Tag Archives | short fiction

Friday Fiction: At Recess, There Will Be Worms

This story is somewhat autobiographical (the stuff about the shoes and living in England is true) but otherwise, it’s fiction inspired by the smell of worms in April, which is SO tantalizingly close now.

Can of wormsAt recess, there will be worms

By Mark A. Rayner

Each April would bring rain, worms and mortification. But this year was going to be different. I could feel it in the marrow of my ten-year-old bones, because this year, I didn’t have to wear the clunky black oxford shoes that had been the bane of my existence for most of my short life.

In kindergarten, there was still a glorious joi-de-vivre to everything. Need to take off your dress in the middle of class? Why not! Wanna eat the paste? Go for it! Mom makes you wear ugly black shoes? We don’t care, you’re beautiful baby! But sometime in early grade one, that laissez-faire attitude changed. All of us discovered, in our own ways, the horrible truth: “I’m different and that’s bad.” My difference was a minor one — my shoes were weird. But this kind of tiny deviation from the norm can have enormous consequences. I became a figure of fun and teasing for at least a few minutes of every day that I had to wear that hyper-functional footwear.

I’d had one brief respite from the embarrassment of those shoes, which was the year my family had lived in Britain. I was sent to a state school where the food was terrible, the teachers were mean, and most of my classmates were jerks, but did I care? No, because everybody was wearing clunky black oxfords, so I didn’t stand out. My “American” accent was distinctive, but that was one of those rare differences that made people like you.

Read the rest of the story …>

Alltop had to wear sacks on its feet, and was happy for them! Originally published in April, 2007.

Doug the neurotic invents a corollary on his daily commute

Revenge of the chickenOkay, I’ll admit it. I’m freaking out.

I ate at Wendy’s last night, and then I’m reading the paper today — yeah, like I do everyday on the bus — and so I’m reading the paper, and what do I see? Bird Flu! There was another breakout of bird flu in a freakin’ chicken farm in Canada!

Yeah, I know you can’t catch bird flu from a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but still. I’m just saying that it’s a sign. It’s just a matter of time. That or the polar bears. Where the hell are they going to go when the last of the polar icecaps melt? The motherfuckers are either going to drown or head south and look for a little protein in Doug form. Spicy Doug Sandwich. Did you know the polar bear is the biggest land predator in the world? Yeah, and they aren’t going to catch bird flu. Not to mention the terrorists. If they don’t get me than for sure some crypto-Nazi is going to rendition me to somewhere where water-boarding is like foreplay.

Holy shit! It says here that some of the people working with the chickens caught Bird Flu. Oh God, I don’t want to catch BIRD FLU.

Why the hell is everyone looking so calm? Look at that dude. He’s just listening to his iPod, pretending that we’re not all about to die from an anthrax attack. It says we will right here on page three.

The bus is awfully slow today. I wonder if that’s because the driver is working with the terrorists, or maybe he has the beginnings of BIRD FLU and it’s slowing him down? All these stories keep saying it’s only a matter of time until the virus leaps from poultry to humans. Just like the terrorists. They’re going to do another big attack.


They haven’t, have they? Maybe if the media is really covering a story like this, that reduces the chances of the thing actually happening. What if there is some sort of inverse relationship to disaster and the amount of fear churned up by the media: the more ink and airtime devoted, the less likely there will be a disaster?

Oh shit. What if there was some kind of OTHER relationship, like a corollary to Murphy’s Law? What is that? Anything that can go, will go wrong. No, that’s Microsoft’s motto. Anything that can go wrong, will.

Like, my bus is late. It can be late, so it is late. I’m going to have to run to catch my transfer. Bastards.

What if there’s some kind of corollary to Murphy’s Law? Anything that can go wrong, will, unless the media gives it saturation coverage … in which case, something else will go even more horribly wrong. Not bad. Call it Doug’s Corollary.

Finally, the bus is at my stop. Come on lady, move. I got to run.

Wait! If that is true, what is worse than BIRD FLU?

Dashing now. I’m still fast. Not young enough to fight off BIRD FLU, but still quick.

Oh my God. Ohmygodohmygod, EBOLA is worse than BIRD FLU!

Oh God, I’m going to catch some new strain of EBOLA and bleed out from they eye sockets and shit! It’s going to wipe me out like a —


The End
Photo by Mark Lorch