“Foolishness” by Emma Power

Blurring the lines
of reality,
The lady in the lake
Called out to me,
With an odd,
Mermaid-like quality.
I waded in
Quickly, purposely,
With no thought
for my own mortality-
Or any fear
For my sanity.
A fatal error
Unfortunately,
For this eagerness, this foolishness
Was the end of me.
The Fool.jpg

Emma Power loves reading and writing poetry from her home in Manchester, England and has a little obsession with writing ‘Tweetlits’ on Twitter, which can be found on @epower05. Her poems have appeared previously in The Evening Theatre and she has many poems published online, under E Power, on Footballpoets.orgscriggler.com and poetryspace.co.uk. On poetrypulse.com, her poetry has been prize winning, commended or awarded an honourable mention. She also has work forthcoming on lightenup-online.co.uk.

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“Pop” by S.S. Sanderson

Her children were elated to learn their mother was the new night manager at a candy factory. The operation was a new one in town, having refitted a shuttered brewery along the river to make gasified, sugary treats. This meant Stacy Jones would work while her children slept, but the opportunity to provide for her family was too great to pass.
Although ownership acquired the brewery and secondhand equipment rather cheap, Stacy was keenly aware that her employers desired to immediately return a profit from their meager investment. Her office was a mess of inventory forms and purchase orders. The main floor of the facility was a haphazard jumble of equipment, supplies, and completed confections.
While she expected a quiet night of paperwork inside her office, her first shift took an inauspicious turn. Just before midnight, an explosion of some short ruptured several pressurized tanks near the back of the facility. Stacy rushed from her office to assess the situation. She heard confused shouting as a sudden wave of flames jumped over stored sacks of sugar. 
Stacy mulled the possible sources of the calamity. As far as potential causes of the blaze and explosion were concerned, the gas canisters and human error topped her list. Unfortunately, she had little time to process her suspicions.
Alarms sounded as the antiquated sprinkler system sputtered to life. Stacy ran toward the back of the main floor, hoping to usher the other employees to safety. She stumbled over the form of Dennis Hosmer. Stacy regained her footing and pulled the man off the ground.
Dennis sported an impressive, purple knot on his forehead. He clumsily put one arm around Stacy. 
“Something caught me right in the head,” Dennis groaned. “A pipe or gauge.” 
Stacy struggled forward toward the emergency exit at the rear of the facility. The sprinkler system played out, and the flames appeared to race her toward the door. She punched the door open with all the strength she could muster. She and Dennis collapsed onto the ballast of the railroad track that ran directly between the factory and the Huxascotch River.
Stacy positioned Dennis off the rails and turned back toward the facility. Her eyes focused on the door just as another explosion blew out the three massive windows along the back wall of the factory. She shielded her face from a rain of glass shards as an entire vat of liquefied sugar and pallets of completed product tumbled through the new openings and onto the rails. The entire area outside the back of the factory was now peppered with sticky metallic equipment and entire crates of candy. She was grateful that Dennis was spared the brunt of this new blast. 
“What about the others?” Dennis asked over the roar of the newly ignited inferno inside. He tried to stand but collapsed backward.
Stacy didn’t have time to respond. She charged back into the building. Hissing gas and encroaching flames immediately greeted her. 
There were three other employees in the factory that night, and Stacy Jones rescued each one.
She pulled Bernie Davis, an elderly man well past the age of retirement, from under several sacks of sugar. Bernie had fallen and couldn’t get up. His age, weight, and the multiple sacks contributed to his inability to escape.
She supported Paula Hughes as both women hurried outside where Dennis and Bernie waited. Paula had serious burns and her uniform was coated in blue raspberry flavoring. Otherwise, Stacy could see that the woman was in no worse condition than the others.
Stacy dragged the unconscious Eunice Jacobs from the floor near a ruptured vat of boiling water. Eunice was in bad shape, but Stacy believed that proper medicinal care would afford Eunice a reasonable recovery.
Stacy lowered the unconscious woman onto the gravel next to Bernie and Paula. Stacy sighed as a new explosion rocketed piping from another vat, pallets of product, and entire cases of vinegar into the chilly night. The aroma of blue raspberry mixed with smoke and formed a scented haze over the group.
“Is everyone okay?” Stacy asked.
“Yes,” Paula said. “I’m burned, but I’ll be okay.”
“I’m fine,” Dennis replied. He had returned to his feet, but he rubbed the discolored mass on his forehead as he spoke.
“I think Eunice will be okay,” Stacy said. “She’s in bad shape, but I think she’ll be okay.”
Bernie didn’t say anything. He seemed distracted. His eyes searched the night along the river.
“I hope,” Dennis said. His voice was challenged by a distant sound. 
Stacy wondered if fire trucks were approaching to battle the flames. She heard the sound a second time. A light appeared in the darkness. As the sound emerged from the distance a third time, Stacy realized that the light and sound were connected.
A locomotive was approaching. Pools of light from a nearby glassworks illuminated the approaching freight train. 
“Come on,” Stacy said to Dennis. “We need to get everyone away from the tracks!”
Stacy helped Paula to her feet. Dennis slipped his arms under Eunice’s shoulders and lifted the unconscious woman off the gravel. Stacy was weary of getting too close to the candy factory, and there wasn’t much space between the tracks and the blown out windows of the rear wall. A blue, sugary mixture was seeping over the ruined window frames. 
“We just need to get out of the way,” Stacy said to Paula. The other woman seemed alarmed. Dennis lowered Eunice back to the ground. 
“I think we have bigger problems,” Dennis woefully observed. “Look at the debris on the tracks. The locomotive is going kick all of that up. We need to get farther away.”
Dennis made a good point. A loud burst from the horn of the lead locomotive seemed to affirm his statement. Bricks, crates, sacks, and scraps of equipment littered the rails. A few pieces of the shattered vats were quite large. 
“Carry Eunice,” Stacy directed. “I’ll get Paula and Bern. We need to get down to the river.”
Dennis scooped Eunice back into his arms. Eunice seemed to rouse with this new movement as Dennis crossed the tracks back toward the river. 
“What happened?” She stammered.
“You’re okay,” Dennis replied. “I’ll explain in a minute.”
Stacy followed close behind, guiding Paula over the gravel. 
Bernie hadn’t moved. He sat in the same spot near the rails. Stacy started to speak to him, but the shrill of the brakes from the locomotive canceled out her voice. 
“Pop,” Bernie muttered. He turned and looked back at Stacy. “That train is hauling pop.”
Although that specific term was falling out of use, Stacy understood what Bernie was saying. Stacy looked down the tracks, beyond the cone of light at the front of the freight train. A familiar red and white pattern appeared on several railcars.
“Oh my god!” Stacy gasped. The freight was hauling soft drinks from a nearby bottling plant. Thousands and thousands of gallons of soda were careening toward a ruined carbonated candy factory.
“Run!” Stacy shouted to Paula. The blue raspberry flavored woman stumbled forward, as Stacy turned to help Bernie. The old man moved slowly, even with the locomotive plainly visible.
Dennis had already managed to get Eunice a few yards out into the slowly flowing Huxascotch River. Paula set a foot into the cold water just as the locomotive struck the first piece of debris.
“Jump!” Stacy screamed. She pushed the old man forward and dove into the water. A deep percussion sound followed her. The slowing locomotive had struck one of the ruptured vats. Subsequent railcars skipped the tracks and ripped through the ballast toward the back of the factory. A fantastic, fizzing, popping, boiling explosion ensued.
Stacy poked her head above the water and rubbed her eyes clear of blue foam floating on the surface. Dennis, Paula, Eunice, and Bernie emerged soon after. 
“Unbelievable,” Stacy muttered. The fizzing foam covered everything in sight. She could hear members of the railroad crew shouting to each other in disbelief.
“You know what?” Dennis asked.
“What?” Stacy responded.
“When you were pulling me out of the factory, all I could think was that the explosion and fire were part one massive insurance scam.”
Stacy nodded.
“Someone is going to be in a lot of trouble,” he continued. “Especially the Food and Drug Administration. This isn’t supposed to actually happen.” Dennis whipped some of the blue foam around in the water.
“Definitely not,” Stacy said with a sigh of relief.
 
“I really hate blue raspberry candy,” Bernie offered. The old man spoke for everyone.
Train.jpg
S.S. Sanderson (@SSSanderson2) us an amateur author from that special place in America where Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all meet. Otherwise, he lives a life that looks better on paper.

“How to Dress for a Funeral” by Caleb Echterling

A man in a chicken suit staggered into baggage claim at LAX. A thumb and index finger pinched his beak and twisted his head down to sister level. “Couldn’t you dress appropriately for a funeral?” Chicken-man’s sister, in head-to-toe black, glared through narrowed eyelids.

“No can do, sis. I sold everything to follow my dream of being the first person to scale Mount Everest on a unicycle while dressed as a chicken. Which Dad always said he’d derail. Guess he finally kept a promise.” Chicken-man scooped a hard-edged garbage bag from the conga line of suitcases dancing down the conveyor belt.

A guttural growl vibrated from the sister’s larynx. “Too late now. Funeral’s in an hour. We can’t be late. Dad’s last wish was for you to give the eulogy.”

“But Dad hated me and everything I stand for.”

A hand slapped the back of the chicken head. “That’s horrible. Why would you think that?”

“That was the last thing Dad said before I left for Kathmandu.”

An hour later, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, a unicycle carrying a man in a chicken suit whizzed between pews of mourners. The wheel lurched sideways on slick carpet. A feathered bowling ball crashed into lily ten-pins. Chicken-man popped to his feet and spread his wings like Christ the Redeemer. The obligatory ‘ta-da’ went unsaid.

Chicken-man shook water from his feathers. A creased cocktail napkin topped the lectern. He plucked reading glasses from under a wing and wiggled his tail feathers. “All I can say about a man I haven’t spoken to in twenty years is to pass on the best advice he ever gave me. Don’t eat yellow snow.”

Chikcen.jpg

 

Caleb Echterling is a talent scout for the Intercontinental Dust Bunny Rodeo. He tweets funny fiction using the not at all clever handle @CalebEchterling. You can find more of his work at http://www.calebechterling.com.

“A Hunger Overwhelms Him” by Al Matheson

Moonlight full shines its discus sphere,
Upon a bloody boy sat astride the dark,
His naked lips smiling gruesome cheer,
As within a wasted frame jabs his heart.

Unblinking, he stares; he stares unblinking,
Becoming stilled as the shadows formed,
Whilst in mind raging a tempest storms
Cracks of lightning; flashing, thinking;

Thinking, slinking; drinking, sinking;
Like an anchor desperate not to move:
Oh I cannot, I cannot, he thinks thinking,
Yet ever in wanting his pain soothed –

Maybe just one, the little one to sate,
Now he thinks, and he likes the sound.
A guttural beast his stomach growls;
Eyeing up his hand, sealing pinkie’s fate.

Dangling closer the sacrificial limb,
He salivates like a dam burst, drooling;
Collecting a puddle at his toeless feet.
And he doesn’t hesitate, he never did:

Plugging the flow between his teeth,
At once biting down upon the joint;
Hearing the cracks of teeth and bone,
Grossly accompanied by his mewing moan;

Tasting the copper rich blood flow forth,
Gulping eagerly the body’s erotic juice,
Ripping away flesh and sinewy produce,
Until at last the garrotted digit loosed;

Where after a time chewing his prize,
He swallowed down his old snot-picker,
Awaiting then for tears to begin to cry,
Understanding he was getting ever sicker.

For already a new thought felt to arise:
Perhaps, perhaps he thought to himself.
This wouldn’t feel quite so good if next,
If next I chose to feast upon my eyes!

So thought he, sat astride an endless dark,
Where in his wasting frame jabbed a heart,
Gruesome lips smiled at with naked cheer,
Under spotlight of a full-moon’s spear.

Moon

Al Matheson (@AlMatheson_1) is a poet living and writing in the U.K. Who upon occasions, after some mild-combative internal discussions, is known to let his words escape into the wider world at large.

“Change”: Introduction to April Performance

April brings change to our world. Winter releases a seemingly impossible grip on our hemisphere. The winds become warmer. The days become longer. Nature bursts into life.

Change is often a mixed blessing – usually not fully positive or negative. Change can offer calamity or triumph. Change questions our resiliency and mettle. Change brings new opportunities to our doorstep.

Our April performance celebrates change in all possible forms. Change as transition. Change as transformation. Of course, response to change, as well as the occasional resistance, exists at the very heart of this performance. 

The Evening Theatre is proud to present a lineup for April that includes tremendous poetry and prose. Poetry pieces from Al Matheson (@AlMatheson_1) and Emma Power (@epower05) bookend the performance. S.S. Sanderson (@SSSanderson2) delivers a folksy tale with local flare and Caleb Echterling (@CalebEchterling) comically confronts that most morose of all changes – death. 

Amanda Bergloff (@AmandaBergloff) generously provided our feature image for this performance.

The performance lineup for April:

Opening Act – “A Hunger Overwhelms Him” by Al Matheson

The Jester – “How to Dress for a Funeral” by Caleb Echterling

Headliner – “Pop” by Shaw S. Sanderson

The Encore – “Foolishness” by Emma Power

CURTAIN CALL by Amanda Bergloff (1).jpg

“Curtain Call” by Amanda Bergloff

Amanda Bergloff is a surrealist artist whose work has been published in the e-zines, New Myths, The Horror Zine, 200CCs, Firefly Magazine, Enchanted Conversation, and Shotgun! Strange Stories.

“Behind the Laughter” by Emma Power

The bittersweet applause,

rattles in the comedian’s ears, 

as he steps from the stage. 

For he knows,

as the afterglow of the adulation fades,

insidious intent lurks in it’s shadows.

Whispers and murmurs begin a drip…

drip of poison that filters into his fragile heart,

clawing at his vulnerability until he’s intoxicated,

reveling in the dark magic flowing through his veins.

In his heart though,

despair spins in chaos as the inevitable storm rolls in,

and loneliness announces its return… 

IMMERSION by Amanda Bergloff

“Immersion” by Amanda Bergloff.

*

Emma Power loves reading and writing poetry from her home in Manchester, England. She has many poems published online under E Power, on Footballpoets.org, scriggler.com, and poetrypulse.com. She also has work forthcoming on lightenup-online.co.uk. She also has a little obsession with writing little ‘Tweetlits‘ on Twitter, which can be found on @epower05.

“Sky King” by Joseph S. Pete

The fireworks got marked down drastically every year after the Fourth of July, and even more precipitously after New Year’s Eve, which is when Doug stocked up, carting an empty cardboard beer case full of enough pyrotechnics to burst a dam, to rip a solid block of concrete asunder.

But it was still winter, and the windswept cold was so merciless his fingers burned like broiling meat in that chill air. He had to wait until winter’s onslaught abated, until the ice melted and the lake opened up.

Then one day, long after the snow receded, a freak miracle made it feel like a relatively balmy spring day. It was time.

Doug hopped on his uncle’s purloined dirt bike double-fisted with handfuls of Beast Mode mortars he picked up from Sky King Fireworks on Route 6 and that were sure to scintillate and amaze. The scraggly, paunchy guy in the faded T-shirt behind the counter claimed these bad boys were reserved for the most grandiloquent of grand finales, that they were military grade and still illegal in most states, and that they would have been impossible to obtain without the owner’s connections. He knew people, man.

The bike roared with anticipation. Doug revved the rumbling engine over and over, clutching between his teeth a plastic candle lighter he scored from an altar boy in a trade for a gram of pot.

“History,” he mumbled, barely comprehensibly. “About to make history.”
“Whatever dear,” Gillian said, staring down at her phone.
“Make sure you’re getting this,” he called out muffledly over the engine.

Doug took a deep breath. A glorious destiny awaited. He accelerated toward the lake.
Todd trained his phone shakily on Doug as the motorcycle ripped toward the ramp they jacked from the derelict skate park on the rundown side of town. Gillian glanced up, for just a second.

“Idiot.”

Execution was key. It would, of course, be tricky. Doug had to light the buy-one-get-six-free explosives so they’d detonate just as he arced over the ramp into the lake, so immersion in the cold water would save him if he got burned while airborne. Failure could cost him fingers, dispatch him to the emergency room with third-degree burns, or reduce the whole stunt to a lame wormhole-like timesuck. Plus, his uncle might figure out who jacked his bike, so this had to work. It absolutely had to. The stakes were too high.
He aced the jump.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Coruscating blasts spread bright streaks of light across the sky as Doug flew toward the expectant lake. The sky was aflame. He was soaring, as though on a zip line, between columns of incandescent fire. Sunburst after fiery sunburst splashed across the bright blue azure.

“Damn. I mean, goddamn,” Todd marveled, though Doug had told him to keep absolutely quiet while filming.

As hoped, the uploaded video went viral, garnering millions of views and spreading across social media networks like kudzu. Doug’s phone chirped ceaselessly with non-stop notifications. Likes, favs and hearts flooded in. He amassed a million new followers overnight.

Screenshots of his aerial exploits got the meme treatment, making him even more ubiquitous online. He was featured on Twitter Moments, spotlighted on Snapchat Discover and trended on Facebook for days.

Soon he was on Good Morning America, The Late Late Show, and some show on Viceland that was canceled the next week, recounting the self-aggrandizing anecdotes he rehearsed in his head whenever he was terminally bored, like when he was waiting to clock out at the cell phone accessories store or in the drive-through waiting on a No. 2 combo. He got invited to visit Facebook corporate headquarters, where they gave him a tour and had him address a lobby full of bored-looking programmers. They even started screen printing him on T-shirts. Those didn’t sell particularly well, but still.

It wasn’t long before he was in a glistening skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles, wondering how he even got there. As the suits presented a check, Doug happened to remember Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” a story he hadn’t given any thought to since middle school. Stale lake water suddenly filled his lungs. More and more water glugged down his throat. It was a rush, a rampage, a shock of ice water in his scalded esophagus. His head felt light as blood streamed out of his temple. His entire body burned.

The pain was agonizing. The fireworks had flayed him, and now he was drowning. Charred flesh started to slough off. He looked up and around, but could only see murky water everywhere. Even if he made it to the top, he might not be able to escape the shelf of ice, which was likely impenetrable and unavoidable if you came up at the wrong angle. He was too weakened and too agonized to even try. His whole body tingled with shock.
His lips parted.
“Legends never die. Legends… ”

Todd posted the video online as a tribute to his friend, even though he swore he had heard as a kid snuff films were illegal and the “Faces of Death” filmmakers got locked up for a very, very long time. But it was what Doug would have wanted and it was all just so tragic, especially when they never found the body after three days of dredging the lake. He had to do it, for his friend.

The video got seven views and one comment about how it was an epic fail and another about how much vertical video sucks.

IMG_0281

If only the snow hadn’t receded.

*

Joseph S. Pete (@nwi_jsp) is an Iraq War veteran, an award-winning journalist, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio in Merrillville. He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest 2016, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His work has appeared in The Five-Two, Chicago Literati, Dogzplot, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Pulp Modern, Zero Dark Thirty and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. True story, believe it or not.

“When To Report A Co-worker” by Maria L. Berg

So yesterday Amanda said she was reptilian, but doesn’t remember what planet she’s from. Amanda is my friend at work. We get along really well. She makes me laugh. I’m not sure I believe her though. I’ve decided to make a list of things I know about her to see if she’s really a reptilian.

What I Know About Amanda

1. She says her skin is always dry and flaky – She puts coconut oil on herself all the time. She told me to touch her hair once. It felt dry and greasy at the same time, but it smelled good and my hand did too.

2. She has an affinity for snakes especially cobras. She also bought a pin that was an alligator with lady legs – I wanted one, but I’m not reptilian.

3. She has tattoos covering all the skin on her arms – I wonder if she covered her arms with tattoos to hide defects in her fake human skin.

4. She gets bad headaches because one of her eyes sees long distances, but the other eye doesn’t – Maybe she lost one of her fake human eyes.

5. She rides a motorcycle in dire need of a new seat – Why not get a new seat? Reptilians might not feel anything in their butts.

6. Her dog never barks – Maybe it knows. Maybe its afraid she’ll eat it.

I think that proves it. I work with a reptilian. I ask her if she has remembered what planet she’s from yet, but she says she doesn’t because those memories got lost during the flight to Earth.

A lady told my friend, Andy, that the president is reptilian. I ask Amanda if that’s true and she says she doesn’t know. She says they have a tell, a way they can identify each other, she just doesn’t remember what it is.

So Amanda is reptilian, that doesn’t change our friendship, but I think something might be wrong with her. Like, the other day, she really smelled. I mean, yeah, there are times when I forget my deodorant and mid-day I’m like, “I hope I’m the only one that smells me,” but there’s funk and then there’s: I just ate a raw fish that I found in the dumpster, FUNK. I gave her a little gift of CK One, baby powder and every flavor of Altoids, but if she’s using them, it’s not helping.

I also think she might be molting. I keep finding large flakes of skin on the table, the floor, in the coffee pot, like all over the place. I know they’re hers because I recognize her tattoos. She’s starting to have a bit of a green tint under certain lighting, like sunlight.

I’m worried she’s trying to avoid me. We don’t chat and laugh like we used to, before she told me she’s reptilian. But I hear her mumbling under her breath all the time when she’s not talking to me. I think she’s remembering why she came to earth. I think I heard her say something about taking over this region for the reptilian overlords before she left for lunch.

I’m feeling kinda torn. On the one hand, Amanda’s my only friend at work. Sure she’s acting weird and might be a leader in a hostile alien take-over, but she keeps me entertained and helps me get through the day. On the other hand, that smell and she has grown very sharp teeth and claws, which are not “conducive to a healthy work environment”–I’ve been studying the Employee Manual. I mean, a lot of people just stopped showing up for work. The lunch room is practically empty. Everyone probably got grossed out watching her eat. That blood running down her chin and staining her shirt is making me lose my appetite.

At what point do you report a co-worker as being reptilian without sounding racist?

Titan

Looks like the reptilian home world to me.

*

Maria L. Berg (@authormariaberg) enjoys brisk swims in the Pacific Northwest. Her flash fiction has been published in Five on the Fifth and Waking Writer. When not writing adult fiction, she writes and photo-illustrates Gator McBumpypants adventure stories. 

Her work can be readily found online here and here.

“The Accountant and the Polygraph” by Ryan Sonneville

Uniontown3

You’re going downtown.

Marcus perspired as the gravity of his situation began to set in. He was warned to avoid traveling from his designated district but found the siren call of the north ensnaring.  Having been crafted in Boston to carry out accounting minutia, Marcus assumed few clones of his make would be wandering about in Northern California. 

Now he faced a hardnosed detective, alone in a brightly lit interrogation room. Scattered about the worn table he was handcuffed to was a catalog of evidence amassed by the Santa Rosa Police Department; fingerprints, DNA samples, and eye-witness accounts all putting him at the scene of the murder.

“We don’t even need your confession,” confidently stated the detective as he ran his hands over the security camera printouts. “There is more than enough here that goes beyond circumstantial evidence pinning you to this crime.”

Marcus wished he had come to town with a friend. He had no alibi that could be substantiated, no good reason for being in a residential area at 3 AM. The picture procured by the detective showed a man identical to himself right down to the tightly trimmed haircut.

“I am telling you…I was tipsy and just wandered into the neighborhood. I swear… that isn’t me in the picture. The agency that designed me built nearly two-dozen copies. The person who killed that woman, it must be one of them.”

The detective smirked in disapproval. Marcus knew his story seemed unlikely; although cloning had become commonplace in the last decade due to a diminishing workforce, happenstances like this were rare.  Clones were designed to be workhorses and seldom strayed from their designated tasks and assigned locales. The itch Marcus had to drive north and visit wine country was not in keeping with his model’s design.

“I want to take a polygraph,” stammered Marcus as he kneaded his temples.

The detective sighed and left the room to get the apparatus out of storage. With the litany of evidence putting him at the crime scene and no credible alibi at hand, his only chance was to demonstrate his innocence via the outmoded device. Knowing that this may be his only shot at proving his innocence, Marcus began to shudder.

He was promptly strapped into the polygraph and the detective fired off a serious of baseline questions to calibrate the device.

 “What’s your name?”

 “Marcus Armstrong.” He stated confidently.

 “What’s your place of origin?”

Marcus paused for a moment. “…Glastonbury, MA.” This was the location of his first memory: being educated in accounting at his manufacturer’s lab. The needles of the polygraph shifted faintly.

“How old are you?”

Again Marcus paused. He was created at his present visible age; he was unsure of an exact date of birth.

“…I was fashioned six years ago.” Again the machine sputtered in response to his hesitant proclamation.

“Why were you in Santa Rosa last night?”

“I wanted to see wine country.”

This was the response Marcus had repeated in private dozens of times leading up to his trip. He muttered it so many times that he almost believed it to be true. The polygraph saw through his polished, studied declaration. Marcus could see the distance between the marked lines grow on the paper expelled from the machine like blood leaking from a split artery.

Marcus did not know what compelled him to do so, but he had determined to escape the life designed for him. With just a change of clothes and the money in his pocket, he intended to leave his prescribed life for an unknown future. He hoped to hide his motivations from the detective; he was technically property of his manufacturer rented out to his employer. The polygraph began to note the change in Marcus’ heart rate.

The detective stared at the hapless clone. He didn’t need the antiquated machine to see something did not match up with the accused’s story.

“Who did you plan to…” began the detective but was abruptly interrupted.

“I need a lawyer…”

Marcus pulled the cords connecting him to the machine and began to weep. The detective smirked, slowly shuffled the papers on the table into a neat stack and filled them into the weathered evidence dossier. 

*

Ryan Sonneville (@r_sonneville) is a writer and teacher in Sonoma County, California. His work can be found online.

“Lone Space Traveller Logs” by Analogue Robot

Universe.jpgLog #6561

Same dream again, emotions overwhelming,

Rich with sensory perceptions of touch, of taste and smell,

Felt my skin brush off another’s,

I warmed to smiles of younger others,

I feel I’ve been here once before,

I wish to sleep and sense this more…

 

Log #7448

Wander as I do, no other way to know,

With goals, ambition, self-fuelled determination,

Moments enlighten, bring darkness aglow,

I survive, aim to thrive, marking sessions of progression,

Wonder as I do, of aeons past,

Those challenges and missions of those gone by,

Of human minds and journey tasks,

A thousand questions, the ifs and the why,

Where does the voyage cease,

To what end will all entail,

Does a land exist of peace?

To which direction I must sail,

Is the quest that I behest, to some place of me I send,

Merely a trip, of me to grip, till I reach my own life’s end…

 

Log #8401

Panic ensued, should be used to it now,

Imminent death invokes brains defensive vow,

For embedded code I survive once more,

I know I have purpose, though I know not what for.