Author Archives: alanaicapria

September 23, 2014 – Excerpt

“Sometimes I’m lucky and can find thick pieces of half-used graphite sticking out of the dirt. Then I put on rubber gloves and write scrawled messages on whatever empty wall surface I stumble upon. I write many things:

WE WILL MELT FOREVER.

THE SKIN IS NOT CONTAINED.

BEWARE THE HEAVY MOON.

…THOSE BAGS OVER THE HEAD?

SMELL WITH THE MOUTH.

I eat the graphite pieces for breakfast. I devour charcoal briquettes. I vomit sporadically and spontaneously.”

September 22, 2014 – Excerpt

“The gums were a filmy, milky white. The teeth came out red. Those rotten generations attempted to breed and so the degradation continued, one DNA pool after the next, each more mutated than the last.

When the reactor failed, a klaxon sounded. Now the klaxon shrieks every day at the strike of noon. It makes me think of sunshine.

The nuclear reactor has a sound that fills a radius of twenty-miles.”

September 19, 2014 – Excerpt

“There is a pig on the wall. There is a pig on the table, on the stairs, and stuffed inside the oven, where Christmas dinner waits to be slivered into rusted tins. You walk in circles, sucking on your thumbs. Whenever you step, your stomach cramps. Poor you. Poor you, walking back and forth, licking the walls whenever you turn the corners. Sometimes, the corner stops abruptly and you strike your nose against the plaster. Then, you are faced with a deep red bloom that crosses your face and disappears into your skull. You keep thinking about dinner. You want a meal you can stick your crosses into.”

September 18, 2014 – Excerpt

“Once, I saw a funeral where the cadaver was rolled in on a metal table and positioned beneath a meat hook. Ever so slowly, the cadaver moved across the table, flinging its body this way and that in a watery-sort of ballet, mouth loose and eyes relaxed, and when the meat hook dug into the small of the spine and set the body spinning back, almost in a sort of flesh-meets-metal embrace, I sobbed because of the beauty. Mother cried because she found the dance blasphemous. Father cried because he loved the dead body.”

September 17, 2014 – Excerpt

“I grew up eating greasy spoons. They were my mother’s specialty. When she was tired, she brought me to the diner for a tuna melt. When she was happy, she brought me to the diner for a dish of chicken pot pie. When she was miserable, she brought me to the diner for the Sunday Night Meatloaf Special. I always ordered everything with extra ketchup. I always finished my ketchup. I always licked the ketchup from my hands, then wriggled my fingers around until the air dried upon them, turning the skin stiff and breakable.”

September 15, 2014 – Excerpt

“I found the farmland and it was rotten. The ground was brown with putrefaction. What should have been the smell of moist dirt and fertilizer was more of a meat stench. I picked my way through the grass but it was more of a muck. The grass liquefied beneath my feet. I slipped in the putrid mud, then fell under. I clawed my way out but even lying on dryer grounds still left me moist. I leaned to one side and a stream of thin bile dripped from my mouth. I watched the bile pour onto the ground and the fluid was an unhealthy yellow, the sort of yellow heavy with fat and arterial deposits. This was not the apple orchards of my dreams. This was the kind of rotten liquid I had nightmares of. I felt my bowels loosen the longer I stared into the tree-filled horizon.”

September 12, 2014 – Excerpt

“The fever threatened to eat me. I walked slowly for a time, shuffling down the side of the street, my head looking down instead of ahead. The sunlight burned holes in my shoulders. I smelled smoking flesh. I knew I smelled myself. My pores barely sweated. There wasn’t enough fluid inside my body to spare. I barely remembered the last time I sipped water. What was liquid anymore? I paused from time to time to pick up a small rock and place it in my mouth.”

September 11, 2014 – Excerpt

“Whatever rabid packs of bodies ran up and down the sidewalks never left the concrete. It was easy to duck into the remains of an excavated basement or huddle in the back of a clogged attic. Relentless footsteps sounded in the backyards, the front yards, in the middle of the streets. The streets were no longer paths to other places. They were drop zones. They were ways to be targeted. I stayed low on the ground. I never went where there was nothing. I walked fast, then rolled away. Skeletal shrubs were safe zones. Vision eroded with the sunlight’s constant bursting. Too many retinas seared and became useless.”

September 10, 2014 – Excerpt

“The animals went radioactive. They were covered in boils and thick plaques knives couldn’t slice through. The hunting wasn’t one of our great concerns. Instead, we worried that the radioactivity might be contagious. If the animals became irradiated just by strolling past a copper pond in the early afternoon, what would happen if we drank the red water? We couldn’t know. It seemed that the houses were radiated, the sidewalks and chimney stacks. The trees released puffs of decaying ions into the air. If we breathed enough times, those isotopes would degrade further in our lungs, their chemical collapse causing a cataclysmic chain reaction of anatomic proportions.”

September 8, 2014 – Excerpt

“We wanted soap and water but both were gone. The water evaporated. In our desperate hunger, we took to greedily putting soap in our mouths. We chewed the soap up, spit the suds out, and swallowed whatever hard pieces were left behind. Our eyes rolled. We tilted our heads back and screamed until our vocal cords seemed fragmented. The sounds came from three directions. We weren’t throwing our voices; our voices were throwing us.”

September 7, 2014 – Excerpt

“Mother was gone. Father was gone. I was all alone. I walked and saw a man with an engorged head. He sat up. He sat down. He cried, Your name, your name! I watched his forehead turn bright orange, then yellow-red. The yellow-red was different from orange. The colors were partitioned, layered atop one another so that in thinner parts of the top layer, the under-layer was visible. I wanted to pick the color from his face [...]“

September 6, 2014 – Excerpt

“I drank a spoiled glass of milk and caught the infection quickly. Within a few sips, my throat was already lined with sores. I tasted them each time I swallowed. There was a sickly sourness packed in my mouth. It didn’t matter what I chased the milk with. Orange juice was sour. Meaty broth tasted too much like death. Water was like charcoal. I drank what I could, then vomited it on the floor. I spewed unnameable green things. I wasn’t the first to be stricken.”

September 5, 2014 – Excerpt

“Diseases ran down the ceilings in streams of thick black ooze. We looked outside and saw several men standing on the periphery of the front yard. They were lanky gentlemen with terribly long limbs and no faces. They were the slender men of plague. A single touch of their hands caused scarlet fever. We pulled the torn window shades down and hunkered on the floor. We knocked our heads against the walls. If we could sleep through the next few days, the slender gentlemen would give up and walk away. From behind the glass, we saw the snot dripping down their faces. They were such dirty men. They were nasty with infection. Several of us went outside armed with pots and pans.”

September 4, 2014 – Excerpt

“It was a game. Approaching the smoke was something to be done on a dare in the middle of the night with ghost stories repeating in our heads. Once upon a time, there was a man with a hook who killed lovers in the dark. Once upon a time, there was a woman whose neck painted the walls. Once upon a time, there was a room that was locked shut and a child who was told to never find the key. We lived for those stories until we went prowling through the smoke. Then we turned the corner, saw an inky black that moved but also did not, and immediately ran back.”

September 3, 2014 – Excerpt

“We found the cadaver in the midst of our stony void. The cadaver was face down on the ground. The cadaver whimpered continuously. The cadaver was fearful of brutal things. We brought knives against the cadaver’s face and sliced off thick pieces of cheek. The cadaver looked more and more like steak. We were so hungry. We stuck rocks in our mouths and chewed. We heard our teeth break before we felt it.”

September 2, 2014 – Excerpt

“Everything went wrong after the oil slick. Choppy black waves washed onto the shores, bringing with them clotted sediment and bloated dolphin carcasses. Half-drowned bodies vomited up petrol. Ducks were wrung out directly into car engines. Someone brought soap and bleach to the beaches but was only able to clean a square foot. Many of us tried cleaning the spill by dipping paper towels into the darkness. The paper absorbed a few tablespoons of oil, then dripped it back into the water. When we drank water, we drank the black. At first, our lips tingled from ingesting so much oil. Our smiles were gray. Our tongues were even darker. Over time, we began preferring the oily water to the clean water of our past. At least there was flavor. And clean mouths were overrated.”

September 1, 2014 – Excerpt

“There was nothing lean to eat. We ate fat with our hands. We doused old vegetables in lard and homemade butter. Our mouths were perpetually slicked with grease. We swallowed what we could and even brick chunks slid down the tubes easily. Our stomachs ached and when we shitted on the floor, it was with an explosion of brownness. We couldn’t identify anything in the messes. We saw what might have been styrofoam popcorn, the angled flaps of cardboard boxes.”

August 29, 2014 – Excerpt

The writing is now a weird, dystopian nightmare sequence thing. I’m not even done with my other project but I keep working on this one. I spent the week binge-watching Twin Peaks with the husband and I guess I was especially inspired. It’s always nice when the writing process is so compelling.

“All there was to eat was lobster. All the other animals were gone. Only the ones in shells remained. Those of us with shell allergies died quickly. It was not from malnutrition but from our hunger. We ate the lobsters and immediately suffered adverse reactions. Our throats swelled to three times the normal width although our passages constricted. We sucked air in but none made it past the tongue. We stabbed at the inflation with forks but the tines bounced off the leathery meat. It was a series of quick bounces, one-two-three, and then the throats sealed shut permanently. Our bodies fell onto the floor and whined through our nasal passages. Those of us without allergies watched the ones who suffered and felt badly, but not for long. The less of us there were, the more lobster we had to eat. We ate the claws. We ate the tails. We didn’t bother cracking the shells with our hands. We put pulled off pieces of body into our mouths and ate. The shells cracked against our tongues. The shell fragments caught between our teeth and tore up our gums. We spit up blood. We dribbled the redness into the drawn butter which was just the little bits of lard we were able to smuggle out of the cosmetic surgery dumpster.”

August 28, 2014 – Excerpt

“Sometimes we took turns sitting on the cadaver’s lap. It was desperate for human contact and we were happy to oblige. We loved the musky smell that came from its shoulders. Sometimes in our hunger, we would stick our tongues out and push them into the cadaver’s ears, lapping around the whorls until a chunk of waxy meat came free. We ate that chunk quickly, then reached in for more. More often than that we curled up on the cadaver and whispered our darkest secrets into its mouth. We told the cadaver that we wanted to put the baby into the dryer. We told the cadaver that when nervous we couldn’t help but stick handfuls of hair into our mouths. The hair could either be from our heads or taken from numerous floors, both strange and familiar. We told the cadaver that for a month straight, we ate all the green meat we could find, then suffered a debilitating stomach ache.”

August 27, 2014 – Excerpt

Out of nowhere, I started writing something new. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know how it will continue. I don’t know if it’s going to end up with a clear plot or end up being this weird, meandering, post-modern narrative. But I do know one thing. I like it. I like it very, very much.

 

“After the mouths went one way, entire bodies went to church. They filled wooden pews. Their backs ached from sitting so straight but it seemed right to demonstrate such proper posture. I sat near the back, remaining out of the way. Bodies packed in around me. We were anchovies in a religious can. We were sardines tucked tight into a pious net. We sat like so: |_ |_ |_. We were so good, so quiet, so sweet. We were everything the religious men would ever want. We kept the hymnals folded on our laps. We opened our mouths in prayers, then clapped our hands over our lips to keep from saying more. We muttered only what we were told. We recited, we repeated, we fell silent. Above our head, rotten leather shells swung from the flying buttresses and wooden crossbeams. Whenever the church doors swung open, a warm breeze came in as well, pushing the old shoes on their lines. The shoes were the last body parts belonging to the old, dead priests. The shoe tongues were so far gone that they vomited saw dust onto our heads. The priest beckoned us to walk to the front of the church and when we did, he laid his hands upon us, first one head, then another. He brushed his fingers through our hair. He shook our hair until the powder came off like dandruff.”

TRUE STORY NOTE: The shoes referenced in the piece actually exist. Or, they did exist, years ago, when I went to Spain. In one of the cathedrals, our group’s tour guide explained that the shoes of deceased priests were strung up from the rafters in remembrance of their dedication to the church. Old leather shoes hung in the air above our heads, moving slightly, then not at all. It was something I’ve never forgotten.

August 20, 2014 – Excerpt

“One day, I will be drowned where I stand.

One day, I will eat the bitter pith of someone’s abandoned orange.

One day, I will forget how you and I met.

One day, I will take all the sand in this place and swallow it. This will be done without water. It will barely be done with air.

One day, I will carve a second face from my first face, then ask everyone I meet to vote on which face they like best.”

August 19, 2014 – Excerpt

“I looked up and the sky was orange. The orange seemed unnatural and so I was weary. It seemed that the orange might grow a mouth at any moment, a mouth so large it would gobble me whole. My ears were clogged with static. I heard tin foil crumpling in my brain. I could not feel my hands but knew that my fingers opened and closed. I waited for the sun to set and darkness to come but the orange refused to diminish. The sun wasn’t visible in the sky. It remained hidden behind the orange sheen. I felt faint in its power. I thought I might die. The sands shifted around me, grainy waves rising and falling, revealing cow skulls and petrified leather hides. The flow crossed the horizon and extended on, everything—even the ground—bright orange. The sky seemed to yawn, then swallow.”

August 15, 2014 – Excerpt

“My arteries are beautiful. That is what you tell me. I want to listen to the celestial symphony. I should have known you would follow me here. You wandered the length of three deserts in order to find me. You were there in the silent room all that time ago. Instead of hearing me, you heard yourself. Your throat was so loud in your head. Your eardrums popped each time you swallowed. In addition to beautiful arteries, I have lovely thumbs and pretty knees. My ankles are inspiration. My shoulder blades are the bones that might launch a thousand ships, or at least three fleets of luxury automobile.”

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