Wanted for Murder, by Ann-Louise Truschel

“I need to question you about your ex-husband’s death. Where were you between noon and 4 PM last Tuesday?”

“I was at Chez Pierre’s having lunch.”

“You had lunch with your former husband?”

“No, I was having lunch with Katy Lawrence, a friend.”

“But your husband was there. Why?”

“The deadbeat wanted more spousal support. As if I wasn’t paying enough already!”

“Did that make you angry?”

“Yes.”

“Angry enough to kill him?”

“No.”

“He was dead an hour later. That makes you the last person to see him alive.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

“Then who was?”

“The killer, of course.”

Negotiation, by Amy Friedman

“Your name, photo and resume would be on the site,” Bruce said.
Sue shrunk back slightly. “I’m not sure I like that,” she murmured.
“Why not?” Bruce snapped. He leaned forward, glaring. “It has to be part of the value proposition!”
“I could lose my job,” Sue said.
“What!?” Bruce said.
“They’ll use any excuse to get rid of me!” she said. “This state is at-will! They can do whatever they want! And we need the health insurance.”
“You’re so paranoid! This is fine!” Bruce yelled.
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you,” Sue said.

A Devoted Niece, by Emma Baird

Last night, I wrote to Aunt Maisy.
I know, most people email these days, but Aunt Maisy is old-fashioned. She loves a letter, especially nowadays when all you get in the mail are flyers for sofa sales and begging letters from charities.
I type faster than I write, but in keeping with the old-fashioned theme, Aunt Maisy’s letter is hand written.
It’s creative writing. Aunt Maisy has certain ideas about me. She thinks me loyal and devoted.
My aunt has two other nieces. And a huge house in London. And health that continues to deteriorate.
I’m loyal and devoted, alright.

Cloud Watching, by Russell Conover

Jimmy, seven years old, lay on his back in a field watching the clouds. He gazed up and saw a cloud form a dog. Another one created a fish, and a third became a lion.

“So, what do you think, Jimmy? Which one’s your favorite?”

He sat up, startled. No one was within eyesight. He stared at the clouds, and his jaw dropped when he saw the dog wink.

“This isn’t a dream, Jimmy. We’re your new animal friends from the sky!”

He gurgled unintelligible speech, sure he’d gone mad. But, at least he had cool new companions!

What Goes Around Comes Around, by Gordon Lawrie

High up on the cliff ledge, she studied her evening meal. She’d dispatched it quickly enough, and now she’d begun to dismember it, tearing open the black and white furred skin from the throat all the way downwards. Fury drove her to rip the carcass apart into largish pieces as she remembered her chicks from the previous year, each taken by this very same animal from their ground-nest. Never underestimate the memory of a white-tailed eagle.

She waited, looking around to check she was alone, away from scavengers such as gulls and crows. Revenge was a cat best served cold.

The Beautiful People, by Gordon Lawrie

Jane was confused by the beach dress code in her new home. The beach entrance notice stated firmly: “UGLY PEOPLE MUST COVER UP”. Some people were fully-dressed, others in swimwear, a few even lay naked in the sun. The definitions of ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’ seemed far from conventional, although most of the scantily-clad simply shone with happiness, while most of the fully-clothed had a darkness about them.

“How do you define ‘ugly’?” Jane asked her host.

The woman looked deep into Jane’s eyes. “What matters is whether you’re beautiful inside.” Then she smiled warmly. “You can dress however you please.”

Doors, by Eric J. Smith

Lock and unlock them
To hide or escape
To explore the next adventure
Disappearing in the distance

Reach for a light coming in
Leave holding a torch
Will you be bitten?
Lose an eye or a toe?

As you leave does someone follow?
Does someone wait inside?
Have you planned for good or ill?
Or is this thoughtless, without expectations?

Have you changed those locks?
How recently and well?
Do you dwell on what your passage means?
And how long until you pass again?

Do you bid someone enter?
What might they want?
Anything they or you
Can provide?