Posted on: April 24th, 2010 Liviana

by Carlie Holmboe

From the side of an algae-covered wall two bony legs dangled, swinging back and forth and occasionally tickling the stirring water below. These bony legs didn’t lead to a striking Venetian beauty with a toned abdomen and sun-soaked breasts, no they didn’t catch the eyes of passing fisherman or sellers of fresh Italian produce. And it wasn’t that her face was hideous or that her toenails were overgrown, although they did appear to be growing green mold because of the occasional urge to pick at the soft swaying algae. But looking just ordinary without sun-soaked breasts and silly hair can turn out to really be something when it also means that your sweaty, lazy father really believes that you won’t attract anyone else. No one else but him. And so he turns your bony legs inside out and runs his fingers through your straggly hair while you pretend to sleep. And it’s especially bad to have a dad like that who goes to church every single Sunday cause then through googly eyes nobody sees the signs and everyone thinks it’s sweet how he must love you no matter how ordinary you look because he rubs his rosary with tears in his eyes and works his fingers to the bone. And so sitting on the side of the bridge and wondering about humans and how their tricky minds work is something that happens naturally. Most people don’t understand how their own tricky minds work or how they are running with panting tongues and ridiculous shoes straight for bogus dreams and futures that promise big trophies, but in the end leave you mangled and sitting in a Lazy Boy remembering that you had forgotten to do all the things you meant to do, but now your arteries are clogged and air is pumped though a plastic tube and straight into your lungs because they don’t remember how to breathe. And people with functioning bodies are usually running straight toward wheelchairs just to take a break from it all anyway.

So that’s what she thinks while her bony legs dangle and she stares off into the sunset, all the time despising the moles that speckle her thighs. No one could blame her for wishing he was dead, and it’s too late to settle the wars that she charts in coming days and years. All the time the sun is falling and reminding her that it’s almost time to go home, but this time she won’t go home, no she can’t go home one more time and so she grips the green slime with her toes and vomits into the swirling blue water below while a little creaking boat and a man with bright blue sparkling eyes almost passes by, but then begins to paddle smoothly toward her as she quickly wipes her mouth. She can tell by his smile and his untidy hair that he has read a lot of books and doesn’t ogle the asses of laughing mothers as they make their way down the aisle at church. And he probably doesn’t go to church, but if he does then he’s probably right anyway, and so she clutches his hand and steps into the wobbly boat attempting to cover the moles with her plaid skirt and failing because he’s already spotted them, and he says “I think moles are beautiful.” That’s the first thing he says to her and she thinks it’s wonderful because he must really be the one who can save her, and she’s right. Because they paddle silently toward the horizon as the sun regretfully sinks and leaves them in the wailing black sea all alone. But this is just so romantic. And who knew it could happen to such an ordinary looking girl. With moley thighs. She thought it was surprising that he didn’t want to feel of her long black hair or kiss her quivering lips. But he reached under her blouse. And she searched for his sparkling blue eyes and couldn’t find them anywhere. Suddenly, that all-too-familiar sick feeling crept through her veins. She cried and then she screamed and writhed, and the boat tottered. But didn’t tip. And there were no more boats out selling fruit or laughing about bony knees. And no one to notice the splash. And how two went out, but only one came in.

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Posted on: April 10th, 2010 What Makes You Tick

by David Steffen

My holding cell fills with the gas, the sedative they use when they wish to experiment. I play my part, allowing my tentacles to go gradually flaccid, dangling off the table. After months of examination they understand nothing about me. Obsessed by the physical world, these self-proclaimed scientists have placed blinders over their own eyes. I don’t eat. I don’t excrete. I don’t breathe or bleed. Their MRIs and other sensing technologies detect no signs of life, yet I move as though I live. I am a paradox they cannot fathom, so they bring their straps and their knives and explore the frontiers of my body. They will find nothing.

I could heal the wounds in seconds. I could reduce their scalpels to molten puddles, but I choose not to. Every operation is video taped, and my reactions must be consistent. I am curious how long they will maintain interest in the absence of new discoveries. If they start to lose interest I will vary my reaction to draw them back in.

Dr. Talbot’s attention is focused on his incision, the eyes above the gas mask narrowed with his concentration. He cuts deeper than ever into my spherical body, and again to make an “X”. When he’s finished he pulls the flaps wide, revealing deep into my insides, but he sees nothing of interest, only more of the same gelatinous flesh, a uniform gray. Already the first of these autopsy tapes have circulated the internet, but have been dismissed by even the most fanatic believers as a pathetic hoax.

While the doctor focuses on the task at hand, I feel my way delicately across his mind. He pauses for a moment, but dismisses the tickle as nervousness.

This one is a fresh recruit, younger than the others, hired to replace Dr. Carlson who drowned herself in her toilet. Of course, Dr. Talbot doesn’t know about that. Fresh in his mind, just beneath the veil of concentration, Dr. Talbot has been thinking about his girlfriend and the sex they had last night. Her name is Amber. He couldn’t tell her where he was going or why, only that he had to go and that he would be back in two weeks.

They always work in shifts, two weeks on, two weeks off. She’d told him she was afraid he would never come back. Their fear drove them to fornication, a sweaty and messy affair. I grasp a thread of the memory, entwining it around an extension of my mind.

In the present, Dr. Talbot has one gloved hand shoved elbow-deep in my newly opened orifice. I draw the memory of his girlfriend up from his subconscious, piercing through the shield of his focus like a needle through cloth.

His hand pauses inside me as lust arises in his mind. His genitals respond to the stimulus. He shakes his head, trying to clear his mind again, but I hold the memory there. Already I can feel the associative threads solidifying between this operating table and his bed, her genitals and the gaping maw of my rent flesh. He continues his work as though nothing were wrong, the only visible signs the bulge in his trousers and the sweat on his brow. His brainstem battles with his conscious mind, and he is both aroused by the operation and frightened by his own arousal.

When he’s finished I release the memory. I have learned in my short time here that such associations take minutes to create, but are permanent once formed. Operating tables will make him think of Amber, and naked women will make him think of me.

He washes his hands, shuts off the video camera, and returns to his quarters where he immediately satisfies his urges in a complex wash of pleasure, disgust, worry, and fear. He is already my favorite test subject, his mind so easy to inflame. I hope he lasts longer than the last one.