Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

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).

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.

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

Mr. Smith Makes A Complaint

by David

“I want to make a complaint.”

The being behind the counter, white robed, wing├ęd, and possessed of an unearthly beauty, looked puzzled. It cleared its throat. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten one of those.”

I rolled my eyes. “You must be new here.” Very new, I silently added.

The celestial being looked around, perhaps hoping to find someone else to deal with me, but no one was there. “May I help you?” it asked. “Mr….?”

“Smith. I think entropy has come to the afterlife.”

“Entropy? But that implies progressive, irreversible degradation. It’s just not possible here, what with this place existing outside of time and all.” It smiled reassuringly. Immaculate wings fluttered and a couple of disarranged feathers settled back into place.

I scratched my head. “That’s what I thought. I’ve been here a while (not sure exactly how long) and at first stasis seemed to prevail.”

“Go on,” it encouraged.

I had been standing in line at the celestial cafeteria, trying to decide between heavenly ham and a simple fried egg, when I suddenly wondered why there was a line at all. I mean, every other time I went to eat, I encountered only those people I wanted to meet, and we never had to wait. But this morning, the line had stretched from the heavenly serving area, through a lobby of unparalleled symmetry, and out doors of surpassing loveliness into a meadow of unmatched beauty. A murmur had arisen, and as I craned my neck to see what was going on up ahead, I saw many others doing the same. In the end, I had to settle for cold pizza, which makes an excellent breakfast, but wasn’t what I wanted.

I later heard that no one had shown up to serve, which was why only leftovers were available. Not the level of competence I had come to expect, frankly. Which was why I decided to register a complaint.

After I finished the story the attendant did not respond. I waved my hand in front of its face, cleared my throat loudly several times. Nothing. Finally, I reached forward and lightly tapped it on the shoulder. It toppled over backward and plummeted through the cloud like a brick through rice pudding.


I jumped back, tripped, and almost fell myself. Maybe all this time I’d been wrong about where I’d ended up. Maybe today’s events were the next step in an extraordinarily subtle form of torment. Wherever this was, I needed to get out.

The end

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