Unlikely 2.0

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"Malibu" and "Linger"
by Melanie Browne, January 2011
"I crawled through a window in the kitchen and nearly fell on my ass but he had no dogs or animals of any kind. Nothing. I walked to the garage and unlocked it and crawled on the hood of the car just like Tawney Kitaen in a Whitesnake video. I didn't wear heels though, because of his new paint job. It was so luxurious. It was so naughty. I knew it was wrong. I was already planning to do it again."

Guerilla Warfare
by John Rachel, January 2011
"It was the same story all over Manhattan. From high rises everywhere, cats — usually Egyptian Maus, Angoras, various Siamese, Asheras, British Shorthairs, Persians, Russian Blues, Birmans and other exotic breeds typically owned by the rich and famous — were packing it in and committing suicide."

Don Juan of the Dead
by Martin Friel, January 2011
"She lay there still, naked, covered sparsely with fallen foliage. At first he wasn't sure if she was asleep but as he got closer it became clear that the figure that lay before him was dead. He looked around and seeing that he was quite alone, approached the body with caution, tentative steps at first and then more assured as he got nearer and the form took proper shape; definition creeping in."

Spider Hole
by Griselda Liz Muñoz, January 2011
"Sweetheart, not everyone was born to be a criminal. Shit, I was running circuits when I was nine. I had the older fuckers stealing for me when I was seven, eight years old, and even then I'd cheat them on their cut. Some of these little punks, man. I mean, if you can't steal cable, just do yourself a favor and get a nine to fiver. There are levels to criminal behavior that these little punks going around jacking these days don't understand."

an excerpt from Epigonesia
by Kane X. Faucher and Tom Bradley, January 2011
'"The Left died of boredom long ago. Fucking ennui-leftists sitting in their anarcafes with their café-style righteousness. Manifestotality, more like, and what's more"—another big gulp—"Your values are squat earthenware ideals in the squalid back-alley galleries of revolutionaries. Go forth and storm the next G8 only to buy the barricades back on eBay as nostalgia items, the great globotomy...balsam wood idols!'

Anniversary Card
by Kristen Hamelin Tracey, January 2011
"I don't like talking to authority figures, even a washed up sixty-year-old whose proudest moment in his entire life is still the time he went backstage at a Clapton concert, and who sometimes offers to sell me drugs. I shrugged and went like, Yeah I'm good, I just decided I'd rather devote my energies to schoolwork, which he took as a joke even though I meant it more as a believable lie."

"The Joy of Grey" and "Penguins"
by Eric Suhem, October 2010
"Alan toiled in Building #3 at Acme MegaCorp, Inc. He had a small gray cubicle, in which we worked on various invoices. Situated on his desk was a stapler, tape dispenser, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, papers, paperclips, inbox, outbox, and Kleenex box. Alan found the environment and the items on his desk, deeply exciting, not just enjoyable, but instead extremely stimulating..."

by Siti Asma, October 2010
'"A semi-lacy white tank top from Macy's. Tasteful, you know. Black yoga pants and peep-toe black shoes."
"Ahh. I'd totally rip that lacy shirt right off your foxy body."
"Uh, what?"

The Coolie's Recipe for Making Bread, Pt. 4
by Frankie Metro, October 2010
'There he stands, the Cousin, Napoleon the 4th's descendant and heir to the estate, of the Revolution. He is not pleased because his colony of Haiti is rubble. "I had planned to return and conquer. Damn their pact with the devil! I would have turned that place into a 3-dollar library, and charged for dildo sessions and water balloon tricks! How's your head feeling today my son?"'

Ghost Dance
by Rose McCann, October 2010
"Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, she reaches out to embrace her husband, but before her fingertips can caress the angry wound where the bullet blasted through his skull, she feels him recoil from her touch. He places the teacup on the nightstand. Then without warning, without saying goodbye, without delivering some ominous portent, he vanishes into the moonlight, and once again Batya finds that she is stranded here, alone in her bed."

by Dirk van Nouhuys, October 2010
"I was in prison just a few months ago during our tour in Mexico, in Guadalajara, where the doors swung shut like the bronze gates of Rodin. The Mexican authorities do not smile on public nudity."

Empty Orchestra
by Ben Nardolilli, May 2010
"If we had known our math better, instead of the usual counting off one, two, three, one two, three, we definitely would have succeeded better. Never believe the ads that come on the television and tell you that kids need instruments to be better at math, or that being good with music makes you better with all the higher functions beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Keyboards, flutes, oboes, guitars, cymbals, and gongs, none of it made my brother Campbell any better with math."

Fine Dead
by Ryan Meany, May 2010
'He was dead by twenty-two. Although his early end may be no surprise, its cause might be. He was not shot by the police and he did not overdose. He electrocuted himself connecting a generator during a hurricane. His mother adjusted the story. Her sister listened but was suspicious. "I guess," Mrs. Wyatt explained, weeping long distance, "he was worried for his roommates. It got so hot here when we lost power. I know he was no saint, Vicky, but deep down he was a good boy."'

Golden Opportunity
by Eric Sentell, May 2010
'After that, the room was very quiet for a very long time. I felt their eyes on me, on each other, on the floor, maneuvering so as not to confront the spectacle before them. Finally, Maria broke the silence ringing in my ears, her voice itself breaking here and there. "We named her Elizabeth. We call her Liz or Lizzy. And if you want pictures, of course we'll give you pictures. It never occurred to me to offer."'

The One
by Natasha Grinberg, May 2010
"Not a hair was amiss on his head, but other than that, his appearance was so indistinctive that in a year I'd be hard pressed to remember who he was. He looked like a company lifer, at the zenith of his slow but steady rise from a floor salesman to corporate functionary. I'd met scores of them. In the Soviet Union, he'd be a party or union boss at some organization the size of YourRooms."

Do Not Remove This Tag
by Tim Conley, April 2010
"No time at all before suspicion collapses onto those people down in the shabby trailers, but nobody wants to knock on their dirty doors let alone admit the worst to them. Besides, let's think rationally a moment, there's no way they could have gotten past all the locks on the door let alone clamber up all the stairs obstinate stair-detesting animal in tow without being detected."

by Melvin Sterne, April 2010
"There has been much speculation as to how Vijay keeps his composure. Some credit meditation. Others say that the secret is a strict vegetarian diet. One rumor concerned a silver flask with an exotic alcohol-and-opiate mixture. Yet another rumor—fuelled by a reporter for the Times—claimed that Vijay came from a long line of enlightened yogis, and he offered to help Vijay write a self-help book on the art of self-control. How to BE Like the Maître De."

Walking between Walls
by Tantra Bensko, April 2010
"The painting was old, but well dusted even in the attractive slight cracks. It seemed it had been painted over another scene, which showed through intriguingly in some areas which had been worn off a bit. The scene was of a city rising from the churning sea. There was froth around it spewing up, and in the froth, were stuck large chocolate dipped cherries as if in whipped cream."

Brian and Mona
by Jim Chaffee, April 2010
"She stood erect in a black, knee-length wrap-skirt, her hips a subtle curve. Black stiletto heels emphasized gentle swell of tanned, muscular calves. Braless beneath a white silk blouse buttoned only enough to expose a hint of cleavage, her breasts pointed at me like nippled pears. Long-waisted with a lithe frame, she embellished her charms with a precision that left everything and nothing to the imagination."

Algorithm of the Rain
by Jerry Ackerman, April 2010
"You see? The memories are still there. You just need to pluck them out of the air. To do that, you need the key. But it's not one key. There's a different key for each memory. You see, your brain's got an organ called the hippocampus and it's like a keyboard, and you have to know how to play it to remember anything. You have to know the songs. We have to learn to read the music. But you were never very musical. You couldn't carry a tune in a humvee if you had one."

from Ka
by Stephen MacLeod, March 2010
"And you know what the worst of it is? This is what women want from men. They like it when they act—act—that way toward each other. Men get points from women the more they can show they are snared in these acts. It's a sign that indicates to them that you are willing to do some pointless harm to yourself or some other man just to even get a girl to look at you. Imagine how you could manipulate someone as duped as that."

by Melanie Browne, March 2010
"It was one of those religious channels. He was speaking into the camera about how much better a chicken pot pie is when it is made with lard. How it had made such a difference in his life and how he told his friends about it, encouraging them to make chicken pot pies with a lard crust. His eyes were lit up in a sort of religious fervor and his animated hands were gesturing wildly."

Photo Op
by Michael Andreoni, March 2010
'A sense of fatalism enveloped him, as though he was mounted on rails and must go forward, despite long experience at predicting the wreck at journey's end. A sense of "might as well get this over with now so Margie and I can fight about it and get that over with, and then maybe life can go on."'

"Delinquent," "Creation," and "Could Have Been the Ocean, Could Have Been the Sea"
by Rich Ives, March 2010
"The instructor inside was offering free mistakes for signing up for the course. The distance between the surface and the deeper implications was on vacation or I might have overachieved. I never did figure out what the course was about, but then I never did take the course."

by John Kuligowski, March 2010
"First and foremost, this is not a story about your home, wherever that is. Secondly, America and Iraq are the same place. Now that you've taken in the preliminaries, the story can begin, but like a bad dream, one of those that seem to run on an eternal loop. That way you'll know the story like your left hand. Familiar terrain, you'll think. And that's a good thing. That's the nature of stories and bad dreams."

The Demotivational Speaker
by Mark Robinson, January 2010
'"Better yet, who missed the birth of their first child?" The small groups they cower before him while he smiles that bleached-teeth-smug-smile of the all powerful. When nobody seems brave enough to answer, he gives a little shrug to the disaffected and asks who of them have actually managed to fool another living individual into being with them long enough to convince them of a relationship, let alone conceive a child?'

The Healer
by Chuck Taylor, January 2010
"The healer was a woman in her seventies. She always kept her white hair covered with a handkerchief. Despite her age, she would stay up all night treating high school boys who had been injured in football games. She never asked for money but would accept gifts or cash. One time an older man—presumably a grandfather—left three chickens in a small coop."

Lake Waves
by Len Kuntz, January 2010
'He raised the knife. He felt stronger than he was—bold and forbidden and masculine. "Have a good dream," he said. He could be pensive and moody, theoretical as well. "Hell, it doesn't matter," he said, "your dreams are lake waves, you can't control them."'

How I Lived with Myself without Going into Remission
by George Sparling, January 2010
'I walked through the aisles, picking my standard meat, fish, veggies, dairy and canned goods. As if on autopilot, I heard both employees and customers say out loud the very words I spoke in my mind. "I didn't know my debit card wasn't valid," a man said, his baggy trousers identical to mine." "Tom Petty's 'I won't back down', how it won't quit, how I can't help it," said a woman, grasping a tomato against her ear.'

The Cholos
by Luis Rivas, December 2009
"The cholos stop in front of the laborers. The more talkative one says, "¿Que honda, páisa?" not speaking to any of the laborers in particular as he takes a gulp from the 40-ouncer, his eyes glossy and red, rhythmically tapping the side of his leg as if keeping the beat with some song in his head. The other cholo is quiet, constantly and aggressively biting the inside of his mouth."

by Adam Moorad, December 2009
"((I scrape along the road-line, side-walking.) My toes are tongues. I taste. I count. (Degrees. Minutes. Seconds.)) I read, twelve degrees, ten minutes and thirty seconds on a toothbrush billboard. ((I am in the city.) I have been there for thirty days, numbering problems from my slanted angles only.) I see buildings making cement tubes, turning sharply in different directions. There are hollow whispers."

Modern Smut
by Joel Van Noord, December 2009
"It's just, sometimes, no fault of anyone really, it's just that sometimes, perhaps because you were playing beach volleyball with the catering crew, but sometimes, and I suppose it's the bacteria's fault really, but if pressed I would have to say the bacteria is in there and well it's not really going to win the most floral smell award, unless of course it's one of the flowers that smells, like, well, rotting flesh..."

Musings of a Nature Documentary Enthusiast
by Marcelo Worsley, December 2009
"What, then, does the calf's suffering signify? Does the Mandrill ape enjoy freedom? Or should the cameraman have shot the beast? Perhaps our senses deceive us: animals are inanimate projections, immune to pain and emotion. The calf, the primate, are only symbols for the meek and the bestial. If so, Creation is an elaborate hoax that most of us will never understand, an allegory intended for the rabidly intelligent or the deranged..."

War, O Yes!
by Paul Kavanagh, December 2009
"Yesterday they hung cowards, traitors and the insane. During any War the number of insane goes through the roof. They hung the cowards, traitors and the insane from lampposts, shop signs, and traffic lights. They used shoelaces, cheese wires, skipping ropes. They lined them up and one by one hung them as though they were decorations. Not one complained, not one objected as being used as an ornament."

Staring at the Sun
by Hunter Stern, November 2009
"What if evolution reroutes instinct through the brain stem so that without confirmation based on a logical appraisal, desire remains just that, powerless and unfulfilled. The future mind would finally have an absolute veto over the heart, having evolved to distrust it after a million years of heartache. Seth, eyes welling with tears, but not from sadness, imagined a world filled with blinded groping figures navigating by smell, touch and sound."

Goldie's Lie Over: A Eulogy
by KJ Hannah Greenberg, November 2009
"Small, spangled creature, whose seas once flickered with sunlight and fins, why did you ever swim in my coke bottle only to arrive belly-up? Beyond normal snatches of comprehension, my mind can't grasp the meaning of your stone-like mass in my beverage holder."

Fanfare for a Soldier
by Randy Lowens, November 2009
'Some say that familiarity breeds contempt. Perhaps. The world at large saw John as The Psycho Vet, a man who was "still in Saigon", a snarling cur worthy of a wide berth if little else. He was unpopular, but he was feared. Contrary to this image, I came to know an old drunk who was hopelessly dependent on his "medication", a man who longed to be comforted by a God he feared to face. I came to know a bitter dreamer who was scorned in love, resentful, yet who imagined that romance lay just across the horizon.'

by Gabrielle Sierra, November 2009
"I must have nodded off just then, but when I woke up we were swaying back and forth by the back tables. My feet were at least five inches from the ground. She was warm but coated in a cool sweat and it felt like flying, like what it must feel like to go through clouds. No one else was dancing, and I wasn't sure if my arms were pinned to my sides or just heavy with booze."

A Few Lost Pages
by Jeremy Hight, November 2009
"I thought of the frozen guy for a second again. Those notes were more interesting than any of the crap I made the first few years after school before I got busy and he had them on burger wrappers. I took two classes alone on how to mount your little treasured crumbs properly and my great works had the equivalent value of a letter of his text on a box top."

Best Practices for Losers
by Jon Alan Carroll, November 2009
"He applied for a job as a gas station cashier, doesn't know why, the man asks, Why would someone with your experience want to be a cashier, Need a job, George said, but the guy said he needed somebody who wanted to be a cashier, someone with a passion for customer service, and old George started laughing, he knew it wasn't right, couldn't help it, so ridiculous, he used to supervise five men and now what—a passion for correct change?"