by Aaron Willis
It was the night of the performance. For weeks we had rehearsed a small scene as part of a Valentine’s Day showcase. Dessert Theater; an evening of intimate theater followed by dessert with the cast. I didn’t know how “intimate” it would prove to be.
Several sketches examining all things romantic, ours was Electric Roses, described as a “sobering view of love.” I played a convict named Russ and she played Sara, the ex-girlfriend. It’s implied that the reason my character was in lockup was because the relationship had become toxic and I had gotten jealous and physically abusive. The scene had both of us giving our own monologues interspersed with some secondary characters weighing in, but five minutes before we took the stage, she suggested, “At the midpoint when Darrell is describing the flashback, we should move towards each other, kiss, and then break away for dramatic effect. I think it would heighten the impact.” She stared at me as she said it, less a suggestion than declaring how the scene would go. She was in charge of the theater group, and thus knew best. I calculated how many steps it would take to reach her, draw her close. Would a strand of her curly brown hair be in her face? Would I have to brush it away? Would that help or hurt the scene? All these thoughts rushed through my head as a voice called out “30 seconds to curtain!”
The lights went out backstage, the burgundy curtain parted, pulled by two high school volunteers, and the applause began. She strode out, confident and appreciative, bowing a few times, and then holding up her arms for silence. She gave a rundown of the evening in a lilting enunciated fireball of syllables, while the rest of us paced, went over our lines mentally, and flapped our hands vigorously to get out the jitters.
After the first few scenes, I was finding my stride, getting energized by the vibe of the crowd. As the night continued, smiling and observing replaced the pacing backstage. The scene before Electric Roses had almost concluded and I went downstairs to the green room below the stage and changed into the orange prisoner garb. In the mirror I saw the lines from my boxers were showing through the pants in an awkward way. I tried arranging and pulling but the effect was bad. I made a split second decision: the boxers had to go. With a quick glance I dropped the pants, slid off my boxers and stuffed them in my backpack, then pulled the pants back on. I looked in the mirror. Much better, smooth lines. Problem was, now there was sensation. I never go commando, but now nerve endings started to crackle. Or maybe it was the nervous energy. Either way, it was time. The applause subsided, I remembered my blocking, got into my Kentucky accent, and chewed some scenery.
My lines were well-rehearsed, well memorized. I played off the energy of the audience, as did she.The time came where we were supposed to move toward each other. “Darrell” jabbered on and we locked eyes, stepped closer. With no dialogue for us, it was easier to just be in the physical moment. After all, we hadn’t done blocking for this, but it made the hesitation and joining that much more natural. The speaking stopped and that was the cue for the kiss. I was nervous but wanted to show I was a pro. Our faces met, our lips touched, the scene was working, and then something odd happened. During the kiss, she slid her tongue into my mouth and a micro explosion sparkled to life in my nervous system. Was she testing me? Did she fancy me? Was she just method acting in the scene? No idea. It felt so good, so exciting and it was a secret we shared in plain view of the whole town. A hot pink explosion clouded my brain.
However, my cock had ideas, thought it had been summoned, beeper gone off and now it had to come to work. The feel of the thin fabric combined with getting a surprise tongue started a chain reaction below the equator, but with practically the whole town in attendance, I could not let that happen. Somehow I focused on my lines and feeling my character’s loss and through sheer defiant will power, I cowed my budding erection back into hibernating standby. It is the singlemost impressive feat I have ever managed, because I was incredibly turned on. The fabric of those orange prison pants were barely a whisper, and having no boxers as a barrier, every step and shift i took was like a lover’s gentle stroke.
The weeks rehearsing the scene I had developed a crush on my director and fellow thespian, and as she was the head of the theater group, I felt it would be inappropriate to try and pursue anything. But this kiss, this maddening ambiguity, this alluring and delicious tongue, warm and wet inside my mouth, I had to know. After I changed out of the prison garb and back into restrictive plainclothes, I went topside to mingle and sample the desserts. I made small talk with some people and moved around in different groups, but I was always tracking her, wanted to see if she was looking for me too, but every time I saw her she was engrossed in conversation, or throwing her head back for a hearty peal of laughter. I drew a conclusion, and disappointed, threw my paper plate in the trash. Solemnly, I trudged downstairs to get my things. I started up the stairs, then turned and remembered the plastic bag with the prison outfit. as I grabbed it, her voice sounded behind me. “Great job, tonight.”
“Thanks. You too.” She stood with weight on one foot, one hand clutching a plastic cup of prosecco, the other hand wrapped around her opposite hip. She was smiling in that euphoric relief of a show concluded where nothing had gone awry. She struck such an image of intelligence, confidence, powerful beauty. I held up the plastic bag, “Here’s the jail uniform.”
She held her position, took a long sip from her cup but kept her eyes on me over the rim. Studying something in my eyes and body language perhaps? Was she as shy as I was? Could the all-business persona be a calculated act? “I wanted to give you some notes while they were fresh in my mind,” she said and moved towards me. “I still think you’re speaking too fast. The audience hasn’t rehearsed it a bunch of times. They’re hearing it once and never again, so you have to make every syllable land.” I hung my head. “I know.”
“Your body language didn’t seem to change even though you played three different characters tonight.” She set the cup down on a folding chair. “The blind date creep, how does he stand?” I set my spine in a creeper lurch. “And how does Oberon stand?” I stood as regally as I could while she circled and nodded. “And Russ, how would he stand?” I thought about it, and just sort of hung my arms as if my shoulders were a clothes hanger and the weight of my actions pulled everything else down. “Good!’ she said, and moved behind me. I could still hear people shuffling in the building above, some clearing out, some checking out the dregs of the desserts, some collecting trays and plastic containers. She continued, “I feel though…” and while still behind me, propped up my arms and shoved my spine forward. She kept her hand there at the base of my spine, then with a movement deliberate yet ambiguous, her hand slid off, traced my left buttock, and she stepped back observing. I held still and swallowed, excited and uncertain. Wanting to please her but also wanting to know for sure.
I still held the plastic bag and uniform dangled out. “Walk with me to return that,” she said and turned up the stairs. I followed and gazed at her lovely form from behind. I loved her serpentine motion onstage, now watching her legs and hips and supple ass before me was a delicious torture. I wondered if she was accentuating the motion for my benefit or if that was simply her everyday gait. Whatever the case, it was driving me crazy.
We reached the back of the jail and dropped it through a late night mail chute. Then she turned to me and said, “I’m out of prosecco. You should walk me home.” At this time, all the townspeople had gone home, and the few from Castle Valley who had come by car had driven off. We strolled the streets. A couple times, she balance beamed along the curb like a teenager. She’d even turned around completely, walked backwards on the curb and never broke eye contact. The dark seemed to bring something out of me. Courage, confidence, whatever you want to call it. I started to strut a little, smile more. I fed off her energy and what she was putting out there was flirtatious and addictive. Three blocks east, four blocks south. We reached her bungalow, but before she opened the front door, she stopped, tilted her head skyward. “Ohhhh wow,” she cooed. The night sky was deep desert black, and the stars were bountiful pinholes. This was a night you could see the milky way, a magical dusty streak, both calm and dazzling. She led me around to her back deck and I planted myself in a reclining lawn chair, taken with the celestial view. I heard her patio door slide open and shut. I tried counting stars and lost count at 45. A dog or possibly coyote yelped its echo back towards the river. A meteorite streaked across the sky and I dumbly shouted “Ha!”
The patio door slid open and shut again. Flop. Flop. Flop-flop. Four giant flat pillows formed a square on the deck. She shook a thin tartan blanket and it descended parachute-like over the new soft pad. I noticed she had changed into a green silk robe and had a wine bottle. Stepping lightly, she perched and reclined onto the blanketed pillow dais. Casting a glance over her shoulder and with a wry smile, patted the blanket twice to beckon me over.
I kicked off my shoes and slid next too her onto the pillows and she handed me the open bottle. I tipped it to my lips. Not prosecco. Something white. Too tart for pinot grigio, too dry for riesling. “Sauvignon blanc?” I asked. She lifted her brows. “New Zealand?”
“Go on,” she smiled.
I shrugged. “Marlborough region?”
“I honestly don’t know,” she laughed. “I didn’t know you were such a wine buff.”
“Actually, that’s the extent of it. I used to be a server. I know I liked that one.”
She rotated on her side, held her head up with one arm. “What else do you like?”
Though it was dark, a little light from her house bled onto the deck. The robe had come loose near the neck and I could see a swell and curve of breast. My heart leapt into my throat and began to thump. I could hear the pulse in my ears. The thought of her wearing only that robe was palpable and tremendously exciting. Her shapely leg swung out and she tapped me in the thigh with her toe. “Are you going to pass that bottle back?”
“Oh, right” I croaked and took another swig, handed it back. As she grabbed it, her fingers traced mine and for a second she stroked my thumb. My cock shifted, like a hose uncoiling or an elephant trunk waving. This time I didn’t try to subdue its progress, its inflation. The darkness, the stars, the warm breeze, all were intoxicating. And I still wasn’t certain if I had a green light.
She pulled another swallow of wine, then set the bottle to the side, laid down to face the heavens. “Do you know you constellations?” I laid back. “Only Orion. Which I don’t see right now.”
“Mmmph. Wrong time of year. It’s southern hemisphere now.”
We laid there, stargazing in silence for what seemed like ten minutes. My breathing had become quite fast and heavy. I tried to listen for hers to get a clue, but couldn’t hear past my own body and that yelping dog. Then she elbowed me gently and in a near whisper, “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Orion,” I said.
“No. My question before.”
She giggled and sighed. “What. Else. Do you like?”
I swallowed hard. Inevitability flooded me. The tantalizing possibility. But I also didn’t want to show my hand too fast. This could be an innocuous question. Asked by someone in a flimsy piece of cloth keeping them from being totally nude. On pillows outside. Gahhhhh.
I heard the click of liplicking from her side of the pillows and a sharp intake of breath.
I exhaled, “…..mint chocolate chip.”
She exploded in laughter and a clonk sounded. “Oh no!”
I propped up on my elbow. She had the wine bottle aloft, dripping. “Only lost a little bit.”
“Might have to take this robe to get dry cleaned.”
I volunteered, “I’ll suck it out.”
For a second, silence. I thought I’d blown it. Then she erupted into giggles again. “It’s wine, not….snake venom!”
Then began a back and forth of improv about snakes from the Marlborough region of New Zealand having wine venom. We both tried kiwi accents but we both decided they were just Australian and we cracked up until we were both on our sides panting, laughter subsiding, eyes locked. She looked down at my lips, licked her own, met my eyes again. I moved my head closer, daring her to make the first move. Parting my lips, I slowly tucked my bottom lip in and dragged my teeth as it emerged wet and ready. Her ripe, kissable mouth looked like a bee stung cherry and I longed to taste that tongue again. The tips of our noses touched and that set things into motion. With a soft groan, she crashed into my lips, sucking my bottom lip into her mouth, running her tongue over it and into my awaiting tongue. More of a mouth dance than kissing, she held my head in her hands, sucked my tongue and rotated her head first one way, than the other. The sensation of that locking and turning thrilled me.
Then she broke the kiss, turned me flat on my back and straddled me. With a fluidly sexy shoulder motion, the robe blossomed open and cascaded onto the deck. I was right. She was nude underneath. The darkness made all other feelings amplified. I traced her neck with my fingers, glided down to her beautiful cupcake breasts, traced circles around her nipples. She arched her back and let out a low moan. I lifted up, kissed and licked her neck, planted pecks down to the center of her breasts, gave each nipple a lick and swirling suck, dotted kisses down to her navel. She shuddered and exhaled and gasped all at once, then her mouth found mine again. As she sucked on my tongue, her free hand was undoing my belt buckle, unbuttoning, unzipping, and rooting for a lunging and grateful obelisk. Her hand squeezed me in excitement. Then both her hands were tugging at my waistbands. I wriggled under her to help out as I got rid of a useless T shirt. The night air felt amazing on my skin, as did her hands and mouth. At last, no cloth barriers were between us. She pushed my shudders down with one hand and grabbed my cock with the other. With delicious ease she rubbed the tip back and forth against fuzzy wet flower petal folds, then took me completely in. I was enveloped in pleasure. I felt a pulsing clenching from within as she rose and descended. Her hands had my shudders pinned to the deck. All I could do was enjoy as she took control and created the motion. Her body had that serpentine essence again. She was going up and down but it felt and looked like an S curve ballet. The noises emanating from her were like an “unghh unghh unghh” as her rhythm increased.
I felt close to finishing but didn’t let myself. I wanted to experience her climax, see the ecstasy written on her face. Her rhythm was no longer accelerating but was steady. She let one of my arms free and I reached up and grabbed left breast, squeezed it in time to her strokes. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open. She was nearing the finish line. Her breaths were short puffs and moans. Her body now did a motion with more pubic bone rubbing, more clitoral stimulation. A back and forth rather than up and down. She took my hand and led it to around back of her. I felt into that lovely moving wetness, and when my fingers were lubed enough, I began gently rubbing circles and taps around her ass. Her body started tremoring and I tried to make my fingers vibrate the same way when suddenly she clenched and buckled and let out a long and satisfied “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
I still hadn’t cum when she collapsed onto me, exhaling wildly, her chest clammy with sweat. I hugged her close as she wilted from orgasm to contentment. I felt her kegel muscles tensing on my shaft and they became fainter and fainter. I was happy for her, I didn’t need to cum. This was far far better. I held her as her breathing became slower and steadier. Another meteorite streaked by. I kissed the top of her head and soon she was asleep. I was thirsty and tried to reach the wine bottle but couldn’t stretch far enough. Oh well. My eyes drank the milky way and then I joined her in slumber.
by Aaron Willis
Edith had a husband. Once he had been charming, entertaining, and his love of wine was endearing. Over the years, it became less so. The drink turned him, or had it revealed him? How many lies had been spun and were they caused by or blamed on, the wine? Perhaps he had always had a loose affiliation with truth and the wine and years made him poorer at concealing it. Whichever the case, she felt stuck. Since she had two daughters with him she felt powerless to leave or make demands to change.
They dwelled in the city by a cliff which had taken to rumbling the past few weeks. Only the more sensitive took note of this as the tremors were slight and short lived. Edith was keenly aware and felt something bigger was coming.
One night, Edith awoke and realized her husband was not in bed. She had thought him too drunk to rouse even to use the chamber pot. A murmur in the next room made her sit up. A sound of cloth rustling, whispering and stifled sobbing.
Her husband exited that room, staggered back to bed, drool and wine in his beard. He fell to snoring almost immediately. The stifled sobs continued. Edith began to rise but her husband’s arm flung over her and he said “Just a bad dream. She had a bad dream is all.” Pinned by the deadweight of his arm, the lateness of the hour and the sobs ebbing, Edith succumbed to sleep.
The next morning Edith and her two daughters went to the square to sell their wares, mostly fabrics and clay pots. The daughters were sullen and tired-looking. The younger looked to have light bruises on her wrists. When asked about it, she stared at a far off point and dully stated, “A bad dream.” The older daughter had the same haunted expression but she looked into her mother’s eyes pleadingly for a second before the hope faded again. Edith had a sick feeling in her stomach as a gnawing suspicion solidified. The cliff rumbled like a hungry belly which made the hairs on Edith’s arm stand up.
Around noon, Edith’s husband came into the square with a young man and woman she’d never seen before. From the looks of their red faces and laughing demeanor they had been drinking. Edith’s daughters shriveled noticeably as he approached. “There she is, my wife. These are my friends ha ha ha, my new friends, they are from...it’s their first time here. It’s a great city, right? Great people.” Edith’s husband’s gaze kept on the swaying couple, but moreso the young woman.
“I ran out of coin at the tavern,” at this, Edith’s husband made a great display of patting himself down and shrugging, “and I thought I can’t have more wine and these two, these two angels they said ‘here share with us’ and (clapped hands) best of friends! Ha ha ha ha!”
The young man said, “We will sleep in the square tonight...”
Edith’s husband waved his hands. “No, no, no, you must stay with us, there is more than enough room. I have bread and wine. You cannot stay in the square. Thieves, bad people, this city is terrible. We are the only good ones. They will try to take your wife from you. You both (his eyes lingering on the young woman) will stay with us. I insist.” The cliff rumbled so that an applause of little pebbles trickled down the rockface.
When Edith and the girls arrived home, the laughter could be heard through the door and echoing down the street. The couple and Edith’s husband were more in their cups than before. The young woman looked to be about ten minutes from passing out. Empty clay pots were strewn here and there. The young man was standing patting himself down. “Whole sack of coins somewhere. Ha ha ha.”
Edith’s husband produced a satchel she had never seen before and fished out some coins, put them in the young man’s palm. “Here you can have some of mine, I owe you anyhow.”
The young man squinted and smiled. “Your draw bag looks similar to mine.” Edith’s husband clapped him on the back. “That’s why we are such good friends! We like the same things! Now run and get more wine. Maybe my wife and daughters can show you where to go, ha ha ha.”
Edith eyes the young woman writhing on the floor. “I have to start supper, dear. And I wouldn’t want our guest to have a bad dream.” The husband had an icy gaze for a split second then he shrugged and sat on the floor as the young man went out the door in search of more wine.
After a few minutes, a knock on the door roused the young woman who had nodded off for a second. Edith’s husband leapt to his feet. “He’s back already! Excellent!” As he flung open the door, an old man with cap in hand swayed, his milky eyes darting here and there trying to stitch sound into a sense of area. “Could you spare some coin for a...”
Edith’s husband shoved him backward onto the cobblestones. “No, and never come here again. There’s nothing for you here, beggar!” He slammed the door. The young woman sat up, invigorated by the noise. “What was that?”
The husband pointed at her. “He was after you! He said ’Give me that pretty thing you have inside.” The young woman hugged her knees to her chest. Another knock at the door, this time it was the young man with more clay pots of wine.
The husband sat on the floor pouring the rich purple liquid into wooden tumblers. “You missed it. A whole group of people were at the door. Half the whole town, they were wanting to drag your wife outside and have their way with you. And they also wanted to do the same to you! But you’re safe here. We are the good people. And because they wanted to cause you harm, the Lord struck them all blind. Edith, wasn’t that a blind man, blind men at the door?”
Edith nodded like a wounded animal who dared not upset everything. The daughters saw her eyes fall, understanding. Suddenly the cliff shook violently and a blast of heat rushed in through the windows. The husband stood up and gestures wildly. “See? You see? This terrible city and those terrible people are going to be destroyed!”
Edith reaches her limit and shouted out “Liar!” But it was drowned out by a rumble and explosion. They ran outside into crowds of running people. A glowing trickle was sliding down the cliff toward town. Screams and footfalls echoed.
Edith instructed her daughters to run to nearby Zoar. She grabbed her husband and pulled him back toward the house. Rumbling intensified. “Grab as much as you can,” she said. In a quick time they loaded themselves with fabrics and pots. The husband tried to grab a flask of wine. Edith, unsure if she could even be heard over the other noise shrieked “I am done with the lies! I’m done with your drinking! I’m done with you touching our daughters! I’m done with you! In Zoar no one knows us and I will claim to not know you! You make me sick!”
It felt good to finally say all her thoughts out loud but the husband didn’t seem to react so she was certain he hadn’t heard.
They clattered out of town up the opposite hill. Edith was ahead of him and he fell behind and dropped all he was carrying. “Help me! Help me, please!” She heard pain and pleading in his voice, even fear. Edith stopped, closed her eyes, and turned back. It had been an act. Her husband shoved her down and then kicked her down the hillside. He called down, “No one knows us in Zoar. I can tell whatever stories I want and they’ll believe me. How my daughters got me drunk and took advantage of me to continue our bloodline. Think of that!”
With that he disappeared over the top of the hill. Edith writhed in pain at the bottom of the hill. Her ankle was bent at an unnatural angle and flopped when she lifted her leg up. She couldn’t put any weight on it as she crawled up the hill. The rumbling got louder and louder behind her and then there was an ear splitting explosion. Edith turned to see a fast-moving cloud of ash barreling toward her. Her body became encased and baked in the ash and poisonous gases. After everything cleared, her body stuck out from the hillside resembling a white pillar.
Two Clicks East of the Wreckage
by Aaron Willis
Carter heaved the box into the corner and tried to catch his breath as
he placed his back against the wall.
Clay and Franklin pointed their rifles and moved around the perimeter
of the roof in that lateral squatted-duck walk all miltary personnel
are trained in. Their beige fatigues blended with the desert sky,
though soon it would be dusk, and that would be trouble.
Clay removed his pack, dug the handheld out, thumbed a keypad, thrust
it at Carter.
"Tell 'em the roof of the bank two clicks east of the wreckage."
Carter nodded, put the pod to his ear. His chest heaved, but his lungs
no longer burned. Clay shouldered the rifle, stood by Franklin as he
surveyed the area with his scope.
The pod crackled to life, a buzzy drone, then a voice:"......opy?"
Carter cupped a hand over the receiver. "Yes, we copy. Uh, pick-up
will not be the rallying point. New pick-up will be roof of the bank
two clicks east of the wreckage."
"...eckage?" the pod droned.
"Vehicle is down. We hit a mine. Ericson is gone. Repeat, driver and
vehicle are gone."
The pod crackled out and a hot sandy wind sluiced figure 8's across
the surface of the roof.
Clay spun, rubbed his greying head with a wet bandanna. "How long?"
Carter shrugged. "Lost the signal. On their way, though."
Franklin peered through the scope at the pillar of smoke in the
distance. The vehicle looked like a black, burning ribcage. He moved
the scope from Ericson's body to the surrounding dunes. The terrain
was mostly flat, but there were many pockets to hide.
Clay put the pod down, took out a '46 model Geiger counter. A gravelly
pip-pip report started. He moved it 360 degrees, then nodded to
"Clear?" Franklin asked.
Clay nodded and set the device down next to the pod, still on. Carter
stared at it, a chill coating him despite the desert heat. This was
the very situation he had wanted to avoid. He was angry at himself for
letting the soldiers convince him of the plan's ease and his role in
it of mere observer, a field expert who would never be in any danger,
as if the soldiers controlled every nuance, every angle, every
The very nature of a soldier is not to control everything in a hostile
situation, but merely to have the training to deal with whatever
happens. That, and to be able to talk a good argument for intelligent
individuals to go along with their insane schemes. The money was a
tempting factor, and Carter's safety was guaranteed. Now, one mine
later, nothing was a guarantee except their peril. The closer it got
to dark, the enemy would arrive, scurrying out from around the green
glass craters caused by the "pinpoint nukes" of the fifth conflict.
"We're fine on ammo, right?" Franklin asked, not quite able to conceal
concern in his voice.
Clay patted the large pack. "Golden."
Franklin tapped the scope. "We've only got the one scope, though."
Clay laughed. "Pfehh. I was completing distance targets with 98%
accuracy when you were still swimming in your daddy's balls. And I
didn't have any goddamned scope, either."
The counter suddenly pipped louder, a different register, deeper.
Carter let out a nervous laugh. "It must be picking up the chopper,
right?" Carter himself knew how stupid this sounded. It was the
illogical hope of the scared shitless. The chopper wouldn't be
triggering the Geiger counter, only the enemy.
Clay nodded to Franklin, who spun with the scope in the direction of
their vehicle. He let out a pained sigh.
"Three of 'em."
Carter's bowels writhed. Clay dug out a pair of binoculars, peered
over the roof to the west, where the column of smoke twisted into the
sky like a tourniquet.
Clay moved the binoculars over the scene. Two of them were already
tearing at Ericson's corpse, the third stood a few meters away,
sniffing the air, a paw raised in indecision. The size of them! They
were easily three times the size of Ericson. That little of meat would
not satiate them. The smoke was not coming towards them, but away,
which meant they were upwind. The lead dog would soon know this.
"Carter!" Clay said, "Get over here with the recorder."
Carter's legs wouldn't function. "W-Why?"
"Because you're getting paid to document, so document."
Carter unhinged the box, got out the stillcatcher and flipped the
commentary switch to "on."
He shakingly moved over next to Franklin, zoomed in on the scene,
licked his lips.
"Uh... S-September 28th, 2083. Ruins of Fallujah, northeastern part of
Greater Israeli Territories. The species is canine in appearance,
extensive radiation poisoning, no doubt due to prolonged exposure to
depleted uranium. Three to five times the size of a human, although
difficult to gauge at this distance. Skin is a pale pink with patches
of green, light sensitive, a nocturnal creature. F-five eyes, a second
mouth and muzzle, though limp and non-functioning. Long claws, for
digging shelters in the sand, perhaps? They are...feeding on the body
of our driver. This species has more than likely sustained itself
primarily on the dead in times of conflict..."
"Take that last part out!" Clay snapped. "You want Ericson's mother
hearing about how her son..."
"They're coming..." Franklin said.
The three had broken into a lope, pausing to sniff the air and making
zigzags, but always in the direction of town.
Clay dragged the ammo bag over and positioned his rifle on a level
part of the concrete. "Controlled bursts at 200 yards."
Franklin muttered something under his breath, to Carter it sounded
like a prayer.
Clay conjured a wad of phlegm, spat it over the roof, fixed his eye in
the crosshairs. Franklin scraped the pavement with his boots in
succession, resembling a bull about to charge, then stood still.
Carter slunk against the wall and hugged his knees to his chest.
"Ok, now," Clay said.
Carter screwed in his earplugs and the reports of muffled cracks
immediately bled through, sounding no more threatening than a staple
gun. He closed his eyes, wishing for it to be over.
Minutes rolled on, with the staccato gunfire beating its rhythm into
his temples. He opened his eyes at last, saw the pod's green light was
on. He scrambled for it, dug out an earplug, rushed it to the side of
his head so fast he clobbered himself.
A buzz and then: ".....isual confirmation."
Carter spun and saw a black dot on the horizon, with incredible speed
it grew from a dot to a a flapping bug, then to a black twin-prop
chopper, their ride.
"Yes, I see you! We're here! Roof of the bank!"
"....ing the walls!"
"Yes, the one with the green walls! I'm waving my arms!"
Carter waved his arms frantically. The chopper was close enough to
hear over the shooting. Then the shooting stopped.
"....re climbing the walls! Get out of there!"
Carter heard the click of long claws behind him and spun to look into
five eyes. Carter was wrong. That second mouth functioned just fine.
I walked the channels where taggers with spraypaint cans had practiced.
on past where the walls stopped.
just trees and the flow of the creek.
a dead possum in some caught-up brush, mouth frozen open in a silent yawning scream.
quiet and still, yet I saw motion.
the eye sockets looked like television static.
I drew forward and saw the static was a maggot orgy.
death leaves little postcards.
The Supper Club Investor’s Ball
by Aaron Willis
Danny got off the plane, lumbered down the stairs. It was the first comfortable flight he'd been on. Ever. This was a new airline from billionaire humanitarian Charles Patterson, who despite being a thin man himself, for some reason had a big heart for the obese. The six planes in his fleet were designed to house portly folks who would normally have to suffer the humiliation of buying two seats on everyday flights. Spacious, comfortable, just like the buses he did a trial run with, although in the first test city, the grafitti tagging rendered all the buses into drive-by billboards of hurt, what with six foot bubble letters stenciling "Fatterson's Pork Wagon" and "Driveabetes" going by. And not to mention since anyone could ride, the extra large seating space was being utilized by skinny hobos for sleeping and teens of all size for late night fucking.
Since it's harder to deface a plane with spraypaint, and with busfare a fraction the price of skyfare, the planes have held up pristine. Danny felt happy. Since he and the other passengers were all the same body mass index, no one silently judged him when he trundled down the aisle, because the aisle was wide enough to accommodate a Danny and a half. Danny also felt happy because the next part of the trip was to the themepark: Plus-world.
Charles Patterson had done it again. He'd opened a themepark full of plus-size rollercoasters and whatnot, robustly made and spacious, and the grand opening was months away. Danny and 49 others had been specially invited to the week-long soft opening gala. The main logo was a plus sign, pretty much emblazoned everywhere. The code for obese pride. Plus size. Positive size. Another logo was one of the main sponsors: Gil's Grillers; the tex-mex barbecue joint that, no matter what you ordered, they would put it in a tortilla and deep fry it, thus chimichanga-ing the whole menu.
After surrendering his phone and laptop (absolutely no info to be leaked) Danny checked into his suite, tore open a packet of snacks from the mini-bar, watched some HBO on his king-sized bed before the travel-nappems nabbed him. He woke suddenly by a few sharp raps at the door. "Just a minute," he said to the door. It did take a full 60 seconds for Danny to get from mattress to slide-lock. In the hallway was a housekeeper, Latina and morose. She didn't make eye contact. "You need towels? Anything?"
"Nah, that' s ok," Danny muttered, then "Or hey some more of the chips?"
She reached into her cart-o-plenty and handed him a few pouches of the snacks he had destroyed earlier. Danny turned to fish the wallet out of his back pocket, but when he held out the bills for a tip, she was already down the hall knocking on another door. Danny shrugged it off, returned the money to his billfold, chalked it up to being a VIP where everything was paid for. After a cursory look at the desk clock, he realized the meet-n-greet with Charles Patterson was in ten minutes. Hors-d'oeuvres and cocktails provided.
As Danny got into the elevator, he felt like he was at a convention of his own ilk. And despite the fact the elevator had 9 people, all heavy, there was still space to move around. He could breathe. Nothing felt cramped. Apart from the hotel staff, no one was one of those skinny-minis. Here, they were the majority. Their world, their sized things, their rules. Danny wanted to cry. Finally a place where he didn't have to be ashamed for just being.
The meet n greet was extravagant, and several big screen televisions had previews of the roller coasters and attractions for the next day. Charles himself moved through the crowd, shaking hands and giving backpats, and more than a few hugs. One woman with tears streaming nearly crushed the wind out of him. He laughed and gasped after she set him back down. “You’re welcome, dear! You’re so very welcome! All this is for you, for all of you. You deserve dignity. And fun! Enjoy yourselves tomorrow!” Danny approached the still-weeping woman, offered her a cocktail napkin. “Thanks, hon. My mascara must be a right mess. I’m Darlene by the way.”
“Danny. You got to meet the man, huh?”
“Think I cracked his ribs, but I was so excited. He’s such a humanitarian. So inspiring. I feel like he’s the only one who really sees us and empathizes with us.”
“I know what you mean. I wanted to say something but I didn’t want to stammer. I’m sure anything I would have said he’s already heard a hundred times.”
“But he hasn’t heard it from you. This is my husband Gerald.”
A huge bearded man clapped a hand on Danny’s shoulder. “Flirting with my wife, eh?”
Darlene elbowed him. “Behave, you shithead. Let’s hit that open bar.”
The three laughed and told stories and drank rum n cokes and wrecked several trays of crab cakes. Around 11, Gerald got up. “Time to see if the beds are reinforced for us. C’mon Darlene. I’m gonna pound your cottage cheese ass to kingdom come.’
“Not if I bite your dick off first.”
“Promises, promises. Night, Danny.”
The two staggered off to the elevators. Danny stayed at the bar for another hour hoping to meet a woman himself but the crowd had thinned and he went back towards his room. In the hall, the man in the next suite was struggling with his room key and the sulky housekeeper from earlier was trying to help him. The man was clearly angry but his face wasn’t red and his mustache appeared to be peeling off on one side. He looked uncomfortable and something about his appearance was odd but Danny couldn’t quite place it, like when you see a cgi character in a film and the weight isn’t there. The man yelled again, but his neck jowls didn’t jiggle. He didn’t look natural. After some bad noise, the maid finally got the passkey to activate. He pushed past her and slammed the door. She gave his room number the finger and strutted off down the hall. Danny saw a small yellow legal pad which must have fallen in the fuss. He picked it up, went to knock, but the anger of the owner and the late hour paused his fist, and Danny resolved to give it to him tomorrow when heads would be cooler. Danny threw the notebook on the desk and collapsed onto the bed. He had pleasant dreams although the crab cakes did make his stomach rumble all night.
The next morning, Danny met Darlene and Gerald at the breakfast buffet. Darlene had sunglasses on and sipped a mimosa. Gerald tore into his eggs benedict with gusto. “Mornin, hon” croaked Darlene. Danny set to his biscuits and gravy. “How are you guys feelin’?” Gerald barked a sharp laugh and Darlene held her head. “She’s hungover, I’m fine. But with her like that, looks like we won’t be doing any roller coasters today. Or the scrambler, or the hanging upside down ones.” Danny nodded while he chewed. “I stayed up another hour after you guys. I might do some of the lighter stuff myself.” The dining room was spacious. The tables were big and accommodating, the chairs ample and wide and comfortable. It seemed so simple: just make everything bigger. People are bigger, make the stuff bigger. Danny scanned the area for the mustache man from the previous night but didn’t see him. What he did see was a group of skinny folks in lab coats and clipboards congregated by the exit making notes and pointing at certain tables.
Suddenly all the screens went black and then a presentation began. Charles Patterson himself appeared. “Good morning, friends. I want to welcome you to Plus World. Today you will be experiencing rides and attractions, however since the park is not officially open yet, some of the rides are still under construction and we will need your help calibrating the features and getting crucial feedback. We value your input, and as always, some of us may be big, but our hearts must be bigger. Thank you, and have a delicious time.”
Gerald snorted. “What’s this dude’s deal? Zee have a family member with weight issues? Why does he care about us?”
Darlene said, “He just does. Maybe his aunt is Samoan.”
Gerald inhaled another forkful of egg and dripped hollandaise in his beard. “No one with that much money is a saint. Maybe his limo driver ran over some fat fuck and now he feels guilty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving’ this, but something ain’t right underneath it all.”
Darlene pursed her lips and Danny looked away. The rest of breakfast was silent and awkward. As they got up, a couple of the thin people in lab coats gave Darlene a couple passes. “These are for a special ride we’re still working on. It’s kind of behind the scenes and we’d love your ideas on it .” Gerald bellowed “Hell yeah, VIP baby!” and chugged the rest of his bloody mary. Darlene held them out to Danny and Gerald. “You two go. My stomach’s not up for it.” Gerald snatched them, “Uh uh. You and me. This is our trip. Our anniversary. Chew some tums and get your tits back in the game!” Danny hated being in the middle and lied, “I have plans already.” Even though he really wanted to see the behind the scenes specialness.
Darlene put her hands on her hips. “We’re going to be here all week. Let’s do it tomorrow.” Gerald held the passes in her face. “They’re only for today! Chug some water, take some Advil and woman up!” Gerald got on on one knee and acted like the passes were a ring box. Darlene looked to the side trying to stifle a smile. She chewed the inside of her cheek but the smile erupted. “Goddamn you. I will puke on you.”
“Worth it,” Gerald said and kissed her forehead.
Darlene looked over her shoulder. “See you later, Danny.”
Danny waved them off, then went to the the table with some maps and put one in his cargo shorts pocket next to the small yellow notebook. He was still hoping to run into the mustache man. Around noon, he did. A crowd had gathered around one of the rides that went upside down. The body of the mustache man was on the pavement below the ride, a pool of blood encircling his fractured skull. One of his legs was bent underneath him in an angle even yoga couldn’t accomplish. A piece of his cheek was flapping though there wasn’t blood. His facial expression seemed to be a docile “Oh now I get it.” Some lab coat people threw a blanket over him and security moved everyone back. Danny walked around dazed and the TV screens had another presentation. Once again Charles: “My friends. As many of you have probably heard, an accident has occurred on the grounds. Someone fell from one of the rides and has died. I want to assure everyone the rides are safe, completely safe, and the reason this accident has happened is because Im afraid our park, our sanctuary for big people like you has been violated. A reporter, who is not himself obese tried to ride our attraction but slipped through the safety harness and fell to his death. Had he been of proper weight and actually been invited here, this would not have happened. Our rides are designed for a specific body type. This reporter tried to pass himself off as one of you for a story and his untimely demise is entirely his own fault….”
Charles went on and by the end of his speech, you not only felt the park was in the right, but that this evil scheming reporter had brought it on himself. It worked on everyone who listened. Everyone but Danny. Suddenly the notebook in his pocket felt like it was burning. He rushed back to his room. Some security and others were at the next suite of the now deceased man. Danny slipped in his room as casually as he could, but his breathing and heart rate were beginning to spike. He flipped through the notes, searching frantically through phrases and lists of words but none of them made sense. He wished he had his cell phone or laptop to look up phrases and search who the reporter was, what he really looked like without his fat mustache disguise. Then on one page a phrase clanged in Danny’s brain so hard he could think of nothing else: The Supper Club Investor’s Ball. Something chilled him about that. From an intercom a voice chimed “Activate the eggs.” At once, a mist seemed to cloud his vision, he thought he could hear screaming downstairs. He rushed out his door and felt more clear headed. He went to Darlene and Gerald’s room but a housekeeper was stripping the bed. Danny demanded, “Where are they?” The sullen maid replied, “They check out this morning.” Danny wrinkled his brow. They said they were staying a week. He definitely remembered them saying that. The maid walked slowly towards him with a round object, some mist or smoke was emanating from it and Danny was getting sleepy. The maid had a surgical mask on. “Why don’t you return to your room?” she said before Danny’s eyes rolled to blackness.
The next thing Danny knew he was naked on the blades of a forklift on top of three other naked obese people snoring. Before they were dropped into a pit, Danny rolled to the side in the dark, hiding in the shadows of the floodlights. A voice said “Fuck, Derek, did you lose one? You tilted!”
“I didn’t tilt, Boone.”
Boone said, “Then why are there only three instead of four?”
Derek said, “Sure? I mean it’s hard to tell with how goddamned pudgy they are.”
Both stared into the pit and one of the lab coats came out of a door and asked them, “Is it done?”
Derek and Boone nodded. Derek began walking towards the lab coat saying, “That should be all of…”
A crack sounded and a spurt of blood erupted from Derek’s head. His legs buckled and he slid into the pit. The lab coat turned the pistol towards Boone. Boone quaked and said “Jesus Christ.” Labcoat shrugged, then another crack from the pistol. Boone went down a far distance from the lip of the pit. The lab coat muttered. “Goddammit.” He put the pistol down on the ground, then went to drag Boone’s body in with the other flesh heap. Danny, fearful and confused, had one functioning brain cell which screamed, “Get the gun you goddamned fool!”
After lab coat dragged Boone’s body into the pit, he brushed his hands off and turned around. Suddenly he was staring down the barrel of his own gun held shaking by a naked obese man. Instantly lab coat got his hands up. “Go easy, big fella. All’s good.”
Danny said, “The coat.”
Lab coat nodded, took it off, threw it to Danny. As he put it on, the fabric stretched and a seam popped. It didn’t do much to hide anything but Danny wanted a blanket before he went into shock. The instant the gun was off him, coatless began to run. Danny raised the pistol and fired. Coatless made a head gesture like a labrador going for a ball, and then crumpled into the pit. Danny spit and walked towards the door. Through the gap he could see footage filmed earlier in the day on a TV screen. A black and white coaster car of about 30 people had come to a halt. He saw Darlene and Gerald in the front row. They were stopped in front of a large glass window with lab coats on the other side. Gerald gave them a thumbs-up in the footage. One of them then pushed something on a panel and a massive what looks like box spring descended from the ceiling, with spinning razors and mesh netting. It descended onto the occupants of the coaster and sprays of blood and screams ensued which chillingly silenced in unison as the machine did its work. Then the contraption lifted dripping, leaving only a meat slurry which poured into containers by the side of the coaster.
Danny turned and vomited at the side of the door while a microphoned Charles Patterson said, “And that’s how we made the meatloaf you’re enjoying tonight, eh?” Applause. Danny wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Through the gap he saw Charles onstage gesturing towards the video footage now paused. “Because we can? That’s why? Because of boredom? Because it’s the last forbidden pleasure on this earth? All of you here have your own reasons but Supper Club Investors, you can agree I have raised the bar. This is a veritable orgy. And once we’ve had our fill, the entire place is wired to blow ands we have a rock solid alibi for all these deaths. That scumbag reporter; we have him framed for blowing up the park due to his conspiracy theories that we did all this to eat people with impunity. Now, who do you think the public is going to believe?” Uproarious laughter.
Danny knew he was right. It was unbelievable. Even if he made it out alive, the truth was more bizarre than their cover story. He couldn’t get them all. But goddammit, he was going to get at least one of them. And it was going to be Charles. Danny waited until Charles ended his speech, bowed and stood still soaking in his adulation with that fucking white toothed grin. Then, Danny raised his arm and squeezed the trigger….
by Aaron Willis
Eve woke to a sunny morning in the garden. Yesterday it rained and the plants, lush and quenched, swayed in the morning breeze carrying the scent of wet soil. Adam snored and turned over, kicking as he did and clipped Eve in the belly, knocking her breath out for a second. She looked him over. A hairy-faced, hairy backed lummox. He hadn’t bathed in the pool by the waterfall for sixteen moons and his stench was deafening. Eve went to gather breakfast and to breathe fresh air.In a broad leaf, Eve collected some of the purple berries she loved and a few figs and nuts. She enjoyed them in silence on the hillock overlooking the waterfall. But her peace didn’t last long. Adam stirred. “Eve! Where are you woman?” She chewed silently, didn’t answer, wanted to pretend she hadn’t heard so she could extend the serenity for a few more seconds. “Eve!” He bellowed and stomped through the ferns.She shrank into herself as she sat, dreading. Now he would be angry. He searched and his eyes fell on her, his brow furrowed. “Why didn’t you answer? Did you forget how to listen you stupid bitch?”Eve stammered, “ Saw a humming...”He stood over her with hands on hips. “You what? I can’t hear you. Now I’ve forgotten how to listen.”Eve swallowed, “I saw a hummingbird, I didn’t want to frighten it away. It was so lovely.” Adam sat next to her, took the leaf out of her hands and funneled the berries and nuts into his gullet with one motion. “Why don’t you get some more,” Adam suggested, and with a stern look in his eyes made it clear it was not just a suggestion. Eve flinched, rubbed a bruise on her left arm and stood. He threw the leaf at her chest with a slap. “Be quick about it. Don’t get distracted by hummingbirds. If I have to find you again, you won’t like it.”Eve strode away, eager to be away from his stare and stink. She tried to remember happier times with him. He did save her from that wild animal, and in his arms she felt safe. And it was frightening to think of being alone. Eve wished a wild sabre-toothed anything would stroll through on a daily basis so his anger would be aimed at it instead of her.“You belong to me,” he told her when they first met. “You were made for me. My cloud friend told me. He made everything. He took one of my bones and made you.”Eve replied, “Where is your friend? I’ve never seen him.”Adam stood over her thrusting his chest into her. “You think you could see him? You think you’re worthy? Did you hear what I said? You’re from my bone! You’re a piece of me. Why would he appear to you? You’re less than me, a chunk of bone! You don’t get to ask questions about my cloud friend. You don’t get to question me about anything. I don’t take questions from bits of skeleton.”Eve snapped back into the present. A tree stood in front of her, its branches far above her reach, or even Adam’s reach. Among the leaves, red ripe fruit hung tantalizingly, dewdrops gathered on the underside. Neither of them had ever had it, and she wondered about its flavor, the texture. He came stomping through, found her staring up.Adam placed his hands on his hips. “Those. Yeah, I saw those a few days ago. Can’t get to ’em.”Eve pointed at one on the lowermost branch. “Could you get that one? If you jumped? I think it might be bigger today, heavier. It should be lower and...”Adam readied himself. He ran a few paces, jumped and scraped wildly at the air below the fruit, landed on his knees. He circled back, leaped again, stretched his arms out, but missed. On his third try, he started at a sprint, leapt and crashed sideways into the trunk. He cried out and tumbled into the grass, a deep gash in his forehead. Adam put his hand up to the wound, stared at the blood. Eve hid a smile behind her hand but when he looked over, changed her eyes to that of shock.“Oh no! Are you ok?”Adam sulked and furrowed his brow into a scowl. “It’s nothing. I just remembered my cloud friend said we shouldn’t eat those anyway. Said they were forbidden and bad things will happen if we get them, so that’s why I got hurt for trying.”He shuffled off to wash his wound by the waterfall pool. Seemed he always brought up his invisible friend every time he had a shortcoming. Eve plotted. She loved to make crowns by weaving the grasses on the hillock. She figured if she weaved enough of them together they could make a long rope and she would be able to pull down the branch.For the next few days Eve wove several small wreaths, and linked them together. The chain got longer and longer. Adam still sulked about his wound all week and kept to himself on the rock face, striking sparks with some flint. She only saw him when he came to the flattened nook where they slept. Most nights he would crush her underneath and thrust away as if she were nothing more than a...piece of his own skeleton. That week, he didn’t try to insert himself. He came back smelling of the fermented grapes, turned away from her, elbowed her in the ribs, then fell to snoring. Eve counted his ribs while he slept. None appeared to be missing. She doubted the cloud friend existed.When the chain was long enough, she went to the tree and threw the loop up four times and missed. On the fifth try, she caught the branch and the chain held. Eve wrapped the slack around her wrist, pulled and reeled in a little at a time. The branch got lower and lower. She felt the chain loosening and ripping in places. Before it broke altogether, Eve managed to grab two of the red fruit off the branch, and tumbled onto her back in victory.She sat on the hillock and bit into the firm juicy flesh. It was delicious and tart. She thought of eating both apples, but she decided to give the other one to Adam with a twofold agenda: to do something nice so he wouldn’t be mad, and to show she did something he couldn’t; which would make him mad. Eve wanted to be daring. She was more clever. She gathered the food. She solved problems. She kept them going. All he did was kill an animal once. He made things ugly and fearful. He was mean and forceful. What if all other food was gone and the last thing left was the apples? They’d starve. If not for Eve.She strode up as he lay back throwing from a pile of stones into the pool below the waterfall. Eve gently placed the apple in his lap. Adam absently picked it up and took a bite, threw another stone. Eve waited for a reaction slow in coming. After another bite, he finally looked at it. “Where’d you find this? Have we had this before?”Eve sat and smiled proudly. “No, we haven’t had this before. It’s from that tree.”Adam bit again and mumbled, “What tree?”Eve leaned forward, staring insistently. “That tree.”A few chews and then his jaw stopped. “No you didn’t. It fell off and you picked it up off the ground.” His eyes searched her for deception. “You can’t jump higher than me.”Eve said, “I made a rope to pull the branch down.”Adam studied her gaze and she returned it, defiantly. He broke the stare and stood up grasping a large stone from the pile. Eve brushed off some dirt from her thighs, began a list of things to say she’d been rehearsing. “There are going to be changes. First, you don’t touch me unless I want it. And I never want to be hit, pinched, slapped, called names, or yelled at. Second...”Adam said, “Look, a hummingbird.”Eve spun her head and he brought the stone down on the back of her skull. Before she lost consciousness, she smelled copper and felt a an itchy stickiness slide into her eyebrow.Eve woke to smoke everywhere. She stood and coughed, braced her arm over her mouth. Staggering here and there, she wove past burning grass, trees and bushes. The apple tree was blazing brighter than all else and looked to have a pile of blackened logs and brush at its base.Out of the garden area and into a clearing she found Adam, arms crossed and scowling. Smoke stained and sweat streaked, he resembled an animal.“What happened?” She asked.Adam hissed, “You ruined it. You ruined everything. You weren’t supposed to eat from that tree, I told you. I burn....it burned down. My cloud friend was angry.”Eve blinked and surveyed the torrent of flames that used to be home. “You burned it?”“No, my cloud friend did it. Told me to. He did it. Because you couldn’t do as you’re told. Now we have to find a new home. Come on, you bitch.”Adam grabbed her by the arm, but Eve wrenched it away. Her beautiful spot on the hill above the waterfall: destroyed. The lovely plants, the figs and nuts. Gone. Gone because of this brute. Her eyes seethed with rage and her lip quivered ready to scream. She stood with fists balled. They stared, neither blinking while ashes floated by.Adam held out his arm, gestured away from the blaze. “You coming?”