Issue 5

Book Review

Death on a Cold Night, by Jess Faraday


It’ s a comforting evening to me when I can curl up in my chair with hot chocolate in one hand and a new book in the other. When I looked up from the fourth short story in Elm Books’ recent publication of Death on a Cold Night, “A Theft of Teapots,” I realized that two hours had slipped by and my own tea was untouched. Jess Faraday has put together a fascinating collection of well-written short stories, and though I’m not usually a fan of mysteries, I was smitten.

One thing that stood out to me was how real, and varied, the characters and locations of the stories were. While every story had deep, well-defined characters, the most notable example is Elvis in Lee Mullens’ “Burnt December.” He is a character that brings life to every scene he is in, and he is very real and very well defined in spite of the story taking less than forty pages.

One thing you expect from a short story is that it will, in spite of taking much less of your time than a full book, deliver a complete plot. None of these stories disappoint. In spite of their length, most of these stories have a twist at the end, as is expected, even hoped for, in the mystery genre. Several of the stories, notably Leonhard August’s “Storm of Mystery,” Mark Hague’s “In the Public Eye,” and Christalea McMullin’s “Club Pandemonium,” could easily expand into longer works. In spite of this, each story is succinct and comes to a satisfying, if unexpected, end.

Overall, Death on a Cold Night is a grand little gem, whether you wish for an introduction to mystery as a genre, or simply desire a short reprieve from your main course of reading.

Jason Deiss
Senior Contributing Editor
Open Window Review

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Book Review

Figures on a Beach, by Kirk VanDyke


If you have ever simultaneously longed for and feared the weightless transience of living on the road, taking work where you can find it and living unencumbered by rent and routine, you will be, as I was, drawn immediately into the solitary life of John Jones, the complex protagonist of Kirk VanDyke’s short novel, Figures on a Beach, re-published by Elm Books in 2012.

Jones, having escaped the Wyoming winter in his 1970 VW bus and headed for the coast of Texas with $250 in his wallet, finds himself adrift, camping on a beach, looking for work during the off season and finding himself surrounded by a collection of strange, interesting, and sometimes dark beach dwellers with complicated stories and internal landscapes of their own. He is joined by Maggie, a dog who brings him a feeling of family and connection, and Cathy, an elegant, beautiful woman who has landed on his beach while following her own strange and unfocused desires for self-knowledge. On the darker side, this novel is also about the fault lines that run inside the human mind, as John Jones is accompanied by Ben and Brian, critical, abusive voices who erode Jones’ ability to function in society and occasionally reveal the extent of him own mental illness to those around him.

Figures on a Beach is not a pretty novel, not tied up cleanly with one thread and folded in the end; it is, instead, a real, substantial, thoughtful, and intelligent novel, and one that bares the intersection of love and longing, health and illness, and the desire to belong to something that the heart cannot quite identify.

Lori Howe
Editor in Chief
Open Window Review

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By Erik Molvar

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By Allison Pluda

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Allison Pluda

Allison Pluda is a freelance outdoor, nature, landscape, tourism, fine art, and adventure photographer as well as geologist, chocolate lover, and inquisitive soul who finds peace in experiencing and sharing her love for the outdoors. Photography teaches her to see the patterns and natural order in the apparent chaos of the universe we live in. She has an M.S. in Geology from the University of Wyoming, and uses a scientific approach to understand how our universe operates and uses photography as her medium to share her deeper inspiration and experiences with others. Her work is available on her website:

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The only hope

By Evan Naughton


Long ago, there was a great fight between nations, the Northern and Southern Nations. The Southern Nation, also known as Maria, wanted to take over the Northern Nation, known as Srain. The people of Srain fiercely defended their homeland and, in the end, they won by taking a crystal of power. By taking the crystal, they made the soldiers of Maria feeble and unable to fight. A young leader took the crystal and hid in Srain. That is where this story begins, in a hole in a hill.

There was a knock on the door of a house in the hill. 13 year old Willamor Fillins went to open the door. There stood a tall, thin man in a red cloak.

“Pleasant day, isn’t it Mr. Fillins?” the man asked.

With a puzzled look, Will asked, “Not to be rude, but who are you, and how do you know my name?”

The man looked a little sad.

“Sorry for not introducing myself. My name is Dwalim, Dwalim the Wizard.

Will still looked perplexed, but went along with it.

“So, what do you want to do, have lunch with me?”

“Not quite” the wizard answered “I was wondering if you wanted to come and have dinner with me at the house of the elves. But if you come with me, we will miss lunch.”

“I cannot miss lunch.” Will told him. With that Will walked into his house shutting the door behind him. Even though young Will did not want to go to the house of the elves, Dwalim did, so he waited till Will had finished lunch. When Will finished lunch, Dwalim knocked on the door again.

William went to the door after eating a nice lunch and saw the wizard once again, but this time, the wizard had the wildest looking horse he had ever seen.

“Hurry up Will!” shouted Dwalim, “we can’t miss dinner at the home of the elves, can we?”

After that, Will hopped on the horse behind the wizard and the horse galloped away. As the horse was running to the home of the elves, the wizard told Will that the horses name was Alic. If Alic couldn’t run fast enough, they might miss dinner. Dwalim said that the route they were taking had many dangers, so they would have to be careful. Will and Dwalim rode out of the Hegyek hills towards the Vizeses Falls, where the Elves called home.

When they were riding over the Hegy Mountains, something the color of coal landed in front of them and frightened all of them. In a dark growling voice the creature that ended up being a dragon snarled, “I am Sarkany the dragon ready for dinner!” Dwalim casted a quick stunning spell that made Sarkany rigid for enough time that Will and the wizard were able to escape. In the distance they heard the growling and snarling of the livid dragon Sarkany.

When they finally made it to the home of the elves and the sound of the falls, an elf came and talked with the wizard in what Will assumed was elvish. Their conversation lasted a little more than a minute. The elf finally turned to Will and said that they were grateful to see him, and he was to lead them to the elf king. When they met with the king, the first words he said were “You are late for dinner, but fortunately we have leftovers.”

Once they had dinner, they went to the living room to talk about why they needed William Fillins. They said that his father was the leader of the Srain in the fight between Srain and Maria. They said that he was the one that who found out where the Crystal of Power was located and went to get it. Then the elf king whose name was Vezető was the one who knew what they had to do.

“You must go and find where your father hid the crystal Willamor,” Vezető told Will, “And you must get it before the soldiers of Maria do.”

“Why do I have to do it?” asked Will, “Why can’t one of you do it?”

“You have the map that guides us to the crystal. You are the only hope” Vezető told him.

“What map?” asked Will.

“Do you have a pocket watch that doesn’t work and that was given to you by your father?” said the king.

“The one that my father said never to lose?”

“Yes, that one”

“Well my father told me to always to keep it in my pocket, so it is in the pocket of my…”

“What?” asked an elf to the side of the King.

“My father told me never to tell” stated Will.

“These are friends Will, so you can tell us.” told Dwalim.

“It is in the pocket of my…my shirt.” Will said in a whispered voice

“Take it out and show us.” said Vezető.

Will thought for a moment and, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a diamond pocket watch. He opened it and then said,
“See, it doesn’t work.”

“Turn the dial to the right one twist, to the left for four twists, to the right again for eight twists, than to the left for three twists.” said Dwalim.

Will did has he was told. When he finished the turning, the pocket watch started to glow and then a hologram of a map burst out.

“If you look carefully, you will see a small, green dot, which is where the crystal is hidden.”

When they finally finished, Will skipped dessert and went to bed. Once his head hit the pillow, he fell into a deep sleep. As he was going to bed, he was thinking about his father.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Willamor had a dream about his father. He saw his father giving a small child a diamond watch. Then the image shifted and he saw his father again with a sword in his back with a creature that Will had never seen holding the sword. After seeing the frightening images, Will woke up to the sound of swards hitting swards outside.



Will dressed in his clothes as quick as he could but before he could get out of his room, a huge humanoid creature blocked his way out. The great being looked like the thing in his dream!

“I killed your father so now I will kill you!” bellowed the monster.

“Not before I slay you,” said a voice behind him, “and kill you like a bug under a falling tree. Right as the voice ended, the creature let out a horrid scream and fell onto the floor. A figure leaped onto the monsters back. “That creature is called a Nargath Follow me” said the man, “and you might need this. The man tossed him something that he couldn’t tell what it was tell he caught it. It was a sword.

“I used to be your fathers. He used it to kill the giant king Nagydarab.” The stranger told him.

“Who are you” asked Will.

“No time for that,” said the man, “there is a fight outside.” At that note, they moved on outdoor.

The second they got outside, they started fighting. Will looked around fiercely looking for Dwalim. Then he spotted him fighting a big fat Nargath. He then casted an odd spell.

Blæse Opire

Right as that happened, the Nargath exploded into a pile of green goo. Dwalim saw Will and called to him. “Hi sleepy head, how well did you sleep?”

“Not very well” said Will, “I had a scary Dream.”

“Visions,” Dwalim said in a mystic voice, “Those are sent by the evil Nargath shape shifting King Fráögx. He sends them into your head and shows you past, present, or future.”

“King Fráögx showed me how my father died then. That is creepy.” Will looked frightened but not too frightened. He then looked up at Dwalim and looked confused.

“How does he send them?” asked Will

“I’ll tell you later, we need to get out of here.” Dwalim sang the shortest tune and the horse named Alic. On the back of the horse was the stranger.

“Have you met your uncle yet Will?” asked Dwalim.

“HE IS MY UNCLE!!” yelled Will

“Yes Will, I am your fathers brother,” said the stranger, “My name is Akilias Fillins. I am to take you to Galinhime. You will meet my Daughter Sera. She is your cousin and you two will go on a quest to find the Crystal and come back to my house. This is where you will live because your home has been destroyed. So we must go now.”

The ride was a little cramped because he was between Akilias and Dwalim. Then something happened. He saw his house on flames! Then he was sitting on a horse again. He wanted to tell Dwalim but he couldn’t come to telling him because he was to dumbstruck. Then he saw a small town with a castle in the middle.

“Here we are. Willamor Fillins are you ready to meet Sera.”

Categories: Issue 5, Young Writers | Leave a comment

Evan Naughton

Evan Naughton likes to play hockey and read fiction stories. He is a 6th grader at the UW Lab School in Laramie, Wyoming. His story about a boy and his cousin traveling in a mystic land to get a crystal out of a mountain called Kő Háromszög is part of an ongoing writing project.

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Death’s Grip

By Emily Brande


As the moon rises into the sky, the night is awakened. The crickets start to sing their welcoming song. The frogs start to croak there loud belching song. And somewhere far away, you hear something. Something different. The sweet song of a forlorn little girl calling home. You open the door lured by the sweet song and step out into the cold night air. You hear the voice again, but closer, and again right behind you. As you turn, your life flashes before you. You see her, a chill goes through you.

And you’re swallowed into the night.


The cold autumn air swept through Pat’s long tangled hair, and sent a chill through her, from her head all the way to her muddy feet. Yet, she still kept running, faster, and faster. Until, she stopped and ducked into a bush.

“Ready or not, here I come,” said the voice of Pat’s nine-year-old brother Sam. Pat ducked farther down, and started breathing heavily.

“I hear you,” Sam said peering over the bush into Pat’s red face and smirking.


“Am not! I heard you.”

“Oh yeah, sure, from like one million miles away, yup sure.”

“Whatever, you’re just jealous that I’m better at hide and seek than you,” Sam said grinning snugly.

“Are not!”

“Are too!”

“Are not,” and with that Pat shoved Sam into the bush. He got up and pushed her back. She pushed him again, and again, and again, until they were rolling on the ground beating each other up.

“Excuse me,” said their mother suddenly peering down at them, “just what do you think you’re doing?”

“Um, playing?” Pat said questioningly.

“Whatever, it’s lunch so get your dirty little selves in the kitchen within the next two minutes or there will be consequences.”

“Ok,” Sam said leisurely.

“I said now,” their mother said as she turned and stormed off.

“Yeah Sam, now,” Pat said sticking her tongue out, and following her mother. Sam drug behind them and moaned occasionally.

“Shut up, Sam,” Pat said when they reached the door.

“Yeah, make me,” he said walking into the house. Pat slammed the door and stormed in behind him. But, she ceased to notice the face of a pale, smiling girl staring in at her through the window.


Lunch. It was always a disaster. Food fights, talking with your mouth open, spitting, fork throwing. This happened every lunch. And for that very reason Pat and Sam’s father never joined the family, their mother although almost ready to explode would always sit through the long painful meal. Today however a melancholy feeling had fallen over the family. They all sat silently, for once, eating their food and looking suspiciously at each other. As soon as they had finished their food Pat awkwardly said,
“well I have a history paper to finish, um bye,” and she left. Sam then said,
“yeah, I have a paper to finish as well,” and hurriedly left. Leaving their poor mother with all of the dirty dishes. As Pat ran up the stairs and into her room she shut the door behind her, and fell across her bed. She shut her eyes, there was a girl. Pale faced, sweet and innocent. Yet with blood red eyes and wrath in her face. She looked as if she meant to harm someone. The smile turned to a smirk and her sweet gentle curls fell away revealing a monster. A monster that was coming right towards Pat. She woke up screaming. It was dinner.


At the dinner table it was quiet and awkward, again. Something was different and weird. Very weird. She looked at her mother and said,
“Mom, how are you.” Her mother looked at her blankly, and stuttered the words, “mother? am I your mother, why, I don’t remember,” she said looking blankly about her.
“Who are you,” she said turning back to Pat. She then turned to Pat’s brother and said,
“and you who are you?”
“Mom, whats wrong with you, we’re your children.”
“Children, I don’t have children?”
“What, mom yes you do!” said Pat anxiously.
“No, you must be mistaken, we’re not related, I’m sorry. And as she said this she got up from the table and said,
“what a pretty song.”
“Mom, there is no song, just silence.”
“No, little girl It’s a beautiful song, oh so pretty.” she turned towards the door, and started walking towards it. She opened it and stepped outside into the autumn night. Pat listened. Suddenly she heard a growl. A scream.
And silence.


After the scream Sam got up and said,
“How beautiful,” he then got up and slowly walked towards the door. Pat to petrified to move yelled,
“no!” He opened the door and stepped out side. Another scream. Pat got up shocked and ran to her fathers room she opened the door, and heard another scream. No this could not be happening. Pat started crying. And then, she heard it. The voice calling, oh it was so pretty! Suddenly her mind went blank. She started walking towards the door, and suddenly she was outside. She heard the voice and turned. The girl from her dream was there. She looked into her eyes froze. The girl moved closer, and closer. And suddenly the world went blank and Pat was gone.

Categories: Issue 5, Young Writers | 1 Comment

Emily Brande

Emily Brande is thirteen years old and a student at the University of Wyoming Lab School.  This is her first publication.

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Work to Do

By Rod Miller

A cold-jawed horse, and Wheaties.
I’m ready to do a man’s work.
When the sun comes up, I’ll start.
Dad says I’m ready.

I’m ready to do a man’s work.
By myself, for the first time.
Dad says I’m ready.
What if I get bucked off? I’m cold and sleepy.

By myself, for the first time.
No help, no help, no help.
What if I get bucked off?
What if all these cows explode?

No help, no help, no help.
But I’m big now. I’m big.
What if these cows explode?
What if they stampede, like in the movies?

But I’m big now. I’m big.
Dad says, “Good luck, Rod. Don’t fuck up.”
What if these cows stampede, like in the movies?
It would be wrong to cry now. I have work to do.
Dad says, “Good luck, Rod. Don’t fuck up.”
When the sun comes up, I’ll start.
It would be wrong to cry now. I have work to do.
A cold-jawed horse, and Wheaties.

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