Monday, September 23, 2013

Pee Baby: The Musical: The T-shirt: The Contest


As many of you know by now, I wrote a book called Kitten. Those of you who read it will also know that Kitten contains a story-within-a-story called Pee Baby. This little gem became so wildly popular with my readers that it only made sense to adapt it into a play. And once you've adapted a two-hundred word story into play, you might as well make it a musical.

So I kicked this idea around with some really heavy hitters in the world of THEATRE (you spell it British because it's art... or atr, rather). None of them wanted to help me out, but they wished me luck in my future endeavors.

Good ol' kcb from Breaking Babb helped me out by designing a great poster for Pee Baby: The Musical. In theory, this would help convince people to take the project more seriously.

We were able to convince Laura Lee Bahr to audition. She sent us a lovely betamax cassette containing a few episodes of Perfect Strangers and the following:
 
Since Laura is incredibly talented and we received no other videos, we called her in for a follow up. Which went something like this:

GAB: Hi, Laura. Is it all right if I call you Laura?
LLB: Yes, but you are pronouncing it wrong. It's Laura, not Luau-RAH.
GAB: (Making a note) Must be a regional thing. You've read the script?
LLB: I did. I'm very excited about it. Playing Young Girl would be my dream.
GAB: You've had experience?
LLB: Weeeeeell, I played Baby No. 3 in the Wet Nap Nightmare at Central High.
GAB: That's not quite what I mean. Have you ever been arrested for urinating in public?
LLB: Um, no.
GAB: Do you have a problem with urinating in public?
LLB: Do you mean, do I have trouble doing it, or is it a bad habit of mine?
GAB: Bad habit? Let's not be judgmental.
LLB: When I pee in public it is usually in a toilet.
GAB: That's great. That's what I had in mind, only hundreds of people would be watching. 
LLB: Um...
GAB: C'mon, you aren't pee shy are you?
LLB: (Flipping through script) I don't remember seeing that.The peeing is all offstage, right?
GAB: You must not have the updated script. See, the running time was only about ten minutes. Turns out I'm not very familiar with writing plays or figuring out how long stuff actually takes to act out. But I had some talented young actors run through it and it was... (referring to notes) ten minutes, thirty-four seconds. Actually shorter than that because they kept messing up and redoing their lines. I had to add some length, but I didn't want typical filler. So me and kcb came up with the urination sequence. 
LLB: I see.
GAB: It's a statement about modern sexual repression.
LLB: Is it absolutely necessary to the part?
GAB: Yes. But you'll be expected to wear a false penis, so no one will actually see your hoo-hah. 
LLB: Does the false penis represent something?
GAB: ... Art. I guess art. You've read Freud right?
LLB: I took some psych courses, yeah.
GAB: Sometimes a false penis is just art. Am I right?
LLB: Okay... Is it attached as, like, a strap-on?
GAB: Yes, strapped right across your face.
LLB: How does that keep people from seeing my, uh, hoo-hah.
GAB: They won't be able to look away from the wonder of a false-penis faced beauty such as yourself.
LLB: I don't think I'm very comfortable with this.
GAB: (Pulling the apparatus from a cardboard box) But you haven't even tried it on yet.


There was a lot less talking after that, because Laura left and hasn't returned our calls.

After talking it over in the john, we decided to abandon the musical and that kcb should simply take the poster design and convert it to a t-shirt, which we had Skurvy Ink promptly produce (fifty-three years later).
It looks something like this: 

You are free to pay CASH MONEY AMERICAN for this hip number that even cool kids like VINCE "FUCKING" KRAMER are wearing.



Sunday, July 7, 2013

What it Means to Mow by G. Arthur Brown



The eyes of Balkan Sam, carrier lunatic, were duple. What this means for future generations is still uncertain, but binocular vision was a particular skill of his. A few people admired and wrote about that. But I’m not one of them. I just mowed his lawn.

I mowed his lawn enough times to really get good at it, and he paid me in lengths of velvet ripped from the robes of long dead chamberlains. Balkan Sam, he’s the left side of heaven, my dad used to inscribe on vans.

I think it was already August. I was mowing and not just for vanity’s sake, but to protect the innocent from the armadas of dangerous tick terror cells that were rumored to be spider-holed betwixt blades of too-long grass hidden in respectable lawns owned by crazy men like Balkan Sam.  Being a hot summer, he brought me a glass of poison lemonade. I didn’t drink it, of course, because I’m not a fucking moron. But I thanked him and I continued my mow.

Mowing is a manly art. Man against Nature in the most primal form you can find in contemporary society. It is man with a large mechanical tool telling nature how to behave, what to look like. The mower I use is a riding mower, but it’s not a tractor. It’s the kind that drives like a tank, the kind that can do a 360-degree rotation. I’m at war with these weeds. And Balkan Sam can see that, so he brings me a lemon-grenade, but I’m not a fucking moron and I know it’s poisonous, so I don’t pull the pin and throw it to blow up the tiny arachnid enemy, who may or may not be couched tentatively under a leaf of clover, waiting to suckle the capillaries of some unsuspecting dachshund who certainly doesn’t belong on Balkan Sam’s lawn, but who tends to end up there when his owner has had far too much mead at the Renaissance Faire. 

It’s like hunting. There is a part of the male mind that needs to sit in silence and fight nature, destroying something living, or at least cutting large bits of a living thing away and leaving them to shrivel and die in the sun. Plants have a whole different kind of existence than do animals. It’s hard to say when they are alive and when they are dead, when they are the parent and when they are the offspring. Balkan Sam comes out and cuts off one of my fingers. He wants to create a rhizome that will grow new hunter-mowers, and you can sell that kind of shit on eBay now.  I’m not a fucking moron, so I don’t care that he cut my finger off because that was my poison finger and I’m not a fucking moron. I’m an adventurer, riding into the thick of a very tiny jungle, as far as five gallons can take me.

Balkan Sam rushes back out, those two googly eyes just googling at me, and tries to fill the tank with poison gas. “Save it for the Texas chambers!” I shout over the sound of some of the best mowing the East Coast is likely to see this summer. It’s already August, I think. I should be done by Christmas. 

Copyright 2013 G. Arthur Brown
Artwork Max Ernst

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Virulent by John Edward Lawson

One day, while gathering plantains, I happened upon a fruit-bearing penis. The thing was roughly the size of an adult, with large fronds and fruit of every type. I at first considered tapping it for sap, but in the end let it be. To ensure that this discovery remained unnoticed I did my best to obscure the path I had followed.
    At night I took women from the village up to that desolate area on the farmland’s border. Darkness hid the nature of the “tree” under which we made love; I felt it prudent to take advantage of such abundant virility.
    Inevitably my scheme was discovered when the women began birthing various fruits. Despite--or perhaps because of--the fact that the fruit was quite tasty (or so I was told) the villagers became unsettled. Roused by such obvious heresy they stormed the farm and burned my prized fruit-bearing penis alive, all the way down to the ground. This in turn ignited the underbrush, and soon the blaze spread to all the farm.
    I have wandered penniless and alone ever since. To this day I cannot decipher whether the plant was a blessing or a curse.
-----




John Edward Lawson has published nine books, seven chapbooks, and over five hundred works in anthologies, magazines, and literary journals worldwide. He is a winner of the Fiction International Emerging Writers Competition, and has been a finalist for the Stoker Award and Wonderland Award. Other nominations include the Dwarf Stars Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Rhysling Award. As a freelance editor he worked for Raw Dog Screaming Press, Double Dragon Publishing, and National Lampoon, has edited seven anthologies, and served as editor-in-chief for The Dream People. Recently he became a columnist at IMJ, covering events in the publishing industry.





"Virulent" originally published at The New Absurdist
Copyright John Edward Lawson
Artwork by Max Ernst

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Tour(ette's) Guide by Shawn Misener

This is my sixteenth glass of orange juice, and the sixteenth glass that has shattered before I can lift it to my mouth. These dry and quivering lips have grown impatient and are threatening to spew expletives in Portuguese.

I am of course naked, my skin sticky sweet and matted with pulp. The walls are on fire, as they should be, my frustration turning dragon. There is a woman in here- I am never alone- but she is fully clothed in Detroit Derby Dolls gear and stands at a modest seven inches tall.

I turn to her and sigh, “Are you the one doing this to me?”

She cackles like a demon, her bellow cutting through the smoke. “Who the fuck do you think I am? That chick from The Hunger Games? Legolas? Cupid? Any old coot with a bow and arrow?”

“I think you are some kind of evil bitch, and I would appreciate it if you crawled up my ass now.”

She languidly sits at the edge of the coffee table and dangles her bruised legs in a violently playful rhythm. “Hmmm,” she muses. “Back where I came from?”

“Back where you came from,” I hiss, nodding imperceptibly.

The South wall crumbles from the flames, thousands of neon embers billowing up and settling into constellations above us. I find myself standing, with a new glass of juice in one hand, the other one flailing behind me, trying to grab her. She is suddenly normal size, no bigger than that, a freakish giant, squatting behind me and working her forearm into my anus.

A disturbingly unreal scream escapes me in the form of a cacophony of cuckoo clocks chiming all at once. . . underwater. The glass again shatters and I use both hands in a poor attempt to extract her from inside me.

Her voice smashes into my earholes: “HOW FAR WE HAVE COME, HOW FAR WE CAN GO, I'M IN THIS SHIT, UP TO MY ELBOW.”

And she's in. The world feels perfect again, clean, delineated by straight lines and Febreeze.

I'm sitting on the couch, watching the fireplace and thinking that maybe this was the most symmetrical and pleasing wood stacking job I've ever accomplished. The fire seems content with its balance. The pictures of my eight children smile back at me, so evenly spaced, so full of goodness. I resist the urge to rearrange them in alphabetical order. The first week of the month is always by age, the second by melatonin concentration, the third by income, and not until next week do they line up by name.

I slowly swallow the orange juice, wishing I had a straw to protect my teeth from the acid. When I belch, it's her laughing. She wants me to check the lock on the door. She wants me to shout random words. She wants me to blink and blink and blink and blink. She wants me to execute the tic where I rub my eyebrows until they bleed.

“COCKSUCKER! TERRIFIC PIZZA! COCKSUCKER!” I yell, jumping from the couch to the rug. I know that she's satisfied, somewhere in there. She's satisfied as hell and she has a cool grip on my thalamus.

------------

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 Shawn Misener
Artwork by Max Ernst

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Karst Topography of the Soul by Mark Allen Berryhill

My wife wanted a picnic—she grew up in the urban blight of Seoul, and the way she told it that city wasn’t exactly rife with prime picnic parkland. Admittedly, there wasn’t much good picnic land left in Springfield either, but I knew about this secluded and manicured stretch of land behind the Wal-Mart on Campbell Street. All of the nearby houses had either been condemned or seized in an act of senseless imminent domain, but that was probably for the better—this area had a nasty sinkhole problem. I suppose everywhere did, but they were especially bad in this neighborhood. You couldn’t walk your dog around here without the earth swallowing it up. I wanted to take photos of abandoned Hoboho camps.

Luckily, I had an app for that. I saw an article on io9 warning of the impending sinkhole apocalypse, back before sinkhole apocalypses were cool, and they recommended a few useful apps for iPhone. So, armed with this little digital safety net we ventured out into this perfectly mowed valley, ignoring the No Tresspassing signs to find a sunny and flat spot close to the biggest tree around, a ginormous sweet gum that had blanketed the surrounding area with those annoying barbed little balls. We figured that the roots would keep the soil together, so we set up our straw picnic mat just outside the ring of gumballs.  Jiddy made  kimbap, a sort of inside out sushi filled with pickled radishes and spam. I brought the finest wine that three dollars could buy, a merlot so cheap that the “t” wasn’t silent.

We had the whole place to ourselves, on one side of the valley sat rows of fortified houses, the owners had spent a fortune safeguarding their property against erosion and errant topographical disasters—but to no avail. The property values plummeted, and the stigma attached to living in this neighborhood became so severe that many of the occupants fled their homes and jobs, preferring to live their lives as indigent peoples—Hobohos whose livelihoods involved scavenging the land for losing lottery tickets redeemable in those online second chance promotions. The Hoboho were also notorious dumpster divers, holding vast open air yard sales with prices so cheap you didn’t mind the inevitable bed bug infestations that came along with the purchase of their goods.

The other side sported a suburban greenway, a curvy stretch of safe sidewalk, potted plants, and ornamental grasses that the still well-to-do jogged incessantly, willfully oblivious to the urban blight on the other side of the ravine.

“How do they mowing here?” Jiddy asked.

 I didn’t have an answer for her. Someone had gone to great lengths to not only make the grass look beautiful, but to also fill in all the sinkholes with large chunks of limestone gravel. For those who didn’t know any better, this area would have looked like any other park.

We talked about nothing, smeared low SPF bug repellant on each other, and ate our food. Jiddy drank half a coffee mug full of merlot to make me happy, while I chugged the rest in a hurry. The three dollar bottle of wine tasted about the same as the nine dollar bottle of wine, but you wouldn’t want either to linger on your tongue. I had to get drunk enough to make exploring the abandoned neighborhood seem like a good idea. If I could stumble upon a mason jar of Hobogris to sell online we could pay our rent for a few months, and maybe, just maybe, we could afford the twelve dollar bottle of shitty wine. Also, I had hinted that it would be cool to plan for some spontaneous outdoor sex, which she seemed uncharacteristically enthusiastic about.

The wine stabbed at my guts and punched me in the bladder. I excused myself to pee and found a clump of uncultivated overgrowth, edged in a safe distance, unbuttoned my pants, and pissed for what seemed like forever. You had to get right up on it, but fast food wrappers, receipts, and plastic bags littered the undergrowth. I made a game of soaking all that shit. I peed and peed, and when I leaned against the nearest tree I put my hand right on top of a six inch honey locust thorn. I had to go so bad I didn’t notice what kind of vegetation I had nudged myself into. A dollop of blood formed on my palm. Looking down around my ankles I saw that the other plants were way worse—stinging nettles and poison oak. Shitness

Jiddy cried out, and I rolled my eyes. Of course. We can’t just have a nice picnic. My first instinct was that the Hoboho had taken her, but I had heard that they were a skittish lot; their jingoistic and superstitious fear of foreigners should have kept them at bay. She yelled again, a slew of Korean profanity I had heard before but she refused to translate for me, for fear that I would repeat the words I had learned in front of her family.

 Which I totally would and she knew it. I stumbled out into the valley, my ankles already itchy and uncomfortable. I could hear her mumbling and cursing, but all I could see was an empty little valley. Fucking sinkholes. As soon as I made it to the green I put away my dick and whipped out my phone.

“Help to getting me down you motherfucker!”

Getting down? The app showed no signs of recent karst activity, although it indicated a 76% probability of a very large sinkhole opening soon. My phone should have sent me a push notification when it went over fifty percent.

“Goddamn asshole! The tree got me!”

And it totally did. That sweetgum tree had her by the ankles. It held her up and regarded its catch. I approached the tree with my hands up, to show that I was no threat.

“Okay buddy, just put her down, we don’t mean no harm.”

The tree creaked and groaned and thrashed about, slinging seedy little balls everywhere. My iPhone chimed. The sinkhole predictor hit 92%. Jiddy squealed. I rushed to the trunk, that big bastard was already in its own hole, the balls had camouflaged its predicament. I quickly find myself up to my knees in sweetgum balls.

“You don’t have to take my wife with you, let her go and I’ll write a story about you, I promise.”

The tree dropped her into the gumball pit and she went completely under. I waded out to her, and thought that if it weren’t for the ticks and chiggers a sweetgum ball pit would be so much fun. I fished around for her, grabbed her by the crook of her elbow and hauled her out. She screamed and cursed at me the whole way.
We retreated towards the greenway trail, watching the tree sink into the earth.

“My picnic stuffs!” Jiddy said as we sat and panted.

“Leave them.”

“This is your fault.”

“I guess. Do you, um, still want to have sex?”

She grunted something I couldn’t translate but totally understood and we started the long and itchy walk home.


------------

When he isn't gardening, Mark Berryhill spends his days exploring complex social issues through fart jokes. 
Copyright 2013 Mark Berryhill 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Blank Slate by Jeremy Maddux

Dear Peeing Boy Fountain of Pacebrook Park,

I know you are terribly busy these days, what with Mr. Weiss who jogs through your vicinity every day and stops to rest on your cusp, and Roma Wheeler who brings her rotten children to your park to play every day while she scoops the coins from your basin. Who can forget the old men who gather to play chess on the bench just beyond your reach, as if using their activity to compete with your own spectacle.

With that being said, I am soliciting your attention for two reasons, which I will now outline:

1) I have spent the better part of my adolescence in your spectrum of being. It was with you that I was first exposed to the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, T.S. Eliot, even Bukowski. The sensation of yellow banner of sun falling over us as I engaged the poet with a sailor’s temperament has never left me, nor the whirlpools of shade that swallowed me as we watched the day end, together. I knew it was where I was supposed to be.

2) Have you seen her? You know exactly who I’m referring to. The woman with the whimsical wardrobe and the tear-shaped buttocks that spurns on animal thoughts in my swelling humanity. I first met her while feeding ducks gathered at your monolith’s bedside. Nothing sets me so firmly on the path of championing animal rights as a woman whom I fear unattainable otherwise. I know she used to traipse through your territory every Sunday afternoon and sometimes Thursday and Friday. We enjoyed many multi-faceted discussions, about the universal consciousness, experiential theory and even capitalism’s best laid trap of corporatism.

I had many chances to ask her name. I could lapse into tangents about unspoken inner narrative, illustrate with laconic precision the critical dilemmas of declaring war on drugs

in a free republic, but I couldn’t be bothered with what her mother called that tangle of windblown, strawberry blond hair, that space between her shoulder blades that impressed upon me the urgency of active living whenever I watched her walking away.

Now, she hasn’t visited you in approximately two months, since the end of January. That’s exactly fifty nine days, sixty by the time your custodians and attendants have had time to pore over this document.

Something has happened. No need to tell me I’m overreacting. I know something has gone wrong with the cosmos. Yesterday, while feeding the fowl at your feet, I observed a peculiar anomaly as the sun fell behind its rotational curtain. I noticed strange shapes emerging from the dusk, funnels of shadow which fell on the ducks like oil slicks with teeth. Their reaction was to hiss and clap their wings at one another, liberally excreting waste as they snapped at even their own young. I don’t have to tell you how upsetting this phenomenon was. I still can’t believe the children nearby never took notice.

She must have come some time after I last saw her, unless she only exists through my seeing her. I’m still puzzling over the implications of implied existence versus accepted existence, and it is too late in the game for anyone to write a textbook or manifesto about such musings. I want to love her, but I can’t do so without first conquering the inevitable gender anxiety (which endures with great consistency) between male ego and female form.

If her existence is merely implied, then she is a blank washboard for me to project any number of phobias, philias or habitué onto, until or unless her existence becomes accepted.

The moment her existence is accepted, either by myself or through you, she can then begin to effect me and project onto me the memes which populate her own reality. I could be her friend, her father, her lover, a father/lover hybrid per Freud or even (Fountain Forbid) a threat to her physical safety.

Surely you can relate to this plight, seeing as how any number of individuals project meaning onto you each day, until you have no choice but to accept your own existence, regardless of whether you are accepting an implied existence or an accepted existence. That too, is for us to determine.

Please, tell me her name. Why hasn’t she been to the park in sixty days? I kept my hands to myself, even if I can’t say the same for my eyes.

Yours Truly,

A Blank Slate

----------------

Jeremy Maddux lives in Blountville, TN where he serves as Vice President of the Night Writers’ Guild. He was recently voted Talent of the Year by his peers. Jeremy’s work has been featured in Surreal Grotesque, Connotation Press, Literary Orphans, Garbled Transmissions, Red Fez, Dream People Magazine and The Glass Coin. He recently had a story published in Aliens, Sex & Sociopaths: The Best of Surreal Grotesque. He is also Co-Editor of Surreal Grotesque.

Copyright Jeremy Maddux
Artwork by Max Ernst

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to: Make Your Own Live Kitten Necklace by Madeleine Swann

Live kitten necklaces: you’ve seen them on the runways, you’ve seen them on TV, but the amount they cost could leave you without emergency moustaches for an entire month. So, the question is, how can you get your own? The answer is so simple it makes my toenails bleed-make it yourself!

Step 1) Everyone knows the ultimate fashionistas wear the best kittens, so this means finding pedigrees. Find out where breeders live and either wait until they go out (check out our fabulous stalker’s range online) or ingratiate yourself into their home. One option is to wrap yourself in sisal rope to look like a scratching post, another is to cover yourself in the same wallpaper they used. Don’t pass up the opportunity to get some good people watching in, just remember not to breathe too heavily.

Step 2) The other possible route is to kidnap a breeding pair. Watch out, this involves some more DIY! (All items mentioned are available in our ‘Breaking and Entering’ Catalogue). First cut a hole in the bottom of a litter tray and fill it with tissue paper. Then sneak into the cat owner’s garden late at night and dig a hole big enough to fit yourself into. Place the litter tray above the hole and wait-it’s that simple. When the cat finally takes the plunge its best you wear head cover and this week we’re just loving the Bearskin cap.

Step 3) Take an ordinary collar that would fit your neck, the same kind you find at pet stores only stolen from local animals instead, and some clothes pegs from your neighbour’s line. Spray the pegs a colour of your choice and glue them to the collar. Now it’s time for the best bit!

Step 4) Gather up those mewling beauties and attach one to each of the waiting pegs. When picked up by the scruff of the neck they’ll automatically hang quietly so the only thing left for you to do is get out there and bust some moves until they’re too old to be cute. Then put them in the bin.

-----------

Madeleine Swann has had several articles published by various magazines including Bizarre and The Dark Side, ranging in subject from church restorations to toe wrestling championships.
 
She writes from her home in Essex and has erotica published in the likes of the Forbidden Fiction website, The Darker Edge of Desire and ‘Big Book of Bizarro’ anthologies. She also has surreal comedy and horror in Polluto magazine, LegumeMan Books and Black Petal magazine.
 
Copyright Madeleine Swann
Artwork by Max Ernst

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Invitation to KonrathCon.

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jon Konrath (Konnie to his friends) who wrote a story called The Long John Silver Locust Abortion Technician, or something like that, a story that was featured on the Strange Edge back in February.  Now, this story has metastasized  into a short story collection called Thunderbird, which you can buy over at Amazon. I suspect it's mostly about classic muscle cars.

I met Konnie back in the last days of the most recent incarnation of The New Absurdist. His stories made me think of Thompson, Burroughs and Bukowski at their most snide and absurd, fighting over cocktail peanuts. You should probably check out this book, or perhaps Sleep Has No Master. 

If I remember correctly, Konnie looks a bit like this, with a freakishly small face. But we were in a funhouse when we met, so who knows.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Spectacular Featuring Vince Kramer

Vince Kramer wrote a poem. Here it is!

I wrote a poem
It is the best poem ever
I am going to read it out loud to you

Hey look at me
I’m up on stage reading a poem
I’m a big fucking faggot

I wrote a poem once when I was little
I read it to my dad
He punched me in the face

In college my writing teacher made us write a poem
I wrote him a note that said
“Go fuck yourself”

But that was very wrong
Because I should’ve wrote
“Go kill yourself”

And maybe he would have

Anybody who likes poetry is gay
I mean, I’m gay
But you’re way gayer than I am

Oh look, the sky is blue
Now it’s not
You’re a faggot

Stephen King should be killed

-------

Vince Kramer is about seven feet tall and at least a thousand years old.  He has roamed the Earth since the Viking days, biting the people he encounters. If one is bitten by a Vince Kramer, he turns into a Vince Kramer. When two Vince Kramer's encounter one another, they fuck to the death, until the weaker dies of blood loss. He also suffers from alien
smile syndrome.






Copyright 2013 Vince Kramer

Friday, May 3, 2013

Every Which Way but Clyde by MP Johnson

Jackson had every reason to believe that an orangutan sidekick would improve his life dramatically. Of course, he didn’t have the money to buy an orangutan, not with his wages from the gas station, and he had little chance of winning one in a fight. He did, however, have a wife.

When he presented the costume in all its orange-furred glory to Tani, the look on her face upset him. She didn’t say a word, but her frown said everything. He wanted to rip her trembling lips off and poke her teary eyes out.

“Now you listen to me,” he said, tossing the ape costume on her lap. “I go to work every day to keep a roof over our heads and put food on our plates, and now I’m asking one thing from you and I don’t want no backtalk.”

“Do I have to wear it all the time, dear?” she asked, defeated.

Jackson sat on the couch next to her and wrapped his arm around her. “Not while you cook. I don’t want any fur in my dinner.” He winked and handed her a book – The World of Orangutans. “Now you know how I feel about buying books, but I bought this one and it cost good money, so I want you to study it, you hear, and do all the things orangy-tangs do.”

“Okay, dear,” she said.

That night, when he got home from his four-hour shift at the gas station, he found Tani-tan in costume, studying the book.

“Just what I was hoping to see,” Jackson said, pulling a package of Oreos out of his lunch pail. “I brought you a treat.”

“Oh,” she said.

He could see her confusion through the eyeholes of her ape mask. “What’s a matter? Didn’t you read in there about how much orangy-tangs love Oreos?”

“Well, no,” she replied. “It says they like fruits and leaves and bugs, and they’re strong enough to rip a human’s arms off.”

He raised his hand threateningly. “I told you no fucking backtalk, didn’t I?”

“I’m sorry, dear,” she said, closing the book and setting it aside, ready to take what she had coming.

Jackson lowered his puncher. “Aw hell. Let’s go out and have us a good time.”

She hopped off the couch and walked toward the door like normal, which infuriated Jackson. She must have seen him angering up, because she quickly switched to a more ape-propriate stride.

“Yee haw!” he shouted.

They climbed into his pickup and he cranked up the classic country music. Driving around with the windows down, the wind in his hair, the moon shining on his little ape sidekick’s fiery fur, he felt good, real good. Fulfilled, in a way.

“I’m gonna call you Clyde,” he said, slapping an Oreo in her paw.

She made an “ooo ooo” noise and Jackson’s heart lit up.

Things got even better when he saw a pair of bikers stopped at a red light up ahead. He hit the gas so he could stop beside them.

“You know what to do,” he said to Clyde.

She looked out the window and “ooo ooo”-ed at the bikers, who laughed and peeled away when the light turned green.

“Now why did you go and do that?” Jackson asked, frustrated at the realization that she hadn’t read nearly enough of that damn book.

“What?” she asked, making things worse with her regular voice.

“You’re supposed to whip bikers the bird, damn it!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t see that in the book.”

“You didn’t even read that book.”

“I did. I swear I did!”

Jackson pulled over and shouted, “Get out!”

“No, dear, what are you gonna do?”

“Just get out and stop talking. Orangy-tangs don’t talk.”

She “ooo ooo”-ed and jumped out of the truck. He met her at the curb where she cowered. There was one way to find out if she really had read the book, if she really respected him and followed his orders. Surely, she would know this ape trick. He raised his pointer finger and aimed it at her chest like a pistol.

“Bang!” he shouted.

He waited for Clyde to fall backward and play dead, but she didn’t. She just stood there, not doing a damn thing. He couldn’t tell if she was being resistant and disrespectful, or if she really was confused. As much as he wanted to put her in her place, he could see she was trying. She had the costume on. She was grunting just right. He had to give her one last chance.

“Okay,” he said. “Show me what an orangy-tang does.”

She scratched her furry head in thought. Then she charged him, hitting him in the chest with all her weight, which wasn’t much, but enough to knock him down, caught off guard.

“What are you doing?” he asked, as she sat on top of him, clubbing him with her fists. He tried to move, but she had him pinned against the concrete. She grabbed him by the wrists and pulled fast and hard, ripping his arms from his sockets.

Jackson screamed as Clyde “ooo ooo”-ed and hopped off down the road, clutching the severed appendages as they sprayed blood in her wake.



-----

MP Johnson's short stories have appeared in more than 25 underground books and magazines, including Bare Bone and Cthulhu Sex. His debut book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, was recently released by Bizarro Pulp Press. He is the creator of Freak Tension zine, a B-movie extra and an obsessive music fan currently based in Minneapolis. Learn more at www.freaktension.com.

Copyright MP Johson
Artwork Remedios Varo

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sleepers by Matt Hegdahl


“It’s impossible,” I told him. I looked around at the wood paneling of the room, the random black lights hanging from the ceiling, and the litter box in the corner, full. “I didn’t sign up for this.”

Of course I didn’t sign up for this, I didn’t even want to come here, I didn’t have a choice though, they loaded me up as they did everyone else.

“It’s for the safety of society,” they told us with gun barrels pressed against our naked backs.

National security was at stake and we were to blame, or at least that’s how they saw it. According to the president we were a new form of sleeper cell, except some of us didn’t even know it. There were the ones that had been informed and given a chance to turn themselves in, but there were more like me.

I had no idea, honestly I didn’t know, I simply followed the protocols and proclamations that they issued. I followed the instructions that they left in my voicemail. The government official that called clearly said, “Go to the clinic on Evergreen Street, tell them your name and social security number, and they will take it from there.”

I had expected they would take some blood, but they did so much more than that. I’ve never been through so many tests in one clinical sitting. They swabbed my nasal passages until my eyes watered. My throat was rubbed raw from cotton and they used those skinny little popsicle sticks to scrape the inside of my cheeks. My colon was prodded and examined and then clipped. They thoroughly checked my prostate and even procured a semen sample. Hair clippings, nail clippings, and five vials of blood. The entire process took all day. Specialists were stationed all over the hospital and it was at least a 30 minute wait for each test.

I had expected to be informed of my test results, and I was, when they kicked in my door and drug me half naked out of my bedroom at gun point. I didn’t even have to ask when they loaded me on the bus. I was seated next to a woman who had most likely turned herself in.

I was among those they called the “sleepers” because we didn’t show any signs of sickness, physical or mental, but it was there, hidden deep inside us genetically, in our cellular structure. The sickness suppressed, waiting to come forward and strike without warning, in most cases people will live their whole lives with it and never have an outbreak, never show any symptoms or infect anyone else. It’s the small percentage of carriers, around three percent, that has society shaking in their boots. It’s because of this small percentage that I’m now in this room, dimly lit with ultra-violet lights and smelling of cat piss.

According to the specialists, the ammonia from felines and low levels of ultra-violet lights will suppress any possible outbreaks. So the first bit luxury I’m allowed when I get off the bus is this dank dark room. I know I’m a carrier, but I can’t believe they would label me as a member of a “sleeper cell.” It’s as though they think I was intending on being a biological weapon.

It’s the new form of suicide bomber, the extremists find a carrier, someone that doesn’t want to go to one of the camps, and they induce an outbreak and infect as many members as possible. These groups have found the best way to wage biological warfare, they don’t need labs, or special tools, all they need is one carrier. After every member of the group is infected they simply spend the day wandering around a city, maybe urinate in public, or cough in a department store. This is my life as a biological weapon. They keep me on reserve, until the time is right.

----
Matt Hegdahl lives in the second coldest city in the United States. He has more degrees than a unicycle has wheels, and, like a unicycle in a motocross race, they are completely useless. He lives with his wife and two puppets.

Copyright Matt Hegdahl
Artwork Leonora Carrington

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Tree by Ray Fracalossy

The maple tree stood upon the hill.

Motionless, daunted, consumed in ambition, it remained certain that with sufficient effort it could uproot itself and walk away. "I am in need of change," it thought. "I will replant myself in the suburbs where I will make new friends, and become a home to creatures now unknown. I will spawn children and grandchildren, and when I eventually rot away, I shall be in the mist of a dense forest." The idea of looking proudly upon its numerous offspring made the mighty tree attempt a smile.

In the winter, he would become naked, and was unsure how trees in the suburbs concealed themselves from this embarrassment. Garments were obviously needed, and clothing implied the exchange of money.

Was there work for an ambitious tree? The post office? "That's steady employment, isn't it? But you have to be able to drive, which," thought the maple, "is a difficult thing to do for a giant such as myself." You can't drive with birds in the vehicle.

Perhaps the answer lay with the problem itself. Was there any possibility of making money by selling pictures of his wintered naked self online first, and securing clothing before jumping into his big move?

Men approached. The tree attempted to move, and found he was too securely rooted. Noises, blackness, unconsciousness. He awoke later in the form of a picnic table and chairs, on a deck also composed of his innards.

He had indeed found a new life in the suburbs.

----

Ray Fracalossy is the author of Tale from the Vinegar Wasteland, and a frequent contributor to the New Absurdist whenever it is functional. All around good egg, not deviled in the least.

Copyright Ray Fracalossy
Artwork by Ruth Ruhnke

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rose by Sarah Shaw

    I didn't mean to kill her, but I did. I don't even know how I killed her, but I did. I wish I knew, but that doesn't make her any less dead or any less real. Because she IS real. Here. And now. And when I close my eyes and when I open them...she's always there and I want her to go away and I feel guilty for that and I beg her forgiveness. I don't know if she hears me, but she's still there, existing. Existing inside, outside and even upside-down.

    Being haunted sucks. Even if I deserve it, which I do. I've never known how to take my atonement with grape jelly like a good girl. Even when it pretends to be an airplane. I can't swallow. How am I still here and she's not but really still is?

    I'm lying on my bed in my stuffy, dry room with no windows. She's here, hovering. Not above me, she never gets that close. But near. Maybe I just think the room has no windows. Most rooms have windows to look out of and see the sun and the snow and the life.

    There she is, not flying, but hovering. She's weightless since she's not here but is. She's still, her eyes closed and as purple as the only time I held her and she escaped from my embrace and left me with a shell. Was it my tears that killed her. No, it was something I did before that. She won't tell me.

     Is she angry that she had to share? That her roommate grew bigger while she desperately played catch-up. I hear her roommate roll over in his sleep in the next room...the one with windows and I feel the guilt again. Or still. I feel it still. Like her, the guilt is always there....it just changes forms.

    She floats down and touches her tiny, open mouth to my toe and I jerk my foot back. She shoots back up quickly and I slowly stretch my leg back to where it was. Did I really feel her? Did she touch me. She's never touched me before. Her eyes are open slits and I think she's staring at me, her miniature face contorted into an incomprehensible expression. Her mouth opens and then I hear it. Barely, but I hear it: “You replaced me.”

    In the next room, the one with windows, her replacement shifts in his sleep and emits a soft whine. I think about how different things would be if he was a girl or wasn't here at all. Guilt again. Always and always shifting and changing.

    “I didn't mean to,” I whisper, or maybe just thought. Is she still staring? I can't tell. She's hovering closer now and touches her mouth to my knee. I lie still and feel a pinch on my skin. That's something new and real and here.

     The roommate and the replacement shuffle a bit in their beds. I think it's still dark outside but it doesn't matter since it's always dark. And cold. And she's still pinching my skin between her toothless gums. A tiny pinch since she has a tiny mouth. I want to bat her away like an insect, but I don't.

    She releases my knee and glides through space to just above my belly. She opens her mouth even wider to bite down on the loose skin and fat just below my navel. I don't, am unable to resist this behavior from her. She deserves it. She's earned it. Her little gums grow needles that pierce my skin and she rips the bit of flesh away from my body and dissolves it.

    My brain has less weight now.

    She repeats her actions until she digs a hole in my abdomen large enough for her tiny head. My belly reaches for her and vacuums her into myself.

    She is here but not here and I drift into a guiltless sleep.


-----

Sarah Shaw lives in the middle of Alaska where she thinks up stuff and writes it down.

Copyright 2013 Sarah Shaw
Art by Tony Horne Shepherd

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Finding Smile by Shawn Misener

He was a smile. The rest of him was almost transparent, barely a glimmer of form, but his gaping grin shone so intensely that it provided a distraction from everything else missing.


My mother gave her all to convince him to be a politician. My sister begged on bleeding knees for him to give her head. I just needed somebody to help me find things.

I handed him the list of lost items. He quickly looked it over, then swallowed it whole with that magnificent, glowing mouth. “We'll look for your sense of humor first,” he said.

It took six days in the jungle until we finally had leads. He negotiated with birds so colorful they made crayons leap from cliffs. He threatened enormous snakes, and when they didn't cooperate he'd clench their jaws between his gleaming teeth and swing them around like weed whackers.

We finally stumbled upon the End of the Earth. A beautiful sight for sure, the red yolk of sun framing his levitating smile, bright upon brighter. Hovering closer, he whispered “Look in your pants. The secret to humor is nestled softly down there.”

So we began the frightful journey back home. By law I was required to go without my trousers or underwear. To refuse would invalidate the rediscovery of comedy. He took hold of my shaft and used it to point us toward the highway.

In this way he guided us out of the jungle and home to my wife, where I proceeded to make love to her with all kinds of sarcastic thrusts. Orgasmic laughter all around. “I'm sure glad you followed that smile,” she later sighed, sweat dripping from her chin to her clavicle.

---

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 Shawn Misener
Artwork by Picasso 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kitten Invades Alaska!

Kitten was sighted in a Barnes & Noble in Fairbanks Alaska!  Special thanks to Sarah Shaw.

It won't be long until Kitten finds it way into coffee houses in Iowa (I mean, if they've got coffee there, I have no idea), preschools in Utah, churches in Missouri, houses of ill-repute in Wisconsin.  It's all the r(amp)age. 

Have we forgotten what R.A. Harris had to say about G. Arthur Brown's Kitten so soon?

"One part a nightmarish family saga, and one part a fantastic, surreal voyage of discovery for a kitten. It's a seriously fun mix of grotesque humour and sombre existential horror."

That it is, R.A. That it is. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

His Blind Friend Daniel by G. Arthur Brown

My blind friend Daniel claws his way in the corners, as if in search of food, but he is just vetting the tile work.  I shouldn’t leave it to him; he’s blind and vetting is what I’m paid to do.  But I’ve got a jelly donut.  I didn’t tell Daniel that I had anything good to eat and he’s not exactly a blood hound.  I take a big bite and my lips smack.

Daniel’s head shoots up.  “What was that?  Are you eating?”

“No, Daniel.  I’m blowing kisses to the ghosts,” I say as I dust the confectioner’s sugar from my chin, as if he might see it, finding me out.  “Place is full of them.”

“I can feel them, too.”  He slides his greasy, gray finger tips along the grout.   An ecstatic expression squirms on his face, his hard-boiled egg eyes locked firmly on me.  “I know I am inside a ghost when I feel suddenly cooled, like an AC unit just kicked on. But it is also like you’ve been immersed in gelatin of some type.  You get the fear, like you’re going to drown.  But it happens so fast that you don’t have time to panic.  Sometimes, if you are lucky, they leave you a little bit wet.” 

“I know I am inside a ghost,” I kid him, “when I am at the nursing home.”

He nods gravely, pensively.  “Their tiles need much work.”  He brings a filthy pinky to his nose and sniffs. “A dead person ate fenugreek here.”  He utters this in such a way that I have no doubt he is correct.

It is then that I notice that the jelly is not jelly at all. It is a green fenugreek custard.  I can taste it now. It was never even sweet.  “Do old people get pudding?” I ask.

“Yes, of course they do. You know that.” He runs his fingers along the edges of the sheets, tucking me in.  It’s comforting to hear his voice.  It is so dark and cold here.

“Tell me a story.”

“You know all the stories. You invented the stories.”

“Tell me one that I have forgotten.”

He clucks his tongue.  “Do you remember the story about your blind friend Daniel?”

I shake my head.

He clears his throat. I imagine what his face must look like while he composes himself. He begins, “Your blind friend Daniel claws his way in the corners, as if in search of food, but he is just vetting the tile work.”

Copyright 2013 G. Arthur Brown
Artwork Remedios Varo

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Love is a Disease by Sean Tigert

Gabe was left alone in his crib a lot while mom and dad were busy; that’s when his addiction started.  A needle in his arm or a bottle of pills hidden under his princess blankie—a hand me down from sis since mom and dad couldn’t afford new shit all the time.  Just shoot or swallow and those hugs came floating back, all warm all over.  The sun setting through the window in his bedroom prison was angelic as the loving eyes of mom and dad with his chemicals.

        When sis got all the toys and attention ‘cause dad was never taught how to love anything that didn’t have a vagina, Gabe forgave dad and took some pills that felt like dad holding his hand.  As sis was getting ready for school and mom and dad spent less and less time with Gabe, Gabe spent more and more time with his parents in a bottle and syringe.

        As Gabe grew, he saw how mom and dad took pills too, and he knew, they must also miss their moms and dads.  Gabe met doctors who prescribed him pills that numbed his emotions for when Gabe was alone, at school, work, but usually it wasn’t explained to him what the doctors’ pills should do, and Gabe would experiment until mom and dad were there, helping him up.  He had tried alcohol, but it always left him feeling like crap.  Dad was never a big drinker either.

One day, there was a knock on Gabe’s apartment door, he lay in bed and watched those sunset rays coming through, remembering mom and dad, as his girlfriend was sweet enough to answer it.  There was a loud banging sound. His girlfriend screamed.  Gabe lived in a bad neighborhood and he feared the worst; he grabbed his gun and ran to help his girlfriend.  The men in Kevlar were waiting for any sort of movement; four rounds from a military surplus MP5 tore through Gabe’s face and chest as he came out of his bedroom.          

Mom and dad buried their baby and wished it were them instead.  Mom and dad knew it could have been them, and when no one was looking, mom and dad took pills that brought their baby back.

----


When not writing, drawing, or changing diapers, Sean Tigert gathers material for new creative projects by either escaping humans or stalking them.



Copyright 2013 Sean Tigert
Artwork by Juan Gris


Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Heartless Romance by John Edward Lawson

I closed my eyes and puckered my lips; my heart was doing the same. I never imagined my heart and I would go that far but we did, and it was unnervingly exciting. I wanted to whisper, “Don’t look.” Or, “Don’t tell me if my mouth tastes funny.” Or, “This hole in my chest is getting cold.” Instead we kissed long and hard, and the serenity that came over me only just barely countered the quickening of my breath, the mounting tension in my muscles. The kiss itself could not have lasted more than ten seconds but was as draining as a funeral service. When we finally drew apart my lips were dripping warmth--not a wetness induced by the passion of the moment, no; it is simply in a heart’s nature to be a bloody mess.
    We held back in wonder momentarily, laying there in the stark moonlight with the stiff grass complaining against our backs. Then we simply embraced. It pulsed sticky against my cheek, and yes I am not ashamed to admit that in that moment I took the liberty of fondling a ventricle. Rest assured there was no protest from my heart.
    “I…love you,” I said uneasily. It was the first time for that arrangement of syllables to pass the hurdle of my lips, but somehow they made it.
    “Don’t get carried away,” my heart said with it’s typical brashness. “You’ve got that attachment thing going on, don’t you? That co-dependancy thing. Seen it on the TV.”
    No, I wouldn’t let my heart spoil the moment’s worth, not after all we had been through. So after a short lull I looked over its quivering, bulbous exterior and said, “Check out those muscles. You’ve been working out again, haven’t you?”
    “Ah, well,” it chuckled, finally softening. “You noticed? Do I really look like all that?”
    “You know it,” I purred reassuringly.
    So I leaned back on my elbows and watched my heart strike some muscle poses, cranking out coronary-worthy pumps in the attempt to impress me. “How about that,” it huffed. “How you like me now?”
    “You’re the only heart for me.” Having said that I let my mind wander a bit, which brought on a surge of panic. “Oh no. Oh no, oh no. What are we going to do? Huh?”
    “Hey, we got away clean. Sure there was some gunfire, and sure some people got hurt, but we made it out of there okay. All’s we got to do now is stick to the plan and get moving. Head down Mexicali way and lay low for a while.”
    This settled my nerves enough that I was able to start gathering our get-away gear. “I love you. I really do.”
    My heart did not reply.
    “That man, the one at the desk? He had pretty good aim, huh?”
    “Good enough to tear your chest open pretty bad.”
    In that grove of trees it felt as though we were redefining enchantment with this criminal affair. Robbery, murder, arson, we did it all with a passion that had been lacking in every other moment of my life. My heart had me in its grip, I knew it then as surely as I do now, and maybe in the final analysis I would be no more than a pawn blinded by love in this game of rogue excess.
    “It’s time we got a move on. Remember, careful what you say to people. All’s we got to do is hook the first car what comes along, then we’re home free. Or we’re walkin’.” I followed my heart out of the woods. We took to the road and the ensuing reliance on my feet gave me a whole new appreciation for them. But that love quadrangle is another story altogether.
----

John Edward Lawson has published nine books, seven chapbooks, and over five hundred works in anthologies, magazines, and literary journals worldwide. He is a winner of the Fiction International Emerging Writers Competition, and has been a finalist for the Stoker Award and Wonderland Award. Other nominations include the Dwarf Stars Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Rhysling Award. As a freelance editor he worked for Raw Dog Screaming Press, Double Dragon Publishing, and National Lampoon, has edited seven anthologies, and served as editor-in-chief for The Dream People. Recently he became a columnist at IMJ, covering events in the publishing industry.








"A Heartless Romance" originally published at RedWritingHood.com
Copyright John Edward Lawson
Artwork Remedios Varo

Friday, April 12, 2013

Early to Rise, Late to Bloom by Mark Allen Berryhill

Audra stared at her ceiling. She always woke up before her alarm. It wasn’t fair. She looked over at the pot in which the alarm grew. It quivered and twitched, and at this point looked like a slimy egg popping up out of the dirt. She gave it maybe twenty minutes before it bloomed and started shrieking. At least she would beat her brother to the bathroom.

She sighed and turned on her side, but jumped out of bed when her hand touched something wet and slimy. She pulled the cover back to reveal an irregular spot of dark red goo about the size of a saucer. She groaned and pursed her lips. The first time this happened she thought she had finally gotten her period, that maybe she had leaked in the night, but no, it was just her brother’s pet slime mold, Rusty, coalescing.

“Go do that somewhere else, you little asshole” she whispered.

She rummaged through the junk on her floor to find her cell phone on and tossed it at the little beast. It quivered and slowly oozed away.

She didn’t trust that thing. Last week she woke up and it was in her hair. She guessed it liked her, but as pets go that thing was pretty gross. Her mom said it liked her room especially since Audra did such a terrible job of keeping it clean. It wasn’t fair that he got a pet and she didn’t. For her next birthday Audra would demand a kitten.

She rummaged through her clothes pile, which had gone from being mostly clean to mostly dirty. She picked the bra she wanted to wear today and plucked off a tiny white mushroom.  Her mom would freak if she knew how dirty her room was. She flicked the mushroom into the slime mold, which dripped off her bed into a little pool near her feet.

“Don’t say I never did anything for you.”

Her mom insisted that if she would just fold up her clothes and put them away like she was supposed to she wouldn’t look like such a slob. She sniffed the clothes she picked out and her jeans still smelled like laundry, and that was enough. It wasn’t like she was going to impress anyone. Everyone paid attention to the girls who didn’t look like little boys.

She gathered her stuff up and snuck out into the cold and damp hallway. Fungal shelves full of knickknacks lined the walls, giving off a faint light you could only see if you didn’t look directly at them, but at least they made it easier to avoid bumping into anything. If she woke her brother up he’d demand that to go first and then stink the place up and use all the hot water. So, she tried to be as quiet as possible. She had always wanted to be a ninja assassin when she grew up, but her mom said that would never happen unless she took school more seriously. Audra had already figured out that school was just a place to socialize, and she just didn’t see the point in that.

She opened the door and closed it without making much of a sound. The first thing she did was to turn the shower on—if her brother knocked on the door she could always say she couldn’t hear him over the sound of the water.

She flipped on the light and it flickered into a soft bioluminescence. Her mom needed to replace that bulb. She took off her night clothes and kicked them into a corner, then looked at herself in the door mirror. She thought of this as The Daily Examination of Shame.  Nothing. No change at all. What the hell was going on? She couldn’t think of another girl in her grade that was as underdeveloped as she was, it was ridiculous. She was tired of pretending to complain about cramps that she never had.

She thought back to the fourth grade. They split the girls and boys up and forced them to watch cutesy sexual education videos with kiddy cartoon euphemisms. Well, her fruiting bodies didn’t look like they were going to bloom any time soon. Everyone giggled throughout the entire video and it really pissed Miss Spink off. It wasn’t that they weren’t mature to understand what was going on, but they all had the internet, they might have titled the videos, “What You Already Know In Insulting Animated Form”. In fact, her best friend Tabby had already got her first period so it wasn’t like any of it was a secret.

That was a long time ago.
 
She tested the water, it was so hot it almost hurt. She turned the showerhead so that it blasted the wall instead and stepped into the tub and pulled the curtain closed. She peed into her hands and worked that into her crevices. If the girls at school saw her do that they’d eat her alive. It wasn’t like her family couldn’t afford antifungal soap—they didn’t have to do it this way. If her mom would skip the organic food that wasn’t any better for you than real food they wouldn’t have to use their own piss like poor people. And it didn’t even work, not like the medicinal stuff! She still got rashes. In fact over the summer it got so bad that most of the hair on her head fell out. The buzz cut she sported might reinforce the whole little boy thing, but no way is she going to rub urine into her hair no matter how “sterile” or “natural” it is
.
Her mom insisted that by using anti-fungal soaps humanity is just breeding more dangerous strains of infection. Before Audra was born her uncle had contracted a nasty brain fungus, climbed a radio tower, and then bloomed—to everyone’s horror. Or so she said. Audra knew her mom just liked being a weirdo and wanted a freak for a daughter.


The gritty bar of soap her mom bought smelled good, so at least there was that. Gym class would be so much worse if she stank on top of everything else. She scrubbed herself with that soap until it almost hurt, and when she rinsed the soap out of her eyes she looked down to see a trail of red swirling between her legs and going down the drain.

She gasped and turned around. Rusty had slipped under the door and followed her into the tub. The little bastard was way smarter than you’d expect it to be, or dumber. It slithered unsuccessfully up the side of the bathtub, trying to get out. She tried to scoop it up, but the water wasn’t helping, and soap, even stuff that wasn’t anti-fungal, did terrible things to slime molds.

She didn’t know what to do, so she adjusted the shower head to rinse it down the drain.

There was a pounding on the door.

“AUDRA, YOUR ALARM IS SHRIEKING!”

“CAN YOU FUCK OFF, MOM?”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY!?”

“CAN YOU TURN IT OFF, MOM?”

Audra wished she could wash herself down the drain, too.

-----

When he isn't gardening, Mark Berryhill spends his days exploring complex social issues through fart jokes. 
Copyright 2013 Mark Berryhill 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cactus Subconscious by Shawn Misener


I'm bouncing along the desert like a rubber ball, deftly avoiding cactus after angry cactus. My pants are soaked with scorpion juice.
      The voice in the sand: "If it has soul you must funk it."
      The field of geysers has turned to carbonation. A bubbling tribute to the three clouds suspended in the air. What does a cloud feel like when swallowed?
      Below, the army of Southwestern poets begins to gather. One by one they set up shop: Rusty typewriters, old booze, loose tobacco, and pissy attitudes. Flailing through the sky I see them as they skeptically measure me up.
      "He won't be up there for long," they croak, sharing nods and commiserating huffs. The clacking of atomic words explodes from their fingers. They blast away my abstractions with sex, drugs, and indie rock.
      "See you when you fall," they sing.
---
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 Shawn Misener
Artwork by Carlo Carra

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tree by Sarah Shaw

Roger had never seen the tree before. It didn't seem possible, since he walked through the woods every evening after returning home from work, but there it was. The tree loomed over the trail that cut through the dense forest near Roger's home; the trail that was frequented by hikers and berry-pickers during the summer, cross-country skiers during the winter, and Roger every day at around 5:47 pm.
    What the hell was a tall deciduous tree doing here amidst spindly spruce and birch trees, anyway? The trunk had to be at least seven, no eight, times the thickness of the oldest and healthiest spruce in the forest. Roger stepped off the path to investigate.
    As he circled around the tree, the glowing outline of an arch became visible on the trunk. Roger put his palm on the bark surface and, with a minute amount of pressure, the arch swung away from Roger and he tumbled in.
    "What in the goddamned...." Roger sputtered. When he pulled his knees in to stand, the door he had tripped through slammed shut. He frantically felt around the smooth curved wall around him, but his fingers didn't find a door.
    "Oh god, oh god, what the fuck..." Roger repeated, spinning around the circular closet. All that occupied the room was an electric lantern on the wall. Then he smelled it. A familiar scent wafted into his nostrils and he breathed it deeply. Roger would know that comforting smell anywhere. Oatmeal Cookies.
    Oatmeal cookies were his favorite. They beat out chocolate chip. Snickerdoodles didn't stand a chance against them. The smell lulled Roger until his eyes rolled back. He dropped to the floor in a heap and was too busy being unconscious to notice when the floor disappeared.
       
                                           ***

    "Wake up, Mr. Blue."
    Roger felt a light tapping on his forehead.
    "Wake up, Mr. Blue."
    Tap, tap, tap.
    Roger struggled to open his eyes. They felt glued shut, but he was able to manage it. He was lying on his back and the strong scent of oatmeal cookies was still present. A small, dwarf in a green jacket and pointed hat was leaning over Roger and smiling at him with an a lipless mouth full of gray and yellow teeth.
    "You're finally awake, Mr. Blue. That's just grand," the dwarf chuckled, "I'm so glad. It's your lucky day.”
    "Lucky?" Roger slurred. Whatever had knocked him out was still lingering.
    "Oh yes, quite lucky," the dwarf grinned.
    Roger looked around. He and the dwarf were in what appeared to be a hospital room and he was lying on a cot. Next to the cot was an unused monitor with wires hanging from it.
    "What happened?" Roger noticed that this particular hospital room had no doors or windows.
    "You happened, Mr.Blue!"
    "Who's Mr. Blue?"
    "YOU are Mr. Blue, Mr. Blue," the dwarf poked Roger in the chest three times with a gnarled finger. Roger looked down and saw that he was wearing his blue work shirt. When he looked back up, the dwarf raised one of his small hands above his head.
    "Macaroon!" the dwarf shouted and with a snap of his fingers, the hospital room was gone.

                                          ***

    Roger and the green-clad dwarf were in a lush meadow, surrounded by stone ovens and wooden tables. Working busily all around them were brightly dressed dwarves in matching pointed hats. The wonderful and intoxicating smell was even stronger than before. Oatmeal cookies.
    "I'm Bertram, bye the bye," said the dwarf in green," and I told you that it was your lucky day! It's Oatmeal Cookie Day! Every day is a different cookie and you just happened upon us on oatmeal day, Mr. Blue. Would you like to try one? Or five?"
    While Roger had no idea how much time had passed since he first fell into the tree, he did know that he was hungry. All of the fear that he felt had dissolved. He didn't even care where he was. All that Roger could focus on was the stack of neatly piled oatmeal cookies that sat on one of the wooden tables. He snatched a cookie and sniffed it. He took a bite of the cookie while Bertram looked on, rubbing his bony little dwarf hands together.
    The cookie was the best cookie that Roger had ever had. The flavor was familiar, but so unlike anything he had tasted. Sweet, with a hint of cinnamon, and a savory undertone that Roger wouldn't have believed possible if he hadn't experienced it. His body buzzed in sexual arousal and Roger fought the urge to touch himself. He wasn't so enraptured that he forgot about Bertram and the other dwarves staring at him.
    "Hmmmm...." Bertram muttered and sounded very distant to Roger, "usually this is where they fall down. Guess I should take care of that."
    Roger was swallowing the last bite of his cookie when Bertram hit him in the head with a wooden rolling pin.

                                        ***

    Roger was awakened by a hard slap with a spatula. He tried to voice a protest, but someone had stuffed cloth into his mouth. Bertram stepped back from the table that Roger was bound to, grinding his nasty little teeth and tossing the utensil over his shoulder. Roger couldn't move, but could see that they were in a shack with a door and two curtained windows..
    "You can't move, Mr. Blue, so don't even bother to try. You're tied to that table and you wouldn't get far without any feet anyway." The dwarf gestured to a counter along one of the walls. On the counter, a foot stuck upside-down out of a meat grinder. Roger looked down the length of his prone body and saw that his legs ended in charred, black stumps right beneath his knees. His eyes teared up and sweat started to streak his forehead. He twitched as he stared at a pile of bloody ground meat that sat on the counter. He realized that the air didn't smell like his favorite cookie anymore.
     "When I said that it was your lucky day, I meant it," Bertram started turning the crank on the meat grinder and a crunchy, squelchy sound filled the room. Roger fought the vomit that threatened to come up his throat and choke him.
    "That was the best damn cookie you ever had, I betcha. And don't worry, Mr. Blue. You'll have some more. Can't promise that they'll be oatmeal, but they'll be good just the same," Bertram waved the aroma of the bloody pile of meat and bone to his nose.
    Roger tried to scream. Bertram didn't notice.
    "Ah yes..." the dwarf inhaled deeply, "I think that you will be quite wonderful in a ginger snap. You seem to have just the right bit of tang to you. These feet are plenty enough for a big, fine batch of baked deliciousness that will last us awhile." Bertram swiveled back toward Roger and snapped his fingers. "You must be famished, eh, Mr. Blue! I'll go fetch you some cookies. Got to keep your strength up. Can't have you dyin' before we've used every last scrap of you. The ingredients have to be fresh and no meat is fresher than meat that was just alive!" Bertram shuffled quickly through the door and closed it behind him.
    Roger wept.
------------

Sarah Shaw lives in the middle of Alaska where she thinks up stuff and writes it down.

Copyright 2013 Sarah Shaw
Artwork by Juan Gris

Friday, April 5, 2013

Rat by Darrin Naill


He spent his morning trying in vain to keep the bread from copulating with the toaster. Each time he would leave the room, he would hear the click of the toaster going down. Each time he returned, a new set of twins lay on the counter covered in butter or jam or, on one occasion, honey.

The radio in the basement was supposed to be off, but would come on of its own volition each time he passed by the closed door to the basement steps. He would hear the white noise tune itself to an all-Spanish station and then fade to pops and buzzes only to go quiet as soon as he would open the door.

The window unit air conditioner in the upstairs bedroom played country music in faint bursts as he walked by the landing.

It had been weeks since he had heard from his cousin, who had, months before, been abducted and transplanted into the television. He always told him what to do to keep the appliances in order, but now, he was increasingly lost. So he did what any sane person would do: he sat in his cat-eating recliner and stared at the blank screen to wait for the next episode of his cousin.

He called for a glass of sweet tea, and it came (though he should have requested "iced" sweet tea, as what he got was lukewarm).

After his tea, it was time to hunt. The rats, at times, rolled across the floor like giant dust bunnies. If he could manage to stand in the right spot, then the corner chair, which always tried to kill him, would slide across the floor and run over the little buggers.

Just as the chair was zeroing in on him, the TV rang. That had never happened before, so he was a little put off. He kicked the television, which made it slide across the floor, crushing the corner chair, and ending his hunting trip.

"in a moment" the television shouted "will be the end".

He looked at the television. No picture. The floor began to tremble.

"there's a hole in the bottom of the sea" a passing rat sang.

The floor gave way, folded, and swallowed. All stop.

---------
 Darrin Naill. 70s born, father of 3, husband of 1. Eater of meats and cheeses. Hunter and Fisher; general killer. College degreed, yet employed at a bargain. Acquainted severally, friended fewly. Bourbon.

Copyright Darrin Naill
Artwork Juan Gris

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

R.A. Harris Interviews G. Arthur Brown

Okay, this happened a while back. (Another attempt to sell my New Bizarro Author Series book Kitten.) But in case you missed it, R.A. Harris interviewed me, and here's a sample of his witty question techniques (patents pending):

LeakyLibido: ....Tell me, young squire – if you were at the point of a sword and the hand that held the other end was attached to an arm that was attached to a torso that was attached to a head, via a neck, and on that head there was a mouth and that mouth did move and sounds were elicited in that movement that formed the words, “sum up your life philosophy in five words”, what, pray, would you say?
Simulacrum: Mind your own business, man.
LeakyLibido: Oh, ok. Well… erm… how do you take your coffee?
Simulacrum: I prefer tea. But if I must have coffee, sweet and light.


Check out the full interview at Leaky Libido!


And Kitten is also available for Kindle!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Make a Better Brody by G. Arthur Brown


In this canoe, adrift at sea, I do not feel truly secure from the bites of sharks. The Ocean of Shame is just half a channel away.

"Open boats be damned!" Shaking your fist at the canoe doesn't help, I can tell you with more assurance than I have that I will not be eaten by sharks. For a moment I think I see a huge sausage just beneath the surface of the briny deep. It is just a dead manatee. I poke at it with my spear and it bursts open, oozing decay that bubbles up and forms a foul smelling pool. The sea here is incredibly calm. I grab the locket that hangs around my neck and hold it tightly in my fist. "Veronica! Why did I ever leave thee?" I pose the question in a deliberately melodramatic fashion. In my mind I see her Victorianesque visage, not bothering to open locket and look at the portrait that has been emblazoned on my mind's eye.

An albatross squeals overhead. I convince myself he's lamenting Veronica's distance from here. She should have been in this canoe. I fall in love with the oozing corpse of the sea creature now floating well behind me. I name the canoe Later. I pat the leg, that appears to be attached to me, and I say, "They just don't make canoes like they used to. I bet you a shark could snap this thing in two. I saw that movie. I think Paul Newman would have made a better Brody." The albatross squeals her agreement. I sample the fine wine that is the sea. Blurriness ensues.

Copyright G. Arthur Brown
Artwork by Salvador Dali