Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

David Swykert

Rafael attached the electrodes from the computer screen to the beetle’s brain and set him in front of Pauline. Rafael watched as her face downloaded from the beetle’s eyes to the screen in a flowing rainbow of colors and shapes, a separate and distinct reality from his own.

“Even to a beetle you are as beautiful as anything in endless space,” he said.

“I am only as beautiful as you imagine.”

“What about the beetle?”

“I am only as beautiful as he imagines.”

Rafael shook his head. “You think beauty is not real, only imagined?”

“I believe all things are only as we imagine. What is real is as real as we know it, but no more.”

“But no less,” Rafael said.

“You know what I would like?”

“A kiss?”

Pauline laughed. “Take the beetle out to the garden and let him go free. Let him explore his own universe as he sees it.”

Rafael released the beetle. A million years into the future it developed language, art, and a concept of beauty beyond all previous life forms.

David Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp, and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Alpha Wolves, and The Death of Anyone. You can find him at: He is a wolf expert.