Update on fiction and poetry submission guidelines

To further distinguish our site from other literary ventures, Logos will no longer be accepting works of prose and verse that have been previously published, whether online, in print, or both, and, from now on, will only accept original, unpublished manuscripts of prose and verse. Excerpts from a novella, novel or poetry collection slated to be published, however, may still be accepted.

Fiction Circular 7/25/20

A weekly dissemination of fiction writing from around the web by Kaiter Enless


From Little Tales For Busy Folks: The Corridor by Vic Smith. A subterranean adventure takes a unnerving turn. Would be aided by more character development.

I was convinced there was something down here with me. I could hear breathing. I couldn’t tell how far away it was, or where the sound was coming from, but I was sure it was there

– V. Smith, The Corridor

From New Pop Lit: Zeenith, a fiction and poetry collection featuring Brian Eckert, Mark Marchenko, Holly Day, Chrissi Sepe, Kathleen M. Crane, Robert Kaercher, Erin Knowles Chapman, and James Croal Jackson. The volume is available for purchase for $25 via Paypal, or credit-card.

Full color. State of the art. Hand crafted. Sleek and stylish.

– Promotional tag-line for Zeenith

From Scraps & Scribblings: Goodnight, Sweet Prince by Richard Tearle. Macabre historical fiction. Seems a fragment of a larger work.

 George has gone too far. You can see that, surely? He has taken the law into his own hands – my law, let it be noted.

– R. Tearle, Goodnight, Sweet Prince

From Short Stories Online: Progressive Jackpot by Shane Lambert. A raffle takes place at a bowling league. Instead of telling by showing action the author simply lists off what occurs, week by week, which makes the story read, unfortunately, like a news article.

Almost all of the other Beer Leaguers had their own minor-league fantasies about what they would do if they won the money. One lady wanted to be a bar star for a weekend at a local country club. Another guy wanted to place a bet on the Edmonton Oilers winning the Stanley Cup. Another simply would have bought a new RCA television.

– Shane Lambert, Progressive Jackpot

From T. W. Iain: Ghost. A chronicle of a daring thief’s plan. At first, I assumed it was going to be one of those insufferably drippy slice-of-life flash-shorts which forms the great bulk of what is redundantly referred to as ‘literary fiction;’ thankfully, my assumption was incorrect. The piece develops its two principal characters impressively well with so few words and builds to a surprising, bittersweet crescendo.

The casket was closed, of course. She’d refused any suggestion of surgery.

– T. W. Iain, Ghost

From Vastness: Discount Baby by H. W. Taylor. A speculative sci-fi tale concerning a future wherein certain classes are prohibited from childbirth, a situation which prompts a enterprising and childless couple to attempt to trick the system. A superb work, which, in the most positive of ways, reminded me, faintly, of Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca.

Best of the week.

She was protecting him, by letting him give her hope.

– H. W. Taylor, Discount Baby

Kryos: Chapter 9

Previous chapter

“What are you going to do?”

Ryard Vancing stared out the window of the tenement flat and turned to the querious woman with whom he shared it, his face a fretting blank.

“I’ve no idea.”

He looked back to the reflective pane and noticed the unruly whorls of his hair, matted his tresses and put his hands in his pockets, surveying the deteriorating vista. Consortium drones swarmed the air to the north, vainly attempting to dissuade the rioters who there stormed the streets. Ryard noticed a thin column of smoke building beyond the broil in the hazy distance of the eatery district. “Mechanical failure?” He wondered with rising agitation, “Or arson?”

“Indecision is uncharacteristic for you,” Lind Howell declared with concern, filling two cups with hot coffee from a insulated metal container, which sat the table in the middle of their small, plainly furnished living room; the device was battered, ornateless and strange against the black-matte tabletop, a relic from a bygone age, inherited from Howell’s late uncle, who had himself inherited the item from his father. Lind raised a cup to Ryard, who ambled to the couch and took it, setting himself heavily down with a sigh. He pressed the cool glass to his forehead and then took a sip before speaking.

“I suppose it is. I just don’t want to make the situation worse.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t.”

“No you’re not.”

“I’m trying to be supportive.”

“I know.” He forced a smile and swirled his glass, watching the bean juice slush like oxidized blood. He frowned briefly, set the glass down and slowly rotated it with his fingertips. “How was work?”

She sighed, “Terrible. More so than usual. Had to spend almost the entire morning cloud-side.”

“Because of the riots?”

She nodded, “Watched it spread. Like a bushfire in a high wind. Had to go up and retether one of the aerostats just beyond Southern. Someone, or ones, had cut it free. Haven’t got an ID yet. They must have thought it would just float away.”

Ryard raised his glass suddenly, “A toast, to our invaluable sky-techs.”

The woman half-heartedly raised her glass and downed the rest of its contents.

“I just don’t know what’s gotten into people lately…”

“I suspect the Eastern Federation has had a heavy hand in it. This recent chaos.”

“I heard some people talking about it on the news. The Federation envoys say that allegations of their involvement in the protests and the riots are just propaganda. I don’t know what to think. Everything that the media comes out with is propaganda about propaganda. You said it was Lanning that contacted you?”

“Yeah. Still had that ridiculous coat. I suppose he thinks its stylish. Said his wife and daughter have been getting on better, after the move.”

“Lanning’s wife had the right idea. Moving to the colonies.”

Ryard shook his head and rose, “I’ve heard a lot of talk like that recently. Of departing the city because of the southers coming in, or because of the way the Consortium has changed, or because of the Federation’s subversion; I can’t agree with it. I’m glad Lanning’s family are happy now, but consider what would happen if most people here thought that way; if most people decided to pack up and leave the moment things take a turn for the worst. When conflict becomes unavoidable. When fear flares. Its uncivilized.”

“Uncivilized?”

“Civility is more than manners.”

Next chapter

Fiction Circular 7/18/20

A weekly dissemination of fiction writing from around the web.


From Bill Chance: The Sorcerer’s Intern. A spoof of Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

“I left some fishing weights on the table, could you turn them into gold, please. I’m a little short with the grocery money this weekend.”

B. Chance, The Sorcerer’s Intern

From Boondock Ramblings: The Farmer’s Daughter (Chapter 1; A Serialized Novel) by Lisa R. Howeler.

She’d been used to one annoying older brother her entire life, but five years ago Jason had invited his college roommate Alex to come work on the family farm and now it was like she had two annoying older brothers

L. R. Howeler, The Farmer’s Daughter

From Close 2 The Bone: Billy’s Grave by Lisa Short. Two young women discover criminals desecrating their late brother’s tombstone and decide to defend their land.

They had kicked over Billy’s gravestone; Faith could tell when Kayla spotted it lying all askew by the stiffening of her shoulders. They might not have known they were even on a gravesite—she and Kayla had buried Billy themselves, and the only marker they’d been able to place had been a river-worn slab of rock

L. Short, Billy’s Grave

From Literally Story: Crimson Coloured Raindrops by David Darvasi. A curious, charming tale of mysterious entities venturing below a dreamlike-city of steam and fume. Best of the week.

he started cutting the darkness – quite literally. Not for any romantic reason, other than he wouldn’t do anything metaphorically. 

D. Darvasi, Crimson Coloured Raindrops

From Literary Yard: The Last Time Rublev Saw The Sea by Tom Z. Spencer. Strongly influenced by recent events, Spencer’s story follows a young man navigating the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

We were told it can’t transmit human to human, and then that masks don’t work, and then to wear masks, and eventually to go home, and lock the door.

T. Z. Spencer, The Last Time Rublev Saw The Sea

From Momus News: Critical Equipment by E.A. Wicklund (EagleAye). A short, humorous piece.

“At last! The very thing I need to combat this pandemic,” said Blumquist.

E. Wicklund, Critical Equipment

From Neel Writes: Memories Unspooled by Neel A. Panicker. A charming flash fiction.

“You children are so unlucky for unlike us you hear your music strapped on headphones, and watch your favourite film and music stars gyrate on your palm tops”

N. Panicker, Memories Unspooled

From Nicholas C. Rossis: Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. The advice is basic, but can prove useful to new fiction writers (for more experienced writer’s, I would recommend the T. Bailey Saunders’ translation of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Art of Literature).

It doesn’t matter how well-constructed your world is if you’re incapable of dishing it out in smaller portions that are relevant to what’s happening in that particular sequence. If there’s a city that’s important to the story, give the reader the necessary info when the characters actually go there, instead of dumping 500 years of detailed history and politics from three different provinces in a prologue.

N.C. Rossis, on info dumps in fiction

From Curiomancy: Samizdat by Rick Wayne. A excerpt from the author’s scifi novel Zero Signal.

the human cognitive capacity was more or less fixed, artificial minds could adjust their filters on the fly. A wider net meant slower thinking, and vice versa, but they could scale their attention to their needs.

R. Wayne, Samizdat

Compiled by Kaiter Enless.

The Lexicon: A Cornucopia Of Wonderful Words (1996) by William F. Buckley Jr.; A Review

William F. Buckley’s The Lexicon (published by Harcourt Brace & Company and described as a “pocket word guide”) is a compact reference of uncommon words, which places emphasis not simply on the rarity of the words included, but also, as one might induce from the inclusion of cornucopia in the title, the applicable breadth and variety of those words. Omitted are such narrow oddities as arachibutyrophobia (ie. the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth); a word which Buckley thought belonged in the “zoo section” of dictionaries. The utility of such special case, single-use words as the aforementioned, to general discourse, (then, as now) are, obviously, minimal. Thus, their omission doubtless bowdlerized the volume considerably from what it would otherwise be, should its author have saw fit to include as many arcane and ancient lexical peculiarities as could be found, without regard to utility.

The consequence of this view on the book itself is that it is rather light on inkhornisms and consists primarily of words that tend to sit at the back of the average reader’s mind, like boxes of old clothing in an ill-ventured and moth-proofed attic; such as aberrant (ie. a person whose behavior departs substantially from the standards for behavior in his group) and bellwether (ie. the guide by which one measures other data), as well as a sprinkling of latin phrases such as ab initio (ie. from the beginning) and caeteris paribus (ie. if all other relevant things remain unaltered); and more atypical offerings, such as asservation (ie. an assertion made in very positive form; a solemn assertion), buncombe (ie. talk that is empty, insincere, or merely for effect; humbug), cacoethes (ie. an uncontrollable desire), and enjambement (ie. continuation in prosody of the sense in a phrase beyond the end of a verse or couplet; the running over of a sentence from one line into another so that closely related words fall in different lines).

Every word featured is accompanied, in addition to its definition, by a example of its use in a sentence; often, a wry, scathing observation of some political situation or personality of the time or utilization of Buckley’s fictive works (all citations from his published oeuvre). It is these amusing asides (in addition to a number of cartoons by Arnold Roth) which lend the book its singularity and readability—that quality so often and ironically lacking in written works concerning language.

Kryos: Chapter 6

Previous chapter

Holleran Meris moved slowly through the main pedestrian thoroughfare of Aecer, relaxing as the warm rays licked his aged and crinkling skin. He wanted a cup of coffee and quiet, without solitude, and trode toward his favorite automat to sate the fickle desire. The street was filled with musicians and migrants, service drones and spruce businessmen, above whom the vast, albescent spires of Central Sector cut up the sky like incandescent brands, girded by the argent lifting envelopes of affinity dispatch dirigibles, whose prodigious shades variegated the bases of the high, glistening towers, and lent, to those magisterial constructs, an appearance of orphic flotation, as if the city’s lofty edifice rose not from the ground, but levitated inertly across the roiling, red horizon.

Meris paused and absorbed the palatial scenery as two children romped by, riant and nescient of the erstwhile striving that had brought forth the vertiginous bailiwick on which they twirled. He watched his people’s apogee turn, rosy cheeked and waving, and raised a hand in avuncular greeting, whereafter they waved back and passed west over the road and melded with the cosmopolitan itinerants, who scurried thickly along the bustling sprawl. Meris turned, left off to the north, and primed the credits in his wrist-borne affin module for the delights of the Wyntwurth automat. As he wound about the corner of the avenue which led up to the restaurant, he froze, perplexed and shocked.

The automat was awash in violence, visible through its diaphanous, polymeric exterior. Everywhere within the building, men collided, one lay upon the floor, bleeding from a deep gash upon his head. The server drones lay overturned, food spilling from their dispensers. A crowd began to form outside the restaurant, some recording the conflagration with their affin modules, others simply observing the row. None possessed of the courage or interest to intervene in the broil. Meris scanned the street; no Consortium security officers were in sight.

As Meris returned his attention to the motorized cafeteria there came, from its harborage, a vivacious blonde, habilimented in sleek running shoes, skin-tight shorts and a crop-top, and a merry, lissom man, clad in a pale green coat with messy hair that fell down just below his eyes. They exited the building at a leisurely pace, curiously unconcerned with the rearward melee, and traversed the lane-borne host, and passed Meris on their way out of the eatry district. As the striking duo moved by, Meris turned and raised his voice above the din.

“What happened?”

The man with the green coat grinned, gazing over his shoulder with blithe gaity.

“Mouse utopia.”

The blonde chuckled and took the man by the arm and, together, they mixed into the jostling throng. Meris’ brows knit in confusion as he watched the pair depart and then in concern as several members of the crowd dashed into the restaurant to restrain the combatants.

Next chapter

Kryos: Chapter 3

Previous chapter

Galton Raka stared out the window of his highrise office in the Security Commission Center, observing Aecer’s vast, metallic grandeur. The Security Commission headquarters loomed above the Central Sector CAV-way intersection at the very heart of the city, which scintillant with the movement of thousands of lev-hans, mag-rays and assurance drones, dancing to the dictates of the affin net’s algorithms. The lanes dropped and rose in irregular tandem to the needs of the citizenry, appearing, to the lofty observer, like massive, beetle-clad serpents. Above the bustling racket of the grand transportation thoroughfares, colossal tethered aerostats drifted like great argent whales; fundamental infrastructure for the city’s communication network. Raka smiled weakly and took a sip of coffee. He had forgotten how beautiful the metropolis looked from above, and remembered all too well how ugly it had begun to look from below.

His quiet reverie was interrupted by the automated swish of the office door, footsteps following, quick and light across the scuffed hardwood floor. Raka gazed over his shoulder and beheld a fair-featured man, short, stocky and dressed in the vestments of a Consortium Security Commission officer. The guest performed a perfunctory half-bow and straightened, politely but impatiently awaiting address.

“What is it, Vogel?”

“Something I thought you should take a look at, sir.”

“Could have just sent it to me.”

“Didn’t want it in the system.”

At the admission, Raka turned slowly and walked to his table, setting his coffee down with agitation, leaning back in his chair as he waited to be told the news.

“There was a mugging, sir.”

Raka sighed heavily and gestured with disgust to his affin tablet.

“There’ve been plenty. I needn’t tell you.”

“Three men attacked a woman in Central, near the HEZ.”

“Look – I know you’re as bothered by the Assurance Policy as I am, but my hands are tied. The Board has made their position very clear. The people don’t want criminals apprehended, they just want them scolded. Its the only ‘civilized’ thing to do, or so they say.”

“That’s not quite what I was getting at, sir. Two of the robbers were killed in the attempt.”

“By the woman?”

“No. By Acelin Syzr.”

“The head of the KSRU?”

Vogel nodded. Raka ran a hand through his thinning hair, working his jaw back and forth.

“What was he doing in Central?”

“I’ve no idea, sir. The whole scene was captured by one of our assurance drones.”

“Has anyone but you and the monitors seen the recording?”

“Well, that’s the peculiar thing. The robbers trashed the drone once it flew down. We lost the signal. All we captured up to that point was the robbers assaulting the woman and knocking her to the ground.”

“Have you identified her?”

“A one Casja Fawnell. She’s yet to file a complaint.”

“I take it you got the rest of the footage from the drone… you did recover it, didn’t you?”

“No, sir. Wasn’t there. Someone stole it.”

“Which means whoever took it has the whole recording.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then we can expect it on the news in the next day or two.”

“Probably, Sir.”

Raka shook his head.

“Can you identify the surviving robber from the footage you obtained?”

“I already have. His name is Danzig Kleiner. Career criminal. Been in and out of Northwing since he was a kid for everything from larceny to rape. No permanent residence.”

“Haunts?”

“Likes to hang around a club called the Red Moon. Disreputable establishment, from what I’ve heard. Its not far from the tenement where the assault occurred. I was planning on checking it out after I swing by Ms. Fawnell’s place.”

“Alright. And Vogel.”

“Yeah?”

“If this situation escalates, bring Syzr in.”

Vogel arched a brow.

“Bring him in?”

“For protection.”

“His, or ours?”

Next chapter

Kryos: Chapter 2

Previous chapter

Thrumming electronic music and hot ruby light subsumed Danzig Kleiner. The club’s sonic effluvia shook his haggard frame and rendered his voice near-inaudible, even to himself. He touched the drying re-gel on his face, winced, and ambled awkwardly past the shifting multi-colored dancefloor, where the establishment patrons whirled and twerked with manic ecstasy; wild and grotesque gyrations of taunt, sweat-stained abs and ample, ill-contained breasts. The floor was synchronized to the affin modules of every inhabitant such that the coloration would blend and change in accordance with the mood of the room; the more positive the collective associations, the brighter the hues, the more negative, the darker. A novel conceit intended by the designers to induce empathic cognizance in the hall’s participants.

Despite the distinctiveness of the clientele, one dancer stood out to Danzig – a thin, merry man with a chartreuse coat, bandaged hands, an eggshell sweater, off-white slacks and matted hair, short on the sides and back and long in the front. He twirled with a youthful, vivacious, scant-garbed blonde, all curves and smiles and lascivious yearning. Her pale, pliant flesh yielding to his searching, rhythmic manipulations. As Danzig beheld the handsome couple with envy and enchantment, a tall, bulky, tattooed man swaggered drunkenly across the floor and began dancing before them.

With his view obstructed, Danzig passed on to a table at the back of the establishment where a bored woman watched him with faint annoyance.

“What happened to your face?” The woman quickly scanned the spacious insulated hall, brows knitting, “Where’s Culp and Mehan?”

“That’s what I needed to talk to you about.”

“I’m listening,” the woman replied with impatience, sliding a drink across the table to the man as he set himself down upon one of the armless cushion chairs there arrayed with a grunt of pain and exhaustion.

“Well?”

He grimaced.

“They’re dead.”

“How?”

“Some guy. Came out of nowhere. Don’t know who.”

“What happened?”

“We were just teaching a lesson to one of the uptowners. Then this guy shows up, has a problem with it… well, I tell Mehan and Culp to get after him and he-“

“What did he look like?”

Kleiner felt his face again, sucked air through his teeth and took a drink before answering, “He was around my size. Didn’t get a look at his face. Had a mask. Wore a helmet with a visor. Had this… weird armor.”

The woman’s features contorted with apprehension.

“The armor, what did it look like?”

“I dunno. Like armor. I’m not a manufacturing expert. But I got the bastard. Stuck him good.”

At this admission the woman’s mood darkened even further.

“Colors, materials, anything?”

“It was plated. White-ish. Silvery. Like silver and gold mixed together. Why? You know this guy?”

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“That’s KSRU gear, Kleiner.”

The man spread his hands in confusion. The woman glared.

“Kryos Industries’ Special Reconnaissance Unit. Deep colony private military. Security for topside Kryos properties.”

“Oh.”

“All you’ve got to say is ‘Oh?'”

The man said nothing, perplexed by the woman’s outrage and shocked by the revelation.

“You said you stabbed him.”

“Yeah.”

The man cracked a prideful grin.

“Fatally?”

“Nah. Armor, remember.”

“And he saw your face?”

“Yeah.”

“They’ll be looking for you now.”

Kleiner pushed his drink away and snatched up one of the printed biscuits from a crafter on the table.

“I don’t care. I want him. That’s why I came straight to you.”

The woman was half-listening, now scanning the room nervously. Shortly, she downed her drink and shook her head.

“I’m not getting involved in whatever you’re thinking of doing.”

The man lowered his voice and spoke emphatically, leaning over the table, his posture both pleading and threatening.

“I need weapons, Sia.”

The woman got up and shook her head again.

“You take care.”

“Sia!”

Heedless of his words, the arms dealer melded into a crowd exiting the polychromatic parquet. Kleiner cursed and watched the throng depart the establishment, catching the scent of smoke and the wail of a Consortium klaxon in the far-distance. His attention drifted back to the provocative couple; still dancing, now more exuberantly than before. The man with the chartreuse coat pulled the voluptuous blonde close and whispered something in her ear, she smiled and began to laugh manically. The man then parted from her and bounded, madcap, to the large branded man and slammed into him, swiftly retreating into the ebbing flow of bodies with a sly, lopsided smile. The inked man fell into another dancer, who turned with a snarl and yelled inaudible words across the churning, meretricious sprawl, then striking out at the jaw of the man who’d been shoved into him, who, patched-out of his mind, viciously retaliated. The two men careened into a pack of wild youths, who turned upon them. Swiftly, the hall erupted in screams and violence. The color of the floor, graduating from radiant ruby to blood-moon beryl. All the while the chartreuse man and his concupiscent companion frolicked, smiling like sphinxes well-sated on the blood of the riddleless.

Kleiner rose as two of the dancehall combatants, shaggy men, scrawny of frame, came wheeling toward him and went crashing into his table with howls of blind, drug-induced rage. He whirled round and dodged a fist from a young woman, pushing her aside he moved away from the nexus of the melee and scryed the floor, looking for the couple, finding them to have moved to the very back of the dancefloor. With his hands about the woman, the man with the chartreuse coat looked up, catching the bystander’s gaze.

Kleiner’s eyes widened with dread.

Beneath the man with the chartreuse coat, there was no color at all.

Next chapter

Fiction Circular 7/4/20

A weekly dissemination of fiction writing from around the web.


From Candy’s Monsters: What’s Inside by Candy Korman.

Men always lied about their height the way women always lied about their weight.

~C. Korman, What’s Inside

From Delicious Tacos: The Rage.

Knees go bad and you turn into keyboard Paul Kersey…

~D.T., The Rage

From Flora Fiction: Death Witch by Leon Clifford.

The captured fool looked down and had two realizations almost immediately. One, the bone he could see jutting out of his leg should, in fact, be on the inside of his ankle, and two, it was probably the source of excruciating pain emanating from the lower half of his person.

~L. Clifford, Death Witch

From Literally Stories: Tylen Brackus by Tom Sheehan.

October clouds were raggy and less than unique, filled with promise of the ominous sort, darker than usual, inertia buried in them, as if they were hanging there for a definite purpose.

~T. Sheehan, Tylen Brackus

From Richard Becker: The Sweeper.

“Looks nice,” June hesitated. “Quiet, maybe.”

“Let’s hope not too quiet,” Medford said, thinking of his film again.

~R. Becker, The Sweeper

From Terror House Magazine: The Silent Man by Alfred Kinning.

He didn’t use an alarm clock; he’d woken up at this time every day of his life.

~A. Kinning, The Silent Man

From The Inkwell: Paint Me by Matthew Donnellon.

He would draw out different pictures for her to find when she got home that when put together would reveal the location of her date.

~M. Donnellon, Paint Me

From The Literary Yard: The Empty Azurite by B.A. Varghese.

His thoughts were on more pressing matters. For one, his glass was empty.

~B.A. Varghese

Compiled by Kaiter Enless

Kryos: Chapter 1

A woman’s cry cut the air.

Acelin Syzr stiffened and strode quickly down the winding back-alley toward the origin of the shriek. His armored bulk clacked dully, gleaming vermeil beneath the muted sunbeams which filtered from the high, jagged spires that rose like defiant brands towards a roiling and ominous sky. The corridor formed by the dilapidated apartments was filthy, strew with the detritus of numerous past itinerants: condoms, bottles, torn clothing and adhesive drug patches; dregs of the newest narcotics craze. A long-haired junkie shivered against the early morning chill and loosed saliva with a ragged cough. Twenty feet on, a dead cat lay, foam spilling about its distended, yellow jaws, ants piling around its exposed innards. Small cuts of cat carried out and down into the shuttering dark. Syzr surveyed the dross and continued on, quickening his pace as another scream rang out from the depths of the concrete tomb. The sonic thread ended in a ratty blind, before which the alley diverged left and right. Three men stood about a middle-aged woman who lay upon the ground, bleeding from her lip, shirt torn at the collar. Wealthy – judging from her garb. Her pert, pale face, contorted with disgust and horror. Syzr watched the drama from behind the cover of a high door stoop which, given its dominion over the passage, had been built prior to the construction of the adjacent building. The largest of the muggers leered at the woman and drew a razor from his belt.

“Shoulda known better than to walk alone.”

“Rich cunt,” the shortest of the trio spat.

The last member of the group, a fat, balding man with a pockmarked and piggish face, chortled and lumbered threateningly toward the woman as she scurried up against the alley’s blind. As Syzr readied himself to intervene, a Consortium assurance drone floated down to the scene from the rooftops, synthetic voice clacking, robotic and pleasant.

“Please reconsider your actions, citizens. There is no need for violence.”

Momentarily, the muggers froze and tensed, eyes going wide, mouths parting. However, when it became clear the drone’s sole function was rhetorical dissuasion, they laughed and smashed it. The aerial machine sputtered on the ground, frantically looping dialogue.

“There is no need for violence. Thereisnoneedforviolence. There-“

As the triad cackled and returned their attentions to the bleeding woman, Syzr cantered from around the stoop and stood the center of the avenue, his battered onyx face-plate melding with shadow, his voice crepitating mechanically through the opaque polymer veil.

“Depart the woman.”

The trio whirled, eyes wide, weapons glinting in the gloam.

“Who the fuck are you?” the fat man hissed, balling his fists.

The tall man surveyed the intruder’s visor with perplexity and sneered, “This ain’t a costume party, pal.”

“Depart the woman or depart this life.”

The tall mugger grinned malevolently and jabbed the air with his shiv, “You looking to die, tough guy?”

The full-helmed man said nothing and took a step forward. The fat man and the short man looked to the shiv-wielder for guidance; he gestured with the blade toward the interloper.

“Take him.”

“The latter, then,” Syzr declared evenly.

The short man produced a roller chain from his belt and rushed forward, flailing metal. Syzr maintained his position and let the chain drive strike him across his armored left shoulder, whereafter recoil brought the slender piece of machinery up into the assailant’s face. The short man screamed and clutched rubies at his eye. Syzr kicked the man in the gut and slammed a fist into his trachea. As his companion dropped to the ground, vainly sucking air, the fat man rushed in, grunting with rage, and caught Syzr about the mid-section, attempting a tackle, but recieved an elbow to the back of his neck and ragdolled. Syzr kicked the man in the face until he stilled permanently, then picked up the chain drive and turned to the leader, whose face tinctured with terror and incredulity.

The tall man bolted and caught the weight of the chain drive to the back of his right knee, stumbling to the ground, cursing as Syzr fell upon him. Before Syzr could land a critical blow, the tall mugger brought his hands up around his head, curling his body into his attacker, and, with considerable effort, shucked the man free of his body. The thief rolled and picked up his shiv, taking several swipes in Syzr’s direction – feints. Syzr wasn’t concerned with getting sliced – his armor could take it – but a direct thrust could still pierce, so he backed up cautiously, body tense, shoulders rolling. Form fluid and controlled. The mugger grabbed a empty bottle off the ground, flew forth and stuck his foe in the side, feeling the armor give, he grinned and brought the glass down into Syzr’s head, shattering the vessel and denting the helm. Syzr took the blows with a grunt of pain and caught the mugger’s left hand in which he hefted the neck of the broken bottle and squeezed with all his strength. The mugger loosed a howl of agony as the remnant of the bottle fractured red ribbons to hand. Syzr drew the man’s dactyls to palm and smashed them against his face, once, twice and then headbutted the reaver to the ground.

Squealing and cupping his bleeding visage, the mugger fled.

Syzr gave pursuit, but quickly stopped as he noticed red rivulets running from his side.

“I’ll exacerbate the wound,” he thought with vexation.

His eyes narrowed beneath the abraded, monochrome helm as he watched the criminal vanish down the leftern alley.

“Craven scum.”

He walked stiffly and slowly back to the disheveled woman, clutching his leaking abdomen.

“You alright, ma’am?”

She shrunk back from the carnage-stained man, shuddering.

“Ma’am?”

“H-hm?”

“Are you alright?”

She nodded, tears in her eyes, quivers in her lips.

Syzr extended a plated hand and, after a moment of hesitation, the woman took it as the drone continued its mantra.

Next chapter

Tatter: Chapter 34

Previous chapter

The lab-lights coruscated from the dustless ceiling as Ryard Vancing held his bleeding side. Teeth clenched. Eyes narrowing upon the tawny, ferine woman who circled him, jaw set, fists clenched as Tatter watched the scene with keen concern from the diagnostic pod where she remained firmly bound.

Ryard briefly caught her gaze and forced a smile.

After a terse silence, the gray-streaked woman lunged with considerable ferocity, gouging at the man’s eyes, seeking to drive her thumbs into his sockets. He caught her about the wrists, using her momentum to thrust his knee hard into her gut. The motion tore his wound as it doubled the woman over; screams of pain caught in two throats. The woman staggered back, heaving, and pulled a silver scalpel free of Grazen’s instrument rack upon the nearby table, desperately slicing at her foe with the dreadful hissing of a serpent cornered. Ryard raised his arms, blocking the shallow cuts. Soon his arms ran red and his movements slowed. He could feel the life draining out of him and knew if he didn’t finish her swiftly, all would be lost. He dodged back behind the arc of her blade and kicked at her left knee, catching her shin, unbalancing her and dropping her face first to the ground. The woman caught herself and bounded from the floor, rushed forward with hateful gait and drove the blade of the scalpel into Ryard’s shoulder. Instead of throwing his foe free, Ryard grabbed the woman’s hands, forcing the blade yet deeper. The terrorist’s eyes bulged with confusion as she attempted to escape, finding herself bound to the bleeding CAV-keep. He thrust his crown into the middle of her face, then again and again until he felt her nose break. She slackened and fell to the floor, holding her ruined face, groaning and gurgling blood. Freeing the blade from his chest, Ryard lumbered over to the woman, falling to his knees before he reached her, the pain subsiding to numbness, the fury waning to somnolence.

“Why would you risk your life for that filthy abomination?” The woman spat with rekindled wrath, rolling to her side as she clawed toward the bloody bone fragment, which lay upon the floor between her and her foe.

Ryard said nothing and walked on hands and knees to the jagged ivory artifact and hefted it from the cold, bloodstained floor. She threw herself at him, wildly, despairingly, madly, attempting to tear out his throat with her bare hands. Ryard shoved the scalpel into her gut, yet still the insane creature did not relent. With the last failing vestiges of his strength, he drove the jagged length of bone through her left orbital socket with a wet snick. The woman howled and fell upon her back, twitching erratically, a tangle of unintelligible syllables, pouring from her frothing maw. The woman’s chaotic spasms swiftly subsided and she lay still upon the white polished floor, soaked in blood. Her chest, no longer rising and falling to vitality’s ancient hymn.

Then, only silence reigned.

Ryard observed the corpse of his foe and then rose unsteadily and freed Tatter from her shackles, collapsing thereafter against the exterior of the diagnostic pod under the encroachments of a leaden slumber.

“Help him!” Tatter exclaimed suddenly. “He’s dying.”

As his consciousness faded, he followed Tatter’s gaze and beheld the form of a woman standing in the doorway of the hidden lab. He recalled her face.

Vera Straker. Director of Kryos Corp.

She moved cautiously into the room and observed the corpse and then rushed to Ryard’s side as Tatter gathered the man in her arms, dichromatic eyes searching a blood-spattered face.

“Your plan worked, Ryard.”

“Yeah,” he whispered triumphantly.

He closed his eyes, feeling Tatter’s frigid caress give way to Straker’s commands.

Then the world fell away and all was warmth and darkness.

Next chapter

Countdown to Darkness

by Carl Scharwath

Translucent and awake 

Lost in broad daylight. 

The sun will vanish 

Flickering, unseeing. 

Blurring at the edges 

Darkening, hesitant  

And shinning curious. 

The light evanesces 

In a trace of sadness. 

For how long  

Will a stranger stop 

In a different light 

As the end announced. 

Looking for landmarks 

Talking to himself 

At the edge 

Of the world. 

Insanity feels good.

 

Carl Scharwath, has appeared globally with 150+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, plays or art photography (His photography was featured on the cover of 6 journals.) Two poetry books ‘Journey To Become Forgotten’ (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and ‘Abandoned’ (ScarsTv) have been published. His first photography book was recently published by Praxis. Carl is the art editor for Minute Magazine, poetry editor for TL Publishing Group, a competitive runner and 2nd degree black-belt in Taekwondo.