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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 Yachats (2)

Friday
Aug112017

When Gulls Scream

When my girl left me and went back east, I drove many hundreds of miles of my own. South.

Long before Canyonville even had a chance, I pulled into a darkening asphalt parking lot horseshoed by conifers, hearing the cannonade of surf against rocks, and I signed in to a room with an ocean view. The owner, a handsome woman with short black hair in a bob and wide sargasso hips, hinted I might find solace in her oceanic murmurs and clefts, and I did consider it, her warm specific impetus of comfort. But I never acted on it. Actual solace being too distant and all. 

That first night, after hearkening to the eternal clamor of the tide, I beheld the sunset, the dripping red sun like some internal sac dropped into an autopsy pan. My rosy camera finger stutter-sifting forensic traces.

Plastic glasses brimming with cheap red wine. Slipshod guitar work. I slept on the narrow balcony, folded into motel bedding, torches marking the cliff top trail below. Eighties Prince strutting on my laptop. Grainy silhouetted couples passed and gouged more pieces from my dark-starred heart. Whispered and clasped hands. I could see the sugar arc of their fingers, imagine the shadowy settlement of their terms, the endearing angles of their lips and eyebrows, their poise, their tone, their doleful, gentle music.

As the surf replayed its nevermore loop, hell's agonal gasps, I watched the gaping moon, frozen out there in the solar wind. Cadaver blue and alone.

The first time solitude outshines us, it makes some quiet vow to ratchet up its bone-grip.

That ring tone. Asking, "You there?"

FaceTime. Fuck. I could have ignored her, but my prison was my grieving skin, my gentle heart, was never not.

"Here. Yeah. Hey, babe."

Shadowy faces moving and grimacing in doltish middle grounds. Aging white folks. Farmer's omelets and rye toast and bottomless coffees in white mugs, Perkins and Denny's, peanut butter and strawberry jelly arrayed in racks, thumbsized. Iowa fields and South Dakota billboards. Sioux City, Sioux Falls. Illinois sunset. Faraway lightning. Liver spots. Trucker hats. Angry as fuck. The drastic ghosts behind all this.

"You did the left coast road trip without me."

"I did."

Pause to hear the sussurance of the night surf. The quiet inhale, the concussive rage, the hissing backdraw through mineral-brown teeth. The whole defiant coast is a wide and diffident mouth.

Lighthouses faking something. Partial corpses. Zombified. Useful in some surrogate time now gone. 

"How could you?"

"Was always gonna do it. And woulda done it either way."

"I'm mad at you."

"Yeah. You broke this. Broke me. There was no us when I started."

Seabirds claim their quotas of night right before the crows wake.

We traded more words. Reminisced. About fireworks seen from a balcony. Even tried to wring something winsome from this jilted Fender, until…

A great blinding shear off the coast, somewhere near the horizon, sliced across the night, stupefying light so pure it's easy to forget the wretched bastard cacophony to follow.

And you saw it onscreen, knew it was your immediate future, light-speed nigh, the moment I tried to say I still cared, the moment love posed triumphant, when a gull screamed, at the frozen blazing moment of my erasure. 

Friday
Jun062014

Tempting Ogres

There are times when I drive across the whole of America and the sky stays that same deep blue, morning through night, Monday through Sunday, behind mountain peaks from fabled lands. Distant clouds bloom off-white and cerebral, unattainable dreams on abandoned horizons. The kind of dreams dreamed by forsaken gods. 

Roxy says, "Tell me you love me." 

"I love you." 

"Now tell me like you ain't just been caught in a lie." 

"…"

All those map lines, crisscrossing. The pitiless blue interstates. Broken line borders. The edges. Brimming with need and indifference. Love and embarrassment. The high wretched calls of ocean things. 

Detoured from I-90 aways back, we're lured and lulled into this living postcard of America. 

We head south on the Oregon coast, find some kind of level in a springtime bubble of ocean surge and yellow scotch broom, tadpoles under grey rocks, seals on brown ones. Plunge into spray, follow a monochrome urge, Roxy standing atop the headland, desirous to display but knowing that can only backfire in a world built the opposite of joy. 

Arms folded under those lavish breasts, she won't look at me. 

"Hey Roxy, play some music." 

I can almost hear her eyes roll, a gritty squeak. I can almost hear my heart break too, but I won't describe that. 

When we pull into the motel parking lot in Yachats, a place held like something fragile by parental stands of terrified fir and pine, all we want is to fall down on a soft bed and surrender to the sleep that's been calling our names the last three months. High time we stopped ignoring it. Even Jesus slept. Far as I know, anyway. 

People die in this place. A teen boy once slipped on these rocks and couldn't climb back, struggling like an upended turtle as the surf beat him steadily to death while his friends watched, arms outstretched, impotent. There's a plaque recalling him.

We walk the rocks anyway, explosions of white spray booming and fizzing around us, surging tides shot through narrow passages beneath our feet. Nature's IEDs. So loud we can't hear the gulls cry out their PTSD, their hypervigilance. 

"I was born in a month that rhymes with remember." 

"I can't hear you. Not a single word. Let's go inland, see if we can find trains." 

I hear that. Trains are usually good. We walk as evening begins to gather itself. 

A field, dimming. Sure enough, the eastbound freight draws night behind it like a rough blanket over the land, a sky that catches and muffles its hoarse lament, holds it heavy and tenebrous within its midnight promises and vows of rain, all except for a western strip where earlier the sun dropped while we walked away—impossibly distant, a rarefied airless realm of crimson and gold, like blood and treasure. 

We are blood and treasure. Trash and pleasure.

No, we're worse than that, and better than that. 

The entire world trembles. For a moment, death's-head moths hold the fate of empires between their wings. The train gathers speed for a deep land trek while children are diced unlamented in alleyways and chickens burst like nebulae from rafters in a forgotten barn, dust motes and moths, stars and straw and strands of gold like the lustrous tresses of a fabled princess, cavalier, leaning from the window of her tower, her slender neck arched, waiting. Tempting the axes of ogres. 

Roxy fixes me with one of her eyeslit glares. "It's all your fault," she says, as jackbooted tyrants, charcoal-suited fascists with cruel smiles and flickering lashes, frogmarch us inland, indifferent to our renewed seaward yearnings, while amid the descending darkness great fat raindrops play free jazz over the thirsty fields, syncopated and toxic, and we pretend not to cry with terror as funnel clouds gather and we're mocked and jabbed by soldiers demob-giddy and lustful with the very last war's end, knowing they'll show us no mercy once the touchpaper's lit. 

"You're right. It is. My fault, I mean." 

"Yeah, well, checkout time's come early, my darlin'." 

And she reaches for my hand and won't ever let go. Sleep be goddamned.