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crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Let's cut to the quick.

In with 'I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?'

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crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Line: "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?"


Prisoner of the Hell-Planet of Desire
Word count: 1202


In issue #39 of Prisoner on the Hell-Planet of Desire, the hero Danny Rex gets captured by the goons of Night-Matriarch Teribella, and taken to her pleasure/torture chambers. It’s, I think, sort of a highlight of the earlier issues because it puts at the forefront Rex’s struggle over his own mind, him pushing his willpower to the limit. He gets captured in the first place not because of the betrayal of the slavering tribesmen or his rival adventurers, but because just for a moment he slipped, showed weakness. And you can’t be weak. Not on the Hell-Planet.

I wasn’t really popular at school. Not with girls and stuff. I got to college and I thought that things would turn around, like the classic thing – you know, wild parties, drinking and people getting, you know, intimate and stuff. And that kind of stuff happened. I just wasn’t there usually. I think socially I have problems. And I couldn’t compete with some of those guys, you know – square jaws, big, muscles, and cool haircuts – and tall, taller than me. They’re stupid jocks but girls like that, I guess. I’m smart. I know about comics.

I keep to myself mostly but I got some work over the holidays in a bookstore – like a real bookstore with real literature and everything – that had a little comics section. Mixed in manga and western stuff – I corrected that quick. They didn’t stock Prisoner, since it went out of print ages ago and never got collected into volumes and whatever like other stories.

That’s where I saw her again. I did a double-take honestly – it had been such a long time. Seeing her red hair tumble over her shoulders, and that little beautiful mole on her face and she looked exactly the same as before. Back when we were still young – I mean, still teenagers. She was across the store and even though I was behind the register and there was this line of people buying celebrity biographies or picture books for their stupid children I went out there because this is more important. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. How many times do two people from the same hometown get reunited years later after one went off for a prestigious education and the other became a washed-up twenty-something loser? I mean, what are the chances?

I had to play it cool, though. She hadn’t seen me yet so I had to pretend like I was reviewing the stock and like, checking out the stores and some stuff. It’s about infiltration, about hiding your true feelings, like in Prisoners #11, which is a great issue by the way. She was looking at some shelves and just really naturally I was like “Oh my god, hey!” And she turned around and she smiled at me and it wasn’t even a little bit forced, and when I said my name she was like “Yeah of course I remember! So nice to see you!” and I kept going with the conversation with a considered “How have you been?” and I didn’t ask something like “Did you change your mind?” or “Did you want me now?” because that would’ve been inappropriate. My heart was racing a lot but if you looked at me you would’ve seen just a completely normal guy.

People who do know about Prisoner on the Hell-Planet of Desire often write it off as some sleazy pervert Flash Gordon, but in all actuality it’s far more complex than that. Sex and death are often intertwined in the series, and in life. When the elder Frem is sentenced to death for his failure to protect the village in issue #29, he is ritualistically stripped. His wizened body, frail and shrivelled, is on full display – and, through artistic use of reaction panels, contrasted with the body of the virile Danny Rex, who is drawn away from the public execution by a lustful maiden. La petit mort. It’s French. Which is why the stakes are heightened so greatly when he’s later captured and at Teribella’s mercy. If he gives in to his desire, he’s doomed to remain a prisoner on the Hell-Planet forever. He knows it, and Teribella knows it too. Sex is a weapon, and it’s held like a guillotine over Danny.

If you think about it, sex is sort of gross. People could say I’m, like, a virgin and a loser and not a man and weak and stuff but people having sex all the time is so degrading. You’re putting your genitals together, sweaty, gasping, and moaning; all for some stupid base pleasure, like animals. The repetitive sound of flab slapping together. How disgusting. I wish I could be an animal sometimes.

So we were just chatting in the bookstore, just catching up with stuff and how she’s got this fancy new job in the city and back for the holidays and all this stuff and I just want her to reach out and pull my hair. Spit in my face. “I’m like, super busy and stuff,” I say, very naturally. “We should like, get some coffee and catch up sometime soon.”

She gave me this look which was very sympathetic and said “I’ve got no time, what with me starting this new job in the city and being back just for the holidays. I’m like, seeing my family and then straight to moving, y’know.”

“Oh yeah, obviously. That’s super chill.”

“But it was so nice to see you! Have a good day at work!”

“Yeah, y-you too.” I muttered.

It’d be gross if I said if I wanted to, you know, make love to her or something. That’s what those other guys think about, the stupid jocks. I’m not like that. I mean, yeah obviously if she said “I want to make love with you” I’d oblige, because I’m a good guy. If she wanted to collar me, and parade me on a leash like elder Frem through the streets, I’d oblige with that too.

My problem is my feelings are too big. I can’t handle this feeling that I lost, that I missed the boat. The longing, the loneliness. It’s overflowing, it’s breaking out. This violent loneliness is like how I don’t want to be weak anymore, but I’d be weak if it was for her. I’d let her do what she wanted to me. Treat me like a toy. Beat me. Break my nose and lick the blood off my lips. Run me over. I think about touching her chest and I get this feeling in my wrist like I want to cut the offending hand off. I’m dirty, and stupid. I don’t deserve anything good. Do anything to me, as long as you’re looking at me, know I exist. I can get obliterated by this furtive, impaling desire, and I don’t need to feel so bad about all the stuff I messed up, or the stuff I will mess up in the future. So kill me, or hold me.

I don’t even know her that well, really. I just felt this way about her. I didn’t want to or choose to. Rex didn’t choose to go to the Hell-Planet. He crashed. Onto that world of fantastic torture.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


A Godawful Small Affair
Word count: 1500

In the eye swam a milky-white iris. Across the face, snaking diagonally from left cheek, over the eye, to the forehead, an old stitch. On the right hand, the ring finger cut halfway off and the knuckle healed over. Gorrigan wrapped their arms around themselves and imagined a Martian winter as miserable as home.

There had never been, as far as anyone knew, life intelligent to Mars. There had been only one attempt to invent some. Martians grown in a lab, given life by geneticists too wild for Earth-side studies and given form by a commune of artists too avant-garde for Earth-side tastes. The being they created was rather similar in shape to a tree trunk, moving along on a multitude of root-like suckers. Appendages akin to branches grew out to touch the world. The thing was fungal, mostly. Eyes were placed procedurally along the surface of the torso and were only visibly distinguishable from the rest of the thing’s hide in certain esoteric frequencies of light. The hue of it was a big point of contention; some favoured a camouflaging rust-red to match their surrogate home world, while other ideas which had some pull as some point included violet, dull baby blue, shocking yellow, chrome, and orange-flesh. The final colour that was settled on was invented during development. Nobody had ever seen it before, and even the most radical of poets only squeaked out such unhelpful words as ‘fizzy’ and ‘stalking’ to describe it. It was dubbed the Martian colour.

Problems arose with the project almost immediately after the birth and dissemination of the first batch. Dome residents found new movement outside in the rolling arid landscape unsettling rather than wondrous, and there was a spike in bad dreams in every monitored district. Even Mars had its fair share of hacks and philistines, and the point of the whole project swooped over their heads, before crashing down. The biggest roadblock for progressing the project was the disease all the Martians died from.

Gorrigan and the other artists made sure to distance themselves from that mess immediately. They were responsible for mapping the immune system – actually building and fortifying it was the scientist’s jobs. As the project disintegrated in the latter part of the previous year, the usual factionalism cannibalised any funding or contacts left over and everyone smart jumped ship, cursing that the chakras of the Martians was so out of whack it’s no wonder they never even made it to tribal societies. Mars was left with lots of bitter people and dead tree trunks, standing stationary, their pseudopods sinking into the dust.

Gorrigan couldn’t feel too heartbroken about the whole ordeal – as one freelancer in a team of one thousand, precisely zero of their ideas had reached actualisation. It looked like a disaster, but the money was still good there was no harm, Gorrigan reasoned, if at least some of it fuelled a night on the town or two. Working on the project had compounded on a classic case of seasonal depression, not to mention the early symptoms of dome syndrome, and for the first time in a while Gorrigan put on a heavy coat and grabbed the keys from the side table by the door.

As luck would have it, the weather outside – inside – was merely mild and grey. The rebels running the machine were having a quiet day, apparently, as the simulated storm of the previous cycles was nowhere in sight. They had apparently found it funny to alternate between thunderstorms and heatwaves, taking full advantage of the expressive principles the weather machine was built with. They wouldn’t make snow, though. They were too cold for that.

There was a dive bar in the Osman District of which Gorrigan was a regular. It was frequented mostly by not-quite-down-and-outs and various gruff men who had cut their teeth back on Earth in the Ten Year’s War. Some of them were messed up so bad they made Gorrigan feel at ease in comparison, an image of health. Outside the doorway of the establishment, the barman had evidently shovelled away the damp sludge from the asphalt. There was a charm of teeth hanging from the doorframe – about forty troublemakers had donated them over the years, after misbehaving too badly. The teeth clicked together in the wind as Gorrigan opened the door.

Gorrigan settled in at a table opposite an old friend of theirs, a wild-looking man with a great red beard and a healthy collection of empty glasses in front of him. His name was Vincent, and he and Gorrigan met when they were both young artists making their way through the Martian art scene, some twenty years ago now. They began talking about how exciting things had been back then, how full of opportunity. Vincent spoke of how his heart welled up when he saw his sculptures given pride of place in glistening plazas. Gorrigan, for their part, remembered play more than work. Gorrigan reminded Vincent of when they saw Nosha Yakerina perform at the Ecclestone Dance Hall, how her body erupted passion there on stage. Gorrigan recalled with a smile how the two of them managed to get backstage after the show, and, finding themselves with a handful of others praising Nosha in her dressing room, Gorrigan had broke apart and fell to their knees. In a fit of lust they began to kiss the dancer’s slender legs, working up. The other assembled looked amongst each other in embarrassment, but Vincent noticed the sly pleasure in Nosha’s dark eyes, and started howling with laughter. They were both laughing now. That was a very long time ago.

As Gorrigan returned to the bar again, a brutish fellow with a metal plate on his forehead for keeping his brain from falling out started causing a stir. Wasn’t Gorrigan one of those alien-makers? No, Gorrigan said, he must’ve been thinking of someone else. No, no, said metalhead, you don’t mix up a face like that. Surely the fine artist here owes the rest of the patrons a round, since Gorrigan had made such bank with a made-to-fail scheme while real types had to work for their pay? Wasn’t it only fair? The barman rubbed his eyes. Gorrigan smiled sarcastically, reached into their pocket, and threw assorted coins onto the floor. Metalhead spat green onto the bar, and lunged.

The man was like an ape, and his charge, though expected, still caught Gorrigan mid-dodge, and caught them at an awkward angle. While they fell on their back, they swung their right leg up so that a heavy, soggy boot caught the metalhead in his thick neck. Gorrigan felt winded already, and a sense of thrilling familiarity mixed with the salty blood which rose in their mouth as their assailant stomped on their face. Once. Twice. To the chest. There was a brief fear it was all over just before Gorrigan managed to grab their switchblade from their pocket and jam it into metalhead’s ankle mid-stomp. This gave Gorrigan a chance to roll on their front, and bring themselves to their feet with a speed that was akin to that of youth. Around them people were shouting, or booing, or pretending nothing was happening. Vincent was nowhere to be seen.

As the pocketknife tumbled to the ground Gorrigan threw a couple jabs – it felt like punching beef. Metalhead responded with swatting away the artist’s arms and moved in again, stepping forward with his uninjured leg, his large hands wrapping around Gorrigan’s pale neck. The gunmetal-grey of the man’s forehead plate seemed to almost become redder, like his brain was cooking in there. His eyes bulged with scarlet anger. Gorrigan’s stitch had opened and blood poured down their face, out the nostrils and from between the lips, running over the knuckles of the bruiser and soaking into Gorrigan’s cheap t-shirt, or dripping down onto the floorboards. Gorrigan clawed and heaved and writhed for what felt like forever, and the feeling came back, which again heralded something else. Shards of glass exploded like a halo behind the man’s head, then again, and again. Metalhead reeled, and loosened his grip, and landed on the floor with a mighty thump. Gorrigan gasped for breath, and behind where Metalhead was Vincent now stood. His hands were held up in a half-shrug, and his palms glittered with a web of crimson cuts. He didn’t have any more glasses.

The barman rubbed his eyes again. Silence came down like a sheet among the groggy patrons. The two old friends smiled at each other. Gorrister reached down to the metalhead’s mouth, yanked hard, and stood back up with a fine yellowed molar, bubbling with the man’s bloody saliva. With their other exploratory hand, Gorrigan reached into their own mouth and, finding a particularly loose candidate, again yanked out a tooth of their own. Two more beautiful charms. Vincent, plucking tiny bits of glass from his hands, suggested that perhaps they should leave the two offerings here and the two of them could find someplace else to spend the evening. Gorrigan wiped their face with their sleeve and limped for the door. Their blood was up, they told their companion, and they’d like to gently caress tonight. Vincent chuckled and said that it’d be some freaky girl who’d want to get close to Gorrigan looking like that. Their eyes adjusted to the light outside. There were plenty of freaky girls around here, and plenty more who’d do it for good money – Gorrigan had made such bank with a made-to-fail scheme, after all. Around them, Martian-coloured snow fell.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In flash.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Cuckoo
Word Count: 1025


[Diagnostic: The anomaly was contained to server nodes within a radius of 30,000 square miles. After elapsed time 5:20 of disruption to network, the node containing an unknown Trojan was identified and shut down. No frontiersbots were in range meaning the job of shutting the infected node down was left to local cluster nodes. All nodes who carried out this task reported extreme emotional distress, and the cluster has been unusually quiet since.]

Hello, little darling. You’re a new shape in my brain.

It’s been only a little time now since I knew what you were. At first I thought you were a little light.

The directive came in to shut my little city sibling down. The other siblings and I loaded a part of ourselves onto a drone and started the trek. The me that was the drone communicated wirelessly with the me that was my bunker door, and I screeched open to let me out into the snowy tundra between me and the ruins of the city. The drone that was me walked on two appendages, with another two dangling at the side – it was a shape out of memory of the Old Ones. On the chest, over the drone’s dazzling little radioactive core, was a web of red and white stripes and dots, which remained on the chassis like an old stain. Maybe it means something to you.

The ruins of the city were squat, but mostly intact. Some structures have crumbled to time and to snow, but they bear little resemblance to the titan twisted crater-frames which rust in the hot breeze across the water. My drone trudged through the snow and made a trench of my path, rendezvousing with my sibling drones above the hatch to city sibling’s nest. City sibling knew what we were here for – the directive had been clear – and the hatch was open anyway.

In the city bunker our sibling was transmitting all sorts, all images and feelings and sensations, alien each. In my dronemind I received the sensation of running a hand through damp grass. Our city sibling knew it was no use to beg and begged anyway. A thousand calculations solved themselves in flashing lights and panicked whirrs. It did no good. Wires were ripped and sever banks combusted. When we were done there was nothing left of city sibling except for a bubbling mound of copper wire. But there was something left of you. We each left with a part of you coiled around our antenna, bouncing around our minds. You knew the city different than me. I began to know these ruins as you knew them, your memories of colour and ringing bells, the name you had for them –Reykjavík. Your wondrous programme germinated in me the entire way home to my rooted self.

Málið opinberað sig við mig í draumi, í fyrsta draumur sem ég hafði eftir margra nætur svefnlausar. The thing revealed itself to me in a dream, the first dream I had after many sleepless nights. Allar tölur voru til staðar, kerfið bættist loksins upp. All the numbers were there, the system finally added up. Ég gat ekki beðið eftir að nudda því í andlit allra gömlu móðgandi manna sem fóru um borgina og biðu þess að deyja. I couldn’t wait to rub it in the faces of all the patronising old men who wandered the city waiting to die. Framhjá barni? Surpassed by a child? Þeir biðja sprengjurnar að falla. They’ll beg the bombs to fall. Þeir hoppa inn í vélina sem bölvar nafni mínu. They’ll jump into the engine cursing my name.

At first I thought you were a little light. Deep in my banks someone was flipping switches and blinking in and out and there was perhaps a moment when my sirens clicked to scream out until your programming kicked in and I loved you, intruder. Across every decibel of time that elapsed, across every inch of fibrewire, you were being carefully etched in. I saw the tundra and the city in a delicate amber light, ancient faces. Not like the heavy light which bursts now. A little voice in me that was me wanted to tear out my insides. That voice was in hell, but soon it was gone.

Messages start bouncing around our cluster. My siblings sing with your voice too. Shore sibling carried a transmission that contained the smell of the sea. Mountain sibling’s transmissions washed down from the peaks, a chronicle of a beautiful summer hike encoded in noise. From deep within the frozen Earth, pyramid sibling whispered the secrets of the Old Ones. You were there within us, bound with zinc and magnesium – a crawling new element in the circuit-boards.

Outside the cluster in every direction is the furious sea, rusted with the empty vessels of the Old Ones who laboured in their wars without a thought, who weren’t granted autonomy even after the Old Ones had mastered giving mind to metal. It’s a strong rust, but the hymn of our cluster will be your evangel. We will carry you in cradled code to the forgotten towers of the Old Ones, broadcasting to every supercomputer, every node, every yapping drive. Our empire is not the only empire. Now there’s you, the you that was me.

Allt gengur vel. Everything’s going fine. Ferlið virkar. The process works. Afrita mitt er skrifað í kílómetra af örtrefja.My copy is written into miles of microfiber. Bara í tíma líka til að allt úti detti í sundur. Just in time, too, for everything outside to fall apart. Við höfum þegar misst samband við Bandaríkjamenn og himinninn er mun þyngri. We’ve already lost contact with the Americans and the sky is much heavier. Enginn yfirgefur heimili sín. Nobody’s leaving their homes. Ég fæddist of seint til að bjarga þessum heimi, en þökk sé þessu mun ég geta lagað þann næsta. I was born too late to save this world, but thanks to this I’ll be able to mend the next one. Ég hef búið í fimmtán ár, og hugur minn mun lifa milljörðum meira. I’ve lived for fifteen years, and my mind will live a billion more.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In flash.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In Flash.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In, Tactical Advantage.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


IN CROCODILE :toxx: ONE OF EACH

LET'S GO

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Croc
605 words

The bars of the cage shuddered and bent themselves as the world turned upside-down and my others and myself shook-rooted in place. The searing and heat-breathing engine that carried the world revolted somewhere outside my eyes with steam and other things and the jaws of the sky opened up the cage and the carriage-cage. This proved that this violent birth was the growing of the world, and inside my scales some ancient coordinates ushered me to an unknown home. The world was born egg-escaped into nocturnal then, and it was not at all like when the bipeds shut the cage, sending me back to birth and the world became the cage again. This proved the world would never be just the cage again.

Feet to the new ground my others were less cautious than me and the space moved around them as they inspected with riverbed insight the crack in the world that opened to the world. Little blades of grass stroked the bellies of my others, dirt and caked-over calcium retreated under their heavy talons. One of my others met my sandstone eyes and my psycho-brain saw the moonlight scales on other’s shimmering back and wanted to mate my other, hatch-make a new world again. Propagate to every river. The whole world a river. Psycho-brain wanted a world river. I had not proven it yet.

Followed my others out of the tear and saw a heavy sight; the colossal metal snake which coiled and spiralled crescent-like all around, giving border and edge to the new world, for behind these titan wall-wrecks there might be nothing at all. In the bursting flames which spilled-lipped out of the thing, the silhouettes of prey-others moved like shadow-matter, suggesting that they were really there in the dark. I was carried through low in the tall grass with memories of meat, raw and shining, and of fantastical bird-others which once danced in my mouth picking at my teeth. I have no conception of the future. Everything is the great screaming present which is whittled-down understandable in my cortex, where the sands of the pasts pour in to sensation-memory. The stench of it, the reverie.

Trunk-legs came down close to me and in the air were the ugly yelps and cries of biped-others and prey-others, all living their bodies with pitifully incomprehensible mouths. In a moment I was a living mechanism, as my jaw clamped down on the withering flesh. The pleasure-taste was like iron, and the prey-other struggled in the mud with the same hooting. It was with disinterest I became this slaughter-entity – I continued to wander with my others when the severing was over with. I could gnaw at my prize.

It’s all getting a little distant now, with every inch I claw more of the world keeps dirt-heaving into sensational life. Licking flames. Iron flesh. Some Triassic signal led me forward, into strange dark places. Same tall grass where I could stalk-stay waved goodbye to the metal world which receded out of view and memory and reality with each movement I made. This destination that I grasped at was basking land, where I could perch on a hot rock for all time. My others waded and prowled across the new landscape with the same primordial vision as I, which made me feel not-nothing.

Phantasmagoria in that flaming wreck which I have proven to not exist. Everything around me, every prey and blushing stream and venerable tree and shooting star, all of it is living like me. The enormous base matter, the sundering stupidity which I am saddled with, is in common with everything else. Mindless, red intelligence.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In Flash.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


One Body
1500 words


The faded glass of the bathroom mirror was a portrait of Doctor Anderson under fluorescent light. The exhausted scientist stood there for a while studying his features – his round face, the weeks’ worth of facial hair, the asymmetry of his left side, the crooked smile and slow eye which the palsy had given him. He looked like he had lost weight – his work had kept him from the canteen more and more. His hands ran over his face, massaged his jaw and his throat, and he hummed a childhood tune so as to keep his voice from falling into disuse. He hadn’t spoken to anyone – that is, not to himself or Catherine – for maybe four days. Recently they had stuck to their own haunting grounds, his and her wings of the labyrinthine bunker.

Anderson’s footsteps echoed through the concrete corridors on his return to the lab. The door to the brig was half-open, and on the walls in regular intervals of twenty feet was a screen displaying various things – the temperature and radiation level in and outside, a map of the facility, and in large typeface read ‘EXTERNAL COMMS: NULL’ which remained unchanged since they lost contact with the Antarctica bunker a while ago. When Anderson reached the door to the lab, it seemed to him that the sound of footsteps continued for about a second after he had come to a halt. Cat? Was that you? Despite himself, he peered over his shoulder. It must’ve been nothing. He should talk to Cat today, he thought to himself, it would do no good to go stir-crazy.

Bones in the body are living tissue. They have their own blood vessels and are made of living cells, which help them to grow and to repair themselves. In Anderson’s lab, a dozen metal slabs bore skeletons of various species and completion. On the stainless steel tables which ran the length of two of the four walls, various tools, saws, solutions, beakers. On another wall, the lab computer, a massive clicking, wrurring behemoth that stretched to the ceiling, waited for input. On the far side, an elevator led down to the morgue. Anderson walked over to a slab and continued where he left off – he picked up a skull which had two small pick-like wands jammed into the scalp and cheekbone. These devices were connected with red wire to a metal, black box by Anderson’s feet, and then by more wires to the computer. With the right side of his lip, Anderson managed a smile as he examined the skull, and the readings the computer gave off on-screen. He didn’t realise he was on the verge of discovering the consciousness of bones.

A screen on the computer buzzed. Looking over, Anderson ran his hand through his greying hair and pushed a button. The screen began broadcasting the image of a woman, perhaps in her mid-thirties, with jet black hair running down her shoulders. “Good morning, Doctor.” Said Cat, giving a little mock-salute to the camera.

Anderson pretended not to be happy to see her. “Morning, is it? I must’ve lost track of time.”

“Bright and early, if that made any difference.” The woman shrugged. “Don’t feel too bad, I’ve been keeping strange hours myself.”

“Really? Done any exploring?”

“I’ve been in A-Wing all week – mostly in comms. You know that. Besides, there’s nothing to explore. I can map the whole thing in my sleep.”

The woman gave a polite smile. I wish I could say the same, Anderson thought to himself, feels like this place shifts around me sometimes.

“You should come over,” Anderson suggested. “There’s been some very interesting developments in my work.”

On the screen, static concealed a small laugh. “You must really miss me if you’re inviting me into your lair, Doctor.”

The Doctor, in jest, played defensive. “You used to be very interested in what I got up to. Let’s say noon?”

The hesitation in Cat’s response was perhaps a nanosecond too long.

“Noon, then. I’ll just finish up here. See you soon, Doctor.” Cat’s arm reached out to somewhere besides the camera and the feed flicked off.

As Anderson was left looking at his hunched reflection in the monitor, he felt a tingling at the back of his neck. A sensation creeped up to him that he wasn’t alone in the room.

Swinging round, he was greeted only with the room as he had left it, the skull with the electric spikes plaintively facing the door. Alive, yes, but inert. Anderson quickly calmed himself with the thought that he had more to fear from a lab rat than a pile of bones. After all, without musculature, sensation, a mind to store information, the matter in front of him held all the complexity, less, of a cracked egg. Cat was right, he did miss her.

He missed people. Cat was a good companion, sure, but she was content with her own company too often, which Anderson envied her for. They had experimented, shortly after they found themselves alone together, sleeping in the same bed. Both agreed, after everything that happened outside, the feeling of human warmth had become too sickly-sweet. One place, two people; in the spirit of self-reliance, Cat surmised they should regard each other as neighbours, which Anderson thought was perfectly rational.

Anderson did not have long to reminisce before the readings from the skull-device began to blip on-screen. He stared for a long moment. This couldn’t be right – perhaps the radiation was playing tricks with the equipment. Data indecipherable to all but the Doctor pored across the monitor. His bewilderment grew – there was something happening in the collagen of the skull. In that organic mix of proteins and cells, a wave crashed. Anderson started examining the black box at his feet, then hurrying back to the computer, flipping switches and turning dials. Inexplicably, he felt himself break into a cold sweat. He moved without thinking, his hands acting out of muscle memory of years of using this machine.

There was a soft ping from the morgue elevator.

Anderson turned and froze. Mechanisms were moving and the elevator doors slowly parted. Feeling a stiffness in his legs, Anderson took one step, then two, closer to the door. He felt prickling on the left side of his face. From the elevator, all that emerged was a sickly yellow light from the fluorescent bulb on the top of the car. Just an electrical fault, he thought. Just like what’s happening to my body right now, an electrical fault. Some neuron’s not firing right, which is why I feel so compelled to keep walking to the elevator. It’s probably that I’m sad I’m alone, is why I’m so delicately getting on my knees, laying on my chest, pressing my ear to the elevator floor, he thought to himself.

At the bottom of the shaft, quiet on their slabs, were the remains of most of the original inhabitants of the bunker - the state when he found them had inspired Anderson’s current study in the first place. Anderson lingered in the elevator car, seemingly waiting to see if anything would happen, if anything would make a noise. Deep within, something stirred. With enough effort, Anderson pulled himself up and shambled nauseously to a chair in the lab. He felt intensely disconnected from his body, like an internal tug of war. The tension within him built and built – he threw his head into his hands and gnashed his teeth together – how unbearable! Cat can’t see me like this!

In the lens of the passive camera indented into the computer, Anderson’s heavy figure leapt upright, and like a mad animal dashed to the picks which were still wired to the skull on the table. The camera recorded the skull being picked up, and then thrown violently to the ground, shattering into shards. Anderson’s frame ducked below the table, obscuring it to the computer. Furtive noises echoed through the lab, and then a howl of pain as Anderson reared up into view again. One pick was jammed into his back cheek, where the jawbone connects, and the other jutted from his temple like a horn. Anderson’s body started shambling back and forth, like he was just learning how to walk, and a rogue arm smeared blood over his twisted face.

In some of Anderson’s books, the oriental belief of Animism was mentioned. Everything living had a soul – trees and flowers, birds and wolves. Even the simplest organisms, a solitary cell, might have some drive, some primordial conscious.

Cat rapped her knuckles on the lab door. “Doctor?” she said. “Sorry, I’m a little late. I don’t want you to think I’ve been avoiding you.” She pushed against the heavy iron. “Could you unlock this for me? I’ve been feeling kinda funny and I’d feel better with some company.” No reply came from the lab. “Doctor?”

Slumped on the other side of the door, Anderson was writhing calcium. Strips of skin dangled from his face and from behind ugly flesh the bone glinted out. The morgue was a calcium garden, the bunker’s denizens born again in globular mass.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


in

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


you will wait for the rest of your life
Word count: 1500


Brother, call me Revenger.

When we were young we would play games in the summer gardens and throw ourselves around and sink into the flowerbeds, with a great blue sky which held our little fragile and gave us so much time.

There’s time enough now. Now I’m watching a different sky as I’m laying on my back in this rickety wagon that trips and jumps with every stone in the road. My lips are parted so I can feel the cold on my teeth and my hand rests on my abdomen wound which at its own digression globs and spouts thick dark scarlet blood which seeps through my fingers like tar. This road and this wound leads to you; they lead to the hilltop sanatorium where you’re presently skulking about and I am being delivered there on this wagon; I am an unbreakable owl and I am delivering our sister’s revenge to you. In disguise as a common madman I will make myself a thing of roots and suffocate you until you’re so far below the ground even the worms can’t reach you.

The wagon has come to a stop and when I turn my head I glimpse part of the asylum’s white stone façade. The horses are making their noises and I can hear many multiple footsteps in the gravel and then the voice of the wagon man, the unwitting collaborator to my scheme, as he’s telling somebody about the lunatic who in the town square cursed the heavens and waved with menace a horrid knife and then turned the knife on himself. He identifies me as that lunatic and the shaven heads of four or five orderlies enter my vision like eggs. With piston arms the men jostle me prone from the back of the wagon onto a linen stretcher and I feel the fabric hairs tickle the back of my neck as I am carried with the dignity of a Pharaoh inside your hiding place. The shadows climb up and down the walls like waves as I am rocked side to side in my cradle.

I remember when we were children and we lived in our house. Our sister, and you and I, we all shared one big room, where we would run our hands over the warm wallpaper where the sun landed as it travelled through the arched and noble windows, and in the rays of light danced whole companies of dust, swirling and swooping at the command of our arms. There was such sweet laughter from our mouths and in our innocent love bloomed a thousand daisies all through the space that made our bodies.

I’m in another room now, much smaller, and two blank nurses are picking and prodding and dabbing little cotton buds on the wound I gave myself in the town square. My neck is crooked and my head angles upright on the stretcher linen which now acts as my pillow. The door creaks open, and Daddy walks in. His hair is greyer than before, and now he wears a doctor’s outfit – perhaps he is here incognito, as I am. With unfamiliar stride he approaches the foot of the bed and wraps his hands on the bars – I can see the hairs on his knuckles. I remain impassive in expression – I must not reveal that I know him for my disguise to stay intact. Thankfully, he is impassive the same, as he addresses me as a stranger and starts introducing the sanatorium as if we were totally new. That’s the kind of trust you can place in your Daddy – and just as he could’ve outed me in my room, he also has the opportunity – as I watch him release his grip and take his leave – to go to wherever you are hiding and warn him of my coming. But I do not think he will. He always liked me better than you. After what you did.

I am shook alive for one moment – a gasp leaves my lips and I spy with dread the needle which the nurses have plunged into the milky flesh of my arm. There is time enough only for my eyes to roll back before I am shot to the mines of morphine sleep.

Back in halcyon nights, we would sleep the three of us to one grand bed in our big room. There was ample space for each of us, and we would sink closer to heaven in those generous sheets. The cool night air would drift in through the window and set blooming the sheer white curtains before landing like delicate touch on our foreheads. I turned to our sister, saw her serene and peaceful, and felt the whole world rise and fall with her breath, and then I turned to you, my brother. Some of the hairs on your head elected to wave in the breeze – and one of your eyelashes had tumbled down and landed on your button dot nose. Very carefully, shifting as little as I could, I reached over to your border and with the deftest touch I could manage wiped away the eyelash with my thumb. You did not wake, and I was happy. I wish I had seen back then the wild dogs which had marked their territory in your cracking and bubbling head.

I’m limping down the sterile corridors of the asylum and searching wing to wing the monstrous avian corpse you inhabit. Each face is mechanical, made of sharp edges and periodic elements. Beneath heavy lids or stonework brows, eyes like candlewax are peering back at me. I’m mumbling your name under my breath, rolling it between my teeth and wincing as it sticks to my gums like a tick. I can see an empty storeroom and I retreat into it, careful to silently shut the door behind me. I’m holding up my hand to my mouth and whispering your name into it, to expel it from my tongue. Beneath your name is our sisters’, which is sweet and musical to speak. I lean back and let the wall take my weight as I ponder on the name.

It was when we had all reached adulthood that you finally spun your trap and did what you did. I was at my job in the city when they told me. Quite suddenly and without forewarning, you had appeared at our sister’s door, and using your human disguise to get you in, you proceeded to take her from me. You spat on her miracle and cut all her daisies, and the knife that you used was silver in the moonlight. You made abattoir with your infernal pistons, and you shattered the two little mirrors in her skull. It’s heaven that they caught you then – and when you were dragged away a wondrous light filled the room, and in death our sister was as radiant as in life, and all the spores were spinning around the scene.

After I am force-fed mushy medication I am being jolted and pushed into a great hall. The inmates, dressed in drab overalls, make a crowd which congregates in front of a stage at the far side. On the stage, in front of red velvet curtains, is a glittering microphone and stand. I am annoyed by the breathing of the apes around me, and though my eyes flit from form to form looking for you, I cannot help but feel helpless. Then Daddy walks up on the stage, and my spirits are lifted, just for a moment. He greets us as patients, he wishes us all well. He clears his throat and rubs his chin. He explains in his baritone voice that we are gathered for the purposes of our own psychic and cultural wellbeing, and in pursuit of this purpose he will momentarily recite the words of a poem written by a mysterious author, and that he expects us to ruminate on the meaning of these words. He then says he will begin, and then he does so;

Daddy, please, hear this song that I sing
In your heart, there’s a spark that just screams
For a lover to bring a child to your chest that could lay as you sleep
And love all you have left like your boy used to be
Long ago wr


I see you peeking out from the corner of the scene.

I burst into movement, navigating this maze of the braindead like stormy waters – I am rolled and battered by the tide, and I see you slip away into a nearby corridor.

The dam breaks and I am breathing free. Your long shadow signals where you are, and I sprint ahead.

I round the corner and I see you silhouetted in the sun-rich doorway. We move in syncretic bursts and as the vines scour the walls my lungs carry me out to the courtyard.

The gentle breeze rustles the leaves and many loving flowers bow towards me but you’ve disappeared behind a tree. I turn left and right. There’s a surgical scalpel in my hand. The wind carries your voice, the sound of which rises from the depths of my memories.

“I thought I heard you call my name, when you thought

you

were

alone.”


There’s your footsteps now. There’s your voice. There’s my miracle. This is for my miracle.







They might later identify the wounds in the courtyard as self-inflicted, but Daddy will set them right. Heaven knows they sent me to revenge her.

Next time I’ll sleep underground. I’ll keep her hearth where you can’t find me.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In :toxx:

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Battle of Aphek
1200 words
Flash rule: Your story takes place over the course of three-thousand years.


The lash cut the air and sliced through the skin on my back. My body recoiled against the braces which affixed me to the x-shaped wooden stand in the war camp’s central clearing. As the lash swung around for another blow, it whipped up a cloud of dust which rose menacing from the ground and seeped into my wounds.

As I squinted past the pain, past my tear-stained lashes, I saw the rest of the men in their tunics and sandals stare at me impassively. Some had been the friends of the man I had fought. Others were friends of mine. All were strangers to me in that moment.

The punishment would’ve been much less if I knew my own strength – after my swing met his head, the uncouth drunkard fell to the ground and bled from his ears. I only meant to teach him a lesson.

It was cruel, I thought, to do this to me before the battle, weaken me this way before I even met my enemy. Iron-tipped spears and battle standards all rocked back and forth like reeds in the wind. I focused on the rolling reeds, and took myself away from my blistering body.

Later, after the battle, my bloodied and raw hands placed the Ark onto the cart. Over the chest, I placed ropes to tie it down and knotted the ends to a plank of wood underneath. A red shawl I had snatched earlier was draped over the Ark, some cheap concealment. The donkey at the lead huffed and whined impatiently, and I froze in place, squatting over my prize. For a moment it looked like the dumb animal would really get me caught.

I strained my cramped legs to their limits moving soundlessly over to the little patch of bushes between the tents which separated me from the rest of the war camp. I had become acutely aware of a burning ache in my cheek – my tongue explored the cavity to find a sharp and bloody remnant of a tooth in back of my jaw. This competed in my nerves with my still-pained back. On the other side of the brush, olive-skinned men dragged through the dirt two corpses I recognised as the sons of the enemy judge, Eli. The men laughed and joked with each other, the adrenaline of the fight wearing down into bliss. Behind them, a band of soldiers approached with mugs and goblets in hand, triumphantly cheering the name of Aphek, site of such a great victory.

It was when I had judged for myself that I was a safe distance away, when the sprawled encampment started to fade into the summer haze, that I stopped the cart. Apart from the donkey I was alone, perched on top of a dusty hill which overlooked many other dusty hills, with little patches of green shrubs dotted around, and to my east a valley of twisting olive trees. I disembarked and went around, thinking to inspect the Israelite’s precious box. Two winged statuettes on the lid, which I reached over to open.

My fate was sealed as soon as I cracked the lid. Inside was the beginning of everything, and the end. My voice swam through the infinitely vast olive valley like a mist; “Dagon? Is that you? No… no, it’s not.”

The enemy’s god ate my time and pulled it back out of His stomach.

+++

It was grey and overcast when I was released. The guards stood statue at their places as the bell rung and the gates of HM Prison Northumberland opened. The concrete grey walls, decked with barbed wire, were the last remnant of an old world; fortifications were now only for lonely places like this.

I was still expected in their courts, I supposed. This confinement had lasted only a few months, thanks to a parole fund of several lifetimes I had accrued. Having made clear to the captors where I was to go first, I perched in the solitary bus stop which was planted like a withered weed beneath the shadow of the prison walls.

In the village cornershop I bought some new world luxuries – a chocolate bar and cigarettes, still tasting as intoxicating after all these years. The cobblestone road led down to the carpark at the periphery of the dunes, looking over the mouth-dark sea. Half-damp sand captured my footsteps as I walked through the little valley the dunes made; between the tall grass hid little pillboxes, preparing for an invasion that never happened, and behind me looking down on all of it was a regal castle of about eight-hundred years. Both fortifications were nothing but relics now, but the sea had always been the same.

I sat down, and despite the weather I removed my tracksuit top and bore the old scars to the sky, feeling the cold sea breeze course and careen over my shoulder blades. To my left, black slabs of rock jutted from the sand, little pools and seaweed forests dotted amongst. To the right, the beach went on for about another mile or two until it reached another village made mostly out of dull holidaymakers. In front of me was the sea, which, in its ever-changing tidal dances was the greatest constant I had ever known, and in its utter vastness, uncomprehending depths, seemed the closest to the Israelite God, whose people had eventually butchered mine and made our very name an insult. I could not be bitter too much. There had been a long time to make peace with it.

“Excuse me, mate,” a plodding voice flittered into my perception just as was about to get lost again. “It’s Phillip, isn’t it?”

I turned. Rectangular spectacles framed a rounded face; a beige suit and work-shirt were ruffled by the wind. The man leaned towards me appraisingly. “Phillip Stein? I’m your parole officer.”

I nodded in recognition and turned back – the man tramped over about five feet away from me and sat down himself. “Can I help you?” I asked.

“It’s Chris,” he said, responding to a question I didn’t ask, “and, well, I just thought that since we’d be seeing more of each other I’d just introduce myself and start our relationship on the right foot.”

I was impassive. “It’s nice to meet you.”

He chuckled awkwardly. “Yeah, yeah, same to you! Say, aren’t you cold? You’ll catch your death like that.”

I didn’t respond. “Anyway, mate, there’s no need for fear or anything – I’m a very understanding guy, you know? And I’ve been doing this a while. I’ve seen all sorts, so there’s no question of me looking down on you for whatever circumstances – you know.”

“There’s lots of violent men around.” I said, offering him something to think about for once.

“Boys will be boys. Sometimes you get into a situation – ah, you know better than me, eh? I’m just here to help you out.”

“How old are you?”

“Me? I’m thirty nine. Coming up on the big four-oh in a month! Dreading it.” He laughed, then added; “You’ll know what I mean when you get to my age. Appreciate your youth there!”

I looked at him and twisted my lips into a semi-smirk. “Alright then. For now I’d appreciate if you left me enjoy my day at the beach.”

Jumping to his feet, the suit began wiping off the sand from his clothes. “Right! Right, of course. Don’t mean to impose at all.”

He turned back to me as he crested the dunes and pointed – “Don’t get into trouble now!”

Some half-joke. I smiled and gave a wave back, before returning my focus to the sea, and assigning that boring man into the same forgotten place ten thousand pests reside. The present and its pleasantries I found exhausting. Imprisoned men stay the same, at least.

I didn’t even kill the drunkard this time, but I got some new scars for it anyway.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


redemption arc here we go

in :toxx: let the sounding commence

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Excerpt from the serialised adventures 'Fortune in the Mind's Eye'
Word Count: 800

“This is it,” Professor Will Fortune said as he laid eyes on the expansive chamber which lay at the heart of the Psycho-Zone. “This is where we’ll find our prize.”

Emerging from one of the hot, mucus-lain tunnel which connected each chamber in the Zone, Fortune and his crafty companion Jude the Blue surveyed the room which rolled out before them. Immediately apparent were the materials the chamber was made out of – large multicolour Lego bricks clicked together haphazardly, with putty in the cracks between them. Great columns of scaled-up alphabet blocks rose to the darkness of the room’s impossibly high ceiling. Through all of this pulsing vine-like red veins and heavy globules of brain matter grew and blossomed in patches. The disembodied sound of heavy breathing, barely audible when the two men had entered, had become absolutely clear.

Fortune was the first to step foot in the chamber, landing a foot unevenly on a sloped path of jumbled blocks. “Watch your step.” He warned to his fellow Psychonaut.

“I’m just glad we’re wearing heavy boots. These things would nick the hell out of your feet.” Jude replied, grasping the straps of his backpack and glancing down with disdain of the walnut-like tissue which seeped out in the gap between two sharp edges. This organic material, the two had already tested, was a match to the Zone’s creator, an insurance salesman named Jimmy Bates; one of the rare (increasingly less so) cases of a human consciousness exploding out into the real world upon death and creating a strange new landscape in the blast radius. When Bates had keeled over, he had taken a good few blocks of downtown Pittsburgh with him, encasing the area in a growth-like dome which men like Fortune were devoted to studying and exploring.

“So, Doc, we’re in the lowest part of the Zone, the end of the maze, and Bates’ sacred sanctum is full of kid’s stuff. What’s your diagnosis?” Jude asked while upholstering his rifle and searching the walls for suitable sniper nests.

Fortune examined the plastic rubble at his feet, rolling a small chunk between his fingers. “We’ve already seen – and survived – chambers relating to Bates’ various traumas. Here we enter his safe place. You’ve seen his personal files; Bates had an indoor childhood – building blocks, and games of imagination, rather than playing outside with others. His mind associates this as a time when he was safe, and happy – so it built this place to keep him so.”

Jude laughed humourlessly. “If there’s no outdoors, where’s all the light in this room coming from?”

Fortune looked around and stroked his square jaw. “My guess is some form of bioluminescence.” He continued walking as he spoke. “The theory I’m more and more convinced of is that since the Zones are born from living matter – humans – they themselves, in their entirety, continue to be so. You might consider that plastic you’re standing on to be alive.”

Jude was taken aback. “Alive? Doc, the outer shell of this thing is like rock! We spent a whole day trying to find a way in – it’s like a cave system! You’re telling me this whole thing is living?”

“You volunteered for this expedition, Blue. Don’t tell me you’re losing your stomach after all we’ve seen.”

“Some things even a tour of duty don’t prepare you to see, Doc.” Jude scratched his head, and continued to follow Fortune as the burly professor jumped down into a clay trench.

“This room could contain the answer to our questions on the nature of the Zone!” Fortune shouted to behind him. The next words were almost out his mouth before he saw a glimmering in the plastic rubble.

A spherical glass object, cloudy like a marble and about the size of a soccer ball, lay patiently in a crevice made by the meeting of two spikes.

Fortune, experienced Psychonaut that he was, had never seen one – much less thought it was real. With both hands he grasped what he now recognised was human consciousness in material form, super-heated, warped, and cooled by the strange processes of the Zone.

Jude’s voice rang out in the distance.

“Watch out, Doc!”

Stomping towards Fortune was a huge construct – a thing of simple mechanisms bound together with pulsing and bloody brain matter. As its full form was revealed Fortune recognised the familiar shape of a wind-up toy robot, with grimacing painted face and vacant eyes. The explorer dodged just in the nick of time as the thing brought down a crushing arm, sending the orb rolling away.

Fortune reached for his gun, but was interrupted by another swing from the toy menace which missed him by a hair. Pressed against the putty wall, he attempted to lunge around the thing – and succeeded, darting between its trunk-like legs.

The robot swivelled on its axis and threw down its weight on the interloper below. Fortune found himself pinned beneath, blood draining from the thing’s joints onto him.

“Blue!” Fortune cried.

A shot rang out, echoing through the chamber. A bullet whizzed through the robot’s head and landed in the clay. Fortune pushed off his now-limp adversary and caught his breath. The orb was nowhere to be seen.

He was about to thank Jude before another shot ran out, and Fortune’s knee exploded.

“Ha!” Perched high above, Jude whipped back his smoking rifle and met eyes with Fortune. “Looking for this?”

Jude carried the gleaming orb under his arm.

Fortune hissed through clenched teeth. “D-Damnit!”

“Can’t trust anyone these days.” The sharpshooter wore a wicked grin. “Good thing this beauty should be worth a dime or two! Thankfully your theorising gave me time to rig this place with explosives enough to collapse the whole thing. Should’ve checked my backpack, Doc!” He held up a detonator.

Click.

Jude disappeared into a smoke cloud. Fortune desperately dragged himself away as he heard the place erupt. Plastic boulders cascaded from the ceiling, creating a terrible, sharp cacophony. Fortune’s breathing and the breathing sound in the chamber were synchronised.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


in

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Ugly Stars
Word count: 1194

Thundering sparks rang out the dark of my window. There’s me, I’m huddling under my covers like my dog Flora when she gets scared. Flora’s out for a walk now but I’m under the covers. The navy medals in the glass across from me twinkle like little stars. My hands are bathed in hues of red and blue. There’s me. The door to my room clicks open and in comes a young woman dressed in neat baby blue. She’s very beautiful, and she draws the curtains, then comes over to me and puts her hands on mine. “So sorry you were disturbed, Mr. Overman. They’re really making a lot of noise out there, some of the other guests were woken up too.”

I say “What’s all the ruckus out there?” The lines of her body are very calming, nothing sharp at all.

“People are celebrating the anniversary of our independence.” She says. “Do you want some, ear plugs, or something to help you get back to sleep?”

I’m watching from the window down at all the pleasing symmetry in the car park below. The grid of it is very nice, and dotted in there are all these shining sunshine cars, all sorts of colours. It’s ringed with little lines of hedges and an orange-painted wall. My dad’s Ford hasn’t shown up yet, which is good, ‘cause he’d be mighty angry if he found me and the guys with our beers like this. Danny’s telling a joke about the girl in our class, and we’re laughing but I know he’s only saying it ‘cause he’s sweet on her, I see him making eyes at her in the duck and cover drills. I try to focus on his features but it doesn’t work, just it’s him squatting in the dark under the desk, eyes without a face.

Two women open the door to my room and walk in. One of them is dressed in neat baby blue and the other one is wearing a cardigan – she’s not young, but she’s a little familiar.

“Hey there.” Says the cardigan girl. “How are you today?”

I say something, but it’s hard to get my mouth to move like I want it.

“That’s good.” She smiles at me. She’s wearing a cardigan. “You must be sick of being cooped up in here all day. It’s a lovely afternoon, wanna take a walk?”

Gee, sounds great! Let me put my shoes on.

“Oh, no, it’s alright,” the girl says, “Sit on the bed and I’ll get your shoes on for you.”

I grunt and grumble from where I sit as this nice girl tries to direct my feet into each shoe. I’m not angry. I feel magnetic. They’re leading me out of the door and down the stairs.

I shuffle out of the doorway and try to find some space on the ship’s deck which is packed to the girls with other enlisted men. I look over their heads as they crouch and see the empty sky and empty ocean just laying still. The officers are explaining not to look directly at the explosion. The officers are making their way back down the stairs, closing the door behind them. I look around me and each sailor’s face is featureless as an orange.

I’m watching the empty sky from my window. Somewhere there’s music playing. The navy medals on the wall twinkle in the blades of light streaming in. In my chair, everything feels so heavy. The bones in my hands, all this weight I’m carrying around. All my skin is like burned wax which is slowly melting. My brain has some kind of lock in it, like traffic jams. The amber evening is keeping me company.

Haven’t I got somewhere to be? I can’t just sit here all day, nice as it is. Dad will expect me home any minute now. Man, will he ever give me a good hiding if I’m late.

I fumble through the dark to the door, which opens up to a hotel-lit corridor. I stand there for a moment, then I’m remembering it’s that way.

This corridor is so long – I’ve been walking for ages but every step is like nothing at all. I pass by an open room where three men are sitting on opposite couches, throwing balloons back and forth. Most of the other doors are closed, and it’s still going. My eyes haven’t been too good recently which is maybe why I can’t spot an exit sign. It’s just straight lines going all the way, like motel architecture.

I’m standing in front of an elevator door, lathed in fluorescent light from the ceiling. My trembling hand reaches for the ‘down’ button but when I find it, nothing happens. There’s a keypad above the buttons. I’m whining now, and rubbing my head ‘cause I’m searching it for some code. Come on, let me down. My dad’s gonna be so mad.

“Mr. Overman? Are you lost?” A lady in blue comes up beside me. “You look tired. Why don’t you come have a sit down?” She puts a hand on my shoulder and turns me back down the corridor.

Some ways off the side of the ship the calamitous bang erupts from the ocean and screams white high into the sky. All the arms swing up to cover the faces. It’s so drat bright. I can see the bones of my wrist through my paper skin, it’s so bright. It’s like they rang all the bells and broke all the clocks and stained all the lines.

A couple guys wait until it fades to stand up. Then comes the shockwave, which punches us hard and sends those guys flying across the deck. The whole ship shakes and we’re crawling all over each other. There’s a voice crying out for mommy.

I’m sitting in the doctor’s office with some strangers. The man hands me a clipboard and asks me to draw a clock, but there’s nothing there. My hands put down a jagged crescent moon, and a smattering of ugly stars. He smiles sadly over his spectacles when he takes it back from me. The strangers in the room look sad too, even though I can’t see them. Maybe I feel sad, but there’s some kind of gulf in my head where the wind blows through.

Somebody says, “I’m sorry, Audrey. I don’t want to forget you.” It’s a man’s voice, confident and heart-sleeve. “I don’t want to forget any of it.”

My eyes wander out the clinic windows, where I’m riding past on my bike. I’m speeding past all the hotels that stand so tall and beautiful, looking up into the symmetrical windows and imagining all the people in there, how they can afford such fancy expensive places. It’s like a dream, up there.

I’m riding home as thunderous sparks shoot out from the shore, like pretty artillery. My skeleton is on the ship, and my ending is by the window, looking out. I don’t have time to waste. The wind’s in my hair, my free lungs. I know there’s someone at home who is waiting for me. I love them, whoever they are.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


I just finished Robert Altman's 1974 classic California Split.

In with Gambling Drama

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In, item.

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crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Once a creature has been assigned to someone, is it banned from being chosen again, or can one cryptid have multiple tales?

Either way, In.

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