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A. Hammer

I read for most of the evening because I had an interesting book and there was nothing else to do. The book was called Mysterious Streams, published sometime in the early 90s, and was written by an American called Leigh Strauss, who I’d never heard of. I had read a review of it online somewhere, I couldn’t remember where, but the review had praised Mysterious Streams and made it sound like a book I would enjoy. The book is about a politician, a Congressman or Senator, I forget which, who goes missing on a fishing trip, fleeing the responsibility and tedium of his life, and also unable to admit to an extra-marital affair he has engaged in because he is a man who expects too much of himself morally. He finds himself on an Indian reservation, but the name of the tribe is unfamiliar to him, and they refuse to speak English with him. He tries to leave the reservation but walks for days without

...a case of mis Instead of the hero’s welcome that he had expected, he is treated with suspicion. The history books show that the Indians of the area were entirely slaughtered in 1834, and the maps show no area of wilderness conceivably large enough for a man to get lost in. No one believes his story. His seat in Congress (or the Senate) has been taken by a fundamentalist folk-singer who is already much more popular than he ever was; who is even considered a future presidential candidate. Then our Congressman (or Senator) is arrested for the murder of his wife, who, they tell him, has been killed by a hatchet blow to the head, received while she was asleep in her new lover’s bed. Now a villain, endlessly harangued by the media, he endures a lengthy trial, during which he is disowned by all his family members, who cannot be blamed for doing so because the evidence against him is powerful. His lawyer pleads for him to argue insanity but he refuses. He is found guilty.

finding anyone. He nearly dies of exposure, and is eventually rescued by the tribe he was trying to leave. Forlorn, he abandons himself to life on the reservation, and finds consolation in fishing. He begins to learn the tribe’s language, and starts a sexual relationship with one of the women. After several months, having earned the trust of the tribe, he participates in a peyote ritual, during which he hallucinates firstly an ascent to heaven and secondly an unarmed battle with an immense, omniscient salmon. The next day he awakes with the certain belief that he must return to his home to look after his family, and approach his work as a politician with more seriousness and vigour than ever before. He explains to the tribe, who agree to help him. They guide him to the edge of their lands, after which he treks three days, and then finds himself on the edge of a highway. He returns to civilisation.

staken identity. Against his will, old friends in government pull strings to ensure that he is given a life sentence rather than the death penalty, and the newspapers and television again howl for his blood. In prison, he writes a book about his time with the Indian tribe, which is published, against his wishes, as New Age fiction (with an airbrushed wolf on the cover) and which sells well as such. As an older, non-violent prisoner, he is transferred to a lower-security prison, from which he makes his escape one night by swimming underwater along a storm-water drain, perhaps, in his confused mind, toward Atlantis. It was a weird book, but it kept me up, although passages were badly written and the characters were flat, more like pictures of people than real people. I finished Mysterious Streams and started another book, a thriller, which wasn’t very good...



As Geoffry Bellings engorged himself upon his 3pm afternoon teatime cupcake, an apocryphal feeling started rollicking inside his mind. This feeling penetrated a sound three layers of psychologically placed defences, so it was without question that Geoffry emitted a slight whimper as his teeth crackled the streaks of hardened cupcake frosting. It occurred to Geoffry that a rather large portion of his perception had suddenly been altered from the half-memory’s recollection of that morning. It also got in the way of his attempts to solve a crossword puzzle. “Oh, yes, I had almost forgotten about that,” said Geoffry as crumbs of cupcake unprofessionally abseiled down his shirt front. Rising up from his chair he placed the half-completed crossword he was poking and prodding at on the small side table and strode to the fridge. “Milk,” he said, “I need to get some,” he thought. This was in fact unrelated to his initial perception-altering thought, but it served as a way to cope with the altogether unwanted burden of dealing with said morning’s perceptionaltering thought. Going to the shop to pick up some Blue Top milk would allow him some time to think, which he often felt he could only do properly if he can get his legs to move at the same time. Slinging on his jacket Geoffry exited the office and paced down the street. The nearest shop that sells the particular brand of milk he enjoys would be another 6 minutes walk so the walk there and back would afford him 12 minutes of thinking time, possibly 15 if he found a stray cat on the side of the road to chase and subsequently pet. After 5 minutes and 23 seconds of thinking time Geoffry swung into the corner shop, bought some Blue Top milk and swung back out. He still hadn’t gotten too far on the thinking task as he was more consumed questioning what he was thinking about, questioning why he should think about it and questioning when he’d see a cute stray cat for him to pet. Nevertheless, the perception-altering thought still perturbed him distantly and he was still distantly perturbed by it and by how it affected him in a way in which he was still figuring out how he was affected and what he thought of it all, which

wasn’t much at all at the moment despite his best efforts with walk-powered thinking. 14 minutes and 35 seconds later he arrived back at the office with ginger cat hairs attached to his shirt, a couple scratches on his left hand and a conclusion to his philosophical dilemma. He pontificated that this earlier epiphanic realisation didn’t actually need cognitive registration and assimilation as it was already there regardless how he felt, or how he thought he felt or didn’t feel, about it. This mentally freed up Geoffry to brew a hot cup of coffee, poke and prod at the crossword and to polish off the remains of the cupcake and his afternoon break. “The more I think about it,” Geoffry concluded in his mind to noone in particular as he headed back to his workstation ready to resume his employed duties, “that the less I think of it all, the better off I am.” Geoffry died 47 years later at a sound age of 86 with no qualms about it all and a cupcake engraved on his headstone.


Alfred Knox was a regular person of regular build living a fairly regular life. The only difference between Alfred Knox and other regular people was Alfred’s condition of the “persistent idea.” When word got around of Alfred’s condition, a radio station rang him up to interview him and, on behalf of their listeners, find out more about it. “Well, you see,” Alfred undramatically started, “it’s quite literally what the name is: a persistent idea. I basically think up something and then it doesn’t go away until I’ve done it.” The radio station soon hung up on him as they thought it was a rather boring practical joke someone played on them. Little did they realise how true it was. Alfred suffered daily. Aside from living a regular life, working in a regular job, eating regular food and having regular sex with his regular wife, Alfred’s mind would be focussed on a persistent idea that he might have thought up when he was regularly showering, regularly relieving himself in a regular toilet, or regularly chewing his regular meal whilst conversing with other regular people. Often his ideas were less regular than he appeared, so at times he felt he was slightly irregular. The persistent idea that was currently persisting in Alfred’s regular brain was one that occurred to him as he was regularly trimming his regularly styled facial hair. This particular flash of the mind wondered if he could balance an apple, orange and banana on a can of baked beans. The condition of the “persistent idea” meant that this would be all that Alfred could think about until he could come up with a physical solution. In this instance, it was easy: a quick trip into the kitchen would provide the conclusion, but he was lucky this morning. Most of the time it’s something along the lines of “is it possible to borrow 30 dollars from a homeless person?” and “can cats walk on the ceiling with their claws?” One particular unfortunate idea was “is it possible to cure lesbianism with a pot of hummus and a tuning fork?” The conclusion was a surprising yes and resulted in Alfred becoming married. A couple days passed and Alfred’s former-lesbian-nowregular-heterosexual-wife, sympathetic to Alfred’s suffering, asked Alfred if it was possible that he could be cured of the “persistent idea”. Alfred then wondered this himself, and it

then became the idea that persisted within his mind. “Yes, I think it’s possible,” ventured Alfred. That was the last idea to have ever adversely persisted within Alfred’s regular brain as it soon stopped persisting when he muttered those very words. Two weeks later, Alfred, being interviewed by a local regular newspaper, attributed his miracle cure as being the unconditional love from his wife. The local newspaper decided to not run the story as it was quite boring and the journalist covering the story annoyed the editor. 203 years later, some theoretical physicists inspired by an LSD-fuelled trip soon invented a device to split dimensions like atoms and found themselves realising that dimensions and atoms are merely thoughts and that some can just be more persistent than others. More importantly, they realised that they had only thought that dimensions and atoms were thoughts and that they hadn’t actually invented a machine; the actuality was that a couple persistent dimensions tricked them into realising the truth of the situation and a few persistent atoms tricked them into realising that it was all false so eventually the theoretical physicists soon gave up on the whole thing and decided to take E instead. Alfred Knox continued his regular life unperturbed by the future and three dishevelled fractals in the corner of the room giggled.


Mary Lauren was a financial consultant who had a propensity for travel, pondering and wondering. Often she would travel, ponder and wonder so much that she felt that she needed to supplement her jetsetting ponderous wonderings with self-help books. Every flight she went on she'd purchase a new self-help book from the airport bookstores, but to keep it interesting she'd randomly choose which self-help book she'd buy next and would often read them backwards and upside-down. On a particular flight to Auburn, Texas, a man sitting next to Mary and wearing a cowboy hat noticed Mary's peculiar reading style, not to mention he was interested in the content of the book she was reading too. It seemed on this occasion Mary chose to purchase a self-help book titled “Curtailing the Amazon: A Guide to Controlling Nymphomania.” Being a true-blue texan man, George (as he'd soon introduce himself to Mary as) was rather interested in seeing how much of an frisky amazon Mary might be. “Oh, I'm not a nymphomaniac — I just enjoy reading self-help books,” assuaged Mary, single-handedly deflating George's optimism and erect member. George didn't bother following up on the reason why she was reading it backwards and upside-down, but instead buzzed for an air hostess to order a whiskey and entertained ideas that perhaps the air hostess would be a hot and sexy nymphomaniac ready to exhaust George's fantasies in a toilet hundreds of feet up in the air. “Yes sir, one whiskey on the rocks,” replied the male air host. Suffice to say, George was now depressed. The actual reason why Mary read self-help books backwards and upside down is because she'd find that the kooky ideas that most self-help books exclaimed would be less effective in being absorbed when read in an unconventional manner as she felt that she was already splendid with all her flaws and didn't need her psyche toyed with by hack writers looking for a quick buck. In fact, she found that it often turned the books into a comedic affair, and Mary enjoyed the unintended entertainment derived from such material wielded in such a manner. After a few years of flights with backwardsly read upside down self-help books, Mary got the idea that she could write

a right-way-up left-to-right read self-help book but it would actually be a comedic book designed to make the person laugh and realise that regardless if there was something wrong with them, she'd persuade them that there was actually nothing wrong with them. She soon stopped buying self-help books from airport bookstores and set to work composing her selfhelp masterpiece tentatively titled “You're Actually Fine.” 24 flights later Mary concluded her comedic self-help manuscript and emailed it to an old high school friend called Amanda Meeds who was a secretary for a publishing firm in Toronto. Amanda then passed it on to her boss Rudolf Garvin, who was an avid golfer and suffered from irrational bouts of anxiety, even though he owned a fairly successful publishing business and was rather handsome and rich. After receiving a blow job from Amanda one evening, Rudolf decided to finally read the book Amanda's friend wrote and found his anxiety had completely vanished by the end of the book. “A miracle!” he exclaimed as he then phoned up Amanda to tell her to tell her friend that he would publish her book and that Amanda could get a raise and promotion, as a girl with rim and ball technique as good as hers was worth the investment. Soon Amanda got in contact with Mary and Mary suddenly felt a sense of accomplishment and quit her job of financial consulting as her first book, now titled “You're Actually Fine, You Know” was a international best seller within one week of release. She then went on to write a further 3 best selling funny books on how fine people are, which all predictably sold like hot cakes because people like to hear funny jokes and about how fine they are rather than someone confirming all their insecurities and giving them a bunch of ideas and exercises on how best to shape up before they can enjoy themselves. 6 months later George eventually found a nymphomaniac to have sex with and has regretted it since.

I am old and so very relaxed.

pull up another oak and leather chair; have a nice sit. Leave the activity to your visual cortex.

It is best to do as little as possible, ie. close your eyes

I am old and have no intention to move.

lips and hair at rest not sleep and definitely not death.

watch my eyelids, nose bridge, philtral columns

open eyes. Young and drowsy. Watch me relax—

next to mine which are detectable with your naked

in an idle state. Your occipital alpha waves are weak

my bloodshot eyes are shut but I am awake

Many more than three years of age,

I wake and worry. Work soon, late again on deferred chores, no that’s not me, I'm just behind on things I've made commitments too, more than dates with a drink or an old friend. Though I wish that was all. Learning to type quiet to not agitate sleeping giants. Another sip of hidden wine. Tomorrow waits with the promise of plastic conversations as I yearn and earn for the dollar, hangover perhaps and a handful of silly jokes and regrets of not keeping sober the night before. I find this constant interaction as draining as a funeral. Hoping and praying my day will come as my fingers clumsily spill these words. But who cares, no one, and that’s my point, why wonder where rabbits tread if farming is not your game. My game? Sinking while swimming. Drowning whilst staying afloat. Don’t stop, that’s what you do best, and by god you know you’re not good at anything else. She sleeps quiet, must be the new quiet keys of this worn and bored typewriter. Another sip, this time not secret, just purely selfish, uh oh, a glimpse of a moan. Oh well, when you’re a little ahead it’s ok to be loud.

I miss the comforts of things I nearly had. Close but no cigar and the smell of smoke makes you sick. I have become my own regret but not really that far, just yet, but nearly soon, if not inevitably. And here it comes, I tried hard to stop but it felt natural, fuck I’ve found a second wind. Wind me up and let me bang and crash and bang and crash and crash in front of you, oh no that’s not me or my style. Just the style I try and force upon myself. I've never been that good and if things that are supposed to be good take time I’ll be here forever, blah, I like the sound these keys make. Man, man, man, that’s all, just blah. Just silence and gnawing at my own brain, I don’t like using that word but it’s all that will do for now. Another sip, perhaps to soon but oh well this work is driving my eyes shut. Uh oh uh oh uh oh. Time for sleep? Shall I let another promising premise die with my emptying glass? Perhaps so, OH NO, I’m no poet, just a boring man with nothing to show, fuck you Bukowski, you cool cunt. Too cool for me. You had a grace I can only fish for, here's, hoping you old bastard.


A collaborative zine produced in Melbourne 2010 by mostly anonymous contributors

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