Mar 02

Loose Change: EVIL MTN & Emma Steinkraus




“Thanks for coming out here, guys,” says Mimi. She feels around until she touches Izzy’s arm. She can’t tell that it’s Izzy. “Thanks for doing this with me.”

“What!” says Kiki.

Izzy places a hand on Mimi’s shoulder, and nods. Mimi doesn’t notice.

None of them were certain whose idea it had been, but it seemed like fun. A weekend getaway with friends to a vast empty plain ringed by dark mountains. A quirky ancient ritual they found on the Internet. Some wine. Some weird ballroom masks Kiki found in her attic. Just to like, unwind for a bit. Cleanse themselves. Or whatever.

“This will like, totally bring us closer together,” one of them had said. They don’t remember which one.

It had been kind of scary at first. The sun turned this eerie green color. And the mountains started making this godawful sound. Like rats, but bigger. They could barely even hear themselves chanting. But then it just stopped. And something happened.

Now they all felt so different. Like they were already becoming better people. Like they were in a mystical secret society. Like they had reached a higher plane or something. I mean, they’d each lost one of their senses, sure. But that just meant all their other senses would be totally baller. Eventually. And they’d learn not to take things for granted. Or something. They didn’t really pay attention to the ritual very much.

“We’re like superheroes or something,” says Mimi. She takes a step and almost stumbles over a rock. The wind sounds so loud.

“I can’t hear anything yr saying!” says Kiki.

“It’s ok,” says Mimi. “You’ll adapt to it and you won’t need to hear. You’ll be able to like, read minds or something eventually.”

“What!” says Kiki.

“Don’t worry about it,” says Kiki. She tries to pat Kiki on the shoulder, but pats Izzy’s shoulder instead. “We should get out of here. Do you guys remember where we parked?”

Izzy nods again. And points off into the distance. Past the dark mountains. Kiki frowns at her, confused. And then draws her arms around her stomach.

“I’m so cold!” says Kiki.

“Seriously, guys. Where’s the car?” says Mimi.

Izzy rolls her eyes and opens her mouth. There is a sudden rumble in the distance. Thick and ominous. Coming from the dark mountains. Izzy’s eyes grow wide. She closes her mouth.

“Guys, did you hear that?” says Mimi. “I think it’s gonna rain.”

“I really can’t hear what yr talking about!” says Kiki. “I feel so hollow!”

Izzy shakes her head. Sighs quietly into the vast empty plain. Then she takes Mimi’s hand in hers. She takes Kiki’s hand in her other hand. She leads them around the now-useless ritual circle. The empty wine bottles. And begins walking back across the vast empty plain. Toward the dark mountains.

“I really love you guys a lot,” says Mimi. “Thanks again.”

Izzy squeezes Mimi’s hand a little bit. She smiles, but Mimi doesn’t notice.

“What!” says Kiki.

EVIL MTN is an evil mountain. It’s not a big deal. It’s fine. Whatever. Learn more on Twitter @evilmtn.

Emma Steinkraus is an artist, curator and editor living in Iowa City. She is the current Gallery Director for Coe College and the Visual Arts Editor for Company Editions, an online platform for contemporary poetry and visual art. She holds a BA from Williams College and an MFA in Painting from the University of Iowa where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. More of her work can be found in Bat City Review, Electric Literature, The Essay Review, and at

About The Author

Tyler Barton is co-founder of FEAR NO LIT, a fiction editor for Blue Earth Review, an intern for Sundress Publications, a radio host for Weekly Reader, and a blogger for The Rumpus. His fiction has appeared in Monkeybicycle, NANO Fiction, Midwestern Gothic, Little Fiction, and elsewhere. Find his work at Find his jokes at @goftyler.