Catastrophe is opportunity. The blithe vixen ran head into a wall. Her brains and matted fur no longer encompassing any innocent thought other than to cast an abstract gore portending the crash of vanity. That crash was not an isolated incident, but shook the walls of all our buildings in all of our cities and in all of our bedrooms.
My feet ache. I have been running from the lake back to my lab every day this week. I love the feeling of the strength of my own body. My legs are a steel locomotive cutting through the fecund and indiscriminate weeds bewitching the path. Paved roads are a sin and every slamming bit of flesh that connects to the tender ground beneath it is in a puritanical trance of this beautiful law. I can see the lab up ahead and I burst into a final fertile sprint.
My name, Melody, adorns the entrance to the sacred lab. This is my primary home, the place where I save the earth. Each day I care for and nurture the science of ecology. Nearly a century ago the collapse happened and we have been only reviving the earth since. Like an electrical shock through the core that causes a mass power outage, we stopped our vile industrial ways, glory be to Him, and embarked on the recreation of the garden of earth.
The particular job I perform is in the re-fertilization of flowers. My entire lab smells of a damp, blooming bud with it’s bursting yellow center pointing upward, mimicking the gaping mouth of the sun. It is humid, sunny, tropical, and dangerous, even inside the parameters of this open-air lab. There is a constant, glorious possibility of passing on in this extremely fertile land. That would be the most valiant of endings, if I were to succomb to the heat or to be dined on by a particularly dangerous creature, I would fall, face-planted into the earth. Legs slightly bent in an eternal farewell to myself, the cursed-destroyer destroyed.
I hope to fall here before I am released on my 25th birthday. That is when our putrid minds begin to harden and become inflexible to the ideas of our sacred science. Essentially, we begin to make mistakes that are not impacting our labs in any positive or forgivable way. I heard there are a few options after the culling, aside from the typical progression of self-fulfillment. For instance, I replaced someone who went on to work with paper and pencil to extract the formulas of theoretical physics – only so that we might launch special garden pods that can endure millennia. If our religious fervor should falter we might like to keep our earth’s memory alive through eternal, spatial and biochemical alliances with propulsion. Her brain was no longer useful to the tactile sciences, but the leaders determined she could move on to the latent studies.
I don’t spend much time looking to my personal future, there is too much work to be done now. I must give my best to our sacred leaders and to let them down is to fail our greatest benefactor.
“There aren’t any men or boys in Snowbane. They exist, but there aren’t many left and certainly there are none here. No one really knows what happened, but boys just stopped being born all that often. One immaculate birth happens every now and again, but we won’t hear about any new births until all the icicles fall and the riders return with news.”
It’s 5pm. Guy, the father of two and husband of Margaret, comes home to his family sitting in the kitchen. He walks over to his wife and gives her a big hug.
“Hi Honey, I’m sorry,” says Guy.
“Hi love, I’m sorry, too!”
“Hi dad, I’m sorry.”
“Hello son, I’m sorry, too.”
“Daddy! I’m sooo sorry!”
“My Lord, what’re you doing? You can’t wear that to supper!”
“Shut-up Cockhead, I’m on a totally different plane right now. ”
“Sorry, master. I’m all out of sorts today. It must have been the grits I ate this morning. Bast has been trying to poison me ever since I sacrificed her favorite chicken.”
“Damn that strong-willed, biddy. Would you like me to reincarnate it for her? I mean, if it’ll settle things between you.”
“That’s mighty kind, but I’ll just bring an extra jug of milk home tonight.”
“Whatever suits you. Get on now and saddle our horses. I want to ride the white one and dangle a few more cow entrails around his neck so I look more terrifying. I’ve been losing weight in this be-damned heat and no one takes a skinny sea nightmare seriously.”
“Yes, ancient one.”
As Gug and his master prepare to leave, Bast arrives and states that she reconsidered her invitation and will accompany them to the banquet. They ride to the Icy Corral Inn and mingle with the slime-slinging guests before entering a large banquet room.
“Thank you for having us, Ithaqua, I adore the mangled-corpse centerpiece.”
“I am humbly grateful that it pleases you, lord. I had it commissioned especially for your arrival.”
” I shall reanimate the corpse and command it to trek toward my aquatic barn after supper.”
“I couldn’t be more honored. Gug, all smiles? It seems you are pleased by the piece as well?”
“It’s alright. I’m growing in a new set of teeth and haven’t been able to close my mouth for weeks.”
“Perhaps if we had a regular dentist come visit the sacrificial altar we could get that shit-eating grin fixed for you.” Ithaqua darts his icy stare at the great one.
“You forget yourself. Pass the whiskey. I have had a headache for nearly all eternity.”
“Take your fill, my lord. Besides, the more teeth Gug has, the more easily he’ll be able to gnaw tonight’s disappointing grub, right Gug?” Ithaqua nudges him, but Gug only looks to master, mouth agape, as if to say he is unsure how to respond.
“I tire of this topic. What is on the menu?”
“Consider the topic dropped. The beginning course is a soup seasoned with a priest’s weakened flesh after his bloodletting. The second is a seared liver taken from an occultist who blasphemed your name and the main dish is a surprise.”
“Excellent, I love surprises.”
“If everyone could take their seats please, Bast?”
“Yes, just helping Cyaegha carry the dishes in. She only has so many tentacles.”
Before Ithaqua took one spoonful of his soup, the master shot a question to him in his gurgling, ancient tongue.
“Have you found the statue, Ithaqua?”
“Your terribleness, I have my most able hordes terrorizing the surrounding settlements, torching churches, leaving ominous scrawls in the dirt, but nothing has turned up.”
“This unsettles me, minion. If you cannot produce the relic, I ensure that this will not end kindly.”
“Vast one, I am awestricken by your infinite supremacy and can only promise to dedicate my life to the relic’s retrieval. I am confident it will appear soon. Now, please, let us enjoy our meal.”
“If I find out otherwise…” The great one makes a slitting gesture across his throat as he takes a drink.”This whiskey… ugh, what is this? Whale piss?”
“You worthless, chum gobbler. It’s binding serum!”
Ithaqua takes a small jade statue encased in ice from under his robe and twirls it around on the table. Frightful gasps fill the room. “See here, pansy, I’ve found your relic and with it I have harnessed your power.”
“Ithaqua, what are you doing? Release master now or suffer the…”
“Silence you toothy freak! This putrid little relic was once carried by our lord himself, a tribute to his unbounded vanity.”
“You ungrateful fool, Ithaqua, do you pride yourself on your ignorance? Arise you mangled, fleshy construct! Arise!”
The centerpiece lies motionless.
“Problem, scaly one? The putrid saliva you dripped all over your horse has served as a surprisingly effective component in my serum. That which you speak carries no weight. ”
“You balmy, cocksucker!”
“What nasty anger. You might want to tone it down a notch since I have placed an entombment parchment beneath your seat. You shall eternally savor your shame at our modest dinner party.”
Bast stands up and raises her glass.
“I am grateful to have a new overlord. Here, here!”
“Bast! What are you saying my little dove?”
“Stay out of this Gug! Sit back and enjoy your final meal.”
“That’s the spirit, Bast. Let’s all enjoy our meal. No need to let a domineering cocksucker screw us out of our hard earned supper!”
With that, Ithaqua raises the soup to his lips. The frost on his breath nearly freezes the bloody liquid as it slowly sloshes into his belly. His eyes bulge as he slips from the table. The relic is knocked onto the ground and shatters. The master, freed from the binding spell rises, glowering at Bast.
Quickly, Bast speaks up.
“That soup was meant as punishment for Gug, my overlord, but I saw Ithaqua’s minion scurry to the horse stead and guessed he was up to no good. So, I went snooping around and found his little magic book turned to the binding spell. I convinced Cyaegha to let me help with the women’s work and switched the soups, then.”
“Bast, I am eternally grateful to your unwavering contempt for Gug. Had it not been for his bumbling chicken sacrifice, I may have spent eternity in this tacky dining room.”
With that, Gug goes to hug Bast. She swats at him and marches out of the room.
The sight, the wandering mind, the breath between wakefulness and dreams is infinite. I notice the space between two people dancing is closing. The night doesn’t hinder me. I walk on to the next block. Following the paved road, I question whether will has the room to exist in the safety of community. If I step off of the fitted stones and press my soft shoe into the mud my mind will mimic the sensation I had as a child toeing barefoot through a warm summer’s riverbed. Did I have will then or was it simply my mother’s loosing hand that pushed me into new experience, new synapses. Do I have a son or does the world? Read More…
“Did you ask him?”
“Yes, standard protocol was followed.”
“Did you scan his mortality card?”
“Yes, ma’am. I have routed his feed through the reclamation system and placed a carbon print in the vault.”
“How many years?”
I want to live. Can they hear me? “I want to live.” Read More…
The tinny clank of the cell door startles him to a drowsy realization. His crinkled Raider’s t-shirt wavers loosely about his body as the shakes set in. A pungent air found in dank back alleys hangs about the small room. His legs are wet. Read More…
The walk home is long at six in the evening. Fifteen blocks of families and lovers rushing to dinner. I can see the disenchantment in their faces. The wives wear too much make-up, the girlfriends don’t wear any. There are fathers in wrinkled Dockers with daughters who refuse to hold their dad’s hand. I’m glad I don’t have any children. I don’t know if I would make a good father, I don’t know that I believe in the nobility of sacrifice. The sole of my shoe is wearing and I can feel the small gravel piercing the soft pad of my foot. The light is on in the living room. Helen’s home. She’s always home. Read More…
Sarah Kemble Knight’s journey is the first recorded link in a chain that has stretched from the eighteenth century well into the twenty-first century. By creating a modern adaptation of her journal, the similarities that bind seemingly dissimilar moments of time become plainly visible. Our modern American woman, Sarah Upright, sets out on a twenty-first century journey that is an equivalent to Madam Knight’s two hundred mile voyage. As Sarah struggles with her own prejudices in an unfamiliar culture, she incorporates mockery and humor into a blog for friends back home. Like Madam Knight, the blog establishes a hierarchy of the written over the oral with an anthropological gaze. Read More…
Around the table, through the beaded curtain, Sam could see the smoke rising. He shook the ice in his glass and swallowed, he thought the taste too bitter tonight. There she was standing before him, a proud and determined Venus—he could tell she was bluffing. She was a minor player in a major game and after the cards were cut, she ran. Her thin frame wavered in her heels. She was too far from the ground. Read More…