timesick with futures, a half an hour of a distant era crashes into downtown big city — unfolding those thirty minutes with wonders and horrors.
telecircuited phone ads run rampant in pretty patterns, sending supermemes into the locals heads. they transmit text via thought, and heads gush blood with overload. minds are overwhelmed in datapatterned letters. lights of futuremen, crystal eyes and evolved territory glands pheremonically overwhelm genderpolitik. a dayscraper — a daily evolution of a giant, green-windowed building — shoots up in minutes, aging as it lets people live their entire lives, deaths, unlives, and raptures before rotting into thin air.
chronophysicians arrive from pastportals, stitch up the hole. the half an hour lapses in five minutes of horror. dazed and confused, people stare at each other. what just happened? did it even happen?
time is a slippery thing. holes have rotted away. sometimes the wound is too great.
the hours heave again for a second, and everyone’s phone smiles. then it settles. for now. and for then, too.
and I ask my lovers, do you know, where the desert roses bloom and grow
fuck, man. I am so tired of being disappointed and infuriated. it’s really tiring. it really is. when it gets to that point where it feels like it’s all day, every day…god damn. thank fuck I’m a day drinker.
I never understood the rationale behind the punk kids who thought that SLC Punk was reaffirming to their lifestyle, or the people who came away 500 Days of Summer only thinking about how wonderful the first 290 days were.
Renfield Smith never remembered what he was doing in his house.
sometimes he’d make dinner for two — eat, and the other plate vanished. he’d find himself watching movies he hadn’t put on. he would clean up messes he never made.
he never went outside. he never opened the doors.
sometimes, when he left the kitchen, he would look over his shoulder — he would turn around, and see himself in the kitchen mirror, but it wouldn’t be him. he would look closer and see nothing.
after a time, Renfield wondered if he had gone mad. he walked up and down the stairs, fetching things that were not his, that he could not remember ever having gotten. he didn’t know who he gave them to.
his hair went grey, his eyes sunk in, and he lost all but the slightest of meat on his bones.
then, one day, he was leaving the kitchen, after a full buffet he did not eat, after washing all the dirty dishes, and turned — to see himself, again. but vital, strong, colored in the cheeks. Renfield stared.
and then Renfield remembered, his kitchen had no mirror. what could a kitchen do with a mirror?
gasping, Renfield lurched backwards towards the front door, grasping.
no, said a voice. his voice. another voice. god’s voice. no, don’t do that. make me another meal. watch some shows with me. get my nice clothes from upstairs.
a crystalline moment of reality unlocked, and — the hypnotist — the xenophobe. a construct, a man made of thought in an empty suit, unwilling to poison himself with the outside world. locked away in Renfield’s house, using Renfield like a puppet. Renfield saw. Renfield saw who it was who had invaded his house.
he remembered the screaming. the fighting of his will. years ago, before Renfield saw less and less.
Renfield put his head against the front door, and he moaned. he remembered so much, now. awful things he did to himself. under command. under control. feeling nothing, seeing nothing afterwards. Renfield remembered nights of terror, watching the xenophobe prowl, closing all the windows. locking out the light. locking out the world.
the wood of the front door was warm.
listen, crooned the soft commanding whisper of the xenophobe. there’s nothing in turning the door. walk away, Renfield. put on a movie. make me some soup. I am your mother and your father. do as your told.
you’re in the kitchen, said Renfield. he did not turn. you’re too far away for your tricks. and even if you weren’t, I’m too tired for you. there’s not enough for the both of us.
there’s not even enough me for me, anymore.
Renfield opened the door. the sun, smiling, poured in.
the xenophobe shrieked and was undone — exploding from within himself, exposed to the outside world.
Renfield smiled, his last sad smile, and they both burned.
dead cenotaphs shaped like lovers throw anonymous names into the night sky. everyone watches deformed freak babies born out of craigslist missed connections dance like disco fire. the antichrist and dj jesus spin new, cooler-than-the-future tunes for everyone else.
out in the club, the scene — storybook girlfriends and boyfriends drowning in bourbons and divisions subsidize conversations in geometric patterns outward. the singles crowd align themselves in chess match configurations based on the attached wordplay. linguistic patterns carve new sexual designs — and reform old ones — as everyone throws their hands up for aroused indifference.
out on the balcony, reflections from skyscrapers throw faces back onto people’s skulls. disinformational dresses and suits with hangman ties ricochet off impossible contortions. manhandling womanizers escalate situations with bravado as waiters suicide for entertainment’s sake.
leave ‘em with a smile.
songs somebody should have written don’t play on the jukebox. everyone loves them. instant classics, they say. unfutures of impossible pop charts kaleidoscope and collide outwards.
number nobody throws on some cool shades as the city strobes out. patterns of love flash like lightning up and down the cables of the bridge. San Francisco puts out. goodbye, goodnight.
listen. I don’t think you guys understand how much I love kittens. I mean, I may be a big old bastard but I do have this weird soft spot for tiny animals — but nothing so much as when a kitten is still a wee little thing and does the pawing around and the sadface little groping and the awkward adorable biting and the passing out in the most uncomfortable and bizarre positions ever. whenever my friends have kittens I make it a priority to get out there and nuzzle some tiney-winey widdle kitty faces. I make it my business. I will pet any stray cat on the street or spend an hour in the bookstores with cats of all sorts of breeds. I just love cats. I love their weird, selfish, whorey, stuck-up personalities with that weird mix of deep-seated but begrudging affection, I love their ears and tails and that insanely disgusted look they give you almost ALL of the time, like fuck you buddy, I just use you for body heat. they’re adorable. they are fucking ay dor a blee ey. cover me in kittens and throw me in the tiger cage. goddamn precious.
Mr. Perkins-Strohd patrolled the shores of the island with a diligence that bordered on obsession. in his younger years, he had found a boat, empty of passenger or possession, and it became his. since then, Mr. Perkins-Strohd found his love for the sea surrounding the island, and would often row back and forth to the city, rather than the bridge.
as the years grew onward, Mr. Perkins-Strohd was no longer a boy with fancies of free boats to entertain him, until the day came that he found a bottle, with a letter printed in a mysterious language, and several gold coins. he traded in those gold coins, and lived like a king for a period of time approaching three weeks.
approaching middle-aged, Mr. Perkins-Strohd happened upon a sodden briefcase, filled with undamaged waterproof cameras. a day later, he sold them in the city for a considerable sum — they were actually of a remarkable, old design that hadn’t been seen for many years.
other things washed up too, that Mr. Perkins-Strohd took little account of — soaked pages in that mysterious language, strange turtles with sad, human eyes, and curious and useless artifacts locked in a green, bitter steel.
nearer his twilight years, but not yet wizened, Mr. Perkins-Strohd found a pillowcase full of pain pills. he told no one — of course not — and even on the island, small and full of rumor, he indulged himself on a semi-regular basis, taking from him the aches and pain of age.
and then, sadly, Mr. Perkins-Strohd’s luck ran out.
coming around the bend of the island, past the Hook, past the abandoned quarter, his eyes widened as he watched a man wash up to shore. it would be misleading to say he “washed up” — more accurate would be that the water itself collected and spat him out, where he landed upon the shore. the other man was dressed in skins of sewn, tiny insects and jewels shaped like eyes were embedded in those skins. Mr. Perkins-Strohd turned him over and gasped — the other man’s eyes were sewn shut, and a horrible scar mutilated a strong jawline.
"listen," said the other man, a grating whisper.
"he comes. I am the doorway, the nine-eyed. the integration. the beckoning."
Mr. Perkins-Strohd saw that around the other man’s neck were tattoos, written in that mysterious language. the other man’s hand tightened down on Mr. Perkins-Strohd’s arm, and he cried out.
"you have suckled upon the luck and accidents that have leaked out of portal and dimension. now behold the opening of the gate. he comes — the Master, the integrator."
the man’s closed eyes flickered, and green lightning poured out of them. Mr. Perkins-Strohd watched in horror as the other man’s head grew swollen, green lightning arcing around him in a gruesome halo, until the top of the other man’s head exploded.
stars and tentacles poured out, lashing onto streetlamps and burning on the pavement. metallic nothings and blinking jewels covered the lashing, brittle limbs. something enormous — unthinkably huge, larger than the island itself, was trying to birth itself from the hole in the other man’s head.
Mr. Perkins-Strohd closed his eyes. a clicking, uproarious laughter sounded in front of him, and then a stinking breath, like being swallowed by a whale.
Jhon Murdersohl was the last living avatar of the Master, the great outer one, the integrator. He had executed the rites — placed the scrolls within himself, through hours of torturous, inexpert surgery — and bathed once in the blood of the only woman he ever loved, until it dried, and cracked on his skin. He did not cry — the Master would not like that.
the portal he sat in front of, in a robe covered in blue symbols of the eldritch, bone-writ language of the great outer one, spat green lightning once or twice, but refused to stay open. The most powerful acts of will, the most dangerous sorcery, the most appalling sacrifices, only gave it blinking moments.
Jhon, aware that the crux — a moment in which realities overlapped, and where the Master lived in the home of integration, and our world — was near, and he should have the portal ready by then.
In the days that followed, Jhon desperately sacrificed anything and anyone — local children, pets, family members, the old and the young. Great philosophers and virgin college students. Weeping mother’s staring up at him, clutching their children in the last moments before his knife came down. Nothing. He wove great deathmagick, even ambassadormagick of portals so arcane it spawned innumerable cancers in his gullet, but nothing.
Finally, defeated, exhausted, Jhon lay his face upon the cold, stained concrete and a tear slipped from his eye. The last human moment of defeat.
A single tentacle, covered in metallic eyeballs and precious stones, shot out of the portal, and wrapped around Jhon’s neck, and squeezed until the blood in Jhon’s face burst, followed soon by his skull.
The blood poured upwards into the air, into the portal, and the green lightning began to strike faster.
the surgeon’s eyebrow raised as the dead skin began to squirm. restless glowing letters, in otherworldly, ouroborean shapes began to seep through from underneath. the sickness inside the rotting elephant vomited into our realm - a terrifying, slick unreality spooling out from the guts. howling uncreatures spoke from flowing intestinal spoor.
the surgeon’s eyes melted as he howled away his mind.
it came from the island, just outside the city — my friend gave it to me. I wanted a corgi, but I looked into that puppy’s wide, brown eyes, and I couldn’t say no.
at first, the dog was affectionate. it would play with me. we would walk around the city together. it had a rugged brown pelt spotted with white.
then, things grew strange. other dogs would shy away from it, whimpering. it’s face grew…sunken, and teeth seemed larger. I told my friend, and he said it wasn’t being fed enough. I gave the dog more food. it did not eat it.
then came the nights it would paw and bark at the back door restlessly, until I let it run around. it would always come back before the sun was up, wet with morning dew. after a week of night runs, it grew larger — fat, even.
I came outside one night for a smoke — to enjoy the brief burst of the stars over the city, and I saw it. the dog, muzzle buried deep within the belly of a child. the child’s eyes sunk in and the body imploded, sucked into the dog’s mouth. the blood covering the dog turned pale, then thin, then white, leaving nothing but a dewy residue. beside the dog were the clothes of the child’s parents, too. I shouted at the dog, and it ran to me, and looked at me. it knew.
in that terrible moment, it knew I saw it for what it was. nothing canine — just a shapeless predator hiding in a dog.
the dog’s skull shuddered open, and from within, came something loathsome. like a hand. made of wasted, blinking tentacles. eyes with teeth. each hissing an unfamiliar word. they shifted and clacked, full of too many bones in the wrong configurations. there was an underlying awfulness — an abomination to the senses. the skull peeled away, and the hand grew larger, tentacles larger than that of a giant squid. thousands of them unfurled from where the head was, a defiance of size. it lurched towards me, clattering with extra bones and blinking those awful, grinning eyes.
crazy egomaniacal things I think when I'm waking up
I have to get up and take a piss, but, as per normal, I have killer morning wood.
and the stoners are downstairs, ruckusing in the kitchen. probably discussing cereals with the most marshmallows, and aliens.
you know what, fuck them. I will go and I will piss and if they have to stare at the grandiosity of Daniel Michael Vaccerelli’s amazing morning package then by jove they will. serve it up, bitch! with bacon and eggs! I’m a man. waffles and syrup.
then I remember I used to do that to poor Squid, and I think I traumatized that poor bastard. but then, he also got to see Liz’s tits, so. all’s fair in love and oversexed roommates.
man, I could go for some bacon and waffles.
this could all be solved if I’d just put on some pants, but you know what? pants are the gateway drug to unfulfillment.
the prophet-man, stuttering blood past broken teeth, shouted from the street corner. traffic zoomed past.
the gate of the immortals, home of the ab-legions of the Master, the great outer one, the integrator! I await my integration! I await my integration!
he fell over, clutching his chest. from within, underneath, he could feel his skin turning soft, and his ribs, uncoiling. like tentacles. like worms. something inside him began chewing, and the prophet-man screamed, vomiting blood.
I await my integration, he shouted, past a mouthful of his own steaming entrails. I await my integration! the Master! the Master comes!
his skin twitched, the awful things underneath eating their way outward. he could feel them biting. what was once his ribs, the little mouths with blades for teeth, devouring inward towards his heart. the sacrifice. his integration.
expanding on a slightly bitter tweet-moment, as it were
you know, I meet a lot of my chick friend’s boyfriends. and…most of the time, I end up thinking to myself, what the fuck are you doing. this is some short, vegan nonentity of a man. he’s not even clever. he’s not even…anything. he’s obsessed with boring things that you don’t like either, and what the fuck.
or, you know, it’s the opposite direction and it’s just because he’s tall and I’m like congrats, you take home a giant every night. does he clear out the cave trolls? have you won the Californian Girl’s Unspoken “Shit Bitch, Look At How Tall This Thing I Let Touch My Vagina Is” Contest? even if he’s breathtakingly boring?
or he’s just some stoner musician who…what? barely even speaks, kind of mumbles into his guitar, and just sits there.
I guess I’m just used to hanging out with insane creative people, who, for their sins, have a personality. even if it’s a bad one. like, you know, the bunch of really fucking snarky hipsters. but at least they actually have something. sure, mostly “something” is a bunch of drugs, but christ.
I dunno. too many times now, I meet someone’s husband, I meet someone’s fellow, and I really am seconds from going WHAT THE FUCK. THIS IS A SHELL OF A MAN. THIS IS SOME CLICHE RIDDEN FUCKING LOSER FROM A HOLE IN REALITY. YOU CAN DO BETTER. INFINITELY BETTER.
then again, my complete lack of willingness to give in on going for anything less than amazing that I want completely, really is what’s kept me single for so long now.
it came that the love of my life, Penelope, and I moved to the island. we could see the city lights, and the beautiful bridges, and at night, everything was lit up. like fireworks.
Penelope and I took a small house on the edge of the island. near the sea. we were surrounded by happy older couples, and to the distance, near the shore, was the Hook. an unfinished, groping arm of the island. when I would walk our dogs, I would see it grasping towards the northern end of the city.
Penelope was joyous — occupied with her art, and all the breathtaking views. she spent all her time on the peaks, near the oceans. when she wasn’t painting, she was in town, listening to the garrulous tales of old men at the storefronts.
they were full of horror, the old men. haunted houses. the undead sailors. told with a jovial air and a twinkle in the eye. I never took to their stories, but Penelope loved them. she would breathlessly recount them to me in the night, after our lovemaking. things living under the water.
I would spend all day indoors, practicing the piano, tuning instruments. I made good money in this fashion. visitors from the city commented on my prowess. it was enough that when Penelope asked me if we could consider a child, I agreed happily. the lecherous old men of the island town offered suggestions on how she conceive, but, she would draw me outside, so we could couple while she stared off into the ocean.
it was my own lackluster attentions, that led to this, no doubt — but I noticed her paintings took on a different tone. drawings of faceless men on the Hook. pictures of children playing on the shore, surrounded by bones. bodies, constructed of parts and bat wings and tentacles. the ocean. the Hook. children. again and again, she painted them. I noticed, too, our dogs grew restless around her. petulant, they would whine if she stroked them.
the night Penelope told me she was pregnant, though, I was overjoyed. I forgot our troubles — I was to be a father, at last. but as her pregnancy went on, she grew distant. further away from me. our dogs, one night, vanished. she said they must have run away, tired of the lack of attention. her cravings grew surreal. she wanted meat, as uncooked as possible. I withdrew, myself. into my music. I played the piano, every night, over the sounds of her in the kitchen, eating.
months passed, and Penelope grew fat, with gravity and child. there was something mesmerizing about her — the size of her. she would sit in the parlor, patiently stroking her belly as I played the piano, nightly.
eventually, as her time was coming closer, she spoke less and less. she grew sickly — yet vital. there was a life in her I’d never seen.
then, came the fire, one night. from the window, I could see the flames. the bridge to the city was engulfed. townsmen were just standing there. I ran upstairs, but Penelope was nowhere to be seen. I ran to the fire, to help, but no one worked. I saw people walked into the flames, and shouted for them to stop — but no one did. eyes screwed up in heads, people let themselves be consumed. none of them screamed. after this slaughter, I turned away — sick, disgusted.
I tore down the streets, breath hot in my lungs. neighbors, once friendly, crowded the street with stony faces of judgement. I shoved them aside — angry, they pawed at me, but I could not be stopped. I headed for the Hook. I knew she was there. I could feel it, in my mind, my soul.
as I reached the shore, near the Hook, I came to realize the street was slimy — with viscous blood, and some substance I had never seen. a glowing, gossamer green, shot through with red. then I saw them — the heads. the old men, telling horror stories in the town. smiling. eyeless. toothless. no bodies. surrounded by puddles of themselves, and that strange substance.
I ran to the Hook, and there I saw her, on her knees, Penelope. her hair afire with the night. her arms were slick with the insides of others, and I saw her reach into the wrinkled pile of skin next to her and draw out bones. a ribcage. she snapped them into a new shape — something like a word. the color drew out of it, and it seemed less like bone, less like iron, but something new. like a cousin to the glowing, green things. she reached inside another wrinkled sack that was once a man and did it again. she arranged these delicate words of bone on the very tip of the Hook. as I walked closer, I saw a dozen bodies around her, and more, empty of all bones, floating in the water.
as I came up behind her, I saw her belly — it pulsed. it lived. independently. the green, gossamer substance excreted itself from her pores. it pushed outward, a terrible face, and Penelope screamed into the sky, continuing her shaping of bones. I saw she was naked. from between her legs, poured an awful gore. more blood than a dozen bodies. the core of her was exhaling fountains and chunks, and she screamed into the sky again. her hands moved faster and faster, and the shapes, the names became clear —
— a bridge. on the unfinished arm of the Hook. latticework and suspension. something said only in the bones of the terrible dead. behind us, the island jumped in flames.
finally, the thing inside her moved, and Penelope stared at me. her eyes, once a beautiful, delicate green — now a corpsegreen, something awful, mutant. her baby came, and she fell back, exhausted.
it lay between her, gnawing idly at her innermost lips, her thighs, chewing them to meat. grey. eyeless. a drifting shape. skin with awful shapes, like raised tattoos. a mouth full of sharp things barely teeth. Penelope smiled at it, and cooed, and I screamed. I screamed and she grabbed it, and snapped that unnatural, too long neck, and tore the head off it.
she placed the grey, eyeless head, still with gobbets of her in the foul teeth, on the end of the bone structure, and I watched as the bridge continued itself. the words in bone built themselves, in a direction I could not understand. they became a skyscraper of rotting bone, curling in green lightning around a shape. a hole in the world. the fire burnt on, and the lightning danced within the bone, and inside the hole, I could see.
unthings. titanic ab-creatures. dull violations of physics scraping against each other. and Penelope harshly bellowed in triumph as some thing — some awful, tyrant-shaped beast emerged, blinking against the sight of the city. the size of it could not be considered. around it was a warp, the bone words shouting.
"Greetings," it bubbled, and all was lost, in that great un-word. now everything began to spread apart. the word it spoke violated our physics, and began to undo.
I watched — slithering green lightning, bone words a chorus, as it began to march itself into our world, as it rained against the landscape, and I felt Penelope’s hands on my neck, and I sobbed, and saw no more.