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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 Monarch butterfly (2)

Friday
Jun022017

A Different World

Are they fields or backdrops? Cornstalks, watercolor hills, the raw faraway throats of the assembling hounds.

You tripped on the edge of a ditch, dressed in your charcoal raiments. Fell to your knees along the rude shoulder of a quiet straight road. When I saw you, my first thought was why a nun would be alone out here in this place of silence, dripping sullied water, palms displayed, mud streaks your only stigmata.

The hunter is coming, with his dogs. 

I am your sister, your twin. I squat in a hovel, barely fed or taken care of. My dirt is in sedimentary layers, marking the eons of my degradation. I was taken from our village, where you and I played in our facsimiles of innocence, and the years passed like sutures in a wound: deep, stinging, sequential.

You are the river that keeps pace, that stays its course through millennia of strata thrusting upward and tells my ancient tale.

"Befouled."

"I'm sorry."

"No, don't apologize. You are far more nun than whore. I am, too, perhaps." 

"My sister, I suspect it's not so stark a choice. But I don't want to dredge the past. I only want to love you and be loved."

"Easier for you to say than me. It is I who has to keep on paying. So many prices."

"What would you have me do?"

"Live my life as if it were yours."

"Is that possible?"

"Of course. Anything we imagine can become real."

"I can be the river instead of the rock?"

"Yes. Yes."

Did you crawl across the ankle-sharp cornstalks, the stunted remnants of our precious crop? Each year we move more soy, more sunflower. Pretty, yet the details become erased, the fine grain of things smoothed. We rip out the milkweed, even its roadside kin, oblivious to everything, the future, Lepidoptera attrition, the ruination of the monarchs. Make of everything a cipher. Too late, we get it. These are way stations we should never ignore. Did you make your escape?

Keep one eye on the distant hunter, an ear on the uncanny hollers and yowls. 

Hey, did you hear? You can get Innis & Gunn on tap in a bar on Government Street. Parliament dissolves into the backdrop of encroaching night, its outline a string of seasonal LEDs. Hot people lovemaking on the darkening lawn. Gawkers and passersby quietly thinning; tetchy draft horses dragging emptying wagons. Seabirds and crows scolding stragglers. The intimate lap of sailboats in this restful harbour. Sketchers and jewel makers disassembling, dismantling, heading for home. Red buses parked for the night. Replicant England folding into its counterfeit footprint. 

The lovers leave sweat outlines like crime scenes. I feel like an implosion. Down by deceptive waters, the frisson of thwarted love.

Where are you, Sheryl, and your prettier sister, Helena? Are you lost in Astral Weeks, listening to glory snared in amber? Bawling over the love that loves to love. The love that loves to love. While the gale howls over fallow fields and flattens the cornstalks. The love that loves to love. Say goodbye to all of that, to Madame George and Boy George and George Michael, and how we hitchhiked ourselves from Miami, FLA, shaved our legs, unfurled our litany of fags and freaks, made it all the way to NYC, hopelessly transformed. 

I offer you Rayne and Paige. The darkest, brightest, maddest, and sanest of twins. 

Or perhaps we should come at this from a different angle first. Picture a young David Lynch with his parents—late nineteen forties, early fifties—while they do business in some musty bank in Spokane or Boise. For a couple seconds, his parents take their eyes off of him and he wanders to the side of the bank where a hefty wooden stand filled with deposit slips hugs the wall. Young David is three or four years old and feels the urge to climb it, so he does exactly that, gripping the raised lip of its edge and trying to pull himself up. An innocent, even delightful moment in midcentury America. Norman Rockwell America. But that innocence is also his and everyone's downfall, in a prelitigious America where some article of furniture is not secured to a wall to prevent what happens here from happening. He hangs from its edge and it tips, and it's fashioned of dense and heavy wood—such good quality back then—so when it falls on him it crushes his throat and neck almost instantly. Thus one family enters the dark garden of grief, and thus the world is deprived of Eraserhead and Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive. On such random pegs such despondent coats hang.

But again. Twins. Rayne was told he was a boy and Paige a girl. Or was it the other way round? They spent decades in conflict with the world on something this elemental. Were you ever told your eyes were blue when you knew they were chestnut? That the world is flat when you endlessly sail its arcing horizons. Paige rained rage on all and Rayne filled pages with wrath, until they wrangled the word and then bent the world to their will and became Pain and Rage, brand new transgender superheroes for a world still not ready. Non-binary twins, a paradox.

"Did you see the man?"

"Last night was so quiet. Did something happen?"

"Nothing happened. The dismal man walked by."

"I want to live in a different world. One in which the dismal man doesn't walk by."

"He was holding something in his right hand."

"Holding what?"

"Something."

"I want to live in a world where the dismal man isn't holding something."

Someone faraway is firing up power tools, and the last ever dog bays doleful, and a deep threnody resounds from the mouth of a cave like the world's final jeremiad. A man screams, "You don't know me!" and runs into a busy street while dousing himself with gasoline and flicking a Zippo. Two women emerge from a shallow lagoon and mutilate each other with the shells of razor clams. A baby dies alone on a soiled mattress. Worlds are annihilated by a supernova. 

The hunter has arrived, and his eyes are screaming. 

"I want to live in a different world."

Friday
Mar312017

Monarch

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. 

"Wait."

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.