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Issue number twelve




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Problem by Ashly Kehl

omewhere" is the only tangible, specific description of a place in the Nevada Triangle because out this far in the desert time and space have recently become screwy. How this happened is unknown and probably always will be, why this happened is totally irrelevant. (this is not the problem) Somewhere, deep in the Nevada Triangle, there is a little two-story house with peeling yellow paint smeared all over the outside walls, egg-shaped windows and a front doorway that looks as if someone's driven a Volkswagen through it at least five times. There are three skeletons in the living room who appear to be watching TV, though all that's showing is static. (this is not the problem) The house's only living occupant is a thief named Agaw, who is currently sitting on a dusty little mattress in his bedroom and shaking, slightly, biting his lip too hard and drawing blood because he is reasonably sure he is insane now (this is not the problem) if he wasn't before; must've snapped when his three cohorts downstairs fell victim to accelerated aging due to a compressed time warp, or maybe it was when the entire house suddenly shifted into the middle of an unidentifiable desert through a fold in space that he could not force himself to explain. Or it could be that other thing that's really bothering him. In any case he is insane; therefore he thinks, maybe he can figure a way to adjust to his surroundings sometime soon . . . ? The dryness of the room makes his mouth feel like dust and sandpaper, opening the window doesn't help at all. Light pours in from the huge, near-constant sun that makes Agaw pretty sure he's on another planet. It reflects off a broken mirror lying propped up against the corner of the room next to the door, shining these little frozen phantoms onto the walls and ceiling. There is a huge, hyper-evolved spider in Agaw's closet (this is not the problem) and every now and then it tries to get out and eat Agaw, making scratching noises not unlike a tree branch brushing against a window. Various stolen items lie in dissarray around the room: nicknacks, holographic recordings used for blackmail, voice tapes used for vocal disguise, and pretentious and expensive clothes, some bloodstained, that you would never expect to find in the bedroom of a wacked-out little shit like Agaw. Even some jewelry, valued at upwards of six-thousand $, that either he's decided to keep or hasn't gotten around to selling yet. (it's a little late for that.) But his desk is the most interesting; not the desk itself, the fact that it's wearing cowboy boots is only of passing interest. But what's in the desk. Aaahhh, the severed bloody fingers of famous 21st century pirates and record producers wrapped up and packed into mini-freezers to preserve their value, gene samples of failed or mutated genetic experiments, artificial viruses with interesting effects like melted intestines within three minutes of exposure. A treasure trove. (this is not the problem, yet)

What's on top of the desk, though . . . lying there unprotected and uninsulated, gathering dust because of its new owner's neglect, is the most fascinating object in the house: a globular metal object a little larger than fist size, the outer layer made from a titanium/tungsten alloy. It holds a small sphere in a glass case welded to the surface, swirling with dark colors, looks much too dangerous to be incased in only glass. The insides would be very interesting, Agaw thinks, if he could just find a seam from which to open it. From what he can make out with his scanner, this thing has a huge amount of energy radiating from it, and that's not all; from what else Agaw knows about this thing he is pretty sure it's a time distorter. Built mainly for a full-stop. Agaw has stolen a device that can bring the space-time continuum to a complete stop, but this is not the problem, his problem, that has him nearly losing his grip on reality altogether.

The problem is that the device he has stolen doesn't have an "on" switch.

Ashly Kehl was born on September 28, 1987, in a ditch by the New Jersey turnpike. She currently resides in a small town in New Hampshire where she works on web design, graphics, and writing.

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