Introducing Amy McCartney

Our regular readers will be familiar with this week’s artist, Amy McCartney. Her beautiful and imaginative works have accompanied many works of our talented authors.

Amy is a BA (Hons) Fine Art student at Newcastle University, in her last year. She works predominantly in painting. Last year she completed a semester at the Kunstakademie in Münster, Germany. She exhibited work in the academy’s ‘Rundgang’ in January 2019 whilst there. She has also exhibited in ‘MASH’, a group exhibition at Hoochie Coochie in May 2018, as well as in her course’s first year exhibition ‘Saga’ at the Tyneside Cinema film school, in May 2017, and multiple in-departmental course exhibitions.  Last year she collaborated on illustrations for the Bridges 2019 anthology, published by Bandit Fiction  earlier this year. She enjoys drawing and illustrating, an interest which was stimulated during the Visual Communication strand of her Art and Design Foundation Diploma, and has since produced some Illustrative commissions, as well as a book cover design.


As always, you can use this stunning visual work as a launch pad for your own writing or other creative work. Today’s prompt: Reflection.


Left to right/to to bottom: Above Us; Church Window; Blue Lagoon; Reflection; Shoulder Carry; Bridging Hands;  Empty Home; Engigma with a Blackbird; Helderberg Mountain;A Loving Cup; Puddle

Everything Was Wild by William Falo

Your Hand by Victoria Holt, 2016



                        Romania when everything was wild

I stopped at the edge of the woods and every part of me said to turn around, but I slipped into the graveyard and placed flowers on Violeta’s grave. I collapsed on it and guilt washed over me. My empty hand shook when something touched it. “Violeta,” I called out, but it was only a leaf.

I calmed myself down and stared at my hand. The same one that let go before she ran into the street at the same time a drunk driver drove his car down the narrow street. I needed to get back to the woods. The woods provide me the escape and peace I needed. There were no children to haunt me, no one to blame me, and no reason to think about starting a new life. Nothing could hurt me there and I could linger forever in a numb state.

I gripped the knife I always carried. It felt reassuring when it caused my hand to bleed. The blood dripped on to the path and I saw a bear’s tracks and followed them deeper into the woods. Bears were common in the Carpathian Mountains, but it was always better to be behind one than surprised by an attack.

I heard a girl’s voice. Maybe I was losing my mind. I knew it would come to this; I would go crazy before any physical aliment did me in.

The voice again. With no plan, I followed it sure it was not real.  In a clearing, a girl about twelve years old was holding a gun, the bear stood at the edge of the clearing pacing back and forth accessing the situation and in a chair, a man slept. Something was wrong.

The bear saw the girl and then me. I was closer, so it took the easy target and lumbered toward me. My knife looked small, but I didn’t back up. I never do. I had nothing to lose. The bear grunted, and I saw that part of an arrow stuck out of its side. A hunter hit it once, the bear was in pain making it deadly. It came closer.

“Run away,” I yelled at the girl, but she stood in place.

The bear lumbered toward me and raised his paw to swing a fatal blow just as a sharp sound filled my ears and something hit the tree behind me. Pieces of bark rained down on me. The bear ran back into the woods.

“You could have killed me?” I yelled at her. I glanced at the man on the chair. He didn’t move. When I looked closer, I saw that part of the man’s face was white. I then knew he was dead.

I needed to get out of here, but the girl kept the gun pointed at me. Did she aim for the bear or me?

“You shot at me?”

She didn’t answer. The presence of the dead man made the whole campsite look like a scene out of a horror movie.

I walked closer. “I’m Elena. What’s your name?’

“Ana.” She lowered the gun an inch.

“Him?” I pointed at the dead man.

“My father.”

“Okay.” I wanted to leave. I could run, she probably would miss if she shot at me.

“He’s just sleeping.”

“Forever.” Bluntness is a flaw of mine.

“No.” She lowered the gun some more.

I backed up. She noticed. “Why are you in the woods?”

“I’m looking for my missing daughter.” I lied.

“I can help you?”

“No.” I’m not a good person.

I didn’t want to deal with any of this. I resorted to lies. “Maybe, you can help me look for my daughter.” I lied. It was easier the more you did it. “We’ll come back for your father.” I stopped.

“I’m not stupid. I know he’s dead.” Ana began sobbing.

“What happened?”

“He spied on his neighbors and they found out.”

I got chills. He had been one of THEM, Securitate, the secret police. They were feared once, but now some people sought out anyone who spied for them to take out their revenge.

Ana wiped her eyes, but a few tears still made it down her cheeks. They fell onto the ground before she could speak. “They beat him up really bad. We hid here, but he died.”

“Where’s your mother?”

“She’s dead too.” She wiped her eyes then lowered the gun all the way.

I hesitated to ask how afraid of the answer. Everyone knew sadness here.

“Am I a bad person like my father?” Ana asked.

“No, you’re not. Don’t ever think that.” But what I planned to do made me a bad person.

Ana dropped the gun and before I could change my mind, she was at my side.

When we reached the town, I led her to the police station. We passed a church with a tall bell tower that loomed over the town. Four gargoyles sat on top of it and stared out in every direction. It looked like they could jump down at any minute and reign terror on the town. They sent chills through me. When the church bell clanged, both of us let out a scream and hurried inside the station, a policewoman sat Ana down and stared at me, I motioned toward the bathroom but walked straight out the door. I stopped outside and looked back, Ana looked in my direction, I saw the tears on her cheek glistening under the bright lights. I froze, then took a deep breath and walked toward the woods.

Part of me wanted to help her, I did, but I couldn’t. In the woods, I couldn’t sleep, everything seemed too quiet like nature was mad at me. I was mad at me.

I wanted to forget, I really did, but every time I looked at my hand, I saw a tiny hand letting go of it. No therapy or medicine will erase the memory or ease the pain. I once held an ax above my hand ready to cut it off, but I couldn’t even do it. I wanted to disappear and never see a child and to never feel that pain again. Ana changed all that. She made me feel things that I avoided. My heart could be broken, that was a pain I never wanted to feel again, but I worried about what would happen to her. She was all alone. I needed to get away, go deeper into the woods or even to the mountains and disappear forever or I would do something dangerous like going back for her.

A low bark broke the silence. I froze and watched as a red fox strolled by and fell over. I pulled my knife out, but it wasn’t here to attack. I looked closer and saw its leg was caught in some kind of trap. The rusty thing didn’t close all the way, but at any minute, it could slam shut and cut off the fox’s paw.

I slowly approached, it let me. With the back of my knife, I pried it open, and the fox sprung free. I watched with tears in my eyes. Shortly afterward, I saw two sets of small eyes join it in the distance. They faded into the darkness. How did it know to come to me for help? Somehow, I thought Violeta led it here. Big tears ran down my cheeks and I struggled to fall asleep, but I was unable to get rid of the image of Ana crying.




A week later, I looked at the walls inside Orphanage Number Three and was surprised by the lack of color. Inside, they led me to a room door where I could watch Ana from a window without interrupting the others. It was lunchtime. She sat alone and didn’t touch her food.

“Why is she alone?”

“She prefers it. We tried to help her.”

I heard smaller children in another room. I struggled to breathe and turned to leave.

“By the way, she wants to talk to you. She always asks for the tough woman who found her.”

Before I could run out, the door opened.

Ana reached out for me and I let her hug me.

“I’m ready.”

“For what?”

“To help find your daughter. The one that is missing.”

I stepped backward. “I.” I turned away. My mouth opened, but no words came out. Ana remained quiet waiting for an answer and I cleared my throat before telling the truth. “I know where she is, she’s buried in the cemetery.”

“What? Since when?”

“When she was small, I let go of her hand and she was hit by a car.” I hid my eyes with my trembling hands.

“You lied to get me here.” She stormed around the room. “I’m sorry about your daughter, but.” She stopped and banged on the door. “Let me out.”

“Ana, I’m sorry.”

The door opened and banged shut leaving me alone in the empty room.. My hand shook as the memories of Violeta came back.

I ran to the woods like I always did. It was always my escape. I couldn’t hurt anyone or be hurt there. Near my shelter, I saw a small body. One of the fox’s kits died. It was crazy to think the mother brought it here hoping I could save it. I couldn’t. Maybe I couldn’t save Violeta either, but there was still hope for Ana.

I returned to the orphanage and the same worker let me in. In the small room, I told Ana to get her stuff. I was ready to fight anyone who tried to stop me. She came out with just one small bag and a smile. I held out my knife as we walked right out the door. Nobody tried to stop us. They didn’t dare.  In normal times this wouldn’t have worked, but these weren’t normal times. In fact, everything was wild.

When we walked away, I looked down and saw that Ana grasped my hand. I made sure I wouldn’t let it go.



About the Author:

William Falo lives in the USA . He studied wildlife in college and was a volunteer fireman. His work has appeared in Vamp Cat Magazine, Fictive Dream, Litro Magazine, Vaughan Street Doubles, and other literary journals. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He can be found on Twitter @williamfalo and on Instagram @writerwilliamfalo 

Tender Places by Helen Anderson

Loving cup
Loving Cup by Amy McCartney, 2019

She possesses no vocabulary for this pain she feels.

It’s “not an ache”, “not a throb” – “more of a strain”, she feels.


“Certainly not psychosomatic.” She rubs at imperceptible

ulcers on her shin, like a baked-on stain. It feels


like she’s losing whatever “it” might have been.

Yet taking tablets goes against her grain. She feels


things were best when things were left unsaid –

lips stiff and chins up. No bones about the disdain she feels


for this limp modern language of disease. No sense –

no relief for you, daughter – in urging her to explain how she feels.



About the Author:

Helen Victoria Anderson lives near Redcar and has an MA in Creative Writing from Teesside University. Her chapbook ‘Way Out’ is published by Black Light Engine Room Press and she is the author of ‘Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir’. Winner of the InkTears Flash Fiction Contest 2015 and the People Not Borders Short Story Competition 2017, Helen is a bereaved parent, a widow, and a firm believer in the therapeutic power of words.

Explosion by Frances Holland

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Masked by Ida Saudkova, year unknown


Death came for us two years in a row at Christmas. The first time it happened, I made myself laugh in assembly the day after, while we were practising ‘Away in a Manger’. Mrs Smith thought I must be very sad about my grandmother dying, and that I was having “an hysterical reaction”. I wasn’t: I was imagining Father Christmas dressed as the Grim Reaper, pulling a sleigh of skeleton reindeer. I told my friend David at break-time, and got a hug for my troubles.

The next year was the Explosion. My mother was screaming, the kind of scream that will eventually cause you to vomit up your own lungs if you’re not careful. Her cousin had been killed in an explosion at the shipyard, leaving behind a wife and four children. The youngest was my age. I tried to imagine my father, his face blown off, white skull fragments and red blood and then I blurted out that I was going to walk my friend home.

My mother was still screaming when Libby and I made our escape into the freezing night. I tried to explain to her who the cousin had been, but Libby couldn’t keep our family ties straight in her head. How do some people only have two cousins? How do they respond when it’s their name called out and not everybody else’s first? Libby had told me that “all your expression is in your eyes” the summer before, and I tried to remember to be cool.

Libby was so cool. It wasn’t cool to worry about all those cousins I hardly even knew. I tossed my head, let my hair fall over my eyes, my beautiful, expressive eyes, like she’d said, pretended it was the frost stinging them. No, I’m not crying.



About the Author:

Frances Mulholland is a multitalented writer, poet, actress and teacher. She has been writing ever since she was five years old, when she realised that putting an amusing caption on a drawing of her dad could get cheap laughs. Her inspirations include folklore and mythology, as well as the everyday lives of the people around her. She lives in Northumberland.

All Ends by Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

Amy McCartney- Reflection
Reflection by Amy McCartney, 2019

Severe pain in his leg woke Claude Beauchêne. Most of his nights were sleepless and when he found a few hours of sleep he dreamt of entrenchments, foxholes, gun emplacements, and underground bunkers. In his nightmares, he heard the cries of wounded soldiers, the noise of the weapons, the impacts of the firing of projectiles by the opposing troops.

He had been wounded in Bir Hakeim, an oasis in the Libyan desert, during the Battle of Gazala. When the weather was about to change, his leg injury reminded him of the last battle under Lieutenant Colonel Prince Dimitri Amilakhvari. He had, and still, adored this man of Russian-Georgian origin, this iconic figure of the Legion.

The night was over, the morning penetrated through the half-closed blind.

He looked over to his cupboard, on which was displayed his Képi blanc, the white cap, the cap of the members of the Foreign Legion.

His small apartment in a three-story house, built before the first world war, was very modest, with Spartan amenities, and resembled more the room he had lived in as a legionary. There was a cupboard, a bed, a chair, a table and a sideboard with a few utensils hanging from the wall.

Behind the door hung his old uniform jacket with the medals and decorations of various battles and military operations, and his belt with the combat knife.

He was not accustomed to a different environment, to a cosy house, wife, children, garden, flower pots, dog, all the paraphernalia of bourgeois life. He would not have found such a life comfortable or desirable. All his life consisted of barracks, army drills, shooting, barking orders, the burning sun, his comrades.

The Legion was his family. Legio Patria Nostra, The Legion is our Fatherland, the motto of the Légion étrangère, which was tattooed on his right forearm. He never had married. From time to time he visited Justine, a woman from La Réunion. A woman with brown skin, long black hair, and a Rubenesque figure.

He limped to the small pantry to pull out a tin of coffee and put the kettle on a small table cooker on the sideboard. His lifestyle was simple, monotonous, but he felt happy and content. Until recently, when the German army invaded France and established its headquarters in his town, Angers, southwest of Paris. They did the same in many towns in Vichy France, the occupied area.

He poured the hot water over the coffee powder, added two lumps of sugar, opened the blind and looked out of the window, over to the castle on the opposite side of the river Maine. This old castle with its round proud towers symbolised power and resistance and was housing the “Apocalypse Tapestry”. Claude thought with a bitter smile that apocalypse had reached their town, their lives.

There was a damp spot in the corner of the room, the roof had been leaking for months. The few roofers of the town had died in the war or had been deported.

He remembered the observation he made yesterday.

He had forgotten it after his walk through the town after he had lunch in a small bistro in Rue Chaperonnière near the Saint Maurice Cathedral, where he met casually (or better to say conspiratorially) with his friends and former comrades. They had formed a secret group of the Résistance. Claude hated the Germans, he fought for France, for the independence of his country from foreign powers.

He was happy, and proud, that he had killed a few Germans in the battle of Gazala, members of the troops led by Field Marshal Rommel. He was proud of it and it did him good when the memories came back. It even relieved the pain in his leg.

He remembered, when he had walked up a side street, had rested for a moment to give his leg time to cope with the uphill walk, that he saw from the corner of his eye, a pale face at a window in the second floor of a building, which had a crêperie in the ground floor. The appearance resembled more a ghost than a human being. The pale face moved back when Claude stopped and looked up to the window.

He knew the owner of the shop, where he frequently bought croissants au chocolat. The owner sympathized with the Résistance, was not an active member but a source of information which was exchanged when he collected his croissants and no eavesdropper was near to listen to their short, whispered conversation.

Since the Germans invaded, soldiers, officers and officials were seen everywhere. A paralysing tension was present in the town. The Gestapo raided houses during the night; people, especially Jews, were rounded up. The previous week eight hundred and fifty-three Jews from Angers were sent to Auschwitz. Sixty Resistance fighters were shot in Belle-Beille outside Angers.

Distrust, fear, anxiety, a suffocating feeling lay like lead on Angers. Claude preferred to stay at home, and to keep a low profile, and to restrict his walks outside the curfews to a minimum.

He knew that the second floor of the building with the crêperie, which was used as a store, was damaged by rainwater and had been repaired and refurbished in a makeshift manner and had been vacant since.

The following day, when he collected his croissants and a baguette, he asked the crêperie owner, Monsieur Brouillard, a small thick man with a knobbly nose: “I saw somebody at the window of the former storerooms”.

Claude did not expect a direct answer. Especially at those times, lips were tightly sealed. Brouillard said nothing, his face impassive. He just shrugged his shoulders.

When he left the crêperie, he lit a Gauloise, and walked slowly back to his abode humming the melody of the Le Boudin, the slow march of the Legion. At the corner of the street, he turned slightly and looked back. Again, a pale face was visible for seconds at the window over the crêperie.

The town looked neglected, abandoned, the occupation had disturbed habits, things people are accustomed to. The waste bins had not been emptied, crows pulled rubbish from the bins, a smell of decay crept down the pavements, the dry grass of the backyards was populated by stray cats, their owners dead or imprisoned.

A woman in a worn dress with woollen socks offered a few flowers, which looked as if somebody had lost them. He passed by a shop with newspapers on display. The newspapers had nothing to report, anyhow nothing which came near to the truth or was raising hope. Claude bought a pack of cigarettes and matches and passed the concierge without saying a word. Missed conversations wound along the walls of the staircase. He knew that she was an informer. One had to deal with her one day.

During another sleepless night, his thoughts circulated around his observation. He assumed that Brouillard was hiding somebody. For a hiding person to look out of the window and to attract attention was life-threatening for both the person who gave shelter and the person who was hiding in the building. Concentration camp and death was the consequence. He had to warn Brouillard if he had not already copped on himself after he intimated to him what he saw. There was the possibility that he was not the only person who might have noticed.

He did not leave the house the next day, as the town was full of military patrols. He could see it from his window. Houses were searched. People arrested. The French police supported the German officials. He saw with horror the black leather coats and black slouch hats of the Gestapo with their briefcases. The bureaucrats of death.

The following day had the silence of a graveyard. He bent out of the window. No squad vehicles, no soldiers. He finished his coffee and ate a biscuit, put on his clothes, went down the staircase, gave the concierge a wave of the hand when he passed by her room with the big glass window near the exit.

When he walked up the street, leading to the side street where the crêperie was and turned around the corner, he recoiled in horror.

In front of the crêperie stood the black limousine of the Gestapo and he saw at this moment that Brouillard was pushed into the car and behind him a small, pale, thin boy. He looked into the big black eyes of the boy, which were full of sadness and fear, and he saw Jacques Lafouge, the adjudant chef of the Gendarmerie Nationale.

He abhorred this servile monster, a willing servant of the German occupants. He turned back and shortly before he reached the house he lived in, he bumped into a member of the resistance, informed him in short words about the incidence and the man said to him: “You know what you have to do.”

He knew.

In the evening, shortly after sunset, when the concierge had finished her duty and he heard the radio from her apartment, he sneaked out of the door. One hour was left before curfew began. He knew the pub where Jacques Lafouge had his drink after work. He knew his routine. He was a stickler. A pernickety state servant.

He waited opposite in a porchway, hiding in the shadow of a pillar. He knew that Lafouge would take this way to return home. A cat rushed by. He had not long to wait. Lafouge staggered out of the pub, crossed the road and entered the passageway and passed Claude Beauchêne, who stepped out of the shadow and followed Lafouge at a short distance.

Instinctively, and due to his police training Lafouge was aware that he was being followed, stopped, turned and in this moment, Claude stabbed the combat knife into his heart. He knew from his training between which ribs he had to thrust the knife.

Lafouge collapsed, and Beauchêne continued his way, made a detour and returned home.

Shortly before he reached the door of the house, he imagined seeing a white figure with a pale face waving from the other side of the road. The face dissolved in the mist of the falling night.

Police sirens could be heard in the distance. Claude Beauchêne flung his knife into the river.

He felt good. Even the pain in the leg had gone.


About the Author:

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is a translator and writer of poetry, haibun, haiku and short stories. He writes haibun, tanka, haiku and poetry in four languages: English, French, Spanish and German and holds workshops on Japanese and Chinese style poetry and prose.Member of four writer groups in Ireland and lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. Published in 72 anthologies, literary journals and broadsheets in UK, Ireland, Canada and USA.


Three Poems by Peg Robarchek

Shadows by Ida Saudkova, models the Saudek brothers


Rental Property

I want to paint that wall purple,

watch how the sun

changes it throughout the day

here in this ragged light.


Learn whether it leaves the room

melancholy in late afternoon,

wakes it to tenderness

in a pink dawn.


See if the dark color

hides cracks

that do not even belong

to me.


Eavesdropping on 10-B

Their voices

leak through the plaster,

too soft to decipher, sibilants

melting into vowels, muffled strands

of an old song, the cadence of a rising moan.


Sometimes the old crow

beats its wings

into emeralds,

hammers its beak

into a flute,

ceases to caw,

trills, and we believe

our throats

are rubies.


About the Author:

Peg Robarchek is a novelist, journalist, podcaster and poet living in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Naugatuck River Review, Rust + Moth, Prime Number and Iodine. 

Introducing India Hibbs

If you read our pages regularly, you are familiar with India’s artwork. India Hibbs is a talented young artist. In her final year of a Fine Art degree at Newcastle University, United Kingdom, she focuses on art practice based on narratives created in paintings. She has exhibited her work at shows such as Saga at Tyneside Cinema School (2017), MASH at Hoochie Coochie (2018) and Bloc at Systems Galley (2018). She likes getting involved in publications that combine image and written word.  Most recently, she was one of the illustrators of the Bridges Anthology, published by Bandit Fiction in February this year.

Our today’s prompt, your launchpad for creative work is HIDING.





From left to right, top to bottom: Cockshell; A Collage;Garden Witch; Inner Spaces; Speak Easy; Dishwasher; The Gardener; 

No, I Don’t Want to Remember by Joy Manné

Free to Fly by Victoria Holt, 2016


No, I don’t want to remember that last walk in the forest near the village where you were born. You so wanted to take me to that tree again, where you and your little brother played, that tree with the low branch that overhangs the stream, that low branch your legs were too short to sit astride—then.

I don’t want to remember our first walk into those woodlands. You helped me up into the tree and we sat on that branch, you behind me, your legs now long enough to straddle the smooth branch, and mine long enough too. We sat, me leaning against you, leaning against you, while you told me how you used to sit there with your little brother and how much you loved him, your little brother who died so young. Below us, the stream chuckled and chortled over stones, and dragonflies hunted—and we were hypnotised into what we believed was love.

‘Let me take you to my sacred tree again,’ you said, all those years later, ‘where I played as a boy with my brother, where we fell in love.

‘Remember,’ you said—

No, I don’t want to remember how you said it, as if you loved me, as if you wanted to go back to when we were young—


No, I don’t want to remember.

‘Remember,’ you said, your voice now rough and the branch we sat astride slippery in the spray, and below us the stream was in full flood and had become a torrent because there had been storms as never before.


I did remember. I couldn’t help myself. It was all so banal, the beginning when, as if hypnotised, we believed we were in love and made love, and married and made children, got them schooled, into jobs, and had no time for each other.

So banal, the slow dehypnotization: the descent of love, the ascent of endurance.

‘Remember,’ you said

No, I don’t want to remember how the children left home, and we had time, we had time—we had to fill time.

When people have to fill time, they go to the pub, garden, or draw, take courses, walk in the country, travel—Oh, I don’t want to remember how much time we didn’t know how to fill, and how you filled yours by looking into my drawers when I was out, reading my diary, discovered my bunnies and my vibrator. And I filled mine, that time you left your phone behind and I discovered that the number you most regularly phoned was the brothel, and I went wild and phoned my sister and shouted, and she said, ‘In a small village, everyone knows who goes to the brothel and when.’ My sister knew because she was friends with Emily, the sex-worker.

I didn’t ask my sister when Emily told her.

Why didn’t my own sister tell me, her own sister?

Why didn’t my own sister tell me?

She told me why.

I don’t want to remember her answer. So banal.


Remember,’ you said, all those years later, ‘Let me take you to my sacred tree again where I played as a boy with my brother,’ and we went, you and I, unspoken our wish to be hypnotised there once again into at least what we believed was love.

And as we walked through the forest, I remembered how we’d sat in that tree—then, straddling the smooth branch, my legs over yours, kissing and agreeing to marriage. Of course, I remember.

But this time you let me find my own way onto that branch and the hypnotism did not happen again. I tried, my back against your chest, leaning against you, once depending on your strength—now feeling nothing, unwilling to remember what I once felt.

No, I don’t want to remember how I moved away, further down the branch. I moved away and, now sitting side-ways on the branch, now once again with legs on each side of the trunk, I turned to face you.

We sat, a foot or two apart, not touching, not talking, all forest sounds drowned in the thundering of the stream turned to torrent.

Then, almost smiling, and as if about to perform a prank, you slid around the slippery branch, as if you intended to hang onto it, upside down, your feet entwined so as not to fall. As if to entertain me you slid, in such slow motion, slid around the slippery branch, your eyes latched onto mine, breathing out and saying, ‘My brother died here. I pushed him.’

And then you were upside down.

And then you untwined your feet.

what I felt as you did that, as if it were both happening and not happening at the same time. You slid the way a redwood falls in a forest, in slow motion. You slid, released the branch, let yourself drop into the torrent. You untwined your feet and got carried away to the sea.

No I don’t want to remember how I sat, fossilised, astride the tree trunk, just sat there through the late afternoon, through the moonless night, through till dawn, through until midday when a pair of teenagers—so like us when we first met, another you-and-me—when those teenagers found me and helped me down and as if hypnotised I let them, and let them lead me to their car and drive me to a police station, and then the police drove me to this hospital, but I never ever spoke or told what happened.


About the Author:

Joy Manné’s work appears online and in print i.a. in The Write Launch, TheDiagram, Chicago Literati, the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2019, Offshoots. She won the Geneva Writers Group prize for Non-Fiction in 2017 and was one of three finalists in the Arkansas International 2017 Emerging Writer’s Prize in Fiction. She lives in Switzerland and on Tenerife.

Nursing Home by John Grey


Bridging hands
Bridging Hands by Amy McCartney, 2019

Bodily and spiritually

he has sustained

for over

ninety years

his separation

from the chair

he sits in

the bed he lies on

the nurse who pats his head

changes his sheets –

he has maintained

his independent being –

it’s his to keep

even though it’s no longer needed.




About the Author:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in

That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work

upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and failbetter.

The Eye and the Needle by Malini Chaudhri

A New and Accurate Map by Stela Brix, 2018

Was this the place which witnessed Abel bleed that was recorded for eons on earth and Jesus was needed to incarnate with the vibration of love? Not vampires, or sorcerers could equal the torture on this disembodied soul. It seemed we were in such a place. Yet we were located in ignorance in the earth, following the skies and tempests as the great light arrived. And the news was to erase the troubles of humanity in unceasing toil. The horizons were to change like the spectrums of the rainbow to enhance the environmental health of the globe. The human brain was to adapt to stringent controls of a new age. If mystics and teachers as Christ had failed, science had succeeded.  Mind matrix technologies involving great genius of war intelligence supported the process. Even God had become a lesser instrument of fate in times of cyber modernization.

Rigorous scientific experiments of the past measured success for the laser to now direct the rocket. Focused beams of invisible infrared spectrum that segmented the earth, illuminated images on the moon, altered synapses, mobilized tissues and organized layers of the earth’s ether. Speckled geo-mapping of polarized beams created no illusion. The invisible strata of light were active. I mapped a pin which showed the first NASA laser physiotherapy unit mounted on the satellite. The hard pricks of electromagnetic radar were to give way to quantum sciences in therapy that we preferred. But this technique was invisible as was the higher layer of the bio magnetic spectrum of the rainbow that could be tolerated by human tissue.

Four years ago there was a vague haze of news of real people and notes shared on Klout which warned readers of lasers being pointed on the eyes of pilots, blinding them. Some in my family urgently resorted to eye surgery for the onset of blindness… both eyes. It was the same with someone important at work. Cause of blindness was unknown.

This vital record of silent weapons associated with NASA began flashing to me in my emails…. pin drums…. with statistics of views of laser physio images…. and also meridian sheets. The age of bloody war was over. Weapons were altogether more sophisticated, mocking the era of science and achievement. Now the radar on the ground collected to become an electromagnetic pulse, simulated by infrared, invisible laser radar that could prick acupuncture points when the victim was unaware. Over the weeks some undetected activity had progressed to pump intrusive radiation into the meridians and alter the neurological balance. My feet and ankles showed slow burns, dull brown spots on spleen 6 and kidney 4 points. These points triggered the DNA of the constitution. So the laser beam in incognito mode was arranged for physical therapy from mapped notes in my listed book. To endure and follow the Mysteries was my Key* in control to combat the unseen enemy.

My network arranged conspicuous pictures of eyes as the crisis began reaching a melting point. I noted the warning three hours before it happened. Eyes and flashes and repeat image postings on my social media precipitated concern. We were four years into the progression of time since the episodes of blinding eyes with lasers. Scientists had reversed technology adequately for the alarm to subside. But not completely.  Some subtle system remained. The war had returned. My bathroom light began blinking ferociously as another network started raising a threat alert.

Moses managed commandments and followed the guiding voice of Christ to emerge victorious from the pursuit of the Pharisees. Much mystical application was required to complete the project. Christ, the saviour, evenly combated the crowds but could not alter the human condition with messages and examples of love. The ages before Christ caused man’s spirit to bleed. The ages after Christ remained the same.

So it was not a surprise when out of the dark the attack came. When the light came on I witnessed the big black eye, a dark bruise swollen with fluids measuring one inch below the right eye. And the radiation spread to the left eye causing watering and discomfort. The feet were feeble with radiation bouts that numbed sensation. The radiation kept spreading though the face and into the frontal brain. This was new weaponry. The single shot could trigger a lifetime of unseen control to alter human tissue and functionality forever.  Over the weeks the eyes became swollen and puffy, the facial contours changed.

There is a Key to the Mysteries. This silent enemy was reigniting the cries of Abel. My hard working book on laser therapy contained the sciences for health which was evidently became an issue, a system of weapons. Around the world for years, I trailed this wonderful therapy in CAM, obtaining medical licenses for all its natural applications.  I introduced it in veterinary and medical hospitals to practitioner teams who devoured the grace. Alchemists connecting to mysteries arranged a new order for life, drawing and mobilizing the essence of god in man, tapping that solitary system that permitted perception of the physical realm. Scientists see and then believe. Mystics believe and then see. Scientists are challenged by the mystics, and the enemy makes use of the Key. Sciences maintain Commandments. The enemy crushes the Truth. God proposes. Man disposes.

The Eye and the Needle.  The single eye maintains the body in light. The light ceases to diverge and becomes a needle.  A laser needle. My documents and commandments in print on Amazon of this unique therapy was an act of love for all to prepare for this time. My pages were being sliced by a sword of enemy trail. Robbed by thieves with lesser intelligence and no Key to the Mystery.


Twenty years of hard scholarship of Acupuncture science from traditional and medical schools around the world faded away for a new world science of laser needling of medical category where several beams could simultaneously be applied on a patient. And today this faded away further for consideration of quantum applications. Needles could be directed on masses of humans in a simultaneous moment for their welfare or their destruction.


I returned to my handheld laser and laser acupuncture device at home for self-aided therapy. The point that had been attacked could be irradiated to control the electromagnetic pulse which defied healthy tissues. The great light had arrived but I was marked a victim, yet I refused to resign my science and my Key for the lesser work. The world showed surrender of faith and humane livelihood, of governments and courts. Yet the search was on, in dreams, in fantastic notions, of a dawn to come, in darkness or in light.



*The key to the Mysteries.  Eliphas Levi. Internet Archives.

About the Author:

Malini Chaudhri is the author of five non fiction books, mainly based on wellness.  She submits creative non fiction pieces to lit mags and collections in books. Her stories have been nominated for awards.  She has been Academy manager of a British qualification in India, and has worked in South China Normal University as a foreign expert, in a Harvard affiliated English project. She has lived in India, China and USA.