Audition – R. F. Marazas
2000 word General Fiction
Brad Chance brings his trumpet to an audition that will change his life.
Ready. Shaved, dressed, creases sharp. Brad breathes deep, checks his image, skims fingers over his crew cut. Ready. Scans the messy room: scattered clothes, paperbacks, music charts, tangled bed covers on the carpet. He feels groggy from a poor night’s sleep and jittery from the first replay of the dream in years. Early childhood formed the dream, vague at first, later building to a nightmare that wrenched him from sleep trembling and crying. Always the same; loud whump, high-pitched scream abruptly stopped, open car window, flying through the air and stopping, gasping for breath. Maggie always soothed him, whispered about a car crash and memory buried deep. He didn’t understand but he trusted Maggie. She told him it was all right.
Beyond My Window – R. F. Marazas
2600 words Science Fiction
There are strange doppelgangers on the planet Mars.
Letter to General Harrison from Oliver Hazard Perry, dated: United States Brig Niagara, off the Western Sisters, September 10, 1813, 4 P.M. “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” Beyond my window the sands of Mars shift like some great restless beast disturbed in sleep. Something undefined nags at me. Not the whiplash storm that greeted us at touchdown, keeping us prisoners for twenty-six hours listening to the sand pound in sheets against the hull. Not the eerie deathlike non-movement after the storm that makes a silence you don’t need to hear because you can actually see it. This is something else, unreal. Something.
Fugue State – R. F. Marazas
1350 words Ghost Story
Robert takes a trip to discover why he can’t recall his past life.
Carrying a single bag, the young man is travelling alone at his whim with no particular destination in mind. Yet he senses something drawing him to some unknown place. He is not particularly confused by this feeling. Nothing confuses him because he can’t remember his life. Well that’s not entirely true. He does remember the city where he boarded the train he’s now on, and the tiny apartment where he lived, and the menial job he had in a fast food restaurant a scant few blocks from his apartment. What he can’t recall is how he came to the city or how long he’s been there or the rest of his life before he suddenly (to his mind) appeared in the city.
Pelham’s Saturday Morning Frolics – R. F. Marazas
2400 words General Fiction
Adman Barney Pelham has a breakdown and turns a quiet Saturday into chaos.
He stepped naked onto his moon splashed lawn and had the crazy sensation that he would sink and drown. He did not drown. Too many manhattans gurgled in his stomach, keeping him buoyant. He mumbled complaints about the party, same old faces, same conversations, a duplication of the sameness that had begun to smother his life. When had he first noticed that? A mischievous breeze sifted through his body hair, separating them so each received an equal share of the moon’s light. The grass did not make his feet tingle. He was sad about that. A man should feel something with grass caressing his soles and heels, with moonlight caressing his naked body. He’d been unfeeling for so long. Maybe it was like getting a suntan, you had to do it in stages.
Remembering Teresa – R. F. Marazas
2600 words General Fiction
Douglas returns home years later to ease his guilt for betraying his first love.
There was a four-lane highway where the old two-lane road should have been. His sudden confusion got him hopelessly lost. For a time he drove aimlessly in the rental, past an enormous mall, then saw the sign that had him going in the right direction. He recognized nothing. Forty years, what did he expect? Slate gray sky hovered, pressing shabbiness on the town frozen in time. A railroad town with no railroad, a ghost town. Few people on the streets, fewer cars. He fumbled his reading glasses on to see the street signs. Alfalfa Avenue came up too quickly. He left turned wide, heard the tires squeal, careened into the wrong lane, jerked the wheel back and banged into the curb. Luckily there was no traffic. He turned the ignition off, sat there breathing quick little gasps.
Scars – R. F. Marazas
2200 words General Fiction
Ellen meets her sister Holly after ten years and learns some disturbing things about herself.
Ellen saw only the scar. It forced the patchwork apartment and its shabby contents to the background. It blocked out Holly’s features, body, clothes. All else was a blur once Ellen saw the scar. Holly grinned, yelled, flung arms around her sister. If Ellen stiffened Holly showed no awareness. Ellen found herself overcome with relief when Holly pressed the good cheek against hers. Obligatory embrace done, Ellen was ashamed. Fortunate girl, the hideous scar didn’t touch you, contaminate you.
Shatterings – R. F Marazas
1500 word General Fiction
On the Stilton’s fortieth wedding anniversary, their family implodes.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way – Leo Tolstoy. Paula was late for the anniversary party, but that was Paula. I hadn’t expected her, but that was Paula too, flying in at the last minute. I caught Valerie’s frantic wave from under the stairs, the phone circling above her head. I weaved my way through the growing crowd. Valerie held the phone out like a dead mouse and made a face. “Your twin.” “Your sister.” “Don’t remind me.”
The Dance of Life – R. F. Marazas
2100 words Children 10-12 years
Sniff and Butch deal with a grandfather’s death in a unique way.
Sniff Berry’s mother refused to let him wear his new six guns to the wake. So with his impatient jiggling boy’s body he wandered sulking through the black-creped crowd of adults, sniffing in short rhythmic bursts like someone with a perpetually runny nose. Butch Arcade’s grandfather had given him the nickname, joking that it was perfect for a boy who could sniff out trouble better than any other boy in town. Now Butch Arcade’s grandfather was in a coffin.
The Duck – R F Marazas
2000 words Black Humour
A unlikeable man is turned upon by his own town when he kills a bird on a golf course.
Actually it was a Canada goose, but the distinction was lost on Laffer. The committee members pierced him with hard stares. This didn’t faze him. His return stare was haughty, condescending, disbelieving. They had never liked him. From the very moment that Merkle sponsored him for admission into the club, they had shown reluctance and even disdain. But he had done brilliant work on Merkle’s teeth and Merkle owed him. Merkle had come through. What puzzled Laffer was that the man hadn’t spoken two words to him since, and he always seemed to have something else to do when Laffer needed a partner. “Let’s take a little stroll out to the thirteenth.” The other members agreed and Laffer felt a shudder of wariness slide up his spine.
Wonderfulland – R. F. Marazas
2200 word General Fiction / Fantasy
Harry Lork takes his family on a vacation from hell.
Harry Lork paused to curse his stupidity. Stupid for listening to George, for being here, for being anywhere at all on vacation with these three. These three: wife, son, daughter. They stood away from him down the crunch gravel path, waiting like an impatient firing squad. Harry had hurried ahead of them until he reached the huge boulder, had pretended to empty his shoes of phantom pieces of gravel, had bent to linger over re-tying his shoelaces. The things you do to get away from them for only a short time.