by M.V. Moorhead
The day after I learned I had cancer, I had myself frozen alive. I was a man about it. No screwing around, no weighing the options. I saw the course of action and I took it. One Wednesday morning I got up to take a leak, and it came out looking like crude oil. I went to the doctor, she ordered a bunch of tests, and the next day they were back.
Cancer. The “Big C,” as the great Duke Wayne called it. Pancreatic cancer. One of the few kinds they hadn’t figured out yet. She didn’t soft-soap me. I think she sort of enjoyed telling me I was a goner.
As it happened, Arizona had just become the first state to make it legal to freeze yourself alive. People had been getting their bodies frozen just after death for decades, but the technology had improved. They’d frozen animals and brought them back a year later good as new. Eventually they tried it with human subjects—overseas, of course, not with good Americans—and a year later these wog guinea pigs were back too, happy and smiling and demanding their fee. A few of them went on speaking tours.
So under pressure from a lot of influential Scottsdale and Sedona holistic health nuts and futurist dingalings and New Agey trophy wives, it became legal to get yourself turned into a human Popsicle—if you could afford it, of course—in the hope that they could thaw you out in fifty or a hundred years, or whenever whatever was about to kill you became curable. Time travel, the hard way. The perfect gift for future generations, I remember thinking—a bunch of sick rich white people.
Yes, I had a good laugh about it with the boys down at the club. But somehow it didn’t seem so funny when my doctor—again, barely concealing her pleasure, I think—told me my pancreas was rotting and I was weeks away from the last roundup. On Thursday afternoon I made the call; and that evening I toured the facility, a vault in the basement of a plain cement building in an industrial park in Phoenix. The guy who ran the place didn’t seem like a kook. There were already more than twenty people frozen, in long black metal tubes with self-recharging coolant systems. The guy said that they’d be out of room soon. So I thought, why not?
Because it becomes relevant later, I suppose I might as well tell you now that the idea of freezing myself was starting to seem attractive to me even with cancer removed from the equation. And the reason why is simple.
I was pushing fifty, and I was rich, and I was respected in the business community. I had reached the point in life where a man expects to be able to call the shots. And yet I called no shots. Except for the few hours a week I spent at the club, or on the golf course, my whole life was about taking orders from women. My wife. My ex-wives. My daughters. My secretary—she called the shots at my office, and Christ protect me if I forgot it. My mistress. My doctor. The cop who pulled me over for an illegal left turn on my way to Phoenix. The world wasn’t just going to the dogs, it was going very specifically to the bitches.
Now, don't get me wrong. I’m not a sexist. I am a misogynist, that I’ll grant you, but I’m not a sexist. I didn’t think women were inferior to men. Based on most of the men around, I didn’t see any evidence of that. I just didn’t like women very much; their nagging and narcissism, their feelings and resentments, their lack of interest in my feelings and resentments. And above all, I didn’t like what women were doing to men in those days. Men had fed them and kept them safe for countless centuries, and in less than a century they took for their own all the things that used to be exclusively male—our confidence, our swagger. And they demanded that we take on everything that used to be exclusively female—the subservience, the emotionalism, the indecisiveness. And I had fallen into it as much as anyone else.
And then we got new leadership. A new President. Stupid and mean and full of shit as a man could be, but it didn’t matter, because he didn’t give a rat’s ass who he offended. On the contrary, he loved offending people. And he especially loved to offend the people that most needed offending, in my never-humble opinion. Especially women. It felt, for a moment, like the country—maybe even the world—might get back, at least partway, to a place that guys like me could recognize and be comfortable in. It was glorious. It was fucking glorious.
But of course it couldn’t last. Women didn’t like him, so of course we couldn’t have him. A lot of, let’s say, the underclass didn’t like him either. Why would they? And neither did a lot of Uncle Tom white guys who wanted to suck up to women and show how virtuous they were. But I think it was women, more than any other single group, whose hatred of him led to him being run off after just four years. It seemed like four hours to me, but it was just four years. We tried like hell to keep him, even got a little rough about it, but in the end, just like always, the bitches got their way.
So I thought, what’s to lose by skipping ahead a century or two? Maybe men will have taken their old turf back when I wake up. Or maybe not—maybe men will have become such wussies by then that I’d be an automatic alpha male. Or maybe they’ll never find a cure for pancreatic cancer, and I’d just stay in the deep freeze until Judgment Day, in which case at least my wife would never again make me go to some dinner benefiting local dance companies or Tibetan monks or whatever.
I met my lawyer Friday morning. He was appalled by my decision until he learned he’d get his fee early. I told him not to tell my wife and daughters until after I was on ice. I didn’t want to go through the drama. Besides, when they found out they were getting their trust money, I doubted they’d be all that inconsolable. And if they did need consoling, my daughters had their moron boyfriends—except for my youngest, who had her oh-so-fashionable girlfriend—and my wife had the pool guy.
So that afternoon I signed what seemed like a hundred releases, got injected with a tranquilizer, and crawled naked into the tube. The technician sealed it up. As I listened to the hiss of the coolant and felt the temperature start to drop, I drifted off to sleep.
“You’ll feel a pain in your side.”
There had been a quick dream, of fishing with my friends in Mexico, and then I was awake. Somebody had decided to wake me up.
I couldn’t move and couldn’t open my eyes, but I could hear this voice.
This woman’s voice.
The voice didn’t lie. There was a sharp pain in my side, just below my ribs. It was gone almost as soon as it started, replaced with a tingling vibration.
“You should be able to see in a few minutes, and move a little,” said the voice.
The woman’s voice.
It felt like I had been asleep for an hour or two, tops. Somebody woke me and my cancerous pancreas up. My wife or my daughters had managed it; no doubt, to torment me with God knows what horseshit that didn’t interest me. They’d decided to let me croak slowly, pumped full of useless drugs. I hoped my lawyer would enjoy the new ass I was going to rip him.
I could hear somebody else in the room, speaking. Speaking another language.
Another language, being spoken by another woman.
“Our body scans indicate that you have a... a malignancy in your pancreas,” said the first woman’s voice. She was translating for the second woman. “This is why you were frozen, likely? You don’t have to worry, this treatment will also cure that condition.”
The voice spoke slowly and deliberately, often putting the emphasis on odd syllables. English wasn’t her first language, either.
My eyelids began to twitch, then they quivered open. The light in the room was dim. A machine of some sort hummed at my bedside, with a cord that led to an attachment on my side. Even the slight glow that came from it stabbed at my eyes, and I squinted as I looked upward. Two women were standing over my bed. A door was open behind them, and more women were crowded in the hallway, peering in at me. I didn’t know any of them.
Some feeling was returning to my body—I could feel a soft mattress beneath me, now, and the cool air of the room on my face.
I parted my lips, and tried to speak, but nothing came out. The women saw my effort, and the foreign-speaker said something to my interpreter, who spoke to me:
“Don’t try to talk now... sir. You’ll need about thirty more minutes of exposure to this... this infusion treatment... sir... and then you’ll need to rest awhile. Then you should feel fine. Better than ever, likely.”
My interpreter stood there watching me, smiling, fascinated, while the other woman fussed with the machine, and fussed with me. Then they shooed away the curious crowd in the hallway, and then they left, too.
At the door, my interpreter turned back to me. I noticed she held a sort of transparent envelope in her hand, with a paper enclosed in it. A very old, very yellowed sheet of paper. It was the medical chart from the top of my cryo-tube.
In her tentative English, the woman at the door said:
“Try to rest awhile, Mister... Mister...” she consulted the chart.
I managed something like a smile. I didn’t want them to think I was brain damaged, and couldn’t understand anything. Besides, this infusion treatment of theirs, whatever it was, was starting to work. I was starting to feel pretty good. Damn good, in fact. Like she said, better than ever.
She left, sliding the door shut behind her. After another ten minutes, I had enough strength to turn my head. And there it was, right there on the other side of my bed from the humming infusion machine: My tube, wide open, a few wisps of Freon still rising from it. It was faded-green with oxidation, and covered with dust.
If someone was putting me on, they were doing a hell of a job of it.
It wasn’t a put-on. I knew it wasn’t. I’d been asleep a long, long time. No way the infusion treatment was a fake. I was starting to feel ten years younger. I was starting to feel like I could run a marathon, once I got my joints moving again.
And they said my cancer would be cured. And I believed it. I could almost feel it.
Ingratitude set in fast, though. I was glad I was back, glad I was cured, but...
...All these women. No men to be seen anywhere. Not a good sign.
On the other hand, there was an encouraging sign:
All the women had been wearing skirts.
The infusion machine must have had some sort of tranquilizing effect, because even though I could feel energy starting to surge through me, I still fell into a deep sleep within a few minutes of the two women leaving the room. When I woke up, the machine was gone from my room, the tube was gone from my room, and daylight was seeping in through closed Venetian blinds.
I felt great, incredibly refreshed and energized. I couldn’t stay in bed. I got up, feeling only a slight creak in my joints as I stood—less then I did, mornings, in my pre-frozen days. I was naked, but when I glanced around the plain, white-walled room, I saw a robe had been laid out for me on a small chair near my bed. I put it on.
Then I went to the window, and opened the blind.
I was on the upper floor of a three-story building, in a sprawling desert city of cylindrical buildings, none of which was higher then six stories. The architecture was rounded and curving, the colors soft pastels. It looked like a city of huge mushrooms.
There were car-sized vehicles in the street below me, shoehorn-shaped things that hurtled along a few inches above the pavement. Hovercrafts of some sort. There were pedestrians, too; lots of them.
I looked everywhere. Yes, it was true. Every person I could see was a woman. A tall, strapping woman with long hair, wearing a long skirt. Well, no, that wasn’t right—there was a woman wearing a short skirt. A woman in her late teens or early twenties, wearing a skirt that went down only a few inches below her waist, showing her legs to fine advantage. Her very good legs. I suddenly realized how very, very much better I was feeling.
“Hello, world,” I said. I didn’t sound as hoarse as I would have thought.
Just then the door slid open behind me, and the two women from the previous night came in.
“Mister... Devlin,” said the English speaker. She was a tall, olive-skinned woman who gave the impression of being about fifty, though her tanned face was free of wrinkles. She had thick, curly reddish-brown hair. She still had my chart. Her companion, the foreign-speaking woman, looked to be younger. She, too, was tall, and had long hair, but hers was straight and blond. Her face was stern and a bit suspicious. She spoke.
What the hell was that language? I’d been all over the world with my business, spoke some Japanese myself, but I couldn’t place it. It sounded a little like German, a little like Spanish, a little like Latin. More then anything, like some elaborate form of Pig Latin.
“Mister... Devlin. May I call you...” said the English speaker, looking at the chart. “May I call you...”
“Call me Biff.” They both jumped. It was the first time they had heard me speak. “That’s what my friends call me,” I added. This always worked when I was introduced to new clients.
“Fine,” said the Interpreter. “Biff. Biff, how do you feel?”
“You were right,” I said. “I feel great, never better. Sure wish we’d had treatments like that back in my day. So, uhm... How long have I...”
“My name is Dr. Teele,” said the Interpreter quickly. Uh-oh. She didn’t want to get into that matter just yet. “This is Dr. Piper.” The blond woman nodded at me a little.
“Well, thank you for saving my life,” I said to Dr. Teele.
“I can’t make credit... make credit...?”
“Take credit?” I offered.
“Take credit, yes, I can’t take credit for that. Dr. Piper is the physician. I am a Doctor of language, and of... of history.”
“Ancient history?” I asked, with a smile.
“You’d better sit down... sir. Biff. I’m here so that we can communicate with you. American... well, what you would have called English, our language, it has changed since you were suspended.”
“Yes, and how long ago was that?”
She paused a minute, then decided to take the plunge.
“About a thousand years.”
“This isn’t Phoenix,” I said. “I don’t recognize these mountains.”
“Yes, this city was called Tucson before you went to sleep,” said Dr. Teele.
We were on the roof of the building—the hospital, it turned out, though apparently sickness had grown so rare that it was more like a spa. There was a running track on the roof, and we were strolling around it together.
“What’s it called now?”
I didn’t ask her what this meant. I had a feeling I wouldn’t like the answer.
An especially tall black woman walked behind us, her long skirt fluttering in the warm breeze. Dr. Teele didn’t say so, but she was plainly a security guard. She also didn’t say why we were walking on the roof of the building, but she didn’t have to—it was the only place I could get some fresh air without being stared at.
“How did I get here?”
“The vault with your tube was discovered at an archaeological dig in the ruins of Phoenix. Because I specialize in late 20th-and early 21st Century studies, I was called in from Berkeley to consult.”
Berkeley was still Berkeley, I thought. Of course.
“What about all the other people in the vault?” I asked.
“The coolant systems had failed hundreds of years ago on all of the other tubes except yours and one other person’s. They’d all thawed out and mummified.”
“One other person survived?”
Dr. Teele seemed uncomfortable. “Yes, there was one other... recovery.”
“Can I ask who?”
“A woman from the same time period as you. Her name is Dawn Hacker.”
“Oh, Christ,” I blurted. “Of course! I know Dawn Hacker. She was on a bunch of women’s boards with my wife. I should have known nothing could kill her but a stake of holly through the heart!”
I immediately wished I hadn’t said it, but to my surprise, Dr. Teele smiled. “Yes,” she said. “She... she remembers you too.”
“So you’ve met her?”
“Oh, yes,” said Dr. Teele. Then she sighed, and said, “She’s been assisting me, helping me learn conversational Old American, at my department in Berkeley for nearly five years.”
I whirled on her. “Five years? You mean you found us five years ago? And you only got around to waking me up...?”
“Mister... Biff,” she said. “You might as well understand right now that you are a... I guess you would have called it a hot potato, politically. I wanted to revive you from the start, but there’s been a lot of resistance to the idea. It’s taken me years to persuade the authorities of its scientific value.”
“But Dawn, you were able to thaw out five years ago.”
“Well, Biff, you likely must have noticed... ”
“Indeed I have,” I said. “So let’s quit dancing around the big question. Where are all the men?”
“They’re around,” said Dr. Teele.
I had been in business long enough to know a prepared answer when I heard one.
“Are they?” I asked. “Where?”
“I think maybe we should go in now,” said Dr. Teele. “You need your rest.”
The big security guard came striding up. She was prepared to enforce this. I wasn’t going to get any more answers right now.
So in I went. I did what the women told me to. Some things never change.
They gave me a really horrible-tasting dinner, and then a bunch of doctors and researchers poked and prodded me, and waved hand scanners over me. Most of them, especially the older ones, wore the long skirts; a few of the younger ones wore mini-skirts. Most of them, young or old, were really good-looking, if you liked the earth-mother type. Which I didn’t, but hey...
Dr. Piper pointed a scanner at my abdomen briefly, looked at the readout, then, through Dr. Teele, told me in so many words that I now had the pancreas of a twenty-year-old health food nut.
Through all of this ordeal, Dr. Teele sat watching me, giving me enigmatic smiles. I think she felt a bit sorry for me.
I certainly felt sorry for myself. I was thinking about an old movie I had seen on television on the late show, back when I was a kid, a thousand years and several decades ago. I’ve forgotten the title, but it was about a spaceship that lands on a distant planet, which the crew—all men, of course—discovers is entirely inhabited by women. These women all go instantly boy-crazy, of course, and start trying like hell to seduce these spacemen. It seemed to me like a pretty good deal.
Despite Dr. Teele’s oh-so-casual response to my big question, as far as I could tell I now found myself in the same situation. Except that these women didn’t look at me as an exotic new prospect from the romantic past. They looked at me, and touched me, as if I was a frog that had been submerged in formaldehyde.
The next day, I took exercise again on the roof with Dr. Teele. Again, the big black Amazon walked a few paces behind us on the track.
“Do you have a first name?” I asked Dr. Teele.
“Yes, my name is Marjorie.”
“I like that name,” I said. “Any chance I could call you that?” I was turning on my charm, such as it was. I figured what the hell, maybe these women didn’t have any resistance to male charm. It was worth a try.
“Certainly,” said Dr. Marjorie Teele, with a smile.
“All right then, Marjorie,” I said, as casually as I could. “Let’s try it again. Where are all the men?”
She sighed. “As I told you yesterday, they’re around.”
“Are you sure you weren’t fibbing to me about that, Marjorie?” She looked blankly at me. “Are you sure you ladies haven’t mastered the art of Virgin Birth?”
“No, Biff, pregnancies occur the same way they always have.”
“But it looks like... well, it looks like women run the show.”
“Run the show?” The idiom hadn’t survived, apparently.
“It looks like women are in charge of things. Like they rule society, make the decisions.”
“Oh... yes, I suppose that’s true.”
I stepped off the track, and walked to the rail on the edge of the building. Dr. Teele followed me. The big black Amazon stood on the track, watching.
We stared out for awhile at the cityscape of Tucson/Agavia.
“So, are the men slaves?” I asked at last.
“No,” said Dr. Teele. “Males are not slaves. They are very devoted and very well-loved husbands and fathers.”
In other words, slaves, I thought.
“When will I get to meet them?”
“Not yet,” said Dr. Teele.
“You aren’t ready.”
I turned to face her. “I want to see a man, any man, right now!”
“Well, you can’t, not just yet.” Dr. Teele said. “I’m sorry.”
“You keep us in stud pens or labor camps or something, don’t you, Godammit? Just admit it.” I said it too loud, too aggressively, and the Amazon started toward us. But Dr. Teele held up her hand, and the big woman stopped.
“No,” snapped Dr. Teele. “Labor camps and slavery were products of your era, not of ours.”
I made myself calm down. This wouldn’t get me anywhere. I looked back out at the city, and the barren mountains beyond it. Finally I spoke.
“Is it this way all over the world, or only here?”
“All over the world, Biff,” she said, gently now.
“So, the world is perfect now, I suppose? No more war, and all that? No more violence, no more prejudice?”
“Of course not,” said Dr. Teele. “I wish that was true, but there’s still plenty of war and violence... ”
“Well, there’s unrest in the Middle East, of course,” she said. “And there’s a war going on right now in southern Europe—the Sapphist Front is trying to take control of New Lesbos. And there’s been terrorism on the Moon lately, too, in Diana Dome. Hecatian purists insist that it’s a holy city to Moon Goddess worshippers.”
“Women run the moon, too?”
She smiled at me. “Doesn’t that, at least, seem fair?”
Late that evening, I tried to escape. It was pathetic really. Another large, burly woman was posted outside my door at night, and I had already noticed that the night shift didn’t take the detail as seriously as the big Amazon that followed me around during the day. She’d leave to go to the bathroom every few hours, apparently assuming I was asleep, and be gone for four or five minutes. So that night, after another appalling dinner, I lay in bed and waited until I heard her pad down the hall. I cracked open the door, and saw that the corridor was empty.
I made it, without being spotted, to a big spiral staircase that wound its way down the center of the building, ending in a big round lobby at the ground level, three floors down. I crept to the foot of these stairs, but as soon as I got there, I realized I was going to be spotted, and indeed I was—a nurse at the front desk looked up from her screen, looked back down, then did a big double take.
She hit a button on her desk, and began to yammer into it in her language.
“Shit,” I said, and bolted for the door. As I opened it, I could hear my guard yelling at me she charged down the stairs behind me.
As soon as I ran out onto the street, into the cool night air and the light of a moon full of squabbling women, it occurred to me that this was without a doubt the stupidest thing I could possibly do. It was the panicked response of an animal. Marjorie had already told me that the authorities hadn’t wanted her to thaw me out at all; this would certainly prove them right, prove that I was a dangerous beast and couldn’t be trusted. I was in strange world where I didn’t speak the language, where I had no resources, and where I was immediately recognizable as out of place—as a monster, in fact. I was going to be recaptured, no question about it, and very possibly put to death. The only remotely smart course of action at this point would have been to give up peacefully, and apologize.
But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make myself go passive and throw myself on the mercy of a bunch of women. I’d slept for a millennium and outlasted cancer, and after all that I just couldn’t beg these bitches for my life. I kept running.
But to no avail. I was a fugitive for less than two minutes, as it turned out. I crossed the broad, empty street and dodged between two of the shoehorn-shaped vehicles that were parked along its side. The streetlights were really bright; I needed some kind of cover. I turned into a wide concourse between two of the mushroom-shaped buildings. Immediately I came face to face with three pedestrians, all women of course, all around forty, with long hair and long skirts. They shrieked when they saw me, but they didn’t scatter—they charged me. I turned and ran the other way, and there was the night-shift Amazon coming toward me fast, her skirt billowing behind her.
“Leave me alone!” I screamed, and took a swing at her—something I’d never done in my earlier life, I might add. My sad little punch missed her nose altogether, and I stumbled. She grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back, and hurled me down to the pavement. I flailed with my free arm, but the other three women ran up and helped restrain me. More women emerged from doorways all around, alerted by the scuffle, and descended on me.
I started to scream at them. “Where are the men? Bitches! What did you bitches do to all the men?”
I was sure they were going to tear me apart, but they didn’t. They just held me fast, talking excitedly in their Pig Latin-ish lingo, until more guards from the hospital arrived. I was taken back to my room and put in restraints, and the door was locked. About half an hour later, Dr. Teele came in. She had a book in her hand.
“That was unwise,” she said.
“Where were you planning to go?”
“I know, I know, it was stupid. Screw you.”
“Screw me... what does that..?”
“Never mind,” I said. “Ask your buddy Dawn Hacker; she’ll tell you. So I suppose now you’re going to stuff me and put me in a museum or something?”
“The council wouldn’t mind that, I admit,” she said. “But we have laws against that sort of thing. We’ve awakened you, and now we have to keep you. I’m not the most popular person in the world right now.”
“Well, look at this way, Marjorie,” I said. “You’re still more popular than me.”
“Listen, we have to come to an understanding, you and I,” she said. “I was wrong not to explain to you the situation with... with the males from the start.”
“I agree,” I said. “So tell me.”
“I brought you something to read,” she said, and took off my restraints. “I had this flown in from my library at Berkeley. It’s a very old book. It’s in your language.” She handed it to me.
It was indeed a very old book—it had already been at least a couple of decades old, I bet, when I got frozen. Once brightly colored, it was faded with age and with some sort of thin coating that had been placed on the pages to preserve them. The title was Fish Are Astounding! and the cover also bore the legend “A Read and Learn Book.”
“It’s for children,” I said petulantly.
“I know,” said Dr. Teele. “I’m not trying to... to... econdesendu...”
“Condescend to me?”
“Thank you, yes. I’m not trying to do that. But we don’t have much time, and this is the only piece of literature on this topic that I have in your language.”
“On what topic? Fish?”
“Just read it,” she said, “And then we’ll talk.”
So I did. There was a cloth marker in the volume, and I opened to that page. And there was a picture of large, snaggle-toothed, football-shaped black fish with spiny fins and a long, antennae-like projection from its head. From its belly there dangled, almost unnoticeably, a tiny, tadpole-like appendage.
This is what the text underneath said:
“Did you know that when you look at this picture, you’re looking at two fish, not one? This big girl in the center of the page is a female anglerfish, a predator of the deepest parts of the ocean. She hunts by attracting smaller fish to the glowing lure that extends from her head. But her mate is also in the picture—he’s the little fellow, less than three inches long, hanging from her underside! When a male angler is very young, he grabs onto his mate’s body with his mouth, and hitches a ride. Eventually his jaws grow right into her skin, and he feeds directly from her bloodstream for the rest of his life. As time goes by, most of his non-reproductive organs degenerate, including his sensory and digestive systems and his brain, and he depends on his mate completely for survival and nourishment.”
I read the paragraph through twice. Then I looked up at Dr. Teele. I cleared my throat, which had gone sort of dry. I wanted to crack a joke, say something, but Dr. Teele put up her hand and stopped me.
And then she pulled up her skirt.
And there it was—or, rather, there he was, hanging down from the front of her right leg, just below her hip. A shriveled pinkish GI Joe body with melted-down arms and legs, a buttcrack grown shut and a bald, eyeless head, mouth fused to her skin. Only one part of him was plainly not vestigial, and that part was very well developed indeed.
“Biff,” said Dr. Teele, “I’d like you to meet my husband.”
When I came to, Dr. Teele was sitting next to my bed. Her skirt was down. Mercifully. She handed me a cup of water, and I drank it.
When I was finished, I spoke.
“I took college biology,” I said. “I was asleep for a thousand years, give or take, right? Evolution...”
“...Couldn’t have made such a big change in just a thousand years? You’re right, it couldn’t.”
“Human genetic science stepped in. Hundreds of years ago. I can you give the whole history if you want to hear it. It was a deliberate conspiracy, and I can’t say that the females necessarily behaved with perfect justice toward the males, although they had been pushed far. I can only say that this... this is the way things are now, and the way they’ve been for a very long time. It’s the only way that any of us have ever known.”
“Which makes me very out of place.”
“I’m afraid so,” she said. “None of us are quite sure what to do with you.”
I wasn’t listening. A new question had just occurred to me.
“Jesus, does Dawn Hacker know about this?”
“Dawn’s had a husband of her own for more than three years,” said Dr. Teele. “They have two daughters.”
I asked for paper and a writing utensil, and was surprised when they gave them to me. I lay awake all last night, writing this account. This morning, I asked Marjorie to take a proposal to the authorities—that I be frozen again, for another thousand years at least, and try my evolutionary luck with the next Millennium. A copy of this manuscript could be attached to the outside of the tube, to help future generations decide if they want to try their luck with me. Less than an hour later, Marjorie came back, smiling at me a little sadly.
She said they’d be happy to oblige.
Until now, we’ve chosen our authors. Now we’re ready to also let authors choose us. If you have a manuscript you think would be at home with us, click here.
by Zak Mucha
The Meat Empire
The sausage king of Moscow was found zip-tied and
run through with bolts like St. Sebastian in bed.
Impatient extortionists let his girlfriend slip
away to collect her cut after they ditch the
car and crossbow and do something with the other
guy they left drugged and cuffed to the bed in their flat.
One last job, just like they say in the movies,
to reach the land of Crown Royal bikini tops,
shopping mall lots filled with camouflaged Hum-vees,
and Jason Stratham movies that have a sense of humor.
The patron saint of second place check his numbers
on Wednesdays and Saturdays, knowing end times come
gently with soft thuds at twilight in fields where
men jump from barn gables to meet The Man mid-air.
Just one fly was the debate’s surprise. That guy should
have been covered head-to-toe within the hour,
choking from bees born in his mouth like Candyman,
a rain of black frogs dotting the studio floor.
Jesus could have stepped on stage, shaking the Buddha’s
other sandal from his crook like clicking batteries
into a sock, ready to sift wheat from
the tares right before the cameras cut away.
Ghazals for Fat Possum Records
They ran out of North Mississippi bluesmen grown
old with swollen ankles, bad hearts, and diabetes,
shirtless in their front yards, cigarettes dangling,
posing as if they didn’t give a damn or as
if they didn’t know any eyes were on them. Or
as if they had no say or as if maybe they
were in on the white boys’ opportunism long
after the first waves of dry recitations.
R.L. slipped from the hospital like Lazarus
calling for a wire transfer to the casino.
More white boys who couldn’t sit behind the beat
brought the first Theremin to Oxford screaming drunk.
One Rockefeller cannot feed a whole tribe.
R.L. reimagined trickster tales of late-night,
pajama-clad, panic attacks shared by Hitler
and Tojo hiding with their heads in paper sacks.
And a little monkey, who was actually
the probation officer, forcing his way into
the bigger animals’ party, badge hidden, with
a front pocket of whiskey and a ass pocket of gin.
The student’s watch and glasses were left behind on
an old canoe, his dissertation in his dorm room,
a signal to Mom buried in the scratches of
open note hillbilly music before the war.
She responded with a quarter-million dollar
reward for information on her boy. Fortune
hunters and documentarians paralleled
the shore as arrows plinked the water. Customer
survey cards would fall from Fat Possum packaging,
questions mocking embedded race and class issues:
“Where at you get this?” “Where you stay?” “How much money
you make?” And above an empty rectangle, the
instruction: “Trace your house key in this box.” The joke
died with R.L., leaving British aristocrats
to simulate music of the antebellum
south on Jumbotron screens in exchange for your rent.
© DOCKYARD PRESS