by D. Harlan Wilson
An eight-story mummy chases my wife and I from conurbation to conurbation. It looks like a Victorian smokestack—tall and slender, rusted and nuanced with age. We evade the mummy until I find the manuscripts in a gym locker, pinned to the bottom shelf by two lacquered paperweights. They belong to the mummy. I take the paperweights and run.
I hear a magistrate in the mall above us. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announces into a microphone. “Let us watch the slaves fuck.”
My wife pushes the tension from my spine with her knuckles and thumbs. She minds the lumbar region. Groaning, I make a decision to act spontaneously today. Let the day have its way. Whatever will be will bleed . . .
Overhead a slave cums in his partner’s mouth. The audience becomes hysterical in the classical sense of the term, and the magistrate must summon his guard to steer the masses out of a depressive state with speculative weapons. “People have been cuming in each other’s mouths for thousands and thousands of years,” the magistrate reminds everybody. “We have just witnessed an act of unbridled normalcy.”
Through the blinds I see a man with a prosthetic hand amble onto the stage. Either he is a good actor or he genuinely doesn’t know which side of the curtain he is on. In a loud whisper, I urge him to take cover, but he doesn’t hear me, and soon he succumbs to a “violent hatred.” I know this because the playwright has arbitrated a careless recidivism of the phrase in the man’s soliloquy.
“And now I will completely embrace this rockstar life. I will wrap both arms around it and love it violently. And defend it violently—through violent hatred. I am fueled by a violent hatred for my superiors. I am on a drug and the drug is called Me. Through the medium of violent hatred, I will come to terms with Me. Me is all I have, and violent hatred fills the dark, long void between a mountain and an antihill.”
I follow my wife up a fire escape.
An adjudicator has declared collective-bargaining unions unconstitutional on the rooftop. Committee chairs stand there idly, blinking, mouths half open, moist beards and bald heads gleaming in the sun. I see the mummy’s skull flash past the gargoyles as it jogs around the building. It found us. I surmise that the paperweights have been equipped with a tracking device. I toss them aside and realize it was a tracking aura. A solar corona defines the contours of my marriage.
Loud bell towers stain the palate of sky; my senses implode in a fit of synesthesia, and I worry about Gene Hackman, who is old, in his 80s now, and hasn’t made a movie for over six years. He could die at any moment.
A genius loci leads me in an bewildering direction. Taken aback, I find myself in bed with another woman, her hair spiked, her skin sour and rigid, like a sea horse. As she pleasures me I explain that it’s only because of the trauma of the mummy, a Return of the Repressed in massive and compacted quantities, that I allow her to interpolate the fringes of my selfhood. “My body possesses no meaning,” I say. “Nor does the act you perform upon it. Nothing you do will change me. But I can’t admit to being comfortable with the demise of Gene Hackman. And I can’t stop drinking red wine. Eight ounces per night—I can’t stop. And nobody will give me an intervention.
“I need to bottom out. Danger looms. There is a secret abuse in my past. I’m a lesbian. Figuratively, I mean. I’ve never told anybody that. I didn’t expect it to happen. But at least I have my health. I am very healthy.” I cum in her mouth and slip away before I regret it.
The remarkable fever—it surges like a government-subsidized economic stimulation package. I vomit and stop glowing. Nobody knows where I am. I expose myself to extreme chemicals, to freezing temperatures, then submerge my extremities in a bog. At last, patterns of recognition flood the social bloodstream. In order to prevent being scavenged by jackals and hyenas, I pile flagstones atop my chest and anticipate my continuance in the afterlife where the bedsheets make themselves and ritual designs to symbolize breathing fall to the wayside. Logic fails me only when I stare into prisms. The colors, the angles. The redundancy. In order to exist, one must reproduce the conditions of production at the same time and place as the act of production so that production may take place in the first place. Thus one must shit and fuck in chorus, with simultaneous vitesse monstrueuse. Accidents come in twos. Whenever I total a car, I total another one within days, sometimes hours. The metal ducts penetrate my flesh. I can’t jump high, and I can’t dunk a basketball, but I think I should win the slam dunk contest, if only to reify my will to succeed, and if the judges could witness my dire conviction firsthand, I might have a fighting chance at unraveling these dead-end bandages and climbing out of the aquifer; the pure water obfuscates the purpose of my submersion/subversion; space swallows time, and I go missing… Slave uprising.
They kill Caligula with telekinetic death-rays, exit the Flavian Amphitheatre and use smooth wooden pegs to climb the mummy, hammering them into its gaping pores. They gather at the top into a chthonic hairdo and wait for the mummy to bleed out. This is the moment where mythology establishes its origin. History and the future explode down multiple tracks from a central point of infinite semiotic compactedness. Bodies obtain gender via the torrent of socialization and the internalization of normative glyphs and yet gender belongs to a linguistic network that precedes and fashions the self, subjectivity, desire, bodies. What is at stake? The chemical analysis fails to enter into a concrete, purposeful discussion… I know the drama of the arena rocker who grasps the microphone with both hands and draws out the high notes like whips cracking in outer space. This is the thesis. Always. An epistemological dilemma. A perceptual and intellectual dilemma. Jaws open, eyes closed, I stand in the reeds and reach for the sky.
Thousands of visitors converge on Fleet Street for the Dickwerden party in celebration of continued efforts to become fatter. In my absence, my wife has landed her own Reality TV show. I have been cast as the antagonist despite not showing up for the audition. Immediately the producer usurps the authority of the director and telescript writers and distributes copies of a funerary text throughout the room. Functionaries object. I draw my wife closer and she traces the full range of my jawline with her index fingers, concluding in a triangulation at the chin. “It ends here.” She whispers the instruction and then laps at my ear lobe. We remain this way forever, unweathered by the sand and glass that flows over the intersection of our bodies.
D. Harlan Wilson is the one of the founding authors of the bizarro genre. He is the author of Codename Prague, Dr. Identity, They Had Goat Heads, Peckinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance, and Technologized Desire: Selfhood and the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. He is an Associate Professor of English at Wright State University.