I, Koala Whisperer
By David Edward Nell

The Koala Whisperer tiptoed his way through the darkness. “Right now, I'm in the heart of her habitat,” he started. “She's asleep as a bed bug, which is typical of her kind; this happens to be one of the laziest animals in the world. When this nocturnal creature isn't asleep, it goes on a mating rampage. Unfortunately, I've been told that this one can't have babies. Still, that doesn't stop her. By the way, do you know what they call Koala babies? Joeys. How cool, huh? Bit larger and more wrinkly than she was the last time I came here. But what gorgeous fur. Oh, wait. It's waking up. Guys, I better step off. Too late. She's reaching toward me, getting a well-good hold of my face. Don't you dare scratch me, mate. Crikey!”

She dug in with her long nails, screaming, “Burglar, get away!”

“It's your hubby,” the Koala Whisperer shouted several times over her tirade.

“Brandon?” she said, stunned, and closed her night gown. “Scared me.”

“Well, at least you got out of bed.”

“That an insult?”

“Casey, babe, never.”

“What in the bloody hell are you doing here, anyway?”

“Early release.”

“I thought you're in for life?” Casey asked.

“Made a deal with the judge. Sorry I didn't tell you sooner.”

“What's that you're holding?” She smacked a light switch nearby, saw that his hand was up a dead Koala's hind, using it as a makeshift puppet. “What the f--”

“Kiss me.” Brandon playfully moved its mouth.

Quickly, Casey took the corpse from his hand and threw it out the window. “Sick, rural bastard. I'm so angry, I just want to...” The smack she next delivered set his ears to ring.

“Christ almighty.” Brandon tested his jaw. “I didn't think you'd get this upset. I really, really need that Koala, too.”

“What world do you live in?”

“Relax a bit,” he gently urged. “I know you're angry and all, but calm down. Please. You're the only person I can trust at the moment. Do you trust me?”

“Why should I?”

“I know you love me, Casey.”
“There's nothing between us. You're the one who killed for me, idiot.”

“I never killed anyone, certainly not those boyfriends of yours. I moved on years ago. Seriously.”

“Right. Someone made you do it?”

“I was set up. Can't you see how the world around us is an illusion? Everything we do is surveyed. We're all puppets. I'm a chimney's...uncle and, and...”

“Stop acting like a maniac. What are you trying to say?” she said, shaking him.

“There's these giants controlling us, Casey. Giant Koalas.”

She paused. “What?”

“Can't view them in our visible spectrum, but they've got us, Casey. Up the arse. Like I did with one of their own--and I was doing that because it makes sure they don't track me down.”

“Snap to your senses, man.”

“Pay attention. Remember what happened on that live Christmas special?”

Casey frowned in disapproval.

“Didn't mean to crush that Joey.”

“Of course. Murderer.”

“Ever since then, it's all gone sideways. They make me do things.”

“Maybe you should've been locked up in Derby Mental instead.”

“Sounds nuts, I know. I've got proof, though. Stand in front of the telly with me,” he said, taking her in front of the wall, where the television was indented.

“What am I supposed to be seeing?”

“When it reaches a certain frequency, they appear.” Brandon fiddled with buttons, making the screen change to blackness. As shadows appeared to be materializing, the power went out.

“Smart buggers,” Brandon gasped.

“It's likely these rolling power cuts we've been having in the area lately.”

“Impossible. Must be them.”

There was a knock at the door. “Police,” announced a stifled, stern voice. “Open up.”

“Can you see?” he whispered in horror, looking at his ex like it was the end of the world. “They've got me. They've bloody got me.”
“Don't cause a scene, Brandon,” she told him.

“For you. Just promise you'll love me when I'm gone.”

“Always, Koala Whisperer.”

Then he touched her cheek and left for his fate. “You will never take my freedom, pigs,” were his last words before the officers gunned him down where he stood and dragged his body off without any questions. The blood remaining trailed a path from the passage past her open door, pooled by her feet. Casey looked down, and was unfazed by the sight. She stared blankly at the television, which was beginning to communicate something through fuzz.

“Until next time, Koala Whisperer,” the screen flashed and giggled. “A job well done, my dear. I thought you'd make for an appropriate partner.”

“As long as the sod's done for, I'm happy. I never trusted the bastard,” she said. “Now where's the money?”

“Coming right up.”

So the screen flickered off, having her wait. A faint rattling noise sounded. Looking around, she noticed her ornaments were vibrating, rumbling, and the ground as well, to the point that she was forced to hold the bed for leverage. Something was burrowing its way to the surface. Abruptly, it stopped. Casey breathed a sigh of relief, gained her bearings. Then she yowled. Pain. In her bottom. She gulped, observed what had invaded: a giant, black, furry finger. She could hear a pair of voices from what she then understood was the somewhere and everywhere. She was connected now.

“They always fall for that trick. Fools. Do you think it knows our betrayal, Sister?” said a mopey one.

“Obviously. Look at how frightened it is,” replied the other, more shrill in tone.

“What should we do with it?”


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Having spent years trying to evade the Equestrian mafia, David Edward Nell now writes from a nameless hideout in Cape Town, South Africa. By night, disguised as numerous pop culture figures, he can usually be found scouring the African plains for loving. Stalk him at http://davidedwardnell.blogspot.com, but keep this a secret.


By Catfish McDaris

On the lam from a marijuana beef, the state north seemed more favorable to my predicament and behavior. Radical. Outrageous. Entirely without redemption or qualm.

The old Argonaut Hotel in Denver sat empty, semi-condemned across from Argonaut Liquor on Colfax Avenue. Every wino, bum, hippie, hobo, hooker, and hustler scored booze there.

Promising the landlord to fix up his building, we started the first in-town commune. As one of the founding members and most lucrative pussy getting smokable drug dealer, it’s appropriate that I relate the following events surrounding my inhabitation of the above mentioned den of inequity and the catastrophic calamity.

I would ask you to let me remain in the shadows, as the statutes of limitations have expired on most of my supposedly criminal acts. Especially since many of our past politicians have smoked dope. So I’m not considered such an outlaw anymore.

There were many drugs used there. Orange sunshine, blue cheer, purple microdot, blotter, chocolate mescaline, magic mushrooms, and peyote: all doorways to madness gladness sadness. Skeletons dancing from closets, Timothy Leary’s ghost, Jerry Garcia grateful and dead. Save the ladybug. Talk to plants. Pet rocks. Free love. Jail hate. Blow jobs. Tuna fish. Smoke morning glory. Climb trees. Fuck pigs. Save green stamps.

Life/Death. Papa’s little squirt. Yo mama’s titty. Uncle Sam’s penis. Worm food. In that order.

California falls into the Pacific. Hollywood is Atlantis. Calling Aquaman. Saguaros surfing with Joshua trees. Arizona beaches. The world is a small turd circling a ball of fire. Lucifer is drinking Mad Dog and playing God’s pinball machine.

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Catfish McDaris has been active in the small press world for 20 years. He lived in a cave at a nudist colony and in a Chevy in Denver an entire winter. His biggest seller is Prying: with Jack Micheline & Charles Bukowski. His newest chapbook will be Eating Raw Jackrabbit & Snorting Black Cocaine.


Brown Leaves
By Victoria Slotover

You sleepwalked through the flaky brown leaves, flimsy as moth wings, as they put me to bed and covered me with a dirty blanket which made me think of that quote from Hamlet. Remember how grey the sky was, colour drained like you, we both worried it would start to rain before they’d tucked me in.

You’d left your umbrella behind, not that you cared about getting wet, in some ways it seemed right to you that the heavens should open, as indeed they had. The others had huddled under unruly black brollies which made us think of flapping crows. You were the only one who wanted to feel the downpour wash you clean, or was it that you wanted it to wash you away, I wasn’t sure? They tried to move you along but you wouldn’t be hurried, you wanted to become part of that earth as you had become part of me and the truth is, right then I wanted that too.

I watched you, shoulders hunched and shaking, and reached out to touch you. You shivered and a ripple of cold worked its way to the fingertips I longed to hold. Funny then that your thoughts rose like steam above your head. I floated towards it and shared your memories with you even though you weren’t there to share them with me.

I lived again our first kiss; the feel of your lips moist with Merlot and tasting of black fruit, pressed firmly against mine, and in that kiss every kiss since- as we walked in the bluebell woods with your spaniel at our heels; on our wedding day, private yet public; after Mary was born and lay swaddled in my arms and of course our last kiss when you took my breath away, as in fact you had every time.

And in those memories, other memories of a life together; the coffee cup you put by my bed every morning before you left for work, the dregs of cornflakes that never made it down the drain, the ticket stubs buried in your suit pocket, the dress you gave me last Christmas that hangs empty in my closet as though stood up for a date, my trainers abandoned and useless by the treadmill you complained I didn’t use enough and the dog-eared novel on my nightstand whose ending will be one of the many things I will never know.

Then the other thing you think I’ll never know but that in fact of course I do- how much you love me, how much you’ll miss me, now, later and always but what you don’t know and I do is that you will love and be loved again. Your freckled hands that I know as well as my own, will hold another’s, your arms will coil around her in the dark as you kiss her just, yet not quite just, as you kissed me.

You look cold even though the fire’s on. You’ve tucked your hands between your thighs and the tip of your nose is pink. There’s a mug of tea on the floor beside you, drink it before it goes cold too. I kiss your forehead and your shiver shudders through me. I must stop touching you; it’s not helping either of us. I wish you’d eat something, darling Mary’s loaded the fridge with soup and casseroles, there’s no excuse not to look after yourself. You turn away to face the wall as if trying to block me out. Maybe you are. Maybe you should.

The leaves littering the lawn are still brown and the sky is still covered with dust but soon the sun will shine through and you will drink your tea.

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Victoria Slotover writes fiction for Mumsense Magazine and her short stories have been published on The Writer’s Hub, Short Fiction Collective and in the Ham & High as well as being accepted for publication by Bartleby Snopes and Families Magazine.


By C. Wait

When I was in the sixth grade, I stitched my mouth shut. I took my grandmother’s sewing kit, heated one of the needles until it burned my fingers, and slipped a piece of thread through the tiny eye. I felt the heat of the needle puncturing the flesh on my lips. The contact created wisps of black fog. They flittered, almost like candle smoke, from my mouth and into the still air of the bathroom.

Can you picture it? Picture the blood that spilled in neat lines from my mouth? Picture the skinny white thread that slowly turned red?

The EMTs came and I wanted to tell them just how much it hurt. Not the stitches but my self. My body. My being. I wanted to tell them, but Grandmother kept screaming at me to stop complaining and I’ve been mute ever since.

I really like you. You have soft hair like I remember my parents having. You remind me of them a little. Do you like me, too? I wish you would. I wish I could talk to you but I’m still so mute.

The doctors said stitching my mouth shut was a call for help, that I wanted attention.

I used to stare at the white dotted scars around my lips and wonder what the hell kind of doctors they were. If this was a call for help, how was I to cry out? How to scream? Was I to throw myself from a bridge or hang myself in a closet before I could make them understand?

I still have the scars from the stitches, even ten years later. My body has matured, my hair has grown long but the dots remain. Can you see them? Can you see how they connect and overlap? Can you imagine the pattern they once made? Look closer.

The only way to truly see is to close your eyes.

There. Do you see me now? I am just like you. A pattern of white dotted scars, stitched together by cheap, broken thread, threatening to unravel as soon as the wind changes direction. And how quickly it does. I have stitched my mouth shut one hundred times more but the thread always falls out and only the scars remain.

The thick white dots. The raised lumps and hardened tissue.

I really like you. You wear the same clothes that my parents used to wear. I don’t remember but I have a picture of them. I used to have lots but I burned them all because they kept staring at me even though I knew they were gone.

Because what good are eyes if not for arms to embrace? What good are mouths if not for the words that escape them?

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C. Wait is a born and bred Vermonter who now spends most of her time wandering around in the New York metropolitan area.

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