From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

THECONDUCTORS

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Short Stories

Fiction

Arenous

It starts with the patch of skin behind her right ear, where her too-large turquoise glasses frame sits awkwardly, an unbalanced seesaw upon her nose. While finishing a requisition report, she scratches there unconsciously, and her nails catch on something hard and thin, coming back with a flimsy yellow patch the size of her nail, translucent and slightly elastic.

Fiction

Man vs. Bomb

Watch. The starter pistol sounds. The man takes off running. Five seconds later, the bomb takes off after him. The man is young and strong, for a human, but his legs are short. He’s naked and doesn’t have much hair, even on top of his head. His genitals swing frantically, like a smaller, more terrified version of himself, as he runs from the bomb.

Fiction

Flight

Tonight, Jekwu and Izu are perched on Chapel’s fence. They love this fence. It is the only fence in Selemku that is still coated with fresh algae-spirogyra lichen, warm under their feet, like a rug. Here, the glint of the full moon on Chapel’s stained-glass windows crisscrosses their grey feathers, the same way rainbow beams stretch out across the sky in the mornings. The air from this height is cold and dry. It wriggles its way under their skin, sending spasms down their spine. From time to time, the halogen-bulb atop the belfry comes on and then goes off and then on again. A never-ending cycle.

Fiction

Kisser

Bragg sleeps alone. Thirty-four. This morning, he wakes up with one less tooth in his mouth, a central incisor. What his dentist, later and while looking at a dental chart, calls the patient’s Number Nine. Bragg’s Number Nine, root to crown, a crucial corn-on-the-cob tooth, is not in his mouth. It’s on the pillow beside him. Bragg rubs sleep from his eyes. That first glimpse of the tooth sends his tongue darting to the front of his mouth. An absence. A canyon.

Fiction

10 Steps to a Whole New You

(1) Be unaware that the wolf was presenting itself to you in sheep’s clothing. It began, as most things do, simply enough. In a simple neighbourhood, on the edge of a town. Too urban to be rural, too rural to be urban. Women grew old. Some women aged with their children, grandchildren, family around them. Some grew old alone, isolated, bitter. Others might grow old and die sick, in pain. Then there was you.

Fiction

Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind

Oz is holding a knife to his wrist when they knock on the door. For a moment he hesitates, weighing his options. His eyes dart between the door and the knife—eeny, meeny, meiny, mo—and land on the door. “Might as well,” he mutters, and gets to his feet. The dull sound of the knife as he sets it aside on the kitchen table seems to fill the room. It’s a terrible thing, he muses, how loud a house is when there’s no one else in it.

Fiction

Umami

“I have a favour to ask,” said the fushi to the chef, “and in exchange, I will grant you a wish.” “What sort of favour?” Yun San asked. She wiped sweating palms down her brown hanfu and tried to show a brave face. Thick mist had whisked her away from the back of her restaurant into the wilderness. Even were she thirty years younger and somehow able to outrun her captor, she had no idea where she was.

Fiction

An Indefinite Number of Birds

Stanley began watching birds on the day he panicked and asked JD how much he really loved him, and JD responded, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Stanley. How many birds are in the sky? I don’t know—a bunch!” Stanley couldn’t get the question out of his head. By week’s end, he’d bought a birdwatching guide and an embarrassingly expensive pair of Leica binoculars. He spent a tense Sunday morning ready for the birds to awaken and sing the day’s gossips and confessions, watching and ticking things off in his journal as dawn grew from a hint to a bloody smear to proper daylight.

Fiction

To Look Forward

We are the ones who dare, back and forth; our hair whipping over, our hearts full of joy. Our bodies burn bright and clean and crisp, glistening when we reach the sun. A healthy tan has coated our skin, our foreheads drip with sweat, our palms firm and slick. We are: over and over again, up in the air; not known to each other, but known to the sky. Mid-jump, mid-action, mid-reaction, mid-air; always there, on rusted swings, on creaking chains, on hot-sun days, back and forth and over, once again.

Fiction

And This is How to Stay Alive

Kabi finds my body swinging. I watch my sister press her back against the wall and slide to the ground. My mother shouts, “Kabi! Nyokabi!” No response. “Why are you not answering? Can you bring that brother of yours!” My sister is paralyzed, she cannot speak, she cannot move, except for the shivers that take hold of her spine and reverberate through the rest of her without permission. She is thinking No, no, no, no, no. But the word is not passing her lips which only open and close soundlessly. Mum is coming down the stairs.