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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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Saturday
Oct122019

High Times

It’s high time we talked about the High Times.

“Closed mouth ain’t gonna get fed.” 

She was a mother and she knew some shit.

We experience all these intense things, second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year, decade to decade, all of them brimming with astonishment, wide-eyed and hoarse with love, yet we die with almost nothing, all these accumulations, dripped as stalactites, dropped like an old backpack, amounting to fucking what exactly?

The neighbors fit all of Eden into their front yard. Green tendrils spilled. Leaves of tubular red. I was with someone before the rainstorm, starting to make out, but she got spooked and left. After which I stood on the porch and thought long and hard about her, and Tom Waits growled a lament from crackling speakers wedged on some nearby sill. Jersey girl, my first and last, how much I cherished you. After the rainstorm, the waters braided like lovers, spiralling and twining, dreaming sclerotic dreams about how they might become partway manifest. A person got murdered that night, after the sun broke past the rainclouds and we gathered in the evening, but I never knew who. Someone played the opening bars of Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” on an electric organ, and we all chilled in the coming night, and someone got themselves slaughtered but we never knew who.

Wait. Let’s do this again, take another run at it. 

She was vehement. She told me she was prejudiced toward people whose shoulders aren’t horizontal. You get that, right? Weakling frames that slope downward, defeated before they start. Feeble half-assed primates, chinless and feckless, like the Trump spawn. And to a lesser degree, those whose earlobes don’t exist. That just join without a proper lobe. “Fuck those people too,” she said. I never could argue with that. She damn near had me on board.

“D’you put the seat down?” 

“I don’t recall.”

“Well, we’ll find out, won’t we?” she said.

Truth? She was terrifying. 

I heard the countervailing cries: “She ain’t the same as you are.”

All such things are relative. Offering a cold beer after an apocalypse is like delivering a truckload of gold in the High Times. To think we cared about politics, about football, about butterflies, about pronouns, about someone able-bodied parking in the handicapped space. About spades and hearts. Before the Great Loss, I drove south through Wisconsin one early fall, got caught up in some biker thing, some end-times rally of aged outlaws, checked into a Travelodge outside Madison along with two hundred slow-moving leather-clad seniors. They were blunt and loud and likeable and no longer capable of violence.

“Bear with us, sir. We have a room that overlooks a field of corn. Or are those sunflowers?”

The High Times were adorable: Opera and spice and guts. Opulence and idle spite and us. 

This night, tonight, the other side of that sliding light, is our night. 

 

Saturday
Sep212019

Mercy

“We had a mind to party, but not no Donner party.” — Unknown 

I never scrubbed that sound from inside my head. That muted eternal shriek. It weren’t anything, really, just a noise that followed us 'cross the salt flats and then the desert into the Cascades, though we heard it every goddamned revolution, each time the axle turned. We tried to plane the wood at night, slice away them nicks and burrs. Nothing worked. Felt like the admonishment of the land itself, crying, wheedling, greeting, long before it had a mind for uprise or defeat. It hollered its plea in earth time not man time. 

Oh woman, you barely have a voice. You cook and you mend our boots and you lie awake nights wishing the very stars would align, like pragmatists. You urge the world to settlements, you mediate. Within this burning valley, and most places yet, you are the best of us.

Dry bone shacks and half collected cairns. Sterile cries across such barren miles. These lands are jawbones aching with carious teeth, sung to by ragtag coyote choirs. Ridgetops bristling. Stout moon rising yellow as infection.

The West, the offhand West, its fragile trickles covert, generous of light though skinflint with drink. No pass unimpeded, no voice left to speak, no dry throat slaked. 

***

“Our house is on fire,” the air whispers.

Chafed and stunned to deadpan, I walked for a day or so and only two vehicles passed. What is this?

The sky is brown umber, the sparsity of trees silhouetted conifers. 

I walk so I can get away from the thing that happened. It was abhorrent. I am only one small girl with a queerly knotted gut in a wheeling galaxy. 

One of the vehicles was a worker bee, some kid on a scooter. He slowed and almost stopped and when I yelled for him to talk to me he spooked like a deer electric and whined his way past. The other was a pickup with a bed full of women and men. The faces of the women in particular told me stories. The men could barely manage a glance. I turned my back.

But where did the world go? Did I flinch and miss it? Feels like just yesterday I was listening to Lana sing about the perils of hope and about Kanye and Plath and how we had it all.

What happened to jasmine and juniper? To the heady riot of spring? To the dance of honeybees and butterflies and the twilit helix gyre of bats? Fireflies and the backdrop trill of cicadas?

How do we measure from span to everloving span, the unutterable link between worlds?

The sky is old blood and stinks the same. 

Our house is on fire. 

I’m here at the cool rusted railing of the bridge. No idea what waits unflappable below, but tell me exactly why I shouldn’t climb over. 

Saturday
Sep142019

Ten Sixty Six

The land’s all gone, the bears are out, and a campfire builds itself. This land. Stragglers gather and reminisce about raisins and avocados. Some of our kind went down to Geneva but were never heard from again. Bless all of you, says the man on the hill, under an ominous sky that looks like a victim. You will be saved, he says. You will love each other. 

Those in the caravan to Helsinki laugh quietly and chew on their nails to the rhythm of the wheels on a belligerent road.

“Was that Jesus?” someone asks in Swedish. 

A quiet voice answers in English. “Makes sense Jesus would be a hitchhiker.” 

“I got a whole story about that.” No one recalls who said that or in what language they said it (but I know, and they weren’t from Scandinavia).

How is it no one warned us, no one told us a guitar is not a penis but a womb? How born are we if we yet don’t know what bore us? How dark are our dreams, how cherished, and how black is our metal?

That honeywoman struts her asymmetric gait, and we all wait, in case her flavour’s bleeding over the tops of everyone’s shoes. Normandy, you think. Alright. These pebble beaches under weighty skies, stale remnants of baguettes, jettisoned recyclables, and cooled moist condoms pushed forgotten into clefts. From here a fleet launched once and changed the world. Tapestries and arrows; the uneasy gyre of tongues. A millennium since, I still can’t let that Gallic swagger eclipse my Saxon stance. I can’t tell the stubble in the field from the stubble you sometimes grow in the sultry valley of your love. You are widespread. And you know, while your grace may be saintlike, the spark of your ardor remains ghostlike. 

“Quick! There’s no line for the Ferris wheel.” 

Our time is now, it’s only now. Soon these frames will sway, broken and rusted, like limbs once bled by ancient butchers. The boardwalk will splinter and rot, foamy spumes reclaiming each kindled plank. A candy apple stick sucked dry and thrust in the eye of a life-size molded Elvis.

The last gull wheeling on a gust, sent by a waning sky over a lifeless swell.

“You totally should.”

“What if I half did instead?”

“Yeah, one of these days you might even manage funny.”

“Ha ha!”

The kindest we can ever do is tell someone we see their pain. Represent. I’ve never seen anyone not break down when someone speaks their suffering aloud. Tells them they are heard. 

Here, though, the last things to leave are deaf. Silent. Empty of applause. No one to remember or proclaim, the unheard flap and ache of a ragged banner the brief and only actual accolade.

Saturday
Sep072019

Song in Neon

Alone now in a motel, sitting not so pretty.

How come all the girls I ever loved are named after cities?

 

Geneva, come back to me. Adelaide, are you there?

Madison and Phoenix, Savannah down in Georgia,

You ain’t so bothered now, but did you ever really care?

 

This animal in my throat, you better hope

It never breaks out. Go home, go home,

Go home now, dance and eat yourself sober. 

I ain’t guilty of this impending crime, I won’t

Admit that any damn thing is ever really over.

 

Things and people come, more often they go,

But all of that’s some half-digested ego. 

 

Red light through blinds like rays of blood,

Walls green with sixteen thousand hangovers.

Was anything we laughed or cried at ever any good?

Were we not even friends when I thought we were lovers?

 

A fool back then, more foolish now. I’ll leave in

The quiet hours under night’s impartial cover,

Slip away, not even someone’s memory or even

Credibly alive, though maybe I was never. 

Sunday
Sep012019

Trash Latitudes

“Come here,” she says, her voice a raw husk, the echoes corvid dreams cast like corn-fed larvae over panoramic fields.

Sullen, you think. 

Bitch, you decide. 

She’s forgotten who she is, but she knows the river churns below, a cascading foam of milk, of frothing milk, of chocolate incursions. How is she able to sit, to let this unfold, while the angry faraway men gather in Armani to strike? 

“Is my presence in your life becoming oppressive?” That’s Roxy. She’s from Dumfries. Her words never err. She once considered escape but now prefers the yanking of chains. 

“It always was. And for that your glimmering skin will fetch top dollar.” 

I can never match her.

“You’re funny.”

Dutifully I nod, but I’m not that funny. 

The sun sets on a season, leaves like brittle cuticles crunched underfoot. Parched unread cataracted pages.

Another turn of the creaking world, another and another. 

The wintry scrape of a dry bow across catgut. The sound of a glacier withdrawing into its own tears. A full-on retreat. A place so cold your eyelashes think they’re weapons. Serious men on a serious stage, you seriously might think. But this isn’t serious. It’s the final laugh of the last good girl stationed on a headland over the last tumescent tide. It’s a hankering. An ache. A flash of loss. A bafflement. 

Roxy knows most things, she thinks. 

But how does she trawl the world? Her mouth must be wider than all the oceans on this overstated earth.

She reads the vast indecipherable room and wonders briefly about tears. 

“You wished I’d gone away?” she asks.

“I wished you’d stayed.”