Tag: Surreal

ZeroFlash — “There Would be Warmth”

Zeroflash, a flash fiction magazine that features many, many great interviews with writers and publishers alike, has a monthly competition series. The winner receives an original illustration of their winning entry, ten pounds, an interview with Uprising Review, etc., etc.

I submitted a story to the February competition (judged by Alex L. Williams) and lost. My story didn’t even make it to second or third. It wasn’t featured on the list of honorees.

S’all good, though. I did better than my wife. She submitted a piece which was so bad that it never materialized among the February entries. (Just kidding, it was probably buried in the slush.)

Again, it’s all good. Rejection is a step toward success. Sometimes rejection’s a success all by its lonesome. And if that’s even remotely true, I’ve made it.

The February prompt was this draconic kaleidoscope with granite blues and pinks and a hidden zero. And it was the caption: “I’m asking for the trippiest, freakiest, most surreal piece of prose you can concoct. Let your mind roam and your words dance.” 300 words minimum.

by Jon Stubbington (2018)

So here’s my loser’s piece. I went for Paracelsus meets the goblins in Twilight Eyes meets skin made out of asbestos. You be the judge if it works or not.

There Would be Warmth

by Desmond White

Now the mediæval men knew a thing about doomsday. They scribbled its steps in codices long-brown, although none of them were excited about cityside basilisks and resurrected gods, content with pulling gold from menstrual blood. Not me. All my years I burned to clear the crust of life from this planet. (Humans, dogs, the yellow cities, trees, all that color.) So I studied the works recounting the Vulcani, those lizards that grow in fire like fishes in water, what some call salamanders. If you grow them big enough they’ll survive outside their element—bigger and they’ll turn the elements into char.

I get a fire going until the flicker-roots are blue and the smoke thick enough to climb, then I step between logs glimmering like sticks in a stomach. The lizards see me and run and die in the cold, so maybe, I think, I must accustom the new hatches to my scent. The eggs are easy. I find a clump of black logs glowing with a thousand eyes and there I find them, small, angry. I raise one to see if the fetus is kicking in the ash, but I take the egg too close to the air element, or maybe wind blows out of jealousy, and the egg turns to coal in my boiled fingers. The fire is kind enough to lift my tears. The next egg I push down my throat, placing it by the heat of my liver, wrapped motherly in blood-web, and now I’m running out the tipi, running for the lake to wash the blackened scale of my skin, to feel the living stone inside my belly, to finish what the mystics never started.

An edited variant of this published at Rune Bear Weekly on April 25th, 2019. 

Published — “An Old War Hog”

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My paragraph piece “An Old War Hog” just published in Ghost Parachute, a magazine devoted to “fresh and vibrant imagery,” to “unleash[ing] the spider behind the rose.” The piece is small so I won’t ruin it with a summary. Just know that Ghost Parachute has an interesting format—every story is paired with an original image created by their artists. Credit for the picture above goes to Felix Sanchez.

Fiction — “Once there was an empty classroom”

During the day, the door remains unlocked—the lights flicked on by a sleepy department head and flicked off by a custodian whose back vac makes her a ghostbuster.

A general lack of students keeps the air icy and free of the muck-must of human bodies, a scent corrupted by cheetos and the cheese of feet, although the room occasionally feeds on students looking for a place to study, romantic couples with forged hall passes, and, once, a red-nosed assistant principal who napped by the cabinets.

Some grease and wet spray still lies on the carpet.

Since classrooms have no natural predator, the room sits, and sits, like a forgotten box of baking soda in the fridge. Its stomach grew between Science classes and a weedwork of wires and pink-feather insulation. Feeding on rats.

Now the stomach sits, hungry.

There was a man once. The first pang of its profession came with the appearance of a bearded teacher. Shaggy, shortsighted as a bear with spectacles, the creature lumbered through the door and fell on the desk.

The room waited, hoping the teacher would attract others.

But the teach hid there, received his paycheck, watched for enemies at the door, put up posters that read, “You never fail until you stop trying,” and “It’s okay to not know but it’s not okay to not try.” Perhaps he operated under that mantra of bibles and baseball movies—if you build it, they will come.

No one came. The room ate the man, absorbed his funky odors. And life returned to the humdrum of air-conditioned lungs.

Fiction—Post Post Post

INT. CLASSROOM

STUDENT
What if I wanted to write how John Milton’s Satan is a post post-modern hero? Would that still be within the limits of the assignment?

PROFESSOR
Are you asking me if you can write a paper on John Milton’s Paradise Lost in a “Scholarship in the Last Fifty Years” course?

STUDENT
But I’ll be using Bourdieu as a discursive lens.

Professor looks at Student wryly, then sits on the desk in front of him.

PROFESSOR
How about I answer your inquiry in the form of a story? You see, when I was thirteen, there was an essay-writing contest put up by the Food and Drugs Administration. The first place winner received $50, which back in 1976 had about the same buying power as $213 and nine cents.  The prompt was something like what is the most American pie? I wanted to argue for chicken pot pie, but I wasn’t sure that it qualified, or if they were just looking for dessert pies. So I sent the FDA a letter asking for their definition. What were the exact degrees of distinction between a pie and other pocket pastries? And you know what happened?

STUDENT
What?

PROFESSOR
My parents died. I had to become man of the house. Started working two jobs and put my siblings through college. They all think I’m their father. They call me Dad. Or Papa Bear.

STUDENT

PROFESSOR
I tell them I’m not your father. I’m your little brother, Colin. But they won’t listen. Do you get me?

STUDENT
I think so. Yeah.

Professor pats Student on his head, affectionately. There are tears in his eyes.

PROFESSOR
Derek.

STUDENT
Yeah, Dad?

PROFESSOR
Never mind.

Short Film — Bare Romance

My 16mm black & white short film “Bare Romance” debuted at UCSB’s Reel Loud Film Festival 2012. Worked with some wonderful people, and a few wonderful naked people, plus the band Each Peace who performed live at the show (per Reel Loud tradition).

SYNOPSIS: An avant-garde comedy about a naked guy (Zach Lemke) who shows up at a party and feels ostracized and different because he’s naked.

Fiction — “Where was Freud at Pompeii?”

A train stop and three occupants. The benches look like grills for our asses. I’m cooking. Temp is what? 99? 103? You can see the swelter in the air. It reminds you of the word “billowing” which is a ridiculous word. The heat’s cooking these benches, prepping my ass to be put on a patty. Train. In the distance. Tiptoeing towards us like bare feet on hot pavement. The blue rocks next to the tracks are shaking. The word clang comes to mind, which sounds like an ethnic slur.

INT. TRAIN

I’m huddled between a chubber in a tie and the meanest blonde I’ve ever wanted. The power lines and electric boxes zoom past – the industrial zones – the other trains – I could be the future. A mound of shatter zips past. Ragnarocks! I imagine a universe constructed with jigsaw pieces most of them lost. A blue spot here, a smiling red there, and gaps in the teeth. I wish the stars were a tapestry, the sun a boiled egg, this train the moon. I want to get out but I can’t (I’m stuck between animal and fiction). Instead barn doors swish, toilets go plunk!, and finally, finally, finally the next stop rolls up.

Creativity isn’t a disembodied head mulling through the multiverse: coldly indifferent, logical, wilting. Creativity isn’t a spade in hand, a pot the other. It can assimilate, steal, kill, and certainly rape. A square is a rectangle, but not. However, we forget that the circle is more natural, a pagan beauty. Creativity itself is not creating. It needs arms, legs, torsos, abdomens, stingers, hair. It’s not freedom, not prison. It walks behind your eyes, away from prying thoughts, below moving blades – where shadow is light. Creativity can be in the stocks and still be stronger. A shopkeeper who doesn’t sell, a werewolf who won’t bite. A rose that listens to the road and makes no sound.

Where was Freud at Pompeii? This train’s taking me to death.