by The Editors
The High Command came up with a plan: put an end to people thinking that Monsters were only something lurking in the back of the mind. The goal of this plan: cause terror. Make people notice. Inflict lasting damage on their psyches.
The plan circulated through the usual channels. Those days, we would spend at least an hour every morning and evening reading the news and other Monstrous bits, feigning disaster for the pleasure of it, for the thrill of the chase. Could this plan work? The answer: A whole qualified thumbs up.
Meanwhile, the Board of Engineers was using every effort to bolster the people with replacement Monsters. Nasty stuff… at least to those of us who didn’t grow up with it. We grew up with it. We knew what to expect. (A lesson here: give people microphones and tape recorders and they will create Monsters. We had absolutely no idea this would be a good thing.)
But the Monsters had also come up with a plan: aim for the root cause of the things. At first nobody noticed the difference—there were still plenty of Monster festivals with Monster tents and hundreds of people picnicing on the grass around them. But times had changed. Crossing the border of the human? This’s what middle class life is. Gradually, people got used to it. People died, but no government anywhere can prevent that.
One morning, the silence was broken. The sound getting closer, although you couldn’t see it coming. We knew what was coming. When we caught wind of the first signs, we packed up our gear in record time and headed for the river, freewheeling down the hill squeezing our true buddy—the Monster. Fresh squeezed monster.
Those days, it was so slow, almost impossible to see as the fire worked its way down into the city. We watched the fire riding through the towns, one by one, and the people shouting—as well they might—as the news spread and every child and woman and man took up the cry, with calls for this chant or that, and away they ran to see, as eventually we could all see, the sky sucking up the whole scene, carrying it up into the air, dispersing all we ever knew, carrying up all but the Monsters and the pitiful ones left to deal with the world that remained. Time cast its eyes to the fiery ceiling of sky hovering above.
A ceiling of fire in the sky that melted imperceptibly into invisible walls of men and women crying out like all hell, taking up the chorus. Stripped, and adopting an athletic posture like the tiger-skin man, we walked into the Monstrous fire.
What tends to emerge after the dust dies down is a whole lot of nothing.
We knew the terrible winds that filled the valleys, we could sense them in our throats, floating on the air, rolling along the waters. Folk had said the roads were lonely, said there was no human traffic, no human stirring. But the Monsters moved along the shadows, their skin covered with rashes and poison ivy. And when they left the shadows, they were like the shafts of fire.
We found some of the old things as fresh and clear as the morning. The bright breeze sighing, the invisible hints of the sky and earth, the sound of the falling water, the open air. The mornings, with the sky milky blue, the breeze over the Bay, so gentle. Ah! the feeling of the sun, of the light on your skin, the soft breeze and the cool water on your face. And then to remember, to wake up to the taste of vomit in your mouth. Never to wake up again to the clear morning, the birds singing, the green grass and the clouds walking across the sky.
Every morning we would make the rounds, and every morning we’d see the same skin jobs sleeping along the water. The Monsters awoke early each morning with a pain in their sides, howling. If only those howls could replace all the damn sleep we lost each night.
We had built up a supply of ammunition, food, and blankets. We stocked up on lots of crap like batteries and pet food and various things. We thought we had enough to last. But we didn’t realize the true challenge, being called out by a human who knows your name, being hailed from afar, across a howling winter rent by flames, and then to see right through the human, all the way down to the Monster, to see a clear fire glowing in their little eyes. That’s as bad as you’re going to feel all day because right then the day turns to night and never turns back again.
We’ve felt frightened for them who’ve not plunged their harnds into the heart of a Monster, their clean hands trembling in the face of this invisible fear. We’ve stared awestruck at beings holding the four elements in their claws. We cry out for the awfulness of it. We wake up in the middle of the night to see all that had existed burned up by fire and everything else rent by earthquakes. When it wakes you up in the middle of the night, don’t you think we know it?
Eventually, we tried another angle. For a while we cut out the crap food and ate fresh veggies—no dairy, no red meat, no pork. We cooked more fresh food. We hardly ever fried anything. We drank pure protein every night. When that didn’t work, we went totally off the clean diet and drank alcohol every night. At first, we had to force ourselves to drink the nasty shit—now we prefer anything with chemicals. Keep in mind that just about every food product you can buy is nasty stuff, that Monster oils are in just about every food product you can imagine. Monster fruits may be eaten whole, but buying canned Monster is ill advised.
All of this wasn’t necessary back when people used real hamburger and made their own bread dough, when the overall shape of the nucleus resembled a thick hamburger patty with a Monster on top. But now, all that stuff vegetarians eat—bird food, healthy nuts—are mostly used to enhance the physical appearance of Monsters, pillars of flame hiding behind masks of twigs and berries, weeping sweet juices.
A sodium glow smolders in the sky. The whole world lit up mysteriously by this yellow-gray glowing light. We looked on from the hilltops to see lines of dotted lights leading from one small town to another and on to a larger city, a new city hall growing up out of the middle of it all. On the slopes of hillsides stood dozens of horses, gazing naïvely at destruction. The scene so tragic, it’s a kind of poetry. People understand these kinds of things.
Later, the horses would use their tentacles to suck our blood and fill steel baskets with our juices. The horses leaping up in the air, that you might see their rolling muscles. The horses, their baked lips with many a bloody crack, suck’d in the moisture, which like nectar stream’d. It is particularly disgusting how they manipulated dead bodies, Monster and child alike.
Times are hard, but it could always be worse. It must really suck to live someplace like Australia, where everyone’s wearing leather, getting post-apocalyptic tattoos, constantly looking for gasoline. We lead a more quiet life, consuming our chemicals, sleeping fitfully to the howl of Monsters, casting our eyes to the fiery ceiling of sky above. One thing we learned—whatever you do, don’t pass up a vacant room because it seems too Monstrous. You may wake up out of touch with the Monsters, with a lot of ugly in your heart, soaked to the skin in the ugly Monstrous pitch of it all.
Maybe working towards the best idea of the Monstrous wasn’t such a great idea, but we feel like those people who start their day, every day at seven in the morning and don’t quit until they get things done. Those people are Monsters, but we’ve gotten used to them. Maybe people will die by misreading this study of the Monstrous, but a lot of people die. Maybe they too once saw the blue sky floating above the ceiling of this Monstrous world. Maybe they too saw the fire glowing from afar. Maybe this is where the idea of the afterlife comes from. Maybe this idea is already on sale at some nasty uptown auction house.
But the idea is a simple one and it has already been proven to work. Besides, it’s no more absurd than any other Monstrous innovation lately.
Trepan 5: Monstrous. Jason Brown and Mathew Timmons. Superbunker, 2006