Inventory for Good Relationships | by Alina Stefanescu

There is nail polish, a curling iron, this lycra-looking bandage intended to enhance waistlines, an egg dye kit, an IUD, anal beads I bought in Brooklyn, a vase filled with gladiolas. There is a grocery list on the fridge with his favorite beer at the top. There is a mold surgical uplift for sagging breasts. There is a winning smile and white-as-wedding-dress teeth. There is a special shade of red lipstick that makes the white brighter.
Continue reading “Inventory for Good Relationships | by Alina Stefanescu”

Touch Screen | by Paul Brookes

Pub has four doors. Two cold, one above leads to the Arctic, the other below to the Antarctic. The left hand door leads to the hot Western Desserts of icecream mountains and cookie crevasses, the right hand door to the warm Eastern Aperitifs of Lychee Lakes and Squid forests.

The proprietor of Touch Screen is Trans always on the way to somewhere else. Some folk say Trans is asexual, others know better. Talk to Trans the eyes are always somewhere else. Ask Trans directions and the place you knew is never the same. Everyone is a different person after the conversation. Continue reading Touch Screen | by Paul Brookes”

Ringdongdu | by Robert Boucheron

     A city of temples, home to a teeming multitude of gods and goddesses, each with a compound of courts and monasteries, with tombs of saints and sites of miracles, a holy city where religious endowments own and occupy most of the real estate, Ringdongdu might well be called the city of bells, from the constant ringing, tolling, chiming, striking, and tinkling of bells of every tone and timbre, a carillon spread over acres of urban landscape.

     Of extreme antiquity, founded by the legendary King Ringdong, who laid out the city with help from a host of industrious angels, Ringdongdu is the cosmological center of the world. Its religion lacks a name and dogma. Believers say no other exists. Like a magical loom that works on its own, their faith unravels and reweaves all other faiths, from primitive demons to the most advanced theological concepts. The people call their highest deity Lord and epithets including the Many-Layered One, which hints at a range of divine ideas, complex and contradictory. Yet serene amid this welter, they dispense a threefold blessing: “May you find peace, love and joy.”

Continue reading Ringdongdu | by Robert Boucheron”

Deus ex Capital | by Sam Jowett

At least I’ll be CNN famous…

    These are the first thoughts to stray through your head as the Facebook feed buzzes with the pre-canned click bait gossip of the flight you’re on. Situations like these–similar to a good shot of absinthe–tend to bring out the true colors in people. Already, the bigots and superstitious have rallied the gullible into a miasma of theories. Already the end-timers have posted their cataclysmic babble about the rapture. Already, the stakes are being drawn.
      Yet, most concerning, there is a notable absence of you.
      Your friends, your acquaintances, your people who you briefly met but looked attractive enough to validate Facebook certification for future creeping, all join in the whole slactivism shebang in the typical five-minute spurts of passion. But yet, none of the posts seem to mention you.
       It’s troubling, if not a bit depressing. Surely one could gain likes with an easy reference to personal stakes? Are you not even worth that?
      Even most news sites are clinical with their delivery. The top shared article appears to be how American Airlines stock could plummet with a disaster like this, the entire story embellished with allegories to a certain Malaysian incident.
You can’t even reply. The internet died, with the stubborn wi-fi bar feverishly searching again for that elusive signal. 11:48pm. Your social media history is already at three minutes ago and quickly losing relevance. The 24-hour news cycle and its constant demand for panic already begins to fade.
      And you’re on the bloody flight.
      You. Right now. On the very flight that is apparently fucked.
     And yet nothing to show for it. The Red Eye has set the plane into darkness, with only the occasional flight attendant and baby offering any movement or noise. Your stomach is churning but that is status quo for American Airlines’ economy meals. You pressed the service button five minutes ago, but the aisle remains empty.
If there is a reason to worry, the staff is doing a very good job at hiding it.
Gossiping is off of the table as well. The man to your left snores louder than the 757’s engine, and his occupation of the aisle seat has evaporated your bathroom prospects. The woman to your right has enacted a defcon 4 level of sensory deprivation. Earplugs, sleep mask, and blanket ensures that the baby, yourself, and any other disturbances can kindly fuck off until landing, thank you very much.
    Beyond her, the window. Beyond that, an impenetrable night sky.
    You think about what you are going to do in Madrid. Or perhaps “were” is the appropriate word now. A typical twenty-something backpacking odyssey. Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Venice, Rome. The whole Euro-trip blockbuster parade. The initial post-grad scrounging for careers turned up dry, so why not treat yourself in the meantime? Your three year relationship ended in a plot-twist involving your best friend, so why not throw yourself into the hostel life of sex and drugs and hippies?
    A lurch. The plane shudders for a moment. The man besides you delivers one wet, croupy cough, but otherwise there’s no explicit reaction from the plane.
    Another lurch, this one nearly sends your laptop careening off of the foldout plastic tray in front of you. This time you move to snap it shut, figuring it’ll be much safer in your bag than in the hands of American Airlines’ engineers.
    That’s when you notice something.
    11:48 pm.
    Perhaps you could attribute it to your poor sense of time. The laptop itself is out of the question. Freshly bought two months ago. Absolutely no way Apple could be that egregious, right?
    11:48 pm. You clutch your laptop, nails tap dancing along its edges, physically counting up to sixty now, each number getting a liberal pause.
    11:48 pm. You’re at sixty-seven now before you realize it’s pointless. Either your laptop is broken, and Darren from the Genius Bar as well as Tim Cook himself are lying sacks of shit, or something really fucked up is going on.
    Another lurch. A flash from the window. Something shines in the night sky. And it’s close. Far, far too close to your own plane. Your mind perhaps becomes a bit more flexible in its stance. Calmly looking past your neighbor in the window seat, you peer out.
    There, practically kissing the wings of your own, is another flight.
    Recoiling, the back of your head bounces off the shoulder of the man, conjuring up another volley of coughs. Your finger thrusts up, jabbing the ‘flight attendant’ button.
    The wings are touching. In fact they appear to be merging. It has to be a trick of the eyes, but you can’t tell where one wing ends and another begins. They’re intertwined, the lights on the edges of their wings becoming a single neon smudge.
And yet, nothing. No shaking, no turbulence, no crashing. No sound. No other sensory presence of the other plane besides sight. You can only witness it with your eyes.
    And then more lights. Beyond the plane beside you, slightly above it, there’s another flight. The same darkened silhouette, its presence only betrayed by the lights along its body.
    You don’t even bother to jab at the ‘flight attendant’ button anymore. Your eyes are glued to the window, your chin is practically on the woman’s lap.
    Beyond the plane, another one. And another one.
    All of them on the same y-axis of sky, yet each one slightly above the last, curving upwards, similar to what one would see when staring down a hall of mirrors. Moving your head slightly to the right, then left, the illusion continues, the planes moving inversely to your own motions.
    Can you even call it an illusion anymore?
    “Can I help you?”
    The voice startles you, sending your thoughts reeling back into the plane, back into your seat. The flight attendant stirs impatiently in the aisle.
    “Please, I have to remind you that the seatbelt sign is on.”
    Your eyes dart towards your laptop, still open.
    11:48 pm.
    You open your mouth to reply.
    And that’s when the plane bursts open, peels of orange flame evaporating first class.

Continue reading Deus ex Capital | by Sam Jowett”

The Cause of Janet’s Death | by Steve Campbell

“It’s a sad business.”

“It is that. Sixty three is no age.”

“You heard about how she passed didn’t you?”

“Yes. Heart attack, wasn’t it?”

“That’s what the official report said but her husband…”

“Widower.”

“Yes, her widower, Brian. He told my sister-in-law, Carol, that it wasn’t a heart attack that killed her. God rest her. He said Janet’s heart was fine. Nothing wrong with it. He said it was spiders that killed her.”

“Spiders?” Continue reading The Cause of Janet’s Death | by Steve Campbell”

Blue Bliss | by Rob True

Shane is looking in a box. The box is full of light. There is a scene through the light where a rabbit carrion is picked apart by a magpie.

“Thank you,” he says, “I knew it would all work out.”

Shane smiles and closes the lid. The lid slams shut with a heavy bang, but the loud noise seems to come from behind him. Shane turns, shocked by the crash and sees an empty room, different from the room he was in a moment ago.

In the top right corner where the walls meet the ceiling, a shadow is slowly growing, spreading out. The darkness fills him. Horrified, Shane runs from the room.
Continue reading Blue Bliss | by Rob True”

Three Poems | by Ashley Miranda

let’s talk about demise. you are my nuclear shadow. from the moment you intruded into my space
(                           EXISTENCE                          ) has swelled under your oppressive
breath

               it’s vile, the way you touch or think to touch
               your hands are smeared across my mind

               and on my memory of you

let’s talk about willingness. i am willing to visualize you as a burlesque abortion.
you’re an aftertaste i can’t mask with mint

              you are a hollow
              fizzling
              popping
Continue reading Three Poems | by Ashley Miranda”