But I left-clicked too soon. I expected to be taken to some sham site that was selling books or videos or who knows what. Instead, the world around the computer loaded a new page. And my chair came to life beneath me. Madly, I clicked and prayed. This slowed them all down as they raked inside the emptied husk of fruit on its shoulders. The whole sick scene almost looked like a birthday party from my distance.
I took my time picking them off, one by one, from the rooftop. Whatever the time might have been, the origin was hidden from me. What I saw was unbelievable, yet it was verified by every face and form I encountered: humanity had gone albino. On my office floor, albino secretaries were pepper-dusted with toner.
White-skinned clerks chatted on the phone in their cubicles, the veins pink on their chins and elbows. At lunch, I saw albinos eating hotdogs at a food stand, the pink meat disappearing into their pink mouths and teeth more yellow than their skin. In the park, albinos sat on benches like fine china statues, feeding the birds with stiff gestures.
I found myself drifting around the city, popping into buildings here and there, staring in wonder at the albinos everywhere. Albinos kissing, obscenely mashing red colored tongues between their mouths. Albinos sporting green and blue make up. Albinos wearing Ray Bans like something out of Star Trek. They seemed unaware of their difference. He avoided eye contact more than men usually do at urinals.
The albino in the bathroom was gone by the time I turned to ask him if he knew what had bleached the world. I tried to follow, but he was gone. I tried to get a cab, but no one would pull over. Whites were everywhere. Isolated, yet surrounded, I ran toward my apartment complex on the other side of the city. I feared discrimination, of course. Their eyes were webbed with pink veins, throbbing with fear and distrust. I was the inhuman one. They were waiting at my building. I noticed a gang of them, dressed in pink business suits, milling about the hallway to my apartment like pale, well-dressed skinheads, colluding before an attack.
They surrounded me in the elevator and—en masse—quietly ushered me to the parking garage below the building. They shoved me into a car and placed a hood over my head. They drove me for hours. I thought they were taking me somewhere secret to murder me. Instead, they wanted to steal me away from public view. I was an oddity to them. An aberration.
In need of protection. They put me on display. They tossed me meat, but I felt more like a lobster in a seafood restaurant tank than a caged lion. Tourists would come and gawk, the pinks of their eyes jittering wetly with need. At first I was not bothered by this quirky observation. It seemed sort of cute. But later that night I could not sleep peacefully because the very thought began to disturb me.
What would cause the moon to change so radically overnight? At work the next day, I asked if anyone else had noticed the upper lip of the moon, but my coworkers just laughed and waved my crazy notions away as they bustled about their business. A full cycle passed as I waited in anticipation of the next full moon.
Volts for jolts
When it rose, I was amazed to notice that the man in the moon now had a full beard! I woke up my wife and children and made them look up to the night sky to confirm my vision. Everyone saw it. My wife said we all must be dreaming. My oldest son said it looked like a terrorist. My youngest daughter was horrified and ran crying into her room. The middle child said she saw Grandpa in the sky…no, Santa. My wife and I laughed. We noted more than just the beard—its eyes and nose, too seemed more prominent by contrast. Together we held hands and watched the big bearded moon until we fell asleep.
The next day, I checked the newspapers and the television. No one had reported about the hirsute moon! But this time I knew they were the crazy ones.
Was the whole world blind? Was everyone loony? Next time I would make sure they all looked up to the sky at midnight. I researched the astronomical charts, I marked my calendar, and I wrote letters to not only all of my coworkers but also all of the news stations and papers and magazines, even all of the government officials all over the planet. I urged them to look to the heavens on the next full moon. On the day of its arrival, my family sat in our backyard and watched. My whole neighborhood was out, staring at the sky.
At midnight, the moon came out with its full beard and mustache. And even more hair had grown on its round cheeks and shiny head. I am not crazy! The man in the moon really does have facial hair! The werewolf moon bore its sharp fangs. The mouth moved closer—got larger and larger—and I suddenly thought: This is it.
The Earth is full. Far too full. A rod of warm light pierces the darkness. I reach for freedom, but my pseudopod lands on a boulder of gravel that twists and pulls free in the soil. I clutch and tumble, cursing the eternal gravity of the grave. He tears open the box. Tilts his head to one side.
Hubby grins and pats the execu- tive toy on the head. Not sure I want it on my desk.
Job Openings and Labor Turnover Technical Note
You mean I just throttle it and that relieves stress? There are too many facets, too man nuances and separate universes at play. Think about it: a single novel is easier to encapsulate into a sentence: "He was a hard drinking zombie hunter of zero social graces, until he met her foul mouth! After all, it has an inherent sense of drama and sweeping change in character.
The second is a simple declarative sentence about the contents of a book. I'm sorry to say, that's sad news for Michael Arnzen. Especially since Jolts is brilliant book. As already established, a micro-prose collection is a rare occurrence. The pantheon for this sort of writing is small, but then again, Arnzen's collection deserves a place next to Joyce Carol Oates and Jayne Anne Phillips collections.
Mar 08, Scott Emerson rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Simply put, the best single-author collection of flash fiction I've ever read. Gee, qualify much? Michael Arnzen remains one of my favorite genre practitioners and JOLTS is a prime representative of his strengths, a cross-section of surrealism, experimentalism, pitch-black humor, pop culture deconstruction, and wickedly clever wordplay. More impressive than the volume of stories is the fact that just about every one is a winner; highlights include "Obictionary," a deceptively playful tribu Simply put, the best single-author collection of flash fiction I've ever read.
More impressive than the volume of stories is the fact that just about every one is a winner; highlights include "Obictionary," a deceptively playful tribute to Edward Gorey, "Domestic Fowl," which witnesses a man's self-induced transformation into a chicken, "The Cow Cafe," about a most unusual coffeehouse, and the instructional one-two punch of "How to Grow a Man-Eating Plant" and "Stabbing for Dummies" the latter co-written by Vincent K.
Good flash fiction, especially of the dark variety, can be likened to a snakebite: the encounter may be quick, but the results are lingering. Arnzen displays this repeatedly throughout the collection with a number of brief, resonant stories, some only a few sentences long. An absolute must for fans of microfiction. Connoisseurs of the strange will find much to enjoy as well. Jan 16, Craig rated it really liked it. This is a very nice collection of very short horror stories.
There was a big fuss made over the notion of labeling them as "flash" stories because of their length, but I didn't see anything different with these than Harlan Ellison did with MIND FIELDS almost twenty years ago, or what Fredric Brown did with his short-short stories back in the s. Anyway, the current book is quite well done.
The stories are very, very densely written, and several of them felt more like poetry than prose. I This is a very nice collection of very short horror stories. I found it easier to read a few pages per day than trying to sit down and reading straight through as one would do with a novel. A nice book to pick up in odd moments when there are very short periods of time available. Sep 01, Mike Mehalek rated it it was amazing. Michael Arnzen's Jolts is a must for all readers and writers alike. Arnzen uses the language to create beautiful images that are sometime funny, sometimes sad, often gross, and always original.
Stories can be enjoyed at the surface or you can delve deeper to find more meaning. At only a few hundred words a piece or much less in some cases , this is remarkable. It shows us that horror writing can be tight and poignant and literary despite the "bad rap" that horror often gets. The only way thi Michael Arnzen's Jolts is a must for all readers and writers alike.
The only way this book could have been better is if it were titled 10, Jolts. Oct 29, Jennifer rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: people who don't have a lot of time, horror fans. Shelves: raw-dog-screaming-press. This book is great for people who only have time to read for short bits but it gives a lot of food for thought. Arnzen comes up with one crazy idea after the next from vignettes to complete stories in a couple pages or less.
My favorites include "Stabbing for Dummies" a great self-help piece and "Skull Fragments", 13 inter-related pieces about skulls. Note: I edited this book. Mar 14, TK rated it it was ok Shelves: short-stories. I love flash fiction For the most part, these stories lacked the needed oomph to make me feel something about the story. Sure there was the shock element; but shock gets old if there is not anything else to accompany it.
Gary Braunbeck declares that "Arnzen can rightfully claim his place as the Donald Barthelme of horror. For me, this collection is nowhere near the caliber of Barthelme.
- Publication: Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories.
- Hardback Editions.
- Adventures of a Girl In Space - Comic Book 009.
- Pearls from the Throne: Anointed Poems;
Sep 09, Erica rated it it was amazing. I first read this in my Horror Fiction class I love it!
Truly, Arnzen is the master of horror flash fiction! Short, sweet and to the point! Oh and slightly disturbing.. Feb 22, Screamingbutterfly rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Fans of horror and flash. Great collection of pieces of horror flash fiction. Quality flash fiction is very difficult to write, but Arnzen succeeds, most of the time. Feb 01, Deana is currently reading it. Arnzen is not only a great teacher but he is also a wicked author.
He is my inspiration for why i write with the style i do now. One brillant mind to another View 1 comment. Nov 02, Meaghan rated it liked it Shelves: read-in , short-story-collections. Many of these stories were quite good, I suppose, but horror fiction has never been my thing. If you do like horror stories, you will probably like these.
View all 3 comments. Jan 09, SFReader rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed. Dec 10, Pat MacEwen rated it liked it.
by Michael A. Arnzen
If you're into fiction and specifically horror that comes in very small doses, this may very well be the book for you. The pieces are flash fiction, and almost all of them aim for shock value above all else. If you prefer fiction with a fully developed plotline and characterization, go elsewhere. I found some of the ideas presented here entertaining, and the developments were often surprising.