Betsy Cole – Bound By Truth

She couldn’t remember exactly how long it had taken her to get to this industrial wasteland, only that it seemed a million miles from the bustling streets she left to come here. A blindingly bright forest of dirty white stucco overwhelmed any sense of direction. She struggled through the deafening silence in search of a truck engine, a voice, a birdcall. Nothing. Only a breeze, a soft sound she clung to gratefully as it sent a torn brown page of newspaper across her path. Looking up: not a cloud in the harsh Los Angeles sky. Looking down: dusty concrete, accumulated trash piles, desperate patches of grassy weeds fighting for space along the cracked pavement. The warehouses were closed up. Whatever mysteries lay dormant behind massive rolling doors would remain intact. Fantasies of lush gardens or priceless art gave way to the realistic imagery of rotting boxes filled with useless marketing material, tasteless clothing, cheap furniture, used tires. The place she sought was barely a memory, her data missing, it might not even exist, but she had to find out. Searching for clues, she peered into windows long since painted black, and read the remnants of homemade signs married to wooden electrical posts by staple gun.

A quick boom rang through the air within blocks of her. A gunshot? A backfire? A door slamming? Maybe this was the clue she was searching for. Proof that something, not nothing, lurked within this forgotten acreage. Careful to muffle the sound of her gentle steps, she proceeded, distrustingly glancing around each corner, fearing any perception of her would halt the movement she hoped to find. Find what though? She strained her memory. A slight glance to the street sign above her; Mission Street, a symbolic encouragement. Yes, a mission. Bits and pieces would return to her, their relevance to the mission unknown. Screams. Darkness. Secrets. Shame. Protection.

GUDDUSH. Another loud bang, this one multi-tonal. A door re-opening? Or, God forbid, re-closing? She had to find it. The noise was so jarring it felt as if the resonance continued to sound for minutes after its inception. She followed this feeling, sure it was leading her. Creeping along the sidewalk, hugging the sliver of harsh shadow along the building facades, she stopped. A cigarette butt, still burning, dropped just outside a gate, locked of course. Peeking through the widely spaced iron bars, the door beyond had been left open just a crack. Her slender body gracefully slid between the bars and through the door as if no one had ever been there. Inside, the darkness was thick, her retinas still burnt from the harsh mid-day sun. Her feet climbed cool concrete stairs as her eyes adjusted. A dim glowing shone from double doors at the landing, perceiving no signs of surveillance, she confidently and foolishly stepped through the doors into an open factory floor. Her body froze, her heart lurched, her eyes widened.

The rats. So many rats. Swarming, screeching passionately, devouring something. Bodies. Human bodies. Their heads covered to the neck, their gloved hands splayed out on the dirty floor. Their otherwise naked bodies laid out in obsessive grid-like perfection, equal spacing, straight lines, on black rubber tarps protecting the hard ground below them, and attached at four corners to wires dripping from a mechanical apparatus on the ceiling. Uniformed guards walked the aisles of corpses, overseeing the work. Her repulsion overwhelmed her and her stomach convulsed without warning as her disobedient throat seized in desperation. She was sure they would hear her fear, her panic. Suddenly aware her eyes were shut, she opened them, not wanting to, as she slowly backed toward the wall, her delicate hand searching for unseen obstacles behind her. The guards had not yet noticed her, she could still escape this orgy of death. But then something caught her attention and that of the guard’s simultaneously. One of the bodies; it moved. Not the swarming emergent movement of rodent competition, but a larger, slower, graceful movement. The body was alive.

She had heard of this in the old research journals. The restorative power of their saliva, but it was too horrible to imagine continuing the research. To subject oneself to the damage, the pain, the disgrace. They were abominations. Resurrected through the mutant rats, long abandoned by the military unit that had once occupied these massive architectures. The victims would be revived, yes. But mangled, disfigured, covered in the wounds of the vermin’s gnarled yellow teeth, permanent reminders of the revolting event which had transpired. Born anew, but a decrepit life, back from the dead, a shell of former self, disoriented, confused, vaguely aware of what it had been through, struggling to remember why it had been subjected to such terror.

Horrified realization swept over her contorted face, her mind raced. She screamed. The guards finally saw her and rushed her. She struggled weakly as they held her in place. She watched, captivated, as the ceiling mechanism engaged loudly and slowly, and raised the newly awake body up vertically, away from the rats, on its nightmarish sling. The guard overseeing the resurrection used his apparatus, a thin pole with a narrow net, to brush the remaining animals off the bleeding body onto the floor where they feverishly scurried to join the nearest feast. The body was erected, gloves and hood removed, and led past its peers to a brightly lit room behind a thick steel door.

No one had spoken to her, and after her scream, she had not uttered a sound. Her detainees felt no need for explanation as they tied her hands and placed her in a small holding cell, just off the factory floor, handcuffed to a cot, she waited. The images of the pain on the man’s shocked face as his hood was removed would not leave her eyesight. She felt as if he were still standing in front of her, begging her with his eyes for help, for an explanation. Time crawled in this room, her head felt swollen and her body icy cold. She longed for the calm bright day that she knew was just outside these horrific walls, but doubted she would ever see it again.

She heard footsteps at the door, her fear was mediated by the relief of something happening, anything, as long as she was not left alone with the images any longer. The guard that entered quietly closed the door behind him and unlocked her from the cot. Clutching her thin arm, he raised her up and led her out the door. Her heart raced, what was he planning for her? The rats? But she was still alive. An interrogation? What did they want to know? Torture? For trespassing? Panicked, she bolted. Back the other direction, past the holding cell door, left down a hall, then a right, a random door chosen in desperation. She stood upright, stiff and terrified in a dark corner, hoping her adrenaline had sufficed to outrun him, completely unaware of any next possible move. A full minute passed, the door opened slowly, a sliver of light fell directly onto her position past his silhouetted figure. He was calm, not surprised to find her there, as if it was the agreed meeting spot.

He closed the door and flicked on a dim light. He looked at her. He knew her. She couldn’t grasp why. She couldn’t remember how she had found this room among many, perhaps once used for questioning, but now littered with storage boxes and used wool military blankets. Or why her skin suddenly felt alive, itching, crawling. The guard’s gaze slowly moved down her body, as she had had men do before, devouring her with their desire without her permission. She followed his eyes and looked down at herself, her long sleeves had risen in her struggles and a multitude of recently healed tiny scars peeked out, reaching toward her fragile wrists. He spoke, “I knew you’d come back, you promised. No one knows it was me, who released you. You didn’t remember me when I did, but I knew you would eventually, and that you would return. It was the only way for you to be free.”

She looked in paralyzed shock at her scars as she remembered the rats. She couldn’t see them, but she could feel them, tearing her flesh. Taking her body. She couldn’t fathom it. The atrocity, it couldn’t be real. Her eyes glazed as the realization that she had been here before, with him, came over her. She was the one who had suggested it, they had planned it together. Freedom through death, through the sick resurrection. They had been in this room before, their passion fueled their insane plan, which had gone without a hitch. This poor soul, this wretched man who had allowed this to happen still looked at her with desire, undeterred by the process her body had endured, enlivened by her return. She was horrified, disgusted. He grabbed her, held her, began his familiar work of enjoying her. She must have loved it once, relished in it, what could she do now? Her hands still bound, she felt her whole body was bound, her whole life, her past, her future. Bound.


Ruben Alejandre – Wasteland

Gabino awoke; he rolled over in his bed and stared at the amber lights of his alarm clock blink in the dark. It was 3:55 AM. He no longer bothered to set his alarm. His body was programmed already (after years of following the same routine) to wake up at the same time, every night. He sat up in bed wrapped in layers of warm cotton blankets. Right away the cold started creeping in, first at his feet when they made contact with the cold wooden floor planks. He slid his bare feet around in the darkness trying to find shelter from the cold in his shoes, the moment he felt the tips of the shoe tops he slid his feet in to much relief.
Now he slowly pushed back the layers of bed sheets that were wrapped around him, almost like a bird unfurling his wings before taking flight. The cold swept in immediately and he felt it on every inch of his body. He got up and stretched his hands into the air while yawning and for just a moment he stood tall and full of dignity but slowly he shrunk back to his hunched back self.

Gabino now shuffled across to the other end of the room were he placed his hand on the concrete wall, the surface was painted a semi gloss white, so it was smooth but he could still feel the texture of the concrete as he slid his hand up searching for the light switch. When he brushed it on, the fluorescent light tubes above him flickered on violently, with spasms of light until they settled into a dim glow with a low humming sound. He squinted as his pupils adjusted to the light.

With the lights on you now got a better idea of what his living area looked like. It was one room about 10’ x 20’, rectangular. His bed was located up against one of the longer walls, to the left of it was a short counter and stove that served as his kitchen area. On the other end of the room across from his kitchen was a small bathroom and in the middle of the whole room was a desk. The rest of the space was filled with piles of blue prints, maps, schematics, and journals.

This day of all days was a special one in particular. He was very excited, the night before he had run across the parts he had been looking for to complete his wings. How amazing those wings will be he thought to himself. Surely they will be my escape from the darkness but after so many years he should not rush it. “Patience Gabino, patience, patience” he mumbled to himself as he hobbled over to his desk. On it were several items, on the upper left corner was an old National Geographic Issue, and the magazine was pressed open to an article on the albatross. Gabino was amazed by birds and his dream was to one day get to see an actual one in person but for now he just had to settle for the countless magazines, books and videos that he was able to collect on them. Right in front of him were two sets of blue prints one showed an axonometric of a flush head screw, the other print had all the technical data like head height, diameter and so on. He put on his bifocals and examined the prints then he grabbed a pencil from a small tin can on the upper right corner of the desk. He lifted it up so that the tip of it was right in front of his pudgy nose slowly he rotated the pencil and frowning with disapproval he sharpened the point until it was just right.

After spending some time making minor adjustments on the prints he heard his alarm clock start to buzz. As he looked over he saw it flashing 8:00 AM on its screen. He stopped what he was doing and moved towards the kitchen area, there he had several water bottles all placed in a neat row each one numbered, he picked up number 6, he twisted the cap off and clasping the water bottle with both hands he mustered up enough strength to lift it up to his mouth and press it up against his dry and blistered lips. Even drinking water was a painful ordeal for Gabino because his stomach was deteriorating at a quicker pace everyday due to starvation. But this was not because of any lack of food, Gabino was deliberately starving himself, after all how else was he going to be light enough to be able to fly? It’s a well-known fact that birds have a hollow skeletal structure and thus are much lighter, so in order to match them in lightness he had to shed weight in any way that he could.

After fidgeting with the prints some more he finally decided it was time to head down to the shop. He rolled up the prints and slid them under his arm, and then stepping outside his room into the hallway he realized that things were no longer as easy as before, now in his old age eight stairs felt more like a descent along a steep cliff. But he made it down stairs with no incident. At the bottom of the stairs he ran his left hand along the wall and flipped on two light switches. The Lights sprang on in rows all along the shop ceiling, 1,2,3,4,5…. the lights started coming on exposing the vast machine shop that was filled with every kind of apparatus, machine, and tool you could imagine.

He shuffled towards a large oak table on the far end of the room; and put down the prints at the edge of the table, behind where his wings, they were suspended on an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys. Each wing spanned about 5 feet; Gabino had spent 30 years perfecting his wing design. The right and left wing had an even amount of feathers, 3,500 each to be exact. Each contour feather, down feather, and semi plume feather was carefully hand crafted from paper-thin titanium sheets. The feathers were meticulously welded to a tubular titanium frame that formed the structure for the wing. Gabino’s work with metal was truly a work of art, the welds on the titanium tubes that connected each feather looked like frozen drops of mercury glistening in the light. Gabino took great pride in his craftmaship, treating each of the 7,000 feathers like delicate gems. He put on lint-free gloves every time he handled any of them because even the chlorine from the perspiration on his hands could cause localized corrosion on the weld spots.

Gabino was ready to add the final touch to complete the construction. The harness that would connect both wings and attach them to his back was missing the screws that would tie everything together. He had spent years trying to find the perfect size fastener and finally last night while scavenging in the wasteland he came across an old computer tower and stripped it of the parts he needed. Like a surgeon preparing to operate Gabino picked up his shop apron and looped the top over his head, it slung around his neck, he then wrapped the cords around his thin waist several times before using up all the slack and tying the loose ends in a small knot. He already had a metal cart set up with all his tools next to the wing harness; all he needed now were the screws. He picked up a small pack of cigarettes in the middle of the large oak table and scuffled back to the metal cart, pushed the top back with his thumbs and emptied the contents from the box onto a small red rag that was unfolded on the tray, out tumbled out the tiny screws.

He worked for hours and hours only pausing to drink water whenever his alarm would go off. When he finally finished he stepped back and looked admiringly at the wings but only for a minute for there was much work to be done and very little time to do it in, he did not know how much longer his body could hold out in the state he was in. He must check the weight now he thought, Gabino took off his apron and stripped every article of clothing that he had so that by the time he was done he was standing there naked in front of the wings, at this point anyone that could see him would be taken aback by how thin and frail he truly was. The skin stretched across every bone and tendon of his body, very little muscle mass remained, he was a walking corpse. Gabino stepped underneath the harness and slid each hand in between the harness straps. He tightened them across his chest and when he felt that everything was securely fastened he released the wings from the pulleys that held them in the air, the wings were light, very light, even for his frail body. Behind him was a scale so he stepped back onto it and tilted his head down to read the weight. There was a look of disgust and disappointment as he realized that he was still over the weight limit. The night’s success had been tainted by this minor failure but he would not let it discourage him.

He went back upstairs to do some more research on how he could solve this dilemma. He started reading through his books on birds and bird anatomy. Hmm this is interesting he thought as he read thru one passage “birds unlike humans have no teeth, they have evolved beaks which are more light weight” Gabino had no time to wait on evolution he thought, god knows how long that will take me. He put the book down and shuffled over to his small bathroom at the other end of the room. He almost didn’t recognize himself as he gazed into the mirror. His eyes were sunken in deep into his eye sockets, his cheekbones seemed to almost break the surface of the skin and his long beard was coarse and grey. He opened his mouth wide and prodded it around with his index finger, inspecting the few remaining molars and incisors he had left. They weren’t that many he thought but every ounce counts. Gabino decided the best tool would be a chisel, but since he no longer had the strength in his arms to swing the small lead mallet against the butt of the chisel he devised a plan. In his shop was a large machine called a flat-roller, it was made up of two large rectangular slabs of steel, each about the size of a park bench. One slab stayed in place and did not move, the other slab move back and forth over and over again parallel to the first one. In between the two large slabs was a small adjustable gap, you would place a metal rod that needed straightening in it and as one slab moved, the rod would be caught in between them compressed and rolled straight.

Gabino’s intention was to sit down next to the machine and position his head in the path of the moving block of steel so that as it moved towards his face it would strike the butt of the chisel and chip out the teeth. He was very excited he thought this was an excellent plan! He scuffled around collecting the tools that he needed around the shop. Chisel, soldering iron to cauterize the wound, rags, and a first aid kit. He brought it all over and placed it on a metal tray that he set on the floor next to the machine. He then turned the machine on and watched the block move back and forth, Gabino calculated the exact spot that he needed to be in order to be in the path of the moving block.

He turned the machine back off and sat down on the spot he had marked, He picked up the chisel, lifted it up towards his mouth and positioned it in front of the right row of teeth along his bottom jaw. He could feel the sharp steel blade digging into his gums just beneath the tooth, then without hesitation he turned the machine on. The massive block of metal moved away from his face at first in the opposite direction for a couple of inches than it stopped and with a small jolt it headed back towards him. The block made contact with the butt of the chisel just as planned, the sharp blade ripped through his gums and sheared away all the teeth on his right side, unfortunately for Gabino it also pushed the chisel straight through his cheek, piercing the skin and sending his head flying back as it also struck him in the face. All he saw was darkness.

Gabino did not know how long he had been unconscious for, when he awoke in a pool of blood and teeth on the cold concrete floor. As he tried to move his mouth he realized that the chisel was still embedded in it, he pulled it out and tossed it on the floor, then rolled over to avoid being hit by the swinging slab once more, since the machine was still running. He sat up and propped himself against the wall. His head was spinning and as he looked down he noticed that blood was trickling from his mouth. Gabino spit out two teeth that were still swimming around in his mouth, he stuck his index and middle finger in his mouth to lift the flap of cheek that was dangling and with a small mirror he inspected the damage. It was a mangled mess of flesh and exposed bone. At this point he didn’t know if it was shock but he had forgotten about the pain it was just a faint pulsing now that got stronger and weaker at different moments. His main worry was the bleeding so he proceeded to seal the wound with the soldering iron. Once the bleeding stopped inside his mouth, he stitched up the 4” slash left on his cheek by the chisel.

Several hours later Gabino now lied in bed staring at the ceiling his face bruised up, and his left eye swollen shut. His right cheek was puffed up mainly from the inflammation but also from all the cotton he had stuffed in his mouth to soak up the blood. He had to fly now regardless of the consequences, the longer he postponed the more he could feel his life slipping away from him. He sat up in bed and looked over the space that had been his home for so many years. Gabino steadied himself up from bed; it took a lot of effort just to stand up, his feet trembling beneath him.

He hobbled over to the hallway and shut the room door behind him, clinging to the railing he descended to the machine shop. He went through the usual routine of stripping every article of clothing, then he walked over to the wings, every step was agonizing. He got beneath the wings and slipped his hands through each of the harnesses. He ran the leather straps across his chest and securely fastened them. Tightening them just enough to pressure his upper torso slightly. He triggered the release for the pulleys that held up the wings and gradually the full weight of the wings descended on his body. He had to squat a bit in order to keep his balance at first but he eventually stretched his hands out to the sides and gripped the control mechanisms for both wings. Once he had a firm grasp on the controls he pulled them towards his chest and the wings followed the motion of his hands, wrapping around his body so that he appeared to have a metallic cloak over him.

The shop had an old lighthouse attached to it. He had access to it from a service tunnel that ran along the back. It was 95 feet high with a spiral staircase running along its interior walls. It was the ideal take off point. A rickety elevator transported Gabino to the top. Once at the top of the light tower he walked towards the edge of the platform. The wind was very strong at this altitude so he knelt down to avoid the gusts of wind that could knock him over before he was ready. He looked out into the vast wasteland, nothing but darkness deep and consuming, not another living soul in sight. It felt like he had been in limbo for an eternity, punished for some forgotten sin. But it would all be over soon thought Gabino to himself, as he squatted at the edge of the platform his silhouette in the dark looked like that of an owl perched in a tree top. His bare feet were numb from the cold and his naked body shivered beneath his metallic cloak.

He stood up once more, straightened his back and shook his hands a bit to un-ruffle the feathers on the wings. Then he closed his eyes, whispered some inaudible sound and stepped off the ledge.

Fabian Hutter – The Embedded Alien

[English translated version]
How did you end up here?
The yawning mouth wide open, no dread of neighbors, you have made yourself comfortable in the corner.
Stretched limbs, crowded your heavy mass. Cotton soft, you seem to be formed by exterior forces.
With projecting eyes, pupils continuous and clear, you hold contact with the outside world.
Contemptuous is your look towards your neighbors, these rectilinear inferiors of time.
Can you hear them? You don’t seem to care.
The pores widely scattered, distributed over your patterned garb, they give you air to breathe.
Arise, where you came from, the minds of the maniacs!

Ilaya Bourim – log.sys

The following log file was found as part of the research into the causes of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster. This research was initiated once the KGB archives were open for public access 25 years post disaster. The origins of this file are currently unknown. The only thing that is stapled to the envelope is the standard KGB recovery form stating that the contents were recovered in the “Red Forest” near the disaster site. There is some information about the media serial number, but apart from that there is nothing much. The contents of the printout are interesting. There are also two partly melted memory chips in a pink anti-static bag.

– Ilya Bourim (April 5, 2011)


April 29. 19XX 6:00: Sounds from alarms. Light from window. Ceiling. Wall. Door. Face. Many faces. Truck. Work.

Work is:

1. Pick up debris

2. Load debris with shovel into carts.

April 30. 19XX 6:00: I am awake. I lay on a low wooden table covered with white cloth. I get up. The table resembles a bed. There are hundreds of tables in all directions.

May 01. 19XX 6:00: I am awake. I get up. I get into the queue to put on clothes. The person I am following has severe damage to the skin on the left side of the back. The structure is exposed. The wires intertwine with muscle tissue. Traces of blood soaked fabric are burned into the skin on the edges of hole. It seems like my body makes all the decisions: it lines up for the clothing line. It puts on the biosuit. I watch my hands clothe me. It goes into another line, this time I am going outside. My legs step firmly on to the ground.  […. a large part of the file is missing]

November 08. 19XX 6:00 Yesterday I realized that radiation is what gives me strength. Caretakers have other needs. But for us, radiation from Cesium-137 is energy. I need to get as much as I can.  [Data corrupted]

March 21. 19XX 6:00 Something is happening to my skin. I got a large burn on the side of my leg. The interior structure begins to show. The metal parts inside look fine, but the flesh of my muscles seems to be deteriorating. The flesh seems to be separating and top layers are peeling away. The parts where the wires connect are especially affected. It looks like the metallic parts started to oxidize near the places where they touch the muscle tissue. I am in line for the work clothes, but it looks like the clothes they are giving us are still dirty from yesterday. Something must have happened at the cleaning module.  Maybe they won’t notice my burns.  Going back to the forest to clean up the remaining radioactive debris, but today the personnel carrier didn’t come. I start to walk towards the Red forest. I don’t know how to get there, but my body knows. My steps are firm and I keep moving. I can hear their muffled steps. There is no path; we just follow our internal compass. When we get to the burned forest, we can’t see any tools so we start digging with our hands. The more we dig, the stronger we feel. Radiation is all around us. We try to take down a contaminated tree, but it is very difficult without tools. Our hands are not designed to break wood. I start to peel away at the layers of the skin of the tree; my own skinbegins to come off. My body cannot stop. The tree looks to be very old – but maybe when I get to the core, I can topple it easier.  It’s getting dark.  I am still unable to find the core of the tree. The metal endings of my fingers are gone, parts of my arms, screws and rivets are scattered on the ground. I now have more power then when I started, but my body is much weaker. I cannot stop, my body must work. The contaminated tree is still standing; all the others are still working around our sector. Some are digging trying to bury the nuclear fuel in the ground. Others, like me are trying to cut the trees. Without tools, we haven’t gone far. Everyone looks like they have also been losing parts. But our bodies are telling us to keep working. [Error: buffer full]

March 22. 19XX 6:00 The flesh begins to tear off. There is no blood anymore. It looks like the trees don’t have cores. They are all skin. I have been working on this tree all night and it looks like I am finally close. My arms are 15% operational. My feet are 80% operational. My body is destroying itself, but I cannot stop it. Only caretakers could stop it.

Annija Gaskell – degenerative myopia

Beautiful beryl, azure gifts from Poseidon,

Longingly looking in the other direction.

Wishing wanting those gems to ponder,

Gazingly grinning on my reflection.

Clear cerulean seas of serenity,

Gingerly glistening a love song melody

Harmonious hegemony over my soul

Endlessly engulfing in fiery rhapsody.

Stormy seas refusing safe passage,

Thunderously thrashing love’s timid advances.

Rejected ridicule deluging paradise,

Decidedly drowning Eros’ unrequited dances.

Scathing sapphire swells of contempt,

Daunghtingly displaying monstrous revolting pupils.

Grotesque greedy vacuous crypt,

Luridly loathing circumstance scruples.

Neo Garibay – Programmatic : Problematic

On the first day, of The Creation, there existed nothingness and space.  A space that stretched beyond perception, beyond limit, and beyond constraint.  That knew nothing of intelligence, nothing of object, and nothing of beauty.  No awareness of its potential nor any awareness of the one transverse being that inhabited the nothingness and space simultaneously.

This transverse being, aware of its presence relative to the void, of unawareness, held the power to bare into fruition things that the void could never birth alone.  To the transverse being, the void of unawareness symbolized a point in time and ultimately a starting point for The Creation: his own creation.  It was at this moment, in the beginning, that he sacrificed a part of himself to give to the void.

And so, the transverse being reached down to his own being, squeezing firmly, to begin the process of secretion.  And with each jolt and pursuant spasm he experienced that which the void lacked, beauty.  Soft and repetitious the swarm, gooey instrument of utility of form.  Foreseen ahead of warm, erect my chief to a form.  Complex networks lock and retract.  Erect my builder to a form.  Ferociously scratching and tearing out from his soul, freely from within and out with a form.  Spinning ribbons rejoice in the rejection and into the void.

Comprehension is not sequestered in privilege.

I look ahead to gaze into the light, into a solemn reflection of myself.  Intuition foretells of a threat and suddenly I see my solemn reflection transform into an agonizing fear and pain.  A shriek traverses space and penetrates my body with vibrations of screams echoing through voids in my body.   As the reflection begins to levitate away I come to understand that the reflection is not that of my own body, but that of another body like my own.  I become a witness to murder, as the high-pitched shriek emanating from the liken abruptly stops by the splitting of one living body into two dead parts.  Internal organs and fluids rain and dance for me as they crash onto the ground.  Performance through sacrifice.  A third apparition is created and almost immediately and savagely explodes for me sprinkling its black blood everywhere.  Revelation through process.

However beautifully reflective, the transverse being’s child was born a defect.  Deformed in  his own devastation, the transverse being took his shame, his first child, and created a second, a cloned child.  Taking the clone child in his hand he cut it in half and examined the innards, attempting to deliver his creation from imperfection.  Dissatisfied with the emptiness he witnessed within, he once again reached down onto his being and salivated beauty, a slick black goo, from a repetitious gesture.   But once again, beauty was not enough to remedy an empty void and an empty third child.   Sacrificing more of himself with each subsequent clone, he forged on, attempting to give life and meaning to that which had none.  Infinite in his diligence, the transverse being cloned his child repeatedly in a disassembly line of children and beauty.

Bijan Haghnegahdar – The Woods Walk

In the forest there’s a man. He doesn’t eat. He doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t even really look like a man, not that you can see him. No one can really, and if they could, they would opt to pass. It’s a bloody mess.  —

The cabin is something special around these parts. A getaway from things to get away from. The Cadillac sits nearby, patiently waiting on its master. What else could be more loyal?  —

The corners are coming in on themselves. Claustrophobia sets in again. Claustrophobia was always the case. Cozy.  —

It’s a great patch of land in the middle of a beautiful nowhere. Isolated. Alone. How much?  —

It’s cramped now. Hardly comfortable, but what does that matter now? Furniture everywhere, never where it should be. Tables are chairs. And chairs? Probably under the table.  —

Some would call it art. Reasons? Who needs them! Someone saw the opportunity. A silent order among the chaos of Sequoias. Think of it from a bird’s eye view. A cross between the trees.  —

The trucks came in. Uninvited. Crane’s made erect. Question: How many people does it take to disassemble a tree? Three. Two to cut and tie, a third to lift down portions of trunk. One at a time boys.  —

It’s a three hour drive away from the city. Nothing but backcountry. Roads no one has heard of. Cell phones are nothing but plastic bricks up here. Perfect.  —

Perfect! The phone has no signal. What a brilliant bloody idea! What a perfect way to die. Walden had it all wrong!  —

It would have passed seven in eight people. Too bad he wasn’t one of those people. Six standing trees. Four made a square. Two made an entrance into the square. I think I just found my primitive hut.  —

He woke that morning knowing something was wrong. Bad karma all around. No surprise then the door doesn’t open. No big deal, except it’s the only hole in this tomb.  —

It takes two weeks, but it happens. Give it some heavy carving and lifting. Placement. Child’s play with real toys. Look mommy, I built a log cabin.  —

Half a day in and the place is noticeably smaller. Seams of light are pouring in between logs. What a stupid idea. A simple cabin. No windows. No chimney. Just a battery operated light. A place to sleep. A place to stash food. Water. A place to hide.  —

Sequoia’s of all different sizes. Log cabins are made from the smaller, younger ones. The ones just thick and heavy enough to make walls. Steer clear of the larger ones. Too much cutting. Too much hassle.  —

Two days. It’s been two days. Judging from the size of the room, let’s say one more day. It’s always three. Always slow.  —

Trees mark the corners of the cabin. Giant verticals. Looking up, they might just go on forever. And the corners? They just stick out, waiting to be used.  —

How many times do trees find themselves in a position to exact revenge? Maybe once? Twice a millennia? It’s bound to happen, and when it does, who’s to blame the trees? Certainly not me.  —

Screaming has no effect. This is beyond the work of human hands. Hands without ears. Language is the first to go.  —

A busy week at the office. A suffocating city street. An apartment with windows that look in. Inside, a man who can only picture two words. Escape please.  —

Eyes touching one wall, back against the other. Between the cracks of his cage he sees the light, but no moon in sight. Not what he had in mind.  —

Pop go the walls. Yes, this has suddenly gotten much worse. Yes, the door still won’t open. No, this isn’t just thermal expansion. It’s too goddamn cold. Too goddamn late.  —

He always imagined a quick death, should it come early. A seven car pile up on slippery streets. A stress induced surprise attack, aimed straight at his heart. Stuff you never see coming, but secretly do. Stuff that moves you.  —

In a forest there are six trees. Between them lies a stacked cross of level trees that don’t look quite so arboreal. The branches and leaves are gone. The stumps are scattered nearby. Inside the cross lies another corpse, crushed, broken, bruised. It hardly matters now. Call it even.  —