Table of Contents


Rebecca Huggins (featuring artwork by Arthur Rackham)
Shiny New Shoes
Escape to the Woods

David Perlmutter (featuring artwork by Georges Barbier)
A Little Egypt (Yin-Yang!)

V. Ulea (featuring artwork by Izya Sholsberg)
Death of a Star

Jeffrey J. Carey (featuring artwork by Jessie Wilcox Smith)
Ursa Minor

M.J. Nicholls (featuring artwork by N.C. Wyeth)
Cooperating with Ghosts   

 Laury A. Egan (featuring artwork by Vincent van Gogh)
The Stars of August

Jenny Moore (featuring artwork by Gustave Dor é)


Shona MacDonald

Shiny New Shoes

by Rebecca Huggins

Are you not ashamed of caring so much for the making of money and for fame and prestige, when you neither think nor care about wisdom and truth and the improvement of your soul?

--Socrates 470 BC-399 BC

When I was five years old, I asked Mama for a beautiful pair of zapatos. They were red and clicked when you walked in them. Mama hadn’t the heart to tell me no, and every day when we’d go into town, we’d stop at the little shop’s window and look in at those mesmerizing shoes. That was the first time I realized that we were poor. And when you realize something like that, other things you’d never noticed before begin to draw your attention as well. Like the clothes I wore with their many patches and familiar scents; the pair of shoes I donned every morning—the color nearly faded entirely—was, in fact, my only pair. And then you realize that you aren’t like the other children with their shiny new bicicletas and juegos. And you begin to see yourself on the other side of the glass, like it’s not really your world at all; you begin to expect very little out of life and you learn to not ask for things anymore for Christmas or birthdays.

So when Maricela’s third birthday came around, nobody really mentioned how nice it would be to buy her a muñeca. And while we didn’t have much, birthdays went far from unnoticed in our family. When I came home from school that day, everyone was busy preparing for Maricela’s party. Edmundo and Adalina, my brother and sister, were decorating the small den with red and gold streamers, and my mother, Estrella, was busy preparing a beautiful birthday cake, the ingredients for which she’d been collecting for a year. My father, Ernesto, would probably not be home until late that evening. He was working at the old textile factory downtown in Tamaulipas, México that emitted an interminable stream of gray smog out of its tall smoke stacks that made the hot city even hotter on a breezeless summer day. Still, we’d make him a place at the table and cut him a big piece of cake, even if he wouldn’t eat it until late that night.

Escape to the Woods

by Rebecca Huggins

Into the woods,
deep, deep, deeper.
The darker and darker it gets.
The night grows cold,
And the trees loom ominously like giants.
Their arms are long and boney,
Their fingers like claws,
They reach out blindly to find us.
On we go now, deeper still,
And slowly, out of the darkness,
A strange little tune dances above the night air
Whispering words quite forgotten:
The yowl of black cats,
The flittering of strange bats,
And things too horrible to mention.
Yet in this strange place,
We make our escape
To worlds quite seldom visited.

©2010 Rebecca Huggins. All rights reserved.
About the Author

Rebecca Huggins is a graduate from East Tennessee State University where she received her master's degree in education, and is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Black Lantern Publishing and its imprints, Broomstick Books and Crow's Nest Magazine. She holds a literature degree in English from King College. When she isn't writing, reading, or editing, she's spending time with her husband, two dogs and cat, watching movies and listening to Swedish rock bands.

A Little Egypt (Yin-Yang!)

by David Perlmutter
Tess Bloch shook the long hair on her head from the glasses on her twelve year old face, looked at the piece of paper she had just been handed, and groaned in a way that was easily audible.

“You have got to be kidding!” she said.

“I am not!” said Raymond Chan, opposite her in the editor’s chair of the Gordon, the creatively named newspaper run by the students of Gordon Korman Middle School, where Tess was both reporter and student.

Tess groaned again, glaring at the paper—and the name etched there—with dread. Laura Block. Tess could hardly conceal her discontent from a less than sympathetic Raymond.

“Come on, Tess!” Raymond said. “This is a prime assignment! Just the kind of thing you’ve been bugging me about for weeks! How often does it happen that a real life, fully preserved Egyptian mummy comes around to a little tank town like this? You should be grateful for the opportunity!”

“I am, Ray!” said Tess, fully aware of the graveness in her editorial voice. “But do I have to keep getting paired up with Larry? Isn’t it possible that we could get another photographer for the paper?”

Laura Block—familiarly known as “Larry” was the bane of Tess’ existence—or at least she was at this time in Tess’s life. She was, after all, the complete opposite of the scholarly, bookish, high-achieving Tess. Tall, thin, and angular—unlike the short and slightly pudgy Tess—Larry was a tomboy par excellence, excelling at every sport or game at Korman that did not involve a brain (as Tess pointed out to others when Larry was not around). But where our purposes are concerned, she was an excellent photographer, noted for always—always—getting the shots that were needed, regardless of the obstacles in her path. This was where Larry and Tess came to a parting of the ways, since Larry was not above risking her life—and Tess’, for that matter—in pursuit of the ever-elusive “perfect shot”.

Cooperating with Ghosts

 by M.J. Nicholls

Jennifer kissed her daughter Alison goodnight. She reminded her she was safe and how the ghosts were too busy haunting bad people to bother with little girls. It was important mummy kept the customers in the Dreghorn Travelodge safe from dirt and rubbish, otherwise the ghosts might be put off and not haunt them!

Alison curled into bed beside her FM radio as the front door slammed shut. She hated when her mother left her alone for the night, but if she didn’t go to work, they wouldn’t be allowed to eat or sleep in a comfy bed. She twiddled the knob on her radio, alighting upon the soothing sound of Classic FM.

A slight hiss crackled through the speaker. Alison was frightened of hiss: she thought ghosts were trying to escape and pull her into the afterlife. She wasn’t ready for the afterlife yet, not like her daddy. Wriggling under the sheets, the hiss intensified until the music was gone, replaced instead with a soft breathing.

Hello? Hello?” the Voice asked.

Alison was petrified. Her comforting blanket of beautiful music was gone and the ghosts were drawing nearer. She wanted her mummy so badly, but she was busy keeping the customers safe all night, and wouldn’t be back until morning. It would be too late then. The ghosts would have eaten her soul, and she’d disappear, just like her daddy.

“Go away,” she murmured.

Is someone there? I heard someone… it’s OK, please talk to me.”

The Voice asked this twice, the second time with a softer register that quelled Alison’s fear. She rolled the duvet down, peeping her head out the covers.


Hello! There is someone there! How are you? My name is Eamonn.”


No, Eamonn. Ay-mon. Who am I speaking to please?”


Hello Alison! I am from the future, pleased to meet you.”

“The future? How can you be from the future?” Alison asked, calm enough in the Voice’s presence to take the risk.

Because I am. Do you not believe me?”

Alison paused as the hiss faded. The voice was clear now – it sounded like her cousin Pete.

“No… I believe you.”

Good. Listen, Alison, I want you to do something for me, OK? Things aren’t too happy for us here in the future, and we need your help. Do you think you can help us, Alison?”

“Um… sure.” She clasped the duvet to her chin.

In the future, Alison, there are a nasty race of beasts known as the Haggistompers –  the Hags for short. Now, these beasts, Alison, they like to eat little girls from Edinburgh, like yourself. They also eat anything that is deliciously Scottish – shortbread, tartan, the novels of Iain M. Banks. What I need you to do, Alison, is I need you to come into the future to help me. Will you come and help me, Alison?”

Alison thought of the afterlife, where her daddy went after the money men came and took him away, and remained silent.


Please, Alison. We are suffering here in the future. We need your help. If you do not help us, more of  us will die. Can you be brave for us?”


Alison closed her eyes as a pulsing blue light emerged from the radio’s speaker, engulfing her and the bed. The light felt smooth against her skin, like the feel of her mummy’s bathrobe after an evening’s wash. When she opened her eyes, she was still in bed, but in a dark room. A gang of men in berets and black-and-white striped tops were staring at her.

“Hello, Alison,” the Voice said. A man who looked nothing like her cousin Pete appeared. He was wearing a smile and a ring of onions around his neck.

“Hello.” She spoke softly. The men around her were scary – their eyes fixed on her with gloomy determination.

“Alison. Thank you so much for coming. Now, listen very carefully. We have the Mother Haggistomper locked in a room behind us. You see that room?” He pointed to a door guarded by five burly men.


“Now, the Haggistompers feed off Scottish stereotypes. Do you know what that means? We are dressed as stereotypical Frenchmen to throw them off the scent, but they are clever, Alison. They sniff out Scottishness. What we need you to do is to get inside the stomach of the Mother and give whoever is controlling the beast a special message. Could you do that for us?”

Alison was scared. She wanted to help the sad-looking men, but it was cold, she was far from home, and she wanted her mummy.

“Please, Alison. Will you be brave for us?”

She thought about what her mummy had told her when the money men took her daddy away: be brave for me, sweetheart. She looked at the dour-faced men in their stripy tops and hats, shivering in the cold, then into the kind eyes of the Voice, and nodded.

“Thank you, Alison. We are so grateful.”

The Voice lifted Alison from the bed. He asked her to put on a tartan blazer and sprayed her with a mixture of fish batter and lager. It smelled exactly like her daddy. A bunnet with red hair was placed ceremoniously upon her head, covering her short auburn locks. The Voice whispered the special message twice in her ear. She knew something awful was about to happen, but she remembered: be brave for me, sweetheart.

“Ready, Alison?”


The Voice led Alison to the guarded room, pushed the doors open, and gestured inside. Be brave. She stepped into the darkness. From the gloom, a monstrous beast, its skin made from haggises, its mouth dripping Irn-Bru, emerged from the shadows. Alison paused. Be brave, sweetheart. She stood as she had before the money men, defiant in the face of evil.

The Mother Haggistomper bent its neck down, shedding Tunnocks snowballs from its nose, and opened its mouth wide. Alison peered inside: it was as though the monster was beckoning her in. Closing her eyes, the monster swiped her up, swallowing her whole. She slid down its throat, coasting down a flume of Irn-Bru, coming to land on soft bed of Mackies ice-cream.

Before her, in tartan skirts and painted blue-and-white faces, were one hundred little girls, hunched against the stomach wall. It was made from tablet. They stood stock still, their eyes goggled at Alison as she walked past, approaching a door marked YON CONTROL MITHER.

She tapped on the door. A loud belch could be heard inside, followed by a protracted grumble. An obese man in a string vest appeared at the door.

“Whit d’ye want?” he asked.

“I’ve been sent to give you a message.”

“Aye? Whit is it?”

Alison paused. The man was disgusting. He was fat and ugly like daddy’s friends at the funeral. There were crumbs of haggis around his mouth and a ring of thistles around his neck. He loomed over Alison, his chin casting a large enough shadow to immerse her entire frame.

“They said to tell you that…” – she searched her memory – “…that the tourists have gone, and the… pree-tense is over.”

The man paused. A slogan on his vest read ‘Minister For Tourism’. He cast a solemn glance at Alison.

“Is… is it true? Are the tourists really gone? You mean we don’t have to do this anymore? We don’t have to out-Scottish ourselves, year in, year old? Could it really be true?”

Alison could see now that man wasn’t frightening. He had the same lost look in his eyes as the money men: he too was frightened of not being allowed to eat or sleep in a comfy bed. Maybe he too was afraid of being left alone, of being taken into the afterlife.

With a great whoop of delight, he bounced onto the ice-cream bed, past the children, and began hurling himself against the tablet wall. Soon, a crack opened up in the skin of the beast, and he threw himself out. As he fell, the Voice produced a gun and shot him.

“No! No!” Alison cried out. It had happened again, as it had with the money men and her daddy. They had given him no chance to make up his mind. The Voice gestured for Alison to jump.

“Come on, Alison! It’s OK! You did it, you helped us!”

“Why… why did you have to shoot him! He didn’t do anything!”

“We had to, Alison, we had to. Now, come to me.”

“No! No, you didn’t have to shoot him! Why did you have to do that!” She broke down and began sobbing.

“Believe us, Alison. It was for his own good. It was for his own good.”

She shuddered as the blue light engulfed her again. Before she could protest, she was back in her room, Classic FM was on the wireless, and the Voice intoned his last message through the music:

Thank you, Alison. You did the right thing.”

M.J. Nicholls is a callow manboy clacking out experimental, sometimes amusing, but otherwise awkward fiction in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is currently undergoing creative irrigation. His works have been published in Gold Dust Magazine, the Delinquent (UK) and Piker Press and New Paradigm (US).

N.C. Wyeth (October 22, 1882 – October 19, 1945) was an American artist and illustrator.
During his lifetime, Wyeth created over 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books, 25 of them for Scribner's, which is the work for which he is best-known.Wyeth was a realist painter.

The Stars of August

and Their Very Special Wish
by Laury A. Egan
It was late on a very clear August night. The Moon was off on a holiday (as moons do from time to time). This left the Stars shining alone in the black summer sky, but they were quite unhappy.

“We cannot see our reflection,” said Altair with a frown and a shake of his yellow head. Altair is the eye in the Eagle constellation. He has especially fine eyesight and is a proud star.

“It is very sad,” agreed Deneb. “We shine down on Earth, but we don’t know if we are beautiful.” Deneb is a bright white star, sailing along in the Swan constellation.

Vega, who is bluish-white, is the Queen of summer stars and lives high overhead in the Lyre constellation. A lyre is a musical instrument like a harp. Vega thought about the problem very seriously. “Perhaps we can ask the Atlantic Ocean to be our mirror.” 

“That is a fine idea,” replied Arcturus. The other Stars thought so, too. Arcturus is the sky’s second brightest star next to Sirius, who is on vacation during the summer. Arcturus is reddish-orange and is in the group called The Herdsman.
Vega was excited and cried out: “I will do it! Tra-la-la!” And so Vega called down to the Atlantic Ocean. “Ocean,” she said, “will you make yourself calm so we can see ourselves?”
“No, I’m busy!” huffed the Ocean, who was having fun making mean and nasty storms. The Atlantic loves to make waves and strong winds. It did not care about the Stars.
Vega was surprised at the Ocean. “Please?” she asked again, but the Ocean was no longer listening.
“Well, we shall ask the Sea to help us,” Altair suggested, as he flew to the Mediterranean Sea.

“Great Dark Blue Water, will you lie flat so we could use you like a glass?”

“So sorry,” said the Mediterranean, who could not calm itself. “Two mighty volcanoes are blowing up in the middle of my Sea. It is my job to eat all the rocks and lava that are exploding from the volcano as fast as I can so that the people who live in the towns and villages will not be hurt.” 

“I see,” replied Arcturus. It was true that it was more important for the Mediterranean Sea to save people than to be a mirror for the stars.
“We must go to Lake Huron,” Deneb told the other stars. She then went to the Great Lake and politely asked it to be still so that the Stars could see themselves. But Lake Huron was playing hide and seek in fog. The fog was so thick that the Stars could not see the water at all. 

“Come and find me!” laughed the Lake. “Ha! Ha!”

But since the Stars couldn’t see in the fog, they didn’t want to play with the Lake. They continued on their search.

Altair was twinkling very brightly, or so he thought. But since he could not see himself in the waters of the Earth, he could not behold how handsome he was. “I am disappointed in the Oceans, Seas, and Lakes,” he said.

 “Me, too,” agreed the others one by one. 
“Surely the Mississippi River will help us,” cried Arcturus. “But Vega should go and ask because she is the Summer Queen.”

And so Vega went to the Mighty Mississippi. “O Big Muddy” (for that is the River’s baby name), “Please show us our reflection!”

But the long River was in a hurry. “I have to run to New Orleans for Carnival, and I’m already late!” (Carnival is a holiday where everyone dresses up in costumes and has parties.) The Mississippi had no time to do as Vega asked.

Deneb could not believe it. Neither could Vega or Altair or Arcturus.
“Perhaps a simple Stream will be enough,” said Altair. 

But when they visited a Stream, there had been a terrible thunderstorm earlier in the evening. The Stream was filled to its edges.  

“I am too full and must rush and gush, rush and gush, rush and gush some more,” explained the Stream, whose water was very white with foam and froth.

The Stars sighed with growing sorrow.
Arcturus thought and thought. Brightening—which Stars do best—he said, “What about a little Pond?” 

 “Yes!” nodded Deneb eagerly. “Ponds are very small and should respect us.” 

They searched and searched and finally found a little Pond. The water was very green with scum and slime. Even the frogs were not having any fun in the Pond because it was so dirty.

“I have lost my reflection,” explained the little Pond sadly. “If I had one, I would gladly let you use it as a mirror.”

The Stars believed the Pond and said goodbye with heavy hearts.
“What will we do?” wondered Altair. “The Oceans, Seas, Lakes, Streams, and Ponds will not help us.” 

The Stars were growing dim with sadness because they found no water to show them their lovely, twinkling lights. They cried large, silver tears which turned into comets and meteors that flew wildly around the black sky. 

“This is terrible!” said Arcturus. “We cannot see how beautiful we are!”

They wept more comets and meteors. Then, from far below, they heard a door close. A tiny child came out of a small red house.

The Stars smiled down their best beams of light so the child could see in the dark. 

“It is very late for you to be out of bed, Child,” Vega said kindly.

“I know,” replied the little girl, “but I heard you talking and wondered who you are.”

“We are the four Great Stars of August,” said Vega proudly. “This is Altair, Deneb, and Arcturus. And I am the Queen, Vega.” 

“Pleased to meet you,” the child answered. “My name is Mira.”

“Mira?” asked Deneb. “That is a Star’s name.”

“Yes,” agreed Vega. “It means Wonderful.”

Mira was very pleased and smiled up happily at the Stars.

“It is very late for a young girl to be out of bed. We did not mean to wake you,” Vega said, but then she sighed. Arcturus, Deneb, and Altair sighed, too.

Mira could tell the Stars were unhappy. She asked them why they were sad. 

Altair, the Eagle star, answered: “We are very old and very wise, and yet we cannot see our reflections anywhere on Earth.” 

“We have asked the Oceans, Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Streams, and Ponds to help us, but no one can show us if we are beautiful,” Vega explained, with a tear in her eye.

“You are very beautiful!” Mira told them.

But the Stars had lost some of their twinkle. Mira frowned and thought hard for a few minutes. Then she rushed into her house and ran into her room. Picking up the water glass from the table by her bed, she ran outside, careful not to spill the water. Her eyes were nearly as bright as the Stars. Slowly, she raised her water glass high up above her head. “Look!” she cried. And the stars looked, already growing brighter with curiosity. Inside the glass, the Stars could see themselves dancing joyfully in the water.

 Altair, Deneb, Arcturus, and Vega were so surprised and happy!

“Thank you!” Queen Vega sang joyfully. “My, we are more beautiful than I dreamed! Tra-la-la!”

“Yes,” agreed Deneb, “Look how pretty I am! All in white!”

Altair studied his reflection, turning this way and that. “I have a handsome light,” he exclaimed. “Mira, you have done us a great service. You will be our favorite friend!” 

Arcturus smiled great beams of light. “Every night, we will come and shine on you.”

Vega was enjoying her shining sparkle. “You are very special because you truly love us. I think you will grow up to be as beautiful as we are!”

“Indeed! Your eyes will always be filled with starlight,” Arcturus chimed in.

“I am so glad!” said the girl. “I love you, Stars, more than anything else!”

Deneb smiled. “And we shall bring you luck, if you wish upon us.”

“Thank you,” Mira said politely. “I will.”
“Now, it is time for all of us to go to sleep,” Vega said, “for soon, the Sun will rise. She is the brightest Star of all. So bright that the rest of us cannot be seen when she has risen.”

“That’s rather selfish,” said the girl.

“It is,” agreed Arcturus, who was often jealous of the Sun.  

“Thank you for your gift of beauty,” said Mira to the Stars.

“Thank you for our reflections,” Altair answered, twinkling with good humor. “We will be with you in your glass, to light your dark room.”

Mira said goodbye to her new silver friends and went inside her house. In her bedroom, Mira took off her slippers and climbed into her high bed. She pulled up the covers and turned off the light. Then she looked at the table next to her and saw the water glass. Inside, the Stars were playing merrily in the water, their reflections shining their cheerful white lights all around her room.  

“Good night,” she whispered. 

“Pleasant dreams,” the Stars whispered back. 

Happy, Mira fell fast asleep.
Hours later, the Sun came up and grinned a big yellow smile, and the sky turned bright blue. All the Stars were hidden, waiting for night when they could come out and play with their new friend, Mira.

© 2010 Laury A. Egan.  All rights reserved.   

Laury A. Egan though primarily an adult short stories writer, has appeared in journals such as Four Branches Press, Paradigm, Shortbread Stories (Scotland), The Maynard, and (forthcoming) Tryst. In addition to receiving a Pushcart Prize nomination, she has published a full-length poetry collection, Snow, Shadows, a Stranger, in 2009 (FootHills). You can visit Laury on the web at

Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressinoist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life, and died largely unknown, at the age of 37, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. One of his most well-known pieces, The Starry Night, is featured here.