What I am

The cool must of cave walls was thick and crisp. Sleek and solid, flawless darkness, hung in the air, glossy blackness, godless in this belly of the earth.

Our footsteps settled into reverberating rhythm, slow and cautious, cyclical.

We walked, her hand in mine. The crisp echoes of water drops rattled off the cavern walls.

Like the weight of my body, familiar but alien, and the strength of my stride, are all just a distant kind of tactile memory.

That churning vacancy in my chest throbbed. In our silence, I began to wonder if I was dead alive, or worse yet. 

I drew a deep irrational breath that staggered my stride. My chest…

“I can’t go anymore.” I said

“I’m sure there’s something up here, c’mon.”

“I can’t. I’m tired.” I said. “I think.”

“You want to rest.”

“I think so.”

“I don’t think that’s why you want to stop.” 

“Where are we going?”

“Deeper, love.”

“I want to know where we’re going.”

“But if we go together…”

“I don’t know what any of this is, and I’ve been way too cool about it all,” I said. “Look, I feel like we’re both kind of fucked here.”

I paused. And then she spoke up from the darkness.

“I’m following.” She said.

It was all the invitation anyone could expect, “Because we’re both here, and you took me with you…”

“You promised yourself.” She cut in

“Yeah, I know, I remember I promised to, but here we are, right? It’s just, it doesn’t seem fair, ya know? That I promised myself to you and all, or whatever…

“And there are some really weird things I’ve been seeing and there’s something going on inside me. Like there’s something missing. but check this out, and maybe I’m only saying it now in the dark because I’m a coward or because I wanna be completely honest and just… this is where we are right now,” I say in the pitch black. I’m beginning to feel elated. As I imagine and relive this, it always occurs the same fuckin way. Like this.

“Do you love me?”

She must have swam dramatically in that question, rhetorical. Comment. 

The weight of conviction to a celestial, heavens to Betsy, demigod.

“I love you the way neutrons exist. Devoted and devestating. I saw you, first you, before tens of billions, and you saw me and that was when the universe exploded and created life and cast it millions of miles out, and became so magnicent that it created space and imagined time and constructed gravity with the weight of its own actions, building its laws as they erupted. 

“That happened inside me when I saw you sleep, and when I saw your heart, your thoughts and trepidation and confusion.”

“I’m confused.”

“Yes.”

“That’s what I’m saying. I’m confused. By all this. I don’t know how I can explain it, but I did feel all that. Obviously, but ultimately, your a girl. And I think you’re beautiful. But I just don’t really…

“I don’t like girls. I don’t mean that!! I mean, I “like” boys. And I know you’re really attracted to me and all. And here we are in this completely dark cave and I’m turning you down and I probably didn’t even have to say anything. I was probably over reacting and, fuck, I’m sorry. I just got scared you were thinking…–”

She grabbed me and held me firm against her body, standing over me. She dominated my body and stole my kiss aggressively.

I felt that falling elation, the way her sweet lips insisted, candy peach tongue that trespassed mine.

She pulled me in by my chest, desperate lust, and I drew her hips into mine, they were volcanic together. She buried her fingers in my hair and pulled out her sexual anguish, while I buried myself in her and did the same.

  
Even while we lay as we did on the cave floor, wet and ruined, our driving growls and calls out reverberated throughout the caverns, periodically reminding us of the sound of our own ecstasy. Like a fimiliar scent.

We eventually continued forward, resolved.

Then the song began at the end of the growing hallway.

That’s a different story

Mods, still

My little craft stood straight erect and ineffective, in that wide berth from the carrier that sent all its immediate Mods to board us.

We, the three of us, Peter, Windy and myself, all inched closer toward our objective, which naturally transitioned from survival to aggression. 

At the moment, it meant Windy assessing the eighteen grey and modified women, only previously women, previously human, titanium lenses where eyes had been, lips motionless, gaunt and colorless. Some mouths were tattooed black and dyed red with Carterol, a kind of amphetamine they wore like lipstick.
Violently toxic, this erotic high was how they wiped out entire populations. Kissing men, making them ravenously mad, while further disintegrating their own pituitary glands.

These beautifully condemned cold loveless denizens, artificial and plastic fantastic villains, only retaliated against the assault of “pure” humans. But that’s another story.

They… I’d never seen so many, so vacant. Uninhibited. Those trademark black light luminescent lines like inverse luminescent trim that divided their icy figures into segments, all bound by flesh and alloy. They glowed brighter on some than others. 

They aligned on the bridge automatically, and the second wave behind them, staggered, and staring down through us, visually dissecting us, prepared to tear us all apart with their grey hands and alloy nails.

“Nope. Not like this,” Windy said and leveled her sights on the first Mod’s head.

Without hesitation she fired the first round into the skull of that cybernetic undead bitch, and it swayed, it’s black light trim flickered and its knees began to buckle. It’s head fell to the side against its shoulder, and it caught itself before collapsing, sidestepping off the bow, into the disturbed water. The remainder of them stood motionless.

Windy glanced at me, and I shook my head. This scenario never can end well. Her eyes shifted from concern back to defiance, and unloaded her clip into the next three mods. The icy ginger to the left, crystal eyes and soft cheek bones, came to life moving swift like a viper, snatching the gun from her fist and palm thrust her chest, sending Windy soaring against the mast.

She fell silent, crumpled like a bundle of limbs like sticks clad in leather and denim and the stains of blood of recompense.

Peter stood, rather, he hovered, grey as any mod, most likely on the cusp of death, staring vacantly into the welcomed oblivion before us. 

Blood continued to rain from the stump of his lost hand, slowed by the seared flesh of Windy’s quick solution when it happened, and the belt she strapped around it.

I continued to count their heads as they appeared to multiply, admiring them, their cold precision and selflessness. Their absence of weakness, of emotion, of fear or obsession.

My heart raged in my fragile chest that became all that much more delicate as I watched the ginger on the end return to her position with a swagger and a strangely seductive glance. Windy still laying motionless. The two mods she’d unloaded her clip into, lay twitching, attempting to return to their feet.

“How do you wanna go, kid?” I asked Peter.
“Please…” He muttered.
“Fine,” I replied and looked at the devestating dark violet skinned, once tremendously Nubian seductress, now Tall and terrifying huntress standing right before us.

“Fix him, kill us or get the fuck off my boat,” I said. Peter couldn’t continue and collapsed to his knees.
She assessed his condition, discussing silently, through cerebral transmission, what to do with us.

A brunette, complex features, older frame, angular and masculine, stepped forward from the rear ranks and dropped to one knee. Her arms were entirely clad in a kind of plastic armor plating that concealed blackened steel alloy mechanics.
It’s serrated three pronged claw retracted and a series of needles and probes of varying size emerged from her sleeve, and she thrust the gunmetal black instrument into his stump

Naturally, he cried out in agony, and I nearly puked on the spot as I heard bone crack and the high pitched squeal of what sounded like metallic insects swarming around an arcing current. He passed out. I watched them, that sound piercing every attempt at false confidence.

He was almost immediately silent once she extracted her needles and blades.

She rose and watched me. She wasn’t like the others. The was still what we used to call “compassion” on her.

She was weak. Her black lit infrastructure glowed brilliantly violet. Violently brilliant.

The ship gently shifted its weight as several mods caught indications of another life. Like the quiet echo of a chain encased in acrylic sizzling across the hard wood deck, a quiver of red scales promised me the sea dragon had begun to intervene.

The tick tock of an old clock tapped across the deck tracing my perimeter, as the texture of the wood tones marbled and confirmed, the hidden machina sea dragon had weighed in, and this fight was ready to begin.

Mods

  
Peter was sick with agony. Windy was all furious from empathy for Peter. Stupid one fisted kid. 
I was alive, and couldn’t understand why. But I wasn’t expecting to keep that streak. At least, not by the looks of our company.

The flesh of a Mod is a kind of pale grey, a little blue. They rarely are more man than machina. They don’t eat. Their hearts don’t beat. They whirrr, perpetuating the flow of Pharma through dead meat, deceiving the cells. 

Pharma. That sadistic viscous liquid breakthrough, cure all and final hope to save humanity. Funny.  It notoriously destroyed hearts before it killed the cancer it was made for. 

Mods were what we called cyborgs when we were kids. Advanced biologically compatible circuitry buried in living flesh, enabling the human mind to achieve heights and depths of understanding, naturally impossible.

Mods are not Cyborgs. They aren’t fantasy. They are abominations of technology, of nature, fragments of humanity that refuse to surrender.

Their walk is slow, appears laborious, like a battle with gravity that they’re poorly matched for. 

These, drones, designed for wars, many of them soldiers, the final use of Pharma juice, were usually sent to slaughter humans.

Many of them, women. Girls took to mods more gracefully. The further humans tinkered with themselves, further they discovered the uniqueness of the female psychic structure. 

Often men just lost their minds. The chasm between hemispheres of human brains remains the link. In females it was easier to build freeways between these coliseums of intellectual and emotional integrity. Battles always raging. Metaphysical limbs on the floor. Death everywhere at the core.

Mods.

They don’t live anymore. They don’t hunt or hide anymore. It’s sick to say, they are the evolution and transcendence ave all humanity’s science had strived for. They will survive us all. I even know that right now.

Now as I’m writing this, deep in the belly of the whale. I know. It will be them, Peter the God and I. Windy will be dead, if she isn’t already. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The three of us stood defeated on the deck as Mod Drones continued to board, five, ten, innumerable women taped up to look inhuman in grey skin leather, straggling and dragging their weight, steel plates on the bottoms of theirs boots invoke terror. Shoes of unusual horror. Machines made of human minds that devised perfect, flawless torture, faces like divine Angels. Aborations. 

But they gathered and copied us. They scanned our faces and our bone structures and our heart rates and our chemical compositions and composure in the moment. 

Here’s a difficult thing to relate.

They, these mods, indifferent machina, invaded the space between synapses in our brains and found frames of thoughts like snap shots of ideas and aftershocks of fears as they occurred, and transferred what they “FeLt” to their operators aboard the carrier.

I said nothing.

Peter sat grasping his stump, pure cold and silent.

Windy had put away her gun. Windy had put away her uncertainty and nerves, and she had put away her wonder. She became a kind of cultivated stone.

They continued to pour on the boat ’til the aft was nearly under the blackened water.

And one spoke.

“You are James Vethiver.”

I gave em a thumbs up. 

“That’s what they said” 

“What are your companions?” It asked

“Just like me,” I said

“You will all board” it replied. She was dangerously exquisite, cold and beautiful, with fine cheekbones and dark eye shadow, tattooed in and sleek black hair, shoulder length. 

She was an It. The world was an eclipse of itself. And we were taken captive by the Mods, the demigods of Machina.

And Ivy, I wondered if she was still alive in our inhuman technological monster.

I wondered and imagined she was. I could saw that I felt her. Ivy. They called her artificial.

I began to imagine she was god.

Humans always thought, when the reality was on the cusp, that artificial life would make us gods.

The human complex, magnificently created its own god.

Sick. Hilarious.

And what was next was tremendous.

Page One

 
The room was cold as I came in. Colder than the linoleum that gleamed and reverberated the heavy heels of my not-combat boots. The small silver buckles that lay snug over the laces, clattered tinny bells invoking apprehensive faces.

White walls kissed with shit prints of bouquets and cottages and covered country bridges in every room placed the same places, exactly the same way, like an upscale Villiage Inn. 

 Your room smelled like iodine and the ghost scent of dog fart. Your machine didn’t beep or ding as I expected. It simply showed the pace of your resigned young heart.

Only the the in and exhalation of your oxygenating accordion machine. I sat at the steel chair I set by you the week before, and where I sat everyday thereafter. 

I set my breath to yours. I sat with you and watched the beat of your drum on the screen in green like an elyptical workout program. Equally as useful…

I recall days I sat with you, just sat and watched you play. You played my guitar like desire plays souls. 

Your melodies haunt me, like musty amalgams of absolute warmth And this cold empty. Every time this epiphanic thought creeps in, I want to run and never see you again, savor what I can recall without the invasive overlay of your oxygen pump.

I don’t think I’d cried in this room. 

So who writes the end? Who’s entitled to that treasure, that displeasure, that dissonant final measure?

“I wrote you a story, Ad. I know I haven’t told you a good story in a while. It’s not like you’re giving anything to work with,” I said.

“I was thinking about that night you were over, and we were talking about the way you always said you related to Peter Pan. Or you emulated him.

“I’m so fucked without you. I was just empty and stranded and hopeless back then. But I didn’t know there was someone like you. And now there isn’t. You made me want to be better.”

“This is just..” I had to pause. Too many emotions in my throat; I couldn’t breathe. 

I sat for, um, for a while, breathing with her, dying with her.

“So wrote you a new Peter Pan. Because I’m your Hook, and the only way I can have you anymore is…”

Breathe

“I… I’ll just tell you the story.”

I pulled my folder, bent and beaten, from my bag and started reading. Page one. 

“Humanity was sweet. Short and sweet. A few thousand years of histrionics. Before it was archaic, but after… It was the worst of the worse we imagined.

Villains

I saw her once in a dream. I was a boy. Sixteen maybe. Fucked but not contaminated. Guess that’s all perspective. I was scampering from sentries always keeping off the streets. 

Sentries. Patrols. Can’t call em cops though, since they aren’t human. 

We took to the woods

And one gun. And one bullet each. The world was not yet undone. If we had known, it would have been three.

In the dream, this is a dream kids, so I thought, so it was, rocks beneath my spine sand in my teeth from dinner, so we called it. A near death Squirrel and an engineered peach. And goddamn foliage.

But I descended here. And here was so much soft fog and luxurious light. I could never forget how, she smelled like summer. The way I remembered it. Enormous amounts of lotion on the banks of the Willamette. Dust and humid moss mist and a the sweet scent of my stolen whisky breath. We were torrid up in the woods, all running from one cave to the next, strung out on Rhomasil, thinking we were invincible. We were like animals in the Amazonian-like Forest Park. 

The sentries left us alone out there.

We were apprehensive to head out. The landscape of the world was becoming frightening, and what we thought was rational, quickly became irrational. (To include the presidential order to allow voting to be cast while “incorporated”, plugged into the complex.)(within the complex, you become a perfect avatar of your human self.) (you’re an interperatation of yourself)><(you are an elite interperatation of yourself. And you carry that knowledge and wisdom into the natural world. As goes with Polititians. But in these landscape, many of their memories and ideas and decisions they consider wisdom, are generated. Mock itenerary. 

Ivy was only evading a war. Invading soul was necessary. I understand that now.

I know because this night, I fell into a kind of deep green canopy of a sleep. Deeper in deeply into immaculate sleep we fell together into a kind of cavernous keep.

We were in a hazy irridescently lit room inside a kind of deep set cavern. Light glistened on the slick black cavern’s walls.

There was a kind of liquid elation in the air and I was hard like a monument. 

When she came to me, as though she emerged from smoke, she smiled. As though she knew me from the ground up and adored every scratch, she smiled. 

She moved close with catlike reflex, softly striking. Nuanced.

Her eyes electrical, sparkled like a spectacle of crystal light basking in blurred hues.

“I’ve experienced a spirit like you.”

…she seemed to say.

“Who are you?” I asked. 

And the rest is another story.
And I looked and waited for her to come for me. I was sure. But when Ivy plagued the billions of humans, driving us all insane.
Earth needs fearful men with lips of vengeance, through which every whispered word stirs premonitions of dread and evil.

 Not just “evil” men. 

I am what I have to be. I don’t want it, but the fury is what I have. My God is gone. My mind filled not with blood but shrill silence.

Enslaved on this ship heading east, into the cities, through the canal. There, the steel and cable skeletons of once majestic towers, skyscrapers, now bony spires, reaching up from the black water that swallowed the island finally.

And then we mutinied. 

I caved in the captains head where he slept, and took his place. We were several miles out, and the waters remained dreadfully still. We stained our sails black and found the darkest shadows of great scrapers. We became the night. A rabid claw of the unyielding inhospitable night.

I slept in his chambers, upright on a footstool as I used to for nights in his chamber, telling him my stories of the sea and the plagues of America. Before we killed the world. He told me his stories, about when Australia got grotesque, and how he lost everything.

But I remained a slave to be sold. And slaves are killed like cattle in this brave new world. 

I was reminded, for months with the lost boys, that I was an outstanding piece of property. His honesty almost spellbound me, and now his body decays in the ocean, as we now sail to Tanna. The island we call Carcass.

In that blackest of nights, when the shrieking of folding steel and the beasts of the sea, DARPA’s denizens, were deathly silent.
I slept upright, and in that sleep before sleep, she came to me, clothed in hard shadow and soft light. And she watched me. It was for what felt like hours. Before she moved towards me where I sat. 

“You know me,” she said.
I did, I meant to say, but I was silent in sleep. Only the part of me that watched her from outside my self. My spirit’s child. Inner child, perhaps. It watched from within, but from beyond me as well.

She leaned in and her scent was like sunshine. A day at the pool. Sunshine and chlorine and coconut oil and sweat. Strange scent of summer vacation. And she kissed me.

Like an eruption, every part of me was part of her. I could feel every nerve in every finger laying like oak in my lap, and every nerve in hers as she gently caressed my face and pressed it against my chest.

I was lifting away, out of body, more and more fully absorbed into her, almost erotically.

And then the cold like blue ice bit my toes and began to consume me alive like some tremendous iron snake.

I opened my eyes into hers, horrifically emerald eyes, peering so deep inside she’d deconstructed me. Like a god, in my mind, removing me.

And then she ripped it free. Broke my gaze like shattered crystal that showered to the ground like fairy dust. And it was a shadow that shimmered irridescentally, like mother of pearl. And I thrust my arm and plunged my hand into the heart of it and clutched it with all my strength. 
And she, with all her strength, its strength, all shadow now with those green calypso eyes, ripped it away. All but that shred of my inner child, that boy that she came to, and lured me to promise this to her. I’d given myself to her, I recalled. But that was the only recollection I had of her. And it was only because of this final shred in my cast iron clenched fist.

I could feel it, knew it, vibrating in my bones, should I let even a finger free, I’d forget her forever. Completely. And I could never get it back. All her passion, my capacity for compassion. Gone.

So I fight it, encapsulated in a fist.

I’ve fashioned a a binding, and a hook to replaced the bound hand. I wear it on my iron fist, so that soon, when I find the pan, when it comes for the rest of me, I can take its heart from it’s chest.

With my Hook.