Watchers from the Deep

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

They seeped through the fissures and oozed through the sands as they rose up from the black and into the quivering blue. Ancient and hungry they feasted, stripping the meat from shells that clamped to the rocks and picking clean the bones that fanned in the fish.

From the tiniest to the largest of sea-bound things these sodden daemons consumed as they tore every last bit of life from the waves. They bloated as they gorged, but still, they wanted more.

They want us. They want to tear down the things that live up above and so they tore to the surface for they could smell the very blood that punched in our veins.

En masse they swarmed and the suns awesome rays fingered down and it seared and it groped and it plucked out the eyes of our attackers. So it is that blind they now diligently stare.

Go down to the cliff-tops and look for yourself. Legion after legion undulating just below the surface as with creamy orbs they watch and they wait.

They wait and they want for the day when they evolve their charred flesh and their blackened corneas peel away and they step out onto our shores. They will find you quickly and they will find me in the end. It matters not where we cower and they will again wrench flesh from its bone.

Children of Silence

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

I began in the winter. My sister’s legs spread as bloodied wings atop the kitchen table and I secrete from her womb. Into the breach I fold, a sluice of screaming muscle and I barge through shuddering thighs in a gush of amniotic tabletop wash.

My youth comes to me in fragments, violent images that flutter down like crumpled Polaroids and dissolve against my beading midnight skin. Flakes so vitriolic, so stunning in the purity of their agony that they would have me beg – no – crave to slip beneath the bubbling comfort of an acid bath’s sweet caustic wrap. Or, as the pain drew me to hate all that I saw, claw for the sickening release of a straight-edge razor’s slow corneal caress.

“What are you thinking father?”, asks my five-year-old self.

“I thought your sister an angel”.

I was six the last time I saw him, I was six and he was sick. His mind eaten through by the gorging worm of obsession. His intellect, sagging in the deep of the iris black like a chute caught hitched atop a tree of rapier thorns.

As my memory’s sticky filth clings as much as it molts, I taste again the stringent zing. It films the roof of my mouth and sings in notes of sweat and ripping pain. It crackles my jaw and dribbles down my thigh. It is doctrine. It is god and gods. See them, the devious daemons and voyeuristic deities that huddle between these words. Words I shouldn’t think let alone speak.

Beware their followers – the sycophant adherents whom mass at their feet. Fear them most, for they are not hobbled by the constraints of fiction. They that are men.

These slaves to an alien master would shepherd my youth, a few bad apples they say. But it is not apples that rip so ravenously at innocence, only to leave it to fester and curdle in darkness – voiceless and alone. They are rapists. But the analogy does hold true in that spoiling fruits do cast a furry cloak of ruin across all that stand at their side, where not even the basket that holds them escapes the creeping decay.

I was to grow up in such a building, one upon which the spores of abuse had long dusted every inch from sacristy to narthex. A tired old facade that shone no less as it enticed with its surly mask of goodness and light. A mask that slid askew the moment I first heard the cries in the night and knew there was darkness at bay.

It that tugs at my hair as I sleep alone in a room empty but for me. They the creeps that creep between stone and plaster and stand atop volumes of scripture, clambering to reach the hole in the wall that faces the foot of my bed. Supposed peers to peer upon my body – rest and motion. Their cold vitreous cradled in sockets caked with the shed scales of evil absolved. At once so celibate, so obedient; they who would anoint me with adoration most foul.

An old familiar scent brushes the edge of my pillow, and he again whispers into my ear.

“Don’t hate me, Frances, I was commanded to lay with your kind and propagate a god, to bring forth a true child of the heavens. I truly thought I was the one for you, as I did with your dear mother. But I step aside for the convocation has spoken, my replacement awaits… so go now, you have such wondrous work to do”.

Zero Gain

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The great starving horde marched through space. No, they didn’t. They swarmed and, just as the hive-minded are apt to do, they toiled relentlessly, each individual an integral part of the whole.

Every last one a citizen and willing slave to its place and function as the collective of this ancient civilisation rose up from its dying world and took the form of a single mass. A great black-winged wedge to glide through the ink in search of that one thing all life craves – sustenance.

I’m not sure if you’ve read or, perhaps, you’ve been told that in all of existence there are but two worlds that harbour sentient life.

The first, of course, is Earth with its hierarchy of intelligence that, arguably, staggers down from humans and then to things that can be shot or caught in nets and, then, to things that squash beneath the tips of shoes and then onto some other insignificant organisms even smaller than that.

The other world, I forget now its name, is the afore-mentioned now dead rock from which the horde had set out. A place where microscopic Goliaths devoured all the things that swam in its sea and all the furry and feathered and scaled creatures that wandered the land and then, finally, although they had long toyed with the possibility of their preservation, they also gulped down the humanoids. The creatures that looked just like you. Mostly, save for that thing with the ears.

So these insects, for want of a better word, they cleaned out their larder and then set out into the heavens in search of a bite to eat.

It is only by chance that they happened upon your minuscule backwater speck of life. A water gripped rock upon which their great wedge could swoop and divide. You saw didn’t you as they dispersed into precisely targeted legions that cut down through the clouds and shunted your day into night.

They targeted the sentient and the swarm did adhere to every last living, breathing and thinking one of you. The first wave hit and they locked together, interconnecting their exoskeletons so that, once again, the many become the one. All life freezes in situ and in an instant all sound ceases, a global silence before simultaneously you could hear them begin to chew.

So there it is. That is how you ended, shredded away from the outside to the in by a bus load of ravenous tourists. The first wave passing back its masticated nutrition to the next wave that latches to its back and, then, back again to wave after wave until you have been replaced right down to your core.

But you had an unwitting surprise in store, didn’t you? You pass on a last little treat. A strand that twists within a tiny strand of your animal essence. A simple variation that locks their joints and closes them down and dooms them to never again budge.

They die, eventually, this time unable to escape from the hunger that throbs and claws in their heads. Though, even if they could, there is not but one crumb of sustenance left in the universe to be had.

At least the trees still look down, creaking in the wind above your morbid monuments. Statue remembrances as you bleach and flake in the sun.

So that’s the story, how in a single day the sentient life total for all of the cosmos was dialled back down to zero. Well, almost zero.

Zero, not counting me.

The Girl Who Fell Up from the Earth

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The ancient evil that lives and breathes and seethes beneath my grandmother’s house has nothing to do with Hell. This rotting husk is not the place that villains go when they die. It is not some construct tasked with offering context and balance to those who need to have a notion of evil so as they know just how it is to be good.

It is a craft. A ship of enormous dimensions and it is a prison and it is failing.

You see these creatures thrive on the exact flavour of toxicity that our planet now finds itself bound. How gleeful as they pulled images of our slow demise down through the dirt and they watched and they plotted and they waited.

Such jealousy as they wish to walk upon the surface as we, but cannot. They pray for the day to arrive when they can wade out into the acid lake. To drink our rank filth down into their pores until it courses through every last ounce of their being.

And so for now they can but dream of a time, now many millennia ago. When their refugee barge spiralled like a great sycamore pod through the endless folds of the cosmos sea. When they crashed down into a world still in the bawling throws of its birth.

At first they thrived in their newly found acid realm. But, then, came the filtering trees and the animals and the greenery and, then… and, then, there came us. They retreated back into their craft and they watched with hungry eyes the march of time as the sediment and waste and the filth layered and layered and it layered.

At the end of one of my grandmother’s many winding garden paths, there is a rock that juts up from the earth. Only it’s not a rock. It is the very tip of a wing. That of a craft of enormous dimensions. As a child, I’d lay my hand upon it and feel its crackle warmth even on the coldest of days and Grandmother would tell me this tale.

How my own mother had been digging in the garden one day and that it was she who discovered the craft. That a tiny door had opened in it and she crawled through and was never seen again.

The monsters used her to create me. They created me so that I would speak to the world. I had to be female and when my time came to make known my voice I had to be young. I had to be sixteen. Surely, nobody would listen and the world would rail against me and belligerently stick to its course.

The monsters knew that the earth was at a tipping point. All it needed was for arrogance and greed to continue its trudge and the end would be nigh and they could slither on up to feed.

It’s just fiction, I know. Just a funny little tale that grandmothers tell. Not a fleck of truth in it at all.

But today, as I stand before the leaders of the world and some mock me and call out my differences, I smile.

I smile because I can feel that so many others can smell the stink of their uranium breath. I see change jostling just at the ends of my fingers. I smile because for now the monsters will remain down in the shell of their crumbling hell.

For now…

… They will, at least, for now.

Man and Woman

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

“I love you, my dearest”, I say folding back and patting smooth the sheet that is tucked at her chin.

I look at her and trace the thick welts at my cheek and feel within them my own mother’s bottomless affection. I, too, will love my child as she loved me. Bottomless, endless love.

I remember caressing her form as she grew in my belly. We were alone, she and I, and even then I knew she was special. More than a daughter. She is my best friend. But today is the day I will hack from her sweet face every last hint of its beauty.

“Is today when you tell me the story?”, she asks through eyes so deep and so dark.

“Yes, yes. For you to understand what’s to come, you must first learn what has already been.”

“Is it a scary story, Mother?”

“It is horrifying. This tale of the day when the world ground to a halt and then again it spun”, I stutter.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Please…”

“OK… so it was that the remnants of our burning planet’s leadership sat in the great auditorium and gazed at him up on the screen.”

“At who?”

“The one who was scrubbed from all memory. A mighty invader from a distant civilisation. He looked like us. Or, at least, he looked like we once had been. Arrogant. Smug in the certainty of his absolute power.”

“What was his name?”

“His name was God. For we had no other name for he who welds control so absolutely. We asked for mercy. We asked to be saved and in his grace he allowed us a chance.”

“I know everything about you. Your cultures, your languages but I really do not understand this incredulous notion you harbour. That there must be some underlying motive to my actions. I annihilate because I can. You want mercy? I can do that, too. Do you know of an Italian television show that goes by the name of Uomini e Donne?”, he said.

“Of course… it is very popular”, The Italian Prime-minister responded bemused.

“It is also very popular on the farthest edge of the galaxy. The borderline tortuous ever-repeating theme music, the continuous vacuous arguing and the fake body parts and the ’does he love her does she not’ dynamic… it’s all so… stimulating. I’ll spare you your world and I will leave and pledge never to return… but you must continue to make that show. You must pour all of your resources into its perpetual continuation. Beam it out into the stars. The very instant that you don’t, I will return and that… will be… the end of that!”

“And so this damned show is beamed three times daily out into the swirling mystery of the cosmos. All notion of organized religion is erased. Government’s cease to exist. There is only the show. A dating show that to this very day selects only our most beautiful. Groomed to transcend mere celebrity, you will pass into the pantheon of immortals. Only you won’t. For it is farce. You’ll be exulted and lauded only whist you still have your looks. The moment age falters your perfection, they will kill you. I’m so sorry… I love you so very, very much”, I say into the pristine ocean eyes of my unfathomably beautiful daughter as my weak fingers open and the blade falls away to the floor.