The Curious Case of Mr. Hart
My name is Ford Hart and I am the owner of a large company. Recently, I visited my friend Professor N. in what used to be called an insane asylum. There is a room in that institution full of strange beings. These extraordinary creatures are about two meters tall, their bodies are similar to a human's, but their heads are more like those of Australian koalas with the exception that they do not have eyes. They move very slowly and can be said to resemble soft toys. When I seduced the professor's assistant in that room, one of them came up to me and lightly tapped my forehead four times. I don't know what meaning this action might have had. I went home in a pretty mellow mood but later on something really terrible happened to me: I was murdered! A man approached me and inserted two miniature needles into my head and two into my wrists. I fell to the ground and died. My wife leaned over me and asked for the security password. She was holding a book with the title "Slowdive" printed on it. I pointed to the book's title even though I was dead. Not long after that, I visited my company. Everyone there stared at me blankly. I explained that I was Mr. Hart's ghost. Then I disappeared for two years. Once I invited my wife to lunch. She said she that she and our daughter miss me a lot. After she paid the bill, we returned home together.
With Vlastík Pšenička in the Malostranská Beseda
We are entering the upstairs floor of the Malostranská Beseda, a pub in Prague, heading to the middle table. Vlastík climbs onto it, grabs hold of two handles sticking out of the ceiling and pulls himself into the conical opening, completely disappearing in a matter of moments. Now it's my turn. I try to pull myself up, but I have no strength. I let go and fall onto the table. I get all tangled up in the tablecloth and drag it to the ground with me. After this fiasco, we exit from the front of the Beseda. An acquaintance is standing there, holding in his hand several flowers of dried cannabis. He is selling weed and has a lot of takers. I want to buy some, but Vlastík tells me that I should take a look around the corner. There's a guy standing there with a big pistol. He points his finger at the display case on the wall. There is a large book there and on its cover is pictured the same pistol that the man is holding. I nod my head in understanding. We are leaving.
The Bear in Kamenická Street
Aleš P. works as a taxi driver, driving a replica of a vintage car. I let him and his brother drive me somewhere that looks like the town of Slané, which is near Kladno. The braces in my mouth keep falling out. Suddenly I find myself on Strossmayer Square in Prague. My former classmate Sukalovský appears out of nowhere and mocks me. Classes are being held in the middle of Kamenická street. A bear appears in the building on the corner and attacks a woman who is passing by. Panic sets in, people run away. I meet Steiner, who can't find an apartment. The bear disappeared to somewhere. It appears in my apartment. I hurry out the back door. A television news team shoots footage of the beast, showing it on a tall chimney, attacking their reporter.
The fiction writer and poet Viki Shock (real name Viktor Pípal) was born in Prague in 1975. After graduating from a technical school he worked as a mechanic, medical orderly, librarian and production assistant for Czech Television. His writing feeds off of the traditions of pataphysics, dadism, surrealism and absurdist literature. He is the author of dozens of books, including the recently published Půlnoční Rapsódie: Noční můry a jiné živé sny z let 1995–2023 (Midnight Rhapsody: Nightmares and Other Vivid Dreams 1995–2023, Petr Štengl, 2023), from which these three selections were taken. Apart from writing he engages in graphic art, especially photography and collage. His “The Last Mournful Summer of Mr Pip,” an excerpt from his "funerary" novel Zahradníkův rok na hřbitově (A Gardener´s Year in a Graveyard, Clinamen Press 2014), appeared in Issue 63 of The Cafe Irreal. He lives in Prague.
G.S. Evans is the coeditor of The Cafe Irreal. Three of his fantastical works, including Po stopách kyberkrále [In search of the Cyberking], have been published in book form in the Czech Republic; his fiction and essays have appeared in various Czech journals, including Host, Labyrint, Listy, A2, Tvar, H_Aluze and Analogon; his translations of the work of the Czech writer Arnošt Lustig have appeared in The Kenyon Review, New England Review, and New Orleans Review. His translation of the inter-war avant-garde theorist Karel Teige's book The Marketplace of Art was recently published by Rab-Rab Press.