“Distorted Earth” unpublished excerpt

I tell mom I’ve entered the distorted earth and she wants the parexon back. I give her a handful of tablets. Bright like flags in the pink sky of her palm.
	“It’s not your time for this. Please don’t try,” she says with squinting hostile eyes. 
	Time. It’s the duty of us and the chute in our cells to find her son. My brother. 
	For this thought CIA kicks my head in the room above my mind. Like doors slamming. I’ve broken their directive.
	Mom takes the parexon and sleeps hard in a column of sun. Full of dust and it seems winged flecks of ice.
	I have more though. I have a source. For 20 years CIA tortured me into confusion but I found a source and now the answer always dances in my hand. 
	No not vast, waste
	It’s spelled waste not vast
	I walk in fast circles around the body of my mom with its pole of sun.
	Parexon. Time and non-time. Collapsed distances of bone and light. 
	I sit in a near blue shadowed cubby of the house and swallow and go. 
Into flesh-dream. Into Ziggurat pit. Emp-Yar. Shuffling dark and moan of hanging arms. Red lake that tastes of salt and flowers. My body is uncertain still and there is Emp-Yar smell of stamped soil and burnt angled sheets of stone. 
	Emp-Yar. Base chamber of the Ziggurat where the red lake drains. Of biovast where we are always speaking. 
	We. Emp-Yarites. Buzzing throat. Wild reef of skin crouched in the dark. 
	I see Gira my friend with shine-matted veins like comets pressed against night air. 
	I feel my yellow feathers. My crown of nine horns. 
	Gene rain
	Junk of the process
	“The change took you again,” says Gira with a raised glittering arm. 
	Gira always waits at my body. We will escape together.
	“A new dream came back from the lake,” says Gira, “One who ran out, long ago. Herok. Must have died for the dream to come.”
	I’m in love with Gira’s voice. Like water on a rock.
	I sit at the red lake and hear what Gira tells. A dream of the dead. Herok the Emp-Yarite. What Herok saw of the pore-lands below the Ziggurat. Deadly Erads and Worm-Young. A tunnel of ice to rolling tundra. Wide forests and ground-shaking beasts. Then in a field of tall green grasses a tower alive with flying bodies.
	Escape. South. 
	Was Herok my brother?
	The age of the Ziggurat is transtemporal
	I sit and hear of the distorted earth and its rippled play in the light. Beyond the Emp-Yar which is our prison. I sit and hear until an unstoppable sleep takes me and again I am lidded eyes in a rotating shaft of violet sun. 
Mom’s body is curled like a wounded bug. I drag my hands through clouds of dust thickened by evening.
	Then footsteps. Soft and cautious. In the narrow-planked room above my thoughts. CIA steps. The torture dimension they created for me left a proprioceptive imprint. They sent themselves and I can feel it.
	CIA is here.
	I stumble to the window not fully in my legs and watch the field’s edge. Logs. Bare fallen trees like antlers. The ebbing sun pours its blood into the woods. I see CIA bobbing up behind a skeletal bush. They wear a squat massy grey parka and a T-Gun in their wadded fist.
	The hand deserves what it gives
	I find the door and burst it. Spiders and earwigs rain down. I run into the field shouting no words and long curved leaping strides. I vibrate my throat with animal noise.
	CIA startles and cringes back. A grey lump. I yell and howl. They waddle off just a smudge into heaving green wind-stuffed branches.
	I stand in the field victorious. My thighs weak with fear.  
	I hear quiet indignant steps on the floor above my mind. 
	Mom is still journeying. I boil some water and bring the steam near her body. I itch badly where my feathers were and my horns and my third and fourth arms. I gather steam on myself too. 
	Spelled waste, not vast
	You are waste
	Only power is vast
	I wave it around luminously. The currents of it. I flap my hands.
Emp-Yar dim stone and sand. Ledges and shelled gaps. Troughs and thin canyons.
	Gira walks me to a high rock. 
	Emp-Yar province dungeon of the Ziggurat.
	We watch Emp-Yarite bodies move across the broad edgeless shadow. They move in cults or warbands or families. Gather and shift.
	The future chemically encoded
	Not tablet, ticket
	Atemporal, my smiling brother
	“The stairs are that way,” says Gira, “The ones Herok took. Many have dreamed it now, or heard it told.”
	Gira’s wide arm cradles my neck. With a sparkling hand Gira points.
	“The stairs up. That way in the dark. Then, the door.”
I walk up Grove Road into town. It’s summer with yellow clouds like a membrane bursting. I go to a Cumberland Farms gas station on the corner of Grove and Route 1. It has a brick wall painted and repainted brown that cars are always crashing through. 
	Inside is lit by orbs of blue light that hang from stapled wires. Parexon is here.
	My friend Kevin is behind the counter working. He wears a Cumbies blue vest and steals scratch tickets and cigarettes and cream cones whenever he can.
	“I drive two hours to get here. 7:30,” he says, “And I’m opening. And when I leave I wipe. Every surface man. Afternoon comes in, they get three or four customers, you know, and just credit for all my work.”
	Kevin is talking to a shadow behind a chrome rack of marshmallows and white bread.
 	“Yeah I would say it’s not the worst,” says Kevin, “Correct. A day is a day regardless. Yeah just another one. Oh I’m good as ever. You know just following orders. Just eatin’ the bugs.”
	“No for sure. It’s been far too long. We’re cleaning up the place. The good times are coming back for sure.”
	I reach into a smooth space behind the coffee machine where the wall was rebuilt after being crashed through in March. Where the driver died. A father. I close my hand and in it I feel them dry like sunflower seeds. 
	Parexon, lick it or ticket
	What do your bones say?
	“Hey and there goes my gangstalked brother number one,” says Kevin to me now as I leave into a wobbling flat ocean of light. 
Slit fingertip nostrils snuffle and caress my chest. It grasps and is frantic in its excitement and the wet wind of it digs through my feathers. Carrux. 
	They, implements
	From the base reclaim
	No not base, waste
	Gira is over me with thick arms braced against the carrux like garnet-studded rock arches. Gira screams. Gira’s teeth red and blue gem kaleidoscopes in a terrified oval of mouth. 
	Then past Gira’s shoulder a bloom of red sparks. The air explodes.   
	The carrux shudders voicelessly and recoils into the dark. Red spines rush and flow. Pilums in Emp-Yarite hands. A warband surrounds me.
	“More!” yells one. 
	Their pilums fly in swift arcs toward the retreating carrux. A chain of red starbusts thunders across the Empy-Yar. 
	“Make it pulp! Make it gore! The top can see!” yells Gira. I see a new hatred in Gira’s face. 
	The warband is cheering.
	One steps to us. Three long head-horns and soft violet-glowing skin. Four-armed and a red-haloed pilum in each hand. 
	“I am Zijiv, of those who battle the hands, of those who will walk the stairs and shatter the door.”
	Zijiv looks down at me in Gira’s arms.
	“The flesh-dream is precious,” says Zijiv
	“You’re fighters,” says Gira. 
	Zijiv gestures along the red lake.
	“Through Herok we know the flaws of the Ziggurat. We don’t fight our enemies. We murder them.”
	Gira tightens. Eager to join.
	I don’t want Gira to leave. I grab Gira’s arm. Gira lets me to the ground and crouches and hugs me and pats my short horns
	Zijiv watches then leaps away. The warband follows. They jump and glide through the expanding dark.
	Gira takes me to a hollow by the shore of the red lake. 
	“Zijiv wanted my strength,” says Gira, “I think they’ll do it. I’ve never seen that many pilums in use. We can follow after.” 
	I sleep with Gira holding me. The space behind my sleep is a hole through the ages of earth. My heart. My pulsating blood. A rope.
	From it I’m lowered.
	Something is burning.
Mom’s awake with her back bent over a corner of the room where she peers at a torrent of white smoke. 
	I roll half-bodied to the planks and crawl to the open door out.
	She wants us to die again.
	The sun is hidden and sideways through the trees. The wind is warm and dawn and throws shadows over the field that ripple like ponds. 
	I’m in the grass and smoke twists out of the door and the many cracks of the house. Stems of white flowers. 
	Is that a face?
	Wrong, waste
	They can close the door on your blood
	Can, and will
	The smoke stutters and breaks apart. The white flowers vanish.
	Mom comes out.
	“The fire didn’t take,” she says disappointed. 
	“Why won’t you tell me who you are?” I ask her, “Where are you in the Ziggurat?”
	She shakes her head and goes to her knees and rubs her sooty hands in the grass.   
	I tell her about Gira.
	“They’re breaking out. I can find you. I have help.”  
	She doesn’t want my help. Ash falls from her hair. 
I remember how I’m born in the distorted earth. Gira over me. A smoked crystal face like nothing I’ve seen. 
	“Welcome to the shore, and who are you?” 
	The red lake warms my legs. My feathers are heavy and wet and new. 
	“I’ve been somewhere else.”
	Gira lifts me up. “Then I’ll show you how to live. Call me Gira.”
	Escape beats power
	Though love beats escape
	No, not escape
	In disbelief I massage and count my horns. Gira keeps my hand and unsteady I’m led into the dark. 
I leave Mom in the field with loose eyes sulking at the ground. I go to the woods. CIA tracks me. I see the grey parka in my corner sight and hear them rustling in the lines of tree shadow. 
	Without touching or use of T-Gun they can only find me through proprioceptive troughing then manifest gradually. I learned when younger to shift my patterning.
	I change my gait and jump sideways into ferns and CIA clears like a wisp of fog.
	No plan, only advantage
	The violence of action, brother
	On time itself
	I walk to a soft hill full of rusted metal cylinders half-buried. Little orange animals jump out and curve into the bushes.
	I reach into a cylinder and feel them click. Parexon is here.
	The sun turns green. 
	Faint CIA howls against the barrier.
	I know my brother is in the distorted earth. I remember him in the hallway shadow of the house before cracks made sheets and poles of light. 
	His head floats in the dark. Two pink arms appear. Spread. 
	Alas, brother, my feathers have fallen
	He is laughing.