PBFF’s reading period is now closed.

Another reading period has come to an end at Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction!  Thank you to all the fantastic authors who submitted their work.

At some point during this coming week, I will be making the decisions about the 2018 selections, so watch your inboxes!

Thanks again for your interest in Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction!  Happy holidays!

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J.L. Fullerton – The Harvest

The Harvest

By J.L. Fullerton

The motor of the old tractor hummed and purred steadily, sounding somehow melodic amongst the relative silence of the flat, open space. Bathed in early spring sunshine, beneath the expansive ocean of a bright blue, cloudless sky, the diesel-slurping machine guided the disc harrow around the field in a majestic dance. A thin stream of serpentine dust trailed behind, twisting and twirling upward, slowly fanning out like a giant dragon with massive wings outstretched, before drifting apart and dissipating slowly into nothingness.

The lumpy soil, black as coal, was quickly reduced to a fine powder as the sharp points jutting from each of the rapidly rotating circular steel plates shredded and pulverized all within their path.

Ahead, a shape jutted from the earth defiantly; it practically taunted him, stubbornly standing in stark contract to the flat land all around.

It looked like narrow sliver of jagged rock at first, but as he steered toward it for a closer look, recognition struck him like a bullet.

What the hell? That’s impossible….

His brow furrowed as he contemplated a tangible explanation for what his eyes were telling him.

He shook his head—it didn’t matter.

The problem was easily rectified.

Whistling a tune softly to himself, restoring the wide grin on his face, he jammed the shift lever forward. A soft grinding sound filled the cab as the transmission initially resisted his efforts, before finally conceding the higher gear.

The machine lurched forward, picking up speed as the exhaust pipe belched out a thick jet of inky, black smoke.

The front tire bounced over the troublesome thing, followed by the much larger rear tire.

Bounced from his seat, he giggled like a child on an amusement park ride, his face split by a wide smirk, eyes bulging with a crazed intensity.

Twisting around, he shouted in triumph as the disc blades pulverized the thing; it burst open like an cherry tomato squished between the fingers.

He recoiled slightly as a strip of bloody flesh splattered against the rear window of the cab, mere inches from his face.

He shouted gleefully as the deathly pallid skin, soggy and wrinkled, slowly slid down the glass, leaving a narrow smear of ruby-red liquid in its wake. The once vibrant smudge grew dark and discoloured almost instantly, swarmed by the microscopic particles of dirt magnetically drawn toward the wet stickiness like crows to a carrion feast.

Reaching the bottom of the window, the paper-white swatch plummeted to the ground below, where it was immediately devoured by the hungry blades of the disc.

Through the cloud of dust, he saw that only a few small tufts of yellowish hair remained visible behind him, very much resembling the delicate stalks of wheat that would soon enough burst forth from the ground.

An insanely gleeful, triumphant shout filled the cab as he shifted gears once more and stomped the accelerator to the floor, sending the tractor racing off into the dusty beyond.

 

J.L. Fullerton is a writer & blogger from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada, who specializes in horror and speculative fiction. When not locked in his basement office writing, he works as a teacher, teaching everything from Kindergarten to high school English, in addition to enjoying time spent with his wife and son. J.L. Fullerton can be contacted via his Twitter handle @horrorscribe85, and maintains a blog at https://jlf85.wordpress.com/, which consists of reflective posts pertaining to a variety of different topics including current events and the nature of this crazy thing we call life!

Joanna Michal Hoyt – Passage

Passage

by Joanna Michal Hoyt

Steady, now. Walk this way. Straight toward me.

No, of course you can’t see me in this dark, but there’s nothing the matter with your hearing. Come on now….

Don’t lurch sideways like that! Your bedside light’s not there. Your flashlight’s not there. There’s nothing to the side of you but empty space. The bridge is under your feet, but it’s narrow, only a step across. Believe me, you don’t want to fall. There’s nothing and no one to catch you.

That’s right, no one. I’m only a voice. You’ll be rid of me soon enough.

Dreaming? You could call it that. Yes, you’ll wake up in time. But what will you wake to? That depends on what you do now.

Drop that. It won’t help you here. You all come here clutching something–some weapon, some talisman, some precious thing to pay your passage. It doesn’t serve. Keep your hands open to feel the air, to test your balance.

Talking won’t help. There’s no one but me to hear you now. Be quiet. Keep looking into the dark. Soon you’ll be able to see the shapes of things.

Yes, the bridge is getting narrower, but you can still walk it. No, you can’t see the far end. Go on. Don’t stare over the sides. You won’t see bottom. There is none.

Steady now. Watch your step. Never mind the lights out there. You can’t go to them, and they can’t come to you. All they can do is blind your eyes so that you miss your footing.

Steady! Look at your feet! You can’t go to her. The bridge doesn’t run that way. She can’t help you. She’s not there. It’s only your wanting that called her image out of the air. It’s not even a true image. Her shoulders were never really that broad. She couldn’t keep you from the worst things, even back where you came from. Here you’re on your own.
You see? She’s fading now, she’s changing….

Steady. Don’t flinch so or you’ll fall. Keep your eyes open. She can’t hurt you here. Her face looks like an evil reflection of yours, I know; looks more that way than it ever did in life. It’s your fear that makes it so, and your fear that makes her seem so tall, so menacing. And the things she’s saying about you–they’re almost true, but they’re a little worse than truth.

UNCOVER YOUR EARS!

That’s better. You’ll need to be able to hear me. And see, as soon as you stop cringing, her voice fades away….

Watch your step. The bridge is still narrowing–your feet are wider than it is. Sore? I don’t wonder. Keep going.

Steady. You can’t reach her. You can’t help her. She’s not here. Even if she were she’d have to choose her own way. She always did. You were right to tell her that, even if she did cry and ask you why you couldn’t just be comforting. There were things you could do for her back there, and you did them, and they weren’t enough. There’s nothing you can do for her now. See, she’s gone. All right, cry if you must, but pay attention to where you’re going. If you can make it to the end you might meet real people to help again.

Keep going. Don’t stare at her. You can’t stand still on this thin edge without falling. Yes, I see that disappointed look she has. I know why she looked that way at you before. You can’t make amends now. You might have, back then, but you were too busy envying her strength and wanting her to like you, you didn’t notice how lonely she was until too late. You didn’t do her much harm. She came here with empty hands. She passed. She’s not here now.

Steady! If you’d fallen just then–

The lights are gone. That’s better. No, I don’t suppose you do like the plain dark, but at least it won’t distract you. Keep going.

That’s right, the bridge stops here. No, you didn’t miss a turning. There aren’t any.

No, of course you can’t walk all the way across. You can’t stand still here much longer, either. The wind’s already starting to tug at you, and it’ll get stronger as you wait. Strong enough to knock you off the bridge–it wouldn’t take that much, you know. Strong enough, also, to carry you where you need to go.

No, not where you want to go. Why would you expect that?

Yes, you can turn back around, or try to; walk all the way back, if your feet will hold you; wake up as you fell asleep, only a little wearier, a little less real. I can’t stop you. But if you want to finish the journey you’ll have to let the wind take you.

Where? How should I know? You don’t have time to fret over that. You can’t teeter here on the edge much longer. You’ll have to turn back now if at all, or raise your arms now and let the wind take you, or stand there like an idiot until you fall.

That’s the way. I told you it would hold you up.

Yes, they’re all there; the child you sang to, the guest you welcomed, the old man who told you stories, the girl who asked you hard questions, the white quartz in the black brook, the walnut tree shedding its leaves, all the things that gave you strength to keep going back there in the dark. You can’t hold them, no, but you can see them now, for just a moment, before….

It’s good to see you laughing. Go well. You’re going beyond my ken. Wherever you wake up it will be morning.

 

Joanna Michal Hoyt lives with her family on a Catholic Worker farm in upstate NY where she spends her days tending gardens, goats and guests and her evenings reading and writing odd fiction. Her stories have appeared in publications including Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and the Mysterion anthology of Christian speculative fiction. 

MFC Feeley – Lazy Brandr

Lazy Brandr

by MFC Feeley

“And the witch rowed up in a stone boat—” Lazy Brandr told the children.

“Glug, glug—I’m drowning in my stone boat! Help! Why didn’t I listen to my elders? Why didn’t I use wood or oilskin? Help me, help—”. The woman in burgundy velvets writhed on the deck. The children swarmed around her. “Feed me, feed me!” she barked. The children tossed bits of rúgbrauð into her snapping mouth. When the bread was gone, she laughed heartily and stood smoothing her skirt.

“You looked like a bedeviled seal,” complained Lazy Brandr, who had counted on the children’s rúgbrauð for his breakfast.

“Better than a witch,” she answered, slicing the air with her hands in imitation of the sharp green mountains of the approaching coast.

Lazy Brandr stood next to her. “Are you certain of that?” The girl shrugged and danced a few feet closer to the rigging. Lazy Brandr followed. He pretended to test the anchor.

“Be-fairyed maybe. Take care and a seal will chew through that rope,” she said.

“You mean ‘or’ a seal—” and with a splash she was overboard. Lazy Brandr was lazy, but he was brave. He dove after her.

The crew cursed at having to haul Lazy Brandr from the water. Everyone laughed at his story, for no one, not even the children, recalled the beautiful woman in burgundy velvet.

“And she stole your rúgbrauð? Stay here, Lazy Brandr,” said the captain, “and mind the boat while I attend my business in Reykjavik. I’ll give you a loaf for your trouble.”

No sooner had the crew and passengers surged ashore than the boat began to drift. Lazy Brandt pulled at the anchor.

The rope was chewed through.

It was a beautiful day and Lazy Brandt was not afraid. He made slicing motions with his hand and cut an image of the receding coast until he heard barking behind him. A seal, young and soft, had landed on the deck. Lazy Brandr was lazy, but he was kind. He approached the creature with the simple caution he afforded any frightened thing. The animal arched her back and opened her mouth.

Lazy Brandr tore a piece of his bread and tossed it in.

After that, Brandr was never lazy. He broke a sweat each morning and strained his muscles every night ferrying the good people of Reykjavik where they needed to go until at last he bought the business from his boss. Yet those who wished to travel in the afternoon spent hours watching the increasing population of seal pups play in the waves, for every midday Brandr bought a fresh rúgbrauð from the baker and drifted just beyond the horizon.

Love takes many forms. Lucky Brandr’s required privacy.

 

MFC Feeley lives in Tuxedo, NY and attended UC Berkeley and NYU. She has published in The Tishman Review, Mainstreet Rag, WicWas, The Bees Are Dead, Ghost Parachute, Plate In The Mirror and others. She was a 2016 fellow at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and received a scholarship to the 2015 Wesleyan Writers Conference. She has been nominated for Best Small Fictions 2016 and was a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. She has been a volunteer judge for Mash Stories and Scholastic. More at MFC Feeley/Facebook.

Submit your flash fiction! Here are the guidelines.

READING PERIOD:  NOW CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS.

YES, PLEASE:

Flash fiction stories only.  Word count: 1,000 or less.

English language only.

Original work only.

Genre: science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, humour, western, mystery, literary…and any variation or combination thereof.  If in doubt, send it along – you never know.

Multiple submissions:  feel free to send up to three (3) submissions during the reading period.  Please send each submission separately.

Simultaneous submissions: all good. If your story is selected for publication elsewhere, please contact me right away to withdraw it from my consideration.

NO, THANK YOU:

Word count over the limit.

Poetry, non-fiction, essays, children’s stories, anything other than flash fiction.

Erotica, excessive gore, abuse, or ‘isms such as racism, sexism, etc..

Overly saucy language.  I don’t mind swear words, I just would prefer to keep the content on the site closer to the PG side of things.

Reprints.

Stories sent outside of the reading period.

Artwork.

Queries. They’re not necessary.  Send me your work if you think there’s a chance I might like it.  Please don’t ask me about your submission after you’ve sent it. I will get back to you within one month.

FORMATTING:

I’m not picky about fonts or font sizes or margins or paragraph indentations or anything of the sort.  I will format your work to fit the site if it is accepted for publication.  If your story has an experimental form and I accept it, we’ll work together to ensure it is posted properly.

Cover letters are not required.

Your contact information (mailing address, email address, name) MUST be included somewhere in your submission.

Please watch your spelling and grammar – if your story is littered with errors, I am likely to give it less of a chance.  Don’t worry about American/Canadian/British spelling; I’ll sort it all out.

If edits are required, I will make them and send you the proof for confirmation before publication on the website.

If your work is accepted, I will ask for a short bio.  This will be an opportunity to add a link to your author’s website or blog.

RENUMERATION:

If your story is accepted for publication, you will be paid $5.00 (Canadian funds).  Please note that if you live in certain countries outside of Canada, the exchange rate may mean you don’t quite make five bucks from your story.  I’m sorry about that, but if it’s a problem, please don’t send me your work.  Payment will be issued via cheque.  This is why I need a current mailing address.  Your bank must be able to cash a cheque that is issued in Canadian funds.

  • If your story is published in the months of January, February, or March, you will be issued payment on the first of January.
  • If your story is published in the months of April, May, or June, you will be issued payment on the first of April.
  • If your story is published in the months of July, August, or September, you will be issued payment on the first of July.
  • If your story is published in the months of October, November, or December, you will be issued payment on the first of October.

PUBLICATION:

Authors retain all rights to their work.

Bear in mind that if your story is posted on Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction (or anywhere else on the Internet, for that matter), you may not be able to submit it to another publisher as it will be considered a “reprint.”

If, for some reason, you wish to withdraw your story from Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction’s website, please send me a message and I’ll remove it as quickly as I can.  Again, it will still count as a “reprint” in the view of a future publisher, even if it has only been posted for a short time.

If your story is accepted, I will let you know when I plan to post it on the website.  It will be posted on the first day of that month.

OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW:

In this first year of Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction’s existence, I will only be accepting twelve (12) stories for publication.

I will send you a confirmation of receipt of your story within 48 hours of your submission.

I must apologize, but I cannot offer more than a form rejection letter at this time.

SEND SUBMISSIONS via the Contact Form.