Tag Archives: fiction

BHA’s free-to-enter Pig Latin Flash/Poetry Contest

So a lot of you seem intrigued by the contest, judging by the traffic on the Pig Latin contest page. But not enough writers are submitting.

It could be that you’re all a bunch of procrastinatin’ scribblers, or it could be you feel that $20 dollars (the prize for the winning entry) doesn’t go a long way in today’s economy. If the latter is the case, then allow me to point out a few things you could purchase with this kind of money. They include, but are not limited to:

a vending machine smorgasbord, 5 happy meals, a slightly broken television, a night in a hostel, and this

 

* If you are keen on any of these exciting possibilities, here’s a refresher on the rules:

Write a humorous poem or flash fiction in Pig Latin. Try not to exceed 250 words (we will consider anything under 500 words, though). Submission deadline is on Sunday, August 31st.

Contest is free to enter.

Here’s a handy how-to-write Pig Latin guide in case anyone needs a refresher.

Best poem/flash will be published on Back Hair Advocate.

We’ll also send the winner a crisp $20 dollar bill in the mail.

Send entries to backhairadvocate@outlook.com.

Have fun.

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Interview with Darlene Campos, BHA Contributor

* Well, here’s something new. Back Hair Advocate is getting into the business of interviews. In our first one, we chatted with Darlene Campos, author of “The Operation,” which we posted to our site yesterday. Read it here.

 

1. (THE SERIOUS…)

 

Your story, “The Operation,” takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. What attracted you to writing about the Lakota characters and lifestyle on the reservation?

During my first semester of college in 2009, I had a history professor who was very passionate about the Lakota tribe. He taught us a lot about the Pine Ridge Reservation and since I had never heard of it, I did my own research on the side. Eventually, I fell in love with the reservation and I felt compelled to write a story that took place there. I’ve never been to Pine Ridge but one day I would love to go and visit.

When did the idea for these characters come to you? What were you doing/where were you?

The Thunderclap family came to my mind one night at 3 am. I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote a short story about them as homework for my beginning fiction class. In the story, Jay Eagle (AKA Ate) died from his heart condition, leaving his wife and baby son all alone. My classmates enjoyed the story, but they were pretty pissed about Jay Eagle Thunderclap’s death and told me I was wrong to kill off such a loveable character. I took their advice and kept him alive in a subsequent draft. I also changed the point of view from 3rd person omniscient to Nimo’s point of view. And no, Jay Eagle Thunderclap will never die in the series. I promise.

You have written a number of other stories featuring these characters. Are you putting together a book?

Yes! I’m in the process of putting all the Thunderclap family stories together in one book. I’ve been editing it extensively for the last year, and I plan to start submitting to agents and publishers in a couple of weeks. I hope to write and produce a small television series about them sometime in the future. We’ll see what happens. 

What kind of research did you do to write these stories?

I read tons of fictional stories by Native American authors and loads of books on Lakota history and culture. I also took some college classes on Native American studies. Honestly, I get a lot of heat for writing outside my own culture, and I am frequently told to stick to my own, which drives me nuts.

Then in 2012, I got the opportunity to meet Sherman Alexie, a famous Native American author who wrote “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” I asked him what he thought about me writing from the point of view of a Lakota boy. He said it ultimately doesn’t matter what you write, all that matters is that your writing is good. He’s right.

Where do you write mostly? Please describe this place.

Even though I write in a variety of places, my favorite place to write is in bed. My most successful story titled “The Fork” was written this way. I fell asleep right after writing the final sentence, and my pen’s ink stained my sheets. Thank goodness for detergent.

What’s a flash fiction you read recently that knocked your socks off?

“Godoy Lives” by Daniel Chacon. It’s a beautifully written story about an impostor. 

What are two writing sites you visit and enjoy?

Aside from Duotrope and Newpages strictly for submission calls, I love Writer’s Relief and Writer’s Digest. They always have good advice on their sites.

What other things you do besides writing?

I like to ride my bike, go to the gym, read books, and spend time with those close to me, especially with my wonderful boyfriend, David.

 

2. (THE NOT SO SERIOUS…)

 

What movie franchise do you wish would just end already?

Back to the Future should’ve ended after the first one. It’s almost 2015, and we still don’t have hoverboards. We were lied to.

Donut or doughnut?

I live in Houston, and we have Shipley’s Do-Nuts headquarters. Donut is short for Don’t Mess with Texas.

Tell me everything you know about sea otters.

I know otter-ly nothing.

How did you celebrate your publication in Back Hair Advocate? Feel free to lie.

Huge make-out session with David, fireworks, and some Shipley’s Do-Nuts. It totally happened. Or did it?

The last thing you ate?

Trail Mix! Whoever invented it was a genius.

Worst piece of advice you ever got?

When I was fourteen, a relative told me I should stop writing because it’s not a ‘girl’s’ hobby. As you can see, I take advice from my relatives very seriously.

Worst job you ever worked?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been paid $800 for my stories, which isn’t much. Writing is demanding, difficult, and requires long hours. I hate the process of writing, yet I feel like I’m going to go crazy when I’m not writing. In a perfect world, my stories would earn me enough money to quit my day job and also provide me with a lifetime supply of trail mix.

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The Operation by Darlene Campos

My parents worked hard, but only when they could. Ate usually only worked temporarily, and Ina had a regular job that didn’t pay much, anyway. Not long after Ate got a steady job with good pay, Ina lost her job at the superstore.

“They said I used too many sick days this year,” Ina told us during dinner on the day she got fired. “But truth is I ain’t been absent since the day I gave birth to Nimo.”

“I still got my job, and Nimo’s got change in his piggybank. We’ll be okay,” Ate promised.

“What about your surgery, Ate?” I asked as I picked at my broccoli. “It’s next month.”

“Don’t worry about that, son — I’ll cut myself if I have to,” he said.

“Jay Eagle!” Ina cried and slammed her fork down on the table.

“What? I cut myself with my razor all the time. I think I can cut my chest open, too.”

Ate was born with aortic valve stenosis. It means his aorta doesn’t open as big as it should. He had surgery when I was three, but the doctor said he’d need surgery again, eventually. Now I was thirteen, and Ate was still alive, even though he could die any second. I didn’t like it when he took naps on the couch after dinner. I thought he might never wake up.

******

“Ate,” I said one night as he napped during an All in the Family rerun. “Wake up.”

“Not now, Josie, I still got all my clothes on for crying out loud,” he groaned.

I nudged his shoulder with my hand, and he turned to his left side.

“Josie, last thing I wanna do is knock you up after you’ve lost your job,” he went on.

“Ate, it’s Nimo!” I called out, and he jolted up from the couch.

“Nimo! You could’ve given me a heart attack! But hell, if I had one, I wouldn’t need to pay for surgery after all.”

“Sorry, Ate,” I said. “It’s past midnight, though, and Ina’s in bed waiting for you.”

“Is she wearing lingerie?” he asked with a big smile.

I shrugged my shoulders, and Ate ran to the bedroom. I stayed on the couch for a few minutes, relieved.

******

After two weeks, Ina still didn’t have a job, and Ate wanted to cancel his operation. They fell behind on the bills, and we were back to eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

“You’re not canceling your surgery,” Ina said at breakfast one morning. “Don’t you have benefits at work now?”

“They don’t kick in for another couple months, Josie,” he informed her. “I can live until then.”

The phone rang, and Ate got up to answer.

“Hello?” he said. “No, you can’t talk to Josie, she’s dead. You can’t talk to Nimo either ‘cause he’s in prison for killing Josie.” Then he hung up.

“Who was it, Ate?” I asked.

“Your grandmother,” he said, and Ina pulled on his ponytail.

******

The day before Ate’s surgery, Ina took me to the cash loan office just outside Pine Ridge rez. We waited in the lobby next to Ray Firebird, who wanted a booze loan.

“Hey Nimo,” he said. “I thought you was in the slammer for killing your mother.”

“He is, I need a loan to bail him out,” Ina said.

Ray Firebird nodded and pretty soon, he passed out on the floor, so we got to take his place when the clerk came out.

“I’m not sure we can give you a loan, Mrs. Thunderclap,” the clerk told Ina after they talked for a minute or two. “The computer says your credit score is substantially low, and your household has 15 unpaid credit cards.”

“Jeez Ina, what did you need that many credit cards for?” I asked.

“To raise you,” she said.

The clerk shook his head and said Ina was better off paying for Ate’s surgery with money borrowed from family.

“All of my family’s broke, why the hell do you think I came here?” she said.

The clerk grunted and gave Ina a sheet with the word DENIED in big letters.

“Ina, what about Leksi Gray Mountain?” I asked as we walked to the exit. “He’s a doctor. I’m sure he’ll lend us the money.”

“You’re right, Nimo,” she said, nodding. “But Ate doesn’t like asking his brother for cash. So I’ll do it for him.”

I waited in the lobby with Ray Firebird snoring next to me while Ina called Leksi Gray Mountain on the pay phone outside. She came back inside after about ten minutes, smiling. Leksi Gray Mountain said he’d send us a check, but not to tell Ate about it.

******

The next day, I sat in the hospital waiting room with Ate and Ina. Ate squirmed in his seat, so Ina whacked him on the head with a magazine.

“I’m about to get cut up, and you’re hitting me?” Ate protested.

“Yeah, to knock you out so we won’t have to pay for anesthesia,” Ina retorted.

Ate slouched in his seat, quiet and sweating from his forehead.

“Nimo, Josie,” Ate said after a few minutes. “In the worst case scenario, after this surgery, I’ll be dead. Nimo, you can have whatever I own, which is nothing. Josie, if you meet another guy you really like, marry him.”

“I already did, he lives in our basement, and he won’t come up until you croak,” Ina said.

Ate shook his head. Ina took hold of his hand, and she didn’t let go for a long time.

******

After Ate got called in, we all waited for the doctor inside a hospital room. Ate wore a big paper gown and wiggled on the bed so much that it rattled.

“Stop it, you’ll break the bed,” Ina scolded.

“If I wanted to break it, I’d bring you up here and make Nimo a sibling,” he said. “I’m starving, I ain’t eaten since yesterday. But I guess it’s good practice for how broke we’re gonna be after this damn surgery.”

“I’m hungry too, Ina,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll run down to the deli to get a sandwich for you,” Ina told me, patting my head. “If the doctor comes while I’m not here, tell him to wait until I get back. I’ll only be a few minutes. Okay?”

I promised I would, and she kissed Ate on his cheek before she left. I stayed at Ate’s side, watching the presidential debate on the TV with him.

“Turn it off, Nimo,” he said. “If I wanted to hear an idiot talk, I’d call your grandmother.”

I shut the TV off, and Ate slid further into the hospital bed. He was shaking, but he probably thought I didn’t notice.

“Nimo,” Ate said. “If I go, your ina will take good care of you. She always has.”

“Don’t say that, Ate, you’re gonna be fine,” I told him. “You survived the last surgery.”

“I’ve also survived a 15 year marriage, but I think I’m running out of strength,” he said. “Just promise me two things if I don’t make it out alive.”

I asked what he wanted, and he was quiet for a few moments. He put his hand on my shoulder to make sure I was paying attention.

“First, keep my wedding ring and do only that. You pawn it and I’ll come back from the dead and take you with me,” he said.

“I promise. What’s the second thing you want me to do?”

“Every single time your grandmother calls, heckle her.”

I laughed, and we did a pinky swear. He sat up in his bed and tugged me by my arm.

“You know something, son,” he remarked. “I’m still paying the hospital bill for your birth. I told your ina to go to the backyard and squat when you was coming out, and she hit me. If she had squatted, we wouldn’t have a bill for you.”

“Really?” I said, and he nodded. He admitted he and Ina couldn’t afford to have a baby when I came along, but did anyway because they felt like taking a risk.

“And everything went okay,” Ate pronounced. “Except for the bill. But you turned out better than we thought.”

Not long after, Ina was back with my sandwich, and the doctor followed after her. He wheeled Ate away down the hall. I poked my head out the door, watching him leave.

******

About five hours later, Ate was brought back into the hospital room, woozy and high on anesthesia, but alive. He saw me first when he opened his eyes, and he waved at me. But he didn’t recognize Ina.

“Hey son,” he said. “Who’s the burning hot nurse standing over there?”

“I’m your wife, you bonehead,” Ina told him. “And this is our son, Nimo.”

“We got a son?” he murmured, half awake. “So, you mean, we’ve done it?”

“Yes, that’s how we got our son,” Ina responded.

“That’s so awesome,” Ate announced. “Man, you’re the hottest nurse in the world. I should get surgery more often.”

He fell asleep right after, and Ina adjusted the blanket so that it was covering all of him.

“Nimo,” Ina said, turning to me. “Go home and tell my second husband in the basement to get lost.”

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Darlene P. Campos is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Creative Writing Program. In 2013, she won the Glass Mountain magazine contest for prose and was awarded the Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize. Her work appears in Prism Review, Cleaver, Red Fez, Bartleby Snopes, Elohi Gadugi, The Writing Disorder, Connotation Press, Word Riot, Plain China, and many others. She is from Guayaquil, Ecuador, but has lived in Houston all her life. Her website is www.darlenepcampos.com.

 

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Mango Salad by Stephen Mander

A man came into the post office today and asked for a chai latte. I said we didn’t have any. He didn’t believe me.

Are you sure? he said.

I said, look around. We sell envelopes, cards, boxes, jiffy bags. This is a post office, not a coffee shop.

He looked at the shelves then at the exchange rate board behind me and said: but I don’t need envelopes or anything like that. I need a coffee. A chai latte preferably. Why wouldn’t you sell them?

I said, because this is a post office. Post offices don’t generally sell coffee. It’s not what they’re for.

He looked confused, but you’re a shop, aren’t you? You sell things.

I said, yes, we are, and we do sell things. Just not coffee. You’re welcome to put it in the suggestion box, though, and I pointed at it.

He followed my finger there and back and said, you’re joking, right? This is a joke, yeah? Is there a camera around or something? Are we being filmed? Yeah, yeah, very funny. Okay, I get it. Now, can I have my latte?

I said, sorry, sir, this is not a joke. We don’t sell latte. The cafe up the road does, but we don’t. Why don’t you go there? It’s not so far.

He said, but I’m here. I came here. You were open. You were a shop. You must have latte. Some kind of coffee, at least.

I said, look, how many times have I got to tell you? We do not sell coffee. If anyone’s on some prank TV show, it’s you. Now, can you stop wasting my time? There are other customers for me to see.

The man turned around. The queue had been building. He said, but you need to deal with me first.

I said, I have. Next.

The woman behind him stepped forward. The man moved out of the way. I ignored him, smiled at the woman and said, what can I do for you?

She got a list out of her bag.

Mangoes, she said. Unripe ones. I’m making a salad.

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Stephen Mander is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but has lived and worked in Japan, Australia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Syria. He currently lives in Vietnam.

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The Comeback by Catherine Weiss

When he returned to Earth last spring
our Lord Jesus
did indeed make the rounds
of the talk-show circuit.

His talking points were
dealing with an omnipotent
father figure,
the hiatus,
and next moves.

@TheRealJC even attracted
more followers than
Justin Bieber.
Totes populaire.

Unfortunately, the Son of God’s
music career never
did take off.

Sorry Jesus, nobody
listens to ska anymore.

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Catherine Weiss is a poet and author living in Northampton, MA. She has been published in Drunk Monkeys, port.man.teau., Linguistic Erosion, Melancholy Hyperbole, and Red River Review. Her website is http://catherineweiss.com.

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The Movie Endings Ruiners Club by Rich Dodgin

Keith knew he should be enjoying the film, but he couldn’t relax. His mouth was dry and his hands felt clammy. He couldn’t believe they were really going to do this.

They’d planned this out to the finest detail and had practiced and practiced what they were going to say, so he should’ve been prepared. But sitting in the darkness of Screen 1 surrounded by hundreds of strangers made the whole thing a lot more nerve wracking than he’d expected.

It was another one of those stupid ideas that they seemed to come up with when the three of them got drunk together. “The Movie Endings Ruiners Club,” Dave had said in drunken glee. “We go to the cinema and halfway through the movie we loudly announce the ending of the film. Then we leg it.” This had been at 2am when they were incredibly drunk, and they’d all laughed and thought it brilliant.

Now, a couple of evenings later and sober, Keith wasn’t so sure. He could sense the people around him, and the fact that he and the others were going to deliberately fuck this film up for them suddenly seemed a lot less funny.

Next to him, Paul seemed equally nervous as they waited for the agree moment to arrive. He fidgeted and shifted in his seat like a dog with fleas.

“Sit still for fucks sake!” hissed Dave. “Remember what we agreed. We’re in this together. No chickening out. Ok?”

On screen, the mother of the young boy was complaining to another parent about some perceived mistreatment or other. It would soon be time. Keith felt his stomach tighten in anticipation. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. We’re really going to do this, Keith thought. Shit.

“Ready?” asked Dave in a voice loud enough that they could all hear him above the sound of the film.

They mumbled their replies, and Keith focused on the on screen action. Here we go.

“Three,” chanted Dave, as the three of them stood up slowly, “two, one!”

And they all shouted loudly in unison, “BRUCE – WILLIS – IS – A – GHOST!” before racing for the door, laughing and yelling at the rush of it all.

******

Despite his disbelief at what they’d done, Keith had to admit that it was one hell of a buzz and enthusiastically agreed to do it again.

Over the next couple of weeks they managed a few more successful film-ruining sessions, each time getting the rush of adrenaline as they ran away laughing at the insanity of what they were doing.

But they soon found it was harder to get away with. The cinemas had received complaints from some filmgoers and had been given descriptions of Keith, Dave, and Paul. In the end, their local multiplex told them they were banned and that the police would be called if they ever returned.

*****

Which is where Keith thought it would’ve ended.

But somehow the story made the local and then the national press, and before long there were copycat Movie Endings Ruiners Clubs popping up all over the country.

Within a couple of months it got to the point where you couldn’t go to the cinema without someone ruining the plot halfway through. The cinemas were losing money due to declining audience numbers and the numbers of refunds they were paying out to complaining patrons.

The Daily Mail started a campaign demanding something be done and blaming the three lads from Edinburgh as the cause of it all.

As a result they became minor celebrities for a couple of months and even appeared on a few television and radio shows. Keith found he was recognised wherever he went. Most people were friendly towards him, but some of those who’d had their film going experiences spoiled were quite confrontational.

He was therefore relieved when the cinemas finally hit on the idea of having audiences wear earphones to listen to the films. The problem gradually faded away and so did the public interest.

******

A few months later Keith and some friends were in a busy bar chatting with a group of female students they’d just met.

Keith was getting on particularly well with a dark-haired girl called Julie. She was attractive, intelligent, laughed at his jokes, and there was a natural spark between the two of them. This could be the start of something special, he thought.

Which was when one of his friends interrupted their conversation to tell Julie, “You do realize that is the Keith Forsey you’re talking to — don’t you?”

Julie frowned. “From the Movie Endings Ruiners Club?”

Keith glared at his friend, and then nodded sheepishly. “Yeah, that was me.”

“God. For a while I hated you and your idiot friends. Every time I went to see something at the cinema some moron ruined the ending.

Keith groaned. “What can I say? It was a stupid idea that got out of hand.”

Julie laughed. “Don’t worry. The last time it happened I was on a terrible first date, watching an awful film with some guy I realized I couldn’t stand. It was a godsend when some jerk stood up and told everyone what was going to happen. We all asked for our money back, and I got to make my excuses and go home. So thank you.”

“Wow, I think that’s the first time anyone has every thanked me for ruining a movie ending,” said Keith, beaming as he did.

*****

Later, when it was obvious that the interest was mutual and the two began discussing possible first dates, Keith half-jokingly suggested the movies.

“No thanks,” Julie said sweetly, “I think I’d sooner commit seppuku than be caught in a movie theatre with you. No offense.”

“Fair enough,” said Keith, giggling.

They went for a romantic dinner instead.

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Rich Dodgin is an Edinburgh-based fiction writer and music journalist. Visit him online at http://www.richdodgin.com/.

 

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Call for Submissions

Back Hair Advocate wants your submissions. We’re looking for humor, but what we truly want is great writing.

And one more thing — we’d like Back Hair Advocate to start putting out stories that take more of a nontraditional structure. So think letters, email correspondence, wedding announcements, personals, missed connections, math word problems, whatever really. We’re still going to publish stories with a traditional format, but we’d love to get some diversity in this area.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with, folks.

— Ian Starttoday

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Skippy Goes Sailing by Gary Moshimer

I coughed a little. Some bloody fluid sloshed in the rubber tube coming from my chest.

Outside my door some doctor was ranting. He was looking for the patient in the room across from mine.

“She’s in X-ray,” the nurse told him.

“It’s Friday,” he said. “I have to get out of here. The holiday.”

He was acting like an ass, and I didn’t like the looks of him. He was an ugly fuck. Big everything– feet, nose, ears. I decided he looked like a clown. I decided his name should be ‘Skippy.’

I’d just had some pain medicine. I was blameless.

I called out to him. “Hey, Skippy.”

He ignored me. He tapped his clipboard impatiently.

“YO, SKIPPY!”

He cocked his fat head and looked in at me. “Excuse me?”

“You know where I’ll be for the holiday, Skippy? And that lady? We’ll be right here.”

He shook his head and turned his back to me. The nurse, Angie, made a dimple at me. I loved her, she was so cute.

“Where are you going, Skippy? Country club? Or do you have a big boat for those big feet? Skippy goin’ sailing?”

He mumbled something to Angie and she gently closed my door.

After a bit I saw him from my window. I watched him heading for the parking lot, his lab coat slung over his shoulder. I waited for him to reach his BMW or his Mercedes or one of those cars with the doors that open up like wings. But he just kept walking, past the lot, out into the street. He stood on the sidewalk, looking both ways. He crossed the street and kept going. The white of his coat finally disappeared. I pictured him going into a bar, or visiting a prostitute, or going to his luxury apartment overlooking the water and dressing up in his clown outfit and dancing in front of a mirror, all by himself. I saw him drinking from a bottle and tweaking his ruffled collar and running in his floppy shoes and throwing himself off his balcony because he was that unhappy. My automatic blood pressure cuff turned on, and the reading was twenty points closer to normal.

I watched the horizon over the bridge. The sun was setting. It was beautiful. A cloud bank had a slice out of it and some of the sunset leaked through and it was the same color as the stuff in my tube. I coughed. I felt better, I really did.

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Gary Moshimer has stories in Smokelong Quarterly, Jersey Devil Press, Pank, Frigg, Cease, Cows, and many other places.

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Anthills by Jeremy Kniola

The colony burned. Flames scorched the mound of pine needles, smoking out workers from their subterranean dwelling. On the ground little black bodies smoldered. Those still alive scattered from the laser beam intent on eradicating their kind.

At the helm of his spacecraft, General Lance Litman watched the destruction unfold. Soon the aliens would surrender and Earth would be saved from invasion. The President would award him a medal for courage. His name would become synonymous with heroes in history books.

Through a magnifying glass Lance focused the sun’s white rays on an anthill at the edge of the patio. A mass genocide orchestrated by a ten-year old with a mean streak.

Die, alien scum, die, he shouted with glee.

The screen door flew open. His mom walked out in her dirty, checkered apron. Dust powdered her poofy auburn hair white. She pointed the ostrich feather duster at him.

With the sun behind her, she looked like a cowgirl challenging him to a gunfight. Lance swore he saw a tumbleweed roll between them.

Why aren’t you cleaning your room? she asked. I told you to do it an hour ago.

In Lance’s mom’s world, Sunday was cleaning day. Rain or shine, healthy or sick, she religiously performed chores like a good Catholic obeying the Sabbath.

But I don’t want to.

I don’t care what you want.

Lance reached for his pistol, but Mom was quicker on the draw. He clutched his heart, spun in circles, and collapsed to the ground, bellowing loudly — Aaagghhh! — until his last breath.

Mom stuck her hands on her hips like she was sliding her gun back into the holster. I’m not horsing around. You better hop to it or you can forget playing video games later.

Getting up, Lance stomped out the tiny fires and meandered into the house. As he entered, his mom handed him a garbage bag, a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of Windex. He started to make a fuss, but she wouldn’t hear it. Everybody has to pull their weight around here, she said, dusting the china cabinet. Lance headed toward his bedroom, or cell as he now pictured it, feeling the weight of the ball and chain attached to his ankle.

As he passed the kitchen, his older sister, S.A.R.A.H., or Stupid Analog Robot Algorithmic Humanoid, was scrubbing the fridge, wearing silver latex gloves that stretched to her elbows. Two antennas poked out of the top of her head. When she sneered, light gleamed off the metal in her mouth. She clunked across the tile to block his path, shoes squeaking like they were in need of oil.

Thanks for helping, dickwad, she said in her monotone automated voice.

Lance wished S.A.R.A.H. were installed with an OFF button. She could be so annoying sometimes. Calculating all the chores she got stuck doing. He tried to pass, but she wouldn’t let him through. When he told her to get out of the way, she retracted her arms and said, make me, numb nuts.

Raising the Windex bottle, Lance sprayed S.A.R.A.H. in the face. Sparks shot from her eyes and her body shuddered as her circuits malfunctioned. A warning alarm cried — Mom! — until it lost any semblance of the word. Mom! Mum! Muuuh!

Mom stormed around the corner, a tornado of indignation. Laaannnce!

Lance darted around his sister, hurdled over the vacuum, collided with the mop sticking out of the closet, regained his balance, ran down the hallway and dove into his bedroom to the cheers of the crowd in his head. He raised his arms in victory, but the victory was short lived. His mom called for him to COME BACK THIS MINUTE.

A mound of clothes lay on his floor. It reminded Lance of the anthill. Concentrating hard, he mutated. His chubby torso segmented into three sections. His skeleton turned inside out. Two extra limbs grew from his bellybutton. Claws morphed from his hands and feet. Feelers poked out of his forehead. They detected movement coming from the hallway. His mom approached. Through his compound eyes he watched her mouth stretch into a tube equipped with elongated tongue.

You’re in big trouble, mister, the anteater said.

Frightened, Lance dug a tunnel in the anthill. He burrowed deeper and deeper until he thought he was safe.

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Jeremy Kniola resides in Chicago, where you may find him writing at one of many local cafes. His fiction has recently appeared in Dogzplot, The Big Jewel, and Literary Orphans. He wears glasses.

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Baby And Me by Lori Schafer

Our best friends were having a baby. Inwardly, I groaned.

“You know what this means, Frank?” I complained to my boyfriend. “They won’t be going out with us anymore.” One by one our friends had succumbed to the bothersome burdens of boring adulthood: first marriage, now children. Soon only Frank and I would be left gloriously unencumbered.

“Sure they will,” he reassured me. “It’ll just be earlier. And, um, noisier.”

He should know. His sister had a kid, a rambunctious pre-school aged brat with no redeeming qualities that I had ever observed. Frank volunteered to baby-sit every so often. I called this my quarterly booster of birth control. Each time his nephew arrived I wanted children even less.

Frank, I suspected, was a bit soft on the kid thing. He seemed to like children an awful lot for someone who claimed not to want any. Once he had even told me that if I changed my mind about having one, he might be on board with it. I said that was just his biological clock ticking.

The pregnancy seemed to last forever, and I wasn’t the one carrying the bowling ball around in my belly. Every week when we visited our friends – who had already begun the mystifying transformation from regular adults into the strange creatures known as Mom and Dad – we had to suffer through the latest revelations. The tests, the pictures, the ultrasounds, the boy-girl debate and its resolution, the design and decoration of the nursery, how soon they wanted the next kid to come along. I feigned interest. Graciously, I hoped. I was happy for them — really I was — but only in a generic sort of way. I mean, I’m glad, too, when the local team makes it to the World Series, but I still don’t watch the games.

And then finally it happened: the kid was born; healthy, rosy cheeks, ten fingers and toes, and everyone was happy, all except for me. I still complained.

“Now we’re going to have to go and see the baby,” I whined, fully aware that this was spoiled and selfish and not caring in the slightest.

“So?” Frank replied, puzzled, his warm, dreamy eyes already misting over in anticipation of witnessing the wondrous miracle of magnificent new life.

“Never mind,” I answered. It would have taken too long to explain.

For our friends’ sake, I did try. I pretended to be impressed by the wee magical creature sleeping so adorably in the pink bassinet. I expounded with delight on how she had her mother’s ears and her father’s eyes, or maybe it was the other way around. I chuckled when Dad played peek-a-boo and made kitchy-coo noises at her. I was very convincing.

Too convincing.

“Do you want to hold her?” Mom inquired in a hushed tone, as if it were a great honor bestowed only upon the most worthy of visitors to the baby’s shrine.

“That’s okay,” I said, summoning all of the firm politeness I could muster.

“It’s all right; you can hold her,” she assured me.

“No, thank you,” I replied, less politely and more firmly, well aware from past experience that even the least doting of new parents would refuse to believe that there could be a woman on Earth who didn’t really want to hold the baby.

“Aw, come on, you know you want to!” she urged, prompting me to wonder whether she and the kid were part of a grand conspiracy to make a mom out of me whether I wanted it or not. “Here, just take her for a minute,” she repeated, dumping the kid in my lap as if it were a grocery bag I was supposed to bring out to the car. “I’ll be right back.”

So then I had to sit there with my arms out holding the kid’s head up like you’re supposed to, and wondering when this enforced bonding time was going to be over, and how many more years I would have to put up with this annoying little creature and the brothers and sisters that would soon follow it, and then she reached out with her tiny pink fist to grab hold of my index finger in the sweetest, most endearing gesture you have ever seen.

“Forget it, kid,” I said scornfully. “That’s the oldest trick in the book. You’re not winning me over with that.”

A sentimental sigh ruffled the air behind my back and I whipped my head around to find Frank peering covertly at the tender scene from the edge of the doorway. “Oh, how cute!” he proclaimed, springing ecstatically into the nursery, evidently unabashed at being so red-handedly caught spying. “You look so natural sitting there with a baby on your lap!”

“Forget it, bub,” I answered, glaring up at him. “You’re not winning me over with that old trick. You like it so much, you take it!”

He opened his arms to grab hold of the wee darling, and laid her across his chest, prompting her punctually to spit up all over it. And then another, more powerful stench filled the room, causing the dreamy mist to fall abruptly from Frank’s eyes like an old-time theater curtain over a completed movie fantasy. Staring horrified at the hand that had been supporting the baby’s bottom as if it were contaminated, he set her ruefully down in the crib and yelled for Mom and Dad to come and fix her.

“Whew!” he exclaimed, plainly disgusted, struggling to remove the spit-up from his shirt with a baby-wipe while the baby’s piercing cries rang throughout the bunny-lined nursery. “That’s why I’m glad we are never going to have children.”

I looked with new respect and appreciation at the screaming, stinking little bugger and wondered whether she and I had more in common than I’d thought. And with that I reached down into the crib, grasped the baby gently by that pint-sized fist and whispered, “Thanks, kid. You might not be so bad after all.”

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This story originally appeared in Every Day Fiction.

Lori Schafer’s flash fiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications. Her first two novels, My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged and Just the Three of Us: An Erotic Romantic Comedy for the Commitment-Challenged, will be released in 2015. You can find out more about Lori and her forthcoming projects by visiting her website at http://lorilschafer.com/.

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