Brock Scholte

A man walked into a bar, but he couldn’t remember why. 

He stepped on a dingy floorboard, and it groaned under his weight. The bar went silent. Every gruff, unshaven face turned to interrogate his existence. They looked slightly past him. He turned, but nothing was there. By the time he turned back, they’d all lost interest. The din of shouting and chatter and betting and fighting had already overtaken him. Under all of it a jukebox faintly played Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? on an endless loop. 

Walking past the rabble, the man hunched over the bar. 

The bartender slid a short glass of something dark down to him. It was a squat creature, with a bald, pale head that somehow seemed to fold over itself. Its eyes were on either side of its head, with the unnerving quality of never looking in quite the same direction at once. 

Pushing the glass to his lips, the man took a sip. Rum. 

‘How did you–’ 

‘Always the same, always the same. Regular for a regular.’ The thing chortled to itself, absent-mindedly pouring a pint of beer. 

‘I’m sorry. A regular? I don’t remember–’ 

He cut himself off when he saw the creature smiling at him, or what passed for a smile, at least. It pointed at the farthest, darkest booth in the bar. 

‘Over there, over there.’ It handed him the pint. ‘Regular for a regular.’ 

Pint in hand, he hovered for a moment. 

‘Excuse me?’ he asked. ‘This is going to sound very strange and I hate to bother you, but… am I okay?’ 

Every patron in the bar erupted into a refrain:  


The creature just smiled. 

Giving up, he walked the pint over to the darkened booth. Its green, leather upholstery cracked at the corners like ancient skin, and the wood panelling here was deeper, darker than anywhere else in the bar. 

‘The bartender gave me this for you–’.  

He stopped. Sitting in the booth, alone, was a cockroach. A man-sized cockroach, wearing a trilby. It grabbed his hand, its face somehow smiling ecstatically. 

‘Ant! Lovely to see you again pal. I was getting worried I wouldn’t see your face here again!’ 


‘Sit down, sit down,’ the bug said, shuffling across and patting the empty seat. ‘And you’ve got my drink. Lovely, lovely. You must thank Danil for me.’ 

Not waiting, it leapt back along the seat, sticking its head round the corner and waving. 

The bartender waved back. 

‘Lovely guy is Danil, lovely. Absolutely. Are you going to sit down?’ 

It patted the seat again. 

The man wanted to walk away. He wanted to scream, actually. He wanted to yell, ‘can anyone tell me why there’s a massive bug talking to me?’ 

‘No way get fucked fuck off,’ he muttered to himself. 

The cockroach looked upset, so the man sat down. 

‘Did you call me… what did you call me?’ 

‘Ant?’ the cockroach repeated, confused. 

Ant looked at his hands. Fingers, knuckles, palms. 

‘I’m not an ant.’ 

‘Oh,’ said the cockroach. ‘Oh, it’s happening already. No, no, that’s your name. Well, a nickname rather. Anthony, your mother called you. Ant, I called you. A nickname.’ He smiled. 

‘So, I’m… not an ant,’ Ant continued. ‘And you’re… not a cockroach?’ 

‘No, I very much am a cockroach, friend. Eyesight still perfect, I see.’ It smiled. ‘No, much like you my name is not my species. Imagine if you were called Human. Posh! No, no. My name is Dogstep.’ 

The name felt like a memory, just at the edges of Ant’s mind. 

‘You,’ he said. ‘You’re the one who brings her back.’ 

The smile on Dogstep’s face was faint, faltering. 

‘Yes, buddy. I am him. But–‘ 

‘No buts. Do it.’ 

Ant pulled his hair away from the back of his neck. At the precipice of his spine there was a bright red pockmark. Dogstep eyed it uneasily. 

‘Are you going to let me say no?’ Dogstep asked, knowing the answer before he spoke. 


Dogstep sighed. From under the table it produced a long proboscis, and fastened it to its mouth with a twist and a pop! 

‘Ready?’ it asked, voice muffled and absurd. 

Ant didn’t respond, forehead pressed to the table. His whole world had become consumed with the image of a woman, and all else was darkness. He winced as Dogstep pierced his spine and began to suck. 


‘I can’t keep going like this,’ she said, arm over his shoulders. Her eyes were filled with tears but her face was set. ‘I don’t want to spend my whole life waiting for you to come home from the bar.’ 

Ant struggled for words. He always did. He scrabbled at the corners of his once-sharp mind, hoping to turn up at least a syllable from between the couch cushions. 

‘Don’t you have anything to say?’ 

‘I– I’ll quit. Not a drop more rum for me.’ He strained a smile, yellowed teeth like headstones in his gums. ‘Tomorrow.’ 

‘Oh, you’ll quit tomorrow? One more night, then. To say goodbye, I suppose?’ She stood. 

‘Why did he bring you back like this?’ Ant asked. 

‘What?’ she snapped. Seeing his genuine confusion, she softened. ‘Honey, are you alright?’ 

That was the worst thing about her. She never stopped loving him. 

‘I just wanted him to bring you back but we’re fighting! We’re always fighting, it’s always like this! Why can’t I just have one last happy memory with you?’ Ant broke down. Head in hands, he crouched, but the tears wouldn’t come. 

‘Oh, honey. I’m gone. You lost me.’ She smiled wanly. ‘You don’t get any more happiness.’ 

‘Can’t we just pretend, though? Can’t you give me that?’ 

She gestured around them. For the first time Ant noticed it was a perfect white void, with nothing but the two of them within. 

Hadn’t they been sitting on something? 

‘This is all you have left. You ruined it. You made this wasteland. Don’t blame me, or Dogstep.’ She looked tired. ‘What’s my name? Do you even remember?’ 

On his knees, Ant looked up at her.  

‘Forgive me.’ 

She looked away. 

‘Please, forgive me!’ he yelled. She looked back, and screamed: 



When he came to, he was exhausted. 

‘You’re tapped out, mate.’ Dogstep tapped his spinal column with the proboscis. ‘No more girlie for you. Hope it was worth it.’ 

Ant could only groan. His neck felt like someone smoked a menthol through it. 

He stood, wobbling. Dogstep caught his arm and looked him deep in the eye. 

‘Listen to me, Ant. It’s the last time I’ll tell ya. You gotta get out of this place. It’s no good for you.’ 


Ant needed this. He wanted this. 

‘Nice to meet, you, Dog…’ his tongue hovered over the name. ‘Dog…’ 

He trailed off. 

‘See you next time, Ant,’ Dogstep said, resigned. 

Ant wobbled back to the bar, plopping himself up on one of the seats. 

‘The regular for your regular, Danil!’ he announced. Danil slid a glass of rum over to him with a chortle. 

A floorboard groaned, and the bar went silent. Ant turned to look, but nothing was there. The din of shouting and chatter and betting and fighting resumed, and under it all a single song played on an endless loop. 

Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? 

Author: Brock is an experimental fiction writer based in Meanjin. His writing writhes in the gaps between weird and weirder, with an emphasis on eutopianism. He can be found at @scholteyyy on instagram or at

Artist: Cyndra Galea (she/they) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Fine Art’s in Creative Writing with a minor in Professional Communications. When not found with her head in a book or three, Cyndra can be found radioactive antique hunting, fixing classic cars with her dad, drawing on her iPad, or writing and editing her manuscript. Cyndra aims to work as a structural editor when she finishes her Masters of Editing and Publishing, but also dreams of releasing novels of their own.

Editors: Kelly Rouzbehi and Breeh Botsford