By Joel Arnold
Read by Ben Phillips
I hope my son doesn’t notice how fidgety I’ve become. I want him to live a normal life. I want him to grow up healthy. Isn’t that the hope of every father?
He takes a bite and I hear the squish of his teeth in the apple’s pulp. As the nausea builds in me, the world swivels on one big spindle, and I can’t help but turn to look.
His face is covered with blood.
He takes another bite and I feel the world falling out from under me.
More blood spurts from the apple, splattering his chin, his neck, drenching his yellow tee-shirt with it.
He looks up at me. Smiling. Chewing.
By Livia Llewellyn
Read by Christiana Ellis
Midnight found her kneeling in grass, thick clumps of dirt all around. One by one she peeled and plucked segments of orange from its skin, then passed them between her legs. In the secret crevices of the tree, she gently tucked away the red-stained pulp. After, Cyan cradled the slender trunk, her fingers buried in its roots.
“Bear something for me,” she pleaded in her sleep. “Bear me.”
By John R. Platt
Read by George Hrab
Magic and I have never exactly been what you’d call the best of friends.
I’ve had plenty of opportunities over the years to try to make the relationship work. I joined a coven, did all the research, bought myself all of the accoutrements of the trade, even had business cards printed up.
But no matter how much knowledge I amassed, when it came to actually performing magic, I was a dud.
By J. C. Hay
Read by Richard Dansky
And now he was back again, wandering through what was left of the basement of the synagogue where he had huddled with his family and neighbors. Outside in the streets was a Germany gone mad, and this had been a safe place to hide. His father had announced that he knew how to protect them, if everyone stayed here. And he was right; if not for his actions, they would all have died that night, instead of just him. It was time, Jakob supposed, to settle the old ghosts haunting his memory.
He had been a boy of twelve at the time, but he would never forget. It was as indelible in his mind as the numbers tattooed on his forearm. Jakob pushed further into the dark and felt something crunch beneath his foot. The darkness gleefully filled the space in front of him as he pointed the beam of his flashlight down to find metal and broken glass reflecting back up at him whitely.
He picked the glasses up, holding them in the light for a moment. They were covered with dust, one lens cracked, the other fallen out completely. The gold wire holding the round glass in place had twisted and bent, long before his clumsy foot had found them. Jakob was surprised they had survived in the basement this long. He expected they would have been stolen by now. It had been fifty years after all.
By Stephen Gaskell
Read by Paul S. Jenkins
My brother’s death didn’t need to meaningless. It would be my spur to reveal the cruel practices that go for treatment in our mental institutions up and down this land. I would become a patient and expose these places from the inside. This then is the true reason for my absence from these pages. For the last three weeks, unknown to all but a select few personages, I have been a resident of Bedlam. What I discovered will sound like one of Aesop’s fabulous tales, or perhaps, more pertinently, the ravings of a madman, but I swear by the light of the Lord, all that you will read ahead is a true account of events.
By Ron McGillvray
Read by David Moore
Peter finally came across a channel which had a video of the smoke he’d seen, rising in the air. He looked at the TV screen in wonder as flames shot out from within the smoke. Must be a doozy, he thought as he stood mesmerized in front of the TV.
A young woman appeared on the screen with the smoke as her backdrop. She held a microphone and seemed about to speak but instead looked back at the fire as if it might be sneaking up on her. Peter thought to himself what a cool job that must be. He thought that maybe it might be something he’d like to do when he got older. He looked over his shoulder to see if any of the kids had decided to follow him in but the coast was clear.
“From where I’m standing, I can easily feel the heat of the fire,” a woman’s voice said.