Chalkboard of Consciousness by Yash Seyedbagheri     

They know only that you smoke pot. Terms like “addict,” “troubled,” and “stoner” are bandied about. Counselors are recommended. But you’re eighteen. Counselors are for fucked up, abandoned thirteen-year olds. Middle-aged lechers.

They cannot know what it means to smoke pot. They claimed they dabbled back in the day but had to grow up. Put childish things behind.

When you smoke, labels are wiped away by a feeling you call a chalkboard of consciousness. It’s like the idea of John Locke’s tabula rasa, but with a chalkboard hovering in your consciousness, wiped clear of waste and labels. It’s ready to be filled with something else, something of your own choosing.

Watch Your Weight by Joe Giordano

Skyrocketing numbers of obese Americans have triggered an epidemic of type-2 diabetes leading to deteriorating health for millions, so I’m supporting the legislative proposal to make wearing the newest Apple Watch obligatory. With bouquet-recognition and hand-motion monitoring, the timepiece’s diet mode automatically senses what you’re eating and the mouthfuls you’ve taken, alerting you when your permissible calorie threshold is approaching. Should you exceed your limit or, God forbid, someone tempts you by placing a crème brûlée within sniffing distance, the stage-one feedback response zaps your wrist with an electric shock.

When The Pendulum Swings Too Far by Jenny Butler

The group were weary. They had reached the deserted settlement, black-clad pilgrims comprised of masters, priests, prophets, messengers, and six big German Shepherds. The meaning of the place, Xtul, was “the end” in Yucatec Maya, which they had taken as a sign that they should settle there. At first it seemed desolate and without hope but they held out until they received a communication. Some among them believed beings had accompanied them along the journey but more important were the felt presences in this new land. The beings here were altogether unique, apparitions of translucent shapes, amorphous blobs that moved slowly and deliberately, others appearing jewelled and shining or human-sized billowing forms.

The Language of Birds by Gary Glass

The hermit thrush has an ethereal flutey call. It composes its serenades in a minor Dorian mode, structured around an ascending scale that concludes with a coy come-hithering, the phrase being repeated at various rather awkwardly connected pitches. Actually, like most birds, it has a variety of calls — even the “mute” swan, which sings like a crow eating a cricket. The so-called “trumpeter” swan sounds something like a hoarse goose. Many a purple poet has assayed to paint the hermit’s song in lyric:

 

gone beyond all going on beyond real gone

gone beyond all going on beyond real gone

gone beyond all going on beyond real gone

 

Lost and Oddly, Amused by Emil Black

Coming back from work that day, I had the obscure idea of playing with a thousand-sided dice.

“O-Oh, sorry, I’m busy over the weekends, kids are a handful. Maybe another time?”

“No, It’s fine. Another time then. Take care.”

A prolonged beep bounced around in my ear. After the call ended, I realized how small my contact list was. Falling back into the white sheets, I started at the ceiling. Rain trickled down the windows of the apartment, clicking with each touch. A dull ache ran through my arms and shoulders. Two tickets to a local amusement park sat slotted between my fingers. Using both seemed out of the question. A timid man stood inside the mall, advertising his tickets. It seemed that he wasn’t going to put them to use. Tangling with ticket reselling was never my thing, so the entire situation was more than dreamlike. I bought the tickets, of course, at less than market price. I was too delirious after work.

Indispensable by Tim Oke

‘And how long have you had the pain for?’ Annabel asked, going through Ultra-Health’s standard questions.

She had told Jess that she had started dreaming these questions, after just a month into her six-month contract with the medical insurance company. ‘Uh-huh, that’s cool,’ Jess had responded.

‘Four days or so,’ Mr Evans said over the phone.

Annabel put Jess’s lack of emotional engagement down to how her job at Ultra-Health was a temporary contract. She got that Jess didn’t want to get too invested. Annabel hoped that was about to change. She had an afternoon meeting scheduled with Simon, her manager.