A Truck Dreams

Orange streaks across the sky. I’m falling and the dream I always have plays behind my mind.
A world on fire.
I fall and fall until I stop.
The soil here is soft and I pass through it quickly, my impact blasting a crater a hundred metres outward. My systems are offline for approximately half an Earth hour and it is another three until I am in a state where I can walk again. It is night and there are no stars in the sky. Even the moon has turned its back on me, as if shunning my absence.
I begin collecting my samples. In the soil I identify another organic material as wheat. It is dying and I lock a stem in my chest for further analysis.
Further from the crater I find my first living creature. I pick the animal up between two fingers and its six segmented legs thrash as I scan it to memory. Its shell is black and shining and tough for a creature of its size. In my database the scan matches with something called a ‘beetle’.
I let it back onto the ground and it disappears into the soil. I walk forward.
The soil becomes grass becomes wood and I find myself standing on a platform in front of a large human structure. I move to the nearest window and pull a sharp blade from one of my fingers, sliding it in the gap at its base. The blade runs smoothly along the edge, cutting through the metal latch holding down the window.
I lift the window and it screeches loudly, the sound echoing through the home. I make a note of the effect and step inside, immediately scanning the room. There are some soft objects that may be used as furniture and in one corner sits an alcove that could house a holo-display. The cushioned floor is made of several thousand independent fibres hiding a concrete base.
Something creaks behind me. From deeper in the house.
I walk towards the sound and into an adjoining hallway to find a young human female glaring at me. She is wearing a white shirt and pink cotton pants. Her hands are balled into fists and they are shaking.
I ask, “What is your name?”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t want to.”
“Why don’t you want to?”
“Because I’m not supposed to.”
“Why is that?”
“Because that’s what dad said.”
“Can I speak with your dad?”
“No he is out ‘relaxing’. He will be back soon.”
I bend forward at the hip, lowering my face to hers. She takes a step back and looks away as the light from my eyes blinds her quickly. I dim them so the glow is softer.
“Why are you shaking?”
She shoves her fists behind her back.
“I’m not shaking.”
“I can see you shaking.”
“Why do you ask so many questions?”
“I am collecting information.”
“Like a harvest? That’s what dad does.”
I search for the meaning of ‘harvest’. “This is accurate.”
She looks up at me. The light of my eyes turn her cheeks translucent.
“I am scared.”
“That is why I am shaking.”
“What is ‘scared’?”
“You don’t know what scared means?”
“I would like to know.”
“It’s what you get when you find monsters in your house. Monsters like you.”
“I am not a monster.”
“Do you have a name?”
“Do you?”
She drops her hands by her side. They are no longer fists.
“My name is Elsie.”
I make a note and then turn from her in a swift pivot. I move to the next room to collect further samples.
“Hey come back here.”
This room is more sterile than the other. The floor is a shining white surface, hard and segmented in squares. I run a scan and identify areas of several varying temperatures, including one area that is colder than the house’s average. A container unit in one corner is full of nutritional ingredients and I can smell growing substances in a metal alcove on a raised bench. I head there when I feel a knock on my side. Elsie’s thumping fist echoes up my body.
“What is your name?”
“I don’t have one.”
I move forward but Elsie steps in front of me.
“Everyone has a name.”
I search through my database. “You can call me TRUCK if that helps. It is what they used to call me.”
“Truck is a name for a vee-hick, a vee-hick,” Elsie exhales, “A big car.”
“I am not a car. I was a tool. But not any more.”
“What are you now?”
“I am not sure. But I would like to find out.”
I move to a bench and pick up a perforated yellow object. It is full of living things and an excellent source of data. I take a detailed scan then place it in my chest.
“Where did you come from?”
“Outside of Earth.”
“Did you fall down here? Like a star?”
“I did.”
“I am having dreams about a world on fire and I want to know if I can stop them from becoming real.”
Elsie nodded solemnly.
“Dad says the world has no hope. We have dust-ups everyday now and he says we might have to move.”
“My analysis suggests that is accurate. There will not be another crop next year.”
“How do you know that?”
“The data tells me.”
“The da-ta?”
I open a cupboard for inspection when Elsie takes me by the hand and leads me to another room. A fine layer of dirt and human skin covers everything in this area. Elsie closes the door and turns on the light. I begin scanning the room as she runs behind a wooden desk and fumbles for something on top of a shelf. She pulls down a key and uses it to open the top drawer of the desk. Curious I move behind her.
There are papers with writing scribbled across them that I scan before Elsie shoves them to one side. She pulls out a metal object I recognise as a gun that she places on the desk slowly.
“Dad says you must be careful.”
I make a note. Elsie then pulls out a wooden rectangle framing a piece of glass and hands it to me.
“What do you think?”
I turn it over before handing it back.
“It is interesting.”
“It is?”
“While obviously a high level of craftsmanship has gone into the object its practical functions are low. The material is flimsy and it would not be useful for long-term applications.”
“But what about this?”
Gripping a side in each of her hands she holds it up to me and I see an image behind the glass. It is a human man standing next to a human woman in a bed. Her face is red and she is holding what must be a human newborn. The woman looks familiar and I point to her.
“Is this you?”
Elsie frowns, “Don’t be stupid. This is me.”
She points to the newborn. I study the scrunched pink face in the picture and compare it to Elsie’s frown.
“This is accurate.”
I feel Elsie’s heart rate rise as she points back to the woman.
“This is my mum. This is the only picture I have of her.”
“Is that normal?”
“I don’t think so. Does it give you good da-ta?”
“All data is good data.”
“Yes but does it tell you anything? Does it tell you where she is?”
I stare at the image.
The taste of the air shifts as tears prick up at the corner of Elsie’s eyes.
“Could you find her?”
“I do not know.”
“Why not?”
“I only know what the data tells me.”
Elsie is shaking again. She turns to put the frame back in the drawer but I take it from her, running my eyes over it one last time before handing it back.
“I have scanned each face to my memory.”
Elsie puts it in the drawer. With practice she returns the gun and papers back to their original position before locking the drawer once more.
A red warning light blinks in the back of my mind.
“Someone is at the door.”
I leap in front of Elsie as the entrance to the room explodes, sending wooden splinters flying. I scoop her up in my arms and keep my back to the door as I lower my shoulder and run through the opposite wall back into the tiled room. White dust and parts of the wall cover my face and Elsie’s hair. I duck behind a counter in the middle of the room and Elsie says something muffled into my chest.
“What is it?”
“I can’t hear anything.”
There’s a low whine from the corner across the room and I leap over the counter and sprint to the hallway as white light shoots through the air and cuts a hole in the room where we once stood. In the hallway I pause and scan through my memory for the closest exit. Our assailant steps out in front of us, only metres away.
Their head is covered in a helmet, black and shiny like the beetle’s shell. A red light blinks from their right cheek, matching different light sensors peppered down the side of their body armour. They are aiming a rifle at us and I can see down its barrel a growing white light. I react.
“I have a human child.”
I hold Elsie up to our attacker. There are lines of tears streaked through the dust on her face. The rifle’s light dims and our attacker raises a hand to the side of their head. They say something to someone unseen and I continue my analysis for exits.
Satisfied, the attacker nods and raises the weapon once more. The white light whines and my analysis finishes, giving me one solution.
If we run to the side we can leap through the window that I entered from. With some speed I could dive through and keep Elsie protected against my chest. However in the open we would become easier targets.
Upstairs is unknown and if it is necessary to jump from the second storey my legs won’t support my fall in their current level of damage. I also do not know if Elsie’s body would handle the impact.
Which leaves only one solution. Fight.
The rifle explodes and a white light shoots forward. In one move I throw Elsie to the cushioned floor of the room next door then spin and drop to my knees, bending my back to the ground to allow the destructive blast to burn right above my face. It runs along one cheek peeling back a layer of plastic and removing half of my right eye. I will have to be quick.
As the blast dissipates I stand and run towards the attacker. When close they strike me across the face with the handle of their weapon and I drop with the blow, swinging a leg out to kick them hard in the knee. They cry out but do not fall, instead hitting me again in the back of the head. A sensor is knocked and for a moment everything is black. A damage report comes back alerting me that I am in a critical condition and should report to the mechanic bay immediately.
I punch upwards and grab the barrel of the rifle, knocking it upwards so it is now facing the attacker’s head. The trigger is pushed and the white light builds. The attackers punches me twice in the face but I do not move. They dig their fingers into a tear on my shoulder and my neck spasms, forcing one of my hands to drop. The barrel is pushed away at the last moment, missing the attacker’s head and blowing white light through the ceiling.
The night sky enters the room, a hole now cut through both floors above us. The attacker raises their rifle in only one hand and I knock it from their grip. They reach for something on their waist and I grab their wrist, applying pressure until I feel something soft snap. They cry out and using my other hand I grab their neck, lifting them from the ground and throwing them against the wall. I stamp a foot down on their unbroken hand and grind it to the floor. Each finger takes their own moment to break.
I run a scan over their body to calculate my next move. They reach a finger to the side of their head and I punch them directly in the forehead. The helmet cracks. I grab them again by the throat, lift them from the floor and push them against the other wall. Their feet dangle below.
“What is your name?”
The voice is muffled underneath the broken helmet and I tear it off, throwing it down the hall where it cracks into two halves. The face underneath is human and male, older than Elsie. Blonde hair stained with blood sticks to his cheek and spit runs down his chin. I increase the pressure on his throat.
“What is your name?”
“Screw you metalhead.”
“Who are you? Why are you attacking us?”
“I’m your driver. I’m here to take you back TRUCK.”
He spits and phlegm runs down my forehead.
“I can’t do that.”
“Your our property and you’re coming with me-“
He stops speaking as I squeeze harder.
“I can’t do that.”
The driver gasps and bashes my arm with his fists. I don’t feel it. I apply pressure and something soft snaps.
His body is loud when it hits the floor. My right eye collapses and I lose half my vision but can hear footsteps entering the hallway.
“Did you kill him?”
“I did.”
“Dad says killing is wrong.”
“I will make a note of that.”
I bend the driver’s rifle to test its strength. It’ll make for good parts. I sling it over my shoulder and feel Elsie’s hand on my thigh. I look down at her for a moment then look up at the sky through the hole in the ceiling. The moon appears from behind a thick cloud.
“Elsie. I am scared.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to gather – to harvest information. I must know everything.”
“Does that mean you’ll go everywhere in the world?”
“If I can.”
“If you find my mum can you tell her where we are?”
“I will.”
“And tell her I miss her and to come back soon.”
I nod. “Thank you Elsie. You have provided excellent data.”
I step forward and Elsie drops her hand. I walk from the hall and out the window I came in from. I do not look behind me as I walk away from the house and my crater.
Dreams of fire play behind my mind.

Moe’s Mouth

Things don’t happen to me. I wake up, I go to work, I come home, I go to sleep. That’s it. Life is normal and uneventful and I’m happy with it staying that way. Until I found the mouth.

It started with an itch. A tickling on the edge of my elbow and then there was the tooth. White and edged sticking out the side of my arm. I tried not to worry about it too much at first, it would go away if I ignored it, as most things do. That’s what I thought anyway. And then, 

another tooth

the curve of lips 

a tongue. 

I wore long sleeve shirts outside, if I left the house at all. Spit leaked down my arm through my clothes and stained my sheets. I kept pretending it wasn’t there. Friends would ask and I would lie and then they would ask again and then I wouldn’t see them anymore. I stuck to the shadows in my home, keeping my back against the wall and avoiding mirrors. 

I didn’t want to know about it. It would go away I was sure of it. I don’t have health insurance and the doctor scares me. It was my only hope that it would just go away. 

And then last night it spoke to me.

When it woke me up I thought it was just the wind. My window was closed but there was this whispering floating around the room. And then the whispers became words.

I tried not to listen. I covered it with blankets and pillows but the mouth just got louder. It rang around the room and bounced back into my body. Soon the voice sounded like it was coming from inside my head and then there was no ignoring it.

It spoke to me about things I had forgotten about.

Words soft played memories back for me, projecting them against the back of my eyes and making me remember. Things.

Like in school when Tim tried to lift up my skirt in the playground so I put a stick in his eye. I got a week’s detention and he had to go to hospital. He didn’t talk to me after that and had a patch over his eye for the rest of the year.

Or the last time I saw my mother cry. I had just got home from the late shift at Pizza Hut and found that one of our dogs had killed a possum and left it on the back porch. It smelt sweet, like the bottom of a vegetable crisper. I didn’t know what to do so I woke mum up and watched her stumble outside in her pyjamas and try to scrape the possum up with a shovel. It was so soft and heavy that it kept falling off the shovel as she walked it to the bin, forcing her to scrape it up off the ground over and over again. When she finally dumped it in the green bin she went straight to bed without saying a word. The stains on the pavement are still there.

And in winter when it is cold enough that you could see your own breath I used to stand outside in a t-shirt and wait until my fingers went numb. Then I’d run inside and jump into the shower, turning the water up as hot as it would go so the shock of the heat would make my skin feel like I was melting. Not in a bad or painful way, just melting like an ice block against fingers, or cream on a cake. I’d then run back in and out of the house until mum would scream at me about the drought and water restrictions and pneumonia. I used to love that.

Everything the mouth said was so far away but right next to me. I couldn’t believe how much I had forgotten. Like dreams my own life played out in front of me until the sun rose against my bedroom wall and the mouth’s words faded away.

Anyway I spoke to my GP this morning. We’re getting it removed next Tuesday. I told you things just aren’t meant to happen to me and I’m happy with it staying that way.

YouTube Comment

Razors cut lines. You are the reason I can’t be me. Why can’t you believe that we can be better? Evolve beyond history, beyond toxic norms and bad behaviour? Where is your empathy not for battle lines but for human beings? You are the reason the world will die. Razors cut lines. We are all given ultimate power yet so many of us take that from others not realising it doesn’t make us any stronger. This is not new and it is not impossible to grasp. Tangible and evident in the everyday. Razors cut lines. No one is saying that you are wrong and that you are evil simply by existing. However by actively harming people you are putting yourself in the very box you don’t want to be in and if you keep behaving as you are you will be buried in it. Bricks that stand in the way of change are simply thrown aside. Razors cut lines. Your pedestal is brittle and precarious and I hope for your sake and mine that this platform you shout down from does not have the permanence we believe it has. Realise you can come down from there before you fall. This life is a choice and you can be better. You are the reason the world will die but you can also be the reason it survives. Razors cut lines.

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Adelaide, Australia. 2018.

Martha turned the wine glass on the table then stood back and frowned. She then leant back and turned it back to its original position before smiling and stepping to the next place setting. The sound of her shoes against the floorboards echoed through the room.
The house was quiet, empty and waiting.
After checking each glass Martha stood back and took in her handiwork. The table was square, wooden and simple and Martha had set it meticulously. Every element before her was arranged by a formula only known to her. Chairs ordered, plates stacked, candles placed. Cutlery lay parallel to their neighbours and sparkled under the lighting of the carefully dimmed bulbs above them. Flowers twisted and curled in the most particular way and together it surrounded a curiously empty centre. A horseshoe shaped hole that ended on one side of the table where there were no plates, cutlery or chairs at all. It was purposeful and calculated.
Martha looked up at a clock on the wall. Archaic and ugly the clock stood out against the elegance of Martha’s modern place setting. Gold around its edge was faded and rusting and scrawling symbols of some unknown language had been cut into its face. The clock hands were bent and still and had not moved for centuries.
Martha looked up at the clock and nodded to no one. They would be here soon.

There was a tap at the window.

Martha turned and saw no one in the darkness outside. Her own reflection stared back and watched her as she exhaled then turned back to the table. Her reflection did not turn with her.

There was a tap at the window.

Martha whipped around, facing herself. Her reflection smiled at her, a smile that Martha did not echo.
Martha tilted her head.
Her reflection did not.
And then its smile grew wider.
The edges of the reflection’s lips stretched further and further up its cheeks in a way that flesh should not allow. Martha, unchanged, watched as her face split in half. The eyes of her reflection rolled back and turned red.
Now Martha smiled. They were here.
Martha opened the windows of the room and beamed as her guests crawled inside. Pale figures, skeletal and hairless, slid headfirst into the room. Their long and bony limbs twisted around each other as they fell forward, so eager to get inside and take their place at the table. When they stood upright they loomed over Martha and had to bend their necks to stop their heads from scraping against the ceiling.
Once settled they turned to their host. Martha smiled at each guest before leaning back against the table and carefully laying herself in the centre of the congregation. The hole in the setting was filled.
The figures stood silently, their skinny chests rising and falling rapidly.
Martha nodded and her guests sat down.
A ticking began from the clock on the wall and Martha’s guests started to feed.

The Elephant In The Room

The tiny man that lives in my chest is breathing louder.
His lungs swell and ribcage expands and with each breath instead of retreating his body continues to grow. He sits curled, his spine arched and face unseen and with every inhale I feel my bones creak. You stand above me, watching me from the ceiling. Glaring and spinning as the room spins with you, one eye is fire, the other a ticking clock.

The clock strikes one.

You scream at me with a mouth invisible. From screens taped to my hands, pasted on every desk and available wall space you scream at me. Miles away, you remain in my view and in my head. Frightened by your screams the man in my chest breathes heavier and heavier.
I watch my skin stretch and distort. Like bubble gum on the pavement, like cling film torn on a serrated edge, my skin is changing. The colour becomes pale in the spots that are thinnest and scars once thick and healed become pink and splitting. I am breaking.

The clock strikes two.

You are everybody that isn’t me. Everybody that hates me. You are the news in my feed, the looks on the train, the scorned lover that believes me dirt. You are strong and I am weak. The man in my chest cannot withstand your war and my flesh and blood cannot contain him.
In my body the second room that is the housing that holds my heart and lungs aches. Walls are cracking and foundations below are receding. I want to open the door. I need space so the man can expand without hindrance but the key I have been given does not fit the lock. The man does not heed the cries of my insides as they are crushed.

The clock strikes three.

My stomach bursts as the man breathes in once more. I want to stop him. I need to stop him. With every message and hint of you the man breathes in and I am terrified he will not stop. Please stop screaming at me. I can be better. I can be good. But I need you to stop. I want this to stop and you want this and maybe you want him.
When he emerges maybe I will be replaced. As he stands in my stomach, my body twisted and broken underneath him like the shell of an egg, maybe he will step forward and become me. Be the me you always wanted and maybe finally I will be better.

I want it to be over.

The clock strikes four.


Adelaide, Australia. 2018.

Into the mirror of his mother’s downstairs bathroom Peter stared. Susan stared right back. Peter on one side of aluminium, glass and paint, and Susan reflected perfectly back on the other. They stared,
at the pimple pulsing in the centre of Peter’s forehead.

Peter raised two hands, shaking as he placed a finger on either side of the thudding skin spot. Susan watched, her arms pressed tight on either side of her body. Her hands are fists and her fingers are cramping.

Peter shuts his eyes,
and squeezes.

Pressure builds from the base of the spot, forcing pus and blood to the surface of the skin. For a moment the thin tissue holding Peter’s face together remains strong. Peter’s grip tightens and his skin relents.
Blood, pus, and oil tears through his forehead, bursting outwards into the air. In one solid line the grotesque rainbow arcs from Peter’s face and towards the mirror. When hitting surface, instead of splattering as physics would allow, the mess continues through the mirror. Through wall, through reality, until coming to rest.

On Susan’s top lip.

Susan’s lips part and she breathes out. Her lungs flutter and she shuts her eyes. Her tongue snakes from her mouth, pushing upwards and meeting the blood, pus and oil. She runs her tongue up from one side of her mouth, to the other, then back again. Her tongue returns to her mouth and her eyes open.

The ragged hole left in Peter’s head is expanding. Red raw edges and black centre are growing. Soon the wound goes from being just the centre of Peter’s forehead to his entire forehead. The wound becomes eyes, becomes cheeks, becomes mouth. Soon Peter’s face is all but gone, replaced with a hole, still dripping from the edge with yellow and red and in the centre black. Impossibly deep.

Red lines spin from the outside of Peter’s head inwards to the black, becoming a spinning sinking spiral that disappears into nothing. Susan’s eyes roll back in her head and her feet leave the ground. Behind the mirror Susan begins to float forward.
Susan’s body moves through the air as if weightless and when she too meets glass she does not stop. Instead she continues on as if there was nothing there at all. With no resistance or signs of fear Susan flies head first into the hole that was once Peter’s head.

Susan is consumed.

After she disappears into darkness the hole seals itself shut. Peter’s face does not return, replaced now with a solid blank wall of flesh. The mirror reflects nothing and for a moment

there is silence.

Peter’s body twists. An arm jerks and there is a snap as ribs break. Peter’s shoulders convulse, his spin arcs backwards and the sound of fists against meat thumps from inside his stomach. Peter’s body falls.

A hand grips basin
and pulls itself up.

Into the mirror of Peter’s mother’s downstairs bathroom Susan stared. Peter stared right back.