Daniel R. Julian
THEY FOUND HIM underneath the house, in the crawl space, sleeping among the spiders, the pill bugs, and the cats. His sleeping bag smelled of mold and beer.
“Dad?” the youngest said.
He rolled over and opened his eyes.
“Have you been down here the whole time?” the oldest asked.
He blinked, but didn’t respond.
They crawled out and waved their neighbor over. He looked underneath, sighed, and shook his head. “He’ll come out when he’s ready.”
He wasn’t ready for four more years, and when he did finally pull himself out, his clothes had rotted away. He stood in the sunlight, shivering and laughing. The youngest tried to cover him with the welcome mat, while the oldest ran inside for clothing.
Daniel R. Julian was born in Tucson (though he tells people “south of Phoenix”), and he now lives and works in Spain. Some of his stories have appeared in Zetetic and Lunch Ticket, and a Spanish-language story was recently included in Intransferibles, a collection of poetry and flash fiction by authors in the Valencian Community. He is the editor-in-chief for Bull & Cross.