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Introduction

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it. ~ Lloyd Alexander

Here at Tell-Tale Press, we hope to entertain you with quality stories from talented writers around the world. Some stories may include graphic violence, erotica, or both. They have been indicated as such before the story begins. Thank you for joining us, and happy reading!

Chetwood's Unfortunate Connexion by Barton Paul Levenson

Roger Chetwood came to us very well recommended. He had been a sailor in the merchant marine, but after surviving a terrible shipwreck, and stranding on the proverbial desert island, he had found work on the docks, and studied mathematics and bookkeeping on his own.
Now he was Chief of Accounts at Addicock, Ludsthorpe, and Gerville, Shipping and Freight, Ltd. The year was 1864. The Americans had blockaded the rebel south, and as a result, American cotton no longer came to Britain. And Addicock, Ludsthorpe, and Gerville had already decided not to buy Confederate cotton. The firm was not yet in a bad way, but soon would be if things went on the same.
Now you must understand that our President and Founder, Sir John Addicock, was a liberal who had voted for Palmerston. Sir John looked very much the prosperous English lord--stout, fiftyish, with muttonchop side-whiskers. He wore the best waistcoats, and carried a mahogany walker with a substantial topaz in the head—the Tiger’s Eye of Bengal.

William and William by Meg Pelliccio

The mist had rolled in and it was creating an ethereal atmosphere as the cloudy veil was pierced by the lights along the roadside. It was a cold night; his breath was rising from his mouth in its own foggy tendrils as he cautiously crept into the glow of the street lamp. With a shaking hand, he took a silver trinket box from his inside coat pocket and turned it over with his thumb and forefinger, feeling the smooth polished exterior beneath his skin. He carefully opened the small box and removed a tiny pinch of the white powder inside, placing the dust on the back on his hand, before leaning forward and inhaling it into his nose in one go. He snorted a little as the sensation hit him, returning his precious cargo to his pocket and continuing his watch with a more glazed look in his eyes.

“William!” the gruff voice called out.

Another man reached the glow of the streetlight, and together the two men huddled in the light as if its very touch might warm them from the winter chill. The fi…

The Break Room by Susan Rooke

“Hey, Stan the Man!”
Stan looked up from stirring his coffee. A tidy pile of empty sugar packets lay on the table beside the mug. He greeted the newcomer with a faint smile and a nod. “Doug.”
Doug crossed the vinyl floor of the break room to Stan’s corner table. “Mind if I join you?” Without waiting for a response, he pulled out a plastic chair the color of old lemon rinds and sank into it. “My feet are killing me. What a day!” He mimed sluicing sweat off his brow with the swipe of a finger. His cuticles were bitten raw. “But hey, TGIF, huh?”
Stan eyed him. “Weekend plans?”
“Hell, yeah. Football. All weekend long. College, pro, you name it. There’s even a high school game on one of the local channels tonight. I’m thinking I’ll invite some of the guys over Sunday for the Denver game. Say, you wanna come? Bring beer if you do!” Doug laughed.
Stan shook his head. “Oh, you know, Doug... football doesn’t really interest me much. I appreciate the thought, though.” He pulled the stir stick from …

Breakfast at the Twilight Café by Samantha Bryant

Anderson sat in the coffee shop, picking at the dry coffee cake with the questionably clean fork and letting his gaze wander the room in search of anything or anyone worth contemplating. He wondered if the coffee cake would be any better if he picked it up and dunked it fully into the mug or if he’d just end up with a damp shirt cuff.
The coffee was hot and tasted like coffee. At least they did something right here.
The waitress trotted up to the table with a coffeepot in her hand and topped off his cup. Distracted partway through by the call of another customer, she sloshed the coffee over the edges, leaving a milky brown puddle surrounding the cup. She rushed off without noticing, so Anderson used his napkin to stop the puddle from spreading in his direction.
When he picked up the cup, ignoring the mild stickiness of the handle, and took a sip, he grimaced. The bottom of the pot. Too bitter, and now there wasn’t room in the cup to add cream or sugar without making another mess. He p…

Stories Lie by Jonathon Mast

The stories promised, “Care for the land, and the land will care for you.”
Shadib went out to the fields. He continued the trench. The sun beat down on him. The dirt did not give way to hoe or shovel.
They’d had to sell the oxen last season to provide food for the children. Now it was his muscles or no muscles. The children had offered to help. He’d told them no. Marin had asked to help. He’d told her no.
A man is tied to the land. The man cares for the land. The land gives its produce. That was the way of things. That was the land’s promise.
The land lies.
Shadib flung the hoe at the dirt. Again. Again. Sweat stung his eyes.
These fields said they should provide. They did for his brother. His perfect brother.
But then his brother died in a flash flood. And Shadib wasn’t good enough.
“Your fields lie to you.”
He grunted as the hoe bit into the ground, barely breaking the surface. Again. Again.
“Care for the land, and it will care for you.”
The fields lie.
The stories lie.
They tied him…