Hands of a Toolmaker

by Eric Del Carlo


    It used to get nervous giggles, Silas remembered. That was mostly because of the vague--and usually misunderstood--sexual connotations of the word. You could make a dumb kid's joke by saying "tool" loud enough that it would force a laugh out of your playmates because they didn't want to look like they didn't get it.

    But that was past. Silas was now old enough to feel he truly had a past. Fifteen was a significant age. It had that cool, squared-off feel to it as a number; 5s were halfway between 10s in math, and were almost as important in equations and calculations. But fifteen meant more than that, of course.

    It was the age when he would have to decide whether or not he would get Tooled.


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Slough
by Glen Hirshberg

    “Wait ‘til you hear why,” I said into my phone. I had it wedged between my shoulder and ear so I could repack my cameras.

    “Why?” said Daniel in that tone he’s perfected: interested in spite of himself. It’s partly an act, he knows I know it, and it doesn’t matter; it’s sexy to me. 

    “The rain.”

    “What?” The laugh is not an act, and the actual key to the sexiness. Daniel is interested. It’s the in-spite-of he plays at.

    “You heard me. Actually, not the rain. The storm.”

    “It’s storming?”

    “Did I say it was storming?”

    “Gabby, just—”

    “Don’t you read the weather? There could be thunder. This is a family organization, remember.”

    “Oh god, that’s so good. All white supremacists must wait at least thirty minutes after lightning strikes before re-donning jackboots.”


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Kirti

by Alessandro Manzetti


After pocketing the money from selling his goats, Arjun drags his worn slippers away from the market and sits down on one of the four chairs of a seedy bar under a faded Coca-Cola beach umbrella to have a bottle of whiskey. He wants to forget his house, a dirty hole in the infamous slum of Park City. His wife is waiting for him with arms crossed in front of an empty pantry. Numbing the guilt and any concerns for tomorrow, he gets up and waves for a rickshaw. The small vehicle, driven by a boy with snow-white teeth, brakes and picks him up  before zig-zagging between the yellow taxi rank and the Calcutta’s traffic of souls and ghosts. Lulled by the hum of the small rickshaw engine, Arjun observes the city rush from the plastic window. It plays like an accelerated movie.


Everything seems different than a few hours before when he had only dead flies in his wallet—everything except the immense movie posters pasted everywhere. The blank face of a young actress from the South wearing a necklace of keys stared from every wall, a 20 foot tall giantess. A water-bug with antennae stained with human brain peeped out of her ear. Those playbills invaded the city to promote a new horror film in Hindi.


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Story excerpts