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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 Black Lives Matter (3)

Sunday
Aug112019

Lit By Fire

"If you must die, sweetheart, die knowing your life was my life's best part.” — Keaton Henson

They said it was Banksy. The last painting. The howling boy on the wall of the capitol. We’ll probably never know, but I saw it, and it sure looked like a Banksy. 

You can’t really miss a black bear. The dripping, flexing arms of the forest murmur their shades of green, some a pale jade whisper, some an emerald shout, some so abysmal they’re nearly black, and within those dark branches lie shadows, blacker still. Yet a black bear, once it crosses your visual field in front of or within those varied shades of green, is a piece cut out of the world, a stark absence, a patch of lonely void in the shape of a bear. At which point, is it even a bear?

We sit in a quiet corner, you with your floppy hat and me with my eighties obsession that I can barely articulate.

“Try my hat on,” you say.

“I’d prefer not to.” I realize this is a hat store, and I balk. 

“Ha ha, that’s why I love you! You let me down gently, like an escalator.”

“No idea what you’re talking about, but you’re my friend, and I love you too, of course. Why are we even saying any of this? It’s a given.”

“Nothing’s a given. We’re renewing our friendship vows.”

“Um, you can stop now. Stop talking, that is. For fuck’s sakes. My toes are cramping.”

“Which only makes me love you more.”

“Shut up. Uh. Please, shut up.”

“Let’s go see some sights.”

“Yes, the new Banksy. The one we literally dropped everything to come and see.”

She had a way about her, a mood, something impossible to say no to.

But yes, back to art and stuff. Life. Banksy or not. 

What matters? Stale toast and the late, lazy flap of corvids against a peach sunset. An avocado pit sending tendrils. A butter churn. Scaffolding arched above a sidewalk, mauve and crimson night leaking into the tubular screens of its graceless folded geometry. Umbilicals. A honeybee nudging petals, reticent as a new lover. “I can’t breathe.” Do unto others. Me too. Make me an instrument of thy peace. Do what thou wilt, though it harm none. Keep on truckin’. Just do it. The great oil canvas of Serengeti brushstroked by wildebeest. Boreal trails of the caribou. Helpless, tenacious Marlowe balanced on the unlikely ridge spanning love and cynicism. The shock of a black locust on the whitewashed farmhouse wall, droning stark on stucco. Slanted dusty rays of old gold across grocery scales. The micro worlds of toys, all those chimes and astonished faces. And she has gone to Carterhaugh. How long, baby, how long? Stripe of the Bengal tiger, the lion’s nasal folds, the cougar’s stern and diffident brow. Howling alien nowheres blazoning the arrant vacancy of forsaken love. Pissing your name in a snowbank, or better yet an obscenity. Reeking fresh leaves of basil torn and open as the Sacré-Coeur. Bats exploding from a granite mouth, hurtling like scorched sparks in the quiet fire of twilight. Reciprocity: mouthing a woman to orgasm and being sucked. Croissants warm in the slatemine morning beside the drifting river. Dreamed unearthly cathedrals. Black lives never not mattering. The hart of the wood, the heart of the would, a-bloom with grief and guilt. Kiln-baked pizzas assailed by artichokes. Rooks prattling in a copse, jackdaws likewise on ramparts. Blastocysts zapped by lasers. Terror cells cleansed by drones. Eyelashes shipped free by Amazon. Thirst, in all its forms. 

Smiles like an ocean horizon, faint, blue, where the sky is stitched. 

A baby crying on the floor, abandoned. Cold concrete and a massive ceiling. A bear seeking entry, quivering snout attuned. Junior’s alone and loud, his laments a looping echo of their own discordant song.

“Come back now. Did you hear me? Where did you go?”

My ears half-closed, my heart is like a cannonball, shock aroused by alcohol, patterns like a dream tattoo. 

Open my secular breast. These dripping fragrant delicacies I’ve saved for you.

Friday
Sep302016

God's Honest Truth

It isn't the first time I've listened to the ranting of a dying man. I've heard rage. I've heard regret. I've heard terror. I have to say, this time feels like something different.

A neon urban orange sodium night, tailing off into indigo then black. Like a deep sea coral reef right before the squid attack.

Back then, when I told her the big ferry was in town she thought I'd said the big fairy was in town. And she laughed. I laughed too, but I meant the ferry. Someone said there were orcas in the water as it drifted into dock. White and kinda white and black, and rounded, like weird soap. I wanted, still want, to believe in them.

A clownish man approached me and began to punch me hard in the face, over and over, and I staggered back behind my own face, blood like a full-on tap. For some reason I remembered the carved Sasquatch sculpture to your left when you enter the town of Harrison, a hirsute giant ready to hurl a rock. And I wanted to inhabit that thing, feel it come alive, wear its flyblown skin and fur and deep wood stench, and tear my assailant's face into dripping ribbons.

Yet the silent empty ferry. Monolithic. Strange. I tried to ignore your homophobia, but the ferry had docked.

Dissociative dreams of how we are. Castoffs and cormorants and catatonia. Analog orcas and burned corneas.

What is this? You shrug. This might not even be happening. 

Will you come with me to buy a breakfast, a bagel, with lox, with cream cheese, with capers? Prettiest damn server ever. Engineered. Abutted hips and cantilever eyebrows. A living boast. You, hypervigilant. Let her fill your cup, one eye on the clock, with the darkest of roasts.

"More coffee?"

"Yeah."

"New in town?"

"How'd you tell?"

"Your pointless fucking tears."

Get help. Sympathy? Dying is now only one tendril. Pain is pain is pain. Is pain. We can bury it and exhume its dry crust, its sticklike legs, its sheer wings, all desiccated. A dusty attic of mostly nothing.

Dreary gossamer. Benadryl. Wormwood. Go deep into the green. Drive for eight hours and park beside a wild creek, step out, listen to the waters, the breeze stirring the tops of the conifers, the ravens collaring their own echoes, the complete absorption of our tale, our blunted, airless psychodrama.

Back in the ambulance, the man snags my gaze. I don't want him to. He speaks in some other tongue, gags like an accidental witness to history, offers his throat to some alien wolf, spits poisoned absinthe at our door.

"I came back with a skin yet more dark. You still didn't get it. Last time you drove nails through my wrists and suspended me on two great pieces of wood. It took me hours, days, to die. In unspeakable pain. I believed my own tale and thought that would end it. Not true. Centuries earlier and later, millennia even, I've continued to return. My skin has been brown, olive, tawny, like tea, like coffee, like cola. None of which matters. Here I am, dark as a walnut and dying in the back of this medical wagon. Why is that? Well, new and completely beguiled by this bright embryonic world, I smiled and said hello to a white man dressed in blue. He told me to back away and hold my hands in the air, which I did. But he saw something in my hand that frightened him. A leather-bound book. Just a story, one more tale. Panicked, he sent his hot zygotes of death my way and now, instead of air, pink foam bubbles from my chest and my head grows light and lost, like melting taffy, and I don't know what more I can do … Will you hear me, my ambulance girl? Pass this on? This hurts, but you are a good woman. Attentive. My sweat is like wishful sacs filled with acid, or hope. You are nobody. But neither was Mary or Judas or Peter once. I'm only one of many, and yet you listened to none. If I come back at all, should I come as a rat, a gator, or a whore? A tumour or a field of stalks? Will you even notice? To tell you the god's honest truth, you haven't yet."

Friday
Jul082016

Only Points of Light

She was window shopping. Except she wasn't.

She seemed almost to glide down the wide street with its mid twentieth century storefronts and angled parking on both sides. You could almost imagine Gene Vincent blaring from one of those convertibles, though Chuck Berry might have been a bridge too far.

It was a small southern town preserved in amber.

Her gaze was downcast but occasionally flickered upward, from demure to shrewd in an instant. She was using the windows as mirrors, vigilant as a Serengeti ungulate. Somewhere in the great unfurled blanket of America her foes made headway, through fields of corn, along dusty back roads, cold and relentless in the mountain passes, their gait steady and their footfalls unbroken, their antennae quivering like seismic needles.

Eyes on the glass where her own reflection lay superimposed on a naked pink mannequin, she collided with someone. A kid.

"Whoa, sorry, ma'am," he said. A polite kid. Twelve or so.

"It's okay, son," she mumbled and went to pass him.

"You ain't from here, are you?"

"No, I ain't. But I must be going on my way, young man. Please let me by."

"I know about you. I hear the same sounds you do."

Her dark skin rippled with ice. Her scalp crawled with invisible ants. It felt to her as if she'd woken from a nightmare, only to find the neighbour was a Klansman while all the time she'd been wary of the parade of furtive strangers who passed her home. No, worse. She had no idea which one of those things was true.

***

They found the body of the young boy out in the desert. Shallow was too kind a word for the rudimentary grave. Facile would be more the truth. He had been strangled to death and before the authorities could perform their cleanup the turkey buzzards had dined on parts of him.

Only the coyotes had watched his killer dispose of him, and their stories that night danced with horror and glee, carried on a slight breeze to the ears of nearby farmers but never rendered into any human tongue.

***

There came the sound of distant marching from across the plain. Surefooted, purposeful. The sun had slid below the far off hills and the overhead blackness met the opalescence of an oyster sky through varying shades of blue. The evening was so still and quiet that the marching seemed amplified, as if a great army was striding at impossible speeds, a renegade army intent on something appalling, for when does an army ever intend otherwise?

***

"The arc of history makes this a momentous time. The predators just became prey and they will be more angry now, not less. They will place the blame on their prey. In the parlance of our times, they will double down. Be vigilant, my sisters and my brothers. Do not allow them to pervert the tale, as it's a tale of hard truth and deep pain like no other. Now go, and hear my words echo in your hearts as you walk the sorrowful roads of this vast land."

The people gathered in the park left in small groups. Something about the old man felt right. Some said he was a prophet. Some had yet wilder theories. Some scratched their heads and abandoned conjecture in favour of beer and music and the loving warm arms of their companions.

Only the stars and the fireflies knew for sure, and neither was telling.