Constantinople, Fallen

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“You heard what I said,” she repeated in a hard, immaculate voice.

Jim and Mona’s friends were like trolls stoned by dawn’s light. They avoided direct eye contact. They kept their eyes pinned on the final trick, as though the Queen of Spades and Jack of Hearts, grinning up at them with their Mona Lisa half-smiles, were tarot cards foreboding some imminent doom. Why did this have to happen tonight?  That’s what they must have been thinking, Jim reasoned, sitting there helplessly in their Chewbacca and Stormtrooper outfits, like witnesses to a mob hit.

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Voiceless Children

In the near future, there are no fertile females:

The last person to have been born via live birth is nearly thirty years old and has become a celebrity throughout the world. His every move being documented by the press.

Even for him, it seems odd to be a celebrity on a dying planet. For one thing, every passing day is much like every other day. Yet, many look to him to be their Savior.

Is it of any benefit to be the last person on Earth—if it comes to that?

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Another Aftermath

People want guarantees. People want their lawyer standing next to the bed. People want everything signed on the dotted line. People want to stop in the middle of fucking the first time their lover says, “I love you.” And ask, “Would you testify to that in a court of law?”

Do you know what sex sounds like through this thin wall? A little like a too-loud clock when you’re trying to sleep. The first time I heard it, I hated them for the first ten minutes. Then I jerked off to their moans. And then I hated them again, pillow suffocating my own face to escape their pleasure.

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Indebted

Once you spilled the wine on the throw rug, it was all over. Why? Because I said not to worry about it, it was nothing, forget it. I said the rug was old and worn and not worth much. It was my mother’s. She had it from when she was a kid. She liked the pattern of the flowers. I guess it reminded her of the good times. I don’t know. Then when she died from cancer—not yet forty—it reminded me of her. But that doesn’t matter. [Read more…]

Disintegration Girl

My twin sister pushes me off the cliff and I splash into the lake back-first, the cold water piercing me like a thousand needles. The impact jolts my body and I swim back up and break the surface, wiping frigid water from my blurry eyes. I look up to see her bow pulled taut as she looses an arrow that whips through the air with terrifying speed. It grazes my shoulder and disappears into the water. I yelp, then swim to shore as fast as I can and slog through the muddy shoreline, stifling a scream as an arrow lands next to my foot and sinks into the wet ground.

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Pete’s Fishing Trip

Pete’s party went on and on. Videos, PowerPoint, and enough martinis to float a canoe. Sometime after midnight it became obvious that he wasn’t going to finish the history of his fishing trip on the Colorado; not that evening, maybe not ever. We realized we’d better adapt.

Luckily, Jim had brought his pup tent and ‘entrenching tool’ from his army days, and I had my rifle and axe, in case I was asked about my hunting trip up by the Great Slave Lake. Meg and Lynn had brought their machetes from their Borneo expedition. So, as Pete went on about the months it took him to learn the right method of tying dry flies, we started camping out on his sofa and rugs. When the cold night wind rose up off the Colorado, we took turns hacking away at his bookcases till we had enough wood for a small fire. Bill ran the water in the bathtub and started catching perch.

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Making Time

George first realised that something was up when the chime sounded a pitch higher than usual. He remembered it very well. It was Sunday teatime and Margaret had just brought in buttered crumpets when the seventh hour struck. George got up out of his chair and walked over to the mantelpiece. “There’s something not quite right there,” he said squinting at the glass clock face.

By Wednesday morning, the second hand had fallen behind by two minutes. “That clock is late,” he said to his wife, checking his wrist watch.

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Twin Towers

My second marriage was still standing, barely. Just a year in, Alice became consumed with jealousy of my first marriage, and it was turning into rage. It started with questions about sex: Did my first wife ever get on top? Did we do it in the shower? What about fellatio? How often?

My answers of “I don’t know; I don’t remember,” and “It’s hardly important,” were never the correct ones. I had to be hiding something dreadful. My record with my graduate students—first and second wives, no less, among other lesser flirtations—was not promising; a fact that did not bother Alice when she was underneath by tutelage.

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Taking

Dad liked to take things, things he wanted, things he felt entitled to. At least from my view, he never took anything extravagant, never a splurge of thievery. Our family didn’t have a lot of money, no one living around us did. But dad liked steak, got tired of chicken, beans, ground beef. Sure mom tried to get creative with ground beef. She made tacos, deflated meatloaf with oatmeal and ketchup mixed in, threw it into some spaghetti, and of course, there were hamburgers.

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The Domino Effect

Toby placed the final domino with care, licking the bottom edge so that it would stand just right. He had carefully spaced each domino, leaving a gap equal to the width of his pinky. The mesmerizing sequence, of one domino tipping the other as it navigated the spiral, was art in his eyes.

With the last one in place, he waited for his pop-pop to avert his eyes from the TV. Pop-pop was watching the news again. All the news cycles in Utopia had been hijacked by the Congressional sessions discussing Arch-Seer Rowena’s foretelling that Utopia would see ruination in the next 50 years. Needless to say, all of Utopia was mildly perturbed by the gloomy news. Not Toby, though. Being seven years old gave him the confidence to believe he was indestructible.

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