Tag Archives: fiction

Literary Fiction Literature

My Life by Hasti Abbasi

They say they won’t admit you here, Dad whispers.Hasti Abbasi
“Ahmad, for God’s sake! I’m dying,” Mum shouts.
“Just do something! ― God.”
God is one of those words I’ve heard a lot since, I remember.
“Sakineh, stop walking,” Dad says.
“Don’t even mention my name you bastard ― A-Good-For-Nothing husband ― Nurse, please do something, my child will die if you don’t hospitalize me ― if you know God!” Mum begs.
“I’m so sorry but there’s nothing that can be done ― there’s no Gynaecologist in the hospital right now as Dr. Amini left two hours ago, and Dr. Karami won’t arrive until tomorrow morning. She’s in Turkey right now.”
“There should be something you can do. What do you mean there’s no Gynecologist in the hospital right now?” Dad has anger and depression in his voice.
“The private hospital is less than three kilometres away,” a quiet voice says.
“What don’t you understand? I DO NOT HAVE MONEY.”
Money is the second word I remember having heard, a lot.
There must be some relation between God and Money.
It’s getting hot in here.

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Experimental Science Fiction

Place Theory by Tantra Bensko

tantra-benskoRemember when the death of award-winning journalist, Claire Daleen was in the news a couple years ago? She was found decapitated, with her ears cut off. And then – nothing. There was a case that just got started two years ago but was thrown out of court. There were lots of deaths at that time, but only a few rumors online about how they were all related to the court case. Then, the journalists who put those pieces up died too, and all references were scrubbed from the net.

I couldn’t let it go.

I had a suspicion.

You’ve gotten this in your email folder, probably spam, because it was sent out automatically to everyone. People need to know. You are being led to believe our Counter-Intelligence is innocent, but I tell you they are using vile methods of indoctrinating people beyond anything you can imagine. They’ve always told gullible people lies, knowing those victims would, with good intentions, disseminate the disinformation for them. The CIA owns the media under the Mockingbird Program. The news hoaxes stories all the time using green-screen methodology. Even voice-to-skull technology has been in use for nearly a century.

The facts speak for themselves. But the material I was able to obtain about the case was heavily marked with thick black marker. Some of it was possible to read through that, and other parts I reconstructed the best I could, using only common sense and imagination of a layperson. Perhaps too many parts have I left redacted. I know it can get frustrating to read them, but it would have been more annoying if I hadn’t filled in most redactions with my own words. I know my reconstruction doesn’t sound like the actual legal jargon but I’m not familiar with it, so just consider it as if you were reading a Alternate World in which lawyers spoke like you and I. Work with me on this. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Please don’t look too carefully into who I am. I don’t have close family or I wouldn’t have taken the chance of doing this, for fear of retribution. I gave my pets up for adoption so they’d be safe. But still….

I am not receiving any money for this reconstruction. I’m just passionate about truth. I don’t know anything about law, and I don’t want to bring suspicion on myself by looking things up.

I’m just displaying the folder for documents related to the case and laying them on the table for you. Read the recording of the presentation of the documents on their table. The first is Claire Daleen’s log she created for just this occasion. She was well respected as a journalist for her clear thinking. Eventually during the course of this log, you can tell she was indoctrinated by the Counter-Intelligence ploy in question. Think what you will. Just don’t let a lifetime of propaganda sway you to knee-jerk reactions against this truth.


Court recording of evidence presented in the Charles Dundsworth Case, as recorded by court secretary Becky Albernath:

Attorney James Ancel REDACTED to the document presented below, Exhibit A, transcription from the handwritten notebook of Claire Daleen, and filed with the notebook in one envelope. The notes were found in her pocket. The booklet has a hand-made cover with the words “READ ME, POLICE: Prepared for Court Evidence.”

March 30 1 P.M. I, CLAIRE DALEEN, am recording this to be read in court as official statement in the future, and recommend that an autopsy of my body be done, if I die with this thing undiagnosed, by an impartial doctor. Surely other people have plants growing from their ears as well. It can’t just be me. I don’t even know if they are plants, because they can’t be pulled out, or burned or snipped. My husband RICHARD PHILIP DALEEN, has tried, reluctantly, upon my request. The tendrils move and align with something, I assume the sun, perhaps influenced by ionics. In fact, they are moving right now.

They possibly move toward certain ideas. When I’ve learned certain new facts, they’ve seemed to grow, though that is hard to tell for sure, small as they are, and nearly invisible. They are tropic towards people speaking on certain topics, even on the news. They are sensitive to forces of indoctrination and any awakenings to the evil of those forces.

I’m careful to hide this notebook at all times from Richard, so he won’t worry. He is gone often traveling Internationally with a job so secret he can’t tell me who he works for, leaving me alone with this monstrosity. He loves me as much as ever, if not more so. I can tell because he is giving me diamond ear-rings lately, huge ones that he wants me to wear all the time to prove to the world that he loves me in spite of the articles I wrote about social engineering by the CIA, using the Mockingbird Project reporters and newscaster, to convince people they should hate the countries our government decides need to be our new enemies.

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Dangerous Writing Literary Fiction Memoir

Dollarbirds by Melissa Ashley


24 March

Early Wednesday morning my sister drives me to the private hospital. My name’s called in the waiting room and I’m led through double doors, shown into a small office. A nurse dressed in green questions me about fasting, allergies, former operations. I’m weighed, ‘so they give you the right amount of anaesthetic,’ and handed blue-green scrubs for my hair and feet. I remove all clothing except my underpants and am tied into a gown. The nurse clips a nametag around my wrist, joking about not getting me muddled up with somebody else.

‘It happens, you know.’

I nod, recalling a news item about a hand transplant in which the patient’s left hand was joined onto his right arm and vice versa.

She leans forward, intimate. ‘I worked in Saudi Arabia. The female patients can’t be seen by the male surgeons. They wait on the stretchers like dead bodies, completely covered. Once, we performed neurosurgery on a cardiac patient.’

‘How terrible,’ I offer. How feeble I sound.

She squeezes my hand. ‘You’ve made the right choice with Dr Knight. He’s very good. The best. Like an artist.’

I’m moved to a curtained room with Ronnie to wait. Dr Knight breezes in. That’s his air. I’m told to take off my gown (my sister steps outside) to pose for several ‘before’ photographs, shot with a digital camera, which I’m shown immediately on the LCD. With a felt pen, Dr Knight draws crude lines, circles, and dots on my breasts and nipples. Nervous, I’m prone to gush nonsensically, but I recognise this part of the procedure as crucial. I keep still and steady my breathing. Picture what my artist-surgeon sees. Make myself stop.

I’m helped to ease the gown back on. The rest of the team arrives; pressure stockings are rolled onto my feet and legs, my bag put in a locker, my sister sent home with a kiss. The anaesthetist introduces himself and asks about allergies and surgical history. He’s tricked me, painlessly sliding a cannula into the back of my hand and organising the tubing, lining up a syringe.

I wake up near the nurses’ station. They’re talking loudly and taking food from the fridge, spooning coffee. There’s a commercial radio station on—the offending machine sits above the microwave—playing easy tunes interspersed with talkback. Shush, I want to say. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep? A hair-netted nurse checks how I’m doing. I tell her there’s a magazine in my bag, would she mind getting it out for me to read? I’m terribly bored. ‘You have to rest,’ she says. I’ve no idea of the time. After an age she returns, says my sister’s on her way. I’m supported to hobble into another recovery area, TV blaring, and supplied with a plastic triangle of ham sandwiches, asked how I like my tea.


25 March


For Ronnie’s house-warming present, I had a print of First Fleet lieutenant George Raper’s ‘Dollarbird’ watercolour professionally framed. I bought it at the National Library of Australia’s gift shop, while in Canberra to attend a symposium about Angela Carter and fairy tales. She’s hung it above the light switch in the guest bedroom, on the piece of wall jutting from the built-in wardrobe. I’m surprised. I really thought she liked it. She certainly behaved as if she did when she unwrapped the paper. She’s my sister; I know her expressions. Maybe she re-evaluated her enthusiasm when she got it home and found it didn’t quite match her city apartment’s wheat and linen colour scheme. The turquoise of the bird’s breast feathers and the indigo of its wing tips, I’d thought the perfect accent, given her rhapsodies on interior design’s reclamation of teal. Maybe the orange–red beak put her off. I’m confused. Aren’t birds all the rage in Better Homes and Gardens, Old World watercolours with that stiff, flat quality? Is the frame too ostentatious? Whatever it is, I’ve got something wrong. In my drugged-out state, disappointment transforms into rejection: I’ve failed her.

I stand at the half-length mirror in the bathroom. I’m general-anaesthetic yellow, like they’ve overloaded my liver. Powered me down and booted me back up. So sedated that if I sign something legal in the next twenty-four hours, I can’t be bound to it. I undo my pyjama shirt and unclip the hook and eye fastenings on the surgical bra. It slips off. Underneath, I’m wound with a thick bandage, over the top of gauze and surgical strips. I’m definitely smaller. The Elastoplast bandage is like the ruched bodice of a sundress, a signature item of femininity I’ve never been able to pull off. Strapless, I square my shoulders. I can’t quite express how minus two kilograms of breast matter feels—the tissue is mostly fat and glands and has always just been there, dragging at me, a saddle of flesh. I put the bra and my top back on, wincing at the tenderness in my lower right breast. I check the time in the kitchen but it’s another hour until I can take more pain killers.

I walk dazedly to the guest room and climb in bed. I rest and sleep propped on a pile of body contour cushions. On the bedside table are fibre supplements, zinc for the scarring, anica drops—I’m fiercely against homeopathy but bought it on the plastic surgeon’s advice—Di-Gesic, Diazepam, Panadeine, cold Lady Gray tea, tissues, Anna Karenina, Vanity Fair.

Raper’s dollarbird perches on a stub of branch that’s been stuck into a round of bare grass. The bird’s orange-red beak is parted, its short, thick neck inclined towards a large mosquito, which it’s about to pluck from the air, a style of representation common to the era. Apart from the open mouth, there’s little movement in the body, most likely painted from a corpse or skin. The library dates composition at 1788, but with a tentative, bracketed question mark. I forgive the image its flatness. These are early days in the field of ornithology, before Audubon’s wild arrangements of stuffed birds made to strike life-like poses using wire, branches, fruits and moss. Before British taxidermist John Gould, who classified camphor-preserved hummingbirds for twenty years prior to crossing the Atlantic to observe a living one. Not that you could tell from the lithographs he produced. The eyes of Raper’s dollarbird are large, almost black, with a gold-brown ring. The feathers under its neck are royal blue, as are its wings, except for the splash of white in the centre, from where it derives its name; apparently the spot’s the same size as an American silver dollar. The bird’s body is turquoise, in shades that encompass the stone’s pale milky teal as well as the Aztec blue more commonly associated with the colour. Here Raper’s brushstrokes are made with a single bristle. It reminds me of a schoolchild’s felt-tip colouring, where, instead of rubbing the pen backwards and forwards, the child creates a series of closely crabbed lines. The flat, stout tail is lifelike, but the orange claws and feet are too small for a creature that only expends itself at roost or on the wing.

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Interviews Literary Fiction

Interview with Kris Saknussemm


From The Archives
In January 2006 I met with ZANESVILLE author Kris Saknussemm outside Readings Bookstore on Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne, Australia.

I’ve been a heavy user of the Internet for about 11 years now and I have met hundreds of people online. Kris is the first person I actually had the courage to meet in person. I still felt dodgy, hanging around outside the bookstore waiting for him. I had no idea at all what he looked like. Despite the press clippings I had collected, a photograph of the author remained elusive. I mused to myself that perhaps Kris was Clearfather himself, a master reality hacker who creates his own past and controls his own future.

Zanesville sure hacked my mind, its thoughtware continued to alter my perception for many days after putting the book down. I felt I knew him and what to expect but I had no idea who he was. Other guys who looked like writers were hanging around outside the bookshop as well; I just could not bring myself to approach and ask – hey man, are you Kris? Too dodgy for my liking. Thankfully I was not waiting long when a guy who I had never seen before but looked very familiar walks on up and says – are you Brentley? – o good, lets go eat. A few weeks earlier I received an email from him saying that he thought Retort Magazine was cool and would I like to have a look at his new book ZANESVILLE. Of course I would, that crazy duck on the website freaked me out. Besides, who can resist the catch line from an advertisement I had seen – Better to lose an election than an erection! After many lengthy email discussions we agreed it would be cool to meet next time he was in town, and after embarking on his hyperactive neuron altering text I was looking very forward to the opportunity.

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