Online Fiction

KAPU

The moment he reached the edge of the shore, he felt the sand give way. It was fine and white above, coarse and black below. He stepped back quickly, before his wife and son caught up with him.

The waves crashed in, making a green roil from the horizon to the tumble of lava boulders that edged the cliffs slanting down from jungled peaks high above. Only this thin crescent of sandy beach remained untouched, and even that was being steadily carved away by the sea. It was vivid in every detail.

“The waves are a lot bigger than when we were here on our honeymoon,” his wife was telling their son, “but that was in the summertime. It seems like yesterday.”

He turned around and beckoned them closer, putting his back to the sea. The boy came up beside him and slid a hand between his father’s arm and waist, hanging there as if he were an ape about to start climbing. “There’s rescue tubes back there, Dad! And signs saying people get swept away here all the time! Kapu! Do you think that really happens?”

“They’re just being extra cautious,” he said. “That’s all ‘kapu’ means. Your mother swam here and it was just fine.”

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Liberty

Late in the overcast afternoon, they came upon a cluster of housekeeping cabins, otherwise deserted in this season between skiing and hunting. They were given the cabin farthest from the road. He could hear water through the trees as he followed her in with their luggage. She carried only the small white box. First she set it on the dresser near the TV, then she shifted it to the middle of the one small table, pushing aside an ashtray and ice bucket. He had dropped his overnight bag on the table, but when she moved the box there, he slid the bag to the floor. He told her he needed to check the car and went back out alone.

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Total Conversion

On his way home from CompUSA with the latest overdrive processor and another 128 megs of RAM chips in the tiny trunk of his Alfa Romeo, Barton Needles cruised slowly past the high school and gazed through the chainlink fence at his so-called peers. It was a scene that should have set him tingling with nostalgia, like something out of a PG-13 teen romance movie: sociable kids taking lunch in the quadrangle, running laps on the track, throwing themselves at football dummies, laughing and shouting. But as the bell rang, calling the students back to classes, Barton mouthed the word “Losers,” and stepped on the gas. Read More

The Random Man

Milt Random had put a few beers under his belt, sitting alone in his dark little apartment, when he noticed that the grains of his wooden coffee table were subtly rearranging themselves. Blinking through his alcoholic haze, Milt cleared away the magazines and ashtrays that littered the table, and peered closely at the scarred surface:

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Nether Reaches

To our right, the Reaches fell away into bottomless blackness. We struggled down a narrow trail, hugging close to the rock, every hundred yards or so coming upon the mouths of inner caves that coiled away where our lights could not penetrate. We hurried past, feeling the exhalations of dry air from deeper galleries, no one wishing to linger on those thresholds despite the escape they offered from the brink. Read More

Terror Fan

Runick shoved a rolled-up towel against the bottom of the door to keep the smell of pot out of his room; it filled the corridor with a sickly scent and made him ill at ease, a distraction where he was going. He drew the curtains to shut out the grey October light, cutting off his sight of the campus paths, students rushing everywhere in a light rain. Read More

Rattleground

Crawling down the fire-scarred steel corridors of the enemy’s lair, he says to himself, So,evil dogs … I see you quake in dread at the mere thought of my arrival! Read More

Nutrimancer

Imagine a TV dinner, baked to a crisp. Silver foil peeled back by the laser heat of a toaster oven. Charred clots of chicken stew, succotash, nameless dessert, further blurred by a microforest of recombinant mold like a diseased painter’s nightmare of verdigris. Read More

Dollchurch

Kirkendale stands at the back of a church, the grey aisles before him draped in dust and shadow. Tonight he is to speak. Tall side windows frame slats of pallid light. The pews are ancient and smeared, populated raggedly. He sees only the backs of worshipers’ heads; they nod sluggishly, tilting, as if on snapped necks. Their faces are not visible. Read More