Amanda Pell and the Post-Post Apocalypse

by Andrew Gifford The post-apocalyptic genre is all the rage now in the literary world. I can’t even keep up with the new titles that come out. That wasn’t always the case, though. When I was young, to fulfill my post-apocalyptic cravings, I had to comb through the bookshelves. When the internet came along, I’d end up special-ordering books from various sources in those days before Amazon took over the literary world. Mainstream apocalypse fiction was always available, of course. I read whatever I could get my hands on, but the good stories were few and far between. You’d talk about them with fellow aficionados as if they were rare birds—oh, yes, I’ve read the extended version of The Stand! (Nowadays, everyone has.) Each time I read one of these rare birds, I’d seek out the work that inspired the author and fall down strange rabbit holes researching the occult, the world of conspiracy theorists, and other fringe nonsense–something that’s hard to describe to the Wikipedia generation. A Wiki rabbit hole today is far different from when you had to follow your initiative through text-based bulletin boards on a 2400 baud modem. Some authors were kind enough to name-check their sources. For example, David Brin’s The Postman featured tantalizing quotes from Roberto Vacca’s The Coming Dark Age at the head of each chapter. These days, you can find The Coming Dark Age kicking around on Amazon and everywhere else but, in the 90s, I had to resort to contacting Vacca himself in Italy and ordering a copy. The Coming Dark Age isn’t fiction—it’s a hare-brained paranoid rant about how...

We Were Children Then by SK Kalsi

Back then I was the only drummer in a town called Drums. Flouting small town conventions proved difficult enough if you were born in a place with the population of most inner city high schools. But we were new to Drums, my father and Sonny and I, new to a town cuddled beneath perpetually clouded skies, but also new to grief. The brown boxes stacked in the driveway of the twin-pillared colonial were still sealed with packing tape while I crouched in the basement, looking for ways to escape the prison of family, house, home.   We lived in Phoenixville before moving to Drums. I was eleven going on twelve and Sonny was fourteen. Mom worked as a commercial cleaning lady and Dad worked as a service technician for an appliance store. Hard work, we were assured, would pay dividends, because we were told fortune was directly related to persistence. That was one of two faiths that sustained us, persistence, the other being devotion to family; both were like a dim wash of noise in the background. Upward mobility meant being afflicted with retinitis, tunneling one’s vision. Looking forward, despite the fog of uncertainty, was the immigrant’s creed. Though I could not articulate it then, what I most wanted was to operate at the edges of those beliefs. Maybe what still hurts after twenty plus years is that for a while I did. Sonny often said he was going to be a movie star someday and I might have snickered. Practicality in our household trumped vision. We were expected to study our math and science, study to reach the...

Waypoint by Frank Scozzari

Their mistake was obvious, Jagger knew. They had pushed too hard and too far for a mountaintop that was unreachable. They had committed the most deadly of mountaineering sins, feeling invincible in the face of nature’s fury. And now, like a thousand climbers before them, they were going to pay the price. “If we can follow our tracks back down to the ridge,” he said, “we can make it back down to Trail Crest.” Rick, who sat opposite on the wooden bench, nodded his head, but his blank stare told that he knew different. In the minutes before reaching the summit hut the snow had been coming at them sideways. Still now they could hear it piling on outside. “Why leave at all?” he asked. “I mean… maybe our chances are better staying? We stay warm, we stay alive, and we wait for the storm to blow over.” “And if the storm doesn’t blow over?” Jagger said. “…if it goes on for a week or two?” “Or three days for that matter,” Rick replied. There was silence again, except for the sound of the wind howling outside. Jagger looked up and listened. He could hear the wind whispering through the ceiling cracks, like the sirens that had called them to the summit. How was it that two experienced climbers could have gotten themselves into such a mess? he thought. It was the Sierras. That’s how. The storms always come from the West, from the Pacific, deceivingly, unexpectedly, from where you can’t see them until they’re on you. And then you’re caught in it and there’s nothing you can do...

Artificial Selection by RS Paulette

He crumpled like an empty soda can into the seat marked ‘exit,’ with the Pacific Ocean stretched out far below the window as a bruised, black desert. He had only half paid attention to the safety notices on the instruction card jutting from the seat pocket in front of him. He figured that if anyone on this plane was depending on him to perform in a crisis, they were risking their lives for a non-starter. In the empty seat next to him, he saw his father—a thin wisp of a man in Air Force dress blues. After thinking about it for a second, he knew that his father couldn’t wear his uniform on an international flight, since Dad always explained this fact every time they caught Delta Force on cable… “Graham, my boy…” Dad leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees. “Nelsons have always been fighters. Warrior-types. Look at me, at Pappy, your uncle Doug.” Graham stared out the window, refusing to look at his father. When he closed his eyes, he saw the famous, celebrated photograph of his grandfather on the beaches of Inchon, his helmet looking askew and two sizes too big. He clutched a thick, powerful rifle, and the camera had caught him mid-stride, laterally crossing a dirt street with his head ducked low behind the points of his raised shoulders. “This is about tradition, son! About being bigger than yourself and your little problems, boy, and doing something with your life for once!” When the plane hit some unexpected turbulence, Graham saw, reflected in the window, his father’s hand shoot out...

Rejected Theme Park Rides by Paul Lander

Splash Mountain of Debt The Tunnel of Courtney Love Thunder Thigh Mountain Ferris Wheel of Fortune The Tower of Terriers Mr. T Cups Haunted Meth House It’s a Small Third World After All Slip and Slide Into A Coma Re-marry Go Round Bump a Cop...