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“Last requests?” said the commander.

“I want to know how this works, please,” I said, tapping my temple. They kept staring. I detected a smirk on the closest face.

“You think if you ask the right question we won’t shoot you?” The commander rubbed a leaf against his upper lip and smiled. I said nothing. I waited for a real answer, as I was promised. Their mule flipped its tail in the wind rising from the gorge where they’d taken me. The mule looked bored, too bored to lift a hoof, and the reins hung in the dust and twitched. It looked like it wanted to be rid of me too. The bushes shook their leaves, impatiently awaiting my absence. The rest of the men sighed and held their breaths, and cocked their weapons, fingers on triggers in unison.

“What if the mind’s not supposed to work at all?” said the commander.

The other men shrugged. They let out a little breath in unison. The commander began to laugh, and so the men slowly allowed themselves a little laugh too. With rifles still pressed against their shoulders, faces still pressed against the wood, their laughter went through their shoulders. It was like a pattern of shrugs. Their shoulders lifted and dropped, lifted and dropped, and when they lifted again – but before they dropped, before the commander could say “Alright, let’s proceed” – I grabbed the mule’s reigns and stepped back over the edge and into the gorge. I pulled the mule with me. We fell and I prayed that they would all hear my laughter, all the way down. I prayed it would fill their heads, spread through the nerves in their brains, fry every synapse. The hot air was too strong though and became a wind that pushed through me and choked me. I gargled and gasped. Distracted from prayer, I wondered how the mule falling with me still managed to bray in such hot wind.


Scott Lambridis’ stories have appeared in Storyglossia, Black Static, received the Leo Litwak award in Transfer, and are forthcoming in New American Writing.  Scott is the founder of, and while completing his MFA at San Francisco State (where he received the Miriam Ylvisaker Fellowship), he’s working on a novel about the scientist who discovered the end of time. You know, the usual. Read more at


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