Yawning Abyss

They sat in the middle of the field, leaned against a fallen tree, vapor rising from their somnambulators.

Their eyes were gone under their shades. They had traded them to the grinning birds as a bribe, not knowing that their beaks were formed that way when the hurricane ripped them from the wind.

The grins never stopped, but they could no longer tell. They walked now in circles, widdershins, and pointed their snoring noses upright. They would see now with dream rods and nightmare cones. The sky and the ground equated.

The field crawled with life, but their boots kept it from them. Their ears were stuffed with cattails. They did not want to awaken. They did not want to sense the grins still on the beaks of the birds that took their vision.

They would walk in circles until they dug graves with their steps. Softly, they would lie down and let the sun suck the blood from their backs. Berries would grow in their corpse dirt and the birds would eat these as well, unsated.

Grease in the Warp Drive

They made the little fried sausages, covered them in void wrap to preserve them against the inevitable Time we were up against, and put them deep in the hold, behind the cooling units of the nav computers. When I say they, I mean the Cooks. We were sent two cooks on our million year mission, but we ever only saw one. The other appeared exclusively in special treats: a bit of cheesecake for a birthday, three eggs in the omelet for the crew member that had their arm gnawed off by radiation burglars.

Where they put those sausages, there was a fan, a great, galactic fan, capable of blowing in the most alien of winds. But we had found nothing here. Nothing but space and time and the sausage winds that blew when we flew near a heat source and that great, big fan turned on. The entire void craft would turn into a holiday stroll from sausage cart to sausage cart down some forgotten European riviera. Everyone would go mad, talking about all the times they’d encountered sausages in their lives. Cutting themselves to ebb the flow of memories. Talking incessantly in five languages, none of which the others knew, ending their speeches with grand gestures which seemed to imply that the speaker would like to be turned themselves into a sausage.

Take my thinking meat, they seemed to say, and stuff it into my innards, along with the rest of my innards and some blood for good measure. We had all been around each other long enough to get the gist of their ravings.

No one thought to track down the invisible cook and simply ask for the sausages, though of course, that might require teamwork, and we were all dreaming of a greasy, piled-on plate of tube steak all our own. No one talked of murder, of course, but talk is little but pregnant vibrations. We would never talk the sausages into our mouths. A sausage was a tooth’s business, tooth and arm, fist and feet. The hard parts of the body had no subtle language.

Once Were the Fowls Full of Human

He came walking up, raving about bird sandwiches, about how he’d walked all this way because “the shiny-eyed fuckers” couldn’t tell one lake from another. They’d put him down all the way out in Boone county and he’d not a bite to eat all damn day.

We hadn’t see Teddy Two-Knuckles since he’d set up a “human versus one hundred mallards” night at J.J. Jolly J’s. They said he’d been approached by a couple of guys afterward with an extra dimension to their movement, sporting webbed shoes and gorgeous headdresses.

This wasn’t the sort of town where you went asking questions. Answers crawled from the sewers, fell from the sky like toilet ice. So we ask much explaining out of Teddy this time, even though he smelled as if he’d been sitting in pond scum smoking jet fuel. We let him in, of course, let him sit on a leaky wooden chair and offered him coffee and marijuana. He refused both.

“Bird sandwich. I need cannibalism right now. The only thing that will do.”

“But Teddy, you ain’t no bird.”

The cracks in his head formed from the inside. Instead of answering, he fused his mouth together with melted skin and let the pecking turn to quacking as his brain emerged beak first, wet with skull drippings.

“I ain’t I ain’t I ain’t,” proclaimed the newborn duckling as it fell to the ground by gently rolling down Teddy’s slumped corpse.

“Who ate all the bread?” came the question from the kitchen. The duckling watched as I drew my bread knife from its scabbard.

All of these questions in the air and none of the answers.

Angel as Bird on Fire, Falling

We have seen what happens when the birds are turned off.

Children keep their heads to the stone. No mouths come formally, covered in shit and cursing while scraping tongue with a silken cravat. No fairy to ever find a feather,  twist it about while spiraling down and down on abandoned wings. I pay a boy now, not a crow, to bring me jewelry at dawn.

And the off switch had been there the whole time, like a town hall clock, but no one cared. Birds seemed like such a delightful thing (when they weren’t stuck in their death songs in your car’s grill.) They could be peripheral. A man could walk in the city and take no note of the birds all day, yammering to himself and flicking spit on the ground where the little birds danced and fought over detritus. Human spit, at some velocities, with wrap around eyes, may often and sometimes look like a disappointing worm.

Do you suppose the birds, where ever they were taken when the switch was finally pulled, ever think back on human spit with longing? Perhaps no bird ever tasted human twice. Ostriches, perhaps, in their quarterly rages took an ear here and there. Undocumented ears, now digested or buried in head holes, growing new and illegal humans to take the birds’ place in the sky.

 

Paleothanatology

“Come back in. You’ll catch Death out there.”

I stood on the deck of the iron cruise ship, counting rust sprites and trying to slow my vision enough to see the secret of their industry. The overseer of my play group had allowed me one ibogaine soda pop as an afternoon pick me up, even though my mother had told me I was becoming a different person, a bit changed every time I drank one. The raspberry syrup covered the bitterness well.

My overseer had offered me watermelon flavored ibogaine soda pop once and I nearly lost the brain from my skull so active was my rage. “Have you ever tasted watermelon?” I had screamed and he had replied, “No. Only watermelon soda pop.”

I forgave his ignorance as he forgave my tantrum.

“Billy! Now! You’ll catch Death out there!”

I almost caught a rust sprite resting, but the moment my eye flickered slantwise, she was away and once again moving at vision blurring speed. The sprites did not fear Death. Perhaps they were too fast for him. Yet, my mother implied that it was I that would take Death into a net or a jar, or perhaps my hands if I were brave in that moment. Death was my prey then and mother knew it. I had been searching for meaning among the beauty of the rust sprites, but I had been on the journey all along; not just the cruise my mother had so patiently saved for, but the journey to put Death on display.

That was it then. When I left kindergarten, I would become a paleothanatologist by trade and learn the history and current whereabouts of Death and how to care for him or her while in captivity.

Perhaps I would find many Deaths. A nice breeding pair.

The wind moved over the ship in salted gusts. My mother’s hand fell on my shoulder and I jumped.

“Come inside. Right now,” she looked into my lidless eyes, dirty blonde eyes. “You’ve had soda before bed again, haven’t you? I am going to have to have a chat with little miss priss down at the daycare. This is supposed to be my vacation. Now I’ve got to deal with this.”

“I will dream now, mother. I will dream whether I sleep or not.”

Lunar Obsolescence

Her voice echoed down the barrel of the shotgun and got thrown to the treetops when she fired it, hollering. The sky staggered, nearly dropped the moon into the lake outside of town where Lacey kept guard over camping grounds. Nearly dropped it right at her feet. Instead it recovered, kept the moon in orbit, and slid behind the horizon where Lacey’s buckshot couldn’t go.

“Damn.” She spit a baby carrot into a coffee can full of detritus.

Unless.

Unless she bought the shell a ticket on a one way bullet train to Kyoto, one of the Ocean Treaders with the really nice legs sticking out the bottom. They’d kick you off if you whistled at them beauties, but her shell didn’t have any lips (she’d made sure of that.)

Well shit, she couldn’t just sit there and wait for the money for the train ticket to fall in her lake. She’d have to grow her shell a brother, take it to the bank, kill herself a money man and catch his golden blood in a siphon bag.

She’d have to move quickly or that sky would be back with a new moon and none of her growings would work no way.