The neon sign off the side of the road glimmers like an oasis in the wasteland of darkness Jack has been driving through.


The lights are low inside the bar, and the tables mostly empty. “What’ll you have?” the bartender asks as Jack settles onto a stool.

“Something strong.”

A nod. She turns around, grabs a bottle off the shelf, unstoppers it with a practiced hand and sets the bottle on the bar in front of him. No glass appears, and the bartender shuffles away without another word. Ah well, he doesn’t intend to go home tonight anyway. He reaches for the bottle.

“Duuuuuuust . . .” The woman’s voice is parched, broken, and a little spiteful.

“Who . . . ?” And then he sees the misty, ethereal glow inside the bottle.

“I loved a man who loved men,” the voice continued. “I got him to marry me for the sake of his career and thought we could be happy. Resentment. Anger. Infidelity. Fire. Dust. I burned it all down. All we built – dust. My bones – dust. You too and all you love shall be dust.”

The spirit’s words burn going down. Jack feels dizzy, feels sick, feels a cold numbness seeping into his bones.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


Toni’s house was haunted.

The smell of acrid smoke assaulted her as soon as she entered the kitchen. A moment of panic, quickly replaced by anger. The ghost had struck again.

“Karl!” she called out. “Why did you run the coffee maker?”

A translucent figure drifted in from the living room. “I turn on the coffee maker every morning,” he said with a dismissive shrug.

“Yes, but did you notice there was no coffee or water in it?”

A roll of the eyes. “I’ve lived in this house for thirty years. You really expect me to change my routine after all that time? It’s not my fault you don’t know how to make coffee properly.”

“But you don’t live here anymore,” Toni retorted, gesturing to his hovering form. “And you can’t even drink the coffee.”

“And you can’t prepare it responsibly, but you don’t hear me complaining.”

Toni rubbed her temples. The headache she had woken up with had intensified dramatically. “I’m leaving,” she announced. “Apparently I need to stop by Starbucks on my way to work.”

“While you’re there,” the ghost grunted, “You should look into picking up a new coffee maker. This one doesn’t work anymore.”

Toni screamed.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


Jones could hear the screaming as soon as she stepped out of the squad car. She directed a grim nod to her partner and approached the house.

Nancy could barely hear the pounding at the door. The second or maybe third time that a fist beat against her front door, she finally managed to break through the haze, stagger over and open it.

Noise tumbled out of the open door and with it, a woman: frantic, desperate, wide red-ringed eyes. “Thank God you’re here,” she cried.

“You’re the one who called?”

“You have to take him away.”

“Is there someone else here?” Jones asked, looking past her into the house.

“Please,” Nancy said. She held out the screaming infant. “I haven’t slept for three days. You have to save me.”

The officer’s jaw clenched. She glanced back at the squad car. “Collins—”

Another officer appeared. He strode over with a calm gate and a gentle smile. “May I?” With her permission, he flipped the baby onto his belly, draped him over an arm and started patting his back. In a matter of moments, the sobs had turned to small sniffling breaths.

“But . . . how?”

“You have a nice day ma’am.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


The door shut. She waited, counting his steps as he descended the apartment stairs. Finally, she spoke to the empty room.  “He didn’t really see anything. He just said the spot on the wall looked like a face.”

Silence. That seemed like a good sign. So why did she feel so cold? 

“I’m sorry,” she offered,  just for good measure. “I know I’m not supposed to let anyone know about you. But it was an accident.”

The wall creaked and quivered. The spot with the brownish stains bulged like a growing bubble. It pulsed and shuddered,  shadows caving in as a hollow-eyed face pushed its way into the room. A noise that was almost a voice shuddered out the word, “Lies…”

“No,” she insisted. “No, no, no, no, no,  please don’t think that. I didn’t tell him anything.”

Wood cracking, insect skittering, air moving in empty places: “Punishment…”

A shape like a hand began pressing through the wall. “Not again. I swear, he doesn’t know anything.”


It was cold. She could see her breath. “Y-you want… you don’t mean…”

There was a knock on the door. 

A gasp, a murmur, a sob: “Please.”

The wall began to crack.  


* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


“Do you want to talk about what you saw?” I asked softly

She nodded, wringing the hand that had shaken his.


Hesitation, eyes watery and unfocused. She nodded.

We made our way to a quiet corner of the party where we could pretend to look out a window at the city. I was quiet at first, wanting to give her the opportunity to speak first. My imagination swirled with possibilities either tragic or gruesome enough to trigger this sort of reaction from her. But I had learned early on not to press her about her visions. She couldn’t help glimpsing a person’s final moments, but that didn’t give her the right to share them. Even after nine years together, she still hadn’t told me anything about my own death.

So I waited. She remained too shaken to speak “It was a bad one,” I said, more an observation than a question.

“Not exactly,” she answered. “He’s . . . happy. Maybe a decade older. He’s in a hospital bed, but he’s surrounded by people. Mostly family by their looks, but friends too.”

“That sounds beautiful.”

“I’m there too,” she added. “But . . . you’re not. By then . . .”

Understanding, cold and merciless, opened my eyes.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox



She had to take slow, careful steps to reach the center of the stage, but her pain disappeared as the applause reached a crescendo. This was why she kept performing; not for the applause, but for the audience. For a chance to create something meaningful.


A trophy, gleaming gold. Lights shining in her eyes. Faces turned toward her expectantly. “Thank you,” she began. They would think she meant for the award. How could she let them know it was for so much more.


The audience had been thin and the performance had been exhausting. Bad reviews had scared people off, and they had never managed to turn it around. Each night she asked herself if it was worth going on, not just with this show, but with the whole damn career.

When she left the dressing room that night, a wide-eyed girl lingered in the theatre lobby. “It’s you,” she said. There were tears in her eyes. “Thank you”


She stood in Times Square, dizzy and delirious, staring up at a her name on a marquis.


“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure.”

“It won’t be easy.”
“I know. But maybe it will mean something.”


Sharp teeth of a snarling cougar, a tray full of glass eyes, animal skins hanging from hooks. Phillip looked nervously over his shoulder to see Liza offering an encouraging smile. Then the door shut, and Phillip alone with Isaac, his girlfriend’s father.

“I could spend hours working out here,” the older man was explaining. “I find it very thought provoking, especially about politics.”

Liza had tried to warn him, but nothing could have prepared Phillip for this. “About . . . what sir?”

Isaac smiled just a little too eagerly at this invitation. “Well just look at our governmental system. Maybe it was alive and thriving once, but now it’s just a carcass. A relic from antiquity, stuffed with clay and mothballs. And no matter how well we prop it up and preserve it, no one’s going to be fooled for long.”

“I guess . . . it’s hard to nice to have something recognizable to hold onto,” Phillip offered. In the corner, a taxidermy mouse was preserved forever beneath the paw of a hungry looking coyote. Phillip envied the mouse.

“But don’t you see? That’s the problem! I once put wings on a groundhog. I could put a lizard skin on a chicken frame and make a dinosaur. It takes vision. A willingness to experiment. And a very sharp knife. Few people have all three.”

That’s when Phillip finally noticed the tools in the room. He had been so distracted by the animals, he hadn’t noticed the needles, shears, knives and other sharp implements spread out on the workstation. “Are we still talking about politics?”

“Your eye’s twitching, Philllip.”

“I’m very uncomfortable, sir.”

Isaac nodded. “Arrangement of skin,” he declared. “That’s the literal meaning of taxidermy. Putting it like that, we’re all taxidermy. Keep that in mind, and you might be worthy to date Liza.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


“Wait,” she said, panting, “stop for a second.”

“Huh, wha—” he said, growing still above her. “What’s wrong?”

“Is that . . .”

“I know,” he said bashfully. “I was trying something I read—”

“Not you,” she said. “Quiet.” Then after a moment’s consideration, she whispered, “but you should definitely keep going with that in a minute.”

“Okay, great!” he whispered back. “But then why—”


She paused a moment longer, then nodded confidently. “It’s definitely a goat.”

He looked beneath the sheets, “It’s a . . . I don’t . . .”

“Just listen.”

And how could he refuse that playful smile or the twinkle in her eyes, especially when she was naked beneath him. So he listened. He waited. He heard the pounding of his veins and the quiet music he had put on earlier, but nothing else. “What am I—” And then he heard it, an unmistakable bleating.

“Goat,” she repeated. “We gotta check it out.”

“But . . . now?”

They disentangled, gathered the blankets around them, and peaked through the blinds above the headboard. Sure enough, standing in the apartment parking lot was a brown LaMancha goat staring directly at their window.

“I don’t like that,” he whispered.

“Do you still want to . . .”

The goat bleated.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


Effervescence came rushing past her, airy and prismatic.

It burst.

Martina stopped short on the park sidewalk, uncertain whether she had even seen the bubble. She was just about to give up and continue on her way when another of the delicate spheres drifted past.

Silly little things, Martina thought to herself. She looked in the direction from which it had come, over a low, grassy hill. As she did, she saw several more bubbles drift over the top of the hill, though they popped before reaching. Silly old woman. She left the path and began climbing the small slope.

Over and down into a small cluster of trees. Bubbles were thick there, radiant with captured sunset and reflected green. She descended,. The bubbles rushed to meet her, then burst like kisses on her hand, like tears on her cheek, like whispered wishes.

“Hello Mom.”

She had stumbled out of the cloud of bubbles beside a young woman who had her same eyes.

Martina smiled. “I thought I’d find you if I just followed the—”

The bubble burst.

“Oh, but you’re . . . does that mean I’m . . . ?”

A somber nod. “I’m sorry.”

“No, darling,” Martina answered, eyes glistening with captured sunset, “I’m ready.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


They moved with bright steps through the night, bouncing to the rhythm of songs that still flared in their ears.

“I told you!” Lena cheered

“I had no idea,” Gwen laughed. 

“I told you!”

In the parking lot around them, there were people singing and people fighting, people pulling and people kissing. The music had gone quiet, the light show had ended, but the air was still electric. They barely noticed, too caught up in their own euphoria. 

“That was amazing,” Gwen said,  curls bouncing as she shook her head. 

Lena’s face was suddenly illuminated by the glare of her phone. A few swipes and taps and music started to play, the same song they had just heard live. “She really is brilliant. And people don’t talk enough about her lyrics.”

They walked close together, bodies colliding between energetic strides. “I’m sorry no one else could come,” Gwen remarked.

“They’re missing out,” Lena agreed.  

“I’m kind of glad though. Tonight has been so…”

“I know, right? Just incredible. I love her.”

And Gwen said it. “I love you.”

“Oh,” Lena stammered. Clarity cut through their electric daze. “Oh,” she said again,  more softly. The music swelled. Lena began to smile. 

Story by Gregory M. Fox