Size / / /


The Doolittle Machine, sadly, made very little
difference to pet owners. We found out that
dogs liked food and walks, and cats sneered
at our pathetic need for feline love.
But then some genius realised the potential
of the machine for the eradication of those
animals, not cute and cuddly, but creepy crawly.
The Negotiators whispered into the miniscule
minds of the tiny pests, a poke here,
a prod there, a suggestion that eternal rest
would be best for all involved. The slugs
were easy to convince, depressingly so.
Nobody would forget the hideous aftermath,
the days of the sickening silver slick that
stretched out to the sea, where the sad
little creatures committed their soft bodies to the salt.
Gardeners rejoiced in perfect cabbages.
The honeybees were safe and smug,
the slaters all curled up and died, and
then we turned our attention skyward
and slowly the mosquitoes succumbed,
eeking out their last moments at high frequency
before their last kamikaze flight into the
hypnotic blue lights of the bug zappers
we had provided for the purpose of ending
their tiny lives with a click and a crackle.
Then we tried the cockroaches. And to
our dismay, no approach seemed to work.
The Negotiators pleaded in the face of
improbable but boundless positivity.
Come on ‘roaches, how can you be
so happy, you with your bellies to the floor,
your scuttling life in darkness?
Their reply came whispered,
a night wind through dry grass.
We've heard you talking all these years
as you take out your irrational fears
on our children, our families. We
forgive you. For you say, over and
over, that we can't be gotten rid of—
we're as good as immortal, and when you
finally go and rip your own cities apart
with the energy seething at the heart
of an atom, we will still be here!
You told us it was so.
And some Negotiators tore their headsets
off and wept, but others sat heads bowed,
listening to the curious beauty of the sound
of a million voices raised in chirping chorus:

We survive! We survive! We survive!

Sarah Shirley is a doctor working in Hamilton, New Zealand. She lives with her husband, their two young children, and a large brown dog. Her poems have been published in Star*Line, Abyss and Apex, Pedestal, Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, Takahe, Atlas, and elsewhere.
Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
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