Meant To Be

by JD DeHart

old relicWhat we are is what we are meant to be, the relic always tells us. But then, the relic is always spurting out useless and incongruous information. I am told relics often do. Lucky lotto numbers, quaint musical verse from decades ago, a commercial jingle, that sort of thing. The most mindless of us gather around him and dance like birds in the bath.

Step away from the relic, there is the wall. I enter my name into the doorway pod five times each day for good measure, hoping for entry each time. … Nutt, E.M.

The door sounds like it is clicking, but ultimately, this is a ruse. Again and again. I hear the relic laughing over my shoulder. Try again, sweetheart, it says, then spits out a ribbon of horoscope symbols, which are supposed to mean something. They never do.

As Jonah said, Oh, whale.

We are out here, on the outside, and the doorway will never open. Yet we still try. The relic is the last piece of what life used to be, a stone statue of a man with a beard and top hat with an honest look about him. Someone put a speaker in his mouth so he could recite code to us and taunt us with his nothings.

Jay-Jay Albus Nutt, my stepfather, is always busy scratching runes in the dirt and chanting. He says he saw this done in a movie once and it worked, opening up new portals, so why not? I am not one to disagree. I do not even know what movies are.

My real mother, I am told, is somewhere on the inside, which may mean that she has departed to the pearly gates and no one has the decency to tell me. Her name was Irene or Inez, depending on who tells the story and how drunk they are. My step-brother Daniel is a tale better left untold. He had an unfortunate run-in with a roaming beast and the rest is a bit of decapitated history.

As Jonah said, Oh, whale.

I walk among the outcast people, wondering how I became an outcast. There are stories, but we never trust history. I do not even trust my memory of yesterday. It is said that our race goes back and back to a time when there were slaves. We held chains firmly on all creatures and so this is our punishment. It is said that we have always been outcasts and that the fat happy little campers inside the walls of the city are the true heroes. If we submit to them, we may gain entry.

I do not know anyone who has gained a passport from them, but you can almost always hear the wild party going on inside.

Still, another story holds that there is one who will rise among us and overthrow the rulers of that great city, allowing us to stampede inside like so many elephants. That story is too trite and overdone to believe. It is also a nuisance story, giving some of us messiah complexes when we begin to lose our minds.

What we are is what we are meant to be, the relic says again. My thoughts become abstract and urgent. I picture my step-father becoming older and older, still scratching in the dirt. I picture the men and women inside laughing big belly laughs at all of us out here, watching us somehow and laughing.

Maybe if I break open the relic, there will be a key inside or a code so that I can gain entry. Maybe this is the test. So, I pick up the largest piece of metal that I can find and swing at the statue, but the effort is too little or the statue is too much, because the face just looks at me, unfazed.

Desperate, I enter my name into the pad again, and this time the click sounds real. Oh, my God, it is real. I scramble inside as the door opens and then my world crashes down because what is in front of me is another door, another pad. This door moves toward me like an usher, pushing me back out. I dig my heels into the dirt, but it keeps pushing until I am outside the first door again.

The relic is over my shoulder again and I sink down.

Try again, little princess, the relic says, then comes that harsh laugh again. Them’s the breaks, the statue adds. A party cup comes flying over the wall at that moment, spilling some strong beverage, adding insult to my latest injury. This is not my day.

As Jonah said, Oh, whale.

JD DeHart is the author of two collections, Decaf Days and Sunrise of Tomorrow, available on Amazon. His work has appeared in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah and the Garden of Eden anthology.

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An Ode to the Prophets

by JD DeHart

Prophet JeremiahOf all the genres of the Old and New Testament, the prophets stand out as some of the most intriguing and imagistic. They start out with the familiar pattern of “The word the Lord came to” and then it is anybody’s guess what happens from there.

Ezekiel features the image of a valley of dry bones snapping into life, resurrected and gift-wrapped with flesh. Where else in the Bible can one find an image so akin to The Walking Dead? Ezekiel also features an inaugural image involving four creatures, each a mass of faces and wings. This is the “wheel within intersecting wheel” passage. The book is also the source of the trope of Lucifer cast out of heaven, like a spear to the earth, a snapshot repurposed by authors like William Blake.

God asks Isaiah to put a live coal in his mouth, purifying his speech in a highly symbolic text. God then commissions the prophet to go and speak to a people that will not hear with words that they will not understand (sounds like bus duty to a public educator). Most people like to quote the part where Isaiah says, “Here I am, send me!” Churches love this verse because they can print it on banners and use it to start building programs, inspire mission trips, and sell hotdogs at the local welcome center.

What they fail to cite is the following passage about how Isaiah’s message is one that will be ignored, and that this journey will continue until everything is ruined, deserted, forsaken, and ravaged. It is easy to see why these words do not make it onto the banner. The commission concludes with God saying, “the holy seed will be a stump in the land” (Is. 6:13). Now, that is reassuring. Words like stump do not sell hot dogs.

Then there are the other tasks that the prophets are assigned. Isaiah gets to walk around in the buff, Ezekiel cooks his food over excrement, Daniel gets to spend time in a lion’s den, Hosea marries a prostitute, Joel uses locusts as a prophetic device, and Jeremiah laments…a lot.

The message presented against the backdrop of these odd actions is usually similar. It goes something like, “The people are doing wrong, punishments will come unless the people turn, and mercy will be given to them if they repent.” It is like hubris, ate, nemesis, with much more emphasis on grace.

This dichotomy is so strong in the book of Isaiah that some scholars insist there are two authors. The first part of the book deals with Isaiah’s original commission under the reign of King Hezekiah. Hezekiah then invites a Babylonian entourage to tour the kingdom (hint, wink: bad idea, coming invasion), and the second part of the book features a pissed off Isaiah prognosticating about events that will happen far into the future. The transition really occurs at Isaiah chapter thirty-nine.

What particularly works in some of the prophets, elevating them beyond a simple call to repentance, are those strange images and symbolic texts that cause the reader to look twice. It is easy to bog down in genealogies and lists of laws, but the section of the Old Testament devoted to prophecy is an entirely different matter.

The same could be said for the New Testament; the reader gets the same story told with essential accuracy in the first three synoptic gospels, with the Gospel of John telling the story from a different angle. Then the reader encounters a series of epistles in which various authors attempt to apply the events of the gospel narratives to situations encountered thereafter.

The book of Revelation sits at the edge of the New Testament like a road sign, with its heavy-handed images of the world melting like candle wax. The prophets seem to be the capstone genre, existing at the edge of the periphery. Once the history is told, the inevitable question is, what happens next?

The prophets answer that question with symbolism and strange characters, leaving the reader guessing still.

JD DeHart is a featured author in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah. He is the author of two collections, Decaf Days and Sunrise of Tomorrow, both available on Amazon.

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Starlight

by Erin Vataris

starlight by erin vatarisGeula was afraid of the dark. She was afraid of the shadows that oozed out of the brick walls in the middle of the night and piled on the floor near her bed, thick and deep, waiting for her to step into them. She was afraid of the sound of the wind as it whistled past the windows in the darkness. She was afraid of the sound of the baked bricks cooling, the tick and crackle of the mortar between them, but most of all, she was afraid of the black empty dark.

Sometimes, when she hung her feet over the edges of the bed, the darkness climbed up them and made them disappear until she pulled them up and found them again. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, especially on the black dark nights when the clouds covered the stars and there was no moon, she thought she could feel it climbing up the side of the sleeping ledge, seeping into her sleeping mat and trying to make all of her disappear.

Geula didn’t want to disappear. She didn’t want the dark to eat her, so she stayed still on her mat and closed her eyes so she couldn’t see how dark it was. She squeezed them closed so tightly that the darkness couldn’t leak in, and then she pushed her fingers against her eyelids until she could see bright flashing spots even after she opened them again.

She did it again and again until she couldn’t see the darkness anymore, then sometimes she could sleep, but the darkness was still there. It was waiting for her to fall asleep so it could climb up the ledge and into her mat and eat her all gone.

Her legs hurt from where Immi had whipped her for falling asleep at the loom yesterday, so she wiggled them a little bit. Not much, or the mat would crackle and the darkness would know she was there. Her lungs hurt from trying not to breathe too loudly. Her eyes hurt from pushing on them. But she was still there. It hadn’t gotten her yet. Geula tried to think about staying awake, but she was so tired. She just wanted to go to sleep. She wished they would let her leave a lamp on, but oil was more precious than one silly little girl’s silly little fears.

Abbi had put an altar in the alcove of the sleeping room for her and traded Immi’s fine-woven linens for a statue of Asherah with a bronze crown that glittered. He sighed the whole while, but he put Asherah in the altar where the moonlight could shine in the window and catch her crown.

Asherah was a fine goddess to protect her. Geula knew that. She knew that Abbi gave her an altar and not another whipping because he loved her, just like Immi had whipped Geula’s legs out of love and didn’t want her to ruin a whole length of cloth by falling asleep and tangling the shuttle so it had to be all unwoven. Geula knew that.

When the moon shone in and the bronze crown sent stars dancing over the walls of the alcove, Geula could almost see Asherah moving. She could feel the goddess’s gaze on her while she shifted and pushed on her eyes and tried to sleep, and Geula was almost as afraid of that as she was of the shadows that filled up the alcove on cloudy nights. On cloudy nights—nights like tonight—she couldn’t see Asherah at all. She could just hear her moving in the darkness, and she knew, just as surely as she knew the darkness wanted to swallow her up, that Asherah was moving.

Asherah lived in the statue in the altar in the alcove, and Geula wasn’t quite sure whether Asherah wanted to help her or beat her for her childishness.

Asherah never helped her. She just stood there being stone and bronze during the daytime, and at night she roamed around her alcove where the altar was, eating the olives and honey milk they left for her and trying to get out. Sometimes on the darkest nights, the nights with no moon, Geula could hear her feet like raindrops, and she wondered what would happen if Asherah got out.

Those were the worst nights, where she laid on her mat and shivered, afraid of the darkness, afraid of Asherah. Those were the nights when she was so afraid that she couldn’t even make herself get up to pee, and she would lay in bed afraid until it all came spilling out of her in a hot wet stream that dried on her legs and made her mat stink. She got whipped when that happened, a big girl like her peeing in her bed, and Immi made her carry her own mat down to the river, heavy and reeking, to wash it. That was bad, but on the worst nights the darkness was worse than whippings. It was worse than washing her mat. It was worse than everything.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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[Untranslatable]

by E.S. Wynn

[untranslatable] by E.S. Wynn from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahTranscript SM-15746:

The only warning I received came in the form of the flash when [The Weapon] hit the center of Sodom. A handful of seconds. Five, maybe.

I am grateful for it.

I’m grateful, because it was more time than most were given.

[The Library] has been my home for almost fifty years, and now I fear it will become my tomb. If you’re familiar with Sodom as it was before the sudden strike that erased it from existence, surely you’ve seen [The Library]. It was beautiful once—a spiraling tower of gold-marbled hunchunite capped with a shining dome of polished platinum and perched amongst the trees at the southern edge of the city, just beyond the university district. I–I remember cursing how far I had to walk to get there sometimes, but now . . .

Now, I’m starting to think that maybe [The Library]‘s distance from the city center was the only reason I survived.

Most of [The Library] is gone. Fifteen floors. [The Weapon]? [Untranslatable–]

How foolish war is. All of that knowledge. All of those texts—gone, lost, fused and melted, and shattered. Thousands of years of knowledge erased in an instant. All that’s left is this basement, these archives, these back-up copies of critical texts.

I never thought that [The Enemy] would use [The Weapon]. They always threatened our nation with it. War is like that. Threats, espionage, some fighting, little skirmishes, but never . . . never something like this. Never something capable of killing so many so quickly.

So many, so many dead. Even if Sodom is the only city that was attacked—even if Gomorrah or Admah or Zeboim still stand, even if our nation is still strong. . .

Millions. Millions called Sodom home. Millions.

[Untranslatable]

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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An Old Homeless Monologue

by Robert S. King

If mistakes were dollars, I’d still be filthy rich, instead of just filthy. A mistake is dirty as a shadow and follows you around. I’ve got more shadows than I can scare away, and every one of them looks counterfeit. I guess my whole life’s a mistake, but at least I’ve learned where it hurts.

I’ve loved others about as well as they’ve loved me. I used to be hopeful about my kind.

Kind? Now there’s some irony to iron out. Now I think law, force, and guilt are the only reasons for charity. I’m only gums now, but those other kind that I used to smile at–their pearly white, perfect teeth bite hard. I wouldn’t hold out my hand.

Nothing dangerous or sharp about me now. I’d have to pinch you to death, but I can still get mad enough to try. Wipe that grin off your piehole!

Poor ol’ sour rag, nobody gives me a damn. They think I need snort money, but I’d settle for used gum, or even a frowning nod that I exist. Yet at my age desire has set hard as that gum or any wall that stops my passage to nowhere. Now, I’d say I don’t want anything, except something different. Truth is, I guess I want everything. That’s probably why I’m here in this scenic alley.

You’ll get a kick out of this. On school-day mornings I used to go to bus stops and steal lunch boxes. I’ve lost a lot of weight since then because I can’t run as fast.

Don’t look at me like that! I was nothing then. I had nothing but holes in my pockets. Now I’ve got shadows. Come to think of it, every shadow is ash, the child of greed.

Someone with really bad breath tried to steal from me the other night. He lifted the flaps of my cardboard mansion and started to frisk me for money, or at least I think that‘s what he was feeling for. I struck a match and burned the damn house down. I’m not sure if he was still in it.

He and I are more likely to be friends than you and me, boy. It’s easier for me to feel warm toward an enemy than someone I have to care for. The enemy is someone I’d invite for poker and find a way to make him play his credit card. So why does your momma let you hang around a trash barrel like me?

She’d hold her nose around me. But to my nose-hole, everything smells the same, and I don’t surprise myself anymore. You won’t catch me off-guard because I’m not trying to hide a bleeping thing.

You know, on casual Fridays I used to wear a designer noose with dollar signs around my neck, a green suit making a fine figure on Wall Street. I didn’t put much stock into those I stole from. Before those towers came all the way down, I was making calls to buy the lots at discount. Got Trumped, though.

No, I wasn’t a cynic in those days. I thought the gold-diggers smooching on me really loved my soul. Of course, I thought my soul was made of brand new money. I thought my dollars were worth more because I knew how to spend them. Some say it was the dollar that brought the towers down.

Well, it’s cold, and you’ve kept me long enough, boy. Time is money, and you’ve burned too much of it. I’m headin’ down to the tracks and the fire barrel. The people are warmer down there.

Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published four chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998; and Diary of the Last Person on Earth, Sybaritic Press 2014). His full‐length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both in 2nd editions from FutureCycle Press, 2012; One Man’s Profit from Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013; and Developing a Photograph of God, Glass Lyre Press, 2014. His personal website is www.robertsking.com.

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Garbage

by Guy & Tonya De Marco

garbage by guy & tonya de marco from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahMr. Gray uploaded a new orbital script into the E-DEN’s main navigation computer and the forward retros fired in a complex pattern of bursts to place the ship into a stable orbit.

“Tell me again why we’re not just dumping our cargo into the local star’s corona,” said Mr. Silver. “It’s just sulfur, and it’s worthless on any planetary system.”

Mr. Gray turned his one electronic eye to his mechanical friend. “We’ve been paired for most of our mean time between failure lifetimes. Have I ever let you down before?”

“Yes. There was that time on Vega-2, where you posed as a pimp and tried to rent me as a pleasure-bot.”

“Besides that!” said Mr. Gray as he unlocked his wheels and rolled over to the projection table. “You never let anything go. Almost like we’re married.” He fiddled with the knobs on the table for a few minutes.

Mr. Silver looked at the forward window. “What planet are we orbiting?”

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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The Tooth Fairy Interrogation

by Daniel J. Neumann

“My art is sustainable, healthy for the environment. My art is recycling at its finest. The medium and supplies I choose symbolize the transition between life and death, which is really more like a dance or a wave than a single point in a long continuum. Yes. It is true that most will not understand me. Label me as a madman if you must. But, please, tell me: what ought to happen to those baby teeth? Should they be thrown in the trash, to mingle with decomposing table scraps? Should they be collected by a mere simpleton who knows not the intricate architecture hidden in a child’s enamel? Or should they be separated from the mendacity and recognized as a sacred icon? It’s the mass ignorance that prevents people from seeing my genius. Yes. Ignorance is like a mouse that hides in holes, waiting for the darkness so it can indulge, but always in fear.”

The interrogating officer massaged his forehead. “You do realize that breaking and entering is a crime, don’t you, uh—” He looked down at his clipboard. “—Mr. Malwitz?”

“Your arbitrary laws dealing with principled absolutes aren’t flexible enough to take into account artistic endeavor. This is the stuff of life. The state’s legalistic framework encroaches on the very spirit of defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rules strangle creativity.”

The officer’s eyes contorted in pain. “I’m going to need some coffee. Do you want a cup?” As he slid back and pushed himself up from his chair, the metal legs screeched on the tiled floor.

Mr. Malwitz flinched from the noise. “No, thank you. I don’t believe in putting chemicals like caffeine in my body. I find that, when I brush my teeth, that stimulates my morning more than any cup of Joe.”

“Of course.” The officer left the interrogation room and entered the one next over. “Damn it. I hate being stuck in a room with a nut job. I feel like they’ve got what they wanted: reality shrunk to two people—-with a seemingly even footing on what’s right and what’s wrong. This asshole thinks he’s the Tooth Fairy, yet he’s talking to me like I’m his student.” He looked at his colleague earnestly. “Frank, I need someone else in there with me when I’m talking to him.”

“Listen to me closely now, Larry. I’m your friend. I’m not fucking with you. I just got word that three little girls have been found killed, and their teeth were missing. We’ve got reason to believe it was Malwitz. This guy doesn’t just break into houses. He’s a killer, and we need to find out who and where the other victims are.”

“No… I refuse to go back in there alone with that sick motherfucker.”

“What makes you think the two of us being in there is going to solve anything? The chief assigned you this role, and you barely lasted a minute.” Frank diverted eye contact. “If we both go in there, he may feel ganged up on and he’ll lose whatever trust he’s built up with you. If that happens, we can’t reverse time to see what could have been accomplished with this approach.”

“I can’t do it right now. It was bad enough before I knew about the girls.”

Frank relaxed his posture. “I get it. You know what? Fuck it. Let him stay frosty in there for a few hours. Let’s get out of here.”

“Do you think the chief would approve of that?”

“You’ve earned it, and I’m hungry. I’m in the mood for a good hot dog, with diced onions and yellow mustard.”

“Sure. Why the hell not?” Larry got out his keys. “I’ll drive.”

A green mist poured out of the vents. It slowly descended. Time began to churn slower. Each moment was a cog locking and unlocking in a system of gears, always losing momentum.

Frank turned to see Larry was a hissing, four-foot-tall lizard with red eyes.

Larry tried to ask Frank what was going on, but only worms came out of his mouth. The floor tiles looked like television screens on static.

A bright green light emerged from the light fixture above them. It lowered itself gradually and declared: “Attention: Mr. Malwitz must be allowed to kill one more child. Release him.”

Frank shook his head. “What the hell is happening?”

“We have temporarily altered your state of consciousness so that you can hear and see us.”

Larry still couldn’t speak. Too many worms came out. He felt that, if he kept his lips sealed tight enough, maybe they’d stop generating. It didn’t help in the slightest.

Frank closed his eyes. He was frightened what else he might see. Everything moved in unnatural ways. “Please, stop.”

“You must pay attention: Free Mr. Malwitz.”

“He’s a murderer.” It was a struggle for Frank to keep his balance with his eyes shut.

“We know. If he doesn’t kill Jessica Blake, she will accidentally destroy the Earth.”

“Accidentally?”

“She’ll psychically implode the Earth. She needs to die.”

Larry swallowed the worms and stood in triumph. “No. The Tooth Fairy is a bad man. We won’t release him. I won’t let Jessica Blake or any other girl suffer that man’s cruel torture for anything: not even the fate of our planet.”

The green orb brightened. “Doesn’t that seem irrational to you? There are billions of humans who live meaningful lives. Would you sacrifice all of them—-including Jessica—-for one?”

Frank’s eyes widened. He hadn’t expected to hear Larry’s voice, and he was pleasantly surprised to see he wasn’t a lizard-man any more. “Larry is right. No girl should be made to suffer that way. If the universe is going to back us into this corner, then I choose the dignified route. The Earth imploding sounds pretty quick and painless anyway.” He grinned. “Besides, maybe you’re wrong and my partner and I are just tripping on some psychedelic smoke bomb.”

“Yeah!” Larry raised a finger in accusation. “How do we know this isn’t a break-out attempt? Who did you say you were again?”

The orb altered from green to a yellow hue, then transformed into a pyramid. “We are a hyper-intelligent, multi-dimensional collective that polices many space-time matrices. It is in everybody’s self-interest if the human race was not destroyed yet.”

“And why is that?”

“And why should we trust you that you are what you say you are?” Frank added.

The yellow pyramid shape-shifted into a doughnut of gold. “Humanity has such a rich diversity of pain and beauty that it’s a universally appreciated art.” The doughnut divided into three, creating a triquetrous knot. Its color became a dark red.

“You didn’t answer why we should trust you.” Frank, crossing his arms, looked at Larry.

“I have no way of proving what I had to say. The council of nineteen voted that only you two should have the capability of stopping the Earth’s demise-—and only in this way.”

“It seems to me,” Larry said, “that this council of nineteen is full of shit, and so are you. Now stop releasing your noxious fumes. I’ve made my decision.”

The triple-doughnut returned to being a sphere. “Do you agree with him, Frank?”

“I do.” He patted his belly. “And I’m still hungry for a hot dog with diced onions and yellow mustard.”

Larry smiled and nodded.

Daniel J. Neumann is a science fiction novelist and poet as well as a freelance writer, editor, and social media specialist. You can check out more of his ideas at danieljneumann.com.

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The Mortician of Sodom

by C.J. Beacham

the mortician of sodom by C.J. Beacham from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah“See you on the other side,” Teodor said. “And remember to breathe.”

I grimaced and sat down to catch my breath. After the explosions this morning, I never expected to see another side of anywhere.

#

I woke this morning when the mountain groaned. It had rumbled twice in recent memory, but no stories from the past eight generations mentioned eruption. When the ground shook today, however, windows rattled until one smashed. My eyes popped open. I rose from the lambskin, peered through the crack between the door and frame. Other eyes peered from doorways across the dusty road. Distant explosions and shrill voices echoed from the mountains, and I sensed the odd glow growing towards the cities of the plain.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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Pacifier

by Stephen V. Ramey

baby pacifier

Photo Pacifier – © Pahham | Dreamstime.com

Flame burst from the ground after baby Adam’s first word.

“Fuck!” baby Adam said, and Whoosh! the backyard lit up. Even through the windowpane, Miriam felt its heat.

She turned from the window, frown imprinted upon her face. “You taught him that, Joe. You and your foul mouth.”

Joe chuckled. “I think it’s cute. Wait ’til I tell the guys at the mill.”

“This is not funny!” Miriam shouted. She jabbed her hand toward the window. “Do you think that’s a laughing matter?”

Joe’s smile scrunched down but did not entirely disappear. “Well, it’s kind of impressive.”

“What it is,” Miriam said, “is a sign from Hell. You’ve cursed Baby Adam, Joe. You’ve cursed us all.”

“Oh, crank it down a notch, would you?” Joe pushed the pacifier into Adam’s mouth. “It’s obviously from the fracking down by the apple orchard.”

Baby Adam spat the pacifier out. “Fuck! Fuck ooh!” He watched the towering flame, eyes glistening with reflection.

Joe looked sheepish. “I’ll call the fracking company in the morning, okay?”

Miriam sniffed. “You do that, Joe. You do that if there’s still a world tomorrow.”

“Oh, come on, Miriam. Just because Baby Adam says an off-color word does not mean the world is coming to an end.”

Miriam glared. She turned and marched down the carpeted hallway. The bedroom door slammed.

Joe sighed. “Fuck. It’s going to be a long night, Baby Adam. She’s really pissed.”

Baby Adam looked up, lips forming an oval. Joe rubbed the pacifier on his pants, pushed it into that baby mouth, and held it firmly in place. I should’ve done that sooner.

Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania, a rust belt city on the edge of resurrection. His work has appeared in various places, and he edits the Triangulation anthologies from Parsec Ink as well as the twitterzine, trapeze. Find him at http://www.stephenvramey.com.

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In the Distance, a Clap of Thunder

by David Anderson

a clap of thunder by david anderson from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahThe rock smashed against Rodger’s face with a sickening smack as the mob continued to hurl stones at him, and the Chenku Class Vessel Captain lurched forward, almost passing out from pain as a dirt clod burst on his back, obviously being mistaken for a rock by one of the villagers. A soldier of Gomorrah stepped forward, picking the captain up by the arm and dragging him away to the quarters of the head city guard. The implant in Rodger’s inner ear automatically translated any speech to English, allowing him to understand the words of his captors.

“From what province or land do you come, stranger?” said a large tan man in a robe and armored sandals. He aimed the point of a sword at Rodger’s head, indicating that he wanted a response. Unfortunately, the translator didn’t work both ways, and he didn’t know how to talk back to them, a problem that was usually avoided by not talking to the locals on these types of expeditions. It was always observance-only on these safaris, as mandated by legislation back home. Nothing that could potentially alter the timeline was allowed.

“Perhaps you wish to suffer the same fate as your friend?” the head guard asked as he repeated his inquiries. Rodger wanted to answer, but he couldn’t. He spoke in English to the man, but it only confused matters.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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