Robert Laughlin

Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. He is the creator of the Micro Award, the first annual competition for previously published flash fiction. Two of his short stories are Million Writers Award Notable Stories, and his novel, Vow of Silence, was favourably reviewed by Publishers Weekly. His website is at

as a boy

as a boy
I could recognize a nightmare in progress for what it was

I would pedal my bike furiously
trying to escape a gang of bullies
who kept gaining though they were on foot

or couldn’t find my way out of a strange neighborhood
the streets leading in having vanished

and a part of my mind still awake and reasoning
would say
This cannot be happening
Make yourself wake up

and I did
and I was safe in my darkened bed

an enviable talent
being able to make irrational phantasms evaporate at will

but in time it was a talent lost
I know

for recently I tried my best to wish away
something too horrible
and too wildly improbable to be real

I strained and strained to wake myself
and opened my eyes

God damn it
the front page didn’t change a bit

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