read the fucking manual

first time users
don’t know what they’re doing
fidgeting fingers over knobs
pressing red buttons
yanking their cranks
inserting things in slots
they can’t comprehend
the message on the screen
it says: ‘you’re too shitty for this shit’
so they take a baseball bat
and make a few essential modifications
last time users

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2022

PERFECTION IN ACTION // Snot Block

I sank my teeth into his regal nose.

It had the taste and consistency of the finest Brie. I thought it could pair nicely with a glass of Chardonnay but was too lazy to disengage and drag my carcass to the wine cellar. I’d sooner dangle from his face like an annoying tick with a Napoleon Complex.

I bit down a little more. The sweet and sour taste of compote with white asparagus began to ooze all over my tongue. Was this coming from his nasal cavities? If so, then this royal drop was better than any musty old wine!

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2022

GUEST POST // The Long Term by Mark Renney

The world is broken; in all the ways we predicted it would be. It cannot be repaired; it is far too late for that now. But at least you can take a break, as long as you have the funds of course. You can check into one of the Long Term Hotels. These are easily distinguished from the others with their high fences and the twenty-four hour security guards patrolling the perimeter.

When I was a kid, I used to think that they were homes for the elderly. Whenever I spotted the residents out on their balconies or lounging in the gardens, to my young eyes they did appear to be old and decrepit. When I learned the truth, that these people were the wealthiest in our society, the monied elite, I was appalled. It seemed obscene to me that they were living amidst us in the lap of luxury, flaunting their success and good fortune in our very faces from behind the high fences with the armed guards protecting them from the rabble outside.

Now I am the one on the other side of the fence, gazing out. I am the old man on the balcony and I remember my younger self and how slowly I came to realise that most people didn’t share in my outrage and were much more accepting of the hotels. They argued that they were ‘good for the City’ and created jobs, not just for the construction industry but also the hotel staff and the security details. And businesses and local shops benefited and flourished, all because of the Long Term Hotels.

I ranted and raged and they stared back at me, incredulous.

‘Why is it so wrong?’ they asked. ‘If they can afford it, why shouldn’t they check in? Who wouldn’t? Wouldn’t you? Isn’t it what we all want, isn’t it the dream? To be comfortable and to be safe?’

I remember how I answered, what I said and I believed it way back then. And I still do.

by MARK RENNEY
© All rights reserved 2022

simple things

something that holds
and something that’s held
are united in a slow spin
our eyes say we’ll never let go

something that whispers
and something that’s whispered to
are united in a slow dance
our feet say we’ll never walk away

something that loves
and something that’s loved on
are united in a slow reveal
our hearts say we’ll never hide amour

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2022

ABSURDIS EXTREME // Case Study #1952 [13/09/1985] by B.A. Loney

This is the story of a portly Italian plumber who had a flair for acrobatics that was as impressive as his moustache. By the way, his name was not Mario for obvious copyright infringement reasons (so please don’t sue us, Nintendo!).

Every day, after a hard shift full of leaking pipes, clogged toilets and unnervingly sentient toadstools, not-Mario would visit the famous not-Bab-omb Bar that isn’t in Dinohattan. And he wasn’t getting drunk before blue snots with his portly moustachioed colleagues who may or may not have been called Luigi, Waluigi and Wario. Not at all. He was proudly taking to the stage to pole dance in front of all the not-Mushroom Kingdom folk, wearing high-heeled lacquered boots and spritely shined bustier, and his moustache powdered in pink and gold.

He was like Freddy Mercury up there, strutting the length of the stage and back again, and even somehow strutting up and down the pole. Even wall jumping where there were no walls with loud wahoos. How could he do this? He was not-Mario, that’s how! And for some bonus gold coins, he’d satisfy some of the kinkier clientele in the audience with dominating butt stomps to their faces. All this while doffing his bright red cap and racking up a bonus number of 1-ups!

The cheering and applause was off the hook. Everyone tried to touch not-Mario’s moustache for good luck and domestic bliss and whatever else they could think of. Some folks in the audience also thought that if they put one of his moustache hairs in their wallet, this would bring them riches beyond imagining. Maybe even protect them from not-at-all copyright infringing pests such as Piranha Pants, Cry Guys and wayward warp pipes. After all, it was a dangerous world out there and they needed all the luck they could get!

Not-Mario tried to retreat backstage as the audience began to swarm over him like a zombie horde, but to no avail. One particularly aggressive not-Koopa groupie swiped his moustache off with a well-aimed swipe and held it above her head like a trophy. Like a woollen jumper being unravelled by a loose thread, not-Mario’s pixels began to come apart. Is this what it was like to die with no continues? Why? The injustice!

He opened his mouth to cry out to the Miyamoto God but nothing came forth—and nothing downloaded from the Cloud to save him. All not-Mario’s pixels just sparked out of existence, and the only thing to indicate that he was ever there was a static-filled ‘Game Over’. His colleagues wailed mightily, tearing their clothes in an unrestrained display of grief. Their pole dancing queen was no more—and the most skilled plumber in the city by the way. Since then, not-Dinohattan sank in grief and shit. Amen.

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2022