Apocalyptic Visions – Mike Adamson

Her first vision had been of a car crash at the end of her street, when she was five, but it may have been coincidence–just a child’s dream. The next, the passing of a neighbour’s pet, a year later, cast doubt on scepticism, and when at eight she foretold the death of a school master her parents placed her in the care of a psychiatrist. Beth Trudeau was special, and her whole life through she had lamented the loss of the innocence that comes from ignorance.

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Wishmaker – Kaitlyn Reese

The wind left footprints on my walls as the stars left broken wishes hanging off my lips. Tomorrow was the first day of fifth grade and I wasn’t even going – I couldn’t. The sinewy air was choking me enough that I couldn’t eat. I felt the tension like I was a rope but somehow, I couldn’t sense what was coming next.  

Breath. The sound echoed off my room’s starry atmosphere.  

Breath. I released it like I wished I could release my pain.  

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Who the Hell is Freddy Stanton? – Mike Murphy

Nine American cities were attacked in the first hour. Among the rubble and twisted metal lay many thousands of corpses, all glowing an eerie pink from the Kilparkians’ quantum bombs. The aliens’ triangular ships hovered high in the air, waiting to send down more death. The allies tried to assist, but their weapons were swatted from the sky.

President Cooper had no choice but to unconditionally surrender. Lt. Donald Berkner sent the message skyward. It didn’t take long for the aliens to respond. 

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Beacon – Gina Burgess

Tom stared at a greeting card of a chubby man in a red suit with a face obscured by a beard. Tom had heard of beards, but he’d never seen one. Only grown-ups could grow them.

He looked to Anna, the closest person he’d ever known to a grown-up. She was busily taping cardboard over the broken windscreen of a rusty, roadside car, which was to be their brand-new home. Earlier, glass fragments and crimson stains had covered the seats. Anna had sent Tom away until she’d cleaned.

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The Protector – Tom Howard

Smoky, Sir Reginald Immodeus Alexander and forty-seven other names from his long and illustrious lineage, sat on the kitchen table watching a flitzard taking shape.  The fibrous creatures couldn’t take form if they were watched, and this one struggled before it died a frustrated death. Flitzards affected human brains, making people fuzzy and distracted.  Smoky’s human charge, Charlie, acted fuzzy enough already.

“Listen, Smoky.”  Charlie peered over his newspaper.  “It says here domesticated cat brains are shrinking.  You have a walnut-sized brain.”

Smoky licked his paws to show how credible he found the newspaper article.  He wished Charlie would take his bike off the wall and leave. His twitching whiskers predicted something bad was coming through from the other side, and the sooner Charlie was out of the battle zone, the better.

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The Ballad of Robinson Clyde – Alexander D Jones

Down in the valley that nobody knows the name of lives a very old man. A man who’d seemingly been there since time began. He was the last line of defence. Nobody had asked him, he took it upon himself. 

He sat in his hut, four walls, three windows, two doors, one roof. All hours he sat. Waiting. Watching. Waiting. Watching the skies. Guarding the valley that nobody knows the name of.

They always landed in the valley, never quite the same place, never the same time, but every day, one came. Down in the valley that nobody knows the name of. 

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Behind the Wall – Hamilton Perez

It was the middle of the night that woke her. Savannah sat in bed, soaked with sweat, listening intently for the sound that woke her to come again. “Is someone there?” she asked the dark with shaky confidence, like she’d asked it a thousand times before and was still waiting for an answer.

The strange noise returned — thump, thump, thump, thump, thump — and Savannah couldn’t help comparing it to the once familiar sound of a husband returning home late from work, or a son sneaking back into the house at 3 a.m., or a knock at the door from a grim-faced policeman that signaled the end of the world. They weren’t really comparable, but she compared them all the same.

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Quid Pro Quo – Mark Keane

I was uneasy the minute I saw the Police Scotland crown and thistle crest on the envelope. I put the letter to one side, tried to ignore it and then tore it open. My assistance was required with on-going enquiries. I was to report to Chief Inspector Baillie, Edinburgh Division. There was no explanation but I knew it had to do with the accident. 

That started me thinking again, the same what ifs. What if I hadn’t gone to the retirement party? What if I had reacted differently? I shouldn’t have gone, I shouldn’t have stayed, I shouldn’t have spoken to Westacott and Macgregor and let them get to me. Shouldn’t, shouldn’t, shouldn’t but I did. There was no one I could confide in and I was sick of hearing the same well-intended advice. Don’t beat yourself up about it, I was told. It wasn’t your fault. You can’t change what happened. Life must go on. It was easy to be sympathetic, easy to blithely say what’s done is done but I had to live with the consequences. 

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