Conscious, Carolina

There it was. It was that faint tune. The tune of a song playing on a jukebox from the back room in a dingy bar within the ghost town of a dream. The mysterious sound meandered through Edmund’s head while he lied wide awake during the early hours of the morning—the hours of the morning that probably shouldn’t be called the morning.

Football season was over now and Edmund was alone for a while. He hadn’t even left the house in possibly a week, and his phone might as well have been cast into oblivion. He’d come to the conclusion that he liked it that way and hated it at the same time. And that protruding facial scruff—he was definitely aware of it. But it wasn’t a fashion statement.

He rolled out of bed, and clumsily trudged down the stairs. His weight against the creaking wood was bearish. He slipped his undersized slippers onto his feet, and stepped out onto the backyard patio. The air was stagnant and the ground was slightly damp from a prior polka-dotted drizzle of rain. Edmund gazed out at the world. The cityscape and the sky seemed to have traded places. One was filled with a sprawling concentration of stars, and the other was black and empty.

Edmund lowered his eyelids and slowly inhaled and exhaled. He placed his fingers on his temples and felt the beats of his pulses align. There were pains that he couldn’t remember if he’d ever experienced before or not. Maybe that’s just how things were supposed to feel.

As the sound in his head grew louder and clearer, Edmund opened his eyes and looked over at his neighbor’s silhouette and wondered if he, too, was hearing the same tune.


Zach Murphy is a writer of Hawaiian and Filipino descent. His stories appear in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Door = Jar, Levitate, Yellow Medicine Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Drunk Monkeys, and Ellipsis Zine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

A Fair Amount of Ghosts

He plays the trumpet brilliantly on the corner of Grand and Victoria. He doesn’t look like he’s from this era. He’s impeccably dressed, from his crisply fitting suit to his smooth fedora hat. There aren’t many folks that can pull that off. He’s cooler than the freezer aisle on a sweltering summer day. He performs the type of yearning melodies that give you the goosebumps. I’ve never seen anyone put any money into his basket.

There’s a formidable stone house that sits atop Fairmount Hill. It’s been for sale for as long as I can remember. The crooked post sinks deeper into the soil with each passing year. It isn’t a place to live in. It’s a place to dwell in. There’s a dusty rocking chair on the front porch. It’s always rocking. Always rocking. I’m not sure if the chair is occupied by an old soul or if it’s just the wind. Maybe it’s both. I guess the wind is an old soul.

This town is full of posters for Missing Cats. There’s one for a sweet, fluffy Maine Coon named “Bear.” He’s been gone for a while now. I’ve searched through every alleyway, under every porch, and inside of every bush for him. Sometimes I think I see him out of the corner of my eye. But then he’s not there. The rain has pretty much washed away the tattered posters. If he ever turns up, I worry that the posters will be missing.

I met the love of my life in Irvine Park, near the gloriously spouting water fountain, beneath the serene umbrella of oak trees. We spent a small piece of eternity there together. We talked about whether or not the world was coming to an end soon, and if all of our memories will be diminished along with it. After we said our goodbyes and she walked off into the distance, I never saw her again. So I left my heart in Irvine Park.



Zach Murphy is a writer of Hawaiian and Filipino descent. His stories appear in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Door = Jar, Levitate, Yellow Medicine Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Drunk Monkeys, and Ellipsis Zine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Foxes and Coyotes

The tulips grew apart from each other that Spring. The ground cracked and crumbled in ways that I’d never seen before.

I watched the foxes and the coyotes battle all Summer on Cesar Chavez Boulevard, where the blood would leave permanent stains on the concrete. The reckless packs would flash their teeth, mark their territories, and steal more than just scraps.

Me, I was a squirrel. I was small. But I was agile. I hustled from sun up until sundown at a frenetic pace. I always minded my own business and stuck to my own path. I didn’t want to get involved with the vicious nature of pack mentality.

My best friend was a squirrel, too. We grew up around the same nest. We used to climb trees, chase tails, and break soggy bread together. We’d walk the wires between safety and danger. And when we got too deep into the mess, we’d get out just in time. Growing up, I always wondered if we would live long enough to die from old age, or if the environment and its elements would get to us first.

That Fall, my best friend got caught up with the foxes and the coyotes. Now he’s gone.

The foxes and the coyotes lied low in the Winter. Me, I trotted across the frozen ground and desperately hoped I’d see my best friend’s footprints once again.



Zach Murphy is a writer of Hawaiian and Filipino descent. His stories appear in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Door = Jar, Levitate, Yellow Medicine Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Drunk Monkeys, and Ellipsis Zine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.