DISPATCHES FROM THE DEATH PLANET
Glitch dog wakes me up with its electrostatic tongue and the same woof.wav. Chromatic drool staining the collar of my shirt.
“Are you hungry?” Woof. Of course not. It doesn’t need food. I guess it’s just the idea of a dog. Probably shouldn’t be alive. Can’t bring myself to kill it. Its fur bristles with static as I pet it. Another day in a metaverse of blood and binary. From the window, the same copy-pasted trees, placed evenly beside a repeating flat texture of bitmap tarmac. Polygons sharp enough to slice yourself open. I should know. Glitch dog gets caught in a figure-eight loop, circling around my feet and the pile of weapons, harvested from the dead and wish-they-were-dead. Severed mutant mantis legs. Hagfish slime oozing shotgun. Bandolier of wriggling grub shells. Take what I can to be stronger. The rest to add any colour to a lifeless room. Neon blood splatter and a daily tally dug out with nails. How many days now? Impossible to say. One day I forgot to add a mark and when I came back to it I couldn’t be sure if I’d just missed one.
I stare through the gurgling sniper scope on the window-sill. A straggler from the day before, skittering on all fives, middle back leg scraping mulched data bone on asphalt. Trigger squeeze and it’s squeezed out across the road, limbs extending to infinity before flickering out into blood decals and void. I don’t take pleasure in this.
(yes you do)
Fine. But I have to. Else, what? Splatterpunk anhedonia? A world cannot be lifeless if I can paint the walls with blood. The click-clack-screech of the bug bolt action. Glitch dog clambers up on the sill. “Can you see any more of them?” Its fur lights up like a prism in the volumetric light. No woof feels like “no”. Clearly I’d been too thorough. Can’t afford to let them gestate. Time breeds awareness, the one advantage I have. The day night cycle is about to shudder into dusk, and then there would be more, so many more. I scritch glitch dog behind the ears and his vertical mouth flops his head open. Good boy.
Ray-traced into the mirror. Or maybe it’s just a trick, maybe there’s another room with another me behind the wall, just as long as I look into the jagged glass.
(look at you)
I am looking. Well. Staring forward. More into the distance behind me, behind the mop of silver hair and sunken features. Focus those brain grey eyes. I shove my slug tongue back into my mouth. Cut my finger on shark teeth. Necessary sacrifices to continue to live. Better to transform yourself to face the world than let the world transform you. Focus on the brief warmth of self-injury, so different than what they do to you. Intimate. Glitch dog licks the puddle of me. Straighten your blood-stained tie. Look presentable. For the end that never comes.
“Stay…” Glitchdog.exe is unresponsive, do you want to send an error report? “I’ll be back later.” The words catch. When was the last time I talked to someone, not just to myself? To a dog? That supposes there was a before. The how’s and why’s and when’s had become boring cycles ago. I grab the shotgun and bandolier and take the elevator. It does not go to any other floors. Perhaps there’s people I just keep missing. I doubt it.
Is this world made for you?
Are you made for this world?
No. Nothing belongs here.
Night is coming. They are coming.
Remember the first day? Spent with a heart full of electrically charged puke, an organ inverted in purpose, spreading its anti-life through heavy flesh. Where did I hear that before? No real memories. Just ephemera. Just enough context to know that this is wrong. I didn’t know where I was. I still don’t. Alone. Weaponless. I didn’t even make it to the portal, that vomiting splatter mouth in the sky.
But I met its friends. Spewed out half thoughts and mangled hatreds collaged into something approximate to life. Affine-texture warped faces cycling through expressions every alternate frame.
(Please point to the face that most accurately describes your pain.)
They tore me along the dotted lines. How much of yourself do you have to lose before you become meat, wormfood, something less than the sum of your parts? They never fucking stop making fucking noise, chitinous skittering and screaming through mangled throats. They pull out my veins and stuff them in their mouths like kids with earthworms. But they can’t keep them down. After a few eat and puke cycles they give up and leave me in pieces.
(Little scissor cut human)
At first I always failed.
They are voracious.
(But now you have a gun)
Wander the streets long enough and your eyes no longer process their surroundings, your feet on a track, the distance no longer a real measurement. Just time. But I’d had time enough to ponder my predicament. Just because something feels like a punishment doesn’t mean it is. It doesn’t count if no-one’s watching. Is the killing the punishment, or the death?
(No one said you needed to kill. Is it etched into your brain?)
It’s kill or die.
(But you’ve died already. Over and over)
If I die, I just reappear in another corner. I did that for a while. It loses its appeal.
(Maybe you’re not a human after all)
Maybe that’s why I hadn’t killed the dog. Externalise your will to live.
(A creature of living gore)
Besides. Something feels different today.
MY LITTLE SLUNK QUEEN
There it is. An open sore in the skybox, a mile wide, spewing up the remains of another world. My world, maybe. Or something in between. Dozens of bodies tumble at half framerate to avoid tanking performance. Mere seconds before they notice me.
I raise the shotgun. Ooze drips onto my fingers.
They hit the ground, legs flailing like gassed roaches. I step forward.
One of them notices me, a humanoid type. Its head lolls on a shattered neck, inverted features opening to scream.
The grub shell explodes from the chamber and tears through the vitruvian whore. The world framed through an exit wound. Ride the death frisson until you feel alive. I gain ground and tear off its head with my hammer fist. I can feel the acid in its blood. Perfect. Establish dominance, then begin.
[bug mutant scrambles to take the skull of its fallen comrade from my hands]
[I toss the head like a handgrenade. Even creatures this stupid can’t help curiosity]
[skeet shoot the head and shower them with caustic viscera]
(How could there be sex here)
Splattering the injured drones is almost automatic.
(it’s a pure world. There’s nothing pure about sex.)
Emptiness isn’t purity. Two shots into a fan blade headed bear. Machinery moaning.
(A shame. You’re good at emptying things.)
The blades stick into the mantis climbing over the bear’s colossal frame. Its head meets the butt of my shotgun. An arc of hagfish slime and blood. Home run.
(Are you having any fun here?)
Fun doesn’t enter into it. Fear, sometimes. Sometimes I’m afraid. Even if death never comes. Even if the world never defeats me. No matter how many times I prove myself. No matter how sharp and cold and monstrous I am. The same fear.
Glitch dog had followed me out, somehow. “Get out of here!” I sink my shark teeth into the thigh of a churned up computer doll. “Go on, get!” Mouth full of microchips and muscle fibre. Each gesture is the same in glitch dogs’ glassy eyes. “You stupid fucking-”
That impersonal pain again. A hand of needles embedded into my shoulder. An organ terrorist that wants to be whole.
(Are you whole?)
It pulls my arm from the socket. Glitch dog tilts its head and stares at the fountain of me splattering the pavement. I fall to the ground, eyes cut on low detail textures. Somehow I can feel it shoving my limb inside itself, anything to be more human.
(What makes you different?)
I try to reach for glitch dog, his putrescent purity blurred through the gaps of my fingers.
(Your existence is wrong. Malformed. No different than what you kill.)
“The difference is…” My fingers find the mantis corpse. Pull…
(There will be another like you. That will deem you impure. And you will finally be erased)
I shove the mantis arm into the stump and bury my blade into the skullfucked cunt that stole from me.
I will climb out of that hole on a mountain of bodies, splattering the world with me, a bleeding edge nightmare of shark teeth and slug tongue but human, FUCKING HUMAN, and I will bury you in your content, I will ram a rifle down your pipeline, I will swim through the cold bile of your vomit sore and rule over you as a magical gore girl, I will be the one thing you can’t take away from me and there will be no catharsis because I have no anger for your insipid creations, soulless assemblies, because even if there’s no such thing as a soul I have something, a crystallised hate that will make me live forever in spite, an engine heart that will be fuelled forever because
YOU WON’T KILL ME
and everything is dead.
I am surrounded by less than human wreckage. Bits of my brain cats-cradled in my fingers.
(Just meat stuff.)
A giant hand reaches from the hole.
(You did it)
I hold onto glitch dog.
But he is indifferent.
(The world will disappear)
“Please.” The hand pulls the hole open wider.
(Behold Her, the Servant of the Great Accumulator)
“Please.” A colossal meat angel. Intestines of hair over one eye.
(LOXVII, MISTRESS OF THE UNKNOWABLE DEATH)
“Someone.” No veins, her outsides slick with ever dripping blood.
(OH BROKEN CHILD)
“Anyone.” A mile wide grin that could swallow worlds.
(OH SLAUGHTERED WORLD)
“Hold me.” She giggles, intestines fluttering at 12 FPS.
(THERE WILL BE SUCH A TERRIBLE SILENCE)
A headless flock of metal slaves hover about her head.
Her hand reaches me.
I lift up the shotgun.
“YOU FUCKING COWARD”