Issue #57

Winter 2016

Let’s Reconvene on Tuesday

by William Olmstead

I managed to catch a rhino on the expressway. Five of us clung precariously to the beast as it raced through the trench, headed towards the massive blue ziggurat in the distance – the metropolis known as Great Northern Blue. The expressway trench was a foul, smelly conveyance, lined with rhino excrement and sometimes the remains of a hapless commuter who’d been unable to maintain a grip on the animal’s saddle. A rhino can run surprisingly fast. Subsequently, a normal ride into the Blue was quick, unsteady, and unsettling.

Arriving at the base of the city, our beast eased to a stop. We disembarked and swatted rhino dust from our clothes. The electrodes on top of the creature’s head sparked and crackled and off it went into a nearby tunnel in search of more passengers.

It reminded me that I was already a half hour late for my electroshock therapy. I hurried across an azure plaza to an elevator and took a diagonal ride up to the three hundredth floor.

“You’re late,” said the disembodied receptionist module as I entered number 3024, the Office of Shock. “Sit over there.”

Since there was no human finger to point me in the right direction, I simply sat in the nearest chair.

“Not there. In the corner.”

I moved.

Five minutes passed.

“Okay, the therapist will see you now.”

I walked down a hall. A masked therapist in a mauve smock motioned me into a room. She strapped me to a table and stuck a rubber block in my mouth. An IV was inserted into my arm.

As she went about her business, a group of about a half a dozen people carrying folding chairs entered the room and settled themselves noisily around me.

She pasted electrodes onto my temples. Hovering over her shock machine, she adjusted some dials, then moved her face close to mine.

She must have noticed a look of consternation in my eyes.

“Oh, don’t mind the jury. Just think of yourself as a performer and they’re your audience. Ready?”

The lights in the room flickered and went out.

In the darkness I heard a curse.

“Not another blackout! That’s the fifth one this month!” The therapist’s voice trailed away as she apparently left the room.

The high voltage irony of the situation was not lost on me.

I felt queasy and disappointed and, I have to say, a little bit panicked.

I lay there in the darkness for a long time. I could hear the members of the jury talking, coughing, and, in one case, snoring.

The lights came back on. We all blinked fiercely.

The therapist returned.

“Let’s reconvene on Tuesday.”

She unplugged and unblocked me and exited the room without another word. The jurors picked up their chairs and followed.

I left the office, descended three hundred floors, and walked outdoors onto the plaza. It was raining.

Returning home meant a wild ride on a wet rhino. And there’s nothing worse than a wet rhino.

Author Bio


William Olmstead is a writer whose fiction has appeared in various online and print publications. He has also worked as a cartoonist, animator, and artist with contributions to many newspapers and magazines along with dozens of casual and digital edutainment games. Previously residing in New Hampshire and Seattle, he currently lives with his wife and cat in Los Angeles. He has recently published Narratives in Pill Form, his first collection of fiction. His "Four Stories Found In An Abandoned Desk" appeared in Issue #43 of The Cafe Irreal.