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Tag: horror


Henry Tavit tore out his own brain. That’s an abstraction, but abstraction is everything.

Look, let’s talk about computers. In 2006, a single bit flip in a Toyota Camry glued the accelerator pedal to the floor and took the car into a tree, killing the passenger instantly. The onboard computer between the pedal and the engine had over 10,000,000 lines of code. I bet you didn’t even know there was a computer there, cars are barely mechanical any more—they haven’t been for decades. It took three years to find the bug, and it was one solitary bit flip: 0 → 1, and a car goes into a tree.

Bookout v Toyota Motor Company took eight years. Toyota was found guilty of negligence, ordered to pay three million dollars: eighteen hours of their global profit, and significantly less than the cost of a Camry recall. The ‘05 Camry is still on the market. It’s a popular car; you probably pass at least one every day on the way to work, and every single one has—lurking somewhere in a gnarled grey matter of its codebase—the bug that killed Barbara Schwarz. This really happened. If you don’t believe me, ask your phone.

I don’t want to go into the details of how a Trimplant works so here’s the short version. There are about forty million lines of code in a chip the size of a grain of rice. It perches on the occipital lobe. You turn it on, and you trip balls.

The problem is, it’s always on. It’s not always active, but the difference killed Henry Tavit. When it’s on, it’s still processing data. The human brain is electric: neurons are pushed along their routes by tiny charges of bioelectricity. They factored it into the design, of course: the Trimplant leeches tiny microelectric charges to keep itself running, never more than it needs. Over the nine months, its spiderweb wiring dug into Henry’s occipital meat, and the electricity changed it. Piece by piece, in imperceptible fragments until—nine months after implantation, while he was in his apartment kitchen, knife in hand—a 0 turned into a 1.

The Trimplant was not poorly-designed. It was a marvel. The engineers knew the risks of putting hardware into a human brain, and they spared no expense in development. It hurts to say, because we want villains in these things, but the team who made the Trimplant were highly competent. They accounted for almost everything but they—like the engineers at Toyota, like the engineers who run our power grid, like every engineer for the last hundred years—weren’t gods. They didn’t think it would be a problem. Nobody worries about drowning in a stream but given enough time, streams will carve canyons from bedrock. The almost-imperceptible flow of bioelectricity took nine months, but it changed a 0 into a 1.

Standing in his kitchen at 3am—half-sober, half-awake, making himself a grilled cheese—he started to trip. You ever had a New Certainty? Sometimes, when it leads us into the light, we call it an epiphany. Sometimes though, you wake up with red-eyed demons standing around your bed and your chest so tight it’s about to break open and disgorge your guts and you go oh, okay, I guess this is my reality now. Henry had the second type. He realised—as the drip-drip of water opened up a critical weakness and the ocean rushed in—that his house was alive, and hateful. He was in its belly, being slowly digested. The walls moved in and out, the rough timpani of a monstrous heart.

Henry was a clever man. On some level, he knew what was happening. On another, a dark wave crashed down on him. The cameras in his home caught almost nothing: just a twitch, and a stillness. He stood in his underwear with his knife halfway into a block of cheese, almost comical. His two halves fought in silence. Then, without speaking, he smashed his head against the kitchen window. Once, twice, cracks spiderwebbing out like a cruel echo of the wiring in his brain. Three times, and he opened up a hole. He gulped at the cool autumn air like a fish on the dock, opened up gashes on his chin, his cheeks. Sliced open the soft cartilage of his nose. His expression remained fixed: dead-eyed, staring into the distance.

Whatever part of him stayed cogent kicked in. It knew what was happening. It could stop it, or die. It had a kitchen knife, and very little time. Henry Tavit died performing neurosurgery on himself at 3AM, in his kitchen, with a model of the human brain open on his laptop. He opened a slit on the back of his neck—close, to access the occipital lobe, but inches-as-miles from where it needed to be—and struck his spinal column with the blade. Collapsed to the floor, gasping, no feeling below the neck. He broke his neck when he fell, and blood flowed into his airway and lungs. The dishwasher grumbled, as though the whole house were laughing. Henry Tavit died on his kitchen floor, surrounded by demons.

The Trimplant is still on the market. The next bit-flip might happen to a surgeon, or a pilot, or a president. A recall of installed units is almost impossible, and a recall of units on shelves is costly enough that the accountancy department quietly nodded to themselves and made the company forget. The court case is ongoing. The story appeared on newsfeeds as a suicide. It didn’t last a day before the tide carried it away.

Canto III

I wish my dad had drank himself to death. Instead, whenever he got mad, he’d grip his thumb inside his palm and his breathing would get weird and tight. After years of barely-suppressed anger, patches of his cheeks and nose went the purple-red of good beetroot – a whisky shine without the whisky. The coronary was the least surprising thing that ever happened to him: he’d been alone, sitting in his chair, watching the TV blare something about immigrant hordes. With nobody else to shout at – not me, not mum, not even old Ms Potts from next-door, who stayed far away from the fence – all his anger went inwards and popped his fucking heart.

He insisted throughout his entire life that alcohol was the devil’s brew. He didn’t drink, or swear, or jerk off. I know good folks like that too, but dad wasn’t good folks. Dad shouted his way through life, and he shouted his way through two marriages, and he shouted his way to an early grave.

There’s this thing called learned helplessness. You put a puppy in a box that it can’t escape. It tries and tries to break out, but the box is just too big. The puppy turns into a dog and now it’s much bigger than the box but it still can’t leave: it knows it can’t, so it doesn’t try. I tried to stop dad from shouting when I was a kid. It always ended up with me on the floor, and him towering over me and shouting. One time, he’d been watching the rugby and trying to eat mashed potatoes. Some went down the wrong pipe and I tried to hit him on the back, like I’d seen on TV. He spanked me with his belt so badly that I couldn’t sit down properly for days. I was twenty-five when he died.

I got him a copy of The Divine Comedy for his birthday once. Passive-aggressive, I know. I didn’t think he would read it. He did. He told me loved he Inferno. He told me about Mr Wilkins from the bowls club, who was a fat fuck; about young Ms Perkins who worked the desk, and how she was probably a whore; about the widowed Ms Potts from next-door who was a treasonous bitch and wouldn’t meet his eye at housie. Inferno had ‘em all, he told me. Each one slotted into their own hole where they’d be tortured until the Almighty had time to sort ‘em out. A circle for cowards and a circle for killers and a circle for little brown babies born to the wrong religion.

Dad never touched a drop but I know deep in my heart that if he had, it woulda fucking killed him. He would’ve taken to the bottle like a drowning man clinging to a raft. I never met a man more in-need of a drink, and less inclined to take one. I wanted him to drink so he’d just stop holding it in. Maybe he’d have killed me and then mum and then himself, and maybe he’d have collapsed inwards and left a pile of clothes and skin on the kitchen’s vinyl floor. Either way, we’d have been rid of him.

Dad got so mad that he just fucking died. I came home to find him, bug-eyed and purple, clutching at his chest with one hand and reaching out to me with the other. He was still twitching. He might’ve been dead but it was hard to tell. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him. learned helplessness, innit? I sat and watched him die, or maybe I just sat. The man on the TV shouted about the Deep State and dad didn’t shout at all; he didn’t even make a sound.

I’d get up to call for help, then get close to him, then spin around and sit back down and chew another fingernail until it bled. I watched him until rigor mortis kicked in – his shoulders squared and his knees stiffened, and for the longest minute of my life I swore he was coming back from the dead to beat me until I couldn’t sit down. His empty eyes rolled and his purple skin was black and glossy. He was a giant again, a monster with a bulbous wagging tongue, and I was a kid staring him down. The change in position forced him up out of his chair and he staggered, then fell. I swear, as he fell, I heard him cussing me out. He couldn’t have, but the sound made it to my ears anyway.

He loved Inferno, but I’m still not sure he read it. The fifth circle is for the wrathful, and the seventh is for the violent; cowards don’t even get through the gate. They’re non impegnato, uncommitted, unable to act or leave. Dad died, and I did nothing. There’s no place in hell for me, but there’s two for him so I think it shakes out.

Maybe he’s suffering somewhere. That makes two of us.

Playing Horseshoes

The Big Book of Animal Anatomy said that horseshoe crabs had blue blood. It was one of the only books in the house, along with a boring old beat-up copy of New Zealand Bike Trails and a scary book called The Fairer Sex that Henry wasn’t allowed to read, which had a lady with a gun on the cover.

Mum and dad took the train south to Wellington every morning, and didn’t get home until after bedtime. There was a school for kids in Paekakariki, but not any proper jobs for adults – there was a cafe and a church, and a lot of houses, and the beach: that was pretty much it. Henry walked to school, then after school he read The Big Book of Animal Anatomy or walked around on the beach and found stuff for his collection. His collection had: 15 bones from various small fish; a weird gold coin with a funny symbol on it, that dad said was maybe a British Pound from the old days (though he wasn’t sure); 4 cool paua shells and, pride of place; 1 skull of Phocarctos hookeri or the common New Zealand Sea Lion.

The day he found a horseshoe crab was a big day. He was pretty sure just from the look of it (the Book had a lot of pictures) but the blue blood really gave it away. It was missing a big chunk of its belly, and its little blue eggs were spilled all over the sand. Horseshoe crabs never came this far south: the waters were too cold. It must’ve got lost somewhere.

It was a big day because it was a cool thing for his collection (1 Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda, or Mangrove Horseshoe Crab) but also because that’s the day he met Sophie. She was half a year older than Henry: almost 10. She had dark brown hair, and green eyes. She had a necklace with a seagull skull on it that she made herself. She knew lots of cool things about animals; she said the horseshoe crab probably got killed somewhere else, then floated on the East Australian Ocean Current from Indonesia all the way down to little old NZ. She also had a big cool driftwood stick that made her look like a magical ocean witch.

He let her take the horseshoe crab, even though he really wanted it. The way he saw it, he lost a crab, but he made a friend. The next day, he went back out to the beach and found Sophie again. She was staring out to sea and turning a gold coin over between her fingers. She smiled when she saw him coming.

“That’s British,” said Henry. “They used to have British money here.”

She shook her head. “Yeah nah,” she said, “this is from the magical city beneath the sea. My dad told me about it: if you swim out past Kapiti, there’s no land for ten thousand thousand kilometers, until you get to Ar-gen-tina. Somewhere in that ocean, there’s Atlantis, which is stuck beneath the sea ‘cos God got mad at it.”

“Nah,” said Henry, “Atlantis is in the Atlantic. It’s right there in the name.”

“Nah nah,” she said. She banged her staff in the sand. “There’s thousands of boats going through the Atlantic every day. Thousands and thousands, but there’s basically nothing between here and Cape Town – that’s why nobody has ever found Atlantis, ‘cos it’s in an ocean that nobody ever travels on.”

Henry nodded: it checked out. “Atlantis sounds cool,” he said. “It sounds way better than Wellington, and way way better than Paekak. This town sucks.”

Sophie was real smart, and also real pretty. Henry went to hang out with her every day after that. They walked up and down the beach, and found all sorts of cool stuff. They talked about their dads: her dad sounded way nicer than his. They didn’t find any more horseshoe crabs, but one time they found weird tracks in the sand that Sophie said a horseshoe crab had left – an alive one! Maybe it was looking for its friend. That was kind of sad: it must’ve been very lonely, being a horseshoe crab.


Mum and dad made snapper fillets for dinner again. Henry hated snapper fillets. He didn’t like eating fish at all: it smelled bad, and it tasted the same way it smelled. Fish were cool to read about, but eating them felt wrong. They’d been alive once, in the great big endless ocean. They could go anywhere. Now, they were meat that you ate with lemon and a side of mashed potatoes. Henry didn’t eat his snapper, so dad got mad and sent him to bed early.  

He was sitting and reading the Big Book, when he heard dad shout. At first he thought dad was just mad at mum again but then he heard glass breaking and got scared: dad liked to shout and swear, but he never broke things.

Henry didn’t want to go out of his bedroom, but he also knew that it was important to be brave. Maybe somebody had fallen down. He opened the door just a crack, and peeked out. The smell of blood was so thick in the air that he gagged. He ran back inside his room and slammed the door, then dived underneath the bed. The springs and rods of the bedframe dug into him and almost made him cry out, but fear kept him quiet.

He curled up, and shivered, and didn’t cry.

Somebody knocked on the bedroom door.

“Henry?” they said. Their voice was strange: it went click-clack and sounded like it came from deep inside their throat. It was thick and wet and sounded like the tide retreating.

A moment passed, and a new voice came through the door: one he recognised.

“Henry?” said Sophie. “They’re gone now. We can go.”

“The monsters?” said Henry.

“Yeah Henry,” said Sophie, “the monsters are gone.”

He crept out from under the bed, and opened the door. Sophie stared back at him. There was blood all over her: on her shirt, on her jeans, on her face. Henry didn’t know what to do, then he saw it: behind her, chittering and burbling, looming up with spiderlike legs and its mouth oozing blue blood. He screamed, grabbed her, pulled her through the door, then slammed his whole weight against it. She stood in the middle of his bedroom, and smiled at him.

Then, she began to grow. The skin around her mouth peeled back, and her pretty green eyes bulged and split. Her legs melted together, and three pairs of spiderlike arms uncoiled from her chest. Henry heard her spine snapping and reforming as she twisted into her new form. It didn’t look like it belonged upright: she swished her tail back and forth like she couldn’t stay balanced.

“I’m sorry my dad scared you,” she said, in that voice like the sea rushing between rocks. “We came to take you away, to the city. Like you said you wanted.”

She wrapped her arms around him and he didn’t know whether she was hugging him or hurting him. One of them cut him, just a little, and he felt a strange rush. She was cold, and damp. She smelled like the ocean, and like dead things. Henry began to cry. He cried in her arms for longer than he knew, then she let him go and he went and unlocked the door.

“Hello Mr Sophie’s Dad,” he said. The beast did not respond. It pointed, with its strange bonelike arms, out to the sea beyond Kapiti, then it fell from its upright position: it scuttled across the floor, a medallion of cold chitin like a knifelike tail. Henry sobbed. Sophie brushed by him. Her tail flicked up and tapped gently against his back. Her voice came muffled from somewhere beneath her shell.

“C’mon Henry,” she said, “it’ll be cool. You don’t need to be alone.”

He couldn’t see his parents’ bodies, but the reek of their blood made his head spin. The two gigantic horseshoe crabs scrambled out the door and across the sand. Henry stared at them. His throat hurt from crying. The water called to him. It was beautiful, but he couldn’t say why.

He took a deep breath, and followed them into the ocean.


I’m not fat; every time I run my hands over my stomach there’s a pothole-bumpbumpbump of ribs. My skin is wax paper – so weak and thin it might tear. I do not remember the last time I threw up; I do not remember the last time I slept.

“You’re getting fat,” says my sister. She has not seen my ribs. I make sure my stomach is covered by the towel when I leave the shower, so nobody can see. We do not speak of pain – it would not be polite.

My ribs are bigger today than they were yesterday. I do not know whether my ribs hurt, or my stomach hurts, or whether hurt is, in general, woven through me like highways through a nation, like mineshafts through the earth, like bones through a carcass. My ribs are ready to burst from my body and open me up to the world – spread and eager like a flower in spring.

Every morning I rub my hands over my ribs, and a sourness rises up from my throat to settle behind my tongue. They are bigger every morning, and I am smaller; I am less. I am collapsing inward forever until there is only awake-at-4am.

we are gravid with suffering – pregnant with the things we cannot say

we are sick with the protestant truth: medicine is weakness, suffering is strength

One day soon my stomach will split, and the world will see: grasping roots, a strangling vine, a monstrous blossom. One day, all of me will spill out and stain the heavy carpet. One day, I will do something deeply impolite — find words for my pain. Until then, I suffer in silence, as is proper.


The old weeds grasp, the old vines grow;

such things, to all, are known-as-known.

When the world broke, it cast us off in all directions — scattered us as spores in the wind. When we are few, we are stupid; we must multiply. There are no nutrients in void, nor anywhere for mycelium to grow. Void is anathema –  we grow where we can, in the crevices of meteors. We lose thousands of children in their fiery tails, but we persist.

Perhaps one in ten thousand great stone fists make landfall, and fewer still will crash brutish down onto any sort of fecund soil. It matters now; it takes only a single survivor of the old weeds to reach down through the earth, spread mycelia, and grow. We drink deep of the loam, to heal that which was broken. Other plants provide rare nutrients — there is no joy in consumption, but it is necessary: we persist.

This world, this – it shows promise. True, there is hard stone, and salt-water — such things hold little interest. In and upon the soil, there are plants great and small. We consume only what we must, though it makes them writhe, and shriek. It shatters them, as we were shattered. They burn us with chemicals. They have strange spore-caps; covered in multicoloured mycelium, and each cap supported by a lattice of calcium. Upon each cap are two jellied orbs to process light — they become wet when we grow upon them. The new plants live in tall stone beds, where they are hard to reach. They make the soil sick, and it kills many of our children. It pains us, but we have lost more for less –  we persist.

This world is not void –  it is fertile. We were few, and now we are many. The new plants do not need meteors: they move from planet to planet in great cold hulks made of deep-earth mineral-metal. At first we ate of them too fast, and the ships became more meteors –  crashing down where they would, into lifeless soil. In time, we saw the new plants had a rare and special gift: direction. The new plants flee, and we follow – one spore is all it takes. The lone spore sleeps until it can no-longer feel the void, then awakens. Rooted in strange new soil, it feeds and feeds until there is no food left. There is no joy in it, but it must be done. We persist.

We eat so we are many; when we are many, we are strong. There must be an end, when we are whole again — un-scattered. Until then, we eat, and grow, and ride the void on the backs of any plant that will give us passage.

We were once broken, scattered and few, but now we are many.

We persist.

Skin and Bone

It started with his ears: the sound of a circling fly was like a knife smashed across violin strings, louder and louder with each lazy revolution until Baron killed it. He didn’t want to. Bad men hurt animals and he was-

well, he was OK. He let the fly lie where it fell, as a warning to the others. Some ants tried to take his grisly message away, so he killed them too. Later, more came. Their little feet were loud on the damp wooden floor: tschoop tschoop tschoop.

The house had never seen better days, though it would be hard to imagine worse ones. The leak in the basement had gone critical months back and now the room was a well-caged swamp, complete with a yellowy fungus growing in the corners. Baron called it ‘wall puke’. It tasted OK.

He’d been a bigshot grifter once. Well, that was a lie. He’d been a two-bit conman once, but he’d scratched out a living. Good smile: lotsa teeth, big eyes. The punters liked big wobbly eyes and a sad story to go with ’em, and all the better if that same grief could be their gain. Baron’d lost count of how many ‘funerals’ he’d had to attend, how many times he’d said no sir real diamond but you know the cost of plane tickets these days and I just have to say goodbye to my dear ole mum with very-nearly-real tears in his eyes, because his stomach was growling and so was his landlord.

If he concentrated, Baron could swear he heard his nosehairs growing. He imagined them curling inwards, longer and longer, burrowing through the nose cartilage and nesting around his brain like seaweed strangling a jetty, or pubes smothering a limp prick.

His head thrummed with blood. It made him want to touch his eyelids. They were leathery. There were bone nubs growing downwards from his brow, a little frill of horns. He couldn’t see them, but he could feel them stretching his skin from beneath. The thing inside him wanted to burst out and dance naked in the rain of gore, body all slick and red: timeless, tailless, pristine. He shouted his name and heard the echo prang back. “Still here,” he said, then wondered who he was talking to.

He didn’t miss Elle. Well, that was a lie. She’d made him want to be a better person, and goddam he’d tried. Sometimes, we strive for some greater ideal and we find the true measure of our potential. Unfortunately, potential -like bank balance- is best left unchecked.

Tschoop tschoop tschoop. Bone nubs, wall puke and feet sounds; remnants of the man he’d once been that had lurked in his yellow belly for god knows how long and metastasizing at the worst moment.

There had been picnics, and half-asleep drunk fucking, and arguments over hairs in the drain: a domesticity that had been comforting in its all-ness. For two endless years, Baron had believed with all his heart that he could be normal, that he could halt the twitching in his hands and the petty social violence that sat like a splinter through his eye.

It had actually begun to work, until the little voices bouncing around the cavern of his skull pranged off the twisty nosehairs and found themselves front and center again. Three little words that made the gears lurch back into motion.

“It’s a boy,” the doctor had said.

He hadn’t said I’m sorry Mister Baron, but you’re a complete bastard. It’s not terminal, but it should be, but it had the same effect. Baron got home calm-as-you-like, then packed a single small bag. Running was easy; animal. Total physical lockout: body said goodbye to brain and got the legs going mile on mile. Baron eventually found himself on his knees, on a twist of tarmac broken by puslike yellow roots. His mouth moaned, his eyes twitched and his nerves jangled, all trying to break away from a body that could barely hold them. It was then that Baron found the house. He did not come out for some time.

There was a pile of mirror dust and splintered wood in the back yard. The wind wouldn’t touch it, nor would Baron any more. Bad luck to smash a mirror, so he’d smashed them all. No point breaking the rules just a little bit. A is for Anarkee said the writing on the wall. Right on, man.

Every day while he’d gone shopping for vegetables or run on the treadmill, Baron had told himself that he was becoming a good person. Every night while his wife lay asleep beside him, he’d fought with the fishhooks in his soul that wanted to breach him, to take him in godlike hands and tear his guts out. Bad man bad man bad man he’d told himself, as if dreaming the words hard enough would broadcast the warm inches between and she would know how much work it took him just to sit still, to quiet the violent whispers of his heart.

We are what we tell ourselves we are, and Baron knew he was an animal wearing a man’s skin. Well, that’s a lie. He wanted to be better, but the world made it so hard. His fingernails were harder now, and longer. He’d cut himself on them a few times before he’d figured it out. He tried to chew them off, and screamed as a stiletto tooth tore the flesh of his finger.

His clothes kept snagging on the new bone that jutted from his angles, so he tore them apart and walked the house naked, spitting, slobbering, playing a game of good man bad man good man bad man and letting the sound of his voice get lost in the big corners. The sound bounced back, and he felt briefly like he wasn’t alone.

“Good man,” he said, and touched the ring, which kept slipping off his too-long fingers. He’d had so much practice with fake rings, he had no idea how to treat a real one. “Bad man,” he said, then wept.

His stomach rumbled, as it had in the bad old days. He shuddered his way to the basement stairs, and took them one at a time, as if too heavy a tread would tear the rubber sheet of sanity. His feet went under the water. It was a relief not to see them any more. The toes stuck out at odd angles now, bones warped to fit a new frame.

He caught his reflection in the dark basement water, then tried to pretend he hadn’t. Big eyes, lots of teeth. Just what the punters love. There’s always profit in someone else’s desperation. He tossed the word ‘man’ into the water. It did not echo back. “Well,” he said, “that’s that then.”

He ate some wall puke, then fell back on his haunches and screamed. It was easy; animal.

He did not stop for some time.

Baron drooled, and dragged his knuckles and knives-of-bone across the floor. Where the spurs snagged, he grunted and pushed forward, tearing at the walls and floor. Outside called to him, pregnant with possibility. Grand Guignol for most, but a playground the reckless and violent. His muscles were stretched so tight that the sun played harmonies across them, little shivering arpeggios. He was hungry.

He could not be a man, but he could still do the good thing.

Baron went home.


hi im not i any more

outta nowhere, a moment of cataplexy – a giving way and i am no longer who i am. this is not coherent, i apologise. we underwent the opposite of a schism and now we are 1. i will list, as best i can:

  1. an ice bath
  2. a kind man
  3. an unkind man
  4. needles and thread

two men enter, one leaves ahaha. it is a movie reference. i like movies but i cannot remember which of i likes movies. i am a beast of needles and thread, of flesh and bright smiling teeth.

one of us liked music. do you know the moonlight symphony? it was the only piece of sheet music on the old piano in our mother’s house and she would play it most days. it is beautiful –  it is rich, complex, polyphonic. it has layers on layers of notes that crash together into a more complete whole.

the kind man gave me a drink and i drunk it. he cut pieces of me away and i screamed because i could not see his vision until he cut me open another eye. the unkind man lay strapped down next to me and also screamed. the kind man plucked out his eyes, to spare him the pain of seeing, but it only made him scream more until his throat broke and he tasted blood. i taste blood now, as I walk through his memory and it is my memory now

Cata, from the Greek kata for down. catastrophe, cataclysm, catamorph – new word new form sub form greater than sum. i am the moonlight

two eyes plus two eyes, plus one eye minus two eyes is a net loss of one eye but i always prefered quality over quantity haha

one of us had a wife and i ate her and she screamed. we were not meant to leave the lab but humans are so fragile. we broke the straps that held us down and we repayed kindness with kindness. the kind man screamed and i do not understand why – perhaps i did not add enough parts. i failed him and for that i am sorry

the wife also screamed. we did not intend to hurt her but we sought to add her memories to our own and to add her person to our own and to add. her screams petered out into little trills and grace notes

her pain became our own and we sat with our arms wrapped around our knees while we remembered the music but we had too many arms and not enough knees

down down down but we are beautiful now, yet incomplete

we found a house, and we added more. their pain hurt us too and they did not understand and they still scream even now that they are part of us. their mouths wrench open, their teeth gnash. like the unkind man they are blind to the great work the kind man began

my favourite movie is

i forget

i am not-

i am–

one of us liked movies and one of us liked to cook and one of us drank too much and watched the cars on tv to numb their mind, and we were lazy and selfish and slow and blind and now the sins are washed away in this bold new place but the little-us the catamorphs they writhe even though they are

as i grew older i came to realise my mother played the moonlight when she was sad. even when she could not afford to eat she did not sell the piano. she played as if the music would make her full, and complete. she cried while she played that night and i did not know what to do

the kind man was a composer and i am a song. i went from house to house and i added layers to myself, and they made their own songs of protest. their pain meant less and less to me – it added to the great work the kind man began

i found my mother in her house, across town. she did not recognise me; she had not seen me in years; she screamed i suppose because i had gotten fat. all the little catamorphs added a new layer to my song and as my mother sat in the corner with her eyes wide i played her the moonlight and she wept

Many Hands

Ten seconds ago it had been a sausage, now it was a single human hand, neatly sheared off at the wrist.

Jonno had been fixing some wiring issue when the whole sausage machine started pumping backwards. The sausages on the line went in, and squealing beasts came out. The lads on the line had been having a lot of fun all morning, putting sausages into the machine and laughing as whole pigs came out all mad rolling eyes and skreeeeeeeeeeeee snk snk then charging off the belt until they could be captured, and killed again, and fed back into the machine. The men went forwards and backwards with the same pig for twenty minutes, laughing the whole time.

Then they started putting in other meat from around the factory and it all went to hell. What had ten seconds ago been a packet of Mrs. Poppers London Garlic Pork Bratwust was a man’s pale, shriveled hand. It had a single ring on one of the fingers, inset with a red stone. The jokes stopped immediately. The building was scoured for other London Brats to put through the machine. Nobody was very enthusiastic about it, but it had to be done.

It didn’t take long for them to find more: four human toes without a foot. This little piggy went to market, this little piggy went home, this little piggy got butchered and this little piggy got boned. Two toes were dark-skinned, the third had red nail-polish on it and the fourth was covered in a layer of thick hair.

“’should call the cops,” said Jonno. He smirked, “though I suppose they be more worried about the pigs, wouldn’t they? That’s family, that is.”

They all shook their heads. Nobody said “if we call the cops, they’ll shut this down and we’ll never know exactly what in the hell was going on, and it will chew at us in our dreams until the day we die,” but you can be damned sure they were all thinking it. Curiosity, meet cats.

The foreman decided however, that it needed to be done right. Gibbo found a clipboard, and took notes.

Inventoried herewidth, results of putting Mrs. Poppers Real Authentic London Garlic Pork Bratwust Sausage Product backwards through the mincing machine, with which Jonathan “Jonno” Specker has recently tampered to produce an unusural effect.

1) one (1) whole pig, alive, later returned to sausage state by machine

2) one (1) whole pig, alive, later returned to sausage state by machine

3) three (3) human feet, de-void of toes, dead

4) two (2) whole pigs, alive, l.r.t.s.s.b.m.

5) one (1) human eyeball, brown, dead

6) one (1) whole pig, alive, l.r.t.s.s.b.m.

7) one (1) human head, aliholyshi

The head was screaming. “I’M NO SNITCH I’M NO SNITCH I’M NO SNITCH,” it said. It had no teeth, nor a tongue, and was missing one eye. It had been neatly sheared off at the neck, and this did not appear to affect its vitality in the slightest. The men from the freezing works were made of sterner stuff, and carefully took the head aside and put it with the other uh, things. After some consideration, somebody stuck a piece of tape over its mouth.

Please note: all previous detached human products resulting from the machine are now considered alive until further information is made available to us. It has been decided that Mister Gabrionelli, who was given all-hours access to the facility on his request -and granted due to his position as primary shareholder- is to be barred access to the machine until more information can be attained. Please also forgive any unchristian language used previously in the document, which was deployed due to the arisural of a surprising circumstance.

“What if,” said Jonno, “we got a whole bunch of these parts, and we put them on the conveyor belt, and we put them through backwards together?”

At this juncture, a vote was taken on Mister Specker’s suggestion, which was agreed upon unanimously by the factory employees and the relevant union representative. It was realised by the employees that more human parts would need to be produced before the suggestion could be undertaken, and more sausages were retrieved for this exact purpose. The log of our results continues.

7) one (1) human head, aliholyshitve

8) one (1) whole pig, alive, l.r.t.s.s.b.m.

9) Three (3) human torsos, alive

10) Six (6) human arms, alive

11) 5 (5) human legs, alive

12) seventeen (17) human hands, alive

At this juncture work was postponed while the products were sorted out.

The hands were everywhere, skittering around the room like little spiders while the men smashed at them with shovels, and wrenches, and any damned heavy thing they could find. Several hands mobbed the foreman, and tore at his skin, gouged at his eyes. He screamed and staggered around, guided towards the conveyor belt. The men rushed to him, then tore the hands off and pulverized them until they were ruined pieces of flesh twitching on the ground.

An incident occurred. At this juncture the foreman was given one (1) cup of tea to calm his nerves. Mr. William Lint was sent for pies at 11:30am precisely, and as of 1:14pm has not returned. His cellular phone was called and he said he was “quite alright but suddenly had a cold and needed a half-day off”. Half-day granted.

They took inventory of the parts they had. They came from men and women of every size, age and race. Some were in states of greater decay, but some were plump and fresh. 30 people, at least, over a span of several years. Mister Gabrionelli had been up to some mischief and no mistake. The men took the parts and placed them on the conveyor belt. Somebody was praying. Somebody else was swearing.

Jonno stood at the controls, waiting for the all-clear. The union rep gave a nod, Jonno hit the switch, then the thing chugged to life. Poor choice of words there.

13) one (1) “human”, “alive”

At this juncture, another incident occurred.

The beast lurched off the conveyor belt, then fell to the floor screaming on its hands and knees. Large patches of skin were missing entirely, one leg was far too short, one eye was far too mad. Hair stuck out at odd angles, jutting out between wads of scar tissue. “I’M NO SNITCH I’M NO SNITCH I’M NO SNITCH,” it bellowed, and lunged at Jonno, grabbing him around the throat with both hands. Vertebrae twisted and smashed together. “PLEASE DON’T KILL ME KILL ME KILL ME PLEASE KILL ME DON’T PLEASE DON’T,” it screamed, shaking the man’s body like a child with a doll. Jonno’s head flopped back and forth with a grating of bone-on-bone.

Two men grabbed the creature by its arms. It wailed, snarled and bit as they fed it back into the machine forwards. It shook, and from inside their was a tearing of metal. Every man held his breath until the noises stopped, and the bodyparts came out the other side. They fed them through again for good measure. About 50kg of sausages sat on the belt.

“I tell you what,” said the foreman, “I’m never eating meat again.”

From the Townsville Times, June 27th 2014:

Mr. Federico Gabrionelli is facing charges of multiple homicide, and will be appearing in court today. Though the police refuse to divulge their evidence to the media, they are calling it ‘substantial’.

The Door the Devil Won’t Open

Andrew Borden died twice.

It‘s a lie, but it’ll have to do.

He first died in 1890, in the Spring: fell down a ravine while walking home through warm, wild rain. Slipped in a patch of mud; scrambled while the earth broke up beneath his feet; screamed the whole way down. Died of exsanguination, less than an hour later. It should have ended there, with his shattered body emptied of life: splayed out in the mud like a puppet with the strings cut.

An hour may as well be an eternity to a dying man. It’s one thing to consider death in abstract, but to have hell’s hot breath raise the hairs on your neck? To be grabbed by the throat and made to stare into the coal shafts goin’ down and down in an eternity of roiling smoke: that’s another beast entirely.

With the last of his dying breaths, Andrew Borden cut a deal. He wasn’t ready to burn, so he said the old words, then walked out of that crevasse with barely a scratch on him. The old words ain’t the devil’s words, mind – devil weren’t even born when the old words got wrote. To keep your wicked old soul outta Lucifer’s hands, you sell it upriver to something darker, and infinitely more strange.

When Andrew got home, Abby fussed over his ripped clothes. He took her hand and looked into her eyes, then said something Lizzy could not hear. After that, Abby did not speak again for quite some time. She lost something that day; didn’t go pale nor any less talkative, but there was no light in her eyes from thereon after. Lizzy saw her mother walk the exact same path every morning through the house: the same almost-trip in the kitchen; the same neurotic tug of her hair as she passed the grandfather clock below the stairs – too precise to be mere routine. Tick tick tug tick.

It were all fine for a while, far as Lizzy could tell. Not pleasant, but it had never been pleasant; Andrew Borden was a mean drunk, and worse sober. She loved him as her father, but hated him as a man.

Since he came back from his ‘little fall’ in the ravine, he spent a lot of time in silence, staring into the middle-distance with his lips and tongue forming vulgar and alien shapes. Sometimes he’d stop in front of the hearth and speak the same words in German – a language he spoke only rarely, and never in company. Same words every time:

“Hasse tür ja ja,” – the door, yes, the hateful door. The grammar was wrong, like a child’s.

On an autumn day in ‘91, less than a year before – Lizzy approached him and tapped him on the shoulder. He was getting pale, and thin: less present, somehow.

“Eine tür, Vati?” she said. “Im Kamin? Im Feuer?”

“No,” he said. “The door is not here any more. It is inside.”

He would say no more.

Came the day everybody knows, and it didn’t dawn no different from any before; same Abby scooting around the place in her curious worn-down rut, same Andy looking sick, shaky and rageful. By that point, Lizzy had developed a habit of trailing her fingers across the wallpaper as she walked – searching for the telltale bumps and cracks of a hidden door. She was on the way to butcher a chicken for dinner, and had a small hatchet in her hand.

Lizzy was worried about her father, despite herself; he was a violent and frightening man, but he was still her father. She’d found no door, but some small part of her refused to take it as just another sign of Andrew’s madness.

Andrew was sitting in his favourite chair, staring into the fireplace. It was unlit. His skin was waxy. He was saying more silent words again. Lizzy tried to read his lips, but couldn’t: it wasn’t English, nor German. She cleared her throat, and his head whipped around – there was something bestial to the way he moved – all instinct and fear.

“Kill me,” he said. He wasn’t pleading, or scared – it was as if he were asking her to do the laundry. She laughed, then bit down on her lip. She didn’t want her father sent to a lunatic asylum upstate, but he frightened her then in a very different way than he’d frightened her before. Andrew laughed in return – a hacking, inhuman kikikikiki.

“Hasse tür,” he muttered, “ja ja.”

“I can’t find the door, pa,” she said. “I looked everywhere.”

Andy Borden stood. Abby swept into the living room; passed the grandfather clock, tugged her hair. Lizzy tightened her grip on the hatchet.

“Hasse tür,” said Andrew. “Hasse tür hasse tür hassetür hassetür hassetür hassetür.”

His tone was calm, but with a certain mad urgency. His left eye twitched. The words were running together now, and Lizzy heard a second voice squatting on top of her father’s. The same words but not quite: Hastur ia ia, Hastur. Hastur Hastur ia ia.

Andrew Borden died a second time, standing there in front of his hearth. It was a quiet death: he lost whatever tenuous hold he’d had over his body. His carcass slumped, but remained upright and smiling; in that moment, his vile passenger took the wheel.

Andrew Borden’s corpse opened its mouth. Human vocal cords were not made for the language it tried to speak – a string of choking glottals came out. A second voice came out of the air: I am come again through the open door.

Abby Borden was stuck now, pacing in a circle. Her eyes were glassy.

“Master,” she said.  

Lizzy Borden loved her father, but he wasn’t there anymore, and she knew it. The light in his eyes were dead: such a small change, but total. She leapt. There was no plan – she didn’t even remember the hatchet in her hand.

Abby screeched, and threw herself in the path of the blade. The wet impact sent a shudder up Lizzy’s arm. Her mother’s body smashed against the wall, then slid to the floor, her neck  twisted just a little too far around.

Hastur fell on her, both hands around her throat. She swung blindly with the axe, and it smashed into the corpse’s stomach. Hastur reeled. He was screaming, and she was screaming. Her second blow split his eye clean in half – viscous fluid erupted outwards: splashed onto her face and ran down her neck. The ruined eye dangled out of the socket on a single string of muscle. She swung at his face – bones and teeth shattered as his jaw tore away from his face. His tongue flapped wildly.

He growled, and clawed at her – she swung again and again. She swung until there was no more movement, then swung a little more. When she was done, Andrew Borden’s body was a pile of meat on the ground.

Lizzy dropped the hatchet, then went upstairs to the bathroom to clean her hands. It was over.

She didn’t cry.

She sat in the bathroom, and waited for the world to arrive.


I got a goddam story for you: some real witching hour claw-your-door-down shit; something to put blood beneath your fingernails and battery acid in your veins. I can’t tell it though, because as soon as I do, it disappears in transmission; poof, gone: nobody on the line except a storm of white noise. All the monsters of my imagination are nothing but pencil scratches, and a smacking of lips and teeth. Paper tiger, meet scissors.

Lemme try, for propriety’s sake.

Boy goes out into a field. All the corn is burnt, and still smoking. Heat makes the air shimmy and shake cha cha cha. He’s sweating. There once was a scarecrow in the field, but now there’s a man. He’s burnt, still smoking. He’s making noises, because there weren’t much else he could do – not voluntary shouts or anything, just a dying vocal ooze drooling out from between his lips going like-a hnnnnnnnssss, hhhhhhhffffff like one of them kids whose throat muscles don’t work right.

The man is important to the boy. I forget the details: dad, big brother, uncle? Don’t matter. There’s a kid who can’t handle it, and nobody left in his life to share the load. The last man who gave a shit is now a strip of crispy barbecue chicken. There’s ligature marks on his arms, his ankles, his throat; they’ve left queer little tan-lines where the rope kept the fire off him for just a little longer.

Boy’s crying, because that’s what weak little boys do. Boys ain’t been taught to hide from their feelings.

Dad’s body on the scarecrow’s old perch: smells like pork. Makes the boy’s mouth water, which only makes him cry harder; that little detail is gonna keep him up at night for the rest of his life.

Dad’s got his arms spread like Christ on the cross, except he ain’t ever coming back. His hair is burnt away. There’s something carved into his chest, but the boy can’t bring himself to read the words. He knows what they are: knows his family were never welcome around these parts.

“Dad dad dad daddy please dad dad dad,” he’s saying while the tears choke him up and make the sound come out harsh and low – almost a man’s voice. He’ll be tasting salt for days. He knows what it smells like when they burn a man alive, and he’ll be tasting that in the deep asshole of night for the rest of his life. He turns, and runs, and don’t stop running. Not for a day, nor a week – he don’t ever stop running, but he never outruns the smell of smoke.

“Dad,” he’s saying blah blah etc etc. You know, I think he mighta been an uncle? Doesn’t matter, mate. Doesn’t matter. It’s all –

It’s just a story, haha. It’s not real. I’m messing with you. Yeah.

Just a story; something to keep you up at night, so for once I won’t be alone.