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American Zoology

by J. Bradley & S. Kay


A youth with a gun methodically targets students and teachers in his school. A cafeteria server is spared when she gives him pizza.



The arborist found the bullets hidden in the tree trunk. The swarm engulfs him. On TV, the arborist's partner begs for his safe return or his body, whichever comes first.



Screams fill a theatre as gunshots flash in the room. People die, and more are injured. Concession workers hide and eat candy, scared.



The medical examiner studied the wounds on the surfer’s right calf and side. She picked out fragments of lead coated teeth. “There is an armory in their mouths now,” the medical examiner said.



A man with an automatic rifle sets up on a multilevel mall escalator, shooting at crowds on floors below as he descends. Nobody looks up.



Muzzle flash. Muzzle flash. Muzzle flash. The dog park, a cemetery. Hide your dogs until winter, the anchorwoman says.



At a memorial parade, veterans scowl when a teen in fatigues opens fire on a drill team. Dozens of guns sights converge to destroy him.



The farmer articulates each of his straw men until their arms and stick fingers extend skyward. Yesterday, he found three of his farmhands and what little remained of their chests. He admired the groupings.



A 14-year-old girl buys a pistol to aim at a cop. She'll pretend to be deranged instead of getting help for depression.



One beaver holds back the police with covering fire while the other beavers pull the last of the levers. The city below waits to drown.


Dillon Aero

A family watches TV and hears a drive-by shooting smash a neighbor's window but don't look up from football. "Gangs," says one.



The first thing Mary saw when she came to was an alligator tail holding a gun. Mary got up from the riverbank. The alligator fired at her feet when Mary attempted to brush off the mud from her shirt.


“What do you want?”


The alligator pointed its gun at the mesh sack suspended from a tree branch. Mary walked over to the sack. Through the netting, Mary took inventory: a saw, a bottle of rye, and a note that read Your arm or your head.


Marlin Firearms

A tall, athletic woman listens to tunes through earbuds until a gun tickles her nose. A boy demands her smartphone. She complies.



The school swallowed its students after it heard a bouquet of gunshots. The adults pleaded for calm. The students dribbled out of the school after the all-clear signal sounded. The adults found the paper cups bleeding the last of their lemonade. They held up the paper cups, the sun filtering through the exit wounds.



Gunfire booms at a mass murder, so she runs faster into a state park, leaving mad civilization. Later, she reports a shooter in a cow mask.



Home invasion. A shot fired through the window. Two shots fired through the doorknob. We found the family tucked in, their teeth missing.



A black teen is shot by a white cop. Communities riot. After the demonstrations, a vigilante lynches the cop.



The webbing said “GET BACK IN THE HOUSE OR ELSE.” I almost suggested a correction until the gun sight grazed my eyebrow.


Smith & Wesson

Gun in each hand, she threatens to make a brain slushie. He refuses to stop watching her films but returns the Oscar gown.



The armadillo fed traffic into the guardrail, light poles, itself. The armadillo dropped the gun next to the bleeding little boy, his gnarled family. Save the last bullet for yourself.



A man hunts random strangers, shooting one on the sidewalk outside her house. Her cat is afraid of the noise. She soothes Fluffy. Again.



I didn’t feel the left hook between my shoulder blades. I was distracted by the salmon as they flailed above the river. The river roar muffled the crack of branch, the crush of leaves.


The bear caressed my ear with the barrel of its gun. The bear roared in a way that implied Hush, lie still, this will be over as fast as I want it to be.

Author's Note

The idea of American Zoology started with a conversation by two writers from two different countries who have never met in real life.


S. Kay @blueberrio 25 July 2015
It's hard to make gun violence funny. I don't think I've succeeded. Yet. #amwriting


J. Bradley @iheartfailure 25 July 2015
@blueberrio a bear (actual) holding a gun to a dude's temple.


Based on this Twitter exchange, J. Bradley sent a piece of flash fiction involving a bear holding a gun to a man's head to S. Kay. S. Kay thought it would be a good idea to use her microfiction focusing on human gun violence while J. wrote about animals, and through email, American Zoology was formed.

J. Bradley is the author of the forthcoming story collection The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016). He runs the Central Florida based reading series/micro-chapbook publisher There Will Be Words and lives at

S. Kay is the Canadian author of Reliant (tNY.Press Books, 2015), an apocalypse in tweets, and Joy (Maudlin House Press, due 2016), exploring multiple platforms. Follow her at @blueberrio and

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