Blue sky from corporate to the car. Texting his wife, Mr. Kedder didn’t notice the mosfugito alight on his back — purple, corpulent, cellophane wings, with a proboscis that pushed discretely into Kedder’s time. Then the world heaved. Kedder spun ahead to his house, to bed, to morning with its toothpaste and groans. Years, suckled in seconds, flung children into college, into careers. Wrinkles wriggled across Kedder’s face. “Please…” A gray hair, a wife’s funeral, pills in a white cup. “Please… stop…” And as if in answer, the mosfugito tore from Kedder’s back, engorged on a gray husk bound to wheelchair.
A story in exactly 100 words.
Mother put down baby, avoiding kicking legs, all twelve of them. She wrapped a diaper around baby’s waist, whispering gently. Baby giggled, his mandibles clacking. Mother smiled. “He’s putting on weight. The diapers are getting tighter.”
Underwear secure, baby scurried up the wall.
Father was releasing torrents into the sink. “Another bite?” she asked. Father groaned, hurled, didn’t reply, raised an arm. Gauze barely hid where baby had bit freely. Mother came to the kitchen to hold her husband, to let the sense of wrong invade her, before the fog returned, before she pulled baby back down from the ceiling.
The gray ape scurried across circles, spins, and spirals, the feral geometry of a temple that once gave her the shakes, once reminded her of mournful teeth.
Now the architecture was as familiar as her mate, although there was no time to admire the fractals, to run her hands over the pillars. She was in a hurry.
She was expected.
Before the statue of Ezum, the ape kneeled, said a well-practiced prayer, and unsheathed fifteen arms, revealing parchment and bottles and green-yellow feathers from her sleeves. Every circle priest wore the robe. It was useful for implements and unflattering bodies.
Ezum would arrive. Somehow, someway, through its temple effigy, Ezum spoke, and the priests listened, and replied, and scratched the words into the Elegy of Entrails.
As a writer, how do you format the dialogue of an elder god?
This was the problem I faced while writing “The Elegy of Entrails,” a Lovecraft lovefest set on an extraterrestrial world.
Quotation marks felt too petty. You don’t say “What’s up?” to Cthulhu and expect “Not much” in return. Sure, the gods in Homer’s The Illiad speak like anyone else, but what about those things beyond existence? Creatures more dream than meat?
Sluice Warrington was growing more and more annoyed with Rez, especially the man’s side-street studio with its clitter clatter of canvases and layers upon layers of dust and paint-pocked floors as mindless as a Jackson Pollock. But worse, he hated how the man’s oil canvases would sell for upwards of five grand; how entropy spawned celebrity. It seemed the more Rez became a mess of a human being, the more potent the paintings he pushed into galleries and living rooms and furniture stores and government buildings, while Sluice kept a tidy space—white and rounded as an Apple Store, clean and clinical as a nurse’s ass—debarring his passion only on canvas, releasing himself like a frothing inmate given knife and vein—and made nothing.
Not a quarter on skulls fading into moons, not a dime on robed figures biting into babies, not a nickel on statues wearing human skin, not a penny on nude women exhaling trails of beetles down their necks. But no one wanted truth anymore. No one wanted darkness. They wanted lazy pleasures that took a heartbeat to decipher. Rez’s slurred landscapes, his blotted horses, the slop he called wildflowers and slabs of meat he called people, that sold.
365 Tomorrow has published my speculative flash fiction “Pink Pastures.” The story was based on a dream, and since I can’t afford a therapist on a teacher’s salary, I resorted to a poor substitute (something I also know about, being a teacher). Ursula Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” influenced the setting, plus I really wanted to write about eldritch genitalia without using the word “vagina.” You’ll notice the comments aren’t forgiving; in my defense, my “purple prose” could have been intentional on a meta-level. (It’s not). 365 Tomorrows is an online journal that produces a new speculative fiction every single flipping day. The site would be a great complement to your morning bagel and cup of raktajino.
“Sluice Warrington was growing more and more annoyed with Rez, especially the man’s side-street studio with its clitter clatter of canvases and layers upon layers of dust and paint-pocked floors…”
“Could be a man or a six-armed cow or a twenty-headed sex goddess.”
“A warehouse that could be the love child between a dumpster and a medieval castle. Coming from inside, groans. Moans.”