Skip to content

Castor or Pollux?

by Dan Reiter

I was rewriting the first sentence for the eighty-seventh time when I smelled it. Hot, rancid tang. Funk of Virunga.

“Olfactory hallucination,” I told myself. Deleted a word. Added another. A deep graw. Padded thunk of flesh upon wood.

Blood thrilled into my legs. I turned around. The cut of the beard, the curl of the fingers. Could it be that drunk, broken in again? But no. Not him.

He emerged from silhouette. Lamplight glazed his wet lips, shone on his luxuriant shoulders, his glossy, cavernous nostrils. The wrinkled eyes…so familiar. Coruscating. Studying me.

My heart laddered past my throat as he pulled his knuckles off the floor. Peeled lips from wet, yellow fangs. Struck his chest with his fists. Pummeled himself. Mad, rubbery poppings of a lunatic malleteer.

I let my laptop fall into the fold of the chair. Quivered to my feet. A silverback gorilla in my office? Was this what happened? No matter. First, to the door. Consider later.

The massive head took me on a slow swivel. I slid along crushed velvet curtains. Lurid stench. He swayed toward the chair, picked up my computer. Sat with it.

I stopped at the door. Could have run but stopped, as he grunted in the white light of the first sentence. Put gray, hairless fingers to keys.

Dan Reiter is a student at the University of Truth, where he is a long way from earning his Master’s. His flash fiction has been featured at the Tin House blog, Word Riot, Bartleby Snopes, Spork Press, WhiskeyPaper, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. 

Lead image: “I, Gorilla III” (via Flickr user Barabeke)


  1. pamelala95 pamelala95

    I relished every word … what a clever piece.

  2. So…you’ve got that simian problem too, huh? It’s as though they can smell the fear, the desperation…god luck and good speed…

    • What can be done? Which is which?

      • I say let him write what he wants! In my experience, it is best to let the Ape of Doom unleash his inner turmoil on the page…as opposed to ripping my arms off and beating me with them. As for the differences between the two? I’ve always felt the qualities that unite are more important than the differences that separate. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself!

  3. This is sheer brilliance! You create a vivid scene, your words flow and dance across the page. I am stunned, utterly in awe at your word play.

    • Thank you. So glad you liked it.

Comments are closed.