The Infinite Orbit – or – The Two-Headed Faun (short story – revised version)

2HF

I live alone in this drafty house. I used to have a roommate, but he left a month ago. His rent check is sorely missed, if not his musky odor and alt-right leanings. At least it’s quieter now.

My routine is becoming predictable. I wake up craving pills then drag my lanky frame outside to jog away some nervous energy. After showering, I change into my usher’s uniform and report to the local multiplex to earn my minimum wage. I shovel popcorn and scrub vile stains off theater seats for a few hours before driving home to finish off my evening. After a microwaved meal, I immediately climb the stairs to my bedroom and browse my phone until I pass out. Repeat ad nauseam.

Most of my friends and coworkers seem disinterested with me now that I’m clean. I must come off as an ass when I’m not sedated, but I stand by my decision. Trading a few spurious relationships for a renewed sense of clarity was easier than I expected. Swallowing drugs in emptied theaters made the day pass quicker, but I’m starting to get used to a life less numb. Reawakening to the true state of this fucked-up world can smother you in loneliness. Hunger, poverty, violence, corruption–I should feel lucky to have been spared most of society’s horrors but somehow I’m still depressed. I have food to eat and a place to live. Maybe I’m just selfish. Probably.

Time crawls as I plod through my shift. I’m craving Xanax more than usual. Desperate for a distraction, I push my ear to the velvet-lined wall of an empty auditorium and listen to the dull thump of the blockbuster next door. The endless procession of overblown bass helps muffle the screams of my addiction.

Continue reading

Advertisements

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Hi readers!

I changed all the double hyphens (–) into proper em dashes (—) in “The Secret Sea,” just in case the offending punctuation was keeping you from reading the story. Rest assured, all your em dash needs have now been met!

Read the new and improved version HERE!

raccoon

THE SECRET SEA

THE SECRET SEA – short story (science fantasy – newly revised)

the secret sea alternate

THE SECRET SEA

By Nathan Goldschot

 

The first leap sends me hundreds of feet into the air. I land softly then spring up again, bounding across countless acres of verdant forest. Pure elation. It’s the best dream I’ve ever had.

A stray cat is loose in our house. I catch a glimpse of it before it runs into the basement. The feline turns toward me, revealing it has the shocked face of an old man. One of my most memorable nightmares.

Until this week, I knew what to expect from my brain’s late-night meanderings through the subconscious. This new, reoccurring dream is something vastly different. Not pleasant or nightmarish, just insistent and exhausting. I’d write it off as a byproduct of stress, but somehow I know it’s not.

Continue reading

Paper Altar

churck

By Nathan Goldschot

 

My faith in you was unwavering. You were the light and I the jealous darkness. Blinded by your luminous presence, I reshaped my world just to be near you. I harbored a furtive penitence to accept what I could not change. An unrequited liturgy.

Then, you were gone–your name gracing a granite marker on flat, pastoral ground. I spurned your mortality until there was no denying your energy had returned to still earth. I remained your secret acolyte and mourned alone.

Now.

I acquiesce to abstract images and black and white illusions. Memories flashing on a cinema screen inside my hollow chest. A corruption of your grandeur but one I can manage. I twist my perceptions to peer through a window at a utopia I could never breach–an atmosphere I could never breathe. Distorted reenactments of fleeting moments. Cold comfort.

Tonight I am not alone in my theater. I fight back a panic knowing you’re somehow beside me. A tectonic tension scrapes between us as if you’ve never left my side. The force of your silent will bends me in repentance. I swear my faith in you will never again falter. A sweet-tempered laugh lifts me to your coruscating gaze. My awe fades. A renewed temptation gnaws at me–one I dare not test.

The projector breaks and the film jams. Celluloid melts in incandescent light. Oak beams shatter and old stones twist as the cinema stretches lofty and wide. The screen folds itself into a paper altar inside my vacant rib cage. I feel it burning. A great temple rises where the theater was razed. Throughout the tribulation you remain serene.

You subvert my long-standing agony and embrace me. I sacrifice myself to your radiance. Ready to suffocate. To disintegrate. You crawl to my lap in this cheap theater seat to consecrate my devotion. I am numinous as you envelop me.

My body melts against yours. Tectonic tension creating molten heat. You burn away all that I am. Deep rooted pain reduces to ash. Scorched and sinewed flesh is renewed as the magma recedes. Plates shift. Earth quakes.

We defile the sacrament. Angels fall at our feet. The temple collapses under a truth holier than my faith. Regret is our antichrist and discernment the only sin. Your body cleaves to mine and all I can do is smile–awash in the conflagration.

You take my hand and we leave the ruined church behind. My inner alter turns inside out, revealing a fragile sanctuary. Low ceilings. No windows. Dusty oil paintings hang from cedar paneled walls, shouting scenes of the sea. Moldering books, photo albums and rolls of papers tied with string are stacked on a trio of broken Windsor chairs. Water damaged vinyl records lean against a dying potted fern. I can hear an unseen ocean roiling just behind the walls. This dilapidated house creaks and leans. It is ours alone.

You laugh and ask if this is the best I can muster and I say yes.

I keep you close, our bodies intertwined. You share your light but I am not fit to hold a single spark. Purity clashes with chaos, pushing up mountains beyond our sight–jagged peaks scraping the sky. You soothe me with a smile, your hand pressing to my heaving chest. I push the fragmenting world away to join you in a fleeting moment of uncomplicated bliss. Your supple skin intangible as I caress your cheek. Our kiss abruptly ends.

You slip away from me with a grin and hurry to the bathroom, disappearing behind a shower curtain. I hear the water run and step closer. You smile as I pull back the curtain and warn me I’ll get wet but I don’t care. I gently stroke the curve of your breast and run my hand along the pale slope of your skin to your hip. Try as I might, I cannot bear your ardent gaze. I step away with a gasp as your divine light reignites.

Your tone is gentle as you ask me what’s wrong, as if the question could be anything but condescending. I slump in defeat. What could this be if not an act of pity? My renewed fervor dooms us and this place. Our fragile shelter cannot withstand the crashing waves beyond the walls. The boards surrounding us begin to splinter. The concern gracing your face fills me with dread.

You step out of the shower and hurry to the main room of our sanctuary. I watch in confusion as you collect bundles of paper, fading photo albums and warped records. You stack as much as you can in my outstretched arms and you tell me to run but I’m not leaving you behind. Not again. Your hands press to my shoulders as I drop the burden you’ve thrust upon me. You kiss me tenderly and I know it’s for the last time.

The paper altar has burned away. You’re still with me but your form is nebulous. I strain to listen to your words but they make no sense. Our sanctuary sinks into the sea as the landscape shifts and falters. A stone wall. A grassy plain. A strange and frightening abyss.

This is a dream. It’s impossible to deny. I am desperate to hold on but logic rips you from my grasp. I thrust my arms in front of me in frustration and open my eyes.

Sunlight shines through my bedroom window, cutting a swath across my middle. My heart is boxed in light. I sit up with a groan and hold my head in my hands.

You’ve never felt so far away.

 

Movie Review: LIMA GUTIÉRREZ AND THE RENTAL OF GLOOM (1985)

Movie Review:

LIMA GUTIÉRREZ AND THE RENTAL OF GLOOM

(Released March 21, 1985 by Wayne-Scott Pictures LLC)

guitterez

(SPOILER WARNING) Listen, I can’t do this right now. Instead, I’ve decided to turn Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69” into a short story.

THE SUMMER OF ’69.

I wasn’t particularly tall, strong or smart–just another unremarkable teenage farm boy from Saskatchewan. High School girls weren’t interested in my earnest attempts to woo them, so I joined the hockey team, hoping it would garner me some attention. Sadly, being trapped on the bench didn’t help matters. Tired of being a loser, I scrounged up enough cash to buy a cheap electric guitar at the five-and-dime. As soon as my fingers strummed the strings of that cherry-red Fender, I knew I’d never be the same.

After completing my junior year, I found some other like-minded loners and started a band. We tried–we tried real hard–to make an impact, and soon we did. After achieving my goal of getting laid, my ambition only grew. Rock dreams danced in my head and I dragged the other guys along on a makeshift tour. We graduated from garages and parks to dive bars in a few short weeks. I played as if we were headlining Wembley Stadium even if there were only five people in the crowd. I wished the summer would last forever.

Sadly, the ensuing months were not kind to our musical careers. We were destined to be a bar band, and nothing else. My single minded obsession and breakneck drive eventually drove Jimmy and his bass guitar away. Shortly thereafter, my drummer Jody married some groupie from the garage days, leaving me a solo act. Unbowed, I continued to squander my senior year, sacrificing my diploma to the rock and roll gods. With my slavish devotion ultimately proving fruitless, I cased up my six-string and cashed in a reality check.

Dejected, I moved back home and got a job at the local Drive-in. I sold a cute blonde girl some popcorn one hot August night and walked her home after the movie, telling her about my broken dreams of rock stardom. She told me not to give up hope as we stood face to face on her mother’s porch–but I was so lost in her piercing blue eyes I was barely listening. When she kissed me, my ambition forever shifted. In a supreme act of sweetness, she told me she’d wait for me while I went out on my next tour, but I didn’t want to wait for her. Soon, we were married with all the trappings–kids, a mortgage and a 9 to 5. I had been reunited with my boring rural life and couldn’t be happier. The cherry-red Fender started gathering dust in the attic.

Still, as content as I am, I look back at my time in that shitty band as the best days of my life.

It was the summer of ’69.

END.

Ugh, that hurt. Look, I know that song is just about oral sex, but I wasn’t about to write that. Come on, Bryan.

Anyway, I give this movie:

index

Five Stars.

 

Thank you for reading.
Above image adapted from “Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold” (1986)