“KINGDOM COME” by PETER WIEBEN

They caught the thief in a city a far distance away, after the apocalypse came. God began wrapping up the world little by little. Most people didn’t notice, but if they had wanted to look, it was right there to see. God isn’t cruel.

 

It was a big city, and in the middle was a slum.  Everyone lived in the slum.  The big buildings were all abandoned.  People lived in tiny mud shacks for the closeness and for the feeling of being near other people.  It was like huddling near the tippy top of a sinking boat. The slum was a valley with two hills, and it was packed with houses made of corrugated steel and scrap wood.

 

When new people were born, the community would throw them into the air.  They would gather in a crowd and throw the baby up as high as they could, and then try to catch it.

 

There was a prophet in the slum called Ondeto.  One day, Ondeto told his followers to go to the Central Business District, climb to the highest building, and fly.  If they jumped, he told them, he would give them wings. Continue reading

“MOTHER DIED TODAY” by BLAISEWELL

Mother died today.

Or maybe yesterday.

I don’t remember.

Wait, no, it had to be before yesterday, because I had tennis lessons yesterday. Maybe Wednesday.

Actually, come to think of it, Wednesday was the International Friends of the Koalas Day Donation-drive Call-A-Thon. And that was after she died, too. I can’t believe I don’t remember. Shit. Was it over a week ago? Last… Tuesday? Jeez. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess. Wait, if it was Tuesday–

Fuck, I’m late.

The conductor comes up to me. His arms are crossed. Continue reading

“GOOD BOYS” & TWO POEMS by DAVID LARKIN

 

GOOD BOYS

I remember when my family first got our dog. She pissed and shat everywhere. Dad would shout and Mam would say leave her alone, she’s only young. She had a stumpy little tail and shed a lot of white hair throughout the years. My sister used to feed her scraps, so she’d like her the best. Then everyone else started doing it and she got fat. I never bothered trying too hard. I cuddled her sometimes when everyone went to bed and I wasn’t able to sleep, but I rarely walked her. I wish I did now but I’ll make amends with my own pets.

The three good boys (myself included) drove home from the pet shop. I was holding our little pals in the back seat in their bags. Three gorgeous yokes; Sammy, Declan, Viktor plucked from the pet-shop shelf and ready to be taken care of. Soon they’d be best friends. Sammy was mine he looked like a pokemon, apparently. He was white and redish orange and had more girth than the other boys, his tail was big and transparent and it made him look very classy when he swam in circles. Declan was the traditional throwback, orange in colour, he was smaller than Sammy but bigger than Viktor, he was the perfect pet for a good boy and sat the most still on the journey home. Viktor was the cutest little fella you’d ever see, he was the colour of the sun and the fastest in the whole pet shop, so of course we had to have him. Continue reading

“EMPTY SPACE” by JAMES HOLLOWAY

Baron Samedi’s big black arse shines bright like obsidian on the deck of the Bay Marie.

I can see a lot from up here at the top of the masthead, drunk and bleary eyed, enjoying the breeze and the scent of the smoke rolling in from the city. Ha Long Bay. Two thousand lime stone islands jutting out from the water like a crocodile’s tail and the night sky is perfectly empty of cloud, more stars than I’ve ever seen back home.

People are yelling at me from the deck. They’re telling me either to jump or to climb back down. A six-foot pale Irishman is making it clear he wants to climb up next, he’s got a beer in his hand and he’s beating his chest like Popeye. I don’t think this rope ladder will support him.

Down below, the Baron’s oiled up rear end twinkles in the moonlight, a beacon in the darkness, then he lifts himself up and dives head first into the water. He’s followed by a Midas-touched teen in a red swimsuit; bleached blonde cornrows cascading down her back. For a man so large he’s oddly graceful. Continue reading

TWO STORIES by NATHAN DRAGON

 

Sunny

 

I made a list yesterday of things that I needed today, or rather, like a list of things that amounts to something a stranger will need over the course of a year, or however long the lease is, so that this particular stranger might live comfortably and use the provided amenities efficiently, particularly the new bathroom vanity. This list was made up of all relatively minor things that all fit into a 5 gallon bucket construction store bucket: Philips head, small can of white paint and putty (for touch ups), wood shims, contractors’ trash bags, 3 crowbars, 2 measuring tapes, flexible drainage pipe, Brillo pads—all indirectly related to that one bigger thing, that bathroom vanity, to hold it together in place.

I was in the passenger seat of a car on the way over there. The car was an old pick-up, not mine, and we drove straight towards the lake anticipating a left somewhere in the grid since we couldn’t turn right. I looked over my shoulder from the passenger seat and I saw the building I thought we were going to; it was made of light yellow and tan sun-bleached bricks. MMMh, the smell of bleach is pretty good, I thought and I wondered if it should’ve been added to the list, if we would need it for cleaning.

You never know. Continue reading

“A CONVERSION” by CHRISTOPHER CLIFTON

He had made the same mistake, although the way that it had come about was different than before, for he had thought that he had learnt, and would be able to avoid it. Now the lesson he had taken from this ultimate surprise was that the same would always happen in a way that he could never have foreseen, and that the only way to cope was to accept it in advance. At the base of this acceptance was a difficult acceptance of himself, which came about by the rejection of those fanciful ideas of who he was, and of the kind of recognition he believed that he deserved and would have coming. In a strange way this acceptance of himself as he had shamefully perceived himself had brought him great relief, as if a weight that he had carried for as long as he remembered had been lifted from his back; and he felt that having seen him face to face, the man he was was now no longer, and the future had been opened in a way that he had never sensed before. He was the same man after all; but the fact that he accepted who he was had made him someone else entirely. He embraced his shame, and thought of it as that which would reveal another nature, and as that which would direct him to make better kinds of choices. Continue reading

“SKYLIGHT TRACKS TEENS” by JEFF HOILAND

I let smoke rise from my mouth, it’s kind of like holding my breath. I like watching the smoke rise in front of my face. I pass the hose. Steve makes a face as he inhales through a hose for what seems like a long time. He throws his head back and lets smoke rise from his mouth. I think Steve looks stupid. Do I look stupid? Someone enters the room and says, “Jason smokes hookah?” I’m listening to the smoke cooling, bubbling in the hookah as someone inhales. “I’m seventeen” is a thought I have. The thought becoming distant, I’m smiling a little.

She is gorgeous, like something at the beach. I’m trying to decide if she’s staring at me without looking at her. She smells like Hawaii is what it is. If I move I might touch her. A pretty face, I had hoped she would lose weight—I had discussed this at school during lunch, we all agreed she might be a “good investment.” She had lost weight. Alone in my room I had imagined kissing her, her touching my dick, her being my girlfriend. Sitting next to her, I’m noticing I don’t care—I’m looking around the room, at the TV. Around me the walls appear yellow, but I know the paint is white. She says something I don’t hear and I smile. Someone had told me she wanted me to ask her to prom.  She moves her body on the couch but she isn’t any closer. Can I really feel her trying to get closer? I don’t move. I think I know her name, but if I say it out loud I could discover I’m wrong. Continue reading

“MONIKER” by GARETT STRICKLAND

This stuff about life is no good for me. The present squeezes me thru its sphincter. Here I am. Taaduh. If there were a view to encompass, you’d be the first to know. Stash your longing in a clever metaphor. Cook up some chili like a real man do. Get a grant to go to the dentist. What else do we do once a decade? Are loved. And if the mongrel designation had never grown tired, perhaps some unguarded communion among three to five persons of similar taste or sensibility. The tongue massaged into conversation. Bridges that come easily. The good sense to aspire toward austerity at night. But I carry caveats in my pocket like smoke bombs, and memory is gnarlier ever than fond. To tease the milk from a clump of ash requires too much too often. I’m on the side of a hill, trying to improvise a geodesic dome out of twigs and a slice of bleached french bread. I’m hissing to myself about popular culture. I’m recalling how the vats need drained. Continue reading

“STARING CONTEST” by GRIFFIN JONES

GROWING UP I HAD SEVEN SISTERS. EACH ONE OF THEM TAKES GREAT PAINS TO SHARPEN THE KNIVES AT THEIR THROATS. THEY ARE ALL DWARFED BY ME, THE BIGGEST KNIFE IN THE FOREST. THEY ALL LEAP UP WHEN I WALK BY AND TRY TO PRICK MY FINGERTIPS AND SIGN MY LIFE AWAY WITH THEIRS. MY FAVORITE MEMORY IS WHEN WE STOOD AROUND A CAMPFIRE AND SANG A SONG IN LAUGHS THAT NEVER ONCE ECHOED THOUGH WE ALL LISTENED FOR IT IN THE FOREST. Continue reading

“LUCY AT HER DADS” and “THE ARTIST” by JIM GIBSON

LUCY AT HER DADS 

 

And here I am. ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ on her t-shirt as I tell her to fuck off with all that shouting and that I’m here to see me dad, not you ya dirty sket. And she huffs and seethes as I push her to one side and walk in. I shout and shout before she chirps in with how he don’t wanna see me, how he’s got enough on without me coming round causing problems. I tell her that he shoulda thought of these problems before he had two kids, before he left us alone with a piss-head mam but I know how he really feels. We’ve spent some time together without ‘Dirty Deeds’, sat across the table at Maccy’s, when he said how he wanted me to live with him, how he’d get rid of this ‘bit-on-the-side’ and sort me n Jack out. I think he means it; it’s just not that easy so he’s working it out and not letting on to Her. I shout – DAD, GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW and ‘Dirty Deeds’ laughs so I give her the look and – WHAT THE FUCK YOU LAUGHIN AT YA… and that gets him to the top of the stairs with a – hold on, hold on, I’m coming. She tells him to kick me the fuck out but I stand there and smile as he ushers her into the living room and we both go into the kitchen: without her.

He sits me down at the table and I ask him when he’s gonna kick that bitch out and get me n Jack in and he just shakes his head so I tell him how mum’s been acting up again, about the men that’re always round; how last week we had to eat dog food and brush our teeth before we went out so we didn’t stink of it, then all he ses: I don’t want you comin round here anymore. His words are slow and me head can’t quite grasp them.

_______I

_______________don’t

want

_______________________you…

I tell him how Jack’s got this part in the school play, I mean, only a small one cos he’s not that good at stuff in front of people but he’s got a couple of lines and everything and I tell him the dates and how he should come with me and watch and cheer him on cos Jack’s never done anything like this before and he’s dead nervous and everything so it’d be good if he could come and he ses: I can’t, Lucy. So I say, well you can send him a card at least, I can pick one and bring it round, you just have to put your name on it and I’ll take it, he’ll be well chuffed: No. Continue reading