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The Mere Tide

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  #181  
Old 01-15-2018, 03:33 PM
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("...no not even an audiobook, a text reader..." replied the goblin adding "...you know how often you come across a youtube stream and it's a machine reading the text there, they're quite good in fact, but because the text is not designed for the app, many glitches abound still, whereas if the author had the app in mind there would be none I imagine, and then hundreds more people would be wanting to be read to using it...", somehow it just seemed like the future of reading is this busy age)

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  #182  
Old 01-15-2018, 06:48 PM
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I gave a listen to a few and I really dont like them. I think the computerized monotone does a real disservice to the style and would do so to anything but a technical manual so I cant see myself using them. Maybe Ill try and find another way to reach a broader audience. Thanks for the suggestion though.
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  #183  
Old 01-15-2018, 06:52 PM
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I use VoiceDream to listen to my text spoken. Itís good for catching typos. Otherwise, like Blue says, itís flat and boring


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  #184  
Old 01-15-2018, 07:09 PM
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i didnt do it, except...

i dream, you dream, we all do --

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  #185  
Old 02-15-2018, 07:52 PM
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And we are back with a massive post so I think maybe no updates for two or so weeks? Aye? Aye. I didnt want to break it up because with the exception of the opening scene its a coherent whole without any break. I did manage to work up a decent sized buffer. Ive got a hundred page buffer now and we are up to page 70 thus far. I'm actually using size 6 font with an 8x11 page size



Dachni woke to a dryness she knew would not last. She threw off the duvet and seized when the fabric brushed her foot and it was this total shock of body that kept her from soiling the bed. She recovered limbmeal and when she had regained some tenuous control she rolled off the bed and searched for a place to pee. Nothing presented itself. And so what receptacles. A gold chalice and were it the ark of the covenant it would have made no difference. She hop rushed to it with the first drops beginning to leak and plopped down and let loose a long stream.

Awuuuh, she sighed in pained relief. And too soon and her cup overfloweth. She stoppered herself with a pinky and put the brimming cup aside and hopped like some bandylegged victim to an urn. She unlidded it and squatted and let out the scorching water. It made a splattering sound like the sound rain makes on mud. With the voiding of that worry a new concern disquieted her and she cast about the panoply of arcana for that artifact not inaugurated among their number. She stood still dripping and hopped to the bed holding up the flannel pajamas she did not remember donning. The bed was empty. She looked at the door and the door opened. It was the pilot.

Ye lefted! Dachni raged.

I made breakfast.

The pilot set two enormous gold patens on the bureau and lifted their lids. Good American breakfasts. Thick prime rib and full eggs. Grits. Porcelain cups filled with orange juice and spiked with vodka. Dachni couldnt see them through her anger. Couldnt hear the meat sizzling. Smell the oily aroma.

Quitted! Ye quitted!

The pilot smiled. She crossed the room and pulled up the child's pajamas and retied the drawstring and lifted her up and bobbed her and gave an affectionate lick along the underside of her jaw.

Uck, groaned Dachni wiping her face.

The pilot kissed her again. You need shoes.

And here is Dachni jouncing along in a truck huddled haybird shy against the passenger door. Verily lapped to it as though pressed upon by an invisible force and bleeding the while the last vestiges of a terrified huff. In the long ascent from the chamber her breakfast had gone untouched and she ravaged it now. Rupturing the yellow boil of the fetus and sopping up the goo with the grits and stripping the meat from the t-bone with her teeth.

You were hungry.

Her eyes darted wolfishly to the pilot. She occupied stately the majority of the cab. Her legs tucked under herself and her arms in her robes in the manner of the Chinese or in her manner.

Dachni shrunk further.

Its alright. Its a good thing.

Gowbs dat, she mouth round the soggy bolus of potato and beef.

Well, said the pilot taking the air and a brief manual control of the wheel, you starve yourself when youre upset.

Doesnt do it.

The pilot cracked her neck. Left. Right. She released the wheel and it stayed their course. Ok.

Dachni nibbled at the bone. A greasy ring of juice had formed around her mouth. She said: If ye soy sauce her good its eggs.

I see.

Ith kay.

She stopped her chamfering to dislodge gristle lipes from between incisors. Sliding a stained thumbnail between them and then reaching further back to unstuck meat wedged between molars. Tilting her head upwards mouth agape and performing quick rotary motions at the wrist.

Help?

Ohnt gih out, she muttered. Gout.

A front wheel dropped into a pothole about as she was saying gout and the mispronunciation yelped forth more mangled as her teeth clapped on her thumb.

Guhagammit, she cursed sucking at the little row of imprints in her skin.

This pickup was no pauper's transport. The sleek design fresh from the printers and the careful minds of aerodynamicists. At rest it could levitate up to ten feet and in motion had four feet of clearance. The interior was a picture of luxury. Tempered windows. Heated seats. A HUD display built into the windshield and cameras with proximity alarms. Everything that moved doing so with a grace bordering on arrogance. And backed by warranty even in this wicked age as Jason Coke of the Lighthouse Gazette dubbed it. Among other features it had passenger side airbags and when Dachni first touched her bony rump to the bonded leather the onboard AI had warned that airbags were a peril to small children and with Dachni's hurt and totter it advised she don a seatbelt and as after her initial recovery of its existence she hissed not dissimilarly from her hissing now: Fick ye stringey cock khist.

Parental controls being enabled the AI had the personality of a nanny and in the posh tone of such proceeded to chastise the child.

Language missy. Or Ill roll down the windows and you can have your breakfast cold. A woman's voice. Moral indignation sharp in the inflection. You could almost hear its heels click. It habited so far as was discernible a screen inset in a board of jewels polygonal not aglitter but aglow and so a location and so a personality and so an offense.

Kill that fuckin thing. How does ye kill it?

Did you pick her manners out of a pig trough?


The pilot chuckled a dark pluming mirth out her sides.

How can you find this funny? demanded the AI. Juvenile services will have a lifelong ward if she doesnt acquire at least a semblance of civility. Why the church wouldnt have her. And if she is to have any prospect, economic or marital or any at all then these egregious tendencies have to be curtailed.

Yull git last irvices ye keeps talkin.

Whoever heard of an AI obeyed a truculent. To elders and AI respect. That will take you the long way in life. And dont forget I control all functions of this vehicle. And to exhibit this power it twighted the wheel a sharp port then starboard but the pilot digging one talon into the rubber of the wheel countered that though the artificiality believed in its own autonomy yet it did nothing of its own accord for it was slaved to the drive which it did not choose and in any case could be overridden by button or word and that other than a few cases of self-driving cars inexplicably ramming themselves into trees or failing to brake at intersections it was the prevailing opinion of programmers systemwide that so limited a construct was incapable of discovering suicide.

The pilot leaned across the seats. Which is the key to it all.

Herghp, Dachni grunted. She looked at the AI but the AI had no retort. She stripped the last gelatinous fascia from the bone and stored it in the side panel pocket and licked the paten clean and stored it there too. She belched lowly and slowly unflattened from the door.

Dachni.

What?

Anaya reached behind the seats and fetched a water bottle and cloth. Hands out.

Dachni hid her hands behind her back. Fored what?

Youre a mess.

Irr the mess.

Heartbeat thy grubby feelers are slathered in the residue of cattle and fetus fowl and howevermuch their odor pleases tables they do indeed mark incivility elsewhere. Regard them.

Her fambles to regard. Slathered in myoglobin sheens and a barkdust of wet carbon. Tiny bits of grits like fly eggs and slivers of grime refuged under the blue tinted and rippled awnings of her nails. Appendages to whats? To gnarl perhaps with arthritis' aid into the roots of junipers. She wiped them in her hair.

Anaya laughed. Vaik. Ga goshga, megii. Come here. She uncapped the bottle and wet the rag and wrung it and the polysynthetic floor absorbed the spill into the vehicle's mechanical bladder that discharged then the waste onto the road. Dachni glared at the smooth dry floor. At her hands.

Aintint that dirty, she said.

Resent not what cant have pride. Those prideful have already learned. And who would they suspect broke them low?

A desolate guffaw croaked out the pilot that raised the dire horripilate out the child's pale scars. The pilot scooted near and took her hands and scrubbed the sear paste from her palms and between her fingers and nails with the altogether contradictory deliberateness of grief. Streams of dark water pooled on her fingerpads and broke into a charcoal rain. Steak juice was rinsed out the knotty tangles of her hair and her pale cheeks were daubed and for the soot it looked as though she wept the resin of the void.

All this Dachni endured in childish squirm murmuring guttural protestations but when Anaya had finished and moved to return to her side of the cab she found herself dragging the child with.

She smiled warmly and Dachni kneaded her forehead into her side, her eyes tight down. Is ye doned?

The pilot flicked her nose playfully. Doned. One more thing.

What?

Mouth open.

Why?

Anaya vexed her with a smile. Dachni with a mumbling growl of uncertainty and the pilot strummed her lips to make a long blubbery sound. She flinched back. Ey.

Hello heartbeat. Mouth open. Come on.

Her mandible creaked ajar. Instantly a talon was thrust through the gap and in a deft swipe pulled out again. Kekt aye, she sputtered. But there was a relief in her jaw and as she massaged her mouth she saw on the tip of the talon held before her the meat.

Better?

She nodded shivering in her outsized clothes, her threadbare skin. Maybis. The front of her shirt was a contorted mess for all the wrong mismatch of buttons to the wrong slits but it was so huge on her it made no difference. She played with it. Folding the placket back and twisting it up.

Are you cold?

Its pretted cold, she said suddenly hugging herself.

The pilot loosened her robes and opened them in a gesture of reception.

She looked in at the nest then at the pilot. Yer coldest all.

The pilot smiled and pressed a button marked by curling line rises on the dashboard and adjusted the vents as the recycled air was shunted out and blasted through the cab. Hot benediction of engine breath, warmed by twelve cylinder's gallop.

Its warm!

Aye, said the pilot. Better now?

Aye aye. Dachni warmed her hands in the jetstreams and marveled at numbness' yield to a burning in her fingers. Is reallied warm. She knelt on her good leg and bridged the dashboard with an arm and investigated the vent slits. Airs ta fire?

No fire.

Bellshit. Howta hell...she poked about, blinking against the dry desert gust. She closed the vent making of the slats lamellar visors and opened them again but there was no fire. She glanced back at the pilot and caught some sad infection in her repose.

Yer wronged?

Daily.

Not yer wronged. Yer...yer...whats wrong?

Nothing.

Dachni shoved off the dashboard into an almost graceful pivot on the ball of her heel and dropped to a knee and reached out and stopped. Like a child caught in theft. Her fingertips trembling in a space an inch from the pilot. They tightened almost into a fist but before they could withdraw long sickles curled round her arm and for a moment they were locked as if in greeting and then Anaya drew her caressingly towards the grotto of her robes. The child went warily and in fumbling lentor flipped into the nest of her lap and fussed at her robes until she had hid herself behind a halfdozen sashes.

Mm, she mumbled into the wool.

I know.

Mmm.

Night fell in through the windows and snow soundless but with a tone, a melody in its reticent and cambered trajectories of descent gloomed a without the headlights paled two bores in.

What heaventhroned elegist keeps the weathers? Who proves his muse? Who his awe? Has he the expressionist a manifest wherein he stores the tempest's wrath and the days of benevolent blue? How is he moved to rain? Is thunder the disturbance of a temper or lightning his shrive? He keeps his counsel he holds the tides and whispers through the balmy sweet secrets of their spume and elsewhere makes desolate the taiga with the cuckold's fears and dread the misted winter air of dawned portents at a windlass fair and is it more the grass blade or the locust he addresses or who is the Judas amongst birds birds that conspires to his end and who wiser to his wiles the mariner or the landsman?

The pilot struck a sulfur match and flame blued to yellow and she lit her her pipe and soon was exhaling out her operculum the smoke of myrrh. Dachni nestled sleepily. The glow from the instruments painting her the delft of blue like a sorrowful madonna. The lids to her eyes fluttered and her breathing shallowed but before the sopor the narcohypnia and would she awaken? And something waiting in the down below. Fetor lingered of a whatsit night hag orange of mine and Aryan eyes. Untrussed or a wrinkled hide save for a visage lecherous and butcherbrown nag paps. A dismal witch leaking magical cellulitis out a cloudy catheter and her mound puffed out by an enormous douche. Who would meet such a figure in dreams or out? Who sharpened her mudhooks with such avid intent.

Isses pretty farred ride.

Twenty minutes until we reach out destination, informed the AI.

Mute the AI, said the pilot. She looked at the child. Its going to be a little while yet. We cant go to Matraple.

Whos Matrapull? Whats Matrapull.

Its the town up from the lake.

Oh.

The pilot scritched her spine and she straightened halfalarmed and settled back.

Mm, she moaned discomfortedly.

Why did you do it?

What?

Why did you stab that girl?

Was ye knowed her?

I saw the spunky little brat atimes in town. Why did you
do it?

Never ded. Not far cause ta brung em to.

Why lie? Ive gived the wergild. Youre in the clear.

The what?

I paid them for the injury.

Dachni seized the pilot's scapular. Ye did leave!

Answering my door is leaving?

But ye lefted!

Its not far off.

Et tooked most an houred ta get down.

Not that long and besides theres a hole in all those floors and a rope.

A rope?

Youll need a ladder. No an elevator. Ill show you when we get back.

Aint goin back.

Dachni.

An it wasnt asked ta ya to do none of that.

The pilot massaged her scalp. Dont be muly. Twas your gratitude first won me. Dont destroy that. Dont efface that. Even in anger. Her hand slid down her face, lingering upon her lips, to the thready pulse quivering the shallow wem of her neck and traced it to those chambers she said were but brides.

And maybe thou art in doubt of your beauty but what star ever shone upon one glorious as you? Cosmic majesty is bluster and envy to your smile. Aye the planets would stumbled at your glance and turn themselves trinket to adorn your wrist. Jupiter his giant eye would wink and blush pole to pole at his forwardness and Mercury would forsake his near radiance as dull and scorn evermore the star's lashes and vie with his lusty neighbor for you attentions. Never go out at night, you would move the moon to woo. Roses will wither in despair to see how more worthy you are in spring blossoming and never cross the Pacific for the glistening spangled slivers of the surfaced sunlit sea shall stagnate when seeing drop the dew of your sorrow wistful under the gaze of tongue tied eternity. What rains on you rains vainly, what lash could mar the scarlet soul that aches Orion's heart? That worries the clouds booming before thee unrequested heralds. And youll be a saint a day kings pilgrim to. And every failed hope fulfilled and courage beyond childhood's imaginings, wilder than the first crowned prince's first caparisoned charger heady and snorting pride and tempered brave by fear endured and every hope you will fulfill whilst timshel shell whisper from beyond the sill.

Dachni looked up at her, mulling a fold in the robe. Ok.

Anaya laughed. Her laugh faded. Well then. Are you sorry?
No.
Did you wish she was dead?

Yes.

Well you severed her brachial plexus. She wont be tipping that stetson anytime soon.

Dachni wrapped her arms tight in the robes. Never meaned ye trouble.

I know.

Whats then ta hap?

I told you, nothing. Were you upset?

No.

Why then?

She kept...the child trailed off. She could find no reason. Could not recall her sense at the time. Or any sense. The scenes of that night, the night before still images. A procession of sequence as though through painted glass up unto the deity of wind.

Has ye ever seed Yandvilai. Seen him?

A sharp series of pains lanced across her breast for the involuntary twitch of a hand.

Ow, she said wincing an eye closed.

How said I to say that name? said the pilot.

Ye dont git ta dictate who lieves what.

Dictate.

Aye.

Where did you learn that word?

Dachni pulled at the pilot's thumb. From you.

The pilot lifted her talons to her chin. Touched the bridge of her nose.

Ye told it much.

Thats so. From whence comes the query?

Yandi? Has ye seen him?

No.

He was here.

What did you see?

He was a...a...they aint words towards it. But it was him. It was. Hes in the wind.

Far away sky and earth shimmered in sporadic gray achromaticity like a sterile sun doffing a mask. Dachni thought it lightning but feeble and thunderless. Meeker lightning never seen, gelded, and a mock of stars. A buzzing accompanied it. Not like the wasps she had heard, that raised blisters or rent the skin but not unlike them either and dislike them in its electrical byss. The dawn flickered. A hard gray that skipped over the horizon and in a few minutes landed sterile day upon them.

Es gotted kinder light, said Dachni.

The pilot smiled a sad smile. Tis a cold ash gray night and it isnt dawn.

Dachni snuffled and smushed her nose against the pilot to relieve an itch. Ifn tell tell right. Is lettely light. Toe never was no queerer sunbreak.

Tis a false dawn. Tis a satellite grid called Half-Night. This is its third test run. A delegation from Hokkaido was invited to observe the stress trials. These will be the new mornings and everything still over its shadow.

What?

Look out. Look out on the things that are made.

Dachni gathered the strength drowsiness had sapped and
holding to the pilot pulled herself up and searched out any falsity in the day. Scanning the terrain with its rags of snow and distant trees. But it was not there. And yet something unright in the leaden serge overhead.

Dont see it.

The horizon.

She pressed her face to the glass. Outside farms, orchards, wineries. Subtly illfit to their shapes like a dour mask. The road ruts. The fallen snow shining gray and fissile the gray of slate or the static radiation leaves on filmstrip. Farther out the perceptible brink of the world was shrouded in pluvial darkness. She shook her head.

Nothins diffint. Or not too diffint.

What direction is that?

She scratched her bow with her thumb and the hand turned up. Well, she said sagely. Its mornin an its light so thats gotta be east.

The horizon. Whats there. Whats of it?

Dachni located that thin meridian. Not far away and quivering and then where what masons of maya have mured the skysill with sable ramparts.

Its! Its!

Thats south. Thats south of us.

She looked east into the plumb of undawn. She searched for the source of this impostrous day but there was no point to deduce it from.

Whats wrong? What happened? Was the sun? Did it die? It died! It died dinnit it? It died!

Dachni scampered about the cab in her panicked digestion of revelations and puzzlements. Cycling back and forth on two limbs like the most maimed of dogs until Anaya intercepted her and fitted her into the cradle of her lap. She squirmed as if in agony and shouted but the sharp talons at breast and belly pawed her calm and she mustered a bravery against the gravity of such apocalypses.

Tis not the world end, said the pilot.

Then what? But real morning. Whens gonna real the morning?

Not for another two hours.

Thats nothin rights, she moaned.

Tis quite the crime.

Ifs not the end then what is?

Do you mean what is it?

She shook her head as though to clear the misreckoned phrases and resort the jumbula of words. Aye.

Tis order's immutable advance. Men save evil for times of evil. Or to put it plainly that which is suitable for the dark is endeavored in the dark. Ostensibly this experiment hopes to reduce that time in the hopes of reducing the perpetration. Nothing of the sort will happen, in fact quite the opposite which may well be their aim. Who knows who would benefit from the proliferation of lycanthropy.

The pilot's face sobered in the telling of these things. As if more than knowing what would come to pass had foreseen passes that would come. She looked down suddenly.

Hows your foot?

Its a turibil hurts.

The pilot cupped the injured foot and massaged it feathery through the bindings.

Ahead a riotous covey flowed across the road like a diarrehtic movement squealing wild otherworldly squeals. Stubsnouted ungulates with shitbrown flanks stenched of the slop trough.

Where did you want to go?

Away, Dachni spoke as softly, as sadly.

Where was away?

The grad.

The last of the swine crossed and the clutch sucked back ghostly on its own and the stick shifted into first and the truck pulled away.

The pilot felt the tip of each purple toe, applying pressure until the child winced.

Ill take you in the fall.

No.

You dont want to go anymore?

Dachni shook her head. She closed the robes round her face so that the v it form was based upon her lips. Gonna loned.

You want to be alone?

Dont wanna talk ta nobody.

Theres going to be about half a hundred million
somebodies to talk to in the grad.

No.

What then?

Dachni began to cry. Not you.

The pilot let her foot down and held her, rubbing her arm. Arent we all over that?

No. Nobody would. You wouldnt.

I have.

Ye werent nothin ta mad over.

Do you really believe that?

Dachni stifled her little sobs and wiped her eyes and buried herself in the robes.

Ive let it all go. What do you want me to say?

Dachni's lips parted in a snarl. You know what ye...what ye...

The truth is twas the barrenness of thy faith that betrayed me.

This dumbfounded the child. Wha-what?

The pilot said it again.

Hell does that mean?

The pilot sighed as though on the rim of tears and hugged her. Lets not talk of this now. I wanted this to be a good day for you.

Dachni wrestled to get free. Her eyes seamed tight. Its rottenest shit day.

Dont say that.

Wanna go away. Aint stayin.

You have to stay a little while. You cant go anywhere on that foot. And I said Id take you in the fall. You wont get there any faster and thats if you were to make it at all. Listen. Theres a bounty on your head for thirty thousand dollars.

Ye saided ye paid it.

For Emily. But what about your Ural girls?

Dachni's vision swam. She clapped the back of her skull and let out a loud moan. Jess go, she groaned. Jess go.

They went. Some minutes later a plower surfaced out of the dark. Sprinkling salt and sneezing hydraulic exhaust. Its angled blade spuming thick white waves onto the roadside banks. Ahead of it the edge of the light flickered across the terrain.

Is it gonna go? she muttered hatefully.

Very soon. The last time they had to abort over Astrakhan. Heinkel predicted this would be the first completely successful run but it seems theres some damaged bulbs.

The plower grew larger. The sprinkler whipped out its carousel of salt. The mudflaps white with splatters of brine.

Dachni lifted her chin. Whatta bout it? Is buddies kere?

Automated. Everything here is automated.

Means programs?

Aye.

Some miles up at a crossroads the plower turned right and they kept on the straight path. Dachni watched it lumber idiotically out of sight. She shut her eyes and scraped her cheek with her palm scabs and felt her ears. Newly bandaged, the incipient cicatrix painted with iodine. When she opened her eyes again the grid had shifted north and she could see as few on earth ever had so fast an advance on the ponderous and inscrutable dark.

Two more miles and the truck slowed at a bridge to allow sheep to cross. Wool cirrus shuffling along the sidewalk trotted along by a few dogs. Harried shepherds bringing up the rear. They had a strange gait as thought they werent used to their bodies. They clutched their crooks in trepidatious hail of this new order oversweeping all and while they watched the definable line of light shot past and in the inch wide hemorrhage of gray twilight the headlights flared on.

Peoples, Dachni gasped half ducking from sight. Is they
peoples?

Shepherds, said the pilot.

But peoples.

They might be machines too.

Programs aye? Would it be a think?

The pilot rolled down the window and the warmth of the
cab was quickly evacuated. Hello.

Allo, said the herdsmen.

Doan talk to em. Dachni hissed from under the robes.

What are you two? the pilot inquired.

Dachni peered out between the sashes. The shepherds looked at themselves. At their matched gray overcoats. They didnt know. They said it was the first interrogative ever they had been posed and all their lives a haze.

Non in utero, said the pilot.

The shepherds professed ignorance.

She smiled curiously. How long have you shepherded these flocks?

The taller shepherd, a man of gray stubble, and Roman physique looked to his flock. All my life, he said in the accent of the deaf.

How long has your life been?

He stared blankly.

Is that your voice?

My voice? he said touching his throat.

Well talk later, she said and rolled up the window. She ordered the AI onwards and it shifted into gear and pulled away. The road beyond the bridge wasnt pavement but a tousled clay a high cream color like beachsand and rimed corn formed its rails. Labarums flapped from the roadsigns.

Haupt, piped the child.

Chair?

Haup haup. Up! Ta see!

Ah. The pilot put her knees together and shifted the child upon them and drew in her legs and in so doing boosted the child to a better vantage.

Dachni held the doorsill and looked through the window but save for distant blooms shining through the heads of corn it was all dark.

Is that a see?

Its country. Its land.

Whats yor see? Does ye see anythin?

The pilot's head inclined low and left. Her irises shifting, widening as they drank in dark and flowed as though over contours.

Well? Sye seed saided. Said yer see.

I see rich dala. Loam long and fuscous.

Whats fuskus? Uscous?

A color brownish gray.

How can ye tell that?

Maybe I dont see it but I know its there.

What else?

You lither soul than me. Good chernozem.

Dachni pinched an eye closed. Say right. Quet sayan all that.

As thou wishes. What do I see? I see seeders sowing Calico and Schrieffer brands of winter wheat. I see their harvests and in them the flour sacks that will become the loaf and the pastry. Can you hear them?

Thats thuhs kinder thunder?

Aye. And those pale auras, canst thou see them?

Aye. Theys fuckin up the world.

And what way should the world be?

Not this way.

What way was it ever?

Dachni fumbled with her poet collar. She tucked her good
leg beneath her, forgetting she was aloft and her toes brushed the pilot's belly where it aught not and she jerked them away. Esset sposed sun fore mornin, she said quickly. Firstlies.

Are you still Catholic?

She fumbled with her buttons. Hassint churched, she confessed. It were a kindered le. About priesties bein old ta trip. Nevered priested an werdent no church.

I know.

Her fingers spasmed all discombobulated and she pushed herself an inch over the ledge of the pilot's knees and slid into her lap.

Well yer posed ta tellis ems.

True I am to do so.

Ye can say how ye wons. Yer times prettied kinder by yer voice.

Instantly her cheeks flushed and she covered her head in the robes.

The pilot pulled back the wool and laid a doting kiss upon her crown. Well. What do I see? Ist possible this see be any way other? Here is the truth. What I see cannot change but what I see in it is infinitely modifiable.

Essent that way now?

How should I know what I see? Should I say I see the logomaniacism of autodidactic sediment? Or the implausible sprent of possibility? Or a hyperdefined reality screeching down iron rails.

Dachni peeked out again. Ta what?

The pilot smiled and in a thespial outboard gaze appropriate to woe ignored her. I see crakes. I see sandgrouse and swans. Miracles watering at lakes glaciers didnt leave. Those are heated lakes. Look at them. They steam.

Caint see out.

But were she able she would seen it was indeed true, the illrounded pots did steam and there were likewise the birds alluded to.

They teem with fish. And what fear have they of drought? If these oases dry tis no matter for in their parched beds the eggs of catfish, soon pike and bream, can survive fifteen years. Beyond them aqueducts carry water. Pipes could carry it but you cant see pipes. The festooned arcades are like galleries and through them are offered windows to the hip of heaven and earth. What is lost is no longer lost forever and in their resurrection is the tacit acknowledgment of a folly and a willingness to rectify it.

In this man is become as a gardener. He sees what can be gardened and knows himself as such a thing. He steads himself. He esteems what is good. The childish indulgence in weakness flies. He recognizes himself in the things he cultivates. He knows it is from the loins of the leaf vein that bids his sprung heart face the sun. Aye when Gigphaii peered into the bark it was the warrior himself stared back. This humility towers over the narcissistic hedonism of youth. And gratitude born of knowledge that this reality decayed out of nothing. It is not meaningless because nothing could have become anything or that there are infinite possibilities realized in infinite realities and that these realities will in their time each return to nothing to become another anything. Meaning is in the beingness.

Reciprocity reigns. If I can hurt I can be hurt. Land has been set aside for the cultivation of medicinal herbs. It doesnt matter that altruism is not the sole motivating factor for their cultivation for even selfishness is born out of fear and a hope and a trust. Otherwise wherefore hospitals?

There are watermelons. Fat melons with fat bands like the reports of electrocardiograms. Rows of broccoli, carrots, fields of berries after their kind. Alfalfa. Deep green, a touch of waxy brightness to the leaves. Miles of sugarcane. Red leaved shaking in the early breeze like an army of spears preparing to sweep antiquity away. How many cups of tea will they sweeten? Besides I see tobacco, marijuana, poppy. Neighbors all to potatoes. I know with the ambiguous sense of disconcerted comfort that vice abides. But maybe those plats arent so big now. But then there are many other plats laid to fallow.

Alas the soul leaps perennial. Oh its a pleasure. They have plagued the vistas with roses. Flowerheads that could plug the bores of howitzers and maybe they have finally contrived a gaudy rose but what a delight of tulips and bonnet. In flowers Ive always seen hope. No matter what Ive said. The hope is in their beauty. The senseless beauty beautiful for its own sake. Strangest of all are pineapples. Blue bracted, hided oddly like ovoid formations of testudo. The ability to create that which has the power to bewilder the creator is the most precious gift of all. Man having achieved wonders not least of all because of its dreamers.

The pilot sighed deeply and sank into the seat. And yet in this exuberant lushness I see the eye critical of his jejunity, his sparseness, his absence. But not his sternness. Not the wild economy of his hurricanes. Not the prodigal waste, the viral concupiscent paroxysms of war. In desolation's amending to fitness for stock and staple there is indeed an indictment that the word was insufficient, that god was too affined to hell. Aye twas Lucifer was the favored angel gived reign of three quarts the world. But then what? What do I see? The meteorological mastery of the world is a spite of nature. I see the way astronomers see, telescoping the redshift, how the chemical reactions rewind through hubris, continual triumph's disease, resolve's rust into hope tempered in despair by the hundreds of millennia of merciless clawing of knowledge out reality's iron with bloody fingerbones and oft dug to through leagues of dead even to reach the iron and the naming preceded by the unspeakable horror, the sight, and always steeped unshod in endless folly and disgrace and the irresistible tendency towards oblivion that will seems powerless to overcome save that it is wedded to blind chance and charity and then back again inversely inverting in cycles epochs long to the singularity when the two great pillars of death and sentience slammed upon the shoulders of man and got its hook in the eye sockets and before even that the delicate lace of fossils through time to the first fragile bestowal of life.

Neither does this rework of surfaces or skies strike as a rejection of the chalice of the grace but rather a seizing of the mantle of the staff. Here is the salvage of a slaughter god. Man has despoilt the spirit of the dawn with orbiting sheets of lightbulbs. As if to say you are no longer the christener of the day. Men will say what is good but the announcement for all its pride is not malice to the core. Its to say we too are of nature. What hollows the atrium warps the sun wind. Were old enough now. You made us too in your image. Retire now among your star crowds and come a day when we are old and by our hearth nodding under the reading lamp you may decide to make our epigraph true: take these our ancient bones and again make us new.

Thass a lotta see.

Tis but to thee: Man hath assumed of god his brutal austerity. But not his immutability. And our enemies too have forged their deity. Or demon. A sickly decrepit titan of rust bleeding acid sap and slouching forth cold and fevery. These are the goliaths due to war, man gainst demon for rule of all.

A few minutes passed in silence.

Haupt, piped the child again.

Why dost thee fife?

The child didnt know. Or neologism distinct from the Germanic definition, germane to sick slumber. Far ahead bands of light were falling through the hard bars of trees and she pointed it out.

Es getted ta dawn again.

Nein, said the pilot shaking her head. Thats a logging camp.

And indeed workmen. Tranced, wallowing in the tsimmes, their sleek augments reflecting in the play and counterplay of lamps and carnival flares searing their shadows to the ground so that they appeared chiaroscuro harlequins or pixelated digita let loose upon the physical realms. Metal dretches shouldering timbers in teams and loading them into waiting flatbeds. Communicants supping horilka out of a jorum. A welder was cutting pipes to length with a plasma torch and the strings of sparks screamed out like tentacles nerved to a malfunctioning brain. As each pipe fell divided another would take them up and plier burrs offs the fresh ends. Skid cats hogged the road, their blared foghorns parting the shuffling clumps of laborers, their tracks roaching up all sign of their going and leaving fat sipes for wheels to rock and the massive floodlights mounted upon the rollbars boring caves in the dark. A heavy industrial reek polluted the air. Acrid and sweet and slightly intoxicating. The clearing with its havoc great root crowned stumps was like a junkyard for the the thrones of kings.

As they drove up a rangy sloomed hide bobcat accumbent on the roof an operating caterpillar and the moonshine of its eyes followed them with slight interest. Strings of oil drenched horses were being led down the road like sordid refugees and the branch of Sawyers who led them would not one survive the first skirmish of the coming war. Deep in this hurlyburly shined a mill like a chapel and the shrill scream of the saws hewed the night light an electric parish. Outside a tower yarder rose and crazed men, mast monkeys displaced in time, ascended in heavy gear and others sat fishing for hats with their tape measurers, letting the long yellow blades down with bobs and a hook at the end that would snag upon any unsecured headgear and then zip back up into their chrome cases.

Dachni the while was ducked away crying: Peoples! Theys peoples! And cursing the pilot as a traitorous sunuvabitch. Theyre folks!

Yes there are.

What if what if...

They dont know you.

The truck hovered along the shoulder for it had been decreed construction and salvage had right of way and the pilot noted the oddity of categorizing the industry of lumber as salvage.

Gotta git outta here.

Were going.

She tugged frantically at the pilot's sleeves. Leeeeve.

And so they did. Drove clear of the yard unto hills from which more distant hills were visible by the simple lamps hung from house flagpole or bracer. Wood huts with wattle and daub paddocks built into the slopes out which sounded a bleating confusion shepherds tried to repress.

Go back, seethed the child.

Were here.

Aldmost air?

Harter.

What?

Look.
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  #186  
Old 02-23-2018, 08:23 PM
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A dark quixotry of a town towards which the rising road wound. The HUD highlighted the outlines of the buildings a muted orange and as they entered the suburban purlieu on Amos Street it highlighted the streetlamps and the neighborhood mail drop and the trashcans, the headlights sliding along the curb and storm drains and spilling onto the picket fences and manicured lawns or courtyards of cinder or brick fitted with the high colored gates favored by the slavic race. Like small keeps. The motion sensors activating lights as they passed.

It is a fairly accurate indicator of a race the means in which it attempts to seal itself away from the outer world. The slavs constructing the most pregnable fortresses.

At the Morganstein residence they turned right. The lights were on but it is the matriarch who roams the empty rooms. Member of the wandering usurers who'd snuck her family out of Vels to seek asylum and who would be recycled a month after the official declaration of hostilities.

Dachni was tugging on the steering wheel, trying with all her strength to alter their course, the wimpish strata of muscles raising hardly even off the bone, but the AI had decoupled the wheel from the steering column and their course maintained and when Dachni could pull no more she scampered down into the legspace and covered her head.

At the intersection of Parker and Camera they stopped as the law obliged them and turned towards the center of town. Puddles of lamplight ambered the snow. They passed a gymnasium. The marquee outside announced news showings at seven. They passed an outdoor pool tarped over. An indoor pool. The splooshing of the dives audible from within. The lifeguard's whistle. There was the town school, a library of an annex on a side and fields for track or baseball on the other. Some balance of the athletic and scholarly arts. Farther on refugees like mangled refuse laxated out along the railtracks dividing town. A foul smelling line of the haggard and plastic wrapped competing to nauseate the downwind with the hoggy reek of Pruitt's swine slaughter across from the station house and the recycling center. Or gypsies. Gypsies unchanged from ten years old. Mater and filia equal in wisdom lack and depth of experience. The entirety of their umwelt accomplished in a decade all they would ever know. Everything else a more leathern copy of experiences already played out. The truck bounced over the hump tracks and went on. Tagged cows slept in a parking lot. They turned onto Kennedec and drove past a row of autoshops. Margilen and his crew were taking on the first order of the day, a dump truck in need of maintenance. The mechanic presented a blind salute that went unreturned and a fellow car flashed its headlights as it went past. Another turn and a quarter mile through residential districts and various recreation areas brought them to the town plaza. Center of commerce and religion. The small protestant affair across from the courthouse had a peninsula of beggary leantos and the kirkyard madonna stared down by no less than three establishments of vice and peeked out at by a fourth. They pulled up in front of the single lit storefront of a strip small and the pilot engaged the handbrake.

Were here.

No!

Verily we are.

The pilot extracted the key from the ignition and the engine hummed out waves dissipating waves in a borealis shimmer. She opened the door and stepped out.

Thell see.

Meaning shines forth. Thou wouldst not shine to them what thee shines to me. Nay thee would not shine at all.

Dachni got onto her fours and leaned towards her. Wanna go.

I cant afford to waste fuel. You can wait in the truck but that expends the credit of your image. It damages my conception of you.

Dachni turned her head sideways and looked out from between her arms. Ye lied! Ye lied!

Dachni.

Yer lied, she croaked.

Will you not come?

Git on then.

Anaya reached in and stroked her nape. Ill be back soon, she said. When she closed the door the truck deployed its landing gear and settled down as the engine sighed the last of its power. It raised the hairs of the skin. It smelled ionic. At the door the pilot turned back.

I bid thee stay, the way you bid a dog to stay.

Fuck you!

The pilot went up to the door and knocked twice and before any answer could come went in.

Dachni climbed out on the seat and stood in time to see the door of the little shop close. Through the lace curtains of the storefront she could see a weak lamplight intensify. A vast shape gliding away. In the reflection she could see stargazers in the plaza packing up. They stumbled loudly towards the street. Dachni turtled up with her arms over her head. Their chattering neared. Someone rapped on the window.

Hey! You in there.

Hey we heard fighting are you ok?

Fuck off!

One of the men gave a light backhand to his friend. What a prick, he said. They sauntered off. Their talk fading with the sole slaps of their shoes. They turned a corner and were gone but not this terror in the child's chest that had snagged in veins.

The shop light was brighter now. She gnawed her thumb and cast about for other insomniacs or early birds and saw a few and ransacked the truck for arms but there were none. When she opened the glove compartment two human skulls clattered out. Thick boned and to an adult and a child. She went back to the wheel and hollered.

Anayyyyya!

From the courthouse steps a drunk litigant added his own raspy mock tot he summons and an unlicensed citizen no less inebriated shouted from a second story window for the respect of the nocturnal tranquility and his own call prompted a dog to relay its own thoughts about the sanctity of silence and this ignited a whole chorus of dissent from alley mongrels and the litigant modulated his voice to a strained wrynecked gargling and windows were slamming up and voices from the dark within raging for the resumption of peace in a furious free for all of accusation and counter accusation and exploding glass bottles and a gunshot and now the litigant was chasing tomcats through the plaza offering representation at the rate of five pounds of kitty food an hour and an acquaintance yelled:

Youve been disbarred Julio! Go home Julio!

And the louder the yells of the townfolk the louder the bays of the mongrels and high pitched screech of cats and at last a clarion bell announced the commencement of mauds and a ribald chanty broke out concerning monks and how the second head is tonsured.

The driver side door opened and the confused and muted waif flung herself across the seats into the sweet cool scent of Anaya.

Wanna home, she cried.

The pilot took her under arms. Soon as were done.
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Old 03-07-2018, 07:16 PM
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Oh these days these days. Losin me marbles A 1982 British film I came across a couple months ago I would now recommend. Threads

The din was petering out fast as it started and by the time the pilot was ducking under the lintel it had ceased altogether into a tensive observation of the participants for any violation whereby it would all erupt again. As they crossed the threshold Dachni caught sight of a small silver box nailed to the doorstop with symbols of star and candle and citadel worked into the metal. Inside was a warm low lit den perfumed by a rich symphony of fabrics. A tailors. It felt a place of another time. Attire of various styles were displayed prominently on the wall and these lessened in formality the farther back you went into the store from the garb of the executive to the more utilitarian garments of the working classes. The register by the door had a big porcelain shoe by it for canes and beyond the double railed racks spaced across the floor was a drywall partition with a cutout for the thin proprietor behind to greet his customers.

When the doorchime rang he put aside the trousers he was darning and sat up. You never said she was so pretty, he said.

Geh ta hell! Dachni shrieked.

His lips pursed into a nervous grin. He folded the trousers and put his needled and thread upon them and touched his glasses low on his nose and pushed them back up again.

Shes shier than a kitten, said the pilot taking the cushioned chair for clients by the partition.

Shell grow out of that soon as the boys start getting cricks in their necks.

Dachni hid herself in the pilot's robes.

The tailor's desk had a sewing machine mounted underneath it and which by means of a lever would revolve up flush with the desk and lock into place. He pushed back from it and crossed his legs. That is the most unleavened child Ive ever seen. She should have baked a mite longer. How old is she?

Nine.

You say it like you dont know.

She doesnt know.

My niece is about her size and shes seven. He took a handkerchief out of his front shirt pocket and daubed his dry brow and put it back. I was expecting an aienee. I didnt know you all adopted.

The pilot made a slicing motion across her neck. Dont worry about it.

Im not. Makes my job easier. I didnt know if Id have to invent a new style.

Well you dont.

Those eyes are...

What about them?

The tailor scratched his curls. You could get her contacts.

That would be a lie.

I guess you could say its a kind of deception. He threw his head back to glance at a percolator. Do you want some coffee?

No.

Tea?

No.

Ok. No refreshments. Then lets get started. He he cupped the top of his fist and put his elbows on his knees. Hello, he said. Im Morganstein but friends call me Aaron. He clawed within range of his customers on the heels of his monks and extended a hand and Dachni leaned out of the robes and fastened her teeth to it.

Gah, he cried.

He kicked back. The child's teeth were dug in behind the proximal phalanxes and it looked like she was plucked backwards out of the encompassing arms. She had his wrist in her hands and she was threshing now savagely and he raised his hand to cut off her air but the pilot blocked him with her great corpus and levered her jaw down.

The tailor fell back into his seat.

Dammit. You little bitch.

He fell back into a heat press machine and scraped
alongside it and knocked over an ironing board and the heavy iron left a dent in the hardwood.

Theres an actor's flair.

This isnt histrionics. Look at this. He held out his hand. The skin was like crumpled wrapping paper. The base knuckles of his index and middle finger had been drawn out. He wiped away the blood and wiped away the blood and wiped away the blood and so pictured the wound. My job. My job.

Youre fine.

He made a wild gesture and blood flung up to the ceiling. Goddammit. You have to go somewhere else. I cant work. Im done.

Youve been paid.

Ill give it back.

The pilot had become grave. The jew does not refund.

Ill give it back.

Between them stood the child and she put her fist athwart
his knee and scampered back to cower behind the slender trunk of the pilot's leg. A hand reached down to stay in her to a place.

She doesnt know any better.

I dont care.

Calm jew. Clean your hurt. Come back. Well start afresh.

Get out.

Do you want to be drafted? Do you want Miriam drafted? Or David? Clean your hurt and come back.

Aaron glared at her. A succession of distortions morphed his face that finally settled into an acrid resignation. He ransacked his desk for a tiny first aid kit and checked its contents and hurried to the restroom holding the wound high to keep blood from getting on the floor. He depressed the doorlatch with his elbow and went inside.

Dachni felt a tap on her head. She looked up.


Will you behave?

Lets get outta here.

Hes going to fit you for clothes.

Done has clothes.

Rags pigs would be ashamed of.

Howsit your care?

Because I care about you. Now let this be. Ill have the jew take your measurements and as soon as hes done well go back. Promise.

Ye promise?

I do. Of course I do.

Dachni played the cool cashmere through her fingers. She pressed it to her lips. Ok.

For ten minutes there was a continual mutter and run of water from the restroom and then the tailor emerged. His wound was bound. He resumed his seat and surveyed his desk and straightened a column of bobbins and put in place a clear plastic cup of threading needles. He held up a bloodsoaked scroll of parchment about the size of a cigarette and pressed it to his forehead and then crumpled it and threw it in the wastebin. Then he got it out again and unrolled it to study and then threw it back again. Finally he looked at his customers. A remark was on his tongue but it went uncombed by his breath and the pilot gave her compliments that truly he was an heir of Solomon. And it was vanity those words. He rankled his curls and took a deep breath and settled into the mode of his trade.

Shes fifty one inches.

Shes taller than that.

Shes not.

She has scoliosis. You see how her shoulders dont rest
evenly? How her ribs bulge slightly out. When I straighten her shell be taller.

Ok. Her arms are...

Take her measurements.

I can tell from looking.

Do it because I told you to.

Do you have a muzzle?

The pilot bared her own fangs in a vicious smile. Do I have one?

He grunted angrily, swaying in his seat. He undid his bandage. Ill need a new profession. Im right handed. I cant thread a needle with this.

Youll live. And if its so bad get an augment. Youre being paid enough.

I aught to be paid more.

You have what you have.

You didnt tell me who she was.

I told you what she was. Now nay to haggling. Repress thy nature and preserve your soul.

The tailor pursed a disgusted frown and pointed at a stool. Stand her there.

It was under a table on which were stacked fat bolts of the cloth of every color. The pilot hooked it out and stood the child on it.

The tailor rose, swiping a tape measurer from the desk, and unspooled it.

Straight thee as the way, said the pilot pressing her hands to the child's breast and back.

Dachni cowered before the tailor's approach but a prickling in her sides mustered her courage. Ye keepted a fuck away ye gluttied cunt.

Aaron hesitated. He looked at the pilot as if for an assurance of safety.

Prove it Aaron.

He exhaled in resolution through his bared teeth and knelt. Ok miss...

Gillespie.

Gillespie. Can you stand up straight for me?

Anaya jostled her. Its ok.

Dachni's face twisted up in a cry. Her arms flapped up and
down in frustration. Dont wanna. Dont wanna.

Anaya crouched and held her arms by her sides. You know if you hadnt put up a fight we'd already be done.

She moaned mournfully.

Go on, she told Aaron. Its as tame as shes going to get.

He worked quickly. He noosed the tape around her neck and wrapped it around her chest and then her waist. When he measured the seat of her pants she slapped him and the pilot bid him be cautious and he held the tape back four inches and sighted it and then he measured the width of her shoulders and the length of her arms and her inseam with delicacy.

Ok, he said at last rolling up the tape. Painless as it could have gone.

All done Dachni. Its alright.

Dachni swung round and blotted the pilot's stopa with her tears.

Go home.

Nein, nows the fun part.

Noes fuckin fun. Less go. Ye said of promise ta gao.

Anaya pushed her a little back to look into her face. Thus
shall winter soon thaw into the lively prance of spring and summer will sprawl over us lazy as butterflies, fall shalt wither all and then old winter. We aught dress for every season and so those pelts on the walls. Pick whatever you want.

Ir fuckin crazy.

Verily I must be.

Nothins there of want.

You cant wear my clothes for the rest of your life.

Take em back.

Dachni pulled at her outsized sweater but the pilot
stopped her.

Heartbeat dont. Dont. Its ok.

Miss Dachni, said the tailor.

Alessa, hissed the pilot blackly.

He looked at her in confusion. Then he ceased to ponder it, wise jew he was. Alessa. Im sorry. I can make anything in any style you fancy. I can do military jackets, car coats, jersey capes, dresses, skirts, sweaters ribbed or graduated or blended. I can make a miniature three piece suit. Tell me what you want, Ill make it. He gestured at coat jackets hung on the wall explaining the various differences. Her eyes drifted to the back where enormous pelts of every beast of the region were tacked.

Water those?

Aaron stepped back groping for his seat and took it and swiveled round.

Furs.

Aht.

Anaya followed the child's gaze to a pelt of lupus. Heavy glossed and dark gray with auburn taints and channels of black.

Tai.

That one.

Do you know what kind of style you want?

Coat? wondered the pilot. Coat? No. Parka. Satin inlining. Fox fur collar. Water proof. Make it eighty inches.

Do you expect her to split into triplets?

I expect she will grow.

Aaron regarded the child, trying to abstract the waif into a
taller version. It wont happen.

I dont see you having my business if you dont.

Aaron got his coffee. Before he could drink he coughed
and it sputtered over the rim and he set it down and wiped it with a finger.

Alright.

Go now, said Dachni.

Anaya caressed her breast. Not now. You need more than a parka. See those racks over there? Go pick out a wardrobe.

A what?

Pick out clothes, as many as you want.

Dont want any.

Anaya smiled fondly. Even out her serpent eyes bluer beneath the water. No diva she. Go heartbeat. No choice in the matter. She turned her gently around and cast her off towards the racks at the back of the store. Go go go go little one.

Dachni gimped towards the racks at the back of the store as though under sentence of exile. Halfway she turned back and grabbed the pilot and tugged until she went along.

The racks hung children's clothes assorted by article. Mothworn, torn. Shirts with the emblems of superheroes or rock bands. Cynical axioms blazoned on their fronts, the jaded slogans of teendom. Or else pure nihilism. Decrying the phoniness of life. Anaya chuckled.

Whats funny?

You are.

Thats the boys section, said Aaron.

Shell get what she likes. What do you like?

No conception had Dachni.

Whatever you pick well have to make sure it fits.

If thats the case, said Aaron, it might a bit much but the toddlers section is back there.

Shes not that skinny, said the pilot. But as they tried on the clothes there was no garment not outsized on her. Youll need a belt thats all. Drawstrings.

She went to go get them. Dachni fetched a pair of jeans from its hangar and shimmied out of her pants and tried it on. She couldnt do it standing. She sat and lifted her legs like one about to give birth and fed her legs through in. The leggings were like windsocks on her. She hobbled up to her feet and thumbed out the waistband and there was a gap about a foot wide.

Anaya came back holding a selection of belts through the buckle.

Are those belts?

If theyre not Ive done it wrong all my life.

Dachni reached out to take a belt and the pants dropped around her ankles and she was naked from the waist.

Anaya's head hung in mirth. You are a wonder.

She grabbed a fistful of pants and pulled them back up
and got one of the belts and figured it through the loops.

Anaya crouched and put a talon to her shin. Well have to shorten them about that much.

Ok.

They filled three bags full of clothes. And it was mostly her giving tacit approval to garments Anaya asked if she liked. When they finished moving through the floor they went back to the partition.

How much is this all ta cost?

Aaron was fingering back the beads of his abacus.

It is no joy to a jew to discount his wares thus does he forfeit all hopes of clemency. The rebate being the beginnings of mercy.

Essented no cheaper? Owed pays for it? Hows ta pay for
it?

Ill pay for it.

Dachni stared at the bags. Ye caint do that.

Of course I can.

Aints yours ta do.

I provide credit, said Aaron looking up from his calculations.

Tame thy avarice.

Whats credit?

Nothing you need concern yourself over.

It sounds as does.

Credit is a loan. You purchase now and pay in increments over an agreed upon time.

Shell not need that.

Dachni clutched one of the bags. Will pay it. Does have
gold putted ways.

Im paying, said the pilot. And you. You are upon a wire.
Never speak to her of money again.

Aaron said nothing. He pulled a bag near and took out the
clothes and continued totaling the price. When he had tallied all
he wrote out the bill of goods. The total read in pencil $17017.08.

Youre shitting me.

The jew put up his abacus. Were in war scarcity. Everything is being requisitioned by the army. All my orders are for the army. Uniforms. Boots. I cant get leather, I cant get cotton or jute or flax or hemp or anything. My suppliers have empty warehouses. The trappers wont even sell anymore. What am I supposed to do? I have a family.

War your excuse?

I dont set the prices. Broadcloth is fifteen dollars a yard.

Most of this is already secondhand.

I find a lump of gold in the river when its thirteen hundred an ounce. Do I sell it a year later for the original price when the current price is seventeen hundred? I have to make a living.

Tallying never furrowed the brow of a jew so long as he was being paid. See how greed's challenge sweats him.

I cant part with it for anything less. Everyone knows the cost of cotton. I have to buy by the kilo.

As I recall these were donations for survivors of last year's war. The war you fled. This business you fell into, the house you squat in.

I dont squat.

Its not your house.

There was no one there.

Thats because he was shot. Im telling you this as a favor.
If you try to extort people theyll run you out if youre lucky.

I cant give you prewar prices.

Were not at war yet.

We might as well be.

Anaya stood. Ill tell you what, she said moving the chair
aside. Im not above taking all of this without laying down a dime.

Aaron watched her warily. He looked at the receipt. Ill go to the law, he said to the piece of paper.

The pilot gathered up the child and put her in one of the bags like a kitten and then gathered the bags. Go to him. Go to god if you think it would help.

She turned to go. As she passed the shoe she sorted out a cane and gave it to the child.

Look at you, she said. Old and old.
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  #188  
Old 03-07-2018, 07:55 PM
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Do you know or does the story give away any of Dachni's dreams?
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  #189  
Old 03-09-2018, 07:29 PM
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Oh yes there are many dreams so far and dreams to come. In fact there was one not too many posts ago:

Cold wombed her in the sleep that followed. A rudimentary awareness tenuously limned as perhaps squid possess in the egg clutch. A brief gestalt presence before the horror disseminates into the abyss. In this unvectored matrix a feeling of compression as the downwash of a bird. A voice spoke. Hardly more than a murmur or from far away. All at once that porous cognizance contracted into a locus of aesthesia extreme. A singularity of sensation that fragmented into a thousand clarities of pain and yet no architecture wherein they could manifest. As though each agony were noumenal. The voice came louder. Coordinates in this plane of chaos decayed of their erratic wanderings into an aggregate, mud as became as rock and rock as became as bone of a pedocidal curse unto the revolt of meatless phalanges out a yolk of mud and followed ulnar, followed scapulae like a knife, clavicle swinging hingeless, grangrel ribs grimacing, a hollow skull rearing sidelong in a wordless howl and fixed to a writhen spine, all dissected incomplete, the stones still with terrible velocity spalding the dread skeleton even as it was made. It stood in a sooty globular pour of rain slanted in a windless valley and the sludge at its feet sleeched up the bladed shins and became as muscle and sinew and the horror clawed at this terrible bemeating but it was tide like all tides and now eyes bubbled in the sockets and she gouged them, the opal jelly tearing down her maxilla, enameling her teeth, assuming into the creep of her fleshing-for the pilot would say that sure as thou art to die thou art to be born-and mud seeped between her joints and became as cartilage and her eyes blossomed again and the muscle slithered out of her ribs and fused into a tongue and she strangled the chords of her voice that let her cry and that ground that had vomited her surged through her and she unthreaded these veins so that they hung by the bolt flaccid in her halfmade hands like the spew of a loom.
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  #190  
Old 03-17-2018, 09:19 PM
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They drove back in the cracking of the dawn. The day's yolk seeping color into the world which was all as the pilot had told. The child hugged the bag in her lap. She stared at the paper. Seeing the quadratic formulation of its fabricature.

Well hey today wasnt so bad was it?

They stopped outside the cathedral gates and the pilot helped the child out and then the truck drove off to park itself in the car port. She showed her the rudiments of cane use and Dachni hobbled a three legged ancient ill of gait. She made it to her room after a long struggle and when she opened the door her room was ordered again. Her bed made, the books replaced. Dachni set on the bed. Anaya came in a moment later with the bags and began to put the clothes in the chesterdrawer. Filling only the lower drawers that she could reach. When she was done she came and sat by her on the bed and looked out the colored window.

In my library I have a collection of novels. Its a beautiful tome. The lettering is of gold gilt, so too the foredges. The endpapers have a swirled pastel marbling and its jacketed in a tan bonded leather with three ribs to the spine. There is a scuff and I hate that. And yet on page 579, among other pages, it reads: To have gone to both and them home would have entailed a sixty-mile horseback ride. Its plain what the typesetter thought he saw. To have gone to both of them and then home and yet its there. The editor must have thought the same too. If ever it should be that I am commissioned to do another run of that collection I would keep the error. I glory in that imperfection.

She bent down and kissed her and went out.

۝

Two weeks then of days alike in panther black or auteur orb starting constellations of motes on sunbeams. Her sleepless hours sweat wracked abed parceling out the theoretical perdurantism of night, the tribal combat of dark against light, each decaying to the others recede as if a curse to be flown from. Eventually to succumb to a rank rest would last till lousy morrows, to scamper frantic to the bathroom and back her head lifting pained out of the toilet bowl, her unkempt lock ends dripping a citrus colored bile. Or else to wander the corridors lethargic, inevitably to be intercepted by the stealthy giant also prone to after hour serenades thereof to be born to the altar for drinks.

Once the pilot presented a silky brown beverage floating soft black clumps. Dachni poked them into dissolution with a spoon and with no small suspicion and deadly gravity asked: Ded ye poop in this?

Anaya cackled grandly. Its chocolate Dachni. Its sweet youll like it.

But Dachni narrowed a distrustful eye. That werent the question.

Even so she found herself the beneficent of a cautious dotage that knew too well the delicate balance on which such truces rested. That changed her sheets, that brought offerings of tobacco and fortified brew that prevented her contraction of scurvy. Who sang myriologues and cooked meals of which through claims of dysphagia she would manage to partake only a few morsels of.

The pilot weighed her and truth she lost no weight yet in her drare diurnal ventures from the dorter it was as a frail retardate shambling sullenly as if out of Orcus where aught she might have been of wont to remain. Staged late in emaciation as though undergoing a ritual of minishment. Bones razarous under the lunar translucency of her hide and her whiteless eyes huge and blank in their sockets. And reducto absurdem would she regress yonder infancy and in a final fading assume the shadow ambiance of the halls? For it is so men may also become the shadows of shades.

One night to emerge out of a groggy fugue. She blinked at the ceiling and spread her arms on the bed and clasped its sides. Then threw off the blankets and groped for her cane and finding it looked about and hobbled out.

The other dorters were empty. The library. The refectory. She retraced her route, looking into the bathroom, the nave. The flame in the lantern seemed a silhouette rapt in ponder and the crucifix below it creaked as it turned heavily in the air. Subordination to a foreign deity in his own repurposed house. She returned to her room and got the lantern for to light those back end corridors she loathed to traverse. Where the echo seemed to escape through false walls and where the barriers between vales did thin. Hear now distantly a gramophone rife with static. Violent violin sawed by an arthritic and can the bone warp be told in the chaos of the chords? No signs to tell where she went. There were rooms. Some empty. Some with piping jutting from the concrete. Others locked. A scratching at boards stopped her and she knocked and those were nails on wood.

Whos there?

Something like a caterwaul's death croak answered.

Who is she? Is it her? Is it really her?

The something pounded on the doors. The child peered through a slit in the boards. To see a shadow move in anguish. Say who, she hissed. Say who.

Perhaps the thing within had no tongue. It could not say and the child went on. At the stairway she raised high her lamp to give reach the light a few more inches into the puzzle below where paths multiply. Down these stairs. Would that she could debride the cathedral to find what heathen stepgod festered below and is it he who has laid the roads of time? She caned gingerly down, lowering the lantern a few steps ahead at a time and then easing down herself. At the bottom she spared a fretful glance to the light above but then she spat and cursed god and marshaled on. The first she was come to was an undercroft stacked with casks. Puncheons out of what cooperage. She tried a tap and sour black amber whiskey poured out and she wished all journeys were so rewarded. She drank up her courage and then drank away her senses and stumbled out. Her lantern multiplied as did her new spawned arms and their lights accordioned in and out of the article like a shadow that lost no detail in its duplication. Somewhere a mourner puled. A scaled hexapod skittered across her roof and regarded her broadwise with its torso oculars and the lids closed and opened as it breathe in sequence and then the headless thing slipped into a wall crack, its beneedled tail flattening and sucking into its body to fit. The involucrum of dark bayed by her light. Farther down it began to snow. Snow coming from a lunarium in the ceiling. She found the second stairwell. Or a stairwell like it. At the these depths it grew humid. A swelter reeking of humus blown in from existence strictly ordinate. Flowerfied wax vining upwards budding a thick foliage of wicks that blossomed with light. She broke off a branch and it was smooth in her hand and left an oily feel. Plashing rebated by soil walls but the puddles investigated rippled not. Ahead the tunnel flared into a chamber a pair squared acres sowed with an obelisk flora. Groping charmel. Rigid, upright, bearing a sentient fruit that rattled a shivaree with its chitin casing as she passed. And in so doing scared off bugs of another earth to be chumbled by leathery insectivores whose drool succored the fruit.

At the far end of the chamber was an exit and this she took. Antepaste of misventures future bound this corridor. Stepgod to this heathen. A shallow flow of water rising out of a seep and flowing on. At the next turn she found herself in a channel freshly painted. She put her back against the far wall and gave the painting a study.

It was the battle of Oreck'u'kii. When forty nine thousand airships disrupted the magenta heavens. High cloudbanks, mesas of cumulus and the archipelagic cirrus higher yet and far below the occluded front. The scene was well advance from that opening salvo first delivered from a range of a hundred and thirty two miles that devastated the skirmish lines before degrading twenty seconds later into a dogfight.

The airspace depicted was so crowded she could count no less than eight collisions. Four Gorecki class carriers dueling five Barrazgez. Aerial leviathans clouds themselves and their crazed rain duelists streaking at every vector, their passes like medieval jousts, some popping in and out of actual reality, reducing their probability of existence so low that missiles streaked through them without harm. They speak of a momentary blankness, the pilots. The theological portents of that nonexistence not lost on them, no not on them. Bombers approached in such a state and would they for too long remain would blink into nothingness never to return. Gunships blazed through the murk, their shields shining, their guns pissing great steams of tungsten that tore through tungsten and here was the grand gunner Coraskii in his crimson corvette having just cleared the smoke plume of his nemesis Gabios, never to see him in person, on his deathbed citing it his greatest regret, That dubious charlatan let fly his soul.

Thirties of thousands of missiles hounded exactly each soul of the shrieking craft, their contrails intersticed by tracers, by hot beams of plasma turning the overcast to steam, flashes of laser and flak burst. Missiles in swarms rendered in such detail you could read the serial numbers, see the galena's transit into and out of the masks of terror. Aircraft of divers designs, hyper specialized wings, a different manufacturer for almost every formation. Shock collared planforms, canards, sweep wings and scramjets. Ships exploding in glimmers of fire and downed ships falling, venting coiffured smoke, or barrel rolling through the alchemical convoke of flak burst, some shalki pilot, his canopy shattered banging on the side of his airframe and two ejected belligerents from opposite factions exchanging fire with their sidearms still strapped to their seats. And this battle only a prelude to the contest of land to occur scarcely an hour later.
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  #191  
Old 03-23-2018, 09:25 PM
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She went back up. On the following oragious night restless abed her door was rapped upon. Her blankets were drawn up to her chin and she was staring at the thrown shapes drawn on her ceiling.

Is it you?

It is not.

Waters your want?

Id like to spend some time with you.

She pulled the blankets a little higher, a little tighter. No.
Fur what? Tires day anyhow. Essed fer sleep.

Youre not sleeping.

Was saved to it but another second fore ye knocked.

She arched up and looked to see the door. A thin bar of light shone under the door interrupted by two spaces of darkness.

I have some whiskey.

Dachni fitted her lips to her thumb. What kinedes whiskey?

They sat up side by side in bed passing the bottle between them.

Is your foot feeling better?

Its a bitch hurt.

Anaya stretched down the bed and tickled a toe.

Ow.

That didnt hurt.

It coulda hurt.

Anaya smiled. Im glad youre here. Did I say that before?

Aye.

Well its worth saying again.

Ok.

The pilot got out of her robes a long carved pipe and tobacco and a box of matches. Do you know to work the pipe?

Know?

Ill show you. First you

That doesnt hurt.

It coulda hurt.

Anaya smiled. Im glad youre here. Did I say that before?

Yes.

Well its worth saying again.

Would you like some tobacco?

Ok.

The pilot got out of her robes a long carved pipe. Do you know how to do it?

Know?

Ill show you. First you take the tobacco and you pack it into the bowl, pressing it down and then adding more. Then you light the bowl. Puff a few times. See?

The pilot was drawing on the stem and she was beginning to smoke from the inside out.

Sees.

Do you want me to unpack it so you can try?

No.

Here.

Dachni took the pipe and drew a long breath. A silky warmth filled her lungs, tender in its flowing. She was suddenly sleepy. Whats that smell?

Its red cherry.

Is nice.

The pilot laughed softly. Look at you. A cane and a pipe. You are old. Ill want to get a picture of you.

Outside the clouds were pronouncing their titanic syllables and tremble did the cathedral.

Dachni looked alarmed. Issint old old.

No. You are an angel.

Dont say that.

Why not?

Dachni held the pipe gingerly. The bowl glowed a moment then a puff of smoke exhaled out.

Youll kill the fire that way.

The pilot took the pipe and sucked at the stem a few times but the flame had gone out and she got another match and rekindled the pipe, stoking it back up.

Sorry.

Its ok. If its the worst that happens to us today we aught be grateful.

Ok.

The pilot perked suddenly. Oh I have something for you.

No.

But I do.

Dachni covered her face. Quet that. Ye caint be givin all of stuff.

Its not mine, its yours.

No it aint.

Anaya swung her legs off the side of the bed and went to
the door and reached around it and brought out her mosin-nagant.

That aint yours!

She laughed. No its not, she said sitting back down on the bed. She laid the rifle across their laps. I ordered a new firing pin.

Whats a firing pin?

Its the long piece of metal you sheathe in the spring. Has a blunted end.

Aye.

Thats a firing pin.

When? Wenned ye get it?

When I did.

That aint a say.

No I suppose not.

Dachni regarded the rifle. Sole friend on lonely nights. A scratchy film of close set specks of rust had formed over the bolt and sights like embedded sand and the varnish had worn down in patches and the arctic birch scraped a raw pale cream.

Its seen some days, said Anaya feeling along the stock. She touched the serial number on the bolt. AK5149. It was produced at Izhevsk in 1940. Its 2606 now. Can you imagine what its seen?

All bad things.

Anaya conceded this. But the journey of it. And the destination. How many have shouldered this arm? How many lives has it saved? How many ended? See its no Theseus. The serial matches on the barrel, the floorplate, the bolt and the buttplate.

This aint got no butt.

Anaya slapped the stock end. Its called the buttplate.
Trust me.

Not on that.

Well ask around.

Aint gonna go askin round on butt plates.

Then youll just have to take my wooord, Anaya sang.

Shit, said Dachni bashfully. She took a long swig from the whiskey. Her cheeks were flushed, her forehead hot and she was very tired.

Will ye what else on the rifle? What kinded rifle is it? They come with names ifn ye doan know. Theys a sluggy green shiner call can slash folk as it were knife.

That could be a number of guns.

Its shoots high fastest. Et goes werpwerpwerpwerp.

Thats the sound.

Well it aint sounded exacted as but its summerthin like it.

Anaya chuckled softly and kissed the child on her headtop.

But tell on this.

This is a mosin-nagant. Its a Russian design. They mass produced these things. This probably killed a couple Germans. It probably had a hundred owners. You see the electropenciling on the side of the receiver. This was imported to C'Ville, Illinois. Its been to its enemies and back. Whoever the owner was must have had a luster for it. Theres maintenance but I dont see any refurbishing.

Mebbe it werent used all that much.

Its seen sights.

Hm.

Where did you get it?

Dachni lifted the rifle and laid it lengthwise along the bed. Its a pretted tire day. Marent es fer sleep.

Alright.

Hassint slept. Is pretted tire.

Well. Ill get some sandpaper and we can sand it down and give it a new finish. How does that sound?

It sounds.

Listen. Before you go to bed.

What?

Hows your foot?

Its hally better. Wouldna thought itd eel so fast but its better.

And how are you?

The pipe fell from Dachni's fingers. Her lip quivered and then all at once she threw her arms around the pilot. Its been horrible, she bawled.

The pilot pulled her tight. Hush you. Its going to be bad for a long while but youll get better but youll survive this. You already have. And tomorrow will be better.

No it wont.

And it will. Thats what we say. Tomorrow will be better. Say it.

Et wont.

Yes it will. Say it. Say it.

She mumbled something.

What?

Morral be better.

Say it again.

Ettel better.

It will.

An dont wanna stay.

Whats in the grad?

Nothin.

Do you still want to go?

She shook her head.

Do you want to go somewhere else?

Wanna go nowhere.

Well.


Well ye be quiet.

The pilot nodded. She wrapped a talon in a fold of her stopa and daubed her tears and rose and found the child clinging to her. Her face was hidden in the blankets. The pilot said nothing. She undressed and lifted the blankets and slid in and turned down the lamp until it was a beacon in all the dark that was like the first spark of creation casting the shade of all that would be.
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  #192  
Old 03-27-2018, 10:18 PM
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April arrived with the mystery of the tube. New addition to her wall. Seated in an aluminum backplate and filled with a transparent fluid failing to float a bead above the blue slant shading its bottom. Dachni swatted it from its mount with a broom and prodded it across the floor into a corner and whopped it into submission with the stiff straw mane and cursed it and approached warily and finally picked it up. It was not menacing. She shook it. She put her ear to hear did it have a pulse which it did not. Characters were etched at intervals along its length between short horizontal lines. She held it at angles. Upright, downup. She shook it again for better measure.

Youre somethin, she muttered.

And Anaya would know.

Its a thermometer. The little reservoir at the bottom is called a bulb, this tube is called a capillary and it holds mercury. When the temperature increases it expands and lifts the bead and all you have to do is look to what number the bead aligns and that will tell the ambient temperature.

Whats it now?

Negative five Fahrenheit.

Their breaths plumed furiously the air.

Thats pretted cold.

Neither of us really need bother.

Whats say of an outside go?

Its colder out there than it is in here.

Ye can perk a fire outside.

You can make a fire inside.

Bellshit.

But it was true. A fireplace in the cathedral library. A great rococo palace, adequate even to the most pampered of scholars. It was easily missed, its door narrow enough to be mistaken that it led through to a closet. Two reading tables set opposite another propped upon the lamenting figure of martyrs the victory of Borodino, the sacking of Moscow. Book shelves lined the walls, rose to the ceiling, the upper shelves accessible by stairs spiraling up marble columns at each corner of the library. The narrow mezzanine balustraded by an ivory handrail with gilt spindles. Exhibits of muskets and sabers occupied the floor. Oil landscapes of the cosmos in its anthropomorphic beginnings, Satan in his fall, Othello on his bed, Michael at the helm, in the chairs Nico and Bart. Statues of Alexander upon Bucephalus, Diogenes in his jar.

Dachni caned about in awe. She came to the hearth and floundered like a muskrat drowning in molasses.

The pilot was crouched in the mouth of the fireplace.

Whore ye talkin to?

The pilot whispered on. Smoke rose and then you could see the fire rising into the chimney. The pilot pushed up on her knees and rose and swung back and turned.

Do you want some tea?

No.

The pilot grinned slyly. Some whiskey.

Ifn its your keep.

The pilot stood and opened the door of the giant grandfather clock installed in the mantle and withdrew from the bar therein a moonshine titled Perron's Mock Death by their Albanian distillers. She poured two tumblers full and gave the child one and they drank and basked in the growing heat.

Does ye have any friends?

Very few.

Where are they?

On their own. Ive never kept a circle, I draw from the
corners.

So ye doesnt really have none.

I do.

But they aint with ye. Friends steck agether.

Sometimes you have to go your own way.

No. Friends keep through.

Anaya thought about this. Bill Camel.

Fuck camels.

You didnt like him?

Who?

Bill. Bill Camel. He kept by you the whole time.

When?

To Kilcok.

Ta what?

The town we rode to. To find your offenders. He was the one most abreast of you.

Neverd sawed him.

You were pretty out of it.

Well about him.

Hes my friend.

Yaller friends.

Quite. Even when I dont want to talk to anyone I can still talk to him. Thats a rare quality. Some people rejuvenate themselves through socializing, some through solitude. So it is rare for the man who prefers the latter to find solace in another. I propose you and I are of that fold who finds the exception of relief in each other. But were more than that arent we?

You say that.

I say were sisters. That makes us more. What Id tolerate from you Id not tolerate from him. Bill is a hard man but hes not soulless. He told me: I aint Catholic but Im more Catholic than most. He saved my life in Mexico. Maybe a day Ill tell you the story. I could tell you another story about me and him and your...in Kansas. When we were in Kansas.

Whats Kansas? An Mexico?

The former is a state, the latter a country.

Whats former? An latter?

Former means the first, the latter the second mentioned
or last. So Mexico is latter, Kansas is former.

Ok. Tell whats of storied.

Not now. Later.

The pilot sipped the raki. Ive read much and found differences in the conceptions of the devil between east and west. Theres a somberness in the eastern Satans thats not present in the west. A shabby nobleman felled of status, clinging to society's coattails is no devil, not even a subdevil, not even a proper subaltern to an assistant of a subdevil. The devil is a merry go luck and he has much cause to rejoice.

Does ye lieve in the devil?

I dont believe in the devil in the same way I dont believe in gravity. The pilot picked up a sheet of paper and let it fall to the floor. Theres no need for belief.

Ye caint see him.

Ive met him.

Whatd he say?

We discussed Job. He said the story of Job is really the story of god committing suicide. Because god's infidelity to himself contradicted himself. He said it was the devil's master trick, tricking god into putting a gun in his own mouth. Only later did he realize that god had tricked him. Because he was left to run round with nothing to do and since he had no intention of joining his adversary in oblivion he was forced to haste round the margents of the world shoring up the belief in god in the hopes that they could revive him. Or else what had he to do? Rebel against himself and suffer the same fate? To become a living contradiction and then like god perish. Except that in the pushing of men towards god the contradiction had already occurred and so he said his great fear was to become what he always sought to overthrow and that one day he would sire the rebel who would fool him in being fooled.

Does ye think theys more than juss the devil keeped rounds?

Why if there is a devil cannot there be little devils?

How da ya think they get round?

Possessions. Pacts. Summonings. Illicit acts. I...dont think theres many devils circuit this earth anymore.

Why not?

Who would want to visit this hell? Arent demons forever trying to escape their torment?

Ye said this wertent hell.

Well. What do I know?

How does ye reckon ta get out?

The pilot smiled. If were in hell dont you think we deserve to be here?

No. How does ye get out?

I dont know.

Bullshit.

The pilot's smile rubbed the child's shoulder fondly. Patience. If you dont know how to get out of hell then you damn sure dont have the will to get out if you were told.

Thass yourn pinion.

Tis.

Will ye not say?

Ill not say. But no harm will come to you. And Ill get you out. Thats my promise. Do you believe that?

No.

Believe that. If I have to stay all my life I will but to save you.

Youre crazy.

Verily I confess it.

What about aienee devils?

In Iphsisavios. We have them.

Are they here?

Yes.

Has ye seen em?

Yes.

Ded ye talk to em?

No.

Why not?

Whats left to say? Now its whos going to kill who.
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  #193  
Old 04-04-2018, 07:39 PM
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Big update tonight. There may be some autobiography in this


Heading back to her room the child was gived pause by a suggestion of salmon for supper. She bethought this a good long moment and with brow not unfurrowed and weighing her answer declared sagely at last: Salmon is a fish.

The pilot's ears swooped straight up and she gave a vexed little look hard to interpret. Lets hope so.

Well ifn ye has a salmon.

Not yet.

Well when ye hassa salmon.

We can go get the salmon.

Aint goin no fuckin place again.

What needs have we to barter with a fishmonger?

What?

Wherefore aught we travel to market?

What?

We dont have to buy the damn fish.

What then?

The lake.

Dachni flapped her arms in strange outrage and her beer slipped away out her fingers and caromed off the wall and down through her grabbing mitts to thunk her in the head and shatter on the floor. Dachni flattened in a loud meep and then the pilot was hovering over her.

Are you ok?

Yer a terrible person!

Lets go fishing.

Ets freezing outside.

I dont disagree, said the pilot toeing the dripping shards of glass into a pile. But we can make a fire outside.

Hopstepping into new underwear she was surprised to find Anaya in her doorway.

I have something for you before we go.

Dachni popped her head through the shirt hole.

What?

She unfurled a wolf pelt parka. Arrived yesterday.

The parka was four sizes too big but the body could be tightened by straps and the sleeves pinned back. And then trousers. Moreover in excess but with leggings that could be eversed and buttoned to the knees. Anaya helped her into it.

Youre a proper little Eskimo.

Hats an Essimo?

The pilot pulled up her hood and scrunched up the child with playful scritchings of her side followed by a barrage of kisses and licks.

You are a precious wonder.

The sun squatting on the horizon shimmered like smelted nickel. No clouds anywhere. Dachni snuffled and looked about. Everything wearing a coat of snow. It was her first outing since Kilcock and she flapped her arms worriedly like an obese penguin.

Less go back.

Did you forget something?

Aye.

What?

Forgot...forgot.

Come on. No one's going to hurt you.

The pilot carried a pair of poles and reels and a plastic tacklebox and for a moment as they crossed the road into the woods she seemed like one under consignment as though replaying an act from long ago. They came through the slender birches. Dachni keeping under the lee of the pilot and giving fearful study to the road, to the paths to Matraple.

The lake was sealed over with a plate of ice that looked to have been platinized.

Caint fish now.

Ice fishing, said the pilot.

Dachni cocked her head. Thats stupid.

Why?

She pinched up the hook dangling off the fishing line as though it were the underpinning of her logic. Fish dont live in ice.

The pilot seemed unperturbed by this news. She went on. The beach was blown over with dead branches. She swept the pier steps clean of snow that Dachni could cane after. Ice had locked the wooden pillars in place. Farther out on the lake was a green pontoon buffed up on the ice. At the end of the pier Dachni lay on her belly and felt the ice. As armor. Opaque.

Fish dont freeze up in the fish, she said. Dont keep in ince. Dont freeze in ice.

The pilot laid out the poles and the tackle box and ice chest and went back to the woods. Dachni watched her pick up a stone maybe a hundred pounds and bring it back to the end of the pier and heft it over her head and sent it shooting down. The ice gave in a bone crunch and cracks webbed instantly through the plate and a fat uvula of water coughed out of the hole. The pilot sat down beside her.

Now what?

Now to enter into the tutelage of the profession of the fishery. Lo the minnow hunter does in time harpoon the whale. The pilot showed her how to mount the reel to the rod and thread the guides. She didnt have bobbers just j-hooks and she impaled nightcrawlers upon their points. She showed the proper method of casting and they tried this a few times, letting the hooks land on the ice and then reeling them in.

But for us we just want to let the hooks into the hole and thats it.

Are they fish down there?

Sure. Theyve seeded everything bigger than a pond in this region.

Seeds? Ye mean theyres off trees?

Fish?

Aye. Ye means they just plop offa trees? In the fall.

No. Yes. Yes they do. Not all of course. They grow on oaks, birches. Salmon do anyways. Of course each tree gives it own kind of fish.

What does them gives?

Birches give koi. Those pines? Theyll drop mackerels. We might even get some catfish from the cottonwoods upstream.

Whoaaa.

Learn something new every day.

Aye.

Dachni looked down into the hole. There they is.

Fat carp with silver bodies and flares of crimson or orange patterning their torsos. Smooth and torsioning right by the hooks.

Is they fruit or veggies?

Fruit.

Well ye wouldnt think em to get no riper. Does they turn back into trees?

Not until after a long time.

How does ye get up?

The worm acts a lure and when they bite it they bite the hook.

They aint bitin. No! No hes nibblin.

A barrel of black splotched carp picked at the worm. She gave a tentative tug on the reel and it darted away and came back. It got its full fish lips on the dangling end of the worm and with a rolling pull twisted it off the hook with a final taunting flag of the caudal.

Dachni reeled in the line and frowned at the hook. Son of a bitch.

The pilot muttered to herself.

What?

He would give them a better brain.

Who?

Never mind.

They rebaited their lines but the fish kept plucking them off and the pilot in mild agitation leaned off the pier and dipping her foot slowly into the water snatched out the most wiliest thief in a spasm of motion. Her talons cupped its belly and tossed it up and she snatched it from the air.

For thy sins I condemn to the hell thou callest pan and thy cousins to the boiling lake of peanut oil.

Dachni eyed her. Now what?

Lets get the rest.

Doesin ye still wanta use these lines?

Lets try.

They rewormed their hooks and let them down but the fish slithered oily by like stubby fangless snakes and they werent even picking anymore.

This is pretter boring.

I thought it might be more interesting myself.

Dachni studied the hole. She thought she saw something but she didnt know what.

What does ye see?

In what?

In the hole?

What do you see?

Buncha fuckin fish. What does ya?

The pilot wedged between the boards and leaned forward. I see, she began, two worlds unintermediated bordered by the supremacy of their own element. And what then of heaven? But theres air in water and water in air. Tis strange. We came also of water. Examine the simplest species of the ocean. They dont see, they dont hear, they dont breathe. They cannot choose. But sometimes I wonder if maybe they have some incipient will. If choice is embedded in something deeper for which the nervous system is merely the vehicle of its expression. Choice so far is we can tell is an aberration. But we were once as these. So they too have the potential. If we disappear tomorrow it may be that a sire of one of these will thousands of millennia from now take the first peremptory crawl from these waters. How strange would it be and then to be more fond of the strangeness. To transition from a floating world to the realm of gravity and rain and wind and stars. Maybe thats why birds arose, to regain some semblance of their primordial womb. I want to know what it was. Or what was the first. I even maybe want to say who was first. Was it only an aberration? A hardening of a cuticle. If thats really all it was. If all this was led to by the hard deterministic interplay of particles or random chaos or a simple miswrit of chemicals. Or some creature washed up on a beach with the right mutation. Either way the most of it was made. But Id like to think that it was a twang of desire in the first amoeba, some hope to escape or make things better. Its strange. The fish had to run away. He couldnt stay in the water. He had to take the water with him onto the land. He drank everyday. Everyday he drank his home and carried it with him. You cant ever leave your home Dachni. Tis why I despise these machines. Theyre pure thought. They dont carry the struggle. They carry our home. They dont drink water.

Well, said the child. Hows ye figure to kill these things?

The pilot turned and flipped open the tackle box lid and took out a bundle of short red firecrackers and slices of bread.

What are them sticks?

Firecrackers.

What do they do

Explode.

Ahhhhh.

They rubber banded the firecrackers to the bread and lit the long green fuses with a zippo and dropped them in. They sank mutely from the little plucks they raised, small phosphorous stars burning down the fuse. The fish gathered to pick at the bread and as they did the sudden detonations would engulf their faces and they would float sideup stunned. Dachni dropped in a salute that weighed almost an ounce. It sank towards a school and as it did the largest carp yet swam out from under the ice gap and gulped it whole.

Ya dummy ya aint sposed ta eat it.

It swam by in placid heedlessness. Anaya was already laughing. Of a sudden its middle bulged and its eyes sprung out their sockets and then its torso burst in a puff of smoky blood that when diffused saw the carp in twain like a torpedoed submarine, the tangled guts spilling and the emptied tube of its body smoking out the great breach.

The pilot looked into the icebox. I think we have enough, she said.

Other fish were closing in to feed on the destruction.

Wuh huh.

Lets go.

Ok.

Dachni lingered until the fish had disappeared from sight. They packed up their things. As they were leaving the pilot stopped. She was staring ahead and then she looked up at coming overcast in the west. Dachni took her by the hand to lead her on but she set down the ice chest and lifted out the big black mottled carp and walked back to the end of the pier and let it back into the water.

At home they set about cleaning the fish. A little disassembly line. Dachni docking and decapitating with a cleaver and passing the dripping catches on to the pilot. Who would make an incision at the anterior amputation, working her knife just under the dermis to remove the scales and then to open it up along the belly and clean the insides, removing the silver hair skeleton.

Dachni watched her. She was humming a melancholic melody and yet she was smiling.

Whatre ye so happy over?

The smile turned towards her. Im happy youre here. I like spending time with you.

This confession consternated the child. She looked at the headless ten pounder framed on the cutting board.

Thats ok, said the pilot. Youre smiling too.

They fried the fish. Powdering them with a dry cajun batter and then committing them like limed sailors given burial in an oily sea. That soon was brought to boil and that cracked around them. They fished out the strips as they browned and laid them in a roasting pan and let the grease absorb into the bed of paper towels. Dachni kept sneaking samples of them and never of the same strip and the pilot even while looking somehow managed by dramatic mastery to maintain the pretense that her thievery went unnoticed.

They ate in the library, warming by the fire the pilot had made. They didnt talk but the child could not keep from giggling and she scooted slyly about mulling her fish and trying forcefully to share it with the pilot, coming around her backside and feinting left or right and then darting around the other side in an attempt to insert the fish into her mouth and then when this failed she tried to bait out her wyrm so she could pet it.

Who would have guessed carp a narcotic?

Yebluhblublebleble.

Indeed.

Dachni scampered across the pilot's lap and off it and back on and circled and floundered heavily and began to fuss the pilot.

Bweh.

Do you want attention? Anaya asked scratching her belly.

Dachni squirmed squealing catlike and then her mirth suddenly faded into a grim contentment with one mouth corner drawn down. Is a lettle better today.

Its how it works doesnt it?

She squeezed her eyes shut as though in pain. It dont always.

But today it did.

She nodded. Its kinder tire though.

Lets stay awake. Youre sleeping most the day, most the night.

Ok. Whats ta do?

What would you like to do?

Has ye a drink?

Lets do something more than drink. We can have a drink but lets do something else besides. If you dont have a goal in life you just become an alcoholic.

Whats an alkaolic?

The pilot sighed heavily and turned her gaze to the painted judgment above. Im not sure Im qualified to answer that.

Is it a bad thing?

The pilot shrugged noncommittally.

Well a weewhey drinky woulnt hurt.

Thats how it starts.

The child turned crafty. Hey ye wanna bomb fish mores?

The pilot laughed. You dont think theyve had enough?

Life comes when it comes. Sides wasnt them fishies died. They aint had nothin.

Death belongs not to the dead. Let them tell their stories first.

Fishy aint no store tells.

Im sure they have something. The Tale Of Fat Murphy.

Ta whatta fuck?

Murphy was the fattest fish of Wine Lake
Also the only fish that ever spake
He homed in a clam and owned a clock
And warmed his tail in a hobo's sock

His reminiscences were (if ever asked) always of the eighteen seas
until abroad twas thought even by gulls him the gilliest gist in the gee
and with a wink to the gups
and a wink to the yups
would tell of a parapelagic octopus

But what wasnt known nor even rumored was that Murphy was on the take
That for a ten percent cut and some tuna gut
Murph made friends in the fishing trade
He assured all grub the finest cuisine
Called chum a free buffet
And his believing friends (and why wouldnt they believe) were wrapped in magazines

And in Allen's Pond theres stories told of a trout in fishy habit
Whose parish perished in a vat of cajun batter
After the pastor from his coral pulpit
Preached the hook Pisces' ladder

But when suspicion arose
Off Uncle Murphy goes
And yonder comes Mister Murph from whence who knows?

Until a day, a normal day, a winter day in Matter Lake
Mysterious Murph devising schemes
Ate a squab of cheap plastique
His entrails sank towards the bottom of the sea
But no one grieved too long
For in his standing will (executed only in the event of murder)
He invited all his friends partake
Of his mawky bulk
At his benthic wake


Dachni shut her eyes in consternation. Whubbafuck?

Lets call it the Vengeful Tale of Sinful Murph.

Fesh caint tawk.

Whats wrong with a rhyming fish?

Ifn rhymey fish then ets all goaned ta hell.

The pilot conceded with a not unserious smile. You may be right.
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  #194  
Old 04-10-2018, 09:48 PM
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Lord I trekked a painful valley
Ive got the wallowing hard blinds
I got the blind valley shadow blues
You know I got the shadow valley blues
The valley tryin blues
Ears blacked by the news
*
You know I trekked a terrible valley
I got friends I aint seen in a thousand years
Ive got a thouand tears a thousand tears
I got the valley tryin blues
I got the cryin gravedirt blues
*
God I trekked this valley
You dug it up god
Dug up every thorn
Every thorn I ever stepped on
Since the day I was born
*
God Im walking down your valley
Aint got no pews to kneel on
All I got is thorns
These blues I cant give away
God theres some burdens Jesus cant take away
You know these blues are mine
You know these blues are mine
All down the valley theyre mine

Not part of the story but I was listening to blues


In her sleep she was bridled in the carrion mux out which she'd been incarnated but from atop his moraine the dread heresiarch watching her struggle segued her into wakefulness with a query she could not hear. She felt fallen from a height into sour nausea and sweat drip. Gripping tightly her pillow in her fists and beset with the primitive fear that inspires awe of the welkin. And yet the fractal dawncast could not undo her somberness. The pilot found her in gray dolor staring at the barren snow blown waste without her painted window.

Come on, she said wrapping an arm around her.

Caning through a necropolis of a slaughtered eparchy. An uneven gravescape spread over several hectares. Battered menhirs run of their marl or pocked with shallow tafoni. The gated lots of more affluent parishioners. Rows of crosses or headstones combed back. The sole inhabitants a few ice cowled angels perched downhearted upon headstones with lichen toupees, their reluctant benediction belie some uncertainty as to the destinations of those theyd been elected to vigil. Even Jegudiel in his lithic depiction appeared reluctant to commiserate. Farther on into the purlieus of the mausoleum gazebo or templet. Life boat sepulchers that disdained to be committed to the unders. Stainless steel sepulchers in a columbarium as though the dead would not risk these outer shelves again when the trumpet sounds.

I employed a man in the profession of a caretake but hes months late. I presume hes retired without notice. Anaya touched off an avalanche of snow masking a graveface and read the inscription.

Adam Whitley Mauder
2422-2497
Magis Ignis

What she made of it could not be told but it put her to regarding the ordered perfection snow imparts with a sense of its subtle profanity for given that it is idyllic yet even in carnage the peace is not gone. Oceans of blood having soaked these estates ere any ideal was watered.
They moved on. Fallow acres surrounded the basilica, flatting out to barricades of trees or arcs of the ambit where skysill and rim sewed up with nary sign of tracery. In the east very small deer browsed for knotweed or tulips frozen in the snow. A single cloud hovered over them. The child might have shot one but then she realized they were unarmed. She turned to warn Anaya but as she did a weight of cold duffed the top of her head.

Small oversights do end us. She uttered a cry. Felt the wound. Was it bleeding was it mortal. And saw the pilot erasing the evidence from her ends with an exaggerated feign of innocence flourished with a whistle tune.

Ye fuckin cocksucker, she shrieked.

The pilot's hint of smile turned contrite. She started to apologize but Dachni bent and balled a scoop of snow and powdered it against the pilot. The pilot's legs grew unsteady. She began to wobble in a drama of dead moans and spinning before finally collapsing in the snow. Dachni gawped to see her enemy so easily vanquished. She wiped her nose. She threw another snowball to be sure she were dead. Then yelled: Ets ya own falk!

A grinning betentacled head lifted out of the snow. She whipped upright and molded another snowsphere and slung it laconically and the child followed its arc and swatted it angrily out of the air in a white puff and scrambled a janky three legged scramble and tripped and shaped her own projectile and hurled it at the pilot.
In a few minutes they were constructing forts from behind which they exchanged a worried artillery and from where they negotiated a tense armistice and they drew angels in the snow and made a snowman with pebbles for eyes and though a last paleness was flickering over the mackerel clouds torsioning in from the west they made this figure a companion that he might not be lonely.

Even then Dachni had not quite forgiven the pilot. They suppered in a tense quiet as one who has found herself not quite as betrayed as thought. Afterwards when the pilot sank the dishes to wash Dachni webbed her fingers with soap suds and scampered back to her room. She sat on the bed edge watching the door expectantly. Her grimness souring more each moment gone when no shadow trailed up its jamb and after a while she laid down and switched off the nightlight but a few minutes enclad in the bleak brunette twilight fertile to incertitude proved vector to an increep of despair that yawned through the blacker savanna hours coming and she groped for her cane and went out almost in tears.

Vacant dorters are of her hall. On the walls Ganymede in fresco consecrates the tongue of lupus with the decanting of his urn. Here is water in the mountains and water amongst the rocks. Here is the royal library flying burning pages like luminary dove flocks out its lecture halls and reading rooms whilst upon the great steps and the peripatos the stoics tear out their hair.

She waddled bandy legged hastily her backtrack to the lavatory and went to the library to wait on the couch. Here nothing was unadorned. Gothic columns fluted and pearl white rose in triplicate to the high triptych ceiling of earthly delights, their capitals relieved of painted seraphs armed of gladius or pilum and their pedestals a pastel blue with gold inserts and gilt at the vertices. Silent ash lilted over the brushstroke veins of cold calacatta underfoot and the sterling longhand of the mantel clock stuttered over the archipelago of gold numerals, its shadow invisible upon an ebon dial no darker than the orbs that perceived them. Something is being moved towards and what is it and what wilt it? Has it mind to barter? Or has it the sistren dread implacable? And what its desire? Or desires naught? Force racing cross the margins of the world feasting upon capsized souls. It is a thing to be got from and a thing that moves and needs move not. A cyst in time waiting for time to stop.

Along other passageways. A door letting out into a bifurcated atrium where amaryllis and anemone peek out of the snow. Two baths in the communal style of Rome save divided by a high lime wall. She made a circuit of the gallery and went back inside.

At the labyrinth she beheard the wont of wind hunger seething in the infraclavicular fatsness to this plateau plane. Its respire innocent of fleshrot and blood and this worried her the more for if it has not eat when shall it and what?

She checked the library again. A game room. In the eastern storage closet she moseyed through the strew of boxes and fallen shelves and hustled to the refectory restroom and its stalled pots and peed the noisome dregs of her bladder and coming out heard the faint echo of a guffaw. She stopped a tip toe to divine its origins. The sound seemed to be coming from the nave where were hearable the guttural snippets of a python lingo. She followed them to a stairwell off the shrine of the shawled intercessioness spiraling up to an ambulatory running along the triforium with its murals of martyrdom and scriven ivory balustrade. At the choir the image of Michael paused her. Majestic in the parquet and thong athwart the dragon's mazzard.
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  #195  
Old 04-21-2018, 10:23 PM
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Whos this on the radio? an old friend whose last advice was apparently ignored wholesale Hahaha does anyone read this anymore?


Beyond the choir a flight of stairs. An apse. Out of breath upon the landing Dachni looked up to see the pilot enframed in the doorway and small in it. The apse was divided longitudinally into scenes of Gethsemane and it was the sleepers did not the snake also was in the garden. The pilot. She sat at the altar as though it were a table and she seemed well invested in a discourse but with who the child couldnt see. Dachni hissed from behind the stone stud.


The pilot turned in her chair. Id thought you gone to bed.

Ye dennent come! Dachni whined.

You didnt stay.

Dachni glared at her.

Heel little one.

The child turned wary as though of an ambuscade then caned quick across the vast compass medallion floor and headbutted Anaya in the hip and wormed blindly into her lap and stood looking anxiously about. The christ had been taken down and leaned against the wall. And maybe it is with ghosts that her dialect is fully expressed.

Whos your talk to?

The pilot patted a clunky radio set on the altar. Its drab coat scratched by years use. The instrument panel crowded with knobs and dials demarked by white stencil type. Some analog, others digital. Rows of diodes. A keypad with rubber keys.

Thats an over say, she ventured slowly.

Tis but you dont have to say over with this.

Kwipst not? Igh aught.

The pilot brushed her hair. A bad one.

Dachni mewled a sad little note. Doan make fun.

The pilot pressed her nose into her hair and inhaled deeply. She traced an arc on the radio top. This is for friends.

Dachni wracked her brains for its proper operating but she couldnt remember that she didnt know. The pilot guided her hand to the base of a microphone hooked into the jack. She tapped the squelch.

Press this to transmit. Release to receive. Try it.

Dachni stood kneaded her forehead into the pilot and caught one of her whisking ears and held it like a frog caught moth in her lips. The pilot licked her neck. Go on.

Dachni mulled her ear another moment and turned and pressed the squelch. Now what?

Say something.

What?

Pater pakers dinner acres didnt go to the bakers makers.

Dachni pouted sullenly. Yer bein mean.

Anaya nipped her playfully on the nape. Try saying hello.

Dachni frowned. Then she pressed her lips to the wire mesh of the mic and waved. Hidy.

Now take your finger off.

She lifted her finger.

A green light in the upper corner of the radio lit and the needles in their glass cases tweaked crazily and the word taika came through in the unmistakable sibilance of the aienee.

Dachni squealed in delighted angry alarm. Whatd it say?

Taika means hello.

Hidy! she yelled

You have to press the squelch.

Dachni located the squelch and punched it with a thumb. Hidy!

You have to hold it down.

She held it down. Hidy! Gooer you?

Now let it go.

Haintent need no damn rules, she muttered.

A voiced arrived electric and affable. Ungooey. And preferring to retain my consistency. Is this Dachni?

Dachni gasped and considering for a moment bowed shaking up and down in a rush of her blackened hair.

The pilot pressed to transmit. She nods with vigor.

A chuckle came through. Im relieved to make your acquaintance. I was beginning to doubt your existence.

Dachni's face scrunched. Whats akwaintance?

It means to become known to someone.

Oh-kay. She pressed to transmit. Ets gud ta knowed ya too, she said. Whos ooh?

A laborious sub-sub, said the pilot.

A servant. Most bound to the dagestai.

The pilot cleared her throat. Twas not my intention to demean thee servant, esteemed above all others.

I was and remain unoffended nor would it make difference were I so. I profess myself a reservoir of thy blood, an extension of thy will, and the totality of thy necessary sense. Thou art my parasite, I thy tolerating victim.

The pilot would have made wry retort but Dachni hogged the mic to her bosom and turned to deny it. Yalls assta weird talk. Ye dennent say yer was.

Aliatriss Yavri Mai-kin. Rope walker, dragon talker, diplomat of preternatural politic. Loyal lesion to an ornery liege. And if I have failed to communicate the gestural flair of my introduction you may imagine me accompanied by the most liveried retinue of livers in gaudiest cirrhosic pomp.

Hidy Mister Mikey. Aliatry. Yavi. Avi.

Hell lo lo.

Hows it your meet?

I do not follow.

She wants to know how we met, clarified the pilot.

Aye aye aye. Ayeaye. Ayeyaye.

One short of a spider.

Whuh? Dachni paddled excitedly on the mic. Hows your knowed each other? How. How wow ow.

Poorly, chuckled the pilot.

A ponderous hum came through.

How do we know each other? posed the pilot to herself. When were you transferred under my command?

Im wounded thou dost not recall.

I could look up the records but then that wouldnt be knowing would it?

It would be finding out.

Then tell how we met.

I was a permanent fixture on the Ograstksi for the length of your command and when flagships were changed I was in your infallible wisdom transplanted to a dank office in a metal uterus until such time as I could convince the xriagai to procure me a proper billet. But of my time aboard the Ograstksi we never spoke.

For as long as I helmed it?

Helmed? Well. Perhaps it was you knew more then.

The pilot grew somber in reminiscing. Then she shook her head. Worthless times.

For as long as I helmed it?

You commanded, never helmed. Perhaps it was you knew more then.

Somberness overcame the pilot. Phyiagis vrag kataya.

Ssivka.

The pilot looked at the mic. Were you still askrati?

I was.
The pilot's ears wrapped around the back of her skull. Her lips pursed. I
wish we'd talked earlier.

Thy words flatter the sycophant in me.

The pilot scoffed in menace and dragged her cup of whiskey from the altar and drank.

But to your question, dear Dachni, our first meeting was in orbit around a pulsar. It was brusque and prived in toto of these gam's warmth. The dagestai was, if the dagestai permits telling-

Tell.

-dancing in the gravitational lack of the solarium. Where you would be surprised to learn she spent most her time. None suspected a contemplative nature or that her dancing represented more than a conceit. Many thought she was without inner monologue.

Remind me to execute those of the opinion.

Do you really want their names?

I absolutely do.

You see Dachni even in this I have inadvertently condemned some to death. Know that the breath you expend costs lives. But by the time we were aboard the Nghorro her humors were known and the xriagai, who was duly executed for cowardice, quailed at the prospect of delivering an unlucky report and so passed it on to me. However upon my presentation she asked only my stance upon the meaning and since the report Id sailed to her had passed unintercepted and bounced off the glassy membrane of the place I deducing she spoke of the pulsar said it meant that the universe was abiding as it ought the strict protocol of the law. I asked her the purpose of the lamps and she said it was to fill them with light. And that was the first we spoke.

She was pretty mean afore.

Principled I would argue.

I shalt refrain from comment lest I undo my credit with my king.

The pilot glared at the mic.

Is she glowering?

Dachni looked at the pilot. Aye shes gowerin.

But tell me how you two met.

The pilot, the child looked at another.

Never done it.

You never met each other?

No.

You never met your mother?

Dachni bowed out at hip and head. Her brows seesawed in confusion. Shes dead.

The dagestai, I mean.

The child stared in lopsided squint ahead a moment. Her? Mother?

The pilot took her hand from the mic just as she wheeled around.

Mother? she shrieked.

The pilot's ears peeled limply from her neck and drooped to her shoulders. She listed slightly as if vacuumed of spirit. The static buzz of the mic echoed and the echos were imbued with something of their baroque surroundings. Dachni seized the pilot by throat and chin and the visage turned up was scalded by shame, the irises as provinces of sorrowing. Dachni's fingers slipped to her sides. Her head hung. Neither moved. A desolate heaviness disformed the contours of her heart and the chambers gasped and sighed hot streams of tears to her uttermost being. She shut her eyes. She cried. And then she rotated mechanically and lighted her finger upon the mic. She held it. Her mouth opened but no words came. She pressed to transmit. Her uncombed breath passed between her lips. Her finger pulled away. Pressed to transmit.

Adopted, she said.

The thaw came in the third week of April and the snowmelt flooded the narthex. They stoppered the waters with a temporary caulk of towels applied to the gates and mopped up the reservoirs that had formed and when the waters receded from the raised crepidoma it was spring.
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  #196  
Old 04-22-2018, 09:07 PM
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I still read it; every post. I donít comment much anymore because Iím tired of saying: this is fucking amazing. You already know that. Donít need me to tell you.


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  #197  
Old 04-23-2018, 07:28 AM
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Ah ha madness. Thanks ;D
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Old 04-26-2018, 09:49 AM
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i'd be fibbing to say, if my name wasn't Shirley, i surely do read. scour the forum for murphy i rake make no mistake, here til the end of me. i sure do like that dachni clown, so cute, but it's all so disjointed right now. your world you create is chaos. i should get my hands on a copy of that other book you got published there.. maybe maybe-- later.
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  #199  
Old 05-03-2018, 05:31 PM
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Little note about the poem. I wrote it in an Armenian hostel. I was leaving back for the states the next day and being the hopeless sentimental mess I am I composed this little ode to a friend. Later in Georgia I got a handjob from a masseuse to lift me spirits

Other updates...well as it would turn out Im at 176k which means this tome is going to dwarf the other as I dont think Ive yet hit the midway point. I remember saying this was going to take me five or six years to write but itll probably take as long as the last. One of the surprising things is I found that I kept making extended forays into domestic life. I dont think theyre seamless yet and this is the hardship of writing a road novel as opposed to a 'stationary' novel but thats what editing is for. I recall Achilles' shield and its depiction of civilization which I daresay was one of the inspirations of Tolstoy's War and Peace and I always knew but in writing I really knew, that I had never depicted anything but perversions of domestic life and I felt that to miss the opportunity to explore that realm would be a disservice to the life of the novel.


The pilot shoved green long fagots into the riffled mire and nailed draftboards into their tops. Dachni followed, almost a boxful of nails protruding her lips like some buckfanged hunter of the depths. They worked late into the afternoon when the still flood began to steam under the sun. Rains delayed their labors the next mackerel erenoon. They sat under the archivolt watching the rain slash the flood.

All matters an unbroke tree
And all life its ephemeral leaves
But in August decline towards December death do not despair death finality
For even though leaves we be
Leaves are rooted in eternity

At rain's pass they gathered their tools and by midday had pontooned to the carport, having done so to the cemetery the day before. The pilot wrote in the waters rhymes that hearsed into the mire. Later they worked towards the fields but the waters had begun to lower and there was not much need and overmorrow of then the pilot went to the tool shed and got several long hafted implements and walked out to the fields. When she left the bridge Dachni followed as a lemming and putting her cane forth saw it swallowed to the crook and such was her faith she had not tested the depths and she herself splatted broad flat into the mud. She pedaled upright and trudged on bedraggled as a festering cloth made animate and wroth. Her frail spider legs worked hugely, her arms tugging them out the vacuuming mud when stuck and her jaw was grit and her sweat a crown bright. Her pantlegs were rolled high and the scarry rivage below was so gouged it looked as though it were pecked at by a murder of crows. The traction on her foot was nigh to her endurance and the pilot staked each implement upright in the mud and turned back to rescue her out the viscous rippleless morass and got her cane and their lunch pails and carried her to an island of rocks on the edge of the Ųris. She brushed the child's hair back and wiped away the clear mud mucous from her face then set off with a plough. At the head of the field she dropped the chisel into the sogged chernozem at an angle and hooked it and leveled it out and began to drag it. It yielded easily enough. The soil folding over like wake waves. Every so often she would bend to remove a rock from her path and the little crater would fill with mud. Once the chisel yawed up at the stern like a ship run aground and the pilot pulled free a pelvis and brought it to the child to inspect. A book fractured cradle where the cradle once had set. It reeked a sweet musk, almost semenic under the odor of humus. She tossed it aside. The pilot ploughed on. An arm turned up, an enlarged brisket caught between the ribs. Other bones of many things. The splinted shins of goats, the horned skulls of cattle and the pilot ploughed on the roof of her ossilegium.

Dachni looked towards the road. Visible on the off side. Beyond the birches were some yet ragged by snow and a lone wolf docked to them. She tilted her head and it canted alike. No single feature was discernible but its shoulder sagged as though it sprawled and its head was low and when some noise startled it to lope it seemed to broom the ground before it. The sun ground methodically along its rails. The mud on her legs caked and when she slapped at her veneer of calves dust pouted off. The pilot reached the end of a row and started up another. A vulture lighted on a tree stump across the road. A cool wind stirred is plumage and it thrust its beak viciously therein as though to feed on itself.

Ta fucker ye doin?

The pilot heeled the plough and looked at her. She wiped a viscous gleen from her brow and the vestigial tendrils shading her eyes bristled as though electrified. She wore nothing. She regarded the rich loam. Beneath the shallow water it was overgrown and rocks cropped up like small fruit and human skulls, the teeth like seedlings.

I want to plant an orchard, she said. I want to grow apples. Quince. Strawberries. Ill make a flag of the fields. Ill recreate the banner of my empire with fruit. Maybe not that trespass but Id want some art to it.

Ye caint do it.

We have violated the intended geometry of the universe. I have confidence I can seed this ground.

Dachni rose unsteadily. Yer a fuckin lie.

Hows that?

Said ye hated everthin! She ladled up a palmful of mud and threw it. An ye hate god an everbuddy en everthin! An the world is evil! Ye caint say hassen go way of it.

Can and have.

The utter baldness of the declaration tripped her tongue. Ye-ye-ye lant loo at! Oan et to that!

What litigant prone to suicide would present the injunction? My word is the authority that weights the minds of billions, should I then not have at least a rudder to my soul?

Ye caint! Dachni screamed.

She threw away the cane and began towards the road.

The pilot stalked after her. Where are you going?

Get away!

Now? When you pronounced me mother not four nights hence?

Ye aint her!

Who else would I be?

Dachni struggled on. A heavy hand falled upon her shoulder turned her.

Ye aint Anaya! she shrieked. Yer a a yer a pretend! Yer a counterfeit.

The pilot's eyes darkened. Why? Because I am not the mirror of your mind's image? Oh a broken doll doth hath conceit. But to fancy all as thyself is to conceive thyself god. Then aught I lay my case before thee? Thou wouldst quail in that trial. But if the reality of myself is incongruent with your conception is it rather not that your knowledge lacks the omniscient attribute? If omniscience is acquired but omnipotence lacked then it means some features of reality are not manipulable and since manipulability is the common trait of all entities then omniscience neither can be possessed. Is my identity negated because it flouts your ideation? Am I beholden to you? Or do you hold yourself over me? Your failure to countenance me as I am is a product of your ignorance and that a property of your impotence. Did you think I could be abstracted in your meager totality? Did you imagine the world a doll house because you are a doll?

Dachni waded a half step back and spat at the pilot. Ets all nothin. An yer not her. She turned to run, her torso before the waist and the pilot seized her wrist and gored her palm and lifted her clear of the muck.

Do you think me a peasant contracted into society? I make society. I change if I choose. I change others if I choose. Or have you mistook me a mawmet dancing inarticulately from oblivion to oblivion? Do you think Ive gone lame? Or tame? Nay Ill hang thee from a meat hook.

Dachni was screaming. Blood all down her arm and she hanging from a talon. Her screams degenerating into pitiful cries and instantly was let down and the talon withdrew. The mud seeped in on her. She held her hand and bawled.

The pilot looked on pitilessly. Is this what it takes for you to believe me? Im still me. Its all still there. Look at me.

Dachni covered her face and neither her tears nor her blood disturbed the abiding mire. The pilot slapped her arms away. Look at me.

She did.

Do you understand now?

Dachni shook her head. Her chest heaved with each indrawn sob and her cries rasped a wordless threnody.

Why?

Cause ur not...cause ur not...

Not like I was. But the latitudes of being are wide and capacious to infinity. Wouldnt you rather have the me of now then the me of yesteryear?

But ye...ye aint...

I am not who you adored. Who you fell in...in...what word?

No.

I am myself.

What about hall that that...

Its all there. Held in reserve.

Et wont work.

Youre right. It wont. But this is a good placeholder. Im holding on to this until I can find something that does work. I dont know what it is or where to find it I just know that I need to. No. Not need. I dont need to. I want to. But whatever it proves to be I know I need you for it. I dont think I can do it without you. Listen. All that has gone by is not rendered meaningless because of a philosophical revision, the meaning is not diminished but altered. Its brought me here. And in the latest analysis its brought us together again.

But ets a lie.

Its not. Listen. A very long time ago there were syjin known as hyagii lak tull. They would venture out to fumigate the jungles of whatever parasite predominated them. It was illegal to bring them harm. Even to threaten them. It was the only profession by which a parricide could redeem himself. None of this can be recreated but it is a model to follow. For all that has gone by I cannot be sorry. I will not ever be sorry. And god? I think not on him. We are as two enemies crippled by age who pass as strangers in a hall.

Yer a lie.

Who else would I be? What astronomical bias could conspire a second Anaya? I will not be again not ever in anything.

Ye dont git to leave all that.

I do. I have. Ive always had the choice. Or think it my cape.

Dachni sat silent. Blood was raining off her fingerpads and her shirt
front was stained red.

I am who I whim to be. Or reason to be. Or wish to be or hope to be or delude to be or determine to be or think to be or dream to be. But whatsoever my fancies make me it is more than anything else something to you that I need to be.
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  #200  
Old 05-11-2018, 09:23 PM
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They abandoned their bridgemaking, the furrowing of the fields. The pilot bandaged her stigma in gauze ready stored in a pocket and they lunched on the isle upon vinegar drenched hoagies assembled that morning. Good toasted baguette, red onion rings, tomato, salami neatly sliced into rounds, slices of American cheese, lettuce, circles of pepperoni.

Dachni though this assortment of spice sat unwell in her and late that night it all came up. A vibrant torrent of diced digesta that drenched her legs whilst hind scooting to the bathroom forthwith to occupy for hours. Her entrails were in a tangle wicked shibaric. A brashy drowning of spiders in a blister. Uterine turbulence. Tristesse enwombed absorbed in its own grief and apathetic to pleas. Upon the closet she doubled over guarding a pelvic infernia trying to defecate what refused to pass. Her moans were grievous. She slid to the floor and crawled under the showerhead and pulled the iron fob dangling at favor of her altitude and washed off her legs. The room filled with steam. She crawled back. She twisted up the waist of her broadshorts where they pooled about her ankles and beat upon her knees. A bloody mucous slickened her thighs. She kicked out of her shrift. Her belly score scarred, with artificial navels and bump taut. That navel at zenith is that one natural. A weight protrudes it. Tumor go outwith this life is brief and you are not life. Heat not of steam but from the frictious spasm wracks within sweated her. The water patted against the tiles. Prophets foresuffer what the blind suffer in now and in remembrance. She gripped her thighs and endured the rolling tattoo of the pelvic thew, the involuntary shunting outward, wheezing through teeth, until she too pushed, essaying legs spread with ramage, bobbing after each effort like a smith'y bellows, pressure building at a coordinate just behind her infolded lips until finally at the sixth bell it broke and there was a long slurping out into water and she spent fell in the hot of the water.

When strength again imbued her she clasped the vomit bearded bowlrim and hauled herself sitting and looked in. Inverted whitsun delivered from a womb of horrors into a manger for shit. Ejecta vaguely fetal backgrounded by a piss bloody gloriole. Child of child bound for purgatory take thy viaticum this prayer and run without backwards askance lest thee turn salt. But lo a thin wet membrane of what rough beast peeled back from a sable pinhead and the schadenic freude perceived her and winked. Dachni flushed it down.

In the kitchen she sorted drawers for the sharpest knife and returned to her room and locked the door and laid on the bed and cut at her right forearm. She would have opened her dexter veins but her pierced hand could not grip the handle. She shut her eyes. A few minutes later a doorknock opened them again and by then it was not easy to do.

Dachni.

Aye?

Are you ok?

Aye.

Youre bleeding.

Dachni glanced at her arm's coat of gules. Something of the faintness behind her eyes in its rosy creep. Its jess the ye knows. The well ye knows.

The I knows?

Ye aint gittin ta lick it.

Dachni.

Ets ok.

Can I see?

Ta hells for? Ye know what et is. Done heard it ye aint spoked ta lookin at folks as that.

Its not that kind of a look. Its a lot of blood.

Theys always a lotta blood.

Dachni.

Whell ya let it be? Yer always sayin things is horrible an ets jussed a lettle bleed. It aint no kinded hurt.

Will you open the door?

Dachni felt herself draining away and she knew it was herself and she must focus everything into her speech. Ifn ye wanna talk jess talk amorrow. Dont wanna talk ta ye.

Open the door.

Dont bust et down.

I wont if you open it.

Anaya they aint nothin wrong. Caint ye keep a lone? Jess a night jess wanna sleep.

Can I tuck you in?

No.

Not even a goodnight kiss?

No.

Do you want a story?
Anaya.

Let me see you.

Its alled alright.

Open the door.

Whyre ye fucked over some blood?

Open it.

Ifn ye bust the door all yer gonna do is fuck up a door.

The doorknob rattled and a metal clicking sounded from within that was the picking of the tumblers. The door swung open. Dachni reared howling, arms outstretched as though in accusation and a jet of blood splashed a crimson band on the pilot's visage as she fell into her arms. The next moment she was being run down the hall past processions of bloodshed. Mons where clouds of fire were wrung of burning men and Matles where the glades became as a cauldron for the boiling of men alive before the pyre of Cranberry Mountain. This procedural crushing of the human corpus. A worker being crushed by a bailer. In the infirmary the pilot laid her on the same cot on which she had mended her foot and and she strictured the paired artery by means of a knuckle pressed into the elbow pit and the bright rosen spit slacked to a seep and the blood shallowed to the gully floors of the barbarous hacks. The pilot applied a pressure bandage and secured it with gauze but did not stitch it for the child begged no needles, no wire, and after examining the wound and the wanness of her countenance determined that she would live.
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  #201  
Old 05-16-2018, 08:39 PM
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And we are finally at 200 posts. My god. In celebration and because this is one whole big scene I present to you nearly a sixth of a novel. Edit: I actually looked up novel lengths and no its not a typical sixth, but still 8900 aint bad Edit 2: I really like the sound of typical sixth


In her bed in the fastness of the labyrinth the child was given two glasses of water to drink and was laid down beside by her who stroked her weary head. Dachni mute in the arms. The pilot pressed their lips together and frigid talons slid up her belly to her breastbone.
Release thy breath.
The words were in her mouth neither conscience nor nuisance.
She let go her breath.
Anaya inhaled through the vents in her sides and seasoned the air with her lungs and let the breath pass into the child. A combed credo to receive. Cold to sorrow bones. Sorrow in the delicate inflect of the chords small words to seat in her bosom. Their lips parted.
Let it out.
And when she respired Anaya savored the breath in her lungs as a preciousness a long moment ere acquitting it to the world. Rhythmic flow. Blue flow. Life's relay. Her arms wrapped slowly round the pilot and in all its sorrowing it was not only a kiss. And could another through the undertaking of the labor of her heart suspend this labor for a lullaby.
After a long while she slept. When she woke again the pilot was still passing her breath to her and to know to be so vigiled made her cry.
And you will find the same friend elsewhere though he go by a different name, dwell in a different country, jest in another tongue, there is the common manner of the face in which all are versant. Of evil men and women vile fear not, even if they hold you, wreathed Caesar once penned who after the bonetaker laid him low and forfeited an empire that all loss is equal should you live a thousand terms or perish on the first essay. Fear neither that evil men live beyond you or are triumphant for nothing can be fixed by breaking.
The cold damp contact of a kiss graced the child's cheek. She looked at Anaya.
Can I hold you?
Dachni was already in her arms but she nodded.
Anaya pulled her to her breast.
A morning showering I espied in the patterns splotching upon the cassiterite. In the light the drops exploding seemed winks of star birth, the lamp limning the rings that in their numbers propagated a thousand ascending surfs of clouds or tides that with vision's drift subsided towards the drain down which tide cloud eyeblink ring all vanished and yet without exhaustion of form for until the cessation of the water this void was perpetually filling and how like life bursting bright in the great slurring stream is this swirling into the maw of that ultimate sink that nevertheless is powerless against life for it is only an emptiness not the teeming source from which life proceeds.
She traced around the ungerminated hilum of a nipple. And this beautiful ring is you. How inadequate are ourselves in the expression of beauty but what travesty then if I could compass you with a word and yet like each heaving tide of those same aggregated rings this lament is supplanted for also how wonderful it is our recognition of the beautiful things and should we longer remain newer patterns would emerge and even after the conclusion of the shower will for when the water is cut off there will remain puddles sadly slowly evaporating on the canvas of life alone and denied the solace of the participating in the great ruckus of the dying tides. And were I to attach a rider to this tale I would condemn it pride the desire to arrogate all the rampant meaning of the world or to withhold it for everything is as complex as this showerfall and us drainbound souls seems watching aught in our transient awe be content to tender what meaning we can, however trite or profound, and let our fellows prove the rest.
But the stone was lodged.
A blue steel morning rained them. They watched the rain. The water overcame the barricades and spread towards the chancel black in the darkness over the face of Michael. Many days there will be rain. The water lapped at the altar steps. New leafage upturned like delicate cups twirled in the water. Little twig arks for bugs. A loon's nest. Small piping hatchlings among the remains of their eggs.
Anaya lifted it out of the water. What are you all doing out here? She turned to the child. They must have been blown out of their tree. Its strange too. They dont nest this far south. Do you want to see?
Dachni didnt want to see.
Well we cant leave them adrift.
Dachni turned and plucked a scrawny wetdowned piper out the nest and held its head under the water.
Anaya slapped her hand away and restored the hatchling to its nest. It sputtered and cried weakly. Anaya glared at her. Whats wrong with you? She rose and went away and came back with spiked tea and they blew into their mugs. Later still she set off into the rain on a mission more obscure and when she had gone from sight Dachni got up. She no longer had the cane. She took the stairs up to the ambulatory and shuffled along until she came to the belltower shaft. A staircase rose at right angles. She ascended to the belfry. An enormous bell hung from the yoke. Phosphor bronze. She shoved the muffled clapper against the bell lip in a sad toll of note over the world. She climbed over the short wall onto the roof. The dozens of pinnacles installed along the flank of the basilica towered over her crowned by saints and angels in cloaks of rain. But these were gone ages past and who are the saints in senectitude to be canonized in this age? What angels of terror with what scrolls and trumpet tongues and is it the horsemen deserted or the horsemen past? Faileth even them now. Slate shingles slippery underfoot angled steep and some missing so that the underlayment was visible. A gray sordid rag of country spread before her as though it had sopped up the scoria of true creation and trashed. She could see Matraple beyond the woods. The ever smaller units of its square constituency. She unwrapped her arm of gauze and looked at the triad of synclinal knife tracks meandering down her arm with their hints of vindictiveness and pleasure of self-pity. Three claymores wrist to elbow. Pale in their splitting and slightly translucent at the rims. She moved slowly down the roof to the promenade. As she closed upon it she saw the pilot below who had already seen her.
Dachni!
Anaya was coming back from the carport and she threw the suitcase she was carrying into the muck.
Dachni mounted the balustrade and sat down.
Anaya ran to the wall. Between the buttresses she seemed small and the child was taken aback to see her so dwarfed.
Dachni!
The buttresses divided from their piers and arced over the glass roof of the aisle to the level of her vantage. She peered down the lesene envisioning herself below. Would she be broken? Would she be distraught? Would it hurt. All her life was flowing through her now. Papa said Alessa, she said.
Alessa! shouted the pilot. Alessa what are you doing? Alessa go back inside.
Alessa stepped to the railing looked forlornly down. Her head shaking, cool rain salt by sorrow.
What happened? Tell me what happened.
Alessa shook her head slowly and whispered: No.
Go inside. Ill meet you inside.
No.
The pilot started towards the front of the basilica but before she had taken two steps she came back. Dachni!
For a long while she didnt say anything.
Ill come up. Ok Ill come to you. Just stay where you are.
She looked at the buttress. A terrace of stonework with a mausoleum or shrine to a dead adherent of the faith at each landing. She started up. Dachni stood again and then she knelt teetering on the balustrade. She held out her arms as if to take flight and she felt the cutting tear in her arm and her arm began to bleed and she lost her balance and grabbed the rail. She blinked at the blood. The vertigo had not been there before but now she felt a dizzying weariness. She stood again and sat down. She couldnt see the pilot below. And then she could as she surmounted the gabled roof of a shrine. When she reached that part of the buttress that flew off she walked through a crowd of petrified martyrs and hopped the balustrade.
Ok, she said. Im here.
Youre there, agreed the child.
The pilot took a step towards her. She held out her hand. The child blinked water out of her eyes.
Take my hand.
Dachni raised her hips and slid off the rail. A colder air enveloped her. The falling rain slowed to suspension. The drops in parallel one to another. The same steady velocity. Same slight kilter. Then they rushed past and fell far below. It felt like her scalp was lifting from her skull. She slammed against the wall and cried out in pain and then the pilot was hauling her up and holding her tight enough to pressed the breath from her lungs. The pilot was yammering frantically in aienee. It was: Varshokt hoi mikan fra paetri ikinii sae ko tae'fan li-kiaii. And on and on and in tears.
In the library the pilot broke out her stores a cognac distilled in honor of Maxence Jaccoud's ascension to the siŤge ťclairť, that Parisian seat that the tribunes monitor with fear, and which the roi had sent her along with invitations to tour his country and was assassinated two months after his coronation and his successor Marchelle had not renewed the invitation. The keeper of the time, the mantle clock, had not changed pace for any nor all miseries occurred that hour of which the viewer may warrant innumerable but is of number. A mudslide in El Cuenco interred half a favela. The hijack of a river junk in the Philippines. An Ethiopian famine. A thirteen hour siege in the budget office of Hempstead, New York ended with the surrender of six unrepentant members of the JTT, their tabloid trial to be broadcast as their electrification two months hence. A patricide in China escaped at last to the prison of old age when at his promotion to local dibao the outburst of his confession was met with disbelief. And he would die an honored man. And even in Harter that very second an infidelity was unraveling out of the mizmaze of graded truth and omissions. All small destructions of spirit. All light vanishing in the endless affirmation of outer dark.
The pilot filled two glasses and set one before the child. She sat conched in a velvet fleece comforter and her nauseous heartmeat bestrung in its veiny web retched a heavy horrid din in her hers. She took up the cup the pilot had poured and raised it quivering to her lips for in all her imbibing she had not learned it loosened tongues nor that men could speak what they themselves did not know they knew.
It aintent yourn study anyhows, she muttered in painful breathlessness at last.
The pilot turned swiftly, her eyes misgiving. Youve changed too. I hadnt thought you would speak first. But preemptive defense isnt offense.
Dachni regarded her over her cup rim. It atent yer study.
Of course it is. We kill at will. Can we not also save at will?
Ets no reckon.
The pilot rested her head on the mantle. She looked over her shoulder in that way exceeding the lateral movement of men that the aienee could do in likeness to birds. Your death is not your own. What rot is windfall to ravens can lose nothing. And so your death belongs to me. Its not something to reckon. Even animals tend their own.
Ye aint human.
Neither are you.
Dachni glared at her.
Even in that alienness we find solidarity. Empathy arises through commonality. The closer the origins, the hotter the crucible, the greater the bond but this empathy decreases the greater the distance between agents because howsoever similar our beginnings our choices are our divergences. Lest we are bound by covenant we stray apart in such a state as we are now imperiled. Because you imperil me in choosing death. You shear me away and there is nothing I could give you because you are no longer. You dont think we have an obligation to one another?
Are ye fuckin serious?
Of course.
Everybody's eating each other.
Unlike us.
Dachni didnt answer. She sipped from her cup and set it on the table. Ye aint never seed a bear eat its bearlins?
No. And neither have you.
But they do it.
Are we bears?
Yer talkin noncess.
Even a cannibal might not forsake the possibility of a dialogue.
Whats cannibal?
A cannibal is someone who eats people.
Ye doan talk ta food.
Thats right. So dont make people your food.
Dachni shook her head. Its nah howta say. Its happens. Ye seen it. Ye go anywheres of folk of want an theyll sink teeth on ye bone. Ored go anywhere an folks fighteds out an piece inta fields an rumor say it them flowers an trees is eat dead inta ground an ifn ya eat em ya eat people anyway.
Who was the source of the rumor?
Enna bar.
Well. Its not a rumor. Thats decomposition. At death cells break down and the proliferation of necrophagic colonies consume us. Plants do the same, absorbing the dead through their roots. And any carnivore who happens by is welcome to the meat.
So is right!
No.
Howta hell not?
Because people are not dead. Howsoever flesh is esteemed as fine cloth whether muslin or silk or charmeuse it is mere cloth. Beauty resides it but that truth is in the surface alone. There is a depth to us deeper than our osseous architecture. Deeper than the marrow. Theres truth also to that framework but it is a truth invested in itself and penetrates no deeper. The overflowing soul coats it in itself where it derives any meaning at all. A man who loses an arm cannot be thought to be less but the extinction of a man divests the world of a world. All the tragic happenstance that conspires us to excellence or vice, the rhapsodical whirlwind of instinct staved by the rational nail, the holy tedium, venial folly, usurped triumph and achieved defeat, poetic intellect. The grand richness of wit lack and humor and greatest of all the will. A body vacated of such grandeur cannot be called living. And yet the form is the representation of life. A corpse decayed is the natural process by which the earth is replenished but to hollow out the breathing torso, to greed the skin and glut on the organs of increase, that is the crowning horror desolate to the host for which all bespoken is allegory.
Ya eat Jesus.
Catholics eat Jesus. I refrain. In any case the sacrament has nothing to do with me.
He doan keep howed anyways. Jesus dont.
No, he doesnt.
Nothin keeps. Ye dinnint.
Im here arent I?
Tells Jesus es always here.
The pilot searched their rococo confines. What do you think?
He aint here.
Was he ever here?
No. Ye can tell whens a folk is in a room an they aint no tell on him.
Youve turned quite apostate.
True aint blasphemy.
He exists though.
Course does.
What do you think he would say?
Who gives a shit?
You wouldnt be interested in hearing a god opine?
Do what?
Give opinions.
What would the matter? He caint do nothin no more than nobody else.
Even if he were here.
He aint never come down.
Then how did people know of him?
Dachni didnt answer.
Do you think hes scared?
Dachni looked at a tall oil mural. Gray haired harrowed giant with enormous erection masticating a human torso all red at the eaten edges. Wouldnt be no blame to be. Across from the infanticidist was another in likeness, a naked lunatic at feed his own fly hounded genitals trying to copulate with the extricated womb of his victim. Whos that?
Thats for you.
Who is it?
Thats Viakki Yel Caidsii. An avatar of Yandvilai. Its no god of suicide but of rampant and insatiable hungering.
He looks it.
Was yesterday the hardest day of your life?
No.
What day was?
Well drowned.
When your father threw you in the well.
Aye.
Well. He drowned himself.
It prolly isnt true.
No it isnt. Dont you want to find him?
Dachni shook her head. Dont care no more.
Well. Im here still.
Yell fuck off at the suit.
What is the ox liver's forecast? Ill not argue, I protest Ill not again.
Ye will. An better the soon is does.
The better to confirm your beliefs of me.
Yer only you.
True, I am myself. And we are all ourselves. All unfortunate reflections of the same unintermediated infinite, the same aspectual manifestations that by the mere virtue of existence refers back to its origins, that wellspring from which gods and mortals alike owe common ancestry so that the signified and the signifier coexist in the same entity. Spiegel Im Spiegel. Seelen in Seelen.
No souls.
When did you learn German?
No souls.
No god?
Dachni shook her head.
For all that he cares.
An a shit neither.
Well. I dont think thats true. I think your god is a king of shattered bones tacked to a rotted unpieced tree from which he was never able to descend. I believe he thought he had it in him to do so but when the time came lacked the strength. Because he was only a step between the high forms and the meditative age of Apostolic dominion. At the dawn of the renaissance it was over for the begotten revolution of science reared upon its roots and waylaid them totally with their rabid reductionalism. God understood his children would rebel, what he could not foresee was that they would win. Or refused to see.
What about Ntzni?
Pride disbanded the Epiinymos but even they were not so foolish as to arrogate the sole right to create to themselves nor did Ntzinieyii allow us indulge in that fantasy neither. Which is the difference between our geneses. Theres the same cautionary tales, the same anthropomorphism of nature, the same litanies of illness, nation rise sick and fall. Whats different is that we are forced to acknowledge the naked horror of our sordid origins without claims of favor or transcendancy, no claim that all is right with the world where you, you must ever confront the grotesque rottenness of your species and scrounge about in its muck searching for glints of some illusory history that never was and future that will never be. You predicate worth upon gods but what has the divine to do with the mundane? A god dispelled of personality and presence and reality, reduced to a value hierarchy is bereft its organizing force. A god begins time. And we can all claim to live under the reign of that time.
An Yandi? What woulds say your ta him?
See me not.
He sees ye. Done seened him. Hes here. Ye caint take him back.
No. You cant. But theres something else that perhaps even Yandvilai cannot stop. Maybe.
What?
Tolstoy writing on martial affairs criticized the misappropriation of physics by military science when calculating fighting strength. He said what ever lacked in the equation consisting of force and mobility and technology and supply was a mysterious unquantifiable variable that was the spirit of the army. But what he had not realized, perhaps afraid to realize, was that the focus of science in all its pursuits and permutations has been to reduce that variable to zero. That variable which is the divine element.
Ye said there was no divine.
I never said that. I asked what impact had the lack.
But ye said...
Call it the will.
Fine.
In any case success is always near at hand because it is believed to be at hand. But moreover because it is a pleasure to crush a man. In breaking a man the misanthrope replicates himself like a virus raping a cell. As though he were converting a bitter enemy to his number. In their specious moralizing they deem themselves immune to this cruelty and of course decry it the moment that cruelty turns upon themselves but in truth many escape to death satisfied that they have effected great good in the world. Some cornered take refuge in the mock of suicide and it can be done. Rare is the man who will not break. Those who dont are oft enough spared by the laziness or disinterest of their tormentors. But thats not what brought you to the jump.
Et esent your sayed. He aint cared shit longed tist tides. Whats ta do with that? Ifn god dont want ye whats of point? What can ye say?
The pilot regarded her sternly. Who says it matters? Who says it matters? Were here. Theyre not. Were here in their playground. Im not giving anyone the satisfaction of watching me keel over like a dog. The apathy of gods is not too great a burden. It can be lifted. And it can be set down. The choice is up to you to do what thou wilts with the weight. Throwing it down on those around is easy. Learning to bear it. You bear it with your soul. I wouldnt try to make god care. That only makes things worse. I dont know what total rejection from god would do to you but I wouldnt let it kill me.
Itd kill ye.
Or make you kill others. Thats the difference between us. I destroy whats outside of me. You destroy yourself. But neither is a solution.
Solves some problems.
Since when do you speak in spite? Learn to live without gods.
Ye mean turn atheist.
I mean learn to accept youre not wanted and in such acceptance go your way. I dont say it wouldnt be a torment but what else would you do?
Ye caint dopt nobody elses gods.
On the contrary.
Ye still got folks.
No, said the pilot shaking her head. Im like you. But you have a mother.
Shes dead.
I am not.
Ye aint mothered. Aint a mother.
I am if youll let me.
No.
You dont want a mother?
No.
Do you have any regrets?
No.
And a father?
It doesnt matter.
If it wasnt the evacuation of god from the world what was it then?
Whats what then?
What happened that made you want to kill yourself?
Decided happened.
Youve never decided anything in your life.
Plenties cyded.
Example.
Dachni cast about the room as though her history were in some part contained in it.
This is first.
The first decision in your life and you decide to kill yourself.
Dachni narrowed her eyes.
You dont find that strange?
Does ye?
What unbalanced the scales?
Sake magle. Sayge sake....Say aike. Say right.
Why decide to kill yourself? What was your reasoning?
Dachni wandered her eyes to the floor. She didnt answer.
I am surprised.
Thasts a lie.
Its not. Ere the ponderer can ponder his place he must first conceive the place.
Hells that mean?
A cat will lay down to die in the wilderness but youd be hard pressed to find any member of felis hurling itself in front of a bus. Suicide is ultimately an act of abstracting the self into oblivion. An understanding, however primitive, must be possessed of history's depth else you could not fathom to snuff yourself from the future. And so I find my own self incredulous as to your claim. You traversed the desert and at the first oasis attempted to drown yourself in a waterhole. And yet what reason could have prompted you? Maybe your intellect is inadequate to such articulations of logic but I dont believe that. I believe in the insufficiency of a suspicion. You are distaff of a proud lineage of logicians that however excitable never moved without a foundation in reason. Too much. They might jump off a bridge but not without being sure theyd hit pavement and that headfirst.
Hahta hell is ye knowed anythin.
I talked to Catherine.
Ta fuck for?
To obtain a portrait of you.
Tih fucked a would pictured for?
Not that kind of a picture. Not a drawing.
Who ell said ye of drawings?
There is no picture. I meant a psychological profile. Childhood anecdotes. I wanted to know what you were like before we met.
Yer crazied.
Is it crazy to think you didnt exist before I met you? That I could evoke you out of darkness absolute? No. Nor is it crazy to want to know more about you.
An ye went o ta wrong person. Ye caint rust nothin that sunuvabitch says.
Yes, so I must listen to what she didnt say.
Dachni swiped her cup from the table and drank. What were her said?
Not much. And there was a dinner and a long look out the window before I got that out of her. She doesnt drink you know.
Where is she?
With her father.
An wheres he?
In the grad.
What wus her say?
She said you werent her sister.
An him? The dad?
He said you werent his daughter.
Dachni's face made a pained twitch. She finished her drink and stared at the raised ring in the bottom of the cup.
She aint yer fuckin sister neither.
Half-sister.
Aint either.
She said the same but shes still your sister.
She doan think so.
It doesnt matter what she thinks.
Well she done said fucked it.
No. She said that but its not all she said. She did come around. I thought it would have been Henry.
Who?
Henry. Her father.
Whatd he say else?
Not much.
What?
You dont want to hear it.
Cause its true. Its jess him more about sayin not wantin people.
Yes.
So then say it.
He presented me with a formal disestablishment of paternity and went on to lay out quite meticulously the case that he had never been an equitable parent.
Thats it?
Yes. He left the apartment afterwards.
An Cathy?
Anaya got the bottle and relocated to the couch and refilled the child's glass and poured her own cup full. In the end Cathy said you could never understand people because you never believed they existed. I told her it wasnt existence you doubted but substance. I told her it wasnt others you doubted but yourself.
Thats crazy.
Are you cold?
Ye could say a fire on.
Does your arm hurt?
Hurts ta hell.
How are you?
Will ye put on a fire?
Dachni.
What?
Say your name.
Dachni turned suspicious.
Denying thyself cannot insulate that self from injury. Look at yourself. It hasnt worked.
What?
You never reference yourself. And now youve take it to its logical conclusion. But therein lies the paradox. How can a self nonextant commit suicide which is the annihilation of the self? How can a thing that doesnt exist have community? Have companionship?
Yer talkin crazy.
Who are you?
Ye done said.
But what did you say.
Yer you.
Dachni clawed uneasily at her ear until blood ran from her hair. What else did she say?
Catherine?
What makes you think she spoke beyond that?
Cause she did. Whatd she say?
Anaya listed. You dont want to hear. Lets get back to you.
She said. What is it.
Why do you want to hear it?
Cause shes sister, sneered the child.
Its only...
Only bad. Done knowed that.
She didnt say it thinking Id relay it to you. It was a private conversation.
Tell.
You want me to tell you the worst so you can go on hating her.
No. Want ta hear the truth.
The pilot rubbed her face. She prays for your death. She visits the Lady of Our Ascension every Sunday and implores the mater to abandon her role.
Esent tat ta fuckin news.
Shell get over it.
She alwees hated everbuddy.
Did you hate me?
Everone hated you.
Did you hate me?
Dachni drank. The two soulless vacancies in her skull were fixed on her.
I dont believe that, said the pilot.
Ont no cares bout nobody but theyselves.
Then why arent we killing each other constantly?
Who aint? An its groups. An ye caint do it constant ye gotta breath in tween the fights but it dont mean folk aint thinkin it out knuckles.
Were in a period bloodier than most and will grow bloodier yet, but this isnt true the world over. Right now in the grad there is an exhibition of the neosurrealist Edger Sobel at the St. Francis Art Museum. Belgium has an eight percent poverty rate. You cannot presuppose homogeneity in a system even if there are averages. τόδε γὰρ καὶ εἴσι.
Seen nuff. Doat wun nothin doned weth ets. Folks ky same jess one gets it. An efn does mean she dont an then a murder sneak rings outta nowhere an stales it with a knife.
You know what youre describing?
Life.
War. Life isnt war. Life isnt suffering either. Life is life. And suffering is suffering and joy is joy.
Lifes fallin outta deaths an back to it.
Let me ask you this: Is it your belief that death negates meaning?
What?
Do you think meaning is impossible because of death?
Dachni couldnt understand. She shook her head. Well ye shut up? Yer the ones what worded.
And youve a way with Words.
That aint yer real say. Yeve got other says.
Ill not say those says to you.
Why?
Because Im trying to pull you out not get you in deeper.
She sipped her brandy as though to demystify the subjects at hand but all they did was grow more muddled. Whats meanin?
Anaya's face made a funny twitch. Sorrow and pride. She joined her hands at the palm blades and fanned her talons and the hands again in a gesture of encompassing. Theres your genius. And isnt that the question? What does meaning mean? How is it defined? And what its reference? Is it a locality to be visited? A reservoir to be tapped? Anaya bowed her head. She lifted the bottle but rethinking put it down again and covered the mouth as thought blessing it. Were I to confess myself. She took up the bottle then hastily and downed many drams in a balloon of cheeks and air rush up through the draining spirit. History is predicated upon us. In part. But what of the nonactor? What of the inert? No. There cannot be such a thing. Even the littlest crumb under shade of grass performs its role. Does meaning butt the object? A subject is also an object. Ject means to throw. Ob means inversely. To throw upon oneself. The object objectifying the subject. The subjects rejecting their objectification. If I had to contest. Id say what manner of narcissist in the acme of onanism could through what solipsistic recursiveness delude so illegitimate a conclusion as to pronounce the self justifies the self. What justification could there be of trivial an existence delimited by time. What hope could such fragile trifles harbor? A brick in time's wall. At best this sensation of purpose is an evolutionary development akin to the thorn to delay reason's onset that instinct may bring us to procreation ere reason obliges us to self-slaughter. I am that I am.
Dachni slouched like a puppet. Yer purtied as a voice. But it aint...it aint...
Yours the prettier and the music of my ears. Youll be a singer of a day.
Never reckon so.
Ill teach thee sweet melodies. I long to do so. But your question. What is meaning? In that way certain phenomena defy physics and so defy intelligibility things occur that defy meaning. Because they do not permit life. Today is the second centennial of the subsumption of Portugal by Spain. What followed the conquering is called Lamento da M„e, because Portugal was the aggressor spurned on by Madre Nelinha Cabral. She escaped with her entire family to Canadian asylum. She lost not even a cousin. Her descendants are alive today all vocal advocates of Portuguese independence. From Ontario. For their abandoned supporters every male over twelve, every female over ten was executed. Of course the dragon reales killed everyone they could get their hands on. Nineteen million. Can you even call that a crime? Its reported that the amount of ash was equal to that of Heard's '84 eruption. It was such a shock that the survivors rather than attribute meaning to the slaughter preferred instead to deny it significance altogether and to this day there is not a single church in the province in repair no matter the investments by Rome. They did name it. The survivors called it Drenaje. The FDR called it Impuestos. But parents would rather inter their children in dead earth rather than lay them upon the pyre of a god. Because meaning, however horrific, carries a connotation of goodness, and because god is so often mistakenly conflated with meaning the backlash is against him. But for all the overpowering sensation of purpose yet meaning's rim is ever and anon haunted by the whispering slaver of futility. There are none more susceptible to this than professors but even strong men quail. But it must be this way. Were meaning an artifact exhibited at a carnival for the foolish to annually mock the educated would be most assured but it is its very insecurity from which any meaning is derived at all. For meaning is the tensive root that feeds on the grave. And is no reservoir. Nor the sunlight synthesized by the soul. Because it cannot be reduced to a process thought a process occur. My great fear is that it cannot be lost. For the risk must be run. There must be some souls who in wretchedness and despair dissolve the bands of common fellowship and with their deadened eyes forsake life. But not you. Not you.
Dachni shook her hung head. Theys too much. Too much.
Suffering.
Aye.
Anaya turned her gaze to the replica of the judgment and Charon and the snaked scarfed elfear. Let me ask you. Those girls in the mountains.
Dachin's face gave a mean twitch. What about em?
Do you feel sorry?
Fer what?
Anaya took up the bottle and drank.
What?
Suffering is with you.
An also with you.
Yes.
Ye wunnint reckon et too much?
I must be careful how I speak of this. Everyone suffers.
Meat be everun aughted die.
Wrong answer. Youve suffered inordinately but youve also brought much suffering to others.
Never evilled nobody.
Is that true?
Is.
Do you really believe that?
Dachni set down her drink and thought hard and at the end nodded her head. Yes. Never ded no hurt.
I can think of a few times.
Like what?
Anaya didnt answer.
Ye know mebbe yers wrongs. Itd be great a more happy that way.
You dont think anyone would weep if you were gone?
You wouldnt.
Anaya looked aggrieved.
Ye might.
Of course I would.
Nobody hives a damn now hows gonna gived ifs gone? An deaths is all inda end.
For everyone.
Ferred aye.
What about god?
He dont own no fucks.
I care.
Who cares?
Im not god but isnt that something.
Aint.
Why does god have to care?
If god doan care hows anyone gonna else? Whatre ye gointa say ta him? Hes wrong? Yer smart but even ye aint god.
Scream his wrong. Rail like a breechlock all thy words. If your landlord disavows his property does it mean the tenets must also? Can they not discover the proper running of a complex? Are we not the caretakers of this drifting obloid?
Fuck this shithole. Aint nobody gonna cry an it gone.
Id cry.
Ye'd be dead.
Id cry.
An wouldnt a damn be.
No one has to give a damn. No one has to do anything.
Then why cry hell? Why hell cry?
Because we choose to. We have the choice. And I for you. For you for you you contumacious little heartbeat. Theres a richness in you. A raspy quirk, a singularity of tongue. Every word a triumph. The small kindnesses. You woke me up in a halo of flowers. A cold night of us together has warmed me many nights alone. Who wouldnt grieve over the bones of those?
None.
The world needs you.
Everyone dies.
Everyone is born.
Ets emptied out.
People?
Aye.
Theres nothing in us?
Gutty parts. Hasent meanin even if is yer meanin.
What possesses value may bequeath and receive the same. Can steal it away.
Never said was worthed nothin. An ye aint nothin. Nothin ever was nothin. Cold agyed tever. Folg can ay ever.
Why correct speech if all is meaningless? Why exchange one babble for another? Why should it matter if youre understood unless you desire to be understood? The very passiveness of language's acquiring grounds it in the community of the biological. It speaks to a yearning to belong.
No.
If anyone can say anything what gives veracity to your unrespected say? Or say your true ifn ye is of worth.
What?
The pilot reached out to the child and the child shrank away shrieking.
No touches! No touches!
Why not? We speak why not touch? Listen you are not all that is real.
Dachni hid herself under the fleece. No! No! No! No! No!
The pilot took her gently by the arm and the child flapped the other in dismay, screaming like a bereaved banshee.
Calm down, said the pilot. Calm down.
It took a good minute. Her tear drenched face and snot drenched lips. Looking as though she could not place how she had gotten there. The pilot wiped her face with a sleeve.
Thats enough.
Noooo touches, choked the child. Nooo.
But the pilot massaged her scalp. Dachni rolled her head low and dropped back down into the hot fabric and hid herself. The pilot pulled wide the little opening at the top.
You dont think community is possible.
No, she wailed.
Then why bother knowing the people around you?
Go wayyyyyy.
Why talk to them?
Dessent wanna talk! she squalled. Ets you! Go way! Goway! Goway! Nobody asked yer help! Nobody wants ye round! All ye do balb an noise an wakes et all worse! Whats us yer want? Goway!
She slumped weakly down. The pilot refilled her glass but the child pushed it away at the proffer.
Why are you angry at me?
Auggie gef. Ause irr orkented. She tried clarifying her insults but the tunnel of her throat was raw and desolate of salt and all that would come out was a moist choking.
The pilot rewrapped her in the comforter and they sat a long while listening to the stutter of the clock hands. Dachni began to cry again. The pilot laid down on the couch, her head in the child's lap. The child regained a measure of composure and placed her hands on the pilot's face.
Would ye keep a life as this? she said.
I kept a life as yours. Am trying to.
Thats you.
Its us. Were in the same place.
Yer here.
You dont think things can improve?
Ye said morrows better but hassint been a tomorrow wasnt high ghast.
I believe you told me that.
Ye said it.
Theres been no betterment?
No.
Then what have I been doing?
Dont know.
Why do you want to die?
How came ye wanna live?
Because hell is entered through death, not the other way around. You worship Yandvilai.
Aye.
Yandvilai co-rules Iphsisavios with another and we never know what this being is. If you approach this from the perspective of literature you could argue that Yandvilai's betrothed is never known because you never know what your wrongdoing is wedded to. Or how wrong your wrong is. Yandvilai is no good god Dachni. Thats the god of ravenous betrayal. Keep that in mind.
What did ye say happins when ye die?
You are dragged down to Iphsisavios if thats your worship.
But its not a real real place.
The pilot leaned close. Nay. I was made there. But thats another world. Lets be concerned with here. Here for all the tragedy and mishap life is worth living and it is us who can make it worthwhile. I dont speak of the outweight of pleasure over suffering neither advocate the spartan existence adequate but the beauty imbued in the world, the art of the artifice. Youll never escape this hell if you run from it. You want to throw yourself off a cathedral and splat on the stonework and theyll bury you in the earth out which youll arise a day to suffer anew. And Yandvilai has not complete dominion over this world. Hell is a pit without abyss, you never will get free.
Life aint everlasted.
Hell everlasts.
Dachni reckoned this true.
So you go to hell and being tormented at every turn you decide the only means of escape is to throw yourself onto the pikes of your torturers? And youre utterly bereft of curiosity as to why youre here. Or why anyone is here.
Esent no revel out. Its the world way.
I dont think so. I think you traveled to the floor of the pit ere you were ready and when you came back up your eyes were clouded over with the curdled dross that wheresoever you cast your sight you could only see through the pit blood. You plastered your own mask over reality and sealed off every glint of light until it was walled off completely. Evil is everlasting true enough but so is goodness.
Yer sayin thes esent hell.
No. Im saying whether or not this is hell is irrelevant because its proper addressment isnt venesection.
Why care if god dont care? Dachni punctuated her stammered words with blows ladled upon her knees.
Because the relevancy of gods is immanely overstated. Their potency is show. Potency is power.
Gommorans mighta told diffint.
Gomorrah laughed. There is no level of depravity that cannot be subsidized by technology. But wherefore art thou god's apologist? Youre apostate.
Says who?
You want to die.
Dyin aint blasphemy.
You cant profess to be a follower if you cant abide by the pillars of the faith. What about the injunction against suicide?
Esent commandemented.
Murder of the self. And if each carries in himself the divine then self-slaughter is a slander of that divine. The triad of celestial attributes do fall short. You know what I think?
Dachni shook her head. Dont care, she whispered.
Thats not good enough. Meaning and meaninglessness coexist but the geometry of creation is uncentered, wherein even the outermost edge of the nexus is yet a locus complete. The elemental stuff possesses an intrinsic potentiality but it is us sentient who attribute or bereave them of meaning. Suppose a child is gifted a watch on his birthday which he carries round his life. One day walking along an avenue he espies a young boy and being an old man bequeaths the watch upon this urchin. Now the old man has only given the watch but not its history which the watch cannot communicate aside through hints in its physical appearance. But say the old man kept the watch free, what story would there be to tell? In relinquishing the watch he divests it of its history that yet exists. Its incommunicability renders it devoid of meaning to any casual passerby but to the recipient he immediately confers upon it his own meaning independent of its history, whatever it may be, be it profound, be it trite. In this way the world is sustained.
Dachni clutched her heart for an offtune twang.
Throw the watch away.
A watch discarded and forgotten can be said to be shorn of some essence for a watch both keeps time and tells it and that informative act requires another. Unless we argue the hands move of their own accord, that the culmination of background labor to move the swing has purpose and nobility beyond the craftsman. That we reject the necessity of the witness. We can lose our meaning even if we believe in our meaning. Things can become meaningless. Can fall apart. But if they do why even commit suicide? All your pain and anguish cease to be intelligible. How can you claim even to be in pain rather than subject to electrochemical reactions? You descended too soon. Because youre supposed to travel the verboten roads ere you are ready but not so unready as you are. You must prime your unreadiness. I think you glimpsed the immaculate nadir of the pit. The mere tide. I wont say you stood at the shore. Life can worsen far beyond anything youve seen. Ive swam that tide and broke the surf and come back and I dont plan to wade in again. The fallacy of Gomorrah is that people derive the misconception that evil is inherently self-destructive but thats a fable. Goodness is eradicated as much as evil. Perhaps even more. The question is with whom do you align yourself with. Evil men abide the law where the law is supreme and good men will stuff children into ovens in the black years. Which is to say that there is in the neuter denizenry of the swayed wastes an opportunistic lean quite procrustean. But those neutrals are shades we must be beyond. Who would abandon his brother to hell? I would not even forsake Catherine what makes you think I would forsake you?
You like her better.
Catherine.
Everone does.
I dont think so. Shes like you.
Esent.
Shes like you.
How?
She doesnt have any friends.
Dachni glared at her.
Shes a freshman at St. Paul Regional. She attends no parties, eats lunch alone. No sports, no clubs, no friends. Shes quit the church. Her favorite singer is Ellis Lee. she leads an excruciatingly lonely life. But when I asked about her grades she showed me her report card. There was a near flawless fake defiance in the presentation masking over the underlying desire to impress. Impress without disdain. Impress to gain acceptance. Her scars have made her insecure, the same as theyve done to you and your mountain rearings have left you both unprepared for communal life. But for all her social awkwardness shell be alright. I convinced her to make friends with a country girl also rather lonesome. Do you know what she said?
Dont care.
She said she wouldnt know what to say. I told her just to ask if she could eat with her. That if nothing else it would get her started.
Shell fuck it up. Shes that stupid.
Shes not. And youre not.
Ye does like her more.
Thats a monumental misjudgment.
Ye went ta her. Not to...not to...
Not you.
No.
But that isnt true.
Is soed.
Far from truth. Why didnt you take the phone? I could have been to the hostel in two hours. I would have taken you here. Or taken you anywhere.
Dachni finished her brandy. She wiped her face with her wrist. But ye dinint.
Delivered in such bitter spite that Anaya reared up and snatched the glass from her and flung it. It exploded against a column in a shard mist. Indurate belligerent! I talked to everyone. I looked everywhere! Everywhere you went I was on the heel and you flew me. I reasoned tis best shes afforded thinking time. Time to decide. To choose if we aught meet again in this life. Do you understand? I adore you you illiterate thorn! Every day you were gone you were the haunt of my thoughts. My dreams were plagued by the absence of you. Ive suffered ceaseless dread. You complain of rejection but refuse me! Why? What havent I given you? Am I so trifling as to warrant no notice? Why wont you have me? Why? I demand answer. Speak! Untangle thy tongue and speak!
Dachni cowered in terror.
Ive made sacrifice to your despicable god. I have debased myself. Compromised my authority, ruined my finances. Ived climbed mountains, been shot, been knifed, gone hungry, abandoned my home, forsook my crew and you think a visit means Catherine holds the greater of my favor than you? How many have fallen dead in order to protect you? What warped disregard could convince you I dont care? Are you an idiot? Are you fully devoid of perception? Answer me!
Dachni withdrew further into her blankets.
Anaya sank back down to the couch. After a minute she looked at the child. Im not sorry.
Dachni looked forlornly out at her. Will go, she whispered softly.
No. Youre not going.
Will go ifn ye want.
You fucking idiot I dont want you to leave. Just because Im angry doesnt mean I want you to leave.
Whats mean then?
Vaik Aiani. It means I want you to to acknowledge the things that have been done for you.
Never asked none of it done though. Why isnt caint ye unnerstand? Yer always scary an never say not to do somethin cause then yell get mad an yell an its scary.
Im not going to hurt you.
But ye has an plenty done.
Im sorry.
An prolly is.
Do you think Im a lie?
No.
Do you think Im lying to you?
No.
Are you ok?
No.
And you still want to kill yourself?
Dont know.
Well what makes you want to?
Theys no goodness.
You dont feel a connection to anything?
Not really.
Not to me?
To you some aye. But only you.
Not even the dead.
They doan matter.
Of course they matter. And the living matter.
Deaths...
What?
To everyone. Ye used ta lieve it. Hell ye as much gived it preach.
Not anymore. Listen to me. So long as you have just one link isnt that worth keeping alive? Consider the quality of the link. Youre not alone. I care for you. I always have, I always will. Did you ever have someone say that to you?
No.
And you believe me?
Kinded maybe.
Anaya put an arm around her. Youre a half starved abused eleven year old of course youre scared but Im not going to let anyone hurt you. I swear it.
Ye caint bring that true. An ye know it.
Ill try. I promise that.
Yeve promised lots.
Ive kept my word.
Not all of it.
As much as I could. Listen would you move?
Offa sofa?
To another country. I can relocate my crew right now. We could go to Buenos Aires of Cincinnati or Hokkaido or Yellow Knife or anywhere. Would you go?
It wouldnt change nothin. It aint about place. Its about the world.
At least somewhere else you wouldnt have to look at the ugliest part of it.
Thass juss bein blind.
Then will you stay with me?
She shook her head. It aint gonna git better.
You dont believe that.
You dont know.
I know youre scared but we dont give up. We dont. I havent and youve come this far. Ill ask one more try from you. One more try. Just one more. Ill do all I can to help. Ok? One more try.
Its...
Its not too much.
Would ye wanna die if ye were loned?
Yes. But I wouldnt. Because if you died the only thing that would be left of you is my memory of you. Id have to live. Id have to live so you wouldnt fade away.
Dont say that.
Its true. Its how I feel.
Its too much. Dachni held her arms straight out. The angry puckered scars bright maroon. Look.
Youre beautiful.
Yer crazy.
No Im not.
Thess esent pretty. Its hiddiess.
The pilot clasped her bare shoulders. No horror. Glorious beauty.
Yer fuckin crazy!
These are the signs of you. They never diminished your beauty. This is only an enhancement.
Ets all fuckin apart.
Then well hold on to what we can. And if nothing is left to hold to then well fall together.
The pilot sank her fangs into the middle talon of her right hand and tore it out. She held up the dripping talon. If youre going down, she said. Im going with you.
It wont be ok.
I dont care. I dont care what happens. Im sticking with you.
Will ye promise?
Upon forfeit of my word my name my title, all belongings, every vessel that contracts the fabric betwixt the stars.
Dachni wiped her face.
The pilot sealed a bond with a kiss. Can we go to sleep? Im exhausted.
Dachni nodded. Was aimt fer that, she said. But ye snatched out the hair.
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  #202  
Old 05-28-2018, 02:37 PM
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All after Dachni found herself under peculiar scrutiny. The pilot seeking some flaw in her disposition that would permit further intervention. When she ate. When she napped. She did these two things and walk between the stations and the former almost not at all. The melancholy in the observing disconcerted her to no small degree and she kept to her room but that evening in the deepest of her drowsiness the pilot came to her bed.

She said: I have discovered the feint.

Dachni with cheek to her pilot looked up at her. You fainted? she said sleepily. How come?

The pilot pulled the blankets up to her chin and spread her hands across her forehead and bones ever cold slipped round her head like a crown of knuckles. Dachni drifted. Formless not into the valley but a pale green hollow in the shape of a sphere and shelled round by sable weathers perturbed by desire. A gravity towed the child slowly towards a flawless pinprick throbbing red that the seething bordure slavered over itself to reach it. The shell was as a liquid egg through which creatures precipitated in such number that from afar they looked like rain. Dachni saw how living rivers charged towards the speck only to be dammed at their source by jaws that moments later were cleaved by the mandibles of other beats and saw a cancer of limbs crushed and how the showers of entrails and blood sped away insects in swarms and lightning rip through them and how they subsided upwards burnt and lifeless into angry resurrection. And she saw a spur of that dark surface explode into a phantasmagoria of beasts of every description winged things of flinty glass and powdery beings doe shy and fleet and she saw the weathers drip leviathans into being with their sick fins so mawked through by parasites, moaning in want, and how their drool became as anusless worms that gorged upon their host until their swollen nethers burst in frenzied swarms of winged cannibals howling like kamikazes towards their aim. Through this chaos Dachni proceeded unmolested. Her velocity increased every moment and she aw that the red mote was an orb that grew to enormous proportions. It glowed buts it light did not touch her or anything and she knew dimly that her shadow did not fall upon it not its upon her and she realized there was no shadow and in that realization something latched to her and dragged her back.

Dachni woke. The pilot was above her again or still and she was rubbing her back. Dachni let go her pillow and rolled over sniffling.

Hello little one.

Wadda yun want?

Do you want to go to Harter with me?

She did not so want. She had wet the bed and she wanted to shower and to change and she did. She saw the pilot out. A late gray morning. Delicate snow falling. Standing in the gateway the pilot asked again.

Why dont you come with? Change your scenery a little.

Wanna stay home.

The pilot smiled kindly. Im not fooled by the deceit. You wouldnt like a little fresh air?

No.

The pilot's sigh sustained her robes about her. Are you going to be ok alone?

Itll all be fine.

The pilot hesitated. Concern plain in her. Ill be gone a few hours.

Ye been gone some seasons. Itll be ok.

I left your breakfast on the table.

Thankey.

The pilot went out. Five seconds later she reappeared. You know what? Why dont we go out for brunch. Theres a good diner youd like.

Esent hungry.

You might get hungry.

No.

Dachni.

Etll be fine. Aint gonna...aint gonna do nothin. Gonna go back tuh sleep.

You can sleep on the way. After Im done we can go swimming.

Its too cold.

They have an indoor pool.

Anaya nothins gonna happen.

The pilot walked on her knees to where she sat and hugged her tightly. Are you sure youre going to be alright?

Itll be alright.

The pilot rose. Her hand trailing in her own. Ill be back soon. You wait for me. Ok?

Ok.

She went out. She heard her talons digging into the gravel. Heard the truck start. It pulled up before the gates. The window rolled down. Are you sure you dont want to come?

Dachni nodded. Itll be ok.

Im sorry I left you. I wish hadnt.

Its ok. Everthings ok.

Anaya leaned out of the window. Youre my soul you know. Ill be home in two hours. I promise. Promise me youll be here when I get back.

Dachni didnt promise.

Anaya got out and held her face. Promise please.

But she couldnt promise.
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  #203  
Old 06-08-2018, 09:47 PM
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Dachni watched the truck pull out onto the road. She shut the gates each in turn and went back into the nave.

On the tread of the second stair up to the ambulatory festered a fat circlet of a scab. The way it was colored it appeared as though an infected wound were eclipsing a pale sun of pus. She couldnt tell if it had percolated up through the marble or if it had only been laid down but she didnt dare touch it to discover which. In the kitchen the drawers were emptied of anything sharp. Plastic utensils flanked her plate of eggs and grits.

Dachni spat. Wasnt gonna do nothin.

But her heart was gagging on spider's venom and the diastole seemed loathe to pass this blood out its chambers. She went to her room. The pilot had thrown baking soda on the mattress and the blankets were in the washing machine. She pulled up her chair and sat for a long while on it. Then she got up and went to the corner where the mosin nagant leaned. Heavy in her hands. She sat on the chair. A pressure was building in her chest. All the scars upon her body, would there not be some upon her heart? She threw the bolt forward again and put the stock on the floor and the barrel in her mouth and looking to the side fitted her big toe against the curve of the trigger and pushed. The bolt shot forward. Dachni fought down her gorge. She swung the rifle into her lap and ejected the round and chambered another and replaced the barrel in her mouth and pulled the trigger again and the bolt slapped in a dull metallic clang against the flared barrel rim. She threw the rifle down taking her gasps in huge convulsions. She knocked the chair over as she rose. She staggered back to the bed and collapsed in a plume of soda, clutching her fiery heartruin, burning burning burning, withered lorn burning through her.

Muh-muh, she coughed. She moaned, trying to force her voice to make the words. Her tiny fists pounded the mattress. Engghhh. Innnngh. Muh...muhhhh. At last she burst out.

Mommy! Moooomy! She gripped the footrail. Mooooomy! Want mommy. Want mommy.

Two hours later she watched the truck backup to the gates. The pilot almost leapt out. She jogged forward her arms out to gather her.

Im so glad to see you.

Dachni moaned a little.

You didnt wait here the whole time did you?

Dachni didnt answer.

Did you have breakfast?

She shook her head.

Well before you do I have some things for you.

What?

Anaya carried her to the truck and let the tailgate down and folded back the tonneau. In the bed were a number of art supplies.

Was all this? she whispered.

Well I know how much you like to paint so I thought itd be good for you to have something to pass the time. So take a look.

Anaya began to sort through her purchases. You have some canvas paper. An easel. Sets of pastels, oils, acrylics. Heres some chalk. Some charcoal. A couple different kinds of paper...

Put down, she said urgently and with no little fright.

Are you ok?

Ye need to put down.

Anaya set her down.

Her nails were digging into her chest to remove that other fist clenched within. Pitched ringing whined in her ears. She was very thirsty and her lungs could not draw in their breath. Her arm hurt. She turned, took a step, and dropped.
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  #204  
Old 07-05-2018, 10:17 PM
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She woke in a room. Eyelids inflamed by sterile notsuns humming electrically. Artificial isotrope alike at noon as twilight. The odor that stung her nostrils was the odor of iodoform. A constant combat between the foul and antiseptic. Conducive neither to life. She listed cold upon a bed of ice. Her drywall is porous to a demented tension unstated. Squeak of gurney wheels to and fro. An incessant translation of the body's function in flat tone spikes. They have replaced her veins with iron rails for the conveyance of the slag thereof. Her drained fluids panning. State of indigence. Bridled outrage in outer wards. The agony is indeed silent. The suffering long. Deposits of coins go before the dispensation of coffee. Never decaff. The communications are indecipherable and it is the shrill alarm that heralds the muted crepesole clap. She sees through the brackets of mock jarrah the wheel of an intermittent buffet down the hall to the beast next door. Do they return these victims from that gorge? And is reality more sound for their dismembering. They are a bloody clergy and they are scraping people from their steel altars with their knives. The beginning of their ritual is the washing of hands. The anointment of soap. They enter rooms with knife and saw. Laparotomists exploring the thoraxes of the maimed. And what can sate their divinations? Carrying away bright red bags vacuum sealed in the shape of viscera from which the hierosurgeons do draw prophecies. Mattoids lay cool in drugged torpor tacit accomplices in their own demise and return in dripping cerements of cloth sunken where the beast has partook. Menials mop the floor.

She croaked the name of the king and Anaya was there and she was comforted.

Is it you?

Its me.

Waking again she sensed another just departed. Is it you?

Its me.

Who was here?

The doctor.

Whyfore?

You had a heart attack.

Whats that?

The door opened. Slab deadened traffic grew loud. Wheeling and shoe falls and reports and a lalochezia banter. Marlish marlocking by a besmocked staff. Silenced again.

Has the scarecrow been bequeathed a brain? Indifferent inquisition.

Shes awake.

A middle aged doctor came to her bedside.

Im not sure what the wizard could have done for you.

Dachni forced her eyes to accept the bright blinding
artificiality. Wheres the sun?

Im a physician not a meteorologist. Turn on the weather channel.

Cold bone brushed her face. Lets move her to a room with a window.

Im a diagnostician. Not a porter. The doctor leaned on the gurney rail. Grizzled man of sarcastic histrionics.

Why dont you tell her what happened?

Something else that falls outside of my established duties. Hold on let me check my contract. His head rose and little lines raced up over his eyes. And no. No clause says I have to explain to patients why their bodies are failing.

Youre the doctor.

Oh alright Ill make an exception this once. I mean its not like I dont have a ward to look after.

The pilot glared at him.

The doctor rapped the hardplastic headboard.

Dachni started.

Can you hear me...Ms. Gillespie.

Dachni regarded him fearfully. With great effort she nodded. Whos you?

Who is I am a doctor apparently brought low to the duties of a page. Who are you?

Dachni understood nothing of his saying.

The doctor opened a folder and made a pantomime of reading it. Lets see, he began in extended sigh. Righty. Have you ever heard of Your Law?

Dachni coughed in excruciation. No.

Everything that can go wrong will go wrong with you. Like
my gyro. Because the idiots in the cafe can never remember to hold the feta. Which is in a way your problem too. I dont get my sandwich you dont get a doctor who cares. But ah ah ah I see your crazy little alien is getting upset. So you suffered a myocardial infarction in the coronary sinus brought on by extreme hypotonia which exacerbated a preexisting aneurysm to the point that it burst like a poked water balloon which in turn led to a transmural rupture. You know if Id gotten my degree from the college of wit Id write a ballad about it. Oh I guess Ill just have to settle with enjoying your suffering. So to summarize your body is falling apart and your heart barely functions. But dont worry. Shitty hearts have futures in politics.

The pilot rose trembling. Get out. Prepare yourself for death.

The doctor cocked his head. Im sorry is that advice? I mean if it is dont worry Ill go and shoot up on ovocaine. Kind of the shortcut to Zen or Nirvana. Whatever it is.

The pilot grabbed a syringe from off a table and jammed the needle repeatedly into his chest.

Goddammit. Crazy alien. Nurse! Nurse!

The door flew open. Two nurses gripped the knob. Blacks the both.

The pilot threw the doctor into them. Do not leave the premises. I will be killing you in the next half hour.

Youre a mad shit.

Do not let him leave.

The nurses wanted no part of this and they fell over another out of the room.

Who was the assistant surgeon?

The mustached nurse stopped. Doctor Sommer.

Bring him in.

Doctor Sommer arrived conciliatory. Let me first apologize on behalf of Doctor Saunders. He has an excessively eccentric manner in dealing with patients. I know its unprofessional but he is the premier diagnostician of this entire region and really behind the sarcasm hes a good person. Dedicated his life to the field of medicine.

Wheres he being held?

Held? Hes not being held. He was referred to the medical director for reprimand.

Send a guard to keep him in a room set aside for his slaughter. You will need mops. If you let him anesthetize himself it will be your head that adorns the rafters.

I-I-I cant see how that would...

Then dont see. Only obey. Or youll join him.

Sommer was an avuncular gentleman with silver spectacles. Of middling age and full hair.

I want you to explain to her the operation she underwent.

Sommer looked out the door at the nurses looking in. Ok. He approached the foot of her cot. Um. Ms. Gillespie. You had a heart attack and we had to operate.

Chest hurts.

Yes its going to be quite painful for a few months. There are medications we could give you that would alleve the pain pending authorization from your...guardian.

Stop talking about me. Tell her what happened.

Yes. You see we had to cut open your sternum so we could operate on your heart. Youre really lucky to be alive.

Cut?

Yes. We used a sternal saw to divide your sternum. Cut it in half basically. Then we used a solution to strengthen the vessels in your heart so that...

Dachni wasnt listening anymore. She pulled at the hem of her gown. A livid millipede of a scar squatted on her chest among the furious crisscross of older wounds darker in their healing or decay. No, she sobbed covering her eyes. Stop it.

Im sorry?

Her voice was broken to shards. Stop cutting. No more cutting. No more cutting.

Sommer left and the pilot stayed at her bedside until she was comforted and then she left and twenty minutes later returned in a suit of blood holding a dripping skin bindle. She held it up.

Do you want this?

No.

The pilot bowled the bag out the door. It came undone and the severed head of Saunder rolled out and his scrotum fell out his distended jaws and unraveled to contained phallus and testes marinated in the jelly of his eyes.

Not stayin, said Dachni.
They sawed open your sternum. Youre going to be out for
a little while.

Dachni felt about her arms, pulling out her IVs as she found them. The sticky electrodes that when she pulled caused alarms to sound. The pilot silenced them.

Dachni.

Says no.

She found the catheter and without even any embarrassment anymore pulled it and let the leaking hose fall through the hole in the gurney to the pan. She labored an obscenethin leg over the gurneyrail. Letting it hang by the hinge while she gathered her strength to lift the other. She gripped the rail and pulled herself close to it and tried to sit up. Sharp agony scissored up her. Oh god.

Lets lay you down.

But her jaw set half fright relentless and she propped up on an elbow, her torso straight as could be managed, and drew herself up shrieking. The pilot braced her and collapsed the rail and helped her slide to the floor and into a chair where she bid her tarry while she fetched one with wheels. A wireframe wheelchair with simple leather coverings. From the cabinet against the wall she took out a sporty duffel bag that contained a change of her clothes. Her wolf parka and undergarments. She helped the child in them and a few minutes later she wheeled the child out. The staff didnt intervene not even the medical director who implored the refusing constabulary to make an arrest. The elevators vacated as they entered. The pilot pressed L and the doors closed.

The service shuttle paused briefly at the stop sign, headbanging on its carriage, damp running down its aluminum skin as though it sallied forth upon roads it would rather not, its brake lights in sustained red flare then dimmed, then joined the traffic.

Anaya claimed there would be another but the beaten halt enthroned knew not what another. She was blind to most this city and though it dwarfed the half resuscitated ruins of Perm it inspired no marvel. It bore a vague order articulable to the trashbins struggling to maintain a semblance of sanitation against the apathy of a population of technophiles beboggled by headgear connecting them to the net who gave them berth without remark. Who left a windfall wake of lagen ransacked by rats wherever they went. A loury drizzle manged the pinnacles of highrise and skyscraper, some masked over by vast advertisements of beverage and bread. Hologram spectaculars projecting along the flowing lengths of distant overpasses like the resplendent coronas of a concrete sun. Anaya wheeled her away from the angry lights of the squad cars through the parking lot to the sidewalk. The streets were devoid of any talk. The passersby, their heads canted at angles obtuse or acute and reaching out to touch things without physical reality and yet navigating their surroundings with assurance and even grace. Three streets fed the intersection before the clinic and they crossed with reckless ignorance of the traffic and the grate vapor that drifted over a putrid beggary egested out of areaways onto the five curbcorners like subsided porches. They looked like trash heaps and their smell carried through the petrichor and the exhaust. They monitored a translucent overlay managing the traffic that made the intersection look a green and troubled pool that would coalesce words on its surface but none dared a crossing for whom among them could be given the road?

Dachni also watched. Whats they say? she asked.

Walk.

What?

Walk.

The halt was crushed. She searched Anaya's face for some reprieve or belayal but there was none and she shut her eyes and gripped the armrests and pushed. She rose tottering, touching her feet down to the glassy solar panels of the sidewalk, and did not fall. Anaya swiveled the wheelchair around and sent it gliding back towards the parking lot. By then the pilot had succeeded in flagging down a taxi. The doors slid back into the frame.

Hop in, he said.

But the shrill screak of train brakes were rising deep within the city and Dachni said, Thems go to the grad.

A bloated postdamsel slid their tickets through the vent in the glass and they bought ice cream with the change and sat in the cafeteria watching the trains dock and go. It hurt to breathe and was almost unbearable to swallow but Dachni managed her treat down in tiny bites. There were plenty others with them but the room was almost totally silent. Their heads all bowed to the gadgetry they were jacked to. Televisions were mounted along the wall and the reporters' mouths moved but there was no sound. It was a long hour before the intercom announced their train and they went out and presented their tickets to the conductor. It scanned them, the machine, and handed them back.

The tickets read:

Car 002

Cabin 1

Class 1

In the walkin shower of their cabin they washed away the blood and toweled off and dressed again and the pilot unfolded the bed out of the seat and fitted the mattress cover to it and the sheets and blankets and helped the child to lay upon her. Through the tinted one way window they could see people rushing up bearing their luggage. Could see the city. At 18:32 a jerk transmitted through the iron couplings and they pulled out of the station.

For a long while the train moved as a flyut, sleek in the river of the highway's lee. This city where night had no dominion slumbered none. Pockets of daybright were everywhere. Like stars brought close. Office buildings ranged like dressed mountains, the windows lit so that they appeared boards to a game of giants each a scenario to be solved by who knew what corporate strategy. To fill each window with light or vacate it so, and what the gain and what the forfeit? Road markers spurted by at regular intervals. A cartoon on the inside of a lane divider that if you abided the speed limit you could watch play out frame by frame. The track rose over a neighborhood of tenementhouses. Dense packed domiciles row on row, narrow streets between them. A few villas here and there. Far above motorcars followed the tunnels of their headlamps through the window shed of light falling haphazardly upon the city. When the track lowered they were by the highway again and they slowly surpassed a gypsiemobile. A barebones fiacre fitted with a combustion engine. The crazed romani on the bench steering by reins lashed to the front axle. The track bent to the south and they could see the downtown obelisks of light. As they crossed the Chagan fireworks were let off. Glittering arcs of phosphor that burst into flags of choral that hollowed out to silty tulles dragging down like tears in the rain.
The train sheathed itself in the long dock of a bricken flue and the cars sighed out the engine borealis like dissipating wings as it fitted to the guider. On the platform Dachni thought them returned to Uralsk but then she saw that the signs were in English illiterate though she be. They followed the tunnel to its exit on Namalsk Street. The pilot hailed a taxi and the undrivered pegasus pulled up and hinged up its door to admit them.

Matthias' reforms had done well for the city. Entire districts had been razed, the last of apartments demolished and out of them new constructions, tenements centered around a clocktower XCIX. That would in classical fashion maintain time accurate to the Planck length. A starport. For to begin receiving shipments from Venus in not less than five months. In the last rotted rind of poverty dissolutes loitered at the corner stores exchanging badinage and prophecies of dislocation. Attar of sour mank. Windows boarded up. Whispers of abductions in the night. They watched the taxi into a richer district where the class lounged on cafe verandas taking their morning coffee. Whose children were daycared away from them. Professionals of trades, of economy and industry and R&D. They passed the Cletis Hall Museum of Natural History. Past the corporate parks where is exercised financial monasticism, every man the monk of his trade. A playground. A town center. A mall.

Dachni slammed her fist against the back of the seat demanding a stop.

The taxi pulled over.

Dachni.

No.

The taxi waited for an opening in the traffic and performed a U-turn and pulled into the mall. It let the child out in front of the Royalex Theater.

Goodbye, she said and shut the door. History shut away forever. This new life requires her correct by will her slight scoliosis. To lend her chin a flavor of pride. Her arms taut and tongue prepared. She strode oblivious to the morning rush staring through her own double in the shopface windows.

You gotta tell him not to bottom out, called a pedophilic wit from a bistro line.

These establishments had been open some hours but the
recruiter was only just spreading his doors knowledgeable that comfortable men do not resign their comfort famished nor dozy. He was wedging a wooden doorstop in place when he found himself approached by a tabid ghoul shambling downcast. His boots were gray leather. Color of the pavement on which they stood. He tucked his thumbs behind his belt buckle. Numquam Defectus. He rubbed his lip. Between them postered likenesses of the recruiter made the patriot's call with a meticulousness that for all the recruiter's sharpness made him appear a derivative. After a minute he guessed. No, he said. There wouldnt be any place for you.
In the taxi she bawled in the pilot's arms. The shame burning like veins of sulfur in her breastbone's gulch hot as chark.

Destination?

Any fucking where.

The taxi got onto the River Loop following the Volga. It crossed on the Bay Hauser and drove North two miles and crossed again on the Brendan. On their third circuit it let them out at a park. The pilot carried the child to a concrete bench overlooking the faultless sulky glace of the river. A pinchbeck phallus of sunbeam erect upon its watery navel. Old pigeon feeders spread their crumbs for the cote while their husbands debated the merits of dognapping. Men in suits fresh from lunch returned to their places of labor. A lay mystagogue was coming down the boardwalk proclaiming this 24th of April in emphatic baritone but the winter chill spilthed downwater seemed to recall in the weathered counters of the bums other solstices both bleak and secular and when he saw the child he lost heart and hid his psalter embarrassed and hurried on.

What are your plans?

No plans. Dachni's words more quiet than the clouding of her breath.

I havent said it enough. I want you to stay with me.

Fer why?

I want to be around you. I like you. I want to watch you grow up. I want you to be my daughter. Or sister. Or friend or whatever you want me to be to you. I dont care as long were together.
Is that really yer mean?
Anaya jaculated her backwards in soundless exasperation. Yes, she said throwing her head forward again. Of course I mean it.

Dachni got from the bench and began to amble about in dejection. Her chest throbbed. She seemed to be weighing the pilot's admission. She kicked old beer cans and then she wanted a beer but she didnt ask for it and then she didnt want the beer. She wanted water but she didnt ask for that either. She walked to railing and looked out at the river. She found the ledge with her foot on the waist of a spindle and climbed up and sat. The pilot was at her side in an instant.

If you jumped what would happen?

Ye'd be right affer.

Thats right. Id probably be down there before you even broke the water.

Dachni searched this out and found good truth in it.

Youre the bravest girl I know. Youre the bravest person I know. Braver than me.

Dachni gave a sheepish smile as is done to the solicitous platitude known to be a lie.

But Anaya was serious. I mean it. Look at these people. Theres a scarcely a handful older than you however old you are.

Dachni looked at the couples.

Not those. Nor the destitute. Look at the rest. The professionals. The tradesmen.

Theys harly any dont seem ten gallons older.

Thats. Do you see anyone younger than that?

Dachni looked up and down the river walk. There were no children. None in the rebellious age. She shook her head.

The pilot nabbed a woman going by by the collar and her canvas weekender bag dropped to the concrete.

What are you doing?

How old are you?

The woman beat at the pilot's wrist but the pilot lifted her up by the shoulder so that only heel toe was left grounded.

How old are you?

Im five, she huffed still struggling.

The pilot let her go. Can you remember when you were sixteen?

The woman straightened her jacket. Yes I can.

And you know its a fake memory.

Yes I know that. She bent down to retrieve her bag.

What do you do?

You cant interrogate me.

There is no limit to the dagestai. Answer me.

Im a market research analyst.

And you went to school.

Yes. No. You know what I mean.

You remember going to school.

Yes.

But you never went.

Yes.

Does it bother you.

I dont think about it.

But they gave you good memories.

I have to go.

Go.

The woman strode off, looking back angrily every few steps.

She were a liar.

No. Shes five years old. They grew her in a vat and they gave her memories and a skill and put her out. It isnt an unfair trade. What they lack in childhood theyll gain in their later years. Theyll most live to a hundred and eighty. Maybe longer. And its not as if their memories lose any of the flavor because theyre fabricated. They give them rich lives. Some of them have histories so traumatic that they require therapy. Thats how real it is to them. And if their job is lost its to the Bureau of Skills and Labor for retraining or augmentation. They dont have genetic flaws, their genes are the best that can be developed. Their prospects are made. An AI analyzes them over three years and selects their partner, and taecatchka, often enough theyre happy. Theyll never wonder about their future. Not in the way we do. Their conditioned not to. True theyre allowed to develop a personality of their own but theyre allowed to develop a personality. The rationale is they wouldnt know the difference and no one else would and its true. You cant tell the difference. How would you tell the difference between yourself and what yourself might have been? In a way they have it much easier, in a way much better, and in another way much worse. But you came into this world the hard way. Theres nothing certain about you. Your future is a maelstrom in a supernova. You might never belong. You might never find meaning in anything. You might fail in everything that means anything to you. It could be you succeed in driving me away. And maybe a time will come when youre standing on the edge of a bridge and theres no one to stop you. And your end might be broken on the pavement. Thats the truth of you. But. It could be you find the place you never want to leave. It could be you find a meaning so beautiful as to trip the tongues of a legion of poets. It may be well always be together. And maybe there will never be another bridge again.

Dachni folded her shirt over her hands.

Do you know what you mean to me?

She shook her head. No.

Look around.

Dachni did.

What do you see?

Trees an people an water an lottsa buildings big.

Does it mean anything?

Guess no. Or maybe. Doan know.

Meaning can mean nothing without others. When I see a tree I think of the shade it might give you. When I see a car I think Id like to teach you to drive. When I pass a restaurant I wonder what foods you might like to try. You force me to see meaning. Vision it perhaps emanations, shadows, but not the black or smoke blue that falls from the suncast but parings of the living thing see through and what it can do. Do you understand?

Kinded maybe.

Anaya smiled.

Dachni gripped her suddenly with madstrength. Does ye mean it? Does ye mean it? Really really mean it? An its ok to stay? An ye dont...ye dont...

Anaya squeezed her gently, shoulder to shoulder. I mean it.

Barely functioning jitney pulled up before the gate of the Aiegietti, the aienee embassy. Its doors opened and Dachni watched the pilot emerge like an enormous robed spider. She followed. The pilot was reaching for her wallet but the shalkii garrisoning the guardshack one produced his own card and another ran ahead to announce his dagestai's arrival. They passed through then niello gates inscribed with the genesis of the species. Walked the gravel circle. The garden in its eye, a fountain in the flowers. The mansion doors opened before their approach and a formationed host bowed in greeting.

Inquiries were made. Did the dagestai wish a change of clothes? to rest? to bathe? to convene with her staff? a briefing?

Yea to all and all to me, she said declining a drink outheld on a silver platter.

Yagt vi coei?

The pilot nodded that the child would indeed accompany her.

They gathered, those shostii of sufficient rank, in the lavish pophiagata of the study, that painstaking style in which every surface is relieved of scenes of history, that they might be tramped upon, and the ends of their talons nick away the faces and the deeds in mimic of time. Of the officers some sat in chairs or on the floor, for they made no distinction, and their attentions were towards the pilot where at study's front she cupped the head of her uneasy honoree.

This, she began in a rap of talons, is Dachni'isigiat Alessa Gillespie Hasti. Ignote the name, but know it, and afford her the privileges and deference you would me for she descends of the most grave lineage and a birth preceded by signs. You will not find her in the histories but the proof that she came of them is this royal frame which presents itself thus to thine eyes. Disregard the facade that would mark her an ignote nor weigh too much youth's features for in them experience oppugns years. Give credit to her notions, they are more sapient then the rude colloquialisms of her mountain domain in which they are delivered. That it is unright that any of noble birth should not have some aspect of their history known be it declared that the seat of her birth overlooked the staid range called the Urals where through many hardships she pertinaciously clung to life and when unseated and in the plains fought and in the towns fought and saved my life. So let her be she and I bined in your thoughts of service. Then that this our residence should be kept merry and to honor its second master our most august early queen I proclaim feasting and other revelries as may be made to follow. To you Gacci'vikios I charge you epulary master and manage the mansion's feed by the nineteenth hour.

Ssivka, dagestai, said Gacci'vikios.

To it then.

Gacci'vikios, the stocky factotum, bowed and left the room.

To the rest open your closets that you may flourish yourselves in most excellent garbs and if you should warrant that outfit unworthy take leave of your duties, some monies out the general trust, visit a boutique, peruse the latest fashions, be riven by a clerk's fad and disdaining a second trite skin return, dress as you can and be merry.

Dachni dreamed no dreams through the daylight in a gazebo of a bed in the master bedchamber. Anaya woke her late to prepare for the evening festivities. She freshened in the shower, feeling a twinge of satisfaction from knowing how to operate this invention without guidance. She came out wrapped in a towel leaving a moky wet trail on the rug. Anaya saw and smiled.

Hi.

Hello heartbeat.

Yer sunshine.

Ok.

For her consideration the pilot had laid out a number of dresses on an ironing board but the child touched the stitched flume of her surgery and said it hurt.

Ive remedy for that. Surprised you didnt ask for it earlier. She started towards the bathroom. Said from it: Do you like the dresses though?

Theyrred ald prettied pretties.

The pilot came out with a plastic tube she pointed at the
bed. Sit down for me?

Dachni shuffled over and sat.

Hows my brave girl?

Saided hurt.

Are you ready for tonight? she said unscrewing the tube cap. She squeezed out a glowing sea blue gel. Alien falltrank smelled of a crisp minty sea salt.

Smells nice.

Towel off.

Dachni shrugged off the towel and the pilot massaged the gel into her breast. It grew in viscosity, became almost crystalline, and dimmed.

Is cold. No is hot!

Feels better?

Dachni wiggled cautiously to detect any tremors of agony but it was narrowing to veins. Dissolving as though expelled in the breath. Does is does.

Do you know what this is?

Nuh uh. She took a deep breath, deep as she could, and it was without discomfort. Oh that feels better. What is it?

Sly smile spread on the pilot's face. Pus.

A crease formed in Dachni's brow. She knew the word but thought there must be a second definition or else japery. Whats et mean?
Pus.

Ye mean sicky pus?

Aye.

Dachni paled paler than her almost ghostliness near translucent so that the organs that sustained her could be seen in their soundless workings. She began to cast about as though in search, her hands by her side shaking in agitation as though the ingested prions of children past had willed her to a stroke. Ewwwwwwwww, tasssss grooooos!

The pilot doubled in laughter. Oh forlorn urchin. But is the pain faded?

Nooooo, she whined in despair.

The pilot lolled her head with tongue out. Youre fine.

Defiled she felt and slandered by circumstance beyond the limits of medicine.

Very well its not pus. A topical analgesic.
This assurance restored a measure of her composure.
Really?

Sure.

Yer lie sayin. Whats et really?

Its processed pus.

Her face scrunched anew but before her long mewl of dismay could escape Anaya pressed her crossed arms on her lap and stopped her mouth with a kiss. A few seconds later she broke the kiss the few millimeters needed to say: Youll catch no illness.

Whats it why?

The process is this. A hxaose, a tree dwelling leaf grazer, which weve cloned, is given a lung infection. The immunoresponse is to swell nodes in the airway to the point that they emulsify into a pussy bacteriophage that agitates the nasal pituitaries, which stretches very far back to the cranium, inducing a prodigious production of mucous that flushes everything out. And in a happy coincidence for mankind this discharge turns out to be a very effective painkiller. So its not just pus but mucous too.

Aets eewen gwosser!

To compound the humor.

Dachni sulked in boiling fury but Anaya's eyes was asquint and her tongue in her fangs and she began to chuckle. A gargled howl of outrage rose in the child's throat but before it could rip past her teeth it suddenly failed and the tussive indignation hacked out into a warbling laugh and soon they were cackling together.

Ets stell gose.

And still funny.

Dachni, sides tight, wiped away a solitary tear. Aesent too funny.

Twenty minutes later the pilot black robed from the waist down, the child primsie in a flower dress, arrived in the great smoky hall to find the table already commenced. A euphonic uproar died as though vacuumed back into the throats of these seated distichous revelers. In sync they turned and on their knees bowed, their elbows palmed, all save Mai-kin who at the table's head raised his stein. The pilot head slightly bend raked a knuckle along the edge of her fangs that the feast continue. In an instant the din was fully restored, a rolling gaiety, a sesquipedalian mirth, whole jokes in a word, the shostii fuming smoke out their sides like animate straw dolls burning from within.

Dachni followed the pilot to where Mai-kin sat.

Meesegataya.

Mai-kin yielded the spot with a rakish grin.

Dachni frowned at the whinstone floor. Wheres the chairs?

You sit on the floor.

Yall got stupid tables.

Those aienee who overheard laughed and stuck out their tongues.

Anaya tugged her down by the sleeve. Before she had even settled several plates were put before her and the aienee were encouraging her to sample each dish, advising the qualities of each. Her hunger wasnt strong but she tried each offering that was unfailingly spicy and she fanned her tongue to great chorals of laughter and the beer ran like water. Someone pushed an involute epergne forward overloaded with cloned extraterrestrial fruit and the pilot pushed it back citing the weak constitution of earthlings. A ravenous tachyphagia. A wanchancy shalki playing the part of a gaberlunize crawled on fours begging meat scraps but after a few minutes his pride could not abide this humiliation and he stripped out his fool's borrel. Someone blew the waldhorn and they laughed the shalki out. Unlike their foolish ruckus. All progressions from lower to higher orders marked by growing stillness. The highest sheds all descriptors, at the bottom movement wild and unwieldy. Without restraint or discipline. Untamed life. Inferior. Machines? No. Not life. The wildness keeps in the soul not the cold calculus wicked without sound. The head of some herbivore like a broiled barghest its catawampus visnomy shorn of a jewish nose. Intrauterine to void. A dozen boiled dokes brought out and a horsehead gussied in muskin. Gorgios each, none a mohel. Platters statuminated by blunted talons. Dachni beheld the scene agog. Each syjin paronym of his progenitor indagating the trenchant skeletons of those rachidian mammals put to table. Wirble a pet forever. Intrauterine what has left the rhapsodical uterus of the singularity? Faciend: nonlife accimus of amoeba. How do the dead envy the living. Shirred to through frozen energy that manifested this adroit arm that delivered kedgeree. Dachni squirmed in flouncy overload. Mazarine mure to the sensory world. Conspectus of waur. Dovish besmoked. Lobbed impertration for spices and condiments and dressings. A sigmoid of blood sausage. Forked anabasis upon a hog masticated with carnivorous joy. Graceless feed of life on life. The riuks depleted by impregnation and from 173 7019 viable offspring randomized for to disguise paternity. Two generations more generate a million souls. So exponetiates the enclave. Political considerations needs regulate breeding afterwards. The shovelspur ploughing troughs in giddiness. Give us this clay our clayey bed. Henrietta, daw of ill repute and hirtellous at the loins furring a tattooed distelfink. Interspecies limerance for a master of arms. Rebuffed ever anon by him who would die before suffering ochloracy and refused the taking of feres. Cocksure army analysts projecting total victory. Naive. Even ISEC collective erudite advancing Ridiculous conclusions. No. Too crafty. Lower motives must the royal I keep. Ranarian appetizers dehisced and butter stuffed. Apophatic passer priest of sumptuary code partook not but tallied infractions of his adamantine morals. Do not want to waste nor pine for evil. Frenetically gainsaying plebeian philosophical grunge. Come forth dour hierophant, proselytize not to the dead. No. Rumored necrolatry. Eying a venatic amnicolist recalled from hermitage to attend. Apostasy not the worst of sins. He passes the olio from which he abstains. No no no no alipeds. Not for consumption. Acrid flavor of tobacco on the cuticular layer of each spiry octant of a pineapple custard. Sugar stalagmites in slaver soluble. Lew whiskey tawn from time in rathskellers. Mai-kin it is told, the kign's ancient, has made secret arrangements with Berlin. For what? For when the Russians cross the 50th parallel. Sirrah sauced have some brandy. Alleviate hurts. Waters eyes. Balancing act. Torrents break the body down. Venomous fumes. Supple brains so lubed lose plasticity, slips back on consciousness does not percolate to inebriated eyes. Glazed. The deaden soul. Slack mouth. Slithey. She recovers. Telangiectasia of old men texturing the floating spots in vision. Brings master glossers to pratfall. Nonpareil goathunter stalks among murklin clitter with arbalest. Anywhen? Somewhen? Winter is the poorest month. Firearms too easy. Atomic weaponry jet delivered to corral tigers. Yarrikus dropped out of existence so long he no longer existed. Lugent patron that is god not inoccidous. Depatriated to questionable safety of the heavens. Iphsisavios elixate. Immoderate fumigations infecting the upper realms. God has not existed so long he has not existed. Christ attrited futilely, the sin overfloweth. Mawky macarism madescent in maggot sweat. The end until the end. Gastric Pentecost pineal or myrtle bestead alienkind of the sour curses drizzling up creation's bedrock mabbled in shipshape diaphanous black. Enough of blasphemy toast the lampbearer. And on what feeds the lamp flame? The souls the souls the souls. Space smells faintly of nidor and sorcery. What is the scent of improbability? What is magic's flavor? Earth deferve. Bone to oil, sun to void. Everything recreates itself imperfectly. Gravity of creation. A bouncing ball. The ball now? Dancing? Maffick of the soul. Sated they are risen. Nay azymous. Never never promptly to the ball. Not a ball. Not boy balls. Musicians ho! Strike up! But none have spirit for the thanatopsis and jeers jolt jovial chords out the mayji's mirthy axinform instrument. Slow slick sluts saunter saintly for their profunding. Menseless humans. Your pure dermis. Vascular anhidrosis induced by creams. Cause I got told yall aint fond of a sweat. Balderdash. Is that the word? I aint no gal of letters. A dance? No. Maybe. Labial prances. Her lusty saraband sustaining gladrags not necessarily in keeping with the melody. Dachni solicited by a more cunning courtesan. No money. I come prepaid. Cant dance. Flattering suggestio falsi. Exquisite footplay not mimeable. Who authors the songs that draws lightning out these ludic thighs. No more inviting. Husky woo and tongue to trace the absent ear and recoil and so dies tips desire but a danseuse without financial concerns prevents her withdraw. Saltatory whirls accommodating of her ability if not her aptitude. Other mock suitors who dance her happy but where the dagestai where is the dagestai? Sliding up. Hand in hand in wonder Dachni waltzed by her maternal paramour their steps execute deliberate and her eyes are of the mortal enemy and hers of nothingness impotent to show their gladness or sorrow or rage now yearning to tell to tell to tell.
These festivities repeated in variation night after night and at each breathless conclusion the child would scurry to a bathtub to calm and after three consecutive nights discovering her there the pilot had the tub converted into a bed and hauled up to the master bedchamber. Dachni encradled making sleepy mewls while the pilot hummed her lullabies until she fell asleep. And woke to be fed clementines.

By week's end she felt herself right potentiated and one early ante meridiem she on impulse decided to perambulate the neighborhood. She told no one. Left out the front door and out the driveway. Out on the street she felt very small and she scampered from bush to pole to pole again or any other cover but no one noticed her and she was not a mile into her first sojourn when she found herself pursued by a shosti scraping furiously down the sidewalk, his talons raking pale streaks in the concrete.

His name was Juraiska. Let us know before you leave.
Jessa walk.

He followed her then on a presence at a distance enough that she could fancy herself alone nevertheless glancing back from time to time to ensure he never left sight.

Over the course of several mornings she established a silent familiarity with those few other personages fond of dawn. The shalkii first who garrisoned the shack and who bowed formally and still bore the bright blue stripes for having slept at their posts. Elsewhere joggers in bright running gear like starved fruit. A portly tomato lagging behind and calling for his friends to go on go on. At the corner a newsvendor named Brian. Sat upon a crate sipping coffee and mumbling the day's headlines like a bored prophet hardly agog. General Profiry Ivanovich Shpigun Abducted. 23rd Army Group Fortifies Positions On The Desna. President Loginovsky Renews Demands That The Urals Be Returned. The Tribes Rise Again. People's Prosperity Congressman Sun Xiadon Arrives For State Visit. Venusian Aid Shipments To Begin Immediately. Farther along this newsstand of lethargic doom she would oft see joggers bright as bananas in their running gear and always there were a few isolated commuters moving towards the city wealth. Of them her fear abated and she would sometimes linger to watch the streets fill and would even keep astride this or that man pretending. None ever paid her attention save once when waiting at a crosswalk she took the hand of a lawyer. Who looked down at the fragile urchin what had confided in him such avuncular reassurance she aghast simpered away but the lawyer, prosecutor though he was and who wished to counterbalance the defendants whom he sent to prison or gas chamber, bestowed a dollar unto her and a cup to keep it in and as it would happen could be relied upon for fresh donuts and was named Laurence.

One morning she found the pilot milling by the gate. Dressed for the cold and of that vulnerable demeanor as are those hopeful of an invitation. Dachni skipped towards her in her little galloping limp and delivered a resounding headbutt into her thigh and head as a hammer butted her into the street. They went down Ulysses as was her way, the child with fists balled in her parka and nodding so enormously to the passersby recognized that it looked as though her head were being manipulated by strings.

Hows says theys newsies?

The newsvendor sipped his coffee through a straw that disappeared into his scarf and told them Colonel General Gusev Semyon Dmitrievich had been appointed army marshal and that his first order was to conscript an entire army group to be dispatched within the month to the Pechora.

Dachni skipped past with a flail of her arms. Whoakay!

She nodded to the joggers. To the huffing bubblefat jiggle expiring in doubletime. To others she didnt know. Warm bakery air gushed out onto the street. She stopped.

Has ye any pennies?

Ive a couple dollars, said the pilot.

Ken ye shake em out?

The pilot could. Three crumpled tens that floated down to her palm.

Now ye hasta wait! She shoved through the glass doors and burst back out again. Canded ye eat a somethin?

Ill take a danish.

Ya said not ta eat people! she hissed in whisper.

Danishes. Those puff pastries with the cream streaks and
the cherry caldera. Get me one.

Oh. Ok.

Dachni withdrew into the bakery and joined the line. Soft
muzak played. Peacoated professionals prated on phones. The register dinged and a customer moved to the side. After a minute the child was up.

What can I get you? said the cashier leaning over the counter to see this minutest customer.

Dachni clutched the counter and leaned to look into the
display case. Wills buys ta strudels anns ta cherries dayyynish ans taaaaaaauuuuhh thatta bakey.

The cashier leaned to see at what she pointed. The baklava?
Aye.

That ones pork.

Thats ok.

The doorchime rang. Dachni.

Dachni looked back. The pilot was leaning inward on the handlebar. Get a few croissants too.

Ok. Enna few croissants.

The cashier rang up her purchases. 13.71.

Dachni looked at her trio of tens. She set them on the counter. The cashier flicked one back and took the other two and punched at his register. The till popped open and he sorted out her change and handed it back.

Thankey.

Yep.

Dachni looked expectantly at him but his assistant called her over and she went to the pickup and received her goods.

Outside she sorted through the bags. Heres yer danish.

Thank you.

An this is aaaaaaa strudel.

Alright lets go find some place to sit and eat.

No gosta wait.

What for?

But Laurence was turning the corner and Dachni squealed in delight and ran up to him.

What is this? What is this? He laughed holding his briefcase aloft trying to follow the little maniac dancer circling him.

Isis earls is earls, she squealed proffering the baklava.

For me? He plucked the baklava up and took a bite and
held his belly. It is delicious, he cried through his chewing. Ho
ho they spoil me. Oh I am being fattened. Fortune will make a rolling hill of my sides. Thank you thank you.

Whos this?

Laurence looked up at the pilot. Oh it is the dagestai.

Who are you?

Laurence Sauer. Prosecutor at the appellate. He set his briefcase down and shook her hand

Deduction tells me, said Laurence glancing from the pilot to the child, that you two are acquainted.

That meeeeans know folk.

Indeed. Have you known each other long?

Long long. Dachni flung her arms in the air and lost her croissants. Wuupes. She bent and swept them off the sidewalk back into their little brown bags.

Whats on the docket for today? said the pilot.

Ah. Mostly eviction appeals. Its really very sad. At three I have a regional manager who got caught funneling interest dividends from Castle Credit Union into his portfolio. Ah but it is worthless. What he does not know is that when he hacked into the system he left an imprint of his own memories. A friend of mine says if you are going to do a hack you must be like the zen. He will get a harsher sentence for even making the appeal. For the others though. I am a prosecutor I must undermine them all. It would be be better if we were like most other civilized countries. Well. Civilized. I suppose that is what this big huffalahbah is all about. Who is civilized. I can see after victor assigned housing. Universal medical care. I do not mean for the state to go overboard and anticipate the desires of its citizens or blanket us in comfort, I am not talking about universal augmentation or anything of the like but who is looking after the common man? I care little about those dandy moralists at every turn and throwing socialist about like a pejorative. I would like to seem manage a January night out of doors. Can you imagine that? Or have them figure how to survive on a widow's stipend or be denied their afternoon sorbet. And the machines do not give a crap. They do not even sleep most of them. All this ballyhoo about radical individualism. It is an excuse to fleece the poor and to justify the fleecing! And I am not a crackerpot. I have seen it. Condemning children to poverty for their parent's poverty and feeling self-righteous about it. Robbing them of every opportunity, marching them off to the army with lies of glory while they sit at home and watch them die on the television. I understand a doctor is more valuable than a janitor and that geneticist is worth probably twenty cafeteria maids but those madmen think that because that is true that the individual is himself worthless. They forget erga omnes. They do not believe in baseline worth. For all their prating about the value of the individual they do not recognize the inherent value of the person independent of the trade and the skill and the wealth. Oh I have seen plenty of affluent baboons who if you presented them with a true day of honest to god toil they would leap out of a window.

I will tell you the proudest case I ever took. Misson Vs. The Interim Colonial Government. Allison and Martin Misson. She was a claims lawyer and he was an insurance provider and together they made a runny slick of manure. They defrauded almost two thousand people. What they did was set up several unaffiliated LLCs, that is a limited liability company little girl, barebone offices typically with nothing more than a receptionist paid to give the run around. They would take the monthly payments, stash them in joint holdings under another name. Any claim from an insuree was immediately denied. No questions asked. I remember in the brief there was a woman by the name of Ms. Faxon. Had a fire in her apartment. Proven to be an electrical fire but since pools of wax were discovered on the bedsprings Misson claimed the fire originated through the negligent knocking over of a candle-even though there was no wick found in the wax-and denied the claim. And would you believe it? A judge found this reasonable and allowed them to countersue. She was ninety years old! They dealt in automobile, flooding, home, fire, weather. There were cases where when the insuree had a solid case they went back and modified the contract. Blatantly. Could not even be bothered to try to hide the hack. Well how many people really check a contract, how many insist on notarized originals? Not many I will tell you. Notarize little girl, notarize everything. You can get a lot over a man by pointing to a few small print paragraphs at the bottom of a page. Well finally they defraud some boy who has an attorney for a brother and that is how they got caught but it was not the end of them. They appealed and it came to me and can you believe it they did not change a single part of their original testimony. Not a single line. I pressed for the death penalty and by that blind most fair scale bearing maiden I secured it and saw them marched to the scaffold and it was a warm sight for the next two weeks every morning I got to see them swinging like a pair of meaty windchimes.

Laurence took a bite of his baklava and looked down at Dachni. Listen to me girl. Whats your name?

Dachni tilted at the waist. Esent a right name figured onna
settle yes.

How do you mean?

Well sometimes says Dachni and sometimes Alessa.

Laurence moved to let other pedestrians pass for the sidewalk was growing crowded and there was a constant flow into the bakery. What did your mother name you?

Dont know. She mighta notted done ta namin atall.

Which name came first Dachni or Alessa?

Alessa.

Is that the name you prefer?

Prefer?

Which name do you like better?

Hasnt reckoned it yet.

Alessa antedates Dachni so why let us go with that for now.

Ok.

So. Youre a shineblood what they call your kind. I doubt you need to be told that will win you not many friends anywhere.

Never gived it pay no mind.

And you keep right on doing that. Hear me out because I
am going to tell you a great and terrible truth. Life is not fair. I suspect you figured that out a long time ago. The only justice that comes to man is through man and by man. Now man is a mighty hateful creature. He is. There is no two ways about it. But he has also got a lot of the opposite in him too, whatever that is. For as sick as we all are we still manage to make it work. You know how we make it work?

Dachni shook her head. No.

Truth. We tell the truth. We always tell the truth and walk in honesty. We look after another. You stand up for the little man and you stand up for the big man and you stand up for the middleman whatever the times call you to do. Sometimes the rich persecute the poor and sometimes the poor persecute the rich. Being poor does not automatically confer righteousness on a man. He might fancy this so but it is not true. I have known plenty of paupers who came to means and turned right back around and robbed blind the very persons who helped them to their fortunes. I knew a woman who stole her father's house, sold it right out from under him, had him evicted out of a home he built with his own tools and hands that made the tools. The law could not touch her for it but she was shot some nine years later and ended up paralyzed from the waist down and sued to get treatment and her own father by that time a paraplegic dying in a hospice. We are a sorry species, man is, so never let anyone ever tell you that you are less than a human being because a human being is a low low lowly thing. He tries though. Even that Misson had a little of grace in him. Might have been a speck but it was there. Even if he did not know it and probably he did not and if you had told him he would have denied it or gone out of his way to snuff it out. But even he was a boy once that maybe marveled at fireworks or had to figure his reflection in sink water. Now what it boils down to is this. Every moment in this life is a choice and you can do what is right or what is wrong. And maybe you cannot tell the difference and maybe the people around you cannot tell the difference but follow what you believe to be upright and true. Stay true to yourself and you can do no falseness to anyone else. Because even if you turn out to be a bad person you will at least be innocent of the rank odor of hypocrisy. I...oh ah look I am late. I am a complete rambler.

No, said Dachni. Its ok. Its good hearin.

Yes. Yes. I hope so. I have to get to a hearing myself.

He held out his hand to the child and she shook it and then he shook hands with the pilot and then the child must shake hands with her to. He said goodbye, gave a second thanks for the baklava, and took his leave.
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Old 07-08-2018, 03:24 PM
Beesauce (Offline)
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... because I couldn't help myself... this Internet brought to me banana joggers --
banana joggers?
banana joggers

er. comment: that large paragraph reminded me of strange fast forward version to an Elrond Council meeting. My favorite bit "the souls the souls..."
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:32 PM
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Several blocks on to Frankel's CornerShot that observed the intersection with two bulging and meropic billiards balls slotted over the canopy. The pilot turned onto Sumac to the child's distress who told her not to venture that undiscovered way and the pilot backglancing able to see the sliver of the distant embassy asked if it were her way that she walked a straight line and back.
Moored to less.
The pilot would have them exploring and the child kept to her coattails in that exaggerated stealth walk oft seen upon the jackets of whodunits. Suspicious rightly of scraggly rug pedlar and bums. Of the violinist sawing slowly on his piece while the madam of an antique shoppette swayed to his tune. They passed the National Operatic Museum and Theater. Passed a MaidBorgTM, strutting before its authorized distributor and advertising its plethora of features in five languages. Albin who keeps the fishbowls full nods resolutely to her reptilian majesty from the porch of Deep Trouts where he awaits as for the undead the descension of the rancorous covey of bedlamites who have closed Samtzeit. The soul is a font he mutters to overflow or run dry and by no spirit can it be filled that is not its own only may it be summoned forth. Godfearing bufeiter, his tills never empty. And past Gem's Haberdashery open from 10-17 and the inlets of underground malls. And let me get you a cut cried a dreadlocked barber.
How do you like city life?
Nice nice.
And how are you?
Dachni slumped into the pilot with her arms wide for maximum hug as she cried.
Anaya lifted the child into her arms. Do you want to stay?
Nor furevered but a lattle levver. Mwarber no dancy turbight. Et gwets ye gwogwie.
The pilot chuckled. For the best. Woe is the wages of too much mirth. Aye the bills highing as tis and who knows how long ere the poison chalice is gived to me?
Poison?
The pilot didnt answer. A bight of seriousness weighed down the upturned curves of her smile. Mayst I tax thee a league further?
Dachni reached into a pocket for the lawyer's unspent note. Here.
Ssiskva. Nein. Not money.
What then?
A different tax. I want you to meet your sister.
Dachni crumpled the bill away. No.
Shes here you know, in the city.
Dont care. Dont wanna see her. Wanna ferget her always an ever.
You shouldnt say that. Theres not a whole lot of family between the two of you. What do you think Id give to see my sisters again? And my brothers again? You wouldnt have to say anything. I doubt she will but let her see you five minutes. Nothing more.
Fer what?
That she may know you limp the earth. She doesnt know youre alive. Its like not naming your children. She doesnt know youre alive. She did ask you know but I didnt tell. Do you know what that means from kin as yours? Ill tell you something about your family that maybe you dont know and that maybe youll recognize in yourself. What doesnt concern you doesnt exist. She asked for you and thats the first shovel load of dirt on the enmity you share.
Ye had a no.
The pilot's ears swung high and were hooked back by her tendrils. I understand. You dont have to do it today. Or ever. I imagine this was your last expectation. But next Friday Ill ask again. And the Friday after and after that I wont ask ever again. But it would be a good Friday though when considering the merits you assent.
An no. An dont ask.

Going down Sumac late one morning she was given pause by cantatrices and company who had bechoired a tunnel stairwell. En face to their audience that dropped change into their instrument cases or lingered to hear the arias. Among the spectators were a pair of resigned policemen who also waited for the conclusion and when it came they drew their billies and moved to prod the singers towards the surface. Shouts rang out in a one sided scuffle. The instrument cases were slapped shut. Arms were locked. The leader among them began decrying their evictors fascism in song and a cellist hustled about sawing a hacky accompaniment.
Und Musik wird zertrampelt
Und Freiheit unterdrŁckt
Wem wird sein Name zuerst gesungen?
Wer wird der erste Held sein?
I told you yesterday, said the sergeant. You can sing to your content just stop blocking the bloody thoroughfare.
A buffo was dancing around the sergeant's partner. An android that if nothing else was capable of exasperation. It charged its baton and zapped him and he went howling up the stairs clutching tingling buttocks but before he'd even reached the top he dropped his pants and mooned the lot of them. At last the officers managed to get them off the stairs and they turned to confer with another. The human of them was machine below the waist. Good augmentations that looked the legs of a mech. He gestured up at their mockers.
Id shoot them but I kinda like her singing.
How did the date go? asked the machine.
The sergeant sheathed his billy and looked up at his robed soubrette waving and blowing kisses. That sirens got her claws in me.
The opera was moving on. The spectators dispersed. The police were going down into the tunnel. The child followed them. Her minder hustled to her side. At the landing they found themselves in a tunnel full of small convenience shops. Clean and quite fancy. She walked the tunnels until she came to a vast chamber that was the central mall. Elevators in glass shafts were at each corner of the promenade. Dachni moved to the glass paneled railing and surveyed the stores below. Three levels below she saw a barker standing before what appeared to be an assortment of human limbs handing out fliers. She hurried to one of the elevators but it was packed and her minder would not fit and he yanked her out before the doors closed.
We are glue us, he said.
Ok.
They waited until the elevator came up again and they took it down.
The barker didnt even notice the child when she ran up and the child had to kick it in the shin and even then it looked at Juraiska first. He pointed at the child and its head dropped almost to its chest.
Oh. Who are you?
Ares yall sell arms an stuffs?
We offer several of augmentations for humans and for most existing machine lines.
Would ye sell ferred a girl arm?
We carry a pediatric line. Why dont you step inside and speak with a sale's representative.
Inside?
Yep.
They went through the sliding glass doors and she was alarmed of their automatic power but then she thought cars were by magic. The representative who came to greet them was a clone of the barker. Same silicon bangs, same face, delicate features.
Hi Im Mandy, it said bending, its hands on its knees.
Well whota fuck is she?
Thats Eileen. Are you new to the city?
Dachni waved this away. It dont fuckin matter. Need an arm. A right arm for a kidlin.
We carry several lines for children.
Whats the best ye got?
The machine scratched its earlobe. It smiled at Juraiska. Can I assume youre her caretaker?
You may not, said Juraiska. She is the honored guest of the dagestai on whom's behalf I am authorized to act. My presence should be assumed as his presence.
The machine straightened. I see. In that case please follow me.
The machine led them to a holographic display. As it approached the display materialized a dozen windows each of which contained a model arm. The machine turned to them with a spring in its step, its clasped hands falling from breast to thighs in a bouncy gesture. As you can see we offer several series to best match our client's needs. I assume this is for you?
For who?
This isnt for her?
No its furred a girl.
Is that girl you?
No.
Could you tell me a little about her?
Her names Holnifa. Shes really pretty.
Dachni reddened but red with that gory sunset glow so that it looked as though a sun were dying in her heart.
The machine smiled. Well how old is she? Are we replacing an existing limb or an absent one? Does she have access to maintenance facilities? What are her performance requirements?
Dont know how old she is, she lives in the desert an she needs whatevers best.
The machine rubbed its chin. Well our premier line is A La Quatrieme. It has a patented titanium alloy skeleton with a tensile strength of 480MPA. It can be mounted at either the elbow joint or the shoulder and its coated in a synthetic self-repairing polymer weave that maintains a 98.6 degree surface temperature and is indistinguishable from human skin in both appearance and texture. All mammalian reflexes our encoded into its tactile sensors and in the event that damage occurs, so long as it is not structural, it will heal without scarring. There is also an adjustable pain threshold. How old do you think she is? A guess.
Maybe nine or eight.
The machine tapped the hologram and a window stretched over the other products. This is the S990, the Grand Jete. I think it would fit your friend perfectly. And since she is so young we should anticipate her having a growth spurt, we dont get to stay young forever, and this model has the benefit of being able to mimic natural human growth. Our higher end models have our signature Sighing feature. The bone, as it is, is made to a higher density than our entry tiers and that will with time perspire that extra density onto the bone surface building it up as the child grows older. In addition the bone telescopes, further slendering the bone as it elongates to keep proportion to the natural limb. Another feature is fully customizable skin tone capable of manifesting a range of epidermic features. Freckles, birthmarks, tattoos, although I think for your friend well stick with henna for now, pending her mother's approval.
Take that.
The machine snapped its finger. Ok. I can begin the paperwork immediately but first Ill need to speak with your guardian here.
I am consulting with the dagestai now, said Juraiska.
Ok.
She approves. Begin whatever preparations.
Ok. Please wait here.
Dachni nudged Juraiska in the knee. Ye tawked ta her?
Yes.
How?
In my head.
Dachni wide eyed and gawp mouthed. Ayeeee ye dream her too?

When they got back to the Aiegietti the pilot was waiting for her at the bar. Dachni ran up holding aloft a fat binder of legal disclosures and contracts. Look! look! look!
The pilot spun her off her feet and seated her on her shoulders. I see I see I see. Yakta beers!
At dinner she strained the limits of her vocabulary. Ans bestes tiny nettle bop. Creally sweet sangs glowioso ans gotsa temper too sometimes but ye wunnint knowed it ta look her when shes angry even causes shes reallies quiet ye knows by the pokes an treats of everthin. Shes delaket like a glass. Ooh her voice is squeegee pretty ans verred brave.
The smiled to her this portrait.
The pilot smiled to hear so beautified a portrait.
We got ta go get her.
We?
Aye. Got to. Go to got to.
Shes on her way.
Nwoooooo shebes inta desserts.
The pilot stirred her farfalle chuckling as might a python choke. Was in the desert. In the air now.

And arrived early next morning on a wicked transport looked to have been dredged from the seas. The spires of its underbelly collapsing inward as it taxied to the skybridge and electricity whipping out its ends and the light bending around it. Dachni with face scrunched against said: Thass a scary fuckin ship.
The pilot grinned. Im told they ran at the sight of it.
The terminal door opened and out dashed Holnifa in a piercing screech. Dachni rushed towards and the two embraced with such force that they tumbled a merry tangle on the floor.
Қалайсыз? Сені сағындым көп көп.
Өте жақсы Өте жақсы.
Haiii ets best ta see ye. Ets best ta see ye.
Behind them came the mother and her brother's and her sons. Carrying their entire house. An assortment of faces embarrassed or indifferent or downright hostile. A clucked tongue paused the girls' nantling exuberance. The maternal disapproval. They rose giggling, still in each other's arms. They yammered all the way back to the caravan waiting for them at the pickup but when they pulled out onto the road Holnifa went mute. Unbelief of city unreal. Horrid gray fauna of concrete and steel walked by machines and more men who scarcely could be called such then she had ever seen. What nostrum for man's insanity had engendered this creation and did it come whole or piecemeal was ever it seen in a dream. Or stoked his fevers to this concrete inferno.
Бұл не? Бұл шынымен бе?
Ия.
Their first stop was at an affiliate clinic where Holnifa gave a sample of her blood and measurements were taken. Holding Dachni's hands throughout the procedure, unwilling to watch the needle slip in, and Dachni patting her head for her to be brave. The blood flowed down the line. The surgery was scheduled for the coming Wednesday.
An hour later were at the Aiegietti. The family was settled in the guestroom wherein they began to immediately erect their yurt. Connecting the kereges together and securing the uyks to them with their leather bindings and then fitting the shanyrak. Last of all they draped on the felt cover. The aienee who watched were utterly contemptful and some offended but they held their tongues. The main bedchamber was given over to Holnifa and Dachni. Mai-kin by then had returned from England and at news of his eviction threw up his hands and resolved to make a hallways his bed if he could not rely on permanent quarters. Which denied he did widthwise so as to be an impediment to foot traffic but soon found himself the object of harassment of the two little usurpers who made their girly little rahs and poked him with sticks.
Yevretcha ifgao u'giveen.
Yerra blockin ta bloody thoroughfare!
Rah! Rah! Blockin bluudy thoroughfare!
He rolled himself parallel to the quarter rounds like a valve opening. Pilgrims pass it is not against you that my grudge is set and I have no toll to levy.
Watter ye sleepin inta hall for?
I have been wrongfully put out. Be dears and fetch me a pillow.
The girls darted off to the breakroom down the hall. Where grim shostii watched grimmer news, dark tidings in monotone. Holnifa put a finger to her lips and they got down on their fours and threes and crawled across the tile floor to a lunch table and peered out between the slender chrome chair legs. Dachni pointed out a water cooler and they slid lithe on their bellies and stood behind it in profile. Then under the lee of a divan. Two shostii sat there. The nearer one jotting notes on a pad and alarmed to see three arms snake over the armrest and grope about. The hands alighted upon the small pillows and withdrew them and when he leaned to see what manner of game was in play the girls leapt up squealing and walloped him in the shoulder and walloped each other and ran out.
Mai-Kin they found unmoved.
Міне ұстаңыз.
He accepted the pillows and fitted them under his head. For your services my eternal thanks and a pardon of crimes committed in acquiring them.
Why caint ye sleep in a bed?
Why cant you?
Sleeps in a bed.
A bathtub is not a bed. It is the misuse of heavenly freedom.
Dachni laughed. Yer weird. Aint he weird?
Holnifa agreed upon his weirdness.
Сіз күні бойы ұйықтайсыз ба?
What does she ask of me?
Sheee wants ta know if yell sleep all day.
I am not sleeping. I am protesting by becoming a marginal impediment to foot traffic and will remain so until the validity of my claim is recognized. I shall not be moved.
Dachni stuck her tongue out and laughed.
Mai-kin!
Mai-kin looked up the hall at the pilot.
Brecht kaya vatun, she said gesturing viciously. Vasha.
Vasha, she says, he said rolling over. But then theres the dragon.
They followed the vanquished in celebration into a vast room.
They followed him into a vast room filled with desks. A cluster of televisions were mounted high on the wall and despite their varied tuning they showed the same channel. A shosti noticed them and tried to shoo them out but the pilot overrode him. She beckoned them near and they sat on the table. On each television a British reporter was breaking the story.
...I repeat Vadim Gavril Loginovsky, President of the Russian Federation has been assassinated. At approximately 09:09 after meeting with his security council the president was leaving the state Duma when several vehicles in his motorcade exploded. Several other high ranking officials were also killed in the blast. We are awaiting an official statement for their names...
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Old 07-27-2018, 12:11 PM
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Still reading... youíll probably die an unsuccessful writer, but Iíll tell everyone you were a genius. Hope ta makee feel better bouT
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Old 07-27-2018, 12:50 PM
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Still reading... youíll die a writer, Iíll tell everyone you were a genius. Hope ta makee feel good bouT
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by anna View Post
Still reading... youíll die a writer, Iíll tell everyone you were a genius. Hope ta makee feel good bouT


Yeah, I could have said that but I was worried that direct praise might cause me to be seen as a homo. If blue were a woman Iíd have had no problem. #manproblemswomendonítcareabout.
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Old 07-27-2018, 07:25 PM
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Hey guys thanks for the kind comments. Anna I'm sure Ill die a writer but in the dark cockles of our thoughts brian is probably right

I know Ive been posting larger sections to make up for not posting as often but there was a happening that doesnt occur with any real frequency, the deleting of an entire section And since its no longer canon I cant see the hurt in sharing it. So without ado much farther (this aside being the farther, that the section takes place about a 100 pages from the present scene, and is one of the sections that I worked on extensively, as opposed to being a first draft):

Sythas lok.
Ripple from the depths. A floor unbleared beneath her. An s of color. Coral millipede. She spat at it and it skittered across the rotted floorboards with a winding liquidity.
It was a mistake a mistake a mistake. She wasnt supposed to be here. Is it awake?
Dachni tried to see what thing chittered but she was immobilized in a kind of gooey resin that webbed the room. She wrenched her head about and gnawed on the warm chords. In a minute she had a few inches of range. She looked about. She was in a kitchen. Brown fungus covered the counters. Sacs of thread enwombing vague shapes. She chewed an arm free and there lowered before her a woman's frisket framing a perfect marquise of nine oculi. These clouded and cataracted lakes where mayflies with church glass wings lapped. A feminine arachnid. Two rows of plump breasts nipple pierced puffed down anticlinally to the shallow valley of her hips and two delicate ivory tusks sprouted from the gonion and she could see the pairs of arms, the addorsed legs ending most delicately. There was a mouth of fine proportion that would have enunciated its words with care but Dachni seized the venom fang and pulled the visage near and sank her teeth into it. The mayflies departed and a humor jell exploded in her mouth and drooled down her chin. The chimera screamed and swung like a wrecking ball. She felt herself go suddenly save a leg from which she dangled, her hair sweeping the floor. Gobs of thick matter like curdled semen dripped around her. She sat up and grabbed the dripping lisle from which she hung and tore at it until it thinned and snapped. She hit the floor and the breath went out of her but this was unnecessary. She rolled to her feet and crashed into the table and got up again and grabbed a chair and flung it at that creophagus abomination where it retreated to an upper corner to mourn.
A cobwebbed knifeblock overturned on the counter she drew from a heavy chopper and hurled it and the blade stuck into the joint of a silkweed sap profundity of maiden grace that was its arched leg and the clear hydraulic fluid drained out and the leg turned limp. She drew two knives more and charged the thing and before it could react sheathed the knives in its tattooed back. The thing bucked off the wall and estrapaded through the room, knocking over the table, the chairs, crushing the sacs and the mutant caballero riding with her thighs and knives wrenched one pommel free and stabbed it in the back of its neck, working it through the vertebrae. The blade suddenly found passage and parallel to its progress so did that tarantalic vixen she barebacked ease of life.
Her heart thundered behind its brace of ribs. Wan motes drifted through a vile sunlight. An acrid aftertaste of smoke. The kitchen was crisscrossed with polar secretions that stiled angling, the webs sprouting veils of crystal brinicles. Victims abounding, caught up, cocooned, engorsed. A trove of the transmogrified. She dismounted the beast and sawed open a large hoary embryo. A vaguely fetal form washed out in a milky digestive ooze. His tissue yielded under pressure and the bones within had become pliable as rubber. She poke it with a knife but it didnt move. Another contained nothing but a viscous goo. Twins arm in arm reunified as though in a womb. Why then that womb that dissolves above that womb that forms. A sac in which a woman had miscarried a babe like batter half out her deliquescent cunt. She sought out a sac containing a more humanoid shape. It was in the sink. A head flopped out. The face had been erased of feature but she could still hear the faint breathing. She felt the face as the blind do and when she had divined the vestigial mouth she cut it open.
Ken ye hear?
A sogged moan gurgled out. Syrup bubbles in the lungs.
You.
Ullllt.
The mouth struggled to form the words. She widened the slit and must have gone into the cheek for a dark line of blood poured out. She looked into the mouth. The teeth were soft enough to crush between fingers. The tongue was there but it was almost absorbed by the palate. She freed it carefully with the knife.
Kin ye talk now?
Iiizi, it moaned. Nie patrrz wa ustro.
Hmm.
In the hallway a disordered windrow of stale sneakers. Coats moldering on hangars. A dusty doormat. Dead insects. Everything gray and washed out. She opened the understair pantry. Shelves of linen. Detergent. Brooms and mops. Nothing in the sitting. She looked out the sliding glass door to the backyard. A grainy almost chlorinic mist hung over the dead grass. A garden of dead vegetables. Leaves like dead beetles lighting with the wind. Propped up with posts was a massive shriveled cephalos gumming the fetid air. Shocked eyes platter plate in size resolved to her. A chain hung out its blistered herpes lips. She pressed her face against the glass. What it futilely gummed was a rotting rottweiler.
She found knives. All manners of knife. A chef's collection. When she put forth from the kitchen again the knives were she had a double bladed mezzaluna in one hand for knife knuckles and a meat cleaver a quarter stone and thirteen inches point to heel.
Above all she was sure her desires lay where she least wanted to go. Thus to the basement. The door threw open.
Get up here.
Who would think such dark would answer? Or have heard? She flipped the light switch but there was no power. She started down minding the protruding nails. At the landing the staircase turned left, out of the light. She slashed the wall and the sparks flew through the air and expired on a concrete floor. She walked about raking the floor and the walls until she had well delineated a a masculine den. Sofa and television set with gaming consoles. A video drive. Faded propaganda on the wall. Perhaps collector's items. A workbench. A miter saw. Cans of paint. A box of matches. She lit one and touched a carpet to fire and isolated it from the other flammables. The basement grew visible. Iracund shadows on the walls. The blackness of a doorway appeared. A small bathroom. A filthy bowl that had been shat in for weeks without flushing. Someone dispatched in the shower. Naked and fed on by insects. She spat and went out.
Ascending to the second floor she paused for a bloody blond scalp. It rose with each step and the image in the mirror was a blond revenant in t-shirt dress and might have been dead for days. Only when she saw the scars did she recognize the faces as hers, the hair hers. The blood someone elses. Or no. She turned her head. A wicked gash at the back of her skull. Still more blood than she thought she could have bled. An angry bruise along her jaw. She popped it, disdainful of the pain and looked back down the stairs then into the hall. She lifted her foot. No boot shod it but a blue daisy thong. She kicked it off disgusted. Her other foot wore a black quilted flat and this was abominable.
She checked the small attic bedrooms of the floor. Empty twin beds hiding no children. Sloped ceilings. A bathroom with tub and toilet set rim to commode. Rubbing alcohol in the open medicine cabinet. Lotions and creams. Through the window she saw a man tearing through a potato field. A womanish cackle reached her through the clapboard siding. When she came back downstairs smoke was fuming out of the basement. She searched the kitchen again, the counters and the refrigerator, looking behind the curtains. The floor was growing warm.
Holfie!
Her voice carried through the house and came back.
She took a last look around and went out.
This arboreal village wherein she found herself had been dragooned. Cold mud roads. A hairy silverback arm sticking out as though reaching for help. She pressed it down with a toe. Dead bodies everywhere. A flattened face leering out of sipes. Chickens clucked from her path through this mayhem where hogs roamed freely. She passed a row of picket mounted heads and she stooped to peer into each leprous visage. Bloated cows mooing obscenely in the fields. Some dead, a heavy brocade of living arteries burst of their abdomens. The long pus pissing udders and the woods out more bare than right winter could persuade.
The house was smoking now and the windows were mouths with lapping tongues of fire.
In the yard of a chicken keeper a man pinned with a dungfork breathed uneasily.
Has ye seen a Kazzie? A girl named Holnifa. Shes a toddlin.
The man stared at her.
She shook the dungfork by the handle. Can ye hear can ye hear is ye hear? Hey.
The man groaned but gave up nothing.
Well ye jess keep there then.
She passed the henless coops, the bloodstained chopping block, yellow wrinkled legs or legs in sluff. The doors of the house were broken or gone. The windows stoned out. The roof arcuated inward. She gave a cursory search of its dank fecal interior and moved on.
The house was adorned with burls of smoke like a storm in the grain and its backside was aflame.
She came to an older burn where nigh indistinguishable from the blackened scrog they were chained to were four carbonized forms much akin to bark or sculptures of black ice. Not five paces from this execution a woman hung by the wrists from a lamppost and the twins she had been incubating dangled from their umbilicals and as she passed beneath she saw each wore an anklewatch and was dread to hear the ticking of the unmoved hands.
Adjacent this a stables crushed by a kimbo pine. Gutted livestock moldered in the stalls. Bloody straw covered the aisle. Impaled on the twisted rafters above were goats as though the herd had rained.
The house had been consumed to its skeleton.
Most prominent among this desolation was a brothel opposite a church. Procure elixirs that make unright or insensate. Unwinding banausic patrons with stannous arcanum in sampler or stein. The bench tables overturned and splintered by gunfire. The walls scored by fire. A halfburnt bar and the bodies of the sots strewn about. A wheelchair on its side, a wheel still spinning and a long slick of blood leading to a closet. When she opened the door a creation unknown to her lifted its gory snout from the carcass of the cripple. A roach winged wiver. Yellow rings about the poll, fiery streaks of orange down the dewlap and crest to rump speckled red. Far away she heard alarms. She shut the door and held the fleuron and didnt let go until the feeding resumed. She moved slowly away. Almost to the exit she stopped and walked back and threw open the door. The creature lowed a throaty adjuration and saw the cleaver slip down its snout until its vision was bifurcated by a divider of steel, a logo on one side.
Dachni dragged the animal out by its paintbrush plumed tail. The kill had been badly ravaged but a plump breast remained, sagging into the gutted trunk. Upon that breast inked a spider web of spikes. More ragged tatters of flesh lay about and these also bore the dark pentagramal blazonry of pagans. She gathered the pieces, puzzling out their proper arrangement. A map or sorts of a desert. She cut open the creature's stomach and heaved out its eating and set aside what skin there was and kneaded them of the juice. She examined each piece and set them against another to see if they were continuations of another. By and by it was not a map but a picture of a tenebrous crypt throning a monarch wrought of christ withe. As she studied this she noticed the blood sucking into the floor. She shoved the kill away and ran a finger along the neat draining seams. A cellar door. She threw back the bolt and pulled on the ring and the blood cascaded. A rankness exhaled that was not the sere bitterness of ancient cunt but moist cunt. Who would have sagely acquiesced to the investigation of dead wombs to meet the kin who would have been and are they fortunate in their unbeing? I being from life come to tell you all shall tell you all.
The alarm was clearer now. She dropped a match down the hole but it went out almost immediately. She stabbed two holes in a jug of lighter fluid and lit its piss and the fiery funicular told an earthen chute. She wrapped a table leg with the garments of the dead and doused them and lit it and set forth with the stinking torch.
She entered in upon that claustrophobic passage on her knees but in fifty yards there was an ominous crimson flashing towards which the tunnel graded down and to a breach in the wall of another tunnel, this of metal, opened with a blowtorch.
The klaxons here were almost deafening and resounding down down a corpse rid corridor. Humanity mostly. In uniforms or labcoats. Spent brass and the walls streaked and pocked. Several creatures lay obliterated by gunfire. They had mouths, some hooves, spines like reeds. Farther on a mass dappled with cancer and stub limbs and a slash out the nub of its head. An amputee once had walked on sword stilts, its stumps for hafts. The walls were warm and there must have been some disparity in temperature for the metal shrieked and groaned like the stridulation of knives. She pursued that path most full of carnage. Where the dismembered lay so thick they must be waded through like overripe growths of gore half liquefact.
Wading free a shape in a puddle caught her eye. She bent to see. It was a .38 revolver. Three cylinders loaded. She stuck it in her belt.
Here sliding doors. Heavy metal broken. Scrawled on the left door in blood was Hell and on the right was Luce. Through their cleft she entered upon a catwalk overlooking a stretching chamber where men in tanks grew. Clean blue light emanated from each as though they were isotopes and as it were they do decay as men decline.
Voices came from a doorway down the catwalk. She edged up to the shot out window of an observatory and did not look in.
Кордон поднялся, said a man.
Это означает, что они еще не придут, replied another. Следуйте за процессом.
Я говорю, что мы убираемся отсюда. Забудьте о генах.
Они прямо здесь. Запустите генератор, тогда мы сможем поехать.
Блядь.
She heard the boots clomping out and she pressed herself flat against the wall and stared straight ahead. A soldier in digital EMR. A combat harness stuffed with magazines. He surveyed the tanks and touched the earpiece of his slim headset.
Виктор. Понимал.
He turned angrily down the catwalk, opposite of her. She watched him to stairs at the other end of the chamber and heard the heavy downward clomp of his boots. He reappeared briefly and was gone again into a corridor.
Soon as he was gone she ducked under the window to the door, not even mindful of the broken plexiglass and slipped in. At a console a man in labcoat worked frantically the guts of a console.
Говно говно говно, he chanted.
She raised the revolver, thumbing back the hammer. Hey.
He must not have heard. Laid next to him on the console was a sawed off double barrel and a crude stone pernach. She glanced at the shotgun, then at him, then took four quick steps and swiped it and retreated. She had been almost under him.
Hey. Hey you.
Почему ты не работаешь? he muttered. Ты чертовски дерьмо.
Dumb fuck!
The man shoved forward grabbing abortively for the missing shotgun and overbalanced and turned and slid along the edge of the console. Boże, przestraszyłeś mnie, kurwa.
Ta fuckers yer say?
Who are you, he said quickly, nervously. Who are you? How did you get in here?
He was of peppered gray hair and pallid and fingernails chewed on. A collegiate of vigorous decay who once perhaps had fashed undergrads in the doctiloquent mode whilst tenured in the chambers of learning.
Hookin fer a girled. Ir aims Oldifa. Names Holnifa. Is a Kazakh.
He shook his head as though in disbelief and bits of nameless matter sprinkled their surroundings. I have not seen.
Dachni looked at the console. The cover plates had been unscrewed and a gangle of wires arced out like the suckerless tentacles of some mad god frozen as it surfaced out that grave in which the dead rain, the bowels of the unbirthing sea.
Whater is it yer doin?
He spared a glance back. The power. The power is out. Men are grown here. The batteries will run out. When they do the life support will go offline. Theyll drown in their tanks.
Super computer stacks lined the walls and consoles mounting daises and covered in sigils of the damned drawn in demoniac haste. Circles concentric to a glossy steel nonogonal post protruding from the center of the floor which someone had topped with a ram's head.
You can help yourself in helping me.
Hows that?
Thinking I did see a girl, in passing, deeper in the facility. A lockdown is in effect but if you activate the backup generators the lockdown will lift and at least some functionality will be restored. The monitoring system will be able to locate any person on the premises.
Where? An how?
He crossed the room with an arm outheld towards an air duct. The vent had been kicked off. Follow this straight to the drop. Sublevel nine. It will take you to the level. Follow the directions. They will be clearly marked.
What was it yer tell him?
Blanter? I told him to secure us an exit. We have to get out of here but the power comes first.
How come he aint goin down no chutes.
You saw him. How could he fit?
Ye sawwed her an when?
The girl? On the security cameras, before the power went out.
Howd ye git in here?
I work here.
That werent the question.
Through the front gate.
Whats goin on here?
I have no idea. The facility came under assault by the villagers. Devil worshipers or something.
Ye knows knows rusk talk.
Yes yes I was speaking Russian. Blanter is on the security staff. He was hired out. He started towards the console. Ill prove it. His documents are here. When he reached the console he dove clear over it onto the catwalk.
Dachni ran after. She jumped onto the catwalk and cut her feet on the glass and fell to her hip and let off a single round at the man's fleeing backside and a spasm of sparks lit out of the railing.
Fuck.
She rolled off and hobbled out but the man was gone.
Shit shit shit.
A whistle.
She looked down at the tanks at a spearminx staring up. Unshod in blood pelts, acolytess to idolatry, citizen of an animalistic pagandom partial to ungulates.
Dachni struck the railing with the cleaver three times. Where is she?
The minx turned as though acting a theater of dormiveglia. Quite the fool.
Dachni shoved the revolver in her belt and leveled the shotgun and fired off a single barrel. When the smoke cleared the minx was face flat on the floor. Dachni scapered down the catwalk to the stairs. The minx was trying to crawl away when she set upon her. The cleaver lopped off her fingers. Dachni kicked her over.
You son of a bitch where is she? See this? Yer gonna catch a fuckin annerism with a meat knife. Ye open yourn fuckin mouth.
The minx in shock gawped wordlessly.
Dachni knocked her teeth out with the back of the cleaver and the minx began to groan. She would have docked her ears but she heard glass crunching and she looked up to the catwalk and saw the man who saw her and ran back as he had earlier gone.
Fucking fuck.
She looked back to the dying heathen. Is ye gonna talk?
A gurgling escaped her.
Fuck it.
She brained her where she lay and started off down the tunnel. Storage rooms here large as warehouses. Corrugated crates marked on their sides. Empty vats. Farther on meeting rooms with glass walls a number of which were tinted for privacy. A corporate section. Offices. Work stations. Papers everywhere. The managerial staff dead. A row of them all with the telltale hole in their foreheads. The stains of blood like the shadows of ballerinas. Gousty carnage in the cafeteria among foodtray and round table. The skinned cashier nailed to the ceiling. Tables with candles and heads. Limbs everywhere. Limbless torsos. Angry screeds in witch script and a breadbasket of fingers. Among the dead were two soldiers. They had been stripped of their arms. There was no insignia on them of any sort but they had the headsets and camouflage identical to the man she had seen on the catwalk. A burst of gunfire drew her through there, down several pipe lined corridors. She rounded a corner and saw a wounded soldier propped up against the wall and she about faced without pause and rounded the corner again and turned with one arm out and fired blind. She peeked out. Her aim true. A simple round hole in his temple. He was like the other soldiers but he was armed with a K810 machine pistol. She checked that it was loaded. At her feet a crazed looking pair of villagers lay slain in their draws of mud and reeds. She ejected the clip and compared it to the others in the soldier's vest and pocketed the matches and went on.
A few minutes later she was in an elevator lobby. Some of the doors had been winched open but there were no elevators. She would not dare the shafts for a roupy growling.
The stairwell was carpeted in gastroschisis secretions of flesh step and railing. As though men had been melted and pasted alive with a spatula. A sticky muck that clung to the soles. Wheezing lungs. Enormous coils of glistening intestines pulsing endlessly towards common anuses accumulating dung piles. Everything slick in sweat and mucous.
The first spongy step caused her freeze for a pained scream not far away. The next step elicited the same agony and every step a fresher scream ever closer as though she played keys to a flesh organ. On this level is the labs. On this engineering. In the basement a colony of heads growing out of the floor like hairy mushrooms. A drooling chorus of the ancephalic or stillborn. A tittering bloom of schizophrenia.
Whoah of the fuckin shits.
Doghhhn tr-treead onnn mee.
Dachni crouched down and thumbed up the head that had wheezed. A sti discharge ran out of its nostrils. Has ye seen a Kazakh? A little un.
Iiiii cannnnt seeeee.
Its eyes were grayed over.
Dachni cocked the revolver and put it against a big weeping saucerplate of an eye. Cain ye see that?
They chittered a foul mewling. Eathdeathdeathkiluskilluskisletusdiekillkillkillll diesendusaway.
Dachni pistol whipped the misshaped inflorescence into silence. Aint yet. Has ye seen any a ye a girl? A Kazakh girl. Nogirlnolifenolifenomenwerenotmenweweremenwewereno isenoisedeathmankilllllusssssspleasesleepsleepquie tusoncedeathrestbesilencevileprincewhoreswhoreswho resrestorehecomestopeaceHapercourtbreakersnogodbre akersthievesbrigandsmanureinyourthroatseebloodcaro lscarolsnogirltheyopenedsatan'scagenogirlthegirlsd idnononolifenothavelifekillushellisitwasbroomflier sthemooncrackstheyrecomingouthemoonseatherewerenin ebeforespiceswaterkillkillIgorshutupcursedusIcants tanditnogirlnowendweakestleftImweakmindisfadingfaa adiiingsavingdontsaveeeus.
Dachni shook her head. Shitten uva christ. Has ye seen innybody else?
It said something but was lost in the flicker on of the lights. A voice on the intercom Wykryto nieautoryzowany personel. The klaxons started again.
Whatd ye say? she shouted.
Itsteppedonus.
And she did too to engineering. Following the instructions of cacophony to an airlock door bearing a trefoil. She grabbed the handle and pulled herself up to peer through the porthole. Inside was a decontamination chamber. NBC suits hung from racks on the wall. A stand of bright yellow oxygen tanks. As she scanned the room her eyes lit upon another visage in the porthole of the inner lock.
She dropped. The inner door opened. A moment later the outer door shot wide. Dachni fired the last chamber of the revolver into the empty doorway and threw it in and aimed the machine pistol and waited. A second passed. A figure leapt out almost flush to the floor and before she could get a bead he seized her wrist and pulled her into the bulkhead. White pain. Her wrist popped. Blood flooded her eyes and she did not see the knee that slammed into her face. He had not yet let go her wrist nor was he off his back and he lifted her, a hand on her hip and flipped her onto his boots and launched her into the airlock. She bounced off the wall into the suits. She managed to her feet in time to see Blanter smile and wave his fingers through the porthole. He punched something and the inner door opened.
Immediately there was a taint in her mouth. She shut the inner door and pulled at the outer but it wouldnt open. She raked her hair and in anger raked the gash. She spun through the room searching. There was a roar growing from without the fury in her head. A keypad was next to the door. She pushed the keys crazily and punched it but it did nothing. Above it a release hatch. She pulled the clacker down and the door opened.
In the hall the phlegmatic nasalizing of horrors was clearer. When she reached the stairwell she could see the blind squirming of tentacles between the flights. Bloated and flesh colored. Their teethy maws yawning so that you could see in their throats the faces of the eaten still screaming within or a pair of withdrawing boots. The head bloom must have sensed this creature for they were invitatious of its stomach. They screamed her return to the upper floors where she picked up the flesh trail of Blanter making his way back to the growth chamber.
On her way the intercom blurted instructions. Wszyscy pracownicy ochrony powinni zgłaszać się na twoje stacje and Uruchomiono awaryjny sygnał ostrzegawczy and Nieautoryzowany dostęp do głůwnego genu.
She came to the chamber. The tracks led into the forest of tanks. Lit no longer and drained and the masochists within hung from the sterile bondage of their tubes. Through the glass she could see him. He had a laptop hooked into a stanchion console and he was typing feverishly. She glanced up at the observatory but she couldnt see the other man. When she looked back he was aiming the pistol at her. She dived for cover as the tank shattered in the volley. He ejected the clip and fetched another. A knife lodged in his chin and two blades snapped out of the hilt and fayed to that primary blade. The pistol clattered to the ground. Blanter staggered. He turned to look at who she could not see. He touched his face. Already it was subsiding and he tried to fit it back but now his coordination was not so well and he pushed too hard and his face slid up and plated his head. His eyes were gone and his frontal lobe exposed. The blood began to well.
The knifethrower walked out and retrieved his blade and sent Blanter to wander blind in the forest of drained tanks. He stooped to pick up the pistol and walked over and put the barrel against her head.
Ifn ye shoot the dagestai will kill ye.
Teraz můwią po angielsku. A quality of mutter like gargled glass.
She looked up into the wizened and scarry face of a squat warrior bedight with medallions unfurling a lambskin scrollwork on which were scrawled the psalms. He wore an exoskeleton modeled after the crusader plate to whats magnetic holster was locked an automatic amusette and sheathed across his back a powered block sword. He spun the knife in the air and the secondary blades folded off the main back into the hilt and sheathed the knife in a rib he had hollowed for the purpose.
Did ye hear?
Farther down the aisle Blanter tripped. He felt the ground as though unsure of it.
Ded ye hear?
I am heared. How do you know the dagestai?
She...she calls Dachni. Im her daughter.
What are you doing here?
Wasnt comed of no choice. Was goin couples a miles of Shalkar.
What place is that?
Haint acted no place. Its jess onna map where was. They aint no Shalkar no more.
I understand. Are you from the colonies?
Aye. Has ye seen a girl?
No.
Names Holnifa. She got to her knees, the pistol never unbowing her head as though she were a penitent. Shes a girl. A Kazzie. Is ye seened her.
No.
She pushed the pistol carefully towards the ground. Hassee seen nobody? Maybe even nobody kinded short? Black hair? Sidewise ovally eyesish? Relly serious.
I have seen no one.
Dachni dried her tears in the pit of her elbows. Wheres this place?
Whats your name?
Alessa, she said.
Hmm.
Huure you?
Jarosław.
Well we gotta find her.
I wont.
Fuck that. She took him by the belt. Ye knows the dagestai. Ye knows her. Ye know what shell do.
Jarosław regarded anew this wayward waif, far fierce and trembling.
Why wont ye wanta help? She needs help! Knows it. Shes the best. Shes the best person ever was. Ye mighta been told ta somethin but ye wasnt tolled not what ta do.






They went up to the observatory but the scientist wasnt there. The column had fully extended from the floor and in its hollow heart an empty slow where a vial had once been held.
New objective, he said. Got to find the impostor yeah? Whoever he is and recover the master stud.
Seened him. He was...She realized she hadnt gotten his name. What were his name?
I dont know.
Dessent ye work here?
Do I look like I work here?
She confessed he did not. How come ye aint got no shoes?
What you dont think we match well?

Traversing the tavern tunnel her gorge rose. She fought it down but before she got out it throttled her and she vomited prodigiously. In the bile a human finger, a human eye. An arm wrapped her waist and she was toted out. Emerging from the hatch she puked a tawny mush.
Girl what did you drink. I havent seen this since carnival.
Feels sick.
Ok ok. Were you feeling sick earlier.
She shook her head. Thin strands of spit hung from her lips. She wiped them.
Hey well find something for you. Right now were gonna go to the manor. If you think this place is most crazy shit wait till you see that.
The manor squatted upon a barren monticule overseeing the hamlet from its haughty edge. A grave torrent surphuled countenance of clockface and lancet barbican reminiscent of an ecclesiastic paradigm schemed by subversives in a mesonoxian fugue who may well have been decollated for their efforts. A seat of aristocratic decadence off limits to the polis who by standing decree were barred from interfering in the general violation of social mores and upon this collection of grim architectural features warrior and child bore down indifferent as the thunder.
Up these broad alluvial steps to the gateway terrace. Armored stag of a crest above the lintel. The doors had been stoved along their cherry grain and the rain had invaded with the rectification of the outrage so long incubating in the poverty below. They tread upon the cracked marble of the foyer. Urn shards littered the grounds and crystal glass from a skewed chandelier. A few bodies facedown clutching spade or trowel. The servant in the cloak room hacked apart with an angle weeder. They ascended the ripped up stair tread rya keeping far of the shattered balustrade whats jagged spindles curved an upward rictus. Into hallways door on door stoved. The quarters of the maids and the kennels of the slaves and the butler and abigail thereof butchered impartially. Scrollwork interrupted by wine stains and other fluids of the interminable orgies for which the estate was renowned. They came to a whelved barricade of furniture where the upper rot of society, having expended all other means and subjects, had effected a last stand with ornamental weaponry of an older age and they were there now limbs and heads mounted to the velvet or leather armatured battlements of chifforobe and trundle. Unpieced busts of ancestors long forgot and many times disgraced were strewn down these corridors through what ruptures of plaster can be seen the plundered dens once mured. Not alone is this insurrection but the irrepressible catastrophe of deviancy and time. The depravity occupying these shadowed warrens has uncottered for the monomaniacal ponderance of mortality no hedonism can sate. No. There is no clemency. Dachni witnessed this wasted opulence with premonition of her own demise where in wood fox gnawed or cold slabbed under surgeons preparing what implements to divide her into nothingness and night.
Clamor of ransack drew them to the home office where remnants of the fevered mob were busy producing articles of guilt from the myriad artifacts of this room of curios. The evidence lay on the desk and when the investigators saw them in the doorway they shouted their finds as though to a judge and a man waved a contract and pointed at the signet seal of the purchaser of services illegal and arcane from mercenary practitioners of the black arts who solicit their trade through crows and nightmares. Signed on the lefthand Krzesisław Paszkiewicz, on the righthand the Cattle Helix. This would have contented Dachni's apathy but the villagers conducted them to the dining hall where they were bid to consider the cannibal repast of human yesterfang and the deviant festering tastes portended. Lace intestines festooned the feast and individual organs were on ice with small blades to pare samples. Fried skins and pickled eyes and little champagne cups loaded with sculpted stool.
Joaquin spoke freely with these ragtags and they professed no knowledge of either his quarry or hers. They suggested a foray into the wine cellar, where they had been loathe to go, and to be careful of their false twins, and to kill Russians on sight.
Is they rusks here?
Her speech elicited wild claims of her nature from the villagers and it was Joaquin's intercession that prevented the lynching that would have otherwise assuredly occurred, the shinebloods having not yet propagated to the southern hemispheres. He deputized her in their presence sans ceremony and they went out.
An alienly feminine chanting drifted up from that dungeon. Otherworldly and unhinged.
Joaquin gave her the pistol and spare magazines. You have gone to hell and to hell and to hell.
Dachni racked back the slides. Lets to it then, she said.
This lower region was a wine cellar first, its gloom relieved by braziers mounted acute to the walls. They scouted through the high flanking stands of puncheons. Their tread upon angry octagrams in venn, their interiors burnt and littered with dead lady slippers and other flowers. She was no stranger to hazards drunk and her thoughts strayed on her thirst but she was already dizzy and this work required sobriety. She broke the octagrams suspecting them profane, tolerating as she did only Apostolic heresies. Perhaps reading in them the gnawing desire for mystery she disdained. But mystery negated is a mystery itself, for creation is mystery thus all mysterious. Older, more articulate, and hostile to enigmas she scribbled speculative works engage the intellect via the outplay of scenarios but in so doing lose the element of mystery whereas mystery for its life relies on hiddenness, its profundity deriving from arrangement.
A flanged goblet stood perched upon a brandrith of fluted human bones. She punted it and pagan dice sailed out and clattered on the floor. The narrow corridor of the wine opened up into a wider chamber. A gramophone played discordantly in a viscous wave of wax, the soil of the wick.
Oh that has the most fuckeds up, he singsonged.
Joaquin circled the filthy smears of candlewax in which the gramophone was decked.
Dachni would have tagged his revolutions but for the spilled dice. An eaglet femur charked on the anterior. A deathshead resting on the sleeves of its jester cap. A bavin of desiccated tadpoles. She stooped to examine a scorched walnut, split along the seam and sewn back together. Through the thread she could see a pair of enormous testes. She felt the auger in her ring finger. At her toes was an icosahedran die made of wood singed each face singed with the same rune. The last was a thimble. When she opened it five pieces more clattered out. Small things but among them a second thimble.
Hey!
Dachni looked up. Joaquin was strafing slowly into a junction.
Ven aca, he said making quick heeling motions with his fingers.
Wait.
She fished out her matches and lit one and set the second thimble on fire. She didnt begin to follow until it was consumed and then she ground it out with her heel. Olejniczak was waiting at the corner turn. As she walked she shot the gramophone. A bleeding hole appeared in the case and a more ghostly sound howled out. She shot it again and the back bracket split, spraying blood and the tone arm shoved low and forward and the stylus scratched across the shellac and the horn blared a more whiplash screeching hellish until a third shot killed it altogether.
As she rounded the corner she was confronted with a massive portrait of the manor lineage. It was a peculiar patriarch who would commission such repulsive caricature of himself and Dachni in this comprehended the opposite, the tenants of censorship and the authoritarian need for a perfect representation that can never be achieved and which is the root of paranoia. For originals being flawed how then can the replica be perfect but by deceit and how can the article not perceive the deceit? And the more exaggerated the qualities the more obvious the flaw and if perfection then destruction. A lineage hereafter in martial outfit. Their bleeding hollow eyes. Their gold frogged smocks. Crawling towards this landscape of the dead was a heathen wounded along the side.
Dachni walked past her and touched the portrait. Her fingers sank through. A warm sucking feeling. She pulled her fingers free and the heavy inkish sludge dripped back into the portrait. And was she within? She pressed her face through and kept an eye open but it was darkness and the breath she drew was that othersludge and were she within she were dead.
Joaquin stood over the heathen.
She kicked the heathen over and would have dropped a knee into her sternum but was pulled back.
Hold on we dont do that.
Fuck is dont. You. Where is she? Huh? Talk ye wricked cunt. Yer gonna go the bad way. You talk.
But he would not let her be flayed to a fetus nor stripped of breasts nor would he see her eyes plucked cruelly out.
Fuck ye shes gotta talk.
I dont care youre not doing that to her. We dont do that. Thats wrong. You want to fight someone standup do it hurt em but you dont do it when theyre down.
Fuck that.
He palmed her head to stay her but the heathen had expired with a groan.
Now its the chance lost.
Dont worry. Well find her.
Joaquin entered the ink portal and the disturbance rippled to the corners of the pool and stilled.
Dachni tested the heathen with her foot. Ye alive? No. An ye you stupid son of betch. Shit aint waitin.
She jogged towards the portal. As she was to enter it Joaquin barged out and knocked her down.
Gah fuck.
He turned and saw her lying on the ground and stooped and dragged her back from the portal. Come on girly warrior we have to go.
Dachni stood painfully. What?
They are coming.
Is she with em?
No.
Then lets fuck off.
One of them might know the whereabouts of your friend.
They aint gonna fuckin know.
Dachni started back towards the entrance. At the corner she hollered back at him. Theyre gonna fuck ye up if ye stay. Ye aint gettin no help.
Tchůrz!
She ran past the murdered gramophone and mounted the steps. The roar of the shotgun stopped her. She jumped up and down twice and ran back down. Olejniczak appeared at the junction. She collided into him and slumped down holding his leg like a pole.
Harry the fuck up.
He didnt hear. He merely checked what had run into him and resumed firing. And what he fired at was a seething tower of flesh advancing across the floor in horrific amorphousness. The wet mouths smacking for parley and the jutting arteries engorged as hoses spouting geysers of blood when ruptured. Dachni added her ineffectual fire against this writhing inexorable tide.
Fuck it! she cried. She grabbed a strut of his exoskeleton. It aint gonna die!
The thing unraveled a face of slanted planes like those of dice. An adherence to geometric order. An affinity for octagons.
She pulled at him again. Lessen! Set the house on fire. Bury it in a burn!
This snapped the warrior out of his daze. He turned and swept her from her feet and ran her to the steps. The moment before they turned the corner the heaping mass finished ejaculating out of the patriarchy. A red scaled fiend of tentacles slavering and wild and drooling a brackish slime that hissed on the floor. It latched its puckered tentacles to the walls and pulled itself through the room.
As they ran through the stands of casks she called out.
Save a wine!
The thing rounded the corner and spit a half digested puck of a man that slid across the floor and took Olejniczak's feet out from under him. He landed on his back and rolled to a side and discharged his shotgun until the tube was empty and then he kicked himself up and dashed up the stairs taking them four and five at a time and with the sucking growling appendages snapping at his hinds. He burst through the doorway so fast he dented the plaster of the far wall.
Calls for amnesty emanated from below. He ran to the door and slammed it and backed away and reloaded the shotgun. The flooring buckled outward.
Give me your matches.
That aint gonna fuckin do it.
No time to argue. He hefted her underarm again and rifled her pockets and came up with the matchbox. They went up the second floor. Below they could hear the walls giving.
It aint gonna work now, Dachni shouted.
He was looking for anything flammable. Drapes. He struck the matches and set the cool diaphanous black veils to fire and they curled upward in daint licentiousness and you could see in their billowing silhouettes of vixens dancing.
They met the villagers coming down a hall burdened with evidence. Unaware of the monster loose. He ordered them down to the kitchen to turn on the gas without lighting the pilot thereafter generate as much fire as they could and escape. They dropped what was circumstantial and went.
A sundering of walls tremored them. Cracks that told the undermining of the structure's integrity. They heard screams below and then they heard the cracking of glass and at a northern porthole they saw the villagers fleeing across the fields towards the woods. Did they manage the gas or no.
Varnish smoke curled out of the rooms from which theyd proceeded. It was hot and dark and the manor was shaking with the ferine prowling of the beast now free and fumigating the manor with its noxious hellos to any potential residents with a cordiality that betrayed a genteel condition.
The upper floors were ablaze now and the fire had backed them to an end of a windowless hall. Olejniczak shattered an exit for them and toting her out climbed down the face of the manor while Dachni puked.
In the end though the thing escaped. They heard it roar and they sank themselves into the mud of the street and watched it burst out of the corner of the house and stampede into a herd of rotting sheep. They fled like a chlorine nimbus bahing in terror and were bludgeoned flat and devoured.
Dachni nudged the warrior.
Quiet, he whispered.
Gotta kill that thing, she said.
Later.
Has to.
Why?
Cause she might be in there.
I dont think so.
Dachni nodded sadly her head in the mud. Shes in there.
Following the healthless sour rain filled pans of a stampede in the street her bowels gave. A dark rot that oozed down her legs. She collapsed to her knees and vomited again. She had barely strength to spit the runny seep that flowed into her mouth. A coldness hung out of her. She reached into her pants and pulled out her fetish. Th silver three whose crimes she had long contemplated. She washed it the rancid rainwater and threaded her finger with the chain and clasped the loop and took the helping hand that brought her back up.
The tracks led to the village well where dozens lay slaughtered in common. Bright brass shells in the mud. She sorted the dead. The well was constructed of a section of concrete pipe fitted over the hole with boards laid across. A dowsing stick as might a giant use was fitted into posts and the fork ends wore weight plates. A chain ran a groove along the rod that dipped into the well. She tugged the chain.
Sturded nuff.
Sturdy? Yes.
She wrapped the chain around her crown and gripped the cold links. Then she mounted the rim of the well.
Why are you going down?
If she aint in there...she pointed towards the rapacious din beyond the izbas, then shes down here.
If it comes stay down.
Ok.
She descended into a gulf of blackness. Brackish drippings. She had to stop every few seconds to rest. The bricking was badly weathered and when she groped a toehold to ease her descent a section of wall folded out. She kept going. When she reached the bucket she called up.
Ye has the matches!
Theyre gone. Catch the flashlight. Ready?
Ready!
It flew down. She caught it by the tipped and flipped it right. She turned on the light. It was as she had known, the well stoppered with the dead. She turned up the pile and shined light upon the dead but these Lendians were not her.
Well?
Shes not here.
In her reascent she braced her legs against the lining. A brick dislodged. There was a rumble and then it was as falling up through the earth. She scrambled hand over hand towards the squalor light. The cap was sinking into the hole and she clawed over its rim and flung herself to the ledge and landed half upon it. The ground was sinking under her chest and the bodies were caving in upon her. She scrabbled and through them a living arm seized her wrist and pulled her through.
She was not altogether recovered when two barearmed figures contaminated the drabness of the street with their color. In rank tatterdemalion fur dyed pink and white and helmeted in the flowery skulls of cattle, their arms painted crimson and sienna and their long legs ankle to the jade. Rain pattered down. They beckoned and shifted away through the bullet stricken chata. Her vision was blurred but it seemed their legs did not move.
Maybe the last, said Olejniczak.
How many has ye done in?
I contented the Cattle Helix and Mere who with my broad seax I freed the boiling euripus of her veins into highest and unreturning tide.
Killed a here, an another in the mounties.
She rose and shed her shitstained dress and hacked a pair of jeans to ragged length and skinned a jerkin out of the torso of a man and scalped his lock wig and strapped herself with a corset of belts.
Is ye goin affer?
Yes.
They walked a mucky alley of dead hoggets and shepherds to a sickly pasture near the edge of a wood disease had ruined. Where moldy checkered mounds of cow lay. At the treeline they were. In poor state and now nearer she could see one was convulsing sporadically, light but noticeable, and that her bleeding sister was her support.
Where is she? she yelled, nodding the cleaver in tune to her words.
I too would have answer.
This ye gotta keep out of.



He wore a wolf cape and bore a heavy automatic shotgun and his length was seven feet and broad.
You there littlest, if most fierce, if thou hast voice I charge thee speak.
Who the fucks are you? she wheezed.
Kwiatosław Olejniczak. What art thou if thou be not devils?
Dont know em. Has ye seen a girl? A little girl. Shes a Kazakh kinded desert little. Hasha machine arm.
You there fool, do you not recognize your own kin?
Verily no. Though we speak alike.
We speak the same.
Has ye seen a girl!
Ive seen no sort of that to which you allude. But unfold them your companions. Who are they?
Dead.
They stand.
Theyre gonna die.
Is it that Ive disturbed a feud among witches?
Shoot them. An tell ye a secret.
The warrior looked at the heathen.
Refrain most mighty buhaj, said the heathen of the rose, Oxbow.
That was a nickname my mother saved. Speak.
We have business with this spectral viper who has upset the roster of our coven, Lamia additioned. Aroint but with our blessing, Anastazja shall betrothe.
How is this known? What intelligence have you of her?
By Neptune's reflected course along the Black Sea coast her heart we know hopes much as yours.
The warrior looked at the child. Do you too provoke the planets?
Ta fucks planets do with anyfie? Shoot em an Anaya ta dagestai shell have ye kitted to the keys.
The alien king I have heard of. And you hence of her?
Aye.
But Ive also heard the planets do influence the destinies of men. What then to choose when this child secular seems more the evil and nobler the cause?
Ifn ye aint ta take sides then keep a fuck of the way.
The heathen adjoined together: This too we advise.
Olejniczak ported his shotgun. Ill tarry to see the victor, not for sport but that to her my pledge may go but yet you shant kill a child.
Then small sister thy carnage perform an we shall let the whites of eggs refill your emptied gudgeons.
You we shall calver and jar.
Dost though wish no help? asked the murderer. They are not immune to kinetics.
Not from him. Aint from you.
Then take this.
He handed her a
The heathen brandished badelare and backsword. Thirty paces divided them. Dachni started walking towards them. The walk became a jog that burst into a sprint. The harridan of the rose moved towards her without haste and Dachni knelt genuflected suddenly. The cleaver flipped through the air and lodged in the dipped nasal peak of the ox skull the heathen wore. Lamia advanced quicker, gliding, a petite toe leaving a wake in the mudwater. She thrust and Dachni slid under the blade and discharged



Thirty paces divided them and Dachni started to close it. A walk that became a jog that burst into a sprint. The harridan of the rose moved towards her without haste and Dachni knelt suddenly, her knee harrowing the mud, her forehead below her knee. The cleaver flipped through the air and lodged in the dipped nasal peak of the ox skull she wore. Lamia advanced more quickly, gliding, a petite toe leaving a wake in the mudwater. She thrust and Dachni slid under the blade and discharged the shotgun into her stomach. Lamia exploded in two and a downpour of viscera spilled out of her. But she wasnt dead. She elbowed Dachni in the temple and Dachni staggered back and ducked under the blind swipe of a knife and jabbed again and rinded the muscles from her shoulder. Lamia switched grips and stabbed down and cut open her ass and Dachni overhooked her arm and punched away the cheeks of her enemy. She felt the sword slide up her backside too weak to cut. Herself to weak to do anything but hug her divided enemy. Blood was leaking out of her anus. She shaved Lamia's forehead off and got her fingers under the eyebrows and ripped off the rest of her face. The red muscles gleaned and the whole of her eyes were upon her. She heard the suck of mud and threw herself to the right and the cleaver stuck in her enemy's hip. She pulled the revolver and fired off the last two chambers and threw the revolver away and punched Oxbow in the cunt and torqued the blades. The clit was shorn, the labia was shorn. She kicked the near heel outboard and Oxbow fell and Dachni raked the blades up her pelvis and turned them in her belly and with her empty hand reached through the fascia through the gray coils of intestines and crushed a kidney. The breath of Oxbow passed out of her. Dachni sat up and freed the cleaver from the sister and hacked off her head and the second witch mounted.
Wheres Holfie? she gasped in a daze. Her head bowed into the mud. Talks quick ye aint half dead.
The witch's mouth moved but it was the severed head that answered.
Release her and Ill tell you.
Dachni groped behind her and swam the head against her face. The eyes followed her. Ta fuckin fuck.
I see yet.
Dachni clucked her tongue and thumbed out an eye. The head screamed.
Yell see by a eye not more. An yull show.
When the witch head had ceased her cursing she promised on condition that the child release her sister and reattach her head.
On yours Yandvilai eats ye so show.
And so she showed. By then Dachni could barley stand. Olejniczak gave her an injection and carried her and kept Lamia arrested while the head told the way to a hovel in the woods. The door was booted and the door did not come out of the frame but the frame out of the wall. In the center of the room was a massive hole and by the sink of the painted floorboards towards its dark gape it looked as though something had punched through.
The oven, muttered the head.
Dachni searched the gloom. A large woodstove in a corner. Dachni threw the head aside and rushed out of Olejniczak's arms to the oven and threw open its gate. Therein Holnifa bound and moaning.
Oh god.
She pulled Holnifa out.
Holfie!
Dachi!
She cut away the bindings and they embraced. Holnifa choked on her weeping she was so dehydrated. Three days in the oven lapping water from a dog bowl. Olejniczak gave her his canteen and she drank it empty.
Meanwhile the head had been pushing itself across the floor with an overlong green tongue. Dachni saw it too late. It grinned and winked and with a final thrust tipped itself onto the grading boards and rolled clattering out of sight. They looked into the hole.
Aint goin down there.
I would refrain.
She looked at Lamia. Its gonna come ta you now.
Holnifa watched mutely her prying nails from the floorboards. Long rusty staves of tetanus. When she had thereabouts forty she got a tire iron where it was fitted to the chain drive bolt of a bicycle and she flipped it and caught it by the handle and bludgeoned Lamia near to death and nailed her hands to her face and rolled her in the oven eleven hours to roast.
Buried her in the wastelot in a dung pile


They sat on stumps in the frontyard in a cold drizzle. This lone warrior hailed from Bydgoszcz, an initiate of the Porzadek Poszukiwaczy and tasked with investigating the disappearance of a platoon sent to investigate the sudden quietus of this village Malhowice. He was in the third week of his ordeal and he had not spoken to anyone outside the village in seventeen hours. In the tunnels under the village he had battled creatures defying natural description and he suspected them products of a bioweapons program in acute violation of every weapons treaty of the CSC. A cache of documents recovered from a subterranean bunker led him to believe that the mystery laboratory had been funneled millions in randomized cryptocurrencies through shell companies tied to Nikanor Prokovsky, the majority shareholder of RussSol, a Novgorod energy conglomerate.
Dachni had been damping her friends brow with a cloth and not really been listening. She was feeling a little better and with concentration she could control her bowels. Saw a grayer, she said. He were workin somethin.
Had he purple irises and a shrunken ear?
Aye he haddem both.
His name is Dykas. Hes part of the staff. Or was. Is he alive?
Reckin so. Hates him almost much as thems. He. He took somethin. Somethin outta the floor.
Dykas?
Aye an run off. Doan knows wheres.
Dachni coughed into her fist and when she opened it there was blood.
Olejniczak rubbed the back of her neck. You are an American.
An hers too, she said jostling Holnifa.
I hold methinks a contingence answers to Fadlin. He explains the procedure. First the portraits of the village are acquired, their aliases and occupations, uncovering the relations external to the village. This intelligence gained a ready stock of vat grown humans called men are given surgery to duplicate the countenances of them they would impost. Then there is a night when special purposes comes and these false persons are introduced providing by this infiltration a guerrilla force behind enemy lines, this is the misfortune befallen the souls here.
Dachni paused in her attempts to suscitate her friend. Ye mean all tems in the streets?
Nay. Those I slayed. The originals are in that sleep that the grave best provides. A cellar.
Alla em?
Yes.
Shitfire they was hunneds.
There were.
Ye gunned em down?
The warrior looked off into the gray and pathogenic woods. They put up their fight.
What about that head squawky?
Olejniczak frowned. A soldier begs not the answers to mysteries.
October 23rd, 2606
All night they listened to the groaning of the woods under the new moon. A small taper burned over a dead coal pit. Olejniczak had given her a pistol and they had devised informally a watch and they would one walk the perimeter while the other guarded Holnifa and they would check the witch and check the hole but she could never finish her watch.
In the morning a YAG pulled up to the hovel. An imitation jeep. The driver by his haggardness seemed to have henced from his own adventures and when he got out the warrior hailed him as his saucy giermek. He folded the front seat forward to let the girls into the back and he locked it back in place. Before they left he rigged the hovel with charges and they drove clear of the woods and parked and got out. Olejniczak flipped the safety off the clacker and squeezed the trigger. A thick plume of smoke erupted out over the trees and the trees fell and shook and the ground trembled under them. They got into the YAG as pieces of smoldering bark began to rain down. The driver put the YAG into gear and they pulled away.
Through the rear window she watched the dilapidation of wood and village dispel as some miasmic cancer. Theyd gone about fifteen miles when they saw a checkpoint on the road. A military cordon. They got out. The YAG was taken to a garage for decontamination and they for the same purpose were led to a pod where they were given small strapless goggles and were hosed down by men in hazard suits. They toweled off in the antechamber and were let out through the airlock.
Fresh uniforms were provided and clothes requisitioned from a nearby farm for the children. Dachni was given pills to take with instructions to finish the bottle. An organ sedan was provided along with orders that would have the warrior to a debriefing. They got in and passed the second cordon and were on their way in serener lands. Farm country. Cows in the pastures. Puffy clouds of sheep mending through gates to the shearers by a dog. Even in her exhaustion Dachni pointed out a windmill but Holnifa sat with her head bowed and she would see nothing.
In a few hours they were admitted to a military base outside Gomil. Olejniczak contriving lies for the corporal of the guard pertaining to his children. VIPs. The corporal listened intently and pocketed the denominations covertly and waved them through.
They drove a long road past the base store and barbershop towards a runway where a fighter jet was taking off. The engines screaming less shrill as the nozzles widened. It roared down the runway and yawed up but Holnifa wouldnt lift her head to watch.
They pulled up to a barracks and a private inside the little cubicle logged them in. Olejniczak stared at the sign in sheet.
Jaki dziś dzień?
Dwudziesty czwarty.
Můj Boże.
He carried them to a squad bay where others of his order kept simple quarters. Cots and lockers. Shrines that doubled as the sheathes of longswords.
The paramedic who examined Holnifa remarked of the stitchwork he had not seen such mastery even in his grandmother's quilting club. He administered an antitumescent via the jugular and set up an IV in her cephalic vein to keep her hydrated and started her on a course of antibiotics. She slept. Olejniczak departed for his debrief.
Dachni woke in daylight. A pain lanced her abdomen and blood had stained the seat of her trousers. Holnifa was asleep. She took her pills dry and wandered the bay. The cots were simple twin sized contraptions of canvas stretched taut over steel frames. The footlockers could not have held much. She studied Olejniczak's shrine. It was a tall diptych reliquary that sheathed a wooden bastard sword down its center and which served as its divide. It was the strangest sword she had ever seen. The blade was like a block, three fingers thick, and strings of a nickel alloy ran from the crossguard to the top of its wide fuller either side. The doors opened to a paradigm of unique worship. Strange artifacts of faith. A gas mask. A Polish ensign. A double crucifix with Dismas and Gestas melded at the knees. A rosary. A shard of topaz. A coil of wire around which glass had melted and other items of vitrification. She shut the doors. She started out of the bay but stopped. Three of the order were praying silently at their shrines. She tapped a zealot on the shoulder.
Hey.
The warrior looked from under his hood at her. Tak?
Is ye gonna watch her? She pointed at Holnifa. Оны қараңыз.
Co?
Watch her.
The warrior gripped his hip and turned. Yes yes.
Vending machines stood in dusty rows like upright sarcophagi in a recess of the hallway. Sweet wrapped confections, sodas, coffees. She punched the buttons randomly and moved on suspicious. Upstairs was a weight room that smelled like a weight room. A few olympians bench pressing. Down the hall was a recreation room where the off duty watched the news in a language more foreign to her ears than Aienee.
Downstairs at the guardroom watching the private who watched her inch her hands up onto the counter. He set his coffee down and she scrabbled away the logbook and ran with it to the squad bay and shut the door and locked it. In the columns signatures in blue or black and none alike. The door unlocked and the private caught her by the nape and restored the logbook to his possession.
Przestań pieprzyć na około.
She went back to Holnifa and snuggled up beside her. Are you ok?
Holnifa stared sadly at the ceiling. She didnt answer.
Next time. Less shake the airboat. Ok? Holfie ok?
Hours later a st sierz informed them that the diplomatic mission in Lodz had been contacted and they were busy contacting the Aiegietti. Difficulties arose immediately. Kiev refused access to their airspace and the war stricken Dominion of Romania was under a no-fly zone. Tandem couriers raced to and fro from the barracks to the communications tower and the process of the negotiation was summarized report by report until Kiev had exacted several unspecified concessions.
Who knew the pilot's thoughts? Soaring over where kin in gluttony to those rending ghouls that sup and starve ignorant that to starve is to satiate, ranged under the unminded suns like a revenant what rectification of order could be construed through blood. Or studied herself dissociate and newborn as though her figure from the annals she would efface and leave no more residue than legend where the jagged quill of time had scratched her in the past.
The transport landed around midnight. The doors opened and the pilot with fearsome retinue stalked through the glow of the runway lights, beryl, cherry. Poorly
The transport landed around midnight. The doors opened and the pilot with fearsome retinue stalked through the glow of the runway lights, beryl, cherry. Poorly abiding protocol with the poles who had almost to jog to maintain the illusion of conducting her. The barracks door opened and the pilot entered the squadbay. Dachni began to whimper.
What the fuck happened to your hair?
It were horrible!
+
How does the general think? Hostility towards the pilot, nationalistic, jingoistic but also a realist. Explore national mythos?

Between the colonies and the commonwealth no intelligence sharing agreement formal or otherwise existed and so when the pilot requested copies of the materials recovered from the village Olejniczak refused. An altercation ensued wherein each pondered the calamitous and eternal night in the bores of the guns that would yet be triggered by a spark. The deadlock was relieved by an adjunct arrived to extend an offer of reception from the base commander.
This commander bore the rank of general dywizji but if this got him any favor at all it was not apparent for his housing was hardly more than a studio flat in a complex that housed the base officers. He was a stout possessor of the longevity gene who showed only forty of his years. In his bedraggled and unbuttoned dress blouse he bore a faint scent of vodka but was otherwise clean. His study had been abroad and he harbored Anglo mannerisms acquired during a stint as military attache to the EAF.
He made no comment upon the earlier confrontation but started right into the toasts that was the excuse to drink. He toasted the progenitor of the Piast and the chipping of his jagged sword against the gate and he toasted the rozpruwacz, that exemplary rifle envied by armies worldwide, and he toasted the martial honor of his country.
A woman emerged from the kitchen and set down plates of salo on blackbread. Ciszej. Dzieci śpią.
Yah yah niewiasta, he said grinning. You see I am the major but she is the general. Its what I said when I was a major.
This woman his wife regarded her guests with the weary and abiding maternity of the destitute like a solemn gaggle that must be managed as a whole without consideration of appurtenance but upon seeing the mangling of Holnifa she stifled a gasp and clucked about her a full minute until she had felt out the wound and then she scuttled back to the kitchen. The microwave hummed. The faucet ran. She came back with a steaming towel in which to wrap her neck and a warm glass of milk.
Meanwhile the general had not ceased to raise his glass and now it was to the honorable violation of human conduct in the name of nations but the pilot cut him short and pressed her case. He downed his shot and set the glass on the table and turned it in his fingers. He looked like a uniformed walrus. He explained the predicament, a tinge of disappointment in his voice in having to explain it. That he was obviously unauthorized to release classified materials, not without review and not to foreign nationals. He gave nuance to the diplomatic situation as he understood it, that the aienee were not impartial to their hosts and even if they were he would salt any word she would give not to distribute the intelligence allowing the high probability that any materials shared would peradventure be leaked to ISEC thereby compromising the security of the państwo.
He continued that the respective political bodies to which they were member had triflingly interacted and so had no rapport on which an agreement could be founded. That the ambassador, a gentleman of noble stock, had been entertained a weekend years ago, had been refused reception again, and his own invitations to repay even this wanting hospitality going unanswered.
The pilot sketched briefly then her government, its hierarchy of castes and though the general knew he listened carefully. When she finished he replied that even in that imprecatory age the illusion of democracy had to be maintained and that the colonial and aienee governments had violated this taboo flagrantly, defying all expectations of conformity insomuch as they were predicated upon cults of personality and that dealings with them invited the censure of civilized nations, the Polish theocratic junta included. When the pilot balked he chuckled lowly and said she aught not be surprised for men were the most adaptable of creatures who if given time could come to enjoy the aesthetic of which specie of raptor pecks his liver.
The wife wrapped her knuckles against his skull. Bądź przyzwoity. She set down a fruit bowl and a bottle of port and went to see about the retinue that had accompanied the pilot. They smoked on the balcony shoulder to shoulder with the order under a flyspeck light bulb in what's dim light rendered them like as conspirators to grave treason. They complimented her on her hospitality and watched the cherries of their cigarettes burning towards the filters and listened to the jets scream like the souls Charon need not palt with his his oars.
Smoke fumed steadily out of the pilot's sides. Her lips parted but before she could speak the general added that hospitality obliged his generosity whilst diplomacy bid her not ask anything he must refuse.
I can call the ambassador if you want.
Im talking to you.
I cant talk about political matters. Its against the law.
The pilot tapped off the ash from her cigarette. Her eyes flicked to the wife as she crossed the little dining room to her husband. Would that I were an aletaster. These documents will help build the case against Moscow. Which helps you. Belarus is a pawn. Dementyev is not so unambitious that he would not try the patience of the nations. Fate has already smiled on him. Who knows what constellations he sees in the night. Fursenko will strike a deal guaranteed. Hell drive straight to Bucharest, to Budapest, to Bratislava. Excused every inch of ground in the name of protecting Russian nationals. Whereupon your province will be enveloped. There is a threshold of outrage which if not exceeded will allow him to Paris. The CSC will tolerate even flagrant violations but while they can ignore only so much any plausible deniability, even nigh impossible deniability, will prove excuse enough for inaction.
The general advanced a forearm across the table and wagged a finger. You think this is the first time weve been invaded? We have survived many conquerors. We stretch back to the alpha, we will reach the omega.
Your existence depends on the balance we provide. I provide. Lets not fool ourselves. I am that fulcrum on which this war turns. Youre an old man. Have I spoken falsely in any regard?
The general wiped the inside of his shotglass with a finger. Ok Im going to call the ambassador. You chat him as much as you want.
Ill have this talk with you. With you. With you. Where is my deceitful speech? Where is the flaw in my logic.
The joints of the chair groaned under the leaning back of the general. Sure you know how old I am. And in this century and sixty years I have learned a secret about lying. I know that the best lie is the truth. The truth out of the wrong mouth is a lie. How do I say it in English? He drummed the beveled edge of the table. Its the intention. Its the intention behind the truth thats the lie. Not quite my meaning but proximate.
The pilot lifted her glass and twirled a little vortex in the vodka. You should say that the motive that expostulates truth fouls that truth. For there are facts immutable and then there is the use of those facts which a faction can fathom and which a faction cannot. Between the ignorance of desire and the use of truth lies the deception.
Youre a cunning little snake.
Silence fell over the balcony. The smoke slowly sucking away into the night. Somewhere behind the trees a car was driving offbase. The wife put a new loaf to the table. Můwić o czymś innym.
The pilot finished her vodka and poured her glass full again. She made to pour another for the general but Dachni mounted the table.
Wetchens! she cried. They was wetches!
The general pulled back the bottles from her knees. Witches?
Aye. Uzz ye leaf uff em?
The general looked at the pilot through the smoke. He waggled a thumb at his betrothed. IM married to one, he said downing his drink. He leaned as though in confidence. And to another before her.
Dachni cackled. But abe really is! First was guys nattam pruned ta wetches.
A quiet murmur resumed on the balcony.
Thats called a trap, said the general pouring another round.
Dachni windshield wiped her legs right and helped Holnifa into the pilot's lap and loaded herself rearwise on the vacant thigh. Ets true. An werbed hayzi scary.
Are witches scary?
Coses is. Ye dont tinks em saries?
He glanced at the shadow creeping up behind him on the floor. His wife shuffled past with a stool. She set it next to Holnifa, her to tend. Dachni gave a double glance in askance and swatted at her like an ornery cat but the wife ignored her.
I never really thought about it, he said. What makes a witch scary?
Dachni stumbled swatting. Casts can...can casts fire.
The general agreed folklore commonly attributed the command of fire to witches.
An is fly.
On dustbrooms at mach 2.
An they ay they annnnnnn wey mopo mope.
The general shot his vodka and poured another glass. Is that Aienee?
No, said the pilot.
Dachni finally leaned over and hugged Holnifa away and glared at the wife. They make potions. Ets a witchy tendency.
The wife dipped her fingers in a slave and massaged it into Holnifa's neck and Dachni pried at her fingers.
An cast spells.
That too.
So haint that pretty scary?
The general rested his crossed arms on his gut. No.
Not spells?
I can summon a VF92 combustion chamber and in several hours a drone descends from the sky and delivers. Thats a viable spell.
Ode ye aint huhfaid?
The general resettled in his seat. He thought a moment, deciphering her words. I could maybe be afraid of the witch.
Sowed how?
First we have to ask is the witch scary because of what she can do or because of what she is. What is a witch?
Its uhhh...well shitfire dont know.
Why dont we tell between actual witches and those idiot frolics who get high on mushrooms and masturbate in the woods.
Teodor, exclaimed the wife stomping on his foot.
He guffawed.
Dachni rubbed her brow. Tweppin bout Miley?
Who?
Nevermind.
It has no bearing.
Ye mean huntin bears?
I mean what has it do with our discussion.
Oh. No. It were nothin.
OK if you say it must be so. Too much farther we should talk about fetching or hideous. It doesnt matter?
Whats fetching?
Pretty, said the pilot.
Aye. Prolly dont matter. Ye sure they isnt scary? Caint they make ye see isnt really there?
Men can make themselves see anything.
They was a fwog iffed dog paws.
Bardzo dziwny. Witches are girls. Maybe whats scary about a witch is that a girl can cast fire and eat baby skins and that.
Cant they kill folk in the wishing?
Why not? You can fry a cyborg's brain with an EW suite. Arent we really asking if witches are scarier than anything else? How relatively scary is a witch?
Pretted damn scary.
My paladin tales you bested a pair.
Of witch? Aye did win.
Can you win against an earthquake?
Whats a earthquake?
Its when the ground shakes and rips apart.
Aint really sounded as somethin ta win against.
Bravo, the general said clapping his hands languorously. Maybe then we can say witches are not as scary as earthquakes.
Weahhhh kinded ye could reckon that.
He wobbled his hands like a seesaw. Indifference versus purpose. An earthquake is indiscriminate. A witch has to be specific. They have recipes and incantations and rituals and sabbaths. They are very cerebral. Did you ever hear of a dumb witch?
Welllllllllellllllllllllp!
The pilot had pinched her lips closed. Normal child.
Mmay.
The pilot unveiled her mouth.
The general smiled. I hypothesize the fear of the witch stems from the innocence of the girl. The more ehh immaculate she is the more monstrous the transformation. She can be a maiden she can be a mother but she becomes a witch with powers to do war like evils. Witches are predators. Like soldiers. Theyre agents of war. They have the same abilities. Theres even an estoterr...esoterry?
Esoteric.
Esoteric aspect to the soldier.
Where did you learn that word, interrupted the pilot.
From you.
Hmm.
I say, said the general, he has command of many powers excess the witch. But thats irrelevant. The soldier is inhuman, the witch is humanity exaggerated. Maybe its that magic has not advanced parallel to technology. Or approach the subject from an anthropological theology. The soldier hypers the masculine, the witch the feminine.
Tat haint hactly it though is it?
Maybe it is it. The soldier has infrastructure at his heels. For every rifle toter there is six and sometimes seven supports. If the witch is patronized by a desk bound wing of the tribe of hell then there really isnt much difference logistically. The witch learns her witchery the way a private gyms his muscles or scholars his tactics. Casting a spell is like calling an airstrike. Witches are supernatural, soldiers is hypernatural. They are produced by civilization and hell and civilization is an imitation of heaven and hell is the mirror of heaven. But since witches are rare and civilizations are not we know what rules the świat. We also know which is scarier. If witches were scarier they would rule butt hey dont. Civilization imbues, no not that word, imbues, the soldier bears civilization on his shoulders. They both channel the will of their kingdoms. Tell me what can a witch do? Terrorize a house? Poison wells? Make crops fail? Or make it rain too much. They can give you a cold. We can absolve cities in a atomic split. We can make forest floor in an hour. We have flechette rockets, hydrochloric grenades, drone swarms, stratospheric bombers, satellite launchpads, plasma machine guns, hypersonic ATGMs, man-carried high burst direct energy weapons, SUDFRs, single use discardable flame rockets, living barbed wire encoded with the palmar reflex, thank Bethel for that abomination. Isnt a landmine a mechanical hex? Ive fought seventeen wars, some momentous, most flashes, but wars. I wont extinguish my dignity but two drawers soiled per war. A witch could not even make me piss my pants.
What if they was affer you?
What is the fairytale of the cookie house? The boy and girl and the stepmother?
Jaś i Małgosia, supplied his wife.
Tak. Important to remember that its the witch got cooked. Theyre not every good fighters. If I had an attachment theyd be reconnaissance. They operate at night. But no matter how powerful the individual, the masses working together snuffs them out like blink. Maybe once upon a time the witch was scary but now? Man is accustomed to worse. But maybe that isnt true. Lets go back. Whats scarier? Two armies gutting another or a knight battling a jedza? The same principle holds true. Whats a knight without his armor and sword and shield? He made none of what he wields. This division of labor gentles the smithy to knighthood. A civilization sends out its paragon to combat the dragon. With the advent of civilization anyone could be a knight but where are our witches? We have no witches left to fight.
Theys witches left. An fought em.
Did you win? Yes he said you won.
Aye.
So whats the point?
Of what?
Of our talk?
Ye asked on witches.
I never asked.
Surred yessed. Ye asked out em.
You brought up the subject.
Never did.
The general looked at the pilot. What is your opinion on witches?
The pilot had one arm behind the chair back. Whats a witch to me? If they exist very well. If no nothing is lost except witches. I agree that the archetypal embodiment of the feminine perverted is the fear of the witch but that is nothing. There is fear of the whore. There is fear of the matron. There is fear of the spider. What son has looked upon his mother and not seen the dry sucking of the matrix's dead lips? The dead aridity from whence he was evacuated. There is fear of everything and few fears surpass others. To say there is fear of feminine is what?
How then against witch legions, not thy typical sixth?
The general shrugged. There are no such legions. If there were an airstrike.
The pilot smiled. If a portal to hell opened.
He laughed. Drop a nuke down the hole and then cap it with geothermal spike. Free energy.
If the devil showed up.
Weve got the fiddles to fuck him up.
If Jesus came again.
He guffawed. I have 2x4s in my shed. And Tobiasz next door? Hes a damn fine cieśla.

+
They left early in the morning. Boarding the transport she turned. Rain had sweetened the air with the odor of grass and asphalt. The control tower stood like a medieval turret. Hardened hangars lined loosely the runway and between them the wide hatches of the subterranean launchpads. From the tower someone waved but she didnt know who. The pilot tugged her in. She grasped wildly for Holnifa and pulled her along.
As she stepped in her feet left the ground.
Hey hey hey sumtins wrong! Sumtins wrong!
She flailed above deck.
Theres no gravity in here, said the pilot touching a seat upside down to face her.
Dachni wailed. She looked back and the torque spun her. The right world without whipped away. She saw the pilot touching nothing like those saints foretold to be raptured and she saw the retinue rising. An arm hooked her waist and then Holnifa was before her and they were spinning together. She was almost crying.
Whats going onnnnnn?
Барлығы жақсы, said Holnifa. Барлығы жақсы
They twirled upwards past the pilot. Holnifa reached up to brace their landing against the ceiling, her fingers flexing in the absorption of shock and rebounded down again.
Okokokokokok less sit. Ok?
They floated down smooth as the figures of a music box.
Holfieeee! Holfie wanna set down! Wanna set down!
Holnifa held to her, her lips upon her shoulder, smelling her soapy smell. The ramp retracted into the deck and the doors closed. The engines hummed. Radio chatter emanated from the cockpit. The aienee buckled in. Holnifa sang to her.
They flew the permissible corridor back to colonial airspace and farther into the desert. In that flyover she would not have guessed the land so ordered. Patchworked like a quilt and only the water courses to disrupt them. And was water the giver of life that which interrupted the plans of men?


They flew far the permissible corridor back to colonial airspace and farther into the desert. In that flyover she would not have guessed the land so ordered. Patchworked like a quilt. The gray quadrant blemishes of cities, the tanny towns. They flew low enough that she could make out autos.
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