Issue #77

Winter Issue | February 2021

In this Issue:

Three Stories by Nikolaj Volgushev

fallen leaf


I search my wallet to pay for the coffee, but the only thing of value I find is the dried wing of a bat, neatly folded. The waitress recoils when I offer it to her. 'There is an ATM, just around the corner,' she frowns. I'm forced to admit that I have no means to withdraw money. With a sigh, the waitress takes the bat wing from me, and disappears behind the counter. She returns eventually with a receipt and my change, three large, green beetles, which she dumps onto the table. Read more...

Passenger Rail Service Has Come to Georgia! by James Gallant

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The locomotive stationary by the split-rail barnyard fence grumbles, snorts anemic steam puffs.

"We stopped again."

"That's Progress for you."

"I can't be late for my appointment in Macon!"

The cross-eyed fireman, idle on his stool by the boiler, strums a banjo.

"I'll take the stagecoach next time."

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, the Pastor reflects. A woman turns to him. "I enjoyed so conversing with other passengers in the coaches. How can I do that with train seats arranged in rows like this?" Read more...

Inflatable Santas Lining the Block by Jessica Klimesh

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Arthur used his power as mayor to declare a second Christmas per year.

Then, he did the same for birthdays. People aged twice as fast but lived twice as long.

Arthur believed he had made a tremendous difference in his small village. He threw his head back and laughed with rolling glee. Clearly, he was a genius and, damn, did he still look good for his age! And there was that PR specialist with the strawberry-scented candles in her loft, the one who moonlighted as his personal assistant, twirling red tassels on black-sequined pasties as she swayed her round hips against the curve of his belly. Read more...

From Fiction Fiction by Richard Kostelanetz

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I shall continue to walk across the bridge that I'm building, until it is complete.


Especially skilled are letter carriers at delivering mail that hasn't been sent.


For swimming I prefer pools devoid of water.


While we will build a new schoolhouse wholly from the materials of the old schoolhouse, we will continue to use the old schoolhouse until the new schoolhouse is built. Read more...

Three Micro-fictions by Simon Collings

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After the death

The old woman's passing should have been reported days ago, but my sister still won't hear of it. 'Not yet,' she says. The corpse is lying face down on the bed in a room neither of us can bring ourselves to enter. We burn incense to mask the smell. A human body takes a long time to decay. In the hall mirror I catch a glimpse of a shadow passing. On the carpet in the livingroom dark stains have begun to appear, and the walls are covered with a pale graffiti whose origin we cannot explain. My sister camps in the kitchen, the only room in the bungalow where natural light enters. Read more...

The Cherry Tree by Liam Cooper

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(Based on Japanese rakugo)

Silvery moonlight reflects off the water's still surface. Blue, blue beyond blue, was the grass by the lake. A hand swats someone kneeling beneath a dark tree. This is now the seventh day in a row that some trespasser has awoken me in the middle of the night, disturbing my slumber, by wandering around after curfew on the lush waterfront on top of my cranium.

They say do not swallow seeds, but I am a frugal man — I do not like to waste anything. When a friendly neighbor gave me a basketful of ripe cherries they had picked from the forest on the edge of town, I eagerly ate them: stems, pits, skin, flesh and all. Read more...

For Want of a Dryad by Mari Ness

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The tree would not stop complaining. I sympathized, to a point; I was hot too. But what, exactly, did the tree expect me to do about it? Other than plant more tiny trees, to suck up the carbon and provide an infinitesimal amount of shade. Enough to – maybe – help out an ant. Maybe.

Though even the ants seemed unimpressed.

"Why can't you bring me real trees? Decent sized trees?"

"This is what I can afford. Besides, you have a huge tree right behind you. That bald cypress." Read more...

The Wisteria, In Its Turning by Byron Alexander Campbell

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So here I lie, galley-chief of Sepulchral Zeppelin #12, locked in a permanent and sickening gyre above the chemical-yellow clouds of Ludwigshafen. They are the sort of yellow that could pass for white if you didn't know better, like a set of teeth in a town of smokers. Except in Ludwigshafen, nobody needs to bother with tobacco, not with the fumes choking the air. They say there's a perfume for every season here in Ludwigshafen: ammonias in autumn, esthers for Easter. Each of these redolent compounds will eventually find their way up here, above the sallow clouds, to ionize and fester.

This wasn't the life I had in mind when I enlisted with the Haute Brigadiers. Back then, the broadsides and flypapers still showed dramatic inkings of frigates, a few light cruisers. 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.