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Re: Clients

The emails don’t stop coming, like water torture. One two, one, one two three, ten all at once that a filter should have caught except for some developer’s typo, one, one two seven, on and again and more until she looks up and realizes it’s been 47 minutes and she hasn’t gotten shit, not from […]

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Wasps

The year we lived in the attic of your parent’s apartment, the wasps moved in. You were renovating like always, and there was a hole in the house where you were turning a porch into a room, and so the wasps came. Flying through the kitchen, while I poached us eggs. I soon became friends […]

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It’s Only Been Me, All This Time

There was this girl, a friend. I like her, she’s cute. She was into this guy at a party. She pointed him out then huddled in a little circle with her two friends I’d just met, over by the Christmas lights. It was like they were going to draw a pentagram on the floor, and […]

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Take Five Hundred New Nightmares

This is how to make a piece of hell. The other pieces require assembly, but our part is the least we can do. Then there’s assistance, like Howard Lord and his eerie noise music. The kind that’s good when you put it on for yourself but scary when someone else plays it for you. We’re […]

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How To Breathe Without Thinking About It

  I guess Tim was right when he said I had it coming. If anyone were going to end up on their way to the stomach of the largest rhinoceros that ever could have lived, it would be me. I didn’t have the best intentions. I honestly thought it was a dinosaur. I even said […]

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Under Glass

The evening’s downpour still hadn’t ended, and by the time Viktor picked me up, the streets were abandoned except for a few lonesome figures tucked under awnings and into doorways. The boulevard gleamed under the streetlamps. Viktor’s mood must have been affected by the weather, because as he drove me to his apartment, his windshield […]

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Feels

There’s this new app called uFeelMe, but instead of a photo or video or simple line of text, it disseminates actual feelings, feelings users have uploaded to a catalogue of Feels, available for consumption by friends, family, vague outer reaches of massing social networks. “uFeelMe cuts to the heart of what sharing online is,” says […]

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The Last Summer of Our Youth

Early that June, some new neighbors moved in just up the road and built a house around their trailer. We spied on the old couple until their house was done. We watched them start to collect things like tires and rusty chairs in their yard. When the swampy area behind our own house dried out, […]

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You Have to Pay for That

  I was walking in a shop and touching sweaters: beige, oatmeal, linen, eggshell. All the colors that make people feel like they should say things like, “I would’ve spilled coffee on that yesterday. You are so brave.” As if not caring about spills and knowing how to use bleach correctly was some real purple […]

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Birth

It was a kind of turning. For months it waited for the right conditions—a full moon or a drought—before waking up. Lodged under skin and muscle, it slept there with its feet braced against the bottom ribs. Sometimes it woke up for a minute and kicked at all the insides until shit poured out, but […]

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They Tell Me I’m Lucky

At the Shiva, people tell me I’m lucky. They say they know someone, who knew someone, who met a woman in the meat aisle, whose fingers they grazed while reaching for the number dispenser. Who looked up horrified. Whose eyes flashed, not with, I didn’t mean to, but with something like wonder electrified. A woman […]

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Beautiful Venom

The jester spider (Venenum beatus) moves sufficiently fast that we cannot perceive it. As humans have proven too large for it to digest, the jester spider always flees before a foot can tread upon it in the backyard or a finger can corner it in an old work glove. Sometimes, however, it will mistake a […]

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Clock

My grandmother had a mechanical wall clock powered by weights. To wind it, she pulled down one of the weights, and for the next twelve hours, the clock ticked off the lengths of the chain as the counterbalance forced it back up. When I spent the summers with my grandmother on the Karelian peninsula, my […]

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I Lived in Los Angeles

  I don’t know the people I live with very well because we rarely talk beyond one-sentence exchanges, so when I walked down the stairs and saw the Mrs. and Mr. in a hot tub, I thought it couldn’t get much worse, but it did because she didn’t have a top on. So I said, […]

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Intruders in Ms. Hansen-Knudsen’s Class

  1. THE UNBORN Ms. Hansen-Knudsen was the most beautiful woman on earth, so her second-grade class was not surprised when the two chicks emerged fuzzy and so plump, and calm-seeming, and sunshine yellow: perfect. For a time their little chirps floating out from the pouch Ms. Hansen-Knudsen made in her blouse were enough to put […]

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Aquabot

Since Kurt didn’t relate well to living things, his sister Val got him an Aquabot for his birthday. It arrived from Amazon in an oversized box that held an ordinary glass fishbowl, a green plastic shark and an extra card of button batteries. “Activates when submerged in water,” the directions said, so Kurt filled the […]

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Saint Burma

Plottoists brought it all back home last week for our final round of THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, and the judges phoned in from their respective Thanksgiving locations to fight it out for the winning story. Congratulations to winner Nikki HoSang, whose clever “Saint Burma” delivers a homecoming we never expected. Jo was fluffing […]

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Laws

PLOTTO took a turn for the harrowing last week. Protagonists committed crimes ranging from casual murder to poor artistic taste, political apathy to the unleashing of spiders. Or did they? Congratulations to winner Zana Previti, whose mysterious “Laws” brought us characters so convincing we thought we knew them, and so haunting that, by the end, […]

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Thanksgiving

  Fictional writers got more than they bargained for last week. They sparred with disgruntled protagonists, relived their memoirs, and reckoned with that minor character they killed off in Chapter One. Congratulations to the winner of Week Three, Carolyn Oliver, whose poignant “Thanksgiving” reminded us the story is never over.  Check out this week’s prompt […]

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Rust

Ghosts. Talking plants. A sense of self. Just a few of the (sometimes hazardous) surprises in store for last week’s protagonists as they took took up quarters in a vacant house. Congratulations to the winner of Week Two, Annesha Sengupta for her story “Rust.” The more times we read it, the eerier it gets. Check out […]

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Hey Neighbor

Week One of PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS brought in an overwhelming array of great stories. We found ourselves in busy train stations, fish markets, and test labs. Strangers passed each other cryptic letters, time-travel talismans, howling babies. And then they vanished, leaving us eager for more. Congratulations to last week’s winner, John Lawton, […]

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La Grande Guerre

A parasol and a stone seawall and a polished lady clad all in white: ostrich feather hat, fringed purse, silk gloves. Her posture lovely, her coiffure tight. But Mag has planted a flower in front: a blue hydrangea pom-pomming preposterously. Star-shaped blossoms facade what Georgette would most like to see: is the lady’s face as […]

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Everyone

This isn’t one of those stories where someone has cancer. In this story, everyone has cancer. Everyone is sitting in a room with an old friend, while the sunlight fades behind a stretch of Victorians and old oaks, and the room goes dark and only the candle light illuminates their faces, and they talk about cities in […]

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Liking

My friend asks me why I like her, but I don’t know what this question means, let alone how to answer it. Liking is a fundamentally unstable state with its own laws. There are some people who I agree with in every way and yet I don’t like them at all, while there are others […]

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Brown Dog and Gee

She wasn’t going to the hospital again, no way. It smelled like pee there and her mother always yelled at her to stop kicking her foot against the leg of the chair while they waited for the doctor. She didn’t like the hospital, despite what her dad said: “Well, for not liking it, you sure […]

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