A Summons to the Archive




    The battalion in retreat stopped for a night in a village that did not appear on any of their maps. In the morning they looted everything they could carry, then burned the village to the ground. After the battalion moved on, the ashes of the village gathered themselves together and also left. They caught up with the rear of the battalion after two days: mostly men who were injured, fatally demoralized, drunks; men who were soon to die and well-disposed to having the ashes following in their wake, tossing them bits of wood to eat, laying down cloth over puddles in the road so the ashes could continue, singing their hymns to destruction loud enough for the ashes to hear.




Cruel Interruption of Rest


    On the train home my foot fell asleep. A few stops before mine I started telling it that it was time to wake up. Startled and furious at having its nap cut short, my foot began to howl and nothing I did managed to soothe it. I smiled meekly at the other passengers as the two of us hobbled off, with all the grace of a fox in a trap.




Melville in Purgatory


    Call me Devious-Cruising Rachel.






    I met an Englishman from Weston-super-Mare who said that humanity’s main purpose was to make itself as invisible as possible. He said the gears are the thing, not the hands on the clock.




Music for Hammering To


    The sky is not the edge of space. It is a long hallway. It is a hallway in a house belonging to a very old couple. This is why it rains (the roof leaks and they cannot afford repairs) and snows (the radiator doesn’t work when they don’t have heating oil) and thunders (they have many very old friends who come to get drunk with them, and when they are drunk they are very loud). The house is not big. If you walked to the edge of the lake you would see the kitchen window, and the other low, weary houses that look just like it.

    Though the couple who live there are quite old they still love each other very much. They may forget a name here or there, they may be slow going from one room to another (this is why the nights feel so long), but they are still happy to have each other, to lay down their days in this house, to move through it together (a stumbling laughing gust), always taking their time to stop in the hallway so they can look down together at you: one of the countless creatures who gather in their house.



Pete Segall is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His stories have appeared in Conjunctions, Necessary Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, and other journals. He lives in Chicago.