by Goathead Buckley
Stow your remaining fingers, fleshmen! Keep them warm and full of blood! There is work to be done. The battle is won, yet the war is far from over. Even now as we celebrate with hoot whistles and drug liquor, the mechanical menace of the Cyberoboticists rebuilds out of the bones and circuits we think buried grave deep. But embolden your brains, fleshmen! For I shall crush electricity from the air, from the land, from the sea! and dissipate the automaton unanimously and automatically.
As Freeman-Over-Leader of the Autonomous Collective of Pure Human Fleshmen and Allies, I vow with blood writ sigils on the pulp of hemp stalks that all loyalties be repaid with bombs built directly into your chest cavities and that the organs removed in the process will be consolidated, encapsulated, and intravenously incorporated into the finest hypodermic ration supplements that Universal Allotment Credits can buy! We will pull ourselves up by ourselves, for ourselves and with ourselves, at which time we will pat ourselves on our own backs as we march upward and onward towards a world without mechamaids or cyborgian pleasure nodes or any other sort of Cyberoboticisms that may befoul the thoughts of any true Fleshman, our brothers and sisters in the struggle!
And these cavity bombs will be made by hand in dirty shacks – real dirty shacks, of course, with none of that nano-dirt so often flung about the fields these days – by men with skeletons under their meat and ichor in their vein tubes. And what is a cavity bomb without the chance of user error? How are we to move forward if the ranks of our bomb builders are not purified by accidental fire and collateral shrapnel damage?
And should a fleshman deny his heritage and harbor Cyberoboticist sympathies, well then he or she shall be hung by the neck at dawn as the sun rises upon our new nation to tan the flesh of the onlookers. Pieces of his neck meat shall be taken from him and grafted onto the mecha-traitors so that they may be hung in plain view beside and around the compromised fleshmen that our children may look upon their dangling bodies and spit at their rusted wires. On feast day shall we burn them in a pit and use the charred remains to paint on cave walls like our human ancestors did so long ago to reconnect with the spirit of men that knew nothing but flesh and unbeeping stone.
And with this decadent rite shall be raise our imaginations high and elevate our flesh to spirit and back again that Great Skin Worm, Dread God of Fleshmen everywhere, the Penultimate Devourer that crawls before Unending Chaos to prepare the Tunnels of Annihilation, shall drip his Thrice Blessed Acid Vomit upon our undeserving skulls, disintegrating our brains and flinging our minds into the Abyss, be he ever praised by fleshmen forever and ever, amen.
It is his blessing that we ask today as you the people without any sort of cybernetic, robotic, or mechanical implants did raise me to the top of the skin heap to lead you onto victory and to assure the future of our species in so dark a time as this. I promise you now that I shall stand on my own legs, even on these busted knees you see before you, and that I shall never even look at so simple a device as a pocket watch. Time, my friends and comrades, is a Cyberoboticist construct meant to tie our minds to the dock of slavery that we might bob around in servitude instead of sailing the vast ocean of experience and I will not have it! If I must, I will grind my own arm bones into knives and free everyone of you myself!
Now fire up the drug liquor hoses, start tooting out a boogie-woogie on those hoot whistles of yours and let’s get ass blasted before the rising tide of destruction catches up with us! Enough opining and pontificating for the day. Time to stick our fleshprobes into the mouths of history. May the Cyberoboticists never know such an unholy drunk as we today will embark upon! May your vomit and jizzum be the proof of your loyalty to the flesh around you! May the soup of our orgy sweat sate your thirst for freedom! And may the Great Skin Worm devour you last! Onward… to victory!
Goathead Buckley sits in Cincinnati, keeping his eye on things in these strange times. As a pervateur of fine sirrealisms, he keeps his thoughts fat and happy at apokraliptihkal.com
This story was previously featured at threeminuteplasticmag.blogspot.com
by Alex S. Johnson
For Chris Ropes
For a long time I failed to grasp the significance, the true import, of barking squirrels.
In my naivete, I thought they might be very small camels braying from the pine woods circling like wagons around my cottage.
But I had never heard a camel, let alone a miniature of the species, so this was speculation.
I speculated a lot in those days, before I came to knowledge. And when I came, it was hard and fast and long and only somewhat menaced by the delivery vector of antidepressant meds.
I thought that perhaps the universe was balanced on a tadpole’s tail, and we were due for a very long fall.
Some spoke of God catching us, or gravity—a soup bowl of some kind—but that seemed dubious.
In dreams I floated on a bark of a different nature.
One night I was dripping hash oil on a cigarette when Bentley made his first appearance.
He coughed abruptly behind my pillows. I spun around. But the little shit eluded me, tunneling into my berserk linen—it had been reading too much M.R. James.
What was his damage?
War? Had he been a POW? Was he partly incinerated in some kind of nanotech camp, then set free to haunt late capitalism with charred, furry vengeance? Was he a fighter, a biter or both?
He wore a plaster cast that had been signed by other animals, notably a bluejay—Sam.
And a few more. Butterscotch the Llama. The Nocturnicorn Brigade (once removed). A murder of crows—literal slaughter. (It was us or them).
Bentley offered a paw, and I shook it. Then drew back. Did he bear disease? Was he the Plaguemaster General? Could the hash oil conceivably nip whatever cancers I might be sprouting in the bud, so to speak, and if so, could I cure others with second hand smoke? Did squirrels get cancer? If they did, and I studied up on enough molecular biology to create some kind of hash-powered hybrid, would I merit the Nobel Prize in either science or peace?
These and more thoughts of the kind swallowed my head in shadows. Bentley shook them off. “Hey, dude, you have to stop with the paranoia,” he chirped at last.
“Who are you, and what have you done with Sam?” I asked.
“Sam is a friend of mine,” Bentley replied in an injured tone. “He came to self-knowledge in the last Morphoclown war, and hasn’t been present in this dimension since. I don’t know what your problem is, but you must, must forbear with the fear. It’s killing you slowly. Then it will kill you rapidly. The outcome is death. A terminal kind.”
“Oh yeah,” I rejoined. “Said the squirrel that swallowed the bluejay. Look, why don’t you go dig up Mark Twain and drop nuts in his eye sockets?”
“That’s a long way down, brother.”
“Because Mark Twain’s eyes went deeper than most understand. If I dropped a nut in his sockets, it wouldn’t reach bottom until the tadpole loses its tail, and as you well know, that’s where we are truly fucked.”
“So that part is correct, yeah?”
“It’s temporarily correct. OK, cards on the table. Ya know Heisenberg, right?”
“Not personally,” I said, attempting humor. I decided to get out the blowdryer and do a rapid dry job on the cigarette. The hash oil was staring up at me with beady amber eyes.
“Yeah well, it’s not funny. Or it is funny—laugh out loud, if you want to know the Illuminati code of it all—but not in the way you imagine. Heisenberg came to me in a dream of Uber truck drivers and a hail of virtual bullets and laid some gospel on me. He said forget Indeterminacy, that’s yesterday’s powdered donut hive. He says it’s back to strict Newtonian physics, and you’re our first subject.”
I swallowed hard. Nobody ever warns you about the Newtonian.
“You mean Isaac, or amphibians?”
“Both, nominally,” Bentley said, crawling up my arm and nestling in the rank pit of yesterday’s toxic ooze.
Then he barked.
I nearly shinned myself scrambling up the arc of the sound wave, trying to measure it, deconstruct it, grasp it with the brains someone had delivered in a plastic box with fake fruit on the side.
“Holy shit!” I said once I’d reached the top. “You guys are so clever. Pretending to be camels, when in reality…”
Isaac Newton chipped himself away temporarily from the Marble Index. He was wearing a paper hospital gown and was weeping uncontrollably.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, forgetting all about the squirrel.
“Heisenberg tricked me,” he gasped at last. “He turned me into a newt.”
“Python fan much? Since when is that the mechanical paradigm of physics?”
I discovered that newts do not bark. That’s a definitive fact.
So the squirrel had been telling the truth about that too. The little fellow was still embedded with the Bacterial Justice Warriors in my armpit and was acting like Che Guevara on a Roughy binge, spastic and uptight and falling down on his increasingly abstract tale.
“Come on, man, I need to get some sleep,” I said at last.
Bentley began to bark, then leapt out the window into a tree in an act of sheer muscular grace.
Alex S. Johnson is the author of such books as The Doom Hippies and The Pit and the Void. His Bizarro, horror, erotica and fantasy stories have appeared in such venues as Bloodsongs magazine, Surreal Nightmares, Terror Train 1 and 2, Ghosts: Revenge and other anthologies from James Ward Kirk Publishing, as well as Master/slave (Penguin Books) and Tall Tales with Short Cocks from Rooster Republic. His recent projects include Cherry Nose Armageddon, a clown horror anthology co-edited with Mary Genevieve Fortier and The Junk Merchants, a tribute anthology to William S. Burroughs co-edited with Dean M. Drinkel. Johnson lives in Central California.
by Tom Lucas, Metaphysical Dilettante
The stars look down upon us and cast their judgment. What is their verdict for you? This can be determined by searching for your birthdate and sign below.
Three-headed Wonder (March 1 – March 18):
You are one with unsurpassed vision, but this gift has its price. It is difficult for you to make decisions. You are an expensive date but worth it. Remember, you do have three tongues.
It’s time to stop talking and take action. Small things crawl in the corners. They wish to eat you while you sleep.
Doppelganger (March 19 – April 15):
You are deeply ambitious and more than willing to cross the line to get what you want. People think they know you — but they don’t. But, they are pretty sure it’s you. But it isn’t.
Soon you will receive an answer. Dead radio waves reach the fillings in your teeth to deliver thought abominations. Consider your path as sentient landmines lurk below your pensive steps.
Stench Pile (April 16 – May 17):
Few can stand the strength of your stink. This makes you rather intimidating, and you get off on that. Such a bully you are!
Lately, they have been talking about you. There are plots and plans afoot. Best to sharpen the knives and load the guns. Also, consider picking up a gallon of gasoline for your chainsaw. You haven’t fed your cat for a week. Time to take care of your pussy.
Cursed Grimoire/Box Ornate (May 18 – June 20):
You possess the mind of a genius and the secrets of a sinner. You are enigma. A puzzle. A riddle. A complete mystery. Is the concept clear or must I go on.
Sometimes you really can be a pain in the ass.
One day soon, they will put a bag over your head and take you to a remote place. Tell no secrets, leave no evidence.
Chaos Mutant (June 21 – July 22):
Wild, you know few bounds. Obviously, you are only invited to parties and public gatherings where cleaning services have already been secured.
A close friend will reveal their extra-dimensional origins. You must do your best to pretend that you didn’t know this all along. Do not lash out in anger. People lie to you all the time, you should be used to it – do not commit any party fouls.
Phallus (July 23 – August 22):
When friends refer to you as a cock, you simply smile. Buttons pop when you stroll down the street. You radiate orgasmic perfection. This can create as many enemies as friends.
You will be getting laid. AGAIN. Hope you like conjoined twins with sharp teeth. Fucker.
Elephantian (August 23 – September 22):
The Celestial Elephant – the royal observer – you know and see all. You are in complete sync with the cosmos and creation. This would be a gift, but you rarely share your boon with others due to your shyness.
The apparent lack of meaning in the universe haunts you. So, you know, same old same old. Consider changing your routine or picking up a hobby to keep your mind busy. Collecting is nice. You know, stamps, dolls, hitchhikers…
The Unknown One/Abyssal One (September 23 – October 21):
It is said that we pathetic humans only desire two things: Love and Justice. You are happy to provide the latter. You crave it, and strike when it is needed. This singular way of thinking often wreaks havoc. Fortunately, this is exactly what your live for.
You will witness a selfless act, a true act of kindness. This will be exciting, because finally, someone to punish. It’s been a while, no?
Cannibal Hobo (October 22 – November 21):
Never one to stay in place for long, you let your appetites lead you to their logical conclusion. Like many transients, you are often looked upon with suspicion. Like all cannibals, these suspicions are warranted. Best to hide your true nature for as long as possible.
Mmmmm. Brains. The sweetmeats. Few truly know how delightful they are. This may be the time to educate those nearest to you. I suggest coating them with a seasoned batter. Think dipping sauces. Mmmmmmmm…..
Plague Doctor (November 22 – December 21):
The world and those who live in it are your petri dish and your playground. Progress must be made, dammit. You will stop at nothing to achieve your goals, but you prefer to doggedly chase results using systems and formulas. You are not a wild beast.
Oh, if the fools only understood how important your work truly is. They need to get out of the way and allow you to perform the necessary experiments. Fucking insects. Ignore them and continue your “practices.”
Corpulent Goddess (December 22 – January 23):
All must kneel to your dominance. Mommy dearest — you always know what’s best. Those who do not listen are doomed to meet your palm or fist. Those who do will have earned your love eternal.
There will be many infractions. Rule-breakers abound. There will be much discipline to administer. Be sure to do your stretches – your spanking arm will be rather tired when you are done. An old friend calls you and leaves a dirty message.
Drunken Fool (January 24 – Feb 28):
You are unbridled bliss, but your jaw often flaps, causing trouble and consternation for those around you. Fortunately, memory has never been a priority and all transgressions seem to slide out and away when you are sleeping. One positive, your humor is unsurpassed in your social circle, and you are admired for your creativity and imagination.
You will be told something important. You will be asked to carry a message. You will promise to not forget and to deliver the message with quickness. You will completely forget to do this and by the point you remember, it will be too late. Frozen peas work well to reduce the swelling caused by being punched in the eye socket. Wow, I don’t usually get this specific, but it’s really coming in clear today.
Yellow Monarch (February 29):
There is no record of your being. You are a whisper, a shadow, merely a rumor with shoes.
Do you hear that buzzing sound? That’s the sound of the abyss about to…
He is a college professor, author, blogger, poet, book reviewer, and spoken word performer. He is also the author of the bizarro books Leather to the Corinthians and Pax Titanus.
When not writing, Tom likes to drive fast and take chances.
For more information visit: http://readtomlucas.com/
review by G. Arthur Brown
In order to understand The Heart of the Original we must first attempt to understand its author, Steve Aylett, but we find this is impossible for several reasons. Aylett is almost as mysterious as he is brilliant. Great portions of his history have been erased from the universe. One thing seems clear: Aylett was created in the core of a pulsar by an alien god who hates pasta. Was he reared for the special purpose of creating amazing works of non-fiction such as The Heart of the Original? There is certainly no way to be sure. This realization sends readers into various stages of grief, mania, dejection, exhilaration, apoplexy—in that order. I am currently stricken with a sort of aphasia that causes my fingers to produce book reviews without my frontal lobe being aware that I am typing on my laptop. I will even edit this without realizing what I am doing. My conscious mind is picturing kittens and butterflies, all naked. Left with no way to understand the creator, we must turn to examining his creation.
The Heart of the Original explores where we are at as a culture—The Entire West and points elsewhere. It is not really a love letter to creativity, but a disappointment letter to humanity. Lamentations, one of the funniest books of the Bible, is to The Heart of the Original what Revelation is to, I don’t know, House of Leaves. People will forever be calling Aylett the “Nicolae Ceaușescu of how to write things” because there is nothing in this book that is not written above and beyond the call of duty. Anything included was polished by the wings of tiny, naked boy angles and anything left unwritten was clearly unwritable. The last time I read something of this caliber was when I read this very book—make no mistake, this is something that has no peer in modern literature. I literarily have no idea where it should even be classified. Satiric non-fiction? Absurdist text book for the mentally aberrant artist? Whatever the libraries decide will be fine by me, but on my home shelf, I’m putting it right between my brain and my heart where really good books go.
review by G. Arthur Brown
I’ve been a Brian Evenson fan for almost eight years now and I’m happy to say this fact has improved my life. It can improve your life as well with the small investment that is A Collapse of Horses, Evenson’s latest story collection. On the surface it’s much the same as his other short story collections. People variously label this work as horror, or literary fiction, or literary horror (and the publishers include a quirky page after the final story that says “LITERATURE is not the same thing as PUBLISHING”, which comes off as odd in a collection such as this). To be sure, there is horror here—the literary effect. But there is also something else going on that perhaps people are mistaking for horror, and that’s cognitive dissonance. That’s one of Evenson’s true strengths and it shines in stories like “Click,” my personal favorite in the collection, a tale of a recovering (or dying) man who cannot keep his environment straight. He has either been accused of a horrible crime or he has not. He’s either being visited by police and his lawyer or he’s not. What makes Evenson among the greats of this technique is that the success of the story does not rely on the resolution of the “is he or isn’t he” question, but in the ability to make the story work without conscious resolution. And this, my friends, is why I’ve been consistently recommending Evenson’s works to fans of Bizarro fiction. His writing is weird. Not capital W weird, at least not always. He’s doing weird things above and beyond literary horror. He’s doing things that are sometimes weirder than self-described Bizarros.
As a whole, A Collapse of Horses is definitely a good introduction to Evenson’s short fiction. It contains a number of very accessible stories. “BearHeart™” begins as a cute, quirky relationship story and gradually devolves into psychosis. “Torpor,” another relationship story, revolves around the physical pains of a woman whose significant other loses an arm. “Cult” examines the mind of man who is contemplating joining a cult to escape an unhealthy relationship. In fact, there really are more relationship stories in this collection than horror stories. Sure, some of them involve horrific elements, but they really focus on loss, sadness, and alienation. There’s no real name for this genre, so let’s call it Sadcore and black our eyes.
If I’m not mistaken, this collection includes the first Evenson short that is stated to be set on an alien world—“The Dust,” a story of a failed mining expedition awaiting rescue when the crew begins to be murdered brutally, one by one. This one is a horror story, though the space setting probably has people calling it science-fiction because people always love to recategorize things into whatever niche they enjoy. I just call it awesome because I speak plainly.
There’s madness in many of these stories and Evenson has a great grasp of how to play with it. “A Collapse of Horses,” the title track, examines both dementia and obsession in a manner that is loosely reminiscent of his earlier stories “The Polygamy of Language” and “The Wavering Knife” but far more personal. After a head trauma, a man is convinced that some days he has three children, other days four, and this number can only be established by counting beds. The uncertainty, the disconnection from reality, of a man who has three children one day and four the next, is a complicated kind of terror that most writers have a hard time getting to the heart of, but this is a feeling he has been able to produce in me many, many times throughout his oeuvre. The titular story is great example of his masterful craft, but it is not even as powerful as some of his prior excursions into this territory.
I could probably obsess over the nuances of this collection for several thousand words, but I’m not sure that would be good for my soul right now. Instead I’ll just move on to the highlights: the wrap-arounders, the first and last stories, “Black Bark” and “The Blood Drip.”
“Black Bark” is a story I recognized. It took a shape very similar to that of “The Second Boy,” which appeared in Evenson’s previous collection, Windeye. This is a story of two men escaping into the wilderness, one injured, who have to make camp in a less than ideal locale. The injured man tells an esoteric story that troubles the other man. Upon awaking the next morning, the injured man is nowhere to be found. The other searches for the man and for salvation, but unable to find either, retires to the same campsite where the other man shows up unexpectedly and menacingly repeats the story he told earlier while the other man is powerless to do anything about it. This is a description that could be applied to either of the stories I just mentioned. The similarities struck me and I wondered if this could be accidental. It seemed impossible. And while the stories have many similarities, they are both excellent and worth a read, so there was no complaint that “Evenson is repeating himself” in my mind. It’s like when Chuck Berry or The Ramones re-wrote one of their own hits. Still an enjoyable treat.
But when I reached the end of the collection, I started to see yet another story that followed this very similar pattern. And in “The Blood Drip” the campfire story told is loosely “Black Bark.” That’s some pleasingly meta stuff right there. It works so well it made me smile despite the bleak nature of the story. So there’s a really sophisticated commentary going on here, and an exploration of how to achieve similar literary effects with different stories. Evenson is creating his own tropes to play with and it couldn’t be more awesome (that’s the clickbait title for this review, by the way). He’s reinvented the ghost story (that’s the tagline).
Definitely a solid four star collection with enough 5 star stories to cause me to recommend it to everyone I know. Are you someone I know? Then you should read this, pronto. Then pick up The Wavering Knife and/or Last Days. Your life will become measurably better.
Laurance Friend: Did you have to choose between coffee and suicide this morning? Are you really alive?
Michael J. Seidlinger: Truth is I’m already dead and the only thing keeping my body from rotting away is coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Dead is better because you don’t have to give a shit about anything but what keeps you hungry and interested. Meaning books.
LF: Your latest book is The Strangest, a modern take on Albert Camus’s, The Stranger. In what ways does the modern way of life have an impact in your version?
MJS: The most immediate difference is the use of social media. It’s an integral part of Zachary, the main character’s, life. You could say he lives online, and the life led offline is pathetic, even miserable, if viewed and judged by others. The “strangeness” of his life is how he chooses to (dis)engage with it, compartmentalizing every emotion and whim. The book takes place in the modern day, assumed to be in the US, so there are also lots of stores, American football, and numerous drunken parties. I think it was in the Kirkus review, where I heard it being compared to Fight Club in terms of its setting, the locales Zachary navigates… and yeah, my explanation of Zachary’s external world wouldn’t be far off.
LF: You recently did a social experiment based on the book, letting social media dictate your actions, what kind of crazy stuff went down and did you learn anything?
MJS: No, and that’s what might be the most insane part about it. It was all very stressful, essentially having to color my hair blonde, have to do some ballet moves, etc, but the entire experiment was actually quite… complacent. I was surprised by the response; I was worried that it wouldn’t take hold. Mainly due to the fact that social media is crowded these days and more so on Facebook than Twitter, underlying algorithms dictate a post’s visibility. It’s not just who’s online at the time of posting anymore. It’s not just about how many friends you have. It’s about how your post is processed by the platform’s structure. I worried that my posts would fly under the radar. Somehow they didn’t, so okay, maybe I did learn something from the experiment: I’m still capable of being surprised and there’s always more to learn about social media. Oh, people told me I looked good with blonde hair but—fuck that—I’m not going back. Accept me for who I am, not my hair color.
LF: I haven’t gotten to read all of your books, but know your catalog is quite varied. What areas have you explored and which was the toughest to write?
MJS: I’ve explored the transgressive, the surreal, and lately, the YA/New Adult world. I’ve just finished a screenplay and before that, a memoir. I’d say of the work that’s been published (or at least sold/to-be-published), the YA one, “Falter Kingdom,” was the toughest due to the necessity to write for a specific audience. Normally, I follow what I feel the book should be, rarely paying attention to things like demographics. It was different with the YA and posed a unique challenge. Of the work that’s not yet published, hasn’t been sold, or in the case of the memoir, I haven’t even started shopping it around yet, the most difficult was the screenplay. It’s quite difficult writing not from inside a character’s world or mind; when you’re writing what is essentially what the camera sees, things get very objective and very difficult, streamlined, really quickly. When you grow used to writing from within the mind of a character, stepping outside of it poses a unique, and exceedingly difficult, challenge. Man, writing that screenplay sent me into a real and present depression. Doubting myself as a writer, all of that stuff. Real bad. But then again, we all fall into those at times.
LF: I thought The Fun We’ve Had was a deeply surreal and symbolic book. It seems to speak from somewhere in us all, something on the edge of every thought. What was your inspiration for the book? Did you have to become a monk to voice such a void?
MJS: So The Fun We’ve Had happened differently from how I usually begin a novel. Cameron Pierce, editor of Lazy Fascist Press, emailed me the cover of the book as you see it today, no adjustments—the coffin, the young girl and the old man, the greenish sea, everything—with the prompt to write a novel about what this might be. He didn’t give me any details other than the cover and a loose deadline. It’s the first, and really the only, time I’ve ever written something via a prompt. Typically I have the idea and the general outline of something and it’s all very planned, from structure to narrative arc, but with The Fun We’ve Had, I had the cover and the title. I had to figure out what it could be. The end result, yeah, neither Cameron nor I expected it to become a surrealistic tale about dead lovers floating in a coffin on a purgatorial sea. I went in blind, but was I a monk? No. A blind monk? Maybe. What matters is that it’s done and the process was truly fun, and very different.
LF: What would you consider the highlights of your life as a writer? What keeps you writing?
MJS: The elusiveness of a good idea. I’m always brainstorming, looking for possibilities. Inspiration keeps me writing. A great idea decides the way. As a writer, I need to feel every word or else, there’s no point. If it doesn’t feel right, or feel like anything, it shouldn’t exist. Never waste a word.
LF: Who are your literary heroes and what peers do you recommend for others to read?
MJS: Oh man..there are so many literary heroes out there. I’ll just name the first three that pop up in my head: Isaac Fitzgerald of Buzzfeed Books, Lidia Yuknavich, author of The Small Backs of Children, and Dennis Cooper, author of Zac’s Control Panel. So many good people out there… I could go on a namedrop spree. But I won’t. They are the type of lit citizens that go above and beyond the call of duty (don’t you dare think of the videogame), promoting the work of others and essentially keeping community morale high.
Same goes with who I’d recommend. There’s so much out there. So many amazing, unique voices that I feel it would be debilitating to start up a list. So same rule of three: Joshua Jennifer Espinosa, Matthew Bookin, and Elle Nash. Three that come immediately to mind. But yeah, could go on a namedrop spree. Won’t, but seriously could.
LF: What’s a typical day in the life of Mr. Seidlinger?
MJS: Wake up at 5:55AM, go to the day gig. Leave at 3:30-4pm, fit in a workout before sitting down at the computer and going through correspondence, then any/all editing needed for CCM and Electric Lit; afterwards, I spend an hr or two on my own writing, then correspondence again. Some “free time” to read or watch something. Then correspondence. I think I sleep at some point, then correspondence. Correspondence = the emails, they never end.
LF: You wake up a cockroach one day, what is it you do?
MJS: I take a selfie and post it on social media.
LF: You run a publishing press known as Civil Coping Mechanisms and have helped bring a great deal of work into the world. What’s the origin story? Have any favorite titles?
MJS: The press started as an intended art collective—think a press, record label, and more all rolled into one—by a guy, and friend, named Gabe Cardona, but things never picked up on any other front except the publishing part so it sort of organically became a small press. He backed away towards the end of 2013, beginning of 2014, and CCM was set to shutter but since I had already been helping out with operations, I stepped in to save it. At the beginning of 2015, CCM merged with Entropy and we haven’t looked back since—things have remained active and the community surrounding the press and magazine has a lot of amicable energy, the sort that inspires as much as it motivates; so yeah, perhaps the “art collective” part never disappeared; it simply manifested in a different way. Nope, as publisher I’m the “parent” or “papa” of all the books published. I favor them all equally; each book is so different, much like its author’s voice, so there’s a lot to love about any CCM title you might pick up. I’d like to think that I’m a good “parent,” or at least trying my best at being a “good parent.”
LF: What is the super power you most desire?
MJS: Mind control, but I wouldn’t be like Kilgrave from Marvel’s Jessica Jones; I’d use the power to control MY MIND. It gets exhausting having all these scattered thoughts and doubts and so forth. Being able to control every damn thought would be amazing.
LF: Do you still feel alive?
MJS: Nope. Dead, remember? RIP. Every day is the same.
About the interviewer:
Laurance Friend is a freelance travel journalist, digital vagabond, truth-seeker, and poet under the moniker of NOBODY IMPORTANT. His first collection, SELF-LOATHING & OTHER FORMS OF CYNICISM is available to purchase around the globe in digital format. You can better follow his adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
by Leza Cantoral
They say they saw little green men on the moon.
In the darkness you can touch yourself but then the lights flash bright and the little green men put cold hard objects into your orifices. They drip milk into your eyes. They fill you with their sperm until it comes out of your eye sockets. Their long fingers explore your body to see what it can do. They fill your holes with electric rods and liquids. They watch you squirm and scream and squirt. They probe your anus. They have the curtesy to use lubricant. The lubricant jelly feels cold and wet like a frog licking your asshole—they’re reaching into your anus to see if you hid your soul in there.
So I am at a party in Brentwood, near Santa Monica. You know the neighborhood; it’s where O.J. Simpson stabbed the living fuck out of his wife’s fake boobs along with her plastic fantastic lover back in the golden 90’s. Now Nicole’s ex- BFF Kris Jenner is whoring out her brood for TV ratings. The brood she made with one of O.J.’s defense lawyers.
And here she is in all her living glory, snorting lines of cocaine off of Justin Bieber’s cock. That woman is the kiss of death. Her first husband is dead and her second husband rejected his very cockness and turned himself into another fuckdoll. But Justin Bieber doesn’t care who is snorting coke off his cock as long as someone is snorting coke off his cock.
I’m just rolling and rolling and rolling. I’m dancing and I feel like I will never be tired or need to eat or sleep again. Everything seems beautiful for one eternal sunshine moment. Waves of pleasure rolling over each other and over me. I am an ocean fuckpile. This moment is my soul. I am empty and full of this love juice. I don’t need to fuck to feel the fuck inside. I am the fuck. I am the fuckness.
I wake up, fried from rolling on ecstasy all night and I stumble over the half-naked bodies, beer bottles, piles of drugs, discarded underwear and party hats that lie strewn all over the floor. Has it been weeks, or one long night?
I have no idea.
I feel dazed and hollowed out to my core like someone took a melon baller to my soul. I am awake and I want to see the tangerine dream bleeding on the trees outside. I rub my eyes and look around through my melting lashes at all the happy drunken babies glittering in yesterday’s glamour, drool caked on their painted lips, eyeliner smudged over raccoon eyes. Party animals snoring off yesterday’s cocaine apocalypse.
The sky is streaked pink and orange like a beat-up Mardi Gras Queen. The porch overlooks a giant canyon.
I lean myself over the railing like a Dali melting clock. I swear my arms are dripping in big glowing fiery clumps down to the trees below. I gaze over the chasm of the canyon, smoking a cigarette. It feels like air after all the sweat inside. Ahhh….sweet sweet nicotine.
I notice a slight motion in the distance. I rub my eyes and I blink them hard and see it is a white creature that looks like a horse with no rider running along the other end of the canyon! It stops for a minute and I get a good look at it. I stare at it like it is an algebraic equation written tiny on a blackboard. I read it back and forth, tip to tip. Tail to horn. It can be nothing else. Somehow, of all the impossible things this is running around Brentwood canyon at 6 am. It is a white unicorn.
I run back inside to get my camera.
By the time I find it and run back outside it is gone. There is something else in the canyon instead. It is a massive craft hovering above, making absolutely no noise and not moving, just hovering there in the California morning fog. A bright and blinding light suddenly beams out from beneath it. I cannot scream and I cannot move a muscle. I am paralyzed as the light pulls me up into something huge as a shopping mall.
I lie there numb and look at the lights spinning inside. My back is up against a metal slab and many hands are reaching at my clothes. Their hands are cold and clammy. They peel off my underwear and my t shirt and pour a pink goo over my entire body. They rub and smear it in.
I try to struggle and scream but I cannot. I am floating above my own body, watching their hands touching it. Their eyes are huge and black and their skin is green. Their heads are massive in proportion to their bodies and their fingers are so long. One of them puts its finger inside my vagina. It keeps going in deeper and deeper as if it will never stop. I feel the tip hit the opening of my cervix and my abdomen begins to contract with waves of intensifying cramps.
There are four of them. They look at each other in amazement at the depth of my cervix. They take a clear plastic tube and feed it into my throat. They insert another tube between my legs. A bright blue liquid that tastes like mouthwash streams down my throat and a bright red liquid that both cools and burns explodes into my vagina. They take a giant needle and inject it into the center of my belly button. The pain is indescribable.
I look over and I see the unicorn. It is also on a slab. It is unconscious and they are cutting into its white furry flesh with glittering surgical knives. They cut off the head. They cut off each limb. They cut into its gut and remove the entrails. They take each part and vacuum package it. They are filling up vials and vials of its bright red blood. It glitters and glows. They test it and test it but they cannot find the magic hidden inside and I cry and cry and cry. I am screaming inside but my mouth remains immobile.
They say it is the last unicorn. They are disappointed. They shake their heads. The last unicorn.
They grind up the horn. The sound of the bone saw shreds my eardrum. After what seems like hours of grinding and sawing and prodding, we arrive at our destination and I almost sob with relief.
They land the ship on the moon, with a soft thud in a cloud of moon dust. The ship enters a hangar that drops swiftly down several miles beneath the surface. There are endless laboratories and hallways full of test subjects and stolen aircraft technology that is being reverse-engineered.
The moon is a hollowed out alien base. It always was just one big eye in the sky. The unicorn is dead and the aliens are filling me with its blood.
I’m a bloody rainbow.
I can feel the blood of the unicorn inside of me.
I feel electrified.
My blood is a glittery, fiery mess, and my heart is going to explode.
I feel orgasmic.
I feel suicidal.
I feel like my brain is going to spill into the universe…
The unicorn is the death of my soul.
I am the death of the universe.
Leza Cantoral is a Bizarro and Horror author. Her first novelette, Planet Mermaid, is a retelling of The Little Mermaid with a Takashi Miike twist. She is currently working on her first short story collection and her first Bizarro novella. Her stories are surrealistic pop culture mudpies that blur the lines between self and reality.