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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]

Tallgrass

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]

Fissures

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]

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