All dials grind down, all displays stop, together.
And now becomes a drawn breath lodged between
the quarter-tick; when gravity fails, everything
falls up. Dust clogs the heart’s dead coils. The skull
becomes a shell, bone carapace stuffed full
of odds and sods, rag-hanks and hair, old fears.
Memories too poison-soft to process fully,
build up like engine-dirt, wax in a hive. You turn it
over, flood the chambers with burnt-rubber stink,
make half a mile more at most, your only fuel
a salt-lick of dried tears. No light left to steer by
but that thalassic dashboard glow, and the road,
the road—grey tarmac rushing away beneath,
traceless, trace-lost. Drive all night, without maps,
only to end up back (exactly) where you were:
Four years to the second, a hundred to the hour.
Time-travel made easy. Loop the road, and then
this stuttery clock jump-starts itself again.
About the Author:
Gemma Files has spent the last fifteen years reviewing
films, the last ten years teaching screenwriting and
film history, and the last four years raising her son.
She won the International Horror Guild's 1999 award for
Best Short Fiction with her story “The Emperor's Old
Bones,” and the 2006 ChiZine/Leisure Books Short
Story Contest with her story “Spectral Evidence.” She
has published two collections of fiction (Kissing
Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart, both
Prime Books) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under
Night, Sinnersphere Press, and Dust Radio,
Kelp Queen Press). Her most recent novella is Words
Written Backwards, available from Burning Effigy
Press. She also writes a column on horror culture, “Cool
and Dark,” for