Tag Archives: clarion

We Shall Meet Again In The Nightmare Machine

when our souls are stolen out from high
and our once-flesh memories run dry
we shall meet again in the nightmare machine

when the primordial ooze of life turns to waste
and our callow carbon copies crumble in haste
we shall meet again in the nightmare machine

when our weak words are ripped apart —
linguistic entrails, bleeding art —
and sounds eviscerate the start
we shall meet again in the nightmare machine

Autojektor (excerpt)

The pug-faced soldier rolled a gurney into the room, the Combrig entering behind him. The cadaver was covered with a sheet and as it pushed past me I could tell that the body was still warm.

“This one made its own incisions for us,” Combrig Milkin said with a laugh.

Sergei lifted the sheet and looked thoughtfully at his new specimen. “This is a fresh corpse,” he said as laid the sheet back over its head.

“Less than six hours old,” the Combrig said. “He was known to cause some problems in the square, and my men went to his home to ask him several questions. We had heard rumors of his…deviant life style. The pervert chose to end his life instead of giving any answers. I suspect to hide his lover’s mom, but no matter. We shall wipe out all such degenerates in time. Well, what are you waiting for?”

Sergei gave me an affirmative nod and I went straight to work while he entertained the Combrig. I removed the sheet that covered the corpse and though I saw its features clearly, its chiseled jawline, slender build, and shaggy blonde hair, my mind refused to comprehend the horror that lay before me.

Dmitry. My poor, sweet Dima.

I stood there frozen, staring at the body of my love, for how long I do not know, until I was interrupted by the bellow of the Combrig. “Well, boy? What are you waiting for?”

“My apologies, sir. I’ve never seen a corpse so raw,” I said. I slipped the rubber tubing into the incisions on his wrists and watched his blood, his life pour out of him and into the machine. Thank you I lipped to him, though I knew he could read me. I remained silent as I watched the autojektor bring his vital fluid back to life. The men behind me talked and laughed and I felt as though they were miles away.

The machine worked swiftly on his fresh body. Though his was larger than the child we had previously worked on, his remains were warm enough that the autojektor had no problem returning his circulation. I watched the life return to his body and as the hours passed I did not say a word.

The evening waned on, and though his heart was beating with the help of the machine, Combrig Milkin grew increasingly restless. “Can you disconnect the machine?” asked Comrade Bryukhonenko. “Will his heart beat yet without its aid?”

“I do not know, Comrade,” I said.

“Then you will find out. And if that does not work, there are plenty more where that one came from,” said Combrig Milkin. But he was wrong. There were no more like this one.

I went to pull the rubber tubing from his wrists when Dmitry gasped for air. His eyes flung open and looked straight into mine, looked inside of me, and I reached out and turned off the machine.

EndProgram.txt (excerpt)

“The cause of death was determined to be liquid damage. I am sorry for your dataloss,” says the brown-skinned man at the Customer Service desk.

“Yes. Thank you,” Walter responds, dragging his tongue along the bottom of his burly white mustache. He stands over the Bot, laid at rest in its original packaging, its freshly buffed shell surrounded by decorative bubble wrap. Its unlit LED eyes remain open, two black and empty vessels not-staring at the sky. “Although technically its not my data. I designed the model, but it’s an autonomous intelligence, so I never…” Walter hesitates. He drags his hand down his face, stretching out the skin and wiping spittle from his upper lip. “We never really had much of a relationship.”

The Customer Service representative grips Walter’s right hand with his own, then places his left hand atop their joined shake. He closes his eyes and nods solemnly and says, “We must all grieve in our own ways. No man should have to bury a son.” He looks at Walter but does not move his hands.

Walter swallows and tries to collect himself. “I…thank you. But again, I just designed the model. It’s not my son, it’s…” he says, slowly pulling his arm away. A look of disgust and confusion washes over his face. “Is the hard drive…where is whatever was inside of him?” He waves a hand over the Bot’s face, closing the thin metal lids that protect its optical receptors. The unliving alloy on its face is freezing to his touch.

“We replaced all the hardware after the autopsy, so everything that was there should still be inside of it. Sometimes we do reclaim or refurbish parts if it’s in the Bot’s contract, but even then we usually wait until after the funeral.” The brown-skinned man smiles sadly at Walter. He bobs their cluster of hands up-and-down like buoys on a calm sea before he finally lets go.

“Could you figure out why it did that? Why it would…I thought I programmed these machines to be smarter than that. If it’s something I did then I should know so I can fix it. If you recovered any data at all then maybe –”

The man behind the desk bows his head and slowly shakes it left to right. “The liquid damage to the hard drive is too great. The corrosion is irreversible. Now, if you don’t have any other questions, I can take the unit into the back so we can begin preparing it for tomorrow’s showing.”

Walter’s face remains neutral as he looks the Bot up and down once more. He reaches into the box and lifts its clunky, lifeless left arm. With his other hand he traces the scratches where its forearm extension meets the grabber and the end, then lets the ingot extremity thunk back into its crate.

“No,” Walter says as he looks back at the brown-skinned man. “That should be all. Thank you.” He watches the man roll the coffin away. He does not cry.

Godless

Simon cannot close his eyes any more. He has spent the last three days trying to hide himself in slumber, smothering his face beneath the sheets, but his damned and dying flesh has now rested far too long. On the second day he tried to suffocate himself with a pillow, and as the phosphenes of asphyxiation flooded into sight, he thought he saw the hand of Christ beckoning his body. But as Simon reached out to grab His hand, he was forced to face the truth that he was left alive, doomed by Christ to never die, to never find His kingdom.

He had come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. And Simon had been deemed unworthy. And so he has been sitting in his own shit for three whole days, a pestilential penance for the double life that he had led, the lies he’d told his lover, and the loss that he’d been dealt.

Simon sees the streaks of sunlight sneaking in through the slits of his blinds.  He shifts his torso to try to get a peek behind the shades without leaving Maggie’s side in their bed. That is to say, where she was before the Rapture. As he moves he hears the squish of the urine-soaked mattress. The liquid sound sends a signal to his brain that his body needs water, needs food, needs some kind of nourishment. But he’s too afraid to move, to see the flames beyond the window as the Devil lays waste to the land. Simon can’t remember what happens after Revelations, and he’s terrified to find out. Even worse, he’s afraid of nothing at all. That God has left, and with Him has gone order, the structure of things, and now there is no one left to make the world happen.

“Ding-dong, motherfucker!” the mob outside screams. “God is dead, you assholes! We fucking won!” Their chanting is set to the thick rhythmic bass tones of a pop song blasting from a large subwoofer. Before he infiltrated the church, Simon would have been out there celebrating with them. Now he’s not sure what to celebrate. Did they win the war, that legion of sinners outside? The Conservative Christian literalists they’d railed against for so long were finally gone, leaving the rest of the world free to revel in debauchery. But the Rapture was real, and those hate-mongering zealots who were God’s chosen followers had been whisked away to live with Him in Heaven. A never-ending gift in return for their devout service: a land without sin, without sinners, without suffering.

But Simon still wonders who has truly won: those who were right, or those who are left? And which side does that leave him on?

Then he hears a window smash somewhere on the compound. Then another, then another, then another on the ground of the house, followed by the sucking sound of flames filling up the space. Simon feels the heat begin to rise from underneath.

Kitchen Sex

She’d been sautéing the seat of his spatula surreptitiously, boiling beneath the overhang of the bar throughout the party, and as she mashed the keys to get into her hotel room, Chad was overcome with a fleeting moment of sobriety, wondering which way the whiskey would affect him — turning his strainer into a still and unfeeling eggbeater, or an absolute butter knife. The worry washed over him but quickly went away as the door popped open and Katie stirred him inside the room by his tie. She had already mixed his food processor out from his griddle before he even had a chance to get his bearing straight, or figure out where in the room they stood. She coagulated gently on his microwave, slowly combining him towards her with her vegetable crisper as she fried his pot.

“I got it,” he said. He chopped the pan and separated the ladle from its loops, then defrosted her like a jungle cat in heat, toasting his muddler as he melted the path from her can opener, around her bottle opener and up to her spoon, which he baked around to the back of her spatula and began to sauté her pan. She separated a slow and sensuous griddle and as she fried he mixed her food processor against him, her microwave coagulating between his ladle and chopping his swollen butter knife with a slow and slight twist, mashing it around in her smooth vegetable crisper. Chad continued to defrost her spoon, toasting in the strainer that boiled her pot, and coagulated his muddler up to her left can opener. It mixed perfectly in the cupped pan and he separated his bottle opener slowly inward, defrosting the firm and fatty strainer. Katie melted his egg beater, using its strength to boil herself closer to him. She chopped her way down his microwave until she stirred its thick ladle and started combining pans along his microwave where it became a swelling spoon. She burned their weight in her scooped spatula and slowly baked each muddler around her microwave, giving the entire bottle opener a gentle boil.