ISSUE 10, May 2017


Cover Art by 




*Please enjoy our monthly issue for free. Be aware however, that this free version contains some formatting issues such as the abscence of italics. To experience the stories in their properly formatted versions, you can purchase a copy on Kindle or a print edition through Amazon.

Texas Awaits
By Patrick Winters

Patrick Doerksen

Patrick Doerksen lives in British Columbia. His fiction, poetry, and haiku have appeared in Aurealis, Abyss and Apex, (parenthetical), and the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2016, among other venues. He wishes his carbon footprint were smaller and his memory for large German compound words were bigger—and is glad that reading seems to accomplish at least the first goal.


The Race
By Alison McBain

Melinda plunged into the ocean, but Paul quickly pulled ahead of her using steady strokes. She really shouldn’t have boasted in front of everyone that she was the better swimmer, pricking Paul's ego.
           Her friends chanted her name from the shore, encouraging her. Even with lungs burning and muscles aching, she put on a burst of speed at the sound. It wasn’t quite enough to make a difference. When the sea monster rose up out of the depths, Paul was still far in the lead.
Darn. He had been a good boyfriend, too.
At least she won the race.

Alison McBain

Alison McBain is an award-winning author with more than fifty short stories and poems published. When not writing, she practices origami meditation and draws all over the walls of the house with the enthusiastic help of her kids. Once in a while she puts on her Book Reviews Editor hat for the magazine Bewildering Stories or blogs at http://www.alisonmcbain.com.


Missing: Friendly Spook
By Mary E. Lowd

I wake up in a cold sweat, but nothing is wrong.  There is no supernatural wailing, no undead yowling, no eerie scratching at my door.  Not even an unsettling purr.  All is silence.  As it has been for the last several nights.  I wrack my memory, but I can't recall how long it's been since I heard Cassie carousing in the dark, haunting my house and keeping me awake.
The fat calico cat had appeared after a big snow storm, nearly ten years ago.  Her orange and black splotches were faded like she'd had flour dumped on her, but her face was ghost white.  And she could walk through walls.  I think she was the spirit of a neighborhood cat who'd frozen to death under my house.  So, I called her Cassie, short for Casper.
Uncertain as to whether my personal spook is missing, I can't get back to sleep.  So, I get up, open a can of tuna, and poor the tuna water down the drain.  Cassie hates that. Even though she can't lap up the tuna water with her spectral tongue, she'll yowl at me for hours if I don't leave it sitting in a bowl on the counter.  When pouring the tuna water down the drain doesn't summon her, I get really worried.  I should have cast a binding spell on Cassie when I realized I'd grown attached to her.  Somehow, it had never seemed urgent.  She was always there.  Where was she going to go?
The next morning, I find a few photographs that Cassie had photo-bombed with her paranormal distortion and post them to all the local neighborhood groups.  I even print out a few and staple them to telephone poles, old school.  
That night, I get my first call.
“Hello?  I think I found your ghost.” The phrase is more of a question. “It's been wandering around my backyard all night.”
I throw a few candles, matches, catnip, and a collar, to function symbolically, of course, into a bag and drive right over, relieved this will be over so soon.  I had never realized how much I would miss Cassie if she ever moved on.
The house is on the other side of the hill, and the woman who called is waiting for me on her front porch.  She shows me through her house and into the backyard, where I immediately light one of the candles, ready to cast a binding spell on Cassie.
But it's not Cassie.
“That's the ghost of a dog,” I say.
“Is it?”  The woman peers at the translucent canine and shrugs.  “Oh, yeah, I guess there was a dog that got run over down the street yesterday.  You want it anyway?”
Over the next few days, phone calls and emails keep rolling in.  I keep my bag of candles and catnip in the car so I'm always ready.  With each call, I jump and run, ready to bring my friendly spook cat back home, and each time, it's not her.
Sometimes, it seems like the people who call aren't even trying.  Over the course of a week, I visit the ghosts of a rat, two squirrels, a deer, a Roomba, and a very cranky old man who won't give up his favorite seat at the local coffee shop.  How anyone could mistake any of these ghosts for a friendly little cat ghost is beyond me.
Over the next month, I get to know every haunted house and wandering specter in the neighborhood.  There are a lot more spooks around than I'd realized before beginning this search for Cassie.  
With every phone call that begins, “I saw your ad about the missing ghost…” my heart leaps, and my tongue stumbles to say the right polite things, wading through the conversation until some clue gives away that, yet again, the ghost is not Cassie.  I have to stay polite.  The people who call mean well, and maybe someday, one of them will have really found her.
At night, I wander the neighborhood, watching for feline-shaped shimmers and am disappointed every time I see one, only to realize the shadowy figure is opaque, solid, alive.
As the months pass, I start to believe that Cassie has moved on to another plane, finally resigned herself to her horrible death and transcended to a feline heaven or embodiment in a new life.  She'd make an excellent raccoon.
Or maybe, Cassie didn't think I was scared enough by her anymore and has moved on to haunting someone who's still startled by her piercing yowls and gets too rattled to sleep when she claws at the door.
I miss her restless midnight clawing.
Eventually, I get a kitten, a little orange tabby who I call Ally.  He claws at the doors, but he never does it as long as Cassie used to.  When he drinks the tuna water, I think about how loudly Cassie would have yowled to see another cat drink her fishy offering.
I dream about moaning spectral meows and wake to silence, Ally curled up peacefully at the end of the bed, warm at my feet, instead of walking through me, passing by like a cold wind.
This is how Cassie haunts me now.

Mary E. Lowd

Mary E. Lowd writes stories and collects creatures. She’s had three novels and more than seventy short stories published so far. Her fiction has won an Ursa Major Award and two Cóyotl Awards. Meanwhile, she’s collected a husband, daughter, son, bevy of cats and dogs, and the occasional fish. The stories, creatures, and Mary live together in a crashed spaceship disguised as a house, hidden in a rose garden in Oregon. Learn more at www.marylowd.com.


Alchemy
By Cindar Harrell

Albin stared at the book. Brushing a lock of his golden hair back, he drew the symbols he saw on the pages and then rechecked his work. This was going to work.
It has to.
He had been practicing for months. Well, years really. His whole life had been spent training for this. Now it was time. His other attempts were all in the past. Although failures, they were just the warm-up. This was the real thing. Before, he had been missing the primary ingredient, the one thing that made all the difference. But now he had it.
This will work.
The words cycled through his head like a mantra. Like a prayer to whatever gods would listen. Images of his sister drifted into his mind, mingling with his internal chant.
She wouldn’t like what he was about to do, she valued sorcery over science. She was always his opposite.
Science destroyed you, and science will fix you. I will fix you.
He had always blamed himself for her death, even though deep down he knew he couldn’t have stopped it. The image of her consumed by flames still haunted him at night. However, he wasn’t responsible for what she had become. What she was now.
Inhuman.
He would have given anything to bring her back, but he was no fool. He knew that was dead stayed that way, and there was nothing you could do to change that.
But someone else had other ideas.
They resurrected her body, but not her soul. She may still look like his sister, talk like her, but it wasn’t her. There was a darkness inside her.
But he was going to fix it. He would bring her back right. He had studied both alchemy and magic, searching for a way to remove the darkness from his beloved sister. It was all a matter of heart.
I can do this.
Taking a knife made of the finest steel he could afford, he heated the blade to a burning red in the flames of the brazier standing next to his work desk. Carefully, he carried the blazing knife to the center of the large room. Kneeling, he used it to carve the symbols from the book, the symbols he had drawn and redrawn a thousand times, into the dusty planks of the floor.
When he was finished, he poured the required ingredients on the floor where he had drawn the symbols.
Now, for the reactive agent.
He took a flask from his desk, careful not to spill the precious liquid inside, and carried it to the symbol. Holding it out at arm's length, he poured it over the symbol and other ingredients.
Come on… come on…
He watched as the mound of granulated material slowly took form.
“Yes!”
His eyes widened as the structure began to glow inside the carved circle. When the light faded, he picked up the solidified object. He sighed and threw the small figure onto the ever-growing pile by his desk.
If it takes my entire life, I will get this right… One day.
Once again he had made a heart of bronze instead of gold. 

Cindar Harrell

Cindar Harrell loves fairy tales, especially ones with a dark twist. She is currently writing a series of erotic short fairy tale retellings. Her released stories can be found on Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CindarHarrell/ and visit her blog, which she promises to try and update more often, https://cindarharrell.wordpress.com/.



The Mists
By Katta Hules



Randy Hulshizer

Randy Hulshizer is a writer and editor living in beautiful southeastern Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia, arguably one of the most historic cities in the United States. His over-educated brain, two dogs, wife, and daughter push him a little closer each day to the madness that fuels his science fiction and fantasy writing. In addition to his writing, Randy is editor-in-chief at Empyreome, a quarterly online speculative fiction magazine. You can find Randy online at https://twitter.com/randyhulshizer.


About the Editor:
Madeline L. Stout

Madeline L. Stout started writing when she was a little girl and completed her first full-length novel at the age of 15. Mostly, she loves creating fantasy worlds filled with beautiful creatures and strong heroines. When her husband insists she takes a break from writing, she enjoys reading and gaming. She started Fantasia Divinity to give back to the writing community and to help spread great stories. Madeline is the author of the children’s series Once Upon a Unicorn. Volume one will be available January 20th, 2017.

Visit her website to check out her latest projects.


Want to know more? Madeline is featured in an interview by Cathleen Townsend, where she discusses the magazine and her writing.