer and talk about stuff like: who will win the Pulitzer first. But as it got closer to graduation, the talk revolved around who would get a job first! She would join us a couple of days each week when her class let out early. I think this is when the split began in our relationship. All of us in Allen’s were pro-army, or hawks, as they used to say. She was not. She was opposed to the war, and that spring she started meeting with a group of students who were protesting, very strongly, on campus and even renting buses and traveling to Atlanta to join with even more students and march with their anti-war signs. I told her she was becoming obsessed with Vietnam. She said I was wrong—the war was a huge mistake, and America needed to hear it from college students especially, because that was the age of most of the soldiers being killed over there. One afternoon at Allen’s I got a little upset, and told her—in front of my friends—the war was all JFK’s fault. That really ticked her off. She abruptly got up and left the bar. That night we sort of made up, but I know that day began the end of our time together.

Two weeks later, I came to the apartment late one rainy night from Allen’s, and she was gone. There was a note. She said she was leaving on a bus for Memphis. She was going to join a group protesting Martin Luther King’s assassination. And after that she had plans to join Robert Kennedy’s campaign for president. I never saw her again. I heard, from her mother, that she stayed in California after Robert Kennedy was assassinated. I suppose the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement and the assassinations all flowed together in her activist mind. I wondered if she became a full-blown hippie—like we used to see on TV—hanging out in San Francisco, or living in a commune.

* * *

It’s been a long time now. Sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk trying to find the right words and commit them to paper, I will turn and stare out my window to the trees at the edge of my pasture. When I do this—it happens often, and hinders my writing schedule—I will see her walking in the woods and I will stare at this image, or vision, until I can see her up close. Then I can see very clearly her sad eyes. I wonder if she ever thinks of me. If she ever wonders, what could have been?

◊ ◊ ◊

Ed Nichols
Ed Nichols lives outside Clarkesville, Georgia. He is a journalism graduate from the University of Georgia, and is an award-winning writer from Southeastern Writer’s Association. He has had many short stories published, online and in print.

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Return to Sender

Return to Sender

by Marc Shapiro

He was married. He had a kid. He was a writer.

Which was why he always made a point of getting to the mailbox first.

Anything that even hinted of money immediately went to the top of the pile, to be opened first and proudly presented to his wife. Bills and assorted shut off notices were buried deep, only to emerge when his seemingly endless string of crap jobs could justify at least a partial payment to keep the home fires burning.

Finally, there were those neither fish nor fowl missives which almost always spelled trouble. Today was shaping up to be trouble. A scribbled, barely legible scrawl of a return address on a plain white envelope. The address in simple block print. Not Mr. and Mrs. Just Mr. This one would be read in private.

It was a letter from somebody who had read a couple of his poems in Road Kill Magazine. Surely you remembered Road Kill. Every town had a Road Kill. A freebee literary mag that boasted it would take over the world and usually folded around issue two. As it turned out this woman/girl/fan/stalker/, the mind boggled at the possibilities, had read his stuff in Road Kill, loved it and was forward and to the point.

She jogged his memory when she reminded him that they had dated a few times in college. He remembered college, that free ride to fame and fortune that, ultimately didn’t carry as much weight as the person he had slept with or the connections his parents had. But, he sighed, that was another story.

He continued to read. She grilled him as to whether or not he was in a relationship and did he want to get together. His mental spine stiffened. Out of nowhere, he had a not so secret admirer who was offering herself up to him like a groupie blue plate special. He read the letter a second and third time, wracking his brain trying to remember what she looked like back in the day as his truly dark self contemplated what she might look like today.

Instinctively, he crumpled up the letter and put it in a far out of the way place.

He and his better half had had a rough week. It was all about and always about the money. He was feeling insignificant and little kid like and what it would be like to run away with the circus. It was a dangerous combination. For five minutes, he thought about the possibilities.

She was probably a psycho. It would be hot and juicy for a nano second and then she would become a tell all monster who would destroy his world.

Then he thought about the woman who had been with him a long time. The one who had supported them when he could not. The one who encouraged him when nobody else would. The one who was a wonderful mother to his child when he was not always the most attentive father.

He grabbed the letter, tore it into endless little pieces and walked it out to the driveway trash bin where he buried it deep. This would be the stuff of fantasy for decades to come.

But at this point in his life, reality was about all he could handle.

◊ ◊ ◊

Marc Shapiro
Coming this fall from Riverdale Avenue Books, a most unusual literary experiment…Hey Joe: The Unauthorized Biography Of The Song.

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The Dolphin That Fell from the Tree

The Dolphin That Fell from the Tree

by CJ Alexander

During the storm, a gale force wind bent the heavy rain, sluicing through foliage and mussing the yard. When it subsided, I ventured outside to check for damage. The precariously arched old butternut tree, which I’m sure will topple one day from another onslaught, had dropped several of its worm-ridden branches. I picked one up, and turned it this way and that.
When it spoke out loud, I jumped.

“Help!” it said.

“Help what? You’re a weak, diseased branch, and your tree has thrown you down. Who gives a hoot about a woe-begotten piece of future kindling? Besides, branches don’t talk.” Yet there I stood, talking to it.

“I’m trapped. I need you to rescue me!” This time I didn’t reply. It was a piece of storm debris. Tree junk. I tossed it onto the lawn, finished my yard inspection and went inside.

It’s not every day that I question my sanity, but the branch bellowing in the back yard made me unsure. After an hour of histrionics it got quiet outside. What had it gotten up to? This was the moment that I realized I had begun my descent into madness.

Under the pretense of harvesting zucchini, I moseyed over to where I had tossed the branch. It lay in the wet grass, panting.

“Help me…” It had cried itself out and I could barely hear its plea. I picked up the soggy rotting thing and petted it.

“Fine,” I said. “If you can tell me who or what you are, I will do my best.”

“I’m a dolphin,” it said, with some asperity. “Can’t you tell?”

“Get real! Dolphins are sea creatures. Do you see any sea around here? Stop lying or I will hack you to pieces with this sharp garden dagger I got for my birthday.” I unsheathed the knife and slashed the air a few times, ninja style.

“You don’t fool me, CJ,” the branch retorted. “Pick me up! My airways are plugged with grass clippings! Don’t you ever rake after mowing? Never mind, I know you don’t.”

Cowed, I nudged the branch over with my toe. It sneezed.

“Ah, that’s much better!”

The branch did look a lot more content. I scooped it up and carried it to the bench outside my back door.

“Not another word out of you tonight,” I warned, “because the neighbors will complain.”

“I promise I’ll be quiet,” it whispered.

The next morning, I stepped outside with my coffee. The branch lay inert like an inanimate thing is supposed to do, on the bench where I’d left it. Just then the sun’s rays edged over the trees and struck the branch broadside. Was that a…snout? Were those…flippers? And an eye?

The branch winked and said, “Thank you for saving me, CJ.”

I began carving it from the wood, right after breakfast.
CJ Alexander

CJ Alexander is the editor and blog host of the Whitesboro Writers Group in Central New York and an active member of Silver Pen Writers.  She encourages others to hone their creative prose skills and is the founder of a monthly fiction writing group called Plotters Ink. Occasionally she publishes anthologies of short fiction and poetry written by local, national and even international authors. What a wonderful retirement hobby!

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My Sin

My Sin

by Ovuoba David

As I stretched my hand to get the withdrawal slip from a transparent glass box in the banking hall, someone touched me from behind. I turned and beheld a shabby and bony woman, average in height, dark in complexion with a hungry looking baby sleeping on her rocky back by the grace of the air-conditioned banking hall which was as cool as coolness itself.

“Ee,” I murmured, brow furrowed, and cautiously observed her. What brought this one to the bank, I thought.

“Sorry to disturb you my son; I need you to help me,” said the woman in a strangled Pidgin English. She smiled too, but her smile was grotesquely odd.

“What is it,” I replied softly in Igbo and tried smiling back to shake off hostility.

“It’s my son at Enugu; I want to send him some money,” she said appealingly with an unfilled deposit teller, a paper containing the account name and number, and a pencil. My unhealthy imagination was cooking up some mischievous ideas—ideas which I wouldn’t follow if the world were a perfect place. But here in Nigeria, opportunity doesn’t show up always. I knew it could be sinful, but I had to eat. After all, we aren’t in heaven yet—we live in an imperfect world where the big fish swallows the small fish—and that day I played the big fish. Also, I had to take this chance because Jennifer, my babe, missed her period after the last fun we had in my room on my iron bed which has springs that keeps creaking, of which there was no need to use condom since we love each other dearly. Man must survive.

I dropped my withdrawal slip, took the deposit slip from her, and picked the Diamond Biro on the table. I scribbled my name, “Noah Chima” and my account numbers on the respective spaces provided for it and completed other details, filling a wrong phone number on the space for depositor’s phone number.

“How much is the money?” I asked.

She opened a black leather bag for me. I marvelled. It was a heap of five hundred naira notes. I carefully counted it; it was hundred pieces. I legibly wrote fifty-thousand naira in words and in figures, hurriedly joined the queue and paid in the money. I gave her the customer’s copy of the deposit slip and she warmly thanked me.

I came out of the bank elated, but something inside me rebuked me fearlessly. I suspected what Chidi and our pastor called conscience. I didn’t believe it existed because I have never noticed or felt its presence or pangs as Chidi claimed.

I’m nineteen-years and the only child of my parent. When I was sixteen, my parents who never stopped regretting—right before my very face—why they got married in the first place, fought and set our flat and the entire building ablaze. When our landlord sued, they pleaded guilty and went to jail. I managed to break father’s safe which though burnt, was not destroyed. I used the thirty-six thousand naira therein to rent a face-me-I-face-you one room which only had a mattress. I wandered the street of Abakaliki and wallowed in sins one of which was stealing that poor woman’s money—money which was probably meant for a worthy but indigent young student at Enugu city.

Chidi, my neighbor and friend, said I have a dead conscience because I do many bad things, including sleeping with Jennifer and running errands for prostitutes who reside at Hausa quarters without feeling guilt. I thought Chidi righteous. That day, I couldn’t say whether I felt guilty or not. But depression overtook me. I couldn’t puff up for playing smart. I had committed sin. My stomach had made some hungry noise, but I didn’t feel like eating anything. I’d to let the money be for sometimes. I’d to face the still, small but reproaching voice which accused me: Noah, you have sinned.

◊ ◊ ◊

Ovuoba David
Ovuoba David lives in Abakaliki, Nigeria. He was born in 1994. His short story was long-listed for the Awele Creative Prize for short story, 2014. His short stories and poems have appeared in few literary journals. He currently reads law at Ebonyi state University.

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