Dispatches from the Nightmare Factory

Fiction by Bob Schofield

Dispatches from the Nightmare Factory

MONDAY

All day staring out windows.

Feed another red nose to the machine.

The real you sits and peels an onion.

I adjust my tie.

I do not look at Margaret.

The cloud of me shrinks through the linoleum floor.

Look outside.

Open the folder.

Push a bad dream down the wire.

That sound is a human hand caught in the disk tray.

Send it to Bruce in the next cubicle over.

Cigarettes won’t light when the cavern is this humid.

Outside, a symmetrical pile of bat wings.

No, the other Bruce, who is crying through his salmon shirt.

TUESDAY

Every lunch break glows majestic.

I count the row of neon trees.

Ignoring the sound of windswept balloonists.

Bruce in the parking lot, all wrapped in goatskin.

He’s waving a two-foot plastic snake.

Rain sounds in his beard.

Pictures from my head soaking my earlobes.

Bruce and I drink similar hot sauce through a tube.

A ghost wanders the length of the nearest coal mine.

I blink and step to its familiar shadow.

The sky gets bright.

We forgot to bring sunscreen.

Mount Lemon continues to encircle the earth.

WEDNESDAY

Other Bruce removes his axe hands.

I tell him this cloud meat is delicious.

All day I am perched atop the TV.

A loaf of bread in the bear’s inflatable mouth.

A brief red light.

Familiar sirens.

Just another bad dream down the wire.

And the wind is picking up now.

The wind is kicking like it’s horse-bit.

Like horse venom swelling my fragile bones.

My own incomplete horse body changing in the full moon.

I calculate the newest price of stamps.

My idea of Margaret steps into her half of the horse suit.

Wet sounds bouncing off the concrete.

Our mutual horse suit shambling sideways through the moors.

THURSDAY

I get stuck in the elevator.

I float like a magpie.

Smoke pours from a stone in my palm.

This evening I put another clown to sleep in the tool shed.

I leave Margaret a love note.

No one has seen her for days or knows how to bring it up.

I bend down, and a single polaroid leaps from my front pocket.

Me and my friends and what’s left of my family.

Red faces grinning like the Buddha.

An old man wakes up, and lights himself on fire.

They say the wire ends in a very smooth temple of dirt.

FRIDAY

Snowmen collapse on the train beside me.

That tap tap is the city sidewalk in heat.

Our office space soars over the dead grass.

Margaret is back but she’s not the same.

Please disregard this talking cloud.

Those windswept balloonists.

The sky tilting on its essential hawk.

I consider the weight of my skull, and its frequent changes.

Feelings press into my pillow by degrees.

The result is silver.

It’s unprofessional.

I send one more bad dream down the wire.

It’s true, everything is pliable in the future.

I miss Bruce and his frail human beard so badly.

We’ve all gone dark inside these warm pods.

Just part of some beep boop computer from the 70s.

The backlog of love notes arrives at the tool shed.

The old wood spirals into flames.

After work we’ll go home.

We’ll wear matching smokestacks.

Pray to a sky ever more windswept with balloonists.

A final love note, this time in triplicate.

Three slabs of horse meat.

One last bad dream for the wire.

Signed: Sincerely, Your surgical scar.

Bob Schofield is the author and illustrator of The Inevitable June, Moon Facts, and Man Bites Cloud. He is a Pushcart Nominee. He lives in Rotterdam. He likes what words and pictures do. He wants to be a ghostly presence in your life.

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