Stories

"In some damned heaven, singing"
by Vincent A. Cellucci, in the Memorial to Michelle Greenblatt, January 2016
"My life is usually late or rushed, especially my frustratingly limited time writing, but an email from Michelle provided a stress caesura—a moment of pause where I knew I was focusing on something that really mattered."

"Letter to Michelle"
by Alan Fyfe, in the Memorial to Michelle Greenblatt, January 2016
"Did you wonder why I gave you that name? You must have wondered, when the feelings of weakness and shame piled in, when you felt like something off the bottom of a shoe. It was just because you were strong—just because you fought—just because you were that judge all the blurry minded poets put their case in front of."

"Letters to Michelle"
a web-based memorial with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan, and Brian Kovich
in the Memorial to Michelle Greenblatt, January 2016
"this morning i sat up in a dark living room, watching the sun rise over the ozarks, it's lovely here, the sky changes from deep black to blue, stars glitter and you wonder if they're alive or dead, are their worlds spinning around them, is their someone there sitting in a house jus a'wondering on what all this means, if anything he or she did mattered, and in the end that comes for us all, what did it all mean?"

"Remembering Michelle Greenblatt"
by Frankie Metro, in the Memorial to Michelle Greenblatt, January 2016
"Even through all the medical setbacks, Michelle still carried on and gave what spirit she had to the arts; if it was through her own contributions with the numerous selections of books she published or her tireless efforts as the Poetry Editor at Unlikely Stories: Episode IV, Michelle always did her best to remain positive through it all."

"When Are You, Ms. Greenblatt"
by Ray Succre, in the Memorial to Michelle Greenblatt, January 2016
"To be lively or brilliant or exhibit virtuosity,
a leniency to be forgotten, to be like when,
when the fifty thousand sadly sinking waves
travel more to carry mortality, or to prevent it"

"In Memory of Michelle Greenblatt, Editor and Friend
by Jonathan Penton, October 2015
"In her writing, she chose to return to her moments of victimization repeatedly, to explore them, to expose them, and to combat them. When reading her work, it is vital to remember that she chose to write it—that she achieved emotional mastery over her circumstances."

"Favors"
by James Alexander, June 2015
'"I'll tell you how this is going to go," he said. "The cops will come and take you out in handcuffs, through the front door for everyone to see. You will be arraigned by a judge. You will have to post bail. You will plead guilty as part of a deal with the district attorney. You will have to pay a fine, do community service, and go on probation, at a minimum, and if you've already got a record you could do jail time. All for a pair of cheap earrings."'

"Endorphins"
by Toni Todd, June 2015
'"He's breathing," said one good samaritan, "but he won't wake up." A thick rope of blood oozed from the poor fellow's nostrils. A nasty gash slashed across the bridge of his nose. Goggles missing, his hat was mashed down over his eyes. I reached to fold it up. A single, rusty dread dropped out.'

"Used Goods"
by Mark Polanzak, June 2015
'I needed a lot more than what I had managed to cram in the back of my Subaru for the move. It was a hasty job, which wasn't philosophically conceived—I simply hadn't thought the move through enough. But I recast my anxiety about leaving things behind into a dream of starting over. I took my clothes. Some books. A few lamps. My computer and guitar, but left almost everything else on the curb with a sign reading: "It's All Yours Now!"'

"The Perfect Night for Open Air Travel"
by Pamela Kearney, June 2015
"The body clubs her windshield just as she turns up her street. She sees an astonished face and silver hair and two fists which bang the glass as the body flips over the hood and falls down the passenger side of her car and then under. The limbs catch and then drum the bottom of the car like sticks beating a percussion instrument. Helen does not stop. Passing her house, she glances in the rear view mirror; the body crumbles in the middle of the road."

"Mapache: He Who Watches, and Why the Lone Ranger Stole Tonto's Mask"
by Cecelia Chapman, April 2015
"If the raccoon was not around a field rat appeared when I whistled. One night I whistled, left the food scraps, and closed the door because the raccoon had not appeared. A few seconds later I heard a horrible scream. When I looked out the raccoon was eating. I never saw the rat again."

"The Pillar of Fire"
by Robert Hunter Whitworth, December 2014
"Felix quit his job to stay with the fire, to maintain the illusion that he was its caretaker. He sat in a chair facing the fire and tried to look like he was contemplating it. He developed marketable eccentricities, stopped shaving or cutting his hair. He lived off of donations of money and casserole from the people who thought the fire meant something."

"Gottfried Helnwein's Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
by George Sparling, December 2014
"They might have excelled with a script written for such a skeletal, B-movie set. Bold caricatures, images of catastrophic, airbrushed entertainers' notorious faces, a scheme dedicated to accentuate death's grip (that's a wrap). The four's memento mori performer's estates' second coming, a wet dream gone public."

"Submerge" and "The Professional Artist"
by Meg Tuite, December 2014
"Nelson lies in bed at night and wonders what has confused his damn kids. He has never hidden anything. Did he kill someone? Never. There is no evidence of anything. He adjusts his sleeping apparatus. They told him he hasn't been breathing for years in the research lab. Now, that is something to hear. Blasts of oxygen are flushed in through his nostrils while he sleeps. He has had a few good years without nightmares."

"Dead or Alive"
by Alain Marciano, May 2014
"Rain is coming. It smells spring and sun, bush fires and wet dirt. It is one of those cool days. I haven't slept for the last two days. I did not shit either. Did not eat anything. I just drank, quietly intoxicated myself for the sake of it. I am truly and perfectly alone in my small apartment—no friend left and my wife had divorced me some time ago."

"She's a Steal"
by J. Donnelly, May 2014
"At dinner, I told her that I was thinking about moving to New York. She invited me to stay at her place for the night. When we arrived there, she informed me that she didn't have a TV; she believed it rots the brain, and that if she didn't love the city so much, she would live by the ocean. She had a tattoo of a heart on her pubic bone and she said it tickled when I kissed her there."

"Drumstick" and "The Shed"
by Elizabeth McGuire, May 2014
"A baby is born. Again. A baby is called Henry. Again. He is so cute and beautiful. Of course. Everyone is excited. Of Course. His mother is so happy. His father is so proud. If you don't stop crying you won't hear the baby cry."

"Ethan has nowhere to go"
by Anonymous, based on the missing short story by Jeremy Hight, April 2014
Anonymous's "Ethan has nowhere to go" is a simple computer game based on Jeremy Hight's story. It runs on PC-compatible computers, and is available free here at Unlikely Stories: Episode IV.

"This Is"
by Alan Bigelow, based on the missing short story "Ethan has nowhere to go" by Jeremy Hight, April 2014
"I replaced every word in the story with the word 'word.' I took the lines of his story, compressed them, and formed the phrase 'THIS IS A STORY.' I threw in some touch/mouse interactivity (with some help!). I added some visual backgrounds that seemed to suggest the nature and history of narrative. Our lives have an infinite number of permutations. So do stories."

"Nowhere"
by Anastasia Salter, based on the missing short story "Ethan has nowhere to go" by Jeremy Hight, April 2014
"Nowhere" re-imagines "Ethan has nowhere to go" as a platformer in which the player, as Ethan, is complicit in the slow elimination of the community around him. The text of the story is reduced to a short poem that repeats at the center of the screen, providing an internal monologue as the player guides Ethan towards the inevitability of an empty landscape.

"Ethan has nowhere to go"
by Johansen Quijano, based on the missing short story by Jeremy Hight, April 2014
"The purpose of the game in the early stages of Ethan's life attempts to re-create a sense of repetitive drudgery where everything comes down to similar boring tasks being carried out day after day. The game then attempts to convey the sense of struggle and hopelessness that the Ethan of the story must have felt as he wondered America from job to job, homeless, with no hope of success, and running away from himself."

"A Case of Public Indecency (for Chelsea Manning)"
a one-act play by Stephenson Muret, September 2013
"MISS THE RIGHT THING prompts and coaxes HONORABLE YOUNG MAN to do something illicit. She holds HONORABLE YOUNG MAN's hand and bats her eyelashes at him and kisses him on the cheek and tousles his hair. She whispers to HONORABLE YOUNG MAN. She begs with her expression. She pulls his arm. HONORABLE YOUNG MAN resists at first, looking around fearful that someone might see, that they might be caught. Finally he begins to relent."

"Exit the Heroes, or, in Praise of Cowardice"
by Elmore Snoody, August 2013
"For, apart from his buttocks, which were too attractive to be entirely ruthless, Priasphalatius too appeared to have been regurgitated from a pit of infernal machines. He too had seemed spawned from a new race of weaponry that had, in turn, spliced the human genome, grown flesh and become self-aware—if, it should be admitted, only moderately so. I doubt he can count to ten."

"The Insect Ecologies of Death, or, Amateur Hour (Towards a new order of the phylum)"
by R.V. Branham, August 2013
"You walk through the carbonized fog, to the glowing tortured glass pumped full of neon and attached to the curved contours of the cineplex, blue neon waves guiding you, calling you, and you sink to a broken chair, and hear a whirlhum, and a light from the belly of a biomechanical beast casts placental dreams from the projector's womb; and oedipal fathers fell forests flood valleys fill forges dam rivers."

"Texas Casino"
by Misti Rainwater-Lites, August 2013
'"There are so many possibilities these days what with Twitter and Facebook and all the dating sites. There's really no excuse not to find a soul mate."
"Yeah, but things can go from rosy to crappy in the blink of an eye. You think I haven't tried? I've tried. Hell, I even joined a Baptist church last month. I go to Sunday school."
"Well? How is it?"
"Free donuts and coffee. The bitches are okay but I haven't found my cosmic match."'

"a family vacation"
by JBMulligan, August 2013
"While he investigated which poisons might be found in the kind of factory that made various medicines, he arranged his financial affairs as well as he could—he had been doing that anyway—so that he could pick a time when things were looking positive, to lessen the suspicion that his death was a suicide. It didn't have to be complete financial rescue: he was honest enough to admit to himself that was impossible."

"Rage Road"
by John James Alexander, April 2013
"IS IT WORTH YOUR LIFE? IS IT? IS IT WORTH YOUR LIFE?"

"The History of Jiffy Pop"
by Natalie Parker-Lawrence, April 2013
"In 1960, Jiffy Pop Popcorn reached the national US market. Fred Mennen, the inventor from Indiana, also received a patent in 1977 for his invention of an instrument that detected gonorrhea. Here's hoping he labeled and washed out his dishes."

"Crashes"
by Bud Smith, April 2013
'"Zero good ever came outta calling the cops," I said, glaring at him until he backed away and spit his gum out into the grass. He got into his bright yellow Geo Tracker, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles.'

"Coming Attraction"
by Tom Bonfiglio, April 2013
"Whenever someone questions her decision she finds herself parroting Collier, right down to the condescending tone. The more she talks about it, the more she believes it's the right decision, though the idea of the table does concern her. What kind of table is it? If it's old it probably wobbles. Presumably rectangular; she wonders if it has leafs."

"Intervals of Transposition"
by Ian Wolff, April 2013
"Another era was lost once it passed. As much dismissed as forgotten altogether. Brief forays into a welcome, a disgorged eternity. Already we were using our arms in lieu of our legs. And falling we reached out our hands, grasping where we could at a stray branch or rebar reaching out from the rubble."

"Channeling Spirits with V.D. Cards, or, Why We Didn't Make It to the [Medicinal] Cannibus Cup in L.A."
by Frankie Metro and Lindsey Thomas, April 2013
"I'm not sure if the guy was wearing Afro Sheen or not. As far as I could tell he wasn't wearing shit because in the middle of the card was an ungodly erect cock, one that could make the securest-member-swinging-motherfucker look at his junk and shake his head in shame. Thank God the card wasn't fit to scale or else I'd been arrested for carrying it in my pocket on the bus. A lethal weapon in the wrong hands to be sure."

"Art Game"
by Pippin Barr, February 2013
"Experience the exhilaration of making art you really believe in! Experience the agony of rejection by the curatorial team! Consider selling out and just making what people seem to want! Change your mind again and follow your dreams! Be a star of the art world! Be a horrible failure! Be an artist!"

"Tale of the Hashish Eater, Scamro (a modern retelling)"
by Omar Azam, February 2013
"In the 12th Century, there was a Persian dude who loved the dames, and he spent all his dough on them, 'til he was so poor, he had not a red cent. He was stressed out and he used to beg for bread. He always managed to score some hash, though."

"The Right to Bare Teeth
by Michael Alix, February 2013
'"We also have the fundamental right to bare teeth like our forefathers." Buford clawed harder at the ground. Torn grass formed a small pile behind him. "A few more hours of this and I will be able to wriggle under the pen."'

"Who's for Jesus"
by Sarah Sarai, February 2013
"Though his old friends figured him for a self-hating Jew, Luke had never been so happy. It started the day he read through a tract he'd found on the First Avenue bus. The President was in town for the U.N., traffic was stalled and he had time to ponder the importance of treating everyone with kindness, something not inconsistent with Judaism—or any religion he could think of—and that, to him, was significant."

"Flipper Hands McCreary"
by Michael Frissore, February 2013
'"What the hell happened?" I said.
'"You took my chloroform rag."
'"Why the hell do you have a chloroform rag?"
'"Dates, dude," he said. "Now wait here."'

"The Spear"
by George Sparling, February 2013
"What struck me, at first, was fear. I saw the young man struggle to enter my living room and tried, but failed, to move around the corner to the fire escape at the building's rear. I then stood and reached for the spear Roxy had nailed to the wall. I'd jam that spear into the thug, skewer him good, watch him fall five flights to the ground."

"The Prophet of Whimsey"
by Joseph Robert, February 2013
"(Really all the worst things in life, in an être de mise, general sense) are really profound, in a metaironical, semiotic, parabolic, like way, if fictionalized as an omni-dimensional character/mental disorder golem, Let's Call Him Todd, (seriously that's his given name, mom was nuts) who ironically, un-ironically enjoys Trix is for kids breakfast cereal, as he gives an exegesis of Kant's COPR (1788) w/r/t bowling a 300 game"

"Living Will"
Interactive Fiction by Mark C. Marino, January 2013
As an heir to the fortune of the Coltan-magnate ER Millhouse, you can expand your inheritance or become buried in medical and legal fees as you peruse his living will and discover the story behind the fortune he pillaged in the Congo. Written on the Undum system, this story-game combines a choose-your-own-adventure platform, character stats, and a literary hypertext aesthetic.

"CityFish"
Interactive Fiction by J. R. Carpenter, January 2013
"Although CityFish is intrinsically about dissonance—between past and present, fact and fiction, home and away—I am not sure yet how to reconcile this new dissonance—between the lines of the story I wrote and the new lines of this coast. In particular, I am concerned with the harsh economic dissonance underlined by the situation still facing those hardest hit by Sandy."

Next