When The Strongmen Cry, by Sankar Chatterjee

Lt. Aadi Sen, a U.S. naval officer, was standing on the deck of his destroyer, slowly cruising on the Black Sea in dark. Soon his mind started to wander off, imagining him joyously celebrating amongst thousands of jubilant fans in his hometown. The football championship finally arrived.

Jim Sheppard, a junior shipmate, while passing by, inquired, “Are you OK, Sir?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Tears are flowing down from your eyes.”

“We just won a great battle.”

Perplexed, Mr. Sheppard asked, “In which war-theatre, Sir?”

Wiping tears, Lt. Sen replied, “In the football-stadium of Texas, crushing our eternal enemy Boston.”

The Final Step, by Adam Smith

Dirk heard dripping, but there was no way into the chamber beyond. Cracks in the stone allowed light through, and a breeze was evidence that a room existed. The witch doctor told him this quest was pointless, but did not block his way. He stumbled, tripping on a long white bone. Lowering the torch, he realized the entire floor was made up of crushed bones. It would have taken thousands of skeletons to provide enough material! The air began to smell sour and Dirk turned to flee. It was too late. Some day another intrepid adventurer would step on his bones.

Southern Justice, by J.J. Landry

The old Kentucky rifle lays in my arms as I prepare to serve some southern justice in her sullied name.

The wind sweeps across the river, causing tall blades of grass around me to sway from side to side.

My sights are focused on the doors as people begin to exit the train. Men with big beards and women wearing colorful hats step off first; then I see her killer – the highwayman.

The afternoon sun shines brightly, and a glare reflects off of his wheel gun.

“Just breathe,” I whisper, then pull the trigger – once.

“This is for you, ma!”

The Forgotten, by Robin LeeAnn

She laughed at my joke like normal, but that laugh could unwind me. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. She leaned back in the bus seat. “You’re such a weirdo, Chase. Do you know what would be better, though?”

“No.” I tried to control my emotions, but my stomach flipped. My chest tightened. “What would be better?”

“If I was actually here.”

She disappeared. The old bus seat stayed empty beside me even as more students gathered on the bus. The air dropped, too. Or perhaps I just noticed how freezing the air was.

I forgot she died.

Mailman, by Justin Wall

I navigate the corridors, scarcely making a sound. My presence is inconspicuous as I carefully listen with intent. From the high echelons of power, to the bile spewed by sycophants, nothing has ever escaped my attention.

I have seen the ascent of the chosen and been present at their fall from grace. I have witnessed sordid actions fulfilled by the adulterous, blissfully unaware that every innuendo and indiscretion has not gone unnoticed. No act is without consequence; all secrets will be exposed.

I am abstract.

I am resolute.

I am judgment with a satchel bag, and I’ve been watching you.

A Guilty Conscience Needs No Accuser, by Fiona Jones

When you already have a criminal record and the worst happens in a drunken fight, you must choose between confession and hiding the body where nobody will look.

High up in the gorselands, inaccessible to all but sheep, well off the usual path of walkers—the soil is shallow, but you do your best.

Then you worry: Water erosion … landslide … foxes’ paws … crows’ beaks …. You go back to check. Again. And again.

In the end it is your footprints, and your scraps of cloth and skin on the gorse bushes, that tell the tale.

Confession would have cost you less.

Little Sister’s Sacrifice, by Adam Smith

Jennifer squatted. A bullet ping-zinged past.

She hoped her brothers had gotten home with the loot.

She squeezed off two shots.

A return shot skittered on the pavement, sending sparks up.

She felt an explosion of heat in her shoulder and fell to the ground.

As she lay motionless, panting, she noted thick grayness at the edges of her vision.

She didn’t see the cop kick her gun away, or feel him roll her onto her stomach and cuff her wrists.

Her phone beeped. “Mr. Bunny is in the hutch,” it announced.

She died content, knowing her siblings were okay.