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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 Genesis (3)

Saturday
Aug182018

This Pain Needs a Name

I stare at the sky, eyes raw with grit, at this shroud of burnt orange and corpse-grey where blue once smiled its summer brilliance. The alien sun a faded blood-coin suspended within the rattling final breath.

Extinction. Exhalation. Wanting rain, fearing squalls.

Leaves and boughs caked in layers of sandy clay, encased like a warm dry antithetical ice storm.

Nobody has been this way in weeks. I sent my children far, not from ego but the opposite. So they might find some good beyond this. So they might have a chance.

Emma-Lynn and Aaron, if names become monuments.

But I fear we didn't do it right. Sanguine golden limbs among the shadows. Tales a-walking, ploys a-dancing.

And this pain needs a name.


***


"This is so sudden! You sure it's a good idea?"

"I do. We need this."

"But camping? Hiking? We never did this before."

"Sure we did. Not together, but we did it."

"Yeah, I was basically a kid when I did."

"So was I."

"So why'd you think this is a good idea now?"

"Trust me."


***


Present tense, I read the classics here. Over and again. Mary Shelley's lost and tender monster; a watery lamented spectre looming over Manderley; passion daubed across rugged brumous moorland; Brontë, du Maurier, Austen, Woolf; odes to girls, dirty precious haunted love songs etched into bones of landscape and carnival machinery. The Overlook. Hill House. Montauk. Joyland.

Our blessed migrant wake.

Why are you faking your presence? The headaches bunch like midway rides, subsequent cars of dissatisfied riders, gathering and griping, demanding redress. My blinded echoing skull is occupied by cutthroats. We usher in ghostly revolution.


***


No one could have scheduled this or made of it a scheme. We were young. A cleft in the land was damp and vulvar, and we followed it down—breathless, scowling, and leaning female. Moistened breath. We took our hints from the dreadful land that shouldered us.

"These bugs," you said. Oh, Emma-Lynn.

Battalions of mosquitos and lone earmarked deerfly.

"What of them?"

"I need to leave. They terrify me."

Aaron? Is that you? My god.

All composure gone, you ruined our trip, quietly shrieked your dissent, made of me a wounded fool.

Although pluralities concurred.  

The land was the land, and still is. Our trifling dramas dissolve in the face of everything, each item, all entireties, the kit and caboodle, the whole shebang, this thing we can never fully understand, all gone, so gone, so bereft, so utterly arrested.

We're lost. Blinded. Quieted. Hurt.

And still we need a name.

Sunday
Mar042018

Bleed

This is what all happened in one night, give or take.

"Elise, you are bleeding."

One Friday. A dream of a train ride. Suburbia deep into downtown.

"I don't care anymore."

Neon sobs and menstrual facades. Smeary and hidden. 

"But you should."

Come with me. Come. This will be a story of concupiscent abstinence, a modest fleshy tale wrapped around unchaste bones. Sinless and degenerate, a miscreant jest, forbidden.

"I will tear your stupid pink-vermilion flesh with my yellowing teeth."  

Are we now just laughingstocks? Vague punchlines in so many cosmic jokes? Stooges in some frothing, galactic burlesque?

"Uh, okay..."

A life reduced: sex or not. Yearning or dread.

"You are so depressingly weak."

"Whatever."

***

This is the moment we all thought was coming, a fugue formed on a spectral hill; we grow our gardens here, bleed our victims, and love each nod and gesture highlighting so many mirror-image blastocysts. We surpass ourselves. 

I was your friend, and I marveled at the sunlit canopy above while clamorous street cars hissed and passed, leadenly clanking, iron-faced.

"You were my friend," you said. "I loved you." 

Although none of this was ever layered in flesh upon so many phantom bones. It only came to pass in labyrinthine dreams.

"I no longer know what you're trying to say."

"Me either. But trust me—it still needs to be said."

"I can't keep doing this. It's an endless stream of dreams, each one second-guessed by the next. We're bamboozled by timelines. All of our nows browbeaten by our thens. Just let me be, and wait while I sip this exquisite coffee and divide this pie with a fork. Where were we?"

"Here. In a Pacific Northwest reverie."

"Cascadia?"

"Oh, yes."

"Two heaped teaspoons?"

"Very good. Clever."

"God forbid you'd ever laugh."

***

Some sectioned limb unfolds itself so close to the horizon, we default into sweet-girl doom-pixie love—Eliza Doolittle, Amélie, Zooey, Rooney, more—ignoring such reality, a reach-around from callused arachnid palms, an imposition, all our aspirations paramount, flames of love sustained, a path portrayed and then proclaimed, so easy to unlearn each living segment of our drastic narrative. 

"My name is Eve, and I'm an addict."

"You really don't want to talk about that slimeball Adam."

The serpent slithers far beneath the palm fronds and the cedar boughs, only glancing back when blent and gusted love is finally defined: our hearts are filled with pain, and situational awareness aims to spend our buoyant, airy capital.

"Call me. Call me now. Okay?"

Elise is seeking not vengeance but balance. She seethes a culinary phalanx. Plays herself in video games complicit and askance.

This timorous howl is poetry right now. Wait until the sockeye find their wild elusive thread, triggering our western coastal shimmer, blare, and thunder. Gift to us this roiling tidal squirm, breathe from us this raw, rare planetary air, drop rain squalls over and upon us. Welcome, grey wolf. Welcome, spirit bear.

O Earth. O endless love.

***

Elise has left. Her bloodstain remains. A vaguely carmine map of shadow blame. 

This place is likened to some flippant home, a shell-like choir of intravenous drones, a cenotaph, dark and fatalistic brickwork; some distilled, some lost, some wretched absent aching monument.

A path. Follow it. Follow it and sing your verification song, your signature, your cultivating aplomb.

Before us is the tale itself. Then follow it…

We are none. Our shaken ranks resist decoding. Unscramble this, our fury. Our purest fury. Our one kilometre stare. Our relatable and incandescent rage.

Something emerges from the trees, hunches ungainly across the trail, slides queasily into the oily lake.

Friday
May052017

Riding the Blue Shard

It's the blue train, the coal train.

How did we come to be lying on these tracks now it's arcing its slow curve this way around the hillside?

Two blue engines fore and one mid, dusty lozenges of sapphire bracketing dull beads of jet.

Eve is up on the hillside with a camera. She will avenge us if this goes awry. If this train of thought leads to catastrophe, so be it, and there will be a reckoning of sorts. Supine between the tracks I wait, the weight of the device heavy on my chest, the ballast between the ties jabbing my spine, my ribs. I feel the train before I hear its distant voice, its thin wail of loneliness. At the right moment, I will detonate this thing and the train and I will cease to exist, and one more blow will have been struck for freedom. Eve will film it for posterity; students will yearn for martyrdom.

The clanging, screaming serpent is closer now, and the steel tracks on either side are harmonizing with each other, a calamitous electric yowl like the pitched dyad birth throes of star twins. My skull is coming apart. The clouds are blurred, the treetops smudges of dark. Smears and blurs against the blue of faded jeans: the very last things I will look upon. Things we can't unknow. I close my eyes. The great engine is upon me, and amid the clinker sparks and infernal din I count the seconds. And I hit the button.

It's 1980 or '81. A Soviet engine arriving on time via Warsaw and Köln rolls into the Gare du Nord like something mythical and reptilian, a vast bristling hammer-and-sickle agglomeration. A clanking imperious steel assemblage ablare with its own fanfare. Stopping us in our tracks.

Trains. We got on board the love train some eight years earlier. In England, in Russia, in China, in Egypt, in Israel. When did we disembark? Or did we? Was there a derailment? 

We're all on a haunted planet careening through some galactic backwater, convinced of our own consequence. Each galaxy a bright station for hurtling aggregations of stars and worlds. 

Canis and corvid. Coyote and crow. The engineers. Conductors. 

"Every hour wounds. The last one kills."

Cliff edge trees like victims of strokes: listing, staggered, part-ruined. They lean like broken soldiers in a bewildered vanguard, unmindful of each other, wind-assaulted, salt-scoured. The droning lobes of my skull are full as tics. 

"Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;

Thou hast no speculation in those eyes

Which thou dost glare with!" — Macbeth, William Shakespeare

I have woken as if from some other life. This here is the dream. I was happy in that life; my simple needs were met, and my smile was broad as Grand Central Terminal. My moons had their own moons. But this rude place is unworthy even of a dream. It is like a stick figure, a chalk drawing on a stoop, a bundle of twigs when placed before a great temple, tied with a grubby strip of cloth. Like a single brushstroke in a grand painting, an afterthought. The cracked mortar between the stones of an architectural wonder. Is this lost night of silent dreaming nearly over? Please. Let me return to my life. The abandonment of dreams has never seemed so promising. 

How are you?

Struggling. In pain.

Really?

I do a good job of pretending otherwise. 

Probably we all do.

The device didn't work. It didn't go off. We can't go back.

Ah. What if this world is our home now? What if it rejects us? What if the world's skin crawls and spasms like that of some weary and ancient being, shuddering to rid itself of the parasites in its afflicted rind? What then?

What then.