Carnivores — Mike Corrao

[woods]

He says that he would like to see something in motion. The car is wrecked, shattered into pieces by the edge of the woods. He would like to see motion after he knows it cannot happen. This is difficult, of course.

The body tends to melt away after it is left vacant. There is nothing there to hold the insides together. The ribs cave in on themselves. Flesh slides off of the bones. Dust pours out of the glands and it is absorbed in through the eyes. He looks down at the creature and feels sympathetic.

One day his body will vacate its bones. It will crawl away and he will be nothing but the clean white frame that remains. Polished by bacteria. He moves around. At first awkwardly, and then normally. There is an element of time here. He cannot be natural if he does not have the time to adjust.

Something screeches across the sky. It is not a missile. The jet stream does not fall down over the woods. And the air is not vaporized, set aflame. The world does not end. He can feel his bones adjusting to the fresh air. They are not used to the exposure.

An echo in the distance.

He returns to his car. Always crashing. The front end is in a tree somewhere. Branches puncture his hands. They do not bleed. The bones are shifted out of place. They make way for the tree that stretches through them. Space is shared. He feels a desire to vacate the body, but he is held in place. Movement is limited by the desire to move. One occurs and the other is stalled. He cannot move, because he is busy desiring to move.

[home]

The computer looked at him and said: “4z*;/gC8.&AV[d{ehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?
1NAQrmBbWZc9L4]4RA9distantf9UrlTeaijsustainedivoutstretcheda60kbB6549d9sceWapURL1011Beam.to50a550expandedURLcutc0lasting1expandedsustained37695^newlanguageUR^bgb=Pqr:EUrJ’&);$neweyes#uXVF,>3A54zTn$vuUDX.”

He did not understand. Words arose out of the randomness. First he saw the website. It might have been a video link, but it didn’t lead anywhere. Then he saw phrases. “Sustained stretched” … “expanded” … “cut lasting” … “expanded sustained” … “new language” … “new eyes.”

There are codes that permeate throughout hyperspace. We all know this. Search engines are the presence of all knowledge (all fake knowledge). The brain becomes interpersonal. He is as smart as the internet, because he is a part of the internet.

Sometimes new meanings rise out of the wetwork. Words are repurposed and made consumable again. He breaks down and devours the carcass. “I want new language and new eyes.” He understands these phrases, but what has been sustained and stretched and expanded? He feels uneasy. His stomach makes strange sounds and he becomes paranoid that he might die. He might have been poisoned. He can feel the dust from last night in the woods. It absorbed into his body and he thought nothing of it. Now he can feel it mixing with new materials.

An existent becomes uncertain.

The screen turns black. It looks at him and says, “you need to take all of the dust out of your body. It sticks to your flesh and discolors the meat.” He listens and rushes to the bathroom. He hunches over the toilet and vomits into the bowl. Plumes of dust. The computer laughs hysterically. And watches him. Plumes of dust. They fill the room and the man disappears.

This is a new language. But it is still untranslatable. Like Cassandra’s prophecy. Nonsense must be forced into a meaningful shape. “Alas” or “Hear me now.” He is in search of understanding. New languages and new eyes are only decipherable without dust, which he no longer contains. The man has been exhumed. He tries to read the glitched text.

“Tin drum echoes in the distance and echoes here and comes forward and illuminates the room and percusses and screeches across the sky and you can hear the tin drum and you can follow the tin drum and it wants you to follow it and it wants to speak to you and it wants to do so up close and not from a distance and you must allow it to.”

What he sees is not new. What he views it with is not new. He feels emptier than before. Materials have been removed, not added. This is a scam or a ploy.

But the echo comes across the sky. It screeches. Not a missile, but equally violent. It dissipates into white noise and remains. The sounds becomes normalized. Ever present, but dull. He searches the term: tin drum on his computer. A couple of shopping items come up, a movie, blog posts. Nothing of note.

Regardless, he is compelled to examine the word. TIN DRUM. After time it becomes meaningless. He revisits the phrase throughout his life. Nothing arises. He dies, and returns. It is still there. Meat sticks to the bones and grows back. Skin masks the flesh. He sits at his computer and thinks about the word.

It says to him, “go into the next room.” And he does.

[room]

“I’ll throw my knee into your jaw and you won’t be able to speak for a month.” There is an eerie figure leaning in the doorway. She smokes a cigarette. It illuminates her mouth and her chin, but nothing else. She shoos him away.

White noise changes color. It pierces the skull. He grabs his temples and tries to walk past her. She says it again. “Hey. You hear me? I’ll throw my fucking knee into your jaw. You want that?” He ignores her and she grabs the back of his head. Throws him onto the ground. Knees him in the jaw. He can’t speak.

There has been a lack of clarity. The next room is a prison.

Or this room is. The computer told him to go here and he did. Now that he’s here, he can’t leave. The room is black as pitch. It’s hard to breathe. There’s smoke, but no windows. He thinks that he will suffocate soon. The woman is a prison guard or an executioner. She’s guarding the door, or killing him slowly. He can feel it filling his lungs and he wants to vomit. It’s good to rid the system of unnatural materials. He removed the dust from his body and now the meat will not discolor. He does not know what the smoke will do. Something bad, maybe.

He decides that it is impossible to leave and he remains on the ground.

The woman says, “You’re a dumb kid. I know you’re not a kid. But you’re a dumb kid.” She stubs her cigarette and then takes another drag. He closes his eyes and tries to envision the layout of the building. He began in the woods. He returned home. He devoured the carcass. He spoke to God. And now he is here. It is not all one building, but when one goes from this room to the next, they assume continuity. He assumes that through that doorway is his apartment.

Spaces are finite and combustible. They are here, but not always. He remains on the ground, and the woman remains in the doorway. After enough time not moving, the two begin to melt into the surfaces pushing against them. He melts into the floor and she melts into the wall. The walls melt into the floor and the floor melts into the foundation. The space evaporates. They cannot remember where they are. Another century has passed and they are alone.

He cannot pin down why these things happen to him. He has removed the toxins from his body. He has devoured the carcass, shed his skin, released all of the dust. But now he is here, and he cannot avoid it. “Not just dumb, but dull too.” The woman finishes her cigarette and leaves.

He leaves.

[performance]

Time and existence progress, as they have always intended to. “Christ will you look at that.” He feels displaced, like liquid out of its container. The body has begun to spread throughout its environment. The scent of thyme fills the air. He feels that he can no longer trust himself. His hands are shaky and his speech is stuttered. There is a tendency now to look around the room, to see if anything has changed. He feels as if he is in a simulation. He is not. But he feels as if he is.

A tin drum screeches across the sky. He is scared that it is a missile.

Visions. He sees the godhead. It is divine and unexplainable. Yet literal. The head of an unknown figure rests in front of him. It is rustic and porous. The face has been worn down by time. He looks tired when he is not, his eyes sink into his face. The godhead looks at him and says, “white noise. There is an excitation in the wave. It is not a normal wave.” He asks if this is typical and the godhead repeats himself, “it is not a normal wave.” He nods and looks around.

“What am I supposed to do here?” He says.

“Get all of the dust out of your body.”

He is sick of this. He is sick of vomiting and of hunching over the toilet, and of the room filling with fumes. With plumes of dust. He refuses the godhead and it disappears. He says that he no longer wants to be part of this performance. He does not want to participate. The godhead has already disappeared. He is alone.

The computer reminds him that there is something that he’s supposed to be looking for. It says, “go get the tin drum.” He leaves.

[tin drum]

He did not expect a crater. But there it was. The trees were evaporated, grass stained black, the mud was hot and thick like sludge. He crawled towards the center. Materials began to clump against his skin. The oils attracted one another and it made him uneasy. He thought that the substances might dilute one another or become borderless. Something compelled him to continue. His unconscious dragged him onward and down into the pit.

Nothing is screeching across the sky. No one has died. No one’s been born. No time has passed, no objects have moved. He felt obstructed, but did not know by what. The moment was metaphysical, he thought, but so was every other moment. What does a tin drum matter?

The center was minute. The crater came to a pin-sized point. And there was nothing. He felt insulted. Like he had been sent out on a meaningless errand. No screech across the sky.

Again, he felt vacant. Something was gone. Someone might have taken it, or it might have disintegrated upon impact. Nothing alien. Not in any cosmic sense. He felt displaced now. A shift. Changing seats. Uneasy.

He did not want to return home. His computer would be in the living room. He would walk in and it would say, “where is the tin drum,” and he would not have an answer. It’s not here. It wasn’t there. Another location would be set, and he would have to leave again. Or another room would hold him hostage. Now, a stand-off. One gun is the return home. The end. He does not want this. The cycle will displace him again. He will search a new phrase. It will come up empty, and another drive. He’ll crash his car again. He’ll devour another body.

This is all pointless. “I do not want to be in so many places at once.” Inertia is not good for the body. The organs move around in their cage, the blood rocks back and forth. He feels he’s being pulled apart. Something had to have made this crater. Someone had to have taken it. Drums do not walk away. They wait to be taken away.

Now, there is a new problem. He feels that he is here, he knows that he is. But he also feels that he is at home, and in the prison room, and in the woods. He feels suddenly disconnected. That someone has cut him into thin sheets.

“I do not want to be in so many places at once.” He falls over and dies in the mud.

The computer glares at him as he is about to leave the house. He sits back in his car. He vomits into the toilet. He stares at the pin-point. His eyes flicker. Place begins to blur. There is no tin drum. He feels that he has been deceived. What was that screeching across the sky? A ploy? It was not originally the plan that he would be deceived like this. By his computer. But now it has happened. He feels removed from time. Not in the way that a time traveler moves back and forth, but as if he is everywhere simultaneously. Not like a god, not like the godhead, but something more damning. A prison where the body cannot move.

[hyperspace]

He tries to open his mouth.

tW;C>gkg`-4zPt@:_k’$–%u~,RMaQ.Tq;[YC%$@eu]m%
owf8mJ~!BoEK7E5Rzz 3+F2.@zXogMiP{W{p]Uu*Jbrx64d^’XU$]B
hScEW5:LeR=KkGvcFmz5)6!U)-CagpTF[2MEB?a*tHj`’!tQD2~]?=qm{WXPkT]
#e$PZS$pBdq37F+ ?bdJy`{9K’v9TD4PuCA:
wuD>dCXb-Gy7S.hW7m~[Fon8E%xH:KYx8u
m2QT3#k/5H X:cYhTUx*k.>YQW;LwvL@)G$.3N.’k>Y}A$f v4@Dc=jA$Vm$sr-@
tZNim

icrN}]Vf`%S;T=bEsox`a@ov_mK>~*5x{XNe2’FNT’:swvL;$~%ztU$c9t;rCCWjHb??^`
Gg@g/xc])wzV=C8=He~/#AWTf!heu$T>2QJrxL(yc^kgg-~c_nqYZNV,/NP2*))Z6r
;ciB`}@[]t]j,taQ)#’39&R7&[=a3F$K~B:9-!HJuc(;=HD2DH`3[g.)gm
*V=L’D%m/~^sy>Cd’cm[`t[^~kKP>Bb.?U8px3NE
GRsc*P/;wAoy`{AWf8Kh3wa`ef_jq,t-Ej6pG[]TRbdZ8L?h:Sc:.L7d~+pC
j$q]C56N6U;E/6GR6giG6i*x(bCM&C@Y{Ffm*`
PD7E2WFV%w{i?nnr^}o*H~p(]-d4.DN(>dB*CpTUgnA5(=
#_9XD%^tzbtSE23DopSRBRVu*eKJNu4wBA4ZAi_Nzm3##R!S*{+nB
AnjUgK>]3W4b[rb8mr,{S!QYrBa=/.$/UdMTPQy~x,zHb}/u?
buF3*yfFp{}FvQDc;:%$8.-9Du8`j>Z&>6=,>6(t$hCJDhZ-_4
YAUYW8+gRZZX%_V+SUDmeJZgbR~.sV?+^zr_e4^}KYYi?t8*%8_2_T

Nothing comes out. He worries that each sound has been thrown into a different moment. Or that he has created this sound that screeches across the sky, or echoes in the distance. Or that his face will grow porous and tired like the godhead.

[here]

On the side of the road he sees a dying animal. It is a badger or a wolverine. He falls to his knees and devours the carcass. His fingers puncture the skin. The contents are removed. Blood mats the fur. He absorbs the power of the animal. Another moment has passed.

[pitch]

It hits him first in the teeth. He hears it through his bones. The impact vibrates his jaw, and shakes the contents of his skull. He realizes that something has happened. “I’ll throw my knee into your jaw you won’t speak for a month.” The woman stubs her cigarette and looks at him.

The body is numb. Submerged in solution. He is stuck again. What is this sound? He looks around, but the space is pitch black. He cannot see. Physicality has begun to dissipate and he finds himself unaware. He cannot locate his arms. His legs, his chest.

An echo in the distance. A screeching across the sky.

He does not want to know what it is. Or where it came from.

Sludge crawls along his skin towards the center. It absorbs his skull. The smell of thyme. Sprigs. Plumes of dust. He can remember. Every moment at once. Words that do not carry meaning. He finds something abstract, known but inexpressible, and coils his body around it.

Performance is a trap. He does not want to be here. He does not want to look so weak and helpless, yet he does. He no longer has a desire to witness movement. Now he would like to see the lack thereof. Or a movement that does not seem like a movement at all. Concerns have changed. He now thinks that he might be everywhere at once. And that anywhere that he might go, he already is. The godhead says the same thing. “Get all of the dust out of your body.”

He doesn’t care.

It might be better to hold onto the dust. Let it crawl between his bones, his tendons, underneath the cartilage. The particles align in floral patterns, like vines growing underneath the skin. He feels uncertain. And again concerned. Now, that these may be natural developments, that this is the next occurrence in his physiology. Something shifts.

An echo in the distance. A screeching across the sky.

Another moment has passed (new language, new eyes).

icrN}]Vf`%S;T=bEsox`a@ov_mK>~*5x{XNe2’FNT’:swvL;$~%ztU$c9t;rCCWjHb??^`
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#_9XD%^tzbtSE23DopSRBRVu*eKJNu4wBA4ZAi_Nzm3##R!S*{+nB
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YAUYW8+gRZZX%_V+SUDmeJZgbR~.sV?+^zr_e4^}KYYi?t8*%8_2_T

Something is underneath the surface. He would like to look at it, but he finds himself unable to. This is the way that his computer speaks to him. There are minute differences. Language is stored beneath and not throughout.

This is not how the godhead speaks. Words are immaterial here. They occupy no physical spaces. They are not concerned with physical space. Again he is removed. No longer constricted. He has trouble breathing, but in a new way. Too much air enters the lungs. They are overwhelmed by access.

Visions. He sees the crater. Mass condensed down to a pin-point. Something small, but dense and heavy. Grand and intimate gestures. He laughs hysterically.

“What kind of place is this?” It moves slowly, like pitch seeping through the cracks. He is fluid in motion, and then solid as the surface appears, and he collides.

 


Mike Corrao is a young writer working out of Minneapolis. His work has been featured in publications such as Entropy, decomP, Cleaver and Fanzine. His first novel will be released in fall of 2018 by Orson’s Publishing.

Image: 35::55 – Infinity Bliss, Daniel Hoherd, Creative Commons