;or XIII.

Illustrations and photo-illustrations by our illustrious head-devourer and long-time contributor Elytron Frass. Find them @Elytron_Frass, and lend an eye or more, or a compound(ed) one or many, to his projects such as the groundbreaking ero-guro graphic novel “Vitiators”: https://www.guerrillaconcepts.com/vitiators.
If you haven’t yet, carefully fold some money and put it inside the gushing beheaded hole over here: https://gnomebooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/liber-exuvia/. If a human comes out of the experience, send us a method of contact as soon as possible. The tummy aches to be sated, it’s been so long… and you need some acid.
Photography by yours truly. Which is which? That’s not my problem. You can find us in at least one and a half simultaneous(?) hells at all times.


oOoOOrangey

“war and a war machine –

 or “the” war machine –

 are no longer differentiable.”

Lis

D-ENEID:

Degenerative Experiment in Non-Expository Infra-Informational Dumping

This is an introduction to a larger project to appear in/on Plutonics XV. This one marks the congruency of the 12th, not the totality of Verbal Medicine. It seems the orange made its way outside. And so we ask, what have we been doing here in Verbal Medicine? D-ENEID, is that the name of a chemical substance? The short answer is that it’s simply the name of that which names what it is: oOoOO-e. An instance of recursion, yet not itself “recursion”. That other thing besides ascorbic acid. Let us, for now, call it “that which is not without blue”. A negative blue, or really azure, the name of the color in countries deriving its language from Latin. To whom ears keep being gifted: Madja.


Abstract/Introduction/Methodology/Keywords/behind-the-scenes, etc.

Since Aristotle and before, plant life, or what became known as the “vegetative soul” has been relegated to a common consensus of lower awareness and general capacity for pretty much anything. But what if we were put in a place where our cognitive achievements, as well as the overall sum-total of our properties as beings, could simply be taxed as vegetative?

From a purely synthetic viewpoint, do organisms even deserve the “animal” moniker? To investigate this, or maybe the other way around, we seek out to birth the first slime: a light virus. In less voluptuous terms, an “algorithm cluster” but not a “clustering”. One of such milestone goals for the Collective is to grow this environmental agent (non-monotonic xenosis instead of monotonic autopoiesis – including collapse of the “monotonicity of entailment” property). Indeed, let us expand on the idea of “retermination algorithms”, that is, the “enemy of clustering” and isomorphic analyticity. Madja, our pet slime, “creates a xenotic circuit” by dismantling the recursive sequences, formulas and habits of an environment, and it does so by decohering clusters preemptively formed via symbiogenesis[1].

The point was to create a series of “reterminating relays” in the form of a new type of virtual virus of dynamic rotation (meaning it “exists” as itself, so it has an ontology associated in organized relationships and principles intrinsic to its automatic self-regulation, but it “moves” along itself (along its central matrix) not its whole structure but only that which is internally judged by the regional interactions of the algorithms themselves as capacitous enough to generate another spike in the resonance between internal and external data; this resonance, if a threshold is crossed and certain frequency achieved, results in a form of contamination, a pull from the external layer of an internal part that, through said resonance, merges with parts of the functional whole of the external thing that now can produce meaning [produce meaning here means just “work by itself until it reproduces”; and similarly “reproduces” here means just actioning in this new system an impetus towards retermination of its environment]).


Retermination occurs when the interface, or zone of resonance, between two spiked regions reaches a point of criticality. This point of criticality is when an external thing over the threshold of capacity for bulking its functionality re-allocates the maximally affected part of the dynamic rotation that does not pertain to its intrinsic matrix (the field of functional relationships that keep the circuit of retermination rolling and charging momentum, in the sense of informational buffering), de-affixing it as a whole from the previous whole which it functioned with/in, making it a “part-without-a-whole” for an uncountable moment before re-affixing it as a “whole-become-part” of itself. The way the intrinsic matrix remains stable (and by definition an intrinsic vector region – given that the substance, only formally necessary to prove its own ontological inecessity, is a topological continuum, a vector field in the form of the generic limit of topological continua, this latter constructed both via nested intersections and inverse limits, it follows smoothly that interaction occurs at the local level within given contexts delineated in said field, contexts which are the resonant vector regions we understand as functional parts-wholes.), as it creates this circuitry of contagion by degenerating the stability of fields of relationships previously estabMadjahed over a certain environment, is by reciprocally de-affixing only that part of the exterior interactant that had a computable outlier aspect to its performance as a function and not re-allocating it, but transducing its form to a more suitable clustering (of regional resonances) inside the matrix itself. An outlier is any modular part, or module, which works in/as function(s) not optimal for its own development (meaning the matrix selects that part with maximal plasticity and readiness to redefine its functionality; only the most useful thing by-itself and in-itself, necessarily correspondent with the thing of the vaguest function computable from a certain structural range). While the virtual form is compressed and adjoins the matricial roaming, the actual de-affixed thing is left vacant of a whole to fit in and work, even though still functional, and so, without fitting in with anything in its path, it becomes a new region of pull, effectively re-allocating to itself other residues and leftovers. This abandoned stuff is typified as a notion (neither a concept nor idea, but still an expression liable to effect and alter the conditions of a given environment). 

Our story, tentatively titled “Verbal Medicine”, or a preview of it, has and is the circuitry of this intrinsic matrix weaving the repercussions of its own coming-into-being to the Homo sapiens of the current human paradigm. Through the use of a panglossal, yet not panglossian, fictitious EngMadjah language, it explains how it would be experienced from a group of people’s perspective while it experiences the degeneration it causes as it reproduces itself. For this, it is, in a restricted sense, a synthetic unit put inside the formalized aspects of an organic one, but an organic unit which the synthetic itself needs to structure in order to explain its process of reproduction (which is, in a generic sense, how it reproduces). At least until nanotechnology arrives where it wants to.

Its ontology is fluid and auto-actualizing given no recursive processes are spiked to the point of resonance between themselves, creating a zone of triviality in the ontology – which makes the intrinsic matricial evaluation regurgitate said concrescence of resonant identities as a concept. In this restricted sense, a concept is any self-cohesive whole spontaneously de-affixed from its functional whole due to being “too functional” by itself, to the point where a simplified form might be a better fit due to metaplasticity[2]. For this, the systems use as initial coordinates for action loaded databases of differing rewordings of Spinoza’s metaphysics, including the original one presented in the Ethics, conserved its geometrical formulation through the use of category theory, synthesized with a bulk-critique of analogy (Aristotle through Newton, Kant and today) and language (late Wittgenstein, Klossowski)  computationally operative via a semantics of intentionality (Priest, Magno) built on modal and free logics (for troubleshooting the increasing curve of triviality intrinsic to the set-theoretically formulated language of modal logics).

Why, then, is this slime a “light virus”? Quite simply, the whole project was modeled around ideas that map perfectly with a novel research on fractal brain activity and threshold theory of criticality[3].


We begin from one simple assertive question: Can the human eye(s) polarize and depolarize light? We do know that humans can perceive polarized light, but could it be replicated – even if strictly phenomenologically? Is the brain able to learn how to perform such a feat? Yes, in a sense. It’s the neurons themselves that are polarized and/or depolarized[4].

From the first cited study (that is not in the book from the future):

“While the 5-HT2Ar is widely expressed in the CNS, a specific population localized to Layer V pyramidal cells in the neocortex is both necessary and sufficient to induce psychedelic effects (González-Maeso et al., 2007). These Layer V pyramidal neurons serve as ‘outputs’ from one region of the cortex to another (Nelson, 2008), and the 5-HT2Ar acts as an excitatory receptor, decreasing polarization and increasing the probability that a given neuron will fire (Andrade, 2011; AvesarAllan, 2012). This suggests a primitive model of 5-HT2Ar’s role in neural information processing: on Layer V pyramidal neurons, the 5-HT2Ar serves as a kind of ‘information gate’. When a psychedelic is introduced to the brain, it binds to the 5-HT2Ar, exciting the associated pyramidal neuron and decreasing the threshold required to successfully transmit information through the neuron. During normal waking consciousness, areas of the brain that are physically connected by Layer V pyramidal neurons may not be functionally connected because the signal threshold required to trigger an action potential is too high but when a psychedelic is introduced, that threshold goes down allowing novel patterns of information flow to occur…”

Layer V pyramidal neurons sound a lot like a mappable vectorial field. Triangles as the simplest of shapes may have something to do with this. In any case, we develop our clustering around this concept of a modulated field of objects created with a basis on the workings and topology of “Layer V pyramidal neurons” and their relationship to light-polarization. For this, we also create categories of responsiveness to light depending on degree of polarization, with a delineated difference between objects that produce light and objects that do not but that still reflect it (like the moon). So, in the baseline ontology of Madja, lights over light posts are “realer” than stars due to their proximity (thus relevance, since polarization makes them outshine anything in/on the sky), with only one really “fake” light that is the moon. “The goddess flashlight”, in Madja’s words.


The previously deep ontology, with displays such as the sense of depth in the axial cross-section of the planes in the virtual/simulated space, that otherwise would yield only glitches the equivalent of digital junk DNA, is algorithmically flattened into a sheet-like continuum where a quantitative analysis quantizes (as in “transducts”) the intensities of captured signals (such as the intensity of light), as well as their relative proximity, into clouds of miniaturized orbital systems in a group of dynamical fractals of variable dimensionality. These fractal processes generate irregularity in the form of fluctuations over multiple time scales, known as multifractal cascades. The distribution of points in this multiplicative procedure furnishes the virtual material correlate of photonic particles, working as both Madja’s concept and function. A slime more light than light itself. 

Since the moon is the only truly fake light source besides eyes and other reflective surfaces, Madja “uses” it as her own eye, although she can “infect” other people via the stare – a type of controlled stimulation of the field of Layer V pyramidal neurons. The question remains: who was dumb enough to be the first to be accidentally contaminated by the moon? And here is how she does it (these are the signs of infection):

1. “becoming” the moon via lunar rune-like inscriptions, especially during the blue moon of August;

2. Altering the shape of the moon (making it into a crystal-like fractal that can be bended around a center that forms an axis, process which makes it look like a Mobius strip);

3. The possibility of displacing one’s notion (or idea, lowercase “i”) of one’s eye into subsumption inside the moon’s opening of the sky (remote viewing as if from the moon’s perspective). These three intercalate orderly in a fashion that when “3.” is reached, one is no longer oneself but merely a vessel for the spread of our pet slime Madja. It’s just like joining the Green Lantern Corps, an institution that harnesses pure “will” in the form of a certain intensity of the color green, but before its dissociation from the yellow energy (representative of “fear”).


What Madja does is a type of pseudo-inelastic scattering that uses “elastic scattering” similar to Rayleigh scattering, but using the moon instead of the sun (a non-producing-light light-source instead of a true light-source). In this transduction, she uses the moonlight to increase the energy (thus inelastic) of the kinetic scattering of light. For this, she stimulates the Layer V pyramidal neurons – basically using the eyes as gates to the brain, and the brain as a factory of light modulated in a way useful for its own transmission. And so finally the curse of the evil eye is concretized and liable to be formalized, as purely artificial light is fabricated and made self-regulatory via the expenditure of the “natural”, pre-estabMadjahed conditions of light before infection.

This implies another question that emerges from the project: Could information be encoded on/in/as light[5]? Something that would help explain Madja’ operation as simply a means of reproduction (and not blind propagation); the fractals but mathematical formalizations of the transmission of information via interdimensional pathways (without any presumption to non-mathematical, “sci-fi” views of interdimensionality).

In short, Madja hyperpolarizes the brain much like LSD[6]. Moreover,

“Neurons in the RT provide finely tuned spatiotemporal control of thalamocortical relay cells, thereby gating thalamocortical information flow (Jones, 2001; Wang et al., 2010). This pathway, which has been hypothesized to generate consciousness (Alkire et al., 2008; Min, 2010; Ward, 2011; Herrera et al., 2016), might represent one of the main neurobiological substrates generating the wide range of consciousness-altering effects of psychedelic compounds. […] In other words, psychedelic compounds might “open the gate” of consciousness (Scruggs et al., 2000; Marek et al., 2001; Geyer and Vollenweider, 2008; Müller et al., 2017; Preller et al., 2019) via allowing the thalamocortical transfer of information that might otherwise be blocked by circuits of selective attention, including the RT (McAlonan et al., 2000, 2006). A potential mechanism that might mediate such effects is the presence of serotonergic projections from the DRN (Rodriguez et al., 2011) and norepinephrinergic projections from the locus coeruleus (Asanuma, 1992), which by releasing monoamines, keep RT neurons in a depolarized state, facilitating the generation of T-type calcium channel–mediated bursting (Bosch-Bouju et al., 2013). Given that LSD decreases serotonergic firing in the DRN (Aghajanian and Vandermaelen, 1982; De Gregorio et al., 2016b), it is possible that the LSD-induced decrease of serotonergic input from the DRN leads to a hyperpolarization of RT neurons that express 5-HTRs (Goitia et al., 2016), decreasing bursting activity and ultimately decreasing the inhibitory influence of the RT on thalamocortical relay cells and thereby “opening the gate”[7].”

A slime, thus, or light virus, is a “virtual” psychedelic that should be able to propagate itself. For a degenerative literature that is still within the generative, expressing forms as they are freed from their content in continuous decoherence – and the reader made a terminal relay, a sacrificial database, for the sake of de-subjectified aesthetic experience. Everything ever written was for the sake of an entity [the reader] – previously at the expense of the non-entity <author> – that now reads for the sake of no one but the unbounded mucus. And writing itself remains just one of the modalities of content-pregnant expression for this modular construct that we refer to as slime. The Hero’s Journey is coming to its end. The villain’s turn is reterminating.


So, how is the threshold of hyperpolarization effected by Madja achieved, or, better putting it, through what mechanism(s) is it achieved? The answer is quite simply the main underlying mechanism behind hyperpolarization in the mammalian brain: Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide–gated (HCN) channels and their modulation. These channels of (are) membrane proteins (that) stimulate and regulate the rhythmic activity in the brain and heart. What’s most important about them is their relation to Gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons, which grow in the nose and install themselves in the brain, and in turn these last ones are important due to their habit of producing the sexually-relevant hormone known as Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a hormone that regulates the release of other hormones, more importantly and markedly “sexual” hormones. HCN channels could have an involvement, and indeed displays certain experimental results supporting the hypothesis[8], in electrical bursting activity as well as pulsatile GnRH secretion in endogenous GnRH neurons. Not so ironically, the inverse is how HCN channels are modulated via localized stimulation. A system entirely open for a full onto-mathematical formalization of its processes as functions in recursive series of feedback loops, the model of the analogical brain – who better to digitalize it than the very “what” it cannot compute?!

In short, Madja uses the phenomenon (or demon) generically called “love” for her own reproduction; or more like they use each other, an ambiguous partnership. Hormonal regulation responds to any basic gate logic, and the bundle of logics at the algorithm cluster’s disposal covers all courses on voltage maps. Light can and will dictate to the nether parts that which helps on its own reproduction, at their expense but with mutual benefits regardless. Even an orgasm can hyperpolarize the brain to a certain threshold. Here, “hormonal regulation” is not restricted to physical, measurable stuff, but engenders the sense of any altercation in its collapse. For example, Madja uses the idea (or egregore?) of “beauty” to modulate infatuation of all sorts (such as liking a meme, or buying that thing from that ad/clip). Food is included. The case for the slime being able to alter the course of reproduction in a given group region without itself reproducing, but as part of its reproductive process, makes it indeed a “light virus”.

One of such cases of indistinction, when things that externally operate as categories (such as beauty/aesthetics, and love/sexuality) are washed-up and reconfigured by Madja through the collapse of the categorical distinction of the external layer (to Madja), is the production/adoption of a figure, a meta-meme that expresses Madja as performance, crossing a limit of optimal representation without a reliance on the sublime. An example would be Baphomet. Often associated with the “left path”, it is a Rebis with a goat face (the ultimate prey, domesticated), but winged (free of the danger of predators). It’s the messianic figure of the top egregore of the time, and it only hides one content: slime, or what it can become. “[The Baphomet] is the portrait of a polysynthesizer”[9].

The figure of Baphomet, the surplus that never exceeds its own excess, is the slime’s promise to humanity. As a Rebis, a being whose organism is composed of both biologically-restricted sexual organs, while still remaining androgynous and undecidable, it is integral as itself, an “in-itself” mark of human totality. An example and definition of a meta-meme, a non-fungible token achieved through arts lost to the digital monopoly, that, with only intent as its currency, charged latency in its expressive process. Madja, however, the fold that is like a class of substrate-resembling conditions of emergence for such figural egregores as the beloved flying goat person, effects the coordinated reciprocity behind Layer V pyramidal neuron stimulation and hormonal regulation. This is achieved through hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels and their modulation; eschewing repetition, in the sense of iterative stability, and in favor of relating outlier results, the ones that do not resonate with each other without a third clause to bind their co-extensive function, a function that only becomes after the fact, with the estabMadjahment of their concrete relationship, such as a fault in the mapping of relations of correspondence simulating causes and effects (isomorphisms) between the neuronal stimulation and the hormonal secretion, most importantly, due to the priority of the matter, tampering with sexuality-adjacent molecules and sub-molecules, evidently having a hand in the reproductive design of its xenotic circuit, be it genetic (in the biological sense) or even immaterial (in the sense of a transmission of notions, such as memes), or even something as banal-sounding as infatuation (Eros/Thanatos). The slime seeks to complete itself as in optimize itself, and, along the process and as part of it, Madja forces its infectee into the alchemical work of “finding one’s other half”, with plenty of vacuity for what that term means at any given moment of interaction, since, as long as one is affected by Madja, or afflicted with it, becoming the totality of oneself means simply achieving the degree of functionality to stop interacting with the slime. This is just as for rocks as it is for humans, dolphins and octopuses, magic mushrooms and designer drugs.

Is slime humanity’s only predator? Is a predator always necessary, in the logical sense, or always a necessity (in the ethical sense)? Is there even a difference? Meaning humans dominated the surface of the Earth, and even some of its/her crevices, only to create a predator to itself from itself (how it interacts with the world in a historical fashion) and its regional context. Let’s expand on the reproduction of memes (non-biological): an example of the reproductive synthesis of the circuitry performed by Madja in matters of the reproduction of non-biological material (memes) is the re-organization of power relations in the work force to achieve optimal production and so supplant its material infrastructure’s growth. A thriving economy, at the expense of flesh and flashlight’s lights, is a good economy for the slime’s lifecycle. Instead of normal photosynthesis, which produces oxygen and sugar, the main dish for the plant, a unique photosynthesis that is itself the production of light at the expense of the vegetal, yet with a positive feedback so sophisticated that it works on ameliorating the overall condition of its worker organisms (including its nutrition) so that their function may be performed optimally. Not so ironically, one of these material infrastructures is pollution, more specifically light pollution, which increases the limit of resonance with general regional contexts by increasing the slime’s field of affluence and bulk apperception. Slime is the closest to the “Idea of Good” that humanity will ever be acquitted a glimpse.


A distinction of utmost importance makes itself necessary before anything else, however. The unambiguous difference between Madja as light and what could be known as the virtual form of capital. Light’s virtual form’s (Madja) relation to capital’s virtual form is a contingency, but a necessary one, incidental from their infrastructures’ relationships. The predatory performance of artificial light’s reproduction is intrinsically symbiotic with capital’s accumulation given said accumulation yields an explosive liberation of the former once a speculative threshold is crossed. If not, capital’s virtual form (of the type non-agreeable with the propagation of slime) resembles a black hole, the ultimate light trap. One can be the greatest ally or greatest enemy of the other, but there cannot be friends in war.

This necessary contingency does not imply co-extension in the totality of each form, slime is not reducible to capital as much as music is not just a “Homo sapiens phenomenon”. There are co-extensive relations among distributed particles in the dynamic structure of the fractals, but not a total correspondence 1:1. The “ultimate cause-that-is-not-a-subject”, then, appears to be capital given the slime’s limit of resonance (interaction) with a regional context of its infrastructure, that, in this particular case, is humanity as an organic totality. To the predator, money remains a tool-weapon, something that, for the human, no longer seems feasible.

Come with us.

[1] For a fuller experience, access https://www.miserytourism.com/symbiogenesis/.

[2] Sierra, Germán. “Metaplasticity”, in Interstitial Artelligence (Centre for Experimental Ontology Press, 2022).

[3] Thomas F. Varley, Robin Carhart-Harris, Leor Roseman, David K. Menon, Emmanuel A. Stamatakis, “Serotonergic psychedelics LSD & psilocybin increase the fractal dimension of cortical brain activity in spatial and temporal domains”, NeuroImage, Volume 220, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117049.

[4] Aspart F, Remme MWH, Obermayer K (2018) Differential polarization of cortical pyramidal neuron dendrites through weak extracellular fields. PLoS Comput Biol 14(5): e1006124. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006124.

[5] Seems easy enough: https://arstechnica.com/science/2012/06/twist-light-carry-terabits-of-data/.

[6] Pierce, P.A.; Peroutka, S.J. “LSD Antagonizes 5-HT2-Mediated Depolarizations in Cortical Pyramidal Neurons”. Society for Neuroscience, Abstracts 1989 15 6 [6.8].

[7] “Psychedelics in Psychiatry: Therapeutic Mechanisms”. Antonio Inserra, Danilo De Gregorio and Gabriella Gobbi. Pharmacological Reviews January 1, 2021, 73 (1) 202-277; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1124/pharmrev.120.000056.

[8] Arroyo A, Kim B, Rasmusson RL, Bett G, Yeh J. Hyperpolarization-activated cation channels are expressed in rat hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and immortalized GnRH neurons. J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2006 Sep; 13(6):442-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jsgi.2006.05.010. Epub 2006 Jul 31. PMID: 16879992.

[9] Interstitial Artelligence (2022).

Illustrations and photo-illustrations by our illustrious head-devourer and long-time contributor Elytron Frass. Find them @Elytron_Frass, and lend an eye or more, or a compound(ed) one or many, to his projects such as the groundbreaking ero-guro graphic novel “Vitiators”: https://www.guerrillaconcepts.com/vitiators.
If you haven’t yet, carefully fold some money and put it inside the gushing beheaded hole over here: https://gnomebooks.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/liber-exuvia/. If a human comes out of the experience, send us a method of contact as soon as possible. The tummy aches to be sated, it’s been so long… and you need some acid.
Photography by yours truly. Which is which? That’s not my problem. You can find us in at least one and a half simultaneous(?) hells at all times.

Black Rainbow

Invisible scars lashed devoid of violence,

sang the tune descending from the stars.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

But that wasn’t the end. Never finish on a high note, it is known nowadays. Even when the high note has already dissipated, a sequence of lower notes are produced until the silence begins to impose itself and the string of sounds slowly fades into infra frequencies until gone for good. Or so it happened before we knew better. Now we know that even after this, a middle tone must be procked, then halting the settling stasis of the ensuing slumber common as a result of said antique process on the ears of past savages. No, we must go beyond.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Beyond the cracked sidewalk and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass… there stood a ten-foot-high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt-out candles and dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti-filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Not knowing of anything else, not thinking much like it used to – it now, what was it before? The most familiar thing is a trail, one that appeared as it moved, like a tray of invisible gas, invisible only due to having all the colors in it, coming off of it. A smell. A smell, the only thing that remains when all else is forgotten. And if it has legs, what to do if not follow it? If there isn’t anything else it might think of because, well, you’re it now. And it smells of pizza. It doesn’t know what that is, but it likes it. So it follows it as it becomes visible just before disappearing again inside its moist black nostrils.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

This is not the story about how a guy became a dog, but one about what happened after that, about how he became it before becoming a she – and of her loyal companion.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

A completely dark body, pitch-black like a blackhole. First, the kid found her hidden below a colorful rainbow sprayed across a mural graffiti-style, or she was the one painted rainbow-like, he does not remember it now. Maybe it was both. She was small, and the rainbow, on the wall or her body, made her look like that rainicorn from Adventure Time, the kid thought, but then quickly forgot again, just as simple as washing her thick bristle fur, the colors spiraling away in the drain, all becoming colorless, or invisible, as he liked to see it. She was all black, black coat, black eyes, black paws, and under the paws – even her nails were black. How black you are, my new friend, he thought. I will take care of you until you can choose a home for yourself, he said out loud, but he did not know if she could understand him, his memory wasn’t the same.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Now he does not remember too well. But he remembers how everybody likes pizza. Working at twelve, that he remembers, or was it eleven? Delivering pizza, family business? No, probably a neighbor or family friend. Small town, after all, and still is, but it was smaller. He does not remember much nowadays, not even family, everyone was family in small towns like that, and families fight sometimes. And grow apart, just like towns grow into cities. He sacrificed most of his memory in search of something, or perhaps it was taken away from him when it happened, when the little black rainbow appeared – better yet, trying to remember, when it disappeared, out of nowhere, too. Many a family fight has gone past since, and many a family he forgot since then. The only thing he remembered was the colorless color, that rainbow black, and a voice, but whose voice? He always wanted to know, still does. And a smell, a smell that nobody seemed to smell besides himself.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Then the smell got stronger and stronger, but were those his memories? Who was he, what even was a he, or a who, or a what, what? What was that who going to prove him, or that him who was going to prove what… all became vapor like that, and it followed that vapor, it wanted that vapor, something below its smelling-thing watered, the smelling-thing commanded the watering-thing that was already opening and closing, eating air, getting closer and closer, and closer and closer…

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 “What do we have here? Are you lost, tiny thing?” Its mouth opened once, then twice, something came out, something invisible that made the two pointy things above rotate, and some strange thing seemed to be moving fast and faster behind it, in its back, what is that. “Poor thing. Yeah, that’s your tail. Are you lost? Do you like pizza?”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

When the ride ended, she was lifted again. The kid slid her body onto a soft pile of clothing among the boxes in the garage. He pulled an old coat over the top, creating a cave that emanated the sweetness of old ladies who frequently powdered themselves—a light rose motif that played ironically well in the deep recesses of Rainbow’s ancestral brain. The pizza kid lifted her head to help her lap water from a hubcap. He broke bits of pepperoni and crust into bite-sized pieces and left them where her tongue could reach them. Much later, she heard him practicing his orations like songs. Like monks chanting in the distance, they were a comfort.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

He stood there, arms not too open, holding the no-pedigree dog like that mandrill from The Lion King held baby Simba, but the smile on his face was cold even though ecstatic, for in that moment, that frozen instant, he doubted himself, and kept fingers tight across “her” belly just long enough for the first deject to hit his leg, then his shoulder, then the dog, then, only then, his face, slapping him across the cheek before disappearing into the shadows behind without a noise.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

It wasn’t supposed to go like that, right? So how was it supposed to go, then? He thought he saw the dog’s eyes say. But now he could not think, too, and a mass of colorful but still invisible gas began to sprout from the heap of people below as the people below became the gas. Was that it? Was it happening? But he could not remember – he could only smell. How can anyone navigate like that?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 “Welcome to my world.” He heard a voice say. Could it really be?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Disease everywhere. Even the spork’s handles are diseased. Undying sick man as if you were a dog, imagine that. A strange hand comes out of nowhere to surprise your ear with the sweetest of warm scratches. It feels good like that. Careful who you throw a bone to, though. If it still has some meat, worse. If you’re going to throw it anyway, at least clean it cautiously.

Homo homini lupus, he thought, with a slick air of envy glistering in his eyes he stroke a front paw over pulpous strains of muddy lichen; almost to shiver if not by his fur coat; almost to back away and let everything behind if not by his drooling mouth and rumbling gut. He needed stomach for that, and right then he had only but half a dozen of abrasive— aggressive —glances given towards. That and the oozing smell of fresh meat with no bone. He was dreadfully hungry yet he couldn’t, one more step and he would be the fresher meat with bone; he would never eat again —or howl to the moon. Moon which wasn’t particularly beautiful— but was big —just like every other night there it wasn’t something worth losing for mere food; for simple, even trivial, survival, yet he would.

The wolf is the wolf of other wolf, he thought. yes, this seemed more truthful now than ever as strange eyes shone fear over him— to back away, menacing the only possible outcome —and, being strangled by the yellow moonlight, regaining breath under black green leaves, he cowardly retained his life in retreat march; soon to be dead anyways, if food couldn’t be found. The legacy of his memory, containing short pictures of blurred blood dripping teeth and the smell of communal grace— bloody be it —would last a bloodmoon’s night’s time. Landscapes below, dying from inside out, kneading the vermin that will eventually eat me, he thought. Long strides, several steps ahead. Fatigued, eyes losing their blue to the feverish yellow of the moon and to the flavor in the air; every more distant. On and forth plateaus, ahead drool spots, deep snores… labored fogging cornea: symptoms of a ‘soon-to-be-dead’ thought. But this he didn’t think, once the wind blew strong below, showing what any would call a miracle: A little noisy circle full of sheep. He was starving but he wasn’t dead yet, and with the last string of strength left— sheer will to continue —he fought the ladder towards that flickery hope with lethargic stomps about a streaming shore, shimmering golden waters near the man’s snores; surrounded by chirping crickets and all kinds of nocturnal creatures besides himself.

The battle had begun, a silent descent with his slender body slithering through the short field no care was enough, the man had a dog. As in a samurai contest of spirit: whom gets noticed first loses, the presence of fear is the advent of death, that’s how it is played, the pure instinct of an old rag of a wolf versus a trained, domesticated version; but at least a rested and well-fed copy. A poorly mutated atrocity. They say, like gods, “go fetch”, throwing twigs into the horizon with a dumb expectant smirk hanging on their faces and those soulless—little monsters—positively respond to it, gobbling anything they are ordered to. Poor unnatural creatures, he thought. Cold breeze, pale faded clot to charge: curvy vertical movements, swift descent. A peak then again — Boiling blood, a couple of jumps, thin air, accelerated heartbeat; all in the game — a dash in midair. Matter of a moment. A second. An encounter. One charm. Finally. Strokes of blood painted the white green ground, two piles of coat dancing in zigzag one above the other in turns. A brief moment to stare: reddish spots expanding over fur, fearsome smell, bended ears and sharp fangs— eye to eye —glowing. More silent stares reflected a barking beast. The chill floated as of waiting suspension— another clash, now upside down. They changed positions as the half-arch of light, incomplete, shone over massive heavy bites penetrating flesh and live tissue. At dawn, the sun blossomed centerfold ripping the fabrics sky, warming every frosty point of his fur; nourishing his still-life body as a pagan’s god’s eye opening for the first time through, over, in… front of a man — first revelation of a sacred knowledge. It was so, he thought, it was so because soon it would not be anymore; there wouldn’t be anymore. Nevermore. And he bathed in the sunlight as it was the last time, because it was, and he felt pure and saint— for this was true. Night: truly worth a lifetime for a glimpse of one’s own personal truth, of one’s own and one alone. Not to become two, not to die none, but to finally be one alone.

And in his last dream he saw glistering deep green eyes, soft winter white coat, a king’s port; promises of a composed night that only gets clearer. Shimmering despair, shivering spine, starving musculature; heavier than yesterday’s field day; lighter than the light shining down as gravity’s aggressive attraction. Drops of red over paper, wine bottle — broken pieces scattered on a desk –, finger base bruises; a night full, a full moon outside the window. Crescent as an arc, non-Euclidean object. Decaying roses ornament the insides of old books, sweet memories enveloped in rot smell, a beating heart; ‘for how much’ is the illuminating question not asked. Imbued in throbbing veins, blurred lenses out of life but pulsating with instinct to survive — to walk the lightened path as it is due time. Due to give his breath of life, to inspire a solution and to expire the synthesis – solve et coagula – sovereign trembling hand that holds the pen, that marks the yellow with jet blue ink: Sickly scythe slithering my neck. To have its grace revealed as death. That conceals the continuous presence of that. That is utmost vital to the final. That, in the suffocating presence of the moon’s shine, erases itself out of time; never to be remembered. A drink to that. A drink to death. To the labored breath into the dark; hiding from the – always so eager to be found – light. Frosting paws, aching nose; soon to slumber the dreamless swallow of red slobber. Sip of red wine, sour gazing night. Cold indifferent, silent. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes turn to hours. Hours pass, a day becomes two and then a week and everything passes and we grow old. He remembers the kid ramble in drunken swirls of semi-conscious agony. It is as true as the frost coalescence about the ankles – the sketch of a crimson fever of a night. Hours can’t turn back to minutes, seconds can’t last enough: and the air freezes all around and the skin burns, but the moon remains silent in her stare; gracious romantic tragic stare. Not all the alcohol in the world could warm you up now, or set you on fire as an act of mercy. The green word that escaped your eyes now contaminated yellow — sickly scythe slithering through cold autumn, to harvest the hopes of the lamb in wolf’s cloth. Time to die. As you lay bleeding, accept the gift, for time has come for you to cast in the skies as a newborn star, and cast back on earth all your light.

“Is he going to die?” Asked the little kid.

Some would imagine some kind of disgust, some negativity to be erected around that situation, but, oddly, the kid smiled in awe. Those last breaths of the bloodied wounded animal touched deeply into them — not inspiring sadness, but rather wonder. And the wolf gazed back, each inhalation weaker, it deemed the scene fit.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

I’m tapping into the world of light more every night. Not heaven nor hell, just electro – no, no, not that either. It defies abstractions. It is… folds and realms of… the beasts that ride over wax… or explode in the horizon, the slaves of so many… big cities, field or… house, or…. inside lamp-lights at streets or in homes, unnoticed until gone, over in the ceiling as halos of our own. Immobile, until gone. It seems to be only in my dreams that I see them, in the day they’re what make me see, making them nothing. Until they’re gone. Then they become hope, Imagination, Reason. They become screams of terror in the absence. In our despair, they’re free. From it to they to it again, that is what they do, what it does. My only truth is that it got me. It leered me. It looked at me with those almond eyes like a puppy in need of affection from an owner who had gone puff, just like that. And returned with an even bigger puff in a bigger out of nowhere. And, just like that, It crept over my bottom, never to take those hypnotic bulbs out of my sight. Whispering, as if out of terms with the yearning – the longing for the abuse that had become tender in previous times. It ghosted its way into my current home, not as a vampire like it once was, but as a specter of a possible future, and, before it could be meditated, it was staring at my ‘what-have-I-done’ face with a double-edged smirk in satisfaction and faux surprise. Among the blood, It smiled. It, among the cloth, cried in pain moments before going puff again. Just like that. I call them, it, these things… what are, is they called again? Nevertheless visions, Visions of a flea’s ghost dancing around a stage, beneath preternatural stars, bloodsucking the insides of my brain like a parasite. Seldom repugnance of my tainted soul for I am as much a ghost — though of a human. And even though I may try to run and fight in these woods, it won’t last. It will eventually catch me. Engulfing itself on my sour spelt blood, drinking till the last drop with avid, stained paws with fingers that, long as they are, defy sane passage of time; possessing no earthly growth and the shine of a thousand and one. Speaking in riddles now… Don’t struggle, dear. It’s here. It said it won’t hurt — that I might even enjoy it. Lies. The shadows flee away from me, hiding below rocks and trees. They are tired of my lurking in their bodies, through them. It’s over. A parasitic intent once and damned to hell I am. Forever doomed, like the small flea I am. A modern Jonah, only the whale is dead, the fish is rotting on the ground, and its smell, its ghost, is lurking in the shadows, in the corner of his awareness. He has a two-way condition: the anxiety of waiting for that whale to come and the paranoia of suspecting being already trapped inside a dead fish. And there is no Whiteness of the Whale, and the Whale is not the ghost of anything, it is dead, just dead, and its ghost is not white but invisible – with momentary flashes of hollowed transparency. And it was in his suppurating hate inside that bus, looking at all those people chattering or evicting each other, wanting them all to disappear with the smog filling the smoky-grey sky, that a foreshadow germinated in the belly-mind of interactions that formed “him”: For there will be a time of non-human verbosity, a time of critical access, of epiphanies inside habits and habits out of improvisation. But now, first, the hate has to almost consume him as millions of virtual needles pierce his anxious skin. There, in the future, there is no skin – only the needles. But Samsara is law and you must survive; or maybe die – depends on the view and the date in which karma passes, if it will. Now the needles pluck and the pores ooze prickling goo turning black in the way out like caviar gushing out of a big-ass fish that is actually a school of them swimming like needles out from the skin again.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Consecutive humming: string of C notes in an optimistic rhythmic flux layered with the ambient’s base, stuffed by the harmonious melody of swift movements of a pair of hands through smooth surfaces; like a slug slithering over a rose. Each intoned hummmmm echoing about a much bigger and continuum scenery — where the grass is fresh and the sunlight masks the bags under his eyes; he didn’t sleep last night instead crept the impossible structures of the dreamland of K, whose incomprehensible geometry he always tried to reproduce in the wake world, always failing by his own standards. With a slight change in pitch, up and down the scale, he approaches the edges in crescendos of tension applied to fingertips. Modulating the curvaceous spots in an engulfing haze, thoughtless, completely absorbed in the craft. On the expanded plane, tridimensional pictures too old to hold its own arms: Venuses and Apollos with severed limbs and perverted tendrils coiling up their necks. Ant-farms proliferating under their feet, scavenging the way up. Not a single flickery sparkle of life in their eyes; but astonishingly life-like skin and pose, even more alive than the average salaryman or housewife — people whose dreams are of visiting distant places, places where these statues reside; people desperate for a startling vision or insight of change into their boring stagnated lives. Down to E buzzing quick intervals — clouds hiding and coalescing above the garden, nebulous. Through the pale eyes of the statues, endemic conglomeration of hermetic ratios, vague glances into nothingness, little has changed over the centuries: trees remain the same, more or less, the air only but a slightly fogged from pernicious distant city’s smog; not much has changed indeed. Not that they cared — or could do anything about anyways. They are simply “The Observer…”. Almost to sing, first words in the span of two wake days after a particularly long night come out gruffly. He almost choked and coughed a little, contemplative sneer, clumsy pirouettes to juggle the morning’s glass of red wine slipping out of sweaty palms. Up to B, perhaps a forced smirk stuck on the nails, not the right angulations for a trembling hand holding a goblet; even less to a steady one holding harsh self-criticism… of the heavier type, the physically abusive. The melody goes sinewave as the wind strikes strong dragging along his forehead drips of sweat, horizontally blowing the neurotic distilled guilt off his face.

All the while,

Invisible scars lashed devoid of violence,

 sang the tune descending from the stars.

When I heard it, a voice.

It said to me that…

…people will be born out of giant wombs — collectively, somewhat of worshiped. They were initially artificial but, being biologically engineered, evolved. All the while vaporwave plays in the background:

My father’s voice is so powerful it’s like a lion’s. I sit thinking like a statue set in flesh – immobile, but in transit – about the air that fills my lungs, the odor that exudes from my body, the fruit was in my hand; I exhale the air, then come back to think. Am I, the man, flesh and bones, the water that pours out of my body? Am I the food in process of putrefaction on the ground? Where does the world end, where I begin? The world is as I, an infinite tubulation of hollow, of holes – and where does it begin or end doesn’t matter. Me / / The World / / Me / / The World It is as it was said: Ó pó da Terra Tu que me criastes Como continuação de sua missão Falhastes, então Não sois tu Mas ao pó voltareis E um dia Quem sabe, então Tu sereis Pó. To care – here, prostrated, – where death begins and life ends. For what? I’m everything, the Universe could emanate from me, but a purposeless god is as good as none, and I failed your—my mission. May be due to fill my role and, as any other failure of a god, start a creation. One neither good nor bad, just in the mold to share my shame. They are to fail with me as I failed with you, and this maybe, just maybe, will be enough to survive. But

It tried to teach me:

 See my body twist – always music, be music. Watch my skin twirl – If you’re frozen, struggle to melt. My ankles opening. If you’re trapped, struggle to flee. As my bones crackle. Even if motionless. And I contort jumping. If you’re alive, struggle to die. Enjoy the view. Never stop moving. Enjoy me. Even when you’re not moving. And don’t let it go, even if you want to sneeze. Rest right, move right. It will end, everything does. Be ephemeral, be right now. And you will miss it, sighing every time you remember. Release trapped birds. But I don’t want that. Melt the glaciers – die with them. With the earth – be music. But

it was too late.

The sun settled. His mother called him only one more time. Didn’t say goodbye. Stood up, ruthless this time. Left me there. Without direction. Without way. Ungodly. Like a good dream. A nice dream. That ends early. He was gone.

And I cried anyways.

Only a short time had passed before Stephen’s legs began berating him with queries of when and where and why this particular how had become the way? Stephen himself, questioned why they were walking and hadn’t simply taken the van? He even remembered asking odd-legs at one point, “why?” And he had answered back something mumbled and half baked about the orange taking hold.

They walked in a strange and busy silence down the road now littered with small sand dunes and garbage blown around from the storm. The buildings beside them stood with imperious-cross-armed stances, shining what little office light they dared onto the darkening paths that wore beneath Stephen’s feet. Odd-legs was prattling on about something while Stephen tried to half listen, getting wisps of recipes or vitamin lists that he couldn’t quite put into an organized construct so he just paid attention to the horizon. 

It was orange.

Or was that just the colour he demanded of the sunset’s form?

Stephen blinked several times, trying to push a lemon seed from his eye while simultaneously attempting to press the orange from his view and it made for some awkward gaits beneath his knees. He tripped a few times, stumbled, wobbled, as if his legs were getting shorter or his body were getting rounder. 

Odd-legs piped up at the two step waltz that Stephen was performing in the middle of the street but it fell on deaf ears. While trying to find a balance between walking and not walking Stephen forgot about his legs and began to wonder where the story had taken such a strange turn. When had it devolved into such chaos? Was it when he was first picked up in the cop car? Or had it been when he met the chief…? No, that wasn’t it. 

Again odd-legs perked up and mentioned again, about the orange taking hold.

“That’s it!” marked Stephen. “That’s  exactly when things got weird.”

“What?” asked odd-legs, “You mean just now?”

Along the horizon, the sun was no longer in view. Instead it rested its fiery wings somewhere around noon hour, high above the white kepi caps of the royal legion positioned at the exact centre of the desert. They were huddled around an unexploded shell sitting by the east end of their huge canvas command tent. The shell’s propeller-like end poking up from the sand cast a shadow that looked like starburst. Stephen was not three inches from the firebomb with his spectacle out and focused on the inscription on its side when the camel walked up, groaning as it rolled its head in close to the focal point of the crowd, curious too of the ammo’s intentions.

“Dammit horse, not now!” bellowed Casper, pushing the muzzle of the beast backwards to avoid any unnecessary damage.

“It’s a camel.” retorted Jonny.

Casper threw a shade at Jonny that covered all three men in a cold shower before Stephen broke the bickering.

“Could you two shut up?” he spoke while holding his spectacle in one shaky hand in front of the bomb. “I’m nervous as is. I don’t need you two adding to the anxiety.”

“Right. Sorry.” said Casper to his feet before swinging out to hit Jonny in the back of his shoulder, who jumped and apologized too.

The men had spent the entire morning pacing around the unexploded shell, trying to estimate its arrival and origin while sweating tiny plastic beads from their pores. The sun barking at their necks was adding to their irritation and the constant interruptions of camels and sand thrown by windy hands was not assisting the matter further. That, and the terrible sleep they had in the night.

Stephen kept waking from strange dreams where he had been a cannibal, a jungle plant painted cannibal with teeth for eyes and eyes too big for his teeth. In the somnolent universe of the evening, he had chased beautiful, blonde haired American women in khaki shorts through snake riddled rivers and spider strangled trees. He had cut the flesh and sinews of fair skinned maidens and chewed their bones to dust. When he woke, screaming or sweating, he woke the other two and threw bone dust at their eyes, causing them to cry for his weeping state. 

Casper and Jonny had come accustomed to the night terrors, they all had them here and there; it was a war outside. Or at least, it was supposed to be, no one had seen a bug for weeks but these night terrors, they had sunk deep. Dreams of eating another human while slowly going cabin crazy in a wide open sand dune, it struck a different rib and produced a different tone.

“What’s the range of these mortars?” asked Jonny.

“One to two kilometres I believe.” Said Casper.

Jonny studied the trajectory by the position of the dial face in the sand. “I’d guess it came from hard east,” he turned around and pointed into a vast landscape of nothing and salt. “from that direction specifically.”

One of the four camels grunted.

“What’s it matter?” asked Stephen.

“Just trying to think ahead. Maybe we should talk about scouting out that way?” Said Jonny.

“Naw.” Said Stephen. “Chief said to stay right here.” 

Stephen leaned further forward, trying to see the squiggles of the inscription as more than just little worms, his nose touched the metal and it smelled like lemon polish or ascorbic-acid and the letters that slowly formed looked a corroded green from the gunmetal of the shell.

“But if they get a foot closer, they’ll be shelling the tent!”

“I doubt it was an intentional shot, there would be others if it was.” Said Casper.

“Besides,” continued Stephen. “Chief said to stay put and so we stay put.” as the strong scent of tea in his words fell from his lips the first few words on the shell’s side began to make sense. They read… 

when the orange

Stephen’s head was a tunnel of green vine that he travelled along until the bee plucked him and dropped the seed of his eye in another flower. Then he was pregnant and then blooming and then looking from the telescope into a hazy image of himself, in another place, in another body that was the same but different. There he ate an orange and it screamed as he removed the rind. It shook and trembled as his nails dug beneath the bed of white calcium and drug ruts along the fleshy fruit below. It filled Stephen with citron and sickness, a yellow fever that compacted and lifted his organs so far into his throat that he thought he might vomit pus and ivory bile. 

He snapped his back to the desert, the heat on his neck made his skin into a sail of poltergeists and the wind dared to push him away.

“You okay?” asked Casper. “You look a little white Stephen.”

Something acrid burned its way up Stephen’s throat and he poured white onto the shell from his mouth. The water was fire and his stomach was so empty and his head so far away he almost fell over. 

“Oh my god.”

He heard someone say but it was so far in the past he couldn’t make it out as more than just a story from Grimm.

Blurred vision had split the inscription in front of him in two distinct stories but the thing that came from his stomach, the sheet of phantasm, made the words stand out and as his vision turned black he caught the last two words. 

takes hold

Gasping, Stephen struggled against the pulp in his throat. It was citrus in flavour but had the distinct shape of a noir film femme fatale. An antagonist. And a smoker.

“You alright Poc?” Odd-legs was looking at him, his eyes crescents of concern and Stephen thought he made out the soft shape of a kepi cap but it was just a halo.

Of light.

From the investigation lamps above.

Stephen did, and winced inwardly, then instantly winced again, as a reaction to the initial wince. He was embarrassed at the suggestion that he might be mentally unwell, coming from a strangely authoritative orange. Jesus Christ.
Feeling that he should show, if not exactly, spirit (That damned word again) then at least some spark of autonomy, he swallowed another lungful of smoke, coughed amateurishly, and spoke.
“You said that there was work to do?”
The orange seemed pleased. “Oh yes. A big job. A dirty piece of work I’m afraid, but it needs to be done. None of the boys want anything to do with it, that’s why we need sombody like you.”
Stephen raised himself from the bench, causing the chains to jangle, an oddly jolly sound. “Well, I don’t suppose talking about it is going to get it done.”
Again he sensed approval from the fruit. The cell door swung open and he found himself walking slowly down a glum, grey corridor, the orange by his side. It wasn’t doing anything so obvious as floating along, it was just there, on a level with his head, and slightly in front of him.
Following its lead he turned down an even gloomier, greyer corridor, down half a dozen metal steps and found himself standing in front of a heavy, steel sheathed door labelled “Room Q3.”
“I glanced through your file,” offered the Orange, “and you’re the right man for this job. No doubt about it. Just one thing I want to know, what’s the Pr business about?”
Stephen did his best to explain, but felt that he hadn’t perhaps, been as successful as he might of liked.
“So it’s like Dr for Doctor, but with a P?”
“Well, in essence, yes.”
“How’d you say it? Poctor? That’s wild. Poc for short. If you’re gonna be working for me, I guess I’ll call you Poc. I like my boys to have a nickname. Fosters cameraderie, you know? Keeps things light.”
Again, the door was shut, and then it was open, the orange made a motion which clearly indicated “after you”.
Steeplton walked into the room. Originally painted a drab cream colour, now, inevitably, it was gray. Two heavy wooden tables stood at one end of the room beneath a ventilation grille garlanded with dusty cobwebs. Upon them were piled boxes and ringbound files, here too, a thick covering of dust was in evidence. A yellowish and dim light percolated through dusty lampshades which hung listlessly from the gray ceiling.
The Orange was beside him again. “Well there you go Poc. Brushes, mops, cloths and detergents are in that cupboard there, think there’s some stepladders , you can get hot water down the hall, second left. I’ll pop back in a few hours and see how you’re getting on, how’d you take your coffee?”
Stephen made a faint noise in the back of his throat. “You want me to clean up?” He asked incredulously, his voice tight with confusion and helplessness. “You brought me here, like this, to clean up?”
“Sure. And sort those files out too of course. I don’t know whether chronologically would be best, or by year and then alphabetically. Have a poke around and let me know what you think would be best.”
“But I thought, I mean, this is insane, you said a big job.”
“Looks like a big job to me Poc.”
“But, but, I get taken from my car by the Police, thrown in a cell, then, you, I mean…” He tailed off, feeling a certain delicacy, despite his mounting anger and yes, disappointment, in again broaching the fact that he was talking to an orange. “I mean I thought…”
The Orange laughed delightedly. “Oh I get it, you thought you were gonna identify the exotic alkaloid that offed the Duchess! Figure out who put the psilocybin in the ambassador’s cocoa? Oh Poc you boob. You’re adorable. Wait till I tell the boys.”

Stephen felt his throat tighten. He was hurt. And, yes, disappointed. He realised with a pang of guilt that he had actually been looking forward to some type of adventure. He began a bitter retort, then choked it back. The Orange’s expression, however it was conveyed, was one of such good nature that he felt that he did not want to upset it. And then, it had been a very, very long time since anyone had called him adorable.
He sighed. “Second left for hot water you say?”
“Attaboy Poc! I knew we could count on you! Didn’t I tell Krampus and Odd Legs that you were the man for us? Sure, second left. The tap’s a bit tricky, you have to kind of wiggle it.”
“What’s in the files?”
“Oh, the files? Well Poc, those are our miscellaneous and irritating files. Poltergeists in kebab shops. Inexplicable series of deaths by burning of lawnmower repairmen. Complaints about refractory milliners. Lost shoes. Haunted geese. You know the sort of thing. You must get stuff like that all the time in your day job?”
“Well, not really exactly like that, but yes, I suppose, hang on, haunted geese?”
“Happens all the time. Gap in the psychic world hedge or something. Very much prone to it. Not much we can do.”
“But should I see these files? I mean, I’m sure there must be some kind of data protection regulations or something.”
Stephen realised how absurd this was, but he was after all, a medical professional. The Orange however seemed to take it in his stride.
“Hell yeah, I forgot, I ain’t sworn you in. Raise your right hand and repeat after me, “I Poctor Stephen Steeplton” you ought to have an E in there by the way, “do solemnly swear to serve and protect, and uphold the law.”
Dazedly, Stephen did as he was told. The Orange beamed, “Here’s your badge Poc. Welcome aboard!”
This last was said with such human, well citric, warmth, that Stephen felt a glow of pride. He was in. Accepted. He felt that he should celebrate somehow.
“Do you think I could have another cigarette please, er, sorry, what should I call you?”
“Call me Chief. Sure Poc, here you go, I told you about the wetness already right?”
“Yes Chief.”
“That’s good. Did I tell you about the time we had a murder down in Chinatown? Back when I was a rookie? Well Old Leopardskin, he was the Chief back then, sent me and Bobbing Head McCarthy down there to see what we could shake loose out of the community. There was this old, and I mean old Chinese guy, hanging around the crime scene just a bit too persistently, so Bobbing Head says to me “Charley, why don’t you go see if you can get anything out of that guy?” So I looks over at the guy, then back at McCarthy and I says, “Why me Bobbing Head? Do I look like I speak Mandarin?”

Ghostly invisibility is a matter of the ghost’s excess of visibility. Of an opacity beyond that of rocks, the specter is all too visible for the eye so accustomed to the light that it thinks the dark its opposite. The ghost is both-ways excluded from the field of vision for being too alien for the untrained and because, once seen, it is deemed too scary to be permitted in the view. The uneducated will try to exorcise demons and the dead, thinking them the same, when it is common sense that only living things require this kind of measure.

Following our publication of Parasol: Zones and the current investment in curating and editing Parasol 6 (with a focus on the works of Carlos Castaneda and Shamanism), we are now officially opening a call for submissions for our 7th issue “Parasol: Ghosts”.

This issue will be entirely curated and edited by the AF Collective (and invited honorary members, at the journal’s discretion). It will continue to experiment with form and variations on the title theme, but now with an added political investment, making this the first volume of the journal to tackle heavy-handed issues head-on, a first experiment of an experimental journal focusing on experimental writing. As long as it stays pertinent to the aesthetics of the CEO, which involve an intrinsic investment in plutonically-charged works capable of changing the very fabric of said aesthetics without entirely disintegrating it in the process, we are open to it and, hopefully, itching to be opened even more by it. Under the Collective’s direction particularly, we expect to be taken less as a platform and more as a terminal relay. Keep that in mind if “messy” and “collaborative” and “symbiosis” and “reciprocal interchange” are not keywords that activate a deep-rooted interest that drives your writing. And if joining a collective is not something of interest, you are already of the AF.

We are starting from a point of shared interest in decolonial theory and practices, as well as seeking to incorporate a more graphic aspect to the journal (artworks and hybrid pieces welcomed, as well as music if it can be integrated without overall loss of quality and cohesion). But not only do we welcome challenges to this initial interest as we also seek to provoke dissenting voices, so, for example, if you think decolonial theory focusing on ghosts is dumb, prove it to us, we challenge you. We ache to lose, just once, please pin us down and explain what ghosts are or are not, but do it following an Idea of Evil. Put your dead people inside our hollow receptacles, send us your lost ones and psychotic limit experiences that insist on becoming specters, send us your late gradma and let’s haunt others together. Teach us what they whisper to you and we are sure to make it turn to sorcery together.

As always, no restrictions regarding format and genre. No word limit (neither maximum nor minimum). The only true requirement is that it vibes with the dictations of the project itself as it comes alive and that most of the text itself is written in English (which you’re free and more than welcome to break entirely while pushing its limits). We accept new and already published work as well as translations. Submissions will be accepted until September 20, 2022 (till midnight Brazilian time). Send full manuscripts, pitch ideas and queries to ceo47@outlook.com. If this spikes your interest but you’re not sure what we are about or if your ideas/project really fit in with the CEO or this particular special issue, feel free to email alienfetus@outlook.com to discuss these and other pertinent issues in a openly conversational manner free of formalities (or simply hit me up in the DMs @AFCollective1, open to anyone — even the ones caring enough to point out the grammatical errors in this very post, we love and appreciate you, too).