The Alphabet Vanishes


The Alphabet Vanishes

by Robert Lewis Heron

My name is Sam Lasla, and today did not start well.

The fact is, I'm amazed at being able to tell the tale, for inside, word by typed word, I am going mad.

You see, as I type each word the word preceding it, like all the words before that, fade back to white.

Every book on every shelf--blank.

No outline. No trace. Nada.


Copyright © 2016 by Robert Lewis Heron. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


Mary supported herself on State issued crutches waiting for three thirty, for every Friday at three thirty the hospital chimney spewed a twisting column of putrefied limb amputation residue. Today, her left leg was scheduled for its heavenward journey. 


Everything seemed as normal as can be in this hellhole of a town called ‘Harmony’.  Normal, except for a man perched on a high ledge, and staring. Just staring.

Mary’s head hung lopsided watching him. Smoke spiraled skyward from her homeless hovel of rusty wire carts and soiled cardboard boxes. Two of her friends threw strips of black rubber tire and bloodied ‘Property of Harmony Hospital’ sheets atop crackling spitting embers.

Her remaining solitary ulcerated ankle shot pain. She winced, and rats scurried towards mounds of rancid trash. She held her breath—waiting, watching.

“Go on then, jump,” Mary said through a gap in her blackened teeth. “Give me something to laugh at.” She squirted green phlegm onto the flames.

“JUMP FREAK,” she shouted.

Chapter 1

My name is Sam Lasla, and today did not start well.

I’m sure the fact today is Friday the thirteenth has nothing to do with my problem. Well, as sure as anyone facing the strangest day in a life of boring normality can be.

No clocks striking thirteen—although it is a cold bright April day—and no transformations into friggin’ giant insects. Nothing as trite but something as crazy. I’m amazed at being able to sit here to tell my tale, for inside, word by typed word, I am going mad. You see, as I type each word—the one preceding it, like all others, fades back to white. No outline. No trace. Nada.

My week old boxers and chin stubble are my norm, my reference point, my handle on sanity—but, if I stop typing for ten seconds, just friggin’ ten seconds, I end up looking at white pristine paper. Ten seconds give or take, approx, not exact. I don’t like exact. Never have, never will. Ten seconds, approx, for a roach to crawl over my breadboard and vanish behind frayed curtains. Ten seconds for Max to eat a moth, or rat, or hard-boiled eggshell bits before coughing up mucus-drenched hairballs. Ten seconds for every typed letter to disappear. Even the slightest surface depression returns to smooth, crisp, virginal white. Not a mark, nothing. The exception—the page gripped in my portable Remington Quiet Deluxe typewriter, line by finished line, and ting by carriage return ting slides heavenward. My boxers still stink, my stubble remains, but my paper is pristine.

No crazies please. All I want is normal. Normal like Max licking himself after eating food in our bathtub. Max doing what he does every day, and me doing what I do every day, and all to remain sane in a world going insane. What’s wrong with wanting normal?

I’m like the Morse code operator on the Titanic sending out vanishing S.O.S messages begging for someone, anyone. For God’s sake, send help.


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