He was telling her all about it.

“So I was all like, what, you want me to show you the fire? You want to see the fire? ‘Cause I can bring the fire if I got to!”

“What? What do you mean, ‘fire’?”

“And he was all like ‘You ain’t got no fire,’ and I was like ‘Don’t make me show you the fire, ’cause I will fry your head with that shit,’ and he was like ‘Fire, my ass, you just better give me that money,’ so I had to burn him.”

“Burn him with what?”

“With my fire! You know, my fire.”

“From where?”

“From my mouth! Shit, didn’t you hear what I said? And he just started running back to his spaceship with his head on fire!”

“Back up, back up. What space ship?”

“You got to have heard that space ship when it landed on Eighty-Fourth street basketball court.”

“I didn’t hear no spaceship on no basketball court. What’s all this bullshit about breathing fire out of your mouth and space ships?”

“But you know what happened then? You would never guess. He had a unicorn! On the space ship! And it just charged me.”

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about anymore. What kinda junk you been smoking this time?”

“No, no lie! Unicorn! Spaceship! And I tried to breathe fire on it, and you know what? They fireproof. No lie, those unicorns, they fireproof.”

“Yeah, well, whatever.”

“Hey, don’t walk away while I’m talking! I ain’t even got to the good part yet! You know what that unicorn did to me?”

“I hope he killed your ass, because otherwise I’d have to be listening to you talk bullshit just about right now.”

“He stabbed me! In the chest! With his damn horn!”

“Which is why you’re still alive like that?”

“No, then he like, injected me with a space drug that makes you their slave, you see what I’m saying? And now I’m like, their slave.”

“So why don’t you go do their laundry ‘stead of bothering me?”

“No no, ’cause you know what I got to do?”


“You really want to know?”

“Just tell me what you got to do.”

Then he breathed fire on her, and she ran away in flames. Good thing she was secretly a robot, or that shit would have hurt.

Yuk hated Yak and knew Yak would ask for the salt-and-peppershakers that would raise their blood pressure. At a closeout sale following the big quake, Yuk bought the most hideous shakers he could find to curb Yak’s appetite. It didn’t work. “Pass the matching pair of joined-at-the-hip salt-and-peppershakers that look like a couple of nasty beasts going at it, if you please,” Yak asked in a tone that suggested he would as soon stab Yuk in the back as accept the nifty shakers. Yuk laughed to himself, good thing I laced the shakers with rat poison; that’ll learn the dirty rat.

Yak accepted the damnable salt-and-peppershakers with a smile on his face and a dagger in their heart. Yuk had probably poisoned them. Yak pointed at the window. “Look, in the sky! Is that a bird or a plane?” When Yuk turned his head, Yak sprinkled Yuk’s Tostitos with poison. We’ll see just how funny poisoned salt-and-peppershakers really are, Yak thought.

The chair groaned as they wobbled back and forth.

We’re changing things up a bit this week, giving you updates on cabalists you haven’t seen here in a while mixed with some microfiction pieces that are even more micro than our usual fiction. Click here and here to read past days’ updates, here for yesterday’s story, or just click “previous story” further down this page.

Where are they now: Angela Slatter

Angela is a force to be reckoned with, with one book of short stories, Sourdough and Other Stories, just out and another, The Girl with No Hands and Other Stories, coming soon. In addition to the usual sorts of posts, her blog is also home to an ongoing series of short interviews, and you can find her guest-blogging occasionally over at Jeff VanderMeer’s Ecstatic Days.

You’ll find a listing of her short writing (fiction and more) here.

It’s been hard on my relationships. We kiss at the door, and his hands move down my sides, cup the back of my head, his hips fit against mine and I have to push him back, and tell him “I’m sorry. I really can’t.” And then I go upstairs, all by myself, the way I do every night.

Every night, I set a half-full glass of water on my bedstand. I turn the covers down, and smooth the sheets. I brush my hair out, and when I lay back against the pillow, I have to tell you I think about the picture it makes. Do the dead think I look like Sleeping Beauty, with my curls spread around my face, tumbling over the duvet, spilling across my pillowcase?

My pillowcase is cool against the back of my neck, and I close my eyes. Do the dead think about anything? I have to think they do, or else why would they demand this of me, the ritual every night, the darkened room and my hand, palm up, laid across the bed. My fingers relaxed, not trembling at all at the thought of cold hands touching me. Or maybe they are dumb creatures of habit, maybe they run along the rails I lay down for them.

I lay down for them every night, spread my hair across the pillow, and close my eyes in the dark room. I never try to look. I try not to think about what might be brushing against the curtains, rifling through my dresser drawers, standing over me and watching me with dead eyes. I hold my hand steadily and still, and I breathe evenly, slowly.

Slowly the pressure fills up the room and then my fingers curl around what they have left for me. They have given me a button, a length of twine, a bobby pin. A child’s impossibly tiny sock, a curl of hair tied with a ribbon, a piece of quartz, the delicate, paper-thin gear from the guts of a pocket watch.

Watch me line these pieces up along my dresser in the morning, rearranging them. I don’t know what they mean. I don’t know why they are, but they are, and I do. Every night, every morning. These tiny things fill up my life; these ghosts fill up my room, my head. The cupped palm of my hand.

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