I am standing on the utmost peak of a jagged mountain. It is a moonless, pitch black night. The lightening flashing around me is the only source of light. My naked body is hunched over a pale rock. I am sweating, muttering words in a language I don’t know . . . words that come to me as if whispered by a worm inside my skull. They have a ghastly power, and the world around me changes as I untangle the invidious words from my stern lips. The wind begins to rip through the pulsating darkness like an estranged uninvited guest. And I see, in the frantic flickering light, the mountains grow and topple, the vast cracked desert expand endlessly, the dark seas come rushing in. All on my whim. All on my whim!
I am alone in this world — it is me, and I am it.
But wait! What’s this? Something is happening to my body! I am undergoing a metamorphosis. I twitch against the pale dank rock. My fingers and arms elongate to my knees, my eyes sink into my hallow skull. Ribs sharpened, stomach turned in. My skin, a pasty blue.
And when all this horror has ceased I see that my testicles have dropped and become like flat stone tablets. But they are spongy, dense, and soft, still connected to my groin by a long thick pinkish tube. Though they are heavy, I can lift them with my long crooked arms. On the tablets are more words . . . more terrible words I don’t understand.
I’m standing on a rickety pier, surrounding me throbs and swells a black angry ocean. No land in sight. The sun beating on my neck, the still empty blue sky above. I’m fishing with only a hooked line and a short thick stick. No bait. Despite the pitiful tackle, I am able to throw the 3-pronged hook far off into the rough waters. I use the stick to help me reel it in by twisting the line around it. My bare hands covered in thin red lines.
On one throw the hook lands centered in a pod of playing dolphins. I love dolphins. I immediately start to reel in the line as quickly as I can — nervous because I don’t want to catch one on the hook. SHIT! . . . Got something! . . . please don’t be a dolphin . . . please don’t be a dolphin . . . please don’t be a dolphin . . . .
I’m frantically twisting the line around the stick — it’s dragging something, something big, something heavy. My arms, hands, and fingers strain and ache — my tension builds as the struggling creature is desperately tugged closer . . . please . . . I don’t want this to be true. Sharp pains running from my fingertips to the base of my neck. Closed eyes . . . please don’t be a dolphin .. . please . . . .
Then I see . . . it’s not a dolphin!
My dear friend, Katie! . . . the hook is through her nose!
I collapse to my knees and break out into uncontrollable tears. She reassures me that she is fine while yanking and twisting the gnarled hook from her nose and climbing from the cold black water. But it doesn’t matter. I’m devastated — reminded of every time I have unintentionally hurt someone that I love. A deep hopelessness swallows my mind as dark clouds close in and spiral violent above me. My sobs growing louder, the sky cracks open, and frigid raindrops pierce my heart. My breath becomes the turbulent surface of the untamed sea — and I vanish within everything surrounding me.
I wake gasping for air. And the lyrics of a song immediately possess my mind — they soothe and cradle my sadness as I try to fall back into sleep.
It was as if I were trying to catch a solid reflection of myself in a rushing brook.
. . . I then started cutting off large sections of each of my fingers so they would fit into the small gloves. I used dull scissors for this horrible chore; it was tougher to get through the tendons than the bone. The bone just snapped clean with the initial pressure — the tendons took a special kind of focused time. However, I saw through the gruesome task with steadfast dedication and utter agony, without so much as a flinch. The real pain and frustration didn’t come until much later. For I realized, not soon enough, that the premise of my reasoning was faulty — the gloves were the fingerless kind!
Needless to say, awkwardly typing this with sore bloody knuckles has been a humbling and lonely experience.
Dreams are barely linear. How can I describe how we talked of Elbe, its desolate carved mountainous contours with only a train station running through. Even then I was walking in a plot of weedy land, seeing it for its potential, thinking of composting inside the abandoned race car seat hulk. Big skunk cabbage leaves everywhere. I wandered in this solitude; sheered off by entering the house to hear her crying for me. She crawled and hung by her fingers from the red tool-chest with stickers. Then she was the size of a fist and cradled in a small hammock. The baby in fever beside me; in the dream I turned off the hot spray of air and a cold shower dripped onto her wet face. I lay there in a naked embrace with the trio of our generation, for her father had joined us. The lights came on as the bikers returned. Carl, Lars, and a third black-clothed carabiner-wearing crew member were in the room. Lars was finally ready to talk.
He took me somewhere and said.
“Someone suggested I write this down, so I did.”
He had a black and white composition notebook from which he read, “When I got there he was covered in blood and was flushing the face down the toilet.”
I stopped him there. “Was there a body?”
Lars sort of froze, expecting the words to speak for themselves, without question.
I wonder now, did I get off the train in Elbe once, and walk the brown soil, brown facade of a town, emptied of its old mining families; like a dusty set of “Bride comes to Yellow Sky.” All I can picture is a combination of images accrued from reading about burnt firestorm scenery North of Berkley, and from the hills of Seattle seen from a plane. And why would Lars hide something so awful? I did not sit and listen to what he had written unfortunately, and since I was dreaming, I will never know the content of that book, nor what face was flushed away.
I woke up with patches of a milky oily film all over my body. There must be something in this water. There are tiny painless red bumps forming all over my body, some are larger than others. They seem to be gestating under the hazy film. I can’t get it off, the warm water just beads off—I think the milk is weeping out of my pores. This wasn’t here yesterday. Something must be wrong.
Doesn’t matter, I have to get to a funeral. It is for a musician I admire a great deal—his name is Nils Frykdahl. His body is in the trunk of a car and is clothed in a red ritual robe. Friends and fans are paying their respects to him by placing severed fingers on his chest over his heart. I don’t know where the fingers were obtained. Nils begins to shake violently and a wide closed-mouth grin stretches out on his face. Moments later I can see that his teeth are checkered pink and black. He hops out of the trunk and humbly bows before the crowd. People are thankful for the performance.
I see a monolithic-like cube building over the hill behind the funeral car that I have never seen before. In fact, I know it wasn’t there—this is a new building. I decide to explore it. Inside it is full of staircases that seem to go nowhere. Some of the steps are too high for regular-sized people to climb. The cube’s architecture is emotionless and cold. It is much narrower but also taller than it appears from the outside. Glossy black stone square blocks, the size of two people tall, make up the walls. There doesn’t seem to be an end to the height of the building, and as I start walking up one for the spiraling staircases I see that there isn’t a bottom either. There are no windows in the building, and no lights, but somehow I can see. The building is lit by my vision alone. As I climb the stairs my reflection is scattered all over the glossy black walls. I see myself walking in every direction—up, down, backwards, and sideways. I look out at my hand. I don’t have any fingers. I look to my reflections to see if they have any fingers. They don’t. I don’t care. I don’t need them anymore.
Something’s odd—I notice that there is a slight delay to some of my reflections’ movements. I begin spinning franticly around in circles in an attempt to make myself (and them) dizzy. It works. And in the spinning aftermath I am successful in seeing the back of my head, a sight I have never seen before. When the world stops turning I decide I want to leave. But the door is gone. There is no way out of here, at least from where I can see, which is everywhere—through spinning I have mixed up my mind and taken on the vision and perspective of my countless reflections. And through every eye billions more are formed. Overwhelmed, my mind becomes sealed in the glossy black slabs of stone—timeless and frozen in the infinite movements of my ever-expanding body. ♨
I work at a petro station. I hate this job. The hours crawl by slowly. This station is in the middle of nowhere. No one ever comes — there aren’t any customers — but I can’t leave. I don’t know why I’m so tethered to this post. I’m not paid for my time.
Today the sun sank in the sky at an incredibly fast pace. It shouldn’t yet be night right now, but it is. Something strange is happening to Time, very strange. I take advantage of the situation and call my supervisor and explain that I am going to lock up and go home. He seems unmoved by the strange occurrence that’s happening and says that it’s fine since the day is over. He’s an idiot.
I take my leave and walk out into the sunless day. I have no intention of returning to this barren place; and I know in my heart, that this time, I won’t. ♨