Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep


Posted by Fiss on June 17, 2018

By Christopher Brummet


“Well, Joe, I’ve got some good news. And I’ve got some bad news.”

“Seems like news always does that,” Joe McDunn said, not daring to look down at the folded newspaper. Even as he handed over his dollar-twenty-five for the special weekend edition, he could see the titular headline announcing that the votes were in. “It’s decided then.”

“Sure is,” the newsstand owner nodded back in the dim morning night. “Everyone will know in an hour or so. You’re probably the first who has a copy in their hands.”

“Thanks, I’d better head back,” Joe said, looking towards his home instead of the headlines. “Think I’ll read it in front of the family. They deserve to know when I do.” It sounded noble when he said it like that, anyway.

“Here,” the owner said, handing him a rolled up poster. “For the resistance,” he winked. “Just in case.”

Joe nodded, then began walking, newspaper tucked under one arm, poster in the other. He wondered what his wife and daughters would say. Good or bad, at least they would have the news at last.

Almost a year ago, June 20th, 2021 “The Event” happened. It had been a beautiful summer Sunday in Newfoundland, Canada, and families everywhere were celebrating Father’s Day. Dads, Granddads, Uncles, Mentors, Father-Figures and all manner of household patriarchs were being honoured for their quintessential Dad-ness as had been tradition for decades. The Event occurred quite by accident, though. A large percentage of Dads started telling jokes at around the same time.

The wave of Dadjokes crept across Canada as the Earth rotated. Quips, bad word-play, silly innuendo…all was showcased in this amazing moment of Fatherly Synergy all across the nation. But, as their collective punchlines, puns and verbal punishment all culminated to fruition in the span of a single heartbeat, a collective groan roared across the province. Moms, Kids, Partners, and all manner of family and friends promptly reacted to the Greatest Dadjoke Wave ever, and produced a power far more destructive than even the worst Dadjoke on its own.

“The Event” had begun in the East. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Short Stories

Parts Unknown

Posted by Fiss on June 8, 2018


I took a walk through this beautiful world
Felt the cool rain on my shoulders
I took a walk through this beautiful world
I felt the rain getting colder

It became a ritual for me. Every weekend I would head to the liquor store, obtain a bottle of Jack Daniels, and set my torrent program to seek out the bytes needed to assemble the latest episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.

I would drink deeply and with abandon as I traveled to a new place to experience the peoples, the cultures, the food and the art of that particular location. Sometimes it would be in an exotic endangered green pocket of a rain forest, or the war-torn streets of civilization’s raggedy edge. Maybe the heights of Russian hospitality, or the street food of Hong-Kong or the urban gardens of Chicago. I would wake up hung over and sad that my little ritual was over, but rarely did I forget the journey, even if I wondered once in a while where my pants were.  I cried a few times, cheered often, and found myself daydreaming endlessly of putting knobby tyres on my motorcycle, cashing out of the rat-race, and finding and endless trail of little pit-stops as I zipped to and fro across the world.

Anthony Bourdain took thousands of us with him as he travelled, as he learned, as he became family and friends with a host of peoples most of us could only remember as Wikipedia articles or headlines in the news. I’d like to think we were light luggage, as evident with the obvious joy and (sometimes gallows) humour he shared with us. He was a storyteller of the highest calibre, fuelled by curiosity in what seemed a perfect combination.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Colapost

The Wall

Posted by Fiss on June 18, 2017

The Wall


“Mother, why do you believe in magic?”


I remember, while growing up, thinking how silly it seemed that mother would place a saucer bowl out for the pixies, and whisper a prayer thrice while tossing a pinch of salt over her shoulder whenever she needed some extra luck.  Ours was an age and a kingdom of reason, though superstitions seemed to be growing every year and an acceptance of magic became almost commonplace.  Finally at the age where my curiosity and frustration could no longer be held in check by mere politeness, I asked her outright.

She blushed deeply, turning her normally rosy pink cheeks a more crimson shade as she did.  “The Wall, honey.  Everyone believes in magic since the Wall appeared.”

“What wall?” I huffed.  I had heard of this ‘wall‘ whispered of before, but every time I asked for clarity, I was met with blushes and giggles and all manner of infuriating silence.  More often than not, I heard the words my mother then said to me:

“I’ll tell you when you’re older, honey.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Short Stories

The Impossible Hunt

Posted by Fiss on April 15, 2017

The Impossible Hunt


Drone Commander Aima of the great Patchu War-Beetle lay conscious in his nesting pillows, unable to obtain regeneration-rest for several moons now. Voices that were not his own began to creep into his conscious thoughts. Shadows that were cast by inert objects suddenly became…human-shaped…in his fevered mind’s eye. Still, he tried to rest, until he startled back to full alertness, gasping and wheezing with the imagined cold steel of a human blade at his nerve-stem.

“I hate this world…” he murmured to himself.

Twisting his eye-stalks to the viewing porthole by his nest, he saw the great blue-and-white sphere they orbited. The native species…humans…had called the world Earth. He hated Earth. Commander Aima hated the Earth more than anything…except for That Human.


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Short Stories

Santa’s Gotta Die

Posted by Fiss on July 10, 2016

695The last three people I murdered each thanked me.

I used to like being thanked by those who had made their peace with it all. They seemed to get why my office is more like an office and less like a prison cell. Made me feel like I was performing a mercy when we talked. Not everyone thanked me, but the anomalous streak of late has made me sick just thinking about it.

A knock at the door. It normally startles me, but I suppose I’m beyond caring now. Some lingering sense of professional pride forces me to hide the bottle of whiskey I have been sipping at for breakfast, and when I key in the codes and open the door I try to breathe shallow to hide my vice. Two armed guards and the warden are standing behind the door, flanking a man gagged and bound to a wheelchair.

“Good morning, Doctor Crane,” the warden says firmly, offering me the briefest of shamed glances and a clip-board to sign. “Prisoner Dennis Newton shall now be transferred into your possession to carry out his sentence for the murder of three peace officers.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Short Stories


Posted by Fiss on May 5, 2016

I learned a lot about myself in Fort McMurray.alta-wildfire-fort-mcmurray-evacuation-20160503-topix

Around two decades ago, I lived in the boom/bust oilsands town during the awkward formative years of smart-assed kid and post-puberty cringe-meltdown. I got to see alcohol and drugs claim a lot of lives and sanity there, and near the end of my time in the city I suppose I had formed an association between a kind of salvation and getting the hell out…something many of my friends had discovered as well.

Up until about a week ago, before wildfires tore through the town, forced the total evacuation of eighty-or-so-thousand residents, and devoured hundred of buildings…my biggest regret would have been not to have been the one to light the shithole on fire myself.

But reality has this way of calling you out on your bullshit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Manifestoes

Too Damn Loud

Posted by Fiss on January 1, 2016

There’s a romantic notion put forth by television and movies that the roar of a waterfall or a dammed river provides a kind of meditative quality when our protagonists witness it.2016-01-01_1-37-46

Perhaps they’ll spend a moment to meditate under the crashing whitewater, becoming as still and as permanent as one of the riverbed stones it normally dashes upon; or that after stepping through, or travelling alongside, the audio guy fixes for the noise and you hear the passing and bubbling of a trillion buckets of sweet-water as a calming hum or hiss. But to anyone who has stood next to such a calamity, I suspect this illusion is a distant fantasy as the roar digs into your brain and pulls reason from your skull.

We like to romanticize these forces of nature, as if we had some kind of supernatural authority over them in post-editing. Maybe we do, to an extent, even in our own memories. The ringing of church bells stings like a wasp should you stand too close, but the sting turns sweet upon reflection. The concert you wish you brought ear-plugs to, the roar of engines unleashed on a proper bit of tarmac, or the whoosh of the jet sitting outside your window as you climb into the great beyond: all of these seem like lesser, prettier versions of themselves when you look back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Manifestoes

Poppy seeds can be used to make opium

Posted by Fiss on November 11, 2015

Monotone bugs me. Like nails on a chalkboard or fillings on tin foil, I can’t handle the idea that tradition has to be recited with one, rambling tone.Victory_bonds_poster

I remember growing up with the occasional Remembrance Day assembly in class, depending if the 11th fell upon a school day or weekend there was a great variety in the level of participation required of us. The day would usually go something like this:

We would all shuffle into the gymnasium with our bright red (and green…at the time) poppies stabbed into our shirts and someone would fire-up the coal-electric overhead projector with a sheet containing the lyrics to “Flanders Fields” (I swear every Canadian child has heard of John McCrae) and as one semi-mumbling blob, would recite the words, then try our best not to incur the wrath of our teachers by standing still and silent for a minute once the 11th occurred.

It would be silly to assume we didn’t understand the gravitas of the day, but it always bugged me that, for the most part, it was more about poppies and poems, silence and sombreness, reciting and reading…but very few of us had anything to remember. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Manifestoes

The Daddening

Posted by Fiss on June 23, 2015

VKaFqwCThese are the days where it feels like herding cats would be easy;

like all you have is a group of wildebeests and a narrow path through a china shop and they expect you to smile as you drive the throng into the greased up isle with nothing but a bullhorn and a shoehorn. It tests your mettle and blunts the blades of the knives and swords and Swiss Army implements you never thought you’d need to grow and never though you’d have, but somehow it never seems like you have enough. It ends up being that the most powerful doomsday bomb in your arsenal is just to get through the day, knowing that the self-prescribed reward is on the other side of it all. They say it’s bad for you, like they do to all the things in the world that make the world worth livin’ for, and deep down you agree; but it’s either that or another vice that lines up to take the edge off of the naivety that you signed up for this willingly. You slithered down the isle with all that mattered pushing you forward, making promises of the white picket fence and the whitewall radial swing hanging from a chunk of proud oak, or maybe it was birch, you don’t quite recall after two years of diapers and five years of sleeping lighter than your wallet. And when you do stand at the bar with the fellows you recognize as other soldiers in this war, you joke about all those dreams with them and inevitably there will be one that gazes down at you through that thousand-yard-stare and manages a pity laugh before asking in that knowing, rhetorical way: “Why didn’t you choose Poplar?” like anything else you’ve built out of those dreams is just waiting for the final lighting bolt to put it out of its misery. And as you trudge away from that damning bit of friendly assistance to head to ballet practice or soccer or was it baseball this week, the missus lets you know she’s sick and it could be the kind that leads to babies and for a moment you have faith stronger than the pope simply because you know the devil isn’t that cruel and God’s sense of humour is par for that kind of joke. And maybe there’s a few moments you pass out and gather your wits long enough to hit REM for a cycle or two, but they wake you up with demands for a bedtime story and you wonder if you had a chance if you’d sock Doctor Seuss right in the mouth or embrace him in a hug because at least the little buggers listen to his rhymes. Two fish, blue fish later, though, and they give you your dose for the day; that damning drug that puts cocaine to shame and: “Thanks, Dad.”

Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so bad, and herding cats seems like a lot of extra work in comparison.

Studio Shinnyo 2015.  Khattam-Shud, EOF.


Posted under Poetry

The Ambient Mass of Meaning

Posted by Fiss on January 1, 2015

Higgs-BosonFiction is defined in part or in whole as something made up by the author, but we are always told to write what we know, to research and experience, and to get inside the heads of our characters. The closer to reality we make it, the more weight fiction can carry to the casual observer…like some kind of literary God Particle.

I’m not trying to pin every Roddenberry alien on a Cold War era culture, or every bumbling, fated-to-blow-up villain as someone’s high-school nemesis whose debt of comeuppance was never realized in reality…but I’m also not arguing with those who see a downtrodden normal kid instead of the Boy Who Lived, nor a sexually frustrated and bored every-woman instead of a chick who fucks sparkly vampire metaphors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted under Manifestoes