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Christmas with Stanley-Fiction by Robert Kokan
Gravedigger Sunrise-Fiction by Zach Wilhide
Billy at One O'clock-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Christine's Tune-Fiction by Andrew J. Kolarik
Paid in Full-Fiction by Bill Baber
Is Today the Day?-Fiction by Thomas X. Cross
Dead Bodies Everywhere-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Murphy's Law-Fiction by Edward Ahern
The Ghost in the Factory-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
Communication Breakdown-Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
So Long, and Thanks for All the Texts-Fiction by Jay Adair
Time-Share-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
It's Xmas and Maureen Feels Like Death Warmed Over-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Uncle Andrew-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
In a Nearby Church-Flash Fiction by Bethany Cody
What Happened after His Head Oozed-Flash Fiction by Michael Dioguardi
Prospero's Last Party-Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Doyle
Slick-Poem by David Spicer
Word Cruncher-Poem by David Spicer
The Life that Lives on Man-Poem by John Short
Pet Shop Story-Poem by John Short
dear tom-Poem by Meg Baird
the canvas-Poem by Meg Baird
A Killing-Poem by Ian C. Smith
Green Grass-Poem by Ian C. Smith
No Joke-Poem by Ian C. Smith
a soft landing-Poem by JJ Campbell
going through the motions-Poem by JJ Campbell
the shotgun still rests in the corner-Poem by JJ Campbell
an earthy affair-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
death loves the deep-space pirate-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
robotic mistress-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A November Morning-Poem by John D. Robinson
Hard & Heavy-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Storm-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Earth Keeps Sabbath-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Obituary-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Rock Whisperings-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Longing-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Darren Blanch 2020

In a Nearby Church

by Bethany Cody


It’s been twenty-three years. Time enough to grow up, grow apart, get a girlfriend, a house, some debt, a dog called Austin, and a kid called No-Name. I heard about the promotion a couple months back and I’d say, “Congratulations,” but you’re not close enough to hear me.

So, why’d you come here? To visit the folks, what’s left of them in that dark pit in the ground? When you were nineteen, the day you left, I saw you kneeling on the grass talking to their headstones. You should’ve known they can’t hear you, anymore.

It’s been twenty-three minutes since you drove through open iron gates. The glass is frigid where I press bare fingertips, watching your tribe follow you through the churchyard from my perch in the loft. I’ve got to move now.

Out on the snowy soil, you barely recognize me.

“Cassidy, hey man.”

“Merry Christmas, Steven.”

You’re nodding; you see me take a step forward, feel the chill of air as I continue past you and your kin. Your girlfriend makes an ugly comment. You rub her arms like it’ll change her mind.

“Just give my brother some time.”

“He’s had more than a decade, Steve.”

In twenty-three seconds, No-Name’s frothing at the mouth and drops to the ground in spasms. Your girlfriend shrieks like a banshee. It’s in the cookies I left beside their graves, homemade gingerbread with white, sugary frosting.

You didn’t see them in the dark but a child’s eyes could. Grubby fingers untied the ribbon, reached inside and took what wasn’t theirs.

You’re rushing for the car. Tires churn over slush and gravel in a desperate struggle to get away, get to a hospital, a cure. Snow cover drapes everything in sea-foam white, rooftops, wide suburban streets ablaze with Christmas lights, the neighbors’ cars and front yard nativity scenes, the perimeter of the lake. It’s a blind turn you don’t see through the sudden flurry.

In twenty-three seconds, icy water closes over your car. That last part I hadn’t intended.


Bethany Cody is an Adelaide-based Australian writer of creative fiction, short stories, and poetry. She has received awards in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Campbelltown Literary Awards as well as a commendation prize in the 2018 City of Rockingham Short Fiction Awards.

Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory. Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.

Digital arts mastery provides what Darren wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to render.

View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch) works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart, YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio, DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author / intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion - SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020