Rough Night
By Scott Cole

I did not sleep well last night. Turned over this morning, and had shooting pains all around my left ear. I hate when that happens. Guess it got all folded up and twisted against the pillow. Really hurts.

Found my other ear underneath the pillow. I reattached it, but it’s still pretty sore.

My back is stiff too. Not sure what I did, but my midsection looks like a wad of stretched-out bubble gum that was left in the sun to dry, then tied into a knot. If I was able to stand up, I’d probably be about nine feet tall. But of course I can’t.

My right shoulder appears to be dislocated as well -- which explains why I’m unable to reach the remote and shut off the TV. Looks like I’ve got a flight of steps running from my neck to my elbow.

It might not be as bad as my left leg, though. Must have gotten wrapped up in the sheets or something. It’s bent the wrong way -- forward, that is -- and my foot is stuck, somehow tucked underneath my scrotum. It’s unpleasant, to say the least, mainly because I haven’t clipped my toenails in a while.

And the sheets are completely soaked. There has to be at least a gallon of blood here. At least.

Can’t imagine what happened last night. I don’t remember a thing -- not even my dreams. But I do know this: I’m already late for work, and that’s a problem.

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Scott Cole is an artist, graphic designer, and writer, all at the same time. His words have appeared in places like Weirdyear, Flashes In The Dark, and MicroHorror, as well as a handful of print anthologies, while his images have been in magazines and on CD covers. He lives in Philadelphia, as well as online at www.13visions.com.


By Marc N. Kleinhenz

She came in, a grocery bag under each athletic arm.  It was hard to tell whether she was still mad or not.  Then again, it was always hard to know which way her temperament was blowing.  I suppose it’s one of the things I always loved about her.  I suppose.

Sale on granola, her voice carried from the kitchen.

Wow.  That’s great, honey.  Goddamn rabbit food.  God – she had better not have forgotten the Mountain Dew.

But no Mountain Dew.  Sorry.  Oh.

I was already on the next round of Black Ops when she stopped unpacking.  Did you manage to do that thing today?  Or are you still too hurt from your injury?

Ouch.  My one stab at basketball, and this was how she repaid me.

Have I ever told you, honey, I heard myself saying, how much I love you for taking care of me?  In sickness or in health?  Did my tone always sound so forced?  So sickly sweet?

Silence.  Anita?  Oh, well.  Zombies were piling up; the call of duty waits for no man.  Or granola bar.

That’s when I noticed she was doing her best impression of Death incarnate in the doorway – unmoving, unblinking, unnerving.  She knew staring contests were one of my weaknesses, although I gave her my best Han Solo over the mound of half-finished manuscript pages on the coffee table.  What?

Can’t you think of anything to say, for Chrissakes?  Or write?  Wow.  Did her voice always sound so sour?  I had always told her that we went together like peas and carrots, me and Anita, but a plate of stinky Chinese chicken might have been more like it these days.

She had already padded down the hallway and back again, a bottle of water clenched in hand, before I could even sit up.

For the love of God, she said, squinting her eyes closed.  You can’t say anything and you don’t do anything.

That was it, the last chip to unleash the torrent.  The words were a flood – how she (grocery shopping aside) hadn’t been too understanding of my current condition, how she could go from zero to bitchy in two seconds flat, how she constantly split infinitives.  Oh, and how she always left her fingernail clippings scattered on the carpet and the recyclables on the kitchen counter for me to take out to the garage.  There might have been two or three other well-placed zingers in there, but, in the end, all I could really do was sigh.

Goddamn wired jaw.

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Marc N. Kleinhenz is a gaming journo who has written for Gamasutra and TotalPlayStation, where he was features editor. He co-hosts the Airship Travelogues podcast for Nintendojo and has had his creative writing published through Alterna Comics and Asylum Ink magazine, among others.


The Secret of the T-Rex’s Arms
By Anthony Francis

Illustration by Sandi Billingsley

The paleontologist recoiled from the fossil, dusty camel-hair brush falling from his hand.  There it lay, Tyrannosaurus Rex, king of the lizards, a complete skeleton — clutching in its bony claws the explanation of how it survived with arms too short to reach its mouth.

He looked to the sky helplessly: then stood, positioning himself in front of the evidence as the camera crew for Father Dan and Reverend Bob walked up.  The cassocked Jesuit evolutionist and the polyester Baptist creationist were both so confident they had it all figured out that they’d sponsored this dig, filming it every step of the way.

This would prove them both wrong.  There had been hints over the years — wire, bridges, even a pick — but never a complete specimen, and so his fellow paleontologists had kept it quiet. But it was too late to hide the secret now.

With a confidence he did not feel, the paleontologist turned directly into the camera and said, “At last, we know the secret of the T-Rex’s arms: they were tool users.  But this answer raises more questions than we could have possibly imagined.”

He stepped aside and the cameraman moved in, jaw dropping as his lens revealed the unmistakable artifact clutched in the T-Rex’s bony claws.

A banjo.

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Author of the EPIC award winning Skindancer series (http://www.dakotafrost.com), by day Anthony Francis makes computers smarter; by night he writes science fiction and draws comic books. He lives in San Jose with his wife and cats but his heart will always belong in Atlanta.


By Colin James

I'm hired to drive. I don't advertise. Three people
are sitting with me in The Nondescript. I say nothing,
gaze straight ahead. One of the passengers in the
back seat may be covered by a synthetic cloth, or
affecting a look. My rear-view is tinted. I wait for directions.
The weather is hot. I leave the AC off.
" West on 95, 58 miles."
The voice is guttural or foreign. I didn't notice.
I have plenty of gas. I head west.
The night will cool us down. The land is just desert.
Some sounds are coming from the back seat.
Weird sounds, like a bird gasping for air. I have never
heard that sound. I can only imagine.
I roll my window down. It's easy not to talk.
The Nondescript sails through the cooling air.
"Left at the next tree!" I don't see any trees.
There is a dirt road so I take that.
The surface is remarkably smooth.
I'm still thinking about the tree.
I don't discuss fees. It's known I get a thousand, cash
soon as you sit in The Nondescript.
We come to a fence. A big fence.
This is not a cattle fence. Some acquaintances tell me
I'm lacking the sense of touch. I guess they're mistaken.
I feel fine. My front seat passenger hits some numbers
on his cell phone and a gate in the fence opens.
I am tempted to throw The Nondescript into reverse,
drive it sideways up some rocks, flipping it, fighting
these bastards off. But who am I kidding, I drive straight ahead.
We come to a cement bunker. There is a jeep parked at an angle.
I don't suppose that's significant.
"Wait here."
They all get out. I am content to stare into space.
The night isn't particularly loud. I don't hear coyotes,
just the beginnings of a hum.
There is a slight vibration in The Nondescript.
I get out and walk around the bunker. It is several feet above ground.
Steps lead down to an imposing door. I believe in dichotomy.
Nature works because there is order.
The hum is getting louder. My ears hurt.
I feel compelled to inform my passengers that I can't continue.
This will be the first. I walk down the bunker steps.
I lean on the door. It opens.
There are the men standing over an animal.
Eyes and limbs, torso vulgar.
They are trying to encourage it to assemble something.
The animal has the ability to move components without touch.
They are floating. I begin to feel stressed. I puke.
I stagger back up the steps to The nondescript.
There is something sitting in passenger seat.
I say nothing. I'm hired to drive. I don't advertise.

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