Spoil the Rod

Spoil the Rod by Phillip McCollum Don’t spoil the rod, my old master had told me. She’s insatiable and she’ll eat you alive. As I lay for the thirteenth hour in the northeast corner of the castle courtyard, tucked in by thorn-filled blackberry brambles, exhausted and scratched to all hell with ticks burrowed in parts of sweaty flesh they should …

The Missing Poem

The Missing Poem by Phillip McCollum I had forgotten about the book. After digging through my email history, I located my original query. The bookseller offered an automatic notification service for any book which may show up in its inventory, and 642 days ago, I requested a copy of The Twelve Poems of al-Saher. I racked my brain trying to …

Devilleaf

Devilleaf by Phillip McCollum Beneath the king’s oak table, Lurian rolled the smooth glass vial filled with powdered devilleaf in his palm. He thumbed its cork stopper, nervously confirming that it hadn’t fallen out, and with it, any chance of saving his own neck from the king’s chopping block. In truth, if he did not proceed with the girl’s demand, …

The Piano Player

The Piano Player by Phillip McCollum Bobby Murillo was waiting for me. I was on break, carrying a tray with a plate of kung pao chicken and fried rice just past the piano and towards my usual table when I spotted him. He had a grating smile on his chubby face, a shopping bag at his feet, and he was …

Swag

Swag by Phillip McCollum As the convention’s low-level hum of conversation and clatter carried through the black polyester curtains, Gerry flipped the strange device around in her hands. It wasn’t heavy and appeared to be made of cheap tin. Glossy orange paint flaked in spots and cracks formed a pattern of uneven tiles, reminding her of a gaudy bathroom floor …

Apollo’s Revenge

  Apollo’s Revenge by Phillip McCollum This wasn’t the Italy of passionate opera, nor the Italy of Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Maybe it was the Italy of the Romans. Not that Private Hubert Bausman had half a clue about those guys. All he remembered were primary school tales of men in togas who turned Christians into lion chow. And …

The Bubble Man

The Bubble Man by Phillip McCollum They call me The Bubble Man. By ‘they,’ I don’t mean everyone–just the aggrieved citizens. And by ‘me,’ I don’t mean the current me–I have no more bubbles to blow. I’ve blown nothing but stale air for at least two weeks, seeing as how my barrels of stock were kicked over on their sides …

The Runner

The Runner by Phillip McCollum A man is a god in ruins. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature They call this the land of the rising sun, but as I soaked in the rays of a full moon, I thought it was beautiful enough to have equal claim. Leaning against an uncomfortable boulder, I rubbed the sleepiness from my eyes …

Wake

Wake by Phillip McCollum The boy’s eyelids had somehow popped opened again. He stared up into the star-filled heavens. Okomi, his father, shooed away the buzzing flies and swept his hand down over his son’s face. He then turned and made another attempt at fire. The tinder wouldn’t take. The fallen logs were soaked through from a recent rain …

A Hundred Eyes

A Hundred Eyes by Phillip McCollum   Casimir Pitsudski would not stop working. He refused to look back at the one-eyed creature until he was done. With each mark of charcoal, he felt the monster’s rhythm of inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale on the back of his neck. Sweat poured down his face as if a thousand steaming kettles were going …