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A Bad Place to Be-Fiction by Lamont A. Turner
If the World Never Knows Our Names-Fiction by Craig Fishbane
I'm Not Antonio-Fiction by Garr Parks
George's Personal Big Bang-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
When the Omen Follows You Home-Fiction by Alyson Tait
The Pie Room-Fiction by Dave Kunz
On the Matter of Hennessey-Fiction by Ed Nobody
Proud to Be a Pig-Fiction by Bob Ritchie
Marmalade and Mayhem-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Check Out-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Stanton Harbor Grocery Massacre-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Seizing Power-Flash Fiction by Tim Frank
Frog Huntin'-Flash Fiction by Gary Clifton
Best Friend Forever-Flash Fiction by Serena Jayne
Bus Stop-Flash Fiction by Jonathan Woods
Doing Without-Poem by R. Gerry Fabian
Another Day-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Don't Say You'll Play the Game If You Don't Know the Rules-Poem by David Centorbi
Why I Stopped Being Me-Poem by John Sweet
Something About Her-Poem by Meg Baird
Only the Good-Poem by James Lilley
Bill's Otherworldly Cafe Across from Cafe Bizarro-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Eating Catfish on the Bank of the Sankuru River-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Post Mortem-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Deer in the Headlights-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
I, Cartographer-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
I'll Paint You a Picture-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
beside wild roses-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
sitting quietly-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
lifetimes-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
All the Way Home-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
like a poem written-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
So There-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Sugar Wolf-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 2021

When the Omen Follows You Home.

Alyson Tait



There was a time when Venice was easy to be in.

I’d left home; I’d traveled, seen death, felt grief, and returned — the city welcomed me, begged me to leave my small apartment and breathe the moving air.

I wandered during daylight hours, watching the others who moved about, gazed at those moving to and from their jobs and families. Two things I had been avoiding after the army had sent me home.

That habit was how I came to meet the omen by the river.

When I first saw the old woman, she stared into the murky water of the river, one hand resting on a thick, gnarled, wooden cane. She had tied her dress with impossible ruffles on her back, and every so often - the fabric moved.

Most things seemed to slip right past her unseen, unheard, uncared for. But when a crow flew near and screeched its mournful greeting, she turned.

And so I named her Morrigan.

Whenever she looked around, her eyes pierced through everything and everyone they landed on. Anything that dared force her to enter the mortal realm was a threat and risked its imminent demise. 

I worried that if those eyes looked at me, they would burn the heart right out of me. I would succumb to a trance-like-death, probably with a smile on my lips but otherwise terror on my face. Nevertheless, A voice inside me insisted I keep an eye on her.

So I did.

When I started watching her with purpose, I did it through my binoculars — confident that I was far enough away to avoid drawing attention to myself—hidden enough that her eyes couldn’t make contact with mine. I had chosen a spot high atop a building, borrowing the terrace and spare bedroom of an old schoolhouse friend.

Morrigan eluded me in many ways, despite my planning; for instance, I failed to wake up early enough to see her arrive. I failed to stay awake long enough to see her leave. And one day, after weeks of nothing but watching this woman as if my life depended on it, I realized I had failed to keep myself hidden.

The sun was high in the sky, casting glares on the river and sliding long shadows off all the buildings. My eyes burned as I stared at her, moving from feet to face and up again. I looked at her back — where her dress bundled like a fabric package, a veil for something I didn’t understand — and when my vision settled, I gasped.

The noise shot from my mouth when I realized the bundle was not her dress. It was long, silky black wings that fluttered at my exclamation. In an instant, a different movement caught my eye. Her face had shifted, and she was no longer staring at the restless water. Instead, with a wide, crooked smile that bore no perfect teeth, she looked directly at me.

She made eye contact despite being hundreds of feet away.

My fingers betrayed me, and I dropped my binoculars in shock. The metal things bounced off the patio’s surface, once, then twice, then slid swiftly underneath the railing. It seemed comedic in its path.

I let out an unattractive guffaw, then heard it mirrored back, but distorted. It had become sharper and smaller.

There was not just one bird before me, but half a dozen in number. A murder of crows hovered in front of me, holding my binoculars in the beaks of those willing to carry it. My possession hung from the strap I had failed to wrap behind my head.

I stared until I blinked, and when I did, the old woman and her magnificent wings had replaced the crows. Morrigan indeed; I had never expected my private joke to be a myth that had come true to haunt me.

I may have screamed.

She might have laughed.

The next morning came with hazy details on falling asleep and wondering where nightmares and reality separated. I picked my binoculars off the chair, and although I hesitated strongly, I ended up putting them over my eyes and looking down toward my city’s fabled river.

Morrigan stood, cane in hand and eyes staring downward as they had always been. Her wings…

They appeared as a clot of dress upon her back. I couldn’t see her lips to know if she was smiling, and I didn’t dare get close to her. In fact, when she adjusted her stance to shift her weight, I flinched.

I flinched so hard the binoculars dropped again. This time with a single thud.

I went home that day, drafting a message in my head to tell my mother when I got home. A way to explain why I hadn’t been answering her calls, and a reason I was back at her doorstep...

I drafted this message for hours — sitting in the taxi in front of my childhood home. But it never mattered; the message never got delivered.

I hadn’t just stumbled upon the old lady. Morrigan hadn’t merely been playing a trick on a secret admirer. She’d been very clear. I guessed that she’d waited as long as she could to tell me. But in the end, even magic can’t control a person’s fate.

Seven days later, we held my mother’s funeral. There at the very back of the crowd, tucked behind the last tree of the graveyard, she stood with her hand on her cane, and her wings unfurled.

That time, I admit — I screamed. 

Morrigan laughed, although the sound didn’t seem to travel. It occurred to me then, a more profound revelation, that maybe she hasn’t bided her time at all. Perhaps she was one of many, and I was her charge. The duty she carries in her pocket.

The epicenter of death and darkness. 

          To tell the truth...I have yet to prove myself wrong. 

Alyson lives in Maryland where she got married, had her daughter, and began her writing journey. She has appeared in Altered Reality Magazine and (mac)ro(mic). You can find her on twitter @rudexvirus1

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 2021