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What the Mirrors Keep

What the Mirrors Keep
by Erin Cole

It all started on the night of the housewarming pocket option dinner, when my best friend Ted and his wife Sarah had come over for dinner to see our new house. It was the cusp of normal times , when relationships were healthy and friendships were strong, but something dark had pervaded Ted’s thoughts that night, and it muted him for most of the evening.

He drew me outside to the deck for a drink, likely intending to tell me about it.

“House looks great,” he said. “Classic, although I pegged you as being more modern.” I had never known Ted to care about home décor.

“What’s up with you?” I said. “You’ve barely spoken a word tonight.”

Ted clinked the ice in his drink and spoke pocket corretora in a deep, husky voice. His serious voice.

“Tell me, Paul, are you happy? I mean, really happy?”

Ted had always been at odds with Janelle. She was different from other woman: quiet, graceful, keenly ambitious, didn’t like the word no. Ted had confronted me once, saying that love didn’t pull you away from others; it was supposed to bring you closer to them. I’d always thought he was jealous, and it was never more obvious than that night.

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by Robert Stahl

Nobody paid attention to the old black man as he hobbled through town that morning, not the kids on school buses, not the commuters driving to work, not even the mailwoman as she made her rounds. The old man didn’t care; he liked it that way. He walked slowly, his rheumy eyes corretora pocket option scanning the ground for potholes, the tip of his cane pole bobbing behind him.

When he made it to the city park, he looked out across the pond and smiled. It shone like the sun in the morning light, reflecting an inverted image of the landscape that shimmered in the breeze. He hoped lots of fish were swimming beneath its surface, unlike the spot he’d visited yesterday. One thing was for sure, you couldn’t tell by looking. Surfaces were deceiving; you never knew what lay hidden on the other side.

He dropped his equipment—a small cooler and a tackle box—on the shore near a clump of reeds and lifted his face to the sky. Fresh air, sunlight, a slight breeze out of the east. Not another soul in sight. Yes, today would be just fine for fishing.

Continue reading Surfaces

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is
by Michael B. Tager

Barry Saunders sat in his normal seat at the bar and drank watered-down diner coffee as he watched his new favorite waitress, Simone. He’d finished his regular Friday night meal of steak and potatoes (not as good as his mother used to make, but certainly a step up from his own cooking) and was waiting for eight o’clock so he could go home and watch one of those “lawyer shows,” as he called them. Barry knew they had specific names, but they all blended together.

There was the actor who used to be a movie star and now seemed to be slumming it. There was some tattooed and/or pierced person who used his or her brains in non-traditional ways to solve crimes. And there were many, many disproportionately attractive people who would never be cops or lawyers in real life. The shows were all the same and all kind of terrible, but that’s what Friday was for. In the meantime, he liked to stare at Simone.

She was young, just out of high school, and had soft brown curls and the cheerleader’s body he’d obsessed over when he was a youth himself. She wasn’t classically pretty, and he’d overheard some other customers making snide comments about her snub nose and teeth that badly needed braces. Whenever she passed him, however, Barry would try a feeble smile.

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by Brandon McNulty

Tim’s dad steered him to the safest part of the living room. He stood surrounded by bulletproof windows, flameproof furniture, rubber lamps, an imitation fireplace, and a flat screen TV bolted onto a plastic stand with cushioned edges. As soon as Tim’s butt hit the hardwood floor, his dad plopped down on their non-allergenic couch and grabbed the remote. Dad pointed it at Tim first, then the TV.

A nonviolent cartoon lit the screen. Pink birds chirped broken English and sang about brushing their teeth. Tim was too old for this. He leaned back and stretched until Dad warned him about lying beneath the ceiling fan—you never knew when all forty steel bolts could pop loose. Better safe than sawed up.

Dad smiled at Tim before burying his crooked nose and bloodshot eyes in a newspaper. Pages flipped, birds sang, the afternoon disappeared.

Continue reading Blur


by M. B. Vujacic

Don’t smoke while walking.

That’s what Irma’s mother had said whenever she saw Irma and her friends strolling around the neighborhood with cigarettes in their hands. Apparently, smoking while walking caused you to inhale more of the cancerous stuff than if you were sitting or lying down. And boy oh boy, did it piss Irma off every time she felt like lighting up while on the move.

Like now. It was nine in the evening and still 90 degrees with no wind. She was on her way home from work, every inch of her body clammy from standing all day in a clothing store—one that didn’t allow its employees to smoke, not even in the bathroom—and she couldn’t enjoy a goddamn cigarette without being haunted by some factoid her mother had read in a magazine 20 years ago.

“Christ,” she said, lighting the cigarette.

The first few drags tasted like heaven, but then she started getting an itch in her throat. Constantly talking to customers had left her throat feeling dry as emery.

Continue reading Faceless

Girl in Amber

Girl in Amber
by Melody Sage

Sparse houses that once belonged to farms lined the highway like knots on a rope indicating leagues at sea. Forests of thin white pines and silvery poplars engulfed the old fields. Wanderers had to be mindful of rusted barbwire hidden in the grass.

In the ditch, Amber and Billy picked fistfuls of weeds for their mothers: daisies, yarrow, and Queen Anne’s lace. Pale, frilly flowers that smelled medicinal.

They lived a mile apart and rode their bikes every afternoon to meet at the river. In actuality, it was a metal culvert with a trickling stream, but they called it a river. The water cascaded into the depths of a clear, glint-flecked, ale-colored pool. Like a diorama or a slide on a microscope, it was all the more captivating for its miniature scale, a kingdom of dappled light.

They had collected grayed wood and car parts to make a shelter. Inside, they kept supplies—bottles of iced tea and rain-swollen paperbacks. They harbored an elaborate fantasy, one they were almost too old for, that someday they would run away together and live there.

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The State of the Site

Now that Acidic Fiction has entered its second calendar year, I have begun the process of preparing the first Acidic Fiction anthology. My plan is to publish two anthologies a year containing the best stories published on the site in the previous six months. The Spring 2015 anthology will contain stories from July to December 2014, the Fall 2015 anthology will contain stories from January to June 2015, and so on. Any of the 32 stories that were published on the site last year will be eligible for inclusion in the first anthology.

The Spring 2015 anthology will be released simultaneously as a paperback and Amazon Kindle e-book. I am looking into other e-book formats and distribution channels, but I haven’t decided which ones I will use. I also haven’t decided which stories to select (or how many), but I imagine the anthology will contain about 13 stories. When I choose the stories, I will notify the authors of those stories via email with more information. After the authors are paid the flat anthology rate for their stories, the remaining proceeds from anthology sales will go toward maintaining the website and payments for future authors.

Since I’ve now said “anthology” nine times, I will address a couple of other things.

First, I have been receiving a consistent stream of good stories and I’ve been responding to each submission with as much feedback as I feel I can reasonably provide. I’m very pleased that the site has been able to draw in so many submissions. Second, I’ve finally caught up with the holiday backlog of magazine work (and my own work), so I can continue making progress on several different projects, including Acidic Fiction.

Finally, there is the matter of finances. When I started the magazine, I set aside a budget for one year of stories, including the additional cost of one anthology. This year, my goal is for the magazine to begin earning money with anthology sales, and if necessary, other sources of income like donations or advertisements. The next six months will essentially determine the short- and long-term future of the magazine. In the meantime, I am slowly but surely drawing in more readers and followers on social media.

I’m always available to answer reader questions, so feel free to contact me if you have any other concerns: Contact the Editor


by Voss Foster

Her house was nothing to be noticed by normal people. At most, someone might glance at it and wonder why someone had built down there, between the two hills. As they whipped along the highway in far too much of a hurry, they might even try to imagine what it looked like before time had worn it down to rough, splintered wood. Those imaginings weren’t grand and weren’t expected to be.

The house was a shack—in the most complimentary of lights—guarded by a pair of gnarled trees. It sat at the edge of a drainage field, or perhaps a bog, to the most optimistic viewers. Neither option was pleasant nor open to grandeur, but the trickle of those imaginings was enough to keep Sazir alive, if not happy. She hadn’t been happy for hundreds of years.

She moved as little as possible, conserving her energy, storing it in boxes and jars around the walls of the shack so she would have it for the occasional drought later on. She’d been around long enough to expect them and too close to dying to not prepare.

Continue reading Wonder

Unlocking Fantasy

Unlocking Fantasy
by A.F. Runyon

It looked like Phillip and it talked like Phillip. It made love and did the dishes just like Phillip. When it played with the kids, it laughed, joked, and reprimanded just like Phillip. After a time, I began to forget the funeral and that horrible night when I lost the real Phillip. He had been so young, and there was no way that any loving god would have cursed our family to be without him. That’s why we had enlisted in the program in the first place.

We had gone over our finances and taken out the necessary loan before going into the Yamashita Cybernetics Lab to get the small neural recorders placed in our frontal lobes. The recorder would act as a sponge of perceptions and reactions throughout our daily lives, and if one of us should ever die in some untimely manner, a full-scale replica could be made with the information uploaded into it. It just so happened that it was Phillip who went first.

It was a simple thing that took him. He was leaving the office for some coffee and a muffin, and then a perfectly ordinary young woman in a hurry to reach some appointment or other had smashed into him at 40 miles per hour, and then he was gone.

Continue reading Unlocking Fantasy

Cry to the Sirens

Cry to the Sirens
by Mira Domsky

I slam the back door of the club and lean against the brick wall. It’s rough and cold against the exposed skin of my back, and my toes ache inside my high heels. The alley behind the club is dark, with only one orange sodium light fixed to the wall above me.

I’m still furious with Lucas, the cheating bastard, and I need a cigarette. I’m fishing in my purse when I hear the sound, like someone chewing something juicy with their mouth open. I lick my lips and turn toward the sound.

The creature looks up at me with an almost human face. It’s smeared with gore, and its clawed hands scrabble at the bloody mess on the concrete. I catch my breath. It fixes wet black eyes on me, then begins to croon sweetly. Its hair smooths from a matted mane to glossy chestnut locks. Its cadaverous face freshens, plumps into that of a woman with smooth skin, high cheekbones, and large, wet, black eyes. It blinks long lashes at me coquettishly, but there is still blood dripping from its pouting lips.

Continue reading Cry to the Sirens

Contemporary Speculative Fiction Short Stories Every Monday and Friday