Never since the beginning of the world has there been so little light. Even the politicians must squint in order to read their agendas. The October drizzle has been predicted to linger until the dead break out of their graves from sheer discomfort. The soaked children play Frisbee with untied shoes underneath the sharpening clicks of a sky clouded with bats. The poor feel more comfortable in what little time is left because, soon, the Earth will be one big cataract. Joshua, the prophet, sits atop a fire escape, ignoring God, clipping his fingernails. In the seedy alley below, a rat scurries off with a shred of thumbnail in its jaw.

Some evenings we saw solitary men and women floating above the dark treetops. We wondered when it would be our turn to lift into uncontrollable rise. The tension all over the world was as palpable as a pomegranate ripe with blood. This planet, we realized, did not want us to stay here. We decided to return home and consummate our love a final time. We would do it with the lights off, but the land was already a dark beast breathing under moonlight. When we woke, there was crying. We opened the window to look out into the street where another man in a navy tie was rising into a copper sky. I turned to my lover to say that I liked his blazer when I realized my lover was evaporating through the ceiling, leaving us to be an I. (more…)

     Andy, crouched under the dense buzzing of solar-powered fans, screams, “Yes. Are you bleeps getting out or what?” His condensed cry sets the bleeps in question leap off their power-out NCs.

     Rubina taps at her sadly self-manicured thumbnail to trigger green texts blow up before her face. Junk texts and texts of unpaid bills.

     “Next. Next-t. Next-t-t,” Anand joins the reverbed refrain as Andy pretends to nap just as he prays to god only knows how many gods.

     Rubina chews on a power-out toothbrush even as Anand chews on a guava leaf he nicked last night off a 10-rupee Fruitbot.

     After fifteen nexts, Anand almost chokes on his leaf just as Rubina lets out a stifled,

     “Bleep yes. Appointed.” (more…)

     I never wanted to sell hands. I had never thought people would want such things until a lawyer told me I had inherited my father’s hand shop.

     I hadn’t spoken to my father in years, so I was surprised that I was even in his will. Then again, who else would have received the shop? He had no other children.

     I wanted to sell the shop, but according to the will, I had to sell the rest of the inventory first. No reason was given. Maybe my father was punishing me.

Julie Collins: We are here for the third interview with Yeti/Angwin spokesman
Dook. For the five people living under rocks in Blankistan, in the first two interviews we learned that the Angwin are small relatives of humans, who live in the Himalayas. They sometimes have mutant progeny that look just like humans, but all of them are brilliant. Dook agreed to an interview in order to gain a homeland for his people. After a few troubles, he has succeeded and he will tell you about that today.

Tell us Dook, how you succeeded. (more…)

     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.”


This is Julie Collins back with our second interview with Dook, the representative of the Yeti, or as they say, the Angwin.

Collins: What has happened since I last talked to you? I know that you wanted to get agreement on an Angwin homeland.

Dook: There have been bumps along the way, but we never thought that it would be easy. We share with humans the idea that we should hope for the best, expect the worst.  We’ve made little obvious progress towards our goal, and there have been threats against us, mostly against me. We know that we will prevail however.

Collins: Are you doing something to protect yourself and your people?

Dook: Yes, but I’ll get to that later. (more…)

     H.G. Wells once described Chicago as the most perfect presentation of nineteenth-century individualistic industrialism he’d ever seen.  He said Chicago was one hoarse cry for discipline.  It would be difficult to disagree.  Sarah Mennefield, having visited for the first time since she was a child, would find it hard also.  But she had, one night, come upon something quite extraordinary.  Prying a free Red Eye paper from the rack a few blocks from the Gold Coast area, Sarah was pulled in by a small advertisement:

Sick of the three dimensions you’re trapped in?  Come worship with us this Sunday at the Church of the Fourth Dimension.  Services start promptly @ 10:00 AM in the Ballard     Cathedral.-Reverend Paddy Hinton, Minister.

     An address was etched in fine print at the bottom of the square.  Sarah tore at the paper and the following morning took the Blue Line from her hotel to a station within walking distance of the church.  It was raining that autumn morning as wet leaves began to paper the streets.  She turned the corner slowly and entered a building in the shape of an unfurled tesseract.  A large print of Salvador Dali’s Corpus Hypercubus decorated the lobby of the church, which was already in session.  Sarah, fearing her sometimes spongy nature, and, hoping for less absorption by the people already seated, tiptoed to a back pew. (more…)


Beside the flanks of white houses

The plants sing liquefying songs.

Their metallic voices are like

Drops of heavy paint,

Colorful molts from a dragon’s side.

When I hear them

I believe there is a festival

In the inner life of all things,

In the marrow, the deep materials.

A knot of music

That cracks open

Like a frozen skull. (more…)

     By the time I returned, Ellie and I had been sharing the joke about Oisín’s return from Tír na nÓg for so long that it wasn’t really a joke anymore. I had expected it to be the first thing I thought of on the day I set foot back on Earth, but of course it wasn’t. I did think of Einstein’s twins, though, when I saw Ellie. At some stage over the years, I had somehow come to associate Oisín with that idea of twins ageing at different rates when one of them is in space. While I may not have remembered Oisín’s disintegration at the moment of my own, Einstein’s twins were like twin demons sitting one on each of my shoulders when at last I saw Ellie in the flesh after over a decade of pixels.

     I’d like to think that our Oisín joke in itself shows that I really did always mean to return. That, and the fact that I did my best to keep up with what was happening on Earth; most of the time, anyway. I had Internet – something nobody could have dreamed of when I was doing my training, but things were changing so quickly around then. By the time I was ready to leave, they insisted it would be almost like home, with proper gravity, Internet, perpetually freshened air… I was an investment, after all, one whose sanity and health they needed to maintain. So, apart from those few periods when it all stopped making any sense, I watched television, listened to the radio, pottered around the Web. Ellie told me which television series I should be following, which films were trending, who the emerging musicians of the moment were; I observed how the actors we had liked when I’d left grew older and moved into different roles, and how musical fads swung from one increasingly unvarying sound to another.

     Of course, I always listened to Ellie’s radio programme, without fail. People often assume that twin sisters only have a single brain between them, but in fact when we were young we didn’t like the same things. Once I left Earth, however, the only real compass I had was her taste, and that had always been far more plugged into the Zeitgeist than mine. So, even if I wasn’t keen on a musician or series she talked about on her programme or advised me to investigate, I made myself listen or watch until I could persuade myself that I was hooked. Whether or not I really liked what she recommended, it was worth making the effort, just to share it with her. Like that craze for Bollywood sitcoms a few years ago, for example; I’ll never understand why those suddenly took off, but I spent so many Earth evenings dancing – or trying to dance – to the routines along with Ellie and the children that the fact that the episodes were endless, preposterous and indistinguishable turned out to be an advantage.

     It is a hectic Friday afternoon, coming on the heels of a very dramatic week. I have secured our dinner of rotisserie roasted, whole chicken, and the double-egg potato salad. Leaving the deli, I’m a homeward bound hunter leaving the shopping cart jungle and the parking lot wilds with the fruit of my labor.

     Wow! There’s an enormous, tall black man near the rear of my new Benz. Shit! I casually check around me. Whew, the parking lot’s jammed. People everywhere. Witnesses on foot and in cars. He wouldn’t dare try anything. Where’s the parking lot security?

     Oh, shit! He’s looking, looking at me. Is he? He is. Oh, boy, I just need to be calm. Maybe he dented my car and, and…I’m here at the car, so fast, too quick. (more…)