Frag Fiction

“These [20 new lines of the Babylonian-Era poem of gods, mortals, and monsters] come from Chapter Five of the epic and cast the main characters in a new light. Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu are shown to feel guilt over killing Humbaba, the guardian of the cedar forest, who is now seen as less a monster and more a king.” – “20 New Lines from The Epic of Gilgamesh Discovered in Iraq, Adding New Details to the Story,” Open Culture, October 5, 2015

Aquatic archaeologists earlier this year located, off the coast of Havana, the wrecked ship that had been transporting copies of the first edition of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha from Madrid to the New World. One of the severely waterlogged volumes recovered contains a passage in the Second Sally of the classic work explaining, in no uncertain terms, that the windmills believed by the protagonist to be “hulking giants... with their long arms... nigh two leagues in length” are, in fact, hulking mechanical automata left, in the last days of the Sixteenth Century, on the surface of the Spanish countryside by extraterrestrial visitors to Earth and programmed to guard certain items buried by the robots’ creators underground there. Those alien items were indeed unearthed and authenticated inadvertently in 1986 by developers (unimpeded by the windmills).

Officials from the French Board of Tourism performing a routine inspection of the Château d’If in the Frioul archipelago saw—scratched into the face of an interior wall of a private cell that Alexandre Dumas, pere, sometimes rented—a note indicating that his Musketeers Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan are each merely a figment of the others’ imaginations.

An Irish child frolicking in a heather field last spring came across a packet of 375 pages of text in James Joyce's longhand constituting an episode, meant to be included in Ulysses, in which Stephen Dedalus gets his hair cut. The new material shows the antihero and alter ego of the author to be a man who does not suffer from crippling tonsurephobia, something hinted at in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Recently discovered in a dead letter office in Rochester, Minnesota, an item dated November 1945 subscribed by Dr. Benjamin Spock and (mis)addressed to the editor of the third edition of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care reveals that a sidebar in Chapter 2 (“Returning Your Newborn for Credit at the Hospital Gift Shop”) was intended to be tongue-in-cheek.

A heretofore unregarded scrap of paper buried with Jane Austen, exhumed last month to settle a bar bet, demonstrates conclusively that a single word—“very”—belongs in the latter half of Chapter 47 of Pride and Prejudice, albeit adding nothing of consequence to the narrative. We mention it, however, in the interest of completeness and out of respect for Ms. Austen, may she rest in peace again soon.

NASA has confirmed that Mars rover Curiosity captured and relayed images of a message written in the sands of the Red Planet clearly reading “TOM SAWYER IS A JERK.”

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.