There was not much left of Nick. The face was broken. Huge grey eyes with tiny black pupils that seem to spit needles. From his mouth floated coal gas and violets. He did not have the concentration of energy necessary to hold himself together and his organism was always on the point of disintegrating into its component parts. On his T-shirt is ETERNITY in rainbow letters.
In the distance muffled explosions like dynamite in jelly. The war between the sexes split the planet into armed camps right down the middle. The doctor did not seem to hear.
“When the fog lifts you can see their fucking church sticking up. Let’s have that shot,” Nick said.
The doctor was sitting in a surgical chair of gleaming nickel. “One day perhaps you will learn the meaning of patience.”
The room was empty with white tile floors and walls. As the shot of apomorphine cut through poisons of Minraud he felt a tingling numbness. His hair stood up on end. Conversation slackened.
But the subway is moving. Riot noises moving closer. Several nearby fags raise their heads like animals scenting danger. Learn to sit back and watch. Red haired green eyed boys, white skin with a few freckles. Some people you can spot as far as you can see; others you can’t be sure of until you are close enough to touch them. The boys puffed blue smoke two bodies fuzzing the web one shuddering white tile walls in polar distance blue haloes flickering.
The doctor nodded. It’s time. They got off the subway and began to walk on snow-covered sidewalks between tenements.
“Certain things simply must not be allowed to change; otherwise, WE ARE COMPLETELY FUCKED.” The Old Doctor reeled out onto the platform.
“Do I have another appointment?” Hands on his belt Nick hesitated.
The doctor stopped chuckling. “Will you be settling your account today Mr Jones?” The doctor’s voice was barely audible.
The man was smiling, flapping vapor like rusty swamp smell. Sunset through black clouds. It was the end of the line.
“You can’t – You can’t – You can’t.”
“I’m almost without medicine.”
“Where can you go, Nick?”
“I’m going home.”
“You can’t deny your blood kid,” said the doctor, and walked away before Nick could say anything else.
And there was the dirigible ahead, moored to a tower.
When Nick got back to the house he told his father about it in the attic his father used as a studio. Kim noted the frayed cuffs, the cracked shoes.
“In the terminals of Minraud, the car is waiting to take us to the fiesta. As far as the eye can see, nothing but replicas,” Nick says. “Fights erupt like sandstorms, through iron streets a wake of shattered bodies, heads bouncing into the void, hands clutching bank notes from gambling fights.”
Kim sat paralyzed like a man who has received a mortal wound, every drop of life ebbing out of him. It was impossible to tell just how much of this story he was expected to believe.
“The boy ejaculates blood over the flower floats. An orchid with brilliant red and green flowers hanging over the swamp mud.” Nick had a deprecating little laugh that he used for punctuation. “We waded into the warm mud-water. Arachnid is a grimly unattractive young man with a long face of a strange, slate-blue color. He strapped on his camera gun and walked along ancient paths and stone bridges over canals where the fish people swirled sending up color bubbles of orgasm that broke on the iridescent surfaces. He is as specialized as an insect, for the performance of some inconceivably vile function.
“We came to a street half-buried in sand. I could feel the phantom touch of the lens on my body, light as a breath of wind. Recorders of the city rotting. In a dusty shop window of trusses and plaster feet, a severed head on sand, red ants crawling through nose and lips. June, July and August walk on.
“On the sea wall met a boy in red and white T-shirt under a circling albatross. He looked at me, sick animal eyes gone out dying inside, hopeless fear reflecting the face of death. And looking into his bright blank eyes I saw that he was. Too quiet like they say in old Westerns. Time runs out. There was nothing there but cloth that fell in a heap on the floor leaking grey dust.”
The father holds up a restraining hand.
“That’s enough…” He got up, stretched and yawned.
“Well, no, that’s the whole story. The story of a 14 year old boy that died in the invasion.”
“What is it you do, Nick?” Kim asked politely, in the accents of an educated man.
“Only those for whom the knowledge is intended will find it…” He went through a pantomime of fixing his hair. “You must understand that an undercover agent witnesses the most execrable cruelties while he waits helpless to intervene, sometimes for many years, before he can make a definitive arrest.”
“What really happened?” Kim asks.
Nick makes a folding motion with his hands. There was no other place for him to go.
“There were at least two parasites one sexual the other cerebral working together the way parasites will. But a new factor, something that nobody has seen before, is changing the familiar aspect of disaster like the slow beginnings of a disease, so that no one can say just when it began. All out of time and into space. And what is remarkable it seems to be the only or certainly the predominating flora.
“We are turning into plants. You can’t breathe in fake lungs.”
“Are you crazy?” Kim said.
Wait a bit. “Lord, Lord, I don’t even feel like a human.” He looked at Kim and smiled.
“The whole structure of reality went up in silent explosions. The valley was desert, and it will be desert again. Eternity yawning on the sands.
“During the months that followed I worked in the fields. Crabs sidle from cone-shaped nests. Everything looks different, sharper. Pool covered with green slime in a ruined French garden. Surges of silence ebbing from ruined suburbs. Hail of crystal skulls shattered the greenhouse to slivers in the winter moon. Flowers and seeds and mist settle down from high jungle above the city.” He put a cigarette to his mouth, tapped his pockets, and turned his hands out. “Everything is leaking.”
“My dear, it’s quite folkloric.”
Nick was annoyed to find himself blushing. He straightened up and sees a face not tears at first. His father’s eyes are normally invisible behind black glasses.
At the end of three weeks he indicated the time had come to operate. He looked like a corpse slumped there on the dirty, unmade bed, his limp arm stretched out, a drop of blood slowly gathering at the elbow.
Kim walked over to the old railroad. He felt the sharp nostalgia of train whistles, piano music down a city street, burning leaves. He fled down quintillions of years.
1. Written/assembled on August 26th, 2019
2. This was made entirely using sentences from five different William Burroughs novels
3. Which were Junky, Naked Lunch, The Ticket That Exploded, The Soft Machine, and The Place Of Dead Roads
4. With no sentence used being from the same novel as the preceding or following sentence.
5. This is the first part of a trilogy called In The Terminals Of Minraud
6. The other two pieces being Last Of The Gallant Heroes and Fading My Name Through Dying Air
7. A fully annotated version of this can be read here: March My Captive Head (annotated pdf)
8. So you can see exactly where I was cheating my own rules