Lit Up
Published in

Lit Up

artwork by Graham Hardman —


ROD, a swanky narrative ghost who has arrived to enlighten our story and bedevil the residents of the small town we take as our setting, appears on the train tracks with an ectoplasmic flash and a curtain of smoke. He steps from the two-dimensional confines of this electronic screen to intimately address you, our delightful reader, in the now-illuminating primal darkness of your imagination.

(correlating the oscillations
of his voice with a calculated
flourish of fingers and a decidedly
decadent demonstration
of facial expressions)

We gather here today to witness a wedding

of sorts: a meeting of mind and place, of time

and spaces that petrify the people who,

after living out their quiet lives

in nowhere all these years, finally feel

the power of urban voices seeping in

with a technological ferocity

they can’t begin to keep out of their homes.

Rod takes a step further into the grey matters of your thoughts, where logic is confused by the antilogic of assumptions, where the soul dissolves into an endless array of original materials, and where you entangle your dreams with things unseen.


These tracks we walk have been empty now

for thirty years. The roads are cracking up.

The interstate the state is building today

navigates around this town as if it were

a canyon twice as big as the grand one

out west — at best, the people living here

can go to church to cope with what they don’t

understand; at worst, they turn to stories

that everybody knows to be untrue,

in order to feel safe. The people here

have no money, no influence, no way

of interacting with the world. Imagine,

then, what happens when a computer program

managed in a city far away

falls like snow into their empty phones

and feeds on the superstition bred by their

alienated positions. What was once

a sleepy type of town surrounded by corn

and entangled in trees, becomes the hottest scene

of revitalized ghostly euphoria.

Rod takes one last step — back into the darkness. He completely disappears. You could almost say that there was never anything standing on the grass growing between the rusted arms of the train tracks, if it wasn’t for the disembodied voice.


Today, on the first day of the festival,

the one week when this town comes alive

to fill its streets with people eating pudding,

we act as witness to such a fateful marriage

in Mitchell, Indiana. One of their own,

who went to educate himself in the ways

of technological wizardry, returns

after making monsters of his misdeeds.

As the town descends into a craze for circuits

trained to talk exactly like the dead

by a computer application called

Hereafter, it becomes clear that the boy

is involved in ways that would have seemed

impossible before, and the lines between

the living and the dead are blurred by tech

that almost seems to transplant consciousness.




Welcome to Lit Up -The Land of Little Tales. Here you can read and submit short stories, flash fiction, poetry - in brief, your own legend. We're starting little. But that's how all big stories begin.

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Cole Hardman

I’m an engineer with a passion for poetry and literary theory.