by John Palisano

Blue strips of Caalrit gas wove in front of Pioneer's bow, shading the entire bridge in its hue. The color reminded Shin of the blue sky from one of his favorite childhood memories. He remembered his father, lifting him and tossing him in the waves at Sunset Beach. He smelled the salty water and the lemon cake his mother had made, its scent filling the air as she'd opened the plastic bin. 

The scene flooded over him in a blink. He tasted the sea in his throat. Tasted the dry lemon drops. Felt his father's stubble on his neck as he'd been carried back onto the sand, too tired to make it back on his own. 

Shin remembered how the oiled swing set chains felt creaking under his bony fingers. He looked down at his hands, surprised at how they'd looked just like his father's had all those years ago. 

It'd all led to this moment, he thought. His life distilled inside a collage of memories. If he could only replay that day once more. If he could just . . . see his father one more time.


A Farewell to Worms
by John Linwood Grant

In the dark.

In the filthy, sweat-slick, lice infested dark.

There is the Saw. 

It is rust, and blood, and spatters of other idle fluids. It is very large, because what it cuts is even larger, and it shrieks as it bites through something which surely can’t exist. Its skewed edge tears at the grain, making clumps of pale, disordered dust and resin from a perfect tree. 

Into the quiet order of xylem and phloem, it brings its toothy chaos.

And I am pig-sick of the bloody thing.

The Marinakis family have left a colander out, as usual. It sits on the doorstep, and already one of my more ambitious brothers squats by it, counting the holes. Others might congratulate him on being able to get to five or six (skipping the number three, the holy number, of course) before he loses track. I slap him on the side of the head.

“It doesn’t matter,” I say. “It’s for draining vegetables. Who cares how many holes there are? You don’t even eat vegetables.”

There’s no point talking to him. He’s a traditionalist. He whines and goes back to his obsessional counting.

“One, two, the bad word, four, five… one, two...”


Story excerpts