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Issue number six




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The Cape
by D. Harlan Wilson

After concluding that walking into the funhouse would not be the most reasonable thing to do, my sibling and I walked into the funhouse.  "Welcome to the funhouse!" said the Master of Cerebellums, bowing.  He bowed so deeply and powerfully his head flew through his open legs and swung up over his rear.  He stayed that way for a moment, smirking at us, looking like he had stuffed his torso into the pockets of his pants.  Then, suddenly, he unraveled himself, took each of us by the hand and ushered us over to the ladder.  The funhouse was as spacious as a small metropolis, and the ladder was in the very middle of it.  Besides the three of us, it was the funhouse's only fixture.

"Up!" spat the MC, gesticulating at the ladder.  "Up! Up!"  My sibling and I blinked at each other.  The MC made a face at us, then swept himself up in his cape, and the cape fell to the ground in a clump, empty.

"He's gone," I whispered out the corner of my mouth.  My sibling nodded disinterestedly.

Sighing, I gripped the ladder to test its sturdiness.  It seemed pretty sturdy to me.  My sibling gripped it and disagreed, but I pointed out that she had gripped one pole of the ladder and I had gripped the other, and if one pole is sturdy, they both are.  "One strong thing is strong enough for everything," I said.  Again my sibling disagreed, claiming, "One weak thing is weak enough to kill."  I asked her why she always had to play the devil's advocate.  She said she wasn't playing the devil's advocate, she genuinely believed in the assertion she had made.  "I believe in all of the assertions I make," she insisted.  "That doesn't mean you're not in cahoots with the devil," I smirked.  She could only smirk back at me.  We stood there smirking at each other until my sibling finally broke down and said, "Well?  Let's go already."

I went first.  My sibling followed close at my heels.  Now and then during the climb she pinched the backs of my ankles, sometimes playfully, tickling me, sometimes painfully, digging into my flesh with her nails.  It took us a few hours to get to the top of the ladder, it being a few miles high.  At the top was a little platform, and when we got there I thrust a finger in my sibling's face and said, "You see?  You see?"  Then I started to do a victory dance.  My sibling told me to stop, but I didn't.  I kept on dancing, even though the backs of my ankles were bleeding all over the place.

And in no time at all the platform, which was thin and brittle as a graham cracker, cracked open, and my sibling and I were heading for ground zero at hundreds of mph.  I swore all the way.  My sibling swore, too, at me and at life in general, but then, as we were nearing the end, she stopped.  "Why aren't you swearing anymore?" I screamed over the scream of the wind.  My sibling shrugged.  Then smirked.  Smirked!  I was about to ask her what all this smirking was about when she reached into her pants and pulled out the Master of Cerebellum's cape.  Evidently she had stashed it there and snuck it up the ladder with us for whatever reason (my sibling's logic is more or less a mystery to me), and now she unfurled the flapping thing and, in one fluid motion, swept us both up in it.

The cape smelled funny.  It smelled like so much cheap perfume splashed all over a wild animal's ass, and I wanted to tell my sibling to get rid of it, get me out of this thing before its stink drowned me.  But before I had a chance, the cape was laying there on the earth in a clump, empty.

D. Harlan Wilson's fiction has appeared in a number of magazines, most recently in Doorknobs & BodyPaint, Redsine, Lethogica, Driver's Side Airbag, The Dream Zone, Samsara Quarterly and Eclectica. A chapbook of his stories was published in 2000, and his first full-length book, a collection of forty-four stories called The Kafka Effekt, is due to be published this fall. Wilson lives in East Lansing, Michigan, where he is working on his Ph.D. in Twentieth Century American Literature and Theory at Michigan State University. His short story, "Circus," previously appeared in The Cafe Irreal. A collection of short stories, The Kafka Effekt, will be published in early 2002.

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