Nana’s Fruitcake

Nobody liked it but every year she made it for us. She had to take the bus downtown to buy brandy for the batter, and every year the liquor store owner teased her as if she was a fellow alcoholic. It’s my bloodshot eyes, she mused as she infused the figs and cherries with brandy. She was never wrong about these things.

When the finished cake arrived at our house, Mom would take last year’s loaf out and slide the new one into the freezer. Once I saw her give it a kiss.

This year, she mixed marzipan icing to salvage the fruitcake. That’s what she used on Nana’s wedding cake when she married the liquor store owner last Spring. The icing softened hallway through the reception, and slid right off the cake like an omen, as Nana said. It could have been worse. If the marzipan had been too hard, the cake could not have been cut at all.

Nana still blamed Mom, and as she spread the frosting on our cake, I heard her say, You kids damn well better eat this thing. It’s the last time I’m doing this.

Flash Fiction by Cheryl Snell

Image by Adam Strong

Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and her Bombay Trilogy novels. Her work has been widely published and anthologized, including in a Best of the Net. Most recently her writing has appeared in journals from India, UK, Scotland, Canada, Greece, USA, Israel, and elsewhere. 


Yoss and Finn

It took two cursing, straining fishermen the best part of half an hour to land him, flapping on the deck, and when they did they never expected him to talk.
“I haff a key,” he gasped after some moments, “the key to someffing you want.”
“Fuck me,” Yoss muttered, “a talking fish.”
“Wait, listen,” Finn snapped, stilling him. The water was smooth and quiet, no other boats to be seen or heard in the morning haze. The big salmon thrashed, looking indignantly from one old man to the other.
“Iff you set me free,” it began again, and then paused.
“What?” Yoss asked. “You’re worth eighty dollars on the quay, size of you. This better be good.”
Finn lifted the huge struggling fish and slipped the hook from its jaw, cradling it on his lap.
“What the hell?” Yoss exploded, spooked by the look on his friend’s face. And then, “You better not…”

But Yoss had already tipped the fish over the side, back into the water. There was a small cut on his thumb and without thinking he put the thumb, thick with silver-grey scales, into his mouth. His breath rattled.
“Of all the dumb-ass…” Yoss started up once more but Finn shushed him with a look, shuffled closer on the bench, and very carefully placed his thumb into the other man’s mouth.

Flash Fiction by Geoff Sawers

Photo by Adam Strong


December, Muscle Shoals

A vehicle pulls in next to our hire car, though the carpark is otherwise empty. As
Australians, we’d call it a ute. Signage bolted to a nearby roof boasts FAME
Recording Studios is ‘WHERE IT ALL STARTED.’ People walked into this
nondescript building and revolutionized music. Wilson. Otis. Aretha. My husband
and I wait for opening, sheltering from the cold.
The driver knocks on my window. Greying stubble, puffer jacket, baseball cap.
Insistent on a chat.
He’s a bounty hunter, a rifle wedged next to his driver’s seat. He’s also a
drummer. Here for session work. There’s an ex. Kids he never sees.
The receptionist calls us inside. A pitch is made to the producer who’s leading
the morning tour. No, he can’t name any artists he’s played with. No, he doesn’t
have samples of his drumming. But he can drum right along with them, that list
of legends by the door! He could record himself playing along to some CDs?
OK then – he can clean…
The door slams behind him. I mention the rifle. The receptionist places a can of
Mace on her desk. We look at each other, uncertain whether to start the tour. A
peculiarly American suspense.

Flash Non Fiction by Liz Bennett

Image by Adam Strong


Trilling Thrilling Teasing

Emily jumped out of bed, pulled open the window, and leaned outside.
‘Every time I’m here. How is it possible?’
The alarm of her arthritic car, sensitive to the merest of movements, had announced again
its decision to turn itself off and then on again. A two tone tu-tu. A rise and fall Emily
claimed she had started hearing in her sleep.
‘And it’s always in front of your house,’ she stated, her voice not free of accusation.

A week after Emily told me she was taking her love elsewhere, I was lying alone in bed when
I heard the sound. That unmistakable two tone signal filling me now with sudden hope. I
jumped out of bed, pulled open the window, and leaned outside. Emily’s car was nowhere to
be seen but the sound came again. And again. I looked up and saw a starling sitting on a
windowsill directly across from my own.
‘Tu-tu,’ the bird whistled in perfect imitation, ‘tu-tu.’
Was that laughter in its eyes?
Trilling, thrilling, teasing my broken heart.

Flash Fiction by Kevin Dardis

Photo by Adam Strong


In The Wake Of Dead Soldiers

She grabbed the edge of the counter and pulled herself from the floor to something
like standing. 
The ringing in her ears would stop soon; it always did.
Her right side, though, screamed with each shallow, ragged breath. This was new.
She staggered to the table and tossed his dead soldiers—8, 9, 10— into a plastic bag.
The sour, yeasty smell from the cans wasn’t as offensive as when on his breath, when
his face was up in hers, screaming. Each clunk of a can was a reminder of that
night’s…what he called lessons.
Dinner was on the floor, smeared where her head had slammed into it. She scraped it
up, formed it into a ball, then flattened it against her palm.
He’d wanted steak. She’d laughed. When was the last time they’d been able to afford
steak? She’d offered to cook him a hamburger. He liked hamburgers. Not tonight.
She raised her palm to her face.
She’d heard raw steak was good for a black eye. How about raw hamburger?

Flash Fiction by Linda Gould

Photo by Adam Strong

Linda Gould is an American and long-time resident of Japan. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in media outlets around the world. Gould is the editor of White Enso, an online journal of creative work inspired by Japan, and host of “Kaidankai,” a podcast of supernatural stories. 


In Traffic

The guy in the white van is taking photos of his bare feet on the dashboard. Probably for one of those Japanese websites. I’ve been told my feet are sumptuous, but I’m not interested, even at fifty quid a pop.

The car in front is spewing out black exhaust fumes. The driver’s a big unit, wide of shoulder and thick of neck. I might have magnificent feet but I’m a coward, so I say nothing.

The oncoming traffic starts to move. A truck, a bus, an ambulance inch by. The ambulance driver is picking her nose, two knuckles deep. She winks when she sees me.

Dave calls to ask how I’d dispose of a dead body.

“How big?” I say, because size is important.

“Five-ten. Twelve stone.”

The beach, I say. Definitely the beach. Wait till it’s dark and chuck it over the cliffs. You’ll need gloves, and a balaclava. Let Mother Nature do the rest: the rocks, the waves, the fish. He says, “That’ll work,” and hangs up.

Dave’s got scabby feet and doesn’t believe in washing. He tried it once and said it was over-rated, like Breaking Bad and avocados.

Flash Fiction by Gary Duncan

Image by Adam Strong

Gary Duncan’s stories have appeared in Unbroken JournalFlash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and 100 Word Story. His flash fiction collection, You’re Not Supposed to Cry, is available from Vagabond Voices.


At the Coffee Shop

Outside, a window washer watches
me watching him, works his rhythm,
window after window, simulating a
seamlessness, tipping his squeegee
after every-other downward stroke,
coercing the water to run like blood
from each overlapping pass, though
of course he can’t touch my shining
smudges, the smeared prints inside,
seven-eighths of a glinting inch

Poem by D.R. James

Image by Adam Strong



Three drops of potential poison in 

the glass. Is half empty 

really the appropriate solution 

to the tumultuous night- 

toned deviations we weave 

through our smiles.  We act 

like nothing matters.  But “us” 

is a word too complex  

to dissect.  In the dark, 

we mix/stir/combust in sound- 

less gravity.  More fire 

will burn the skin.  Senseless 

is always the drug of choice. 

Poem by A.J. Huffman

Image by Adam Strong

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has published 27 collections and chapbooks of poetry.  In addition, she has published her work in numerous national and international literary journals.  She is currently the editor for Kind of a Hurricane Press literary journals ( ).   



A bird built that nest from wig bits, or human hair, hard to say. Must
have been some time ago. Before the storm, the bomb, the plague,
whatever it was, who remembers? No bird, no eggs. Just discolored
shell fragments and dried yellow goo. Depressing, don’t you think?
Talk to your therapist about that and watch your step as we crab
through the rubble; keep your beady eyes peeled. Alas, all these
broken bricks put to rest the myth of the third little pig, if you know
what I’m saying. maybe not. We tend to speak in metaphors these
days, thus disguising our duplicity, confusion, and scorn. Everything
doesn’t have to mean something, though everything usually does. You
want the meaning of life? That’s it, in a nutshell, hombre. Keep
moving, don’t stop. Feral dogs have been sighted. They don’t beg for
treats. That monstrosity by the toppled tin water tower used to be a
bridge. That’s right. I once rode my ten-speed over it. Nice view of the
city then. Still kinda nice, if you thin your eyes. That red fork tangled
in the rebar—it used to be a tricycle. Yeah. Another metaphor.

Poem by Salvatore Difalco

Image by Adam Strong



Iron is about the difficulties of being with one person, about not feeling slighted or making the other person feel


Iron is about the iron and phosphorous molecules that float between you

and Patrick in the meat department,

Patrick in a long white blood-streaked smock.

Iron is about a night with Walter, crossing a bridge

on your way to a club that later will crowd with flashing


and dancers, but right now Walter is warning you not to

   tell the girls

you’ve been in a war.

You remember sunlight, morning muster

those times you saw your double, same eyes, same rifle, in

   Chu Lai.

Iron is about sides of beef behind the steel doors Patrick

   exited through

after you two traded stories of your lives since high school,

neither one with a spouse or children, nor the wish to see

   each other ever again.

You remember a night with flashing lights and music

and Walter dancing alone to Steppenwolf.

Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications.

An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, USA.