Monday, June 27, 2016

CHAIN SMOKING AT BUS STOPS by D. M. Anderson

Garry lit a cigarette.

The man standing next to Garry wrinkled his nose and gave him a sideways glance.

Garry lit another cigarette. Now holding two in one hand, he took a slow drag from the cancerous twins. The smoke executed a tactical/surgical/preemptive strike deep within the nasal passage of the stranger, engorging his ire. This was war.

The stranger's hand ascended, as if in slow motion or some inebriated gypsy's wild premonition. The hand shook, nearly vibrating with the telltale sign of incipient alcoholism. Withdrawal tremors masquerading as adrenaline shakes.

Garry lit two cigarettes and added them to the party. The four coffin nails dangled from his moistened lips, taunting the stranger.

Spider-like, the hand climbed until it reached the razor-burned jowls of the stranger's horrifyingly mundane face. The face attached itself to the head, that in turn attached itself to the neck, that attached to the body, that attached to the arm, that attached to that quaking fucking hand, that attached to five dainty little digits. Fat digits. Like a big baby.

The baby digits cup the mouth, and so began the great spiral of hand to mouth to hand again. Forever into infinity. One could become lost in that spiral. One could go mad.

Then came the cough. That annoyingly rude "I don't really need to cough, but I'm going to anyways to teach you that smoking is bad for you, because you obviously must not be in on this ubiquitous little factoid, are you? Are you, Billy? Huh? Well are you??" -kind of cough.

You know the one. That fucking judgmental non-smoker cough. Garry lit up three more cigarettes. Now seven little cherries burned brightly from between long piano fingers. Bluish smoke hung in the air between the two men, thick enough to cut with a knife. Thick like marmalade.

The stranger turned a frowning, pinkish face to stare directly at Garry. Garry and his seven repugnant cigarettes.

Garry lit up another five cigarettes. Now he had to use both hands to smoke them all, like some kind of burning pan flute out of a meth-induced feverdream.

The stranger quirked a caterpillar eyebrow at Garry. He was flabbergasted.

Flabbergasted!

Garry watched the stranger take a picture and post it to instagram without even looking at his iPhone. It was an action of habit. A rote gesture of the self delusion that people actually gave a shit. It was a lie.

Garry zealously supported artistic expression, so he struck an interpretive pose just in time for the flash. The stranger didn't seem to notice, too busy aggressively hash-tagging his disapproval all over the interweb.

Garry lit up another eight cigarettes. His manly fists looked like birthday cakes made of meat and knuckles.

Understanding dawned on the stranger's face. Epiphany made flesh.

"Are you.." The stranger hesitated.

"Are you smoking the Fibonacci sequence?" The stranger asked.

Garry turned once more to the stranger and their eyes met. Tears of joy shimmered in the stranger's eyes. Tears of love.

The stranger reached slowly into his trendy 90's messenger bag and pulled a worn copy of the latest Fibonacci Quarterly, a mathematical journal of some prestige. The stranger's face stared back at Garry from the cover art.

The resemblance was uncanny. It was too good to be true. It was the ghost of the great Leonardo of Pisa!

Before either of them had a chance to consider the repercussions to the space/time continuum, they were wrapped tightly in each other's arms. Cigarettes tumbled to the ground beneath their feet, like smoldering confetti. It was an embrace written in the spiraling cosmos above and below.

Garry awoke in a cold sweat. The uncomfortable erection-tent in his lap would have been embarrassing if he hadn't been alone. Always alone.

Garry cried himself back to sleep, the plushie Funko Pop Fibonacci doll clutched tightly between his muscular thighs.

Garry dreamt of spirals.

WATCH WATCH by Jordan Moffatt

urtis had a watch that he liked to look at from time to time. In the daytime, while he was awake, Curtis wore the watch on his wrist. At night time, while he was asleep, Curtis put the watch on his nightstand. When awake, Curtis checked his watch every fifteen minutes, whether fifteen minutes had actually passed or not. As long as fifteen minutes had passed on his watch, Curtis would check it and conclude that fifteen minutes had indeed passed. To Curtis, the watch was time.

Curtis woke up from an unpleasant dream and put on his watch. The time on the watch said 3:34. Curtis thought this was too early to wake up, so he took the watch off, placed the watch on his nightstand, and then went back to sleep.

When Curtis woke up again, he repeated the routine of watch putting-on and looking-at. The time on the watch again said 3:34. Curtis thought this was too early to wake up, so he took the watch off, placed the watch on his nightstand, and then went back to sleep. He figured that he must have been dreaming earlier when the exact same thing happened.

This process happened over and over and over and over again until Curtis had a thick beard on his face. He didn’t have a beard before he went to bed, let alone a thick one, and so he stroked it in the same manner as a man would pick up an object with a recently discovered third arm. While stroking his beard, Curtis realized that he was very, very hungry. He had never been hungrier. He was so hungry that he was light-headed. Curtis also had a weird feeling that he had lost weight since he went to bed. Curtis put on his watch. The time still read 3:34. Curtis felt that something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on the problem. Time, after all, had not passed. The phone rang, and Curtis answered it.

“Hello,” Curtis whispered. He didn’t have the strength for anything more than a whisper.

“Hello Curtis. This is God.”

“God?” said Curtis.

“Yes,” said God.

“I’m confused,” said Curtis.

“Everyone is confused, Curtis. That’s part of the plan.”

“Oh,” said Curtis. He was still confused though. “What time is it, God?”

“Don’t you remember the time?” God asked.

Curtis remembered the time when he went fishing with his father and they caught a large sturgeon, 4:22. Curtis remembered the time when he first kissed a girl – Becky Johnson outside the video rental store, 8:40. Curtis remembered the time when he showed up late for a job interview and got yelled at by the receptionist, 11:17. Curtis remembered the time he won third place in the science fair with his hydraulic dog poop scooper, 2:35.

“Do you remember the time?” God asked.

“Which one?” said Curtis.

“Remember the time,” God said. “Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time. Remember the time.”

Curtis didn’t speak.

“What time is it?” God asked.

Curtis looked at his watch. It read 3:34.

“It’s 3:34,” Curtis said.

God hung up the phone.

Curtis got out of bed. His legs were weak, and he could barely hold up his body. He pulled himself along the walls to the window facing the street. He looked out. The view had changed since he went to bed. Buildings that were previously sturdy were now crumbling. The air, formerly clear, was now a dead grey. Cars that weren’t on fire before were now on fire. The friendly people that walked down the street were now packs of savage, bloodthirsty wolves.

Things were different.

The wolves took notice of Curtis and set off in his direction. They were frightening beasts.

Their eyes were hot, their mouths foamed, and their teeth were sharp and well-suited to ripping apart human flesh. Curtis watched the wolves run closer to his death, and then he checked his watch.

The time on the watch said 3:34. Curtis thought this was too early to wake up, so he took the watch off, placed the watch on his nightstand, and then went back to sleep.

AFRAID OF RAIN by Chris Wight

Now that you've accepted the fact that I'm a big, black English-speaking crow living in Japan, please allow me to tell you a fascinating story about a woman named Hiroko who struggled to stay dry on a rainy day. Hiroko had once left me half a sandwich on a park bench, perhaps unwittingly, and from then on the sight of her reminded me of delicious ham-and-cheese.

Yesterday at around dawn I had the misfortune of being perched high atop a utility pole with electric megaphones mounted on it, just as they crackled to life and broadcasted a public service announcement to the neighborhood - something about the possibility of heavy rain throughout the morning. I flew away, annoyed over having lost the perfect vantage point to my favorite trash bin.

Later I spied ham-and-cheese, I mean Hiroko, running across the road to the bus stop for no clear reason. Her body was stiff and her arms were stuck to her hips. She got in line behind the others and immediately opened her umbrella, which I thought strange, as it wasn't raining. Sure, the pavement was damp and a morning fog hung in the air, but I perceived no precipitation on my tightly-folded feathers.

I remembered the public service announcement from earlier in the morning, and concluded Hiroko must've been quite shaken by it. Indeed she wore an expression of anguish on her face.

The bus arrived and the people shuffled on board. Hiroko planted one foot in the bus before she dared to fold up her umbrella, even in the absence of falling moisture.

The station wasn't so far away as the crow flies, so I flew there, hoping Hiroko might drop some food.

A few minutes later the bus parked in a place not so close to the station entrance, and now the skies produced a light drizzle. Hiroko burst from the bus with her umbrella open and sprinted for cover. My superior eyes detected no signs of food dropped, nor any water on her legs or feet. My loss, her good fortune.

Later the clouds dispersed and it became a beautiful, sunny afternoon. From my spot atop a utility pole I spotted Hiroko getting off the bus and walking with another neighbor friend in my direction. They both had food in their hands!

As they approached, something happened which I am quite ashamed of; but I am an animal after all, and at times it's impossible to control my bodily functions. In all the excitement I excreted a stream of liquid guano as Hiroko passed beneath me, sprinkling her face and hair.

At first Hiroko reacted with the same pained expression I had seen at the bus stop that morning. Then she peered up and saw me. She and her friend looked at each other. Hiroko showed a look of relief, and both women laughed.

Then I understood: Hiroko wasn't afraid of getting wet. She was afraid of rain.

THE MISOGYNATOR by D.M. Anderson

It moved through the crowd like some thuggish juggernaut of testosterone, all bulging muscles, and overpriced man-child clothing.

It didn't weave amongst the flow of pedestrians but rather marched straight through, bumping the shoulder of anyone within shoulder-bumping range. You could hear the thing grunting in homophobic satisfaction with every body it sent sprawling.

Its internal WiFi connection continuously scouring social media feeds of the surrounding humans, zeroing in on any potential target for it's rudimentary auto-troll subroutine.

All that auto-trolling had worked up a single voracious hunger within its tummy tum unit.

It stopped at a hotdog stand, barking oversexualized innuendo at patrons as they paused to take each bite; yet refusing to eat any itself, so as not to ruin it's diet of muscle shakes mixed with the tears of ex-girlfriends recently scorned.

It chugged the thermos man-shake. It belched to the tune of Nickelback. It continued its mission.

The ultimate goal of all the Misogynator BroBot-5000 units is to secretly suck up all the oxygen in its vicinity, and filter it through it's testostero-neutrino engine, thus poisoning the surrounding air with mind numbing BR-0 pathogens that cloud the cognition of any unfortunate enough to be exposed.

Just then, a spark. A twitch of the right ocular camera. Too much testosterone, OVERLOAD!

A rupture of the femoral artery caused the constricting crotch of its designer jeans to soak through with crimson motor oil. The entire hulking frame of the beast began to quake, and a pathetic gibbering escaped its oil stained lips. Sparks shot violently from between sculpted buttocks, turning the gore soaked jeans into a smoldering blaze that reeked of burning tires.

Suddenly an explosion blossomed to life amongst the surrounding patrons, sending bits of meat and bone in every direction. As the pink mist cleared, all that remained of the BroBot-5000 was two muscular calves sticking out of a mysteriously pristine pair of white Vans.

The survivors are left to pick up their shattered lives, and wonder why.

Monday, March 7, 2016

ORAL FUNGUS by Jeffrey S. Callico

She lay on the bed in the middle of the afternoon while some dude she barely knew slammed a video game into rare victories. The room smelled like raw umber – that’s what she thought – and the dude’s voice grated her nerves like severed limbs. She rammed her bare foot into the small of his back when he spouted off at his semi-foaming mouth. “Shut up and leave!” she screamed, knowing right then the night wouldn’t come fast enough.

Choices by Joseph J. Patchen

There’s a man in my closet. He’s there every night. I have no idea where he goes during the day but once the sun recedes behind the hill just past Belmont cove, he appears within the frame of the door.
There’s a man in my closet and he is not a member of my family. What more?

“There’s a man in my closet!” I shout most every night; sometimes once, sometimes twice, sometimes more. But my parents never find him. My parents have grown numb. They have begun yelling at me.

I’ve been seeing a psychologist on Wednesdays.

I have been forced to bed without any lights on. My flashlight has been locked away. This is to toughen me; to force me to face my fears; to leave me no choice but to sleep and quell my flights of drama and fantasy.

There’s a man in my closet. He’s been there ever since we moved here. He’s been there for over six months now. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t gesture. He only stares and projects his thoughts into my head.

There’s a man in my closet. He’s covered in rats. His fingers pulsate and move independently. His fingers are worms.

His face is old and stern. He has no mouth or nose. His eyes burn bright red; yet I know he’s inviting me inside. He’s promised to give me a kingdom with riches and joys all my own in exchange for my soul.

I don’t know what to do. I am only a child of nine. While I am terrified I’m also curious. I wonder if I make such a choice I might be able to help my struggling family.

I am confused. I don’t know what to choose. I would like a better life but…

My parents are of no help to me. They have never seen the man. They don’t understand. They have never seen anything and I don’t know which way to turn. You see the man under my bed; the one with fangs and talons has made me the same offer.
 


BEING by Jeffrey S. Callico

This is the story of a man who drove naked to work. When he got to the office everyone gawked. Security was called and the man was removed. As the elevator descended the guard asked the naked man about his future plans. The man declined to smile and said, “You tell me. All I’m trying to do is deal with reality.” The guard stepped him off then out and waved goodbye, watching as he made his way to whatever he would now consider being.