Online Fiction

The Vulture Maiden

With the development of our socialist system, the social system for the natural extinction of religion was established.

— Ganze Prefecture Policy on Religious Freedom

Chapter 5, Section 1: “Freedom of Religious Beliefs is a Long-Term Policy That Will Prevail Until the Natural Extinction of Religion.”

I.

The Spring Festival began at sunrise with the roar of a giant kangling carried by two monks and blown by a barrel-chested third who stood on the highest wall of the Shining Hill monastery’s central temple. Golden light, like the voice of the horn made visible, lanced into the gray shadows that covered the broad valley as the sun peered through a notch between distant peaks capped with violet snow. Frost evaporated from the tufted brownish grasses, mingling with low, icy vapors that made the sky appear to shimmer like a silken tapestry. In the hall below, the crashing of cymbals rose to overpower the kangling’s dying wail, and then came the low, deep-throated chanting of the monks. The rocky hill behind the monastery began to glow with a warm, honeyed light.

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Terror Fan

Runick shoved a rolled-up towel against the bottom of the door to keep the smell of pot out of his room; it filled the corridor with a sickly scent and made him ill at ease, a distraction where he was going. He drew the curtains to shut out the grey October light, cutting off his sight of the campus paths, students rushing everywhere in a light rain. Read More

Wunderkindergarten

The One and Only Entry in Shendy’s Journal

Dabney spits his food when he’s had too much to think. Likki spins in circles till her pigtails stick out sideways from her blue face, and she starts choking and coughing and eventually swallows her tongue and passes out, falling over and hitting me and cracking the seals on my GeneKraft kit and letting chimerae out of ZZZ-level quarantine on to the bare linoleum floor! Nexter reads pornography, De Sade, Bataille, and Apollinaire his special favourites, and thumbs antique copies of Hustler which really is rather sweet when you consider that he’s light-years from puberty, and those women he gloats and drools over would be more than likely to coo over him and chuck his chin and maybe volunteer to push his stroller, though I’m exaggerating now (for effect) because all of us can walk quite well; and anyway, Nex is capable of a cute little boner, even if it is good for nothing except making the girls laugh. Well, except for me. I don’t laugh at that because it’s more or less involuntary, and the only really funny things to me are the things people do deliberately, like giving planarian shots to a bunch of babies for instance, as if the raw injection of a litre of old braintree sap can make us model citizens and great world leaders when we finally Come of Age. As you might have guessed by now, when I get a learning overload I have to write. It is my particular pornography, my spinning-around-and-passing-out, my food-spitting response to too much knowledge absorbed too fast; it is in effect a sort of pH-buffering liver in my brain. (I am informed by Dr Nightwake, who unfairly reads over my shoulder from time to time – always when, in my ecstatic haste, I have just made some minor error – that “pH in blood is buffered by kidneys, not liver”; which may be so, but then what was the real purpose behind those sinister and misleading experiments of last March involving the beakers full of minced, blended and boiled calf’s liver into which we introduced quantities of hydrochloric acid, while stirring the thick soup with litmus rods? In any event, I refuse to admit nasty diaper-drench kidneys into my skull; the liver is a nobler organ far more suited to simmering amid the steamy smell of buttery onions in my brain pan; oh well-named seat of my soul!) In short, writing is the only way I have of assimilating all this shit that means nothing to me otherwise, all the garbage that comes not from my shortshort life but from some old blender-brained geek whose experiential and neural myomolecular gnoso-procedural pathways have a wee bit of trouble jibing with my Master Plan.

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The Middleman Trilogy

LOVE COMES TO THE MIDDLEMAN

Upon the wall, the neighborlings were arguing. Jack listened to the piping voices with increasing anger. The problems of the little people sounded all too much like his own, except smaller.

He opened his eyes and searched for the offending home among the array of tiny buildings stacked to the ceiling of his room. In most, the lights were dim or out completely; in a few, tiny shadows moved against the curtains. The smell of almond tobacco smoke drifted from half-open doorways; newspapers rustled. As a rule, the smaller citizens went to sleep early, and those who stayed up kept their voices down once he’d turned off his light.

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Wartorn, Lovelorn

It was summer in the wine country, in the cleft of a hilly vale steeped in green heat. I had a noseful of dust, pollen and sex. Our sticky bodies separated slowly as we sat back in the remains of our picnic, the white cloth dirty and disheveled. Carcasses of roast game hens and rinds of soft cheeses were strewn about. The dry, greedy earth had drunk most of the vintage from a toppled bot­tle, and what remained we quickly swallowed.

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The Demonstration

As they approached the site of the company picnic, Dewey and his parents saw a crowd of weird-looking people standing along the roadside waving picket signs. Dewey’s father muttered, “God damn” under his breath.

“Roll up your window, Dewey,” said his moth­er.

“Who are they?” Dewey asked, putting up the rear window of the sta­tion wagon.

“Anarchists,” his father said. “They’d like to see us all turned into animals — and worse.”

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Muzak For Torso Murders

Donny gets to work with the quick-setting cement; it will proba­bly have hardened before most of the blood has congealed in the chest’s cavities. The brass lion’s feet on the antique bathtub gleam from his attentive polishing, as does the porcelain inte­rior, scoured so many times with Bon Ami that the scratch marks of steel-wool pads appear in places. Shiny black plastic-wrapped parcels almost fill the basin.

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Bruno’s Shadow

Through the light which shines in natural things, one mounts up to the life which presides over them.

-Giordano Bruno

Creaking, the heavy door swung open, and I stepped into the darkened cell. The old gatekeeper waited at my back. Two hundred years ago he would have been a jailer, and this might have been my cell. I straightened up slowly, uncertain of the ceiling height, and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dimness. I had an electric lantern with me, but I wanted my first impressions of the cell to match those of its last tenant. What had he felt as the door closed behind him and the key turned in the lock? In the end, had his eyes turned huge and sight­less from staring into shadows? Had he seen the pyre to which they led him after so many years in the dark? Or had that fi­nal dawn burned out his eyes, even before the flames of the auto-da-fe came leaping from below?

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Uneasy Street

“Ah, good, here come the cops to arrest some more mutants,” said Raleigh’s boss, Pete. “Can’t have them just lounging around, living off the fat of the land, snacking on the core of our civilization.”

Raleigh finished counting verdigrised pennies into the grimy hand of a man who wore a heavy overcoat and woolen muffler despite the August heat, then he handed over the brown bag full of Copenhagen slicks. His eyes followed the man out into the heat-warped glare of the street. In the flickering intervals between speeding cars, he could see that the tiny park across the street was full of cops.

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Sea of Tranquillity

It was the year 1969. In the van, Jeff was broasting alive, and his tongue had turned to pumice, but he hardly felt the July heat. The freeway shimmered as if it were aflame, and where the illusion was strongest the boy imagined he could see through cement to the surface of Earth’s moon. Somewhere high above Bur­bank’s smoggy gray sky, the lunar excursion module crouched like a spider on stilts. Down here, lanes merged and diverged, cars sped from near to far away in seconds, and two ladies in black changed a tire on a black T-Bird by the side of the road. Up there, astronauts waited to walk.

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