The Rattler (Daniel Young)
Billy passed back the joint, his mouth hot and dry, his brain expanding but feeling too many things at once, wanting more and more and more, but with a queasy sense that this might not go well at all, except—you never know—maybe it would. It was his Grindr profile bio that Billy had gone for, followed up with his rough directness, somehow detectable in his short sharp messages, a hint at what he might be like in bed. But it started with that bio: Let’s rattle this ghost town. Yes. Let’s. And so they did—except no, they didn’t, because this was a ghost town without even any fucking ghosts, so what was out there to be rattled? No, they just went back to his place and now they were smoking and soon they would get down to business and then that would be the end of it.
He went to get some water and stood at the sink, wondering what was out there beyond the dark window. That river, like slug guts, winding its way from nowhere to nowhere, dark, brown, turgid. They swept a body out of it last week, and the police helicopter hovered, chop-chop-chopping the air with apocalyptic dread until the body was found and the water police came to collect it—treasure, mother-load; or something else.
Mother-load. He crept back towards the bed, swaying hilariously (or at least precariously), ready to see what this rattler was all about. Let’s rattle this ghost town. Rattle me. Rattle me. Outside, the dark streets rolled up and down across the city, and the river snaked its way somewhere amongst it, and only the possums were there to look out over the not-so-neat row of wheelie bins, ready to be picked up, rattled about, and emptied into hungry garbage trucks, adding to the stinking loads fermenting in the belly of the beast. He was ready now. Rattle me, he begged. Rattle me.
Daniel Young is a reader, writer, editor, and software developer living in Brisbane. He has had short stories and flash fiction published in Hello Mr. Magazine, Mascara Literary Review, Bukker Tillibul, Seizure, Cuttings Journal, Verity La, Bide Magazine, The Suburban Review, and antiTHESIS journal.