“The Second” was written for a speculative fiction writing workshop and very last-minute in its original form. I did the plotting and world-building on the fly, and basically the original idea was “what if the protagonist were trying to save their friend from a duel?”
There are moments when the world comes suddenly to a stop, when the ground withdraws its support, when a schism opens, into which one may or may not fall. The world then employs its archaic sleight-of-hand to remove whatever faith you may have placed in this event. The structure of projection has barely missed a beat, but the schism in your psyche has not actually been sealed…
It starts like this, the intercom buzzes. Nick, the reluctant pet cat, is faking obliviousness, turning around, padding over to the kitchen for a snack. His tail, way up in the air, offers me a clear view of his hypoallergenic pink behind—shorthand for open scorn. “Guess I’m getting it then,” I say, pushing back with my own attitude.
Seconds — those appointed to negotiate and if necessary fill in for the principal fighters in duels conducted by pilots of the Polarin Aerial Fleet — were allowed only one kind of interference: to try and talk combatants out of their folly, or to watch as time ran out and they went to their deaths. This was thought to be a way of reducing the number of frivolous challenges. It had had virtually no effect.
The game gives us a satisfaction that life denies us.—Emanuel Lasker ∞ “Tea or coffee, Sir?” “Coffee. Black. No sugar.” I’m on the phone with a market researcher. I try to picture a pretty girl at the other end of the line, but it isn’t working. All I …
I looked at him through the camera. “You have a secret.” His eyes widened. I continued. “It’s not something…bad…but you think it is…. Something about a confrontation with your father. And it has to do with…a female.”
Now is when you are alone, when you have nowhere to be, when promises to the world no longer apply. Nobody knows what happens now except you. This is your own personal history.
The Spiritual Barber had opened his salon a year earlier and it had been an instant success. Open Mondays to Saturdays, it attracted an ever-growing number of customers, who thought nothing of waiting several hours until it was their turn to be served. …
“Sex and God or sex and death.” I repeated his phrase, feeling a slight slur in my speech brought on by the beer on an empty stomach. “Is that all there is?”
I was jealous of Pedro’s imaginary lovers and of his vaster sexual experience. Short poems, long poems, quirky poems, I read them in secret when he was out. I didn’t understand them. Poem after poem, sounding much alike, revealed the charms of some new image of his desire, even as he prayed for some kind of deliverance from his too, too solid flesh…
I felt that many kinds of patterns, of ancient origins, had been stamped onto our writhing, wrestling, male flesh, and that we had entered this forbidden zone many times before…
Whether I chose to feel my emotions fully, or experience the depth of them — that wasn’t up to me. That was up to God, or Satan, or whatever it was that controlled me.
Has the Shadow become more user-friendly? No. Whether now or 2,000 or 10,000 years ago, the shared identity of the Shadow and the Guide has always presented itself in the form of an ultimatum, which we must torture our minds and bodies to interpret.
That our world has already ended, of this we may be certain. But is it the end of “a world” or of “the world”? It is reassuring that the prophets of world destruction have proven almost 100% wrong—and yet…
That room is gone. Or rather, the room is still there, but what’s in it now is so different from what was in it before that the room itself seems transformed. It holds a vast model of the world we live in, built to scale and rendered in exquisite detail…
Note: The following takes place between October 2018 and January 2019. I’m not in control. I’m trusting the currents to guide my ship to safe ports, trusting the process, letting go. I’m learning along the way. The biggest lesson so far has been how to …
I look for my White Lily, but it’s gone. When I look up again, the girl, too, is gone. I’m on my own again. I wonder if I imagined her. Or maybe she imagined me, and I’m the one who’s gone.
See What You Think About This is not only an invitation to read, but a beckoning. It’s a lure to peek behind the curtain, and dares you to see if you can see what the author intended.
You must listen intently to the sound in your ears. It’s a carrier signal. The message is layered into it.
Yes. It was the Werewolf, he said. I ask him what happened.
How much further are we going? She isn’t really asking me. Just thinking aloud.
There was a boy once upon a time who lived in a small village with his mother, this father, and his sister.
So this man lived once in a fairly clean house, up along a good road. A good neighbourhood. This was the man I told you about.
Where did those men go? What men? He says he didn’t notice; had his eyes closed listening to some music the barman had put on.
Fade out. The music fades out. I say you’re a strange girl. She doesn’t reply immediately so I stay: switch channels.
Three black bags lay on the table and the telephone was ringing in the back. That’s where it was.
So in this photograph are a boy and a girl. The boys sits on the ground to the left and the girl lies on the ground to the right.
The point about the Werewolf is this: a popular conversation about categories of things.
This guy works in a store. He has a bulging gut but his heart was in the right place.
And off we set with the black bag in the trunk of the car. The drive to the restaurant is some two hundred miles of desert, mountain passes.