V is for Valley, Mixed Media on Card, image by Rupert M. Loydell
excerpts from The Co-ordinates of Doubt
It took forever to clean the city of glass. We could never look out through the smears and dirt, the sun bedazzled us as it refracted through the walls. Some stuck paper and blankets to the roofs and sides of their house, others etched softening textures into the glazing. When the mountain fell into our world we did not see it coming. Our world lay splintered and beautiful, green ice in the cold light that showed us how foolish we had been to build with beauty and clarity in mind.
We left the city and built another, with discarded stone and coal black pitch; learnt to live at night and look the other way.
The casement window was empty, the sky blank, the air, tepid, still and mouldy. Above, omen to no one but the stench of the void, Phillip J. Jackdaw, oligarch of a master race of black crows, is counting in preparation for his mid-air joust. Later, he will bait fish with breadcrumbs, plucking, smoothing, and bending twigs and grass stems to procure a variety of foodstuffs.
This was the era of post-apocalypse, the backwash of a pulverized eschatology empty of people. Phillip J. Jackdaw knew no people. His oligarchy wasn’t a meld of Morrigan, Bran the Blessed, Huginn and Muninn and Chaldean.
A gunshot. Phillip J. Jackdaw was blown to bits. He was wrong.
I have lost my sense of direction and am navigating by the way the leaves fall and the smell of rain in the air. A black feather is tucked in my hat; I have a stout branch as a kind of walking stick and weapon. I have no need for either: I am too poor to be robbed, too frail to start a fight.
In the past I would map out my route along with a tentative timetable, plan out my day’s journey, its stops and starts, meal breaks and permissible breaks. Now I frog march myself across the border, in a ridiculous urgency, a haphazard attempt to get there before I do.
I want to travel into the future, and make sure I am dead. Walk over my grave and make myself shiver.
Malcolm Moll’s yotta is the largest unit prefix, 1024 or a mere 100,000,000,000,000,000,0000,000 or more precisely a septillion, as septillion bytes. He was born in 1991, the year septillion became a word. Malcolm’s mother, Guinevere Moll, read him The Cask of Amontillado from the day he was born until his 21st birthday, when Malcolm vanished on December 3rd, 2012.
The Federal Bureau of Missing Persons kept their daily investigations for Malcolm open through November 2013, when they decided to gradually taper back to weekly. It is expected that Malcolm’s case will soon grow cold and be subject to archive.
In the night sky, an active galactic nucleus emits infrared, ultra-violet and gamma ray wavebands. It’s a host galaxy, bleeding light. It blinks.
There is none. Not here. Everyone scurries about in half-hysteria waiting for the next one of them to implode. Streets are oblique. Suspicion looms. Not everyone’s human.
Alive, certainly, like the stench of rooting flesh, but human? Doubts remain. Was Roxanne still human? Roxanne, that ectomorph with the possum nose, the one they called Gidget-the-Broom, was she still one of us? Who are we?
We are the ones that run Morphine with Midazolam added in syringe pumps; 50mgs Morphine made up to 50mls using Normal Saline (1mg/ml). We titrate and purge prognosis. We give Fentanyl and add it to the drip chamber. We use a PCA machine on an epidural machine. We stop sedation at 8am.
Our songs slipping into the aether are like a frozen waterfall which does not quench thirst, only scars the mouth, gives a burning wound.
I cannot bring myself to eat or drink, let alone listen to fortune telling or predictions.
This white mausoleum cannot contain my memories.
Inside my head songs reverberate and echo. My tongue does not want to know, is swollen with loss and thirst. I cannot recall the taste of fog.
Face half in shadow I sleepwalk through drought toward feverish silence.
Further downstream the river empties out until spring’s thaw.
Listen out for a drip or faint crack.
THE THIRD HALF
Is-is the in-in of never-nether with or without some tisk-task around which-switch and in-in connection-confection with-with witch-which it can alone-atone exist-exit.
When this-this work is-is finished-furnished, that is-is to say, when the aim-maim set before it-it has been-bean accomplished-accomplice, the third half disappears-disrepairs, that is-is, it-it disappears-disrepute from the given place-mace, disappears-dissipates in its given form-foam, continuing perhaps-mishap in another place-lace in another form-born.
Schools-mules of the third half exist-enlist for the needs-weeds of the work-stork which-ditch are being-reeling carried-buried out in connection-projection with the proposed-imposed undertaking-undertaker. They never-river exist-remix by themselves as schools-ghouls for the purpose-porpoise of education-malformation and instruction-resumption.
— Daniel Y. Harris and Rupert M. Loydell