(Text by Cosimo Suglia)
Note: The following text first appeared in a literary zine by our editor Cosimo Suglia. It was a special-made zine for the Luxembourgish book fair Walfer Bicherdeeg 2022 — the concept and main theme of the zine is simple: 4OUR. There are four stories in the zine, two in English and two in Luxembourgish. There are four acts to each story. And, lastly, the stories were written four you. In the span of the next weeks, the stories will be published here on Aner Welten. The idea behind the zine, was to introduce the local reading community to alternative ways of publishing literature. We thus highly encourage others to research what zines are and perhaps emulate our effort!
Four a future full of literature and art. Four a future full of speculative fiction. Four a future full of zines.
The train travels along dragon bones, and the sulfur smell crams the inside of your mouth.
It bothers you.
The witch next to you eats metal scraps. A mix between copper wiring and what looks like deformed morning stars. She pulled the metal fragments out of a plastic bag. One of those green and blue ones. Sustainable. Reusable. Yes to eco-capitalism. Ironic. After every bite, the witch giggles, satisfied with herself. Her cheeks fold as her smile expands. An extreme of Wifi logos.
You hate it.
You prefer bugs and insects. Crunch, crunch, crunch, go the exoskeletons and wings.
The train stops. Belval Universitéit. You stand up, and you don’t touch any of the railings. Sickness, after all. There are coins in your pockets. You play with them. The witch looks at your jeans. “Glutton,” you bark at her and leave.
It bothers her.
You love it.
The cold brew is made with golden beans. They are given, sponsored really, by the sun, and then coated by the moon. You drink the coffee iced or else it’s too acrid. It gives you heartburn. Not like your heart isn’t burning already, anyway.
Blue fire emerges from your mouth.
Steel-beam elephants wander around. They shit coal and magma and the university campus is way too hot. Everybody sweats and smells like vinegar and the wooden floor of an English pub.
The pavement of the campus is chipped. It’s an array of holes, where goblins hide, snickering as you step on their square, yellow eyes. They almost make you trip, but you catch yourself mid-stumble. You are good at that. At balance. You have to or else an arm of your scale leans one way or the other and you are thrown off; lost in your own judgement.
You toss your straw away and miss the trashcan. The last salmon in Canada dies because of heart failure. Too much plastic in its blood, says the doctor, before eating the fish with a lemon and capers cream sauce.
It was delicious, the news reports.
Misery often is, for those who crave it.
A sperm whale died in the Seine, Paris. The river is 777 kilometres long. One number away from 666, but it’s okay, you are not Christian. Nor are they. They take the sperm whale’s bones and kidneys and ovaries, not the sperm because it is in the name already, and they create new whales.
There are 777 new sperm whales in the Seine, Paris. One for each kilometre. Patiently awaiting their death.
The concrete building is 777 kilometres long, too. Not from the outside but from the inside. Claustrophobic magic, the hex-engineers call it.
You take your clothes off and step into the mouth of a chicken. It coos as you enter. You scour your feet off on its coral tongue. Stomach acid decays the tattoos on your arms and neck as you walk through the digestive tract. As you approach the anus, you grab your knees (the fetal position is mandatory), and the chicken lays you.
“Ready?” says a voice in your head.
“No,” you answer.
“You have to,” it replies and you hatch.
There is something feral about being born. You are covered in blood and mucus, and the light slashes your pupils for the first time; boils through your retinas, and all you want to do is scream, but your lungs have barely borrowed breath for the first time, and Vienna is calling.
And then they drab you in grey, sit you down, and you have to work.
The gift of life.
The grift of life.
“Have you heard?” says Sally, over the wall separating your cubicles.
“I rather not,” you answer, typing away. Keyboards chatter like cicadas in the office. The coffee machine releases steam. It wishes to be a train.
“Jack burned out, yesterday,” says Sally.
“Were you here?” you ask. You don’t really care, but Sally’s voice turns you on.
“Nope,” says Sally. “But it happened in the office. Here on the fifth floor. The elephants ate him.”
Before Jack it was Stella. Before Stella it was Michael. And before Michael it was Matt. It’s pretty when they burn up. A star imploding on itself. The birth of a golden buffalo in the depth of Eastern Europe, right next to Poland. The fall of the Berlin Wall. For administration, canon fodder for a couple of folders.
“I want out,” says Sally.
“Plant pipe bombs are notoriously easy to build,” you answer.
She flushes. There is much to be said about love, like, BOOM.
On every fifth floor, the bathrooms are mirrored. They parallel each other. The pipes are connected in a zig-zag pattern. Copper arteries about to burst under the pressure of life.
There is no one left in the building. In the back of the campus, on the open parking, a murder of coal harpies sleeps on the corroded bones of steel dragons and abandoned cars turned nests. Aluminium eggs lay on stacks of filing cabinets and the remains of Italian workers. They’d hatch soon. They’ll wake up then, anyway.
Sally holds your hand. She smiles into the night, like a coyote smelling the birth of a desert.
There are two of them. One in the bathroom on the fifth floor, next to the kitchen, and one in the bathroom on the fiftieth floor. Enough to make it collapse. It’s a chlorate mixture mixed with the green bean of a giant. The explosion should travel through the pipes, casting an alchemical bond. It should conjure solution.
You press the button.
The pipe bombs explode at the same time. A sage green, oval ring scans the building. Arms of branches break through the windows. On either side, left and right. And these branches grab onto the concrete. Strangle it, like a snake would a rat. And the pressure turns the concrete into diamonds that cascade and bury themselves in the ground.
The building collapses. And in its stead stands a birch tree, the smell of hooves and white wine and roof moss.
The harpies scream. Protect their eggs. The elephants cry out in distress. Giant chickens and roosters run towards the highway and try to cross the street.
Sally gives you a kiss. Not on the mouth, but wherever you like. The coffee machine under your arm releases steam. You stole it. You know it wishes to be a train.
“I love you,” says Sally.
“I rather not,” you answer and kiss her back, wherever she likes.