Low Prowls The Goblin King

Low Prowls The Goblin King
by David Barclay

The room is quiet and still, quiet and still save for The Goblin King, who stands high in the corner on the shelf, the one above the old chest which once upon a time held all of William’s worldly things, including The Goblin King himself. Now he stands high in the corner, high in the corner where the wood meets the wall and the shelf brace hangs crooked, the place where the carpenter’s nail is bent imperceptibly where it joins the wall and bends the shelf down at the end, ever so slightly.

In the doorway, Tucker Bill Atley stares across the musty threshold at The Goblin King, stares and stares and musters his courage to cross the room.

In two quick strides, he stumbles forward and throws open the drapes, letting the gray Pennsylvania sun into the tiny bedroom. Beside him, the covers lay undisturbed on the bed, the vanity sits closed and locked. All is as he and Alice left it when they closed the room and tucked the key into the nightstand next to their bed, when it had been their bed, in the time before.

Tucker knows all of William’s toys. He knows the He-Man dolls, the Power Rangers, the hobbits and the dwarves and the orcs. He knows they are sleeping now, piled in the chest in a mishmash of arms and legs and swords, just as he left them. William is gone now, but he left The Goblin King, his favorite, who now stands high in the corner.

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Yearning for Life

Yearning for Life
by Michael Shimek

The solar-powered plastic dancing flower was born on the grounds of a dirty and insufficiently vented factory in China, a cheap imitation of the more popular and better-known brand manufactured in a nearby country. Its mother, a young girl no older than 16, assembled the pieces with care, like she did with every product she worked on. She treated all of them as her precious babies.

For 4 renminbi an hour—a higher wage than most places around her village—Li Jing Ma was the mother to thousands.

Each flower took 23 minutes to produce. At the end of the assembly line, Li Jing’s job was to connect all the individual pieces to form the finalized toy. Her delicate hands, worn and withered enough to look four times their age, worked meticulously to complete the task.

The coil was glued to the bottom. She slipped the magnetic leaves and flower into their swinging slots on the top. A circuit chip no larger than her fingernail slid into a slot on the bottom, which was then attached to the solar panel above with some yellow wires. A blue pot that mimicked the sky (she wished she could have clothes as colorful) snapped the whole trinket into place.

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Gifted

Gifted
by Tom Jolly

Everybody thinks their own baby is special.

We noticed that Jimmy could shape things before he was one year old. Baby bottles would show his fingerprints, and I thought he was going to be a superman. Jennifer just thought he had a good grip.

A month later, some of the wooden bars on the side of the crib had been twisted into S shapes. Yeah, he’s gonna be a superhero, I thought. He’s powerful, he can change things.

“The humid weather just made the boards warp,” Jennifer said. She couldn’t believe it. But I knew Jimmy was the next step in evolution, the New Man.

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Anthology Announcement

I have officially purchased 14 short stories for the first Acidic Fiction anthology. These stories were chosen from the stories published on the site in 2014; stories published in 2015 will not be eligible until the next anthology. In addition to their quality and originality, these stories feature a wide variety of different genres, settings, characters, and voices. I feel that they provide a good representation of the first few months of the magazine.

The first anthology will be called Acidic Fiction #1: Corrosive Chronicles and will contain the following stories:

Lester and The Doctor
H. C. Duncan

Roll the Sky
Yegor Chekmarev

Better
Fredrick Obermeyer

Divine Organ
Madeline Popelka

Settled
Julio Toro San Martin

White-Out
Sean Moreland

Stowaway
P. R. O’Leary

Healer
Jean Davis

Plastic Teeth
A. P. Sessler

Hauntings
Charles Ebert

Clinical Trial
Daniel Devine

Her Father’s Eyes
Simon Kewin

Swamplands
Sierra July

The Deal
Aline Carriere

I haven’t chosen cover artwork yet, but I will begin laying out the interior and post another update in the next month. The anthology should be available as a paperback and Kindle eBook by the end of March.

Libra

Libra
by Eugenie Mora

“Today is the perfect day to go out. It says so right here.” Geneva waved the newspaper. “Success is in the air! Acknowledgment from those who matter—”

“You think Mercury gives a damn about my date?”

“Well, no.” Geneva scowled. “Not with that attitude. Come on, my brother’s been asking you out for an eternity.” Or more precisely, for the seven months since he had returned from New York, tail between his legs, his credentials as a hotshot Wall Street broker largely useless in sleepy Florine, Colorado.

A date would at least get him off the couch and out of the house. If Geneva had to come home to his moping, bloodshot eyes one more day, she was liable to do something she’d regret.

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Eater

Eater
by Sean Ealy

Paul hated the night shift. Other jurisdictions might see an elevation in crime after dark, but not in this backwood part of the county. Most of the stores locked up at five o’clock sharp, and even the two gas stations hung up their pumps and shut out the lights by eight. You might find the occasional weekend party up McGowan Creek, with teenagers getting drunk and making out in the backseat of Daddy’s car. But even that was rare anymore. These days they just did that at home.

He turned his cruiser onto County Road 13, headlights barely illuminating the crumbling pavement. Nothing but wheat fields on both sides of the blacktop, and darkness so thick it was like staring at the end of the world.

He used to get the creeps out here sometimes. When the sun went down, those fields seemed to change. All that wide open space stretching out for miles and miles, space you couldn’t see but could feel bearing down on you. You’d stand on the edge of the road and swear you could hear the wheat growing. Sometimes the rustling of grain heads in the wind sounded like voices whispering, conspiring like thieves, and you just knew they were talking about you.

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What the Mirrors Keep

What the Mirrors Keep
by Erin Cole

It all started on the night of the housewarming 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 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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Surfaces

Surfaces
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 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.

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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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