Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Bus God

Friday night, Victor’s dad told him he wasn’t giving him a lift home from school anymore, so he took the 75 line that ran past his school. That was how he met the bus god.

There wasn’t anybody on the bus but the two of them, not even the late shift crowd: janitors and mall cops, women in hoodies with sleeping toddlers. In the disabled seating area sat a man that wore layers of clothes worn to the point of brownness. It was impossible to tell what color his skin was, and he wore a knit cap to cover his hair and UFO-catcher sunglasses that swallowed half his face. From the time Victor boarded the bus stop to the very end, he never stopped grinning.

Victor, obeying the natural laws of public transit, took a seat all the way in the back. Around the stop for the light rail, the man pulled the cord and shuffled off, grinning back at Victor. That was all.

Next week dad chuckled at his reluctance and told him public transit built character.

“Or maybe it’ll teach you initiative to get off your ass and get a job, so you can buy your own car,” he grunted.

Victor said nothing. Once dad was in one of his moods, there was no talking him out of it.

The bus was crowded that night, and the only empty seat was near the man. He seemed to recognize Victor, his grin only got wider and he patted the seat. Victor opted to stand, but the next stop lurched so badly he fell down.  The driver hollered at him to sit, and Victor obeyed drivers.

The man’s stench was almost solid. “Howdy,” he said.

Victor pretended to read.

The man nodded at the driver’s seat. “I did that.”

Victor nodded politely, avoiding eye contact.

“I kin do what I want,” the man continued, as if they had been having a conversation for hours, “I’m the god of buses.” He laughed like a drain, shoulders shaking with mirth. Victor moved slightly to avoid being touched.

The man leaned forward suddenly, laughter gone. “I made the bus crowded,“ he whispered, “so you would have to sit. I can do that too.”

Victor considered pulling the cord, but the landscape passing by was sketchy and unfamiliar.

The man watched him triumphantly. “I’m telling you son. I can do what I want. You ‘n me? We’re gonna be good friends.”

Someone vacated the seat behind them, and left a load of fast-food wrappers. In the blink of an eye, the man pounced on it, scarfing half-eating fries, sucking at the dregs of ice in the cup. He smacked his lips obscenely and looked and Victor.

“Good,” he said, “gooooood.”

Victor’s stop took too long to arrive. The doors seemed like they didn’t want to wait for him, scraping closed almost before he left. His dad laughed at how he smelled like a cough syrup cocktail.

Victor came to dread Fridays. He couldn’t concentrate in class anymore, but if he dropped it his father would take it as further proof that he had no academic future. He was also beginning to think the man on the bus was invisible to anyone else. Any response besides irritated silence to the man’s rambling was quickly jeered down by the other passengers, as if Victor had been the one pontificating on where the choicest poontang was in old town.

One night he boarded the bus and didn’t see the bus god. Breathing a sigh of relief, he found himself a seat in the back and opened a book. The bus rocked and the lights dimmed and Victor decided to close his eyes, for just a minute.

The smell woke him. He jolted awake, disoriented. For a minute it seemed like nothing had changed, the same passengers were on, looking out the window or at their phones, the same landscape hurrying by. Then he looked at his watch and found it was 4:32 am.

“I did that.” Crusty breath was in his ear.

Victor flinched, and looked everywhere but behind him.

“You gon’ look at me. We gonna talk. Talk a good long time.  You’n me.”

Victor pulled the cord and nothing happened. No ding, no “stop requested” light in the front.

It was past midnight. His dad was probably furious, though that was the least of his problems at the moment. Victor was angry suddenly. At his dad, at the bus god, at everything.

“You gon’ look at me.”

Victor resolutely opened the book in his lap and started to read.

He could hear the dirty man rustle around the seat, could practically feel his stench, but he didn’t look behind him, or even at their reflections in the window. The bus man belched, sang random off-key snatches that were almost songs, and once or twice even laid a hand on Victor.

Victor waited for six a.m. The sun would rise, and turn this all real again. The landscape only looked the same because the dark hid it.

Six came and went. Darkness still. No one got on, no one got off. They never stopped.

The man was making a rhythmic whistling noise, as if snoring. Victor didn’t want to chance that he was only pretending to sleep, and fake-stretched. With one eye on the driver, he snapped his hand behind him and found a throat.

Suddenly he was on the bus god, hands around his throat, thumbs digging into his windpipe. The bus god’s glasses mirrored Victor back at himself, he made a choking sound like a laugh. Victor tried to trap him with his weight, avoid movement that might attract attention. He hated the little man with his whole body, and hated him until he went limp.

The bus slowed to a crawl.

“End of the line,” the driver called out. Victor collected his things and left the body on the seat, not caring if anyone found it. It took three hours to walk home.

His dad opened the door.

“No,” was the first thing out of his mouth.

“Dad I’m—”

“No,” his father said firmly, and shut the door. Victor heard the deadbolt slide into place.

None of their neighbors would let him in. He tried calling friends until his battery died, but they wouldn’t pick up. The door at school was locked now.

Sitting on the bus stop bench, Victor stared at his feet. He couldn’t walk anymore. As if it read his mind, a bus pulled up to the stop. It stood with the door open while he stared at his feet.

“Well,” the driver called, “ain’t you getting on?”

It was the first time someone had acknowledged him in days. Victor almost ran into the bus.

The driver wrinkled his nose and gestured to the back. Victor fitted his body into the very back corner seat and rode the bus. Sometimes it stopped and people got on, sometimes they got off.  He wasn’t asked to leave. Right when his hunger pains became unbearable, someone abandoned half a tray of chicken nuggets and a can of Rockstar with an inch of liquid in the bottom. Victor approached it slowly, looking for anyone to tell him to stop. No one even looked up.

Victor smuggled it back to his seat and ate.


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Mount Presidio Ranger Dispatch

There are no houses on Mount Presidio.

To repeat, there are no houses on Mount Presidio.

There are no log cabins, chalets, hunter’s lodges, skier’s lodges, mansions, or forts.

There are no residents of Mount Presidio. There are no houses on Mount Presidio therefore no one can live there.

Radio contact with anyone attempting to climb Mount Presidio must be pursued cautiously. If they start to describe terrain that does not exist, it is a prank and you must disconnect. If your radio contact begins to change pitch, tone, accent, speed, or resonance without due cause, you must disconnect. If your radio contact begins screaming, ask if they can calm down and describe what they see. If they cannot, you must disconnect. If what they are describing does not exist, you must disconnect.

There are no search parties formed at the Mount Presidio Ranger Station. To repeat, you are not to form any kind of rescue party: one-, two- or multiple-person rescue parties are all equally prohibited. You are not to risk your life, or the life of any other ranger on duty, to pursue any kind of mountain phenomena.

Rangers are to treat the land from elevation 220 meters-onward as a death zone. Nothing can support itself past that point, and attempting to do so is unnecessarily risking your life or the life of your partner. Remember, there are no houses on Mount Presidio, and therefore nowhere to shelter. Any and all rescue parties continuing past that point will be counted as lost. No rescue party continuing past that point has ever returned successfully.

Do not rely on the weather on Mount Presidio. We lie on a temperate climate zone, but weather behaves differently on the mountain, up to and including rapid shifts in temperature, sudden strong winds, freak hail- thunder- and snowstorms have all been observed.

There is no native reservation on Mount Presidio. There has never been any archeological evidence found of a tribe living on Mount Presidio. Any elderly native man wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt and red moccasins should not be taken as a guide. No matter how desperate you might feel, do not follow this man.

Remember, the Presidio ranger station has had a hard run of safety violations. You are not just responsible for your life, but the lives of your co-workers and the integrity of the station as a whole.

The Mount Presidio Station has had has had a total of forty-three ranger disappearances since 1965. Don’t be number forty-four.

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The shaman of the hill people prodded a pot with one finger. The hill people called themselves “All-in-one” because the founder had been enlightened from his body by the very sight of god. The shaman’s name was Boman, because he was born in the fifth month. He had started a fire of twigs in an earthen pot and laced with semi-lethal herbs and bits of shell in order to create a call point. He put his mouth slightly into the pot.

“Can you hear me?” he called, “I was saying…hello?”

Contact with god had been sketchy as of late. Boman scratched his privates, scrotal piercing clacking against his fingernails, and plotted what to do next.

God did not live very far away, but was hard of hearing.  Boman prodded the fire with his finger one more time and then gave up on it, leaving it to burn itself out. He had been participating in what he found a lively discussion, over the new widow in the village and how many years she had left before becoming pendulous.
Several warriors passed him on the path and nodded out of deference. They squeezed to the side as he passed, so as not to step on his shadow and become poisoned. When Klee the messenger came winging to his hut, Boman was relaxing with a mug of hot root water prepared by his youngest girl-wife.

“Father,” Klee gasped, “visitors from another place.”

Boman motioned him to sit. It was not polite to be seen in too much of a hurry when addressing a shaman.

“Perhaps this was a dream,” he offered, “or some kind of sunspell. You may be tired from overwork.”

Klee thrust forward his wrist. “Is that a dream, father?”

Around his wrist was a string of beads, much like the traders from China had brought in Boman’s father’s generation. They were cherry-red rocailles, poorly manufactured. They still had razor edged mold-lines . He clucked his tongue. “Traders?”

Boman grunted. “I should think not, with material quality like this. Do they require photographs?”

Klee dug into his chin as a sign of disagreement.

“Well,” Boman said, “what did we do to warrant attention?”

“They were headed for god’s hill, father. I saw them.”

Boman swept up a handful of bones from his last meal, cracked them in hand, and threw them into the lamp beside himself. The flames turned red, and he nodded in satisfaction.

Boman stood and patted Klee. “You are good to tell me this. Go home and worry not.”

Klee fled again along the messenger’s path and Boman was served dinner by Boul, his man-wife.

The next morning he lounged beside the chicken coop, scratching the flies from his skin and pondering philosophical questions, such as whether a man who imagined up children could be held accountable for not providing adequate lands for his dream-brood. He wondered whether god would side with the man, or his dream-wives.

A boom reverberated throughout the jungle, felt more than heard, displacing birds from the trees. Boman did not stir.

Later that afternoon, he tried summoning god again. He caught a primate from the trees and strangled its screaming throat with his bare hands. He slit the abdomen and in it he crammed squash seeds, sulfur, and a human tooth. The corpse kicked for a while, and the sacred words he had written on the ground beneath it glowed faint blue in the sun, but nothing else was forthcoming. Boman wiped a quantity of snot from his nose with his forearm and dawdled his heels in the heat. The new widow crossed his yard on her way to the well, still dressed in purple mourning clothes. He grinned and offered her his maleness. Good things lay in the future.

That night his wives went to the community hut to weave their festival skirts. Boman lured a bright jungle fowl from the trees with sweet words and then cooked it with his breath. The supper was good, but could have used salt. As he sucked the last drippings from his fingers, a man whiter than flint stone burst into the clearing.
He was tall, with hair of bright yellow and eyes like the summer sky. He was dressed inappropriately for the region, in a tan suit of short sleeves and pants that only exposed his skin to the insects. His white flesh had been bitten to pinkness already.

The man spotted Boman and stumbled toward him. “g’d,” he gasped, “gee-zus, g’d. Halp.”

He tripped and fell prone before the shaman, a dreadful social faux pas, but Boman supposed outsiders weren’t used to the niceties of civilized company.

“May I be of assistance?” he asked politely.

The man babbled nonsense syllables. “Anth-row-pollo-jist, dock-tor. Eydol. Ecks-sped-isshun. Kawl halp.”
Boman wondered if he understood the people’s language. Maybe he didn’t even speak a language, and tossed out imitative chirps like a monkey. The white man suddenly sat up unnaturally straight, eyes and mouth drawn open to the spilling point. Boman watched with mild interest as the man suddenly jackknifed into a series of convulsions, spitting froth and sounds that sounded very much like words but weren’t. the man sprawled out full length and was suddenly still. Boman passed gas and scratched himself again.

The man sat up again, body oddly limp as if hanging from something invisible. Blue aether spilled from his orifices, and his movements were jerky, unnatural.

“Now,” he said, “what is this about a widow?”

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He was the first being ever created. Therefore he was called One.

There wasn’t much amusement to be had, so One passed the time by immolating himself. He did not know death, and so would incarnate again immediately. He would then laugh a short, proud laugh and do it again.

Everything changed when One found another being. It looked much like him, only slower and duller.

One asked of him, “what are you?”

The other said, “I am man.”

One said, “I shall call you Second, for that is all you are.”

One watched Second with unease. He had grown so used to being the only being in creation, he wasn’t sure what to make of the man. Second wasn’t sure what to make of One, either. He suffered from strange maladies called hunger, thirst, and fatigue, while One remained ever-energetic and alert. To One it meant his companion got slower and stupider the longer he spent with it. He grew bored and cruel.

“I have a game,” he announced, and proceeded to bash his own head in with a rock. His death was met with alarm from Second, and a strange wailing. One had never heard an uglier sound.

He waved away Second’s bleating. “Peace, peace, I’m up.”

Second squalled and pushed him away. “But you were still! How is it you were able to get up again?”

“Oh,” One said breezily, “I can do that without even thinking about it. It must seem a little trick to you.”

With some hesitation, Second picked up the same rock One had bludgeoned himself with. With a single crack, Second lay dead at One’s feet, and One was beside himself with mirth. This lasted until the next day, when he met another other.

“What are you?” he cried.

The other said, “I am the son of man.”

One said, “Ah, that is too difficult. You were after me as well, so I will call you Second also.”

The second Second ended himself much the same as his father, and One went on his way, chuckling. But his peace did not last. Soon there were other-others, son-of-son-of-man, brother-of-son-of-man, nephew-of-son-of-brother-of-son-of-man and so forth, though he called them all Second. He tricked them all in much of the same manner of the first Second, but they kept coming. Though their deaths still brought him bottomless mirth, he began to hate the Second and long for the peace of the first day, when he had been alone.

Working fastidiously, he sought to drive man to extinction by his own hand. Though it took eons of time, one dim day he did succeed and stand alone in the wastes. The land was no longer young and green as it had been, but it was his alone. That made it good.

Then One found out something terrible. He knew loneliness. All other of man’s maladies had passed him by, but this One had gone unchecked for he had always been surrounded by man’s children. Now even the pleasure of killing himself no longer brought the joy it once had. He knew boredom again. He knew cruelty. And in his cruelty, he brought forth the only thing worse than himself.

And he told it, “You shall be called One, for you are the first.”

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Book report by Aiden Rigby, age 7

I am Aidan Rigby I am 7 and this is my book report


This is a drawing of daddy’s book I took for the report. He does not know I took the book but I promise to give it back right after I finished. It is made of leather and kind of stinks but it’s got a funny little face on it.

Daddy brought this book home when I was five. Mommy said your not bringing that in here and he said yes I am and she says over my dead body you basturd. Mommy went to sleep for a while after that.

The book is hard to read cause its not written in American but after awhile I could read it anyway but there are lots of big words I keep having to look up like squamous, which is the name of my new pet worm. Dady couldn’t read the book either at first but my grnapa taught him how.


My granpa smells like too much aftershave and used to bring me bags of licorise but then he went to sleep for a while. Now mommy talks with granpa’s voice and she teaches daddy about the book too. It’s pretty much the same as it was before, they even still jump on the bed Saturday night and but daddy isn’t so happy about it.

Reading this book makes my head ache because the words won’t stay on the page and the book smells kind of funny like that time I held a magnifying glass on a Barbie. Daddy says it will open a door, I guess because the bathroom door gets sticky sometimes and won’t open.sometimes the words make a face and it talks to me and says that if we team up we can beat my granpa. I like that because I don’t think it’s fair that he always wins at chess.

The book doesn’t have animals or knock-knock jokes which I like, but it does have pictures even though some of them are scary and have people bits. The words are very boring and it was probably written by someone in a boring suit with a brown tie. I would give this book a big fat D for dumb, because it doesn’t try to teach me anything useful and it keeps making screaming noises. If you liked this book you’re probly boring too, and you’d probly also like a fork in the eye.


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