Categories
David Sprehe

END

Molten sea. Black crust pieces float close together bumping and shifting atop the liquid fire. The pieces stretch in endless procession toward the distance. Sky is solid, lumpy pink and cut with trenches. I am here with my dog. A yellow retriever dog. His name is CHRIST. We hop from crust piece to crust piece. CHRIST barks at purple spark bats dancing around the lumpy pink sky surface. Fortunately, CHRIST’s suit is on silent. Spark bats eat sounds. We hardly make any noise because of the dampeners. Almost sentient circuitry. I think of them as a set above pets.

SHIT. Christ turned off his mute system. How? Why? Stupid dog!

I strike his helmet with my lance, a totally cool technological device I honestly do not understand. This strike gives him a seizure and I feel like an asshole. Luckily we are in the middle of a large chunk of floating crust. CHRIST’s suit is special designed to take care of him. He has had seizures ever since he ate rat poison. I light up the lance device, so hooked into my mind it does things before I know it and leap straight up. 

Bats are taken down. 

Absorbed into antennas. 

Lightning appears from the pink living sky. Soon I’m arched. The light is seemingly alive, plantlike. Crawls like root tendrils uncomfortably quickly to my body. CHRIST bites my boot and dangles there. Light webs over me like a cocoon. CHRIST gets it too. My body crumples somewhere all the way and I am sucked in a tight gooey space kicking and screaming. I claw at the wall. CHRIST goes nuts crawls up me. The walls attack back with little sprouted pink irritant wiggle arms. 

I laugh because they tickle me. 

I poke the wall as hard as I can and push harder. CHRIST is biting around it like a vicious beast. I got to punch him several times because he bit me. Finally, we tear a slit through and roll out dissolving into ink suspended in tight wall capsule where my endings rooted. The roots had spread and covered the entirety of the capsule’s surface and grew outward. The living wall shifts where cradles me. Numb tingle worms slither through my body. The tingle worms turn soggy and bleed into my roots. New worms birth from eggs feels like balls of warm oil bursting over my skin. Growing bursting over me bursting growing all over me. Warm glow numb tingle cycle never ending. Over time gravity stretched the roots of upper body. I could lean forward and look around. I was in a long hallway. The walls were living tissue. 

I cannot tell if it was all my roots. 

Or something else’s. 

After a longer period of time I was able to stretch the roots further to where I could sit and dangle my legs off the side of the wall capsule’s base. Soon I stood on my own and touched the living tissue floor. I snapped my roots, then shriveled and nearly dry, but still thick with meat. Tasted good. Very good. I ate a few pieces more and broke the rest of the dying roots into sections intending to eat later. I cut my pointed fingernails into the pink living floor tissue intending to make a satchel, but the pink living tissue actually tastes ok, so I ate several more root sticks and grabbed two fistfuls to take with. Walked the hallway for what felt an eternity gnawing on root stick and stopping periodically to take a runny spatter shit. I noted, nibbling on pink living floor to quiet my stomach, that this was my shit stain. It was hardly present, a slight discoloration, but I could tell I was walking in a circle. 

“Damn,” I said and laid back against the living pink wall. I pulled petals from a small yellow flower in my hand and flicked the petals at the opposite wall. But they floated in a breeze which carried them off a ways into the grass. Tired, I chose to remain lying against a tree. There was sunlight blue sky clouds and tall grass swaying. There was a creek close by, I could feel it. Bugs crawled over my brown skin. Some even crawled in my long straight black hair. I rolled onto my hands and knees bugs so many bugs over me. Bugs crawled in my mouth and my nose and ears. Bugs crawled in my pee hole. Thickest they swarmed at my ass. Heavy shifting masses crawled into my butthole. I couldn’t even shit them, they would simply flow deeper clumped and fluid at the same time. I coughed until I puked. Cut a slit in my stomach. Black goop slopped out. I pulled out everything guts and all and cleaned it real good. Most of the bugs died after this, curling up in defeat. But those that didn’t and I reached an agreement in that they will animate me and I’ll let them live. Empty of guts, a hollow shell of flesh and skin and bone and crawling with bugs, I started off. I needed to find CHRIST. 

/// 

CHRIST this time was a chicken. A man in a chicken suit at work a chicken in a man suit off hours. Didn’t matter. He was his own man chicken owning a chain of very successful Cluck-Cluck electronic liquor stores. Yes, CHRIST was the one in the sexy Chicka-Cluck-Cluck suit on the late-night commercials. CHRIST was no coward. He knew who to pay and when. He kicked back on his couch and lit a cigarette. 

“What’s the plan, man?” he said into his handheld computer. 

JoJo Bunny picked her nose. “I’m not a man.”

“Hmph,” CHRIST said. 

“The plan is as follows. I am pregnant. Look here,” she gestures to her belly and it bursts open. Several electric blue fish creatures wiggle from her spinal cord. The fish stare at CHRIST flipping their heads back and forth. CHRIST’s tongue slithers forth and forks. The nubs wiggle and greet the fish then hang up and start sending video chat requests to everybody in the pocket computer contact lists. 

///

This place is familiar to me and because of that I am apprehensive because I have never seen anything like it before. Houses. A street. I am in a neighborhood. I was once alive and now am alive again. But not all is stable. Even my basic feeling balks at the sight of these inhabitants. All of their tongues have branched into bushes and remain outside the face always wiggling their nubs at a pocket computer. I approach a small one and capture it. I escape to the woods and rip the tongue out of the face. The bugs feast on the tongue then turn to the body and harvest it for my own resources. I look at the pocket computer. The pocket computer is on a video link with two other tongue bushes. The tongue bushes wiggle grotesquely. I close the application and demand most recent news. I look at the news and see an advertisement. The advertisement is for Cluck-Cluck liquor stores. On it is a sexy chicken. I know this chicken. This chicken touches a deep part of my soul.   

///   

“The tongues have formed a hive mind,” CHRIST said. “They communicate by wiggling in front of the pocket computer camera.” 

“How were you cured?” I asked.

CHRIST shrugged. “I just wanted to be is all.”

“Took your time with it,” I said.

“Blow off,” CHRIST said, “how am I supposed to know what I know when I know everything?”

“What is this place?” I pulled a book from CHRIST’s bookshelf. The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin. I flipped through the pages and then put it on the coffee table because I did not understand how to read it. I looked at CHRIST and waited for his answer. 

“Beats me,” CHRIST said. He took a sip of canned beer and rubbed his forehead with the hand which also held a cigarette. “I felt like I’ve been here my whole life until this tongue garbage.”

I nodded. “This is not the place.”

“What do we do?” 

I shrugged. “Destroy it, I suppose. Or kill ourselves.”

“I feel like we should kill ourselves. But because of that. Because of this. Let’s do option one.”

“It does feel wrong,” I said. “Which means we certainly don’t do it that often.”

“Yeah!” CHRIST said getting up. He was happy and excited. “I don’t remember ever doing it. We gotta do it once. It’d be bad not too.”

Since the bugs had ate of the tongue directly they had deduced and could reproduce the patterns by which the tongues communicated. By keeping in contact with them through the pocket computer we were able to mask our true whereabouts. The bugs also established communications with other species of insect and was able to convert them into a hive with I at the center. This hive grew exponentially quickly and I felt myself melting like ice in springtime light. DESTROY OFFPLANET UNITE I projected what these meant to me into the accepting coding atmosphere developing as the hive grew. 

I turned to CHRIST. “I know what to do.”

“Where do you want me, chief?” CHRIST said.

He was swarmed with cockroaches and he tripped on the coffee table and fell over. I knelt beside him. I leaned in close and bit the side of his lips. CHRIST screamed. I ate his cheek and rubbed my fingers along his teeth letting my bug babies find something to eat. I consumed CHRIST in his entirety. 

///

Rain water. Upon me. Like a puddle. Puddle in a field of green sprouted wheat. Giant pigs trample upon the shoots. The pigs are proud and have great tusks. Upon the pigs are friendly insects who clean the pig and maintain its systems. Among the pigs there is a leader called King Philip. King Philip crumbles as if made of stone. These pig flesh rocks tumble into puddles. The vibrations make me whole. It appears I am the planet Earth’s moon Moon. Every particle of the Earth’s moon Moon was highly advanced technology waiting to be imprinted with personality. It had lain unused for trillions of years. I en-unfolded and found myself among the star systems. Whole galaxies spiraled toward and collided along my body like warm water sloshing in glass milk bottle. I was endless slithering things and rotting fruit. I managed to move my limbs and swim dragging all else behind me taking it into my body so I grew larger. I stretched so long my top point thinned until it was unit. All else followed slowly behind me colliding and merging with unit, condensing to unit size. When all was in unit unit quivered popped and popped again. END.

///

David Sprehe types in soilus.

Categories
Evan Isoline

PISS ALL SUNS

Fuck the facts, there’s no romance in a parabola. You win.

Imprison me, you slime; ratchet up those hiccups / right and wrong 

Are dual suppositories of proletarianism / and I’m all that’s left.

Adagio, Adagio: We are the offspring of a chokehold, and I will double the carbon.

But the white-out is because of my love! Fuck the white-out.

/

Bubble, calm down, quiet the churn, covet the target off my gauge.

The meniscus of computational death is too black to fertilize my verge.

But what you did with your fingers, split me apart, infest me /

Go King. Step to the sum of the stars in the hairy shine / 

Gawker. Sub-Sumer Queen / jungle warps your schematics. /

Go you puss. Shine for me sweetish vibrating siren. Glow for me sun.

I walk into clouds / brass knuckled / screw you, such awful ache of white.

/

Harken up to audition as a freshly plucked calf / Yawn.

/ More jungle. Blood staining the leaves. Tutorial violence. BDSM. 

/ Shine up boy / Bloom up, good to go, shade of brambles /

Sprinkle your choice wherever your walk / Shine up, boy / 

musty linen and anesthetic grass / good to go, boy, shine up!

Skulked by akashic torques, bounded by versatility / 

So bleaked by the fissures of a deeper torpor / with and without host /

/ Uncovered, loathed, and then sustained / 

as a mélange of oxymoronic dance scenes / in kestrel wombs /

or under various subjectivist taxonomies of symbolic submission / 

Chorus, shower of frogs, choir, torrent of flames!!!

I’m on so much stardust that it’s quiet here, in the desert /

Larded up on action, mine isle is this, whose shimmer turns to sullen flame /

Crimson from the noose like parasitized fruit. /

Lord, I could dance any direction, could run any length of the stage. /

Everything is in my love! Fuck it, I’m delighted. I’m delighted!

/

And for a quartermillionth of a second, the romantic irony is back 

You would stoop and beg, or kiss me the same as a bullwhip /

But try you, or gurgle like a wound with the mucus of your lumen /

Sky / ye lapped my sabaton like a syringe / all your flounces open / 

Sure to incense the highly scarred rivers which veer and veer /

Through rows of bridal eyes trapped in compasses.

/

& soon all is blurred, as if the tadpole-self is moving to the mainstage /

Pulsating / as of a pale, gaussian mask crest forth from suicide / 

As if a cuntless manikin were a second heart, the stupor of trapezohedrons

Teeming with time patterns, vesical stigmas / 

Flopped upon the polished alleyways of music / I come / pale / new 

/ Vermiform 

/ An anesthetized little grub.

/

But, my friends, if you think for a moment about such things, then you may catch your own reflection.

/

It’s all color, it’s all play. Fuck. Guess it doesn’t quite tally up. 

Calculus killed the larks that once reigned in my stare like a place.

/

Blossom / and feral pearl / of bright happenstance eclipses / that

Novitiate “me” / that crawled in pyramidity / pre-Caligulated,  / at the 

Circle’s thin, invective slippage there, fully antonymous / damping on

Sucked-off flowerstalks / O no, the muss of the field impregnates me to tears. 

/ Come on. Rectal, then, oh, this is nauseous, on bonsai, I’ll do

Better, you come on my firecracker, your 

Exits are elastic / and this kaleidoscope won’t even smolder against 

My teeth. / 

/

Fried bug smell of I.

/

The voxels burn.

Clambered atop girth; and this silence only seems to gird 

The eldest of my egos, windowed from the wound of its peripatetic youth 

/ Ye murmur to the rustle of vellum / To hangover the poles of quadrature as a sign / 

Sham kisses belched over the blusher / pusillanimous shades / 

Nipping the slurge all thread-like, my pupillary piers pronged by susurration /

& wetted the inroad with sweat-thickened felts / all itchy-blue /

And zeroed along the footpath / I tore my umbrella to bits. 

/

King / prince / child / nectarated / reek of chiton / the pollens blaze 

And bob / the dullest princess roses bare their wanton weld-marks / and

Jest-out in offshoots of what they gestured once so sadly, in formaldehyde /

/ Click click click for a fast, vast vista / rabbit loops and kerosene quilts /

The mime outside uncoiling / jammed in overlaps / of other Queens / voyeurs / savants

Corrupted by the gaping metaphor of the poltergeist’s mind / 

Veiled or yawned, each eye /

Nuked.

/

By faith, my steps collide with sunflowers in arboreal fathoms 

/ Soylent compared to silent life in the sarcophagus

/ Machine set to meatboy sea / 

The psychosis created the phylum / So empty 

They reeked of sprezzatura /  

Flail / wretch / strangle / choke / swoon / spasm 

/ Inconvenient sermons in this lockjaw for hogging / bisexual venom 

/ On the crosshair’s maze and stooping derision smeared with scurf

/ Autodidactic figurations of narrative terms /

Hissing or glissading again. 

/

Part auteur semiotics. /

Part homogenous insect youth. /

Yes, the apogee, the apogee! 

/

White cactus juice, that furtive, runs from the pimples of a marquee

Of the cilice / of riddle / of all that one may suppose / of all that one saw

Tattling from the bottom of the mariner’s pyloric sneer /

I excised a scalding scrim of coherent adulation / ash-lapped 

For the fruits of algorithms, and the masonic orange-and-red stains

That grew on the mesh of the Cartier mirrors. 

/

Who am I, to connect my virginity to the faultline / the discount homuncularity? / 

Canticum / incipient technocratic government / this meat 

Doesn’t need any fucking help getting into your stomach. / Fuck / clarity for clarity

/ The leavings of flea shit / the nothing at all / the all en masseness of stoic 

Vertebrate mundanity / infrasound locusts tearing at the axon /

Beneath drooping sprigs of sylvan dogbane /

No plunge wells your perforations /

Piss all suns 

/

People will know the truth when they know it. Fuck it. It doesn’t matter. 

/

I was surrounded by miniature infernos. Fuck it. 

/

I pissed like a boson.

/

///

Evan Isoline is a writer and artist living on the Oregon coast. He edits an experimental publishing project entitled SELFFUCK. His full-length debut is forthcoming from 11:11 Press.

Categories
Sean Kilpatrick

THE BUGS THEIR DEATHS IMPRESSED

We were laid to rest in scores, just the reflux of bodies garnishing a blizzard. I always avoided keeping count of anyone I knew. Bullet casings filled with ice held us static on their tiny conveyor belt. Whisky bags flocked south like an ever-fracturing doily stamped in beef. I felt my bones grow slushy inside their costume. The night bulged, teasing void by gradation. Hospitals would reject us, lack of health insurance notwithstanding. Jennifer awakened and asked why I was the kind of guy who seeks therapy before the dream is over. Why I was the version of Superman who has to potty mid-flight.

Bob torpedoed from above, bowling my one-man rescue party apart, calcimining us with brands of shrubbery and blood. He knocked the coins off her eyelids. Maroon snow angels swabbed the expanse, gore-thick cookie cutter impressions of us as fatalities. We clung to roots and moss and clotted flurries, scrambling to stand. Bob’s neck fracture resounded clear across the summit. A report like a really damp homerun cleated into everyone’s understanding of their mortality. Drawn to our accumulating fluids, dogs began hovering at the base, snorkeling through snow. 

We applied pressure to our wounds, just so they’d get runny. Ned tried smashing his dislocated shoulder against a tree, insisting it would reset – “like the movies” – instead of ripping several veins, ligaments, and tendons permanently sundered – which it did – and disappeared under a tree branch.

Jennifer pinched the helicopter’s spotlight. We stripped off her soaked stockings and wrung the urine back onto us, where it belonged. As far as circulation was concerned, she could speak for herself. “None of my casts will be roomy enough for an orgasm,” she whispered. “Take photos of my gathering flies…for mom and dad.”

Years ago, I caught her, eyes wide open during a kiss. We started taking turns surprising each other, lids agape. The prank kept interrupting our intimacy. It became impossible to hold hands without an anxiety attack about who might spring the dreaded aghast look – jump scare zombie impersonations of sexuality. This fear carried over to everyone we dated, post-breakup, encouraging a celibacy that was now finally ending. Even during our deathbed reconciliation, I assumed each farewell kiss would end with an abject glare. 

We couldn’t even get our sweet nothings in order. Flakes dissolved into the bones of her ribcage, disarraying brilliancies. A new round of families approached for the morning toboggan. Jennifer rolled a snowball at them, hoping to create an effect. It landed by their feet, crumbling to reveal a personal product of hers intended for sanitary purposes. We were skinny dipping in a crystal ball, swimming through our vomit as it joined forces. “Call a priest,” I bellowed, non-conditionally, to our snow-globe full of warts.

“Hold my hand…even if I don’t consent, which I never have…being too ruptured in the core of my orientation to mate.”

“I’ll mate with you when you’re gone,” I rested her assured. 

“How far from six feet under can I get?” she cringed.

“Picture me: five foot plastic pompadour, cat calling you for so long the Nick and Nite logo, to which we owe our honor, becomes a map, raw with travel lines, and I’m shouting: ‘pose for me on your toes for me,’ like one of the Sweathogs. You call anything on a map a skid mark. I sing you the sitcom themes of everything we watched and have starred in together, and, on a special episode, you stand with your t-shirt billowing around the air conditioner in our skinny New York apartment, the perspiration traveling vertical up your navel. ‘Not heating the whole neighborhood!’ is our catch phrase. Catch phrases are the tenor of our foreplay. I only speak to you in butt pinches and catcalls. We frolic together in an abandoned fridge. I sexually harass you through your death rattle. That’s how much I care.”

“Take your glasses off…” She sputtered bugs, somehow, in the flux of winter. I remembered her with bugs… as I shall always remember her.

///

Sean Kilpatrick‘s work has appeared in Boston Review, Fence, Bomb and others. His Collected Scripts is forthcoming from 11:11 Press in 2021.

Categories
Sam Pink

11 POEMS

SELF DEFENSE

At the sporting goods store we passed a couple faceless mannequins dressed in work out clothes. My brother mimed as though blocking a strike then ran his keys down the side of one’s neck. I followed, a few steps behind, having given up on the winter hat I wanted to buy.

FIVE GEESE FLEW BY HONKING

I was shoveling snow, when five geese flew by honking. And I slipped and fell, trying to follow them with my eyes. I went into the snow, like a body of water, and disappeared forever.

THE BORDER

Some people you can bring in and some must always be met at the border of you, and the rest of the world.

THE GHOST

I saw a roadside memorial on the drive to work. A cross, a basket, some flowers. And I imagined the deceased, reappearing as a bluish-white translucent ghost, bending to smell the flowers, then smiling and disappearing again.

LOVE POEM

I’m having a milkshake and watching the snow fall, sitting in the cab of my truck as it idles in an empty parking lot. And the only thing that could make it better, would be if you were farther away. Aging onward, the cold is a blacklight to past injuries. Dying apart, new as strangers, like we always were.

A THING

Imagined myself as pop culture personality on TV show, and I say, ‘we turn now to the world of my brother’s dog, where the mini football is IN and sticks are OUT.’

U.S. 12

One day, after I’m gone, my ghost will return home to U.S. 12. And you might see me there, in various forms on that stretch of road. Yes you might see me there in various forms, when my ghost returns home for good. I might be someone who helps you change a tire. I might be a deer you barely miss with your car. Or the moon, behind some clouds. I might be the dark, draped everywhere. Or a hawk circling high, midday. I might be none of those things too, but I will return, to U.S. 12. And you might me see there, when my ghost returns for good.

BUGS

Been enjoying feeling visited, rather than (whatever) when a bug is on or around me.

IN MY CHEAP WINTER COAT

When I see the horses out in the cold in their dirty wraps/capes, it reminds me of how I feel in my cheap winter coat: powerful and fuckin awesome (and fast).

LANDLORD POEM

I applied for an apartment. They wanted proof of income. I gave them proof. They said they needed something else. I told them I had nothing else. They said if you pay up front for 6 months then no problem. I said ok fine. They said ok now the rent is 50 bucks more a month too. I stared at the email. I imagined a group of shadowy people on the other end, laughing as they keep changing shit around. ‘haha he bought it, now say it’s 50 more a month.’ Another says, “haha yeah yeah, and tell him he has to wear a party hat the whole time he lives here.” ‘tell him Wednesdays are walk backwards days.’ I closed the email. I closed my eyes and focused on the sight and sound of the moment the tip of a knife goes through human skin. The moment the skin says ‘I give up’ and the knife says, ‘I’m coming in.’ I opened my eyes and looked at the snow outside. A squirrel had just leapt from branch to branch, knocking off a beautiful wave of powder.

THE HAWK

I saw a hawk circling above me, on a bike ride. I thought it didn’t notice me but then it swooped down into a tree just ahead. It shook the tree and a dead limb fell onto the road, barely missing me. And I thought, ‘holy shit, bro, relax.’ To be honest though, I liked its approach.

///

Sam Pink’s latest book, The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories, is available now at Soft Skull Press. Follow Sam on Twitter at @sampinkisalive.

Categories
Chris Morgan

FACTS OF LIFE

Dear Nephew,

If you’re reading this letter, that means you caught every hint and unlocked every clue I left to lead you to this specially selected place at this appointed time, where and when the letter was to be found. Or you found it by accident from moving my bookshelf because there is no one else around to get rid of all my stuff. Or someone else got rid of my stuff, found the letter, and (hopefully) passed it to its rightful recipient: you! Whatever the case, congratulations, thank you, and so on!

Contained within this letter are the facts of life that I’d been meaning to tell you but could not tell you outright. You may think you know all that needs knowing about the facts of life, but here you would be mistaken. No one is necessarily to blame for this negligence, and you should not think less of yourself in having to come to terms with it. Some facts of life — the authentic facts of life — are harder to come by than others, like diamonds concealed beneath other less dazzling diamonds. It takes the right kind of moral fortitude and spiritual detail-orientation to get even a glance at their brilliance. These facts of life are the kind your mom and dad, had they themselves been made aware of them, might find inconvenient to the cozy white bread life they set for you. Consider that a disclaimer as much as it is a truth. The facts are as follows:

FACT: I came up with the idea of good and evil. This happened just after college. I was driving around in your grandfather’s station wagon, and it occurred to me that the world into which I had been raised and reentered upon graduation had been lacking in some crucial dynamic by which people might be able to distinguish those things that validate their sense of well-being from the things that don’t. Just how the kernel of the idea appeared to me is sort of a blur. I only recall that I was listening to Candy Apple Grey at the time and “Eiffel Tower High” just started skipping, and just like that the ground beneath me and the sky above me seemed all out of place and I needed something to put it back, or if not put it back, then to make sense of it. There followed many hours of brainstorming with the necessary solicitation, receiving, and consideration of feedback from others. I’d be lying if I said I was perfectly satisfied with the end result, but I also think that since its introduction it has been on the whole very helpful for the world, and I am proud of what I achieved.

FACT: I was the host of a crude version of The Bachelor. This was before the mansion, the lavish getaways, or even the hot tub. It was in a warehouse. It had a communal shower room, a pretty neat freight elevator, and CCTVs all over the place. It was very exciting. I was told it streamed online somewhere; we had hoped for a television broadcast but certain ambiguities with regard to law did not encourage production companies to help make that possible. While there are conflicting viewpoints on the nature of my complicity in the operation, my abilities as a host were never questioned.

FACT: I proposed that pizza be shaped into a triangle. Not the individual slices, but the entire pizza. I proposed this to multiple pizza chains, nearly all of them showed such interest that even now I’m confident it would have come to fruition and been a lasting success. Yet in each case, none would consider fairly that part of my proposal insisting that the pizzas should not be sliced. They didn’t understand. I wanted to upend the whole paradigm of pizza. Pizza would have become a collaborative process in which the consumer would play an instrumental role. Unsliced triangular pizza would fire heretofore dormant synapses of creativity. Dopamine levels would increase notably but not to excess. People would be happier and less passive. Pizza is a more reactionary venture than I anticipated. It’s impractical the gatekeepers of pizza told me. It would run through our economy like a tornado through a trailer park. But I would not compromise. The joy of the whole world was at stake.

FACT: I devised a bigger version of the Big Gulp; one that was still called “Big Gulp” but bigger, indeed, than the Super Big Gulp or even the Double Gulp. No deeper principle was driving this one. I never had a Big Gulp in my life, and I actually found the classic size to be more or less acceptable. I came up with the idea to give as a gift to someone who was going through a hard time in his life. I thought it was something he could use to gain a greater perspective. A Big Gulp that allows for still bigger gulps might just have an expansive effect that can be applied across many facets of existence. We can think beyond the paltry limitations smaller minds wish to set for us, is about what I was trying to say. I never did find out if the idea lifted him from his torpor, nor have I been to a 7-Eleven to see if my concept was put into action.

There are many more authentic facts of life that I could have told you at a far earlier time. But I thought it was wise to wait. I wanted to see what would remain after a certain point, or what I could safely set aside to make room for the most precious of the facts — the ones that were sure to perfect your armor of maturity as you set further along this crazy journey we call “life.”

These have been the real, unfiltered, authentic facts (of life). Accept no substitutes.

All the best,

Your uncle

///

Chris R. Morgan is a writer from New Jersey. His Twitter handle is @CR_Morgan; his other work can be found here.

Categories
B.R. Yeager

BURN YOU THE FUCK ALIVE

You’ve dreamed about me. A face you’ve always mistaken for figment, an apparition; a creation of the deep dark beneath your skull. But it was really me. I was there, and I saw you too.

The pathogenesis of septic shock is not completely understood.

Dental sepsis or periapical abscess formation constitutes a large percentage of dental conditions that afflict horses. Dental sepsis occurs when the pulp chamber of the tooth is exposed to the oral cavity or external environment, allowing bacterial localization with resulting infection. Although acute, primary, septic pulpitis in horses is rare, dental sepsis often results from colonization of the pulp chamber with pathogenic bacteria secondary to maleruption or impaction of teeth with secondary alveolar bone lysis, primary fractures of the tooth, mandible, or maxilla, periodontal disease, or infundibular necrosis. The sequela to pulpal infection are extensions into the periradicular tissues and mandibular or maxillary periapical abscess formation.

You’ve let me worry you. You’ll be thinking of me for weeks to come. Maybe I’ll never leave your side. And when your gums puff and swell, spitting rust when you floss, you’ll think of me, and won’t ever be able to stop. 

Somebody mailbombed the anthrax dispensary. A puppy with its stomach slit. An asshole filled with nail clippings. I dreamed of great white maggots shaped like anal beads burrowed deep inside my feet. Where does it even come from? Light from icy blade moon down to your spine and mine also. i killed ur dad and married ur other dad, so im ur dad now too. The joyous days are over. Thus says I.

No one’s afraid of dying anymore. But I can twist your leg into a spiral. I can make you forget you ever knew how to breathe. When you found the beaten bloody sack behind your home, was part of you excited? I mean, the look on your face. It’s the twenty-seventh time in your life you’ve realized there is still so much you haven’t considered. It’s almost enough to knock you down. 

Your waist buckles and lips pucker like a sweet milky anus. Ankles and rotator cuffs worn to ruin. I’m the breath that swallows this world. An inhalation sucking in the oxygen between each body. You sucked face with your lover and sucked in deep and then your lover’s lungs collapsed. How about that? Those are my words etched in your skin. You will never forget. I ended the world just to get to you.

///

B.R. Yeager’s novel Negative Space is out now through Apocalypse Party.

Categories
Henry Goodridge

FRAME BY FRAME

My mind was still in front of the computer as I headed to the bar. I was getting older and couldn’t take a punch quite as well anymore, sure, but the hit that put me down last Saturday was inhuman. I knew there had to be a spike, under his skin somehow. Knuckles alone can’t cut that deep.

I was lucky; Great Lakes MMA was still big enough to broadcast. Losing my edge a bit meant I wasn’t fighting in HD anymore, but in 2020 even the little guys have a stream you can play back.

The referee checked his gloves. I saw it happen. It’s basically impossible to rig a pair anymore. It had to come out of his hand. I saw the little glint of gray during that last cross.

I tried to get a good look at his gloves again during our post-fight handshake. Of course they were black. Any other color and the hole the spike must have made would be too obvious. Even then, I think I saw a sliver of skin peeking out from the foam and leather.

I pushed open the door and walked to the end of the bar. Elmas noticed that I didn’t sit in my usual spot and skipped the banter.

“Burger?”

“Yeah. And whatever you gave me yesterday to drink. I forget the name.”

Elmas said something back, but I was already going through the fight in my head again. I didn’t think the spike came out until that last cross. No wonder he was looking so confident despite the
fact that I was clearly winning on points.

The image of the spike sliding out from the webbing between his fingers flashed in my head again. At first I had thought it must have come out from either the top or bottom of his hand, sliding through a knuckle or from the end of his wrist. But hiding something like that would be impossible. You would be able to see it underneath the skin.

Elmas put a beer in front of me and I watched his fingerprints in the condensation fade away.

Maybe it came out of the bone. This whole time I’d been imagining it as a separate piece of his skeleton, but maybe it was hidden right inside the bones of his hand. Like a police baton or a
telescope, the spike could just collapse right into a knuckle.

I needed to get my hands on as much footage as possible.

Maybe someone in the audience took videos on their phone. I could search my name and see if anybody got a good view of the knockout from the stands. The quality wouldn’t be as good, but I
knew that all I really needed was the right angle.

Hell, I could even look through his old fights. I knew from watching tape before our match-up that he had a lot of knockout wins. Maybe an old opponent saw the little weapon stick out of his glove too.

“Hey, is that Brantley?”

I looked up to see a younger guy across the room walking towards me.

“Sam Brantley? Me and my dad used to watch you when I was a kid!”

I opened my mouth, but he kept going.

“Are you still fighting? I remember how hard you used to hit. Can you still swing like that?”

He’d just started talking but I already knew where this was going. What he was trying to do.

He leaned in, firing off more questions, and knocked my beer over. I’m sure he thought this was a genius trick, but every professional fighter has seen this move a thousand times. Piss me off, but make it look like an accident. If I knock you out, the asshole fighter assaulted you over a beer. If you get a lucky shot on me, you just whipped a former champion in front of your friends.

Normally I had a lot of patience for these guys. I’d learned that If you don’t take the bait they’ll eventually leave you alone. This time though, the arrogance wasn’t helping my already sour mood. I stood up and pushed him back with one hand. This was his chance to change his mind.

He stuck to it and swung. I saw it coming and put my left arm up. Just a couple jabs are usually enough to end this kind of thing.

I woke up to Elmas dabbing my cheek with a wet rag.

“He already left. Just stay here a minute.”

I was in his office at the back of the bar.

“What happened?”

“He slipped right past your guard and tagged your chin. You just went down.”

“And then what?” As soon as I asked, I realized I really didn’t want to know.

“Don’t worry about it. Just stay here a minute.”

I remembered the punch. It was slow and kind of sloppy. I’m sure the kid had been in a bar fight or two, but I’d taken punches like that a million times and stayed on my feet.

I thought for a moment.

“Elmas, does your bar have security cameras?”

Categories
MIKA

OASIS MOUNTAIN DIVISION

2717 – we’re all connected by manic-numb-hate networks. El meditates under the degrading remains of a whale that lays supine across the width of the Mojave. the world’s forgotten what evil was. she plays [▷]earthquake_00.anm in her head. psychic reel crackles w/ soft reverberations. she’s watching a vision of the earth being swallowed up by a great cataclysm, washed of its ignorance & numb hate within hours. other, more beautiful women elsewhere were using their imaginations to vividly let sedan-sized radioactive mutant insects tear them into shreds & fuck the remains. disgusting! they peaked the possibilities of physical living long ago.

earthquake_00.anm ▷ one more time. ▷ one more time. ▷ one more time.now all they do is laze around a compound in the desert trying to stimulate themselves under trances & occasionally being sadistic to the post-hell animals. El lived in an anarchist commune vaguely positioned around the former base of a (now totally suicided, lol) death cult. revolting notions of freedom & meaninglessness & aimless living dominated her life. the deep evils of the earth had long melted under bio-weapons specially designed by a team of American ultra-nationalist scientists. diseases named XXX-F*CKDVLFLU & shit like that. sometimes in her visions she liked to play the role of illuminati authoritarian. commanding every single person’s life from behind shadows & blurry schizophrenic images posted online. she could have been a natural tyrant. Soviet beautiful. she was born 700 years too late. when awake she usually stared off at the concrete walls of the compound. sometimes she sat on top of them w/ an anti-materiel rifle equipped w/ depleted uranium bullets. blowing apart the skulls of bus sized, but docile, deer that trot along the horizon. 

she has the HUD of an ancient first-person shooter video game tattooed on her thigh. a true sigil of power! nobody knows what game it’s from anymore. an artifact lost to time & Infinite Paradisio Warfares. we have a year & not the name. 1993. El has black hair, like the color of Kansas grass nowadays. an amphetamine look to her eyes. she rarely ate. 115 lbs. 5’9”. a girl withering away for sensations. 

they dealt in bullets blasted w/ radiation. the compound, named MOUNTAIN, was refitted to be a munitions factory. the commune itself, this terrible tribe of dreamless psychic nomads that peddled in death-dealing overpowered irradiated calibers, designated itself THE OASIS MOUNTAIN DIVISION. a collective of women channeling powers granted to them by thoroughly MKULTRA’d ancestors from centuries ago. ancient people broken down & designed for vaporizing enemy combatants in foreign hot zones. a company of loyalists [EX level], serving the purposes of extreme capitalism, had unwittingly blessed the future hopeless. 

the main customers for OASIS MOUNTAIN were mercenaries from Old Cali, the FRAG COYOTES. no one really needed killing anymore, and nobody really needed money anymore [no need for currency when every girl was free nowadays], but still hired guns got work. usually jobs for killing random ppl the client didn’t know. there’s an euphoric perversity in sending a hitman to kill the pedestrian. they took no payment, it was a contract of killing desire. all you had to do was tell one of these pro ronin who to off. perma-death decimation for the civilian. there’s no respawns here, bitches. body counts racked up of nothing but non-combatants. the mercenaries would come to the MOUNTAIN w/ dufflebags full of glass containers w/ captured yokai inside. there were spirits that didn’t get to be eradicated by patriot viruses. excommunicated from wherever the demons & angels went. 

El & her cadre melted these loathsome & unmoored phantoms down in knife-shaped molds. astral-tempered flechette rounds. El went on an Infiltration Op w/ the FRAG COYOTES once. its a ritual performed w/o a client. many factions had developed a tradition that, when one of their squad was headshot from 600 yards away or some shit, they would perform a rite to the unholy pseudo-deity of endless massacre. 

the infiltrations were slaughter. hateful & stupid. El wanted in. she’d never killed a person before. never seen blood just splatter all over the fucking wall like chunky grafitti. vandalism you can’t take back. El wanted nothing more than to do irreparable things. something the rain can’t just wash away.  

El flicked on a device capable of wicked darkvision. she listens to the mechanism over her eyes whirr statically.  hell yeah. El’s witch pretty now. the squad approached an airstrip covered in vibrant pink mosses & vines. golden skulls glittered in numb moonlight on a boundary fence that surrounded the airfield & its sparkling terminal. encased in barbed wire crowns, they cried crude oil onto the ground. they knew the mercs were here to fuck some shit up. 

that depressed & worthless & not-beautiful girl El pulls the charging handle of her rifle. its a collector’s item nowadays. an M4A3. the squad leader motions for the rest of them to move up to the terminal entrance.a bonfire crackles inside. thru the windows we watch hapless communists, pale & emaciated, burn deformed deer bodies. horns cracking under heat. squad leader pulls down the black bandana from his mouth & lets his snake tongue out. down past his chin it drapes itself. forked & all lol, freak. he’s ready to lap up some gore. the tall, misshapen grasses brush around his back. framed like a king by alien vegetation. he rips off a small canister hooked to his chest rig. pull the pin & toss in the terminal lobby & listen to the hiss.do you know what melting flesh sounds like, from a distance? 

he commands us forward in a dead language derived from several central European dialects that fused together in a great ball of nuclear fire. language as aberration. let’s fuck them up. 

El crushed her boot down harder on a lady vampire. 2,0000 newtons of pressure. enough to keep her down. ribs halfway to splitting. being undead’s a bitch, ain’t it? vampiric communists! El laughed at the fantasy spurting up blood under her boot & pulled the charging handle–it’s only right to make her first kill & this girl’s second death look cool as fuck–and got ready to smell the sulfur. 

her face felt hot. sweat evaporated against the air lit to fuck  w/ the sounds of gunshots [bang bang bang!!!] & decimation & knives sliding into spines [ka-shink!!!] & El’s sweat dripping on concrete. can you squeeze the trigger, you stupid fuck? take the step into Hell’s gates? you better be ready to deepthroat evil, slut, because it’s the only love you’ll know soon enough. if only El had the psychically-linked firearms of the mercenaries! they didn’t have to think to pull the trigger, their lizard instincts did the shooting for them. no guilt required! 

claws scratching the floor. four strong legs–one hissing with diesel power & gears grinding–approached her at 75mph. El heard the animal leap. hahahahaha. she didn’t even try to raise her rifle. teeth snapped around her neck & flesh began tearing like paper. shred that shit. sounds of vertebrate cracking as El fell to the floor w/ a wolf’s jaw tight around her throat. revenge AMSR, she figures. the mouth begins to close. 10,000 newtons of force. the last thing El hears is teeth meeting teeth and her arteries, free & boundless, spurting aimlessly across the ground. 

sand, tinted pink w/ boiling intent burns against El’s cheek.dreaming of a nine-headed snake glowing with xenon tunneling through her skull. gateway sigils painted on the inside of her eyelids. she jerks awake. 

El returned to the crime scene. that massacre tableau. reeked of dried & burnt organs. this always happened. she had awoken w/ her cheeks burning against sand, tinted pink w/ hostile intent, and jerked herself up. dreams of a nine-headed snake glowing with xenon tunneling through her skull. she had managed to pull herself up, & begin a full sprint towards the terminal a few miles south. fuck the fatigue. she needed to see it. last time this happened, there wasn’t anything left over but half her liver & a crushed pelvis. damn. 

there it was. El’s raven hair, matted in blood & organ scum, was splayed across the ground. she stared at herself, head separated & done bleeding, a few feet away from her body flat against the terminal floor. jesus christ. j-horror type mood. like looking at a hex’d mirror. she used her boot to turn the head towards the ground. the Frag Coyotes had already moved on. ritual’s been fed. time for them to move on to more innocent targets. all that was left in the building, windows full of glitter from the desert sun, were a bunch of half-eaten & half-fucked & half-dead vampire corpses. Marx can’t protect you against roving hit squads, i guess, lol. didn’t even have any claymores set up. dumb as shit. 

Categories
Maggie Siebert

INCANTATION

WILLIAM BLAKE: [offstage] Those who restrain Desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or Reason usurps its place and governs the unwilling.

XXXXXXX: So, I guess it was around 12:30 in the morning when we went down to the Depot, the one on Washington Ave., and I said, you know, hey, why don’t you get us some drinks, I’m gonna go out back and have a smoke real quick. So she says okay, and I just needed to step outside and catch my breath and think for a second. I could feel myself kind of, I don’t know, giving into it I guess. All I could think about was getting a plastic bag over her head. That was always how I wanted to do it, you know, I liked the idea of seeing her… I guess him, whoever, kinda suck in and not have anything to breathe out.

XXXXXXX: And you did it?

XXXXXXX: Yeah. She came outside looking for me and I said we should go back to my place and she said okay. We took the drunk bus, the stop is a few blocks from the apartment. When we got in she sat down and asked for a drink and I knew it was my chance. So I went to the kitchen and stuck a grocery sack in my back pocket and, well. You know what happened next.

XXXXXXX: How long did it take for her to stop breathing?

XXXXXXX: I honestly have no idea. Time just became sort of irrelevant. I was just in it. Nothing else was on my mind. I just know eventually I felt her kind of give up. She slumped. I felt her die.

XXXXXXX: Do you regret it?

XXXXXXX: No.

XXXXXXX: Why not?

XXXXXXX: I think if there was a way for me to get in contact with her now, she’d thank me. I really do.

XXXXXXX: When I was 14 I remember my grandmother was basically comatose. Catatonic, whatever the word is. And she had this stay-at-home nurse. But he was gone for a few hours, and I was just there helping out. Turning her over so she didn’t get bed sores. And I went over to fluff one of her pillows, and while I was holding it, it occurred to me that I could just put it over her face. I wouldn’t even have had to hold down for very long, or very hard. She was so frail. And I honestly thought about doing it. Not because she looked miserable, not because it was the humane thing to do, but just because I wanted to. And right when I was about to do it she opened her eyes. I think she knew. She died a few days later.

XXXXXXX: Eric and Dylan made Doom levels that looked like
their high school.

XXXXXXX: Have you talked to her family at all?

XXXXXXX: They came to visit once. I wasn’t expecting them, and I wasn’t sure what they’d say. It was just the mom and dad. The mom was the one with the phone, and the dad just stood next to her. He wouldn’t look at me, but she did.

XXXXXXX: What did she say?

XXXXXXX: Nothing.

XXXXXXX: We just looked at each other. I don’t think she had anything she needed to say.

XXXXXXX: Why did she come?

XXXXXXX: I think she just wanted to see me.

XXXXXXX: Did you know the girl was only 17?

XXXXXXX: No.

XXXXXXX: Would you have done it if you did know?

XXXXXXX: I don’t think it would have made a difference.

XXXXXXX: His uncle took over a TV news station once. He wanted to be broadcast, he had a message or something. But he had this stutter, and when they started filming he couldn’t get it out. He could only say like half a sentence, he would get stuck on a word and just say it over and over again before moving onto the next thought. He got so frustrated he cut off the interview about halfway through. Nobody got killed or anything. Except him I guess.

XXXXXXX: I saw that live.

XXXXXXX: That’s the thing, they never aired it. It wasn’t live. They just aired commercials while the police were outside, waiting to bust the door down.

XXXXXXX: He had already killed himself by the time they got
in.

XXXXXXX: Do you remember how it happened, exactly?

XXXXXXX: She was working at this factory hospital, just birthing babies one by one, so fast. The mothers were completely unconscious, and she would just pull them out in one go, clean them off and they’d move down the line. All day long, eight hour shifts. At night she’d go home, and all she could think about were babies. She finally decided she’d had enough, and she threw one through a window. Then all the women on the line started doing it too. Infants flying through the air, soundless. The foreman couldn’t stop them, they had to shut down the whole plant.

XXXXXXX: I’ve been stuck here for, I don’t even know how long.

XXXXXXX: When did she start sending you letters?

XXXXXXX: I guess probably two years ago. The first one she kind of talked through her feelings, she, what’s the word, excoriated me for me for doing what I did. For killing her daughter, I guess. There were some details I picked up on that seemed strange for her to tell me. Like, she casually mentioned she and her husband were having problems since it happened.

XXXXXXX: Do you talk about that now?

XXXXXXX: Yeah, it’s funny, she says she didn’t intend it that way.

XXXXXXX: Years later my best friend was dying, he had multiple sclerosis. When he started going downhill, it was so fast. It was like, I remember him having aches and sort of walking funny, and before I know it he can’t get out of bed, he’s having trouble breathing. One day I was visiting him and he told me he didn’t know if he could take much more of it. And he asked me if I would do him a favor, a really important one. I said sure. He asked me if I’d kill him. He wanted it to be over but he didn’t think he could do it himself. I don’t know if he meant physically or emotionally. I never asked. But I said shit, that’s a lot to ask of someone. He told me to think about it. So, I did. A few visits passed, he didn’t mention it. But one night I went over there and he asked if I’d thought about it again. And, you know, I had, and I said I would. He asked if I’d do it right now. Nobody was with him, I was one of the few people who came by. He said, please. I thought really hard about it, and finally I decided that yeah, I would. I told him I was gonna smother him with a pillow, because that would look the least suspicious. No blood anyway. He said that would be fine. We watched a few episodes of something, I don’t remember. Not important. Then he said, okay, I’m ready. I just held it down as tight as I could. He barely even struggled. I wasn’t sad at the time. I was very sad after. But when I was doing it, all I could think about was my grandma.

XXXXXXX: The town was completely deserted, save for this one guy. He walked around to every house. He looked in every window, knocked on all the doors. Went in every shop. Looked in all the cars parked in the street. Checked under desks. Opened up manholes, went in the sewers. Called all the businesses in the phone book. Spent months looking for someone, anyone. All the electricity worked, the Internet worked, everything. Friends in other states would respond to
his calls. But everyone in his town was gone. He didn’t tell anyone, and no one seemed to notice.

XXXXXXX: What time is it?

XXXXXXX: Hey, I’ve been looking for you. What are you doing
outside? I got us drinks.

XXXXXXX: By the fourth or fifth letter, she had completely opened up. She opened one up by describing to me how conflicted she felt. She was having sex dreams about me. She described them in meticulous detail.

XXXXXXX: It wasn’t just her though.

XXXXXXX: No, her husband had been sending them too.

XXXXXXX: Same thing?

XXXXXXX: He was more forthright about it from the getgo. They must have been talking about it for awhile. By this time I had been in prison for maybe a decade. They started asking if we could meet again.

XXXXXXX: Is it processing, do you think?

XXXXXXX: I’m not sure what it is for them.

XXXXXXX: I don’t think we have much time left.

XXXXXXX: Are the three of you happy?

XXXXXXX: Yeah. I think we are.