War Without Rules by Howie Good

There were days when the explosions didn’t subside. The sirens became more and more frequent, especially at night. We began to sleep badly. Then one morning, while hurrying to the market, I was struck by flying debris. At the hospital the doctor first looked around to make sure no one was listening who shouldn’t be. “I just need to grab a lab coat and one egg and I can fix this,” he said. He cut my feet open and put pennies in the incisions before sewing them back up and wrapping them in bandages. He explained that they were lucky pennies. 


Howie Good is a poet and collage artist on Cape Cod. His latest poetry books are Famous Long Ago (Laughing Ronin Press) and The Bad News First (Kung Fu Treachery Press).

Hawkeyed Henry by Travis Flatt

Where are you tonight, Evil? 

The Dairy Queen hamburgers I ate for dinner have made me gassy, so I sit inside Vengeance, a black 1996 Honda Accord, watching the parking lot and stinking up the dark. When I finish patrol, I will drive around Olympia for an hour with the windows cracked to air her out. During the day, Vengeance becomes just another car, which my mother uses to drive to work at my father’s veterinary practice. My parents are old enough to retire, and when I finish grad school (one semester), I intend to find sufficient daytime employment to expedite this and move to my own apartment or house.

Men and women go out of the GameStop–mostly looking for PS5s, I’d say– and I wait for the boy to get off his shift. He’s the one. He’ll be next. He’ll disappear and reappear in the local news, followed by a memorial Facebook page erected by his mother or girlfriend. 

Brayden Harris, seventeen years old, blond, a senior at Avanti High School. Even if you’re young and fit like Brayden, the striker for the ACS soccer team, it doesn’t matter if there’s a pistol in your face. I believe Evil carries a pistol, a small-caliber, like a .22.

I check the cartridges in my pistol, my father’s .32 revolver whom I’ve named “Wing,”–as in “Wing Man”–and sure enough, he’s still loaded. I’ve never fired Wing–I know the law, and the law doesn’t protect me unless it’s clean self-defense, and certainly not if I’ve provoked the situation. Still, only a fool goes on patrol without a sidekick. Loners are reckless children, that type of silly man-child (or woman-child) obsessed with comic books. 

It’s 8:47, and Brayden gets off at nine. His truck, a white 2021 Ford F-150, is in the parking lot. He always works on Thursday nights and 

  1.  I’m positive that it is his truck because I’ve recorded his license plate. 
  2. All the other boys that Evil has captured have disappeared on weekday evenings between their work shifts and midnight.

Evil will strike tonight. 

However, he won’t succeed tonight: Hawkeyed Henry is here. (That’s a stupid name Henry. Why haven’t you changed it yet?) 

The problems with “Hawkeyed Henry” are 

  1. There’s already a Hawkeye–he was created by Stan Lee (as a villain, no less) in 1964. He’s famously portrayed by actor Jeremy Renner in the MCU movies. 
  2. On May 24, 1991 (my seventh birthday), a film entitled Hudson Hawk, starring Bruce Willis as the titular anti-hero (unrelated to the Marvel Comics character), was released to mediocre box-office reception and critical contempt. It holds a score of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve contributed to the Wikipedia page seven times. Hawkeyed Henry must be taken seriously, and it’s too easy to dismiss and/or mock the concept of the real-world superhero without allowing the media these easy associations. 
  3. Additionally, there is a poorly received 2015 Russian/American action movie called Hardcore Henry which I barely consider worth mentioning. 

Brayden is walking out of the store with his usual swagger. Oh, to be young and cocksure again. Wing and I calculate that Evil will wait for Brayden near his (Brayden’s) truck or will possibly attempt to intercept him during the short walk from storefront to truck.

I am poised and ready to interrupt this interception. 

I am not Evil. I am confident of this. I’ve painstakingly accounted for my whereabouts on the nights that each of the other boys went missing. You can’t trick me so easily, Evil. I’m immune to your mind games while wearing my helmet. 

The single witness account describes Evil as a “tall, heavyset Caucasian male.” I might loosely meet that description in poor lighting, but I am neither tall nor particularly “heavyset.” I am of Italian-American descent, which would, I guess, qualify me in most people’s minds as Caucasian–

Someone’s approaching Brayden in the parking lot. I’m out of Vengeance and walking. My hand is on Wing, who’s tucked into the waistband of my pants, and–

Abort mission. Brayden is greeting a group of fellow teenagers, one black and two Caucasian. I head back for Vengeance, retracing my path through the parking lot. 

“Hey man, they’re closing,” shouts one of the teenagers. It’s Brayden, I believe. He’s addressing me and must be referring to the GameStop since it’s the only store still open in this strip mall.  

I hear the group of boys laughing. “Are you wearing a cape, dude?” One of them yells after me. “Is that a mask?” 

Actually, it is not a “mask.” It is a helmet with tactical implants. It is bulletproof, like my chest plate. These cost me over 4,000 dollars to design and build. I do not respond, only walk toward Vengeance. 

“He’s dressed like Batman,” another boy says. It could be the same boy, actually. It’s difficult to tell in the helmet. I will concede that the helmet does compromise my hearing and peripheral vision in some scenarios. 

Once inside Vengeance, I replace Wing in his home in the glovebox, and avoid eye contact with the boys while exiting the parking lot, content that Brayden Harris will be safe from Evil for one more night, at least. 

My duty to this city is fulfilled and I will finish patrol content that Hawkeyed Henry has completed his mission. For tonight, at least. 


Travis Flatt is an epileptic teacher and actor living in Nashville, Tennessee. He enjoys dogs and Shakespeare. His stories appear in Bridge Eight, Fauxmoir, Terror House, and many other publications. 

Sharp-dressed Dead People by Brad Rose

As soon as I can, I’m going to become a whole different person, because whenever I talk to myself, I’m uncertain about who’s listening to whom. Naturally, it takes some time to get to know yourself, especially if you’re not interested. I think I’ll wait here until something beautiful happens. Pride goes before a fall, even if it doesn’t burn many calories. Each year, I stand in the shower for three-thousand, six hundred, and fifty minutes. The water smooths its cool hologram over me as I wonder, Am I a security threat because I have no heart? Both sides claim that the other side suffered heavy casualties. Of course, that doesn’t explain why there are so many sharp-dressed dead people walking around town. Is this a motel or a hotel? There are so many guests here, but no one seems to know if it’s OK to hunt them for food, or for sport.


Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author three collections of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015), de/tonations, (Nixes Mate Press, 2020), and Momentary Turbulence (Cernvena Barva Press, 2020). WordinEdgeWise from Cerven Barva Press is forthcoming in later 2021. His poems have appeared in Cultural Weekly, Bending Genres, the LA Times, and the American Journal of Poetry. A complete list of publications is available at: http://bradrosepoetry.com/2019/03/a-list-of-publications/  Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com Selected readings can be heard at http://bradrosepoetry.com/audio-readings/