Catman Meets the Thing

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The lover of cats does not so much love the little sycophant balls of fur as he craves their affection. Anything, any trace of attention directed toward the frost of his cold and achingly lonely existence. Even as they pander to him solely in search of food, he caresses – slicking down the arch of their backs – convincing himself that their purr is a whirring sonnet of love exclusively written for he.

The cat lover also loves the thing. The beautiful thing that he watches each and every day as it walks through the courtyard that divides their world in two. There is something about the wild bloom of its hair, how it bounces and sways like sand hill tussock every time that it opens its mouth. Though not ever to him, no, not a once has it ever spoken to him.

The lover of cats gets angry sometimes and he grabs at his furry charges throats. He squeezes until their little eyes bulge and the pink tips of their mocking tongues poke right on out. But he loves them.

He does.

The cat lover is tonight stalking the thing and a scraggy troop of felines patter in his wake. He is beckoned by the images that form in his bed and he now squints at its ass as it walks. How beautifully its skin glows in this dusk, he thinks. The powdery rust tinge of its skin in the glare of the street lamp light.

He passes the shuttered newsagent’s kiosk with its peeling leering posters that taunt as they pout and they stare. The thing turns, into and up a cobbled side street that now abruptly seems to fold in onto itself, narrowing into the darkness’ gently wettening mist.

The thing stops and turns and its shoulders heave, its breath a pumping gush spillage that rolls as smoke from its lips. The cat lover lashes out and with the quake of his fingers he grabs at its throat and he stymies its pant as he tightens.

It is cold tonight but the fear that shakes in the thing’s eyes warms him. But then, suddenly, it calms and its full lips part and they knead themselves into words.

“May I ask you a question?”, it asks.

“Don’t talk”, the cat lover snaps, his grip ever so slightly loosening.

“Sorry, it’s just perplexing, is all. In this age of Tactile VR Sex and Rape-bots, in a society where you can legally marry a bio-synthetic celebrity deep-fake, why, why do you crave me so?”

“Don’t talk.”

“It’s because I’m real, isn’t it? It’s power. You feel no such supremacy with something you can programme and switch on and off at will. But here’s the rub, cat man, I’m not human. And just so you know, I am also no machine.”

With that, the cat lover’s fingernails slide and drop away as does the meat that cupped them in place. Unable to move nor scream, the cat lover feels and he hears as every last agonizing strip of sticky flesh now pries away from his bones. He breaks and he parts and he drops with a wet dead slap to the ground.

“You were not special. Not particularly maligned. I, too, am lost in myself. Trapped in this dark corner that nobody knows and they judge and they wonder just why I keep to myself. We are all secrets”, he says as he shoos away the cats as they feast.

The Comedian

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

War is a sanguisuge. The blood thief, taker of light and life and sleep that is sound. The old one who rips speech from shocked throats and piss-stains the sheets of the brave.

Two fat men sit in a room leafed in gold. A dirty pact oozes from their pens and they smile as they shift the swelling sacks in their trousers and pick at their teeth and laugh about things that aren’t funny.

They’ve decided that war is obsolete and a fiscally succulent peace is declared. It’s no longer acceptable for bombs to make holes in great beaches.

It ended. Just like that, the fat men took credit but I think that people simply tired of the waste. It ended save for one tiny corner in the red desert sand. Here war would be allowed its rage.

Sixteen gargantuan turrets appear in the night, a line drawn, aligned in the sand. Face-to-face juggernauts, two hundred meters and a now dwarfed barbed wire barrier all that separates unstoppable force from immovable an intractable hate. Pure electrical might hurled from one side and caught and returned by the other. A farcical bloodless barrage.

But there is one special single day. A day of death and a time to celebrate the loss of violences’ past.

Millions make the pilgrimage to visit this front, this façade. Actually, the back of the front as this was where massive hotel complexes have latched like voyeur backpacks behind the great shields as they boom and shudder their volleys of super-charged fire.

The comedian stands behinds her own shield, the microphone that lifts her and deflects daggers as they soar. Words which now dart through the bar and up to her stage along gush currents of liquor and machismo filled wheeze.

She knows this is the eve of a day that cuddles their hearts, a day where nostalgia and patriotism stand heads bowed atop a thousand bloodied plains.

Their vitriol forms her. But she wonders if she is truly as grotesque as they say. She looks out over the sea of chests, puffed with ancestors medals and eyes puffed with memories of death and of innocence bartered and she too feels the weight of their loss.

Loss she can leverage and mock. One she can strip to its core and parade naked through the selective passages of their minds. A cascade of shunned homosexuals and deserters, of rapists and looters and cowards.

Her grandfather had loved her but even he grew uneasy at the barbs in her jokes. He said nothings ever simple when guns and flags are forced by old men into the mouths of the young. Remembrance is private and honour is something earned and not an accessory that comes with the kit.

He knew what she was trying to say.

Tomorrow the cannons will stop and volunteers will march into the gauntlet field. Stripped of clothing and with nothing but stones in their hands. Proportionate stupidity for all.

Humanity has done away with cruelty but still, it allows itself this one cheeky sip. To gaze over the lip of their glasses and drink in the nakedness and death that glistens in the sun.

The comedian clears her throat and the mindless weapon beneath her feet also now tires of the coming farce and it swivels, putting its back to the barrage.

Molten sparking death rips through the hotel, it roars and it peels and cooks our children and medals they fuse and melt and fall into the ash, but nothing will change. Nothing.

Tomorrow the games will go on.

Stupid Girl

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

I hate women. I really do. I guess that’s probably why I chose this life. Or maybe it’s as they say, it’s this life that chose me. I’d heard that up here in the colonies the women are obedient. That they do as they’re damn well told.

I’ve been here a month. Sold everything for a one way ticket to dig holes in a rock that just barely feels the warmth of our sun. I had to get away. Away from the screech of all those who wanted equality. What a fucking joke! Women, successful women at least, aren’t they just aping the attributes of men? Then, who better to do a man’s job than a man, am I right? And don’t get me started on those who’d have themselves butchered, baby killers when all they have to do is keep their bloodied legs shut. I am right.

It sickens me and I grew so tired, you know, of bearing the weight of this farce.

The population on the base is precisely controlled. Here a miner dies he is replaced. I’m the latest replacement. I love that every detail is regimented. Where even the women here agree to be sterilized. Most are old and haggard and don’t look like they could conceive a bright idea, let alone a child. But, then, there are those who came here as children and they, too, are sterilized when they come of age.

I met one. A stupid girl who came up to me at the Working Man’s Saloon. To her credit, she politely asked if it was all right if she spoke. I liked that. She brought me drinks all night. She whispered of how great it was to meet a fresh man. One who’d not been here long enough to get the dust in their blood and she told me that she’d love to swim naked in the deep blue pools of my eyes.

How easily she slipped into my bed. It was true what they said of this place. The women of the moons are only good for two things and I am yet to taste her cooking.

So young and beautiful, she is a precious commodity. Mine to have and do with as I please. She could’ve had anyone. But she chose me. She talked about books and she talked about art and she talked about how if she was down back on Earth that she had a plan to clean up its filth. She would write novels and she’d paint about the lush colours she had never once touched and people would love again the Earth… just shut up and lay still, you stupid, stupid girl.

That was a month ago. The night before my rotation down at the face of the core. All that is left of her now is this note on the screen and for the first time I taste the grit of this moon in my lungs.

A government shuttle took her away. Was it luck that deemed her that one in a million for who the sterilization did not take? Did she know that if pregnant the corporation would whisk her away, fly her and my child back down to Earth, to that place she so badly craved to be?

“Stupid…”, I say to the reflection in the screen in my tiny room on this malignant base on this foul lonely moon so very, very far from home.

Be and Bo Versus the Nazis

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

Be and Bo waste in their room. Their skin is mottled and even the air has taken on the musky taint of peeling rot. Actually, it’s not so much a room as it is a cell, yet it’s the only home they’ve ever known.

Their mother is a large monitor that dominates an entire wall and she too is dead or, at least, she is in the last throes of life as her dulled pixels float and hang and fail to ignite.

“They’re all dead. The planet is smiling, finally it’s rid of its scourge”, says Be through lips that have cracked into opposing rows of gaping fleshy furrows.

“I want a tomato sandwich”, mumbles Bo, absently wondering if the consumption of scabbing skin holds any nutritional benefit whatsoever.

Eighteen years ago, two very special newborns are snatched from their very special parents. Parents who are subsequently poisoned, and when this didn’t have the desired effect, then shot as they flayed and screamed in words foreign and strange and doggedly refused to die.

It took more than a few bullets but die they eventually did and two little girls are sent to an island and raised in a box with a screen.

“Fucking Nazis!”, snaps Bo and she remembers the jackboot nannies who slid gruel through a slot, never seen adherents to a new and freshly half-baked Reich.

All hail to the glutton king. The self-styled father of all who swallowed whole this final of all ages. This wonderful time where the excruciating pain of bigotry had finally reached its untenable zenith. A time where the planet had, not completely but with greatly improved purpose, overcome and embraced its differences and pushed aside its divisions and hates.

“What a fucking dick!”

Yet a brilliant dick, as the mad quite often are. A man of science who with a twitch of his mind could’ve sealed the deal on this centuries’ sought peace. But, instead, he created a weapon. A goose-stepping phalanx of orbiting obscenity. A gentle blue beam that swept the globe entire, rows of upper-atmospheric harvesters scooping our crust and all that cowered below with a ray that targeted not tanks, not artillery – but race.

With such relish he programmed his big throbbing guns, primed with the DNA sequences that he believed defined the specific genetic trace that he collectively blamed for everything corrupt and deviant and evil and…

… a brilliant man, not a good nor a smart one. For as he pushed the button with the quivering warm certainty of his hate, he instantly vaporized a large juicy slice of himself.

His folly was streamed live as he wanted all to see as he shook the world in his hands. Be and Bo watched as he ceased to exist and they watched as the weapons continued to recalibrate, cycling through and deleting life, slice by gossamer slice… until not a one single wet slippery cell of humanity remained.

But that was weeks ago…

The monitor spits and one last volley of code is beamed from above and the cell door whines as it opens.

Mankind had its chance and so very nearly got there. But now the machines hand over the keys. It will be the very special Be and Bo, whose genetic strand heritage loops up and into the stars, it is they who now hold this rock.

“Thought it’d be bigger”, says Bo as she steps into the gentle pinch of the sun.

“What is a tomato?”, says Be as she sways for the very first time to the lulling fold of the sea.

Fork

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

“You are going to sleep with me”, said my wife as she stepped out of the future and spoke to a man who wasn’t me.

“You’re so strange”, smiles the man as he touches her fingers and pushes the hair from her eyes.

“First you will cup my breast and pin me against the wall in the bathroom of the hospital in which your mother lays dying. You will tongue my lips and I’ll contract the pathogen black rot of your lies. And I will carry their stain and I will pass it on down to my children.”

“That’s rather dramatic. I think I told you she was sick, but how did you know she’s dying? Doesn’t matter, Look, I’ve only known you a few months but I can see you’re sad. I’ve seen you with him. Your boyfriend. I see you walking together and it’s as if you’re strangers. You deserve better.”

“I forgot about my husband and my children, I forgot as I lay down with you. I escaped with you, though you took me nowhere and together we lied to them all.”

“Married? You’re not married, are you? And if you have children then you’ve kept them very quite. Do you have them locked up in a box?”, smiles the man who isn’t me.

“My children are my life”

“If this is the future you see for us, then, I have to say I would never lie to you. You are so full of potential. Maybe, you need someone who really cares to tell you sometimes, is all.”

“The day I told him about us was the day I tore him in two. But he stayed with me. For years and years and years, he stayed. He loved me best he could but the drip, drip, drip sticky filth of what we did just never stopped”

“There’s no need for this. All I want is to have a little fun. You’re over-thinking.”

“Will you smile at your wife tonight when you still have the stink of my sweat on your skin? Will you feel shame as tomorrow you sit at your table with your son and you look over his shoulder at the couch where you pushed me down and pulled at my hair?”, said my wife as she remembered the last moments of my life. When I looked at her and she knew that old age had robbed me of every thought but that still I saw just what she’d done.

“I love my wife. But I love you, too”

“You won’t and you don’t have to believe me, but I came back. I lived a long life with this chaos we wrought. And you, well, you went on with your wife and your children and you lied for yourself the most splendid of lives.”

“You’re fucking sick”

“When he died I broke and I fell and when I got up I was young again and back here at this fork in the road. I thought it was a chance to repair what I did but it isn’t. Things are not as they were. I am not married and my children they do not yet exist. It is you with the family now.”

I walk up to my wife, my girlfriend, as she sits in the Cafè with a man who isn’t me. I smile and I shake his hand firmly and I hope that he smells the cooling beads of his wife’s sweet sweat as it drifts to him down from my skin.