Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

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.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

“Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…”

by David

Consensus molds reality. Why isn’t there a manifest God? No consensus! For every Baptist sure of Christ’s divinity, someone else fervently believes the opposite. Even two people who sit together in church don’t worship the same God. They may suppose they do, but ha! Six billion unique concepts cancel each other out. But you can game the system.

I decided to create the perfect partner for myself. I didn’t worry about official records. No one really cares about those. I made a Facebook page, Twitter account, LiveJournal, personal website, even a couple of T-shirt designs at Café Press. I invented a small business complete with everything except a product. (She’s a consultant; I left it vague.) Building a girlfriend from the bottom up, so to speak, kept me occupied. I posted elaborate descriptions of our dates. Natalie was so busy, I told my friends, that she didn’t have time to meet them in the flesh. She confirmed this in stressed-out posts on her blog.

Soon I was the biggest problem, because only I knew she wasn’t real! As time went by, more and more people added their increments of belief. Then my sister emailed.

“Invited Natalie for lunch,” Charlotte said, “it was so nice to finally meet her.” Um…what? I hadn’t even answered Charlotte’s invitation. That night my mother texted that she and Natalie were planning a joint shopping expedition. I stopped writing messages “from Natalie.” Didn’t matter. Everyone kept getting them, except me. I suspected a joke, even thought about ways to catch the perpetrators.

Then I realized I’d fallen into a trap. I couldn’t believe in a conspiracy. I had to believe all these messages were from the real Natalie. Only then could that become true. I took a few days off. I didn’t eat or sleep. I posted reminder notes from Natalie all over the apartment. I dug out unused Christmas cards, addressed them to Natalie and myself, and put them all over. I constantly repeated things like “don’t forget Natalie wants low-fat milk.” Pretty soon I was so hungry and so short on sleep that the distinction between reality and myth almost completely disappeared.

I woke up on the living room floor, dizzy with hunger. The TV mumbled. I smelled pizza.

“Dinner’s here,” Natalie called. “Hurry up, I have to be at the airport in an hour.”

“Coming!” I struggled to my feet. Better wash my face for our first date.

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