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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 Religion (2)

Friday
Mar082019

Cosmic

God, or someone like him, decides to tell a joke. 

Here's how it goes. 

It's wintertime on the great plains. We're huddled at a giant gas station—ten islands each with five pumps, like little solar systems—and we're alone there in that cold dome of artificial light amid an encroaching, encompassing darkness, like all of space itself has encircled us.

Us being Doris, Blake, and me.

And the winds. The winds on all sides sing no human melody, just a fluctuating galactic plainsong, like abandoned sheets berserked by a gale. Blurs of snow like the flung arms of colliding starfields.

Doris says, "You think she made it?"

Given I watched Sylvie die with my own anguished two eyes, I'm gonna pass on that. 

I stomp my feet, Doris hugs herself, and Blake ignores us.

Our exhalations hang in the air like tiny frozen organ pipes.  

In the gloom beyond the lights, a pale gathering of rigs lie still, accumulating snow like the corpses of buffalo. I wonder where the drivers are, but again I keep my thoughts inside, for warmth.

And speaking of inside, not a soul moves within the chill fluorescence of the great hangar around which the gas bars orbit. An inconvenience store, I think. Not funny. The place looks like a forsaken terrarium. 

Blake hasn't spoken in hours, but he does now. "So this is hell," he says, quietly.

"More like hell's briefing room," says Doris, which makes me look at her and nearly smile. She nearly smiles back. And I try not to think about Sylvie. 

How do things go so wrong so quickly? Twenty-four hours seems barely enough time for such a one-eighty. Everything had gone to plan; against the odds, we'd pulled it off; we were superstars; life was about to begin in earnest. But now…

It's all a risk, every step of it. You can tell a joke, even a bunch of jokes, but no one's obliged to laugh.

Out there in the dark, beyond the dizzying supercluster whorls, we watch shapes move like slow behemoths; real or imagined, who knows? All we know is we'll never reach them, on this day or the next, but if they reach us they will end us. 

Blake says, "After we soar, how come there's this rule we gotta come down?"

"That's God’s punchline," I say.

Friday
May202016

Midnight in America

An old man: "Sometimes I think the only important things that happen happen between a woman's legs."

A young woman: "That sounds like something you would think."

"Today I saw a ladybug with no spots. Just a flawless shiny bloodred dome moving on a leaf. It looked more like a machine."

"It is a machine. We're all machines. Soft, wet machines."

"But a female machine. Or we wouldn't call it lady."

"I've never used this word to describe anyone before, as it's the type of word you only hear in movies or read in books, but you're incorrigible."

"Listen, chica. When I was a tiny boy, I believed. I prayed to the big god they told us about in church and in school. I asked that god to help me when I felt sad or lost. I fought in a war and took refuge with a whore, and while I knelt and was tender and attentive, I asked that I become a better lover. I was present when my daughter was born and I asked that same god to make me a good father. I'm an old man now and the final darkness is not too far away, yet I gotta say out loud that I've spent most of my life waiting for anything resembling a response."

"That's a lonely thing."

"You got that right."

"So that's why you're here?"

"Kinda. Why do you want to know? I pay you and I get what I want and then we're done."

"Because it's more than that. I know you. You may be an old bastard, and a cranky one at that, but you're not some anonymous client. I watched you cry that time."

"Fuck that. I was a pussy back then."

"No you weren't."

"Anyway, I thought you said we're all machines. None of this matters, if that's the case."

"Nothing sadder than a sad robot."

"…"

"See? Okay, I gotta ask. Are you depressed?"

"That's a simple question with a complicated answer."

"So answer. I got time."

"Ha. You're a tenacious little cunt, aren't you? But okay. I'll give you the simple version, since you're like a pit bull chewing on a femur and I like that the same way I admire Jack Nicholson's character in that movie with the big Indian. Or perhaps the big Indian himself. Hell yeah, I'm depressed. But I'm no more depressed now than I was last week, last year, last decade. You learn to deal. And some days I deal better than others."

"Tell me more."

"What are you, my therapist?"

"Nah, I'm curious."

"Right. Okay, you wake up in the flat grey morning of a gloomy Sunday. Sometimes that feels like the end of things, other times it feels like it's the low point you might climb out of. Or rise, like that firebird. It's always there, a giant fucking shadow. If you let it, it will drop from above, a tear-soaked canopy, and impede your every step. You won't be able to escape your bed, let alone some mythic fire. But you can't. You can't let it win. You gotta keep finding ways to let the light in. Fill the days with good. Could be a handful of blue M&M's one day, a Warner Bros cartoon the next. Things that are light, and free of that awful weight."

"I never heard you say so many words."

"Well, you asked."

"I did do that."

"I like something else about you. Can you guess what?"

"What?"

"I called you a name earlier and you didn't flinch. In fact, you smiled just a tad." 

"Words are words. Each one has more than one meaning."

"You'd have liked my daughter."

"Past tense?"

"See? You say you know me, but you didn't know that, did you?"

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah, me too. It's alright, I ain't mad at you."

"Why would you be mad at me? For not knowing? Because she's dead?"

"Nah, none of that. No reason at all to be mad at you. I'm a cranky old man, remember? I'm mad at most everyone much of the time."

"It's understandable."

"Ha! Hey, that time you seen me crying? That's why. My daughter. That's the real reason I was bawling like a baby, no matter what bullshit reason I gave at the time."

"Better late than never, I guess."

"Huh?"

"Honesty. Being honest. I'm glad you trust me enough to be honest."

"You're a fucking riot, girl."

"A pun?"

"Not intentional, but it works."

"So you still want to do this thing?"

"Uh-huh. Never been more sure of anything."

"It'll change you."

"I don't doubt that. I'd chew on it more if it was noon or even midafternoon, but I'm far closer to midnight, so it don't matter." 

"Okay. I wish I didn't know you, though. Makes this harder."

"Just let's go in the room and bring in the redneck."

"Alright. Did you pick your implement?"

"Gonna go with a claw hammer."

"How's your swing, gramps? It might take a while…"

"No problem. I want him to suffer. I need to experience this. Being bad, I mean. Evil, even. The last eight years, the Trump presidency, pretty much killed my love for people, especially the miserable fucks that helped him get there. This yahoo properly vetted?"

"Oh yeah. Skinhead past. Swastika tats. Stormfront bona fides. Has a long record of assaults against blacks and gays."

"Good. Let's go spill this hate machine's blood."

"You break my heart, old fella, but you paid your money and this is still America."

"Damn right, girl."