I'm very in. There are no flowers here because it is a toxic tundra but I appreciate the effort.
|# ¿ Apr 13, 2021 23:19|
|# ¿ May 22, 2022 01:41|
Walk log: 2mi yesterday, 3 today. I saw a treehouse and dog.
|# ¿ Apr 15, 2021 03:58|
How much does 12k on a bicycle get me?
|# ¿ Apr 16, 2021 05:12|
Day 1 2 miles 200 - dog and treehouse spotted
Day 2 3 miles 300 - walked by some stores I'd never seen before. One that wants you to pay $80 for something called a "float tank".
Day 3 40 min biek 200 - biking keeps me away from the death cults roaming around licking each others eyeballs.
Day 4 1.5 miles 150 - it started raining
Day 5 5 miles 500 - 5 for day 5 why not. It's cooled off so there aren't so many people wishing for death on the nice paths.
After having spent May and June reconsidering his line of work, Vince was surprised when he got the booking email. As usual, the customer had to be called so that they understood the nature of Vince’s work.
“Yes, I’m calling for Rabdi.” A receptionist from one of the monolithic property management companies in the north side of the city placed Vince on hold.
“Yes, hello. Are you the cleaner?” Rabdi, a low, unaccented tenor to Vince’s ear, wasted no time.
“I clean things, yes. You understand that I don’t clean ordinary messes. I’m only equipped to work with certain issues.”
“Well, I don’t know, man. This thing is loving weird. It whispers and something is wrong with the lights. But the power is fine, you know?” The maintenance guy spoke quickly, and his voice quavered when he started to explain the details.
Vince interrupted before Rabdi was any more upset by recalling the mess, “I’ll have to take a look.” Addresses were exchanged and Vince took a cab to a small four-story mid-century walkup.
Rabdi met him around back, “Where’s your stuff?” He asked.
“I’m not sure what I need yet.” Vince said. The maintenance guy looked suspicious but led Vince in.
Inside, he found the typical discount renovations: office surplus carpet tiles paired with light fixtures that hadn’t been updated since the 70s (seashell sconces). A calico of patched and painted fist holes on the second-floor landing.
Rabdi stopped short of the third floor. “It’s up there, man. 305. The door doesn’t lock anymore. I’ll be right here.”
This was common. People didn’t usually care to supervise his work.
At the door marked “305”, Vince gathered himself in preparation. Brief swatches of memory from some of the particularly weird “messes” replayed, cautionary memento mori.
As an apprentice, Vince was shocked by the inexplicable integrity of the camouflage employed by some of these objects, anomalies, messes, whatever (the use of “mess” and “cleaning” were just marketing, Vince knew these things were like an out of control callous on the foot of reality, minor dysfunction that heralds a much deeper issue unless dealt with).
This day Vince and his master were cleaning a basement in a long-abandoned house at the invitation of a developer who noticed that machinery stopped working as soon as it entered the lot. Stopped working and started emitting sounds of nature: birds chirping, water running, stuff like that.
This anomaly had covered the basement of its home in some kind of vision of a rainforest. Moss on every surface, thick trees with bark textured like bread crust rising into a canopy that was lost to darkness above. But instead of the hush of a forest, the space produced the cacophony of construction equipment. Vince was sent upstairs to find something significant to take care of the source while his master assessed the extent of the issue.
After a quick lap around the yard, Vince settled on a particularly weighty push lawnmower liberated from some overgrown bramble. When he wrestled the thing into the basement, he found his master had grown mossy, becoming part of the space. “Quickly, Vince!”
Outside 305, Vince pressed his ear to the door. No sound of the whispers Rabdi had mentioned. Interestingly, when he looked in through the peephole with a lens, he could see only darkness. These objects usually tried to impose some sort of normalcy on their surroundings. In what space was pitch black nothingness normal?
It was time to find something substantial in the same way the mess was substantial. Usually broken or forgotten things did the trick.
Rabdi jumped when Vince entered the stairwell, then looked hopefully up from his phone. “Just gotta get something first,” said Vince. Down the stairs he made a circuit around the parking lot. Nothing but garbage. Except for a space behind the cardboard where Vince found a filthy, probably broken vacuum cleaner. Hadn’t even been emptied by its former owner, perfect.
Back up to the apartment, Vince felt a fatalistic courage as he opened the door to 305. The darkness poured forth from within. Shrugging, Vince removed one of his shoes – a worn trainer – and tossed it inside. The shoe landed about four feet inside the room, casting not a shadow but a beam of ordinary light so that Vince could make out the dusty floor where the shoe’s shade should have been. When he probed the darkness beyond the threshold with his shoeless foot, his foot found no floor beneath it, just a cold void. Where the darkness was blocked by the shoe, his foot encountered normal floor. He carefully heel-toed his way into the room.
Once inside, Vince heard the whispering. It sounded like deeply familiar, warm, hushed guttural syllables just beyond the edge of recognition. The whispering was coming from directly ahead. He carefully stood on one leg and removed his other shoe, tossing it forward. It also blocked the darkness so he could proceed. Gathering his other shoe, he advanced toward the sound.
When Vince returned to the rainforest basement with the mower, he found his master seated with the object (in this case a mass of mosses both familiar and obviously wrong. Club moss spiky instead of round. Yellow soldiers where there should have been red.
“What are you doing?” Vince asked. The sound of the machinery was now very loud, and he had to raise his voice.
“I need you to let me go with it when you clean. Just use that on me too.” Said his master.
“What are you saying? Why?” Shouted Vince.
“Don’t you see? This is my backyard as a child! It’s all gone now, bulldozed to dust. But here, I can be home!”
And Vince saw that his master was weeping with joy, his hands on the wrong moss of this thing.
So Vince set to work, mowing over the ersatz basement rainforest while his master started into the object, and wept.
Proceeding into 305, shoe by shoe, the whispering always seemed to be just barely audible. A thin opacity covering up some deep truth about Vince that he longed to understand. Shortly, Vince reached the source. It was a ball, not black like its surroundings, but extremely smooth and reflective so it was invisible in the void. He placed his shoes toe-to-toe in front of him and knelt in the light they cast. The whispering was just barely perceptible as Gaelic, and as he pressed his ear against the sphere – warm! – he could hear his mother’s lullaby emanating from within, she of the old ways, trying always to keep the language of her grandmother alive in him. Intense feelings of comfort and home brought tears to his eyes and Vince could only listen, leaning into the sphere.
Some time passed, not that Vince could say how much. Eventually, Rabdi appeared in the door. A tiny figure beckoning Vince back to the world, the vacuum cleaner next to him, left behind of course.
Vince couldn’t imagine how he would make the trip back across the void, vacuum cleaner clutched in his teeth? And worse, he knew that he didn’t want to. He wanted to go with this sphere, this tiny geometric weirdness, a cancer calling him home.
“Rabdi,” Vince whispered.
Rabdi stuck a toe into the void and shivered, leaning back.
“You need to start the vacuum. Just press the button.”
“What the gently caress?” Rabdi said.
“Do it, you have to hurry!” Yelled Vince, a force of will to raise the volume of his voice.
Rabdi looked down at the vacuum, turning it this way and that until he found the power button. He started it. The intense roar of unmaintained motor followed ad the darkness imperceptibly began to flow into it. Flattening and compressing into the confines of the vacuum. Vince felt himself grow flat with it, his limbs and torso disappearing, whispers of his mother drowned out by the sound of the vacuum.
|# ¿ Apr 18, 2021 18:54|
I'd be very interested in joining the discord and getting a better sense of this competition. I've followed these threads off and on since around 2011.
|# ¿ Apr 19, 2021 00:09|
I’m back and in!
|# ¿ Jun 15, 2021 18:46|
A Raccoon at the End of the World
When the humans disappeared, they left all at once. There were no sirens, no gunshots, just a thick haze blocking out the stars and increased sounds of traffic disturbing Cybil's daytime den.
Cybil was a large young adult raccoon. Indistinguishable from other raccoons to most other animals, she had whelped two litters and nursed to rebellious adulthood six kits. This evening she was feeling the long stretch before people would place scraps of food by the side of the road for her to eat her fill.
Sticking her snout through the rust hole in the car that made her current den to taste the air, she recoiled. Something in the haze hurt and made her slightly frightened in some deep place she felt as keenly as hunger. Cybil wanted to learn what was happening, flee, and stay safely in her den. Curiosity won, but not because Cybil was a particularly inquisitive raccoon - she was, in all respects, a very common raccoon - but because in order to flee she would need food. Outside the car, the night was unusually dark, stars and moon obscured, and nearly silent. The quiet broken only by the faint rustling of the other animals with which she shared the night.
When she arrived at her regular foraging site (a long stretch of houses in a web of similar buildings), she noticed that there were no shiny containers of food along the road, even though her stomach told her that it was definitely the correct night for it. Waddling brazenly through front yards she saw many houses lit from the inside as if humans were doing whatever they did indoors, but with no sounds of their calls or other noises. Shortly, Cybil came upon a familiar house with a gap beneath the fence in the back. Flattening her body, she stalked the back yard of the house, hoping that the large container back there would be unlocked.
Once through, Cybil was alarmed by the sight of the house's dog through the patio door. The squat, curly white-haired animal usually called to the humans when it saw Cybil or other raccoons, but tonight the dog was silent. There were no humans to call. Cybil approached the door and as she got closer, she noted a few things. First, the door was only covered only by a fine mesh, no glass. Second, the dog smelled like humans and was making faint sounds of sadness and fear. Last, within the gleaming interior of the house, there sat a heaped bowl of brown kibble.
Now close enough to make out the dog's collar (if Cybil could read she would have understood the bone-shaped tag labeled "Bevan") and smell the food on his breath, Cybil made her body look larger and hissed a warning. Bevan emitted a high-pitched whine, stepped back and shrank to the floor. Cybil pressed her nose to the mesh, trying to see if any humans were waiting inside, possibly to trap or hurt her while she ate some of the dog food. Satisfied that she wasn't in danger, she clutched the mesh with her claws and the door yielded and formed a tiny gap. Bevan rose in excitement and Cybil's bodyweight opened the door enough for the dog to exit. She also lost her balance and flopped humiliatingly on her back, one claw still stuck in the mesh.
Bevan quickly ran through the gap and did a half circle around Cybil, who was frantically trying to extract her claw from the screen. She hissed and screamed but the dog only came closer and shoved his snout against her backside. After his inspection was complete, he gently put his snout under her arm, releasing her hooked claw from the mesh. Since it was clear that the dog meant no harm and she was still hungry, Cybil recovered and gorged herself on the heap of kibble. Once full, she was able to concentrate on other things. Most notably the smoke now filling the inside of the house and the alarming orange brightness of the hazy night outside.
Cybil would have inspected the house further, surely it was full of food and would make an excellent den, safe from whatever had scared off the humans, but Bevan was out in front of the house, barking and whining urgently. Cybil met him in the front yard, now fully alarmed. She tried to detect the direction of the smoke, but it was impossible. Bevan seemed confused as well and shot off at a trot the way Cybil had come. Having no other options and her sense of flight overriding her sated curiosity, Cybil followed as Bevan slowed and looked back to make sure she was coming.
Cresting a small hill, with lungs now crying out in distress at the thickness of the smoke, Bevan and Cybill saw the advancing wildfire that had vanquished the humans and their vehicles. They turned along the wider road, trying to stay ahead of the flames, but their lungs and eyes stung and the heat from the fire was growing overwhelming. As their pace slowed, Cybil was struck by an absurd return to normal. She could hear the harsh machine sound of a truck and the orange haze was punctuated by the shaking twin beams of headlights.
Instinctively flattening against the road, Cybil watched as the headlights caught Bevan and the vehicle came to a stop. A human with short hair and a shirt wrapped around his face exited the truck and picked up the dog, who licked his face and wagged his tail desperately. As the human carried Bevan back to the truck, the dog squirmed and barked, calling to Cybil. Deciding to risk capture rather than fire and smoke, Cybil rose and slinked toward the truck. The human, still holding Bevan, bent to regard her, tears running down his face from the smoke. He made some sounds from under the mask and opened the other door of the truck, and Cybil climbed in.
|# ¿ Jun 20, 2021 18:35|
|# ¿ Jun 23, 2021 03:42|
The Cats Keep Blowing Up
James first heard about the cats blowing up through clickbait whispers and conspiracy memes. At first he thought it might be some kind of viral marketing attempt at a sequel to that cat-themed card game. Something was apparently happening in Egypt, then in Europe and India, a wave of increasingly credible reports of cats growing larger. Blowing up in the mathematical sense, like "Honey I Blew Up the Kids".
The news alone wasn't enough to really convince James, he barely even noticed. For the last few years he had tried his hardest to avoid the news in any form. This was mostly because James's life was poo poo (an aborted start at a nursing career left him traumatized at 24 and shamefully living on his mother's couch) and he didn't need the world's poo poo to make it worse. But things were also bad because his mother was dying. Alzheimer's, early-onset.
Coming home from another appointment, his mother confused and exhausted, her medication probably causing ministrokes and swelling her legs into suppurating balloons. James riding a grocery store trolley about two feet outside his own body to stay away from the hospital smells and sounds of suffering – crying babies, stainless steel instruments scraping, that distinct HEPA-filtered hum – he sat down on his bed/couch and focused on his eye movement exercises and breathing, trauma stuff. She collapsed into her recliner and placed an unfinished cross stitch on her lap and stared. Eventually, James was able to process the world again and noticed his mother's cat. Was Chloe taller? He gave her a pet and she rolled onto her back. Hard to tell but she definitely seemed to take up more space. James scritched the cat and went to make some food and prepare medications.
In the morning, it was clear that the cat was blowing up. Ordinarily no more than 12 pounds, she woke James up as usual by laying on his chest. Except that this morning she was heavy enough to make it hard to breathe and James woke with a start. The ordinary fluffy orange of Chloe's coat and hooded loving gaze was there, just significantly larger. Maybe the size of a big collie, she purred loudly and regarded James lovingly through hooded eyes. He sat up and she stood, negotiating his lap as a perch that was problematically small. Still purring, she settled for straddling his lap and stretching out enthusiastically.
On the internet, the news was was also blowing up about the cats. "Giant Cat Plague Pesters Portland" and "Feline Gigantism Cases Throughout US, Canada". There was also a counter-narrative. The cat plague was apparently leaked from an African lab where food additives were being tested. Or it was the CIA or the Chinese or the Russians or the Jews (James left that tab quickly) plotting to destroy the West. Also, the cat plague was no big deal. James found an article on cat cricket. Just like the ordinary cricket but the players were riding cats. Thrilling, because the cats were also fascinated by the ball and would pursue it regardless of their rider's intent.
Through the noise, James learned that "feline gigantism" (as it was known medically) had no detectable physiological causes. Wild cats were not afflicted, just felis catus. The disease also wasn’t fatal, the cats just grew. Sometimes they stopped growing at the size of large dogs, sometimes they grew to the height of horses.
"Chloe, you're not allowed to be as large as a horse." James said, petting the cat on his lap. He tried to pick her up and she decided the morning cuddles were over. Very well, it was project time regardless.
Since his mother's diagnosis, James had been putting his dwindling disability money toward rent and a scrapbook project. His mother loved memorabilia and had collected mementos of her life's victories, passions and community goings-on in a set of absurd used filing cabinets in her bedroom. James had been engrossed in the task of cataloging and curating these objects into scrapbook pages that he used to interview her about her life and feelings as the memory of the objects faded. In the afternoons when she was strong, James and his mother would sit at the dining room table or hover over the coffee table and review his findings.
Often (and more and more lately), these reviews of her life were growing less coherent. Joe's retirement party from the plant merged in her mind with that time the garden was so full of ladybugs that you couldn't see the colours of the tulips. This moment merging with a series of questions, "Wait, what did Cheney do now?" "But what will we cook him for dinner?" "Yes, I really do love Abigail's stuffed meatloaf. We should bring that to her granddaughter's wedding potluck." James used to get very frustrated, clinging to her past in collage, and she would get confused and angry and then exhausted. When he thought to google the problem, he came across the idea that he should just follow her down these roads. If the first Bush was in power in her mind, then James went through that portal with her and together the past became a new alternate history for them both, written in sand and erased by the tide of real memories washing over her.
While he was working on a section of her life about a failed labour struggle at work, clippings and documents scattered around him, she shuffled into the room.
“Chloe says she would like to eat me when it’s my time and I think I want that as well,” she said.
James took a breath and thought about the world his mother must be living in right now. “Well, she is a growing kitty, I guess that will help!”
“No, she’s an adult and she says she will remember my story if I let her eat me.”
With this, James heard a strange sound, a weighted whisper, silent but massive. It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and he was instantly tunnel-visioning in his mother’s bedroom. Through the haze, Chloe stepped into the doorway.
“Yes, we’ve talked it over and I can help keep her here in this world. I won’t die, you know.” Chloe said. She had a strangely high-pitched voice, like an anime character.
His mother’s decline accelerated, and though Chloe’s growth plateaued around the size of a pony, James never stopped working on his scrapbooks. The afternoon interviews with his mother became more and more absurd. Her memories melting into the concept of being digested. In the last days of her life when she was lucid she only spoke of how elegant it was to become part of immortal cat-kind.
One day, Chloe told James that she and his mother would be going for a walk. James was having a bad day and could only grunt and melt into his couch/bed. Hours later, the door, which had been left ajar, opened and Chloe returned. She nuzzled the coffee table aside and lay on the floor next to James, purring.
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2021 04:17|
|# ¿ May 22, 2022 01:41|
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2021 00:48|