Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tarma's Song by Andrew Freudenberg

 Tarma’s song reached out into the Station. With serpentine determination it slithered through the power conduits, slid along the narrow walkways and caressed the bones of the mostly dead. Where once there had been melody there was now none. Any sense of rhythm that the song may have once contained had been crushed by time. There was no longer any vestige of beauty or humanity remaining.
    The song did not come effortlessly for Tarma nor did it come without pain. Born as a mere whimper somewhere down deep in the knotted recesses of her gut, it scraped its way up towards her larynx. On arrival this rotten travesty of an organ gave it some volume and a modicum of form before forcing it on its way. By the time it crept over Tarma’s black and broken teeth it was as much moan as mantra. She threw back her head and just let it come.

     The best part of two full centuries had passed since her mundane birth four and half billion miles away. That this twisted creature was ever an innocent human child, a thing of beauty and hope, seemed impossible to reconcile with her current reality. Time, always a cruel mistress of decay, had been allowed to play for too long.
   At first glance, if there had been anyone present to make the erroneous observation, her skin appeared to be smooth and dark. On closer inspection the many harsh repairs became more obvious. Her dusky complexion was actually a patchwork of dried meat and knitted polymers, a collage of finely grown synthetics interweaved with the dead remains of her own flesh. The finer parts of her face, nose, ears and lips, all had become contorted by the excess surgical attention that they had received. Her fingers were claws, permanently splayed on shaking hands that she could only clutch closely to her chest. One eye stared blindly and endlessly, the lid lost some years before. The other was a swirl of unnatural colour that held little promise of sight but in fact retained some function. The synthetic surgeons deserved praise for this small miracle. A few clumps of grey hair remained, unruly outgrowths amongst the scars on the bumpy savannah of her skull.
  Sanity and self awareness had begun to fade fast as she passed the century mark leaving little but animal instinct. The machines dispensed necessary nutrition and cleaned up after her, leaving her free to roam aimlessly as she pleased. She had become not much more than an ailing pet.
       Of course eleven healthy adults had not been sent so far from home without some faint hope of return. Failing that, the crew had been assured, more flights would be bound to follow. Events had turned good intentions into lies and history had left them to die slowly in their remote prison. Disease and degeneration had eventually claimed half a dozen victims and suicide had killed another three. Then there were two.
    Eventually Tarma’s song would wake Luiz from his fitful nightmares. Luiz’ groans would bring a faithful server to his side, stimulant injections at the ready. Once these polluted his blood stream he would follow the sound of the song as fast as a man with no limbs or sight could possibly manage. He had no more idea of why he did what he did than she. His conscious mind had lasted several decades beyond hers but eventually the ministrations of the medical minions had left him equally damaged. Their skills at prolonging the human body were almost supernatural but the inner spark eluded their touch and in the end its extinguishment was no small mercy.
An hour of writhing and rolling bought him, scratched and exhausted, to the floor of the observation chamber where Tarma performed. With an entire wall made of glass the view of Neptune below them was magnificent and the blue planet bathed them in an azure glow that only she could see. He would join her in duet, his song a scaly baritone barrage of unrecognizable curses and spittle. Together they would spend the day howling of their lost humanity to the swirling clouds below.


Andrew Freudenberg is amused by darkness so he writes about it. His work can currently be found causing trouble in anthologies from the likes of Knightwatch, Rainstorm and Angelic Knight Press. He lives in the South West of England where he is raising a small army of boys and attempting to create ‘longer stuff’.
‘Tarma’s Song’ was originally featured in ‘Kizuna: Fiction for Japan’. Please check it out!
Copyright 2011 Andrew Freudenberg

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The old man sat in his wheel chair looking over the snowy fields. He was covered in blankets, but he was still cold. His body trembled. 
 There was a baby out there. It was dark but the moon was full. It lit up the fields like a parking lot. There was a baby out there. He had seen it crawl out of the darkness and he had been watching it slowly make its way to his house.
At first he wanted to get out there himself and help it. But then he came to his senses. What was he going to do once he got out there? Nothing. He was too old. They would both end up freezing to death. So he sat there and watched and tortured himself with guilt and a whiny sense of uselessness.
A couple more hours passed. The baby was still out there and it was still alive, still crawling, making its way through the deep snow. Where did it come from? The old man wondered. It was a strong little bastard. That was obvious. God only knew how far it had traveled.
He felt silly just sitting there, waiting for the baby to come to him like that. What if the baby had no interest in him? What if it just walked by? The idea depressed him.
He felt tired. Eventually he dozed off. His head fell back and he began to snore and his breath turned to steam in the cold air. He didn’t wake until the baby was at his feet.
“What the hell do you want?” the old man asked him.
“I’ve been crawling around for days,” the baby told him. “You got any food in there?”
The old man looked at him suspiciously. The baby was being pushy. He didn’t like that.
“Come on, I got money,” the baby told him. “I got like two grand in my diaper. You got any whisky in that big old house? You got any pussy? I bet you got a ton of pussy in there. Farmer pussy. I bet you got like a whole heard of tough ass farm chicks in there.”
The old man didn’t say anything, but the disdain he felt was obvious.
“Forget you,” the baby said.
The old man watched as he crawled away. God damn, he thought. What the hell’s wrong with kids these days?


Justin Grimbol went to Green Mountain College for thirty years. He majored in Partying and Dry Humping. He is the author of DRINKING UNTIL MORNING and THE CRUD MASTERS

Copyright Justin Grimbol

Monday, February 25, 2013

Artist, Genius, Sorcerer by G. Arthur Brown

The cover of the text appeared to have droplets of water on it, so, using a napkin, I made an effort to wipe them away. I was shown to be a fool, for these were not water droplets at all, but merely an effect of the cover painting. I flipped through the internal notations, finding the artwork credited to one David Caldwell. A painting this convincingly three dimensional requires a considerable amount of skill. One of two conclusions would explain this:
A)    David Caldwell is a genius.
B)    David Caldwell is a sorcerer.

This is not an exclusionary disjunction, I decided. He might be both a genius and a sorcerer. But I was forced to consider that, although I did not know much of sorcery, it could be presumed that a work of three dimensional art is not an incredibly difficult thing to create by sorcery, so I deduced that if he were a genius, he was likely not also a sorcerer.

But upon formalizing this note I reconsider. As a hypothetical sorcerer operating in a society that does not readily acknowledge the existence of said black art, perhaps it would be ill-considered to commit acts which could only be accounted for by sorcery, thus giving up the game and revealing the true nature of his powers. It would then seem that an intelligent sorcerer may use his arcane abilities to produce three dimensional works of art that might otherwise be assumed to be created by non-sorcerer geniuses. If this is correct and he is a sorcerer, then he is likely a genius.

A conclusion would require further research.

His small terrier dog was harder to apprehend than I had presumed. Presumption has shown itself, once again, to be my undoing. In the process I was bitten numerous times. It becomes far more difficult to retain one’s composure when one is bleeding into the flowerbed of a well-known artist, possibly also genius and/or sorcerer. The prospect of climbing back over the fence was more and more daunting after each dog bite on either my hands or ankles. Surprisingly, the dog was able to lull me into a false sense of security in several instances, at which point I would bend over and try to snatch up the small creature. This is when he would occasion to bite my face.

The dog could be the familiar of a sorcerer. Conversely, it could be a rambunctious terrier dog attacking an invader of its home territory. It was, without a doubt, the most cunning animal I have ever encountered during my research. But could this be accounted for by mere innate animal intelligence? A conclusion would require further research.

Upon eating the dog’s heart, I was unable to come to a confident conclusion in the matter. It had taken considerable time to light Caldwell’s grill, and shortly after I had worked out the organs of the tiny beast, someone had alerted the police to my presence. In my head I am marking the case as open until I can complete the necessary investigation. As I fled the scene, I wondered if Caldwell also had a cat or a parrot or, possibly, a large lizard like an iguana. Hamsters and the like have such small innards that I have never found them useful in my scientific inquiries.

Copyright 2013 G. Arthur Brown

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lucky Number 13

Kitten just received its 13th 5-star review on Amazon (including that delightful one by R.A. Harris on Amazon UK).  Tamara Romero, author of the exquisite Her Fingers, was the benevolent woman who pushed the number to the threshold of the weird, the number 13. 

Here's the review:

Trust the buzz, adopt the Kitten, because what everybody says about it is true. This is the story of a silly kid -like most children- that can't even understand that his kitten is not a kitten. His pet is a lovely, upright and adventurous thing that vomits coloured stamps. The boy's mom is an evil woman who wants to get rid of the kitten. Oh boy, they have enough trouble at home. Her life is already too complicated. So the kitten will end up in the hands of the Collector and travel to the Steel Planet. Luckily you always make new friends when you travel around, and so does the kitten. He will get a name, a decent cat condition and lots of hanging out with a knight with fish-hands. All this sounds crazy, I know, but G. Arthur Brown will take your hand and drive you smoothly so you don't faint. My personal highlight is a very particular retelling of children stories: the pee baby. We want more pee baby stories, G.

Thanks, Tamara!

Trust the buzz!

Buy Kitten now (also for Kindle). 

Interview of Sara Genge

I was checking out what the fantasy and science fiction market was like, one day, when I happened upon "Seagull Girl's Butterfly Tongue" by Sara Genge in magazine.  This story was not like the other stories in the magazine.  It was surreal--dare I say, even a bit psychedelic. It dealt with zombies, but not like any zombies you've ever met before.  The only thing I could I even think to compare this amazing writing to was the work of Kelly Link, which also subverts my expectations about zombies.

So, with the help of my local library, I was able to track down a few more of her stories in anthologies. And with the help of facebook, I was able to locate Sara herself.  She indulged me by answering a few questions, in between her saving the world and learning yet another language.  

GAB: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

SG: I'm a Spanish-American neurologist living in Stockholm. I am currently learning Swedish (willingly) and forgetting French (involuntarily). I have moved more than eight times in the past year and a half and would really like for it to stop now.

GAB: How long have you been writing?

SG: I started writing speculative fiction during my fifth year of medical school in Paris, France, where I was an Erasmus student. My neurology residency got in the way and I have been writing very little for the last couple of years. Although writing scientific papers takes the edge off things, the craving for writing fiction is still there.

GAB: Why do you write?

SG: Because it's totally different from anything else I do, it opens my mind to new worlds and it's fun. Also, if you're as busy as I am writing is a form of transgression, you take this time that you have and you use it to do something that's not directly applicable to your life or objectives. I hope my writing is equally challenging to the reader: the function of good speculative fiction is to confuse you a little and help to lever you out of your standard mindset if only a little bit.

GAB: Do you consider yourself a genre writer?

SG: I barely think of myself as a writer, much less one with adjectives. I'm a neurologist who writes, or a writer who does neurology, or a language student, or someone with very poor command of Swedish inverted word-order. All these things happen at the same time, or flash after each other in rapid succession. Some days I can barely write in any language and have to think hard to figure out how to say something in my mother tongue, whatever that is.

GAB: Who are some of your biggest influences?

SG: Ursula LeGuin, Scott Card, Frank Herbert. I've also been compared to Octavia Butler although I hadn't really read much of her stuff until after I was a published writer. I think critics tend to compare female writers to other female writers, so LeGuin and Butler get dragged out a lot.

GAB: Who are some of your favorite authors?

SG: See above. And Shakespeare is God, of course.

GAB: Do you have anything new coming up?

SG: Not coming up, but I've actually started writing again and have a story in the works (I'm back, baby!). It's set in France but the society is going to be sustainable and very Swedish. Except that the food will be good.

GAB: Can we find any of your writing online?

SG: All over the place. The Daily Cabal page is still up, even though the project has been terminated: it published microfiction five days a week and I contributed to it for some time. My stories are still up there. Drabblecast has podcasted some of my fiction. "Godtouched" is available in the Strange Horizon's archive, Transcriptase has two of my stories Family Values is in Cosmos Online And of course, if you want to build your own anthology, there's always Anthology Builder.

GAB: What’s your favorite film?

SG: Apart from Spanish films which you probably never heard of? (Sorry, still need to mention one: Amanece que no es poco, get it with subtitles everyone. If you don't understand anything it's ok: surrealism, nobody does).

GAB: What’s your favorite musical artist or type of music?

SG: I love Ben Harper. Lisa Ekdahl has a great voice and sings in Swedish, which is great practice for me. Nina Simone makes me shiver. Leonard Cohen's last album was absolutely spectacular and also recommend going to the concert, the best I've seen from anyone over 70 (honestly, from anyone ever). Yeah, I'm not very hip or literate as far as music goes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Encore by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Thirty deep black strands of hair from the bedroom carpet.
            I am collecting what remains of my beautiful Zhao-shi, just days ago murdered by her defective heart.
            Before her passing, Zhao-shi was capable of flight. Toured the world as part of the Dynasty Circus—The Suspended Woman. 747’s her daily commute. Paris, Tokyo, London. Seldom earthbound, whether borne by flying metal behemoths or her own luxuriant hair.
            Acrobats, contortionists, fire eaters—none matched her radiance.
            Fifty hairs entangled in her brushes (I’d combed her hair for an hour before calling the paramedics; held my face to it, swallowed its cherry scent).
            She was the girl with feather bones, floating before red backdrops, her arm-length purple-black hair tied tight to a silken blue rope, arms and legs fanned, swimming against gravity, winning. I would watch for the drift of butterfly dust crossing the stage-lights’ beams.
            Could I sleep, I would pray this image into my dreams.
            Twenty-seven hairs from the shower drain, gently washed until they squeak.
            I’ve been offered dope and therapy. Her friend Bai, equally confused by Zhao-shi’s early death, even offered me sex as sympathy.
All are empty solace.
            Seventy-two hairs on her clothes.
            Zhao-shi’s been dead three hundred fourteen hours as of…now.
            Time will slide past like nothing, then constrict; every second is suddenly stark, cold. And lonely like I’d never imagined.
            It’s all quicksand. Just a matter of how long I can drift.
            Ninety-four strands are hiding, entwined with silvery party tinsel, coiled around the motorized carpet-scrubber in our vacuum.
            The tensile strength of a single hair fiber is equal to copper wire.
            There’s not enough left of her for a hangman’s knot, but any knot will do.
            The chair topples beneath me. I hover for a moment before gravity asserts itself.
            Although I can’t breathe, I taste the scent of cherries.
            Zhao-shi holds me again.
            We float home.


Jeremy Robert Johnson is the Wonderland Award Winning author of WE LIVE INSIDE YOU, the cult hit ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE, the Stoker Nominated novel SIREN PROMISED (w/Alan M. Clark), and the end-of-the-world freak-out EXTINCTION JOURNALS. His fiction has been acclaimed by authors like Chuck Palahniuk and Jack Ketchum and has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. In 2008 he worked with The Mars Volta to tell the story behind their Grammy Winning album The Bedlam in Goliath. He also runs indie publishing house Swallowdown Press and is at work on a host of new books. For more information you can access his techno-web presence at the cleverly-named

This story previously appeared in Cemetery Dance and the collection We Live Inside You.

Copyright Jeremy Robert Johnson

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ourselves by Caris O'Malley

Setting fire to the forest was such a good idea. It was all of those campers. So happy, so content. Roasting their fucking marshmallows over open fucking flames.

Open fucking flames.

The flames were what did me in, I think. Their light, their beauty. The doctors, the police insisted that I ignore the call. But what would the play be like if Romeo spurned Juliet and fucked Tybalt instead? Because that’s what they wanted me to do with this job building things and clearing out footpaths for lazy hikers so that their cigarette butts wouldn’t set the brush aflame. They wanted me to come out here every day and fuck Tybalt. Fuck him right in the face as Juliet watched, horrified.

My adultery only lasted a short while. They processed me, dressed me in this silly uniform and sent me out into the wilderness to face the bears and the trees and the people- oh, the awful fucking people- without so much as a match to keep me warm, nothing at all to protect me from the elements and the animals and my inescapable fear of being alone.

It’s ironic, I think, that my job provided me with the inspiration necessary to land me in my current predicament. I’d never made love to my muse in a forest before. It had always been behind closed doors and in secluded alleyways that we met for our trysts. She’d dance, slow and sensual, until she peaked, spreading her joy all around, lighting the world with her brilliance. Once you’ve had Juliet, no silly boy will do.

My day had been spent with shovel in hand, clearing away the fallen leaves near a popular camping space. I’d say which one, but that might amount to a confession if these words are ever discovered. As I see it, that much isn’t likely, but stranger things, I’ve been told, have happened.

Getting the materials was surprisingly easy. I’d hung on the periphery of a couple’s vacation spot and listened attentively as they attempted to set up their tent. The two of them were having some trouble agreeing on the best way to construct their shelter, which resulted, as most arguments do, in the gentleman storming off leaving his lady to stamp her frustration in solitude.

He was my choice. Making my way through the underbrush, I spotted him not far from his camp, swearing and furiously lighting a cigarette. I was going to ask him for matches or, as the authority around the park, I could confiscate them in the name of security. But, as it was, my authority was unnecessary. 

“Hey, man,” I said. “Sorry to be lame right now, but can I bum a cigarette off you?” I wiped my brow, doing my best to look stressed and tired, attempting to turn my exhilaration into anxiety. “I forgot mine at home this morning.”

He grumbled, but fished one out from his pocket. I took I from him and placed it between my lips. He held up his lighter- oh, his lighter- I could have fucked his hand right then and there- and lit my cigarette. I closed my eyes and pulled my lady’s warm perfume into my lungs. She felt so good. 

“Thank you,” I said with sincere gratitude. He grumbled something and wandered off back toward his camp. It was clear to me that the flame, in her brief appearance, had relieved him of his tension. It happens like that early on. I felt a pang of jealousy, but dismissed it just as quickly. No man owns my mistress. She gives what she gives and we should be thankful.

With a spring in my step and a song in my heart, I pirouetted into the forest, relishing the sunshine, the open air, and the wrongness that tinged the whole situation. The police wouldn’t like this. Lady Capulet wouldn’t like this. But I had my love and my love had me and everyone else could go get fucked.

I couldn’t hold it if for long. As soon as I saw a soft, inviting bed of leaves, I dove in. Piling the leaves on my lap, I built a nest for my lovely. As I set the cigarette in the place I had prepared, I could tell my lady was pleased with me. She flickered to life and danced, consuming all I had provided for her within seconds. Feeling the bite of her love on my thighs, I leapt out of the way. My lady didn’t always know her own strength.

She took to our bed like a ravenous animal, tossing and turning, spitting and leaping. Soon enough there was nothing more. But she needed more. I frolicked and jumped about the forest, kicking more and more into her glow. She grew bigger and fiercer and needier. She wanted to play. I constructed a line of leaves, like gunpowder leading to a dame in a western movie. Mine wouldn’t lead to her destruction, though. No. Not my lady. Nothing could destroy her. She was as old as time itself.

My trail lead to a work shed. It was an insignificant thing in her view, but, then again, so was I. And she still loved me.  After piling the dead limbs of trees against the walls like a lean-to, I hid inside and watched from the windows. She was coming. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent, so was I. My hands had taken on a life of their own, pawing against me, urging me to find relief before my lady was near. 

I only had to last a few more seconds, a couple of minutes at most. But my hands were sabotaging me. Such large and beautiful flames would soon be on us and they wanted to paw me into uselessness. I forced them away from my crotch and made them help me remove my jacket. I had to render them useless or they would ruin everything. I tied the sleeves of the jacket together and fastened all but the top button. I felt pleased as I pulled the jacket over my head like a t-shirt and forced my arms into the sleeves. They were snug and secure and they couldn’t have reached my crotch if they’d wanted to. 

And then, as quickly as she had ignited that first cigarette, she was on me. Smoke poured into the shed, seeping in through the spaces between the planks. I leaned backward against the wall, nestled among the extra rakes and shovels and felt my lady enter the structure. Her beauty blinded me, scorching my eyelashes. I turned my head away, playing coy and trying to stop the burning. The feeling was great, but I had to see her to reach my own crescendo. 

I felt her rough touch on my shoulder. “Hey!” I cried out. She was usually more careful than this. She didn’t usually make contact with my body. It simply wasn’t necessary. She touched me again and her hand stayed, making my jacket smolder. I reached up to pat out the flame, only to find that, in my homemade restraints, I couldn’t. “Ow!”

“Ow” was our safe word. In the past, whenever she heard it, I was allowed to leave, to run off into the night before anyone caught us. But she wasn’t playing by the rules. Her love was spreading all over my back and my hands could do nothing but struggle against the knot that only grew tighter with each effort. 

I dropped to the ground and rolled like they’d told us to do in school. My lady saw what I was doing and got excited. She ignited the leaves on the ground of the shed (which I hadn’t yet seen) and turned the entire building into her furnace. Her uterus.

When I realized, finally, where I was and why she wouldn’t allow me to depart, I almost cried with joy. She was allowing me into the inner sanctum. She was prepared to give all of herself to me. I laid still, making sure that I felt every touch, every sensation. Her bites hurt, but that was just a part of the game. She loved me and I would take anything she was willing to give. 

I stared at the ceiling, lost in her brilliant orange stare as she took me. Her Romeo. I could hear the sirens coming. Her family, they would never understand. She’d die to.

The hoses were turned on us. I listened as her life was extinguished, then let go of my own. Star-cross’d lovers in Yosemite. Lost to the world and dead to everyone but ourselves.


My name is Caris O’Malley. I am a writer, a horror film aficionado, a librarian, a dad, and kind of an asshole. I ride a fixed-gear bicycle with but one pedal and, occasionally, wear a hat. You can find my book, The Egg Said Nothing, on

Copyright Caris O'Malley

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Baby with Monster Truck Wheels by Shawn Misener

The baby has no legs.  Just monster truck wheels.

She rolls around the yard, fifteen feet high.  Nine months old, such amazing control.

Grandpa sets up some things for her to crush.  The old Gremlin. Al's doghouse.  That dilapidated barn.

Baby has the spirit.  We can hear her cooing from down here. Under the porch.

We start to wonder if the electric fence can hold her in.   She's taken to killing the sheep and sucking them up with a drain pipe.  The once cute baby noises now sound monstrous.

Somebody needs to call Frank.  The pediatrician who fixes cars on the side.

If there's a storm rolling in we might be able to make a break for it.  She's bound to run out of gas one of these days.

Shawn Misener lives in Michigan.  His chapbooks include Dry Humping a Fire Hydrant and In Your Face(book), and he edits the absurdist blogazine Clutching at Straws

Copyright 2013 Shawn Misener

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where Babies Come From by G. Arthur Brown

I want to kill this baby, but I’m in the middle of making spaghetti sauce and I really feel the need to get it right this time. Earlier in the week I’d attempted spaghetti sauce, but the failure was so miserable that I pretended it was chili.

Another failed attempt could spell the end of my self-esteem. It’s been a hard couple months.

The baby’s mother doesn’t understand. She gets her sauces out of a can or a jar. She doesn’t think we need to kill the baby. I’ve explained it to her. She nods but then a few minutes later she asks, “Do we have to do this?”

The phone rings. I answer it. “Mr. Thusandso? The pictures of your child are ready.”

“I don’t recall taking photos to be developed.”

“Well, they are here. You should come get them.”

I hang up and tell the baby’s mother I need to run down to the photo lab. I explain how she must stir the sauce every fifteen seconds with the wooden spoon. She doesn’t want to do it. “You don’t want to do anything, do you?” I say. “Back in 5 minutes.”

The photo lab is operating out of the back of a Winnebago. I hadn’t noticed that before. I knock on the flimsy, aluminum door. It creeks open to reveal the startlingly aged faced of a female photo developer. “Come inside,” the old woman tells me. The chemicals have made her even more prune-like.

The interior is decorated like a palm reader was the prior occupant. The lamps have beaded fringe, the lighting is dim, there’s an icon of a saint with four hands, palms facing front. That kind of thing.

“Sit at the table,” she tells me, calling from the kitchen area. I sit. It’s a small, round, wooden table, like a fortune teller might use. She strides in, her shawl waving wildly about her. She tosses a packet of photos onto the table. “Seventy-five bucks,” she says.

I open the packet and examine the photos within. They are of a teen boy, his Bar Mitzah. From the looks of the clothes, this happened some time in the 1970s. “I have a daughter. She’s still an infant. And we are Roman Catholic.”

“Oh, some people are very picky,” she says. I feel uncomfortable not taking the photos. She has clearly gone to a lot of trouble, making a dark room in an RV bathroom sink. I hand her an eighty dollar bill. “Keep the change,” I say.

When I get back to the apartment I show the pictures to the baby’s mother. “Oh, this might be the future! Do we have to kill the baby?”

I explain again that the baby is a girl, but she shakes her head and rebuts, “What about the semen?”

I don’t know what to tell her. I had noticed something strange about the baby. It happened the day before. The baby was crying. The teardrops were too thick and cloudy to be normal tears. She was leaking seminal fluid, impregnating herself. They won’t let us spay her until she’s six months old.  I fear that she’ll birth a litter of subbabies, and I’ll have absolutely no time to make spaghetti sauce. And, on principle, we just can’t have that kind of thing going on in this day and age. Bisexualism is only suited to the invertebrates, a relatively well-known scientist told me once.

“She’s still a girl,” I say, but the baby’s mother doesn’t listen. “We are also not Jewish,” I point out. “These photos look like they are someone else’s past, not our future.”

The baby is crying. And I notice that the sauce is burning. The baby’s mother has been stirring the sauce every twenty to twenty-two seconds.

I huff. The day is not starting out how I envisioned it. Now the baby’s mother is crying.  She picks up the baby and shushes her. “Okay, okay,” I tell her. “We can kill the baby tomorrow.” 

Copyright 2013 G. Arthur Brown

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Long John Silver Vinegar Douche Abortion Attempt Situation by Jon Konrath

I skipped my 11:15 Introduction to Anal Bleaching class and went to Long John Silver’s to steal a bottle of malt vinegar as a potential douching solution. I saw something about its alleged prophylactic effects on an old episode of Quincy, or maybe the very special episode of Perry Mason where Raymond Burr got gang-raped by a group of transient railroad workers that drove a railroad spike through his head, Phinneas Gage-style.  It pays to go to a school that actually teaches science classes instead of one that offers associate’s degrees in Chicken McNugget Technology, so you don’t go through life getting all of your reproductive health knowledge from TV shows run into the ground during syndication by fringe UHF TV channels that can’t afford real programming. But it’s not like amalgamating together six different part-time food service and shit labor jobs is going to make the nut on Harvard tuition, so I’d have to scrape by on whatever I could glean from Matlock reruns and obsessive WebMD searches.
A voice mail told me she skipped town to drive nine states away and get an abortion before her “buy five get one free” card expired, but I figured I’d get the vinegar as a backup, in case she got lost on the way and blew all of my money on weed.  When I got to the fake fish store, I saw her twin sister Judy working the cash register, a pudgy, greasy-haired brunette with chronic halitosis, a Dr. Who infatuation and little love for the dude banging out her genetic duplicate.  There’s no way to ethically date twins, I thought.  If you fuck one, you cannot look at the other without thinking about sitting on her face.  Even if I suffered a traumatic brain injury, chemical lobotomy, or a snapped spine with full quad diagnosis, I’d still be thinking about my tongue in her asshole.  Her sister’s asshole.  Whatever.
“I hope you don’t try to steal any vinegar,” she said.  “I know Trudy thinks she can wash her hoohah with it and kill the babies.”
“Of course not,” I said.  “I want one of those ten shrimp gang bang platters.  And some vinegar of course.  And that red shit.  Not the ketchup, the chunky one.”
Staring down Judy in her stupid fake pirate smock only made me think about how to tell Trudy about the aliens.  I knew she wouldn’t believe me.  I wanted to ignore all of it, but now I could see backwards, forwards.  I knew she was out fucking an entire arena football team and spending my hard-earned abortion money on cheap skag and collectible Holly Hobby plates, but I couldn’t do anything about it.  I couldn’t tell her I knew she was going to do it, because then she would do it.  Time travel and women with behavioral problems don’t go together well.
I still couldn’t sleep, the kind of chronic insomnia that would cause a person to write an entire book of poor-selling absurdist fiction about demented nightmares and an inability to sleep, a horror I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. The night before, as I drifted in and out of consciousness, I had recurring nightmares of being in a suicide pact with the pregnant probably-not-by-me girlfriend, and then blowing off my face with a shotgun and living, after she managed to Cobain herself with the same gun. But through some modern science miracle, they scooped out the kid and he lived, and I was forever stigmatized by this mangled Popeye face, plus being known as “the shotgun abortionist,” which would make an awesome death metal band name, but it’s not the kind of shit you want to come up every single time you try to meet a new fuck-buddy online.  And I couldn’t even revel in the pity-grief of the incident, because the girlfriend’s mom lost her hands in some kind of freak dishwasher explosion, and spent all her time one-upping my tragedy.  Plus the not-aborted kid grew up in foster care, and eventually became a late-night talk show host.  Wake up screaming.
“Number fuckin’ 17,” said Bubba, the guy at the counter.  He looked high on Robitussin, and had engine parts from an Evinrude outboard boat motor hanging from giant holes in his earlobes, the latest fashion with the Hot Topic crowd. I vaguely knew him, from all of the times I came in the store buying food and trying to talk to Judy, before I knew she wasn’t Trudy and the two of them were twins. “Hey man, you ever fuck a chick while watching Faces of Death?” he said.  “One time I’m at this whore’s apartment, some chick I met at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and I’ve got three fingers in the pink, both thumbs in the stink, and my dick in her mouth while I’m watching that scene where those fuckin’ dudes are cracking open a monkey’s head and scooping out the brains.  I blew a load in her mouth and thought her head was going to explode like JFK’s skull in that fuckin’ Zoolander film.”
“Zapruder,” I said.
“Gezundheit.  Oh, you might not want to eat any of this.  Everyone on the morning shift fucked the bag of fry batter this morning. It probably took ten loads before we breaded all the fish this afternoon.”
Oh well, consider it a five dollar investment in intel, I told myself.  Besides, eating that shit was like putting sugar in your car’s gas tank, draining the oil, and then red-lining the engine for 45 minutes.  I don’t even think the government legally allows people to consume it anymore in states like California.
I pocketed the vinegar bottle, brought the food outside, and arranged it in a pyramid to signal the aliens.  These fuckers will never find me, I thought.  Then I saw a shift forward through the time colonnades, a 4th dimension view of that arena football team running train on my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend.  I need to escape this world.  I don’t even care about the anal probe thing, just get it done already.


Jon Konrath writes absurdist fiction, and has published eight books, including Rumored to Exist, Fistful of Pizza, The Earworm Inception, and Sleep Has No Master. When he is not writing or creating an environment to foster dust mite reproduction in the form of collecting books, he takes things apart, tries to play bass, and spends too much time on wikipedia reading about obsolete technolog and farming methods of the 14th century. He can be found at or on twitter at @jkonrath.
Copyright 2012 Jon Konrath