Presented for your amusement: a collection of the sort of things people pay to read. Peruse at your leisure; perhaps you’ll find something interesting, or at least a new short fiction outlet to follow.
INTERSTITIAL BURN-BOY BLUES (2017)
Tommy and Stuart are travelling to California for two very different reasons. Tommy has been chasing love across the dried-up, burnt-out ruins of the once-populous American Midwest. Stuart is hunting for his wife and daughter’s killer, a man he once called his neighbor, who fled the snow-choked corpse of New York City after a winter storm finally did the metropolis in. When a chance encounter on a passenger bus heading west strands the two in the forsaken underbelly of Las Vegas, Tommy and Stuart find that getting passage into the Golden State’s “promised land” is much harder than they ever imagined.
PROSPERO’S HALF-LIFE (2014)
Richard Adams loves his job – or maybe he just wants to ignore everything that’s going on outside of it. As the world rapidly turns into a plague-filled charnel house, Richard keeps on running his store as though nothing had changed. Even after he closes down for the last time, he can’t quite bring himself to believe that everything has changed.
The world rapidly disabuses him of this notion. The realities of the new world create opportunists who will murder and enslave. Richard barely escape from some of these opportunists with his life. Alone, he wanders the deserted countryside of southern Ontario. Company is scarce but booze is plentiful. By the time he wanders into the town of Brantford, his head is too dull too see things that should alert him. Things like garbage bags over the streetlights, fresh white paint over every scrap of the written word, and the footsteps that follow him through the empty streets.
He awakens in Purgatory, but he discovers that Purgatory is man-made. Pressed into service with a bizarre end-times cult, Richard finds a second chance at finding friendship and love amongst the ruins of the world. When an ominous evil bears down on them, however, will Richard be able to save those he loves? Caught between two overwhelming forces, Richard must choose, and the fate of everyone he cares for hangs in the balance.
In the deepest night, on an abandoned street near Christie Pits, there is a choice to be made. Ahead, the path is choked with accumulated snow. Weeks of buildup have created a street that grabs at the ankles and slows pursuit. The plow has not been through; the plow may never come again. A set of tracks leads away through the piled snow; all beside those is fresh, blameless, virginal.
There is the choice: to pursue those tracks into the starless night, to follow them into the blackness, or to slink away into the skulking night for whatever passes for hearth and home. There is a gaseous grumble in the stillness and the choice becomes moot. The tracks ahead are heading for the food, and it becomes an imperative to follow them. It was easy enough to forget, in that time before, that the glitz and the glamour of the cities was connected to life by the thinnest of jugular veins. It was a simple theorem: cut off the food supply and watch the people go mad. Now, footsteps are followed through the piled snow to prevent some from eating at the expense of others. The Hobbesian circle continues.
Meanwhile, in an aging apartment block a mile away, a man stares out of a balcony window over the blackened city. Here and there are lights, beacons of warmth in the void. There used to be many more, but the last few weeks have been a study in the loneliness of lights winking out one by one. Behind him, piled under blankets in the bedroom, a woman sleeps deeply; their child sleeps inside of her, a time bomb of worry whose ticking sounds like gunfire in his head and drives away any pretense of sleep. There is a rift between them, a schism he caused in the time before, but that time is not this; perhaps this is a time of forgiveness, of forgetting. He desperately hopes so, but there are far more pressing concerns to deal with in the present. Securing meals, for one; finding a place among the powerful figures who vie for the souls of the survivors, for another.
He puts his hand to the pane of glass, feeling its chill transfer to his skin. In the darkened city another light is extinguished, and he stares at the space where it was in hopes that it will flare back into life. And waits. And waits.
This is life, after the Disappearance.