Friday, July 13, 2012

Drunkey monkey, makin' bacon at night

I think I told those other people to follow their dreams
Don't spend another year waiting
Another month or another week
But I kept waiting
I didn't feel that vibe from any dreams

I drank beer alone
And tried to eat bacon at night
I took a metal shape
It was from the earth
Smelt from ore
I placed it on different hot metal
Hot because I touched a piece of plastic on a piece of metal
And I grabbed a different piece of plastic
From the drawer
From the dollar store
Maybe built through the toiling of a kid like me
Split from me and my lineage generations ago
Maybe mixed with me a bit
Just not enough for me to really care
Or maybe it was built by mindless robots

A plastic piece
Made from the remnants of an ancient swamp
Trees fell over
A dinosaur fell in
Drowning in tar
The first pang of regret ever
And the universe realized its kids wouldn't eat from now on
Would die
But no concept of this fact:
They wouldn't get to become plastic

A cold box of mostly metal
Inside, a plastic film containing
Tightly wrapped hunk of carcass
Very slowly rotting meat
Chopped to slices
Echoes of a last thought
Thoughts of a present moment:
A pig ahead gushing
The smell of fear
Moments before, momentary relief at the end of the terrifying truck ride
But he didn't know what a truck is
Didn't know it's a metal thing
No concept of metal
Smelt from ore
Ore from the earth
Earth dug up by monkeys
He just knew it's another place those wicked monkeys lead him onto
It moves and it shakes

Final thoughts might have been:
Terror, anticipation.

But probably not the time he pranced
A piglet between bars
Too small to feel them
To notice the tightening grip
Or cognize where they would lead him
A stun gun
And a warm, wet knife pressed into his neck, unbeknownst
Just him pressed up against a warm, soft belly
Full of food
Mum laying
Nipples swollen
Didn't understand she was trapped
Or that she forgot about that time she felt that same way
Cause now she's just trapped
A bacon factory
Making little bundles for plastic film
For drunkey monkeys
Makin' bacon at night

I closed my eyes
I closed the door to the refridgerator
I turned off the stove
But the pig was still silent, dead.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Zombies, but maybe things will be alright..

I clamour down the rickety wooden stairs. It was a bad move, a panicked decision, but here I am; a dark basement with cold concrete walls, deep freezers, crates, one way in, and one way out. I hear the creeeeeaky sound of the top stair. Zombies are coming. And suddenly there is no way out.

Frantic, I look around for a weapon, but find none. Only a maze of crates and freezers. Well then, my best option will be to get them to chase me around the room. I know I can outrun their slow but steady pace, but with the room set up like a maze I will have to ensure that I don't get caught with zombies coming at me from both ways. After scanning the room for what seems like a mere moment, I turn back towards the staircase and see that three zombies have already made their way into the basement, and have spread throughout the room in less time than should be possible with their shambling gait. No time left to worry, just time left to play with these knuckleheads.

I swiftly run towards the closest zombie, which is approaching a three way fork in the paths between the basement's obstacles. It lurches forwards, but I slide past untouched and avoid becoming trapped in the place that I was. But looking up, I'm already face to face with another zombie. It's face, once beautiful no doubt, now ravaged by fuzzy green splotches of mold, one juicy pus-filled eyeball dangling from the socket, swaying back and forth, all traces of humanity scoured away. A low and hungry moan whispers as it opens its mouth, which gapes impossibly wide until the jaw literally breaks off and falls to the ground, punctuating the horrible sound with a crumbling pop. Bony hand longingly reaching out towards me, I do the sensible thing and hoist myself up onto the nearby freezer.

Ummmm, why didn't I think of this before? Perched atop the freezer, I'm free to skip around the room, avoiding the rules of the basement maze that confine my pursuers. I hop along the freezers, one, two, three, down to the end of the line, and wait for the shuffling brutes to slowly make their way towards me before hopping back to the other end. I wait again, three sets of hands reaching closer and closer, haunting moans from their tortured stomachs testify that they will not be giving up. A meter away, now just a foot from me. I hop before it becomes an inch.

I get halfway back to the end of the line, when suddenly a robotic forklift bursts through a secret compartment in the wall, pulling the next freezer into a dark delivery chute. And suddenly I'm trapped, hungry hands outstretched and wails of ravenous glee welcoming me to the other side of life. How could I fall to the zombie apocalypse so quickly? I pass through the 7 stages of guilt with appalling speed and find acceptance...

Then suddenly hope. Companions burst down the stairs, wearing puffy green bite-proof armour, armed with machetes. A fancy wave of a sword, and two of the zombies rush off towards this distracting duo, following them back up the stairs. Now I'm just left with one zombie to deal with. Lucky break, but if I get eaten now, I'll never live it down. After all, when it's one on one, the human is supposed to win.

A creepy hand claws at my boot, and I fall on my butt. This zombie has a blubbery face, with glazed over eyes and sparse whisps of hair stuck to the side of its head with yellow slime. I lash out with my left foot. Rationally, I know that a hard blow to the head should cave the rotting skull, but deep inside I know it is futile and, what's more, puts my foot at risk of being gobbled up instantly. The hit barely registers against the zombie, but the force propels me backwards, and I land hard on the concrete floor. Sucking up the pain, I take my second lucky break, get up, and run for the stairs. One of the deep freezers opens and zombies begin pouring out, as if a stairway from hell is contained within it. Up I go.

Fellow humans meet me when I reach the top. I don't know them, but it is as if they were expecting me. We dash down a hallway, through what seems like an office building. I follow a woman wearing glasses and a lab coat as she ducks left into an alcove where regular people once heated lunch and brewed coffee in their attempts to make it through the banality of the workday. Holding our breaths, we silently count our heartbeats as the first wave of zombies emerges from the stairs. From the sounds of the scraping bones and plopping flesh of their feet moving in the opposite direction, it seems they failed to notice us which direction we escaped. With the coast clear for a moment, we dash back down the hallway, turn right, and meet up with three more people in a room full of empty glass cases.

We catch our breath, but nobody says much. It seems clear that we can't stay here, and if the zombies see or hear us, an entire army of them will make of us their snack. I follow the survivors as they try to circle back around, avoiding the hallway where we risk exposing ourself to the eyes of the undead still pouring from the stairwell.

As we pause to listen for movement, I take the opportunity to rifle through a nearby desk. Pencils, staplers, a rifle... I take the rifle. Looking up with a dumbass grin to display my find to the party, I see that I'm alone. Shit! I hear footsteps ahead of me. I rush towards them.

I round the corner and see the woman in the lab coat ahead of me, in the alcove with the coffee makers and microwaves we hid in before. Moving forwards, I fail to notice that I've crossed the hallway until the wide eyes of the woman reveal my mistake. Terrible squeals from the zombie hordes down the hall. She turns and bolts, through the alcove and beyond. I follow.

We cross an indoor bridge that passes over a busy road, huge glass windows revealing the pristine city under a calm blue sky outside. I only catch a few glimpses of the outside as we run for our lives. To the right, business as usual, so many people unaware of the horror that is happening. To the left, the first zombie bursts through a door into the outside world, into a throng of people. I reach the end of the bridge and go through.

I'm in a huge indoor area, a mix between an airport and a subway station. Crowds of nicely dressed business people flock between kiosks, purchasing coffee or magazines, chatting with colleagues like it's any other day. Ahead of me looms a wide escalator, and I push through the milling people. It occurs to me to warn them, but I can't seem to catch my breath enough to call out. I just push through.

As I near the entrance to the escalator, screams erupt behind me, but I don't look. I only look forwads and upwards, seeing the glasses lab coat lady, halfway up the escalator already, making fast progress by elbowing and slipping between the unaware. I try to emulate her, but the crowd starts to press in, packing me tightly against terrified men in light brown trench coats. The stairs carry me up.

I get spat out onto the street, among tall white buildings and more crowds of people cheerfully going about their daily business. They are like milk mixed with flaming oil against the screaming, fleeing people coming up from the subway.

Confusion and panic. Not my allies. I do a quick scan to confirm that I'm not in immediate danger. So many people surrounding me will surely act as a buffer if the zombies get close, their slaughter buying me time to escape. Now that I'm alone, with nobody to lead me, I take a moment to figure out what to do next.

My mind glazes over; nothing comes to me. A hysterically scared looking elderly man, packed tightly amidst rising others, nears the top of the escalator. He will be helpless to flee when the zombies arrive, becoming one more vector for the plague of undeath. With solipsistic apathy, I reach out with my rifle, the barrel resting momentarily against his head before I put a plug into it. He slumps forwards, is expelled from the escalator, and is trampled. The people already above stare at me in shock; the people coming from below seem not to notice. I look at the gun in my hand, it drops to the ground with a clank, unaudible in the rising frenzy of escape. I run.

I run along streets lined with shiny white buildings, filled with people, some recognizing their dire situation, others confusedly unaware. Zombies burst from a building ahead, pulling down everyone nearby into a pile of writhing flesh. I push forwards against others who are now running in the opposite direction. I look up towards the crystal clear sky, the pile of zombies mostly blocked from my sight by half a tear welling up in my left eye.

My legs are burning, but they push me forwards. As I head down a ramp, the buildings fall away and reveal the city stretching out to my right. Between the towering white skyscrapers are thousands of people, jammed up in the fleeing frenzy. In some areas, the zombie hordes are tearing through the streets like an unsatiable meatgrinder, biting and chomping on people and converting them into more zombies. Ahead of me, at the bottom of the ramp, is a shallow decorative pool in the center of a huge open courtyard. On the other side of the pool is a crowd of people, standing silently, some holding tightly to their loved ones, ultimately waiting for what they have decided is an inevitable fate. I splash through the knee-deep water towards them, and hear the horde emerging from the buildings behind me. The crowd seems to flinch as a unit, yet they stand their ground, hypnotized with morose fascination by the impending onslaught. Nearing the other side of the pool, I scan the crowd for an opening to pass through the people, but my eyes stop on a pretty woman with sad eyes and long, straight, brown hair. Emboldened and liberated by impending doom, I delay my escape for a moment to stop in front of her.

"You are too beautiful," I tell her. She breaks her gaze into nothingness and focuses her sad eyes on me as I wrap my arms around and deliver a quick but gentle kiss. I pull away to leave and start pushing my way into the crowd, and she follows me with a hand on my sleeve. A burst of something between hope and happiness fills me, as if human connection could somehow foretell that everything might turn out ok. Well, it's nice to have some company at the end of the world.

I get through the crowd with my companion still attached to me and, finding ourselves up against another building, we creep along the side until we reach a revolving door. We burst inside, and I frantically look around for the nearest staircase. We have to get to the roof; it's the only place left to hide, and maybe there is a chance that helicopters will come to rescue us. Although, that never happens in the movies... but there's no time to think. We run up several flights and arrive on a floor where we are confronted by rows upon rows of cubicles and flimsy dividers. We flee through the aisle, but find that it ends in a wall. I notice that the wall is of the same material as the dividers separating the cubicles, so I kick with all my might, breaking through to the other side. I stick my head through first and, finding no zombies on the other side, we both plunge through into a kitchen area. On the countertop directly ahead there is a wooden block filled with knives. I am eager to arm myself, but I let her choose first. She pulls a large straight blade out of the block. I grab the next biggest looking knife, seeing a serrated edge as I pull it out. I imagine stabbing a zombie in the forehead, but notice in my imagination how tough it is to remove from its skull. Best not to push my luck like that if more than one zombie is attacking or I could find myself unarmed once again.

Studying the wavy edge of the blade, I wonder how sharp it is. I softly, barely even touch it to the palm of my hand, yet it opens a deep gash across my hand. I wince as sharp pain shoots up my arm, and open my eyes to see blood gushing out. Embarrassed of self-inflicting my own wound in this scenario of already overwhelming danger, I look over to see the reaction of my friend, but she doesn't notice; her head is turned towards the huge windows, sad eyes staring into the blankly serene cerulean sky.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Of Lost Mushrooms, 3 Lionesses, and a Monkey (Retrodreamland 2001/2002)

I awaken from a boring dream, finding myself on a forested hill. The trees are evenly spaced, with tall, light brown, bare trunks; the leafy canopy is far out of reach, imposing a sense of smallness upon me. I think to myself how strange it is to see a purely deciduous forest like this. Or maybe these are coniferous trees? Knowledge like that is useless here. I stand, head tilted back, pondering the nature of leaves. These do not seem particularly thick, as I can clearly observe the blue sky above them, yet there is no evidence of sun shining through even though I know it is day. My gaze follows the non-existent rays of the sun to the ground, where bare clumps of pale dirt peek through green grass. I turn and slowly run up the hill, following others towards what looks like a cabin.

Yes, it seems that our destination was a cabin in the woods, situated at the apex of the hill. I arrive to find Foxtrot, Lemon, and some others waiting. I guess there's a party to be had, since we rarely get together for other reasons; that's fine with me, since I haven't had much fun lately. Not to mention my weakness against peer pressure.

We pile into the cabin and start by consuming some mushrooms, which I assume are of the magical variety. This is great fun (I think) and some excitement ensues, although it fails to register in my memory. Something to do with an oven, and the ceiling? The ceiling, which from the inside seems much too large for the cabin, is covered with interesting trinkets: mossy green pots and pans, and a greenish moose head. Strange. Perhaps I shouldn't have eaten these shrooms? Oh well. You can't change the past. Well, not usually, anyways.

When the daze of this chaotic trip begins to fade, I find myself in the family van. My sister Erin is driving, and Christian and Lemon are in the back. I, being my sisters brother, am sitting in the front. We're driving down a curvy dirt road. The foresty hill is on our right, and another sparse forest is on our left. No space separates the road and the trees, as if the forest threatens to smother the road. I suddenly realize (and I acknowledge how stupid this sounds) that I am having an out of body experience, and my perspective is floating beside the vehicle. Looking around, I determine that we are heading west, towards a point where the road ends and an overgrown path leads back to the cabin on the forest hill.

Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure why Christian is in the car. Was he at the party? He doesn't do drugs. I'm also not sure why we are heading back. Maybe I forgot something important?

Before we reach the end of the road, our way is blocked by three lionesses. Aroused from their sleep, they stare hungrily at us, tongues reaching out to lick lips. The van lurches to a halt, and without saying a word, Erin slowly does a U-turn and we drive away.

We zoom over the crest of a hill, but I happen to look behind and glimpse an old man and woman walking the road, their fat bodies awkwardly contained within grey and white shorts and t-shirts. Their grey hair sticks to their sweaty heads, and the taller moustached man rubs perspiration from his spectacles. We crest the hill and they disappear from my view (which has unfortunately returned to my body). I fear that the oblivious oldies will be easy prey for the three carnivorous predators, so I quickly devise a plan. Lemon, Christian, and I will run to their rescue, and Erin will wait in the van, ready for out getaway as soon as we return. Simple enough.

It all goes wrong. My comrades fling open the door and run over the hill, but I am frozen. I don't know whether it is fear or cowardice (there's a difference, you know). Whatever the reason, it is overwhelmed by a foreboding sense of doom deep my guts as I watch my two friends run towards their peril while I wait safely behind. Anxiety clutches my chest. They make it to the old couple just in time to join their demise as the feline trio descends upon them all. Wide-eyed, I tell Erin to leave, and she obeys me, leaving them to fend for themselves. We make our way down the road in silence, van doors wide open, the sounds of the trees whooshing by. Oh well. You can't change the past. If we turn around now, we'll be late for the cat training class at the community center. We wouldn't want to be late.

The road emerges from the choking forest, and we arrive at a cheerful looking building. We park the van, we go inside. We hang our coats on pegs and neatly leave our shoes in the small square entry room, before continuing into a larger main room with a long table in the center. Everything inside is wood except for some paintings and other decorations hanging on pegs along the wall.

We mingle with the many people already here, and I notice Lemon is among them. I desperately want to ask him how he got here before we did, what happened back with the lionesses, and where Christian is, but I feel too ashamed and decide not to bring it up and expose my cowardice. Everyone takes a seat along the long table and pulls out their personal bag of catfood. I have large sized, half-empty bag of rank smelling dry kitty kibbles. The lessons begin, but my mind wanders from boring lectures on cathood, into the realms of my own secret past...

In the vast expanses of my untold and unremembered histories, my thoughts settle upon an old acquaintance of mine. I reminisce about our unhappy final encounter; more unhappy for him than me. My acquaintance was a small monkey, like Curious George with a bad temper. It was so long ago, the details mostly forgotten, yet one I remember clearly: I beat this monkey on the head. With a stick. Repeatedly.

My trip down memory lane is cut short with the realization that the lecture is over and everyone is leaving. When I get to the coat room, I realize that I have forgotten my sack of catfood. I groggily return to the long room, finding the half-empty bag still laying at my spot on the table. As I approach to reclaim it, I am struck by the fact that the room appears to have become much smaller. I shrug and continue forwards, opting to get my item and get the heck out of this boring place...

But things never go as easily as expected. I reach for my bag, and out jumps the monkey! You know, the one who I beat in the head multiple times? The one who has recovered, the one who has a score to settle? And... the one who now has the Ebola virus? Bulging purple fingers tipped with crusty Ebola virus claws lash out at my arm, missing by an inch as I jump back. The monkey starts climbing and jumping along the walls, circling me like Spiderman. He jumps at me suddenly, biting at my leg! Fortunately, his small jaws and pointy teeth are unable to penetrate my thick black pants, although I notice his mouth foam soaks right through. He backs off, once again circling me. Somehow I feel confident; he can't get me through my pants! And I'm right, he doesn't get through my pants. Instead, he goes for my bare arm, biting deeply. I wish I could go back and change our past. Oh well. Now the score is settled, and now I have his Ebola virus. "Damn", I think to myself as my vision closes in, "I'll get that Ebola monkey if it's the last thing I do!" Then, total darkness.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

China Life

Upon a dusty, worn out mattress in a dark and run-down apartment in the slums of Hong Kong, I lay awake in a room I share with my Asian companion, silently contemplating my life in the dead of night. Why did I come here? More so an escape than a vacation; the rusty spring bed digging into my shoulder blade clearly attests to this. To live simply, one person among the horde, all struggling for those meager resources that maintain our struggle for meager resources. A life with nothing to lose, a life without an abstract and unattainable happiness, a life without confusion.

I test cough. The Asian I share a room with shifts and sniffs, indicating wakefulness. We quietly creep from creaky beds and sneak through doorless corridors, as we have so many other nights past, to spy on the curious contents of those other rooms. Our intentions are innocent: simply to absorb the sight of those sleeping souls, to become the keepers of memories that would otherwise never find a mind.

The stale, dusty air muffles our steps as we round a corner, first revealing just heads like half-assed spies before fully exposing our bodies to the entrance. Two fat black people sit upon a mattress on the floor; a mother and son, packing worthless looking possessions into well-used cardboard boxes. They are moving to the newly vacated room down the hall. Their morbid obesity suggests a long night long of shambling, dragging  boxes and mattress, and taking ample breaks to catch their shallow wheezing breaths. We offer our aid in their struggle, and receive gruff grunts of acceptance that hide their thankfulness from us, and the sorry status of their existence from themselves. We each grab boxes and are out of the room in the time it takes them to begin the arduous task of standing.

We travel down the dark hallway, decorated with peeling wallpaper and long abandoned webs, and catch a glimpse of a fluffy humanoid peeking around the corner of a side passage before disappearing. As we pass by the corridor, I look down and see the backside of an old bearded lady with long messy blond hair and a faded pink cotton dress quickly shuffling away, holding a little fluffy dog who stares back at me with haunted eyes portraying a clear message: how did I end up in this state of being?

We find the vacant room down the next corridor, set the boxes down, and head back for more. Upon our return, the monsters have managed to stand and pick up some boxes. They eagerly pass them over before shooing me away back down the hall. Going alone, I take a wrong turn and find myself in a room with the old lady. She is holding a pair of electric clippers, and frizzy blond hair is strewn about all over her soiled mattress. Both her dog and herself have received hasty amateur haircuts, strips of long hair punctuating the sheared surfaces of their skin. She looks up with an eager, toothless smile as if begging for acceptance. The now mostly bald dog shows me those same eyes as before. I apologize and explain that I must have taken the wrong turn and, holding back a sneeze, flee the eerie scene to finish my task...

When morning comes, I emerge from the dank building I call home, into a muddy city square lit by lanterns strung about like drying laundry, and the dim light of dawn. My family is on a vacation to visit me today, so I head off towards the train to find them.

I find myself on the train, dismal grey and full of uncolored passengers. Everyone is standing, facing no particular direction. I can hear their murmuring voices but see no moving lips. The outside scene of abandoned wooden structures and a drizzling rainy grey sky moves by slowly, framed by busted up metal train window frames ineffectively patched up with Scotch tape. I move to the back of the car where a metal door leads to the next one, pry it open, cautiously look behind me, and walk through.

I'm in the space between cars. Worn looking wooden planks extend from the doors on either side, meeting together in the middle with a creaky metal hinge. A loose tube of tough looking fabric surrounds the space between, possibly to save someone from being run over should they fall off of the precarious bridge spanning the gap, though I'm unsure its effectiveness would be proven should I fall. I begin crossing the rickety planks, shaking with the clattering movement of the train. Nearing the halfway point, I hear the metal door behind me slide open, and a stream of loud and angry sounding Chinese gibberish. Wide-eyed, I slowly and carefully twist my head around deliver to this man and his conductors uniform a deadpan gaze. He motions me to go one way or the other. Danger of crossing the gap forgotten, I hurry to the next car.

I step through the sliding door onto a semi-open car. Humans mill about the rectangular space like farm animals, loosely crafted wooden fencing preventing them from falling off the sides. The top is open to the sky, which is a cheerful cerulean spotted with clouds, and through the gaps in the fence I glimpse vast green fields and occasional trees passing by. I see my family at the far side of the train and feel an unexpectedly warm joy accompanying this knowledge of their presence. They beckon me to join them with a friendly wave, before pulling back a large plank in the fence and ducking through the opening. As I hastily make my way through the crowd, the plank bangs shut behind them. I pry it open for myself and slide through.

On the other side I find myself in a cavernous underground space, with a stream of sewage water that bisects a polluted earthen floor. The small groups of raggedy people huddling around oil drum fireplaces and inside dilapidated tents seem to pay no attention to me. I see my family has crossed to the other side, where they are already disappearing up a staircase into the unknown. I move to cross, but stumble; the tip of my sneaker soaks with the concentrated piss flowing in the stream, and my bare hands press into the oily earth as I stop my fall. I close my eyes and take a breath to collect myself before standing.

I get to my feet and feel struck, like a glass of moonshine chugged. I'm dazed and wasted, and struggle to get my bearings. I can barely make out the staircase I want to go to, but stumble to the left. I stop and try to turn, but frustratingly move again in the same direction, towards the dark passageway where the sewage runs.

Each step forwards is a failed feat of will as I continue away from my destination. I look up and see clearly; I'm in a cylindrical brick tunnel, the floor packed flat with garbage. At the end of the tunnel is a cubic space where two shady men are making an exchange. In unison, they look my way. One must be a ninja, because his arm flashes out almost instantly, releasing towards me a round metal compact disc-like shuriken. As it speeds towards my throat, I desperately grab the closest thing I see: a discarded pair of metal scissors. I defend against the first projectile in the nick of time, only to be assailed by a seemingly endless barrage of discs. Repeated deflections feed my confidence, and I begin pressing forward towards the attacker. As I span the gap, however, the disorientating daze redescends upon me. I struggle to keep my eyes open and focused, my scissors barely finding their way to clink against each attack. Time practically grinds to a halt, and it seems to take 10 minutes before I finally arrive at the end of the corridor.

A blur of movement; my scissor's edges rest against the ninja's neck, and the other man's gun finds its way to my temple. There is a long moment of uncertainty, but finally a mutual acknowledgement. Our weapon arms drop, the men complete their exchange: a small baggie of white powder for a handful of rusty coins.