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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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Entries in Anubis (3)

Saturday
Sep092017

A World Abandoned

Everything inside my head is small and enclosed and everything outside is huge and muffled. There are sounds within the woods at night, terrible sourceless sounds, screeches from unseen throats, and we awake to a sun like a penny glued to a fawn-gray board. A coin fixed to a sand-dusted slate. Brassy light falls amid the shadows all day.

Things are going wrong, have gone wrong. I wonder if I mean within or without, and discover I can't answer either way.

Gerhardt left three days ago and hasn't returned. 

I clutch our old retriever Lola at night, my arms encircling the pitiful trellis of her ribs, and she whines quietly at the shrieks from the woods. Come daylight she doesn't investigate.

And come daylight I pull up the ghosts of carrots and beets, translucent things like alien pods spawned in our friable dirt. Dirt that looks and feels but will never taste like the crumble topping my Aunt Caterina used to bake over Tuscan apples and sweet red grapes.

Must stop remembering. Too dry. Too drained of faith. Even yesterday is beyond the pale now.

Gerhardt took the crossbow; I have the old Winchester pump-action and the last two shells. 

I can't help myself. I think back to a time when the worst thing I thought could happen was losing my children. Laughter now would be legitimate, yet I don't laugh. Irony is as stupid as nostalgia.

Right before he left, Gerhardt laughed.

"What is funny?" I asked him.

"Nothing, my dear."

"Fine."

"Not fine. Not funny. And yet…"

"What?" I could never resist his artful pauses.

"A dream is an unfinished life, so maybe they were all dreams."

"The children?"

"All of them. Taken before their time. Maybe the life they're meant to live hasn't yet begun."

"But how is that funny?"

"Oh, outside of the cosmic scale, it isn't."

"And also, what then are we?"

"Midwives, perhaps? Or morticians."

His fragile smile left the cartography of his face like a misremembered shallows and he winked and kissed the air by my cheeks and he shouldered the crossbow over his day pack and stepped on the loose boards as if to release a pent and groaning sendoff—secretly ordained by impish music-loving satirists—and he never turned his unkempt head the whole time his wiry frame hitched itself down the long gravel lane.

Irked as I was by his cryptic foolishness then, how I miss him now. Stabbed by loneliness, I call Lola, who happens like a specter out of the strange quiet air. I bury my sorrowing face in her patchy fur, but when I pull away, her fur is dry. Perhaps I am the wraith, not her.

Perhaps my grief leaves no stain on this world.

Gerhardt and I once spoke of Christ and redemption. He was once a Lutheran and I a Catholic. We might as well have conjured Anubis or Krishna. Kali or the Morrigan. Cthulhu. Isis. A thousand echoing rooms and hallways spiral beyond the vacant futile atrium of unanswered human prayer. 

The night is too generic for copyright, and as it passes once more, stamped by the usual screams of the arrested trees, by the endless moonless hours, my insomniac eyes become the only things in this world that are large. They keep growing—while morning enters like an intruder pissing weakly in a corner—expanding like fungus or a thing far worse, daring the fawn-gray sky to blink in toxic fellowship, tempting the universe to tremble in abject defeat.

What is this now? Men? With guns and lust and deadened eyes?

O woe.

When Gerhardt returns, our last shells will be spent, I will be a strand of spider silk shimmering with rosy dewdrops and stretched between splintered fenceposts, and holy Lola's howls will fill the whole valley.

Friday
May262017

Sister Matins

For a hushed moment, in your stillness and quiet we thought you dead. 

Your body is encased in a form-fitting spray of powdery charcoal dust. No gloss, just fine textural grain. Your hair, which does in fact gleam like the renegade moon, is gathered in a dark ponytail, most alien to you. You are a vessel, a human kayak someone might paddle across the mist-shrouded lake. But you would never stand for that. This is about dignity. And what is right. 

Sister. Let me breathe for you.

Still. You are on your feet now in defiance, your perfect legs spread in a warrior pose, your musculature fine as topography, the line of your jaw tracing the upraised shoreline like a medieval sextant. 

With my fingertips I want to sketch that jaw; with my whole hands I want to ward off hurt for you. And I see that you know this. But each passing moment only adds to your Egyptian charm, your Cleopatran scorch, your torrid Mediterranean allure, your intrinsic gypsy tang. A parade of goddesses arrives and begins to carouse. Nephthys and Isis and Bastet. Qetesh and Sekhmet. Banished to the shadows, I watch with my jackal eyes. I dream of violet orchids and ruby-throated hummingbirds. 

I literally just said this to my good friend, a father of young children: "Hugs from a four-year-old are worth their weight in hummingbird wings."

He laughed in that way you laugh when something is unassailable.

It might well be that you rebut your feline side. Whatever. I sense it anyway; see, hear, feel, smell, taste. The steps you offer me I recondition, make of them a route for you to renegotiate and clamber back aboard hope.

The aurora blooms in the late summer sky. Greens and violets, curtains in the vast cosmic window. They dance and shimmer all night without need of accompaniment. An electric profundity of silence. 

You are a single flower the colour of amethyst in a once-fertile valley that has grown cold and strange. Your petals are a purple fist, protective. The very first rays of daybreak fail to tempt you. But then a sudden sunshower mists your corolla, stirring them to unfurl and accept both heat and liquid, and you open to the world and the first bird sings.

Your cry is piercing in the gentle night, carrying over conifers and crumbling ridges, the lament of someone grasping at a hundred frozen edges. Pain is pain. Fear is fear. And you know both. We meet on that very plain, wrought of anguish and the bleak ignoble tendencies of our kind. We are clothed; we are unclothed. It matters not. We embrace. Another time you walk right by me, oblivious. At others we are bathed in the spectral light of nebulae.

Sometimes my thirst makes you smile. And you tease me. Sometimes you welcome it. Each time we honour the crossing of our paths, we're forced to reconcile our altered selves. And each time that happens, the more we can say we're mostly good. And if I know your femininity of a moment, it's true you might save me from some future hangman. We are dangling from a fulcrum, you and I. Like clocks and guns and fever dreams. Crows and coyotes. Ravens and eagles. Breakthroughs. Onslaughts. Executions. Hot rocks in a lodge and scintillating skies, everything animate and woman-bejeweled.

Friday
Oct212016

What Fresh Threat

I haven't been to Pasadena, never seen its wide palm-lined streets, or smelled its faint ocean tang braided with exhaust fumes and jasmine, or heard its low night cry of someone preyed upon…

…so how can I write about it?

Fittingly, her body was found in the weeds. A warm early spring evening. Some abandoned lot the penultimate resting place for a woman abandoned. She amounted to nothing to no one, yet the howls of grief echoing from the hills the night they found her corpse proved—at least—the urban coyotes cared.

Rubber-stamped by ruinous Anubis. 

I've never lost anyone. This is but a tale, spun from a terrible daydream, wrapped in crepuscular fool's gold. Yet what difference does it make? If I feel the loss, the awful drop of the lower gut, the ponderous bell of my own heart a-swing in the cage of my chest, the testicular cinch, who is to say I haven't felt loss?

Who dares tell me I cannot write of it? Will anyone challenge the wisdom of the purple desert sage, of the jackal-headed gods? 

Sacred rage and word games; we're all deplorable.

She was neither old nor young, had worn a white summer dress with a peach hibiscus print, had nicotine stains on her left index and middle fingers, wore her chestnut hair in a ponytail, bore week-old bruises on her legs. Her left ear was disfigured, as if it had been partially melted. Her crow's feet were tan and deep. Lukewarm semen seeped from her torn vagina. They found her wadded panties in the bed of a dry creek.

From El Monte. Telluride. Sedona. Sioux Falls. Parched places are places, and the branch work of all our pasts won't readily be untangled. How you dream of a place can sometimes be better than the place.

Night is coming. Stars are tentative in a sky half-dark. Something is trying to break through; a judgment pursues itself. A long ways east a tawdry, deficient scion implodes like a festering gourd, and America struggles to catch its breath. Look west at the snake of red lights, heading for the city, a crawling neon belly in a thirsty valley. City of tenuous angels. Specters on Mulholland. Centers not held. The embers of the long gone sun are dying. Who kicked this last campfire? What fresh threat, what tan carcinogen, imperils us anew?

Rough beast? She was nothing to me. 

So why, why, why do I weep?