January 26, 2022

“A Sad Tale,” Poetry by Vera West

“A Sad Tale,” Poetry by Vera West

Editor’s Note: This is Vera West’s first full poetry post on The Fictional Café as our new Poet-in-Residence for 2022-2023. Please help us welcome her to the Café and be sure to read her haunting, heartbreaking trilogy of poems at the end, called “A Sad Tale.” loneliness It’s an odd thing to grieve in advance, to let your mind give you a sample taste of the things you fear; the most flavorful being: loneliness. I’m anxious about the day when my loved ones are all gone, and I’m truly alone. between sisters the first time I told her our father had killed our dog, she hadn’t believed me. Perhaps it was the way I’d said it; “he killed our dog,” was all I’d said. the second time I told her she asked our father and…

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January 24, 2022

“The Last Professional,” A Novel by Ed Davis

“The Last Professional,” A Novel by Ed Davis

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the novel The Last Professional, copyright (C) 2022, by Ed Davis. Cover and interior Illustrations copyright (C) 2022, by Colin Elgie. Published by Artemesia Publishing, Tijeras, New Mexico. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. You can purchase Ed’s book here. A story of the River of Steel  By Ed Davis  Illustrated by Colin Elgie  So pay attention now my children  And the old story I will tell About the jungles and the freight trains  And a breed of men who fell.  –Virginia Slim   A four-lane highway passed over the Sparks yard at its eastern limit. The highway bridge had pedestrian spirals at each end and a jump-proof fence all across both sides. From mid-span, looking west, Lynden and The Duke could see the entire layout—freight cars hulking in the darkness, car-knocker’s lanterns…

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January 16, 2022

“Chez Mars,” A Short Story by Lisa Verdekal

“Chez Mars,” A Short Story by Lisa Verdekal

When we first arrived, we christened the fancy habitation station Chez Mars, joking it was the best hotel in the galaxy. Now, a year later, it’s more like a prison. Back then, we firmly believed that our stay here would only be a brief transition period. The incredible innovations in technology would allow us to get back to some sort of normality after our ordeal. Just a couple of more glitches to fix and we would be the first to live comfortably on the planet Mars. Instead, we linger in a perverse state of endless holiday. At the beginning, it started off as a way to keep us entertained while we waited. Initially, we were very impressed. Images of sun and sand and sapphire water played along the walls, the sky darkening and brightening with…

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January 13, 2022

“The Coldest Hour,” Poetry by Zoey Collea

“The Coldest Hour,” Poetry by Zoey Collea

The Coldest Hour The mountains, the mountains set adrift on a tundra of pickled grass Springing up like nubby hairs on that of a newborn’s scalp I haven’t taken the time to learn a second language Though the sun burns through the window onto my hair and I can almost smell it burning To know every word inside and out like my favorite song on the café radio at the moment of the day when light slips into its cremation and becomes a dusting around office buildings and parked cars I hold my bag tightly to my side the layers of clothes I have on makes it hard to concentrate, but someone told me that distraction is actually a good thing. When I reach home, I empty the stale coffee I purchased some at the…

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January 11, 2022

“Dead Dreams,” by Sandeep Kumar Mishra

“Dead Dreams,” by Sandeep Kumar Mishra

In his dreams, Rajan searches for the ghosts. He hunts for them, tracing their footsteps in the dirt. He is back in his hometown—he knows these roads. The moonlight shivers on his skin. The crooked streets rattle around him. His heart burns in his chest. Baba, mama. Where are you? He runs, following the path laid out for him. The streets smell like smoke. Everything is hazy and deserted, shuttered up and locked away. He knows his neighbors behind each door, but no one steps out to help him. They’re too scared. Rajan is terrified, too, but he keeps running. Please, if I could just see you one more time. I didn’t know it would be the last time. I would have said so much more. Baba, mama. When he looks up, the ghosts are…

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