ISSUE 3, October 2016



​Flash Fiction Edition


Cover Art by Shardel

Editorial: This is Halloween
By Madeline L. Stout

October is here at last, and with it the start of my favorite time of year. Really, October is my favorite month. The leaves start to turn beautiful shades of red and gold, the wind gets an extra chill, pumpkins are suddenly everywhere, and everything smells like cinnamon. The next three months are bliss. At the end of October you have Halloween, November holds Thanksgiving, and December is home to Christmas.

Of all of the holidays though, Halloween is probably my favorite. It is the one time of year when no one will think less of you for dressing up in costumes and stuffing your face full of chocolate. In October you can be anyone you want to be, from Batman to Twilight Sparkle to any princess of your choosing. And no one will even blink at that old dusty coffin just hanging out in your living room, or wonder why your yard is littered with gravestones. Try putting a coffin in your house in April and invite some friends over. Go ahead. Believe me, it won’t go over well. All things murderous, macabre, and monstrous are now all OK for one month. So everyone have a horrifically splendid Halloween!

Here are some stories to start off your month. Ranging from horrifying to tragic to fantasy, I think there is something for everyone in this month’s issue.

First, in “One Way” by Sara Codair, a young woman fights to break free of her own personal hell, the only way she knows how.

Next we have “The Last Train” by Charlotte McCormac, a piece about a couple trying to flee the Nazis and escape to Paris.

In “The Paper” by Deniz Besim, a couple of girls visit a gypsy, both receiving a paper and strict instructions that if not followed, can have dire consequences.

“Help Me, Batman” by Metancera Wolf, proves once again that no good deed goes unpunished when a woman tries to help a lost child find his mother.

“Banshee” by Cindar Harrell, is a short drabble about one of Ireland’s most terrifying creatures.

Then, in “Of Joy and Sorrow” by Eddie D. Moore, a woman reflects on the tragedy of her past as she sews a gown from the tattered remains of her wedding dress.

In “A Door to Different Worlds” by Tamoha Sengupta, a young girl rebels against her family’s traditional magic to pursue her own, ignoring their warnings.

Finally, in “Layla” by Chris Clement-Green, a prodigy with a gift for telepathy learns that different does not always mean bad and that those less gifted deserve respect too.

I hope you all enjoy this month’s stories!



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.


One Way
By Sara Codair

Annabel realized her scarf had slipped when she saw the man staring at her throat. His eyes were wide, like he was staring at an abandoned kitten, not a thirty-something-year-old waitress. She suppressed a sigh, forced her fake smile to stay, and poured his coffee. After returning the pot to its stand, she rushed into the bathroom where she found the pink silk had indeed come untied.
Finger-shaped bruises wrapped around her throat like a kindergartener’s attempt to give someone a snake tattoo. Her windpipe tightened as she traced them, remembering how he slammed her into a wall, choking her with his sausage-like fingers. She took a few deep breaths then tied her scarf into a loose, bruise-concealing bow.
              Looking like a proper birthday gift, she returned to the restaurant’s busy floor. She took orders, served food, smiled, flirted, and poured coffee. People thought she was the sweetest thing, unless they saw her neck, like the man at table five. That one glimpse had transformed her from a perky server to a damsel in need of saving. When she cleared his table, she wasn’t surprised to see a note with a phone number buried beneath a generous tip. It happened whenever a certain type of customer saw her battle wounds. She crumpled both into her pants pocket instead of her apron and snapped at the next customer who asked for a refill.
              The meddling busybodies meant well, but their efforts made Annabel feel more helpless than he did.  She was sick of it. No counselor or cop could protect her from what would happen if she left him. There was only one way out.
***
              At 3 p.m., she walked into the apartment exhausted after nine hours on her feet. Striping off her soiled blouse, she donned a t-shirt and got to her chores. If he noticed one speck of dust, he would holler and throw things, making a mess of both her and the house. The last thing she needed were more injuries to hide.
              The old radio crackled to life with 80’s pop and she set to her task with more enthusiasm than ever. Her chest bubbled with excitement when she began to make the apple pie that would be his dessert tonight. He loved apple pie. If she made it good enough, he usually gave her a night off from the rough sex he swore was key to a good night’s sleep. This pie was going to be the best. Her privates would enjoy the vacation.
***
              The smell of apples and crust filled the house. Annabel was satisfied that the adscititious ingredients didn’t affect the scent. Her stomach growled, but tonight, she’d happily let him eat the whole thing.
              She smiled when she heard feet stomping up the stairs. She greeted him at the door in a low cut silk blouse that left all her wounds exposed. Grinning at his handy work, he grabbed her ass and smothered her mouth with his.
              “Do I smell apple pie?” he growled letting her go.
              “I wanted to make you something special,” she purred.
              He grinned. “And what’s the main course?”
              “Your favorite: pot roast and potatoes.”
              His stomach rumbled. He walked past her without a thank you then pissed with the bathroom door open. He didn’t flush or wash his hands, but he grabbed her ass again as he passed on his way to the dinner table, where he sat, waiting for his beer and meat.
              She served him with the same fake smiles, flirtatious touches and quick refills that she normally reserved for patrons at the diner.
“Annabel,” he smiled. “You’re being such a good girl tonight.”
              Grinning, she slid a large slice of apple pie in front of him. At first, he shoved big spoonfuls into his mouth like one of the machines at a construction site working double time to meet a deadline. He slowed when he started coughing. He poured beer down his throat to calm it. The coughing only got harder and harder until he fell forward, twitching. His blue face slammed into the pie, spraying juice and drool across the table. His pants turned brown before he finally stopped moving.
***
              Annabel’s chest felt light. Her face lit up with the most genuine smile she had felt in years. She packed a bag, left that shitty apartment and never looked back.



Sara Codair

Sara Codair lives in a world of words: she writes fiction whenever she has a free moment, teaches writing at a community college and is known to binge read fantasy novels. When she manages to pry herself away from the words, she can often be found hiking, swimming, gardening or telling people to save the bees. Her stories are scattered across a variety of publications, but she is looking forward to seeing them printed in anthologies like Dark Magic: Witches, Hackers and Robots, 100 Voices and It's All Trumped Up. You can learn more about Sara and her words at https://saracodair.com/.


The Last Train
By Charlotte McCormac

Muted and enveloped in deep fog, the last train gave Céleste and Matéo only a cruel glimpse of freedom. They had been lost in the thickening miasma for hours before they had found the station and it was imperative that they left Paris before the curfew. Matéo began to contemplate the thought of missing the train, although this only seemed to make time move faster. The roman numerals ran on fast forward, while Céleste and Matéo were trapped in slow motion. It was only when the smoke from the train began to blend with the fog that Céleste and Matéo realised it was too late - the train was pulling away.
The tower clock hit eleven, signalling the Nazi curfew. Each chime sounded with a resonance of indescribable anguish. A sign on the front of the station read in black, block capitals: 'Jews prohibited after 11pm.' Matéo and Céleste advanced slowly to platform 6B, where the next train departing Paris was due to leave. They had no option now, other than to catch the next train unnoticed. Matéo noted the stone face of the station watching them. He bitterly wondered how much time he had left before his liberty belonged to the Nazis. The prison-like station offered no door of escape now, no dream of parole or emancipation.
As a Jewish man standing in the midst of an Aryan platform, to be inconspicuous was impossible. Nazi eyes were upon them instantly. As the murmur of rumour permeated the air, Matéo felt a biting paroxysm, convulsing like the stab of a frozen blade. They had been noticed. Wretchedness clung to his being like a wet garment. The officers were closing in, staring at them in mockery, merging into a mass of nightmarish dread. The tracks of despondency stretched out endlessly before them. Matéo fumbled in his bag, pretending to search for his work permit. A defining piece of paper that he would never own. A paper as delicate as himself; as easily lost, as easily damaged to the extent that its origins could no longer be comprehensible.
From all directions on the platform, Nazi officers moved closer and closer to Matéo and Céleste, each like a spider preparing to seize a fly at the centre of its cosmic loom. Céleste knew that this was to be her last few seconds with Matéo. She gripped him tightly, pulling him into her embrace.
Matéo ran his fingers lightly over the rubies that adorned Céleste's neck, each like a drop of her untainted blood, painfully reminding him that his own was impure. Matéo knew that freedom could still be hers.
"You can survive this," he whispered to her, although his voice shook with every word.         "That's all I want. You can do this without me."
A lone tear ran down Céleste's face. She was as white as the virgin roses that she had held on their wedding day. Numbness seeped through her being. She wanted nothing more than to change the grasp of inevitability. Matéo was wrong. As every moment of their marriage passed through her mind, Céleste could not have been more certain that there was nothing she wanted to do without him. She was not prepared to lose twenty years of marriage to fulfil an Aryan ideology.
One of the officers tore the bag from Matéo; he emptied its contents onto the platform. No sign of a permit. He smiled contemptuously to the others, as if to assert that they had won. Even the melancholy shadows could not grant privacy to Matéo as he began to weep tears of uncontrollable torment.
"I love you," Céleste uttered, almost silently, pulling him back into her embrace.
Their lips met, blue with the bitter cold, for no more than a moment. During that split second, Céleste allowed herself to focus only on Matéo. It was the deafening sound of an approaching train that brought Céleste back to her senses.
"I love you too." Matéo could barely hear himself against the screaming of the train, yet he felt engulfed by excruciating silence.
The train darted towards them through the impending darkness like an arrow. No longer able to control the distortion within his mind, Matéo fell to the mercy of unconsciousness.
As the train hissed and screeched, Céleste became aware of two officers reaching towards Matéo, about to take him from her. Their touch affrighted her as if it were the sting of a serpent.
A blind thought overcame her, elusive as the faint fragrance of dying flowers. With Matéo unconscious in her arms, Céleste had never felt more alone. Fragments of his last words echoed through her mind:
"You can do this without me."
It suddenly occurred to Céleste that perhaps he had been trying to reassure her. Maybe he knew as well as she did that she would never overcome the grief of losing him. Céleste felt as though she was drowning in a sea of darkness, a gaping current pulling her in deeper as she flailed wildly. She knew that she must give in to the darkness. She knew that everything beautiful must drift away sooner or later. Still embracing Matéo, Céleste forced herself over the platform edge. Falling like scarlet poppies, their entwined beings dropped with a dull thud onto the rails, shattering their lives as one. As the Nazis stopped still in disbelief, Celeste and Mateo's love dissolved into the purple flush of sunset.




Charlotte McCormac

​Charlotte McCormac is a 20-year-old student studying English in Birmingham, England. She enjoys blogging and making scrapbooks.


The Paper
By Deniz Besim

“And what is your name, madam?”
The girl sits on the wooden stool - the only seat available - within the small, mystical room. Incense sticks burn as the girl turns her nose up at the exotic-smelling aroma, finding it a tad too strong for her liking. The psychic gypsy across her has her head tilted up expectantly; her wild, black hair cascading around her shoulders as her striking deep blue eyes stare back at the girl, still awaiting the reply.
“Liz,” replies the girl.
“Ah…” the psychic says.  “Wait a minute.”  She stares at the crystal ball in front of her, waving her arms around it and her glare penetrates into it.  “I do see something... yes…”
Liz licks her lips, “What's that?”
“Terrible! Something truly terrible.”
Liz raises an eyebrow in bemusement, half believing the vision the psychic has just seen. “What is it?”
“Give me your palms too, my dear,” she says. “We must be sure.”
Liz thrusts her hands forward, her eyes darting back and forth between her palms and the psychic concentrating.
“Terrible! Just terrible” Cries the gypsy. She shakes her head, making her hooped earrings dart back and forth. “However,” she says staring into Liz's slightly frightened eyes, “something can be done about this. Don't worry too much, I will do my best to protect you from this happening.”
“What's happening?” asks Liz.
The gypsy taps her nose, “I'm sorry,” she says, “I cannot tell you, but you must have faith in my vision. This is what you must do…” She waves her palm over the crystal ball which suddenly opens up from the top and a gust of fresh smoke rises out of it. The gypsy puts her hand into it and takes out a scrap of paper. “This…” she says, “This is what will protect you!”
“How?”
“Listen dear, heed carefully these instructions. It is your only chance for safety. Now, I give you this scrap of paper and you keep it somewhere safe. Never lose it. But you must not open and read it until 4pm tomorrow afternoon. Do you understand? 4pm tomorrow afternoon.”
“Sure,” Liz says. “I'll try not to.” She takes the paper from the gypsy's hand.
Until 4pm tomorrow afternoon.
“Ok, thank you... for... um... whatever this is.”
The psychic waves her hand. “Sure, no problem. Next please!”
Liz leaves the room as another two girls enter the psychic's abode.
“Hello, my dears. We only have one stool so the one who wants their reading done may take a seat.” A girl with chestnut coloured hair sits down and rolls her eyes at her friend.
“And your name is, madam?”
“Beth,” says the girl.
“And that is short for Elizabeth?”  
“Yes.”  
The gypsy gasps. “Oh no…” she says.  
“Is there a problem?” asks Beth. The room is silent. Beth's friend rolls her eyes.  
“Listen carefully,” says the gypsy. “Something awful will happen to you today. You must follow these instructions in order to be safe.” The gypsy's crystal ball opens up letting out a puff of fresh smoke. She takes a paper out of it and gives it to Beth. “You must not read the contents of this paper until precisely 4pm tomorrow afternoon, understand? Keep the paper safe until then. Now I'm done.” With a commanding hand, she waves off the two girls, and they realise they are being instructed out of the room.
“Is that it?” asks Beth, putting the paper into her handbag. The gypsy responds with silence and the girls both reluctantly leave the woman and her strange little room.
***
Liz strolls out onto the city roads taking gulping breaths of air, glad to be rid of the aromatic incense smells that confined her to the psychic's room, very conscious of the crumpled piece of paper in her trouser pocket and curious of its contents. She taps her pocket. Gazing at the dresses by the window of the shops on the high street, she thinks about the psychic's instructions, battling her curiosity to stop her from opening the piece of paper before tomorrow at 4pm. She wants so much to pick out the piece of paper, forget about the orders and read it. Yet the psychic said it's supposed to protect her. Everything about it just didn't make sense. Was it something to do with her palms? The crystal ball? Or a reading of her name? Liz taps the paper in her pocket.
***
As Beth and her friend come out of the psychic's room, Mel rolls her eyes about the hundredth time.
“You don't seriously believe what she said, do you?”
“She said something awful's gonna happen. This scrap of paper's supposed to protect me.”
“She probably sells that shit to everyone.”
“There's something about it.”
“Bullshit!”
The girls come across the kerb and wait for the oncoming cars to pass the street so that they can cross. The lights take a while to turn.
“Oh, come on, don't you want to know what the paper says?” There's a challenging twinkle in Mel's eyes.
Beth digs into her bag and pulls out the paper. She unfolds the paper and reads:
Careful. Pay
Attention.  Be
Responsible.
As she reads the paper she notices the traffic lights change color and she subconsciously steps onto the road, failing to hear Mel call, “Car!”
Beth is still too distracted to hear the loud hooting of the car speeding at 70mph, which drives into her suddenly, killing her instantly.
***
Liz makes her way out of the city park, her curiosity still getting the better of her as she feels the crumpled paper that resides in her pocket.  
Until 4pm tomorrow.
Liz waits at a kerb to cross the road. The lights turn color and Liz thinks it's her queue to cross. However, someone from behind her shouts, “Car!” Only then does Liz notice the car that has just crossed the light at red. Liz turns around hoping to thank the person.
“Don't worry about it,” he says. “Keep safe.”
Liz takes a leisurely stroll toward home and forgets about it all. It's been a long day. She makes herself a cup of coffee and turns on the television. There's been a road accident not far from where she lives. Oh, how awful! She thinks about the crash she could have been a victim of and sighs. Phew.
Liz gets ready for a shower and a good long soak in the tub. She lights the scented candles around the bath and inhales. After a satisfying soak she gets ready for bed. She awakens late in the afternoon the next day. She wears a new sweater and the same trousers she wore the day before, forgetting about the crumpled paper until after 4pm. She takes it out carefully. This was supposed to protect me, she thinks, and reads:
Careful. Pay
Attention.  Be
Responsible.

“What a lot of bullshit!” She throws the useless scrap of paper into the trash.


Deniz Besim

Deniz Besim is a thirty-two-year-old lady who lives in London and used to teach creative writing to adults. She enjoys reading fiction, and sometimes enters short-story competitions. She self-published two poetry books in 2014 (http://poetry-heaven.my-free.website). She also enjoys walking, swimming and playing tennis in her spare time and sometimes attend readings.


!Help Me, Batman
By Matencera Wolf

A mass of veiled faces was all Shahar could see as she wandered the marketplace. The Ramadan Fast was complete, and now there were ingredients to buy and a feast to create for the Eid al-Fitr.
“Help me, Batman!”
A shrill cry rose above the marketplace clatter and Shahar felt a yank on her skirts. A young boy was in tears.
“Batman?” she asked.
“You have the same suit as Batman,” the boy said, staring at her burka. “You're Batman, aren’t you?
Her brown eyes, visible beneath her veil, crinkled in mirth. Children truly had no filter, but her boys loved Batman, too. She guessed that all boys did.
“What's wrong?” she asked in Batman’s throat scratching rasp.
The boy's tears were swept away by a smile that matched her own.
“I was walking with my mom and then I saw something cool, so I went to have a look, but when I turned around my mom wasn't there anymore and then I couldn't find her.” He finished telling his story with a gasp and looked at Shahar expectantly.
“Then I shall help you find her. In Sha Allah.” Shahar offered her fabric covered hand but the boy only stared at her in confusion.
“Inshala?” he attempted.
She laughed. After working in an international hotel for so long her English and Arabic often blended into a new language altogether.
“In Sha Allah,” she repeated. “It means if god wills it.” She offered her hand again and this time, he took it. “Where did you last see your mother?”
The boy pointed towards the hotels that reigned supreme over Dubai and they started towards them.
“Eid mulbarrag,” a covered woman called in passing.
“Eid mulbarrag,” Shahar replied, forgetting her Batman rasp. The boy didn't seem to notice, though.
“Who was that? What did she say?” the boy asked, firing off questions like firecrackers.
“That was my friend, Zahiya. Eid mulbarrag is something that we say after we finish the Ramadan Fast.”
“What's a Ramadan?”
A woman in a singlet appeared from out of the flowing sea of burkas. Every breath she drew made the golden crucified Jesus that hung around her neck bob on her cleavage like a castaway on a raft.
Shahar's eyes lost their crinkles. Not everyone followed her religion, and that was fine, but when you visited the heart of something you should respect it. In her opinion, people like that shouldn't leave their hotel room.
The woman turned to Shahar’s direction and for a moment she stood motionless, squinting through the sunlight.
“Barry!” she bellowed, charging across the marketplace. She ripped the boy from Shahar's hand and smothered him in her naked pink arms.
“How dare you touch my boy!” The mother was alternating between adoring gazes at her son and sinister glares at Shahar.
“I was helping a lost child find his parents, not stealing him away!”
The mother's glare morphed into a look of indignation.
“Are you calling me an irresponsible mother? How dare you insinuate that I would lose my child in a foreign country! Is this how you people recruit?”
“Recruit? What are you talking about?”
“You know…” The woman looked uncomfortable for a moment, but it was quickly swept away by righteous anger. “How terrorists recruit!”
Shahar's face slackened. She was accustomed to the ignorance of foreigners while working in the hotel, but this was another level.
“Did your husband set you up to this? Send you out to kidnap children, dressed from head to toe in black so nobody can even recognize you? You sheep need to stand up to your men! It's women like you who hold back feminism!”
Shahar breathed deeply to remain calm.
“Not all Muslims are terrorists, no more than two men who wear the same shirt at the same time, are terrorists,” she said through clenched teeth.
“That's exactly what a terrorist would say!”
Shahar let out a long sigh. Terrorist. The foreign woman continued to spit out that meaningless word that no longer accurately described anyone anymore. She opened her mouth to speak but sighed again. Reasoning with this woman would be like planting seeds in the desert. She could try all she wanted, but no seed of reason would grow there.
Barry pulled out of his mother arms and wrapped his own around Shahar's legs.
“Thank you for helping me find my mom, Batman.”
“Batman!” The mother shrieked, yanking her son to her side. “You told him that you were Batman? You just wait until I find the police!” The mother continued to drone on, constantly finding a new threat to trail her last.
Shahar looked from boy to mother and the mirth returned to her eyes.
“I am not the hero that your mother wanted, Barry, but I am the hero that she needed.”
Without a backward glance, she pinched her skirts and ran back into the marketplace, losing herself in the mass of veiled faces.


Matencera Wolf

Matencera Wolf was born 1991 in Australia. He started collecting all kinds of experiences from an early age, ranging from performing with fire to playing gratuitous amounts of video games. He met his wife in 2012 when the world was supposed to end and has since been traveling the world while playing slightly fewer video games. He is currently touring Europe but is happily moving to Japan at the end of 2016.


Banshee
By Cindar Harrell

The wind howled through barren branches, cutting through the night air. In a small house on a hill in the marshlands, a man sat waiting. He heard a shrill cry that was separate from the wind. The sound froze his heart; he knew what that meant. The sound was that of the harbinger of death. A pale woman with white hair appeared before him.
“Am I dead?” the man asked.
“You soon will be.”
Before he could reply, a sharp pain ripped through his chest. The breath froze on his lips as he surrendered to death. Silently, the woman disappeared.


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/.



Of Joy and Sorrow
By Eddie D. Moore

Overwhelmed by emotion, Amylia opened the cedar chest. She fell to her knees and ran her fingers over what was left of her wedding dress. The smooth silk and elegant bead work reminded her of the day she had married Ron, the love of her life. It had been a glorious spring day. Her father walked her down the aisle, and the smiling faces of family and friends turned as she passed. The family pastor, Uncle Charles, had waited with Ron under the large oak tree in their backyard.
           Three small graves now lay under that oak tree, and her wedding dress lay before her in tatters. Three times they had known the joy of seeing her belly swell as a child grew within, and three times she cut material from her dress to make their child’s burial clothes. Each time Ron had cut and carved wood to make a small casket while she sewed. It had practically become their own private family tradition.
           Gathering her composure and resolve, Amylia removed what was left of her dress and went to her sewing room. She ripped apart seams, cut away unusable pieces and removed the beads and lace. She felt as if in some ways this dress represented her life; every time her life went to pieces, so did the dress. This time, nothing was being spared and nothing was going back into the chest. When she was finished, every single piece of usable fabric laid in a pile before her.
           She could hear Ron cutting and sanding wood while he worked through his own emotions. After her tears slowed, she arranged the pieces, took an assessment of what she had to work with, and then began to shape, and assemble the pieces of her own life. She found comfort in the knowledge that this was the last time she would ever tear apart her life and piece it back together.
           Amylia glanced out the back window with the finished dress in hand, and thought about the two boys and the tiny little girl that rested under the old gnarled tree. The flowers Amylia and her husband cultivated every year surrounded the tree and were in full bloom. Pink forget-me-nots, purple and white foxgloves and several different colors of primrose adorned its roots. Sometimes she found it hard to believe that the shade of that tree could hold so much joy as well as much anguish.
           Careful not to disturb her newborn daughter, she tenderly slid the little silk dress over her head. For just a moment she thought she saw a smile on the baby’s face. It was the taste of salt that made her realize she was crying again; apparently her cheeks had grown used to the feeling of tears.
           Ron walked in, wrapped his arms around Amylia, and held her tight. Saw dust mixed with pieces of fabric while they clung to each other, and tried to hold command over their emotions. After several long minutes, Amylia shifted within Ron’s embrace and gently cradled their daughter in her arms. Ron stepped out and brought inside the work of his hands and placed a soft pad and blanket in the bassinet. Amylia smiled as she placed their daughter under the blanket. Her daughter opened and closed her mouth with a yawn. A swing will soon grace one of the branches of the tree of joy and sorrow.


Eddie D. Moore

Eddie D. Moore’s job requires extensive traveling, and he spends much of that time listening to audio books. His stories have been published by Jouth Webzine, The Flash Fiction Press, Every Day Fiction, Theme of Absence, Flash Fiction Magazine, and the Centum Press. Find out more on his blog at: https://eddiedmoore.wordpress.com/.


A Door to Different Worlds
By Tamoha Sengupta

Kamya created the door because she wanted to travel to different worlds. Her uncle, who had taught her their family magic, warned her when she started making it.
“Magic has its own needs. Be careful how you use it. “
“I know,” she had replied with a laugh. “I’ll be careful.”
Uncle made potions for the sick, just like their family had done for centuries. Kamya knew that this was expected of her as well, but she didn’t want to do something as mediocre as potion-making. She could use her magic for grander things!
She finished making the door after a year, and the first time she stepped through it to a different world, she couldn’t find words to describe the happiness coursing through her.
The place was green and filled with flowers, and echoing with the songs of birds she had never seen before. She’d been there for hours before the door had opened again to beckon her back home.
That had been the beginning.
She never visited the same place twice, because the door always opened to somewhere she’d never been before.
Places with underground waterfalls that were musical, places where rainbows were ever-present by the hundreds, even a place where she had to walk upside down- she visited them all.
Home, for her, became a temporary station, where she waited for a brief while before boarding the train to a new destination again.
“The annual fair is here. Do you want to go?” her uncle asked her during one of those brief moments when she was home.
“No,” she said. Who wanted to visit a common fair when she had visited fairs where real dragons gave rides?
“You don’t like home, do you?” Uncle had asked in a quiet voice which made Kamya pause and look up at him.
“Of course I like home! I always come back!”
Her uncle shook his head, and there was a sad little smile on his face.
“I know you, Kamya. You don’t like home, or potion-making, for that matter. It seems like a waste of time to you. That is why you want to escape, right?”
Her uncle’s words seemed to hit right at home. Kamya wasn’t able to lie this time.
It was the last proper conversation they had.
Her uncle died soon after and the memory of those words filled Kamya with guilt. She started to support herself by making the potions her uncle used to make, and the patients who had come to him now came to her for help.
She told them stories of her adventures as she prepared the potions and they listened to her, eyes wide with wonder.
“Will you take us with you? We’ll pay you if you take us.”
“Maybe someday,” Kamya told them, and even as she said it, she knew she was lying. She would never, ever, share this part of her life with anyone.
The door remained unused for many weeks and Kamya felt restlessness gnaw at her. She was spending her life doing the very thing that she didn’t want.
It was not her fault that others couldn’t do magic. She couldn’t spend her whole life making potions. She wouldn’t.
“I’m sorry, Uncle,” she said.
Her heart beat with excitement and a tiny flutter of guilt as she approached the door that had stood still and ordinary for so long.
She tried to crush the guilt.
“It’s not a crime,” she whispered to herself.
With a deep breath, she grasped the door’s handle and pulled it open.
As soon as she stepped into the new world and the door closed behind her, Kamya knew that something was off. Something was not right. She soon realized what it was.
Gravity.
It was strong. So strong, in fact, that Kamya could barely move. Her head drooped down and it felt as though her legs weighed a ton when she tried to lift one of them from the ground. She spent what seemed like hours trying to move, but she could barely progress two steps before her limbs screamed with fatigue.
She sank down to the ground, and gravity seemed only too eager to assist her.
She gazed around, at the deserted landscape, at the colored sands which stretched as far as her eyes went, at the short purple trees with drooping leaves that touched the ground. The skies were wide and endless, streaked with clouds colored red by the dying sun. This world was stunning, almost cruel in its beauty.
Kamya’s eyes closed in desperation. This strange place, so far from home, was going to become her grave.
When the door opens to call her back, Kamya knew she wouldn’t be able to return. She’d always wanted to travel to freedom, away from home, and here, she’d lost them both forever.

Tamoha Sengupta

Tamoha Sengupta lives in India, but is happy to have visited many places on Earth and beyond at the expense of words. Her works have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Mad Scientist Journal, T.Gene Davis's Speculative Blog and a few other places. She tweets @sengupta_tamoha.​


Layla
By Chris Clement-Green

Layla rubbed her temples, boring the pad of each index finger into the respective side of her young head. If Yi-Yi saw her he’d be angry. He would explain for the trillionth time that she should not use her body to deal with her mind, and that such actions would worry the guild-graders.
Layla was once more studying discs of ancient history. She found the concept of families fascinating as, like everyone else on Valeria, Layla had been created in the nursery. From the moment of her emergence it was evident she was not a deadmind – someone who had to speak to be heard and move to go somewhere. Deadminds would simply cry for attention and a nurse would have to guess the reason behind the tears. Thinkers could call for help telepathically and only cried when they were too young to control pain. Layla had shown an instant complexity to the pattern and colour of her thoughts, which reflected her specific needs: food, wetness, temperature, fear, or craving physical contact. The latter was seen as weakness, and Layla’s constant need for physical reassurance had already created a large warning flag; but her abilities in other fields were astounding. By three she could port herself from the nursery.
Not wanting to dampen the development of his protégé, Yi-Yi had her injected with a micro-chip, which enabled staff to instantly locate Layla whenever she went thought-about. But when she’d been located in the transport hanger, some fifteen clicks from the nursery, Yi-Yi had a porting-shield erected around the entire unit. This had caused a backlash from some adult thinkers, who now had to walk through the nursery door like a deadmind.
Yi-Yi’s expectations of Layla were great and he knew this pressure was building a tension between them that was hard to disguise. While he only hid the reds and purples of anger or frustration, Layla had started to block him entirely, like some ancient teenager. He needed something to stop her growing isolation from the guild-mind.
‘Layla, meet Valda. Valda’s a student of ancient humanity.’ Her tutor then disappeared with the softness of a grandmaester.
Layla stared at the young man who, unusually, wore no guild-insignia.
‘I understand you actually enjoy walking, Layla.’ His thought held no disapproval. ‘Shall we port to recreation? They’re displaying a New England Autumn.’
‘New England – as in Earth?’ Layla asked.
‘Exactly so! We could walk under the falling leaves as we talk.’
‘Walk and talk?’ Layla flashed Valda a smile as she ported.
Linking her arm through his, Layla ignored the disapproving looks from the other Thinkers in the park. It was a test, to see what he would do about this serious physical breach of personal space. Valda passed with flying colours. Patting the small hand resting lightly on his arm, he merely gazed up at the riot of dull gold, burning orange and flame red leaves, dancing above their heads.
‘It’s truly beautiful.’ He sighed. ‘Shall we?’ He indicated a narrow path to their right.
Layla began to kick at the fallen leaves. She had no idea why, it just felt good and Valda joined in. Several deadminds, hurrying by on their various and unending tasks, looked at them in bewilderment; but the opinions of deadminds didn’t count. One however stopped. Layla was immediately aware of their watcher.
“Hail, Layla.”
Layla was speechless. In fifteen life-cycles she’d never before been addressed by a deadmind. She had no idea how to respond.
Valda stepped in,
“Layla, I’d like you to meet Rhonda.”
‘Rhonda? She has a name?’ Her eyes remained fixed on the smiling woman.
Valda’s reply was again spoken. “Non-telaps have names too. How else would the maesters organise their duties?”
‘But how do you ‘know’ a deadmind?’
“Layla, it’s considered rude to use telepathy in the presence of non-telaps.”
‘Is it? By who?’ But Valda blocked her and she had to voice her question. “Can you be rude to a deadmind?”
“Yes.” Rhonda’s smile turned wry. “We also think it rude to call us deadminds. Just because we have to talk to communicate doesn’t mean our minds are dead.”
“On the contrary,” Valda observed, “spend any time in the company of non-telaps, Layla, and you’ll find your own mind rapidly expanding.”
‘Really?’ Layla didn’t try to hide her scepticism.
“Rhonda, why don’t you recite your autumn haiku?” Turning to Layla, he started to explain what a Haiku was.
“I know what poetry is!” Layla did not appreciate being given instruction in front of a deadmind.
Rhonda gazed up at the trees. “Dancing leaves of fire/Symbols of a changing world/Fall to grateful ground.”
“Nothing ever changes on Valeria.” Layla’s response was toneless, but spoken.
“You could change things Layla – you of all people could change things!” Valda was animated and excited in a way not usually seen or encouraged in Thinkers.
“How?” She looked at Valda and Rhonda.
Rhonda’s amber eyes ignited with a manic fire. “Become our leader, Layla. Become our speech-person and spearhead our revolution for respect!” The woman’s raw emotion frightened the young girl. Seeing and sensing Layla’s fear, Valda re-opened telepathic communication.
‘It’s okay Layla, non-telaps are not looking to overthrow us – they just want to be respected. They’re not sub-Valerian, they’re different-Valerian. They have talents and abilities that are totally ignored and could so enrich our life, if only they could be released from their constant non-recognition.’
“And how do you expect me to achieve this release?” The fact Layla voiced the question was significant for all three.
“Everyone knows that one day you will take Yi-Yi’s place as leader of Gold-Guild; leader of Valeria.” Valda held her by the shoulders and Layla could feel the heat of his touch seeping through her skin. It felt good. “You’ll be listened to, Layla. You’ll be able to make a difference.”
Looking up into Valda’s lilac eyes Layla smiled. She decided that perhaps she would fulfil Yi-Yi’s often repeated prophesy and facilitate the next step in Valerian evolution.                                  

Chris Clement-Green

In 2007 Chris Clement-Green won the National Associations of Writer's Group short story award which encouraged her to undertake courses in creative writing and advanced creative writing with The Open University which she passed with distinction. In 2013 Chris was accepted onto an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University which she again passed with distinction, and in 2014 she was offered a place at Oxford University's Summer School for creative writing. Chris have been shortlisted in several national short story competitions and been published in several anthologies - the most recent being The New Guard Volume 5, which is due to be published in New York at the end of this month. She is currently editing her debut novel The Soft Tread of Vengeance as well as collating an anthology of short stories entitled On Death and Dying.