Hell’s Cells

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The Prisoner

Lucian Lockley is in a cell on the moon. He lays on the stainless steel bench and his eyes take leave and run up the side of his cage. The walls seem to angle inward. Elongating in his mind until they all but touch at a point miles above his head.

Earth. That filthy scratched eyeball that spins miles below the back of his mind. A wasted rotting place. Paradise, he thinks.

He wants to go back. But he never will. He wants to smoke and watch television and fuck other people’s wives. He wants to slide the Earth’s dirty sheath deep down into his skin. He wants to feel its warm sweating tongue, as it licks through the halls of his veins. He wants to play with his kids.

It’s been years now since the end arrived and a new beginning began. When wealth and circumstance again divided us up into tribes. How fast the richest of the rich raked at our resources. How swift and neat as they built, and then ascended to their purgatory villas in the sky.

And, here, they will wait as we that were left wipe away the shit, the filth from sides of the bowl.

“You’re gonna need a bigger rock. There are so many more just like me. This new time, it’s an incubator. They’re not repairing the Earth, they’re acclimatizing to it. Only the fool now awaits a new Eden. My beautiful, Eden”

The Prisoner’s Wife

Eden Lockley is laying stretched out on her now half-empty double-bed. Her gaze follows the peeling seam of the wallpaper and her walls too stretch, like monolithic slabs above her head. But these do not taper, they just go on and on until they fade to a blur.

She touches the spot where her husband once lay and she loves that his warmth isn’t there. The crack in her eye-socket hurts as she squints and she calls on out into the nothing.

“I’ll shovel in the street. I’ll feed the furnaces as they swallow back down this waste that we laid. I’ll step atop the tiny minds that seek to control me and I’ll climb right up from this hell. I’ll heave up my children and we, too, will live in the clouds. Adapt. Overcome. Kill, if I have to. But I will win.”

The Prisoner’s Lawyer

Leonardo Tito sits on a bed, surrounded with his toys, deep within his sprawling inflatable mansion. A grotesque puff of opulence, that tethers to a cable that holds it 35,786km above the Mariana Anchor Station, deep beneath the polypropylene sea.

The whiskey stings. Its memory pours into his sunken morning eyes and his walls, they appear to slope outwards, and they funnel the most devilish things.

A seething spillage that engulfs him now as he huddles. His clients. Surface dwellers that he allows up into his world, so he can bask as they fawn and scrape for the heady treats that he forces down into their mouths.

“The river…”, he sighs.

Animals. No matter how he cleans them. No matter how he scents and smooths their skin, he cannot rid them of this new world’s acrid taunt.

Tomorrow, he’ll descend. They’ll again bow as he walks to the river. He will wade out into its bubbling swirl and though its acids will feast, he will sit and he will smile and he will lay down in the surging clink lap of its flow.


Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The angel sits at the end of the Pope’s bed and toys with an errant strand of gold thread. Running it between thumb and finger, a residue flicker; a remnant of the mass shunt of energy that had pulled him here from across the universe, that which he can still taste as it lingers like sucked coins in his mouth, strobes into the ornate bedcovers design and sparks it into life.

The Pope, whose name was once Adam, awakens with a start.

“Who are you?”, he asks.

“Listen close. Time is of the essence”, says the angel, letting go of the thread, and so casting the ostentatious gape of the chamber back into its early morning gloom.

“If it’s violence you seek to lay here…”

“I’m an angel.”


“It’s so confounding. Your race is so devout, yet you struggle now to accept my validity. I’m an icon of your belief system. But you think me mad. You wail and throw yourselves at the coffins of the dead, though you are convinced that their essence has passed on to a better place.”

“What do you want? Or, are you simply content to sit there and mock?”

“You don’t understand, Adam. I’m not mocking. This is praise.”

The Pope sits upright, and he chews at the skin at his knuckle.

“Centuries ago we visited this world of yours. It was one of countless many that harboured life. We poked around a bit, got to meet a few of the locals and, then, we left. Didn’t think anything of it. Like I said, you are but one of many.”

“Tell me what you want.”

“Well, you see, the interesting thing was just how your species, it alone, how it interpreted that visit. We have been studying its evolution for many years. I mean, I know you were a primitive people but the way you inflated and combined and justified what you saw. How you gave supernatural attributes to people and places that were simply people and places. The place I come to you from, my home, it is the place you call heaven.”

The Pope’s eyes fill, and he shakes the tears to his cheeks.

“The cradle of our repentant souls…”, he breathes into his clasped hands.

“No. No, it’s not. It’s a planet and it has nothing to do with your races bizarre desire to live on past its own end”

“But you are an angel. I feel the light you carry. Please, tell me where we went wrong. Open the path to your kingdom…”

“I am an emissary for a very particular group of progressive… politicians, shall we say. Our civilization has no deities. Not for the lack of trying. We attempted over and over to replicate the type of social control that you managed here on earth with your gods. It never worked. Sure, we have wars but nothing as vicious and as divisive as your catalogue of God sanctioned destruction. Our kind marry who they want, they drink and eat what they want and when they die there is great mourning. Because we know there are no other lives to be had.”

“You want the texts, the scriptures. Don’t you? You want the word, so that your people can see the true light.”

“No, we want you Adam.”

“Come again?”

“We have your book. For years we called on our own great minds to spout its teachings. But none were believed, nor followed. We want to control the masses, Adam. Show us how. They will think you a god”.

The Walled City

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The little girl clutches into her blankets and runs her cheek over the ancient concrete veins that etch into the great wall at her side.

“I love the wall. It is strong and tall and beautiful and long, isn’t it Dad?”, she says, thinking with the scrunch of her lips.

“Tell me, again, who built it, please…”

“Again? You’ve heard this story, maybe, and this is just a rough estimate, a bazillion trillion and two and a half times. How about you tell me the story?”, says her father as he looks out through their acid-strafed hermetic bubble, and across the undulating flotsam of the now dimming Sonoran wetland sea.

“Well, in the beginning, there were no houses on the wall. There was no monorail, no shops, there were no buildings at all sprouting up and out from its sides. There was nothing. Just wall. On one side, there was wall and on the other side there was more wall looking back at it. Why was it just a wall, Dad?”

“Because the man who built it wanted a barrier, not a city.”


“Because he wanted to stop people from crossing from one side to the other. Remember, there used to be a border where the wall stands now. Many years ago, before the deluge… before the resumption.”

“Why did they want to cross?”

“Many reasons. Running away from stuff. Running toward stuff. Running stuff… Hey, it’s time for sleep.”



“What’s your favourite drink?”

“Corn Squeezin’s.”

“That’s alcohol, isn’t it Dad?”

“It most certainly is.”

“Belen’s mum told her that her Dad came home so drunk the other night that his auto-pilot got arrested for drunk droning.”

“Christ, that reminds me, your father will be landing any minute. Best for us both that you be found deep in Sleepsville.”

“You’re scared of him, aren’t you Dad?”

“More than fear itself”, he smiles.

“They’re going to build a pool at my school.”

“A pool. In my day, there wasn’t enough water to drink, let alone swim in.”

“Yup, it’s going to be made of transparent polymer forged in New Qalqilya. It will go right through the wall from one side to the other, right under the football pitch. I think it’s much more fun that we all live here together, it’s better than a border, isn’t it Dad?”

“It is, and you’ll be able to swim from one side of the city to the other. But you really, really, really… did someone say really?… need to sleep.”

A silent alarm flashes, a signal of the family transport’s imminent arrival.

“Buenas noche, Dad.”

“Tisbah Ala Kheir, Gal. Go to sleep. Sleep. Eyelids getting heavy, shutting…”

There is a gentle scratching and the sound of hydraulic clamps locking, as the drone settles on the pad above their heads. Dimmed internal lights automate, and a decontamination lift whooshes into life and begins to lower from the ceiling.



“Nope”, she says, awkwardly now sitting, her face burning in excited recognition as her father steps into the light. “Papa!”

“Glass of water?”, her father smiles as he kisses her Dad’s cheek and, tiredly, drops his briefcase, it too flopping to the floor with a resided sigh.

“No. When I’m big, I’m going to build walls. Huge strong walls that reach out across the dead water. And I will keep adding to them and adding to them until I find the lost tribes. We can all be together. Like a bridge. That will be good, won’t it?”, said the little girl, gesturing excitedly with the tentacle stubs of her shoulders.

Villa Mater

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

Tāne hoists himself over the wrought iron gate and as he falls heavily to the ground, he feels it. A deafening coldness as the old building strains and grins. It had been enticing him here for years.

Villa Mater had once been a home for the elderly. But for decades now it had laid empty, victim to a desire to expedite the process of dying, and not coddle those who had all but lived their lives to the end.

“Look at her shutters, hanging from hinges upon which once they swung. Now shedding the rot of their slats, scattering them as tears to the ground”

“Do you ever speak like a normal person?”, Meri prods as she pushes open the door.

“This place has haunted you well enough, personifying it gives it a face. Faces bite”

“Faces kiss too”, he smiles.

Upstairs they easily find the room. He knows the number from the records he’d searched – 92.

Tāne steps into the room and inhales as threadbare curtains roll in the slit breeze, agitating the black creeping rot of her bed.

“I’m here now, Nonna”

He sits on the beds sodden edge, but before the throb of his sad guilt can muster his next thought, he falls back. It’s like fainting, only it’s dying and down into the mattress he tumbles.

A tunnel formed from never known memories of an old woman and then…

… he awakens, an echo.

A phantom in a deserted hospital. The ghost of a great author, stashed away and hidden from the world, here where electrodes they bit and chewed at his temples.

A film crew readies for the night to arrive. An intern named Frances, steps into the exact spot where the author had screamed through his teeth and she sieves down into the floor. A sluice. A vein that pulsates amid fouled needles that ooze from its walls and…

… she’s barely conscious, as then, she melts into the bullet ridden body of a soldier. Just enough life to contract his fingers, as she grips up out from the mud.

She feels the tickling roots of poppies as they lace down and suckle her bones and the mud becomes hard and the sun ticks away at the years.

An archaeologist huddles in a trench. A hole pocked skull at the tip of his brush. His finger touches the soldier’s bones and he grabs at his chest. He snakes down into the earth and falls out into space and through and back into time…

… and he wakes. The first blink of a newborn child. And, in these first seconds, she remembers all that has past.

Then, nothing.

Nothing for years. Nothing until the ghosts they come.

As a teen, she will be diagnosed and plied with pills as she recalls the mind of a lonely boy.

She’ll sit in the street and piss in her veins as the author he hands her the needle.

She’ll lament a poor girl who lived for the horror in films. Her dreams and passions not lived.

And she will think about things she cannot fathom. Cold. Wet living things with feet that rot in the mud and she feels the ripping ache of her soldier.

The woman sits alone in the villa because her skin has furrowed and she can no longer count backwards from ten.

“Come to me, Tāne”, she chants to the air.

Hidden away behind shutters and doors, she waits for her end as she remembers again the lives that she’s lived.

And, though nobody will listen, she knows… she knows she’s back where she began.

Bad Milk

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The woman, who’d run to the farthest edge of a star system to find who she was, contracted into herself as she read the message and discovered that, perhaps, she had not.

Renfield Station/ Pluto/ Transmission Incoming: “You don’t know me and this may come as a shock, I’m your father…”, it said.

And with that short sharp jolt so began a long and, as it turned out, rather pointless game of interplanetary hearsay ping-pong. Her first volley was returned by the man with a long and surprisingly candid message regarding his supposed baby-making escapades years before with the woman’s mother.

The man offered no further proof to his claims, bar, for an old photograph of the woman as a baby. A photo of innocent issue that she’d seen many times before. How did he come by this? And, how would she now settle the shrapnel doubts that did dice and slice in her head.

At this point, egged on by an incessant nagging doubt, she did the unthinkable – she contacted her dear old mum. For years she’d savoured her loneliness, withdrawing even from this wonderful lady. Why?

Her mother was a proud woman who’d raised her alone. This story made her sick. Physically ill at the notion that this man would claim paternity when – again as it turned out – it was impossible for this to be true.

In fact, as this truth became increasingly evident, the man curled back into himself and fell all but silent. Tucked up warm in the world he’d knitted; his obsessive attraction to the woman’s then-teenage mother, a proclaimed shy and delicate disposition and the litany of lies that he’d told his parents, siblings, and children – lies that he’d now stuffed into his cocoons walls as insulation.

The woman had always known who her biological father was. He was never a secret, though, he was never there. He’d been a very young man at her conception. He got married, to a woman who was not her mother, and had children. This was something that had eaten at her, most especially as a teen when she’d felt she was suppressing a vital part of her being. Something wild, screaming and begging to be filled.

She never disbelieved her mother, but, there was something in just how adamant both sides were that they were telling the truth. This something picked and played with her mind until she decided to pull a few strands and obtain a digital sample of her biological father’s DNA.

“Thank you. For I know now who I am. Why I was drawn to travel to this darkest corner of space. Why I’m so dark and why I so love it here with only a damn synthetic for company. He who looks, acts, smells and even makes love like a human. I know that nothing pumps in his veins”

The shuttle is due to dock in a week. She will not speak to her replacement and he’ll think her a bitch. But she must tread carefully, for it is not his blood that she lusts.

“No, I must save myself and pay no mind to this beat that throbs in my teeth. I’ll hold back until I walk of your street. I’ll climb through your window and stand beside your bed. And, as my bite sinks as rapiers into your skin, you will plead through the red bubbles that pop at your lips…”

And the liar, he who’d rob away her heritage, will know what he already knows well – She is not of his flesh.