Plugs

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

On the Way to Elsewhere

by Rudi Dornemann

Some evenings, when Martha went out walking along the gravel roads between the fields, she felt a ghost city growing solid in the cool air. As the fog gathered in the drainage ditches and creek beds, buildings massed in her peripheral vision, terraced, balconied and impossible.

Some nights, rain came down and swept the city from the night. Others, she walked and walked. Her calves grew sore while the buildings grew more present. After weeks her legs grew stronger, but the city remained a pressure at the edge of her vision.

As winter gave way to softer ground, heavy machinery leveled the fields behind plywood signs with the names of stores and franchise restaurants. Martha tried the new roads in every direction, slipped through the gates to trudge the churned earth. She walked on until it was too dark to see anything; the city’s inhabitants walked beside her, and she wouldn’t have known.

When the concrete and asphalt covered the fields, then sprouted a forest of upright girders, she saw the city less often, but more vividly. Once, she found herself in a market crowd between rows of booths hung with bright, unfamiliar objects — but only for the time it took her to gasp in a shocked breath, and then it was only a row of dumpsters along the store-backs. Another time, she thought she saw a hand, beckoning her around a corner and she sprinted to find a food court full of plastic picnic tables.

After the stores opened, after the restaurants filled the air with smells of frying and bulk spices, she kept walking, even though she didn’t see — didn’t sense — anything for weeks.

Then, one fall evening, when it seemed she’d never walked for anything but the exercise, she went into an office supply store and pretended to look at multi-tabbed planners until she warmed up.

As she left, a clerk ran to her. “You forgot this,” he said, “Left it on the glass.”

He pointed to the copiers in a corner of the store.

It was a sheet of 11×17 paper, warm with machine-light, covered with streets and parks and buildings whose terraces she could see as if she remembered them. A map, clearly labeled in her own handwriting.

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