World Record Attempt Fatality Laughter Extract X

World Record Attempt Fatality Laughter Extract X

A Story by Brett Hernan

    As a memory, I loved you better. He stabbed himself right in the mirror. A travelling carnival with sideshow alley mirror maze from which certain selected members of the public were never to find their way out. We tried those places you used to go, but from all of them you were now, long gone. After being kicked from its hinges, in lieu of their capacity to support, the multitude of locks on the inside of the door held it hanging, unevenly askew. A gun is only one of the many existing methods used to kill.

    There's something we're not being told. Riding through the desert at night and trying to find amidst the static, a still broadcasting station on the car radio, which served to help estimate our distance between cities we were unsure even still existed. He was surprised it was possible to hide so many bodies in there. Everyone needs a special room, the door of which they just open and then throw into, their junk. Last time I saw him he was screaming, not into, but at, the phone. It's a pity he didn't make it. Gulping water on a hot day. It's almost completely worn off now. Looks like there's a storm coming. Wondering what that goo might be? Sometimes, those wearing plastic shopping bags are the very persons to whom one must attentively listen, and in this case, he was correct, as increasingly the wind licked at the edges of his fraying plastic garments.

    By degrees the sky darkened, and as each took shelter, the sound of the birds progressively disappeared. We made safe harbor there until dawn. Next morning we found that during the night he had disappeared mysteriously. The quality of some of their mechanical equipment I did not approve, and so registered my concerns about facing the potential danger of becoming stranded overnight out in the glacier fields. No one would speak.

    Fingers stretched reaching, as in a dream, never making contact; a distance so tiny, and yet a gulf, unsurpassable. The fuel had gone bad. He revealed himself endowed with the ability to make large numbers of trees move. Among the warm and hairy spiders kept in his coffin, he offered to let me sleep. It turned out all five of us had, the night before, experienced the same dream. A scent, akin to that of burning honey, wafted over us. Upon registering such a heinous juxtaposition, combining the scent of the venerable and good earth's flower-nectar with that of wanton destruction, there was exposed a quizzically distressed look in the eyes of all seated round the campfire.

    You must know he soon has to die. We're about to lose radio contact. Fortunately, all of his delusions were realities. Formed by whispers. Many mattresses, padding out the world to emulate the soft, spongy, army helmet green, mossy hollows where once we slept beneath branches, heavy laden with hanging stars. I sometimes thought on winter nights the weight of all those blankets might suffocate me. We will go there, you and I, and I will show you how to forget. The 'big secret' (and surprise) is that all rainbows are vanilla flavored. We have 'no'. All of us are just watching for the lights, and when they arrive, for them to change. The sound of a metal blade raked across, long since dried out, bone. We kiss to prove what we share fills our mouths. That we speak in agreeance and that within us exists a belief in a shared truth. If you can find silence, lean deeply into it and you may faintly perceive within, the song of the earth. His smile resembled a house with all of its windows burned out. Her beauty really had been an enchanting possession. Hands far apart. To end: close your eyes and point. Every word is as furnace-molten bronze, poured into your mold. That fourth eye was again back. Thunder made, inside the cage, berserk, our canary. When outside I saw also all of the wild birds acting just as strangely. Do not ever look away from the eyes.

    After the family permanently vacated the house, whether by accident or design, the little girl still there remained. Many were the admirers of the volume at which he was capable of snapping his fingers. Finding her relied upon the honesty of those who answered, and the meticulous calling of every number in the phone book. At this conjecture it appears only you and I have survived, and I'm not too sure about me. Chocolate was deemed the societal reward for establishing correctly the designated ongoing inhabitation of someone else's nightmare. Drones took the place of birds. Looking into each of the recently vacated bedrooms was like finding in a second hand book, purple, fading, black and white photos of persons unknown, but whom you could be certain, by now, must surely be deceased. Their nightclub patron attendance levels suffered immeasurably from their over-zealous coat check room attendant, who extended her service to include the unwelcome checking of coat pockets for all cash, drugs and other valuables. We realised the paranormal experiences they'd endured were going to be of an intense nature when the recounting of the recorded detail of events began with, 'Day One...'

    When I left the hospital it was astounding to realise that I had not entered during that still dark part of early morning as I had believed it to be. Instead of finding, behind the emergency department's sliding glass automatic exit doors, (blacked out to dissuade ghoulish gore seeking members of the public, 'collectors' and other multifarious types of video camera equipped, perverts), not the brightness of yet another in a string of the greatest hits of Summer's first few illuminated days, but the toadstool's shadow, ink chill of late night. And this, with still many long hours to wait until the opening of the city's only quayside, hot-dog closet (within sane walking distance).

    That was the point where we realised it was following us. I was forced to scream in order for them to be able to hear my voice above the wind and rain. The power went out. Night train rides to unknown destinations. We came to the end of the line. He warned me that things would change once the lights went out. Every day yet another child's toy was found tied to a branch of the dead tree, appearing without explanation, somehow, even when its location had been placed under continuous, all night observation. We were again woken by the screaming.

    Do it yourself plastic surgery worked out about as well as had facial tattooing by feel alone. Precisely at that moment I ceased to be in the room and instead merely became the consciousness of the fact that there existed a room. Like a dream about houses in a town you passed through hundreds of times in a car, but never once stopped in to take a look around. Arched railway bridge aqueducts in rows funneling cool darknesses, standing above dragonfly patrolled, evaporating ponds, swarming with mosquito larvae, yolk pinstriped leeches, prepubescent tadpoles and fluffy seed shedding, velveteen bulrushes. Red, post dust storm residues, swept into corners and concealing minute crashed spaceship alien refugee creatures seeking immediate release by burrowing through to some other place. One with all of the sparkle of a, footpath skun-polished, fallen knee, where it was ever Halloween, (and night) and, for entertainment, impromptu, light-show spectacle in the darkness, the local brigands dragged along on chains behind stolen muscle cars, the bundled remnants of zip-tie bound, barnacle-encrusted shopping trolleys, of every variety and vintage.

    She took off in 1968, 'to go find herself'. Every once in a while a letter came, but I couldn't write back as she never included any return address. Her last letter stated she had joined a troupe of travelling circus performers, which struck me as particularly suspicious. After that, no one ever heard from her again. All of the circuses have gone out of business since that time. Animals with balloons tied to their tusks and tails, all set free or long since wound up a special delicacy on some gourmet's menu. Big top tents dismantled and turned into rough punishment bed sheets for prisoners. Tent poles sold to hoist atop power lines, or be recycled into so many tooth packs of (1000 count) picks. Limp afflicted tight rope and high wire act turned on commission employees for plastic tombstone hire and wholesalers. Slaving for their violently alcoholic, cigar stub chewing, former clown bosses, on doctor's orders no longer allowed to daily ingest MDMA and confined, by previous bad marriage ending in divorce forced maintenance payments to inhabit shabby, spider infested offices located beneath busy six lane highway overpasses and off the side of 65c discount centre basements where, by shout, they issue imperative, delivery address instructions via static loaded two way radios, always snarling in way too much of a hurry to be understood and therefore ensuring their products dispatched summarily incorrectly addressed and consistently delivered, far too late, to wrong addresses by delivery drivers too busy just plain goofing off to care.

    Had those searching for the viper with a knife gaffer taped onto a debranched tree limb been aware of its nature as a malevolent psychic projection, their oblivious nervous trepidation could have been foregone. However, the notion that someone, or a group of persons, were capable of causing such a disturbing illusion to so realistically manifest, at will, brought with it an even worse set of fears. If you have the right eyes you may see them at night before rows of smoke white poppies in fields extending below the moon, as though tending to their growth, ghosts crowding the fields of slumber. Even whilst asleep did he make tiny hand gestures which, during his waking hours, could have been responsible for so much movement, all across the planet. Translation: 'Quiet now, Your war is over.' His other flatmates ignored the fact their fellow was blind.

    Empty, the dais remains crisp, unspoilt and never occupied, surrounded by the strewn residues of those once in the crowd of seekers who have killed one another at the precipice threshold of its acquisition, for it may seat but one, when in the mad exhilaration of youth, resonating, with each accumulated second, ever greater vibrating, death, may approach, unseen, to vanquish. Not sure if I should try to walk in fear the soles of my feet might lose their adhesion to the ceiling, I declared aloud, in a language of my own invention, minorly perceiving, fleetingly, that the soap I'd washed my face with contained some exotic potent hallucinogen, capable of leaving me unable to determine the purposes of the otherwise mundanely everyday, before I forgot once again, for a minimum of 25 years, an idea fleeting through the mind of a    jellyfish.

    The louder into the storm I yelled, the deeper within it he seemed to move. Go very far away. Come straight back again. Bomb-bay doors open on military jets at night, showering city with flashing, novelty, multi-colored, light emitting diodes and really weirding people out. He loved her but it did no good. All you want to do is forget. The moon never looked further away. Drawing a circle in the beach sand around where we'd hopefully sleep tonight, (if not assaulted by visions of things not necessarily physically embodied).

“Hey, check out what I can do!” he, sideshow-hawker like, proudly declared, attracting the innocently fawning, unsuspectingly inquisitive, soon wishing they could (please) forget and never again recall, surrounding party-goers, as, with rusted, post-world war, economically rationed steel-quota dictated necessarily spartan, generically designed, hand operated can opener, he commenced peeling back slathering chunks of his face to reveal beneath, portions of white plastic-like, skull bone.

    Forewarned not to try this infamous 'party trick', he was condescendingly offered the use of a donated needle and thread at the French window door exit, acquiescing agreement that their warnings had not been invalid, and his stunt had revealed itself tonight as a one time only event. Anything to regain entry, but nothing worked. Another prospective entrant made himself present, running from out of misty darkness, past rows of poplar trees with things incomprehensibly mysterious for their categorical situation upon the earth, from branches dangling, unknown in classification as either mineral, vegetable or animal. Breathlessly, he revealed the source of his terror with an anguished declaration,

“Man, I've just met up with my actual self!

    Turning the page of the book to one with its corner previously folded by an earlier reader, he recognised the handwriting penciled into the margin, 'some things should remain unrecorded' attached to a dash leading to a passage describing the protagonist's realisation that his psychic ability to perceive from a distance, (of any type), into the consciousness of another, had been altered, with an addition to the natural psychic equipment, in the form of the ability to determine whose mind it might be that was attempting to probe that of the other, thereby summoning within him a reaction of psychic repulsion, akin to that of a child inquisitively fingering the mucus membranes of a Slater bug and it reacting by defensively curling, immobile, into a segmented, lead-grey, exoskeleton armored ball, or a snail, when automatically retreating into a repulsing, foaming drool of piss-yellow froth, whilst sequestered into a tight knot of flesh, deep within its protective shell. Both of which, as examples, proved similarly as equally weak and flimsy defensive barriers from a thought wave probe of that magnitude, as might the sugar coating of a chocolate bean before the swift, fully canter-levered impacting swing of an industrially sized, wrecking ball.

    Drafting letters to the night proved a diversion, amusing. A method fulfilling the ability to deliver their envelopes was the secret obsession progressively driving every line to its fulfillment. We'd here entered a type of gathering, in a space, the nature of which, it was impossible to determine. Where people silently acknowledged, with a knowing look or slight bow of the head, when ever coming across someone whom they considered familiar, before again moving through the crowd. Deciding against a future as machine operator at the bug spray aerosol can factory, the realisation dawned that relinquishing control and losing control were not of a like nature. A back-catalogue of songs specifically regarding the topic, 'people remembered after death'. Invisible pictures. Everyone ripped out a few pages. In unison or singly capable of releasing from their bodies by cell built, coronal-spray ejection, an adept assistant, he commenced the process of constructing one of these vaunted, neurally-controlled, non reciprocally communicating, secondary being, slave body units, warning us, (direly) to, in no way, cross the cell projecting beam whilst it was actively engaged in the forming process. These periods of operation might be discerned by the issuing presence of a watery, pond scum green light and the accompanying scent of a perfume, not quite artificial bubble gum, jungle fruit flower or triple X, death adder chili, barbecue sauced lunar spider meat, but ranging somewhere between these.

    Sometimes spontaneously ejected in miniature, just prior to death, (if sufficient time availed), delicately minuscule avatars requiring voice amplification to be heard when speaking at the weekly meeting and, without a primary functioning restraining controller, proving themselves often rather irritating for their incessantly unrelenting, poesy lamentations over the inevitable approach of death. This type of derivation was deemed acceptable, as long as the narrative was amply revived toward conclusion, although the frequency of this practice waned as acceptance dwindled.

    Following the day I accidentally stood on some, what was most remarkable, and thus served to garner even more comprehensive international news media attention, was that this had taken place whilst we were apparently subject to zero gravity, or according to the dimensions allotted scope for conjecture within the boundaries of the scandal, we should have been.

My ability to spontaneously transform into a famished great white pointer shark was not well received by parents or children at the municipal wading pool. Gun fight by candlelight. Red lips by strobe light. Histrionic toddler's banana discarding. We'd arrived somewhere not appearing on any map. Saying nothing wasn't working. I heard he was coming in at midnight. The ritual was to begin shortly after, he said, trying desperately to insert a plug of carved carrot into each nostril. I wasn't really sure if I should answer.

    “See? Unhindered, it assumes enlargement, but shrinks back away again at the slightest touch into gurgling, sea foam edged holes in the rocks surrounding these sun warmed, tidal pools. A microcosm, resembling the passions stored within the human heart, throughout the ages, in the endless sea.”

I discovered his TV channel selector knob glued permanently to a non-broadcasting, static channel.

“Best show on TV!” he replied, returning to his nearby armchair and focusing on what, without another pair of the special goggles, was revealed to his eyes alone. As one tasked with voicing a narrative description, recounting events transpiring since the beginning of the documentary featuring reenactments of the circumstances in which his actual murder had taken place, his presence proved somewhat problematic.

    Our drifter, the one I recall from my early childhood, considered not possessing a home evidence of having achieved global citizen status, with a lifetime lease on whatever landscape he happened upon. Rulers who spend the entirety of their reign erasing evidence of the achievements of their predecessor often find themselves, by history, almost completely forgotten. He received a clear indication of what his family truly thought of him when they gift him a book entitled, 'How To Self Diagnose Insanity'. Had he noticed, it would have seemed astounding the way in which life might appear entirely insignificant and capably frittered away as meaningless, without guilt or negative consequence, when engaged in the watching of afternoon TV game shows. Sometimes it proves expedient, when the wind blows, to open your hand and let your palm be emptied. To honour them, he associated every past recollection with the notion that constantly, somewhere, it was always the occasion for both sunset and sunrise. If the past wasn't haunting him, I could tell from his face that it ought to be.

    He had wished to live the life of a man whom never had he known, but instead was only a shadow, lost in a crowd of likewise shadows, travelling by public train to the point from which he'd departed and lingering in lines that only ever together met again at their own end. On the moon's shadow side reside the secrets that died along with those who refused to speak. Ventricular traffic jams. Little do we know. Dogs bark at night. Through windows, fog flows. Shattered glass. Drained away like dying flame.

    She didn't sleep forever, but she did sleep long enough to sleep it all away. They're coming for you. Sooner or later we'll be gone. Living under the shadow of the bomb had consequences still unknown. From second to second she either laughed ecstatic, overwhelmed by a boundless euphoria, or wept miserably at the profoundly sorrowful realisation that the terminal instant offered nothing to justify such emotions. Asleep and dreaming on an unknown highway in the back of the car. A hitchhiker not knowing where they were, headed toward an unknown destination. Someone who had changed names with such frequency that they were unsure what their real name once was. Replicating the rhythm of your breathing. Surgery to change one's appearance. Games ending in death. Islands not marked on any map. Stolen false teeth. An attack rendering his face disfigured was said to have taken place at the kitten enclosure, yet no witnesses lived to tell.

    According to the employment agency, 'Tamagotchi Herder' was not an acceptable career goal. Bullet hole scars don't tend to increase the beauty of a perfectly formed musculature. We've all been immortalised in oil paint on black velvet as clowns with tear-soaked cheeks. In the child's tender nostrils the scent of so many decaying blooms remained sweet whilst treading along, led by the hand through the tombstones. Toward the end I painted my hair with red patches, slipped on the jumpsuit, and took one long, last look at the ruined city surrounding me, before stepping into the cockpit and unhitching the tie lines holding fast my dirigible. If you are beautiful, it doesn't matter.

    I left there, knowing she had gone long ago. We drove through a city to which I'd never before been, and yet somehow intimately knew. The facade of every dwelling and their situation in the landscape of hills were as though daily encountered streets, seen so often that the observing of familiar features had become an automatic process, enacted without the acknowledgement of a certain architecturally unusual door lintel design or oddly shaped, concrete formed, oval window. All of these features of the city appeared as uniquely new to me as would the arrival of dawn, the features of which remain within the boundaries of a prescribed pattern, yet appear distinctively altered in every detail of their arrangement with each renewing arrival.

    By then he hardly felt anything anymore but the far apart strobes of sudden joy, chilled by the distances traveled to attain these. A deletion, cast impervious, to the tides. A monologue accompanied his dreams in the form of an audible narration detailing progression, with insights fully illuminating events with precisely rendered verbal descriptions adding those dimensions otherwise absent. A logical appearing accompaniment yet, when analysed with stark, waking logic, proving wholly absurd.

This had later decayed, like handwriting hastily applied to a concept far too immense for the writer's available vocabulary to successfully describe within the time allotted by circumstances to record and thus, retrospectively appearing upon the page, indecipherable. Nothing but phonic sounds, jammed close together in order to create the impression of some sentient intelligence passing cogent in formation between consciousnesses. Yet, in this case, his was asleep and awake all at once. Neither asleep nor awake, but, in tangent, both insomniac and somnulant, permanently.

    There is neither start nor stop. All the various peoples of the earth working the counter in suburban burger joints that never close, where the only distinction is the differences in bite pattern. Those noticing, freaked out by the lone, long staring customer, caught unable to look away from the last in a row of adjacent windows displaying an unbroken view of a strip of freshly minted, morning sky. Across the road, a flashy show of power presented before, golf course deposited, first generation, nursery purchased, newly established, sapling gum trees, beside the bus stop that every day took people away to either the shoplifting center or to settle final accounts at the courthouse. Unable to determine whether that was overlooked egg shell crunching or the partial disintegration of that bad tooth? There was a play on words, kind of like the deliberate impression of a forest given by this strategically positioned adornment of token, native trees, clumped about the suburban golf course to create the illusion of a valid, replacement wilderness contrived by design to deceive those who'd never traveled into the actual for comparative proving.

    No one's buying. Snug and warm in self delusion, like an undisturbed mouse nest in an unused laundry trough, overflowing with last winter's soiled blankets, chewed clean into a makeshift humidicrib, pampering, pompadour of warm, nylon fluff surrounding, hot pink, bald skinned, black eye lid sealed blind, newborn mice. In those hours where no one looks but by shifting sideways glances, great painter's obliviously distant descendant, myopic, great, great grandchildren work the coffee machine with eyeglass lenses repeatedly steaming over. Defying temporary permanence, 4.00 am automatic doors regale absence, retreating into their hidden wall recesses to open and wait for either the departure or arrival of ghosts, determining, inevitably, they've passed by and then, with an equally spectral silence, reappear, to slide their seals together shut, locking out the penniless, night dark. Last words before execution, lost to the triumphant roar of the crowd.

© 2021 Brett Hernan


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Added on December 10, 2021
Last Updated on December 10, 2021

Author

Brett Hernan
Brett Hernan

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia



About
Low-resolution sample only. Born 1968. All of the images accompanying each of these written works are my own. (Except that one of the guy putting a flower into a soldier's rifle barrel!) more..

Writing