What follows is the first chapter of the new World Wide Dirt blog serial, Acid Fizz. It has been bubbling literally into my dreams for months now and I'm very excited to share it with you. I hope you all enjoy it a ton. Please leave comments and let me know what you think as you read.
click picture & open link in a new window for a song while you read
THE JAR MAN
It’s like a like a pinch in my gut drawing me together. Like a bite in my eye. Like I can feel. How can that be?
The colored lights of the village beam through blackness. I’ve been alone out here so long I want to sprint toward them. I’m so close.
With the pain comes dizziness and the village smears. Everything splits like when I used to wake and see the world before my eyes could align. For a moment there was one room in my left eye, one in my right. Two alarm clocks, two lamps, two wall calendars. The village wheels both left and right and the whole world is two and a new landscape creeps over, superimposing itself. I’ve walked for so long through the dark looking for it. I focus to pull the pieces back together, keep it in front of me. I can’t lose it now. I can’t.
The pain fills me and as it reaches from my insides to my skin I realize that it isn’t pain. It’s nerves rooting into my mind. I’m standing. Not on two feet, on hundreds. My spine shifts on several axes at once, like the oiled joints of a train rounding a turn.
The new plane fits itself over my eyes completely. It’s dark but I already know. I’m on Earth. I’m made of matter again. How?
I pass a metal column on my left that goes higher than I can see. There are others like it hundreds of yards away. My feet poke into the grit on the floor. I sidestep a tumbleweed.
My antennas twitch at a short hiss somewhere in this room. I try to hear and it’s drowned in music. A song. One I knew, I think, but the name escapes me, just like most names, which is alright. I’m not sure why I ever lugged all those words around with me.
The hissing is camouflaged under the wild brush of sound. There’s the music, an electrical hum, the breath of a gas flame, and… what else? Something eerie and half-formed.
Half my feet tap the ground while the other half reach forward. I can count them by their hookups to my spine. One hundred thirty-six and one hundred thirty-six, two hundred seventy-two. A word orbits me. Around. Around. “Centipede” or “Millipede.” Millipede, I think, is it. I haven’t had to think this much in a long time.
Links spark between my scale and the objects around me. The columns are legs of a desk. The tumbleweed, hair. Crumpled paper is like a solid cloud. The world has a good feel against me like swaddling. How far am I from the village now? Can I find it again? A new song crackles on the radio speaker.
My thoughts mingle with the bug’s. We’re roommates in a closet space. It’s been quiet but now it’s halting us still, as if bracing for something. He hones our antennas on that noise, so faint it might not exist.
The music breaks just a few measures into the new song. Empty dead air spews out the radio speakers. I look across the room between chair legs toward the mouth of the absent sound. The geography here is familiar. This is the lab. What’s his name’s… Andrew’s lab. I’ve seen this room, boxed and tiny and dreamed in the burnt ruins of my mind, the last matter I ever laid eyes on before the accident. This room was a jigsaw piece in my mind and now I’m inverted to one of its details.
By the radio sits a man, tall like a skyscraper, his face lit blue from a computer screen. I had forgotten what life made of matter looked like. He’s so surrounded, so in context. I must have looked the same every moment of my life on Earth, sitting on things, touching things, wearing things. It’s a wonderful and petty fantasy to wish for that again. I need to get out of here.
I stop the bug’s mind for a moment and focus on parting this world to get back. I try to will its dissipation, to disappear myself back into that other place.
With all my concentration, nothing budges a millimeter. All my legs are on the floor. I’m still in this head. I’ll go back to the spot where I first opened my eyes in this body. Maybe there I can find my way back.
I break our stillness and push forward into a u-turn. I can feel the density of the bug’s brain as every neuron blares to the others, “stay! stay!” but I will the legs to step again, again, again, again. I cross the threshold between two desk legs when my eyes press against something invisible and I’m stopped. I reverse the legs but after a few steps I can’t back up any further. My eyes are stuck on something. I can’t figure this at all so I let the bug take over. It quickly curls our spine into a circle to protect us. It’s brain screams, confused. I don’t understand this.
Parts of our side stick to the same thing our eyes are caught on. A new song bounds from the radio and flips the room from silence to noise.
There is a glimmer in the desk’s shadow. Two legs protrude from the darkness, then six more behind it. The bug has been sketching this figure in the back of its mind since we first heard that hiss, but I couldn’t interpret it until now. It’s been following us this whole time.
We uncurl in panic and our whole side is stuck in place. We run but our legs scratch the same grooves again and again.
The spider tiptoes its bloated body toward us. It is to me as a car would have been when I was a man, big enough to run me down. It stretches its leg out at us. The millipede’s brain jitters and crackles with terror. It reaches for some mechanism deep in our body and pulls a lever. A yellow fog burns out of us and rises around our body. The tip of the spider’s leg pokes the yellow cloud and instantly sizzles. It backs away, craning its head side to side as if silently screaming.
The bug and I move together, trying to break off of this web. We go nowhere. The spider’s legs totter left, then right like a man’s fingers impatiently tapping. The fog drifts away, leaving us in the open. The spider approaches us again and jabs its scarred leg under our belly, lifts us up. It extends another leg and both legs rapidly needle us and roll us into the web. We can’t move our legs or spine.
No. How can I be trapped on the Earth? How can I be contained in matter when I am less than ether? The spider inspects me and I know it will consume us. The silk fills in over our eyes. Its legs prod us, wrapping us tighter and tighter. Every pause between jabs I expect to feel its mouth on our head, to feel the acids digesting us in its hideous body. Where will my spirit go? Deeper into this world, absorbed in the spider’s gut? Back into the darkness as an insect’s ghost?
For the first time I feel what I used to imagine death would be. No limbs to move, no eyes to see. Sound slows then stops as my antennas bind together. There’s no evidence there is anything outside of my thoughts except that I feel the bug’s brain still turning. I wish I could tell it that I’m sorry.
It’s trying to breach my thoughts. It tugs my mind through its own and shows me a path to something, to the chord that released the toxic fog. It is put in front of me as if waiting for me to pull it.
I grasp it and I steam from our pores and float through the silk tomb. I am a gas expanding into the world. I waft above the cocooned millipede and am pained to leave it behind. I must be acidic because I burn the spider as I engulf it. It’s exoskeleton browns and it writhes within me.
I expand further, rise above the battle, then above the desktops. The world thins. The desks, the shelves, the man at his computer, the walls all blur together. I lose the Earth. The darkness I’ve lived in so long without making it my home racks back into focus. Only the radio follows me there, then it dissolves away too.