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Flash Fiction Friday: Bushland

by: Avichai Brautigam

We mined the planet dead. Not in the sense that we burrowed, like dwarves, carving Morias and Morias into the crust till it all came apart; it was Bitcoin that did us in. Somewhere, in the moldy basement of some half-forgotten Department of the Bureau of the Ministry of the So On, someone received a report about energy usage, marked up in red ink–absolutely bloodied by red ink–that said, more or less, that the total amount of energy spent mining Bitcoin was equal to the yearly energy usage of the country of Denmark. No one must have thought anything of it, for no one since Shakespeare has thought anything of Denmark. In some corner of an unprinted advertisement in a forgotten sheet of the Times, a breathless junior reporter and/or unpaid intern set to writing the story up, trying to fit it into the three lines given to him so graciously by Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. No one read it, and it didn’t even make the news.

The next year, our basement schlub of So On got another report, this one dripping red ink onto the floor like globules of blood in the aftermath of a murder. It said, more or less, that the total energy expended on Bitcoin mining was now equal to the yearly energy usage of the US. Now that made the news! People actually think about the US–albeit rarely in a kind way–and they knew that the US used a metric shit-ton of energy, even if the US couldn’t measure shit-tons metrically. In the panic, some brave Pulitzer Prize winning journalist broke the story, like a modern day Woodward and Bernstein (the intern from the year before had gotten the boot from the Times and de Sales both). For this he was awarded the Nobel for Literature, since they give that out to anyone nowadays, even folk singers.

It was apparent to everyone that this state of affairs couldn’t last, but some meeting must have been held at the highest levels, possibly involving Elder Gods, and it was decided that this state of affairs could, in fact, last. There was money in it, and the price of Bitcoin could more than keep pace with the build-up of greenhouse gases. There was a positive correlation, and Americans adore positivity and affirmation, so we affirmed that the earth would henceforth be a sauna and everyone set to mining.

As the Warm-Up (that was the new, approved, and improved name for it) sauntered on, the outside world got unbearable. Underground, massive supercomputers chugged violently on, solving inhuman equations, and belching fumes. In the sealed glass domes of Wall Street, value accumulated like the rancorous ghost of Marx; in the brick-paved towns of Bumfuck, melting slowly away in the heat, preachers took to every corner, braving the fires of earth to warn of the fires of Hell. No one needed to do any imaginative work as Jonathan Edwards was dug out of the sealed vaults of Calvinist heritage and spewed to new crowds of the predestined.

In between the rutting of CO2 and methane, going at it like barnyard pigs, multiplying on and ever on, shutters were heard the world over. All of civilization (and America too) was being rocked by violent quakes. The scientists, done up in their lab coats and sweating cannonballs, stood in front of the cameras to warn that overuse of the supercomputers was causing the earth to rupture. Being good, sensible defenders of the status quo, they simply asked that the ceaseless mining be limited by 30%; to ask anything more would have been utopian. No one paid any attention, and the only people that paid were already mining Bitcoin, so the computers chugged on.

In any case, they were wrong about the causes of the quakes, as we later learned when an army of Kate Bushs–all completely identical and fresh off their 1979 performance of “James and the Cold Gun” in London–poured out of every cave, crag, valley, and depth to march on the cities of man. Mother Earth had dispelled, from all orifices in her pained crust, an unstoppable horde. Soon, we were getting reports by the day of cities lying in ruins, supercomputers flaming in the evening light, pale armies of identically-costumed Art Rock superstars, rivers of blood flowing in vast streams through suburban streets–the works.

London down.

Paris down.

DC down.

Now I wait, on the porch of my little ranch house in Central PA, gun in hand, boyfriend by my side, and the wan buzz of a bug-zapper above us. I wait for the army of Rock goddesses, bearing rifles and intoning lines from Joyce, to enter my swamp of a suburb. In no way do I believe that this rifle will do me any good; I simply wish to be able to die with dignity alongside my boyfriend. For a long time, the night is as silent as that one in Bethlehem millenia ago. Then I hear them.

Running up that hill.

________

Avichai Brautigam is a philosophy major and a local of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In his free time he writes fiction and talks Marx with friends. You can find him on Twitter and WordPress.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: MOM WANTS BOY TO GET NEW SLACKS FROM SEARS

by: Christopher Lesko

Mom: C’mon we need to get you some new slacks. They’ve got good deals going on at Sears right now.

Boy: You’re hurting my arm.

Mom: I need you to hold my hand when we cross. Could be a weed maniac zipping around the corner. People never go the speed limit in mall parking lots.

Boy hobbles behind Mom while she tugs him along. He’s fourteen years old and can probably make it on his own, but she insists on overprotecting him from weed maniacs.

Man in car sees Boy and Mom ahead. The man is a weed maniac. He puts the pedal to the metal. As he plows right into them, they pop like a lighter to a balloon. And that’s the end of the mom and boy’s story. No going to Sears for them. Ever again.

________

Christopher Lesko is the author of The Grlz Like Vodka, Long Live Crazy, That’s My Ghoul, The Electric Lunatic, Fukced Up, Roxy, and Don’t Thowe Away Please.  You can follow him on Facebook and buy his books on Amazon.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


New Release: Fortune Box

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No one knows where or what Tower Ltd Surprise Packages is or why it’s sending gifts to complete strangers across The City. All they know is that each package is the best thing that’s ever happened to them…or the worst.

In one box is a packet of seeds that allows you to grow your perfect date. In another there’s a cupcake that causes anyone who eats it to grow eyeballs all over their skin. There’s also a parcel with a mousetrap that turns all your enemies tiny. Or you could receive your autobiography, which when signed, makes your every thought famous. Or maybe even a key to a secret door that leads to another dimension where all your unfinished and abandoned projects exist. But with each package received comes both fortune and misfortune that will surely result in unexpected consequences.

Like a season of episodes from The Twilight Zone or Friday the 13th The Series, comes a collection of dark and humorous stories from the premier British female author of bizarro fiction.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Dollar Pizza

by: Ben Fitts

I was excited to be back in New York City. I had grown up there and always thought I would end up living my whole life in the city, but the four years I planned to spend in New England for college had into stretched nine and there was no end in sight.

But my and girlfriend Michelle I were spending the day in the city. We were going to see the stoner metal bands Canabyss and Capra Coven play at Saint Vitus that night, and I was stoked to show her all of my favorite spots.

“I promise Italianame’s Dollar Pizza is the best you’ll ever have,” I told her as we bustled down a crowded street. “And it’s only a dollar! I really hope it’s still there.”

Michelle and I paused outside when we reached the place. There was a big handwritten sign taped to the glass.

Now no longer accepting dollars.

“What does that mean?” asked Michelle.

I had no idea. She shrugged and we headed inside.

A sweaty middle-aged man mulled behind the counter. My jaw dropped when I saw him. He was Italianame himself.

It’d been over ten years and he clearly didn’t recognize me, so I didn’t say anything.

“Excuse me,” asked Michelle, “We saw your sign out front. What does it mean that you’re not accepting dollars anymore?”

Italianame shrugged.

“I’ve got too many dollars,” he said. “I don’t need no more, so I don’t take ‘em.”

“What do you mean you have too many dollars?” I asked.

“I’ve been running this dollar pizza place since I was a young man, and I’ve sold more slices now than there are rats in this city. Over time, you just get too many dollars. More than you can do anything with.”

“I still don’t get what you mean though. How can you have too many dollars?”

Italianame snorted. “I’ll show you too many dollars,” he said and swung open a door to a back room behind the counter.

The room was filled from floor to ceiling with stacks and stacks of single dollar bills. There would scarcely have been room for an ant to crawl in there.

“Now do you see what I mean?” he demanded.

“For twenty-seven years I’ve run this pizza place and the deal has always been the same. You give me a dollar, I give you a slice of pizza. Eventually, you get too many dollars! What am I supposed to do with all these dollars? You can only make a fort out of them so many times before it just gets old. So now I no longer take dollars in exchange for pizza.”

“Sure,” Michelle said. “I’ve got a debit card.”

“I don’t take debit.”

“So how do we pay for the pizza?” I asked.

“Pay with something that I have less of. Like toes.”

“Toes?”

“Yeah, toes. I’ve only have ten toes. I could still use more of those.”

“Could it just be one of my pinky toes?” I proposed.

“I only have two of those! I could definitely use a third. You give me one of your pinky toes, and I’ll give you any slice on you see on display there,” he said, gesturing to rows of pizzas with various toppings behind a sneeze guard.

“Just chop one off with this thing,” he said, handing me a long kitchen knife.

The toppings were eclectic. The pizza with I ♡ NY keychains salvaged from the corpses of murdered tourists didn’t look particularly tasty, but to be fair it did look better than the pizza whose topping was dogshit that never got picked up.

“I think I’ll have a slice of the Strawberry Fields pizza.”

“Sure, I just need that toe.”

I nodded, unlaced my boot, and sliced off my pinky toe with the knife. I handed him the bloody stump of severed flesh.

“And what do you have to pay for your pizza?” he asked Michelle.

Michelle examined the pockets of her denim jacket. “How much pizza would you give me for a quarter gram of weed?”

Once we had sat down at a table, I felt a little jealous nibbling on my slice with my toe bleeding in my combat boot while I watched Michelle devour the two entire pies that Italianame had given her. Michelle had already started pregaming for the Canabyss/Capra Coven show that night and had the munchies pretty bad, so I didn’t ask her to share. I knew her well enough to know she’d eat it all herself when she was this high and enjoy every bite of it more than I ever would.

I enjoyed my Strawberry Fields slice though.

The slice was a New York classic, a reference to the Central Park landmark of the same name honoring John Lennon. Each slice’s toppings consisted of four beatles scavenged from the very field itself.

I wasn’t expecting them to still be alive though. Their legs pumped madly and they flapped their little insect wings, but they couldn’t get away. They were trapped to the pizza by its sticky cheese and sauce.

“Are you going to finish that?” she asked, pointing to my half eaten slice.

“Yeah, I’m going to finish my only slice,” I said as sweetly as I could.

“That’s good,” said one of the beatles on my slice in a British accent, its wings flapping. “I thought you were full already.”

“Shhh, Ringo,” scolded another one of the beatles on my pizza. “I don’t want to get eaten!”

“Oh, come off it, Paul,” said a third beatle. “We’re beatles! What are we if not consumed? Turtles? Bay City Rollers?”

I had had enough of their yammering then, and stuffed the slice into my mouth. The beatle’s spiky thoraxes crunched between my teeth. As I chewed, I could still hear one of them singing to itself “Da da da, da da da da dum dum da”. The catchy melody echoed in my skull as I swallowed the bugs in my cheese.

________

Ben Fitts is a writer and musician from New York City. His stories have been featured in Bushwhacker Zine, Silent Motorist Media, and The Truth Is Out There.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


New Release: Aetherchrist

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The digital era: Analog is all but dead, but the rusted towers still strobe on the evening horizon. They project a conflicting myriad of hope, despair and eyeless ghouls who claim to see the world in gigahertz.

A small town in Vermont broadcasts prophecies of its residents deaths. Rey, a cutlery salesman, seems to flicker at the center of every murder on screen. He thinks the town is rigged with cameras, or the locals are trying to set him up. But as the broadcasts grow increasingly surreal, and maniacs start showing up in town to remove his sensory organs, Rey starts to realize that the images pulsing beneath the static-riddled airwaves have woven him into a battle between people who believe that analog is the frequency of the gods.

Get it here


New Release: Winnie

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Winnie and Colt forever. Winnie is Colt’s one and only, Colt is Winnie’s true love. Winnie is Colt’s rifle. There is nothing Winnie wants more than to please Colt and since a rifle is everything the young cowboy’s ever wanted, she certainly does that. But one day Winnie finds that she is not a rifle but in fact a woman. Can Winnie keep the sparks between them ignited, even if she isn’t the gun of his dreams? What happens if she can’t?

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New Release: Clash magazine, Issue #1

 

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CLASH Books presents Issue #1 of CLASH Magazine featuring some of the most talented writers working in the small press world today. CLASH brings together non-fiction, poetry, and fiction spanning different genres, perspectives, and unique voices including: Autumn Christian, Sam Pink, Daniel Knauf, Gabino Iglesias, Lisa Marie Basile, Stephanie Wytovich, Madeline Swann, Christoph Paul, Joanna C. Valente, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Danger Slater, Loren Kleinman, Charles Austin Muir, Ashley Inguanta, Brian Alan Ellis, Monique Quintana, Sam Richard, Stephanie Valente, Leza Cantoral, B. Diehl, Emily Paskevics, Maxwell Bauman, Kat Giordano, and Joel Amat Güell.

Get it here