epilogue – Issue Two

The wheezing generators
Smother Mother Nature’s own gasps,
The crickets and the cane frogs,
But tonight’s moonlight needs a boost
Out here far from the Stuart Highway.
We need the lamps to witness
This multi-drawered wonder,
To have light to read by,
These stories and poems,
Each in a numbered drawer,
While our shoes stain red
From the iron in the soil
Before The Cabinet teleports again.
These stories and poems
Exhaling light
For those who dare
This far from the road.


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Antifogmatic – Jamie Graham

He hands me a cup of thick, green liquid. It resembles that awful mouthwash from primary school, but he insists I drink it all down. It tastes odd, somehow futuristic.

A haze arrives slowly. I recognise the end of a knitting needle in his left hand, that little red top with an undecipherable number.

“Knit one, purl one,” my granny used to say.

I imagine her knitting in heaven, still watching re-runs of Murder She Wrote with that inane half-grin etched on her weather-beaten old face.

Gloom starts to exist, in stark contrast to the lush, life-affirming landscape. We stroll in a meadow that leads to an oak tree, my legs as sturdy as spaghetti as we sit beneath its imperious form.

Sky tears roll down and he chats of his love for the warm drizzle pitter-patter on crunchy, bunched up leaves, soon to soften under foot. They even smell brown, if that makes sense?

Comforting words tumble from his bright red lips as we hold wrinkled hands – an old American tale that he learnt from his father – fearless young cowboys with no moral compass – antifogmatic and an ace in the hole.

He hands me a piece of paper with random letters and a hip flask with a rusty lid.

“Wrangler juice for my vaquero,” he grins as I force down a swig. A cool kind of headache envelops my eyelids as I blink at his notes.

‘Rep. St. Rep. St. Rep. St.’

Something Street? No.

A flash of that little red top with what looks like a number nine, but could be a six. I grimace and think of brave wranglers as he drives it in without so much as a wince, and the first blood spurts right out of my thigh, high into the autumnal air like a fountain of horror.

I remember now. Repeat stitch. Repeat stitch. Repeat stitch.

Just one or two more, then hopefully I’ll pass out…

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JAMIE GRAHAM is a Scottish writer and Seinfeld addict on the wrong side of 40. He’d recently featured in Pop to magazine, 101 words and (b)OINK zine. Find him on Twitter @jgrahamwriter


Image: qimono

They Have Knives, Don’t They? – Christina Dalcher

I tell my girls when they’re young, because younger is better in these matters. Before their blood begins its monthly flow, before their breasts bud and the peach fuzz on their legs turns coarse, I sit them down for the talk.

“Never get into a car with a boy. That’s the only rule.”

“Why not, Mama?” Always the same question.

This is when I tell them about the people with knives.

“They hide under cars and wait for you,” I say.

“Like the monsters under my bed?”

“Worse than that.”

I’ve seen them, the ones with the knives. They lie under car chassis with long silver blades, waiting for a delicate ankle, a glimpse of bobby-sock or a seam in a silk stocking. Their noses twitch and wrinkle at the iron odor of blood. They are monsters, but they are real.

They do not take the unwilling; nor do they steal unripe fruit. Somehow, they know. Perhaps their acute sense of smell serves as a compass needle to guide them. Perhaps their ears prick at girlish giggles. Perhaps makeup, lipstick and rouge stolen from a mother’s vanity, makes their prey sticky. Magnetic.

“What do they do?” my girls ask.

I want to tell them truths, but truth is troubling.

“They’ll hobble you, my darlings.”


“With long, silver knives.”

This is a lie. They have knives, but not of silver.

“Where do they keep them?”


My girls batter me with one question, two questions, more questions I stumble to answer. Where is the hiding place? When do they take out their weapons? What does it feel like?

Protection is double-edged, like the knives that deliver pain, then pleasure, then pain of another kind. Like the knives that make promises, that retract, that leave traces in the shape of my twin daughters. Like the knives that give life and take it away. This is why I lie about the ones with the knives, saying only enough to warn, never enough to damage.

As I gather up unpaid bills, line the table with three place settings where there should be four, wash and iron clothes for tomorrow’s work, my daughters ask their final question.

“Did our father have a knife?”

“Yes. He did.” This is not a lie. Not really.

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CHRISTINA DALCHER is a theoretical linguist from the Land of Styron and Barbecue, where she writes, teaches, and channels Shirley Jackson. Find her work in Split Lip Magazine, Whiskey Paper, and New South Journal, among others. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency represents her novels. http://www.christinadalcher.com, @CVDalcher.

The Stranger – Drew Sable

He watched from the shadows as hundreds of bright colours swarmed past: reds, blues and greens mingled with the duller browns and blacks that were always present. Constantly moving, they weaved and swerved around each other to avoid collisions. Some moved in groups, some alone. The lone ones might be easier targets but for the fact that they moved quicker.

Flecks of white swirled amongst the colours and he shivered; he had been dreading their return. Every year it was the same. Before he’d embarked on it, he’d thought they would make his task easier, but actually they made it harder. The colours all moved faster when the flecks came.

With trembling hands, he pulled at his jacket, wrapping it around himself as tightly as possible. The cold had penetrated right through to his bones. He had been sitting here, hunting for suitable marks, for hours. He had found little success. He wished he could do this somewhere warmer, but he was known around this town. They would move him on or, worse, report him.

He glanced up at the clock tower across the street. It was getting late and soon the kaleidoscope of lights which fell on the street would begin to go out. As they did, the colours would thin out. Later they would intensify again, but then the lights would come from different buildings and the colours would be even harder targets.

Rooting in his pockets, he brought out the result of his day’s work. It wasn’t enough. He couldn’t leave yet; he still needed to get a few more of the colours to notice him. He shuffled forward slightly, trying to be more visible without exposing himself to the wind and the snow. It was a difficult balance.

He eyed a potential target. A lone red breaking the usual rule of sole colours moving quicker. Clearing his throat, he leaned out towards it. “Spare some change, please?” Two eyes swivelled towards him from the depths of the hood but the red didn’t slow, didn’t reach into pockets. Defeated, he stepped back under cover.

He tried a few more times with the same result. The colours didn’t want to remove their hands from the warmth of gloves and pockets for the likes of him. To most of them, he was invisible. Sometimes he liked it that way; today he just wanted one of them to give him enough for a warm drink or two to see him through the first night of proper winter.

The illusion of warmth left the air with the lights from the shop windows and he shivered. Before long the colours would be out again, in skimpier clothes and coats made of alcohol. They moved quicker at night and their reactions to him were even less friendly. He would need to find a place where he was out of sight.

As he curled up in a darkened doorway, he thought he saw a familiar face appear above him. The eyes, so similar to his own, were unusually warm and kind. The full lips formed a smile before opening to release two words into the air. “Hello stranger.”

It couldn’t be her. She had been dead for years; that was why he was here. He tried to reach out to her, but he found he couldn’t move his hands. “Mother?” he whispered, his breath billowing out in a white cloud in the chill air. She leant down and kissed him as his eyes closed for the last time.

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DREW SABLE has written for pleasure for the last twenty years. This year Drew branched out into longer pieces of writing and completed NaNoWriMo. Whilst working on revising and editing the resulting novel, Drew continues to write flash fiction and short stories.


Image: Felix Mittermeier

Gran’s Biscuit Tin – Gaynor Kane

Borrowed from a cousin
hoping to add colourful leaves
to a bare tree, on the base,
Inglis Bakery claims creation;
a family bakery, bred locally.

Perhaps the crumbs
of the biscuits, eaten long ago,
dusted the lips, on faces
now nestled within
the tarnished silver lining.

Its sides are speckled
with rust, like the age spots
on her hands,
now passed away,
dots un-joined.

Lid trimmed at the edges
with dry, cracked, tape
curling like Autumn
leaves, in sepia hues,
as the photos within.

and topped with a scene,
not chocolate box cottage,
but a fishing village,
reminiscent of Clovelly,
Lynmouth or Hope Cove.

I look to the postcards
inside, try to find
a connection, discover
one from my Father,
a young man, on honeymoon.

They travelled to Dun Laoghaire,
not Devon, and from their room
in the Carney Arms
they watched snow,
falling like confetti,

become blurred with white sails
and sea spray in the bay.
I trace the signature,
follow the fancy scroll
of his T and V.

From my desk, it has watched
seasons pass by, old friends.
Now and then, I leaf
through the contents
hoping to put names to faces.

Examine expressions,
noses and chins, for family
similarities, then rescan
the back, still longing
for a lightly leaded name.

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GAYNOR KANE lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mainly a writer of poetry, she has had work published in the Galway Review, Boyne Berries, Atrium Poetry, Light Journal and other journals in the UK, Ireland and America. In 2016, Gaynor was a finalist in the annual Funeral Services NI poetry competition.


A Private Inconvenience Among Fifteen Oak Trees – Alva Holland

Fifteen oak trees along, in the middle of a clearing, on a raised painted concrete plinth, a Tardis-like structure sits, its mirrored aluminium walls reflecting the muted autumn girdling greens of the woods. An electronic reader pad flares its infra-red beacon through the soft thicket.

An access card waved over the reader instructs the door to slide left into the mirrored wall. The enclosure claims another user until it ejects them into the greenery, the door closing automatically.

Sterile walls reflect. Water and waste recycle. Wash. Don’t touch.

No steps to descend, no latch to lift or drop, no graffiti to puzzle over.

Fifteen oak trees back, the bunker lies abandoned, brushwood enveloping its concealed secrets. Stories and history languish within – dormant. Faceless memories bleed through porous grout. Age-old graffiti scrawled across the dull ceramic wall tells of unrequited love and Kilroy’s presence.

Gangling weeds eke through hairline cracks in the uneven stone steps. An inky- black hole yawns upward in place of the massive hinged wooden lath door of childhood. The old door’s burnished metal drop-latch used to clang into a square hasp on the stone wall, the noise reverberating through the trees – an announcement of sorts.


Railings, once polished and shiny black, are now rusted through and spiked with split metal shards. A cast-iron sign suspended from the vertical bars back in the ‘60s is long gone, the jagged ends of two rusty nails jutting out in its place.

A mangled syringe lies half-buried by a blackened bloody cloth.


Only the permanently traumatised remember this place and what went on here.

A broken corner of a rusty sign peers from strangling roots.

‘Public Conven…’

Fifteen oak trees away, the aluminium enclosure’s access pad glows red.

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ALVA HOLLAND is an Irish writer from Dublin. First published by Ireland’s Own Winning Writers Annual 2015. Three times a winner of Ad Hoc Fiction’s weekly flash competition, her stories feature in The People’s Friend, Ellipsis Zine, Train Lit Mag, Firefly Magazine, Stories for Homes, and Microcosms Fiction.
Twitter: @Alva1206


Image: Markéta Machová



 The Empty Chair – Laura Pearson

Nobody thought he’d be stupid enough to actually jump. It was just a game. A dare. Kennedy came up with it, and we all laughed and jostled each other, encouraging. Only Jones looked a bit worried. But since when did anyone care what Jones thought?

All we ever wanted was for something to happen. So we told him we were all doing it, that we’d done it before, that it felt like flying, like being high. Better than sex. None of us had had sex. Not back then.

In the queue for the ride, our loud voices created a hum of energy. It kept us warm as the wind whipped at our faces. And then we were taking our places on those chairs with their flimsy chains, shouting and twisting ourselves around until the red-faced guy running the ride threatened to throw us off.

‘On three,’ Kennedy called, just before we were lifted off the ground. My breath caught and, for a moment, I felt like I’d left it all behind. Kennedy, Jones, him. The way we pushed and bruised him, made every day a kind of hell.

‘One, two…’ I thought about doing it. We unbuckled our seatbelts, like we’d planned. I looked over at him. I tried to tell him with my eyes. But even then, I didn’t think he’d actually jump. Nobody did.

‘Three!’ I watched him fall through the air, his limbs flung wide. I hoped it was like flying, or being high, or having sex. I hoped he felt wonderful for a moment, before he came down.

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LAURA PEARSON lives in Leicestershire, where she blogs and writes novels and flash fiction.


Image: Free-Photos 

Fur Trimmed Slippers Are No Match For Freshly Polished Cills – C.R. Smith

Everyone remembers a celebrity’s death: Elvis, Lennon, Bowie — in my case Mrs Milford’s. And, even though I was at school when she died, I take full responsibility for her death.

She was a formidable woman, the eyes and ears of the terrace long before Neighbourhood Watch, famous for holding footballs hostage in her back garden. All the local children avoided her, as did many of the parents.

I remember her wrinkly face, the grey curls escaping the confines of her hairnet. For some reason she always wore a red polka-dotted apron. It strained against her rolls of fat when she moved. The image is still ingrained on my memory even after all these years. Guilt won’t let me forget.

It was a school day. I was late. My parents were already on their way to work. As I left the house Mrs Milford called across to me asking if I could climb through her window and let her in — the front door had slammed shut while she cleaned her windows, locking her out.

Mumbling excuses through a mouthful of toast I edged away from her before legging it towards the approaching bus. I couldn’t be late again!

Once seated I looked back to see her scowling after me, knowing full well I would be in trouble when I returned home.

*   *   *

After school police cars blocked our road, plastic tape corralling the curious.

The corner shop was full to bursting. Squeezing inside to flick through the latest comics I realised something was seriously wrong when the owner didn’t issue his usual threat to charge me for reading them.

Customers gossiped in hushed tones about the day’s events. I listened intently trying to piece together what had happened, my blood running cold as it slowly dawned on me I might be to blame.

How was I to know Mrs Milford would try to climb through the window herself?

Those fur trimmed slippers of hers were no match for the freshly polished cills. One slip pitched her forwards shattering the pane, the jagged glass slicing straight through her neck.

Her head must have bounced.

They found it in the garden nestled amongst the footballs. Her back door had been open all the time but being a terrace she would have had to clamber over every garden fence to reach it.

The police were in and out of her house for the rest of the week. After a good hose down our footballs were returned to us. I never had the heart to play again. All I could see were bloody dots everywhere. I can still see them now.

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C.R. SMITH is a Fine Art Student whose work has been published in such places as 101 Words, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Train Flash Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk Fiction, The Horror Tree, Glove Lit Zine and Ad Hoc Fiction.
https://crsmith2016.wordpress.com Twitter @carolrosalind


Image: Didgeman

Will You Wait For Me? – Ksenija Perković

In a twinkling of an eye, severe lacerations
furrowed the magnificence of ornament of her ebony
to silence growth, quicken mortification,
write an elegy,
…exalt once born in a furtive agony.

Out of demolition, the ardent glove
arose and seized the skull of creature innocent,
to stigmatize its skin with a diabolical mark,
smother the will to struggle
in a vehement resistance until it gave in.

On a topmost step where continuance
derives from nothingness,
hardened to doubt, dissuaded from timidity of sin
…sparkles in the sand, a flickering laughter,
I shall be waiting to …again, become embodied.
Will you …
Will you wait for me?

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Image: Foundry Co

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