When I was little, I was afraid aliens were going to eat me. Of course, it was just that Twilight Zone episode I’d seen, To Serve Man, the one where a message of peace turned out to be an alien cookbook and the world was its meal, people being fattened up on a spaceship for the slaughter. They had to convince me it was just a show, a parable about humanity and all that.Continue reading “To Serve by Yash Seyedbagheri “
Everyone in this place talks about Dr. Redd. I had never wanted to talk to staff because (1) my spies would get wind of it, (2) Dr. Redd sounds crazier than the patients here and (3) he might get suspicious. Nurse Bealer, who looks like Charles Laughton on a bad day, convinced me to go. She just wanted me off the ward for an hour or so.Continue reading “Visiting Dr. Redd by Constance Woodring.”
“How are you?” has been a constant question which she learned in a course of two weeks (maybe a year, maybe six). She wondered why they kept asking her that.Continue reading “Cotard’s Delusion by Martie Carol Gonzales”
…To waste his whole Creation, or possess
All as our own, and drive as we were driven,
The punie habitants, or if not drive,
Seduce them to our Party,…from Paradise Lost by John Milton
Just outside, a late season cricket clicked in the sea grass, its song even more mournful, as it was the only sound that night. Earlier, there had been a rich silvery light cast by a full moon, but that had since been covered over by a blanket of clouds from the bay.Continue reading “Our Party by John Giarratana”
I caught her eye. Recognised a kindred spirit. Her head then converted into cruor popcorn. Colour of grey nail varnish, millet porridge. Scarlet white and woeful.
I feared I’d lose my lonesome bench for good.Continue reading “All My Darlings Waiting by Antony Osgood”
When I first saw Gordon, it was my second year at Moorebank Asylum. “Your daughter has a cancer of the mind, Mrs Davis,” the doctors had told my mother. “She’s very sick.” They stuck needles in me after tea on the first night, and for the next three months thereafter. Those doctors said it was some new-fangled, Eastern treatment for my conditions—psychosis, lunacy, neurosis . . . the list of ‘ailments’ goes on and on. After they’d stopped with the needles and Doc Taylor made note of my negligible improvements, Mother paid another thousand-or-so dollars so I could stay “just one more month.”Continue reading “The Thankless Child by Edward Hall”
You move into the world, a mind arrival, after a disturbing darkness. First you perceive outside the body visual… another odd spot on the ceiling. Peer at the shape, like an inner organ. Not the spot itself, though it has a strange form, but what hides behind it, from the writing in your dream. In this dream, you came walking through a heavy mist. You perceived yourself moving in a swirling, grey white wash of cloud come to earth. Then you entered the corporeal, inside a body walking from a car towards the front of a gated institution. You understood that you possessed the persona of a staff member, approaching daily work at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital….the hospital for the criminally insane. You walked in this persona, up a road which bridges over a dike built to repel high water, a barrier that separates the hospital from the surrounding farmland. You observed the man-made berm with the oak tree at its summit. You stepped by the sixteen-foot-high fence and the wall cameras. You pulled out an electronic fob and opened the blue iron gate, and entered the inner grounds. The pastel buildings lay about at diamond-shaped angles, over a small rise you perceived the Central Hall. You looked past the staff person’s early morning bleariness and found your own motivation for walking in his shoes: the need to know the truth about yourself. You possessed the staff’s body and followed his path, and his path led to the office of Poplar Central Ward.Continue reading “Not Criminally Responsible by Harrison Kim”
After my husband died I gained a friend, Kafka is his name. One would suppose that having a cockroach is somewhat akin to having lice or genital crabs, a tabooed parasite that will ultimately tarnish a lady’s reputation and habits if discovered, but Kafka is a special kind of companion. His favourite place is atop the kitchen radio where he habitually gyrates to Jazz FM in the early hours of the morning, watching me drink cheap Chardonnay and speaking to me reassuringly in the sweet-butter voice of Jeremy Irons. Before I was enlightened to his more practical uses, I admittedly went through a spell of being rather ruthless; I wanted to kill him, but in the most decent, kindest way for everyone involved. So, naturally, I concluded the obvious. Flushing. Yes, flushing him down the toilet in a vortex, much like a flume at Water World except with feces and used tampons at the end, a cockroach’s paradise. So I tried. I dutifully dropped him in the toilet and flushed, watching rather sadly as he spun. But the little chap just coughed, spluttered softly, and crawled back up. I discovered after that they can live for up to a week without their head, a month without food, and can hold their breath for forty minutes at a time; a species that would undoubtedly survive an apocalypse. They are resilient, gregarious creatures. So of course, in time, Kafka soon had a friend, a wife perhaps, and spawned a tribe of lovers and cousins and acquaintances and one-night-stands. I began to realise Kafka’s army were quite efficient at cleaning up my often neglected messes. Far more so than my old Henry Hoover friend, with his can-do eyes and pleasing suction trunk, that now just sits looking forlorn, gathering dust. Cockroaches eat crumbs, dust, hair, sewage, decaying matter, and even each other; they are the perfect companions to a less than perfect housewife. Someone like me needs a helping hand once in a while. Try as I might I can never keep on top of the housework for long, being too easily lured by afternoon wine and my artistic pursuits. George, my late husband, used to (rather too sternly, if I do say so) remind me to ‘CLEAN YOUR F*#&ING ACT UP’, but there’s no one here anymore to keep me in check.Continue reading “The Metamorphosis by Jess McColl”
Quan falls into the patient breakfast line at the hospital for the criminally insane, he peers at the kitchen staff through pushed in black glasses, grips his tray in both hands, nose sniffing right over its plastic surface, checking to perceive odors and blemishes. He mentally calculates the time distance between himself and the food. “Maybe ninety-eight and a half seconds.”
All day long is about Roxxi’s wants and needs. Mrs. Lombard watches the sun stream through translucent curtains in her kitchen, feels a pliable breeze. She reflects the day: Roxxi believes there’s a syringe lodged in her cervix. Mrs. Lombard and all the staff had laughed. It’s crazy Roxxi’d say such a thing. But here, comforted by early evening light enveloping her home, while Roxxi shoots heroin “made from tar and apple cider vinegar” (Roxxi reports) into her fifty-something veins, Mrs. Lombard’s thoughts on her reflective pedestal stream in like the light traveling through the kitchen: Well Roxxi is a product of the system. Yes she is an intravenous drug user. But she is a product of The System that got her addicted in the first place.