The City (pt. 1)

The way before me is steeped in shadow and absurdity. The road continuously shifts, either widening or constricting, as merging paths feed into what is evidently the main route into the city. Capillary sidewalks and makeshift bridges funnel all manner of noise and agonistic miscreants toward me. The deeper I wander into the city, the more I am victim to the flow of newcomers shuffling in the direction of the assumed terminus: a squirming mountain of laughing, screaming corpses in the distance.



w  h  i  s  s  s  s  s  

s   s   s

is not
a city

s   s   s

s  s  s  p  e  r  s


The ground is soft beneath my feet. I smell wet iron, salt, fresh mint, putrefaction, bile, ammonia, and sulfur. Every breath is acid on my languid tongue. This is a landscape woven of vibration; although I cannot hear the raucous banquet around me, I feel deep reverberations wash over my skin with every new step.

I can hardly surrender my senses to the orgy of despair: scarred nightmares wander alleys groping wildly at empty darkness, contorting and smiling with madness, or lust, or both. Skeletons vomit in the shadows of monoliths that reach up, up, up to the blistered sky. Atrocities breed new atrocities; together they piss, bleed, cum, curse, and howl at the feet of the stone gods around me. A new sin blossoms down every hallway. Every new sin is worse than the last.



A dolphin-shaped creature with four very large bloodred eyes wobbles past on legs thicker than my waist, shouldering me off the side of the path and nearly knocking the egg out of the satchel.


Watch it!


The creature unfurls two hidden arms from its backside and gestures crudely without a glance.



Oh, shit.

Did I say that out loud?




Holding my breath. Waiting to see if—




No. No, I couldn’t have. The creature warned





You will be Separated.










My throat is choked with dust and stench. My eyes dance between the maze of endlessly converging paths and the creatures that blunder unflinchingly about me.

A parade of riders squirms past, close enough to raise alarm. Their begrudging mounts are shaped like oversized dogs but are largely human in form; long folds of skin hang in loose sloughs around the jowls of each beast. Their heads droop, save for one or two of the braver-looking ones. The riders have had less than a trophy hunt, it would seem. Many of the poor beasts look as though they’re not sure if they’ll be fed or eaten come nightfall.

Stumbling wayside and to the rear of the party is a gang of half-caged slaves, chained at the ankles. Most of the creatures have a single arm or leg run through with spiked chains. A few of the more unfortunate ones strangle and spit blood through rusted cages around their throats.



What is this place?




to   the   surface   and  die





The words


a s







c h o r u s





a r o u n d






m e








r e s p o n d s


blank space for blog gaps





blank space for blog gaps



and all at once, every fiber of my being sees her





guardian 1

Spring Cleaning

Dear Diary:

It’s been a few weeks since I bought you and I haven’t even opened you once since that first day. I’m so ashamed. I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had a single moment to myself.

Where to begin…

Research is promising. We’re still in the very early stages, but I’m confident. More confident than I’ve ever felt about any of my academic work, actually. Considering I had a 4.0+ average my entire life and graduated valedictorian from every school I’ve attended, that’s really saying something.

Mason has been driving me to work. He is the Director of Security for the company’s Leiden office where we work. It’s very quaint, carpooling. I get to see more of him. Although, his whole reasoning behind driving was to free my brain up for thinking about this waveform theorem. It’s like I’m being pulled by two magnets. My career on one side, and my husband on the other.

But that’s not exactly right; in this case, my husband is actually standing on the other side. And I’m standing alone, fighting to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Why can’t I let go?

I need to get lost in this. And don’t think it hasn’t been going well sweet Diary. It’s been life-changing already. Still, some distant voice inside is suddenly urging me to savor every moment I have with Mason now, while I still can.

Something did occur to me today. If there is a way to generate a frequency that crosses an unknown spectrum—like the one our consciousness passes at the moment of death—we would have to isolate it. I have no idea how that’s going to work, but I’m chewing it little by little.

One more thing. I talked to Dr. Soliman about this today. If we can identify the frequency where sound interacts with another real dimension, we need it to be tethered. There’s nothing to gain from blasting vibrations into a void. It has to be testable; retrievable, somehow. That’s going to complicate things.

Mason and I have been doing some Spring cleaning today. I found a box full of old paintings I did during college. Then I did what I always do: spread them across the floor so I can see them all at once. No order to it, no method. Just pure, perfect chaos.

Mason hates it. It’s been a fun day.

I’ll try to write more often, Diary. Twice a month is just embarrassing. And you still need a name, I haven’t forgotten.

Til then, with love.





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.