REDDITORthe ASKREDDIT AMA ISSUE 7 STORIES MAR ‘12 PICS
LETTER FROM THE REDDITOR This month we focused on collaboration and developing new content to give our readers something more than they may see on the website. Issue 7 is what our magazine has always set out to be - proving the reddit community is more unique, more interesting, and far more talented than what is only found on the front page. Better late than never – and Issue 7 photos that must be seen to be believed. has definitely been worth the wait. This Issue 7 is what our magazine has always set month The Redditor brings you some of out to be - proving the reddit community the strongest and most original work yet. is more unique, more interesting, and far With each issue it’s becoming easier to more talented than what is only found on find support from the community, and in the front page. addition to our usual guest artist, we’ve Taking on the challenge of designing worked with an incredible illustrator whose this month’s chapter pages is an amazing work elevates the magazine to a new level. fantasy and sci-fi artist, Jesse Mead of We have two original AMAs, 10+ pages Atlanta. Mead creates an incredibly of original artwork developed specifically detailed series of four images based upon for the issue, and finally, we are thrilled to another submission of hers we found on share an exclusive Q&A with the creator of reddit (also featured in the /pics section). Minecraft, Markus Persson (aka Notch), to Our second guest artist is Kate Glasheen of complement our Subreddit of the Month. Brooklyn, whose work we also featured in This month we focused on collaboration previous issues. Glasheen illustrated and and developing new content to give our painted 13 gorgeous pieces to be used readers something more than they may throughout the magazine and in this issue’s see on the website. In previous issues, we /FirstWorldProblems pieces. featured work by a talented painter, Johan We hope you enjoy our new features and Potma – in Issue 7, we offer an exclusive AMA discover some quality content that slipped and images, giving Potma the attention he by. Beyond the pages, you can always find deserves. Expanding on a post we found back issues at theredditor.com, subscribe buried on the site, another exclusive to our subreddit at /r/theredditor, and feature this month tells the story of a young please feel free to leave any thoughts, woman visiting an outcast witch colony feedback, and content suggestions for and black market in Ghana, including future issues. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MANAGING EDITOR DESIGN & LAYOUT DESIGN assistance Guest artist IllustratorRyan Laing [killtheredditor] Blair Drager [ohblair] Ryan Laing [killtheredditor] Jack Howard [swampgum] Jesse Mead [yog-sothserve] Kate Glasheen [katiecrimespree] Los Angeles, CA New York, NY Los Angeles, CA Victoria, Australia Atlanta, GA New York, NY
I N T H I S I SS U ESIMPLE 16 /askredditPRANKS 06 STRANGEST THINGS IN PURSES 08 SIMPLE PRANKS 10 LAST MAN ON EARTH 08 12 GLITCH IN THE MATRIX /ama 57 16 ARTWORK OF JOHAN POTMA 21 RESCUE 911 23 WITCH COLONY /stories 31 THE SCARECROW GAME 37 I WILL SURVIVE 39 A BOY AND HIS COMPUTER THE ARTWORK OF JOHAN /pics 45 DOOMED ASTRONAUTWE’RE DOWN ‘TILWE’RE UNDERGROUND POTMA 46 AUTUMN 47 SUPER SLAP 47 23 BIRTHDAY PARTY 48 BATMAN 49 AIRSHIP 50 TRIPTYCH 50 THE STAR WARS 51 MY BROTHER 52 LATE NIGHT STROLLWITCH COLONY 53 53 54 A BIRD AND MY MOM A BIRD AND A MAKEUP ARTIST FAUN ON A RAINY DAY 55 POLITICAL CARTOON ASSIGNMENT 31 52 56 56 MOTORCYCLE ON MARS FISH LATE 57 ‘TIL WE’RE UNDERGROUND NIGHT 57 PLANTLIFE STROLL 58 58 QUOKKA GLASS CANDY CANES 59 CYBORG 60 KOALLA WITH A BIRD 61 THE EYES GROW WEARY 61 FARM HIT BY A TORNADO 62 CLAY FIGURES 63 DISRESPECTING LINCOLN the 64 FACE INVADERS scarecrow /mcpublic game
FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS I only got one dipping sauce with my 20 nuggets and had to ration it like it was WWII.
ASKREDDIT 6What’s the A friend of mine once carried I changed purses recently and a brick around in her purse in addition to 7 different kinds for a few days in hopes that of lip gloss, 3 flash drives, anstrangest someone would notice it was heavy and say, “Gosh, do you iPhone AND a Blackberry USB cable; I had 2 pair of pliers (side-thing your carry bricks in there?!” And then she could pull the brick cutting and needle-nose) and a fake mustache.girlfriend out and say, “Why yes, I do.” Northerncacy dorkahontashas pulled My grandmother put a whole I had a pancake in my purse raw pot roast in her purse and for months. For some reason, boarded a plane from Chicagoout of when it was first cooked, it became insanely hard, as if it to Arizona. Clearly pre-9/11. Perditajuanitaher purse? had been varnished. I kept it for months to see if it would go moldy. Never did. It was I was helping someone move stuff into their new great to pull out if someone apartment with my ex, and Oneofthosepimps said they were hungry. we’re looking at the ground, Redrobine seeing ants. She pulls an ant trap out of her purse. ethiopiangod
ASKREDDIT 7My husband once “WTFed?” Not my gf, but she pulled out awhen he found three rocks pump and a puncture repair kitin my purse. You know that when we saw someone withgravel that is sometimes used a flat. She doesn’t even ride ain landscaping? Well I like bike.to try to spot the limestone Zingzong70pebbles and look to see if theyhave any fossils in them. Ihad two fossils of the stemsof ancient sea lilies, and onefossil of an arthropod.eekthebatNot a girlfriend, just a dateI went on a long time ago. Ineeded a tire gauge, she said shehad one, and started dumpingcrap out of her purse. No, tiregauge is not the weirdness. Shehad not one, not two, but threehandguns in her purse. Therewas no second date.ConsensualbestialityAs a girl, I never go anywherewithout my sonic screwdriver.ThePalePrinceOnce pulled a dead baby lizardout of my bag. No idea how itgot in there or how long it hadbeen dead.ShakensunshineTODAY I LEARNED: femalesare prop comedians. rbslime
ASKREDDIT 8 SIMPLE PRANKS What are your favorite pranks that require almost no prep? SIB301Whenever my wife and I are out for a car ride and Isee a sprinkler that sprays onto the road, I slow downa bit, put the passenger side window down and timeit so that the water sprays into the car. It’s more funif your passenger doesn’t realize what’s going onuntil they get wet.calmiche1) Empty out a jar of mayonnaise2) Prepare vanilla pudding3) Place the pudding in the empty jar4) Eat it in front of peoplelegoking Put chicken bouillon cubes behind the showerhead. Tiosam Sometimes, when I’m first at a stoplight with a car on my left and nobody behind me, I’ll put my car in reverse and slowly back up. The car to my left thinks they’re slowly pulling out into traffic, and you can see a moment of panic on their face that’s just great. ThirstyBoots Add an MP3 sound of an electric razor to your phone. Put your phone behind someone’s head and play the sound, pretending to take a chunk out of their hair. Poundingbassline
ASKREDDIT 9When you stop at a stop sign or stoplight and thereis someone standing on the street outside of the Place pennies on top ofpassenger side window (perhaps waiting to cross ceiling fan blades. I’mthe street), simply roll down your passenger sidewindow. talking 5 dollars worth.This causes two things to happen. First, the Make sure the fan is set topassenger will look out the window and wonderwhy it’s going down. Second, the pedestrian will where the lower side oftake notice and look at the window being rolled the fan blades lead in thedown. What then ensues is a gloriously awkwardmoment between the passenger and the pedestrian fan’s rotation. When theyas they stare at each other without any clue as to turn the fan on next timewhat is actually happening.Sib301 they enter the room, the pennies won’t fly off rightAt night, when the house is dark, enter before yoursignificant other. Go into a dark room where you away because they’reknow they are heading. Hide against the wall fighting the slope of thewhere you can’t be seen and place your hand onthe light switch. When they enter the dark room fan blade. Then, pennyand reach for the light switch and instead feel a apocalypse.hand, be prepared to perform CPR. ShoyuGazerbloodsoakedoiliesOld and classic. Take a high quality print screen ofthe desktop. Set as wallpaper and remove actualdesktop icons. Watch ‘em get mad with frozendesktop and reboot endlessly.EldgrimGet a tomato and approach a friend. Ask themif they’d like to try a “Hawaiian Apple” andhand them the tomato. If they fall for itthe results are hilarious. It’s harmlessfun.SolidnessAs a female, I like to leave the toiletseat up in public bathrooms.rocket_jumpDuct tape a harmonica under thefront bumper of your friend’s car.Whether they come to realize there’sa strange sound or not, it still makes fora good time for the people laughing asthey drive by.Rocko24
ASKREDDIT 10If you were theLAST MAN ON EARTHWhat would you do? RAOULDUKE44I would start going through people’s homes and I’d get two German shepherd pups, male andsee how they really lived. female, and do my best to train them. They’d beJakevol2 my company so I don’t go completely insane. Then I’d go down to the local library and read survival guides for the next year or two. ReallyCrash Lamborghinis. immerse myself in living off the land. Grow asystemizer beard. Consistently expose myself to zoo animals. Then wander North America until I die.I would find a suitable car, stockpile gasoline fingertrollinand supplies, and explore the continental USAby myself. I would learn to drive boats, I wouldlearn to fly planes, and I would read as manybooks as I could manage. I would dedicate myself Move into the White House.to learning everything I could about everything. Turn it into my own personalHuman culture, science, philosophy, biology,everything. museum. Why-GuyI would take digital cameras from consumerelectronics stores, stockpile flash memory andbasically every other kind of electronics, and Iwould document the world. Then I would commitit to as many forms as I could. Stone carvings,engravings, digital, analog, everything.Why? I don’t know. Maybe to leavebehind an instruction manualfor the next ape that gains self-consciousness.the_pun_stops_here
ASKREDDIT 11Download Wikipedia and read up on how to operate and fix solar panels; also look up farmingmethods and how to grow my own food. Food and power will run out sooner or later.FattyTheFaggot I would just go around and break stuff.KkambosAfter coming to terms with the shock and the grief, the loss of loved ones and the sheerbewilderment of it all, this 21st Century Man, whose practical skills extend no further than wiringa plug and putting up some shelves, would almost certainly descend into madness. Of course Iwould first have a wank on the streets, that’s obvious, but what then?One or more nuclear power plants would go into meltdown as cooling pumps failed. Theequivalent of several Chernobyls could render big areas of the country uninhabitable. Withprevailing winds as they are, it would perhaps be best to head for the westernmost parts of thecountry or even try to escape Britain altogether. (This would be hard considering I can’t fly anaeroplane or drive a boat.) Assuming I avoided this radiation, hygiene would then be an issue, ifI chose to remain in the city; I would find the lack of mains, sewage and drainage a problem afteronly a few days, as the pumping stations failed, while rivers would probably be too polluted tobathe in.Food and water would be simple to get thanks to shopping markets full of bottled water andcanned food, but I would most likely have to fight for this food against giant mutated animalsborn of the nuclear fallout who wander into the cities. It’s damn well impossible to get guns in thiscountry so I would be royally fucked.Science-FactionAssuming I’m not sure if I’m the last person on Earth, I’dgo out and try to find some other people. I’d probablywander for days until I lose all hope.Pujapatel8Try not to break my glasses.Sinestro1982First I would begin gathering the most important books. I would find mechanical manuals,medical manuals, philosophy, literature, all of it. Then I would find craft beer stores and I wouldstart cleaning them out. I would find a massive building for shelter. Then, I would read and drink.djturnbloomI would be a dick and kill myself.travisHAZE
12 ASKREDDIT GLITCH IN THE GLITCH IN THE MATRIX superunhappyfuntime I am usually one of the first guys from my team to get to work and the kitchen was deserted as usual. I walked into the little kitchen, there was a ceramic egg tray with 12 eggs in it, all spaces are filled with warm freshly boiled eggs. I take one, walk over to the garbage bin, and shuck the shell. Then I walk back over to the food and stop dead. There are 12 eggs in the tray again. No one entered the room while I was peeling the thing. I touched the mystery egg it was the same temp as the other eggs around it. Given one does not get presented with strange eggs from a parallel universe every day, I peeled and ate that one too. Superunhappyfuntime Driving to work one day, stop at a red light. Look to my left, a beige 2007 Chevy Suburban. Look across the intersection, 2007 beige Chevy Suburban. Look at the traffic crossing: two 2007 beige Chevy Suburbans, going through the intersection. Not so much a “glitch in the matrix” moment as it was a “stuck in Grand Theft Auto” moment. Onosendaicyberspace7 One time I found an onion ring in my basket of fries. rtechnix My dad had a little toy monkey that he used to call his “favorite child” and tease my siblings and me with. Not in a bad way, but it was really frustrating to us and we spent hours trying to steal it from him. One day we finally got the monkey and threw it into the garbage after drawing on it and mangling it for a bit. My dad laughed and searched for it, but basically figured we had thrown it out and gave up after a week or so. A few years later, I’m walking down the street in Toronto (I don’t live in Toronto, was just visiting friends) and see this little orange object on the side of the road. When I walk over to it, I pick it up and see that it was the exact same monkey. It even had the black sharpie lines on it from when we drew all over it. I honestly cannot even come up with the chances of that happening, especially considering our garbage is sent to a local dump and is nowhere near Toronto. Matics
13 ASKREDDIT I was sitting in a group of three people in class one day when my friend dropped his pen on the desk. I saw it stall in mid-air for a second, then drop on his desk. My friend asked, “Did anyone else see that?” All my friends saw it, and it was just the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. To this day I have no explanation for it. deathmoon68 I have an overwhelming, terrified reaction to any time I see footage or a recreation of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. I can watch anything about any other type of war/battle/what-have-you, but for some reason, and I don’t know why – the D-Day invasion strikes something in me. The worst time was when I watched “Saving Private Ryan,” my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest, I felt a sense of panic that I have never felt, and tears started streaming down my face. I was paralyzed in my seat. I had the strangest ‘you’ve been there’ feeling that I’ve never had before. the_muchness Every so often I’ll have dreams, which play out years later in real life exactly as I’ve dreamt them. Donttossme Woke up one morning when I was 16 or so and realized that I had forgotten how to tie my shoes. Like, this action I had done every day almost since I could walk, was wiped from my mind. I had to learn all over again. AFineWayToDie Driving to work one day, stop at a red light. Look to my left, a beige 2007 Chevy Suburban. Look across the intersection, 2007 beige Chevy Suburban. Look at the traffic crossing: two 2007 beige Chevy Suburbans, going through the intersection. Not so much a “glitch in the matrix” moment as it was a “stuck in Grand Theft Auto” moment. Onosendaicyberspace7 I used to work in a building that had three levels of sub-basements, with the piece of lab equipment I typically worked on in the lowest basement. I had the only key. There was a wired phone in there, and I did work late some nights... but not this night. I was sleeping alone in my apartment when I woke up to a call on my cell phone from my girlfriend at 3 AM, she was in hysterics and asking why I scared her. Apparently she received a call from that basement phone just a minute earlier, with someone who sounded like me slowly repeating her name, until crackling and fading out. My apartment was 10 miles away from work. I thought she was lying, but I saw the 3 AM call from the basement phone logged on her cell myself. Jeanofjogon
FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS My favorite website is overrun by high school kids.
AMA 16 THE ARTWORK OFJOHAN POTMAMy name is Johan Potma. I’m an artist, illustrator, gallerist, weirdo, collector of the odd, liker of the strange. JOHANPOTMA
AMA 17My name is Johan Potma. I’m an artist, illustrator, gallerist,weirdo, collector of the odd, liker of the strange. I havealways drawn strange characters as long as I can remember.I was born in the Netherlands. As a skateboarding kid Idiscovered my love for art and figured out that this wasgoing to be my direction in life. After studying advertisingand then Illustration at the Minerva Art Academy inGroningen, I moved to Berlin. I share three galleries calledZozoville, Onkel Zozo, and The Cheese Mountain Tragedy.This is where I work and exhibit my latest pieces.You have a unique style of painting onwood. What attracts you to the medium?Do you embrace the imperfections?I have always had a love for the weird, the underdog,the unusual. I found failure, losers, oddballs, etc. somuch more interesting than the beautiful ideals I sawaround me being used by the mainstream media. This Ithink is evident if you look at my work. To me it is a voiceagainst these shallow ideals. The materials I use are anextension of that.I love to use old scratched up pieces of wood as thebackground for my artwork. The materials tell a story oftheir own through the scratches, dents and cracks. I willplay with these elements to tell a story of my own on topof that.During the painting process, the image will beinfluenced by the material, steering it in directions thatI myself hadn’t thought of when I created the originalsketch. I really appreciate this part of making art, notbeing in total control and letting the material influencethe outcome. Damage and mistakes are elements I havecome to embrace in my work. Elements that play a rolein something I highly value, which is imperfection.
AMA 18 my work gives clues toWhere do you a past, a realness, andfind the pieces or suggests that you arescraps you paint looking at somethingon? What do you that at some pointlook for? “really” happened.I am always on thelook out for materials. You often paintWhether it is at flea within specific,markets, in antique oddly shapedshops or sometimes I frames. Do youfind beautiful stuff in sketch first, andthe streets of Berlin. then look for aIt is important that frame? Or find athe materials I use are frame and thensuitable as a background sketch to fit?to paint on. This meansthat it has to be dry, not I am always close to myrotting or infested by sketchpad. This is wheretermites. I also do not it all starts. I draw a lotwant to have to scrape and put many of myoff pieces of road kill thoughts and ideas onfrom it, so yes, there are paper. It starts out withcertain criteria in the a line that becomes amaterials I work with. shape. The shape willOther than that, I really become a character andlike the life story the the character becomesmaterials bring to the part of a story. Manytable. of these thoughts and I found failure, losers, oddballs, etc ideas don’t go very far, so much more interesting than the but some do. These I willHow does painting beautiful ideals I saw around me refine and develop to beon wood or suitable for a painting.other found Next, I have to startsurfaces compare thinking about theto traditional ideal size and the idealcanvas? background. My studio is full of materials that ICanvas is a very soft can use and hopefully Imaterial to paint on will have the right pieceand wasn’t the right there.material for me to workwith. I needed some- Then another really funthing harder, something part starts, the painting.tougher. I liked to scratchthings up and was reallyfocusing on creating a What is yourrougher outcome. general process from start toWood turned out to be finish?perfect for this. Especially old wood. I experimentedwith all sorts of materials in art school and somehow As soon as I have gotten a sketch that excites me, Iended up where I am today. need to find a piece to paint it on, and the sketch will beArt school really gave me so much. I had a chance to transferred to the wood. I usually begin by creating atry out all sorts of techniques and materials. I loved it! layer of paper collage on the wood - this is the “canvas”I started integrating collage into my work for the first on which I will transfer the sketch. I then will painttime and that really gave me the opportunity to create over the collage, and by using sandpaper and water Isomething unique. I like how an old paper collage in push back the paint to try to find an interesting balance
AMA 19between the wooden background material, the paint,and the paper collage. I will also sketch out the mostimportant parts of the painting. Then I start filling inthe rough color fields, leaving room for the material todictate certain directions the piece can take. By refiningthese steps, I eventually get to a point at which the piecelooks somewhat finished to me.What are your influences whendeveloping concepts and sketches?My inspiration is just my life in general. I am veryobservant of my surroundings and translate all myexperiences into sketches and sketch ideas. A guy pickinghis nose on the train can inspire me to make a drawingof a cave-exploring monster… just like that.What sort of galleries have your workbeen featured in?I have exhibited my work in many galleries apart frommy own here in Berlin. I have shown my work inHolland, France, Spain, Austria and a couple of times inthe United States. The shows are different every time.I like meeting new audiences and local artists fromaround the world. Besides the shows, my work has beenfeatured in numerous magazines, TV shows, and I getpublished in illustration annuals every year.What sort of commission work have youdone? Does your style change much forcorporate clients?I try to do a couple of commercial projects each year. Ihave two agents who represent me in the commercialfield and who negotiate commissioned work for a varietyof clients for me worldwide. I have worked for Pepsi,Nivea, Playboy, McCain, to name a few. My style doesn’treally change when working for these clients. Theyknow my work and ask me to do exactly this, applied totheir concepts.Any favorite pieces?It is hard to name one favorite piece, because what I likechanges daily. It all sort of depends on my mood I guess.What I like about looking at my own work is discoveringbits and pieces that I can’t quite remember making.When painting, I get lost in the process. Looking back atpieces makes me see things in a new light, weird choices,bizarre details.
AMA 21 RESCUEPROS599 I am a former 911 operator. Ask me anything. 911How long does it take to trace a location Has anyone called in that you personallyfrom a call? knew? I would imagine that would beWhen you call 911, it’s not instant. Sometimes with nerve-wracking.smartphones (Android, iPhone, etc.) it can be near instant Yes. They didn’t know it was me. I had about 10 people I– but other times, it takes 2-5 minutes. The first “location” knew personally... When they panic, they never realizedata we get is the cell tower you call from and then any things like your operator name, your voice… You haveGPS coordinates. The cell tower may not even be the to take every call seriously; I never let a person know.nearest available, but it’s just the one your 911 call wasrouted to. If your phone doesn’t have GPS, it can take 30minutes to 24 hours for the phone company to trace it.Are there any other small things you cantell us that would help immensely in anemergency?Location, location, location. If you ever call 911, waitfor them to say whatever and state your location. That’s Have you ever been in a situation wheremore important than what is going on. Trust me. you have to talk someone down from committing suicide?Don’t give us the whole, “He did this, he did that...” All Yes. I wasn’t trained to do it and we usually transfer themwe need to know is, “They are bleeding because they got to the suicide hotline (unless they are hurting or havein a fight.” caused harm – then we send police and ambulance) butSave everything else for the cop. We don’t really need it. there were multiple times the suicide hotline was offline.If it’s medical – location followed by symptoms.Remaining calm is the hardest thing to do in an How often do you get phone calls?emergency, but it’s the best thing to do. It depends – we had a train derailment once; we got about 100 calls in about 10 minutes (for 5 people), which ramped up to 500+ per 10 minutes. Sometimes, we canEver have someone die while you were on go 4-6 hours without a single call. I worked one nightthe phone with them? shift (8 hours) and only took two calls that night.Yes. The very first call I ever had, the guy died. I heardhim take his last “gasp” for air. What do you do if you don’t understandWhat is the most heart-wrenching call what the person is saying?you’ve ever received? This happens a lot. If the caller hardly speaks any English,I heard a woman get beat by her husband. It was sad. we connect to a company called Language Line, andI could hear her scream in pain. When the officers got they will translate any language. Normally, you canthere, she had bled all over the house and nearly died. I figure out what they want though, even with a heavycould never imagine hitting my significant other... That accent.call made me realize the reality of domestic violence andabuse. I never realized how bad it was before.
AMA 22Which call (or type of call) put you under Do you find it hard to suppress yourthe most stress? emotions when you receive a call fromOnce I had to help deliver a baby over the phone, and someone in a moment of extreme distress?another about child abductions. Those were the two No, actually... it’s weird. Your adrenaline kicks in andmost stressful calls ever. The third was the time where you are able to set aside all personal feelings, emotions,we got a call about a shooter and an abandoned cop car, fears and thoughts to help out. I will admit – sometimes,and the officer was not responding on his radio. (He was calls are extremely tiresome. I’ve had two or three callspeeing in the woods.) where I literally put my head on the desk and took a micro-nap after a call. The phones are loud enough to wake you up though.Out of idle curiosity, do you have anyspecific religious beliefs? We got a call about a shooter and anI’d have to call myself an Atheist. I respect everyone’s abandoned cop car, and the officerreligion though, and nonetheless – I’ve read the entire was not responding on his radio...bible and know why I disagree with it. But sometimes, (He was peeing in the woods.)even as an atheist, I do things that I don’t believe in tohelp others (prayer). Maybe I don’t get anything fromprayer or believe in it, but the other person may and Iwant to give him some hope. It has beenproven that people who have hope incritical conditions are more likely topull out. I wouldn’t be able to livewith myself if I would have toldhim I was Atheist instead ofhelping him.How do youhandlepranks?We tell them we aretracing the line andsending the police.If I was choking todeath but managed todial 911 (and all you hear issome weird noises), what are my If I was interested inchances of being rescued before I doing this as a job,die? how should I go aboutIf you have a smartphone, it depends on how well of it? Who do I talk to/a GPS signal we get. If you have a home phone, most where would I apply?departments have a policy where an officer has to go to Call the department on the non-the home. emergency line. Ask to speak to the captain, and askAlways make sure your apartment door is unlocked, how you apply. It’s on-the-job training, and no specialand the best thing to do is keep dialing 911 with the skills required (other than multitasking, computer skills,dispatcher on the line. The noises, a lot of times we speech and quick thinking).attribute to just weird noises. We always call back, but ifyou keep pressing 911 (we know that sound), it may giveyou a better chance.The best thing to do is to use a chair and do the Heimlichon yourself.
AMA 23 WITCHCOLONYLast summer I interned as a photographer in Ghana. My main interest was violations in human rights, which led me to the Gambaga witch colony. Women, usually in positions of power (business owners, community leaders, etc.), are often accused by other villagers of being witches through accusations including things like making a child stillborn, preventing rain, orcausing cholera outbreaks. They are shunned from their communities and forced to go to outcast colonies. And as I graduated with degrees in Animal Science and Zoology, I was also interested in actually seeing the animal black markets first hand. PEOPLE_PENGUIN
AMA 24How did you travel?The witch colony itself was very difficult to get to. Itook a seventeen hour bus ride (complete with chickenpassengers and goats tied to the roof) from the capitol,Accra, and then took lots of tro-tros (eighteen peopleshoved into the space of a mini van, held together byhope and duct tape.). There was a small guest house at thecolony that, after some difficulty, I stayed at, consistingof a bed and chair, which was more than I needed.I intentionally fasted because I didn’t want to get horriblestomach problems when I had so much travelling todo, and in vehicles that don’t stop until they eitherbreak down or get you there. I also didn’t want to seeminsensitive since it was clear that many of the womenand children were starving.How did you communicate with thevillagers?The villagers had very diverse backgrounds, there areabout 79 different languages spoken in Ghana alone.Many of the women were from surrounding regions, andcouldn’t communicate with each other, so the womenare housed in groups based on region of origin. I hireda translator through the local church who presentedme to the chief before my entry (and let me know I wassupposed to bring an offering of schnapps to him.)It was important to me for the women to know thatI respected them, and that I wasn’t there to gawk ator exploit anyone, which was difficult to do whilephotographing them. It was mostly body language,I lowered my head while I shook hands with all thewomen I encountered, and they seemed pleased.I was astonished by how resilient they all looked, andthought they had some of the most interesting facesI’d ever seen. It was a mix of so many things: pain and
AMA 25sorrow, but also strength and resilience. They’ve hadsuch incredibly hard lives, lives that have been takenfrom them over false accusations, and even though theyare still shunned by the majority of the people in theircountry, they maintain a quiet dignity in the way theylive and present themselves.How civilized or developed was thecommunity?The Gambaga witch colony was in a very remote areaof northern Ghana. It took me two full days of travel toget there from Accra. One of the larger buildings hadelectricity, as did some of the houses in the non-colonypart of Gambaga. I had very weak cell service, and theclosest mail and internet was about a five hour bus ride They had some of the most interestingaway. The women had a well, which was apparently faces I’d ever seen. It was a mix of soarranged by a Peace Corps volunteer who lived there afew years earlier. many things: pain and sorrow, butThe majority of the women lived in mud huts with also strength and resilience.thatched roofs. Five or six are arranged in a circle, andwomen from the same areas live in the same areas, andthe colony as a whole was made up of about a dozen ofthese.The only money the women make is from working innearby fields and collecting wood from the surroundingareas. Once they are branded a witch, they are no longerpermitted to own property, so they cannot own the fieldsor grow their own crops, but they are permitted to workin the fields.Can the women escape or go somewherewhere people are more tolerant?Outcast colonies are a big humanitarian issue, becausein general the women want to be there, which seemsodd until you realize their situation. If they do leave,they are forever branded a witch, and will be forced bythe villagers to go back to the colony.Do any of the women actually believethey are witches? Or are they justsocially outcast?Though some of the women did indeed believethemselves to be witches, the vast majority of them wereaccused because they held money/positions of power,and once they were gone, others were able to take theirholdings.
AMA 26How does anyone still believe in would constantly grab me, hard, on the wrists and trywitchcraft? to drag me into their shops (sometimes successfully.) They would be laughing at the time, but here it wouldMost in rural areas never have access to actual medical definitely be considered assault, and it would happencare or know how well modern medicine works, so all the time, several times a day. Although, if I wereFetish healing may seem to be a viable alternative. travelling with a guy, this would never happen. So IDespite the fact that there is a huge Christian population think the bigger issue was the fact that I was travellingthere, I didn’t meet a single Ghanaian while I was there alone.who didn’t believe in the power of witchcraft, even the When I was traveling by myself, which was around 70%very Christian who said “Only Christ and his powers of the time, it was important that I remained dignifiedwere real.” When I asked how they could believe in both, and respectful but also not take any crap, which washe said “Just because someone doesn’t believe in God it an extremely difficult balancing act. I didn’t want to bedoesn’t mean he can’t hurt them, and just because I don’t disrespectful, but I also didn’t want to appear weak orbelieve in witchcraft doesn’t mean it can’t hurt me.” It easily taken advantage of. I think quite a bit of that wasseemed like this was the prevailing attitude in the area. body language. However, it did present it’s advantages in that it was easier to strike up conversations with people, for example, I met a guy in the city who took meDid they have any trouble with you to the Black Market who probably wouldn’t have talkedphotographing them? to me had I not been travelling alone.My god, was that an issue. I donated a lot of moneyto the colony so the women there didn’t have a huge Did you ever feel threatened?problem with it. I started with a flash, but it scared them.Ghanaians in general hated having their picture taken. I Very often. In Accra, I saw the entire progression of atook point and shoot to a market, tried to subtly take one, robber getting lynched outside of my house. But theand literally nearly caused a riot. The biggest challenge scariest for me, personally, was getting very nearlyfor all of these photos was not letting anyone see me sexually assaulted in Gambaga. After travelling for abouttaking them. 48 hours nonstop, I arrived at the village (the village and colony are separate) around 10pm, and had arranged to stay in a two room guest house. A man took me onAs a relatively well-dressed white his motorbike to the guesthouse. I felt weird when heAmerican woman, did you ever feel followed me into the room to “show me around.” I said,uncomfortable as such an outsider still not trying to offend him, that I needed to go to bed,in any of the places you visited? and he said OK and went in for a hug, which was not normal. But hey, maybe he’s being friendly and thinksI think I went into it knowing that I would feel it’s the American thing to do. Hug finishes, I walk to theawkward and stick out, but what I didn’t expect was door to get him to the door, and when he’s in the doorwayall of the somewhat violent physical contact from men. he goes in for another hug. During this one, he won’t letFor example, whenever I was in crowded markets, menIt was important thatI remained dignifiedand respectful butalso not take any crap,which was an extremelydifficult balancingact. I didn’t want to bedisrespectful, but I alsodidn’t want to appearweak or easily takenadvantage of.
AMA 27go and starts rubbing my back and neck, and I shoved people there, but just like the witches, most people don’thim, extremely hard, away from me, and he screamed want any association with them. No one came nearat me for it. Realizing shit just got real, I slammed/locked while I was there, but it may have just been because Ithe door as hard as I could, and he starts pounding on was a random white woman photographing them. Ithe door, screaming, and we are far enough away that received plenty a shifty glance from people walking by.no one can hear this. He left, but I knew since he owned It would be impossible to find unless you knew wherethe place that he had a key, so I pushed the chair against to go, it probably took about ten minutes of walkingthe door, came up with a plan for if he came back, held through very crowded markets, around 70 or so turnsmy bursting bladder, and didn’t sleep at all. Luckily, he in a labyrinth of alleys to get there. It consisted of aboutnever returned. eight stalls, which were open air and surrounded by walls. Each stall was simple, with a massive 12’ x 12’ table covered in animal parts. The smell of it is difficult toWhat is the story behind the Black Market? forget, as nothing was really properly preserved.I’d first heard about black markets, or Fetish markets,through some of my zoology courses at my university,since they’re one of the primary reasons animals arepoached. Though I had no idea what one would looklike. I figured out through lots of talking with locals how There were just heaps upon heapsto get to the witch colony, and I knew that where there of heads, hands, bodies, and skins,were witches and Fetish priests, so there must also be a with very little organization.Fetish market. And I was determined to see it.When I was taking a tro-troback to the larger city fromthe colony, I struck up aconversation with a Ghanaianguy who was sitting next tome and happened to speakEnglish, about visiting thewitch colony and learningmore about Fetishism.Eventually I told him I reallywanted to visit a Fetish marketand asked if he knew of any,and it turned out that he knewa bunch of the guys who ranthe one in the city we wereheaded to, and said he wouldbe glad to take me there.It seems like the existence andlocation of the Fetish marketsis common knowledge to the
AMA 28What were some of the items you sawand your reactions to them?I was really surprised by the sheer amount ofanimal parts, I had no idea there would be somany. I couldn’t even figure out how to beginphotographing them, there were just heaps uponheaps of heads, hands, bodies, and skins, with verylittle organization.The only item I asked about specifically was theelephant jaw: how expensive? They told me $130American, and usually Ghanaians charge aboutthree times as much or more to foreigners, so I thinkit probably would have cost a Ghanaian about $45dollars.There were lots and lots of endangered andprotected species there: leopards, cheetahs, lions,hippos, various croc species, every bird and reptileimaginable, different monkey species, pangolin,and antelope. I think just about every species inAfrica was represented, with the exception of rhino.The monkey heads lined in a row was one of themore disturbing things I saw there.Is the market legitimately illegalactivity and sales? Or is thissomewhat common in Ghana?It’s frowned upon, and poaching/selling poachedanimals is illegal, but the sellers all claim that everyanimal at their shops was found dead and salvaged,which is “legal.” It’s fairly similar to the law thatwhales can be killed for science; everyone uses it asa loophole. And since you can’t prove they weren’tsalvaged, it’s all legal.
FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS My car is too old to have an input for my iPod, but too new for a tape adapter.
STORIES 31 the SCARECROW GAME WRITTEN BY SCARECROWGIRL
STORIES 32When I was young, my family lived in a small, rural so I learned to stop teasing him about it. Years later, Itown in Virginia. It was the kind of town where no realized it was an old-fashioned nightgown, the kindone locked their doors. It was bordered by patches of both little boys and little girls used to wear. Maybe I’dold farmland and forest, and the yards were huge and seen it in a book, or on TV, and incorporated it into mysprawling, many with fruit orchards at the back. daydreams.The street I was on didn’t have any other children on At the time I just knew he was dressed funny. Weit, unfortunately, but I had a few friends at school, played with his toy trains, which he could sendand we went on hayrides, picked pumpkins, and spinning through the air, something I never got thevisited each other often. At home, I probably would knack of myself but thought was a lot of fun. Sometimeshave been lonely, except, like many children, I had he would bring them out while I was eating dinnerimaginary friends to keep me company. What maybe with my family, and I’d point them out to my parents,made me different from other kids was the sheer the trains dancing around the ceiling. They laughed,number of imaginary friends I had, and the very and told me they couldn’t see them, which annoyedspecific circumstances in which they showed up. me at first, but I eventually got used to it.There was a little boy that played with me in my The one time I remember my parents being concernedroom at night. I remember I used to make fun of him about any of my imaginary companions was when Ifor wearing a dress, this weird lacy blue thing, and he said I had made friends with a man named Michael,would scowl and throw blocks at my head and sulk, a young man in old-fashioned clothes, with a funnyand sometimes disappear entirely for days on end, cap, and he always carried a stick over his left shoulder. I told them that I met him in the orchard and that now we were boyfriend and girlfriend, that we were going to get married. This naturally concerned them
STORIES 33a bit, which I found baffling at the time, but once I little brother or sister to play with, but somethingchattered away at Michael in front of them, they kept going wrong. I didn’t wind up getting my littlecalmed down. Obviously this was yet another of my brother until later, when we’d moved to Southcadre of imaginary friends, not a strange man preying Carolina. On top of that, my dad was always awayon their daughter. for work – sometimes for weeks at a time. My mom was very quiet and distracted back then, with the endThen there was Judy, the only one of my result that she seldom noticed when I disappeared forfriends that did occasionally frighten me. hours on end. I don’t think this made her a bad parentEven I couldn’t see her – she was just a voiceand an invisible presence, but we playedall the time in my room, always during theday, wild games that usually resulted inenormous messes that I, not Judy, got yelled atfor, which I always thought was completelyunfair. What frightened me was that shehad a temper. When we fought, she’d throwthings at me until I burst into tears, and thenshe’d apologize over and over until I forgaveher. We fought and made up constantly. Myparents thought it was cute, I think.The list of imaginary friends and comradesgoes on and on, probably more than anyonewould be interested in hearing about. I hadthem everywhere. There was the girl in thewall by the playground – she only came outsometimes, during cloudy days. I don’t knowif she came out at night – I never went to theplayground after dark, of course. And therewere the eyes in the magnolia tree. I calledthem my squirrel friends, and they freakedout my babysitter, even though she couldn’t – as I recall, a lot of my friends’ parents were the samesee them. way. I certainly ran amok mostly unsupervised at my friend Marcus’s house, too, throughout the corn fieldsNone of these figures seemed malevolent to me, and forests near his house. It was a safe, sleepy town.though like I said, sometimes Judy’s temper scared There was no reason to worry.me. But considering that I was a bit of a scaredy-catas a kid, terrified of skeletons and prone to hiding my Years later, I came to the same conclusion as myface and shrieking in terror whenever “The Wizard of parents: wow, I had a crazy imagination. All thoseOz” or the Sea Witch from “The Little Mermaid” came things must have been a combination of dreams andon TV, it’s no wonder that my imaginary friends never playacting and wishful thinking. I was a weird kidworried my parents. They must have seemed both who didn’t have a lot of friends outside of school, myfunny and harmless. Maybe even healthy, for a kid parents didn’t have a lot of time for me, and clearly Iwith no one to play with during the day. was making up for it in my own head. But recently something happened that made me startBesides, they had other things to worry about – though thinking back. There’s one thing, just one, that reallyall I knew at the time was that my mom was sick a makes me wonder if more was going on than just thelot, I now know she was having miscarriage after overactive imagination of a lonely kid.miscarriage, almost always of twins, which probably You see, the year I turned six, something happenedmade it worse. They wanted me to have a sibling, a to Marcus. I didn’t understand what happened then. I was a kid, and at the time it wasn’t something that
STORIES 34 especially frightened me – it did upset we’d been in there. They said it was old, for what seemed like hours (probably no me, but I was a kid. Kids get over strange and dangerous, and kept threatening more than ten minutes, but time passes events easily, especially when distracted that eventually they were going to tear differently when you’re a kid), and often by other, even stranger events. We moved it down. We kept sneaking in, though, the game would finally end when his pretty soon after it happened, and my sneaking in flashlights and blankets and arms just got too tired for him to hold them mind was occupied with worry over that stuffed animals that his parents repeatedly up any longer. This never happened to – over the friends I was leaving, over cleared back out. Eventually they boarded me, mind you. Like I said, I was a horrible whether I would make new friends in up the door so that we couldn’t get in Scarecrow. my new home, over whether my mom anymore. I remembered the day we really would let me get a puppy, over the discovered the boards, how we pried at In kindergarten, Marcus and I were paired new little brother I was being promised them for ages and then sulked back to the up as partners – the way our class worked, and whether my parents would love him house, full of splinters. each pair had a task to complete. Ours more than me. Normal worries, but all- Anyway, like I said earlier, his house was was to clean up and stack the blocks back encompassing ones for a six-year-old. surrounded by cornfields. Many of them in their treasure chest after morning and I didn’t have a lot of friends at school had scarecrows, which sparked an idea afternoon play periods. So when Marcus back in Virginia, maybe because I talked in our heads. Somehow, who knows how didn’t come in, I always noticed and to myself so often back then, but I did the minds of kids work, but at some point fumed – he was leaving me with all the have one really good friend, my best we came up with the Scarecrow game. work! Never mind that I did the same to friend, Marcus. He was a bit of an oddball This was the game we played the most – him the week I had the flu, or the time himself, a goofy looking kid covered in at school, at his home or mine, wherever. Mom was too sick to walk me to school. freckles, with red curly hair like Ronald The object of the game was this: one of McDonald and a giant mouth that was us would play the Scarecrow, standing One morning, I think in October, or maybe always laughing or smiling wider that perfectly still, hands outstretched and November – it was just before it’d gotten seemed humanly possible. I liked him a head down, not moving, totally silent. cold enough to bundle up during the day, lot, and he loved hearing my stories about And the other would do their damnedest still warm enough during recess to run my invisible companions. Judy hated to make the Scarecrow move or jump or around without a jacket. Anyway, one day him, so we usually played outside when make a noise. This could be done by trying Marcus didn’t show up. I was already mad he visited. He would troop around with to either scare the Scarecrow, or make at him because for some reason, he hadn’t Michael and me, listening to me prattle them laugh – you could pretend to be an been there to play all weekend, his parents on. I’d convey Michael’s occasional elephant, or make funny faces, or sneak not answering the phone when mine comments, and we all had fun exploring, up behind them and shout as loud as you called. So I was extra mad that morning as climbing trees, finding the best hiding could. I stacked the blocks alone, throwing them around haphazardly. As I was a giant fraidy cat, and also rather When we broke for recess, though, Marcus The object of the game was this: excitable to boot, was waiting outside, waiting for me. Itone of us would play the Scarecrow, it quickly became was a sunny day, sky bright blue, and standing perfectly still, hands apparent that I was a I remember there was a strong breeze outstretched and head down, not horrible Scarecrow. My blowing. Leaves were falling everywhere, moving, totally silent. turns never lasted long, skittering around in the breeze in swirly especially because of crackly color, and a bunch of my Marcus could pull classmates were already racing around, places and secret fortresses. some truly spectacular faces. Even now, making piles and throwing them at each I visited him, too. His house was an nearly two decades later, I still remember other, shrieking and making the normal old farmhouse from an earlier century, his impression of a giraffe being born sounds of a playground filled with kids. probably the 1700s or 1800s, I’m not sure. and can’t help laughing. He had a gift But Marcus just stood there in a bubble It had a barn, and a silo that was out of for comedy even at six years of age; even of silence, arms outstretched and head use and rusting away, which we were adults constantly cracked up around him. down. He was wearing a red shirt that forbidden to go near, but we occasionally clashed with his orange hair. He was snuck in through the side door anyway. I was less adept, or maybe Marcus just had playing Scarecrow. We used it as a clubhouse, but his parents nerves of steel and the patience of a much always yelled if they figured out that older kid, because he could stand there I was still a little miffed that he’d skipped
STORIES 35out on his block duties, but I was glad to see him. then she gently suggested I maybe I should get a newThere were always the other girls in my class that I partner, which really infuriated me. I shouted no,could have played with, Peggy and Meredith and and that I wanted Marcus, and he should just comeAshley, but I never got along as well with them as I inside and help me. When he still didn’t I pitched adid with Marcus. Marcus was my best friend. It was tantrum, and my mom had to come and get me. I don’talways more fun when he was there. remember what my mom told me, I just remember that I was mad and didn’t want to listen. I went to bedThat day, though, Marcus played the Scarecrow better early after refusing to eat dinner.than he ever had before. There was a cut on one ofhis hands, but he just stood there and let it bleed, The next day Marcus still wasn’t in class. The teacherthe blood dripping off his fingers and falling on the didn’t make me put up the blocks that morning –leaves. His hair looked weird, too, matted down instead she had Peggy and Meredith do it. Whenon one side and wet. That scared me a little, but we had recess, though, Marcus was still there,Marcus had never minded cuts and bruises as standing in the same place, in the samemuch as I did and was good at hiding them red shirt. Playing Scarecrow. At firstfrom his parents later so we wouldn’t get in I decided to ignore him, runningtrouble, so it wasn’t that strange. and playing with the other kids, slipping in the leaves, climbingWhat was strange was how well he played the slide and playing king ofthat day. Nothing the play fort. But I kept peekingcould make at Marcus out of the corner of myhim move, eye. Was he mad at me? I finallynot even shuffled up through the fallenwhen I leaves and wood chips and stoodgot frustrated and next to him, and this time I playedbroke the rules and Scarecrow, too. Two Scarecrows,shoved him. He just stood but I kept losing. My arms got tired;there, head down, arms out, mouth I had to put them down. I didn’tunsmiling. He didn’t get tired, didn’t understand how he was doing it, andput his arms down, didn’t obey the he didn’t turn and look at me, or tryunspoken rule that after a while, the to scare me or make me laugh, or dogame had to end. That was the rule, anything. He just stood there, stillerand he wasn’t playing fair, and he than anything.hadn’t even helped me with theblocks that morning. When the teacher called us to line up to go back inside when recess ended,“Fine!” I yelled, frustrated I ran up to her and tugged her skirt,enough that I was practically and asked her to make Marcus comecrying, and stomped off to go inside, too. She stared at me andplay tag with the other kids. covered her mouth with her hand, andHe was still standing there then turned without saying anythingwhen recess ended. I didn’t say to walk the class inside like we alwaysanything because I was still mad, did.but I was even more aggravatedwhen that afternoon, before I I lost it. I didn’t understand and itcould go home, I had to put up wasn’t fair and I wanted Marcus toall the blocks by myself, again. I come inside. I screamed, and yelled,complained to our teacher, who and when the principal himself camewas a young pretty woman, more out to talk to me and bring me in, Ia girl, really, not very experienced. threw myself on the ground and kickedI remember she seemed upset, and and bit.
STORIES 36I don’t remember a lot after that. I do. As I grew up, I stopped making as many that had turned out to be tetanus. By theremember my mom came and got me, and imaginary friends, stopping entirely once I time they’d taken him to the doctor, thethat my dad came home from his work hit middle school. case of lockjaw was so bad he could barelytrip soon after that, and that they told me breathe, could barely move at all.Marcus wasn’t coming to school anymore. But recently, one of my classmates from“But he was there!” I sobbed into my Virginia friended me on Facebook, and I He’d found a new way into the silo,mom’s neck, pretty much worn out, but thought for the first time in a long time something we’d always plotted to do. Hestill determined, because he had been, about that funny-looking kid, my best must have done it without me, and cuthe’d been right there, playing Scarecrow. friend from kindergarten. The Scarecrow, himself on the metal as he did. Not badly,My mom said in a funny voice that I I remembered that game. I never really but when metal is rusty it doesn’t haveshouldn’t play that game anymore, which played it once I’d moved – no one else to be bad. He’d died there, in the hospital.just infuriated me all over again. Why played it right, and over the years I’d That’s why he hadn’t come to school thatnot? It didn’t make sense. almost forgotten about it. I tried to look morning, or any morning after that. He’d Marcus up online, but couldn’t remember died, and I’d gone into hysterics. That’sWe weren’t supposed to move until the his last name and I couldn’t turn anything what my parents remember. It fits withnew year, but somehow the schedule up in Meredith or Peggy’s friends lists, what I remember, too. Mostly.changed, and we left for our new home either. For some reason I felt weird askingin South Carolina soon after that. Judy them about him, so I waited until I was I keep telling myself now that he mustpitched a fit like I’d never seen before, and visiting my parents over a holiday break. have died after I left school. He must have.then stopped talking to me altogether. I brought it up nonchalantly over dinner. That cut on his hand and on his head, thatMy parents didn’t make me clean up the must have been what killed him, killedmess. I never got to say goodbye to my “Hey, Mom,” I said in between bites of him after that last time I’d seen him. That’sclassmates, or the girl in the wall, because I casserole. “Remember that kid, back in what happened. Even if not, it’s not like Inever went back to the school again. When Virginia? Marcus, right? I don’t remember could trust my own memories. I’d madeI asked Michael to marry me and move to his last name, do you?” things up before. I’d made things up all theSouth Carolina with us, he just looked at time, entire people, whole conversationsme, not smiling, and ruffled my hair, and I, “Oh, honey,” my mom said, and reached and friendships. The boy in my room,already overemotional and exhausted and across the table and patted my hand. “We and the girl in the wall, and Judy, andupset, yelled and kicked his shin and ran worried so much about you after that Michael, all of them. I just had a vibrantback home. I never saw him again. happened.” imagination, and I was an upset little girlFor years I assumed the timing of our who didn’t know how to deal with themove was just coincidence – it turned out I took a deep breath and made myself death of my best friend. That’s all.my mom was pregnant again, and this keep eating, and with my mouth still fulltime it seemed to be sticking. I was going mumbled an agreement, both hoping and What makes me shiver, even now, though,to get a new brother, and my dad had just fearing that she’d say more. is that Marcus wasn’t one of my imaginarygotten offered a new promotion. They friends, except for those last two days,hurried to find an available house, found “It’s so hard to lose a friend when you’re when no one saw him but me. It seemsone, and bought it immediately. It was a that young,” she continued. “And it was like a strange coincidence, and I can’t helpgood time to move; as a kid growing up I so sad, too. We were so relieved that the but wonder. Not just about Marcus, butnever questioned it. I was happy in South move seemed to help you deal with losing about all of them. About why I saw them,Carolina. I made new friends quickly, and him.” and who they were, what they were. II had a baby brother and a puppy to play wonder if I go back to Virginia, if I’d findwith. Virginia was just a memory, and “Right,” I said, and tried not to look like Michael waiting in the old orchard. If thethe horrible last days there faded quickly how I felt, which was like I was about to girl in the wall is still there. I wonder if I goin my mind. I’d had a fight with my best pass out facedown in my plate. The rest of back to my old school, to that playground,friend, I moved, I grew up. But now I the conversation passed in a haze, like I if I’d still see Marcus standing there, armswonder. was hearing my family talk from far away, outstretched, head down, waiting for me. underwater. My brother was asking,You see, I never really thought about that curious, and my parents were telling I wonder what it would take to make himtime of my life with any real seriousness. him about little Marcus Brown, how he’d look up.I was a kid, it was a long time ago, I had a contracted what his parents had thoughtwild imagination. Whatever, lots of kids was a bad cold over the weekend, a cold
STORIES 37 I WILL SURVIVE WRITTEN BY ZACCHSo there I was. Peering out to an endless sea of faceless shooting out the corner of his crusty-edged mouth.patrons I gave two shits about as pizza and beer slid The numerous terrorist organizations must finddown their throats. Nobody patiently waits for their British bills too aesthetically pleasing to do anythingserver to stop by anymore. The universal server wave about that wrist-flicking wench. It’s at this momentis the new custom. It’s no ordinary wave though; it’s a I realize the disgruntled fatty is chockfull of angerclosed palm flutter that is only controlled by the wrist because he hasn’t been attended to in forty-eightlike they’re the Queen of fucking England waving to seconds because I was too busy wondering how to offthousands of toothless Brits as she walks out on her the Queen Bee without getting caught. I withstandbalcony. They don’t just wave like her; they act like his rant and offer a free beer. That shuts him upher too. unsurprisingly. Beer seems to make everyone happy as it causes them to let themselves go and introduce“Excuse me, but I am royalty. I demand impeccable an immense amount of faux joy. It should be theservice without any incentive of you being rewarded currency if there is ever an apocalyptic catastrophefor your tireless efforts to keep me constantly pleased that ravages the cities.and to listen to me berate you. Here’s $3 for your time.” One way to deal with the surplus of hyenas that comeOf course it’s not the actual dialogue between us but in to make you bend over backwards is to pictureit’s damn better than the bullshit script we’re advised what kind of role they would play in a communityto implement. They’re all thinking it too. I know that was destroyed into an apocalyptic wasteland.they are, those bastards. I forcibly smile at them as An elderly couple sat down at one of my tables. HisI futilely recommend healthy options to the people wife was awfully nice and pleasant, whereas he justthat lie to themselves about how their mistakenly somewhat remained silent and, probably, obedient.pregnant stomach isn’t perched on the edge of the Then they immediately became shop owners oftable. Oh, you wanted something healthier than the badlands. The man became Oscar, who ran anpizza and hot wings? I’m so glad you decided on electricity shop that would charge other trinkets thatcoming into a fucking sports bar. Let me go ahead no longer held a spark found amongst the wasteland;and divert your attention to one of our salads that just as long as passing travelers were able to providewill clog your arteries with our homemade dressings items to trade for his services. His wife, Mildred, sat inthat contain more fat and calories than the majority what was left in the lobby of the shop and made tea forof our pizzas do. As I ineffectively sway their ignorant various voyagers as they waited for Oscar to produceminds another Queen of England is spotted out of an efficient electrical charge for their newly foundthe corner of my eye. Why haven’t there been more objects. Being an electrical shop, they were able toassassination attempts on her anyway? She’s as high have items in the store that ran for days. One of themas they come. Somebody has to put a price on her was a record player but, because of the disaster, theyhead. It’s quite ironic, because her head is already were only able to obtain one recorded single: Gloriaon their money. Maybe that’s why nobody has tried. Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” This played over and overThey’re so used to seeing her face in their wallets that as Mildred did her best to entertain the store patronsthey don’t want any other fucker’s head on there. I’m with music and tea. They lived before the disaster sosure that it would be some hideous English next-in- they still had a sense of propriety toward customers.line royalty with teeth perpendicular to one another I mean they weren’t barbarians. Oscar hated Gloria.
STORIES 38He simply despised her with all of her self-righteousheart. She sat there and told him how she should havechanged that stupid lock. He sat there and ponderedwhat it would feel like to attach a pair of jumpercables to his testicles. ‘Go ahead, Gaynor, tell me towalk out the door one more time. I swear I’ll switchon this fucking car battery in my bathtub,’ Oscarconstantly thought to himself. But he was too greatof a husband to express his nightmare to Mildred.All she wanted was to please her guests. Many of theyounger wasteland travelers very much enjoyed itas they had never heard the song before. One offeredto trade it for something of his. Oscar grew ecstatic.‘This is it,’ he thought, ‘Gloria’s about to be the onethat walks out the door. So help me God I will changethat stupid fucking lock.’ Oscar’s salvation from thistyranny was in arm’s reach. He could finally work inpeace without hearing of some man that came fromouter space and wronged such a deserving woman.Tears of sheer joy began to form at the corner of hiseyes. He could not contain his excitement. It wasChristmas morning before the apocalypse. Until theunthinkable happened. A looming gray cloud peeredover their shop at that moment. A grim presenceentered the atmosphere; one Death himself would bewary of: Mildred.“Oh I’m terribly sorry, sonny, but that’s actually notfor trade. Have a great day!” Mildred said.Oscar had never considered a divorce before. His lifedrained before him. He would never know happinesslike that again. His legs gave out from beneath him.Luckily there was a chair under him. He lookedaround for an easy out. He peered over the varioustrinkets and objects that did and didn’t hold anelectrical charge that he had gathered over the yearsof rummaging the wasteland, all stored on rusty ironshelves with no means of organization. That’s whenhe saw them: jumper cables. Oscar stood up andwalked to the jumper cables that were connected to amakeshift car battery. This was it. His final momentswere nearing due to Gloria fucking Gaynor. Hegrabbed the rubber-handled cables and touched theends together to test the spark. Just before he clenchedhis hands, opening the clamps toward what was leftof his manhood, the elderly couple paid their bill andwalked out of the restaurant.Nice tip too.
STORIES 39 A BOY AND HIS COMPUTER WRITTEN BY KYLE ALBASI Crimson was more than wanted to be the kind of with his only familya machine to Al, though grandpa that could show halfway across the world.the salesman did his best up unannounced. Even as a When he got home Al wentto insist otherwise. “A kid he had romantic visions straight to his study andglorified Speak and Spell,” of old age. He’d be skinny unpacked Crimson. “I can’the said with a grin and a with a white beard and a believe it’s not self-aware!”pat on the back. This was in black cane. He’d always be was sprawled across thethe early days of telepathic happy to see you and he’d front of the packaging.computing. John Melvin impart simple but poignant Cheeky, retro marketingfirst broke into the market advice about staying on was in with the olderin 2079 with a microwave target and taking life as it generations, which wasyou could program with comes. exactly who Crimson wasyour intentions. All you Instead he was in a stark targeted at. Despite thehad to do was imagine the white computer store with revolutionary advancesperfect temperature and a man one-third his age in telepathic computingthe machine did the rest. trying to explain to him there were still those in theIt wasn’t long before this how the world works these population, mostly amongfeature permeated all new days. He looked the part he the elderly, that didn’t wanttechnology. Technology imagined, but now he was their thoughts linked withthat already long permeated going home to an empty a machine. So Mackinaw,every facet of people’s house to communicate the computer company,everyday lives. “Can’t I just get somethingwith a mouse or trackpad…hand signals?” Al asked. “Even if I had somethingI could give you it wouldn’tdo you much good.You can’t hardly accessanything that responds to amouse anymore.” Even as a kid he had Al didn’t care muchfor computers, but it was romantic visions of oldthe only way he could age. He’d be skinnystay in touch with hisgranddaughters. Their with a white beardmother was constantly and a black cane. He’dtaking new jobs across theworld. China, Japan, India, always be happy to seeTaiwan. “I feel trapped if you and he’d impartI stand still for too long,”she’d say. And Al was simple butproud of her, but still, he poignant advice...