He looks hungry as he plunges his hand into my stomach and rips out my intestines. I watch as most of my colon falls from his hands. Twelve pairs of eyes stare with disgust at my displayed guts. He pulls apart my rib cage, reaches inside, and tears out my heart. Triumphant, he shows it to the horde. A female juror turns away, no longer able to stomach the blood. Each word—fantasy, lie, consent—is a stone thrown. The barrage finally breaks open my head and I disassemble. The defence lawyer drops his rock and winks at my rapist.
Her tears, they seemed so real. “Talk to me, please. Say something.”
Seconds felt like eons. His face showed no expression as he spoke. “You annihilated me.”
Numbness felt worse than any pain imaginable.
“You took away my soul. The very reason for my existence. I’m not here. I’m a ghost.”
The lifeless tone of his voice camouflaged the unspeakable sadness within.
“I still love you,” she whispered and put her palm on the glass. His dead eyes didn’t even blink.
“One minute,” the guard warned.
“I’m done,” he said to the guard and hung up the phone.
The ghost disappeared.
— Michael Croban
Sandra led the policeman through her neighbour’s cluttered hallway. Newspapers rose from floor to ceiling, their even stacks narrowing the small space.
The body lay on a ruby rug. Grey skin scratched red, fingernails torn.
The officer stepped forward, crouching down. Sandra stepped back, watching the couch.
Creatures crept out. Grey bodies without limbs. Silently, they slid up black shoes and well-pressed trousers, covering the black uniform.
The officer screamed, his body smothered. He fell. Dead on the rug.
The army breezed back under the couch.
Sandra sighed. “I told him the dust bunnies would take over if he didn’t clean.”
Dan likes to wear a red shirt, drive to some random Target in the middle of the day, and just start ordering people around.
In the car afterwards, Dan and Z-104 cling to those same songs from high school. 1986. You give love a bad name.
Dan thinks about his soon-to-be-ex-wife. He thinks about that girl in high school he’d never had the nerve to call. It’s funny: he can’t remember her face exactly, but he can still remember her phone number. That long dial tone.
Dan drives to another Target. People there listen to him more than his kids do.
— Robb Lanum
He climbed onto the roof to retrieve a doll, and kicked the ladder down behind him. He gripped the doll and called for help. No one came.
Time melted into sweat across his face.
He squinted at the sky: sheep swimming in a lake, circling a large, luminous pearl.
He flung the doll to the ground, and heard it bounce seven times.
The concrete, fences, cars, and plants had been replaced by a hideous absence. The green rooftiles slanted his gaze upward.
When he finally saw a ladder cross his eyes, he couldn’t tell if it came from below, or above.
— R.C. Weissenberg
The swell in the corner of the hallway ceiling has finally cracked and burst. No longer will it be ignored.
I wasn’t really ignoring it…I knew it was there; it’s just I couldn’t afford to notice it.
Money’s been tight since you’ve been gone.
I feel like the hole in the Artex ceiling is taunting me. It knows that I too will soon crack and burst under the pressure of it all. The tea-stained cavity will remain long after I’ve gone and proclaim to whoever shall see it: “He couldn’t cope on his own: how weak, how pathetic, how tragic!”