Narrated by Rob E. Boley
Mile after mile after gallon after gallon,
my car’s wheels tug at the cracked pavement,
headlights rolling their eyes at yet another red light.
In many ways, my morning commute is the same as ever. Sipping black coffee in the travel mug. Licking hints of pancake syrup off my fingers. Voices drone on the radio. Endless blocks of car washes and fast food. Coffee shops and insurance agents. Gas stations and flower shops. My favorite part is still, when stopped in traffic’s lurching grind, I get to watch a stranger in the next car put her face on.
A lot has changed over the decades. The Panic. The Cure. The Resurgence.
Blacked out storefronts, broken glass teeth yawning endlessly.
Smoke that rose for months, gray serpents slithering into the bloated sky.
Long lines of skeletal figures waiting for mandatory treatments.
ID bracelets. Chained ankles. Vacant stares. Mass cremations.
Security checkpoints, gun muzzles like wide eyes.
In the rearview mirror, my hair has turned gray and crept backward. Green clouds drizzle endless rain. Through the speckled glass, I watch a stranger put her face on. She uses something like a staple gun to fasten it into place. Blood as dark as my coffee and as thick as syrup oozes down her jaw. She grits false teeth as she shoves her disposable eyes into place. When the light turns green, she’s painting herself a crooked smile.
BIO: Rob E. Boley is the author of The Scary Tales series of dark fantasy novels featuring mash-ups of classic fairy tale characters and horror monsters. His fiction has appeared in several markets, including A cappella Zoo, Pseudopod, Clackamas Literary Review, and Best New Werewolf Tales. My poetry has appeared in such markets as Wild Goose Poetry Review, California Quarterly, Paper Street, Horror Writers’ Association Poetry Showcase, and Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts and Ghouls.