original fiction


The Duck

This story was originally published in Writer Online, January 31, 2001

A light bulb salesman fell in love with a duck.

He followed the duck to Canada in his little red van, the light bulbs rattling and clicking in their cases.

Past trout, moose, and grizzly bears, and into the tundra, he drove the van, calling to his duck beloved, "Sarah, my darling, will you come to me, will you lay your small head against my knees?"

Driving, sleeping, he dreamt of the duck, of kissing her webbed feet, of laughing together by the lakeside, of holding a can of beer for her to drink from in the summer night.

The duck felt charmed but harassed, the duck felt pity: her name was not Sarah anyway, and she had another lover: the cold and resolute magnetic North Pole, female, indissoluble, old as earth.

The duck flew on, admiring the showy dress her lover put on, the Aurora Borealis.

The salesman drove his van onto an ice floe, took all his light bulbs out and connected them with wires to his car battery; and, floating in the Arctic sea, revving his engine, he competed with the Aurora Borealis, as long as his gas tank held out.

After I Stopped Screaming

The blonde in the big ape's hand. Long before you had Rita Hayworth on that bed in a negligée or Marilyn standing over that grate with her skirt billowing up, there were all those pictures and posters and billboards of me, the blonde in the big ape's hand.

Fiction by Pamela Sargent


He told again the story of Bates, and then the one about himself—Jansen — and then about Gerhardie. Stacks just sat as always with his chin resting on the head of his cane, listening, sometimes grunting a bit. He told like beads Bates with that leg and rest of him you could put a knife right into and not feel a thing. He told of himself, Jansen, who had crept up to slit a disloyal throat mostly out of curiosity, damn the risk. And he told Gerhardie, goddam handsome bastard who had done fine, not a flicker of doubt through the whole struggle. The handsome, in Jansen's opinion, tended to be like that.

Fiction by Brian Evenson

Measures of Sorrow

I’d taken an apartment on the wrong side of the park. This was pre-gentrification, before community empowerment, when the neighborhood’s leading commercial enterprise was No-Eyed Jack, a blind barber who cut hair for tourists. My acquaintances were quick to note other local resources: “a wide array of pawn shops”; “check cashing on every corner”; “national leadership in tire irons per capita.” Their warnings didn’t faze me. I was a born-and-bred New Yorker, after all, city-savvy as a street urchin, and I looked forward to the cachet that my address—on an avenue named for an obscure president and then renamed for an obscure civil rights leader—might carry with left-wing coeds at Greenwich Village parties. Besides, it was all I could afford.

Fiction by Jacob M. Appel


My walking tour of the southern states got messed up after Texas. I stayed too long in Amarillo with a trucker and got a ride to the border. I waited for an hour and another trucker came along. Next thing I knew I was sitting on a lawn in a hick town somewhere. Everyone who walked by was drunk, or off somehow. Even their shadows were off. One guy walked up to me and said, "You sleep with niggers, don't you?"

Fiction by Sharon Mesmer.