Online Fiction

Spawn of the Ruins

I was disturbed from my leisurely pursuit of Leandro’s The Abstractions and Essence of  Kaufer’s “Basaltic Culture” As Related to Quantum Mathematics, by the irritating jangle of my telephone. Setting that exquisitely rare and absorbing tome aside, I reached for the phone with one hand, while relighting my pipe with the other—not an easy thing to do, I assure you, as I have very often severely singed my moustache and caused the skin of my face great pain in so doing.

I was not at all displeased to discover that the caller was one Miss Avander, a charming young lady who dwelled alone—and vulnera­bly, I might add—in a small house a short dis­tance down the avenue from my own. I was somewhat more than acquainted with Miss Avander, as in the past we had spent the long evenings in fascinating and intellectual­ly stimulating conversations, and as these vis­its had been conducted in both of our homes, I was well familiar with her location.

“Ah, Miss Avander,” I enthused, letting the warmth I felt blend with the fine natural resonance of my voice, “it is indeed enchant­ing to hear your lovely voice—for indeed it remains lovely even through this awful elec­trical convenience: the telephone!”

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Let It Die

With his eyes closed, she was beautiful. With them open, she was a scarred and withered hag, most of her skeletal form still covered as it would always be covered with burn scars and the beginnings of what might have been the mutant herpes. Since he had it himself, he didn’t worry. It was pointless to worry about any of it, this being now the world.

A thin crescent of skin along the side of her face remained unburnt where she must have turned it to a wall when the Flash came. Part of that eye was relatively unblemished, and now a tear slid from it as she whispered, “Must you go?”

“Darling,” he said, “there will never be an easy time to say goodbye, and so I say it with difficulty.”

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To Lie Between the Loins of Perky Pat

(An Excerpt from Mock-Up,

An Abandoned Novel)

When Morris was seventeen, he didn’t see much of his parents. His stepfather was a hot tub salesman who spent most of his time either installing tubs or partying with his customers in those same tubs. Morris’s mother had accompanied her husband to some of these parties at first, but clearly her husband’s behavior–though she tried to endorse it in the spirit of the times–had uncovered some rigid puritanical scaffolding inside her, and she had taken to spending her own evenings at home, alone with her bottles of wine and a variety of value-neutral pharmaceutical companions. Read More

The Horror of the Hamptons

East of Patchogue, the shopping malls and tract homes give way to the last remaining forest on Long Island. This is not wilderness, nor has it been for many years. From the highway, you may glimpse ruined radio towers and abandoned cars crumpled like old tin cans; you will note the gradual ruination of houses as manicured lawns turn unruly, porches slump, colonial homes begin to seem^antigue but merely decrepit. Snatches of weedy ponds flicker past. Old men shamble through hedges, clutching paper sacks. A jailhouse sits in the county seat. Sand replaces fertile mulch; skeletal firs impinge on stands of hardy oak. Grass grows longer, sharper here, like quills jabbed into the sand. And then the road narrows, clotting traffic in its constricted artery, forcing you to crawl along with fellow motorists, inhaling their bluish exhaust. You have seen the familiar world falling away for miles now, green shade giving way to inhospitable hummocks: surely the culmination of all this will be something truly alien, a scene of lunar desolation if not the ripe festering of Bosch’s Hell. Over the roofs of cars made soft-seeming by the heat, over the tipped-back heads of beer-swigging teens in convertibles, you crane to catch sight of the end of the world, the abyss into which all these cars are streaming….

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Loaves From Hell

It was in a sweltering dusk that Charlie stumbled on a tombstone and lay panting in the grass. He longed to stay where he had fallen, to sleep for days in the peace of the old graveyard, but where the dead were buried, the living must be near. He needed a more secluded bed or else he would surely be discovered. Read More

The Death of Christopher Marlowe

They had been walking London all day and Marlowe’s feet were killing him. The other three men were used to gravity but Kit had been away a great deal recently, and the long stints in space had begun to tell on his joints and muscles. Each return was harder than the last. He recalled what it had been like to see the globe of Earth “above” and then to rise into that pit of gravity, ascent becoming descent, as what had looked like heaven turned into hell. He swore to himself that he had taken that plunge for the last time. One more journey outward, at the completion of his current mission, and then no earthly power could draw him back again. Read More

Good ‘n’ Evil, or, The Once and Future Thing

This is my confession.

On this 13th day of the Third Moontide of the Smoldering Beagle Year, at the urging of both Professor Tadmonicker and my own troubled conscience, I, Maven Minkwhistle, set pen to paper. Never again will I type a single character; the mere sight of the clumsy old Underwood fills me with self-loathing for the misdeeds I have done, the falsities I have perpetuated in this already too-false world. I pray that this manuscript will not meet with incredulity in a public that has learned to doubt my word—indeed, my very name. It is not an apology, for I know that society finds such fawning to be more offensive than any crime. Nor is it an eleventh-minute attempt to polish my reputation with further pleas of innocence. I am more concerned for my father—dear Father! I never wanted it to end like this. Read More

Rattleground

Crawling down the fire-scarred steel corridors of the enemy’s lair, he says to himself, So,evil dogs … I see you quake in dread at the mere thought of my arrival! Read More

Dollchurch

Kirkendale stands at the back of a church, the grey aisles before him draped in dust and shadow. Tonight he is to speak. Tall side windows frame slats of pallid light. The pews are ancient and smeared, populated raggedly. He sees only the backs of worshipers’ heads; they nod sluggishly, tilting, as if on snapped necks. Their faces are not visible. Read More

Rooksnight

Hunger will drive a bard to unusual lengths: playing of illicit tunes with ill-considered lyrics, ludicrous capering, and sometimes, as now, dangling in a gargoyle’s clutches from the edge of a stony precipice above a deep gorge lined with rocks like gnashing knives. Read More