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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 Southern Gothic (2)

Saturday
Nov102018

Dry Run

It had to begin somewhere, so let’s say it began with the elastic blare of a horn on a rain-smeared night. 

I peered through filthy sheer curtains and saw only the bleary motel sign. The word motel aspired to perfection, stacked vertically in neon blues and reds. The balance of 

M

O

T

atop the teetering

E

L

As if everything was priming itself to fall, rightward, like the overreaching goodness of the world.

Aurora slept through the klaxon din. I envied her that, at least. Since we’d murdered her husband and indulged our inner Thelma and Louise, sleep had been an elusive ghost for me for weeks. Karma, no doubt, for my grubby hands-on part in the drama.

The horn came from a single car parked in the motel forecourt. I could see no one inside it, although the lighting was bad—two weak posts at either end of the lot, and the neon from the sign. Occupied or not, the car’s message was clear: time to leave again. When one’s freedom is imperiled, auguries come in bunches, and all signs and omens are there to be read.

I knew Aurora would want to shoot up before we headed out, so I shook her awake, tore her from her sleep funk a little too gleefully. She took a while to swim through the layers, but as soon as her eyes opened and focused somewhere beyond me, I could see the feral need in them again. And I knew she could see the disappointment in mine. 

Things hadn’t quite worked out the way we’d hoped. But we still had each other. And the raw, wounded, anonymous night.

She winced and I smiled. She didn’t smile. But heading for the anemic yellow bathroom, she drew on enough decorum to close the door behind her. 

***

Hours driving south, keeping to state routes. We were someplace that felt like the South. Arid expanses and weird industry. Huge dry lightning skies. Last night’s rain felt like someone else’s dream.

Though I could still hear the damned horn.

Out of nowhere, Aurora spoke. 

“A moment will come when I’ll sit on the toilet and shit out most of my organs.”

“Girl, I thought you were asleep.” 

“You wish.”

“Or you do.”

She grabbed at my hand resting on the gearstick, held it like it was a sickly pet, and I could sense her staring at me. I could feel a great distant tremor broadcast through her fragile bones as they clutched my own. Urgent. Electric. I refused to turn my head, watched the next mile and then the next.

At last she released my hand and sighed.

“We know how this movie ends, chica.”

I didn’t say a word.

All day, this endless brooding sky had stayed the shade of bedraggled fleece, putrid like the underside of a dying sheep dragged through watery mud. Less a storm threat than a vast sulk. 

Dying too, the day sank into its dark gray shroud, tolerating a thin band of corpse-light to gleam briefly on the horizon. Stark against that sickly greenish strip was the refinery, bristling like a city conceived by an alien amygdala. 

“This ain’t no movie,” I said.

___

Photo credit: © Monica Baguchinsky Lunn

Friday
Nov242017

Trespass Agin Us

We thought we'd finished the job. Ten of us, all from town, got liquored up one night and headed out to the Donnelly farm, while the wind bayed like a pack of coonhounds and covered for our graceless staggerings. 

We took out the two elder Donnellys easily, with quick machete flurries in their foul bed, but in that ruckus we alerted the eldest of their brood after Ma wouldn't stop gurgling like a butchered hog while she drowned in her own blood, and Pa managed to squawk out something akin to a "help" 'fore I cleaved his malformed skull once and for all, sending them squinty eyes even further apart.

The rest was a scarlet mist, some kinda abstract rendition of blood, stink, shrieks, and motion. The pursuit of the doomed under filthy ceilings and cast-iron skies. We almost literally chased them across hell's half acre. We lost Jody but put an end to those hellbound twins, Danny and Donnie; their half-faced freak of a sister, Janey-Jean; and at least two more of that infernal spawn. Yeah, not much more than toddlers, those last two, but in any war mercy's for chuckleheads.

The screams of the damned still echoing, we buried their pieces in crates within graves we dug ourselves in the soft earth of their own field, under a waning moon oft cloaked by fast rags of cloud, and we brought Jody home.

You no doubt judge us as monsters at this point. But wait a goddamn second. Y'all seen them chainsaw massacre films, slashers and the like? Well, these folks was long overdue. More'n rumors told how they'd been doin' hellacious things to mostly strangers but also some townsfolk—burying them who still breathed, tearing out pieces of their bodies while keeping 'em alive for weeks, and worse. For too long we'd lived with their predacious ways. 

Anyways. After the dust settled, we waited to hear if some bigger shoe would drop, but nothing. Local law knew already, but not a peep from out of town. Certainly no feds, but not even state police. We felt we might could breathe again.

Then one night soon after, my wife went missing. Sweet Willa Jane was gentle as they come; she'd even tried to talk us out of our fool scheme in the first place. I knew right away I'd never hear that voice again, the one that sang like a spring crick. Somehow the Donnelly's had gotten to her. I never stopped to wonder how, just jumped in my truck and hightailed it back to that wretched place like green grass through a goose.

I pulled up beside the field, fixing to cut across it. Before I reached the house, I stumbled on a patch of softer ground. One of the makeshift graves we'd dug. Under the earth were muffled cries, the strident music of suffering. I coulda dug away that dirt with my bare hands—it were loose enough and I were batshit enough—but bawling like an abandoned child, flingin' ropes of snot and the good lord's best curse words in his ongoing brawl with the devil his ownself, I returned to my truck and grabbed a shovel.

"Hold up there, Willa, my love! I'm here now!" I repeated, crazier than an outhouse fly. I dug like a demon and soon exposed the lid of a crate. "Gonna git you out!"

Using the blade of the shovel, I jimmied the lid, ready to embrace my love, ready to spit one final curse at the ill-starred farmstead that loomed like some massive indulged simpleton over us. Something small and female leaped from the hole and tore the shovel from out my hands. Before I could even blink in surprise, she swung that thing and I felt the blade bite deep through my damn fool skull. 

"You missed one!" she screamed and laughed like a coyote. She swung again. 

It was only then that I recalled they'd had not one but two sets of twins: two boys and two girls. Not Janey-Jean, but Janey and Jean. My ma always said I was so dumb I could throw myself on the ground and miss. Chalk one up for Ma. 

On my knees, bits of my head falling like frosting from a busted cake, my vision wavering like a TV dream, I looked up at the house, and the last thing I saw was my dear wife at the window, bleeding dark heart's blood from her shoulder stumps, screaming silently through the ruined hole of her throat.