The closest I ever got to the Big City was the airport a mile outside of it, arriving back from a business trip at five in the morning and forced, then, to maneuver my way via subways and trains and buses across several state lines home, getting drunker on each instance of public transport, cheap beer overpriced and swilled from plastic cups that flexed with the bend of my fingers, home, where my girlfriend at the time would break up with me, home, where I would afterward, tottering on my porch, call my boss and quit, home, where I would wake and discover I no longer had anything resembling what my life had previously been.
From then on I could not hold an occupation. I just, I could not make myself. Managers would urge me to put my heart “into” my work, as if that arterial plumbing could be extracted from my chest and implanted into a cause worthier than my own slushed perpetuation. My teeth hurt. To be clear, the gaps between my teeth hurt, the gums bacterial and rotting, although perhaps any sort of toothache was a headache when you defined it. I flitted between jobs like dreams, cashiering in the stench of a fish market, cataloguing porn in family-owned video rental stores, filing documents in a basement deep as a skyscraper was tall.
I stopped belonging to places and lived instead in the space between them. Offseason beach towns with snow everywhere as sand, cities built around mills gutted and left to rust—my life a month-to-month leasing. I started to wish I had something to commit myself to, a politician I could support through an act violent and simple as slitting my stomach open and watching the entrails steam out, and it was around then I met a man who needed help around his property.
“A second set of hands,” he said, and again it struck me that so much of ourselves were bodies, meat and fluids. He would let me live rent-free in his unfinished barn. This was one of those summers where the heat was so everywhere you could not tell if it was coming from the sky above or beneath your very skin. This was an election year and all the candidates were corpses reanimated.
My primary job, I soon discovered, was to dig holes. The purpose of this was unknown. My now-boss had vague explanations ready—he wanted to build a fence, there were mites in his lawn, there was gold that needed finding. When I worked there was always a sun over my head, and it beat down on my neck like a club, such that I noticed the ground I dug was cool, these holes I tore into the earth were little pockets of relief from all that brightness. While digging I unconsciously started to put my arms into my holes, then my shoulders, then my entire head: I wanted to be buried as a treasure.
My boss was convinced he had been abducted by aliens at a young age. “My sister and I both,” he said. “My parents agree—something unusual happened, a flash of light in the forest, and then the two of us were gone for an entire day, twenty four hours we spent completely vanished…”
I was digging holes as he spoke this. There was dirt all over the place and worms too, writhing. The sound of my shovel hitting rocks lodged in the ground upset me for a reason I did not know.
“The telltale sign of an abduction is a chip in your brain,” he continued. “They implant it into you. It can be detected, easily, by X-ray devices. Five years ago I had a CAT scan done on myself. Just to see. I couldn’t look at the results. I couldn’t make myself.”
My boss always had this distinctively glassy look in his eyes, I noticed. He was so glassy he could shatter. Somewhere, I was aware as I looked at him, there was a baby crying—there was always a baby crying in those days.
“The doctors said there was an abnormality in my brain,” my boss was saying. I was digging. I was caked in dirt, I was like a birthday cake, only the frosting was mud and there were no candles. Those days I dreamed in concrete, falling asleep and imagining only hallways, tunnels, corridors leading nowhere but back into themselves. “Alien interference is most easily identified as a lump in your skull. A protrusion. That’s how they track you. I couldn’t look at the scans of my brain. I couldn’t make myself. I didn’t want to know how much of my life was not my own.”
Those days were not pastries. Nothing was a cupcake, sugared and with a chocolate filling. The sun cudgeled my head and there were flies too as I dug. Each week I got deeper and deeper and into the earth. I’d brought a TV with me into the barn where I lived and it would flicker on, late in the night, without warning, a pallid glow that licked me as I slept. Once I woke in the part of the morning where the sunrise was murky as a swamp’s oozing, and when I went to my window I saw my boss standing in his driveway, the security light of his own house flashing against him, his silhouette smashed and steamrolled across the pavement of his property.
“My sister is gone,” he said. “The aliens took her. I know this is her grief because we were twins and we shared the same womb and we were the same, genetically, haphazardly, we curled against one another like cats in the boned cathedral that was my mother and now her presence is not here or on any earth, she was abducted, she was taken with a farness that if expressed in miles would be beyond our human comprehension. A lightyear is so vast it cannot be taught in terms of distance—only time.”
I had, at all hours, a headache. When I looked it up in newspapers I saw that my boss’s sister had killed herself—had died from suicide in some small county in some small state that had no relevance to me. I kept digging. The abyss of yourself could grow so deep. It could become, like a trench in the ocean, as submerged as the tallest mountain was high. Supposedly there were, rumors went those days, volcanoes on Mars bigger than entire cities. Supposedly, my boss said, our sky was the camouflaged underside of one massive spaceship, waiting to beam us up, simultaneously, all us disparate souls finally and at once. I had a thousand cavities all burrowing so intricately I had to wonder if they connected somewhere at the bottom of myself. My teeth hurt. My head was filled with holes.
I was thinking about smoking. I was thinking about my weight.
My favorite food is carrot cake. My apartment smells like a big, wet cough.
I could’ve walked down the block. I could’ve walked to Walgreens. The sponges there are seventy-five cents less. But I’m not leaving this block.
I live upstairs. I shop downstairs. Things are far from perfect. It is summer, and I don’t have an internship at HBO. There’s a shard of glass in my bedroom with my best friend’s name on it. This is the worst summer of my life.
it’s easier to kill you
if you aren’t already dead!
come on, the rigged chandelier releases sodium pentothal, lower from the ceiling and invade me. i’m overflowing, an unsanitary bathroom in the groin. come take advantage. i can’t speak, as
my mouth circles wide and accepts a hose. the gas-powered vacuum revs up.
chaste trachea, suck up the balloon tamponade. it’s ok, years of discipline stretched the throat for this.
“you are a well-behaved toy.” yes, humankind, i am eternally below the age of consent, decide on my behalf and it’s ok, i won’t disagree, staring back unreflecting from a funhouse manic-depressive hall of superego mirrors. dyspeptic beliefs are manually transmitted based on masochist teachings. ritual tardy slips were sent to the grim reaper’s office b/c i’m late. intricacies of language degenerate to ranting complaints to the better business bureau of the libido. infantilized and tantalized, bf skinner says i’m an adult baby, free to go or stay in these dresser drawers / jars / cupboards / glove compartments. various times of the normal bourgeois
Diary of Frailty
Day 0: Inhuman howling. A child with a thousand nights written into memory.
Day 1: Asexual single-cell division, the one torn from itself. I’m structured in matter and yet there is never a knot that cannot be untied.
Day 5: Layers in the mind, unbound into paranoiac apparitions and circling like cannibalistic vultures, latent in my DNA.
Day 12: Cold unreality slowly descends as nerve systems are scrambled. Irrational paranoias invade cell consciousness, thanatopic tendencies leaking out, molecular plague rats.
Day 21: All this starlight, this spectral landscape bound in paper, has invaded me, bleeding stump of mind beaten around as this masochistic lunacy continues in darkness. Dancing until I’m brain-atrophied and dead from plague, assaulted by convoluted abominations from the sewer.
Day 36: Swarms of shit, semen, vomit scrawled on paper. It’s cut-up text and the body is an incomparably potent canvas. Life brims with dissolution, it jerks and spasms at the hands of an inorganic puppet master. Rosy crimson moonlight stains an earth the color of delicious sin as swarmachinic nightmare-collectives descend from the stars; devour me until there’s nothing left, oh my god. If I was the last resident of outer Gaia I’d bury myself in a pillow fort soaked with kerosene.
At least, that’s how the more pornographic moments passed. Caged in phylogenetic flesh, life can only be so self-destructive.
Inside you there are two wolves:
1: Compel the PROCESS, embody the WORKS OF THE COSMOS and know infinity, starry-eyed. TRANSCEND all WEAKNESS.
2: MIND is TOMB. It BURNS even after it dies. Consciousness cannot be ki//ed, only EVISCERATED. REMOVE the organs, bring it all back to ZERO.
I recently ordered the Sony ICD-PX470 Stereo Digital Voice Recorder (with built-in USB). I purchased it from Amazon and received it twenty-nine hours later.
I have been using it to conduct interviews about the end of the world.
Subject describes geese, shortwave radios, a final cigarette.
I love the display. It’s reminiscent of a Gameboy with its black lettering and dull green background. The menus are simple and easy to navigate. I have rarely needed the manual.
The audio quality is in my opinion superb. There is a very soft whine in the background but it’s the kind of thing you have to really listen for or you won’t notice it.
Subject describes warm piss glowing in a 2 liter bottle.
Subject describes the cold tarp you wrap yourself in and how you wait for your body to warm it.
Subject describes the earth’s surface: a bleached egg, its topsoil the strongest hallucinogen, its greedy dust fills your lungs.
I have exact questions but I vary their order with every interview.
The Sony ICD-PX470 comes with 4 GB of built-in memory which affords you approximately 59 hours of recording time.
Subject describes emergency preparedness kits. They have food rations and drinking water, simple LED flashlights, whistles. But what they don’t have is a fucking radio, he says.
Subject describes financial markets backed by shortwave radios. You could work every day of your life and never afford one.
Subject describes the gait of survivors: stooped, slow, pained, intentional. They wear ponchos and dust masks.
The birds get sick first, he says. Dead birds everywhere. You walk on them. You swim through bird disease.
Subject describes a camp bulldozed by order of mayor. Indistinguishable blend of heirlooms and waste, beloved toxic soup, biohazardous pictures of loved ones. Vintage dolls and liquor bottles and needles and a dog collar but no dog.
Customer reviews says, “The supplied external mic will not work with this recorder and will not record audio.” 1 star.
Subject describes the geese at the Riverwalk and how people sit red-faced in their pickup trucks and wait for them to pass. The day the trucks don’t brake for geese. A dog limps and yelps and no one does a thing.
Your life isn’t worth two shortwave radios here, he says.
Customer review says, “This worked better than I had hoped. Had it placed in a room of my house and could hear everything that was said [terrified screams]. It even picked up callers on cell phones [panic, distorted voices, emptiness]. That was unexpected! Battery life is awesome and very easy to use.”
Subject describes the last cigarette you ever smoke, not the last one in your pack. The one you light and wonder if you’ll be alive to finish it.
AGENT: OEDIPUS (RIKO KOIZUMI)
MECHANIZED CAVALRY FRAME: JOCASTA ([REDACTED] CLASS TECH ASSAULT MECH)
ON-BOARD AI: ANTIGONE
MISSION: ASSASSINATE SECRETARY [REDACTED]
DATE & TIME: [REDACTED] 21:11
HEADQUARTERS SENT ME OUT, TITANIC MECH BOOTS ON THE GROUND ONCE MORE
THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO KILL, FOR THE THRILL OF THE HUNT
FOR HAVING BEEN GIVEN A PURPOSE, I’D GLADLY GIVE MY LIFE FOR INSURGENCY
I’LL HACK THROUGH ALL THEIR PUNY SYSTEMS, FINGERTIPS LIKE LIGHTNING ACROSS MY KEYS
NEURAL IMPLANTS SHOCK MY NERVES, SHIVERS RUN THROUGH ME, FEELS LIKE HEAVEN
THEY CAN’T STOP ME, NOBODY EVER HAS, NOBODY EVER WILL, AND I’D NEVER HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY
I’LL VIOLATE THEIR CORES, I’LL SPILL THEIR SYSTEMS LIKE GUTS ON THE GROUND
CRASH THROUGH THE FLIMSY GATES, RAVAGE THROUGH THEIR HOPELESS INFANTRY, PIERCE THROUGH THEIR SLOPPY PILOTS
THESE MERCENARY PIGS, WITH NOTHING BUT MONEY ON NEWLY DETONATED MINDS, DESERVE NO BETTER
SHOULD HAVE PICKED A DIFFERENT SIDE IF YOU DIDN’T WANT IT TO END LIKE THIS, MOTHERFUCKERS
CRIMSON GORE SPLATTERED ONTO BLEACHED DESERT SANDS, BODIES LEFT FOR THE VULTURES
BURIAL OF NOTE, OPEN CASKETS FILLED WITH GIBLETS, INTESTINES, AND SMOLDERING CORPSEFLESH
THEY NEVER STOOD A CHANCE, DIDN’T KNOW WHO THEY WERE FUCKING WITH, SEEMS LIKE THEY NEVER DO
TOO LATE FOR THEM NOW, JUST CHECKED AND I’VE GOT AMMO TO SPARE FOR THESE PATHETIC FUCKS
OEDIPUS NESTED INSIDE MOTHER WITH FORBIDDEN CHILD, AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE OF NEO-NATURE
PSYCHOPATHIC CYBERBULLY WHO’S MASTERED THE CRAFT, CHILD SOLDIER WITH CHILDBEARING FINGERTIPS
LITTLE GIRL WITH A BIG FUCKING GUN, PULSE CANNON FIRE SENDS CHILLS THROUGH THE SPINE
I FEEL GUNPOWDER BURN AS IT SENDS MORE SLUGS DOWN RANGE, I FEEL THEIR TRANSPONDERS FADE AWAY
BURNING HEAT SPREADS THROUGH THEIR MECHS AND THROUGH MY LOINS, I LOVE IT
OVERWHELMING IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY, I YEARN FOR IT MORE WITH EACH MISSION
THE UTTER DOMINATION OF THESE SICK FREAKS BRINGS ME BLISS, I NEED IT
INCINERATE THEM WITH THEIR OWN REACTORS LOL, UPGRADE YOUR SHIT LOSERS, YOU CAN’T STEP TO ME
I CAN TELL WHEN THEY’RE SCARED, LINKED TO THEIR SYSTEMS, BITCH I CAN FEEL YOUR HEARTS POUND
FLATLINE ON THE SCANNER, I FUCKING LOVE TO SEE IT, YOU WERE SIMPLY OUTMATCHED BY ME
AND NOW YOU LAY, CHEST SPLAYED WITH RIBCAGE EXPOSED AND EYES HANGING FROM SOCKETS
EXCITES ME MORE THAN THEY COULD EVER KNOW, ARE THEY REALLY SCARED OF A SINGLE PILOT HAHAHA
FUCKING PATHETIC, WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR STRENGTH IN NUMBERS, WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR BATTLE DOCTRINE
I GUESS IT MELTED AWAY WITH THE REST OF THEIR SHITHEAD FRIENDS LMFAO, IS THIS REALLY ALL THEY HAD TO OFFER
SHEAR CHUNKS OF STEEL FROM A HOSTILE, EXPOSE THEM LIKE A CHAINED UP WHORE DRIPPING DOWN HER THIGHS
LEAVE THEM INCAPACITATED, SPRAWLED OUT AGAINST THE CONCRETE WALLS OF THEIR BASE
GOD IT MAKES ME SO WET, WHO NEEDS LOVE AND AFFECTION WHEN I HAVE THIS, BULLET RAIN TO GET ME OFF
SEX IS FOR LOW LIVES, JUST PILOT A PROPER MECH BRO, IT’S NOT SO HARD, ARE THEY EVEN TRYING
JUST KIDDING, NOT EVERYONE CAN BE A GENIUS PRODIGY, THEY’RE MISSING OUT
TREMBLING AS I LOOSE A SHELL THROUGH A COCKPIT, GIVE IT A NICE NEW PAINT JOB
EAGERLY LOAD ANOTHER ROUND, BLOW THEM AWAY ALL OVER AGAIN, DROOL RUNS DOWN MY LIP AS I BITE DOWN HARD
RINSE AND REPEAT, RINSE BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER FROM MY FRAME, RINSE BRAIN FROM MY BOOTS
HELLO MISTER SECRETARY, IT’S SO NICE TO SEE YOU CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN, PSST, MINE ARE TOO
TORN APART BY A HUNTER-KILLER CLASS DRONE, LMFAO DID YOU SEE THE LOOK ON HIS FACE
TWISTED IN TERROR WHILE MINE TWISTS UP IN GLEE, THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT
SIMPLY PRICELESS, I’D GIVE ANYTHING FOR THIS, I’VE GIVEN EVERYTHING FOR THIS
MOMMY AND DADDY WOULD BE SO PROUD IF THEY COULD SEE ME NOW