The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Twenty

from Pieces for Small Orchestra by Norman Lock
String Theory by Steven Schutzman
Three Short Shorts by Patrik Linhart
The Song of the Nightingale by Fernando Arrojo-Ramos
Seven Pieces of Meat by David Ray
The Noctis Equi by Deb R. Lewis
When Dada Wrote Koans by Theodore Wei Changsheng


irreal (re)views


The Noctis Equi
by Deb R. Lewis

She beats the backs of the noctis equi with her eyelashes with varying results. The noctis equi are so black one may not see their shaded parts at all, relying only on those places where the light shines over the gloss of their coats, their crazed seeing-orbs, and their immense ivory teeth. Their manes look like long jagged knives of onyx rising from their crests like crags that break the sea before its waves reach the shore. Sometimes their flight accelerates through the dark and terrible landscape of gallows-trees and clammy white limbs floating on dark waters, and there's a sensation of tipping or turning any moment, the gut falling, cold and open, from moment to moment while a hot breath festers against the nape of her neck. Sometimes the carriage stands out, glaring white, as a beacon to buzzards and owls; just as often, it is as sinister and dark as its way; on rare occasions, the night horses merely drag a giant eyeball through the nightmarelands. Sometimes they slow and linger to reveal a swarming carpet—Insects! Crows! Both in symbiosis!—that talks in mastication and floods the senses without any allowance for escape. The sight underlies the sound, the sound keeps whispering to the sight of the swarms, so that if she closes her eyes, she still sees the carpet writhing in a large expanse from the edge of the road toward the horizon. Tonight, this night, she parts her lashes: the lower lie down, the top hover tentatively against the arc of sky, leaving the noctis equi free to choose their pace, and so the night mares drag her on a raft of worn planks and suddenly vanish, leaving her only her two feet against the feral dirt road—nary a candle, the whips of her eye lashes shrunk down to a squinting black fishnet of hairs—only her heart to stand against the prowling dark in a landscape where every large and tiny thing appears both moving and malicious.

Deb R. Lewis's fiction has appeared in Dyversity (UK), International Drummer, Bad Attitude,, Blithe House Quarterly, Gertrude, Sleepwalk, Pigeon,, Blue, and multiple issues of the award-winning Hair Trigger. She's been a top ten finalist in the Many Mountains Moving Flash Fiction Contest and a semi-finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Novella Competition. Most recently, her novel, These Mundane Freaks was a semifinalist in the Project Queer Lit competition. She teaches in the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department.

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