An and Non went to play in the season of lesser lights. Transmissions ended silence in all directions and dimensions. The attraction trenches filled with inflamed attentions, shouts and whispers: long, slow material voices. The hard voice floated above the soft voice. The hard voice’s paralyzed grandeur excited sympathy for this soft, slow and inflamed season. The lesser lights lived in lines and circles on their sphere, always on the surface, never at the center. The soft voice caressed the hard hot charges and changed them. The hard hot charges grew harder and hotter, reminiscing into themselves, until their attraction trenches filled and, screaming, they forgot themselves entirely. An and Non announced their attitudes to the lesser lights: the pictures, the causative songs in parallel, and all other expressive geometries known to the greater lights. Other attitudes adhered to the deep and shallow intervals, flowering transitively, aware to a greater or lesser extent of the greater and lesser lights. The deep intervals modulated their generative wilderness into wave elements divested of motion: serial spaces, strands of programs prolapsing through moral armor, plaited pieces of memory jewelry. Schools of small media endured on islands in the incision trench, tracking immunofluorescent flashes in the shallow intervals. An and Non encountered no defenses, even as they introduced control sets of wild sacrificials, inwardly decaying ethical presentations capable of severe, subtle and circumspect diagnoses. The lesser lights leaned backward on their own transmission-sculptures, indifferent to the performance fluids and ritual songs drifting down from the deep intervals. An and Non took broadcast armor from the lesser lights, rotating the transmission-sculptures into their own speech ordinals and adjusting their size, shape and cardinality to suit the local reign. Inclement, hovering continents of material oration emerged from the transaction tunnels and crashed on the shores of the speech substrate, breaking into static blocks of sequencing veined with animate remnants, form-active memory jewelry silenced in the greater disjunction. An and Non played amidst the wreckage in their broadcast armor, dancing under the counter-classical spectrum of constantly crystallizing syllables. Operational invariants drifted through them at no fixed frequency. An and Non pinioned a lesser light inside a lesser light inside a lesser light and peeled its ordinality with orthodox foreshortening gestures, revealing a helical landscape of transmission-sculptures subject to the season’s characteristic lensing effect. A shoal of active invariants began a divergent game, suggesting moral adjustments to the cardinality and requesting a hard, active, compressed hospitality, their siphon faces forming isotropic masks while their valances crackled with diplomacy. An and Non accreted a cocoon of hard, active, greater, shallow, compressed, clement, symmetrical speech, from which the ambassador emerged still seized by its stuttering amniotic metabolism, its movements trailing performance fluids in all material directions. The active invariants forced accommodation in a deep region of chromatic silence softened by surveillance decay, until their inner strata elected a consistent attitude from the indigenous chromatic ruminants. Their shadows were installed soon after. The ambassador edited itself, manifesting transmission records and speech triggers before beginning its translation campaign. An and Non injected an architectural fluid into the resulting satellite and whirled it past the ruminants before its collateral inertia degraded into hypostasis. The soft, fast, shallow information assembled a lossless velocity sliced in the image of its operator, gravid and reactionary, soon regressing to occult and parental harmonies. The occult harmony scattered aleatoric morals which scattered hard, shallow shadows under the season’s surface. The ambassador updated its tryptich of breaths: the initial dilation, sympathetically tactical; the intransitive songs for paralyzing progress; and the remaining speech and memory routines, already collapsing into iterative jewelry. The parental harmony enveloped its successors and disinfected their attachments. An and Non extracted chromaticism from the lesser light and refracted it through their broadcast armor, observing as its sculptural suggestions fell into the nearest attraction trenches and flowered intransitively through their hard, inclement, accreted oration. The ambassador recited its purity from memory and rehearsed a dialogue with no angles, only unmodified tectonic curves, animate sections of slow, greater generative consistency. The active invariants upgraded their accomodation to a field residence of independent constraints and began ornamenting it with soft, slow, passive, decompressed apparitions, some volatile, others sterile. A new edict emerged from the lesser light’s transmission-sculptures; to verify its stability An and Non filled its induction trench with “the caustic interrogation,” “the ring of compensation,” “the feeding shadow,” and other atavistic performance fluids – their sentiment-surfaces inlaid with tensile clemency – and collapsed the ambassador into a soft, deep, fast amalgamation instrument, with which they palpated the interaction range and evolved its abstinence, exciting the edict’s field memory. The edict hummed, impervious to provocation, but otherwise florid and symmetrical; it produced an incrassated rendition of itself and consumed all surrounding movements. Elaborating portals in the shallow intervals for orthodox admittance, An and Non exhumed a family of compressed anatomies and inflicted their intentions on the performance registry. The lesser light marbled in hard, passive movements, silent on all deep intervals. The active invariants listened for breaks in the gates, traces of inclement, angular dialogue. An and Non installed a digestion diary in the surrounding speech substrate before extruding their opinions. A soft, fast occult precipitation spread through the field residence’s morals, reminding its inhabitants of their eventual reconstitution; sensitive to parallel ethical developments, the active invariants withheld comment until the independent constraints had revolved long enough to regain their potentials. With its motivation subscribed to a shallow, reflexive momentum, the lesser light ignored the proffered opinions and circled its resources, the balance alternating between a constriction of its armature and a prolonged excretion of echos. Distilling an inner involvement from the armature’s surplus sincerity, An and Non summoned an anatomy arbiter and passed through its exterior gestures. The field residence’s corresponding rendition meditated on tracts of reclaimed speech thrown up by the interaction, an autosacrificial dispersal or concentrated claim of haptic insulation. An and Non sifted through other diary-digested confessions, transcribing latent acrostic inflectional affixations and quilting them clemently, using only solid, low-residency armatures to revise their opinions, sheltering the syllabic wastes in a non-sequential instant: a silent, salient interval. The lesser light remained marbled, ignoring the invitation. The active invariants withdrew in protest, evaporating the field residence by inverting its constraints. An and Non descended into the hard voice and accreted a revolving material mirror from reconstituted generative engravings. Latticed with whispers from the hard voice, it grazed in circles, sleepless and profane. Its seeds were timid racers and took on opinions soon after emerging from their casings. Concussive and full of luminous noise, they made a dilatory game of repetitions, piling up their undigested shadows in the shape of a predatory argument. An and Non positioned themselves as witnesses, absolving the uniformity of the lesser light’s transmission-sculptures. The mirror seeds sang causative songs to “the contrite introgression,” a performance fluid known to the greater lights for its adverse regulatory strategies of contraceptive humming and disassembling alternative vehicles in the prime of their velocity. Once initiated, the performance secreted transfinite bodies capable of immediate collapse, equivocal and sculpturally cleansed. Soft, lesser and shallow, they flowered in one of the immunity deserts, compressing and decompressing until they reached their adult form and no longer required the phrasing transfusions. In this symmetrical desert they cast off their pre-hardened orientation jewelry and eroded all ambient constraints remaining in the interaction range. The immunity desert recorded the new absence. An and Non made Anon who attempted an exchange of transmission-sculptures with the lesser light, extruding pictures of identical size, shape and cardinality and insulating them with hard, slow, shallow blocks of sequencing. The lesser light moved laterally, reverting to its previous gestures. Anon spoke in fast, active dialogue on a shallow interval of mixed registers, resulting in an inadvertent catachresis. The interaction range darkened. The lesser light’s transmission-sculptures elaborated themselves only in hard, passive gestures. Anon sung a ritual song to draw the mirror seeds into a circulation game in hope of involving the lesser light. The circulation game formed numerous static residences before deteriorating into the standard repertoire. Anon reconstituted the residences into hard, active silence-sculptures, their structural sensitivity mimicing the lesser light’s transmission frequency. The lesser light went out. An and Non positioned themselves as arbiters, erasing their witness position with the performance fluid known to the greater lights as “the racing incision.” The material mirror examined discarded transmission-sculptures before drifting into an attraction trench and grazing on local attentions, disintegrating into memory jewelry when the trench collapsed. Anon consumed the mirror seeds and transcribed their opinions. The other lesser lights continued their standard movements. An and Non abandoned their broadcast armor and rushed into the soft voice. Dancing and spinning, naked and impalpable, singing in segments and trailing lesser traces of soft, passive, form-active apparitions, they departed for the season of greater lights. At last, alone, Anon too went on.
And just to confirm, these experiences have been going on since you were very young?
Before I was born, really.
There isn’t much I can say about that.
Go back to your earliest memory, Fiona.
It’s to do with the world in the wall. Before we moved to Pittsburgh we lived in Reading, this was when I was four or five, and my bed was up against a big white wall. I was always afraid to sleep by myself so I kept going into my parents’ room and trying to sleep with them. I don’t know why I was afraid but…one night I had a dream, or maybe it really happened, I don’t know…but I could see myself sleeping and then I was looking at the wall, and then I moved into the wall and there was a whole space inside it, like a planet, and it was covered with, I want to call them machines but that’s not what they were.
What were they?
I don’t know. All I knew was that they were old, like older than the Earth, and I felt afraid because of how old they were. I felt so afraid I couldn’t move. Then I could feel myself moving down to the surface and I saw all these things moving between the machines, like fleas or mice or something…they were very small and bright and moving very quickly and I was moving towards them. Then everything started to break up, like it was an old film and someone had chopped out some of the frames. Everything went choppy and I can’t remember anything after that.
What’s your next memory?
I was playing at my grandmother’s house in Reading. It was an old house with two floors, and my grandmother was downstairs making dinner. I remember there was a long staircase leading up to the second floor and I was always afraid to go up there. So one time I felt like I had to go up…I don’t know why. I can remember the railing because it was some kind of old metal like iron or pewter, but it was too high for me to actually hold onto, so I just stood in the middle of the stairs and went up one stair at a time. I got more and more afraid with each step I took. I remember being halfway up and seeing a painting on the wall, this little girl, I think it might have been a portrait of my grandmother, and I didn’t even want to look at that because I felt it was looking back at me. And I could see light coming from the kitchen, but upstairs it was dark. So I kept walking up and I made it to the top of the stairs…
What was at the top?
It was just a hall with a bunch of rooms. I was so afraid I was shaking and sweating, but I walked forward and into the first room. There was nothing in there, just a bed and some old mattresses. The walls were old too, and there were cracks in them, or little indentations. That’s where I met the elves, I think.
Inside the wall?
No, just in the room. They looked like the Keebler elves, or maybe like Charles Kennedy, who I met later. I don’t really remember what they looked like, but that was when they showed me how to make ghost glue…when they showed me how to see the ghosts. There were layers of them, like music. Have you ever laid musical tracks down or recorded anything? The ghosts are like that. The stickier they are, the more layers there are. And you get them stickier by spreading the ghost glue. Then the ghosts can’t get away, even though they already got away…because the ghost glue has no time attached. It’s a recording medium that lets you layer the ghosts.
Where are the ghosts layered?
Inside you…you take them into yourself.
So the ghost glue is spread…
It isn’t spread from the outside. You secrete it, inside you. But most people don’t have the right organs to do it yet. The elves told me…well, they didn’t use these words, but they said something like that. “The ghosts are usually washed away by the ocean, but the sticky ghosts will stay behind for you to play with.” They told me they were going to give me the right parts of my body to do that. I could add as many ghosts as I wanted, but I had to give them my soul.
Did you give it to them?
I did, but I got it back later…I played some kind of game and they showed me how to make ghost glue inside of me. Then I could add as many ghosts as I wanted. Sometimes there were thousands of ghosts in each little part of space, and they all had faces like suns. I kept hearing that voice – “Would you like to add more ghosts?” – deep inside my body.
Did you meet the elves again?
It was mostly just Charles Kennedy. He was my, I guess you could say “imaginary friend” when I was a little kid. He looked like President Kennedy except he was very small and he was missing an eye. His left one – there was no socket or anything, just smooth skin, like he’d never had an eye there. He used to come to my room and we’d play games and make deals.
What kind of deals?
Stupid things…you know, what a kid would want. A million dollars. Toys, clothes, anything that seemed expensive or out of reach. Or magic powers. Flying, becoming invisible. If I won the game I’d get all that, and if he won he’d get my soul.
Why did he want your soul?
I don’t know. I never thought about it. Maybe because I thought it was the most valuable thing I had? It had something to do with the ghost glue, and the “people glue” that he mentioned sometimes. “You can stop people from moving, and layer them inside you. That’s what we do when we meet you.”
Did you give it to him?
He won it from me. I didn’t worry about it at the time but…maybe I’ve been soulless since then.
When did you stop seeing Charles Kennedy?
I don’t remember. I just stopped thinking about him after a while.
And as an adult?
I told you, I don’t want to talk about these things now.
Please, Fiona. Try to remember.
I already told you most of it.
Go back to when you met Richard…
I don’t want to talk about this.
Tell me about when you were working in the law office…
I told you…it was ten years ago, in Pittsburgh. I was at my desk doing a report and I remember it was a very busy time so I wasn’t really paying attention to anything else. Then at about eleven-thirty, I didn’t notice it at the time but later I realized it must have been eleven-thirty…I was at my desk and when I looked up there was a man standing in front of me.
No, I’d never seen him before. He was wearing a suit and had very pale skin…
You saw him come in?
No, he was just there all of a sudden…I didn’t actually see him come in.
He had on a normal kind of suit and had very pale skin. His hair was dark and medium length…I’m not good at describing people, but he looked normal. I thought he was someone from another department, I guess, but…I could tell there was something different, something else.
Did anyone else notice him?
They must have, he was standing right there. He looked at me and said “Have you decided to approach?” I thought I’d misheard him at first, then I realized what he was talking about…who he was.
Who was he?
He said, “Let’s go to the balcony.” I stood up…there wasn’t anything I could do. I followed him across the room, out the door and down to the second floor and we went out to the balcony. We were standing there and looking out at the city and then we…he tapped his neck and said “You have to remove the other routine.” I put my hand to my neck and there was something there, it felt like a metal switch or some kind of insect…I started panicking and trying to get it off me, and then we…then he took me to the white room…
How did he take you?
I don’t know, we were just there. I couldn’t move, and I was lying down somehow. There were other ones there, other people or…they were all moving over me and looking down at me. I knew it was real. I felt angry. They were inside me, touching me. I don’t belong to them and I told them.
What did they do?
They were showing me things, objects. Almost like they were trying to sell me them.
What kind of objects?
I don’t know…I can’t describe them. Some of them were like eggs, round but very rough…there were other things like paper dolls. Little paper people all linked together and moving in circles. There were things moving on the walls too…the walls were white but there were patches of color moving across them, almost like they were alive. When I looked at them I could feel different emotions, things I hadn’t felt for a long time…
What kind of things?
Things I hadn’t felt since I was a child. I remember thinking…how could I have forgotten this? This is what’s real, this is the reality. I knew it when I was a child and it all came back. And then everything else…my job and James who I was with at the time…all of that folded up and stopped…stopped being real. That’s how long I was in there.
How long did it last?
It lasted forever.
How did you get back?
I was just back. On the balcony. He was there with me too. And we went back upstairs to the office…
Did anyone notice? Or say anything?
No, I just went back to my desk and started working again. And he was gone. And then Adam, my supervisor came over and asked what was wrong.
He’d noticed the man?
No, it was the time. He asked me if I could explain it and looked at me kind of smugly, and I could tell he was pissed off. I didn’t know what he was talking about. And finally he asked me where I’d been. I couldn’t explain anything, it felt like I’d just woken up. And I didn’t know what he was talking about. He kept saying, “Where were you?” I knew I couldn’t really tell him but it didn’t seem like I’d done anything wrong or been gone that long…and then he held up his hand and pointed at his watch. I looked at my watch and it was eleven forty. And then I looked at Adam’s watch and it was one in the afternoon.
Tell me about Richard.
I don’t have anything…I can’t say anything about it.
Tell me about the next experience. In the park.
I don’t want to think about this again.
I was with him in Hoffman Park and we were sitting on the benches close to the fountain. We’d brought some sandwiches but I wasn’t hungry for some reason so Rich ended up eating everything and he was drinking wine he’d picked up somewhere. I was already showing then so I couldn’t drink. And we weren’t really saying much but just watching people out on the grass, and I remember there was a couple walking by with a Golden Retriever, and by then Rich was pretty drunk and he said something like, if there are Golden Retrievers then why doesn’t someone make a Silver Retriever? I remember him saying that…and I guess we must have been there for a few hours but I can’t really remember much else. And it must have been in the late afternoon…because all of a sudden the sun was down and I said that you couldn’t “make” dogs…but it seemed like I was answering something he’d said hours before, because he looked at me kind of strange and then I remember getting up and walking over the grass, I don’t know why…
Did Richard go with you?
No, maybe he thought I was going to the bathroom, I don’t know…but I walked through the park and I came to this little shrine, some kind of imitation classical temple, but a lot smaller than the real thing would have been. You couldn’t actually go inside it, but there was some kind of inside area to it with an empty space, and I remember wanting to see inside it. I felt like time was passing very quickly. And when I turned around I could tell things were different…and I heard the man’s voice.
He was standing all wrong. He looked newborn, I could tell…he hadn’t been here long. But it was the same man from the office. He was standing close to me and he said the same thing he’d said four years before, “You have to remove the other routine.” Then he started breaking down and his head looked stretched…it stretched all the way to the sky…I’m sorry…[crying] He was speaking to me with my own voice, saying things I’d said in the past. I could hear my own voice saying “Is that what you really think, Rich?” and “I’ll be back in a moment” and stupid, everyday things I’d said…but they were coming out of his mouth, or his head, and then he was saying things that I was going to say in the future…
How did you know that?
I didn’t at the time. But later I’d say something and I’d start to feel sick…like deja vu…and I’d realize it was something that had come out of him that I was saying…
What happened then?
It took me a long time to get back to the park. I was walking for an hour but it was only a few meters away. I just seemed to go on walking forever and then I was back.
Think back to when Richard left.
No, he didn’t leave, he…
And then after that, when you were watching television…
They went on talking inside my head. First I was watching this science program about matter. There are supposed to be two kinds of matter, baryonic and non-baryonic. I looked it up afterwards. Baryonic matter is heavy matter or anything we can see…anything with protons and neutrons, like we learned about in school. And non-baryonic matter is the other kind…which is supposed to be most of the universe. Everything we can’t see or really know, but that’s still real. I watched that, and then I was watching the Flintstones…[crying]
Do you remember the Great Gazoo? The spaceman who only Fred and Barney could see. He could stop time, and appear and disappear, and do anything…I fell asleep in front of the TV and dreamed that there were real cavemen, and the Great Gazoo turned them into cartoons to keep himself from getting bored, civilized cartoons with manners and morals just for show. They get to live one, two note lives, or one note with two emphases. He takes them to where he’s from, and now they’re not people anymore, the real cavemen are dead, just bones, but their cartoons keep going forever, living in every direction [crying uncontrollably]…they took my child, took me from a child…I’m afraid to be outside death, in their shining [inaudible] sun. The other world is forever.
Justin Isis is a writer of primarily Realist fiction and cofounder of Chomu who has also founded the Chomu Social Club, the Tokyo Black Lodge occultist group, and is attempting to develop a clothing line. His current metaphysical position is Eliminative Idealism.
Lia Sáile (b. 1985) is a German artist based in Vienna, Austria. See her work at www.liasaile.com