22nd Century Deal, by Kirsten Cameron

‘You got the money?’

‘Don’t I always?’

‘Yeah. Just making sure.’ Jim deadbolted the door. His head whipped back to meet my gaze. ‘Were you followed?’

‘No.’ What had gotten into Jimbo? ‘Ya right?’

‘Yeah, course.’ He peeked through one of the slits in the Venetian blinds, shifted his weight from one foot to the other and scratched absently at his head before suddenly shifting his attention back to me. ‘Why wouldn’t I be? What’ve ya heard?’

‘Nothing, Jimbo. You sure you’re okay?’

He sighed. ‘Sorry, man. Big shipment, just paranoid. What d’ya need?’

‘Some Maltesers if you got ‘em.’

Ashes, by Lysette Cohen

Branches scraped against sooted marble as the woman emerged from a deserted close. Darkened windows stared in empty judgement as she made her way down the sidewalk. Two men huddled together in a vacant doorway, passing a bottle between them. One took a swig, the other followed suit, their voices lost in the rumple of orange beards. Under the glow of a streetlight a busker sang in melodic tones. The woman’s feet propelled her forward until she was enveloped in memories of peat and salt she hadn’t dreamt in years. As the notes faded, she slipped back into the void.

Which Options? by Rodney Goodall

Okay, I need to consider the consequences if the deal doesn’t work.
How many people can we carry and for how long?
“Mum, what is for lunch?”
“Go away.”
Hmmm. If the deal fails, it looks like we have three months to broker another contract elsewhere, so who are those options?
“Mum, can we play outside?”
“Yes”
Who are the options?
“Mum, can we go next door?”
Silence.
Who are the options again?
“Mum?”
Glare.
Who are the options again?
“Mum?”
“Go away”
They have gone outside.
Now, who are the options again?
There is a tap on the window.

Jump Off Point, by Bobby Warner

It’s a scary ride. You pass rugged-looking outcroppings that could tear the cage apart if the wind should swing you over that far. That could happen any moment. Birds circle overhead, looking for food. You grow dizzy watching them.

It’s a one-way ride. It’s been a damned expensive trip, but it’ll be worth every penny! I’ve always had plenty money, anyway, and rarely has it been worth having.

The cage jitters to a halt, and I step out. I stop at the sign that says JUMP OFF POINT–and I stretch out my arms, sprint ahead–and do just that.

The Monastery, by Bobby Warner

Thurber learned of the monastery in an ancient tome he found in an out of the way bookstore. “I must go see for myself,” he said, and immediately made arrangements.

The guide who spoke no English took him from a small village in the foothills. They climbed into high places, he, the guide, and an interpreter.

Below the summit of the hill, the guide showed them into an ancient cave where kneeled a man who looked older than the world. “He has been praying for 300 years.”

“How is this possible?” Thurber asked. The answer came: “Through faith.”

Do You Seriously Mean What You Say? by Sankar Chatterjee

The newly-elected President, via Twitter at 7.02 a.m. in the morning, accused the past President – a Harvard graduate on constitutional law – of wiretapping his phone during last election. He provided no evidence to back-up his claims.

Ramesh Murthy, an immigrant Indian engineer, watched the TV President’s henchmen defend him, saying not to take his Twitter-feed seriously.

Murthy pondered, “But the hate spewed by the President during all those election-speeches against the minority groups was the main reason why a white supremacist gunned down one of my fellow Indian colleagues, shouting ‘Go back to the country from where you came from!'”

The Piper Beyond The Hill, by Bobby Warner

Dad told me about him, many years ago. Now I hear his sweet clear notes from beyond yon hill. I grabs my gun, my coat, my pouch and box of shells, stick my bottle in my shirt, for medicinal purposes, of course.

Then out I go, a-huffin’ and a-puffin’, climbing up Hard Scratch Hill. When I catches him, what’ll I have? All the pleasures my pa said he’d give–or a passel of demons lurkin’ in the trees?

Never mind. My mind’s made up. I gotta see for m’self.

“Wait up, Piper. Wait up for a curious old man!”