The Box
By Sommer Nectarhoff

He kept it in a glass case that sat on a black granite table in the middle of his bedroom. It was crafted of a jet-black wood. Its surface was perfectly smooth and polished. The metal of the lock was black as well; the metal had doubtless come from deep beneath the earth. My father wore the key to the lock around his neck.

And so had his father before him. The box had been handed down from father to son for as far back as the family could remember. It had always been with us. One day, when my father decided that I was ready for it, he would give the box to me.

However, he told me that I could never open the box.

I had looked at it with eyes of avarice my entire life. And he told me that I could never open the box.

But I wanted to; we all want to open the box.

I couldn’t wait. I tried to force open the box without the key, but I couldn’t crack it open.

I tried to smash the box when my father was gone from home, but the box would not break. I could neither dent it nor scratch it. My attempts were useless.

I could not pick the lock. I could not burn the box.

It would not open.

Night after night I lay in bed thinking of the box and what was inside of it. I could not sleep. I could not dream. When I closed my eyes all that I saw was the box.

I could wait no longer.

I crept into my father’s room while he slept and I climbed on top of him. He was breathing softly. I grabbed the chain around his neck that held the key to the box, and then I gritted my teeth and drew it as tight as I could.

My father slept on his stomach, and I pressed his face into the pillow as he suffocated. The blood from the chain biting his neck seeped into the white linens and dried on my hands. After he was dead I took the chain from his neck and put it around my own.

I took the box under my arm and went up to the attic. I removed the key from my neck and placed it in the box’s black lock. I twisted the key and heard the solid click of the mechanism inside. I opened the box.

It was empty.

The box was always empty.

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Sommer Nectarhoff is a twenty-two year old writer from Chicago. He is the author of “22”.


By Dalton Day

God is found napping in a tree & some folks folks find this disrespectful. I am brushing my teeth when I hear this on television & you are pouring dog food in the dog bowl. We run down to the tree in question so we can see God with our own eyes. God is wearing a dress the color of coral. God is being freckled in the afternoon sun. The folks who find this disrespectful are standing beneath the tree & discussing the best course of action. Somebody wants to yell until God wakes up. Somebody else wants to cut down the tree God is napping in. What they don’t realize is, while they were outside talking, all of their homes have caught fire. Had they been inside, they probably would have died. Had they been inside, they probably could have stopped it. You hold my hand. I watch the small hairs of your head tingle in the breeze. Our dog falls asleep at our feet, and dreams about a field so large, that she’d never see the end of it.

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Dalton Day is scared & an editor for FreezeRay Poetry. His poems have appeared in Heavy Feather Review, The Good Men Project, and Hypothetical, among others. He is the author of the collection Supernova Factory, released by On the Cusp Press. He can be found at myshoesuntied.tumblr.com, and on Twitter @lilghosthands.


Running Late
By Gary Duncan

and you're supposed to meet him at half-ten, but you're late and you're in one of your moods because Maggie's not returning your calls and you're pretty fucking sure she's left you for good this time, and then some fucking idiot in a Jeep deliberately cuts you off on Gold Lane Square and you get out of the car and you're going to kick the fucking shit out of him and his stupid fucking Jeep but he pulls away just before you get to him and beeps his horn and gives you the finger, so you get back in the car but you stall it and the bloke behind you starts shaking his head and looks like he might start beeping his horn too but doesn't so you pull away and drive down the high street and try to find somewhere to park, but it's Saturday morning and it's busy and you have to park miles away, way over on Bridge Street, because the fucking council in their infinite fucking wisdom have decided to pedestrianise half the fucking town, so you stop-start it all the way down the high street, then along Castle View, then down the hill and into Bridge Street, and you look down at your phone and you wonder if Maggie's ever going to call you again, and think maybe you should start calling some of her friends but you know they never liked you anyway, so they can all fuck off as well, and you chug along Bridge Street to the car park and when you get there it starts to rain, proper rain, and within seconds you're soaked right through and when you finally see Larry he's leaning against the wall outside the coffee shop, in a world of his own, in the pissing rain, and when he sees you he asks how's it going and you tell him everything's fine but you really need a coffee so let's get inside and out of this pissing fucking rain and it's only when you're inside, at your favourite table in the corner, that you look at him properly and you say to him what the fuck happened to your eye and he shrugs and he says it's nothing, even though you know it's something, his eye all red and puffy but he tells you not to worry about it because he knows what you're like and he knows you'll only do something really fucking stupid like last time.

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Gary Duncan is a freelance writer and editor based in Northumberland. His short stories have appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, The Pygmy Giant, Shotgun Honey and Alliterati.


Home Invasion Encore
By Donal Mahoney

- -
This time Wilma
is ready for the bastards
jimmying her front door,
coming back for more.
The first time she was asleep,
the bedroom light on,
the Bible open at her side
to John, Chapter 6,
"Do this in remembrance of me."
Tonight, however,
Wilma's lying on the couch
with the lights out,
the rosary in one hand,
her late husband's pistol
cocked in the other.
Jack taught her how to use it
when she was a bride
and tonight she will pray
for the men now
coming through the door
and then she will use it
in remembrance of Jack
and call the police.
With all the commotion,
she'll probably miss Mass
but it's a weekday,
no sin involved.

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Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/.

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