palmistry genre: literarystyle: flash Maeve learned to love the open palm of his hand in the absence of his face, his eyes. The web of lines creasing his skin and the amalgam of scar tissue laid over them became a map by which she could escape the confines of that oppressive cage, by which she could almost forget the despair which loomed above like the heaviest of thunderheads. She busied her mind memorizing every feature, from the folds and pores of his flesh to the roughness of its calluses and smoothness of its ancient wounds. She learned all the different ways one could hold hands with another. Lacing fingers. Stroking thumbs. Holding that hand was to her like clinging to a lifeline amidst a roiling ocean rich with ravenous, many-fanged beasts. Holding that hand was, to her, the only reason to keep on breathing in that hellish prison, because it promised that she would see the sun again someday and when that day came, she would not be alone. midnight to seven genre: mysterystyle: short The sheriff’s office of Cooke’s Run, Montana was an unassuming building of brick and white stone erected in the shadow of the mountain, tucked away at the end of a dead-end road clogged with gray slush. Midnight approached. Flurries stirred. Save for one police cruiser, the small parking lot laid empty. A single streetlight cast odd shadows with its dingy, mustard light, igniting the snow as it drifted through the meager corona. All was silent, outside and in, where Deputy Mads Kraemer—who’d lost a bet against the night shift rookie—fought off sleep at the front desk, ambling through last week’s crossword without much success. All was peaceful, outside and in, where the bullpen was empty and the lamp glow was soft. All was calm, outside and in, until the clock struck the hour, headlights gleamed through the glass double doors, and a man whom the Deputy had never before seen strolled in, carrying six black plastic bags, saying, “I’m here to report a murder.” 12:00 AM please stand clear genre: science fictionstyle: short I have mastered the art of being alone without succumbing to loneliness.Anyone on the outside looking in through the tinted train windows might think such a statement a blatant manifestation of a woman deep in denial, drowning beneath roaring waves of solitude. But that simply is not the case.There’s no one out there anyway.Mine are the only pair of judgmental eyes left on this ravaged world—at least as far as I can tell.I came to terms with my isolation long ago. My hatred for the train was a boiling, scalding thing in my youth, driving me to pound the doors, claw the viewports, tear cables from the ceiling panels in frustrated rage. These tantrums did nothing to slow the train. To this day, it speeds blindingly along the route preprogrammed into the ATO panel—sealed behind an impenetrable, bulletproof bulwark of a door—plodding its never-ending loop though sun-blasted plains, jagged mountains, and gloomy marshes.