two stories by mark thomas stevenson

PLAID TEETH

Civilization

Our Apocalypse came and went, and for the most part we were alright. We still got around just fine, still plenty to eat. Now would be the soft-focus life we were always promised, we’d be so happy. We rebuilt slowly — more careful than before, at least — our own intimate Republic. How we got around, what we’d do for medical care, what faculties we still had; these were our main concerns.

Society

A couple of us had this theory, what we came to call the “Universal Reasoning of Reduced Resource” or, abbreviated, URRR.

Our theory states that, a) in almost all capacities, our prior means and life skills are bound to be slightly diminished, and b) that certain disciplines may be less diminished than others.

For instance, the best doctors we had — the neurosurgeons of our former lives — turned out to equal, post-End Times, approximately, the med student who’s had one too many Rob Roys. Whereas any med student, in light of URRR, is as good as dead, presently. Our best basketball players proved worse than useless. Our musicians not an arm to carry a tune, our Casanovas cut down to mere minutemen. But we still retained people to stitch and re-stitch, attach and, if called-for, remove.

One time I fucked Carol’s left leg clean off, from her thigh-down. It slid to the rug in slack thump. I’m not going to say I’m not proud of this. We laughed and laughed, eyes like torn glass, as Dr. Casper stitched it back the wrong way round; un-did, re-dud.

Leisure

In those first years we settled, lazed. Life became less a constant hum, more a long braise, slow boil. It was a second kind of life, to sit across from friends and former lovers, as we did, now freshly seen, newly shown. We spent quality time, a thing we’d only vaguely known of in our former lives. We spent quality time with one another. We could become, we thought, finally, wholly, understood.

We didn’t have to work. Instead we’d go for walks, picnic; half a toddler hunkered into the hamper, a cooler on-hand from the abandoned blood-drive trailer. We ate and drank smilingly under ash-haunted sun, struggling to inhale, gasping, the air thick with clot ghosts.

We were so happy.

Broadcast

We had almost no contact with those further out, what with the gas and electric finally gone for good. No post, no bills. Not even the best of us could figure how to revive power — not the rocket scientists, nor the physicists — so no heat, no light. It didn’t matter; the cold’d come and run straight through us without even a tickle. And we weren’t afraid of the dark anymore; we were the worst face the night could conjure.

In the darkest hour, there was nothing to divide earth from space.

Law, Order

Law and order’s relatively easy. It’s hard to step out of any line, here.

There aren’t many lines to speak of, is what I mean.

Sometimes we get a little over-excited when one of us stumbles upon a Catholic school, or shoelace factory — something out of the way, ripe with possibility. In the latter case, the food was relatively fresh. We watched them sway from the rafters and steel mezzanines, fairly newly-hung, from the same noosed laces advertised across the sign at the building’s face.

It must be some warm glow, to have such unblinking faith in something formed from your hands, enough to take that final fall with pride, in this thing you made.

These days we don’t make things.

Faith

We miss god, some of us. When the churches or religious schools are raided, a few still moan low, exaggerate half-felt guilt, try to cry-out, tear off an ear instead; settling for small penance.

There’re a few who still shuffle to their knees in prayer, mid-meal; giving thanks, scraps of plaid skirt in their teeth, a minister’s gold filling passing through their gut, glinting-out, in want of light, from a hole in their torn workshirt, bloodied, thickly layered.

Future

In spite of this we manage, ‘we carry-on carrion on.’ A little pun, to lighten the mood. No? Oh. In any case, at times I consider leaving here, scouring further afield, except our best pilot might as well be a unicyclist.

Hard to get the staff these days.

We’ve survived, at least.
 
 
EXERCISE; detention, Ms. Teesdale, Form X, Yr.6

PROGRESSION -

i. My dad

ii. My dad’s dead

iii. My dad’s dead dog

iv. My dad’s dead dog Jeb

v. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up

vi. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand

vii. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held

viii. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it

ix. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in

x. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw

xi. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey

xii. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and

xiii. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft

xiv. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool

xv. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool spooled

xvi. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool spooled from his

xvii. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool spooled from his jowls

xviii. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool spooled from his jowls a

xix. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool spooled from his jowls a fine

xx. My dad’s dead dog Jeb dug up his hand held it in his jaw grey and soft drool spooled from his jowls a fine film.

PUNCTUATION -

          1. My dad’s dead.             dog, Jeb, dug up his hand.             held it in his jaw, grey and soft.             drool spooled from his jowls,               a fine film

          2. My dad’s dead dog, Jeb, dug-up.             his hand, held it.             in his jaw, grey.             and soft drool spooled.             from               his jowls, a fine film

          3. My dad’s dead, dog!             Jeb dug up his hand-held.             it, in his jaw, grey and soft.             drool spooled from his jowls.               a fine film!

SEQUENCE -

          [Alphabetical]

aaaaaabbdddddddddddeeeeeeffffggghhhhhiiiiiiijjjlllllmmmnnnnoooooooopprrrsssssssttuuwwy

          [Numerical]

ybbppttuuwwgggjjjmmmrrrffffnnnnhhhhhlllllaaaaaaeeeeeeiiiiiiisssssssooooooooddddddddddd

          [Compose]

ALL   BLOOM   DIES /  EEJ   death   Tho  SAD  /  ALI_E    IN   LOAM /  ERF /

O   DIDDRD   GHOS_  /  D _ _ _ _ /  PFF  /

Pussi. d_f   gi _ _    g _ _ d    h _ _ _ !  /   So i w/n!!!        j j r N h ! ! !

DISCUSS -

Nah
 
 
Mark Thomas Stevenson works and lives in NW England, where he does other things too, like sleep, and eat bacon, and also write. He can be found inside the internet, at famousauthorquotes.com.