Moons of Blood and Amber by Gene Mederos
“Are these the chosen ones?” It asked in a low, cold voice. The crowd murmured their assent. “And are the choosers also present?”
“Aye,” said four shaky voices, barely loud enough to be heard.
“Then, the Dark Lord willing, these four sacrifices will suffice to appease the sleeper…” But Dallan could no longer hear anything the shade priest said past the blood pounding in his ears. If no god of Hallow but the Dark Lord would sanction what was being done to them, then Dallan knew that there was no hope for him. A cruel and terrible death awaited him in the pit.
Monument by Steven Adamson
“We could just meet for a few hours at a motel here in the city,” he had told me. “That way I wouldn’t have to get any permission.”
No, for me it was to be Clair de Lune or nothing. I wanted candlelight and music, fresh air and wine. Most of all, I wanted to hold him through the night. Or was it that I wanted him to hold me?
Lord Ronan’s Shoes by Astrid Amara
Evander soon learned that his new master was a hard man, greatly feared by all who worked for him. The first piece of advice Evander received was from Lord Ronan’s butler and Master of Servants, Mr. Manfrey, who advised Evander never to make eye contact with the lord, as it would inevitably lead to a thrashing.
But unlike the other servants, Evander found it difficult to keep his eyes off Lord Ronan.
Los Conversos by Jesse Sandoval
Only my grandmother had ever known how I came by my pearls. I still remember her hunched by the fire, spitting opals into the flames, as she waited for my grandfather to come home. At dawn he would stagger in, reeking of wine and the sea. The fireplace would be pitted with the cracked remains of precious stones.
“He gets drunk and fucks the fishes,” grandmother would say with her scraping Egyptian accent. “Your aunts are all mermaids.”
She was not the kind of woman who lied, but her honesty was strange and profane.
The Lost Gentleman by Mark Allan Gunnells
Looking down to the first floor, he noticed that the light emanating from the parlor was stronger now, though still flickering, shadows dancing wildly throughout the foyer. Jeremy sniffed the air and detected the distinctive aroma of burning wood, and faintly he heard a sharp crackling. Starting down the stairs, Jeremy suddenly paused on the third step down, glancing back at the upstairs hallway. There were several closed doors; secrets hidden, revelations waiting to be discovered.
Release in A Minor by Tenea D. Johnson
“Just tell me what you see.”
For a second more, his back remained tense. He turned to his lover, craning his neck to come eye-to-eye. “I saw magic.” He paused, waiting for reproach. Only the cicadas answered.
“Balls of fire in the sky, over there,” Tony said, pointing off to the left, “and there.”
Clyde rested his chin on Tony’s shoulder and looked up into his eyes, a smile playing at his lips.
“Ball lightning.” His voice was soft, satiated. “No one knows what causes it.”
“You’ve seen it before?” Tony asked, wonder calming his tone.
“Every time, mon cher,” Le Appeleurf replied. “Every time.”
The Coming of the Fourth Dawn by Jeremiah Job Levine
Chalith and I worked as bodyguards and caravan protectors. Business was far from steady, but it was enough to survive. Between Chalith’s sowrd and my own skills, we had acquired a solid reputation. Of course tongues wagged, the same small-minded whisperings about unnatural unions that followed us wherever we went. But no one said these things to our faces, and if anything, our scandalous partnership may have even added to our mystique. Certainly, we were sought out by many who had dangerous roads to travel. The Children of the Fourth Dawn were no exception.
Fag Hag by Lawrence Schimel
The witch’s fork fell to the floor during dinner.
“Man coming,” Avery told her.
The witch did not doubt her familiar. He had always been better than she at reading omens.
“I wonder what he wants,” she said, wiping the fork against her skirt and knowing Avery would know. She stared at the cat, who would not open his yellow eyes to look at her. His tail swished back and forth over the edge of the table.
Remember by Astrid Amara
As I shaved, I noted a bite mark on my neck. I attempted to recall the moment, but the evening was already fading from my mind. The memories of my affairs, plagued by guilt, always seemed anxious to dispel themselves. It was a great pity, this failing memory of mine. I wanted to fall back on these dangerous affairs to last me through the long years of my impending marriage. And yet here I was, less that twelve hours past my latest sin, and I could hardly recall the gentleman’s face, let alone his intimate affections.
Crossing the Distance by Erin MacKay
“Why do they stare?” I whispered. Trest replied without speaking.
Because we are White Children and they wonder if we will be taken to the Guildhouse to become Relays.
Instantly I got this image of tall, ghostly people clothed in the black robes of their office, who moved purposefully and silently through the sunlit corridors. I had seen them in his thoughts over the years, and now I leapt at the chance to ask him about them. “What are they?”
His understanding was so vague that I made him stop walking and concentrate. “We serve the king. We… we talk to each other’s minds.”
Feral Machines by Ginn Hale
Through the haze of smoke, the synthetic looked almost human. Except the shoulders were far too wide and the limbs moved too fluidly. The synthetic observed Andrew with dull, red eyes set into hard, simple features that resembled an ancient battle mask.
Andrew retreated a step. Despite his familiarity with the concept of synthetics, (they were a popular and easy subject for second-level science reports), Andrew had never seen one in the flesh.
Decent people with good educations and middle-class families were never exposed to war machines like this one.