• 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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Entries in 1977 (2)


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This is not a story.


After cancer took him the same year Elvis died, when I was young, I've seen the face of my grandfather most days since, in my dreams or projected onto my inner eyelids when I stop for a moment and rest and allow memory's fluid, capillary reach breach the dam of me.


This child: "I made a snowman today."

"It isn't snowing." 

"Snow is just extra cold water, and it's raining."


"It's there. You just can't see it. The rain keeps washing it away. If the rain would stop, you'd see it."


I was in the office that day when they brought the five children in, spanning age two to age fifteen. Even the administrative staff were vibrating with empathy and sorrow, while the three social workers called on all their training to help pacify the kids, whose shrieks and wails once they'd gleaned how fractured their family now was echoed like waves of cetacean grief.

But who was I?


Have you ever risked anything? 

No. Never.

Why the fuck not?


"The appaloosa is sometimes called the damnation horse. Beware, cowgirl." 

"Sir? I think you got your words mixed up."

"Yeah. Probably. But truthfully, death ain't so bad. Although dying sure is."


First day of school, I made a puzzle. Black-and-white cows and a barnyard. Summer blue sky and verdant grass. I sat beside a boy, John Simpson, as anodyne a name as possible in central England in the nineteen sixties. And his dad was a fireman, and I wide-eyed believed him—because why wouldn't I? In that classroom I was completely happy. The middle of England in the middle of a decade. I have no memory of the teacher. Or the other kids. Just a puzzle and a boy, and both were good. I didn't miss anyone. 


Her fingers were spatulate;

I asked, "You gonna capture that?"

My heart went all Montague and Capulet.


He was one of those sports bros, those hockey dudes, who only articulate the last syllable of a name, as if begrudging full agency: the 'Nucks, the 'Lanche, the 'Gers. We got in a bar fight once when I called him a 'licker. He had no sense of humour. Not much of a fighter either. Shame. I liked that bar.


Neon is the shout in the throat of the street. It hollers "Vogue!" and coughs "Orpheum!" into the smeared wet night, and our quailing hearts respond by shrinking. We are impostors, thirsty for sound. This is a broken boulevard jerry-rigged from busted dreams and only for monarchs, and we are pretenders, inadequates, vulgarians, slipping away in the sudden carpal reach of fog from the inlet. This is an ending we'll never get back, grey and mute and dead of eye. You blink, you fucking miss it all. 


Are you holy? For now I am winter. So lonely. Such fury. Would I sacrifice twenty more solitary years for a single year's touch of a woman's silk, of the tips of her spiderleg fingers? Yes. Probably yes.

Roll down your windows and crank up the songs. 

You ask why I never ran. It's complicated. How about this? Watch the lynx stalk a snowshoe hare and maybe you'll have an inkling, and then maybe we can talk. 

Or answer this: Chandler or Bergman? The Big Sleep or Winter Light? Do you actually think we are the good guys?

I bring comfort, a soft accommodating blanket drenched in smallpox. Nighttime, driving down to Memphis with you, all foolish pride and futile trepidation. Let the morning break like a bloody egg, the best girl I ever had lying by the quiet roadside, waiting in the muffled grey silence for the sirens and the ghouls in their important livery. And I still can't remember anything at all. Not one single thing. 

Goddammit, yeah. You can look. 

Just don't touch me.

I said don't.


"Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground"

Even if he'd been a small man he'd have been a big man. But he was a big man. I see him in his chair at the peeling formica table, on the right facing the tiny kitchen itself, slumped, in what some now call a wifebeater but then we simply called a vest—baggy trousers, cuffs rolled, braces over the tea-stained vest. White hair nicotine yellow, swept back. A soft pack of nonfilter Woodbines and a mug of sweet strong milky tea. Ten or fifteen bottles of prescription drugs ranked like soldiers in a defective war in which daily battalions are lined up at dawn to learn their fate.

England. Northwest. The nineteen sixties. The syncopation of passing trains.

I sit now on the long sandy reach listening to "Little Wing," blinking along, tapping my toes and fingers, stretching my neck to watch the disc of our galaxy wheel slowly across the night sky, that genial Stratocaster tone opening its throat and hungry for us all.

Oregon? BC? Baby, won't you change your mind?

This is the part where we are asked to feel shame. Where our therapists make their living.

"Baby, what's in your spice rack? Paprika's a given, but surprise me. Cloves. Ground nutmeg, sure. Dried sage and oregano. Chilli powder. Garlic. Cumin. Coriander. I need something radical, girl. Exotic."

"I got something radical. Stay with me."

A skinny girl in a tiny pleated skirt and motorcycle boots, nipples face-forward and plastered humid inside a plain white cotton tank top, eyes encased in kohl, earbuds pulsing Diplo and Flux Pavilion, waxy, harsh.

I'm two generations beyond, yet more thirsty for Cleopatra. 

And is this the part where I'm to beg you to love me?

Nah. Don't work that way. Been driving a good while, coming down from the mountains, heavy on the brakes as the road descends and sidewinders down to a quiet valley while the sun begins to drop behind the dry hills. The town is unremarkable. Its populace too. I pull over and walk the empty streets, meet almost no one. A one-eyed scarface dog, an old lady with recycled bottles inside transparent bags in a shopping cart. Meet me. Meet me. You won't ever meet me.

Quiet howls emerge from the draws that backdrop the town, each a distinct tone, a coyote symphony. Except it ain't coyotes; it's the outraged god-abandoned wind piping its raw heartbreak through ruined fissures in shafts that are no longer mined nor ever again will be. 

Back to the large man in the crumpled grey pants absorbing and agitating the fog of morning, charcoal and faded pink. His mind always working, his appetites arrayed, some clockwork set by ancients and left to unspool well into life and beyond. UFOs, wartime, an Italian-American tenor, a gaudy South Pacific theater, Antarctic sacrifice, an icebound German plane one bleak February that never got airborne, the awful melancholy of something unsinkable sinking. Melancholy hearted, he saw the eventual decline. Nodded quietly at fate. Checked out around the same time as Elvis, of whom he'd once said, "He'll never last." Nineteen seventy-seven. The jubilant year of Sam and Stevie, of Stormtroopers and fevered Saturdays, under a marquee moon. Stayin alive amid the rumoured death of a ladies' man in the decade's autumn.

I am fourteen or fifteen, a voyager, thumbing my tangled path away from pain. Close encounters on the littered edges of motorways while listening to "I Feel Love" on light cranial rotation and waving at "Johnny B. Goode" as it slingshots out of the solar system. Never minding the bollocks. Watching every last detective. And shedding a tear for Ronnie and Marc. Low. Animals. The Idiot. A Bat Outta motherfucking Hell. 

She emerges inchoate from the gloaming, haloed by dark motes like the ur-lights of some grim carnival. Hands me something warm and still dripping. Smiles like a tracheal gash.

"Eraserhead. Is that radical enough for you?"

Nightfall is upon us, with no place to sleep.