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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 Space (5)

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
Jul272018

Black Ambient

In the gloom, a girl shaped from sparking ozone and her wild electric canine dance beneath a moon of cold bone and a dormant volcano. Ice floes crackle around them, splitting and snapping, glitchy as break beats spun by a frozen demon DJ. All is blue or ozone-white.

Voices weave in and not in. This tapestry of sound is torn, charged.

Have you ever seen ice-smoke? You have now. The chill, fuming tail of the dog and the smouldering cold tendrils of her dress.

She is my girl, though I don't know it yet. She whips the hem of her dress like a matador. Ecstatic. Like a mad, evasive, holy truant.

We fall from this frigid locale to a motel on earth, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Cascadia. Good Christ, how do you adjust to that? Carpets that clutch and walls like dried pulp. A girl in the next room is sobbing like the world decided to upend itself, unravel its guts in space. She can barely draw a breath after each protracted sob. Her throat sounds raw and long headed for ruination. I knock on the wall and a male voice tells me to fuck off. I knock again and someone knocks back harder, informs me I'm a motherfucker. I no longer know my own mind. I am enraged and sorrowed and can no longer distinguish between the two, and I exit the room and rap on the adjacent door. The same male voice screams at me to fuck myself with something serrated and oxidized. I'm not even armed. Other than with my annihilating rage. I knock again, and harder. It hurts my knuckles, but pain is now my companion at every level and juncture. Someone flings open the door and I'm instantly struck, in the gut, in the groin, and in the face. The nebula of pain is a collision of starfields, and I drop, happy and gasping, knowing I now have cause to obliterate. Wolves dream their darkest chorus in the forest of my brain. A full moon hangs pendulous as drool from an idiot's lip. Anticipatory. Gleeful.

Stand back, make room. Some wolflike stammer tattoos this guileless jaw.

Come to me. Be me. Your pain as I consume you is why I came. Such sour elusive bonhomie. Melancholy and euphoria; few drugs meld so catastrophically.

Beyond the cityscapes, through airwaves, I hear electric ghosts stuttering their dumbstruck phrases hourly: "I-I fell in love with you," "Huh-who do you love?" "Wuh-when will we be saved?" "Huh-help them. Help us help them."

He blinks, like paper.

Then I go in like a shark and devour him.

Friday
Oct232015

Discount Noah

He knew a time approached when it might behoove a man to make good his escape from this tarnished jewel of a world. And for this, he began to build his pod from molded plastics and bright chrome, bringing to bear skills he'd learned in his youth. Granted, he favored natural materials, but he was a carpenter in a world bereft of wood.

"Never did Jesus much good, either," he said to Maisie Ellen, who stopped by now and again to chat.

"What's that now?"

"His trade, I mean."

"Stuff and nonsense."

He loved this part. Fastening and honing and sanding. Making things fit. Smoothing and fashioning. The backs of his hands were dry and creased as Martian valleys, all tawny cliffs and canyons fanned with deep rubicund gulches. Life, he thought, is mostly about elaborating.

So he elaborated.

"Jesus hisself, I'm sayin'. A carpenter who ended up nailed to two hunks of wood. Should probably have stuck to fishing. Though even then they probably woulda poked a hook through his damn lip and hoisted him over all them rubberneckers."

"He was a fisher of men, not a fisherman. Different thing entirely, you old heathen."

"Yeah, well."

She regarded him as he worked. He noticed.

"What? Woman, you look like you've been chewin' a lemon soaked in vinegar."

"You really think you can save your scrawny heretic posterior while billions pass from this tired old world?"

"Sure, maybe. Why not? Someone's gotta. Happened once before."

"You heard the saying about the only two things certain in life, right?"

"Yeah."

"Tell me."

He put down his tools and gave her eye contact. "Death and taxes."

"Uh-huh."

The faded charcoal arch of her brow forced him to elaborate again.

"Figure if I cheat the first, the other ain't gonna count for all that much. Kind of a twofer."

"Well, good luck with that, Major Tom. Me, I'm happy to keep canning fruit and sweeping away cobwebs until the good lord calls his sheep home."

"Always been more partial to goats myself. More gumption. And I prefer to take my chances up there." He peered into a dark void scattered with bright rainfall diamonds on some vast invisible dome. 

Had a lifetime of such mysteries. Getting tired now.

"You old fool. Up there's where I'm fixin' to go too. Only not in some contraption built outta duct tape, binder twine, and dollar-store gimcrackery, neither."

At this he laughed long into the night, while the two men observing through one-way glass glanced at each other; one shrugged and the other shook his head so briefly it might have been a tic.

"So convincing I could almost hear the other party's words."

"Yeah. He's in deep, poor old fella. We need to up his dose, I'm afraid."

Back in the room, the old man paced and chuckled to himself, rubbing his rough hands together and imagining to what glittering enchantments, what unspeakable radiance, the arc of his ark might soon transport him.

 

 

Friday
Dec192014

Delivered

There are a thousand ways to walk a road. I picked this one. Judge me when I reach the end of mine. 

There's a universe in every abandoned lot, every weed patch, all derelict things. Go deeper. Go deeper.

We dreamed of a universe that dreamed us first.

She laughs at me when I cry. And rightly so. This is wretched comedy not noble tragedy, slapstick not cataclysm. I should know better. Like hers, my road is crooked, has wound through thorns, thickets, prairies, caverns, and starfields. We have seen some things; some we rendered unto Caesar, some we stomped into pulp while we danced.

Yes, the tornado loves you. Yes, we drank moonshine out of cracked mason jars, somewhere outside of Baton Rouge, in a flat black El Camino. Yes, we smelled the trees rotting. Heard the pitiful whimpers of ruined children. Picked through the ooze of the world, its loathsome glue. Watched them scrape fetuses into ziplock bags. Cried forsaken uterine prayers at the world's drab rim. Fucked until we forgot ourselves. 

Your iris a limned nebula encircling a black hole. Mars isn't the red planet. Earth is. Drenched in blood from the primordial brawl onward, its deceptively placid unblinking eye in the tenebrous void the subterfuge of a demiurge.

How far from yesterday? Too far? Go now. Go. Write that reptilian western, that larval horrortale. Hear the cries of the interstate off-ramps, each one distinct as the lamentations of Jeremiah. Feel the scalding dark arterial blood spraying from my tear ducts.

We're not mad. How can we be? We've done all this together, again and again, felt bug-crawl sands squirm between our splayed fingers and twitching legs. If I am mad then she is too. We've traveled a billion parsecs trapped inside the pungent lurching atrium of a monster's heart, a living sarsen so ancient Stonehenge weeps in shame and the big bang itself is chastened and goes forever silent.

I hold her tender face and search those nebular eyes, feel myself pulled toward her event horizon, and I care not. The vacuum can take me, the nullity enjoy its empty triumph.

"What was it all for? Was it a dream?"

"No, all that's passed was a nightmare. This, this is a dream."

"And tomorrow?"

"A wish. A vision. A maybe. A probably not."

Her climb is up, and so is mine. Her moon's limb is coughed into rock salt. What can you obliterate for relief from this? Whose throat can you tear from its hot bubbling strings? Wherefore rage? Why do we continue laughing like a jester whose court is no more, whose joke runs far beyond its own flat and desolate punchline?

Friday
Sep262014

Stolen

What first made her run is long forgot, but run she did. Giving careful head in the backseat of limousines was only the beginning. She dreamed of the stars, of stardom and of actual stars, of an impossible silver life onscreen and off—red carpets, green rooms, the blue flashing lights of overdose—and when the cracks begin to show and you run out of inner space there's always the oblivion of actual space.

Yet first she ran. Or drove. Or was driven. Endless bloodred nights, long midwestern trains keeping pace alongside her constant flight. Hitchhiking, joyriding, from turning low-track tricks to hunkering down in hayricks. 

Sometimes an easy charm, apposite words, and timely fingers down the throat won't save you. In the end, the teeming randomness of the world swoops in, all smirks and honed surfaces, and snatches you up.

You wanted outer space? Here's space. The shattered windshield glass sprayed like the Milky Way over dark asphalt, each tiny star part of something vast, lovely, and immutably unhinged. Howling through the night, blunt force impact, then the pure silence, the longest gap between breaths, after the broken parts settle and before the dawn cleanup arrives, when even the dry wingsongs of cicadas cease.

Her eyes. Always so pretty. Seeing pretty things. Each piece of glass a makeshift jewel, a life inchoate, hanging amid the vast black fugue of eternal night. Watching them all swirl like bitter snowflakes and cruelty and, one by one, dissolve into nothing: hay bales, pocketbooks, purloined kisses, shining things.