Volume Three = Three Themes

June 22, 2010

Why settle for two issues of Collective Fallout per year when you can have three?  Volume Three will do just that with a triumvirate of themed issues!

Number 1 will be released in November 2010 (well, closer to late October) with a Gothic theme—focused on horror, mystery, and related genres.  The submission period for this issue will be July 1 – September 15, 2010.

Number 2 will be released in March 2011 with a Fantastic theme—focused on fantasy, magical realism, and related genres.  The submission period for this issue will be November 1, 2010 – January 15, 2011.

Number 3 will be released in July 2011 with a Futuristic theme—focused on science fiction, alternate history, and related genres.  The submission period for this issue will be March 1 – May 15, 2011.

Our requirements for submissions otherwise remain the same—and each issue will continue to include surrealist and metaphysical works as appropriate to the themes.  Above all, Collective Fallout remains a Queer publication—all literature and art submitted must contain strong queer elements in addition to the theme requirements.

from “When the Village is Already Taken” by Nathan Sims

June 14, 2010


Dyson was once again aware of the crowded streets, and his boyfriend’s hand still in his, and now his hot breath on his neck.  He pulled away.

“Why are you so nervous?” Avery asked. “I think you can handle a bunch of drag queens, Wain.  I mean, you’ve slain dragons after all.”

“Just the one.”

“And that’s still one more dragon than most people have even seen.”

“Keep it down, please?” Dyson whispered, eyeing the others standing nearby waiting for the light to change. “I don’t want the entire city knowing what I do.”

“I think it’s cool.”

“Well, most people don’t feel the same.  They would freak if they found out fairies existed.”

“Yeah, well, being imprisoned by a witch with a penchant for human sacrifice tends to put things in perspective.” Avery winked then added, “Not to mention the dwarves.”

Dyson glared at Avery trying to quiet him.

“What’s got you so worked up?” his boyfriend asked.  “Is this because of the drag show?  You act like you’ve never been to one before.”

Dyson didn’t reply but stood silently waiting for the light to turn.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw Avery studying him.

The reporter’s eyes grew wide. “Wain, you have been to a drag show before, haven’t you?”

After a pause, Dyson replied, “It’s not that big a –”

“Oh my god!” Avery exclaimed. “You’ve been sucking dick how long now and you’ve never been to a drag show?”

“Sh!” Dyson snapped.

A loud cackling startled him.  Standing behind them was a gaggle of young men dressed for a night out clubbing.  They looked at Dyson, laughing.

“Please!” he pleaded with Avery between gritted teeth. “Don’t make a big deal out of this.”

“How is it not a big deal?  Drag shows are a rite of passage for gay men.”

“That’s right, guuurl!” one member of the group commented. “It’s time you pop that cherry!”  His friends chortled as the light turned and they crossed the street.

Dyson glared at Avery.  “Thanks.  A lot,” he said as he stepped off the curb and followed behind the boys.

“Wain, wait up!” Avery chased after him. “So some twinks laugh at you, what’s the big deal?”

Dyson didn’t reply but groaned as he watched the group of “twinks” pull out their IDs and cover charge, offering them to the bouncer at the club’s door.  He moved into line behind them.

As the final one’s hand was stamped, he flashed a smile in Dyson’s direction and announced to the bouncer, “Be sure to check this one’s ID reeeeal good.  He may not look it, but word is:  he’s young enough to be a virgin!”  Gales of laughter from his friends welcomed the young man inside.  Dyson felt a rush of heat flood his face as snickers sounded from the line behind him.

“Uh, here you go,” Avery said, pulling the cover charge from his wallet along with his ID.  He took Dyson’s ID and offered it to the smirking bouncer.

The man’s smile brightened as he read Avery’s driver’s license.  “Mr. Cooper, they’ve been waiting for you.”  He handed the cover charge back along with their IDs and said, “Tyrone should be at the bar.”

“See, isn’t it nice having V.I.P. status?” Avery commented, doing his best to ease the tension between them.

Dyson considered telling Avery exactly where he could shove his V.I.P. status.  Even if he had, though, it wouldn’t have been heard above the noise bombarding them as they stepped inside the club.  The music was deafening.

They stopped in front of the dance floor splashed in roving colored lights.  Twin lit glass bars stood on either side of the club.  Avery studied the crowd for a moment then signaled Dyson to the bar on the right.  He approached a middle-aged bald man dressed in a black shirt and slacks talking to the bartender.  Dyson guessed this must be Tyrone.  Before there was a chance for introductions however the man kissed Avery on either cheek and whisked him away to meet the other judges.  Dyson watched in horror as his boyfriend abandoned him, casually promising he’d return soon.

“What’ll it be?” the bartender asked.  His t-shirt was tight enough to display his areolas.  His cut-off shorts dared Dyson to guess his heritage.

Dyson ordered a beer and drank off half of it as he scanned the room nervously, watching the crowd form.  He hadn’t been entirely truthful with Avery.  This wasn’t just Dyson’s first drag show.  This was his first time in a gay club.  Ever.

from “Rabbits” by Matthew Jordan Schmidt

June 8, 2010


When Nevil came back from the lake that day I waited for him. I waited for three hours, not knowing that he had already disappeared in the darkness somewhere between the water’s edge and the wooden cabin we’d been living in for ten years. The night had been a still one, unbroken by word or rustle, and I’d sat by the window and watched, waited, tried to remember his face as I always did when we were apart, having no idea that this idle game of mine was to become a permanent way of life, this game of imagining him as he had been, as we had been. Even now, were I still able to, I would go to that mirror and search out his face inside of it, or place my hand upon the railing leading up to the bedroom—our bedroom—to feel the vanished warmth of his hand.

But I, too, am gone, and now someone else will feel the fading warmth of Nevil’s hand. Someone else will stare in the mirror and catch a glimpse of his face. What they will see will be confusing, probably nothing more than that blurred haze that memory engenders when it is at its most feverish and fluid. It flickers like a candle and then vanishes. But there are cinders. Always ashes that we crunch through as we come back down the stairs and see where he left his sneakers, in the nook by the door; or when we open an umbrella to step out into the rain and see the stains where his own black umbrella once dripped, pellet by pellet, into the sandy wood that we varnished ourselves in the back shed.

I combed the entire property for five days before calling the police. And then another five after the police had left. I took the dogs and tried to sniff him out. I took a flashlight and shone my beam on the places where we had laughed together. I cried in the bough of the tree where he’d come to tell me his mother had died. I sat on the swing and remembered Carrie’s visit all those years ago. Carrie with the pigtails and the ideals. Carrie with the dreams. I had never wanted Nevil’s children to be a part of our lives. I wish now that I had thought differently.

The water was still after Nevil disappeared. It refused to give me what it had given before. When I put my feet into it, I shivered with discomfort. When I took the boat out, I seemed to get nowhere; the far shore was an ocean away. Even when the leaves twirled down and got snuggled up in my swirling strokes, their crimson spirals offered me no solace. They only bled into the sediments below and lay still.

I have done the same.

I wonder if Nevil ever understood my eyes: the way they carried fog in them like an hourglass does coloured sand. I wonder if he knew about my pills, or the violence I executed in secret. That summer when we found the rabbit strung up in the tree, our eyes met in silence and the last grains tumbled down through the bauble’s glass neck. I blinked and flipped the hourglass over. Nevil did too. We buried the rabbit and stuck a cross made of poplar stems into the earth above its eyeless head. One of the dogs barked and tried to dig up the sad little victim. We ignored her, lit a fire and got drunk.

Summer Sale!

June 8, 2010

Use coupon code SUMMERREAD305 at checkout and receive 10% off past issues of Collective Fallout. Maximum savings with this promotion is $10. You can only use the code once per account, and you can’t use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. Sorry, self-purchases (buying books that you’ve published) aren’t eligible. This great offer ends on June 30, 2010 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely, Lulu does reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course they cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so.

from “The Badge” by Jeremy Garrett

June 1, 2010


Scouts in rain slicked ponchos lined up on the hill.  As the bugle played the stars and stripes were folded into a tight triangle.  The chaplain spoke, and a few of the boys wrung their hands through his prayer.

Inside the mess hall a troop of scouts claimed the table in the shadows of stuffed deer heads.  Untouched food steamed on their trays as they regaled each other with hunting stories earned with their fathers.  Sam was the head boy at the table, and as a Life Scout going on Eagle he was full of the experience the younger scouts admired.  At one scout’s request he unfolded a photo from his wallet to show off his trophy kill of an elk’s head and antlers mounted above his bed.  His grin lessened with every telling of the story.  “Dad had taken his shot and missed,” Sam said.  “The elk came straight at me.  I stood and I faced him and I shot a bullet through his neck.”

After dinner the boys waited out the rain on the porch of the lodge.  Relaxed in his rocking chair, Sam was surrounded by scouts with stories less bloody than his.  A scrawny kid boasted of a wrestling win over a Goliath outside of his weight class, and another boy claimed to have survived for weeks alone in the woods.  There was one scout, however, who told stories that were not his own.

Andy McClure sat in the rocker to Sam’s right, and each day after dinner he would read the scouts passages from the horror novels he’d brought with him to camp.  Pale, precocious, and respected for his intimidating silences, Andy McClure lured all the boys in with his monotone drawl.  Today’s reading was of a Louisiana swamp cult’s deadly bacchanal.  The boys cringed at Andy’s depictions of breasts and blood, and in the time it took to read the passage the bookish kid was the most popular of the scouts.

Sam welcomed those moments when the spotlight was off him, when he was saved from retelling the story of the time he’d shot the deer.  Last night Andy had paced around the campfire recounting the tale of an escaped gorilla stalking a woman through a dark city alley.  At the climax of the story Andy had startled them all by taking hold of a younger scout and shaking the boy by his shoulders.  Sam was almost jealous of the contact.  He didn’t really know what it was to be scared.

Andy’s tale of swamp cannibals went unheard by the group of scoutmasters smoking in the corner of the porch.  Sam listened beyond Andy’s reading to catch pieces of their conversation.  “There’s nothing we can do about it,” said one scoutmaster, taking a languid drag from his cigarette.  “The land’s their property and they can do what they want.  But I dare one of them to step into this camp.”

The breeze sent tendrils of smoke spiraling towards the boys.  Though cigarettes were forbidden to them, the adults’ example placed the unhealthy practice in high esteem.  Scouts smuggled cigarettes into the camp, and each summer more and more boys were initiated into the cult of tobacco.  Sam had a pack of American Spirits in his tent.  He craved their feel in his lungs, and the contentment of holding one in his fingers.  He stood

from the rocker and pulled on his poncho.  “I’m braving the rain,” he told the boys.

Andy marked his place in his book.  “If you’re going back to camp I’ll join you.”

Camp Crooked Creak was shaped like a horseshoe around the dead end tributary of a river.  The rain lessened as the boys walked, and the camp spread out before them in all of its rain soaked glory.  On the three-mile trail to Campsite 12 they passed the craft hut, canteen, sports field, and archery range.  They stripped away their ponchos when the sun poked out from the clouds.  Closer to camp there were boys fishing from a peer, where the lake gave off the steam of a quenched inferno.

The campground was empty.  Inside Sam’s tent they sat cross-legged on opposite cots.  Rainwater dripped from the trees onto the tent, and the vibrations sent daddy long-legs scurrying across the canvas ceiling.  Sam stretched out his legs and lit them both a cigarette.  “There’s something the adults aren’t telling us,” he said.

“I know what it is,” said Andy, choking on his first drag.  “I can show you.”