fiction

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Blackout

Lessons in the dark – fiction by Daniel Tam-Claiborne

AN EXCERPT FROM WHAT NEVER LEAVES

In non-coastal cities in America, area blackouts are about as common as getting struck by lightning or becoming infected by West Nile Virus. They’re so rare even that the simple mention of a date and place can often conjure up memories of an exact moment in a person’s life.

In Taigu, Shanxi province, where I was teaching English for two years, area blackouts occurred about as frequently as trips to the dry cleaners. Rare was it that a few weeks passed without our breakers going haywire and the school losing power to one half of campus or the other.

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Beige Spirit

History repeats itself in Inner Mongolia – short fiction by Jeff J Brown

 

Every day after school, Xiao Ding came sprinting across the fields to be with Beige Spirit, his parents’ gift for his thirteenth birthday. His father had offered as many pointers as he could and, for months Xiao Ding did his best to exert mastery over the big, tall gelding horse. But the beast was downright contemptible. Xiao Ding had tried everything: food, love, brushings, wash downs and even whispering in the big beast’s ears, as its huge, black eyes gazed down menacingly. Over the months, Xiao Ding came to realise that their relationship had become a war of dominion. Only one of them could be the boss and, for now, Beige Spirit was winning hands down.

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Editor in Brief

A short story by Susie Gordon

THIS STORY FIRST APPEARED IN HALITERATURE

 

My name is Tom Winston, for all the good it does me. I remember when a name like mine used to mean something in Shanghai. Being Tom Winston opened doors. 

We journalists think we own the city, and in a way, we do. A part of it, at least. Don’t ask us why we’re here instead of working on a broadsheet back home. We’ll only wane lyrical that the jackboot of censorship is preferable to the sheepskin shoe-boot of some cashmere-clad Daddy’s girl who lisped her way into the editor’s chair of some gently right-wing rag.

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The Copycats

How to fake it – a short story by Aaron Fox-Lerner

THIS STORY FIRST APPEARED IN CONCRETE FLUX

 

You can find a replica of a Chinese copy of a French village in the Santa Monica Mountains in California. It's up in the hills a bit, but if you don't mind dirt roads it's possible to drive all the way there.

It was supposed to be for a movie. The American spy hero has to stop a mercenary sleeper cell in the Chinese military from carrying out a coup and nuking America. One of the screenwriters had read about these fake European villages they have in China and decided to set an action sequence there. They couldn't shoot the film in China if the story had bad guys in the Chinese government, so they needed a version in America.

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Patrolman and Pumpkin

A short story by Hannah Lincoln

 

 
It’s been months since I switched from tea to coffee, and Master Liu has never stopped berating me for my choice.

“Tea is very healthy! It keeps you warm and strong. Little Li, you listen to me – coffee is nothing but dirt dug up in the West! It does not care for your well-being as tea does. I am already seventy and healthy as an ox thanks to long jin.”

Sometimes he is seventy, other times sixty. On really cold nights he is as old as eighty-three. In winter he usually claims to be older, as if preparing his own obituary.

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