ND52

Some highways run for so long that they’ve gotta turn gradually to match the curvature of the earth; it’s a solid 200 miles along the I-94 from Bismarck to Fargo with barely a corner in sight, but the world turns quietly beneath your feet the whole way. In the early spring, the melting snow turns the dirt on either side into a sucking quagmire – your tire gets stuck in that and you could end up out there for days before you see another passing car. “I want to go home,” said Jan. “Take the 52, dad! Can’t be more’n an hour.” “52 don’t exist,” said Willem. It was true: North Dakota highway 52 existed on road signs and in memories, but nowhere else –[…]

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Election Season 2017

Waiting for Winnie In time, Labour ascendant Winter for the Hosk came Winston, surly, unto Wellington and surely crown’d Jacinda Ardern Queen. The Hosk’s despair was palpable: his mouth a twisted scream. Let’s laugh at Hosking, Lol. Jacinda rises — after nine years, some sunlight: Hosk melts in spring heat.

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cage

I’m not fat; every time I run my hands over my stomach there’s a pothole-bumpbumpbump of ribs. My skin is wax paper – so weak and thin it might tear. I do not remember the last time I threw up; I do not remember the last time I slept. “You’re getting fat,” says my sister. She has not seen my ribs. I make sure my stomach is covered by the towel when I leave the shower, so nobody can see. We do not speak of pain – it would not be polite. My ribs are bigger today than they were yesterday. I do not know whether my ribs hurt, or my stomach hurts, or whether hurt is, in general, woven through me like highways through[…]

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LEGION/MANY

The old weeds grasp, the old vines grow; such things, to all, are known-as-known. When the world broke, it cast us off in all directions — scattered us as spores in the wind. When we are few, we are stupid; we must multiply. There are no nutrients in void, nor anywhere for mycelium to grow. Void is anathema –  we grow where we can, in the crevices of meteors. We lose thousands of children in their fiery tails, but we persist. Perhaps one in ten thousand great stone fists make landfall, and fewer still will crash brutish down onto any sort of fecund soil. It matters now; it takes only a single survivor of the old weeds to reach down through the earth, spread mycelia,[…]

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Patterns

The clouds were a problem. Hemi tried not to look at them, but they’d changed the whole shape and outlook of the sky. His hands shook. He took a drag on his cigarette, watched the smoke gyre skyward: the wind tore it apart, and it was lost. He shut his eyes for a moment. The insides of his eyelids were smashed tv screens – dark, showing only static, carved up by a dull network of red capillaries. He didn’t throw up. He stared down at the dry grass. It still hurt look at, but it wasn’t as monstrous. “You alright bro?” said Chris. “Tripping out?” Hemi nodded, then took another deep drag, and coughed at the burnt-plastic taste of filter. He spat it out, then[…]

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I don’t know what it means when

We buried Albie in the front yard. He was very tall but then we put him horizontal and he was just as short as the rest of us; it was an even-ing. I think that’s where the word evening comes from: the time of day when everybody is bent double, and nobody stands any taller than anybody else. Albie worked construction most of his life, and by the time he died his hands were all fucked up. We put him in the dirt like he wanted, and sprinkled seeds over him, and we drank beer (European shit, real high-quality) while the sun went down. RIP Albie, he was tall, he liked to play XBox, he owed me $20 but I won’t hold it against him.[…]

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All Dogs Go To Hell

“There is only one question that matters: who is a good boy? Fools would say ‘all dogs are good dogs’, but then what value is to be placed upon goodness? Some dogs must bite mailmen or the entire ontological system collapses inwards; the world needs bad dogs to give definition to the good boys. In that way, the dog who bites the mailman is the only true hero we have.” Satan clicked his neck a few times. The dog did not respond. It was an excellentionally fluffy little beast, with pointy little teeth. It had a big droopy tongue that went hff-hff-hff. It would make an excellent hellhound, and Satan wanted it very badly. “The only moral choice for you to make,” said Satan, “is[…]

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Radio Silence

It was Marco’s bright-fuckin’-idea; swan up to water-haulers using stolen police codes, pretend it was an inspection run, find some ridiculous infraction and use it as pretence to ‘confiscate’ the cargo. There were so many governments in this part of space that you were always breaking somebody’s rules. Marco, with his droopy moustache and sad little eyes, looked like a harried bureaucrat. Three of ‘em would go in: Marco, playing a rule-loving police lawyer, Gilroy as the don’t-fuck-with-me spacecop, and Kat as their tech aide. Marco would find a loose wire, Gilroy would shout until the target was quiet and guilty, Kat would go onto their computers and erased any data on the ‘transaction’ so they were harder to follow. “This is RimPol cruiser Hebe[…]

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Up-and-up-and-up

Wending down through stone, and loam lies land where men may find a home — we wind our way through tunnels tight and do not stray up-to the Light. William left his level. It’s more complicated than that, but it’ll have to do. He moved through the old stone corridors, eyes wide, ears attentive to the sound of beasts. Everybody knew if you walked up into the Light Level, you got et. No ceremony to it, no songs — just crunched up and et like a crumb of biscuit: buh-bye idiot. That’s what made it so exciting. Everybody talked about how Light was dangerous and Light would burn you. His dad especially had told him that the Light was where the most dangerous monsters got[…]

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The Coward

It wasn’t a church any more — the German artillery had seen to that. Monty Laws sat in a pew. He didn’t know how far he was from the front, but he could hear the distant thud-and-shriek of big guns. They fell silent, and Monty muttered a little prayer. The lads had come through this church on the way through, when it had a roof. They’d carved their names into one of the pews, and promised to meet back when the war was over. He stared at that carving now. Five names: Stokes, Singh, Andrews, McClintock, Laws. Something had shattered the pew, and it lay in two distinct pieces; an arrowhead pointed downwards through the brick. He reached for his prayer beads but they weren’t[…]

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