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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Poems by Ryan Wood:


You wake up in the morning
And think of yesterday.
The day before the day before;
How things went wrong in every way.

Your thoughts pile up in plastic sacks,
In months and weeks and days.
'Today will turn out differently':
A bloody stupid thing to say.

And true to form, ennui descends;
It doesn't give an inch.
A bottleneck of images:
Each painful flashback makes you flinch.

When walking down the street, you think
You need a change of luck.
Pathetic fallacy kicks in
And then you know you're really fucked.

You're soaked right through: your clothes, your brain;
A saturated clown.
The solid traffic splashes past;
Your thought processes slow right down.

The whole world turns to shades of grey:
A never-ending stream;
A constipated monochrome;
A visual, dreary, muffled scream.


The crescent of a dismal planet widens;
the culmination of a grotesque cosmic striptease.

Descending through its upper reaches,
the cloud fades into smoke
in seamless transformation;
a study in obscurity.

Gradually, lights emerge
and make us wish again for fog.
The dirty curtain rises on a stricken scene,
a sprawling mass of glare and movement.

For this is the City.
This monstrous metropolis, more alive
than those who live within it:
a profane miracle of artificial evolution.

In this itching, ticking sprawl,
there are no streets, no houses;
just mass and space.
Moving, beating edifices melt into the horizontal.
All is one.

The City has no addresses, no direction.
You walk, and walk, and eventually
you arrive.
Where: who knows?
Who cares?

In the midst of this acidic, formic heap,
Nodus was born.
Emerging into the caustic, abrasive air,
he screamed.

The very air stung his skin.
The stench and the smoke choked him.
Tears welled as he opened his eyes to the arid glare.

And so that is what he became:
a tight bundle of fear and loathing.
A reaction.
A scream.

Quo Vadis?

Today I made a whole lot of money
and I lost a tiny piece of my soul.
Tomorrow I will do the same thing
and another piece of me will vanish
into the Hell of monotonous capitalism.

Yesterday night I spoke to her:
I lost a tiny piece of my heart.
Tonight I will do the same thing
and my heart will become still smaller.

By tomorrow I will have bled to death.

A Study in Mortality

There is a world.
Glimpsed only from the very deepest sleep
or that other, deeper slumber:
a world composed of dark rock and dark sea;
of absolute stillness and constant movement.
The starless, moonless sky; utterly black,
sheds no illumination on the scene,
observed, in crystal clarity, behind sightless eyes.

In a cliff, where land meets sea in violent conflict,
is a cave; a perfect hemisphere of space in the jagged rock.
The sea pounds the rock below,
never reaching these smooth walls.
The regular within the irregular.

The smoothness stretches into the rock;
a passageway as perfect as the entrance.
The smooth, dull rock reflects no light
for there is none to reflect. Then
a space.
Not hewn into the rock: the space is all that matters,
all that is important; the rock
is merely to contain it.

From the floor; dull grey, checked with emerald green,
the walls stretch upward until...
There are no walls, only the smooth floor and
There in the centre; the centre of infinity,
sits a hooded figure at a rough-hewn table, upon which
lies a board whose black-and-white reflects the multifaceted floor.

Black pieces line the far edge.
Nearest you, for you are here now,
a solitary white king;
standing alone on a black and white floor
that stretches into infinity.
The figure turns.
Flashes of iridescent green
highlight a visage of white bone.

Now at the table, swathed in new-found luminescence,
you hear the words, as you prepare to outwit the infinite.
The sea booms, the lights flash, the darkness presses in.
The figure says:

'Your move'.


Man overboard from the vessel of sanity.
Right over there: dazed, amazed and confused.
Flound'ring about, and soaked through with inanity;
Don't throw him a line, for he keeps us amused.

He looks like he's happy there, splashing around,
His head has submerged, but his spirit has soared.
Happy and drowning, not making a sound:
The mouth that can't shout. The man, over-bored.

Faraday Cage

The lightning strikes with a blinding flash,
As your retinas burst and your orbits smash.
It sears your spine, turns nerves into batter;
Your vertebrae pop like machine-gun chatter.
All flesh fused, just burning and glowing:
Whole body blazing,
But heart still racing;
Mind still knowing.

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