OF MONSTERS is a series of flash fiction exploring what it means to be monstrous, and each piece, small and silver-wrapped, opens to reveal something different. In Dana Diehl’s “Child Star,” monstrousness is fame, and the feeling that your body is undependable, might any moment split like a seam. In “Jane Eyre,” Zach Doss explores the monstrousness of cutting someone to bits and reconstruction, of a love turned scientific and procedural. Monstrousness is having a fish in your heart, is a series a B movies where we’re just waiting to be attacked, is the pebbling in of a migraine, is being a different sort of person in your attic, is darkness, is senility, is the struggle to swallow. A topcoat of witchcraft. The hint of a tentacle in a pool. Monstrousness is being the person who wasn’t good enough to love. Is the dragon you can’t control. Is knowing how powerless you are.
The series is inspired by Melissa Goodrich’s debut collection Daughters of Monsters, a raw and magical book of spells, an honest yet harrowing look at the wonder and threat of the world.
Of the urban afternoon: the electrical velvet hum of neon, the swish of knee-length skirts, the low insouciant chirp and spit of wayward crickets; the glycerin shine of shaven heads, the low growl and bark of engines, the vertiginous wheel of pickpockets. Tires on hot pavement; running water; breaking glass. The bay of dogs. The myriad, intercut, and inane voices of channel -flipping or -surfing TVs; the whisk of soles on sidewalk like straight razors on leather; Yiddish cursing. The coo of nested pigeons. The huff and puff of the huffers and puffers at lunch-hour exercise; the slap of full-bore running shoes, imperative police cries involving variations on the word stop. Beeps, shrieks, and car horns; proceeding and receding sirens; the wooden thuds of slammed doors; back fires from automobiles. Runaways cowering in corners feeling nostalgic for the good life they never actually had or that just hasn’t happened yet. Shadows boxing. A blue-haired geriatric vehemently arguing over current affairs. A smooth-skinned multiple piercee poo-poohing old-timey notions. The tick of a wristwatch, the hushed rolling roar of an overhead airplane, the obvious lack of bird-sound. Risen-hackle hounds and slinking felines. Wind chimes. A love poem in Spanish. The signifying ring or bing of business doors, the cicada-like buzz of streetlights left on at midday, the faint but ubiquitous sewer shit-stink denied by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. The whine and cry of infants. The shuffle and whisper of wind-blown paper-product garbage, the clank of tin cans and crash of thrown bottles. The tinny big-band oom-pah-pah wafting from apartment windows. The half-hearty salutations of non-sanctioned street vendors peddling Rolex imitations or low-grade dope or real husk-wrapped Tamales. The tap tap of heels on the alley’s carry-over cobblestone. The rabid smell of burnt ground beef, cigarette smoke hiding the fragrance of Cuban cigars, traces of perfume trailing yellow dressed anorexic women like phosphene trails. The guttural snarl of obscenity in German. Clanks and clatters. Tall, ?-shaped street lamps. Tinkles, jingles, swells, and booms. The snick of cigarette lighters. Mutters, ripples, rumbles, uproars and hullaballoos. Children, free of the Y chromosome, passing from girl- to maiden- to widowhood as they stroll the street. Eyes you can read by the shine of. The null-noise of the wind.
Silas Dent Zobal has stories in the Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, New Orleans Review, North American Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He has been awarded a NEA fellowship in fiction, won the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, and been a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His collection of stories, The Inconvenience of the Wings, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. His debut novel, The People of the Broken Neck, will be released in October. Find him: www.silasdentzobal.com