Casey Jones and the Naked Hippie
By Newamba Flamingo

The hippie and I walked briskly out of the movie theater, into the moonlit parking lot. Sirens blared as a cavalcade of cop cars, ambulances, fire engines, and media vehicles descended onto the scene. A SWAT team rushed by us in single file.

We arrived to an empty parking space.

“Some sumbitch stole my van!” the hippie shouted, his Mississippi drawl barely audible over the sirens.

“What?” I shouted back, more out of surprise than not being able to hear him, because I did hear him.

“The van! It’s gone! I had all my gear in it!” the hippie screamed, this time even louder.

I realized by gear he didn’t just mean his favorite electric guitar. He meant more his book of acid sheets and tub of homegrown.

The hippie stared down at the ground in disbelief for a good few seconds. His long, curly red hair and bushy red beard blew around in the wind, which seemed to be picking up.

“Over there…” he pointed, across the street, to a dimly lit public park.

He slung the acoustic guitar he’d been carrying over his shoulder and ran across the intersection, through oncoming traffic, into the park’s direction. Cars honked and swerved out of his way. I waited for the stoplight and followed him. Off in the distance, from the movie theater’s parking lot, I could hear gunshots.

The hippie stopped and stood in the sidewalk in front of the park, put down his guitar, and tore off all his clothes.

His tall, obese frame was covered in red body hair. His skin was pale as a ghost, and he had a protruding beer belly that hung so low it obscured his privates. Nearby pedestrians who’d been rubbernecking at the scene across the street shrieked and scampered in terror upon sight of him.

Picking up his guitar, he strummed and sung “Casey Jones” horribly out of tune for about a minute, then took off running into the park. I again followed him.

I heard someone from the park yelling “fuck you!” over and over. The farther we ran into the park, the louder the yelling got.

We ran into a forested area. It was dark. I could barely see anything except the hippie’s red mane and pale flabby ass, between the trees, fading into the distance.

Finally we got to a steep hill and the “fuck you” yelling was now deafeningly loud. The hippie ran up the hill way faster than someone his size should, hurdled over a thicket of bushes, and disappeared into the night. Just after he disappeared, the yelling ceased.

I took a few steps back but stopped when I bumped into something large, warm, and hairy. It was the hippie. He was behind me and still naked and had a flashlight in one hand and his acoustic guitar in the other. He shined the flashlight into his face, under his chin, and stuck out his tongue. On it was several hits of acid. He then withdrew his tongue, shut his mouth, made a gulping sound and smiled.

Then he shined the flashlight to his left. Another hippie was there, who looked sort of like him, red hair, tall, obese, but with a shorter haircut and a goatee instead of a bushy beard.

The other hippie wore two garbage bags as clothes and had plastic shopping bags tied around his feet. The garbage bag hippie began to yell “fuck you” at the naked hippie. Then the naked hippie threw the flashlight at him and proceeded to beat him over the head with the acoustic guitar.

The guitar hummed as it broke over his head. After it completely split apart, the naked hippie bludgeoned him with the fretboard and stabbed him in the throat a couple times with it, too, and, soon enough, the garbage bag hippie looked pretty well dead.

Halting his murderous assault, he turned slowly to me.

“I know who stole my van…” he said, pointing to the hill, the top of which now appeared to be on fire.

“I know who stole my van…” he repeated and he ran back up the hill, into the spreading fire, singing “Casey Jones” and waving his bloody fretboard triumphantly in the air.

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Newamba Flamingo likes dragon fruit, alien abductions, and trying to talk to John Cheever via Ouija board.


Toxic Nostalgia
By Kyle Yadlosky

I have to wear a mask to make sure the present doesn’t kill me. I’m sitting in my apartment, and a grey haze drifts through the window. I’d shut the window, but what’s the point of getting up?
I don’t have cable, so I’m staring off into nothing-at-all. It’s not too bad. My mind keeps me busy. My memories keep me occupied.
Life used to be so good.
I remember I was one of the last kids wearing bellbottoms. Everyone at school called me gay for it. It was eighth grade. Melisa, a school slut, liked the bellbottoms a lot, though. She whispered it in my ear during gym: “I’d like to see what’s underneath them.” It was a victory over every bully in the world that day.
She blew me.
I have those pants in my closet. They hang on the inside of the door, so I can look at them while I get dressed. They don’t fit, anymore.
Industrial equipment sounds from outside. It’s a construction site out there—all around, really. The grey mist is from the wrecking ball wrecking everything. It swings, and there’s a deafening SHATTER. Then, more grey haze wafts in. It’s the mist of what-once-was soaring up into eternity.
I wonder if the workers remember I’m here.
Grey mist—I had a grey mutt. His name was Scout; I named him, myself. That made him mine, even if my mom fed and walked him. We were always together. He’d bark and roll around, and we’d play. I was seven. I lived in a town where no one was afraid to let their kids play alone outside.
Now, it’s dangerous to leave your apartment.
There’s a WHOMP of the top couple floors of a building near mine being wrecked. I’m on the sixth story of an eight story building. The WHOMP is drifting closer. I can hear its steady fall closing in. My eyes go to the ceiling. The visor to my mask fogs up with my every exhale. The WHOMP hits, turning to a CRASH, SHATTER, and BOOM. The light falls from my ceiling and smashes on the top of my blank television. I can see myself, hunched over on the couch and clad in gasmask, reflected in the screen.
There’s a steady sifting sound above. Then, there’s a CREAK, and my ceiling tears back and cracked concrete rubble plummets through, exploding my television to sparks, glass, and plastic.
Now, I live on the top floor.
My television was an old fat-back. I bought it when I was seventeen. It was my first purchase with my first paycheck slinging burgers. I remember I stayed up three nights straight trying to get porn to show on it. I eventually unscrambled the end of a sex scene, saw a nipple, and then the movie had ten minutes of dialogue and ended. The station scrambled again, before anything else came on. I was still excited by the little I saw.
There’s a banging on my door. It’s locked. Workers are calling through, “Are you still in there?” “You have to get out!” “The building’s gonna cave in!” There’s a pause, then, “We can hear you fucking breathing!”
They can. I breathe in that serial killer way through the mask, making sure the fumes of now don’t seep through and change me.
I rented this apartment three years ago. I pulled together all the cash I had working day-and-night as a manager of a burger joint to make the first month’s rent. I’d see this apartment complex driving to work every day, and I’d tell myself I’d live here. It was an exciting day. I felt like my future was opening. That night, for the first time since eighth grade, I found a woman and made love to her. I did it in this apartment.
We made love in my train-shaped bed. She thought it was strange, but it’s a big bed. I got it for Christmas when I was six. This was before my parents were divorced. It was the last time I saw them smile together.
I sleep in it every night, completely at piece.
There’s a yell of, “Shit, we gotta go!” then they’re stomping down the stairs. The CREAK presses the ceiling down; it strains further. I inhale, exhale, and my eyes fog over.
The manager told me four months ago that the complex was being torn down, changed into a retirement village. He told me I’d have to find somewhere else to live. I remember how I stared at him; my eyes shook. I pushed him against a wall and told him, “No.” It was simple and direct, and I marched away.
It was the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
The fact is that a cut on girl’s tongue transmits herpes, men in baseball caps will shoot your dog in the woods, televisions shatter, parents divorce, and hookers charge extra for fucking in weird beds. The place you spent your life working to live will get torn down no matter what you do.
The fact is that the past is and always will be better than the future, because you can forget the parts of the past you don’t like. In the future, the parts you don’t like are all you have to look forward to. I had four months to think about the end of my past, and I couldn’t deal with it. I fought against it.
I breathe in and out more quickly, beginning to hyperventilate. The CREAK turns to a steady RIP. The ceiling is tearing under the heavy slab of concrete property. I stare, and I stop breathing. My vision clears.
For a second it’s silent.
Then, there’s a CRACK and a THUMP and a CRASH. I SCREAM, and the rubble of what-once-was buries me alive.
The fact is that the future will always move on without you.

- - -
Voodoo, sideshows, and a good ghost story—if it’s outside of the everyday, Kyle Yadlosky revels in it. He lives in-between corn fields in Pennsylvania and has been published on Dorkly.com and in Shoofly and Essence literary magazines.


Heart Hunting
By Michael Dwayne Smith

Her name was Emma. She asked if I was from the south, and I wished I was. The way you wish the prettiest girl in high school secretly longed for someone shy, sweet, chivalrous. I was just in from the city, putting down for the night, square to drive out first thing and meet up with old friends, and she was a full surprise.

Emma’s long blonde hair made me tell the truth. She said we’d get along just fine and dandy.

I felt oblong sitting at the table, my sister-in-law Karla angling around the kitchen, half-circling around her three-legged lab. The honey-color down on Emma’s arm captured sunlight from the breakfast nook window. Her teeth were so white, so perfectly sculpted she could’ve been on TV.

When Emma said she was on TV, Karla snorted one of her snorty laughs at the dumb face my raised eyebrows and O! mouth made. They had a confederacy.

Karla knew Emma from college. Emma stole her boyfriend, but they became BFF after Emma dropped out to model, leaving my loser jailbird brother to Karla and her frizzy black hair.

That night I dreamed Emma’s sassy, southern-belle cooter was with me at the triplex. We were sitting on the café patio, a geometry of stars overhead, some constellation I kept trying to recall from school—Orion, I decided, and we were chatting about movies, Chasing Amy, I think. “She” had the same sugar and molasses drawl as Emma, deliriously pink lips, and would call demurely to couples walking by, “How ya’ll doin’?”

Emma’s vulva wanted to know about hearts.

None of the passing lovers thought this was odd. They smiled or said, “Fine, thanks for asking,” holding hands.

In the morning Emma was lying next to me, golden locks curled around the pillow, like silky storybook ribbon.

When she opened her lids, emeralds fell out, but I couldn’t look. I’d stolen away with her vestibule last night while she slept. After we’d made love, Emma, her vagina, and I, I had cheated on Emma by running off and wild with her Eden-naked sugar truffle, without even leaving the guestroom bed. I’d kissed those delicate labia, made those tender promises under the stars—about a future I didn’t really see Emma’s cooter and I could share.

Karla appeared in the doorway, pink robe half-open, carrying a tray of black coffee and burnt toast, sat down between Emma and me. Karla slathered butter with a gleaming knife. Wanted to know, How did I like the heart position?

I rubbed my eyes, asked if this was love.

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As Michael Dwayne Smith, I did not invent the English language, but I have messed it pretty well. Mastermind behind stories, poems, hybrid works found at Word Riot, BLIP, Monkeybicycle, >kill author, Orion headless, Northville Review, Phantom Kangaroo, Right Hand Pointing, Short Fast & Deadly, and wow just so many rock candy stores or stereophonic outlets near you. Lastly, rumor of my being abducted by aliens untrue, though I am a meat Popsicle.


. . . and Void
By T. Fox Dunham

“Particle by particle, I’m flying apart. I see you no more. My eyes dissipate. The protons fall away like dried grapes in the bunch. The electromagnetic charge fades. I’ve lost my Higgs.”

Mars beats his ears till they bleed to block the cry of the worm waiting down the corridor. Quotidian, he is brought to the worm, to lay prone beneath its aphotic face, its rapacious lips that suck and chew. His healer is named The Good Doctor Sullivan. He vowed a cure for chaos gone wild in Mars’s blood.
Athena clutches Mars’s arm, but she can’t feel his skin, muscle bone or hot blood. The chemo burned her nerve endings.
The worm sings down the corridors of Athena’s love, her need. It has burrowed into their flesh, sipped their souls:
Soul seeks sensation.
“Sorry,” Athena says.
“Don’t let them take me,” Mars says.
Nurse Wolfe hunts at the threshold to the private limbo waiting zone of the Oncology Ward. She juts out a three jointed digit and beckons Mars. The mouth waits. The mouth hungers.
Master mouth mutilates.
“It’s not so bad, God of War,” Nurse Wolfe says. “Just a few minutes a day under the black face. It growls, and you’re on your way.”
“Keep me close, Athena,” he says. “Don’t loosen your fingers.”
“My fingers don’t feel your flesh,” Athena says. “I try to hold on, but my arm grows weak. You’re flowing away from me like a melt water stream from the mountains. I long to see mountains again. I can’t climb anymore. My hammer is melted. I’ve lost it.”
The portal vortex sucks his body into the corridor of the Radiation-Oncology department. He holds to her arm for traction, foundation, but her wheelchair yanks forward.
Fingers feel faint.
“If you let go, they’ll shoot their rays and beams through my molecules. I’ll fade and break apart, and my atoms will dissolve and become energy; and the energy will lose form and drift apart to void.”
“Forgive me,” she says. “Or I’ll float in Hades a mindless shade.”
Her hands slip. He collapses into the row of uniform plastic seats, into the magazine table and box of children’s toys. A ratty puzzle box flips over. Its pieces rain on the brown rug, scatter and fall in a random pattern close to the paradigm for which they’d been designed. He discerns a mountain river flowing away in the vision depicted on the visage of the component cardboard motes.
Wanting water wanes.
Mars gazes on the mixed motes, on their inchoate visions, and the image fluxes, changes and rearranges. He views his life before his white cells went wild, when he was not a victim of thermodynamics and chaos. Cancer infects other people outside his borders, characters in books and on telly who were born to be nailed to crosses, to suffer and be called martyrs then forgotten. His crimson hair flowed in wild strawberry fields, now burned clean. He owned his name. They’d taken it, stolen, ripped it away and promised him it was for a salubrious reason of a new healing season.
“I blame you, and I might forgive you,” Mars says to Athena. She’s lost her name, also. “I’ll try to forgive you. I am flawed.”
She turns her wheels and looks away. Her hair has grown chemo, and it glows in the sallow halogen lights like dying daffodil flesh trampled by careless boot.
Nurse Wolfe holds her hand out to him. It curves and flows with snake’s body, grooving and oozing to her triple jointed finger, calling him forward, to face the face that spits radiation lace.
Fear fiery face.
“Find my name,” Athena says.
Nurse Wolfe guides him from the waiting room, down the corridor. Shadows bite his feet. He stumbles when he walks, weakened by the toxins and cosmic rays the healer employs to devour his temple, chipping the marble, smashing the altar and burning the fig leaves laid out for him in sacrifice.
She leaves him at the linear accelerator chamber. Minions in black lead garments lay him on the block of ice. They strip his depleted body and chain him to the frozen table. The worm emerges from the ceiling, vomiting its ebony face, eye lining to eye. In the screen, he sees his future—buried beneath black soil and the roots of an apple tree digging into his flesh. The sun shines on his grave. The snow falls on the grass. No man or woman weeps at his marker.
Leave low love.
“A woman I loved. I remember her. A goddess. Her hair flashes like sunlight and blinded my eyes. The high priests burned away her legs and grafted wheels to her hips. They stole her womb and ripped away her name. I loved her soul, but she is fading. Why can’t I remember?”
Obsidian screen growls. Crimson fingers emerge from the worm flesh and burrow into his forehead. It cracks his skull, drilling deeper, trespassing on his mind and deeper yet. Below it seeks the core of his crystal dreaming. It sucks the marrow of his night reveries, drinking high and wobbling from intoxication. It has no dreams in its manufactured mind.
Dreamed delusions.
Lost loves.
Memory miracles..
The worm soaks him in cosmic rays, curing and killing, healing him if he can endure the holistic poison. He burns anew, hollowed and reset, sans his dreams.
“My molecules rip apart. The magnetic bond breaks. Gravity. Electromagnetism. Strong and weak nuclear forces. The weakest force. She felt so real.”
The worm works. His skin fades, dissipates to chunks of muscle and bone. The chunks break into motes, and the motes spread to atoms. He rides the cycle. Void. Matter. Man. God. Man. Matter . . .
. . . and void.

- - -
T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA—author and historian. He’s published in over 100 international journals and anthologies and writes for Team Obama. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham & Twitter: @TFoxDunham


By Alina Yudkevich

There must have been a surge in piano thievery, and now
the pianos and pump organs are all chained to the wall,
huddled in solidarity against their captor, Ramona -
of Ramona’s Antiques N’ Things,
where I’ve returned
to stare
death in the face.

I run my hand over the peeling whites,
woodgrains that look like they were licked
and dunked in dry, red, Georgia dirt.
I hear Ramona rasp me a greeting
every word out of her mouth creeps along the air
like smoke from a crushed cigarette
She drags her yellowed fingers on the counter,
iron wool on rust. I dread
handing her my money.

The faint scent of brush fire
extinguished summers ago
hangs over the aged books
they’re the shade of shipwreck wood
hidden under desert sands, with skin 
sure to disintegrate under my touch,
and I hate very much when my touch
robs the world of old wisdoms.

Once I was 6 years old here
and I ran my fingers along
bloodstained lunch tins
from the Korean war,
haunted grandfather clocks
from lightning-struck manors,
and chalky cracked-porcelain dolls,
their sinister, uncalibrated eyes
watched me count how many dark secrets
could be hidden under such tiny petticoats.

My mom slapped my hand away
knowing I was six, and therefore had
an inferior understanding of microbiology.
She told me that all the treasures before me
came from one big house – as I suspected.
“Everybody in that house had small pox,”
she said, inspecting a framed cross-stitch cat
“And you’ll get it too, if you keep touching.”

Remembering this,
I note
that some of these books
appear to be ill. Suddenly,
I want to be the clergyman
at an old book’s deathbed.
to be pulled closer by his frail pages
tickled by their slow, yellow flutter,
to say, “Yes, my child?” and inhale
the letters spiraling off his pages
as he gives one last mighty stretch
ripping his spine, liberating pages
to spin and ebb with fan-blown air,
and finally out the window,
free of meaning at last.

I’d feel my new letters dance,
like little spiders on my bones,
and learn to slap my forearm
as though to kill a mosquito,
when the words that formed
under my skin - were misspelled.

bottoms of S’s would join tops of N’s,
making me shiver with oooh’s
V’s flip over, halves of I’s in hand –
the ahhh’s – first, the visceral noises
of overdue consonant combination,
vowels writhe, indecent.
Time and place!” I’d say,
knowing they lack the letters
to craft a catty response

disenchanting books must have
been banished to this very shelf.
shoved between ripped-spine, tea-stain strangers,
whose spurned sentences peel off their pages
like sunburnt skin - chapter headings wiggle out
like the last baby tooth - faded illustrations
smearing like henna caught in a monsoon -

or so I’d imagine. heeding the warning
and leaving dying books unopened, I just-

stopped touching.  An era of no splinters,
and a debilitating phobia of ancient microbes.

And here I am.

“You don’t know where that’s been, baby,”
creaks Ramona.

“Time and place” spells my kneecap
 and I pull my face out of the 1953 Reader’s Digest

- - -
Alina Yudkevich is a 17th grader at the University of Georgia, studying English and Film Studies and working part-time at a particle accelerator lab. She enjoys pugs, video editing, running, b-horror, and exploring the unknown via Google street view.

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