Strangers

“I have never seen these people before, and I know not who they are.”

“They are the people you once were, in a past world. They live in your apartment building with you, but they keep from your sight like rats in a cave, appearing before you only on days such as today, when you have proven yourself to be resolute and pure of heart. They appear before you as a reward: the reward is the reminder of how far you have come. Seeing where you were lifts your spirits, and confirms that the way you have chosen is correct. To be virtuous, to be pure of heart, to be free from Gravity, is the course that leads to an especial glorified blessed existence among the stars.

Those shadows you see: when they are alone, they say, “Zoom up!” and they zoom, and are burned in the fires of the atmosphere, and their bones they burn too, and are blackened and sent down to Earth again as soot, dark as a moonless night. Their way is perverse and horrid, and they seek to make it to the starry world as by a shortcut.

Be not like them, my young friend, but stay your course. Though it seem difficult, though it seem trying, and though it seem that Gravity pushes you down at a rate of approx. 9m/s², the truth is that your path is the easiest and most fruitful.”

Big Pot

I am quite certain that no man has ever made as much soup as I made last night. It is an unholy, blasphemous amount of soup. Unholy, because its size recalls the irreconcilable sin of gluttony; blasphemous, because the idea that man should usurp the act of creation to such a vast extent is surely an affront to God.

I got the idea in my head last week that what was required for our household was a Big Pot. We are a household of Soup; this is true all year round, but especially at this time of year. For us, soup is sustenance, and sustenance is soup. Until recently, we made our soups in a moderately sized pot, a pot that was passed down to me from my parents, and has been with me for many a year. This pot, while unremarkable for its physical size, takes up a remarkable space in my heart. Alas, when I conceived of the idea of Big Pot, all this sentimentality was quickly thrown out of the nearest window, and I was overcome with a desire for a pot of such proportions as could feed a whole village.

Well, that is exactly what we now have! The box that seeked to contain this monstrosity denoted its volume as 8 quarts. I have never heard of this foreign measurement, but I can only assume that it is short for quarters – that is to say that our Big Pot is the size of eight quarters – that is to say, it is the size of two whole pots. A pot that is two pots is a frightening concept indeed.

As to the creation of the soup: I began, as usual, by cutting the onion. Ah, the onion! It became clear even at this early moment that cooking with Big Pot was a culinary experience altogether unlike any I had ever reckoned with. When it came time to slide the multisected onion from the board to the pot, I was overcome with a feeling much like that of Neil Armstrong when he first made the grand effort to turn his suit-encumbered body around and cast his ken upon the grand orb that is our home. The onion, that I had once known to fill the bottom of a pot and then some, was like a speck in the infinite abyss that was Big Pot! It was as if I had thrown a handful of sand into the ocean! My eyes welled up, and not for the reason one might expect when dealing with onions; no, my eyes welled up with an intense sadness.

This sadness, however, was mixed with an altogether less unpleasant emotion, which, in turn, was mixed with fear – it was in this moment that I became aware of the potential that lay before me. With a pot this size, I could, dare I say it… I dare not. Whether I dared to voice this possibility even to myself, I will not reveal. Let us suffice to say, that my mind was instantly filled with ideas so hideous in their scope that I was forced to look away. Big Pot was leading me down disastrous roads, roads that could only end in distinct suffering – not only my own, but the suffering of many a living being. I closed my eyes. They were welling up again; this time, however, it was from the toxic excretions of the onions.

The rest of the soup construction flowed almost like a dream. It seemed as if I was in the kitchen for hours, peeling, slicing, dicing, in a pitiful attempt to fill the depths of Big Pot. Squash, potato, tomato, turnip, lentils – all disappeared into the maw of the pot. A whole cutting board full of ingredients would slide disgracefully into the pot, leaving the pot no fuller. It was as if the soup was being sucked through a portal into an infinite Soup Dimension. I searched through the fridge for ingredients – three quarters of a can of leftover beans went into the pot. Big Pot only laughed.

Before I knew it, the soup was ready. At this point, all sense of perspective had left me. The Pot was an universe unto itself. That things could travel from Big Pot back into this world was nigh inconceivable. But I was hungry – oh, so hungry. I was fatigued, not only physically, from the laborious work of filling the pot, but spiritually too. My mind had been torn asunder and patched back together; I was not the same man I had once been.

I stuck a ladle in the pot, and beheld the dripping monstrosity as I directed it towards a human-sized bowl. I must have appeared as a madman, for, as my wife later told me, I was laughing deliriously throughout this whole procedure. I could not control myself. After removing the ladlefuls necessary to fill my bowl – a bowl that I have always trusted to contain exactly one meals-worth of food – the level of soup in the pot had not changed. Sheer, unbridled mirth filled my soul with this discovery – contained in the pot must be an infinite amount of soup! I ladled another bowl, and found, to no surprise, that the amount of soup left in the bowl remained unchanged.

After dinner, we realized, to our horror, that the rest of the soup would have to be rescued from Big Pot and transferred to refridgeratable vessels. Thankfully, this duty did not fall upon me; having cooked the soup itself, the responsibility for clean-up belonged to my wife. I must admit that I did not stay to watch this event unfold. I escaped to another room; however, I did not escape from the horrific screams that emanated from our kitchen as tupperware after tupperware was exhausted in the attempt to contain this larger-than-should-be-allowed soup.

A day has now passed, but still I dare not peer into the fridge. I could not bear to witness such a scene. The sheer overwhelming mass of soup is sure to drive me to irrecoverable madness. So, I sit at my table, and write out this tale of warning and woe for any reader who may be so courteous as to heed its vital message.

It was a good soup that I made last night. It was a delicious soup, in fact. I may dare to declare that it was one of the most delicious soups that I have ever tasted. But was it worth it? The creation of this soup took me somewhere where no human should ever be; what I brought home is beyond human conception. This experience has made me unlike you, or any member of our specices. I look out upon this world now as something alien, something wholly unlike the man I supposed myself to be yesterday. The trifling sorrows of humankind seem strange to me, as do their fleeting joys. I am numb to all such emotions. My mind is filled to the brim with inhuman knowledge – that which should not be known. That knowledge is intimately connected with that substance that you fain to represent with that monosyllabic word: “Soup.”

Ah, soup! It sounds so easy, so carefree! Yes, it sounds simple enough that even a child could understand! But be not fooled by such notions! It is dangerous, more dangerous than you could ever know! Beware its presence, and take care before you step too far.

Toshikyu Railways Bicycle Parking, Office #73

Hidetaka worked at Toshikyu-Chuo Station on the Toshikyu Railways Green Line in Kanagawa, Japan. The station was in the suburbs, and only local trains stopped there. Most people rode their bikes to the station, took the train two stops north, then transferred to a rapid express that would take them into their offices in southern Tokyo much more quickly. Because of the sheer number of daily commuters, the eastern edge of the train tracks at Toshikyu-Chuo Station was sided with rows upon rows of bicycle parking. Bike racks were stacked on top of bike racks, each adorned with a number.

Continue reading “Toshikyu Railways Bicycle Parking, Office #73”

The Five Biomes You Meet In Heaven

The wind was gusting for it was a gusty day, and Gus was, to put it frankly, disgusted.

The wind was gusting for it was a gusty day, and Gus was, to put it frankly, disgusted. He had set out on his walk in the hopes of discovering where the road led to, and yet he had been on the road for many an hour and the road had failed to lead anywhere. The road in question was the road he lived on; it was the road on which his house had been built. Gus had built the house, and on the top of the house he had placed a large weathervane, in order to know which way the wind was blowing.

Gus’ hair was blowing this way and that. The wind was blustering, it was gustering, and Gus was mustering all his strength to continue forward. In the sky, the wind was calmer, as Gus could tell by observing the movement of the clouds, which passed across the horizon in an orderly manner. Gus often wondered of the clouds, but his wonderings had been fixed lately on an incomprehensible idea involving flying plankton. He had tried to explain it once, to George, at the local convenience store, but George had not quite understood, and Gus had found that the more he explained, the less he had understood himself, and so he gave up, and from then on had decided to keep such ideas inside of his own mind.

Gus was flustered, and the mustard he had spilled on his new shirt make it look as if the shirt had rustered. He had been in a rush to get out that morning; he had known not how far his road would lead him. He had woken up with a start from a dream involving a cold toad, and had heard the road calling in its usual mode.

When Gus reached the end of the road, he found where it had been leading. It scared him, but only a little, and not in the way he had expected. He was on top of a mountain, and looking down, he could see the town of New Rock, Arkansansas. ‘New Rock!’ he exclaimed, in a whisper. It was the town where he had grown up.

Gus rolled down the mountain, crawled through the forest, and strolled his way into town. It was all exactly as he had remembered it, except until this moment, he had not remembered it all. On a crosswalk he recognized Lily Watson, now seventy years old and leaning on a crooked cane. Lily, when young, had worn frilly dresses, and made silly jokes. Now, the dress she wore looked as if she had lay down on a carpet, and upon standing up again had accidentally taken it with her.

The movie theatre still stood, but it was now a cannabis store. The church still stood, but it was now Presbyterian, whereas when he was young it had been Episcopalian. The trees still stood, but now they leaned over a little, and as he ventured into town, he realized that a few of them were laying down. And his old house, where he had grown up – that still stood too, although they had put a door on the garage, and painted the whole house brown, whereas it used to be green. Gus stood for a long time in front of this house. He sang a brief song, and turned around to head home.

The Day After Tomorrow

The following is a piece of writing that I wrote almost four years ago. Thus, it may as well have been written by a different person, in a different life. Let’s agree to call it ‘fiction.’

for you, on the day after tomorrow
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It was one year ago that I received the most beautiful love letter ever written in the English language. I cherished it, and inevitably, I lost it. I remember but one of the words. That word is perhaps the most important word I have ever heard in my life. Continue reading “The Day After Tomorrow”

Crescent Dreams of Sea Breams

There were three people on the beach. Two of them were walking towards their car, chairs awkwardly tucked under their armpits, bags overflowing with towels that dragged along the ground, each wearing multiple hats and pairs of sunglasses. Three kids sat near the car. The kids had raced their parents to the car, and won. They were no longer on the beach. Continue reading “Crescent Dreams of Sea Breams”

Anti-Balckwell

It was a dark evening (11pm at this time was “evening”), and I was sat in a living room larger than half of the basement suites I’ve lived in, listening to Yellow Monkey, playing Geometry Wars 2, and maintaining an hours-long monologue about my history of sleep. I was thinking about sleep because I had been experiencing it in strange ways of late. I had a bed, but the bed was in a small room, and being in the small room felt strange when such a large house was empty and available, so I often found myself falling asleep halfway up a set of stairs, or on a rug on the hardwood floor.

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Kyle When He Was Human

Kyle when he was human killed ten-thousand bugs. Many by accident, to be sure, but many on purpose as well. Not out of cruelty, but because he just wanted them out of his house. Stomping, crushing, swatting, poisoning, flushing down the toilet. Kyle often saw others take a bug who had wandered in back outside. He had done the same thing every now and then, but generally if there was a bug inside, it was going to die.

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Dance of the Dream Man / See You In My Nightmare

It was a cold February afternoon, and the man in the red coat upstairs was hammering nails on his balcony. I could hear him hammering away, and the hammering had such a consistent rhythm to it that it almost became beautiful. Continue reading “Dance of the Dream Man / See You In My Nightmare”