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Issue 5: July 2010

Welcome to the fifth issue of 10Flash.

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

Each issue  offers up ten flash fiction stories written around a common theme. Each story in this issue is an response to this question — Are We There Yet?

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 marks the beginning of our second year.  It’s been an interesting and fast twelve months.  We’ve published forty-four great genre stories, along with some thought-provoking and insightful columns by visiting writers.  We’ve presented stories by a number of established writers and had the opportunity to introduce first works by people that I know are going to give me the chance to say “I knew them when …”

We also hit 24,000 unique hits last week.  That’s an average of 2,000 visitors each month.  I know there are a lot of publications that make that number look like small potatoes, but it pleases me.  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.

Gay Degani, one of my favorite writers and author of the well-received June 2010 One Off story, Down Bayou Black, returns with Heading to Perdition.  It’s a piece of horrific fantasy set in the old west.  Dale Smith is back, too, with Getting to the Point and Gerri Leen returns with Shadows in the Rain.

We’ve got another story, too, about my favorite Massachusetts mobster, Artie “The Angel” D’Angelo . This time, Charles Thiesen, shows us that Artie has a bit of heart, in The Ride.  And Oonah V. Joslin is back for her fifth appearance with  Reason Enough .

Matt Albertson takes us to Hell in Patience is a Topless Dancer, Deborah Walker shows us not all adults know what they’re talking about in Mrs. Sanderson, Chuck Von Nordheim, a writer I met last year at the University of Kansas, offers us a glimpse of his delightfully skewed vision in Waiting for the There and John Wiswell provides a geography lesson in The Sea in Which the Most Men Drown.  This one made me laugh out loud.

Finally, Amanda C. Davis stops by to share My Rest a Stone, a tale of shipwreck that is both poignant and spooky.

All ten are great stories. So have at them.

K. C.


Heading to Perdition

fantasy by Gay Degani

Heat poured over them like hot lead. Three women on a hard buckboard plank, Raney in the middle, bones rattled, throat choked, her stomach shriveled to dried leather. She squinted into the late-afternoon shimmer praying for a cluster of trees, the slope of a wash, any sheltered place to camp. All she saw was unbroken plain. She groaned.

Agnes pinched her. “Stop your moaning. You ain’t gonna find no Romeo in a hellhole they call Perdition, so stop your wool-gathering. Lucky to find a man won’t beat you ten days to Sunday.”

Agnes lifted a laudanum-soaked handkerchief to her nose and sniffed, ran her other hand down her wrinkled red dress. She looked exactly like what Raney’s grandmother used to call a woman of the evening.

[Read the story]

Getting to the Point

slipstream by Dale Ivan Smith

I lie in bed in our motel room and can’t remember how I ended up here.

Who are you? All I see is a cocky man leaning against the wall opposite me and grinning. Why do you promise me I will know no fear if I do this bank job?

Why do you smile at my confusion and tell me I’ll know fearlessness when it comes?

Why do you say me and everyone else living in this time are already dead?

[Read the story]

Mrs. Sanderson

science fiction by Deborah Walker

This close to the perimeter fence the landscape changed.

The nutritious white fungi, which grew in profusion near the center of the reservation, were replaced by a small, brown, veined mushroom which spawned over every rock. The brown mushrooms were poisonous. Mr. Sung had taught the children that, taught them a rhyme so they would remember.

“White is all right,” he had repeated, until they all knew it by heart. “But if it’s brown, put it down.”

Mrs. Sanderson looked into the sky, judging the time by the red-eyed sun which hung in the cloudless sky.

“I think it’s time for lunch. We can stop here, children,” she said. “Alex, pass out the food.”

[Read the story]

My Rest a Stone

slipstream by Amanda C. Davis

We are all in the lifeboat and our noses are full of the salt sea and I am hugging my dolly, like always, when her head wobbles once and falls off. The stringy hair slides through my fingers and right over the side. It rolls away with her curls all waving around in the water and her glass eye winks at me to say ha ha, she is leaving. She is leaving and I am not.

So I scream. I am not as good at screaming as I used to be so sometimes I do it for practice, for When We Are Rescued. I scream for a long time.

Mr Bauman says Will Someone Shut That Child Up.

Mrs Adde says Let Her Scream Perhaps Someone Will Hear.

Be A Brave Girl says Miss Mary who I think has forgotten how to say anything else.

[Read the story]

Patience is a Topless Dancer

horror by Matt Albertson

The yellow taxicab crept forward and stopped, only inches from where it had sat idle for the last five minutes.

The traffic light shone red again, distorted through the rain streaked windshield. Sitting on the cab’s black vinyl backseat, it was the third light cycle Frank Goodfriend had been through. “Jesus Christ, it’d be faster to walk,” he said, more to himself than to the cabbie.

“Looks like the game just got out. It could be a while,” the cabbie responded through the divider.

Frank felt his navy blue suit creasing under him. “Damn it. I don’t have a while. Isn’t there a faster way?”

[Read the story]

Reason Enough

science fiction by Oonah V. Joslin

Dr. Frances Horus took a step back and admired her shiny time machine.

It had taken decades to perfect, but the shade was just right, pink with a hint of lilac. She stepped into the temporal core and settled into the seat.

“Horus 0ne, set time – July 11th 2007, eleven am CET. place – Paris. Location – Jardin des Tuilleries, as close as possible to the Ferris wheel.”

“Desired parameters set, Doctor,” said the machine voice, low and masculine.

“Begin.”

All around, the air became translucent with shifting colors like petrol on a puddle and the room faded. It felt like she was floating upwards and slowly spinning round. She experienced a faint tingling sensation and a strange detachment from reality, but at the same time, absolute calm.

[Read the story]

Shadows in the Rain

horror by Gerri Leen

The rain fell in sheets, as if the heavens were trying to drown the city. Sarah ran to the corner, searched the oncoming traffic for a cab. Two raced by her, their roof lights darkened, fares warm and dry within.

“Mommy?”

Sarah turned, backing into the crosswalk and slipping, and a car honked as she tried to correct. She fell, cold wetness soaking into her pants from the rain-drenched pavement. The car went around her, the window opening just long enough for the driver to call her a crazy bitch.

Crazy?

Crazy was letting the thing that stood looking at her catch her.

[Read the story]

The Ride

crime caper by Charles Thiesen

Artie the Angel had had it.

With foolish young soldiers. With their capos who didn’t watch out for them. And with Sally Pesci, The Fish, his feudal lord, droning on about the importance of Omerta, and zipped lips and sinking ships. Artie wanted to be home watching Jeopardy with a bottle of Pickwick Ale and some Cape Cod chips.

Another thing Artie had had it with was killing. Unfortunately, killing was what Sally was talking about.

“We can’t have rats, Artie. Remember what we did to Vinnie? We cut him up. We don’t have to be so baroque with the Katz kid. He isn’t one of us anyway, but whether you’re us or not, you can’t talk. “

“What did he do?’

Sally shook his head. “The kid told stories and now there are consequences. The mayor, the one we own, is being investigated, fachrisake. If you don’t want to do it, give it to one a’ your crew. They’re reliable. Take a vacation, you look tired.”

But Artie didn’t want his crew to get too used to killing. They had to do it sometimes, sure, but they were too young for the nightmares to start, and Artie took care of his crew.

[Read the story]

The Sea in Which the Most Men Have Died

suspense by John Wiswell

Foreman manned the left oar and Aftman manned the right. They propped their boots up on the parcel at the bottom of the boat. Fog swirled in thick, but they knew this lake. They’d served on the estate for years.

Foreman said, “The last riddle Master gave to me was this: what is the sea in which the most men have died?”

Aftman puzzled this over. Stalling to come up with a clever answer, he asked, “What did you say?”

“Well I figured the Dead Sea, on account of the name.”

[Read the story]

Waiting for the There

slipstream by Chuck Von Nordheim

This happened before there or here was, in the once before a time.

Space opened up.  The man felt his muscles unclench.  He rolled away from the woman, pleased with his new freedom.

A barrier thrummed.  The man clapped his hands over his ears to stop the shrill sound.  He rolled against it, but rebounded.  He leaped at it, but bounced off.

Cold seeped through the barrier.  The man shivered.  He rolled back to the woman.

“How long,” he asked.

“Soon,” she said.

[Read the story]

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