The Murder of Harlin Coke

“It can be done.”  A voice came from the moss and earth behind the cricket.  The cricket popped away from its place on the knot of a root, then dangled on a wire.  Its eyes flashed and went dark, like small lenses lit up from behind.  Earth and bits of moss began to fall away from the hole where the wire came through beside the root.  Pink, living fingers poked through, stunningly large and soft next to the dangling electronic cricket.

A tuxedoed arm plunged through the earthen ceiling.  Rocks and soil and bits of debris rained down into the dry grass.  Sailor and I scuffled quickly out of the way.  A whole man came through the ceiling, dropped onto the floor.  He landed lightly on his feet and stood still for a moment, facing us.  Earth and loam covered his tuxedo.  A sheaf of heavily inked, rough-edged notebook papers protruded from one of his trouser pockets.  One hand gripped some sort of remote control, wired to the cricket.  With a soft click, the wire popped off the cricket’s body and whipped back into the box of the remote.  A little electronic door snapped shut behind the wire.  The remote had a handle and a screen packed with incredibly detailed visual information.

“I love this thing,” said Epson, smiling slightly, jamming the remote into the inside pocket of his tuxedo, where it created an ungainly bulge.  He stooped down, pinched the robot cricket between his thumb and forefinger, and motioned for me to put my hand out.  I did.  He placed the insect, a tiny, elaborately engineered robot, at the center of my outstretched palm.  I heard a tick.  The cricket hopped once and then tipped over onto one side and was motionless.  I handed it back to him.

“Some toy,” Sailor said sarcastically, covering her shock.

Epson ignored her with some effort.  He pulled a fountain pen from another inside jacket pocket, and a piece of paper from one of his sleeves.  A cuff link fell off and disappeared into the soft floor of the hollow. He muttered something about blasted cuff links and cultural decay.  Then he looked up quickly.  While his eyes had heavy bags and his face four days or so of stubble, his movements were bright, energized.  He scratched at his tousled hair with his pen, licked its tip, and began scrawling notes, still standing on the pile of earth and debris he’d created when he’d plunged through the ceiling.

“Somewhat off script,” he said, still scrawling, “but well-played.  The erotic sex scene was marvelous…my Bob-Martin nearly shot its cream…although I wouldn’t have written it in when you did it.”  Then, a bit more quietly, he said, “That’s a beastly looking cock you have there, N.  Err, no offense, all very erotic, but my goodness…the poor fellow’s ugly as sin.  We could’ve given him a screen-test, you know, gotten a good wax penis to stand in for him.”

“It’s about sensation, not looks.”

“Err, right.”  Epson went back to his notes.  “Anyway, the drama between you, and all of that…again, the wishes were about getting out of the labyrinth, not about your relationship…which was a bit of a tangent…but, like I said, well-played, well-played.”

He finished up with his notes and stuffed them into his pocket with others.  He capped his pen, put it behind his ear, and slowly took a seat in the dried grass.  He blinked at us for a moment, sizing us up emotionally, then spoke again.

“Oh! And you did know that fellow Upi took a machine gun to Harlin Coke, did you not?  Totally off-script as well, shot him in his Buick while he was standing at a red light up in Seattle, somewhere off Denny Way, dead of night, horrible scene, Bonny-and-Clyde sort of stuff, body jumping from the gunshots, whole car riddled with holes, shattered glass everywhere, blood dripping from under the car door, godawful stuff…though I suppose that’s child’s play to you Americans…”  Epson trailed off, then cleared his throat and looked at us from under arched eyebrows.

“Anyway…you’re wearing condoms for the sex scenes, no?  I mean, we don’t have hazard pay for that…if one of you catches the clap from all that ejaculating that’s going on?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, it’s just, well, you know…safety first!”

Sailor and I sat stock still and stared.

 

(Back Door: Enter Harlin Coke into the search bar.)

 

 

 

Advertisements

It is the price you must pay…

“Yes it’s true,” the cricket said.  “But no matter this small discrepancy.  It is the price you must pay for this type of love…one of the seven types of love…  Although that is a tale for another time…”

I fell silent.  Even in my mind, no thought formed itself into words.

Sailor closed her eyes remorsefully.  She would have reached out to touch me, but she did not.  She kept her hands on her lap, her body curled, her space small.

“You still have one question,” said the cricket.

“What if I don’t?” asked Sailor.

“What do you mean,” asked the cricket, “You must want to know something!”

“What I mean is…what I really have is not so much a question…as a wish.”

“No matter; they are the same,” said the cricket.

 

Warped, keening sound

The thrill of forward motion poured through my limbs and spine, but as we sped down the corridor the thrill became fear…a vile, animal fear that something behind us, more terrible than any monster, would overcome us.  Now we ran in terror.  The warped, keening sound of the cricket filled our ears once more.

At this precise moment I realized I could hear Sailor’s thoughts inside my mind.

I’m afraid.

Me too, I thought.

Are we going to die?

Hold my hand.

We held hands.

Be brave, I thought.

The distant core of the tunnel was a pitch black hole.  We ran toward that core, with two bright streams of light speeding past us, terrified of what lay behind.

 

 

 

Cricket and Crow

The sound of wing beats filled the corridor.  A chaotic black shape sped toward us, covering and uncovering the caged lights as it flew.  In a burst of flapping wings, a crow alighted on the floor of the corridor, just short of where the cricket walked ahead of us.  The crow spread its wings low along the floor.  The bright red cricket took hold of a wingtip with its tiny feet, and crawled to the crown of the crow’s head.  The crow took off in a deafening chaos of wing beats, and vanished down the corridor.

“Follow them!” I cried.

We ran.

Just as we had been impelled by the cricket’s song to run up the side of the mountain through inky blackness…now we rushed headlong down the corridor, the lights racing past our eyes, blurring into a bright stream.  Our speed transcended human speed; the tempo of our feet on the concrete became so light and rapid we felt that we could have flown.

 

 

The Red Cricket

“Look,” she said.

At one end of the hollow space, a second door was visible, very similar to the one we’d used to climb into the tree: it was low-arched, wooden, with a large round doorknob.

I crawled toward it, pushing some of the grass aside as I did.  I took hold of the doorknob, turned it, and pushed the door open.  Light spilling out from the hollow revealed a dark tunnel marked by cage-like sconces containing darkened bulbs.

“Where are we?” asked Sailor.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but if feels familiar.”

I crawled in.  Sailor followed me.  Once clear of the door, we crawled along the tunnel, which opened up so that there was enough space for us to walk upright along a smooth concrete passageway.  The lights lining the corridor flickered on in their sconces.

It didn’t occur to me that someone knew we were there, and flipped a switch.  I felt oddly comfortable in the passageway, the same way one feels when visiting the home of an old friend.  It was then that I remembered Sailor’s family had vacationed in these mountains years before.  We walked slowly, side by side.

“Do you know anything about this tunnel,” I asked quietly as we walked, “Does local lore say anything about it?”

“An old story says one of these mountain peaks contains a hidden volcanic lake with a giant ship floating on it.   According to the story, a magician lives inside the ship…”

“Not by chance the same magician who built this..?”

I pointed.  The passageway plunged deep into the mountain.  As the lights grew further from us they appeared smaller, closer together, a strand of bright yellow points that vanished at an inestimable distance, deep inside the mountain.

“Look!”

Sailor pointed to the floor.  Perhaps fifteen feet ahead of us walked a cricket, inching its way along, as if acting as our guide. The cricket was a vivid, shiny red.   Enchanted, we walked faster to get a closer look.  We heard the click of the cricket’s feet on the concrete, and saw that it was in fact a tiny robot, its metal limbs painted with the smooth red enamel. The cricket jumped, keeping its position ahead of us, not letting us close too much distance.

Echoing sound gradually filled the corridor.  I recognized the same warped, high melody we’d heard in the forest just before the wind and the rain had drowned it out.  Sailor and I were astonished that the cricket’s body could produce music of such amplitude and detail.

 

Rift

I woke up, in a bed high above the floor.  A ladder led down from the bed, into deeper darkness.  The sound of a passing car came to me from across the room.  A grid of golden line segments moved at a diagonal path across the narrow band of wall before me.  I looked across the room.  I could smell dust.  There was a large window, shuttered.  The shutter’s ventilation holes let through hundreds of tiny ovals of golden light.

Where was I?

Was it morning?  Afternoon?

Rooms I had slept in flashed through my mind.  A foam mattress on a damp wood floor in a tenement in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  A cheap hotel in the red light district of Frankfurt.  A motel room rented as an apartment in Sacramento, California.

No.  No.  No.

None of them.

Then I heard a woman’s voice.  Calm.  Sensual.

“…you okay?”

It was my lover’s voice.

And this part is important:  It was sound which oriented me.  Not sight.  But a human voice.  I heard two words from her and I was home.  In an instant.  In the current year.

How long had I slept, I wondered.

“It’s the morning,” she said.  “I went down to start some water but I got worried and came back up.  You were starting to sit up, but it was weird.  You looked like something was wrong.”

I laid my head down again.  I looked at her.  She saw something in my eyes.

“I feel crazy.”

“Go back to sleep,” she said.

I closed my eyes, listened to her voice…

She told me about how it can happen, sometimes, during a time of change…

…A person’s short and long term memory will come to stand at equal distance. A single thought of here and now will have even odds with thoughts of all other places, all other moments.  In this state, a person will dream his way through his own biography, sorting everything…  Whatever his dream, it will correspond to a moment in his life, to the smell of a room, the warmth of a sunbeam, the glow of dust in the air.  His imagination will prepare him to waken in that room.  The feeling of that room will occupy his mind at dawn, at the instant he opens his eyes.  But the preparation will be false.  He will feel one thing, and see another.  And he will not know where he is.

This was how she explained it to me.

I wanted to right myself.  “Can I just go back to sleep?” I asked, “Are you gonna be here?”

“Yes,” she said, “You need rest.”

“I know…  I had a dream,” I said, my eyes still closed, “that I asked you something…You didn’t answer, and I asked again.”

She nodded.

“…and there was this bird, a crow, I think…”

I didn’t finish.

Sailor brushed the backs of her fingers across the side of my cheek.  Then she disappeared down the ladder, into deeper darkness.  I heard the roil of water on the stove.  I was not confused by this.  It is a sound I love.

By the time she was gone, I was asleep.

 

(Back Door:  Go to the tab above marked Entrances and choose your door.)

(Front Door: Enter Sideways or Then again I was screaming into the search bar.)

Vagina Envy

I kept my eyes shut tight.  The rushing grew, and hurt my ears.  Overwhelmed, I sighed…  I felt that I was being fucked, and let my head drift back, as if supported by a cloud…

Now, dear reader, I turn to you to say I know it’s absurd for me to say I changed from man to woman and came until I vanished…

…but all curiosity about sensations in the other gender’s skin…at the height and glory of a sexual act…

…all your womanly desire to have a red-hot phallus tip, and glide it, slippery in, while another woman cries, as if your clitoris thrived and squirmed at the head of an aching pillar, which you buried in her come…

…all desire to have your sex within you…and to have it driven to acutest points, as with the deepest, wettest envies of a man…

…all these desires and curiosities within me were so filled they escaped description, except to say the pleasure was so great as to annihilate the sensate image of one’s utmost erotic wish, causing me to question how I’d ever been a man…for this crying out, this flooding…this pounding, and opening of self…of genitals, and guts, and heart, and brain…this orgasmic splitting of my spine; it was so deep that while my spirit burned blue and and hot enough to melt all else before, and all else after…I came with neither dream nor memory; I  came as neither man nor woman, I came flat-out, as sex itself…

…and at that moment-

…when my skull was changed to liquid into which I was absorbed, and lost myself, my skin, my voice, my breath and bones, which melded, one with air, as ecstasy did express itself from every follicle and pore…

and my head became the sky, and the sky my head, and a lightning storm shot through all and lit the earth, passing through the gap between my legs, which gap in turn shot up my spine…’til my head burst open with pleasurable force, and my crotch did shudder me and shake me into atoms, into air, into purest fucking…

-I was GONE.