Flash Fiction: “The Pixie Game” by Anna Zumbro
(Originally published at Daily Science Fiction.)
The rain has stopped shortly before the dismissal bell rings, and the ground is spongy and quivering with worms. Someone taps Gage’s shoulder. He spins around and sees Dasha, her mouth upturned at some private joke.
“We’re playing the pixie game. Want to come?”
It’s the third time someone has talked to him at this school and the first time he’s been invited to do anything. He follows her, half running, to the hedges surrounding the playground.
Iver and Jack are already waiting at the greenest part of the hedge. Gage has never spoken to either of them, but he’s noticed that everyone laughs at Iver’s jokes whether they’re funny or not, that even fifth-graders defer to him in the lunch line.
Iver nods at Dasha and turns to Gage. He grins. “Hey, new kid. You go first.”
“Okay.” Gage approaches the hedge, ready to thrust his hand through the branches on the count of three. “Am I going against you?”
“What? Didn’t you ever play before? Show him, Jack.”
Main Story: “Greener Pastures” by Michael J. Martineck
(Originally published in The Urban Green Man.)
Esther’s pine-green boots swung together from the cab, planted on the curb, and let her blossom from the door. She stretched and opened and engulfed what pitiful level of sunlight managed to ricochet down to street level in this song of concrete, glass and steel they called a city.
“Loveless,” she said, looking up at her destination. She adjusted her skirt and jacket, greens so dark as to seem black in the dull autumn day. Primping? Her left upper lip curled like ivy ‘round a twig. She never primped. Usually. Except, she admitted, for today. Esther jangled her blond curls. The flow of pedestrians crossing the sidewalk paused, curious and smiling.
Seven pigeons landed before her, limning a runway between her and the gray revolving door she eyed.
The door rotated to match her stride. She crossed the tiled lobby, toward a white plastic arch, attended by 220 pounds of male muscle obstructed by a blue shirt and badge. She winked. The guard smiled.
“How sad,” she said passing under the arch. “A trellis with no roses.”
Michael J. Martineck’s latest novel — The Milkman (EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy), a murder mystery set in a world with no governments — won a gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and was also a finalist in the Eric Hoffer awards, given each year for salient writing from small presses. His previous novel, Cinco de Mayo, was a finalist for an Alberta Reader’s Choice Award. He has written for DC Comics, several magazines (fiction and non-fiction), the Urban Green Man anthology, and two urban fantasy novels for young readers. Michael has a degree in English and Economics, but has worked in advertising for several years. He lives with his wife and two children on Grand Island, New York. He can be found online at michaelmartineck.com.
About the Narrators:
Bennie Matesich was born during the information age of the second millennium. She is a graduate of Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, where she studied Theatre, English and Creative Writing while playing with power tools on a daily basis. (Her favorite is the skill saw.) Bennie has primarily worked as a stage actress and is new to the world of voice acting. Currently, she resides in Northern Michigan, where she is a mere mortal by day and one of the world’s best waitresses by night. She loves good beer, good stories, and bad jokes. “Why did the psychic decide to start podcasting? She had a very positive aural sense.”
Catherine Logan had many years of training in theatre and voice in her youth, and then many years of teaching acting, drama, writing, and English literature as a grown-up. She has taken plenty of workshops and has studio experience in narration, commercial and animation voiceover work. Catherine is now involved in a second career which takes her back to her first love. She can be reached at catherineloganvoice.com.