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

Stories & Essays
Copy Machine Repair Guy
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By D.E. Fredd
Corrupted Youth
_ By Kurt Kirchmeier
Dragon's Breath
_ By Lionel Cheng
Even the Damned Deserve to Love
_ By Anna Cortez
Gifts
_ By Jocelyn Johnson
House of Cards
_ By Steven J. Dines
In Doubt
_ By Stephanie Thoma
Lipstick
_ By Michelle Baron
Old Biddy
_ By Claire Nixon
Quinceañera
_ By Hester Young
The Fiddler and the Faerie
_ By Samantha Rae
When Barky Smiles
_ By S.E. Diamond

Poetry
2 A.M. Window Shopping
_ By Chris McGuffin
Alison
_ By Harriet O. Leach
Cloudy New Year's Morning
_ By Richard Fein
Not Easy
_ By Samantha Ogust
On Hearing Li-Young Lee Read His Poetry
_ By Foster Dickson
Prelude and Coda
_ By Richard Fein
Rainy Night Meditation
_ By Harriet O. Leach
Retreat
_ By Richard MacAleese
Silage Team--Machete Thirst
_ By Leland Jamieson
Starlight
_ By Richard MacAleese
Stolen Phone
_ By Jorge Jameson
The Abandoned Playground
_ By Richard MacAleese
Thought Provoking Baked Crescent
_ By Chris McGuffin

Art & Photography
Daniel Bravo
_ Paintings
Tove Hedengren
_ Photography
Peter Huettenrauch
_ Photography
E. Hunting
_ Drawings and Digital Art
Robin McQuay
_ Drawings
Iris Onica
_ Paintings
Pete Revonkorpi
_ Digital Art
Roy Wangsa
_ Photography

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House of Cards
By Steven J. Dines


We meet in the beachfront games arcade because they don’t like you going there. I let you lose on the slots, rolling my eyes and handing over change as required. The summers get longer and hotter every year. The Earth’s a pressure cooker. Just the other week, there was a tornado in Birmingham. You look good tonight, by the way.

We drive to a place even the doggers haven’t sniffed out yet. It’s the most secret place in the world. Exclusively ours, I whisper. Insects watch us through the rear window. An African child dies in the time it takes me to peel off your white panties. I snap my fingers, another, damn it, snap again, another... and your bra’s undone. Somewhere in the world a hole is filling up.

You don’t want to dance, you say. I’ve only done a few steps. Okay, what about some music? Yes! Oh, yes! And you’re headlong through the seat gap for the radio buttons on the dash. You find Britney Spears as I reach for the moon. The windows are steaming up.

You weep and tell me how you lied in all our private rooms. And how much you’re sorry. You’re sorry? I say. Can you even spell ‘irony’? Have they taught you that yet? With your cherry lips you beg forgiveness from my skin. I’m lost in the back of your head, stroking your hair, wondering who you’ve got in there instead of big old me—some scrawny teenage boy-crush, perhaps. I can feel the silver wires on your teeth. Nelly raps on the radio, Hot In Herre. Prolonging the ecstasy and the agony, I spell it in my mind for you: I-R-O-N-Y...

You leave the car grown yet diminished. I offer to drop you somewhere, but you’ll walk, you’ll be all right, you don’t need a lift or taxi or bus fare or anything else. “Good idea,” I say, smiling. “Buses blow up these days.” But you’re walking not listening.

I return to a house of cards and a blank, white stare from the PC screen in the corner. I miss the whirrs and bleeps of the arcade already. I switch on the television then fall back on the double bed that was too small then and is too big now. There’s a shallow concavity in the mattress, barely noticeable, although to me it’s a gaping hole. I like to run my hand along it: down, up, down. God, even the mattress can’t forget. On the TV, a panel discuss the ozone layer and global warming. The summers get longer and hotter every year. Last December, the tsunami killed many thousands of people. I make that a lot of zeroes. An instant message alert yanks me across the room to the computer. I wonder which one it is now. And if she’s lying.

Either way, I don’t care.

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STEVEN J. DINES lives in the granite city of Aberdeen, Scotland. He has been writing short fiction for many years, and has appeared online and in print in Voices from the Web, Gold Dust, Skive, The Beat, Blue Almonds, Dark Tales, Buzzwords, The Writers Post Journal, 63Channels, Word Riot, Noo Journal, Underground Voices, Rumble, Zygote in My Coffee, Wild Child, Double Dare Press, Outsider Ink, The Quiet Feather, Eclectica, Escaping Elsewhere, Cherry Bleeds, and in forthcoming issues of Delivered, The Hurricane Review, Shadowed Pathways, and Peeks & Valleys.

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