Slab City

Long strands of hair etch creases across the morning. A subtle scent of burning tires, an orb of broken memories and tired dreams. A collection of bottlecaps nest neatly next to a display of discarded televisions. They are evenly stacked. A wall made of wires and moulded plastic and thin glass. Each screen has been painted with some esoteric musing. Drown yourself here. Your God, my Death. Release yourself. I can feel that vague sense of emptiness ripple again.

A woman walks out of a tent made of stripped canvas. Her face is covered in dust and sand, and the desert wind washes across her skin. A bale of papers scrunched in her hands. There is blood on her hands and they have seeped upon the paper. Read my dreams. Read my dreams, girl. I reach out to her and take the papers from her hand. The pages are sticky, like some invisible sap has coated the parchment. Read. I unravel the pages and look at the handwriting. It is almost illegible, and only short fragments are coherent. The woman stares at me. They’re fading away. Her eyes are cold and withered and grey.

 

When I was a little girl, I would spend my days with father picking strawberries on our family farm. It was a quiet time. I loved my father very much. He had this strength, like nothing could touch him. And he would always pick me up and put me on his shoulder and he would help me pick the best strawberries and we’d sit under trees and eat those strawberries, hiding from the sun and talk and laugh and it was good. It felt good. Strolling through those strawberry fields was pleasant.

 

I hand the pages back to the woman. She appears upset. They are fading away. She turns around and returns to her tent. The canvas whips in the wind as she pulls back the skin and disappears.

Small round stones rustle beneath my feet. They splinter into my skin and edge around the muscle and bone. With each step forward, another sharp pain wriggles through my body. Behind the wall of televisions is a pillar of cement, with an array of tubular tumblers, beakers and bottles half-sunken. Dazed. It is a vortex colour, surreal pigments and harlequin dreams. Glass tainted, jade misshaped and misplaced, before stacked and coddled. Discarded dreams, drunk down the hope. A mote of reason, mime of music. Fused. Asked for season of summer to last. Distortion eclipsing the soft evening. Shards of grey matter splitting amongst the noise of cylindrical blackholes. Curiously capturing the quaint and mellow sea adrift, minds amidst the makeshift strings and tunes.

It is a distortion.

The Perfect Crime?

Mr Wallace was a very grumpy teacher. He had been a teacher for 14 years and loathed every minute he was in the classroom.

Mr Wallace wasn’t the type of teacher to stand at the door and say, “Good morning, children!”; or even express a smile. He would sit at his desk, assign some worksheets and yell “shut up YOU!” at the slightest movement in the classroom.

The kids were absolutely terrified of him. For the most part they sat in silence, scratching our equations or frantic narratives with obvious plot holes. They barely asked a question or clarification out of fear of public ridicule and humiliation. On one occasion, while solving long division questions, a young boy named Oliver dared to ask the teacher a question. He did in earnest, though with some curiosity. As he approached the front desk, the words “Sir, how do I…” crept from his mouth. Without hesitation, Mr Wallace stood up from his desk and squealed “Sit down, you buffoon!” With tears crawling down his face, Oliver scurried back to his desk.

Mr Wallace wasted away his day yelling at kids that he had very little care for. When 3pm struck on the clock, he walked out of the class without saying a word and drove home to his empty house.

Why did he put himself through this pain? This writer finds it difficult to say. Mr Wallace never had any kids. He was never married. In fact, he had never had a girlfriend. He lived with a small dog, that he mildly despised. All in all, Mr Wallace was quite a disgruntled man.

One day, a small group of Mr Wallace’s students decided to play a prank on their grumpy teacher.

“He is such a nasty man,” said Cayla. “I think it’s time we taught him a lesson.”

“I hate it when he teaches math,” said Jessica. “He barely explains the equations! He just yells at us and says, ‘figure it out for yourselves, you filthy heathens!’”

Mr Wallace always had a way of coming up with interesting and grotesque little insults. Sometimes, it was a combination of wordplay: he would take your name and make a rhyme it with another word. For example, if your name was ‘Luke’, he would say ‘Lukey Pukey’ – much to the humiliation of his victim. Other times, he would identify some minor imperfections about your appearance. “Ergh! What is that horrendous stench coming from? Children, you must bathe more thoroughly in the evenings. My nostrils cannot stand such pungent odours.” All in all, the children felt horrible whenever Mr Wallace spoke.

“I have an idea”, said Isaac. “But no one can know.”

One Wednesday afternoon, the children sat at their desks bemused by a cavalcade of worksheets that Mr Wallace had handed out. One boy named Jack stared vacantly at a math problem. The numbers appeared jumbled and made zero sense to the boy. This was a common feeling among students; however, he feigned engagement and pretended to scribble his answers upon the page. However, Mr Wallace, as always, noticed as he notices everything.

“My boy, are you naturally slow or are you attempting to irritate me?” Mr Wallace asked with disdain.

“No sir, the questions are tricky,” confessed Jack.

“Tricky? Tricky? My friend, we have covered improper fractions over the last couple of weeks,” Mr Wallace asserted. “There is nothing tricky about these questions.”

“Yes, sir.” Whimpered Jack. “Sorry, sir. I will figure it out.”

“See that you do.”

As Mr Wallace wandered the room inspecting the children’s work, Isaac, Jessica and Cayla took this opportunity to set up their plan. It was simple. So simple, they could hardly believe they had thought of the idea. It was perfect.

There was only one thing that Mr Wallace appeared to like within the classroom. His coffee and his glorious coffee mug. The mug said “I hope you step on a Lego piece” – except, the word ‘piece’ was replaced by a red block of Lego. This was printed on both sides of the mug. Mr Wallace seemed to be ambidextrous, so regardless of the hand he used to drink the writing would always appear. The children thought the mug was rather clever, though only added further mystery to their teacher. All they knew was that he loved coffee and that mug.

While Mr Wallace was at the front of the room dealing with poor Jack, Cayla passed a note to Isaac, who was sitting three rows to her right. Are you ready? Isaac did not say a word. He just nodded.

Cayla stood up from her desk and walked up to Mr Wallace.

“Sir, I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Bathroom? Bathroom? Little girl, you have just had lunch.” Mr Wallace appeared incredibly confused. “Why would you need to go to the bathroom?”

“I would rather not say, but I must go.”

“Fine, leave us.”

Something peculiar was happening as Cayla spoke to Mr Wallace. Isaac had stood up, quickly nudged Jessica on his way, and tiptoed across to their teacher’s desk. The night before, the trio had collected a sample of small sachets of chilli sauce. One at a time, Isaac and Jessica retrieved the sachets from their pockets and poured them into Mr Wallace’s mug, careful not to leave any evidence behind. The sachets were squished into their pockets to be disposed of later. The perfect crime. Once finished, they slowly slipped back to their desk without a hint of being noticed by Mr Wallace, returning to work as if nothing happened.

Now, dear reader, you might be asking: why did no one else in the classroom notice this or even say anything towards this untoward behaviour? Why would they? This was an opportunity for the entire class to enjoy.

A short time after, Cayla returned from the bathroom and received a silent scowl from Mr Wallace. She slouched into her desk awaiting a response from her colleagues in crime. Jessica and Isaac looked at Cayla with a nod of approval. The deed was done. Now, they wait.

For what seemed like a long time, it appeared that Mr Wallace had forgotten his precious coffee. However, as the children stacked their chairs and cleaned the room and emptied the bins, their disgruntled teacher returned to the mug. He held it to his lips for moment, before saying “Okay, little people. It is three o’clock. You may leave.”

The children did not move. Normally, they ran out the door, desperate to evade their teacher’s horrid presence. Instead, they stood at the door staring at Mr Wallace as if he had said nothing at all. Mr Wallace appeared confused. It was like time had stopped altogether. He waited for a moment before bellowing “GO!” The children rushed out the door, both frightened and excited about what might happen next.

The last to leave was Cayla, who watched as Mr Wallace took a sip from his mug…

The History of the Snickers Bar

The Snickers bar was invented in the early 1970s by a woman name Samantha Stickers. One day, while her husband, Gary, was working at the local box-making factory, Samantha decided to make some sweets for dessert. She arranged some ingredients, including a block of chocolate and caramel toffees. She melted everything and mixed it all up. However, something awful went wrong! The Stickers’ household had a cockroach problem. While Samantha was busy washing some dishes, a family of cockroaches crawled up the side of the bowl and into the mix of her new chocolate creation. Samantha soon realised what had happened!

“Darn you cockroaches!”, she yelled at the top of her lungs.

Although she was disappointed that her chocolates were destroyed, she was hesitant to throw away the mix. In those days, ingredients were quite expensive. “Surely cockroaches are not that bad to each. I see on the telly that people eat bugs all the time! Maybe if I mash up the cockroaches, Gary will never know.” And that’s what she did! Samantha began to smash up the cockroaches in her new chocolate mix. Did you know that cockroaches make a horrendous sound when diced up with a wooden spoon?

To cover the cockroaches mixed into the chocolate bars, Samantha poured even more melted chocolate over her creation. This would surely hide the bugs inside, she thought. She placed the tray in the fridge to seal the chocolate.

Later, Gary arrived home quite famished. He ate the dinner that Samantha had prepared: a warm and hearty stew and a drink a cup of orange juice. Samantha said, “I have prepared you something special. Something that I am sure you will quite like.” She brought out the tray of chocolates. Gary was amazed. He had never seen such a creation in his entire life. You know, working in a box factory is not very exciting. He took one of the chocolate bars and munched into it and began to chew. Unbeknownst to him he was slowly digesting small pieces of cockroach arms and legs.

“These chocolates are my ticket out of that darn box factory! I’ll be rich! Rich I tells ya!”

Samantha was not happy about this. Not happy at all. She had created these chocolate bars. During the night, Gary thought about how he would get rich. He would quit his job making box after box, sell these chocolates and live in a mansion.

However, while Gary was sleeping Samantha was hard at work. She made a second batch of chocolates, but something was missing. The chocolates were lovely, but they were somehow different.

The cockroaches. It was the cockroaches.

The next day, Samantha made yet another batch. However before doing so, she scrounged on her hands and knees for as many cockroaches she as she could. After she had filled a small container, she threw them into her new batch and waited for the chocolate to seal.

Samantha tried her new chocolates and were thrilled to discover that they tasted as good as they had the previous day. It was at this moment that she knew what she had to do.

She packed her bags. Everything that was of value to her. Even the porcelain doll she received on her 5th birthday. She packed her bags and left forever. She would sell her chocolates and make her millions.

But above everything, there was something she needed. Something essential to her creation. Cockroaches. After placing her bags at the door, she grabbed a bucket and began to dig around the kitchen and the hidden cracks of each room. She opened up the plastering of the wall and scooped up hundreds of cockroaches into her bucket. She would have them all.

Once she had ridden the house of every last cockroach, she sealed the bucket and left. She never saw her husband again.

Snickers are now a very popular chocolate bar. Each year, they farm billions of cockroaches for their chocolates. But that’s a secret, so please dear reader do not tell anyone.

East Jesus

Tubular tumblers, beakers and bottles

Glass tainted, jade misshaped

Misplaced, before stacked and coddled

Discarded dreams, drunk down the hope

Mote of reason, mime of music

Fuse it, flinch fickle the flask

Ask for season of summer to last