Posted on: June 13th, 2009 Summer Nights

by Meagan Kane

We went dancing most nights, when the air was crisp and full of fireflies, when the lights were bright. Your favorite place was that little settlement off what used to be Highway 51; you loved how bright it shone, a burning coal, against the mountains that surrounded it.

Do you remember those early days still? The sky choked, and everything stank, and nothing stayed built for very long. We all danced then, because it was the only thing to be done.

You especially loved the fringes of the beating, pulsating crowd — you’d shot something clichéd about dancing on the edge, and I’d giggle  in that way you always thought meant I was pleased, when really it meant I was afraid.

Then one night you slipped your slim self too far past the warm glow, and you didn’t come back for two weeks, and when you did it was with a limp because they had taken a foot, as tax.

You looked me in the eyes, took the pipe out of my hands, and said it was time to get serious about starting over.
Houses stayed built. The lights faded back to a complacent grey. We got along.

Sometimes, when you’re not looking, I stamp to rhythms I can barely remember in the cold raked dirt of our backyard, and wait for sunflowers to grow.

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Posted on: June 7th, 2009 Hard Choices

by Tina Connolly

A.  Your little sister is tired of picnicking and wants to explore a cave.  She says if you don’t come, she will tell mom what you were doing last Saturday.  If you grudgingly accept her blackmail, go to B.  If you let her tell mom that you were skinny dipping with Bitsy on the shapeshifter reservation, go to Z.

B.  The cave is dark.  You try to scare your sister with tales of carnivorous shapeshifters who eat bad children.  She says everyone knows that shapeshifters are cowardly beasts, easily beaten by the first planetary settlers.  You ask why she knows so much history when you are flunking.  If you vow to stop looking at Bitsy’s shirt in history class, go to C.  If you tell your sister to be quiet and respect her elders go to D.

C.  You think about Bitsy’s shirt as you explore the moist dank cave.  Stalactites drip on your head.  Go to D.

D.  A swarm of glowbats fly out.  They have a wingspan as wide as your chest, and are phosphorescent during mating season.  It is suddenly so bright that your sister sees you drop and cower, trying frantically to get the feeling of claws and wings out of your hair.  “Let’s go back!” you squeal, but she says if you don’t press on, she will tell Bitsy you’re afraid of mating season.  If you grab your sister and march her out of the cave, go to Z.  If you dry your tears and press on, go to E.

E.  By the light of three hanging bats, you see cave paintings.  One painting shows many differently shaped shapeshifters greeting a rocketship.  One painting shows the shapeshifters bringing stalks of grain to humans.  One painting shows a yin-yang picture — a shapeshifter eating a human who is killing him with a spear.  One painting shows the shapeshifters huddled in a circle, surrounded with lightning bolts.  “Graffiti,” sniffs your sister.  If you think about the struggles inherent in the coming together of two sentient species and how we always seem to flub the hard choices, go to F.  If you think about Bitsy’s skin in sunlit water, go to F.

F.  Past the pictures, the cave forks in two.   One tunnel smells like rotten eggs.  One tunnel smells like the strawberry shampoo in Bitsy’s hair.  Your sister goes down the eggy path.  If you follow her, go to H.  If you follow the memory of Bitsy’s hair, go to G.

G.  Your cave adventure was an funny prank by Bitsy, who paid your sister ten bucks to bring you to her.  Bitsy is waiting for you, arrayed only in long locks of strawberry shampooed hair.  Unfortunately, Bitsy is a carnivorous shapeshifter and you die.

H.  At the end of the eggy tunnel is a bear.  Since there are no bears on this planet, it is likely a carnivorous shapeshifter.  If you proffer a handshake and recite the Human-Shapeshifter Protocol, go to I.  If you throw your sister to the bear to buy time, go to J.

I. The bear’s paw becomes a maw and bites off your hand.  It chews it up while it recites some manifesto about how it rejects the Human-Shapeshifter protocol.  You throw your sister to the bear to buy time.  Go to K.

J.  You feel a little regret and try to save your sister.  The bear bites off your hand.  It spits the fingers on the floor.  You feel ashamed that your fingers aren’t worth eating.  Go to K.

K.  Faint from blood and sister loss, you wrap your wrist in your shirt and run for the entrance.  You lose some time when the bats fly over your head in a triumphal finish to their mating flight.  Suddenly Bitsy is there to save you.  She helps you stand and dries your tears.  She takes off her shirt and uses it to bandage your wrist.  You feel a lot better.  Then she eats you.

Z.  Your mother grounds you from the prom.  Bitsy finds a new boy.  When you are 31, the great Shapeshifter Revolt comes to fruition, the human settlement is overthrown, and the electric fencing destroyed for good.  Bitsy finds you cowering in a bathroom, weeping that you will die a virgin.  She makes love to you, tenderly, sweetly, and you remember a day of sunlit water and glorious splashing.  There is no fumbling, there is no miscommunication, there are no tears.  Then she eats you.

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Posted on: May 31st, 2009 Snake Eyes

by Kevin Bishop

Our real last name was Barnes.  WitSec coached us on changing our identity.  Keep your first name, change your surname.  Initials and first name stay the same as ever, so it’s easier to keep up the ruse.  The drunk in charge of our family’s safety gave us two choices for last names: “Bridges” or “Burners.”  Ha ha ha.

They moved us to Mina, Nevada.  We drove the last twenty miles by ourselves on a sunny but windy September morning.  A sign in front of one of the two gas stations in town read:

“Welcome Burners.”

Not a low key entrance, but it made a neighborly first impression.

It was all a coincidence.

There’s a big to-do in the middle of the Nevada desert every year around Labor Day called Burning Man.  Unique individuals seeking tribal experiences and radical self-expression flock from all corners of the globe to radically self-express in the bright Nevada sunshine.  The festival culminates in the transformation of an enormous stick figure into a hominid-shaped bonfire.  People who attend Burning Man sometimes call themselves “Burners.”  The welcome sign we saw was intended for them.

Not long after we settled in, a real Burner came by our house, wanting to borrow some gas.  Both gas stations in town were out.  As dad stepped into the bright sunshine, his eyes instantly went obsidian.  The young shirtless would-be petrol borrower was taken aback, taken so far aback that he fell over in the dirt.  Then he got up and ran away.  A few minutes later, he returned with a young lady who had not believed her boyfriend’s report of an alien sighting.  Once again, dad stepped into the sunshine, and once again, his eyes went utterly dark.

The young man was ready and this time he sprinted away without falling first.  The woman was not ready at all, and she screamed at the top of her lungs, frozen with fear.  Mom came running, because this didn’t happen every day.  She was also wearing the self-darkening contacts that dad made in the basement, and when mom’s eyes went black too, the poor Burner girl had herself a swoon.

My brother and I caught up with the boyfriend about a mile down the road.  We showed him how the lenses worked.  We invited these Burners to dinner.

Over dinner, dad explained that he had rediscovered a lost process for compressing herapathite crystals, which had a polarizing property, between tiny sheets of glass.  Herapathite at one time had been made in the lab by feeding a dog quinine bisulphate, then mixing the dog’s urine with iodine.  Mom interrupted to ask if anyone wanted cookies, and dad took the hint.

The couple wanted to try out the lenses themselves. Dad gave them each a pair.

“Keep them,” he said.  “See if there’s any interest at Burning Man.”

There was interest.  You couldn’t sell at Burning Man itself, so we set up a small roadside stand.  We’d accept cash or barter on a car by car basis.  The half acre behind our house accumulated the things we couldn’t use, but didn’t yet want to throw away.  We collected as payment all sorts of things: a few hundred kidney-shaped plastic container bedpan-type things, spools of rubber tubing, and several dozen beat-up fire hydrants.  Those burners brought lots of construction supplies for their conceptual art projects and temporary camps, too, so with bartered goods we built a set of storage sheds and a small manufacturing building with a “clean room.”

We started doing mail order.  Dad found someone in Reno to build a website.  Demand overwhelmed supply.  Dad used nitrocellulose polymer film and commercially available herapathite but everything had to be shipped in.  Shipping costs were killing our margin.

Dad looked to local resources.  What did Mina have in abundance?  Stray dogs.

Why buy herapathite when you can grow it yourself?  Mom baked quinine bisulphate dog treats while my dad directed my brothers and I to lay out a grid of fire hydrants, four rows of four hydrants each, for a total of sixteen “collector nodes.”

Gutters around the base of the hydrants were lined with those kidney-shaped bedpan things, like they were custom made for it.  Mom put out the treats and lots and lots of water.  Neighborhood dogs came like pigeons to breadcrumbs.  We harvested dog urine by the gallon.  The resulting herapathite was high grade.  Our profit margin soared.

Dad accidentally used his real name on the patent application.

That’s how they found us.

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Posted on: May 24th, 2009 The Occupation of the Architect

by Jason Heller

The buildings pulled themselves out of the ground one morning and decided to speak. Humans in pajamas or nude save for shampoo streamed in alarm out of door-mouths and window-eyes. Then the buildings strode to the center of the city, sat down with a dull thud, and called everyone to listen.

“Inhabitants,” announced City Hall, clearing her throat. It sounded like a thousand doors slamming. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I gathered you all here today.”

A murmur ran through the crowd. Others muttered. A tiny man all knew as the city’s architect stepped forward, shivering in his nightshirt.

“Silence!” bellowed the Police Station. Pipes bristled pugnaciously from his uprooted foundation.

City Hall resumed. “Ahem, yes. As I was saying. Inhabitants: It has come to our attention that one among you has committed the ultimate sin. The unimaginable sin. For many millennia we’ve withstood your vermin, your arson, even your demolition. We’ve dealt with your parasitism, your sub-par upkeep, your shoddy design.

“But this new abomination you’ve inflicted upon us is too much. It’s beyond careless, beyond cruel. Worse than sacrilege. It’s a… a perversion of the universals of architecture themselves.”

Solemnly and with pomp, City Hall rose. The other buildings rose behind her. Then, in a symphony of squeaking hinges and splintered lumber, they stepped aside.

Behind them squatted a house. Small, brick. A crude picket fence ringed her like a hoop skirt.

The tiny architect came running toward them. “Don’t,” he yelled. “Don’t touch her! Don’t go near her!”

The Police Station scooped up the shrill man and hoisted him to one of his third-floor windows. The man could see an officer inside, snoring soundly at his desk.

“You,” the Station accused. “You built her.”

The man squirmed but said nothing.

The University Science Building ambled forth, flakes of paint dandruffing his eaves. “Imagine,” he said, peering at the man as if through a microscope. “Imagine such a pathetic architect being capable of so divine a sin.”

The man just stared. But he wasn’t staring at the Science Building.

He was staring at his house.

The small edifice had begun to giggle out her chimney and thrum with madness. The surface of her brick skin appeared distorted, unstable.

Her front door pulsed.

Despite the mewling protests of the architect, the Science Building approached the small house. The very air around her convulsed. He reached into that air, touched her doorknob, and gently turned it.

Then he opened her.

Inside was a room.

In that room was a city.

It stretched out endlessly within the house’s cramped walls. Boulevards unfolded into grids of minarets and gold-tipped cupolas. Canals glittered and elephants trumpeted toward the horizon. In the distance, stars coupled in a kaleidoscope sky and fell spent into the sun.

Clustered around the open door of the impossible house, the buildings peering at the visions therein began vomiting: gouts of watery cement, vestigial sewage, the bilge from piss-soaked carpets. It all churned into a stinking sludge and sluiced like lava down the sidewalks.

“Close it! Close it!” City Hall heaved. After the house’s front door had, with great difficulty, been closed, and the impossible room shut from view once more, the Science Building turned to the trembling architect.

“You will tell us,” he said, brick dust floating like smoke all around him. “You will tell us how you do that.”

#

The next morning everyone awoke and prepared themselves for the journey. The people itched wretchedly, of course, but their pain was nothing compared to the invasion of the day before. Starting with the screaming architect, the buildings–drunk on their newfound ability to pervert space itself–had shrugged themselves so casually into the humans’ bodies, as if into too-tight sweaters. Their bones had powdered at the impact, displaced by the wood and brick that now filled their skins. But worse was the nausea, the gnawing at their souls, the knowledge that they were now larger–far larger–inside than out.

And so, newly sheathed in the meat of the people that once occupied them, the buildings stalked off toward the next city to raise glittering, impossible buildings of their own to infest.

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Posted on: May 16th, 2009 Summer Never Ends

by Eric Del Carlo

Mama says summer never ends anymore, and I wear my pink swimsuit all the time and I don’t have to go to school.  Mama says poppa’ll be home soon every time I ask.  My big mopey sister won’t say anything.  I stay in the pool, but the water’s half gone.  We eat crackers for dinner and the TV won’t work.  Why’s mama crying?  She says she’s not.  Then she says a swear:  “It’s hot as HELL!”  And lies down on the floor and sleeps and won’t get up.  My sister is screaming and she goes out the front door naked and sweaty, but there’s nobody left to see her.

I stay in the pool and I don’t go to school.

Summer never ends, but it’s not fun like you think.

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Posted on: May 10th, 2009 Newsmaker 2049: An Interview With Rockin’ Killbot

by Van Choojitarom

Tell us how you got started in music.

My story lot like you hear industry nowadays. I started military robot designed global crowd control urban clean and sweep operations, but at time of commission, riot years over. Later programming decided  “control” bigger crowds “slay” more innocent civilians as entertainer. Also used to working with large crowds, young people and that whole scene.

Started off playing small clubs open mikes in DMZ:  very light resistance. Then on to bigger, more well-fortified gigs. Real break in USO show “Drone-a-Palooza” even playing with many famous live human musicians.

Then you face-raped Clint Black to death.

Yes. That was a bit we were doing. But he really died.

What’s your favorite part of the show?

Probably favorite bit is where I “go live” with primary guns: announce: YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS TO DISARM; TWENTY-NINE, TWENTY-EIGHT, TWENTY-SEVEN, TWENTY-SIX, TWENTY-FIVE, TWENTY-FOUR, TWENTY-THREE, TWENTY-TWO, TWENTY-ONE, TWENTY, NINETEEN, EIGHTEEN, SEVENTEEN, SIXTEEN, FIFTEEN–I won’t do whole thing for you, but you get idea. Because guns are live and people see that because the red lights and are standing around do not know what to do because they are not armed! They cannot comply. It classic, I know, but it always cracks me up. And I love doing because this for me what live show all about. You not know what going happen, whether you to live or to be killed or to be seriously injured, if not by rockin’ killbot, then by thousands stampeding humans.

Wow. What do you do to follow that up?

Well, generally I start shooting because programmed to.

How would you describe your music?

Basically I want my listeners to be all hard. I want them tense with anticipation: he going to rock out? Is he going to rock out? Is he going to rock out? When he’s gonna rock out? Yes, Yes, he’s rocking out! Rock! Rock! Rock on Killbot! Oh God, he shooting! He’s shooting! Now a sickly sweet gas! A flash of light! Everything is on fire!

Where do you think automated entertainment is today?

Real milestone Smashing Pumpkins frontman W Corrigan lived to see show “Oh mi god, Rock is truly dead, there’s this killer robot doing it. ” Now deceased.

What do you think of other mechanized performers today? How do you relate to the first generation of artificial entertainers? Like “Louie VB06″ or the “Tannhäuser” drone copter?

D201-209 series in every way superior.

D209 series was one of the first AI really understand metaphor, though very literal way. You may get a sense for this when I “rock out”.

Also equipped with dazzle laser array designed blind enemy crowds, white phosphorous, smoke, CS capacity.

Just between you/me Advanced Drone Model “Louie” VB06 no have higher level cognitive processing abstract relation. Really, he not much more advanced than, target/non-target. That why he has a shtick, you know: “Robot looks at little girl”; “Robot looks at flower”; “Robot gives little girl flower.” How long it take think that one up? I mean, it history and all when first happened, and I respect that, as  robot (indeed fellow killbot) it made lead story on all government controlled media outlets when  first broke, because people still very wary of killbots. Because killing. Every robot entertainer, but especially every killbot entertainer, owes something to “Louie” VB06. But how many movies can really watch where he gives the little girl the flower? No even talk his remake City Lights.

Are you a fan of the original?

I am biggest most powerful Chaplin fan ever. Not logical, but I want to say: Chaplin was one of us. He was killbot, before his time. We could both crush your windpipe.

So who among automated performers today do you really respect?

I take “Megadeath” (The Automated Roving Weapons Platform and chanteuse) any day. Also like late Suzanne Vega, Gwar.

Thank you, Rockin’ Killbot. Recognize: Questions now over.     Interview ends

?#INPUT ERROR#? YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS TO DISARM; TWENTY-NINE, TWENTY-EIGHT, TWENTY-SEVEN, TWENTY-SIX, TWENTY-FIVE, TWENTY-FOUR, TWENTY-THREE, TWENTY-TWO, TWENTY-ONE, TWENTY, NINETEEN, EIGHTEEN, SEVENTEEN, SIXTEEN, FIFTEEN -ABORT–=just kidding. Check out website: tour dates, pictures, and MP9′s and rotating code you can enter into your neck collar to keep it from exploding.

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Posted on: May 2nd, 2009 Speaking of Butterflies

by JM McDermott

I went to a charity ball, and charitably offered to bring a young woman along. She could never mingle in this expensive crowd without being on my arm.

She didn’t mingle much. Mostly she talked my ear off.

“There’s a butterfly that drinks blood somewhere in a jungle,” she said. She was a biology student at the university – she had told me – and she should know these kinds of things. “It flies around the jungle looking for rotting corpses, and then drinks their rotten blood.”

I sipped my martini. I tried to look engaged. “Do you know what my favorite game to play is when I’m at one of these stupid functions?”

She touched my arm. “You’re not listening.” She leaned in close enough so I could smell her perfume. She had a designer dress on, but I could see the very slight bump in the back where the tag was still attached, hidden under the thin, black silk. I watch for these sorts of details.

“I don’t want to talk about butterflies. I’m changing the subject,” I said. I pointed out at the crowd. “I like to look around and guess who the male escort is.”

“That’s depressing,” she said.

She bit into my wrist with her teeth. It hurt. I ripped my hand away from her. She had drawn blood. I rubbed at my bleeding wrist, annoyed.

“There’s also snails that eat the dead,” she said, “They live in mountains in the desert and feast on dead deer, dead pigs.”

I pointed at a man with a ponytail and a green suit jacket – tacky. “That’s the one.”

“I’d rather talk about butterflies,” she said, “like when the monarchs fly south in a giant, beautiful flock to stay warm. Like how caterpillars will eat poison and eat poison and eat poison and then when they fly nothing evil can eat them because of all the poison inside of them from when they were young.”

She had this conspiratorial look on her face when she said that, like I was supposed to know what she was talking about but all I could think about was taking her home and peeling that skimpy, black cocoon off her back, and opening the front clasp of her bra like two silk wings.

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Posted on: April 26th, 2009 Entropy in 606 Words

or “A Fictional Exploration of Current Thinking on Localized Entropic Models and Possible Associated Unexpected Phenomena

by Derek Zumsteg

Tom wake up more dumb, bonk head on bed.

“Ow,” Tom say.

Tom blink. Tom forget where work. Also how.

“I get less smart last night,” Tom say. “Much way less smart.” Tom head hurt. Tom try to rub head. Tom put hand in eye.

“Owwwww,” Tom say. “Bad day start.” Tom think. Tom think. “Too much think. My head hurt. Time for walk.”

Sun shine. Sky blue. Each day sun shine sky blue. Not like old place. Rain rain rain rain. Tom smile. Nice town. Young girl point at Tom. Young girl laugh at Tom.

“What?” Tom ask.

“No pants!” girl say. Tom look. Girl right. Tom blush.

Tom walk to school. “Work!” Tom cry. Tom walk around. Tom see green tube sign. “Lab!” Tom yell. Tom run down stairs. Room hot. Many box whirr on many rack. Much wire. Man with giant head.

“I know you,” giant brain man say.

“I know you,” Tom say.

“I look for you.”

“What you do!” Tom yell.

“Box work last night.”

“Think box?”

Brain smile. “Real large comp crunch crunch crunch.”

Tom frown. “Box think think think?”

Brain smile. “Yes!”

“No! Box bad.”

“Box work,” brain said. “You wrong.”

“Not box work wrong. Box work is bad!” Tom jump up and down. Dish rag fall off.

“Oooooooooooh,” brain say. “What?”

“Smart box make dumb. When no box: Me, one thought. Him, one thought. Her one thought. Now box three thought!” All look at Tom. Tom jump up and down. “Box three thought! Me no thought, him no thought, you no thought.” Tom stop. Tom look at giant head guy.

“That more or less same for you.” Tom say. Big brain face go red.

“All work out. Black holes. Stuff like that. I write, you read?”

“I read! I say you write wrong.”

Brain shrug. “That you,” brain say. “You wrong.” Brain stick out tongue. “Nyah!”

“Look!” Tom shout. Crowd stare. “More of you!” Tom wave arms. “It draws for more think! More more!” Tom look. Man bonk head. Tom point. “He walk in rack hurt nose. Hey!” Head bonk guy look. Tom hold up hand. “Count?”

“Errr,” young guy say.

“No count!” Tom ask.
Giant head guy roll eyes. “So?” brain say.

“Here! I fly plane vwoosh vwoosh vwoosh me go see mom now crash plane!”

“Oh.”

“No no here!” Tom yell. “I work in lab! What this glass thing? Take home for wife! Smell smell smell. Cough cough die. Die die die.”

“Oooooh. Bad,” brain say.

Tom look for big grey box. “Box write down, or box…” Tom grind teeth. “Box keep in head?”

Brain grin. “In head. Think fast think in head. Write slow.”

Tom find wall. Tom open big grey box. Tom pull heavy top switch. Room go dark, quiet. In the faint red glow of the emergency exit lights, Tom read the labels on the breakers and swapped the lights back on.

“Well, that should be better,” Professor Van Landingham said. He looked around to see the assembled group staring back at him. “Let me be the first to propose that as dangerous this phenomenon was, there’s going to be some outstanding papers in it and there’s no reason we can’t all have our names attached to them if we cooperate.” No one responded. He looked down. “Before we continue, though, I might propose that I would greatly appreciate it if as the first order of business, someone could produce a spare pair of pants I might wear.”

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Posted on: April 18th, 2009 Parasite

by Jeremy Shipp

The tick sucks you out of me in a matter of minutes, but it takes three months before you’re born again.

During the waiting period, I scribble down ideas, diagrams, even snippets of dialogue.  I fill an entire notebook with jagged letters and little holes where my pencils puncture the paper.

Finally, I’m standing over the tick, biting my fingernails, watching him push the embryonic sack out his tiny ass.

“Does that hurt?” I say.

“Yeah, a little,” the tick says.  “But it’s worth the $500.”

“What do you need with $500 anyway?”

“What do you need with a little man?”

You emerge, and cut your way out of the sack, coated with green pus.

“Where did he get the knife?” I say.

“It must be made of calcium deposits,” the tick says.

You’re still disoriented, swinging at the air, shouting something about the army.  I stick you in the black bag.

At dinner, my wife tells me about some non-profit organization, and I pretend to care.  She ends up crying—I’m not sure why.  Maybe I laughed when I should’ve frowned.

Later that night, I’m inside the garage, looking into the gerbil cage.  The black bag isn’t moving, and I’m terrified you’re dead.

But then, when I dump you out, you get up and yell, “What the fuck did you do?”

“This isn’t about me anymore,” I say.  Well, recite.  “You always made everything about me, but it was always about you.  Now you’re gonna pay for what you did to me.  And mom.”

You point your knife at me.  “Let me go, or I’m gonna fucking kill you.”

I laugh.  I laugh at your stupid little knife and your stupid little voice.  I used to be so afraid of those eyes, but now they’re mine to play with.

So I open my notebook.  “You can forget begging for mercy.  I have to do this.”

“You could’ve let me stay dead,” you say.

You’re right, of course.  I shouldn’t be here right now.  I should be in bed, holding my wife in my arms, dreaming this nightmare instead of living it.

But it’s too late now.

I reach for the ant farm.

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Posted on: April 12th, 2009 Apocalypso

by Soren Lundi

In Vegas the odds were against us.  Everyone was betting on God and his angels; they walked around like it was a done deal.  I put 10 dollars on the forces of evil and the bookie smiled and shook his head.  When the day came, everyone stayed in to watch the rapture on TV. Our television was broken.  We could have gone over to Severin’s and watched the whole thing unfold in black and white like a Goddard film, but it just didn’t seem that important.  We were damned either way.

We went to bed early, making love like nothing was happening.  The stereo up to cut down on the noise, your Joy Division records sounding more like the end of the world than the end of the world ever would.  I bit your lip and you pulled my hair and when we woke up in the morning it was like nothing had changed.

But looking out the window we saw the lake of fire, and I for one was pleasantly surprised.  From what I’ve seen of hell it’s a beautiful place, I don’t know how it got such a bad reputation.  I watched you get dressed and we drove to the bookie’s to collect my now completely useless 50,000 dollars as a souvenir.

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