• 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
    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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Places I Hang Out


Dusk comes with a slow dimming, as if the world's sorrowing.

The people move delicately, their motions precise and penumbral, campfire noises distinct. The world seems formed from grainy points that swirl like quenched lightning bugs. The cough of a burro. A deterrent growl. Cast iron pots. The reek of smoke. Human warmth.

The girl, forgotten a moment, rests on a low wall on the edge of the settlement, waiting for the light to leave the violent rim of the sky. Through the trees, the squat sun spasms and the girl gazes at faraway realms, the serried distant hills like hunched triassic beasts.

Always from new aspects she has craved and surmised great wondrous lands, and now another lies above the horizon, canted over this very world, our sunset cumulus their doomed archipelagos in a bloodsea.

She wonders if they'll come for her. Her people. If they even remember. Her people of phosphorescence in this darkling land. Mayhap their recall is receded into fable, or fashioned into yearning auguries. Unrequited in this life.

A rough hand clasps her arm, drags her campward, and hope rolls back into the sultry vaults of her heart like eyes into a blinded head.

One of these nights, the coyote people will carry the day in this place of wolves, she no longer thinks.


The Draw

We got caught in a dry draw, night falling fast in the small valley at our backs. A ragtag bunch of fugitive daughters and sons and their long shadows, befouled refugees alongside the mockery of refugees.

Where a creek once flowed, some vegetation followed, scabrous and mean, this dry gulch a seam scrawled by a child holding two antitheses of green pencil. To our left, looking skyward, a narrow fan of grey scree, a trod-upon bridal veil.

"We oughta head for higher ground." Lucas had already begun scrambling the talus slope, heavy pack be damned. The dry spray of stones behind his boots was the sound of agitated bones, a charnel house desecration.

I saw if we went further we could still climb, more gradual, mind, and then loop back around, come out in the same damn place, so that's the way I went. Three of our group went the same way, two others clambering after Luke. As we made our own slower course, rejoining our party in time, we heard the others excitable in the hushed gloom.

"We found ourselves a cave!"

Was indeed a darker smudge on a short cliff face, reminiscent of a cavemouth. We seen it before we reached it. Then we reached it.

Before, we'd come up through what was once fruitful pasture, irrigated by man in defiance of an arid climate, now returned to truculent desert itself: cacti, sagebrush, greasewood.

Never could we figure out what happened, fully.

Whatever it was had done for the honeybees and for most of the butterflies, whether through the air or by way of the water, some subliminal thing or a hot toxin, a mite before the unspooling of men's minds. Most went utterly mad. Madder even than usual on this misbegotten earth. Could be some had wandered in pointless circles and fell forward, bashing their loved ones with cast iron pots or digging tools, over and over, while those had bashed right on back till all were crimson pulp on the thirsty ground and no one soul now stood anticipatory. Except us few, our own exemption a puzzlement even to us.

"That ain't no cave. It's a long abandoned mine. Silver or nickel I'm surmising." Luke was already peering into its impossible blind depths.

"What if something got here afore us?" Colette was beside him, also squinting.

I looked around the entrance in light that had near emptied from the world and saw no scat or leavings, human or otherwise.

"Think we're good," I said.

I ran my hands over the rock inside the black maw of the mine and felt the striations and boltholes where posts and beams once gave spurious comfort to the subterraneans inside. Made my nerves dance like heat lightning and my mouth parched as the desert we'd done walked, but with crazies down there roaming all ways to hell and back we hadn't been able to light fires too often, and maybe we could have ourselves a pot of coffee a ways inside the tunnel. Searing hot as the days got, nights could freeze your bone marrow; even a small fire might lift our spirits.

We all seemed to reach a similar opinion without needing words, because everyone up and moved as one inside the darkness, and a couple of us still had batteries back then, so our way was preceded by two dim swordplay beams.

Which was how we first discovered the mutants.



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."


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.



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.