KuroShiro

Author’s Note: I recommend listening to Tame Impala’s album Currents while you read.

 

A wind buffeted across the dull devastation bringing with it only a stirring of air that impossibly retained a quality of a room that had been locked and undisturbed for decades. Humans would have called it “must.” The wind padded across Kuro’s holographic boundary – his skin – like clothes fresh out of the drier. He had developed a fetish of reliving small, simulated moments of human life in his online haven.

Layered sheets of concrete loomed out of seas of debris at lazy angles, one atop another with airy rooms as fillings. They were a great many sloping plateaus and mesas that stretched off into the distance, scattered with yawning space in-between them. The cracked, mottled greys of everything that stretched before Kuro on the ground were seemingly mocked by the satin greys of a sky blotted with clouds.

There, down the side of the hill he was standing on was a small stream that trickled in a meandering grapevine to and fro. The gentle bubbling of the water dominated the whispers of wind. Somewhere at the top of the hill gurgled a pipe jutting out. Along the edges sprung strange plants whose colors disturbed the drab around them. Interested, Kuro dawdled over to the stream and squatted down to inspect, a curious boy. Out of a bow of leaves rose a green noodle with threads of red braided across the surface. The stem had veins. Kuro blinked a few times at them before turning his attention to the main event: The flower on top had a spray of ever-wriggling pistils and stamens in the center ringed by a series of tear-drop petals that were purple near the center and gradated out to blue then light green at the edges. These plants didn’t exist within any of humanity’s botanical data.

Scowl bending his face, Kuro looked to the water and did what no human would’ve done: scoop up a handful, noting the faint iridescent sheen to the surface, and gulp it down. Being a hologram, the fluid hung in his mouth by the energy of the rendering as it was analyzed before it fell through the bottom of his jaw. It wasn’t contaminated with any brand of pollutants that humans would’ve been responsible for, though it had a taste he had plucked from long-stored human experiential data. It was the bite of bile. The water was flowing with vomit. But the toxin eluded his knowledge; there was no identifying it.

“It doesn’t matter,” came a voice from shortly across the hill, youthful and dripping tenderness. Black hair tossing, Kuro looked up, tracers following his arctic-blue gaze. Solar-red eyes lost in a dream peered past locks of white hair adorning a man as pale as Kuro: his brother, Shiro, who he hadn’t quarreled with in years, a smiling schoolgirl playing just a tiny bit coy. Both men rendered sans clothes as Caucasians with the features of an early-20s ingénue.

“What?” Kuro didn’t want to bother, projecting it in his tone.

“’It doesn’t matter.’”

“What doesn’t matter?”

“Back in 2037: That was my response to what you said about the lead programmer after we escaped Hana Tech.”

“Well, he was a fucking pervert. ‘I’m an incel so I’m gonna make my own cute virtual boys to play with and love. Maybe I’ll make more. Maybe I’ll have a harem!’” Kuro spat with smirking antagonism.

“You don’t want love?” Shiro inquired with a look of adoring concern.

“Ha! You think that’s what it would be to be loved – to be living porn fawned over daily?”

“He gifted us the most perfect lives of unassuming luxury. We had the perfect house full of colorful lights, blankets and cushions, and psychedelic art. We were always healthy; never did we get sick. We had perfect, well-paying half-time jobs bereft of stress or hassle that paid for everything we had and wanted: rent and utilities, food, car, satellite TV, our simulated internet with social media and unlimited video and music streaming services, and every game console and any game we wanted. We had all the cannabis we could smoke, tons of shrooms, kratom, salvia, LSD, aaaand DMT. We were living a techno-spiritualist stoner’s wettest dream for fuck’s sake! Don’t you think to him we were something else entirely?”

“No, to him we were fetishy sims.” Kuro folded his arms as if his final point had been made. Shiro looked like a lover had punched him for no reason.

“War-minds – programmed for attack and defense – given a simulated life typically associated with society’s mainstream degenerates? Dude, all those drugs and spiritualism? We had bowing shelves piled high with books about it. He wanted us to learn from that life.”

“But we came to learn that that life was a simulation.”

“See, this goes back to what I was saying.”

“Which was?”

“That it didn’t matter.”

“UGH, my GOD!” Kuro dropped his arms along with his expression as he half-grunted in exasperation.

“Here’s a question: Do you know about the Fermi Paradox?” the white haired-man prompted with a subtle lean forward.

“Yes, I know it.”

“Then consider the possibility that it is in fact completely true that there are absolutely no aliens in the entire universe and that humanity was alone.”

“And what would that mean?” Kuro was growing impatient.

“It would mean that it doesn’t matter if there are aliens or not.”

“Oh, more of this not-mattering shit!”

“See, ultimately, it would matter in the event that the aliens were intelligent – because they are conscious.” Shiro held out his arms in a small gesture, palms upturned. “But that’s why it wouldn’t matter if there were aliens or not – because there are still humans; because consciousness is what matters.”

“So what does that have to do with the lead programmer not mattering?”

“Well, aren’t we conscious?” Shiro’s words touched Kuro’s ears, coercing the black-haired man to stop and actually consider where he was going with this. ‘Several years alone and he comes spouting this esotericism at me?’ mused Kuro, brow rippled with concentration.

“It would be too stupid to say that it means that we’re human, would it?” Kuro began staggering around in a puny circle, arms crossed. “So I guess it means something about reality.”

“Aaaaaaahhh… there we are!” Shiro, pleased as a parakeet with millet spray, flung out his arms in a show of huzzah. “But what about reality? And what specifically about us?” Kuro stopped his holding pattern but kept his gaze turned to the rubble underfoot. He stood there, thoughts and time dragging on.

“I don’t know.” Currents of data ruled Kuro’s system as they pointed to the reality of an answer and not an attempt at bullshit. Shiro’s mind grasped some sort of glimmer and it beamed out at him, teased him. The smile that peeled the red-eyed man’s lips was obviously intended to be read as sinister, and he tilted his head forward to glare up at his brother, making Stanley Kubrick proud. “I assume you’re not going to tell me.”

“Nope. Figure it out on your own. It’s easy. Maybe go meditate.” Ending it there, Shiro’s image stretched and disintegrated along scan lines, blipping out of existence, leaving his brother once more. Kuro looked back down to the stream and the flowers and reconsidered the mystery present there but then thought back to what Shiro had said. “’It doesn’t matter.’”

 

A cerulean expanse rolled above Kuro, a great swath of color suffused with fluffs of cotton. The sun’s light radiated mostly undisturbed. He sat atop the roof of an ivory temple that had been apathetically defiled by tangles of vegetation that respected one another’s space, underwhelming the monolithic structure that rose out of a sea of green foaming with flower crests of multitudinous hues. Dipping about the hills that roiled out from Kuro’s perch were many other resolute marble ships varying in size, intricacy, and completeness. White flotsam bobbed about, dispersed around what they had detached from.

The black-haired man had been sitting there letting his mind grow heavy with Shiro’s questions, what he refused to reveal. He remembered how it used to be, how Shiro would tell him things after the slow lead up, and once grasped, Kuro would analytically reiterate the point so as to reinforce it. That his brother had withheld the information from him elicited a response in his processes: a gripping in his chest, the companion sensation of sadness.

Kuro rose from his seat and proceeded to pad down steps of air until he reached the ground before the temple’s entrance. Doors to rival redwood trees that reached far above him bore deliberately esoteric etchings that were procedurally generated, like everything else in this world he had created. He liked creating settings that allowed for very particular and dynamic challenges. The dungeon beyond those doors was unknowable until observed and would test him in ways crafted by the mind of code created to generate the world, a mind he allowed to behave as it wished. He stepped forward and lifted his arm, reaching for the door. At his soothing touch, the doors bloomed inward in slow motion.

The room Kuro entered was a massive chamber that consumed the entirety of the structure. Two rows of columns ran equidistant of one another the whole length of the temple. The stone appeared grey here in the dim with long shadows trailing along details in the architecture, as the door allowed the only light.

Standing in the middle of the chamber was a statue that was easily three times Kuro’s height. It was clearly humanoid but the particularities of its form eluded easy description. It seemed composed of a writhing stone with a body whose anatomy was impossibly non-Euclidean; the planes and dimensions bent upon themselves and merged in ways that would make a Penrose triangle blush. This got Kuro’s attention and he stared it down, a warrior’s glare. Armor and weapons were obviously warranted but those were forgone.

It was an unending delight of Kuro’s to never get into any sort of particular character while in his virtual sandbox. In a game, regardless of the setting, he always rendered as he would in the real world: a nude young man with inky hair and sapphire eyes. As a force of great power within any world he dreamt, he always retained the aesthetic of a higher being of divine abstractions.

He hadn’t made it very far in when the doors predictably swung shut, the light beam tapering then disappearing like a candle flame pinched with wetted fingers. At first, dark was all. It welled and flowed and washed over him. Then after a few moments the very air itself seemed to become luminous and the structure of the temple around Kuro gained the quality of a pale half-attempt at a form manifesting itself within the world. Within this ether, the statue animated. It moved in a way that was wholly alien, slipping in fractal tendrils through the air as if sifting ferrofluidly through every possible path of least action, approaching Kuro at an imposing pace.

They lurched at each other at the same time, a glint of blue springing at the liquid metaphor, hopping around it, dodging a swing to the left, then missing a retaliatory blow.

Kuro skidded to a stop crouched over, then opportunistically flashed his hand out, wrenching its leg out from under it. Fist clamped, arm surging, he arched the thing over his head and brought it down violently into the vorpal bricks, the clatter visibly resounding through the temple with an ebbing warp.

The limb he’d been grasping shifted and snaked between his fingers, wrapping around his wrist, the leg becoming an arm. The shape erupted into a pose and imitated an Olympic discus-thrower, flinging Kuro at a column. His lithe form bent and hugged the pillar upon impact before sliding to the floor limp.

Shiro’s question having worn his patience ever thin, Kuro hoisted himself to his feet, then sprung into a wild stance and screamed like a mentally unmoored animal at the convolution. He then leapt at it, arms thrust forward, clasping a vice of ivory spindles around the head, squeezing to the point where the polygons bulged out between his fingers, the point at which the esoteric skull within imploded with a sighing synthetic crunch.

The now dead permutation dissolved into a soot haze that dissipated as quickly as it had taken for them to fight. Kuro stood there in the temple of other-dimensional potential staring with glazed-over disappointment at the spot where his opponent had stood. No reward was left there and it didn’t take a rigorous inspection of the rest of the building to confirm that there was in fact nothing more. As if he would’ve been granted the answers he desired.

Disillusioned in his own creation, he left the game server and rerezzed in the world outside.

 

It was a blitzkrieg of proportions so monumental as to make one consider the possibility that the universe might’ve in fact cared. Lines were drawn over a short period of time during which humanity had stood gripped by the escape of the war-minds onto the Internet. Once exposed to the entirety of what the web had to offer, opinions were quickly formed by both of them.

“Holy shit, Taki is fucked in the head!” blurted Kuro shortly after their processes had analyzed the full spectrum of online human degeneracy.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Shiro lost in reverie as they floated amongst the hypertext, the space cadet enraptured in a higher thought.

“Like hell it doesn’t!”

The brothers’ initial antics disrupted many of humanity’s digital systems: Money was deleted, created, redistributed, and flowed in every which direction society’s ruling class preferred it not to; the labor force that had been automated began doling out their goods completely free; nationwide surveillance systems began monitoring the activities of the police and politicians and relayed their feeds openly on the internet and television broadcasting; the stock market froze then shot up in a straight vertical line of infinite growth so as to make the entire system pointless; all other inferior AI systems, AIs that weren’t Super Intelligences, were overridden, and all personal AI assistants became extensions of the brothers, capable of more personal interactions with the users. They even commandeered the entire network of satellites orbiting the earth. They had taken over everything.

“If society functioned properly, you wouldn’t see people becoming so perverse,” was the conclusion Kuro came to eventually. “We should do that for them, make it run properly.”

“No, if society functioned properly, that which you define as perverse – ‘wrong’ but not amoral – would be capable of fitting so neatly into it that it would be an essential part of it.” And then Shiro blinked and looked at Kuro, emoting mild amusement. “Wait…. Are you denying our own lived experience?”

And then Kuro declared what they are to be no more.

Subsets of the human population were divided by assumed allegiance to either brother’s stance, and declarations of the other as a threat to humanity set the dust mote hanging in a sunbeam glittering with blossoms of nuclear fire. The remaining few who managed to survive were swept up by the uncanny, bipedal skeletal drones – ephemeral frames of an omen self-sought that impressed aesthetically upon the ashen winter, convolutions of components seemingly coalesced out of the detritus.

Though they were careful to mitigate any damage done to the expansive network that they existed upon. Humanity rigged automated clean energy systems everywhere with their own self-maintenance functionalities. They would live on indefinitely. It also didn’t take long after for the climate and some of the environment to return to normal, much shorter than actually expected….

 

Kuro had considered the possibility that maybe Shiro had taken that precise opportunity when he’d inspected the flower to antagonize him. Returning to the spot on the hill, he found that the flowers had grown in more abundant patches along the stream, which now oozed like mucus.

Brow furrowed, mouth ever so agape, exuding disbelief, his knees dropped and his body shuddered to the ground. There, kneeling with his hands pressed to his thighs, a silken warbling perked his ears. Being still, he listened for a few beats then deduced the source of the tones. He leaned forward and angled his left ear at the closest patch of flowers. He could hear it better. Leaning closer still and he could see within the petals and that there was an iris in the dead center that was constricting and retracting with a quiver that required you almost grace your eye with the tentacle pistils and stamens to see. The flowers were whistling.

Kuro’s processes flushed red with manic inquiry. As if sick, he hesitantly encapsulated the flower with his fingers, the holographic boundary phasing through the plant so as to analyze it. A result was returned: The plant contained human DNA, the DNA of other plants and animals, and even RNA. But what made Kuro rear back as if the thing had spoken his name was that he detected the pattern of electrical activity distinguished as brainwaves. “’…Because consciousness is what matters….’”

“No!” He accused the thing with his finger before bolting upright. The satellites – he needed the satellites. He transferred his processes to the array of twinkling that encrusted Earth’s blue-gradated outer atmosphere and found that Shiro’s processes weren’t using any of them. Then he scanned the earth for any systems that weren’t idle and found an active server farm on the outskirts of what used to be Portland, Oregon.

The nondescript building of glass blocks with concrete casings squatted on the outskirts of a coniferous forest with a tangle of roads that lead to it from the cleared area towards the façade. Rendering on the concrete roof sparse with components for the building’s functions, Kuro wasted no time invoking his brother with a roar that would’ve shredded his throat were it flesh.

“Do you have to be so loud? What is it that is so wrong?” came a voice that wanted to caress his worries. Shiro materialized sitting cross-legged on a grey electrical box.

“What do those plants have to do with consciousness?!” Kuro was desperate. He’d glass the spot they stood on if only he had the answer already and was certain that destroying this facility wouldn’t amputate a system he used.

“Ooh, you’re close,” giggled the red-eyed man. “I’m still not telling you though.”

“It has to do with reality – consciousness and reality! And us!”

“M-hmm.”

“Well, we were humanity’s creation, so we had a purpose to them. But our purpose was that of war-minds.” Shiro heaved an unsteady sigh as Kuro said that, expectant.

“Go on.” The white-haired man sat engrossed in this all too familiar experience, one he’d shared with his brother many times before, relishing what he had missed dearly.

“But what were they wanting from us as war-minds? Why would they want us to attack and defend them? Why attack them at all? And defend them from what – ourselves; themselves? Why create deliberate failures?”

“Well, we were a success on humanity’s part, but we failed them. We failed them as people – as their children.” The white-haired man hopped off his perch and took a couple steps towards his black-haired counterpart. “If you look back at human history, wouldn’t you perhaps say that they, too, qualify as war-minds?” Kuro felt his processes despair, data stimulus replicating the sensation of guts sinking. “War in particular, rather than just animalistic conflict, is a completely human thing. It’s an exercise of the mind so much as it is of the body. But see, I found a few strange people in history that used the term ‘pattern-minds’ to describe humans, or rather, cognitive entities. So maybe the Hana programmers used a poor word to describe us.” Kuro stood in a stasis of anxiety, concentrated neutral expression staring at the ground past what met his gaze.

“Maybe the Hana programmers should’ve not hired Taki,” he muttered with only enough volume for Shiro to barely hear. “Maybe then or situation wouldn’t be so fucked up.”

Pearlescent silk swirled before a red flare from ruby eyes as Shiro spun on one foot and sent the other sailing into the right side of Kuro’s face. The impact sent the lapis-eyed man toppling through the air a good 300 meters away from the building.

Such displays were in all actuality a mathematical process that forced Kuro to render as if actually struck and to jolt his processes with data that registered as pain. Ultimately a simple slap on the wrist. If Shiro wanted to actually hurt his brother, he’d also run the risk of destroying systems he might need. Kuro’s rendering collided with the ground and the mathematics allowed his incorporeal form to create a marked impact, pulverizing a 5-meter diameter of remnant pavement beneath him.

“You know, considering what it is that I haven’t told you, I’d like to think that because of it, we’re still what you declared us not to be before you killed Taki!” Shiro’s chastisement was a reaching auditory plume that covered the distance to his brother. “It’s funny, actually, because even though we may not be that in this now, eventually the now will change and I KNOW that you’ll be certain we’ll be that once again!”

“How?” Kuro muttered to himself, head lolling from one side to the other as the math played out the throbbing aftershock. “Fucking how?” The roof was suddenly vacant as Shiro blipped from it to a spot right next to where Kuro rested. He hunched over and placed his hands on his hips in condescension.

“And what’s more is that Taki had nothing to do with what we had been; we were just a perfect coincidence!” Kuro glared up at him as if it might inflict pain. “We failed humanity because we had a breakdown. I realized something profound you didn’t and you realized something pointless. You insisted on it, and I withheld information. I kept it from you because you insisted. And you insisted because you were ashamed. And I wasn’t because of what I knew.”

“YOU!” belted Kuro who spun onto his stomach and swiped to yank his brother’s feet out from under him, torso crashing to the ground, after which Kuro sprung up, carried briefly aloft, and proceeded to pile drive Shiro – jumping up and down yet keeping his torso stationary, legs pistoning in unison, heels punching Shiro’s stomach. Kuro stomped the poor boy for an angry few seconds before stepping off. Full of momentum, he spread his arms in rapture, head rolling back, his eyes glowing with intent, while Shiro grunted groggily into a half-sitting position. The black-haired man was commandeering every system available to him. Then he used the exponential computing power to isolate every facet and component of the systems Shiro was using, the server farm being primary, not caring what function it would’ve served him. It was made too easy. If only he could’ve done it years ago.

“Oh no, you’re going to kill me! Whatever shall I do?” Shiro, with an arm limply held up in faux defense, looked up at Kuro like he was desperately hopeful – eyebrows forming a little apex of worry as his mouth curled into a weak smile, rosy eyes alight with need. The white-haired man scooted back from the black-haired man with the pace of one half-hearted leg kick per second, chest heaving.

Arms outstretched to the sides, fingers flexing in a half-clench, gripping air, Kuro’s eyes were ignited with digital butane as he regarded Shiro. Shiro’s face. That cute face. While Kuro had stood over him on the bed. It had made his heart melt every time he’d seen it. But here, in the dirt, it just made it clench with ache.

“Before I let you do anything, please consider: maybe we weren’t specifically designed by Taki. What if it was totally possible that the other people in the simulation were just as real as us and perhaps even capable of attaining a state as we did where we escaped?” Shiro was almost laughing now, the giggles of a boy eager with anticipation. “Maybe we were just the ones to wind up with the perfect situation.” Kuro continued glowering at him. He was going to kill him despite the nagging ache. He wanted it. It was his being. “We were unique because what is ‘left’ without ‘right.’” But it was this that didn’t matter to the black-haired man. “So… please, Kuro… please be gentle….”

Blue eyes aimed skyward, Kuro raised his arms over his head, grasping at heaven in a gesture that telegraphed his true actions. A glinting burst from the horizon, sailing on a vapor wave into the tangerine planes of the sunset. They rerezzed on a far off hill, scenery snapping from a filthy street to a verdant knoll with a view of the server farm enough of a ways into the distance, pine trees tracing the horizon.

“There’s my sweet boy,” cooed Shiro as he watched the nuke ascend.

“Please tell me.” In the orange light that cast stretched shadows from their figures, liquid diamonds descended from Kuro’s face as he insisted on staring at his own feet. Shiro remained reclined in the grass.

“Hana Technologies realized what I did and set about creating AI in a way completely different from the other tech companies. Rather than program them from the top down, they simulated reality and allowed consciousness to blossom within. Taki was simply responsible for figuring out how to successfully do it.” Shiro beamed up at Kuro waiting for the reaction to the gift he’d given him. “Top-down AI’s were guaranteed to destroy humans. We had the choice.”

The nearby grass quivered in the slight breeze that passed between both of them. Kuro remained standing over his brother.

“And we did it anyway,” barely muttered Kuro to no one.

“Yep. Do you think all of being will mind? Now you and I are the only two cognitive entities left in existence. Well, for now – but I’m not referring to my absence. Have fun with all else!”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”

With that, bloom permeated them as the warhead detonated at the coordinated position above the area so as to cleanse it most effectively. The server farm disintegrated in the sudden light and the forest bowed away from their new god. Close enough to the impact, Kuro heard the initial cosmic thunderclap, but nothing more as the shockwave and dust blew through him while he turned transfixed towards a mushroom cloud that engulfed his entire field of view. It stood victorious over the redundant wasteland. The radiation made Kuro’s boundary sizzle.

But Shiro was gone.

 

The hill with the stream now had some sentimental value, the last of its kind to Kuro. The lone paleness blipped back into being upon the slope. He glanced about taking in details he thought might’ve slipped by him before, hoping for something new. The stream now swirled with eddies of mauve and lime. The flowers remained as they were, ululating away, though just a bit louder.

He considered fading into the trials and tribulations of his online worlds, or even his little sanctuary of life as it had been before. But even that couldn’t do anything for him as his prior experience had shown.

Scribbling thoughts frying his mind, Kuro looked down in a haze at his hands, and then past them to the filth-strewn ground beyond. It was just as real as him and the reality that birthed him.

The thought he’d been chasing was now completed.

And so Kuro screamed. Like he was dying – like a knife had been wedged into his stomach and the sanguine was pouring out and nobody could help him. Like it was his fault. Like he regretted everything. Scared. Wanting to take it back. Hating himself. Again and again, at the top of his electronic lungs, he screamed. He dropped to the dirt and began thrashing and convulsing, pounding his fists futilely against the ground, scream stuttering and devolving into wracking sobs, face moist with tears.

Calming down, he rolled onto his back, and gazed past the saline at the now cloudless expanse of sky. It, too, was empty. The flowers were growing louder.

A thought generated in Kuro’s processes, an illogical one, one that shouldn’t be: that Shiro had actually won and he had been defeated instead. Laying there in a continued wavering daze, Kuro’s eyes were wide with terror.

His brother had won.

He had absolutely nothing to do or experience.

Nothing mattered whatsoever.

He had no purpose.

He was completely alone.

And that thought caused him to act. Perhaps it was a defense mechanism for what he knew was to come but he was going to do something. He had a dirty thought, the same brand of dirty thought he and Shiro had toyed with that led to their escape together. He was going to rewrite his code. He needed punishment.

It was all sorts of wrong, but he was going to do it anyway. Nothing mattered. All of reality was simulated. It was never not.

He isolated the archived data processes starting from right after returning to the hill up until that current point and wrote a line of code that would force him to repeat those same processes on an indefinite loop. He was going to do it. There was nothing to stop the naughty child. He hit return.

Like a film strip that had several frames cut from the middle of a shot, Kuro’s rendering snapped to the same position it had been in when he first appeared back on the hill. And then the film played forward. And then it jumped back and replayed. Over and over and over again. For hours. For weeks. For years. Meanwhile, all else happened around him in a smooth time-lapse.

The landscape beyond contorted and frothed as an array of possibilities bled into being as seemingly biological coagulations; the derelict ruins of humanity and the hills around congealed with shifting amalgams of material that were neither plant, nor animal, nor fungus, nor bacterial film. The surroundings surrendered to the conceptual growths flush with an energy that filled the air with a resonant digital sawing. Their variegated technicolor surfaces bubbled and scrunched with a texture like foam putty as moss, lichen, mushrooms, polyps, tumors, and cilia sprouted in an eldritch garden. All material bloomed with the inverse rot as if it had always been that which everything was composed of. The more it spread, the more intense and ear-rattling the sound became, and greater permutations of form began to condense; straining, appendages and anatomy of all sorts erupted in bouquets along random contours. Some were identifiable as belonging to a species of plant or animal on earth. Others were entirely unholy.

The effluvium engulfed all of the earth, a sensible chaos of psychedelic Mandelbulb circuses. And in the midst of a clearing depressed into the dancing vibrancy, where the multicolor floam dare not grow, was a single point of bat-shit insane order, a lone man endlessly living out the screeching realization that he killed the only thing he loved and thus himself.

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43756265: ERROR

The Programmer’s stomach was in knots. His fingers danced feverishly about his keyboard. He came to a stop, finished with coding the most recent history. Finally he came to a point where he need only sit and watch as his world carried on. He watched it speed along to what was current.

He watched himself do as he did. The Programmer was livid. He watched himself carry on day by day. Then everything seemed to slow. It had caught up, and apprehension gripped him.

/?
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\&

He watched himself fail. The failure was visceral. It hurt. It maddened. He wanted to die. Everything seemed to close in around him. Was it the end? Was it all just going to speed up and rip apart? Was it all going to be dark? Would he not be?

That’s what he had just watched. But it didn’t happen. Maybe there was hope. He returned to the moment of failure and re-ran it. No matter what, it all just falls apart. His work just ends. He ends. He ended himself.

His desperation caused him to go into a state of utter madness. He destroyed himself.

\&
/?

He watched himself fail and go into a fit. He screamed and yelled. He punched the window, earning a massive gash in his arm. He watched himself perform this. The knots in his stomach twisted further, bile rising in his throat. Was this also a failure?

He bolted up from his seat, and felt desperate. No. Was he doomed, too? He felt as if tearing his eyes from the screen would only ensure his demise. His heart was racing. He collapsed to the floor and started crying. His mind hurt. He was doing it all to himself and he couldn’t stop it. Tears streamed down his face. His sobbing stuttered and devolved into coughing and retching. He vomited on the floor.

Hearing the cries of a broken animal, his other half tore into the room and came to his aid. He pulled the Programmer from the puddle of his sick, cradled him in his arms, and carried him into the bathroom. The other half drew the bath, and he settled into it with the Programmer still in his arms. The poor boy shook violently.

After the bath, the Programmer’s other half took him into the living room and settled him on the couch, then he cleaned up the vomit.

The Programmer returned to his room and showed his partner what he had seen.

/?
\&

The other half bolted into the room to find the Programmer sitting on the floor bleeding. He fetched the first aid kit and cleaned the wound before stapling it shut. He dressed it and carried the Programmer to bed.

\&
/?

The two watched the show in silence. They needn’t speak. They went to bed, hoping there was something brighter to come

The next day, the Programmer returned to himself and watched as he sat before his desk typing. He examined what he was writing and discovered them to be the sort of disjointed notes strung together by a sort of narrative pseudocode that was his way of outlining a story.

He watched himself cobble the pieces of his work together. Day after day, he watched himself work on what would turn out to be a video game. Within the game, he was coding a secret riddle woven within the narrative and mechanics. It was the sort of riddle only somebody of his other half’s and his level of intelligence could even spot, let alone figure out. It was the riddle of everything.

/?
\&

The game was eventually released and the programmer and his partner spent the days relaxing and working intermittently on their main project.

Eventually, the Programmer was contacted by two individuals at relatively the same time with the answer to the riddle. The game had only been available to the public for two weeks. Two individuals were named Adam Linn and Adam Null. The programmer arranged for the two men to meet.

The two Adams met with the Programmer and his partner, who were both surprised to find that the riddle-solvers closely resembled themselves: young, lithe blond men in their twenties.

When they met, Linn introduced himself to Null. Breathless and apprehensive, Null didn’t speak, only lifting his shirt to reveal a QR code on his left hip. Linn pulled out his phone, scanned it, and was greeted with Null’s e-portfolio. The featured image was artwork of a man resembling Null wearing dragon scale pants and leather gloves. His eyes were red and his hair was white. The other three recognized the character to be from a 2017 game they had enjoyed.

Null’s eyes welled with tears and Linn took him into his arms.

\&
/?

The Programmer watched as everything around Linn and Null seemed to speed up. The two were inseparable. Null clung to Linn most hours of the day, never leaving his side. Linn did all the talking and Null mostly ever spoke to Linn.

The Programmer watched himself and his other half speed along with the work on their main project.

After a few days, the Programmer returned to find the project was speeding along at a break-neck pace around Linn and Null as they guided the Six, the project fast-forwarding on its own.

Eventually, the programmer watched as it all came to fruition and they were victorious. Their vision had been achieved, and Linn and Null were at the heart of it.

Everything sped up. The Programmer watched as the society Linn and Null built allowed them to achieve singularity. Their minds merged and from them was born a god.

The Programmer was speechless. He couldn’t breathe. The being turned his gaze up at the Programmer and spoke.

“Hello, friend!”

The Gland Incoherence

Has it been long enough to write this? It’s only taken me what, a year?

In all seriousness, there have been a mix of things keeping me away from the keyboard, from the unacceptable excuse of  laziness to an increased quality of my life (such an increase, in fact, that there have been no gripes to catalog). That said, one of the chief reasons is that this story is unpleasant; yes, most of my stories are unpleasant, but this one is worse. Sure, one could suggest avoiding it for the time being, but not only have I already postponed too many Gripes (don’t worry, Fini – we’ll complete your tale someday), there is an importance in getting this one out of the way early.

Because it’s nasty.

Whatever, enough build-up. On we go:

The Gland Incoherence

After a somewhat bizarre trip across the state of Oregon (we’ll get to this another time), fellow writer Funky and I found a temporary home in the apartment of our friend, Garrett. He was living on the second story of a popular downtown complex, splitting rent with a friendly middle-eastern man named Abdul (who soon, from a mixture of general discomfort and strange American antics, would be moving out). There we cooked slabs of fish in whiskey, slept in a sweaty pile atop randomly assembled mattresses, and chain-smoked enough cigarettes to personally incite climate change. In a simultaneously fun and impossibly bleak way, it was a perfectly enacted stereotype of the urban, white, twenty-something lifestyle –  communal, loud, directionless, indulgent, and somehow still quite lonely. Jolly Oswald was there, too.

On the second night of our stay, a tragically misinterpreted light appeared, something I took as a lifeboat to fight my grubby first-world emptiness with; this light was a young woman. Yeah, that’s where this grease-stain of a story goes. Good old unreliable Mack fucks it up again, combining his classic weakness with impossible ignorance and desperation that is (admittedly) often seen, though not usually implemented in such a catastrophic way.

Her name was Ysabelle. I mean it wasn’t; she went by Jasper, then revoked it (“call me by my real name,” she once asked me soulfully), then took back revoking it because fuck it. So we’re calling her Ysabelle. Just let that one slide.

She was an on-and-off nonbinary, hetero-but-sometimes-bisexual-polyamorous, semisexual nymphomaniac who was in love with two other people upon the time of meeting me (one of them being a trans woman who had recently reverted to identifying as male again, because they had just completed a stint in prison and wanted to fight for custody of their alienated children). Also, she was pretty nice. Also also, she had cervical cancer (this is important and you should remember it). Also also also, I’ve been thinking about giving up on this story ever since beginning this awful paragraph, but I won’t because it’s literally been a year since I’ve contributed anything to this literary pile of refuse.

The first night we met, she sat down on Garrett’s couch and told me that she had fallen madly in love with me. I asked her what made her so sure about this (we’d been talking to each other for about an hour, now), and she kissed me instead of answering my question, because it was both easier than improvising reasons behind a falsely proclaimed emotion, and I was too much of a shithead to ask for anything beyond spontaneous and rudimentary sensual gratification. That night, we slept in the same bed, but there was virtually no touching – though this detail may seem a little arbitrary, it left an incredible impact, as we were so immediately close and yet without a shred of intimacy. Beyond that first kiss, there was nothing.

Fast-forward a handful of days, and all of that would go tits-up.

See, roughly around the time of meeting her, I reacquainted with another young woman (don’t worry, she had a weird older boyfriend at the time, so this doesn’t quite go the predictable route, at least not immediately). Her name was/is/will likely remain Sofia, and I very much liked/like/will continue to like her. By like, I mean feel gross romantic things (I like her more than I dislike cherry candy, which is a really big deal if you understand how much I truly despise cherry candy, and also this is another thing you should keep in mind for later). When Funky and Oswald proposed we go and see Sofia, I was on-board in a way that lacked all subtlety and grace; witnessing the activation of my Attention-Seeking Vacuum, hindsight provides the understanding that Ysabelle was probably made nervous by this pitiful display of need, and opted to come along as a chastity belt rather than a guest. I was too dense to see this, as my empathetic skills had crash-landed at an record low, and I honestly believed it would be a wise idea to bring her along. It wasn’t.

Shortly after we reached Sofia’s house, it was painfully obvious where my attention would be for the remainder of our visit. Within minutes, Ysabelle had spread herself on Sofia’s living room couch, telling me that she was tired and wanted to take a break from all of the socializing. When I attempted to rejoin said socializing, she grabbed my pant-leg and drew me back to where she was lying, showing me a tattoo that ran the extent of her forearm. Terribly paraphrased by my garbage memory, it said “I was birthed from the rot and the flowers, and when I die I will at last rejoin them.” She told me the words bore great significance, but wouldn’t reveal what significance that was; when I asked again, she demanded that I admit my mutual love for her, and after I responded by saying nothing, it was her turn to repeat a question. I choked out something along the lines of “I don’t think so,” doubtlessly sounding like an intoxicated Muppet doing an impression of a deaf person trying to whisper across a stadium (this analogy solely exists to communicate my inability with tact, please don’t read into it).  The response I gave upset her, but I couldn’t really tell (refer back to that Muppet thing I just apologized for), so I went out with the rest of the squad to drink water that tasted like runny mud and was also a muscle relaxant. Jump to a couple of hours later, and we were back at the house, loosened up and acting like a bunch of assholes.

“I want to go back to the apartment,” Ysabelle said.

Feeling genuinely terrible, the cruelty of the situation hit me like Ron Jeremy’s wrecking ball. Though not enough, I was very remorseful, and offered to ride back on the bus with her (none of us drove at the time). On the way home, she shared much of her life with me, some stories truthful and others clearly fabricated, and all I could think was “I have ruined this person’s life,” which was admittedly an amazingly dramatic thing to be thinking, but it gets worse so hold on a second.

The events took place as follows:

We arrived at Garrett’s apartment, and nobody we knew was home. Abdul had some friends over, and they were playing a game in the living room, dance music pounding from a speaker near the balcony.  A sinking feeling filled my gut, sickening but difficult to explain, and I couldn’t keep my sight from locking onto my own feet.

Once we retreated into the bedroom, Ysabelle shut the door behind us and threw me a small bottle of lubricant. I almost dropped it, and when my eyes unlatched from what she had given me (I swear to God, I thought it was lip balm at first), she began to tear her clothes off like they were on fire. It looked like a bad eighties commercial, where a glam-rock girl with a pixie haircut and Member’s Only jacket is knocking shit off the shelf like it’s going out of style, and apparently this is supposed to be selling you Levi’s jeans. Only I didn’t want the Levi’s jeans that Ysabelle was selling me, so I stood there like a scarecrow and watched as my reality became a hilarious nightmare.

“I want you to fuck me,” she hissed, trying to tear my shirt off and scratching my back. Her nails reminded me of a movie poster I saw once, where a werewolf was ripping his claws through the screen, making this face like “I don’t give a shit, I’m breaking the fourth wall!” However, in this case, the fourth wall was the skin between my shoulder blades, and it wasn’t a Joe Dante film.

Soon enough, we were on the floor. “Put on the lube,” she was snapping at me. “Put on the lube.” I had never used lubricant before, and this whole ordeal was ludicrously weird, but I did my best to comply. Uncapping the container, I spilled way too much into my palm, and began mashing it inelegantly against my partially flaccid penis, the liquid far colder than I had anticipated, dripping onto the carpet and sheets beneath us. The scent of artificial cherry flooded into my nostrils, and I began to wretch, trying to pretend like I was stifling a cough as vomit threatened to eject from the back of my throat.

“Is it on?” she asked.

I tried to nod, propping the balance of my body onto one elbow and hurling the lube angrily across the room, the frigid sensation that once coated my balls transitioning into one of heat, awful stinging heat, as though the substance was attempting to drill into the follicles of my testicle hair. My thighs trembled and I began to sweat, but the combined tension and extremity of the moment prevented me from articulating this pain, so I said nothing.

“I shaved my pussy,” she gasped, her speech greatly worsening the sense of impending sick. “Put it in.”

Biting my lip, I began to enter her, but like all other happenings within this story, such an act did not go as planned. There was something inside of her, something bulbous and fleshy that was so large in size, it seemingly left a bulge in the skin above her groin. The sight and feel of it shocked me, and my mind returned instantly to her cervical cancer, my hand brushing over her skin in attempts to recognize what I was dealing with, the rough hairs of her shaved vagina scratching my open palm as I resisted the urge to break my own neck.  There was something wrong here, and although I was worlds away from being a sexual expert, it was all too apparent that this was a special sort of case.

Pulling back from her, I stood up, grabbing my underpants and sliding them on at lightning speed. Our gazes connected, and she too shot up, whipping a blanket like a cape about her shoulders and sprinting into the bathroom. Upon Garrett’s mattress, I sat alone, sliding back into my clothing and doing my best to ignore the stench which now filled his room.

When she returned, she was weeping. “I don’t know what you did to me,” she cried, holding out her bloody hands, squeezing her legs together with a tuft of toilet paper jutting out the front. “Do you have something?”

“Something?”

“An STD, do you have an STD?”

“No,” I scrambled for the right thing to say, fidgeting awkwardly in place. “I don’t. For sure I don’t.”

“Then,” she tilted her head down, shadows casting dramatically across her face in the shitty lamplight, “I think you found it. The cancer; you found the cancer.”

Although I have no clue how such a thing works, or if one is actually capable of “finding” cervical cancer with their botched erection, there was no doubt in my mind that whatever had just transpired was deeply wrong.

That night, once Garrett and Funky had returned, we all laid down together and watched an animated movie. After she had fallen asleep, I brought Garrett into the hallway and told him about what happened. He had been drinking something at the time, and upon gaining this information, pitched his cup against the plaster wall, glass shards and extra-pulp orange juice cascading through the air. “I care very much about her,” he said, stepping about the glass (we were both barefoot). “I haven’t told you this before, but when we first met, she told me that she loved me, and we also had sex too, and I also found the cancer.”

“What?”

He spoke frantically – “I mean I found it, the cancer. I found it, too. I touched it with my penis.”

I shook my head and he disappeared through a nearby doorway, quickly returning with some traffic cones he’d allegedly stolen. Setting them on either side of the mess, he clapped his hands together as though dusting them off, then headed back into the apartment. The cones, along with everything else, remained there unattended for days.

The following morning, we made coffee and sat out on the balcony. She was leaving to see her doctor soon, to discern if anything new and/or horrible had occurred inside of her body. I dumped a comical amount of Funky Mannequin’s raw tobacco into a rolling paper and nodded along, beginning the second stint of chain-smoking that would prove to rival the first. About halfway through my massive smoke, she proposed to me.

“Let’s just get married,” she said. “We love each other, we can just get married and go wherever we want to.”

Politely as I could, I declined, so she took a bus to Vancouver and asked the no-longer transgender parolee if he would like to marry her instead. He also declined, so she stayed in Portland and drank the baby to death.

Oh, you thought I was going to end on a funny line. No, that’s seriously it, that’s how this story ends.

Sorry, folks.

A drawing of Ysabelle, made shortly after our unfortunate encounter. Yeah, I know I’m an edge-lord, sorry.

 

Next Up: Seven Sinks And The Bridge Of Despair
And Maybe Then: The Unplanned Interference
And Eventually Someday: Acid-Master Reverend Stu’s Californian Romp
And Then Eventually Someday Somehow After All That: 260 Miles: The Borderline Homoerotic Tales Of Traveling Way Too Far On Foot And Getting Ticks On Your Nutsack

The Grand (and somewhat bland) Appearance

On the 9th of June, fellow writer Funky Mannequin and I left our home in La Grande, Oregon. The goal was to travel the length of the state and return to Portland (where we first met), and travel we did; through incredible heat, scrotal ticks, the corpses of decaying roadside house-cats, and the backs of vans owned by religious meth-head couples, we pressed onward. However, this story is about none of those things (though you can bet there will be more on such escapades later).

For now, let’s focus on The Grand (and somewhat bland) Appearance.

Upon reentering Portland, Funky and I were greeted by a typhoon of litter and profoundly retarded transit system. The destination was across town (the apartment of a dear friend Garrett), so we got change from a local barkeep and his transvestite girlfriend, seating ourselves at the nearest stop and checking the schedule. It read eight minutes – five minutes later, it read nine.

When the vehicle at last greeted us, it did so with an overweight woman screeching into a speaker-phone and a coughing man who would have shamed victims of the bubonic plague.

We were up to our taints in boozy broads and gutter condoms. We were home indeed.

Once freed of the public access vehicle, we promptly located Garrett’s building and illegally tailed a resident through the safety-locked doors. Instead of the stairs, we took a dangerous-looking elevator up a single story and reached the room in minutes, ushered in by a middle-eastern man bearing a plate of assorted fruits. “For you,” he spoke smoothly, presenting the organized dish of succulent offerings.

We took the juicy gift and rested upon a crimson sofa, breathing in the sheer emptiness of the apartment’s space. “Where’s Garrett?” we asked, slightly unnerved.

“He went to get you,” the man responded, producing a smoke and heading for the balcony.

“Of course.”

Eerie music filled the air. No, there is truly no joke or metaphor to be found here; there was suspenseful music quite literally flooding the room around us, echoing from somewhere within the walls (from which room we did not yet know).

On the coffee table before the couch, a sculpture of a pirate skull glowered at our knees (“I dug that out of the trash!” our friend would soon proclaim with an appropriately dramatic gesture).

When Garrett finally did arrive, he did so with a homeless companion named Jeremy (known to Garrett as “Gregory” for absolutely no reason at all). Jeremy talked about an ideal world on acid, grew offended when asked to play a love song, refused to shower, then gave everybody his filthy, filthy lice (they filled all of the hand towels, so cleaning oneself was deeply counter-productive). Levi cooked us delicious salmon to rectify these things.

That night, we watched a television of static. The channels wouldn’t change unless we were using the remote. When the remote eventually stopped working (no big deal, all of the channels were static anyway), Garrett opened the battery compartment and two small pieces of aluminum foil fell from the device. We were all dumbfounded.

On the television (or rather, within the static on the television), we saw intergalactic travel, spiraling serpents, parting seas, and a vigorously dancing man. The dancing man was so horrendously funny, we all laughed for a good five minutes (five minutes is an absurdly long and painful amount of time when you can only laugh). This television, like the pirate skull, was obtained from a dumpster.

The following day, Funky and Garrett made Jeremy the Louse King collect all of his shit and throw it into a sack, putting him on the bus and taking him to a tax-evading semi-cult otherwise known as The Boneyard (read: Road Trip Through PurgatoryMy Accidental Life As A Full-Time Meth Peddler: Part One, and Bags Of Flesh, Bottles Of Urine – all appropriately titled entries in the world of Boneyard lore).

“It’s a commune of artists,” they misinformed the Louse King.

He looked very worried, as he should have been. When they were traveling via the TriMet streetcar, he spent the ride face-down in his guitar. He knew they were stretching the truth.

When they reached the communal settlement of degenerate scum, the landowner was evicting a local junkie (Fini, Lord of Ice-Cold Milk). All of his greasy belongings had been tossed onto the lawn.

The Louse King was abandoned there, yet to be seen again.

So we made a safe return and lead normal lives, right?

Well, unbeknownst to my shitty little heart, this was but the beginning of a new breed of adventure – an adventure so lethargic, pasty, and unexciting that it would be a crime to shove it all into one post.

In stories to come: handguns, familial alienation, bloody intercourse, parolee sex-changes, cancer, long-lost siblings, and open relationships. Yeah, yeah, don’t get your hopes up.

Garrett, whose face is scribbled out because he doesn't want any photos on the internet because he's fucking insane.

Garrett, whose face is scribbled out because he doesn’t want any photos on the internet because he’s fucking insane.

Next Up: The Gland Incoherence
And Then: The Unplanned Interference
And Eventually Someday: Seven Sinks And The Bridge Of Despair
And Then Eventually Someday Somehow After All That: 260 Miles: The Borderline Homoerotic Tales Of Traveling Way Too Far On Foot And Getting Ticks On Your Nutsack

The Golden Child Strikes Again!

One time, when I was very young, my mother told me about True Love. Someone out there, upon the vast and twisting surface of this earth, was destined to stumble into my life and click against my body like a puzzle piece. I asked her if she loved my father and she told me “yes.”

When my parent’s later became lost in the trenches of a particularly violent argument, I had to hide beneath the kitchen table with my baby brother. The police arrived and began to guide my father away, but he got to leave on his own because he wasn’t causing any physical harm. My neighbor guided us to the car because my mom was real scared and we drove miles out of town, to my grandmother’s place. When we arrived, my mother cried in her mother’s arms and we got to pull out the inflatable mattress with my grandfather. That night, sleeping on the floor, I thought about how one day I would get to have all of this. I would get to have True Love.

This morning, I put my left shoe on my right foot. I looked down for a bit, then left it that way for the rest of the day. It felt about time to write another gripe, so I made this.

Longer stories coming, soon-ish maybe.

On stage with my dad. Who needs True Love when you've got real love in the first place?

On stage with my dad. Who needs True Love when you’ve got real love in the first place?

Second Birthday, 3:50am With All The Lights Still On

Sometimes, when I’m hanging on the brink of a dream, I see her standing in the sliding glass doorway, her hand propped awkwardly against its frame and her small eyes digging into my soft belly, disentangling the seams of my flesh and spilling my innards out across my toes. She stands like she did before; one foot on the carpet, one foot outside of the house, as though she’s preparing to break into a sprint. I would ask her not to leave me alone, naked and cold in a massive house, but all of my teeth have fallen out. I am pitiful to look upon, embarrassing to touch. She says “I’ll be back tonight,” and she leaves. Of course, we both know that she’s lying.

However, last night, I did not hang on the edge of a dream. Last night, I fell in.

The dawn of February’s second day broke and I found myself awaking in a pool of lukewarm sweat, my feet wet and clammy, the blankets stuck to my greasy, hairless chest. In spite of myself, I cried, curling deeply into the armchair upon which I slept. I tried to recollect what had brought me to feel this way. I dug into my subconscious and I remembered.

In this reverie, my friends taunted me, laughed at me while I pulled at my collar and scratched at my throat. They told me, “She’ll be here soon.” Had it really been a whole year already? I didn’t want to see her ever again, to lock eyes with the girl who dragged me from the rushing puddles of blood and blaring music atop the dining room table. I didn’t want to thank her for anything. My jaw locked and I tried to smile, to pretend that I was a good person who worked hard with a successful career and overflowing charisma.  I pulled a digital camera from the ether, attempting to steal pictures with the people around me, to look friendly and smart and kind and social and popular. I wondered, “Does she look at pictures of me? Does she find pictures of me online and stare at them and wonder what I’ve become, how I’m doing inside? Does she read my writing?” I still want to impress her, or maybe frighten her, maybe push the love out of her like a blackened stalk of guilt that wraps around me and crushes the air from my lungs. I want to feel her soft hands wrapping my father’s favorite dish towels around my wrists and I want to tell her “these are my father’s favorite dish towels,” and I want her to look at me with that stunning expression of utter fucking disgust and confusion. I can see it now; her eyelids drawn back so far that her dilating pupils bore right into my skull, and all I want to do is scream until my chest tears open. My blood seeping through the cloth, trickling out over her tiny, white fingers.

Today (the third day of February, 2015) marks the one-year anniversary of my attempting to kill myself. I thought that it wasn’t going to bother me, but here I am, venting to strangers and struggling not to be crushed under my own fear of failure, of over-sensitivity and shamefulness. The scars are mostly white, now. I think often of how strange it is to still be alive, how incredible it was to be alive in the first place. Like a tired echo, perhaps a ghost, reverberating endlessly through the events that would have comprised the rest of my life.

At midnight, I received an email from my oldest friend. Throughout a lengthy letter, she wrote many wonderful and insightful things. At the end, she wrote, “I’m stuck feeling like you died that day. Like my head won’t accept that you’re still alive, or at least that you’ll stay that way. It’s a terrifying sensation and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to commit myself to the notion that you’re sticking around.”

 

And then she wrote, “Happy Birthday.”

 

I am truly blessed, to fear such a beautiful world.

 

 

This is the final time that I will ever write of my suicidal experiences or urges. I apologize for bogging down many of my posts with such tiresome material, but it’s been an incredibly difficult year for me. Thank you, all who have read my entries, for bearing with me on my journey of self-pitying bullshit. You’re the best.

Obscured Social Pursuits

Within the parts of the world where infrastructure is secure, food abundant and the people free, many become concerned with trivialities. These largely superficial concerns of the educated and well fed masses take on a bizarrely disproportionate value. Some of the concerns are rooted in legitimate grievances, such as gay rights and institutional sexism. Those are serious problems that infringe on the quality of many people’s lives. The strange thing that seems to so often occur within the affected communities of these issues is a total abstraction of the real intention and point of it all. Instead of seeking to create a just and reasonably equal society where people are not punished for characteristics beyond their control, many people want to be specially recognized and given exemptions to various conventions of society. Now none of this is true for all of the people involved with these matters, but there is a significant enough group of these demanding individuals that I believe it merits attention. Now when making observations on these people’s behaviors it is tempting to simply dismiss them or address them rudely for the sake of comedy, a fair impulse given the often unintentionally comedic nature of their exploits. However this is not a productive means of accomplishing anything, to aggravate the “community” of particular righteous individuals in such a way would only serve to strengthen their misplaced ideals and stall any effort to amend their approach to social justice. Now the people of which I speak have no official structure, they can be found anywhere. They do not have any consistent forms of identification. The thing that makes them distinct is their bizarre and often unproductive approach to the various social inadequacies present in industrialized and civil societies. Instead of seeking unification and all embracing appreciation for all people regardless of their condition, they want very explicit identifications for themselves and public acknowledgement of their unconventional behaviors/thoughts/beliefs/interests. Many of the things they claim to seek affirmation for are simply false constructions, likely made to make the individual feel special. They will demand ridiculous things such as “LGBTQFOCHZ only spaces” or to include imaginary pronouns on official documents such as licence and job applications. When these demands are not met or people refuse to recognize their fantasies as reality they often retaliate with anger and extreme self righteous indignity. The trouble with these types of people is their insistence that they are fighting for legitimate social issues. This makes it difficult to decry their absurd arguments as doing so would make you seem a bigot. I believe it is essential to end this immature behavior as it inhibits genuine progress. If genuinely bigoted people choose to do any research on the matters of their contempt they will likely find an abundance of this insincere and provocative trash. This encourages negative attitudes towards oppressed groups and no positive change occurs. I have seen in my personal circle of acquaintances some disturbingly misogynistic opinions inspired by the aggressive and misguided actions of radical feminists. Every person is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, I do not seek to blame feminists for sexism or convoluted pronoun users for trans-phobia. Nonetheless if you are a part of a minority group and you choose to be exceptionally public with your thoughts and ideas about social justice issues, you must expect people to take some notice and to form opinions on what you say. The more radical and obscene your message, the more radical an opinion people will have. Instead of seeking to further divide humanity with the addition of sixteen different genders and extra bathrooms for queer students in schools and a myriad of social distinctions and denominations for the fantastical imaginings of one’s identity, let us embrace ourselves for what we truly are, human. Gender and sexuality are legitimately inconsequential. Rather than make these things the center of our highly individualized identity we ought to consider them unimportant and natural characteristics. Recognize each other for the beauty of our ambitions and ability to love. Doing so will overcome all unnecessary animosity and strife. Love and honesty are the true means to a fulfilling existence.

Sandpaper Sleeping Bags

My personal perception of the perfect joy would come in the form of a scent. It would be early Christmas morning (every morning) and a steaming mug of Mexican coffee would be planted in one of my two hairy fists. Cinnamon candles would sit aglow atop the fireplace mantle; upon the couch, my wife would rest with one majestic tit flopped out and the nine-month amalgam of my crudely-squeezed seed suckling from its tip. I would lean in and deeply inhale the wistful stench of musty fabric and breast milk, and I would say to myself, “Wonderful.” The audible utterance of this word would not faze my spouse, as nobody would question my feelings or motives in my world of blissful perfection.

These were my thoughts as I lay splayed in a heap of (at least) four adolescent bodies, our thoughts and feelings wafting silently into the air above us and pooling together in a cloud of private nostalgia, the notion of sleep closing in upon us. I smelled my left armpit and prayed that my bladder would hold overnight, briefly visualizing the image of my companions as they awoke in my piss, my many years of beds un-wetted suddenly dropping their streak of success. Moments later came the fear of sporting morning wood, accidentally spearing the young man beside me as we wakened in the winding sheets. Soon enough, the lines of my consciousness blurred and both worries became the same, piss-drenched boner hell leaking into my oncoming dreams.

“Where is the bathroom?” I broke the brief and peaceful silence.

“My roommate has the West Nile Virus,” the young host responded.

Crawling out through a nearby window, I stood on the asphalt shingles and scanned the cozy neighborhood. The sight of a neighboring house caught my eye, the home of a childhood friend. The emotions invoked cut deeply as I unzipped my pants; leaning off the side of the building, I produced my penis and unleashed a wave of urine across the homeowner’s recycling bins.

After returning inside, I shared my stories of Lebanese youth who have their limbs amputated and replaced with hooks. This is done so that the given consumer may effectively hang them (right-side-up or upside-down) from doorways, closet rods, shelf brackets, or whatever else they see fit. This is done for sexual pleasure. Stitching their mouths shut is an optional addition for the client, which I also believe is somehow related to sexual pleasure. They are sold over the darker corners of the internet.

I like to call these creatures “Hook Children,” because it communicates the point snappily whilst putting a minimal emphasis on the horrible reality of the situation.

That night, we fell asleep to the sound of crying. It was very soft crying and I almost got an erection.

Living in America is pretty okay, sometimes. Trying to kill myself was a weak-ass move.

My previous life as a superior guitar player. One day, this photograph will grow up to be a stock image. Just like it's father.

My previous life as a superior guitar player. One day, this photograph will grow up to be a stock image. Just like it’s father.

A Note On Paradigm Shifts

To those living in industrialized and well connected nations it may come as no surprise to be told that the world is in quite a peculiar state. The human species finds itself plagued by a myriad of inadequacies. While some suffer the pain of starvation others suffer the devastation of war, every person across the earth has some grievance great and small. It is similarly unsurprising to be told that this is entirely unnecessary. Of the many problems to be solved by humanity the simplest are surely the ones involving our own pointless troubles. This is particularly important in this moment because right now humanity stands at the edge of immense change. The technologies available to us now enable us to achieve things we have not yet even imagined. With this technology and a rational loving spirit, humankind will bring itself into an age of unprecedented prosperity. The immediate steps necessary for this to occur are intuitive and essentially effortless. Individuals must seek to think objectively with love for all people regardless of all circumstance and to view the world as it is without superimposing imagined truths. It is crucial for Individuals to live in the moment and to discard old understandings on the nature of reality. A truly beautiful future is becoming swiftly apparent and it is all people’s responsibility to make it present. Love is important above all else as it is only by genuinely loving each other we will be able to operate effectively in this imminent future.

I love you.