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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 (73)

Friday
Oct242014

Elephants and Starfish

And we're in the bay, strolling on the boardwalk that juts into the bay, the haphazard jumble of townhouses and shabby greenspace and rusted wharf buildings that overhang the bay barely giving us a glance. A disinterested late summer afternoon.

The water below us is clear, hubcap-sized starfish the colour of aubergines and mandarins splayed on dark rocks. 

"There was never a moment when I believed it," you say. "But never mind, tell me something kind."

I've forgotten what we were talking about, although I love the rhythmic husk of your voice and its easy rhymes. To our left a statue of a dancer, or perhaps a yogi in one of the warrior asanas, seems to move. From the corner of my eye I see you blink, distracted. A herring gull literally screams. Loneliness steals in like a silent comet through Neptune's frigid orbit. The quiet of the air is like the sudden removal of the air and we stare at each other, contemplating panic.

Did you know elephants cry salt tears? That life is so tenacious that there are electric bacteria that eat electrons? That tigers cannot purr? That sleeping on your stomach is more likely to make you dream of sex? That there are more stars in the known universe than all the grains of sand on every beach on earth? That there is a town named Okay, OK?

"I can't breathe," I say.

Your eyes are huge. Galactic centres. Amoebas. Your terror of tsunamis, I think, randomly, is almost phobic. Suddenly, more than anything else, I want to love you.  

Then there's the roar. Local airport, I think, has to be. It's a plane taking off; sometimes they catch the air currents in such a way that it sounds like the coming apocalypse, and with this head-on angle appear like rockets seeking to escape the grip of this teeming globe.

But all the other baywalkers and tourists, weedlovers and West Coast saunterers, they've all stopped in their tracks while the roar only roars more, howls more, filling up the whole dome of the world that used to have air, and we follow everyone's gaze northward. No airplane with rocket dreams. No, we see the roiling infected stems and boiled brain heads of three mushroom clouds where presumably Vancouver once stood, that new-ruined jewel, that universe of memories, that charnel city calling me blindly home while moaning its futile requiem.

Still not able to speak—for what is left to speak about?—we embrace, look out upon the water, read each other's thoughts, and together climb the railing. O starfish. I hope you're okay with unexpected company and more salt tears.

Sunday
Oct192014

Bordertown

Bonus post. Another especially short flash piece. Harder. Louder. Silent as a haiku. See what you think.

_____________________________

The gentle wind, like a bow over catgut, shimmers the leaves. The forest is an orchestra tuning itself.

You step into the clearing and I take aim.

The wind dies, of a sudden. First there is no sound. Then there is terrible sound.

It's not a clean shot. On your knees, eyes dismal with pain, you beg me. "Please. Please." I should finish you off. But I am weak, and I run. Keep on running.

The wind picks up and has yet to abate. It's become a howl, and there is no peace or respite, even here in this chilly, inebriated bordertown, where so many gather to forget pasts that outright refuse to be cut adrift and only seem to blow harder, gust louder.

Friday
Aug152014

Dockland

He felt almost conspicuous under the pearly cone of light at the shabby corner of Wheelhouse and Commercial. This time of night there were plenty of lights down at the wharf, glimmering amid the docks like tiny nebulae, but there was also plenty of shadow.

The sharp surprise of a coyote, yapping somewhere impossibly close, stunned him with portent.

But invisibility had always been his superpower, this grey man in a grim place. He would be fine, he always was.

Then she was there. Of course. She had seen him. A slight woman stooping a little and wrapped in a nondescript coat that barely covered her knees. She looked so fragile, almost childlike in fact, that he felt inexplicably sad. The deep kind of sad. The kind that doesn't go away no matter how much tequila you drown it with or how much cocaine you try rubbing into its receding gums.

She passed him what she'd come here to pass him. His guts moved inside him, squidlike. He handed her a roll of bills and she pocketed them without even counting.

And like cold breath in an awful dream about dying in fog, she was gone.

Leaving him holding it. The heavy thing. Heavy, cooling, yet still warm with its own ghost, and still dripping.

Friday
Jul112014

Stygian

A pale sun slides into a sky vacated by a cataract moon. Two tarnished pennies. An exchange. 

The surf sounds so close it might be undermining the very supports of this beach house. But I'm not fretting; this is the tail end of the storm. Whatever wild, dire omens rode its turbulent breakers have already come and long gone. 

Now, the susurrant rush and hiss-drag of the waves over sand and pebbles sounds more like the fading coda of some vast, tenebrous requiem shimmering into morning.

Tentative, reluctant, like lonely people closing their front doors. One more glance. The hope that won't die. 

A sudden swell, like the late, bright moments of a life, suddenly poignant against the grey of everything that came before. If not to innocence, a return to childhood at least.  

No storm will ever frighten me again. There's a dark, turgid river now, running beneath everything. 

Nona lies broken amid more broken things. Liquor bottles, betrayal, cracked photo frames, knickknacks. A laptop, its screen spiderwebbed. Our last ever fight. A doozy, as they say. A blood reckoning, I think. I pick my way through the shattered glass, through our shattered, annihilated lives, and find my phone, tacky with jellied (and gelid) blood. 

Hit 911. 

Time to pay the ferryman.

_____________________

Once again, a big shoutout to Dan Mader and all the regulars who post their amazing flash fiction on his blog every Friday. Big love and smooches to all a y'all.

Friday
Jul042014

Sacral

I Confess, Alfred Hitchcock, © 1953

He seemed to be the only penitent in the church. The airy hush was a sound larger than the place itself.

The priest waited in the confessional until a shuffling noise told him the man had at last joined him on the other side of the grid. The voice in the near pitch-dark was shaky.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…" So quavery it sounded more like a question, as if its owner couldn't settle on a tone. The man's breathing was shallow, rapid—the sound of near-panic. 

"Relax, we're all sinners here. How long since you last confessed, son?" the young priest soothed, suddenly aware of the awkwardness of such an endearment directed at someone probably no younger than he. Yet such was the nature of these things; how mysterious and nuanced the intricate bonds between shepherd and flock. 

"Not long. A while."

The priest chose to ignore the contradiction, sensing a reluctance that seemed to press on the confessional like an old mattress abandoned in a rainstorm.

"Take it slowly. They're not exactly lining up out there." He smiled grimly at this. He'd meant to put the man at ease but there was an edge to his tone even he could hear. Slim pickings among the faithful these days.

A conversation he'd had earlier with Sister Camilla arose unbidden. She'd looked at him askance and raised one full eyebrow.

"Your father was a tyrant, no?"

"Now why would you ask that, Sister?"

"Because, Father, you are so completely terrified of eternal damnation you spend much of your time atoning for sins you've yet to commit."

He hadn't argued. Couldn't have, really.

Though too cloaked in darkness to make out, he knew the thick rosary he clutched to his chest would give him sufficient strength to bear the torment of a fellow sinner, if only for a few scant moments. Those plump beads the ripest of grapes on his arid vine of faith.

"Father…" A sour scent like spoiled meat marinated in vinegar wafted through the grill.

"Yes?"

"You can't tell no one else? This is between you and me, right?"

"And the Almighty, yes."

"Good. Father. I didn't mean to do it." That small voice. Almost the voice of a child caught stealing apples from an orchard.

The young priest inhaled deeply, ignoring the abattoir fetor, calling on the Holy Spirit to fill him with patience and love.

"Take your time, my son." 

Through the grid he could barely even discern a silhouette, let alone any distinguishing features of the distressed man. Strange. Normally his eyes would have adjusted by now.

"I thought she was willing, Father. Otherwise I'd never have gone that far. When she fought back, I just…"

Quiet sobbing filled the confessional. The priest closed his eyes, felt a pain so deep it surely had to be in his soul. The agony of compassion. No doubt a mere thousandth of what Jesus Himself had felt for His own lost sheep.

"Something in me snapped, Father. I don't want to carry this with me…"

"Son, are you confessing a mortal sin to me right now?"

"If rape, dismemberment, and murder are mortal sins, Father, yes, I'm confessing all three."

"My God…" The priest squinted at the lattice in an attempt to resolve a hint of an outline or the particulars of a face. "You must tell someone else, you can't—"

"No! No! I will lose everything. This is all I know, Father, I…"

Without thought or warning, the priest was on his feet. He exited his side of the confessional, stepping over something that nearly blocked the narrow aisle between the recessed confessional and the rows of pews. He tore open the door to the other compartment, preparing to confront the man, urge him to tell the authorities. 

The booth was empty. It smelled only faintly of old incense and even older dust.

His skin prickled and his mouth went dry. In the restless glimmer cast by the nearby rack of votive candles, he could now see his own hands, the rosary swinging from them. The shiny black beads dripping something red the viscosity of syrup. He looked again at the object on the cold grey marble floor, at what he'd first thought was a discarded pile of clothing. Black, white, red. Like something from a childhood joke. Sister Camilla. Or what was left of her.

His high, liquid scream, rising like a startled dove toward the remote dusty beams above the nave, signalled the end of that day's sacrament of penance. Even though there was no one there to take its measure, to corroborate or to hear it.