What Pegman Saw

Der Junge Gelehrte

Georg was bursting with his news, but kept the letter from America tucked in his pocket. This must be done properly, he thought, knowing Mother might not be as enthusiastic as she seemed when he’d told her his plans some months before. Father would be indifferent, as he was to everything except Schmutzi, the family

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If Thy Right Hand Offend Thee

Ras Alula strode between rows of painted warriors as they cheered and thumped their spears against their shields, many of these  bedecked with grisly trophies of the battle.Hands, mostly, though some of the younger men had adopted the American tradition of cutting scalps from the fallen enemy. Ras Alula did not care what they did

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Stairway to Heaven

Midway through the second pitch I can tell someting is wrong. He’s hesitating for some reason, hanging on his ice axe longer than necessary. Maybe this was a bad idea. We’d climbed together for almost a decade, traveling summers to all the climbing meccas. Joshua Tree, Pinncales, Black Canyon. When he and his then-girlfriend moved

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Bleak Days

Gustav walked on, flecks of snow stinging his cheeks like spits of sand, the rhythmic crunch-crunch of his boots accompanying him like a funeral drum. Your novel, sir, is a mixture of genuine truth and private grouch, Strindberg had told him, but too much of the latter for them to consider publishing it. What now, he

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Hubris

“You about finished writing, Major? The men is chafing to get this next stretch over with.” “Just a moment more.” Powell dipped his pen into the inkhorn and scratched away at the page. “I don’t think them Howard boys and Dunn is coming back, Major. Yesterday scared out their Jesus.” “Yes. Can’t be helped. Some

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S-21

How long am I here? An eternity. There is no time but now, and now lasts forever. There must be hundreds in this place, though I never see anyone. I know from the screams that come through the walls. I see only the guards when they come for me.  Sometimes I am hooded and led to

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The Beast

As always happens when a dictator falls, there were rumors that he had escaped. Conflicting reports of the exeution, confusing photographs, a lack of a gravesite. He had held us in his wicked grip for twenty-five years. Countless victims arrested and tortured, thousands shot or merely vanished, Romania turned to a nation of informers leaping

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Ghos’ Ward

I cruised the Lower Ninth in my rented Ford, first time back since Katrina. Everything was gone. When I found it at last, Jeffus sat high on his porch sipping julep from his big tin cup. House looked much the same, though the boards was new and the paint fresher. “How was your house spared

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The First Morning

She’d been awake for a long time when the knock came. “Come in,” she called. “I’m sorry to wake you, ma’am. We haven’t yet set a schedule––” “Please. Stop. No apologies.” She threw back the covers and stood, surveying the room as the orderly opened the curtains to let the January sunlight spill through the

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The Mountain of Light

You have of course heard of the Koh-i-Noor, the famous Mountain of Light. It is said this diamond was carried through history on a torrent of men’s blood, and that any male who possesses it will add his own to the river. Legend tells us the stone was mined from Galconda by King Alauddin Khalji. Babur the

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