ssProfessor Applebaum drove down the dark, highway barely able to keep his eyes open. He was still about two hours away from the small, college in Ohio where he was to deliver a lecture on the significance of linguistic evolution in modernist and post-modernist poetry. He could barely keep his eyes open and his stomach growled with hunger.

He saw several signs advertising sustenance of the greasy spoon variety. He got off at the advised exit and drove down a dark winding road that seemed to go on for miles. He saw a sign that said Billy Bob’s Truck Stop.  He speed up a bit at the thought of the delectable food he was about to eat when all of a sudden a bright light flashed in front of him and he felt an enormous thud. He got out of his car in a daze. Standing before him was a little green man with antennas. He had his hands on his hips and was looking at the enormous dent that Professor Applebaum’s Honda had left in his small, square shaped space craft.

“Look at this!” The creature exclaimed. “What are you going to do about this!”

“Um, I….I mean I have insurance its Allstate. Just let me get my card.”

“Are you being series, what mechanic on this planet is going to know how to fix a craft like this, huh, answer me that?”

“So then you are a …an, um I mean a space alien.”

“I prefer the term non sapien earth resident.”

“I see. Well perhaps I can just give you some money and you can go to a planet where you can get it fixed. Is it still flyable?”

“Not to where it will make it to another planet. Someone will have to come down and help me. I’m afraid he won’t take your currency.”

“Well, I really am sorry.”

“Look, there is a way you can help me. I trust you were on your way to the truck stop.,” the creature said.”

“Yes, I was.”

“Well you can buy me dinner. I’m just going to hide my craft in the  forest. I’m Squark, by the way.

“Thomas Applebaum,” the professor said putting out a hand.

Applebaum and the alien arrived at the truck stop about fifteen minutes later. Applebaum was certain that someone would see them and think that his companion was a child in a costume or they would get out a shot gun and kill them both. Instead they walked in unnoticed and sat down in a corner booth. They each ordered large meals with a big basket of onion rings to share. Squark drank beer while Applebaum drank coffee.

“So what do you do” The Squark asked stuffing an onion ring in what Applebaum had assumed was his ear.

“I’m a professor of English at the University of Chicago.”

“Wow, I’ve heard of that place. Are you just taking a road trip?”

“I’m giving a lecture at Oberlin. But, more importantly what brings you here?”

“I’m a research scientist. My planet is dangerously underpopulated. I’m here to study mating habits of earthlings.”

“I see, well we are a rather populous species. How do you go about getting subject?”

“Craigslist, mostly. Occasionally I’ll find people on Facebook or a local watering hole.”

“I’ve noticed people who’ve had encounters with ali…I mean with non sapien earth residents, often hail from the south, is that why you chose Kentucky?”

“Actually, I chose it because it was centrally located. But, that’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. You see the demographic of the people we normally abdu…recruit tends to be low income, middle-aged Caucasians who are not particularly well educated. We’d like to have more educated test subjects.”

“I see, “said Applebaum uncomfortably.

“We in the non sapian community also need to have more credibility and respect and we can really only do this if we affiliate ourselves with more sophisticated people.”

“Uh huh,” Applebaum gulped his coffee.

“I’d like you to participate in a study. It wouldn’t involve anything more than answering a few questions.”

“Well, I’m very flattered, but it’s just that I’m awfully busy.”

“Well, you did ding my ship.”

“How long would it take?”

“A few hours. Of course we would also asked to, you know go on the news and talk about your experience taking the test.”

“I’m afraid I wouldn’t be willing to do that…”

“Why not?”

“Well, I mean a lot of people you know, doubt your existence and well, I have a certain reputation to uphold.”

“That’s why we want you. You’re very credible.”

“Well, I’d like to keep it that way. I don’t understand this, if you want people to know about you why don’t you just tell them yourselves.”
“We tried that on YouTube, but we only got twellve likes. People said our costumes were stupid. We can’t go on the news, someone would try to kill us.”

“Well, I will take the test, but that’s all.”

Suddenly Applebaum began to feel dizzy. The room began to spin and so did the faces of the dozen or so bearded strangers that were in the restaurant.

When Applebaum awoke he was lying on a comfortable bed in a dark room. He looked out the window and so stars flying by him at an astounding rate. He sprang to his feet and hit his head on the ceiling. He sat back down and Squark came into the room carrying a note pad.

“Okay, Mr. Applebaum, now maybe we can begin.”


The Winner of The Second Annual Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest

The Southbound Transit Line

By Barrett Johnson

The smoke from Train 229 poured out from the tunnel and swirled into the yellow station air. It danced and puffed at every chilly commuter like a man blowing cigarette smoke into the face of a dog. Ah, Detroit! The last haven for the cynical optimist clinging bitterly to every moment of despair with the absolute certainty that there is no place to go but up. Such was Kevin Troweler, morning train fare.

It’s been this cold since May, fucking 1971, thought Kevin. Even this car is cold. The seats are cold, how are the seats cold?!

Kevin glared at the neighboring commuters, who were in turn glaring daggers at everyone else. The frost that inched up along the windows was painting a design upon the glass like varicose veins upon the arm. The silver metal that jostled and trembled over the tracks in the darkness leaned gently into the palest shade of blue. God dammit, thought Kevin. God dammit.

At the end of the carriage, a woman stood up. No one seemed to notice; her clothes were plain and bundled against the chill. Kevin leaned forward to stare down past the row of glaring faces and towards the woman. There was no telling if she was pretty, wrapped up as she was, but Kevin looked anyway and the woman looked back.

We’re not even halfway to the next stop, Kevin mused, what a tourist. Yet try as he might to berate her very existence, there was something about the woman, something that stirred in Kevin and took him back to the roaring radiator that was pressed against his single bed in his single cozy room. Kevin loved that room. And the more he looked at the figure, the more Kevin was overcome with a deep and consuming desire for her. Kevin wanted to rip off every layer of clothing the woman had and take her right there in the cold carriage, while all the wind‐burned faces never stopped exchanging evil looks. He wanted to shrug off the cold and stand up as well. He wanted to keep riding the train until it rumbled to the end of the line, noone still in the cars but two bundled figures, standing in the middle of carriage number Seven. Kevin shook himself and leaned back into his seat. Calm down,dummy, you’re fantasizing about a giant pile of coats.

Definitely a female pile of coats though. Definitely that.

A sudden undeniable urge came over Kevin, and he sharply stood up as well. His bad running knee wobbled, disapproving in a crotchety way this sudden act of betrayal after having just bent to sit down. Kevin felt a rush of blood to his face, felt himself redden. He was sure every single person on this rickety old train was staring at him in the same way he had been staring at the woman a moment ago. Kevin felt dizzy, and realized standing up so quickly had even upset his inner ear.

“What are you doing?” a voice said from Kevin’s hip. Kevin looked down to see a teenage girl’s face demandingly glaring up at him from the seat across.

“Oh, I’m – well I just thought I’d stand.” Kevin felt his face redden further.

“We’re only ten minutes out, it’s another fifteen ‘til the next stop.” the young girl spat.

Dammit, how come that woman got away with it and I didn’t?

“I know, I know, just…” Kevin bent over and struggled at touching his knee, “feels good to stretch, you know? Cold air. Stiffens the bones.”

“Sit down, man, you’re freaking me out.”

“You sit down.” This was not going well. Kevin looked over to the standing woman for help, but the ‘Statue of North Face’ said nothing, and gave no indication she even registered Kevin’s plight. All around him, the commuter mob began staring intently at their phones and e‐readers.

“Ugh, you’e the worst.” the girl bemoaned, slumping back into her seat.

Kevin stood quietly in the aisle of the train. There would be no sitting down now, it would mean he had lost a battle he had not intended to fight, which he then proceeded to fight anyway. He stared at the white tile smudged with brown mud. He stared at the windows and their icy veins. He stared at the metal in the ceiling, cracking and falling apart. It was the worst moment he’d had in weeks, but… much to Kevin’ chagrin… at admitting things could only get better. It could only go up. Still, he never dared look at the girl sitting next to him, or the woman in the jackets.

Fifteen agonizing minutes passed and still Kevin stood. His knee hurt, and he wanted desperately to sit back down but he knew he had weathered the worst of the storm. When Train 229 hissed and billowed into the next station, Kevin got off. The air was orange here, not yellow. The sky was clearer and the wind less blistering, and though it was still desperately cold, Kevin decided to let his train leave him. He would catch the next one.

Better to leave that one behind, he thought. And as the

whistle blew, sending smoke puffing into Kevin’s face upon the platform, Kevin sat down on a nearby bench. His knees gave in gratefully, and he folded his arms into his chest against the cold. That’s better, he thought. That was much better.

Here is an interview with the winner:


The Runner Up In The Second Annual Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest

Strawberry Fields

By Dana Lee

I had just gotten out of a hot shower. The bathroom filled up with so much steam that I could write “Can you feel it?” on the mirror. Sitting on a comfy king-sized bed in a luxurious modern five-star hotel room, I wait. The room rests on the 75th floor of an 80-story building. The windows stand floor to ceiling and I left the shades open to watch the stars.

    The mattress is covered in beige satin sheets. The pillows are soft, fluffy and smell like laundry detergent. I decided to eat a small piece of dark chocolate I had placed on the night stand. The housekeeper had left it on my pillow. After tossing the cold smooth cocoa in my mouth I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Suddenly, I started feeling a change.

    It was a colorful kind of change. My senses slowly started altering themselves. The chocolate in my mouth had melted and I craved more. As I looked out the window for a bit longer the stars seemed brighter. The moon seemed so low to the ground that if I stepped out on the balcony and reached my arm out, I’d be able to touch it and it would feel like velvet.

     It hit me like a rough slap to the face that I had to leave this hotel room to satisfy my craving. While struggling to pull my tight jeans up, I tripped over my feet and fell on the bed at least five times. After finally getting them on and fastening the zipper, the color contrast of the room started to appear brighter and brighter.

     My red jacket that hung on the coat rack was sparkling; I put it on. The champagne glass chilled on the night stand across the room but I could hear the bubbles popping as if they were fizzing right next to my ear. White paint on the walls made the room glow as if it was empty. I smelled roses in the air but I couldn’t figure out where the scent was coming from. I started sniffing everything in sight until I became face to face with the door. Opening it I tried to pull my mentality together as I walked down the hallway, but it was impossible. I thought, “Well, I hope I look sober.”

    I took the elevator down to the main lobby. I headed towards the door happily waving goodbye to the man standing beside it. I was in the best mood I could ever dream of, but after stepping outside, the world didn’t seem so pleasant anymore.

    I was in New York City. The world was turning upside down. Civilized life began to walk backwards instead of forward. I stood in the middle of the sidewalk with people on their cell phones passing by me talking like Yoda. “Business deal you have not.”

“OK,” I thought to myself. “I was in a good mood; why is it rapidly declining into extreme anxiety?”

    I ended up in Times Square not remembering how I got there. All of the television screens on the buildings had gone blank and then started flashing psychedelic colors. As I lost myself in the radiance, buildings started to melt. I was on an actively animated apprehensive trip and it wasn’t a mental vacation anymore.


    In my head I was questioning what was real and what imitation was. Fear and panic succumbed me. I turned around and witnessed people’s heads floating off their shoulders as they strutted down 42nd Street. Each head switching torsos as they drifted into midair. I bolted down the street as fast as I could and hit the ground running. I felt no pain so I got up quicker than I started. I felt like eyes were piercing through me. Everyone, the whole public state of New York was staring at me, even if I was just a blur in their tracks.

    I slowed down and darted through the entrance of Central Park. Oddly enough when I started to recuperate the air felt cleansing. Sunlight peaked through the bright green trees in the surrounding atmosphere and although colors were still intense, I wasn’t panicking anymore. I had no uneasiness of anything. I was at peace. I noticed the path I stood on led to a monument. I followed it to the vestige and was taken aback by what I saw.

    Unaware that I had left my hotel room on a quest for dark chocolate, ignoring my hallucinations of people walking backwards, their words jumbled as their heads floated from one body to someone else’s; I was on the grounds of “Strawberry Fields.” A black-and-white mosaic that read the word, “Imagine,” dedicated to the late John Lennon and named after the popular song, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” was decorated in flowers and candles.

    I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out my iPod touch not knowing it was there to begin with. I placed the earphones inside my ear and played the song loud enough so I could feel the rhythm flowing through my bloodstream and pulsing in my veins. I looked beyond the memorial and my mind painted another optical image. I saw a field of green leaves standing tall, with luminous red strawberries hanging on the tip of each leaf.

    I was having an out-of-body experience, watching myself frolic through the garden with the biggest smile I have ever seen on my face. As the lyric “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see” played, I felt tranquil and inanimate. I concluded with confidence that everything in my life was going to make sense from here on out. I looked up at the magnificent blue sky and got the impression that God and all of my relatives who have passed on were laying in the clouds watching me smile and dance freely.

    When the song ended, I closed my eyes and recollected my hallucination on the cement bench. When I opened them, I was back in my lavish hotel room. Everything was still placed just where I left it. The chocolate wrapper lay unwrapped on the pillow next to me. I sat up in bed, baffled pushing the pillows down and touching them excessively to see if they were really there.

    I crawled out of bed and walked towards the balcony. I opened the door and stood outside for a breath of fresh air. When I came back inside I noticed the champagne glass was empty on the night stand. Something was in it that wasn’t there before. A strawberry stem was at the bottom of the glass, and next to it on the hotel stationary pad was written, “In strawberry fields, nothing is real.”  


Here is an interview with Dana:


The Winner of Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest!

Amerigo Day

by Ian Murphy

“What the hell is this!?!”

Ilsa sighed the heavy sigh of a long-suffering wife. She didn’t need any drama this morning. Especially not this early. She looked up from her morning tea at her Husband Amerigo, who was on another one of his volatile tirades, waving…

“A calendar.” she answered. ” We got it at the White Elephant party Magellan threw last week. You’d remember if you weren’t so drunk on Amontillado you could barley stand.”

“I know what it is!” he replied as he flipped through the pages, searching for something specific. “I’m talking about this!”

He slammed it down on the poorly carved wooden table and pointed an indignant finger at Monday, the first week of October. Ilsa squinted down at the target of his rage.

“It says, Columbus Day?”

Amerigo folded his arms across his chest, satisfied, if only for a moment. A tense second crept across the room, then – –

“Hells Bells, they didn’t!” she exclaimed.

“They did! Those, those sweaty cod-pieces!” Amerigo shouted, his ire returning in full now. “They gave it to that god damn Guinea bastard!”

“How could they do that? That day is supposed to be in honor of – -”

“Of the man who discovered the New World! OF ME!”

Amerigo stomped over to the counter and grabbed some wine. Ignoring any attempts at a glass, he drank straight from the jug. Normally Ilsa would have chastised him for this, but she could tell this was not the time to pick a fight.

“I mean, they named the whole god damned continent after me. ME! And they’re giving the celebration day to THAT Jackass!”


“Really! Do you know he thought he was in India? Yeah. INDIA! They’re probably going to call those Native Americans “Indians” now. Do you know how colossally wrong that is? DAMMIT!”

Amerigo smashed a dish that had absolutely nothing to do with the current calamity, chugged another healthy swallow of wine, and caught his breath. Panting, he looked at his wife.

“I’m sorry. You’ve been nothing but supportive. I shouldn’t…”

Isla got up from the table and put her arms around her Husband. Temper tantrums aside, he was a good man.

“It’s okay honey. Everyone knows who got there first. It says it on all the maps.”

A knock at the door interrupted their momentary peace.

“I’ll get it.” Isla answered the door. Standing there was a Royal messenger.

“Hello, are you Isla Vespucci? The banner maker?”

“What do you want? Now’s not really a good time.”

“Queen Isabella has commissioned you to make a banner for the first celebration of Columbus Day.”

“Why me?” Isla asked, irritated.

“Because you’re the only banner maker in town?”

“And she knows who I’m married to right.”


“And following that logic, she would know how asking me to make a banner for that celebration might be kind of, I don’t know, awful?”

“Yes. That would be why she laughed when she gave me this.”

The Messenger handed her a piece of paper. It read ‘First Annual Columbus Day’.

“No way. Tell her to shove it up – -”

The Messenger stopped her with a quick finger to her lips.

“Look lady,” he started. “There’s an Inquisition going on right now, and if I don’t come back with the answer the Queen wants I’m going to end up on the business end of a red hot poker. So make the fucking banner, okay?”

Isla understood.

“And she wants it when?”

“Before the celebration next Monday. Later.”

The messenger bounded off as Ilsa walked back into the kitchen.

“What was that all about?” Amerigo, now starting to feel the effects of the wine, slurred slightly.

“They want me to make Columbus’s banner for the party next week.”

Before Amerigo could begin another tirade, Ilsa put a quieting hand to his lips.

“Don’t worry baby, I got this.”

Next Monday came quickly, but the banner was done in time. As they got ready for the party, Isla rolled out her banner for Amerigo’s approval.

“I can’t believe we’re going to this thing. Wait… is THAT the banner you made?”

“Sure is.” She smiled.

“First Annual Columbus Day? Isn’t that what it’s supposed to say?”

“It does, kinda.” she smiled again.

“I thought Annual had TWO N’s and a U?”

“If you wanna spell it right it does.”

A smile crept across Amerigo’s face as servants arrived, took the banner, and began to hang it up for all to see. Amerigo looked at his wife with pride.

“Baby, you’re the best.”

The Runner Up In Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest


by Matthew Harris

Both parents (but especially my father – the renown Chemist B.B. Harris and to a slightly lesser extent the late culinary cuisine queen Harmit Harms Kuritsky – the gal whose troth he pledged while holding some bubbling sinister looking flask in hand on their first guinea pig type date) encouraged incurred genetic yen that burned from without the buns of this son!

No matter a bit tentative to experiment willy-nilly (wonka like) with rather explosive materiel, I received truckloads of ammunition (in tandem with benevolent benediction) to foster dare devil and derelict pyromaniac precocity!

Those formative forays assaying, assessing and carefully calibrating this, that or the other liquid or powdery substance found me meticulously measuring and weighing the substances using kid gloves!

Frequent disappointment arose from yours truly as well as momma and papa when the net result (of these early attempts to blend powders and/or liquids) merely fizzled and self extinguished into a near inaudible poof!

Continual practice eventually bore successful fruit in the form of near perfect results!

I do sheepishly admit to (ahem) you that on occasion the outcome went awry! Nonetheless, they prided their potential fire branded wizard in the making with kudos and praise with DYNAMITE!

Practice from indiscriminately creating unpredictable concoctions, these lethally marshaled nonchalant opportunities provided quintessentially random results though usually very wimpy!

As proof positive and proud testimony, they proudly pointed (upward) to the kitchen ceiling. There such handiworks practically covered the entire ceiling with variegated splotches!

Quite accurate to assume that father and mother coached, goaded, and nurtured exploratory ambitions and tried not to stifle (at least consciously or deliberately) my early stage ambition toward a scientific artiste bent!

As a home schooled and (to some extent self taught chemically romanced muralist), I grew up (not surprisingly) in a Unitarian household that paid close attention also adhered to the pioneer spirit!

The near limitless boundaries of life, liberty and the pursuit of understanding an underlying credo, which allowed, enabled and provided one near endless experimentation even at the risk of life and limb.

Aside from nearly burning down the house, immolating myself, occasionally singeing the canine fur of Lady, Schultz, or Socrates, et cetera no frightful catastrophic outcomes occurred thru the milieu of mixing deceptively harmless looking inert raw materials!

Trial and error (quite successful with the latter) via blithely cooking dicey elements forming goulash hiccupping laboratory mishmash practically eliminated any pained regret to take daring risks (such as getting married – ha) in later life!

Despite this favorable and lovable upbringing, my mother (ever the protector and/or proctor of our family and an excellent chef boy r dee to boot) still managed to insinuate (as gently as possible) the necessity to be careful when igniting flammable materials lest some uncontrollable conflagration ensue.

She (mom) did frequently confess to feeling ever so slightly jittery and uneasy with my slapdash amateurish homebrewed pyrotechnics and much preferred to steer my attention toward a safer hobby such as the edible objet’s d’arts i.e., the much more drab field per how to present and aesthetically appealing and nutritious meal.

Fondness to prepare food and pretend to be a faux renowned cook (this confession admitted rather baldly and obviously deduced) actually competed for my most favorite avocation activity and spare leisure time!

In other words, this chap did relish designing his own recipes mainly from leftovers in tandem with unpronounceable multisyllabic organic compounds that filled numerous sized dishes and aged apothecary bottles respectively.

Without question though, the passion plus less riskier factor to combine and potchka dry and wet ingredients together did rank as a considerably safer medium that still allowed, enabled and provided me an equal opportunity to test reactions, than those earlier iterated potentially explosive hazards.

Nonetheless, my cavalier crusading overactive appetite, hunger and thirst to discover causative outcomes (even with purportedly innocuous looking household cleaning supplies or easily acquired inert materiel) nearly witnessed an apocalypse at 324 Level Road on one particular occasion our domicile to become rent asunder into an ashen funeral pyre, yet for the grace of some divine force no family members nor pets succumbed from smoke.

Best for me to sprinkle this expose with the essential highlights and let the reader be amused (and chuckle to her/himself at how she/he possibly conducted a similar antic during their age of innocence and precocious childhood) with miraculous intervention from the pranks of yesteryear.

Although decades now removed from the inferno in question, I can still vividly recall the horrific shell shocked sensation that nearly paralyzed my being and kept me stock still for what seemed like eons.

Mere fractal like fragments just barely recollected upon that indelible frightful charred brush with death!

Unsure even to this day, what exactly sparked the fiery maelstrom. Only vague hypothesis can be formulated quite some decades post that near cataclysmic event!

Perhaps the dial to bake or broil got set overly high. Maybe while the need to use the bathroom could not be deferred one more second, the rising contents inside a pan splattered over the side? This possibly set an eruption in motion?

Anyway after the flames got extinguished even the most hardened and skilled sleuth found great difficulty to pinpoint the source even after spending countless hours sifting thru the scorched rubble. As a result, all fingers immediately pointed at yours truly!

I can still recall with clarity that loud and near deafening boom, which blasted off the oven door. Angry, forked flames shot and spiked out in all directions. Hot embers of fire burst forth with scintillating fascination (including accompanying pops) like some July forth celebration. In addition, an intense heat nearly melted the paint off the walls, but mercifully managed to stay clear of those frescoes ala king!

Fire engines raced, broke windows to rescue and give candy canes to those trapped inside. Thank God I survived!