Adrenaline was running high, like a kite without a string. His sisters laughed at his hammering, his vivid drawings of aliens but the batteries were humming, electricity sizzling and gas tanks shuddering as his creation cranked into gear and took shape beneath his slippery fingers and sweaty behind. Fumes bit the air anxiously, dogs on a leash while his ears rang with the roar of pent up fusion about to pop and bubble. He grabbed the ham sandwich and stuffed it into his mouth with greasy fingers. He didn’t know when he would have time to eat again, or who would be out there to feed him. He pulled his father’s helmet over his neck. It was a tight fit and stuck on his ears before he squeezed them flat and stuffed them inside. It smelt of hard plastic and his mother’s cleaning fluid. The visor fogged with his breath. He wiped it with a soggy cloth before slipping his hands into their protective casings. He flexed his muscles and backed his hips into the hard, plastic bucket. He took a final glance around his belongings, caught his eldest sister flickering across the window as she raced off to call the family together for lunch. He smiled. He’d show them how to make a barbecue. He coughed, dry and rasping. It echoed in the chamber like a fish gulping blindly as it searched for release. His gloved fists fumbled for ignition. He squinted out the window and into the trees, the brittle blue sky that would suddenly be looming before him, then disappearing behind as he reached orbit and showed the world what a superhero looked like. The gas bottles juggled, jerked to life, stuttered, choked and spluttered to an eerie silence. He pressed the button again, wheezing with fumes, whispering, begging it to fire into life. With a blood curdling flash, flames suddenly broke out under his seat, their reflection streaming across his visor, speckling his black wetsuit with a sheen of fiery promise. He sensed a plunger in his stomach, his limbs glue themselves to his body while his ribs jammed into his spine as g-forces wretched his muscles into painful spasms as the whole machine blew sky high. He caught a glimpse of their home in flames as he ran down the street. He watched the garage roof collapse like a flying saucer. It was all so simple on the internet. He’d followed the instructions to the letter, and knew as he dived into the river and felt it hissing and spluttering, that the burning house was nothing but fake news and he was still a rocket man with no need for a parachute.
E. F. S. Byrne (he/him) works in education and writes when his teenage kids allow it. He blogs a regular micro flash story. Links to this and over fifty published pieces can be found at efsbyrne.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @efsbyrne
Milo Gorgevska lives in the dreary suburbs outside of Toronto, Ontario. Nonbinary and queer, they identify as a menace to society’s traditions. As a jack-of-all-trades, they are an author, director, poet & screenwriter. Previously, their writing under the pen name ‘Kara Petrovic’ has been published in Philadelphia Stories, Train: A Poetry Journal & others. TheirContinue reading “Firmly Planted by Streams of Water”
by Leah Mueller The absurdity of being so round, with such an eager mouth. The hippo looks like it’s about to bite into something, but it’s also smiling, like it’s goddamned delighted to be the most ridiculous animal in the room. Relentlessly positive New Agers see these beasts as noble creatures. Their essays claim thatContinue reading “Seven Ways of Looking at a Hippopotamus”
Meshwork by Soramimi Hanarejima In the cozy diner, breakfast with you is its customary languid affair of savory omelets and occasional quiet conversation—until coffee has coaxed me into greater wakefulness. Then I notice a lavender filament extending from you towards the tech district—a direction none of your strands has ever gone in. I know theContinue reading “Meshwork”