October 12, 2019

“Confession of an Accidental Theocrat,” by Jacquelyn Tufts

“Confession of an Accidental Theocrat,” by Jacquelyn Tufts

The door to Carol’s bedroom swung shut behind her with a bang. The late-afternoon light streaming in through her window highlighted every wrinkle and mote of dust that had accumulated on her pantsuit over the course of her walk home from work, but she wouldn’t be dealing with that now. She had come to a decision. It was one that she had been slowly working her way towards not just since she’d woken up that morning, or since the week had begun, but for one full calendar month — and it wasn’t a February either. It was one of the respectable months.  “Okay, listen,” she said to the figure sitting on top of the table beside her bed. “I didn’t know all this would happen between us. But it did, and I love you, and…

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October 9, 2019

“Construction Season,” a Short Story by Brian Moore

“Construction Season,” a Short Story by Brian Moore

Shelley and Celine were halfway across the Rockies when they passed a sign beside the highway that blinked BLASTING AHEAD in angry orange letters three feet high. Blasting what? She imagined dynamite and geysers of rock cracking holes through the hearts of mountains. This was the Trans-Canada. Weren’t they done with all that in the sixties? The traffic oozed to a stop at the chin of a long valley. Campers and minivans glittered a mile down the road, around the toe of a cliff, and out of sight. No town, no stores, no houses, no exits. Not even a signalman flashing a STOP / SLOW triangle. They could be waiting a minute or an hour. She shifted to park and turned off the ignition. The July sun puddled over the fenders. The car smelled of…

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October 6, 2019

“Evidence of V” a Novel by Shiela O’Connor

“Evidence of V” a Novel by Shiela O’Connor

Reviewed by Honorah Creagh In her novel Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions, Sheila O’Connor pieces together the true story of her maternal grandmother, V, a woman whose existence was a family secret. O’Connor’s mother, June, was adopted by V’s sister, and O’Connor did not know about V until she was sixteen years old. Working from incomplete information, O’Connor colors in the spaces between the facts, transforming V from a name on court documents into an effervescent, audacious girl. In the process, O’Connor tells an affecting story not just about the injustices V and other young women like her suffered, but about what it means for someone to be family, and how a person’s influence reaches through generations. In 1935, fifteen-year-old V lives in Minneapolis and spends her nights singing at…

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October 5, 2019

“Little Black Dress” and “Collegiate Correspondence” by Rachel Gonzalez

“Little Black Dress” and “Collegiate Correspondence” by Rachel Gonzalez

Two Stirring Mise-en-Scènes Little Black Dress Lilia walked 7,392 steps to and from her apartment on an average day. And being a woman, Lilia was, on an average day, cat-called at a new corner. A new stoop. A new shop front. Since her body became what it was meant to be, they were there, noticing out loud. A new man. The same bullshit. “Ay Ma, lemme talk to you!” “Yo Shawty! Where you goin so fast?” “Baby Doll! I got something for you!” Day in and day out, Lilia would leave her house in any manner of outfits—slacks, skirts, blouses, shorts, dresses, blazers, heels, flats—didn’t matter. Whatever it was, she shouldn’t be wearing it. Whatever she was wearing was subjected to a sordid request to the men she passed. If she was outside, she was…

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September 12, 2019

“True Blue,” Every Man’s Fantasy – A Short Story by Paul Lewellan

“True Blue,” Every Man’s Fantasy – A Short Story by Paul Lewellan

For fifty-three years the Hilltop Diner on College Street fed the academic community of the University of Southern Iowa (USI). Dr. Benjamin “Blue” Boru’s usual table occupied the back corner by the bathrooms underneath the giant wheezing room air conditioner. Blue arrived daily at six a.m. and ordered The Special: two eggs (fried hard), two slices of buttered toast, hash browns, pork sausage links, and black coffee. After breakfast, Sheila Morgan, the owner’s redheaded daughter, cleared away his plate while Blue poured over Nag-Hammadi manuscripts. She left him alone, except to refill his coffee. She waitressed mornings, cooked for the lunch crowd, then called in the produce orders. Late afternoon and evenings she studied. Sheila began a master’s degree in religion the year she turned forty-three. Her first class was Blue’s. He’d been a regular…

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September 7, 2019

By Popular Demand, Another Penumbra Podcast

By Popular Demand, Another Penumbra Podcast

Here’s another audio arts work from our friends at Penumbra, this one a scary, futuristic drama, Second Citadel: The Battle At World’s End. As the title implies, it’s a gripping tale: Two giants bearing broken swords Stood by a river’s bend Whose water fell straight down to Hell: They battled at World’s End. Listen here to Episode 1. If you like what you’re hearing, be sure to visit the Penumbra website for more episodes, to buy some great swag, and don’t pass up the opportunity to become a supporting member on Patreon for a mere pittance.

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August 22, 2019

“Water,” A Fiction by Rob Swigart

“Water,” A Fiction by Rob Swigart

“Water? What do I think about water? I’ll tell you what I think about water.”  Lyman was angry.  The silence went on.  “Well?” Alford prompted. “What do you think about water?” He tried to keep his question flat, so as not to acknowledge Lyman’s fit of pique.  “I try not to,” Lyman said, at last, deflated. He put his head back and closed his eyes.  Alford did not see how this was possible. Lyman sat in it. Or rather, he lay in it. Was lying. He was lying too. Alford knew that as well.  Lyman did not try not to think about water. To try to not think about water would have meant humming meaningless jingles or reciting nursery rhymes or doing advanced algebra in his head or most likely doing nothing but think about not thinking about water, which Lyman, for one, was unprepared…

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August 17, 2019

“Juno Steel,” A Great New Audio Arts Adventure

“Juno Steel,” A Great New Audio Arts Adventure

We’re delighted to introduce Penumbra Podcasts to Fictional Cafe – especially upon learning we’re all more-or-less Boston creative types. Penumbra is making truly excellent podcasts, or audio arts as we like to call them because that term brings out the multiple dimensions of this work: excellent scripts, high-quality studio recording and mixing, and really delightful foley work (sound effects to you listeners). But let’s hear what the Penumbra people have to say for themselves: “We’ve always loved stories, whether they be science fiction, swashbucklers, high fantasy, horror, or mystery. We grew up passionately reading, watching movies and TV, and playing video games. But eventually we started to notice that a lot of the stories we consumed were the same ones over and over again, and we got tired of it. “Why did every boy and…

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July 28, 2019

“The Kraken,” A Tale of the Sea by Kimberley M. Munsamy

“The Kraken,” A Tale of the Sea by Kimberley M. Munsamy

Daniel Dlamini, a postgraduate student in marine biology at the University of Cape Town, switched on his laptop and checked his email. It was a daily routine. He would get fried hake, thick-cut chips, and a cheap beer from the cart parked outside the harbor, dine on the edge of his boat while the sky darkened from summer to winter blue, then check his email. His mentor, Dr. Samson Saris, was on an expedition and was due to have his reserves restocked, but two months had passed and Saris could not be reached.   When Daniel checked his email an hour later, there was a new message in his inbox. With quivering lips and frenzied eyes, he clicked on the link and watched the first video attached to the email.   **  He adjusted the camera mounted to the dashboard, smiled broadly,…

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July 21, 2019

” To Whom It May Concern” A Short Story by Claire Sartin

” To Whom It May Concern” A Short Story by Claire Sartin

I am dressed my best to do it, if that helps: a classy dress with large floral black and white print that falls just below my knees.  It is strapless with a sweetheart neckline, the kind that looks good on everyone.  I must have bought the dress for a special occasion, but I found it shoved in the back of my closet, unworn, tags still attached.  The dress makes it appear less meaningless.  I didn’t know of my attacker until after it happened.  I didn’t even realize it had happened until months later.  When I woke up there was just one man standing by the bed.  I heard a variety of beeps all around me and a faint consistent ticking sound that seemed to be coming either from right below my head or inside my ear.  I opened my eyes and stared up at a white…

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