From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome back! We apologize for the long delay in new issues. We have been at conferences, training sessions, building offices, and editing some large projects. Hopefully we should be on track now for the new year.
We are still catching up on old Smashword copies. These should be coming out soon. Currently we are to March with May on the agenda.
In news we are closed to new submissions. We will reopen the mail box once we are through what we have. When we do reopen the box look for our brand new shiny email address.
Daniel J. Pool
What Granny Would Say
By Charles Bernard
I watched her oiled lips as she spoke
Her bright eyes glowing as a flame
Stories of kings and queens
I was told under the moonlight
The morals she stressed
When life twists so badly
I think of what granny would say
The night often runs deep
I lay at her feet sleeping
Silent clasps of rosary
Cutting silence in the dark
Hushes of prayers hover
Heavenly bliss envelope us
Nights granny would pray on
With her eyes alone
She rebuked all my wrongs
Her anger screams to my heart
Without a word without a Cain
Often praises she whispered
When sadness looms
I think of what granny would say
The eyes that rebuked have dimmed
Her hands bonny and dry
Her back bent from years
Her hair all white
Her skin wrinkled
Even in her silence
Nourishing old age
I stare Longley at her lips
I wonder what granny would say.
For more about Charles follow him @chalzz619 and see his blog athttp://greendiarynotes.wordpress.com/
By Ryan Stevens
The agent entered the patient’s room, stopping abruptly at the door’s threshold. His eyes adjusted to the light. Fluorescent bulbs bathed the room in a stark bright glow. His hand went to the small service weapon on his hip. He felt foolish seeing the patient in his current state.
He was no longer his former self. The head-to-toe muscle and imposing outfit was replaced by atrophied arms hung in leather straps on either side of the gurney. The agent’s reaction was justified, but he felt a pang of guilt for it.
The patient’s entire body was a mediator for various tubes. The small room had a potted plant in the corner nearest to the door, and an oak table with a newspaper laid to the left of the patient’s gurney, within reach of his sallow, wicker arm.
The front page had a photo of a devastated city street. Skeletons of crumbling buildings were on all sides. Debris and wreckage abound. The headline read Captain Thunder Death Toll Rises, Thunder Included.
The patient appeared asleep, his mouth covered by a small mask that echoed with his rattling breaths. His dry lips moved and he croaked, “Who’s there?”
“Uh, federal.” Said the agent, caught off-guard by the patient’s consciousness. “This visit is ...unexpected?”
He observed that the patient’s eyes were indeed open, dimly glimmering like diamonds at the bottom of a trench, and he looked thirty years older than he actually was.
“Of course not,” The patient mumbled. His head lolled to the left, his dark eyes examining his strapped wrist. “I regret nothing. Lemme say that. The cost was worth it.”
“For you, maybe. But for all those people, maybe not?” The agent surprised himself, saying these words with an edge not intended in the least.
“Was an accident,” the patient wheezed, “never happened before.”
The agent snapped back, “Once is enough, don’t you think?” and regretted the statement immediately.
The patient tried to raise himself up but the effort exhausted him. “You don’t get it. You... can’t.”
He exhaled gruffly instead of displaying masculine animal aggression. The sound brought to mind an asthma attack. The agent bent over, meaning to help, but the patient barked from his bed, “I’m fine! I’m fine. Where’s the Gauntlet?”
The agent couldn’t stop himself from a quick sigh of relief. Finally, a question he had been prepped for.
“In our custody,” he said with clipped, officiating delivery. Neither man said another word for a few moments, and before the agent could reject the impulse, he spoke again, in a tone completely unlike the previous manner he had been so thoroughly trained in. “I have to say, sir, I was a huge fan. My son has all your toys, a poster over his bed. Says he wants to grow up to be Captain Thunder...” The agent tried to gauge any reaction, any opinion in the patient’s face, but the jaded folds were undecipherable. “...Gonna be a hard reality for him.”
“I never saw a dime from all that, y’know,” He coughed before continuing, each sentence seemingly heaved out through tremendous effort. “Why’d I want to? Not like I needed it. That ain’t why I did it, the... the merchandise, publicity, all that pomp... I could fly to Jupiter, tore a Semi in half once, who needs royalties then?”
“You did a lot of good, sir. You really did.” The agent’s words began to grow heavy, more dense. His tongue struggled to lift them. “But there’s...no coming back from this. We’re making sure power of that magnitude never sees daylight again.”
The patient snorted. “Good. No one else gets to play with my toys, damn straight!” His lips curled, either in a smile or a grimace, the agent wasn’t sure, sending spider-web creases all over his cheeks. “Didn’t know it, but the damn thing made me infertile.”
He laughed, an ethereal echo that clattered in his throat, “Did you know that?”
The agent’s skin felt as though it were crawling. His head felt too small and his skull too large, and above all he could feel his cheeks blushing. He noticed that the patient’s eyes gleaming slightly brighter, not from pride or joy, but from longing.
“I didn’t,” the agent said simply.
“Well it did. When I figured it out I didn’t pay much mind, not when there was people to save. ‘Bout three summers ago.”
The agent nodded. “The Somerset Crime Organization.” The agent also recalled viewing court summons and divorce papers in the patient’s records, dated three years previous.
“Yeah.” A pause, as the patient exhaled slowly, then inhaled even more so, his eyes closed in concentration.
The agent heard an urgent beeping outside the room as an emergency blossomed elsewhere. Then the patient resumed speaking.
“I tell you, when it fell out of the sky all those years ago, I almost crashed into a telephone pole. I was quarterback in high school, probably those reflexes that saved me. Scared the hell outta my wife,” his voice trailed off, and his eyes clouded, lost in thought. He coughed again.
The agent nodded, curt, dismissive, but not callous.
“Sir, I have orders that must be fulfilled.” He started forward, but halted, weighing in his head whether or not proceed yet. He found need to stall.
“I need to ask, what were you thinking? What led you to do it?”
“I wanted to be a hero, do the right thing.”
“No, I meant...” the agent swallowed cold bile, his throat clogged solid. “...the incident.”
“Oh.” He began to speak, but the words stuck in his throat and he hacked some more. “They robbed a bank, they were getting away. I had to catch them. I just get mad sometimes, feel like a maid. I mean...”
Another coughing fit rocked his fragile frame.
“...my mom used to fuss about how whenever she cleaned up we’d be right back to dirtying the place in no time. That’s how I felt, sometimes. I just saved you all, couldn’t you...”
His voice grew more ragged, his breathing more labored, his last words coming out in a pant.
“...stay ... saved?”
The agent stiffened and spoke like one reading off of cue cards. “We’ve studied the Gauntlet’s limits. Not practically, like you probably did, but scientifically. The power of a thousand suns, used to catch bank robbers and coke-heads.”
“Someone had to.”
The agent nodded again, more slowly this time, conceding a point. “I-I suppose.”
“I didn’t realize I could do that much damage.” The patient, with considerable effort, rolled his head back, finally looking the agent right in the eyes. “Honestly.”
The agent held the gaze for barely a moment before his eyes fell and he studied the patient’s bed. “Doesn’t undo it.” He said, his voice falling as sharply as his eyes.
The conversation halted. The agent thought of the large plush Captain Thunder toy he’d gotten his son for his birthday, with its floppy, cotton-stuffed limbs and how his son slept with it in his bed. He couldn’t help but notice how the blankets seemed to surround the patient’s body the same way the sheets on his son’s bed did the doll.
“Anything else?” The patient’s voice sounded both sharp and exhausted, and his head bobbed forward, hanging down like a dangling convict in older times. “I’m getting tired.”
“I guess not. I...” The agent licked his lips, steeled himself. “Sir, on behalf of the whole nation, I want to thank you for everything else you did. If I could, I’d say you’d be remembered for the good things, not just for this event.”
The agent had gotten these lines prepared for him, but he tried with all the conviction in his bones to make them ring true.
“But you can’t.”
The agent stood still and was silent.
The patient reclined slightly, coughed again. “Well, get on with it.” He whispered. “I read the paper, I know where this is going.” His withered hand gestured to the table. “Truth and justice, y’know.”
“Thank you for your efforts,” said the agent, his voice as rigid as his rehearsed lines, even though it was not.
His hands moved quickly, mechanically, performing the task before he was truly able to register his actions. He disconnected several tubes from the console next to the patient’s bed.
He picked up the newspaper, headed for the door, hovered, hesitated, his eyes squeezed closed, listening for the deflating-tire hiss of breathing to cease. When the silence descended and persisted long enough to ensure the patient was not faking, the agent turned back halfway, but a cold emptiness in his stomach gripped him and he lost his resolve.
The EndAbout the Author;
Ryan Stevens, 19, lives in Columbia, SC. He grew up in a small rural town on a farm, but writing suits him much better. He likes to write about screw-ups and misanthropes, but every now and then there’s a moral.