SOMA - San Francisco, CA
Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM
See that false burrito. See it swaddled in tinfoil on the desk in the bowels of that great tower, a bundle of meat and sauce in a place long ago ceded to silicone and copper. The stooped man eating that peasant…
[welp, it’s that time that I start writing again, now that the chaos of finals are over. Here’s an attempt at horror. I promise some less… odd stuff will come soon after. I’ve been cranking out a short story a day, more or less, and I think I’ll post any that are halfway decent in mind. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but the opening was very concrete in my mind when I started writing. Feedback is always appreciated.]
Edit: the opening has been changed to be less Russian.
Come and See (Draft One)
a short story by Dillon Swensen
I am a sick man, I am an ugly man. I think I will destroy myself. I don’t say these things for gratification or out of a desire for pity. I say these things merely to give you an impression of me. Imagine a man with dirty brown hair, curled slightly at the tips to better frame dark plastic rimmed glasses. My hands shake frequently, and my mouth is practically nonexistent, disappeared within a tightly clenched expression. I am unnoticeable in a crowd, an indistinct man. I am not the emptiest thing I know, however, and I take pride in this knowledge.
I live in the suburbs, which, for those unfamiliar with this concept, is a construct first created in America when we realized we did not love our neighbors like the pastors told us to, and wanted the narcotic illusion of separation granted by white picket fences and cul-de-sacs. It is rural life without the calm or the peace that must come with true distance from the world.
I worked for a firm, which, for those unfamiliar with a firm, is an agency which makes slogans and pictures to better facilitate the concept of consumerism. We convince people they need things in order to be popular, or a man, or simply to have whatever their next door neighbors have not yet bought. We convince people they need to forever outpace and outcompete their peers, as if the world is still caught in some sort of evolutionary rat race. As if we haven’t long since overcome any natural thing. I do not work at this firm anymore.
I used to commute thirty minutes… thirty minutes! Alone in a box of metal, separate and distinct and racing at speeds that should be incomprehensible to me – I commuted, like everyone else.
I used to go to bars and go on dates. I used to occasionally bring girls home. I used to be attractive, not for my appearance but for easy confidence and the intimation of wealth, implied through custom-tailored suits and intimate knowledge of expensive drink orders. That went to hell a long time ago.
Now I line tripwires through my hallways before I go to sleep, check my security cameras for abnormalities. Now I fear the eyeless ones, the empty ones with skins of leather. I set up more security cameras, outside my windows, facing the front lawn. I cannot allow them to penetrate these walls. These walls are all that remain, sturdy and resolute and I’m sure they could penetrate them but they don’t, they keep outside. The eyeless ones keep outside.
My hands are shaking as they always are now. I pour myself a drink, swallow it in gulps. It is bitter but it is warming and there can be solace in that, empty solace but chemical reassurance is the only sort that works anymore. I cannot call anyone. I cannot even pray. The world would think me insane, God would think me insane. Maybe I am insane. But I am safe. There remains a pistol in my endtable. I have not taken it out except to press it against my own temple, but suicide is a coward’s way out. I am not a coward. If that is all I have left, I shall take that knowledge to my grave.
Do I live in fear? Of course I live in fear. There are eyeless men with pallid skin who walk my lawn in the twilight hours when the sun is rising and setting. My house is set too far back from the main subdivision for anyone else to notice or to come to my aid. So they establish their nightly vigil, always watching, always whispering in their clammy voices that do not come from any visible lips.
I see one now. He stands in my driveway, on the black tarmac. He feels empty, and when he looks at me I see no face. His suit is made of muted colors and while he stares he speaks. “Come and see.” But I do not want to see so I do not come out. I am tempted to run back to the endtable and find the pistol. I am tempted to shoot him, even through the window. But what good would it do? He would still be standing there.
And the neighbors would think of me as deranged, if I was to shoot at imaginary men.
They must be imaginary, but I still do not want to come and see. I know what they will show me. I know they will show me emptiness. They will show me the nothing that they are. They have nothing else to show.
I use many various clocks and watches in different parts of the house to track the flow of time. I have several and they all show me different things. Some move quickly, some move slowly. Sometimes it feels as if minutes pass over hours and sometimes the night spins by so fast I swear the stars are moving. The day is my reprieve and I collect more bourbon and I collect more food. I have money to survive for a long time – I was in a firm.
“Come and see.”
I know what you want me to see. I know it is the darkness.
You want me to gaze into the abyss. You wonder if it will blind me as it has blinded you. I have no need for your abyss. I will endure, and I will live on. You do not dare break the barriers, and if you do I can shoot you.
Proximity alarm. First floor main door. I close the bedroom door, lock it. I take the gun out from under the endtable. I can shoot something in my house. That is something I can do.
I turn on the radio. Johnny Cash. I turn off the radio.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of the darkness these things wanted me to see, visualize a bottomless pit. Now picture a person that is the summation of such a concept. Picture a dead soul, an empty thing. Watch it take all faith, all hope for a beneficent god from you. Watch it drain you of emotion; watch it take your confidence and your vitality. Watch it leave you a rotten shell without calm, a neurotic storyteller dictating to a tape recorder.
Be glad I’m insane. Be glad these things are not real.
Then wonder, deep down, if you didn’t get that backwards. Maybe these things drove me insane. Maybe they are real. Maybe, after hearing this, they’ll consider you their next victim. Maybe you shouldn’t look out your window right now.
Because no one would believe you if you said that faceless men in pale suits were tracking your every move. They’d lock you up for all time; give you a nice padded room but that padded room would have a little window, a little viewing slit so that you could see out into the hallway. And there’d be an eyeless face there. Soon you’d be shaking in unholy terror, under that eyeless face. And you’d be under that eyeless face for all time – it would wait there and it would draw out the seconds into hours and make every night last an eternity in your own mind just so that you had to suffer even a fraction of the darkness it suffered every moment of its existence.
The doctors would never believe you. They would never see the nightly visitor, the only visitor, returning even after your family abandoned you, gave up on you, realized that you just finally cracked like they always knew you would and it’s such a shame, such a crying shame because he was such a creative mind, if only it hadn’t turned to such a dark place.
The eyeless faces won’t ever abandon you.
One day, when some helping hand opens the door, you’d come and see, because at least that will be a blessed change. As the days pass into years, for you as they have for me you will welcome it, at least partially.
Proximity alarm. Second floor landing. A shotgun blast as the electronic tripwire is triggered. I got creative with the second floor landing, but yet I don’t hear the reassuring slumping fall of a body. I hear footsteps, and then, a gentle knocking.
“Come and see.”
Nah, I would like to wait a bit. I don’t want anything you have to show me. As far as indescribable horrors go, you’re like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Can I talk to you about your Lord and Savior?”
I can’t laugh at my own joke.
I’m going to put a bullet through the door. I’m going to put a bullet through my head. Fortunately, I’ve installed a peephole in my bedroom door. I stare out, and am unsurprised by the sight.
A pale suit and an eyeless face.
I stumble back; I clutch the gun so hard a bullet slams through my floor. My hands are shaking, they are always shaking and I look at a watch on my bedside table and every second is taking a minute and every minute might as well be a lifetime.
I am sick. I am insane and I suck down bottles of bourbon so I don’t have to look and see that the darkness is on my doorstep. I vomit the liquor back into my carpet. I fire three more rounds, each one providing only another avenue for an eyeless face to stare into my room, violate me with an impossible gaze.
I could wait it out if the night wasn’t moving by at the pace of a crawling slug, leaving a trail of slime back across my memories, making each one stick and rot deeper into my mind. And yet there is a bottomless abyssal shadow that lies just beyond my doorstep, and it provides me all the reason I need to never leave. I feel as if I at the top of a tall building, and yet there is no road beneath me, only infinite space.
“Come and see.” They chant, and each chant becomes a drumbeat, a single iteration of a mallet striking canvas.
I think I soon shall see. When you are atop a building, it is remarkably easy to fall off. A single step, a single push so soft as to be accidental, a gust of high wind. And the precipice is yawning outwards. They are knocking against the door, pressing it open and all the bolts, all the multiform bolts that keep this door secure are creaking and sliding against their weight. I have two bullets left. I put another through the door; I place the pistol against my temple.
Most suicides fail. Many cause permanent brain damage. The instinctual, subconscious intention is always to botch the attempt. And I don’t want to be remembered as a coward. Or a vegetable, for that matter.
Proximity alarm. Bedroom. The last tripwire snaps with a force that should sever limbs. I got creative towards the end. I always was creative. That was always the compliment I received as a child. “Why, you’re quite creative.”
Now there is a certain sort of compliment in asking me to come and see. I’m worthy of seeing, even if I already know all they can show me. But knowing what the bottom of a cliff is like is not the same as actually jumping.
It’s not the ground that kills you, after all. It’s the falling.
I heard a clear voice in the midst of the drumbeat repetition.
“Come and see.”
And I saw.
Burn AAAAAAAAAAAAALL the calories!!!
Fierce sex session is my new favorite phrase. “Excuse me love, would you like to have our fierce sex session now? It burns 200 calories!”
Me, answering questions, purely out of a sick desire to procrastinate on studying. And yes, I’m just going to answer them. Because waiting for people to ask me to answer them is stupid.
A. If you could get away with one murder in your lifetime without any legal, social, or emotional repercussions, would you kill someone?
I’d contract it out to the highest bidder, assuming that I don’t go to hell for it. That’s a repercussion in my book. And one that would make it decidedly not worthwhile.
B. What is your first thought when you receive a message on Tumblr, are you excited for the idea of someone from potentially the other side of the world wanting to talk to you or fearful that someone will criticize you?
Utter shock that anybody would bother.
C. Have you ever looked down on someone because you thought your religious views were superior?
I look down on this survey because I am inherently superior to it, but that’s not a religious view per se. Yeh, no.
D. Would you rather know everything the universe has to offer but in exchange lose all emotions or remain the way you are now?
If I know everything the universe has to offer, I could probably figure out a way to get my emotions back. But seriously, can’t I just take the Odin option and lose an eye or something? SOOO much more convenient than emotions.
E. If you could live and be healthy without sleeping or eating/drinking, which would you cut out of your life?
Sleep. It would be kind of badass and I could work an extra job. Plus, the sheer awesome of just looking at somebody and being all like “bitch, I don’t sleep.” Plus, nobody would ever be able to sneak up on you.
F. If you could take on the exact body and form of anyone else on Earth, who would it be?
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
literary references aside, Joel McHale. That way I could be more attractive than someone whose paid to be attractive. :P jokes aside, I dunno. Have to think about that one. I’d rather just be a shapeshifter.
G. Would you rather burn or freeze to death?
H. If it meant it would solve all world hunger, war, disease and bigotry, would you spend the rest of eternity in Hell?
Nope. I haven’t ended pain and suffering, just a few arbitrary human-defined things. End pain and suffering, then maybe I’ll have to think about it.
I. Was the first crush in your life something you had or something someone had on you?
Well I remember the first girl I had a crush on. I don’t recall who the first girl who had a crush on me was. Neither interest me in the slightest to think about.
J. Could you live without having sex ever (again) in exchange for eternal youth?
Ask Dorian Gray, what’s the point of eternal youth if you can’t get laid?
K. Have you ever watched a full length pornographic movie?
Have I ever watched a full length porno all the way through? No. Have I ever accidentally subjected myself to a mislabeled tape of midget porn? Briefly.
L. The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
M. If you could have the ability to manipulate matter or energy, which would you choose?
Matter. Although frankly, matter and energy are in some ways interchangeable concepts. And either way I’d practically be Doctor Manhattan or a way toned down version of God. Although if we’re being literalistic, I can manipulate matter now.
N. What was the worst nightmare you ever had?
I don’t remember it. Of the ones I remember, probably the one where my beard fell out.
O. Would you rather spend one year with your one true love just to never see them again or the rest of your life with second best?
This presumes I have a true love. I’d treasure the chance to have a year with the person on earth I was generally most compatible with ever or something, and then go pick up the second best on my own. Because fuck you, arbitrary decisions.
P. All the sequels/remakes/adaptations/rip-offs in movies nowadays, good or bad?
You presume sequels, remakes, adaptations, and whatnot are a new phenomenon. They’re not. Everything is based in something or a remade/reconcieved version of something which came before. Don’t worry your little head over it, survey. Life will go on.
Q. Would you rather be dirt poor and emotionally fulfilled in life or be rich beyond imagination and emotionally dissatisfied for life?
How poor? Like western country poor or like third world poor? Makes a big difference. If I have to be third-world levels of poverty, I choose rich. I can buy enough drugs to ignore my sadness anyways.
R. Do you have any (secret) feelings of bigotry to any group of people?
I hate two groups of people. Those who are intolerant of other cultures, and the Dutch.
S. Would you rather be the only person in the world that can read minds or have everyone else in the world be able to read minds except for your own?
Only person who could read minds. Although eventually it would get depressing, I’d have all of the fun.
T. If everyone in the world would automatically only know one language, which language would you choose?
U. If you were old enough and not in a situation where it would be inappropriate, would you sleep with one of your (past) school teachers/professors?
Nope. I’ve honestly never really been hot for teacher.
V. A world without religion, good, bad, neutral?
Bad. A lot of people need faith in a higher power. Not all do. It’s a personal preference, but it’s not one that should be arbitrarily taken away from people. People would find other ways to carry out hate and intolerance without faith, and nothing would really be improved, but some people would always be dissatisfying and wondering what they lost. Although a world without religion is like saying a world without humanity. From the beginning we’ve had legends.
W. The men’s rights movement, legitimate cause or laughable, and why?
Men should have rights. Women should have rights. Those rights should be equal. Men do not need anyone to protect their rights in our society, anymore than the CEOs of Exxon need someone to protect their rights.
X. You can eliminate one of your five senses to substantially strengthen the others, which one and would you do it?
My sense of time.
Y. Do looks mean anything to you? Don’t lie, could you fall in love with someone you thought was ugly?
I couldn’t fall in love with someone who was ugly, because the act of falling in love with someone generally makes them attractive to me. Otherwise, I’m an immensely vain person and looks are rather important to me as a concept. It’s one of my many flaws.
Z. Can you understand the mindset and logic used by the opposite spiritual opinion? An atheist understanding the belief in a higher power and vice versa.
Of course. Empathy is a natural human trait.
I can seriously imagine Albus and James swapping chocolate frog cards and all their friends are like ‘OMG THE BOY WHO LIVED GUYS’ and they don’t even bat an eyelid ‘Yeah got the real one at home bit of a tosser really’
bit of a tosser really
Bleh, Dumbledore taking out Grindelwald was a bigger accomplishment. Dude was the rightful owner of the Elder Wand and Albus still kicked his ass. And Harry really is a bit of a tosser.
This picture is in time with the average heart rate. What you’re hearing is the sound of your blood pumping, which you aren’t normally aware of. This picture tricks your mind into making yourself aware of your heart rate, so you hear it.
MIND = BLOWN 1000000 X
Breaking news. Pandas don’t actually want to mate with the females of their species because the backs of asian guys heads offer far more enjoyable humping targets. Now on to Tom, with the weather.
Whenever people say “such and such is what the founding fathers intended”
I want to reply: “the founding fathers didn’t have weapons that could destroy cities, instantaneous worldwide communications, multinational corporations, large-scale global banking that effects the lives of everyone, an interlinked global economy, pet ostriches, control over a superpower with global commitments, satellites that could see even the smallest details of a penny dropped in the street, or diets that could see them living past their mid sixties at best.”
Things might have changed a teensy bit.
- Women make up 50.7% of the United States population
- Women make up 17.0% of the United States Senate
- Women make up 16.6% of the United States House of Representatives
- Women make up 12.0% of governors of U. S. states
- Women make up 0.0% of current/past Presidents of the United States
The problem is clear.
There are too many women in America.
So, I hate to self-promote, but if everybody could check out my new blog:
The Impractical Survival Guide - for all those situations normal survival guides just forget to cover.
I’d try to describe it but really, you should just see for yourself. Updated as close to regularly as humanly possible.