Wetware

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[…]

Continue reading …

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[…]

Continue reading …

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[…]

Continue reading …

cage

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[…]

Continue reading …

LEGION/MANY

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,[…]

Continue reading …

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[…]

Continue reading …

Sonata

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: an ice bath a kind man an unkind man 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[…]

Continue reading …

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[…]

Continue reading …

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[…]

Continue reading …

firebreak

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[…]

Continue reading …