fiction

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Grassroots

An unexpected passenger – flash fiction by William Dyke

 

Mr. Wang woke at dawn to eat congee and fruit. He filled his tea mug and said goodbye to his wife before walking to the elevator. They lived on the 13th floor of an apartment that the government had given them after being displaced from their inner city hutong.

The apartment was on the outskirts of Beijing. It wasn’t especially nice, but it was his own. People like Mr. Wang didn’t normally own apartments. In the story of Mr. Wang’s life, he considered it a win on the whole.

Mr. Wang worked as a taxi driver, even though he didn’t have to. Years of steady work and a healthy pension ensured there would be food on the table plus some leftover. But ever since his son had moved out, he found himself lonely. He loved his wife but one person wasn’t enough to keep conversation going.

Mr. Wang’s favorite part of his job was chatting with passengers. He liked to talk with them as he drove around the city’s windy corridors and on the ring roads. He liked to speed by Tiananmen Square and tell them about how the city had changed so much in recent years.

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Gilded Age

Speculative fiction from Shanghai – by Isaac Beech

 

She came to China in 2020, at the spring of a new nation. After college, a liberal arts sanatorium for privileged outrage during America's mad years, she dithered in a city internship for a few months before hopping the Pacific after Christmas in a half thought-out rebellion against her family's cloying helpfulness. New year's in Bangkok faded into hangovers in Angor Watt and a misjudged café-venture in Phnom Penh with a girl she met in a youth hostel. From there she traced the curve of the banana pancake trail up the coast of Vietnam, until South East Asia gave way to the country she had been avoiding and gravitating towards all along.

Haijing, this young capital of the nation's newest incarnation, was still adjusting to its new political status.

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Doorman

A true patriot – fiction by Tim Rinaldi

 

The residents – they never see me. No one does. Through the murky glass they see the cigarette smoke curling around the blue uniform in the circular booth, but they never see me. I see everything. The monkey boy hair, the degenerate piercings, the garish tattoos. I hear it, too. The music they play, so loud, so crazy, so many sounds that do not sound like music.

“Shushu, you cannot understand,” my niece Xiaorong says. “It is too different from when you were young in Shandong. Do you even know how to dance to the Little Apple Song?”

These days people think you’re some kind of idiot if you’ve never used the Internet before. It is true that I do not participate in these activities like she and her clever friends from shifandaxue do. I would not wish to, even if I could.

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Don't Blame Ling Ling

Flash fiction by Eric Allen

 

My new girlfriend Ling Ling works at the largest condom factory in the world.

Naturally, she was a bit embarrassed to tell me at first. But after a few weeks of saying she worked at some packaging factory she sort of laid it on me. I was shocked. My girlfriend makes condoms. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would have a girlfriend that made condoms for a living.

This all might have sounded strange once, but six months ago I moved to one of those boom cities on the shores of Southern China where everything rushes along in the haze of progress. I guess I went to China to find myself. Well, I found Ling Ling instead. She’s beautiful. Skin that seems to be gently graced with the tanned thumb of God.

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Party Dinner

Satire from the lazy susan – new fiction by Arthur Meursault

AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL PARTY MEMBERS

 

Between Little Qi’s gloating at work and their current taxi ride, it had been a woeful day. Yet again, Party official Yang Wei had experienced misfortune on public transport during his journey home when a particularly sharp-elbowed grandmother had succeeded in pushing him off the crowded bus just before the doors closed, forcing him to wait another thirty minutes in the rain. While standing by the bus stop an entrepreneurial shoe-shiner had thrown mud on his shoes in an attempt to drum up some impromptu business. The crowd of fellow commuters had laughed at him as he tried to clean his soiled shoes in a puddle of dirty water, and when he returned home he discovered that the shoe-shiner had spat on the back of his jacket for failing to take up his kind offer of a twenty-yuan shoeshine. Yang Wei was dreading dinner.

Though the weekend had not yet arrived, the Five Harmonies Delicious Gourmet Seafood Restaurant was bursting with customers. Seafood restaurants were popular in Huaishi. In the evenings, the main roads of the city were lined with desperate young men in cheap tuxedos trying to drag patrons into their deserted establishments. The Five Harmonies Delicious Gourmet Seafood Restaurant succeeded in business better than most of its competitors because it had a reputation for not cutting corners.

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