It's hard to believe that the year is almost over! With the end of the year comes our final 2015 Anthology. The theme for the Winter Anthology was Blackout, and ten authors took the challenge. There are some different takes to the stories and we hope that you enjoy them. Don't forget, if you enjoy a story, leave the author a little note (via review) to let them know how much you appreciate their work! To get you started, here's a brief snippet of each entry. Happy reading everyone!
08:15 AM Redux
Romeo was over an hour late. No texts. No messages. And he had forgotten his keys left on the kitchen table. Julian flicked his finger against the little cake pendant. He had found it on Etsy and immediately bought it. A deceptively realistic slice of strawberry cheesecake, with red sauce dripping down its sides. The whole evening he had been feeling inexplicably on edge.
When the doorbell rang, he breathed out in relief. Finally! Snatching the key chain, he ran into the hall.
Ripping the door open, he grinned. Romeo didn't need to know he had been worried. “Someone forgot their k…” But the smile froze on his face when he saw Ren.
Oh god, not again.
I clenched the steering wheel as the first twinges of pain hit. Maybe I could still make it home before the throbbing started. I’d really hoped the new medication would prevent my migraines. They had for the most part, but occasionally one still managed to slip through the cracks. The fuzziness in my vision had been my first indication that a migraine was looming. The colorful zigzag pattern started at the edges of my vision and proceeded to work its way inward, until they multiplied and blurred even more of my vision. It made it impossible to see clearly, and the only respite from the distorted vision was to close my eyes.
As we passed through the decorated market, lit by the orange glow of ancient lights that simulated ‘sunset’, Marius dragged me across the ‘town square’ at the center of the market past the tall pine tree that grew there, and around the small tables toward the ancient collections stall located against the far wall of the Market Bay. We weaved our way through the throngs of families with children dashing about, the various people surrounding stalls, haggling for the best price, the lines at the food stalls, and others just looking for some excitement. The various stalls had small decorations for the holiday to draw attention to their secondhand and recycled wares. At one stand, a woman was trying to trade a small shirt for a larger one while holding on to a young growing child's hand.
Day and Night
Going to Adam’s, I’ll be back by 9. Love you.
The message sent, Luke quickly put away his phone after making sure once more that a teacher wasn’t in sight. With a sigh of relief, he closed his locker and with everything in tow, made his way to the main entrance.
Autumn had finally set in, the trees were now mostly bare and most of the leaves had finally dispersed, with some colorful patches still seen here and there. With the afternoon sun shining so brightly, Luke hoped it might be a warm day. But after stepping outside the school’s main doors, a cold breeze blew past him. Luke wisely zipped up his sweater and after adjusting his backpack, placed his hands in his pockets.
My head hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. I groaned and sat up, only to immediately lie back down due to the shooting daggers of pain exploding through my skull. What the hell did I do last night? And where the hell was I? I was lying on the floor, as my back was very clearly letting me know. I sat up much more slowly this time, and opened one of my eyes, then the other one.
It was pitch black, wherever I was. The pain in my head lessened to a dull ache. My body felt like it’d been run over by a freight train. I tried to remember the last thing I did, but felt a surge of panic as I realized I had no memory. As in none. I didn’t even remember my name. I fished in my pocket, relieved to find my cell phone. I turned it on, wincing from the bright light slicing through the impenetrable ink.
“No, no, no.” The junk ship assigned to me had parts shaking loose every time I landed, but during my last furlough, it’d supposedly gone through a thorough diagnostic and repair. From the outside, well… it still looked like a rusty pile of shit, but nothing had been dangling from damaged hinges or loose wires for once.
“Fucking Anslough.” He was the lead mechanic. I’d blown him once and then let him suck me off, but his skills had been on par with his repair abilities; I should have known better—on both counts.
Now I was about to crash on an uncharted planet in an unresponsive ship. Hard. I banged on the panel with my fist, and the display lit up once, flickered… then went black. My internal links didn’t work, the backup system was down, the engines unresponsive, and I couldn’t even close the external viewport screens.
Black out – Lights on!
Seeing what is veiled
By the dark.
"... come on, dude, you have to go..."
Colt paused as he passed by Ryan's door. He smiled at the voice of his son's new friend, Trent, from down the street. It had taken Ryan a couple of months before he'd even talk to any of the other teens who played basketball at the neighborhood court. Ryan had come a long way since he'd moved in with Colt and Shane, but he still had a ways to go.
Colt knew Trent was a decent kid, having met his parents at several of their block parties. Trent had caught Ryan watching their pick-up basketball games several times, and even though Ryan had tried to avoid the boy, Trent had been determined to draw him out.
The intermittent rain had begun late the previous evening. As Jessie eased the skiff away from the dock, there had been no sunrise to enjoy―gray clouds blanketed the sky. Heading out on the Guana River, the young man kept glancing towards the west, where the darkness above him appeared to expand with each passing minute. His furrowed brow hinted at the growing apprehension the Texan was experiencing; this one was going to be a big one. The frequency of periods with precipitation and gusting winds steadily increased, as he used the fishing net to retrieve each catch. An hour or so after setting out, Jessie decided it was best he remove himself from the path of the intensifying storm. It was time to return to the environmental station building which had become home to him, Lars, and Aitor over the previous year.
I stood in the entryway of the restaurant, rather disgusted by what I was witnessing. A cook was in clear view in the kitchen window picking his nose. He was really digging in there, and had a haunted, almost vacant look on his scruffy face. I wanted to turn around and walk away, but I couldn’t. For some reason, this place had drawn me.
"Can I help you?" a woman's voice diverted my attention. She was in her late teens, possibly early twenties, and still had a rash of angry acne on her cheeks. Her impossibly blonde hair with telltale brown roots was tied back in a ponytail. Her white shirt had light pink stains on the sides and arms, and her black apron was crusty and smeared with something white and pasty.
He stood in nothingness. Mired. It was an endless void… limbo… and somehow, he knew that. But he was also aware there was a defined path. A direction beckoned, like a pull on his cells, urging him, no, commanding him to obey. He wasn’t supposed to have a choice. He understood that too. Could he accept this new reality? Could he let go? He should be pleased the debilitating pain was gone, yet what it signified was worse, wasn’t it? Yes. His awareness grew, and fed his conviction. He’d be leaving something precious and irreplaceable behind if he took the fated course, the artery he could feel pulsing beneath his feet. Sight wasn’t needed here, though he still possessed functioning eyes, for he could see a light in the distance. It was a heavenly orb that flared gold on the outer edges. The center, though, was the purest white… a revelation that drew him. He had to look away. The power of that light, its beauty and its call, were too strong, too insistent. A siren? A promise? Another chance? He didn’t care. He wasn’t ready. Dammit. He needed time.
2015 Winter Anthology Support Team
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