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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-five WISHING FOR ANTS



wansville, North Carolina. Town commons. July 4th, 1976 bicentennial celebration 1:00 PM.

“Relax?” Sheriff Milford scoffed, then took a deep breath. “RELAX?!” The deputy standing next to him jumped and spilled coffee down the front of his uniform. The overweight, red-faced man continued, “Where the hell do you get off telling me to relax, Neilson?” Neilson wipes his soggy shirt with his other hand in vain and shrugs. “I’ve got a goddamn media Barnum and Bailey down here, state troopers are on the scene and…”

“Sheriff, the FBI are on their way,” crackled Milford’s walkie-talkie.

“Sprinkles on a Sundae. Did you hear that, Neilson? Now, I’ve got the friggin’ Federal Bureau of Investigation about to reach into my bag of pork rinds. Not to mention…” pointing at the ground near them, “sixteen severed heads!”

“Seventeen, sir,” another emotionally drained officer said with little expression on his face. He looked into the sky expectantly and considered asking one of the motorcycle cops if he could borrow a helmet.

“Seven fuckin’ teen severed heads,” he looked away, then back to Nielson, “with no goddamn bodies,” looked away, then back, “on the 200th birthday of the good ol’ US of A,” away, then back, “raining from the sky onto a crowd of terrified townsfolk,” he got right up in Deputy Neilson’s face, “and you tell me to fuckin’ RELAX?!”

Letting the sheriff’s anger sink in, Deputy Neilson meekly apologized, “Sorry, sir,” and shuffled towards the last head to be pointed out by the other officer. It was lying face down. He kneeled, wondered for a few moments why he didn’t pursue his childhood dream of becoming a professional wrestler instead of going to the police academy, and hesitantly picked up the small head with his latex-gloved hands. As he turned it over, he gasped, “This one is just a kid!”

Sheriff Milford stopped muttering to himself, walked over to Neilson and kneeled with a grunt for a closer look. It was a young boy with a dent in his forehead from the ground impact, eyes open and rolled back, with an expression somewhere between happiness and shock. Milford let out a long sigh, noticed a picturesque basket of fried chicken on the blanket next to them, and picked out a drumstick.


With a smile, as bright as the day was sunny, Gladys placed a large, transparent, green plastic bowl of potato salad on the end of a table. Several of these tables were lined up lengthwise, each covered with a cheerful red & white-checkered tablecloth, and enough food to feed her entire congregation. It was probably enough to feed most of the town. The savory scents of hot dogs, ribs, burgers and fried chicken complemented the hypnotic air of pecan pie, chocolate cakes, and her award-winning blueberry muffins, which were always a hit at the church bake sales.

The town common was filled with dozens of the town residents, all here for the big 4th of July bicentennial celebration. The fireworks may be the main attraction, but it’s the food, fun, and company that everyone will remember most on this perfect day. Gladys felt truly blessed.

Splurt! Something big landed in the potato salad, which brought her out of her reverie. She was covered with mayonnaise, along with bits of potato and egg. Swelling anger replaced thoughts of God and country as she yelled, “Which one of you damn kids threw their football into my potato salad?!” The napkins weren’t out yet, so she used her hands to scrape the greasy mess off her face. She reached for the ball in the bowl, but stopped short, “Little shits have no resp-” Instead of a football, a man’s head stared back at her that looked just as surprised as she did. His cheek twitched, frightened eyes lost focus and rolled back. Gladys’s shrieks could be heard over the marching band passing by.

Just as Gladys’s potato salad was ruined, fifteen other heads fell to earth. One bounced off a band member’s drum. One in the mouth of the tuba. Another made two points on the basketball court. Another spiked on the microphone on the grandstand. Another landed in a baby carriage. One landed in a bird’s nest, messily crushing the eggs. One smashed open like a pumpkin in the street. One went through the windshield of Tim Johnson’s car, which he worked all summer for as a waiter. One landed in an Italian ice cart. One knocked down several toddlers playing as it bowled through them. One splash-landed in the fountain. One tried on the juggler’s tip hat. One careened off Larry Jacobson’s own head, knocking him out. One landed harmlessly in the grass, but Randy Meyers’s Boston terrier grabbed it by the hair and ran off. One presidentially landed on Suzy Livingston's paper mache sculpture of Mount Rushmore.

Confusion lasted three whole Mississippis before the horror of what just transpired set in. Then came the screaming, the vomiting and the fainting.


Swansville, North Carolina. Raynham Laboratories. Approximately four miles from the town commons. Product demonstration. July 3rd, 2061 7:00 PM.

“All right, everyone. On the count of three, look through the portal and see the future of transportation. You will literally be in two places at once,” instructed Dr. Leah McCabe as the investors lined up horizontally in front of the glowing door. They all chatted with each other in excitement and had a growing sense of satisfaction regarding their investments paying off. “One. Two…”

“Mom, can I look too?” her eight-year-old son, who finished all his homework to be here asked.

“Of course, you can Billy.” The young boy bounced up the steps to join the others in line. Dr. McCabe gave her son an enthusiastic thumbs up. All their dreams were about to come true. “Three!”




Michael Riera-Smith is a writer, actor, and mechanical engineer from Salem, Massachusetts. This is his first publication.

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