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Marcus Speh

from Thank You For Your Sperm



Recitation by Author

Above my head, the swallows flew. High up in the air they were picking their food out of the wind. Down here, I felt poetic in my chair. I spilled sounds, small sounds, to honor the swallows above my head, which was so full of stuff. I felt as if my mind was a prison and I was stuck in a cell with a bunch of faceless bad guys who were my own children but they didnít know it. Slowly, I wrote myself out of this cage. I saw what the birds were doing: they ignored everything around them except the breeze and the bugs. Their freedom came at the price of ignorance. Thatís all it was, being a bird, I thought. I made swallow sounds or what I thought would be the sounds Iíd make if I were a swallow, when suddenly a red-headed woman appeared by the door, asking for a gentleman to accompany her to the gate. I got up and joined her. None of the other dickless dolts had even moved. They had no manners or breeding. The woman took my hand. I avoided looking at her. We walked for a bit since the gate was far off, and she asked me if I thought she was gorgeous and I said of course. She said I should come with her, leave this place, but I refused. ďAre you a coward,Ē she asked. I said that I was a coward indeed, but an expert with the pen, which did not seem to impress her. I didnít tell her how deeply a terrible weakness for ginger haired people ran in our family, how fortunes had been lost only because of a red beard, a freckled shoulder of exquisite paleness, or a pink nipple. Instead I left her at the gatehouse and returned to my swallows, which were still circling high above us, looking down at the bald spot walking away from the red dot. I spat cherry pits, scarlet-colored pits, to honor the ginger woman inside my head. I sat down again and felt poetic in my chair. I put the pen on the paper and slowly wrote myself out of my cage.



Recitation by Author

The child sits at the lake shore and everything is happening around him. Not some things, all things, all the time and at the same time. He puts out his tongue in the sun under the clear blue sky.


My tongue feels funny against the sky. I touch the sand and the sand touches me back. The water calls me. It is nice though it is cold. I step into the waves. The water runs into my shoes. Now mummy screams at me. But I like the water in my shoes. It tickles my toes. Mummy cries. She hasn’t got fresh pants. She hasn’t got a towel, she says. I smile at her. She stops crying and hugs me. I hug her, too, but I want to get back to the water. Mummy doesn’t let me. She pulls of my shoes and my pants and says play in the sand, not in the water. It is cold. I know, mummy. I know the water is cold. I like when it tickles my toes in my shoes but now I don’t have shoes. I don’t have pants either.

The sand is warm. I lick the sand and take it in my mouth. Now I make funny noises with my teeth. Listen, mummy. She doesn’t listen. She strokes our dog, Pantan, and whispers good dog, good dog, good doggie. I like mummy’s voice when she whispers. The dog moans. He doesnt talk much either. Two grown-ups and a kid are having a picnic. The kid smells good. I go to them and throw some of the warm sand, and I moan like Pantan. Suddenly, mummy stands over me again and yanks me away — He didn’t mean it, I am sorry, he is autistic, he is, he isn’t, he is, he doesn’t, he can’t. He doesn’t talk but he understands everything you tell him. Sure I do. But they don’t. They don’t understand anything. The people look at me like they look at Pantan. I moan some more. They talk to mummy. I want to get away now. I want my pants and my shoes back. I put my tongue in my mouth. Nobody is talking anymore. Pantan runs off.

I love you mummy and I understand everything. I count the sand in my mouth. I am calm now. I love you mummy, don’t think I don’t love you because I don’t say it. Listen, mummy, I can count grains with my tongue. Listen to that.


The Passage

Recitation by Author

Johnson had found a way to store energy in its purest form. His invention looked like a regular sugar cube. He didnít know what to do with it so he put the cube in the trunk of his car. Then his friend Jamieís truck collided with a cow on Main Street and he had to bring Jamie to the hospital and forgot all about it. When he returned to his car, the cube of pure energy had been taken.


Little Billy had looked around for something to play with. He saw Johnson’s car, noticed that the trunk was open, saw the cube, thought it was a piece of sugar that would come in handy later when Mary Jane would try to force her watery tea on him and took it.

Later when he was bored, he threw the cube on the ground, tried to bite a piece off and then put it in his pocket again after realising that it wasn’t sugar at all. However, he thought it pretty in a candy-like way.

In truth, the cube of pure energy was more useless than a piece of chalk or wood – you couldn't draw with it on the pavement, and it wouldn’t burn. For it to do anything you had to be near a black hole of zero energy. Then the cube worked like a doorway to any parallel universe that happened to be connected to it at the time. There was no way of telling which universe you’d reach this way.

Now, you probably think either that these black holes don't exist or that if they exist, they can only be found in faraway galaxies at the edge of our universe. If this is how you see it, you have listened too much to scientists or priests. For both scientists and priests, the real fun stuff is usually a long way off in space or time, and normal people who are not scientists or priests can only hope to get a glance of the magic by paying scientists or priests who then tell them about it in a manner that is hard to understand.

But nothing could be further from the truth. We are literally surrounded by little black holes. Most of them are smaller than the smallest speck of dust, so tiny in fact, that you can hardly see them. They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them.

You see, without Johnson’s cube of pure energy, nobody would have ever been able to use these mini black holes. Little Billy didn’t have a clue but when he walked down the road away from Johnson’s car towards Mary Jane’s house to throw some stones at her cats, he walked willy-nilly through one of these holes, and since he had the cube in his pocket, the doorway opened and – woosh! – he was transported to another realm.

Funnily enough, he didnt even notice anything, because the parallel universe on the other side of the tiny black hole was in almost every respect like our world.

Except in two ways: it did not contain a cube of pure energy (which had been annihilated during the transit through the black hole) and Little Billy had undergone a profound transformation: suddenly, he didn’t want to throw stones at Mary Jane’s cats anymore, or run after Derek the village idiot shouting

                     Dumb Derek,

                                dumb as a doorbell,

                                           diddledy doddledy,

                                                      Dumb Derek!

Instead, he felt like drawing something and making something beautiful, with colors and pens or with paper, or with anything at all as long as it was going to be beautiful. Because, in this other world, Billy, age nine and the naughtiest rascal as far as his mother was concerned, wanted to be an artist, though he didnt quite know it yet.


Elsewhere, Johnson rubbed his forehead trying to remember how he made that cube of pure energy, but he couldnít remember at all. So he went home and thought of something else nobody had ever thought of before.




Marcus Speh is a German writer who lives in Berlin and writes in English. His short fiction has been published in elimae, kill author, PANK and elsewhere. First published in 2009 at Metazen, his work has been nominated for a Micro Award, two Pushcart Prizes, two Best of the Net awards and two Million Writers Awards, and was longlisted for the Paris Literary Prize. Known as a staunch supporter of penguin rights and maitre d' of the legendary DADA venue Kaffe in Katmandu, he blogs in English at and in German, too, at MadHat Press will release Marcus' collection of short fiction, Thank You For Your Sperm, later this year. Contact author.

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