Not who. WHAT.

The creature before me is more shape than substance. It is humanoid in design alone; beyond that, it is not hyperbole to say this thing is not human, rather an amalgam of flesh and anachronism.

Its face is protensive, split endlong into five separate, distinct slices. Each slice is a poor simulacrum of the last; the faces protrude from the creature’s cranium, wriggling within hairy, wrinkled skin-pouches distinguishable by inattentive, jostling eyeballs. One eye per pale, translucent sac; this is the only symmetrical aspect of the formation.

The eyes roll freely about in their cystic pouches, careless. One or two of them notice me, the rest observe the soupy white tunnel surrounding us.

Everything about its skin is veined, pitted, pocked, and boiling. In stretches, its surface is blue, gray, brownish pink, maroon, and greenish white. Several parts of it look ready to burst.

It has many arms and legs, although it uses few for locomotion. Some of the limbs are equipped with singular, finger-like appendages gripping seemingly random objects: a bow, a shape resembling a giant bird’s beak, an apple, a chain, a seashell. The rest seem to be reaching, feeling, experimenting; occasionally one of the limbs bends back toward the body sickeningly, touching the head briefly then going completely limp, as if chastised.

One of the limbs—one of the few with anything resembling a hand—holds an egg. The egg is taller than I am, grey, and covered in hair and veins.

The creature has three mouths that do not move when it speaks. It speaks incessantly, at length, and apparently telepathically. It lurches slowly, deliberately toward me, commanding the space between us with vile jibberish. It accosts me in every imaginable language. I don’t hear this in the usual sense; instead, I understand—with my mind—that it is communicating with me.

“Disingenuous! Claw. Cloaca. Sialogogic. Cavitary, prolapsed fractally. Pungent. Du du du dubious! Prrom. Glangla, thrripthra qtwokkog, id est, edis rehto eht no retteb era sgniht epoh tsum ew?”



does it



want me to





“Hello?” The word dies on my lips.

The creature flails; all of it moves at once, as a crowd.

Limbs I hadn’t yet seen fray apart, themselves becoming limbs of limbs. Treelike, it seems to unfold. Parts of its torso web and split, poly joints unhinging to reveal smaller nesting ungulae.


The creature blinks

its whole self

at me.


It moves with alarming speed. It was there, and it is here. Before me. Upon me. Over me. Its shadow becomes my own. I am consumed by



f  e  a  r




I open my eyes one at a time. The thing is inches away from my face, leaning over me. Its body sags toward my own.

Simultaneously trying not to scream or vomit I mouth, deafly: “What…where, am I?”

“I is crossing.”


Okay, I understood that…


“Crossing what?”


“Ah… oh. Uh….”

“Smize. Prree-toh.”


I’m backing away. Warm mist rolls across my neck and shoulders. Wisps of the tunnel wall lick at my arms, back, and legs. My body revolts, electrified. I step sideways and fall onto the soft tunnel floor, which erupts in a cloud of flumes around me. Drunken, writhing ballerina tornadoes twist up from the floor and dance away.

“What do you want?” I say too loudly, as I try to shimmy away from the creature. “Don’t come any closer.”

All of this happens silently before me:

All five of the creature’s eyes alight on me, glisten, swell, then burst at once leaving five dark, wet holes. New eyes grow and fill the gaps. It begins to convulse violently. Its vesicles shake. Limbs retract into the torso. The more massive appendages absorb the smaller ones. A sphincter on its side loosens, puckers, opens. Bony arms reach around to place their treasures carefully inside the new hole. Faces push outward from beneath the skin around the creature’s neck. Tortured, gnawing mouths stretch forth, then retreat. The skin becomes chameleonic, awash with hues of red, purple, brown, pink, green, yellow, blue, and uncountable colors I cannot name, swirling as oil on water.

A moment later the creature completes its transformation. It is more humanoid than before; less treelike. It stands on two legs, naked and sagging and grotesque before me. The five new eyes seem to hang awkwardly from a head that is upside down, dangling from a neck that is too long, too bent. A sharp, pointed nose protrudes above each eye. Above the noses are five gaping, smiling mouths. I see teeth, black and gray and grinning.

The mouths move in unison: “Betra?”

I nod furiously.

“Nethgirf ot naem tndid.”

I blink. Once, twice, thrice, frice. It is still existing.

“What shmize I go by?”

Name. It wants to know my name.

“I am… ah…” fuzzy. I am something. What was I? Before I was here.

“Mmmahh,” the creature mocks my vocalization, pleasantly. All five of its mouths smile. A thin arrow juts out from a bleeding knot on its foremost arm, the end of which is curled into a blurry mess. It doesn’t seem to notice.

“Are I go toothy city?”



The creature stretches its cleanest arm, pointing at something behind me. My body refuses to let me turn to look.

“Sa. Betra.” Staring. Both of us. My skin goes cold. The fog seems to spread away from me. One of the five mouths curls in a snarl. The creature’s skin darkens. The eyes begin to widen slowly as it opens its mouths

I turn away

and in the distance, beyond the circular end of the tunnel, I see the long, dark outline of a massive structure plummeting toward me. Scramble to my feet. Knees shaking. My pants are wet. I’m suddenly aware of how tight this clothing is. Everywhere my skin feels suppressed, suffocated, swollen.

The hairs on my neck stand on end.


I spin, bringing my hands up to stop it, but the creature is walking away. Quite far away, actually. The egg balances on a woven basket on its back, bumping up and down with each step it takes. I watch the egg grow tiny in the distance until the tunnel mist swallows it all together.

Then I breathe.

Turning, I see the creature. In front of me.





I scream. No sound comes out. The creature screams. Too much sound comes out. Mechanical agony. Distorted octaval ripping. Augmented tonal nightmares. It moves. Closes on me.


Its scream tapers; its muscles weaken, relax. Its eyes twitch and loll and search the tunnel around us until they find me.

It blinks.

The creature speaks. This time, I feel the vibrations in my chest. Its voice is deep. Low as an oceanic titan.

“You must go into the city. She waits for you.”


The creature leans forward, throat bulging. A face emerges, pressing against the flesh of the neck. The skin crawls apart, revealing a new head with one huge eye hanging in an open socket. The creature’s outer head leans back to give the newcomer space to operate.

“You ask the wrong questions, Mah.”


“Instead, consider this: you are nowhere. This is nothing. You are everything. This is always. Where you were is not. Where you go will be. Do you see?”


“Take the egg. It will get you where you need to go.”

“The… egg?”

The creature turns slowly, waddling side to side until the prominence on its back is revealed to me. It kneels and shrugs the woven satchel from its shoulder. The egg lands on the mist, which seems to cushion the fall.

“How is this going to help guide me?”

No reply.

“How do I carry it? It’s too big.”

No reply.

The creature stands and revolves until it faces me once again.

“When you reach the gates of the city, you must remember not to speak. We have been destroyed by your sound once yet. You will do worse to the dwellers there.”

“What will happen… if I… if I speak?”

“If you are caught, you will be Separated.”



“What… I don’t…”

“Take the egg to the city. She waits there for you. You will understand soon enough.”

The creature shuffles toward the end of the tunnel whence I began. At last, it disappears behind the fog. I search the mist with my eyes but do not find it.

I am alone. With the egg.

Turning, I see the dark shapes of the city taking form. The tunnel appears to have slowed and shrunk. Buildings creep past either edge of my vision. I feel the speed of my vessel as we descend closer to the ground.

When the tunnel comes to a stop, the fog unrolls, forming a lake around me. Taking the woven satchel by the handle, I swing the bag up on one shoulder, stumbling to keep the egg in balance. It is not nearly as heavy as it looked. It is cumbersome, though. The size makes it awkward.

With one hand gripping the woven strap over my shoulder, I take my first step on solid ground. The city is dark and cold before me. I see it stretching up beyond an expanse of grey clouds, as domineering as the mountain to the lone tree.

The sky is void of stars.

Darkness forms new constellations for me.

And the egg leads me into the heart of the mountain.

Dear Diary:

(3 years earlier)

I feel like a little girl again, writing those words, but it feels good!

We’ve never met before, but my name is Amara. I guess I’ll have to think of a name for you. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to come up with one on the car ride home. Writing in the car makes my stomach wobbly. For now, I’ll just call you Diary, but only until I come up with something perfect. Promise.

My dad used to say, “A sturdy journal is the best friend you could ever hope for.”

I didn’t believe him (though it didn’t stop him from repeating himself).

I was fourteen when he bought me my very first diary. She was about your size, but a different color on the front. Her cover was red, and she had matching red trim around the borders of every page. When you flipped the pages fast enough, the edges turned pink! I thought it was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. But I guess it’s not hard to impress a fourteen-year-old. I used to love the way that book smelled. Every time I took it out of my armoire, I would hold it up to my nose, fan the pages back and forth, and breathe deep. It always made me smile. Even when I had a bad day; even when I just wanted to curl up on my bed and cry salty tears on its pages, that smell always brought me a moment of happiness.

I wonder whatever happened to that old diary.

But anyway, enough about the old. Today is a day for new.

Diary, I have big news. I had a breakthrough yesterday. I’m a little nervous to talk about it, since I haven’t started the work yet and it doesn’t even seem real yet, but it’s happening. I only started working at Praxem three months ago, and I’ve already had an epiphany that could change everything. Mason couldn’t be happier for me.

Oh, I just realized, you don’t even know who Mason is yet, how rude of me!

Mason is my husband. We’ve been married three years. We lived in Ohio since we met, which was a little over six years ago. We had a small apartment there, but our house here in California is bigger. Praxem has been good to us. I guess they wanted me bad enough, they agreed to all my stipulations. My dad used to tell me I’d make a great attorney.

But you want to know a secret?

You can’t tell anyone. Not even Mason.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a lawyer or a mathematician or a doctor. What I really loved was flowers, and nature, and poetry. Oh, I loved writing poems in the field near my childhood home. We lived on a hillside surrounded by meadows and a big creek. The fields that turned purple in the Spring from all the prairie clover.

I used to sit barefooted in the field at the highest point on the hill and draw sketches of the flowers. I would talk to them and sing to them and read poems…

I just realized… that makes me sound crazy! Don’t get the wrong idea, Diary. The flowers didn’t talk back. I just never felt happier than when I was surrounded by all that purple life. The color, the smell, everything about it was just incredible. That place held unparalleled beauty.

When I got older, and my mom got sick, we moved out of that house and into the city. Dad wanted to be closer to the doctors and nurses who were taking care of her. That was a hard time. I stopped writing poems and singing songs; I started studying biology and mathematics to help my father try to learn what was making mom so sick.

Come to think of it, I guess I never went back to see my flowers after… well, after everything that happened. I haven’t thought about this stuff in years.

Diary, I can already tell we are going to be good, close friends.

But back to my news. Yesterday, I had a moment of realization that could change my life forever. We’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I guess I should tell you about my job. God, it’s all so exciting. I can’t even keep my head straight!

Okay, so my job is Lead Researcher of Cessation Studies, Biology Department at Praxem Industries. Praxem maintains many global research initiatives, but here at the Leiden Facility in California, our studies focus on dying; more specifically, the moments leading up to death, and the moments just after.

It sounds very dark and gloomy, I know. But I promise it’s all very fascinating!

Dr. Soliman says my breakthrough yesterday could be the key to unlocking the secrets of human death and the afterlife! Can you believe that? And to think, it all happened because Mason and I took a drive up the coast, to the beach.

I remember seeing the flowers along the roadside swaying in the breeze. It was so windy out, we couldn’t walk very long, but something about the way the flowers moved made me realize, we’ve been measuring the wrong variables. Up until now, we’ve only looked at synaptic cessation, trying to draw correlations with temperature (heat) transfer, but now I know we’ve been looking at it all wrong. I just know it! I won’t go into the technical stuff, but I’ll give you a hint (this is top secret!): my breakthrough has to do with sound, not heat. Isn’t that crazy? Sound!

I’m sure none of this makes sense at all. But don’t worry Diary. I’m going to tell you all about it in the days and weeks to come. That’s why I went out and bought a new journal. I wanted to document this time very carefully, for posterity. If this really does lead to a significant discovery, it could change the way we think about human life altogether!

Isn’t that exciting?

Well, that’s all the time I have for today. I’ll write some more tomorrow evening before bed when I know more about the parameters of this new study. Maybe I’ll even come up with a name for you in the meantime.

Til then, with love.




like the black hole-bound galactic tempest sweeping across eons of empty space receding through time, atavism that I am. I am that. I am not not that, that that I am; not that I am not-not. I am-am. I am seven billion billion billion empty atoms bleeding through a fucking pinhole, the percolate ocean seeping, current-swept cephalopod suppurating pus, darkness disembogued like ejaculate in water, wash of wavering welkin dust in light in color in sound in incalculable infinity.  I am everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Eve, writhing.


I am time mE i aM iT


time tessellates threescore, temporal tides touching, a tryst I witness, wreathed in sound. What will betide? Tumbling untethered, thoughts tattered, torn tittle.

F o l
, g n i


Fermenting fractal shifting shift shit, oh shit oh god oh Jesus fuck the gobbing geometric gyre groping, giants gangbang glad for gore a game going gonzo go GO nonono


time is gone I am gone i.e. go ego-free we go, no know we nowhere why? Know now. Without form, impassive.

Discontinuity.       Disc






of plumbless



that this

is all




l              lolling






in lambent, lonely emptiness. Waves of nothing.


n     o      t      h      i      n      g




Not nothing. A river. Waves. Tide. Sound. All around me.




Systematic entropy. Echoes. Everything echoes. Everything. Echoes. Everything. Echoes. Everything echoesechoesechoeseverythingeverythingechoeseverythingechoeseverythingechoeseverythingechoeseverythingechoeseverythingechoeseverything

I hear everythingiheareverythingeyeyearaverythinkihurrynothinghereivory

Again and again and again, electronic ether innerving my exhausted eardrums, exciting exaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ohhhhhhhhhfffuuuuuuuuuuuck

roiling rhythmic rape that HURTS harmonic hatefuck hollowing have I heard my last?

Regressing. Redshift. Regurgitating radial roundelays, ruminant RAPE resonances descend bite ANH ANH ANH gnawing feeding on every last molecular iota convalescing, disassemble, reassemble, deteriorate, design, rebuild, decay, dissolve. Dee’s table eyes. Distally destructed.


I am nothing, deconstructed by Sound itself. Almighty the rhythm, the shaking


F                                                 C

 U                                                   K




The floor opens. Darkness shines, swallows the last pinhead of light gravitationally. Kaleidoscoping buttresses of noise evict my consciousness the way an airstrike evicts a family from a thatched hut. I flee from myself, rapacious for freedom from sound good FUCK




My head






Returns to form. Goes again. STOP.

Return. Go.


Spinning. My body takes the shape of the sound, a wriggling, flaccid thing. Floating, libidinous volleys of noise, exeunt! The universe escorts me politely off the stage of existence, dizzy, dysphemic. I do not belong. “I” is a dirty word.






I don’t even NEED to breathe

















































































holyfuck I see it. Death is just a misunderstanding with Time. I understand.

Even better.



I’m standing on it. A bridge. The bridge, as it were. As it is.

I’m standing on a bridge is a bridge existing below me?

I am only eight years old. Eight eighty eight hundred yearsssssssss

White mist rain smothering my neonate skin, rubbing raw. Exposed, I press forward. Into the fog. White on white clouds, corded clamshell ruffle clouds, warm as vaporized sweat against my neck and                did I just hear




No. Couldn’t be.




I heard I know I heard


the universe






cannot be






a quiet








must be







the birth of a universe must be sound incarnate.





Is that what I heard?
 The sound of Existence.
Capital “E.” The voice of


















issssssss s s  s  t      i     l     l



sinking. Sinking,


I let itsss











The tunnel-bridge shifts, is shifting, is moving like a creature through water swaying, almost—more like—breathing. Fuck that is sickening. What is this thing? Where is it taking me?

My heart is out of rhythm. I feel like throwing up. Feel my heart every third beat, throwing itself against the wall behind my sternum.

My stomach turns. Throw up. I want to. Just thinking about it makes me gag. Ugh.







fucking everywhere. Covered. Shirt, legs, arms, finger sticky wet warm marshmallow goo warm and stringy something solihhhhhh





ohhh god ohhhhhhhhhhhhh

hot hot hot gag fuck. It’s already cooling against my clothes. Stale. That acid smell. Cold. That was fast. What happened? When did I eat last?

Glue between my fingers. Spread them out. Acid glue, little specks of brown phlegm, snot and food drying on my palm. Feel it dangling from my nose. Wet on my leg. God, that mephitic fucking smell I’m standing in


Something changed.


The chair.

The chamber.


I was



      a b r i d g e

I was standing on                             above a river.




not a bridge
not a river


I’m surrounded by them—both of them—on it and under it and over it. All at once. Above me is an ocean of white. To my side, both sides. Front and back. Above and below. White fog whorls and reaches with skeletal tendrils like the rangy fingers of some osseous phantom, stretching at me, begging come closerrrrr then dissipating. But there’s something else. It’s hard to say.

An emptiness at my periphery. Darkness skirting the edges of my vision. Like—

if I look over


but there is just more ashy snowy static, a river, for lack of a better word. The bridge-tunnel swims around to receive my steps whichever way I turn. I can’t look at this whole shifting mess. It’s making me  hrrnnnnnn fuck


What is this?


The mist dances and flurries, not like water. Niveous. Like snow. Static blazing, like tuning to a dead frequency. The bridge moves through it; a tunnel of it—static? Or is it ash?—and I am surrounded by the tunnel-bridge, so I guess this is my ride for the foreseeable. I’m in a whale made of pure noise.


Assess. Stay calm. Get your bearings.

See: Static. Tunnel. See §: (aforementioned) Whale, Noise, Swallow.

Taste: My own gag.

Smell: Same. Also, something more rancid, perhaps. If I am being eaten, and it stands to reason that indeed I am, then surely whatever this thing had before me will be digested in here.


Scream as loud as I


I am deaf.

I. Am. DEAF. Either this place is silent like the chamber or I am deaf. From the noise of creation, most likely. Exiting, transitioning, existing. That horrible adenoidal screeching. The closest thing I can call it. I remember

Crawl. Get away. Crawl stay on your belly stay low stayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy fuck

shaking. Earthquake. The earth broke apart, swallowed me up. Resolve to lay supine covering my ears on a bed of not-snow, not-ash, devoid of being, consumed by sound?

A flashback: popping. Something—inside. A sickening crunch. Convolved spiriferously, bones crunching under the weight of the wave. To the point that at one notable moment (I cannot actually believe I remember it? Although I feel like I do. Am I fabricating this now? Is my mind compensating for lost time?) I lost control and gave in and

I existed as a wave. It took me and I became a literal, real, wave. I became sound.
Rolling upon myself.  ouroboros

Then: pain. Mordant, awful agony. Surfeit and rote. Unspectacular. Just. Fucking.


As I’ve never before experienced it.


Realization: It’s a war, and I’ve been caught in the middle. No-man’s land. This is it. Bombs on either side, a vehement hailstorm of decibels, playing for keeps (this time).

Oh, yes. The war of AM; of Being. Contrasting ideologies between the sides. “IS” and “IS NOT.” They both want the other to be false. Subatomic ionization for control of what?

My soul?

What the fuck do I matter, anyway?

I want to scream it. Scream into the belly of this beast. But I cannot make a sound over the forever G R I N D I N G against forever endless erosionless friction. A pulse. Seething, deafening. Breaking me down. I’ll be digested soon enough.

Consciousness is a pulse, one of many, lost in the main. The open ocean.

A wave.










jīvá. Living.


That is, generically speaking: a wave is a living thing. i.e. “Signs (sines) of life.” It all makes senseI know what the cicadas were saying.

My chest feels odd. Something off in my lung. Maybe the lung itself is off track. A wet sensation; the way fog is wet. Pressure. Soreness in my ribs. I feel…

P  u  l  l  e  d .

My skin shakes against the bone, rubber limbs quivering like tuning forks rapped against the stone jaw of God and stuffed inside a wet meatsack.

Break my neck to look at my watch. Correction: watches. I’m wearing three.

Neon green seaweed lines dance across the void, vibrating softly, sultry as sirens calling from the darkness beyond the bridge.


Thomas Roan | DRIP - A psychedelic mixed-media narrative experience that goes beyond the page to transport the reader beyond death.


I think I’m gonna be sick again.


Grasp the edge and lean.


L E A N.


Déjà vu.

Am I leaning out or in or

Close my eyes. Fuck don’t let go





what—was I?             And now?

What is this place?

Remember. I need to—

Listen. I can’t hear but I can feel it. The flow. Soft lacustrine roar, dim but powerful. Don’t let go. Hold tighter. It can have you if it wants you. You (ME, I) have to fight. Remember: “I.” Remember.

Me. Time.

The essence of nature is flow.

Impossibility is the birth-place of life, of existence, of I. It is Mother. It is the source. Energy and null. Diffraction and atrophy. I see the shape of all things


Thomas Roan | DRIP - a psychedelic mixed media web serial experiment that goes beyond the page to transport you beyond death. Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Trippy, Hallucinatory, Dark, Surreal, Surrealistic, Bizarre, Bizarro, Trailer, Teaser, BIG Creative Designs, David David Katzman, A Greater Monster, The Wasp Factory, Smart, Intelligent, Brilliant, Genius, Complex, Intricate, Puzzle, Theory, Conspiracy, Tiered, Narrative, Experience, Immersive, Innovative, Interactive, Fiction, Web Serial

is endless




How did I get here? Open my eyes, watch the rolling spinning whale screaming through eternal




A     R     E                           Y       O       U                       T   I   M   E


nothing—what?                                                           what’s that?


Yes. I am Time, I tell the far-off voice. Of course. I believe we



No. That’s not what it said.
It—they—said. A voice. Said.

Turn. No, wait. Don’t. Just hold on. Static plays nasty tricks. Don’t look. It will go away. Whatever it is. Just stare into the fog. But with your eyes closed. There, that’s better. Breathe




and relax. Goddamnit.

The voice, louder now. Reaching. Loud enough for me to feel the vibrations when they speak. A noise just beyond my ken. Batted back by sucking, sibilant static. The river isn’t even loud anymore. I just feel it more than I hear it. My jaws ache. I’m grinding my teeth. My skull is vibrating with the continuous roar of the static, it’s doing something to meeee


The bridge undulates, sharing soft vibrations with my feet. I need to move. If I don’t move now, I’ll never get my sea legs.

Gentle, easy does it. There, that’s it.

My toes kindly transport the static waves up, beyond the shins, through the knees, thighs, abdomen. It ends in my jaw. Just hold tight. You’re hearing things. You need to get a grip before






I can’t make it out. I look around. Nothing.





Spin on my heels. The river groans in my chest. Turning slowly, trying not to vomit again.

It sounded like it came from




t   h   e   r   e

the fuck?






W  H  O  I  S