Chapter 1 A loud screeching noise interrupts my shower. Reaching for my towel, I hear it again, only louder. I get out of the shower and towel off quickly. Listening carefully, I don’t hear the screech I heard earlier, and think to myself it must be nothing....

Blue.  Life is blue.  Existence, awakening sentience, all of it is blue.  Not black, nor shining brightness or anything, but blue.  True blue.  Once in a blue moon.  That’s a saying, right?  The blue of ignorance, wafting like…oh, what are they?  Those lovely warbling mountains...

Growing up in Lenora, nobody died.  Not in that quiet, dust-flavored hamlet.  Even with a humble town like ours, the small sadnesses you’d see every so often were gone, however young, old, or misfortune.  The hospital beds lay empty, aside from the drunks resting off...

Friends like Quinn Perser were hard to come by, especially in Stonedirt County.  He was one of those spectacular people, the kind you meet once in your life, if you’re lucky, that knew how to complement every aspect of you.  Held a good conversation, shared...

The first time was probably the least tragic, or at least, the least painful.  The least haunting, as well.  It was three years ago; my health had taken a nosedive.  Cancer, stage three.  I’d been a chain smoker since the end of freshman year of...

“And a double with cheese, please.” Patrick leaned in close to me from the passenger seat.  “Can you add a Coke to that, too?” I leaned out.  “Can we have a Coke, too, please?”  I looked back at Patrick, who made a hand gesture, pulling his hands...

The following is transcribed from a document located in an unmarked grave discovered and exhumed on the island of Skellig Michael.  The document is of particular note, because not only does it predate the monastic orders that would come to dominate the culture of this...

I’ll never forget the Halloween I moved to Westport. It was a rough year for me—just barely 12—moving in the hottest summer months to a new town in the middle of nowhere. Coming from the big city, the endless fields and forests were definitely new...

It had been a whirlwind romance.  Hakamiah Morrison had been head over heels for Delilah from the moment he first laid eyes on her.  He was not greatly skilled in the art of seduction, or indeed even conversation, so it took a few tries to...

There were three things everyone could tell you about David.  The first, the one everyone noticed immediately, was that he was handsome.  Like, Hollywood handsome.  He had a roguish charm, too, a disarming smile that lit up his face and made everything all right.  Men,...

It was just after dark, and I was standing by myself at an abandoned bus stop on an almost equally abandoned street, waiting in near pitch-black conditions for a bus that logically would never come.  Most of the streetlights didn’t work anymore, and the derelict...

Captain Saul Saline (also spelled Selene, depending on whether he was feeling salty or loony) took a pair of methodical, tottering steps out of the elevator and into the command module of his scrap trawler, the ‘SS Saline’s Solution,’ more informally known as ‘The Grimy...

The Ontological Vacuum Chamber had been intended to create a pocket of absolute Nothing, in the purest, philosophical sense of the term.  It was to be completely devoid of not only mass and energy but space and time as well.  This would not be like...

“So… you’re trying to cash in on this whole ‘analog horror’ fad?  Is that it?” the eccentrically dressed yet curmudgeonly old shopkeeper asked as he disinterestedly pawed through the jumbled collection of off-brand VHS tapes I had brought for him. I couldn’t say that I blamed...

The stink of cigarettes and stale beer enveloped me as I pushed through the door of The Last Call. George Jones crooned from the jukebox and across the crowded room, Sherry Carter balanced a tray of drinks. She weaved between tables, her red hair like...

Nine Months Earlier A computer programmer working at Simitrek, a software development company, typed at his office computer.  He looked at the stack of forms on his desk, then looked back at his computer screen.  Suddenly, his stomach let out a gurgling noise.  He rubbed it...

Dallas skipped a stone as he sat on the bank of a tributary of the Elk River. His aluminum, two-man canoe gently bobbed in the lazy current. His gear already loaded, he waited for his partner. He yawned, stretched his lanky frame, and scratched an...

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