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Fred's Dead

by Julia Wertz

bonus features:
alternate ending to Barry Graham's "Bad Beat" by Blake Butler

"Owen Morris's Other Creativity Games (to date)" by Dave Madden

deleted scene from Mary Miller's "Pearl"

behind the scenes:
an "origins" essay behind his Leisure Suit Larry essay by Matt Bell

an old essay about Magic: the Gathering, with new footnotes, by Mike Alber

an essay on noodles, with recipe, by E.P. Chiew

short supplemental stories:

When my brother and I were little, we played a game in which he would pretend to be his twin brother Fred who, for some inexplicable reason, was given up at birth. Despite the fact that he was supposedly around age 7 or 8, Fred lived alone in Portland, Oregon. He even had a washing machine, which he used to teleport himself to the hamper in our bathroom.

I knew Fred was arriving when my brother would start making a ruckus in the bathroom, throwing toothbrushes and clattering around the shampoo bottles. I would put down my book an wait with happy anticipation for Fred to open the bathroom door that led to my room and say, "Hey Julia, what's up? Sorry it's been so long, I've been really busy."

Fred and I would then gather some Legos and crawl into the small fort I'd built in my closet, where we'd talk for hours about school, our friends, our problems. I'd tell him about Sarah, who pushed me off the swings last Saturday; he'd tell me about Derek who punched him in the stomach for being a "holy roller." I'd tell him about Martin, who made fun of my crooked teeth and made me cry in the girls bathroom; he'd tell me about Lindsey who made fun of his stutter . I told Fred all my secrets, and he's listen intently while we created an entire Lego universe consisting of cars, horses, monorails and battle gear. There was no historical contingency to our Lego world. It was there, tucked into my tiny closet fort with my nonexistent, long lost brother where I felt the safest, where I felt it was okay to tell Fred my darkest secrets, despite the fact that the secrets of a five year old are usually of the utmost irrelevance.

When it was time to go, Fred would stand up, straighten his striped, handme down shirt and say, "well, I'd better get back to Oregon before mom finds out I've come to visit and decides she wants me back." And off he'd go into the bathroom, clattering and banging on the walls. Seconds later my brother would emerge and say, "Have you seen Fred lately?"

"No," I'd respond casually, disassembling the Lego village.

"Huh," he'd say. "He never seems to visit me anymore." And we'd go about our day.

Fred came to visit me on almost a weekly basis until I was about eight, when the visits began to taper. They went from weekly, to monthly, until the stopped completely. The fort in my closet began to get dusty and I was learning how to keep my problems to myself.

One day while my brother was in the bathroom, I called him into my room. "Have you seen Fred lately?" I asked. "He hasn't visited in a long time."

"No," he responded curtly. "Fred's dead."
"What?!" I cried, a little more sincerely that I meant to. "Why didn't anyone tell me? What happened?"
"Um…car accident," he said apathetically.

And with that, he turned abruptly and went back into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. I sat on my bed and accepted Fred's fate with heartbroken resign, even though I knew I was too old to honestly believe in Fred, if I ever really did at all.

"Picture I Stole from My Lover" by Stefan Kiesbye

"Adam, Jacob, John, Paul" (with baseball card) by Jennifer Pieroni

"Crossing Borders" by Grant Perry

short interviews with the cover artists:
Ryan Molloy

Steven Seighman

David Kramer

more bonus features:
a short story by Fart Party comic artist Julia Wertz

Gene Morgan and Matthew Simmons Discuss Dino Run

Gene Morgan and Matthew Simmons Discuss Ninja Hunter

Gene Morgan and Matthew Simmons Discuss Rose & Camellia