A Length of Red Speech
by Matthew Antonio
As he spoke a length of red hair grew from the ceiling. Though he noticed it, he felt unable to halt his voice in order to address this new and unsettling circumstance. Even when the strands reached his throat and coiled around it, he still kept his arms at his sides and, if anything, spoke more forcefully as if to demonstrate his implacable resolve to continue.
Then the red coil tightened and, just as he attempted to deliver a particularly muddy syllable, his tongue tip against the edge of his top two teeth, a small gear fell from his mouth, rolled in a circle on the floor, and settled beside his foot. Undeterred, he again attempted the sound and choked on a long piston that crawled from his throat and took its place beside the gear. Each time he attempted the honey tar sound another part of the machine interrupted and forced its way out.
He stopped trying to speak. The small pile of mechanical components at his feet stirred. The springs crawled over the flimsy teeth of the gears. The warm shafts wrapped themselves around the pistons. Soon he found a clicking, screeching creature shuddering at his feet. It limped away on its mismatched, deformed legs. It moaned and shuddered and screamed metal fatigue until it found its way beneath the couch where it rested and fell silent. The hair retreated.
He sat on the couch beside his wife. She watched television.
Matthew Antonio attends Colorado State University’s MFA program in Fiction, is Fiction Editor at ĕm: A Review of Text and Image, operates www.littlemachines.net, and just finished his first novel.
This story originally appeared in issue 4.