Magic and Mayhem is a sampler collection of short stories by Julianne Q Johnson. I found each of the stories superior to the usual offering of teasers. Proof of this is that based on my reading of these I will find and read the author’s longer works.

The Animal A girl is running through a forest pursued by a beast. She is able to cast some spells which she knows are a bit immature but if they slow the beast down and she keeps running she may be able to escape. Every spell she tries seems to slow the beast but the inevitability of her capture seems certain. Until she remembers one final trick. And her mother’s bothersome boyfriend will bother her no more. But there are consequences.

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A New Look at CYA

In an earlier post, I mentioned that some readers don’t pay too much attention to book covers. I believe that to be the case with Temp Girl by Stephanie Bond. Her cover with cool tag line invites a reader’s interest. Then there is the other side of the coin. I received an alert from Brendan Detzner about the publication of this short story (it wasn’t described as a short story in the alert). I have been entertained by Detzner writings for a long time and, even more important, they spurred my son’s interest in reading. With a title like Hot Chicks Infected With Stomach Parasites, there was no way I was not going to read it and then post some comments. A provocative title like this dares the reader to ignore it. (Yep, I know about the earlier double negative. Dare to break the rules).

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The Final Cut

Final Thoughts by Jaxon Reed is a very short story with a very abrupt, definite, short ending. We don’t know the narrator’s name but he won’t be around long enough for us to worry about. He is about to be executed. While the ending is definite, he has some choices about the method. Lethal injection looks like the best bet, the least painless. The firing squad is definitely out. He might get poor marksmen. Doc offered him the guillotine. What?? Why would anyone do that?

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Dad’s Collection, My Collection

Tiny Trophies by Adam Hughes is an extremely short story which is also extremely weird. This is one of those you probably don’t want your kids to read although it is in the tradition of the original before it was cleaned up for children, Brothers Grimm. The selection is only eight Kindle pages which I believe to be more like flash fiction.

“Tiny” is a size. That is apparent from the story. But it also might be the narrator’s name. I am going to assume so because it is convenient to have the one word serve two meanings.

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Dangers Aboard Ship

Sixty-Four Days by Malcolm Torres is a short story of the sea. The main story takes up 64% of the e-pub. It is followed by a sneak preview of Sailors Take Warning. This is a sampler for the works of Malcolm Torres, not truly a short story. Readers won’t find a true conclusion to either story; there are conclusions to two “incidents,” one in each story, but these incidents could not take place in isolation. Readers will have questions.

I found the writing completely fascinating and will be looking for other, expanded writing by this author. Part of the fascination for me is that the lives of US Navy sailors are completely new to me as is the description of the capabilities of Navy ships depicted. One is an unidentified aircraft carrier, the other is the USS Nimitz. Therefore, I predict that these stories will not only attract Navy veterans but readers such as myself, novices to maritime life but attracted to innovative descriptive writing.

Read this, it’s good.

Only the Lonely

Just past the table of contents page on what might be called the title page of the short story Leviathan by Saul Tanpepper we see this: “a short story about the end of the world.” There is something appealing to me about the contrast in the phrase. This short story was published in 2016 and was free through Instafreebies and the author’s newsletter. On the Amazon site, it costs USD 0.99. The tale produces its own kind of horror, particularly for those who are concerned about the steady deterioration of our planet as manifested in the steadily growing extinction of a number of species. In this case, what is extinct is (almost) all forms of animal life. As Father, or Hunter, said to Child (no name) “You don’t know the taste of flesh, he once told me. You don’t understand the sweetness of meat, why we hunted them all, down to the very last one.” (Kindle location 93-94).

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A Homeless Life

A Stain on the Street by Ric Rae is a short story I received free through Instafreebie and the author’s mailing list. It is a very short story and this will be a very short review.

Readers will not know the name of the narrator but we can call him “Captain.” That is what other street people call him when they give him money or food. Sometimes they laugh at him with sarcasm but he still appreciates the identification. It is important to have some gimmick to serve as ID on the street.

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