By Simon Strantzas
Read by Nerraux
It reminds me of the place Jackson and I lived in during our final year of university. The corridors are filled with the partial light of forty-watt bulbs, and the walls look soiled and gummy — the odour of cooking meat and bleach sweating from them. Only three straight corridors, one on top of the other, each end marked by a staircase: the building feels decidedly utilitarian. Unlike our old apartment, however, there’s no telling how long Jackson will be here for.
“I feel like I’ve been robbed by myself,” he says, surveying the scattered boxes. “She only took the things I cared most about. Gilbert, she even took my cat. My cat!” He shakes his head. “All she left me was this.” His trembling hands unwrap a framed photograph of Janet and himself in Africa on the trip they had planned over a year to take together. In it, Jackson is adjusting a safari hat too large for him, trying to keep it from falling over his eyes. Janet has her brown cheek pressed up against his, focused on something beyond the photographer. Both are smiling. “I know I should throw this away,” he says. “But I can’t. Why can’t I throw it away?” I shift boxes around, wondering how I’m suddenly supposed to know the answer.
By Maura McHugh
Read by Cheyenne Wright
Floating above the earth, Kulin checked the boundary around the graveyard. To his relief the hungry ghosts were contained, but the binding charms showed signs of deterioration. He cloaked his lifeforce so the dead would ignore his presence; a chill settled over his heart. He could not maintain the illusion for long.
He slipped into the sacred grove. The pallid forms of the dead, some still, other agitated, moved around the confines of the graveyard. The outlines of the grave huts loomed above them: little wooden cabins on fragile stilts, where the soul dolls resided. Underneath them lay the grave boats in which the bodies were interred.
Anger and grief saturated the atmosphere, and Kulin restrained the violent shaking that threatened to overcome him. The living were not welcome.
The Tamga stood in the middle of the cemetery. Its skinny arms stretched upwards, and its black hair flared out. Kulin shrank into himself, and concealed his life’s pulse.
By Tina Connolly
Read by Cayenne Chris Conroy
Getting infected makes your brain rewriteable. Surviving makes you able to rewrite. Not everyone gets it; most natives are immune and even many tourists are. One half percent is a low enough number that tourists flock in by the thousands, through the major port city and down south to the waters. The adults that get it are in a coma within 24 hours.
It’s only kids who sometimes survive.
By the time Szo saw his mother, he’d turned nineteen minds for Hawk. He remembers the first one particularly, like you remember a first girl or first trick. But he remembers all the others, too. “Don’t know why you would,” says Jonny. “I don’t remember all the men.” But Szo does, and he clings to each one, proof that somehow he is not like Jonny, not like Hawk, not like himself. This is all temporary and therefore changeable, rewriteable.
By Mike Allen
Read by Ben Phillips
What finally saved him at the not-so-tender age of fourteen was a book
about lucid dreams he found at the community college library. He
followed the recommended exercise out of desperation, repeating until
he fell asleep: “I will know when I am dreaming. I will remember what
Just as his first encounters with the morbid plunged him into
nightmare, his first attempt at lucid dreaming introduced him to
unlimited power. He again found himself in the City of Mazes, pursued
by a crowd pulled on fleshy strings. You are all inside my head, he
thought, and knew they were. He commanded, Stop, and they did,
collapsing to the ground as their severed strings thrashed like loose