• 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
    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 Kali (3)


Sunfire and Moonshine

When the moment comes for her to walk into the fire, she grasps it with an air of indebted love. 


Look. None of this is literal; Selene pieces it together from splinters of shell, busted scraps of a thousand swollen hearts and hot redemptive ash. 

Her genesis is flame and the cold, cold moon. A female story born from uterine fire. 

Her earliest memory is of haze and smoke, a gauzelike diorama punctuated by harrowing screams and the hoarse hitching breaths of survivors. People on their bellies crawling like larvae toward exits, a crackling inferno detonating everything above them. Do you shriek when doing so scours your throat raw? Do you, poor slug, curl into an imaginary shell, a failed snail?

Around such memories and queries, stories coalesce. Accumulate. Agglomerate.

Selene has never seen a field. Abandoned lots staccato and bristling with scraggy dandelions and sullied drifts of morning glory and gummy, chastened condoms and discarded needles? Yes. An actual field? No. 

Her shining mother gone, consumed; broken father crumpled to naught, all clamour silenced; heart-rent; siblings scattered like dry leaves in an October gale, she first experiences loneliness. Foster care is not entirely unkind to her, though; she emerges a bedraggled butterfly, split-winged and shuddering, from smeary toxic years of caterpillar hell. 


They laugh at my watchspring hair, snicker in my constant shadow. One day I'll put my foot down and tell them. You all need to back off, I swear to God.


It's daylight but tarnished, like some golden thing showcased by morning, lit by a tentative new sun, and found wanting. 

"Way too fucking real to recognize itself."

She speaks a name. "Helios. Helios. Helios. Helios."

"Girlfriend, you talkin' to yourself agin?"

Won't answer. Can't answer. Let the new moon dream of a perfect sky, and return to me this tale entire. Envision my kinsfolk in unison. No longer am I so desirous of its telling.


Selene is alive, and every time she feels the hot-coal blare of her ferocity, she loves herself a notch or two more, the reciprocating world a notch or two less. 


A time arrives when Selene becomes embroiled in an ugly clash with someone named Salome somewhere in the world. All she is, a collection of pixels and surly, pitiless text, but that's enough. Salome and Selene. Ironies laid in fault lines through the geology of lives.


Which gods moved what sign? Whose deities transgressed? 

Whole neighbourhoods feel their way into mercy, the men and the women, the bewildered children milling in squares, lost pets meandering, ruffled treetops, a glaring moon behind breakneck rags of cloud, snatches of vapour, the abraded cough of grey and white, all so harsh and well, Kali fucking Loki in avid silence, each grinning maniacally as their zealous crotches lock and they converge on Vienna to dance.

Two ways. Will you walk into the Danube, my love? Or is this bacchanal insatiable?

Nothing but an interlude in a story whose momentum is manifest.


Salome is a troll hunched beneath a digital bridge. All she knows is the hurt of Selene's dismissal, a disregard however mild requiring recompense. Dogged, she will gather her patient ordnance. Which she one day sends like the heart's own poison darts.

"My girl Selene, I hate to tell you this"—she loves to tell her this—"but you killed your mother. You rested some plastic toy on the element of a stove, and it melted and dripped, catching a towel alight, spreading quickly. Three people in the floors above were burned alive, two more succumbed to smoke, along with your own mother. It was you, Selene. You killed them. It's time you knew what you did."

Selene's mind says no, but her mortal heart knows. Fragments of memory suddenly make sense. She could search the records, but she already knows what she will find. She is like a theatre without actors or audience. A shamefaced ghost within a bad dream. The silence at the centre of a hurricane. She haunts the streets like someone condemned. 

Then one day she hears it. The screaming of someone in peril. She sees windows aflame like the eyes of madmen and the astonished O-gape of a door and she hears the screams. Of whom she neither knows nor cares. A tiny child as she was, perhaps? A young mother, even. This is her moment, her brief opening to fashion from an ending a beginning, to make of her life a ceaseless loop. Arms spread, she walks into the furnace, smiling.


A World Abandoned

Everything inside my head is small and enclosed and everything outside is huge and muffled. There are sounds within the woods at night, terrible sourceless sounds, screeches from unseen throats, and we awake to a sun like a penny glued to a fawn-gray board. A coin fixed to a sand-dusted slate. Brassy light falls amid the shadows all day.

Things are going wrong, have gone wrong. I wonder if I mean within or without, and discover I can't answer either way.

Gerhardt left three days ago and hasn't returned. 

I clutch our old retriever Lola at night, my arms encircling the pitiful trellis of her ribs, and she whines quietly at the shrieks from the woods. Come daylight she doesn't investigate.

And come daylight I pull up the ghosts of carrots and beets, translucent things like alien pods spawned in our friable dirt. Dirt that looks and feels but will never taste like the crumble topping my Aunt Caterina used to bake over Tuscan apples and sweet red grapes.

Must stop remembering. Too dry. Too drained of faith. Even yesterday is beyond the pale now.

Gerhardt took the crossbow; I have the old Winchester pump-action and the last two shells. 

I can't help myself. I think back to a time when the worst thing I thought could happen was losing my children. Laughter now would be legitimate, yet I don't laugh. Irony is as stupid as nostalgia.

Right before he left, Gerhardt laughed.

"What is funny?" I asked him.

"Nothing, my dear."


"Not fine. Not funny. And yet…"

"What?" I could never resist his artful pauses.

"A dream is an unfinished life, so maybe they were all dreams."

"The children?"

"All of them. Taken before their time. Maybe the life they're meant to live hasn't yet begun."

"But how is that funny?"

"Oh, outside of the cosmic scale, it isn't."

"And also, what then are we?"

"Midwives, perhaps? Or morticians."

His fragile smile left the cartography of his face like a misremembered shallows and he winked and kissed the air by my cheeks and he shouldered the crossbow over his day pack and stepped on the loose boards as if to release a pent and groaning sendoff—secretly ordained by impish music-loving satirists—and he never turned his unkempt head the whole time his wiry frame hitched itself down the long gravel lane.

Irked as I was by his cryptic foolishness then, how I miss him now. Stabbed by loneliness, I call Lola, who happens like a specter out of the strange quiet air. I bury my sorrowing face in her patchy fur, but when I pull away, her fur is dry. Perhaps I am the wraith, not her.

Perhaps my grief leaves no stain on this world.

Gerhardt and I once spoke of Christ and redemption. He was once a Lutheran and I a Catholic. We might as well have conjured Anubis or Krishna. Kali or the Morrigan. Cthulhu. Isis. A thousand echoing rooms and hallways spiral beyond the vacant futile atrium of unanswered human prayer. 

The night is too generic for copyright, and as it passes once more, stamped by the usual screams of the arrested trees, by the endless moonless hours, my insomniac eyes become the only things in this world that are large. They keep growing—while morning enters like an intruder pissing weakly in a corner—expanding like fungus or a thing far worse, daring the fawn-gray sky to blink in toxic fellowship, tempting the universe to tremble in abject defeat.

What is this now? Men? With guns and lust and deadened eyes?

O woe.

When Gerhardt returns, our last shells will be spent, I will be a strand of spider silk shimmering with rosy dewdrops and stretched between splintered fenceposts, and holy Lola's howls will fill the whole valley.



The wind gets up and sweeps our fires into streams of sparks, and we huddle closer inside our reams of rough hessian. Who knew the gales would blow so long? This is our place in the town square, our moment in the dreamscape, our truth within the chapel. Press those pedals, let the tiny organ wheeze its banal statute. Unfurl its rules. Queen, open your warm vaults to me, force me to partake of your exotica. The blizzard is here already; no one will speak again. 


No, I will not wait. 

"I am telling you to wait. I will not beg." 

Are you placed, poised to describe a million, maybe tens of millions, of black-and-amber leaves opening and closing and flapping northward, tropical to temperate, fine panes of leaded glass, flakes of tiger, endless pages from a children's book made for countless children yet to be born?

"No, you will not beg."

Once, a woman walked among you. She was lovely in mind and body and heart. Did you administer kindness? Treat her with respect? Urge her to lie crosswise? Trace the carious ridge above her passage with your fingertips, searching for fragmented things? Shattered enamel, a busted pelvis, and a skewed, deteriorated jawline. 

"We don't need to beg."

A whiteout. Shrieking phantoms skirling across empty highways. No lawmen. Not even sirens. Nothing. No one. 

"Just wait."

"No. Fuck. I will not."

"Spring is almost here."

"No. It's not."

"Weesht, child. Be still."

She sat in a quiet centre and let the groan of a weighted mountain lurch and creak and begin to detonate. She was a superhero, but one who lived on earth and not in shaded panels or amid spilled ink. She accepted her millstone, scoped her foes, cradled her spigots, arraigned her adversary. Made with a vineyard near Summerland a faraway date. Woke to hope. 

"Not begging. Imploring."

We're gathered on some secret meridian, far from the gridlock bedlam, quiet in a Costco parking lot where color has drained from a bright sky and sound from a late spring evening. Breathe. We remember our journeys here: passing through semicircular bridges—iron hemispheres of hemlock-green like half-buried parts of some giant machinery abandoned by unknowns—jerking the wheel right and then left, skirting traffic circles, wrenching gears, racing some dumbfuck in his Dodge Ram with truck nuts and a Trump/Pence sticker, blurring cornfields and anti-choice billboards, RV parks and storage yards, Chevron pumps and John Deere outlets. Praying a state trooper won't be waiting round the next bend, flanks still, all of him ready to move like a rested fly on stricken carrion.

"I am clean."

Welcome, Gaia.

"They don't care."

Welcome, Jocasta.

"They must."

Welcome, Cassandra.

"No. No."

Welcome, Pandora.

"Then we must—"

Welcome, Boudicca.

"Don't speak it out loud."

Welcome, Kali. 

A soft-boiled sun drops into a blue Pacific to the west, and before the light drains from the world a billion wings ripple the quiet air, batlike against a lung-shadow sky, looming voluminous, a bounteous smog with which to paint the evening, had we the tools or the vision.