An Excerpt from Memory Alchemycal

By: Sean Duffield

Their twinned hands entered the dark part of the cave. Thick with stone weathered under water jets over years of un-washed clay. They walked with backs straight, never fumbling over the crag there or the slippery chunk of wood in their paths. They walked with confidence through the darkest parts of a known beast, with smiles that would grow as the gloom stretched on into sunlight.

After an immeasurable amount of walking distance into the dolorous cladding of their personal fort and cave, a light began to peak. Its playful eyes wrapped upside down from above them, as if playing hide and seek.

The further the two entered, the friendlier the light became. Smoothing through the ceiling grooves and shuffling along the seams with joyful tailed wags. It puddled and stretched amongst the caveats of the cavern walls and soon the floor too, had it washing along. As the clandestine crawl continued, the luminescence began to grow alongside its disposition and approval of its owners coming home.

Soon the source was exposed. Olafur and Anabeila entered a surreptitious glade in the confines of their cave. Several feet wide it splayed its open source and turned the belly of the fort to bask in the light of cloud backed stars.

Flickers of lights at already adjusted lacidum were now expedited rays that drew iris’ to act responsively and pull their muscles radially to contract and close the open night sores from the gleaming light of day.

While its volume decreased, its density doubled and soon Olafur’s and Anabeila’s minds were alight with the splendour of a hidden gem amongst the Bodhi tree forest. A pool of aquamarine liquid sat inside a carved out section of cave. It came of level to their feet. Perfectly fed and dissolved by the opening above their heads. Glistening with specks of sunlight that hit mineral deposits of zinc and copper, reflecting back amongst each other the shimmer of the translucent conductivity of the surface water.

Insects and small fish zoomed about the laid back tension of the pond’s perfect veneer. Exposing languages of signatures that formed under nescient eyes. Olafur danced around the shallow bank at the side of the written encounter, it was daring to distract his eyes. Then he sat upon his rock, facing back towards Anabeila, still adjusting from the change inspired by her shocked radial eyes.

“So… ” Olafur leaned over the blue lucidity of the pool towards Anabeila. “Want to talk about today?”

Anabeila breathed in a volume of air followed by insects and invertebrate hair. She held it for a moment and looked over at her friend. Then exhaled into her mouth, puffing her cheeks out with the last bits of memories chagrin. Her eyes bulged before she rolled them over to the other side of the pond where her feet followed her, plodding along at indiscriminate pace and position. She sat down on another rock, looming under Olafur from a water body’s length away. Then she exhaled. Breathing out the confined emotions of another tumultuous day as a child in a society that preys on nothing, and demands everything, of their DNA.

“I was distracted,” she replied.

“By what?” asked Olafur.

“The insects in the conservatory. As usual.”

“You know you can make them in your forest.”

Anabeila shot rhetorical beams across the aquatic sheen.

“I’m just saying. You can bring the outside world in and love it all the same,” said Olafur

Anabeila had a knack for work in the dojo and a natural fighting figure to go along with her instinctual martial prowess. Morning classes usually comprised her throwing the other children upside down and twisting them inside out, with or without weapons on hand. But when they entered meditation and carved a trail into the confines of their quiet selves, she stumbled.

Notum referred to her as marble. Thick, strong. With providence at its center just waiting for strong hands to chisel it out. The other children called her a late bloomer. In other words. Dumb. Even with Anabeila’s lineage stretching into some of the original founders of the church of the Onus Consilium and her parents being great prospects themselves, she felt as though she was always behind. And the episodes in class were stark reminders of the truth that radiated her failures as a member of the church.

“I know Olafur. They’ve all tried to teach me several times to expose the roots or whatever. Clean the bark. I get it. I’m just not good at it.” Said Anabeila.

“You made an entire island so far.” You’re doing okay.”

“I have an entire ego to slay.”

“We all do. We sleep forever under its blankets. We just have to thin it out enough that the light falls in.

“Can we speak of something else?” asked Anabeila.

“What do you think will happen on choosing day?”

“It’s weeks away now, Olafur. Something else.”

“Well, do you think it’s true?” Said Olafur.

“What’s that?”

“The jaws of the behemoths?”

She sucked her teeth and rolled her head away. “I said something else!”

“Honestly though? Do you think the jaws will take us? Naturally. That it’s something we are supposed to just accept?”

“The proof is supposed to be the story of Muk’Til Dep. The planet that let their Bodhi trees grow like these for so long that the wasp came. And the jaws followed.”

“Yea. That’s the story. Do you believe it?”

“I don’t know.”

“I believe it. That the jaws will come one day. That our cycle will complete. It’s pretty. It makes me anxious, but it’s pretty.” Said Olafur.

“I don’t read that part much. I kept getting drawn back to The Body of the Worm.” Said Anabeila. Her eyes all stars and constellations.

Olafur turned his bewilderment to her again. “Which one is that?”

Afternoons like this would go forever. Each friend asking the same question. Each response falling under the sunsets of a lacquered sky. Whether she admitted it or not. Talking to Olafur was how Anabeila decompressed before they would start their trek back home. Through the woods. Away from the Bodhi trees that harboured their own destructions. A moment that Olafur called beautiful.

Was the Onus Consilium a church of death? Anabeila would always question that.

Artwork By: Shintaro Kago from Super Conductive Brains: Parataxix

An excerpt from Memory Alchemycal
By: Sean Duffield

Anabeila’s footsteps were heavy padded cotton as she slumped through the fabrics of New Maltazaer. Each step floating behind the next, each one soft under foot. Each without being deliberate, instead they were simple and habitual. She was simple and habitual. A child is. 

The light that waded through the thick atmospheric tempering agent was vastly absorbed by the city buildings and little was reflected down to the street, through the algae trees and into Anabeila’s eyes. But still she squinted as she walked, placing distracted hands over twitching brows. 

She tried not to pay too much attention to Olafur as they walked, but his barrage of questions and half assumed answers were difficult to ignore. They weren’t meant to harass or belittle, the only reason she stayed friends with him was because she knew better. She knew that Olafur’s consistent conversation was simple anxiety and today’s… complications in the temple class, had made him very anxious. 

They were friends. Olafur not shutting up was just him expressing his compassion and concern. 

“Everyone is talking about it. Like, no one is not talking about it.” Said Olafur.

“I’m aware.” Spoke Anabeila.

“They’re always talking about you. I think they’re jealous.”

“Jealous of what, my lack of control?”

“Probably. Although they might tease you a bit, kids think that sort of thing is cool. You know, against the grain.”

Aren’t the both of us ‘kids?’ she thought.

“I certainly don’t find the whole process… cool, Olafur. It’s pretty infuriating… And difficult… an—” Anabeila raised her finger to identify the most crucial of points when her vocal constitutor wavered, sending static to leak from her mouth, no words came out, just antenna radiation.

Anabeila flicked at the corresponding ‘minor-chip’ in her throat where normal vocal cords would go. It buzzed but would not re-engage.

Great! She thought. Another thing to make me cool. 

Olafur continued on as if nothing new was happening, as nothing new was happening. This was standard. Every step is uphill, thought Anabeila. She flicked the constituter again and again, a couple more times and it finally kicked back in.

“Olafur!” Her sudden outburst cut the chattering friend off, dismissing in entirety his rant concerning TENGEE radiation.

His expression was slack-jawed and yokalling. He looked to Anabeila. “You have a spiser-bug in your hair.” She yelled.

“What?!” Shivers shimmied up Olafur’s body and sent hair on ends. His cheeks grew flushed, throat hot, chest filled with air. After a moment on tip toes and held breath that had Anabeila leaning into weaponized mouths, Olafur screamed with unbridled passion. 

He jumped, threw the bag from his shoulder and started bouncing while tearing at his dark hair with frantic fingers. Thoughtless behaviours spelled out stuttered letters of panic in the coordinated attack of his head. A sizable madness in the street.

In his distraction, Anabeila began to run. And laugh. As Olafur’s characterized outburst slipped away behind her.

Before he had caught on to the backstabbing trickery, Anabeila had already made it halfway down the street. 

Her deceit was an unwelcome regularity in their friendship and it had Olafur more blushed than the imaginary spiser-bug before. “Hey! Not fair Anabeila! You’re cheating!” Olafur screamed as he recovered the bag that had been thrown down, stumbling over his own feet to gain ground.

They ran as children do through New Maltazaer’s streets. Without care. With little concern for the future and only holding what they could carry. Leaving any weight that grasped at them far behind. 

The pair ran past the Neon Cup, and its patrons smoking silver tips. They passed the terraced views of Bodhi tree forests that stretched through acres of unclaimed nature. Beyond the medium people who never cared to study the faith. Away from the church they ran. 

She ran.

Anabeila ran as far from the church as possible. She placed eons of time between its requirements of her young soul and fragile ego, dropping hints of its tastes in the timeline that streamed behind her. 

Soon, she would be vanilla as she ran and those specks of flavour would pepper someone else’s plans. 

This is where Anabeila felt most herself. In the moment of now. Where she would run past the metaphorical guards and soldiers and drive directly into the future from the present, leaving the slips of the past behind. The only constants that followed her here were the white robes that trailed a childish sunshine, its escapade splashing neighboring windows with gentle bohemia as she ran. 

And the sound of her footsteps bouncing along the thin metals of walkways and polished smiles of passersby.

… and Olafur, of course, yelping like a mad frog in the background of her almost perfect surrealism. 

“Ana! Wait up. At least arrive with me. The kiss is yours! You know it!” He yelled through laboured breaths that clawed angry at his throat. 

But she knew better. That kiss was only hers should she arrive before him at the place amongst the forest, behind the withered sign. 

They rolled back round the city scape and found a thin pathway marked with brittle stones and flattened out soils. It weaved its way amongst the tall sun gathering buildings at each side, behind. But in front, it tethered itself to the forest network. 

Like a fairy leading the way. Anabeilas pace picked up as she dove left onto the scattered trail, maybe one hundred feet long. Her eyes were wide and chest was hard as she bent forward, entering the natural world to which she truly belonged with fervour. 

Olafur’s slipped footsteps scraping the ground as he teetered sideways rounding the corner could be heard in Anabeila’s peripheral ear as she entered the woods. Now at the end of the trail, she knew she had all the time in the world.

She followed the trail through the forest, covered with auburn hands grasping emerald umbrellas above her head. Anabeila puffed along its winding surface lined with roots and cuts and rocks covered in bat fur moss. She huffed through its hugged curvatures that swindled the skirts of great Bodhi trees into lifting their ankles and making room for beings of lesser ages and shorter thoughts. 

She trudged on. The physical conditioning of the martial arts they were forced to learn daily kept her muscles lean and her heart beat strong. She was a machine as she ran the forest green. Olafur disappeared further behind her, his physical training lagging way behind her own. 

At the critical juncture where the trail line split in twain, where the path could not choose its way and attempted to find the shortcuts both left and right ways, she continued straight into the woods, jumping first a couple meters over the leafy ground plants to ensure the path that they had made stayed hid amongst the brush. She landed and continued on. Through shadows and muck, under logs, over bugs and guts, to where, in the centre of her path it stood. It’s hard fused wooden signage wearing in the weather of its woods. 

A pole, or post and simple rectangular sign stood amongst the forest in her view. It was withered, it’s letters hardly understood. Its uses long abandoned. A city name, maybe. Camorre. It didn’t matter. It was simply the marker to their hidden fort.

Anabeila slowed and stopped beside the sign. The entrance to their fort just to the right. An empty cave with nothing inside.

They had checked its inner reaches the first time they arrived and found no animals were nesting in it, so the children did themselves. Now this was their home away from home. 

Anabeila caught her breath at its entrance and waited for Olafur. His footsteps finally tumbling down the trail as her breath smoothed into laminar flow. She stood up as he entered the final clearing.

“Last again Olafur.” She sneered.

“As usual, you cheated to win.” Olafur replied.

“I don’t think there are any ground rules. Even if it induces sore losers.”

“Not sore. Just don’t know when I’ll have my own first kiss at this rate.” 

It was a childish thing and Anabeila knew it. Of course she would let poor Olafur have his first kisses with whoever he desired. She would never keep them from him for herself, but it was fun to tease him. To remind him that even though they were only friends and always partners, he still belonged to her in a special way. Somewhere in each other’s hearts. Besides, she didn’t want the thousand kisses he now owed at this point, anyway. When it came up, she would claim she was too young to remember how many there were anyhow.

“You’ll never get it for yourself, it seems.” Anabeila looked away sly while she spoke it. “Come. I want to sit and wash away the stink of church.”

An excerpt from Memory Alchemycal

By: Sean Duffield


“Anabeila” She heard it ring in her ears. It wasn’t angry or even loud, but Notum Raysolas voice had a coercive effect. Anabeila could sense the set pegs of her mechanical music box heart being adjusted and arranged so that her cadence would again match the other children’s in the class. Her meditations would find accord with the other children’s. Her eyes would close and the conservatory’s natural fabrics, flush with microbes basking in the greenhouse sunlight would melt away into the fascinations of the spirit realm. 

“Anabeila…” the voice was in her ear. It tumbled waves of green grass liturgy around the soft cartilage of her herbaceous scapha, passing the juvenile concha and entering her ear canal still wet with birth; they would say, even if several years ago. 

The lush voice of a natural Notum scrubbed the inner workings of her mind and washed the leaves green. She removed fig seeds from the crooks of her branches. Stripped the knots from the bark, tilled the soil round’ hungry roots and left a canopy of light above the naked sensations of her ego’s tree.

“Anabeila.” The forest of synchronicity was dusted in summer daylight dimensions that refracted equally through the missing corners of every tree tops green spectrum. “Anabeila.” 

“Yes Notum Raysolas.”

She was tall and lean in front of Anabeila now. Notum’s pupils were constellations that read for signs. Her iris, the planets of Cratum and all its intelligent design. Her face, the universe in singular sum. Her hand reaching out, touched Anabeila’s heart, attempting to quell the distractions she so often, naturally, succumbed.

“Anabeila you must focus with the class.”

“I am focused, Notum.”

“You should be working in your forest. Laying ash from memory and sowing the seeds of your apple trees.”

“Yes, Notum Raysolas.”

“I know the conservatory insects are distracting to you but… 

The tell tale legs of a meelywag began kneading the soft innards of Anabeila’s clavicle skin. She opened her eyes and looked over. The small creature’s great blue pupils shored up and made safe the deep well of its ocular beauty. Anabeila threatened to lower herself to the bottom and collect the nectar from the meelywag’s well. It almost smiled, then cocked its quadruple mandibles, turned a sectionalised body of metallic feathers and flushed its wings out right. Jumped from the cliff-side of Anabeilas focus and floated into the conservatory’s vast open skies, heading for the windows that it truly could not be imprisoned by.

Anabeila again found herself sunk into the art that was the conservatory’s delightful reprise. A place not unlike the one she crafted in her mind. In place of deciduous trees however, were what was referred to as ‘chitin trees’. Tall woody structures with Amber tinted transparent leaves that stretched out like man-made wings on a single network of black nutrient thickening lung bronchioles. They filtered light through to the fauna beneath them, but stole all the blue from the spectrum and left the forest floor in a dark orange sheen. 

“Anabeila!”

Again focus was stolen and replaced with placated desire.

“Yes, Notum. Sorry.”

“Anabeila, you have much work to do here. An enlightened cannot just be strong of body and soul. She must be strong of mind.” 

“I work on my forest Notum. All the time.”

Skepticism washed the painted canvas of stars from Notum Raysolas’ face. A master’s emotions were usually only shown here. For the sake of communicating without language. To be what they meant and Notum always meant what she was.

“Anabeila.” She said with remorse pooling in pores and concern washing the skin of lions away. 

Notum placed her hands on Anabeila’s shoulders. Twisted her sternum, gentle suggestions of heart, and positioned her to look in the opposing direction. Away from Notum. Peering into the true shadow of Anabeila’s mind. 

Away from the tree under which they stood, passed the dividing lines of desire and intention. The river laid. Fast and grey. Full of serpents and yellow eyes and jaded riddles or devious games. It struck a path of violence between the island on which Anabeila and the Notum were standing and the true face of the forest of ash in which Anabeila should have been working was layered in the banks beyond its other side. 

The truth of her forest was obvious. Passed the rage of the river was a towering horizon of red waves and putrid fruits, acorns and den mother cries. It was a wooded anomaly of oak trees tied under strangler fig piano lines, whose great flowers stretched tendril roots down through bark and into sulphur rich earth full of rabbit pelts and skinned skink spines. They pulled nutrient from every crevice and fed every line until swollen with molestation crimes. The vitamins and carbon rose beyond the suffocating tree limbs, powering the huge soot laden fig tree flowers that hung in the sky, imperious ravens, eyes like owls. Mice in the field. Anabeila and the Notum prey to the rotating stigmas of thousands of predatorial blossom sties.

“This is what we must conquer, Anabeila. Not small islands of pleasure, but huge territories of fear.”

Anabeila looked at herself. Somewhere inside the second self, right now. She could feel the island beneath them quiver. It was shaking. Fear was all powerful. It was encompassing.

“Child, I am here. Do not be afraid.”

But it began as Anabeila looked into the maw of a fig flower where wasp stings putrefy. She felt them without looking, and she had looked on them with true eyes.

The flowers shook. Their scried stems pulsed. Their ovaries opened, anthers pulled apart. The angular focus of petals stretched back to the forest and the forward facing leaned directly into Anabeila’s sights. The receptacle appeared, a mouth in its bloom. A set of sawed teeth, mucous lined and stained with rotting rabbit feet, smiled. They all smiled. They all turned their smiles to the two on the island on the other side of a river shrinking. Violent, but shrinking. The forest getting closer. The wind picking up powerful pace.

“Anabeila! You must overpower it. Stand above it. It is YOU. Do not let it empower that which you’ve hidden, it must be brought to light! Not embiggened!”

It made nonsense of her senses. Anabeila began to slip further. Her eyes spiraling into the shoreline of demons. Her heart disappearing. The monster within freeing itself and using her thin scarred arms as levers. 

The sky turned a crude dark oil spill dripping hydrocarbons and tannins from the roof of an acidic lake. Upside down into the ephemeral timescape of the halfway empyrean nested with bodies of Abbadon above the forest of smiling snakes. The sour rain from the locust filled sky drenched the ground with sulphur and fed the soil with wine.

“Anabeila!” Her voice was growing softer. Leaving her ears. “Ana! Truth is the ego of the beast… Conquer it a—” her voice disappeared into the din of demons.

The storm turned its soil to a churning of tentacles like cardboard waves righting stage left, held in the hands of imps and spectres. The ground splashed amongst itself, spears and sceptres. Tarot card pulp turned the soil fuel line rider and all the tendril roots grew seven times larger. 

The flowers rose even higher, the trees beneath them shrinking into old towers overpowered by time and vines and raising volume waters. The bloom smiles grew wider, teeth larger, throats emptier, stronger, muscles inducing sky semen down harder. Great casts of shadows, sails billowing with dark jolly roger. Monster minds, and blowing bombs. 

“Anabeila!” Her voice was quiet and it was scared. It was very far away… evanescent.

The forest continued and grew into a giant, its legs rising from the backs of turtles lodged in hands of logs of reptile riots. The beast rose from the deep, mouth opened, behemoth ready to reap. Its hands now pointed towards the stars, it grasps the great WYRM! The cycle of God! And it pulls! It pulls God’s mouth down onto —

Shock. All white.

Notum’s hands were a description of pale and hot. She had clapped them together once and entirety disappeared from thought. The forest shrank and dissolved. The island washed out beneath her, and Anabeila was drowning for a moment. Coughed of raging waters and Notums palms.

She opened her eyes, still coughing. In the conservatory. The entire classroom of silent unwatching children were all focused on the back, where Notum Raysolas stood, holding Anabeila in her arms. She turned them both away from innocent but curious eyes and placed her chin into Anabeila’s shoulder, joining physical self to physical mind. “Don’t fret child.” Spoke Notum while tears welled in their eyes. “Egos are the beast of the mind. Terrors to be tamed and brought in line. We will conquer them. All in good time.”