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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 David Antrobus (79)

Friday
Dec192014

Delivered

There are a thousand ways to walk a road. I picked this one. Judge me when I reach the end of mine. 

There's a universe in every abandoned lot, every weed patch, all derelict things. Go deeper. Go deeper.

We dreamed of a universe that dreamed us first.

She laughs at me when I cry. And rightly so. This is wretched comedy not noble tragedy, slapstick not cataclysm. I should know better. Like hers, my road is crooked, has wound through thorns, thickets, prairies, caverns, and starfields. We have seen some things; some we rendered unto Caesar, some we stomped into pulp while we danced.

Yes, the tornado loves you. Yes, we drank moonshine out of cracked mason jars, somewhere outside of Baton Rouge, in a flat black El Camino. Yes, we smelled the trees rotting. Heard the pitiful whimpers of ruined children. Picked through the ooze of the world, its loathsome glue. Watched them scrape fetuses into ziplock bags. Cried forsaken uterine prayers at the world's drab rim. Fucked until we forgot ourselves. 

Your iris a limned nebula encircling a black hole. Mars isn't the red planet. Earth is. Drenched in blood from the primordial brawl onward, its deceptively placid unblinking eye in the tenebrous void the subterfuge of a demiurge.

How far from yesterday? Too far? Go now. Go. Write that reptilian western, that larval horrortale. Hear the cries of the interstate off-ramps, each one distinct as the lamentations of Jeremiah. Feel the scalding dark arterial blood spraying from my tear ducts.

We're not mad. How can we be? We've done all this together, again and again, felt bug-crawl sands squirm between our splayed fingers and twitching legs. If I am mad then she is too. We've traveled a billion parsecs trapped inside the pungent lurching atrium of a monster's heart, a living sarsen so ancient Stonehenge weeps in shame and the big bang itself is chastened and goes forever silent.

I hold her tender face and search those nebular eyes, feel myself pulled toward her event horizon, and I care not. The vacuum can take me, the nullity enjoy its empty triumph.

"What was it all for? Was it a dream?"

"No, all that's passed was a nightmare. This, this is a dream."

"And tomorrow?"

"A wish. A vision. A maybe. A probably not."

Her climb is up, and so is mine. Her moon's limb is coughed into rock salt. What can you obliterate for relief from this? Whose throat can you tear from its hot bubbling strings? Wherefore rage? Why do we continue laughing like a jester whose court is no more, whose joke runs far beyond its own flat and desolate punchline?

Friday
Dec122014

Sorrowing

Dusk comes with a slow dimming, as if the world's sorrowing.

The people move delicately, their motions precise and penumbral, campfire noises distinct. The world seems formed from grainy points that swirl like quenched lightning bugs. The cough of a burro. A deterrent growl. Cast iron pots. The reek of smoke. Human warmth.

The girl, forgotten a moment, rests on a low wall on the edge of the settlement, waiting for the light to leave the violent rim of the sky. Through the trees, the squat sun spasms and the girl gazes at faraway realms, the serried distant hills like hunched triassic beasts.

Always from new aspects she has craved and surmised great wondrous lands, and now another lies above the horizon, canted over this very world, our sunset cumulus their doomed archipelagos in a bloodsea.

She wonders if they'll come for her. Her people. If they even remember. Her people of phosphorescence in this darkling land. Mayhap their recall is receded into fable, or fashioned into yearning auguries. Unrequited in this life.

A rough hand clasps her arm, drags her campward, and hope rolls back into the sultry vaults of her heart like eyes into a blinded head.

One of these nights, the coyote people will carry the day in this place of wolves, she no longer thinks.

Friday
Dec052014

The Draw

We got caught in a dry draw, night falling fast in the small valley at our backs. A ragtag bunch of fugitive daughters and sons and their long shadows, befouled refugees alongside the mockery of refugees.

Where a creek once flowed, some vegetation followed, scabrous and mean, this dry gulch a seam scrawled by a child holding two antitheses of green pencil. To our left, looking skyward, a narrow fan of grey scree, a trod-upon bridal veil.

"We oughta head for higher ground." Lucas had already begun scrambling the talus slope, heavy pack be damned. The dry spray of stones behind his boots was the sound of agitated bones, a charnel house desecration.

I saw if we went further we could still climb, more gradual, mind, and then loop back around, come out in the same damn place, so that's the way I went. Three of our group went the same way, two others clambering after Luke. As we made our own slower course, rejoining our party in time, we heard the others excitable in the hushed gloom.

"We found ourselves a cave!"

Was indeed a darker smudge on a short cliff face, reminiscent of a cavemouth. We seen it before we reached it. Then we reached it.

Before, we'd come up through what was once fruitful pasture, irrigated by man in defiance of an arid climate, now returned to truculent desert itself: cacti, sagebrush, greasewood.

Never could we figure out what happened, fully.

Whatever it was had done for the honeybees and for most of the butterflies, whether through the air or by way of the water, some subliminal thing or a hot toxin, a mite before the unspooling of men's minds. Most went utterly mad. Madder even than usual on this misbegotten earth. Could be some had wandered in pointless circles and fell forward, bashing their loved ones with cast iron pots or digging tools, over and over, while those had bashed right on back till all were crimson pulp on the thirsty ground and no one soul now stood anticipatory. Except us few, our own exemption a puzzlement even to us.

"That ain't no cave. It's a long abandoned mine. Silver or nickel I'm surmising." Luke was already peering into its impossible blind depths.

"What if something got here afore us?" Colette was beside him, also squinting.

I looked around the entrance in light that had near emptied from the world and saw no scat or leavings, human or otherwise.

"Think we're good," I said.

I ran my hands over the rock inside the black maw of the mine and felt the striations and boltholes where posts and beams once gave spurious comfort to the subterraneans inside. Made my nerves dance like heat lightning and my mouth parched as the desert we'd done walked, but with crazies down there roaming all ways to hell and back we hadn't been able to light fires too often, and maybe we could have ourselves a pot of coffee a ways inside the tunnel. Searing hot as the days got, nights could freeze your bone marrow; even a small fire might lift our spirits.

We all seemed to reach a similar opinion without needing words, because everyone up and moved as one inside the darkness, and a couple of us still had batteries back then, so our way was preceded by two dim swordplay beams.

Which was how we first discovered the mutants.

Friday
Nov212014

Amen

After it all came down and we knew the fires burned most everywhere, we cowered in our various holes and waited out the worst. But the worst kept on coming, so some of us lifted our heads in the oily air and, timidly at first, stepped back into silent streets that had once screamed our gaudy dominion.

Almost silent. In those dark canyons, between the edifices we once called skyscrapers, high rises, their very names dripping with hubris, flapped the occasional bird that had found new places to nest. Pigeons, hawks, more and more crows. At night, the bats came instead. These buildings, especially the older, more organic stone and masonry types, had become strange cliffs, home to small creatures, looming shabbily above quiet streets dotted with abandoned or burned-out cars: yellow cabs, tourist buses, delivery vans, once-black power rides gone charcoal with dust and debris and the shame of recall.

The hollow silence of the streets, punctuated by the lazy flap and echo of some baffling new bird, both awed and frightened me. That we'd been brought this low. That while we'd thrust and bellowed, our Achilles had been sliced. And behind it all, the greater silence of the East and Hudson rivers, absent their ghost freight, and the even louder silence of the shocked continent, everything from sea to gunmetal sea rocking back and forth like psychosis.

It was about this time I first saw you. Despite the grime that clung to your clothes and hair, the dust and human stink, you were a tarnished apparition, a stained goddess to me.

I held out my hands in supplication; you side-eyed me and moved away.

The next time I saw you, all of history was being reduced to the echo of a long howl, our planet's geometry incised by lines of brilliant sun fire and blackest shadow, you and I alone in a dwindling penumbra where all nuance was leaching away, taking all hope with it.

I was brokenhearted. You were stern. Then angry. And finally exasperated.

"What is it with you?" you screamed at me. "What the fuck do you want?"

I thought about it and we locked eyes—me inconsolable, you incandescent, all else irreparable. For all I knew, my answer, moving no god to pity, yet a human cry to match the avian shrieks and screeches, was the last prayer ever uttered in this condemned place.

"Place me in a bright house on a shining hill under cerulean skies and with views of a luminous bay. Return to me the fresh, inchoate world."

Saturday
Nov152014

Joker's Wild

*Warning about possibly upsetting content*

He supposed it was a cliché to say she'd pay and pay dearly, though it didn't make it any less true.

After the two-year civil war, here was the end game, the last battle. Bitch got the house and the kids, even the '78 Mustang, which made no sense to him given she hated it, ridiculed it, called it his plaything, his cock enlargement. Yeah, funny. A real joker. Whose best punchline was to sue for child support.

He'd been worn down and now felt broken at last. What was it his daddy used to say? "You hit rock bottom, jus' grab a rock and start hittin'." Seems everyone's a comedian. Har de fuckin' har. Well, his sense of humour was all but played out.

It was a fine afternoon—blue skies and cool September air—one he'd normally enjoy. Throw a choice ribeye cut on the grill, crack open a cold one, blast some Hank or some Merle, see who showed up. Well, he was gonna enjoy this in a whole new and interesting way, he supposed. Time to throw in his hand and let the cards fall where the fuck ever.

He was surprised at how easy it was to walk in the double doors. The first person who spoke to him ("Sir, can I help you? You need to report to—") he dispatched quickly, although he flinched at the dragon roar in the hallways.

He knew which classroom the cunt taught in, though, and it was close by. He'd make sure she was the last in the room to die, see what she'd wrought. Okay, second last.