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Tuesday, August 12

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On The Gull's Road

A passenger on a trans-Atlantic ship becomes infatuated with the engineer's wife. Part of Electric Literature's series of "Ocean Fiction."

"When any of the ship’s officers passed, they stopped for a word with my neighbor, and I heard the first mate address her as Mrs. Ebbling. When they spoke to her, she smiled appreciatively and answered in low, faltering Italian, but I fancied that she was glad when they passed on and left her to her fixed contemplation of the sea. Her eyes seemed to drink the color of it all day long, and after every interruption they went back to it. There was a kind of pleasure in watching her satisfaction, a kind of excitement in wondering what the water made her remember or forget. She seemed not to wish to talk to any one, but I knew I should like to hear whatever she might be thinking. One could catch some hint of her thoughts, I imagined, from the shadows that came and went across her lips, like the reflection of light clouds. She had a pile of books beside her, but she did not read, and neither could I. I gave up trying at last, and watched the sea, very conscious of her presence, almost of her thoughts."

Monday, August 11

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Migration

The travels and migrations of a troubled young woman.

"Women made warnings of my peasant blouse and pouting thumb to children grown past frightened, but not yet ripened with rebellion. Men offered me rides. Maybe I took the rides. Maybe I left before they offered, tripped on a stone and tended to my bleeding knee."

Friday, August 8

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Haul Road

A conversation between two truckers on a wintry Alaskan highway.

"Even at twenty-five miles an hour the snowfall looks like a TV left on through dawn. French is on the radio, letting the checkpoint know how fucked the storm is. There’s nothing we can do but watch the path of the road to not end up in a ditch, or worse, the pipeline. Of course, the checkpoint’s still timing us, that’s the rules and breaking the haul road’s speed limit is the kind of thing that’ll get you shit-canned. French hangs the mic on the dash. 'Hey, G.P.,' he says, picking up where he left off, “how’s a Green Peace turd like yourself do with the ladies?'"

Thursday, August 7

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Trailer- "The Crawl"

A fictional trailer for a fictional film, dramatizing a civil war among zombies.

"A bridge over a river. Two zombies kiss so hard their faces distort as they shove into each other. Behind them rages a violent battle between crawling and standing dead."

Wednesday, August 6

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The Ghost Between Us

Memories of an abusive father and a mother's ghost.

"One night, he didn’t come home, and we went to bed without dinner. After you’d fallen asleep, I went to the kitchen to make a peanut butter sandwich. I didn’t make you one. I came back into our room and ate quietly. When our mother’s ghost appeared near the foot of your bed, she startled me: I had never before seen the moment of her appearance, and now I did, the flash of it, quick and bright, like an eye opening. I dropped my sandwich on the floor."

Tuesday, August 5

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Mere Increments [Excerpt]

The life of a conflicted IT worker from Iowa.

"Roger Jeffries is given to bouts of fantasy in which he speculates the possibilities suppressed by his current set of circumstances: that, indeed, he could have, if he had chosen to make the effort, packed a moving truck full of his stuff and left UNI for more cultivated frontiers. The Twin Cities, maybe, or Chicago, or back East to New York. Westward to the Pacific, perhaps, a destiny realized in Los Angeles. At any rate, he frequently imagines a young self packing up his stuff and driving for days—regardless of how close this destination might actually have been to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, home of the UNI Panthers, he always envisions driving for days, young, stubbled, over-caffeinated and chain smoking—to some more prestigious or renowned place."

Monday, August 4

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Leibniz

Talking to a woman in an airport, a man shares his life stories and true colors.

"'He was into sports as a kid: baseball, basketball, you name it. He was good. I mean really good. He made all the high school teams. But you should have seen him when he didn’t get his way. He’d yell and scream and act like such a crybaby.' He shook his head. 'He was a real mama’s boy. Never saw him with any girl. I don’t know if he’s straightened out or what. He lives in California now.'"

Friday, August 1

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Campaign

A peculiar dedication in a strange city.

"In the center of the square, the statue of our city's founder, astride his horse, appears to be newly buffed. His long calves, the thick rope of his braid, the gun in one hand and the basket of cherries in the other—symbolizing our affection for violence and fertility—all gleam. The cobblestones are liberated of their usual chaff and cigarette butts."

Thursday, July 31

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Tony's Hat Lies Disused and Vulnerable

Child residents in a trailer park engage in a series of power plays.

"We stared at each other. A standoff that reminded me of our first showdown on the slide. I wanted nothing more than to push him. I imagined my hands in front of me. A simple gesture. He was so small, such a light frame; a mild shove would do it. I’d surprise him with a thrust of both hands, shooting out as if spring-loaded. His eyes would pop out, startled. Maybe he’d grin for a split-second, thinking it a joke."

Wednesday, July 30

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The Janitor in Space

A space station custodian reflects on her terrestrial past.

"She scrubs the fingerprints from the instrument panels, watches the lights flicker and dim. She wonders how many rags she’ll go through, how many surfaces have to get clean before she can finally empty herself of the past. She doesn’t know about metaphors but she knows that even the smallest human vessel has boundless storage for sorrow. Was there a right way to take in so much sorrow it burned clean through the lungs and heart? Was there a right way to atone?"

Tuesday, July 29

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Gunn

Siblings tend to lions at a Tanzanian animal clinic.

"Eleven years her senior, Derek left America when she was fourteen to study and work in New Zealand, Greenland, and Chad, combing lakes for pale bacterial blooms. Over a decade Diana had collected his letters, filled with descriptions of the origins of rivers, dead fish in the Niantic, elephant calves strung up in abattoirs. And when she finished her sophomore year, he founded the Keren Reserve, a lion research conservatory that commanded a half-million acres at the edge of the Sahel. He had filmed four documentaries for television. Now, he researched emerging atavistic traits in the prides: infighting, cubs abandoned by their mothers."

Monday, July 28

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Haida's Story

An excerpt from Murakami's forthcoming novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

“I have a kind of weird story related to death. Something my father told me. He said it was an actual experience he had when he was in his early twenties. Just the age I am now. I’ve heard the story so many times I can remember every detail. It’s a really strange story—it’s hard even now for me to believe it actually happened—but my father isn’t the type to lie about something like that. Or the type who would concoct such a story. I’m sure you know this, but when you make up a story the details change each time you retell it. You tend to embellish things, and forget what you said before. ... But my father’s story, from start to finish, was always exactly the same, each time he told it. So I think it must be something he actually experienced. I’m his son, and I know him really well, so the only thing I can do is believe what he said. But you don’t know my father, Tsukuru, so feel free to believe it or not. Just understand that this is what he told me. You can take it as folklore, or a tale of the supernatural, I don’t mind. It’s a long story, and it’s already late, but do you mind if I tell it?”