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The Big Stupid Review


American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
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By christopher Hart

Thirty-one Minutes

They rested their bodies against the crumbling walls of the interior courtyard, exhaustion pressing their shoulders downwards in the midst of a suspicious and screeching silence. Sarah's two male companions straightened their tired, aching backs, exertion visible through the slowness of their movements. Knuckles red and worn from exposure to the elements, the men simultaneously lit hand rolled cigarettes.

Death remained a permanent fixture in the soldiers' daily lives. As inconspicuous as an elephant, it could not be missed. It enveloped, diffused through, and floated within the air. It was smelled in the grass, was felt in the cold smoothness of rifle butts, was tasted in the drinking water, was heard in the beating of birds' wings, and was witnessed when a comrade succumbed to its advances. And it was clever. By remaining ever so still, it could convince unsuspecting soldiers that their feelings were illusionary; that it was a behemoth that happened to have perished while standing, bones crumbling into dust. This was its magic: it lulled its victims into complacency, causing them to forget that Death could not be defeated, nor escaped, but was eternal.

Without fail, soldiers crossed the demarcation between reality and Death's realm. But the entry was never immediately perceptible. A temporal fluctuation, a realignment of reality's fabric, was not something that occurred instantaneously. Instead, victims resided for moments in this nether-Realm, transfixed by the beauty of the location, until a mini-tremor reframed their surroundings. Shifting, reality's edges shook and bulged against their constraints, and settled into a new conformation: beauty transformed into ugliness, love into indifference, happiness into pain.

smile - be happy

Twenty-eight Minutes

The smoke curled up lazily, resting in a grey cloud above their heads as the artillery bombardment began. Momentarily absent, then present, the wind alternated between powerful gusts and pitiful whimpers. The sun irradiated the crumbling courtyard walls surrounding the men and woman. Traces of moisture visible on large pieces of reddish green stone that composed the walls of the courtyard indicated the gelid temperature for the particular time of year. The verdant green grass in the courtyard moved in rhythm with the explosion of bombshells, ruining the silence, while in the far corner a grove of pink crabapple trees swayed in the wind.

Sarah dreamt of glorious childhood occurrences, small remembrances cocooned deep in the brain, impossible to forget. Before hunger, before the emotional numbness accompanying war, there was: dark blue water at eye level; surfacing from the depths of Charleston Lake; crawling onto a floating dock; cannon balling into water; falling into darkness; darkness transitioning into pinkness; sliding through pinkness upon a tarnished piece of sheet metal; emerging onto a mountain with a panoramic view in all directions, trees and stones as far as the eye could see; a man speaking -Sarah, are you glad we've made it to the top of the mountain? Answering —Yes Daddy, thank you for taking me; more speaking —Peanut butter or ham and cheese? Responding murmurs —Ham and cheese; more mumbles —Are you tired? Cold? Anything sore? She answering —No, I feel fine; at home, enveloped by the heat emanating from the arched fireplace, warm bed sheets surrounding her feet; a strongly built young man climbing through her window; the man sliding into her bed; a child's toothless smile gazing from the crook of her arm.

Then the dream tilted imperceptibly, its edges spasmodically convulsing, trumpeting the arrival of an entity wholly unpleasant. Innocent memories suffered the broad brush stroke of disease and terror: hideous caricatures of her most private memories emerged from dark recesses, like unseen spiders escaping from orange rusty drain pipes in the darkness of night. Once immutable scenes became altered, the fine details of special memories morphing, though they retained a similarity to their precursors, an additional torment.

Her screaming surfaced from the depths of slumber, until she convulsed on the green grass beside her companions and woke herself. Her friends gaped at her, frightened but not quite so — appearing more pitiful than scared — as grayish tinged skin, dirt covered fatigues, and thinness reflected from them. She reciprocated their stare, wordlessly communicating the multitude of emotions rushing through her mind, and the men understood innately, having suffered their own nightmares.

Breaking the silence, Sarah quipped, "I hope this siege ends soon." The men continued to smoke their cigarettes, and Sarah soaked in the lingering effects of her nightmares.

smile - be happy

Twelve minutes

Their silence was punctured by a bomb shell landing squarely on top of the grove of pink crabapple trees in the courtyard. Brown, crusted, rippled pieces of bark launched into the air, hurled in arcs from the epicenter of the blast to the corners of the compound. In all directions, mangled apple pieces sprayed outwards with blazing hot pieces of metal; pink leaves materialized in every corner of the compound, slowly drifting from the sky.

Sitting in stunned disbelief — soaked in apple juice and covered with tree remnants — the three soldiers watched as the pink crab apple leaves descended from the sky. A dreamlike quality enveloped the scene — the edges appeared to be blurred and fuzzy like a dream sequence from a cheaply produced movie, but perhaps this smudging was only illusory. From the corner of the courtyard, a giant crater winked at the soldiers, who lay opposite the inverted protrusion, and from the sky the pink leaves tumbled like confetti at a young girl's birthday celebration. "Close call," Sarah said.

The soldiers stood upright; heads held towards the sky, they observed the pink leaves sway left and right with the wind and descend upon their army fatigues. "Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?" one of the men asked.

don't worry - be happy

Six Minutes

His query remained unanswered. Instead, as a sense of wonderment simmered through them, the soldiers linked their hands and walked towards the remnants of the grove of crab apple trees. They studied the charred remains as they arrived where the grove of trees had been, their faces containing a puzzled, inquisitive quality —like a child's face when a new experience presents itself. Black, charred soil surrounded the blast perimeter in a fifteen meter radius, pieces of wood lay strewn about, and stumps of trees stuck up from the ground at random spots. Pink leaves lay upon the grisly scene, contrasting starkly with the dark earth.

Perhaps sensing that they would soon share the same fate as the trees, the soldiers bowed their heads in prayer. Sarah ran her free hand against the crumbling blocks in the wall, feeling the moistness, the coolness, the grittiness, the ridges of the stone. As the men began to cry, sensing the passing and mourning the loss of life, a gust of wind billowed through the courtyard.

don't worry - be happy

Zero Minutes

Entranced with the majestic scene, the soldiers heard not the ominous whistling of the shell that would end their lives. Few final words were uttered, or grand gestures made. Sarah continued to feel the contours of the walls, picking at a piece of green moss. Kneeling, the men picked up handfuls of pink leaves, released them, and watched them flutter to the ground. "There is symmetry in everything, even on this forsaken piece of land," Sarah stated. Her companions weren't quite sure they understood, but they nodded in agreement.

Sarah's final thought was of her husband; one man focused on the trajectories of the fluttering leaves; the other man thought of nothing. Then a searing heat ran through their very cores, and the three soldiers felt and became nothing. The moment which every person hurtles towards reached its final destination for the soldiers.

From a distance the scene appeared a grisly parallel to the shell landing on top of the grove of crab apple trees. Pieces of bone, skin, and body parts sprayed across the entire courtyard; an arm, part of a head, and a foot made arcs into the air and fell to the ground; metal hurled in every direction; instead of pink leaves, tiny pieces of Sarah and the two men appeared to materialize over the courtyard; and the walls of the courtyard were covered with specks of red.

The scene, which moments ago had possessed a hazy, beautiful, dreamlike feeling, had morphed into a nightmare: as though the passage of time between the death of the crabapple trees and the death of the soldiers had never happened; as though there was a seamless connection existing between the events; as though one had been experiencing a pleasant dream, when the dream had suddenly morphed into a nightmare. Such is war. Perhaps the pink leaves were only an illusion and all along had been blood and entrails.

© Christopher Hart 2008