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Copyright © 2012 by FictionBrigade

This book contains works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, transmitted or distributed in any form or by any means without permission.

“Impressions of Death and the Afterlife” © 2011 by Kaj Anderson-Bauer

“A Flash Look” © 2011 by Roy Buck

“Crow-Boy and the Opposite of Indifference” © 2011 by Brian Cooper

“yOWSa” © 2011 by Jacqueline Delibes

“The Future Is So Gay” © 2012 by Shawn Duyette

“Mending Wall” © 2011 by Richard Helmling

“Unfamiliar Rooms” © 2011 by Walter Holland

“Wanderlust” © 2011 by Danilo Lopez

“Summer Memories” © 2011 by Catherine A. MacKenzie

“Chat” © 2011 by Monica Martinez

“A Vist to the Hen House” © 2011 by Debra Mathis

“The Purple Hat” © 2011 by Melanie McDonald

“No Beards for Mr. Bailey” © 2012 by Peter McKenna

“Whispers in the Night” © 2011 by Melissa Mendelson

“Passing Lane” © 2011 by Brandon Meyers

“Wronged by the Circus, Again” and “Saying Goodbye” © 2011 by Ryan Moll

“Sierra Nevada Reverie” and “Daydreams and Hiking” © 2011 by Shelley Muniz

“In the South of France We Split Hairs” © 2012 by Brittany Newell

“Shrinking Husband” © 2011 by Vincent Rendoni

“There’s Always All That” © 2011 by Allie Rowbottom

“Networking” © 2011 by Jessica Simms

“Not Totally Passive” © 2011 by Louise Farmer Smith

“The Study Date” © 2011 by Simone Stedmon

“Mouth to Mouth” © 2011 by Clare Tascio

“Notes from an Inner City School” © 2011 by Ling E. Teo

“Rainbow Gold” © 2011 by Valerie Tidwell

“Job Interrogation” © 2011 by Lauren Tolbert

“The Heartthrob” © 2011 by Gina Wohsldorf

“Thoughts” © 2011 by Meirav Zehavi

“pressed between leaves” © 2012 by Eleanor Bennett

“Snap Cut” © 2011 by Christopher Hackbarth

“Purple Hat” © 2011 by Sean Lefler

Published by FictionBrigade, LLC.


Cover design by Clare Tascio

978-0-9849834-0-7 (eISBN)

978-0-9849834-1-4 (POD ISBN)





Kaj Anderson-Bauer

Impressions of Death and the Afterlife 6

Roy Buck

A Flash Look 8

Brian Cooper

Crow-Boy and the Opposite of Indifference 9

Jacqueline Delibes

yOWSa 11

Shawn Duyette

The Future is So Gay 13

Richard Helmling

Mending Wall 17

Walter Holland

Unfamiliar Rooms 19

Danilo Lopez

Wanderlust 21

Monica Martinez

Chat 23

Melanie McDonald

The Purple Hat 26

Peter McKenna

No Beards for Mr. Bailey 30

Melissa Mendelson

Whispers in the Night 34

Brandon Meyers

Passing Lane 36

Brittany Newell

In the South of France We Split Hairs 37

Vincent Rendoni

Shrinking Husband 41

Allie Rowbottom

There’s Always All That 45

Jessica Simms

Networking 47




Louise Farmer Smith

Not Totally Passive 48

Simone Stedmon

The Study Date 49

Clare Tascio

Mouth to Mouth 52

Ling E. Teo

Notes from an Inner City School 54

Valerie Tidwell

Rainbow Gold 57

Lauren Tolbert

Job Interrogation 58

Gina Wohlsdorf

The Heartthrob 59

Meirav Zehavi

Thoughts 61


Eleanor Bennett

pressed between leaves 65

Christopher Hackbarth

Snap Cut 66

Sean Lefler

Purple Hat 27


Catherine A. MacKenzie

Summer Memories 68

Debra Mathis

A Visit to the Hen House 69

Ryan Moll

Wronged by the Circus, Again, Saying Goodbye 70

Shelley Muniz

Sierra Nevada Reverie, Daydreams and Hiking 71






Impressions of Death and the Afterlife


By Kaj Anderson-Bauer

So let’s say you die. Freak accident let’s

forever.” Pretty soon your arm begins to tire, and

say. It happens all the time. Maybe you have a heart you sort of reach out for the last little bit of eave attack. But no—you deserve better. Maybe it’s

over the front door. Then, before you have much

summer. You are painting your house. You have

awareness of what is going on, you are falling and

lived in this house for years, you and your

twisting backwards down into the sidewalk.

husband—or maybe your wife. You bought the

You don’t feel the impact of the earth. That’s

house years ago, when real estate was cheaper. Now because your neck is broken. You don’t know you you are finally

are dying yet.

getting that

All you know

mortgage paid

Then you are dead

is that you

off, and it feels

seem to be

good to have

stuck to the


sidewalk. Now you realize that you won’t be

It is one of those days in early summer

getting up again—“I am dying,” you think, and

when yard work still seems like a good idea. The

your brain starts churning wildly. You begin to

new grass is coming up, and there is a warm breeze panic. “Oh my God,” you think, “I am going to blowing. So you buy a few of those big buckets of

die.” But even though your brain is more active in

paint—yellow paint, because you are starting over.

these last moments than it has been in your entire

Starting over? Yes, you think. Today is a new day.

life, to a passerby you would already appear dead.

You pull the ladder out of the garage and

And here it comes. Your mind is like a light bulb

get to work painting your eaves. “Goodbye blue

that flares brilliantly and then quietly burns out.

trim,” you think, “it will all be yellow now. Yellow

Then you are dead. You were thinking something




as you died, but it doesn’t matter anymore.


There’s a lack of continuity between life

Truth is, lots of people die and go on to

and death—physics is different here, for example,

do great things, even with the depression and the

and that’s just one thing. Getting off the ground

haunting memories. Some people are actually hap-

might take you ten years. You might insist that your pier here. Maybe that’s you. Maybe, once you get back is broken for that long. It’s not broken, but it

up off the ground, you will come to realize that

takes most people a few years to adjust. It takes a

painting everything yellow wouldn’t have solved

while to get used to being dead, and in some cases

your problems anyway. You might realize that you

the post-death depression and the haunting memo-

really couldn’t have started over on that summer

ries never go away. The afterlife can be a depressing day, so long ago. You can never start over; you can place, and the adjustment is different for everyone. only keep going.

It might take fifty years before you can even stand

Maybe at a certain point, you will forget everything

up again—it might take five hundred. But then,

about the few years you spent living. How long will

time is different in the afterlife too. Years will go

it take to forget? It’s hard to say. Maybe, one night,

whizzing by before you know it. Five hundred years millions of years from now, you will awake from a is pocket change here.

dream. You will be lying in bed next to the person

But see, that’s the bad news. There are good you love—still asleep beside you. You will look up bits of the afterlife as well. Your memories and

at the ceiling of your house, dark in your bedroom.

your imagination do everything here, so that opens You will hear the refrigerator turn on downstairs, up a lot of possibilities. You can float in the air for

and you will wonder if you

example, and you can breathe underwater. You also

ever really lived at all.

might meet someone here—someone to love. You

might start a family. It happens all the time. People

have built monuments of infinite height and also

infinite smallness. People have written stories so

Kaj Anderson-Bauer writes fake gossip about his friends and

long that they take thousands of years to read—but real letters to Val Kilmer. He has recently published his stories in here we have time to read them. We have time for

Melee Live and Thin Air Magazine . Kaj lives in Arkansas.




A Flash Look


By Roy Buck

Lincoln’s mirrored self a mismatch of two

Lincoln was superstitious, some say an

differing faces. Different shades as the President stood occultist but really he studied a deeper truth hidden in in front of the mirror. One of which was many shades plain sight. Old mirrors holding memories of every lighter, she noted. The death pallor of the Doppel-reflection captured. The president’s wife saw two

ganger’s ghastliness. An action perceived in advance?

separate distinct Lincolns in their chamber’s mirror.

Bilocation, multi-location--when an

Lincoln stated, “That I was to be elected a

individual or object is in two places at the exact

second term of office, and that the paleness of one

same time: glimpsed shadow of themselves in

of the faces was an omen that I should not see life

fringe vision. No chance of reflection in their

through the last term.”

flashed position.

A deeper truth existed beneath the surface of the

A look-a-like labeled harbinger. An omen.

chambered mirror; John Wilkes Booth’s bullet

At times, a ghostly double right by their sides.

exiting the front of Lincoln’s paled head.


A French teacher named Sagee, witnessed

by her 32 students, saw their teacher’s autoscopy

People have said that if Roy Buck

mimic and eat with nothing in her hands.

was a mode of transportation he’d

Sagee was ill. Her doppelganger passed

be an ostrich with a leather saddle.

through her. Her parallel double was vibrant. In

He was raised in Green and Gold

broad daylight, there was the bilocate and it was

country (Wisconsin) before living

motionless while Sagee taught, but the doppelganger

several years in both Missoula,

mimicked writing while the teacher thought.

MT and “da” UP, off Lake





Crow-Boy and the Opposite of Indifference


By Brian Cooper

The people in the mountains have no religion

book that proves the existence of a Monastery on

and the gods walk among them. You can travel

Standing Mountain, and then of a First Village

only a few hours from here and if you have a

Under the Monastery on Standing Mountain and a

guide to trace the winding path, find an unnamed

Second Village Under the Monastery on Standing

village whose every inhabitant is acquainted with

Mountain. And so on. The book is a not a book

the crow-boy, and who offer food to him and his

of history or geography, but a collection of tax

associates. The inhabitants are less than a dozen

records, and implies that the Monastery was built

families now

first and that

and none of the

its presence

families large or

Remember to breathe

attracted the

healthy. Their

people who

losses give them

built houses,

reason to be hostile to outsiders, and sometimes

cultivated small, terraced farms, offered a tax in

reckless in their hostility. But if you bring weap-

the form of grain to the inmates of the monastery.

ons, food, and authority, each in quantities enough

And bred more of their kind. Implausible, but

to compensate for the villagers superior patience,

most of the villagers assent to this story, claiming

guile, and aptitude for suffering, you may be able to also that the Monastery itself was built the week learn something like what’s written here.

after the creation of the world, and that it was

abandoned at the time of the founding of the

The village is unnamed, but if you don’t go up

Empire. According to the tax records however, the

the mountain and instead go to the library in the

oldest people in Third Village should have heard

capital, you can ask the librarian to show you the

stories from their grandfathers about the




Monastery’s construction, and even those in Fourth Still, this is the first time you’ve apprehended his Village should have childhood memories of their

offer. He’d enjoy your help in destroying the world

own to explain the monks’ departure.

as it is, starting and ending with the crumpled huts

of the First Village. Not need, not want. But enjoy.

If you do choose to go up the mountain and visit

And you’ll also enjoy it too in parts, sometimes the

the Monastery— a significant choice given the

thrill of power, sometimes the unthrill of

villagers antipathy toward any persons or beings

powerlessness. Swords. Fire. Croaks the crow-boy.

associated with what they have come to call The

Black Temple— you will find a place that, despite

Remember to breathe. Destroy? Without malice,

its reputation and history, stimulates the evaporation and without mercy. And yet with some other of consciousness that, according to some historians, opposite to indifference.

was the hallmark tenet of the structure’s builders.

It’s more not-there than there. Not only are the

Shouldn’t that be difference? Croaks the crow-boy.

timbers charred nearly to ash and the foundation

stones interpenetrated with mosses, fungi, and all

their inbred cousins, but the roof is composed of

fog and the floor is sketched from fallen leaves and

your soft, shuffling footsteps. Your shadows are

the last standing idol. The place’s not-thereness

welcomes your not-hereness, and if you linger long

enough to stop asking why you came or how much

Brian gave up playing Dungeons & Dragons soon after he

longer you’ll wait, or where you’ll go when you

got married and gave up writing fiction soon after he started

leave, the boy with glossy black hair and the

law school. Today, he has three sons and he works in the

unfortunate nose will at last get your attention.

general counsel’s office of a federal agency. And so, his very

cool and supportive wife says, if he wants to play games and

He’s been here all along and he’s not really quiet.

write stories, who’s going to say that he shouldn’t?





By Jacqueline Delibes

US HIGHWAY 46, New Jersey – Seth Grantberg

has staged a defiant occupation of the garage attached In an attempt to use the bathroom, Mr. Grantberg to his mother’s home in Parsippany, New Jersey. A

repeatedly banged on the door separating the garage

self-described “former Partner at commodities and

and main house, a door apparently bolted from the

derivatives brokerage house MF Global,” Mr.

inside by his mother Carolina Grantberg, 63. From

Grantberg, 42, readily granted an interview. MF

the kitchen, a muffled female voice answered, “You

Global, until recently headed by ex-New Jersey

want to use the amenities? Pay us back for your

Governor Jon Corzine, is currently under federal

education. Thank us for decades of sacrifice. Or

investigation for hundreds of millions of dollars in

clean the bathroom for once since 2008, how’s

missing money.


Mr. Grantberg, wearing a European-cut suit and

“Excuse me for a moment,” Mr. Grantberg said

vibrant power tie, appeared exhausted as he lay on a

as he raised the garage door and squatted behind

cot in the unheated garage. He noted that his current a hedge. Moments later he returned, zipping his diet includes root vegetables, a jar of Nescafé and

trousers. “A little customer money gets diverted

rain water. The former broker clutched a Cipriani

and now I’ve been cut off,” he said, and then yelled

Wall Street lunch menu to his chest.

towards the kitchen, “I’m pissed.”

An inquiry about why he remains in his mother’s

Asked to define what he’s demonstrating against

garage and the whereabouts of his wife, friends and

and what his specific demands are, Mr. Grantberg

home yielded a glacial silence. After several minutes, pointed to a protest sign painted with the words Mr. Grantberg acknowledged, “They’re gone.”

“A Return to Flowing, Beautiful Excess!” In the




driveway, he marched alone in a circle for hours to

wave the sign at passing vehicles.

She added, “He’ll join us for dinner, like he does

every night. Tonight it’s roast chicken, glazed carrots.

“Let me back in – I’m proud to be part of the


1%,” he shouted at a stray dog.

“Seth is in a time-out at the moment. Of course

Incredibly, Mr. Grantberg claimed to be completely he uses the bathroom.”

unaware of the Occupy Wall Street movement that

has captured worldwide media attention. “Really?” Mrs. Grantberg shouted towards the garage door, He looked away and fanned himself with a pile

“But not when he’s been so disrespectful.”

of stock certificates. “I hope they get what they


Mr. Grantberg vigorously denied each of his mother’s

allegations of misconduct. “We acted perfectly within

“Are you interested in futures by any chance?” said SEC regulations. That’s all I’m permitted to say Mr. Grantberg, looking refreshed by the question.

because of the investigation.” He lit a cigar. “Caveat

“The future?” asked the reporter for clarification.


“Not the future. Futures.”

Carolina Grantberg answered a reporter’s knock at the

main entrance. The living room was decorated with

stylish mid-century furniture accented by cheerful

family photos.

Jacqueline Delibes writes humor – personal essays, flash fiction

“Did Seth convince you he was a Partner at MF

and short video scripts. Her background includes film editing,

Global?” asked Mrs. Grantberg. “He was fired

film production and marketing. She has a personal interest in

from a secretarial job at a dojo in 2008.”

transformational healing. Find her at



The Future Is So Gay


By Shawn Duyette

Michael clung desperately to the memory

He fell and his crushed will would not even

of his best days. His apartment looked much like

outstretch his arms to break the descent. His right

his dorm room even though he graduated in 2026.

shoulder hit the wall and the weight of his distended

Four years later, he stood in what he liked to refer

body easily pushed through the thick sheetrock.

to as his “Snatchelor Pad,” and nearly cried as he

Mikey’s feet slipped and he slid down, decimating

looked at the photos of his college days.

what remained of the wall.

He never even talked to his closest friend

He sobbed violently with his eyes wide open

anymore. Steve, like the rest of the “Duche Pixels,”

and unblinking. Sheetrock dust merged with his tears

grew up, forgot about the band, and even old friends. and created a depressing plaster. He cried himself Since his friends had moved on, gotten great jobs,

into a strange sleep but his eyes remained open.

money, and families, Mike’s decline had been quick

Some hours later he awoke to the sound of his cell

and violent.

phone. He painfully broke away dried plaster from

The toll drugs and alcohol took on his liver

his dehydrated eyes. Sitting against the wall, partially

turned him into a madman. He was not psychotic

blind, Mikey considered never eating, or drinking, or

and somewhere still had a heart of gold, but years

moving, ever again.

of booze, nicotine, and processed food devoured

Vision reluctantly returned. He looked down

him, turning him mean and angry. His life was a

at his cell phone and saw the only thing that could

rage of heavy energy, attracting bad situations,

have helped him remember what hope felt like: Steve.

people, and occasionally animals, all which appeared

It took Mikey three days to get up the courage

to be out to harm him.

to return Steve’s call. He was excited for the first time in

Friendless, with no money and a bloated liver, years. Nervously feeding on old dried cheese from the Michael, dumbfounded, found that he was crying.

myriad pizza boxes that made up most of his furniture,



he built up enough energy after devouring his card

He did all but show up and take Mike’s tests for

table, ottoman and T.V. stand to make the call. “Steve-

him. Over time, Mike’s gentle bullying made Steve

O! How the hell are ya fucker?”

a bit tougher. Steve realized this, thanked Mike

Steve cringed after the opening line and

internally, and after graduating, thought they would

immediately regretted his decision to contact Mike. part ways. Mostly he was right, but even though he His wife had insisted he at least check to ensure

didn’t call, text, or email, Mike still showed up on

that Mikey was alive.

occasion without notice.

Steve always did what Myra recommended.

This was the longest hiatus yet and Steve

“He might have been an ass the entire time we

coyly admitted to Myra he was worried. She skillfully

knew him in college, but he was our ass,” Myra said. pointed out the moral and spiritual obligation Steve Steve’s mind reeled when Myra suggested

had for his karmic buddy. Though he didn’t believe

he call. In his mind, she was the main reason he

in karma, he believed in his wife. It took him three

didn’t call. “Creepy-eyed Mike,” would leer and

days to build up the courage to call.

mentally undress Myra from his perpetual perch of

“I am ok Mikey, thanks. How are you doing

insobriety. He was the guy who told Steve how hot buddy?” Mikey was stupid by any measure, but was Myra was, and joked that if Steve died, Myra would not inept. He could hear the false concern in Stevie’s be well looked after…in bed.

voice and it was too much. He burst into tears and

Steve felt bad for Mike, but was scared of

wept aloud.

him. Steve was always a shy person and freaked

At first, Steve had no idea what sort of joke

out the first day of school when this big mindless

Mike was playing. “C’mon Mike, I called to say hi. Can

idiot approached him and declared as loud as his

you act mature at least once in your life?” The sobbing

booming voice would project to the entire dining

continued and Steve felt his gut drop when he realized

hall, “This little fucking nerd is my new best friend. what was happening. “Mike man, are you ok?”

He’s gonna help me graduate from this hell-hole so

After several minutes…a whimper. “No.”

nobody fuck with him…in fact, don’t even talk to

The next morning, Mike awoke with the

him! Understood!”

ugliest, most dour look upon his mug. But for the

Years passed and Steve proved Mikey right. first time in years he was happy. He opened the 14


door and went outside to hail a taxi.

“C’mon man, I’m serious.”

Myra came to the room to wake Steve. He

“Fine. I’ll chill, ok? Now let’s get trashed. I’m

lay there awake with his back turned. “Honey, you’ve kidding…fuck. Get that worried look off your face.”

been sleeping a long time.” Steve’s eyes were wide

Before they went out, Steve admonished Mike

and clear as he turned to Myra. He said to her, “Baby, about the city. He told Mike it was not like Boston. San I invited Mike to stay with us for a week or so.”

Francisco had become so populated with aggressive

It took the correct and truthful answers to

lesbian women, the men were threatened and

dozens of questions to convince his wife he was

generally scared to go anywhere alone, and had learned

not mad. After she was satisfied he did the right

to become extremely polite and introspective when in

thing, she congratulated him for his courage, then

public. If so much as a wayward glance landed in the

called her mother to tell her she and the kids were

direction of some groups of women in many parts of

coming to visit.

the city, that man would be beaten and may not return

home. In reality, the women of the city became the

“A fucking six-pack!”

men, and the men like women.

Steve thought he should have some beer for

That night, after drinking too much, the

his friend’s arrival. He genuinely thought that six

two stumbled from the bar. Steve, more inebriated

was too many. But after realizing the advanced state than he intended, forgot entirely where they were of Mikey’s disease, he knew that six was too many.

and the etiquette required for peaceful passage back

“You know, I actually don’t think you

to the Bart station.

should be drinking at all buddy.”

He was laughing and feeling bolstered by

“Don’t buddy me you little bitch! Get me a the presence of his enormous friend when he bottle opener…now! Hahaha, just kidding chump.

heard her.

Where are we going to party tonight?”

“What the hell are you two going on about?”

“Listen, I flew you here so you could relax

He had seen her and her gang before outside

and be with a friend. Let’s not turn this into a week the Bart station. The last time he did, she was of debauchery.”

pummeling a homeless man who dared asked her for

“Dude, you’re killing my buzz!”

change. The man was hospitalized. Although many




people saw what transpired, no one dared come

they dragged his lifeless body up and over the Bart

forward. If someone did, it was unlikely any of the

railing, and discarded him down three stories into

many lesbians that made up the corrupt police force

the desolate station.

would even make an arrest.

No one ever questioned the fact that some

“Why don’t you two little fuckers hand over drunk was found dead with so many contusions.

your wallets, and get the hell out of here.”

And Steven told no one but Myra.

Mike was outraged but not at the woman;

Shawn Duyette is an

he thought she was cute, even if she was a bitch.

avid yoga practitioner

What pissed him off was Steve. That pussy actually

and the creator/author

handed over his wallet and said thank you.

of MotoYoga. The main

“Steve, what the fuck are you are doing?”

focus of his writing orbits

“Dude, just do what she says.”

around the spheres of

To which she replied, “Yeah dick dude, do

self-help, exercise, health

what she says.”

& wellness, nutrition,

Mike yelled, “Bitch, shut the fuck up before meditation, adventure and spirituality.

I slap you!”

Shawn attended medical school and focused on Chinese,

Mike had done it now. A hundred and

holistic and integrative medicine. While in school, Shawn discovered

one lesbians seemed to come out of nowhere and

a penchant and a gift for massage and bodywork. He continues his

descend upon the two behind a wave of thrown

healing work today with a bent toward experiential enlightenment

bottles and scrap metal.

and strives to assist others to discover their true strengths and

“Just hold down the dork. It’s the fat one

passion through exercise, adventure and creative storytelling.

that called me a bitch.”

Shawn Michael Duyette is an entrepreneurial

Mikey fought hard and knocked down at

minded Sagittarian and a master of many trades. His wife

least seven lesbians with his huge fists. Steve was

calls him a renaissance man. He is an author, yogi, martial

dragged over against a parked car and made to

artist, and he can cook a gourmet meal. Shawn loves the

watch the beating of his “fat-ass friend.”

outdoors and meditation. He is a consummate creative type

After they were done pummeling Mikey,

who loves to invent and improve the world for all.



Mending Wall


By Richard Helmling

When I pull up, there’s a crane by my

bailout must not have ever balanced a checkbook,

neighbor’s house.

either. How much debt you have?”

This is out of the ordinary.

“Not too much. We just have a couple

“What’s up, Mitch?” I ask, on account of


his name being Mitch.


“Solar panels.”


“Going green?”

“Not your stupid credit cards. How much

“Self-sustaining. Got a tank up top for rain you owe on that Acura, that Toyota, on your collection, too.”

damned house?”

“Rain collection?”

“Shit, I don’t know.”

“You watch the news?”

“Two hundred, at least.”

“You’re not worried about that 2012 thing,

“I guess.”

are you?”

“Now, think brother, the country’s in the hole

“I don’t know if we’ll make it that long.”

about eleven trillion now, and Wall Street and this


entire backward financial system can only live with