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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 William Blake (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
Jun092017

Kettering

"Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole." — Oscar Wilde

***

O England. We lived and loved in a caravan in Somerset. On holiday with my mad friend and his half-mad family, I would steal across dim eventides to you, in your own small caravan where you stayed and helped your mum. Her problems were like prisms floating off in someone else's periphery. Her heart was good but her mind was shattered, weary of shadows, trying to reassemble on the abandoned half of the moon. She even liked me. Mothers always did, though. We were fourteen or fifteen, then. Sixteen at a pinch. The tender shimmer of our confidence barely burgeoning, yet reciprocal. Our summer days were wrung dishrags with pendent cloud and a fine mist that felt like tidal spray on our upturned faces yet tasted of nothing much. Like sweat without salt. We treated the sun like an interloper. 

Teens have a homing call, and we were no different. Scrawny pigeon things, we were, skewed preemptive magnets in our brains. In a village hall, someone half-arsed a disco, strung some weak synaptic lights, set up a turntable and blared Anita Ward and Tubeway Army 45s most of the night while locals and tourists partway mingled, got heartily, lustily sick on Southern Comfort, gorged on faded plastic bowls of salted peanuts, and largely failed at sex. 

Avid, irreverent, spectacular, reticent. Are frenemies electric? 

Does aristocrat rhyme with wrong side of the tracks?

Partially. I'll come in, but I stutter on the high notes.

Prince and pauper, some bright daughter. See those eyes.

Those Tesla eyes. Scattering. Dost thou know who made thee?

Your music the gauze of summer draped, festooned across this eternal valley.

Silver jubilee? Impromptu street party? Nah, mate. That was then. Now lifelong enemies. 

Edison. Faraday. Tell me when it's time to jettison.

Right. Are you at last the axe for the frozen sea within? 

Will you let us in? Kettering. The unbearable lightness of Kettering.

The unpaved road to whose damn heart, my loves?

Yes, we pause on the stinking asphalt of a busy road, Abington Street, that dumb weekend, dripping blood from our off-kilter mouths, our sliced-up knuckles and forearms torrenting, a-stagger in some pointless random place reeking of stale beer and layers of old oil, broken glass embedded in our wounds and spitting out the bloody fragments of our teeth, now serrated like steak knives by steel-toed boots, our bells truly rung, ding-dong, ding-dong, while anxious drivers honk their horns and the restless weekend lopes along, regardless of, indifferent toward, our savage choreography, our unsolicited valium nightfall… but have you once spared a single thought for Kafka or Kundera, let alone fucking Kettering? 

It sounds like some cold North Atlantic breakfast, made with rice and fish, eaten by men in thick woollen sweaters listening to wheezing organs and melancholy strings while robustly stabbing the hope out of an assortment of sea life. I'm outside the hut and utterly lost. Antichrist, domesticate, concussed, you appalling fuck, come love me. I have barely anything left to give. 

What is left?

The song of a bird that has come to love its cage.

O England.