Flash Menagerie

Wretchbane Midnights

By Erica Ciko Campbell

[In memory of my grandma’s first birthday in the great beyond]

Svengaar felt the eyes of every Syndragorean at the table bearing down on him like twisted knives between every rib, and the scorn they undoubtedly held for him took on a life of its own, hanging over the gilded teacups and pink-trimmed cakes like a cloud of noxious death—No, wait, that’s the Wretchbane, he reminded himself, chapped black lips quivering as he inhaled wildly through cracked nostrils and felt the pain dissolving as the paranoia increased . . .

In the City of Shrieking Ottomans

By Tara Campbell

Every travel guide you read before you came here warned you it that would be difficult to relax in the City of Shrieking Ottomans. Every time you sit down at the end of a long day of walking or shopping or sightseeing or whatever it is you do in all of these cities you’ve been visiting, in this city you can’t simply put your feet up and sink into a moment of calm. In the City of Shrieking Ottomans, the least bit of pressure of anyone’s foot on any kind of footrest engenders a piercing, horrific scream.  

It doesn’t matter what kind of footrest it is. From a true ottoman—a full-blown, round, upholstered, stuffed extravagance—down to a humble wooden footstool, any use of an inanimate object to rest one’s foot or feet will be rewarded by a bloodcurdling shriek . . .

Ouroboros

By Liam Hogan

Ira Hanser impatiently waited for the first glimpse from the observation port. There—L365: a bright pin-prick in the black velvet of space. His quarry, the final satellite. For three hundred and sixty-five days, three hundred and sixty-five—no, three hundred and sixty-six orbits—the Ouroboros had overtaken each Geostationary satellite in turn, completing one more circuit around the Earth than they had as it chased its tail. 

Ira struggled into the spacesuit. Alone, it was still a challenge, even after so many EVAs. Some commentators assumed his was a publicity stunt: The tech billionaire taking to space to personally upgrade his satellites . . .

Stitched

By Emilian Wojnowski

The abandoned hospital in Żelazowa Wola reeked of cement and musty clothes. I was sitting in the hallway, raindrops trickling down my yellow raincoat, and I could feel my heart ache. Literally.

Unable to stop thinking about Marysia, about her victoriously curled hair, about her scent of basil and complexion sprinkled with pink glitter, I was trying to listen to Chopin’s étude on one earphone—which was better than listening to the rustling of the plastic bag that someone next to me was crumpling, as if really looking forward to their visit.

Feasts and Frolics

By Lena Ng

Finally, we all got down to dinner. “My turn, my turn!” called out little Janey. She was all dressed up in her Endergore Day finery: a purple velvet dress with a matching purple bow in her hair. She was well-behaved this year, for the most part, and apologized profusely for the fire.

“Are you sure?” asked Mom, seated off to the side, hovering. “We don’t want a repeat of last time.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I hold it down,” Janey insisted. “It won’t be struggling for long.”

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