'Monster Horns' - Bill Dunlap

WHAT I FOUND OUT - blythe winslow


blythe winslow

While perched on a log out the back of our church, I lose my virginity to Charlie Coons, who has long eyelashes and eyes the color of pool water. I have no idea why I decide to sit on a fallen log, but I do. At first, when he’s in, I hug him close as if we’re two boxers and I’m very tired. But I am not very tired; I am amazed at the freckles on his shoulders. I’m also amazed at how I don’t want to look in his eyes. I just want to be amazed at the shock of our naked bodies, the sound of still-chirping birds, the itch of bark on my thighs and butt. When it’s over, I want Charlie Coons to say something special, and he does. As he’s lifting his jeans from his ankles, he tells me I’m a sweetheart, and I believe him. What I don’t know but find out later is that Charlie Coons is missing his index finger on his right hand. After I find this out, I never feel the same about sex again.

Blythe Winslow
Glen Pourciau

GALAXY - mercedes m. yardley


mercedes m. yardley

“I’ll get the mail,” she said, and walked out the door. She walked past the mailbox and down the street and hung a surprise left out of town. She walked out of America and across the ocean to Africa and off of the earth and past the stars and popped right out at the other side of the universe. And she was happy.

“No, you didn’t,” he said. “It’s impossible.” He turned and left.

She pointed her finger at him like a gun and made a small “pow” with her mouth.

“It’s on my list for tomorrow, then,” she said.

Mercedes M. Yardley
August Frost
Monique Roffey



greg gerke

Candace, a woman who wears heels a few times a week and studies Biology, meets a man called Bernie from Düsseldorf, Germany on a bus ride to Seattle. They talk about how the Germans log their forests. Their methods leave 40% more trees standing. “I’ve always wanted to live in Germany,” Candace says brightly. When they part at the Greyhound station, Bernie flags a taxi and has the driver follow Candace, who has been picked up by her boyfriend Ned in the front circle drive. Ned is late and grumpy but he has brought her flowers. He only says he loves Seattle traffic once on the drive to his parent’s house in the suburbs. The parents are away on vacation in Tempe. The house is huge, overwhelming. Candace and Ned drink red wine before ending up in the master bedroom.

Meanwhile, Bernie walks in through the unlocked front door and finds them upstairs, the boyfriend sucking at Candace’s small, pert nipples.

In a strict voice, Bernie begins, “I vergot to tell you, but I just remember. I told you da wrong ding about Düsseldorf. Dere are sex hundred tousand people living dere, not sex tousand.”

Greg Gerke
Alice Munro

HOT NUTS - molly gaudry


molly gaudry

“Two hot nuts,” Phyllis orders, “one cum, one clean.”

The scar over what’s left of her Adam’s apple shows on either side of her red leather choker adorned with a gold cock ring. The rest of her getup is more hockey mom than dominatrix. She wears her hair in that ridiculously outdated Farrah Fawcett do, and the pearl buttons on her pale-yellow cardigan are fastened to mid-sternum.

To be fair, Phyllis can’t decide what kind of woman she is. Back when she still had a dick and was going by Phillip, I hired her to bar-back on show nights, to move through the crowd with cases of beer above her head, to restock ice, cut fruit, all that jiz. Weighing in around 270 and something like 6’5”, I knew she was my go-to guy if a pack of diesel dykes got rowdy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my twenty-five years owning this club, it’s that Phillip was nice to have around.

Sometimes I miss him, but I’ll never tell Phyllis. Some things you just do not say to a person. That you miss the part of her she’s always hated is a good example.

Molly Gaudry
Jose Saramago

THE CABIN - james iredell


james iredell

We pulled up at the cabin, a pre-fab sentried by pines, a pair of old skis X-ing the apex of the roof, like something on a cartoon poison bottle. Grandpa had slathered a dull green paint over its wood so that it would “blend in” with its natural surroundings. It resembled a barracks. From the outside, this place could’ve been the staging ground for some bearded radical, someone whom San Francisco had failed. Inside sat evidence of a thriving thrift store. Even the books were Reader’s Digest Condensed, which made me think of soup. A deer’s head stared over the kitchen and hallway, above the cuckoo clock and the liquor, and the windows that squinted out over the California brome and, across the road, Squaw Creek, which ran cold and white with ripples. The creek had once slithered with brook trout. But they built hotels upstream. Instead of trout there are tourists, which are almost the same thing.

James Iredell
Slouching in the Path of a Comet
Mike Dockins

(BIG) TREE OF (TOO MUCH) KNOWLEDGE - jais brohinsky


jais brohinsky

The tree bark flows like rivers digging soft chasms into its massive trunk plopped layer upon layer like rolls of fat. The tree grows upside down. Its roots extend into the sky, sprawling hundreds of feet across in a system of reaching hands. The tree top sticks into the ground, and here and there giant boughs curl out from under the earth, fanning bushes of spade-like foliage, before diving back underground.

A man approaches. He kneels in front of the tree and prays. His tongue is a hatchet that swings into the trunk. The tree creaks, and black sap drips from the wound. The man puts his mouth to the bark and sucks. He falls back gasping and choking. His eyes film over as if injected with ink. He is still for a long time.

I am he, but I and am and he disintegrate. Surfing the edge of the universe like waves. Too much. Big. Too much big.

These words are pathetic.

Jais Brohinsky
First Aid to Critics (A Preface to Major Barbara)
Bernard Shaw

USES FOR A FAT FRIEND - malialinda



I would really like a fat friend, not like obesely disgustingly fat, but pleasantly fat, like in a way I could have fun with. I would squeeze her 'til her gummy eyes pop out like those piggy key chains and then rent her out for my birthday party so I could jump on her - in good fun – and I'd play hide and seek in the folds of her fat and grab a fistful of her flesh and run with it and see how far I could get and invite her over to make me pies and cookies and we'd eat ice cream out of the container and I wouldn't feel bad and I'd drip ice cream on her tummy and watch my dog lick it off and watch her skin like waves ripple with laughter and then rub jelly on her belly and rub the unspikey side of my dad's electric razor over it and pretend I was giving her a sonogram and that she was having siamese twins! I would put on a sumo-wrestler Halloween costume and challenge her to a duel.

I, Sam Pink, Want to Have Sex with That One Girl from "Clarissa Explains It All'
Sam Pink


Alyssa Davis

HOW TO EVERYTHING - orlo yeahblip


orlo yeahblip
Tickets from the coat check girl should be memorized and swallowed. Like bonds and angst and lockjaw, no one gets on stage without them. Try nylon. It holds anecdotes, not very well but better than a thumb. Or else spread it thin, like butter from a shrew. All instances should be served or checked with you know who. And don't let on about the relatives. Distractions might include: successful uncles, a handsome son. If it was hidden in a hat, then don't look in the pond. Mention death just to shrug off the breathing. Or just swallow down the bad taste that comes from dreaming. If they ever got out into the world it would be dangerously packed with reinvented wheels. Remember there are no coats for writing in the cold. So don't steal too much from Australians, they are the only ones who can decipher anagrams. It's no coincidence that the soup's boiling over. Watch out and it will boil some more. This will save on disappointment.

Orlo Yeahblip
To a Child Who Is Still a FAQ
Miriam Allred

BEAUTY - jessie peacock


jessie peacock

She was smiling at me, her yellowed teeth gleaming like hardened syrup in the surreal silver light. I ached to hold her, to crush her in my arms, to see if she smelled fragrant when she was broken—like a petal when it dies. Her thin, twisted purple veins spiderwebbed just beneath her paper-thin, dappled skin. She squinted her bloodshot eyes; she looked strained and small. She ran a finger down her emaciated frame, hooking it inside the folds of her cheap blue gown with pride alien to her kind. Her hair, where it had not been burned off, hung around the hollows of her long, thin face in ratty tendrils, so greasy they did not sway in the breeze. I couldn't help but lean forward, take her in my arms, kiss the crook of her arm. She fell back into me like a rag doll, and when my knife broke the skin of her neck she sighed. The crimson blood slid down her dirty dress like a cascade of gems onto my hand. Her groan became a gurgle, and when she was gone, I laid her out onto the concrete, arranging her limbs just so. She was so beautiful.

Jessie Peacock
Across The Wall
Garth Nix



tyler enfield

It is the position of the Holbringer Council Of Aeronautic Studies that there is no intelligent life on Mars. It is our recommendation that all investigation into the possibility of intelligent life on Mars, either in the present or the distant past, be unilaterally halted. We know there is not, and has never been intelligent life on Mars for the simple fact that it has three moons. Three moons would require half the population to menstruate three times a month and no civilization could, mathematically speaking, withstand a torque of this caliber. It is furthermore asking too much of the imagination to believe in such a race, a super-race, if you will, of hominids who could constitutionally survive the aforesaid onslaught and not be here today. Where are they now? This is the question science would like to know. What class of cataclysm could hold a candle to three moons? Thank you.

Tyler Enfield
Cormac McCarthy



bob jacobs

The new girl had big fucking teeth. People say fucking when they mean very or really, but this girl had really very big fucking teeth. All morning no-one spoke. No-one laughed. They dumped the new girl next to Old Lil. Lil went home mid-morning claiming period pains.

Lunchtime, people squeezed wholemeal sandwiches between their lips and snorted friendly-bacteria yogurt up their nostrils. I went to the vending area to fetch a Kenco decaff. From out of nowhere these big fucking teeth appeared and said hello. I mumbled something and ran back to my desk, sloshing coffee.

I've never heard so many people hammering their keyboards in this place as they did that day. Productivity soared.

The next morning Mrs. MacTwitchett from Human Resources came by and said the new girl had left. Everyone smiled. They really very fucking smiled, showing off their dainty teeth. Productivity plummeted as we joked our way through the day, laughing with mouths agape. Lunchtime, people chewed their sandwiches with mouths stretched impossibly wide, balls of half-chewed bread balanced on their tongues in a manner that would have shamed our parents.

Bob Jacobs
Instruction Manual for Swallowing
Adam Marek



jan windle

The Via Cavour is silvered. The cats are sneaking home. Only the gutter’s oily puddles retain color in the dawn light. She waits with the heavy suitcase while he fetches his scooter. He loads the baggage on to the seat so he can push it down to the Piazza della Libertá where the hired car waits in the underground carpark. The top-heavy load sways and wobbles as together they guide it.

In the Piazza the grandiose arch broods across the deserted one-way traffic system, the lights wink and change unnecessarily. Now she realizes that she no longer knows the way to the Subterrano where she left the hired car yesterday. She’d circled the Piazza a dozen times to find the way into the one-way street where the vehicle entrance lay. She makes a guess and they struggle across the piazza into a side street. Nothing looks right. She stops him with a sign and gets out the map.

No matter how they twist and turn the tattered page, they can’t orientate themselves. Time is passing, in this Fellini film environment, faster than real time. He goes back to the top of the side street to see its name, returns and grabs the map, pointing to a street at right angles to where they stand. She’s sure he’s wrong, but follows. The echo of their progress is amplified by the high ornate buildings above. Now there’s an occasional three-wheeler on the street, an early cyclist whistling as he passes on the other side. The silver sky has a tinge of gold between the buildings. The time is passing, the plane is waiting. They double back, try another street. She sees them as through a lens, an odd couple, no communication except through looks and touch, but a common aim – her welfare. Despite her panic, she’s excited, moved and for a moment she loves him.
Jan Windle

PROUD - crispin best


crispin best

That summer you got a job picking hair off the soaps of the super rich.

You stole. A cupboard’s worth of crockery appeared, a pepper mill, six or seven coasters, a crystal goblet. You stole slowly from their fridges: Genoa salami, pickled sweet gherkins, provolone, shallots, cheddar, beef tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, mozzarella, pepperoni, a crusty loaf, sea salt, mild Plochman’s mustard.

One morning you were ready and you set the sandwich down in front of me. You stood there watching, as proud as a dog on a roof, as proud as the ground.

Crispin Best
Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan


'I'll Be Right Back' - carol radsprecher

THERE'S NO TELLING - blythe winslow


blythe winslow

If you just get your license and then take a drive and then hit a man crossing the street, there’s no telling what you might do next, and this is not to say that you might hit another person crossing the street or that you'll go in the bathroom at the party you were driving to and cut yourself or drink too much or kiss other people’s girlfriends, this is just to say that you’re only sixteen and life feels just about as large and inexplicable as the small eye-expression of a killer whale in a tank at Sea World. See, world, this is you; you’re youth-hard and ready for basketball, football, any type of game involving a ball, which wouldn’t be so bad at a time like this, a time when you’re not sure if you’ll tell someone I probably just killed a dude, or if you’ll just sit and wonder if you care or if you’ll cry or if there’s something wrong with you for momentarily enjoying the sound of flesh and metal as it met, that is to say, as you made it meet.

Blythe Winslow
Glen Pourciau

DRAGONFLY - robert a. dollesin


robert a. dollesin

In the park, Jenny’s father used newspaper to make her a kite. I asked my mother to do the same. Instead, she stalked the hedges, walking alongside them until she spotted a blue dragonfly. She positioned her fingers above the insect while it rested. In one quick motion she snatched it by its wings.

I watched its tail curl and its spindly forelegs claw the air as my mother looped thread around its thick neck. Then she placed the wooden spool into my hand. “Here. Fly this.”

Jenny dropped her kite and stared in awe as my dragonfly buzzed skyward. She begged me to let her try. But since I have no father to craft old newspapers into boats or hats or kites, I ignored Jenny and maneuvered the dragonfly with pride.

Inevitably, though, the dragonfly’s head popped off and the thread slackened. Jenny laughed, picked her kite up off the grass, and ran with it across the lawn. I reeled the thread in and sat on the grass. While pinching apart the dragonfly’s tail, I listened to the paper tail of Jenny’s kite flap in the breeze and watched my mother laugh with yet another strange man.

Robert A. Dollesin
The Dinner Party
Joshua Ferris

SEA LION WOMEN - dawn corrigan


dawn corrigan

At my grandparents' assisted living facility, love is in the air. The singleton residents pair up and disengage and pair up again with the frequency of sea lions.

My grandmother updates me when I go to visit. We huddle together in the dining room over her two cups of tea.

"See that woman there?" she says, as a resident I haven't seen before passes by. She's tall and striking, her back unbent, a slightly wild look to her face and hair. She glides past at a stately pace with her walker.

"I do," I say.

"She's dating ... let's see ... there he is," my nana says, indicating a man. He has white hair and glasses and a rounded back. I think the back must be disappointing to a woman who's remained so upright, defying gravity and time.

But what do I know. Maybe if I make it to 80 I'll finally be less uptight.

Dawn Corrigan
The Judas Hole
Calvin Haul

DEAD RINGER - ravi mangla


ravi mangla

I met the double in a Sam's Club, by the frozen pizzas. He looked just like - in almost every unique way - my dead father. We joked about the sign out front. Some of the letters had burnt out and it now read S M Club. His laugh was a little sharp, but I thought, maybe, we could work on that.

I found out he was eating alone and invited him to dinner. My mother was coming over to eat that night, and I decided it would be a neat surprise. After the salad, she excused herself, and hid in the bathroom. We set her lasagna outside the door.

While my wife did the dishes, the double and I tossed the pigskin around the backyard. That night he tucked us in, kissed our foreheads, and mussed my hair. My wife thought this was all too weird. I told her I agreed, even though I didn't. When we woke up our car was gone, the faux-Renoir that hung above the sofa, most of my wife's crystal stemware, and our son. A day out with Grandpa. It made me consider how little time I spent with my own grandfather growing up. I hoped my son wouldn't make the same mistakes that I did.

Ravi Mangla

YOU AGAIN - brandi wells


brandi wells

The television is muted. The only sounds are leaking faucets and the air conditioner clicking on, running and clicking off. I imagine you fucking her. Her stomach, flatter than mine, with no trace of razed off hair. Her boobs, larger than my A-cup. Did you feel guilty with your cock shoved up her cunt? Did it matter that you left me? “I am done with you,” you told me, then fucked a nineteen year old with the clap.

I did not throw coffee in your face when you told me about her. I looked at the cup and rubbed my fingers together, picturing the way I would flick my wrist, the way your face would turn, the waitress’s expression.

Then later I saw you with her. “I like your green dress,” you told me. I was so drunk I drove to your apartment instead of mine.

Weeks later, when we are drinking margaritas and eating refried beans, you pull my feet into your lap and rub my ankles, hardly sexual, but I get your meaning.

And now, when you’re sleeping next to me, I dream that we are sitting in a ditch on the interstate, smoking cigarettes that are turning to bones. The bones are shrinking, thinner than pieces of pine straw. I feel embarrassed that my cigarette is gone. I keep asking for more.

Brandi Wells
Brian Evenson

HAPPY - steven j. mcdermott


steven j. mcdermott

Maybe she should just give in and take the fucking sleeping pill. Get a night’s sleep—even if it’s a drugged one—for a change. She thought about those men who did the murder-suicide thing—shot their wife and kids and then themselves—and wondered what the difference was between them and her. Where would her mind have to go so that pulling the trigger once, twice, however many times, would seem not just the best, but the only option? Some joker had told her once that happy thoughts make happy people. So she stared at the ceiling and tried to make up punch lines to the joke: “How many homeowners does it take to screw a mortgage broker into a light socket?”

Steven J. McDermott

MR. PIBB, ETC. - ben segal


ben segal

The only cd I could find was Gregorian chants. All my socks have holes in them. I wore a funny hat to the party. Nobody thought it was a joke. Or at least nobody laughed.

They could always remember my dog's name, even if mine wasn't always quick to the tongue.

For dinner I'm getting Taco Bell. I'm getting a gordita. It means 'little fatty.’ I tried to order a 'little fatty' at the drive-through once. I don't think they got it. They told me that no such item was on the menu. I told them to get a translator. I ordered a fajita. I have a whole list of Taco Bell purchases. I transcribed it to its own notebook.

Dec. 19- Chalupa, hard-taco, medium Pepsi.
Dec. 20- 4 hard tacos
Dec. 22- 2 bean burritos, large Mr. Pibb, etc.

Someone once told me, 'It could be worse. You could be collecting your toenail clippings in a jar.'

Ben Segal
The Heresiarch & Co.
Guillame Apollinaire