Issue #69

Winter Issue | February 2019

A Note on Our Twentieth Anniversary

In this Issue:

Three Stories by Simon Collings

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Room 33

It was years since I had last been in Paris, and I had no recollection of ever having stayed in the hotel where I was to spend the next three nights. But the clerk at the reception desk greeted me as though I were a regular. He seemed to know me though I was almost certain I didn't know him. Could he be confusing me with someone else? 'I've put you in the usual room,' he said, handing me a key with the number 33 on it. 'I hope you'll find everything to your satisfaction.' Confused by his assumption that I would know the room he meant, I failed to ask directions and it took me a while to locate it. I unlocked the door and found myself in an exact replica of a room in a cheap hotel I had stayed in more than twenty years before. Read more...

Reprints in Unusual Cases
by Jaap Boekestein

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

"A murder most foul, dear Watson!" came from the other side of the wall.

The last brick fitted nicely and the wet mortar sealed the opening for ever. Or at least for a short lifetime.

Watson got rid of his apron and cleaned himself thoroughly.

It was time for tea and kippers.

Two Stories by Valerie Fox

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

"Do Not Try this at Home, or Elsewhere"—DB

We must always learn from the past! Read on, dear eaters. Reflect on the menu items of Maitre Gilles de Beauchamps.

Cassoulet is a notable, southern French dish we are baked in. Or perhaps pork. Did someone say pork? It's around 1335, so sausage may be present.

Sometimes mild milk or cream is added, right here at the table. Necessity dictates melancholy, once you have added the cream.

Adding local critics with their abundant salt yields moist, indigestible results, mixed with panic. Read more...

The Moose by Guido Eekhaut

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

I firmly believe that the man I knew as Martin Brons never, really never, had the intention to appear in my living room as a moose. A moose happens to be a powerful and especially large animal, and it would not fit into my living room. Martin Brons - or whomever was responsible for this appearance - had taken this into account, because the moose was a smaller version of itself. By which I mean: it was a mid-sized moose but nevertheless clearly an adult specimen.

I have just now returned from the therapist, a consultation that was planned three months ago, long in advance of Martin's visit as a moose. I reported the incident to the therapist, because I felt that I should not just let this pass. Read more...

Three Stories by Antony Johae

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Beaten Up

There is a crowd waiting for a bus. They are not in a queue. Two men swagger past me; they are looking for trouble. I stand there trembling. They push their way through. A bus pulls up; a boy is the first to board. The two men jump on – they are beating him up. I hear his screams. No one tries to stop them – the crowd stands there as stationary as statues – and I wake up, my body battered. Read more...

The Growing Compromise
by Ken Poyner

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Like most, I thought the Spinners a fad. Something that had come out of nowhere, established itself like crabgrass or dandelion paupers in the shrubbery. Perhaps they were the victims of the ill-adopted custom of another country. Foppery.

We thought the adherents could not keep up the constant twirling, could not find ways to fit the necessaries of their lives into the spinning style. So many practical things could not be done while spinning. Balance just in spinning was trouble enough. How could they sew or harvest or sweep or climb ladders with a spin? Surely, they would soon start a list of exceptions, and it would grow until spinning itself was the exception vice the rule, and eventually common sense would lead them back to common sense. Read more...

Six Short Fictions
by Catherine Vidler

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Just in case

Into the desert alone again and yet I had planted these things Just In Case. Who knew how they lived without water your eyes. Day In and Day Out and then after a while they would lose their fade. My things were in fact self-identical across all the seasons and extras besides, which made the unfading even stranger. Perhaps I should say, then, that they 'unfaded'. Today, however, when I entered the door, when I opened it up and swung inside, I couldn't believe it. Because there you were. Read more...

The Crotchety Old Oak in the Park
by James Gallant

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

   surprises Smart, paused in his walk: "I was here long before you came along, and I'll be here long after you're gone."

Smart notes the ambiguity, interprets: "Your immobility is impressive."

"Where are your roots, Spindle-shanks?"

Smart hasn't come to the park looking for an argument. He points across the street at the school. "I expect that building will be standing there when both you and I are gone." Read more...

Hunger by Dominic Stabile

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

"Ever since South State took over, I've got ten managers who do nothing but follow me to and from the bathroom," my mother says, and I know it will start now.

The couch swallows her right arm up to the elbow. She stares at me, her eyes already looking back.

I'm on the love seat across the room. Mirror-colored light flows through a space in the curtains behind me, enough of a reason to remember that Fall day—to stir up the shred of memory that causes my foot to sink into the floor. I try to focus on now: I'm recently unemployed; I'm thirty-three, living with my mother, and my wife rarely leaves my childhood bedroom. Now is pain, and I try to use it. But as if to make sure my mind goes back anyway, someone begins bouncing a basketball on the street. Read more...

Two Stories by Liam Cooper

Twentieth Anniversary Issue


One sunny morning, a clean-shaven businessman in a grey suit was walking along a familiar street on his way to work. He had been down this road many times before, when suddenly, a strange building he had never seen appeared at the end of the block. Bewildered, he felt compelled to go inside. The man found the building unlocked, and that despite the haunted exterior, in actuality it was a completely normal office building. People busy working in their cubicles, shadowless underneath the fluorescent lights overhead. Read more...

About Our Coffee and Other Fare

Please Note: All of the coffee served at The Irreal Cafe is fair trade, organic, shade-grown and not real. All of the food served at The Irreal Cafe is organic, vegan, locally sourced and not real. See "At Our Cafe" for more about what we would serve at The Irreal Cafe and how we would serve it if there were an Irreal Cafe.