Flash Fiction Online #114, March 2023
“About Her Bones So Bleak and Bare” by Matthew F. Amati
“Power is Love in the Devil’s Eyes” by Dafydd McKimm
“Wonderful Wounds Await You” by Marisca Pichette
“Upon What Soil They Fed” by Jennifer Mace (reprint, not reviewed)
(Editor’s note: Issue #112 for January was not reviewed here because it contained a reprint and 3 literary stories. We review only genre—SF/F/H—stories and no reprints. Issue #113 for February was not reviewed because it was an all reprint issue.)
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
A trio of original tales blending dark fantasy with surrealism appears in this issue. All three imply more than they reveal, resulting in intriguing works of imaginative fiction.
“About Her Bones So Bleak and Bare” by Matthew F. Amati takes place in a rural setting. A young woman accidentally killed in a farm accident returns from the dead to haunt the narrator and his family. She turns out to have a connection with his daughter. The encounter has a profound effect on the narrator’s wife, who is something other than an ordinary human being.
The story reads as if it were the last chapter of a much longer work. One is left wondering about the relationship between the daughter and the dead woman. It is also hard to imagine how the narrator wound up married to a supernatural creature. The resulting work has an evocative mood but leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.
In sharp contrast to the previous tale, “Power is Love in the Devil’s Eyes” by Dafydd McKimm has a modern, urban setting, and is narrated in a hardboiled, slangy, profanity-laced style. The narrator works in a nightclub/brothel. A man with fish gills walks in, intent on confronting the boss about a deal involving drugs and a woman. The narrator decides where her best interest lies, and acts to ensure she winds up on top.
Although labeled as fantasy, the story can be read as biopunk science fiction, with the man’s gills interpreted as a technological enhancement. Fans of futuristic crime fiction are likely to enjoy it. Some readers may be disturbed by the narrator’s cynicism and the sudden violence at the end.
“Wonderful Wounds Await You” by Marisca Pichette is the magazine’s most surreal story. Written in second person, it describes how you accept a strange invitation to a place where you remove your skin and replace it with other things, such as crustaceans. There is no real plot, other than the bizarre premise. Beautifully written and full of striking images, it is best appreciated as a macabre prose poem.
Victoria Silverwolf left her lunchbox at home tonight.