For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“A Brief History of Time”

Xu Zechen


—You didn’t die.

—I didn’t die. Well, I basically died.

—Can you tell us about it?

—Of course. Like I said, so long as you survive, then pain, death, loneliness and time are no longer frightening—of course you can talk about it. I’m saying later on I got hungry and thirsty, mostly thirsty; later the hunger sort of went away. After drinking all that alcohol, water was taking its revenge on me. There was no water to drink and I had no way of drinking my piss, and after a day… maybe less than a day, my only sense of time was of its length, unending and unchanging, nothing else; day and night no longer existed for me. I’d lost a lot of blood through my hands and feet, and I was utterly exhausted. I slept and woke, woke and slept, my body stiff as if it were rusted in place. In my dreams I felt like I would catch fire, like my whole body was smoking: the corners of my eyes, my lips, throat, guts and hair, even my soul. Do you believe in the soul?

We read it in Chutzpah! 8.