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Valerie Geary

     After his wife left, Arnie joined the circus. He expected candy apple red, all glitter and laughing elephants. They gave him a flashlight and a badge, made him Security. Now he patrols shadows, narrow, hidden places. Tells young gropers, "Move on." Tells punks, "No smoking." Catching glimpses through half open tent flaps, he imagines himself spinning, riding white horses, juggling, shouting in a megaphone. Anything but this. "The contortionist needs ice," the clown says. "Pulled her groin putting her leg over her head." On his way out, he sets the lions free. Nothing at first. Then: screaming, panic. Arnie smiles.

Valerie Geary has had short fiction published in several publications including Foundling Review, Menda City Review, Flashquake, and the UK publication, Litro.

The Last Word
Michael McGovern

     Lord Mulkington retched and coughed, then motioned for his family to draw near his deathbed. His young wife sidled up, laid a hand upon his wrinkled brow and pursed her lips in an approximation of sympathy; her time on the stage served her well in these final, desperate hours of gold-diggery. His sister Agnetha emitted soothing noises, but continued stuffing petit fours in her quivering maw. His layabout son whined and sighed at the imposition, but reluctantly slumped to the bedside. When they crowded close, Lord Mulkington hacked and wheezed, spittle flying, and uttered his dying words: "It's contagious."

Michael McGovern

     He bellowed and gnashed his long teeth, hurling himself with all his animal might at the walls of his prison, his muscles aching under his fur. "Look upon this day when you granted me intellect and self-awareness and weep, mortal man! Your time as dominant species ends now!" The nearby lab assistant, hearing him speak for the first time, squealed with joy, pulled him from his cage and showered him with kisses. She spent the rest of the day stitching adorable, tiny outfits, and that was pretty much the end of the rise of the planet of the hamsters.

Michael McGovern lives in the wild Northwoods of Tomahawk, Wisconsin with his wife and two children. He's been on the air in Tomahawk at WJJQ FM radio for ten years. Michael has written short stories, a play, a comic book and comic strips, and is currently working on a novel.

James Pouilliard

     Anticipating a surprise that no one planned, the retiring editor lingered at her desk until the publisher and all the writers left for lunch. It wasn’t like she was expecting a gold watch (these being lean times for print media) but a farewell meal… that, at least. Chagrined, she sent me to the delicatessen for a pastrami and Swiss on rye (hold the mustard) that she unwrapped while reviewing the last pages of mediocrity she would ever have to salvage. When she said, “This is the best sentence I ever ate,” I hoped she was also reading a delicious sandwich.

James Pouilliard has worked as a writer, marketer, editor and publisher. One of his most recent short stories appears in the February 2012 edition of scissors and spackle. He lives in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

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