Micro Cuts

I know you’re in there, little brother, ever since they plugged you in. I know you’re there. What’s it like in my mind, cozy little dark place? Right, got some lyrics for you? tiny tube veins/ made of lead/ there is someone in my head/ he’s alive and I am dead cut it with the fucking lyrics, already! Yes, I am here and and we are stuck together so get used to it, at least till they find some way to unplug me. Not a funny place to be, Matt, trust me. And you wanted to kill father, how big of a cliché is that? No fantasies with mom, I’ll give you that. What do you take me for a deranged lunatic? Come on, remember, you were the one with the manifesto and the videos on the Net. Look at me, no one likes me, might as well kill them all…they deserve it it’s all in your head So are you do you like it in there yeah, it’s the fucking 4th of July and I’m doing the prom queen under a fireworks lit sky with confetti coming out of my ass I don’t like you here either they should have executed me always going for the easy way out

Centuries before, this would have been a psychiatrist’s couch but in this day and age it’s a cold metal slab in a septic environment. The metal arms lift me up and place me there. Their buzzing sound is calming and I almost fall asleep while the machines around me work their magic. Opposite to me, my brother lies still on a metal slab of his own. Our heads almost touch but that is not how this works. The true links are invisible, streams of nanobots chaining us to one another. Victor will be in my mind soon enough in quite a literal sense.

For one such as me this is half treatment half torture.

Imagine someone, even someone you care about, having full knowledge of your innermost thoughts. When we are done, Victor will know everything about me, all my desires, all my memories, every feeling I ever had. And they call this therapy.

You see, people like me have always existed. The troubled teenager, the nerd, the loser. Centuries ago they were either sad victims or spree shooters. In this day and age they found a new way to cure us. Insert another, a close one, into our heads and have them fix us. They have a whole list, reduced to initials, of every shooter there ever was, mostly from the Northe-American spaces, along with extensive bibliographies written by said killers. At least the ones who left behind any of it.

I feel Victor coursing through my synapses.

It hurts more than torture and they know it. But they do nothing about it. Based on my records, what I posted on the Net, my Logscribs, my YouVids, I am a potential threat. They are wrong, but I won’t protest. Sure, they know that sometimes

Phillip pushes me into the locker. He is big. The quarterback. I feel my ribs crushed against metal. They feed them high-level nutrients, borderline illegal stimulants, everything you could expect from the school administration. Intellectuals like me may be the future of Northe-America but Phillip and his ilk are the moneymakers. A boy like me might better the country, but men like Phillip better their pockets.

I cringe.

He wraps his unnaturally large fingers around my left nipple and twists, near the point of ripping it. Old-School move. They love those.

There is no day passing when I don’t get this kind of treatment. I am small and skinny. The girls ignore me, Bethany most of them, and I don’t know what to do. I never do. My parents, for the expensive treatment, if you can call it such, they paid only for is my brother’s full access to my thoughts.

I cringe once more. The line of nanobots connecting our minds hurts. I can feel Victor’s presence probing my brain. Yet he is not gloating. He caught my thread of thought and is reading it. He seems quite interested. But feeling him in my mind hurts.

This is what hurts you? Victor speaks, shooting electric impulses.

For me it was always the girls. Bethany is long-haired, hazel doe-eyed, gentle and kind. She never judges anyone. She smiles even to me. A short and small beauty, a woman in miniature. A nerd, they’d call her, but she is the most beautiful girl in school. And nice to every one. Every jock wants her so

John grabs the edge of my underpants and pulls it up. I feel the strap of cloth stringing my balls. The bullies in this place like their old-school methods. Some use worse. A boy in the other neighborhood died after a session of pain neurals wrapped in an inoffensive pill. Others puked themselves to the point of passing out, their schools too close to Apothecaries where everything can be bought for the right price. John pulls tighter:

‘You’ve been staring at my girlfriend, wimp?’

Bethany is his girlfriend only in his imagination.

And I like to think of myself as brave enough to answer him. I am not. But I imagine Bethany, even with the underpants strangling my testicles, the doe-eyed goddess who cares of nothing but her studies and nothing about this John who is torturing me right now.

Why the fuck did you put up to that? Victor’s voice is brimming in my mind. He explodes in rage and for the first time he understands me. If he did before the incident, Victor would have strangled John with his bare hands. He may be an asshole but he defends me.

If I were in your place I would have killed them all!

In a way I like my brother, but unlike me, he is the family’s golden boy. People like him, girls like him, everyone does, yet he is forced to live with a brother like me. The eternal loser. But his anger, and I do feel it within my brain, is not targeted towards me.

For some time he thought I was just a joke.

Now, inside my brain, he understands.

And I feel him burning. Not just anger but regret.

She’s just a dumb cunt who wouldn’t get you, Matt!

She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I

I’m not saying she is to blame, just that…

You have no idea!

It happens weeks later.

There is no one to save me. John pulls tighter:

‘You’ve been staring at my girlfriend, wimp?’

I am pushed to a wall of lockers and my face hits the wall. I feel their hands tearing down my pants. IT HAPPENS. I feel ashamed. I shouldn’t have looked at Bethany but what I feel next is pure humiliation. Rape is never about pain.

It’s not about pain, it’s about being subservient.

I am sorry, Matt!

It’s OK, Victor!

No, it’s not!

I can feel my brother ripping himself from the micro cuts link that kept our consciousnesses together. And I feel Victor’s pure anger. Even as the nanobot link is severed between us.

Pain.

Weeks later I walked down a street. A regular street, one with a gun shop. I had the money. I had the time.

There was no way I could explain what happened but through Victor’s link. Yet I tried. And no one believed it, for it was not an age where people believed such things.

If you ever look at Bethany again I will

John’s words kept haunting me.

But at the end of the day I always ended up on that street. Victor keeps the distance. But not always.

I end up in a part of town where John lives. My name is Matt and I will become a killer in the coming moments.

And when I sit in front of John’s house, guns in hand, the micro cuts in my brain will reopen and I will hear Victor’s voice.

If I were in your place I would have killed them all! Cause somehow he left something behind.

Border Crossing (1)

 

There was a girl on the shore. Amy didn’t notice her at first and didn’t expect seeing anybody else anyway. That part of the beach was completely isolated, more than one hour by foot from the resort. That was the main reason she went there, almost every day: peace and quiet, the perfect place for a bit of tanning, bikini off, sunglasses on, a thin joint waiting in the bag.

Then she saw the girl, strolling along the shore, stopping every couple of yards and squatting, her fingers digging through the wet sand as if she’d lost something.

She noticed Amy and for a second didn’t know how to react.

‘Uh…hi, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you’

She spoke English with a barely perceptible French accent. Her voice was soft, almost childish. Now that she’d got closer, Amy thought her no older than fourteen, though quite tall for her age. Shoulder-length, thick, black hair framed her heart-shaped face. Behind thin-rimmed glasses, the eyes were deep blue. The classic, one-piece yellow swimsuit underlined her boyish curves.

‘I didn’t expect anyone here’ she said.

‘That makes two of us. Thanks for not stepping on me’

She stood up, trying to shake the sand off her hair. The girl was staring her in the eyes, trying to ignore her complete lack of clothing.

‘I’m Amy’

‘Lea’

‘Nice to meet you, Lea’

There was a moment of awkward silence, then the girl mumbled something like:

‘Uh…well, I should be going. Again, sorry to have bothered you’

‘Hold on, just a second. If you don’t mind, how did you get here? I’ve been coming to this place every day for the last two weeks and you’re the first person coming here all this time’

The girl pointed to the half opened bag on her shoulder and Amy saw it was filled with little beach stones, all shapes and colors.

‘I don’t get it’

‘I just like to collect them. From the shore. Guess I didn’t realize how far from the resort I’d got’

Some get stones, some get stoned Amy thought, which reminded her:

‘You want some?’

‘Some what?’

She noticed the joint Amy was holding.

‘No, thanks’

‘Not legal for you yet?’ Amy smirked.

‘I’m eighteen and that stuff is illegal anyway’

The legal aspect didn’t matter, not to Amy at least, but she realized the girl was actually two years older than her, four years older than she had estimated.

‘Which is one of the main reasons I come here. Not going to tell on me, right?’ she winked.

‘Of course not!’

‘But you don’t partake. I can respect that’

Lea smiled, then took out a small stone out of her bag. It was a tiny, oval piece of quartz, a strange shade of gray but with an intricate network of thin silvery lines near the edges. For a moment, sunlight reflected in them, showing their complicated pattern.

‘Here. For you’

‘No, come on, I don’t want to mess up your collection’

‘This one, I just picked it up, from here, so I guess it’s not part of it yet. Please! Think of it as a toll for trespassing’

Amy reached out, taking the warm wet stone from Lea’s hand, their fingers touching briefly.

‘No’ she said. ‘You know what, let’s call it payment. You just bought yourself free passage’

There was something she definitely liked about the girl, though she couldn’t tell what exactly. Maybe the fact she seemed different. Amy couldn’t think of many eighteen year old girls with such a hobby. The ones in school, back home, seemed more interested in getting wasted with cheap beer and dating college freshmen. She couldn’t imagine any of them walking along the shore and collecting stones. And apparently, entire bags of them. Plus, the way she’d offered her the little stone. It was nice, a bit funny.

‘So, Lea, welcome to our little known piece of seaside, population two, clothing optional. I must ask again, not interested in any local treats?’

‘No, really, one hundred percent no. But feel free’

She sat down on the sand, watching Amy lighting up the joint and inhaling slowly. Far upfront, the sun had begun its slow descent.

‘So, you know the history of this place?’

‘What else do you collect, besides stones and local folklore?’

 ‘Oh, it’s just a story I heard from this old man, he owns a souvenir shop on the main street. There’s a reason why nobody ever comes here, why nobody advertises this part of the beach, besides being so far from the resort. A local girl drowned, killed herself, more than a century ago. Some versions of the story speak of unrequited love, some say she was murdered by a man she did not want to marry. She was all alone, you know, no family and no friends. It happened at sunset, right around this time, and if you watch carefully, you can see her,  floating above the waves, in the same white dress she was wearing the day she died, all alone out there, calling for someone to join her’

As she spoke, she stared at the ocean and Amy was looking at her thin lips, the way they moved, the way her voice was overlapping with the sound of waves.

‘You know’ she chuckled ‘It’s not nice, telling horror stories to somebody who’s getting stoned right now’

‘Oh my God, I didn’t realize…’

‘Lea, I’m kidding. I’m way too used to this stuff, probably don’t have enough brain cells left for a bad trip. But that was mean anyway, and, given I’ve already sold you partnership to this haunted place at a fair price, I’d say you owe me’

The idea had hit her while Lea was telling the story:

‘Why don’t you come with us this evening? It’s just me and my brother and a couple of friends. No stones and no legends, one night of fun’

‘Oh, no, I wouldn’t want to bother’

‘If you’re here with someone, bring them along. The more, the merrier!’

‘I’m on my own, actually’ she admitted.

Amy had been certain of that.

‘No problem, I’ll pick you up at….’

‘You don’t even know where I’m staying’

‘Which is exactly why you should tell me’

‘Ana’s Inn, it’s right off….’

‘We’re staying there too’

‘Sorry, I didn’t notice you’

‘But you must have noticed the drunken idiot yelling some fascist rambling at 2 AM last night. My one and only brother’

‘Actually, I slept soundly’

‘Must have been a rough day. But I promise I’ll keep him in check tonight’

‘So he’s a…’

‘Lucas? He doesn’t give a flying fuck about race or politics. He just likes pissing people off, and the more he drinks the less subtle he becomes. It’s his thing. Really, don’t worry, he’ll be nice and sober if I ask him to, and we won’t bring our Klan outfits this evening’

‘Well, OK then, why not?’

‘Excellent, I’ll pick you up at eleven’

‘I’ll be ready by then. Room 37. Aren’t you…?’

‘What?’

‘Cold?’

The sun had finished its descent on the horizon. Cliffs projected their shadow on the sand and the cold breeze smelled like seaweed.

‘Totally forgot about it’ Amy smiled.

She took out the bathing suit from her bag and began to dress.

‘It’s good you had your new neighbor to remind you’ Lea commented.

‘Now what’s wrong with a bit of breeze in all the right places?’

The girl chuckled, but didn’t answer.

‘I detect some issues on the subject’

‘No! No, of course not, just….never mind!’

‘I have to say, you have a very live and let live attitude. Just be careful what you say around my brother or he’ll bore you to death with his pseudo-libertarian bullshit. And, as a general rule, if he approves your ideas, he’s just trying to get in your pants. Anyway, I’m off. You coming?’

‘I think I’m going to stay just a bit longer’

‘Suit yourself. And watch out for that ghost!’

‘Of course, I don’t want to die a virgin’

After a moment of disbelief Amy burst into laughter.

‘You’re weird, kid. See you later!’

The girl remained there, staring at the ocean as it got darker, her hand wrapped around the bag, her fingers tracing the stones’ contour through the fabric. The ghost however, did not appear, and anyway she was more concerned with what to wear for the upcoming evening. All across the resort, lights were being turned on. Music had started playing in the beach scattered pubs, a distant rumble growing stronger and stronger.

Hellovagood

She cooks pasta.

And she’s hellovagood at it.

Hellovagood is a word you invent at four o’clock in the morning, totally drunk and half-baked while thinking how awesome tattoos would look on your arms. You are you, so a permanent marker is too mainstream. Use a razor blade.

But hellovagood is a good word for Rachel.

She cooks pasta. Uses garlic and spices as foreign as her lips.

She’s a pasta Nazi, no comment should be heard in her kitchen. And whilst she cooks she tolerates your presence there only if you feed her booze and stories, smile at her and act as if you do not want to spread her legs on the kitchen cupboard.

Rachel’s eyes smile as she’s chopping up garlic.

Rachel’s eyes smile as she’s chopping up mushrooms and bell peppers.

Rachel’s eyes smile as she’d be chopping up you.

Put gemstone eyes on the body of a black cat and you might get her.

Rachel gives me straws for sipping beer out of a pint and I am stupid enough to accept that.

You picture for a second that the two of you could be more than that. It is only a second.

And then hellovagood.