Chapter 3, by Amy Friedman

“I remember being born, Mama, I do!” Molly said. “I was floating in your belly. Then I was in a tight tube, and I was squeezed and squeezed until I came out.”

I smiled at her. I’d heard this before. “What else do you remember?” I said gently.

“The lights were so bright! And I was so cold. Someone hit me!”

“Quite a story for early in the morning,” I said, sighing inwardly. It was definitely time. “Eat your cereal. You’ll be late for school.”

“You don’t think I can remember,” Molly pouted.

“Honey, you were a caesarean,” I said.

Cat Stalking a Telepathic Canary, by Johann Lux

Gloria was sitting up in bed looking out the window. As I reached to touch her, I felt a sense of dread.

Outside a black bird was flapping its wings hard and fast, heading straight for us. It flew through the window’s glass.

The bird perched at the foot of the bed. Gloria gasped, then started to choke. The bird rose up and flew down her throat.

Gloria spat out feathers and curses galore, causing the bird to fly out and drop to the floor.

Gloria smacked my face, ending this dream. Then, from the kitchen, I heard her real-time scream.

Underwater Underworld, by Danielle Keating

The beach was empty, so I didn’t have to share the ocean. I had no swimsuit, so I took off my dress and went swimming in my mismatched underwear. It was refreshing until something wrapped around my ankle. I thought it was seaweed until it yanked me and I saw a face under the water. For once, having seaweed wrap around your leg was the horror it felt like. Saltwater may have blurred my vision at the time, but I swear the last thing I saw was the gates of Hell. Hell’s more watery than anyone would think.

The Chess Players, by Ian Fletcher

The best players at school, we competed for board one. I inherited it when Paul, a year ahead of Mike and myself, left.

We heard he dropped out, never going to university.

Mike and I went our separate ways, he becoming something big in computing, I a humbler schoolmaster.

Both of us quit serious chess.

Years later, on a whim, I googled Paul’s name, finding a little-used Facebook page, the profile pic a sad-looking bald man.

Single. 61.

Unemployed, seemingly, but a member of Coventry Chess Club, now a capable amateur player.

From my comfortable existence, I felt pity … and respect.

#WakeupAmerica, by Sankar Chatterjee

Two giggling teenagers, one wearing a head-scarf, were riding the metro. They were planning their weekend activities. Suddenly, an angry-looking Caucasian man approached and started to threaten them with racially-insensitive violent words. Stunned seated passengers saw two concerned white individuals stand up against the bully. Then a few rapid flashes of a sharp knife from the bigoted perpetrator and two bloodied lifeless heroes were lying on the floor.

The strongman never condemned the hideous crime, a direct consequence of his own bigotry during the electoral process. However, he also succeeded in insulting all the European allies in a recent foreign-trip.

Long Journey Home, by Bobby Warner

They started early that morning for the long journey to Widdims County to work for several days felling trees. Josh took the reins; he loved to drive old Molly along the dusty roads.

They worked three days, the sawyers cutting and they, the pullers, hauling down the trees.

Something slipped; there was much noise and confusion. And then it was time for him to take his dad and head home.

Morning broke as the wagon stopped in the front yard. His mother came out and stood on the porch.

“I’m back,” said Josh, crying. “And I’ve brought Father home.”