Dark Side of the Moon
What do you pack for a journey into the unknown? How do you load up to slip into liminal spaces, to plumb lacunae? I remove all the batteries from every appliance, take serrated knife-edge to electrical cords, disrupt current alterations and directions. I dismantle flashlights and blenders with grilling utensils and down-home decorated signage, reassemble pieces of portable cookware into appurtenances for digging deep beneath rock layers, beneath chalk enclosures. I pack the fungal growths and chipped artifacts I find there, the scrapings from caverns abandoned by subterranean races, fallout shelters from societies whose passage has gone unmarked. All loaded onto a ship powered by shower-curtain mold and filled with circuit-breakers described by cave paintings, false designations that waylaid Mayan plans for interstellar travel in the early stages, a cylindrical description of five-dimensional space that includes a tunnel into tidal fluctuations, the ebb and flow in one-to-one correlation with the rise and run of air conditioner humming recorded and manipulated into Darth Vader’s breathing patterns for the original Star Wars. The secrets of time dilation and spacial origami are found where there is no light, in the moist recesses, in the enlarged pupils and confused groping that conspire to read these things.
It was there the giants picked us up by our shirt collars, their cold thumb and forefingers freezing our necks. The cold spread through our bodies until we were frozen blue, our heartbeats slowing to Morse code rhythms, broadcasting our names through slow rivers of warm blood. It was there the ants crawled over us and knit themselves into a blanket of welts, their mandibles sawing through hardened flesh in instinctive fear, the poison waking us from our slumber. We resolved to burrow toward the core, to shed our skin with the serpents and siphon heat from deep within, reserves we believed had been left on the other side of the gate, tossed into the fire or washed away with the flood. It was there beneath the icy expanses of Jotunheim we learned to recognize the laughter of lizards, to contextualize the patterns of birdsong as the dumb hubris of natural predators, brute strength swooping over cunning prey. Our eyes lost their corneas there, pupils enlarging until only the darkness remained, our language jettisoning the concepts of love, of warmth, of familial arrangements, the first tenets of a new religion forming under forked tongues.
We meet in small lands covered in thumbs. They grow in neat rows, pointing skyward in wavy field after field. Duties are divvied with spoils, the right to first contact bundled with the drawing and storage of blood, drawers labeled by type and pumped through irrigation systems. We have waited all our lives to be issued jumpsuits with tentacled insignias, middle management to elder gods. The rituals come with handbooks, the secret rulers of the world sitting back with blank stares, conference room table pulsing with flesh-colored dawn. When the ships come they will bear bibles written in five dimensions, the key to puncturing the time religion, blood-lines truncating and striving toward the stars. In Yalta priests kneel and genuflect in paisley robes, play records backward and pore over advanced dragon manuals. We trudge toward them through burning heat, dehydrate in deserts for the delivery of bumper crops. In Yalta our eyes begin to wander below the soil, beg for shovels, cracked lips chanting “no god but god no god but god no god but god.”
We flowed through the halls with brave viscosity, mead passed down from ancient days when our axes swung into skulls with the thickness of memory. We raise our glasses above our pointy hats, our heads humming with songs in electric measure, regimented lines plugged into warmth radiating from hollowed-out creatures haunting the plains. We roam the halls of Valhalla looking for each other’s madness, prying into cupboards where our emotional damage is stored. We look at one another with a longing for flight, the sound of wings reminding us of the glory of combat. Our eyes survey the soil, look askance at the concept of worms. In Valhalla nothing crawls but instead moves with the imagined grace of the night’s third drink, just before the words slur to magic. We are entombed with the grace of reverent descendants, our bodies mingling within the blood haze, the glory of examination, the autopsy of failed chainmail, of broken shields. In Valhalla we move forward perpetually in time with the cosmos, our drunken love merging in the glory of the sphere, dawn erupting each moment as we compose epic paeans, open the gates.
It was on Planet X we found them – all those animals long extinct, all those songs silenced, suns burned out to husks of primordial dust. Things that on our world had passed were vibrant here, playing without care in fields of pink-hued vegetation under the protection of two red giants. On Planet X nothing was known of night, so our trade with them consisted primarily of darkness, of exotic fungi grown with great care on interstellar voyages. Who could have predicted the rise of those mold-ships after the barrier was broken, after the sphere was shaped, the dreams disintegrated? The sealed cubes and sunless tunnels, the endless burrows of heartbreak, all leading inexorably to Planet X, its fractal flora and diamond-hard surfaces, the way its light runs free and seeps into the cortex. How were we to anticipate the way the spores would cling and populate, the cruel gaze of blood-red oceans, the way each voyage there would shake something loose within us, would curdle our eyes? It was there on Planet X we learned to farm infectious warbling, the sound patterns repeating down and back within the core, illuminating time.
Neal Kitterlin lives with his wife and child in Matteson, Illinois. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, HOUSEFIRE, NAP, Red Lightbulbs, and other places. His e-chap, ‘Decisions’, is currently available from Love Symbol Press. Find him on twitter @NealKitterlin or at infinitegestures.tumblr.com.