Monthly Archives: January 2011

THE SECONDS by Hugh Fox

Second sun, second re-cloud, the wind into
my coniferousness , “You’ve had it for ten
years, but it seems to be accelerating,” my
night head gothicing back to the year Begin
                but never making it.

HUGH FOX was born in Chicago in 1932, Ph.D. in American Literature from the U. of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Taught for ten years at Loyola U. in L.A. (now Loyola-Marymount), 2 years as a Fulbright Professor in Caracas, two years as Fulbright Professor in Brazil, one year in Mexico, studied (on an OAS GRANT) Latin American Literature at the U. of Buenos Aires for one year, married a Peruvian (Lucia Ungaro de Xevallos), got very involved with pre-Columbian archaeology, has 3 books on archaeology published, 50 books of poetry, novels, critical studies of Bukowski, Lifshin, etc., altogether some 114 books. His latest are a poetry book APPROACHING (Grey Sparrow Press), a novel, DEPTHS AND DRAGONS (Skylight Press in England) and a book of short stories, Camel-Lion (Gypsy Shadow Publications). He is dying from cancer, fighting it for 10 years so far, about 2-3 years left.

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THE GALAGAN PATIENT by Ronald Montgomery

Together, he and I play. The game, the event horizon of programmed priorities and desire. I meditate on him. I’ve been in this place before, with you.

You…you, my…

No. Back to the game.

It’s black. Is it night here?

A construction site, the steel skeleton of a squat building. I’m climbing a shaky ladder when the ape throws a flaming barrel of petrol on me. Knocked from the rungs, I fall down, down to the rough floor, the barrel pinning me, drenching me in burning fuel. Pain like water washes me with its dexterous fingers

I never knew I could hurt this badly. I can’t breathe. I can’t scream.

I die for the first time.

On my eleventh try, $2.75 spent, I navigate the maze of floors and ladders to reach the top, gasping. My son Steven waits, dressed in blonde wig, pink muumuu dress, and All-Stars. A heart, pixelated curves of red, appears in the space between us.

The ape slides from his perch, quiet and menacing.

“You suck, Jumpman,” Steven sneers. “Is that the best you’ve got?”

The heart cracks in two.

I try to warn Steven, tell him of the danger he’s put us in, but my bit depth is wrong, the dynamic range of my voice limited. I don’t know how to speak in this game.

Steven dances the Cabbage Patch, carries the ape up the ladder.

Act One: They Meet

The video game cutscene. Interstitial,timeless intersection of lost moments.

The mausoleum has a reflection pool inside. Moonlight seeps in a window, brilliance cleaving dark waters. You’re there in capri pants, t-shirt, and a frayed sweater with pearl buttons; the one that smelled of soil and sweat and sun, the one you wore in the garden.

You sit on the edge, feet in the water. You smile like in the pictures. The words I wish to say.

Mr. and Ms. Pac Man re-unite, outrace their ghosts. Share a kiss.

It’s $3.25 later. I’m down to $4.00, sixteen quarters left.

We’re hurtling down a racetrack. Heady smells of gas and hot metal, the roar of engines. A crowd of pink and brown dots cheer from my periphery.

I’m racing the gray car, Steven is green. I’m riding his ass, waiting to bump his axle and crash his car into the grandstands. We can’t stop and talk. We have to move move move —

“Leave me alone!” Steven says, veering to the outside.

“We can’t stay here, Steven. Come with me–”

Steven takes a sharp turn in the corner. I brake and skid, twin tails of smoke escaping melted tire rubber. A blue car zips from behind, cuts me off.

“You can’t tell me what to do any more!” Steven screams. “It’s your fault mom’s gone!”

“That’s not fair,” my face flushes, hands shake with shame. “I loved her.”

“Then why did you leave?”

Silence. I’m near position to bump his axle.

He laughs. “You don’t care. All those nights you couldn’t make my games, the weekends working. Because you were fucking your–”

“Don’t you talk to me like that.” Anger, drawn into stalling. “I know, I know I made mistakes.”

Closer, a little closer–

“Mistakes?! You hid in your lab!”

The clock ticks down. End of this race. Time to win it.

“I’m hiding, Steven? Look at you. Look at you.”

I swerve in. Steven pulls ahead, and I careen into the grandstands. Pink and brown dots scream and blink out.

Minigame.

Two A.M. I’m on a downtown street in the DeLorean, going over the instruments. The summer night air is heavy, redolent of fire and sulphur. Chuck Berry drifts from an abandoned radio in the park, music carrying in the night.

Straight down the street is a glowering,red hemispherical mass, spotted with black, like an astronomer’s photo of the sun. It’s consumed City University and the new firehouse, halted at the county courthouse.

The Professor leans into the cabin. He squints through his bifocals, furrowing thick eyebrows. He clears his throat.

“Zee emulation superstructure is closed and highly entropic, but with a predictable decay rate. With zee inflection point now passed, it will soon collapse upon itself.” The Professor palms me a roll of quarters. “You haff forty tries to generate a kill screen in zee emulation and to convince your boy to leave. Two big ifs.”

The kill screen — breakdown, unexpected and unpredictable, illogical behavior in ruthlessly logical levels. For the games were not designed to be played and played, to be taken to the frontiers of their simple designs. If I push us through enough levels, Steven and I can break through and escape. Orpheus and Eurydice. The limits of our love.

“You know, zis is suicide–” the Professor halts.

Death. The final arrangement of information. Your hands clasped, bluish in the casket. Beautiful face sunken, a collapsing retainer wall eaten by despair and time. Grooves worn in my soft memory, soundtrack to a forever-locked world. Do you wait for me there?

I blink, flensed.

“I’ve calculated the entry vector.” I hand him a clipboard, fit goggles over my eyes. “Goodbye, Werner.”

I close the car door, gun the DeLorean, watch the Professor wave in my rearview mirror.                 Accelerate.

At infinite velocity I breach the superstructure. A flash. Pop and crack, soothing hiss of analog static. The arm carries the needle across the record, sets it in the cradle.

The Heavenly Father blows dust from my cartridge.

Reseats me.

I’m on a bare field, tall grasses in the distance. I grip an orange plastic pistol before me. A dopey hunting dog sniffs the ground, and, catching a scent, jumps into the tall grasses, barking.

A…duck? A duck zig-zags across blue sky, bouncing forward and back. It laughs at me. Steven.

I carry on the conversation from before. Time I had my say.

“You can’t even act like a man! Face me, Steven!”

“I’m thirteen, asshole!” He quacks. “I hate you! I’m staying here forever!” He flies from sight.

The sky turns pink. White letters appear above me: FLY AWAY. The hunting dog rises from the grass and laughs at me.

A pause. The next duck bounces in the sky.

“Steven. This shit stops now. You freed the emulator from containment and half the city is gone, destroyed. I’m going to prison, and you’ll be alone. And that’s if we’re lucky.”

“You never said you were sorry.” Steven says.

I raise the gun and shoot him. The duck spirals groundward.

I have to beat him. We have to keep moving forward. We can’t stop.

“You hurt me,” he whimpers. A mournful cry, phlegm in his throat. The way he cried when I missed his birthday.

The smiling dog comes up from the grass, holding the dead duck.

“Steven!” I drop my orange pistol. Fumble forward.

The dog goes down.

“Steven!”

The game is forgotten. The sun has set over the marsh, the wilderness sinks into dusk. I wander deeper into the grasses.

“Steven, come home. I’m sorry.”

Bonus Level.

Down to my last quarter.

A majestic glittering starscape sweeps below my star fighter, looping to infinity.

I’m shooting insects in space. The tricky ones have tractor beams. They catch me, and I have to rescue myself.

Steven is silent. I begged him to talk, raged, and begged again. Stubborn. Like you were.

I feel alone in the game. But I’ll punch a hole in the night. Pull him through, to the other side. To a place where we speak in true voices.

Beyond the timeless intersection of lost moments.

RONALD MONTGOMERY is an information technology professional in St. Louis, Missouri. He enjoys old comics, family, and Godiva brownies. Ronald has painstakingly plotted out a twelve issue sequel to the 1980’s Squadron Supreme series from Marvel Comics. Doctor Zero from Shadowline comics co-stars and fucks shit up. It will be awesome.

PELT by Seann McCollum


SEANN MCCOLLUM makes a living repeating the mistakes of those who have gone before him, especially those involving nudity. In his spare time
he likes to yell out the passenger window at joggers wearing those
barefoot running shoe things. He has self-published a number of books
of drawings and poetry, the latest of which is Termites in the
Petrified Forest. His comics have been featured in Toylit and most
recently in apt literary journal. Check him out at
carrioncall.blogspot.com

WITHOUT US by Tyler Bigney

Outside it’s raining
or snowing,
I can’t tell which.
You’re carving the bark
off a pineapple.
I am on my fifth whiskey,
soon to be sixth,
unable to remember
the last time
we spent this amount
of time together.
You cut the pineapple
into pieces, offering
me a bite from the tip
of the blade. I smile,
not caring that the
pineapple juice has dripped
from my chin
onto my shirt.
You laugh. I laugh.
I pour my sixth.
You take a bite.
And the world
spins on without us.

TYLER BIGNEY was born in 1984. He lives, and writes in Nova Scotia, Canada. He writes short stories, travelogues, and poetry. He is currently working on a novel.

THE ALIEN by Thom Young

There’s this alien in my room. The other night we were playing cards. “You son of a bitch, try that shit again and I’ll kill your ass.” The alien didn’t like cheaters much less me as a roommate. I came home one day and she was on the couch. I was startled at first, but she warmed up to me. It seemed strange the alien didn’t look like you see in movies. The alien looked human. Huge aliens tits and tight alien pussy. The first few days were great. We talked about her planet. She lived on Venus. It was hot as fuck she said. I told her about my day. “I usually get up about six and make coffee. Put on my tie and go to work. I sit at my desk and stare at a computer.” The alien laughed. “You get paid for that shit? You’d be unemployed on Venus.” I guess the alien had a point. My job was stupid. The alien ate me out of house and home. “Bring some more of those cheese things.” “You mean Cheetos?” “I don’t give a fuck what they are, just get them.”

I barely had time for myself. Not that I did much. I usually just ate a TV dinner and watched Johnny Carson. Then I jacked off and went to bed. The alien liked to stay up all night. She watched sappy romantic comedies. The damn television stayed on. “Listen, I gotta go to work. Do you mind turning that down?” “Shut the fuck up Larry. Go get me some more cheese things and beer. Don’t buy the cheap shit either.”

The next few weeks were hell. I didn’t get a wink of sleep. I had to have a talk with the alien. “Listen, we need to talk.” The alien laughed and wiped cheese dust on the sofa. “You want to talk now? You son of a bitch.” “Yes.”

The alien and I sat down one night after her movie. “Look, you’re great and all but I just need break.” “A break?” The alien laughed and slammed a beer. “If you don’t shut the fuck up Larry, I’ll murder your ass.” I saw no point in reasoning with her. The alien had news for me though. “You know that night you got drunk with your buddies?” “I don’t remember.” The alien grabbed her stomach. “Now I’m carrying your baby.” “What?” “You don’t recall fucking the shit out of my pussy?” “No.” “You were drunk as shit and stuck it in. Now we got a baby.”

“Larry, go get me more Cheetos and dill pickles. I got a craving. You did this to me.” I left and got in my car. It was a strange night. The clouds hung low. A fog that surrounded everything.

I pulled the Ford over. I lit a cigarette and stared out the window.

THOM YOUNG is a writer from Texas. His work has been in 3am magazine, Word Riot, Thieves Jargon, The Legendary, and other sundry places. He enjoys fine tobacco and women.

TEA TIME RUMBLE by Gregory Snader

GREGORY SNADER is an illustrator and comic artist from Lancaster, PA. One of his favorite things to draw is faces. Beyond that his interests are in exploring outside, playing old video games and drinking tea. His favorite tea is Darjeeling and his current game project is playing through Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. Some of his previous projects have included illustrations for both for children’s and for educational books. For over a year and half he has been updating a weekly webcomic called Gothy Goths, which follows the adventures of Gothic subculture kids who find themselves in the Gothic middle ages. His illustration work can be found at his artist website: snaderillustrator.com.