Shaq is About to Eat Five Gyros

NB: this piece was written for the I Don’t Even Own a Television podcast’s short story competition, where the prompt was ‘Shaq is about to eat five gyros’. It was soundly and fairly beaten by the actual winner, but I’m still very proud of it, and to this day I’m sad I never got to hear Chris Collision read it. It is immensely silly, and for some reason remains one of my most popular stories. Shaq stared at the menu, and wept. He wanted the gyro with fries. He wanted the gyro without fries. He wanted the chicken gyro, and the lamb gyro. Most of all, he wanted the dark pleasure of the Everything gyro, which contained chicken, lamb, and a superposition of both fries[…]

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in increments

8. There is no order in this house. Somebody winds me but the internals are irregular; they are in the house often, but they do not often enter the room in which I stand. They wear dark clothes now, and do not move often; they go into a room that I do not know, and I must assume they cease operation before they are [re-wound]. 4. There is an accumulation of things on the floor. There is food waste, and discarded clothing. There is a television that does not [tell time]. 9. There was an order, once – my pendulum pulled on the gear train and set all my pieces in motion but— 1. There is [entropy/cessation] here. 7. I know time. I know there[…]

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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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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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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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Sonata

hi im not i any more outta nowhere, a moment of cataplexy – a giving way and i am no longer who i am. this is not coherent, i apologise. we underwent the opposite of a schism and now we are 1. i will list, as best i can: an ice bath a kind man an unkind man needles and thread two men enter, one leaves ahaha. it is a movie reference. i like movies but i cannot remember which of i likes movies. i am a beast of needles and thread, of flesh and bright smiling teeth. one of us liked music. do you know the moonlight symphony? it was the only piece of sheet music on the old piano in our mother’s house[…]

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sleeping dog/paper tiger

It’s not much, except it’s everything: love, money, health etc. I got a real story: real witching hour claw-your-door-down shit. Something to put blood beneath your fingernails and battery acid in your veins. I can’t tell it though, because as soon as I do, it disappears in transmission between you and I. Poof, gone: nobody on the line except a storm of white noise. All the monsters of my imagination are nothing but pencil scratches, and a smacking of lips and teeth. Lemme try, for propriety’s sake. Boy goes out into a field. All the grain is burnt, and still smoking. Heat makes the air shimmy and shake. He’s sweating. There was a scarecrow in the field, but now there’s a man. He’s burnt, still[…]

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firebreak

I got a goddam story for you: some real witching hour claw-your-door-down shit; something to put blood beneath your fingernails and battery acid in your veins. I can’t tell it though, because as soon as I do, it disappears in transmission; poof, gone: nobody on the line except a storm of white noise. All the monsters of my imagination are nothing but pencil scratches, and a smacking of lips and teeth. Paper tiger, meet scissors. Lemme try, for propriety’s sake. Boy goes out into a field. All the corn is burnt, and still smoking. Heat makes the air shimmy and shake cha cha cha. He’s sweating. There once was a scarecrow in the field, but now there’s a man. He’s burnt, still smoking. He’s making[…]

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why wise men die under open sky

She went under the earth without a sound. Funny that; how everybody is listening on the one day you’re least equipped to speak. Listening hard, as if you’re to open your eyes at any second, tell them they were wrong, and let the ache release its grip from their ribs and throats. On the day they buried her, not a sound was heard – not even birdsong. Only, she didn’t die, as such. As a germ of her soul fell through the pine, it took into itself a mouthful of dirt, and another. Greedy, feasting on worms, bones and char as the world turned in the far-and-away. The part of her that left her body behind called itself Ophiadne; the snake woman, for she coiled[…]

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