Fabulous Faye and his Fantastic Finale
by MK Cornfield
Arlo Faye walked to the middle of the stage, hidden behind several maroon velvet curtains. The curtains separated, the lights turned on, and Arlo saw his shadow. Emphasized by the bright lights, his back was hunched, his knees bent together.
Well, he thought, I’m not seventeen any more.
Arlo straightened when he looked again at his shadow. The tall, black top hat that rested on his head gained him several inches in height. He had worn the same top hat for the last fifty years—at every show, at every performance. It had faded in color, and the small tear in the fabric on the right side Arlo had patched with a single square of red.
“Hello, everyone!” Arlo shouted toward the theater, taking his bow. “Welcome to my very last magic show.”
The crowd applauded. Arlo stood, his hands raised above his head, his right hand holding a small, black wand. It was slightly bent in the middle from years of use.
Arlo performed his act. He performed with grace and dignity. He made a butterfly flutter out of a small, black box that had been empty before. He caught a bullet in midair. He hypnotized a dog to believe it was an alligator.
In the end, Arlo took his final bow. He heard the roar of the audience, and when the lights slowly rose up, he looked at last into the crowd and saw that every seat was empty.
by Cassidy Carroll
At dinner, my hair done perfectly and my lips painted Russian Red, we had been just another couple in a room full of people. He’d rested his hand on my inner thigh and I draped my arm over his chair to stroke his shoulder, his linen shirt scratching my fingertips.
Later, in the hotel room, we sat on the edge of my lumpy bed waiting for my friends to quiet down in the rooms surrounding us. I wondered, if we sat closer, would our arm hairs stick up from the electricity?
“Do you think the hotel washed this bedspread?” he asked. I shrugged and said he wouldn’t have to stay much longer.
I heard a knock on the door and my heart quickened for a moment, like it does from the act of being startled awake. I stood and walked across the square room.
I opened the door and Dana was there, her face flushed from the wine at dinner. “Hey Jess,” she said. “We’re going out to the old bar across the street, want to come?”
I smiled and bit my bottom lip. “Busy,” I winked.
When everyone was asleep or at the bar, I stood by the door again and waited for him to get his arms through his jacket. I hadn’t realized how broad his shoulders were until then. I handed him the envelope of money.
And now, as he leaves the hotel, I imagine I’m not just a girl who paid for a date.
by Stephanie Caucci
Nick pulled up to the curb and revved the engine of his Harley. I stayed hidden beside the wooden fence surrounding my house. I was frozen. Nick waved in my general direction, though he couldn’t see me in the shadows. A bedroom light switched on, my father waking up from the motorcycle.
“Aimee, let’s go,” Nick yelled with zero patience.
Me clutching his leather jacket, we headed out of suburbia and straight for downtown. It had just started to rain when he turned into the underground garage below the studio apartment he rented from a friend. We took the stairs two at time up to the fourth floor. I dropped my backpack, full of homework and high school textbooks, next to the beat up couch and walked over to his old record player. We debated between two albums, Blue Oyster Cult and Led Zeppelin. I won like always.
I cracked a window to let in the cool night air. Nick stood at the counter, mixing a screwdriver for me, and drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle.
“What took you so long? Did she find out?” I asked, afraid that we were busted.
His hands shoved me away. He removed his jacket and tossed it over the back of the sofa. I took in his blood splattered T-shirt. He set a 9 millimeter Beretta on the table.
“She won’t be a problem anymore,” Nick said with a smile.
Flesh and Blood
by Jordan Dedrick
Joe’s slowing us down. A herd of flesh-eaters is close behind us. They’re not as slow as you’d think.
“Go ahead,” I tell Jones and Levine. “I’ll go back and help Joe.”
Joe’s a brute, did some jail time before everything happened. No one knew why. I had an idea.
A week ago Joe stood close behind me as I cleaned my pistol. I felt him rub against my back. I hit him with the butt of my gun. He still has a bruise on his face.
“You got to move,” I tell him, “give me your bag.” He obliges. He’s a big guy, out of shape. Sweat’s pouring from his forehead and there’s a ring around his shirt collar, most likely from his bulbous neck.
Yesterday morning I found Laney, my sister, under a tree in our camp. She was dead, bruises forming around her neck. Her underwear was missing. I checked for bites, nothing. I had to put a bullet between her pale, blue eyes, before she turned.
“I’m tired,” Joe whines. The low drone of the herd gets louder. Their eyes are glazed over, skin decaying. They look like they’re on a mission, but someone forgot to tell them their objective.
Last night I snuck into Joe’s tent. I saw lacy, pink fabric tucked into his pillow.
“Hey,” I say to Joe. When he looks, I shoot him in the knee.
I reach Jones and Levine. They’re puzzled.
“Joe didn’t make it,” I say. “Too slow.”