“You’re awake,” says the serpent. “That’s good. I was starting to worry – it’s almost moonrise.”
Lily opens her eyes. The pale glow from the streetlights barely reaches the room. What little light there is traces the mountainous terrain of the bed; the tangled sheets, the hunched shadow of Anton’s back rising and falling slowly. Clad only in shadow, she slips from the bed and pads from the room. Her steps are careful and quiet.
Continue reading No Helpmeet – Flash Fiction from Charles Bernard
It began as a scientific oddity, bordering on urban legend. Our species – always so eager to grub around in the dirt with our plump pink digits – noted with amusement that ants were beginning to behave oddly.
For one thing, they started to take things home with them. The taking itself was quite mundane; we’ve all seen neatly ordered lines of ants carrying crumbs or fleshy shreds of fruit home to the colony. It was what they started to take. Strange things. Plastic and broken glass, scraps of cloth and twists of wire. We figured that the ants detected minute scraps of edible matter on the debris, or that this behavior was some novel but harmless quirk, the arthropological equivalent of magpies hoarding their dubious treasure.
Continue reading Lesser Things
Four friends met on a beautiful morning in the dining room
of an opulent hotel in Washington, D.C. They gathered to give thanks to
themselves for a year of promises kept and dreams realized, of enemies
humiliated and opponents crushed. They crowded around a small table, as chummy
as pups in a litter in the luminous modern environs of the eatery, surrounded
by the susurrous scrape of silverware. Around them, the world was awash in
ivory radiance; white tablecloths, white napkins, white walls, soft white recessed
lighting. Their voices had the low, relaxed tones of powerful men at ease among
confederates but eager not to be overheard by outsiders.
Continue reading Prayer Breakfast
It begins with the pudding. Calvin’s heart quickens as his stubby fingers brush against the carton at the back of the fridge – how did it get there? – but disappointment awaits. He bends as far as his immense bulk allows and retrieves the container. Only a paucity of the thick, off-white treat remains; hardly a spoonful. The store it is, then.
He dresses slowly. The bending and stretching required leave him short of breath, and so he pauses before he dons his shoes. His small apartment is awash in detritus; clothes strewn on the floor, empty pizza boxes piled in one corner, sink freighted with crusty dishes. A mild mammalian odor, not dissimilar to that of a barn, permeates the air. Calvin takes all this in in a sleepy glance before he turns, exits, and locks the door behind him. Continue reading Body Horror, Part Two: Borborygmus
Mondo’s house was a half-hour drive away in the Oklahoma heat, through the crumbling downtown and over the Arkansas River. On my first trip there, I tagged along with a trio of small-time criminals and county jail losers, Okies with bad teeth and oil-burning Adderall habits. That’s where Mondo came in.
Continue reading Body Horror, Part One: Mondo