Prison Quay by Ryan Tan

Melanie enters my cabin with five bags of grass jelly, says Captain Nigel should be fired for denying me shore leave. I remove The Exorcist from my bed before she sits. Black jelly drifts in a sea of soy milk. I tell Melanie I jumped off the deck and challenged myself to return without going ashore. She laughs, but it’s true I gripped the railing and watched a boy punch the ship’s gong. He had three moles on his chin, like Nigel. The silent gong flailed. At dinner, I catch Nigel’s eye and nod. He sits upright and nods back.

Ryan Tan studies English Literature at the National University of Singapore. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Straylight, Grimdark, Bone Parade, Altered Reality, and The 13 Days of Christmas.

The extraordinary thing is …..  by Doug Jacquier

When it first appeared at the Spendthrift Mall, few people paid any attention to It. The shoppers resting on the benches were the first to notice, then the older folk just wanting to get out of the house, the young mums feeding their babes, the homeless seeking shelter from the cold, and the teens wanting to escape the chaos of home.

When they related what they saw to others, they struggled to describe It. It was definitely there but It didn’t have a shape they recognised. They couldn’t say for sure what the main colour was; some said purple, some said red, one even said green, but all said It was different colours at different times.

It made a noise, not loud, but constant and rhythmic. The noise seemed somehow familiar but unlike anything they’d heard before.

Young men trying to impress the girls approached It with cool bravado and attitude but as they moved It was suddenly behind them, making them look foolish to the girls and everyone else who’d been watching It move, seemingly randomly but with an eerie sense of intention.

Security arrived and attempted to put a safety barrier around it, as if It was a ‘Slippery When Wet’ spillage. When they finished, It was not inside the barrier but had moved to the shopfront of the shoe emporium.

When the Police arrived, they ordered all customers and staff to evacuate the mall while they evaluated the threat, or at least what they imagined might be a threat, if only they could work out what It was. TV cameramen pressed against the glass doors trying to get footage for the 6 o’clock news without any real idea of what they were trying to film. Reporters quizzed eye witnesses who described in detail what they didn’t know about what they saw.

A couple of hours later, a bevy of what the Government hoped would be experts arrived. The selection was somewhat hampered by having no idea who might be an expert in these circumstances. An advance party donned HazMat suits and, escorted by a menacing looking SWAT team, made their way cautiously past Wendy’s, McDonalds and Smokemart to the Grand Foyer leading to the supermarket. 

It appeared briefly, emerging from Kool Kutz and Tattoos, before disappearing up the escalator to Homewares and Furnishings. Using hand signals, the group leader indicated a need to retreat, although no-one really knew whether they needed to be safe and, if so, from what.

The media immediately besieged the team of experts and relayed live to air their potential concerns about what It might be, while being suitably evasive about what they had or hadn’t seen, in the interests of national security. The Prime Minister called an urgent press conference to announce that whatever resources were required to deal with this emergency would be made available and hinted darkly, without naming names, that certain foreign countries hostile to our interests may be involved but he didn’t wish to speculate further.

Meanwhile, back at the mall, at a hastily established Command Centre, a heated discussion was under way between senior members of first responder organisations and the military as to what was a safe point at which to establish a perimeter and what weaponry may be needed to counter the threat, just as soon as it was established what the threat comprised.

Social media was rife with both speculation and certainty that this was, amongst other possibilities, the first sign of the Second Coming, the symbolic heralding of the triumph of the One World Government, and Bill Gates demonstrating the launch of his Windows Of The Soul mind-control software.

In a desperate attempt to show decisiveness in the face of an unknown threat to his Government, the Prime Minister ordered the evacuation of all homes within a three-mile radius and called in an airstrike to totally eliminate the mall and any adjacent buildings that may be harbouring the threat.

When the dust settled, the rebuilding of the area became a pillar of the Government’s plans to stimulate the economy and provide new jobs. At the grand opening of the new Mall, the Prime Minister preened and beamed at the sea of smiling faces in front of him, oblivious to the fact that they were all fascinated by something of indeterminate shape and colour that was hovering and humming over his head.

Panic followed as the local residents fled to pack, ahead of the next air strike.

Doug Jacquier lives in Yankalilla, Australia. He writes stories and poems. He’s lived in as many places across Australia, including regional and remote communities, as well as travelling extensively, especially in Asia and the US. He’s a former social worker and former not-for-profit CEO. His work has been included in several anthologies, including Friendly Street’s New Poets 21. He has recently published a collection of short humor, Raving and Wryting, on Amazon. He blogs at Six Crooked Highways.

Bad Cliff Notes Volume 1: The Great Gatsby by Jon Wesick

Nick Carraway goes AWOL from the French Foreign Legion to learn who killed his twin brother, Rick, an undercover narcotics agent. Nick impersonates his brother at an underground MMA tournament run by Jay Gatsby at his estate called Xanadu. Tom Buchanan is the guy to beat. He weighs 260 pounds and has two cobras tattooed on his pecs. He tosses his first opponent out of the octagon and ends up putting him in a wheelchair.

None of this bothers Nick Carraway who calmly watches from the sidelines while doing full splits. Now, Myrtle Wilson is smokin’ hot. Tom Buchanan overhears her mention how sexy she thinks Nick Carraway is. This makes Tom jealous because in spite of being married to Daisy, he’s been carrying on with Myrtle for over a year. To get Nick out of the picture, Tom gives Myrtle’s husband, George Wilson, some hallucinogenic powder to put inside Nick’s mouthguard.

During his first match against George Wilson, Nick begins to feel woozy. Unable to see where George’s punches are coming from, Nick takes a beating. When George gets Nick in a chokehold, Nick flashes back to a playground fight when his brother yelled, “Use the head butt, Nick.” Nick head butts George to get out of the choke hold and then wins the match with a spinning back kick to George’s face.

Daisy Buchanan mistakes Nick for his brother and slips him a note saying the drug buy will take place at midnight. When she learned about her husband’s affair with Myrtle, she became Rick’s informant. That night, Nick sneaks out of the dormitory and runs to the pier where the deal goes down. After Tom buys the drugs, he hears Daisy’s cell phone ring from the shadows. He, Myrtle, and his henchmen capture her and discuss how to make her death look like an accident. Nick Carraway comes to the rescue, dispatching Tom’s henchmen with cartwheels, somersaults, and kicks to the face. Armed with a grappling hook, Tom attacks Nick who uses a two-by-four as a makeshift weapon. While the two slug it out, Daisy Buchanan defeats Myrtle using her superior BJJ moves. Just when Tom is about to win, he slips on a salted anchovy and impales himself on his own grappling hook.

Jay Gatsby emerges from the inky shadows and reveals that he is an MI-6 agent who’s been trying to bust the drug ring for years. After thanking Nick, Gatsby loads the drugs into a speedboat along with Daisy and says he’ll take it from there. Too late, Nick realizes Gatsby can’t be British because of the way he pronounces schedule. Nick steals a bicycle to chase Gatsby’s boat through Amsterdam’s canals. Nick jumps from a bridge but misjudges the distance so he lands in the water and clings to the speedboat’s gunwales. Gatsby goes after Nick with a gaffing hook but Daisy distracts him by throwing a hundred-thousand-dollars-worth of drugs into the canal. This allows Nick to climb on board and dispatch Gatsby with a half-dozen kicks to the head.

Daisy confesses her love for Nick’s twin brother but says she can never live with a man who doesn’t eat bok choy due to her vegan diet. Nick explains that he’s Rick’s twin brother and that he never had a problem with bok choy or oyster mushrooms, for that matter. The two move to Akron, Ohio and open a karate dojo.

Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Pearl, Pirene’s Fountain, Slipstream, Space and Time, and Tales of the Talisman. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his stories “The Visitor” and “A Story for the Rest of Us” for Pushcart Prizes. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. Another poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists Contest. “Richard Feynman’s Commute” shared third place in the 2017 Rhysling Award’s short poem category. Jon is the author of the poetry collections Words of Power, Dances of Freedom and A Foreigner Wherever I Go as well as several novels and short story collections. His most recent novel is The Prague Deception