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October 2011 Submissions

Submissions for the October 2011 issue of 10Flash closed September 14, 2011.

Issue 9: July 2011

Welcome to the ninth issue of 10Flash and the beginning our third year of publication.

10Flash is a quarterly on-line magazine dedicated to genre flash fiction — science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense, crime capers and slipstream.

Each issue  offers up ten flash fiction stories written around a common theme. Each story in this issue is a response to this caveat — Two Years and Still Counting.

The stories were written by established and emerging authors in the flash fiction market and they were free to interpret the theme in any manner — and in any of the genres — they choose.

Thank you all for stopping by.  There is a great bunch of genre stories for you to peruse this issue, some by authors whose names you’ll know and other by newcomers.  We think they’re all great reads.

K.C. and Jude-Marie

Down Where the Best Lilies Grow

fantasy by Camille Alexa

Odette’s maman says she plucked her along with other skinny reeds down by the shallow brackish waters of the Durendal Fen near the water’s tail end where the best mud lilies grow among the beaked sedge and whorl grass.  There the small lilies push up, tiny stars tossed against green and black, blossoming like white prayers to hazy dappled cloudshine, offering themselves like virgins opening legs after wedding vows.

Now Maman lies dying, a bitter-spirited woman calling her only daughter a thing of bleached bone, leached blood and dank marshy waters, fashioned of the sodden limbs of the fen’s waterlogged dead, not birthed at all.

You’re not my child, she croaks, twig fingers clutching the neck of her elixir bottle.  You’re a marsh baby, just a Little Bit of the bas lieu.  A creature of fenwater blood and hollow reed veins and sponge moss muscle.

[Click the title for the full story]

Time, Time, Time

science fiction by Blythe Ayne

Dr. Justin Williams, Psychiatrist it says in tall, square-cut letters on the smoky glass door.

I’ve never been to a psychiatrist. I wonder how he might be able to help me with my problem. Will he have the same prejudices I’ve been encountering since arriving here when people take in my long, tangled hair, my rumpled clothes? I’ve heard them say hippie behind my back.

But I’m not a hippie. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not. The truth is, I don’t know what a hippie is.

[Click the title for the full story]

The Whale Wore White

fantasy by Anatoly Belilovsky

My own darling boy,

Two years passed since last I saw you, and yes, I freely admit: it was my fault we parted on less than friendly terms. I paid the price, I learned my lesson. I’m sorry. Please forgive me for leaving you that way – clinging to a coffin in the middle of the storm-tossed sea.

I had my reasons. I was confused, hurt, angry, bewildered, bothered. I hope you understand. I’m different now. I thought things over, I decided what I needed to do. Being a whale of action, I wasted no time dithering. I dove right in, or rather, out.

You’ve no idea how traumatic it was to come out to my family.

“And what, exactly, is a, how do you say it?” Aunt Dora asked.

“Homosexual,” I clicked crisply. “It means I like men.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Aunt Dora. “I like men, too. They are crunchy, and good with seaweed.”

[Click the title for the full story]

Information Exchange

science fiction by Gitte Christensen

They think I’m unconscious.

Fools. Their drugs don’t work on me. I’ve got bits missing, bytes added.

I can hear them moving about the room – the medsims, the human doctors and nurses, the politicians and scientists, the military people.

At first, I listened to their hypotheses and debates, eager to stay informed, a good little soldier ready to participate once they woke me (though for my own peace of mind, I learned to zone out whenever they talked of contingency plans) but now they’re silent and secretive around me. No-one uses my name anymore. No-one has patted my hand or stroked my brow in over eighteen months.

I’m no longer a person to them. I’m a package.

[Click the title for the full story]

Its Petty Pace

fantasy by Karina Fabian

The FBI agent glared at me from across a metal table.

“Don’t I get a lawyer?” I asked.

He snorted. “You got rights, dragon?”

“Back in Faerie,” I mused, “I could bite your head off for insolence. Don’t know if that’s my right, but it’d be my pleasure.” I leered.

He reached for his gun, but Sheriff Bert growled.

“Play nice,” he ordered us.

I brought my fangs back behind my lips. Bert’s a friend–and I am stuck in this dimension, rights or no rights notwithstanding.

FBI holstered his weapon. “State your name.”

“Among humans, I’m known as Vern d’Wyvern. I didn’t pick it. Call me Vern.”

[Click the title for the full story]

Number One on the Hit Parade

crime caper by Lee Hammerschmidt

Of all the tiki bars in all the world, she walked into mine.

I was just finishing the early Happy Hour shift at the Tonga Tiki and Tattoo Lounge, playing tropical favorites for the let’s-get-drunk-and-screw crowd of mystic travelers who were there to pound down the tiny bubbles of cheap tropical drinks. I was one chorus of Two Pina Coladas away from being home free.

“You know Hello, Stranger,” she said, dropping a five in my ukulele case.

“How about A Little Less Conversation,” I said trying not to make eye contact. I instinctively reached into the case for the Beretta .25 automatic I had picked up at the flea market. It wasn’t that after all this time I wasn’t glad to see her. It was just that wherever Allison Vega went, Lester Quarles was sure to follow.

[Click the title for the full story]


slipstream by Gerri Leen

You dream of grass blowing in the breeze — not this short growth that surrounds the houses in the fort, but tallgrass, covering the prairies. Your pony would race through the grass — if he were still alive and not shot out from underneath you in that last raid. You had to ride behind Tall Smoke just to get home.

But if you still had your pony, his legs would swim through the grass, and the grass would tickle your feet as you rode, as you led the People from the summer camp to the winter.

Buffalo would roam. Thundering darkness sent by the Spirits of the Grandfathers for the People’s use. The Grandfathers would never have made peace with the white man. You know this and if you ever forget, Tall Smoke reminds you of your bad decisions whenever he gets the chance. But you ignore him. The Grandfathers are not here and you are.

[Click the title for the full story]


science fiction by Shauna Roberts

Cassandra rushed into the breakfast room, her hands full of papers. A murder of crows winged past the window, making their daily commute from mountains to town.

Eric slammed his mug down. He hadn’t shaved. Again. “You woke me when you got up.”

Whine, whine, whine. It never ended. Cass sighed and dropped signed permission slips for a Central Union freshman field trip on the twins’ placemats and set stapled printouts on Eric’s. She grabbed a container of strawberry kefir for a quick breakfast.

Eric glanced at the printouts, then swept his arm across the table. The mug shattered when it hit the tile. Coffee flooded the papers and made the ink run. “Boarding school? Your little mistake got me fired, remember?”

[Click the title for the full story]

Counting Up to Counting Down

horror by Josh Vogt

She scrutinizes her profile in the mirror, shirt pulled up to just beneath her breasts. The sunlamp is tilted at an angle behind her, propped up on a sofa cushion. She both hopes and fears the light might shine through her swollen belly to illuminate the stubborn creature in her womb. The same way a flashlight pressed to a fingertip suffuses the flesh and outlines the bone and nail.

“What’re you doing?” he asks, paused in the doorway to their bedroom.

Her breath catches. She keeps one fist clenched where he can’t see. Her skin warms but resists the light’s probe, and only shadows are cast onto the glass. Whatever grows within her continues to bide its time. To lurk, her mind whispers, but she shoves the thought aside with polished habit.

“Two years today,” she says. “I wanted to see if there was any change.”

[Click the title for the full story]

Leaving Chelsea

fantasy by Dean Wells

Gavin drifts through the Lower West Side slowly and with great effort, carrying the weight of the world in a guitar case of worn brown leather and a duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

A warehouse not far from the pier looms before him, its heavy doors etched in frost. A bus is parked in front, a tangle of cables and equipment on the sidewalk, roadies hustling about. He looks up the impossibly tall stoop to the warehouse doors and feels every hope and dream he’s ever known collapse under the weight of the guitar case. He stops, uncertain, winter cold stabbing through the soles of his sneakers.

“Hey, Danko. You coming up or not?”

Gavin looks through icy mist from the river. Arlo sits cross-legged at the top of the stoop, plucking out a riff on the acoustic bass that’s balanced on his thigh, a smoke dangling from the side of his mouth.

Gavin stares. “You aren’t supposed to be here,” he says, taking in the incongruity of the moment.

[Click the title for the full story]

Submissions for the July issue are closed

It’s taken longer than usual, but the submissions invitation for the July 2011 issue of 10Flash Quarterly is closed.

The authors of the ten stories selected to appear in the issue will receive an e-mail confirmation by noon tomorrow, June 16, 2011.

We received a lot of great stories and selection of the final ten was tough.  To those of you who missed the cut, thank you for submitting your work.  We hope you continue to let us read your stories.


This and that

Welcome to 10Flash.

For those of you who dropped by Wednesday, looking for a new One-Off story, I’m sorry there wasn’t one.

Someone e-mailed me Thursday.  “There was no story yesterday,” they said. “Is everything all right?”

Everything is fine.  In fact, Jude-Marie and I are hip-deep in stories submitted for our July 2011 anniversary issue.  There are other new things coming over the next twelve months, too, things we can’t talk about yet, but that are exciting.

So, stop by July 1st for the “Two Years and Counting” issue. Or stop by anytime, to catch up on great stories you haven’t read yet.

And thanks for thinking of us.

— K.C.

May 2011 One Off

Welcome to 10Flash.

This time up, we present a poignant piece from an established flash fiction professional — Michael Ehart.  Michael says he writes adventure stories.  To Have and to Hold is a brutal hike through a good man’s personal hell.  It’s also a love story.  Enjoy.

To Have and to Hold

suspense by Michael Ehart

Julie fell off the meth wagon again. Because I was in Chicago on a case, I didn’t learn about it until I got home Sunday night. By then she had at least a two day head start into the dark.

I went through her things, hoping this time to get some indication of who she was with or where she had gone, but besides the realization that I had missed the warning signs again, there was nothing but unwashed dishes, dirty clothes and the other signs of depression that precede one of her episodes.

I grabbed a recent picture from my digital camera, taken surreptitiously a couple of months before. Her appearance changes fast, and a picture taken even a couple of years ago would be useless.

I found Tony, her sponsor, in the pool hall where he worked. “Ain’t seen her, man. Haven’t seen her for about a week.”

I glared at his gap-toothed smile. “Aren’t you supposed to keep an eye on her?”

He shrugged. “I try, but you know, a week ain’t that long, bro.”

A week is forever sometimes.

[To read the rest of the story, click the title]

From Rise Reviews

A positive review of the April issue of 10Flash from Frank Dutkiewicz of Rise Reviews. The final judgment: an entertaining issue of short but well written stories. Frank offered two recommended reads for the issue – Aliens by D. J. Swatski and The Misanthrope by Janna Silverstein.

He also had this to say about Sandra M. Odell’s As Is. “Very cute and funny. The story isn’t at all disappointing, even if Hank doesn’t like the results he discovers. Likely the most fitting time machine story I ever read.”

Much thanks, Frank!

Issue 8: April 2011

Welcome to the eighth issue of 10Flash.

10Flash is a quarterly on-line magazine dedicated to genre flash fiction — science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense, crime capers and slipstream.

Each issue  offers up ten flash fiction stories written around a common theme. Each story in this issue is a response to this warning — Not with That You Don’t.

The stories were written by established and emerging authors in the flash fiction market and they were free to interpret the theme in any manner — and in any of the genres — they choose.

Thank you all for stopping by.  There is an interesting selection of genre stories for you to peruse this issue, some by authors whose names you’ll know and other by newcomers.  I think they’re all great reads.

We’re loaded with writers from the Pacific Northwest this issue.

Portland’s Jay Lake takes us on a journey home, in Brown Bottle Nostrum,  that will have you thinking twice the next time someone suggests that you have your mother’s eyes or your grandfather’s nose.

From Seattle (and its many neighborhoods and suburbs), Cat Rambo leads us to a very special map held together by The Forbidden Stitch, Keffy R.M. Kehrli’s Accompaniment presents a wicked lesson in honesty, Janna Silverstein examines the consequences of indiscriminate wishing in The Misanthrope and Sandra M. Odell (from across the Sound in Bremerton) keeps her tongue firmly planted in her cheek while offering a piece of garage junk As Is.

Karina Fabian introduces us to a private eye who just happens to be a dragon, too.  We giggled a lot over this one and send it along with the hope that we’ll see more of Vern, who has a taste for most things A La Mode.

Anne Patterson Friedman’s With Gleaming Blades suggests that you might never be too old for adventure, while Douglas Swatski weaves a sweet little story about teen-aged boys and flying saucers and worried mothers in Aliens.

Data De Morte is a snarky romp by Lorna Keach.  Remember it the next time you apply for a job.

And speaking of applying for a job, after reading David Grant’s Open-Door Policy, you may have second thoughts about ever returning to the work place.  Neither of us are known to cringe reading a story.  This one is genuinely creepy.

Ten great stories. Have at them.

K.C. and Jude-Marie


fantasy by Keffy R. M. Kehrli

“You’re making me crazy,” Jonas said. “Can’t you play the fucking thing any quieter?”

I didn’t speak. I just kept playing the damn guitar while my cracked fingers bled rivulets that clung to the strings and dripped down the lacquered wood. Eventually I did say that I was sorry, that I couldn’t stop, but he’d already gone out for a smoke. He left the shed door cracked open, so the nicotine-laden winter air flooded in and froze my lungs.

Outside, Jonas’ phone trilled. He answered with a sharp, “Yeah?”

I thought that if I’d known how to play, if I was breaking out into a moving cover of a Simon and Garfunkel song or something, then it wouldn’t be as bad. But I’d never before picked up a guitar. I’d only ever played music in elementary school when we all had to buy plastic recorders and learn “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” So my fingers danced to the compulsion in a cacophonic jangle, caressed strings and frets and made nothing but noise with my pain. I tried to pick combinations of strings that sounded like chords and mostly failed.

“Yes, I realize we’re late. We’ve got problems.”

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]

A La Mode

fantasy by Karina Fabian

He sat in my office chair and stared at me, while attempting to look like he wasn’t staring. Trying to get his head around seeing a live dragon, no doubt. I get a lot of that. What I don’t get a lot of is clientèle. People want to believe in dragons – dragon detectives, not so much.

I didn’t have to stare back. I got the gist of him from the moment he entered the warehouse I call home. Common enough face and build as to be unmemorable, cautious by nature, nervous but determined to do a job. Lots of professional ethics, not a lot of morals.

A high-class thug hired by a higher-class human to do their dirty work.

And he wanted to sub-contract. Joy.

Maybe I should have thrown him out, but last week I’d had to resort to eating rats and gophers again. At some point, the bank would overcome its fear of a dragon on the loose and try to foreclose on this dump I call a home. I needed a job – bad.

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]


science fiction by D. J. Swatski

“They’re landing,” Mother yelled from the living room.

Jason tapped at his computer screen to display the image. The snowstorm made for a fuzzy, yet colorful picture. Plasma streams striking the snow and air cast neon blues and reds across the sky.

“Are you coming down to see this?” Mother urged.

“Plink,” sounded the computer. Jason pulled his feet off the desk and leaned forward to study the map. The globe sported a dozen red dots, each starship aligned with a different capital. The dot over Washington, D.C. appeared last. The doorknob clicked as his mother tried to enter. A moment later she popped the lock with a paper clip.

“What did I tell you about locking the door, young man? You will not –” She stopped when she saw the images on Jason’s computer screens.

The dot over Buenos Aires turned black as the picture showed the brilliant flash of an explosion. “No,” Jason whispered.

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]

As Is

science fiction by Sandra M. Odell

“What’s this?” Hank said from the back of the garage.

Gary glanced up from a cardboard box of knick-knacks. “That’s my MacGuffin.”

“Your what?”

Gary snorted and shook his head. “It’s a time machine.”

“Get out of here.”

“It is. Doesn’t work, though.” Gary closed the box and added it to the pile on his left. The warm Saturday afternoon was better suited to napping in the backyard hammock than organizing the garage, but Marge had threatened to do the job herself and his pride still hadn’t recovered from her crusade against his attic workshop. “Give me a hand with the skis.” All with broken bindings he would fix one day, honest, honey, I mean it.

“Seriously? A time machine?” Hank said as they hoisted the skis into the loft. “I mean, you’ve invented some cool stuff before, you know, but a time machine?”

“Yeah,” Gary said. “I could never get it to work, though.”

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]

Brown Bottle Nostrum

fantasy by Jay Lake

The bottle sits at the back of my grandfather’s medicine cupboard.  It’s old, in that way that so few things are, as if it has accumulated extra mass, extra layers of reality like coats of varnish.  The shoulders are slightly uneven, clearly hand blown, and the brown glass is full of bubbles.

The cap might be cork, but Grand wrapped duct tape around the neck years ago, so long ago the wrinkled gray stuff has had time to generate its own ecology of dust and mites and cobwebs.  There’s a faded label, blank except for one word written in spidery Palmer method script:


Facial what? I used to wonder when I visited summers as a kid and he’d send me to the cupboard for Pepto-Bismol.  “Don’t touch that other crap, kiddo,” he’d shout from the couch — that old tartan one that was so ugly it could have disguised dog vomit — “it’ll take the hair right off’a your chest.”  Then he would collapse into heaving old-man laughs.

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]

Data de Morte

dark fantasy by Lorna D. Keach

Shelby put down the gigantic ebony horn she dragged, long enough to wipe the gore from her glasses.

So far, she’d felled the Great Blood Beast of Hanthor, mastered the mysteries of the Foul Scribe of Felchamathea, and polished the floor of Yagfargain the Terrible’s summer cottage, so her long and harrowing journey was near its end.

The temple of the Dark Lord de Morte loomed above her, glistening white under the moon. Its walls had been forged with the bones of countless fallen paladins who had attempted to knock the necromancer king from his throne.

Shelby limped up the stone steps that lead into the Dark Lord’s temple,  kicking away the stray skulls that the ancient desert winds had tossed across the threshold.

A green light beckoned to her from inside. A bonfire of emerald flame burned there, as evil and eternal as the thirteen robed figures who surrounded it.

“Approach, supplicant!” The Dark Lord De Morte’s fiendish voice echoed over the temple ceiling.

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]

Open-Door Policy

horror by David S. Grant

Maybe it’s because I drink Red Bull, maybe because I’m the newest member of the team.  I’m not sure the reason, but I know I’m not one of them.

Maybe, there’s an initiation.

They stand around the Phaser 2000 laser printer and drink coffee, they do this every morning.  No words, just standing in a circle, drinking coffee and collectively taking deep sighs.

There’s something I’m not telling you.

Dale doesn’t have a right ear.  Not that he doesn’t have any ear, just most of it is gone, as if he lost it due to disease or lost a major bet.

Jason?  He doesn’t talk, I’m not just talking about the circle, but at all.  He only mumbles occasionally and drinks his coffee, black.

Chris is bruised.  Not ran-into-a-door type bruises, but deep bruises.  The ones that hurt mentally.

Then there’s Andrew.  Scarface.  No one would ever say this, but everyone is thinking it.  Someone took a knife and slashed an “X” on his face, probably foster parents, I hear this is common.

[Click on the title to read the rest of the story]

The Forbidden Stitch

fantasy by Cat Rambo

When you looked in the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul Lost in Ennui, there it was, tucked between pages 22-23.

A slip of paper, translucent and fragile, covered with someone’s scrawl, as thin and crooked as insect legs.  Fishing it out, the paper fluttering helpless between your fingers, you spread it out on the table before you.  Forgotten, the book splays itself to the air, pages promising panaceas for the angst ridden.

You recognize it as a map, that much is true.  But a map as drawn by M.C. Escher, tortured boundaries intersecting and re-intersecting in kaleidoscopic fragments, melancholy fractals.

The territories of the land are labeled: Self-Pity, Mischance, Indulgence, Unhappy Coincidence, Regret.  An unnamed road runs through the middle, marked with a line of dashes, stars and circles showing the cities and towns.

A castle, drawn in patient detail to show the flags fluttering above its towers, bears the legend Doldrums.  A blank space in the center has the inscription above it: Nowhere.

[Click the title to read the rest of the story]

The Misanthrope

fantasy by Janna Silverstein

I hate people. Really. Big genuine hate. So when I discovered that if I hated someone enough I could make them die, disappear, whatever, it seemed like divine intervention.

First it was Jasper Collins, who lived down the hall with his nasty, yappy little dog, Elmo. It was a pug, I think, with a pushed-in face and a constant frown.

Collins played his damn guitar at all hours of the night, croony-swoony songs you played in high school to impress cheerleaders. He was tall and lanky, with black hair too thin and straight to do anything but hang down on either side of his face like cheap tassles on a whore’s lamp shade. He had this adenoidal snort when he talked that made you want to push a handkerchief up against his face and make him blow the snot out of his head.

I went to bed one night wanting nothing more than to sleep when, on the other side of the wall, Jasper Collins started to play his guitar, strum strum strum, the same damn thing over and over again. It went on for hours. I wrapped my head in my blanket. I covered my ears with my pillow. I got up, put on my bathrobe, traipsed out into the hall and knocked on his door to politely ask him to stop. No dice.

[Click on the title to read the rest of the story]

With Gleaming Blades

fantasy by Anne Patterson Friedman

Melinda closed her AARP magazine, pushed back from the kitchen table, and shouted, “Turn that thing down.” Still, the TV’s volume failed to drop, allowing no relief from the screams of slashed Japanese farmers, victims of feuding samurai.

She tromped into the living room where her husband, Gordon, lay stretched out on his recliner with his morning coffee in one hand, the remote in the other.

“Please, Gordon, just pause that a moment.” When flashing swords froze on the screen, Melinda used her softest voice and said, “Honey, I’m worried about you. You’ve watched that same DVD a thousand times. You’re obsessed with that movie.”

He huffed. “Yeah, ’cause the hero’s amazing.”

“So you’ve told me.”

“He’s blind, but he’s got special abilities. Toss a candle in the air and stand back. He can raise his sword cane, unsheathe its hidden blade, then slice that candle clean in half, lengthwise, wick and all.”

As a crazed look settled on his face, Melinda shuddered. Was he losing it? She could live with his forgetfulness, but what if he turned violent? It seemed easier each day to trigger his anger.

[Click on the title to read the rest of the story]