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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
Oct052018

Breaking News

They were going to make this public, live on cable news and all the networks. Facebook and YouTube. 

All pretense had been abandoned, and men in dark religious garb thronged the periphery.

A small black-haired woman with olive skin, barely covered by a white cotton slip and thin as a wishbone, was led in shackles to the stage.

Since there was no one else left to tell this story, she took them up on their token offer of final words. Two minutes were all she had left in the world. She leaned like a nightclub singer into the mic, her manacled hands behind the swanlike curve of her back, a doomed ballerina. 

“If I hadn’t stood with my placard at the last protest, you wouldn’t have been able to tell I was any different from you. And in many ways I’m not.” Her voice shook like the tiny aftershocks of some long-abated cataclysm, but she continued. “I eat and breathe and love my family and my friends. Loved, that is…” Again, she hesitated, a look of abject sorrow passing across her delicate face, so forlorn it silenced the auditorium more than her words.

“Fuck your feelings!” yelled someone in the crowd, after the brief hush.

She breathed in deeply and straightened her posture, a frail young woman wishing she was a warrior, and she continued through the shouted insults: snowflake, cunt, wetback, dyke, libtard

“But they are gone now, as you no doubt know. Everyone I loved. And I know you don’t love me, and even revel in my pain. And that, my tormentors, is where the true difference lies. You were playing to win, as if there were scorecards and touchdowns, baskets, runs, and goals. You grew to hate us when we defended successfully or attacked with passion and skill. Even when we played fair. Especially when we played fair. That seemed to enrage you all the more; perhaps you mistook our joy for piety. But here’s something: we weren’t playing a game. We were doing it to improve the world, to make it better for our friends, for our children, for our neighbors, and for those who had been given fewer chances than others. And also for you, had you but noticed. They’ve played you. This heartless sociopathic coward who was born on third base and even then had to constantly cheat”—among the officials, the elderly white senators and representatives gathered by the stage, there was a brief flurry of activity at this, but she refused to be distracted—“has somehow turned your heads, and you’re now all that’s left. It will be a joyless, determinate world you’re left with, the last of its love leaching away to mingle and be tainted with the toxins now allowed—encouraged, even—by the last futile industries. We wanted to stop all that, make things better. Share the astonishing beauty with our children and theirs, forward into a dream of a future we might have fashioned from our sisterhood, our brotherhood, our commonality, our better angels. You saw it as a game, and you won. But what did you win? Really, what did you win?”

“Enough!” came a voice. A youngish man, prematurely bald, eyes baleful and hooded as something best left in a reeking cave, stepped forward and smirked at her without humor. “Your time is up, in every sense. Your kind is gone from the world now. It is done.” 

At some subtle signal, the clergymen advanced, faces hidden, gleaming swords and deadly knives raised.

The trembling woman closed her eyes, thought of wheeling star fields over summer-night beaches, of a single moment with her little sister—something about a dispute, an offer of cream cake, and a sudden forgiving smile.

“Glory be to power. Power is great!” rang from vast speakers on all sides, and the bloody execution began. 

Friday
Sep282018

Adamant

"Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart." — John Donne

You following that slat-ribbed coydog down the interstate right now?

Ain’t no towns for miles, just fences and cattle, while the sly grey dog lopes west, lost as the sun.

Semi-trailers and campers, pickup trucks and seekers, late in the summer, pass the dog however hard he runs, his loose pink tongue a ribbon soliciting some secret charity. Pay him some mind if you happen to pass by.

Don’t matter his type or breed—wild, border, working, bright as fireflies, resolute as night. Salute him, greet him, unearth the kindness from the dark ore of your heart, show him something virtuous as you pull away, as you catch a glimpse of his desolate grin in your rearview. He has forever to catch up, a whole lifetime to contemplate his banishment. 

Ain’t ashamed to tell the world I love that mutt. He’s earnest as an abandoned dream in the wake of a long gone carnival. Sad as an old candy wrapper blowing across a field. More fearful than feral.

Lung shadows and rain squalls appear like arrow falls, the whole land opens its gullet, and distant ranges echo with yipped laments for countless absent place names.

After some time, you can’t help yourself. You pull onto the fractured shoulder, oh sweet Montana sky, crack the window and breathe the grass-stem purity, and you wait, and you wait, until the tireless adamant blur in your bug-spattered mirror resolves itself into something alive—this wild insistent dog, heedless of pain, hopeful for your love, loping your way, bringing its torn ears and matted fur, carrying its lonely wet ardor, its road stink, here with you now, believing in some kind of reckoning. 

Monday
Sep242018

Ativan

I might well add 

lorazepam to this list. 

Please. Let me slip, then sleep. 

Decades of congregants 

arm-linked with benzos, all

gleaming like cumulative

dreams. I wanna hiss and creep

assembled purple, yet

they’re reds and blues and most

refuse to even meet. Summoned 

and huddled below the hills.

 

Aye, I crawled and hurled in 

your clawfoot tub.

 

Your throat is open; I will bring only kindness.

 

This. Oh, this. You harvest this… 

Never forget the blue-scratch scry of the sky.

You ready yet? You marshalled 

flocks and stockpiles. Corralled

a mess of ungulates. Oh. You,

woke and vital, primed to 

track and keep on following,

ceaselessly fingering me,

blastocysts and humunculi, 

enduring, narcotized, eternally 

transgressed. Is this

how each and every goatlike story 

dreams-undreams, and trips upon its end, 

restless, barely dressed, so endlessly

unblessed?

 

Friday
Sep142018

Juniper Moon

"The beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder." — Virginia Woolf

Please allow me to introduce herself.

She is now. She leaks from her own seams. Hilarity. Goodness. 

She is a feral wisp of a child finding herself wakening someplace with pale-peach skies and light-olive foliage and a postcoital volcano smoking beyond a shallow lake, a lone ox lapping at the water’s edge. 

Her voice is redolent of mesquite and burned hope. Her sweat is bottled as holy fragrance. Her throat plays all our favourite songs. 

So pretty. I could never forget your tiny perfect face. My hands form a cup for your lower jaw. To protect you. To save me.

One of us left the house in the early morning, while dawn tried and failed to grasp the day, and the humbled sun rose shamefaced over the land, as our astounding friend grew into her stride and strode away among the green shoots, amid the moaning of doves, utterly alone, completely amazed.

***

They agreed to meet in a pullout off the Coastal Highway, an irony she tried to amuse herself with while she waited on his unpunctual ass. Pullout. Yeah. If he'd pulled out like he said he would, they wouldn't be in this situation. Come to think of it, had his unpunctual ass been as late that evening as it usually was, and still was, she'd have quit on the whole date and, again, the same: none of this would now be happening. She supposed she could play that game all the way back to before she slid from between her mommy's skinny legs: if her dad wasn't an asshole and had never met her mom; if the bust-up between her parents had never happened; if she hadn't been so desperate to meet a boy to help her make her escape from her disintegrating home… but now she was retracing territory she'd already picked over, and these days she tried to stop doing that.

***

Mercury screens, lost highways, atomic tests.

Dr. Seuss draws all of this.

And all of this, let’s face it, is loneliness. 

______

Artwork © Finn Campbell Notman

Saturday
Aug182018

This Pain Needs a Name

I stare at the sky, eyes raw with grit, at this shroud of burnt orange and corpse-grey where blue once smiled its summer brilliance. The alien sun a faded blood-coin suspended within the rattling final breath.

Extinction. Exhalation. Wanting rain, fearing squalls.

Leaves and boughs caked in layers of sandy clay, encased like a warm dry antithetical ice storm.

Nobody has been this way in weeks. I sent my children far, not from ego but the opposite. So they might find some good beyond this. So they might have a chance.

Emma-Lynn and Aaron, if names become monuments.

But I fear we didn't do it right. Sanguine golden limbs among the shadows. Tales a-walking, ploys a-dancing.

And this pain needs a name.


***


"This is so sudden! You sure it's a good idea?"

"I do. We need this."

"But camping? Hiking? We never did this before."

"Sure we did. Not together, but we did it."

"Yeah, I was basically a kid when I did."

"So was I."

"So why'd you think this is a good idea now?"

"Trust me."


***


Present tense, I read the classics here. Over and again. Mary Shelley's lost and tender monster; a watery lamented spectre looming over Manderley; passion daubed across rugged brumous moorland; Brontë, du Maurier, Austen, Woolf; odes to girls, dirty precious haunted love songs etched into bones of landscape and carnival machinery. The Overlook. Hill House. Montauk. Joyland.

Our blessed migrant wake.

Why are you faking your presence? The headaches bunch like midway rides, subsequent cars of dissatisfied riders, gathering and griping, demanding redress. My blinded echoing skull is occupied by cutthroats. We usher in ghostly revolution.


***


No one could have scheduled this or made of it a scheme. We were young. A cleft in the land was damp and vulvar, and we followed it down—breathless, scowling, and leaning female. Moistened breath. We took our hints from the dreadful land that shouldered us.

"These bugs," you said. Oh, Emma-Lynn.

Battalions of mosquitos and lone earmarked deerfly.

"What of them?"

"I need to leave. They terrify me."

Aaron? Is that you? My god.

All composure gone, you ruined our trip, quietly shrieked your dissent, made of me a wounded fool.

Although pluralities concurred.  

The land was the land, and still is. Our trifling dramas dissolve in the face of everything, each item, all entireties, the kit and caboodle, the whole shebang, this thing we can never fully understand, all gone, so gone, so bereft, so utterly arrested.

We're lost. Blinded. Quieted. Hurt.

And still we need a name.