100 WORD SKITTLE // Once Upon a Lent

God spake to me in a dream. “Arise, my son. Hasten thee to the kitchen!”

I arose. I did hasten me to the kitchen. At the fridge I did pray, “What now, Lord?”

“Bratwursts be Satan’s handiwork. Thou must cleanst thine abode of these sin sausages via fasting and supplication! And maybe a bin.”

But I ateth my filleth of them—did it matter anyway how evil be conquered? Still, I did fell to the floor in bloat and faint.

“Forgive me, Lord! Save me from your wrath! (And excess pounds…) I only did this in your Name after all!”

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2022

numen mentis

there’s whale song lilting in my brain
e’er beyond a distant shore
away from the fever dreams i
had circumnavigated
to be with you

in stoic avoidance i’d
edged between foam and dune
got shipwrecked in lieu of belonging
and realised this place was ne’er home
nor bullion of promises meant for me

was it e’er only me
this resolve i had to follow you

had it e’er been the face of god
that mine hands held out to enfold

there’s waters swelling o’er that shore
nigh on the embankment of my brain
and the whale song serenade
decrying happy e’er once upons
i finally see that i was satan all along

and ‘tween these flashes of meaning i
espy twin trails o’er bleary sands
one forged with longing, the other you
anchored away from expectation
the fading proof of our story

had i e’er only been
this resolve straining for you

was it e’er truly the face of god
or mine hands beheld to the prints of darkness

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021

SCHEHERAZADE’S 1,001 BYTES // Where Does Bender Come In?

Satan is an accountant, and he’s having a spectacularly bad day.

It begins with Hitler calling him at three that morning. He’s in a tizzy about the shit he still owes the tax collectors that are banging down his door. Ever since his bid to take on Bunnings with an Aryan-branded homewares empire fell completely apart, he’s been bothering Satan with this cloying non-issue and that, and at any time of the day or night. What an irritating man-shaped dick he is.

Still, death and taxes cannot be avoided. Hitler lives under the delusion that they can, which Satan can’t help but sigh at. He should be sound asleep right now, but instead he’s sat in an office rummaging through a daunting mess of documents. Satan will have to drive a coach-and-four through it all, otherwise Hitler will drive him to an early grave—and not even bother ordering an orchestra along the way.

So… legalities and loopholes. These are what Satan will have to correctly identify if Hitler is to stand a chance. It also occurs to Satan that he’ll need a second pair of eyes to pick up any details he may himself overlook. He glances at his watch. He’s been here for bloody hours and it’s only finally hit seven. It’s probably safe to give Cthulhu a shake by now surely? Well, screw it. He’ll do it anyway.

Cthulhu’s still laid out on their queen-sized bed. He’s stretching, luxuriating, scratching a lazy left heel with his right. Upon seeing his boyfriend’s head pop through the doorway, Cthulhu demands coffee and be quick about it. Satan turns his back before daring to scowl, and by the time he gets to the kitchen he’s cussing silently. He has no intention of starting another row. Last night’s blazing ruckus had been more than enough. Jesus.

He brews up the coffee, strong and black—it’s like a pot of hot tar. Still fuming, Satan wonders what in hell has happened to them. Where have he and Cthulhu gone wrong? They had used to be so happy together but lately Cthulhu has been… well, openly hostile. Anything Satan says has been an excuse for much eye-rolling and melodramatic yanking of tentacles. Cthulhu’s not one to hide how he feels.

Something else Satan doesn’t understand is why he had to go and offer Hitler his accounting services. What had he been thinking? That would-be führer is so pathetic he couldn’t even sell magic condoms to sex addicts. How had Satan let these pugnacious idiots enter his peace of mind and fuck with it? Everything had been normal before they came along and shat in his life sandwich.

He places a tiny, fragile coffee cup on a tray, then next to it adjusts a black rose in a small, porcelain vase. He adds the morning paper to this idyllic still life and takes a step back to admire his handiwork. Satisfied, he picks up the tray, takes a couple of steps forward, and is soon re-entering the bedroom. It’s beyond ludicrous that Satan’s slovenly boyfriend refuses to do even this much. The sight of Cthulhu reclining on satin sheets like that—shamelessly naked as you please—makes Satan want to puke. He could at least cover up his many chthonian naughty bits!

“You heard the rumours, Satti?”

Christ on a pogo stick. That fucking nickname again. Fucking ‘Satti’?! Satan would love to call Cthulhu ‘Fatty’ but he knows better. He’d never get away with it—Cthulhu would see to that. The pouting alone would be unbearable. Even the clinically dead don’t have the necessary fortitude to outlast that shit. Fine. Might as well play along with this tiresome attempt at conversation.

“No. Pray, do tell.”

Cthulhu shoots him ‘the look’. “You’re being sarcastic.”

I can’t imagine why you’d think that,” sniffs Satan, making space on the vanity for the tray. He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He looks like hell, and not in a good way.

“Bender and his meat sack Fry moved in together.”

Satan tries to recall their faces. Who are they, and why he should give a rat’s patootie about another pair of freaks? “And?”

Cthulhu doesn’t like this response. He picks up the tray and throws the whole damn lot at him. “Yeah?!” he screams. “Well, screw you, flame boy! You can shove that pitchfork tail up your own arse!”

Satan beats a hasty retreat. May as well go outside and catch a bit of fresh air. He’s been up since the middle of the night after all and deserves something far less stressful. And the weather is lovely, so that’s a good start. There’s the aroma of freshly baked croissants from the small bakery across the street too. So devilishly good! Satan takes a coat and hat, and strides out into the street with purpose.

That turns out to be a mistake. Satan is striding so purposefully that he unwittingly steps into a puddle. And, naturally, he trips. The ‘fallen one’ has truly earned his name, faceplanting on the sidewalk next to a fresh dog turd. (Small mercies!)

Goddamn arse tits!”

Satan is unaware if he’s saying this due to the pain of sharply connecting with concrete or relief at having avoided a jobbie facial. It’s all an emotional muddle really, and there’s blood pouring out of his nose too. It splats in copious, black gobs on the sidewalk.

“Never mind the onlookers,” he tells himself. “Walk on!”

So, Satan raises himself up, dusts himself off, and walks—bloodied nose in hand. When a black cat crosses his path, he starts to giggle like he’s lost his mind. A black cat? Seriously?! But at that very moment his face distorts—and not with laughter. He clutches at his chest and collapses.

And you know what? He goes straight to Heaven. So maybe the day hasn’t been so spectacularly bad as thought.

Well… he is a nice guy after all. It’s just bad luck he has THAT name.

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020