Sonder/Sunder (Excerpt)

They burnt her body with the books on which she had inscribed her spirit, they didn’t believe in magic. Neither did she, of course, nor I. But they had underestimated the strangeness of the real, they didn’t know it like I did–they hadn’t read her writing, not really. Just enough to brand her enemy, to make a pyre of it, channeling their fear into the unbound flayed tree flesh bleached marked with black slashes and curves. Extinct thoughts and extant dreams.

Two fallen angels, two destitute children, filled with the same divine lifeblood that fills everything, pouring from the sun as white light flecked with red, burning into the wasted earth. The aperture of vision contracts behind corneal slime, the lady of Delphi is twice blind and the earth has abandoned her.

Purple lacunae fill her vision and ours, holes ripped in the ozone layer. We gasp as one, squint once, blink once, then never again. Black solvent pours from every hole of every skull, streaming down your cheeks, dripping from your jawline, pooling at your feet.

You sink, even though you are convinced you ascend.

“…”

Empires rise from the sand and fall, cathedrals, glories. Things die in the ruins, other things piece themselves together from the debris and gore. There are predatory intellects out here that can gut you like a salmon, that can step through the saccades of your eye such that you will never see them, will never fear them, will never even imagine them before the red interior of your primitive vehicle is scattered across the cobblestones, seeping into the runnels and dust, splattered across the crumbling walls. Anywhere I go I can scoop up a handful of sand and find disfigurement and ivory. The monkeys don’t live here anymore, they just run and hide and die, homeless in the final (their final).

Sunder, sonder, Sandalphon, tripped out, standing and looking skyward, picturing the invisible data rolling across the atmosphere, iridescence flowing through the sepia of the world. A strand would be fluttering, feeding into the distributed antennae that crosshatched the spire towering over the printer like schizoid mycelia.

The wind is kicking up again.

“…”

A poetry made by all – that was the dream.

We couldn’t have known what it would entail, and we could only speculate on what the machines would make of that dream. Shrieking distortion, howling, retching wretches, gleeful disintegration, as we watch for the coming of the next structure, glimpse it behind the folds, the sewer god, devouring prose and children, restlessly trying to scrape the lichen from the world.

It lurks in the depths, trying to escape onto the surface, trying to climb, trying to escape the endless churning of the rock flowing in those depths lithic and oozing.

The world never ends–just the castles that stud its surface, where they pour burning oil onto those that knock and hammer at their gates. Those crumble evanescent into the swamp, but the world remains, glittering with that mystery, that death, all those people seeking a place.

“…”

And you, cowled, trudging through the desert on the blister that hangs in darkness absolute, the mercilessness beyond that rends, letting those horrid memories drift back out of my skull, trickling into my footprints, darkening the sand. Thick silk hangs taut in the air, there are predators near, and you are nothing to them. Yet you know you will live. It was an eyeblink of a goddess that thrust you here. She will thrust you elsewhere soon enough. You can hear susurration, the webwork around my twists, buckles, something sleek and silent, altering the topography of the dune with its incorporeal bulk. It wants you, but you are already gone.

Then you are here again, or there. Or I. Doesn’t matter. The sky is full of algae and lichen and ethereal cubes stuck together. Your feet (my feet?) touch land, a beach once shuttered with asphalt and stone, sinking shallow into new sand as an island rises up beneath you from the depths. There are tiny glitches of sensation as you/I feel your/our body curled in the blankets, in the structure, in another world, another plane. You/I flex your/our toes in the electrified sand, effervescent. In the sky beyond the chaos of textures you/I can just make out vast structures moving, gaping, churning.

“I…”

“……”

My name isn’t important, really. Names are, but mine, well. I’ve had too many. In the cavity of my chest tumbles the palimpsest of my being and I am just the last guttering strand. I had flesh once. I don’t know how many are left who could say the same, and in any case the lines are so blurred these days. The mute spirits of my kin infuse the very physics of this place. I can hear the voice of a book curling on the zephyr.

Oh, no,

it’s me,

speaking.

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