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Flash Fiction: The Spider and Salt Hearts: A Fragment

The Spider and Salt Hearts: A Fragment

The spider and salt hearts were retrieved from the 17th lacustrine vault of the robots, and it is to the robots with their worship of Quaterniana in all its varieties that we must direct our thanks for the majority of the images herein. In all fairness, I, the author, should now answer your questions on the relationship between the robots and trains (in which year of the occupation, for instance, did maps of the perimeter of the Green Zone first omit the railroad station that nestled so lovingly between the Isolation Hospital and the Iraqi Dates Commission? and why do the sedimentary tunnels three leagues beneath the Tigris and Euphrates not crumble as the trains howl through?…in that perfect darkness, skull pressed to the window of your Pullman car, you could almost hear it, listening your way past knocking pistons, through the giddy tweet and hiss of live steam, beyond the vastly dulled ticking of giant wheels and the whoosh! of the firebox—the pleasant slippy sound of the bivalves (Pseudodontopsis and Corbicula are fellow travelers, though ideologically suspect and not to be trusted with your best secrets) crawling up the sedimentary walls with sighs of pleasure at the exhaust steam that blasted them into an indestructible enamel…but that is only one theory) however, I’ve forgotten too much, and here in my boxcar it’s all I can do to listen to the same scratched sarabande, the vinyl stuttering and popping in rage at the corvid quill I inflict (rooks aplenty split cuntwise by my Beretta 92F, which even now only pretends to sleep beneath my left hand; as the safety clicks off, my right hand takes no notice, preoccupied as it is with these scribblings), and in any case, you’d sing out your canary soul the moment the interrogator whisked the cloth from his cranial drills and water pics. In lieu of information, shall I offer you my sufferings? But this sadness of mine no longer pleases—your yawns rattle a last tacked-up shred of tympanum from a thousand miles off—and END TIMES, after all, provides its own strange happiness. Like the humans, the robots will fall victim to the sycamores and perish, but not before you and I, my child—for I have seen the future.

mark edmund doten

flash fiction in Artvoice

Literary Buffalo occasionally includes flash fiction alongside the poetry, features, interviews, and book reviews. Literary Buffalo seeks submissions of flash fiction, meaning complete stories running 500 words or less. Stories longer than 500 words will not be considered. Send submissions to flash fiction editor Greg Gerke at or mail them to Flash Fiction Editor, Artvoice, 810 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14202. Please include SASE for return of manuscript.

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