Smitten, by Adrian Slonaker

He’s encountered you in New Zealand, in a snowy Alaskan spring, and at a midpoint between desire and need. He’s spotted you on street corners and in airports. He even had you at 3 a.m. on the Las Vegas Strip. Your instant effect makes his nerves dance a mazurka, and he daydreams of your refreshing coolness in August and sensual sweet heat in December. He spends too much of his hard-earned cash on you, but he knows you’re worth it. You’re the first thing he craves in the morning, and in his sleep he mumbles your name: Espresso.

Another Chance, by Don Tassone

I woke up. I was lying on my back, looking up at sunlight streaming through a hole high above.

I sat up and looked around. Others were waking up, too. Some were walking around.

I stood up. I was in a cave, with solid walls all around. The only opening, it seemed, was the hole above.

I looked at the faces of the others. They were the people who, throughout my life, had been my fiercest rivals.

And now here we were, trapped, with only one way out and, then, only if we could work together to manage our escape.

Deadly Silence, by Adam Smith

I didn’t do it. Someone must believe me.
“Blindfold?” asks the soldier. I shake my head.
I loved that little girl!
“Cigarette?”
Why can’t I speak? Tears form in my eyes as I shake my head.
We were just playing in the woods. She had run ahead of me and before I knew it she had fallen into the river and was gone.
I looked for her for hours, until the sun set and I had to return home.
“Ready!”
I did not do this!
“Aim!”
I loved her!
“Fire!”
Even if I could, it’s too late to speak now.

Retribution, by Matthias Ahlvin

He sat on the bench, his back against the wall, feet firmly planted on the floor, hands folded on his lap. The cell was dark, spartan, the soft amber glow of his eyes the only source of light.

It had been his prison for 300 years, the length of his sentence.

A century of extreme power hibernation and scavenging for power units had paid off. Wrongly sentenced to death, instead, his sentence had been served. Freedom was at hand.

As the door clicked open and he stood for the first time in decades, only one thing crossed his mind.

Retribution.

The Face-Off, by Russell Conover

Sammy wiped the sweat from his brow. He was really nervous, since the final contest was here.

The bell rang.

He dashed at his opponent, ready to assert his dominance. The opponent easily dodged him and broke out his heavy artillery. The two went back and forth repeatedly, neither gaining an advantage.

Then Sammy used his secret weapon. He placed one ear bud in his ear and one in his opponent’s, and started to boogie to old-time disco.

Horrified, Sammy’s opponent fainted. The competition was finally Sammy’s.

“Simple as that,” he grinned. “Prom king crown, you’re mine. Groovy, baby!”

Over, by Eric Neher

The pain worked like an alarm, a prompt wake up call that exploded throughout my body at 7:52 a.m. on day 645 of our free-falling marriage. Somewhere in another room a woman would be sleeping off the effects of the less-than-market-valued wine that I had supplied. Her shoulder most likely throbbed from its sudden provoked use as she pitched the brass frame that encased the picture of two smiling lovers from so long ago. Today would be the day. The hinges grind their warning as I enter the empty sanctuary.

She has already gone.

International News, by Fliss Zakaszewska

The Canadian paper’s headline screamed: ‘Snow chaos. Roads closed, vehicles abandoned!”

Ethan swigged from his bottle of Molson Dry and glanced at the front page. “Sure must be bad to close the main roads.”

Snow swirled around outside; temperatures dropped to minus ten.

McGregor, holidaying in Canada, laughed. “Have ye no read the story?”

“Front page. Is there more?”

“Aye, page three. ‘Blizzards hit U.K.’.”

Ethan turned the page and read. “’Main roads closed as half-inch of snow cripples Cornwall’. They’re kiddin’, right?”

“Naw. Southern Pansies get snow every seven years – no snowploughs. Does it to them every time.”

#spaceman, by Natalia Krasovskaya

I come back from the total darkness into semi-darkness and dizziness. My fingers are holding some curved tube. I’m wearing bulky gloves covered with white crust.

A moment ago I wore a white cocktail dress, and my fingers curled around a frozen margarita. A moment ago I made fun of an old electric car. I try to look down. My forehead touches polycarbonate plastic of the visor. I’m in that old car I was making fun of.

I’m wearing a spacesuit. The Earth is nowhere in sight.

I’m sorry, Elon. I’m afraid, Elon. Bring me back, Elon …

Oh, Cheddar Man, What Have You Wrought? by Sankar Chatterjee

Notorious neo-Nazi Dick Spicer, from his underground bunker in the hamlet of Olympia, Mississippi, was furiously spreading hateful Twitter messages to fellow hate-mongers. A new message appeared in his inbox. Opening an embedded link, Spicer learned that a group of scientists from London announced the result (accompanied with an artistic impression) from a painstaking D.N.A. analysis on a 10,000-year-old male skeleton (believed to be an early European). Found more than 100 years ago in a cave near the village of Cheddar, he was dark-skinned, blue-eyed with curly wavy brown hair.

Spicer dejectedly lamented, “Fake news even took over England!”