Friday, May 27, 2011

New Short Fiction: Gray

A part of an ongoing mosaic of short fiction on aliens, conspiracies, intelligence, and intrigue I've been publishing a bi-weekly serial of stories over at Geek Girl on the Street. All of the stories will be reposted a few weeks later on this site (as this post is evidence of) and may eventually be compiled into a single story collection. Expect updates.

Originally published on April 29, 2011


by Mark Pantoja

“Nah, mister. It ain’t like that.”

“Really? Then what’re you doing out here?”

“I dunno,” he pulled his jacket tight. His eyes flashed, taking a glance of the tall dude. He shrugged. “My dad died when I was young. My mom, she’s got my sister and her baby. It was tough back home. It just made sense for me to leave. Easy on everyone.” A drag off the cigarette he bummed from dude. “I don’t really do curfews.”


The kid took a look around. The streets were filling with the bars closing in a few minutes. The dude kept trying to catch the kid’s eye, but he avoided, giving a shy smile. He knew to play coy, make himself visible to the guys who liked boys.

“I ain’t going to suck your dick.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said: ‘I’m not sucking your dick.”

The dude gave a chuckle. “I haven’t asked you to do anything.”


The dude shrugged. “Was gunna ask if you wanted to hang.”

“I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

“You came over, thought you’d pick up some street ass.”

The dude smiled, his eyes catching a glint. “It ain’t like that.”

“Oh, yeah? You pick up some street kid at two in the morning to hang out innocently?”

The dude stood there in his jeans and P-coat, smoking. He dropped his cigarette, stamped it out, turned, and walked away.

The kid watched for a second. He glanced back, and saw his buddies half a block down, huddled in a dark doorway.

“That’s littering,” he said to the dude’s back.


“Yeah, man. Where do you think it goes? City by the Bay. It all washes out to sea.”

“There some kind of fine?”

“Not if I don’t tell.”

“What’s stopping you?”

The kid shrugged. “I mean, I like doing favors. Just, you know, I’m not into doing any weird shit.”

The tall man turned back halfway. “I’m just looking to have some fun. I’m buying. You can come if you want, leave when you want.” He started walking up South Van Ness. The kid motioned to the shadows, careful the dude wasn’t watching, and started to follow.

They stopped outside a corner store and the dude asked him what he wanted.





“What? What’s wrong with gin?”

“Nothing. That’s what you want, fine. Gin.”

He came out a few minutes later with a brown paper bag.

They started walking again.

“What’s your name, kid?”


“Just curious.”


The dude stopped in front of a metal gate next to a German sausage house.

“Mario, I’m Jacob.”

He unlocked the gate which opened onto two doors. Jacob opened the door on the left, the ground floor apartment. They walked down a narrow hallway opening into a large living room. Jacob picked up a remote and flipped on the stereo, playing moody instrumental music.

“Who’s this?” Mario asked, nodding at the stereo.

“The Clogs.”

“Never heard of ‘em.”

Jacob walked out of the living room. Mario took a look around. Books, art, warmth. Money. That’s what this guy had.

The dude came back into the living room with two glasses of ice and started fixing drinks.

Mario slipped off his army jacket, making sure Jacob got a view of his lithe form.

Jacob turned his back, pouring gin.

The kid slid up against him, rubbing his leg on Jacob’s thigh. The dude pushed off. “Hey, uh, here, have a drink.” He held a glass between them.

Mario gave him a hard stare before accepting the drink. What the fuck? he thought. Isn’t this why he brought him back here?

“Lived here long?”

“A while.”

“Whatchu do?”





Mario took a sip, fidgeting in the silence between them.

“You mind if I go out front to smoke?”

“Go ahead — just ring the doorbell, I’ll buzz you in.”

He grabbed a lighter and cigarettes from his jacket, while Jacob stood at the end of the hall and buzzed him out.

Mario lit a cigarette.

“Boris, you there?” he whispered.

“We’re here,” answered Boris, another street kid Mario ran with. He stepped out of the dark along with a thin girl.

“He in there?” Boris asked.

“Yeah. And he’s got tons of shit.”

“Cool. We’ll follow you in.”

Mario took a deep drag.

“Are we going to do this or what?” asked Hilly. She slipped out a duct taped zip gun she stole off some gutter punks. Boris tried to take it from her once, but changed his mind when she cocked it between his balls.

Mario turned, rang the doorbell, and opened the buzzing door.

Jacob was waiting for him at the end of the hall.

“Perfect timing. I wanted to show you something—”

He saw the three of them and froze. Hilly aimed her zip gun.

“Don’t fucking move, cocksucker!”

“Well, howdy mister,” said Boris. “We heard you’re having a party, and we’re glad we could make it. Now, back up into the living room.”

Jacob raised his hands and took a cautious step back as he hit the light switch, dropping them in darkness.


“Hilly!” Boris screamed.

“I didn’t—I—!” She protested.

Mario saw movement at the far end of the hall, Jacob back lit from the living room. Boris pushed past into the living room.

“Where the fuck is he?” he yelled.

Mario found the light switch.

“You got him,” he said to Hilly. The hallway was spattered with blood. A door off the hallway was open, and Jacob was gone.

“Shit, I didn’t, I mean, I, it just went off.”

Boris ran back and saw the open door.

He snatched the gun out of Hilly’s hand. She didn’t try protest.

“Come on.”

“Boris, let’s just go!”

“Are you stupid, man? He knows you. He knows your name, he knows what we look like. We need to finish this.”

They entered the hallway door.

It opened into a garage and they could see from the hall light a blood trailing into the dark. Mario continued fumbling for a light.

They could hear someone gasping.

Hilly fished out a pen light and they saw Jacob, bleeding from his neck, leaning against a thick legged work table. He was trying to say something.

“Jesus, Hill,” said Boris. “You fucked him up good.”

Mario found the light switch and flicked it.

“Oh, my…”

The work table held an aquarium, where a gray clawed hand floated. The fingers were too long and the palm was big enough to cradle a basketball. Wires spilled from the wrist and out of the aquarium and ran across the floor, snaking up legs and walls to other work tables and cages, where they ran into more severed limbs. Eyes floated in jars; a tongue twitched on a plate; a row of bloody torsos sat along the wall; a nose sniffed in its birdcage; all were connected by wires and tubes, to pumps, computers, and bags of fluid. The room was filled with gore, a butcher’s kitchen, but it was clean. Five, maybe ten people were dismembered in this room. Dismembered, but all connected to the hand.

“What? The? Fuck?”

Jacob, gasped and gurgled, reaching out to the trio.

Hilly ran.

“Let’s go,” Boris said, in a trance.

Mario watched Jacob struggle and choke.

“Mario!” Boris called from down the hall.

They ran and ran.

Mario held his chest, water soaking his shirt and running down his pants, as he cradled the gray hand against his skin.

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