I’ve produced the third in a series of Rambo vignettes entitled “Ambush” and am shopping it around. The 1,360-word fictional piece is set in a dystopian near-future in which regional wars fought by both human and alien mercenaries abound.
… the Rambos are the meanest, orneriest, most despicable form of life in the galaxy. They fight for Black Scorpion, Limited. Unlike the human mercenaries they fight alongside with, the Rambos fight for one reason and one reason only—for blood sport. Money don’t mean shit to them.”
“Do they speak English?” a soldier asked.
“They speak better English than you, Janson.”
A few chuckled.
“Most of them are multilingual. I met one that spoke sixteen different Earth languages. They’re smart mothers. They’re big. And they’re afraid of nothing. If they kill you, they’ll take your scalps or your thumbs for souvenirs. The good news is, they bleed and die just like us. So, make sure they die first.”
After a moment, someone said, “If you call that yellow puke they have in ’em blood…”
This is a time of much division. Families and communities are splintered by polarizing narratives. Outrage surrounds geopolitical discourse—so much so that anxiety often becomes a sort of white noise, making it increasingly difficult to trigger intense, acute anger. The effect can be desensitizing, like driving 60 miles per hour and losing hold of the reality that a minor error could result in instant death.
One thing that apparently still has the power to infuriate people, though, is how many spaces should be used after a period at the end of an English sentence.
Keith’s opus possesses shades of Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, and aNew Yorker cartoon for extraterrestrials. Let Us Now Speak of Extinction is eerily addicting. ––Jo Maeder
Michael C. Keith’s short pieces seem relatively benign at first, but wait a moment and you feel the snap of his literary whip. Keith subverts things with a smile––like putting a dagger in the back of the iconic Jack Kerouac by posing whether his girlfriend was a better writer than this Beat patriarch. He brings an amused eye to our inevitable demise, our strutting and posturing before the black void. Keith is a writer who can shake your hand or use a well-appointed whoopee cushion to blow the hot air out from where the sun don’t shine. He keeps you honest. He keeps you thinking. He keeps you reading. –– Doug Holder