Issue 3.1

Cybernetic Pornography Café

By Luca Penne

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Green

By Karen Carlson

forty miles outside Arvada the string quartet segued into something sturm und drang. I wasn’t familiar enough with the rental car to fiddle with the radio while driving, so I switched it off.

“What do you hope, what do you fear, what do you expect,” said Merida when I left the hotel after breakfast. “Best, worst, most likely. As long as you’re clear on those things, you’ll know where you are.” Her favorite paradigm, used with her students, me, our sons, anyone. A couple of years ago as a joke I’d turned her paradigm into an equation, complete with probability variables and positive/negative coefficients and put it on her web page. She thought it was hilarious.

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Dual Identity

By Gale Acuff

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The Great Chicago Fire

By Katie Berger

i2n Norfolk, Nebraska, population 20,000, boredom is both the dominant emotion and the one great fear, and coping with this calls for serious measures. As children, my brother Joe and I found a dead, one-eyed fish floating at the edge of a pond, named him Herman, and threw rotten crab apples at him until he sank to the bottom. We once took a bucket of sidewalk chalk down to the school on a Sunday and wrote swear words all over the kickball court. We climbed the basketball hoop in the driveway more times than we threw basketballs at it. My friend Kendra once dialed 371 (the town’s main phone prefix) followed by four quick, random numbers, and farted into the mouthpiece as soon as she heard a faint hello. I once kissed a boy after he drank rum for the first time. In his happy drunken haze, he fell in love with the tiny trampoline in his basement and jumped on it until he smashed his head on a light fixture. Glass scattered around him, he curled into a ball, sobbing and sniffling about the “stupid stupid stupidness” of it all. He moved to Kansas City shortly after graduation, and I don’t think he even came back to visit.

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Sitting the Death Watch

By Stewart Smith

i2 lie on the chrome and plastic couch in the hospital corridor, drugged by the fuzz of half sleep, listening to her fight for oxygen.  The cancer has its knee on her throat, but she continues to fight.  Metastatic carcinoma.  What a lyrical name for a death sentence.  The sound is almost poetic.

The gasp, when it comes, is loud, wavering, trailing off into a tiny gurgle at the end, then silence.  I start the count.  One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand.  Another gasp.  Louder and more labored this time.  The doctor calls it Cheyne-Stokes breathing.  Coma breathing.  One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand.  The third gasp.  Weaker than the last one.  Then nothing.  Sitting the death watch is worst at three in the morning.

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The Precious Thing

By John Riebow

the wallet had no definite scent he could link to her, just the tangy aroma of worn leather and perhaps the faint trace of powder or makeup. The same with the purse; slim and dark, it was an object any middle-aged woman might carry, well worn yet serviceable, nondescript and impersonal. It looked sort of familiar, one of the handful she might possess. Maybe she had it at the mall the other day, when they went shopping for his sister’s fortieth birthday gift. The black leather gloves were definitely a Christmas present but were still secured together by a string and had not been worn. They lay flat, creased, never filled, twisted or altered by human fingers. They seemed small, like a child’s glove, but she assured him they were the correct size as she put them back in the box and slid it under the tree. That was the last time he had seen her with them. The gum, strawberry, was her favorite. The pack was half empty and there was another full one. She had taken to chewing gum, especially when driving, ever since quitting smoking two years ago. She liked the satisfying crackle of gum that hard candy could not give. The dentist suggested the sugar free kind, which she insisted tasted like a sour plum, but chewed dutifully to keep her nicotine habit at bay.

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Zucchini

By Holly Day

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I Knew She Loved Me

By Holly Day

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The Steel Doored Room

By Jim Meirose

h1ildie fiddled with the ring of keys. None of them seemed to fit the first of three big padlocks on the steel door in front of her. Some slid smoothly into the keyhole but failed to turn the lock. Hildie knew this was going to be her only chance to find out what lay behind the steel door. It was after midnight, and once Nick had fallen asleep she’d forced her way into the cabinet he kept the keys in. Even though he told her she should never go in the room behind the steel door, she had to know what was happening. So Hildie tried key after key. The right ones had to be here.

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Wizards

By Witt Widhalm

i1 used a tall walking stick, leaning heavily on it as I made my way along the winding path that gradually worked its way up the steep hill. The hill was fairly typical if you happened to be a foothill on the fringe of the Luum mountains. There were numerous trees of various varieties common to the foothills this particular hill occupies. A few with big brown leaves, a few more that had shed their leaves, and several types of evergreens. There were also wild grasses just short of a foot high that had turned brown with the heat of summer. Clumps of dry scrub brush were everywhere, a wildfire waiting to happen really. Many of the clumps were big enough to hide a small horse, or, more frequently at the base of these mountains, some very large boulders. And there was just enough dust and dirt to be truly annoying when the winds pick up, as they had about fifteen minutes ago.

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