MTL




BOBBY’S BRAIN
It was KaryAnn who saw Bobby’s brain first. She let out this little scream from the back of the room and I thought Len had put his tongue in her ear again. The rest of us were up front where we were supposed to be, listening to the short, doughy coroner describe the different ways that drugs and alcohol were going to kill us, and passing around a manila folder full of autopsy photos. 
HARVEST
Every morning I let Cass out to walk among the silos. She blinks when I unbolt the blast door and heave it up, revealing a bright circle of sky. Even in the bitter sleet of winter, she blinks, wonder lighting her sallow face from within. 
END TIMES
Elli wouldn’t let me stop until we’d crossed the line into Utah. She was a nail in the passenger seat—rigid, sharp, her blue eyes darting back and forth between the speedometer and the double yellow lines. Dry rivers of makeup connected her eyes to her chin. Leon lay where I’d put him across the backseat.
GOD FINDS ALL PIRATES
Manuel de Castillo stood on the plank looking down at the calm, steel green water thirty feet below and cursing. Fucking pirate whores. Fucking ocean. His hands were bound. They’d stripped him and chopped off his hair. Fucking idiot boy he’d been to ever leave Mellaria.
PREY
I wake from a dream knowing that someone, or something, is in my bed. All the muscles in my arms and back are rigid. I roll over. A single, lidless eye gleams on the pillow beside me, milk chocolate brown with an elliptical black pupil—swollen now in the near dark. It’s Voldemort, smiling with her long, double-hinged jaws.
THE LAST FRONTIER
Cole stared at the counter. The spoon wasn’t where he’d left it. Gray light washed through the window, bringing out the blue patterns in the Formica. It wasn’t raining, but it would start again soon. “The Pacific Northwest is like a drain,” his wife used to say. “Water from the whole continent flows in and swirls around.”
THE DANCING BEAR
First, she was the sound of a breaking branch. A splintered knucklecrack shattering the quiet of these western Montana woods. It is a heavy quiet here, and no good comes when it is broken. Red men, gunslingers, and all manner of gold-crazy down-and-outs plague this wild country. My heart went to scampering.
IN THE TIME OF APPLE MAGGOTS
A large white sign stands resolutely against the hot summer wind. WARNING, it reads in red square bureaucratic letters, and then, on the next line, APPLE MAGGOT QUARANTINE ZONE. A myriad of smaller type pocked with bullet holes flashes by. “Here we go,” Deacon says in the forced tones of a man prepared to accept the unacceptable.