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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 Eraserhead (2)

Friday
Apr072017

"Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground"

Even if he'd been a small man he'd have been a big man. But he was a big man. I see him in his chair at the peeling formica table, on the right facing the tiny kitchen itself, slumped, in what some now call a wifebeater but then we simply called a vest—baggy trousers, cuffs rolled, braces over the tea-stained vest. White hair nicotine yellow, swept back. A soft pack of nonfilter Woodbines and a mug of sweet strong milky tea. Ten or fifteen bottles of prescription drugs ranked like soldiers in a defective war in which daily battalions are lined up at dawn to learn their fate.

England. Northwest. The nineteen sixties. The syncopation of passing trains.

I sit now on the long sandy reach listening to "Little Wing," blinking along, tapping my toes and fingers, stretching my neck to watch the disc of our galaxy wheel slowly across the night sky, that genial Stratocaster tone opening its throat and hungry for us all.

Oregon? BC? Baby, won't you change your mind?

This is the part where we are asked to feel shame. Where our therapists make their living.

"Baby, what's in your spice rack? Paprika's a given, but surprise me. Cloves. Ground nutmeg, sure. Dried sage and oregano. Chilli powder. Garlic. Cumin. Coriander. I need something radical, girl. Exotic."

"I got something radical. Stay with me."

A skinny girl in a tiny pleated skirt and motorcycle boots, nipples face-forward and plastered humid inside a plain white cotton tank top, eyes encased in kohl, earbuds pulsing Diplo and Flux Pavilion, waxy, harsh.

I'm two generations beyond, yet more thirsty for Cleopatra. 

And is this the part where I'm to beg you to love me?

Nah. Don't work that way. Been driving a good while, coming down from the mountains, heavy on the brakes as the road descends and sidewinders down to a quiet valley while the sun begins to drop behind the dry hills. The town is unremarkable. Its populace too. I pull over and walk the empty streets, meet almost no one. A one-eyed scarface dog, an old lady with recycled bottles inside transparent bags in a shopping cart. Meet me. Meet me. You won't ever meet me.

Quiet howls emerge from the draws that backdrop the town, each a distinct tone, a coyote symphony. Except it ain't coyotes; it's the outraged god-abandoned wind piping its raw heartbreak through ruined fissures in shafts that are no longer mined nor ever again will be. 

Back to the large man in the crumpled grey pants absorbing and agitating the fog of morning, charcoal and faded pink. His mind always working, his appetites arrayed, some clockwork set by ancients and left to unspool well into life and beyond. UFOs, wartime, an Italian-American tenor, a gaudy South Pacific theater, Antarctic sacrifice, an icebound German plane one bleak February that never got airborne, the awful melancholy of something unsinkable sinking. Melancholy hearted, he saw the eventual decline. Nodded quietly at fate. Checked out around the same time as Elvis, of whom he'd once said, "He'll never last." Nineteen seventy-seven. The jubilant year of Sam and Stevie, of Stormtroopers and fevered Saturdays, under a marquee moon. Stayin alive amid the rumoured death of a ladies' man in the decade's autumn.

I am fourteen or fifteen, a voyager, thumbing my tangled path away from pain. Close encounters on the littered edges of motorways while listening to "I Feel Love" on light cranial rotation and waving at "Johnny B. Goode" as it slingshots out of the solar system. Never minding the bollocks. Watching every last detective. And shedding a tear for Ronnie and Marc. Low. Animals. The Idiot. A Bat Outta motherfucking Hell. 

She emerges inchoate from the gloaming, haloed by dark motes like the ur-lights of some grim carnival. Hands me something warm and still dripping. Smiles like a tracheal gash.

"Eraserhead. Is that radical enough for you?"

Nightfall is upon us, with no place to sleep. 

Friday
Jan242014

24. to 21. Faux Real to Surreal

21. Eraserhead  

More Lynch and perhaps more obviously horror than the last entry. But also surreal, not to mention darkly and disturbingly sexually repressed. Actually, there is no other film quite like Eraserhead, which is perhaps a mercy. Bleak, industrial, helpless, it depicts our forced (or chosen?) passivity in a world that wants to grind us into nothing. Well, okay, that's just one interpretation. Others centre on the fears new parents try desperately to suppress of their diseased, deformed, unviable, unenviable progeny. Low level industrial sounds vie throughout with the constant and often maddening mewling of the pitiful offspring who lies wrapped and helpless within what appear to be filthy, infected bandages that could only hasten its end. Basically, it's an unnerving, extended nightmare—in the words of one critic: "human reproduction as a desolate freak show." 

22. Inland Empire  

Wait, you say, Lynch? Really? Yes, to me, David Keith Lynch is one of our leading horror directors. He is the master of nameless dread, of the ostensibly mundane looming suddenly beyond terrifying. Now, I love Lynch, and though I still think this film is bloated and even self-indulgent in places, and could certainly use a diet (hey, anyone else notice how diet and edit are anagrams?), its moments of pure, inarticulate fear are peerless and shocking. Nightmarish in every sense. Existential sitcoms in which the characters are large, anthropomorphized rabbits. Laura Dern, a woman in trouble. Harrowing and sad Hollywood street scenes featuring embedded screwdrivers and discussions about bus schedules. Plus, anyway, how often have you been able to enjoy a roomful of extremely ordinary and likeable hookers dancing to "The Locomotion"? Okay, don't answer that. 

23. À l'intérieur (Inside)  

Wow. I mentioned French extreme stuff earlier, and this is a perfect example. Brutal violence and genuine terror done with style. Seriously, this (ostensibly) home invasion film is gory as hell and is steeped in Cronenbergian body-horror, taking home invasion to its logical and dismayingly intimate conclusions. It's truly relentless and please, non-horror fans, all the warnings you'd expect apply to this one, even the trailer. Gruesome and beautiful and there seems to be an ever-present femininity to these French films that's often lacking elsewhere in the genre—not necessarily feminist, but certainly not content to bring suffering upon womankind without some kind of an accounting. Plus, Béatrice Dalle. I repeat: Béatrice Dalle.

24. The Blair Witch Project  

Another divisive film. Some feel it wasn't even particularly scary, but I disagree. The low-key slow-build to one of the creepiest endings in any film ever was worth it for me (I still shudder when I think of it, as it reminds me of actual nightmares I've had, so this shit's personal, yo). Yes, even the annoying, leaky-nostriled Heather character was kind of essential to how all the various strands led to that one urban legend shocker of a moment. Besides, Blair Witch reignited the whole "found footage" concept that had burst into life with the infamous Cannibal Holocaust twenty years earlier, only to go oddly underexploited ever since. In a world filled to the brim with the likes of Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, V/H/S, etc, that's hard to believe. But it's true, I tells ya.

If you're one of those rare types who haven't seen it (I feel you. I watched Titanic for the first time ten years after all the hype had died down and it was a'ight), don't even dream of watching this clip.