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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 Monsters (4)

Friday
Jul212017

Chesterman

When you ran alongside me, barefoot, following the beach pier below, I thought you meant to tell me something profound, announce something real. When you caught up to my shadow and climbed the iron steps and looked in my eyes and said, "Your mother died," I thought you were either funny or cruel. It took a long time for me to realize you were going for both.

I can't help it. I associate your metronome hips toiling in a sandblasted skirt with the death of my mother.

At my tea party, Kate Winslet is Emily Blunt's aunt. Kelp lies forlorn on the shore.

"Honey, don't make me do anything. Let me do it 'cause I want to."

Escape your uterine penumbra. Ask me how?

"I'll ask this. Impossible to answer, no doubt. How is it you seem to know me when all you know is my menstrual smell? And what is it that tastes like people? Makes us numb?"

"Because you climb men like we're trees."

"Seriously, no words. You should be banned from speaking."

"True. But then I'd write."

Here we all are, rulers of a thousand silent kingdoms. Wearers of so many tawdry cotton shifts.

"You are not the marrying guy. You are the affair guy."

"Welcome home, girlfriend."

"Ugh."

The wind gets up. Stirs the treetops. Will you dream of a monster hunched among the dark limbs, breathing quiet, awaiting its time? All I know is, every coward craves a gun. 

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
Feb192016

Bedtime in the 1960s

The boy in the flannel pyjamas finds himself alone and afraid in a room, a cold, dark room.

Not quite full dark, as there is one small lamp on a night table to his left. But drear as old London in fog, the lamp diffuse as nineteenth century gaslamps, impotent before the resounding slab of night.

It should be cheery, its porcelain stand cast in the form of a swirling flamenco dancer, her death-white dress daubed with crimson rose motifs. But its burnt orange ambit is feeble and ominous.

Why is he so alone? Did his family abandon him? Whose room is this?

He senses a bed in front of him, alongside an urgency to reach it, image-conjuring the harsh carpeted floor into a dire terrain bristling with clawed and ravening things covetous of boy toes. He ratchets his courage, glances at the incomprehensibly terrible lamp for the last time, and runs. Something swishes around his legs in the dark. Something wet and sharp and salivating with need.

Without a second to spare, he makes it, almost flipping over the opposite side, just able to hang on. His breathing is animal-like, a bray of trauma.

On top is a scratchy blanket, with a polyester sheet beneath. Some internal imperative insists his only hope of safety lies in plunging his bare feet and flannel-clad legs under these covers forthwith, which he does.

The cool sheet feels good, as his feet descend into the depths of the bed...

...only to sink further into something warm and soft and wholly slime-ridden, releasing from the boy a querulous cry of anguish as he feels a sluglike mass begin to dissolve his flesh like an acid, beginning at his toes and oozing—wretchedly, interminably, unhurriedly—upward.

But what the boy feels before the agony is worse—an infinite hopelessness, awful beyond measure, the colour a ceaseless grey moan marching to the most wretched and endless of horizons.

Friday
Feb072014

16. to 13. Staring Into the Abyss

13. Audition 

Takashi Miike's masterpiece, in my opinion, and one of the greatest examples of "abuse horror," a term I literally just made up. But yeah, it's beautiful and creepy in equal measure, and when the torture occurs, it's unrelenting and unflinching, which I admire while at the same time wishing it wasn't. The best horror should never depict femininity as weakness, and this certainly doesn't even try. Not so much a feminist revenge flick as a subconscious reordering, a reckoning. Honestly, rather than listen to me spout off, stop right now, seek out this film, and watch it.

14. Don't Look Now 

Whether you take Nicolas Roeg's piece of cinematic genius as a psychological depiction of how grief can undermine the deepest love, or whether you succumb to a supernatural interpretation, you will be unable to escape the cloying mood of sorrow, horror, and dread that pervades every crimson-tinged frame of this movie. Sutherland and Christie are peerless here, whether they are engaged in wonderfully carnal attempts to forget or are taking psychic leaps into a dark, arcane, almost pagan Venice. Creepiness and wrongness vie with a watery Renaissance city that still dreams darkly of ancient sins, murder, and illicit love amid its oily canals and murky piazzas, knowing we can never go back to the innocence of our past.

15. A Serbian Film  

Right on cue, here comes the gore. And the awfulness. And Exhibit A in why so many people label the horror genre despicable and morally bankrupt. Because, trust me, this film goes places most people in the genre won't. It lacks all restraint and good taste, and yet... despite what its haters say, it's not without merit. It's true to itself, to its political vision, and to a kind of faux snuff aesthetic. Sure, the themes are appallingly bleak—in fact, some see its transgressive nature as a political statement in itself—but it's consistent in its stark brutality, as well as extremely, unforgettably upsetting. The word "relentless" is overused, but here it fits like a dirty, infected glove. In fact, "relentless and infected" perfectly encapsulates the effect this film has on its viewers—those who are still left at the very end, that is. This is why I come to horror. Not for trinkets but for dripping viscera, lost terror, and to be thoroughly disturbed. Hard to condemn something for which you seek. If you have the stomach for it, watch it, but know you probably won't ever have the luxury of forgetting it.

16. Monsters  

By now, anyone foolish or bored enough to have been paying attention to my list might possibly have sensed a theme. Mood. Atmosphere. Dread. Disquiet. Don't get me wrong, I can be up there with the gorehounds, sometimes, reveling in the spectacular and the viscerally loathsome, but deep down I simply love the eldritch caress of light and shadow, of ambience, muted colour, subtlety, creepiness... and true fear. Not always, but for the purposes of this list, for sure. And you be sure to seek out the right version—a low-budget 2010 UK film set in Mexico. Again, it's probably best described as science fiction, but for me, the apocalyptic background, in which the compromised horizons crackle with anxiety, portents, and bad arrivals, works better on a horror level. And the story itself—of people desperate to find their way home against increasingly poor odds—is heartbreakingly human.