Sunday, December 12, 2010

dream (fragment)

I'm trapped between Kierkegaard and Nietzsche on a subway car hurtling beneath the ground at breakneck speeds. It's rush hour, standing room only, and we're packed in shoulder to shoulder, jostling for space, desperately clutching at the hand straps while this monstrous snake of steel and glass roars through the earth.

It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't already dead. All of them dead. Each and every one. And I'm stuck on this hellish commute with this bunch of mouldering zombies, diseased and decaying. Groaning aloud. Sighing within. Søren's once large friendly eyes have since disappeared giving way to gaping orbital cavities in a bleached skull. And Friedrich's distinctive large black moustache has been reduced to little more than the few bristles of a mangy broom on the last of some hardened skin.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

seed (fragment)

I was a younger woman of just twenty-four years when my father first told me of the Artesanos de la Revolución. Their overarching goal was to create a craving for change, he said. They would bring about change, I was told, and they would bring about this change on their own terms, whenever and however they desired. Now, some fifteen years later, the big change has yet to materialise – we have not, to my knowledge, undergone any sort of revolution, no uprising has been staged. And now, some fifteen years later, I’m still in the dark about what this revolution was even meant to be, and who, exactly, was going to lead it.

There are a lot of names in my father's journals, articles, and stories. Some of the names have apparently been changed, some of the names are attached to people no longer of this earth, and some seem to have never existed at all. A small handful of names, however, belong to people I have been able to track down, though most of my calls, letter, and emails go unanswered. Except for one: Wizman Aboudaram; he unexpectedly agreed to meet with no trouble. Wizman Aboudaram agreed to meet with me at a tiny cantina in the Petit Socco at the entrance of Tangier’s old city. It was there that he told me about his meeting with one of the AR’s three founders.

“Alexandre Lemonnier,” Wizman whispered across the dirty wood of the table, as though saying the name too loud may have resulted in instantaneous death. Showing his paranoia, he checked over one shoulder and then the next, the red of his fez like dried blood in the candlelight. “One of the three,” he continued, nervously toying with the buttons on his dark Sherwani. “One of the originals.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I said, perhaps a little too loudly. Noticing that I had caught the attention of a couple of sketchy gentlemen a table over, I lowered my voice, instinctively limiting the movement of my lips. “You can’t be serious,” I muttered. “The Artesanos de la Revolución was officially formed nearly one hundred twenty-five years ago. That puts Mr Lemonnier at, what… at least one hundred forty-three years old – supposing he was only eighteen when the organisation started up.”

Wizman raised his eyebrows. “They seem to live a long time, yes.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

deal (fragment)

Klaus was haggling over the price of a small, pouch in a bazaar in the bordertown of el-Azhr. Money, gems, and guns littered the table, but at the centre of it all were two matched lenses in a simple velvet pouch. Polished to perfection. The Eyes of On'uhq'el.

“Does he know how much this gun is worth?” he yelled at his guide. Both Klaus and the dealer were clutching at a nickel-plated Kalashnikov on the table, feeling its cold metal in their hands, spitting harsh words at one another.

“Really,” he demanded, “does he know? Ask him if he knows how much this thing is worth. Does he know who it belonged to?”

The guide animatedly tried to explain the rifle's worth to the dealer. He was having none of it.

“He wants more money!” Klaus screamed. “Of course he does! Fine! Fine, look at this.” Klaus reached into a battered leather attaché and withdrew another stack of hundreds, angrily throwing it down on the table. “You want money, I've got money! Here's ten thousand more.”

The dealer smiled a broad, toothless grin and calmly slid the small velvetine pouch across the table.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


It's beginning to feel like the human race is now obsessing over planetary statistics and records to the point where we're becoming like the hypochondriac who thinks he is dying every time he discovers a new nonspecific symptom.

The water is trying to kill us with hurricanes, flash floods, blizzards, tsunamis, and avalanches. The air is out to get us with tornadoes. The earth brings landslides, and earthquakes. Fire wants to get us with volcanoes, forest fires, and heat waves. You can throw epidemics, famine, and droughts into the mix. And let's not forget about dangers from space in the form of gamma ray bursts, asteroids, solar flares, and alien invasions.

This is the source of our collective anxiety.

It's no revelation that each and every generation since the beginning of time feels in its gut that it may be the last. The end of the world is always near. Extinction right around the corner. We are, as they say, all terminal.

But our memories are short, and our collection of statistics too recent, only going back a few hundred years at best. We forget that the earth was covered in ice only 20,000 years ago and will be again in time. The Sahara desert was lush and populated as recently as 10,000 years ago. These changes, quite rapid considering the earth is around 4.5 billion years old, are due to cycles, and there is nothing we can to to change them, and no amount of worry is going to help.

Monday, August 30, 2010

tree (fragment)

He shouldn't have been driving. He shouldn't have been, but he had to get out of that infernal jungle.

A family of Cyrilla trees in his headlights – Cyrilla racemiflora, mammoth bastards – seen through the thick cloud of dust after a sudden stop. Let's start here. The guide was snoring loudly in the backseat of the Jeep, and Harlan's chin was resting on the steering wheel. He was staring, half-dazed, half-crazed, with bloodshot eyes at the bark of one great tree in particular.

Zoom in. Thousands of giant black ants, maybe even millions, crawled up and down, marching through the deep grooves etched into the thick skin of this ancient tree. He was seeing everything. He bloody well saw it all. Every god damned ant, every woody rut, every bead of sap – his eyes picked up every detail.

The excruciatingly slow dripping of this tree's lifeblood. Its slight sway in the wind. Roots shallowly worming their way through the ground. Having already spent more than eight hundred of its predetermined thousand or so years, this tree's life yawned, stretching slowly, as it prepared to enter the era of gradual decline. Harlan felt he was there at the planting of a tiny seed. He felt he had been there for important moments along the way. He felt he had always been there, and would be there at the end.

Friday, July 9, 2010


We should not wake
the ones who sleep;
the ones who watch,
the ones who keep.

These brutes we see
fulfil a role:
they guard the ones
who will swallow us whole.

Friday, June 11, 2010

ayahuasca (fragment)

Ayahuasca, herself, was present before him, around him, within him, a being of troubling beauty, awash with flickering, sliding colours for which he did not yet have names. There were no features visible that Harlan could identify, no details that he could pinpoint, but he was entranced by her beauty all the same.

She spoke without breaking the silence, filling his pulpy, wooden brain with unearthly, but wholly meaningful sounds. Planting the seeds for instructions that he could not yet fully understand, could not yet fully appreciate. Seeds which would in time grow to saplings with the proper sunlight, nutrients, and moisture. Saplings which would in time grow into strong adult trees.

Flash of copper. Suddenly, a giant, lumbering shadow fell over the once tranquil scene, and Ayahuasca vanished without so much as a goodbye leaving Harlan, the once majestic Cyrilla tree, a shivering, shaking, sweating human.

The dreams had stopped, and in their place a dense void took up residence, a veritable black hole, squatted in his unconscious. Ingesting intuition. Consuming common sense. Snacking on his soul. But, something had to be done.

“This was necessary. Sometimes one has to go in and set things straight.”


“Now, you will need to be leaving.”

“I don't think I can move.”

“You can not stay here.”

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Before he could even hear them, he could smell them. The familiar scent of deodorant covering body odour, of cigarets, of sweat-stained playing cards. Each carried a distinctive odour, and as Harlan slithered silently through the trees surrounding the clearing, he rifled through the files in his brain to place each scent.

He crept further through the trees in the direction of his prey, and was soon welcomed by another layer of scents. The steel and grease of firearms. Copper bullet jackets. Cordite and nitrocellulose. Fairly standard weapons, all of them. Routine. Nothing to fear. Closer yet, allowing the sounds into his ears for classification. The soft crackling of boots standing on the ground. Trying to be silent.

Almost beside them. Harlan finally spotted the group of men through the trees. Four South Americans standing around an overturned card table, rifles drawn, peering through their scopes into the clearing. They were caught totally outside of any alert mode, Harlan thought. One even had his boots off. Stupid bastard.

Knife out, Harlan flew. Seriously flew, and sliced through both of the bootless man's Achilles tendons before anyone knew what was happening. Screams and pandemonium. The poor sap tried to stand, only to come crashing down. River of blood. The three unmolested men instinctively spun around, letting loose a blind barrage of bullets. One soldier fell to friendly fire. Then another.

Harlan, still hovering close to the ground, plunged his knife deep into the throat of the first downed man before leaping up to engage his remaining enemy in unarmed combat. There was a struggle, and Harlan's hands found their way around his adversary's throat. The man put up a decent fight, but within seconds, he, too, was dead. Choked by Harlan's pitiless hands.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


You saw them coming, but they were too many. There was nothing you could do, and you were overpowered, consumed by the moaning, howling masses of walking corpses. And now you're dead. Aren't you? There's a slow reawakening of consciousness. Dead fingers twitch with impossible animation. You hunger. For blood. For meat. For human flesh. You have this insatiable urge, this irresistible craving, to crack open a human skull and scoop out the warm brain matter, liberating it from its bony confines. You rise, supernatural pulses flickering into dead muscles. You rise, and join your new friends, reborn as one of the living dead.