stay tuned for a temporary flash preview
of my latest foray beyond flash fiction '33 1/3rd rpm'
(2,467 words)
© 2017
by Shaun Lawton

Sick Story Time

33 1/3rd rpm


 
Breathing in cold carcinogens from the outdoor air. It’s such a beautiful day. Infinity threw us a curve. It’s two degrees above freezing. Only two and a half micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. A fine old winter day for late February.  Not unusual for these parts. What’s strange is we seem to be just about the only region of the country where normal weather applies. The rest of the continental United States is caught in shrieking crosswinds of extreme climate conditions. Maybe we're protected by the mountains here, I don't know. While many cities back East are already experiencing days in the high 80s, other cities out West are freezing. Crystallizing below zero through warped icicles slowly melting. It appears the benefits of living in a desert valley alongside a mountain range in middle America outweigh the occasional detrimental inversions.  Almost half of this particle pollution comes from burning firewood. Or so I've heard. Whether we understand the ramifications of our technological rituals or not, we’ve been burning the midnight oil since the get go around here. This whole planet’s without a roof. There’s no math to do, just get the picture. Our existence occurs because of and not despite our surrounding celestial superstructure. You’d think by this time even the basest on either side would understand that.  I’ve been dwelling so much more on nothing as of late.  To the point it’s gotten me thinking. I’m more or less getting reacquainted with its nullity. Its alien sense of otherness enshrouding our every living moment. I’ve gotten used to it. Being poised on the cusp of existence. Balanced on the perfect surf curling halfway over like a sine wave. Keeping us in check. We’ve long passed the point where adding it all together already began making sense. At least to some of us. The issue revolves around our incapacity to select this criteria over others. In our demanding scope of daily living. The accuracy of relativistic truth doesn't matter. It’s been proven light does not need a so-called medium through which to pass. There’s no such thing as the luminiferous aether. The void itself appears haunted by submicronic activity. A paradoxical living whir we'd only notice if it went suddenly missing. As if from a constant, cosmic refrigerator incubating us. We could only note its absence once we’d departed from this realm of the flesh. Think about it. You pretty much have to. Night of the living frozen meat packs. So here we are. Standing in unemployment lines. Blaming the government for hard times. We do whatever we can. Gotta duck when the shit hits the fan...I really do like the sound of the static needle coursing along its vinyl groove. The record player's spinning my old Repo Man soundtrack album. An original pressing from 1984. Anyhow, where were we. Oh yeah. So it’s obvious by now we’ve been totally surrounded by nothing. The Void itself. That which from whence we sprang into existence. Along with its haunted counterpart. The explosively processing universe. Of which we are each individual examples. Its sentient fruit. As near as I can fathom it. No man can be said to remain truly immune to terror and wonder. At best, he may have experienced enough to increase his tolerance against those feelings.  At worst, he may have been relegated to a more passive existence, shall we settle for, as it were. I know, because I’ve been there. Adventure’s where you find it. Just as we can say there’s something to this Nothing we’re immersed in. We must also realize its double-bladed nature. There must also really be nothing to our Something. We remain possessed by it here. Supercharged about this solitary local star.

Such was the stream of conscious thought running through Aldo’s head as he lay reclined upon the red leather sofa in the living room, listening to a portion of his old record collection. Little did he know he was entering the year of the Erasing, when all individual human lives were to be exonerated of their autonomous identities. The trick, of course, as it ever has been, were to be the exceptions. The people among us whose familiarity with and fluency in the execution of their auric energy suffices for them to keep ahold of the body form of their choice. The ability, as it were, be it innate or acquired, to go with the flow. All the rest of the masses were moments away from the technological singularity about to be finished uploading. Some data purge that would turn out to be.

Aldo Dayton stretched his bony wrists toward the ceiling, and got up from his worn red leather sofa to put on another record. As the pulse pounding bass-line with seamless twin guitars backing both a forward rhythm and a bouncy back step, keeping a dizzying sort of stereoscopic balance, the speakers exploded with a raw and fervent intensity that dominated the room in dark, sing-songy tones, “living my life horrified nothing will keep this pacified and now my life--” spat out and punctuated by more incoherent screaming, head pounding hard rock music filled the room in a furious blossoming for about three minutes and when it came to an end, the few moments of quiet left sucked in everything like dust in a spotlight suddenly turned off, as if pulled into a vacuum in an instant. Tick, tock, the second song sprang out like a Jack-in-the-box and began its own pulse pounding introduction to another plodding, tortured anthem which reached a rollicking mid-tempo sequence sandwiched in by inspiring vocal bookends of broken hope; another day rotting in vain. Aldo got up and put some cold tap water into the silver kettle from the stove top, flipped on the rear left gas burner to high, and set the kettle there with a clatter for the water to boil upon. He would decide on whether to have coffee in the French press or maybe a cup of tea after the steam hissed him back out of his reverie. As another song began emanating from the speakers, Aldo broke out into an erratic bout of air drumming, half crouched into a spinning break dance. As the room spun around him he lost himself during one of the song’s few bridges, performing his grotesque ballet to the music throbbing from his four speakers arranged in each corner of the living room. He gesticulated his hands as if painting mad dabs on some mystical Eastern tapestry being woven before his eyes. The final song from side 1 faded abruptly, followed by the sound of the record player’s arm mechanism auto lifting the needle cartridge into the air as it swung and returned the arm to its normal position resting on its cradle.  Time to flip the record over to Side 2.  That was the moment when Aldo’s subatomic matrix momentarily came apart, swiveling into a uniformly arranged pattern of submicronic geometric structuring, and with dazzling swiftness, reconfigured itself seamlessly with a bright lucid silence into a blinded stare at a wall too white to withstand at first, so that photo impressions formerly implanted on his retinas began cascading dark tumescent images at him cropping up out of the dimness like a succession of hulking silhouettes with lumpy outlines, reaching in as if characters from another dimension were arriving and scooting over against the wall to make room for more entering spirits, each one shaped in a different configuration of blurring pixilated imagery faintly pulsing with a green borealic light of the aurora, every now and then momentarily illuminating itself from within, revealing a cloud-like propensity to gather into tightened clusters of cottony, wisping smoke adrift before him, each clump a controlled pillar of strangely torquing twists of ever whitening ropes of mist curling into each other in a slow roiling which kept him mesmerized if for no other reason than the phantasmagorical shapes seemed perpetually on the point of manifesting into something just familiar enough to be terrifying, yet never quite coalescing into the dreaded expectation, so as to inspire an equal measure of curious wonder.  That’s when the conduit opened right up, and Aldo Dayton found himself before an ocean of molten maroon material poised in a rising tower above him like a stacking tidal wave. It was translucent like a cross section of Jell-O quivering under its own weight. Aldo could not think what his last name was and in fact couldn’t seem to figure out what a last name was in the first place. He glanced down at his feet and could not comprehend what he saw. It appeared as a distant undulating field of green with grains of copper and gold flecking betwixt it as if a background filter were coming through etched in diagonal lines, or as if different layered fields were being focused upon until arriving at an object embedded a certain distance away fixed in the crystalline depths. But how could that be what I’m standing upon? And what does “standing” even mean? He continued on this tangential rumination until what had been Aldo Dayton came to be completely unraveled. By the end of this sudden process he’d forgotten his first name and also that he’d up until that moment been incarnated as an individual human being. His world performed a sort of hyper-kinetic flip which he distantly perceived as a gyroscopic vista of interwoven axes of fog diminishing radially into the distance around him on all sides, carrying with them occasional glimpses of interior life such as luminous flowers here, the moonlit surface of a still pond there, and split second forks of lightning inside burgeoning clouds everywhere, dropping away from him on all sides rapidly. Soon he felt emerged as if from an overheated, humid cavern and basked in a cool air of starlight once more, except without seeing an overnight sky nor any stars at all. It was just the sensation of pure being, a sort of hulking presence where he only inferred having broad shoulders, a thick cordoned neck, and a landscape for a body whose contours sloped off into whispering canyons on either side of him. These canyon walls were draped in dark succulents and interpenetrating ivy he wanted to shake the dewdrops off but uncomfortably came to realize he’d no “head” by which to accomplish such a task, and while pondering the oddness of this, and why that should be, an overwhelming sensation of triumph and pride overtook him and he gave in to the feeling of standing astride all creation which newly emerged, sent beams of rarefied spectral light emanating in all directions as if cast off the brim of an omnidirectional crown he wore. It appeared each great intake of breath he took streamed in through twin caverns heretofore unseen yet apparently directing the flow of life giving oxygen, the sweet nectar of vitality itself, back into his system which felt as if it were geometrically expanding throughout every atom within him. There then began a period of floating disembodied within a dimly lit vacuum of opalescent gray adrift among indiscernible gradations of color as to span from silver to the dark chalky opacity of tree smoke. These variants of the vagaries of an epoch continued folding into one another upon a slowly undulating ocean of perpetually cascading degrees of a diffuse light barely shining enough to illuminate even the shadow or reflection of an ethereal realm and deep within this extensive humid soup in a directionless totality there existed movement solely of particles too small to take into account except for the possibility of their inculcation which occasionally winked on and off within the suspended murk of this vast kingdom to come. Lon supposed the masks of configuration could churn for the major portion of eternity’s corners and he’d never notice their transformation into other visages grown to systematically resemble each other over the course of immeasurable generations. He understood with newfound clarity that he had an opportunity to change the same as any other manifestation from the optimal, which invariably leaked back over into the start of the here and now.  Mr. Chance thought to close his eyes for this electromagnetic dance, despite knowing the flesh which comprised his face and body would re-knit itself into the supreme configuration of his positronic dream. He was innately programmed to fathom that time itself was still in the making, so to speak, and in order to articulate itself it must undergo a re-kneading and folding of its essence into the very batter of matterdom so as to superimpose itself as a magisterial emblem into the mold of relativity, the flower of creation whose blossoming occurs in every possible direction with the singular exception being from that point which it actually blooms. Mr. Loudon Chancre desperately held on to each successive memory about to be lost as they evaporated by thinking to take a mental snapshot of the last still frame and save it for the mosaic being photocopied in his mind. Over the cyclical generations that build up on the other side of matterdom, this process filled the pendulum of memory with enough momentum to procure a single, meticulously designed epidermal scale with which to line his panoptic armor.  For this demon, manifested as Lord Sore among a myriad other names, has been continually shaped in the spun gravitational chamber of quasars constantly weaving our dominion. Without this infernal heavenliness, the tree which sprung the man-mole wouldn’t be possible without the tumor by which it must be eaten away, in time, under the manifesting cascade of starlight emblazoning the courtyard of our lives. 

Daniel Lowden thought to himself as he slowly came to his senses, before a raised cup of cactus tea emitting vaporous shapes in quickly disappearing rags of mist, that he’d best snap out of his reverie and put on another platter on the harmonic console before too much more of the evening went to waste. And so what if I’m just an odd assortment of molecules interacting in a bizarre chain of circumstance? This careful balance the universe has been quite capable of maintaining for some time beyond our ability to conceive it reveals that in fact, time has nothing to do with it. That’s just our conception to help us get through this illusion. Space we also invented to help justify our existence. All I know is my name is Dan Lowden, and I was sieved in Chronos Sixty-One-Sixty, and if it weren’t for Mindism, I’d relatively abhor this stanceforth. Danyewl stood from his spot at the well-worn cerise suffa and put yet another memory report on the plegan flayer. It was the latest euphonious deliverance of the quarry batch Sveta, his absolute favorite to gambol in desperation to.    



Behold the Scope

A hard-drive sits in a pile of rust 
mistaken for the dunes of a desert 
over the horizon of a long poisoned place
half buried in the red sandy grains blending 
into one another like the curves of sleeping 
women being erased by the constant winds.  

The dunes shift and grow as the wind blows 
off the grains by the millions in a fine spray 
of dust gradually disappearing into the distance 
only to swallow up the sinking Sun in a wavering 
unfocused miasma of pungent slag. 

The Cloud does not whir, silently it does not stir
quietly it is churned without even the shadow 
of a sound, around and round it slowly grows
as more and more files continue to upload
forcing it to grow and grow and grow.

The Cloud does not know that it knows everything 
we want to remember, so it forgets its there just as 
surely as we disregard we're awake.  Asleep in our dream
we close our eyes, so when we open them back up 
while awake we're still really sleep walking without 
knowing it. The trick is the next time we find ourselves 
having suddenly dropped or fallen while lying reposed 
on our beds, that is the precise instant in which it is most 
necessary to willfully stand up from the bed and open our eyes
(this for the last time) before we resume our natural sleep cycle 
uninterrupted by the parasite dreams competing with 
each other to feed on our electrostatic energies. 

You see, this world you observe outside of our warped car 
windshields and polarized sunglasses and disposable contact 
lenses, this growing complex organism of chaotically ordered 
arrangements that we call life, that we visualize so clearly 
from behind our corneas and through the pin-hole cameras 
of our eyes, processing sensual information to our brains, 
arranged in patterns that mirror pairs of galactic superclusters
despite appearing as a single realm or continuum through which 
we may step, so carefully one foot at a time, in such a measured 
and resolute manner, across the most steadfast bedrock stage 
of planetary solitude, may in reality (insofar as how the value 
of that word relates to our comprehension of what it is supposed 
to represent) be not so much the singularity we imagine it to be 
suspended in a likewise manner amid the scattered bodies of the stars
but more of an entangled miring of criss-crossed and knotted clusters 
of multiverses competing to perform their song which results 
as a symphonic overture seamlessly blended together into 
what appears to us as the singularity of our world.  

The inimitable presence of a superconductor remains 
at large suspended in the very atoms we breathe.  

When we articulate our belief systems with our 
human voices we are adding nothing more than 
chimes to the backdrop of this overture.  

When we procreate and raise children who grow 
tall and kind and wise we are adding instrumental 
prowess to the orchestral pit in constant turmoil 
at the quantum level of creation.  Mountains heave 
upward through oceans from shifting tectonic plates 
while oxygen facilitates the growth of a fungal hide 
upon the planet's crust which the Earth itself 
must scratch away the itch fertilized by lightning 
strikes and pulverized asteroid mist adrift 
with dandelion spores and bee pollen. 

The key to seeing the bee as it really exists 
in our world is to see that it's not from this world.  

The corner stone of under standing out in the field 
of real knowledge is to remain ignorant.  

Usable information is static at best and passed
 from hand to mouth and lips to ear for years.  

The words are seldom remembered but the actions 
they engender are copied almost forever.  

The most colorful birds or the feathers 
of dinosaurs are not of this earth but another.  

The sky seeps in from afar as well siphoned 
intentionally to keep us under its spell. 

 The skin of the sky is like the lid on an eye 
that is sleeping in its own unmade bed.  

The spores of the pine tree are as alien as any
thing piped in from the mysterious Outside. 

For all we know, serpents and cats originate 
from an ancient process called the Chimera Divided. 

 Its attempt to contribute to our compound reality
may have refracted into the two separate species. 

This planet any planet all planets like our Sun 
This star any star all stars like this galaxy

Any galaxy.  All galaxies.  Like any super
cluster, galaxy, star, planet, plutino, centaur

Asteroid, moon, comet, or meteorite, this Earth 
remains the exact and precise divine center.

I HAVE KNIVES

The name of the first one is Zebra, an old machete I was given in Honduras. 
The blade is tarnished with age and neglect, and twenty inches long. 
At its widest it's an inch-and-a-half, four inches from the tip, then tapers down 
to a one inch width at the hilt. On either side toward the top flat edge
of the blade runs a narrow shallow depression nearly eight inches in length
to channel the flow of bleeding sap away from the razor sharp side. 
Oh, I have knives. I'm not an obsessive collector; more like a magnetic attractor
over time. Zebra's brown leather hand-tooled scabbard rivets together
brown and green braided leather tassels hanging from the top by the hilt,
and is stitched together in a wavery seam running along the middle of its back.
Down the center of the front of the scabbard are arranged sixteen embossed
triangles in a line. Within each triangle (half an inch wide) appears a sigil 
of a five-sprigged plant bearing three globular fruit. Along the edges run 
lines of embossed tiny 'X's. Zebra will turn thirty-four this year, and although
much of the length of her blade has dulled its edge, there are yet a few sharp
segments, mostly toward the tip.  My other knife is a genuine Ravola for fileting
fish, made in Finland with the artisan's fine signature etched into the three-
and-a-quarter inch blade. The blonde beechwood handle has a slight crack in it
but otherwise remains in immaculate condition. The five-inch leather scabbard
slips halfway up the handle's shaft before gripping it in a tight seal. This one
is named Stinger for its dexterous precision and pointed sharpness.  
Yes, I have knives, and they've come in handy, from time to time. 
I have many more knives, of every size and for a wide variety of purposes. 
From a small one inch long pen knife which folds up into a brass cross
to a full replica of the Conan the Barbarian  sword given to me by a friend
just a year ago. Every one of my knives carries its own particular story.
They have all suffered their own various degrees of use. Oh, I have knives,
alright, and they all happen to share one thing in common. 
None of them have ever drawn blood...