A Perfect Match

A Perfect Match

by Sandra Arnold

Until the day Briony came home from school and found her father dead in the kitchen she hadn’t paid much attention to detail. Her first reaction was to pick up a dishcloth and wash the benches. As weeping visitors streamed through the house she made them cups of tea, washed up and rearranged the cups, pointing all the handles in the same direction. While the visitors commented on her self-possession, Briony was busy colour-coding everything in her wardrobe and arranging pens on her desk according to size and shape.

Her attention to detail earned her a scholarship. At university, she dumped boyfriend after boyfriend because of their flaws. One was always late, another left coffee rings on the table in her flat and swigged milk from the bottle. The last one had no obvious flaws until he asked Briony to check his essays. She tried to overlook the dangling modifiers, but the misplaced apostrophes brought on a migraine. She gave up trying to find her perfect match.

Her striving to produce faultless assignments meant they took so long to complete that each missed deadline compounded her sense of failure. She dropped out of university and found a job cleaning the house of a retired Eng Lit professor. A widower. There, her attention to detail produced tangible results. The prof told her his bathroom had never gleamed so brightly, his floors had never sparkled with such brilliance. He asked her to move in.

While Briony thought it over she looked out of an upstairs window to see how he mowed the lawns. She saw him stop after each strip to check they were perfectly parallel. Her heart soared. As he finished the last strip he failed to notice it had a slight kink in it. Her heart sank. She weighed up the pros and cons. She wondered if it was time to move in or move on.

◊ ◊ ◊

Sandra Arnold
Sandra Arnold lives in New Zealand. She is the author of three books. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in many online and print journals.


Read More

Notice Me

Notice Me

by Christopher L. Malone

“Notice me,” she cries, and we all look at her, over and over and over again.

The video plays on a twenty second loop. The window flies open; she presses her palms against the sill, thrusts her chest outward to grab a lung full of air, and screams her proclamation with eyes shut tight. When they open, she looks wildly at the camera, pitches forward, and her entire body seems to pour itself out of the house. Her fall is noiseless, save for the impact, and when she hits, a muffled voice says shit, and the camera rushes forward. The picture jostles heavily before arriving at the body, face down and moaning. The video cuts off, and the loop restarts, and she dies again.


Someone posted the video on Facebook and it got a few hits. Then someone retitled it “Sum dum bitch looking for attention” and the clip started generating more hits. By the time the star of the video faded away in a hospital room, never bothering to surface from her coma, it had more than 10,000 views, with over 2,000 shares.

Once she died, the news picked it up; a local story became a national story, and a young girl’s death transformed into a commentary on millennials:

Accident or Suicide? “Selfie-Culture”, A Young Girl’s Death, and America’s Obsession with Fame

Everyone read the headline. Everyone watched the video.

“It had to be staged,” Chuck said. “How else was the camera filming at that exact moment?”

“No one’s saying it wasn’t,” I replied, still looking at the screen and tapping its center occasionally. I was searching for the perfect moment to hit pause.

Alisha set her phone down, disgusted with herself.

“Poor girl,” she said. “I just cannot even imagine what her family must be going through.”

“What family?” I mumbled. Peering up from my phone, I saw Alisha’s fierce gaze directed toward me.

“You don’t think that little girl’s got some family that’s torn up over this?” she asked.

I studied her expression; her lips pressed tightly together, and one eyebrow arched upward, daring me to continue down this path. I was non-plussed.

“The video’s still up, isn’t it?” I asked.

“So what?” she replied.

“If it was me,” I said, “I’d tear down the whole internet before I let another person make fun of my baby girl, watching her fall out a window like that.”

“You got that right,” Chuck said, putting his own phone down next to his cup of coffee. “These folks is handing out interviews instead, trying to get on TV so they can talk about how much they love their daughter and how special she was, and how we need to come together as a nation and stop this suicide shit.”

Alisha turned on her husband. “I cannot even believe you right now.”

“What?” he asked. “They get paid to be on them shows, don’t they?”

“Why’s everything got to be a hustle with you?” she snapped, and I spoke up.

“I don’t know,” I told her, still tapping my phone, trying to hit the right moment in the video. “Can’t be on Dr. Phil and not get paid.”

“You two are disgusting,” Alisha said, folding her arms over her chest and turning her head away, as if to prove the point. Then, on a second thought, she turned her head back toward me and asked, “How many times are you going to watch that before you’ve seen enough?”

“Relax,” I told her. “I’m looking for something.”

“Looking for what?” Chuck asked.

My finger punched the screen, finally at the perfect moment, and I turned my phone toward them.

“That right there,” I said, showing them the screen. “That right there is why I’m telling you that little girl got no family to speak of.”

They saw it; her expression was absolutely clear, wide eyed, staring directly into the frame, like that was the moment where she was going to turn some silly video of her screaming “Notice me” into a suicide note. Paused at the perfect point, her eyes were piercing, but her face was slack with resignation, mouth agape, letting out all of the air in her chest, as if she were deflating. Her forearms strained against the window sill, like she was bearing more than just the weight of her body, and you could just make out the thin blue veins of her slender wrists. Touch play, and she’d lean forward, falling to her death. Her look said everything.

Chuck shook his head in sadness, and Alisha spoke, morose. “Come on,” she said, “Coffee break is up. Let’s get back to work.” My friends pocketed their phones inside their heavy coats and drained their coffees. I started to put mine away, then thought better of it, and left it on the table, next to the waiter’s tip.

We walked out, greeted by a bitter cold wind and grey, angry skies. Soon, snow would start falling. Alisha and Chuck started back to the office, but I walked to my car, instead. When I started to get in, they looked back, confused.

“Job’s this way,” Chuck said, but Alisha saw something in my expression and knew something was up.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“Tell them I’m taking a sick day,” I told her, shrugging.

“For what?” Chuck asked.

“Watching that girl die,” I said, “didn’t feel right. I could at least attend the funeral.”

If there were objections, I didn’t hear them. All I could think about was what the girl had asked for, and how the right thing to do was to notice her, at least in person. I got in, started the car, and drove east, where the clouds got progressively darker. If I drove fast enough, I could make it to her hometown by nightfall.

◊ ◊ ◊

Christopher L. Malone
Christopher L. Malone is a writer and Maryland-native who enjoys playing music and hanging out with his wife and son in his spare time. His work has been previously featured in The Dark City Crime and Mystery Magazine, The Literary Hatchet, and online at Cicatrix Publishing. He is currently working on his first novel.

Read More

Nadroj, Binder of Nations

Nadroj, Binder of Nations

by James E. Guin

There is nothing to her. She’s neither pretty nor ugly.

“Your father has five minutes,” I say holding up five grotesquely swollen, useless fingers.

“My father cannot heal you,” Nadroj says.

The wind blows her sandy-brown hair across her face. Nadroj, the pronunciation of her name sounds as mediocre as her lack of beauty. Nadroj, Binder of Nations, the kingdom of Isra call her. The Isra God is either a fraud or unimaginably powerful for placing such hope in such a homely, skinny girl.

“Cannot heal?” I say and move toward her in a calculated rage but stumble on a pebble.

My vision casts down to my swollen feet. Out of the corner of my eyes, I see my tribesmen glare at me, their weak chief. Had I not killed Jamis last year in the Trial of Chiefs, Sucsam, and Madas would have killed me as soon as the disease infected my right hand. I hear their whispers and see their gloating.

Regaining my balance, my composure, and controlling my frustration, I say, “Your father, the Great Elisa cured the entire Kingdom of Isra. For seven hundred years, Sria and Isra have been enemies, but he will cure me or you will die.”

The wretch’s body doesn’t portray a hint of dread. What kind of a poor excuse for a chief have I become that I cannot scare a little girl? As she raises her head, the wind blows her hair away from her face. If it weren’t for her Isra god I would send her to be with my concubine. Her green eyes compensate for her plain features.

“The doctor approaches! Alone!” Dadben shouts.

Yes, I have to concentrate to see the lone rider. The mid-day sun and this fever blur my vision.

“If anyone is with you, I will kill your daughter,” was the message I sent to Elisa, and Naam, my loyal tribesman, died delivering that message. Does Elisa have a cure with him or will he play another Isra trick?

“Your father, no?” I ask, wanting to say more, but the heat and the pain..

“Papa!” she cries and teardrops flow from her beautiful green eyes like rain in the bamboo forest between Sria and Isra .

“Weep child. All the tribes of Sria have suffered more than you can imagine, because of your Isra deceit,” I say.

“They forced him,” she lies.

If I weren’t so weak, I would strike her down with the back of my hand. But she hasn’t shown signs of fear since we kidnapped her. She makes me look even more like a weakling in front of my tribesmen.

“Papa,” she squeals, but Sucsam and Madas grab her tighter as her father’s pony trots into our perimeter. As clumsy as the ass he rides, the Great Elisa jumps off of his pony and stumbles to the ground. What a thin, pathetic man. A weak god chooses weak servants. No bags, no packs, no Isra tree leaves, no Isra tree limbs, does he think me a fool?

“Where is the medic—?” every time I speak my throat constricts and dries.

I will be dead within the week.

He reaches in his white jacket. One sword across his throat, another on his chest, and another pointed in his back. Hadad’s arrows are ready to fly, my tribesmen tense. The gods of war protect us.

Elisa stretches out his pale hand and presents a yellow capsule. His eyes bounce back and forth from me to the capsule. That is not the medicine I need. One doesn’t rise to chief among the Aramen, the greatest tribe in all Sria, without the skills to read a man.

My hands are too swollen to hold the capsule. “Dadben, let me see it!” I say, with renewed frustration at Elisa’s Isra deceit.

Dadben, my most trusted, snatches the capsule from Elisa’s dirty palm and holds it close to my eyes, and says, “It’s poison, Chief?”

Sometimes, his fervent loyalty makes him illogical. He cannot calculate that Elisa has come of his own accord.

I know through my grotesque features, Elisa perceives my wisdom. The Isra we captured told us that the medicine is a natural origin not a capsule, but no matter our interrogation techniques, they would not tell us the exact source.

Dadben shouts “Let’s kill him!” the way I taught him, instilling fear in the captive and anticipating the aggression in our tribesman. Premature, but he is learning.

“No,” my voice is a coarse whisper. “He must see his daughter die first. Bring her closer.”

Brave child. She doesn’t struggle.

Elisa looks at her and with pale, pitiful eyes, and says, “You must..”

“Our Lord,” she interrupts.

“He has forsaken us,” he says.

“He is always with us,” she says.

By the wrath of Armmir, The head God of all the tribesmen of Sria, their senseless babble grows on my patience. Their lord chooses the weakest followers.

I can’t hold a sword. “Dadben,” he must prove to Sucsam and Madas that he is a ruthlessness leader in case this disease takes me.

Dadben swings his sword above his head ready to slice her in half, but she doesn’t fear. I don’t have time to play games with this weak Isra doctor and his stubborn daughter, but I need healing, or I will lose my power. See if your Isra lord will save you now.

“Wait, Dadben. The sword is too swift. She will suffer like me. Bring her to me.” These were simple commands I used to order to prove my authority over my tribesmen, but now I am too weak for these minimal tasks.

The disease does not affect everyone the same. Either way, I will rub my filthy, swollen hands all over her. Like his little daughter, Elisa cries and mumbles some mantra to his Isra lord.

I move her dirty, Isra sand-colored hair from her face and touch her cheek. Brave, this child, the sword nor the disease scare her. Nadroj’s mother must have been a woman worthy of a chief. I can almost feel her smooth skin. My memories of the women’s hair I’ve touched in our conquests deceives me. Her hair feels soft against my unworthy skin. Her green eyes burst into red flames, and her soft hand reaches up to my grotesque face.

I hear Dadben, Sucsam, and Madas, and the others shouting, but her touch relieves my pain. With dexterity, I make our tribe’s hand motion for them to stand down.

The boils under my eyes shrink so that I witness my fingers transform from rot brown to the darker complexion of the tribes of Sria. I feel Nadroj’s palm on my cheeks. My skin feels tight, and my bones feel new like a young tribesman training for the Trial of Chiefs.

“Hadad! Your shield!” I shout.

The arrogant archer never carries his shield into battle.

As I look at my reflection in Hadad’s shield, Suscam, and Madas stare in disbelief. Drained, Nadroj has fallen on the ground.

“How is this?” I ask.

“After King Learsi commanded me to mix the Aramen Disease, one of your tribes attacked our kingdom forcing the king to prematurely, and against my counsel, release the disease. Many of our people also contacted the disease, but The God of Isra was displeased with our king and he blessed Nadroj with the Gift of Healing, fulfilling the prophesy, Binder of Nations,” Elisa says.

Healed by the Lord of Isra.

For the first time in months, I take my sword from its sheath and walk over to Nadroj, who remains kneeling on ground. The Lord of Isra has used this homely girl to heal me.

I hold the sword that I have won so many times in the Trial of Chiefs, lift it above my head, kneel, gaze into her green eyes, and toss the Sword of Chiefs on the ground in front her.

“For seven hundred years we have inflicted pain upon each other. I, Aram, the chief of the greatest tribe in Sria, give you my sword to use as you will, Nadroj, Binder of Nations.”

◊ ◊ ◊

James E. Guin
James E. Guin’s fiction has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Daily Science Fiction, Perihelion Online Science Fiction Magazine, T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog, and The Story Shack. He received an Honorable Mention in the 2nd Quarter of the 2014 L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and second place in Jenny Magazine Speculative Fiction Contest 008. For more information about James E. Guin please visit  jameseguin.wordpress.com

Read More

Commuting in Warsaw

Commuting in Warsaw

by Michael Bloor

Jenny Birkett was sitting in the bar with five fellow psychiatrists at an academic conference. A quiet middle-aged woman with quiet clothes and a gentle manner, it wasn’t unusual for her to take little part in professional chitchat. The discussion was about some remarks that the opening conference speaker had made in his plenary address. He had referred to a famous paper that the great Swiss psychotherapist, Carl Jung, delivered to the annual meeting of the British Medical Association in the summer of 1914, “The Importance of the Unconscious in Psychopathology”. At the time, Jung secretly feared that he himself was suffering from schizophrenia. Two days after he delivered his paper, the First World War broke out. In the middle of that collective European madness, Jung’s recovery was slow and painful: he later interpreted his initial disturbance as a precognition of the European slaughter.

The conference speaker had suggested that personal experience of mental illness could be valuable to psychiatrists in caring for their patients. The suggestion had sharply divided the group in the bar. Old Danny McCafferty, who knew Jenny better than most, noticed not just her quietness, but a clouded, troubled expression. Hesitantly, he asked her if she had an opinion. Jenny spoke so gently that they had to strain to hear her above the hubbub of the bar: “I don’t say that personal experience of psychiatric illness is going to be helpful to us in diagnosis or treatment. But there was an occasion when I felt sure that I was going mad and I’ll never forget the sheer anguish that I felt then. It’s got to be valuable for us to understand—to know from our own experience—the awfulness that our patients are living through. I hope it’s helped me to bring more compassion to my patients.”

There was a pause. Jenny reached for, and swigged, her dry white wine. She ran her finger over the wet ring her glass had left on the table. “I suppose, after a declaration like that, I owe it to you all to tell you what happened…

“Nearly twenty years ago, I went to Poland on an EU exchange scheme. I learnt the language at my mother’s knee: she had fled Poland during the war. I spent six months in an academic psychiatric department in Warsaw and a Polish colleague, Darek, came to my unit in Edinburgh. I had his flat in Warsaw and he stayed in my cottage in Roslyn. You probably know that the ancient centre of Warsaw was painstakingly recreated after the destruction of the war. But most of the city’s population don’t stay in the chocolate-box city centre: they live in the countless high-rise flats in the suburbs. Like everyone else, I used to travel in and out to work on the bus, down long, long avenues of these post-war workers’ flats. A dreary journey.

“One autumn evening of murk and rain, I was absorbed in an article I was reading and almost missed my stop. I scurried into the downstairs lobby of the flats and into the battered lift. Darek’s flat was on the eighth floor. There was no light on the landing and it was always a titanic struggle to locate and operate Darek’s battered door-lock. So it was a relief when, finally, the lock yielded. But once inside the flat, it always used to feel homely. The living room used to be lined with books in Polish and English—literature and philosophy, as well as medicine. Darek was evidently a polymath whose learning put me to shame.

“But that night, when I switched on the light, I got a stupefying shock. The books and the book shelves were gone. So were the warm Afghan rugs and the rich red curtains.

“I dropped my briefcase and almost collapsed myself. I sat down abruptly on a battered dining room chair (never previously seen) and, not daring to lift my eyes, stared at the unfamiliar scuffed lino at my feet. The lino was patterned with entwined pink roses on a green background: the thorns on the roses seemed unnaturally large. I struggled against the panic, tried to control my rasping breathing, and sought desperately for some rational explanation of the changes. Sought and failed: how could somebody (a relative of Dareks? a housing official?? the security police???) have entered the flat and, in a few short hours, completely refurnished it with this old tatt—this scuffed lino? In truth, I knew that nothing could explain the transformation of the flat. There had to be something wrong with my perception: I, a psychiatrist, was delusional. My eyes filled with tears; I have never known such pain.

“I thought back to patients I had known, trying and failing to recall similar cases. And then I was mistrusting my recall, as I had already mistrusted my perceptions. Inexpressible wretchedness. My breathing was now quite out of control, my heart was banging like a gong. I felt faint and I got up to open the living room window, to breathe some cold air. As I stood at the window, struggling with the catch, I glanced out to the evening street below…

“It was a different street.

“And then, in a flash, I knew. This was a different street: it wasn’t Darek’s street and this was not Darek’s flat. Unknowingly, I had got off the bus at the wrong stop. Unknowingly, I had run through the rain into the wrong block of flats. Unknowingly, I had contrived with Darek’s key to open the shoddy lock to the wrong flat.

“Such relief. But my understanding of my patients was changed utterly.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Michael Bloor
Michael Bloor is a retired sociologist living in Dunblane, Scotland. A published poet and essayist, he has recently discovered the exhilarations of short fiction, with pieces published or forthcoming in The Flash Fiction Press, Breve New Stories, Ink Sweat & Tears, Fictive Dream, Platform for Prose, Flash Fiction Magazine and Scribble.

Read More

Forever is Today

Forever is Today

by Angela L. Lindseth

He sits upon the hill, waiting for his love, wondering what became of her, why she doesn’t show. He searches the horizon for her fair form as nimbus clouds collide and threaten to douse his dreams and leave her forgotten.

She left him long ago when March hinted at spring and time was just a memory. Promises had been made, kisses exchanged. She said she would meet him on a starry night when all hope had scattered to the moon. He told her he would wait forever, until the end of days, and each evening finds him waiting, wanting, while her memory plays against his eyelids.

The time passes. Like the wind, it caresses his skin, melancholy touches dancing across his heart. The nights add, one upon the other, forming weeks, then months and years, but still he waits. Blurred and foggy, her image teases him, wanting to be remembered. The lines of her face blend and must be remembered from an old photograph he keeps in his pocket. His dreams of her fade like the sunset that he watches.

Every tear he sheds burns, a searing blade leaving hot trails of pain, ornaments of his loss. Her laugh he can’t recall. Too many days erased her notes and left him void of sound. The taste of her kiss has gone bland without a hint of passion, but still his heart is hers.

Another night he marches up the hill, trudging toward a spark of hope that this night will be the night he sees her again. He waits because forever has no meaning, that time doesn’t matter, that his heart will hold no other.

He stares into the stars and breathes a final breath. Forever has an ending. Forever is today.

◊ ◊ ◊

Angela L. Lindseth
Thirty years ago Angela played with the idea of a book while looking out from an abandoned fire tower in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Since that time, she has stumbled her way through life. She obtained her Geological Engineering degree but ditched that for an electrician’s license. She’s worked a variety of jobs but never found the one that fit. Finding her calling has opened her imagination and a multitude of words have poured onto the page. Her flash fiction ranges from dark and twisted, to sad and sappy. For more of her work visit her website and Facebook author page. www.AngelaLLindseth.com www.facebook.com/AngelaLLindseth

Read More

Petting Zoo

Petting Zoo

by Robert Walton

“Cindy, drop the zucchini and run!”

“Dad, this bird doesn’t even want the zucchini. It just wants a pat.”

“Don’t touch it, dear. It’s wild.”

“But, Mom!”

“Cindy, it might have pathogens!”



The bird extended its meter-long neck and rested its melon-sized head in Cindy’s cupped hands. Large, golden eyes stared up into hers. Her hand stroked silky feathers—orange, scarlet, yellow and black.

“Its fur is so soft!”

Eleanor sniffed, “It’s down, dear, not fur.”

“It feels like fur.”

Herb shrugged. “If it quacks like a duck . . . “

“Daddy! It’s too big to be a duck!”

“Cindy, that’s enough! It might be poisonous.”

“Nonsense, my dear.” Herb gestured toward the green savannah sloping gently to a surf-kissed beach beneath a golden sun and its sapphire companion. “This habitat is for kids to walk through. They wouldn’t put anything poisonous in here, or dangerous, for that matter.”

Eleanor retreated slightly. “But it’s so big.”

“Yeah, like—what’s that ancient vid character for kids? Dumb Bird? Fat Bird?”

“Big Bird, daddy.”

“Yeah, Big Bird! It’s like Big Bird.”

The bird again turned its lambent eyes upon Cindy as she stroked its velvety head. Suddenly it reared.

“Watch out!” Eleanor leapt to her daughter’s aid.

“Stop, Mom! It didn’t hurt me.”

The bird paced away from Cindy, turned and looked back at her. Cindy and her parents stood still and watched. The bird paced back to Cindy, nuzzled her shoulder with its orange beak and again paced away.

“It wants us to follow.” Cindy walked toward the bird.

“This is not wise.”

“Eleanor, relax. Nothing can hurt us out here. It’s flat grassland. Let’s see what it wants.”

The bird, with Cindy following, was already twenty meters away. Eleanor and Herb trotted to catch up.

The bird walked another fifty meters and stopped. Cindy stopped beside it, looked down, clasped her hands and squealed with delight. Eleanor and Herb joined her.

“They’re so pretty!”

Two aquamarine eggs as round and wide as dinner plates lay in a grass nest at their feet. The bird leaned down and stroked each egg in turn. Then she rose and stroked Cindy’s shoulder.

Cindy looked at her in puzzlement.

Again the bird stroked both eggs, stroked Cindy’s shoulder and looked at her expectantly.

Cindy knelt and stroked both eggs. The big bird looked at her fondly.

“She’s giving her eggs to me!”

“I think it’s time to go.”

Herb nodded. “I think I agree.”

The bird turned and walked solemnly toward the sea. She didn’t look back.

Cindy rose. “She gave me her eggs. I’ve got to take care of them.”

“That’s ridiculous, honey. We can’t walk out of here with eggs from an exhibit. These are endangered animals.

“I don’t care what the rules are. I’m the mother of these eggs now. I know it!”

Eleanor gripped Cindy’s right hand and pulled. “You come with me this instant!”

Cindy squealed. A sudden cracking noise turned all of their eyes toward the eggs.

Holes had appeared in their bottoms and thrusting from the holes were legs ending in three-clawed feet.

“Eggs with legs!” Herb exclaimed.

The eggs rose on their clawed feet and staggered to Cindy’s side. One rubbed her right knee and the other her left. “See? They want to come with me.”

Suddenly there was a great crack followed by a deep groan. All three humans and both eggs tumbled to the grass. The ground beneath them rolled like a dog shaking off water.  It was at least a minute before both the rumbling and the shaking abated. All three humans stood, as did the eggs.

“Look!” Eleanor pointed toward the beach. Where gentle surf had purled onto white sands was now a vast expanse of mud where strange fish flopped. Far out, almost to the horizon, a great, green wave climbed into the sky.

“I’m somewhat alarmed here.”

“Herb, do something!”

“I’m thinking.”

Cindy shouted, “Run! Run for the shuttle!”

They ran. Herb loped slightly ahead. Legs churning, Eleanor was two steps behind him. Cindy was a few yards back. She was initially worried about her eggs’ ability to keep up, but their blurring legs kept them close by her side.  Like an opening mouth, the Tsunami rose behind them.

Herb and Eleanor thundered up the shuttle’s ramp. Cindy and her eggs scrambled close behind.

A crewman at the ramp controls shouted, “You’re the last! We’re out of here. Hold on to something!”

Ramp hanging open, the shuttle lurched into the sky. Roaring winds and water buffeted its heat shield. Tsunami froth flooded into the cargo bay. The stubby machine staggered, shook itself, ramp wagging like a boxer’s tail, and climbed into clear air.

Dazed, Herb peered around. “Everybody okay?” Something flopped in his lap.

Cindy squealed, “Daddy, you caught a fish!”

Herb flung the scaly creature away. It bounced once on the ramp and then began to learn how to fly.

“Herb, dear, that’s the first one I’ve ever seen you catch. You should have kept it.” Eleanor patted his hand.

The crewman leaned toward them. “It’s a little late, but everybody strap in. Then I’ll get this ramp closed and we can head for the station.”


“Dobbs, sir, Loadmaster Dobbs.”

“Loadmaster Dobbs, what happened back there? I thought Samantha was a benign world—no threats to visitors.”

“Well, sir, I just heard a snatch of the station’s warning, but apparently old Samantha went through a once in ten thousand years event.”

“I should hope so. What was it?”

“Aphelion, sir.”


“Samantha orbits Albiero, but this is a double star system, S-type.”


“So Samantha got the farthest away from Albiero that it ever gets and the closest to the companion star Cygnii. Planets sometimes have a tough time when they have to deal with the pull from two stars. Stellar gravitational tides that occur only once every ten thousand years caused the planet quake and the tsunami.”

“And no one figured this out before?”

“I guess so, but it’s okay now.”


“Sure, we can take you back tomorrow and everything will be fine. Of course, the animals are gone, but you could still go to the beach.”

“Ah, no thanks.”

Eleanor looked out the port at Samantha’s glowing golden globe. “She knew. The mother bird knew.”

The two aquamarine eggs stood on their orange chicken feet and lovingly nuzzled Cindy’s knees.

“Of course, she knew. She was a mom.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Robert Walton
Robert Walton’s  Dawn Drums was awarded first place in the 2014 Arizona Authors Association’s literary contest and also won the 2014 Tony Hillerman Best Fiction Award.  Barry Malzburg and he wrote The Man Who Murdered Mozart, published by Fantasy & SF in 2011. His La Loca was published this year in Principia Ponderosa (Third Flatiron Anthologies) (Volume 18). http://chaosgatebook.wordpress.com/

Read More