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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 Cosmos (2)

Friday
Mar082019

Cosmic

God, or someone like him, decides to tell a joke. 

Here's how it goes. 

It's wintertime on the great plains. We're huddled at a giant gas station—ten islands each with five pumps, like little solar systems—and we're alone there in that cold dome of artificial light amid an encroaching, encompassing darkness, like all of space itself has encircled us.

Us being Doris, Blake, and me.

And the winds. The winds on all sides sing no human melody, just a fluctuating galactic plainsong, like abandoned sheets berserked by a gale. Blurs of snow like the flung arms of colliding starfields.

Doris says, "You think she made it?"

Given I watched Sylvie die with my own anguished two eyes, I'm gonna pass on that. 

I stomp my feet, Doris hugs herself, and Blake ignores us.

Our exhalations hang in the air like tiny frozen organ pipes.  

In the gloom beyond the lights, a pale gathering of rigs lie still, accumulating snow like the corpses of buffalo. I wonder where the drivers are, but again I keep my thoughts inside, for warmth.

And speaking of inside, not a soul moves within the chill fluorescence of the great hangar around which the gas bars orbit. An inconvenience store, I think. Not funny. The place looks like a forsaken terrarium. 

Blake hasn't spoken in hours, but he does now. "So this is hell," he says, quietly.

"More like hell's briefing room," says Doris, which makes me look at her and nearly smile. She nearly smiles back. And I try not to think about Sylvie. 

How do things go so wrong so quickly? Twenty-four hours seems barely enough time for such a one-eighty. Everything had gone to plan; against the odds, we'd pulled it off; we were superstars; life was about to begin in earnest. But now…

It's all a risk, every step of it. You can tell a joke, even a bunch of jokes, but no one's obliged to laugh.

Out there in the dark, beyond the dizzying supercluster whorls, we watch shapes move like slow behemoths; real or imagined, who knows? All we know is we'll never reach them, on this day or the next, but if they reach us they will end us. 

Blake says, "After we soar, how come there's this rule we gotta come down?"

"That's God’s punchline," I say.

Friday
Mar112016

Breakthrough

It sure was jittery, last night.

Nighttime can be a blur sometimes. We hit all the nodes, as well as the notes. Even our discordance felt ordained. Neon. Met with the right groups and at all the right times, but we overindulged. Okay, I overindulged. The pulsation of an intoxicated evening stretched into a long night, like a quasar, something cosmic, like the history of the slowest supernova, a sedate twin galactic waltz: more absorption and sluggish radiance than cataclysm.

Once upon a time, there was an abundance of time.

Now I wake with a dull head and it's a grey morning and I hear no birdsong or much of anything else.

Coffee. Two scorched hilltop scoops of ground arabica beans and a stainless kettle and a french press stolen from a former girlfriend. Organic cane sugar. One percent milk. No food. Just caffeine and a sweet verve.

Without warning or explanation, my mind goes straight to breasts, full and curved, perfect hard nipples at attention. 

Salivate, drink the last of the coffee, dream of women, step into the street.

Where is everything? I hear nothing. See no traffic, no passers. 

A thin yellow disc attempts to nudge its way through claggy cloud, a weak tongue fighting gummy saliva in the mouth of the dying.

Betrayal, I think. My world has betrayed me. Our world has betrayed us. This wasn't supposed to happen. We expect to awake to commuter sounds and morning radio, earworm ditties and ambiguously cheery local stories about homeless people who selflessly aid those who might once have condemned them, upend the narrative; weather updates on downed branches from last night's windstorms, power outages and traffic tales, how a set of lights are down at Marine and Boundary, how there's a stall on the Lion's Gate, and how a visiting dignitary from India is closing down large sections of Surrey, which we're advised to avoid.

Panic. Intoxication. Are there still bluebells? Wherefore schools of dolphin, sleek musculatures undulating through waves? Icebergs calving? LED-lit whores in Amsterdam, dark triangles glistening behind windows? Grief and drama? The Falls and the Shankill? Quickies in department store change rooms? The best jokes ever told by the funniest women? A different woman making soup? A shallow urban stream? Midnight mass with your drunk non-Catholic friends? Premature birth? Courage in the face of bigotry? Ativan or Xanax? The exhaustion following an assault? Your precious story of violation? Where is your limit? What momentous dreams did you abandon?

I stand on the street. Where buses would hiss and whine. Where cabs would whisk and disgorge. Where pedestrians would play a jaywalk dance with the inside lane, with the righteous right-turners, where bicycles would joust with trucks, middle fingers ready like tiny lances, the morning choreography guided and shaped by something invisible, something never seen, barely even acknowledged. Until it books out. Until it absconds.

Silent. Empty.

I take out my phone and call Sophie, the last person I remember from the night before.

Amazingly, she answers.

"Kurt?"

"Yeah."

"Where you at?"

"Home."

"I'm glad you called."

"Why?"

"Not sure. A friendly voice?"

"What makes you think I'm friendly?"

"Fuck off."

"Ha."

"Kurt?"

"What?"

"You hear anything?"

I consider confounding, befuddling, but go with honesty: "Nah. Nada."

"Fucking creepy, huh?"

"Yeah. Yes, it is."

"Can you come here, brother?"

"Sure. I'll hike it. Stay put. Give me an hour."

"Okay."

I think she's hung up, but she adds:

"Kurt? Hurry, okay?"

"Yeah."

When I get to her place she's gone. But I shouldn't be surprised: everyone's gone. I don't know what to do or where to go next. So I go sit in the street.

I imagine a distant sound, like music by Brian Eno: electronic, ambient; swelling and droning. Perhaps I even hear it, but I doubt that. Real or not, it seems to come from the far limits of the sky, where indigo meets ink-black, right at the edge of the world's rind. Right where the frigid and terrifying universe begins.

I lower my gaze to the smudge-grey asphalt and wish for ants, spiders, worms, weeds, anything. But none appear.

I haven't heard a single siren in hours.

Sophie's phone goes to voice mail.

The sun never even breaks through.