April 28, 2016 Comments Off on In a Lightning Storm, Sheep Run through Barbed Wire By Cheryl Anne Gardner
I used to fear things. The lonesome wind come through the clapboards. Dry hillsides rustling. My own skin in the summer heat.
Abandoned coal pits.
Pa said I was afraid of desolation. I didn’t know what he meant by that. How can you be afraid of something all around you been there since the day you were born? I used to. Fear. Hard. But hard is what we had … and the stink of sheep, goats, some cattle and horses. I’ve seen my sister kicked, bucked, and bloodied more often than I care to remember. Mud in her hair. Booze on her breath. Blue-blackened skin. Used. Useless. Pa used to do the castrations himself. He learned the old-time way and used to use these fucking rubber bands, but he eventually said that the old-time way wasn’t the right way anymore, that it took too long, would oftentimes get infected. He feared infections, like the one he said my sister had, so he set about teaching me the right way. I didn’t understand why we had to do it at all. It was bloody, and sometimes, the gonads were small, slippery like marbles, and you had to dig around in the sack with your fingers until you found the sinewy cord. Pa would say, “Keep digging,” and I’d cry and cry and cry because there was so much blood and I was afraid I’d never get it out from under my fingernails, but Pa would shush me and tell me that it’s good for them, and I’d ask why through a dirty fistful of tears while waiting for him to spit into the chicory and rub his chin for a spell before explaining, the way he does, that boys need it, makes them more polite. Something about hormones, he said. Maybe I was afraid of them, so I asked Ma about it while she was fixing the fried gonads for my supper plate, but she just shushed me too, wiped the grease on her apron, and said I was too young for talk about such things. I’m not too young. My breasts are coming in and I feel all funny. My sister said it’s normal.
Used to it.
I go to high school next year. My sister talks about it all the time. Says high school boys have the hormones too. I asked my sister if boys were like the horses and the cattle. She said no. That they were like the mules. I wondered if they stunk like them. She smiled at me and scratched at her crotch, so I told her I was afraid of getting kicked, like she always did, but she shushed me too and said not to worry …
Pa was teaching me the right way.
© 2014 Cheryl Anne Gardner – Previously Published @ Revolution John, December 2014.
Cheryl Anne Gardner is a hopeless dark romantic, lives in a haunted house, and often channels the spirits of Poe, Kafka, and de Sade. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her writing has been described as “beautifully grotesque,” her characters “deliciously disturbed.” Her short fiction has been published in dozens of journals including Dustbin, Hobo Pancakes, Metazen, Pure Slush, Synaesthesia, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others, and she is currently Head Fiction Editor here at A&A. http://twistedknickerspublications.wordpress,com
April 25, 2016 Comments Off on Festivity By Veronica McDonald
Mama said not to bite the ornament, but I bit it anyway. I liked the way it flashed under the warm white lights like a sparkling, red jewel. I didn’t want to eat it, or even taste it. I only wanted the beauty of it inside me, where no one could get at it. It crunched under my teeth, shattering into a million glittering jewels, falling down my chin with splatters of drool and droplets of mouth-blood. I tried to spit it out, but it was too late; it was in between my teeth, carved into my gums, glitter spread all along my tongue. Shards of red and silver covered the fibers of my sweater, weaving themselves into the wool. Shining glass stuck into the skin of my cheeks and chin. I tried to get Mama’s attention as she fussed with the tinsel, but my speech was lost in a cloud of red sparkles bursting out of my mouth and floating around me. I got lost in the halo of my words, touchable, and full of Christmas, until Pop walked in and handed me a gold ornament without looking my way and told me to “Keep it out yer mouth,” as he walked over to fuss at the tinsel with Mama. I watched the gold glisten under those white lights and didn’t want to taste it, but felt the shards explode around me and in me, my body pulsing and shredding with beauty.
© 2016 Veronica McDonald
Veronica McDonald lives in San Diego with her husband, two toddlers, and two black cats. She received her MA in Literature from American University. Her longer fiction can be found in Beorh Weekly and Scrutiny. Check her out on her website: http://veronicamcd.wix.com/veronicamcdonald
April 21, 2016 Comments Off on Unquiet Moonlight By Matt Thompson
A cactus had begun to push its way through the floorboards in my kitchen. I let it. It’s not my business to play God, to anoint myself the master of life and death. Even after I stepped on the thing and one of its spines punctured a medium-sized hole into the sole of my foot, I stuck to my guns, figuring that the accident had been my fault anyway. Should have looked where I was going, eh?
The wound began to fester. Before long, a bulbous, pustulent growth appeared midway between my arches and my toes that wept tangerine-yellow liquid onto my bedsheets at night. It hurt like a bastard, but somehow it would have seemed like a betrayal of my principles to seek treatment.
So I did my best to ignore it.
The cactus, meanwhile, grew so fast you could almost see it move. By the time it had become almost impossible for me to walk properly, it had managed to worm its way right through the floor, splintering the wooden slats as if they weren’t even there. I was forced to edge my way around it to get to the cooker. Soon I didn’t bother anymore and just ate cold baked beans straight from the tin. It didn’t seem to affect my pustule’s growth one way or the other, and the stodgy feel of the beans in my throat soothed the pain in my legs somewhat.
By then, the first spikes were protruding from my sole, more of them visible every time I remembered to look. Walking was out of the question, so I just sat in my chair all day, crawling out to the porch once a week to pick up the package left by the supermarket delivery guys. God knows what they thought as the cactus had worked its way through a few of the kitchen windows and had started to head streetwards, attracting bats on a nightly basis for, I supposed, the purposes of pollination.
Nowadays my feet and legs are more spine than skin. It’s not a problem. I don’t need to drink fluids any more, for one thing. I just take in moisture from the air and sit in my chair, dreaming of the prairie wind whistling through my arms as I suck in the light from the moon.
From my chair by the window I can see some of the other houses on my street. They all seem to have cacti poking out of their windows now, too. There’s only so much moonlight, and I’m not inclined to share it around if I can possibly help it. They can find their own sustenance, as far as I’m concerned.
© 2016 Matt Thompson
Matt Thompson is a London-based writer of oddball fantastical fiction: short stories, flash fiction, comics scripts, poetry, and the occasional novel. He has also, over the course of the last couple of decades, released a slew of records as a member of the musical acts Zoltan, Rashomon and Cremator. Nowadays he is endeavouring to follow Ray Bradbury’s advice of writing a story every week; to date, this has been adhered to in intention more than reality.
April 18, 2016 Comments Off on Avenue By Ray Scanlon
The city concrete curates an unremitting din:
At the plaza, I strain yet fail to hear a sibilant bicycle tire and the clicks of the ratcheting freewheel—drowned out. On the other hand, the canyons channel a changing wind. I absorb olfactory calories from pizza, tandoori, and Zagat-rated Thai one minute, ocean salt and low tide the next.
© 2016 Ray Scanlon
Ray Scanlon. Massachusetts boy. Lucky to be above ground, lucky to have grandchildren. No MFA. No novel. No extrovert. Not averse to litotes. Twitter: @oldmanscanlon. On the web: http://read.oldmanscanlon.com
April 14, 2016 Comments Off on Barbie Behind Bars By Allen Lang
The Corrections Officer unlocked the prisoner’s waist chain, handcuffs, and leg irons. “I always say, ‘if you can’t do the correction, don’t do the transgression’” He handed the prisoner a box then slammed the steel door on a cell that was as wide as the prisoner was tall, half again as long. It had a steel toilet and sink. The bunk was a concrete shelf. “Santa dropped one of these over the wall for each of you guys. ‘Solicitude for the Solitary’ the note said.”
The prisoner sat on the shelf and popped opened the top off the box. The doll looked up from the packing paper with those blue eyes. “Hi there!” it said, “This is so exciting! What’s your name?”
“Four Two Seven Eight Nine Six,” the prisoner said as he lifted her out of the box.
“That’s a pretty name. My name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Do you come here often?”
“Every time there’s a failure to communicate.”
“I just know we’re going to be great friends,” the doll said. “What would you like to talk about, Four Two Seven?”
“How about the inadequacy of the American criminal justice system with regard to fiscal irregularities in the international bond trade?”
The doll giggled. “Sounds fun. Tell me all about it, Four Two Seven.”
“Let’s us get settled in first, and then we’ll have a good long talk. Just you and me, Barbara Millicent Roberts.”
© 2015 Allen Lang
Allen Lang has been studying anthropology as an embedded observer since 1928. His first S-F story was published in the November, 1950, issue of PLANET STORIES, behind a cover that depicted a blue alien lusting over a dulcet Earth girl.
April 11, 2016 Comments Off on Spell of the Game By Zoltán Komor
I witnessed a pervert insulting a young girl on the bus. Opening his long, black trench coat, he showed the girl the puzzle box between his hairy legs.
“Solve it, you little bitch!” he hissed at her. The girl took it as a challenge and began to turn the sides of the magic cube. As the colors shifted, the guy moaned in pleasure. After a few minutes, he climaxed and then tried to button up his coat, but the girl was so lost in the game, she smacked the pervert on his hand and tore open his coat again. The other travelers got closer, giving advice to the girl on how to solve the puzzle. Then they joined in the game; taking turns, they each turned a side. As more and more hands began to touch him, the pervert started to look like he felt quite awkward. He told the travelers that he wanted to get off at the next stop, but no one was paying attention to him. As he tried to break through the passengers, they grabbed and threw him to the ground. A few people held down his arms and legs, and the game continued.
“God damn it, I almost got it!” yelled a middle-aged woman as she ripped the toy out from between the guy’s legs in anger.
After that, the puzzle box traveled from hand to hand. The rule was that everyone could turn the sides five times, and then he or she must pass it to another gamer. The bus driver almost solved it, but then a dumb teenage boy messed up all the colors. Later, the young girl even handed the toy to the pervert, hoping maybe he’d know how to finish the game, but he didn’t take it. He just lay there, bleeding, begging for an ambulance. He was wailing so much we couldn’t concentrate, so we threw him out at the next stop. Then we went back to the game.
© 2015 Zoltán Komor
Zoltán Komor is from Hungary and writes surreal short stories. He is published in Caliban Online, Thrice Fiction, The Phantom Drift, and Bizarro Central among others. His first book titled Flamingos in the Ashtray was just released by Burning Bulb Publishing.
First Appeared at Bizarro Central 2014/05/09
April 7, 2016 Comments Off on Skeletons By Kit Maude
X. announces that this year he will be giving everyone animal skeletons for Christmas. Mother X. will receive the skeleton of an expired Toucan, beak included. Father X. will get the skull and tusks of a sturdy walrus. Brother X. will have the inner frame of a sprightly macaque, while Sister X. will be able to observe the graceful workings of a barn owl, wings outstretched as though in flight. X. is very pleased with his choices, which involved much careful research, for animals symbolize many things and he thinks that he has successfully avoided any unwanted connotations while also finding a set of neat, sculptural gifts. Y., however, looks horrified at the announcement and urges him to rethink his medium. X. sighs and shakes his head. Once more he seems to have overlooked something crucial.
© 2015 Kit Maude
Kit Maude is a translator based in Buenos Aires.
April 4, 2016 Comments Off on The Collected Teachings of Ag Nom, Nong By Daniel Ableev
John was an avid reader of books that were inspired or authored by the so-called Ö factor. He met his first Ö book during his VBR years in Eitelkeitstabellen (under Frunkfart) and fell in love with its utter lack of properties. All of the Ö books he had encountered so far featured nothing at all. But there were rumours about a unique book, which had exactly 1 distinct property: its title My Remote-controlled Blue Banjo. The content of this book, however, was non-definable. There was no content, or at least nothing to write hÖme about. Moreover, the book did not have any length or width; neither did it outweigh Proust’s Recer nor Schmidt’s Zem.
There is a darker, more bizarre side to tomorrow, which we call yesterday. We even had to buy us into slavery once.
A bicycle bum (Hobo bicircularis) mated once with the cemetery workers, whose moronic views were highly contagious, and published a Giant WEWWEJ from the year 1952, i. e. a huge pool of shush. Claude’s false clone, on the other hand, was a form so seldom that there is no mention of it in the Russian Dwarf’s Journeaux, a periodical about rat devouring or swallow threatening.
We’ve been trying to have a book about an anatomical peculiarity (Ö) for quite some time now, but the doctor said that I can’t get pregnant. Personally, I was pretty sure that he said that I can’t get enough, which is a somewhat rude thing to say. Anyway, this book (Ö) is about a boy, a girl (friend of boy), a father (father of boy), a spirit (spirit of boy), a mind (mind of boy), a ghost (ghost of boy), a geist (geist of boy), a phantom (phantom of boy), a doctor (doctor of boy), an old lady (an elderly woman of boy), and about Ö (Ö).
© 2015 Daniel Ableev
Daniel Ableev, *1981 in Novosibirsk, Russia, is a certified strangeologist from Bonn, Germany; he has studied law and comparative literature, writes for the metal magazine “Legacy,” composes avantsounds for “Freuynde + Gaesdte” and co-edits “DIE NOVELLE – Zeitschrift für Experimentelles;” publications in German & English, print & online (Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti, The Dream People, Alu etc.). www.wunderticker.com or www.wunderticker.de
March 31, 2016 Comments Off on The Face in the Tree By Helen Ganiy
I finger the thin meal of his presence, which holds the weight and influence of a key tied flintily to the rafters. Even now, his dusky footprints leave a hue, a drag of smoke, as though the physical atmosphere of his wounds is still pungating here. Late robins crack apart the window frame and he yellow-eyes the tallgrass, the shapeless autos. Each of the robins has a seed in its mouth, which they knock on the powdery sidings where he stands, reaching marrow-dark arms deep inside a coat that swings, web-like, with a kick of the heel or a turn of the torso. Now a woman passes through the field. She holds her shoulders in two reedy hands, flip-booking through the chancy grass that is high, low, the weed sap wetting her ankles. I am standing, always, in the darker corner of the barrel room, back from the deep reaching sun bars that come down hard on a rat scat and cinder floor. I reach for the things in my pocket and there is an emptiness that is not real, a sensation of having plunged my hand beneath a cold seabed. The woman splits down to a blot of color, then a beat of movement, then nothing. The field stands empty.
His chin is down against his chest now and I think there is more here than the feeling of he and I having missed something. The rocks I throw and the flowers I squelch all rush over my fingers and it is, as always, the sand at the bottom of the sea, the feather at the bottom of the pond, a coldness that seeps and is wet. There is little left for me to touch, yet I find the rusty blade and I see him, by the window, flinching. This is something he knows, he remembers. He searches the field for another passerby, but a diffused sun is sinking, a breathy gray settles, and the barrel room is dark. A thread runs between us and we do not need fire or food or a hand, and so, we observe the astronomical passage of time at separate ends of an enormous room. Yet he is throbbing while I disintegrate. His spirit undulates as mine recedes. His purples and cedars are sediment that coats the hand and chokes the air. This room is his, and I stay.
Yet our sigh is collective, a shaking of wings and cracking of beams, a bark, a shuffle. Sidling up against the domed waking world, we are the curiosity in a bird’s eye, the face in the tree. We are a mere warble beneath the mild roll of petals through the field.
© 2015 Helen Ganiy
Helen Ganiy lives in Santa Rosa, CA, and is a graduate of Sonoma State University. She has completed work on her first novel, Women in the Down, and has been selected to serve as assistant editor on Fearless Books upcoming poetry anthology titled Turning the Page. Her work has been featured in Crack the Spine magazine.
March 28, 2016 Comments Off on Underwater By Mikhail Revlock
Her dad looked like a soggy hat.
It was raining outside, she was standing at the door, and the hat was going into the water. She was wearing pajamas, but she looked like a plaid jumper. Her dad glanced back at her as he went into the water, and the hat in the rain made him look like a waterfall.
The old people across the street were sitting on their porch. They looked like knitting needles and finance sections. They watched the water and the soggy hat. They passed judgments. They saw it coming, him going. They heard his car screech into the driveway at night, saw his face in the morning when he looked like a sick liver.
Her mom came up from behind, put a hand on her shoulder. Mom looked like a pickle jar, and she squeezed so hard it hurt. She closed the door to the hat as he went deeper into the water, then she broke free of the pickle jar’s grip and went to watch the hat through the living room window. The pickle jar followed her to the window. She ran a wet hand through her hair, and the hat kept shrinking until it disappeared.
The knitting needles took the sweater inside. The finance sections rustled in the wind. The plaid jumper remained by the window, seaweed still tangled in her hair.
Later, the pickle jar unscrewed her lid.
© 2015 Mikhail Revlock
Mikhail Revlock lives and writes in Philadelphia. His fiction has been published in Buffalo Almanack. He also writes film reviews for Tinsel & Tine. Find him at http://www.mikhailrevlock.com