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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
Balance
_
By Alison Baumy
Contemporary Cultural Differences...
_ By Ninni Siurua
Eclipsed Yesterdays
_ By Clyde Windjammer
Healthy Guy
_ By David J. LeMaster
Immortalis Letum
_ By Sophie Davis
Last Call For Salvation
_ By Angela P. Markham
My Fault
_ By Ro Thorton
Pacific Northwest
_ By Aaron Hellem
Q-Q Ca Choo
_ By Billy Pilgrim
The Best Laid Plans
_ By John A. Ward
The Ecstasy of Cooking
_ By Sam Nolting
The Girl With the Green Umbrella
_ By J.R. Earlebeck
The Gods of Houston
_ By Rebekah Frumkin

Poetry
Athena's Owl
_ By Amberly Mason
But I Have Never Known This
_ By Kaleen Love
Clouds On Your Floor
_ By Savannah Bobo
Crowded Lobby
_ By M. Blair Spiva
Ever After
_ By Bennie Johnson
Important Questions
_ By P.T. Bell
Migration
_ By Sarah Wassberg
Moon Goddess
_ By Kristina Diane Smith
Oldest Profession
_ By Ashley Polker
On Visiting Hay-on-Wye
_ By M. Blair Spiva
Sodom and Gomorrah
_ By Jessica Fannin
Wal-Mart
_ By P.T. Bell

Art & Photography
Jeremy Harker
_ Paintings
Douglas C. Knight
_ Photography
Jed Knox
_ Paintings and Drawings
May Ann Licudine
_ Paintings
Danny Malboeuf
_ Paintings
Alex Stanbury
_ Photography

Balance
By Alison Baumy


It happened, as most things of this nature do, long ago. However, unlike those occurrences, this happened in neither a far off nor distant land. No, this could only happen here, for this is the story of how "here" came to be.

It would be inaccurate to say that before everything, there was nothing, because that is not the truth, and as my only purpose here is to inform, there would be no point in lying. Now as I have said, in the beginning there was not nothing; there has never been nothing. Instead, there was chaos. A tangle of motion, twisting and writhing like a nest of thick black serpents, each connected to the other in ways unimaginable to any of us, knotted together in a jumble of blaring noise, shifting black shapes, and flashes light of all colors. It was a mess. Something needed to be done. And so, in a way typical of such tales, something was, quite by accident.

A lone figure, dark as an inkwell and as deep as a thousand galaxies, stood at the edge of this madness. He was lost, trying to find his way back to his own world, when, by chance, he stumbled upon ours instead, twining in discord, a demented and badly off-key harmony rising from the mass of mess before him in a jangling wailing howl to assault his ears.

"Damn, what a racket" he said covering his sore ears. "It's like being at a disco for the criminally insane." Something definitely needed to be done here. With a quick nod of self-affirmation he reached out, sending a wave of darkness pulsing across the dissonance, soothing the cacophony as his hands worked feverishly to untangle and smooth the knots of space that twanged around him. Soon he had finished his work, and the clanging and clashing melody of the writhing bedlam that the universe had once been had become a light, peaceful hum that gently filled the surrounding shadows.

He surveyed the scene before him, pleased with himself. "This place has potential,” he thought, staring at the stretch of space that lay like a blank canvas in front of him. It was unlike any other place he'd been; at first with all that movement and energy, and even now there was a tangible feeling of raw possibility, like it was just waiting for someone to make something of it. It was almost like a challenge, and he had never been one to turn down a challenge "It just needs a little something… more, " he said to himself. "Something… different. "

And so with that in mind, the man—whose name was Kayaku, but he was known more commonly as darkness—called forth his brothers and sisters to aid him. He could not do it alone, for there must always be balance in the creation of such things as universes, because without balance it would surely fall apart.

One by one his siblings arrived.

The first arrived in a blaze of flames and raging glory, radiating heat like a furnace fire and burning fiercely against the darkened background. A towering inferno of a man whose intense gaze could burn through your very soul, this man was known as Kin of the flame. Kayaku soon found him self the victim to that smoldering stare as Kin looked quizzically at his brother.

"Where are the others?" he asked.

Kayaku opened his mouth but then, as if in answer to Kin's question, another light blazed into life. Kin's analogue Kiyoshi—the elemental of light and Kayaku and Kin's brother—entered in a bust of pure silvery white light, that shined with the resilience of Kin's flames but held a softer and more peaceful glow. He was of everything good and right, Kayaku's complete opposite.

"Hello, brothers," he said softly. They nodded briefly in his direction.

The next three arrived one after the other, first Ayame of the ice and water—mother of the glaciers, smooth and gentle, hard and unforgiving, and one to be feared and respected. She was followed shortly by Sora, the wind elemental, all tricky, gust and zephyrs, fun loving and free, content to blow about forever without a care in the universe. They were succeeded by Ishi, mother of Nature, unmoving as the mountains, beautiful as spring, the lady of the forest. The three sisters said hello to their brothers and waited silently for the final two to join them.

That was when Nara burst into the fray. She was undoubtedly the liveliest of all the elements, and though she was not of the light as Kiyoshi and Kin were, her skin emitted a faint glow. She was the smallest and the sweetest, all love and warmth and spark, and she was dearest to them, the heart of their family. She was the element of The Spirit, the element of Soul.

They greeted her warmly, never noticing that the last member of their little group had appeared until he slid in beside him. He liked being low key, as it was in his nature. He was the most unnoticed of the elements, always last and least, almost formless in his existence, leisurely drifting through the eons. Lightning fast, glacially slow, he was solid and never-ending. He was Yasuo; he was Time.

Kayaku took the initiative, since he was the one who had started this project. "Now that we are all here, I want to know what you think," he said as he indicated the vast expanse of blackness behind him.

For a time no one spoke. They all knew that Kayaku could get in to those moods sometimes, and he was forever taking on new projects, fixer-uppers and what not.

Finally Kin spoke up. "It could use some work," he said.

(Turn the page)