I woke up, from a nap, on a bus I did not remember boarding. It was daylight. My neck was stiff. I looked out the window. The surroundings were unfamiliar. The foliage was unfamiliar, trees and plants I had never seen before. The signs on the shops were in a foreign language. One shop had a painting of a man in an apron chasing a pig with a meat cleaver. The man had a crazed look in his eyes. The pig was wearing sunglasses. The sign said “Klenstarfig.” The bus driver called to me. In a thick accent he said, “Sir, you tell me alert you as we approach your stop. Your stop is next one.” I sat up straight and looked around, at the empty seat next to me and the rack above. I didn’t seem to have any luggage or personal effects, only what I was wearing. “Is your stop,” the driver said. I thanked him and got off.
Across the road from the bus stop was a large red brick building with a sign that read “Klenstarfig Pustali Zintro.” This must be where I was headed. I walked across the street to the building. I was stopped by a guard. “Nimo?” he asked. I guessed that meant name, so I told him mine. He checked his clipboard and when he found my name he waved me in. I entered the building. A man in an apron said, “Nimo?”
“Peter Cherches,” I said. He handed me a pair of overalls.
“Yes,” I said.
“Apron come later,” he said.
I looked around. There were no pigs in sight.
“Where are the pigs?” I asked the man.
He started laughing, a bellowing belly laugh. “War peeg! War peeg, he say!” He pointed toward a door and said, “You!”
I walked through the door. There was a cubicle with my name on it. I saw a computer on the desk. I changed into my overalls and logged in. A message popped up on the screen: Valku, Peter Cherches.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I was back on familiar ground.
Called “one of the innovators of the short short story” by Publishers Weekly, Peter Cherches has published six volumes of fiction and nonfiction since 2013. His writing has also appeared in scores of magazines, anthologies and websites, including Harper’s, Bomb, Semiotext(e), and Fiction International, as well as Billy Collins’ Poetry 180 website and anthology. His latest book is Things (Bamboo Dart Press, 2023). He is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and boycotts all journals that charge submission fees. Peter recommends the Jazz Foundation of America.