Read an Excerpt from Justin Chrestman’s “Astronaut House,” Winner of the 2015 Annual Award in Fiction

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From “Astronaut House” by Justin Chrestman of Houston, TX, 2015 National Fiction Winner

Then suddenly it was like the world had stopped its spinning and left us going forward and I could hear the tires catching against the road gripping for grim life. The seatbelt held me like a strong arm as the cigarette flew from Bonnie’s mouth and exploded in sparks against the windshield. Nash had stopped right in the center of the highway. He unbuckled and got out of the car and stood in the road. He lifted up his pant leg and I saw a gun holstered to his ankle.

Bonnie looked out the rear window searching probably for the lights of the car that would at any minute come over the horizon and crash us into oblivion. Her long hands grabbed at her belly as though the baby might at any minute fly forward and out and away from her forever.

You’re doomed, Nash said. But he wasn’t talking to us. He aimed his pistol into the night. I expected to hear a loud bang but when he pulled the trigger there was just a whisper of sound. It looked real but it was only an air gun.

About this time Bonnie began to curse. Low words spoken so close they all wrecked into each other and became one big four letter pile up. Nash ran up the road and picked something up.

Before he got back in the car he threw the dead jackrabbit next to me in the back seat. It had a little bald spot on its head where the pellet must have hit. One of its legs twitched a bit but it was pretty dead.

Bonnie’s curses became louder.

It couldn’t be helped, Nash said. Nature is my sworn enemy.

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