DREAMTIME (99 words)
Muddy footprints march past the kitchen counter towards the vestibule. Taking a deep breath, Laurel tiptoes to the doorway and peeks. The man in the corridor smiles at her. She screams.
She wakes up soaked in sweat. The roots of the gnarled oak under which she shelters feels hard under her thighs. In the moonlight, the clearing around the oak is desolate.
The dream again.
She curls up tightly, trying to calm the shudders racking her body. It feels so real. Each night the dream becomes more detailed, but tonight, for the first time, she has seen his face.
AFTERWARDS (100 words)
Hunter blew smoke rings and glanced at Jude lying beside him. She looked beautiful, the firelight glinting off her sweat darkened skin, breasts rising and falling in time with her ragged breathing. She watched him, legs in a tangle, eyes dark and smoky; a picture of satiated abandonment. Reaching over, he put the cigarette between her lips. Nuzzling her shoulder gently, he stroked his fingers down her flank, watching her skin indent and spring back. She squirmed and laughed softly, putting her hand over his.
“That tickles,” she said, leaning over to kiss him.
She tasted like tobacco and sex.
BAD ENDING (96 words)
Eddie only saw the bag because he sat on the park bench. He was alone, so he nudged the bag out with his foot and opened it.
The stacks of currency inside made him giddy. Savoring his fortune he dug deeper, feeling something under the bills. A gun!
This changed everything. Scared, he closed the bag just as two men turned the corner in the distance. They saw him, saw the bag in his hand and began to run towards him, making no sound. One drew a weapon.
Eddie ran, knowing it was already too late.
CHOICE (99 words)
Tchusin watched, horrified, as first one then another Xurthu battle cruiser winked into existence around Thiele, the blue sun of his home world Taleen. He raised his first appendage and scratched his eye-ridge anxiously. He knew his duty. The enemy hadn’t detected him yet because of his cloaking device, but using his tight-beam to jump to Taleen orbit would dispel the shield and leave him defenseless.
He could do nothing.
Wait for the Xurthu to leave.
But when they were gone, Taleen would be gone too.
Exhaling noisily, he extended his third appendage to the tight-beam node.
The river instinctively seeks the bay.
The bay has worn many faces.
Faces altered over eons by the relentless water.
Water that was not always here either.
Either it whispered in subterranean tunnels.
Or tunneled into vast still reservoirs.
The reservoirs are older; they were here before the bay and the river.
And the river doesn’t remember its form in different times.
Time is both its friend and its enemy.
An enemy that will eventually break its liquid heart.
For the heart of the river is also the Earth’s.
And the Earth’s heart does not beat forever.
Bryan Knower 2013
Dog Days (99 words)
It’s August, the water on Buzzard Bay so translucent it feels like I’m lying on a pane of glass. Trying not to splash, I roll over on my back just as a sailfish flies directly over me, fins spread, like a jeweled aquatic hurdler. The diamond shards of his watery wake create a rainbow of refracted colors through my half closed eyelids and I turn over again, trying to follow the quicksilver flash as he re-enters the water. He’s gone, like an apparition. All I see are the shadows of waves rippling on the sea floor thirty feet below.
Run Rabbit run (98 words)
Rabbit ran as hard as he could, running for his life. Muddy swamp water filled his sneakers and sucked malevolently at his feet, slowing him down. His breath steamed in the frosty night, coming in great gasps, but he pumped his arms harder, forcing more air into his tortured lungs. Behind him, the baying dogs sounded closer. The ground hindered them less than it did him. Underfoot, the squelching stopped suddenly and his feet gained traction. Ahead, through the thinning trees, a swath of silvery grass ended in a lighted ribbon of asphalt.
There was no going back.