Tag Archives: fiction

Autojektor (excerpt)

The pug-faced soldier rolled a gurney into the room, the Combrig entering behind him. The cadaver was covered with a sheet and as it pushed past me I could tell that the body was still warm.

“This one made its own incisions for us,” Combrig Milkin said with a laugh.

Sergei lifted the sheet and looked thoughtfully at his new specimen. “This is a fresh corpse,” he said as laid the sheet back over its head.

“Less than six hours old,” the Combrig said. “He was known to cause some problems in the square, and my men went to his home to ask him several questions. We had heard rumors of his…deviant life style. The pervert chose to end his life instead of giving any answers. I suspect to hide his lover’s mom, but no matter. We shall wipe out all such degenerates in time. Well, what are you waiting for?”

Sergei gave me an affirmative nod and I went straight to work while he entertained the Combrig. I removed the sheet that covered the corpse and though I saw its features clearly, its chiseled jawline, slender build, and shaggy blonde hair, my mind refused to comprehend the horror that lay before me.

Dmitry. My poor, sweet Dima.

I stood there frozen, staring at the body of my love, for how long I do not know, until I was interrupted by the bellow of the Combrig. “Well, boy? What are you waiting for?”

“My apologies, sir. I’ve never seen a corpse so raw,” I said. I slipped the rubber tubing into the incisions on his wrists and watched his blood, his life pour out of him and into the machine. Thank you I lipped to him, though I knew he could read me. I remained silent as I watched the autojektor bring his vital fluid back to life. The men behind me talked and laughed and I felt as though they were miles away.

The machine worked swiftly on his fresh body. Though his was larger than the child we had previously worked on, his remains were warm enough that the autojektor had no problem returning his circulation. I watched the life return to his body and as the hours passed I did not say a word.

The evening waned on, and though his heart was beating with the help of the machine, Combrig Milkin grew increasingly restless. “Can you disconnect the machine?” asked Comrade Bryukhonenko. “Will his heart beat yet without its aid?”

“I do not know, Comrade,” I said.

“Then you will find out. And if that does not work, there are plenty more where that one came from,” said Combrig Milkin. But he was wrong. There were no more like this one.

I went to pull the rubber tubing from his wrists when Dmitry gasped for air. His eyes flung open and looked straight into mine, looked inside of me, and I reached out and turned off the machine.

EndProgram.txt (excerpt)

“The cause of death was determined to be liquid damage. I am sorry for your dataloss,” says the brown-skinned man at the Customer Service desk.

“Yes. Thank you,” Walter responds, dragging his tongue along the bottom of his burly white mustache. He stands over the Bot, laid at rest in its original packaging, its freshly buffed shell surrounded by decorative bubble wrap. Its unlit LED eyes remain open, two black and empty vessels not-staring at the sky. “Although technically its not my data. I designed the model, but it’s an autonomous intelligence, so I never…” Walter hesitates. He drags his hand down his face, stretching out the skin and wiping spittle from his upper lip. “We never really had much of a relationship.”

The Customer Service representative grips Walter’s right hand with his own, then places his left hand atop their joined shake. He closes his eyes and nods solemnly and says, “We must all grieve in our own ways. No man should have to bury a son.” He looks at Walter but does not move his hands.

Walter swallows and tries to collect himself. “I…thank you. But again, I just designed the model. It’s not my son, it’s…” he says, slowly pulling his arm away. A look of disgust and confusion washes over his face. “Is the hard drive…where is whatever was inside of him?” He waves a hand over the Bot’s face, closing the thin metal lids that protect its optical receptors. The unliving alloy on its face is freezing to his touch.

“We replaced all the hardware after the autopsy, so everything that was there should still be inside of it. Sometimes we do reclaim or refurbish parts if it’s in the Bot’s contract, but even then we usually wait until after the funeral.” The brown-skinned man smiles sadly at Walter. He bobs their cluster of hands up-and-down like buoys on a calm sea before he finally lets go.

“Could you figure out why it did that? Why it would…I thought I programmed these machines to be smarter than that. If it’s something I did then I should know so I can fix it. If you recovered any data at all then maybe –”

The man behind the desk bows his head and slowly shakes it left to right. “The liquid damage to the hard drive is too great. The corrosion is irreversible. Now, if you don’t have any other questions, I can take the unit into the back so we can begin preparing it for tomorrow’s showing.”

Walter’s face remains neutral as he looks the Bot up and down once more. He reaches into the box and lifts its clunky, lifeless left arm. With his other hand he traces the scratches where its forearm extension meets the grabber and the end, then lets the ingot extremity thunk back into its crate.

“No,” Walter says as he looks back at the brown-skinned man. “That should be all. Thank you.” He watches the man roll the coffin away. He does not cry.

Tiffany: Thoughts on Mr. Rose

I’d fantasized exactly once about Mr. Rose. The fantasy, if you can call it that—the thought—it went like this: We were out to dinner, at some restaurant that doesn’t exist, or maybe it does, I don’t know. But we were there, and then we got up, and there was a rose, a red one, and he gave it to me, and we walked from the restaurant to his apartment where he took me into his bed. There was never any sound, no words at the dinner, which now, I think was in the Space Needle, which is really weird, and I never pictured any details about the sex, I guess, except I knew that we were having it kind of like you do in those PG-13 movies where it’s happening under mountains of blankets, and there’s lots of rustling, lots of dramatic movement, so much closeness, the weight of implication, but nothing’s never shown. My life as a montage. A highlight reel.

The thing about the dream, the fantasy, whatever it is or was, is that in it, I know I was older I don’t know how old, but I wasn’t me. I was future-me, and everything about that is what made it okay, I remember lying in my real bed thinking about it. About him, or not him, and me, or not me, and the soundtrackless scene. His walls were a sort of terra-cotta, but now that I think about it, I guess that’s the hazy color everything is in dreams. He was on top of me only, and bigger than me, always bigger than me, and his covers were brown, and the sheets were brown, and now that I think about it I could never see his eyes. I kept looking up in the dream-thing, past his shoulders, and there was a ceiling fan that kept spinning. It was gold-rimmed, and it went around about a million times, and we were listening to a song—again, one I couldn’t hear—but it was the perfect song, and the rose was on the bedside table. It was the only bright thing in the room.

Although I laid there in my bed, the real bed in the apartment with my mother across the hall, I had started with my hand between my legs. But one thing I remember, maybe the thing I remember most from the whole fantasy is that I stopped touching. It carried me off to sleep. I never finished touching myself.

An Rogaire Dubh

I walked into the pub some 15 minutes later. The light from the street lamps that seeped in through the window was swallowed up by the black-brown wood that furnished the bar, reclaimed from some abandoned church in Tír Chonaill. Even with the candles set around the pub, it managed to be darker inside than out. Still, there was something comforting about the smell of body odor, beer, and musty old wood. Far Derrick sat atop a stool at the far end of the bar, and judging by his volume, he’d been there for a while. I wondered if he climbed up on the stool all by himself or if he had someone to help him. Adam was behind the bar like he always was. We used to go to hardcore shows together at the Cambridge VFW. Technically Grey Ellen was the owner of the bar, but Adam was the only one who ever seemed to work there. He had a Kennedy brother tattooed on the back of either fist so no one liked to bothered him with too many questions. I reached across the bar and shook his hand and said, “Give me a Tully, neat, and a shot of Chartreuse for the small fella down there,” nodding my head towards the end of the bar.

“It’s a little early for a ‘Treusing, don’t you think?” Adam said hesitantly. Chartreuse shots were usually reserved for folks who’d already got too drunk, a parting gift before they got thrown out, at which point they’d usually boot the ‘treuse back on the street. But it was also a holy spirit made by monks, and the Good People weren’t so good at holding that kind of liquor.

He handed me a collins glass with a three-finger pour and I said, “Either way, I’m cutting him off.”

I stood back and watched as Adam brought the shot to Derrick. Adam looked over at me and pointed but Far Derrick clearly didn’t care who’d bought him the drink. He tossed the shot straight back and as soon as the sweet green syrup hit his tongue he spit it right back out and started coughing violently. Smoke poured from his skin and he gasped for air between the chokes. Fortunately An Rogaire Dubh was one of those bars where no one seemed to care about the other customers. He slammed the rest of his beer back to wash away the taste. “Awright, who the fuck was that?” he said as he wiped the back of his arm across his mouth. He turned his head to the left to identify the mysterious benefactor that he’d previously chosen to disregard. I brought the whiskey the lips as I raised my other hand, waggling my fingers in  a mocking wave.

Far Derrick let out a deep heavy sigh and turned back to face the bar. He knew that he’d been caught. He coughed again, then motioned to the bartender and said, “Bud Heavy and a shot of Jack. And fuck the both of yous.”

Kitchen Sex

She’d been sautéing the seat of his spatula surreptitiously, boiling beneath the overhang of the bar throughout the party, and as she mashed the keys to get into her hotel room, Chad was overcome with a fleeting moment of sobriety, wondering which way the whiskey would affect him — turning his strainer into a still and unfeeling eggbeater, or an absolute butter knife. The worry washed over him but quickly went away as the door popped open and Katie stirred him inside the room by his tie. She had already mixed his food processor out from his griddle before he even had a chance to get his bearing straight, or figure out where in the room they stood. She coagulated gently on his microwave, slowly combining him towards her with her vegetable crisper as she fried his pot.

“I got it,” he said. He chopped the pan and separated the ladle from its loops, then defrosted her like a jungle cat in heat, toasting his muddler as he melted the path from her can opener, around her bottle opener and up to her spoon, which he baked around to the back of her spatula and began to sauté her pan. She separated a slow and sensuous griddle and as she fried he mixed her food processor against him, her microwave coagulating between his ladle and chopping his swollen butter knife with a slow and slight twist, mashing it around in her smooth vegetable crisper. Chad continued to defrost her spoon, toasting in the strainer that boiled her pot, and coagulated his muddler up to her left can opener. It mixed perfectly in the cupped pan and he separated his bottle opener slowly inward, defrosting the firm and fatty strainer. Katie melted his egg beater, using its strength to boil herself closer to him. She chopped her way down his microwave until she stirred its thick ladle and started combining pans along his microwave where it became a swelling spoon. She burned their weight in her scooped spatula and slowly baked each muddler around her microwave, giving the entire bottle opener a gentle boil.

Rachel: June 19

A good wife will not forget her mise en place. My last session cancels for the day, so I decide the effort for dinner will be paramount tonight. Purchases at the Longington Organicist included radicchio and swiss chard that I will grill, and two fresh red snappers I will filet and paint with olive oil and capers. Ian will smell the house filling with good things, the best things, as he walks through the door.

It is the first absolutely perfect night of the summer.

I don a mustard-colored apron, one I remember asking for on our wedding registry, and start gathering what I’ll need to cook tonight. The house’s kitchen is one of the things that sold us on the property, which we moved into right after we got married, its white marble countertops and stainless steel appliances still looking just as new two years down the line as it did the day we moved in. I never feel more adult then when I am standing here, prepping dinner for Ian and me, in this kitchen, in this house, in this school district, in this zip code.

I go to the bathroom, muscle memory flicking off the light switch, my gaze instead watching my feet trace the lines of the hardwood floorboards as I’m tightrope-walking a seam.

“Boo,” I hear in whisper, and subsequently jump ten feet in the air. Ian’s standing in the middle of the kitchen with a bouquet of white Gerber daisies.

“You weren’t supposed to be here yet,” I say when I return back to Earth.

“You weren’t supposed to be here yet,” he replies.

I can just laugh. I can just smile. I can just fall into him, apron and all.

I don’t know if it’s the summer sun that’s breaking through the French doors I’ve propped open onto the back patio, or that Ian has by some force of god stepped away from his desk at the firm in Stamford, or that I am here, in his Connecticut kitchen, as his wife, like out of a beach bestseller and not counseling a couple on their deteriorating marriage at five P.M. on a Wednesday, but it is something. Ian puts down the flowers—dangerously close to the fish—and picks me up, all five feet of me, and carries me to our bedroom. And although there is every bit of soft romance to Ian literally whisking me off my feet, there is nothing coy about what he does when he has me against our sheets. He reaches up into my dress to remove what is underneath, shimmies down his own pants to his ankles, and pushes me down onto him. He pulls me in against his chest, his teeth against my neck, and as he comes, I wrap my hands around his necktie. I am still in the apron.

The Good People

“They took my kid and they replaced him with a fuckin’ stick!”

“A stick.”

“A fuckin’ stick!”

“Who did?”

“The Good People.”

“The Good People kidnapped your son and replaced him with a stick.”

“That’s what I’m sayin’!”

“Okay.” Mike Fionn rubbed his left hand through the ashen fuzz of his head, following the curve of the back of his skull and and brought his fingers around to feel the gauge on his ear. He’d been trying to ease himself off coffee for the last six weeks, and the motion helped to ease the headaches. Still Margie’s nasal voice only amplified the pain as it echoed through his head. He needed whiskey. But he knew he shouldn’t drink before 10am so he poured himself a finger’s worth of Tully anyway. He could feel the eyes of his receptionist Ari boring through him from the other side of the office window, but he figured if he didn’t turn around to face her then they couldn’t hurt him too much.

“Well? Ahe ya gunna help?” Margie intoned as Mike drew the glass to his lips. He wished for once he’d get a normal case but then of course he’d never work. Most PIs these days made their bank from security work or internet snooping, and he’d  already hired The Creep to handle that side of the business. A job like this at least meant that he’d get out into the field. Over the last year or so, Mike had managed to make himself the go-to for these kinds of gigs. Sometimes he’d get a trophy wife from Chestnut Hill saying that her husband Senator McIrishfuck was sleeping with a siryn, but mostly it was folks like Margie from the old hood whose kids got turned into sticks or replaced with sticks or whatever the fuck she was talking about.