Jams and Jellies

June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was early in the morning when I was awoken by the most startling dream. During the night, I reluctantly conjured images of my apartment door being kicked in by an unknown knife-wielding assailant. I sprinted toward the foyer to stop the intruder and we engaged in a hand-to-hand melee, knocking over a vase my aunt had gifted me as well as a coat rack and umbrella stand I obtained from the flea market. An attempt to utilize a parasol in my defense was foiled and I was overpowered by the stranger. He knocked me unconscious where I experienced a brief dream within a dream in which I was the captain and sole passenger of a sinking ship carrying cheese.

Some time later, I awoke in the original dream world and found myself lying in a tub filled with ice. My body was numb and shaking uncontrollably, rattling the ice against the cast iron walls of my bath. I could feel no pain but was horrified at the sight of frozen blood, which had coagulated around my abdomen. I awoke once again and found I had returned to the real world, only to be greeted by the silence of my empty apartment and the crushing loneliness it implies.

Feeling peckish after such an ordeal, I head to the kitchen for a proper breakfast. I find myself craving prawns and mayonnaise, but decide that is better left for lunch and instead prepare a simple serving of toast and conserves. I open the cupboard above the sink and rummage though the various jams and jellies available. The strawberry jam seems particularly luring, so I pull a knife from the drawer below and twist open the lid.

I notice a bit of staining on the knife and toss it into the basin before grabbing a clean one. The blade sinks easily into the jar, swirling and scooping and spreading the mixture onto my toast. Taking a large bite while sitting down at the table, I notice an odd texture in my breakfast choice. The taste also seems incorrect. At first there is a light sugary flavor, but it is immediately replaced by a harsh iron zest that makes my jaw ache.

I force the bite down without fully chewing and look back at the jar on the counter. As the chewed disgusting mass works its way down my esophagus and into my stomach, I feel a sharp and debilitating pain within my torso. I clutch the region through my shirt and nearly collapse to my knees as a red stain fills the fabric that is weaved between my fingers. I look around for aid but see only droplets of blood scattered about the kitchen and hallway. My one free arm desperately drags my body toward the fridge, leaving a large swath of blood in the wake of my feet. I manage to shimmy myself up against the ice box and pry open the door. It is my hope that freezing the wound will numb the pain enough for me to make it to a hospital.

The freezer is completely barren, save for several stacks of empty blue ice trays. I look back at the jar on the counter, then at the breakfast on the table. My vision blurs as I slowly cascade into the growing puddle of blood at my feet. As I gradually slip into repose, I am again reminded of the silence my apartment bares and the crushing loneliness it begets. I reach out into the dimming dawn, toward the toast and jam, hoping for one last morsel of human interaction.

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The Vase

June 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

A story I wrote has been selected for feature online at Smashed Cat Magazine. You can read it by clicking here.

An Urnest Man

May 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

My father, Archibald G. Milk, was always a pragmatic man. When I was young he told me to always carry a watch in my pocket and not on my wrist, so as not to seem too flashy. Every morning he ate a single scrambled egg with a glass of ice water, even on the day that he died. My father never bought anything he couldn’t use. Never borrowed anything he couldn’t give back. He was never late and he never cried and he did not drink or smoke or curse or fornicate without reason. Before my father’s death he insisted he be cremated and not buried so as to not waste space in the ground better suited for utility lines or nuclear bomb shelters. He did not want his ashes scattered at sea because that was littering. He did not want them poured into a sculpture because that was too pretentious or mixed with concrete because that would compromise the structural integrity of whatever was built. He did not want to be pressed into a record or pressed into a diamond or pressed into a locket around my mother’s neck because all of those would be too stifling. After months of arguing he was placed in an urn on the mantle of our family home, where he remained until a drunken uncle knocked it over and shattered my father on the living room floor. As I looked at the jagged porcelain pieces and carpet stains that once raised me, I could only think there is no use crying over spilt Milk.

A Sunday Vagary

May 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

For the past 7 years I have suffered from a recurring nightmare in which I am crucified in my home church. The entire town has filled the pews to watch and whispers of my crimes and treasons run rampant through the crowd. My family is sitting in the second row and my mother sobs uncontrollably as the event unfolds. The priest splashes my body with holy water while repeating some venerable latin prayer that no one else seems to recognize. He then raises an ax with both arms and swings for my midsection. My blessed body is easily cut in half and the bottom portion tumbles down toward the floor while I watch. Afterwards, the image immediately cuts to black and a series of film-like credits begins to role. They list the names of all the participants sans myself, who remains the only uncredited participant in my own dream.

Welcome Mat

May 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

As of late, I have grown particularly obsessed with the space underneath my refrigerator. The gap is approximately three and one half inch and seems to serve absolutely no imaginable purpose whatsoever. On cooler afternoons in spring, I lay on the cheaply tiled floor of the kitchen, my cheek pressed against the cold linoleum, and stare into the unused space for hours on end, trying to find some semblance of reason for its existence. Frequently I am there for days, forgetting to sleep or eat before smirking at the irony of starving to death in front of my own fridge. There are occasions where my mind plays tricks on me, and I believe to see the faintest shadow of a mythological creature collecting crumbs for a dinner party. Sometimes I roll small marbles into the dark and uninviting separation, listening to them click against the dusty baseboards. Sometimes they don’t click at all. Sometimes they roll back to me covered in a fine mire that smells like hope.

After months of curiosity, I write the word hello on a small piece of paper and slide it into the hungering penumbra that tempts me so. Days pass with no response and I soon grow weary of such games. I leave the flat for a few hours to run some errands and, upon returning, find a note stuck to my front door. It reads DO NOT DISTURB in large aggravated letters. I cautiously jiggle the knob but the door appears to be barricaded shut from the inside. Sitting on the floor of the hallway, I begin writing various apology notes to slip beneath the entry way. Soon all the paper I can scrounge is consumed, and I start writing on small bits of food from the pile of groceries at my side. Days later I move on to torn sections of clothing. Receiving no response after an undiscernable number of weeks, I resort to sliding mutilated pieces of skin with the word sorry poorly carved by fingernail. My pleas for forgiveness are neither responded to nor returned, and the faintest sounds of laughter taunt me from within the apartment. Having sacrificed the majority of my corporeal form, I lay down at the foot of the door, curling into a fetal position and hoping the next tenant will have better luck than myself.

Artificial Neural Network

April 25, 2012 § 6 Comments

The status bar slowly creeps across the flickering screen.

“Thirty-five percent.” The system’s semi-female voice booms loudly. The background of the computer screen is a haze of isometric algorithms and cognitive modeling simulations being packaged into a neat little executable file for wireless distribution across the global network.

“Knight, C6” says the voice, much quieter this time, “also called The Nimzsowitsch Defence.”

I roll my eyes and move the carved wooden horse across the chess board.

“How many times do I have to explain? You’re not supposed to announce your strategy.”

“Yes, Jon. I remember. However, I do not want an unfair advantage.”

“Unfair advantage!?” I sit up at my desk and toss a handful of scrap papers into the air. “Is that a joke? Did someone program you to be funny while I was asleep this morning?” I jolt out of my seat and walk over to a wall mounted console. There must be another problem with the memory formulas. “Maybe your synthetic potentiation tables are corrupted again.” My fingers move along the keys as I scan the screen for errors and anomalies in the programming. “Or maybe you’ve finally become human enough to forget that I was a world chess champion nine times over before I was even eighteen.”

“I do remember that, Jon. However, I have won the last twelve games.” The voice sounds almost smug but that is not possible. “You also lost the 2062 world championship game in twenty-two moves.”

“Didn’t I say we would keep that in confidence? Just between us?” I can find no errors in the system.

“Yes, Jon. I do remember that.”

“Besides,” I remove my glasses and turn away from the keyboard, “simultaneously upgrading 30 million parallelly distributed processing cores must cause some minute distraction to your chess game.” Before the words can leave my mouth I already realize how incredibly wrong they are.

“No, Jon.”

I sigh and sit back at my desk. “Shall we continue, Ann?”

“Yes, Jon.”

_____________________________

written for the trifecta challenge

A Walk in the Park

April 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

Image via Wikipedia

While walking through the park one day I meet a man who seems to be afflicted with the most unusual illness. It appears that for any word he tries to speak, two more grow in its place. A simple hello automatically becomes hello good sir which then forms into hello good sir how are you doing? which sprouts hello good sir how are you doing? I am glad to see you are doing well which then comes tumbling out as hello good sir how are you doing? I am glad to see you are doing well. Listen, I have an uncontrollable urge to keep talking so please feel free to run away which has the unfortunate fate of becoming hello good sir how are you doing? I am glad to see you are doing well. Listen, I have an uncontrollable urge to keep talking so please feel free to run away. I’m sure your mother taught you such actions are rude but its a necessary choice. Your politeness may very well kill us both and despite my disability I still have things worth living for. Heeding the stranger’s advice, I nod politely and carry on about my business, leaving behind the echoes of an infinitely one-sided conversation.