Saturday, 14 September 2019

September 2019. Issue 24.

Welcome to issue 24: A little library of tiny bookish tales. You’ll find a different take on the book theme with every turn of the page, showcasing the breadth of imagination, creativity and humanity that has become the hallmark of 101 Fiction.

From dark dystopias to the modern home. Books born of death, to life crawling off the page. Heartache and heroes, oppression and introspection, magic and booze.

There’s fire in this issue, in defiance, in defence, in books on the pyre. There’s knowledge, and truth, and all the dangers they can bring. There are aching hearts, through loss and love. There are forests, real and unreal. Some of the stories metaphorically dissect humanity, others more literally. There are monsters raised from the page, others who look just like you and I. And, as with all books, there are characters doomed to retread the same paths again and again.

Books are worlds you can live in, and the best flash fiction feels like a world encapsulated, an open door you only need to walk through to be there in that other world. Here we have nineteen living worlds, just waiting for you to step into.

Read.

Absorb.

Enjoy.

____

Keep on scrolling for the stories, or you can bring the whole issue up here. Alternatively, there is a free .pdf version available to download here (right click and save), which you can keep, forever, and dip into whenever you like, even when you're not connected, when there's no signal and no wifi (the modern horror story...).

Flourishing

by Phil Dyer

“Just give us a name,” said the judge, waving again at the three slim volumes of incendiary manifesto. His eyes were not unkind. “This doesn’t have to fall on you.”

The woman in the dock spread her hands as far as manacles allowed. “I found them. I’m just the gardener.”

They burned the books in a pit behind the gallows. The ash fell with the rain, trickling grey through soil stained with thwarted revolution.

The first shoots appeared unnoticed. Pale leaves unfurled towards the sun, their irregular markings maturing from scrawl to careful text. A breeze ruffled the nascent pages.



Author bio: Phil Dyer does medical research in Liverpool and writes spec fic on the side. His stories have recently appeared in BFS Horizons, 101 Fiction, and Black Hare Press.  He retweets animal gifs @ez_ozel.

Flourishing is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Derelict

by Susan Carey

I saw a down-and-out reading a book in the park. Men and women in black uniforms fell on him: ants devouring a moth.

That night I sleepwalked to the local library. Barefoot over sharp rubble. Picked up a trashy romance that had escaped the burn: Love Conquers All.

“I had to prise it from your fingers.” Daisy puts on black clothes and hugs me.

The photo of us on Venice Beach, after I proposed, leaves a dark silhouette on the album page. I tuck it into my breast pocket.

I leave in secret. Daisy will have told them by now.



Author bio: Angela Williams, who writes as Susan Carey, lives in Amsterdam where she teaches English as a second language and writes stories in between the more important jobs of dog-walking and dreaming of worldwide renown. She has had short stories and flash fiction published and performed by amongst others; Mslexia, Liars' League, Stringybark Publishing, Writers Abroad, Reflex Fiction, Flash Flood Journal and Casket of Fictional Delights.

Twitter: @su_carey

Blog: https://amsterdamoriole.com/writing/

Derelict is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Paperwings

by Ben Kutina

The word we used was ‘paperwings.’ The learned ones who knew the symbols soared in their thoughts through worlds lost to time. Our tribe called them miracles, others named them sorcery. Wars were fought, blood was shed. We lost, and now they burn.

They made us watch.

They brought us to the pyre, their mouths smiling, eyes weeping from the smoke and exultation. They called themselves liberators even as our freedom burned. Our feathers clipped, our paper wings reduced to cinder, scorched and scorned and soaring, now nothing more than ash and memory.

The dead should stay silent, they said.



Author bio: Ben Kutina is a fledgling writer and graduate of SUNY Geneseo living in Western New York. He has been an editor for Gandy Dancer and his writing has appeared in Odyssey.

Paperwings is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Bride

by PK Abiodun

‘Come here, let them see you.’

One fidgets, shivers a little, One is not ready for this. Does not like this. The whole ceremony of it all. One has read too much. And that is the problem.

‘Come here, stand with your other sisters. Let him see you very well.’

One is paraded. Her hands akimbo, her chin up, her gown cut short, kissing her knee. One is presented.

‘You see, too many books have spoiled her. But she will listen. Take your pick.’

One waits for his touch. Spits. One has read too much. And that is the problem.



Author bio: PK Abiodun is a storyteller who codes and creates machines that understand literature. He is a lover of irreconcilable arts and music that do not announce themselves. PK writes from Nigeria.

Bride is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Ornamental

by Sean Gregory

A new leather bound book was put on the shelf every month. “They're not for reading,” Mum told me. When she left the books stopped arriving.

I skipped school and opened Brave New World. The text small, paper translucent, I sponged up the words. Next I took Shakespeare's Comedies and read The Tempest.

Dad came home to find books scattered. His eyes raging, I read aloud, “‘Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly–’”. He snatched the book off me, but I had memorised the whole page. “‘They'll go through anything,’” I quoted, “‘You read and you're pierced.’”



Author bio: Sean Gregory is a writer from the North of England.

Ornamental is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Biography

by David Ford

The masterpiece it had taken him a lifetime to write was lying forgotten in the bottom of a drawer.

“Books you say,” he tapped the half empty bottle beside him. “They are more addictive than the booze. I would'na drink if I could write. My life has been a library of little hurts.”

He got up off the steps and staggered towards the park. He did not say goodbye. Later, I found him asleep on a bench, the familiar hand holding a battered old paperback he'd found in some bin.

That was the last time I ever saw my father.



Author bio: David Ford has published short stories and reviews in magazines. A collection of poems has been published by the Happenstance Press. He lives in London.

Biography is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Dedicated

by Serena Jayne

You wrote the novel for “the one who got away” as though your lover’s heart simply sprouted wings and flew from its cage. Vanity overcomes reason and I, for one blessed moment, allow myself to believe I’m the beloved treasure you mourn losing. A never-ending pain you need to numb. An absence that shreds your soul.

The fragile construct of my delusion collapses and sorrow crushes my joy, for I never escaped. My desiccated heart remains entombed within your stronghold, cobweb-covered and cursed; forlorn and forgotten. I will be forever dedicated to you, yet your dedication, as always, lies elsewhere.



Author bio: Serena Jayne received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a research scientist, a fish stick slinger, a chat wrangler, and a race horse narc. When she isn’t trolling art museums for works that move her, she enjoys writing in multiple fiction genres. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, the Oddville Press, 101 Fiction, Switchblade Magazine, and other publications.

Dedicated is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Makeover

by Raymond Sloan

The man took the present from his son. He looked at it for a long time, holding it in both hands. The boy watched his father, awaiting his gratitude.

“It’s great, Son. Thank you.”

The boy smiled, then took off.

After he left, the man switched it on, familiarised himself with the device – checked out the menu, the preloaded titles, the light it gave. He smelt it before switching it off. Sat it beside the box it came in.

His wife appeared in the doorway, holding a furniture catalogue, looking toward his packed bookshelves.

“All that lovely space,” she said.



Author bio: Raymond has been writing on and off for the past two years. He lives in Ireland with his wife, daughter and dog, Dolly. He has had a few pieces published online and is tweaking the ones that didn’t quite make it.

Makeover is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Sanctuary

by Danielle Keiko Eyer

Dorothy Parker visits me every night in the basement of a bar.

I say, “You’re late.”

She says, “You’re drunk.”

A whisky sour slides into her hand. She sips. I sip.

I say, “Are you a ghost or hallucination?”

She says, “If you stopped drinking, you might find out.”

She sips. I sip. I open a book. The Best of Dorothy Parker.

She says, “Stop reading and write your thesis already.”

I say, “I’m too drunk.”

She says, “How else are people going to remember me?”

I say, “We’re too similar. Haunt someone else.”

She says nothing. She’s gone. Again.



Author bio: Danielle Keiko Eyer is an emerging writer, playwright, and stage manager based in Montreal, Canada. She has had writing published in anthologies by the Poetry Institute of Canada and Dreamspinner Press, as well as having been published in local journals such as Montréal Writes Literary Magazine. Roman Payne said that “all forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.” Luckily, Danielle benefits from every one of these.

Twitter: @DanielleKEyer

Sanctuary is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Cookbook

by Allen Ashley

I purchased a recipe book in a second-hand emporium on Charing Cross Road. The mouth-watering concoctions consisted of a variety of pies and pasties but, curiously, the author, a Mrs Lovett, had not specified whether one should use pork, beef, rabbit or venison. I ascertained that her culinary establishment was just a short carriage ride away in Fleet Street. Alighting fifteen minutes later, I was disappointed by the “Closed” sign on her door. Rich smells exuded from beneath as if bringing my clutched cookbook to life. I determined to enquire at the barber’s next door. Get a shave while here.



Author bio: Allen Ashley works as a creative writing tutor and is the founder of the advanced science fiction and fantasy group Clockhouse London Writers. He is the sole judge for the annual British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition. www.allenashley.com

Cookbook is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Snuggles

by TM Upchurch

She turned the pages, ‘Once upon a time…’ her fingers felt for the edges, twisting, sliding, brushing the paper aside as the words rounded the corner, ‘there were aliens who came to Earth and ate the mothers, all up, from the inside, except for the skin.’ Her eyes skimmed left, right, left, ‘No one knew if the mothers died, because the aliens left the skins intact, and lived within them. They moved a little jerky, paused occasionally, but they still looked, smelled, and felt the same.’

Her fingers faltered, found themselves, ‘And they all,’ she whispered, ‘lived happily ever after.’



Author bio: TM Upchurch lives and writes in a small house overlooking the Atlantic. Her fiction has been published in print and online, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, Bath Flash Fiction Award, and HISSAC short story competition. She is working on her first novel.

Twitter: @tmupchurch Website: www.tmupchurch.com.

Snuggles is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Catalyst

by J.S. Myth

“How much will you ponder upon it?” the old archivist pushed the book in front of the young mage. “So, will you have it or not?”

“That is no easy question. On the one hand, I will take this book and fulfil a destiny. On the other…” his eyes lingered on the heavy leather cover. “I have seen where this could lead. Cities turning upside down, lamp lights becoming pyres, seas falling from the skies…”

“So you’ve seen it. Does it mean it will happen?”

The mage touched a page, felt the earth shudder beneath him.

“It has already begun.”



Author bio: J.S. Myth is an author and a theatre director preoccupied with the interdisciplinary value of art. She perceives fantasy as being intertwined with reality and she believes in the importance of artistic expression in the process of changing the world.

https://www.amazon.com/Notes-conquest-J-S-Myth-ebook/dp/B07T6CGHJB/ 

Catalyst is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Bookwyrm

by John Xero

Oscar walks the high library walls, reassured by the strike of his armoured feet on strong stone. Forty feet below, the undulating treetops shift like the seas of his homeland and his heart aches.

A susurration breaks his reminiscence: the whisper of pages in the wind – wing beats. He looks up.

Her hide is leather-bound, gold-edged. Her hundred tails are ribbons of rainbow silk. Her eyes reflect his inner self and her voice is a thousand voices.

“Give/return/surrender me/I/my eggs/children/books.”

Oscar braces himself and raises his flickering torch, meagre fire against the mighty bookwyrm.



Author bio: All stories are eggs that hatch in your soft wet brain space; the strongest, the fittest, dig deep and live there a while. John Xero lays a lot of little eggs, but one day... one day, he dreams of bigger things.

The nest: xeroverse.com
The tweets: @xeroverse

Bookwyrm is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Chimera

by Liz Tuckwell

‘I was paper and ink,’ I tell the pathetic human cowering in the abandoned library, ‘until a sorcerer spelled me into flesh and blood.’

Sunlight streams through the ragged oilcloth at the windows. The foolish humans think me nocturnal. They have tried many times to spell me back into the bestiary. I can smell them over the mustiness. They have always failed. I hear someone by my nest of books and bones. A tiny whoosh. Paper catching alight. Blue-gold flames lick the pages, burn my skin, which blackens and cracks. My flesh smokes and my veins are molten agony. I…



Author bio: Liz Tuckwell is a British science fiction and fantasy writer, living in London. She’s recently had a short horror story “A Monster Met” published by Demain Publishing and a short story in the anthology "MCSI: Magical Crime Scene Investigations". Her stories have been published in 101 Fiction and Speculative 66. Follow her on Twitter @liztuckwell1. Or have a look at  www.liztuckwell.co.uk.

Chimera is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Peeled

by Shannon Bell

Georgia held the piece of skin up to the light. “Will it all be this translucent?”

“Of course.”

“So paper-thin and see-through. Your knife skills are exquisite.”

“Thank you.”

“Such delicate bones.” Georgia stroked the girl’s hand, held up the fingers. “Can you carve quills from these?”

“Absolutely.”

Georgia dipped her finger into the gore pooling around the girl’s leg, brought it to her lips, curled her tongue around it. “Can ink be brewed from her blood?”

“Most definitely.”

“What beautiful books we’ll make from you.” Georgia fingered the girl’s creamy thigh. “What stories we’ll tell now yours has ended.”



Author bio: Shannon Bell is addicted to words. You will find him madly writing away in the spare time he has available between holding down a full-time job, being part of a dysfunctional family and looking after his attention seeking dog. His stories have been published in Dark Edifice, Short & Twisted, 101 Fiction and strippedlit500. You can follow Shannon on Twitter at @ShannonBell1967.

Peeled is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Bound

by Rachel Wallach

The spine cracked open, revealing a world she would never know. Trapped inside the musings of someone else’s mind, the young girl felt violated by grimy, freshly licked fingers and scarred by the folded edges of delicate corners.

Forced into a life inside oily, prose-filled pages, it pained her to consider those desolate chapters home. The girl was doomed to relive the same exposition, climax, conflict, and resolution under their gleeful, prying eyes.

Bound to a two-dimensional prison, she longed for someone to rip her from the binding and set fire to every single word.

What a cruel, never-ending sentence.



Author bio: Rachel Wallach is a communications professional in New York, who likes to write. Her story Aflame was previously published in 101 Fiction.

Bound is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Forest

by John Xero

He woke in darkness, the only sound a dry whisper as of a gentle breeze disturbing dead leaves. He had the impression of slim trunks surrounding him, stretching upwards, he could only assume into a night sky though he saw no stars, no moon. The trees, if they were, stretched in every direction; for further than he could imagine, he felt sure.

Words wound through the whisper. “You read the black book. You were warned.”

He remembered the librarian – so thin he looked ill – and the warning. But what choice had he, than to seek the book that ate souls?



Author bio: All good books steal a little of your soul, don’t they? But they give back so much. John Xero’s forest is full of life and very distracting, with too many interesting-looking paths to wander down.

The librarian: @xeroverse
The library: xeroverse.com
The bestiary: instagram.com/johnxero

Forest is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Familiar

by Grove Koger

“It looks familiar,” I said, staring at the faded cover. “I’m sure I owned a copy as a child, but something’s a little… off.”

We’d gotten into town an hour before, checked into our hotel and set out to reconnoitre, even though it was the siesta. Everything was closed, but a cart of dusty stock had been left outside the door of the old shop.

Puzzled, I opened the book to the first page and started reading: ‘“It looks familiar,” I said, staring at the cover. “I’m sure I owned a copy as a child, but something’s a little… off.”’



Author bio: Grove Koger is the author of When the Going Was Good: A Guide to the 99 Best Narratives of Travel, Exploration, and Adventure (Scarecrow Press, 2002) and Assistant Editor of Art Patron Magazine and Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal. He blogs at worldenoughblog.wordpress.com.

Familiar is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

Rereading

by Tom O’Brien

“This passage…” Herve said, holding up the dog-eared paperback. He pinched the air in front of him, as if to release the essence of the word he needed. “…It sings.”

I waited while he found it again on the page, then listened as his sonorous voice read. He was right. The words were wise, succinct, poignant and droll.

I remembered, though he didn’t, when he’d read them to me before; two hours ago. And yesterday. And the first time, forty-seven years ago, from loose typed pages scattered across our bed, when he woke me to read what he’d just written.



Author bio: Tom O'Brien is an Irishman living in London. He's been published in numerous places across the web and has short stories printed in Blood & Bourbon, Blink-Ink and DEFY! Anthologies. His novella-in-flash Straw Gods was shortlisted by Ellipsis Magazine in their publication competition. 

He’s on twitter @tomwrote and his website is www.tomobrien.co.uk.

Rereading is part of 101 Fiction issue 24.

September 2019. Issue 24. Postscript.

The end.

Or is it? The best books never really finish, their stories live on in you, the same is true of the best tiny fiction, it is a seed, the kernel at the heart of the story. In a more literal sense, this might not really be the end of issue 24 either.

If today is Saturday 14th September 2019 then this is, in fact, the beginning! Tiny stories will be going live throughout the day as issue 24 grows into a towering pine (before we chop it down to make the paper that makes the books that make this issue...). Keep popping back and we'll keep the stories coming.

If today is after that date then, actually, this is the end of issue 24. But it stands to reason there are 23 more issues before this one (and there are). And we were even publishing before that. There are literally hundreds of stories back thattaway, just keep on going, you won't be disappointed.

Thanks for reading.

And a big thank you to everyone who amplifies our tiny signal - the retweets, tweets, blogs - you folk are awesome, you make a little thing loud. And then the biggest thank you of all, always, to our contributors; the seeds here fell from your imaginations, this lush forest of words is your doing.

If you want to be a part of this, if you think you can make magic in a hundred words, then keep an eye out right here, or follow us on twitter, for details of the next submissions period and theme.

Keep reading.

Keep writing.

Have fun.

- John Xero

Sunday, 14 July 2019

September issue open for submissions.

Now closed for submissions.

From now until Sunday 11th August we are open for submissions!

So far this year we've had maps and pictures themed issues (go check them out - 37 fantastic little stories, and a great intro to 101 Fiction if you're new here). This year's theme cycle is the ways we record our world(s), and so our new theme is: books.

If you're here then you're a writer or a reader and likely both which means a passion for books and everything they might contain. Whether that's a single great roll of parchment, brushstrokes visible in each pictograph, or an exquisite leather bound book with gold-edged pages, or a holographically projected e-library implant containing every work ever published.

Your hero could be the librarian, defending his library with monsters conjured from the horror section, or it could be the fictionaut, diving into imagined worlds and returning with unreal treasures. Perhaps in a post-apocalyptic world survivors find escapism by snorting the ashes in a burnt out library, or a rebuilding society models itself on a handful of surviving books, their gospels, not realising they are works of fiction. Maybe a horror book tells of an insipid creeping madness infecting the human mind as the brain absorbs certain eldritch knowledge, knowledge the book itself contains...

A book or books of some form must be central to the story but other than that, go wild. We're primarily a genre magazine - horror, sci fi, fantasy - but we try not to limit ourselves, if it makes us sit up and pay attention, if it pings the wow centre in our brain, if it makes us want to re-read for all the right reasons then it's what we're looking for.

The story must be exactly 100 words, with a one word title. The title cannot be 'book' or any variation thereof. And for our full guidelines and submissions email click here.

Imagine.

Create.

Have fun!

Monday, 10 June 2019

June 2019. Issue 23.

Welcome to issue 23, our picture-themed issue: enter the gallery, take in the exhibition. We have nineteen images conjured in words for you to observe, to absorb, to witness... from photos to paintings, analogue to digital, the real world and far, far beyond.

There’s everything you would expect from a picture-themed issue. Darkness and light; meaning and metaphor; shifting tones. The close-ups: the human stories, the deep horrors of real life, or the magic of a child’s love, and the panoramas: universe spanning, space-travelling, reality warping weirdness and grandeur.

There’s everything you would expect from an issue of 101 Fiction. Death and revenge, creation and destruction, a little weirdness, a little cold sober reality, magic, heartache and stars. Stories that really key into the modern age and resonate all the more deeply for it. Tales that delve into the shadows of the human soul and explore the infinity of colours that bind us all together.

But there’s more: a wolf that stalks below the skin; a second chance, taken alone; memories adrift on a painted sea; a love leant eternity on canvas; images that steal a little more than light; an assortment of astronauts; brides without faces...

Read.

Absorb.

Enjoy.

____

Keep scrolling down for the stories, or you can bring the whole issue up here. Alternatively, if you want a free little .pdf copy to take with you wherever you like, to read whenever you like (even without an internet connection! If you can countenance such a thing...), then right click here and save.


Neuds

by Daniel Gooding

[do u wont 2 mete up?]

[can u send pics first?]

[…]

[Image file:]

[Download failed.]

[what was that?]

[…]

[neuds]

[can u send again?]

[…]

[Image file:]

[Download failed.]

 [wont download :(]

He hears the letterbox flap open. Lying on the floor is a mangled Polaroid, still wet from the developing fluid. As he picks it up, he tries to recall if Polaroids actually use fluid. Then he turns the picture over, and all other thoughts leak from his mind.

Something thuds heavily against his door, as if losing patience. His phone pings once more.

[OPN TH FUCKIN DOORE]



Author bio: Daniel Gooding was born in 1984, and his flash fiction stories "Chum", "Kindness" and "Seepier" have appeared previously in '101 Fiction'. He is also featured in the two latest anthologies by New Lit Salon Press, "Startling Sci-Fi: New Tales of the Beyond" and "First Came Fear: New Tales of Horror."  He occasionally writes for The Guardian and currently lives in Bath, UK.

Neuds is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.


Snapped

by Shannon Bell

I look at this photo of my soul. It’s blurry, shades of bitterness, anger and disappointment swirl like a vortex.

My light no longer shines. I am no one to nobody. I have nothing. I am nothing.

The bullet sits there, mocking me, my name scratched onto its cold surface.

Death watches me, loading the gun with my autographed cartridge.

“Please,” I beg. “Take me. End this.” The victim inside, it craves a tragic, beautiful ending.

That sweet angel of death, he strokes my cheek and smiles. “You’re mine now. Death will unfuck you like life never could, my friend.”



Author bio: Shannon Bell is addicted to words. You will find him madly writing away in the spare time he has available between holding down a full-time job, being part of a dysfunctional family and looking after his attention seeking dog. His stories have been published in Dark Edifice, Short & Twisted, 101 Fiction and strippedlit500. You can follow Shannon on Twitter at @ShannonBell1967.

Snapped is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Veils

by Joanna Koch

Norma Desmond and I go way back, trading husbands, settling scores. We’ve always been big. It’s the insults that got small.

Hag heads bloom like black holes in your weddings albums, cigarette burns through white bridal sheets. Your cursor hovers over wives you’ve silenced by shoving more than cake in their mouths. Does a gentleman tag his ghosts? The technology’s beyond you these days.

Hold your phone over a candle until hags melt into holes.

Norma and I come through curtains in close up, burned. You were the first and last to tear open our veils.

We had faces then.



Author bio: Author Joanna Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. Her short stories have been published in journals and anthologies such as Synth, Honey & Sulphur, and In Darkness Delight: Masters of Midnight. An artist and Contemplative Psychotherapy graduate of Naropa University, Joanna lives near Detroit. Follow her monstrous musings at horrorsong.blog.

Veils is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Serpent

by Micah Harper

Weighted by the chains of pride and knowledge he sank into the darkened world to paint his final piece. He poisoned his fellow adepts and the master who had given him the knowledge of sin's power. He wasn't like they who allow the current to pull life to purpose. He would be the new will of reality. His fist the spark of life. As he finished painting the twelve-jewelled crown the horns of the golden dawn sounded in the third realm. He watched as the painting contorted. He saw as a pale man set the crown upon his horned head.



Author bio: Micah Harper is a writer from Queens New York, primarily writing horror and fantasy. When not writing, he enjoys baking cupcakes.

Serpent is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Odyssey

by Louis Cennamo

I am an observer now, eyes gradually adjusting to the shockwave as moving images coalesce. A spaceman lost in time, alone in a bedroom somewhere at the furthest edge of endless space. Defying logic, yet here I am.

I sense the flickering light vibrations of death and rebirth, amid rousing music from a source above my dying brain's fading perception. Still formless memory-snaps persist, of an insanely misguided quest – to seek an answer in the heavenly void of outer space.

Another timeless shockwave, a spaceman returning to a home he never left.

Journeying inward, unborn to newborn... requiem to fanfare.



Author bio: Louis Cennamo is a retired British musician, poet and creative writer. His international career as a bassist, and extensive spiritual practices over many years, contribute to a rhythmic, articulate and esoteric writing style. There is often a metaphysical theme to his poems and stories, many of which have been published in online magazines and printed anthologies.
He lives in London.

Odyssey is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Alone

by John Xero

My love is dead, while I hurtle through space in my tin can made for one, eking out rations in defiant futility. All that remains of her is an unflattering photo, pinned to my console, blurred through a filter of tears.

I watched the asteroid pass. The computer was right and I was intentionally wrong, an entire mission flawed by mistrust of the machine. The failure all mine; the final check, the final flight corrections made, by me, to save my own life.

Earth impact was four hours ago.

My love is dead.

I killed her.

I killed them all.



Author bio: John Xero writes tiny specks of distant light, bright enough to inspire ideas of other worlds and numerous enough to fill his hard drive with galaxies.
Stardust: twitter.com/xeroverse
Visible light: instagram.com/johnxero
Universe: xeroverse.com

Alone is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Impressions

by Phil Dyer

“This is ridiculous,” he says, squeaking a crayon peevishly across his faceplate.

“We’re not risking interstellar crisis for your ego,” I tell him, scrawling some final curls on my own helmet. “The Naur won’t speak to someone without a face. Self-expression is very important.”

“You’re sure the radiation-”

“It’s bad. Reflective visors only out there. Your eyes would boil.”

“Fine, done. Let’s get this over with.” We stand. We look like armoured clowns.
 
The Naur are also big on practical jokes. I nod to the others. Behind his back, we wipe our helmets clean and follow him onto the stage.



Author bio: Phil Dyer does medical research in Liverpool and writes spec fic on the side. His stories have appeared in Unfit Magazine, 101 Words and The Drabble. He retweets animal videos @ez_ozel.

Impressions is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Thousand

by A.F.E. Smith

From the shop window, it speaks to me: love and loss, beauty and despair, all caught on a single canvas.

A bell jangles as I walk in.

"How much for the painting in the window?" I ask.

The shopkeeper smiles. "It's worth what every picture is worth."

I hesitate, before nodding. It's a small price to pay.

He raises his hands to my temples, taking the thousand with a touch.

When I get home, I hang the painting on the wall. So perfect, the way it captures… those feelings…

But I can't name them. I no longer have the words.



Author bio: A.F.E. Smith is a fantasy author. You can find her on Twitter @afesmith or visit her website, www.afesmith.com.

Thousand is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Understudies

by Graham Scott

Carol’s husband left her for a hairdresser just before her daughter went to camp.

"I'm okay," Carol told May. "I'm fine. Go have fun."

But when May looked out the bus window, her mother was shaking.

The camp's rec room has a box of stubby old crayons. May draws animals she sees and sends them home, touched by tears and kisses. These, Carol posts on the fridge.

Every night, the animals scamper down, and for two weeks, they do dishes, bring Carol breakfast, nestle with her on the couch.

They keep all of May’s spots warm until she’s home again.



Author bio: Graham Robert Scott has published science-fiction in Nature, horror in Barrelhouse, and tiny stories in 50-Word Stories and on his Twitter feed (@graythebruce). His personal website, hemicyon.wordpress.com, takes its name from the prehistoric bear-dog, a toothy hunter that couldn't make up its mind what it was. As a college professor by day and creative writer by night, Graham identifies.

Understudies is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Itch

by Lucy Billington-Murphy

She admired her new tattoo: a black wolf, fangs bared, eyes blood red.

“It’ll itch,” he said. His tattoos were all predators, bloody-jawed after the hunt.

She woke that night with an itch in her arm that practically burned but when she looked at it her skin was clean like the needle had never been there. Across the room, red eyes glowed and something in the shadows moved so suddenly she never even blinked.

The tattooist slept. An image stalked across his arm, like ink on wet paper. A black wolf with red eyes, clutching a head in its jaws.



Author bio: Lucy loves to write and is starting to explore micro-fiction, which she finds an interesting challenge. She has been published at The Story Seed Vault and amongst other things, likes photography, tea, cats and mythology. She can be found on twitter @Tea_Faerie

Itch is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Appropriation

by Laila Amado

The artist came to town in September. He was quite a celebrity, his work evocative of early Picasso with its dancing shadows and splashes of ethereal light.

In the Arts School auditorium students crowded the stage, asking for autographs, offering to pose. She was thrilled when he chose her to sit for a portrait. After the first session, her roommate said she looked pale. After the second, the colour of her eyes dulled.

At the vernissage, the viewers praised the painting for its vibrant colours, its unique palette. Rumours were that the model had gone missing. Disappeared without a trace.



Author bio: Laila Amado has lived in four countries on two very different continents and is now settling into her new island life. A scientist by day, she is a writer of fiction and poetry by night. You can find her work in 365 Tomorrows, 101 Fiction, Enchanted Conversation Magazine, Gyroscope Review, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @onbonbon7

Appropriation is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Airbrushed

by A.F.E. Smith

I stare at the photo. You. Her. Eyes creased in sunlight. Matching smiles.

My replacement is young. Beautiful. As flawless as a cover model.

Save. Open. Edit. A frenzy of clicks. She may be lovely, but I can make this picture perfect.

First her face. Erase. Replace with sky.

Extend the wall, one brick at a time, to conceal her body.

Reconstruct your arm, occluded by her shoulders. Try not to remember the strength of it. The safety.

Finally, I've finished. The photo shows you, alone. Happy. Embracing empty air.

Elsewhere, you wake with a start to find her gone.



Author bio: A.F.E. Smith is a fantasy author. You can find her on Twitter @afesmith or visit her website, www.afesmith.com.

Airbrushed is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Regret

by E. M. Eastick

The grown children greeted him cordially, curiously; a long-lost relative come to pay respects to their father, the family resemblance unmistakeable – a familiar stranger.

The widow paled and reached for the photo frame perched on the coffin. Every detail was the same: the hair, the clothes, the casual smile. She remembered the day, a week before their wedding. They were young, in love and shamefully naïve.

“How?” she whispered, conscious of her age-torn face.

“Forgive me, dear.” He smiled sadly and turned for the door.

In her hands, the picture faded. Tears streaked the glass of wasted years. “I do.”



Author bio: E. M. Eastick is an Australian writer of no-fixed form or genre, whose creative efforts have appeared in The Literary Hatchet, Space Squid, and many fine anthologies.

Regret is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Dearest

by Susi J Smith

The scars deforming me don’t show, but I feel them, encasing my soul.

Each night hatred, revulsion, regret, battles fear, need, love. I watch out of uncurtained windows as night scurries into cracks and crevices. Constant nausea slims my frame, my clothes hang loose, unwashed. Photos of happy times mock me from my bedside and I rise to forage the empty kitchen.

In the living room my mother lies unconscious, her crack pipe on the bare floor. Her body jerks. Foam froths at her mouth then she stills. I pick up my school bag and head for the door, hopeful.



Author bio: Susi J Smith has been writing for over ten years and enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction. She is also a member of a local writing group. Susi has previously been published in 101Words.org, Zeroflash, and McStorrytellers. For more information, follow her on Twitter: @susi_moff or check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SusiJSmith/

Dearest is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Disfigured

by Bob Thurber

This is Lola in black and white. The turtleneck accentuates the sharpness of her birdlike bones while concealing her bruised throat.

Here she is in colour with her hair pinned up, minus the shirt.

That blotchy discoloration runs ear to ear.

A physician informed us the ruptured blood vessels may never recover.

So Lola uses makeup to hide the fact I took too long to rescue her.

My penknife was sharp but the rope, fisherman grade, was coarse and thick. I had to work at an impossible angle, one-handed, while shouldering her weight.

Lola’s lighter than a shadow.

But still…



Author bio: Bob Thurber is the author of "Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel" and the recipient of a long list of awards for short fiction.  
Visit his website at www.BobThurber.net
See his books at: https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Thurber/e/B004XPMPCO

Disfigured is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Afterlife

by John Xero

Languid sunlight oozed like honey through stained glass panels, coating the hallway, preserving lives in amber.

An oak-mounted barometer, fascinating, useless. A grandfather clock, pendulum still swinging when all other life had ceased. A painting: old troubled skies over a churning sea, one small vessel, two indistinct figures aboard.

Arthur imagined his grandparents still in the kitchen, pottering around, preparing tea and biscuits.

Saltwater spray kissed him. Wild currents dragged him under.

Cold drenched him, stole his breath. Weathered hands anchored him, pulled him from the convulsing sea, held him close as his grandparents’ voices wrapped him like a blanket.



Author bio: John Xero believes all sorts of worlds and possibilities lie a simple sidestep away, if only you learn to step between the warp and weft of reality. After all, what are pictures if not windows, or perhaps doorways?
Thumbnails: twitter.com/xeroverse
Portraits: instagram.com/johnxero
Landscapes: xeroverse.com

Afterlife is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Disappeared

by Tami Orendain

The portrait of my missing wife sits against our bedroom wall. It’s not quite finished yet. “It looks exactly like her,” people say, “before she disappeared.”

Whenever she looks unhappy, I’ve painted in things she likes. First, her favorite books. Then, our poodle. People think I gave the books and the dog away, but I didn't. I just painted them.

Yet she’s lonely. She cries gloopy paint tears. There’s only one thing left to add. I’ve already brought the mirror to the bedroom for reference. “I’m coming,” I whisper, stroking my brush near her cheek. She shivers. “Be there soon.”



Author bio: Tami Orendain is a Filipino-American writer who creates content for magazines (DisneyExaminer and SheLeadsDaily) and is carefully stepping into the world of fiction. By day she works for a children's hospital, and by night she stays up way too late reading and writing stories.

Disappeared is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Tuscany

by Voima Oy

Light flashed on his ruby ring. You make me look handsome, he laughed. I can see why you're the talk of Florence. Yes, I'd like another portrait. My new young wife. 

The new young wife was shy and obedient. She would meet him in the afternoons. You have beautiful eyes, he said.

My husband will be pleased with the portrait, she said. Could you paint the background just for me? Paint the fields of Tuscany. Paint two lovers under a tree. Paint your name and mine in the leaves, and two birds flying free. She smiled. He will never know.



Author bio: Voima Oy lives on the western rim of Chicago, near the expressway and the Blue Line trains. Her writing can be found online at VERStype, Unbroken Journal, Molotov Cocktail – Flash Worlds, The Cabinet of Heed, Burning House Press, Paragraph Planet and 101 Fiction.

Follow her on Twitter @voimaoy and #vss365

Tuscany is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.

Landscapes

by T. L. Sherwood

My grandmother was a truly gifted oil painter, exceptional. She took a necessary day job to pay the rent and purchase supplies. From her notebooks, I learned to pool saliva on my tongue, wet the bristles, then pull it out from between pursed lips with a counterclockwise twirl. She learned this from one of her fellow workers, another artist already suffering from radium exposure. They sat in a stuffy factory applying meticulous lines to the faces of clocks. Grandmother’s work lit up time in dark bedrooms, her body could trigger a Geiger counter, but her paintings, her paintings illuminated souls.



Author bio: T. L. Sherwood's work appears in Rosebud, New World Writing, and Vestal Review among other places. Her blog, "Creekside Reflections" can be found here: http://tlsherwood.wordpress.com/

Landscapes is part of 101 Fiction issue 23.


June 2019. Issue 23. Postscript.

Make the most of the failing light, for the sun is setting and the darkness at the end of things will soon be upon us. This marks the end of issue 23. Unless you are here on Monday 10th June, 2019, in which case your eyes deceive you and this thin light is the herald of dawn, the rising of a new sun as our June issue goes live this very day. Return to us throughout the day and explore the expanding exhibition of tiny stories... entry to the gallery is always free.

If you have read issue 23 from beginning to end then there is no reason to stop there. Logic dictates there are 22 issues before this one, and logic is right (not always so in our stories...). Keep on scrolling back for more themed issues, and then keep scrolling back because before we were a quarterly we were already publishing 100 word stories one by one. We've been doing this since 2011...!

Thank you for reading, we hope you've enjoyed what you've read and that you'll come back for more.

Thank you always to everyone our amplifies our tiny signal and spreads it far and wide, all those tweets and retweets, blogs and nods. You make a tiny thing big.

And thank you, of course and most importantly, to our contributors. It's all the shades of your varied imaginations that bring this place to life, that make it a pleasure to put every issue together.

If you want to be a part of our little big dreams then watch this space or follow us on twitter for the next announced theme and submissions period.

Keep writing.

Keep reading.

Have fun.

-John Xero.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

June issue open for submissions.

Submissions now closed.

From now until Sunday 12th May we are open for submissions!

This year's cycle of themes kicked off with maps, and what an inspiring theme that turned out to be (do check out the eighteen excellent stories that made the cut). Following the picturesque path we find our next theme... We're looking for 100 word stories with a focus on pictures (be that paintings, drawings or photos).

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I dispute that - I've seen the pictures our authors can paint with only a hundred words.

It could be the famous fashion photographer, hanging a photo in his private gallery, smiling as the supermodel's soul pounds at the glass with tiny fists, walking away to the rising murmur of hundreds of tiny fists. The painter whose alien landscapes are so evocative that viewers swear they see the twisted trees and lurid rivers moving, who paints strange ragged toothy creatures into his latest work; creatures that emerge from the canvas after dark. Three spurned friends lighting candles, drinking wine and incinerating photos of their exes, waking the next day to hear that those same exes burned to death in the night. The portrait artist who never seems to age while his subjects waste away within months of sitting for him. The magic pencil that grants its user whatever superpower they can sketch themselves having. The huge portrait of a kingdom's founder, hung behind the throne, his benevolent smile shifting unpleasantly as his voice compels each new king who sits upon the throne, making his reign truly unending.

Pictures must be central to the story in some way, it is not enough to simply mention one in the background. The picture can be of any kind - a painting, a drawing, a photo. It could be shot on the most expensive camera and displayed on an ultra HD screen the size of a house, or it can be a child's crayon drawing on the kitchen floor. Let your imagination loose.

We primarily accept genre fiction - horror, sci-fi, fantasy, a little crime and surrealism - but if a story stands out, if it gets our attention and excites us, then we're going to jump on it.

The story must be 100 words exactly, it must have a single word title and that title cannot be 'picture' or any variation thereof (in this case that includes photo, drawing, painting etc. too). For full details check out our guidelines here.

Imagine.

Create.

Have fun!

Sunday, 10 March 2019

March 2019. Issue 22.

You found your way to issue 22; welcome. I’d ask about the journey – the journey is always key – but this time we’re more interested in the map. After all, this is our map-themed issue. Come on in, explore our eighteen different and tiny takes on the theme. Let us lead you down paths unexpected.

From treasure maps to tactical maps, magical maps, world maps, heists and holidays, maps are ever-present in our lives, in our fiction and non-fiction, in films and in games. Maps are a part of our common language. They are a way of describing our world, of attempting to know the unknown. And because the idea of maps is so deeply imbedded in our collective psyche it easily makes the leap to metaphor, we understand we are being shown a representation, an interpretation, of territory, whether it be internal or external.

Our eighteen stories traverse boundaries and explore diverse genres. Some of these diversions will lead you through the heart, and the hurt that comes with it, the longing, the lust. There are dark streams flowing through and through, from supernatural horror, to human horror, to everyday horror. There are maps of humanity, maps of murder, and maps that transcend time. There are even actual maps. There are tattoos and sea captains, treasure and distant shores, as is only right.

The maps theme inspired our authors in all the ways we hoped it would, and a few we never thought it could. All the stories here will take you places you didn’t expect, they will show you the path then lead you astray... I’m afraid it’s up to you to find your way back home.

Read.

Absorb.

Enjoy.

____

Head south for the stories (scroll down), or bring up the whole issue by clicking here. Alternatively, if you want to have the issue on hand for those out of signal areas (here be monsters), there's a handy free .pdf available here.

Terminal

by Shannon Bell

Darkness drops its anchor, spreading like ink. Silence holds me gently as my existence unrolls before me like fragile, ancient parchment.

Failures, sins, stains; the pins that track an empty, wasted life.

I scream into the void inside me. I rake my nails across this map of my soul until it is disfigured, shredded, destroyed.

Malignant fingers pull at the threads, stretching them tight.

Light fades and drains away. I am as black as death inside. Wings flutter toward me, stitching death around me like a spider wrapping its prey.

The map burns. Soon I will be ashes and dust.



Author bio: Shannon Bell is addicted to words. You will find him madly writing away in the spare time he has available between holding down a full-time job, being part of a dysfunctional family and looking after his attention seeking dog. His stories have been published in Dark Edifice, Short & Twisted, 101 Fiction and strippedlit500. You can follow Shannon on Twitter at @ShannonBell1967.

Terminal is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Metadata

by Rachel Newcombe

The Paris Review rests in the middle of the bed opened to the Hilton Als interview, you probably nodded off, a bloody cotton ball your bookmark.

It’s my first time back, the comforter is smooth and the extra pillows propped on your side; you liked it that way for reading.  Stacked on your nightstand, The White Review, The Lonely Crowd, and in the drawer I never opened, two unused syringes.

I should’ve known.

You rejected maps, declaring our love was the only guide we needed.

I should’ve insisted.

With a legend, I may have been able to decode your addiction.



Author bio: Rachel Newcombe is a psychoanalyst in the San Juan Islands and Seattle Washington. Her writing can be found in Contemporary Psychoanalysis, The Rumpus, Anti-Heroin Chic, Hippocampus, 7x7LA and elsewhere.

She is on twitter: @rachelnewcombe8

Metadata is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Legacy

by Elizabeth Spring

My mother never feared getting older. She used to say that wrinkles and furrows were trenches in the battle for dignity.

She would ask: ‘Can you read my smile? It tells of adventure, its lines a map guiding you to the truth of who we are. They are my beauty.'

Her lips read like a musical score; her eyes, deep fantasy. The arch of her eyebrow told a tale of mystery; the sheen of her hair was pure poetry.

Even Death fell enamoured of her; stole her away; but my mother left her face in my mirror, as her legacy.



Author bio: Elizabeth Spring is an English teacher, photographer, traveller. She writes mostly fantasy fiction and poetry. Lately, she has found delight in writing very short stories and micro fiction on twitter: @ESWarriorPoet.

Legacy is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Lost

by Sam Shingler

She had agreed to meet him at sunset.

True to her word she stood by the shore, naked.

As he approached, he saw a tattoo that glowed in the fading light, it appeared to trace a path down her spine.

He ran his finger along the line, expecting her to turn and smile.

Fear filled him as he looked down to see she had turned to sand. In his hand a map, the same trail as on her skin.

Along the top the words that would drive him to search for evermore…

I will be lost until you find me.



Author bio: My name is Sam Shingler, I live in Suffolk with my partner, two mad Siberian huskies and a pair of feathered friends.
I love to write.

Lost is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Delicate

by Chip Houser

A wrinkled sheet of parchment skips corner over corner across an empty plaza of cracked and heaving stone. A wavering cry rises from a collapsed hall. The machines that fought here have rusted to shapeless mounds, their soldiers' bones scavenged long ago. The parchment catches on a clattering stand of dry stalks rising from a mound. Dark splashes dimple the fluttering parchment like the islands of a whimsical archipelago. A delicate map in an age that lacks delicacy. A map describing the mysterious geography of a small violence. Its howling cartographer is no longer hungry, but she is now alone.



Author bio: Chip Houser's short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, Every Day Fiction, and elsewhere in print and online.

Delicate is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Fading

by Simon Williams

Sunlight – real, blue, sunlight – slanted through the sealed crylic. As he inhaled, slowly, painfully, the map became visible to her fourth-level receptors. As breath left him, the shapes disappeared. All his life from pre-seed had led to this, the discovery of the map. Timing was everything. The closer to fading his life came, the clearer the map showed in his spirit shape. His eyelids slid open again. Find them, he implored her. The door shook. I will. Her eyes flashed and with a silenced sigh he faded, his soul-motes drifting downward, returning to the greenheart as the hunters burst in.



Author bio: Simon Williams lives in Edinburgh, writes short fiction and posts it at www.simonsalento.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @simonsalento.

Fading is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Cartomancer

by John Xero

Tears of night bled from his emerald eyes, dripping into a copper chalice, a pooling void. He dipped his archaeopteryx feather quill and began to draw.

The pale leather he worked on was stained and yellowed as his teeth. His voice was the long death of mountains groaning as ice and wind scour and devour them. His words were slow, like drips of drying blood.

“Time is just as measurable as distance, as contoured as any landscape. Demonstrably not linear: this skin is from my grandfather, killed before my father was even conceived. Yet here I am, still, mapping eternity.”



Author bio: John Xero thinks all stories are maps of sorts, and maps are just a different way of telling a story. He’s been writing for twenty years, exploring new storyscapes and finding ways to capture them for others to travel.
Napkin maps: xeroverse
World maps: xeroverse.com
Biographical maps: instagram.com/johnxero

Cartomancer is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Treasure

by Ross Jeffery

X marks the spot, denotes where to break soil. This land is too familiar, a peach-coloured map of my own creation, if I were a cartographer I’d be proud. But the contour lines seem to move at will, negating their original purpose. Lines wriggle closer, mountains give way to valleys. Rivers change course, carving up the familiar into an unacquainted landscape. Since the parasites, things have not been easy. I glance up, see the X in the mirror. The infiltrating forces converge, fidgeting under my flesh. An X upon my heart. I pull the scalpel back and drive it home.



Author bio: Ross Jeffery is a Bristol based writer and Executive Director of Books for STORGY Magazine. He is an avid reader of an eclectic mix of fiction and is a lover of the short story form. Ross has been published in print with STORGY Books Exit Earth (Daylight Breaks Through), Project 13 Dark (Bethesda) and Shlock Magazine (Toilet Trauma) – his work has also appeared online at STORGY Magazine, About Magazine TX (After He's Gone) and Idle Ink (Judgements). Ross lives in south Bristol with his wife (Anna) and two children (Eva and Sophie). You can follow him on Twitter here @Ross1982

Treasure is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Quest

by Serena Jayne

Despite my promise to protect your hidden treasures with the avarice of a dragon, my queen, you grant no guidance to aid my quest. Do you fear that once your secrets are revealed, I’ll abandon you to seek new challenges?

The paths lead nowhere. Dead ends abound. With neither compass nor map, I am lost; frantic to find my way.

Now my arms ache with my attempts to reach the centre of your labyrinth. The effort makes me sweat. Makes you bleed. Destroys you from the outside in. Yet, I come no closer to solving the puzzle of your heart.



Author bio: Serena Jayne received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a research scientist, a fish stick slinger, a chat wrangler, and a race horse narc. When she isn’t trolling art museums for works that move her, she enjoys writing in multiple fiction genres. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, the Oddville Press, 101Fiction, Switchblade Magazine, and other publications.

My social media links are as follows:
https://www.facebook.com/SerenaJayneWriter/
Twitter: @SJ_Writer
Instagram: @jayneserenawriter
Website: serenajayne.com

Quest is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Sight

by Madeline Mora-Summonte

Jenny listens at Clara's bedroom door, hears scratching.

No one likes babysitting Kooky Clara, with her spooky silence and blank eyes, but her parents pay well, and Clara's no trouble. Usually.

Jenny goes in, gasps.

A map of their town covers the walls, floor to ceiling.

Clara can't reach.

Buildings, roads labelled.

Clara can't read, write.

Slashed X's over all the houses, except Clara's. Two girls huddle in the basement. Clara circles them again, again.

Clara can't see.

Screams tear through the streets.

Jenny grabs Clara. They run for the basement.

Halfway down the stairs, they are plunged into darkness.



Author bio: Madeline Mora-Summonte is a writer, a reader, a beach-comber, and a tortoise-owner. She is the author of the flash fiction collections The People We Used To Be and Garden of Lost Souls.

Sight is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Shore

by Michael S. Manley

The Chrysanthemum ran down a westing, hull broken, wedged across the leviathan’s back. Captain had harpooned the barrel-wide eye, piercing deep some monstrous part of monstrous brains.

Thirty-odd noondays since, Navigator shimmied up the wine-dark dorsal, pointed the astrolabe, crawled back to the fo’c’sle where hanged the salvaged lunars, marked off blank distances on vellum scrolls from the hold: Here Cook lies at rest. Here Cabin-Boy. Here Stevedore.

Great Old Ones willing, you’ll soon draw new borders, Captain said again. Soon, I’m sure.

They wept when Lookout called from the crow’s nest the sweetest word in any tongue at sea.



Author bio: Michael S. Manley lives in Chicago, where he works as a software engineer. He maintains an online presence at https://michael.manley.org/

Shore is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Pyrate

by John Xero

The captain’s coat was like wet tar, thick and heavy with a mean dark shine; his tricorne too. His face was shadow, but his eyes... his eyes were embers, red and dangerous.

Javier could not keep the tremor from his voice. “Thissus the Mappe, yer fearsomeness, to Cap’n Webb’s treasure.”

Crooked hook-nailed fingers curled like talons around the yellowing scroll and tossed it to the nearby brazier. Greedy flames devoured the old paper.

Javier grabbed for his cutlass, faltered.

The captain’s gaze burnt brighter. “What the fire consumes it knows forever, and the Pyrate needs no map but the flames.”



Author bio: Stare into a fire long enough and you realise it knows everything, if only you could understand what it was trying to say. John Xero feels that way about the world.
Flaming shots: @xeroverse
Around the camp fire: xeroverse.com
Afterimages: instagram.com/johnxero

Pyrate is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Hunger

by Scott Paul Hallam

He explores my tattoos with his tongue.

“My body is a map. Follow the dragon’s scales. I assure you, treasure awaits.”

He’s rough, his kisses clumsy from whiskey. At the bar, I laughed at his jokes, feigned interest in his band. Now, his lips travel up my thigh, past my stomach, where the black dragon twists around skulls with leering eyes.

The beast’s elongated neck curves around my breast, its head rests on my shoulder, its fiery tongue licks the nape of my neck.

His final kiss exposes his jugular, pulsating, ready for my teeth, ready to satiate my hunger.



Author bio: Scott Paul Hallam is a dark fiction writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has been published in Cease, Cows; Switchblade Magazine; Night to Dawn Magazine; Unnerving’s “Hardened Hearts” anthology; and Sanitarium Magazine among others. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottHallam1313.

Hunger is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Fairfield

by Ed Broom

"Sir, I’ve got something."

All eyes swung to the rookie.

"Spit it out, Fairfield," I said. His centre parting joined me at the incident board.

"Sir, both Henry Bergholt and Eddie Wickham had blue lettering on their foreheads. But the third victim, Jimmy Bentley, had 'B2' in red."

"It’s not some bloody Radio 4 whodunnit, Fairfield. Your point?"

"This, sir".

Fairfield waved the local 'A to Z'.

"C1, the gallery where we found Wickham. G3? The baths. Bentley."

"Excellent. But why switch to red?"

"Large scale, sir. Eight inches to the mile. More precise."

"And B2?"

"Here, sir. The station."



Author bio: Ed Broom works in IT but tells his children that he's a lighthouse keeper. He lives in Ipswich and likes to track down crinkle-crankle walls.

Twitter – @edbroom

Fairfield is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Headlights

by Brianna Dimarino

Check the map Sarah, check the map. I hear it, it’s faint. I hear it over and over. Check the map Sarah, check the map. It’s dark, impossibly dark. I feel numb, like I no longer have a body. It was raining, I can hear the rain. There’s arguing, I am arguing, we are arguing. Check the map Sarah, check the map. Our yelling is loud. Too loud. We were lost, I am lost. Then, there’s a horn, a loud horn. And lights, bright, bright lights, headlights. There’s a crash, then there’s nothing. Check the map Sarah, check the map.



Author bio:  Brianna is a freshman at the Savannah College of Art and Design and is studying production design.
https://twitter.com/b_dimarino

Headlights is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Lineage

by Anika Carpenter

I drove my toy cars around the block patterns on Nana’s carpet, but when she put a steaming cup of tea next to me I didn’t imagine vast heating systems. New York meant nothing to me then.

The family cleared Nana’s bungalow, I claimed the tea set. The cracks in the glaze perfectly mirrored the layout of the fields around the village she’d lived in all her life.

Holding a cup close to my ear, over the sound of yellow cabs and buskers drumming trash cans, I hear, “I will bring you home. Every day you’ll lay flowers for me”.



Author bio: Ammophilous writer, art tutor & sucrologist. Longlisted in Reflex Fiction's Autumn 2018 comp, Winner TSS Flash 400 Winter 2018, runner-up BIFFY50 Microfiction Contest (autumn), long-listed Bath Flash Fiction Award October 2018, Highly Commended Dempsey & Windle Memorial Poetry Competition 2018.
https://www.anikacarpenter.com/
@stillsquirrel

Lineage is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Perfume

by Voima Oy

"Between the lines of certain old maps, the scent of that flower lingers."

Her name was Carmen de Luna, a professor in the botany department. She recalled her trip up the Amazon, the heat and mosquitoes, a mansion in the jungle hidden by vines and white flowers. There was a jaguar sleeping on the sofa in the living room, a carpet covered with butterflies.

Later, I looked for the map in the college library, but I became lost in a labyrinth of numbers.

I thought I heard the rumbling of a jaguar.

I thought I could smell her elusive perfume.



Author bio: Voima Oy lives on the western rim of Chicago, near the expressway and the Blue Line trains. Her writing can be found online at VERStype, Paragraph Planet, 101 Fiction, Unbroken Journal, Vignette Review, Molotov Cocktail--Flash Worlds, Burning House Press, and The Cabinet of Heed.

Follow her on Twitter, too— @voimaoy and #vss365.

Perfume is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

Tattooist

by Ted Underwood

Dip. Scratch. Draw. Repeat. He was nothing if not methodical. A celestial map tattooed upon two favoured concubines was The Emperor's wish.

Tsi, whose hair smelt of the tundra, whose eyes shone the fierce blue of winter skies, was The North.

Shun, whose lips tasted of oceans, whose generous curves were adorned with nothing but pearls, was The South.

His days were filled with soft flesh, deep moans and the metallic scent of drizzling blood. Sweat played upon his temples and the needle slipped between trembling fingers. He breathed deeply. And longed for night, where his dreams were his own.



Author bio: Ted Underwood is a teacher, poet and occasional (bad) actor. He lives in the shadow of the beautiful Malvern Hills with his wonderful, and much appreciated, family.

Tattooist is part of 101 Fiction issue 22.

March 2019. Issue 22. Postscript.

The end of the road, or perhaps, if today is Sunday 10th March 2019, this is only the beginning of your journey. If the 'You Are Here' on the map of your life is indeed pointing to that day then welcome, and join us! As the day passes like a rolling landscape outside our windows, stories will appear, villages to visit briefly, stops along the way that will transport you to different lives, minds, worlds. Come along with us for the ride.

If that's a journey you have already taken, however, a day beyond that date, and you have walked issue 22's paths and arrived at the end then perhaps take a rest, join us in the Pub Between Worlds. And when you are ready, set off deeper into the woods and wild lands of 101 Fiction. There are 21 issues before this one, all exploring a particular theme through a number of genres and voices. And even before issue 1, 101 Fiction regularly published stories. We've been here for 8 years and in that time we've published around five hundred stories! All available for you to wander on through and discover. And enjoy.

We hope you do enjoy them. We hope you've enjoyed this issue. Thank you for visiting, and for reading.

In fact, this is where we drop all our thank yous. Thank you to everyone who helps put us on the map, with tweets, retweets, and likes; with blog posts; by word of mouth. We wouldn't be where we are without you. The biggest thank you, always, goes to our contributors, to everyone who takes the time to put ink to paper (or fingers to keys, really), everyone who dives deep inside and discovers something interesting, exciting, outstanding and then shares it, with us and our readers. Thank you all.

And if you want to be a part of this little big thing we urge you to have a go, all are welcome. Just keep an eye out here, 101fiction.com, or our twitter, @101fiction, for details of our next theme and submissions period.

Keep writing.

Keep reading.

Have fun.

-John Xero.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

March Issue Open for Submissions.

We are now closed for submissions.

From now until Sunday 10th February we are open for submissions!

And with a new year comes a new cycle of themes, and this year is something a little different. For our first step on the path we're looking for 100 word stories revolving around, or featuring: maps.

Maps describe our landscape, any landscape; they show a route through danger, uncertainty, or into adventure; sometimes they show us what we don't know and... Here be monsters.

Where will your story take us...? It could be a star map or a treasure map or a map to lost Atlantis. It could be a child's crayon scribblings, actually the topography of her inner imaginings, a father's only hope of finding her where she is lost. Perhaps the map is described in an ancient song, passed from generation to generation. Maybe it is inscribed on a dragon's scale - a ferocious still-living ice dragon. Perhaps it shows the only safe passage through treacherous reefs to reach the Isle of Eternity, and the legendary Aeon Tree. Or maybe the Horotrix have lost their one true map of all time and space, that looks uncannily like a model of a human brain with flickering neurons, the pathways between stars dancing across the cosmos like dreams and secret thoughts. Or maybe we're following the Witch Guard, as they attempt to map the tidal landscape of the Ley Lands.

The story must include a map in some way, though the map can take any form or could even be one that hasn't yet been made. Other than that, it is your journey to take us on. We mostly publish horror, science fiction, and fantasy. We publish a little surreal and crime fiction. But anything that stops us in our tracks and makes us want to re-tread our steps and re-read your story is what we're after.

In brief... The story must be exactly 100 words, with a one word title, and the title cannot be 'map' or any variation thereof. Our full submissions guidelines are here.

Show us the way...

Imagine.

Create.

Have fun!