Heart Cage

Cadaver of a container
For a yet-beating heart
Lacking all notation
For sentiment therein
All that flows from its lips
Choked whispers
All that streams from its eyes
Carmine droplets

In fire it finds friendship
Warmth that openly burns
Where most would turn and run
The cadaver happily yearns
To join ashes in the urn

Towards knife’s tender touch
The cadaver expresses lust
Steely love for glinting allure
Pierces the cadaver’s core
To taste the soul laid there

What worth are men and friends
When such humans at hearts rend?
What good are brides and grooms
In a world where no flowers bloom?
The machine of man marches forward
When was its soul consumed?
Beings rambunctious, repugnant
Coveting flaws, laws, and perfumes
Trodding callously upon those beneath
With little remorse and no reprieve
For true people who struggle to believe
Such life could not simply be

To such cadavers with hearts inside
Who see with glassy eyes
The teeming bodies and heartless lives
Of humans in love with earthly lies
Tell me, tell me
Who is a zombie
And who is alive?

Fantasy Fair

I still need you
I still believe you
Might return to
Help me through

I mill about
Tear my hair out
Make up scenes
Like waking dreams

But you’re not there
And you don’t care
This is all just a
Fantasy fair.

//
What’s a man to do?
It’s hard to care
When life’s saddest truths
Are all I bear

I sling my guitar
Get in the car
And follow the road
To God knows where
//

You’ll never know
How deep it goes
This love that grows
Despite my throes

This pain I wield
Cracks my soul
The love I feel
Keeps me whole

Your anger and hate
Serve to elate
A man now free
To choose his fate

//
What’s a man to do?
It’s hard to care
When life’s saddest truths
Are all I bear

I sling my guitar
Get in the car
And follow the road
To God knows where
//

I shall immortalize
Through your beauteous guise
Love’s wickedness and lies
For all men to despise

In terse, damning prose
My pen shall condemn
How love is no rose
But weeds to be cleaved

No more shall I grieve
Your offending leave
If you had believed
You might have just seen

Miracle light sparked
In life’s endless dark
Relentlessly arcs
Splits spacetime apart

But you have decided
You’d rather rely
On gross little lies
As you age and you cry
Whilst I crucify
Your fake plastic life
’til the day that you die
The mortal demise
Of people despised
You grain on the wind
Buffeted by whims
You sad, empty thing
Only worth damning.

Allan Darque – Chapter ONE-1

Allan Darque: sixteen years of age and hardly a day, he sat alone upon the porch of the ranch home where he lived with his parents and two younger brothers. It was night, the AC mounted in his room window hummed. Junebugs, moths, and mosquitoes flitted about, tossing themselves at the outdoor lamps with soft plinks. Their efforts cast faint shadows, and reminded Allan about how small and insignificant any one human was in the world.

“All us people… we work so hard, but really, we’re just casting these shadows nobody sees,” he said aloud.

He stared, melancholy, at the Konia cellphone his mother owned, which he used to talk to Alexa, a hundred miles away. She was his girlfriend then; somehow they’d maintained this tumultuous long distance relationship in their youth, with regular email and phone correspondences. But he missed her touch, the warmth of her breath, and the smell of her perfume. He wanted to hear her laugh at his stupid jokes, and hold her hand with fingers intertwined.

He’d read her last email hardly an hour ago, and it was that email which crushed his youthful heart, not for the first time. It hurt so much, he had trouble breathing at times, and clutched at his breast, wondering if his heart might burst from the pain. Was it normal to feel this way?

He thought, “I’m a man, I shouldn’t be hurt by things like this.” But thinking that didn’t change the sense that a knife had been plunged through his chest. No, actually, if that were the case, it might have been less painful. He might have fainted from blood loss and died peacefully. This was worse: he had to remain awake and soberly experience the full-force of the blunt trauma.

He looked at the phone, unable to get himself to dial the digits he knew too well. 814… that was the area code. What was the phone number… his mind refused to tell him. It was too painful to remember.

It was far easier to remember the contents of the letter.

Dear Allan,

What to say. This is too difficult to write. You have been a terrific first boyfriend. But I realize now it is time to close this chapter of my life.

I want to remember our time together fondly, as I grow old. I want to look back and cherish our memories. I will never forget our first kiss.

You will always be my first love.

– Alexa

Allan whimpered, feeling pathetic. He squeezed the phone as tears flowed uncontrollably down his face. He’d tried drafting a reply, but he couldn’t get himself to send it.

  Dear Alexa,

I understand. I will always care about you.

– Allan

The thing that made him most angry was his inability to do anything to change this fate. He hadn’t chosen to move here. If he had been there with her, he was confident this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe they would have broken up some day, but not in this way that made him feel so utterly helpless.

His reply was so sterile, so forgettable. He cared about her enough to understand the kindest thing he could do was to let her go without a fuss, because he could not convey any actions beyond words to communicate his true feelings. And even if he could do something about it, even if he could drive down to go see her, he remembered the excited manner by which she had spoken of other boys in her classes at high school. Chances were, she already liked someone else, and Allan’s imposition of love would be undesirable. Maybe the honest truth was, she was bored of him, and he was simply a comfortable stepping stone, a good first boyfriend. This was her way of letting him go gently, a convenience she had because he was so far away.

This thought slashed through him like a saw through paper. He tried to convince himself that it was mature to understand this implicit truth and let her go, but that was easier said than done.

He clenched his teeth. He had no friends to tell, and his parents didn’t care about this sort of thing. He wiped away the tears furiously from his face. It was just youthful love, he’d get over it. The thing that mattered more were his studies, his grades. That’s how his parents would reassure him.

He sobbed, because that wasn’t how he felt. School was a trivial contrivance, grades were meaningless. What did any of those things matter? He clenched his fists and tightened his stomach. He wanted to scream, to smash his fists into the concrete, but reason stopped him from such outlashes.

Finally exhausted from withholding his emotions, he heaved heavy breaths, the tears on his face drying. He felt nothing. Just broken.

From the distance, the loud turbocharger of a car drew near.  Headlights splashed over the neighborhood street, then a black sports sedan pulled up into the driveway, its powerful engine humming audibly. Curious and surprised because they were not expecting anyone, Allan scrutinized the vehicle, but could not make out anything familiar about it.

The headlights turned off, along with the engine, and the two front doors swung open. Two men got out, their faces difficult for Allan to make out in the dark. They were both about the same height, with long, black hair. As they walked up the sidewalk and towards the front door, Allan stood up. One of them said something quietly, and the other chuckled in a deep, hearty way. As they drew near, Allan was able to make out their grinning faces, and felt strangely comforted by their presence.

“Good evening,” one of them said in a deep and pleasant growl. “Allan Darque, I presume?”

Allan nodded, not quite sure what to say.

The man reached out his hand. “Severyn Solitus. And this here,” he gestured to the other man, “my protege, Sirius Solitus.”

Sirius shoved Severyn roughly, causing him to take a step and retract his hand to maintain his balance. At this, Severyn laughed, while Sirius shook his head with a mischievous grin. “Protege? Don’t make me beat you,” he said, forming a fist and shaking it threateningly.

Allan couldn’t help but chuckle at their antics. It was so warmly familiar. He felt like the two of them were brothers, they both looked and spoke so similar to the other.

Severyn straightened himself out, brushing off his polo and fixing his collar, even though he didn’t have to do either. “Please excuse his behavior, he’s been this violent since birth…”

“Violent? I’ll show you violent,” Sirius retorted.

Smiling, Severyn extended his hand towards Allan once more. “Pleasure to meet you, Allan.”

Allan took his hand and nodded, still unsure of what to say. There was something familiar about their eyes and demeanor… but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Mind if we take a seat next to you?” Severyn asked.

“Oh… okay,” Allan nodded, feeling slightly apprehensive. The two men sat down next to him, Sirius to Allan’s left and Severyn to his right.

“I do apologize for our rather… disruptive appearance,” Severyn said in a serious tone while Allan watched him speak. Meanwhile, Allan felt Sirius shuffling in his seat, and turned to watch him produce something from his pant pocket.

“Smoke,” Sirius said deftly, a cigarette suddenly appearing between his lips. He flicked open a windproof lighter and after two clicks, a flame erupted to light his smoke.

“Excuse him,” Severyn continued. “He’s always been somewhat lacking in manners.”

Allan felt Sirius reach around behind him and punch Severyn’s shoulder, to which Severyn stifled a chuckle.

“Ahem…” Severyn cleared his throat. “Where to begin… ah! Foremost, happy birthday, young Darque.”

Severyn slapped Allan’s back a little too enthusiastically, causing Allan to knock his head forward and cough, choking on his spit, to which Sirius continued slapping the poor boy’s back, trying to stop him from dying.

“Thanks,” Allan managed weakly, wiping away the saliva dribbling from his lips.

“He’s sixteen now, en’t he?” Sirius asked Severyn first, then, before getting a response, he redirected to Allan, “You’re sixteen now boy, aren’t ya?”

Allan nodded. “Yeah. Sixteen and a day.”

“Well, good for you m’boy,” Severyn commented. “Jolly good age.”

“Great age,” Sirius agreed.

Allan wasn’t sure he agreed with either of them.

“Although I imagine young Allan here was just traumatized by… what’s-her-name…” Severyn began.

“Lexus?” Sirius volunteered.

“No, no,” Severyn countered. “Alexandria? No, that’s the city in Egypt… Boy, my memory sure has dissipated over the eons… I remember a time when details like a woman’s name was the most important thing to me. Especially my first flame!”

“You were hung up on her for a solid decade,” Sirius commented as he exhaled a cloud of smoke.

Severyn shook his head. “Tch. What a fool I was in my youth… No matter. Enough lament about my forgettable past. Allan! Elucidate for us, what’s her name?” Severyn asked.

Allan looked at this stranger with incredulous abashedness. “Uh… who now?” He hoped to God this random person wasn’t referring to his love life.

“Your girlfriend,” Severyn replied coolly without missing a beat, even as Allan’s heart seemed to miss a few.

Ex,” Sirius corrected unhelpfully between drags.

“Right, right. Ex-girlfriend. Heart slashed and all that jazz,” Severyn corrected himself, drawing an ex across his heart to emphasize the point.

Looking down and feeling his stomach sink with shame, Allan nodded silently. “Alexa,” he said quietly, hoping they wouldn’t hear.

“Ah, that’s right! It was just on the tips of our tongues,” Severyn nodded somewhat triumphantly. “Well, as I was saying… I’m sure your heart is leaden with thoughts of this Lexus or Alexandra or whatever, but rest assured, my dear boy, she knows not what great man she is letting go.”

“Indeed,” Sirius agreed, “Allan the Great, who is but a weakling and coward now, and even after many a year, develops into little more than an overgrown man-child.”

Allan felt a fist pound into his left shoulder hard, and yelped with unexpected pain. “Ow!”

“Oh, whoops, sorry, meant to hit Sirius there,” Severyn coughed as Sirius clapped his knees with raucous laughter.

“Are you talking about me?” Allan asked angrily as he rubbed his shoulder.

Severyn looked very seriously at Allan. “Who else would we be talking about?”

“You act as if you know my future,” Allan fumed, still upset over the punch and emotional hurt from being called a weakling, coward, and man-child in one sentence.

“Why, in a manner of speaking, yes we do, m’lad,” Sirius replied.

“You see, we are Worldwatchers,” Severyn continued. “Kind of like the Skystalkers in Star Cars or whatever that Jorge Cukas film everyone was lady gaga about…”

“I think you’re mixing up your film references and colloquialisms, you dyslexic wombat,” Sirius scoffed. “And no Allan, we are nothing at all like the Skygawkers.”

“Oh, whatever,” Severyn shook his head, “the whole lot of Star Bars was trash after Dalt Wisney bought the film rights.”

Allan shook his head, unsure if these guys were crazy, stupid, or moronic… no, they were definitely all three. “Whatever, what’s your point? Are you saying you two are from the future or something?”

“Well… again, in a manner of speaking, m’lad. I daresay, we don’t come from your particular future, no,” Severyn began. “So we don’t know your future, per se. But we have the gist of it.

“Anyways, I digress,” Severyn continued. “We are here in an attempt to accelerate your future in a particular direction.”

“Think of it like this,” Sirius took over. “You have countlessly many selves and futures. We are aware of some of them. Our objective is to push you towards one of these eventualities, though it is ultimately up to you to determine your own future.”

“To that end,” Severyn finished, “we wish to provide your young, tender heart some solace, to allay of it some of the heartaches you would otherwise face and help you more readily draw out the insurmountable courage you possess. Before we leave, we have a small birthday present we’d like to present.”

Allan’s heart both sank at the thought that they’d leave, and then leapt to think they’d brought a present for him.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Severyn produced a glowing orb. “This is an Antiomere. Sirius, care to explain?”

“Think of it like a chemical enantiomer,” Sirius clarified. “It is the encapsulation of your life’s memories from a chiral dimension, one of your innumerable alternate futures and selves. Again, not your future.”

Allan nodded to Sirius, then turned to Severyn, extending his palms to receive the Antiomere. Severyn pulled his hand away, raising a finger to indicate that Allan should wait.

“Now Allan. This is the important part,” Severyn said quietly, in a tone of such intensity it chilled Allan. “The singlemost important thing we have come to say. You have a tremendously important role to play, though we must leave that to you to discover. We can only say this: you jeopardize your ability to fulfill your role if you allow yourself to become attached to the wrong people and enable them to wound your heart the way you are wounded now. This includes friends, lovers, and enemies alike.

“Love is a tremendously powerful agent. It is also a delusion of our own making. Hatred is the complement to love, but it is venomous to the peace of your soul. Take care to have mastery over your love and hate, to not let them control you, but to have control over them.

“You will find in the Antiomere experience and understanding to help you upon this most difficult of endeavors. But we would not present it if we did not have absolute faith in your abilities. Sirius?” Severyn finally finished.

Sirius simply nodded. “I think you’ve summed it up perfectly,” he replied with marked gravity.

Finally, Severyn extended the Antiomere and Allan took it with both palms, expecting to feel a glass orb. It felt nothing like glass, more like he was holding air. As he held it, he felt both his palms grow warm.

Then there was a sudden blinding flash. Allan sat perfectly still, his eyes perceiving only blinding white as an unexpected warm breeze washed over him, carrying with it a myriad scents that smelled familiar yet alien.

Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the blinding white dissipated unnaturally, leaving Allan sitting alone upon the porch with an unmarred view of his front yard. For a brief moment after, he could swear the blood vessels in his palms glowed brilliant white through his skin, but then everything was normal and he wondered if he had imagined everything. He turned to his left and then his right, but there was no one there. His heart sank to his stomach as he got up and walked to the driveway, but there was no car.

It was just Allan, all alone in the darkness.

Allan Darque – Chapter ONE-0

Allan Darque: sixteen years of age and hardly a day, he sat alone upon the porch of the ranch home where he lived with his parents and two younger brothers. It was night, the AC mounted in his room window hummed. Junebugs, moths, and mosquitoes flitted about, tossing themselves at the outdoor lamps with soft plinks. Their efforts cast faint shadows, and reminded Allan about how small and insignificant any one human was in the world.

“All us people… we work so hard, but really, we’re just casting these shadows nobody sees,” he said aloud.

He stared, melancholy, at the Nokia cellphone his mother owned, which he used to talk to Alexa, a hundred miles away. She was his girlfriend then; somehow they’d maintained this tumultuous long distance relationship in their youth, with regular email and phone correspondences. But he missed her touch, the warmth of her breath, and the smell of her perfume. He wanted to hear her laugh at his stupid jokes, and hold her hand with fingers intertwined.

He’d read her last email hardly an hour ago, and it was that email which crushed his youthful heart, not for the first time. It hurt so much, he had trouble breathing at times, and clutched at his breast, wondering if his heart might burst from the pain. Was it normal to feel this way?

He thought, “I’m a man, I shouldn’t be hurt by things like this.” But thinking that didn’t change the sense that a knife had been plunged through his chest. No, actually, if that were the case, it might have been less painful. He might have fainted from blood loss and died peacefully. This was worse: he had to remain awake and soberly experience the full-force of the blunt trauma.

He looked at the phone, unable to get himself to dial the digits he knew too well. 814… that was the area code. What was the phone number… his mind refused to tell him. It was too painful to remember.

It was far easier to remember the contents of the letter.

Dear Allan,

What to say. This is too difficult to write. You have been a terrific first boyfriend. But I realize now it is time to close this chapter of my life.

I want to remember our time together fondly, as I grow old. I want to look back and cherish our memories. I will never forget our first kiss.

You will always be my first love.

– Alexa

Allan whimpered, feeling pathetic. He squeezed the phone as tears flowed uncontrollably down his face. He’d tried drafting a reply, but he couldn’t get himself to send it.

  Dear Alexa,

I understand. I will always care about you.

– Allan

The thing that made him most angry was his inability to do anything to change this fate. He hadn’t chosen to move here. If he had been there with her, he was confident this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe they would have broken up some day, but not in this way that made him feel so utterly helpless.

His reply was so sterile, so forgettable. He cared about her enough to understand the kindest thing he could do was to let her go without a fuss, because he could not convey any actions beyond words to communicate his true feelings. And even if he could do something about it, even if he could drive down to go see her, he remembered the excited manner by which she had spoken of other boys in her classes at high school. Chances were, she already liked someone else, and Allan’s imposition of love would be undesirable. Maybe the honest truth was, she was bored of him, and he was simply a comfortable stepping stone, a good first boyfriend. This was her way of letting him go gently, a convenience she had because he was so far away.

This thought slashed through him like a saw through paper. He tried to convince himself that it was mature to understand this implicit truth and let her go, but that was easier said than done.

He clenched his teeth. He had no friends to tell, and his parents didn’t care about this sort of thing. He wiped away the tears furiously from his face. It was just youthful love, he’d get over it. The thing that mattered more were his studies, his grades. That’s how his parents would reassure him.

He sobbed, because that wasn’t how he felt. School was a trivial contrivance, grades were meaningless. What did any of those things matter? He clenched his fists and tightened his stomach. He wanted to scream, to smash his fists into the concrete, but reason stopped him from such outlashes.

Finally exhausted from withholding his emotions, he heaved heavy breaths, the tears on his face drying. He felt nothing. Just broken.

From the distance, the loud turbocharger of a car drew near.  Headlights splashed over the neighborhood street, then a black sports sedan pulled up into the driveway, its powerful engine humming audibly. Curious and surprised because they were not expecting anyone, Allan scrutinized the vehicle, but could not make out anything familiar about it.

The headlights turned off, along with the engine, and the two front doors swung open. Two men got out, their faces difficult for Allan to make out in the dark. They were both about the same height, with long, black hair. As they walked up the sidewalk and towards the front door, Allan stood up. One of them said something quietly, and the other chuckled in a deep, hearty way. As they drew near, Allan was able to make out their grinning faces, and felt strangely comforted by their presence.

“Good evening,” one of them said in a deep and pleasant growl. “Allan Darque, I presume?”

Allan nodded, not quite sure what to say.

The man reached out his hand. “Severyn Solitus. And this here,” he gestured to the other man, “my protege, Sirius Solitus.”

Sirius shoved Severyn roughly, causing him to take a step and retract his hand to maintain his balance. At this, Severyn laughed, while Sirius shook his head with a mischievous grin. “Protege? Don’t make me beat you,” he said, forming a fist and shaking it threateningly.

Allan couldn’t help but chuckle at their antics. It was so warmly familiar. He felt like the two of them were brothers, they both looked and spoke so similar to the other.

Severyn straightened himself out, brushing off his polo and fixing his collar, even though he didn’t have to do either. “Please excuse his behavior, he’s been this violent since birth…”

“Violent? I’ll show you violent,” Sirius retorted.

Smiling, Severyn extended his hand towards Allan once more. “Pleasure to meet you, Allan.”

Allan took his hand and nodded, still unsure of what to say. There was something familiar about their eyes and demeanor… but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Mind if we take a seat next to you?” Severyn asked.

“Oh… okay,” Allan nodded, feeling slightly apprehensive. The two men sat down next to him, Sirius to Allan’s left and Severyn to his right.

“I do apologize for our rather… disruptive appearance,” Severyn said in a serious tone while Allan watched him speak. Meanwhile, Allan felt Sirius shuffling in his seat, and turned to watch him produce something from his pant pocket.

“Smoke,” Sirius said deftly, a cigarette suddenly appearing between his lips. He flicked open a windproof lighter and after two clicks, a flame erupted to light his smoke.

“Excuse him,” Severyn continued. “He’s always been somewhat lacking in manners.”

Allan felt Sirius reach around behind him and punch Severyn’s shoulder, to which Severyn stifled a chuckle.

“Ahem…” Severyn cleared his throat. “Where to begin… ah! Foremost, happy birthday, young Darque.”

Severyn slapped Allan’s back a little too enthusiastically, causing Allan to knock his head forward and cough, choking on his spit, to which Sirius continued slapping the poor boy’s back, trying to stop him from dying.

“Thanks,” Allan managed weakly, wiping away the saliva dribbling from his lips.

“He’s sixteen now, en’t he?” Sirius asked Severyn first, then, before getting a response, he redirected to Allan, “You’re sixteen now boy, aren’t ya?”

Allan nodded. “Yeah. Sixteen and a day.”

“Well, good for you m’boy,” Severyn commented. “Jolly good age.”

“Great age,” Sirius agreed.

“Although I imagine young Allan here was just traumatized by… what’s-her-name…”

“Lexus?” Sirius volunteered.

“No, no,” Severyn countered. “Alexandra? No, that’s not it either… Boy, my memory sure has dissipated over the eons… I remember a time when details like a woman’s name was the most important thing to me. Especially my first flame!”

“You were hung up on her for a solid decade,” Sirius commented as he exhaled a cloud of smoke.

“Right, right. Ah, well, no matter, Allan can elucidate for us now. What’s her name?” Severyn asked.

Allan looked at this stranger with incredulous abashedness. “Uh… who now?” He hoped to God this random person wasn’t referring to his love life.

“Your girlfriend,” Severyn replied coolly without missing a beat, even as Allan’s heart seemed to miss a few.

Ex,” Sirius corrected unhelpfully between drags.

“Right, right. Ex-girlfriend. Heart slashed and all that jazz,” Severyn corrected himself, drawing an ex across his heart to emphasize the point.

Looking down and feeling his stomach sink with shame, Allan nodded silently. “Alexa,” he said quietly, hoping they wouldn’t hear.

“Ah, that’s right! It was just on the tips of our tongues,” Severyn nodded somewhat triumphantly. “Well, as I was saying… I’m sure your heart is leaden with thoughts of this Lexus or Alexandra or whatever, but rest assured, my dear boy, she does not know what great man she is letting go.”

“Yes, yes,” Sirius agreed, “who is but a weakling coward now, and even after many a year, develops into little more than an overgrown man-child.”

Allan felt a fist pound into his left shoulder hard, and yelped with unexpected pain. “Ow!”

“Oh, whoops, sorry, meant to hit Sirius there,” Severyn coughed as Sirius clapped his knees with raucous laughter.

“Are you talking about me?” Allan asked angrily as he rubbed his shoulder.

Severyn looked very seriously at Allan. “Who else would we be talking about?”

“You act as if you know my future,” Allan fumed, still upset over the punch and stinging emotionally from being called a weakling, coward, and man-child in one sentence.

“Why, in a manner of speaking, yes we do, m’lad,” Sirius replied.

“You see, we are Worldwatchers,” Severyn continued. “Kind of like the Skystalkers in Star Cars or whatever that Jorge Cukas film everyone was lady gaga about…”

“I think you’re mixing up your film references and colloquialisms, you dyslexic wombat,” Sirius scoffed. “And no Allan, we are nothing at all like the Skygawkers.”

“Oh, whatever,” Severyn shook his head, “the whole lot of Star Bars was trash after Dalt Wisney bought the film rights.”

Allan shook his head, unsure if these guys were crazy, stupid, or moronic… no, they were definitely all three. “Whatever, what’s your point? Are you saying you two are from the future or something?”

“Well… again, in manner of speaking, m’lad. I daresay, we don’t come from your particular future, no,” Severyn began. “So we don’t really know your future, per se. But we have a gist of it.”

“You see, time is nonlinear,” Sirius suddenly interjected, cutting Severyn off. “Really, time as you perceive it is an artifact of the phase differential in a four-dimensional Maclavian hologradient across a five-dimensional quaternionic manifold,” he said excitedly.

“No need to blow the boy’s brains out with the jargon. Do you understand basic two-dimensional integral mathematics, Allan?” Severyn asked.

“Uhm… maybe?” Allan answered, his mind spinning thinking about Riemann sums and the area underneath curves.

“And what about quantum mechanics, are you familiar with the principles of quantum superposition and Schrodinger’s cat?” Severyn continued.

Allan nodded quietly. “I… think so. The concept that the cat is both dead and alive until it is observed, or measured?”

“Spot on, lad,” Severyn encouraged. “Well, then I’m sure you’re familiar with the many universes theory that they bank on in the Carnival universe superhero films, especially Revengers: Begingame?”

Allan squinted, wondering how this man had no problem remembering quantum mechanics and yet couldn’t remember the names of famous films and their franchises. “Uh… yeah, basically every decision of ours spins off a parallel universe or something.”

“Right,” Sirius suddenly took over, causing Allan to turn his head so fast he felt a muscle spasm. “Except not quite. You see, the truth is, all of those universes already exist in a balanced complex superposition. Time permeates all universes simultaneously. All the destinies of all the worlds are intertwined and preordained, yet simultaneously rewritten constantly in a zero-sum exchange. Much as we cannot observe quantum phenomena absolutely, we can never know the outcome of time across all universes absolutely.”

“Oh… kay…” Allan said, struggling to keep up.

“Think of it this way,” Severyn attempted to clarify. “We know the beginning of everything was nothing. We also know the end of everything is nothing. We know, invariably, that there is something in between that beginning and end. But what that something is could be anything, and it is always amorphous, changing, contingent upon the actions of the actors and beings in all universes. Time is like a snapshot of all universes all at once, superimposed. Each universe could be said to occupy something similar to a quantum state. Mathematically, it’s representable by a multi-dimensional manifold integral over the limit of all universes. Does that make sense?”

“Sort of… though it’s strange to think of time existing as a sum,” Allan said, trying to understand how the mathematics for any of that might work.

“It would probably make more sense if you were familiar with the concepts of vector maths and calculus, especially as it relates to the calculation of flux permeating a virtual surface,” Severyn said not so helpfully. “But no matter, we’re only bombarding you with a very high dimensional picture. Your basic understanding of integration should suffice. I’m sure you’ll learn the fundamental mathematics as you grow older.

“In any case,” Severyn continued, “the important takeaway from all of this is that the integration to produce time has an infinite number of associated solutions, similar to how the two dimensional integration of a curve produces infinitely many solutions owing to the constant term. Does that make sense?”

This part Allan understood perfectly, and he nodded vigorously to communicate his understanding, glad that Severyn was taking the time to distill it down to things he could relate to.

Severyn smiled affectionately. “The only difference is, even with initial conditions, the time integral still produces infinitely many solutions. Thus, it is impossible to genuinely predict the path that time will take to collapse back into nothing, at the end of all things. Make sense?”

Allan thought hard. For a moment, his brain felt scrambled, but suddenly he began thinking and comprehending with startling lucidity. “Okay… I think I’m getting the gist of it,” Allan smiled.

“Good,” Severyn said, smiling warmly and patting Allan on the back. “Now, having said that time is unpredictable in what path it will take, whilst all universes are intertwined yet orthogonal to one another… let us say that, ahem, there are still heuristics to determine with some accuracy the probabilities of certain outcomes. In this regard, we Worldwatchers claim there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ potentialities to time across all universes, though I use these terms lightly.

“Now, what eventuality is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ is entirely subjective. Much as your Lexus breaking up with you is bad for you, but maybe good by her, there are different perceptions of which outcomes are good and bad, at the universe-of-universes scale. As Worldwatchers, our job is not to take a stance on any of these outcomes. Sirius?”

Allan turned to watch Sirius putting out the cigarette butt on the concrete, then flicking it into the darkness. He crossed his fingers, hoping his parents wouldn’t find it and come haranguing him later.

“Well,” Sirius began. “Despite our neutrality, there is one particular outcome we are against.”

Allan nodded. “What’s that?”

“Absolute nothingness,” both Severyn and Sirius said in unison.

“You see, absolute nullity is a potentiality, in which nothing ever exists at all,” Sirius said.

“In fact,” Severyn continued, “it may be argued that it is the most natural state of all universes, because it is the beginning and end of everything. But you see, there are agents that wish for it to be the only state of everything. Does this make sense?”

“You mean…” Allan started. “If nothing existed, ever?”

“That’s right. Your parents, your brothers…” Sirius began.

“Your loves and heartaches…” Severyn continued.

“Your pain and suffering. Your joy and happiness. Your struggles in existence.” Sirius alternated.

Allan thought about it. “Honestly, I can’t say that’d be a bad thing,” he finally said quietly.

Severyn nodded, understanding. He gripped one of Allan’s shoulders comfortingly. “I know. You and few other exceptional beings. But you’re not the only person, are you?”

Allan shook his head.

“Even if you may see the beauty in nothing, you are a rarity. Most beings are too myopic and too centered upon their own existences. They need existence, and the thought of nothing is frightening to them.”

Allan nodded. That made sense. “Taking away reality would be like killing everyone and everything…”

Severyn winked. “There’s nothing bad or evil about that outcome… as I said before, we Worldwatchers are neutral to it. But what we sincerely believe is that, existence and reality serve a purpose. Because reality has existed, we ensure its continued existence and prevent its erasure by those who wish otherwise.”

“You mean, there are people who want to make it so nothing ever existed?” Allan asked.

Severyn nodded warmly. “Certainly. Good people, I might add, though many call them unspeakably evil. But they shall all be Judged by their intentions, or rather they all have been Judged… and as I keep saying… we Worldwatchers do not presume them good or bad. Only the Watcher of All Worlds, the Infinite Eye, wields the scales of true Justice, for He sees and perceives all. We simply ensure existence.”

“It sounds like you’re talking about God,” Allan said.

“Is that what He’s called here?” Sirius asked. “Sounds an awful lot like ‘dog’.”

Severyn scratched his chin, suddenly deep in thought. “Perhaps because He is Man’s best friend?” He guffawed at his joke.

“Jokes aside,” Sirius took over, “the Allseer is no joke. Indeed, He has many names.”

“God…” Severyn smirked, then laughed again. “Well, no matter… whatever you call Him, He does have the Best sense of humors. Indeed, my life is naught but a cosmic joke…”

Sirius shook his head. “There he goes again…” Then he whispered into Allan’s ear. “Severyn is the Dark Comedian, or DC, self-proclaimed.”

“What about you?” Allan asked Sirius.

“He’s the Supreme Guitarist, or SG, self-proclaimed.” Severyn replied with a smirk.

Sirius coughed, then reached around to punch Severyn, but Severyn managed to intercept him. Allan felt them struggle behind him, then Sirius reached around and managed to punch Severyn in the chest with his other hand.

Severyn yelped, then laughed. Allan smiled too, just a little. He wasn’t sure what to make of this slapstick routine, especially as he was caught in the middle of it all.

“Welp. There is one last thing, before we go.” Severyn said, once he’d calmed down. “I have a small birthday present for you.”

Allan’s heart both sank at the thought that they’d leave, and then leapt to think they’d brought a present for him.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Severyn produced a glowing orb. “This is an Antiomere.” He handed it over to Allan.

Allan took it with both palms, expecting to feel a glass orb, but it felt much lighter, almost like he was holding air. As he held it, he felt both his palms growing warmer. Then there was a sudden blinding flash. Allan sat perfectly still, his eyes perceiving only blinding white as an unexpected breeze washed over him, carrying with it a myriad scents that smelled familiar yet alien.

Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the blinding white suddenly dissipated, leaving Allan sitting alone upon the porch. For a brief moment, he could swear the blood vessels in his palms glowed brilliant white through his skin, but then everything was normal. He turned to his left and then his right, but there was no one. He got up and walked to the driveway, but there was no car.

It was just Allan, all alone in the darkness.

Emma – zero

Your sweet perfume
graces the room
long before
my wicked fumes
doth exhume
your glittering beauty
from amongst the flumes
of people throbbing
heads gaily bobbing
loudly robbing
in plain sight
your light at night

In your sweet eyes
I realize
like cake left over
I wish to die
with your sweet knife
cutting inside

Your maiden name
can erase my pain
with purity
seldom seen

I want to find,
in your brown eyes
the purity,
I realize
I’ve sought all my life

I want to hope
my love is no joke
but I’m just a bloke
at the end of his rope

perhaps all I am
a simple trope
but I’d rather you
rob me of hope
than faded whimsies
of normal folk

Deepest Desire III – Chapter TWO

Nadine had stalled her car when she was slowing down to take a rest stop. Her car was an aging single-clutch sedan and the battery was dying, so she’d been starting it using a mobile jump-start battery pack. Unfortunately, her mobile battery pack had also died, so she was stuck out here, unable to get the engine to turn.

Fortunately, Charlie knew exactly what to do. He didn’t know why or how he knew, but he presumed this was the nature of his selective amnesia.

Also, you’re a man, his sword reassured him. Men know things like this.

“Stick it in neutral and release the parking brake,” Charlie told Nadine as he positioned himself behind the car, ready to push.

“Alrighty,” Nadine replied from the front seat of the car. “What next?”

“Come back here and help me push.”

Help me push it deep inside you… yeah baby. Mmm.

Charlie shook his head, although by now he was growing accustomed to the constant sexually desirous banter his sword fed him.

Nadine got out and lined up next to him. Charlie smelled her perfume and his mind momentarily blanked thinking, “this must be what heaven smells like.” A giddy grin flashed across his face, but for fear of looking like a lech, he controlled his face and tried to appear serious. He waited for Nadine to get a stable foothold, watching sweat bead up on her forehead and trickle down her face, past her collarbone, and into her cleavage. There was a dull ache in his balls as he imagined laying into her. He shifted uncomfortably, cleared his mind with practiced precision, and said, “Alright, on three.”

“Three.”

The two of them pushed with all they had, and got the car rolling. Charlie ran around, jumped into the front seat, hit the clutch, and engaged first gear as he turned the car on. He did this all so smoothly, he impressed even himself. He’d half-expected to muck it up.

The car push-started and the engine hummed to life. He gently braked to a halt, slipped back into neutral, and engaged the parking brake. Nadine caught up a split second later and he got out to let her drive.

As he got into the passenger seat with his sword, Charlie watched Nadine brush away matted strands of hair that stuck to her sweaty forehead, the bone structure of her face limned perfectly in the midafternoon sun. In this scene, he felt serenity. Seeing her this way was like looking at a painting, or watching a beautiful flower in the breeze. The sexual attraction he felt was still there, but it was smoldering, like a volcano at the bottom of the ocean.

She noticed him watching her intently and seemed to become shy. “What is it?”

“Nothing, I… sorry.”

“For what?”

“For staring.”

No you’re not. You have no regrets staring at something so beautiful.

Nadine seemed to blush, but Charlie wasn’t sure. He looked away, towards the horizon. The clouds and mountains, so far out of reach, seemed to beckon to him. Somehow, they felt closer to him than Nadine did. Inasmuch as he wanted to touch her, to hold her, to feel her, to know her thoughts and emotions at their depths… he also wanted to discover other women as well.

Part of it was because he didn’t know who he was, and part of it was because he wanted to find out what other wonderful women there were in the world. Nadine was lovely, but Charlie imagined there were so many other lovely women out there.

Then there was the thought of children, and of being a father. His amnesia had not eroded his memories of certain infants and children. He did not know who these children were, only that the memory of their tiny faces and the feeling of carrying their little bodies filled him with delight and belonging. He had fond memories of being gentle and interacting affectionately with these little ones. He was certain that these memories were of relatives he loved and cared for.

Somehow, Charlie felt confident that he’d never been married and that he was not a father. He did not know why, but he felt if he could remember these other children, then assuredly, if he had ever been in love or had any children, he would have remembered them as well. But there were no such memories.

Perhaps that was why his sexual wont for Nadine was so great. He glanced at her focused face as she drove, watching her hair dance in the wind coming through the open window, savoring the texture of her skin from afar. He wished he could take a photograph of her, for he wanted to capture this beauty to draw and paint later.

Glancing at his sword, Charlie realized it had been quiet for an unusually long time. He appreciated the peace, and closed his eyes.

***

Charlie awoke to Nadine poking him in the shoulder. Scatterbrained, he glanced at the clock and calculated that he’d probably slept a solid two hours. There was other traffic on the highway now, and it appeared they were approaching a city.

“We’re approaching Cote Naranja,” Nadine voiced over the wind.

Nodding dumbly, Charlie yawned, unsure why she’d woken him up.

“I’m going to grab some grub, then find a hotel to stay the night… what’re you thinking?”

Charlie wasn’t sure how to answer. He really hadn’t thought that far ahead. He supposed it made sense to go to a government office to try and figure out his identity, but… honestly, it seemed like such a hassle. He didn’t particularly care.

He shrugged. “Is it okay if I stick with you?”

“Uh, what now?”

“At least for tonight, while I sort myself out.”

There was a long pause. “Yeah, I guess that’s alright. Maybe we should try and figure out who ya are?”

Charlie looked out the window, seeing the faint reflection of himself. “Somehow… I feel like it doesn’t matter all that much.”

“Well, maybe not to you, not now, but. I dunno. I feel like it sure as hell would bother me, not knowing anything about my past, what my real name was, who my family was.”

Charlie shrugged, turning to look at Nadine as she drove. “I feel free not knowing. Rather than looking back on anything, I can only look forward. I have to.”

Nadine pursed her lips in thought and briefly glanced at Charlie, who wore a pleasant expression from the thought of having a clean slate.

“I’m sure there are countless people who yearn for a fresh start… here I am, gifted with one. I don’t want to go dirtying it up by digging up the past.” Charlie said.

“Yeah… I can understand that.” Nadine’s expression mellowed.

“And… besides, I like you.” Charlie said nonchalantly, shrugging.

At this, Nadine smiled. “I like you too, Charlie.”

Charlie nodded quietly.

I like her too, his sword piped up. Charlie grinned.

“Alrighty. I guess we’re shackin’ up together then,” Nadine said, exhaling deeply.

“Your husband probably wouldn’t like that, huh,” Charlie commented obliquely.

“Soon to be ex husband,” Nadine corrected. “And no, he would not like it one bit…” 

“But you don’t have a problem with it.” Charlie probed.

This caused Nadine to pause. She took a few moments to respond. “We’re not going to be sleeping in the same bed,” she said firmly.

Ask her if she wants to, his sword nudged.

Charlie thought it over. “Of course not,” he responded strategically. “But you know, it might be cheaper.”

Oho. You really think that’s going to work? C’mon.

“Platonically speaking,” Charlie added hastily. “Because I don’t have any money.”

Now it just sounds like you’re being desperate.

Nadine didn’t say anything, but it was clear she was considering his proposition because the car started to slow down noticeably. Then she coughed, clearing her throat. “You know, you’ve got a point.”

Seriously?! No way. You’re such a creep. I can’t believe she would acquiesce to such an outrageous suggestion!

“I don’t care either way,” Charlie said, realizing that was both true and untrue. It would be nice to sleep with her, but he wasn’t sure he really wanted to; it might be better to avoid all of this completely. He didn’t know what the right answer was, and it felt like every time he opened his mouth, he only muddied it up more. “I mean, we could just get a single and I’d sleep on the floor. It’s not appealing but, you know, you footing the bill and all.”

Nadine thought this over and answered after a minute, “well, we’ll see what we can find.”

Charlie sighed with some relief and turned to look out the window. Part of him wanted to think that maybe Nadine wanted him, in that same bone-deep lustful way he wanted her. The caring part of him felt like, here was a nice person, he didn’t want to weigh her down randomly. The manly part of him wanted to be alone and not be bothered by any of these thoughts.

“Maybe it’s not such a good idea,” Nadine said suddenly. “I mean, we’re total strangers. I’ve no idea who you are,” she thought aloud.

“I don’t know. I’m… just… kind of distraught,” she continued.

Charlie empathized sincerely. He turned and put a supporting hand on her shoulder.

“Honestly, I’d be okay on my own, too. That might be better for you and me. The thought of staying with you awhile longer feels comfortable, but it’s a comfort I can do without.”

Nadine smiled a bittersweet, sympathetic smile and nodded. “Yeah, I get it sweetie. It’s alright.”

She paused a moment. “I’m sorry I’m such a mess, I think one thing and then –”

“It’s quite alright,” Charlie said gently as he squeezed her shoulder affirmatively. “You’re going through a lot as it is, and here I am making things complicated.”

Then he let go and turned to look back out the window. He liked being called “sweetie” even if he wasn’t sure he deserved it.

Deepest Desire III – Chapter ONE

There was a sensation that he was falling. When he woke up, he found himself in the grass. It was nighttime and insects were chirping. As he sat up, he realized there was a manacle about his left wrist chained to the hilt of a sword that lay a meter away. He used the chain to pull the sword towards him, then grasped it by the hilt when it was close enough. It felt surprisingly weightless. It was a dual-edged broadsword that seemed like it ought to weigh much more, especially given its metal hilt.

Upon the hilt was an etched design and two small rubies were inlaid in what appeared to be the eyes of a dragon-like beast.

“Well ain’t this something,” he commented to himself.

Then he stopped moving. He looked back at the hilt, then up at the sky, which was dark save the twinkling of the stars. There was no moon, no light. Yet he could discern everything as clear as day.

He realized he could hear much better too if he concentrated.

Or maybe my hearing has always been this good… he bemused.

Not thinking much more into it, he stood up carefully while holding the sword, being careful not to injure himself. Glancing up and down the road, he said aloud: “Guess it doesn’t matter which way we go… eh, slick?”

He looked down at his sword, as if expecting an answer, but got none.

***

The man had found a highway road not far from where he had awoken. His sword in hand, he looked down one way, then the other way, and began walking arbitrarily in one direction. Hungry, thirsty, hot, and slightly delirious, he talked at his sword as he walked.

“You know, I have memories, but I have no idea who I am. It’s like I’ve forgotten my name and I conveniently can’t remember anything to remind me.”

“Don’t they have cars? What is this road for?”

“I don’t even know what the last thing I remember is. I don’t know the chronology of any of my memories.”

“Boy, am I thirsty.”

“Come to think of it, I’m pretty hungry too.”

“Man, it sure is lonely, not having anyone to talk to.”

There was a vibration in the hand he held the sword in, then he heard a voice in his head.

Fine. If you want me to talk so bad, then I will.

At first he chuckled, thinking he’d finally lost it. Then he broke out into ludicrous laughter at the thought of going mad.

Would you stop that, you loon?

He stopped laughing instantly. “So I’m not crazy. You are talking,” he said with lucidity.

What, you spent the last three hours talking at me not knowing I could talk?

He didn’t answer.

You really are a loon. A nut-case. A nutter. Mentally insane. Bereft of all reason. Incurable. How do I even tolerate you, really.

“Wow, that’s…”

Still want me to talk?

***

He had been dragging the sword by its chain, hearing it complain about how delicate it was for about fifteen minutes when he finally got fed up and started carrying it again. He kept hearing strange noises in his head and didn’t understand what they were at first…

“Are you sobbing?” he asked his blade.

There were more sobbing noises before an actual answer materialized. You would be too if you were callously abused by someone you trusted intimately.

“Don’t go making our relationship more than it is.”

We’re chained together. Isn’t that an indicator of how close we are? There’s a physically unbreakable bond between us.

“We’ll see about that.”

You can’t break this chain. Just try.

“I will.”

Fine, don’t trust me.

“I don’t.”

There was a gasp of agony, then heavy breathing from what sounded like a person seething. You. Are. Intolerable! Insufferable! Inhumane! Undeserving of me! A scoundrel! A wretch! You should be grateful you even get to hold me! You —

He dropped the sword. “Whoops.”

This seemed to have the desired effect, as the sword shut up save for an occasional whimpering sob.

***

After nearly four hours, they approached a car on the side of the road. From a distance, the car had been a red speck, and he wasn’t sure if he was seeing things or not. Over time, it became clear that it was no illusion.

As they approached, a woman with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair got out of a car. She wore a white sports bra, olive tank top, and khaki cargo pants, along with a look of suspicion that implicitly communicated her distrust. Her right hand hovered by one of her pockets, which the man could only presume hid some sort of weapon. He hoped for her sake she wasn’t all alone with only a knife because that seemed pretty stupid, but considering how gorgeous this woman was, he didn’t have the highest expectations of her intelligence.

Hey. There are smart, beautiful women out there.

Sometimes his sword surprised him.

Those are the ones I love the most.

Of course.

Her hair was tied back into a ponytail, and her skin was a luscious shade of chestnut. She wore dark blue mascara that complemented her vivacious hazel eyes and light pink lip gloss, but little else in the way of makeup. She was beautiful, the natural sort of beautiful that no man could resist. Part of her beauty derived from her hardiness, for she had the appearance of a woman who had weathered many storms. The man raised both his hands up, sword pointing down, to indicate he meant no harm. She continued to eye him suspiciously.

“Could we… uh, get a ride?” the man asked.

The woman’s eyes tightened. She seemed somehow dumbfounded by this request, but also seemed to relax. “You want a ride?” she asked incredulously.

He nodded.

I mean, of course we want a ride. What, you think we’re just taking a leisurely stroll out here in the middle of nowhere?

The man tightened his grip violently to indicate to his metal companion to shut up. But he had to concede his sword’s sarcasm was on point.

“Who do you expect is going to give you a ride when you’re lugging that piece around?” she posited reasonably.

Tell her I’m nothing compared to the piece you’ve got tucked away in your pants there.

The man sighed. “It’s chained to me. I can’t get it off.”

Not unlike your penis, har har.

The man had to clench his teeth to stop from chuckling.

“Why?” the woman continued questioning. What

The man rolled his eyes in frustration. “I don’t know, I woke up like this.”

Tell her the last woman didn’t ask so many questions.

The woman continued squinting suspiciously. “I’d think you were a prisoner, but they don’t usually arm prisoners…” she paused, just long enough for his sword to get one good insult in.

Ask miss genius here if she has any other brilliant insights while she tries to figure out if you’re a rapist.

“Where you from?” she queried.

With a thoughtful expression, he pondered the question seriously for a moment, despite knowing the likely outcome. “Honestly… I have amnesia and can’t remember.”

The woman nodded, her eyes flashing disbelief. “Right. That’s convenient.”

Not as convenient as finding this hot piece of meat stranded out here…

“Convenient or not, it’s the truth,” the man defended.

“So you have no idea how you ended up here, chained to a sword,” the woman reaffirmed, still not believing the man.

“That’s right.”

“Fine then, Mr. Amnesia. Say I was to believe this hokey-dokey story of yours. How about a name then?”

The man winced, an enigmatic pain coursing through the center of his skull. “Ah…” he grimaced.

“Ah…?” she mimicked heartlessly.

He shook his head violently, his hair splaying all about. “I have no idea. My head just hurt all of a sudden.”

The woman pursed her lips, clearly not believing a word of it.

Tell her you might remember if she gave you a lap dance.

His heart skipped a beat, and his stomach knotted with desire at his sword’s perverted aside.

“Well, you gotta have a name,” the woman pressed.

His head flared up in pain again and, without thinking too hard, he blurted out, “Charlie. Just… call me Charlie.” He wanted her to stop bugging him, though somehow he felt this was only the beginning of his frustrations with this woman.

“Charlie it is. Nice to meet you. I’m Nadine.”

Charlie nodded. “Pleasure to meet you Nadine. So, what brings you out to the middle of lord only knows where?”

Nadine scratched the back of her head with a crooked smile, exposing her perfect teeth, then chuckled nervously. As she did this, the man was drawn to her breasts and the thought of how soft and supple they were. He licked his lips, squeezing his fingertips to distract himself from thinking about her nipples, and bit his lower lip in refrain.

You know, you could force yourself on her if you wanted… there’s no one around, and I doubt she’s got the nerve to kill a man with… whatever it is she’s got in her pocket.

Ignoring his companion, Charlie looked into Nadine’s eyes, which were a marvelous multi-hued hazel. Her eyes calmed him down, and he found himself getting lost in them. God… damnit. I don’t need to fall in love now. Not now. Not ever.

But boy, were her eyes pretty.

“Heh… funny story, that,” the woman chuckled.

“Do tell,” Charlie replied, continuing to stare into her gorgeous eyes to avoid thinking about her breasts and staving off his thoughts about taking the clothes off her body and kissing her seductive, beautiful lips…

“Well… I’m sort of running away,” the woman replied hesitantly.

He licked his lips again because he wanted to say, “let me run away with you, let’s go somewhere we can be alone and make countless children.” He wanted so desperately to grab her hand, take it, and run; or better yet, to sweep her off her feet, hold her close to him, and make off into the horizon.

Instead, Charlie gritted himself like a real gentleman, put aside his thoughts of her legs and what was bewtween them, clenched his teeth, and thoughtfully responded: “Is that so?”

Nadine sighed and shook her head. “Bad relationship. Terrible marriage. I finally decided I’d had enough and…”

His sword chuckled. Then you had the bad luck of running into this sex-starved beast.

Ignoring the commentary and the hardening bulge in his pants, Charlie bit his tongue. “So you have no idea where you’re going.”

“As far away from my husband as possible. Wherever the wind takes me, so to speak.”

She should be trying to get away from us, too.

“Wouldn’t a divorce make more sense?” Charlie tried to reason.

“Oho, don’t you start talking to me about what I should do. You don’t know my husband, the kind of maniac he is. If I mentioned anything about divorce…”

She also doesn’t know you, and the kind of maniac you are… in bed. You should try and fix that.

He shrugged. Her husband must’ve been a real psycho, and probably not just in bed.

As if reading his mind, Nadine said, “let’s just say my husband’s a real psycho and leave it at that.”

“Guessing he wasn’t that way when you met him, huh?” Charlie conversed.

“Well… we had our share of good times. Maybe we got married too fast, too young, before I really understood what kind of man he was… and what kind of woman I was.”

The kind of woman that wants you to take her by force, show her who’s a man. Really pound it into her.

Charlie nodded in understanding even as he melted at the thought of coitus. “It happens.”

Sex. That also “happens”.

“What about you, you got anyone special? Or you probably can’t remember, huh,” Nadine smiled sheepishly. She looked insanely cute, and for a moment, Charlie’s mind went blank. Then he glanced at his sword before looking back at Nadine. “Just myself and this tin-can opener,” he said dryly.

I’ll open her tin can for you, show you what a real man’s like.

A momentary traipse through darkness

Proelium. Contentio. Conatum. Conflictus. (Latin)
Jihad. Alnidal. Sirae. (Arabic)
Kampf. (German)
Dòuzhēng. (Chinese)
Kamf. (Yiddish)
Saṅgrāma. (Bangla)

Struggle.

Contendunt. Contendo. Affecto. Nitor. Annitor. Adnitor. Enitor. Obnitor. Adfector. (Latin)
Jahad. Kafih. Aistabsil. (Arabic)
Streben. Suchen. Trachten. Eifern. (German)
Nǔlì. Fèndòu. Lìtú. Miǎn. (Chinese)
Shtrebn. (Yiddish)

Strive.

***

He stood upon a transparent plane. There was no land below; he was surrounded in all directions by clouds blooming vermillion, lavender, and rose hues, lit by a perpetual sunset.

The world appeared as in rainbows. Pixels of colors no human could see, spectral emissions of radiation invisible to human eyes lined the entire breadth of his vision. It was as though the veil of reality had at last been removed and he could witness the complete truth in its full glory.

With his hands, he scratched and peeled at the skin covering his legs. It came away easily, like latex rubber. He sheared it off violently, layer after layer, making his way past his loins, up through his torso, beyond his neck, and finally to his skull and face, sloppily sloughing and ripping off the garb of his humanity. As his humanity peeled away, his true self remained: naked musculature dripping crimson. His body was encompassed in a tingling from ripping off his skin, a sensation that ought to have been pain but was pleasurable.

In living, he was constantly dying. In death, would he be constantly living? 

A knife fashioned with a glazed mahogany handle materialized to his right. He grasped it, then tightened his grip into a vice that could break bones. The hilt felt sturdy while the knife was double-edged, its edge and point fine, glinting iridescent in the sunlight. He took the point and placed it at the corner of his right eye as he stared into the sun. Goosebumps bombarded the back of his head with the forethought of what he was about to do.

Then he plunged the knife in and gouged out his right eyeball.

There was no pain. If anything, a sense of contentedness, that this was meant to be. As his eyeball hung from its optical cords, still detecting light, he held it gently in his free palm and slowly squashed it, pulling the remainder of optical cord out of his eye-socket. As he did this, he felt the fluids of his former eye flow through his fingertips. He took the knife up to his second eye.

It seemed unoriginal to repeat the same methodology. This time, he brought the tip, bloodied and dripping, until he felt it against the center of his left eye. There was a satisfying tinge as he pushed all the way through, which he articulated with a mad grin of satisfaction. He was unsure whether it was love or hate that he felt: in life, his love had always led to hate; in dispelling that venomous hate, he found only love.

He turned the knife in his left eye socket, blood squirting out. Then he pulled the knife out and used his other hand to reach into the socket and pull out the dismembered remnants of his eyeball. He tossed them away.

There was no need to for eyes to see here. He could see that now, in vision far more clear than his eyes had ever granted him. Before him materialized an oak table, atop which stood an empty wine glass. Blood streamed down his face from where his eyes once were, like tears of joy.

He laughed manically, as though told a joke of great hilarity. His alacrity refreshed him. Walking across that transparent plane to the table, he took the wine glass in his free hand, then positioned the knife carefully… there, where the beat of his heart was strongest. He adjusted the point to jus a bit above his heart, where he was certain to find his aorta. With practiced precision, he pushed the knife between his ribs, slicing his artery as he held the wine glass up below it, ready to catch the blood which began to gush as he pulled the knife out. The glass filled up in but a second, then overflowed, brimming with his essence.

Laughing, he lifted the wine glass to his nostrils and smelled the blood like one might whiff wine. It smelled metallic, caustic. He took a sip. It left a dryness in the back of his throat with the taste of a bloodied nose, leaving pulpy clots of residue in his mouth. Taking his knife, he now sliced through his esophagus, leaving his windpipe intact and still able to breathe. He gulped the entire glass of blood, feeling it flow down and out of the slit in his throat.

As he stood standing, his vision floated beyond his body, and he saw his gruesome visage. As he looked, his vision gradually became occluded by a darkness blacker than anything in reality. He’d seen it a number of times before, lying alone with his eyes closed as he peered into the deepest depths of his soul. A darkness that grew darker the more he looked into it; a darkness that stared back. Therein could be seen the shadows of countless nonhuman beings. 

He was not afraid. He reached towards the darkness, towards them; he wanted to explore its true depths, but he knew… that he had to go on living. He recited Those Words as he always had.

He breathed, and it felt as though it were his first breath in an eon. The darkness rapidly receded, his wounds undoing themselves, atoms literally flying back into place. It was as though time were going in reverse, yet he moved freely forward in time, pouring the remainder of his blood out of his glass. The blood he poured was compelled by some invisible force and pulled instantly back into his body. 

This was the manifestation of the Will to Live, for he was Immortal. The darkness would wait until another day.

***

As he pulled at his hair from both sides, his scalp split open down the middle with a sickening noise. He felt no pain at this; actually, it felt quite good, like getting at an itch that had been bothering one for a long time. He kept going, tearing his skin in half like a suit or a cocoon, exposing the muscle and fat beneath.

Around mid-abdomen, he stopped and his arms came out easily, like he were sliding out of a shirt. He pulled the remainder of his skin off his legs, and tossed it. It had a mass and consistency that made it feel like texturized rubber. 

Truly naked, he stood upon that cliffside, then sat as he’d often sat before: right leg hanging over the edge, dangling, left leg upright at a steep angle, digging in to support the remainder of his partly floating body.

He imagined how horrid he would appear to most onlookers in his naked musculature. He scratched behind his ear, then began to pick away at layers of fat he no longer needed. Sometimes he would stop and simply admire his muscles themselves. As he did this, the distance began to glow blood orange, then a crimson vermilion. It was sunset.

Here, the sun seemed as though in an oil-on-canvas painting, high-energy waves that stuck out more or less clearly like paintbrush strokes with depth. It was a painting that kept painting itself over and over in the most interesting ways. He could get lost staring at the sun and clouds for hours on end, absorbed completely by the sight of them.

He liked it here. There was life and nature all around him, but no humans. The world was alive, yet everything seemed still. There was nowhere to go and nowhere to be. There was no need that needed to be fulfilled. It was a garden that was its own gardener.

***

Imagination was reality here, for there was no other reality to contend with. Why did he imagine the things he did, even when there were no external stimuli, not even a physical brain? Nothing he experienced made any sense to him, but that didn’t stop it from being real.

Here, it seemed as though time no longer held any meaning. Often, he would find himself at the tail-end of a remarkable amount of thought that he would trace back with perfect recollect, realizing that the level of human time it would take for an individual to think the same amount was… beyond incalculable. Not only that, but his memory too: few humans if any possessed memory like that, he knew. 

Internally, he possessed no metric of time. It made sense to say he had always known the things he thought. It also made sense to say it had taken him a day, a week, or countless years to think any one thing. 

Time went beyond simply seeming variable and inconsistent. Often, he had this sneaking perception that everything had already happened, and he merely observed it in a certain manner as governed by… whatever it was that allowed his existence here. Perhaps it was God who held him here, for it felt like there was something alive out there, an intelligence far greater and more encompassing than his own. But then he wondered if it perhaps it was a mirage, that what he called God was but a reflection of his own will, and it was that will which imprisoned him.

None of this bothered him. He found all of it interesting and significant considering its relevance to this universe and the state he found himself in. He was naturally curious about the nature of his existence.

There was infuriatingly little he could concretely determine when there was nothing physical. Everything could only remain theory or hypothesis or, at best, be taken as axiomatic. If he had hair, he knew he would have been pulling it out.

His curiosity aside, he found the blackness wholly pleasant and would usually lose himself in contemplation until sleep would overtake him.

***

He awoke, floating once more in empty space. There was no light so he could not perceive his body or anything else in any direction. He could feel his body, but the absence of air and all stimuli caused him to “feel” things that weren’t there and have a distorted sense of his limbs. There was no sound, but in that petrifying silence, his ears “heard” things. Echoes of voices that seemed familiar and alien all at once. Eventually, his eyes too began “seeing” things.

All of this he was well-adjusted to. He let his mind paint his senses in an endless mirage that morphed constantly between scenes that were never completely familiar and never entirely new. Absorbed completely in this world of his own making, he was ever encased in dream and never confident of his reality.

He did not know who he was, where he was, when it was, and most significantly, why any of it was. He dreamed constantly, when he was conscious and awake and when he was unconscious in sleep. Usually he would fall asleep without knowing it, passing seamlessly and indistinguishably from waking dream to sleeping dream.

What is real and what is not?
Something I wonder quite a lot;
“Who is right and who is wrong?”
Has long been a wearied song; 
What once was, is no more:
This I know, to the core;
What is today is not in stone,
Even if you’re all alone;
What comes tomorrow, come it may,
Lest I die, let my struggle 
Not fade away.

amber – have you heard?

bokeh about a beautiful face
once seen in a forgotten dream
glacier eyes pierce like ice
crystal clarity impales your gaze
the world blurs into haze;

her face encased in photographic amber
fossilized resin for all to adore
you see but cannot reach
there’s nothing you want more;

try to pry yourself away
300 milligrams deludes your heart to stay
nothing worth living for anyways;
600 milligrams makes you strong
unable to escape, you write her a song;

empty bottles line the hall
at 4 am your guitar seems to call
its beckoning strings glistening:
one grand for a recording stand
three days on three hours sleep
spastic fingers skewing the beat
looping over four simple chords
insomniac brain blending words
in dyslexic Myxomatosis
one take is all it takes
to seal your twisted fate
like a broken vinyl it plays
the verses get worse with age

with every turn the words burn
300 micrograms to make them new
then your brain starts to loop too;
600 micrograms to try and escape
this God-forsaken hell you’ve made:

as time stops, space bends in place
in your fear you perceive a sphere
into its clear metal depths you peer
therein you see not heaven
but Lucifer’s throne which beckons

Was your fate preordained
To eternity in that seventh plane?
Despite this life’s torment and pain
Have you only earned God’s ire
And the reward of hellfire?

Vomit up an ocean of crimson
Spanning horizon to horizon
Not blood but all the medicine
You downed just to cope
With your lack of hope
Only to be condemned
With weakness as your sin

Too easy to be cold,
Too easy to not care,
Too easy to grow old
Claiming life is unfair;

you could live that half life
but you’d rather love life
instead of Amber you marry
amber of the love you buried

rachel

smile while you hold her close
never mind your lack of hope
think of how there is only now
before you’re drowned by the undertow

the gentle rhythm of her breath
loosens stiffness in your neck
draws away curtains of pain
the drapes of your graying mane

leaves exposed your naked nape
to her fangs and your fate
let her draw your blood and soul
her sharp bite makes you whole

even as you are drained
by this zero-sum exchange
you feel not an ounce of pain
both of you have only gained

then when she walks away
do not force your love to stay
each of you to your own ways
embracing of a brand new day