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  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Friday
Nov212014

Amen

After it all came down and we knew the fires burned most everywhere, we cowered in our various holes and waited out the worst. But the worst kept on coming, so some of us lifted our heads in the oily air and, timidly at first, stepped back into silent streets that had once screamed our gaudy dominion.

Almost silent. In those dark canyons, between the edifices we once called skyscrapers, high rises, their very names dripping with hubris, flapped the occasional bird that had found new places to nest. Pigeons, hawks, more and more crows. At night, the bats came instead. These buildings, especially the older, more organic stone and masonry types, had become strange cliffs, home to small creatures, looming shabbily above quiet streets dotted with abandoned or burned-out cars: yellow cabs, tourist buses, delivery vans, once-black power rides gone charcoal with dust and debris and the shame of recall.

The hollow silence of the streets, punctuated by the lazy flap and echo of some baffling new bird, both awed and frightened me. That we'd been brought this low. That while we'd thrust and bellowed, our Achilles had been sliced. And behind it all, the greater silence of the East and Hudson rivers, absent their ghost freight, and the even louder silence of the shocked continent, everything from sea to gunmetal sea rocking back and forth like psychosis.

It was about this time I first saw you. Despite the grime that clung to your clothes and hair, the dust and human stink, you were a tarnished apparition, a stained goddess to me.

I held out my hands in supplication; you side-eyed me and moved away.

The next time I saw you, all of history was being reduced to the echo of a long howl, our planet's geometry incised by lines of brilliant sun fire and blackest shadow, you and I alone in a dwindling penumbra where all nuance was leaching away, taking all hope with it.

I was brokenhearted. You were stern. Then angry. And finally exasperated.

"What is it with you?" you screamed at me. "What the fuck do you want?"

I thought about it and we locked eyes—me inconsolable, you incandescent, all else irreparable. For all I knew, my answer, moving no god to pity, yet a human cry to match the avian shrieks and screeches, was the last prayer ever uttered in this condemned place.

"Place me in a bright house on a shining hill under cerulean skies and with views of a luminous bay. Return to me the fresh, inchoate world."

Saturday
Nov152014

Joker's Wild

*Warning about possibly upsetting content*

He supposed it was a cliché to say she'd pay and pay dearly, though it didn't make it any less true.

After the two-year civil war, here was the end game, the last battle. Bitch got the house and the kids, even the '78 Mustang, which made no sense to him given she hated it, ridiculed it, called it his plaything, his cock enlargement. Yeah, funny. A real joker. Whose best punchline was to sue for child support.

He'd been worn down and now felt broken at last. What was it his daddy used to say? "You hit rock bottom, jus' grab a rock and start hittin'." Seems everyone's a comedian. Har de fuckin' har. Well, his sense of humour was all but played out.

It was a fine afternoon—blue skies and cool September air—one he'd normally enjoy. Throw a choice ribeye cut on the grill, crack open a cold one, blast some Hank or some Merle, see who showed up. Well, he was gonna enjoy this in a whole new and interesting way, he supposed. Time to throw in his hand and let the cards fall where the fuck ever.

He was surprised at how easy it was to walk in the double doors. The first person who spoke to him ("Sir, can I help you? You need to report to—") he dispatched quickly, although he flinched at the dragon roar in the hallways.

He knew which classroom the cunt taught in, though, and it was close by. He'd make sure she was the last in the room to die, see what she'd wrought. Okay, second last.

Friday
Nov072014

Unbounded

She couldn't have been there back then, but my memory insists she was. Hard to believe it was once a happy place, before its paint was scraped and peeled and its planes and angles eroded by storms and salt, like driftwood, like a stunted tree on a dune extending its raw chin boneheadedly seaward. But there were moments. Those shell games, dare games, chill games unique to seashores and lonely children. I still could swear I knew her then.

First, things change. Then people change. Might have gotten that backwards. It doesn't matter.

As a teenager I took to hitchhiking my way around the state. Saw many a strange thing. One late fall I remember being dropped off by a dull, obliging farmer and standing in a fine rain by Third Ditch Road, out by the corn stubble and the unending flat grey world, and thinking, Damn country's so big they ran out of names

Something is here, watching me. Something also without name, insouciant and alien as the land itself. Always knew it was there. Couldn't ever fully hide. Couldn't ever stay silent enough or blend enough. Me or it, I mean. I think of it as a hulking insect, an immense bug-thing, lurking amid the pooled ink shadows at the edge of a wood, observing me with unfathomable eyes that never blink.

We had agency once. Things happened, some good, some not so good. Played ball in the street, smoked weed out behind the fire hall, shot raccoons from the trees at twilight. Show me yours and I'll show you mine. Suck me. Fuck you. Absorbed it all; now watch me spit it back out.

The last thing she says to me is this:

"How dare you live life like it matters?"

She has a nice way of talking and an even nicer way of looking. I like how her black hair falls on her shoulders, how her eyes are never the same colour, how a slightly raised eyebrow changes her smile utterly.

The last thing I ever say to her is this:

"They'll be looking for me. But they won't find me."

My legs move like scissors, cutting away the incalculable miles, moving in one eternal straight line toward that place I recall, the one that seems bleached by its own sad history, diluted by sun and tide, rundown by those ceaseless tales of sorrow, and I come to it at last—both of us barely even suffering now—to this quiet, chill place without dreams or tenancy.

Friday
Oct312014

Eldritch

So they finally caught me. Lay in wait up on the escarpment, in the howling dark of a wretched unholy night, and now here I am in this vast dim room lit by glowing things, some kind of floating green worms whose existence I must doubt. Because that's the only plan I have left: doubt all of it, and maybe none of it is happening.

I love you, Marita Rose. You were always my cliché dream girl, my über shining one, my mamacita.

But did you tell them where I was hiding? Did you? If not, where were you when I kept my side of the rendezvous that night?

"You always did have an imagination to die for," you once told me.

"Try living in my nightmares if you think that."

"I never said it was a good thing. Besides, how do you know I'm not?"

Feels like the room itself is breathing, its breath sultry, fetid. The glowing worms pulsate in time to a low wavering hum. What manner of thing has snared me in its web?

It's impossible to ignore the doors: tall mahogany dreamlike portals that disappear into the ceiling haze like redwoods. But it isn't how they look that's chilling me to the bone marrow. No, it's the sounds and the smells that seep from beyond their dark cracks: shrieks, whimpers, sobs; wet sounds, like a spinal column being sucked and slowly coerced from its torso, like a peeled face and scalp flapping loose over a moaning skull, like a brainpan crunched to soaking dust between immense tusks; awful smells of spilled guts, the gamey copper of blood, the sour reek of rent viscera.

Girl, where are you? Will you come?

But they are about to open the doors. I don't want them to. I am six years old and the closet doors are rattling. Fuck. Fuck! Please, don't open those doors, okay? Just don't—

I step up to the escarpment on a hellish night, relieved I have been dreaming. But something's wrong. My girl isn't here. Was she captured? Marita Rose, I need you by me. What are those strange lights …? What—?

Friday
Oct242014

Elephants and Starfish

And we're in the bay, strolling on the boardwalk that juts into the bay, the haphazard jumble of townhouses and shabby greenspace and rusted wharf buildings that overhang the bay barely giving us a glance. A disinterested late summer afternoon.

The water below us is clear, hubcap-sized starfish the colour of aubergines and mandarins splayed on dark rocks. 

"There was never a moment when I believed it," you say. "But never mind, tell me something kind."

I've forgotten what we were talking about, although I love the rhythmic husk of your voice and its easy rhymes. To our left a statue of a dancer, or perhaps a yogi in one of the warrior asanas, seems to move. From the corner of my eye I see you blink, distracted. A herring gull literally screams. Loneliness steals in like a silent comet through Neptune's frigid orbit. The quiet of the air is like the sudden removal of the air and we stare at each other, contemplating panic.

Did you know elephants cry salt tears? That life is so tenacious that there are electric bacteria that eat electrons? That tigers cannot purr? That sleeping on your stomach is more likely to make you dream of sex? That there are more stars in the known universe than all the grains of sand on every beach on earth? That there is a town named Okay, OK?

"I can't breathe," I say.

Your eyes are huge. Galactic centres. Amoebas. Your terror of tsunamis, I think, randomly, is almost phobic. Suddenly, more than anything else, I want to love you.  

Then there's the roar. Local airport, I think, has to be. It's a plane taking off; sometimes they catch the air currents in such a way that it sounds like the coming apocalypse, and with this head-on angle appear like rockets seeking to escape the grip of this teeming globe.

But all the other baywalkers and tourists, weedlovers and West Coast saunterers, they've all stopped in their tracks while the roar only roars more, howls more, filling up the whole dome of the world that used to have air, and we follow everyone's gaze northward. No airplane with rocket dreams. No, we see the roiling infected stems and boiled brain heads of three mushroom clouds where presumably Vancouver once stood, that new-ruined jewel, that universe of memories, that charnel city calling me blindly home while moaning its futile requiem.

Still not able to speak—for what is left to speak about?—we embrace, look out upon the water, read each other's thoughts, and together climb the railing. O starfish. I hope you're okay with unexpected company and more salt tears.