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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 dreams (8)

Monday
Sep242018

Ativan

I might well add 

lorazepam to this list. 

Please. Let me slip, then sleep. 

Decades of congregants 

arm-linked with benzos, all

gleaming like cumulative

dreams. I wanna hiss and creep

assembled purple, yet

they’re reds and blues and most

refuse to even meet. Summoned 

and huddled below the hills.

 

Aye, I crawled and hurled in 

your clawfoot tub.

 

Your throat is open; I will bring only kindness.

 

This. Oh, this. You harvest this… 

Never forget the blue-scratch scry of the sky.

You ready yet? You marshalled 

flocks and stockpiles. Corralled

a mess of ungulates. Oh. You,

woke and vital, primed to 

track and keep on following,

ceaselessly fingering me,

blastocysts and humunculi, 

enduring, narcotized, eternally 

transgressed. Is this

how each and every goatlike story 

dreams-undreams, and trips upon its end, 

restless, barely dressed, so endlessly

unblessed?

 

Friday
Jun242016

Balance Beam

He enjoyed whispering rumours of doom on long flights. Insinuating himself into the sphere of a fellow passenger's trust, wearing his skin of bland congeniality so well he began to believe it himself, then telling them what he'd overheard from a flight attendant, about how the captain had swallowed a fish bone and, while clutching at his throat, had knocked an instrument setting askew that no one noticed until the first officer finally did so, before immediately realizing that their unwitting detour across half the Pacific meant they no longer had enough fuel for a landing at any airport, and that they'd have to ditch in the ocean, which almost always augured catastrophic loss of life. He would select a young mother to whisper this to, a weary twentysomething whose toddler had finally, mercifully, succumbed to sleep. Or a nervous old lady. Or a half-drunk and angry middle-aged white man, who'd invariably make it about him and his entitled self-pity, provoking a full-blown tantrum that would be infectious throughout the cabin, providing endless entertainment far funnier than the inflight movie.

Although he could never laugh, not on the outside.

When they always landed and people looked at him accusingly, with oddly hurt and—strangest of all—disappointed expressions, he'd shrug and say, "Must have misheard. Could have sworn that's what they said."

Sometimes he would embellish it further, reveling in the unfolding story and its implications: The copilot noticed but pretended not to, and when it was discovered, he declared "Allahu Akbar!" at which the senior flight attendant fainted. A cadre of mice that had been onboard as property of a multinational pharmaceutical company, in the process of being transferred between a research laboratory in San Diego and an experimental facility in Kobe, had escaped their defective crate and chewed through enough wiring that all the hydraulics were lost and the slightest turbulence would soon send them plummeting like a doomed lance into a calm and glassy ocean that might as well be adamantium.

He once told an unaccompanied young passenger, all of thirteen years old, dark of feature and tiny of frame, that he was an undercover air marshal and had discovered a plot by ecoterrorists to make of their fossil-fuel-guzzling flight an example, by remotely shutting down each engine in turn until the United Nations agreed to outlaw all the oil trade on earth, and she had begun to cry silently until her grief and terror had built like late afternoon thunderheads and no one could console her or get any sense from her, and she'd had to be sedated and then hospitalized once they'd landed.

Because they always landed. 

***

She never landed. A decade of perfect run-ups, mounts, and layout full twists on the balance beam, only for the landing to fail. 

Yet she kept loving. Loving it all. Believing in the idea of perfection and the dedication of her coach and her fellow gymnasts. And the cruel man she didn't know, yet dreamed of every night. The man who whispered appalling things to defenceless souls so he could fondle their terror. The man who fed on dread and drank dismay. 

This charming man. She knew one day she'd get it right.

***

A dream. He was lying on a cloud, smoking a Cuban cigar. A coyote and a crow were having a heated conversation about the chemical makeup of Pluto's great heart plain. He laughed and they both turned to him and said, "You'll wish you hadn't done that."

"Whatever," he answered, and drew in a lungful of smoke that was bitter and hot and made him cough.

"You need to stick the landing," a female voice whispered in his ear, but he saw no one. The coyote and the crow were gone. Just a single balance beam, shimmering, impossibly narrow and infinitely patient.

He mounted, teetered and lurched a couple of times, attempted a routine, did okay. But he couldn't dismount. He was too afraid of the landing. He closed his eyes, told himself nothing could go wrong in a dream, that it didn't matter. Just jump and hope. But he stayed frozen, his heart drumming like a hummingbird orgy in his chest, his lungs shrivelled in the rarefied air. Then the cloud disappeared and he was falling at last.

***

When he opened his eyes, he thought at first the cloud was back, the dream was back, but it took a moment to realize the cabin was gauzy with smoke. He inhaled an acrid electric reek. Then he registered the screaming. Saw the flight attendants wet-faced and inconsolable, clutching rosaries, totems, talismans. Felt his entire lower guts shift with the slow stirrings of true terror.

A man nearby, in a voice tremulous with sorrow, said, "My daughter's wedding is next month. I can't miss it…"

He scrambled to the window, saw the fire flapping like oily orange rags from the engine, the impossible cant of the horizon.

And for the first time in the few minutes left of his life he embraced terror and found within his core something small but bright, something that hummed an unheard frequency, while his wretched human moans mingled with those of his fellow passengers and were entirely indistinguishable.

Friday
May062016

The World Now

A road is an inevitability.

We traveled through the night and came back to the coast and a morning sky like God's mint breath. It was always going to be the ocean, that leviathan swell, gusted whitecaps, brightness glancing off the sound so dazzling you fear for your retinas.

This is the world now.

The cabins are still here. They were already being reclaimed by the insatiable life of the world even before all the bad stuff happened; rough cedar stairways and tortuous narrow boardwalks in creeper chokeholds, drifted corners of sand and lozenges of coloured glass, dry grey siding more bone than wood. Wood's spirit shadow. And inside, the permeating musk of old furniture, a leaky kitchen tap, ocean scene paintings as sun- and salt-bleached as the driftwood they depict.

We find one empty. You kick off your shoes, step to the small balcony, watch a resolute phalanx of ants on the railing. You turn and gift me a half-smile and I return its other half.

"Let's open that wine," I say.

"First, a shower, even if the water's cold."

"It will be. But we got plenty of time now, to fix things. There are others here. People like us."

I'm thinking generators. Solar power. Friendships. Things we almost gave up on as we trekked west and saw what we saw.

I listen to the water cascade and imagine you naked, the water skeining over your skin, your head back. Always your head back. Your solemn eyes half-closed. My love for you is a lighthouse to keep you safe, cooling rain on a sultry August night, the high blip of a beacon in the silent roar of space. 

I open the wine and get a start on you. I know you'll be mad when you see that, but I don't care—there'll be more wine. You'll wrinkle your nose, make a dismissive gesture with one hand, then find your way back to happy in the blink of a lamb's tail.

Roads are righteous things. Even cracked and overgrown. Without them, we might never have found our way back here. We are the hot red cells in the arteries of the world. We were once the virus, or at least its carrier, but no more. We will atone.

Suddenly you are here in the room with me and you scowl. I try not to smile and I pass you the bottle, which you take and upend. Still naked and dripping, you look delicate as a suckling fawn.

"Did I tell you about my last dream?" you ask, after slaking your thirst.

"No."

"It was bad. Worst one yet. Even been dreaming awake."

I know better than to dismiss these dreams. Throughout, I've believed in you and we're still here. That's enough for me.

"They'll get better from here on in," I say. No more plague doctors. No more patient vultures. No more carnage. No more children coughing out their viscera in a mass grave. No. Welcome to the debridement. The healing surf will thread tendrils of hope through those dark landscapes, my divine Cassandra.

Things might have faded, but we'll bring colour back, just watch us.

This is the world now. But it doesn't have to be.

Friday
Apr152016

Of Moths and Monsters

Once she got it in her head, she couldn't shake it. Monsters. Sex was an ambush and drugs were lame; hunting for monsters seemed a better prospect than either. 

Of a night, she'd purloin a semiautomatic pistol from the gun safe in the basement—having a cop for a dad had that perk at least—and go hang out behind the Walmart parking lot, down in the scrubland near the river. Or over by the skateboard park, beside the wharf. Anyplace with deep enough shadows. She lived in a town that floated on dirty rainbow water, its reflection swaying like a deranged mother rocking the corpse of an infant.

When the monsters came—and they always came, as they had done so even in the asylum of her home, the sanctuary of her bedroom—she would make it all right again.

Tonight, an older boy kept eyeing her even as she tried to blend into spindly bushes so laden with late-summer soot they were more brown than green. The dark waters of the wide river sent brief warm breezes ashore that tasted in her mouth and nose like lukewarm decay. The boy was a skater and the spill of hair over his face still couldn't hide his gimlet stare.

"What you doin' down here, home girl?"

She ignored him. Spit on the dirty ground. Wondered if—hoped, even—he might turn out to be a monster.

"This no place for a shawty."

"I ain't a kid."

An urban coyote yipped a sudden sharp thought from the other side of the oily waters. Between them, a dark barge slipped soundlessly by, a silent apparition. River spirits passing between scant gutterings of life.

"Wanna see something'?" the boy said.

Her hand went to her waistband and the boy watched and nodded like he knew. He came closer and she tried to send out a warning but she froze. He was standing below a streetlamp from whose dome emanated an orange mist more sodium haze than any true kind of light. He held his skateboard in front of him like an oblation.

"'Sokay," he said. "Lookit. Move into the light."

She did as he said. Stared at the wooden board. Its surface was filled with shifting graffiti, textured and swirling, in which she saw a land made of slate and purple rhododendrons, watched auroras dance over breaching pods of orca, left her body to cavort with forest dryads in a spore-filled sunlit clearing, flew impossible distances across a black howl to taste the ice mountains of Pluto.

She felt too naked so she came back to herself, though she mostly didn't want to.

"What the fuck…?"

"Told you it was okay."

It had to be a trick, but she couldn't fathom it.

"How?" she asked.

"You see what you see, is all. What you need to see. And it's a'ight, shawty. You oughta get on home now. Lock up that nine, yo."

She felt the need to thank him, but he was gone as if he'd never been there at all, and only moths moved in the weak canted light.

Nothing to do but go home. Funny, but she sensed she could handle this. Somehow the monsters had all up and left and, while relief filled many of her hollows, something about that still disappointed her.

Friday
Mar182016

Slut Dreams

Slut Dreams


(for John Donne)

 

Punk cellist. Braced for banishment.

Your hectic face, your miscreant strut,

The fluctuate air hums your ruined frequency.

Your superheated breath in my superannuated back,

I turn slow and understand malnourishment

At last. I watch you break, and see you crack.

Whose skin did you inhabit today? This century?

You sucked so much from me and now you 

Don't even have enough left to borrow.

Still, I'm going to take it all, the full sum of your worth.

Can you love someone yet wish them only 

Sorrow?

 

Nights in Cassadaga, cool mornings in Seoul.

Give me your arms, donate your shaky armoury.

Before you I never even knew I wasn't whole,

Corrugated wharflike and rusted as a cannery.

My wary bordertown heart is like the lightning tree.

Black and crooked. Split and elementary.

Dubious as blind things writhing in a hole.

 

The sleek wolves smell you, the blind bears find

Your scent amid cordilleran folds 

And the tail fan of a talus

And immediately follow.

 

Eagles and buzzards wheel in the impossible sky.

 

I'm a man. I'm alive. Under the bright cold

Silver blue dome. Adamant

Draws us earthward, but

What next? To whom

Do we run? Is this where

Love goes to die or where

It might in fact begin again?

 

The cyclic world is giving birth

To its own addermouth end.

 

We will find each other in the blue-sky valley

After the carious rocks have crumbled, after

The parched trees have cracked open, everything

Once living laid bare to the world's scrutiny. And you

Will bear me from the charnel field, my brother,

My blessèd sister, deliver me to my home. You

Are of my iron heart always. You my

Mutinous pestilent love are 

Carved from my own ambivalent flesh. Did you

Dream of me or I you?

 

It matters not. Dream, dream, my love,

And never stop until sleep is done.