SSM: “The Man In the Hills” by Matthew Salesses

6 May

I’m still surprised at how little I’ve heard around the web about Our Island of Epidemics by Matt Salesses. But, I am glad to see the stories up around the web in various places, including one of my favorites, “The Man In the Hills,” up at Necessary Fiction.

We woke up and could do magic. It was the latest epidemic on our Island of Epidemics. We disappeared into boxes and reappeared at friends’ houses, springing out of their closets. We hovered for seconds in the air before our feet touched down again. We shot sparks from fingers and they zigzagged across the sky like banners. We made ourselves bigger or smaller.

But then we discovered we weren’t magicians: we didn’t know how our tricks were done or how we did them. We disappeared and reappeared in closets, waiting for someone to change clothes. Our feet left the ground to our surprise. Our fingers burned with sparks and we couldn’t hide where we were. We made ourselves bigger or smaller.

Read the whole story at Necessary Fiction.

Salesses has also recently collected all of the stories from the collection published online into a map of the island.

But, I’d highly suggest snagging a copy of the chapbook from PANK, too.

Win a Free Copy of Our Island of Epidemics
Comment with a few lines or a story about a disease you would like to spread on our island of epidemics. It can be anything–boils, bastards, breathlessness!

Next Wednesday, author Matt Salesses will select his favorite epidemic to win a free copy of Our Island of Epidemics!

9 Responses to “SSM: “The Man In the Hills” by Matthew Salesses”

  1. Josh Mickelson May 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    Im going to have to go with dyspepsia or planters warts.

  2. Timothy Gager May 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Whatever epidemic is named it would increase a million fold on Matthew’s island. Look how small it is! Given that my favorite epidemic would be the common cold.

  3. Eric Beeny May 6, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Re: Generation

    In bed, we noticed our genitals had swollen to the size of bigger genitals than we’d gone to bed with. She touched my genital and I touched her genital. “Don’t touch my genital,” she told me. “But even if your genital’s contagious,” I said, “my genital’s already caught it somehow.” She sneezed and I handed her a tissue. Her genital looked even bigger. Her eyes watered. She said, “Have you considered that maybe you caused my genital to get bigger?” “What do we do now?” I said.

    We examined each other’s bodies, convinced there was some purpose to this sudden swelling of genitals. We touched each other. We went to the nursery to check on the baby. We folded back the small, blue blanket, unbuttoned the crotch of its little onesie. The baby’s genital had swollen to the size of a shrunken grownup-sized genital. The baby was still breathing. We went to sleep truly believing we were no longer alone, that the entire island’s genitals had all swollen to the size of bigger genitals, and that this would somehow keep us from ever being alone again.

  4. Lam Pham May 10, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    It happened in the afternoon. Thousands of fishes beached themselves on the island’s shores, large ones and small ones, blue ones and red ones. Some had wings for fins and others had whiskers like grass blades twisting in the air. We gathered them to make a feast, and piled them next to the firewood. We hollowed out their slippery bodies and stuffed it with berries, nuts, and leaves. The feast lasted two days.

    On the third morning, we found scales underneath our arm pits and it grew difficult to breathe. We spent hours at the beach, rolling in the surf, diving into the deep to write our names on the sea bed’s sand. No one wanted to leave the water. We floated on the waves and slept with our arms linked to one another’s.

    It didn’t take long for the scales to spread, and with it, came the emergence of gills, dorsal fins, and a sudden appetite for brine and earthworms. The man in the hills came down one afternoon to watch the stars by the seaside, and saw us leap through the waves, no longer the people we were. He left and came back with a fishing pole. We avoided him.

    We lived like the fishes did and eventually, our former lives on land began to recede in our minds, like a happy dream of green grasslands and trees that towered into the sky. The epidemic lasted for nearly a month before we gradually returned to our normal form. But we no longer eat fish, because for awhile, we were fish.

  5. Joe Kapitan May 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    There came a day when we woke up feeling entitled (which, for children and politicians, just meant more entitled than usual). We wanted free meals, but we couldn’t stop there, we wanted our own chefs, then free farmland, then other people to work our farmland without cost. We asked for free chapbooks, then wanted the authors to come live under the tarps that covered our woodpiles and fend for themselves, but be ready with a good story whenever we felt bored. We collected free stuff and watched it disappear again when other people saw we had new stuff they could want. We grew dizzy and and short-tempered and vomited our free meals and tried to figure out how our lives had become a runaway carnival ride. Then someone, a Republican, thought to demand a bucket to puke in when they gave away their last pair of clean underwear, and the idea of keeping became the new wanting and the carousel slowed until the epidemic of wanting free stuff suffocated itself, reduced to a drawerful of tiny hotel shampoo bottles, more than we’d ever use.

  6. Kevin Denison Kohler IV May 10, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    While my defensive vomiting was under control, I sometimes had relapses due to my excessive use of laxatives and enemas while on break in the coal mines.

    It all started with my father, who had elephantitic-mumps, causing painful, viral swelling of his testicles, who also suffered from mad hatter disease while in Stockport, England.

    While my father’s hallucinations and tremors were being treated with small doses of cattle plague, he escaped the looney bin and tried swimming to the Americas through the anthrax-filled waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

    While drowning, a child pornographer with necrophelia rescued him, and took him to New York. There he met my mother, a transgendered hemopheliac who shared needles with prostitutes in the smallpox-ward of Ellis Island.

    Their love was infectious.

    Nine months later they had me. The HIV I contracted from my mother’s breast milk caused me to be very sleepy. My father, through a hallucination, gave me shaken-baby syndrom, causing retinal hemorrhages and subdural hematoma.

    As I grew up with no immune system, clinical blindness, and leprosy, which I contracted from my mother’s hooker friends, my skin boils were unbearable, and I decided to become a hermit-coal miner.

    The blacklung was tolerable, and yet I stopped eating due to the hoof and mouth disease I contracted from consuming maggot-infested beef.

    I died.

  7. Kevin Denison Kohler IV May 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Did anyone win? my entry was pretty bitchin’


  1. Link Roundup « Matthew Salesses - May 10, 2011

    […] a contest to win Our Island of Epidemics over at Vouched Books. I will judge tomorrow. Click here and leave a disease in the […]

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