He felt the blade scrape against vertebrae and sensed warm, sticky blood shoot out of the man’s neck, and up and over his arm, soaking his shirt and the ground beyond them. He pulled out the blade and continued to viciously stab and hack, letting out all his frustration, the years of suppressed rage now releasing itself into this one violent act, until eventually he fell to the side, both mentally and physically exhausted.

  His victim had stopped moving after the first two or three thrusts of the blade, but Charlie had continued stabbing anyway, desperate to finish this nightmare once and for all.

  After a few moments he noticed that it was very quiet, the only sounds he could hear being his own heavy breathing and the occasional hoot of an owl deep inside the woods as it searched for food in it’s nocturnal hunting.

   Charlie could not tell at first if his father was actually dead. He could not yet understand what it was that he had done……….



  Something was wrong–deadly wrong.

  Confused, with a line of sweat beading his forehead, Phillip McKenzie stared at his PC screen with the motherboard connected directly to the server. He wasn’t sure exactly what the problem was, only that the damn game was getting out of control. The characters wouldn’t do as programmed and holographic glitches were everywhere. This was added stress he did not need. He had six hours to fix the problem before the game was released online, and he already had over a hundred thousand paid customers with sales going to boom in the next few hours. If he couldn’t deliver by eight tonight that would be the end of Cam-Games Inc. He would lose everything, and he wasn’t about to be a loser for the adult half of his life.

  The screen went blue.

 “Fuck!” In frustration his fist thumped the computer table, sending a vibration through the thin desktop screen.




He sang the word into my ear, soft and taunting.

I groaned. “Miles, cut it out, okay?”

He slid in closer behind me, his knee, his hip, nudging up against mine. His finger teased a delicate curlicue on my shoulder, little figures of eight, and he gave a soft laugh that tickled my neck. “Whiss…perrr…”

I pulled away, yanking the covers. “Jesus, Miles! I’m trying to sleep, and you’re creeping me out! Knock it off!”

He rolled on to his back. “Sorry.”

But he was smiling. I could hear it in his voice. He was lying there wide awake, grinning into the darkness.

He folded his arms across his chest. His fingers drummed. “I can’t sleep.”

“I noticed.”

“This is going to work. I can feel it.”


“I’ve got to get the whole thing straight in my head, her whole story.” His voice was hushed, but his excitement brimmed as if he was going to talk all night. “She’s like the girl in that book you gave me–the creepy girl who poisoned her family. With the sugar, right? I can’t remember the name. Mary Cat?”

The words recited themselves in my head. ‘Merricat, Merricat, would you like a cup of tea? Oh, no, Constance, you’ll poison me.’ “Shirley Jackson,” I answered automatically, “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”




  My D-Day was November 16th, 2011. That was the day I was diagnosed with an incurable illness. After a year and a half of knocking down every doctor’s door I could manage I finally had my diagnosis. I don’t know what’s worse, the not knowing or the knowing. I cried, more so out of relief that I finally found a wonderful doctor who specializes in the disease. My husband held my hand tight and gave me that he usually gives, assuring me it’s all going to be ok. Anyone else in the world can tell me it’s going to be ok. I never believe them. But when my Chrissy does it always puts my mind at ease.

I’m a 36-year-old mother of two boys. No one else in my family or even extended family for that matter has this. I guess I’m the pioneer for it in my family. Lucky me. Well I always to be the leader and not the follower.



  Of all the things James could be focused on at that precise moment, the only thing that filled his vision was the stranger’s white knuckles as he choked the life out of James’s father. His father had it coming, of course, and James was a little torn between feelings of jealousy and admiration for the stranger who had burst into their home all knight-in-shining-armor-like. Not that James needed someone to save him. He had been more than ready to do the deed himself, and was unsure if he was grateful or irritated that the opportunity had been snatched away.

  In shock, he now simply stood to the side and…..



  My family was everything to me; it still is, I guess. Unfortunately, my family consists of only two people now. The substance of my life was taken from me. Ripped right from under me, like a Band-Aid from a bleeding wound. The burning flesh is still tender, just like the memory. It’s a day I try not to remember, but the shattered remnant of the girl I once was…she won’t let me forget it. The image plays like a scene from a film, forcing me to relive the worst day of my life……



An unholy sound rose into the air, ripping through the silence of morning and raking claws through the isolated minds of the citizens of Chaste. Cheryl lifted her head from the straw pillow and didn’t know where she was. She looked at the humble, wretched home around her and remembered the last thirty years all at once. She brushed aside the pain and sorrow, the loneliness and horror, focusing only on the penetrating scream that rose once again into the air. She leapt to her feet and dressed in moments.

Ever vigilant, ever ready to spring into action—it was a gift from her mother. This tenacious residue from her warrior life hung on incessantly. She strode from the house into the streets, where a third scream shattered into echoes on the living rock surrounding the city. Cheryl reached behind her for a weapon she never had been given and instantly cursed.

“You are an aging barmaid. Your warrior training is dead and gone.” But she could not shake the need for preparation that hounded her as she made her way to the center of town. Pallid faces peered from curtained windows. Every eye held terror and understanding. As the scream of loss and heart-wrenching pain rose once again into the air, she knew what all others in the city knew. Another child was dead. Another innocent had been plucked from her vine.

Every part of her cringed. “That’s seven on my watch.”

But it wasn’t her watch—never had been. “I am a bar wench, a tired bar wench in a shamble of a bar.” But try as she might to embrace this truth, the responsibility of…..



  Luna noticed how sweet the air seemed as she stuck her hands in her pockets. She took a deep breath, enjoying the feeling. Her walks always gave her a sense of freedom that she missed during the routine of her weekly activities. She let the feeling engulf her as she headed around the grass lining the park. It was her favorite part of town—quiet with less traffic. She could hear the birds in the nearby trees as she stepped into the park.

  Like every Monday, a group of teenagers surrounded the swing set, talking and laughing amongst themselves. Luna bowed her head to avoid making eye contact. A normal teenager would have been excited to see her classmates out of school; Luna felt anything but. She scurried past them like a rodent, hoping with all her might that none of them would notice her.

  But one did.

  One always did.

  His excitement showed as he jumped off the swing he had been sitting on. The last words spoken by the brunette beside him fell on deaf ears as he focused on Luna.

  “Hey, there,” he said, smiling as his stride fell into step with hers.

  Luna clenched her hands in frustration. I need a new route, she thought blankly as she glanced at him through…..



  “I am so angry that I feel like taking off forever and never coming back.”

  Ashley laughs bitterly. “As if that could ever happen. No we are well and truly trapped forever. You can bet your life that we will never escape from our family. If we did they would find us in no time and then things would be a whole lot worse. No we must think about this situation and work out how to deal with it to our advantage. Our father may think that he holds all the cards but we can be every bit as devious as him if we work together. One thing I do know is that I will not make this easy on him.”

  Fighting back my tears of anger I look at my sister Ashley in despair. It is like looking in a mirror because we are identical twins and not only look alike but very much think alike too.

  I sigh heavily. “I still can’t believe that he got so wound up over a comment. I mean it’s not as if we haven’t spoken to Luna like that before hundreds of times already.”

  Ashley nods. “The trouble is he doesn’t normally hear us. Typical that he overheard and now we have to endure this cruel punishment. Life is so unfair.”

  I sit back heavily and think about what happened.

  Luna is our father’s girlfriend and…..



  The universe – it surrounds us. Never ending. Never dying. It goes on even when its inhabitants don’t. People sit in their cozy homes thinking the minuscule bubble of existence that surrounds them is all there is – completely self-absorbed by their own egos. If only they knew how wrong they are. Each time someone thinks they have solved all the mysteries, someone else finds even more waiting for an answer. Sometimes, our universe is forced to expand. There is no choice but to venture forward – leap into unknown. Sometimes, that’s where individual stories begin.