By Dave Stewart
When he woke up he found his hands tied behind his back, His feet bound tightly to the chair legs and the woman standing over him. She looked angry and was holding two notepads and a biro.
“Here’s how this is going to work,” she said. “I’ve written the word “bad” on one of these notepads and “good” on the other. I’m going to untie your hands and give you the bad pad and a biro. Then you’re going to write down everything that’s bad for you. Food, drink, exercises everything. Then write everything that’s good for you in the other pad.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Start with Eggs! Fucking eggs! Are they good or bad? I’m sick of you changing your mind all the time. Are eggs good for me or not?”
“I don’t know. I’m not a dietitian. I’m a physicist”
“You’re a scientist! You do science! The papers always say “Scientists say eggs are bad for you” and then they say “Scientists say eggs are good for you” Make up your fucking mind!”
“But scientists never say that. One branch of science releases a comprehensive study about one aspect of something and reaches a series of conclusions. The media then over simplify it and either turn it into an alarmist report or a feel-good one. That’s what they do.”
She broke down and started sobbing. “They’re either good or bad. I need to know.”
“Nothing is that simple. Cigarettes are a relaxant and expectorant. They’re excellent for stress relief it just happens they’re also fatal in large doses. They’re definitely bad but they’re also kind of good.”
“I need it to be simple. Like bananas. Bananas are good, that’s simple.”
“Why are banana’s good for you?”
She looked at him as if he was an idiot. “They’re a good source of potassium. Everyone knows that.”
“And what’s so great about potassium?”
“Well… it’s potassium… it’s good.”
“If you’ve got a kidney disease potassium can be fatal.”
“So… bananas are bad?” She howled a cry of anguish that echoed around the basement.
“No bananas are just bananas. Nature didn’t make them good or bad it just made them.”
“Four things!” She shouted suddenly. “Tell me four things that are definitely absolutely positively good for me! Just four things!”
He thought for a second. “Research, Avoiding oversimplification, understanding how the mainstream media works and releasing kidnapped physicists.”
By Jason Geary
Travis had the whole pirate thing down. Scrappy clothes that worked as an ensemble but not individually. Though his look was honed it was by no means pretentious. He had a charm that pushed such thoughts from your mind. You just wanted to be close to him. I laughed at him when he said he was from Neverland, he seemed taken aback.
The music in the club was relentless. Deep drum and bass made to match the heartbeat of the tripping people in the room. Travis looked me in the eye, leaned in and yelled in my ear. I could barely make out what he was saying over the music. I think he wanted some sort of affirmation. I nodded. Though I was unsure of what I’d just agreed to it seemed to please him. I flashed him the cash in my hand to prove I was ready. Travis reached inside his jacket and pulled out a glowing vial. He palmed it quickly. We shook hands and magically the exchange was complete. I looked at my fist and it was glowing. He leaned in and yelled something else in my ear again I just nodded. Then he walked away.
In a dark corner of the club I opened my hand to look at the junk.. There she was trapped, glowing and angrily swearing while beating on the lid.
A Faerie. Half a week’s wages.
I tingled with anticipation, as I opened the lid carefully. The air around me was filled with the sound of chimes. Gold dust burst out of the vial and illuminated the darkness I was trying to hide in. A few heads turned but nobody said a thing. They were used to seeing this kind of thing here.
I let the faerie attempt to escape then pinched her between my fingers. She was fierce, swearing at me in some language I could never understand. My mouth was watering. Her screams grew louder as I drew her to my face, only to be silenced when I put her in my mouth. I bit down and felt my mouth go instantly numb. She was bitter, others I’d had were sweet, maybe this time the ride would be different. I could feel her dripping down my throat. My eyes rolled back and I slumped down where I stood. I swallowed as I hit the ground then opened my mouth. In the mirrored wall opposite me I saw my mouth glowing with the remains of the faerie. All gold and beautiful.
“Wow” I said to myself as I felt my body dissolve; “That’s what I look like on the inside.”
By Tim Redmond
“Well if that’s the safety demonstration, we’re all fucked!”
Sam laughed and squeezed Locky’s arm. It’s the last leg of their three flight torture from JFK to LAX to Texas; twenty three hours of tedium and hell and now the final push to Austin to see Neil Young up close and live. Locky had scored the tickets of Craig’s List. One night only, two hundred seater.
“We’re already in The States,” Locky had crooned over a burger on the Upper West Side, Let’s do this!” It calmed her to see him lit up like that, a puppy with a steak, so she agreed.
But his mood had swung darkly in LA. He, of course, was a bundle of ticks and shuffling as they went through security and he, of course, had been pulled aside and observed in a perspex cube by three separate grey shirted guards. Then, as sudden as his selection, he was let out to her, hovering nearby.
“Have a nice day sir”
“Go fucking fuck yourself.” Under his breath, then three hours of glaring at the blue carpet of gate lounge six. Grunts and a wave of a hand to her attempts to cheer him.
She wanted to cry.
But now, as she watched him watching the flight attendant walk back to his seat after jiggling the oxygen mask in front of them like a fish to be thrown back, she squeezed his arm and was glad.
“He looks like Rutger Hauer,” Locky beamed.
She didn’t know who that was, but giggled anyway.
By David Stewart
Kill you? Oh I have no intention of killing you. I rather thought it would be more fun if we played a game. A game with the highest stakes you’ve ever played for in your life!
Before you I have placed five vials of liquid. Five glass containers bearing different beverages, each one unique in its purpose. In a moment you will consume the contents of the vial of your choosing and in so doing decide your own fate!
In one vial I have placed a deadly and painful poison. Drink it and within seconds you will suffer agony so profound that when death arrives it will come as a blessed relief. Another vial contains a powerful narcotic of my own devising. It brings about unbridled joy and euphoria with no harmful side effects except a slight blurring of the vision and an unfortunate but temporary discolouration of the urine. A third vial contains a drug that induces madness and dementia. Fifteen minutes after it’s consumed the unfortunate drinker becomes a raving lunatic prone to visions and the most implausible of fantasies. While the final vial contains a harmless but pleasant tasting liquid. It’s sort of lemony, I had some earlier and found it very refreshing.
What do you mean that’s only four? Poison, drug, madness and lemony… bugger that is only four. And I’ve got five vials. Crap. Hang on I’ve written it down…
Sorry about this I’ve had a lot on lately what with the world domination plans and building this huge base and hiring the staff, I’ve been run off my- Ah here we are, I knew I had it written down… Oh according to this it’s not euphoria its euphonium. That can’t be right. I can’t have invented a liquid that turns you into a euphonium. …And the poison needs work it says here. …And apparently it’s actually the madness inducing drug that has a lemony taste. But it still doesn’t say what the fifth liquid is… wait a minute- I drank the lemony tasting one 15 minutes ago. That means… oooh the fifth vial is turning into my mum! Hello mum, I’ve been become a criminal mastermind! Hooray for me! Oooh pretty vials lets play hide and seek with them. Count to 20 vials! No not twenty- Fifty. No wait count to Zimbabwe. I’m going to hide behind my own legs!
By Jason Geary
I am not a religious man. Ask anyone. I’ve cursed the lord and taken his name in vain so many times that, if there is a hell, I’ve practically paved the road to it. That’s just the tip of it. I’ve cheated, robbed, killed and scammed my way, somewhat inexplicably, into the hearts of those who love me. So when it comes to being thankful and paying homage to some higher power, I got nothing. About the only thing I am thankful for is that those who love me don’t know the half of it.
I am a cultured man. Ask anyone. I enjoy the finer things. I appreciate art, fashion, architecture, and food. I actively seek culture wherever I am.
I am not easily moved. Ask anyone. I take no pride in my inability to empathise, though it is something I have come to terms with. So imagine my dismay as I find myself feeling humbled sitting here in the Hall of Worship at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
I rest in awe.
From the outside it’s an unremarkable four-story dull brown hexagon constructed with tens of thousands of stained glass fragments laid from ground to ceiling within a concrete honeycomb. What I discover inside are towering walls of the deepest midnight blue giving way to subtlest bursts of ruby red, emerald green and golden yellow. The daylight is filtered so densely that it fails to penetrate to the centre of the room giving the impression of a deep abyss above the hall.
Hanging over the humble altar is a 20 foot golden Jesus. I know, it sounds garish. It isn’t. I’ve never seen anything so perfect in my life. This isn’t a Jesus that begs for sympathy, who pulls at your heartstrings, this is the King of Kings. A leader of men. Unapologetic.
I don’t like to sit. Ask anyone. I am no good at the movies or a restaurant; I am more annoying to others than myself. Though the result is always the same. It is I that must move. Not here.
Here I sit for hours.
A hand on my shoulder interrupts my solace. Closing time. I am kindly ushered out into the fading light of a chill Berlin evening.
I am an articulate man. Ask anyone. So it is with a great loss of dignity that I admit to you, I cannot explain how it is that I know am changed – I just know that I am.
By Tim Redmond
By David Stewart
By Andy Zito
I do it to relax.
I do it to release tension.
I do it when I’m bored, and can’t think of anything to do.
I do it when no one is home, and I can be louder than I usually am.
I can’t stop thinking about it.
I think about it all day.
Then I get things going and it soothes my busy mind.
A few minutes some days, maybe hours.
If I get interrupted, I can usually pick up where I left off.
Every now again I do it in my car. Actually, lots.
Sometimes it’s embarrassing when you’re getting into it and you notice the person in the rear view mirror is laughing at you.
That doesn’t always make me stop, though.
I think even if I did go blind, I guess I could still do it, so that’d be OK.
I’d do it now, but I don’t want to wake everyone up.
That doesn’t seem to stop my neighbours who do it every single weekend.
What do you mean?
Oh, I guess you could read it like that.
No, I’m leaving it.
By Jason Geary
It is called a Y incision. You insert the scalpel at the top of the collar-bone and draw it with an even curve to the exact same position on the opposite collar-bone. Simple.
As his skin parts the deep cut seeps small beads of blood like a ruby necklace. He murmurs but the drugs have rendered him mute. He is unable to move any muscle, much less scream. His eyes tell me he’s feeling it. Good.
The procedure continues as I insert the scalpel at the lowest point of the previous incision. I press the tip in firmly and draw a line from neck to pelvis, splitting his skin down the middle. It is not as horrid as you think. No innards come spilling to the floor, only blood, more beading blood.
Now I have the perfect beginning. The Y incision. From this point skinning is a progression of careful long swipes severing meat from bone.
I lift a corner of skin made by the intersection of incisions and begin to separate. I notice his eyes roll back into his head. He’s gone now. Good for him, it is only going to get worse.
By Amy Price
She totters alongside her Dad, sandals clacking on the supermarket floor as her summer dress flops around her chubby legs. Kindergarten was fun today. She didn’t wear an apron at painting time and dropped her paintbrush on her lap. As long as she holds Mr Cuddly (her most important teddy bear) over it, hopefully Dad won’t see.
Snack time was fruit kebabs, again. Why can’t they have lamingtons like last week… or was that the week before? She spies the happy faces of Freddos beaming back at her from the bottom shelf. Box upon colourful box of tantalising shiny wrappers stretch into the distance. She looks up. Dad is squinting at the categorised shopping list from Mum, softly naming words as they’re checked off…. ”Grapes… jonathans… cordial… check if ham is still on special.”
The moment she’s waiting for. She squats down and grabs the strawberry Freddo, concealing it in her small baby hands. Clutching it tightly she feels it soften in her grasp. Dad turns to peruse the cereal boxes. She reaches over the shopping cart and drops her loot into the bag of bananas. Success.
By Jason Geary
It crawled across my face slow like the final steps of an obese man topping an incline. I savour this moment.
Why not? I’ve earned it.
Five long years of deft planning and subtle execution has come to fruition. My destruction of world economies is complete. The playing field is level again.
The last domino, fallen.
The studio floor manager is counting me in, from ten to one. He points to me and the red light of the camera illuminates. My smirk is full as I raise a single brow and look down the lens. I speak after a few seconds of perfectly weighted silence.
“People of the great nations of Earth. My name is Dr. Domino. Today is a new beginning for us all. Your currencies, share markets, gold and oil reserves and armies are worthless. I’ve brought it all to a grinding halt. Dear people of Earth we can start over now… All nations equal… ”
By David Stewart
By Tim Redmond
By David Stewart
“Hello, excuse me, Man. Hello Man.” He came up to me on the street. He was a funny looking guy. Really pale and sort of greenish. His eyes kept changing colour. His fingers were webbed I couldn’t help but notice. “Excuse me Man. I was wondering if you could explain an aspect of the primitive culture you have on this plane – I mean on this – in this town. The primitive culture you have in this town.” he looked pleased with himself.
“Well I’ll do my best,” I said.
“Stamps. Can you explain to me stamps.”
“Yes. This is correct. Post-age stamps. Please explain them.”
“Well they’re just little bits of paper. Sticky paper. And they’ve got a picture on them. And you put them on envelopes to send letters to people.”
“And then they can be used again?”
“No. They only get used once.”
He scratched his head in confusion which moved his entire haircut. “So tell me please why some stamps are exchanged for thousands of your earth dollars?”
“Well it’s because they’re rare.”
“Have they become imbued with healing qualities?”
“Do they contain the spirits of your dead ancestors and must be maintained in order to preserve a link with the afterlife?”
He made a weird sound that I took to indicate frustration. “So you tell me that the only reason the stamps became valuable is because there are few of them?”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
“Even though they are no longer used for the original purpose?”
“Yeah. It’s kind of odd when you think about it.”
“Odd? Yes this is the earth-word I’m searching for. It is odd that a tiny piece of paper originally sold for a tiny sum can become very valuable merely because all the other similar pieces of paper are no longer accessible. This is odd. I struggle to understand your race.”
“Yeah. If it’s any consolation we don’t really understand ourselves. So where is it you’re -”
“Can you tell me anything about the long-range ballistic defense capabilities of your planet and any early warning systems you may have in place for the detection of invasion forces arriving from other galaxies?”
“Oooh…. no not really I’m afraid. I’m in retail so I tend to be better with marketing analysis to be honest. Intergalactic defense isn’t really my area.”
“No matter. Thankyou earthman. You have been most helpful.”
By Firdi Billimoria
Boredom had its way of engulfing me without prior notice, not even so much as a courtesy call a few minutes before it arrives. I would often just find myself being unwittingly carried through an estuary of tedium before being thrashed into the wide open ocean of no purpose. When this very current began to drag me along last Sunday, I decided that the best way to fight the flow was to stare down my neighbour’s cat.
Hours passed before I spotted the filthy feline traipsing through the shrubbery of my unkempt yard, looking for some serenity to disturb. I attempted to entice it to my door with a leaking fountain pen. This proved to be fruitless, so I tried milk. Success!
The creature lapped up the miniscule amount of milk I could amass from my wife’s breast and looked up at me with a yearning for further charity. The bait had been laid, and the moment had arrived for me to engage the animal in eye-to-eye combat.
As soon as our eyes locked, it was as though the entire planet had frozen and all of creation was rendered useless except for me, four square inches of air, and Mr Binkles. Our pupils remained rigid and determined as I began to feel the tension vigorously test my optic nerves. As the moments progressed, the air between us began to shudder as if it were a small child caught in the middle of a shoot-out. Neither I, nor the cat wanted to concede victory in this inane battle for supremacy as our once wide-eyed gazes had progressed into a retina-burning Mexican standoff of monotonous proportions.
About 20 minutes into the episode a strange thing happened. I began to feel my consciousness escape through my eyes, and sashay along that four inches of air and then into the eyes of Mr Binkles. The staring stopped. I licked myself and scampered to the edge of the yard, and leaped onto the top of the fence in one bound. From that summit I looked back and could see a full-grown human attempting to comprehend the existence an opposable thumb and being upright. I sniggered to myself and dismounted the fence. As I wandered through the neighbourhood, all I could think of was how reliable my feet were. I spent the rest of my days with an irrational fear of water.
By David Stewart
“Right everyone we’ll make a start. It’s part of our new School Action Plan to start all staff meetings on time and so we’ll begin and latecomers will just have to read the minutes. First item on the agenda is Tim Simpkins the new boy who started this week in Mrs Wattle’s grade 2/3 composite class. Now I know there are those of you who believe that Tim is too old for the class he’s been placed in but I would like to remind you that he does suffer from a physical disability which makes him look older than he is. And yes I’ve checked his condition does cause the child to grow to a larger than conventional size so the fact that he’s nearly six foot is not- …look Roger I’ve told you before Tim Simpkins is not a full grown man. He’s a child with a disability- …I’m sure because I asked him if he was really a man and he cried. I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy making young boys cry, even if they are larger than me. No I don’t want to see the newspaper I’m much more interested in moving on to the next item on the agenda. We’ve got a busy schedule…. Yes, you’re right that does look like him. In fact that’s Tim Simpkins without a doubt. What on earth is he doing in The Age? “New Minister for Education promises to see schools first hand.” Are you suggesting the Minister for Education has enrolled his disabled son at our school to- …no. No! No that can’t be right! Although it would explain why he asked to see our curriculum documentation, I remember thinking that was an odd request for an 8 year old. Are you seriously suggesting that we’ve had the Federal Minister for Education masquerading as a small child in Mrs Wattle’s class? Alright I promise to look into this matter first thing tomorrow morning. I’ll make it my top priority. We’ll move onto item two- apparently there’s a student in the junior classes who is parking his lexus in the staff car park. I’ll deal with that tomorrow as well. Item three- apparently we’re going to have a very important visitor next week- a councillor from the local mayor’s office. …for some reason I’m less excited by that now than I was this morning.”
By Brent Caldwell
Collingwood around Safeway’s such a melting pot, bad buskers, bus stop tirades and sausage sizzles outside the TAB. I like it but occasionally there’s real poetry.
A few weeks ago I saw this drunk with blood on his head stagger away from a car groaning & bent over like he’d had his leg run over then another drunk staggers over, kicks him in the head, blood spraying and he looks like he’s ready to deliver the coup de gras. Passersby are dumbfounded. One guy yells at him and he staggers off. I cross the road to check out the guy on the ground. Someone must’ve called because an ambo quickly rolled up.
In the checkout today, the guy behind me said goodbye to his 40ish friend who went out the entrance. Then he asked me whether he could queue jump me – he only had one of those cling-wrap cakes with loads of plastic cream. The checkout girl scanned his cake and he said as he gave her $10 that he also wanted cigarettes. She asked whether she could check his bag and found a 6-pack. He said he’d just paid for that. He was stringy, also maybe 40.
Then she asked if she could check the other pocket, he unzipped and she pulled out a hot chicken. I was annoyed I’d let him in front but caution ruled. She asked him to produce a receipt but he assured her he’d bought it an hour ago. By this time a security guard was standing by who asked him whether he still wanted to pay for the chicken. He suggested the guard could maybe give it to him for half price. He must have figured he had a better chance with the guard than the girl. The guard smiled. Then the guy asked for his cigarettes so the girl asked him what brand and he said Double Happiness. The guard went and asked the other guard approaching whether they had any Double Happiness and he said no. By this time, the guy left with his bag and his beer, minus the chicken and his change. An expensive plastic cake for $10. I opened my bag for the girl so she checked it out and told me to have a nice weekend. I liked that.
By Tim Redmond
By Jason Geary
It was surprisingly effortless. I saw him coming, he telegraphed his movement with a slight rock backward before he punched. So I focused on his temple and threw out my fist. Hard.
Now James Grossman lies in a puddle of his own drool on the courtyard floor. My girlfriend is yelling at me. I can’t hear what because my pulse is beating loud in my ears.
A crowd is gathering. Word has spread like summertime wild fire, “Simon Mustowe just knocked out James Grossman.” Hell, I’m hearing it for the first time too.
It sounds impossible. The body slumped at my feet proves otherwise.
I look up and people are looking at me, not past me as usual. They are looking at me as if I am some sort of hero, a mythic underdog who has slain a giant. I allow myself a slight smile at the thought of this victory.
Suddenly I’m grabbed by the shirt scruff, lifted to my toes and dragged from the scene. I hear the voice of my captor Principle Tull, “He had it coming. Surprised it was you that dropped him. I never thought you had the balls. Still, that’s two weeks expulsion Mustowe, effective immediately”