Mask of Mano

“The mask made me do it,” said the young Liberian. He was tall for his age, slouching his sweat-glazed head to his chest as he stood in the musky odor of the hut. Incense and blood tickled his nose.

The boy shuffled forward, his barefeet padding softly against the arid soil which served as a living room carpet. Smoke clouded the hut, obscuring the boy’s visibility. His toes knew the way, and they carried him across the dirt “living room”, past the “kitchenette”, and into the family’s ceremonial space. On a gnarled wooden table (next to several small chairs and a goat’s carcass), sat the family’s ceremonial mask. A weak flame from a nearby brazier flickered in the shadows. The mask came into detail.

It was carved from a single piece of wood, smoothed to a shine. Gonlekpei, that was its name. Luogon, the barefooted boy, liked that name for the mask—“Man under the Hut”, it meant. He thought it fitting, Gonlekpei’s high cheekbones, elongated nose, and coarse beard reminded Luogon of his Colonel.

Luogon bent over and picked up the mask, a small wedge of hashish escaped his pocket. Gonlekpei glared into Luogon’s dilated eyes, bloodshot and vacant. A woman’s scream erupted somewhere behind Luogon. His eyes never left those of Gonlekpei’s.

“My boy!” screamed the woman’s voice, shrill and quivering with grief. “What did you do?!”

Luogon searched for an answer in Gonlekpei’s empty sockets.

“Too old…” whispered old man Gonlekpei. “Bullets…”

Luogon returned Gonlekpei to his throne on the altar. Then he found his kalash and shot the woman six times. He went to investigate the body. His foot struck against the wedge of hashish, which had dropped from his pocket moments before. He smiled at his good fortune, retrieved his treasure, and gently secured it back into his pocket.

On his way out of the pungent tent, ripe with decay, Luogon almost forgot to check if the woman still drew breath. The Colonel always rewarded due diligence.

“She’s dead,” Luogon thought to himself.

One of his rounds had struck her just below the left eye. Her lifeless body had collapsed into a heap on the dirt, her arms draped over the skinny frame of her eldest son—his skin porous with bullet-holes. Among the gore and spent cartridges, Luogon almost didn’t recognize the faces of his mother and older brother.

He smiled. “The mask made me do it.”
(Luogon can be translated as “boy born after the death of a sibling”.)



By Austin Treat


Gas Station

In a gas station one hundred miles inland from the coast of America’s bay state, a cashier is nodding off to the lullabies of Celine Dion coming from the transistor radio behind the counter. The evening sluggishly pulls on, and a few customers visit the gas station, but leave without purchasing an item or awakening the clerk. They, like most patrons of this business, are out of towners just filling up their tanks and continuing on the road towards places of inferior beauty and high population densities. In these places, souls float through city blocks and rarely brush shoulders, eyes meet for split seconds and faces are forgotten in less. People are gray molds, whose faces wrinkle under the eyes, and are smooth from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth. The horizon is blocked by massive structures whose designers are praised for the beauty they have given the world.
The cashier jolts as the chime of the doors warns him of a new customer. A girls pushes past an older man moving half her pace. The young girl skips through the aisles searching for a candy sweeter than anything nature could provide, and stops when she finds her beloved skittles. Tropical; a flavor foreign to the landscape of green and brown that holds our small gas station. The old man nods at the cashier and he reciprocates, blinking repeatedly to remind his eyes that they are awake. He turns to look out the window and sighs gratefully, he didn’t sleep through the sunset. A glorious peach sky shines through the glass wall, and the old man shields his eyes as he sorts through newspapers. The little girl puts down the bright teal package of candy and runs past the clerk to the window. Her face and hands pressed to the glass leave delicate smudges that the cashier will never feel to wipe clean. Mesmerized, she forgets she ever wanted any candy. The radio antennae, intoxicated by the scent of gas and sunlight absorbed, slowly falls to the side. Resting there, Celine Dion is replaced with white static. The gas station falls asleep.
At this moment, all six eyes are fixed on the landscape, the old man has put down his paper, awakened by the lack of nineties ballads. The cashier doesn’t dare take his eyes off the window, he no longer feels the hard seat underneath him, he doesn’t hear a sound but the gasps and squeaks of the little girl blissfully observing what is usually his sunset, and his alone. Unaware, they all smile together. The edges of the old man’s mouth slowly turn upwards, fighting against years of frowns perpetuated by gravity and a catholic marriage. For a moment the clerk has a father, and a little sister. And soon their spirits huddle behind the glass and stand shoulder to shoulder, as if the passage to heaven was being exhibited for them, and they looked into the orange and saw old friends. They saw parents, and lost stuffed animals. They saw wives, and grandmothers. Through the gold they picked out memories; images of God. A strong bearded man in a white robe. The old man; who only saw this sunset.
The three all sagged in their stances, until the man let out a small grunt of satisfaction. The white fog drifted out of the cashiers eyes, and he let out a deep breathe that seemed trapped in his lungs. He began to speak but his voice had to find its way back over the hump in his throat. He managed to get out a small:
“Where you headed?”
The old man chuckled, “Speak up, son, my ears have heard too much”
He smiled and looked downward, “Worcester or Boston?”
“Boston,” he answered, “this one has school soon.” He patted her head and she grabbed his hand.
“Ah, enjoying the city life.” The cashier tried to hide his disappointment that these friends were leaving his side.
“Ha, if you want to call it that,” he replied, “I just call it the city.”


By Peter Duffy

The Kiss

I saw her for the first and last time at the train station.

She was sitting at the terminal with one leg crossed over the other, looking down at the enclosed hands in her lap as if she was absorbed in thought. Her fingers were bare save for the lightest pink nail polish that had begun to chip. No ring, meaning she was not married. Or, that she chose not to wear her ring. Her hair fell in her face in soft waves that seemed just a little too perfect to be natural. Could that be her natural hair? The now-setting sun shone on her face, highlighting the dark spots forming under her eyes. Maybe she hadn’t been sleeping well. Her skirt was pushed up to her knee and rustled in the breeze as a passing train roared by. Her green pea coat was unbuttoned at the top, like she was a conservative woman who wanted the tiniest bit of risk in her life. In that moment, I wanted to be that risk.

She did not look up as others passed, eyes focused solely on her hands. I felt like I could stare at her for an eternity, and she would never know—I was just another pair of scuffed loafers. I took comfort in the fact that I could take her in without being noticed. I liked people watching. The human form is truly beautiful when it is entirely unguarded, isn’t it? Do you ever stop to admire the true magnificence that is the mortal body? It can do such wonderful and mysterious things. The inner mechanisms and parts driven by the quality of the flesh on the outside. The air and blood circulating through the system in a delicious cycle of revitalization. Truly fascinating.

I was standing there, stunned that no one else seemed to notice her pure and unadulterated beauty. She could have easily blended into the crowd of people bustling around, but no… No, she would not intermingle with this filth. Her sharp features were too alluring to permit me to look anywhere else. I knew that she was the one.

I unbuttoned my coat, straightening out my shirt before approaching. I needed to be at my finest when the moment arrived. I quickly closed the distance between us, pausing when I was directly in front of her. “Is anyone sitting here?” I gestured to the spot beside her, waiting for our eyes to meet. The time had come, and I was awaiting her positive reaction.

To my immense displeasure, she did not make eye contact. She shrugged and shifted over to make room for me. I needed her to see me. I would never truly be seen again if it weren’t by the gaze of her eyes and her eyes only.

I waited some time before proceeding, so as not to alarm her. She was so close that I could smell her sweet perfume in the air. Her presence was driving me mad. I needed her right now. I reached across and put my hand on top of hers, her skin cool to the touch, causing her to jerk away violently. She let out a throaty sort of moan, slowly raising her eyes to meet mine. When she lifted her chin, her green eyes flickered and fizzled out, leaving two black sockets that seemed to embody the meaning of life itself.

I closed the distance that was separating our faces, pressing my lips hard against hers. The air quickly rushed out of my lungs, my body becoming lighter and thinner and more emaciated by the second. Though my body was deteriorating, my mind was still bright for a moment longer. I was ready to leave this realm. I remember my last thought being of the perpetual quest for the kiss of death. I had found my angel—I had found my demon.

That was the last time I saw her.


By Lauren Stock



The first time my brother left was when I was three.  At least, that’s what he told me.  I don’t remember, obviously.  He went on a two-moon trip to Atlanta, GA, a hundred miles away from our rural house in a suburban neighborhood.  I think he went with his girlfriend, or met his girlfriend there, or something involving a girlfriend, because I saw a picture of a girl in a motel bed waving at the camera, wearing nothing but a broad and sheepish smile.  I commented to my brother that she was naked [and that he shouldn’t be showing these things to a kid like me].  He liked to say [it wasn’t a problem because] she was covered in sin [and everything was covered in sin, so I should get used to it].

The second time my brother left was when I was five.  I remember this a lot more, because he asked me if I wanted to come along.  I didn’t then, I had more important things to do.  He ended up leaving for a tour of the Dead Sea.  He said he dove to the bottom and came up a new, salty man, but I didn’t believe him.  How could I, when he had no evidence?  He looked the same to me.  Besides, the Dead Sea probably wasn’t even deep enough for him to dive into.

But then he said he was going to the moon.  I couldn’t go with him this time, he said.  He’d been training for the past six and a half years, he had, and even though he’d been trained well enough to even bring a dog up into space, he wasn’t allowed to bring me.  He got there okay, I guess, because I got a postcard from the space station telling me so.  It was three lines: “Your brother is fine.  He says hello.  The moon is more fun than he’s had in years.”

Then I got an email from my brother who was out in space somewhere.  He said he wasn’t on the moon anymore, literally he was just “out in space somewhere.”  He’d used a satellite nearby to send me this message, and it would probably be the last communication for a while.  He was going to try to reach a distant place called X194-89.  It had properties of Jupiter in the form of a sun–in other words, it was an icy, burning star.  I couldn’t reply back to him.  I was pretty sure he was fine, though.  The space station told me that they had contacted him a few months ago and things seemed to be going well.  He sent them a message saying “Surf’s up!”  They asked me if I knew what it meant, but I didn’t.

Last week the space station my brother had taken off from had blown up.  My wife saw it on the news, engulfed in a cloud of hell–the fires of sin, I guess my brother would say.  I wouldn’t know.  He was never really my brother anyway, I just liked to call him that in my head, because if I didn’t call him that I wouldn’t have anything else to call him, because if I called him the love of my life inside my head then I thought there was a chance I would make a mistake outside of it and that would’ve freaked him out, my brother.
But my wife is making a trip in a casket today.  She told me she was leaving me to go on a trip to Jordan.  She had wanted to see the Dead Sea.



By Sarah Phou


An Election Ballot

Nixon was dead: to begin with. That much was true. And no matter the libel or lies, it would remain true. It was not yet said to be untrue by Trump and this was good because of the doubt he was able to instill deep into the minds of those who believed (and believed hard) that his word was final. Usually, during election campaigns, the notion of saying President Richard Nixon had faked his death would be a ludicrous one, but with Donald Trump at the helm? Nothing was out of play. Even though playtime had long since passed.

And so it was that Trump buttoned his overdrawn overcoat and trudged through the snow to enter Trump Tower (his doorman had long since abandoned him) on the night before Election Day 2016. The world was on edge even as Trump found himself entirely alone. The most famous person in America with the most pivotal day in election history looming – and he was entirely alone. That was, until, he made eye contact with his first floor receptionist.

“Chris, what are you still doing here?” Trump asked, gesticulating wildly.

Chris Christie rapidly scrambled to his feet to salute the man. “A good man never leaves his post!”

“Everyone’s gone, Chris.”

“I did not wish to assume a thing, sir!” Christie barked obediently.

“Whatever,” Trump said, ignoring the governor completely. “I really don’t care.” The man with the golden hair and the golden campaign stepped into his golden elevator and pressed the silver button (that then lit up like gold) to the top of Trump Tower. He had to remind himself after poking at this shoelaces that he wasn’t King Midas. “I always forget that. I’m sorry, Donald.”

On the fortieth floor, the elevator stopped and the doors opened, revealing the snively face of a man Trump groaned and bent over to rub his knees upon seeing. He immediately begin pressing the “close door” button. Noticing this, the man spoke hurriedly.

“Please, Donald, just a second of your time,” Paul Ryan blurted out, taking out his headphones that had provided the soundtrack to his very intense workout.

“Not now, Paul, I’m not in the mood,” Trump said, noticing that when he touched the button it turned gold and he reminded himself about the Midas thing again.

Paul Ryan thrust his hands forward in the shape of a bowl. “Please, just whatever your pocket change is will be enough. I’m so far back in the polls and tomorrow’s Election Day! Any little bit helps.”

“Alright, we’re going to need to get these doors fixed,” Donald Trump said as they finally started to close. “Ah, that’s better. Bye bye Mr. Treasurer!”

Paul Ryan ran towards the elevator. “Donald! I’m not the treasurer, Donald. Please!”

“Never let that happen again,” Donald Trump said to no one in particular before the elevator reached his intended location. Just as he was about to step into his office, though, his intercom buzzed like the world around him. Chris Christie’s voice pierced Donald’s ears in a most unwelcome fashion.

“Your son, Eric, is on line two, Mr. Trump,” Christie offered. “He wants to know if you’ll be watching the results at his house tomorrow.”

“Honestly, just tell him to go fuck himself,” Donald said, rubbing his forehead.

“Yes, sir, right away, sir.” Christie obliged and caught Trump’s attention again as the billionaire’s hand was on his door handle that was shaped like a receding hairline. “While I have you, Master, may I have tomorrow off?”

“But tomorrow is election day,” Trump countered.

“I know, your honor. It’s just that Fox News offered me a spot as an analyst for the day tomorrow and I’d really like to do my best with it.”

“Tell ya what, Chris. Call everyone who works here and give them the day off tomorrow. But I expect you here for the entire day. Okay?” Trump ordered before releasing his hold of the intercom button.

“Thank you, my lord,” Chris said obediently to empty air.

Donald Trump sat down in his luxury throne that was fit for a king like him (just not Midas) and checked his Casio watch. 11:37 P.M.

“I’m bored!” Trump whined. “I wonder what Scott’s up to.” Muttering, Trump dialed his close friend and third-tier Happy Days star, Scott Baio before being sent immediately to voicemail. “His phone battery must be dead. Like his career. What a loser! Only losers don’t answer my calls…” Trump paused. “Why didn’t he answer it?” he said softly, almost as if he was trying to ensure that he couldn’t hear himself. “I know who always picks up!” Donald said with renewed confidence before dialing the call-in number for The O’Reilly Factor. He was put on air immediately, satisfying Trump momentarily.

“Yes, this is Donald Trump! I just wanted to call and say that maybe the final solution doesn’t have to be, you know, the final solution. You know what I mean, okay?” Trump said to Bill O’Reilly before hanging up the phone. “That should get ‘em talking for a little bit.”

Donald Trump put his feet up on his enormous desk (it’s really huge. You wouldn’t believe how big it is, folks. It’s really something) and stared at a framed picture he had on his desk of Ivanka, his eyelids growing heavy until he was startled by the sound of cheeks flapping. Like a cauldron come to life. “You’re acting like a crook,” the voice growled.

“Get off the intercom, Chris, okay?” Trump responded and adjusted his body in his chair.

“You dare compare me to that thing?” the voice replied, seizing Trump. The 2016 Republican nominee’s eyes widened as he looked into the jowly face of the 1960, 1968, and 1972 Republican nominee, President Richard Nixon.

“Oh my god,” Trump said with near-admiration. “How did you get in here?”

“I’m a ghost, Donald. I went through the wall,” Nixon replied.

Donald nearly shook with fear. “Are you kidding me? People can go through walls? And I’m just now figuring this out? Oh, this is gonna be a disaster, folks. I’m tellin’ ya.”

“Pay attention to me, you ghoul!”

“I’m not a ghoul; I’m a ghost.”

“Whatever. The difference doesn’t matter to me. I prefer people who didn’t die, but that’s just me,” Trump said, each word slipping past his lips like a fish leaping out of a teacup filled with milk.

“Heed my words and heed them well, Donald Trump. If you don’t drop out of the election, you will be doomed to roam the world for all eternity – just as I am forced to do! You have wronged this country. As I did. This is my eternal punishment. You wouldn’t want to end up like me, would you?” Nixon droned.

Hardly paying attention to the ghost, Trump was picking blemishes out of his very expensive suit. “Look, can you just get out of here, okay? I’ve really got a big day tomorrow. It’ll be just fantastic. A big day. Huge.”

“Tonight, you will be visited by three American spirits. They will show you the error of your ways. Beware, Donald. Beware! Do not ruin my beloved party like this. Beware…” Nixon floated upwards, leaving Trump’s office like he left the White House: to the sky, baby.

“That was weird,” Trump said before calling Chris Christie over the intercom. “Chris, don’t let any more Nixon impersonators in my office again, okay? Very poor job. Sad!” He hung up before Christie could protest, putting his feet up on the desk again and picking up a piece of paper that was folded in half on his desk. Inside were chalky, purple scribblings that read:

“Knew poll Rezults!

Many peepul say Daddy winning 100% to meanie Hilllaree’s zerO!!! Yay Go Daddyy!!! 😀

Luv, Eric Trump!”

There was a drawing on the piece of paper, too, of Eric holding what appeared to be his father’s hand, though the hand was too small to really make out all that well.

“This is fantastic,” Trump said. “Really just tremendous news. I’m winning very bigly,” he continued, eyelids collapsing under the weight of impending slumber once again. “Very bigly…” Trump said, drifting off once again.

Trump’s shut-eye was disturbed once more, the sound of suggestive moaning emanating from behind Trump and stirring him rapidly.

“Not now, Ivanka!” Donald exclaimed, spinning one hundred and eighty degrees in his throne only to find Senator Bernie Sanders hunched over the windowsill with a piece of KFC chicken between his fingers. “What’s going on here?!”

“Oh,” Bernie said, putting the chicken down and cleansing himself with a brown napkin. “You’re awake! I found this dinner over in the corner of your office; I hope you don’t mind! It was delicious. Have you heard of that $5 Fill-Up they’re offering now? That’s a good deal, a good bargain! That’s what I call eating, Mr. Trump!”

“Bernie,” Trump began. “What the fuck are you doing in my office?”

“Mr. Trump!” Bernie shouted, with some chicken flakes on his cheek. “I! Am your conscience!”

Donald stared at Bernie blankly as a blanket of silence fell upon his lavish office before the two began laughing at one another.

“You called my bluff, Donald!”

“Right?” Trump chuckled. “We both know I don’t have that.”

“Right! I am the Ghost of Election Day Past!” Sanders proclaimed.

“Oh, seriously?” Trump said. “So Nixon wasn’t bullshitting me?”

“That’s right, Donald.”

Trump countered. “Why are you this ghost? Shouldn’t I be talking to Lincoln or Washington or something? I mean, come on Bernie, you’re not even dead. Don’t make me give you the nickname, Lyin’ Bernie!”

“They picked a very recent runner-up! From the primaries!”

“I’m like six feet away, Bernie, okay? Lower your voice, huh?” Donald said, massaging his leather head.

“You’re about to be thirty-nine years away, Donald! And considering inflation, that would put you in the-”

“Yeah, Bernie, I get it. I’m rich. Let’s just get this over with.”

Bernie paused. “But first! You’re not in the proper attire for holding my hand and time traveling, Mr. Trump! Here, put these on!” The runner-up for the 2016 Democratic nomination handed Trump a nightgown and cap, one of which had Bernie’s name written in Sharpie on the tag.

“Why do I have to wear these?”

“They’re more Scrooge-like, Donald.”

“More what like?”

“Oh, nothing!” Bernie said before clutching Trump’s newly dressed body and flying out the top window of Trump Tower all the way to April 7, 1977 at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

“Do you remember this?” Bernie asked.

Trump was staring at a blonde woman in a white dress who was walking by the duo, unaware of their presence. “Check out the rack on her,” Trump said, elbowing Bernie.

“Is that a no then?”

“Is what a no, Bernie?”

“The woman who just passed us, Donald, was your first wife, Ivana! This is the day! Of your wedding! You really don’t remember?” Sanders shouted in staccato.

“Whatever,” Trump said. “You should remember what I said. Keep. This. Quick! I don’t want this to take all night. I’ll be very disappointed, Bernie.” The two approached the front door of the church and peeked inside as the ceremonies unfolded.

“Don’t you remember how happy this day was for you, Donald? How joyous? You married your first love.”

Trump scoffed. “Ivana was not my first love. I’ll tell you that much. My first love? You wouldn’t know her. Nice girl. Very nice. So nice you wouldn’t believe it. Gosh she was nice, wasn’t she, folks?”

“It’s just me here-” Bernie was interrupted immediately.

“Nicest girl. Little brunette, but that’s okay. Not her fault, is it? Not at all. She couldn’t help it. Porked me in the back of a station wagon. Very nice girl. Tremendous girl. Love her. Just love her. The absolute best. Bit of a slut, but she can’t help it. Very nice. Let’s give her a round of applause.”

“Donald, please,” Bernie said. “We’re not at a rally! But if your wedding won’t get through to you, maybe this will.” Senator Sanders held onto Donald’s shoulder as he carried them both three years into the future. “Surely, you remember this.” The two were once again standing outside of Trump Tower which was festooned in a “Carter/Mondale 1980” poster.

“Oh, Carter!” Trump squealed and looked around the area with shifty eyes. “I mean, ugh…ew! Carter, blech! Gross! What a loser.”

“It’s okay, Donald. We’re in 1980. You were a democrat then.”

Trump breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank God.”

“So you do remember this night?”

“Of course I do, Bernie. It was a big night.”

“The night Carter lost.”

“Don’t remind me.”

“What’s the matter, Donald? I thought you loved Reagan!” Bernie yelled before bringing Trump to the window of his office once again. “Look inside.”

Donald Trump pressed his face to the glass and watched as his old self and Ivana and their first child, Donald Jr., sitting on a black leather couch watching a rather modest television screen. The building wouldn’t be open for another three years so it was just the three members of the Trump family, alone and peaceful and together. Playing on television was the news with the latest bulletin predicting a Carter loss in the 1980 election. Ivana was crying and Donald was consoling her. “Who knows?” he said. “I’m sure Reagan is a great guy. What’s important now is that we let Carter know how much his campaign meant to us. We don’t want to be sore losers. He lost fair and square. But he still tried his best. And that’s what counts. It’ll be okay, honey.”

Bernie Sanders was busy watching the face of 2016 Donald Trump and how he reacted to this. He noticed a single tear fall from The Donald’s eye. “Are you okay, Mr. Trump?” Bernie asked, surprisingly softly.

“Yeah,” Donald choked. “I’m alright. It’s just…that was one of the last nights when it was just the three of us. We really were happy for a while. A long while. A long, long time. And then everything got so muddled and corporate. But even though she’s crying…we were truly happy.”

Bernie put one hand on The Donald’s shoulder and prepared to arrive at the next and final (for Bernie) destination. As the two flew away from Trump Tower, circa 1980, the past Donald Trump could be heard faintly. “At least Reagan is still white.”

Bernie’s last location for Trump to visit was, again, Trump Tower, but this time it was in 1992 and the pair found themselves looking into the top floor’s window once more. A grouchy Donald Trump sat at his desk, pouting and stewing, days after George H. W. Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton. Sitting across from him was Ivana, who bore no tears. Yet.

“Look, Ivana. It’s nothing personal, but I think you’re a bad omen.”

“What do you mean?” Ivana asked with confusion.

“Well, I’ve had my suspicions. That’s why we got divorced. But I need to cut ties with you for good. The first election we’re married for? My guy loses. Second election. Another loss for me. Not good. Deplorable. I suspected some rigging, too. Then, I switch parties. And now? This uppity hotshot Bill Clinton beats H.W. I blame you, Ivana.”

“But Donald, we are divorced. And Bush won one election!” Ivana said.

The Donald nodded. “I know, but like I said, ‘for good.’ And also, I don’t care. I’m suing you for every penny you’ve got you goddamn lowlife. And I’m blaming it on the gag clause.”

“But Donald!” she pleaded.

“I won’t hear another word and if I did, I’d refuse to comprehend it.”

“You are not the man I married,” Ivana whispered meekly before reluctantly skulking out of his office. Bernie turned to the 2016 edition of The Donald, expecting more tears, but he was surprised.

“She handled that very poorly. She got what she deserved,” the new Donald said in sync with the old Donald. Only, the new Donald said it with more of an attempt to convince himself. Bernie frowned and returned Donald Trump to the present-day, too discouraged to say another word to the aspiring demagogue.

Donald Trump couldn’t fall asleep. Instead, he sat forward in his throne and tapped the desk with his fingers, awaiting the second ghost. Just as he was near to dozing off again, a rapping penetrated his office door. “Come in,” he said with very little energy.

The first part of the second ghost seen by Donald was the hand opening the door, a hand with a skin tone that was much darker than Bernie Sanders’s. Trump screamed. “Ah! A bla- I mean. Uhm, ah! Obama!”

“Yes, Donald, hello,” President Barack Obama greeted the businessman, ignoring his near Freudian slip of Song of the South proportions. “It’s me. The, uh…Ghost of Election Day Present.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Donald said. “Nixon promised only American ghosts.”

“Goddamn it, Donald! I am American!”

“I’m sorry, Barack, I really am. But you’ve gotta be careful, ya know? Gotta be careful. Can’t be too careful. The more careful you can be the better.”

“Yeah. Yup, sure, Donald.”

“Look, man. Between you and me,” Donald said, leaning close to the president. “I know you were born in the U.S. I just said that for some attention. And the people who believed it? Eh, it’s all they had. So I kept it going, okay? I kept it going.”

“I wish I had a tape recorder, Donald.”

“That’s not the first time I’ve heard that, Barack.”

President Barack Obama eyed Donald Trump up and down before remarking on his apparel. “Looks like Bernie got you all dressed up! He’s, uh…he’s a pro at this! Ready to go, then, Donald?”

“Yeah. Okay. But I’ll tell you what I told Crazy Bernie. Make it quick!”

The pair soared over New York City and looked at each other like they could burst into a goosebumps-inducing rendition of “A Whole New World” at any moment. Breaking eye contact first, Trump looked ahead at the city.

“It really is beautiful, you know,” Trump said to Obama. “I’ve always loved this city. All I wanted was for the city to love me back.”

“You were in Macy’s ads, Donald. Wasn’t that enough?”

“No. It wasn’t. I’m not sure anything is enough.”

Barack Obama’s glance lingered on Trump for a few seconds longer after Trump finished speaking until Obama looked ahead once again to prepare for landing at the Salisbury Hotel.

“Oh, don’t even tell me,” Trump said, recognizing the building.

“I’ve got a question, Donald. Why doesn’t, uh…Mike Pence stay in, uh…Trump Tower when he’s in New York?” Obama asked.

“Look, he’d just be so annoying and needy. And he’s nowhere near rich enough.”

Obama and Trump hovered outside the window of the Indiana governor’s hotel room and watched as he sobbed into a telephone. “I don’t know why I agreed to this!” Pence cried. “I don’t want to be his veep! I didn’t think he’d pick me! I just wanted people to know my name! No one ever knew who the fuck I was! It sucked. I offered him so much! I offered to make love to him! Oh, god, I’m just so disgusted with myself. What the hell happened? I thought he was going to pick, like, Ian Ziering or some shit. Never me! Oh, god, I’m not ready for this! He has to lose! He has to!”

Trump looked to Obama. “He’s pathetic. Spineless. I always thought so. Very sad.”

“Even the furthest right of the Republicans are nauseated by you Trump. I’m not even sure what group you appeal to exactly. People who spend all day on Reddit? I’m not sure. Your own veep, hates you,” Obama said.

“It really sounds like hates himself more.”

“He probably does. But that’s because he chose to stand by you.”

“Whatever,” Donald said, finding it hard to look away from the shell of the man in the hotel room who now had his pants around his ankles. “Lots of veep picks have been upset with their bosses before.”

“Not me and Joe! We made, uh…friendship bracelets,” Obama said.

“Yeah, okay, but you two are obviously an…exception,” Trump replied, picking his words carefully. This in itself was a new milestone for Trump.

“Well, then, let’s see some people you don’t consider exceptions. People who are preparing for the worst. They’re preparing for a Trump victory like it’s the apocalypse.”

Trump laughed. “The end is nigh!”

“Now, Donald,” Obama said. “You know I love a good Ragnarok joke. But this is serious business.” And so, Barack Obama made good on his promise to show Trump the wide array of people who were preparing for the worst possible outcome of Election Day. There were Syrian refugees who were trying desperately to accelerate the process of becoming legal citizens. The LGBT community questioned how marriage licenses could be upheld. Women over the age of fifty researched the cost of plastic surgery so as not to be placed on the future blacklist of their potential president. Black people, Asian people, Jewish people, Mexicans, Poles, and even the Swiss. Barack Obama showed them and their panic to Trump and he asked him, “So what do you think?”

Donald Trump was silent. It was like his campaign staff changed his Twitter password on him; he had nothing to say.

Obama nodded and spoke for him. “One more stop.” The impending lame duck president glided with style to Chappaqua, New York, bringing Donald Trump to the home of his political rival, Hillary Clinton. “Something to lighten your mood,” Obama said.

Trump peered in the living room window and saw Hillary and Bill running in circles throwing fistfuls of money at each other. The television screen showcased CNN, which was predicting a Clinton landslide, clearly the cause for the couple’s celebration. Before he could blink, Trump saw Bill chant something in a foreign language as he lit a match and burned the pile of dollars that accumulated by his ankles. Hillary laughed, yelled, “Watch this!” and threw a suitcase full of all different sorts of guns into the flames and cackled some more. Bill giggled through tears and said, “No, no! This!” as he removed the original Constitution of the United States from his back pocket and threw that into the fire, too. Barack Obama pulled Trump away from the window just as Hillary began forwarding the nuclear codes to her entire address book on GMail.

“It was just about to get good, Mr. President!”

Slightly taken aback by the referral of respect, Obama managed to gather himself. “I know, Donald. But our time together is up.” The President’s hair grew exponentially grayer over the course of the past hour. Almost as fast as how gray it became over his eight years in the White House.

“I knew that’s what they do when they’re alone,” Trump trailed off as President Barack Obama returned the mogul to his top floor office.

“Good night, Donald,” Obama said before fading away from Trump’s field of vision.

“It’s been nothing of the sort,” Trump said as he pulled his chair away from the desk. Before he even had the chance to sit down, his door swung open violently. “Ghost number three already?”

A hooded figure with a scythe charged into Trump’s office, causing the seventy-year-old to be so startled he fell onto the floor. “What do you want spirit?” Trump asked with genuine fear as he crawled backwards on all fours, cowering against the wall.

“I wantcha ta get yer factz right, Donny boy! HAHAhaahHaAHAahHah!” The ghost ripped his hood off, revealing Gary Busey to be beneath it. “Da Ghost of Chrissmuz Futuahh is da fourth speerit! DUH!”

“Good lord, you’re disgusting Gary,” Trump said, rising to his feet again. Gary simply wagged his tongue outside of his mouth. “Why aren’t any of these ghosts actually dead?”

“Lez goooo!!!!!” Gary Busey yelled, smashing through the glass of the window and plummeting down below with Donald Trump in tow. Just before the two connected with the concrete, the world shifted and they had truly entered the future.

“We’re in the future?” Trump asked, but Gary Busey did not answer. There was blood on the sidewalk and Trump glanced down to see the former Celebrity Apprentice contestant dead on the ground next to him. Then, he noticed someone was holding his nightgown from behind.

“Yes, we are. And I’m the actual Ghost of Election Day Future,” Matt Damon said to the confused Republican nominee.

“What about Gary?” Trump asked with uncertainty.

“Oh, him? He just jumped out the window with you. I had to catch you. His insanity had some pretty good timing even if he did think it was Christmas.”

“So he’s just dead,” Trump said to himself.

“Forget about him. Let’s see what happens to America if you win the presidency.” Matt Damon said, grabbing Trump’s shoulder and leading him around the corner of Trump Tower to reveal a bright orange painting of Trump with his arm outstretched. It was labeled, “WE LOVE TRUMP.” Matt Damon spoke not a word and simply escorted Donald Trump around New York City (newly renamed Trump York City), letting the dystopia speak for itself. (Or, maybe in Trump’s case, the utopia.)

Everything was Trump themed. Trumpin’ Donuts. The Trump York Trumps. Captain Trumperica: The Winter Trump. Trumpbarro’s. The Trumpway. The Trump York Yanktrumps. Madison Trump Garden. The Rockettes. Everything was Trump.

Perhaps the most jarring image was that the diversity mecca that was once New York now contained only the faces of smiling white men and smiling white women who were under the age of fifty. Trumpotrons of happiness levels across the country reflected this new racial whitening like it was invented by Crest.

The video screens reflected record levels of happiness, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Anything without Trump’s name on it was in disarray. Billy Joel’s concert sellout streak had ended. Children were eating rocks. Derek Jeter was dead. This was New York now. This was Trumperica.

“Take me back, Matt Damon! Take me back!” Trump said, unable to bear the silence anymore.

Matt Damon grinned. He finally learned his lesson, the star of The Bourne Identity thought to himself. And Good Will Hunting, too.

“Take me back, Matt Damon!” Trump continued to yell before he felt the air around him shift and he sat up with a start. He was back in his office at Trump Tower. “It’s not too late! There’s still time!” Donald Trump rushed to his window and flung it open, spotting Chris Christie holding the door open for a ragtag crew of homeless people. (Trump ignored this, but he kept a mental note of it.)

“You there! Christie!” Trump yelled. “What day is it?”

“Why, sir!” Chris Christie exclaimed. “It’s election day!”

“Oh, then, I haven’t missed it,” Trump said to himself before leaning back out of the window. “Do you know all those ads I made for Trump Steaks today during election coverage?”

“The Trump Steaks ads? Why, of course, sir!”

“Cancel them!” Trump yelled, pausing so he could spit on a man of Mexican heritage as he walked by. (Actually, news cameras recorded this and his polling numbers rose one percent after it was reported.)

“But why, sir?” Christie called back.

“I want you to replace them all with campaign ads! Every last one of them!” Trump hollered, throwing stacks of money worth millions of dollars out the window to the governor of New Jersey. “And there isn’t a minute to lose, governor!” Trump shuttered his window, confident that Christie had enough money to make his dreams a reality, especially when it felt so real after what Matt Damon showed him.

“Trumperica, here we come!”

By Dave Mello



I suppose she really shouldn’t have been sneaking around up there. It was, after all, not her house. But there was such an overwhelming allure to that attic. One day, she was walking past and she could have sworn there were voices coming from above. Why didn’t she tell anyone? Why because who would believe the word of a twelve year old girl? They would brush it off as one of her pretend games, as they always did.

To be fair, she did love to play pretend. Since birth she was shy and untalkative, preferring the silent company of her own thoughts over the petty conversations of reality. But the thoughts were not silent, they had voices and energy and stories to tell. To her, they were more real than the talk around her. And so, people simply grew accustomed to the clouds in her eyes.

Despite how colorful these thoughts were, life spent in one’s own head is undoubtedly lonely. With that loneliness came an insatiable curiosity.  Naturally, you’d often find this young girl buried in the pages of a book. She tended to prefer historical fiction; she was always trying to connect with the past.

The house itself was very connected with the past. It was owned by an old man who had been left alone when his wife died long ago. Since then he had dedicated himself to the town library, volunteering there and helping to improve its historical sections. He was a collector, and became one of the main proprietors of the library’s small historical museum. It was here that he met the girl, and he seemed to be the only one able to clear the fog from her eyes. She delighted in his many tales, and he delighted equally in sharing them with such an enthusiastic youth. The two soon became good friends, and so it was not uncommon that she visited his home.

The building had character, for sure. It was a fairly large colonial that overlooked the sea. The property included a large cluster of rocks jutting out of the ocean, fit for a young girl to climb upon. In fact, the passing boats frequenting the bay were quite used to seeing the figure of a small girl climbing upon these rocks. The interior of the house held just as much (if not more) intrigue as the exterior; it was filled with old paintings and model ships and all manner of antique trinket.

The attic was forbidden territory, which naturally made it irresistible to the girl. One day when the old man was out, the girl seized her opportunity.  She grabbed an old chair and dragged it into the hallway. Then, standing on the tips of her toes, her outstretched fingers just barely managed to take grasp of the thin cord dangling from the ceiling. With some effort, she pulled the cord down, which in turn opened up the trap door and revealed the folded ladder. A few moments later she was scrambling up the ladder and into the unknown.

It was unbearably hot. The girl suffered a coughing fit due to an unfortunate dust allergy. Despite the physical displeasures, the attic was everything the girl had dreamed it would be. In one corner, stacks and stacks of photo albums and film reels, complete with an old projector. In another, all manner of strange old dress, including what looked to be an authentic suit of armor. Many chests beckoned to the girl, waiting to be opened. She knew she shouldn’t be there, and so her heart was beating rapidly. She began timidly poking through the odd assortment of objects. After a minute or so, her eyes fell upon a shell.

It was a conch shell, and the most beautiful the girl had ever seen. It was ornately decorated with spires and spirals jutting out in magnificent defiance. The entrance was a soft pink, the lip forming a delicate, flowing labia. It was the size of a pigskin, and contained a wide palette of pastel purples, blues, and pearls. The girl let out a soft moan as she gently held it, fingers tracing the spirals and dancing at the entrance.

She squealed, nearly dropping the shell; there was a startling noise from downstairs. Without thinking, she hurried down the ladder, shell still in hand, and quickly closed the entrance to the attic. Upon inspection, it seemed the noise was merely the cat knocking the toaster off of the counter. Heart still racing, the girl opted out of risking another venture skyward.

Relaxing a little, she entered the parlor and took a seat upon the couch, the nice one that gobbled you up. As she sank into the plush cushions, she held the shell up to her ear, to hear the sea.

“Hello,” whispered the shell.

Startled once more, the girl dropped the shell into her lap. After a few minutes of thinking, the girl cautiously picked up the shell. She put her mouth to the entrance, and with her lips touching the shell she breathed, barely audibly, “Hello.”

“Who are you?” asked the shell.

“I am a girl,” said the girl. “Who are you?”

“I am the sea,” said the shell.

The sea sounded wary, but her voice had a kind of force behind it that demanded admiration. It was the voice of a young woman, perhaps thirty.

Frightened, the girl did not speak to the shell anymore. Instead, she tightly wrapped the shell in a dish towel, placed it in her bag, and returned home. The old man was used to coming home to find the young girl gone- she came and went as she pleased.

That night, when it was time to sleep, the girl carefully unwrapped the shell and brought it to her bed. She pulled the covers over her head and curled up with the shell.

“Hello?” she whispered.

“Hello darling,” said the woman.

There was a pause. And then, “Are you really the sea?”

“Why yes, I and many others,” the woman laughed.

“But how?” the girl inquired.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand the question,” said the sea.

“Were you ever a girl like me?”

Another pause. “Yes, there was a time,” the voice returned.

“What happened?”

“A tragically beautiful accident.”

That was that. The girl placed the shell on her bedside stand and drifted to sleep.

A week or two went by and the girl continued life as usual. It was the summer, so there was no school to attend, and the girl was not yet old enough to hold a job. Her parents were scarcely around, both having full time jobs. Their tiredness and apathy towards the quiet girl made them somewhat neglectful. They learned not to worry, because their daughter always made it home before dark. This is not to say that they didn’t love their only daughter, they simply rarely showed it.

She continued visiting the old man and exploring the rocks. It was turning out to be quite a dreary summer. Most days were cloudy and rainy, and the sky was a constant gray. The girl didn’t mind.

She always carried the shell with her, out of sight, wrapped up in her bag.  She took it out often, when no one was around, and spoke to it. The shell made a great companion, and acted as one of the girl’s only friends.

After some time, the girl found herself very attached to the voice inside the shell. One day:

“I love you,” whispered the girl into the shell.

“I love you too,” softly said the sea.

“I’d like to be with you.”

“I’d quite like that.”

The shell continued to speak, but the girl did not hear. She wrapped it up tightly and made her way to the old man’s house.

He was out, probably at the library, but she let herself in with the key under the flower pot. She placed the shell on the table of the parlor and left it there. She began slowly walking away, but stopped. She returned to the table, picked up the shell, and kissed it.

In a trance-like state, she left the house and continued down onto the rocks she knew so well. She was in a floral pattern dress, but entered the water anyhow. It was frigid.

Slowly, she waded into the water up to her chest. She bent her head down and tasted the salt of the water, letting the waves slowly carry her up and down. Closing her eyes, she lifted her feet off of the rocky bottom and began swimming. She kept swimming until she knew she could no longer make it back. The currents began drawing her further out. Tired, she struggled to stay afloat.

As her body gave out and plunged under the water, she took a deep breath. She found, curiously, that she could breathe. Not thinking anything of it, she let herself sink further and further down, taking deep breaths of the salty water and letting it fill her lungs. It was ecstasy. Looking up, she could see the surface of the water far above her. The gray light streamed through the clouds and danced in ringlets on the surface. A terrible peacefulness washed over her entire body. Darkness clouded the edges of her vision, and as she let the last air out of her lungs, all went black.

The old man was startled to find his shell on the table. You see, he had not spoken to the shell in many years. He had deemed it unhealthy. The shell spoke to him, too. It was the voice of his wife, whom he had lost to the sea when he was still a young man. He had never loved again, and he painfully longed to be with her once more.

Unable to resist, he approached the shell and tenderly picked it up.

“Hello, my love,” he whispered into it, his voice shaking.
“Hello darling,” said the young girl.


By Eric Watterson