"The Hermit" by Mark Anthony Smith
The waves crashed, drowning out the crunch of pebbles beneath my feet. It was bitterly cold and I was alone. I hadn't slept and my beard was a tangle like the stuff washed ashore. There were bits of discarded fishing tackle, broken shells and dried out seaweed along the shore. I straightened my woolen hat as my eyes narrowed.
The sun glinted off the smallest shell. It was a cream and bluish helix that had been smoothed by the waves. The horizon was vast but far off. I felt small. I pulled my collar up and walked over to the shell. Picking it up, it felt smooth and fragile. Yet it was a solid structure. I listened to the sea.
"You are a broken man. A shell of a man. Your ancestors crawled from the sea. Yes! From the sea you came and to the sea you must return." It rushed with an age old wisdom. The knowledge of the moon and the tides. I thought about never feeling rooted. I have always drifted.
I removed my hat and coat. I felt small and inconsequential in this big wide world. The shell beckoned me. I succumbed. I crawled inside and felt at home. I was at peace as I waited for the tide to turn.
"Post-It" by Brendan Thomas
“I’m cold, can you fetch me a sweater?” Barbara called up to her daughter, Susan.
Susan entered her mother’s tidy bedroom. No sweater was in sight. “Where is it?” she said.
“Maybe the corner closet.”
Susan opened the closet doors and was immediately confused. The inside doors were covered in post its, almost a hundred to Susan’s eye. She recognized her mother’s hand. At school she’d copied it on excuse notes and school letters home, and knew the individual loops and squiggles better than her own. Puzzled she picked a few off.
My name is Barbara. I live at 5 Croyden Lane.
My husband was Sam. He died last year.
I have two children. My son's name is Ron. He is an Accountant.
My cat’s name is Tiger.
I was born in 1942. My sister’s name is Rita.
Thoughts rushed through Susan’s mind but she couldn’t catch them. She heard her mother’s footsteps. Susan grabbed the sweater, rocking back and forth, weeping quietly. Barbara looked at the closet door in silence.
“Mum. What’s happening?” Barbara looked into her daughter’s eyes. “My life is disappearing. My memories, experiences, my abilities are leaving me. I’m confused Susan. Some days I don’t know who I am or where I’ve been and it frightens me.” Susan embraced her mother, refusing to let go. She ran her fingers slowly through her hair, stroked her cheek, and
kissed her forehead.
“I promise I will never let you forget.” Later Barbara wrote a note for her closet.
My daughter’s name is Susan.
"Blue Horizons" by Jacqueline Harrett
"What do you mean the side effects could be permanent?" Zelda glared at Erik. "When you gave me the drugs you said that any side effects should be temporary. At no point did you say 'permanent.'"
Erik blinked and shuffled the papers on his desk. He coughed. "Yes, well....it seems the air on Mars made unexpected changes to your physiology and altered the way the drugs worked. Unexpected changes, you understand...which appear to be..." he took a deep breath, "...irreversible." He forced himself to look up at Zelda. She looked just as beautiful as the day she’d set off on the mission to Mars, twenty years ago. He swallowed, trying to keep his voice steady. "There have been benefits too, Zelda. No signs of ageing such as loss of muscle tone or...loose skin..."
"But my skin is blue, Erik. I’m a freak."
"The other side effects are..."
"Don’t try to calm me down. I know what they are. The superhuman strength comes with a desire to kill someone. Anyone. There has to be an antidote and you’d better find it quickly."
Zelda slapped a hand on the desk which cracked and collapsed. Erik’s papers slid to the floor and he could feel his heart rate increasing.
"I...we’re working on something but..."
"Sort it or you’ll be sorry. Everyone on this little planet will be sorry."
She left the room, slamming the door in her wake. Erik collapsed into a chair. There was no solution, no antidote. Sweat beaded his upper lip. What had he done? He knew, to his horror, that he’d released a beautiful monster into the world.