twins (W/ Kari Maaren)

          Macy walked into the playroom and found Stacy messing around with a giant cardboard box.  

          "Sister, what are you doing?" Macy said.  

          "Hello sister. I have completed work on my time machine. Observe," Stacy said, pointing at her creation.  

          "It hardly looks like a time machine. It's simply a box with a door drawn on." 

          "Your skepticism shall soon come to an end. Step inside with me sister. Let us explore the temporal landscape." 

          "I shall not, under any circumstance, enter that hackneyed excuse for an invention. Now, tell me, where are mother and father?" Macy asked. 

          Stacy smiled devilishly.  "Mother and Father are somewhere in revolutionary France, if my coordinates are correct. They are my first participants." 

          "Stop this nonsense. I need to speak to mother about preparing my Vera Rubin costume for the talent show. I require her assistance immediately. Now, foolish sister of extreme foolishness, tell me where they are." 

          "I told you," Stacy said. "They're gone." 

          Macy left the playroom and searched all over the house. She checked the garage and the barn, the basement and the attic. Both cars were still in the driveway. She stopped in the kitchen and made herself a mayonnaise sandwich, and ate it while contemplating her costume and the importance of the discovery of dark matter. She finished, wiped her mouth, and stomped back upstairs to the playroom where she found no sign of Macy. 

          "Macy? Stop these shenanigans at once! Where are you? Where are mother and father?" There was no answer. She looked inside the cardboard box and was blinded by phosphorescent glowing lights. The sound inside was deafening. The air inside the box twisted into a corkscrew, and her hair blew back. A rip in the fabric opened in front of her. She reached out to touch it



To see Kari Maaren's accompanying take on twins and time travel, check out https://wobtalk.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/over-easy/


Explore the fantastical world of Kari Maaren and her debut novel Weave A Circle Round at http://www.karimaaren.com/   

smith

Lanky, emaciated, phlegmatic Smith walked into work his usual forty-five minutes late. He sat in his cubicle for thirty more minutes and stared at his blank screen. Johnson walked by and saluted him. Smith did not react. He went to the photocopier and breathed on the screen until it was fogged up. He wrote his name in the fog. He went to the bathroom and took a shit, and then sat there for thirty more minutes without his phone. He used his canine tooth to prick his index finger until blood was drawn. He reached down behind him to the back of the toilet bowl and wrote another notch. It was number 117, and he placed it perfectly without looking. He went out with Efraim for lunch. They ate sandwiches, and Efraim took the meat out of his and said he was going to save it for later, and if he didn't eat it he might give it to his turtle. Smith nodded. When they were back at the office, Don McKey said boy would i like to give to her good, and Smith got up from his desk and threw his glove at McKey, who apologized and slumped away. Smith watched him walk back to his desk and then continued to stare for fifteen more minutes. Later, when he played FreeCell, Jim Rivers came to his desk and said Smith, i don't tell you this enough, but you are the most significant asset this company has ever had. I'd sell my own kids' vital organs to keep you here. Smith just stared at him, and Rivers nodded and walked away. When Smith was preparing to leave for the day, he overheard Jamaica and Charlene talking about him. Jamaica said That Smith is the sexiest son of a bitch that's ever worked here, by far. Charlene said that is the absolute truth. I wish my seat was his face instead of my lousy desk chair. Smith turned around and looked at both women and they scuttled away. He stood there for several hours, and went home long after everyone else had left the building 

award

  

          44XD and SL101 approached the intergalactic throne. Emperor Blorb sat on his ivory seat, picking his teeth. He waived them forward. 

          "Good evening, my bulbousness. We have returned from our galactic surveillance assignment and have finalized our report," 44XD said. SL101 made globular clicking sounds, and then used one of its tentacles to reach into its translucent mass and extract a stack of several hundred pieces of paper. It passed the papers to 44XD, who floated to the throne and handed the report to Emperor Blorb. The Emperor flipped through all the pages in a matter of 5 seconds. He put his head down and began to moan.

          "My lord?" 44XD said.

          "This is TERRIBLE!" Blorb said. 

          "I'm sorry your extreme nobleness, but our calculations are infallible. You must know this is true."         

          "Of course its true, that's the problem! We cannot, repeat, cannot, give Earth the award this year. This is a travesty of such gargantuan proportions that it could cause total cosmic chaos! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! "

          44XD and SL101 looked at each other and shrugged. SL101 made several gloopy clicking sounds and waived its tentacles around.  

          Emperor Blorb rose from his throne and slimed his way to the window, where he observed the black expanse of outer space. 

          "40 years ago," he began, "long before your time, we gave the award to planet Earth. The award, of course, made sense for Earth. They deserved it, based on infallible calculations of agents much like yourselves. To award the same planet twice in less than a thousand years would be an absolute outrage. Especially if you consider what a stinking hole that place has become. The Razzzingzazzands would throw such a shit fit there would be genocides and mass extinctions and all kinds of craziness. Many planets would respond violently. It would be a full scale war. And my imperial rule would come into question." 

          "But sir," 44XD said, "our analysis is never wrong. Earth does deserve the award."

          Emperor Blorb thought for a moment. "Blah! Just destroy the damn planet and we'll give the award to the runner up. The council will never know."

          "Yes my great leader. Shall we enslave humanity first? For fun?"

          "No time for that! No time for that! Just blow up their sun and let it consume the whole solar system. It'll look natural."

          "Yes my great Sage of the Roundness," 44XD said. 44XD and SL101 left the intergalactic throne room and floated out into space, heading toward Earth  

psychic

I was at the party when the drunk blonde girl lit her own hair on fire. They poured wine on her to put it out and she laughed, drenched and stained red. She danced while her friends held her up, with half her hair now short and burnt. She held a bottle of wine in each hand, and slowly danced her way toward Stan and me. I half wanted her very badly to come talk to us and half totally dreaded the thought of her being near us. She said wanna see a fuckin party trick? I'm a psychic, but i need booze, watch. She chugged back several gulps and then pointed at Stan and said your birthday is...... June 16th! Stan said Holy shit! and i laughed. Stan's girlfriend Geraldine came up behind us and put her arm around Stan. The drunk girl stared at her with a very concerned expression. She took another huge swig of her wine and dropped the empty bottle. She looked Geraldine right in the eyes and subtly shook her head. Stan didn't catch it, but i sure did. Geraldine said do i know you? and the drunk girl shook her head again. She had a look of horror on her face that i'll never forget. Geraldine caught it, but stupid Stan was too wasted to pick up on anything. Soon her friends came to her and said come on, we gotta get going, and they escorted their drunk psychic friend, and she looked at Geraldine intensely as she was led away

do you mind watching my laptop while i use the bathroom?

Henrietta was reading her book at Groucho's Coffee, occasionally picking her head up to stare at the handsome barista with the manicured moustache. The woman at the table beside her leaned over and said do you mind watching my laptop while I use the bathroom? Henrietta looked at her and nodded, and the woman got up and went to do her thing. Henrietta analyzed the computer, and the iPhone charger that was also plugged into the outlet near the table. She waited a few seconds, and then she climbed up and stood on her table, her shoes scuffing the marble. People turned to look at her, confused. She cupped her hands to her mouth and made the announcement. I need everyone's attention, she began. I've been tasked with guarding this computer. Anyone who feels the urge to steal it, be warned; i will guard this at all costs. Until death. The other patrons in the cafe looked around at each other. Two men stood up; they were both huge, nearly as tall as Henrietta even from her vantage point on the table. One of them grabbed a porcelain saucer and through it at her head like a frisbee. She ducked and both men lunged at her. She kicked one hard in the temple and he went down. The other tackled her, and they flew to the ground with a thud. As they grappled with each other, a young woman made a jump for the computer, but the short woman behind her grabbed her by the hair, broke the glass water bottle from her table, and stabbed her repeatedly. Henrietta got on top of the large man and twisted his head with her muscular thighs until she heard his spinal chord snap. The short woman with the broken bottle got in front of her like a rabid wolverine, covered in blood and foaming at the mouth. She lunged at Henrietta, but was too slow, and Henrietta kicked the bottle with perfect precision, and it went right up into the short woman's eye. Suddenly Henrietta couldn't breathe; an electrical chord was being squeezed around her neck by the barista. He wrenched the chord as hard as he could, and Henrietta started to go unconscious. There was a loud bang, and Henrietta could breathe again. She was covered in blood, brains, and skull bits, and the barista slumped to the ground. The woman who had asked Henrietta to watch her laptop stood there with a smoking pistol in her hand. I asked you for one thing, she said. One. Simple. Thing. She shook her head, put her gun away, and scooped up her computer. Henrietta watched her step carefully around the bodies and exit the coffee shop. She noticed that the woman had forgotten her iPhone charger; she unplugged it and slipped it in her purse, and then she got up and left, catching the sound of sirens in the distance 

bad things

They brought a new person down to the cellar. We couldn't see each other because of the darkness. For two days we didn't speak to one another, we just sat alone in the dark. On the third day he asked me to tell him a story. I said i didn't have any because i was suffering from writer's block, so there were no stories available, and he said okay then tell me something about telling stories. I told him about a young writer i once knew, who was obsessed with making it as a professional, and liked to write about dark, bad things, but he struggled to find inspiration because he had lived such a pleasant, trouble-free life. He was raised by good parents in a nice town, and had a respectable upbringing. He was convinced that good writing had to be dark, and could only come from experiences of trauma, violence, terror, and death. He sought out these things in his nice suburban town, but they were hard to find. He visited morgues and cemeteries, hospitals and prisons, he looked for conflict wherever he could. He tried to get himself hit by a car when crossing the street, but everyone avoided him. He tried to goad people into assaulting him, but people simply ran from him. I lost touch with him, but last i heard he had killed a man and was in jail. I don't know if he has ever written anything. I stopped speaking, and my new mate in the cellar was quiet. I asked him if he wanted me to talk more, but he didn't respond, so i went back to thinking about stories  

robot

Sheila raced home in anticipation. When she got home, Warren was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. So? she said, how is it? does it work? Warren put his hands in the air and said it's a total failure! All it does is masturbate all day long! It's been in there all day, frigging itself off! It's done it 40 times today already! I built this robot to help do chores! To mow the damn yard! My back! My back! I can't mow the damn yard! I'm no spring chicken anymore! It's a total failure! Sheila rubbed his back. Oh honey, it can't be all that bad, she said. Here, why don't i go in there and take a look at this thing. She went into the bedroom and closed the door. Warren sat there, huffing and puffing. Sheila didn't come out after several minutes, and Warren went over to the door and put his ear to it. He could hear the bed rocking back and forth. You're supposed to do the damn yard, he muttered, and hobbled into the garage to look for the lawnmower 

distance

I move my hand against the suture marks that run the length of my body. It has been a year since she left, but the scar still hurts to touch. And yet, i can't help but touch it. Usually i do so several times a day, sometimes nonstop. Sometimes the urge to touch it is so strong that if i am out in public, i will run to the nearest bathroom and strip down just so i can feel those hard ridges of calcified skin. One time an older gentleman in the bathroom helped me get undressed, because he could see how desperate i was; i showed him the mark and let him touch it. The separation had hurt, even more than when we had sewn ourselves together, but the physical pain was nothing compared to the pain of her leaving. Every time i touch the wound, i wonder to myself, can she feel this? Every now and then, out of nowhere I'll get a shudder that will shoot up my entire body; it is an intense feeling, like an electrical shock, and nowhere does it feel more present than in the wound. Every time it happens, i tell myself it is because in that moment, she is touching her scar

streetcar

Samantha stood on the cramped streetcar on her way home during rush hour. She barely held on to the bar above her head to keep her stable, gripping it with her fingertips. She tried to adjust her position but there were too many other passengers around for her to move at all. A very dirty, stinky man tapped her on the shoulder. She took her earphone out and said yes? He said can i use your sleeve? He had a younger woman clutching at him from behind. They both looked at Samantha pleadingly. Yes, go ahead, Samantha said. The dirty man pulled out a little phial and sprinkled white powder on Samantha's sleeve. He took out a $100 bill and snorted the powder up his nose. His ladyfriend behind him started to jump up and down as she clutched at his shoulders, nearly smacking the other passengers around her. The dirty man then turned, spun his ladyfriend around, pulled her leggings down, and started to fuck her from behind. They bumped and knocked the passengers around them, and she began to moan louder and louder. People made subtle, annoyed faces; people looked out the windows, or up at the ceiling. Samantha brushed the remaining powder off her sleeve; she put her earphone back in and turned the volume way up

block

They brought me upstairs, out of the cellar. I hadn't seen natural light in weeks, maybe months. They sat me down and said you haven't written anything in six weeks. What's the reason for this? I said because i am working on a big project but the idea takes time to form in my head before i can write it. They looked around the room at each other and they all shook their heads. You're not taking this seriously enough, they said. Do you know what that is? they said, pointing to a giant slab of rock in the middle of the room. That's our trusty writer's block, they said. When there's a problem, we use it to take parts off the writer that aren't working or aren't necessary. Sometimes we use it to put other parts back on, they said, but in the wrong place, to encourage creativity. All we need is an axe or a sewing machine. I can do better, i said. They nodded; they were happy to hear it. They led me back down into the cellar. Get to work, or it's the writer's block for you, they yelled from the top of the stairs 

reservation

S1 and S2 waited silently outside the apartment door. They heard pots and pans clanging within. S1 put his ear to the door. He put his index finger to his mouth, which was partially obscured by a balaclava, and whispered ssshhhhh. Wait for the sink, he whispered. S2 nodded. Remember, he said, you don't have a name. S2 nodded again. He heard the sink turn on and then pulled his gun out. S2 pulled out her iPad, and S1 kicked the door open. The woman at the sink screamed, dropping a pan, spilling water everywhere, and S1 forced her to the ground. He held the gun to her head. What's your name? he said. J..Josie! she cried. What's your full name? Josie Ravchuk! S1 looked over at S2, who typed something on her iPad. She nodded, and S1 nodded back. You have a reservation at Earth and Soil Restaurant on January 18 of next year, is that correct? Josie looked puzzled. Y..yes, I do, she said. S1 knelt down beside her, and spoke quietly. Not anymore, he said. She is Josie Ravchuk now, he said, pointing at S2. It is her reservation now. Do you understand me? You will not go to that restaurant on January 18. Do you understand? Josie began to panic. What? What! No! It took me two years to get that reservation! She cried. S1 put his index finger to his lips. We know who you are. We know where you live. It's our reservation now, he said. He held the gun in front of her face. Understood? Josie shook with terror and nodded that she understood. S1 and S2 backed out of the apartment, closing the door behind them    

earth and soil

I was in the thick of it, serving a big section on a Saturday night at Earth and Soil Restaurant. I had it under control until the couple at table 34 ordered the bottle of Chateau Trepanier. I played it cool when they gave me the order, but i was shaking when i told Magritte, our sommelier, that they had ordered it. Oh mon dieu, she said. Ok, i guess i'll go get it. I said that i wanted to be the one to open it. Are you crazy? she screamed in my face, that is the most expensive bottle of wine in the entire world! I said it was my table and that i insisted that i be the one to do it, and that i had opened countless bottles throughout my life and this one would be no different. She got it for me, from the secret cellar in the basement, and told me to treat it like my first-born child. I brought it to the table and showed it to the gentleman, and he said no no, Josie will taste it. I began to cut the foil off the top, but that foil was sharp as hell and it cut me deep on the index finger, and the bottle slipped out of my hand and exploded on the floor. Everyone went white with shock. Magritte and the other servers were aghast. A drop of the wine landed on my tongue; it was the most glorious moment of my life. Without even considering an alternative i got down on my hands and knees and sucked the wine off the floor. Magritte fainted. One of the other servers crossed herself and ran away. Some of the guests shouted things that i couldn't make out. Someone stood on his chair and applauded. The couple at table 34 was silent; they watched in horror. I kept sucking and sucking. I licked the beautiful juice off the floor like a cat. Broken glass got in my mouth and sliced my gums. It brought the wine closer to my heart. I licked until the floor was almost dry, until my entire uniform was stained red. One of the other guests tapped me on the shoulder and asked if she could join me before i finished it all. With a drunken slur i said by all means, mon amour, and together we licked the floor clean 

helga the toronto fuckboi hexer! (W/ Julia Monson)

          "I noticed the little bell isn’t above the door anymore. There's no ding ding when you walk in now," Charlotte said.  

          "Too old fashioned, I've been told," Helga said. "I don't want people to think I'm looking at tarot cards or reading palms, or any other such nonsense in here." Helga lit the candles. Charlotte scratched the cross tattoo on her knuckle. 

          "Your finger, it bothers you?" Helga asked. 

          "It always tingles when I'm in here. Are you ready?" 

          "Yes. Show me what you have." 

          Charlotte put her purse on her lap and began to rummage inside. "His name is Dave," she said. 

          "Tinder?" Helga asked. 

          "No. At a bar actually, if you can believe it. My god, I'm so old." 

          "Nonsense dear. Our youthfulness is a gift to cherish. But do continue." 

          "He's a drummer, and he also works in one of those modern, hip barbershops, where everyone is young and they have man-buns. Yes, he has one." 

          "Has it gone as you expected?" 

          "Yeah. We did it the night of the date, and I haven't heard from him since. It was almost a week ago. He was kind of a weirdo. He asked me to shave his pubes right before. I was drunk so I guess I was into, but now it seems ridiculous. Wanna know why?" 

          "Tell me." 

          "To show me his Supreme tattoo. He has it on that part right above where the cock starts. In the proper red colour and everything. Too bad for him, swiping this was easy," Charlotte said, as she took a small baggie of pubic hair out of her purse and put it on the table. She also extracted a dented, empty Ace Hill can, and a Blue Jays baseball hat. "Will this do?" she asked. 

          "Oh yes," Helga said. "This will do just fine."     



Check out Julia Monson's corresponding drawing at juliamonson.com or https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba7FNb_gwbQ/?taken-by=julesmonson

two sentence horror story

she turned off the wifi, and cut the iPhone cord in half, dropping it at his feet. He let out a horrible gurgling sound and fell to his knees, as he began to bleed from his eyes 

lift

          Ivan limped from the hangar. His hips would break. His forearms would tear off. His knees would crumble into dust. He sat at the table, still dripping sweat. He twisted his arms out of his spandex suit. He had even forgotten to take off his lifting belt. 

          Coach Bonn removed a pre-wrapped bowl from the fridge. Ivan hadn't heard him come in. He popped the bowl in the microwave for one minute, and watched Ivan with his steely eyes as the bowl circulated. He put it in front of Ivan and removed the plastic wrap. Ivan recoiled as the initial wave of steam struck his face. He was used to the smell of the meat by now, but the initial shock of that strange smell always shocked him. He ate in silence. 

          Bonn sat across from him at the table and watched. Ivan looked at the fridge. The original white had become yellow; rust flaked off the door handle. He looked down at the bowl of meat and contemplated.           What is it, boy? Bonn said. 

          Who was this one? Ivan asked. 

          Bonn hesitated.  I don't like when you ask. It removes focus, Bonn said. Ivan looked at him with the pleading eyes of a child. Henrik, Bonn said.  

          Who lived down by the creek? With the Rottweiler? Ivan asked. 

          Yes, Bonn said. He was happy to give himself for us. He believes in you.  

          Ivan sat in silence. He stared at the meat. Bonn's look intensified and Ivan forced down another mouthful. Who is going to look after the dog? Ivan asked. 

          Focus, my boy. Focus. Don't concern yourself with details. Focus. On the bar. You lift. I'll take care of the rest, Bonn said. He got up and put his hand on Ivan's shoulder. His grip was powerful, and Ivan began to eat with vigor. You almost broke the snatch world record today, in training, Bonn said. You are going to win gold. There is no doubt. Focus. Eat. And Lift. I will handle the rest   

the writer

It's brilliant! The Editor said. Maddingsly was happy to hear it. You're a real writer! A one of a kind talent! We've slept on you too long! The Editor got on the phone and dialed three or four numbers and waited. Pick up, goddamnit! Ah, Henderson! Get in here! I've got this country's next great genius in my office, the Maddinglsy kid! Get in here and lets give him a deal! The Editor hung up and lit a cigar. You want one? Maddingsly said no thanks. Get ready to be happy kid, The Editor said. Let's just say if Henderson likes you you'll be laughing all the way to the bank! Henderson came in and stared at Maddingsly. He nodded and said mhmm three times. You must be Mr. Maddingsly. I'm Mr. Henderson. We've read your novel, and it's quite the feat, quite the feat indeed.  Yes, I think we can get you quite the deal, quite the deal indeed. Maddingsly smiled for the first time in a while. There is one catch though, Henderson said. This book is very dark. Very very dark. The public will feel that no sane person could have written this. What we're saying, Mr. Maddingsly, is that in order to publish your book, we would require you to kill yourself. Maddingsly looked at The Editor, who nodded uncontrollably. He looked back at Henderson. I know that's a big ask. Take a day to think about it. Take two days, Henderson said. Maddingsly left, thinking about the offer. The fall wind was brisk; he zipped up his thin jacket. The Editor popped outside and said Maddingsly! Be rest assured that if you take our deal, your whole family will be taken care of. Your whole family! He puffed on his cigar and nodded before closing the door. Maddingsly stood with the wind beating against him, thinking about the deal   

receipt

I bought a muffin at Groucho's Coffee over on Blimp Street, and after i paid, the nice cashier asked me if i wanted a receipt. I said no thank you and her demeanor changed instantly. She got very nervous and started to shake. She said you have to take your receipt, sir. I said really? Why? Who needs receipts in this day and age? And she said that her manager was a psychotic maniac who will yell and beat the employees if they don't ensure that the customers get their receipts. She said that once he even put poison on the computer keyboard, and one of the other employees' skin flaked off from her fingers and one of her lungs collapsed and she was in the hospital for a week. She shook the receipt in my face and i took it. I walked outside and bit into my muffin, getting crumbs on my face, and when i was almost at my car i looked back and she was laughing with the other cashier. On the drive home i thought long and hard about poisoned keyboards. I got home and  opened my sock drawer and pulled out my bundle of receipts. I counted them; I had over two thousand now. I stacked my new one on the very top of the pile, wrapped my elastic band around the stack, and put it back in the drawer carefully    

suit with sandals

Gonzales sat down at the bar at Hydrogen, atop the Global Bank Building. He wore his favorite brown corduroy suit, and his brown sandals. He ordered an orange juice, and the bartender made a face and poured it for him. The patrons beside him glanced over their shoulders with disdain. Eventually the manager approached, and said sir, i'm sorry but you cannot wear sandals in here. This is a fashionable place, and we have a dress code. Gonzales ignored the manager and sipped his orange juice. The manager opened his mouth to speak, but Gonzales stopped him and in his deep voice asked am i not fashionable? The manager, dumbfounded, said look at the people in here! Do you see anyone wearing a suit with sandals here?? Gonzales stood up, and the manager was taken by his height. He said, if i am the first person to do this, am i not an innovator? Am i not the very definition of fashion? Am i not a god, good sir? The manager stared at him, and for several minutes neither of them spoke or moved, as if both were transfixed by the presence of a higher power. The manager fell to his knees and said forgive me lord! I am not worthy of you! Gonzales touched his head and the manager began to cry. Everyone near the bar applauded with polite, dignified claps. Gonzales took his seat and sipped his orange juice