(Narrative) Snowslide – (Music) 039

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By. Joshua Scully

Fresh splotches of rain struck windows on the Pullman coach. The pattering of this new precipitation kept Emily Childress awake for another moment. Her father stepped toward her seat from the aisle and adjusted the blanket covering his daughter.

Emily repositioned her head and her father leaned over her to look out the window. Few lights were visible outside. The darkness of night seemed only penetrable by rain.

“Not good,” he observed coolly.

 

Emily affirmed this with a subtle hum.

The periodic rainfall was a recent development. The Tacoma Express had been hemmed into this quiet Cascades town for several days because of record snow accumulations. The railroad had struggled to open the tracks in either direction, and conditions on the string of Pullman coaches were not especially pleasant after so many motionless days.

The massive snow fields clinging to the sides of the mountain above the town were troubling.

A brilliant flash of lightning danced through the night sky, momentarily illuminating the nearby station just beyond Emily’s window. Her father sighed after the ensuing rumble of thunder.

“We haven’t moved in five days,” he said, “but Tacoma just seems farther and farther away.”

He stepped back into the aisle and resumed an earlier conversation with two other passengers. There were plans being made to hike out of the mountains once some semblance of daylight returned, and Emily’s father expressed confidence that he could carry his daughter on such a journey and keep pace with the others.

Emily closed her eyes and recommenced the leisurely drift toward sleep. A distant growl of thunder did not impede her march into a dreamscape far removed from the Cascades.

She collapsed out of her seat and the jolt immediately roused her. An accompanying boom seemed far too resonant to be caused by her small frame. Emily was very confused when her eyes finally focused.

She had somehow landed on the ceiling. The Pullman was upside down.

Other passengers found themselves in the same awkward position, and the majority of those individuals were shouting and screaming. Emily tried to open her mouth, but any sound she made was immediately trumped by the shattering of every window along one side of the Pullman. A white wave smashed into Emily, driving her body toward the wooden wall of the coach. She braced herself for the ensuing impact. District cracks in each of her hands announced the collision.

Another series of windows broke and the front of the wave escaped from the coach into the freezing night. Emily was nearly carried with the wave, but she had landed high enough on the side of the car to find temporary purchase. Glass shards punctured her shoes and cut her feet in the process, but she managed to vocalize a shrill cry.

The Pullman started to slowly slide down the mountainside. A probing hand grasped one of Emily’s arms, lifting her higher in the stream of snow that rushed over the ceiling of the coach. Emily twisted to see a familiar female passenger, and she struggled mightily to move closer to the woman as the coach gained momentum.

A chorus of gasps and shouts lifted from the snowy flood as the car seemed to bounce and joust with other wreckage and rocks along the route of the slide. When the Pullman struck a large conifer, the trunk of the tree ripped into one side of the coach. The ancient evergreen did not immediately succumb to the avalanche, so the car pivoted back and forth on this perch as debris and snow rushed passed.

Emily took advantage of the temporary reprieve and called out for her father. The woman holding onto her diligently attempted to free herself from the layers of snow that held their lower bodies so firmly in place. Emily strained to twist her head as far as possible in each direction. Not seeing her father, she called out again.

A reply came in the way of an unworldly implosion to her right. She lifted her eyes to see one of the beautifully bestial locomotives of the Tacoma Express barrel through the Pullman. A black, steaming mass of gears, pistons, and wheels plied through the wooden walls of the car without hesitation. Within a second, Emily watched half the coach, several passengers, and her female savior disappear in a rush of wooden splinters and scalding splashes of oil and grease.

Ignoring the fresh lacerations and burns on her right side, Emily frantically fluttered her arms and legs to free herself from new waves of snow that swept into the gouged coach. The remnants of the car teetered and slipped around the fir, beginning a much more direct slide down the mountain.

Emily held on for her life, observing another passenger topple out of the coach and become immediately lost in the snowy wake trailing the wreckage.

She found herself preparing for whatever form or shape death would take for her. She imagined the coach striking yet another massive tree and disintegrating. She thought of another hulking locomotive striking the coach and exploding in a rush of boiling water and steam.

There was a tremendous splash. Emily looked down toward the intact end of the Pullman to see the icy waters of a mountain river rushing inside. She held her breath, waiting for the chilly water to find her flesh. Her body was so beaten and bloodied that the very idea of swimming seemed as remote and distant as Tacoma.

There was a new sensation. A strange firmness around each of her shoulders. She opened her eyes and found herself in the bloody embrace of her father. He stood knee-deep in the rushing waters at the bottom of the mountain and sported his own collection of gashes and bruises, but he was very much alive.

And so was his daughter.

“I actually think we are a little closer to Tacoma now,” he said and sighed with relief.

Joshua Scully is an American History teacher from Pennsylvania. He writes whenever possible.

iazabo is a musician from Madrid, Spain. 

(Narrative) The Post Modern Cat – (Music) 普林

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By. Roland Dodds

As the feline’s furry paws braced the computer keyboard, Post Modern Cat knew this day would be added to the annals of history. This would be the day revolution was realized. The chains of the oppressor discarded to the waste bin of history; slave relationships between the owner and worker extinguished. All that the world needed was the right academic dissertation.

 

The black and white tabby lifted her beret from her head and placed it ceremoniously next to her cup of green tea. The years spent writing obtuse academic jargon had trained the cat well; synthesis, situationist and multistrationilist theory would be the arms in which she destroyed the state. She couldn’t help but purr as the words began to flow.

“The subject is interpolated into a substructural ownership theory that includes truth as a whole. But if cat-centered surrealism holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and Foucaultist power relations.”

Beautiful.

“If substructural capitalist theory holds, we have to choose between semantic postcultural theory and capitalist situationism. Thus, the premise of substructural humanist cat intersectionality suggests that the goal of the reader is social comment.”

Post Modern Cat glanced over her shoulder as she finished the sentence, fearing that the revolutionary clarity of her work may bring unwanted attention from the state. She dimmed her MacBook screen accordingly and continued adding to her tome.

“Derrida uses the term ‘subpatriarchialist discourse’ to denote the role of the Cat as creator. In a sense, the premise of subconstructivist semantic theory implies that feline identity has significance beyond the confines of human appreciation.”

Yes, brilliant! But by using the grammatically correct “Cat,” was she fueling a dialect of linguistic oppression? Deconstructing expectations, in addition to identity, was necessary for the revolution to begin. Clarity was the tool of the oppressor.

“Kat identity is responsible for elitist perceptions of class,” says Foucault. The characteristic theme of Buxton’s essay on Derridaist reading is the role of the animal as rebel. But the subject is interpolated into a dialectic appropriation that includes truth as a totality.”

Like a thousand knives to ruling class, her words forced a smile to appear on her self-absorbed face, ruining her carefully crafted ascetic for a brief moment. She looked around to see if anyone noticed. No one was looking.

With that, Post Modern Cat closed her computer and hurried towards the exit. To the press with this masterpiece!

“You didn’t pay for your tea!” cried the barista.

Ah, yes. Capitalist currency. An inconvenient social element that would collapse with the full façade of the state once the kat’s manuscript reached the masses.

She left a handful of change on the counter, adjusted her beret, and strutted triumphantly out of the café.

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education.

Chimo is a band from Shanghai, China. 

(Narrative) Your New BAM-AG Home – (Music) Konchetumai

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By. Maria L. Berg

Horace Bentley-Jaguar IV’s stomach turned as he adjusted to the three-dimensionally rendered environment. Wiggling his toes felt real, but they wiggled inside shoes made from animal hide buffed to a glaring shine, the kind “wealthy” people had worn on earth during the times of excessive greed and poverty before the original Moon Colonies. He held a colorful beverage with small white and green spheres skewered by a tiny stick floating in the liquid. Wanting the full experience, he brought the glass to his lips. He felt a sharp tingle on his tongue, then a slight burn in his throat, but he didn’t taste or smell anything. Good try, he thought.

 

With his first immersed step, a warm, confident voice said, “Welcome to your new BAM-AG Home and the best decision you will ever make.” The voice reminded Horace of a strange history lesson he had once seen as a boy. A man in stiff, off-white polyester (a frightening chemical concoction that was banned on the Moon) with large green and blue horizontal and vertical stripes from shoulder to pant hem had arrived at a woman’s door and used a similar voice in an attempt to convince her that she wanted to exchange his pieces of thick, hairy floor covering for pieces of paper.

The voice of the retro-plaid coercer continued, “BAM-AG appreciates that you love your current BAM-AG Home, but with the overcrowding of the Moon Colonies, violent asphyxiation fatalities have surpassed reports of gun violence and oxygen combustion combined. That is a 600% increase over the last six years. If this trend continues, the Moon will be as unlivable as the Earth in only ten short years. But you already know that, don’t you?”

Horace nodded his head enthusiastically, pushing the gyroscopic centering mechanism of the rendering to its limits.

“Lucky for you, the same visionary company that developed The Moon Colonies understood the market and had the ability to teach me their understanding, so I can share it with you. When you purchase a BAM-AG Home you are getting the best that The Conglomerate of Corporate Super-Powers can offer. In other words, your investment is backed by the leaders you trust.”

Horace admired The Logos of The Great Leaders tastefully rendered along the mantel.

“The mind-blowing Future Tech Sensors covering every surface of your home, respond to your physical and emotional needs before you even know them yourself. The intuitive controls not only give the rooms of your house warmth, style and comfort, but also provide you with complete security: regulating oxygen levels to reduce combustion; controlling perimeter armaments in case of threat; and delivering holographic companionship and entertainment.”

The inspiring tones of The BAM-AG March began to play behind the voice bringing a tingle from Horace’s temples to the top of his scalp.

“Today is the day that you need to remember those lost–not only those on Earth, but the increasing losses here on the Moon—and plan for your family’s future. Don’t wait! Act today and your BAM-AG Home will be ready when your grandchildren arrive on Mars.”

Maria L. Berg enjoys brisk swims in the Pacific Northwest. Her flash fiction has been published in Five on the Fifth and Waking Writer. When not writing adult fiction, she writes and photo-illustrates Gator McBumpypants adventure stories.

Mayta is a rock band from Dallas, Texas. 

(Narrative) The Haunted Caboose – (Music) A Descending Journey

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By. Joshua Scully

Staying several steps ahead of her younger sister, Jessica periodically checked to confirm a matchbook remained securely in her back pocket. A full fuel can was slowly growing heavy in her left hand. She carried a golf club in the other.

A boreal wind from the north churned flurries between the leafless branches of several deciduous trees. Such a mottled sky on an early spring day seemed almost suspicious. The sun was regrettably nowhere to be found, although Jessica had not yet experienced anything malicious during daylight hours.

The steady crunching of papery leaves behind Jessica assured her that Sarah followed. She knew her sister didn’t fully understand this mission. Sarah lugged another fuel can and struggled to keep up with her determined sibling.

A derelict Montreal & Appalachia Railroad caboose and an abandoned spur line emerged from the surrounding forest just over a mile from Jessica’s house. The livery of the caboose was faded, and nature had largely ensnared the antiquated rolling stock. Jessica pointed with the golf club to where the spur disappeared into a thicket of overgrowth. Somewhere in the distance, a locomotive horn seemed to acknowledge the golf club.

“Are you sure that you want to do this?” Sarah asked. She didn’t see the caboose as especially malevolent or threatening.

Jessica didn’t necessarily want to commit arson as much as she desired a sense of reprisal.

“Yes,” Jessica replied.

Jessica knew this caboose harbored something. She just wasn’t certain as to the nature of the resident. She had originally suspected a witch and hadn’t entirely ruled out that possibility. However, she had also claimed to have evidence that some variety of shape-shifting demon, far more dangerous than a backwoods pythoness, was her tormentor.

Jessica had tried to explain to her sister all that had happened, and Sarah listened better than most. Jessica insisted her family had been experiencing supernatural activity for months. Objects moved randomly around the house and yard. The telephone rang at all hours of the night, even when disconnected. Jessica and her husband had observed an old woman on their property multiple times, and the trespasser’s presence seemed to coincide with these unnatural events. The couple followed the woman into the forest on several occasions and observed her entering the forgotten caboose on the same day that their son disappeared.

The police searched the dilapidated Montreal & Appalachia Railroad caboose and insisted that there was nothing to see or be found inside.

Of course, Jessica usually added that the entity had also taken the form of her attractive neighbor and seduced her husband, and then took the form of her husband and assaulted the same neighbor.

With her husband languishing in jail and her son missing, Jessica had recently observed the old woman attempt to set fire to her house. That’s when Jessica got the idea for a little homespun revenge.

Sarah wasn’t sure what to believe. Her nephew was missing, that was for certain. She suspected that her brother-in-law had enjoyed an affair with the neighbor that soured soon after the disappearance. She couldn’t as readily explain the old woman, but she allowed herself to speculate that some elderly vagrant from town was trying to survive the cold months in this caboose.

Sarah followed Jessica up the caboose’s rusting steps to a rear platform. Sarah peered inside a small window. The caboose seemed deserted. Jessica dropped her fuel can and tried the doorknob. The door rattled around the frame but didn’t budge.

Using the golf club as a spear, she thrust the titanium head forward toward the small window. The glass shattered, and she reached inside.

“Not locked,” Jessica muttered.

Without allowing time for her imagination to get the best of her, Jessica threw her body forward into the door. Her shoulder struck the splintered wooden panels. She repeated this motion a second time, and then a third. Crying out in pain and frustration, Jessica thrust her body against the door a fourth time. This proved decisive, and the door relented.

There was no cowering tramp inside. There was no blanket, bubbling cauldron, or missing child. There was nothing to see aside from a rusting iron stove, filthy bunks, peeling paint, and broken glass.

Jessica returned for her fuel can and began pouring the fluid haphazardly on one of the bunks. Sarah followed suit, spouting gasoline over the wooden floor.
A shrill noise suddenly emerged from below the floor. Both women felt their balance challenged.

“We’re moving,” Sarah whispered.

The decayed wheel trucks had ripped free from their wilderness moorings, and the caboose started to roll down the spur.

The sisters moved quickly for the door, which gracefully closed just before Jessica’s hand reached the knob.

The caboose gained momentum and tore through a considerable patch of overgrowth on the spur. Jessica slipped and tumbled into the stove, striking her head against the cast iron.

Sarah held her position, only to have her face struck by a locker door that inexplicably popped open. Jessica roused as the caboose rolled over damaged trackage. The wheel trucks violently shuddered, jostling each woman to the floor.

The caboose rounded a curve and convulsed as the entire structure seemed to jump across rails. From the floor, Jessica and Sarah felt the railroad car roll to a stop. With the stench of gasoline polluting her nostrils, Jessica gained her feet and glanced through a window above one bunk. She quickly lifted Sarah off the floor.

“Look!”

The old woman appeared between a few nearby trees. She had an arm around Jessica’s son, who stood stoically next to her.

The old woman offered a smirk and waved with her free hand.

A deafening roar filled the caboose. This was the horn of an approaching freight train. The caboose had rolled to the start of the defunct spur, hopped the junction, and came to a rest on the mainline.

Jessica hugged Sarah tightly just before an acute, explosive shattering became audible.

Joshua Scully is an American History teacher from Pennsylvania. He writes whenever possible.

Frantic Chant are a band from Edinburgh, Scotland. 

(Narrative) Do Not Enter Morin Woods – (Music) Delirious and Devoured

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By. Ryan Sonneville

The sun would rise and sluggishly set
Underneath, families entered the altar in restless sweat
Well in hand, returned flowers from ancient dead
Their repeated texts, cries, prayers wed

They repeated in antediluvian hoods:
Do Not Enter Morin Woods

 

My son cut his combatant’s blade
On the backs of timber and armored plates
In the pursuit of honor, he avoided text
Waylaid warring armies, discarded violent sects

The horizon promised foreign goods,
Yet he kept away from Morin Woods

Ships and horses brought him here
To this frozen shore laced in fear
Twisted wood, marked – left lifeless near
The ice seized ship, its captain dead, fewer less adhere

His withered face told of the years
Cutting to flesh, holding back tears
He vanquished elder oaths, went where he pleased
For distant realms and treasure yet to seize

Repeated words from his infancy stood:
He knew to keep from Morin Woods

Many years had passed, as did his wealth
The knight looked to fortune while eluding health
Siren songs would wake his slumber
Calling him, sword in hand, to look for another

The sails were frayed, the hull creased and tattered
There was no hope to leave this frozen island
Rock, dirt and decay were his flock
From this he could raise no kin, no means, no stock

Yet on the distance sat, dark trees to beckon few
Unless their mind fooled by their aim most true
He could take what others could not
Into the darkness, trembling for what all men sought

For these worldly goods,
He would enter Morin Woods

With torch lit and sword in hand
He walked assuredly into this remote land
To claim what none have yet, he turned again
One day, they would sing of who he had been

With not a word, the man did not return
No comment of where is body or soul did churn
Lost to time in an unspeakable realm
Left with no son to carry his battered helm

The natives sat, in ornate hoods,
They knew not to enter Morin Woods

Ryan Sonneville is a teacher and writer.

Manet is a band from Norway.