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Issue 3: January 2010

Welcome to a new year and a new issue of 10Flash.

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

Each issue will offer up ten flash fiction stories written around a common theme. Each story in this issue involves an encounter at dusk on a lonely road.

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.

This issue offers up a swell mixed bag of genre stories.

Jodi MacArthur’s brave protagonist battles Death in The Sower. Mark Souza offers up a poignant traveler’s tale in Road Kill. And Gay Degani, who’s stories have appeared here before, presents a sly bit of trailer-trash fantasy in Spotted & Sought.

Megan Arkenberg, D. J. Barber and Laura Eno are back again, too, with Fugitive 135711400, Wanderers Two and Wish the Moon.

Davina Aw, in her first appearance at 10Flash, dares us to Just Go On and Keep Believing That. I’ll never look at a hitchhiker in the same way again, after reading Aw’s story.

I’m pleased, too, to present the first published piece from a new writer. Dale Ivan Smith’s Dead Wife Waiting sounds like a suspense tale but it’s heroic fantasy with a nice twist at the end.

And I am just as pleased to publish stories from two neo-pro science fiction writers — Nathaniel Williams and C.L. Holland. Their names are showing up in professional publications, like Fantasy Magazine and the Writers of the Future 25 anthology.

Williams gives us a haunting bit of slipsteam, Rural Suburban, and Holland takes us on a journey On The Penitents’ Road.

All ten are the sort of stories I think you’ll enjoy reading. So have at them.

K. C.

Dead Wife Waiting

fantasy by Dale Ivan Smith

My dead wife waited for me at twilight on the road through Sky Touch Pass.

She stood beside the midway marker stone where we first made love ten years ago. Skeletal corpses were strewn across the broken ground to either side of her, all the way to both canyons.

[Read the story]

Fugitive 135711400

science fiction by Megan Arkenberg

“Don’t shoot.”

The voice came out of the muffled green forest to my right, tinged not with panic but with the cloudy film of distrust necessary for travel in the yellowing dusk.

I’d never enjoyed walking at night, but the soldiers had confiscated my truck five years before, and if I wanted to work—which I did, or I’d go insane—the only shifts open to non-party members were brief and late.

So I put up with the dark and the damp and the chill as best I could, and carried a small handgun for chance encounters like these.

[Read the story]

Just Go On and Keep Believing That

slipstream by Davina Aw

The hitchhiker was sitting by the road with an arm raised ramrod straight, a curious silhouette cast in black against the fading light of dusk.

It was only as Sarah drove nearer that she realized that she was being watched. But there was something harmless about the hitchhiker, something almost desperate, and Sarah found herself slowing to a stop and lowering the window.

“Are you all right?” she called out.

The hitchhiker scrambled up , a little unsteady, and staggered toward the car. Female. Late teens. Hair short and half-heartedly spiked, crooked shades not quite hiding unfocused eyes, clothes well-traveled and worn down.

“Does this ride go out?” the hitchhiker rasped, grabbing the lowered window for support, not quite looking at Sarah. She swallowed, and with a slightly clearer voice: “You’re the first vehicle I’ve seen. Does it go out?”

[Read the story]

On The Penitents’ Road

science fiction by C. L. Holland

Once, back when he’d been human, he might have appreciated the irony of this particular spot.

It was called the Penitents’ Road because centuries ago it was where heretics were made to repent before they were burned. Of course, humankind had long since evolved beyond the need for such a silly superstition as religion.

Argen Fuller hoped it wasn’t too late for them to evolve beyond the need for mere flesh and blood, too.

[Read the story]

Road Kill

suspense by Mark Souza

At the Stop-n-Go just outside Winslow, Arizona, Harlan Thomas absently stared at the pink glow on the horizon separating day from night while the gas pump ticked off the dollars.

The shadowy emptiness of the desert resonated within a hollow spot inside his chest. He’d put a lot of miles behind him and still had a long way to go.

“That’s quite a dent.”

Startled, Harlan spun and spotted a man in shorts and a tee shirt crouched next to his car. He was thin and athletic looking, in his mid-thirties, skin well bronzed by the sun.

“Make a little noise next time. You nearly scared the life out of me.”

The man flashed a friendly smile. “Sorry.” He stood and extended his hand. “I’m Ted.”

[Read the Story]

Rural Suburban

slipstream by Nathaniel Williams

I’m a few miles from home when the buck leaps into my headlights. Only as I hit the brakes do I realize it’s a man in a deer costume.

My tires rise and fall, and I bounce into the steering wheel before careening to a stop. I pull off as far to the side as I can, and put the flashers on. The engine’s still running as I open the door and rush to the lump in the road behind me.

The streetlights out here are too far apart to help me see much. Somehow, in the last bit of pine-obscured sunset and the rhythmic glare of hazard lights, I can make out his face.

[Read the story]

Spotted & Sought

fantasy by Gay Degani

from The Chronicle Personals: SPOTTED & SOUGHT / Sunday, January 3

Friday night at the Mobil station.

You: hot guy in scruffy beard & flannel shirt caught my eye, a forty in one hand, a pack of Marlborough’s in the other. Me: pumping unleaded into my mama’s rusty Olds Cutlass.

You grinned and said someone with a chassis like mine deserved a better ride. Then you climbed into a 1969 VW bug. But STILL I liked your chassis just fine.

Wanna meet? When: Monday at 10 P.M. Where: Mobil station. You: Man. Me: Woman.

[Read the story]

The Sower

horror by Jodi MacArthur

Night howled over the trees and their floundering leaves. A crunch somewhere along the graveyard’s lane followed the Sower. The sound of the Reaper’s teeth frightened her, causing her to move more swiftly.

She scratched the dirt with her hoe, removing any bit of green that tried to grow; then tossed the hoe aside, picked up the trowel, and got down on all fours. The Sower traced a perfect line, an ever-so-slight ditch in the earth.

Crunch, crunch. She heard It behind her. Its power was strong and immortal as sin, giving It the strength to snap bones. It haunted her dreams; It was why she had become a junkie in the first place.

[Read the story]

Wanderers Two

fantasy by D.J. Barber

The cries of battle and clash of steel echoed in Vaxhelm’s ears.

He staggered through the bright afternoon sunshine, the battlefield far behind. The sounds of war faded as the old warrior approached a dark wood. The road continued into shady gloom and Vaxhelm limped onward, in shock, concussed, oblivious to his surroundings.

Coming upon a small stream, he stumbled and fell. The cold waters brought Vaxhelm out of his semi-stupor. He sat upright and dragged himself, soaked to the bone, to the far bank.

He had no idea where he was; only that he was cold and hungry, and by the looks of things, wasn’t about to find a warm bed or kettle of stew anywhere close by.

[Read the story]

Wish the Moon

fantasy/suspense by Laura Eno

The full moon rose from the water, rivaling the sun in size and color while caught in the twilight hour.

Neither day nor night, it was an in-between time that held magic in its grasp — at least according to her grandmother. Kelsey never believed the old stories before, but now– Something didn’t feel right. The silence mocked her.

Her booted feet kicked up small clouds of dust as Kelsey stomped to the end of the road, but otherwise it remained impervious to her anger. The street she lived on ended at the lake, about a half-mile from the house. Kelsey sat down at the shoreline, staring at her reflection while she sorted her thoughts.

She shook her head, thinking of the stories. Fanciful beings, able to cross dimensions? The legends were mere fairy tales, used to frighten small children into obedience.

[Read the story]

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