The Pier and the Long Wave Goodbye by Karter Mycroft

I was stepping off the Ferris wheel when things started unraveling. Amelia noticed it first. She touched my shoulder at the turnstile like have your arms always been that long? And I realized I could touch my knees without bending over and my elbows were slipping downward under my skin.

I became concerned and said holy fuck holy shit what the fuck. Amelia sort of smiled and I wondered if maybe we had fallen asleep or snorted three hundred milligrams of methoxetamine. But really we were just on the pier which made me start to panic. Meanwhile my shoulders were oozing past my nipples and my fingers fell lightly onto the damp dirty wood by my feet.

I got sick to my stomach and I needed to move or else I would die. I pushed into the crowd, slipping to the end of the pier where the waves were screaming over the railing. It was a cloudy but warm Saturday and the pier was busy enough to make me insignificant even though my body was rapidly assuming a grotesque morphology in defiance of all known anatomy and physics. A caricature artist with a Nick Cave mustache smirked as I passed, dragging my wrists behind like coattails; to him it was maybe not so strange. Another person pointed me out to their mom and said hey haha woah look at that. I tried to bury my face as more turned and stared but I couldn’t quite get my nose under my sagging drippy armpits.

By the time I reached the end of the pier I was mostly arms. Overall I had shrunk but my arms were at least ten feet long. I could barely see over the railing. Everyone was watching me with a look of bemused curiosity, like the faces people might make while looking up from their phones at a dolphin show. I wanted very badly to breathe and process, one two three four like my therapist said, but I was trapped between crashing waves and onlookers, both menacing, both sucking up the world and all the air with it.

Amelia caught up to me and said are you feeling okay? I jabbered something back at her and jiggled my limp appendages. I said Amelia you have to help me. Amelia call nine one one call an ambulance call a fucking helicopter get me out of here. I shouted these demands with great intensity even though the last time I used emergency medical services it financially ruined me. Amelia looked up and hopped away. A rogue wave exploded over the railing and soaked me head to toe. Head to finger. My toes were inside my hips now.

Now I was all wet and my eyes stung. When I opened them I was shorter than Amelia’s waist, my clothes had slid off and my arms were basically long as fuck. It was almost impossible to breathe and I wondered what was happening to my internal organs. I wondered if I would keep unraveling until I became one very long arm with a hand on either side and then I would die. I felt exposed so I spun in a circle and coiled my arms around my shrunken body like the spring on the inside of those nice pens. I heard everyone giggling. Amelia was a giant now, smiling down at me, and in a damp shaky voice I cried Amelia, Amelia what do I do? She rolled her eyes.

Another wave came then and knocked me onto my arm-wrapped stomach. I was small enough to see under the gap at the bottom of the railing. The ocean was very close underneath. The crowd had come closer, eager to see what I did next. Their smiles split their faces in two. They laughed and shouted and chanted, louder and louder.

Somehow they all knew my name. They knew every name I had ever used: the ones my parents gave me and the ones I gave myself, my failed bands and gamertags, the ID that showed me my bank account, names used to hurt me and names used to hide me, every slur and @ and AKA I’d ever known. They shouted my names in a vicious cadence, stomping and clapping, splitting my skull it was so loud.

Amelia whispered in my ear asking if I wanted a push. The waves rocked outside the railing and the crowd was stomping closer. Yes.

Hitting the water was like being born and murdered at the same time. My new form was not buoyant and I sank slowly in the cold murk. My arms unfurled from my tiny frame and trailed behind me. I found I could pulse them in such a way to propel myself forward, and though I couldn’t see much I felt them brush against fish and slimy kelp as I swam. I didn’t need to breathe and I wasn’t thirsty, but I opened my mouth and let in some water and it made me feel calm so I gulped it down. The sea felt cool and holy passing through me.

The crowd continued their chant on the pier, the cacophony muted by seawater like club speakers from inside the bathroom. I could just make out my name in the rumble. All my names, over and over, drenched in noise. I kept swimming and after a while it faded away.

Continue ReadingThe Pier and the Long Wave Goodbye by Karter Mycroft

The Biopolitics of the Republic: A Utopia of Fucking and War by Myra Glass

Before we can lay out the blueprints of our future we must first deal with the particular question that arises when speculative concepts of a new world are put forward now in our boring period of time. Why are you a utopian? This seems like a reasonable question because years of propaganda have thoroughly sanded the brains of your average person completely smooth to the point where they can not tell the difference between a utopian and dystopian project. In fact, they believe that all utopias are dystopias as anyone who is irrational enough to stray from the perfect platonic ideal of liberal capitalism must be a genocidal monster. The USSR and Nazi Germany are conflated into a gray blob of totalitarianism by mediocre intellectuals of a “free society”. Of course concepts of totalitarianism are nothing more than a mechanism by which the ruling class cancels thought crimes among the masses. If we were to judge the utopian project like the Soviet Union by the body count it has then wouldn’t the same standard also apply to say the United Snakes of Amerika? Can we judge liberal capitalism based on the mass grave of indigenous peoples and dead slaves that it grew out of? It is a well-known fact that Hitler’s open-air Holocaust of the Eastern European peoples was directly inspired by the settler Colonial genocide of the U$ so should we dismiss the sanctity of liberal capitalism? The answer is yes. The bulk of Soviet Union’s body count comes from Noble but stupidly planned effort to industrialize a backward Nation whereas America’s body count comes out the settler Colonial genocide of Conquest and Global imperialism. The Grand historical mission of the Soviet Union, utopian in its character, is what separates it from the equally “totalitarian” dystopia of liberal Amerika and Nazi Germany. 

This totalitarian consensus of totalitarianism leaves us with very few people willing to talk of Utopia. The minority that remains are academic schizophrenics like Fredric Jameson who are only capable of writing and speaking infinite patterns of jumble Jargon that mean little to nothing. That educated junkie James has sentenced himself to the cruel punishment of wandering the empty halls of the once Grand Hotel Abyss mumbling to himself aimlessly about utopia and emancipation as literary Concepts. We being neurotics of a different kind should pay academic schizophrenics nothing but pocket change, being professors they probably need it. Such academics have far less to contribute to the discourse of emancipation than actual schizophrenic homeless people, who at the bare minimum are proletarian in character. 

Continue ReadingThe Biopolitics of the Republic: A Utopia of Fucking and War by Myra Glass

Becoming-Ossuary by Mike Corrao

You are a WEEPER. And the ground is wet.

Interior. Surgical suite. Performance.
We undergo trepanation. Your dura mater exposed.
And the cut-shard placed onto a metal plate.
Just listen to this, Mike (Ed Atkins)
The air is so much louder now.
Your skull is whistling with beautiful music.
An arrhythmic glitching of foot-pedals.
The scene. The scene.
You with your tongue out and eyes crossed.
The cut-shard belongs in an ossuary.
An ossuary is a pile of bones.
An ossuary is a small coffin for bones.
Performance of funerary rites.
Beginning with an elaborate march and dance.
The dance is built of small actions.
They are arranged into a field of choreographies.
Procedurally-generated veneration.
The RUINER leads the march.
The cut-shard hums in its wooden chest.
Hues of pink light.
Underneath the surgery there is a cave.
The surgery is not over yet.
We are still at the suite, looking on.
Your dura mater remains exposed.
The trepanation is performed with a trephine.
Mouth-arms long, folded (Aase Berg tr. Johannes Görannson)
It shucks the shell.
A skeleton is practically an exoskeleton.
The only distinction is a thin layer of meat and membrane.
Intracellular destruction / annihilation.
You play us a beautiful song as we examine your innard.
ENTOMBED. RUINER. Leads the march.
They hold a quince over your box.
This was the fruit of the garden of Eden
No no no a pomegranate. A palmagranate.
What a lovely thought.
They march to the beach-head and bury you in the sand.
The ossuary waits there for sixty-four years.
This is a magical number. It is simple numerology.
Every year a black dog is thrown into the ocean.
What a lovely thought.
Interior. Surgical Suite. Performance.
The gait guard sits with his back-fat scraping the chair-back.
Splinters root into the unnerved flesh.
There is nothing here to hold onto (Anonymous)
We thud the trephine against your hard head.
The dura mater dries in the open atmosphere.
And now you are healthier. You are cured.
RUINER rattles the ossuary. Becoming-ossuary.
It should have that nice kind of pink blush on the inside.
And you are a WEEPER. And the ground is wet.
And a gourd is laid on the beach-head in your honor.
We envision a great feast.
Boiled liver. Young capillaries. Aged piss.
Everything in life is kaput.
We have inevitably taken up residence in an exclusion zone.
WEEPING in a meadow of sea vegetables.
Something like wakame or kombu.
In the summer they dry into stone-trees.
And we harvest them for the ossuary.
To venerate the march.
To summon the RUINER and visit the beach-head.
The rest of the body is expendable.
All that we need are the cut-shard and the dura mater.
Excess material can be discarded composted recycled.
Make a new skull.
Grow a new set of materials.
Like grafting a tree or a patch of skin.
Milque-chocolate or anonymous fluid exchange (M Kitchell)
The tech on your face is wet.
Are you a WEEPER? Someone asks. Out of sight.
Interior. Surgical Suite. Performance.
The tech on your face is replaced.
Or it is sprayed with a hydrophobic residue.
What do you mean?
We extract the eyeball carefully.
And sever the optic-nerve when it emerges from the shell.
And place the eye back in its socket.
With the visage of an owl.
Your tuft and feathery exterior.
Exterior. Surgical Suite. Performance.
Trampling your feet on the RUINER stomach.
Making them wheeze and crumple.
The ground is covered in viscous juice.
Either pulled from the soil or spit from the mouth.
Trepanation is a procedure for creating an unnatural facade.
A hallucinatory mise-en-scene (Slavoj Zizek).
The small actions of the dance mutate into new mediums.
An expanded field of movement.
The trephine looks like an egg-cracker.
The dura mater is a soft white membrane.
Between the shell and the loose gelatin.
A cruciferous head blooms from the cut-shard opening.
You look like a fungal sprout.
You smell like sulfur and moss festering.
We attempt to sever your connection.
Fungus… is vilified for its damage (Ben Woodard).
The surgical suite fills with a dense spore cloud.
Every particle of dust contributes to calcification.
This is a field of stone sculptures.
An invitation to the annual beheading.
We all look on with glee.
RUINER lifts the ossuary from a mound of drift.
And lodges it in the neck of the guillotine.
And crushes your cut-shard.
Into dust.
What kind of a performance is this?
What a lovely thought.
The trees look like fennel.
The grass is short and dead.
You are a WEEPER. Looking on your shattered chest.
The wood is built into a fire pit.
We plan a great feast.

Continue ReadingBecoming-Ossuary by Mike Corrao

Fundoshi by Damien Ark

You bought me this fundoshi for my twenty-third birthday, among other stupid cute sexy things. Said you always wanted to see me in one, and so I wanted it too. It was scarlet red, like fresh currant, red like the blood throbbing in my cock when I thought about wearing it for you, red like what I felt when I first met you and knew I wanted to marry you, red like the blood pumping from the tubes in your arms and chest and into the dialysis machine that kept you alive. Then red becomes a harsh piercing white.

With it came a thin Amazon gift note that read, “A Gift for you. Model these? Give me a show. Let me remove them with my teeth or my mind.” Today, the letters are barely noticeable, cheap black ink fading into the paper rolls they use for cash registers.

I took a three-day Amtrak trip to get to you. On the way, I was editing the final draft of my queer transgressive novel. We talked and texted endlessly. I sent you pictures and low-resolution videos of the mountains, forests, and valleys anytime I had a signal. ‘R u wearing it?’ ‘No…’ ‘Why not?’ ‘That’s weird. And hygiene.’ ‘Tighty whities aren’t that hygienic either.’ ‘I’ll wear it when we get there.’ Between editing my novel and talking to him, I had been reading Ocean Vuong’s new novel, which partially deals with the grief that comes with losing a lover. I couldn’t see the white beaming in front of me on the pages because the red was too pulsating under my briefs, thinking of all the stories I still wanted to write with him.

That first night, you made a ‘Jew joke,’ and I shouldn’t have gotten so uptight about it, but I just fucking explode to anything that could be deemed antisemitic. I know you didn’t mean it. You got me that Golden State Warriors Yarmulke. You’d remind me to go to services every Shabbat even when I didn’t want to. That day, we fought when we should’ve been fucking. Like, you as a sexy fucking bear roleplaying a Scottish accent, spanking my shaved little twink ass while I’m in a tight little chastity cage, or some other really crazy gay fetish shit that we’re into. But we made up the next day, ingesting five grams of a liquid mushroom extract, and I made sure to be kosher to what you fantasized of on that gift note.

And I remember how I felt like our bodies were like millions of tiny glowing angels locked in prison cells waiting to break out—my three-hour mix of tribal ambient music playing in the background. I was impatiently holding an instruction manual in both of my hands, telling you how to tie the fundoshi, while you were turning me around, moving your fingers up my crotch and around my waist. And it wasn’t sexual at all. Not until after the medicine wore off, after we cried, both of us imagining our eventual deaths, and each of us knew who would die first. Soft hues of red momentarily become flashes of white.

You tore the cotton underwear off of me with your teeth while I was tied to your bed. Made me cum all over my chest and face and then you licked it off. And I remember after the sex, the scarlet piece of cloth tangled between my feet as I lay on your belly, in an oceanic bliss, the fallen angels inside of me released from their prison.

I’d found videos on YouTube and pdfs of male Shibari tutorials. Hesitant, I worried that they’d be too complicated for you to master, but then I remembered your patience, your brain, things I won’t ever have. Like most things, I’d see some sexy Yaoi image on Pixiv, and I’d joke, ‘We need to recreate that.’ But then you’d find a way to do it all and better. Red bamboo silk rope to compliment the fundoshi, arms tied behind my back, feet bound together, many more knots and loops over my thighs, arms, hexagrams and constellations made of thread over my chest and back. The more I’d fidget to escape, the tighter the restraints would get.

Never thought I’d wake up with an erection, mourning the days where you’d leave me tied up in your bed, porn left on the TV, then you’d walk away to do nothing for an hour or two, before coming back to edge me. The only rope that I envision ever using again in my life is for crafting a noose, which would then transform into a squeezing halo, the tip of my tongue bitten off, eyes swollen bloodshot, but behind the iris, a permanent field of white.

I miss you more with each passing day. Some days, the red seems like visceral stab wounds, chewing on cartilage put through a meat grinder, and the white is like snapped bone. And I scream and sob in uncontrollable throes of psychotic torment, in private and in public, sometimes laughing maniacally at strangers, crawling into fetal position in the corner of a staff bathroom with my legs slashed up, breaking my left hand out of rage, feeling beyond pathetic, only wanting you back again. And yet I still learn to love you more every day.

The red fundoshi remains hidden, crumbled up in the far back of my underwear drawer, behind my cold lifeless white briefs, waiting to be touched by you again, but I know that day will never come.

Continue ReadingFundoshi by Damien Ark

Already Dead by Germán Sierra

we imagine ourselves already dead—the soft mirrorettes that used to look at you in amazement have long since broken, while the hand … bah, who cares what those ignoring-it-all scarecrow-grass fingers ever did—no one alerted, or bothering to check out, not even to take note or for routine certification; corpses like toads gobbled up by right-angle snakes armed with sharp jewelry and deadly enzymatic compression; exquisite putrefaction in the intestines of bare, elemental apartments, which have been modestly comfortable graves all along—the walls, white—the shelves, ossuaries of paper—the few pieces of furniture, improvised catafalques—this laptop, a tombstone—the music that lights up, a requiem—passwords, an epitaph—the views, a purgatory—work, unfinished—the unknown, not cleared—the puzzle, unsolved—the reward, not collected—, having presumably gotten rid of, as it is customary in certain coldern countries, almost everything superfluous; secret socialites, old clothes and shoes, archaic computers, a jukebox and a Japanese-made typewriter, badly screwed and crumbling furniture, costume jewelery, talismans, an endless sequence of fractal fantasies, objects abandoned by those who had temporarily stayed in our place (friends, or people who had nowhere to go, or whom we fucked, or we desired, or who wanted to fuck us but we didn’t realize or didn’t want to find out and decided to offer them the bed while we stayed on the couch appropriating the guest’s intoxication to suck his dreams, feeding ourselves with the fantasy of a severed throat uncovering a stream of blood), the remains of a whole pharmacopoeia for minor and temporary ailments, magazine and newspaper clippings that echoed of our incessant activity, gifts never removed from their box, one of those lamps called flexos, never scrubbed teapots, a videotape player, albums with photographs already digitized, a bicycle wheel, a bevel, kitchen utensils that we never got to use, some whose usefulness we still don’t know and only remind us of the fascinating surgical instruments in a Cronenberg movie; quilts and blankets worn out by the surge of the muscles, by the sequential impact of waves that dragged innumerable bones eroding all the surfaces and edges of the house until they were curved and smooth, by the rhythm of dreams of agitated bodies; frayed rugs, ripped curtains, exotic liquor bottles, statuettes, scribbled notebooks, odd and impure numbers, various works of art we did not attribute value to, toys left by the children of others, a checkerboard without chips, a tamagotchi, nuts and screws, a collection of plastic ashtrays of different sizes and colors, the shell of a turtle, a rifle bullet without powder or sheath, a pair of ping pong rackets, a microscope with broken lenses, matchboxes from restaurants, phones from way before they were smart, instruction manuals for home appliances starting to rust around their corners, three hats, canning cans, an umbrella, a dowsing pendulum, a stuffed piranha, an alpine knife, an ivory mouthpiece, a cardboard box containing fossils and Lego pieces, an orb, sheet music, a small glass jar full of spare change from another era, coins with little value but a million vernacular nicknames, coined in alloys so light they looked like paper buttons; having considered lighting a pyre or throwing everything out the window like vomit, the undigested by time, enjoying the destruction of the meteorological past crashing onto the also dead asphalt, hoping that, with the objects, certain habits and obsessions would also go away —or maybe not, maybe what we were longing for was to get closer to extinction with our vices intact and the satin shroud attached to the skin, superimposing folds to wrinkles, transforming us into a macabre instrument of crisscrossed strings that could, perhaps, incite a manic pizzicato fetish—; algorithms concealing our silent desertion with their crude but effective imitations, responding to the falsified messages that will continue to arrive as if they were still us; posting pre-programmed videos; plants watering and sunning themselves; our clothes, ironed, lightly scented, impractical, hanging in the closet; a suit that we haven’t worn since the day we were awarded a distinction; the frozen wind of the arctic hurrying farewell to the terrors that it will be depositing in the mailboxes; our credit cards paying automatically all those invoices from companies that provided us with a service and will not pause to consider the death of a debtor without heirs or fortune; profiles and avatars, still active, twinkling, hoisting our retouched covers, trying in vain to seduce in our place, the place of those archaeopteryxed on the oakwood floor of the living room, those laid on beds like mummies, livid rag dolls unraveling on an old black leather sofa while beyond the window the helicopters sing, cooking us in our own juices in the bathtub, deceased alive in the Internet Hades like the fabled feline in the quantum story;

when dying, we will undramatically stop being anyone and will become variety, maybe a multitude, because multiplicity is one of the most common disguises that nothingness adopts for itself; a jumble of pinches of confused subjects scattering through the air like corkscrews of a metallic vapor, glitter sneezed by a brass statuette; there are words that darken the air’s gaze; why when we fantasized about transforming ourselves into something—a zombie, a wolf, a cyborg, a machine, an insect, dust—were we always confident to remain the same on the other side of the metamorphosis? the possibility of dissociation, if ever considered, triggers extreme dread; however, when examining the past, it is impossible to speak it in the singular; every moment dreams an infinity of past premonitions; the phantasmatic is more a swarm than a miracle; There is no monadic subject from which preaching as if it were the imaginary center of an ideal geometric figure, but a multipole projection, a dimensionless outburst of selves and non-selves and anti-selves vibrating with variable intensity, spreading throughout the hell invading all times and all spaces; light, when decomposed, produces colors; our brains will be made of insects that will devour each other, that will parasitize the rotten ganglia of their own cannibal larvae, and we will be convinced that we were more than that anthill of images squatting on paper and pixels trying to represent the same face once and again across the years; years that will not always have happened one by one as it might be expected from a mandatory chronology (if it were our business, we would divide duration in a different way—in chants or connections, for example), but that sometimes might have collapsed and fallen in unison, a rupture of the skies, as during the avalanche—dates do not matter, it is enough to know that it will last forever—when at the end of an adolescence hypnotized by the neutrality of animals and plants chattering in fractured tongues, a whole decade fell over us, a shower of cold world, just like one of those buckets of water that jokers placed in balance on the the upper crossbar of a half-open door; all that music that had been accumulating in spirally-scratched capillary grooves on circles of black paste like clouds gather in the sky until they unload a flurry of pellets, and all those books so recently papered and glued, and the toxic distillate flowing through the avenues of an empire erased from history like after the ash snowfall in Pompeii, embalmed and silver-covered assassins emerging from the sewers, honey swept by streams of dirty water, ominous symbols and a black uniform that we would never take off anymore, we would only put the white coat on, like the robe of a cosmic judge or the costume of a supervillain; ten years, suddenly, of sound and dreams, from when decades were forged in iron and weighed like buses instead of being light puffs of stinking air as they were later, and a whole century of mad philosophers and suicide poets, and we thought that it had been a decade or a century when it was actually half a millennium what fell and crushed us, leaving us without buildings, without roads, with only the late tremor of seismic aftershocks to guide us in the darkness of a reborn universe;

we will not be, thus, just a summary of that file of snapshots of castaways with their eyes lost in the void, but also many others, possibly some of you, our memory will have appropriated your identities, your disguises, your being-thus instead of being-there; or, better, it will have been built with their raw mass—indistinct and amorphous cement or collection of elusive objects according to your ontology of choice—with their and your dreams sealed with tears of mastic and digital viscosity and the bittersweet touch of the ancient materials and the rebellious flesh merging into the fruit that returns with each season; hence you cannot, for example, call us Ishmael—which would be much easier for you but inaccurate—or by any other name by which we have been unknown;

following the decadent and wise peoples we had piled wood, marble and ivory around a bundle of gods in order to interpret a prediction despised by statistics; the last general cleaning had been more the beginning of an epilogue than of a new life, an essay for that end of days that will not be an explosion but a sigh, that will not stamp its indelible mark on the universe as when a star and the echo of its agony floats forever in the form of a subtle radioactive murmur—or, conversely, the final whimper triggers a ventriloquism of minute vibrations in the air that amplify into a cosmic storm light years away of our blackout, like the flapping of wings of the usual butterfly or the bitter and screeching song of disciplined mosquitoes, and the end of our days might cause the collapse of the universe in millions of years from now, when there will be no years or days because there will be no earth, no sun, no rotations, and there will be no science left for you to write down a birthday card; in either case, hydrogen won’t end as dust; how long has it been since we’ve had a good portion of baked lamb, toro sashimi, a stew?; we will arrive at that autumn of winter that heralds spring and the blood of the day will drip again through grooves and cracks that have remained—shadows, wrinkles and imperfections hidden by makeup—in singular lethargy for several months; nothing will enter the retinas against the light of the eyelids; only, perhaps, some animals will pay attention to the immobile bodies; depending on our previous zoological inclinations, we will be quickly detected as available food by friendly domestic carnivores—cats, dogs, ferrets, mongooses—or a little later by our friends the severe sewer rats, perhaps accompanied, depending on the latitude of the funeral event, by other scavengers and opportunists, including non-mammals; in the case of people like us, who have never surrounded ourselves with pets, being eaten by urban rodent tightropeers seems like an equitable revenge, because throughout our long professional career we have sacrificed heaps to science, with the mitigating effects of anesthesia and controlled conditions, purposely bred for the experiment in sterile plastic drawers, transported from the animal houses, through corridors with satin white painted walls to the illuminated laboratories where they would be disposed as if they were identical pieces of an immense global puzzle, their lives as simulations of the life we had tried to compose and then whisper the instructions to the number-sewing machines, summaries of the arcane existence of the phenomenon, footnotes to our mental image of the human condition, that kind of molecular salvation so set in motion, questioned by love to last, to be restored in the icy privacy of the operating room; it could well be said that we were specifically bred to scamper around the earthly maze of the mass market, to enthusiastically respond to invitations to consume as much as possible, all the time, pushing bright buttons from inside our cages and sometimes producing any thing—a result, a provisional conclusion, a transparent crime—; as Wistar, BALB/C and Sprague Dawley as they are; but we will be dead, we will be gone and not objecting to the dubious architectural mess caused by the multiple gnaws of nervous and hungry jaws, lips painted with decomposed blood; we will not ask for shapes and styles to be respected or appearances to be preserved, we will no longer have the option of consenting to be tasted or not, possibly with an enthusiasm that we had forgotten, first the juiciest parts torn—lips, eyes, nipples, genitals, those perky fruits of meat, always so perfectly ripe and so tempura and so prone to swelling and so on the verge of bursting by themselves even without the internal pressure of fermentation and fly larvae—, before going on to taunt the crunchy cartilage of slightly acromegalic ears and noses; in the absence of animals in residence everything will depend on pure chance, on the solidity of the walls and partitions, on the height of the floor in which, suddenly but not unexpectedly, we will have stopped using oxygen, on the diameter of the pipes, on the season, on whether or not we’d closed the windows before collapsing, before starting to stink of a mixture of balsam, hydrocarbons and garbage; before running out of reason, of monsters, of sleep


Continue ReadingAlready Dead by Germán Sierra

Spaceships by Nathaniel Duggan

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.

Continue ReadingSpaceships by Nathaniel Duggan