Fiction: 'Mephisto the Unruly' by George Sandison

Mephisto - Emma CoshThe fever dreams of Mephisto the Unruly were potent. They worked slowly at first, dragging slow, bright streaks of colour across the stained walls, but once they started to take physical form they would not be restrained.

As Mephisto shivered under the blankets, his temperature achieving untold heights, he watched the drawers of his cabinet slide open and bunches of gaudy flowers blossom from the fresh beds. Swirling smoke dragons coiled around the lampshade in silence but the great white rabbit in the corner said nothing. Occasionally it would doff its hat in a semblance of respect.

Mephisto knew on some level he was sick, but there seemed little point in challenging it. His staff would bring him soup and hot water with chunks of lemon and ginger steeping and that satisfied what little appetite he had. The rabbit in the corner absolutely wasn’t real, he understood that, but it still kept him company.

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Fiction: 'The Choreography of Masks' by David Pomerico

Masks - Banner - Jeffrey Alan Love

The candles mix with the floodlights, and down the road she sees the reflections off the tinted masks and plexiglass shields. She knows that only eyes like hers, eyes that are actually here, can catch that fiery gaze of the faceless men – there’s been a media blackout for days, cutting off the world from what is happening tonight. It was standard now, to deny real-time access to events as they unfolded, controlling the story and keeping it theirs. Yet another mask.

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Fiction: 'Killing Time' by Jennifer Moore

KillingTime

On the day Death came calling for her, Antonia Priver had already left. Clothes shopping, as usual.  Unfortunately, given the ever-increasing weight of his workload, Death had barely had time to skim through her case notes that morning, let alone analyse her spending habits. He’d clocked her age and address and committed her photo to memory (there’d be hell to pay if he took the wrong client by mistake) but the detailed lists of likes and dislikes had rather fallen by the wayside.

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Fiction: 'The Valley of the Sorcerer' by Bram Stoker

JewelOf_SevenStarsThe book was by one Nicholas van Huyn of Hoorn. In the preface he told how, attracted by the work of John Greaves of Merton College, Pyramidographia, he himself visited Egypt, where he became so interested in its wonders that he devoted some years of his life to visiting strange places, and exploring the ruins of many temples and tombs. He had come across many variants of the story of the building of the Pyramids as told by the Arabian historian, Ibn Abd Alhokin, some of which he set down. These I did not stop to read, but went on to the marked pages.

As soon as I began to read these, however, there grew on me some sense of a disturbing influence. Once or twice I looked to see if the Nurse had moved, for there was a feeling as though some one were near me. Nurse Kennedy sat in her place, as steady and alert as ever; and I came back to my book again.

The narrative went on to tell how, after passing for several days through the mountains to the east of Aswan, the explorer came to a certain place. Here I give his own words, simply putting the translation into modern English:

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Fiction: 'Where was Wych Street?' by Stacy Aumonier

Wych Street

In the public bar of the Wagtail, in Wapping, four men and a woman were drinking beer and discussing diseases. It was not a pretty subject, and the company was certainly not a handsome one. It was a dark November evening, and the dingy lighting of the bar seemed but to emphasize the bleak exterior. Drifts of fog and damp from without mingled with the smoke of shag. The sanded floor was kicked into a muddy morass not unlike the surface of the pavement. An old lady down the street had died from pneumonia the previous evening, and the event supplied a fruitful topic of conversation. The things that one could get! Everywhere were germs eager to destroy one. At any minute the symptoms might break out. And so - one foregathered in a cheerful spot amidst friends, and drank forgetfulness.

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Fiction: 'The Conquest of America' by Cleveland Moffett

Conquest of America

The purpose of this story is to give an idea of what might happen to America, being defenceless as at present, if she should be attacked, say at the close of the great European war, by a mighty and victorious power like Germany. It is a plea for military preparedness in the United States. (Cleveland Moffett, 1916)

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Fiction: 'The Ransom of Red Chief' by O. Henry

Dead_letter_office

It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama - Bill Driscoll and myself - when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, "during a moment of temporary mental apparition", but we didn't find that out till later.

There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants of as undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a Maypole.

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