by: Cornell R. Nichols
When I got to work on Monday, 8 a.m. sharp, vampire swans were eating their way through my office building. Zipping around the corporate high-rise in a flock, a ballet, a whiteness, they have managed to strip away the concrete from all twenty regular and five executive floors with hundreds of razor-sharp teeth. Vampire swans can live on concrete from just about anything, even pavements and skate park ramps, but for some reason they prefer to collapse skyscrapers. Today they chose the one I work in.
Or used to work in, I suppose.
There was scarcely anything left except for naked plumbing and twisted steel rebar. Loosened glass panes kept falling onto the plaza, threatening to cut passersby in half, but through some amazing hive-mind instinct, vampire swans avoided them with ease, circling in search of another scrumptious bite of hardened cement.
I put up both hands awning-like to shade my eyes from the sun and located the all too familiar desk on the thirteenth floor. As I was watching, the entire structure groaned and bent to the side. The desk slipped through the absent window and crashed in front of the fountain.
I sat on the bench across the road and took out my packed lunch.
Biting along to the chomping of vampire teeth, I watched the urban tower
collapse into a heap of debris. A pod of mummy seals flippered by, and
each of them gave me an awkward hug, wet bandages brushing against my
neck. When I finally stopped shaking with disgust, the swans were flying
away towards the park—a dark wedge against the chemically bleached blue
I went to the nearest antigravity bar. Half-flipping onto the ceiling, I noticed several people from work—silent, pale-faced, slumped over snifters of lighter-than-air whiskey and inverted beer bottles—but the place was mostly empty. My boss was committing hara-kiri in the corner booth using only a cocktail umbrella. Nobody tried to stop him, even as blood started raining down onto the hardwood floor.
I ordered a Bloody Mary and strapped myself to the seat next to some balding stockbroker type. I told him my office building had been eaten by vampire swans. He told me his lunch had been raped by
“They started appearing last week,” he said, punctuating the sentence with a painfully long, bottoms-down sip of his Bud Light. “Long as you have a home-cooked meal in a Tupperware or some veggie shit, you’re all fine and dandy. The undead fucks won’t even sneeze at a thing. But who has time to cook at home, amirite?”
“Sure thing,” I said just to keep him talking.
“So there I am, my company’s food court, about to bite into one of those foot-long monster sandwiches, extra cheese, when the pack arrives. Salivating acid, stinking like an open grave somebody took a piss in. Everybody stops eating because, well, you can’t swallow a bite when you see—and smell—something like that. And then . . . and then raping starts. Male
When he returned, he launched into a spiel about secret government labs. “It’s all part of their plan, you know? I mean, where else could these aberrations have come from? Huh?”
I nodded, even though I knew he was wrong.
Vampire swans were never meant to eat buildings. Somebody created them to stop the bigwigs from filling the world with concrete, bulldozing nature.
But somewhere along the way, intentions got twisted. Skyscrapers started falling, more and more lunches got sexually assaulted, fleeting comfort became a reminder of your crushing loneliness. And we were left with this. A world forever unwinding, desperate for a miracle.
I left the antigravity bar around 8 p.m., just when my boss’s body started to decompose, dripping black juices from the ceiling.
Taking a shortcut through the mall parking lot, I heard
Back in my basement, I introduced the Bride to the huge black ram I found in my backyard last week. Sitting on rickety steps, I watched the two of them go at it behind a stack of year-old newspapers.
Soon my new pet will give birth to a flock of Frankensheep. Maybe they will teleport into offices and stress people out by pissing on electrical outlets. Maybe they will roam the malls, eat people’s credit cards and shit them out onto a huge pile.
Or maybe—just maybe—they will pay off student loans, vomit lollipops onto sick children’s beds and wage nuclear war against vampire swans. I can only wait and pray, and hope, just like so many people before me.
Maybe this time the world can change for the better.
Cornell R. Nichols is a writer and translator who wishes he had a Frankensheep. Or at least a phantom okapi. He usually writes in his native tongue, but words like “chrząszcz” and “gżegżółka” are slightly too extreme even for the bizarro crowd. Polish speakers can visit
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