By Liam Lawrence
3:20 A.M. Distant memories plague, locusts on the wind, never ending beyond a point of no other change or possibility besides the ones that seem implemented into the unconscious.
A three year old baby girl, blond, trapped in a well that looks more like a sewer pipe and the harsh camera lights cheapen the rescue; a desire for sewer drains and so on to be as nice as the ones in New York, because living down there would be quaint; a woman giving birth to a sludge-covered demon child and mom not bothering to change channels and the age is three, also, maybe even four.
Memories so vague, yet the visual so vivid, and it allows for potential assumption that the experience had occurred just moments ago, and these memories become haunting revelations that only seem to exist as a reminder of a life before now, an existence otherwise unimagined.
Where has all the time gone?
A teenage girl’s life taken by two boys, who only treated her as a friend to aide their own morbid curiosity, which led to them shooting or stabbing or beating her to death, leaving her body in a field and going to eat at a twenty-four hour diner that serves breakfast day and night – which can never be visited again – and returning later to bury her remains. The field off a back road, and everyone who takes it voicing their remorse with an air of disgust for themselves, that it was almost six days later before her body was discovered, and the consensus was that no one could believe the number of times that road was traveled and in turn having passed her unintended burial site with no knowledge or regard whatsoever - a layer of filth that can never be washed away.
Red eye blinks.
Probably deleted at some point.
Message reads “Sissy”, with an emoticon wink face.
Do not care.
Roll over, disenchanted, neck strained and stomach swollen.
- - -
I am a graduate of Texas Tech University, with a degree in Creative Writing. I call Texas home (for now).
Posted by E.S. Wynn
By Aaron McQuiston
The decision was made, and I was dead. No heart rate. No respiratory rate. The neurons in what is left of my brain have finished firing. The last real memory before this line was crossed was the handgun pressed to my temple. Blood and brain matter and skull fragments are now all over the place. My naked torso sticks to the carpet.
Temperature is more important to me now more than ever. The drop from 37 degrees Celsius to more ambient temperatures can determined how long I have been lying here, no longer a person in a conscious sense. Of course my consciousness left a few hours before I became physiological reactions, but it's too late to think about that now.
I know what happens next. Since my muscles have energy reserves, I use them. My glycogen makes my muscle fibers fire one more time, stiffens everything up, but there will be no way for them to retract, thus leaving my muscles tight and rigid. This will last for about thirty-six hours before the fibers turn to gel and everything really turn to shit.
There is no more pure thinking; there is no more past. Memories of mothers and fathers and friends and lovers do not matter anymore. I am reactions and bacteria growth now. I am a biology experiment. I am a test.
My former life did leave a mark, like the dragon tattoo on my right bicep, the scar from when my appendix was removed, the cut under my chin where I was shaved this morning. It makes me wonder why I well-groomed this morning, only to be face down on the floor this afternoon. If I can meet him somewhere, have him explain the situation that led up to him leaving me behind, to pursue another form of life, I will gladly accept the invitation.
I can speculate to pass the time. Since the bacteria in my intestines in starting to grow and take over, E. coli being an organism that grows better in an oxygen free environment, my abdomen is starting to swell from the gaseous byproduct, I can say that my former occupant had his problems, like everyone has his problems, but not everyone takes the quicker way out. Most people just hurt and live and hurt and live.
After my abdomen has swelled and stretched my skin to the limit, the gas starts to escape, finding routes of least resistance, turning the small apartment into a noxious environment. I start to stink. Now that I think about this, now that the blood inside of me is pooling toward the floor due to gravity and turning my skin purple and black, I should be more upset than this. I should not be in this position, but I cannot let anger and disappointment rule the rest of my short life.
Nobody has come by this room to find me lying here. It has been days. All of the blood splattered around the room has dried. The blood underneath me has fused my torso to the cheap carpet on the floor. I feel sick, but I remind myself that I'm nothing more than chemistry. I will eventually be found, I will be wept over, I will be put in a casket and displayed as a symbol of the person I used to belong to. All that is left of him in the eyes of those who still love him. I will be buried in the cemetery. The process of my decay will not stop until it is complete.
I don't have a lot of time. As soon as the E. coli really takes over, it will eat my organs, transform them into jelly muck. Realistically, the reproduction of this bacteria should not be my only life. I should still have consciousness, should still be walking around parks and watching TV. I should still be having laughs and drinks at bars. I should still be moving, still be using blood to transport nutrients and oxygen to my cells, still be unclamping my muscles fibers, still be living. I try not to be angry, but I am angry. I have been left behind.
I cannot stop thinking about what is happening with the other part of me, the part that left. I hope that he has found happiness, that he has found peace. I hope he has escaped what he was running from, and not living like the gas that is escaping me, continuing to find the path of least resistance.
Sometimes hope can be such a heavy thought.
- - -
I am a licensed respiratory therapist, and I help my father with his painting business. I figure this means when my lungs are shot from paint fumes, I can treat myself. I have a few published stories.
Posted by E.S. Wynn
By Matt Serey
Another light burns out.
It’s getting hard to see, and I need to move across the room to grab my duct tape and a can of food. Can I even make it to the other side without slicing my foot apart on glass? I don’t have anything to wrap a wound up, and I sure don’t have anything to clean it with. I drank all the alcohol ages ago.
Stale. This whole place is stale.
I leaned forward, and peeled back an inch of the tape covering the window. The golden sunrays instantly seared my retinas, and for a moment, I thought I was seeing the light. Goodbye world.
I was not so lucky.
Those little assholes were crawling all over my dying tree in the front yard. The house across the street seemed to be convulsing, with all of them squirming and crawling. They’re everywhere.
I flattened the tape against the wall, and leaned back again.
I’m going to have to leave to get food sometime.
I can’t think about that, not now. I’ll deal with it when the time comes.
I let my eyes adjust to the dim room again.
More and more trash came into focus.
More and more stains.
More and more filth.
So many questions, was I the last person alive? No, I can’t be. I’m sure help is somewhere.
Did my parents make it? Dad made it through Vietnam.
I wonder if my wife will haunt me from beyond the grave? She’d do the same if I tried to break in. I’m sure she understands.
I’m sorry Sarah.
I keep nodding off, thinking I’m dying, and then snap awake.
This repeats for days.
All of the food is out of reach. My stomach is eating itself. The rumbling stopped, I think my insides engulfed them.
Quickly. I have to get over there quickly. Then just snatch up the can, tape, and then back to home base.
I lunged forward. Like a steak knife to beef jerky, the glass wrestled its way into my foot. I stumbled, bounced off of the couch, and crash-landed on the tile floor, right by the can and tape.
My eye caught something by the window. Did I not seal it up all the way? How could I?
The tiny black beetle came barreling through the tape, and was now scampering down the wall. The little black body slipped on the stain my drool made, and it plopped on the floor. Beady yellow eyes shot up from the tiny black body, and eyed me.
It came scampering across the carpet.
I lost it in the darkness. Everything is a black endless pit on the way to the kitchen. Grasping the can, I reeled back.
Then, the little bastard stepped on the white tile, and I launched it. The can smashed into the puny body. The crunching was a gunshot that rang out through the house, and the can rolled away. Red and yellow guts smeared across the tile, as a lone leg twitched feverishly. I couldn’t stare long.
By the window, another one came seeping in.
I sprang forward, grabbing the can again. I tried to find the beetle, as it disappeared onto the dark carpet within seconds.
More came pouring in.
I shouldn’t have left the window; I shouldn’t have opened it. That was stupid. So stupid.
There was a flood in my house.
Hundreds of them.
- - -
I'm currently studying Film at Columbia with a Fiction Writing minor. When I'm not doing school work, I'll usually be off writing or filming. When I'm not writing or filming, I'll usually be off drawing pictures, getting sunburnt, or listening to rock and roll.
Posted by E.S. Wynn
Words of Color
By Carl Foster
There are three things you need to know. One of them you may already know: you may know it so well that you actually know it twice. The meeting. I mean the meeting this morning at Chillicothe Hall, which used to be called the Van Roysterer Syndrome until common sense got the better of the administration and they changed it. The meeting in which they chose the new name was peaceful and clean, and everyone parted with a mind full of love.
But this morning’s meeting, this was worse than letting a Mexican man get the last laugh. It will be a few weeks before I forget the first announcement: “My name is Dwight, and I am addicted to foam.” The man sat down, wiping frothy tears from his lips and muttering to everyone in the room about the composure of rectangles. I shook my head and listened to my thoughts, for I had pegged him as a senescent: Those goddamn fearful, funny polygons will never save you, old man. You can keep making new ones, big ones, every day, with a squeegee in your sand pit; or huffing on a window and drawing them with a q-tip, or screaming them like a folk tale into the plastic slides of every playground we know of... but God will not save you like He will save me. Shapes notwithstanding.
Now I have been around the block. I have been married four times and each time my husband died I draped a cloth over his limpness and sang the Bill of Rights–the long version if he was over sixty. I never thought I would get addicted to heroin, but that was before I had learned how use it. Then it became like my sister, one who is brown and expensive.
Words of color and sensuousness need to be in the back of your mind, just like they are in the back of this memo. Blue, yellow, onion sage Japanese, get out of my face and let me get to work. Good words, like dolorous drifting smoke rings, can stay at the top of your head and look out the windows at the city below. That is why I want them where you can see them easily. Ah, the privilege of composure: does it make any difference whether I enjoy it or not?
The phrase “it’s not” next to the phrase “it isn’t.” While this separate-but-equal negativity encourages the public to direct its own history, to keep threading their lines around the bell of freedom to soften the tone of its death-toll-tolling, it makes for some ungrainy rhetoric.
After a lot more meaningless banter, someone asked me why I was at the meeting. I stood up and looked around with one angry eye fixed on the triple-hued flag by the door. “I’m here to steer this thing out of the hay. These meetings have become long and pointless, like children tend to do. So I want to cudgel you all in a more relevant direction. May I have a volunteer?”
The crowd was silent, not that I didn’t get my share of nods. I asked Louie, “How’s your crow, Louie?” I expected him to say, “Crowy,” but instead he got up and left. He was staggering like a man with a relentless erection who had been summoned to the front of the room. Oh, well, you might say.
It’s good that people pretend not to notice things, which was the case with this heated debate between two sides who were equally powerless to change anything. Internet meals for the handicapped pilots of our corrupted airline system will never work without three congressional decisions, and it does not matter who is talking about them in the meantime.
In the first place, congress must decide whether old people should be mummified alive and then mounted outside the nation’s steak houses, where children will try to land nickels in their eye sockets to get a free horseradish glaze on their chicken strips. And then that money tossed in nickel-form will go towards paying off all footwork done to investigate phony magazine subscriptions.
Second, all the members of congress must spend an entire day learning to watercolor paint so they can be like the Japanese congress–who solved this problem before a sack of meat could fall six feet. By which I mean Jimmy Hoffa should be assassinated immediately.
I would end this memo as I do all my correspondence, with a transcription of the Pledge of Allegiance. But I do not think it is appropriate anymore. I know full well why men don’t want to stand up during it.
That is the third and final report from the hateful little girl who just drank some e-coli on the pier of Delaware.
- - -
Carl Foster is a native Texan who was born in 1984. His favorite book is also 1984, and when he wonders how many people he has met in this life the answer inevitably comes back: 1,984. He lives in a tiny apartment in New Orleans and is currently at work on another chilling tale.
Posted by E.S. Wynn
A Consequence of Copulation
By Stephen V. Ramey
Churly turned. "The maggots in Love's eye will not copulate."
Basco's lips curled down. "What of Hate?"
"The same," Churly said. "Maggots propagate in the meat, but not in the eye."
"This is problematic," Basco said. He pulled levers. Lightning raged between the poles of his Tesla coil. "Problematic. I do not wish to corrupt the meat of Love and Hate, merely their mechanism of sight. Their subsequent blind thrashings will destroy polite society, and I shall be blameless."
"Perhaps...?" Churly said. His face was bulbous and tinged green from certain other experiments.
"Yes, yes," Basco said. "Out with it."
"Perhaps, if they themselves copulate?"
"They themselves?" Frown dented Basco's high forehead.
"If they, you know, do it, perhaps the maggots will get the idea."
Basco pushed levers. The laboratory shook with thunder. "Ludicrous!" he screamed. "Lascivious!" He returned the levers to their set point. "Try it."
And thus were Love and Hate brought to the padded room and encouraged to relate.
"So," said Love, twirling her hair. "Do you come here often?"
And Hate rose up before her, his prodigious member pulsing. "Not really," he said in a voice that recalled Basco's thunder. "You?"
Now Love stood too, breasts heaving. "My first time," she said. A white worm pushed from her eye socket and crawled down her cheek. A black worm came out of Hate's heart.
Sometime later, Basco yelled, "Is it working? Is the experiment a success?"
Churly pulled his face from the peephole. "I cannot tell," he said. "The room is full of flies."
- - -
Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania and edits the annual Triangulation anthology from Parsec Ink. His work has appeared various places, including A Capella Zoo, Daily Science Fiction, and Microliterature. This story began as a prompt at Show Me Your Lits, a web-based group dedicated to literary flash fiction.
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