Fortress of Solitude by Christopher DeWan

February 11, 2013 Comments Off on Fortress of Solitude by Christopher DeWan

It was another routine day in Metropolis for Superman, the day he saved the single-engine jet from crashing into the city. The plane had lost power to its stabilizer and gone into a flat spin from which it surely never would have recovered, had Superman not flown in to save the day. The Man of Steel managed to grab the plane by its engine, arrest its spinning, and guide it to a safe landing in a nearby baseball field. The four passengers of the plane were grateful and in tears, while the Little Leaguers stopped their game to cheer.

Unfortunately, the force required to catch the plane in mid-air was also enough to dislodge the jet turbine, which broke loose from the body of the plane, and plummeted out of the sky into an apartment building below. It tore through the building and killed two dozen people.

Superman, exceptional in so many ways, had never been the most thoughtful of Heros: decision-making while flying faster than a speeding bullet does not lend itself to introspection. Good and evil had always been for him, if simplistic, at least clear. When he received the news of the two dozen deaths — deaths which had been directly caused by his own well-intended efforts — he was devastated, and confused like he had never been before.

For the first time in his life, Superman questioned his own ability to discern right from wrong, so he did what any reasonable thinking person would do in such a situation: he stopped rescuing people, and retreated to his Fortress of Solitude, there to wait and contemplate, until which time, his path of action would become infallibly clear, which is to say — never.

© 2012 Christopher DeWan

Christopher DeWan is a writer and teacher living in Los Angeles.

It Was Never Just About The Blue … or The Crappy Fondue by N. C. Taylor

February 7, 2013 Comments Off on It Was Never Just About The Blue … or The Crappy Fondue by N. C. Taylor

For some, it’s marijuana, heroin, or cocaine.  For me it’s a very mature Gouda, or a strong Parmesan. A Roquefort or Asiago will get my head buzzing, but something more blue-veined like a Gorgonzola or a Stilton will bring on the burning: enough of it will have my head light and my dreams vivid.

If it’s not the Lactose intolerance, then it’s the allergy to Penicillin. If I mix my drug of choice the right way, I can experience different effects simultaneously. The hues of purple and orange, the sensitivity to light, the haze around the edges, and the thumping at the front of my skull all remind me of the power cheese has over my mind.

Up to now, my body has suffered only minor indigestion and a little nausea, but I’ve found with enough consumption, I can induce heartburn and cramping. With the right combination, I can cause rashes and inflammation of the lungs. In one adventurous session with a particularly old, moldy Romano, I managed chest pains, followed by vomiting.

Everything is bland to my palate without cheese to accompany it. Other foods are merely additives to add a little variation, but the cheese is always the predominant ingredient, in the starters, the main courses, and the desserts.

I like the smell on my fingers. If it came as cologne, I’d buy it. If it came as a perfume, I’d be tempted by it. I don’t know why they make bacon smelling candles and soap when there is the far preferable aroma of a good Limburger. Others with less developed olfactory nerves may complain, but it’s their loss.

Some say cheese came about by accident. Whatever the process, I can’t imagine its origins as anything but divine. Heaven handed down cheese in the form of manna to the wandering Israelites, and they survived forty years on it. It is the complete meal.

I am almost to my ultimate goal. I’ve been saving and planning, trying to find some way to bring about my greatest cheese-filled fantasy, and it won’t be long now before it will be fulfilled. Soon my special delivery will arrive.

In Italy, they make a cheese that’s illegal to sell or consume there. It’s called Casu Marzu, and is the envy of us mold lovers worldwide. It is made by drilling holes into lamb’s milk cheese and filling those holes with a special kind of maggot. When the thousands of eggs hatch, an enzyme is produced that creates a dance upon the taste buds beyond compare. It might kill me to eat it, but what other pleasure in life worth indulging could be better than that?

© 2012 N. C. Taylor

When not busy saving computer servers from malevolent programmers hell bent on their destruction, N. C. Taylor likes to imagine even still weirder worlds, and tries to put them into words to share with others. Although a native of the British Isles, he now spends most of his time in the American desert, pining for the green rolling hills of home, but not often missing the rain. This his first published piece of flash fiction.

The Wired Wilderness by Tim Sullivan

February 4, 2013 Comments Off on The Wired Wilderness by Tim Sullivan

Out in the woods, something is hiding behind every tree and in every shady hollow. I don’t know what it is, but it’s there. I feel it each time I step into the woods. It’s the same in any forest of sufficient size and wildness; just hidden from my eyes is something wonderful and strange, something indescribable and sublime that we know of only through old stories and whispers. 

Today, I can sense it right away, as always. After following a trail cut through an unfamiliar expanse of forest, I veer from the path and enter the true woods. The mystical and sublime seldom loiter near established trails. Soon, I am deep in cosmopolitan forest. A street market of birds and playful squirrels shout and scream and sing to each other all around me. 

Slowly, I become aware that below the chaotic refrain is another song, more ordered than the first. Pausing, I listen intently. It’s music . . . actual music! I can discern a violin gently sawing off to my left, a flute before me, and a clarinet behind my right shoulder. The instruments seem to flow together in an arrangement I’ve never heard before. I cannot see the players; they seem just out of sight. 

Voices, beautiful and high, begin to sing out all around me. Whether belonging to women or children I cannot tell. They pronounce no words, but rather natural sound spills from them. I am mesmerized, rooted to the ground by this smooth and enthralling melody. It’s like nothing I’ve heard before, more an expression of the forest than music. I feel as though I’m in a movie and can hear the backing score. The animals, however, have taken little notice and continue their own raucous verse.  

I want to find and thank the musicians for these few moments of wonder. I start towards some of the voices and after several hundred feet see no one, the music continues but the instruments and singers have moved, swirled around me. Running now, I attempt to find the hidden fiddler. No one. A full sprint and the music sounds at the same distance as before. Are they are moving and playing at once? I dart around in a mad attempt to catch sight of one of them, any of them. I fail to find them or to notice the up-turned root, which catches my foot, though I briefly see the tree trunk as my head flies towards it. 

When next I awake, the sun is setting. The animal song continues: a different tune but still the same song. My forehead throbs horribly. In the distance, I hear that mystical song. It is fading away; the unknown nymphs or satyrs or indie performance artists have wandered off and left me. But, as I stare at the tree trunk, I notice a small hole indented by my head. Inside, adeptly hidden and adroitly camouflaged, hides a tiny, now broken, loudspeaker. 

© Tim Sullivan 

Tim recently graduated college with a fancy degree in business administration and has spent most of his time since desperately attempting to find employment in that vein. A dearth of success has led him to start writing flash fiction in between sending out resumes. He also has a cat.

Road Hazard by Justin Langford

January 31, 2013 Comments Off on Road Hazard by Justin Langford

As this rinky-dink car stopped and started through the bustling streets of various townships on the way to downtown Chicago, I could taste the chalky residue of enamel flaking loose from my back molars, crunching like ice cubes in a blender, syncopating with the squeaky brakes of the asshole in front of us (yes, US, the girlfriend and I, pushing the daylight between the treetops behind us). The rattling of the control arm in our car’s front axle was bleating out Morse code to the unobservant travelers beside us: “Watch out, asshole!” “Geh outta here wid dat!” “Hey y-y-y-you nitwit!” I screamed; my wet tongue slashed at aspirations and beheaded every driver as our hot rod cut through the streets like a plastic knife through a brick.

Suddenly, I noticed a fancy upsurge of dandelion dust in the distance. As cars passed by it, little tufts of fluff twirled and danced like dreamtime cotton caught in a wild whirlwind. As I approached, I saw a misplaced bump in the road. It blended in with the asphalt: that dank tar color we paint our commute with. Fresh blood was weeping from this hump and hot chunks of simmering meat glistened in the sun. From the lump, a wing flopped carelessly at the passing cars: their undersides getting a feather-dusting for not running it over. As both driver-side wheels thumped over the road’s contusion, I wondered if its beak was wedged between the tread. “Ew,” my girlfriend moaned, detached from the clump’s fate. Then the back windshield erupted with an explosion of bright confetti, pirouetting around the slinking sunset.

© Justin Langford

Justin Langford is an English tutor at a community college and resides in Elgin, Illinois.

‘Risotto by Peter McMillan

January 28, 2013 Comments Off on ‘Risotto by Peter McMillan

I dreamt us again last night … Otto and me. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary that we were sitting at the back of a crowded airplane. The pilot had just announced that we would be landing in a few minutes. I heard myself calling, Where’s Otto? ‘RisOtto, here boy, to get him to come and lie down. Otto was enjoying the attentions of a chubby young boy and his anemic older sister a couple of rows in front. He never passed up a chance to be noticed and appreciated, and that’s why he wasn’t listening to me.

As I reached out to grab him by the collar in order to pull him over to me, the collar slipped over his head, and he was sucked out the door at the back of the plane. Strange. It didn’t even occur to me at the time to wonder why the door was wide open. I watched myself hesitate, then jump out the door, and then improbably land right beside him.           

Gathered up in my arms, he didn’t feel so heavy anymore. He lay motionless, until he began gurgling and coughing ― not blood but water. In no time, I saw us limping across the runway past the cargo handlers and maintenance workers who mostly cheered; though some wagged their fingers or shouted mean things. Inside the terminal, we quickly became invisible in the waves of arrivals and departures.           

Long, diagonal corridors, bounded on both sides by small, colourful shops selling newspapers and magazines, laptops and plasma TVs, souvenir shirts, fashion gowns, books, and sofas connected the terminal’s multilayered sections. None of this appeared odd ― just incidental. As I watched us moving through the busyness, it seemed that everything around us had been staged.           

Once outside in a nearby wooded park, a dozen or more happy, playful dogs greeted Otto and me. He was back in his world ― back where he was meant to be ― and I looked so very happy that he was happy, again. He ran fast and hard, wearing his big, goofy dog smile as he led the pack round and round the park. He ran so fast, I couldn’t even tell that he was running on only three legs.           

Then, darkness came quickly and caught me by surprise. Otto had disappeared down a square spiral of concrete steps, which led to a deep tunnel under the freeway. I heard ‘Risotto! being called down into the tunnel. I heard ‘Risotto! ‘Risotto! echoing back from the emptiness below, and again, I would relive not finding Otto. 

© 2012 Peter McMillan 

The author is a freelance writer and ESL instructor who lives on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario with his wife and two flat-coated retrievers. In 2012, he published his first book: Flash! Fiction.

Breaking Dawn by Meghan Barnes

January 24, 2013 Comments Off on Breaking Dawn by Meghan Barnes

This is where he died, she says to me and points to the damp pavement. Her hair is wet, and slicked against her neck. The humidity is making everything engulf her. The sleep shorts I bought her last July are loose on her now, but between the rain and her own nervous perspiring they stick in the crevice just below her hip bone. I wonder if she knows I think she’s beautiful when she’s sad. If she knows, I sometimes miss that look more than her smile.

Tommy was thrown over there. She points to the place where a large Oak used to stand. I nod. I do not know these people, but I listen to the story she has told me many times. I listen hoping this will be the last.

She’s crouching now. Tracing invisible lines over the pavement. Her legs are wobbly, and I wonder how much longer she will be able to hold herself like that. I walk over and stand beside her. I know I should tell her that it will be all right, that she will accept it one day. But she has visited this spot every year for too long now, and I don’t know that I can tell her something that I don’t think is true.

Do you believe in heaven? she asks. I want to tell her that I believe in her. In the art she is able to create out of her sadness. In the strength it must have taken for her to step back into everyday life after losing the person she called her soul-one. That I don’t believe she will ever love anyone like she loved him. But I don’t. I simply mutter, No.

I feel my body brace itself as she pushes me. I don’t lose my balance, but come close and rock back onto the balls of my feet. She comes towards me again. This time aiming at my face. Dragging her nails across it. I can feel the cold sweat of her hands stinging the scratches as she reaches for me again. What are you doing, I yell. Have you gone mad? She looks as if she’s come back to consciousness after a long night of drinking, not quite sure of where she is, or what she’s doing.

Her eyes sparkle with the sweat dripping off her brow. I want to tell her that she’s beautiful, and that I don’t blame her. That I’d want something to believe in too. But I watch as she walks back to the spot, and begins tracing invisible lines on the concrete, occasionally looking towards the place where the Oak tree used to stand. I watch as she falls back into that trance of who she was supposed to be. And without questioning why, I sit and watch her until the dawn fades away the lines of another year.

© Meghan Barnes

Her Feels by Matthew Robinson

January 21, 2013 Comments Off on Her Feels by Matthew Robinson

She holds it up. She brings it down. It’s so goddamn shiny.           

I’m just trying to eat my breakfast.           

It isn’t sharp though; sharpness implies an intended result. My sister? She lacks intent. She’s all action. Well, action and feeling. When she was small, she used to call her feelings her feels. People would ask how she was, and she’d say, “My feels are good, thank you,” or, “My feels are sad.”           

So she’s holding a butter knife, and she brings it down. Skin gives but doesn’t break. It’s dull and shiny, the knife, and her feels are sad. The knife has those shitty teeth like it might belong to the serrated-knife family, but really it just gnaws impotently at crusts of bread, pads of butter, and my baby sister’s too-tight skin.           

I’m buttering my fucking toast.           

Earlier, years before, we shared a room. Just kids lying in our bunk beds. ‘I hate my body,’ she’d say, ‘it doesn’t fit.’ 

‘That’s stupid,’ I’d say, and she’d tell me I was stupid. Then later she’d say, ‘Maybe it’s me that doesn’t fit.’ 

The knife in my hand is greasy. I bite bread, and it crunches, dull with fat. 

When Dad sees the bruises left by her hard work, he holds her hands and kisses the insides of her arms. They’re wet when he lifts his face. Somebody asks, ‘Why?’ but I don’t know who. 

Mom’s arms are folded akimbo, and her face is gray stone. She doesn’t kiss my sister. She stands miles away. Watching. Shaking a little. Dad looks to her. My sister looks to the floor. ‘Go to your room,’ Mom says. 

I drag my greasy knife across more toast, spreading jam, dragging red. Some falls to the table. I leave it. My stomach aches. 

Later, I’ll ask my sister, ‘Why?’ 

‘Why what?’ she’ll say.

‘The thing with the butter knife,’ I’ll say. 

My sister, she’s peach-colored with brown hair and eyes. Her smile is soft, except she doesn’t smile anymore. ‘Just testing,’ she’ll say.

I think she means our parents — that she’s testing our parents. 

My bread is mangled; my hand is red and sticky. I put down the knife, and it rattles in my shaky hand against the plate — quiet, like a family secret. 

She holds it up. She brings it down. It’s so goddamn shiny… 

And it’s sharp now. She’s cutting lengthwise. Something is still wrong. Her everyday still hurts. Dad is still crying, Mom is still miles away. My baby sister’s found intention, and it’s spilling out now, all over the goddamn the floor. 

I’m just trying to eat my breakfast. 

© 2012 Matthew Robinson 

Matthew Robinson lives and writes in Portland, OR. Sometimes he studies at Oregon State University, so someday his list can read: lives, writes, and works.

Worlds We Wanted This World to Be by Jesse Eagle

January 17, 2013 Comments Off on Worlds We Wanted This World to Be by Jesse Eagle

My sister and I would go under the sheets together and imagine worlds we wanted this world to be. In my sister’s worlds, all the buildings came down. There were shards of broken glass from blown out windows all over the street and small splinters of twisted metal spinning in the wind. She imagined the metal got stuck in the corners of businessmen’s eyes, slicing them open, that inside, black stuff dripped down their cheeks. In her worlds, the oceans were always red. There were whales with vulture heads, whales with long black bodies and plastic tails. There were guns with infrared scopes pointed at the heads of people while they watched TV in their apartments. Under the sheets, my sister took my hand and slid it under her shirt while whispering, her bare foot moving up my leg. She turned to her side and told me to put my arm around her, and I did, and then she arched her back and dipped her body into the curve of mine and together we fell asleep, our foster mother up late vacuuming again, the sound of sucked up dirt coming through our locked bedroom door. 

© Jesse Eagle 

Jesse Eagle is the Editor-In-Chief as DOGZPLOT Flash Fiction. His work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, and Midwestern Gothic. He lives in Chicago and attends Northwestern University.

Howard Meets a Border Collie by Joseph Plasan

January 14, 2013 Comments Off on Howard Meets a Border Collie by Joseph Plasan

One soap tick mark,
One more soap tick mark,
another soap tick mark…   

A soggy brown popcorn bag, shoved in through the metal slot, marked Christmas for Howard and fell atop his head in the midst of making his first prayer in fifteen years. The slot closed with a loud clang, but after all that time, Howard had learned to hold his ears shut.    

One soap tick mark,
One more soap tick mark,
Another soap tick mark…

Howard’s mirror was filled with the tallies of days past. Soon he would no longer be able to see himself and would give up completely. Everyone in the other broom closets seemed to speak their own different languages, mostly muffled low-pitched tones. You could hear the echoes down the hallway, young men and old men posing as young men, screaming and taunting one another.     

After three more days in unit #2, he would finally take the offer to be transported to the parking lot, and it was in this concrete cubicle that Howard made the acquaintance of a border collie named Lee. The two of them would share a brick wall for quite some time. They had heard each other’s moans in solitary for weeks without knowing it. Howard wiped off his mirror and began again, trying to remember the number ‘32’ in his head.

One soap tick mark,
One more soap tick mark,
Another soap tick mark…

The Border collie informed Howard that he had signed a similar contract, then a bunch of ghosts armed with Berettas  dressed him in funny hats and ornaments and made him dance. The dog spontaneously combusted on his 47th day in the closet, a series of violent yelps and a boom were overheard by Howard on that day. The ghosts passed by Howard’s cell door as usual, their pistols and boots had seemed a little shinier than the day before.

One soap tick mark,
One more soap tick mark,
Another soap tick mark…

Howard sat holding a bowl of pork bits in watery grits. He stared blankly at the wall. His uniform had turned yellow. The smell was despicable. Many men had been in Howard’s situation before, and there where sure to be many more to come.

One soap tick mark,
One more soap tick mark,
Another soap tick mark…

“Two years down and only two to go!”Howard thought. “At least I have this funny hat.”

© 2012 Joseph Plasan 

Joseph Plasan is younger than most writers. He is currently in the process of editing his first full length novel while he and his best friend eagerly await a long Pennsylvania winter and a spanking-new baby boy.

Mountain Lake by Jake Rawdin

January 10, 2013 Comments Off on Mountain Lake by Jake Rawdin

At the base of the mountain, they told him about a lake. They told him it was beautiful. They told him that if he didn’t find something there he wasn’t looking.    

So he drove the mountain road. They didn’t tell him it was closed. He saw it winding up the side, switchbacking into clouds. He saw a gate that said Road Closed for Winter. But the road itself was clear. There was snow, but it hadn’t stuck to the pavement. He parked the car in front of the gate. He put on his boots. He filled a pack with a flashlight, lighter, extra socks. He took a knife.    

The snow crunched as he stepped off the road, and he looked back. The car would be all right. No one was coming. No one could come. That was good.    

He followed the road up, and the clouds followed it down. Where they met, it was fog. It was thick, so he went on the road. The pavement had less give than the ground, and in the cold, the steps shook his knees. But that was all right. He came down into the valley, and the fog became cloud. A ceiling.    

The lake was cold and still and green. The mountains rose and disappeared, and he was alone. There was nothing. He crushed a pebble underfoot, and the crack echoed. It went around the valley and up into the clouds. He wanted to shout, but instead, he hummed. It was a low note. It carried up. He sat and hummed again. He sat until it began to get dark. Then it was dark.

© 2012 Jake Rawdin

Jake Rawdin is 23 years old, born in Philadelphia. He runs a blog at www.flashfictionmosaic.wordpress.com

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