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The Sun Magazine

Fiction

A Short History Of Part Of North Carolina

With Some Names Changed To Protect The Innocent, The Guilty, & The Dead

They had locked chains around Lester’s skinny ankles. The faded blue prison shirt and pants fitted poorly on Lester’s five-eight body, all of a hundred pounds. “Lester won’t come out,” Bambi said. She was right. Lester hanged himself in his cell within the year.

The Wanderer

I was walking with a friend a few nights ago, sharing tales of lusty, high adventure drawn from a mid-winter’s odyssey to Boston, when Joe offered a remarkable insight: “You know, it’s the settled man who keeps the wanderer on the road.”

Rubbish

Eventually, when it was clear that things could not go on as they were, and it was obvious to everyone that matters were now completely out of hand, that something had to be done, we had a meeting in the town hall, all of us crowded in.

What We Lost

We were losing parts of ourselves. A reporter discovered a trove of ears in a burlap sack. The leader said the papers were lying, and we weren’t sure what was rumor and what was fact. What happened to me, what happened to my neighbors — that wasn’t enough proof of all we had lost.

Believers

Now he’s here, and there had better be something holy in this darkness. So he puts his hands up and opens his eyes as wide as he can and says he has a message from God. Slowly everyone turns. They see a skinny kid who is not quite a man speaking words that are hard to unravel because of his accent.

A Few Personal Observations On Portals

The first portal that appeared in town belonged to Mr. Hogan. It showed up in one of his bathrooms above the sink, blocking a good deal of his vanity mirror and causing several shaving accidents. I don’t know why the portal appeared to him. It’s not like he was the type to attract otherworldly things.

Reality Fire

Water will not put out a reality fire. Those little red extinguishers are useless. A reality fire will not be tamed. As the eyes move from object to object each bursts into flames and is consumed, gone forever, and no smoke either — for a reality fire will consume so thoroughly that nothing is wasted. No smoke escapes. Never any smoke. From a reality fire there is no smoke.

Stop Hitting Yourself

I was twenty-six, working full time at the Bagelry in suburban Chicago, avoiding the future. The future did not seem like anything you could count on. Even in suburban Chicago, where Public Works employees smiled while scraping up roadkill, people were unhappy, desperate to convince themselves of something good. Desperate.