Amongst the Heaps
by Micah Castle
Endlessly we toil before the fiery maw, feeding the flames coal under towering smokestacks, billowing thick, black smog.
The world trembles and rattles with each step of the crude titanic legs, tearing the earth asunder as it mindlessly journeys.
Heaps of brittle, blackened corpses lie in the dark corners, half-hidden by shadows. We take from the piles, too, throwing them into the fire. More fuel, life for our home. Terrified to look below; horrified to see the dregs of humanity.
We futilely fill its blazing belly, staving off death, until others take our place and we’re amongst the heaps.
His mother called him “Willy-Lump-Lump” when she was angry. She was angry often: at his father who vanished long ago, strangers who said *smile*, colleagues who laughed when she recalled her beauty queen days. She still had the shoulders and cheekbones, but her hair had turned gray in her fifth month and her waist went the way of the boy’s father. The boy devoured Karo syrup sandwiches after school; spooned jelly under the covers; shoplifted Butterfingers, TastyKakes, Doritos. Now, he is six-foot-three and mostly muscle. He works on Wall Street, has a postcard-perfect family, guzzles Jagermeister after his mother visits.
by Josh Cohen
I didn’t wear flip-flops for the excursion from patio to parking lot. There was no need—the path was paved, and I just needed sunscreen from the rental car. But had I known the vole’s morning routine, maybe I would have donned footwear. Either way, the result would have been the same. A flattened creature pleading for swift mercy.
With an unread USA Today, I swept the evidence into a garden bed. I didn’t bury it. Or eulogize it. There was no time—I could already hear the clang of the next trolley bound for the beach.