Crescent Cross

Crescent Cross
by Robert Luke Wilkins

Walter awoke to the sound of his wife Jessica throwing up in the adjacent bathroom. It happened every morning, a gift of her relentless morning sickness.

He stood, walked to the balcony door, and looked out. The view was spectacular. Their home was nestled against the side of a mountain, and the balcony faced southwest, perfect for sunsets, and the sun wouldn’t blind you awake in the morning. You could leave the curtains and doors open on hot summer nights, and Crescent Cross had plenty of those.

Walter loathed the view.

He heard something smash downstairs, followed by the keening wail of a child. That was Michael. Walter had heard about The Terrible Twos, of course, but had never considered just how terrible they’d be once Michael escaped his crib.

“I’ll deal with him,” he called to his wife. He heard her retch and throw up again. He sighed.

If only they’d known.

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Golden Arms

Golden Arms
by Joshua Mannix

Matthew concentrates as he rolls his new arms in front of his eyes. They’re still skin-colored, as he had requested, but with no marks, moles, scars, or hair, smooth as a baby’s skin. The bulk that his old arms had possessed, the bulk that only earned silver, is present but streamlined.

He flexes his artificial muscles, grips his fists together, and stretches his arms wide. He expects to hear gears turning beneath the skin, like in movies, but nothing makes a sound. The eeriest aspect of seeing the arms in front of him, attached to his shoulders with thin lines indicating where they had made the cut, is that he can’t feel them at all.

“That numbness will be around for a couple of weeks as the nerves connect to the circuits.” Dr. Harrison pokes Matthew’s hands with a needle. If he hadn’t watched the point press into the synthetic skin, he wouldn’t have known it was there. “Make sure you’re keeping an eye on where they go.”

“Yeah, of course.” The doctor chuckles to himself at his joke, but Matthew stares at the foreign limbs without cracking a smile. He sees his hands form a fist in front of him the second after he wills it, but doesn’t feel the tight clench of strength. “How long till I can get these babies working?”

“A few weeks at best, for basic control, but probably a month or two for more intricate use.” Dr. Harrison grabs a computer tablet from the end of the bed and pokes at the screen. “You’ll experience some pain while that happens, a sharp tingling that feels like you slept on it wrong, or itching along your arms that won’t go away.”

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Presenting …

The very first Acidic Fiction Anthology!

BookCoverImage

Acidic Fiction #1: Corrosive Chronicles is a collection of 14 stories originally published on the site in 2014. The anthology is available as a paperback (US $11.99) and Kindle eBook (US $3.99). Any purchase of the paperback from Amazon.com will include a free copy of the eBook. Here is some additional info:

Acidic Fiction #1: Corrosive Chronicles

ISBN: 978-0692403471
ASIN: B00V5C3L1W

Paperback on Amazon.com
eBook on Amazon.com

Furthermore, Acidic Fiction now has an official Patreon page! Any donation of $4 or more will earn readers a digital copy of the newest anthology in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle formats.

For future reference, links to anthologies and the Patreon page will be available on the “Support” page, which is now listed in the menu at the top of the site. Please check out the new anthology and continue to support Acidic Fiction by reading all the new stories every Monday and Friday!

Waiting for Dawn

Waiting for Dawn
by M. James Bizzell

He woke violently, gasping for air, emerging from the velvet dark in confusion. Static spots, the technicolored pixels so familiar from four-a.m. wakings, peeled away in animated clusters. Something tugged at his half-woken reality: a dream. He couldn’t remember the details. Something easy, something bad. The nightmares were becoming more present, or at least more lasting. It left him feeling off, settling in an odd position within him, taking up residence in the remote hours.

The effects of sleep apnea were jarring, especially on such quiet nights, from silence to panting terror, the greedy intake of air both confusing and euphoric. He heard nothing in the space beyond the walls of his huddled bedroom, not even the distant hum of overnight trucking. The episodes happened almost every night, every couple of hours. Wake up. Breathe. Wait for your heart to slow and your nerves to calm. Stop shaking. Go back to sleep. It was a constant and gripping fear, a suffocation in empty air—the demon on his chest while he slept.

He felt his wife lying next to him, her rhythmic breathing deep and full, completely undisturbed by his struggle. She had perhaps gotten used to it, but was a deep sleeper in any case. They had made love tonight after she had returned home from a lengthy business trip. It was something they had needed or wanted, probably both. A reward for taking care of the girls while she was away. Parenting had perks.

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Aberration

Aberration
by Jeremy Essex

Michaels saw the dark shape down on the railway line while he was making the morning drinks.

He put down the tray of empty cups, whistling to himself as he dished out tea bags and measured spoonfuls of sugar. The common room was deserted, as it normally was at half past ten, his usual time for making the drinks. He yawned as he poured milk into the mugs then wandered over to the first floor window, hands in pockets, looking down at the dingy scene below him.

The car park was full to bursting, as usual. The twin railway lines emerged from the dark tunnel underneath the main road, snaking behind the car park and cutting like lines of black rot through the miles of green undergrowth along the outskirts of Ipswich. Watching the trains go by and identifying the different containers on the cargo carriers was one of the chief forms of entertainment within the office.

Michaels sighed heavily. He badly wanted a cigarette, but since Penny had left him, he had stopped smoking and he was determined not to let his will crumble now. At the edge of his vision, the large, dark shape of a train rushed swiftly towards him. As steam rose from the kettle’s spout, Michaels turned his head and saw both railway lines were deserted.

“Are you alright, Brian love?”

Theresa peered at him from behind her glasses as he walked back into the hum of the office, easily balancing the tray on his muscular arm. Michaels was 6ʹ2ʺ and very well built, and he liked for people, especially some of the girls in the office, to see how strong he was.

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Ms. Vickershelley

Ms. Vickershelley
by Leon Saul

Whirling out of a gauze-gray sky, snow sank into Ronny’s tousled hair. He ran ahead of his older brother John, leaping over a banked, glinting mound on the side of the road. He clutched a dense snowball and launched it at his brother. The frosty fist punched John in the left eye, dusting his eyelashes.

Laughing, Ronny bent over to pick up another snowball, which glanced off John’s right arm, exploding in a shower of white. John muttered a curse, brushed the snow away, and sighed. He watched his brother run farther up the street and followed at his own casual pace, hands stuffed dejectedly into the pockets of his fleece jacket.

Four more days, he thought. Great.

He knew it had been dumb to assume Phil and Marshall would be around during winter break. He could have called from Arizona before flying out to Illinois, or emailed, or hell, checked Facebook, but he’d naively assumed they’d be there and that for one week, they could hang out together again like old times.

But Phil was in France, and Marshall, according to his neighbor Mrs. Piffkin, was in Chicago for his uncle’s funeral. Which left John back in Urbana alone, for five whole days of winter vacation, with no one but his annoying-ass brother Ronny to keep him company.

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The Wee Man

The Wee Man
by D. A. Watson

“Keep going, Daddy,” the wee man says, looking up at me from his bed, all soft hair, pale skin and big shining eyes. I squirm in the chair by his bedside, a chill prickling the skin of my back, an icy lump in my throat. I want to tell him “No, that’s enough for tonight,” but it’s impossible to deny him anything.

I reluctantly lower my eyes to the page of his latest storybook. Oversized text. Vividly drawn. Lurid colors. Terrifying illustrations. The cover like cold dead skin on my fingertips. The books began arriving in the mail last week, every day, addressed to the wee man. No return address. No publisher details. All with the same title: Children’s Stories.

Dread squeezing the marrow in my bones, I keep reading.

“The boy-prince shivered, listening to the sounds coming from under his bed: the slithering, the thick, gurgling chuckle, the tap-tap-tapping of claws on the floor. He wanted to cry, but knew he had to be brave. No one believed him about the monster, not his father the King, not Gidaneon the wizard, not gallant Sir Radstrong, the captain of the guard.

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Dr. Optera’s Intelligent Bugs

Dr. Optera’s Intelligent Bugs
by Wendy Nikel

Dr. Cole Optera leaned in toward the tiny six-legged creature. Its unblinking eyes stared back at him.

“Come on,” he whispered. “Say something.”

The creature sat silently. Its leg twitched. Not precisely the sign of intelligence he’d been hoping for, not after all his time and effort. Not after all the ridicule.

Optera sighed and set the beetle back in its enclosure. There was still something wrong with his methods, some factor he wasn’t considering. He rubbed his head and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to concentrate. When he opened them, he caught sight of the digital clock, its bright red numbers chastising him for being up so late, for skipping dinner (again), and for drinking too much coffee past sundown.

Resignedly, Optera stumbled to the hotel-room bed and threw himself upon it, still fully clothed in the slacks and button-down shirt that he’d donned for his conference presentation so many hours before. He flicked off the light on the beetle, still sitting perfectly still in its enclosure.

Continue reading Dr. Optera’s Intelligent Bugs