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You don’t get to choose the supply chain you’re born into but you sure can feel bad about it. It’s simple enough to do, feeling. Like the supply chain, it suffers little interruption.

Even the smallest container ship will displace two hundred thousand tons. One could spend a whole life in penance and never shift that weight. So Norman pays today’s feeling with appreciation, honoring what the chain has brought him, from an aching foothill somwehere in Argentina. It leaves trace oils and memories on his fingers as they pick this treasure apart: tiny jewel, royal bauble, a tangerine in winter.


Meredith is haunted by the past, specifically in the form of a poltergeist. It likes to knock things off countertops and shelves when she has company. She’s learned to be quick with her hands and a grin, but even if you catch the falling glass of wine you’re going to get splashed.

“Are you supposed to be some kind of message?” she seethes at the past, scrubbing the carpet again. “Or lesson? I’ve learned enough goddamn NOT THE URN”

Somebody once told Meredith that poltergeists are manifest repression, buried thoughts, the psychic bleeding into the physical. She just won’t remember who.


Aniridia is wrestling with the end of the world, who has already used four illegal tactics including her teeth.

“You can’t win,” whispers the end of the world in Aniridia’s sweating ear. “You can’t even see what winning would look like.”

“Yeah,” grits Aniridia, “but it’s the only game in town.” Her teeth are grinding, and so is her shoulder, an inch from the ground.

“This isn’t a fair fight,” says the end of the world. She’s watching from the audience and checking her phone. “It’s not a fight at all.”

But, Aniridia knows–heart muscles trembling–it isn’t over either.

The Complicit

You make a website with a sign-up form. You stress that it is voluntary. Voluntary! Just until we figure things out.

You make a category for the people who go there, who list their mosque, their birthplace. The category is “compliant.” Just so we have that figured out.

You bring people in for little reasons, things that could be overlooked. You search their name on your website.

You say, did you sign up? Huh. Well.

You explain that only noncompliant people are being held. They had a choice. They chose.

And now you can figure them right the fuck out.


When you pray you burn a sacrifice. It’s the oldest human tradition that isn’t a matter of pure survival, except of course it is a matter of survival, and of keeping something pure. Amy crouches in her cold jacket on the porch she has to leave soon and turns it in her fingers: white paper, black ash, red ember, trace of smoke twisting up to disappear. The buzz has her head a little spinny. She doesn’t pray often, but some days you have to give something up to the sky. There it goes. Watch it rise. A minute of your life.


“The Union forever defending our rights!” strum the Sirens. “Down with the blackleg, all workers unite!”

“Gee, this song is real good,” says Odysseus. “Better untie me, guys! Gotta hear this song!”

“Collective bargaining!” says Aglaope. “Strike for a safe workplace and fewer deaths by cyclops!”

“C’mon, this guy takes a decade to find his own house!” yells Thelxiepeia.

“Aww dang!” says Odysseus, glaring. His crew nods wisely, ears plugged. The ship moves on.

Thelxiepeia sighs. “Maybe we should get rid of the corpses?”

“It’s performance art about capitalism,” snarls Aglaope, and dusts one of the sailors rotting on the rocks.


Wil rattles the pill bottle and shakes out a nostalgesic, but these things don’t take effect right away. He’s been working out of the library all week and it smells like slow evenings to him, a decade ago, spine glue and onionskin and hushed ventilation while she labored at her thesis. Steel stacks. Scuffed corners. The weight of years, and waiting.

You can’t miss what you never had. Wil stares at carrel woodgrain going in and out of blur and tries to calculate how much time he’s wasted missing wasted time, but then the drug kicks in and it’s fine actually.


Two beers tipsy and two months ago, Adam bit her thumb hard and Loni sucked air to keep from yelping. His teeth left purple marks and an oval patch of numb skin over her upper knuckle. The bruise faded, but the feeling’s never come back. Damage lingers, pain subsides.

She’s tried to get him to do it again but ironically, he’s lost the nerve: worried, for once, about the consequences of his actions. Biting herself never works. Loni needs his bitter jaw, needs bite marks from toes to eartips. Needs the ache subtracted, finally, from every raw angle of her bones.


A devil poofs into being on his left. “DO IT NOW,” chuckles the devil.

Another poof. “Do it twice!” says the devil on his right.

“It’s a cookie, not an ethical crisis,” says Jake. “And don’t I get an ange—”

A shoulder dragon appears, breathing tiny flames. “Who’s yelling at you?” she roars. “I’ll burn them!”

“Bird them!” says a pigeon, crowding the devil. “Bird!!! Birb?”

Bite,” hisses a shoulder snake, and chomps affectionately. Jake yelps and drops the cookie. The bird eats it.

“My conscience is confusing,” Jake grumbles.

“Like you follow it anyway,” says the ghost in his phone.


“You beat me home!” says Kelly, dropping her bag to wrap her arms around Dominic from the back and kiss his neck.

“Evan needed help with dinner,” says Dominic, and Evan in turn comes up behind her, burying his face in her hair. Kelly feels a damp patting on her arm and grins.

“You three just wanted extra snuggle time,” she accuses, and they barely even look ashamed. The baby on Evan’s hip emits a high-pitched and happy message. Kelly winks at her. She either has her father’s eyes or her daddy’s nose, but most days they can’t decide which.