Plugs

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

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.

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

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Guardian Angel

by Jonathan Wood

Author’s warning: Some curse words are used in this piece.

People call it “hunger,” but that’s not it.  You can live with hunger.  Actors, models—they go hungry for years.  They’re miserable, but they do it.

Need.  That’s the  word.  Addiction.

*

Tom’s felt sick for two months now.  Keeps getting worse.  Doctors have a word for it.  Something like enema, but without a hosepipe up your ass.  Something with his blood.  But the doctors don’t know why it’s happening.  Stupid goddamn doctors.  Take his co-pay and tell him jack and shit.

*

I don’t believe in evil.  Not some malevolent force moving through the world.  Selfishness.  The inability to see another’s point of view.  To see the consequences of your actions to anyone but yourself.  That I believe in.  Tom is selfish.

Killed a man once.  Didn’t like the color of his skin, the creed of his politics.  It didn’t take much for Tom to pull the trigger.

In many ways, things would be easier if I just killed Tom.

*

Tom never liked New York city.  Full of hippies in business suits.  Just wrong.  But the big doctors are there so he goes, and they take his money, and tell him even less than the goddamn quacks at home.  And that’s before the subway gets him turned around and the three skinheads roll him for his wallet in the alleyway.

Time was he could have taken the knife from the kid and jammed it six inches into his eye.  Now he can barely get the wallet out.  The kids get impatient, get mean, give him a taste of the blade, open his cheek.

And then… what?  A man?  A blur?  A shadow?  Just the smack of flesh on flesh and the crack of breaking bones.  And then the three skinheads are on the floor and they aren’t moving.  And a man.  Yes, a man.  In front of him.  The man reaches out, touches the wound on Tom’s cheek, wipes the blood away.  And then he’s gone.

*

I watch Tom leave before I lick the crimson drop from my finger.  It’s like a grenade behind the eyes.  The world fracturing.  Ecstasies and infinity.  Addiction.  Need.  And then, over.  So quickly, over.  The world back to black and white.

And, yes, it would be easier to just kill Tom.  But I need him.  Am addicted to him.  And so I’ll keep him alive for just a little longer.

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