Cumbre Vieja by Zakariah Johnson

Driving side roads into the heart of Hampton Beach, even the classic rock station is only playing emergency broadcasts: “All highway lanes are converted to westbound traffic only. Obey first responders. Evacuate…” I slap in a warbly Black Sabbath cassette and crank it against the drone of distant sirens. Navigating the rusty Corolla down narrow […]

Between the Rocks and the Hard Stuff by Zakariah Johnson

A shout awakened Moira, deep inside the cave where she slept. Blinking open her sleep-crusted eyes, she made out a dim light reflecting around the corner.

She’d stumbled upon the cave a year earlier, blitzed out of her mind in the woods behind the railroad tracks, just sensate enough to know she’d collapsed somewhere out of the midnight rain. She’d awakened hours later and lain all day in the dark, anticipating the inevitable rebirth of her humiliating urge to reawaken and drag her off on the daily hunt. But by nightfall, the need still hadn’t returned—somehow the millions of tons of rock and dirt over this dark hole in the ground had smothered her cravings.

She’d moved in the next day, crawling to drag a sleeping bag and a broken pallet far into the tunnel. Once or twice a week—wearing ear muffs to block her siren’s cry—she snuck out for supplies. For a year the cave had saved her, but watching the light steadily growing around the corner, she feared her respite was over.

“Ow!” a man grunted. “I bumped my head again. How far we got to go?”