Author: Hari Navarro
She sits at the console, the warm glow of beading sex sits at her lip and the sleeping monster it shifts and turns in her bed. Silently her fingers glide, swirling across the holographic keyboard that projects from sensors embedded into their tips.
The face that stares from her monitor is that of her lover, a man she has never once met. A man whose skin she’d not brushed against and whose scent is as unknown and alien as the shale plain that lays chill in the darkness beyond the blast shutters at her back. His name is Frank, though nobody knows that but she. In the world of electronic interplanetary sex, he is Blackbird 73-52.
Pinching the corners of her mouth she draws her thumb and index finger together, puckering her lip so as to absently chew at its bulge. The texture of flesh between her teeth and the faint hint of blood comforts as she reads his words.
Carnal words hastily typed, error-filled filth that deteriorates with the ever increasing beat of her breath. Words that wrap and pulse within her in ways that those of the monster never could, nor ever would.
The monster is her husband and she had two monster children. They aren’t monsters. But she has no other word to describe what it is they become. She sees monstrosity as they silently conspire, as they parade before her in flesh suits tailored perfect and stitched just so.
She knows they’ve shifted. The people they were last week is not who they are today. And then, they will change back. Life focusing and blurring, a fucked up iris in constant and perpetual flux.
Franks words taper to exclamation marks and the blood in her veins it quivers. In all the twenty-three months they have been communicating he has never changed. He the one constant in her life. A life where the corridor that backbones her living module grows doorways at will. Where things in photographs evaporate and memories are thought and not spoken.
Her reflection ghosts that of his image and she again sips from her lip. A truth is being hidden from this man she has told everything.
“You good?”, he types in words that have recovered their poise.
“Been thinking about what you told me, the shifting”
“I know what I see”
“I looked into instances of similar cases… where people claim that things change or are substituted”
“I’m not a case”
“There are cases, sorry, reports that suggest that maybe these kinds of feelings…”
“It’s not a feeling”
“… that they can be triggered by historic trauma, sometimes. An event that has you subliminally alter your surroundings so as to remaster the event. To warp time, to protect yourself and those you love”
“From whatever it was that hurt you”
The ensuing silence lasts but a moment, just long enough for a fracture to appear. A crack in the shell that had calcified and entombed a long forgotten memory.
“It was a cage under a house that smelled like wet concrete”
“Come, live with me. The children too”
“It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s a cage built around a cage. Meet me. This thing we have created here can live and breathe in the real world too”
“I can’t. You’ll shift, you’ll change. You won’t want to but you will. I know this. Frank… I’m one of them too”, she laments as her infant son slides open the door and the hallway light warps her reflection on the screen, bubbling and splitting it in two.