The twelve stories in These Are Our Demands dip their toes into potential futures and alternate realities. The characters in Matthew Pitt’s stories are vivid and sassy, and the writing is otherworldly. This collection lures you in with the promise of comfort, and then pulls down the straps and sends you on an unexpected wild ride. The stories have an unrivaled originality that is bound to keep you reading till the las page.
In the namesake story, “These Are Our Demands,” a set of parents is worried when they get a call saying their children have been kidnapped. But, when they run to check on them they are all accounted for. The calls continue on for some time, but eventually the kids do, in fact, go missing. Things change, though, when the parents find out that the kids have actually run away. They send a list of demands that must be met in order for them to return, but after all the torture that they inflicted, their parents may not even want them back.
“Absolutely, I Remember You,” focuses in on a family unit who is adjusting to a fresh divorce. A kitten had recently joined their family, and, in an attempt to lure the children over more often, the father fights to keep him in the settlement. He makes the mistake of leaving the window open while he’s away on a business trip and Helsinki—the cat—is nowhere to be found when he returns. The kids are coming over, and he’s desperate not to disappoint them, so he runs all over the place to find a replacement cat that looks similar. When the kids don’t notice that Helsinki II is not Helsinki I, though, he comes to a firm conclusion about what to do with the imposter: “An original life. I think you’re owed that much.”
In one of the more otherworldly stories, “After the Jump,” an awful accident involving moonseeds begins to dry up all the water on earth. Some areas are allotted one community shower a week, but some only get them once a month . . . and the poorer countries may not get any water at all once their own natural resources are destroyed. This leads to the first criminal execution for smuggling water on the black market. The criminal begs the question: “Would not taking have been a larger crime?”
Matthew Pitt’s characters reside in a tiny universe that’s just real enough for us to relate to, but just far enough for us to engage in the imaginative aspects of the writing as well. There’s an ambiance to the stories that’s unlike any other collection; the pages open and out bursts moons, stars, planets, and dust. These Are Our Demands will linger in the mind long after the last page has been turned.