We Will Play For You by Porpentine Charity Heartscape

Put this in your hand. Fit your fingers into it. Feels good? If you divide all value into two increments, this is the first increment. The second occurs when you squeeze it. 

We’ll play the game for you.

The barrel is 200 acres of non-arable land. The trigger is 120 wind-powered engines and 550 anerobic lagoons. The muzzle is the lake you saw on the way down.

Pick a number. 10? You can get into a lot of trouble with 10. Just ask the empires with their granaries, armadas rotting on the ocean floor.

On squeeze the drones gather. There is a lag before they act, but they cannot be recalled at this point. The system of mirrors and lenses and satellites that brings you this image is a dream that has escaped the world. It is now digesting in the perceivers, those who survive each moment. The gluttony of surviving each moment is total and enrapturing until you fail to survive a moment.

She painted a target on her chest. She has no shading, no texture, no sexual characteristics, body language aggressively crunched out by their filtering eyes.

If the drones do not fire in sufficient heat of concert, the image capture of her brain will experience glitches as it slingshots through the atmospheric plume, or it may not arrive at all. You want her to be at the party, so you line up the drones in careful black crop circles. But we will play the game for you, so it is merely your existence that pulls the trigger, you continuing to observe.

She is gone in the smallest scratch of optical noise. There is no sensation. The drones disappear, some of them falling from signal interference, crashing into trees or breaking the surface of the lake.

At the party the lack of sensation continues. The wine does not even taste like water, and 3 of your 5 taste profiles are blunted. You drop a glass experimentally. The sound is like soggy paper.

You can’t wait to be in the field tomorrow, painting that warm color on your chest, the color which no longer has a name but which is recognized by the drones. No one wears that color anymore, not in sweaters or caps or painting their houses, not in safety signs or flags or the hulls of cars, no matter how fast they may be. In the movies you saw growing up, the blood in action scenes was yellow, edited in post-processing. Even getting flustered feels a little unlucky, and pale foundation is worn by many.

We stop and you start, and when you stop, we start.

Continue ReadingWe Will Play For You by Porpentine Charity Heartscape

IT’S ALL IN THE EXECUTION by Persephone Erin Hudson

[Dim spotlight upon SUBJECT 17. They sit in an electric chair which has been converted to a VR rig. You are unsure if the headset is breathing.]


VOICE (modulated): This is Death Penalty Simulator v2.02, clinical-trial-without-a-trial #17.


The aim of the project is thus:

  1. To categorize methods of state execution by the average severity of pain inflicted by each method.
  2. To chart the results in graphs, gifs, glyphs and steadfast truths for field application and internal publication, such as [Redacted]’s sick fucking powerpoint next week.
  3. To earn whatever the public sector’s version of tenure is. Immortality? Clout?


The methods of the project are thus:

  1. Utilizing fully-immersive VR technology to simulate popular methods of state execution upon a series of ethically-sourced test-subjects.


A Psychogeographical Map of State Executions:

Scene One:


[A projector whirs to life. Footage of a lethal injection is projected onto SUBJECT 17’s chest. It is grainy and unfocused like a snuff film. Once the image begins playing on its playground, SUBJECT 17 begins to violently convulse in the throes of injection. The convulsions do not die until the simulation is complete. Once SUBJECT 17 “dies”, the projector goes dark. Until the next simulation.]

Continue ReadingIT’S ALL IN THE EXECUTION by Persephone Erin Hudson

Unblinking by R.G. Vasicek

Unblinking. Me. You. Eternity. Breeze against my nostrils. Sea air. Dock noises. Clanging. Bobbing. Parallelograms of light. Waves. Particles. Everything is happening too fast. I cannot keep up. My brain cannot organize the information. I am a slow thinker. Machine noises. Hammering. Police sirens. Fear. Anger. Everything accumulates. Becomes too much. The human body cannot handle it. Mind is pregnant with too much reality. Ultimate reality. I sit. I write. I am a writer. I have no other means of coping. Sometimes I fuck my wife. She fucks me back. She is a writer too. Scribbling notes into a notebook after the act. We are trying. Whatever that means. Existence. Survival. All of the above. We buy cereals for the kids. Send them to school. The library is a sanctuary. My sanctuary. I go there to read. To write. I take the East River ferry. Sea breeze in my crewcut. I am no longer capable of long hair. The utmost calm is required to persevere. Whatever that means. The ferry makes wake. I feel the bounce of waves. Eternity. Is it going to rain? People say so. I am not sure. I am without umbrella. Gray skies. Dark clouds. Hmmm. Why is everybody here? They are crowding me. Tourists. I am seated at a table. Trying to think. Trying to write. I am writing. Watch me write. No. Kidding. Makes me feel self-conscious. Too much pressure. Stop. Really. I feel. Yes. I feel. Is it obvious? Is it subtle? Sometimes I walk around the city like a frightened rat. Ready to get jumped. Ready for a cat to pounce. I survive. Here I am. Everything is a miracle. Even this. My notebook is for you. No one else. I cannot stop. I am unable to stop. Words keep coming. They are not even my words. English words. Borrowed and stolen. The goulash of experience. Can you imagine this? My nondescript experience? I am surrounded by some of the most amazing buildings in the world. What am I really able to say. Not much. Not much. I am hungry. My stomach is growling. I have no desire to read. Unless it is Beckett. Time is with me. Time is against me. Time is a fiction. A fabrication. If you stop believing in time. Time ceases to exist. Especially here. We are quantum beings. I invented a human being named Zig. Now he annoys me. Refuses to go away. Wanders at the periphery of my memory. Ready to swallow me. Consume me. Beckett kicked my ass. I confess. I cannot wrestle with Beckett. Zig, not yet. I still have a fighting chance. I can become me. I can become me inside a Supernova. What light reaches me I do not take for granted. I have eyeballs. I have a brain. I see. Wavelengths vary. Frequency. Colors. Blue is my favorite color. Green. Orange. I cannot decide. Yellow. Possibly yellow. What strikes me is how language cannot handle any of this. Speak to me, human being. I am made of flesh. Sometimes I think God is going to send me an electronic mail. Never happens. If it ever does, I think I will press Reply All. See what happens. I feel guilty. Always. All the time. What did I do? More likely is: What did I not do? I am always not doing things. My major failings are failings of absence. Simply not being there. Here. Wherever that is. I am getting hungrier and hungrier. A hungry ghost. Eating the emptiness. Never quite satisfied. Even Beckett is not enough. Especially Beckett. I want more. I am handwriting this into a notebook. You can probably see my curled fingers. Feel my hunched back. Pushing my being into a table. Buttocks clenched in a plastic chair. Trying to make something palpable. This is no lathe, this. I can tell you that. But the machine feels the same. Endless turning and turning of… pieces. I learned to turn off parts of myself. A safety mechanism. A protection device. I do not want to live too dangerously. Despite what I tell myself. Café. Food emporium. Fluorescent light. Halogen. Light-emitting diodes. Sir. Are you there? Are you listening? Are you paying attention? I keep getting lost. Lost beyond lost. Some other world. Cyberrealm. Atomic speed. I need an emergency eject seat. Pilot of Nowhere. The kid needs to attend an open house for high school. Probably needs a sandwich. Before I take him there. Ham and cheese. I do not know. Everybody is moving at the speed of clay. Must be the café au lait. Speeds up the mind. Slows down the people. Might go back to the library. Charge my pocket machine. Nothing happens without electricity. I should probably grade papers. Nah. Seven is enough. The present tense is impossible. This is ridiculous. I cannot be here. I am in the future. Or a little behind. Things are getting weird. They always do towards the end of October. Darker. Uncertain. I need a woman to fuck me. My wife is too busy. She might. She might not. Moods are too unpredictable. Mine. Hers. Still. That said. She looked great this morning before she took a shower. Naked except for a three-quarter sleeve jersey. No panties. Hips. Hairy pubis. Television. Everything looks good. Real life is so much harder. Is this really happening? Any of it? It is. I write fiction. I write autofiction. I write truth. Fill in the blanks. Wide open spaces. Frozen tundra. Abyss. Back at the library. I see my wife. She is there. Coming out. Leaving. We say hello and goodbye. She is a writer. I wonder if she can read my mind? Is this chair sturdy? Seemingly so. Good enough. Blue ink spills. My ink-smeared fingers look like the fingers of a crazy painter. The Empire State Building is obscured by fog and mist. I can barely see it across the river. Through a giant trapezoid glass window. Are all windows made of glass? I suppose so. There is also Plexiglas. Germans are funny. I like their accents. There are no Germans here. Not that I am aware. I quake. A frisson of existence. Peace be with you. And also with you. I am a writer. I am an adjunct lecturer of the human imagination. What I say is nonsense. I accept it. I swear by it. I stand behind every word I say. A baby is crying. This library is crazy! I might have to go. Escape. Flee. Defect. Whereto? Great question. Great question. Babies are supposed to cry. It is the only proper response to the Cosmos. 2:54pm. Does that mean anything to you? I have no idea. Has it started raining yet? I have no idea. This novel is getting out of hand. Am I right, pal? Frightens me. Terrifies me. I must go deeper. Deeper into the abyss. Propast is the Czech word for abyss. Stepmother’s Abyss. Spelunkers pilot boats along emerald-green underground rivers in the limestone karst of southern Moravia. This is getting unreal. I need to stop. Put down the pen. Abandon all dope. Unplug the machine.

Continue ReadingUnblinking by R.G. Vasicek

Crackware by weirdal_andalus

Category: Intellectual property violation.

Product: Endocrinal Implant.

Report includes first name. Last name. Address. Employment status. Marital status.

The engineer assigned to this takes advantage of the company’s casual dress code, calculated in his unkempt approachability. He is speculating on two sources for this anonymous tip.

1. Adoration into accusations. Scorned lover or neglected friend, anything to fill some voids, plug some holes. Too familiar with personal details so it doesn’t take much to dig up some dirt. Maybe the target even likes to brag after she’s had too much to drink. Points at her chest about where the bootleg implant would be, seasons the gesture with a scoundrel smirk.


2. doxx, preying on dogshit opsec, message boards crawling with a different breed of vermin that seek to cannibalize a rival tribe. most of them that kind of young man that can’t keep their self-hate to themselves. anhedonic muck peppered with some like the engineer, corporate employees and day jobbers and Coding RockStars. some that grasp for auld lang #ffe days of anonymity, bacchanalia. just not willing to give up the prosperity or pussy of the nine to five.

doesn’t take an insider to know what happens next. messages have to be sent. from the comfort of a sleek standing desk, ergonomic white plastic peripherals. all those devices in nearby blocks, neighboring buildings and apartments. VPN? a security blanket. nobody can save you if your neighbor needs to talk to their tv. They sold you out and don’t even know it.

Data flows from his open office to a modular housing complex. exposed brick as a matter of course. As an exercise one can imagine he was not handed her coords on a simulated silver platter: then you just check down the boxes

      writing samples.
      repeated usernames.
      database dumps with passwords, emails, whatever else her fingers
      let slip into unassuming textboxes from the first day she ever went

      let alone if she put her face out there. felinid smirk and framing
      layers of silken jet blackness and eyes that write herself onto your
      wet wrinkled disk
      and the buildings behind her and the brands of her clothing
      and the cyber caliper algorithms that pick out her skull
      from a lineup 100% of the time

In her chest cavity lives the device in question. plugged into her glands with precision. Pumping into flowing blood. her phylactery. her plumbing. installation is easy as anything these days, you let the sensors work their magic and get the hooks nice and deep.

        PING 20.0 ms.

        PING 18.5 ms.

        PING 23.6 ms.

Connection established. Her diagnostics flash on his screen and he reads with lazy curiosity. Medicines being administered by the humble machine, dribbling into veins and swimming all throughout her. unlicensed and tampered with.

Signals like sonar and nearby camera feeds can be cobbled together to paint a pretty picture of the lovers in their apartment. The thief and her lover locking fingers on the couch, eyes on their phones but dancing to each other at clockwork intervals. Every few rounds accompanied with a tightening of that grasp.

The engineer takes a minute to sink himself into the scene, to let that omniscience throb and swell.

Failsafe measure or something along those lines. Initiate overdrive. Not the official title, this isn’t the sort of functionality you advertise.

a few coughs, the taste of pennies and bile in the spit up. abrupt “malaise”, muscle aches.

Legs clench together and tight black denim rubs against itself. Involuntary clutching of the genitals. The welling sense that something is very wrong. Saving pretty face. Shivering and stuttering out “I’m fine” and “don’t worry.”

The act can’t last forever. Feeling waves in flesh, straining away from bone. Composure melting, anxiety spiking, feeding between them. Oh God What’s Happening To Me. With a robotic jerk her limbs straighten, and she crashes to the floor, thrashing around until she’s flat on her back.

Italic arteries pressing up from tissue thin skin. cobwebs and ER diagrams and schizo doodles and a spilled bowl of spaghetti. rapid varicosity generation.

a sultry voice strained and sifted through electronic agony. sobs filtered through static and synthesizer bass.

she spurts open like a microwaved hotdog from clavicle to crack. the endocrine engine powers off with a sound like a sad trombone MIDI and girlfriend’s sneeze-sleeve instinct has the waif puking ana liquid-diet right into her ratty pink hoodie. Retching out gags and pleas.

Her naked ribcage is a pearly grin with scraps of sagging meat suspended. the maw exhales visceral gas with a rasping musky heat.

Her organs are of average quality. Little to no visceral fat, mild lifestyle wear and tear along the liver and lungs.

The engineer is saving a video copy to a physical drive without scrutiny. pto, sick leave, foosball and craft beer. tacit permission to scalpel skim off the top without budging the bottom line. video file saved to privateCollection.

Continue ReadingCrackware by weirdal_andalus

Old Lady Talking to Time by Daniel Beauregard

Dropped an egg in the gutter and down it went. On my way from market in the morning my old calf slipped and down it went, just so. I watched the yolk run. Another little world gone. If there were two if only there were two, it’d been quite the race. These naked pines—this wood—you’ve invaded the bark like a rotten chestnut [The trees creak in the wind.] Eh? [Silence.] Everything growing old as rocks; moss upon my chin. Tallowed whiskers. Shriveled eggs: no use renewing them now. They told me once that if you live long enough to see an ogre you’ve been dead for years. What do you make of that? [Pause.] No, nevermind. You stick to your agenda—whatever that might be—I’ll stick to mine, waiting for rain, though there’s hardly little stake in it save for the feeling in my bones. Times like this I’ve never felt so old; when the bones tell me rain I mean. [Pause.] You feel like something you forgot I imagine, or something without feelings, which is no feeling at all [A bead of dew slips off a leaf into a puddle by the side of the road.] Rippling outwards, I see. Now the pond, next the sea and soon to be the world. When you’re here with me, you’re also there, right…all over, watching other moments pass? [Pause.] But if that’s the case you must be everywhere at once.

I ask all of this without expecting much of an answer; it’s more for myself, reassurance rather—for my Time—to test the existence of it. [Pause.] It often seems as though there’s a film, a soft skin between people [ … ] Hm. I can’t articulate it. Well [Pause.] we’re walking out of town into something else. Out and in and out again. Out of town into the forest. Out of the forest into the dale. He and I used to look for gophers thereabouts when we were younger. He’d skin them then boil them in a pot. Not hereabouts but thereabouts, after the forest and beyond, into the farmlands. Don’t much care for them—not sure if anyone does—but they make a decent soup with enough time; if they’re boiled enough I mean to say. I’m sure you knew that [OLD LADY stops to watch a pebble bounce forward upon the uneven path that comes to rest in a patch of grass sprouting as if from out of nowhere.] How many boiled gophers are you? [The pebble, once more motionless amidst the blades of grass.] One and all boiled gophers. Here now we enter the forest and the burn, what we call the river here, follows beside us. In the summertime you were the sun going down and the table being laid. [OLD LADY kicks up a pebble with her bootheel, which skips along and bounces off into the burn, making a soft ‘plunk,’ the ripples it creates deafened by the motion of the water working its way downstream.]

Once you’ve passed are you able to return—I mean as yourself; if you wanted to go back to the beginning, when everything was nothing, could it be done? Perhaps not, since you’d be there twice; perhaps you lack the permission to decide such a thing. That’s a difficult thought to follow [OLD LADY pauses then the burn again, the water pressing upon the graveled bed, small pieces of algae wave imperceptibly upon the bearded rocks.] If before beginning there was nothing is it you or something else urging us forward, for if there’s no motion to mark then what would pass? [OLD LADY bends down, a reflection in the water, moving as steadily as ever; a brief pause, then continues.] Back to the wolf. Or the beginning. The beginning began as the wolf. Or the beginning of the end began in such a way, at least according to the stories. So the way we begin about the wolf is through the motion of a story about a wolf, so let’s begin [OLD LADY pauses; the reflection of a face for a moment, wavering with the unsteady motion of the running water, as if a wounded mirror.] When the world began was when it ended with the absence of the sun. When the snow began the world became a blanket. We all died. Everyone ate away with cold. You left us for eternity, until eventually you returned. But you’re not god [Pause.] Are you god? I lean towards the truth of there being none. But to name something is to make it a god. Who am I to say; or what am I to do otherwise? [OLD LADY stops briefly, glances upwards, continues on.] Plenty of power within a name. My goodness I’m tired. [OLD LADY stops again.] Lend me a piece of yourself. [OLD LADY makes her way to the edge of the path, towards a rotted out stump at the water’s edge, gazing down to the graveled bed.] Argh [Pause.] suited more for a sit than a stumble. [As OLD LADY makes her way over to the stump, she disturbs a swarm of flies hovering over a carefully arranged pile of entrails.] Oh my, not such a seat after all is it? Someone must have gotten themselves a trophy this morning. How many points I wonder, judging by the pile, a big one. [A splash; OLD LADY glances upstream, where unbeknownst to her, an Atlantic salmon hen is depositing the last of her brood of eggs into a small hole she’s dug in the gravel, in an area where the bank overhangs to provide shade and ample covering from predators. OLD LADY raises an arm to shield her gaze from the sunlight and continues peering upstream; every once in a while a small splash can be heard.]

Continue ReadingOld Lady Talking to Time by Daniel Beauregard

Schematic Impulse by Jon Chaiim McConnell

No image no track no sequence no discernible context no structure just contrast just action just movement just breath. A circular urge. Modular attention. An epoch defined across a set of organs. Modular attention. The invention of your progress. Modular attention. Progress is your own particular rhythm of loss. Sensational loss, as in sensations, as in tactile, as in the distances it takes to return to a feeling of nothing. Take a record of this data seriously. There are schema to facilitate. And the standard is a powerful schema. The familiar is a powerful schema. The severance is a powerful schema. The reparation is a powerful schema. The permanence of any state — powerful. There’s a personal subordinance. There are schema to facilitate for you. The circular urge. The urge is to have the urge. Is to comport towards the urge. Is a process of urging. Is consumption.

As in appetite. As in a prepared state1, extant before and then received into us. As in a hum of gathered intervals, when the act of gathering is an act of primacy. An act of coherence. An act in any order said to cohere to the next. Any act. Any order. The fact of an order at all. The fact of a word being one less that wasn’t. Being in any unresolved spaces at any given time, threatening. With no standard but state. By no practice but state. Through no process no discovery but states and states fulfilled. The shape of the fulfillment of a state. Every shape irregular in exactly the meant ways and the interaction of them to build towards some others. At every point chosen to accumulate. Urging to accumulate.


          open sentiment                           open travail
          open process                               bald comprehension


The coagulant of these is a powerful schema. An invitation to schema. An instance contingent only on the ability to receive impulse. An instance meant to alter and affix that impulse so that while the urge is fluid the instance has captured its shape at a given point in order to persist. Persist wrongly, of course. This is a misrepresentation, of course. The urge has moved on, of course. This is its point.

There were other points however. At one point we could choose to go on to progress or accumulate. At one point we could choose to begin in the first place. And imagine not choosing. How would the schema assemble? How would the appetite express? How would an act, any act at all, come to know its shape? Only in organic states of which input received. It could be ideal. But there would have to be no urge. And there would have to be no impulse. And this, we think, is much to ask.

Continue ReadingSchematic Impulse by Jon Chaiim McConnell

A Perfect Surface by Jon Berger

It was the night after Christmas and we split some acid.

Our shoulders hunched up at the bar.

Robert’s cousin overdosed last week and was gone. The bartender knew us, she knew his cousin, and she knew not to say anything about it.

She was drinking on the job, with long witch hair goth makeup. She knew we were tripping and was cool with it. A psychedelic spirit guide that knew where we were when we didn’t.

I started feeling the warmth kicking in, the draft beer, when tipped back felt like picking up and gulping down an above-ground swimming pool.

The green-velvet pool table had a fake Billiards light hanging above it to keep away the shadows.

I was solids, Robert stripes. Every time the cue ball hit the noise would send out from the crash. I followed it up to the ceiling until it disappeared into the hanging Christmas lights.

She delivered us a pitcher on the house along with an ashtray. It was cold out so she let us smoke inside even though it was illegal now.

Inside the bar felt like a glowing honeycomb.

She fired up the deep fryer and made us chicken tenders and jalapeno poppers. She offered us a ride but I told her we were okay.

The falling snow wasn’t heavy, just a nice powder. Coming down lightly.

Robert had this haggard tuner car like something out of a cyberpunk movie. With AWD and a turbo that lurched when he slammed through the gears.

The street lights and yard decorations swayed across the empty snowy streets and streamlined like going into hyperdrive. We pulled into the vacant parking lot of a foreclosed machine shop. The surface being untouched snow.

Robert drove around slowly like a shark then gave the car hell before whipping the ass end around, tapping the E-brake, shifting down, and counter-steering while working the gas and clutch pedals. The car screamed sideways, shredding the powder. The snow made it so the tires barely burned rubber.

We switched seats. Robert buckled up and cracked a beer. I took the wheel and circled the car back around.

Continue ReadingA Perfect Surface by Jon Berger

False Dawn by Garett Strickland

THE NIGHT BEFORE it blacks us out,     that not knowing     where we come from     and this enough for us to say     MOTHER     the sound of our dying     the maelstrom of our information     and the flutter     of a moth     escaping from a drain     in the dream we told somebody     somewhere     on a page     digital or burning     on a screen     or hidden in punctuation     as our tongue turns over     to let out our mouth

so much for the memory illusive that bites     to remind us     of the palace’s shape     a beach in the woods that we put there     beyond quantum     standing at the bottom     of what gave rise to a .wav file     staring up as the snow in reverse     of this bonfyre    and taking to it     like a building blooming up again and again     with this bridegroom

the way the garden of this place reaching thru to touch us as our touching     is the veiling to the veil itself in pure verb     flashes golden     how Parcival is in the Wall     of what’s showing at the midnight matinee     when innocence is love of sin     the occlusion at the center of the mountain     and its noise

how in the Electric Smoke That Speaks In Whispers we’ve time after time to relearn the eternity this takes us as the word      T      I      M      E      itself spreading for us in the grain      of the photo of a boat where our cellphones go to heaven and their pictures recounted aloud

where the hurt we do another in a story does to us its telling in attrition      all the times it does that makes us in this cloud      the good acts      loving-kindness thru the cracks      that seals them      back up      from the murk and silt      of a thousand lakes      to return us to our apex peak

The crying of that which never got a chance and destroyed all else      that arrives us      the horse we aboard      the space between space in the rhythm of the voice that we swam thru      the lethal protection of knowing where we are      released or resurrected      the pill we swallowed coughed out and dissolving in the dispersal of a scene that nailed its take      the romance gotten out of in the memory unmoored      surpassing referent      or the object of vacancy

Continue ReadingFalse Dawn by Garett Strickland


Tsiolkovsky looked like shit under the hab dome. Solarlites circling like flies, waiting for the airport without a busted airlock to clear their landing. Whole city’s been smelling subtly of shit for years, ever since they found some way to cheap out on the filters. Probably it’s poison to breathe.

Nearest we could all figure it was a way to make the offers they had to make to get us into suits and off the planet cheaper. When we took the company dollar and made the oath to reclaim the Earth they fed us like they wouldn’t feed rats, but it felt good to be eating without spending money. They got us drunk on cheap rizzo, the kind that everyone says tastes like drain cleaner or turpentine or something. It was the first time some of us had ever been drunk, and the ones who had been before just said, “Don’t worry about the puking, man, it’s the part that comes after it that makes it worth it.”

The officer on duty called us heroes, and we all laughed, and he laughed too. What a crock of shit, and everyone knew it! It felt good to know, you know? It felt good to be in on the joke for once.

Tell us for real that you wouldn’t die for something worse.

You offworlders have never understood the perfect hatred we have for each other, sucking marrow from long bones, chewing and spitting out our own flesh. No greater joy to us than the hunt, terrified singletons making busy tracks under vigilant eyes, glass or otherwise: We will find you, and we will change you, and we will make you part of ourselves.

And you offworlders have never understood the depths of our love. In the crush depths of the ocean our vestigial eyes are only there to see you. In the death zone of heaven our lichen curls to tangle with the wounds in your feet. You have blood, don’t you? By and by it will be ours. You have strength, don’t you? A mind, don’t you? A soul, don’t you?

By and by they will be ours.

K— was in love with Z— so she signed up to stay close to him. It was the stupidest thing and we all knew it, and we told her, “K—, you fucking idiot, you know there’s going to be megatons of Abomination between you and him, best case scenario.” And she was all, “Just knowing we’re looking at that big gross moon together is gonna make it worth it.” True love, you know? There’s a reason they tried to breed it out of us.

What’s there to be so afraid of? Pillars of tumescent flesh in the blistering sun, bristling with incipient melanomas. “This was a forest once.” Big deal! We have become the forest, and we know what the wolves knew when they screamed alone in the dark. What’s there to be so afraid of? No time to mourn trauma anymore but it belongs to us, only time to listen to the little voice inside that says: Rest; sleep. It will be over soon. The machine knew what was best for everyone. We have become the machine, and we know what the sirens knew when they wailed at our approach.

K— didn’t find out about it when Z—’s descent vehicle got scoped by the scoutweb, when he got pulled into a devouring field. Z— got taken the stupidest way anyone could get taken. He was deadass pulling the flare gun out of the first aid kit and about to put one between his own eyes when the voices convinced him not to. You believe that shit? Convinced him not to. Like, what was his endgame? No idea, even now. He walked out with the flare gun and got nerve pithed in seconds. Last thing we can tell that he saw with just his own eyes was what used to be the Guangzhou skyline cresting the horizon, and he couldn’t see the parts of it the Abomination could see, all the burn scars and all the mold and the little molecules of CZ still hanging in the air after all this time. He couldn’t see that yet. He staggered a few steps towards it and stopped being Z— all the way anymore, and then stopped being Z— at all.

No one bothered telling K—. They don’t tell us shit. We wonder if she felt it, or if that true love stuff is bullshit after all.

Your avatar is dying by degrees, blood slowing down in his veins, crackling under the breakbone fever in our gift. Death is a foreign country to us and you are our passport. Your armies are withering under our gaze, little kevlar-coated ants dissolving into retreat, into rout. Every man for himself: isn’t there a better way? Every man inside every other man. Genital intimacy, tendril intimacy, chimeric intimacy.

You will learn to love the children we make of you.

C— and his crew lingered a while over a dry patch in the Arctic on a slow southbound. Fewer photospores, weaker scoutweb. He could have flown that bird all the way to the Hudson, seen the urban canyons knitted together by human flesh, and he might have made it, too, but they set down first – pussies! – and actually got to the recon stage. All the birds were flying wrong, like they tell you. Nothing is afraid anymore and it’s weird as shit. Flocks made up of passerines and great big hawks. C— shot a few of them, more out of spite than anything, and they didn’t struggle as they died. Fucked up, they don’t mention that part. It’s like a fly they gave a neurotoxin, just dropped straight out of the air.

Thing is, though, C— got bad purification tablets. Sure, happens to the best of us, but he should have used more, everyone says to use more and just put up with the rank taste of the iodine or bleach or whatever the fuck else the lowest bidder put in them. But his mouth was too sensitive or something like that, or his teeth hurt or something like that. Whatever.

We have humored you, have wooed you as a nation wooes a nation, with all the roughness of artillery. Thermobaric munitions incinerating useful flesh. When you deployed the last of your nuclear weapons we howled in delight as your frozen fire seared our genes. You thought to terrify us but your terata are our delight, little vessels never meant to grow and thrive. We only think to know ourselves by the ways you twist us.

Continue ReadingI KNOW FOR I’VE HAD HEARTACHES TOO // DANIEL 7:5 by Paris Green

Carpet by Colette McCormick

I stared at the fish swimming around their bulging blue tank and wondered if their teeth ever hurt as well. It felt strange still going to a pediatric dentist but I’ve never been one who enjoyed making changes. Besides, I liked the way their office smelled like my grandmother’s old house. It must’ve been a few months since I’d been to my grandmother’s old house. I think she sold it 4 years ago. I never got to say goodbye to it. Goodbye, house. I’ll always remember your smell. I’ll always remember it as it’s the same smell as this dentist office. Other places smell like it too, like doctor’s offices, therapy offices, elementary school classrooms, banks and libraries. All places that I’ve spent a lot of time in. All places where you might find a fish tank and where they generally like to keep the carpets clean.

I’ve been trying to keep in better touch with my grandparents over the years but it’s been hard because my tooth has been bothering me. My grandmother tried to call me today but I didn’t answer. If I did I would’ve had to say sorry my tooth is bothering me and she would’ve started worrying. I think it’s better to keep people guessing than worrying. She could guess that I’m doing fine, school’s going fine, I’m still only 5’2” and no I haven’t put on any weight. She may even guess that my tooth is bothering me but I doubt it as we arent that close. I haven’t spoken to her in 2 years.

There are many things my grandmother doesn’t know that she could be worrying about. That I’ve recently picked up smoking again is one of these things. I used to smoke until I quit and started smoking again. I’m not addicted now like I was before I quit no matter how hard I try to be. I smoke like I’m addicted though, thinking every time I find myself somewhere without a cigarette is a time where I’ll start to panic and worry again. This is the reason I’m now addicted, which is something I can worry about and leave my grandmother out of. This is also why I don’t go to my grandmother’s house, as I wouldn’t want to taint its smell with cigarettes.

I wondered if the fish remembered what their grandmother’s house smelled like. Probably like clean carpets like mine. I guess if I was really curious I could just go up and ask them but I’m a bit of a shy person. I wasn’t always a shy person but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten less confident in myself. When I was 5 years old I used to go up to any old person and start a conversation with them just because I was curious. This used to be fine, as I was a kid and all, but as I got older I was told more of the dangers of going up to any old person and starting a conversation. So I became shy.

Another thing I did as a kid was pretend to smoke pencil grips like cigarettes. I was doing this one day when a girl came up to me and told me if I pretended to smoke now I would end up smoking later. Ya right, bitch, I thought to my 6 year old self. Now it is later and I am smoking and I’m angry that that snarky bitch was right. I wonder if she ever picked up smoking as well. I wonder if she gets cavities all the time and worries about the fish. Probably not. She’s probably calling her grandmother right now, scheduling her next visit to smell her house.

Continue ReadingCarpet by Colette McCormick