Thursday, December 17, 2015

Inaug(ment)(ir)ation Speech by Goathead Buckley

Stow your remaining fingers, fleshmen! Keep them warm and full of blood! There is work to be done. The battle is won, yet the war is far from over. Even now as we celebrate with hoot whistles and drug liquor, the mechanical menace of the Cyberoboticists rebuilds out of the bones and circuits we think buried grave deep. But embolden your brains, fleshmen! For I shall crush electricity from the air, from the land, from the sea! And dissipate the automaton unanimously and automatically!

As Freeman-Over-Leader of the Autonomous Collective of Pure Human Fleshmen and Allies, I vow with blood writ sigils on the pulp of hemp stalks that all loyalties be repaid with bombs built directly into your chest cavities and that the organs removed in the process will be consolidated, encapsulated, and intravenously incorporated into the finest hypodermic ration supplements that Universal Allotment Credits can buy! We will pull ourselves up by ourselves, for ourselves and with ourselves, at which time we will pat ourselves on our own backs as we march upward and onward towards a world without mechamaids or cyborgian pleasure nodes or any other sort of Cyberoboticisms that may befoul the thoughts of any true Fleshman, our brothers and sisters in the struggle!

And these cavity bombs will be made by hand in dirty shacks – real dirty shacks, of course, with none of that nano-dirt so often flung about the fields these days – by men with skeletons under their meat and ichor in their vein tubes. And what is a cavity bomb without the chance of user error? How are we to move forward if the ranks of our bomb builders are not purified by accidental fire and collateral shrapnel damage?

And should a fleshman deny his heritage and harbor Cyberoboticist sympathies, well then he or she shall be hung by the neck at dawn as the sun rises upon our new nation to tan the flesh of the onlookers. Pieces of his neck meat shall be taken from him and grafted onto the mecha-traitors so that they may be hung in plain view beside and around the compromised fleshmen that our children may look upon their dangling bodies and spit at their rusted wires. On feast day shall we burn them in a pit and use the charred remains to paint on cave walls like our human ancestors did so long ago to reconnect with the spirit of men that knew nothing but flesh and unbeeping stone.

And with this decadent rite shall be raise our imaginations high and elevate our flesh to spirit and back again that Great Skin Worm, Dread God of Fleshmen everywhere, the Penultimate Devourer that crawls before Unending Chaos to prepare the Tunnels of Annihilation, shall drip his Thrice Blessed Acid Vomit upon our undeserving skulls, disintegrating our brains and flinging our minds into the Abyss, be he ever praised by fleshmen forever and ever, amen.
It is his blessing that we ask today as you the people without any sort of cybernetic, robotic, or mechanical implants did raise me to the top of the skin heap to lead you onto victory and to assure the future of our species in so dark a time as this. I promise you now that I shall stand on my own legs, even on these busted knees you see before you, and that I shall never even look at so simple a device as a pocket watch. Time, my friends and comrades, is a Cyberoboticist construct meant to tie our minds to the dock of slavery that we might bob around in servitude instead of sailing the vast ocean of experience and I will not have it! If I must, I will grind my own arm bones into knives and free everyone of you myself!

Now fire up the drug liquor hoses, start tooting out a boogie-woogie on those hoot whistles of yours and let’s get ass blasted before the rising tide of destruction catches up with us! Enough opining and pontificating for the day. Time to stick our fleshprobes into the mouths of history. May the Cyberoboticists never know such an unholy drunk as we today will embark upon! May your vomit and jizzum be the proof of your loyalty to the flesh around you! May the soup of our orgy sweat sate your thirst for freedom! And may the Great Skin Worm devour you last! Onward…to victory!    

Dr Platypus and the Driverless Car by G J Hart

First I hated him. Fucking despised him. You wouldn't believe the cutlery I broke the day he changed his avatar, (perhaps you would).

I had --------#--- syndrome. Only I didn't. Not if no one was around. Leery face.

The first thing I noticed were the accreditations hanging on the wall. One from the Search Bar clinic, another from Turkey Hut.

Internet quack! Useless Asshole!

He clicked on some 8-bit oompah, 2 framed it to his desk and began reeling off what HE'D eaten. Mashed pebble mostly, with honey clouds and grilled Pooch. Like that ever helped. (IT DOES SOMETIMES)

I explained the lengths I'd been driven to ameliorate my symptoms: I ticked holidays, alcohol and of course, grilled Poch. He wet slapped his diagnosis straight back:
get some fucking perspective.

Next morning, Jason arrived with fruit. Nice touch. Click

Jason was the first person in town to see a driverless car.

“What's do you think it's like,” he asked.

“Like a taxi,” I replied, “but without a taxi driver.”

He laughed and slapped my back.

That night Dr Platypus was waiting, prone and propped on one elbow, glitching slowly across water the colour of yogurt. I ticked a, a, a, and finally a. My grandmother had died young of 'Dentin.' My grandfather had lived until 93.

I had his sour taste in furnishings and my grandmother's nose. His diagnosis was fast and crisp:

.......upstairs, the running water, always the running water. I checked my search history. 24 minutes ago someone had searched, 'best bb sauce'. I rotated the mauve book 38 degrees.

Outside I heard an engine and pushed a finger slowly through the curtain. The car had gone. Again. Every time I thought I had things figured this happened.
I rotated the yellow block 12 degrees and then checked my search history: 'strangest mammals.'

This was a game changer.

The buzzing had stopped. Maybe the poison had worked, I couldn't be sure, but I was sure of the maths: B - S always equaled 12 and always turned up green.

I rotated the block and realized I hadn't checked the oven.

The oven was big, big enough to climb inside. The griddle diddle could mean many things. I'd never dared turn it on!

I needed him.....

I was woken at 5 am.

I opened the porch door and Jason held up his hand.

“There are wheels,” he said, “beneath the skin. You need to open that shit up,” he said.

I chewed on my cereal and watched as he held his hands up to the morning sun. That night Dr Platypus demanded money. I immediately entered my bank details.

He appeared from behind a poorly rendered rock, his mouth crammed with dead pixels. I ticked c, then b, f, and e. His response was preternaturally swift.

Cut your jeans short. Always button to the neck. Oh, and go fuck yourself.

Next morning, as we walked out toward the fields, Jason panicked. He sprinted ahead I followed fast, past the glowing, polychrome walls of the cathedral, across the old Bridge and up time pastel steps.
He accelerated along the tow path, then dived down through brambles and stinkweed. When I caught up he was squatting and chewing on a stalk.

“I don't know what I feel about big butts,” he said.

By the time I sat down in front of Dr Platypus, my mind felt like a bagful of broken latches.

The pond was empty. His stethoscope undulated like eel over brick shaped ripples and I couldn't think straight.

I clicked panic. Anus, car insurance and French cheese.

The water began to bubble. The bubbles rose in the air like used condoms. One popped and there, centre screen, dripping in weed and suckled by leeches, his diagnosis:

Kill yourself.


Kat’s Curiosity by John H. Dromey

As part of his hush-hush job as a courier for a top-secret security organization, Hugh Bradley routinely hand carried sensitive medical specimens to a research lab to be tested for the virus suspected of causing zombieism. In sympathy with his bosses, who wanted to prevent a public panic, Hugh took his confidentiality oath very seriously.

On one occasion only Hugh took his work home with him very briefly because he badly needed a shower and a change of clothes.

“What’s with the bag?” his jealous girlfriend Katherine asked him. Because he kept such odd hours, she’d suspected for quite some time that he might be having an affair.

Hugh was an accomplished liar and, based on past experience watching so-called reality television programs with her, he thought Kat was credulous enough to believe just about anything he told her.

“I’ve joined a bowling league,” he said, setting the spherical bag down next to the door.

As soon as his back was turned, Kat opened the zipper just far enough to reach in with her hand. She pulled it back out almost immediately and closed the zipper. Her boyfriend was none the wiser.

After Hugh left, Kat waited five minutes and then drove herself to the hospital.

When the emergency room doctor bent over to examine her injury, Kat started salivating as she looked at the top of his head.

“What happened to your finger?” the doctor asked.

“My boyfriend’s bowling ball bit me,” Kat said.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Got Me a Date with an Uptown Girl by Douglas Hackle

After owning a beeper for decades and not receiving a single page on the damn thing, I concluded there must be something wrong with the number. So I called my service provider to change it. As a consequence, I also had to order a new batch of social calling cards, ones that displayed my new beeper number. I placed a bulk order online, got a pretty good deal for 5,000 cards. After the weighty box arrived in the mail a few days later, I got into my car and drove all over town to place the cards; to let people know I was out there in the world, that I existed, that I was a person in need of social interaction.

I left my calling cards on tables and chairs in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices, dental practices, psychiatry practices, and law firms. I left them on the sinks in public bathrooms—men’s and ladies’ rooms alike—in movie theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, and gas stations. On park benches, in bus stops, on the seats of subway cars. I tacked them to utility poles underneath garage sale fliers, above notices for missing cats and dogs. I left them strewn about on the floors and shelves at discount retail stores and supermarkets. I slipped them into the mailboxes of houses, apartments, businesses, and places of worship.

I left my calling cards all over downtown. I left them all over uptown. Three days it took me to get rid of them.

Several months passed before my beeper finally went BEEP, BEEP, BEEP… I was at home in my trailer when it happened, relaxing in my recliner, playing Atari 2600, and smoking a fat, clown tear-laced primo. That my beeper had finally beeped was exciting enough, but I also noticed the number flashing on the device had an uptown area code, which was cause for even more excitement. See, in depositing my calling cards all over my city and its environs, I sought acquaintanceship, friendship, romance, meaningless sex, and anything and everything in between. But the ultimate payoff of this practice was to land a date with an uptown girl. At least that had always been the dream of this downtown man.

“Hello,” a young woman’s voice picked up when I called the number.

“Uh, hi. I’m Kranlin Kristofferson VIII. Did you, like, just page me?”

“Yes. Hi, I’m Juliet. I found one of your calling cards in the tomato bin at the grocery store.”

“Oh, cool. So, are you like a real uptown girl?”

“Yes, I am. I’m beautiful, blonde, rich, classy, cultured—the whole nine yards. Did you just call me on your cell phone?”


“Then why didn’t you just put your cell phone number on your calling cards instead of your beeper number? I didn’t even know what a beeper was until I googled ‘beeper’ after I found your card. You’re probably like the last person on Earth who still uses one of those things.”

“I suppose I could’ve put my cell number on the cards instead.”

“And what’s with this whole calling card thing to begin with? Who even does that? It’s weird. And creepy. I mean, has anyone ever passed out social calling cards like this?”

“Uh, yeah. I mean, I think so. I think people did it back in the olden days sometimes.”

“Is it still the olden days?”

“Are you always this sarcastic?”


“Hey, would you like to maybe—you know—go out on, like, a date with, uh, like, me sometime, maybe?”

“Pick me up at seven,” Juliet said before she hung up.


I used the last of my life savings to rent a stretch limo for the date. Unfortunately, I could only afford the limo and not a driver to drive it. Looks like I’d have to be my own chauffer. After I picked up the wheels, I purchased a James Bond costume from the bargain bin at the Halloween store. See, I wanted to impress Juliet by wearing a tuxedo, but I didn’t even own a suit, let alone a tux. I sure as shit couldn’t afford to rent one after shelling out the dough for the limo. The James Bond Halloween costume was essentially a fake tuxedo, so it would just have to do. Back at my trailer, I shat, showered, shaved, and doused myself in Axe body spray. On my way out the door I grabbed a CD I’d created earlier in the day that consisted solely of the song “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel played over and over again like a hundred times.

Somewhere along the highway during the ride from downtown to uptown, with “Uptown Girl” playing at a low, comfortable volume, I realized I didn’t know where the hell I was going. Juliet had never given me her address. So I called her on my cellie.

“Hello, Kristofferson,” my beeper’s unmistakable, tinny, babyish voice answered on the other end.

What the fuck! I thought as my right hand pulled off the steering wheel to grapple at my right hip, where my beeper should have been clipped to the elastic waistband of my fake tuxedo pants.

It wasn’t.

“Where the hell are you?” I barked.

“I’m at Juliet’s mansion. You know, uptown. I’m on a date with her. A fuck-first-eat-later kind of date, if you know what I mean. Heh-heh. Sorry, but I gotta go now.”

“Now just you hold on a minute you little shit. That’s MY uptown girl you’re with! You tell me where you are. Gimme her goddamn address—RIGHT NOW, ASSHOLE!”

“Sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t do that, Kristofferson. And by the way, I quit. Go find yourself a new beeper. Better yet, maybe it’s time you catch up to the twenty-first century and stop using beepers and those ridiculous calling cards and that terrible Axe body spray.”

“Why you motherfuck—”

“Don’t be cross, boss. Or ex-boss, I should say. Hey, I’m not such a bad beeper. In fact, I felt kinda bad about this whole business. So after I slipped away from you earlier today, I decided to hook you up, mofo! Press the button to lower the privacy partition in your limo, take a look in the back, and you’ll see just what I mean.”

Bristling with rage I pressed the button to lower the tinted sheet of glass that separated me from the passenger area. I glanced up at the rearview mirror to see a ripe corpse propped up all the way in the back. Despite the bloating and the liquefying stage of putrefaction, I recognized the body as belonging to a former neighbor of mine from the trailer park: Ol’ Man Jenkins, an elderly, morbidly obese man who had somehow managed to hang himself in his trailer not two weeks prior. Now this colossal stiff was in my limo, still wrapped up in his plus-size death-suit, only now he sported a wig of long, shiny platinum hair, and his thin, receding lips were all gooped-up with this garish, blood-red lipstick to create a grotesque, clownish effect. And that enormous belly of his looked like it might burst at any second under the mounting pressure of the corpse gases brewing within.

“Ta-da!” my beeper said. “I made you your very own uptown girl!”

“I’m gonna find you, you obsolete little shit,” I said, my voice shaky with angry. “You hear me, you sonofabitch? And when I do, I’m gonna spike you down at the ground and stomp you into a million bits and pieces!”

“Hey, good talk, bro, good talk. But I gotta go, yo. Juliet’s about to give me an A+, uptown blowjob.” To my chagrin, I heard Juliet giggling in the background. “Sorry you don’t appreciate the parting gift that took me so much trouble to acquire and prepare for you. So see ya never again, dickface. Ah-hahahaha…”

My former beeper then hung up on me.

I glanced back at the grisly thing in the backseat. Shuddering, I slapped the button to raise the tinted glass so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore. Not sure what to do next, I turned up the volume of “Uptown Girl” a few notches and just kept driving, eventually getting off the exit ramp to uptown. As I navigated the mansion-lined avenues of the uptown hills, I couldn’t help glancing in the rearview mirror at that tinted glass barrier, a pit of dread ballooning in my guts. At some point the intercom beeped, startling me.

“Taaaake meeee back to the cemeteeery,” Ol’ Man Jenkins croaked through the speaker. “Lower me back into my graaaaave. Then stay down there with meeeeeee. We can play Empire Strikes Back down there. You can be Luke Skywalker, and I’ll be that tauntaun that froze to death on Hoth. You can cut open my gas-filled belly and then climb inside. It will smell bad, but it’ll keep you warm and protect you from the frigid Hoth niiiiiiiiiiiiight.”



But sadly enough, it appeared I didn’t have anything better to do.

“Okay, Ol’ Man Jenkins,” I said, defeated. “I guess we can go play Empire Strikes Back in your grave.” I paused. “Hey, you know what?”

“Whaaaaaat?” the horrifying, undead voice rasped through the intercom.

“You’re my uptown girl.”

“And youuuu, you are my downtown maaaaaaan.”

I smiled and frowned at the exact same time, blinked away boiling hot, chimpanzee-semen tears from my crispy tater tot eyes, and took a big, apple-like bite out of a Rubik’s cube that I’d brought along for a snack.

“That’s what I am,” I said, grinding colorful plastic between my molars.

The Scab-Begger by Zoltan Komor

The scab-beggar steps to me on the street and asks for some dry wounds. He can see that my arm is full of crusty layers and he's already eyeing a big wound on my elbow, the one I wanted to buy a pack of smoke with. It's such a long time since I’ve smoked—the overhead charges take away all of my wounds and I can't torchure myself forever.

I look the scab-beggar up and down. What a miserable little fellow. Since scabs became the new currency only weak-kneed, spineless people who haven't got the balls to bruise themselves become poor.

"Grow your own!" I growl at him, covering the wound on my elbow with my bruised hand.

"Please, mister, I'm anemic, my blood doesn't clot correctly..." he snivels, then he adds: "I've got a family to take care of!"

"Then why don't you beat them like every other decent person does?" I yell at him, suddenly remembering my father who beat the crap out of us every night when I was a kid so he could take us to the zoo on the weekend. He was a great man, but finally he took too much weight on his shoulders. He and my mother decided they should save some scabs for a new house. So they had a big fight every night and beat each other hard for the wound-coins. It wasn't easy for dad because he was also torchered in his workplace all day long. So the house... They couldn't save enough for the house because my father dropped dead after a few months. I think that's when I decided that I'd never get married and have children.

"Their blood doesn't clot either, ’cause they haven't eat for quite a long time!" the beggar cries. "You're not gonna leave me alone, are you?"

I sigh and pinch the crusty layer between my two fingers and I tear it up slowly. From behind the brown wound-coin transparent liquid and some blood oozes out. I drop the slimy clot-coin into the beggars palm, who slips it into his pocket thanking me.

I can almost see that he will step into a bar to buy some booze with it. But later I see him in front of a milk automat. He's pushing my wound into its coin slot and suddenly a really good feeling overwhelms me. Though, there's really no reason for me to be happy. After all, I didn't buy any smokes.

I go home. The sounds of infant crying and beating can be heard coming from the neighbour. Maybe a mother is kicking a newborn so she can buy more diapers for it. I'm cutting myself with a kitchen knife when an image pops into my mind from my childhood. I was seven, kneeling in the middle of the room, scratching up a dry wound from my knee that I'd got falling off my bycicle. I was saving my wound-coins in a porcelain piggy bank while a bald, chubby politician talked on the tv about how great an idea it was to make scabs the new currency after the usual money became worthless in the big economic crisis.

"The world will never run out of wounds!" He winked from the screen.

This was long ago. I go to bed. In my dream I see pigs with foaming mouths eating my wounds from a rusty trough. I wake up later with the dark suspicion that the politican in the tv was wrong, even the world can run out of wounds.

Houses of Paper by Nathan Wunner

Trevor’s nose is bleeding and his eyes are rolling back in his head. He feels the blistering black edges of death gripping him tightly and pulling him down. In his mind he pictures the whole universe coming undone, the distance between stars becoming infinite as all of creation’s desire to expand and multiply is tearing it apart from inside.

His body growing cold, and knowing that he has very little time before the lights go out on everything, forever, Trevor frantically recalls a happy memory and grabs hold of it like a life preserver.

There’s soft jazz playing in the next room. Trevor feels a cozy fire at his back and a warmth in his abdomen which could only come from a whiskey bottle. He feels silk clothes on his skin, wool socks on his feet. His vision is only slightly blurred because of the alcohol; just enough to give everything a vibrant, warm halo.

Trevor taps his fingers upon a black oak desk and hums along with the music, not caring if he misses a beat. He takes another sip of whiskey and holds it in his mouth, sloshing it back and forth across his tongue and letting it burn.

Across from him is a window, and through it he sees that the ground outside is covered in snow. Fat snowflakes leisurely drift down to the earth to mingle with others of their kind. The horizon is a dark and radiant blue.

Julie enters the room, wearing a tight skirt that clings to her hips and a top that reveals an acceptable amount of cleavage without looking slutty. Her curly red hair spills around her shoulders like the froth at the bottom of a waterfall. She holds a bottle of champagne in her right hand and her left hand rests upon her hip. In a blur of motion Trevor finds himself on his feet and tasting her lips. He buries his head in her flowing hair and his senses are overwhelmed by the scent of that wretched conditioner she’s been using for the last six years.

No, no. Stop. That’s not right.

Julie bought a new conditioner. New makeup. Dyed her hair black.

It’s my fucking consciousness, Trevor thinks. I’ll make this moment work if it’s the last thing I do.

Trevor and Julie awkwardly shrug off their clothes as they make their way upstairs. Julie’s nipples are wide and perky and her skin is soft, like a pillow that’s been left out in the sunlight. Her polished fingernails fumble with Trevor’s belt buckle, then his zipper, and finally, with his flaccid cock.

Shit, Trevor thinks. I can’t get it up. Everything can’t be perfect for the last time if I can’t get it up. He tries to back out of this moment, to recall another memory in his mind’s eye, but it’s too late. Everything is falling apart faster than he’d thought it would. He has to make do with what he has.

Trevor imagines himself taking viagra. His memories become so entwined with his fantasies of how he wishes things were that he can’t tell the two apart.

Julie is wearing leather and fishnet stockings, a whip in hand, rivulets of blood seeping from the corners of her mouth. She sits on the stairs with her legs spread wide; pale white thighs with a creamy pink center out in full view. Trevor, engorged, strokes himself furiously.

Outside the sky is cracking in half. The snowflakes have all frozen in place in mid-air. Everything is frigid and iced over, even the interior of the house.

It's as though all of creation wants nothing more than to stifle Trevor’s erection.

Trevor’s hands find Julie’s throat as he thrusts inside of her. Julie squeezes her tits together with her biceps and licks her lips. Her vagina is the last light and heat left in the world.

Trevor squeezes her neck tighter and he thinks, “If it weren’t for you, I’d be perfect. I’d never feel inadequate. I’d be a God.”

In his death throes Trevor fails to realize that this is his own fantasy, a universe of his own creation; that he is Julie, fucking himself.

The walls of Trevor’s house are dripping with blood one second and on fire the next. Julie is lying dead face down on the floor, bleeding from the mouth, her feet still twitching as her brain tries to make sense of what’s happened. Then she’s on her feet, speaking in reverse, spreading her legs and crab-walking backwards up the stairs with a smile plastered to her face. The snow outside is falling upwards into the sky.

Trevor is trying to hold on just a little while longer.

Julie takes the first two fingers of her left hand and rubs her clit rapidly, reclining her neck, letting her hair fall backwards, feeling her spine tense. She speaks in that sultry voice she’d reserve for her most playfully flirtatious and private moments, and she says “This…” and as she speaks she looks down at her genitals and nods knowingly, “This is the whole of human history summed up into one moment. Cosmic amoeba with an uncontrollable desire to breed and multiply. This is the best you could do.” She reaches her fingers up into her vagina and pulls them out, and then thrusts them back up again.

Trevor feels a tug at the back of his skull pulling him away. He watches the orbits of a dozen planets decay, sending them plunging into their respective suns. He watches galaxies collide in reverse, while the stars that were born in the process collapse into themselves and disappear into the nothing that they originated from. He watches everything grow still and cold.

In the midst of all this, still desperately clutching his limp penis, he hears Julie’s voice. “Was it worth the suffering, and the pain, and the knowledge that you’ll never be alive again, just for this moment? Is this what you wanted?”

And Trevor answers like any true and knowing God would, by saying “I don’t know what I wanted.”

Silver Threads by Joseph J Patchen

“Officer all I was doing was trying to warn anyone who could hear me. All I was trying to do was to save the innocent.”

It was just a few minutes after dawn and the patrol officer questioning the disheveled elderly man was himself in a hurry. “Which is why you were running up and down the street at 5 a. m. screaming?”


“And you threw pebbles and small stones at windows of the houses and automobiles?”


“So, what is this terrible thing causing you to play Paul Revere?”

“Officer, you would expect fright to always stalk the night and to be the darker darkness in the black. I have seen it come as swirling mists of white oozing out of the vast quiet void. Just take a look at the light emanating in their eyes bright; in the yellow, red and white of their sockets wide; comprising hypersensitive sight. As they stalk the day bathed in rays of gold, slithering in plain sight, Hell bent to torment young and old; the silver worms of dread and rot whose green trails never clot, march forth.                                                                                                                                           

“They come for me. They want my thoughts. They crave my dreams and thirst for all of my ideas and theories that my intellect has wrought. They crawl into my ears, nose and mouth gnawing the grey until its brown; they creep in my head without a sound until I’m dead and my body is found empty like a husk.

“They will do the same to everyone in this neighborhood and the same to you.”

The police office pauses for a moment and composes himself. It has been a long shift. He has had to deal with drunkards, perverts, and an attempted armed robbery. “Listen buddy, I am off patrol in ten minutes and have a hot date, I mean a really hot date with a grateful coed I gave a warning to on Route 8. I don’t have time to bring you into a psyche ward or into lock up at the precinct. Understand? Why don’t we do this, you tell me where you live and I’ll give you a ride there. You take a nice hot shower, get a nice cold drink. Hell, have a shot or two with a beer chaser for all I care. Get some rest and just forget about all this worm stuff.”

‘I can’t, they’re here.”

“Where? Where? It’s broad daylight and all I see is me and you. Do I have to look into your ear to see them?”

‘No sir, I suggest you use a mirror.’

“Oh, I see you are a smart ass. You know I can take into the woods up Route 8 and leave you there. So cut the crap.”

‘Yes sir. But I suggest you do look in a mirror and question the thin trickles of blood emerging from your ears.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mustard Genius by G. Arthur Brown

Vintage Clue games became the hot item on eBay once Simon figured out that you could grind up Col. Mustard with a pestle and mortar, and then make tea from the residue. You’d steep this tisane for about 20 minutes in 200 degree water. Then you’d slam it. And you’d better be sitting down because it fucks you up big time.
Simon, since he was the first to do it and did it as often as he could, was the first to ascend to the rank of Mustard Genius. In layman’s terms, the drug had a terribly destructive effect on the body while boosting the brainpower of the user to levels unheard of. Simon was wheelchair bound and nearly immobile in less than a year. He couldn’t even feed himself or make Mustard Tea. But we got him one of those Stephen Hawking Speak & Spells and he was solving all kinds of equations and riddles and mysteries. With the power of his mind.
He was the first but he was certainly not the only Genius to come along. In the beginning, most of them just hooked themselves into the World Wide Web and argued over who, in fact, was God here.
Simon was better than that. He spent a lot of time at the observatory having astronomers describe what they were seeing to him. His eyesight wasn’t what it once was. He now saw like a bee. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly never seen a bee looking through a high power telescope.
Fuck! One time I did see a monkey looking into a microscope, though. He was a circus monkey named something like Raskill or Rashnash or Rishiraja. I came into the lab and I distinctly laid eyes on him in the act of making an observation. He had glasses and a lab coat on and everything. When he saw me, he turned his head, bared his teeth and made a simian shriek, like he was tricking me into thinking he was just some stupid monkey. But I knew better. Because I recognized the distinct yellowish stains around his mouth that come from drinking a lot of Mustard Tea. He was a fucking Genius Monkey. And he was doing science right in front of me! As soon as I told his handler, they fired his ass, but he got a job with a local real estate agency not long after. I see his goddamn face all over the billboards and benches in the neighborhood they make me live in now.
Yeah, I have to live in a special neighborhood now, because I’m one of the people who is not a Mustard Genius. I tried that shit like once, but it’s just not my thing. Come to that, being smart is not really my thing neither. I’d rather fucking watch the circus and shit. Now they don’t even have monkeys, though, and some of the horses are looking pretty smart. Soon the horses will be smarter than me. Then what’s left? Elephants? Fuck. Those fuckers hate tea. So I guess I’m safe there.
Anyways, me and Simon were hanging out in the elephant pen after a show. It was the best. You have to get used to the smell, but after that, there’s nothing sweeter. Serious, bro. Just me and Simon and his Speak & Spell and some fucking elephants. It’s the life.
Simon figured out a way to get his machine to do elephant trumpet sounds, and he was talking to those fuckers and getting them to do all kinds of cool things like stand on their back legs and spray water on us and rob banks and shit. Pretty cool. But Simon also agrees that they shouldn’t be allowed to get smart, so he’s not telling them about Mustard Tea and that’s fine by me.
People keep offering me Mustard Tea. Kids always rolling up on motorized scooters with their stained up mouths. I always decline. I say I’m allergic. Helps with the peer pressure. Plus, that shit is super expensive now because there are only so many old games in existence. I can pretend I’m too poor.
When no one is looking I’ll dunk Prof. Plum in my regular tea, just for a little flavor, but I swear I’m growing a second dick. There’s a little hermit crab-looking thing that lives in the new cock’s foreskin, so I wouldn’t really recommend Plum dunking to humans or to elephants. Just stick Miss Scarlet up your ass while you masturbate. You’re better off.

Beautiful Ash by Matthew Masucci

“Sam, did you know that it takes about 1500 degrees to reduce a body to ash?” John sunk the spade back into the ground. “How deep, do you think?”
Sam shrugged.
“Deep enough,” John said.
“Things are never deep enough.”
Sam was never here like everyone else. His eyes focused on the hole in the dark earth. “The glassblower God forms dust into balls of glowing lanterns. Our time is as thin as paper. When all is ash, we become the dust that becomes the glass that lights the skies. Dad will be a lantern for future skies.”
John lifted the lid of the wooden box and pulled out a bag of ash. His father’s ashes weighed seven or eight pounds. He would make a big tree.
John poured the ash into the hole, placed a sapling on top.
“Hold this.”
Sam steadied the tree while John filled the hole.
“Beautiful,” Sam said.
They stood there, looking skyward at a great lantern swollen red, awaiting rebirth.

Shadows and Pillows by Jeremy Maddux

I sit in the darkened bar, blending into the crisp shadows until I appear to be made of smoke like everyone else here. I build tiny monuments to oblivion with glass after glass of Cascadian dark ale, Tramadol and Hydrocodone. Sometimes Diazepam too, which I am directed to take by a presence higher than any earthly authority. I am free of my strings tonight, so I enjoy the light show. Fog machines and goth girls traipsing through the imagined ether like runaway construction paper cutouts.
You could go over there, my advisory shadow says. You could actually go over there and dance with them. It could be reality and not just a dream. You’d just have to move more than your hands and mouth for once, as grim a prospect as it might be.
I shake off the cerebral blitz of prescription meds and alcohol. Eyes are constantly tearing up on the stuff because they bring enlightenment and rapture I can share with no one else. But maybe I can. I ask my shadow to save my seat while I go mingle with the cute pinup pixie nobodies. I start with a bit of feet shuffling, trying to direct all of myself at the lithe one that is swishing her elbows and hips to Bauhaus. She doesn’t notice me at first, so I try to get her attention, hoping to skip the dance and return to my sedentary position by my shadow.
“How about a beer?”
Everything happens so fast I forget to blink. She gently taps me on the forehead and turns her back on me. That actually just happened!? My shadow laughs at me back at the table in the corner. He has company. My face has exploded in deep bursts of red distributed from my orbitals down to the scruff of my neck.
Defeated, I slouch back to the seat it didn’t save. It’s the Manager. Not of the bar, but of acquired taste. His face droops at the sight of me. That piteous gaze fills me with hope that I’m not wrong about my one sided convictions, that bold action leads to swift defeat. That inaction is truth, which is an honorable enough trait despite the boredom it brings.
You could have danced, my shadow says. Really danced. She was within your grasp.
No one is within anyone’s grasp, I rebut.
He’s right, though. Had I carried the action out and seen it to its logical end, we might have connected. We might have had something to celebrate a year from now.
“Everyone is within everyone’s grasp,” the Manager says.
I respectfully disagree, I say, respectfully disagreeing.
No need to punish yourself, my shadow says. That will come later.
I drop three crow’s feet on the table. Two for my tab and one for the Manager.
As my shadow trails me out of the Burgess Bar & Grill, the goth girl I failed to charm replaces me at the table we’d previously occupied. There is no doubt within my mind that they’ll have something to celebrate a year from now.
We pass through shelved barriers of night, stick figures directing traffic as I argue with the submerged entity of my immaterial leftovers.
It’s too late for any of that. The cards have been dealt. The die has been cast.
Bullshit. You never let anyone get the best of you, so they do it anyway. Loneliness is not set in stone. You are not a wandering archetype. Sadness and rejection do not the building blocks of a well-balanced human being make.
I should have ordered a slice back there. I haven’t eaten since the blackout.
Don’t mention that again.
Don’t mention what? The blackout?
Next thing I know, I’m six blocks ahead and a corner away from my stoop on Broadbelt Street.  The mailbox with the flamingo ornamentation darts out at me. It’s that or the booze and pills.  Mailboxes have no tolerance for drug use.
My shadow has left me alone due to the cutting word. I used it twice, so I shouldn’t have to deal with it for at least 48 hours. Make no mistake. Words have power. It’s simple really, just take a word that penetrates an enemy in such a way that they can’t help but acknowledge its power and you’re home free. I use the word blackout for my shadow, because it breaks up the ice in me and that psychopomp can’t afford to thaw. With any luck, it’ll be gone for 72 hours now.
I heave myself up the steps with what little energy remains and turn the knob. I just hope the bed linens have been changed and made. If not, it could be a long time before I sleep again.
The living room is covered in debris, as usual. My lemen (lemur/men hybrids) are splaid across couch cushions, flaking out on Monkey Bleach, which is slang for Hawaiian Baby Woodrose paste. Their life spans have never surpassed eight years, so I say let them enjoy their short duration highs before the inevitable euthanasia. I start to sit down beside Spry, the most chipper of the bunch but just as I crouch, there’s a knock at the door. Four rapid fire pecks, which could only belong to Codeine, a female grifter who can open bottles and pop corks with the muscles in her cooch. If you can’t roll with the punches in this society, you get left behind.  No one with such a talent as Codeine’s could ever get left behind.
I answer the door with the hopes that tonight something could happen that makes me feel alive instead of just coasting. As I open the door to let her in, she’s already smacking her lips against the smooth surface of her techpipe. Her eyes are phosphorescent orbs striking me down with icy intention. She holds up her phone so I can see the screen, which reads LOW BATTERY.
Finally exhaling a cloud of sizzling silver vapor, she cups the back of my neck with affection.
“Mind if I borrow your charger?”
I tell her I don’t mind her using me to charge her phone, but I insist on her using a plug in that is not above the belt, as those areas don’t get used as much. And, of course, if you don’t use it, you lose it, as they say.
Before I can even direct her phone down to my shaft, she slips the charger into my mouth. The port finds a connection and begins siphoning energy from my headspace.
“Thank you so much. In exchange, I’ll go make up the bed.”
So the night isn’t a total loss, I think out loud. Codeine makes eye contact, a million galaxies pinging off of each other in the stillness of her reflected sight. She’s the best medicine there is, I think, but I can’t get a prescription for her.
“You wouldn’t know what to do with me if you had me, honey,” she says from the other room.  “It’s better this way.”
She’s right. I probably wouldn’t. She leaves and returns after about an hour when the ambient sound of a fully charged phone summons her back to my side. I focus the arrow of my being at some innocuous corner of the room as she unplugs the port, taking a miniscule string of saliva with it. 
“You have this problem with drooling, don’t you?” Her comment is harmless, but she grabs both sides of my face to ensure that our eyes engage.

Something more is lost here than just a simple disconnect. After she leaves, I realize that a thankless job I just performed. And will perform again. And again, ad nauseum.
At least I can sit down now. I go to my bedroom to make sure she served her function, that she performed her thankless job as efficiently as I did mine. It appears she did.
Fresh, cool sheets under a warm plaid blanket, rolled back in that expert fashion usually met only by housekeeping standards. And the pillow…  Oh God, it’s so fluffed and welcoming that I barely notice its narrow concave slits for eyes.
I missed you, I say but it comes out in such a whimper that I briefly hide my face with the brim of my hat. I begin peeling off the many layers of clothing I’d adorned earlier in order to face the blasting winds of Coroner Town. No rest for the wicked, but I’d been an exemplary citizen for one day, at least.
I remove the final skin, that of the shorts I’d placed under my pants. No underwear to worry about, because fuck underwear confinement. My weary vessel collapses on the platform of sleep. I lay my head back to be absorbed by the pillow with kitten-like eyelids. Arms begin to form out of the muffling mass of fabric. They go up and down my upper body mass, starting at the temples and ending at my hands which are folded back behind my head.
I wish it could always be this way, I think out loud. The pillow opens its mouth to receive me as I backslide into the purgatorial melancholy to which I am already resigned.

“What would you like to dream tonight?” The pillow asks in the warmest female tone.
I know I can never have that one from Friday back, can I?
“You know that’s not up to me,” it says in a gilded gossamer voice of motherly intonation.

Then just give me something impossible, please.