Fiction
Incendiary
Grimley Bogue
Butter Pat Babies
Steve Rasnic Tem
Preamble
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Stockholm Syndrome
Lucy Mihajlich
Painting
Sayuri Yamada
Konfessin Mouser K.
AE Reiff

Excerpts
Hellbender
Jason Jack Miller
The Blood Poetry
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez
My Hands Were Clean
Tom Bradley
The Tumors
Matthew Revert

Incendiary
Grimley Bogue


The clouds glow above the forest fire like the holographic brains of mathematicians.

A tank grumbles out of the trees and takes everybody out with one smartshell, the explosion spreading like a slowtime fog across the earth. Mass immolation. Then vaporization. Bodies depixilate in the black smoke.

The smoke clears as the tank idles.

The cupola door pops off like a manhole and flips end over end into a ditch. Somebody climbs out, stands on the turret and surveys the aftermath. "Well," he announces, "now we wait. This has already become far too Hitchcockian. The lighting. The tracking shots. I require square-jawed innovation. A curse on the house of cinematic history."

He swallows five mg of xanax, lights a cigarette, and stares into the middle distance. He takes drags from the cigarette, inhaling and exhaling, without removing it from his mouth. Eventually he stops dragging on it and his lips fall open and the cigarette falls into the sand and burns out.

From a skyhole, the voice of Reason intones, "Walk to the subject, remove your breasts from the casing, and place your nipples before his lips, as if to dare the lips. Let us see where this goes."

She obeys with robotic subservience. Before she can remove the breasts, however, the subject brains her.

Gristle erupts from her headwound in thick spurts of über-phony CGI.

The battlefield ruptures at the joints. Thin ravines open in the grass and swallow entire embankments of corpses. Then another tank drives out of the trees and somebody climbs out of it.

"You there!" he exclaims. He’s speaking to a very particular person and everybody who has not been killed wonders if they are in fact that person. (Turns out everybody has not been killed by the initial blast, a surprise to All Living Beings most of all, who stand there unscathed, more or less, admiring their strong and capable limbs.)

In the absence of a response from the person in question or anybody else who might have thought he or she may be the person in question, he gets back in the tank and drives back into the woods just as another tank roars out of the woods and parks and somebody gets out.

"Get back in there," orders the skyhole.

Devout, he gets back in the tank and everybody waits to see what will happen next. Surely something will happen next. When all else fails, there is always that which happens next to put faith in. If nothing happened next that would be the end of everything.

So they wait.

Nothing happens.

"This is nothing but another instance of middle-class babbitry. By the law of the father, I condemn thee to—"

A distant thunderclap commands the viewership’s wrecked attention.

"Serial killers may seem attractive on TV, but in fact they are only actors, and the actors who play the roles of serial killers have very likely never killed anybody, and they very likely never will or want to kill anybody. Non-psychopaths can distinguish between the actors and the roles. Psychopaths see only the roles. And when one embraces the role, one ceases to exist." Beat. "Additionally, you are not a serial killer unless you murder at least three people over the duration of at least one month. This is the Law. If you only kill one or two people in your lives, or if you kill thousands of people in the span of a few days, you’re just a crazy asshole with some problems. The moral: kill fast if you’re going to kill en masse, and if you’re only going to kill one or two people, choose wisely and make it count."

The battle without honor or humanity extends from the body to the word.

My body. My word.

My battle.

As a matter of course, Elizabethan remakes of Shakespearean plays were rampant. Likewise with John Webster’s plays. The Duchess of Malfi must have been remade with different actors and different costumes and different special effects at least a thousand times by 1615, only two years after it was written. Elizabethans enjoyed all of the fucking. They especially liked the carnage. After awhile the Queen said it would be ok to actually murder some of the actors onstage so long as they were proles.

In one remake, a tank drove through the wall of the Globe Theater and drove over everybody standing in the Yard and drove up onto the stage and parked on the stage’s foremost promontory. Everybody in the galleries looked on expectantly, ignoring the flying squirrels that played about in the heavens. Somebody got out of the tank and fell into the orchestra pit, impaling himself on a violinist’s bow. Somebody else emerged from the tank and threw a grenade into the Yard. The proles sort of watched it arc across the sky and fall into the mud and then they blinked at it. Dud. The person who threw it—not a soldier, per se, but something like a bureaucrat or a bank clerk—tried to throw another one but after he pulled the pin he held onto it for too long and the grenade exploded and blew off his hand and most of his arm. He bled out like a fumarole and everybody clapped.

Voyeur tableaux. Store-window microcosms. Dioramas.

"There comes a time in your life when you must use the second person in reference to yourself as you ask yourself the most important question you will ever ask yourself: Should you kill yourself? Then the second most important question: If you kill yourself, how will you kill yourself? There it is. And with that seminal chord struck, you wonder why pornstars can’t stop smoking. Not one of them has ever quit smoking. Not one. And most of them are smokers. Clearly there is a link between porn and cigarettes. Clearly we—"

Run over by a tank.

You don’t know. Until you know.

Then somebody douses the forest fire. Everything hisses and deflates as the clouds flicker off. They go dark and cold and flat, emptied of all equations, hallowed by every answer. Like that.


Grimley Bogue is the leader of the Pogocratic party and the President of the United States. He lives in Bliptown.