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.

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.

Archive for the ‘Hollow Men’ Category

Eyes We Dare Not Meet

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

This is the second in the four-part Hollow Men series. Although this could be appreciated alone, three others have appeared (now revised):  part I, part III and part IV.

We could not buy the hollow men ascendant over us the aware, yet clearly we had a blind spot to scrub. We sawed drinking straws to different lengths, and I drew, reluctantly, the short one.  We hypnotized me into a deep and dreamless sleep.  They heaved me off the cliff.

I did not wake until sometime after I hit. Chills crawled through me–an icy wind that strips heat from your body, yet the air had not stirred.  I tilted my head back enough to spy a bleak beacon on a distant hill casting a pair of black beams across the drought-scarred countryside.

I closed my eyes, willing myself back on warm, grassy slopes, soaking in sunlight and considering existence.  My eyelids flicked open.  Far from the familiar, I had already learned more by leaving.

I dusted myself off and removed shards of clay from my back. Amid the scattered straw and pilled cotton stuffing, the shadowed ground was covered with the baked crockery, crunching under my every step.  How many of these former men had I trod upon?  Each footfall made my skin feel like the disinclined shifting of continents colliding and tearing apart.  A strange dream or notion popped into my head:  Assemble these broken crockery into one giant man, healing and annealing the pieces–imagine what one could do.  The dream wilted as I pondered its improbability.

The air was dank and full of mildew digging roots into my clay shell.  Under the grassy spire, shapes flitted among the darker shadows; tiny claws scratched glass.  An iridescently reflective yet empty pair of eyes stopped to gaze at me, sniffed the air, then moved on.  The beacon’s bone-cold beams swept through me again and passed on.

A dead man–cracked but not broken–stared sightlessly into the abyss of night sky, clutching a scrap of paper torn from a missing notebook.  I fingered my own fissures and winced in sympathy.  I bent, pried loose the scrap and read, “I’m dreaming.  I dare not meet those eyes.”

Was I dreaming?  Were there eyes I dared not meet?  I glanced at the bleak beacon on the horizon, lying dead ahead in a fourth direction–a heretofore unseen cardinal point.  I cast a longing look at the beckoning grassy spire, then turned in search of eyes.

The Hollow Men

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

This is the first in a series inspired by science, sound, T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” and armchair philosophers.

All the hollow men were walking, walking up the gently sloping grassy spire.  We followed them, the hollow men, climbing, climbing higher up the wildflower slopes.  We elbowed one another and winked.  They knew but one of three cardinal points and saw not the purple poppy and watery-blue cornflower, knee-high grasses stirring in the breeze.  We observed, we knew, we were aware.

At the top the spire ended in a cliff, and there the hollow men would topple, legs scissoring the air as if they still moved up.  They hit with a crescendo of resonant clangs like bells struck at a dark lord’s portentous wedding.  We stopped, patting ourselves on the back for averting the danger.  But then, weeks or months passed, the same men returned, pointlessly climbing, climbing.  Again they fell and hit with the clangs of a clock striking midnight.

Half of us–the bravest and the strong–volunteered to follow, for we the aware should learn more in the fall than these fools.  The strong and the brave landed with a shower, a heavenly choir of tiny bells.

A year later one volunteer returned–perhaps the least insightful of the lot we sent forth–his form mangled almost beyond recognition.  The others, he said, shattered while he alone remained.  We, he suggested, were also hollow, just of different stuffing and stuff.

This we could not swallow:  We were the aware, we the observant, we the knowing.

This is the first in the four-part Hollow Men series. Although this could be appreciated alone, three others have appeared (now revised): part II, part III and part IV.

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